Life Changes

I miss my husband.

I miss his steadfast, solid, calmness.

I miss being able to lean into him.

I don’t know how to navigate the waters of a contentious relationship with my oldest child without him.  My new husband is angry about him hurting me. He doesn’t have the same attachment my dead husband had.

I don’t know how to navigate the waters of a potential diagnosis for my kid.  I mean – I did it with my husband. I navigated all those moments of discussing it with doctors, but this is my CHILD. The person who helped bring her into the world and he’s NOT here to be all the things I miss about him while I panick and cry and fall apart.

My current husband loves me. He adores me. He’s there for me in every way.

But he has a detachment that allows him to be passionate about the injustices to ME which leaves me feeling like I have to fight on two fronts – angry/frustrated about whatever situation but at times having to defend the situation.

It’s exhausting.

I miss my kid. The one who wasn’t so angry at the world and who I could talk to about everything. He doesn’t get that he and his kids ARE important to me. He doesn’t care that I’m going through my own shit. He doesn’t know. Doesn’t ask. Just sees that I’m not there for him in the way he wants. He doesn’t care what it would have cost me, personally, financially, emotionally to step out of my life to be there in his.

All he sees is I wasn’t there.

And now we’re fighting because of it.

And he’s too angry with the world and at women in general to stop and listen or see my side.  And now I cannot see a way around it or to fix it.

And I miss my husband because he would have been the negotiator. The mediator.  The peace-maker.

My current husband is just angry at the fact that I’m hurting.

I miss him.  My husband who was the rock, the glue in our lives.

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This is Us

It has taken me almost a week to write about the Superbowl episode of This is Us.

It shook me, more than Grey’s Anatomy’s depiction of Derek Shepherd’s death (sorry if you’re not caught up on that – but it’s been a few years…) It shook me not because of the way he died, because Derek’s death was more like my husband’s but because of the aftermath.

The having to tell the children. The having to parent the children. The 20 years in the future and how the memories still affect Rebecca and how the children cope and how life was so drastically altered as a PARENT.

Not just the wife. The mother.

I can’t find a video of it, the moment where she goes to Miguel’s house to talk to the kids.  Where she stands in the doorway and tells him that she needs to be strong for her kids and if he can’t, he’ll need to take a walk until he can.

But in watching that…. all I could see was myself. How my kids went home in one car and I went home in another and I was lost. I was not a pillar of strength for my kids. I was not strong, I was not able, I was not the rock they needed to lean on.

All I could see in that moment was how I failed my children when their father died.

How one of my kids would tell me that she thinks of the good memories and is happy.  And I thought that was such an amazing thing. But really – she didn’t want me to be sadder.  Now, when her life is changing so much, she needs her dad and he’s not here and she’s ANGRY because she hasn’t grieved.

How one of my kids asked me after a fight with my chapter 2 if things were ok, because he didn’t want me to be sad again.

How my daughter says flat out that when I’m old, one of my other kids will be responsible for me because she took care of me when he died. She did her part.

How I failed them.

I don’t know how to fix that.

I was in so much pain. I hurt so badly. I couldn’t move past it. And I failed them.

This is Us showed another side of being a widow. It showed what happens on the other side – not just from the widow perspective, but from the children’s perspective.  Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t. The kids are a plot line, a side story that come out every once in a while to make a point.

And because of it, This is Us, the episode where Jack died, the episode after where they went to the funeral (and the odd needing to have him with her at all times) that affected me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting to be reminded of how I abandoned my kids when they needed me the most – not on purpose – just because I didn’t know how to cope with it myself.

How do I fix that? They are my heart.

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Nights Are the Worst

I have four children.

They are 25, 23, 15 and 14.

The 25 year old has a son, and he lives in Edmonton.  His baby lives in Kamloops.

The 23 year old is due with her first baby in December.  She lives in Edmonton.

My 15 & 14 year old boys live with me.  They’re teenaged boys so they live in their bedrooms – and might as well be in Edmonton.

I live in Quesnel.  It is a min 8 hour drive from Edmonton – but in reality takes 10 hours with pit stops, gas fill ups etc.

So around 7pm, the boys vacate to their room… and I’m left sitting alone in my house.

There’s no other around. No adult to talk to. No one to share my day with (although some days are very boring, like today).  No one to just look over at and know that they’re THERE.

I don’t know how to live alone.

I never have.

But now, I’m alone.  Very alone.

I can feel the depression setting in. I’m silent, my ability to have conversations feels stunted.  I watch my widowed friends, my single friends all couple-ing up.  And I live in a town where I don’t have a circle of friends so I don’t have people to do things with.

I think that’s what makes the *alone* worse than anything.  Not only did I lose my partner, my spouse, my other half; I left my friends.

I don’t, for a moment, regret my choice to live here. My Metalhead Poet was worth taking a chance on. Love always is.

But I’m lonely, and struggling with the time and patience it takes to build a social circle.  Last time I had to, I had Mark with me to stave off the frustrations.

The loneliness is one that is understood and commiserated with by widda peeps everywhere.  But they’re all… elsewhere.

And the nights are the worst.

Grief Is Like the Ocean

Who’s Got My Kids?

When my husband went into the hospital, I had a team, a community who came together and took care of my kids and ran my life.

Then he died, and they all came together and took care of me until I could take care of myself again.

I left my community on the promise of a future.

It’s been 2 years, and I know it takes 3-5 years to create a community again.  Minimum.  It’s starting here, slowly.

But I felt crapy the other day… which always leaves me hypervigilent about symptoms and checking and is this serious? Do I need to go to the hospital?  Can it wait until the doctor’s office opens?

And… then I thought yesterday… what happens if I end up in the hospital?

Who takes care of my kids?

When I was living with my Metalhead Poet, I just believed he would be there for me, and take care of our life if I couldn’t.

Now… I don’t know who… who’s the first person I would call?

I’m not partnered, so that’s not an option.

My best friends live 3.5 & 9 hours away.  They’d probably both here, but… they’re far away.

My derby friends?  I don’t know that they’d step up the way my Squamish team would.  Some of them?  But I don’t know.

Either of my adult children?  I wouldn’t ask them… they both have babies of their own and live in different towns than me.

My new friend Janene has said she would…. but she has 2 kids of her own in a different age group.

My sisters would absolutely.  But they’re in diferent towns. Hard enough on my boys if I end up in the hospital, but if they have to leave all their friends?

Short answer?  I don’t know.  And it makes me feel… lost?

Lost my Love.  Lost my Metalhead Poet.  Left my friends. Lonely as fuck.

And I don’t know who I can lean on.  I think that’s the only thing I regret about being here.  I’ve lost my tribe. Tribe

His Life Meant Something

Working in the field I do, I don’t work with the same people forever.

Being deployed means I’ll end up working with and meeting a plethora of people from different backgrounds and different lives.

And none of them know my story.

How do I express to people that I’m not an only parent by choice?  How do I tell people I just met… “Yep, I have 4 kids, a grandbaby and a half and a dead husband” without the expressions of sympathy?

Expressions of sympathy are the best way to get me crying.  But people like to do them – a lot. “You’re so strong for talking about it.”  “I’m so sorry” “You’re too young”

Yep. Yep. and Yep.

But his life had meaning.  He loved to fish the waters we’re working to protect here.  He loved this area.  He was an amazing dad who loved his boys and dammit they deserved to have more than 11 & 12 years with him!!

But I have conversations with people and over and over I get to say “My husband died 3 years ago”  “my children have no living father”

And if the conversations get deeper… then we get to bring up how my 4 children have 2 different fathers and… THEY’RE BOTH DEAD.

FML.

But his life had meaning.   And he was (and still is) important to us.   So I NEED to honour him.  I NEED to remember him.  I need to tell stories and bring up memories and share experiences because he fucking MATTERED.

I just wish it didn’t shatter me so much every time.

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The Things That Are Missing

Boys need a dad.

I heard it said before that boys need a dad, but until tonight… I didn’t really think about what was missing in my boys’ life.

A male role model.

A Dad-type figure.

Their Dad.

I’m watching my brother-in-law interact with my son… the connection of an adult male imparting wisdom, knowledge and TIME with my 14 year old boy… I wish so much for my boys that their Dad was here… but in the interim… they get to spend time with Uncles…

And tonight… the things that are missing… those things are so much more apparent…

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Imma Single What?!?

Oh fuck.  It just occurred to me… I’m a single parent.

For 14 years I was married.  With kids.   I was a partner, 1/2 of the whole, one of two.

And then he got sick.. .and I still was married… and then he died.

I became a widow.   A somewhat romantic figure.  A tragedy of a lost love.   It didn’t OCCUR to me that I was anything but a widow.   My children had lost their father, I had lost my husband, and that was just our life.  We’d find a way somehow.

And then… my 2nd chapter.

I was again a part of.  1/2 the whole.  One of two.

Then… my 2nd chapter ended.

I moved into the basement.  I took responsibility for my kids, he took responsibility for his.  I took responsibility for my house, he took responsibility for his.

And I sleep alone.   He sleeps alone.

There was no tragic death.  There was no sad story to tell.   It was just a matter of … we didn’t fit.  We didn’t work well together.  We had too many differences to overcome.

I became… another single mom.

Can I pull back to the “widow” status?

Can I pull back to being the person who I was?  Probably not.      But it feels weird.   I’m a single parent again.  After 15 years, I am a single parent.

I don’t know why it feels different – I’m still a widowed parent, I’m still the ONLY parent… but I’m a single parent.  And that bothers me.

But I’m going to do the best I possibly can for my boys.   They deserve the best of me that they can get.

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Sneaky Triggers…

L:  Mom, can I call my friend and ask if I can go for a sleep over there?

Me:  No it’s Father’s Day tomor…. never mind.  Go ahead.

L: Ok.

Yeah.  Father’s Day doesn’t have the same meaning anymore.  And now I get to hurt because for a moment, I forgot.

I got the downstairs kitchen cleaned in the process of trying to distract myself from the hurt.

AND found the source of the smell I’ve been trying to track down for the last few days.

Mark watching over us again, I suppose – if it wasn’t for that random trigger – I wouldn’t have cleaned up the kitchen, and I wouldn’t have found that the burner was on and melting the cooler sitting on it.   It was a fire danger… and now we’re safe.

Happy Father’s Day Mark.   We miss you.

Mark in Fruitvale

Happy Birthday

It was your birthday yesterday.

It was a quiet day for us…. I put on your memorial video in the morning and watched it on the big screen… Luke & Andrew & Kadyn watched with me.

Andrew doesn’t really want to think about you being gone – I think he’s much like me in that he compartmentalizes what’s going on for him.  Put the grief in one box, the good stuff in another…

The problem is the box will eventually break open.

But yesterday was your birthday, and I had to bring you to the front lines of our life for just a moment.

I am so incredibly grateful for Michelle making that video.   For being able to watch it at any time.  For being able to hear your voice, your laughter, see your smile.

You brought such joy to our lives…

Perhaps our journey together was to teach you how to love, how to forgive and how to be a Dad… and teach me how to love, that I’m worth love and that it’s OK to love and let myself be loved.

Such a short time.   The hummingbirds that have come to me have shown me without a doubt that you are near, that you are watching.

I love you.  Happy Birthday Mark.

Mark's cake

Memories

I had said in a blog a while back that I lost the keeper of my memories. Mark had better recall than I and whenever I’d go through various pictures, I’d have him tell me who what when where… but the recall rarely was triggered independently of him.

Until this weekend.

Driving around with Marja in Terrace, the memories kept popping up.

The place we used to go fishing.

The time the bear chased us across the Shames.

The place Kyle fell in the river.

The church.

The house we lived in.

The awesome farmer’s market we lived next to.

The house she lives in that we spent a lot of time at.

Her old house where I learned how to make garlic butter.

Euchre.  Gawd I loved playing euchre with them.

Ferry Island with the faces in the trees.

Hikng Terrace Mountain.

Where Video Update/Movie Gallery used to be.

Where the quilt shop was (it’s moved just down the road).

The mall.

The fishing store we spent so much time at.

The restaurant we ate frog legs at.

The cafe we had a date night at every week – I don’t remember what we were doing but we got a couple hours together every week and played triominoes.   No kids.  No worries. Just him and I.   I was pregnant with Andrew.

It was painful.  It was joyful.  It was so very lovely to immerse myself in memories, to just enjoy the feeling of the beginning of *us* and remember it with a smile.

The weather was perfect.

Sunshine-y.  Hot.  Everything that we loved about Terrace.   It wasn’t supposed to be – there was supposed to be rain.  But he was going back to the Shames…and we never went there on a grey rainy day.  Knowing that he was there with me on so many levels… being able to just enjoy Marja’s company…

I wish, I regret not going back before now.  But it is what it is and it was so very right being there this past weekend.

We had a good life there… even with all the first years learning each other and learning to live with each other, it was a good life there.

Good memories.  Good times.  And I’ve reconnected with people who were once very important to me.   And I won’t lose contact again.

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