Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Am I happy yet?

A few weeks ago, I started taking my version of depression meds...Sam-e.  I wasn't sure those little tinfoil wrapped, enteric coated tablets would do much, but I'm pretty sure they are doing the job.

I'm just days away from the 3 year Thanksgiving anniversary of Mike's death.  And I'm ok.  In fact, I really am grateful these days:

  • For my kids who put off their own grief so they could (in my mind) wrap me in bubble wrap so I wouldn't hurt myself in MY grief.  They never left my side.  They cried with me, hugged me when I collapsed on the floor, and let me cry/scream/bitch whenever the mood struck (which...well you get it).
  • For our friends.  Some were with me within minutes of my phone call.  Some came later, and stayed with me for days and some for weeks.
  • For my dogs (who get me out of the house whether I like it or not).
  • For my adorable grandkids.  No explanation required.
  • For Facebook (yup, I mean it).
  • For Wine!  Hey.  Whatever works.
There's so much more, and my list could go on and on.  But, I'll spare you.  :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

New York City Marathon

I know this is not a running blog, but I was supposed to be going to New York City tomorrow...and now I'm not.   My youngest daughter, Kim, was going to run.  She trained hard.  Really Really Hard.  And she was ready.  Then Hurricane Sandy hit.

Kim debated for most of the week.  She hoped it would be called off.  But, as of this morning, it was still a go.  So, she made the decision to pull out.  She realized that she was not going to be proud to say she raced.   Not this year.  I was pretty proud of her for making that decision.  It couldn't have been easy.  Then, Mayor Bloomberg made the decision to cancel the race altogether.  Thankfully.

Mayor Bloomberg may have thought the race would be a good thing for the City.  He cited the fact that the race still went on after the September 11, 2001 attack.  But, on that day, we had a common enemy...one who was directly responsible for the devastation.  We could all galvanize behind that.  We could show them that they couldn't win.  Not only would New York bounce back but so would America.  We would prove it!  This time, there is no enemy.  There is no one to blame and nothing to prove.

One thing I know from loss is that you look for someone or something to blame.  If the marathon had gone on, it (and the runners) could have been blamed for hindering the recovery.  And that would have damned the NYC Marathon for years to come.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Depression and Happy Pills

Lately, my mood has been pretty dark.  I don't know if I'm still recovering from an illness I had recently or if it's something more sinister.  I've been missing my old life a lot, and wondering how I can possibly sustain the stressful one I'm living.  I know I did it to myself.  Having mom living with me and feeling a huge financial burden are not making things easier.

I used to think that you could "talk yourself out of it".  My journal shows that I've been trying to do that for weeks now...listing all the things I'm grateful for, things that make me happy, all love and flowers.  And I'm still feeling a smallness in my life.  I don't like it.

I've mentioned before that I don't much like medical intervention with prescription pills, so I'm trying something that worked before.  SAM-e.  I've tried St. John's Wort only to find myself needing more sleep and feeling very drowsy during the day.  Today is Day 2 on my version of Happy Pills.  Too soon to tell if they'll help.  I'll keep you posted.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Binders Full of Women

Ok, I know this is a blog about life after being widowed, but I still do stuff like vote.  I'm having a really hard time wrapping my little brain around this quote (and a few others).  We're talking inequality in the workplace...he is talking dinner.

Former Governor Romney stated that women need flexible schedules so they can be with their families and make dinner.  He knows there are good women out there, 'cause he had Binders Full of Women.  He recognized that "if women were going to be in the workplace" they need flexible schedules.  Yeah.  That's what women need.  Let's not worry our pretty little heads about real economic issues or the fact that most working families need real pay so they can pay for those pesky little things like the mortgage, food, and utilities.  

I have to wonder, especially coming on the heels of his 47% comment, where the hell he has been living.  Certainly not in my poor ass world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sick Days

Today I feel like a steamship has taken up residence in my head...riding the waves of the ocean in a storm.  Yup...that bad.  So, I'll be calling out sick.

I'm paid hourly, so no work...no pay.  I never worried about stuff like that 3 years ago.  I had a back-up plan named Mike.

This widow thing is a pretty weird way of living.  On one hand, it's kind of fun to be calling the shots.  On the other hand, it's unnerving to be calling the shots.  I guess I just need to find another back-up plan.  One without a name.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Date? um....Let me think about that.

I guess my first thought on this is....seriously?  who cares.  But, then I also have concerns about dating soon into the grieving process. 

When you start dating, people who have not gone through the whole life devastation thing, think that you're over it.  Like losing a beta fish or something.  So, the real issue, (for me anyways) is that the support you need during the grieving process turns into something else.  Rah Rah and WooHoo kind of stuff.  And maybe that's what we need, but I think not.  I know I wanted a listening ear and gentle hands to help do the stuff that I was just unable to do while I learned how to live a totally different life.

And I worry that, should the new dating relationship come to an abrupt end, and the grieving still needs to be done, is the support still there?  I don't know.  And further more, I don't know when or if the grieving ends.  So, feel free to date when you're ready.  Just know that I won't be Rah Rah and WooHoo for you unless you absolutely want me to.  ;) 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What I Do Now

I am a huge "Organic" freak.  At the very least, I want my food, my home, and my body to be as natural as possible.  I shop for groceries at farmer's markets and the local farm stands.  I make my own body products.  I make my own cleaning supplies (or buy the "green" stuff when I'm really lazy).  What feels a little "off" in my life is working part-time in the financial services industry.

A few days ago, I started working another part-time position in a small, local health food store.  I feel like I am finally starting to move in the direction that I am intended to go.  It just feels right.  I still have the part-time financial services job, but it too is turning into something else.

A few days ago, while working in the financial services position, I called a client to see if he would like to come in for a portfolio review.  His wife told me that he had just passed away.  ugh.  To the gut.  It then struck me that, in that position, I am helping widows and widowers.  I can help them walk through the financial mess...the paperwork...and maybe provide them with the first glimpse of that flash of light.  Maybe.

My life feels pretty good right now.  On purpose.   I really like that.

Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31, 1974

The year we were married...38 years ago.  Still weird to think we aren't together.  So, onward I go.

I was offered a new job yesterday working for a small natural health store.  I've already said yes to the job.  Now I just have to find a way to let my "other" boss know that I'm leaving.  I feel bad.  I like him.  Just not crazy about financial services.  I want to put my new education to use and this fits me perfectly.

And, then....there's mom.  She's still with me.  Quite the little drama queen. 

I've been parking at the front of the house when I get home from work. This allows me to come in the front door without her noticing that I'm home.  Then, I can take a little breather before starting my second, all-time job with her.  Yesterday she asked Jenny (my daughter-in-law) who was in the house because my car wasn't there.  Jenny told her I was home, but my car was being used by my son.  She told Jenny that I park out front so she won't know when I'm home.  She's on to me.

Today she told Catie (her care worker) that I have people take her out to lunch so we can party here without her.  Ok...a little over the top, but may be worth the consideration.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Last Vacation

I'm just back from a mini-vacation to Lake George with my girls and granddaughters.  We drove up to Lake George, NY on Friday morning and came back on Sunday afternoon.  The last time I was there was with Mike...on the weekend after Thanksgiving...maybe 2006.   Odd that it would be Thanksgiving weekend.  Odder still that I didn't feel emotional at all.  Oh, I thought about stuff...like here is the hotel we stayed at...here is where I walked in the morning...here is where we ate dinner.  Without sadness.


What I felt instead was complete and utter joy.  I was so happy to be with my girls and my "littles."  I woke up every morning to the sound of the water lapping at the shore and the birds at the feeder outside my window.  We went boating, and shopping, and suntanning.  We ate fantastic meals and watched the sunset.

I felt joy!  Happiness!  Serenity!  Peace!  I'm living again.  Finally.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kevin Ambrose

Today is the funeral for Kevin Ambrose.  I didn't know him, but my heart is sad.

Kevin was 55 years old - the same age Mike was when he died.  Kevin was also a police officer in the City of Springfield, MA...killed by an enraged ex-boyfriend of a woman he was sent to protect.  She was also shot, but as of today's date, will probably live.  Lives somehow linked in a moment and changed forever, thereby changing those who loved them.

Kevin's wife, children, and grandchildren will live with the knowledge that he was a hero.  I'm sure it will offer some consolation, but I'm thinking....not much.   He may have died a public hero, but he was so much more than that to his family.  It's the little things that will matter to them...family dinners, the grandkids birthdays, the holiday gatherings, having someone to talk to about your day, the morning routine.

Maybe I feel his death so much more because it is the same profession my daughter works in.  Or maybe it's because, in spite of his hero status, he left behind a family who loved him and will miss him every day of their lives.  And, I know what that feels like.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hot, Cold, and Lack of Sleep

Mom is always cold.  She wants the electric heater in her bedroom.  It's June.  I tell her "When pigs or snow fly."  She says she's awake at night because of the cold, so we've compromised.  The electric blanket is my concession, 'cause one thing I know about is how "uncomfortable" lack of sleep can be.  

After Mike died, it was months (like 24 of them) before I was able to sleep through the night.  Over the last few months, I've made a few changes so the 2 a.m. wake up calls happen less often.  Things like not eating after 7 p.m., no television or computer 1 hour before bed, and keeping my bedroom cool and dark all work pretty well.  One thing that does not work well is having my little heat generator sleeping in my bed.

My daughter is a cop on the night shift.  Her life partner sometimes works an overnight shift as well.  This leaves my 8 year old granddaughter in my care...sleeping soundly next to me...while I write this blog at 4 a.m.  The kid is a bed hogging furnace.  What I should do is put her in bed with mom and shut off the electric blanket.  Then maybe we'd all get some sleep.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Family (in the house)

Did I mention that mom is back with me?  There is some kind of wierd logic in this world, but I can't imagine what it is.  Mike is gone.  Mom is not.  Linda says she is pickled and smoked from years of drinking wine and smoking cigarettes.  I have to agree.  She keeps me amused and frustrated.  I'm finding it harder to understand what she wants.  She knows what she wants, but can't get the words out.  A heater is a cushion and the waste basket is a book.  Mike was her best friend.  I wish he'd get his ass back here and help me out with this.

But, he won't be here any time soon.  What I do have right now is another son and his family living here now.  It's more than a full house with 4 adults and a 3-year old.  I mean 3 adults and 2 children.  Somehow, in this wierd, twisted life I live, the Universe knew I needed help.  Dan is the oldest son...the one who took responsibility for staying with his sister after her accident and getting her back home.  Having him here to help with this old house has been a real blessing.  But what I really like is having 2 adults in the house that I can have a normal conversation with.  And bitch to.  I wonder what they say to each other about these 2 old ladies they are living with...the one who can't get the words out, and the one who has developed quite the potty mouth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just another Valentine's Day

Yesterday, on Facebook, a widowed friend of mine posted that she will be thinking of all of her widowed friends today.  After that initial post, the widowed friends jumped on board wishing each other well, encouraging each other in ways that no one else could.  Now, that's love.

Another friend of mine posted this:  "Remember this: Saint Valentine's legend is that he encouraged his Christian brothers and sisters while they were being persecuted by sending a message of love to them, even while imprisoned. Valentine's day should be remembered as a day of caring and encouraging one another, not worrying about being single or with a lover. I challenge you today to reach out to that person you know is struggling in life and encourage them today in the Spirit of St. Valentine.... ♥"

On this Valentine's Day, I'm remembering the love I shared with Mike.  I'm also reminding myself that there's still a lot of that left over for others.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Notebook

No, not the movie. 

I carried one around for months.  I just found it tucked away in a drawer, and I must say...it's a good thing I had it at the very beginning because I didn't know my own name...never mind who I talked to about the life insurance.

I do remember thinking that I just couldn't hold onto any information.  Nothing.  Nada.  That notebook went with me everywhere and seemed, at times, to be an extension of my arm.

In that notebook, I wrote down a couple of things:

Sam e
Vitamin B
Vitamin D

These were the things my counselor thought would be a good addition to my depleted body.  When I look back on that time, these few little "natural" pills made a lot of sense.   They certainly weren't a cure-all for that intense pain, but they were more of a support for my brain.  And let's face it, when you're dealing with that kind of pain, you need all the support you can get.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grief as a Mental Disorder

I will probably take some flack for this, but give me a break, ok?

According to the NBC Nightly News, psychiatrists would like to term grief as a mental disorder.  What a great way to get 100% of the population on medication! 

Oh, I will admit...I would have done almost anything to stop the pain in those first few months, but chose not to go the drug route.  First of all, I'm just way too pissed off thinking that medication was a good part of the reason for Mike's death.  But it's more than that. 

When do you come off the medication?  And what happens when you do?  Not all doctors will monitor their patients.  Mike's doctor never monitored him.  I don't have a lot of faith.  Is it possible that, once medicated, you won't really be able to grieve?  Grief is supposed to be felt.  It is supposed to cut you to the core.  And then, you are supposed to move into this new life, like it or not.  How does that happen if you are medicated?  Do you get to grieve later, when all of the support you had at the beginning wants you to "get over it?"

I will tell you...I did think I was going insane back then.  And I drank wine.  Is that better than the medication?  Well, at least it was red.  I hear there are health benefits to that.    

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In a New England Winter

I woke up early Monday morning to the realization that we had no heat.  Two things went through my mind..."good, I saved some money" and "shit, how much is this going to cost me?"  Yeah, I know.

Anyways, after making sure I still had fuel, I realized that the batteries in the thermostat were on the weak side.  Luckily, I had some or the television remote would have been idled for the morning.

So, I solved a little problem on my own.  Shouldn't I feel proud?

On Tuesday, we had some snow followed by rain.  On the way to work, I realized that my windshield washer fluid was almost empty.  I realized that I had some in the trunk of my car, so I raised the hood of my car and dumped it in when I got to work.

So, I solved a little problem on my own.  Shouldn't I feel proud?

Yeah.  No.  What usually happens when this kind of stuff pops up, is I flip my middle finger to the sky and, in a few choice words, tell Mike what I think of him for leaving this crap for me.  Yeah, I know.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

God Never Gives You More Than You Can Handle

What a load of crap.  No...really.

I see those words a lot on social websites.  But, honestly...if that were 100% true, we wouldn't have kids who kill themselves because they were bullied and people wouldn't be starving to death in Third World Countries (and maybe in our own country too).

For me, a better explanation is this:  Sometimes, life just throws you a huge bomb and you get propelled into another life.  Perhaps it's the life that you really are supposed to live.  If God is your thing, your love for Him (and His for you) may carry you through into that next life.  But to say that God never gives you more than you can handle, implies (for me) that God decided to strike him dead at my expense. 

I still struggle with the God thing.  Can ya tell?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Looking Back

When I think back over the last couple of years, I am quite amazed at how it is possible to go from total devastation to contentment - and even happiness.  In the beginning, I was painfully aware that I was a widow.  Now, I tend to remember most when I look down at the wedding ring (yes I still wear it, but that's another story) or have to put my status down on some paperwork (and I just don't get why they need to know).

So, here are a few things I've learned:

  • Family is priceless (I've always known this, but it has really been driven home since Mike died).
  • Aging gracefully is an oxymoron (and if you don't believe this, I will introduce you to mom).
  • It's ok to find humor in death (we're all out of here at some point, so get over it).
  • Getting a puppy after the death of a spouse may not be such a good idea.
  • Getting a puppy after the death of a spouse will help you feel loved again (hahahaha).
  • Hiring a handyman is the next best thing to having one.
  • It's ok to cry, even months and years later.  That being said,
  • It's ok to laugh more.
  • Mini vacations with friends will make you feel like a million bucks.
  • A journal and a good pen can help you see where you've been and where you're going.
  • Everyone should have a bucket (at first it was filled with wine, then it was filled with friends.  Friends is better)
  • You are never too old to dance (no really....I'll introduce you to mom).
  • Sing!  It's good for the soul.  Finding someone to sing with you...priceless.
  • Dating again can be a little scary.  Dating again can be pretty amazing.
  • Giving yourself permission to grieve, laugh, cry, love, sing, & dance is perfectly ok.