Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm ready to fight hard for myself

No matter how hard I try, I just can't let these '22nds' pass without notice. I see the date and immediately do the count. September to February = 5 months + one year = 17 months. How is that even possible? I still feel like a 'recent' widow, but I probably don't qualify to use that term any longer. Who decides those things?  The same folks who say 'young' widows can't be 50 or older?  Gee thanks. I do so hate labels.

At times it feels like 9/22/10 was only yesterday. I can be transported back to exact moments and conversations in the blink of an eye ... and then other times it feels like forever since I held his hand in mine. I know I will survive this. I know I will find my way. I will do this for him, and my faith will carry me through.  But make no mistake - this is not easy. There is no master widow calendar that calculates when our grieving is finished. And our minds work against us constantly. Guilt on those days when we hear ourselves laughing and then someone says the wrong thing (good to see you have moved on ... what? no i have not!). Regrets for things we wished we had said or done when they were alive. The loneliness ... the quiet ... missing him.

Sue, a dear online caregiver/widow friend, wrote today:  "Help me God to fight as hard for myself as I did for him."  Her words really made me think. There wasn't a thing I wouldn't have done for Vern - there wasn't a thing I didn't do for him - during those long 4+ years fighting cancer. I got up each day thinking positive thoughts and took whatever the day threw at us. I always put on the happy face for Vern .. always. No matter what news we were given, I found a positive way to spin it for him. I talked him back from the edge. It made a real difference in his attitude; his medical team even noted it. And I believe it gave us those extra years the docs weren't expecting. So why can't I accept that it's ok to fight hard for myself?  I deserve it. He would want me to not just survive ... but to thrive. So I will make that effort. I will be aware of the beauty all around me. I will carve out time to do special things I enjoy. I will try to resurrect those creative juices I once had. I'm ready to fight hard for myself.

I did take a really big step forward last weekend by emptying the storage shed we have been paying for - and having a dumpster delivered to my house to toss what I could. It was not easy and I did not finish this task ... yet. Lots of memories in there. A lot of things to toss, too. And even more boxes I haven't sorted through yet that are now in my garage. So while I feel very happy that the shed is empty, my house is even more of a disaster zone right now. I caught a bug over the weekend and wasn't able to get everything done, but I can keep the dumpster over this next weekend to finish things up. I know it will feel good to finally reclaim our home from all of this 'stuff'. I'm ready to fight hard for myself.

As difficult as that "empty the shed" day was emotionally, it ended on a wonderful note. A myeloma caregiver/widow friend I met online back in 2006 was in town for a conference and we shared a wonderful evening together. There is a very special bond created through sharing these difficult life experiences. I've had the privilege of meeting several of my online widow friends in person - either here in Vegas when they were visiting or at Camp Widow. I cannot imagine how much more difficult this grieving was in the days before the internet.

And speaking of Camp Widow ... I finally booked my flight to Myrtle Beach in April where I will meet even more of my special Widowed Village friends. I plan to push myself to be more outgoing at this year's camp - to not be afraid to approach others if I find myself alone. I'm ready to fight hard for myself.


Teri said...

Good for you. I believe that having an uncluttered space will make you feel better. I have often felt guilty about making changes, but you have to do what is good for you.

Susie Hemingway said...

Thinking of you as I turn the page to the 23rd. Your post here is just as I feel too. I am not sure if we ever finish grieving but it is good to try to find this 'new life' but oh! so very hard to leave the old.
I think we are doing very well really and no there is not a time limit regards grieving. Reading your post in the early hours of the morning I know we are standing side-by side in this journey. Blessings Dianne and keep strong with the knowledge that many are thinking of you X

Craig said...

You're doing all the right things, Dianne! Absolutely right to "fight" for yourself--to live as well as you can. You don't owe it to Vern not to live well. But I don't think there's any end point to grieving and missing; I sure don't see any on my end. I'm at 14 months now, and, like you, I observe all the monthiversaries. I don't see that changing any time soon--if ever.

jaloysisus said...

This is a most encouraging post, Dianne. I love that part about fight hard for myself. It's not always easy, I know, but be assured that, as Susie said, many are thinking of you.



tim's wife said...

I've finally realized that being a "giver" and a caretaker makes it very hard to do things for yourself. We just don't get the same satisfaction out of it. It's hard to change but very necessary and so great to see you doing it!

Goodwin Family said...

Hi Dianne, You might remember me - I sat with you at dinner at 'camp' last August. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Debbie from SLC

J.R. said...

I've recently adapted the "fight for myself as hard as I fought for my husband" mantra, too. As an x-caregiver it is empowering because I know I AM strong underneath the grief.

Kerrie said...

That happens to me a lot,when it all comes back to those last few days, that last night. Still so painful and I don't think the pain will ever lessen. Everyone tells me it will get better with time but I get so lonely for him, not for people, but for him. Each first time thing I do without him throws me. The quiet in the house is still so horrendous. After 7 yrs. of being the caretaker, I am lost in purpose. Oh well, going on, better close. Love you Diane. You DO help me. Kerrie