Never Forgotten

It’s been a softer year this year.

The pain hasn’t been as intense.

The longing hasn’t been as intense.

And most importantly, I haven’t spent the past month or so fighting my brain.  Suicide hasn’t been an option.

For the past 4 years, my brain has been telling me that suicide is an option around this time of year.  This year? That hasn’t happened.

I’ve looked towards those further out in this journey than me to see how I might react as days and months go by.  2nd year was harder than the first just like they said.  Things got harder and easier, just like they said.

But around 5 years, it seems that widows and widowers start to diverge.  There’s those who are still grieving hard and then there’s those for whom it gets softer.

That’s not to say that those who are grieving hard haven’t moved forward, some of them are remarried and some are still alone.  And for the ones who it’s gotten softer, they are either still alone or remarried.  There is no hard and fast rules.  It just comes down to a matter of there being some who are grieving hard still and some for whom the grief has softened somewhat.

And for me, things have softened.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still have days of ugly cries.  I have moments of tears leaking down my face while I’m almost unaware of it. I have days where the pain is still so intense I can’t breathe.

But those days are further apart.  Those moments happen less often.  And the pain doesn’t last as long as it used to.

So here I am. June 26.  The day he died 5 years ago. Getting ready for work.

And this is what I mean by softer.

Every other year I have been unable to function.  This year… I’m going to work with people who will trigger memories and tweak the pain.  This year, I did not take the day off like I normally do.

This year… I’m living.

He is never far from my mind.  His name is said on a fairly regular basis. He will never be forgotten as long as I live, as long as my children live.

He died. It devastated me. I almost died with him (there’s an actual study on that.  People DO die of a broken heart!)

But this year I’m living.

This year I’m going to go care for people who may or may not have the chance to go  home. (Some do, some don’t)

This year, I’m going to love the hell out of anyone who needs it.

This year, I’m going to lean into the man who has embraced ALL of me, and offered me a future.

This year, I’m going to say his name, watch the memorial video and then roll over to snuggle my Sexxy Chef and get some sleep because I have to go back to work tomorrow.

I miss him, terribly.

Mark W. Smith
May 18, 1963 – June 26, 2012
Forever Loved
Forever Missed
Forever Remembered

 

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I Said YES!!

Sometimes, the world conspires to make you incredibly, irrevokably happy.

On November 5, in the early hours of the morning, my Sexxy Chef proposed to me.

Of course I said YES!!

 

 

 

The ring is being sized. I can’t wear it for a couple weeks – and that’s ok.

The date has been chosen.  Location is 95% sure – I just need to see it again and confirm that YES, I can set up the wedding the way I want in the space that’s available.

Plans… plans… and more plans.

Love happens again.  Happiness happens again.

It’s the weirdest thing, being so incredibly, amazingly happy – with that thread of sorrow going through it all.

The guilt of “how can I be this happy when he’s still dead?”

Going through so many things that I did for the first wedding.  Making plans.

I don’t even know how to explain it.

I’m ridiculously HAPPY and I want to shout it to the world.  I can’t wait to start my life with my Sexxy Chef.  I can’t wait to be Mrs. Sexxy Chef.

But I’ve been Mrs. Smith for the majority of my adult life.  It will be 19 years of being Mrs. Smith when I become Mrs. Sexxy Chef.

That’s weird to me.  Never mind the fact that I’m trying to wrap my head around what will be my new name.

New Beginnings

I’ve got an amazing new beginning ahead of me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But man… did I have to lose so much to get what’s ahead of me?

I’m happy. I’m in love.  I’m looking forward to a long, happy, healthy future with my Sexxy Chef.

But I want to tell my Mark all about how happy I am.  He’d be happy for me.  He’d celebrate with me.

Long live love.

I Just Found Out…

4+ years.

And I get a message:  I’ve been thinking about Mark a lot lately and thought I’d look him up and just found out he’d passed….

4+ years.

Shouldn’t the times of having to tell people be over by now?

Shouldn’t the moments of having to console someone while I’m crying be over?

They aren’t.  And that’s ok.

I was given a gift this morning.  A gift of someone who wanted to talk about Mark. Who remembers Mark.  Who can tell me stories I didn’t know of Mark.

That, my fellow widows, is the most amazing gift of all.

Yes, I cried.

Yes, I was sad.

But OMG…. to be able to hear someone talk about Mark and tell me the stories they remember… that is a gift.

And then I was given another gift… the gift of unconditional love.  The gift of my Sexxy Chef loving me, holding me while I cried, kissing away my tears, then making me smile because he is *that* awesome.

I’m blessed in so many ways.

I love my life.  I love the life Before … and the life After…

But thank you to whatever part of the universe that blessed me with the gift of memories of Mark… even if they weren’t mine.

17 Years

As I write this, my new Love is in our bed, sleeping peacefully because he has to work in the morning.  I have no where to be; I have some stuff to do at home but for the most part, my next 3 weeks are my own.

I snuck out of the bedroom. I wanted a few minutes to myself to write this post and I haven’t managed to get them today.  It’s been a busy day.  My friend from Vancouver Island was up visiting this weekend.  My daughter was over printing pictures of my grandson. The drive to the airport was just over an hour and when I got home, there were extra people in the house.

It’s hard to just feel when there are people around.  My house was too people-y.

On the way back from the airport, I had a cry. I talked to him. I yelled at him.I raged against the unfairness of it all.

I was supposed to have 50 years with him and I got barely 14. Not quite 13 married.

There’s a part of me that still rages about that.  Because, yanno, I miss him.  I miss his smile. I miss his laugh.  I miss the look in his eyes when he thought I wasn’t noticing.

But there’s the part of me that doesn’t.

I have a beautiful life in so many ways.

I’m going  back to school – and able to make a difference in other people’s lives.

I’ve met people who are amazing and fun and make a HUGE difference in mine.

I’ve got a new love who loves me intensely.

I’ve got a good life.

And none of it.  NONE of it would have happened if he was still here.

I miss him. I miss my Mark with so much intensity that I don’t know how to breathe when I think of it.

I miss him.  And I’m grateful for every. single. day. I got with him. He taught me so much and allowed me to become more myself than I would have been able to without him.

I wish I could be celebrating the end of an amazing day with Mark. I wish he were here to see his grandsons.  I wish, with all my heart, that we had gotten those 50 years.

But as the saying goes… if wishes were horses…

I can’t change the past. I can honour him, honour our life together, do good for other people, but I can’t change the past.

Happy Anniversary my Love.  I will love you for the rest of my life. You left me with beautiful memories, four amazing children, and a lifetime of love. I was your happy ever after. I got the fairy tale of “until death” and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d love you and walk that journey with you again if I were asked – even knowing that our paths would diverge.

I love you.

2 Weddings and an Anniversary

This summer has been my summer of weddings.

My nephew got married.

My friend renewed her vows.

My wedding anniversary is in 3 days.

The vow renewal was bittersweet, joyous and painful, and oh so heart tugging.  I cried.

You see, my friends, who are beautiful together, who you can see the love and the joy in them, renewed their vows in their 15th year of marriage.

Mark and I were supposed to have renewed our vows on our 15th wedding anniversary.

We didn’t get that opportunity.

So I sit there, with the beautiful people, watching them do exactly what I wanted to do, and say words I would have said, and I am sad for me, but oh so happy for them.

That was 5 days ago.

And in 3 days I get to “celebrate” what would have been 17 years of marriage.  Together 18 1/2. And loved forever.

It was a bittersweet night for me to be there, watch them go through that, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Apparently I’ve been invited to another wedding in a couple weeks.

I’ll celebrate her and the beginning of her life together with her new husband.  I’ll cry, and everyone will think they’re happy tears.  And I”ll pretend they are.

Because they don’t need the big sad widow ruining the beauty of a new beginning with the reminder of how it can end.

Weddings are amazing, beautiful, wonderful and bittersweet for me.

I have a new love/hate relationship with them.

My_Bruised_Heart_by_murtada_king (1)

She Died

I have said from day one that I need my first death in nursing to be during clinical, so that I had a safe place to process it. I wanted the support of my classmates and instructor to help me go through it.

I’ve been in my 2nd clinical rotation for the past 4 weeks. It was in a long term care facility.  The clients there are residents for the rest of their lives. They are admitted… knowing they’ll never go home.  Most of them have MOST directives of M1.

This means do nothing.  If they are dying, they get comfort care only, no extraordinary measures to save their lives.

Over the weekend, before my last 3 days of clinical, one of the residents had a huge decline. She was put on palliative care. Her daughter flew in to be at her side. They didn’t expect her to last long.

I advised my instructor, and followed the LPN/care aides in her care.  She wasn’t my assigned client, she wasn’t in my assigned “family” of residents, but in the 3 weeks prior, she had been someone I had seen frequently because she sat at the same table as my assigned clients.

One of the first things I remember about her is that she was singing along to the music playing during lunch. She was so sweet.

Her daughter was incredible.  She had taught nursing for many years, and was ok with nursing students watching and learning from the experience.

Yesterday, it was clear that she wasn’t going to be long in this world. I knew that this was my opportunity – that I needed to *be* a nurse in this instance.  I started with a “safe” family member – the son-in-law – and asked him if there was anything I could do for him, and let him know that I was available if he needed anything.  He seemed surprised and grateful that I had asked.

At lunch, a quick conversation with my instructor and having to take baby steps in learning to deal with it, letting her know that I wasn’t hiding from what was happening, that I was taking as much time with the resident as I had before.

After lunch, after feeding one of my clients, I felt brave enough to go in and talk to the daughter.

It was an incredible conversation. We talked about her dying mother.  We talked about my goals in nursing.  We talked about her cousin who’s an ICU nurse. We talked about her cousin’s daughter who was in ICU for the same thing that Mark was. We talked about books.  We talked about the waiting game.  We talked about my experiences with Mark and what killed him.

And I stood there, talking to a woman who was about to lose her mother, and I didn’t lose my composure.

My biggest fear: I was scared to approach any of the family and burst out in tears. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to maintain any sort of professional demeanor.  I was afraid that all the emotions and feelings and memories would overwhelm me and I’d breakdown, again, at clinical. I was afraid I would be unable to maintain the professional buffer of emotions I needed to be an effective nurse.

I am that person that confronts my fears, steps into the chaos to find the pattern and doesn’t hide from potentially painful situations.  When I am ready to face them, I step into them full force.  My counselor has called me the most self-aware person she’s ever worked with.

I confronted them yesterday.

And today she died. I had said to a friend of mine that while death sucks, we knew she was dying and could she please do it in the morning when there was time for me to learn from it?

Then, she died.

I had checked on the daughter almost as soon as I came in. Let her know that I was there, and was there anything she needed?  There wasn’t.

15 minutes into my shift, one of the other care aides came out asking for a nurse to come pronounce. I immediately walked back to the room to comfort the daughter. I needed to put myself in that space. I needed to confront that fear of what would I do if a client died?

I was there for her. I spoke to her and offered comfort, and stepped out when I felt appropriate.

I went with the nurse to help prepare the body.

I went with the nurse when the funeral home showed up to pick her up.

I watched as they pulled her over from the bed to a stretcher and zipped the shroud around her.

I watched as they covered her in their blanket.

I watched as they covered her in the dignity blanket.

I watched as they wheeled her past… and I hugged the daughter briefly and told the story about how the first time I met her she was singing along to the music.

I was able to face the one thing that terrified me as a nurse, and I was able to do it in a way that helped me to care for the client, the client’s family and myself.

She died today.  And I was able to learn from that experience. I was able to face fears. I was able to watch, remember and move forward.

I will always remember the sweet woman who sung wordlessly to the music that was playing on the radio, while eating her lunch. She may have died, but I will always remember her. In her last moments, she made SUCH a huge difference in my life.  For that, I thank her. And while I will maintain her privacy and dignity by not naming names, I will keep her in my heart forever.

Grey's Anatomy

Finding Love Again

I’ve gone through a couple boyfriends since Mark died.

One was just for fun (George – he was my happy place) and the other I thought was my chapter 2 (my Metalhead Poet) but wasn’t.

I’ve hurt.  I’ve cried. I’ve gone on a number of crappy first dates through Plenty of Fish.  I had almost decided that I’m not destined to find love again.

And then I did. I found my Sexy Chef.

I met him on POF. Had a date.  Threatened to kill him. (literally – I said to him “I’m going to kill you if you don’t let me sleep).  Had another date.  Got into a fight type thing.  Told him flat out that I didn’t want to date him, and that I was happy to be friends but for a number of reasons (the fight being one of them) I didn’t want to date him.

We became friends. We talked.  A lot. And then… I started to fall for him.

He traveled six hours to take a chance that perhaps we might have a real connection.

We do.

We have an amazing connection. I’ve fallen in love with a man who is kind, considerate, respectful, loving, caring and so passionate and supportive about me being me.

We mesh well.  We communicate well. We… … do other things well. We are very compatible.

This weekend, I met his family – most of them. We spent a night with his mom and step-dad, his brother and his sister-in-law and his niece and nephews.

They are lovely people. Really freaking awesome people. Despite my overwhelming anxiety before I got there, I was quickly made to feel welcome and I felt at home.

It’s amazing, finding love again. Finding the place where bliss and joy meet in a potential future. And discovering that I can open my heart again.  Being able to place my heart in someone else’s hands, and trust that he will keep it safe… that is an amazing thing.

I have found love again. And it’s beautiful. And he loves me. In all my beautiful broken-ness.

One Day