What to do

Yesterday someone reached out and asked what I suggest they can do for someone who is going through the loss of a spouse.  We have “talked” about this many times, but not everyone knows what to do.  Many of us don’t really think about it until someone close to us is going through hard times.  I’m glad this person reached out.  And then I thought, why not put it out there again.

I would say, the biggest thing that you can do to help, is TO help.  Don’t ask what you can do, don’t say let me know what I can do, don’t want for them to ask for help.  I know that people really want to help, I have been in the same situation many times.  You want to do something to help, but the person won’t ask for help no matter how many times you offer.  Here’s the thing, it’s a whole new world after a traumatic loss/diagnosis/accident, anything that dramatically changes your life and who you are forever.  I’m a very independent person, I’m a take charge kind of person.  While Aires was alive, either I did whatever needed to be done, he did it, we did it, or we hired someone to do it.  Once he passed, things changed.  Obviously he could no longer do his part, nor help me with decisions, nor help me doing things I can’t do by myself.  I had to ask for help.  It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, it’s not who I am.  So when I did ask for help, most of the time someone stepped right up and things got done/resolved.  But a few times people just offered to do what I needed help with, but never reached out to tell me when they could do it.  They were waiting for me to contact them and ask again.  It was hard enough to ask the first time around, I could not go “hey, you know how you said you’d help with blank?  Can you come over this or that day?”  It just wasn’t me.  So some of these things remain to be done to this day, many others I’ve hired people to do over the last few years.

So my main advice is just do.  Everyone needs groceries, maybe the person won’t give you a grocery list, but hey, you know everyone needs certain staples, things that won’t spoil.  Things like toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, soda, beer, wine.  You can also get a gift card to a grocery store, movies, restaurant, spa, anything that you can thing of, if you know the person’s likes, it makes your life even easier.  Depending on how well you know them, you can offer to take over some of the bills for a month or three or six, whatever you can/want to do.  Maybe you can pay for the landscaping (I had someone do that for me and it was one of the best things anyone could have done for me that fateful summer), you can pay for the cleaning lady, you can get them a ready cooked food delivery service, anything to make their life easier and for them to have one less thing to think about.

And another thing, I know this one is a little touchy.  I know people like to help, but they like the recognition.  However, once in a while, consider not putting your name on the gift.  It’s a simple act of kindness, one that will feel the person feel loved, but they won’t have to thank you for it.  Don’t get me wrong, I felt the love anytime someone dropped something off, gave us something, reminded us of how loved and thought of we were.  But the ones that showed up without a name, those were even more special, there’s something about the selfless act of giving and the receiving without knowing who was thinking of you, who makes it so very special in such a different way.  And don’t stop doing it after a month, or three months, or six months.  I can tell you that the pain never goes away, I can also tell you that the second year is in many ways so much worse than the first year.  And ten years down the road, it still won’t be gone, it still won’t be easy, it will continue to be painful.  If you think of them when you see something in a store, get it for them, even if it’s ten years later, you will never know how much of a difference your little act of kindness makes in the life of someone grieving/sick.

I love you all, I’m one lucky girl, I have the best tribe that rallied around me from day one and has not left my side.  But not all people have a tribe as fierce as mine, if you know someone who is in need of help, of a show of love and kindness, don’t think that someone else will do it, don’t think they have closer friends who will take care of them, just do it.  You will feel better and they will feel loved.

Another year has come and gone

Three years have passed since the day that Aires took his last breath.  I can say this and it feels like it was just yesterday that we were waiting in the hospital waiting room for the doctors to come and say that he was gone.  And yet I can also say that there are days that it feels like he’s been gone for an eternity.

I clearly remember  many things at the hospital, the nurses who were all exceptional, the doctors two of which I could have physically harmed, the smells, the sounds, the friends who came as an army without me asking.  At the same time, all of it is a blur, I know that I said and did, heard and experienced things that I do not remember at all.  Mostly I remember going around the entire time just screaming inside.  I remember the constant loud scream inside.

The one thing I completely remember is the moment Aires passed.  We walked with him until he went into the operating room with both his team of doctors and nurses and the team of organ transplant doctors and nurses.  I didn’t want to be in the room when he actually passed, I had seen enough to be traumatized for a lifetime, I didn’t need to have that memory as well.  It was just his body there anyway, his spirit had been gone from his body since the accident itself.  So we waited in the waiting room for the doctor and nurse to come tell us that he was gone.  We waited for what felt like hours, but it wasn’t, maybe an hour or a little over.  There was a huge storm going on outside, at around 10:20pm the lightning and thunder was right on top of us, it was loud, the wind was intense and the thunder shook the room.  I remember feeling him leaving, angry, oh so angry.  I know it was 10:20 because I looked at my watch, something told me to do it.  When the doctor and nurse came to tell us he was gone, they told us that he survived about 20 minutes after they disconnected him from the machines.  I asked what time he had passed, and they told me about 10:20.

I also remember and never again want to feel the kind of loss, anguish, being lost, not knowing what to do next, and the most agonizing desperation.  I didn’t know how to go on, I didn’t know what to do next, I didn’t know how I could even be able to go on without Aires.  It felt like the world had ended, and yet I wasn’t allowed to have it be that way.  I had two little boys depending on me, I had to go home and tell them that their father would never come home again.  I had to be strong for them, whether I could do it or not wasn’t important, I had to do it!  If I didn’t have those two little boys waiting for me, needing me to carry on, needing me to be there for them, strong for them, show them that it would all be okay somehow, if I didn’t have those two little boys, things would have been very different.

I can say that everyone who tells you that the grief doesn’t go away, it just becomes part of you, is correct.  Three years later, I grieve no less, but I grieve differently.  I’ve learned that the grief will always be with me, it will always be in the background, always lurking around.  But I can live with it and still laugh, still function, still do fun things and enjoy things.  It’s a conundrum to understand until one experiences a very hard loss.

I saw this the other day and saved it:

“I have learned what I wish every person on this earth would learn before it’s too late.  That life is fleeting, that love is a gift for a finite moment, that we should soak it all up and savor the little pure moments of beauty.  That you can long for someone’s arms more than you long for your own breath.  That not being able to talk to your person is far from just lonely… it’s an empty and dark hole that seems impossible to escape.”

I’m going to say that given what has happened to us, we are doing okay.  Josh still doesn’t like to talk about it much, he deals with it internally.  He has told me that talking about it is not going to bring him back, is not going to change anything, so he only talks about things with me when he needs to get something off his chest.  Jake continues to see a therapist on and off as he needs to do so.  His feelings are much more present, he has a lot to work through, I do believe he will be in therapy on and off all through his life.  I’m teaching him to recognize when he needs to go back to see the therapist, and to ask me to go back.  I want him to know how to do this on his own when he’s older and on his own.  I continue to push things deep down, only allow a thing to come up here and there.  I don’t have the time, or the energy to deal with my feelings, my anger or anything else that requires a lot of emotional energy.  I have to keep going, life doesn’t stop and the boys need me to be here for them.  Like I keep saying, they will soon be gone, and then I will have plenty of time to deal with myself.

I am tired, all the time.  I am stressed, all the time.  I forget things, things that I never used to forget.  Birthdays, big days for friends that I should remember and ask them about.  I forget to check in on a friend who isn’t feeling well.  I forget everything, my brain is on overload, it doesn’t stop, yet forgets half of what’s going on.  I’ve started to give myself a break, it is what it is, I know nobody expects me to be who I was.  I hate that I’m not that person anymore, but then again, I will never be that person again.  It is what it is.

In a week we’ll be going back to see daddy.  When we’re in Anna Maria we talk to him more, since we spread his ashes in the water down there, we feel like we are with him when we are down there.  We go in the water and we talk to him.  This is an example of the kind of what grief does to people.  We will never be able to talk to daddy again, but because his ashes were spread down there, being in the water makes us feel close to him.  This is missing someone to the max.  Everyone deals with loss differently, this is how we do it, this is one way of how I keep daddy alive and next to us.  There are many others of course, this is one that is very special to us though.

Tomorrow is the first day of the journey that takes us to year four, not much will change.  We will all get older, we will go through school, activities, vacations, ups and downs, teenage moods, discipline, happy times, sad times, exhaustion, stress, pride, joy, and forever memories.

 

 

Three Years

Today is the three year mark of Aires’ accident.  It’s the day that changed life as we knew it forever.  Today, June 6th and June 8th are the hardest days of the year.  I know most people say, use the date of death as a day to celebrate his life.  We celebrate his life and his memory every day.  And even though I still celebrate Aires’ life on these two very hard days, I also have to acknowledge my pain.

This day is hard because it’s the day that I knew Aires was never coming back to us.  I know that people had hope and people kept giving me comforting words and hopeful words, but I knew.  The moment I walked into the hospital room and looked at him, I knew he was gone.  Something that I don’t know if I ever mentioned before, but today I was very aware of it, I remember looking at him and knowing he was gone from his body, but he was in the room.  I felt his presence and I felt his anger and anguish.  I remember telling him in my thoughts that I couldn’t handle his anger, because my own was taking over every cell of my being.  I remember feeling his anguish along with my own as we both knew that he was gone forever, there was no coming back from that kind of injury.

I was angry at Aires for having fallen asleep when we talked about it so many times, just pull over and sleep in the car.  I was angry at him for staying out so late when he had had a late week and he knew he was tired.  I was angry at myself for not having called when I went to bed, maybe he would have come home earlier.  I was angry that he was driving his truck instead of his car, the truck had no airbags.  I was angry that my children would not have a dad growing up, they are boys, they need their dad, they were cheated out of a full happy life.  I was angry at God for many different reasons, but this one I will keep between me and God.  I was angry at the world, at Karma, at anything and everything in the universe that had any influence in the accident.

I was in shock, I went into a state of denial for my own protection, and I started suppressing a lot of feelings and emotions.  I will let them out slowly, as I am ready to deal with them.  The most important thing for now is to get the boys through life, get them grown and into their own individual lives, then I’ll have plenty of time to deal with myself.  Until then, I deal with things as they come, every once in a while I deal with something that just comes up whether I like it or not, like the memory of the anger and anguish I felt from Aires that day when I arrived in the hospital room.

During our time in the hospital there were many doctors that came and went as the different shifts changed, I liked some, I hated some, I almost punched one, I had to hold my hands together.  We had the DNR in place, then we took the DNR off because there was some “progress”.  Throughout the whole process, I knew there was no hope, I knew he was gone, but I still went with the flow.  I didn’t know why, it was what the doctors were suggesting, it was what everyone was telling me to do, keep hope alive, it was what family and friends wanted.  But I knew.  And then the people from the organ donation came, it became clear to me why we were holding on, not because Aires would ever come back to us, but because he was supposed to save some lives on his way out.

I can’t decide which day is worst for me, today or two days from now.  Because for me, today is the day Aires was gone, but he didn’t actually pass away until the 8th.  It’s basically three days of very sad memories and there’s not one better than the other.

What I know for sure is, the boys and I are doing okay.  The boys are doing great in school and in their lives.  They are well adjusted, they talk about daddy frequently, they bring him up in conversation, they have memories that they cherish.  I am trying to keep it all together and trying to keep my promise to them that although everything had changed forever, I would do my best to keep everything, our life plan, the same, as much as I possibly could.  I also know that we would not be doing this okay without the love and support of our dear friends, friends who have become family.  My tribe is amazing, their love and support has carried me through the hardest times of my life, they didn’t ask, they just did, and they did a lot!  They are still doing it to this day.  It’s the little things, a simple gesture that shows us that they are holding us in their heart.  For Jake especially, maybe he was the youngest and people’s gestures showed him they cared.  To this day, when something is left at the door, he wants to know who left it and why.  He often tells me that I have the best friends!  Awesome friends!  Thoughtful friends!  And he is right, I really do.

I know it’s not nearly enough, but all I can say is Thank You!

 

Going in

I guess at some point I need to start visiting or revisiting all the things I’ve been putting away behind imaginary closed doors and stuffing down deep as to not have to deal with them.  It’s been two years, I’ve dealt with all the pertinent things, I’ve done all that I had to do (no choice in putting those away), and whether I like it or not, it’s time to start dealing with all the baggage I’ve put away for “later”.

One of these things is the boys’ birthday albums.  Yes, granted that at the beginning I didn’t do them because I didn’t have the time, and let’s face it, not having time is the greatest excuse in the world.  I can keep myself so busy that I don’t have time to sleep, so this was not hard to do.  And even though I didn’t notice it at the time, the real reason why I didn’t want to do the albums was because I didn’t want to relive all the feelings and the emotions, the change from happy family to very sad times.  I’ve become so good at this denial thing that I can even trick myself.

Yesterday, as I had some time on my hands, I decided it was a good time to finish downloading the pictures and finish putting together Josh’s 12-13 year old album.  I had started it already, so obviously at some point there was a conscious, or not so conscious decision on my part to not put the album together.  It all started just fine, but then I started to find myself getting anxious, and stressed, but I couldn’t figure out why.  It was one of those moments, that I had to stop and figure myself out, try to figure out what was wrong with me, why was I so anxious?  Then I realized that I was getting awfully close to June… The pictures of the funeral were coming up, and the vacation that followed without Aires and everything else that followed without Aires.  At that point I had to stop and not work on the album anymore.  I was done!  Again.

But, and there’s always a but, during the afternoon, Josh had seen me working on his album and told me how happy he was that he was finally going to get his albums.  The thing is, both boys love their yearly albums, their year in review, it brings back the memories of all they did things that they even forgot they did.  They love to look at their albums every so often, it’s a tradition that they cherish.  So, once again, like so many times before, and many more to come I’m sure, I picked myself up, I put on my big girl panties and I continued to work on the album.  I can’t say that today was easy, I can’t say that going through all the emotions of seeing the funeral pictures was easy, or that it didn’t break my heart to once again look at the vacation pictures of the three of us, not four.  To feel all those emotions again as if it was the first time, to relive it all as if I was there at that moment again.  What I ended up doing was I worked on a page, then I went to cook, or clean, or take care of the dogs, or do laundry, or whatever else I had to do.  I didn’t get very far, I’m only half way through our beach vacation.  Breaking it up to one page at a time helped keep the anxiety down and all the emotions to not just keep on building up.  I gave myself many breaks so as to not completely break down.

I want to do this, I want to finish the albums, the boys love them and I want to do it for them.  It’s been two years, but it still feels like it was yesterday.  Most importantly, I have to allow myself to start opening some of these doors that I’ve closed, I have to start dealing with the things and the issues that were not as important two years ago, even a year ago.  But these are things that I still have to deal with, however big or small they are, I know it’s not healthy to just let things linger.

I wasn’t going to write this blog, but then again I couldn’t go to sleep, I felt that it was something I needed to get off my chest, to admit to the world that I have too many closed doors and that I need to start dealing with all those doors.  Maybe it’s to keep me accountable to myself, now that I’ve said it “out loud”, maybe all the stress and anxiety from working on the album is keeping me awake.  Either way, here it is universe, I recognize that it’s time to start opening some denial doors, some “I can’t deal with this right now” doors, and some “I just don’t even want to think about it or acknowledge it” doors.

25 years of true love

Today was hard, goes without saying, I’m sure nobody thinks today was easy.  Actually “today” has been hard for about a month now, the expectation of this day has been hurting for a while.  It hurts every year on this day, but today was special, it was 25 years of marriage, 25 years of love, our silver anniversary.  I have been saving my grandmother’s 25th wedding anniversary band to start wearing today.  I did, but it doesn’t feel the same as if I actually had a husband present in this world next to me.

For many years I envisioned this year, being the planner that I am, I was planning a special trip for the two of us.  Every year we went away for our anniversary, whether it be an overnight, or a short trip, we made sure to take the time to celebrate us, alone, like it was before we had kids.  This was after all a special year, it had to be celebrated special.  Instead, I went to work, ran errands, fed the boys, went to back to school night for Josh, ran to Target for some more school supplies that Josh just came home needing and finally got home at 10pm.  It was a very long day, a regular day, nothing special about it, nothing celebratory about it.  It was a sad day, though I put my happy face on, after all the people at work didn’t need to see me mope around all day.  It was a hollow day, I felt empty the entire time.  I miss him every day, I’ve felt like half a person for two years, but on day like this, I actually feel completely empty.

I knew it had been a horrible day for me when on the way home from Target, the song Despacito started and I started crying listening to the lyrics.  I’ve been dancing in the car and enjoying this song all summer long.  Tonight the lyrics had a whole different meaning.  Like many things in life, I never know when something small is going to hit and knock me out.  This song did it tonight, the words were all about what I’ve been missing for two year, not about what they were actually meant to be.

I have to say though, as usual, my friends came through for me, as they always have.  These girls are the best, they will do anything for me, they have proven it many times over.  Anything I need, they are there, I could not have gotten to where I am today without their support and unconditional love.  Many years ago, while watching an episode of the Golden Girls, I had to idea to host a “wear your wedding dress again party” for our 25th anniversary.  It was always meant to be a girls party, not a couples.  Even though it had nothing to do with Aires, it had everything to do with Aires.  I had decided to make an excuse and not have a party, but my friends asked if I was having it, they encouraged me to have it, so I did.  I’m glad I did, I would have regretted not having it, and let’s face it, I needed to deal with the pain that I was trying to hide from.  Hiding from pain doesn’t make it go away, just hides it, puts it in denial until one day it all comes bursting out.

Taking my wedding dress out of the preservation box, all the memories, so many happy and silly memories from that beautiful day when I joined my soulmate forever.  Having it hanging in the closet for a week, seeing it every day, it had the usual effect that every good memory has, it was beautiful and painful at the same time.  Of course the wedding dresses didn’t fit, that was the whole point, that’s why it was funny, that’s why I wanted to have the party.  Wearing that dress again, so many emotions came through me.  For the first half of the party, I was busy, distracted, in denial, I kept just pushing forward and trying to have fun with the funny silliness going on around me (we did look hilarious).  But towards the end of the night, I don’t think my fake smile was tricking anybody.  The sadness was coming through, whether I wanted it to or not.  But my awesome friends carried me through, they looked silly for me, they laughed with me, they made sure that I did what I needed to do, they supported me the way I need it.

I know people look at me on a daily basis and I look okay, they assume that I’m doing good.  And that’s fine, because that’s what I want to happen.  It’s a weird dichotomy really, I am in essence two people.  I’m the person who lives down deep, who loves and misses Aires every second of every day.  This person is sad, all the time, the one thing that could make this person happy, can never happen.  But at the same time, I can’t go through life being sad all the time, both for myself and for the boys.  I have to live life for/with them.  I have to give myself a break and enjoy the life that I have left, I may not like living it “alone”, but I owe it to myself  and my boys to be the best me, the happiest me, the loveliest me that I can be.  There are days, many days, that I have to make a conscious decision in the morning to change my mood.  There are days, that I get up and I’m ready to go in a good mood already.  These are what they are, the start of the day happy days are slowly increasing, that’s a good sign.  It doesn’t mean I’m getting over it, it will NEVER happen, it means I’m learning how to live this new life of mine a little emotionally easier on myself.

Today was a sad day, it’s just what it is.  I wore the keepsake necklace with Aires’ ashes, it’s the closes I can have him physically to me, it helped, not by much, but it helped.  I touched it all day long, at work, after work, I’m still doing it as I type this.  The only thing that helps me, is that I continue to feel Aires’ presence around me, around us.  It’s not much, but it’s something, I may be grasping at straws, but it keeps me going.

 

 

The not so distant future.

I’ve been trying to get myself together enough to write this post for two weeks.  I just got all the air kicked out of me, and every time I’ve attempted to start writing (which was almost every day since two weeks ago), I couldn’t bring myself to type it.  It’s not like it’s a new thing, not a new “discovery” about myself, I’ve known it and have tried to deal with it since day one.  But for some reason it just hit me in the face, hard.

Two weeks ago, Monday, we were in Cocoa Beach, I dropped off the boys at surf camp and went back home.  I got myself ready to go to the beach and off I went.  I walked the two blocks that took me to the beach, I laid my towel down and laid down, as I always do.  It felt weird, alone, lonely.  I kept checking my phone, but I had no signal, I was afraid something would happen, the camp people would try to get in touch with me, and couldn’t.  So after an hour and turning my phone on and off a few times, I just got up and went back home.  It was on my way home that I figured out why I was feeling so weird.

It felt that I was already alone, as in the boys are all grown up and out of the house, on their own.  I got a glimpse into my future and it felt so sad and lonely.  It didn’t help that when I got home, I showered and ate lunch alone again.  I’ve always known that one day it’ll be me an whatever dog I have at the time.  This implies being alone and lonely at the same time.  This is why I can’t see my future after the boys leave home.  The old plan is out the window, I’ll have to come up with a new plan, but I have no idea what that is.  The unknown is hard to imagine, hard to deal with at this point.

I’ve had nightmares about this, a couple over the last two weeks.  I don’t know why it hit me so hard and all of the sudden.  It’s not like I haven’t know that this will happen, it’s not like I haven’t been home alone since Aires passed.  I know nothing of the future, all I know is that I have a few long years ahead to figure it out, while still having the presence of the boys at home with me.

I’ve said it before, that I’m good at compartmentalizing my feelings and emotions, things that I need to deal with.  I close a door on it and don’t deal with it until I can deal with it.  I don’t think I was ready to deal with all those feelings yet, but being in the situation of being alone away from home and at the beach kind of formed a perfect storm.

Hopefully, now that I’ve put it out there, said it out loud, dealt with it for two weeks, hopefully now I can start to deal with it and not have it behind a closed door anymore.   Maybe it’s okay that I don’t have a plan, and it’s okay that I don’t know what I’ll do when the boys leave.  Maybe for once it’s okay that I don’t have a plan and just go with the flow.  I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve had a hard two weeks of self therapy, lots of emotions and emotional moments, I can hopefully not be so afraid to deal with it.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day, a day that used to be so fun, full of joy, activities and celebration of the man that made our lives what they were.  He worked very hard for us, so I could stay home with the boys, so the boys could be in sports and activities.  He came home late almost every night, but tried to make it in time to kiss the boys goodnight before they went to bed.  If he was needed at a practice, a game, an activity, to pick up or drop off, he dropped everything and was there.  Many nights he worked late into the night at home so he could be present at games in the middle of the afternoon.  He was not perfect, none of us are, but he was perfect to us.

These days are hard, the birthdays, the special anniversaries, but this one is different.  Because the others are personal to us, this one is shared with the whole world.  We can not get away from all the commercials on TV, or on the radio, all the displays in the stores, all the news stories.  It hurts me, but it hurts more because it hurts the boys.  I see their faces, I see their silence as these come up.  They have no comment, they have nothing to say, they are just sitting there feeling sad and empty as they see everyone else celebrating Father’s Day.  I know that not everyone celebrates, I know of too many just in our neighborhood who do not have daddies to celebrate with either.  But in the boys’ mind, in what they mostly see around them, everyone has a daddy, all their friends have a daddy and they don’t.

The other day Jake came home and was very upset.  It was something that happened while he was at school, I don’t know what, he didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t push it.  But he came home asking me why he was emotionally challenged. At first I had no idea what he was talking about, I asked him what he meant, he said because he didn’t have a daddy but all the other kids did.  These are the moments that you might as well stick a knife through my heart, it will hurt less.

Time does not heal everything, time does not make it all go away as if it never happened.  This is part of our lives, it will forever be part of our lives.  Aires will never be there for anything that happens in the boys’ lives, nothing at all.  They know that, they know that he’s going to be missing for every major event.  Jake wore his chain with Aires’ ashes for his 5th grade promotion.  It’s as close as he could get to having daddy there with him, and he wanted him there so badly.

So, here we are, Father’s Day, it’s done, the boys are in bed.  We made it through the day, as we always do.  We celebrated Aires in every way possible.  We built a Daddy Chair, it was supposed to go outside, but the boys wanted to keep it in the man cave so they can see it and use it all the time.  We built a new grill so that we could grill again.  Aires loved grilling, he made it a point to learn how to do it well, we grilled almost every weekend during the summer.  As he didn’t come home until late most nights, we didn’t grill during the week, but on the weekend we grilled and we made sure to have enough for lots of leftovers.  Last year our grill fell apart as I was using it, I got a new one, but we hadn’t built it yet.  It felt right that we should do it today and use it for the first time.

As usual we did our balloon release with messages to daddy in heaven.  This year even Rocky and Apollo participated.  And both boys surprised me as they wanted to take care of dessert.  Josh asked to learn how to make brownies (out of the box, I’m not going from scratch with him yet!), and then Jake asked to decorate them.  They both felt very much involved, very much part of Father’s Day, to make the day about daddy, even if he was not here.

At the end of the day I told them about the butterfly.  When I was walking the dogs first thing this morning, there was a black and white huge, beautiful butterfly that kept following us around.  I looked at it several times, but just kept going.  At one point, it flew real close to me, right in front of my face.  I looked at it and said “Hi bud, Happy Father’s Day”, and after that the butterfly flew away.  He wanted to make sure that I knew he was with us today, and I know he was.  There was also a butterfly out on the porch when we were taking the new grill outside.  I told them that daddy was proud of them for having built it.

This day is not easy, it never will be, but I want the boys to celebrate, I want them to remember daddy, to remember how fun and proud of them he was.  I want them to start traditions that will continue as they get older and I will no longer be around, I want them to celebrate daddy for the rest of their lives on Father’s Day. Not just feel sad, not just wish he was here, but to be happy and remember the good days, the fun things we did, how he was present in their lives, how he loved them most of all, he loved them above everything and everyone else, those boys were the light in his eyes, the pride and joy in his heart.

I wish I could bring him back for them, but I can’t so I just try my best to keep him alive in their memories, in their lives, in all the small and big moments.

We love him, we miss him.

 

 

I’ve said it out loud

The blog is working again, here it goes.  I know I’ve not written in a long time, it was on purpose.  Long story… long, when I started working, I had no idea how emotionally demanding this job would be.  I was already at an emotional deficit, keeping it together became very hard.  There were crazy mood swings, there were days I don’t know how I got out of bed and went to work, there were days when my brain just didn’t work at all, there were many days of not being able to catch my breath.  The saying goes “I’m holding on my a thread”, I had lost the thread, I couldn’t see the thread anymore, I was sinking quickly and had no idea how to stop it.  Winter break came, the holidays along with it, life became more emotional demanding and finally I had to sit with myself and figure out a way to survive.  It was obvious to me that I couldn’t deal with the emotional demands of me, the boys and the job.  So, I put myself in the back burner.  Like the therapist used to tell Jake, put it behind a door, close the door and you can deal with it when you get home from school.  Except, I put it behind a closed door and didn’t deal with it until now.

I knew the day was coming, I could see June coming around, but I still ignored it. Then one day, a good friend asked if I wanted to have my girls come over one night this week, to distract me, show me love, show me I’m not as alone as I feel.  And then there it was, all of the sudden I started talking to her about it, and I said it out loud.  It became real right then and there.  All the weight came back on my shoulders, all my emotions flooded back in a hurry, it was a hard afternoon.  But let’s face it, I needed to accept it, just because I ignore it, doesn’t mean the day doesn’t still come around.  I gave myself a quick talk and the planning began for what to do with the boys, to celebrate daddy’s life.  That was another challenge, we usually go to a restaurant that we used to go to as a family, that part was easy. But I wanted to find something more, that’s when I came across the garden stones, and they were perfect.

The one thing we’ve always done, because it’s what Aires would want us to do, is we’ve kept life going as close to normal as we can without him being part of it physically.  Tomorrow, Thursday, the day that Aires actually passed away, that is the day we celebrate his life, because that is the day we lost his life.  But tomorrow is Josh’s 8th grade dance.  I will be volunteering at Jake’s school first, helping set up for the promotion on Friday, then I will be volunteering at Josh’s school serving dinner for the 8th grade dance.  The dance will end at 9, it will be too late to go to dinner.  We decided that we should go to dinner yesterday, on the day of the accident.  It was perfect, the boys had golf, they played 9 holes, golf was one of daddy’s favorite things in the world.  Then we went to dinner at Bonefish, Jake’s choice, we had many family dinners there over the years.  When we came home, we opened the box with the stones, that was the first time the boys saw them.  They loved them, and were happy to have one to put in the front yard, one in the back.  No matter where we are, there’s a stone there with us, and daddy loved our yard, landscaping and doing yard work, it’s so meant to be that there are stones celebrating him out there.

Tomorrow is going to be hard, but will go fast for sure, with all the stuff I have going on all day.  Ever since I said it out loud, I’ve been hearing the loud, violent thunder that was going on outside when Aires passed away.  I don’t know what that means, but I do know that it’s like a background noise always in my head.

I have to thank you all who helped me through this rough rough year.  I can’t believe that tomorrow will be my last day with this class.  I couldn’t have made it without all the support from those around me.  There were many days this year that I didn’t even know how I felt, there were just too many things going on all at once.  I wanted to just quit, quit life, quit everything, just lay in bed and be done.  But thanks to all the help and support behind me, here I am, done with the second year of being without the love of my life, and done with the first year back to work.

 

A reflection on 2016

Now that 2016 is over, I started reflecting on it, and it turns out, it was not a very good year for certain things, but a wonderful year for others.

Let’s start with the wonderful, my babies.  Josh and Jake both overcame many obstacles in the road of learning how to deal with loss, learning how to live life celebrating daddy, all the while hurting and missing him at every turn.  They had to learn how to deal with the pain, how to make it part of who they are in order to move forward.  I dare say even, how to turn some of that pain into joy when we talk about daddy, what would he say, what would he do if he was here.  There were a lot of remember when… moments and the hopeful/happy/heartbreaking moments of “I felt like someone pushed me to do it…”,  “I saw a butterfly and then I had the strength…”, “I screwed up and there was that butterfly, telling me it was okay…”, “I heard daddy’s voice in my head…”, and so many others.  They kept up with their school work, never missing a beat when it came to their grades.  I reinforce all the time “for as much as everything has changed forever, we’re going to try to live as if nothing has changed”, which simply means that we’re going to keep the life plan we had before daddy passed away, the aspirations, plans, dreams, everything that we wanted and envisioned for our lives, we’re going to stick to the plan.  I worry about them a lot, I keep a close eye on them, I want to make sure that they deal with their pain, but pain does not become who they are.  I’m so proud of them for overcoming the unthinkable, the unimaginable, for continuing to move forward in a positive way, to be the boys that daddy is so proud of as well.

As for the furbabies, Apollo outgrew his limp, thank goodness!  He will never be the long distance walker, much less the runner, but it’s okay, neither is mommy.  Rocky can go for runs and bike rides with Josh, and they can both go for regular walks with mama.  Other than the little things here and there, they are both happy, healthy and spoiled rotten 🙂  Just the way mama likes it.

As for me, I can say, without a doubt that this has been the hardest year of my entire life thus far.  There’s a good argument for 2015 having been the hardest, but after living through 2016, it was worse.  Half of 2015 was still great, compared to 2016 it was absolute perfection.  The second half of 2015 was pure hell on earth, but it was also full of so much denial, exhaustion, distractions, confusion, legal issues, it was a whirlwind, everything happening at once.  In 2016 things calmed down a lot.  It wasn’t totally calm, there was still all the Estate things to deal with and finish (finally finishing it up this month, yes, it’s been a year and a half!!!!), there were taxes, there were a lot of different things that finally reached a conclusion.  But most of it was taken care of, and things calmed down, there was more time to think, more time to realize that this wasn’t a dream after all, reality really sunk in.  There were all the sports and activities to deal with as one parent with two children, and even though a lot of people offered to help, I’m not used to being the one who needs/asks for help, I’m the one who helps.  Life also gets in the way, and though people have the best intentions when they offer to help, schedules don’t align, which is totally understandable, I never expected anything different, not trying to blame anybody here, just another example of how though surrounded by awesome people, I felt alone.

More and more I did and I did and I did, I could not understand why I was so busy, but I was, it wasn’t made up stuff either, I would go go go until midnight or later, every day of the week, non stop.  And yes, I was busy because on the one hand I refuse to slow down, I still want to do it all.  But also, and I realize that now, because I didn’t want to slow down, slowing down means that I have to face reality head on, if I’m busy, I can just concentrate on what I’m busy with and keep going without having much free time to think about life.  With all this business came the point of exhaustion, the feeling that I can’t take anymore, that I need a vacation from life, a vacation of course that I refuse to take, and so I keep going.  I was thinking about it the other day, there are days, when things just aren’t going right, when I feel like a china vase that broke into little pieces.  Then the little pieces were all put back together, but are being held with simple scotch tape.  And as the days go by, more and more happens, it’s as if someone is filling the vase with sand, and when it’s full, they pat it down hard and put some more it, then pat it down again and put some more in… and it feels like the scotch tape isn’t going to hold for long.

There’s also the loneliness, there’s just no way around that.  I could be surrounded by all my friends, I could be in a room that is full of my wonderful friends who are like family to me, and I would still feel lonely.  Because the one person who could take away that loneliness will never be able to do so.  Living like this for a year and a half now, has given way to depression, and that put together with the stress of everyday life, and stress of… I don’t know everything, it got me to the point of “I don’t care”.  I started to eat to quiet down the stress and the pain, after all, who do I have to look good for?  I just let go, I stopped caring, I stopped taking care of myself, I guess at some point I had to drop one of the juggling balls, and that ball was me.  Now I’m at the point that everything hurts, I don’t feel good, none of my clothes fit, I can’t look at myself in the mirror or pictures, I’ve hit rock bottom.  I had to ask myself what I was going to do, I can’t keep going this way, and the first thought that came to my mind was that being overweight has been linked to getting cancer.  I hope that thought scared me straight, I have to turn myself around, figure out a way to deal with all this crap that is going on inside my head, all the stress, the loneliness, the unhappiness, the misery, the everything horrible.  It’s like I have a split brain, half is so happy and proud of my babies, the other half just wants to curl up in the corner and disappear.

The second year is worst than the first, that has become apparent.  I have to figure out how to deal with myself, how to make this be something that I live with, something that gets incorporated/assimilated into my life, not something that takes over my life.  Wish me luck for 2017, I’m hoping that I can keep up with the goals that I have for myself.  These came from the conversation that I had with myself yesterday and today, yes, I do talk to myself, a lot…  that’s why there’s a Me, Myself and I, between the three of us, I can usually figure things out, most of the time 😉

 

One year and a half

Today marked the one year and a half since Aires passed away.  I’ve been looking at the calendar for days now, it’s been approaching.  I try to not concentrate on the days of the month, I try to forget what day it is at the beginning of each month, but this one was a big one, it just kept coming, there was no forgetting that it was approaching.

Not much has changed since a year and a half ago, and yet everything has changed.  The boys and I have adapted to life without daddy, we talk about him every day, Josh wears his clothes and shoes, they both write to him, we include him in everything we do, we keep his memory alive and part of our lives.  But yet everything has changed, because he is not here, his physical presence is not here, the person that we need here, in human form, is not here for us, to be what he was, what we need him to be, there’s a void that nothing can fill.

The boys have done a lot of fast growing in the last year and a half, I have tried to protect them as much as I can from some of the harsh realities, but there’s no protecting them from what our new life is.  There’s no mommy home all the time, there’s no mommy volunteering at school, there aren’t as many home cooked meals.  Mommy’s out a lot more than before, shopping and errands now have to be done after work, or on weekends.  I feel bad for always being on the go, I’ve told them tell me when they want/need my attention.  If they come to me and ask me to sit on the couch with them, watch some TV, scratch their back, or just sit and talk in bed when I put them down, whatever it is, all they have to do is say the word and I will drop everything to give them attention.  I had to do this, because Josh one day asked me when I was ever going to sit on the couch again so he could sit with me.  It’s when I realized that he was needing mommy time, but wasn’t asking because he could see I was busy and he didn’t want me to have to stop.  We had a heart to heart, I told them that they can have my attention any time they need it.  Nothing is more important to me than they are, I will drop whatever it is I’m doing and sit with them.  We have had many more cuddle sessions lately.  Their grades continue to be good, they have friends and are happy and involved socially, they are happy, they are not depressed or withdrawn.  It makes my heart smile to see them thrive even when life kicked them in the gut and took their legs from under them.

I am… I am how I am, it is what it is.  My kids are doing well, which in turn makes me happy, that is it.  In the past year and a half, I’ve had to grow up, I’ve had to toughen up, I’ve had to do things I never imagined I would have to do, I’ve had to say things I’ve never imagined I would have to or wanted to say.  I’ve had to learn about many things that I didn’t care about knowing before, I’ve had to take over tasks that were never my job/responsibility before.  I’ve become a much different person in many ways, but still the same person fundamentally.  It’s weird to look at myself sometimes and not recognize myself.

And I continue to go back to the same old same old “it feels like it was just yesterday”, it doesn’t feel like it’s been a year and a half, when I wake up with Apollo instead of Aires, when I do anything with the boys, anything at home, anything family related, the void is there, and it’s there as if it happened yesterday, not as if it happened a year ago.  We are not okay living life without Aires, we live life without Aires because we have to, we weren’t given a choice.  We miss him, we cry because we miss him, I cry more when I see my kids crying because they miss him.  It’s not been a year and a half, it was today, just about over an hour ago.

But life goes on, when I get up tomorrow morning, as I do every morning, I deal with myself while I shower and get ready, then I put on my “day face” and life goes on.