Posted in grief, living forward, widow

One Day More

Pat died at the age of 44 years, 6 months and 1 day.  That’s all the life he had to live and boy did he live it.  Today marks my one day more.  One day more is something he would have wanted more than anything.  And now here I am… I have been living one day more than he was given to live.  Its a day that is bringing me mixed emotions.  One, I am realizing how young he was when he had to leave this world.  I couldn’t imagine having to say goodbye to everyone and everything right now.  I am too young.  Two, I am feeling the pressure to truly live life.  I feel like from this point forward I need to embrace life and take every opportunity I have to live and love.  I am doing this for the both of us.  I know I have felt that way since he died, but right now it seems more real than ever.

thankful

The past three and half years…I can’t believe we are there already…has been such a crazy roller coaster for me.  I have been in the depths of hell and I have found my way out again.  There were times I didn’t know what in the world I was doing, where I was headed, what I wanted or if I even deserved any of it.  I have been completely lost, alone and frightened.  And then there were times of great clarity.  Times were I could see an amazing future for myself.  I saw opportunities and ideas and dreams that I had never deemed possible before.  I was given a new perspective on life and the world in which we live.  I discovered my inner strength, realized I don’t give a shit about what others think about me and my choices and started to try to live my life again on my own terms.

This hasn’t always been an easy path…it definitely was not a straight path that my journey has taking me on.  But looking back I am amazed at all the self discovery and soul-searching I have done to lead me to where I am right now.  I had crazy ideas and thoughts about where I was headed at times.  I tried so many different things and routes to take before I came full circle and found my peace again.  I found my place.  I didn’t think that was ever going to happen again for me.  I thought I would be a lost soul forever.

But here I am.

Three and half years later, I am finally in a job that I love, working with people I truly enjoy, comfortable (as much as any parent can be) with raising three boys on my own, I have cut people out of my life and I have found someone new that makes me happy.  I am proud with how far I have come and I am aware of the fact that I am just beginning.

beginning

I am 44 years, 6 months and 1 day old.  I am barely mid-life at this point (at least I hope).  There is so much living and loving and learning left for me to do.

And now I am going to do it not just for me, but for Pat…in his memory, in thanksgiving of all he gave to me, for the life he deserved to be a part of….I am going to try to make him proud and truly live.

One day more may be all I get and I don’t want to waste it a single minute of it.

Posted in grief, living forward, widow, year of self-care

A year of self-care

2017 came to an end.

I was given a gift of a two-week vacation from school and work. I had hoped that I would have felt recharged, refreshed and ready to start 2018.  I wanted to use my two weeks to reflect and refocus on where I am, where I’ve come and where I want to see myself this year.  Unfortunately, the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 brought my a cold and sickness that I just couldn’t seem to kick.  I came into the year more exhausted then I left the last.  I knew I wanted 2018 to be a bit more about me then the years that have passed, but after the way the year started I now know that it is a must.

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I have been reflecting on the past 2 1/2 years since Pat died and all the different places I have been and the crazy thoughts that have gone through my head.  Looking back is way easier to see what I was doing then when I was actually living it, hind sight is always clearer.  A friend told me that my first year after Pat died would be the year of Denise.  That I would  need to do whatever I needed to do.  I thought that sounded amazing.  I thought that was what it was.  But it wasn’t.  It was a year of survival.  It was a year of grace.  I had to learn how to make it on my own,living in this deep fog that we widows experience.  I had that year allowing myself to be in the pain and the grief and just put my head down and go through the motions.  It wasn’t about me.  It was about survival…for all of us.

The second year I then thought I was ready for a year about me.  I even quit my job and took some time to learn about who I was know that Pat was gone.  I am definitely not the same person as I use to be, but I had no idea who this was.  I had time but it didn’t turn out to be about me either.  It was about learning how to run the household…how to take on all the new roles and responsibilities that were left in my hands.  It was also a year about the kids.  Taking care of their grief needs and school needs and everything else that comes with raising three boys on my own.  It was a year of learning, not a year about taking care of me.

This third year has been about getting back out in the world and finally coming to this new normal everyone has been talking about.  I went back to work doing something different from my past jobs and tried to find a new path for my life.  I have slowly started to get a handle on the finances of the house and making plans for the future.  It’s been about getting the boys back out into life and active with their friends and school activities.  This has led me to devoting all my time and energy to them.  I understand this is what parenting is all about, but I am utterly exhausted not having a tag out to someone, anyone at anytime.  This is 100% on me and boy am I feeling it.

This has led me to my focus on a year of self-care.  I want to change the perception that taking time for yourself and putting yourself from time to time is not selfish…it is necessary.  You can not be good for others if you are drained.  You can not pout from an empty pitcher.  You need to provide yourself oxygen before you can help others reach their oxygen.  It isn’t wrong to care for you…it is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

I realize this is an intentional act I will have to focus on everyday because being a working parent I am pulled in so many directions that I can lose track of where I am headed.  So I am mapping out a plan for myself and I hope others do the same.  This year has to be a little bit about me.  I have to take care of myself; body, mind and spirit.  Everyday I need to take at least five minutes to focus on me.  This could be for meditation, or reading, or walking, or sit ups or writing or anything that I want to do.  Everything else can wait for five minutes.

I am also going to work on letting guilt go.  My kids do not need everything they think they need right when they think they need it.  I am going to give myself the gift of not feeling guilty for not giving them everything.  I am going to put some of my needs and wants ahead of their demands (because they aren’t typically needs anyways).  I am going to schedule some me time to do what I need to do for me.  Not what I need to do for them.  I will take care of me, even if it seems stupid to others and give myself some time to reboot, recharge and refresh my spirit.

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This is hard.

This is so hard with three demanding boys standing over me asking to be driven somewhere, or to buy them something or to make them dinner.  But they can wait.  They can wait for me to get my head together and take a deep breath and remember what life is about.

Life is about love.  It is about finding happiness and peace and love in the smallest of things.  It is not about having the most, or being famous or having the busiest social life.  It is about finding your place in the world and being at peace with where you are.

In order to find this, you have to look.

In order to look, you have to take some time for you.

If all the focus is on others and at the end of the day you are emotionally, physically and mentally drained, you will never be able to find the peace you deserve.  The peace I deserve.

So this is my challenge to you…make it a year of self-care.  Make an intentional effort to be about you, just a little bit and then let’s see where we are in year from now…or even a month from now.  I’m ready for some time to discover me and do what is best for me.  I believe that if I am happy and settled in my life, then everything else should fall into place.  I will be a better mom, a better daughter, a better friend, a better employee…just better.

It’s a worth a try, at least that’s what I think.

 

 

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

Tomorrow’s happiness does not erase the past

double heart

I love Pat.  I have loved him since I met him at the age of 21.  I spent half of my life with the man.  I fell in love with him, I married him,  I carried his children…I took care of him when he was sick, I held him as he took his last breath in this world, I love him still today.  These are the facts and there is no denying any of them.

But time keeps ticking.  Life continues on.  You have a choice to continue to live without your love beside you and search for a new path…a new future, or you can choose to sit in sorrow, missing your late spouse forever feeling alone, lost, confused and desperate.

I have decided to live and find a new path.  I opened my mind, and more importantly, I opened my heart.  I took the risk and put myself out there and I found someone to let in again.  I didn’t think this was possible.  I didn’t think I could ever open myself up to someone or be able to have loving feelings for anyone else…I didn’t understand how this is possible when my heart is filled with so much love for Pat.  I have read about others having what the widow world calls a chapter 2.  I have heard others stories about being surprised by falling in love again.  But I couldn’t possibly wrap my brain around how this could actually happen.  I didn’t believe it.   I think that is what people who haven’t lost their spouse thinks as well.  It doesn’t make any sense…until you are there, living it and then it all makes sense.

 

replacing

I read it somewhere that loving again is like growing a second heart.  I get that now.  Loving someone new has absolutely nothing to do with loving Pat.  It is absolutely amazing and so hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it.  A new love is completely different, completely separate from the first.  It doesn’t replace the love or erase it or mean you are even healed.  It simply means your heart is still beating.  You are still alive and capable of so much.

 

I believe that the meaning of life is to love, as simple as that.  To love and grow and share it with others.  Without love there is no reason for anything.  There is no purpose greater than to love.  I have love in my heart and have enough room in there to love more than one person without taking anything from either one.

I don’t believe that my past defines me.  And I don’t believe that my work towards having a new path in life erases anything I had with Pat.  My future can’t take away anything from my past.  Everything that has happened to me, and everything means Pat and his love, has led me to this exact moment and place in my life.  It has brought me to the door of new possibilities and new love.

Some say it is too soon.  Some say I couldn’t have really loved Pat if I could find another.  Some say I should be alone and in mourning for much, much more time.  Some say a lot.  But the reality of it all is that I am not some.  I am me.  I am living this.  This is my story, my life.  I have experienced it.   They don’t understand…they don’t understand anything, even though they claim they do.  There is no way they could possibly.

letting go

And I am happy that they don’t understand.  I wish on no one the pain and loss I have experienced.  I believe it is time for me to find some happiness.  Let me have love,  let me have my life.  I don’t need to be weighed down with judgments, or thoughts, or opinions.

 

I am tired of trying to make others understand the unexplainable.   This is my chance at tomorrow’s happiness and it does not in any way erase my past.  It only adds to my story.

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

Indecision and unhappiness

I have been unhappy lately. And in trying to figure out what is making me unhappy I do what I always do….I think and analyze, and reanalyze and over analyze and drive myself crazy until my head is completely messed up and I don’t know which way is up anymore. And then I stop and have a moment of clarity and things make sense again.  What I realized this time is that I simply don’t know what I am doing.  I have a lot of thoughts, and dreams and ideas, but I have no plan.  I am afraid of a plan; of taking the step into really doing and living.

I had a plan once.  In fact I had my life all planned out and it was amazing.   I knew what we wanted, where we going and what we were doing…as much as one can.  I was happy with the plan and working towards all that we wanted.

But that plan was demolished the day he died…actually it was over the day we received the diagnosis of cancer, I just didn’t realize it yet.  Everything I had planned for my life was tipped over on its side.  At first it was just that…a bit shaken. A bump in the road… something we were going to get through and then continue back on to our planned route of life.  But as time went by and he got sicker and sicker and eventually died, my life and plans were not just shaken but my world was turned upside down.

I’ve spent the time since his death trying to get back on my own two feet and feel a sense of balance or control over my life.  At times I think I am feeling secure in my position, but then I get knocked off-balance again and taken to the ground.  It’s like spinning in circles and getting dizzy.  When you stop you can feel like you are on solid ground, but your head keeps spinning and you fall to your knees.  That is how I feel.  The world just keeps spinning and I keep falling down.

I keep getting back up though.  I keep pressing on and trying to figure it out.  But I what I figured out today is that I don’t have a plan for my life because I am terrified of it being taken from me.  I am afraid of setting out on another path and having tragedy destroy it again.  I am scared of losing again.  Maybe if I don’t plan on anything or have  no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed.  But I am.   I am disappointed in myself.  This isn’t me.  Not even the new me.  I set goals.  I make plans.  I work towards something.  I dream and I live.  But I am not…I haven’t really since he died.  I’ve talked
about it, but I haven’t really done it.  I haven’t really done anything.  I haven’t been able to decide which direction to take or where I should go.

My epiphany today:

My indecision with life is a decision for my life and I am not happy with that decision…at all.

So what do I do now?  That is the part of my clarity that always
gets me…now I know what the problem is and why I am feeling a certain way, but I must do something about it.  I am not going to sit herindecisione knowing what is making me unhappy and complain about it or feel sorry for myself.  I have to do something about it… Not just think about it, or read about it, or even talk about it. I need to make a decision and whether or not it succeeds or fails, at least I got out there and did something with my life.

Though, I feel like I could stay in this place I am in forever.  My life could pass along quickly and I would be fine…but I want more than just fine.  I want amazing.  I want an amazing life.  All the pieces are right in front of me.  There are a lot of opportunities and possibilities and people in my path that I simply need to embrace.  I know this.  I honestly have known this for some time.  I was just happy with indecision and fear and being stuck in this place.  I have been justifying where I am at and making excuses for myself and for  my lack of motivation.  But that has gotten me nowhere but a place of unhappiness.

I am in control of my own destiny and happiness.  All the opportunities and possibilities and pieces can all be brought to my door,  but if I don’t make the move and do something with them, they will simply sit at my doorstep wasted forever or even worse,  move along to someone who is willing to take the risk.   I want to be that person.  I have to be that person or what is this life I have been given really for.

I know what I want in the big scheme of life.  It’s the little steps I am unsure of.  I have to start putting my focus and heart into reaching for what I want.  I have to realize my strength and see all that I have overcome already.  I can handle if things don’t go perfectly…because I know they won’t.  I may make some bad decisions but I can survive that and learn from them and try again.
Losing Pat has taught me that much.  I am strong and determined and I am not going to be held down forever.  God has a plan for me and instead of just sitting here waiting for it to be handed to me, I am going to start trying to find it.   He won’t lead me wrong.

I need to see what is right in front of me.

I need to make a plan and go after it.

I need to make a decision and just see what happens.

I am not going to let indecision be my decision.  I’m going to take control and pray that eventually the spinning will stop and I will once again find myself back on solid ground.

destiny1

 

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

After the wedding vows have been fulfilled…

“In sickness and in health, til death due us part”…I lived my vows through and through.  I loved my husband, I cared for my husband and I was there until the very end.  I was by his side during every test, every appointment, every treatment, every moment.  There is no doubt that I loved him.   And yet as I have become a widow and have started to try and live forward in my life, I feel as though my love for him is being questioned, or doubted.  Me finding a life for myself does not take away anything from the love I had and still have for my husband.  Finding happiness and a new path is honoring him.  He would have given anything to  still be here living and loving.  Wvowshy would I simply curl up and mourn him forever and not live a life that I am lucky to have?  He would be screaming at me if I did.

We did a lot of talking to each other throughout his sickness and especially after the 6 month to live moment.  We talked about everything you can imagine.  We talked about the past, the present, our regrets, our hopes, our fears and we talked about what was heading our way as he was dying.  He told me everything he wanted for me.  He wanted me to take risks and do what I love.  He told me to get out of a job I hated and figure out what I truly believe in and spend my time doing that.  He told me to find happiness and live freely.  He wanted me to find love again, he wanted me to find my passion, and he wanted me to do this for him.  And so that is what I am trying to do.

It’s not easy though.  It’s really pretty damn hard.  It’s almost too much pressure for me at times.  I don’t want to disappoint him.  I don’t want to not fully take advantage of the gift of life I still have.  I want to see and do everything for him…in his memory.  But I am still unsure of what I am doing.  It’s been almost two years…in one sense that seems like a long time and in another it doesn’t.  I have accepted that my life that I had before is over.  I have acknowledged that I am no longer the same person who wants the same things out of life.  I have let people go and I have let people in.  It hasn’t been an easy two years in any way that you look at it.  I am still scared of losing…people I care about, things I love.  I am still scared of screwing up and taking risks and not finding my path.  And parenting….I can’t even begin to tell you how hard this is.  Doing this solo is practically breaking me.  And I do break…but I get up.  Each time I get up and dust myself off and figure it out.

That’s what we widows do….we figure it out.  People need to understand that our past life with our late spouses, and our new lives we are creating for ourselves are two separate entities.  We carry the pain and the love and the loss and everything that went with our former life forward with us into our new life, but we can never go back.  It is not an option for us.  We can not live as though it is or else we are destined to live a sad, lonely life.  And I am not going to do that.

My struggle on this day is that I am doing the best I can and yet I don’t feel like I am doing anything.  I am going through the days trying to make the right choices for me and the boys and trying to figure things out, but at the end of the day, I feel as though I am right back to where I started.   I am stuck at that starting line trying to figure out which foot to put in front of the other in order to get going.  I see many paths laid out in front of me and  I am full aware that it is up to me to make the choice, and start heading down the road of life again.  For some reason, I keep making a u-turn just as I am getting started.

So that’s where I’m with the on going battle in my head.  I am still making a couple more practice laps around the track of fear before I really strap on my running shoes and start living.  But I will do it.  And that is something that I keep reminding myself.  There is no timeline for this grief process or the healing process or for that matter, the whole process of life.  I just need to keep getting up and remember that I loved my husband and I gave him everything and all of me…and it is time for me to do the same for me.  That is what he would have wanted.

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

Come out of the shadows and live your truth

Finding my passion was the easy part.  I think I’ve always known that I wanted to write…I just never knew what to say.  Now I have something to say, but finding the hard part is living the truth of this passion.

Living your truth is a tough thing to do in our society where expectations of how you should look and how much money you should have are constantly shoved in your face.  People have their opinions as to how you should be and how you should be living your life.  But if you are truly living your truth than those things don’t matter.  You know who you are and how you want to live.  You listen to your heart and desires and let them shine through you.

This isn’t easy. I still have obligations and responsibilities to take care of.  For example, I have three boys to raise and a home to keep up.  Let’s just say a paycheck would come in handy.  But I am determined not to settle and to not stray from the path I want to be on for this journey of life.  I keep trying to remind myself that I am doing what is best for me and my family.  I feel balanced right now.  I feel content.  At least I have been, until this week.

This week brought on the pressures of the world.  I started feeling the shadows start to surround me again.  The shadows of fear trying to stop me in my tracks and make me turn around and take a safer path.  Yes, things would be easier financially if I went back to teaching or found a full-time job that paid the right salary.  But everything else in my life would fall out of balance.  My boys need me at home as much as possible.  Simple logistics would be messed up if I went back to a conventional job.  Not to mention the time I have given to myself would be lost.  This year of me is only in its fifth month and livefreeI feel it has served me well so far.  I have become so in touch with myself and my wants and needs in life.  I am just starting to feel at peace with life and settling into this new normal that people talked about since Pat died.  I am finding my center and I am discovering the wonders of life.  I don’t want to settle on any ol’ job just to make some money.  This week I have been spending the time I want to be spending on writing on searching for a job…a job I don’t want or need at the moment.

I am scared of the future.  I am scared of failing.  What if people don’t like what I write?  What if I can’t make any money doing what I love? What if my dreams aren’t successful?  What if?  What if? What if?  That is all that has been running through my mind the past few days.  I am driving myself crazy worrying about the future, when I want to live in the present and do as I am. When the fear sets in it paralyzes you and you can’t make a decision. I can’t make a decision.   I can’t listen to my heart.  I can’t live my truth.  It has to stop… now.

One day more.   I  believe that if I take this one day to refocus…refocus on my truth, then the shadows of fear will retreat yet again.  I will give myself one more day to hide in the shadows before I step  out and send them packing.  I see that this is an ongoing battle I am going to have to face again and again if I honestly want to live my passion, live my truth. I am terrified to face fear, but I need to live the truth I have discovered.  It’s worth the risk to live again.  Pat would expect nothing less of me.

Posted in grief, living forward, widow, widowhood

The gift of widowhood

In the first half of my life, that is before Pat died,  I thought I knew what life was all about. You grow up, you get a job, you get married, have kids, raise your family and someday if you are lucky to retire together as you grow old.  Obviously there are a few pieces of the puzzle missing from that story line, but that was the gist of what I thought life was about.  I always thought there would be time to do everything I wanted to do, or see.  I thought that I was too old or already on my path so that I couldn’t go live my dreams..if I was even sure what those were anymore.  Somewhere along the line in growing up, I think I lost touch with what I wanted as an individual…what I wanted out of life. The things that mattered to me got mixed up or something.   I think I slipped into the conformity of the world and thought stuff was important, and status was important, and a someday would come along when the time was right and I would get to do all that I ever wanted to do.  In short, I had my priorities all messed up.

As we all know, my life didn’t exactly turn out
the way I had thought it was going to.  Instead my husband got sick and died.  My life got turned upside down and I was left in a ball on the floor trying to figure out what to do next.  This was a terrible tragedy.  It was a nightmare of pain and suffering.  This was unfair…

This was a gift.

Now this took me a while to see…a positive coming out of losing the love of my life?  But I can see it now.  Something good did rise up from the ashes of my former life….my new life.  My new perspective.  My new attitude towards living.  My meaning of life has changed and for the better, in my opinion.

giftThis second chance or second chapter of my life is different.  I see things in such a different way.  I want to live and fully embrace the meaning of life.  I want to explore this world and experience it.  I want to do what I want to do.  I want to follow my heart and my passion.  I don’t want to settle.  I don’t want to give in.  I don’t want to worry about the little things.  There is so much more to life than things.  This leads me to living more simple.  I have been purging my house of belongings…of things I never needed.  I don’t want stuff anymore.  I want experiences…I want memories.  I want to do and I want to be.  I understand that life isn’t always that simple.  I am going to have to go back to work and do something to pay the bills eventually.  I am still going to have the mundane chores of life, but I see those different now too

Even though I won’t get everything I want,  that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up dreaming.  I am dreaming big these days and putting it out into the universe to see what comes back to me.  I am focusing on being positive and living my truth.  I know who I am.  I know what I want.  And I deserve to have it all.  We all do.  My all has simply changed since Pat left me.  It’s bigger than before.  It’s connected to my soul more.  I loved the life we
had.  I loved the plans we had together and would give anything to have him back to see them through.  But this is not an option we widows get to have.  I have to accept the change that was given to me…I need to embrace it and run forward into it.  This gift of a second chapter is an opportunity to truly live.  I am working on that principle.  I am listening to my heart and reaching for the stars.   Live life with passion.  Live life with love.  Don’t just simply exist in this world…Go live it.