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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Happy and Sad

My Facebook feed is full of two types of posts today:

I’M SO HAPPY AND IN LOVE AND I HAVE THE BEST SPOUSE EVER!

and

I’M SO SAD BECAUSE I MISS MY DEAD SPOUSE

interspersed with the occasional:

HAPPY SINGLES AWARENESS DAY!  and the memes that go along with that.

And on one hand… I am so very happy with my husband (who is currently making me breakfast as I type) and very much in love with him.

On the other…. I miss the guy who first told me 21 years ago that he loves me. 21 years. That’s how long we’d have been together. That’s how long I’ve loved that man.

6 years ago he woke from his coma, remembered it was our “in love” anniversary and told me.

Today… a completely different man loves me and tells me that every day.

So it is a happy/sad day. A good/bad day. A day of love and a day of grief.

But that’s the way it always is…

Happy 21st anniversary my Love.  I will love you for the rest of my life.

Nobody Knows

7 years ago everyone knew me as MarkandJane.

They knew that Mark and Jane were an entity.  They knew Mark’s love of fishing, flyfishing especially. They knew that he had disabilities (although he was careful not to show anyone else how bad it could get).  They knew he adored his kids, and they knew that he was the primary parent in our household.

They knew he was well read, articulate although they might not have known he wasn’t formally educated.

They knew he liked to play World of Warcraft.  I was the only one who knew that he waited until he was alone to do so. He’d tuck me into bed, snuggle for a bit, then get up and go do his thing while I slept.

They knew he was passionate about the environment.  He was angry beyond belief when the train derailed and sanitized the Cheakamus River. And he was heartbroken over it.

They knew he was the go-to guy for all things fishing.

They knew he was an amazing cook who made incredible Bailey’s latte’s.

They knew he and I had an incredible connection, an incredible Love that spans time, distance and death.

And now… I am married to Ryan.  And no one I know up here knows anything about Mark.

How could they? I moved up here a year after he died. I knew no one up here when I moved.

NO ONE KNOWS.

So how the FUCK, if they don’t know… am I supposed to explain to them why I’m crying randomly? Why a stupid song will reduce me to rubble? Why I start leaking for seemingly no reason?

How am I supposed to explain to anyone who sees me in the middle of a grief storm how much it still hurts every. single. day. that he’s gone.

Widows always feel the need to explain… “I DO love my living husband… but…”

It’s horrible. Unless you’ve lived it, how do you explain to someone how much you miss the dead husband even as you’re snuggled up to the live one?

I don’t go looking for grief triggers – but lately they’re finding me. And the leaking has started again.  Randomly, without warning or control.

And at 6 1/2 years out… I look like a mentally and emotionally unstable person instead of a grieving widow.

Which really sucks.

I miss this look:

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I miss the love that shone out of his eyes whenever he looked at me. I see it in all the pictures.  Times I didn’t realize he was looking at me like that.

And so I grieve in this new world of “Mark who?” and hope that the people who catch me at it understand that I’m not emotionally unstable – I’m just missing him.

Birth and Death

My newest grandchild was born two weeks ago at 10:17am.

She was a perfect 9lbs 2oz.

One minute, there was a pregnant daughter with one child… the next, there was a new little human being.

Ok, maybe longer than a minute.  But you know what I mean. It was a shift in our worlds.  She went from momma of 1 to momma of 2.

It seems somewhat surreal… just like when he died.  One minute I was a wife, the next?  A widow.

Life happens in moments.  The moment of birth. The moment of death. The moment of “I do.”

Life happens when you least expect it.  And it’s all intertwined. Changes happen and life continues and you miss someone so fiercely you can’t breathe and you love someone new so fiercely you can’t breathe and it’s ALL THERE AT ONCE.

I miss Mark with every fibre of my being.

I love my grandchildren to the moon and back.

I love Ryan with every fibre of my being.

None of these are in conflict with the other. None of these cancel out the other.

One moment I was a wife, the next a widow.

One moment I was a widow/girlfriend/fiance, the next I was a wife.

One moment my daughter was pregnant, the next I had a new baby granddaughter.

Birth and death and everything in between. Everything changes in a moment.

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Dealing with Death

After my husband died, I went into nursing.

Seems like an odd choice of careers – after spending 159 days watching my husband get better, get sicker, get better, get sicker and finally die – that I would choose a profession that would force me to watch people get better, get sicker and die.

I’m a Licensed Practical Nurse now. I work with people who are mostly stable. My scope of practice says that I deal with patients who have a stable, predictable state of health.

Except when I’m a part of a code team.  The code team deals with trauma, cardiac arrest and other life threatening situations.

The hospital I work at allows LPN’s to do 1 of 2 jobs on the code team: compressions or record.

In order to record, you must have taken a course – which I have not – so I frequently am the compressions person. (Or code white – but that’s a different role)

At 0625 this morning, Code Blue was called. ETA 5 mins or something like that.  That means – 3 of us from the floor are running to the ER prepared to try to save someone’s life. And we ran. And heard the 2nd call – Mat (something I didn’t hear) Stat.

On the elevator, waiting to go to the 1st floor, we talked – was the Mat call related to the Code Blue? We hoped not.

We were wrong.

This was my first code where I was responsible for compressions.  My first code where I was not a student, or a new grad or anything but JUST ANOTHER TEAM MEMBER.

And my job was as important as the others. I was part of the team.

The report we were given when we got to the ER?  14 day old baby in cardiac arrest.

W. T. Everloving F?

My brain raced – do I remember how to do compressions on an infant? I didn’t get to do the NRP – will I be enough? Should I excuse myself? Could I handle this? Tears were welling up in my eyes and the baby wasn’t even there yet. How can I possibly be an effective nurse, an effective member of the team when I can’t control my emotions?

And then they arrived. I watched the EMT perform compressions. I took several breaths.  Waited until they were done report before tapping him on the shoulder and letting him know I could take over.

And then I did.

And my world narrowed to just what I was doing.  Trying to focus on the tiny human in front of me, willing her to breathe on her own, her heart to beat on its own. Listening and watching the RN’s around me do their job with amazing precision and execution.  Watching the doctor and the nurses move together like a well orchestrated team.

And I was doing my part.  Ignoring the cries and heartbreak of the parents behind me, beside me, in front of me. Because the moment I allowed them to penetrate my consciousness – my emotions came back.

We worked on that baby for 43 minutes.

43 minutes we kept going – hoping beyond hope that we weren’t too late.

43 minutes.

That beautiful little girl did not get to see her 15th day. She won’t get to see her 1st birthday, her 16th, have kids, get married, break hearts. She won’t get to learn to crawl, walk or talk.

It’s moments like this – that I question my ability to be a nurse.  Moment’s like this that I wonder if I have the emotional fortitude – especially given my own trauma and grief – to carry on and support the families of those who die.

I walked out of the ER, down the corridor and was overcome with big ugly cries at the elevator.  Grieving for a life cut short.

I got to the top of the elevator, grabbed my stuff (end of shift and all) and got to the staff entrance to the parking lot and just outside, my knees buckled… more big ugly cries. Grieving with the parents who have to face life without their child.

In my car – crying on my way home – pull into my driveway and bawl. Grieving for myself having spent about 1/2 those 43 minutes hoping for a miracle.

I will cry over this little girl – who’s name I never got – for a while. It will make me a better nurse, better caregiver. I will learn the things I want to learn and do and be because we learn from the mistakes we make, the situations we experience and the things we do in nursing.  We don’t learn from books -we learn from experiences.

I wonder.  Did Mark’s nurses cry with me when they got off shift?  Did they grieve? I like to think so. They’re who inspired me to become a nurse – and I can’t imagine they were not affected by what happened.

I get it now though. I remember asking at the beginning – how do you separate feelings from work?

You just do.  You stuff it into a box, and let it out when you’re in a safe place and can feel.

Because when you walk away from the tiny human who doesn’t get to go home… you still have a job to do – and the rest of your patients need you.

Grief Storms

But damn the grief has hit me.

I keep going back to my wedding photos of me marrying my Sexxy Chef hoping that it will pull me out of my funk but the reality is that loving the Sexxy Chef does NOT override missing Mark.

So I’m at work, feeling like a lead blanket is draped over me, grateful my patients are fairly stable and undemanding.

Because I just want to curl up and ignore life for the next few days.

 

6 Years

I’ve reached a point in my grief where I feel as though I don’t have the … right? to grieve anymore.

At least not publicly.

Or even in my home in front of other people.

Especially not my Sexxy Chef.

Except I still grieve.  And I try to hide it.

6 years ago, Mark went into the hospital.  At this point, 6 years ago, we had come through a surgery that was his only hope.  He survived it.  He was stable, but still incredibly fragile, medically speaking.

At 6 years… the grief is still there.  I still hurt.  I still miss him. I still think life is INCREDIBLY unfair that he is not here to be a part of everything that goes on. I still wonder what he would think, how he would feel with all the changes in our lives.

Luke is now Leah.

Andrew has had 2 girlfriends.

Katie has a son.

Kyle has 2 boys.

I’ve become a nurse.

And we live in the place I swore I’d never move to.

But after 6 years, I wonder what words to use to describe the things that hurt. How many ways can I say I miss him? How many ways can I say it’s not fair? How many ways can I say I hurt because he’s not here?

3 years ago, someone asked me why I was still grieving so hard over him.

3 years ago.

Which makes me wonder – how many people look at my life, my new love, my ability to move forward and walk through and would see me grieving hard and ask me WTF? Why are there still tears? Why are you still sad? Why are you still grieving so hard?

My only answer is that I grieve as hard as I love.

I loved him enormously.  I died when he did. But I’m still here, breathing, living, growing, moving forward in my life.

So after 6 years, I don’t know if I have many new words to describe how I feel because he’s not here. But the ones I have are still very important.

I love him.

I miss him.

Mark in Fruitvale