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

 

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End of Another Year…

Here I am, 6 hours away from the calendar flip over from one year to the next.

I am alone, sorta.  Hanging with my youngest son and his friend.

My Sexxy Chef is working, my older son is with his girlfriend.

While my Sexxy Chef will be off work in about 3 hours, I’ve volunteered to DD to help raise funds for my roller derby team.  We’ll spend maybe half hour, an hour together on our first New Year’s Eve together.

I will spend the evening with my daughter.  My oldest is in another town, and I’ll send him a text around midnight.

This is not the New Year’s Eve I anticipated.

I accept… that the Sexxy Chef has to work. I accept it. I understand it. I understand that the nature of his job means that he can’t join me in volunteering because of tomorrow’s work schedule.

I accept that.

I don’t like it.

I have spent too many New Year’s Eve’s alone in the past 5 years.

Before Mark went into the hospital, New Years was puzzles. Drinks.  And after I met Kathy it was a party.

It was surrounded by people.

This alone thing… feels weird.

New Year’s 2012 – Party at the Dunlops’
New Year’s 2013 – New relationship, don’t really remember New Years – was in a relationship that ultimately failed and posted *nothing* about what was going on on Dec 31, 2013
New Year’s 2014 – single, quiet evening.
New Year’s 2015 – single, went to a party. Won (?) mother of the year award by dragging my kids to said party (it was kid friendly) and let them have a couple drinks.  Sent them home, stayed and tried to make myself feel better about my life by hooking up with a random.

This year, I’m in a fantastic relationship with a man I love.  I am looking forward to our life together.

I’ve cried less over Mark.

I’ve cried more intensely over Mark.

I’ve found someone who will hold me and keep me together while I fall apart over Mark.

Christmas came and went… no tears shed, although it felt like I was going to on several occasions.

So another year has gone by.  Every year marks one more that I’ve been without him. Every year is one closer to longer without him than I was with him.  That frightens me.

It’s been almost 5 years since he got sick.  4 1/2 since he died. And while my future looks fucking amazing… I miss the future that isn’t.

But it’s a happy New Year.  Despite being mostly alone, I’m surrounded by people who love me… I am blessed with many friends and a whole ‘nother family.

I hope your New Year shows promise of joy and laughter.  If you’re reading this, fresh out from the loss of someone you love, know that it doesn’t get better, but it gets different. The pain you feel now will become a part of you, and you will feel joy again. It’s not the same as before…there’s always a thread of sadness and missing your person that will run through everything, but it becomes a part of who you are and the laughter and joy will be genuine.

You’re not alone, no matter how alone you feel right now. There’s a whole community you can reach out to – starting with me.  And I can help you find someone closer if you’re looking for someone in your time zone.

Happy New Year to all my widda peeps and to all the friends and family who have been there for me the last 5 years.

happy-new-year-wishes

Dreams and Visits

He’s all around me lately.

I had several nightmares last week.  In one of them, I watched him die again.

Why can’t I have a dream about him where we’re happy? Why do I have to watch him die over and over and over and over?

I wanted to talk to my Sexxy Chef about it, but this is his crazy season and he’s distracted with work.  So I’ve left it… for now.

And then, last Saturday, I’m in bed.  By myself. I can hear the Sexxy Chef out in the living room. I know my boys are in bed at the other end of the house and that there’s no one else in the house.

I’m curled up under my covers… reading…and suddenly… someone sits on my bed. There’s *no one* else around. I’m not gonna lie. I was a little freaked out.  Because I’m not sure that it’s him. I mean… it must be. I don’t think I have any other spirits hanging around. So I closed my eyes… put my phone away… and said “Good night Mark.”

And went to sleep. Dreamless, peaceful sleep. First time in a week.

I see him, in the corner of my eye lately. I see him around me.  I’m hoping it’s him. I don’t know for sure…but I’m hoping. I don’t feel like it’s another presence…but I’m not 100% sure it’s him, either.

I miss him.  I miss his presence. I miss his smile, his laugh, his outlook on life. I miss the way he could calm me at a moment’s notice.

I appreciate that he’s come visiting… it makes me smile.

But could I have a happy dream please?

Mark in Fruitvale

 

So…. My Husband Died

I’m in nursing school.  In just over a year I will have finished a diploma program and will have (almost) earned the title “Practical Nurse.”

It is a … therapeutic process for me. Each new thing I learn, each new skill I learn brings up memories from when he was in the hospital.

And each new instructor I have to have a conversation with them.

“So… my husband died.  And this is bringing up a LOT of memories and triggers.  And if I step back from what I’m doing or what’s being taught, please understand that it’s a matter of trying to get myself under control or minimizing the emotional battering I’m going through.  But I AM learning, I just don’t want to be penalized because I have to do it differently at that moment.”

So yeah.  My husband died. And I get to talk about it over and over.  And maybe as I talk about it, I’ll desensitize more?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t seem to be happening, but I still talk about it.

Sometimes I don’t want to though.

Today I didn’t want to, but I did want my instructor to understand that I am going through things and working on them.

Because my husband died.  And he wouldn’t want me to live life any other way than out loud and as boldly as I am. So I talk.  And I learn.  And I try to make the world around me a bit better and a bit brighter.

And I will take the lessons learned from him and his death and build a life that is beautiful and bright.  And be there for another who is going through the same thing.

It’s part of why I’m becoming a nurse, yanno?

IMAG0026

 

It Was Meant To Be…

When I was in employment flux, between my first and second seasons at BC Wildfire, I went to a career counsellor, jumped through some hoops and decided on Licensed Practical Nurse as my upgrade/career path.

My reasons:

  1. The amazing nurses who inspired me.
  2. To be of service
  3. To be there for other people going through what I went through (simliar to #2)
  4. Employability.
  5. Mobility OR stability.

What I didn’t remember… was it was something I had thought about a long time ago.

This was part of an update post on April 13, 2012.  Almost 3 months after he initially went into the hospital.

Mark Healing Community Post

I can’t do a point/arrow/highlight on a picture in a wordpress blog, but right in the middle… It says..

“If I could do it over again I would go into nursing or surgery because that was AWESOME to watch.”

 “I would go into nursing”

And yah.  In 2 months, I will be in nursing.

It was meant to be.  It is happening.

I know for a lot of widows/widowers, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is cause for white hot rage, seriously offended, going to throat punch the speaker reactions.

For me?  It’s the truth.

Everything happened.  For. A. REASON.

I am exactly where I should be in my life.

I am doing what I am supposed to.

All avenues, all options have closed off and the path towards nursing is brightly lit, clear and safe.

Path

I know where I’m supposed to go from here. I can see the way, and without EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED…

I wouldn’t be here.

I’d be in Squamish still (miss my friends!) working with Co-operators, selling life insurance and probably doing an amazing job at it.

I’d have a husband who requires round the clock care with a recovery measured in years not months.

I’d be exhausted.  My kids would come second to my husband’s needs.  My husband would feel guilty about that.  He’d feel helpless and hopeless and lost and a burden.  I would probably spend more time trying to make him understand that he’s not a burden than just loving him, because he’d need that from me, from us.

The reality is, life would have amazing beautiful moments.  I would still be Mrs. Mark Smith.  I wouldn’t resent it for a moment.   But it would be my life, focussed entirely on my husband.

But now, I’m allowed to shine.

A friend of mine blogged a long time ago… he gave me my life back.  I know that he’d be here if he could… but in the end, he loved me, loved his family enough to let us out of the limbo we were in.  He loved us enough that he would have fought if there were any real options left.  But there weren’t.  So he let go, and let us move forward.

And now… where I’m supposed to be is coming to fruition.

I love him so much more for being willing to let go.  For doing what’s best for EVERYONE, instead of holding on and keeping us in that holding pattern.  It shows how amazing of a person he was.   And I wish everyone who reads this could have met him.  Could have known him.

He was so incredible and I was so blessed to have been loved by him.  So blessed to have been his wife for 13 years.  So blessed to be the mother of his children.  So very blessed to have loved him to his last breath.

It’s All Good… but…

A strange thing happens when your spouse dies.

There’s this hole in all your conversations.

Robin Williams died…and I wanted to tell Mark about it.  Mark was such a big fan.

Grandbabies… grandbabies everywhere…and I can’t talk to him about them.

Justin Trudeau getting elected… and Hunter Tootoo being the Ministry for Fisheries and Oceans.  OMG the conversation about that.

Everything the Harper government did to decimate the environment… he would have been talking about that… not just hours, not just days… but I’d never stop hearing about it. Ever.  He was so passionate about it.

And the adorable throatsingers at the swearing in ceremony.  He probably would have shown those to me before I had a chance to show him.

Things are good… but there’s a hole in my conversations.   I miss the indepth, passionate debates we’d have about various topics.

I haven’t found someone else who will talk about those things with me. Who has that same passion for conversation.

There’s just a hole where the conversations used to be…

Christmas 2011

Things Change… in an instant.

January 19, 2012:  my husband goes into the hospital for what we thought would be a short stay, and then home again.  It had happened several times before – it wasn’t unexpected.

January 22, 2012: being told my husband had a 5-7% chance of survival overnight.

June 25, 2012:  being told there was nothing more they could do.

June 26, 2012, 415pm: he takes his last breath.

Life changes in a moment.  Anything can happen in one day.

One Day

I moved, I fell in love again, the relationship ended, I moved out, he moved out and now… I’m heading into school.

My life is about to change again.

When you practially live in the ICU, you get to know the nurses who live there.  The good ones.  The meh ones.  The ones you request never be assigned to your spouse again.  And the amazing ones.

Every single one of those nurses are why I am changing careers and going into nursing.  I want to be one of those amazing nurses who makes a difference for the patients and the families.  I want to take what was a brutally painful, brutally hard 6 months of my life (that turned into something even worse) and use that compassion I have for others in my situation to make the unbearable bearable.

I have been accepted to nursing school.  I’m taking the 2 year Licensed Practical Nurse program as a first step to being one of those amazing people in the ICU.

School starts in 2 months.  And I have to come up with $1500 in tuition.

Please understand.  I am NOT asking for donations/money etc.  I am NOT asking you to fund me going to school (although I won’t turn down any offers!)

BUT! If you are looking for some amazingly unique gift ideas… my amazingly awesome cousin Simone has decided to put on a fundraiser.

Simply – you buy something for yourself, someone you love, or as a teacher gift…. and my cousin donates her commission to me.

So… if you have a moment to peruse, could ya look at the amazing stuff that she sells? Fantastic gift ideas, and it will help me get through this next few months of school while I apply for scholarships and cut corners and budget tighter to pay for my tuition.

The website for the facebook event is: Fundraising for Jane.  Click the link to go to the event, and Simone will answer any questions you might have.

Like I said, I’m not asking for donations.  I’m asking you to buy a gift for someone in your life, do some Christmas shopping, and it will help me in the end.

Because life changes in an instant.  In one day, I can fall in love, or I can change my world.  And in one day, you can help change mine.