Friday, August 28, 2009

Losing the constant

For the first time in over 8 eight years I have regularly scheduled time each day in which I am at no one's beck and call. Seriously, it is crazy. Last year I had three days a week where Alyssa was in preschool for 2 hours, but that time was spent doing errands and tending to my dog and most of the time I felt like by the time I got home I was looking at the clock to see when I needed to be back there because it was such a short period of time. So this year is different. And, I'm sure like many mothers who have stayed home with their kids I (unexpectedly) feel very weird about it. I imagined all the stuff I'd get done, how I could actually get a haircut without getting a babysitter, have meetings for various things where I don't have to drag my kids along, etc. The past three afternoons I really have gotten quite a bit done. But there is also a feeling that I had not anticipated. It is that I just plain feel weird without having any children with me during the day. All of a sudden I am feeling what a change I am in the midst of. I'm never going back to having a child at my side all day. Strange.

It is these kind of changes in life in which I feel most alone. If Joe were here I could talk to him about it. He'd probably not truly understand what I was feeling but he'd sit there just the same and listen to me babble on about these changes. Then he'd hug me and although I'd still feel the change I would not feel the alone-ness. When you lose your spouse you lose something that is so hard to describe. As I've said many times before it's the little things that hurt the most.

I also had not anticipated a revisiting of some of the more torturous aspects of what happened with Joe. I had not really thought about how grief would factor into my new alone time, but obviously without my daughter's (constant) talking I have time to have uninterrupted thoughts.
For some reason lately I've been wondering this:

How could a woman, a mother, be so cold and heartless as to watch a man die before her eyes and immediately have her thoughts go to money. Several people at the scene of the accident went on official record to say that the owner of the business where the accident occurred complained freely at the scene "We can't afford another lawsuit"; furthermore the passenger of the vehicle that pulled in front of Joe went to the police the day after the accident and told them that she told him to lie to police about what happened. Months later (after he had moved from the area) he flew back here from Alabama to be deposed and under oath told the same story that he told the police.

There is nothing that I can do about her abhorrent conduct. The police built a case against her and attempted to have her indicted but the (overburdened) county attorney did not pursue the case. All of that is completely out of my hands. But man, it feels like there should be something that I could do. It just feels so wrong. How can a person be so disgustingly heartless and wretched? Seriously, how?

I know her pathetic existence should have no bearing on my life. No matter what happens with her it does not change my circumstance. It's's an anger in my heart that has not lessened with time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The delicate dance of reality

Tomorrow my daughter starts Kindergarten.

For a while now I've been just kind of glossing over the whole thing in my head, mostly focusing on how early school starts and how summer is cut short, not letting my mind go there in terms of what it all will be like; not focusing on what I would be focusing on, talking about, thinking about if Joe were here. Which would be all-out, this is a big deal, Alyssa is starting school. Real school. If things were "normal" this would be an event in our house. I know that because it the natural pull of my thoughts, to make it a big deal. But every time I start to feel how big it is, I put it aside, tell myself to not think about it, because along with the bigness of it, is pain.

So I just try to make a "thing" in my head. Instead of an "event".

Am I crazy? Honestly, I don't know if I make any sense.

My general take on events that could be painful is
"don't think, just DO".

For a while that strategy was an honest to goodness survival technique in terms of getting through my days. If I allowed myself to truly experience every big event that has occurred in the past two years I would not have been able to function at most of them. And my children, they wouldn't have been able to experience things the way they have been able to if their mother was carrying on like a basket case. It just seemed to be the most logical way to handle things for the three of us.....for me not to think too deeply.

I have actual conversations in my mind when I start to feel weepy at an event. I talk to myself about something completely unrelated and get myself out of whatever situation is going on. I avoid the present.

This takes away from experiencing things in my life. I don't want to look back anymore than I already will and not be able to remember the details of "what happened when ____" (fill in the blank). But honestly, when will it not hurt?

I try my best to allow my children the excitement, accomplishment and thrill of events and new things in their lives. Tomorrow I'll take Alyssa's picture and bring her to school. But it will all feel shallow to me..............going through the motions, not allowing myself to think or feel what is really going on. I'll keep my mind going to the next thing that needs to be done. Because honestly, if I were to be truthful with her, and show her what I am really feeling on this day of joy, I would cry and hold her hands and tell her how sorry I am that her daddy is not here to take her picture with her. I can't do that to her on her first day of school. So instead of a fully present, in-the-moment mommy, she will get a "fake" and avoiding the situation mommy. Hmmm. I wonder if she can tell?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Joe died at 5:30 on an extremely hot Wednesday Summer afternoon.

I was at a fabric store buying material to make curtains for our bedroom at camp. I know exactly where I was because I kept checking the time since we were suppose to both be home around 6. For dinner. On the grill. Then some drinks. And time for just the two of us in our house. Obviously that joyful night never happened.

Yesterday was a hot Wednesday Summer afternoon. There was a time when I knew, week after week, when 5:30 on a Wednesday came around. Thankfully most of them go by now, without me reliving the (tragic) moments. Though I look forward to a day when every Wednesday goes by, without me reliving the (tragic) moments. Yesterday I remembered vividly. Partly because of the weather, partly because I was alone without my kids (rare), partly because of the day of the week, partly because of where I was going- back to the fabric store. I've only been there one other time since the accident. You wouldn't think that a store would mean anything, but really, for some reason it does.

When I think about this stuff, I start to have silly thoughts, like, "what if I go there and something bad happens again?" These are just thoughts that my mind wanders to. Not real, rational, believable type stuff; just my mind going over the possibilities, for what purpose, I don't know. As it worked out I was at the fabric store in the late afternoon and traveling home afterwards, the same route I traveled the day of the accident at the same time of day. So it all was all on my mind as I rode home, by myself, just like I did on that day.

When I got to an intersection, one in which I make the choice to go around where Joe died (as I chose to do for a solid year) or right by it, I chose the shortest route, which is right by it. I go that way probably 50% of the time now. On the 1-mile stretch of road between the turn and the accident scene, I feel every twist and turn and think "these are the last turns I made as my old self"; "this is the road where my beautiful life- as I knew it- ended; and finally, "this the the last hill I climbed before everything changed".

When I got to the top of the hill that day in 2007, I saw commotion from afar. "Oh an accident" I thought to myself. As I got closer I could see a police officer directing traffic. Cars parked around the road where they would not be normally parked. People standing around, on their lawns and in front of their businesses. And finally, as I approached the intersection where I would make my turn, I turned and looked to the right, down the road and saw it.....a bike down. On the pavement. The same color as Joe's. The same road he'd be coming home on. There were so many people around, cars, police cruisers, commotion. All of it was fuzzy for a moment while I looked at that bike on the pavement. My body instantly went numb. And I turned left.

I prayed the whole way home. No, no, no. Don't let it be him.

And so it began. My new life.

Yesterday as I made the turns of that road on my way home, I remembered all the usual things...I kept telling myelf to stop. "Put it out of your head Robin." Why keep reliving it? Put away the similarities of the day; of the time of day; of where you just were; of being alone in the car. In my mind I was telling myself to stop focusing on the similarities. But as I got to the top of the hill, once again I saw from a distance commotion ahead. I saw a man in the road directing traffic. People standing around. As I got closer I saw a banged up car. And another one on the other side of the road. I did not see anyone hurt, and I don't believe that anyone was seriously hurt. I got to the intersection and had to sit and wait. I looked around at some of the people standing outside of their businesses and homes and wondered.....did they do this when my husband died? Are these faces that I am seeing now the same ones that witnessed the scene and aftermath of my own husband's death? For a second I thought about driving around the cars in front of me to just get the hell out of there. But I waited and took some deep breaths. And when it was time for me to move, I turned left.

I wondered, as I kept driving towards my house, why did that have to happen? Why today? And my answer.....Life is cruel sometimes. It just is.