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Showing posts from 2016

as always.

to my daughter,

immunity is a powerful concept and a hard won reality.  we chase it in all arenas it seems.  it is seen time and time again throughout history and stories, which you will learn.  the fountain of life, vaccines, some immunity is fiction and some is reality.

let me be clear, there will be some who say you can win immunity for your heart, this is a lie. your heart can never be immune, for you will always love.  for years, i thought i had won that immunity.  the cost was high, but i thought, finally i've put in my time with suffering and have won.  i have earned the right to love without fear of abandonment or hurt.  i have won immunity.  this, this was a mirage.  immunity cannot be gained.

and so the pendulum will swing, you will discover that immunity is a lie and so you will say, i will shield, i will block, i will armor.  this too baby, is a lie.  there is no defense that does not first injure you.  there is no armor that will let love flow without the risk of inju…

how i've surived and how you can too.

it's funny, there are hundreds of women that are thrust into this role every day, the widow role.  maybe becoming a single mom, maybe just marked by the death of a spouse.  and somehow i have found myself already eight months out from it.  i look back and think "how did i survive?" even though, in all honesty, i have a very clear idea of how it was done.  i've been wanting to write this for a while (because i know you haven't heard from me much recently and are just WAITING for more posts - ha!)
because although i have done this with the grace of jackie kennedy i know there are so many women out there who are just waiting for my sage advice on this subject matter.



so in no particular order, here are my top steps for surviving as a widow written entirely from my perspective and bias



(1) focus on the immediate moment.  immediate moments can be your saving grace.  my life is pretty much still really freaking hard, but i pull myself back.  right now i am sitting in s…

if you're looking for a way (a way to restart) you don't want the keys to my heart.

there is only so much distracting one can do, i suppose.  it has become a valve, which for the most part, i can shut off, i actually have trouble turning it on.  99% of the time i can look at pictures, videos, of us, they almost don't mean anything.  the meaning has been sucked from them, a color photograph faded in the sunshine.  but when they do mean something, when i feel it, i feel it to my bone marrow.  i feel it in every cell, the pain the hurt the hell.  it is then i have trouble breathing, it is then my chest hurts with a physical pain i have never experienced before.

what i had (RIPPED away).  and there is this fine line i walk right?  i crave what i had while not ever being able to get burned like that again.  i have read some advice would be a loose way to say it of women who have loved again after tragedy and the consensus is, no right way to do it, just know it takes someone special, especially then kids are involved.

i have had to rework (and continue) to rework my…
you're getting halfway up the mountain and you just keep jumping off cliffs.  they don't exist but you put them there.  then you wonder why it feels so rocky when you land.  you are refusing to climb higher, instead you keep burying.

girl watchchu doing to yourself.
own worst enemy
bringing it down
down on yourself


stop reaching, hand slapped down.  you can't have it, you aren't worth it, stop stop stop.  just jump.  just stop.  the noise is loud, it's too loud, the lights are bright, they're too bright, it's haunting.  a loop you can't stop, you can't ever stop it.

I wanna stop these nightmares
I just wanna touch your face
All you see is all my feats 
All I see is all my flaws
All I hear is all my demons
Even through your applause
All you see is all my flights
Well all I see is all my falls
All you see is all my rights
All I see is all my wrongs


shhh.  don't admit your faith is weak.
CUT the scene, that's a wrap.

reflection.

i watched a video that my iPhone made, a video of 2016.  and it had just all of these beautiful and painful moments just wrapped into this four minute video.

the depth of my pain this year has been, at times, unbearable to the point where i wished for death.

but i saw so much smiling in those videos.  so many sweet moments and so many memories that happened when i was in a fog that felt all encompassing.



this year i felt the church's love in a way i have never before felt
this year i was able to take my kids on a disney cruise because of my co-workers at carters and the fundraiser they did for me
this year i was able to move because people came and packed and loaded me and helped with the cost of moving
this year my kids had a play set built for them while they were in another state
this year we imposed on people over and over again with our loud, yelling and crying little family of three
this year my daughter made beautiful friendships because people weren't afraid to reach …

in the in between.

it seems to me that the biggest struggle is wanting what i don't have.  alayne and i have always had opposite dating lives, ha.  when i was engaged and married she was out doing alayne, living her life, she bought her own place, she's made huge career advancements.  and at times it felt like i was just stuck you know.  my life didn't feel like it was advancing because my life wasn't really, our lives were advancing.

my personal advancements were slow and few.  they happened, of course.  i was discussing with my counselor how, of course, when i compare the personal growth i've had in the past eight months to the personal growth i had in five years of marriage, it can be skewed.  i've had nothing but time, nothing to do but grow.  in the last year of my marriage i was pregnant, started working again and took care of three additional people beyond myself and my own pregnancy.

anywayyyys.  this is a very roundabout post about how i struggle in the in between.  es…

known.

to be known is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.



to be heard, seen, understood, to make an impact, to connect, to reach.  life is lived in those moments, the moments where we are known.

if you find that in your marriage, then you are lucky indeed.  we sum up events with single words: birth, death, widow, divorce, marriage.  a single word, as if that accurately describes the shifting sand of the days and months of those events.  as if a single word gives insight into what it feels like when you see your baby's face for the first time, the moment when you walk down the aisle to him.

the moment where you stand there in a viewing room in twinsburg, ohio and say goodbye to your lover.

i walked in with them, addy grasping my hand tightly, lane on my hip, wearing my dress from elly's service.  a week and a half after i did the same walk up to my daughter.  that moment he died, that moment we ceased to be, it almost swallowed me whole.

i walked up to him losing a part …
mentally i've been placing myself at about six months out from everything.  in my head i think, "six months ago you were jim's wife, six months ago you had your family" but the truth is we've somehow crept up to eight months.  it doesn't feel oddly significant in any way like six months did, it's just that somehow i feel stuck at that half year mark.

i am a living dichotomy right now.  my emotions are level but my actions can swing.  "it's ok!" "it's not ok" round and round back and forth.  it is a constant pulling myself back, reigning myself in.  it's not something i've ever been good at.

and just there, i've done it again.  constantly undermining myself and my actions.  i give so many things a broad sweep, but when it comes to myself, the same doesn't hold true.  the broad brush i paint others in becomes a fountain pen with no room for error.


i want to look at myself and say "it's ok"
i want t…

shadows.

the shadows are swirling a bit.  my mind has been consumed by them, lethargy and indifference rearing their ugly heads the past 24 hours.  it rained all day today, at least the sky seemed to say, it's ok, i get it.

i remember you pure and warm
in the belly of a midnight sun
you were playing on those dark clouds
but they didn't come 



you, you, you.  do you get why i had to trade our life in for my own?  i know all these widows who are like "well i would just think to myself what would so and so do and then i would take that into account" and i'm over here just thinking "mmm.... that doesn't sound like what i do"

you, you, you.  i remember it was shortly after it happened, jumper came on the radio and i almost lost control of the car.  all of my connecting points with you have gone out.  the only surviving remains of me are ones that were untouched by you.

being without you has numbed me to the joy of still being here.  being without you has broken me do…

six.

to the girl i was six years ago,

oh sweetheart.  you poor, naive, little girl.  i know, i know you knew enough that when you stood up there you were cognizant of the fact that you really had no idea what you were getting into with marriage.  i know that you were mostly excited, but a little bit scared if you could actually fulfill that role of someone's wife.  i know that you had no idea what it would be like that first winter, that first year, living with him.

i know you felt incredible love and a strong sense of unity, which was to be continually eclipsed throughout the next five and a half years.  i know that you felt sure you were looking into the face of your eternal rock.

i wish i could give you advice, i wish i could give you some words of wisdom to help you navigate.  navigate the rocky first year while you struggled with depression and adjusting to marriage to someone who in all honesty, you didn't know that well.  words of wisdom for when adelynn entered the picture …
it is only within facing ourselves that we can process external stimuli.  it doesn't take much to cloud my mirror quickly.  a couple days without journaling, a couple decisions without much thought... very quickly in our world of things can i lose sight of myself.

“A man’s ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful, while his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless beside being ugly. Which is the best man to deal with, he who knows nothing about a subject, and what is extremely rare, knows that he knows nothing, — or he who really knows something about it, but thinks that he knows all?” 
― Henry David ThoreauWalking


this day, set aside for quiet reflection and thanks and also now shopping, is a mixed bag for me.  in the years past i was always thankful for my family, right? my family and husband and house, etc.

this year i am thankful for myself.  for a self that has kept the fight for over six months.  for a self who refuses to allow a family to break. …
I should have known better
Nothing can be changed

The past is still the past
The bridge to nowhere

I should have wrote a letter
Explaining what I feel, that empty feeling


Don’t back down, concentrate on seeing
The breakers in the barthe neighbor’s greeting
My brother had a daughter
The beauty that she brings, illumination



thank god for sufjan.  this season is so confusing, so many feelings, so little time.  up and down, in and out.  we spin around but we aren't moving at all.

there is still a large part of me that wants to refuse to participate in life since i can't do it perfectly.  i wish i could, i wish i was perfect.  i want guarantees, i want concrete examples of how i will be taken care of forever and ever.  it doesn't work that way - i suppose.  what i want and what i experience are so drastically different.  sometimes i feel it is so difficult to lean into the true beauty i am still experiencing, because tru
i have
  (no anchor)
i float .a.w.a.y.

the grasp (always out of reach)
  goodbye i say, goodbye
wish you well, you say,
wish you well

up here i drift
 am i safe again?
there are no ties,
try to teach me a lesson?
i lash
  o.u.t.

the theme, the theme they cry!
it is forever being
  searched/but
never uncovered

remain hidden
in the clouds
  a.l.w.a.y.s.
in the clouds
  f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

goodbye, i say,
  goodbye.
i remember first reading the giver when i was probably eleven or twelve.  it made a mark on me, being a voracious reader, i probably read hundreds of books throughout middle/high school, but i remember that one.

i was running on the trail the other day, just thinking about it.  the task of holding pain, the task of holding memory.  most who have seen my level of loss are in their seventies and eighties, and it doesn't seem so bad at that point to see all these pages being ripped from your book, because you know that your story is getting ready to come to a close.  the chapters are almost done and although the cross is getting quite heavy, it is almost time to put it down.  that is what seems so much, the weight of this cross for my expected lifetime... it seems insane.

and of course, none of us are promised days, and while i could die tomorrow, a 29 year old caucasian female non-smoker, runner... i would say the odds are in my favor.

it would seem to me that although people woul…
your daughter (our) is the one to hold me through my tears.  it is getting harder and harder to cry.  there is still so much numb.  it's like looking at pictures of a different family, a different girl.  sometimes i wish i had physical scars from what i went through, just so i could see it.  so much changed and yet nothing (everything) looks the same.

it should be your arms holding me, your voice whispering that we are ok that i am ok, that it wasn't our fault (my), your kisses bringing me back down to sanity.

from the moment i met you i felt safe.  i had been through so much in the past year in relation to guys and then all of a sudden, you popped up, and no matter what i said or did or how i acted, you just stayed and stayed and stayed, you proved yourself over and over in the beginning.  and i felt safe.

i gave you my heart for safekeeping - only letting it out when we had children, each of whom have a piece tucked inside of them.  and now, now i only have two pieces rem…
this has been a weird year.  i am sad today, regardless of the outcome, i would have been sad.  this election has been brutal... like most of my 2016.  i just keep picking myself up off the floor.  because addy needs me.

a mom who can face loss, day in day out.  and still smile at her, still laugh with her, still tickle her.  the hits just keep on coming.  it is difficult right now to smile and to keep pushing forward in my life. yes, i've faced personal loss but there is also the future to think about, my kids future to think about.  our country, our climate... it's been a rough ride, a very rough ride.

today though, we mourn.  we mourn, because regardless of who you voted for, this was not a character driven election, we mourn because right now we are sad, and divided, and scared.  today we mourn.

but in my mourning i remind myself that he does not speak for me, or my house, or my kids.  that he has no personal influence on how i treat people on a daily basis.  that regardl…

8 months.

elly,

remember when you were alive and i could take a picture of you whenever i wanted to?  i had no idea what a gift that was... remember when you were alive and i could snuggle you close and listen to your breath?  i did know that was a gift.  recently it seems the breath of your siblings is what is keeping me going.

i am distraught without you here this season baby.  the summer i could handle, the autumn i could handle, but christmas?  christmas without my last baby?  why did i get you just to lose you?  why did i get to see you and smell you and touch you and love you just to have you ripped out of my grasp?  out of my life?

how can we ever celebrate without you?  did you get to dress up for halloween?  addy asked me what you were in heaven, we decided you were a lamb and daddy was a pumpkin.  i hope you did baby, even though let's be honest your mom didn't have the greatest track record dressing up her babies for their first halloween... both of your siblings went uncos…

today.

today you are missed.  like every day precious girl, like every day.  but today especially.  i am sitting in starbucks, thinking about you, crying.

what is it that destroys our spirit?  or are we born with it?  an awareness that no one makes it out of this game alive?

She tips her head to the side and it all falls out.  Everything she has been hiding.  Everything she has been keeping secret.  It is there, sitting in her lap.  And it’s nothing special really.  It’s the same fears and hopes and dreams that everyone carries.  She is not special, she knows this.  There is nothing rare about her.  She floats around in her life wasting it.  We all waste it, what makes a worthwhile life?  What makes an admirable goal?  Happiness?  It is a facade, a mirage in the desert.  There is no happiness, there is only a salivation for more.  There is no contentment to be found, just a fueling passion for better.  There is no saving, there is only dying amongst the wreckage, a brittle pot cast on the st…

the holidays

well they are sweeping in like a hurricane, right?  so many specific dates, so many memories.  this season last year was probably the most exciting time in my life.  i was pregnant, working, i treated buying gifts for my family like a part time job.  i had started shopping in october for addy.  we spent thanksgiving with our friends and then i worked all night at carters.  i loved it, the excitement, all the shoppers, the endless lines.  christmas was magical, as it always had been since 2010 when jim and i planned our wedding for 12/4.

alayne came up and visited us in november.  we talked and watched millionaire matchmaker, jim ran out and got us mcdonalds "you know what sounds good" she came and saw me at work.  we talked about life and what the past ten years had held for us, ten years, ten years of our life had held surprises and hard times but we were happy.  both of us were happy.  she was interviewing for a new job and i remember being so proud of her.  our lives had…

let it flow

it is the cusp of autumn here in the south.  i know some places up north have already faced snow, meanwhile we are trucking in at 85 degrees still.  the leaves are changing though, and falling, crunching under our feet as we run out the door and getting tracked into the house as we come in.

we are starting to settle.  the dust is starting to clear, numb is wearing off.  and i am faced with life, the reality of life, and for the first time in this, i feel ready.  ready for a job, ready to interact with people again and not have them know every detail about the situation, ready to cook for my family, ready to be emotionally available to my kids so they can process their grief.  

when everything first happened, i felt so apart from society, so marked and scarred.  it was crazy to me that i could be walking around doing normal things and these people around me didn't know what happened.  you almost have this compulsion to spill it to everyone, to tell them what's going on, to explai…

on having your own identity.

we train ourselves to always look for the positive in situations.  this is a skill that's honed, a professional development over a lifetime.  you know when this gets awkward?  when it relates to death.  for some reason we think our brain shouldn't go there.  it should have the boundaries of knowing that nothing good can come from death.

my brain is such a muddled place recently, it is a ball of yarn that will most likely never completely unravel.  i still spend a lot of time just in thought, thinking about why i did what i did, the impact it's had on my life.

when a marriage ends, there is this very real part of you that sheds that part of you like a coat that doesn't fit anymore.  and it doesn't really matter how/why it ends.  i failed for a large portion of our relationship to carve out an identity for myself outside of being jim's wife and my children's mother.  and the reality of that is that deficit started when i met him.

our love story so unique a…

dating in 2016, also huge LOL at even posting this.

Half of me can’t even believe I am writing this post.  Dating is gruesome, isn’t it?  Like most of life, I suppose.
The weekend that Jim died I was standing there, a wreck, while my phone was blowing up.  Alayne goes “who is texting you so much?”
I respond “oh those are just my tinder matches” 
and I know that not everybody gets the hilarity and all I can say is until you are in the fire, you don’t see the need for a respite from getting burned.
anyways, i was talking to my therapist about dating and i commented “single, widowed mom, sole custody of two kids… it’s a tough sell” and it is.  
i have this story that literally leaves people speechless.  most people when they hear it don’t even really know how to interact with me much less get involved romantically.  and i know eventually it won’t be such a big part of my identity, this widowed, grieving mom, but right now it is and if i want anything to do with the person then it’s like they have to know it.  
again, it’s a tough sell. 

overprotected.

remember that britney spears song "overprotected" no, just me? because yeah i still listen to britney spears.

there is this tendency in all of us, to protect what matters of course.  i do it with my children, my dogs, my friends.  sometimes feeling helpless is worse than taking the pain personally.  usually it is, unless you are in a really extreme example.  God knows i'm going to go ape shit on the first guy that ever tried to mess around with addy.  sometimes i think about the road she is going to walk, with mean girls and bully, unrequited love and heartache... it's so hard to even imagine.  ultimately though, i know that in order for her to be her best i am going to have to release that grip.  that grip of trying to make everything perfect for her and instead just stand there in the paint with her, allow her to get hurt.



truly we can't really protect other people can we?  all we can do is struggle ourselves.  people spend too much time overthinking circumstan…
dear jim,

we tried to do our family pictures today.  lane sucked his thumb the whole time and refused to be put down and addy was throwing a tantrum.  there were lots of family's there doing fall pics and i had to laugh when i saw one dad in his tucked in button down and styled hair just swear under his breath and go "and i'm done" and literally walk away from his two year old.  we all have those moments right?  being done.  it wasn't as hard as i thought it would be, probably because it didn't actually happen.  the photographer was like "well... if you want to come back and do another mini session.... i don't think i got much today"

I wish you were here to talk to.  I miss having my friend here.  It's so difficult babe.  The other night I couldn't sleep and I just thought about how if you were here it wouldn't be that big of a deal because you'd stay up and talk with me.  Remember that one night in our Streetsboro apartment wher…

can't stop.

someone once asked me if everything that happened played like a movie in my head.  normally, the answer is no.  i would never sleep, never function if it did.  having a child die is beyond horrific.  knowing i'll never get to kiss her again, never see her eyes light up in a smile, never have an elly/mommy date.

i can't sleep tonight.  my thoughts go continuously to jim and elly.  every time my body relaxes into sleep, i am jerked awake.  my head is pounding and not even addy's breaths are lulling me to sleep.

people set off fireworks tonight, why on a thursday i'm not sure.  little did they know, the sounds of them caused a 29 year old single mom to go into a panic attack and hyperventilation state.  each one sounded like a gun shot and i could not snap out of it.  it went on for close to thirty minutes.

and that's the thing right, i walk around and look like i'm fine and look happy.  no one knows.  today i was at a kid's museum and there is a pretend ambu…

to my daughter

dear a,

oh addy.  you turned four yesterday, you turned four and i failed you so badly on your birthday.  yesterday i had this moment when i was just yelling and being angry and you came up to me with this sad look on your face and just grabbed my hand.  you understand so much more than you let on baby.  i know you feel it too.  my relationship with you is so special, you take so much more of the load than you should.

to you who held my head when i was sobbing hysterically and patted my hair, "don't worry mommy, you're not alone"
to you who has literally saved my life with just your breathe when i've been close to the edge
to you who drapes your lanky body around mine just perfectly and nuzzles into my neck
to you who grabs my face and looks into my eyes when i'm angry and upset, searching for understanding

to you my daughter, i hope one day, when you have kids of your own you know how much i tried and how special you are to me.  i hope you know that i liter…
to my love,

i reeked of self-doubt today.  i.could.not.pull.it.together.  there is a large part of me that blames you for this today.  all of me wants to blame you.  my steps were false, my figure was halting, my frustration was always present.

your beautiful little angel turned four today.  do you remember that day four years ago?  my water breaking at our stow house?  i've never seen you happier than in that moment.  jesus babe, she missed you so much today.  you couldn't find it in you to stick around for that?  we talked about it constantly, you and elly missing from our "party," half of her family not even around when she turns four, to be four and have lost half of your family already.  and then i'm yelling because i'm frustrated and sad and tired and i miss you too and i miss my daughter.  and it's all a mess.

even in my new reality there is still disbelief.  not as much as in ohio for sure, but a part.  a part of me still whispers (he can't ha…
dear elly,

friday is sissy's birthday.  you would have been seven months old.  always into numbers, your dad and i were so excited that your birthday was 3/7 the combination of the birthdays of your siblings.  i woke up thinking about you today baby, your warm body cradled into mine the last time i held you.  your peach fuzz of dark hair against your scalp.  how is it that i barely knew you and yet i miss you terribly, missing the soul that knew mine so well.

i remember on daddy's birthday i was holding you and drinking half a glass of wine and your brother and sister were just going nuts playing "playground" on our couch.  they were (rarely) completely occupying themselves and you and i were just hanging and i thought to myself "this is the most chill baby i have ever seen" part of me wishes i knew in that moment what was coming ten days later.

i woke up thinking about you today.  i haven't really been crying since i moved and i needed it today, whic…

homeless.

homes are interesting.  in america we put so much emphasis, even turning into a job title "homemaker."  and it's not a bad thing.  for me it immediately draws the opposite correlation of people in other countries whose homes are huts and what it means to them.  but that is neither here nor there and not what i was intending for tonight.


tomorrow marks five weeks since we started packing our stuff up and almost three weeks that we've been down here without the majority of our belongings.  tomorrow i will unpack.  my coffee mugs, my coffee maker, my blankets and pillows and throws.  my kids toys and stuffs, our pots and pans.  for me, being without the majority of my stuff in combination with also not having a home has been... more trying than i expected.  this is the first time in my life i have experienced homelessness.*

my house in ohio is packed up and ready to sell.  the rooms are empty, i imagine them forlorn, i'm not sure if that's the case.  i hope whoe…

live in the same building, but we got different views.

in the peaks of community isolation exists.

you know what i do when i see a homeless person standing by the side of the road?  I ignore it, stare straight ahead, pretend I don't see them.  I DON'T ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR PAIN.  this has been on my mind a lot recently, probably because i know what it feels like when others refuse to acknowledge the scars you have and it blows.  
i saw a post on Facebook about putting together bags, just a glad ziploc with socks, soap, toothbrush, maybe a granola bar and a bottled water.  keep 4-5 in your car and when you see a person on the side of the road, hand them a bag.  you're prepared, you know they need the items, and it probably cost you like five bucks.  i plan on doing this tomorrow.  just getting the items, having them ready.  knowing that it's not ok to ignore pain.  
i share that not to say look at what i'm doing but more so, look at how ignorant we can be even in the midst of great suffering.  if you aren't suffering at…