Still here… And Still Hurting…

Hi All,

I’m still here and still hurting, but am managing to still look towards a brighter day. It takes so much effort that there are days I simply want to give up, but being as determined as I am to be okay again makes giving up impossible.

My beloved husband is still alive, and alone. Again. I haven’t been allowed to see him since November 18th and the days drag on. Imagine if you can; having a brain that doesn’t work the way it should, not being able to use sound reasoning, and being afraid. All of this and more is how my husband lives. He’s well taken care of by the staff at the Hospice Unit he’s in, but mentally he’s tortured by his own brain. The stroke took away his ability to understand things, it took away his reasoning skills and it made him fearful, childlike and distrusting. To know he lies in a bed 24/7 with no one that loves him like his family does nearby breaks my heart. Every single second that makes up every minute that makes every hour that makes every day, I think of him. Every. Damn. Second… And I’m not the only one. He has a large family and friends around the world praying for him, but because of his injured brain, he can’t comprehend this. It’s not living.

I had hoped to be allowed back into the hospice unit by now to at least visit for 2 hours a day as I was before the current Covid surges, but there is no end in sight to this present ban. I’ve begged with his doctors, and the Veteran’s Administration to explain how I am more of threat to him, or the other patients on his unit, than all the staff members that come in and out on a daily basis and the answer is always the same… “It’s a national mandate.” Well, your national mandate is killing all of your patients via loneliness, and it’s cruel. And nonsensical. And don’t even let me get started on people denying the virus or not wearing masks. Public health is a public responsibility and as a public, we’ve failed. Because people don’t care enough about others, I cannot visit my dying husband. My feelings about irresponsibility would make for another post, but suffice it to say that I no longer feel confident I will see my husband alive again. In fact, if he should pass soon, I would be grateful on one hand, shattered on the other. No one should have to be alone because of all the naysayers and irresponsible choices other people make. No one.

I’ve been working for UPS as a seasonal PVD (private vehicle driver) and have 10 days left until I am no longer employed. I took the job as a way to pass time and not sit home alone and all up in my own head. That’s a scary place to be sometimes. The job is physically demanding on this almost 60 year old, but I’m determined to finish. I almost quit when my BFF advised me to stick it out for earnest money on a new home somewhere down the road. She was right. Every box, bag and tube I deliver is another front door closer to my own again. It’s been hard, but I committed to it and I will see it through to the end. Over the past 14+ months since the stroke changed our lives, I have come to realize that nothing is easy, and that easy is overrated. Working hard has its own rewards and I see exactly where I want to go with what I’ve earned. Patience… Something else I’ve been forced to learn that doesn’t come easy. Ever. Someday when I look back on what we’ve been through since that fateful day in October of 2019, I’m sure I’ll see one set of footprints in the sand, and know that God, my family and my friends carried me, and my husband through the most difficult journey ever. Easy, like I said, is overrated.

The beginning of a New Year usually comes with the hope of something “better.” I’m not looking for better, nor do I expect it. I’m looking for the peace that seems to elude each and every one of us from time to time. I know it’s out there, I’ve experienced it, and I am hopeful that I will again. I don’t make resolutions, I believe they set us up for failure. I set goals, and make a map for myself on how to make it from point A to point B to point C. You get the picture. In 2021 I pray I remain as strong as possible for the dark days that lie ahead. I pray I will feel the warm, southern sun shine on me again. I pray that my husband is granted mercy, peace and healing. I know that with those things I am facing more heartache, but joy comes in the morning, right? I know he wants me to be happy, and I am determined to honor him by finding happiness again. One breath, one step, and one day at a time.

In closing I would like to wish whoever reads this a Happy New Year. May you find happiness along the journey of your life and may you share and experience kindness. We all deserve that…

Photo by Barb Enos

Seven…

Three years ago, in 2017, I was driving the 1000 miles from Boston to Asheville. After a very painful, 7 week spilt from my husband, we comitted to try and put our marriage back together. We. As in two.

I left because I thought if I could just make my husband see how mean he was, maybe he could find a way out of the misery he was in. Without me. By the third day of separation, I started to realize that I was so verbally abused, and abusive, that changes had to happen for both of us. As individuals and as a couple.

I hurt so many people when I left, and some of them will probably never truly forgive me. It’s okay. My husband forgave me. I’ve forgiven myself. After three years time, I no longer seek, nor need forgiveness from those who won’t give it. My husband forgave me, our families forgave me, and most importantly, God forgives me.

Six months after returning to Asheville, our lives were upended again. We were vilified as parents, thrown away, and forbidden to see our oldest grandson. I’ve often wondered if the reasons given for the estrangement weren’t made up, and was the estrangement a form of retaliation? Retaliation for the pain I caused when I left my husband? The reasons for us being thrown away don’t matter anymore, we were able to stand against the pain together. My husband held my hand, I held his. My husband let me cry in his arms, he cried in mine. We stood up for one another, determined to keep moving forward.

Seven weeks later, (seems there might be a commonality going on) I spent a weekend in Charleston, SC, loving on, and being loved by, the daughter and grandkids we were allowed to love. That trip was the application of stitches that started to sew back together my shattered heart. When I got home, my husband was gazing into the backyard and didn’t know I was there. When he realized I was standing behind him, he turned to me and said “I think we should sell the house.” I asked why before considering what he’d said, and he answered with “my Poppy heart is lonely and I want to love our grandkids.” I said yes to selling without hesitation.

After the decision was made, we spent the next seven weeks getting ready to list the house. Cleaning, purging, updating smaller things like doorknobs, hinges, painting, and replaced the roof. Busy times. Very busy times.

We listed our house on August 3rd, had a full price offer within 24 hours and closed on August 30th. We packed up a large POD, a storage unit, and headed north, to Boston. Again… Just for a visit, though. I had found a smaller house on a quick weekend trip back to Charleston, but our close on that property wasn’t until Sept. 28th. We took our time driving to New England, stopping often to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, the Pocono Mountains, and the changing colors of fall in New England.

We had been in New Hampshire about 7 days when my beloved mother-in-love tripped over a threshold and fell. She broke her femur and I am so glad my husband and I were there when it happened. I called 911 and by the time my husband came down to the garage, we could hear the sirens. Off she went to Manchester, later to have surgery and go to rehab. She did well and went home after we left.

I write all this to let you all know that life happens. Sometimes we determine our own course, at other times we are pushed along the road of life, even if we don’t want to make the drive. Since moving into what should have been our last home, we have sold that home, purged again, driven thousands of miles and settled in New England. My husband’s stroke in October of 2019 has been the determining factor in all decisions made since, and we are both exhausted by life now. Yet it seems there is more to do…

Not being able to see my husband in hospice is slowly killing me, and he is incredibly lonely. How could he not be? I’ve been trying to make sense of the non-visitation rules, but I can’t. I’ve been trying to keep myself from falling apart, I fail. What I can do is remember that my husband and I rebuilt the foundation of our marriage on the Rock that is Christ, we put ourselves and our marriage first in a non selfish way and that we choose love.

This part of my life hurts. There are no words out there to describe how hard it is to watch your spouse die. Now I can’t even do that. I call every day to check on him, but not being able to hold his hand, kiss his face or just sit quietly with him is beyond comprehension. He’s dying. Alone. Physically. My husband never walked away from his faith like I did, and the promises we depend on to keep us strong are just that… strong promises. We share an unbreakable bond, and that bond is what will keep me going after he’s gone.

Darkness comes. Often. More often than I would like. I spend my days praying for the man I love more than my own life. I pray that the peace and rest he so richly deserves finds him. And finds him soon. I pray that I will be strong enough to let myself fall apart and just be. I pray that the broken hearts that have already shattered because of my husband’s stroke be healed with love, and time, and grace.

Thank you for reading this, and please know that there is a day, somewhere down the road, that light will shine upon you again. On me. On my family. And friends. The storms don’t last forever… right? They just feel like they do…

Photo by Barb Enos

Getting Lost is Too Easy…

Hi all. I hope this entry finds you all well and staying safe. With the holidays right around the corner and the virus raging out of control, I know times seem dark. They are dark. And it’s easy getting lost in the darkness. At least for me it is…

My husband is still hanging on to life, but declining steadily at the same time. It’s been almost two months since he went to hospice care and I feel like it’s been so much longer. So. Much. Longer. I am lost in the depths of a sinking sadness and it just doesn’t end. There is no way to say this. It just is. I pray constantly for his pain and suffering to end, knowing that mine will be made greater when he passes. It’s okay. I know I will heal as best I can and I hope to get lost in the healing process. I hope that makes sense… I am so lost in the grieving process already, and have been for over a year now, so the healing process will be a welcomed change.

Today my husband asked me not to cry, but I don’t know how to stop. It’s so easy to get lost in the sorrow of the journey we’re on. Finding reasons to be happy still come, just not as frequently as they are welcome. I did have a reason to be happy for a little while today when talking to the other Gma of our oldest grandson… He got a new puppy on Monday of this week and our boy named him Moe. I learned that our grandson has shown great responsibility in caring for Moe already, and that Moe brings healing to his heart. This is the same grandson we lost to the forced estrangement more than 2.5 years ago, so knowing that he is happy means everything to me. I am so grateful for the small things in my life that bring me moments of happiness.

Being lost in the love of my family is easy, and I appreciate them so much. I am so wounded and not fun to be around, and the people of my family are loving me through the pain and the loss to come. I won’t be the only one to lose my husband, and I know that all of us will be left a little emptier after he’s gone. I think sometimes I hurt so much that I close myself off, and they know this. So do my trusted friends. I’d like to believe that the people I love aren’t hurting, but they are and I can’t fix that. I wish I could…

Getting lost to the sadness is one thing, getting lost in the anger that rears its ugly head is another. I have been angry a lot over the past 13 months, but lately that anger seems to sink its teeth deeper and deeper into my soul. I don’t care if people agree me when it comes to the decisions I’ve been making. What other people think of me is none of my business. The climate in which we all live in the U.S. is toxic. It’s also emboldened people to give voice to their opinions about MY decisions. If I want to know what someone thinks about what I’m doing, I’ll ask. The saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes… Yeah. I get lost in that anger and I can’t shake it off as easily as I used to. I know I shouldn’t care, and most of the time I don’t, but when closer then most people to me say shit to me about what they “would do differently” I get pissed. When it’s your turn to do things differently, go ahead. I sincerely hope you never have to do things differently… I hope you never have to sit by a loved one’s bedside and watch as the Grim Reaper slowly takes his sweet time torturing them.

I wish I could be more positive and encourage you all like I used to. I hope to get back to that person again someday. I know I’ll never be the same again, but I also know that I will be okay and that my story will be an encouragement to someone else someday. When people tell me how strong I am, I tell them that I’m not strong, I’m broken. Being broken is okay, and so is being strong. I’m not strong enough to be anything but broken right now and it’s as it should be. I am not afraid to ask for help, I am not afraid to cry and I am not afraid of what is coming. There is a strange sense of strength in the brokenness I feel, and someday I will try my best to put the pieces back together again. Until then, I’ll try really hard to not get lost in the pain…

Stay safe, be kind and know that I appreciate you all making this journey with me. Until next time…

First snow of 2020. Photo by Barb Enos

Dancin’…

Good morning, all, I hope this entry finds you all well and staying as safe as possible. With Coronavirus surging again, the future looks more bleak every day. That’s what got me thinking about dancin’…

Dancin’ with the devil… Dancin’ on the ceiling… Dancin’ in the dark… Dancin’ in the Rain…

Take your pick, the field is wide open. Right now I am basically dancin’ with the devil. The devil of depression, the devil of despair, the devil of loneliness. Too many devils to name them all. What keeps me going is knowing that I can and do dance with my friends, my family and with my faith. I don’t write much about how I believe, but I do. And that belief helps me beat back the devils I dance with on a daily basis. I’m a believer that doesn’t identify with mainstream Christianity. I know that’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s the truth. I see things from a more open-minded view point, and how I pray, practice my faith and worship, are very personal to me. I don’t share much more than that.

Dancin’ is something that should make us feel good, the more movement we get in in a day helps keep our spirits up. I love all different kinds of music and sometimes I just want to find that rhythm that makes me move without even thinking about it. I know that when people drive by me and I’m dancin’ in the car, it always makes them smile, and sometimes laugh at me when they pass by. It’s okay, I laugh at myself, too. I believe in simple joy, and knowing that even for a few seconds that someone finds something to smile about in this dark and somewhat oppressive world because some fool woman is dancin’ in her car brings me joy. Simple.

Do you ever think about how crappy this world would be without music? Without dancin’? It would be a place that I would not want to be, music sustains me. Especially in this dark, dreary and uncaring world. I would rather listen to music than watch TV, and dancin’ is just a way to bring music to life. My husband and I would dance in the kitchen when he was able to. I would dance in the kitchen with my children held in my arms when they were young. I love to hold my grand-babies and dance with them when I am able. Being silly and dancin’ with my beloved Boston Terrier, Morgan was something I would do often. I miss dancin’ with my dog, he crossed the Rainbow Bridge in July of this year.

Dancin’ is a simple way of relieving stress and who cares if you look foolish or not? I don’t worry anymore that people will think I’m a freak for expressing myself. I don’t care anymore what other people, especially those I don’t know, think of me. I am broken and hurting and trying to keep my head above water these days, so what someone else thinks doesn’t matter. Stress will eat us all alive if we let it and adding to that because of someone else’s opinion? I don’t think so…

I just wanted to say a quick hello and am getting ready to head to hospice to visit my husband. Please know that I appreciate all of you and the time you take out of your busy life to read my blog. Have a joy filled day and remember to dance whenever you want! Life is too short not to!

Photo by Barb Enos

When I…

Hello all, I hope that this post finds you all well and staying safe. Thanks for checking out today’s post!

When I think about what is happening in my life and the lives of those I love, I frequently become overwhelmed. Writing helps me make sense out of things that seem nonsensical. Most days during this particular time frame are pretty much nonsensical to me, and I literally end up overthinking every thing. It’s been a tough weekend for me, as are most weekends right now, and I would give almost anything to be able to change things. I’d change things not only for myself, but for the people I love that are dealing with losses and trials of their own. While driving home from visiting my husband in hospice today I realized, for the umpteenth time, just how much being an empathetic person takes out of me. Today, for an hour or two, I would’ve traded myself in for a model that couldn’t feel as much. I’m over that now, but those feelings gave way to so much more than myself. It gets exhausting carrying the weight of so much emotion, and if people like me aren’t careful, we lose ourselves to everyone and everything around us.

When I think about this last week I have to say that it was by far one of the hardest of my life. I never thought that saying goodbye to my son-in-love at the airport would open up the flood gates to so much emotion. I spent the week barely existing, barely functioning. I feel a little better today, but the bruises on my heart will take some time to heal. My heart remains broken, but my mind is a little less chaotic than it was 7 days ago. My youngest daughter and her extended family received some devastating news that set all of us reeling in disbelief and grief. I have spent the last few days praying for peace and healing, for comfort. Healing in this situation will be a very long time in coming, and the acceptance of such news as was received will not happen overnight. So much pain…

When I think about the loss I am facing with my husband, I am so conflicted. So very conflicted. I love the man I have been married to for the past 38+ years with my whole being, yet I am agonized by watching him suffer so. The transition to death is not anything like I think it should be, it’s a very personal and trying journey. The ups and downs of the hospice journey have been confusing, I get angry, I hurt beyond belief, and yet when I don’t receive that dreaded phone call, I am grateful. And I am sad for my husband. My suffering pales in comparison to his, there is no way I can put into words how much watching him writhe in pain hurts me. For him. If I could take it all onto myself, I would. Every damn day. The miracle in all of this will be his freedom from pain, no matter what that freedom looks like.

When I think about the future and what it looks like, I would rather run backwards than look forward. I know I have no choice but to look ahead, as we all know we can’t change the past. Looking forward right now is scary, I know the future holds days of unimaginable grief, struggle and pain. Beyond those things is where I need to focus. Beyond the grief will be healing. Beyond the struggle will be an easing. And beyond the pain will be a new journey that I pray will be honoring to my husband, challenging enough to keep me learning and a new found strength. I already know that I will not be traveling alone, I am surrounded by love.

As always, I appreciate any and all who read this and hope that you find something worth holding on to in my words. You are not alone in your struggles, you matter, and you are loved. Stay safe, be kind and remember to turn your face toward the sun and appreciate its light. And warmth…

Photo by Barb Enos

Thursday Morning Thoughts…

Good Morning. Welcome to Thursday! This week has gone by pretty quickly, but being a day behind until this morning helped speed things up. I’m caught up with the rest of my life now and having a few laughs at myself. I’m glad I can laugh still, especially as my life is falling apart. I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth, still looking ahead to the sun rising again and bringing me some peace. And moments of joy. Even stolen moments of joy.

This morning my husband is first and foremost on my mind. As always. I find myself cherishing each day, each moment with him just a little more than the day before. As the world implodes all around us, I am becoming more and more insular within. His days are numbered, but how many of these numbered days do we have left? Yesterday he was pretty zombified by the morphine he’s now receiving regularly, and while the situation continues to crush my heart, I am at peace. As is he. To be able to spend time with him in the midst of the pandemic is a gift, and I am determined to make the most of our time together. Watching someone you love transitioning to death is not easy, not at all. It’s like a double edged sword. On the one side we want more time, on the other side we want less suffering. I can’t imagine my life without him, but I can’t imagine him in constant pain and suffering. A complex oxymoron…

It’s a beautiful fall day here in New England and the sun is shining brightly in Boston. While the country I love races towards self-annihilation, I find myself stuck between wanting to scream and wanting to hide. I want to scream because people of color are treated as less than by a broken justice system. I want to hide because the noise of turmoil overwhelms me. Especially now. I want to stand up and fight for what matters to me, and not being able to is a tough pill to swallow. Then I think, “Hey! You are fighting for that which matters most! Your husband.” I am learning a little more each day how to grant myself grace. And forgiveness. And I ask for forgiveness from my friends. Forgive me for not being able to do more, but I know you all understand why I can’t. Thank you.

As you go about your day today, remember to be kind to those you meet. You never know what someone is going through. Kindness matters, and these days it matters more than ever. With so much hatred and discord being spread by people that are in positions of great power, it’s up to the rest of us to hold onto kindness and share it. Smile at a stranger, even though they might not see it behind your mask. They’ll see it in your eyes. Let that car trying to turn left into that parking lot go ahead of you, just because you can. Take a walk and just listen to the world around you. Sit in the sun. Be kind to yourself. And others. We all need more kindness and you could change a life with a simple act of kindness.

My Thursday thoughts could go on for quite a while, but I’m ending here. I’m going to take that very walk I encouraged you to do, and listen to the sounds of the city I love. Traffic, sirens and dogs barking are a given, but birdsong, children laughing and quiet are not. These are the things I will be listening for…

Until next time, be well and stay safe!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thank You…

Hi everyone. Another day is upon us all and I want to share my heartfelt thanks to all of my readers, followers and to the world beyond. I don’t have the most successful blog out there, but it’s okay. I want my blog to be something I look forward to writing, I need that more than ever right now. I wish I had the desire to write every day like I did in the beginning, but my life has changed so much since then that I’ve had to completely shift my focus.

Thank you. Those two words never seem enough to say, though most times they’re all we have. There are so many people I wish I could say thank you to in person… I would love to say thank you to the Polytrauma Unit staff in Richmond, Virginia at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. The amount of love, compassion, patience and expertise poured into both my husband and myself while we were there goes way above and beyond “work.” We were cared for like we were family and the time spent there will forever be a cherished memory. As human beings, we’re not meant to spend our lives alone, and we were not alone there. Though Covid-19 kept me from physically being with my husband during his last three months there, I knew that I was there in spirit. I was included in his life daily and saying thank you just doesn’t seem enough.

Thank you. Those two words have been said more in my heart and mind than anyone could ever know. I have known more pain in the past 2.5 years because of other people’s actions, and if I could, I would say thank you to those very people that hurt us. I know that sounds weird, but the pain inflicted on me and my husband served a purpose that I’m sure was unintended. The most painful thing I’d ever experienced was nothing more than the pouring of a foundation on which to stand against that which we now face. The fact remains that we still feel the pain of estrangement, but the pain of watching the man I love slip away from this earthly life far outweighs the pain of being abandoned by our daughter. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and incorporate lessons learned into our present and future.

Thank you. I am grateful to God that I have been blessed with the ability to forgive others. And to forgive myself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget the wrongs committed against us, it means that we accept what is and that we choose to lay down the weapons of anger, resentment and confusion. I have been able to walk through the angst of what life throws at me because I truly believe forgiveness matters. I’ve had to forgive myself so many times throughout my life for things I’ve said and done, and I know I will continue to do so. Forgiveness towards others is easier for me than self forgiveness, but I still believe in it. When someone wrongs you and you hold onto that bitterness and anger, it hurts you, not them. Forgiving isn’t forgetting, not at all. Forgiveness can help you find peace within if you let it.

Thank you. A simple phrase that packs such a punch. Being thankful and having an attitude of gratitude, even in your darkest times, can bring light to your heart. And life. Am I sad most days right now? Sure I am. I also know I will be for some time to come, but that in time, I’ll be okay again. I’ll be different, I’ll change over the course of time but I’ll try to remain positively changed. It’s impossible to not be changed by the pains life gives us. In the long run, over the course of our lives, pain defines and re-defines who we are and who we will become. I accept this. I try hard to learn from the situations that cause me pain, and since life is nothing more than a series of lessons, I know that what I am learning will have great impact on me. I don’t seek pain or painful situations, but I don’t hide either.

Thank you… for reading this. For sharing my journey. For lifting my husband and I in your prayers. I hope that no matter who you are and what you’re facing that you’ll find encouragement through my journey. The only thing that will save us all is all of us, humankind can save humankind, and I am ever hopeful that we will do so…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Wondering…?

Wondering? Why? Wondering why…?

I’m sitting here on the deck of a friend’s house where I am house/dog sitting and enjoying the quiet sounds of nature all around me. On occasion the quiet is interrupted by the aforementioned dog(s) practicing their vocal skills, but it’s still a beautiful evening. A light rain is falling, I’m sitting under the umbrella of the table on the deck and I am appreciating the earth and all it gives us. I think about the darkness that surrounds us all, but am choosing to focus on the light instead. The soft evening light, the soft, gentle rain and the crickets singing are the music of my life at this very moment, and I am not wondering why. Simple things to be appreciated are not always easy to find, but they are out there if we seek them.

Wondering? I do that. A lot. I wonder why did my beloved husband have such a debilitating stroke at such a young age? He was 57. 57. We had a happy, simple life and now all that is gone. It’s different. I am no longer the wife and mom and MiMi I was just 10 months ago. I am broken, battered and bruised, but I go on. I wonder why. Why should I go on and try to salvage what life is left when my husband can’t join me for the adventure? Wondering can lead me to some very somber places, places I don’t need to visit. The human spirit is so resilient, but there are times when resilience is the last thing I want. Or need. Sometimes I want to hide. I want to deny the pain in my heart. I want to stop wondering why.

Wondering is not for the faint of heart. Wandering is not for the faint of heart. I’ve always had a place inside my heart that has both wondered and wandered. It’s the changing of one letter that changes the meaning of both words so profoundly. Is it possible to wander without wondering? I wonder “where does that road lead?” So I wander down that road… Sometimes it leads to a place of breathtaking beauty. Other times it leads to a dead end. The spirit that lives within me has never been afraid of wandering to seek wonders. Nor of wondering to find that the wandering was worth it. Wandering to the edge of the shore is to see my happy place. Wondering what lies across the ocean stirs the urge to wander in the deepest parts of my spirit. I have always had both a wanderlust and wonderment for life. My heart has never been tamed and I pray it never is. It has been shattered because I trusted someone else with it. Or because I put myself out there and broke my own heart. It really doesn’t matter. With every breaking and/or shattering of my heart, beauty is revealed in the ashes. It may take me days, weeks or even years to see the beauty, but it is ALWAYS revealed. ALWAYS.

Wondering… I wonder how it’s possible that I can look back over the past 3 years and see beauty in the ashes. I’ll tell you. Three years ago I was making plans to leave my husband and our marriage. I was halfway through those plans in mid August 2017 and working hard to get out. The why of those plans no longer matter, but they did then. Are you wondering why? Suffice it to say that my husbnad couldn’t “see” me anymore. He couldn’t hear me. Even though I was right there, I was invisible. I’d had enough of being so, so I laid out a plan to leave. It took me twelve weeks to get out, but only seven weeks to go home. I broke him, but in the process of that breaking, I broke myself as well. I had no idea that I needed to broken, I was so hurt about being invisible that I never wondered what would happen if my plan actually worked. I wondered what would happen to my husband, but I had become invisible to myself as well. Let’s just say that in OUR brokenness, the beauty of our long term marriage was revealed. I wandered 1000 miles away from my husband, only to find that he was always wandering with me in my heart. We rebuilt the foundation of our marriage from the ashes of the burning house I’d left behind me and we were happy. And strong. And that strength sustains me still.

Wondering… can take you places in your mind that you probably shouldn’t go. When you start to wander down the dark, recessed roads inside your head, you need to be ready to face whatever is revealed. Revelations that come out of wondering and wandering can have some pretty heavy consequences and those consequences are not going to disappear. Sure, you can shove them down, ignore them, or pretend they don’t exist, but they’ll always find a way back to the forefront of your wondering/wandering mind. My heart and mind are always burdened now with the weight of my husband’s condition, but I am learning new ways to let my wanderlust and wonderment find their way along as well. It’s impossible to be “strong” every damn day. It’s impossible to not feel guilt or despair or defeat on a daily basis. It’s not impossible to pick yourself up and start over. It’s exhausting, not impossible. Wondering how to do that? Wondering why you should even bother? You should wonder why and you should bother because you ARE worth the effort. You. Are. Worth. The. Struggle. I am worth the struggle.

Wondering… What does it take to move forward when the wandering spirit you know so well seems to vacate the space inside your heart that it had so comfortably occupied? Take it from me, I’ve learned over these past 10 months since my husband’s stroke that moving forward is not something you can do alone. Your pride may tell you differently, but don’t put much stock in the voices inside your head. My pride was my constant companion during the plan making process to leave my husband, but I threw it out the window when driving back to him on I-81 in November of 2017. I haven’t reached for it since. I was shattered in May of 2018 when our oldest daughter left our life and took our beloved grandson away from us. I learned that no matter how much you love someone else, it’s never enough. I learned again in October of 2019 that I couldn’t stop the re-shattering of my barely healed heart when my husband had his stroke. I have reached far outside of my pride for help and I have found it. There is strength in numbers, and it has served me well to remember that. Wondering if you have the strength to make it through your darkest moments? Don’t. Save yourself the wondering. Reach out and ask for help. And keep reaching until you find it. Wander the fields of your friendships and familial relationships until you find what you need.

In closing tonight, I hope that the struggles, pain and honest feelings I share here help you in some small way. I don’t have the answers that you are wondering about, I can only offer encouragement. Don’t give up, and know that somewhere in New England there is a broken woman that wonders why. She wanders when she can and she is proof that both wondering and wandering is not as scary as it can seem.

Until next time…

Remember to be kind, know that you matter and know that life is beautiful, even with the pain.

The Eastern Shore of Northeast North Carolina
Photo by Barb Enos

A Love Letter to 1988…

Dear daughter,

February 12, 1988, was a chilly Friday morning in Hampton, VA. Your maternal grandmother was at our apartment helping your soon to be “big sister” ready for school and the dentist. Daddy and I were going to Hampton AFB Hospital to welcome you into our arms and introduce you to the world. You were so loved and we were ready to grow our family for the final time.

You were born after 11 hours and 56 minutes of labor, though not all hard labor. You were very small for a full term baby, sort of blue, and screaming once the doctor got the cord from around your neck. You rapidly turned pink and had a set of lungs that would continue to give you issues throughout your youth. You were jaundiced, laid under the lights in the hospital and then in the sunlight streaming through our patio window once you came home. We loved you so. We still do…

You were an easy child to raise but a difficult babe to carry. I was very sick the entire length of my pregnancy with you. I’ve often said had you been born first I never would have had another child, but I would have. Especially if that child was like you. I remember being so sick your Daddy would cry from not knowing how to help me. Every single day of sickness was worth it because we have you and we love you. So much…

I don’t know how to tell you how much your love has meant to both Daddy and me. How do you tell someone that they’ve been your guiding light? How do you express a love so deep that to think about it brings tears of joy and pain at the same time? Joy because you are a wonderful person. Pain because we miss you so much. You had so many physical challenges to overcome as a young child, and you did. We loved you through all of it, we still do…

You were young when you said to us that you would never hurt us like your older sister did. You never have. I know you miss her, we do, too. Your determination to stay out of trouble and do well in school has led you to a wonderful life full of love, learning and stability. You set the kind of example for your children that shines brightly and they have the most amazing mom. Ever!

There are so many things I would change for you if I could. Your Daddy wouldn’t be sick. We would still be in SC being hands-on grandparents and enjoying being so close to you and your beautiful family. I wish I could give your son back his Poppa. I wish I could hold your daughter’s hand and see her new Hatchimals in person. I miss you and love you, so much. We both do…

When people tell me that they’re amazed at how strong I am, I tell them that I don’t have a choice. I’ve had to be strong. With you I can fall apart and cry and rage and hide… and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. I’ll be honest and tell you that I am weaker than ever, but in that weakness is beauty and resilience. With each day that passes and we cannot be together, I want you to know that I pray for you and your family. I pray that you all know how much your Daddy and me love you all. I pray for your safety. I pray that your children know how much they are loved by their grandparents. I give thanks to God and the universe for the gift of you. As a mother that has known the pain of losing a child, I can tell you that the joy of loving you has been a healing and soothing balm to my broken heart. Thank you for loving me, for loving Daddy and for being the daughter that you are. You are my heart. Always…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Man Without Us…

Hi all, I hope this entry finds you all well and staying safe…

I write a lot about how I feel because it makes sense to me to write what I know. I know how “I” feel. I woke up this morning feeling like I usually do. I wake with the light and since the light comes early on the East Coast, I wake early. Not a big deal. This morning I woke and my first thoughts were of my husband as they always are now. This morning I woke thinking how each day passes and how alone he must feel without us. How alone he must feel without his brothers, his mom, his daughter, his sons-in-love and his grandchildren. How alone he must feel without all of the people that love him being allowed to see him everyday.

The man without us is a man of broad shoulder, barrel chested, sports a military buzz cut, and has blue eyes that shine. My husband stood at 5’11” and carried himself with the discipline and pride instilled deep within by the many years of service to our nation. He was a larger man, with a solidness that made his hugs the best ever. A Teddy Bear in private; a fiercely loyal and protective man all around. He served 24.5 years in the military and it was an honor to serve beside him. It wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy now, but we made it through all those years, surprisingly intact, and I am grateful for the opportunity we had to make a life together.

As I sit in the kitchen of my oldest brother-in-law’s kitchen, I find myself feeling way too much to be able to share everything in my head about this subject in one blog post. Can you imagine what any patient in a skilled care facility must feel on a daily basis because of the restrictions of visitation due to Covid-19? Granted, the restrictions are in place to protect the health of patients and employees, but when you’re dealing with compromised patients, they aren’t always able to process rules and regulations. They see limitations as cruel, and hurtful, and beyond their comprehension. My husband was a smart, logical man before his TBI, but now he’s like a little boy that just “doesn’t get it.” He cries, he rages and he aches for the loving touch of a hug, a hand held, and a kiss on the cheek. He deserves that. We all do. Imagine having that taken away from yourself with no warning, no comprehension, and no end in sight? This is the plight of hundreds of thousands of people across the country. We are being told that we can visit our loved ones by appointment only, but that we can’t touch them, we can’t approach them, and we can’t hug them. It’s torturous from no matter how we look at it. People mean well when they say things like “you should be grateful that you can see him.” They tell me to be patient, that “this too shall pass.” Or, “You should…” You need to…” “I want you to…”

The man without us doesn’t care that other people “think” those of us that love him “should.” He doesn’t care that the reasons for the limitations on visiting are in place to try to protect the most vulnerable among us against a silent virus that spreads like wildfire. He cares that he’s lonely, that he feels abandoned and that he thinks no one cares. I love my husband beyond my own life, I would take the TBI onto myself and set him free of all the pain and loss and loneliness. I can’t. What I can do? I can carry my share of his heaviness and do it with as much grace, fortitude and determination as I can muster on a daily basis. Some days it’s easy, some not, and then there are the in-between days. The days that start with tears, but end with smiles. The days that rain without ceasing and you swear that you’ll never see the sun again. The days where the weather is the stuff of dreams… I know the man I married all those years ago is gone, but he’s not at the same time. Until you experience the challenges of an event like the one that changed our lives, and the lives of so many around us, you’ll never quite understand the struggle. I pray you never have to understand the struggle.

The man without us is safe, he’s being well cared for and he is loved. At my darkest times I cry out to God for the strength to make it through another day. I cry out in my pain and beg the universe for peace, and sometimes I find it. I think back on the happiest times we had as a couple and relish the feel of my husband’s arms around me. I can hear his voice saying “baby, take your glasses off, you’ve fallen asleep reading.” I can picture him playing Matchbox cars with our two youngest grandchildren. Or fishing with our oldest grandson. I can see him encouraging our oldest granddaughter to hit the softball. The man without us is not without us, he is always with us. In our hearts, in our minds, in our every day lives.

The man without us would want those of us that love him to continue pressing onward toward that which brings us joy. He wants us to live, and love ,and never forget that he loves us. He is a Poppy, Opa, Daddy and Dad to so many. An uncle, brother, brother-in-love, and friend. He is strong even in his weakness and he is loved beyond measure. He is my person and I am not without him, no matter what happens. I hope that his life and the trials we face together and separately help others know that life after a TBI is possible. It’s very different, but it’s possible. The love shown to me by the man I married in 1982 is pure of heart and simple in nature. That everyone would know that such love exists is possible, and seeking it is worth the effort. When you wake up each day, I pray that you find joy in greeting the new day, even if the struggles you know you will face seem unbearable. If you cry each day, don’t despair. Learn what you can from your pain and sorrow, and give the gift of yourself to someone else.

The man without us is not alone in spirit and for this I am beyond thankful. He prays, he sings and he talks to his Lord in his own way. I am comforted by this. I believe differently than he does, and that’s okay. Knowing that we’re not alone is sometimes all we get, and learning how to be grateful in the small moments makes the larger ones less scary. I miss the man that was, I love the man that is, and I pray for continued safety for us all.

Until next time…

Stay safe, be well, and remember to always be kind…

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