Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joe wanted a motorcycle for a long time. I always was against it. He talked about it a lot at different times in our dating and married relationship. When we were dating I had told him that if he quit smoking cigarettes, I wouldn't mind if he got a motorcycle. The deal was one year from his quit date he could get a bike. In my mind there was way more chance of him dying from smoking than dying on a bike. That was my reasoning. We shook on it.

Years later after two children and years more smoking, he was on the bike kick again. I just rolled my eyes every time but he really was not giving up this time and our motorcycle discussions went on for months. At some point he had remembered our old agreement. He asked me if I'd still honor it and I said yes. I wasn't really happy about it, but, we had shaken on it way back when. And, I still thought, he had way more of a chance of dying from smoking butts than from riding a Harley.

I was wrong.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I am facing some big decisions in my life right now. Huge choices, that have a direct impact on the future of my children and myself. Choices that are difficult and could cause me extreme pain in the short term, and possibly the long term. It would not be appropriate for me to give specific details. But I am deep in thought about this.

I am thinking about what my actions teach my children. I am thinking about what would be best for the three of us. I am weighing all of this with the knowledge the world is not a fair place and is full of unpredictability.

All of this causes me to go inward. Because regardless of all the love I have from family and friends, I walk alone. Truly, I do walk alone. No one else lives in my house. No one else looks at my children's faces every day and will live their lives with them. It is me with that privilege, and I hold it high.

Since I was a teenager facing difficult decisions, and sometimes not difficult ones, I have heard a voice in my head that whispers a phrase to me. We all face choices: Take the easy way out or take a route that's more difficult or painful? Life is full of these. Today when I was thinking about all of this out of nowhere I heard the phrase again, it is:

No guts, No glory.

This time there is no glory really, but the phrase still has meaning for me. It says "don't back down and be true to yourself". It says "take the risk and hope for the best". It reminds me that this is life, and true, meaningful things in life are not acheived by always taking the safe route. It reminds me that when my children are standing at a crossroads, and they don't know what to do, I want them to remember the phrase, "No guts, no glory".

No matter what happens, my children and I still have each other. And I am going to focus on that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of Second

Today went okay.

Yesterday however, not okay. I pretty much woke up with just an awful feeling (sometimes that happens, especially on Sundays when I wake up in my own house) and the whole day I was putting off thinking through Luke starting second grade. I cleaned my basement and worked on my lawn after not having a working lawn mower (rider or push---I killed them both) for at least 3 weeks. I have a pretty big yard to take care of and if the grass doesn't get cut regularly then I have to rake it which is a pain in the butt. So anyway, between the basement and the grass, I kept pretty busy, til 6:30pm.....but really what I was doing was trying not to face what I needed to face.

So then I put the kids to bed at eight and walked into the living room and sat down. BIG MISTAKE. The tears just kept coming and coming. I sat pretty quietly for a long time staring into space and the tears just kept running down my face. The whole thing is sad. What can I do? It's just the way it is. And I hate it.

Today however, I felt okay. I might even say I felt "fine". When I took Luke to school I was not on the verge of anything...just regular mommy dropping of her son at second grade types of feelings. Last year it was a true test of self-control to leave that building without letting Luke see me upset. This year was different. But I still hated it.

So school has begun.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My first moment of true happiness

I've done a lot of really great things in the past year. Fun things that truly are a privilege to be able to do, along with my everyday life which is pretty great in itself. Of course that's apart from this massive gaping hole of losing my love and best friend. But in all of the fun things there was never one instant where I did not feel in the back of my mind a emptiness....a twinge of sadness. It's been with me all along.

Last weekend I had what I would say were the very first minutes of pure happiness where there was nothing but the moment. This story may seem totally crazy or silly or not funny at all, but I am not questioning it...I am just documenting it....and being thankful for it.

It happened like this....I was outside at camp last Saturday night and it was around 12:30am. There were about 6 people there, hanging out, talking and trying to revive a camp fire that was suffocating in wet wood. Sometimes when the fire is not burning well at camp someone will start the leaf blower and get some air into it to get it going. This is common practice there. So Jeff (Chalifour) mentions that we should get the leaf blower going and I tell him "no way....that's too loud, it will wake up Carl and Sandra". So he's totally fine with that. Then a few minutes later he looks at me and says "Well how about we get it going in Steph and Chris's bedroom then?" (that is my sister and brother-in-law who have a camp next to where we were having a fire) and I say "OKAY!". We all talked about it for a little while and laughed about how funny it would be and for some reason I was searching for permission from Keith on the matter. For the record, he did not give it.

Flash forward about twenty minutes when somehow Jeff's plan was becoming reality as we tip-toed through the woods and into the camp where there were at least 8 people sleeping. We were all inadvertently letting out small audible laughs that really we were trying hard to contain....because we had to be quiet. I for one had my hand cupped across my mouth like my 4-year-old daughter does when she is trying not to laugh. Jeff was in front of me and it was dark....I saw him open the bedroom door and pull the rope-start thingy on the leaf blower and the thing roared. Then we all left. We laughed hysterically and walked back to the fire to hash and rehash the event.

We got "in trouble" a few minutes later. Which actually made it a little funnier, if that's even possible.

So that was my moment of happiness. Like I said, it seems crazy and juvenile and I am sure nowhere near as funny in writing as it was in person late at night after a few cocktails. But honestly, it was priceless. I have not laughed that hard in over a year. There is something about starting a leaf blower in someone's bedroom when they are sleeping that is really funny to me. Every time I have thought about it in the past week I have laughed or smiled. That's funny stuff.

(As an aside for those of you thinking "poor Steph and Chris".....don't worry about them....they were over it fast. And trust me, I am sure there will be retaliation. Not on me of course, because I sleep in a room with my two angelic children so I am protected, and of course none of it was my idea. I feel bad for you. You better sleep with one eye open.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Yes, school is starting.

It started last year too for Luke, without Joe. So this will be the second time around, but it doesn't seem any less sad. Maybe slightly easier in the sense that I am not worried about him being at school and not being able to see how he is doing 24/7 (which I was very worried about last year), but no less sad.

Alyssa is starting pre-school this year. That bothers me more. I think that Alyssa is completely ready for school and I have no worries about how she will do and I know that she will love it. I more have a hard time thinking about the parent night that I will go to alone; looking at her standing on the step outside so I can take her picture as she goes off for her first day; those are the things that are hurting. It's not like I need anyone to be with me for these events, it's that I need Joe to be with me for these events. He should be here. She is his little girl.

Then there is the question of what I will do for the 2 1/2 hours while she is at school, when I am by myself. I still really am not completely okay with being home alone, though my puppy helps me with that. My first reaction about thinking what I will do while Alyssa is at school is "well, I won't go home". And if I do that for a while I guess that's ok. My plan at this point is to go somewhere and walk, walk, walk for a couple hours until I pick her up.

I think about what it would be like if Joe was here, how different it would be that our daughter is going to school. I am sure I would be elated with the whole idea of having time to myself. I would be counting the months til I would be going back to work and preparing for that. I would be looking forward to being able to be in Luke's classroom more volunteering for a few hours while Alyssa is at school. None of that seems to feel happy or exciting to me anymore. It's all still do-able and will happen, it's just, without him to share my happiness with, it seems overshadowed by the loss of him.

The four of us were supposed to go through life together. I feel like my family is broken.

Friday, August 15, 2008


The background:
The kids and I were sitting on my bed, "hanging out" and Luke asked me "What's the saddest day of the year?" and Alyssa immediately said "when daddy died" because whenever she hears the word "sad" she thinks of her daddy. There was a little banter after that and then Luke said, "I know what it's when Auntie Kim and Jesse leave". After a minute I said "the saddest time of the year for me are the days around when daddy died" and then I went on about that for a little while.

So that background gets me to the reason why I am writing....the conversation that followed was totally surprising to me and it gave me a little bit of insight into Luke, who rarely mentions how he feels about what happened with Joe.

Luke looked at me and said "Is that guy in Jail?" and I was surprised to hear him say that because I have never heard my son use the word "jail" in any sort of context that made sense. I honestly did not know he even know what jail really is. I told him, no, but some people think that he should be. Then he said "I think that he should be". I asked him why he thought that and he said he just thought he should for what he did to daddy. Then he went on to ask me where he is now, where he works (I gave him no specifics), what he looks like, how old he is, etc. Then he told me that if he ever comes here (to our house) that he's going to punch him in the face. I have never heard Luke say anything like that, ever. Anyone who knows Luke knows he is very mild-mannered, sweet and would never hurt anyone and would feel terrible if he did. He went on....

He said all of this stuff with a small smile on his face and I could not tell if he was just being age 7 and "experimenting" with the idea of hurting someone and what it would be like, or if he really is angry at this guy and wants to hurt him. He said he wanted to throw a trash can at his head. He said he wanted to throw him in the pond, throw a tree on his face. He looked at me and asked me "mommy what could I do to him that would really hurt him?". Alyssa was on the bed listening to him too and then she asked "Luke are you really going to do that stuff?" and I said "No, he isn't" and Luke said "When I'm big I probably will. When I'm 18."

The conversation lasted about 10 minutes which is a long time for Luke to stay on the topic. I told him many times during it that the guy didn't mean to do what he did. That he made a terrible mistake. That I was mad too and I don't like him either. I told him that the guy feels so sorry for what he did and that he would do anything to go back and change it (I don't know that to be true at all, I just cannot deal with the thought of my kids thinking that the guy isn't sorry, so that's what I tell them. For some reason I have this feeling that I want them to trust that people in general are good....and not have in their young minds know yet the cruel nature of the world). I told Luke that no matter what we do to the guy or how much we hurt him, it would not bring daddy back. Luke said he knew that, but he still wanted to hurt him.

Then I asked him, "Luke, what if the guy said to you: 'I am so sorry Luke about what I did to your daddy. I am so sorry and I think about it every day and I'd do anything to change it. I wish it didn't happen and I made a terrible mistake. I am so sorry for you and your sister'". I asked Luke, if the guy said that to you, would you still want to hurt him? and he thought about it for a little bit and I could tell he was going back and forth in his mind.... and then he said:


There's a lot I've left out but that was the general tone of the conversation. My poor son, he remembers so much which is a blessing and a pain. He and Joe were very close and I can't believe he is growing up without him. It's not right. At least he is expressing something. I want to respect his feelings and let him talk and not tell him he should feel differently, but it's a strange situation for me as his mother. I would not allow him to say that he wants to throw a trash can at anyone else's face, as his mother I would tell him that is wrong. And it is interesting for me to hear his reaction and feelings towards the guy and how he wants to express what he is feeling (in other words, that he's mad so he wants to physically hurt him). I try to figure out how much of it is his real feelings and how much is that "hey, mom is not telling me to stop and this is fun to say these things that I am usually not allowed to say". I don't know if I am making sense. But I wanted to remember this conversation so that's why I wrote it down.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Year Later

On July 25, 2008 I spent most of the morning doing errands for my upcoming weekend at camp. Grocery store, liquor store, pet store, etc. I felt like I was just walking in a fog, trying desperately not to think about exactly what I was doing last year at the same moment. It's weird to relive the last moments of your "real life as you know it" on the same date a year later.

I went home in the afternoon and did my hair and put on a black dress. I don't even know why, and I didn't know why at the time, but that is what felt right. Then I went to the cemetery and sat on the ground and told my husband how much I love him; how much I miss him; how I can't believe what happened still. I thanked him for everything he gave me. I told him I was sorry....for just............everything.

Then I left and went to Vermont.

When I wake up these days, part of me feels a little comforted that I have done this date before, and this time is definitely better than the last. Today is August 14 and it was -okay-. Last year August 14 was a nightmare I am sure. Though I can't be sure because I don't remember much of anything from the first weeks and months after the accident. It was all pure craziness. I would just sit and try to make sense of the jumble of things in my head. I tried to smile when I looked at my kids. I remember desperately wanting to reassure them that I was okay and we were okay and things would be okay. I was so afraid of what losing their father would do to them.

It is a relief that July 25, 2008 is over. But it is also so sad. A whole year without him. One minute I feel like it was just yesterday that I saw him. The next minute it feels like it's been a lifetime. A year. The worst year of my life, by far. I hope I never have another one like it.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Head in the Clouds

I'm pretty good at keeping my head in the clouds. That may come as a surprise to readers who don't know me personally or those of you who do not see me often. The stuff on this blog is very personal and in general I don't actually talk about it....and in general you would not know what goes through my head most of the time. Unless you read about it here.

I can be smiling from ear to ear on the outside and on the inside feel myself breaking into little bitty tiny pieces. Honestly, you can't trust my smile. Even after a year.

It's not like I am trying to be deceptive, or be something I am not. I just kind of go with the flow. I GO and I DO because the other alternative is to curl up on the floor and take no responsibility for myself or my children. That's not an option for me. You may not be able to assess my true emotions or gauge how I am doing- truthfully- but you can know that I am doing my best and trying to just go. go. do. do. do. do. Not to be deceptive or for any other reason than sometimes in life you just have to go on, in hopes that some day everything will be right again.

So back to my original statement that I am good at keeping my head in the clouds. I said that because I just got back from a week away in which I kept busy and had fun and basically went through the motions of living. Then I came back to my house, which after a week away is a whole project in itself....the laundry needs to be done, everything unpacked, get groceries, the grass needs to be cut, the bills taken care of, on and on. I have a list a mile long of things I am supposed to catch up on. Not to mention I have two kids that need me. But even then, all day today until 2 o'clock I was so busy that I would still consider my head in the clouds.

Then I left the kids with their babysitter and I did an errand that brought me back to this earth. The constant chatter in my head was stopped and there was silence and deep sadness filled every space in me again.

A week and a half ago I sent paperwork to the police department requesting a copy of the case against the owner of the company where the accident took place that killed my husband. Basically the police wanted this woman brought up on charges for obstruction of justice. According to the passenger of the truck that turned in front of Joe, soon after Joe died in the road, the company owner (and passenger's boss) told him and the driver to lie to police about what happened that night. The passenger came forward to the police the next day because he was so sick the night before about originally lying in his statements of what happened. The police had him call his boss and they recorded the phone conversation. In the conversation the passenger said that he received a call from the police asking that he come down for a second interview and that he was wondering if everything was the same as before. She told him that "everything is the same and everyone is to stick to the original story". There are a lot of details that I just basically don't have the heart to go into here, not because they are private but honestly because I just have a hard time with this whole topic. It leaves me feeling so defeated and disgusted and angry because-

The man that I loved died on the pavement in a horrific accident and this undescribably sad event was surrounded not by sorrow and thoughts of the tragedy that occurred, but by people who were thinking about themselves and basically about money. Several people at the scene heard the owner talk about the financial cost of what happened. How can his be?

As the life of this man that I adored slipped away, I was leaving him a message on the answering machine at home, telling him I was running late but I'd be there soon. His children were on a boat ride 3 hours away. Our life was intact. But he was dying. Without us. You may never ponder what it might be like to have a loved one die suddenly, or how that might make you feel, but I can tell you that it is a human reaction to have the people around him respecting the life which is being taken. Because at this sacred moment- when you cannot be there- you desperately want the people who are there to recognize what is be human. Some people there did care. I know that. Most people there were human and had trouble sleeping for weeks about what they saw. And some people thought about themselves. And how they could get out of trouble. It makes my heart ache at the deepest levels that my husband died under those circumstances.

I took the report from the police station and sat in the parking lot and read it. I read the whole thing and then quickly put it on the seat beside me and put the truck in reverse. Then somethings stopped me, my hand stopped and my head went down and there was silence for a few seconds.....and then I burst into tears. I could not believe what I had just read. The crass nature of that woman makes my skin crawl. How could this person be so blatantly disrespectful to the life of my husband? So blatantly disrespectful to the people who love him? I don't understand.

My husband was a good man. He deserves better.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Saving Us

I had this funny memory today as I was looking at the books on my bookshelf. There was one that was pulled out a little (the kids must have been rifling through there) and I hadn't seen it in a couple years. It is a book called "Relationship Rescue". I bought it at a time when Joe and I were kind of having problems....nothing huge just a lot of bickering and not in sync with each other.

So I bought the book and brought it home and I cracked it open one night and Joe walked into the room. I am sure I caught his eye because in those days I rarely read books so it must have been strange for him to see me with one in my hands.

He looked at me and scrunched up his face as he looked at the cover and he said "WHAT are you reading??!" and I got this huge smile across my face and I waved the book high and I said:

"I'm savin us baby! I'M SAVIN US!!!"

We both laughed hysterically and I literally put the book down and never opened it again.

It's funny and sounds kind of silly but I do believe that me buying that book-and him asking me about it- helped us to get through that little patch. Sometimes just the act of seeing someone making an effort is enough, and the fact that we could both see our relationship for what it was at that time- rocky- and still laugh about it made us both feel good. Both of us knew we were committed to each other and staying together, but we also knew that the reality of day to day living could get tough at times.

I miss him a lot in many ways. But lately I have been missing that deep connected feeling that we had. I knew he was always going to take care of me. Not in terms of money or material things, but he was going to take care of me. And I was going to take care of him. And in an instant, that was gone.