Generosity…

Hello world,

I’ve recently returned from a weekend conference in Columbus, Ohio…

How many people can say they practice generosity? I thought I did, and I do, but not on the scale of what I experienced this past weekend. Not even close. I probably shouldn’t even be writing about my weekend until I find a way to process, and put into words, how much this past weekend means to me and the impact it’s had on the life-long journey of healing that stretches out in front of me.

If you’ve been a follower of mine, you know this blog was born out of a pain so deep, and so dark, I was literally bleeding to death via my laptop. It began because our oldest daughter threw her family of origin away. She cast her parents and sister aside, and ripped apart so many relationships through her actions it seemed none of us would ever heal. The human spirit, however broken, always seems to find ways to begin the healing processes we all so desperately need throughout our lives. Flight, fight, fawn or freeze; these are the innate defensive responses that live in every single person. In the early stages of the estrangement, my first response was to fight, and I tried, it took me 10 months to just breathe…

Fast forward from May of 2018 to October of 2019. My husband and I sold a home in NC and bought a house in the Lowcountry of SC. Our “forever” home. It was small, on a small lot in a neighborhood that was mostly rural and had an older population. Perfect for us, as we were staring down the path of retirement. The estrangement was still a part of our lives, though by this time we had found ways to cope. and to let go. Life was quiet, simple and full of love. We were close to our youngest daughter and her family. Lot’s of grand baby love! We were back in an area we loved, had a community we appreciated, and I had a wonderful job with UPS. Roadblocks were in the rear-view mirror. Or so we thought…

The massive head-on collision barreling toward us was stealthy. Sneaky. Silent. My husband crashed into it in a preliminary way on October 20, 2019. It was like a side swipe, a tiny glimpse of the on-coming crash between an economy car and a massive freight train. The accident happened on October 30, 2019 and the aftermath will never not be felt. We all know what can happen when a freight train hits an economy car. The pictures are downright gruesome. Lives are shattered. Nothing, absolutely nothing, remains as it was.

This past weekend was like having an insurance adjuster visit the scene of the aforementioned train crash. And having that adjuster find fault with the train, not the car. The train represents the Grim Reaper in my head, and he was just waiting for my husband to approach the most dangerous intersection of his life. Just waiting. Well, the Grim Reaper has zero power over me now, though the carnage wreaked at that intersection can never physically be undone. My husband didn’t die in the crash, he didn’t die on the operating table and he didn’t die due to lack of care. It took 16 months after the collision for him to die, the after affects of the train crash too much for his vital organs to keep working properly. He fought, and he thrived, and then the Grim Reaper’s cousin, known as Covid-19, decided to visit him. That made it so no one else could. No one he loved, not just me. No visits from his daughters, his grandchildren, his brothers, etc… Sorry (not sorry) for the language, but fuck Covid. Those innate responses we all possess? Fight was my husband’s companion after the stroke, flight never had a place in his recovery. The stroke didn’t make him give up, the isolation of Covid did. Anyway, the weekend. Generosity. And such…

Generosity comes in many forms, from many directions and from many, many different people. TAPS.org is an amazing non-profit! The acronym stands for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Survivors of military personnel. Any survivor is welcome to join the TAPS family and I am ever grateful that I did. I’m a self-aware person, I believe in determination and I try to live with a constant sense of mindfulness. TAPS is there to help me, and so many others, every second of every day. It’s a peer support network for all military family members, and friends, left reeling from the loss of a loved one that served. The military person doesn’t have to be KIA (killed in action) for family to avail themselves of the services,educational benefits, and support of TAPS. There are groups for survivors of all manner of death. Suicide, accident, homicide, sudden death, long-term illness, etc… If your person wore the uniform of any of the Armed Services, you can seek help.

TAPS holds regional seminars around the country every year and a National Conference is held each year over the Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C.. The organization started in 1994, born out of a deep rooted need when the wife of an Army officer lost her husband in a military plane crash. If you want to learn more about the founder, please research TAPS.org at your leisure, you’ll be amazed at how one woman, in what was a very dark time in her life, knew she needed “more” than what she was finding outside the community of the military. Her vision and drive created an organization that personifies generosity at every turn, and the need never seems to end. Freedom isn’t free, we Americans know this, and to have such a caring and safe place to manage the grief that never seems to end is simply a gift. People don’t “get it” if they’ve never served, and that’s okay. They don’t have to get it. The people that do get it, well, I met so many of them at this conference. I don’t know how to make anyone understand that the level of generosity was second only to the love and compassion shown to me, a stranger in a foreign, but also familiar, land…

Generosity doesn’t always have to be on such a grand scale… It can be something as simple as sharing a smile, lending a helping hand or simply praying for someone. We ALL, no matter who we are or what we do, have hurt and anguish in our lives. Simply saying hello on the street too a stranger can lighten the heaviest of burdens of the person to whom you say good morning. Being generous might mean you buy the coffee for the car behind you in the drive-thru line, stop and let a car out of a side street during your morning commute, or even just giving a few minutes of your time to a neighbor in need. Generosity breeds kindness and kindness breeds generosity, and we can all acknowledge that those two attributes are most definitely something this world needs a whole lot more of! TAPS generosity is beyond amazing and made possible by some pretty fantastic supporters. To those supporters I say a humble thank-you. Thank you from the bottom of my broken and shattered heart. It’s because of the support of so many that I know I am going to be okay. I’ll never be the same, I’ll always hurt. I’ll always miss my husband. And, I’ll always miss what might have been. I can grow with TAPS, I can give back by volunteering when I’m able and I can spread the kindness and generosity I’m blessed to receive with others.

So, go out into your world, live your best life and be generous. You don’t need to be rich in money to share the gifts of generosity and kindness, you just have to be willing…

Be kind always, remember to breathe and, say thank-you to someone who has served…

Until next time…

(Image credit belongs to: Grief to Gratitude)

Directions…

“Those we love never leave us. There are some things that death cannot touch.”

~ Jack Thorne, (British Screenwriter) ~

As I sit down to write this morning, the sun is shining in an amazingly clear blue sky, and the sounds of heavy equipment accompany the playlist of music I have open on my phone. I’m sitting at my youngest daughter’s dining table in southwestern PA and find myself at a crossroads in life. Again…

I used to love to write for my blog. It’s beginning to feel like a chore. I’ve seriously considered taking my blog in a different direction, though what that direction is remains to be seen. In the beginning my blog was written as a way for me to live outside the realm of pain caused by our oldest daughter throwing us away. Estrangement and abandonment are not easy to live through, of that I can speak with certainty. When your child decides that your existence is irrelevant and toxic to their well being, there really is nothing you can do. Especially if the child engaging in estrangement is an adult. When that same child makes it clear that your presence is no longer welcome in the life of your grandchild, whom you’ve always had close, the pain and hurt is indescribable. Simply indescribable. My blog gave me an avenue to release a lot of what festered inside of me…

Fast forward 18 months.

The estrangement happened in May 2018 and in August of that same year my husband and I sold our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. We moved to the Lowcountry of South Carolina to be closer to our younger daughter and her family since we were still allowed to be grandparents to her children. What our oldest did to us broke us both, but our marriage was solid and we survived, and even thrived for a while. In March of 2019, we received a very threatening letter from an attorney demanding that we stop writing to our grandson or our daughter in NC would have warrants issued against us for stalking. Does anyone remember the song by Chubby Checker called “How Low Can You Go?” We sure do, and I still do. Suffice it to say that that was the day we both knew we had to let go of our daughter, her husband and our grandson in order to find peace. Not an easy thing to do, not at all. We managed to be happy in our little home in SC and were very much looking forward to building our future there. I kept on writing my blog to keep finding the release it gave me. The tenor of my blog began to change, though offering encouragement to others still remained my top priority. It became less about the pain and rage, and more about the journey of healing. My blog was evolving, just as I was. As we were…

Fast forward 7 months.

Life was relatively quiet by October 1, 2019. Little did we know that a darkness we had NEVER known was lurking and swirling around us. All of us. Even the child that had wilfully shunned her parents would be affected. My husband left our home on October 2, 2019, in the late evening to make an almost 1000 mile drive to New Hampshire. He was always a night owl, so driving through the night was basically normal for him. I stood on our front porch after we hugged and said all the “be carefuls, I love yous and I’ll miss yous” and watched him drive away. I stayed behind because I was only 4 months into a new job with UPS. He was going to New England to see his next oldest brother who had had surgery to remove some toes affected by diabetes. My husband went to see his brother to lend encouragement and to mend fences, so to speak. I’m happy to write that the trip produced the results they both needed and they became close before the lurking darkness would change everything. Absolutely everything.

Fast forward 17 days.

On October 20, 2019, my phone rang. Not an unusual occurrence. My husband told me he was experiencing the worst headache he’d ever had, and that his neck hurt. Here comes the aforementioned darkness… I begged him to go to an Urgent Care, an Emergency Room, a VA Hospital, anywhere! Go and get checked out, please!!! What I should have done was get on a flight to Boston or Manchester the next day and dragged his stubborn ass to an ER myself. I didn’t. He kept telling me he was okay. He was a grown man that didn’t “need” babysitting. Um, okay? How the rest of his life would play out might have been so different had I just flown to New England…

I can’t live my life in the quagmire of “What if?…”

I’ve shared through my blog the journey I’ve been on since the estrangement began. The pain and the rage and the feeling lost. I’ve shared about my husband’s stroke and what it feels like to be helpless and have a front row seat to the chaos that became my beloved’s life. I’ve always hoped that through my sharing that someone, somewhere, is finding comfort in knowing that they’re not alone. It feels incredibly lonely when you’re on a path so dark it seems no light will ever get through. It does, the light does shine again, though it seems to take forever. Sometimes the things that happen to us are so painful and so uncalled for that we simply adapt by staying stuck. Sometimes we try to hide, even though we all know that hiding is never a solution when it comes to healing. Healing from traumatic events such as estrangement, catastrophic stroke and death can be beyond challenging, to say the least. Healing from any event that causes our spirit to break is challenging. It’s become my belief, because of my own journey and consequent healing, that the human spirit is much stronger than we human beings give it credit for. I think this is the reason why I’m beginning to think I should take my blog in a different direction. 

I am now, and will always be, so very grateful that people read my blog. I’m now a widow, just seven months into living a life that I have no idea how to live, though I do know this… I know that because of the support of others, I’m healing. I’m becoming someone new, and yet I still remain who I was. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, and it may be a long time before I post again. I am in a transitional phase of life right now, trying to figure out how to move forward without leaving the past behind. I don’t want to carry the baggage of pain forward, just the sweet memories. I know I face more darkness as time passes, life is just dark sometimes. I also know I will make it through, as I’m doing now. The next journey might be messy, or neat and tidy; it may be fiery hot or ice cold, but I know, I simply know, that I will face whatever comes and find my way. I’ll reach out to someone else who may need a hand while walking through their own darkness, and gently squeeze so they may know they’re not alone. The quote at the beginning of this post is absolutely true, there are some things that even death cannot touch. 

Remember to always be kind to one another, kindness matters…

Incoming tide and riptide crashing together. Revere, MA. Photo by Barb Enos

Sunday Thoughts…

Hi,

Yes, it’s been a bit, I’ve been living my life and trying to heal. I’m moving forward with the grief of my husband’s death still holding one hand, but in the other? The other hand has been multi-purpose. It’s been drying my tears, pushing me towards my new life in Pennsylvania, and steering the methods of whatever it takes to get me there.

I’m currently house-sitting for some dear friends while they’re on vacation and just like last year, I am thoroughly enjoying their deck. Their home is a ranch style, very comfortable and in a safe neighborhood about 30 miles southwest of Boston. I’ve been thinking that being here is like having “training wheels.” I’m almost ready to take the training wheels off and move out on my own. I haven’t lived on my own since June of 2020, and am beyond thankful for the support of my family and friends during these dark times in my life. This summer has been hard on me emotionally, I’ve withdrawn from people after being hurt by someone I trusted, and am finally able to see the sunshine again…

When someone hurts us, we can only control our reaction to what’s been done, not the actions done to us. I realized as soon as the words left this person’s mouth that I would never be the same again. Wanna know what else I’ve come to realize? I realize that because of one sentence, I’m okay with not being who I was. I am very different now, and I actually like me more than I did before. Sure, what was said was hurtful. The words piercing my heart and leaving me feeling like I didn’t matter. This event also showed me that I am not without boundaries, self-respect, and value. Maybe I don’t matter to the person who hurt me, that’s okay. I still matter. To me. To my children and grandchildren. To a few select friends that I still trust. I don’t need more than that. I’ve also learned to pull back on how much I share on social media, to stop and REALLY think about what I’m saying, and to listen to my gut more. To value my personal space and privacy. Silver linings for sure…

The heatwave that has gripped Northern New England broke overnight, and today is just freaking glorious!!! I’m doing what I love by writing, listening to music and making plans to spend time with people I love in the coming days. I’m still sad, overwhelmingly so, and am accepting that sadness is my constant companion these days. I’m also happy. Happy that the sun is shining. Happy that I am able to enjoy the gifts that Mother Nature has granted us today. Happy that I got to see 10 turkeys in the backyard and watch them wander off. It may seem silly to notice such simple things, but just think about all the things that demand our attention on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit on the deck, listen to your favorite music and take in the beauty of your small portion of this world. Appreciation is good for the spirit!

With the day being as lovely as it is, I’m thinking that I may not be leaving my little haven of paradise for the madness of the shopping center down the road. I have two shirts I need to return, and am thinking they can wait for another day. As I sit here and revel in the sunshine, I realize I don’t want to trade the peace and quiet of this deck for the chaos and madness of a big box store. I have everything I need to make it through the day without sacrificing my peace of mind. I’d rather stay here, quietly thinking about my husband and just enjoying the ability to be. We all need to treat ourselves from time to time, no matter what that looks like. I’m staying close to home today, not listening to or giving in to the voices in my head that say I need to “go and do.” I am doing by not going and doing, and that’s that!

It’s been a little more than 6 months since my husband died, though it feels like 60 years. I miss him. So much. I’ve come to realize just how much I miss the touch of another human being. The hugs I always gave and received? Gone. The simple touch of his hand on my lower back? Gone. I’d give almost anything to have him back, and while I know that’s an impossibility, the craving that lives within me for the touch of another is not gone. Nor is it impossible. It’s not the same when someone else hugs me, it can’t be. No one loved me like he did. No one knows me like he did. No one could ever take his place in my life, or in my heart. He was my person. I was his. We were an us. When you become a me after being an us for more than half of your life, the transition is fraught with emotion, growing pains and tears. Time is supposed to help, so whenever time decides to get on board and journey with this broken woman, I’m ready! Until then, I will hug my friends and family, wipe my own tears and move forward with as much purpose as I am able. Living a purpose driven life will give me opportunities to honor the memory of my beloved.

I’m hanging on, and am so grateful that I have the opportunity to share my journey with people through this blog. Life isn’t always harsh, though sometimes it feels that way. This summer has been painful for me, but also enlightening. I have to keep my eyes on the roads ahead, while looking back and figuring out which roads to avoid. The curves and bends can seem scary, especially when they come out of nowhere. Keep looking forward, keep unpacking the unnecessary baggage you carry, and stay the course. Life is to be lived. And savored. Take the bitter and at least try to make it into something sweet, you may be surprised at what happens. Embrace the suck as the Navy Seals say, and turn the suck into success!

Until next time remember to be kind always, smile and believe in yourself!

Carrying the Luggage of Grief…


As most of you that know me well, you know I’m planning on moving to Southwestern PA in the fall. My life looks nothing like I thought it would, still I move forward. I miss my husband more every day, and can hear him encouraging me to seek joy. Being closer to our grandchildren was part of the reason we moved to the Charleston area in 2018. So much has changed since then…

I am a widow… A word that defines my marital status, not a word that defines me. I’m a MiMi, Mom (in-law,) Sister, Friend, Sister-in-love, Auntie… All words that define roles in my life, they are not all of me.

I struggle daily with the thoughts of not being good enough. I struggle daily with being rejected. I struggle daily with trying to figure out what I did wrong, and why I feel less than. On the flip side of all the negative? I work daily towards my goal, towards PA. I have remained dedicated to self-care as I promised myself I would. I try daily to remember that I am worthy of love. I try daily to be kind. I try daily to let go and let God. I’m not good at letting go, but I’m not good at being an emotional punching bag either.

I have changed so much along this journey, and I’m so grateful for those changes. I’ve learned that there are far more unintended consequences to be dealt with when I, or someone else, says or does something without thought. Then again, maybe things are said and done with thought that were not intended to hurt. Words hurt. Words hurt me more now than ever, and they help as well. I find much healing in being able to express my thoughts through written words. I find confusion, angst and dismissiveness as well.

Learning continues along the journey of grief, and the roadblocks, twists, and turns, become less harrowing as times marches on. As I march forward. The heaviness of the luggage of grief becomes lighter, the noise becomes a softer humming and the darkness that dwells within is turning to light. There is no switch inside my heart, or head, to turn the lights on suddenly, it’s a slow turn of a dimmer switch. Very slow. Somedays, all I can manage is to touch the switch. Sometimes I can turn it, and other days I can’t even find it.

Grief has no GPS. Grief is full of detours. Grief is the cliff edge of the mountain, and the chasm below. Grief is grey skies, torrential downpours and angry horizons. Grief is also a companion that never goes home. Grief is love with no place to go…

I’ve read many times that grief is the price we pay for love. I wholly believe this. Grief costs more than I will ever be able to give, yet I keep grieving. And giving. Oxymoronic at best. How the hell do I look forward without looking back? I don’t. It’s that simple and beyond complicated at the same time.

The luggage of grief is not required to be carried every single day. Somedays you can just carry a backpack. Somedays you can carry a wallet. Somedays, though not many, you might actually not have to carry any luggage at all. Those days are a long time in coming… I haven’t had one yet, nor do I expect to have one anytime soon. I do HOPE that I have many as time goes on.

Remember always to be kind, and show kindness to yourself. You ARE deserving of kindness, love and compassion, as am I. Grief makes for a lonely companion, but we are not alone…

Self Care, Grief and Judgement…

HI All,

I’m writing this blog while sitting at the kitchen table, 2 days after my first surgery for Cataracts. The results after just 48 hours are beyond amazing! This surgery was my first big step towards caring for myself in a world that feels so very empty. It’s been almost 5 months since my husband died, and 21 months since his catastrophic stroke. 

Before the stroke, my husband spent a month away from home (we lived in SC at the time) visiting his next oldest brother who had had toes amputated because of diabetes. I pushed my husband to drive from SC to New England, not knowing that the last time we would hug each other and casually say goodbye would be the last time. I stayed behind because I had only been working four months at my new job with UPS. A decision I will never regret as the brother he went to visit died 350 days before my husband. My mother-in-love had 6 children and 3 are now gone, all three dying in February. 2018, 2020 and 2021. The pain she must feel when she remembers has to be unimaginable. Her oldest child, and only girl, was the first, she died at the age 67. Next was the 5th born, he was 60. Then my beloved, the youngest, he was 59.

I provide a bit of context just so whoever is reading this knows that the weight and minefields of death are not new to me. I wish I weren’t well versed in grief, no one wants to be. What am I learning to be well versed in? Self-care. It’s so hard to do, and though I’m not afraid to work hard, I don’t want to. I want my husband back. I want our grandchildren to have their Poppy back and our daughters to know that their Daddy is just a phone call away. I want to reach out in the night and feel the warmth of the man who no longer exists, not the weighted blanket that’s folded in thirds and laid out where he should be. I want to hear his voice in my ears, not just in my head. I want to feel HIS arms around me, not just air. I’m sure you get the picture.

Self care has to happen if we are to continue on our healing journey. Self care looks different for each of us, just like grief does. I walked out 16 months advocating for my husband to receive the best possible care after his stroke, sold our home, and moved 3 times to be with him. Covid came. Isolation happened and for 6 months of the 16 months we journeyed, we couldn’t see each other. He never understood why. All he felt was that he was being punished for being alive. The stroke took away his reasoning abilities and he never recovered cognitively. I, on the other hand, would try and soothe his pain through Zoom calls. Or phone calls. He would cry without ceasing, and beg me to come see him. So much angst. I look back over that time and realize I was practicing self-care then, just in a less obvious way. I would walk along the James or Appomattox Rivers when we were in Richmond, VA. I would write. I would talk to the Chaplain from the Richmond VA Hospital. I continue to talk to him from time to time. I even drove to Norfolk to walk on the beach with our dog on the days when loneliness would consume me. I guess I knew somewhere inside of me that if I didn’t fill myself up, I would have nothing left to give my husband. 

Self care looks like selfishness to those that either refuse to see it, or can’t see the value of it. We wake up and shower, we brush our teeth, dress for the day and make many other decisions that seem meaningless. They’re not! To get out of bed after the loss of a beloved child, spouse, friend, parent and anyone that has been loved by you is self care! I truly believe in the “fight” and “flight” aspects of grief, as well as life in general. My “fight” left me when my husband died. I was messy. And broken. I wanted to be invisible. I was also grateful that he didn’t suffer anymore. I battled within my own head as I took my first steps as a widow, toward a life without the physical presence of my mate. I had to. He would want me to. He was my biggest encouragement, he still is in many ways. 

When people learn that I’m grieving, they’re usually sincere in offering condolences. We were married just shy of 39 years when my beloved died. We were as in love the day he died as we were when we said “I do.” I miss him. I always will. In the midst of missing him, I’m learning to grow again. I’m learning that my growth, determination and grief can all co-exist. I’ve also learned that some of the people I know think I’m selfish for not fading into the background of life. That’s not how I’ve lived my life, and I won’t live like that now. My eye surgery feels like I threw open the door that was slammed shut back in February! I threw it open with such force that it came unhinged! I walked right through the opening and am still walking. How does someone see self care as selfishness? Why do others think they are entitled to have an opinion on how I live MY life? Judgement comes in many forms, and I find a lot of judgement to be a waste of time. I have no right to tell anyone what their journey through grief should look like. My place in someone else’s grief is not my place. I have empathy for all of us that have lost someone we loved so much. I recognize the gaping holes left in our hearts. I hear the sobs and moans and cries as we navigate our way without our beloved person beside us. What I don’t do? I don’t carry the weight of someone else’s grief, I share in carrying the weight. I’ll hold someone’s hand and pray for them. I’ll help them. I won’t judge them!

As we walk along the highway called grief, may we all come to know that we can practice self care, that self care is not selfish, and when others judge us, that judgement is without merit. It’s become my purpose to help educate others who are on the outside looking in. People tend to judge that which they don’t understand, I’ve been guilty of it myself. Helping someone understand the depth, breadth, and width of grief gives me purpose. It also gives me hope. My world, just like all of yours, came crashing down with such force that I thought I’d never be the same again. I won’t be. Neither will you. What can we become? We can become a voice and a hand in the dark for one another. We can provide a safe place for someone just starting their grief journey to fall. We can listen. We can pray. We can encourage one another. And we can share. No matter where you are on your journey, I hope you know that you are not alone. I know I’m not alone, and for that I say thank you!

Just Because…

Hi All,

It’s been a bit since I’ve written. I’ve been in a place that makes me exhausted. That place has no one specific name, and if it did, it would be just because.

Just because can be a pre-cursor to so many places we humans can go within our own minds. I’m struggling lately with feeling too much all at once. Just because I’m grieving. Just because I’m very sensitive. Just because I’m me. I’m me without him and that’s a me that I don’t want to be. I have to be. Simple. And not so simple. Just because.

Just because someone thinks other people are not worthy of kindness doesn’t mean they should be easily dismissed. The saying goes “what someone thinks of me is none of my business.” True, just because. Being ousted is not fun for anyone. It hurts and it breeds distrust. Just because.

Just because we can be selfish doesn’t mean we should be. Self-care and selfishness are two entirely different things, though frequently seen as one and the same. Just because.

Just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. Perhaps they know if they say what they really want to, those words will be misinterpreted as weapons. Think before you speak. Wise words we all need to pay attention to, myself included. Just because.

Just because we may think we know better doesn’t mean we do. I’ve been guilty of thinking like this and I wish I could say otherwise. Just because.

Just because someone may not say thank you for a kindness shown, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind. That lack of kindness reflects on you, not the recipient. Be kind. Just because.

Just because someone has different skin than you doesn’t mean they’re less than. Just because someone loves differently than you doesn’t make that love wrong. Just because we’re all human, we should all be accepted. Just because.

I’ve had a hard time lately feeling like I belong. Just because something has been said and I’ve heard words that have slain my heart doesn’t mean I don’t belong. I matter. Just because.

My life is in the midst of great change and difficult decisions. Again. The change is necessary, and can’t be achieved without difficult decisions. I am moving forward and looking ahead to what might be. In looking behind me I see where the roads bend and curve. I learn from the hard lessons and I leave the unnecessary baggage behind. Leaving the heaviness of that baggage behind makes the curves and bends safer. Just because.

The world is a noisy and overwhelming place at times. It can be peaceful. Seek the peacefulness, just because you can. You deserve a life filled with light, love and peace. As do I. Just because.

Be kind, always. Just because…

365 (Plus One)

Hey Everyone,

It’s been a bit, and I’m still hanging in, missing my husband. Nothing new there.

365 plus one? 365 days ago, plus one, my beloved husband was discharged from the Polytrauma Unit of the Richmond, Virginia Veteran’s Hospital. I would sell my soul to the devil himself if it meant I could erase the last 365 days. Erase and start over. As we all know, time is the one thing that we can’t replace. We can’t save it. It doesn’t earn interest, and sadly, it hasn’t yielded a profit.

I’ve begun to look ahead, finally, in a healthy, though sad, way. I’m beginning to make plans for a future that will not include my husband in the physical sense, but it will bring much honor to his memory. I have been seeking and researching resources that will help me navigate my way as a widow and I’ve found a non-profit organization that I seem to fit with. I am hoping to connect with others who have lost someone that served, maybe even become a mentor some where down the road. I am taking it one step at a time, but have a good feeling in my gut that I have finally found a new, but familiar village. I have been so supported by my family and friends and I know they all will continue to hold my hand. The organization I found will give me purpose again, something I haven’t felt since my beloved died. He was my purpose for so long, and now I have to make me, and honoring his memory, my purpose.

365 days ago, plus 2, is when I came back to Boston. The day before my husband. 365 days ago, plus one, I was denied the opportunity to meet my husband at the rehab facility he was admitted to and I’ve been upset by that ever since. 365 days ago, Covid-19 was a blanket excuse for everything, including NOT being allowed to even greet my husband in the parking lot of said facility. I’ve tried for over a year now to be heard by someone that actually gives a crap about the lack of compassionate care shown to my husband, but to no avail. All the countless hours writing to State and Federal officials, the media, the corporation that owns that horror house my husband was in has been for naught. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and more than a hundred hours making noise, but all I’ve been met with is silence. I had promised myself if the law firm I contacted wouldn’t help me, I would stop. I’ve stopped making noise. To say I am beyond disappointed in my local and federal representatives is an understatement. I am not rich. I am not even close to being so. I vote, but why? Because of the lack of communication, I no longer care about those I’ve voted for. I have approximately 340 days left to find peace. I can’t afford the costs of maintaining my anger and hurt, I have to let go. For me. I fought as hard as I could, I begged. I pleaded. I humiliated myself. I filed a formal complaint with the MA Dept. of Public Health. I’ve followed up on my follow ups to the point that I’ve had to say I’m done.

365 plus days ago I never thought I would become a widow at the age of 58. It’s been just shy of four months since I held my husband’s hand and watched him breathe his last breath. He was 59. 21,629 days. Add a few leap years in and maybe he was 21, 640 days old. Not nearly enough days on this earth. Not nearly enough years spent as a married couple. But… He certainly changed my entire world in those 21K+ days. He loved me. He was my safety net, my lover, my man and my heart. He is still all of those things, and more. He is my guardian angel, he is my Morgan’s (our dog that died in July 2020) constant companion now. He is still the Poppy our grandchildren will always miss, and he’s the Poppy I will help them remember. No one will ever take his place. No one will know me like he did, or kiss me like he did. No one will tease me (thank God!) like he did. No one will ever rage behind the wheel of my Mini like he could have. So many things that he was good at, so many things he made his own. Including me. Of those 21K+ days, he was in my life for about 16,430 of them. More than half his life, and mine. Days…

As I mentioned above, I’m finally beginning to feel like I am able to move forward. One baby step at a time. I’m not really stronger than I was last time I wrote, I think the fog is starting to lift. I see things from a clearer set of eyes. Well… not really. I have to have cataract surgery and will find out when on the 23rd of June. Anyway, I know that grief will never not be a part of my life again, but I also know that how I continue to walk it out and learn from it is key to my survival. I WANT to be happy. I WANT to smile more. I WANT to laugh more. Every time I think I can’t get up, I do. I cry and rage and hide, but I also turn my face to the sun and pray for self peace. I can see a pin-prick of light shining through the darkness.

When I started this blog, I had no idea that it would shift from being an erased grandparent and parent to becoming a widow. I had no idea that any one would care to read the ramblings of a woman the world doesn’t know. I am blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to keep writing and I thank all of you that take the time to read my prose. Writing frees my heart, it gives me an outlet for my pain, and I hope it helps someone else realize that they are not alone. We all have trials. We all bleed red. We all hurt. I know, because of all of you, I don’t have to hurt alone. Thank you all. I’ve pasted a link to a song that has been helping me lately, I hope it helps you as well. Be kind, always, and know that in Boston is a woman who appreciates you so much!

Jaws…?

Shared below is a recent Facebook post, I hope it can help someone…

Long post…

Yesterday I thought I was having a heart attack while at work. My chest was aching, but that’s been the case for almost 3 years now. When my lower jaw started to hurt, I got scared…

I called 911 from my cell and within minutes, it seems all the emergency services from the town of Dedham descended on the back office of JP licks.

I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where I was monitored for hours and had blood drawn every hour to check my heart enzymes. No heart attack. I left the ER with three different diagnosed conditions. PTSD, anxiety and Broken Heart Syndrome (a real medical condition.)

I don’t share this information to seek sympathy, I share it because I am self-aware and know I need help navigating my life right now. There is so much stigma surrounding mental health and if my sharing makes it possible for one person to know that they are not alone, my purpose for this post will be fulfilled.

The PTSD can be traced to a very specific event that happened three years ago and has been chasing me ever since. It’s been exasperated by the death of my beloved. The grief I’m in has no end in sight, but it certainly does have a defined beginning. I’m experiencing nightmares, overwhelming thoughts that bring so much pain and a loneliness so deep that I can’t begin to describe it.

I had reached out to someone I trust on Monday to ask for help in finding resources in Massachusetts, and she was amazing. I have more resource now than I had to start the week and I am going to work hard at helping myself. I have to.

If you’re reading this and something speaks to you, I hope it helps. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t feel embarrassed, I do. I’m a grown woman who has spent much of the past 3 years fighting against injustices and the loss of love. I’ve battled with the Federal government, sold homes, moved 4 times, and upended my life to care for my husband. I would do it again. And again. And again.

If you need help finding your way, it’s okay. I doesn’t make you weak, nor should it make you embarrassed. Be kind to yourself, even when no one else is. Give yourself some grace, a piece of advice I should adopt more for myself.

The mental health system in this country is beyond broken. The professionals that work within said system are overworked and under appreciated. In my experience, I find that they care. A great deal. Not every professional is a good fit for every person, you have to keep trying until you feel comfortable. You can’t force yourself to heal, I tried. I failed.

Thank you for reading this. I’m grieving and I will be for the rest of my life. I find much comfort in prayer, music and writing. As time passes, I’ll find other ways to make the journey less difficult, and hopefully find purpose in becoming a me. I don’t want to be a me, I have no choice…

Revere Beach 5/12/2021. Photo by Barb Enos

I’d like to know…

Hi all,

I’d like to know when I’m going to feel like myself again, but I already know the answer. Never. Never, ever, ever will I be the same person I was just three months ago. Or six. Or twelve. The person I was when I was part of an us is now just a me and I am not looking forward to getting to know her. No at all. I don’t want to but know that I have to. I’ve basically been on auto pilot, going through the motions of daily living, but finding no solace in the life I am now living. I pray that changes, but more than that, I pray I can hold on to myself until the sun shines on my life again.

I’d like to know why the grief process is getting harder instead of getting easier. Why? Haven’t I been through enough over the past three and a half years? I know some of what I am feeling is part regret, part guilt and mostly loneliness. I don’t want to acknowledge the loneliness, but it’s there and it’s real and it hurts. So much. I have been talking with my therapist when I can, reaching out to family members and friends, but the void inside me feels bigger every day, not smaller. I’m adrift in the sea of despair and cannot see the horizon beyond the waves.

My heart is still shattered and I know why. That’s not something I’d like to know, to be honest. I know the why of his death, the why of his stroke, the why of his decline. It seems all of the answers I know are not at all the ones I want to know. I want to know how long it will take to be okay. Will I ever be again? I used to think I would be, but now? Now all I see when I look in the mirror is a broken, aimless and sad woman looking back at me. That same woman that was full of fight for her beloved doesn’t seem to exist within me any longer. I want to feel useful, like I have purpose, and I don’t. I don’t know how to move forward. I’m stuck. Bogged down by the weight of grief, loneliness and a longing for my husband that runs so deep I’m drowning in the quicksand of it all.

Before any of you reading this begin to think I am on the edge of hurting myself, please don’t worry that way. I have been in touch with the people closest to me and they know I’m feeling fragile and scared. I reached out to my husband’s Psychologist from the hospice he was in just this morning and she sent me some resources to check out to help me deal with some of the darkest emotions I have ever experienced. I thought, just three years ago, that losing my oldest daughter to the estrangement she forced on to us was hard… It was. We survived. My husband and I held each other up and learned that we could still be happy. We worked really hard at being happy. That event, and the strength it took to thrive seems a precursor to the magnitude of emotion I’m facing now. My husband can’t hold me, he can’t hug me and he can’t encourage me to find my way through the pain. I’m alone in this, but I’m not. It’s a personal journey, but there has to be a side-car available from time to time to allow someone to accompany me. My family has been beyond wonderful, my close friends seem to know when I’m struggling. Letting others in is so not easy, but if I want to come out on the other side of this with even a small portion of sanity intact, I need to keep letting people see my darkness. I believe I can find the open window, in spite of the door that has been nailed shut. I’m just tired of being sad.

I’d like to know that I’d wake up tomorrow with a lighter heart, I just don’t think think it’ll be that easy. I need to find a way to give myself some grace, I say that very thing to the people I love when they’re hard on themselves. Taking my own advice seems like a good idea. It seems like solid, easy advice. It’s easy to give… Not so easy to incorporate into my own life. At least not right now…

Please, send me positive vibes, pray for me and know that I am so grateful that you care enough to read the ramblings of my broken heart. I never thought it would be like this for me, especially since I know with all that I am that my husband is not suffering any more. I wouldn’t wish the suffering he went through on my worst enemy, I’m just not that cruel. I never dreamed that his suffering coming to an end would be the ultimate breaking point for me. I keep thinking that his suffering has ended and mine has just begun. I want to be happy again, I just don’t know how to be. I want to move forward, but I’m stuck…

Until next time…

Photo by Barb Enos

They Say… ?

Hey all,

Have you ever thought about who “they” are? And what “they say?”

I think there are many of those “they” people out there, with far too much to “say.” Since my beloved husband died back in February, I’ve heard many “they say” pieces of advice and have been both honored and annoyed at receiving said advice. The best piece of advice has been: They say to wait a year before making any major changes to the course of your life.” It’s sound advice, with its roots embedded deep within other’s experiences, advice I have decided to try and adopt. The worst piece of advice I’ve received since February? The very same. “Wait a year … blah, blah, blah.” A year seems like an impossibly long stretch of time under the best of circumstances, how is possible to wait so long? How is possible to not wait? I literally have no idea who they are, but if they would like to reveal themselves to me, I’m willing to meet them. I might even be willing to listen to what they say!

I looked up they in the Merriam Webster dictionary and the definitions were plentiful.

Definition of they:

1— those ones those people, animals, or things

2—used to refer to people in a general way or to a group of people who are not specified.

3 a—used with a singular indefinite pronoun antecedent.

b—used with a singular antecedent to refer to an unknown or unspecified person.

c—used to refer to a single person whose gender is intentionally not revealed.

d—used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is non-binary.

So many different definitions for such a small word. And such a small word that can be used to convey many different types of: People. Animals. Things. I think I’ll stick with using they in reference to people right now. They have a lot to say, and they are who I’ve been thinking of for a few days as the ideas for this particular post have come together.

They mean well. At least I hope they do. Because people know I am more vulnerable right now, they have been kind, supportive and concerned. I have a wonderful family full of people that support me. I have friends that hold me up and let me cry. I am trying to look forward to making my way into my somewhat unknown future. I know they’ll help me when I ask for help, and I know they’ll understand when I don’t. This journey of grief is mine, but knowing I have all of them to help me brings me such comfort. As human beings, I believe we’re not created to be alone, and even though my husband is gone, I know I am not always alone. How many people suffer through the loss of a loved one alone? Do they have to because there is no one to hold their hand? I hope they’re not alone because they feel they’re a burden. I’ve been blessed to not feel burdensome for the most part, though that feeling has come over me a few times since my beloved died.

They say we should all love one another and not judge our fellow man. I believe this to be true as well. No one has the right to tell me they think I made the wrong decisions for my husband while he lived. Yet they have. And they do. And my reaction to that type of they say?” I say, walk in my shoes, sleep alone in my marriage bed, cook for one. Wash only your own clothes, knowing that your mate will never produce dirty laundry again. Drive everywhere you go alone. I am my own personal driver, chef, laundress, and bed-mate. It sucks. For me, it truly sucks. For my husband? They say he is in a better place and I agree. Most days…

They say to feel what you feel and not be guilty, especially when you’re going through the grief process. I’ve actually started disliking that phrase “grief process.” Process makes it seem like there may possibly be a solution waiting somewhere down the long and twisted path of grief. There is no solution. As the partner left behind I get angry, then feel guilty, then get angry. All very “normal” reactions during grief. Normal is nothing more than a cycle on the washing machine… I feel what I feel and I try to work through those feelings, and I fail. I also succeed. Grief isn’t a matter of picking your battles, it’s not a trustworthy foe. They say to fight to move forward, but I don’t want to fight. I’m exhausted and the battle with grief is raging on…

I’m going to end here for now and start considering my next entry. I feel something brewing in my heart that is sad. I don’t want to be sad, but I am. It seems to be my constant companion. I would rather have my dog as my constant companion. Since my dog is now my husband’s beloved constant companion, I guess I have to take my sadness for a walk every now and then.

Until next time, be safe. And be kind, always…

Photo by Barb Enos