Monday, September 29, 2008

"Do you want people to bring up Joe's name and stories and things to the kids? At any given time? What if it feels like it would be more painful for the kids to bring it all up? When is a good time to talk about their dad? Is it painful for you or inappropriate?"

The question above is from the comments from a few weeks ago.


I guess I can only speak for my own family of 3, but I feel the whole "don't talk about it because you will upset them" is a big myth. I don't think that any of the three of us have ever broken down when someone told us a story about Joe. But, honestly, it happens pretty rarely. Most people do not talk about Joe around us. In fact, when I bring up a story about him I often get a reaction like "wait a this okay that she's talking about him??" and it makes some people visibly uncomfortable.

Let me just interject here that I am not judging anyone for their behavior. I understand that most people have not been in our shoes. I know that I would not know what to do either if I were on the other side. But since I am not, I will tell you exactly the truth of how I feel and what you should do around us.

It seems that it is a widespread belief that if you talk about the person you will upset the family. I guess this could be the case in some families, I am sure it is. But not in our's. It is exactly 100% the opposite. We talk about Joe all the time. I purposely remind my kids of stories and little things that daddy did or said or anything, just anything, to keep his presence with us. Most of the time, we have smiles on our faces when we talk about him. I don't want any of the three of us to forget him. I already feel like I have forgotten some stuff and that makes me sad.

What would you want if the unthinkable were to happen to you in an untimely and sudden manner? Would you want everyone to just stop talking about you? Remembering you? Or would you want people to keep your memory alive, especially with your children? Those questions solidify in my mind that talking about Joe is the exact right thing to do in our family. You have to remember that the stories that a lot of you have, are the stories that my children will learn who their father was from. In fact, I would be very appreciative if you would write those stories down and send them to me (or email) so that I can keep them or my kids. Funny things that Joe did, nice things that he did, even bad things that he did....these are all ways in which my kids can know who their father was 10, 20 , 30, 40, 50 years from now. They don't have to be long. They can just be a few sentences, just anything that sticks in your mind about him. It would be a gift that Luke and Alyssa would treasure in years to come.

All of that being said, there is one big condition that this rests on. That is that YOU must be strong when you talk about Joe. YOU must be able to talk about him and give the impression to my children that "hey we can all still talk about daddy and be happy when we are doing it". If you can't do that then right now would not be the best time to be talking about him. Trust me, my kids see plenty of my tears and they know that what happened is a sad, sad thing. But they need to know that the world goes on, and that things can be okay still and one way to convey that is for people to talk about their dad without being upset. If you think you can do it and you end up getting upset unexpectedly, don't worry. We'll just muddle through it. My kids will be okay. Just do your best when you feel you are ready and have something to say.

So when you are ready to talk, we are ready to listen. Ready and waiting. It doesn't have to be forced. If you are with us and a memory pops into your mind about him....say it out loud. That is what I do. "I remember when daddy....". Just say his name...let us hear that you think about him too.

The other day Alyssa was talking to me about something regarding the kids at school. She said to me matter-of-factly (this was not a sad conversation) "...but I don't have a daddy". I stopped her as I always do when this general topic comes up with Luke and Alyssa, and I told her "Alyssa, you have a daddy, he's just not here with us". I don't want her to forget that. We all need to remind her and let her know, she has a daddy.

Friday, September 26, 2008


This is to my sisters......who are worried about me:

I can't tell you, "don't worry", I can't tell you "everything is okay" but I can tell you:

"I know I will get through this. It's just going to take me a while. But don't worry too much because.......I have not lost hope."

It is hard for all of us....and I know we are on your minds. But right now I am just getting by and trying to take care of my kids and trying to deal with my own head. Be patient with me please.

I love you all too.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Some days, like yesterday, I feel like I am on a different planet. Like, I am physically here but my mind is a million miles away.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Okay, well, one day at a time I guess. Someone asked me in the comments how I am today. I'll start with that.....

Today I am actually pretty good. I had 2 cords of firewood delivered yesterday and I spent the morning moving wood and stacking it. I guess that kept me busy and I like a project. However, I had a thought keep going through my mind that kept the dark cloud over my head, something I am having trouble escaping these days.

I was thinking how I've been stacking wood for years at this house. I have always been the "chief woodstacker". I like doing it but even more than that I liked taking it off Joe's plate of what he'd have to do on his weekends off. He fully expected that he would stack the wood but I would try to get it done while the kids were napping or try to keep them contained outside so I could do it myself. Every day he would come home and say "Huuuuuun, you didn't have to do that!" and he would tell me how he couldn't believe how I got so much of it done.

I am writing this for two reasons. One is because I want to remember how appreciative he acted towards me about stuff. I never want to forget that quality in him that I loved so much. He could have been playing me like a fiddle, knowing that the more he praised the more I would do, but I don't care. The other reason is that although I want to remember that quality forever, it hurt today to know that he isn't coming home. Turns out stacking wood is a lot less fun when you're doing it only to get ready for winter.

The rest of my day was fine. Alyssa and I went to Lowes and got supplies for staining and some more wood racks. She helped me put one of them together outside. By then Luke was home and it was homework and dinner and Jack and bed.

Today was not a bad day. I smiled and even laughed hard a few times. Mostly at myself because believe it or not, I think I am really funny sometimes. Laughter.....what a gift.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Almost 14 months later it becomes apparent to me that I need to see a "regular" counselor.

Last winter/fall I went to a Grief Counselor a few times and then I did the 12-week GriefShare group session in the Winter/Spring. When I say "regular" counselor I mean someone to talk to about everything in my life, not just so focused on the loss of my husband. Obviously when Joe died I was not perfect....and one thing I loved about Joe is that he let me talk, talk, talk and he would listen to me. That helped me to work through things. I don't have that anymore. One thing that is different for a widow is that (at least in my case) not only do you lose your mate, husband, father of your children, financial security, the guy that mows your lawn and puts your air conditioners in; you also lose your best friend- the person that (at least in my case) you can talk daily to about any stupid arbitrary thing in the world and they will at least listen and you don't have to feel guilty for bugging them. I'm not saying that Joe was hanging on my every word....and in fact there were many, many times when I would literally lay half on top of him with my face right near his face talking, talking, talking and if he looked like he wasn't listening I would say "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!" and he'd say "YES!" and I would laugh and try to convince him that what I was saying-no matter what it was- was really important. He never rolled his eyes or told me to go away. He would always try to act like it was important....but truthfully what was important was not what I was talking about but that I was there and he was there and we were both focused in some way on each other. That's gone.

So I feel like I need to have someone ask me questions....and listen to me and follow up with more questions...about how I am doing and how I am feeling about stuff. It's hard for me to turn this stuff on and off while my kids are running around so I don't feel in the right frame of mind when family and friends call me on the phone. Which brings me to another point which is that if anyone has questions for can use the comment section on the blog or email me. I do find it helpful to write about stuff. At this point I would welcome anything. In the meantime I'll start searching around for a good counselor. Something's not right with me. Yeah, I guess that's an understatement.

Monday, September 8, 2008

You should have gone

Yes, I am not doing so great lately. I think it's a combination of things but I am not really sure what's up with me. Just not feeling good.

On another happy note:

I had a conversation with Luke recently that pretty much had me between wanting to burst into tears and scream at him at the top of my lungs. I didn't do either of those things.

We were riding in the car, talking about why we don't go "the short way" to our usual destinations any more. He knows that his daddy died somewhere on that road ("the short way" road) and knows the general vicinity of where it happened. At this point he finally asked to go down there. I am just not sure about that. I know Luke, and I know that seeing the actual place will cause him to ask me many, many more questions. Some I am not yet sure how to answer and some I am not sure I want to answer.

So anyway, Luke started to question me (again) about the events that took place that day. This time he was particularly focused on the fact that Joe went to Hannaford after work. He kept saying the same phrases to me over and over and they were:

"Mommy YOU should have gone to Hannaford. Then you would have gotten in the accident but you wouldn't have died because you would have been in your car".

"Mommy YOU should have gone to Hannaford. Daddy NEVER went to the grocery store, but he went that day. Why didn't YOU go? You should have gone mommy".

"It should have been opposite mommy."

"WHY did Daddy go to Hannaford? He NEVER went to Hannaford and he had to go that day?"

And the one he kept going back to, that he said many, many times to me and which I did not respond to many of the times he said it:

"You should have gone Mommy. You should have gone".

Over and over he said these things to me. It was like he was just realizing a way that the accident didn't have to happen. I explained to him that I thought about those same things too, but it was daddy that wanted to go to Hannaford that night and there are lots of ways in which the accident would not have happened...if it had been raining that day he would have taken his truck; if there had been another person in line in the grocery store in front of him it wouldn't have happened; if he took a few seconds longer or shorter to leave the parking lot, etc etc. There are so many things that could have changed it and I explained to Luke that it is awful to think about all those things and we just have to deal with the fact that it did happen.

This conversation with Luke was one of the most awful conversations I have ever had. I felt so many emotions. I know my son and I know that he was just voicing out loud the thoughts in his head of how the accident could have been avoided. I know he wants no harm to come to me and that he loves me. It did hurt though. Tremendously. Partly because it was my son saying these things and partly because I have thought about those things over and over myself. But there are a million what-ifs. So we deal with what is.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coming and Going

Some things are still particularly hard for me to deal with for reasons that I don't really understand. One is my whole "camp" lifestyle in the summer. I love to be there and it has gotten easier over the course of the summer, but packing and leaving my house alone with the kids is really hard. And coming home to an empty house is particularly hard too. I know, I come home to an empty house all the time, every day that I leave to go somewhere, I come home to an empty house. So it's weird. But there is something about a Sunday night....getting home, unloading the car, gearing up for the week ahead that is so painfully sad when I do it alone.

When I go to camp, especially for more than a weekend, it takes me a lot of deep breaths to get into the car and leave my house. And I find myself deep in thought for a long time into the drive, trying to get my head on straight. Who knows when all of this will end.

I often have flashbacks of things surrounding the accident....Images that just pop into my head out of nowhere. Lately the flashbacks have been of two is seeing Joe's bike laying on the road when I drove home that day. The other is my hysterical voice on the phone with my mother after the hospital called. What an unbelievably awful, life-altering moment that was in all of ours lives....the call.

I still can't believe that this happened in my life. Sometimes I think, well my God, the worst has happened, I already got the call that most people dread, I've heard the words from a doctor that are so unimaginably awful that there is nothing that could hurt me more. But then my mind goes to my children and other people that I love, and I feel scared of it happening again.