Writing…

My writing has gotten more sporadic this year.

It’s not because I don’t have anything to say.

I’m just not talking.

I’m not allowing myself the outlet to express myself.

I’m struggling to cope.

I’m struggling to cope with his death, with my new life, my kid’s diagnosis, my kid’s health, my job, the pandemic… all of it.

I’m hoping to bring back writing as a way to cope. It worked for a long time. Maybe it can work again.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have things to say that others want to hear.

I haven’t stopped being a widow. I haven’t stopped missing him. I still struggle to navigate a world without him in it.

But I feel like I “should” have it together 8 1/2 years post loss.

I don’t.

I just pretend. A lot.

Grief Storms

We don’t expect them. It’s kinda like living in the Cariboo.

Wait 15 mins, the weather will change.

I had a grief storm in a most unexpected place yesterday.

I have this cyst in my axilla (armpit). Last year it blew up and got infected and I was off work and on IV antibiotics for 10 days. This was a couple weeks after my kid had brain surgery.

Well. The fucker grew back. Within 6 months I could feel it there again.

So I asked for, and got, a referral to a surgeon (Dr M) who said I could remove it or wait and see if it blows up again.

I’m all for the get rid of the problem. A dog that bites will bite again. A cyst that gets infected will again. Or not. But I don’t want to take that chance.

So yesterday.

Yesterday I’m in a stretcher, Dr. M is there, he has a medical student and I ask, “Are you going to let the student do something?”

Yes, yes he will. She’s super grateful.

Dr. M completes the removal. I’m awake through the whole thing. It’s a small cyst. Turns out it was 2 small cysts. Both gone. YAY!!

Dr. M does one stitch, explains to the student how to do the rest (2 of them) and leaves. All is well.

She says to me again that she’s super grateful I let her practice.

I say back, “You’re never gonna get any better if you don’t practice”

And boom. Grief storm.

Because 8 1/2 years ago I said that to a 1st year resident. “You’re never gonna get better if you don’t practice” when he was having a hard time getting an ART line on Mark. Mark couldn’t feel it. Mark didn’t know the difference. And Mark was a good practice subject because he was a difficult start. It took the 4th year resident 7 tries to get the ART line.

So boom. Grief storm.

While I’m laying on a table and a cute medical student going into internal medicine (she thinks) was doing 2 or 3 stitches in my armpit.

There may have been tears. They may have snuck out. I’m grateful she assumed they were related to what she was doing. I didn’t want to have to explain.

This is the thing when you’re 8 1/2 years out. Now it’s about explaining. Especially in a town where everyone knows RyanandJane not MarkandJane.

Explain to someone why you’re crying over something that shouldn’t bring you to tears. A stupid phrase. A few words of encouragement. And I’m standing in that ICU with that resident close to the end of my husband’s life.

Ryan is amazing. He listened to me when I told him about it. He loved me through it.

My throat still hurts though, the unshed tears, the unspoken words, the grief storm that I was forced to swallow because I wasn’t in a place I could cry.

I’m working through a bunch of things with my counselor. They all seem to sit in my throat. The grief, the sadness, the anger, the unspoken words… they all sit there and choke me because I don’t know how to let them go.

Grief storms suck.
But grief storms that are stuck suck worse.

8 Years

Tell me how 8 years has passed?

Tell me how 8 years ago right now (615am) I was waiting for the last of the people to come be a part of his death.

Tell me how, after 8 years, it still seems as surreal as it did the moment it was happening?

I’ve distracted myself fairly well this year.  Worked a shit-tonne of overtime, went and had major surgery on the 24th. I’m post op day 2.

But the tears are still just behind the surface. They are a constant threat today and I’ve only been awake for a couple hours.

I miss him.  I miss his steadfast, calm ways. I miss his laugh. I miss his passion for fishing and the environment.

I don’t have a lot to say today, it’s a quiet sort of grief. It’s a “curl up on the couch, drink coffee, watch sad movies and crochet” kind of grief.

I wrote this post 4 months after he died. And today, I sit, with 4 stab sites in my belly, and stitches where my cervix used to be (are there stitches? I forgot to ask. I imagine they’re dissolveable if they exist) and there’s a distinct physical pain distracting me from the emotional pain.

It works, yo.

But don’t do it on your own.  Find healthy pains to make the emotional pain go away.  Go for a long walk. A hike. Lift weights. Garden. Lift heavy things. Rearrange your furniture.

Physical pain helps with the emotional pain.

I tell ya though. I could do without the gas pain.  The gas pain sucks.

The grief sucks just as much.

8 years.

Forever loved
Forever missed
Forever remembered
Mark W. Smith
May 18, 1963 – June 26, 2012.

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3AM Grief Storm

It’s a little awkward when the grief storm hits at work.

It’s a little more awkward when the grief storm hits at work and it’s been 8 years since he died.

It’s a lot awkward when you just feel like a hot mess all the time because you’re grieving over your long dead husband and no one around you knew him or knew the MarkandJane you were.

There’s no one in my life on a daily basis except my children who knew Mark.

They don’t bring him up to me, I don’t bring him up to them much.

But there’s no one I can talk to and they would *know* when I talked about his laugh or his passion for fishing or the environment or his addiction to WoW.

No one else knows.

I sit in this bubble, where I’m looking out at these people who’ve lived in this town for years and years and have family and friends forever and they all know each other’s history and I don’t have the energy to explain it to them. But I want to. I don’t know if they’d care… either to listen or to hear.

So a grief storm hits, and I’m hiding in the staff room and I’m hoping no one comes in because as much as I need someone to lean on at 3am… these are my co-workers and I don’t know if any of them are going to be friends. Maybe at some point.

But for now… I feel very much alone in my grief.

It’s been 8 years. And I’m blogging again after a couple month hiatus. I even missed blogging on his birthday. But here I am, with all these thoughts and feelings and words in my head that need to come out because I feel alone. And lost. And I miss him.

And it’s 3:25am. I still have 3 1/2 hours of work left before I can go home and have a cry and snuggle up to my live husband and let sleep take over.

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Another Anniversary

It’s been a while since I last wrote. So much is going on in my life and I don’t really get a chance to sit down and process. I don’t take the time to write about my fitness (non) journey, or my widowed journey or my life in general.

Today is June 19.

In one week it will have been 8 years since Mark died.

His name doesn’t come up very often anymore.

No one talks about him but me.

The kids are moving on with their lives, the two oldest  with kiddos of their own. I don’t know if either of them talk to their kids about Grandpa.

It makes me sad.

There’s a line from a song by Macklemore

I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave
And the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name

I try to keep mentioning his name. I want to keep him alive for as long as I can.

This is the first year that I haven’t walked into June fighting my own brain. It’s the first year since he died that my brain hasn’t tried to convince me that death is an option.

My grief has changed. It’s no longer a sunburn that hasn’t healed… it doesn’t remind me in sharp burning pains when something touches it that it’s. still. there.

It’s now a dress I pull out of the closet that I haven’t worn in a while. I put it on, dance around in it for a while, and when I need to get back to my life, I put it away again.

As I write this, tears are welling up. My nose is burning and my throat is closing. I could take a step or two into the memories, into the pain and just let it wash over me. Wear the grief like a dress I had almost forgotten about.

Or I could put it back in the suitcase in my mind, sit on the emotions and lock that sucker up.  It stays locked up easier these days.

I don’t know how my grief will look in 5 years or 10 year or even in 6 months.

I do know that I miss him. But I have to step out of the minutae of my life back to being “Mark’s Wife” in order to miss him with the same ferocity and intensity that I missed him with so easily before.

But as long as I keep mentioning his name. As long as I can keep him alive with my memories… He’ll always be there. And I’ll always be able to step back into that love and grief before I put it away again.

Forever loved.
Forever remembered.
Mark W. Smith
May 18, 1963 – June 26, 2012

Mark in Fruitvale

Smell Ya Later

Note to readers:  this is a blog post that was in drafts from 2013. I didn’t post it then, I don’t know why.  I’m not sure where the deodorant went. But that smell. I miss it. 

I’ve finally got some time to go through and read the blogs I’ve been missing.  Gawd I’ve been missing them.  THIS daily prompt caught my eye and I needed to write…

I keep a couple of things at my bedside, on my vanity table.   One is the collection of dimes from the last 14 months.  The other is a half used men’s deodorant.

It was Mark’s.  I am blessed.  I have a video of him talking so I get to hear his voice.  I have pictures that remind me what he looks like.   I have in that same video, his laugh.  Oh how I miss his laugh.

But his smell.  That is elusive.  He had scent issues.  He couldn’t wear colognes.  He would occasionally – just for me – but he’d suffer for it later with headaches.

But his deodorant… He’d get out of the shower, put it  on and usually I’d get a hug or a kiss and I’d smell it on him.

If I open that half used deodorant, (and I won’t tell you how often, that’s between Mark and I) for a moment… For just a moment… I’m in his arms.  I can feel his presence behind me, beside me, near me.

For that moment, the world springs back into place and the pain is gone and the loss is gone and for that moment… The last 20 months have been erased and I’m back at that night just before he got sick, and my world makes sense.

And then, I put the cap back on the deodorant, the grief and the loss and the reality hits me again and the discombobulation of what my life is comes firmly back into my consciousness.

As I get closer to moving day, the deodorant comes out more often.  I’m saying goodbye to my life here and the grief is stronger and hits me harder and I while I’m so excited for the future, I’m terrified of losing the past entirely.

So I take myself back in time to when the word “widow’ didn’t apply to me, and there was a clear path in front of me.

The adventure ahead of me is exciting and full of promise…. but I can’t help but peek back through the door I’ve walked through to see what I’ve left behind….

I feel you

Not Ready

I struggled with a title for this one.

I’m on night shift, on the ALC ward, which means they’re sleeping.

I do my hourly rounds, make sure they’re all still breathing, but once my chores were done, there’s not much else to do.

So I watch Netflix.

I’ve been watching Timeless again. I want to re-watch the seasons before I watch the finale.

Tonight, for whatever reason, I put on Grey’s Anatomy.  I know what happens in Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve watched the entire series a few times. It makes me bawl every freaking time.

This time? This time I turned it off just after the opening scene.  The one where Derek and Meredith slept together? Where she kicked him out first thing? yeah, that one.

I turned it off because the promise of the (very fictional, I know) love they shared, the promise of the heartache they’d go through to finally find their happily ever after, only to get to the end where she has to say goodbye?  That was brought to my attention, and the immediate pain of loss hit me.

Yeah, Derek Shepherd is a fictional character.  Meredith Grey is a fictional widow.  But I am a real life widow and their story resonates. Her loss? It sucker punches me in ways no other fictional show has done.  Shonda Rhimes did SO MUCH right with that story line.

And so while checking charts, I put on some music. My Spotify playlist which includes some music from my kid. And THIS SONG comes on. (you need spotify to listen to it – here’s a YouTube link) Normally, I turn it off.

Apparently tonight I was a sucker for punishment. I let it play.

And I cried.

At work.

In the middle of the night.

Good thing I don’t have any co-workers nearby.  At least not near enough to see/question/empathize.

And I realized, regardless of the fact that I am almost 8 years out.  Regardless of the fact that I’ve remarried. Regardless of the fact that my life looks NOTHING like what it did….

I’m STILL not ready to say goodbye to a man who I love with all my heart. As soon as he comes to mind, the pain is hot, intense and immediate.

I can remember and smile at the good times. I can tell the stories without crying. I can tell the tale of his death without breaking down.

But it still fucking hurts. 7 years later. As if it just happened.

I’m not fucking ready to say goodbye.

 

I Grieve For You

I didn’t expect to.  You are a stranger to me.

You weren’t my patient.

You weren’t my friend.

I didn’t know you.

I wasn’t part of the team that tried to save you.

But I grieve for you.

A life cut short.  Similar age to my children.

For what?

Parents cry tonight.

Siblings mourn.

Cousins and extended family are brokenhearted.

A family is torn apart – a vital piece of it missing, gone forever.

I grieve for them too.

The family with the weight of your loss forever etched in their minds and hearts.

I grieve for the friends who are left behind.

The ones who saw the friend who died, the friends who saw the one who could have been, should have been.

I grieve for them.  The family. The friends. The acquaintances.

I grieve a referred grief.

You could have been my child. I could have been the mother. The sibling. The cousin and extended family. I could have been the friend or acquaintance.

I was the wife.

And I grieve for the losses no one expects.

I grieve for you tonight.

Merry Christmas

This is the 8th without you.

The 8th Christmas without your whacked sense of humour.

The 8th Christmas with a piece of my heart missing.

This is the 8th Christmas I’ll be missing you.

It’s a short and sweet post…because I have no deep words of wisdom.

I miss you.

I miss your self.

I miss us.

I miss everything we were.

8 Christmas’s and so much has changed – but yet one fact remains.

I miss you. I miss us.

There will always be a seat at the table for you.

Love you forever.

IMGP5742This was our first Christmas without you.