Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I miss Joe so much.

Every once in a while out of nowhere I get this feeling that falls over me and I have a memory of him...something crazily specific. Like I could be doing something, anything, completely not thinking about him at all and this "thing" will wash through my mind. I am always kind of surprised when it happens because the memories are so random and so vivid. I wouldn't even describe them as "memories" because there is such an intense feeling of reliving the moment associated with them. There is one that I've had a couple times that happened a few weeks before he died. We were in Montreal, sitting at an outdoor table having some drinks. I can remember the weather, how it felt to sit in that seat, to be across from him. There is nothing special that he said or I said, it's just the feeling of being there.

I miss him terribly. Aside from the grief and the anger and how I feel and how the kids feel and how they are doing and all the things that must be done in his absense, aside from everything that wraps it all up in a ball of complexity, I just miss him.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I would like to thank the people who emailed me and to my cousin Cindy for commenting on my questions a couple posts ago. Because of the responses I actually understand now what people are saying to me, and I understand why I could not make sense of it.

To me, those words "courageous", "inspirational", etc siginified someone who's life was going right. Someone who was living in a fulfilling manner. Someone who "has it together". The disconnect came from the fact that I do not feel those things most moments of each day. I felt like, "do people think I am something that I am not? Do they think that I am okay, moving on, living happily? Am I misleading people by the way I am acting?"

But what I have learned from you is that YOU KNOW I am not completely okay, that I am doing my best, and that's okay. It's enough. And the common thread through what people said to me is that I did not "give up" and that's why you find my behavior courageous, though each person defined what giving up means a little differently.

The idea of giving up was never a real option for me. Trust me, there were/are many times when I've just had it, like I am DONE with everything but never have I ever seriously entertained the thought of staying in bed all day or just not caring about anything anymore. Some people have said to me/say to me that it is because of my kids that I am able to go on. I have never thought that to be true. Obviously yes, I love my kids more than anything but the idea that they in some way make this whole thing EASIER is just insane to me. That is a concept that I cannot relate to, and one I've never heard from any of the other young widows that I know. There are times, yes, that my kids make me laugh or moments of joy,etc, but for every one of those times there are 10 other times where my heart breaks for them; times when I am grieving myself and feel like I don't have the energy to be who I want to be for them; times when I struggle just to get the logistics together of what needs to be done as a single mother of 2. I would not say that my kids make it easier, though I would not have it any other way. I do not believe that giving up has anything to do with the presence of, or lack of, children.

I know that the reason that I did not "give up" is because of something that is very simple and basic. It is because I know and feel that I was a whole person before I ever met Joe. Trust me, I had to reach deep for who that was early on after Joe died, but I knew that "I" was in there under the layers of "mother", "wife", "partner", "dish-washer", "laundry-doer", "errand-runner", "chauffeur", etc. I know and feel that I was given a gift --of life-- by my parents and by God and I feel that "giving up" would be squandering something precious, something I am not willing to squander. Losing my friend Jennifer 11 years ago was my lesson at how precious and unpredictable life can be. Losing Joe was a devastating confirmation of that lesson. It makes me know that we are lucky to be living; lucky to have another day; lucky to have hope for a better future, whatever that may be. It is a privilege that others would give anything for. I don't want to waste that privilege, even if it seems like some days everything is awful and the world is a rotten place. I think of my husband and others that would give anything to see the faces one more time of the people they love. And then I step back and look at the love that I have from my family and friends that care about me. Then I make the choice to focus on and be grateful for the gifts that I have been given and what I still have. If I didn't do that, I would be consumed by the sadness of what has been taken away. It does not come naturally. It's a conscious choice. Sometimes it feels like work. But for me, it is the only way.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This woodstove is in my kitchen.

I spent hours sitting in that chair last winter. After I put my kids to bed the house was so quiet. I sat there and cried some nights hours and hours and hours, wondering what was happening to my life. Trying to deal with confusion that seemed overwhelming and too much to bear at times. Thinking about my husband, missing him in a way that encompassed so many emotions. When I wasn't crying I was off in another world. If you saw me you would see someone who seemed mentally absent. In shock. Even months later I still think my head was stinging from the shock of it all. My God, how could he be my husband one day and then just disappear? Gone? Without a word. Without me with him. How could I have seen my husband with no life in his body. How? How can he not be walking through the door again? How can all of the plans we made be meaningless? How do I deal with the fact that I will never see his face again? That I will never hear his voice? That he is no longer with me?
I remember one night feeling really true deep pain and mental anguish. It was a friday night, I remember because for a long time Friday nights were hard for me because that was our "special" night. The silence in my house was piercing that night. I laid down on the floor in the kitchen and prayed for someone to walk through the door and take my pain away. That thought is so out of the realm of normal for me. I knew that it was not rational, not possible, not happening. That was a terrible, dark, lonely night. There were a bunch of those.
I am writing this post because I have no idea what it means to "move on", "move forward", "get better", "deal with it", "get over", "make peace with" etc. There is no gauge to tell me if I am getting better or dealing with things and the pain is still deep and sharp and intensely sad. But I know that I don't sit for hours in that chair anymore. And although I do sit there, my thoughts are more of "what am I going to do now?" (in itself an overwhelming question), and less of the reflection of the hurtful past and the events that unfolded. There really is no sense in what happened. It took me a long time just to figure that out. No answers to the questions, no gain for going through the details. It just happened.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I hope this isn't taken the wrong way and I don't intend to come across as unappreciative because I feel very appreciative for any and ALL positive energy sent my way.

My sister Stephanie wrote a really nice post about me on her blog. I am commenting on it here because I have been meaning to bring this topic up on LEFT.

It is basically this.....I do see the comments on this blog and I receive emails from people, some friends and some strangers....that use words like "brave", "courageous", "inspirational" etc when describing me. Although I truly appeciate these compliments because more than anything else they make me feel **loved** and **cared about** in some way that I can not describe but seems like a valid positive force in my life, I do not feel "inspirational" ever and my moments of bravery and courageousness seem few and far between and almost always private. I just don't connect myself with any of those words and I don't understand why people say them to me. I wish I could understand that better so if anyone could tell me why I represent those qualities to them it may help. Next time you email me or comment, add a "because" at the end of your compliment. I feel rude for even asking that.

The other thing that I don't understand is that idea that I am helping others in their grief about Joe. That's another disconnect for me. Can someone explain this? You don't have to post a comment if you don't want to, you could email me (there is a link to an email address for me if you go to the Chalifour blog, then click on my complete profile.)

It feels weird to me even asking these questions because I feel like with such nice things being said to me I should already know these answers. Maybe it will all come to me some day. Maybe 10 years from now it will seem clear, I don't know.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bunch of random stuff

My sister Kim sent me an email mid-December which I never responded to. It asked me how I was feeling this Christmas season.

I think I was kind of waiting for the christmas mood to hit me so that I could have a positive reply but it didn't happen that way.

Logic might say that this year the holidays might be easier than the last. But that's not the way it turned out. For many reasons, I was feeling very sad inside and the stark contrast of two happy, excited, jubilant children left me feeling guilty on top of it all. Right around Christmas day I had the recurring heart-wrenching question go through my head of whether or not I would EVER feel happy again at Christmas. It does not seem possible right now.

And the changing of the year, that's a strange thing that maybe other widows might understand. Last year I could never face the actual events; for example I went to bed before midnight so I didn't have to see the clock strike midnight. Last year all I could think about was "getting through" the new year in which I knew my husband would never take a breath. It's really all I could see.

This year I was up at midnight, but again, there was really no happiness involved in the event that year after year I rang in with gusto and (lots of times) a crowd. I have different feelings about this year though, I don't want it to be just getting by anymore. I have spent so long in limbo and I just want to see a future again. It is complex because I don't even know what I want it to look like beyond very broad terms. But I know that limbo is not as close as I can get to contentment anymore. And I know that the future involves me letting go of painful things and situations that are better left in the past.

On New Year's eve my kids and I sat around the kitchen island and I explained to them about New Year's resolutions. We must have made 50 resolutions between the three of us, followed by a toast. My kids are expert "toasters" and almost every time the three of us go out to eat alone we start our meal with a toast. I always like to hear what they come up with. I don't think we have ever gone one time without one of the first toasts being "to daddy" followed by 3 clinks and a sip.

I am not usually a big New Year's Resolution maker but I have been thinking a lot recently about what kind of mother I am right now to my kids. It is so weird to me because 90% of the time I feel like the worst mother ever....not giving my kids enough of my time...choosing my own household chores instead of playing with them....not having enough PATIENCE with them (a big downfall of mine).....expecting too much of them in terms of what they should/should not be able to do, etc etc and yet I get emails and comments from people about "what a great mother" I am. Every time I read that I feel like a big phoney and I think "yeah right". These thoughts are combined with the stark realization that my chidren are getting to be "regular kids" now and not little little kids and time is moving by that I will not get back. That is scarey.

My personality is that of a planner. I am always planning, preparing, organizing something. I am proud that I am that way in many regards. It is why we had life insurance, and why we didn't suffer major financial crisis when Joe died. Our lives would have been strikingly different had I not planned in that regard. Left to Joe it would not have happened. He was NOT a planner of the future. He was a live in the moment kind of guy. His zest for life and ability to live in the moment goes b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l-l-y with being a kid. It was his secret to being such a great father, and our differing personalities was part of what made our marriage work.

I want to be more like Joe in some ways. I need to stop everything else and join my kids in what they are doing. Soon they'll be older and won't even want me around. I don't want to miss these years any more than I already have.

So I guess my resolution is to STOP all MY stuff and do more with my kids. To get less frustrated with them and exhibit more patience. AND to try to make plans for my future, but after they go to bed. Is that possible? The question is, who is going to do the laundry?