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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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Faking it.

For the past eight and a half months, I have felt like none of this really happened. It couldn't have. I'm just playing out some sick, twisted movie plot and going through the motions. Doing and saying what I think are the right things to do and say. Matt didn't really die; this is some horrible hoax, and I'm just playing the part of a widow and single mom. He's going to walk through that door any moment, like nothing ever happened.

Denial, anyone?

Especially the past few days with our wedding anniversary... Everyone probably thinks I'm handling things so well, but in reality, I just simply haven't dealt with it. I've been pushing it aside, and not letting myself feel. After all, I've been so busy with all the paper work, phone calls, arrangments, etc. associated with the purchase of my new home and move across the country, that I haven't even had time to process what's happening in my heart. Thank God. I'm using that to it's full benefit. It's probably not healthy, but that's exactly what I'm doing.

I've also been in complete denial about my uncle. I have not dealt with his death - at all. I haven't sent out a card, email, phone call, nothing yet. I haven't processed it in my head. It doesn't seem real, either. Another man who was so full of life and spunk.

I must have some defense mechanism that's working in overdrive right now trying to keep me sane, preserving my energy for my kids and this house transaction. My friends and family on this coast are totally broken up about the kids and I moving so far away, and as much as I'm going to miss them terribly, all I can think of is, "I can't wait to get the hell out of here!" It's not that it's bad here - not at all. I'm surrounded by so many wonderful people, and my life here was great. But I have to get out.

I feel a little guilty about all this, and about my lack of acknowledgment of my uncle's death, and about my lack of tears about leaving everyone here. But only a little guilty... I'm pushing the guilt feelings aside, too. I'm a cold-hearted bitch.

This self-preservation technique that I've been implementing for the past week or so is bound to bite me in the ass soon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seven years ago today...

Right about this time, I was getting my hair styled into a fancy up-do, attached to a long, white veil. A little while later, I was to step into the gown that would carry me through the day with my feet never touching the ground. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Matt and I were finally making it official! He was going to be my husband, and I was going to be his wife. We were going to start our new life together - married, and that would give us the "license" to have children together someday - soon!

Our family and friends were all in town to celebrate with us. Matt was typically a casual dresser, but that day, he was all decked out in a tuxedo, and my goodness... I didn't think it was possible for him to be any more handsome. And Oh My God - I get to spend the rest of my life with this big, strong, hunky, loveable man!

It was a scorching hot summer day, but as the girls and I sat in the air-conditioned limo on the way to the church, Pink's "Get the Party Started" came on. I thought that was such an appropriate, fun song for that moment!

I will never forget standing in the front of the church, facing Matt, as he was about to become my husband. It felt like we were the only two people in the place. We stared into each other's faces, and that's all we could see. We were in awe that we were finally standing here, in wedding attire, promising to love each other forever no matter what, surrounded by everyone that loves us. Starting our new life. Seven years ago today.

We never could have imagined that each day after that, we would love each other even more.

I never would have imagined that our life together would come to an end so soon. So abruptly. So violently.

This morning, Jacob asked me how babies got in my belly. I told him that it's a combination of things, but mainly, it was Daddy's love, Mommy's love, and God's love that all came together to make him and his sister. That answer was sufficient for him. For now...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whirlwind weekend!

I've had plans to go to the Soaring Spirits Conference in San Diego for four months before the actual event, but what I didn't plan on at that time was buying a house in LA at the same time as the conference was going on!

I got through the first leg of the trip on Friday - Buffalo to Atlanta, but my connecting flight to San Diego was already boarding by the time I landed, and it was all the way on the other side of the airport. I made it to the gate just in time. However, they changed the gate where the connection was to be made, and it turned out it was on the opposite end of the airport - the same area in which I arrived. AHH! Missed my flight.

I got a stand-by ticket for the next flight out which wasn't scheduled to leave for another two hours (6:40 pm). Found the gate where I needed to be and noticed there was a bar/restaurant right across the way. What luck! I stood in line what seemed like forever for a drink, and so were several other people. Finally, we told the waiter that if we could get seated sooner by sitting together, we're willing to do that. It worked!

The four of us - Bridget, Les and Rich, made the best of our free time at the airport and shared stories, beer, and I even talked them into doing a shot (or two...) of Jager with me! We had an awesome time and exchanged contact information. Good people. Can't think of a better way to spend a layover. I had so much fun that I nearly missed the next flight!

I went up to the gate saying a prayer under my (liquor-smelling) breath that they had room for me on the plane. The woman said nope- sorry. WHAT?? I asked if she was kidding, and she said no. I said, "I'm on my way to a conference on widowhood, and it's only a day and a half long!! This is a nightmare!" I seriously thought I was going to cry, since the next flight out wasn't until 8:00 am the next morning.

Somehow, a seat became available instantly. What a coincidence! She must have felt sorry for me.

On the long, four-hour flight to San Diego, I made another friend, Phil. A 20 year old college student/Navy recruit with great taste in music. We shared his ipod headphones and sang Mariah Carey duets with Luther Vandross and Boyz II Men, and we sounded great! The ick factor from sharing headphones didn't occur to me until later when I told someone about my mini concert on the plane... Oops. For the record, he looked very clean-cut, so I'm not too worried.

Got a little rest before we finally landed in San Diego. As much fun as it was, it was a long ass flight. Thank goodness for the three hour gain - there was still some night left. Took a cab to the beautiful hotel on the Marina, checked in and went up to my room to drop off my bags. I can't remember the last time I stayed at a hotel, so I had a heck of a time getting the room key to work. After about 15 minutes fighting with the stupid thing and breaking a sweat, it finally let me in.

By that time, I could barely wait another moment to meet up with some widows and widower for a drink! I went on a wild goose chase looking for them around the streets of downtown San Diego, only to find out they returned back to the hotel. UGH.

On the way back to the hotel, I heard a man yelling behind me. Turned around, and he's yelling at me. Some crazy dude that was probably about to mug me was within an inch of the back of my head, so I double backed and blended in with a group of people who waved me over to them. They saw the whole thing transpire, and asked if I'd be OK.

Of course I'll be OK!! I survived the death of my husband for 8 months now, I can do anything! Plus, I've got some weird complex that I've had my whole life that makes me think I'm way bigger than I am. I can kick anyone's ass. I confidently (and briskly) walked back to the hotel and finally met up with my group.

By then, adrenaline is pumping, and I'm thoroughly ready for a drink. My friend Matt introduced me to the other widows at the table, and then came to Rachel. He introduced her to me as the only woman at the table who hasn't had a husband die. My reply was, "That can be arranged! Is she married?"

That was the first impression I made to this group... And they STILL like me!

The conference was amazing. Michele Neff Hernandez and her crew did a truly admirable job putting it all together.

I met some awesome women - Jackie, Rachel, Melodie, Candice, Erynn, Kim, Janine and many more not named. Some of which will likely be lifelong friends. They give better descriptions of the weekend on their blogs than I can, but in short, I learned a lot, cried a little, and laughed a whole bunch!! These people know how to party! I fully intend to participate again next year.

By the way, this conference is open not to just widows, but widowers and family/friends of people who have lost a spouse and would like to learn more about how to support the ones they love, including the children (no matter how young) who have lost a parent.

Good thing Matt L. picks up strays, because I was able to hitch a ride with him and Rachel to Los Angeles to see the house I bought sight-unseen a few days before this trip. Turns out, I LOVE IT. I signed the rest of the documents to make it official. My realtor is awesome.

Stayed with my wonderful brother and his family on Sunday night, got some sleep for the first time in two days, and finally made it back to my little family late Monday night. Thanks to my sweet sister who took good care of my kiddos while I was away!

Edited to add: I almost forgot to mention the lady I met while in Buffalo waiting for the flight out... her name was Elayne, and somehow we got talking about Matt's death. She told me that her first husband died when she was in her early 20's when her daughter was two years old. She wanted to tell me her story because she was traveling that day with her husband of 40+ years and is leading a happy life... Her daughter lives in the same area that I bought my house!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finally, some good news!!!

It's been one hell of a week.

My babysitter has been away on a family vacation/road trip, and I've been off of work.

The company I work for hired someone to take my position, so I had to go into work to do a little training with her, but had to bring the kids with me. Needless to say, not a whole lot has gotten accomplished.

I've had to run into work various other times as well to send out faxes, print documents, etc. because my printer at home isn't working, and I don't have fax capabilities. Dragging the kids back and forth with me each time.

My uncle declined quickly and passed away. He lives in North Carolina. My sister, who was here to help me out and then stay with my kids while I go to San Diego for the Soaring Spirits Conference, went to North Carolina (I sound unforgiveably selfish here, I know). My sister won't be back until Friday night, so as it is, I have to dump them off on some friends who willingly offered to help me out - thank goodness.

Uncle Frankie's funeral is tomorrow (Thursday), and I can't go. I so want to be there to support my family, but I don't want to drag the kids to NC for a funeral and then come home only to dump them off so I can fly to San Diego on Friday for a conference on widowhood that I've had planned for four months and am really looking forward to. I'm going to plan a separate trip to North Carolina at some point when things calm down.

I have a sinus infection and feel like shit. So not only do I have to drag the kids to the office today to send off more documents, but I also have to drag them to a germy doctor's office with me.

The paperwork, however, is good (finally - here comes the good news!!!) - it's all because of the one little light in all this mess. I saw a listing this Friday for a home in the same beautiful area in California as the home I found before. The offer I put on that first house would likely take months to be accepted because it's a short sale (long explanation). My awesome realtor was able to get in there Friday night to look at it for me. Since we had looked at 23 houses together last month, I'm pretty confident that he knows what I'm looking for and what my taste is. He said it's even nicer than the other home. I made an offer on this house on Saturday, and on Sunday night it was ACCEPTED!!! This home is a nice, normal, clean sale, and my offer was accepted. Oh my goodness... it's really happening now!! I'm excited and scared... scared because I need to sell my house in NY now. Like, NOW.

I need to get all this paperwork in order, signed, sent off, etc. The closing is in 30 days!!!!!!

The inspection is today at 4pm. I changed my flight so that I fly into San Diego and leave out of LAX so I can see the house Sunday afternoon after the conference.

My poor kids are being neglected by me, though, and as a result, are acting up more than usual. Between being on the phone, paperwork, writing this entry, etc., it's making every little thing even more challenging. This is not how I like to parent. Especially when it's not often I get to be home with them this much.

But finally - a plan, and a good solid beginning to a fresh start!

Off to go pick up some antibiotics now....

July 11, 2009, Part II

My wonderful Uncle Frankie left this world around 11pm EST. He must have wanted to be with Matt on his birthday. The world has lost yet another beautiful soul.

My Uncle Frank was so awesome - down to earth, funny, sweet and generous. He retired several years ago as a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army, and was highly respected by everyone that knew him.

Now he's reunited with Aunt Shirley, his wife who passed only three years before him. We'll miss you, Uncle Frank.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 11, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, My Love!

Since we can't go on a destination celebration, I bought you a flat screen TV instead. The kids and I are going to pick it up today! We thought it would be easier to take that with us to California than the huge, heavy, older TV we have (that I can't get a remote to work with it to safe my life).

I also have another surprise in the works, too.... Hopefully I'll have a good update for you later today on that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

7/10/09

Most times, I just still can't comprehend that he's really gone... like right now. I feel like he should be sitting at the picnic table with us, eating corn on the cob.

His bike clothes should be hanging on the railing of the deck, drying out after a long ride on a nice day, along with wet towels from swimming in the pool. He should be making the kids squeal with laughter and frustration with his teasing and playing. He should be telling me he has to mow the lawn before dark since it's a nice day because it'll probably rain again soon.

He should be making a wish and blowing out the candles on his ice cream cake tomorrow after the kids and I sing Happy Birthday to him.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 6, 2009

Last night was rough. I tucked Jacob into bed, laid with him and we watched each other's faces until his eyes closed and he fell asleep. Then I started crying, and just couldn't stop. I can usually turn it off at some point, but the whole time I cleaned the kitchen, took a shower and got ready for bed, all I did was cry. It felt kind of good in a way - like a much-needed release, since I'm not always able to do that, but it got annoying after a while. A good friend called me up just before I got into bed - just at the right time, and talked me out of it. I was able to fall asleep able to breathe through my nose.

Then, I had the most wonderful dream. I saw Matt - so clearly. He was leaning up against something, resting on his elbows, talking to a man that was standing to his right. I was to his left... I looked over and saw him, and couldn't believe my eyes. There he was - in the flesh, looking as handsome as ever. He looked to his left and saw me, and gave me a sweet smirk (I call it the Tom Selleck look). I walked up to him and ran my hand slowly along his back, feeling the happiest I've felt in almost eight months. He stood up, and as we got closer to each other's faces, I tried not to get too excited so that I wouldn't wake myself up like I'd done before. Slowly, our faces got very close, and I whispered to him, "I miss you." Then we kissed. As our lips touched, I tried to take it all in - the feel of his lips on mine, our arms around each other, his smell. He smelled different, but who cares... I finally got to see, touch, feel, smell, taste my love after all this time. In my head, I repeated, "I love you I love you I love you" over and over, hoping he could feel all of my love in our kiss.

I woke up very happy this morning. I think Matt knew that I really needed him. I can only hope that I can have more of these dreams, because if I can't have him with me in life, at least I can have him in my dreams. I'll take it.

Jacob and I got up at the same time this morning - 9am!!! It felt great to sleep in... He and I went into Sydney's room, and the two of us crawled into bed with her. It was a great moment - all three of us lined up in her little twin bed, under the flowery covers, as I basked in the memory of a dream that will carry me through another day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A week from today...

Not only is today my first 4th of July without Matt, but in one week, it will be Matt's 40th birthday. I know that day is going to be especially hard for his parents and brothers.

I plan to get an ice cream cake (his favorite), and the kids and I are going to sing Happy Birthday to him. I don't want to break that tradition. Matt's mom said they plan to do the same on the other coast. It will still be his day - on both sides of the country.

All three of his brothers celebrated their 40th birthdays in a big way - a trip with the whole family (brothers, wives, older kids) to Vegas. I'm pretty sure it was Vegas all three times... I was either pregnant or nursing a newborn each time, so I couldn't participate, but I fully intended to plan and participate in this birthday celebration. I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to plan for him - I wasn't convinced Vegas was where he really wanted to go. I was thinking more like a trip to Mexico - maybe San Felipe like we had done in the past.

Before Matt and I were married, we met his whole family in San Diego and drove down to San Felipe. We camped in tents on the beach in November. It started off cold, but each day got warmer and we ended up extending our stay. It was so beautiful that no one wanted to leave. Even though I ended up with bronchitis, I didn't want to leave, either. I felt a little bad keeping everyone awake with my coughing all night long, and I felt like shit, but it was still fun! When the tide was out, we walked far out into the ocean and collected lots of beautiful sand dollars (that I ended up leaving at Greg's in San Diego). I even took part in riding one of his brothers' quads over the doons, and got pretty daring at it.

Tent camping wasn't in the plans this time around, so a condo was a consideration. His mom was going to help me plan, but we never got the chance.

I was going to take the kids to see some fireworks last night, but it was raining, of course. I'm so sick of rain! Someone said to me a while back when I was deciding about moving to California, "Everything is easier to deal with when the sun is shining."

I can't wait to get my ass out there.

Especially since I'll have another hurdle to get through this month... Our 7th wedding anniversary.

I'm just not in the mood for fireworks tonight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 2, 2009

Today I began cleaning out my office. My last day of work isn't until July 31, but since Jennifer is going on a road trip for the next couple of weeks, I'll be working from home. I figured as long as I was bringing a bunch of work home with me today, I'd bring some of my personal belongings home, too. As I was going through my desk, I came across a couple of notes that Matt wrote to me.

The first said, "Curly Quattro, I love you. M"

Now, as you probably guessed, there's a little back story on that one... A couple of years ago, I got a perm. I don't really know what I was thinking... I just wanted a little extra body in my hair, and thought that would do the trick. Well, it did. Apparently the hairdresser and I had some miscommunication because I ended up with a poodle perm. I won't make that mistake again anytime soon...

As it was, anytime I told Matt I was going to get my hair cut, he would reply with, "OK. Jacob and I are leaving town."

I used to overreact to bad hair cuts (I have since gotten some perspective on that - it's only hair, right?) and would make Matt pretty miserable with the aftermath. So, as you can imagine, a bad perm threw me a little. Thing is, Matt always preferred my hair curly, so he actually loved it! He said it bumped up my rank from #7 -he he... Apparently I made it to number four because he started calling me Curly Quattro.

We were still working at the same place when he came into my office while I wasn't there, wrote that note and left it on my desk for me to find. I never threw out any sweet notes like that, or any of the cards that he gave me. Thank God. He had such a beautiful way of expressing himself to me in cards. I treasure them.

The second note I found was just a brief little thank you for printing out one of his final papers for school. "Thanks, My Love."

The notes caused my mind to drift back to better days when all was right with the world - or at least in my world. I loved working at the same place that he did... I never got tired of seeing him around the campus. In fact, I rather admired him in his Carhartt work pants, and when I'd see him walking to the dining hall where we were all headed for lunch, my stomach would still do a little flip. I loved catching his eye while we were in there, and exchange a little unspoken message... I loved it that we had it so good.