Happy and Sad

My Facebook feed is full of two types of posts today:

I’M SO HAPPY AND IN LOVE AND I HAVE THE BEST SPOUSE EVER!

and

I’M SO SAD BECAUSE I MISS MY DEAD SPOUSE

interspersed with the occasional:

HAPPY SINGLES AWARENESS DAY!  and the memes that go along with that.

And on one hand… I am so very happy with my husband (who is currently making me breakfast as I type) and very much in love with him.

On the other…. I miss the guy who first told me 21 years ago that he loves me. 21 years. That’s how long we’d have been together. That’s how long I’ve loved that man.

6 years ago he woke from his coma, remembered it was our “in love” anniversary and told me.

Today… a completely different man loves me and tells me that every day.

So it is a happy/sad day. A good/bad day. A day of love and a day of grief.

But that’s the way it always is…

Happy 21st anniversary my Love.  I will love you for the rest of my life.

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Life vs Death

Tonight at work a husband became a widower.  His wife took her last breaths.

A few hours later a child made his way into the world. He took his first breaths.

This is the nature of my job.

Neither of these two (three) people were my patients, nor was I directly involved in the death or the birth moments.

I can’t help but think about what children were born into the world while my husband was taking his last breaths. The children who are 6 1/2 years old now, in grade 1, their parents marveling at the fact that their children growing up so fast?

I think about the moments that have happened since that day… the things I’ve accomplished, the new members of our family, the changes to the people in my life.

I think about the moments that are going to happen in that husband’s life. The new things he’ll do without her, the new people he’ll meet who don’t know him as her husband, the new life he’ll live.

I think about the firsts that the new baby will bring to his parent’s lives.  The first smile, the first steps the first day at grade 1….

Mostly, I think about how life changes, how much life and death I am surrounded by.

I think about how life is not static, how it changes and how we are not ready for any of those changes no matter how much we prepare.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before – it’s a part of my job and it affects me.

But I’m still amazed at how fast life changes so dramatically. In the space of 3 hours, one life ended and another began.  And nothing will ever be the same for those people again.

Nothing is the same in my life. 7 years since he went into the hospital.  6 years since my life changed dramatically and keeps changing.

This year, the pain of losing him seems particularly hard. I don’t know why.  I’m in my 7th year since it all began and the memories and grief seem to be overwhelming me more than they have the past couple years.

There’s an old saying… time heals all wounds.  I suppose time does, but the wounds in my heart, much like a deep, surgical cut.. will leave a scar that is nothing like the surrounding skin. The scar will always pull and hurt when I move it the wrong way, unlike the skin around it.

I will forever hurt and for some reason, it hurts more right now. For some reason… I’m grieving harder.

I’d like to tell the new widower that it gets better – but it doesn’t. It gets different.

I’d like to tell the new mom that life has just gotten better – but it hasn’t. It’s gotten different.

Life doesn’t stay the same, it changes. And change can be painful.

And because my writing of this has been interrupted by my patient’s needs – it feels disjointed to me.

I miss Mark with all my heart and soul. So much so that the grief spills over into other parts of my life.

I grieve for the man who’s name I don’t know who lost his wife today. I cry happy tears for the new family.

And every day I get the honour of being a part of, no matter how peripheral, moments like those.

Merry Christmas 2018

Every year it becomes more and more apparent that you’re gone. Stupid eh?  I mean, I know you’ve been gone from the moment you took your last breath.

But pictures don’t lie.

I’m taking new pictures, creating new memories, and everything is changing.

But the pictures I have of you are all the same.  There’s no new ones. No Christmas 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2015, 2017 and now there won’t be a Christmas 2018.

Seven fucking Christmas’s without you. Without making memories with you. Without sharing the life we planned.

Seven.

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven Christmas’s without you.

But here we are again, my Love.  A Christmas without you, without the traditions we had, without you sharing in the joy of being a Daddy, and now a Grandpa.

Thank you for the dime I found today. Thank you for reminding me that you’re still here and still around.

I miss you.

Merry Christmas.

Nobody Knows

7 years ago everyone knew me as MarkandJane.

They knew that Mark and Jane were an entity.  They knew Mark’s love of fishing, flyfishing especially. They knew that he had disabilities (although he was careful not to show anyone else how bad it could get).  They knew he adored his kids, and they knew that he was the primary parent in our household.

They knew he was well read, articulate although they might not have known he wasn’t formally educated.

They knew he liked to play World of Warcraft.  I was the only one who knew that he waited until he was alone to do so. He’d tuck me into bed, snuggle for a bit, then get up and go do his thing while I slept.

They knew he was passionate about the environment.  He was angry beyond belief when the train derailed and sanitized the Cheakamus River. And he was heartbroken over it.

They knew he was the go-to guy for all things fishing.

They knew he was an amazing cook who made incredible Bailey’s latte’s.

They knew he and I had an incredible connection, an incredible Love that spans time, distance and death.

And now… I am married to Ryan.  And no one I know up here knows anything about Mark.

How could they? I moved up here a year after he died. I knew no one up here when I moved.

NO ONE KNOWS.

So how the FUCK, if they don’t know… am I supposed to explain to them why I’m crying randomly? Why a stupid song will reduce me to rubble? Why I start leaking for seemingly no reason?

How am I supposed to explain to anyone who sees me in the middle of a grief storm how much it still hurts every. single. day. that he’s gone.

Widows always feel the need to explain… “I DO love my living husband… but…”

It’s horrible. Unless you’ve lived it, how do you explain to someone how much you miss the dead husband even as you’re snuggled up to the live one?

I don’t go looking for grief triggers – but lately they’re finding me. And the leaking has started again.  Randomly, without warning or control.

And at 6 1/2 years out… I look like a mentally and emotionally unstable person instead of a grieving widow.

Which really sucks.

I miss this look:

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I miss the love that shone out of his eyes whenever he looked at me. I see it in all the pictures.  Times I didn’t realize he was looking at me like that.

And so I grieve in this new world of “Mark who?” and hope that the people who catch me at it understand that I’m not emotionally unstable – I’m just missing him.

Birth and Death

My newest grandchild was born two weeks ago at 10:17am.

She was a perfect 9lbs 2oz.

One minute, there was a pregnant daughter with one child… the next, there was a new little human being.

Ok, maybe longer than a minute.  But you know what I mean. It was a shift in our worlds.  She went from momma of 1 to momma of 2.

It seems somewhat surreal… just like when he died.  One minute I was a wife, the next?  A widow.

Life happens in moments.  The moment of birth. The moment of death. The moment of “I do.”

Life happens when you least expect it.  And it’s all intertwined. Changes happen and life continues and you miss someone so fiercely you can’t breathe and you love someone new so fiercely you can’t breathe and it’s ALL THERE AT ONCE.

I miss Mark with every fibre of my being.

I love my grandchildren to the moon and back.

I love Ryan with every fibre of my being.

None of these are in conflict with the other. None of these cancel out the other.

One moment I was a wife, the next a widow.

One moment I was a widow/girlfriend/fiance, the next I was a wife.

One moment my daughter was pregnant, the next I had a new baby granddaughter.

Birth and death and everything in between. Everything changes in a moment.

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I Fucking Forgot

19 year today.

I forgot. Sometime last week I had remembered – but this morning I woke up and the date didn’t register.

Until I looked at my phone and saw the memories.

I tried to put it out of my mind… my husband was laying in bed with me, getting all frisky, and I wanted to get frisky as well.

Except he’s sometimes incredibly perceptive and asked what was wrong.

I’m like.. yah… I’m fine… and tried to kiss him… and then he asked again…and there, in the middle of getting frisky with my new husband, I’m crying over the dead one.

Did I mention how amazing my Sexxy Chef is?

He held me close. Loved me. Let me cry.

And I spent the day in and out of tears and sadness.

But he let me cry. He loved me. He held me while I cried over my dead husband.

Truth is… I’ll never stop loving or missing the dead guy. I’ll never stop missing him or wishing he’d not died.

Especially on days like today.

Happy (would have been) 19th Anniversary my love.  You will always have a piece of my heart. I will love you as long as I live. Thank you for loving me and allowing me to be your happily ever after, until death do us part.

Mar & Jane Wedding

Dealing with Death

After my husband died, I went into nursing.

Seems like an odd choice of careers – after spending 159 days watching my husband get better, get sicker, get better, get sicker and finally die – that I would choose a profession that would force me to watch people get better, get sicker and die.

I’m a Licensed Practical Nurse now. I work with people who are mostly stable. My scope of practice says that I deal with patients who have a stable, predictable state of health.

Except when I’m a part of a code team.  The code team deals with trauma, cardiac arrest and other life threatening situations.

The hospital I work at allows LPN’s to do 1 of 2 jobs on the code team: compressions or record.

In order to record, you must have taken a course – which I have not – so I frequently am the compressions person. (Or code white – but that’s a different role)

At 0625 this morning, Code Blue was called. ETA 5 mins or something like that.  That means – 3 of us from the floor are running to the ER prepared to try to save someone’s life. And we ran. And heard the 2nd call – Mat (something I didn’t hear) Stat.

On the elevator, waiting to go to the 1st floor, we talked – was the Mat call related to the Code Blue? We hoped not.

We were wrong.

This was my first code where I was responsible for compressions.  My first code where I was not a student, or a new grad or anything but JUST ANOTHER TEAM MEMBER.

And my job was as important as the others. I was part of the team.

The report we were given when we got to the ER?  14 day old baby in cardiac arrest.

W. T. Everloving F?

My brain raced – do I remember how to do compressions on an infant? I didn’t get to do the NRP – will I be enough? Should I excuse myself? Could I handle this? Tears were welling up in my eyes and the baby wasn’t even there yet. How can I possibly be an effective nurse, an effective member of the team when I can’t control my emotions?

And then they arrived. I watched the EMT perform compressions. I took several breaths.  Waited until they were done report before tapping him on the shoulder and letting him know I could take over.

And then I did.

And my world narrowed to just what I was doing.  Trying to focus on the tiny human in front of me, willing her to breathe on her own, her heart to beat on its own. Listening and watching the RN’s around me do their job with amazing precision and execution.  Watching the doctor and the nurses move together like a well orchestrated team.

And I was doing my part.  Ignoring the cries and heartbreak of the parents behind me, beside me, in front of me. Because the moment I allowed them to penetrate my consciousness – my emotions came back.

We worked on that baby for 43 minutes.

43 minutes we kept going – hoping beyond hope that we weren’t too late.

43 minutes.

That beautiful little girl did not get to see her 15th day. She won’t get to see her 1st birthday, her 16th, have kids, get married, break hearts. She won’t get to learn to crawl, walk or talk.

It’s moments like this – that I question my ability to be a nurse.  Moment’s like this that I wonder if I have the emotional fortitude – especially given my own trauma and grief – to carry on and support the families of those who die.

I walked out of the ER, down the corridor and was overcome with big ugly cries at the elevator.  Grieving for a life cut short.

I got to the top of the elevator, grabbed my stuff (end of shift and all) and got to the staff entrance to the parking lot and just outside, my knees buckled… more big ugly cries. Grieving with the parents who have to face life without their child.

In my car – crying on my way home – pull into my driveway and bawl. Grieving for myself having spent about 1/2 those 43 minutes hoping for a miracle.

I will cry over this little girl – who’s name I never got – for a while. It will make me a better nurse, better caregiver. I will learn the things I want to learn and do and be because we learn from the mistakes we make, the situations we experience and the things we do in nursing.  We don’t learn from books -we learn from experiences.

I wonder.  Did Mark’s nurses cry with me when they got off shift?  Did they grieve? I like to think so. They’re who inspired me to become a nurse – and I can’t imagine they were not affected by what happened.

I get it now though. I remember asking at the beginning – how do you separate feelings from work?

You just do.  You stuff it into a box, and let it out when you’re in a safe place and can feel.

Because when you walk away from the tiny human who doesn’t get to go home… you still have a job to do – and the rest of your patients need you.