Monday, February 13, 2017

3rd Year and Final Blog Post

Saturday, Feb 11 2017 my husband has resided in heaven for 3 years.
3 years! There are still days when it feels like the other day and days when it feels like such a long time ago.
I'm adjusting, adapting, accepting. You would think by now I would be through but there are still situations that occur that I need to adjust to. Changes in my life I need to adapt to and changes I must accept. Thus is life and this is mine.
Some days I want to scream "You left me behind"
Some days I smile at the thought of my husband.
I can't think of a day that goes by he doesn't pass through my mind.
Tears aren't sitting behind my eyes although I can still get caught off guard and fight them back.
It's progress.
I make plans, I'm active in caregiver support and Lewy Body Dementia support. I co authored a caregiving book. I've traveled. I enjoy my job, I love the time I get to spend with my family.
I stay busy on purpose, sometimes too busy but with the help and guidance of the Lord I'll find a balance.
I'm doing ok.
So, in the words of an old Gospel Hymn

"I don't know about tomorrow
I just live for day to day
I don't borrow from the sunshine
For it's skies may turn to gray
I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand" - Ira Stanphill

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Breathe, step forward, repeat

The seasons changed from Summer to fall.
The fall changed to winter even though the temperatures haven't realized the time of year it is.
The time changed, the weather changed, the leaves changed and fell.

The holidays are in full swing and almost over with now. This year I decided I needed to do something, anything more than I have been in the past few years, especially last year. Last year was the first without my husband. Had it not been for writing it down I probably couldn't tell you what I did last year.
The year came and went at break neck speed for the longest time.
I read something that was the greatest description. Sleepwalking. The first year I was sleepwalking but functioning. The second year I'm still sleepwalking but waking periodically

When that happens I stop and think to myself, Is this really my life?
The answer is always, yes.

So as the changes still come, I am learning a new normal. Something I had to learn to do as a caregiver, a new normal, often.
I am embracing the moments I can spend with my family. I am letting go of self doubt and I'm embracing the job I love and the new friends and co workers my heart has made.

I prayerfully prepared for the worst of emotions as the big things happened, Thanksgiving, Anniversary, Christmas. The emotional worst didn't happen but the emotional minors did. I still get caught off guard by the little things sometimes. A friend warning me about social media "widow trolls" asked me if I had changed my relationship status from married to widow yet. No, I can't bring myself to do it. A little word but it has a huge impact on my emotional well being. My heart is still married. I miss my husband, maybe I always will. Still taking one day at a time some days.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

18 months

It's not as consistently close as it used to be but I still see it. Out of the corner of my eye I keep watch on it.
"Stay busy and it wont bother you", I tell myself. That's true to some degree.
Sometimes I have to dodge it. I know it will sting so I drop everything and run around a corner to hide from it. My heart racing and breath heavy but I try to keep those in check. I close my eyes, take a breath and step out to carry on with the day.

It's been 18 months since my husband moved into his eternal home.
A year and one half.
I still feel like I need to fight to get through some days. Mostly the all alone days.
They are getting better though.
I'm not wallowing around in the grief, it just feels like a little black cloud that comes out of nowhere and I can't outrun or hide from for very long before it rains on me.

This is not my first experience in dealing with death. My mother died, my grandparents have all died, friends and loved ones have died.
This, this is so different in many ways.
One of the oddest is the change in relationship with others. This is going to sound funny so bear with me.

I LOVE the job I have, the people I work with, the people I associate with! I'm happy, healthy, ok ok I have some improvement that can be made but don't we all? I'm emotionally stable. I'm truly doing well overall and fighting grief is all part of the process. In other words, I'm normal. Stop laughing now.

For a little while I wasn't sure though. 
I was experiencing something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I finally asked other remaining spouses if they had the same thing and the answer has been YES. So, here it is.

At first there was a detachment to all others. It felt like I was all alone in a very crowded room. Then I connected to a core group of family but it felt like everyone else was far away. In making progress it started to feel like I was getting closer to others but there was a wall between us. Eventually the wall thinned and came down. Yet now, even though I can  appreciate and enjoy others, I have this odd sensation that we are still separated by plastic wrap. That's the best I can explain it. I can reach out and touch and interact but still not making complete contact with everyone. It's a very odd sensation and I hope it wont last a long time. I

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm ok even when it doesn't feel like it.

It's been over a year since my husband passed on to his eternal home in Heaven and escaped lewy body dementia.
I'm doing well, I attended grief recovery.
I have interests, I have friends.
I'm carving out a new life for me.
I volunteer so I can help someone else, I work.
Life keeps moving forward, I'm moving with it.
My heart is still married.
The days are softer, I can speak of my husband without tears escaping. 
I can laugh and remember fondly and remember the truth about our life and how hard it could be at times. 
I didn't place him on a pedestal.
I'm doing the things I would have wanted had I been the one that passed first. 

I'm not lonely, I just don't like being alone for a lot of things.
Yes, I'm doing well but even in that, I occasionally have a day when I feel overwhelmed by his absence and I missed him so very much.
It's normal and it's going to happen again I am pretty sure.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Holidays, Anniversaries and We, Oh My

Holidays, Anniversaries and We, Oh My

I knew they were coming. You can't stop them from arriving so I prepared myself for them. I prayed for peace and strength of heart. I think, to some degree I braced myself for the emotional upheaval by putting up a wall of emotional distance, I chose to do something very different for Thanksgiving. The day turned out to be really good.
I got through it.

2 days later was my anniversary, or , would have been my 33rd anniversary. I spent the day not rehashing the bad but appreciating how my life was changed for the better when I met my husband.
I then gifted myself with a bedroom makeover project. It's time for a bedroom for me. I had already removed all of hospital equipment. I knew the floor needed new carpet. It was a major idea but I started stripping wallpaper that day.
I got through it.

It was a few days later when I was knee deep into my project that emotional wall came down and I had a melt down. Part feeling a little overwhelmed by my decision, part feeling like I was removing my husband from the intimate part of our house.
I prayed for peace, because it hurt.

Christmas was coming. My mind went through all of the traditions I normally carried out but had scaled back when my husband became so ill. 
Was I going to do those again? 
Could I even do them? 
It's not that I hated Christmas, I love Christmas but I wasn't ready for the activity that required so much emotional involvement. 
I kept recalling that the last Dec seemed to be the drop off the cliff for my husband. I wasn't trying to think about it, it just kept creeping in. Again, I placed that wall of distance up and just wished Christmas would quietly slip by without the big production.
I stayed busy with work and that helped.
I thought about sending Christmas cards, but I never did. The cards received were eventually opened and appreciated but they too were set down in a pile. It was truly a struggle for my heart every time I checked the mailbox and got a card. The worst was when a card arrived addressed to both me and my husband, from a friend, whom knew.
I kept things very simple and quiet. A small table top tree was displayed so I didn't appear to be a scrooge and I made one small batch of cookies on Christmas day at the request of my son. I put the tree on the table a couple of days before , it still had one ornament from last year. Plugging it in was the best it got. It was Jesus birthday anyway so I didn't feel bad for basically concentrating on that and asking Him to carry me through these difficult days and nights.
I enjoyed the happy times with my children and grandsons
I got through it.

New Years Day always had traditions too. I didn't normally care for them but they were important to my husband so every year I cooked his New years tradition.
My FaceBook status: Black eyed peas and hog jowl cooking. Some traditions are hard to break even if you don't necessarily like them and now they make you cry.
I got through it.

January came with it's own issues. The previous Jan was a struggle for my husband and his eventual admission to the hospital and subsequent Hospice inpatient stay. The tears seemed to flow on their own. No purposeful lingering or reflections about the year before. As if my mind did as it chose. I accepted it as it came and acknowledged the thoughts. I also reminded myself it was normal and I was ok and would be ok.
I found myself still involved in my bedroom project. It seemed like it was taking forever. I also made one other decision to get myself out of the money crunch so I could do a few things for myself, like my bedroom redo. I had my satellite turned off.
I don't miss it.

February came. And with it the realization that our, my 15 yr old dog had a tumor. I had to put Lady, aka Elvis because my husband couldn't remember her name, down on Feb 9th. Then the 11th marked the one year anniversary of my husband's heavenly birthday. I chose to work that day and I realized my emotions were sitting right behind my eyes so I stayed in my office catching up on paperwork most of the day with the blessing of my boss. She just let me do what I felt I needed to get through the day. Her support has been a true blessing. I took a long lunch with my daughter and son in law. I spoke, text or received a text from each of the other kids. I have a very supportive family. I love them all so much. We lean on one another and build each other up.
The kids and I decided to have a commemorative gathering but we couldn't all get together on that particular day so we chose the weekend. Sat was in the 70s! What a beautiful day! BUT, we had already set aside picked Sun afternoon. The weather took a turn and it was 31 degrees, and windy. Due to the cold, some of the family couldn't attend but those of us that could, bundled up. We wrote notes and attached them to balloons. They were supposed to sail off into the sky. Umm yeah, things didn't go exactly as planned. Many of the balloons got tangled in a tree. Thanks wind.
  But I will say, the tree was pretty.

Afterward, we went out to eat.
We got through it.

Our daughter said it beautifully: “This last year has been a stinging year of "firsts" without Dad. First birthdays, first holidays, first everything. Tomorrow is our last first because tomorrow is the first anniversary of Dad's passing. And while we miss him like crazy, I take comfort in knowing his year was profoundly better than it would have been had he been with us still. His first time to be completely healed, first time seeing Jesus, first opportunity to worship in God's physical presence. What a sad year it's been here on earth, but what an amazing year for him it must have been. Tomorrow I will not mourn, but instead I will celebrate because this last year was Dad's best year, by far.”

So one year is passed. Some days it still feels like yesterday. Some days it feels like a lifetime.
I'm moving forward, one day at a time still. I make plans, I have have fun. I laugh, I still cry, not as much. I finally finished my bedroom project with the help of my daughter and son in law. I'm making a life for me and I can talk about my husband with fewer tears of sorrow. My biggest thing I realize is that I still refer to “us” “we” “our”. I wonder how long that will continue? However long it takes, I know one thing.
I'll get through it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I think I reached a milestone of sorts the other day.
Another "click" moment if you will.
Alone time has not been easy for me. The silence is very difficult but with lots of prayer, I am learning to adjust and be okay with it. Since I started working / volunteering, I've kept myself busy so I don't have to face too much alone time, but the inevitable happens on days off and I am plunged into the silence. I work in the yard and in the house as it needs. The silence looms like a heavy cloud.
I finally passed through some deep feelings and I no longer go to my bed with a heavy heart and cry, I no longer fall apart where I stand, tears don't come every day for some reason another.
What I do have are moments when I feel like I'm going to cry, busy or not. I don't have those moments every day, mainly when I am alone do they sneak up and sit behind my eyes ready to roll. I blink them back.
But I noticed this last day I was alone, I didn't have the urge to cry at all. And that was a huge thing. I realized it while I was snuggling into bed and reflecting on the day.

I debated if I wanted to share this encounter because I know we all grieve differently but it made a huge impact on me.
I met a woman one day, her face reflected that she was obviously distressed and sad. I asked if she was okay. She replied that she was having a hard time with things since her husband died and being a widow was so hard. For a moment I thought she was going to cry. I thought I was going to cry. I told her my husband had died too so I understood a little of how she was feeling. We shared a little between each other and I wished her well as she walked away. Her grief was so obvious and it hurt my heart to see. I don't remember if I prayed for her but I sure hope I did.
I encountered her again a few weeks later. Same disposition, same woe, same distress in her face and appearance. I recognized her grief. I have had that extent too. Again, I asked her if she was okay and again, she relayed the same story. I didn't remember if I asked her how long her husband had been gone the first time, I assumed recently based on her level of grief. I remember asking this time. Her answer, 8 years. 8 years! I was stunned and afraid and felt guilty.
I was stunned by the length of time she was feeling this level of grief.
I was (am) afraid that I would get stuck in my own grief and not move through it like that. I can't imagine feeling like that for such a long time. I can't imagine feeling like I do right now for such a long time and that is where...
my guilt fell into place, She was grieving that deep after 8 yrs, It's only been 8 months and I don't even feel that intense any longer.
It doesn't mean I don't love my husband, just that I know I need to move forward to have a life without him. He will never come back but will always remain a huge part of my life for the rest of my life. His death was like a physical tearing away and it hurt (s) but there is healing and I embrace that. I pray for it actually.

So I went an entire day without wanting to cry and it was like a relief. I don't expect every day to be like that but at least I know they are possible.

The next day, while working, a coworker and I were retrieving items from an outside storage area and stocking them. It was overcast with a threat of rain and a little dreary and cool. We were carrying the items on a furniture trolly into the store . After we it loaded, we got a running start with it to go up the slope toward the main building. On the way back down I had a "free spirit" moment and sat on the trolly. I tried to encourage my co worker to ride with me but she declined. Although, she did offer to give me a push, and she did. We were laughing and squealing like school girls when the trolly headed for the side of the storage building. And for a moment, after such a long time I thought, "It feels good to be alive"

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cornbread and Buttermilk

I've been staying busy, a good busy.
I feel abundantly blessed with a job that fills my desire to help others and give back.
I meet the most interesting and precious people. I meet some cantankerous ones too but they are few and far between.

I feel like I'm doing well. I'm sleeping quite well and I no longer need my antidepressant or anxiety meds.
I am glad they were available to help me cross that deep part of the river of tears.

I'm finding joy, I laugh, hard sometimes. I cherish whatever time I get with those I love. I make plans, not far off but still make them. I look forward to things. I'm learning to navigate this new life void of my husband. It isn't always easy but it's getting easier and I'm doing it.

I've had a few observations about me.

  1. I'm looking at men. Hold on now, it's not what you think! I realized, I'm looking for my husband. Anything that reminds me of him, walk, talk, clothing, hair. Odd as it sounds.
  2. The change in the weather makes some days more difficult. Rain, cold I find myself missing my husband more.
  3. Once our children grew up, married and their family extended I decided I wouldn't put a lot of undue stress on them by insisting we have family Thanksgiving Dinner. In fact, any time I get to spend with my family is considered Thanksgiving to me yet I find myself anxious about the upcoming Holiday. I guess, even though we never did much, at least Hubby and I were together. I am looking into perhaps serving at a local church dinner or nursing home.
  4. I was sharing the fact with someone that, my husband had died. Later in the conversation that person referred to me as widow. My brain exploded and it screamed “You shut your mouth!” but outwardly, I only nodded in agreement

And, I still have those caught off guard moments.
Today I talked with the sweetest older couple.
The gentleman was telling about dating his wife -then girlfriend -61 years ago. They had a difference in height so he would stand a step or 2 below her to give her a kiss goodnight after returning her to her front porch and her waiting father.
The lady beamed and added, “that was before we had air conditioner”
The gentleman continued by saying that her father was waiting at the window and if an attempt to have more than one kiss was made, the father would have a coughing fit. We all laughed really hard.
It was obvious they were still deeply in love.
She said they had been blessed with a wonderful marriage, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as good health. I loved hearing their story. He chirped in and said, “You know what keeps me healthy? Cornbread and buttermilk”
That's when I felt it, tears were welling and there was no stopping it. I had to excuse myself and go to another room for a little while to compose myself.
You see, my husband loved cornbread and buttermilk.
It's always the little things.