The Month of Changes

So much has happened in the past 37 days.

It started with a bachelorette party. On my dead husband’s birthday. Weirdness and shit. But fun.  Glitter dicks everywhere. Drunk me danced the night away. Drunk me decided to walk home late in the night with one of my bridesmaids.  Drunk me had a good time.  Hungover me was not impressed with drunk me. It was a weird thing, celebrating my upcoming nuptuals with a new guy on my dead guy’s birthday. My daughter planned the day and it was fantastic.

Then the wedding.  What a glorious, fantastic day. It was amazing and magical and incredible. My Smith family showed up which made it so much better. I stood there at my reception, staring at what is now all 6 branches of my family. The Smiths, the Cavanaghs, the Teichmans, the Mortimers, the Leylands, and the Beech’s. As I said then… some people are blessed to find one great love in their life. I have been blessed to find two. Loving my Sexxy Chef does not mean my love for my dead guy has changed. The heart expands and grows to encompass more love. And I am blessed far more than I feel I deserve with all the love that surrounds me.

Fairy Tale Wedding
Photo credit Throughout Time Photography

Last night… my 3rd child graduated. Mark was watching, somewhere, I know. The tiny baby who was smaller than our cat at the time… is now a grown up adult. Graduated from high school.  Ready to start life as an adult. But in that face… I still see the tiny baby. I still see the tiny human who kept me up for an hour every hour. And I remember all the plans we had, the promises we made, the hopes and dreams we had for the future and our children and grandchildren…

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Andrew Grad 2018

My heart hurts for all that he’s missing. But my heart is full of love and life and laughter at the same time. It’s a strange dichotomy.

It is June 23. Typically the time between May 18 and June 26 is a slow progression of increasing stress and pain and fighting to convince my brain that suicide is not an option. With all that has happened it has kept me distracted from that. It’s amazing how much LIVING can keep me from wanting to die.

I still hurt though. I sat in my living room last night, fighting tears, fighting the pain of him not being here, not really succeeding but holding it together enough.

The excitement is all done.  The planning/preparation for the wedding is complete.  Graduation has passed. And I’m faced with 3 more days before his angelversary.

I’m left with my thoughts, my feelings, and the reality of somehow balancing my love and excitement of being married to my new husband with the abject, overwhelming pain of not having my dead husband here. I’m not sure how to balance that. Any suggestions would be fantastic.

On the drive up to decorate the hall for my wedding, my graduate asked me why we had a picture of Dad. I said it was to go on the display of people who we miss and wish were here.  He was like… …ok… and I laughed and said… of course if Dad was here, we wouldn’t be doing this.  He laughed as well…and we carried on.

Such is the strange dichotomy of a remarried widow, a new wife, who has been blessed with a man who loves her enough to accept all of her… the past, the present and the future.

I am blessed.

Holding Hands Ceremony
Photo credit Throughout Time Photography

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‘Twas the Night Before the Wedding…

Can this be the only time I write this blog?  The night before my wedding?

Because I don’t believe in divorce.  And I sure as FUCK don’t want to be widowed twice…

So tonight, before I marry my Sexxy Chef, I’d like to make sure this is the only time I write, on my widows blog, that this is the night before my wedding.

I am full of conflicting emotions.

Excitement to be his wife.

Sad to let go of the name I’ve had for the majority of my adult life.

There was a conversation between my future sister-in-law and me tonight while we were decorating.

In the “memorial” for those who have passed… we included Mark.

She asked, somewhat hesitantly, “Is Ryan ok with this?”

Yes, yes he is.  He’s ok with it. He knows that I’m not coming into this marriage fresh and free with no past. He knows that part of my heart forever belongs to Mark.  He’s ok with it because Mark was my past and he is my future.

I don’t stop being a widow because I’m getting married.

I don’t just turn off the feelings about my dead husband because I’m about to have a live husband.

Changing my name doesn’t change how I feel about the men I love.

But I am blessed to have someone who loves me enough to walk through fire with me, to weather the grief storm with me, to build a future on a foundation of love with me.

So on the night before my wedding… sleeping alone in my bed for the first time in a long while… I get to reflect on how lucky I am to have loved, not once, but twice, enough to wear the title of wife. How lucky I am to have been someone’s happily ever after. How lucky I am that tomorrow, I get to marry the man I will spend the rest of my life loving.

Part of my vows to him:

I can’t promise to love you for the rest of your life, but I promise I will love you for the rest of mine. 

I will love Mark for the rest of my life.  I will love Ryan for the rest of my life.

My heart is big enough to love them both.

The Damned Parking Spot… and other triggers…

I pulled into the parking lot at the pizza place. I had just under 20 mins to get my pizza and get back to work – half hour break does not give me much time to clear my head.

I looked down at the parking space. It had one of those concrete barriers in front of the store-front protecting the walkway and the pizza store.

I could faintly read the letters “Video Update Parking Only”

Oh fuck I gotta tell Mark this….

Oh wait.  I can’t.

Sadness washed over me.  Not the deep, broken, painful grief storm that hits me when a trigger gets me, but the sadness of “oh yeah… that’s gone” and the reminder that for a moment, I forgot and I wanted to tell him something.

Something he’d think was funny.  Something he could relate to but no one else in my life could.

A Video Update store I’d never been to but I knew where it was now. It was on the cusp of his territory as District Manager.  He managed from Williams Lake to Prince Rupert and I’d never been to the Williams Lake store.

And I saw it… the faint markings of the remnants of a business that died out in 2010… well actually before that. 2010 was when the company that bought out Video Update finally went bankrupt.

It was the faint markings of a life gone by.

I let the sadness wash over me, then I picked up my pizza and headed back to work.

At work, I was dressing the wound of a patient who was from my home town. We talked about the places we knew. We talked about how much it changed. We talked about how it was not our home anymore.

And then he started talking about his medical history.  About how he used to be diabetic but he wasn’t.  How he had had a pancreas transplant. How this had happened at Vancouver General Hospital 20 years ago.

And all I could think about was how 6 year ago, I was told it wasn’t a possibility. That maybe somewhere, some one had done it, but it wasn’t really possible.

And in the middle of wound care, my most favourite thing in the world to do in nursing…

I fell apart and had to leave the room.

I lost my mind and started crying.

Because 6 years ago I was told that it wasn’t possible and what if it had been and it would have saved his life?

It’s all a moot point now.  But at that moment, on that day, my heart broke again.

And instead of the wave of sadness like at the pizza joint… I was hit with the deep ugly sobs that always result in me looking like I’ve smoked a lot of pot.  Bloodshot eyes and blotchy face and cannot hide that from anyone.

I’m happy for the gentleman who is living his best happiest.

Life is full of triggers.  Some will be a gentle reminder….  some will be a brick wall I run into full force.

I’m grateful that I loved well enough to still grieve that hard.

Happy New Year!

It’s a hard time of year for those who lost someone.

I received an email from someone this morning who lost their husband on Christmas morning.

I can’t offer her any words of comfort.  There is nothing comforting I can say or offer her.

I had a fantastic, amazing, incredible New Years. I rang in 2018 with my Chapter 2.  I thought about my late husband for a bit before my Sexxy Chef got home.

I reflected on the way my life has changed this past year, the things that have become very important to me and the things that are no longer important.

I miss him.  I miss the life we had.

I wouldn’t trade my past with him for anything. It still boggles my mind that he’s NOT here.  It still seems incredibly surreal that he’s been gone for 5 1/2 years.  Each June 26, each January 1 brings me that much closer to him being gone for longer than I had him.

If you’re reading this and you’re hurting from the loss of a loved one… it does get different.

Not better, just different. It did for me, anyhow.

I miss him. I love my life now.  The two are not diametrically opposed.  They co-exist in my heart (mostly) seamlessly.

If you’re hurting… reach out. If not to someone in your life, find an online group, send me an email, anything.  But reach out.  Life is good.  It sucks right now but it can be good again.

Happy 2018!  happy-new-year-wishes

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

 

Not as Bad

Things aren’t as bad as they were last year.  The pain of missing him is still there, and the grief storms hit on occasion, but I don’t have that overwhelming depression.

Things are better.

Things continue to get better.

There has been no cutting nor has there been a desire to cut.  There IS a desire to not do anything or go anywhere, but I’m committed to doing things and so therefore… I do them.

I’m not dying inside. I miss him.  But it’s not killing me this year.

Almost 5 years… and I’m doing okay this year.  So far.

Grey's Anatomy

It’s Your Birthday.

I’m writing this a day early.

You see, tomorrow is your birthday.  But it’s also date night. And while it’s your birthday, you’re DEAD and I have date night with my LIVING fiance.

I had to think this morning. I had to count the number of years you’d been gone vs how old you were when you died in order to remember that this would have been your 54th birthday.

It’s not that I don’t miss you – I miss you with every fibre of my being. It makes me cry when I stop and think about it.  I keep myself so busy that I don’t have time to stop and think a lot of the time.  I don’t want to miss you that much when I’m snuggled up to him. I don’t want to be laying in bed with him and wishing it were you.

I don’t want to be sad about you and have him make jokes to cheer me up when I just want to miss you.

I need those things to be somewhat separate. I need to miss you when I miss you and love him when I love him. They do intersect – he’s freaking amazing when it comes to my grief over you.

But there’s a shame, a guilt about missing you when I’m so happy with him. I don’t want to make him feel bad for not being you – but I don’t want him to be you – I want him to be him.

But it’s YOUR birthday tomorrow.  My 5th without you. My 6th without you at home. Actually my 7th without you at home – you were with Wade on your 48th, remember? You spent that birthday with Wade, the next birthday in the hospital and then you were gone.

Happy Birthday my Forever 49 Love.  You are missed. You are loved. You are always remembered.