Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 22nd snuck up on me ...

It's been nearly 3 weeks since I've written here. I've thought about writing a blog post but just haven't felt like it. Just like so very many other things in my life. I'm really good at ignoring things I don't feel like doing. But I really have been busy ... new job, still doing old job, a big meeting/holiday event at work, clearing out my old office and storage room at work, Jer's graduation ... some really good moments, and yet trying to avoid the holidays without anyone really noticing. The tree went up weeks ago, but there are still no ornaments. I opened the box. I tried. But there are 41 years of memories in that box and I'm just not able to do that. Yet. Maybe next year.

I'm off work now until January 2, so I didn't set an alarm for this morning. Climbed into bed around midnight and actually got nearly 8 hours sleep with only 2 wake-ups. That's unheard of for me. My norm is about 4 hours with 1 wake-up.  But I awoke this morning feeling kind of melancholy.  I have no food in the frig, the house is a mess, my Keurig stopped working, my laptop went bonkers. I actually hollered out loud when the laptop snafu happened. "Enough!!!!!"  And then I noticed the date. Ah. OK. Now I get it. It's been 15 months since I lost Vern. 1 year and 3 months. 456 days. Today. Yeah, the 22nd snuck up on me.

So I just accepted today was going to be one of THOSE days. Tomorrow will be better.

And there ARE good things happening in my life ... I know that and I appreciate that.
  • Jeremy graduated from the Nevada School of Massage Therapy and will be starting a Master Bodyworker program in January. He's finally found his passion. 
  • I love my new job and recognize how lucky I am to have this new, amazingly kind boss and a new set of co-workers I'm getting to know better.
  • I'm writing positive posts in Widowed Village, hoping to help others who are struggling; and I volunteer there on weekends processing new members. 
  • I share posts on Facebook and Pinterest and play Words With Friends - and I joke and laugh. 
  • I enjoyed the Michael Jackson 'Immortal' Cirque show with a couple of friends last week. 
  • Someone at work has sent me anonymous gifts each day for the "Twelve Days of Christmas", a wonderfully kind thing to do that brought me joy.
I'm trudging along, putting on a pretty darn good front, if I say so myself, feeling that no one really wants to hear that this is still not easy.
So today was tough and I stayed in my jammies all day long. I ordered pizza delivery for dinner and I'll start fresh tomorrow. Oil change for one of the cars, grocery shopping, maybe I'll even put up one of my nativity scenes. Vern knew how much I enjoyed them and bought me a couple over the years. Think I may look for that box before I head to bed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Letting the tears flow

I started a blog post yesterday that would have had a completely different focus than the one I need to write today. I felt really good. I got that job I wanted! I've accomplished some things on my to-do list. I felt positive about my future. I even put up my Christmas tree.

And then today arrived and the tears will not stop. So many triggers. I could easily have just not posted anything today, but then that wouldn't be true to myself or to the other widows who share this journey with me. I know this is normal. I've written many posts of encouragement to others about this. The roller coaster of grief. Feel what you feel. Live it. Breathe it. And it will heal you.

So I have taken my own advice and spent the day with my tears. Big, wallowing, sobbing, ugly tears.  Tears for Vern ... for his suffering ... for how much I miss him ... how much I love him ... for the loss of the dreams we had for our future ... for the loss of my joy in the holidays ... for my aloneness ... for the fears I have of my own future.

While I was writing this post my new boss actually sent me a wonderful text message. It reminded me that I am truly blessed. Tomorrow is a new day. My first full day at the new job. I know I will awake feeling better, ready to move into whatever the future holds for me, carrying Vern in my heart.

P.S.   I changed the tv channel to Andrea Bocelli's PBS special and what song does he choose to sing at that exact moment?  "More" - the song sung at our wedding.  One final grief burst before turning in. Bring on Monday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I don't need no stinkin' goals ... do I?

Nearly a month has passed since I said I was going to set those goals and get busy accomplishing things (well, actually, I think I originally stated that 2 months ago).  I'm a bit ashamed to admit I've not really done much with them. Oh I have excuses ... I'm still doing two jobs at work, I'm still missing Vern, I'm tired, I'm not eating or sleeping as I should.  But ... the fact is, I guess I'm just not ready to tackle all of those 'I need to do' things in the manner I originally planned.

Last Friday, my widow breakfast buddy, Linda, and I each stated one thing we were going to accomplish this week. Mine was to dust my floors and finally send those dust bunny families packing. Yes, it's rather embarrassing to admit that I'm still not cleaning the house much at all. I wouldn't answer the door even if someone did stop by (which hasn't happened by the way). So when I came home from our breakfast I took care of those bunnies right away. It felt good! So good that I did one more thing on my list right away. Yeah!  So I'm trying to just take this in small bites. No pressure to finish the entire list by a set date. It will all get done in due time.

One thing I think will help get me moving is I'm interviewing for a new job on Tuesday ... it's for the extra job I've been doing for the last 2+ months. While I've changed job responsibilities within my company over the years, I haven't had a formal job interview since 1992 and must admit I'm a bit nervous about that. Just a few months ago I was thinking about retiring. I was getting pretty comfortable with the idea for awhile there. But then I took a good look at my life and realized that I was just not ready for that. I can say that I would use that extra time to do all of the things I've wanted to do for so long, to travel and read and create ... but the fact is I'm still spending most all of my weekends inside my house on the computer. I don't want to become that crazy old widow lady who never ventures outside except to pick up the mail.

So going to work is good for me at this point - it's a lifeline, a place where I can push all of the sadness and loneliness and fears into the corner and be somebody I like, be who I really want to be.  I think I need this new job ... for my healing. Vern is no longer here to make me feel like I matter.  But this new job makes me feel valued - I love being asked my opinion and actually listened to, being truly appreciated. It feels really, really good and I think will have a positive impact on my personal life.  So wish me luck on Tuesday; he's making the decision Wednesday morning ... just in time for a real THANKSgiving for me. Hey - it may even help me tackle that list a little faster, too!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

I See You ....

I'm feeling on the edge lately. Not "on edge", but on the edge, on a precipice  ... like I'm teetering between my old life and a new one. I don't think I know yet who this "new" Dianne is, not really sure I want to get to know her fully just yet, but I'm seeing glimpses of her each day.

But change can be hard for a widow.  I'm a bit afraid to leave any part of my old life behind ... the life I shared with Vern. That's where my memories reside. It is precious and I don't want to lose one moment of it.  So I need to figure out how I can move into a new life while still being able to honor and treasure my past. I need to find a way to carry the person I am at work into my private life, so that I'm no longer two different people.  There's a potential change coming at work and I believe that will help me move into this new phase of my life. I think I'm ready for it, and then - perhaps - the other changes I need to make will follow more easily.

Whether you're an Oprah fan or not, her new Lifeclass series provides some really good food for thought and I recommend them. And for my widow friends out there - some of these classes have really hit me hard, making me think about my life and how I'm handling my loss. There was one where the class focused on the "I see you" statement from the movie, Avatar. Vern loved that movie, and those words were some of the last he spoke in hospice. I didn't get the connection at the time. He said, "I see you" and I responded with a smile and a kiss, saying "I see you, too, sweetie" but when I've heard them since then I am reduced to tears. I can hear him saying those words and I can now feel what he was actually saying to me. He was acknowledging who I am as a person, what our life together meant, the fact that I was there for him through those difficult days, weeks, years. He was validating who I am with those 3 little words when he was unable to speak further. And that was the message behind the Lifeclass ... how wonderful it would be if we took the time to stop and truly acknowledge each person who crosses our path, to acknowledge their "Being", who they are, what they bring to our relationship. It's something to strive for.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

13 Months ....

Yes, I know ... I said I wasn't going to do the counting thing any longer. But I awoke this morning realizing it was once again the 22nd, so it felt right to use that fact as a starting point for a blog update.

A month ago I said I would spend the next 30 days "in search of Dianne" by accomplishing some short term goals. Well, that did not happen. I wasn't realistic at all about the timing of that statement.  The past 30 days have required very long hours at the office, bringing work home every night and going in on weekends to prepare for our annual employee recognition week.  On top of that big project, I also picked up an additional job ... one that I am enjoying thoroughly and hope will evolve into a new permanent role for me.  So there was no time for Dianne during these past 30 days, and I will not beat myself up for not accomplishing any goals this month. My search for  Dianne will begin today, but I also need to take care of some tangible things that have been ignored for too long.

The house is a wreck ... worse now than before, really, because of the work project. I've only run the dishwasher, cleaned the toilet and done the laundry when I absolutely had to. I don't think I opened any mail during this past month - so that will be the first change I make. #1 on my list of goals is to open the mail every day; shred the junk stuff, pay the bills, file away what needs to be filed. #2 is to get back into the weekly house cleaning habit.

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The heat of summer is gone, evenings and mornings are cool, daytime temperatures are in the 80s. My #3 goal will be to get outside and enjoy this time. I haven't tended to Vern's rose garden all summer, so that's on the list - along with a daily walk around the neighborhood.

#4 is to do something with the wheelchair van. I finally have both the Mustang and CRV running and up-to-date with maintenance and I'm driving both of them regularly to keep them running. But the van continues to sit there in the driveway - dead battery and more. It was such a life-saver for me to get Vern to dialysis, doc appointments, chemo treatments ... someone else is probably feeling as desperate as I was before we had it and should be using it. So I'll contact the Ability Center where I purchased it and see what my options are.

I miss Vern deeply and talk to him every day - but I don't cry every day any more. The days leading up to the one year mark were very difficult - far more difficult than the actual date - but I'm grateful for the precious memories they brought to me. I'm still spending time in Widowed Village, with people who understand what this is like ... how hard it is to figure out how we can possibly go on without the loves of our lives ... and I'm looking forward to both Camp Widows next year. I now get out each weekend to meet a dear widow friend for breakfast, so no more spending the entire weekend at home in my jammies. I will spend some time this weekend writing out the rest of my list of things that need to be taken care of so I can start checking them off - and I'll include some personal growth things, too, that will help me find Dianne once again. I know she's still in there somewhere. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Onward ....

I made it through the one year mark ... I don't really like calling it an 'anniversary'.  Anniversaries are good things, wonderful events that we want to celebrate. September 22, 2010 certainly was not that. While I am very grateful that Vern's passing was peaceful, it is not a day I wish to honor with a celebration. It marks a monumental loss and a drastic change in my life. It is a point that I needed as a compass this first year, but I am hopeful that I can place that date off in a private place. Let me instead celebrate the many special occasions we enjoyed during our 41 years, and use his birthday and our wedding anniversary as my special dates of remembrance.

Today I purchased tickets to upcoming events at the new Smith Center for Performing Arts that will open in March 2012. It felt like an investment in my future - and a push to get me out of the house for more than just work. I'll be seeing Straight No Chaser, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and 4 Broadway shows:  The Color Purple, Mary Poppins, Million Dollar Quartet and Memphis.  And I can't wait to see Wicked when it arrives later in the year. The song "For Good" from that show speaks so very deeply to me of the impact Vern had on my life. (I have that song linked over on the right-hand side under "Special You Tube Videos" if you haven't heard it.)

And then there's Camp Widow in Myrtle Beach in April plus the add-on trip to DC afterward with my extra special Widowed Village pal, Tracy - and the trip to see her in Calgary in July for the Stampede, and a visit to Lake Louise and Banff - and then Camp Widow in San Diego in August.  Whew ... I'm going to be busy! I guess I'm going to need to keep working in order to afford to do all of these things!  Thank goodness for the 4-day work weeks that give me long weekends and for my good number of vacation hours on the books.

Yesterday I purchased a CD package called "The Re-Entry to Life" program from Second Firsts, an online company that helps others deal with grief. I think it will be helpful to make the steps forward I need to make. And since I was one of the first 10 to make the purchase, I'll also get a private phone consultation with the author. I've never done any one-on-one counseling so this will be another growth opportunity.

So today feels like a start. There were tears as I listened to the songs I had placed over in the You Tube video file, but they helped to remind me that how I live the rest of my life is a reflection upon Vern and so I must do this right. He was such a very, very special man ... and "because I knew him, I have been changed for good."

Friday, September 23, 2011

My year of 'firsts' is over

There were days I didn't think it would be possible, but I have survived a year without Vern and all of the 'firsts' that came with it:
  • Halloween ... I put a 'sorry, no candy' note on the door
  • Thanksgiving ... very non-traditional - went to a local Mexican restaurant with Jer
  • Christmas ... no tree, no holiday parties, no decorations, no gifts
  • New Year's Eve ... no fireworks
  • His birthday ....
  • Valentine's Day ....
  • My birthday ... the big 6-0
  • Our anniversary ... it would have been #42
  • The one year anniversary of his death ...
I didn't do anything special to mark these 'firsts' ... the most common denominator was that I spent them alone. I have no family here, other than our single adult son. There were 1 or 2 offers to join others on special days, but being with couples or families enjoying each other just was not something I felt I could do well. 

There were many special moments of kindness shown to me throughout the year that I am very grateful for, but there are two 'events' that occurred that will stay with me forever. 

One was a gift I gave to myself - an early December trip to the Florida Keys. I knew I couldn't be at work for all of the holiday festivities and decided that a trip to somewhere that didn't hold memories would be helpful. Those days in that beautiful spot started a healing in my soul and provided me with a possible link to my future retirement days.

And the very biggest remembrance of this first year was the anonymous gift of 'sparkles' on Christmas Eve. I felt very alone and forgotten most of this year and that gift demonstrated that someone out there was thinking of me, was reading my blog, had paid attention to something special that had occurred 3 months earlier and took the time to do this wonderful thing ... it warmed my heart in so many ways and will never, ever be forgotten.

So today is Day 1 of my resolve to make some changes, to grow, to figure out who I am and what I need to do.  Think I'll start by making a list that I will post on the bathroom mirror so I see it every morning. I can do this.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Year Ago

My life changed forever on September 22, 2010 at 5:08 a.m. as my dear husband slipped from this life and went to Heaven. While I couldn't possibly have wanted him to continue to suffer any longer, letting him go was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

So here I am one year later. One year. How can that be?

I'm not where I think I should be at this point. Emotionally ... well, maybe. I have my good and bad days, I don't feel depressed ... just sad. I miss him. He was my one true love and my very best friend for 41 years. I miss being able to talk to him about the little things every day. Tears have been heavy during these past several days, but I guess that was to be expected. There have been other issues, too, that have burdened my heart this past week. Just a big ol' dark cloud hanging over my head.

While I am proud of how I cared for Vern during his cancer battle, I am not proud of how I've let everything else in my personal life go since he left. The house is a wreck, I'm not taking care of things like I should, Vern's things are still in the closet, medical stuff is still stacked in a corner of my bedroom, I'm still leaving mail unopened in stacks on the table, the yard would be a jungle if not for my oh-so-special neighbor Nancy, the wheelchair van still sits undriveable in the driveway. And yet at work I'm organized, efficient, smiling, handling a really huge load right now that keeps me jumping the entire time I'm there. Who the heck am I?  How do I make these two very separate people merge into one?

I'm not sure what the answer is to that, but I am going to finally get started trying to figure it out. For Vern AND for me. Just like I faced each day of Vern's cancer journey with the 'one day at a time' mantra ... I will face this personal mountain one 'bite' at a time. I will follow my special widow friend Crystal's lead and start my "in search of Dianne West" journey with a list of realistic short term goals to accomplish in the next 30 days.

Today is for grieving ... tomorrow begins Day 1 of discovering who I am.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our last day together

I knew time was very short this day a year ago. I had asked the nurse to come into the room when he began making a strange sound. That was when I learned about the death rattle - and while it was rather disturbing, I was assured that he was not experiencing any discomfort. I squeezed myself into his bed without disturbing him, wrapped my arm around his head and stayed there, speaking softly to him throughout the night.

I had asked God to send an angel to carry my Vern home and I have no doubt at all that my prayers was answered. Earlier, I shared my wish with Vern and asked if he had seen any angels. He nodded and whispered 'one' and pointed over to the corner of his room. He later asked me how many angels he needed and said "I'm ready to go."  He would stay with me for another day.

"In the night of death, hope sees a star,
and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing."
~Robert Ingersoll

As hard as it is to recall all that happened a year ago, remembering all of these moments brings me some peace and I think it will help me to move forward. I am proud of how I cared for Vern, how I loved him, how I let him go when it was time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Peaceful Days

A year ago we were half-way through our hospice experience. Our days there were peaceful and quiet. A time of reflection for me - to appreciate the wonderful life we shared, to recall special times and to share those precious memories with Vern. I did not use that time to prepare for his leaving; I did not ask him questions about what I needed to do after he was gone ... where the safety deposit key was hidden, how to work the pool pump or operate the landscape equipment. That time was all about LOVE, only love.

The courtyard at Nathan Adelson Hospice - September 2010

He only spoke a few words while there. A couple of visitors earned sincerely whispered "thank  you's" and that special eye twinkle for taking the time to stop by to see him. And he repeated loving words over and over again to me that will bless me forever.

I held his hand throughout the days and nights. It was important to me that he not ever feel he was there alone. Throughout his cancer battle I massaged his hands and feet daily with lotion to help ease the neuropathy pain and they were so smooth and soft. I miss those special times of tenderness.

"I dropped a tear in the ocean. 
The day you find it is the day I will stop missing you."
~Author Unknown

A year later, I'm hoping for the return of those peaceful days. Days that will heal my heart and help me find my future. It is time for me to get on with living. To take some good solid steps into this new life of mine. To set some goals for myself - and to make a real effort to reach those goals.

But first I must get through this tough week. I think it's important that I look back to one year ago. To appreciate all that those days brought to me - the love, the tenderness, the closeness, the tears, the heartache, the despair.  This past weekend was not at all peaceful but I am hopeful that I will soon find my way with the help of my faith, my God, and the friends who remain.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How could it be time for hospice?

Hospice arrived in our life a year ago today and I honestly did not see it coming. I've reread my Caring Bridge journal from that day and it has brought out so many memories and emotions. I started that morning out thinking there had to be some way I could get him home from the hospital and ended the day following an ambulance to Nathan Adelson Hospice.

I'm grateful that I had those final days with him. We were together and I knew the time was short. I was able to say the things I wanted to say, even though he wasn't able to communicate with me much. I know in my heart he heard every single word and that does give me peace. Other widows have told me I'm lucky to have had those days with him, but it's really hard to feel 'lucky'.  I lost the love of my life ... the man I had spent over 41 years married to ... he completed me ... he supported me ... how can I possibly be much of anything without him?

"You can only come to the morning through the shadows"
J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The beginning of the end

I woke up this morning feeling strange. I had gone to bed early and slept fairly well (for me). I awoke well before my 4:30 alarm went off and decided to just get up and start my day. My tummy was feeling a bit unsettled - but I figured that was because my dinner had consisted of ice cream just before retiring. I turned on my Kindle and played a couple of word searches and then decided to start reading one of the many books I've purchased. Open to Hope, Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss caught my eye ... and while reading of a wife who with every downturn in her husband's cancer battle feared he would not recover, it hit me.

I never once felt that ... not during the initial hospitalization and surgery ... not when he started bleeding out 4 days later and was given the wrong blood on the operating table ... not with the stage 4 pressure ulcer and colostomy ... not with the kidney failure ... not with that awful open back wound that would not heal ... not with the abdominal aortic pseudoaneurysm ... not during any of the many, many hospitalizations over those 4.5 years ... and not on that morning one year ago when I called 911. I never once thought that it would be the end. Not once.  HOPE ... it was always there ... always.

But then I looked at today's date and now I understand why today feels different. One year ago I made that call. And I know now where that call took us and how it ended. It was a day that changed my life and I didn't even realize it at the time.

Those wonderfully kind Henderson Fire Department paramedics arrived and were able to gently lift my dear Vern up out of the recliner and onto the gurney.  We arrived at St. Rose Siena and I learned we had more issues than I anticipated, but we had been in this spot so many times before. We'd get through this crisis, too.

The hospital was packed and we waited for a bed to open ... with his feet hanging off the ER gurney.

After 8 hours, we opted for a transfer to St. Rose San Martin and he was finally settled in a real bed. He was comfortable, sedated, tests and dialysis ordered.  Day 1 of the final 9 days of Vern's life ended with hope once again.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"...or you can let it strengthen you."

I've had a change take place at work that I'm quite excited about. A manager I deeply respect has received a well-deserved promotion to director of a new department and has asked me to help him get it off the ground. I'm very flattered by the things he's said and look forward to helping him do this right. It's the spark I've needed. I enjoy my current job managing our employee recognition programs, but the struggle to get the buy-in needed for it to be fully successful has been wearing on me. The lure of retirement was sounding better each day. But now that I have these new responsibilities, I'm energized again. I'm splitting my time between this new job and my current work which keeps me hopping, so a benefit is that I'm finally able to sleep straight through the night on my work nights. 

I've been enjoying breakfasts on the weekends with special friends, and I had a great time Saturday night with Deb at dinner and the Sade/John Legend concert. It has gotten easier for me to do these social things, but I do still find that I need my down time afterward. I continue to find myself picking up my cell phone to call Vern or making a mental note to share something with him when I get home, but those slips no longer bring me to my knees.

When something bad happens you have three choices. 
You can either let it define you, 
let it destroy you, 
or you can let it strengthen you.

I've fought hearing those "you're strong" words, but I can do that no longer ... especially after reading  the above quote.  I certainly will not let Vern's death define or destroy me ... that would not honor the years we had together and all that our love meant. So allowing the loss of the love of my life to strengthen me is a good thing. And I see evidence of this strength nearly every day.  Oh I still have a long way to go to become who I need to be, but I can now see the possibilities.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Missing Him

Today marks 11 months since I last held Vern in my arms. And I miss him. I know that I am lucky ... so very lucky ... lucky that we found each other ... lucky that we had 41 wonderful years together ... lucky that his passing was peaceful. But none of that makes me miss him any less. I will miss him until I draw my last breath and we are together again.  In the midst of all of that missing, however, I do know that I will survive. I am who I am because of Vern - and I will strive to make this new life honor him.

Emotions have a way of visiting whenever they please. Sometimes they surprise me, other times I anticipate their arrival. But I believe that feeling what I feel whenever I feel it is extremely important. And I'm trying to do that more now. To be real. Sure, there are still times I must put on the 'happy face' - don't we all have to do that, even if you're not a widow? But I don't resent having to do that any longer ... as long as I can also just succumb to the emotions whenever I need to.

So I've made some good progress, I think. Coming up on the one year mark is rather daunting. In some ways I can't believe it's been that long, but other times it feels like forever. But one thing the impending one year mark is doing for me is helping me realize I must make some changes. I can no longer ignore my mail or housework or the house repairs or the yard or the cars. Those are things that I am responsible for and putting my head in the sand and ignoring them is just plain ridiculous. Can I do all of those things? Of course I can. I don't like having to do it all, and I miss being able to talk to Vern about things, to get his advice, to hear his recommendations. But I really am quite capable. I handle everything at work just fine, so this behavior is rather odd ... but I'll just blame it on being a widow.

I think that part of my progress is a result of my attending Camp Widow last weekend in San Diego. Being with nearly 300 others who understand what this is like was healing. There were tears and laughter, good lessons learned in the workshops, new friendships made but some hurt feelings, too. Finally being able to express all of those varied emotions really had an impact on me. It was exhausting. I stayed an extra day so I could see some of the sights, and ended up sleeping most of Sunday afternoon and ordering room service that night. I've worked my way through all of those emotions and feel like I've turned a corner. And I've signed up to attend BOTH of the Camp Widows to be held next year!

What a wonderful surprise greeted me when I returned home Monday ... the messy front yard had been completely cleaned up - thanks to a dear neighbor. I kept thinking Jer & I could do it, but after doing part of it in this heat I realized I needed to just call someone to get it done. But I never got around to making the call - I have such a horrible problem with procrastination. I am amazed at how differently I feel now when I walk out the front door. I didn't realize the impact the overgrown plants, dead palm fronds and weeds was having on me. It's rather amazing. And that realization has helped me understand how important it is that I get the mess inside the house cleaned up, too. I've made a start and I have a plan. Finally.

So I'm in a pretty good place today at 11 months.  Not sure how I'll feel tomorrow ... it would have been our 42nd wedding anniversary. I'm off work, don't have any plans for the day, but thinking it would be a good day to sort through some old photos ... to spend some time with nice memories. I gave myself a "pay it forward" anniversary gift tonight by helping someone who is having a rough time financially.  They said, "You saved my life." Oh my. I actually felt Vern smiling. Wish I could have saved his life. 

There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go.  ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stand Up!

I haven't written here in nearly a month ... many reasons, many excuses ... but I just returned from my first Camp Widow and wanted to post this amazing video. It features widows/ers "standing up and thriving" in our widowhood ... and I'm actually in it with a photo of that first (and only) hike I took in Red Rock Canyon. I had never heard Sugarland's song, "Stand Up" but feel that I've found my voice. I'll share more of my weekend in San Diego.

Sugarland — Stand Up
All the lonely people cryin’
It could change if we just get started
Lift the darkness, light a fire
For the silent and the broken hearted
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?
There’s a comfort
There’s healing
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is coming
Can you feel it?
Calling us in to a new tomorrow
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?
When the walls fall all around you
When your hope has turned to dust
Let the sound of love surround you
Beat like a heart in each of us
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up
Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

Friday, July 22, 2011

10 Months

As I thought about reaching this date a couple of weeks ago, I felt pretty good. I wasn't crying daily, I had made some really special connections with other widows online, I was looking forward to attending Camp Widow next month. But something wasn't right and way deep down inside I knew it when I allowed myself to think about it. I couldn't write anything here in my blog. I knew what I wanted, needed, to say but just couldn't be that honest. I wasn't keeping up with emails or mail or bills or housework or laundry or the yard. It felt like the walls of my life were closing in on me. And yet each work day I would put on my happy face, say what is expected, act like people wanted me to act. I'm Dianne, I'm strong, I can do all of this alone. And everyone has bought it. They're proud of me. Happy that I have made such a wonderful progression from my sorrow.

What a crock!  It's all a facade. But who would know that? Who would want to know that? It's too hard ... for them. The truth is that I walk in the door after work each day (and on weekends), put on my jammies and sit in Vern's recliner. I sometimes just sit there doing absolutely nothing, other nights I stay online for hours, but often I'm not honest there either. I'm the cheerleader, the supporter, the one who tries to make everyone else feel better. But I can't do this any longer. I need to find a happy medium, an outlet, a way to be true to myself.

I made an effort to be honest when I was online last night, but only because what happened earlier in the day scared me so that I knew I had to do something different. I had my first panic attack. I had gone over to the IRS to pay the money I owed. I had let it go to the final day before they would place a lien on my home. I don't know why I delayed ... I just have been procrastinating on everything in my personal life. I was ok while at the IRS office, the guard at the entrance was nice, the line wasn't long, the man who handled my payment was very kind when I shared that my husband had died. I pulled out the death certificate and could feel the emotions starting to build, but I was able to force them back. I got into my car and then it hit. I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn't catch my breath, my heart was racing, deep wracking sobs consumed me, strange sounds came out of me, I was dizzy, trembling, sweaty. It was frightening. I remember thinking of all of the things I had not done ... haven't updated my will, haven't prepared a list of things Jer would need to know, where I've hidden things, fearing that someone would just find me dead there in the car at the end of the day. I don't know how long it lasted, but eventually I was able to gain some control and I headed back to work where I once again put on the happy Dianne act. I've felt exhausted since that whole episode.

Today I helped a dear friend, whose husband is now in home hospice, close up his office. I'm so happy I was there to give her hugs and let her talk when she needed it, while the guys did the heavy lifting. This was very tough for her as her husband spent 15 years working out of that office. I used to see him at the oncologist office (he and Vern both received their chemo treatments on Fridays), but I wasn't prepared to see him after we finished the move. As we all walked into the room, he looked like Vern sitting there in the recliner. Same shirt, oxygen, dozing slumped over with Vern's 'cadillac' walker sitting alongside him (I gave it to them to use). I was overwhelmed and had to turn my back for a moment as others greeted him. He worked to stand up as Linda began telling him who all was there. And then he whispered my name, so I went to him  ... and he hugged me strongly for a long while. It was a very touching moment for me, as it felt like Vern was hugging me. He asked if I could adjust the handles on the walker, so I did that and he gave me a 'thumbs up' ... another thing Vern often did. I cried when I got outside but also felt very blessed for my 'visit'. 

"The emotion of grief should not just be labeled as painful, sad or difficult. It is so much more than that. It is more like a journey to a new world where you get to be all by yourself, without your family, your friends and the world you grew up in. Where you shed the person you used to be, and grow into the new self while you discover the doorway back to life. That is what I call Grief."   Second Firsts on Facebook

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's just emotion ....

... and mine have been all over the map lately.  "In the words of a broken heart, it's just emotion that's taking me over ...."  I heard that Bee Gees song today and it fit, even though I know the lyrics have nothing to do with widow grief.

Highs and lows. Tears and laughter. Ups and downs. Joy and sorrow.  Just emotions ....

Actually, I've been feeling pretty good lately. Work is good, Jeremy is doing really well, and I hit the 9 month mark on June 22 and didn't fall apart. I owe my former co-worker, Vince, for getting me through that date. He called that morning and invited me to join him for the 5th anniversary show of Phantom of the Opera at The Venetian. It was wonderful - beautiful voices and a simply amazing theater - and it was so nice to catch up with Vince.

But then the weekend hits and I still can't get myself out of the house. During my work week I feel pretty positive about doing some things, but then I just cannot force myself out that door unless I absolutely have to. I can create lists of things to do, places to go, but the weekend hits and I plop myself in Vern's recliner and pull up my laptop. I'm comfortable. It feels good. It's comforting. And I'm ok with it ... until Sunday evening.  Then I start beating myself up about it.  So I'll just keep on trying again next weekend, and the next....

I did finally get Vern's Mustang running. It and the wheelchair van have been sitting out in the driveway for months; the batteries died long ago. It was a bit of a fiasco with AAA and finding a repair shop that would recharge the battery, but ended up being worth the couple of hours it took. I wasn't sure how I'd feel getting into his car, but it was ok.  I'm sure he's pleased I finally took care of this. Unfortunately, the van is still not running (that's too long a story to get into here). I'll try getting that one on the road next weekend. I do really hate having to do all of this stuff alone.

I spend a lot of time in Widowed Village. I need it. They 'get' me there. They understand what I'm feeling and experiencing because they're feeling and experiencing it, too. I can help others there when they need it ... and they are there for me when I need it.  I've made some wonderful friends, people I really care about, and will meet some of them next month at Camp Widow in San Diego. And I'm even planning a trip to Calgary next July to meet up with my very special Canadian Widville friend. We'll do the Stampede and visit Banff and Lake Louise. We may even do a trip to DC together before that. We have a really special connection that I am so very grateful for. So that's a really good thing for me.

But my emotions are lying just under the surface and it doesn't take much to set me off.  I miss Vern and the life we had.  I hurt more for others.  There's been another tragic death at work, a dear friend's husband has entered hospice, a precious little grandson of an MM caregiver is in very critical condition this evening.  And the tears come.  I tried to attend the funeral of my co-worker on Saturday, but just couldn't. It was at the same funeral home Vern was at.  Watching the fireworks tonight brought tears.  The news of little Isaac this evening brought me to my knees.

"And where are you now,
Now that I need you,
Tears on my pillow,
Wherever you go,
I'll cry me a river
That leads to your ocean
You´ll never see me fall apart"