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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Get this!!!

The kids and I finished eating dinner, and I went to take Sydney out of her booster seat and noticed that her wet diaper leaked a bit, so I took off her clothes and diaper. She didn't want to put a clean diaper on, so I told her that if she doesn't want to wear a diaper, she's gonna have to go pee pee on the potty. I asked her if she wanted to try, and she gave me an enthusiastic "YES!"

I put the potty seat on the toilet and we hung out in the bathroom for a little while. Jacob came in to visit us and shortly after that, lo and behold, we heard trickling!!!! What an exciting moment in our house!! I'm so glad that Jacob witnessed it, too! I hadn't really thought much about potty training her yet, but opportunity presented itself and I seized it! Of course, I so wished Matt was there to see it - he'd have been so proud. Each of these big milestones with the kids is going to be bittersweet now.

I remember when Jacob went pee pee on the potty for the very first time, and he even pooped on the potty soon after that. Matt and I were so excited and we thought, "Wow - this potty training thing is WAY easier than we thought it would be!" It took another whole year before he did it again...

My little girlie girl is 21 months now, and I guess now is a good time as any to start introducing the potty to her. I hear girls catch on quicker with this stuff, so we shall see how this pans out!!

Bruce

My friend Jeff and his family are die-hard Bruce Springsteen fans, and even quote Bruce's lyrics like they're verses from the Bible. It's to the point that it feels sacrilegious to change the station if a Springsteen song is playing. As a result, I've developed a greater appreciation for his music.

Now when I hear Bruce, I want to cry. It rips me up inside to think of what Jeff is going through right now, and what he has yet to endure.

Last night, I dug out the card he gave me when Matt died and read his two page message again. Ironically, I could read it right back to him, and have nearly very word apply to his situation.

It's selfish of me to feel this way, but I'm so pissed that not only has my husband been taken away from me, but my good friend who I talked to daily has as well. At least there's some hope Jeff can come back, but for now, I'm without either one. I told you it was selfish...

My submission for the Book for Matt and Maddy

Karyn McQueen sent a message to the members of The Liz Logelin Foundation ~ For the Love of Liz.

Hey LLF FB Members!! Madeline's first birthday and the anniversary of Liz's passing are quickly approaching, which means a lot of us have been reading Matt's blog for almost a year now. A few of us have been discussing what Matt, Liz and Madeline's story has meant to us... Everyone has such great stories, we've decided to collect everyone's written thoughts and compile them into a book for Matt and Madeline. There has been so much good that has come out of this tragedy, we want Matt to know what it has meant to YOU! We hope you’ll participate!
No sentiment is too small to be shared. So please type up your thoughts and email them to us at http://us.mc1122.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=bookformattandmaddy@gmail.com by Feb 28th. Please note that your submission will not be shared with anyone or posted anywhere; this is just for the book.You may type in whatever color you like, but submissions need to be in one of the following fonts: Arial; Book Antigua; Bookman; Century Old Style; Courier; Garamond; Palatino; Tahoma; Times New Roman; or Verdana. Submissions not in one of these fonts, will be changed to one of these fonts.Thank you all so much!

Karyn


Dear Matt,

I first started reading your blog around October of 2008 (about the time I started my own blog). My heart hurt for you and Maddy, and I couldn't imagine the devistation you felt. Until a month later when my husband died unexpectedly. You never in a million years think things like this can happen to you, until they do.

I believe I came across your blog when I did for a reason. Reading about your daily struggles and triumphs have given me hope that I can survive this and still be a good mom to my 4 year old son and 18 month old daughter.

Before Matt died, I always had the camera in my hand, and what a blessing that was - we have so many wonderful pictures with him and the kids, and captured so many wonderful moments - even the simple every day moments. I've had a hard time picking up the camera ever since - I think because I'm hesitant to record our life after Matt, like our life with him in it is somehow preserved by not taking new pictures. Seeing all the wonderful pictures on your blog is inspiring me to pick the camera up once again... I know I have to do it for my kids. I actually took a couple of pictures last week - a big step for me, and I think you had something to do with that.

I know you've got a bit more experience under your belt with this stuff than I do, but one of the things I've learned so far is that the anticipation of a certain date, activity, etc. is much worse than the actual thing. I'm praying for you as the one year mark nears.

Although Maddy is unlucky in the way that she lost her mom, she is very blessed that she has you for her dad. I know you will keep Liz's memory alive so much for her that she might even think she remembers certain things as part of her own experience. That's the best gift we can give to our children.

God bless you both, and Happy Birthday, Madeline!

Day #104...

...and I'm still living and breathing. I honestly have to say I didn't think I'd make it this far. This is the longest I've ever been apart from Matt since we've been together. The longest time before this was a little over two weeks when he went to California to be with his brothers. The grim reality that he is never coming back hits me in waves. Maybe this is the tsunami I've dreamt about in the past. (I have very strange dreams - a subject for another post...)

Last night was a big night... I had been silently struggling with the idea of moving Matt's clothes out of our closet to make room for my sister's clothes when she moves in. With all the issues she has with her back, I couldn't in good conscience make her go up and down the basement stairs to get her clothes every day. The clincher was where to put all the piles of stuff in my bedroom that came from the old office... I can't put that stuff downstairs because I need ready access to it.

It wasn't quite as gut-wrenching as I thought it would be. Maybe because the kids were with me and playing in the basement - I can usually keep it together pretty well in front of them, so they kept me strong. It was hard, but I think the anticipation of moving the clothes was worse than actually doing it. I just had to keep reminding myself over and over again that I'm not getting rid of them - I'm just moving them.

We've got these portable wooden closets that Matt acquired from his job at Gow ("portable" only because they're not built into the wall, but they weigh a TON. I don't know how Matt got them into the basement. Oh wait - I do know... he was strong as an ox!). They didn't have too much in them... The things that took up the most space were my wedding gown in it's box, and other wedding stuff that I crammed in there. I put those things in a different spot of the basement, and then started out by moving all of his pants into the them... Little by little, I ended up bringing most of his things down, leaving all his t-shirts (many are in Jacob's closet so he can sleep in them), a few sweatshirts, a couple pairs of shorts that he wore all the time, his only two ties and belt in there. It feeds my need to see them, touch them, smell them, and wear them.

I was able to make a lot of room for my sister's clothes, and had space enough to get the office stuff off of my bedroom floor. I know if she wasn't moving in, those clothes would probably sit there for years.

I talked to Matt the whole time... assuring him that this in no way meant that I was in a hurry to move his stuff out of the closet, that I hated the fact that I was put in the position to have to do this, that I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with him, but that I don't say that to make him feel guilty - I know he didn't have a choice in the matter. That I love him and miss him terribly. That he will always be the love of my life - no matter what happens in the future and no matter who may come into my life. He will always be THE love of my life, father of my children. And so on and so on...

There are still things untouched and unmoved; his toothbrush is still in the toothbrush holder next to mine, some clothes still in his hamper...

I was up until 1:30am, but I got so much done and my closet is clean and ready, my bedroom only has the stuff in there that is supposed to be in there (and it's clean!), and the bathroom vanities have been switched (we have a long counter with two sinks, and now I'm using the side that Matt used). Phew. I'm beat!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Yesterday afternoon was a balmy 42 degrees outside, so the kids and I made the most of it by washing the van. I'm embarassed to admit that it hadn't been washed since December, except for the power washing it got from Mother Nature a week or so ago with the high winds and rain/snow mix. It was so nice to be outside and get some fresh air...

Matt was always very particular about the cleanliness of the vehicles. They got washed on a regular basis, waxed, armor-alled and rain-xed. The interior would also get a good cleaning. I couldn't help but think of him the entire time I washed the van, and in the back of my mind, hoped that I was doing it half as good as he always did. However, I didn't wax or armor-all, just washed, and rain-xed the windows. Still, the outside of the van looks great - just don't look at the inside.

After the kids went to bed, I went to Matt's other domain - the garage. There were piles of cardboard that needed broken up and stacked for recycling, wood from the old desk that was in the office (now playroom), empty boxes and packing material, etc... It was a mess. I got that all cleaned up as well.

Tonight's project is designating an area in the basement for my sister's stuff, possibly making some space for her in the closet (give me strength), and getting rid of all the piles of crap in my bedroom from the old office.

Do you think we can negotiate to have 30 hours in a day instead of 24???

What's Going On?

A Marvin Gaye classic... I heard this song on the way to work the other morning, and it was very fitting, because I've been wondering what the hell is going on lately. It's really difficult trying to stay positive when there's so much sickness and pain around me. Why are so many bad things happening to the people closest to me? Is there a black cloud looming over my friends and family? Am I jinxed? I know it's pretty much across the board these days, and it's nothing personal, but I'm starting to wonder if someone is out to get us.

I just found out one of my closest friends has a rare genetic disease that causes cysts to form in her spine, causing chronic pain, bulging discs and other disabling conditions. Jenny and I have been friends since high school, and our friendship continued just as strong when she moved to Florida for college back in the early 90's. She visits every year with her two little girls, and has always been a constant and faithful friend. It's her husband that has the cyst on the nerve in his neck (if you read that post), and his surgery is coming up on Wednesday, March 4.

Here is part of her email to me describing the issues with her back: "The bulging disc is the least of my worries, or the arthritis in my lower back or the Schmoris nodes pressing on all the c4-c7 in my back causing bulging discs and severe pain. The worst news was I have a rare genetic disease called Tarlov's cysts on my s2 vertebra two 1 cm each and it is genetic. Only 60 cases reported by 1970 and chances are Hanna may have it! Only 6 doctors in the US treat it..."

Has anyone heard of this?!?

My sister has chronic back pain due to spinal stenosis, slipped discs, arthritis, not to mention joint pain associated with her Lupus. She's only 43 years old, and she's been dealing with this crap for years already, but it's just the past year that her back has gotten to such a bad state that she can barely walk or even stand straight. She has to sit to alleviate the pain, but it still doesn't make it go away. She's on a million different kinds of meds for Lupus and pain management, high cholesterol, osteo arthritis... I worry about her because of the toll all those meds may be taking on her organs, and what the chronic pain is doing to her state of mind.

My friend Jeff (only 38) has similar issues with his back that my sister has - spinal stenosis, etc. And he's the one that's in the hospital right now because of the brain hemmorage!!

These are good people- they don't deserve any of this shit. Matt didn't deserve to die. IT'S NOT FAIR.

I know I have to keep counting our blessings - believe me, I do... I guess all I can do is pray, and be there for them. They have always been there for me; it's time to pay it forward.

Garbage Day, Part II

I put the sign on the door Tuesday night, and all was quiet the next morning. Put the garbage outside of the garage, and.... it was still there when I got home.

It's probably just as well... Even though he's my neighbor, I don't know him well enough to have him coming to my house every week to take out my garbage. I've got to be a bit more protective now that I'm alone with the kids.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Underdog

Aunt Michelle took Jacob out for some special time, and one of the things they did was rent a movie at Blockbuster. Jacob picked it out. Underdog is a cute movie, and the boy character in it lost his mom and is being raised alone by his dad.

Jacob stole one of the lines from that boy and used it on me during dinner tonight:

"I just want to be a regular boy with a mom AND a dad."

My sister Michelle is moving in with us in a couple of weeks, and between her and the kittens we're going to be getting, hopefully Jacob will be a bit more distracted and not feel such a void in his life. Maybe I will, too...

Garbage Day

We have some neighbors that live across the street from us who have been acquaintances of Matt's family for years. One of the gentlemen is 42, and a little slow, but so sweet. He and Matt used to talk whenever they were both outside at the same time, which was often. He came over last week, knocking on the door.

Mind you, I am completely traumatized from knocks on the door, and we don't have a doorbell (maybe it's time I have one installed), but it wasn't so bad because it was the evening, and my mother and uncle were over for a visit.

We talked a bit about Matt, and I told him that Matt loved him. The reason for Glen's visit... this kind gentleman wants to take my garbage out every week for me - "for free." How cute is that? At first I declined, telling him I could do it, but I could tell it really meant a lot for him to help in some way. So I told him that because of our long driveway, I usually put the garbage in the back of my van and drive it up to the curb, but half the time forget that it's in there and drive to work with it, so I"ll take him up on his offer. We agreed that I would leave my garbage sitting outside of the garage doors when I leave the house for work.

Wednesday morning rolls around... There's a knock on the door at 7am (now, this is about the time of the morning that the sheriff knocked on my door, so it had more of an affect on me, and I had to remind myself that Matt was already dead and my children are in their rooms...). As kind and well-meaning as that gentleman is, I am NOT answering the door at that time of the morning. Not for anyone (heart pounding out of my chest).

I put the garbage outside of the garage before I left, and it was still there when I got back later that day. Oh well... I think I'll put a note on the door before I go to bed tonight to remind him that I'll put the garbage outside of the garage when I leave around 8am (I usually leave earlier, but want to imply that 7am might be too early to knock) and hope for the best.

Please...

A friend of mine found this poem and gave it to me in a card... I thought it was right on.

Please, don't ask me if I'm over it yet.
I'll never be over it.

Please, don't tell me he's in a better place.
He isn't with me.

Please, don't say at least he isn't suffering.
I haven't come to terms with why he had to suffer at all.

Please, don't tell me you know how I feel
Unless you have lost a spouse.

Please, don't ask me if I feel better.
Bereavement isn't a condition that clears up.

Please, don't tell me at least you had him for so many years.
What year would you choose for your spouse to die?

Please, don't tell me God never gives us more than we can bear.
Please, just tell me you are sorry.

Please, just say you remember my husband, if you do.
Please, just let me talk about him.

Please, mention his name.
Please, just let me cry.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that people are afraid to talk to me about Matt because they think it will upset me. I LIKE it when people talk about him - it keeps him alive, it makes me feel good. It helps me remember. It helps me to laugh. I might even cry, but that's OK - I'm gonna cry anyway, so please don't feel that you can't talk about him to me.

One other thing... Everyone thinks that they should downplay their grief because of the fact that I am his widow. It's all relative. Everyone is sad. Matt's death has had a major ripple effect on a LOT of people, and effected many in a VERY big way. I would never think someone isn't entitled to their pain because of mine.



Daddy's Little Girl

In the brief 18 months that Matt was in Sydney's life, he made a big impression on her. How do I know, you ask? I just know.

He was always the first one in her room to get her up in the morning, and she was always happy to see him. She didn't mind when he changed her diaper or her clothes. They formed a very close bond that I think is still intact. She cried inconsolably and wandered around the house looking for him for almost a week after he died. She looks at his pictures and excitedly shouts, "DADDY!"

Our nightly routine is that I tuck Sydney into bed first, and then Jacob. There have been several times when I'm in Jacob's room getting him tucked in that I'll hear Sydney shouting "Daddy" and laughing. I really get a thrill from that, because as crazy as it might sound, I really believe that Matt is there with her.

Matt and Jacob used to give each other "knuckles" more than high fives... Matt would put his fist out and Jacob would put his fist out to meet Matt's. That was just a Daddy thing - I never really got in the habit of doing that.

Sydney's been giving high fives right along, but just in the past week or so has started giving knuckles. Aunt Michelle gave her a high five before she left on Sunday, and then Sydney put her fist out to her.

I said, "Michelle, give her knuckles - I think that's what she's waiting for."

Sure enough, it was! Sydney gives knuckles! No one else has taught her that - that's a Daddy thing. It's stuff like that that I thrive on - believing that even though we can't see him, he is still- and always will be- in our lives.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jacob-isms...

Remember that story about bathtime when Jacob was slobbering all over his sister blowing rasberries on her neck? He was telling his Aunt Michelle about it the other day and said, "I was giving Sydney blueberries..." LOL!!!!

He used to call caution cones "apartments" - don't ask me how that one came about. He actually did it again today (2/24) on the way to school -I'm so glad because it reminded me to write it down...

Way back when, one of Matt's and my favorite Jacob-isms was when he would call a train caboose a "boocoose."

TorMado = tornado
Instresting = interesting
Glubs = gloves

Those are the things you don't want to correct your child on!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Great News!!!!

My co-worker who was going to have the tumor in her lung biopsied sent out this email:

Dear Friends,
This a.m., I was scheduled for the biopsy. After all preparations, I was told it would not happen as: (1) the mass was in such a place behind a rib, it would be too risky to try a biopsy because it could puncture the lung; and (2) THE GREAT NEWS - the mass was half the size that it was two weeks ago, indicating infection and not a tumor. All of this was determined by another CAT Scan this a.m. Ordinarily, they would have continued with the biopsy to see what type of infection to know what kind of antibiobics to use, but because of where it was, they couldn't go through with it. I had already been sedated, so I thought for a minute that I was dreaming. I will see the oncologist next week, and looks like I will just have to have another scan in the next couple of months. Thank you so much for all your prayers, cards, hugs and support duirng these past couple of weeks. I appreciate it so much. You are the best! Bonnie

My big boy!

Poor Jacob has been sick pretty much all winter long, so the pediatrician decided to send him for bloodwork to have his titers tested (for those who don't know, that indicates his resistance or lack thereof to certain viral and bacterial germs flying around). That blood test went fairly well up until the plebotomist put the needle in. Poor kid!

Since his titers were low, they gave him a Pnumo vax to boost his immunity. I ended up getting the same thing because I've been sick all winter right along with him.

He had follow up bloodwork scheduled to measure his titers again to see if the vax helped him at all. So on the way to Quest, I gave Jacob a heads up about where we were going and why.

He said, "But I don't want to have bloodwork done, Mommy!"

I said, "I know, sweetie, but they have to make sure that the shot they gave you is working the way it should to keep you healthy."

We get into the office and he decided he wanted to sit in the chair by himself instead of sitting on my lap so I can hold him while they take his blood.

"Are you sure, Jacob? You can sit on my lap if you want!"

"No, I want to sit by myself."

"OK, but you can't move when she puts the needle in your arm."

"Why?"

"Because it'll make it hurt."

"OK."

She puts the needle in his arm and he hardly flinches. And he's watching the whole thing - the needle go in his arm, the blood going in the little straw and into the vile!

"This is cool!" he says!

I'm picking my jaw up off the floor as the plebotomist says, "Here - feel this..." She's telling him to feel the warm blood going into the vile...

"Wow!" he says.

Then she takes the needle out of his arm, and again - he barely flinches.

I finally get my jaw off the floor, and can't tell him enough how proud I am of him!!! There are few grown-ups that would do as well (myself included)!!!

I do think the big chocolate bar I waved in front of him before the needle went in may have helped a little (he's a full-fledged chocohaulic), but really - I'm so proud of my big boy!!

OH - another big boy brag!!!! Jacob and I usually read a book before bed. He has been taking more of an interest in the words than in the pictures for some time, and now that he has learned all his letters and the sounds that each one makes, he is starting to successfully sound out small words!!!! The boy is 4 and in preschool!!!!

His Daddy would be so proud.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Facebook (or One Step Forward...)

I have had a Facebook account for quite some time now, and ever since Matt's death, I've gotten so many sweet messages from people offering me hugs and prayers throughout this ordeal.

The other day I decided I should probably edit my profile on there to read, "Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death in November of 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (4) and Sydney (1)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me."

I figured it was time to update (one step foward, I guess). However, when you update your profile, it also gives you the option to make other updates - such as relationship status. I had my 'relationship status' hidden, so when I updated it from 'married' to 'blank,' I really didn't expect it to make it known. Well, of course, the update posted for everyone to read, "Andrea is no longer listed as married."

I really didn't expect that to show up, or the flurry of responses that ensued. Oops.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Speaking of full circle...

Matt and I met at a wedding on August 22, 1998.

My mom worked at a jewelry store in the mall, and the manager of that store was Aris - Matt's cousin Amy's fiance. Matt and Aris were friends, and Matt would often visit Aris at the store. I used to visit my mother at the store all the time, and it's just amazing that our paths never crossed!

My mother was invited to the wedding, along with other people that worked in the store, so I went with her as her date. I was actually interested in one of the other guys that my mom worked with and was sort of flirting with him at the wedding, when this tall guy in a suit with a curly mullet comes up to me and asks me to dance.

Apparently, he had gone up to my mom and asked her, "Why didn't you ever tell me you had a daughter?!" And her response was probably along the lines of, "Because she would have killed me if I tried to fix her up! Don't look at me - go ask her to dance!"

I danced with him a few times, but he was so persistent that I started making excuses of why I couldn't dance anymore - my feet hurt, blah blah blah... I remember thinking he was really nice, but with that long, curly mullet of his, he just wasn't my type.

At the end of the reception as everyone was leaving, he gave me a piece of paper with his numberS on it. I say numbers with an emphatic plural because it had his home number, his cell phone number and his pager number on there. Geez - how desperate is this guy, anyway?! He also invited me to a party at the hotel afterward where the bride, groom, and a bunch of friends were going to be continuing the reception.

After he handed me the piece of paper with his numbers, I warned him that I was going out of town with my sister and her family for two weeks, so if he didn't hear from me for a while, that was why. Truth was, I wasn't sure if I was going to call him at all. Did I mention how picky I am?

At the end of that two weeks, I picked up the piece of paper and was *this* close to throwing it away. Then I thought, This is why I'm still alone at 25. I could at least give the guy a chance and go on one date with him. If I don't like him, I don't have to go again.

Boy am I glad I took the chance.

Matt and I have been to many weddings during our time together, and always had a great time dancing and socializing. He can really rip it up on the dance floor!

Fast foward ten years to this past August, almost to the day from when we met, and we attended another wedding together at The Gow School for a couple of teachers that work there. The reception was on the grounds under a huge tent - it was beautiful. There was a huge thunder and lighting storm during the reception, and torrential rains that almost took the tent down - but that didn't dampen anyone's mood - everyone had a blast and let their hair down. The DJ was playing awesome music, and Matt and I had such a great time ripping it up!

Matt's mom just recently told me that when he first met me at that wedding, he told her he just met a girl with the most beautiful smile. Aris and Amy's anniversary has always held special meaning to me, and it always will.

I had told Matt years later that I nearly threw out that piece of paper, and he told me that it wouldn't have mattered... he knew where to find me, and he wouldn't have given up. =)

Last Date

When Matt and I were dating, one of the things we would do very often was play pool at a local billiards - Classic Cue. It was a nice evening activity which didn't involve going to a bar or sitting silently at a movie.

One of our very first dates was here... I'll never forget - we were playing pool, and Matt asked me, "So, what are your rules for pool?" and I told him the basics of what I knew about pool. For some reason, I thought he asked me the same question again, so I said, "Basically, if you get it in, great - if you don't, try again!" Well, the look on his face pretty clearly indicated that he wasn't asking me about pool - his mouth was open wide with a smile, as were his eyes with a shocked look on his face... I thought, "Uh oh" and said, "What?! What did you ask me?!" and he said, "I asked you what your rules were for DATING!"

I was SO embarrassed, and naturally he thought it was great. I think it was then that he knew he wanted to marry me!

Having been married for 6+ years, him working 2nd shift on a new job, me working full time during the day, two young children, etc., dates were very few and far between. Time got away from us quickly and before we knew it, it had been months since we'd gone on a date with each other.

This past October, we finally planned a date night. Matt looked in the paper for times that a movie was playing (I forgot which movie), and we got to the theater and they were already 45 minutes into the movie. I guess he looked at the paper wrong, so we left and he drove us around until we ended up at Classic Cue.

We hadn't been there in YEARS. It was pretty cool to have a date like the ones we used to have way back when! We were in desperate need of some quality time together, and this gave it to us more than if we were to sit in silence at a movie theater. Kinda felt like the old days...

I'm so thankful for that date. It means more to me now than I ever thought it would - almost like we had gone full circle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good News and Bad News

Which do you want first?

Well, the good news is, my friend whose husband has a tumor in his neck found out that it's actually a cyst that formed around a nerve, and not Hodgkins Lymphoma. It's something he was born with, but wasn't discovered until recently when it grew more rapidly. Because it's been there for so long, scar tissue has formed around it which will complicate the surgery. There is a risk that he will be left with a raspy voice, lose feeling on the right side of his body, and I forgot what else she told me. She said he always wondered why the toes on his right foot go numb when he sneezes! LOL! He's scheduled for surgery on February 26.

The bad news... I just found out today another co-worker of mine discovered a tumor in her lung. She's having a biopsy done this Thursday. This woman (in her 60's) is a sweetheart. She also lost her husband when her son was very young, and took me out to dinner to talk. It helped sharing our stories with each other because we could relate to what each of us experienced. She gives me some hope that there may be a day when I can be happy again.

My mother's boyfriend has a malignant tumor between his heart and his lungs and had his first round of chemo yesterday.
My godmother, who had lymphoma, was just told she is completely free of cancer. However, she is dying of Scleroderma. It's causing her skin to tighten and her organs to shrink. Her lungs are shrinking, and it's making it difficult for her to breathe.
Maybe I should have given you the good news first? (And why won't Blogger let me put spaces between these paragraphs?!!)
Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers.

Sibling Love

I gave Jacob and Sydney their baths last night, and had them both wrapped up in towels on the bathroom floor. I was blowing rasberries on Sydney's neck and had her in stitches, so Jacob wanted to try since he LOVES making his little sister laugh. And laugh she did... Jacob's making tooting noises and slobbering all over her neck, but they were both feeding off each other and laughing hysterically! As Sydney's mouth is wide open, Jacob notices, "Mommy! Sydney's growing more teeth!"

He finds such joy in watching his little sister grow and learn new things. He gets excited when she says a new word, or does something new. Recently he said to me, "Mommy, Sydney is between a baby and a big girl."

Sydney, of course, absolutely adores her big brother. She actually listens to him better than she listens to me. If she starts playing with his beloved trains, he'll shout, "NO!" and she backs right off. If I was to do that, she'd look straight at me and go back for more, making sure I'm watching every move she makes. Little stinker.

She's been doing an awesome job sleeping in her big girl bed. I usually tuck her in before Jacob, and after we read a book and say prayers, she pretends she's sleeping by making snoring noises with her eyes closed. Then we say our goodnights and I tuck Jacob in with the same ritual. Occasionally, as I'm leaving Jacob's room, I notice Sydney at her door. I go over to her and say in a whisper, "You're supposed to be in your bed, girlie! Give me a kiss..." She gives me a kiss, and immediately goes right back in her bed and puts her head on her pillow. Such a good girl (when she's not ripping all the books, etc. off the shelves, climbing the walls, and screaming her fool head off for reasons unknown).

I'm closer to being ready to break out the camera once again and start taking pictures. I really need to do this for my kids' sake. Before, I always had the camera in my hand. I've had a hard time with that ever since the accident for some reason. If I analyze it myself, I'd have to say it's probably because I'm hesitant to record our life after Matt, like our life with him in it is somehow preserved by not taking new pictures.

Downloading the pics onto my computer will be another big hurtle for me to overcome, for the same reasons above. Matt has our screensaver set up to show all the pics on our hard drive, one by one. All the pictures on there are from before. I know once I download the pics from the camera to the computer, the "before" and "after" pictures will all be mixed up. (I know that sounds crazy, but I can't help it.)

I should at least start posting the pictures I do have in this blog so you all can see my beautiful children, and my handsome husband...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Something to look forward to...

I've never been a cat person, but I'm thinking a dog is a little more maintenance than what I want right now; however, a furry addition to our family might be what the doctor ordered... I never in a million years thought I'd ever consider getting a cat, but here I am! Jacob would be over the moon, and I know Sydney would love it, too.

I'm probably nuts for considering taking on an extra responsiblity right now, but I think having something like this to look forward to, and the cute, furry distraction will be good for all of us.

I'm thinking I'll get a male because Jacob keeps making reference to "now there's only one boy left" in the house. Don't want him to be outnumbered, and maybe he'll stop asking for another daddy for a while... (Not that a cat could ever replace you, My Love!)

I was told by my SPCA director cousin that I might want to consider getting two, since they could provide each other companionship while I'm away at work all day... I'll have to think hard about that one.

Oh - and I wasn't nearly as sore today as I thought I'd be after my run yesterday - there just might be some hope for me after all!

One more quick note - the LEEP has been scheduled for this Friday morning... glad to be able to get it over with sooner rather than later. My sister was planning to come out this weekend, anyway, and may be able to come out sooner to go with me. I think that's it for now!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Losing It.

My phone went from ringing off the hook to hardly ever ringing. I've gotten to the point where I sort of want to be left alone for a while anyway to catch a breath, but in that same breath, I feel abandoned. No one can seem to say the right thing to me, and if they don't say anything, that's not right either. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. I feel sorry for anyone in my life right now. Hell - I can't stand being around myself these days.

Loneliness is really kicking in, too. I miss having Matt's big, strong arms around me. Funny how the one person I need the most is the one that's not here. The one that is never coming back. How do I do this?! I HATE THIS!!!!!!! Every bit of it.

I did run 3.2 miles today. It felt surprisingly great. Now that it's later in the day, though, a couple of toes on my right foot feel like they're gonna fall off, and my back is killing me (not to mention my knee). Between my aching bones and my new 'widowed' status, I feel like I'm 75 instead of 35. Can't wait to see what I feel like in the morning...

Perspective

A part of me feels a little bad about that letter... Someone told me, "pain is relative." I guess if I put myself in her shoes, and this is the worst thing she's experienced, she's not in a position right now to empathize someone else's pain. Maybe I needed to get it out of my system by sending the letter for me to let go of the anger enough to be able to empathize a bit for her...

Flowing Endorphins...

Matt's parents gave us their treadmill several years ago, and Matt used it all the time when he couldn't run outside. Come to think of it, he ran on the treadmill, ran outside, rode his bike, worked out, played hockey in winter, softball in summer... I never felt like I had the time to do any of that stuff myself. Now that he's not around, I'm somehow figuring out how to make the time.

I brought a bunch of the kids' toys in the basement and got on the treadmill. While they played, I did a mile and a half at a good pace, and plan to do it again either once a day or once every other day. Eventually, I'll work my way up to 3 miles, then start increasing my pace. I'm training for this 5K, and it feels good to get my blood flowing. I'm going to start upper body exercises, too. Funny how I can't cry and exercise at the same time, so I think I'll keep it up! (And I'll try to forget that it's 3 months today.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To Hell in a Handbasket

Jacob said to me this morning,
"Mommy, when can we get a new dad?"

I said, "Probably not for a long time, sweetie."

He said, "But I really want a new dad."

How do I respond to this? Up until now I've been pretty good at pulling an appropriate response to him out of my hat ("hat" being the nice word for what I was gonna say), but this one has me stumped.

I know that people die every day - husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc... Why should we be exempt from something that happens all the time? I try to get that concept through my head, but still it feels like right now we're the only ones it's happening to, and that it's completely unfair. I know that's not logical... Life is unfair and bad things can happen to anyone at any time. No one is exempt.

They say only the good die young... guess it's a good thing I'm not an angel. Maybe I'll get to see my kids grow up.

Doesn't it feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket?

Then I look at my sweet little children and they are reminders that the whole world doesn't suck. I need to remember to pray. Pray that God fills everyone's hearts with love so that there's no room for hate and anger (something I especially need to remember lately), appreciate what we have and make the most of each day instead of thinking of what could have been or should have been. I'm saying the words... maybe I'll start living them again if I say them enough times...

Letter, mailed 2/13/09

Ever since our confrontation in the hospital where you said to me, "My husband is in the ICU - it doesn't get much worse than that," I can't get that out of my head. I can't believe you would say that to someone whose husband just died. You don't think it can get worse than that? I'll give you some insight.
My husband was sucked up against an industrial sized metal pipe with such force that the impact was like a car accident, and it injured his heart. But that's not what killed him. He was trapped there- alone - and suffocated to death, and wasn't found for almost two hours. Then, his body was carved up for an autopsy, then he was thrown into an incinerator where his body - my husband, father of my two babies, was burned up and reduced to a pile of ashes. So, now tell me how much worse it can get than Jeff being in the ICU with hope of recovery?
I'm going to continue praying for him, and praying for you, too, Lynn. I pray that you stop isolating Jeff, yourself and your kids, and invite the people into your life who really want to help. Open your eyes and your heart - they are all around you. Stop pushing them away. You don't know how good you have it.
Sincerely,
Andrea
PS - I don't have to explain to you or anyone else my motive for my visits to the hospital. I care. Period. Think whatever you want.

I know it might not accomplish anything mailing this out, but I had to do it for myself. I kept writing the letter over and over in my head, and now that it's mailed out and out of my hands, I can stop dwelling on it.

Valentines' Day

One thing I'm thankful for is that Matt and I never made a big deal out of holidays - especially these stupid Hallmark holidays. At least it makes it sting a bit less...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sweet Sleep

My OB called tonight to tell me that although the results of my colposcopy were good, he still recommends that I have the LEEP done since those results conflict with the results of my pap which showed acute dysplasia or something like that. He feels it's better to be safe than sorry. What he actually said was, "With your luck, you probably should have it done." LOL!!

It'll be scheduled for sometime mid March. It's about a 15 minute procedure done in the hospital under general anesthesia. He said I'll need to get a babysitter for a day and have someone drive me home from the hospital. I told him between the anesthesia and babysitter, it'll be the best rest I've had in some time - looking forward to it!

I received a positive update on Jeff, thank God, so my heart feels a bit lighter.

Other than that, I'm too tired to think anymore, so it's off to bed for me!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hitting a low point.

I decided to play hookie from work today. I woke up feeling like crap - physically and emotionally. I think the kids' colds have finally gotten to me (up 'till now I've felt surprisingly good considering they're both sick). Emotionally, I think it's actually getting harder instead of easier as time passes - creeping up on the three month mark. Shock is wearing off, and the reality that Matt is gone forever is hitting me hard. At the risk of sounding overdramatic, my heart is so full of sorrow and pain that it's literally almost hard to breathe. I know I've got to kick myself in the ass to get moving again, or I'm going to fall deeper into this hole. Speaking of holes, what I'd really love to do is just dig a hole good and deep, crawl in, curl up in a ball and stay there forever. I know I can't do that (don't anyone start worrying now).

Being home alone today gave me the opportunity to scream at the top of my lungs and cry as loud and long as I needed to. The sadness and anger I feel is so overwhelming. I'm a different person now than before all this happened and I doubt I'll ever be quite the same, but I liked who I was before. I liked who I was with Matt, and with him as the father of my children. I was always so happy that my kids would have the opportunity to grow up with two loving, patient, passionate parents in the same household - an opportunity I didn't have. I was happy and proud to have been able to provide that for my kids. I was always grateful to God for blessing us so much in so many ways. And now look. Our lives changed in an instant and we'll never get him back. I've never been so sad and angry in my entire life.

I found a website for young widows that has been somewhat helpful - showing that the things I'm thinking and feeling are pretty normal. Someone on that site posted a quote - not really a poem - that has been particularly helpful in keeping some perspective (I have it stuck to my refrigerator):

REMEMBERANCE

You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left you.

Your heart can be empty because you can no longer see him,
Or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live in yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he is gone,
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do what he'd want for you,

To Smile More, Love More, Laugh More and Go On.

In our 10 short years together, Matt gave me so much and taught me things that will stay with me forever.

He taught me to simplify things. I had a tendency to take a situation and make it so much more complicated than it needed to be and stress myself out (that's how I grew up- didn't know any other way!). He always had such a simple, easy solution, and over time, I learned his way of dealing with things, and seeing things for what they were.

He always made me feel safe. He not only was pretty wise, but his big, strong presence and kind face always made me feel comforted. I could trust him with my life - and did.

I loved the way he would just say it like it is - no sugar coating, no beating around the bush, no bullshit. He never said anything just because he thought it was what someone wanted to hear. He was brutally honest. (Wasn't always an endearing quality, but I'd rather have it that way than the alternative!)

He was a hard worker and a good provider - never did anything half-assed or left it unfinished. He'd work on it until he got it right. He was driven until he accomplished his goal - whatever it was at the time, and he always had a goal. That was his approach to everything he did. He was such a great example for our children, and for me.

He built us this beautiful house from the ground up, and nearly everything inside of it. It's full of the love he had for me and his kids, and the life he enjoyed. I never want to move from it.

He got better looking as he got older. Boy, did he ever. Let's just say I'm gonna miss him for more than just his quick wit, intelligence and sense of humor!

I really think getting all this stuff out in writing is very therapeudic for me... See, who needs a counselor?!

To my Gummy Sisters - you know who you are!

I've been getting a steady trickle of cards in the mail from my loving Gummy sisters, and I can't tell you how much it means to me. Your cards and comforting words seem to show up just at the right time when I need them (which is pretty much all the time!), and I just want you all to know how much I appreciate all of your love and support. Kristi, thank you for the great book for the kids, too - I just got that yesterday, along with your card that said just what I needed to hear that very day. I love you guys!!! <3

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another stage...

Jacob is really missing his daddy now. Up until now, he hadn't mentioned missing him, but just looking for daily confirmation that it's true that he really is dead. Now, he verbalizes that he misses his daddy, and other things like, "Do you know that I wish that my daddy was still alive?"
He told me a story this morning about how him and his Aunt Jennifer got stuck in her driveway. I asked him when that happened, and he said, "When my daddy was still alive." So apparently now the timeline of his life is based on whether his daddy was alive or dead at the time something happened. As if my heart wasn't already shattered into a million tiny fragments.

Sanity Hanging on by a Thread

I went to my attorney's office yesterday. I hate driving in the city, but hate parking there even more. The purpose of my visit was to find out what the heck I'm supposed to do with all this estate crap. I keep getting all this stuff in the mail that says "consult with your attorney" but I have had no direction from him on what to do with any of it. I called him up a few weeks ago to let him know that I needed some official form regarding the estate so I can change the titles to the vehicles into my name (lots of other stuff hinging on that) and he didn't even know what form I needed. He said he would speak to his secretary and get back to me. He never did. Mind you, he's a wrongful death atty whose firm also handles estate matters, but still! I finally figured out the name of the document I needed and requested it from his secretary. Then I thought, hell- I'll just make an appt with him and find out if he still wants to handle the estate matters, or if I should find someone else who will. That's pretty much what I told him when I got there. I also told him he should be telling me what I need to do - not the other way around! He took it well, I have to say. I thought for sure he'd get defensive. There's another attorney in the firm that specializes in the estate stuff, so I was able to meet with him. Nice guy, but I really didn't need to know the history of estate laws and what I might need to do 10 years from now. After I finally got him back to the here and now, I got the information I needed and left. I was exhausted after all that, and it was barely noon.

My next agenda was to visit my friend in the hospital. I get there, and his wife takes one look at me and says, "He's sleeping." No "hello, how are you, kiss my ass." She basically told me she doesn't want visitors except for family. I couldn't logically see the reasoning behind that and we exchanged a bit further on the subject. I stayed for a bit and visited with his other family who didn't seem to mind me being there, and then I left. I get a call a little while later from her saying she doesn't know what my interest is in her husband but that she doesn't want me to go back at all. I told her I've worked with him for 6 years and he's my friend. She said something accusatory and I lashed out. She said something else I didn't catch because of my stupid bluetooth, and then she hung up.

I'm mourning my husband who has been dead for less than 3 months, and she thinks I'm after hers? WTF? How did my life get so complicated??? Just a few short months ago my life was perfectly simple... married to my wonderful hubby, hoping he'd get put onto first shift soon so we could actually see each other, working full time, taking care of our two beautiful kids, spending time with friends. Simple. No drama. I HATE drama, and now look at my life. I could write a f***ing book. I am so. f***ing. angry. How did things get like this? I want my old life back!

I'll abide by her wishes and stay away. Not for her, but out of respect for his family and his other friends who apparently haven't been banned from visiting (must be all men). They don't need any more drama than they're already dealing with, and Lord knows I don't need it. I was going because I hoped that somehow I was helping Jeff and the other people there supporting him, but I think I'm too bitter and angry to be any good for anyone at this point. I think this grief crap has taken it's tolll on my sanity. What I really wanted to say to her was, "At least your husband is alive, you ungrateful bitch!" I mean, don't normal people take some comfort in the fact that so many people care and embrace them for it - not turn them away?

And here I am, wanting to tell off this woman whose husband is in the ICU. Something is wrong with me. I think I need to look for another grief counselor.

Cliff, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. And I also meant to mention to Jim and your mom when I was there that maybe Jeff's legs should be propped up w/a pillow underneath them. My sister has spinal stenosis, too, and she can't sleep one night flat on her back without being in agony the next day, let alone day after day being in the hospital like he is. Maybe it would take some of the pressure off his back, and maybe even his head by extending his spine a bit? It's worth mentioning it to the doc, anyway...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Too Much!!!

Went to see my buddy Jeff in the ICU yesterday... It was such a relief to see him. I made the decision to go see him a few days ago, and ever since, I could hardly think of anything else until I got there. I had everyone at work sign a card, and I couldn't get myself to the hospital fast enough. Almost wasn't "allowed" to see him, but managed to weisel my way in there. I'm going to be a regular now. I need to see him and see for myself that he's doing OK- I'm just so thankful that he's alive and doing as well as he is. He's got an awesome family and a ton of support from them. Between the stories Jeff has told me about his family, and talking to one of his brothers at the hospital, I want them to adopt me! They have these awesome family get togethers full of great food, lots of beer, and plenty of banter. My kind of people!

I'm a bit overwhelmed right now with all the stuff going on and all the things I have to take care of. I'm trying hard to not just shut down from it all and keep pushing through. I got quite a bit taken care of yesterday - took Sydney to the doc (she's now on antibiotics - first time ever for her). Got to see Jeff. After, I went to Cameron and talked to Renee and got a bunch of answers to my questions, and unloaded Matt's Cameron shirts and briefcase with their logo. They can have them back. I did keep one of his Cameron shirts... I asked them to change the date of the 5K they're planning in Matt's honor to August 23 instead of the 30... They kept changing the date w/out consulting me (nice, huh). Did they stop to consider that Matt's family and my family (who are all pretty much on the west coast) would like to participate? And the people I work with that also worked with Matt for years want to participate, and they wouldn't be able to if the date hadn't changed. Also, I asked them if they could have the golf tournament the same week so Matt's family could participate in that as well. They're working on that. I also told them I would like to be notified of publications before they get printed in the paper so I know to save them, and not have to have them pointed out to me by friends who happen to come across them. I made an appt with my attorney because all this estate stuff is coming up, and everything I'm getting says, "consult with your attorney" - he hasn't done squat for me, and I need some guidance! Especially since most of this junk is tax related, and the deadline is coming up in April.

Did I mention I have yet to write any Thank You's? I've got a million papers in a hundred different piles in my bedroom and I need some time to put them in order to make sense of everything.

I have pictures of Matt and the kids that I'm putting into frames to hang in their rooms - those are also in piles in my bedroom right now. I can't live in this chaos - I need cleanliness and organization to be sane, so until I get this stuff taken care of, I can't relax. Perhaps I should be home getting it done instead of accomplishing nothing at work (except for this blog)?

I do have something to look forward to, though - a bunch of people from work (from the "younger" crowd) are taking me out tomorrow night. Complete with a designated driver. My aunt and uncle will be babysitting for me, and I'm sure I'll get looks of disapproval when I come stumbling through the door, but I don't even care. I need a night out BAD. On one hand, I can't wait. On the other, I just wanna stay home and sleep. I'm not going to cancel, though... I need this more than sleep. I just wish it was Matt that could help get me into the house and into bed after a good night of overindulgence...

One thing I need to make the time for is to train for this 5K... the test engineers Matt worked with will be running in it, along with some other good runners. Matt was a runner. I used to be a runner (back in the day) but due to a bum knee and child bearing, I'm not conditioned for it anymore. I printed their times from the Corporate Challenge in June and plan to use that as my goal- I'm gonna kick some Cameron butt in this race!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Year, New Life

We are well on our way into 2009... It's been a while since I've updated, but there's just so much to say that I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll begin by saying that I don't like this new life that I need to live, but I will. I'll do it for my kids, and I'll do it with a smile for them. Thank God for them - I'm the luckiest mom in the world. Sydney is 20 months, and she's SO smart. She is empathetic and sweet, counts to three, sleeping in her big girl bed since before Christmas, helps with laundry and even has good manners! She's got a great sense of humor, is a little spitfire and full of spunk. Jacob at 4 1/2 seems more mature, and he is looking more grown up somehow, too. He's got a great imagination and can do amazing things already with tiny lego pieces. He is so much like his daddy - his ability to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to fix things and make things. Poor guy has been sick all winter, and now has an upper respiratory infection. Sydney's on her way for her first one now, too - fun fun.

I don't have the ability right now to put into words just how incredible these kids are, but for those that know them, I don't need to.

I think Matt started a shitstorm of events... one of my best friends had a miscarriage, our friend's brother is battling Hodgkins Lymphoma, another friend of ours had a brain bleed, went into cardiac arrest and is having his own battle for his life right now, and to top it off, one of my other best friend's husbands has a tumor in a lymph node in his neck and we are now waiting to find out if it's benign or if he has Hodgkins Lymphoma, too. Oh - I have atypical cells on my cervix and will probably need a leep in the near future. Sorry - I hate to be all gloom and doom, but it just seems that way lately. Despite all that, I really am trying to stay positive. Really I am (sounds like it, huh?)

I had a couple of wonderful out of state friends come to visit me this past weekend. It was so therapeudic to have them here! We even took at little road trip on Saturday and visited with another friend. I have to say, for having to live my worst nightmare, at least I have the best support system I could ever ask for- I've really got the best friends and family to help us through.

Several people have said to me, "It must be so hard doing everything yourself now" - and my response is always, "I really don't mind at all - that's the easy part. It's this other shit that's hard."

On a daily basis, Jacob either asks or says in statement form, "My Daddy is dead, right?" like he needs constant confirmation to really get it through his head. Yesterday for the first time, he said, "I miss Daddy." Mind you, he said this as he's dancing to the Polar Express's "Hot Chocolate" song... gotta love kids. He's also asked me on several occassions if we can get a new daddy. I don't know why, but this bothers me more than any of his other statements or questions. I don't want him to think anyone can replace his daddy. Ever.

I've been back to work now for a while, but am still not really productive. I don't know how they're still paying me. That's the other thing I'm thankful for - my job, and the people I work with... They're all being so patient, and are also a huge source of support. In fact, I'm getting paid to type this as we speak (shhhhh)! I can only seem to focus on work for short, infrequent spurts. Well, better than nothing, I guess.

I had been seeing a grief counselor for a while, but I really don't think she's doing anything for me. In fact, her soft, passive voice grates on my nerves. When I cancelled my last appointment with her, just hearing her voice over the phone pissed me off. I'd rather spend my $20 copays on something more fun - like new boots, pizza and wings, or a box of wine... Retail therapy, in my opinion, is SO much more effective!