A Really Weird Thing Happened Today

I looked at a photo of Chad today and I really missed him.  But that was .... it.  I was sad, yes.  But just like, wistful sad, like, gosh, I miss him.  And then I just sorta moved on in my head.  A few seconds later, my brain afterburners kicked in and said 

WHAT DID YOU JUST NOT THINK???? WHY AREN'T YOU, LIKE, YOU KNOW, DOING WHAT YOU ALWAYS DO, YOU KNOW, BEING SUPER WIDOW SAD AND SHIT?

I started to feel super weird about not feeling being super widow sad and shit, then I realized, I think this means I am making progress.  As in, this is what is supposed to happen.  I can't stay wracked with grief for the rest of my damn life can I?  No.  So SOMEDAY has to be the first day that I look at a photo of him and wistfully shake my head and think "wow, I miss you" then just move along in my head without obsessing for an hour and a half.  

I guess that day was today.  

The Hater

Someone sent me a series of increasingly shitty messages today about how I am grieving too much, grieving the wrong way, and continued to amp it, culminating in this (verbatim):

"Keep chasing away people who tell you harsh truths and genuinely care for the paths you're taking. It never works out well, but I truly wish the best for you."

before I finally blocked him on every conceivable communication platform.  I have no idea why this person wants to tell me what he calls "harsh truths".  And they are his truths.  Not my truths.  I write and talk about my truths.  So why this person (or any person) would presume to think there is some absolute "truth" in the world that I need to be aware of, and disabused of "my" apparent non-truth, is baffling. 

But, as my friends summarized quite succinctly:

"His complaint essentially boils down to ‘the content you were producing on Facebook was not to my liking and your real life struggles bored me’. What an utterly terrible person!"

Yup, that covers it.  

Good god, when you grieve publicly, you attract some assholes who think they need to teach you how to grieve.  No thanks.  I am doing just fine on my own with my actual friends.  Crikey.

I also took a great deal of comfort in the fact that my late, amazing husband knew this guy and he would, if it were some possible from an afterlife, absolutely fucking annihilate this guy for hurting his grieving wife.  He. Would. Kick. His. Ass.  Chad was the most even tempered, chill guy ever.  Except - if you hurt his wife or son.  Then, get the fuck outta the way because you were gonna be in for the brunt end of his impressive ire.  And perhaps because it was used so judiciously, and due to his disability, had to be purely verbal, was something of perverse beauty to behold on the extremely rare occasions when it occurred. So when I got upset at this guy's words, I just imagined Chad, and what he would have said to this asshole.  

And I felt a whole lot better.  

 

I Sold Our Beautiful Home Today Chad

Most widows find comfort in their home after their spouse dies.  I don't.  Everywhere I look, I see Chad.  And my son.  And happy memories (and a few not so happy, like dying in our bedroom).  Everyone tells you not to make any drastic decisions for at least a year.  I tried not to.  I really did. But I immediately wanted to sell the house, and I resisted the urge for as long as I could, and then I decided to just listen to my instincts and save my sanity, and sell.  So, this happened today: 

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It Is Never Going To Stop Sucking

So son's senior year, final, marching band season starts in a few days and I just realized this whole last year of his high school is gonna suck. 

Chad will miss every milestone. Chad has been there since he was a baby in diapers and could barely walk and talk. And I don’t have anyone to go with I his stuff. I mean, I do. My parents go to his school events. My friends go. But it is not the same as going with CHAD, his stepdad of 15 out of 17 years. Ever since my niece's high school graduation a few weeks ago I have been dreading my boy's graduation a year from now.

God this year is gonna SUCK. 

Then my boys will move away to college and I’ll truly be alone. 

I wonder when life is gonna stop sucking. 

Never.

It's never going to stop sucking. 

Because he's never coming back.

My New Medication

I am seeing a new psychiatrist at Duke who is super awesome.  Unfortunately, he is a fellow in his 3rd of 3 years, so I will lose him next July.  That sucks.  But I will just focus on that fact that I have a competent and empathetic psychiatrist for the first time in many years.  He put me on a new medication that is helping me a lot.  It is a benzo, so it can be habit forming, and frankly, at the dose and duration I'm taking it, I will likely become physically dependent on it.  And when/if that happens, all we will do is taper me down slowly when I don't need it anymore.  No big deal.  These drugs are literally made for situations like mine - severe, extended grief and anxiety from the PTSD.  

So I decided to tell my mom that I am on this particular medication and that I am finally starting to feel some relief from the anxiety, my insomnia and I'm just generally feeling quite a lot better.  

Here's what happened. 

"Wow, Mad Widow, beloved daughter, I am so very very glad to hear that!"

Just kidding. 

Here's what really happened. 

(insert scrunched up face here, and put on a snide tone) 

"You're gonna get hooked on that ... stuff!"

Sigh. 

That Night That I Broke

I published this publicly on a writer's website and want to include it here too

I have experienced what even perfect strangers would deem a series of unfathomably horrific events serially for going on almost the past 2 years now. It culminated, or so I thought, on February 4, 2018 when my utterly beloved 49 year old husband Chad died unexpectedly, leaving me in absolute despair, adrift and struggling nearly to breathe, much less function.

Then, it got worse. The days after his death were indeed worse. But I somewhat knew to expect that. The days after his funeral were the very worst (I thought) after everyone went home, went back to their normal lives and I felt like I was standing in the ashes of a fire that erupted hot, burned fast, and left ashes of everything around me.

Then the night of May 21st, 2018 happened.

I was cleaning out the very last of the house to move, the closets, the one task I had forgotten to do. Unfortunately for me, I had to do it alone. Every friend I asked was unavailable or busy — which tends to happen when you say the word “move”.

So I went over to my house at about 7 after working all day, eating, changing and started clearing the closets out. But every damn thing had a memory because closets are where you jam stuff you don’t want to throw out, you want to keep, but you don’t really need to use.

It was hard, very hard. I managed not to cry until I got to this.

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“Mom’s tip jar” in the laundry room. Where I would humorously tip myself with all the stuff that ended up in everyone’s pockets before I put it in the laundry. I found about $27 in there, many lipsticks, lots of rocks, and assorted hair things. It had been pushed back behind some things for many years and I had forgotten about it.

Despite my best efforts, tears started streaming down my face.

Not 2 minutes later, in another closet I fled to avoid the remainder of the laundry room, I found the blanket that we brought Chad’s service dog Stanley, as a puppy, home from the airport in. Right under that was my son’s space themed crib sheets and his space themed twin bed sheets he slept on until he was 15 years old. He would make me wash them and put them right back on, there was no spare set for that boy, it was space-space-space and he’s off to college soon to do something space related.

That last set of sheets is when I 100% lost it. I Lost My Shit, trade marked and all. I hugged his space sheet set, tossed aside my glasses and sat on the stairs and sobbed. And I don’t mean cried, or regular sobbed. I mean body breaking, painful, cannot even fucking breathe, and I was very sure I would never survive pain this horribly deep.

It broke me.

Everyone has their limits. And honestly? My limit is higher than any person I know. But, I hit mine.

That pain was worse than when Chad died, worse than after the funeral when I felt stranded and alone. Now, all of my loss hit me at once: Chad, my son, my dog, Chad’s dog, my house, Chad’s caregiver. I had even started a new job only weeks before Chad died so absolutely nothing in my life was the same anymore. In a word: my entire life was gone. Just. Gone. In a few weeks time, my entire world turned upside down and everything fell out.

The enormity of that hit me all at once, on those stairs, hugging those sheets. I sobbed so long and hard that the entire sheet set was completely drenched wet. I have no idea how long I sat there. I have never before, and I hope to Christ, to never ever wail like that again. Loss this profound is unfathomable until it happens to you.

The best analogy I can think to describe how I have fundamentally broken and will not be the same ever again is of a piece of paper.

I used to be a piece of paper that had lots of writing on it, colorful and crazy and fun, many wonderful things were written on it, some not so great things, lots of drawings — it was full but had more space, that piece of paper. Looking at it made you smile. And the piece of paper that was me did have a few folds and wrinkles here in there, but for the most part, it was intact.

That night, May 21, 2018 is when the universe crumpled that piece of paper that is me up, wadded me into a very tight ball and discarded me like a piece of trash.

Slowly, I have managed since to untangle a little bit, to straighten myself out a tiny bit, and I am in the process of trying to be a regular readable, recognizable piece of paper again. But I feel so much worse than I ever did before. Before it was a mixture of numbness and sadness. Now it is real. Not surreal. Real-real. Too real. Devastatingly achingly real.

And even if some magic English butler found the piece of paper that is me, carefully flattened me out, steamed me, and pressed me with an iron back into a perfectly flat piece of paper …. this piece of paper will always be visibly and obviously wrinkled and damaged from what she has been through.

And in a cosmic twist straight from the most demented Disney movie imaginable, that night, May 21, 2018 is the eve of the 30th anniversary of Chad’s catastrophic spinal cord injury at age 19 that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down later that night at 2 am on May 22, 1988. So, on May 21, 2018 as I sat on those steps, 30 years ago, Chad was taking his very last steps on the earth for a few hours before ending up in a wheelchair for the remaining 29 years and 9 months of his life. I wonder how many times he relived that last night of walking in his head?

I wonder how many times I will relive that night that I broke in my head?

Is This My Life Now?

Super weird encounter at Mexican joint down the street tonight.  I was sitting at the bar, eating, totally minding my own beeswax, when some random dude hits on me. Very badly I should add.

He said to me, 100%, completely, and I mean totally out of the blue to me - with no intro - “you’re a teacher right?”. 

Uh no.  Did you assume this because I’m a middle aged woman you sexist pig? 

I replied by stretching my hand out, firmly shook his and and said “hi I’m Dr. Mad Widow” back to him primly because I felt like being an asshole back. He shut up then. 

Ugh.

They Wrote A Check To A Dead Man And Now I'm Stuck

Today was a very bad day. 

I got a check for $1100 from Chad's employer as a refund of the insurance premiums that were deducted from his pay, but he did not benefit from, from Feb 5 to Feb 28 since he, uh, kicked the bucket on Feb 4. So I went to my new bank where the account is only in my name, took his death certificate - hell, I always have it with me these days, I practically need it to order at a restaurant it seems - and my legal signing powers as the executor of his estate.  I signed the check and tried to deposit it into my account. They wouldn't let me. I argued with them for 20 minutes. Tough shit was the answer. 

So I went next to the Chad's bank, where we still have a joint account but with nothing in it, where they are MUCH more reasonable usually. But, I got the same damn song and dance. They at least told me to try calling the state and ask them to reissue the check in my name. So I did, sitting in the lobby. His employer said "So sorry, the funds were withheld from his paycheck so we can refund them only to him". To which I snappily and quite rudely replied "YOU DO KNOW THE MAN IS DEAD RIGHT??? And this is WHY you mailed a DEAD man a check RIGHT??????" And yes I raised my voice, and YES all people in the bank stopped and stared at me. The person on the other end of the phone said it was the bank's policy problem, not their problem, and hung up on me. I kinda can't blame her I was super rude. 

I went back up to teller, asked for the bank manager, explained the whole sorry situation, this time while crying, holding my legal executor status, his death certificate, and our bank account info - from which his name has not been formally removed I should note - and plead. No go. 

So guess what. I am just fucking out of $1100. Wonderful. 

I Am Tired Of Being Brave

I always have and always will be the bravest person I know. I just wish it involved tapings boy's posters on the ceiling using a tall scary ladder instead all of .... well, this shit. 

Today Chad's insurance called AGAIN to schedule his mandatory or his coverage will be cancelled yearly physical (I have told these people now 3 times he’s DEAD).

Also, Bank of America would not let me cash my own check (as in made out to “cash”) because the bank manager felt my signature did not match what they had on file. I had given her my BoA debit card, my actual drivers license and that wench knows me because I argued with her about Chad's check yesterday. 

I really don’t know how I’m still doing all this.

 

I Can't Wear My Wedding Rings

To my shock, within weeks of his death, wearing my wedding rings made me profoundly sad.  Each time I looked at them, I saw the beautiful ring that he had picked out for me carefully, surprised with me, and I had worn for well more than a decade.  It was an unusual ring for a wedding set - it was a sapphire engagement ring to start and the wedding band was my grandmother's, and both were antiques.  I was constantly fielding compliments on them.  But even looking at them made me beyond sad.  

I had thought, if you had asked me before he died in a theoretical sense of becoming a widow, because it truly never crossed my mind in a real capacity, that I would be one of those widows that would wear her wedding set for the rest of her life.  But if not life, at least a few years.  

But here I sat, mere days after his party-funeral, incredibly sad and wanting to take my rings off.  Yet societal expectations weighed heavily on me.  What if someone who knows me noticed me without my rings and said something?  What if I got hit on by a single guy who thought it was ok to do so because I am unmarried as per my left ring finger?  Both would SUCKKKKKKK.  

Due to basically serendipity, I came up with this compromise.  I bought this beautiful ring .... for myself, that I wear on my left ring finger.    

I have long long long wanted a true "Princess Diana" ring and he always wanted to buy me one.  But for various reasons, we never bought one.  Now, this ring makes me REALLY happy every time I look at it.  He would have picked this out and bought it for me in a millisecond - and I bought it in time to wear on our first anniversary apart, earlier this month.  

Now, my marital status is ambiguous if you ask my left hand.  I like it that way, because that it exactly how I feel too.  And my left hand makes me happy now.  I like it that way.  

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Everything Changes

I didn't notice this one until just now. I was turning the lights on and off the way I wanted them and saw this .... even how I have the lights named in my bedroom has to change. It was called "wheelchair stand up" because it is a tall skinny lamp and it was near where his wheelchair sat where he was in bed and it was not being used.  I don't know how to change it because Chad was the tech guy who set all this up. But now that I have noticed it, I really need to change it because it is going to bother me.

We used our iphones/ipads to control lights so that he could do it too. He had the entire house wired via wifi to do everything himself. He was amazing that way. You name it, he could do it wifi with his mouthstick. He could even open and shut the garage door himself independently. And the boy was in the middle of building him a backup camera for his wheelchair when became too incapable to use his wheelchair (last summer basically). 

Man, this sucks.

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Crocodile Rock?

The weirdest thing just happened to me.  

I feel good.  

Like, really really good.  Normal good.  Almost too good.  

Then Crocodile Rock came on my car stereo and I ..... rolled down the windows, cranked it up and sang along with it (even though I don't know all the words) at the top of my lungs, hair blowing .....

And I loved it. 

Super. 

Weird.