Building a Better Boat…

Hello!

It’s been a bit, but I’m still out here and still moving forward. I just heard Build a Better Boat by Kenny Chesney and it prompted me to take a bit of a breather during these final, frenzied days in Boston and share my heart. I’m moving to Southwestern PA next weekend and while I’m looking forward to it for many reasons, I’m also very nervous. The song made me think about what’s been going on since I made the decision to move and gave me a moment to pause and reflect.

I don’t really want to build a better boat, I have to. Life has an uncanny way of pushing us along even when we absolutely refuse to step on to the platform of the ride. I’m not the type to hide in the corner, even when my flight instinct kicks in. I have, however, become the type to try and work my way through whatever roadblocks are thrown in front of me. I’ve learned that a lot of the roadblocks are of my own making and as I work through whatever the situation is, the situation becomes part of building that better boat. Sometimes I withdraw, and though others may not understand my withdrawal, I have to sort myself out first. I’m tender-hearted. I can’t (and don’t want to) change that. I’ve learned that being so makes me more misunderstood by others. I don’t know how to make someone understand that my silence and lack of interaction isn’t about them, it’s about me… and while that may sound selfish, it’s not. It’s self-care. And that’s a blog idea I’ve written about previously. Self-care is imperative for all of us. If we run on empty all the time, what do we have left to give anyone else? Life is full of moments where self-care can be, and will be, viewed as selfishness. It’s an unintended consequence that happens when I put the brakes on and face the roadblock head-on.

Building a better boat takes patience, something I never wanted to have to learn. The last 4 years of my life have been beyond erratic. Painful. Lonely. Confusing. I’ve been lost and found. I’ve been kicked and slapped by fate so hard, the sting will never fade. I’ve deliberately hurt those I love the most, not because I wanted to, but because I’ve had to. I’ve learned that some things, no matter how much they matter to me, matter to no one else. I can’t begin to let people know how sorry I am that my time frame for working my way through the hurts and grief and misunderstandings is so unpredictable. It takes as long, or as short, as it does. Patience is a virtue we all need more of and I’ll gladly be the first to admit that I lack it at times when it’s needed the most. Other times I possess so much of it, I don’t recognize myself. I left my husband in 2017, I managed to leave him without his knowing what was coming, and three days later, all I wanted to do was turn that car around and drive straight back into his arms. I broke him. I broke me. I broke our family. Three days after I drove out of our driveway, I wanted to go home. He was beyond hurt, and I am sorry. I know he knew that. He was enraged, and hurt, and beyond broken. So was I. He found the strength to say that we needed to see where the separation could take us and that I needed to be patient. He knew me better than anyone. He knew what an impossible task that would be for me. Patience didn’t come easy to me, it still doesn’t. 7 weeks after I left him, I went home. We worked hard to rebuild the marriage that I burned to the ground… The beauty that was painted from the ashes became something we never lost again. Patience played a huge roll in our reuniting, and because we practiced patience, we were able to build a better boat. Together.

Building a better boat is hard. There’s not a single doubt in my mind that it’s an impossible task to complete alone. There are moments I feel like I’m standing on the edge of an abyss so deep, and so dark, that if I lose my balance, I’ll simply disappear. Sometimes I think we may all want to disappear, and seeking a little personal time is okay. The boat I’m building is smaller than the boat that capsized when my beloved husband died. The new boat will have a minimal amount of stuff on board, but the deck, the berthing compartment and the galley will be absolutely full of memories. The memories of a life well lived, and a love so true, will be the wind in the sails. The storms will surely continue to roll in and toss the new boat from side to side, but the strength within the foundation of the new boat will prevail. I’ll proudly and humbly steer this new, smaller boat as steadily as possible, knowing that from time to time I may need a life saving ring tossed into the waves. I don’t have a choice about moving into the open waters on my own in many ways, but I do know that I have many life rafts waiting on shore should I need them.

Building this new boat has been challenging. I don’t necessarily think it’s better, it’s just different. My life is different now, not better. I miss my sailor (he was a US Navy sailor) and I miss the anchor he was in my life. I miss the hugs and the warmth and the adventure. I miss what could have been, and am trying hard to be comfortable in facing what is. The waves and storms and riptides will pull my new boat in a million different directions, but my heart will always be seeking the true north that my beloved was. No compass will ever point me in a direction where he doesn’t exist…

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!

To My Husband…

When you spend the majority of your life in the service of others, how do you let people know what that looks like? I think it looks like this…

You were born the last of 6 children to your loving parents and they raised you all to reflect their beliefs. You valued family. You were raised to believe that manners mattered and maintained your gracious and beautiful manners right up to the end of your life. You had all the traits of being the youngest of a large family, but those traits gave you insight to so much more than most people ever get to see. Being the youngest gave you a fighting spirit, a determination to be seen and the courage to try. You learned what to and not to do. You gave of yourself privately, with much abandon and with a love so steady, a lot of people mistook it for aloofness. 

You were a wonderful Daddy, and I loved being the Mommy to your Daddy. I also loved being the MiMi to your Poppy and the Oma to your Opa. I was the Auntie to your Uncle for so many and I will always be so grateful for that. How is it possible that you loved me so much that the hole in my heart where you lived will never be filled again? I will heal, and I will move forward, but that hole will remain. 

Our daughters are so lucky that you were their Daddy, even when you were vilified and thrown away. Those were the actions of someone else, not you. You stood strong through the pain. You may have been away from home a lot while serving, but the girls knew you loved them. They have always known that, even when our family became broken. You were the first man either of them loved and they are blessed to be a part of you. I am blessed that I got to share parenthood with you, even though you and I had to carry each other. We had to carry one another through the hurt and trials and pain. I would give anything to have you carrying me right now… 

When our grandsons become men, I pray that they become a little of you. Hard working, a wee bit stubborn, smart and loving. If a man is defined by his character, they have big shoes to fill. You gave so much without people ever knowing just what it cost you at times. When I needed you, you were always there. Even in our darkest times, I know you never gave up on us. I regret that I cannot say the same. But when I think about it, maybe I didn’t give up, either. Otherwise we would have never stayed married for as long as we did. I loved you more than my own life, and I only wish I could express that. If our grandsons grow into even a little of the man you were, they’ll be beyond blessed. So will their future families.

Our granddaughters have been so lucky to have been loved by you. You were the best Poppy and Opa ever, and they will miss you. I’ll teach them about how much you loved them, and their moms, so that they know that true love is possible. The pain of abandonment will always be a part of the fabric of our memories, but as time goes on the pain diminishes. I pray that our granddaughters never know that depth of pain. I’ll encourage them to seek a life partner that gives them confidence. encourages independence, and is willing to be a “kitchen song” dancer…

When someone asks me about you 10, 15 or 20 years from now, I’ll say that I was loved by a man that was warm, strong of faith and loyal. You were so loved by so many and we all miss what could have been. I pray that you’ve found the comfort you so richly deserve in the arms of Jesus and that you are reunited with those who went on before you. I will join you someday in the future and we will hold hands, hug one another and pick-up where we left off… in love, in like, and simply happy. 

I miss you. 

I love you more than most and…

You were my end from the beginning.

Pathway at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Photo by Barb Enos

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!

A Bit of Light…

Hi all,

I hope this post finds you all well and safe. I’m having a decent day emotionally, at least right now, and thought I would take a few minutes to say hello. I struggle most days to find positive and happy inducing moments. I think I’ve been struggling for so long that the idea of NOT struggling is finding difficulty in taking root within me. I’ve been so focused for so long on the struggle that I almost fear a life without it. The key word there being almost…

A bit of light shone on me just a little while ago when I was out walking. I met a bouncy, bubbly and oh, so happy Boston Terrier Pup that was just soooo happy to see me, too! I miss my dog like crazy, but this little bundle of black and white sass helped ease that missing just a bit. Boston’s are bred for companionship and this one was so friendly. The breed has a tendency to use their bodies as their tail and this one was no different. He wagged all over and sprinkled on my shoes just a wee bit. So endearing. When he saw his person coming towards him he was overjoyed. It melted my heart to see the connection between the dog and his person. It also made me think of my beloved grandson and his BT, Moe. Moe is definitely the cat’s meow of Boston Terriers in my mind. Small, cute and so in love with his boy! As am I…

It’s warming up in Boston, finally, and I for one am very happy about this. I miss the southern heat and humidity, so getting to experience a little heat here in the Northeast is a welcome event. Lots of people were out walking and enjoying the weather, myself included. Sometimes we really do just have to stop and unwind. Life is so much more than just making money and being stressed out because of it. I work to live, I don’t live to work. Finding moments to enjoy your life away from work matter. Meet up with an old friend. Go for a walk in the sunshine. Sit in the sun for a little while. Whatever it is you like to do when the weather is nice, I hope you find the opportunity and the time to do so. Be selfish and spend your time the way you want, not the way others think you should. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

I’m beginning to believe that I will see a bit of light in my future at some point, though I’m not quite there yet. I’m working again, and the longer I work at the ice cream shop, the more I like it. It’s busy, it helps pass the time and I get to make people happy when I serve them. Ice cream makes most people happy and happiness is definitely on my menu of choices these days. My husband loved ice cream and I wish I could bring some home to him. I smile at work when I think about him enjoying ice cream with our grands, he loved them all so damned much. He loved me, too. He will always be my favorite ice cream date. Always.

Today is a good day, and I hope to keep feeling a bit of light shining through when the clouds in my head get dark and heavy. I’m trying to turn my face towards the sun and let it warm my skin. In doing so, I try to remember to give thanks that my beloved is no longer suffering. I am trying to be okay with moving forward in what is now just my life, not ours. I am a me. The us we were will always be, and I know, somewhere down the path of my life, the light will shine brighter.

Be well, stay safe and always remember to be kind…

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

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

A Long Goodbye…

Hello all,

Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve written, and if you’ve followed my blog you know that I’ve been caring for my beloved husband since his catastrophic stroke on October 30, 2019. Unfortunately for me and the rest of our family, he passed away on February 10, 2021. For him, he’s finally at peace after a 16+ month struggle. No more pain, no more suffering, no more continuously long separations because of Covid-19 and visitation restrictions. He’s gone on to be re-united with his Heavenly Father, his earthly father, his sister and one of his brothers, playing cribbage somewhere in the heavens, probably laughing and smiling and enjoying the after-life free of pain.

I was called by the hospice unit on February 2nd, after not seeing him for almost three months, and they asked me to come see him. He had been crying without ceasing, and no matter what the staff did for him, he just wouldn’t stop. I drove the 30 minutes to the hospice unit and when I got into my husband’s room, and took his hand, he stopped crying. I asked him if he knew who I was and he said “you’re my beautiful wife.” Hearing that helped my heart heal, but there was more shattering to come. As I got comfortable sitting with him, he asked me “Will you give me permission to die?” Talk about pain… By now I am trying my best not to sob, and of course I told him yes. He also asked me to tell our girls he loved them, and that their husbands take care of them. Lastly he said “don’t let our grand-babies forget me.” I promised him I wouldn’t, and he rested off and on for the remainder of the two hours I was allowed to be with him. He would rouse from time to time and I would tell him I loved him, never letting go of his hand. At the end of our visit, I had to literally pry myself away from him, not knowing at that moment when, or if, I would ever see him alive again.

I drove back home after crying for a while in my car, and was beyond broken. After all that time of not seeing him, I was grateful to see him, but heartbroken by the words spoken. Little did I know that I would come to believe that he knew deep within his spirit that he would be taking a turn for the worse that very night…

On the morning of February 3rd, the Nurse Manager from hospice called me and asked me to come back. My husband had spent most of the night and early morning hours vomiting. He was now lethargic and mostly unresponsive. I packed a few things in a bag and flew down the highway, praying for a safe arrival. When I got to his room, he didn’t even look like the man I had just seen 22 hours before. He was skeletal, and grey. I took his hand again and stayed by his side for the next week, leaving him only when asked by staff or to shower. I told him over and over and over again that he was loved, that he could go and that we would always be together, our bond was beyond the physical. I asked his oldest brother to come that night, and he did. He sat with us for several hours and it was a blessing. When his brother asked him what he was doing, my husband replied “I’m sleeping.” I also heard him say I love you two times to me and the last word he said was “what.”

On Friday evening our youngest daughter flew into Boston. My brother picked her up at the airport and brought her to hospice. She was shattered by what she saw, and so brave. We watched her father’s body begin to be ravaged by fevers, and while Tylenol suppositories helped initially to manage the fevers, it wasn’t long before the beast of fever took hold and never let go. We would sit by his bed, play soft music, read to him, talk to him and hold his hand. We would watch the snow fall outside the windows of his room and talk about how her young children would have to grow up without their “Poppy.” It did then, it does now, and it always will make me incredibly sad that my husband is gone and that our two youngest grandchildren will only know him through memories and pictures. My husband was created to be a grandfather, and he relished the role. Our daughter flew home on February 8th, knowing she would never see her Daddy again. She and I both prayed for God’s mercy, begging Him to take our beloved husband and daddy home.

After our daughter left, I had my bother come and see my husband on Tuesday, February 9th. By now the fevers were not abating, they were raging. He was burning up and each minute he was fading. At this point he was completely unresponsive. He was bathed many times a day as the fevers made him soaked with sweat. I never left his side except to use the restroom, and when asked by staff. Every morning the doctor would look for the “mottling” of his feet and hands, and it began to appear more prominently by Tuesday afternoon. When my brother left, I sat by his side, no noise or music or talking, just holding his hand. Everything we needed to say had been said. Now we were just waiting…

On Wednesday morning, when I looked at my husband’s feet, I knew he would die that day. It was snowing out. Again. I texted my sister-in-love who only lived about 20 minutes away and asked her to bring me hot chocolate from Panera Bread. She did, but I never drank it. By the time she got to his room, he had started to turn yellow, from jaundice. He was beyond emaciated. He reminded me of Skeletor from He-man. We both held a hand, we talked to him and we called our sister-in-love in NH so she could say good-bye. As I was on the phone with her, my other sister-in-love said my name twice, I looked at my husband, hung up the phone and he took his final breath. It was 12:25pm and I felt a part of myself die with him. I sobbed in my sister-in-love’s arms, she sobbed in mine, and we said goodbye. My husband’s oldest brother was on his way to hospice from work, but he arrived after my husband died. It broke my heart to have to meet him at the elevator, knowing when those doors opened, I wouldn’t have to say anything. He would know. He did. We embraced in the hallway and then went back to my husband’s room. His older brother was shocked at the physical changes the last few days had brought his baby brother, and was relieved for my husband that his suffering was now over. My husband’s pain ended, finally, but now our family had to learn to cope with a new and everlasting pain.

I have spent the days since February 10, 2021 learning how to become a different version of the woman married to the man that was my husband. He has been laid to rest in the National Cemetery of Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. He lives on in the blue eyes of our grandchildren. He lives on in the hearts of his three remaining brothers. He lives on in the music I listen to on the radio in the car. He lives on… My life will never be the same, I accept that. What I won’t, and can’t accept is that my life will not be good again. It is good. I have wonderful connections with people that I never would have met had it not been for my husband. I have a confidence and determination that my husband helped encourage over the many years we were together, and I intend to keep being both confident and determined. I will keep his memory alive for our grandchildren. I will carry his name in my heart and share our love story with those willing to listen. I said goodbye to the body that carried the spirit of the man I love, but not to the spirit of the man who loved me. We will always be connected, and knowing this brings comfort. Much comfort…

A long goodbye? Yes. In many ways. A permanent goodbye? Never…

Never Letting Go, photo by Barb Enos

Sometimes…

Hi all,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, and while I wish I could come up with an amazing reason why, I’ll just tell the truth. Life has been happening and I’ve been going along for the ride. Sometimes willingly, sometimes not. Life has a way of making us stay on the train, even when it runs off the tracks.

Sometimes I wish that I could be exactly what everyone wants me to be, and sometimes I wish I were brave enough to tell the people with those unreasonable wants to just F off. As time continues to pass and my beloved suffers, I find that I care less and less about what people want me to be. Or what they want from me. I lie awake at night and sometimes let my mind just go where it will. Sometimes I take a specific train of thought to its destination and drop it off. To the people that try and steer me in a different direction? Just don’t. I’m making my own way the best way I know how and I’m the only one responsible for the consequences of whatever decision(s) I make. How about this? Sometimes, just sometimes, try steering your own train, on its own track, to its specific destination and stay out of the way of mine. Got it? Thanks! If who I am now, who I have been and who I am becoming is not who you think I should be, it’s okay. I’m learning to be okay with the me I am becoming and I am definitely okay with the me I have been, even when that me was sad and broken. I’m still sad and still broken, but the sunlight that reflects off my broken pieces is warm and beautiful and wholly welcome.

Sometimes you have a day where, when it’s over, you look back and are amazed by what you see. As a person with a deep, planning nature, I sometimes miss the wonderful gifts that spontaneity brings. Not today. Yesterday was an amazingly wonderful day and I went with my gut on decisions being made about my future as a widow. While I am not a widow yet, I know it’s coming. I know I’ll need to be prepared, or at least as prepared as I think I can be. I set out yesterday to have a recall done on my car, had it completed and drove away. The recall was one of the things I had planned on doing to get this car ready to sell. I had planned on selling it in March of this year, but instead let the spontaneous nature of an unexpected phone call guide my decision. The phone call was from the dealership where I’d had the recall done; they were interested in buying my car! Um, OK. I drove back to the dealership and ended up selling them my car. It was easy, the offer sound, and since I can only drive one car at a time, I knew I’d be okay. I bought my dream car last spring, had been renting a parking space for it and using it infrequently. Now I am saving more than 1K a year on insurance, 1200 bucks a year for parking and will spend less on gas, since my 2nd car is small. I’ve been striving to adopt a minimalist life style, and letting go of that car fits in with my quest. It was the last car my husband and I bought together, but it’s a car. My memories of trips taken, of driving it for work, of driving home to him after work don’t disappear because the car is gone. It’s just a car after all. I am at peace with letting it go…

Sometimes I wish I could see into the future, but I fully admit that I believe that there are many reasons why we can’t see what’s ahead in our lives. How many of us would have married our spouses if we knew ahead of time how hard marriage could be at times? How many of us would have taken chances in situations where the outcome had been less than desirable? How many people would decide not to believe in themselves if they could have seen that a decision made could end up crushing the spirit of adventure that lives deep within all of us? There are so many lessons to be learned by accepting what is, and those lessons help us keep striving to move forward. I’ve made decisions since my husband’s stroke that have resulted in second-guessing, regret and self-turmoil, but those same decisions have also made me stronger, more determined and more self-aware. I believe that the lessons we learn the hardest are the ones we learn the best. Has someone hurt you so badly that you were continually blinded by the pain? This has happened to me more than once. More then twice. It’s happened over and over and over again, and the pain is so hot and so shattering that I’ve thought I couldn’t survive. Guess what? I did, and am surviving. I’m doing more than that in many ways. In many ways I am thriving! It takes a lot of self work, self discovery and self determination to pick yourself back up after you’ve been crushed, but you can. I haven’t always been able to pick myself back up without help, and letting someone help isn’t weakness. It takes a great deal of strength to show someone else all your brokenness, to cry out for help, and to actually accept that help. The future still holds many secrets from me. It holds many challenges. I do know that when my husband passes I will need help getting back on my feet emotionally, and I will seek it. I am not afraid of what’s coming, but I am sad. And, as weird as this sounds, I’m ready. I’ve been witness to his recoveries. His declines. What he’s going through now is not living. Pain, endless physical pain. Loneliness that never seems to abate. He can’t walk, he can’t see well, and he can’t even pee on his own anymore. I am ready for his healing to occur, knowing full well that it won’t be in life, but in death. He’s ready, too. Not knowing when in the future this is coming is incredibly hard to face, but none of us knows our last breath will be taken.

Sometimes I could keep on writing, but not today. I’m going to end here for now and will come back soon. I appreciate you reading this and hope that it encourages you in some small way to keep moving forward. We are all part of a world that is noisy, chaotic and seemingly at times, out of control. We are also part of a world that is beautiful, full of adventure and exciting. Remember to be kind, stay safe and love freely…

Almost Done…

Hi All,

Do the words in the title of tonight’s blog make you feel anything? Maybe anxious? Or excited? How about sad? These two words bring a lot of feeling to the forefront of my mind, and right now, the most obvious feeling is scared. I am scared. My husband is hanging on, but I know his life is almost done. At least here on this earth. My husband is a believer, as am I, but we don’t believe the same way all the time. It’s okay. We both believe that his healing will happen in the afterlife. We both believe that the journey towards the afterlife will be worth all the suffering. He believes, and so do I, that once he passes away, his spirit will never leave mine. His body is a vessel, as is mine, but the spiritual connection is something beyond the physical. I am scared to have to say goodbye for good to the physical presence of my beloved, but I know I don’t have to say goodbye to the spirit of the man I have loved all my life.

Almost done… with my seasonal job at UPS as a PVD (private vehicle driver) and I think I’ll miss it more than I care to admit. I’ve met some cool people, gotten to know a few neighborhoods outside the city and proven to myself that this almost 60 year old can keep up! The job has helped me get through the holiday season without my husband. It’s been 56 days today since I’ve been allowed to see him. The pay is healthy for a temp job, and I’ve managed to save quite a bit. I am saving for the future, I have to. Soon I will be completely alone, carrying the burden of finances on my own. I’m ready. I want to look forward without fear, and look back with gratitude. I don’t know where I’ll end up, or when, but I’ll keep making sure I am as ready as possible.

Almost done… I’m trying to figure out a time frame for selling my Ford Escape. It’s time to let it go and put that money towards the future as well. I plan on selling it in February or March, and I’ll be ready to lessen my auto insurance as well. Living in one of the highest cost cities for car insurance is so not a bonus when it comes to cost, but taking that car off my bill will certainly ease the pain in my wallet. I’m looking forward to being almost done in this specific regard! Boston is very expensive, people drive like maniacs, and more times than not, you can tell drivers have a hurry up and get in front of someone attitude. I let them. It’s not worth the crash. Or cash.

I’m wishing I could find a way to be almost done with the amount of times I put my heart at risk by trusting people with it. I’m learning, but damn, at 58 you’d think I’d have a little more sense as to who is and isn’t trustworthy. I’ve always said that the lessons that we learn the hardest are the ones we learn the best, but for some reason, this is a lesson I just can’t seem to learn fully. I’m raw, and broken, and hurting for others, but in that hurt, I opened the door to being hurt without realizing it. Again. Please, let me be almost done with putting myself out there to be stomped on, ridiculed and treated like I am less than. Enough. I am also strong willed, determined and sassy. Time to let those traits shine for a while.

We had been without internet here at the house since Saturday past, and just got it back today. It’s been kind of nice, in a way, but also not so nice. I depend on my Chromebook and it’s connection to the internet to write my blog, and not being able to when I wanted was annoying. It’s back up now, Alexa is responsive once again, and I can write, listen to music, play games, pay bills (ick) and do whatever else we humans do with the internet. I have been trying to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle for a few months, and following a page on Facebook called Becoming Minimalist. I found during our internet loss I really missed it. I don’t have a lot of material things, everything my husband and I own fits in my room at home and a small storage unit. Being minimal appeals to my planning nature, and it sure makes cleaning and organizing easier. Whenever I finally get to move the things out of storage, I may have to purge again. One of my favorite things to do…

In closing, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this entry. The world may crashing all around us, but we can try and find a little light at the end of each day. I am concerned that the country I love may be almost done, and I pray for peace. The human race is the only thing that can save the human race, but we’re not doing a very good job of saving ourselves right now. Love should always win. I’m not almost done with hatred, I AM DONE with hatred. Hating your neighbors because of their politics, or skin color, or even their sexual orientation is exhausting. Pick up and put on the mantle of peace. Walk away from the frenzy and take the time to feel the sun on your face. Help your elderly neighbor with whatever they need. Pay it forward. Smile. And, as always, remember to be kind to one another. Kindness is free, and will do your heart good.

Until next time…

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

The Unexpected…

Hi All,

Today started off like any other day has as of late. I got up at 6:30, wandered on in to the kitchen, made my coffee and emptied the dishwasher. Started laundry. Ate cereal with a banana. Tried to solve a daily word puzzle. Headed upstairs and took a shower. All very routine and almost taken for granted. Almost…

The first unexpected thing happened when I was in the shower. I always listen to The Message on Sirius/XM while in the shower and my phone sits on the little stool by the radiator. I knew someone had texted me when I was in the shower by the loss of volume in the music. It irritated me. Three times it irritated me before I was done. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? To get irritated by something I couldn’t control… When I finally got out of the shower and looked at the phone, it was my work that texted me to tell me there was no work for PVD’s with UPS today. Not a big deal, but the first hiccup of the days plan. After drying my hair and brushing my teeth, I came downstairs and got dressed in comfy sweats and my favorite Jim Brickman hoodie. Warm socks completed my ensemble. Not a fashionista by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. Actually, I never am and I’m so okay with that. The older I get the more I realize that I am exactly who I need to be. For me. For my family. And for my friends. Being more is not necessary.

After getting dressed I talked with one of my friend’s for a while and then wandered into the quiet living room to watch Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2, but didn’t. Another unexpected opportunity presented itself. I switched gears from Vampires, to God. Yes, that God. I watched the movie about Jeremy and Melissa Camp and Jeremy’s song “I Still Believe.” The beginning of the film was easy, but not 30 minutes in, it became very painful to watch. What wasn’t painful? As I watched I began to realize that I have been so stuck inside my own pain that my prayers have become almost remote. Push a button, pray. Blink your eyes, pray. Walk down memory lane, pray. I could feel the pain that both Jeremy and Melissa experienced because of the circumstances of their life, but more than that, I was encouraged by the strength of faith possessed by them. I was reminded in a most personal and powerful way that the struggles and pain I face every day are insurmountable when facing them in the human sense. I am not alone. I know this and I’ve said it many times throughout the past 14+ months. My heartbreak is real, raw and seems to never end. My faith can be weak, scattered and seem not enough, but it is. I am loved.

The movie touched me deep inside, and knowing the story of Jeremy and Melissa Camp going into watching the movie didn’t make it any easier to come to terms with what is happening in my life. Or in the life of my husband. The movie affected me in an unexpected way. The movie brought me introspection. I’ve been thinking since the movie ended about how I can pray differently for my husband. How I can pray in a more meaningful, authentic way. I wish the movie could’ve brought me relief from the never ending streams of tears that seem to seep from my eyes all the time. Today it’s been 48 days since I’ve seen him in person and I think this forced period of isolation is much harder on me than I have been willing to admit. The movie made me see this. No matter how old or young we are, when the person that we love the most is suffering, we suffer, too. I have been trying to “manage” my pain, but it’s been managing me. I have no idea how much longer my husband has here, or if I’ll ever see him again, but I still believe…

I never expected to be where I am at this point in my life. I thought that we would be living in our little 1970’s ranch home in the rural Berkeley county area of SC. I thought we would playing with our grandchildren, having meals as a family unit with their parents. I thought we would be going to church together and raising our hands, and hearts, the the Lord in thanks. I still thank Him, but it doesn’t always make sense to me. I’m human, and selfish, and hurting. I want to hug my husband, I want to see my daughter, I want to have a margarita with my friends. I want… but can’t have. This season of pain and uncertainty has given me pause to examine my life in a very critical and almost too harsh way. Almost being the key word. What’s unexpected about that? The examination has brought me to a place of understanding and surrender. Both extremely difficult things to accept. I understand that my husband had a stroke and that he lived a hard life by choice. I don’t understand the amount of suffering and pain he’s living in right now. I know I never will. So I say welcome, to surrender. I have to surrender him and his pain to a higher power. I have to surrender my heartache and my tears to the God I believe in. I have to believe that the greater plan in all of this will be healing, just not in the sense of earthly healing. I have to believe that there will be unexpected gifts of love, compassion and peace somewhere down the proverbial road. If I lose my belief in what is coming, I may as well just give up. Not. Gonna. Happen.

I am no theologian. I am not, by any means, an expert in prayer, surrender or the ways of God. I do not claim to have any answers, never mind all the answers. What I can tell you… God, as I know Him, loves me. Me. The kid who was abused as a child, the teenager that was defiant, the woman that was treated with disdain and hatred by her own flesh and blood. I am still loved. Me. He loves me. He knows my name and I am worthy of His love. Because God loves me I know I will make it through this and whatever unexpected things happen in the future. As a child I believed the way I was taught, now I believe in the way that has brought me home, much like the Prodigal son in the Bible. I know that there are people out there that believe I am still not a “true” believer, but I don’t worry about all that. My relationship with God is mine, not theirs, and I don’t need their approval. Nor do I need their permission to believe the way I do. God loves me. Me. That has to enough… And it is…

If you need to be prayed for, please reach out to me. We are not meant to do life alone and I would be honored to add you and your prayer needs to my prayer journal. If you don’t believe in God, that’s okay, you still might want to connect with someone in this vast and lonely world. You’re not alone. Whatever unexpected things you’re facing, you are NOT alone…