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!

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

One Step Forward…

(Don’t ask how many steps I’ve had to take back…)

Hi All,

It’s been a bit since I’ve shared anything, I’ve been spending time with my family and friends. I’ve been trying to walk, not run, through my grief, but in my heart I wish I could avoid it altogether. One step forward, countless steps back. The tears still come. Every day. Several times a day. I’m tired of crying, but can’t seem to make it through a day without tears. It’s been two months today since my husband died, and time keeps marching on.

One step forward is not enough, but it’s all any of us can manage when our lives have been up-ended the way mine has. So many hurting people. I think there are far more hurting people out in the world than there are happy ones, and just the thought of that makes me sad. I WANT to be happy again, but know in the deepest part of my spirit I have to keep taking that one step forward to get there. I have to keep “embracing the suck.” When suck is all you have, you can let it defeat you, define you or refine you. I choose refine, though today that refining got up and walked away at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

There was a birthday party today for my 6 year old granddaughter. She’s a beautiful girl, full of fire and curiosity, and she’s fearless! She is the image of her mom, my youngest daughter, and I love being able to watch her grow and discover. I don’t love the fact that my husband won’t get to see her become a young woman, or graduate from high school, or fall in love. Poppy should be here, and I’m a poor substitute for the man I loved. I sat on the cooler full of kids drinks in front of my daughter’s house and sobbed before the party. Sobbing is exhausting. Grief is exhausting. One step forward is exhausting.

I’m heading back to New England next week, and I honestly don’t want to. I thought I had a plan. Hahahahaha… Plans? Wanna make God laugh? Tell Him your plans! I’m going to try hard to make peace with living in New England, at least until mid 2022. Plans change, though, and I have to admit that moving away from the bitter cold and snow is very appealing. Leaving my family, not so appealing. I have to be able to stand on my feet and take steps forward. Pray for me, please. I need to be able to find patience in the making of future plans, and all I find right now is chaos, turmoil and sadness.

I really don’t have a lot to say tonight. I had thought about writing all day, and now that I can, the words are taking the steps backwards like I’ve been doing. When the words on my heart begin to elude me, I know better than to try and force them out onto the page. I’m sad. I know it’s okay to be sad. I don’t want to be, I just am. I’m going to take my sad self to bed and pray that tomorrow I’m able to take more than one step forward.

Thanks so much for reading, I wish I could be more encouraging right now. Please stay safe and remember to be kind. Always…

Photo by Barb Enos

How Do I Do This?

Hey Everyone,

I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this life of mine that now comes with more freedom than I have ever had. Ever. I’ve always been fiercely independent, but that independence was always rooted in the secure foundations of my life. Those foundations included my parents. My siblings. My husband. Since my husband’s death I feel like I’ve been tossed to and fro. My parents, though divorced, encouraged me to be independent. My dad died in 2000, my mom in 2005. My siblings are grandparents and have their own lives to manage. Some of the tossing is of my own making, some comes as a result of being pushed too hard to “make” decisions. Some comes from my reaction to the most inappropriate question women are asked after their husbands die; “Will you ever get married again?” WTF!!! Like I have a back-up mate hiding in the closet of my room? Since the closet I have is a modular one I bought through Amazon, perhaps I should send it back and ask for a new one that includes a mature man (60+) with tattoos, broad shoulders, a bit of a Santa belly, a hairy chest? Please, add hands that are rough and calloused by hard work. a goatee and a heart that beats for me and my quirkiness… Every time some casual acquaintance asks me about my future plans, I roll my eyes. I grimace. I have to laugh at the lack of thinking that comes with this question, otherwise I’ll go completely mad and probably live to regret my reaction. So, here’s your answer. No. I am not getting married again, at least not today. My husband has been dead 44 days, and to entertain the idea that I could even consider marriage is both comical and cruel.

I don’t know how to incorporate the feeling that something is constantly missing in my life into my everyday existence. I started grieving when my husband was admitted to the hospital in October 2019 and though he is now gone, I find myself trying to figure it all out. All. There is no more all in many ways, and then there is more. There is also less. Just this week my three year old grandson asked to see “Poppy.” Can you even begin to imagine the pain that question caused? Such an innocent question from a little boy that loves his Poppy. I crave the “magical thinking” that children possess, it would be wonderful to so easily accept the answers to questions such as my grandson asked me. I know I have no choice but to accept the reality of my situation, and I do, but the ease with which my grandson accepted my reply to him is something I wish was part of being an adult. I’ve mentioned before that a wise, retired Navy Master Chief suggested I learn how to “Embrace the Suck” and I actually cling to those three words now. I have to. Sometimes suck is all I have and I choose to let it make me more resilient. I am grateful that my husband no longer suffers, but the crater left in my heart is where it feels like all his suffering lives now. 10X over. Time, patience, grace and love are the band-aids applied to the wounds this suffering brings, and though I feel like I should be able to remove the band-aids, I cannot. I don’t know how. Yet.

I listened to a TED talk this week about moving on from grief and moving forward with grief. I happened upon it while scrolling through Facebook. I’m including the link at the end of this blog post for those who wish to listen. It brought to light many things I’ve been feeling. And fearing. I’ve often said that grieving the way I am is harder. And it is. In some aspects. In other aspects, it’s been much easier. The sudden death of a spouse brings a spirit crushing desperation. Long term illness such as my husband suffered brings desperation for death. After my beloved was admitted to hospice, I prayed for his end to be peaceful, comfortable and soon. Soon was 5 months. Of those 5 months, I got to spend 2 of them with him. At the end, I was there for the last week. As we all know, Covid-19, and the restrictions imposed at all levels of Government, have taken away so much time from patients in long term care facilities. I ached for my husband, he was alone. His brain injury made it so he couldn’t understand why. So many people, all around the world, feeling abandoned. So much grief…

How do I do this? How do I write about my grief? My sadness? My pain? The question shouldn’t be “How do I?” it should be “Why wouldn’t I?” I love to write and have been saddened to be less active in my writing life these past few months. I want my blog to help someone else, even if it’s only one person, realize that they are not alone. The old saying that “it takes a village” is so very true. We humans are not meant to walk through this life alone. Nor are we meant to hide from our life. Life brings chaos, and chaos can be so loud. I don’t like chaos. Or loud. In sharing my chaos, I find that I can turn down the volume of the loudness that usually accompanies it. I’m a neat freak, I like things organized and planned. Grief doesn’t care that I’d like to live a quiet, simple, minimalist life. Grief brings uncertainty, and pain. Anger. Desolation. And though grief brings many unwanted gifts, there is a silver lining. Grief can shape us into someone new. It can deepen our sense of compassion. It can open our eyes to the plight of others. We can take our grief out into the world around us and lend a hand to someone just beginning on their journey. We can help shine light into the darkness of someone else’s grief by being kind By listening. How I wish people would listen more. No one but me can “fix” my grief, and I’m smart enough to know that fixing grief is not possible. Moving forward with grief is possible, and I’m doing that with every step I take. I’m doing that with every word I write. I’m moving forward every time I make my bed, every time I decide to do something and every time I go somewhere new. My life isn’t over, and the spirit of the man I loved more than my own life is with me. Always.

In closing, I’d like to thank all of you that read my musings. May you all be safe, and remember always to be kind…

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…

Still here… And Still Hurting…

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Barb Enos

Seven…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Barb Enos