18 Years

Today would have been 18 years married.  We were together a year and a half before we got married, so we were coming up on 20 years together.

It has been 5 years since I’ve seen him. Touched him. Heard his voice. Listened to his heart beating.

I am afraid, most of all, of being without him longer than I was with him.  I am jealous of those people who had 30, 40, 50 years.  One client I talk to was a few months shy of 60 years before their spouse died.

Every day, every month, every year, takes me that much further away from when I last saw him and that much closer to the day when I’ll have been without him longer than with him.

I’m not destroyed today.  But I am sad.  And I am doing a lot of self care. And my lovely sexxy chef has been amazing in supporting me and helping me through this day.

Happy Anniversary to the dead guy.

Mar & Jane Wedding


Cutting all Ties…

Shortly after my Mark died, I fell in love with the man I thought was going to be my Chapter 2.  I was in love with him. He seemed to be everything I wanted. He presented in a way that promised love and understanding and a future.

He did not.

He was, for lack of better words, jealous of a dead guy. He felt as though I was always putting the dead guy first. (Bear in mind, the dead guy had been dead just over a year when we got together).

Against my better judgement (and an actual question of “do you really think we should do this?”) we got matching tattoos.

They’re gorgeous. Musical and heart-y and romantic and lovely.  And did I mention matching? And we’re not together anymore.

He felt I owed him money. I paid him $400 every 2 weeks for a year or so, then $200 every 2 weeks for another year or so.  Ended up paying him close to $16,000.

I told him that I was done paying for things that I didn’t feel were my debt.  That I needed the $200 every 2 weeks to buy, oh, I don’t know… groceries.  (I had resorted to using the food bank because I couldn’t afford to feed my kids – yet he could).

He said fine.  Actually he said a whole lot more than that… but that was the end of the conversations.

The man who told me he had loved me for 20+ years, the man who promised to love me no matter what, the man who was supposed to be my best man at my wedding, the man who promised me that no matter what, we’d be friends…. cut me off. Blocked me on all social media sites. Refuses to answer any phone calls or messages I send. (Not that I’ve sent many – mostly about mail he still gets here).

Apparently my friendship was worth $200 every 2 weeks to him.  Nice, eh?

So anyhow… I’m left with this tattoo. This lovely, gorgeous, incredibly designed tattoo that matches that of a man who broke every. single. promise. he ever made to me.

Before I get married next summer – I’m getting it altered.

Today? Today was stage one.  The lines are done, one element is mostly complete, and this little heart at the bottom of the tattoo that I tried to make uniquely my own (but he insisted they match) has been obliterated.

Today, I truly cut the last of the ties I had to him.  Because I’m making my tattoo, my own. Not matching his, not similar, just mine.

It’s tempting to send him a picture.  But in the end, it only serves the purpose to hurt him – and I’m not playing that game.

Widda peeps? Don’t get a matching tattoo with someone who you’re unsure of.  Really that applies to all peeps – but especially widda peeps who’s brains are fried from the trauma of the death of their person and who are desperate to feel that connection again.

Because at some point… you’ll end up having to have it covered/altered despite how much you love the tattoo – simply because you no longer love the guy.

(Not entirely true, a part of me still loves him… just not a big part)

But wait until you’re completely sure.

When the tattoo is done – I’ll post before, during, and after pics.  But for now… I’m in the process of cutting the last of the ties.

The Patient who Died

In my very short nursing career (super short! I’m not yet a licensed nurse!!) I have been a part of 3 deaths.  3 deaths over 2 years of theory and clinical.

Two were very expected.  The patients were on palliative care orders, they’d had a decline and death was expected.  I cried a little, moved on and continued my day without much pause.

The third and last (latest?) was not.

He wasn’t expected to die.

His death was not only unexpected, it was unusual and traumatic.

An artery blew and he bled out. He was my patient. I had sat him up for breakfast, and 45 minutes later I was walking by to get another patient a drink and saw him slumped over.

His bed was covered in blood and non-responsive.

I discovered this.

I didn’t respond well – there were things I didn’t do that I should have, and there were things I shouldn’t have done that I did.

I learned so very much from that man’s death.

I walked out of the room as they were continuing the code and thought to myself… what did I miss? What didn’t I do right? What could I have done differently?

The answers?

Don’t leave the patient.
Hit the emergency button.
Put oxygen on the patient.
Open the IV to run a bolus.
Look for the bleed.

The last two are probably interchangeable. Stopping the bleed is important but getting volume back into the patient is important as well.

So I learned.

And now… the grief has hit me again and again.

I talk about it, and I cry. I think about it, and I cry. I’m blogging about it, and I cry.

It was the first traumatic death I’d experienced. And in the words of the nurse who was working with me… it was VERY traumatic.

My husband’s death wasn’t traumatic like that. It’s not reminiscent. It’s only reminiscent in that it wasn’t an expected death. We expected Mark to get better.  He didn’t. I expected the patient to get better.  He didn’t.

I am grieving over this patient who’s name I don’t fully remember (just remember his first name) and his death.

People tell me it’s normal. That I will learn to adjust. That it will stay with me. That I learned from it and from this point on, I will ALWAYS remember to check my emergency equipment, hit the emergency button and put oxygen on a patient who is suddenly not stable.

But I’m grieving.  And I’m sad. And I suppose it will eventually be a part of me. I’ve also been told that if I wasn’t compassionate and caring – I wouldn’t feel this. But in the meantime…

I grieve.  For the man who’s last name I can’t remember. For his dog.  For the children who lived across the country. For a death that shouldn’t have happened even though I know that there probably wasn’t anything anyone could have done differently to change the outcome.

The images in my head flash randomly.  The memory of his voice haunts me. And I grieve.



Usually you think of an aftermath as being something you experience after an unpleasant experience. In fact, dictionary.com defines aftermath as:

  1. something that results or follows from an event, especially one of adisastrous or unfortunate nature; consequence:
         the aftermath of war; the aftermath of the flood.
And any other year – I would have said that I’m living in the aftermath of the devastation of another year without him. But this year is different.
There was no big emotional drama.  There was no devastating moments. There was only a pervasive sadness and a few small tears and then I got to do some amazing wound care and… done.
So now I’m dealing with the aftermath of having felt…. nothing? No, not nothing.  But it’s almost anti-climatic?
I didn’t spend a lot of time fighting my brain.
I didn’t spend a lot of time in a deep depression.
I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what was or what could be or what never would be.
I lived.
I worked.
I loved.
I cried.
And another year passed.
It’s been 5 years… and the aftermath of that is that I have children and grandchildren and an amazing future and while I don’t get to share any of it with him… a lot of it wouldn’t have happened if he had been here.
That’s the truth of my aftermath.
I love my life. I love my future.  And the aftermath of his death, and the things that have happened in the 5 years since… the aftermath of that is a beautiful one.
He is my beautiful past. And I would have loved to be able to share all of this with him.  And I cry when I think about the people I have met who will never know him other than through my memories.
But my future is bright.
What no one realizes (unless you’re going through it) is the broken guilt of loving and wanting the future that is in front of you – even though you couldn’t have had it without the loss of the person behind you.
That’s the other truth of my aftermath.
And for today… today I will just enjoy my home… my kids… my grandkids if I see them… my memories… and my man.
Because the aftermath is worth it.

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


Another Father’s Day

Life is not as brutally painful this year.  But today? Today has still been a sad one for me.

I got up, took the Sexxy Chef to work. Got my stuff together and drove and hour and a bit to play some roller derby.

I had mini grief storms that I maintained control over because I wasn’t alone in my car.

I sucked it up and skated.

I ignored my feelings.

I got home and there were people in my house. People I love, people I’m excited to spend time with, but people, nonetheless.

They all finally left about an hour ago.

And now? Now those feelings are locked up and stuffed away and I can’t access them anymore.

I miss my Dad.

I miss my Mark.

I hurt for them not being here and being able to see my amazing grandchildren.

The little man was here and he wanted something from me and he said “Ta” asking for it.

Mark always said Ta. It’s an English thing apparently.

And I was sad that he wasn’t here.

And my Sexxy Chef was exhausted and lost in his own head so not connected to me in a way I wanted to but couldn’t ask for because there were people here.

And so… at the end of Father’s Day…. I am alone in the dark, writing a blog about how I miss them.

Happy Father’s Day to you both. I know at least one of you came to visit today… I hope that you’re both at peace.

I love you both.

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