It is springtime. A time when a lot of people are doing a clean out of their homes; trying to get organized and to declutter to start the new season. I have taken this on as well. I need a fresh start; a new beginning. I am not simply meaning the stuff in my home, but also a thorough cleansing of my body, mind and soul. This has been one hell of a year. So much has taken place and so much has changed. I am left with remnants of emotions, pain, uncertainty, fear, anxiety and doubt. I have all the dreams and hopes for the future life I thought I would have, and who I thought I was. They all still linger around me holding me down. Physically I have everything left from my life with Pat. All his belongings, his things, his stuff. They have taken over my garage and my home, my thoughts. I need to make room for the future. But still they sit because they are his. They are his belongings, all that is left of him physically on this earth. But they are not him. Getting rid of these “things” is not getting rid of him or the memories of him. They are not our love or our life together. All of that resides in my heart and mind and they can’t be taken from me. Some people in my life are having trouble with the idea of me letting go of the “stuff” in my house that I had in my previous life. That’s what I call it. It’s not my life anymore. I am not that person anymore. Just as so many do, I thought my life with him was the life I was going to live forever, but that just ain’t so. Trying to keep living that way is pointless and painful. It only leads me to heartache and loneliness. I need to keep moving forward and moving forward means into my new life. I am growing into that new life. I am forging new paths and discovering new things and laying out a plan of what I want out of life now. Pat was the love of my life; my former life. That can’t be changed, or erased, or forgotten. It will always be. But this is my new life. My second chapter. He isn’t gone from me, but yet he is not the co-author of this new story. This one is on me. The page is blank and anything is possible. I know he will be there to guide me along this new path, but I know this path is going to bring me others who will help me write this part of my story. They already have. That doesn’t erase him or my love for him. It’s just a different life story now. We hang on to so many things we don’t need: papers, clothing, books…stuff. What we truly need is to live. Live the life we want and share it with another. Love is the true foundation to happiness. Getting rid of the stuff, doesn’t get rid of him. So I am okay with letting “stuff” go. By doing this, I know I can let go of my fears and doubts and press on towards something that may be even more amazing than what I had before. For losing Pat has brought me the realization that the simple things in life are what matters most. I am grateful for all this world has given me and I want to embrace it all with an open heart. I am setting out on this new adventure and I can’t wait to see where it takes me and what is waiting for me down this path.
So yesterday was my birthday. My last first since Pat died. It wasn’t so bad. I laughed…a lot. It was a good day. I was able to see it as it was, my birthday. Not the same as my birthday use to be with Pat, but I have to say it was a happy birthday. What I realized on this day is that it was the last first. I have survived 365 days of firsts without my husband. I lived 52 weeks without him. A year ago, I didn’t think I was going to make it 1 week. I didn’t want to. I couldn’t imagine breathing without him, let alone laughing as I did yesterday. They say time heals all things…I don’t agree with that, but it helps. Now, today is a different story for me. Today is the beginning of my second year without him and to most people, the day he died. I know different. I was there. He died at 11:53 pm April 5. But today is the day everyone knew he was gone; that his beautiful soul had left this earth. Today is harder for me than yesterday.
Monday felt like New Years Eve for me…The day before my new year is beginning. A day to reflect on the past year and all that I have accomplished. How eye-opening that can be. It was a hell of a year in the Ol’ Mahoney household. We have been through quite a lot. But what I discovered was that we are doing good. We are finding our way and we are learning to live again. Last year I made a promise to myself and to Pat that I would have no regrets. I would live life the way I wanted…freely. I wasn’t going to let anything hold me back and I was going to follow my heart. Pat told me to do whatever I wanted to do…not to let anything stop me from being happy. I agreed to this. It is what I want. It is what I am doing. Not everyone understands how and why I am making the decisions I am making in my life, and that’s okay. It’s not for them to understand. I have a new perspective on life. I want to live, be happy, explore and find adventure. I want to be while I can be. I can’t continue down the same path in life I was on a year ago, because to be honest I am not that same person. Pat’s death has brought me the gift of living my life for living. Not for making a living. Pat wanted to live a different life than the path we were on, but he wanted to make me happy. He did what he thought he was supposed to do in order to take care of me and our children. But he was a free spirit. He had what some people, even me at times, thought were wild dreams. He wanted more than the everyday rat race.
So on the day of my last first without my love, I went to the cemetery for a little heart to heart with Pat. I thanked him for showing me true love and for teaching me how to truly love another. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to love again, which I know is possible. I told him that I love him and miss him and how sad I am that he missed this year, but I also told him about my plans. That I am excited about who I am now. That I am pressing on and living life and finding happiness. And I know he is happy about that. I talked to him about all that I’ve learned in this past year and I talked about his death not being in vain. That was a big thing with me as he died. I didn’t want it to be for nothing. I thought that meant that I had to establish some foundation in his name, or work on raising funds to discover a new treatment or cure for his disease…something monumental like that in order to fill that need to not have his death be in vain. But I was wrong. What I need to do, what I am going to do, is to live my life on my terms. Following my heart, listening to my gut and finding that peace and contentment that is available to us on this earth. The world has so much to offer us, and we only have a limited amount of time to embrace it. I’m going for it. I am not simply taking the next step on this journey, but I am running full steam ahead into the unknown and jumping in with both feet. I am not going to let other people or fear hold me back from living as I want to live.
A year ago, I was terrified of the future. Not able to wrap my brain around why this had happened to me and how I was going to survive without Pat. It’s not what I want to do, but it is what I have to do. I will always love him. His soul and mine are connected forever. But it isn’t the end of my journey….just the end of the path I was on with him. I have been standing at the fork in the road; one way keeping me marinating in the pain and loss of losing the most important person in my world and the other way leading me on to something new…maybe even something more amazing. Who knows what life is going to bring? I am taking that running start and heading down this new road and I can’t wait to see where I end up. If this past year has taught me anything it is that you just never know. One year ago today, we all learned of Pat’s journey ending, and I thought that meant mine was too. That just isn’t so.
So if you are wondering how I am and how the boys are doing, I will tell you with all honesty…we are happy 98% of the time. We struggle, we cry, we lose sight of what is important, but who doesn’t? We work through it, we love each other and we remember Pat. We remember him as he was and we smile and we laugh. We are good. 365 days ago I didn’t think that would be where we could be. I’m happy to say I was wrong. There is no need to feel bad for us, or worry about us or think we have it rough. We just are. We are just finding our way in search of happiness like everyone else. We just are lucky enough to have a guardian angel looking out for us. He always has our back. No it’s not the same as him being here to wrap his arms around us, but that’s not our reality. I am comforted in knowing that he lives in our heart and minds and he will never be forgotten.
I am who I am because of him. My boys are who they are because of him. What better gift could I ask for on my birthday….his love forever.
Source: Not what I had planned.
Time is passing and things are changing. Everything has changed. The past ten months has been nothing but change. I am looking for a small piece of normalcy…a place to rest my head and feel comfort. We have been sitting in a holding pattern for far too long and it is time to take a step in the right direction. We have healed a great deal- not completely because I don’t think that is possible. But healing we have done. The holidays were tough. Tougher than I thought they would be, but we made it through. The new year feels like the right time for a new perspective and I want that, but the reality of it all is that this is my life now. It’s not the life I had planned on. I thought I had it figured out. I was lucky enough to find someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, not an easy thing to do….I married the man of my dreams, started a family, planned a future together to grow old as a couple. That was what I thought my life would be.
The life I thought I would have will never be. That’s what I know. I’ve been working on what that means now. It’s a tough job. A journey without any roadmap, let alone a compass to try to direct me in the right direction. Being a single parent is no joke, especially since we live in a world of couplehood. How quickly people have forgotten that it is just me doing the job of two. It sounds like it’s double the work, but it truly feels like 10 times the work. I do what I can do and hope people understand. I am doing the best I can. I’m doing Ok. We all are. It’s just not what I ever thought my life would be.
So now what?
This is where I find myself here in 2016… a place of discovery. I have found me again…I’m stronger than ever before…and I am weaker than ever before. But I am me. I am good with who I am. Not a small feat. I see happiness in my future and I see a life again. Not sure exactly what I will see along this new path, but I know I am going somewhere good. Pat is with me all the time. His spirit surrounds me and pushes me to move forward. “Smile everyday” is what he told me to do. He wanted me to be happy, and not finding happiness and living again would be no tribute to him whatsoever.
So this is my plan…
Be happy. Smile. Enjoy the simple things. Love unconditionally. Laugh. Live. Breathe… What more can I do.
It’s been a while since I’ve written publically about all that I have been going through. I have entered into a new phase of my grief where I feel rather private about what I am experiencing. I have had my share of people judging me and man, have I heard some of the stupidest things ever said, but I think the real reason I haven’t been sharing my feelings is that I don’t really know what to say anymore. It is what it is. There isn’t anything I can do to change the situation I have been handed. This is my new life. It is time to embrace it and move forward.
Now don’t get me wrong. I miss Pat every minute of every day. I don’t think that will ever change. But this is where I am. This is my reality. This is my life. I have to remind myself of that all the time. Sometimes it seems so unreal that the past two and a half years actually happened to us and now I am alone in my world. It is a lonely world where there is never enough time to do half the things I need to get done, but it is mine. These boys are mine…my responsibility. No matter where my life takes me, this will always be true. The role of the single parent is no joke. I had respect for single parents before, but I honestly had no idea. It’s one hell of a tough job.
My world hasn’t really found any peace in it since Pat died. I had hoped to find a new normal, as everyone talks about, or at least a little routine. But unfortunately that was not in the cards for the Mahoney clan. We have been displaced from our home due to some major construction needed on the house and recently our puppy was hit by a car. It seems to me someone is constantly trying to remind me that it can always be worse…and then showing me how it can be. I get the picture, for goodness sake. Even with all that, I have to say the Mahoney 4 is actually doing ok. We have our moments of anger and sadness, but the majority of the time, we are happy.
I have no idea what is headed our way, but one thing I do know is that we are going to get through it together. I never knew the amount of strength I had, or we all have….I actually always thought I was pretty weak, but Pat’s illness and his death has proven that this crew can’t be knocked down for long. We are going to keep getting up,dusting ourselves off and head towards the future. We aren’t going to sit and marinate in the pain we have had inflicted upon us, but rather acknowledge it, learn from it and become even stronger. Pat wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Four months have come and gone without Pat and I feel I have come so far in such a short time. I haven’t sat in the face of fear and sadness and just let it envelop me into nothing. I took the pain. I felt the pain. I embraced the pain. It is all part of him and all that we had. He loved me completely with his entire being and losing him should hurt in such the same way…completely and throughout my being. It aches, it burns, it cries out in despair. It’s everything you could imagine about losing a part of you and so much more. It’s nothing I would wish on my worst enemy, but it’s not the end of me. I am here. I have a life ahead of me and to sit and wallow in pity and sorrow is not in the cards for me. Pat wanted more for me. I’ve said many times his death will not be in vain. I don’t think I really have known what I meant by that, it’s just something I felt. I now think it is that I am not going to just lay down and die with him. He didn’t fight until his last breath for me to give up. He didn’t give up and he wouldn’t want me to give up either. I think that’s where that thought has come from. I need to embrace the pain and use it to continue on. To push forward and continue the fight he began. I need to live the life I want to live and live it to the fullest…whatever that may look like. This is the life I have been given at this point in time. I didn’t ask for this new life or new perspective on the future, but it is what I have now and I need to use it to my fullest potential. That’s what I am trying to do.
Sometimes it is difficult to move forward in this life with the voices and noise that surrounds me. The opinions, whether voiced or perceived by me, of others can hold me back from pressing on in the direction or with the desire I would like. With the best of intentions for me, people can say some of the stupidest things where it seems they don’t really even understand what they are saying. It could be clichés or things they have heard somewhere, or maybe even what they think should be said, but it is received as judgment and disapproval of how I am grieving. This also happens when people choose not to even speak of Pat in my presence as if that will make me forget what has happened. If I don’t think of him and speak of him its as if everyone is forgetting him. He lives on in us and through us. We need to remember our loved ones and not be afraid of speaking their name or sharing our memories. And with that, we need to remember them as they were…imperfect. When people tell stories or speak of Pat as if he was this “saint” or perfect, it’s as if I don’t even recognize him anymore. I loved all of him, which included all his flaws. That is what made him mine and made our love real. I want to remember him exactly how he was and who he was. That is the way I can honor him and his life. He wrote the words once and I couldn’t have said it better….”God dammit, Patrick Mahoney lived and I am so proud to have known him.” I hope he is proud of how I am living and honoring him. He wanted nothing more than me to be happy. That is what I need to do, for him and for me.
So for the past three months I have been trying to live life by the motto of open heart, open mind. I want to embrace every opportunity that is presented to me and explore it without hesitation. I believe things have been put in my path for a reason and I need to accept them into my life and discover their purpose. This is true of people too. Many people have come into my life that is unexpected and I have wanted to understand why. What is it that they want from me? What is God’s purpose for bringing this person to me?
This has all seemed easy enough…Being open to new ideas and new people, but what I now know is that I am not all that open after all. My heart and soul are caged in and under lock and key. I see things and people as possibilities, but my heart sees them as a threat. A threat to my well-being, to my sanity, to my stability. How am I to let anyone new into my life, my beliefs, my wants and desires? I am so afraid of what could harm me that I may be missing what I could be gaining. This is my dilemma. It’s not as easy as I thought to live with an open heart, an open mind.
I know what I want, what I believe…true and everlasting love, a soulful connection between two people that lasts forever, eternal love and forgiveness, a desire to serve each other and to love and care for one another. A life that is full of opportunities that are ours to explore, learn and grow from. A partnership that fosters love and understanding and simply, someone to hold, love and understand me.
But all of those things take time, take vulnerability (which I am not so good at). They are a part of opening your heart and soul and letting someone in. I guess this is my biggest fear. What if they get in and they don’t like what they find? Maybe I have been broken beyond repair and what’s left is unlovable? I don’t have the answers to those questions. I just know I’m afraid to find the answers.
I feel my heart is being set free these days, but it’s my soul I worry most about. How does one begin to heal their soul when it has been given to another and then the dream was lost? The soul is a delicate thing which can not be mistreated. Once it has a wound, can it never be healed? I don’t know where to begin with that one. But I know that if I want to continue on, if I want to find my way again, and find what I am looking for once again, I need to find a way to heal my soul. For loving another requires both the heart and soul for it to be real and everlasting. That is what Pat taught me. He gave me his heart and soul and I gave him mine. We are one forever in time and nothing can change that. I want to feel that again. I want it all again. Is it possible? Can there be another love that is complete and pure or has my time passed and my chance gone….I don’t know. I honestly hope not.
This is equal to 15 years, 4 months, and 30 days. This is what was I blessed with my Pat. It may not seem long to some, and it may seem like a lifetime to others. But for me it was the gift I was given. I always thought the day we were married was the best day of my life. The day that could never be compared due to the overwhelming amount of love and happiness I felt. But what I had to learn by living those next days was that life continues to give you more happiness. We simply choose to focus on the grand events as the happiest.
As I look back now I see that I was most happy when I was holding his hand. Or sharing a look that no on else understood. Just to have him near me made me feel safe and loved. I didn’t need a formal event or a big tado in order to be happy when I was with Pat. I just was.
Its been 69 days since I last held his hand, felt his warmth or kissed his lips. That day I thought was going to be the saddest day of my life. But as life always teaches us, it is not like we plan. The days after that day have been even harder. The realization that I will never have that love again. I may have love, but not the love I had. The realization that no one knows our story, our history, our private jokes, our true love and passion together. These are the things that hurt. They are gone from my every day, though I hold them dear to my heart and in my memory. I will never forget.
I worry I am letting him down. That I am not making the right decisions for the boys, with our home, or with my life. Is he looking down on me wondering if I ever loved him? Does he think I have forgotten him? He wouldn’t want me to sit on the sidelines and cry my life away. He would want me to get up, be strong and do what I gotta do. I worry about everything because I am afraid of what tomorrow brings. I’m afraid of feeling this way forever and being alone. I am afraid I can’t make it on my own and I am afraid that I can. So many loved him, and I fear I will disappoint them as well. I want to hold on to his memory but I want to live again as well. Finding the balance between the two is the difficult challenge I have been given.
These 69 days have been painful and yet they have helped me grow and see just how loved I was for the 5629 days before. The love he gave me is the strength I need to continue to live.
I don’t know what lies ahead for me in the days to come. I hope to continue to find peace with Pats death, but I also hope for more. More happiness, more laughter, and maybe even more love. His love will always embrace me and guide me through life and for now I guess that is all I need.
Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I’m not crying on the inside. Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean everything is ok. But just because I’m hurting on the inside doesn’t mean that I should walk around with my head held low and tears in my eyes. Wearing a smile means a great deal to people, especially when things aren’t going so well. A smile can hide all the bad that is going on underneath, but it also can show the world that the bad hasn’t won. When you smile you show you’re still in the game…you’re still here and you haven’t been beaten. It shows your strength, your dignity, your pride.
A smile makes you feel good if just for a moment and that feeling may be exactly what you need to get through the day. To have people look at you like your ok, like they don’t pity you or your situation….trust me that means a lot.
It’s amazing how a simple smile can change someones day. Something we don’t normally think twice about can make such a huge difference in someone elses world. We never really know what others are going through in their lives or in their thoughts as we pass them by in our day. We often jump to quick conclusions that they are bitchy, grumpy, mean people, but how do you know whether or not they are worried about paying their bills, feeding their children or mourning the loss of a loved one. We tend to get caught up in our own worlds and forget to look around at the people in the world we truly live in.
Taking a moment to make a small gesture makes a difference in many ways. Holding the door for someone instead of rushing through, or complimenting them on their outfit, any little thing, can boost someones spirit. It can help them reconnect with the world and maybe perhaps for a moment, take their mind off of the negative events in their lives, whatever they may be. It also helps you. When you do something good, like allowing someone to merge in traffic, or asking to help them carry something, it makes you feel good. Your spirit gets a boost and helps to lighten your own load. Positivity is definitely contagious. Once you start it, you don’t want it to end. It just feels good.
I recently was blessed to experience such a thing. My husband wanted to bring in cider and donuts to the nurses in the hospital which are caring for him as a thank you. It wasn’t enough donuts for everyone and only a simple gallon of cider to share, but it was a thought. Instead of being trapped in his own world of dealing with chemo, he was thinking of others…that’s just how he is. What was amazing was the reaction that came from the nursing staff. It was as if no one ever thanked them for what they do. Their spirits seemed lifted and they appeared to happier than the day before. If maybe only for the day, he made a difference in their lives with a simple gesture.
So if today or tomorrow you can reach out to just one person and do something, anything, a simple gift of a smile, do it. You could be the reason for their good day. Who wouldn’t want that?