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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, October 21, 2009

Random current events - getting caught up...

Some recent quotes:

"Mommy, every time I eat this it reminds me of home sweet home." - Jacob, while eating his grilled, marinated salmon.

"I love you brown and pink hearts." - Jacob (His current favorite colors are brown and pink.)

"Is that a lot of pancake for one little boy?" - Jacob, while eating the giant pancake I made him for breakfast on Saturday (he ate the whole thing).

"Don't you tell your momma no!" - Jacob (to Sydney after she told me "no" in a very adamant tone.)

"Daddy all gone." - Sydney (just a random comment - couldn't connect it to anything happening at the moment.)

"Bubbles!" - Sydney (after she tooted - we call the tubby toots "hiney bubbles" but she wasn't in the tub when she said that.)

Dinner conversation with Jacob from the other night:

Jacob: "Mommy, are you thinking about the Polar Express right now?"

Me - "Ha ha! No!" (He's on a BIG Polar Express kick again after a nice, long hiatus from it.)

Jacob asked, "What are you thinking about right now?"

I said, "Mr. Matt's wife, Liz - Maddy's mommy." (I had just finished reading this post.)

Jacob - "She died."

Me - "Yes, she did. What are you thinking about right now?"

Jacob: "The Polar Express songs..."

Later that same evening:

Jacob: "What's your favorite color?"

Me: "Pink."

Jacob: "I love you one hundred pink hearts."

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I had a dream the other night that Matt had just been hired as a professor to teach a mechanical engineering course at a college in California. I went with him to see the huge classroom that was assigned to him - it had balcony seating above, as well as auditorium-like seating below. He was a little quiet, rubbing the tuft of hair on his chin, trying not to let on to his nervousness at his new responsibilities. Afterwards, a bunch of the guys and some of the girls all went out for a beer to celebrate. We walked down a spooky old street with unfamiliar trees to the bar. I didn't recognize any of the people, but they were all friends with Matt through his new job.

If only...

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My brother and I went to the U2 concert at the Rose Bowl on Sunday, October 25. It was sort of a last minute decision to go, but I found cheap seats and I thought why not - it's practically in my back yard! We had such a great time. We took a shuttle to the venue, and the driver actually got lost. What should have taken about five minutes took almost twenty, and when he stopped to ask a crossing guard for directions, Bryan and I decided to bail (before I hurled from bus-sickness). So did the rest of the bus. Black Eyed Peas opened, and did an awesome job. U2, of course, was phenomenal. I had always wanted to go to one of their concerts - they are my favorite band, after all. It was somehow incredibly emotional for me, though - lots of factors involved I think... Between finally getting to see my favorite band play live, Matt not being there to share the experience with, hearing songs that I listen to when I'm driving... I think that's the biggest one. Driving is when my mind tends to wander the most towards thoughts and memories of Matt, and it was the one place (well, at least when I was working) where I could cry, scream, and let it all out with no one to witness. One song, in particular, has been my theme song since I decided to move, and they played it that night. Of course, I bawled.

I was talking to the lady seated next to me, and it came up in conversation that Bryan was my brother, and she asked where my husband was. I told her.

I must have cried more than I even realized that night, because when I woke up the next morning, my eyes were so puffy that I couldn't get my contacts in. It's been a while since I cried that much (and cheered) in one night. A much-needed release, I'm sure. All the wine I drank probably contributed to that, too.

Bryan and I skipped the return shuttle and walked from the Rose Bowl to my house. How cool is it to be within walking distance to the Rose Bowl???

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I have been in a serious funk lately (I think I mentioned that before) and I know one of the things that has been weighing on me was not having the pictures, the rest of the curtains and the shades hung. I finally got the majority of it done in a day and a half, and I feel a lot better - boy does my house look cute!! I know, pictures... they're coming. I also attempted to anchor the bookshelf to the wall as a preventative earthquake measure, and ended up making swiss cheese out of the wall with the drill. It's tough to find studs behind lath and plaster walls! I left that for later - thought it was probably best to walk away from it for the time being...
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I had my friend, her husband and their little girl (who Jacob said he's going to marry someday) over for an impromptu dinner just the other night (we have been having a lot of those - it's been fun!). The winds were picking up and got extremely gusty as the evening went on. We were talking during dinner about having enough flashlights, matches, candles, etc. in the event of a power outage. After discussing my lack of preparedness, Bill went out to pick up a lighter, some flashlights and extra water, and no sooner did he leave when the power went out! Fortunately, I did end up finding some matches and lit the candles I had around the house. It looked so beautiful in there. Power went back on about an hour or so after that.
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The next day after the power outage, I was getting the kids ready for bed. They were both being so incredibly challenging, and I was at my breaking point. What didn't help was the fact that there is a very thin line lately between seeming to have my shit together and having a breakdown. It doesn't take much to throw me lately. I generally try to keep myself somewhat together in front of the kids - I want them to know stability and feel secure with me, but that it's OK to cry once in a while, because everyone cries. Well, I ended up having a major breakdown in front of the kids - I just couldn't hold it in anymore. What happens with me is before a breakdown, I get angry, and I usually can't even put my finger on exactly why. But my nerves get frayed, and I get angry until I finally break down and cry, and then I feel better. I wish I could skip the anger crap and just get to the crying and feeling better. So, there I am, on the floor in the bathroom, and Sydney - all 2.5 years of her, comes up to me and rubs my back and mumbled some sweet words to me. I look up to see her big brother who is looking at me with the same look on his face that Matt would get when he didn't know how to handle me. My poor kids.

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Halloween sucked and was great, all at the same time. All I could think about was Halloween last year when Matt, the kids and I went trick or treating with two of my best friends and their kids. We drove to the town they live in, met at Connie's house, had a little pizza and wing party and went trick or treating from there. Matt walked Jacob (who was dressed up as a bell - a subject for another post) up to each house, while he either had Sydney on his shoulders or I was pushing her in the stroller. It was going to be such a great tradition - especially when Sydney was old enough to participate and enjoy the experience.

This year, one of my neighbors three doors down invited the kids and I to their house for a Halloween party, and there were probably 15 kids there, all close in age. Jacob and Sydney were in their glory. Jacob wore his ghost costume for a total of five minutes, but Sydney looked adorable as Tinkerbell (I know, I know, pictures... eventually). Matt's friend Rick would have been so proud - Jacob was rocking out on a toy drum set in the garage, and Sydney was his sidekick on the keyboard. I had a flash forward picture in my head of them in about 16 years, in a band... After the party, we all went trick or treating in our lovely neighborhood. Sydney, my big girl, went up to each house, and said "Trick or Treat," "Thank you," and "Happy Halloween." Jacob was running ahead of us with the gang of boys singing the Trick or Treat song.... A nice new tradition, but still leaves me longing for the old one (minus the lousy weather).

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The kids and I had a fun playdate with Melodie and Reece today. We both took away a feeling of peace, comfort and camaraderie. Plus, she's fun to hang out with, and Reece is a sweetheart. We'll definitely be getting together more often. I have to say, one of the perks to moving out here are the great new young widowed friends who live nearby - Michele (who came out to visit me soon after I moved and is responsible for getting all us widowed folk together), Matt L. (who has been a great friend and hooked me up with some good music and more good friends), Melodie, and I think Erynn also lives close - I have to look into that. Did I miss anyone near LA?? After that, we drove to my brother's and hung out with them for a while and had Pacos (the BEST Mexican food in Cali!) for dinner. It was a good day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life."

It was a year ago today when I wrote those words. Little did I know that in less than a month from then, our lives would be so altered.

A year ago yesterday, I initiated myself into the blogging world with this. What a blessing that was. I never would have known of the widowhood community that has helped me survive the past year. The community that has offered so much support, though I feel like I've neglected them being so consumed with my own grief. I promise I'll give back.

I was laying in bed last night, listening to Jacob cough, trying to figure out why I'm so stuck and wondering how to move forward. Attempting to think objectively, I realize that first of all, I know that everyone does this grieving thing at their own pace. It can be two steps forward, one step back, or one step forward and three steps back. Everyone is different and every situation is different. I'm one of those people that doesn't have enough patience with myself. Rationally, I know it's gonna take time, but I'm tired of hurting, tired of grieving. Tired of all these negative emotions. I'm just plain tired.

I realize I'm probably stuck because I haven't reached the point of "acceptance." I'm still pissed for Matt because he was at the best time in his life when his life ended. He finally finished school, just got his dream job, was finally fulfilling his goals which also included enjoying his wife and two young children. He was young, healthy, and so deserved everything he worked so hard for, and he was only able to enjoy the fruits of his labor for such a short time. It's so unfair.

I'm brokenhearted for my children, because they won't get to know their amazing, involved, loving, strong, fun, patient father the way they should have. He had knowledge and skills he needed to pass on to them.

I'm sad for myself that I didn't have him longer. We were so in love. I was so fulfilled with him in my life. I loved knowing that my children would have the one thing I didn't have growing up - a mommy and daddy team. A good, healthy example of what it's like to grow up with married parents who enjoy being in each other's company, and who like parenting the kids they're raising and appreciate the life they're living. A husband who did more than his share of the work around the home. I had it pretty easy.

So often I try to put myself in his shoes... what was he thinking during his last moments? What have been his thoughts and feelings since? Is he angry, sad, disappointed, at peace? Knowing Matt, he was probably pretty pissed at first, and sad, but he's so level headed and even tempered that I know he made peace with his fate. If I could ask him how he could be OK with this, he'd probably say he didn't have a choice, so it's either be at peace with it, or in a constant state of anger and denial. Who wants to live eternity with that? With death comes wisdom. (I don't know where I came up with that - it just popped in my head and I had to write it down.)

I suppose if he can come to terms with it, I should try to, too. I don't want to live what life I have left in a constant state of sadness and despair, wishing I could turn the clock back. I know full well that is not in my power, and it's fruitless to even think about that. A waste of energy and emotions, though there are moments when I just can't help myself. There are times when I can barely function, and then there are times when I think I can totally do this. By some miracle, I've gotten this far; I can make it the rest of the way.

I actually think that one of the things possibly holding me back is guilt. Is it OK for me to get to the point where I can accept what has been dealt to us, and maybe even be happy again? (That's a rhetorical question...) Logically, I know it is OK - I would want that for anyone else going through this shit. But it's different when it comes to wanting that for yourself. At least for me, it's almost like I can't let myself past this hump yet because maybe I should feel like shit longer than this after losing the love of my life.

One of the things Matt and I had talked about was who would die first. After some discussion (and me crying at the mere thought of it), he came to the conclusion that I should die first because I couldn't handle it if he died first and left me behind. I was totally in agreement with that decision! The thing I wasn't in agreement with was when he told me that if I died first, he would marry again. My response was, "WHAT? Hmph!" It's strange the things that we discussed for being a young, healthy couple, but I'm sure glad we did.

So, today is the first day of the rest of my life. 36 should be interesting...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 16 & 17

I had a much needed night out with some friends last night. I was able to find a babysitter at the last minute, and enjoy a few hours with some other grown ups and just relax, visit, and laugh. Just what the doctor ordered! The timing was good - I've been in a funk.

Today, my brother and nephew came over and they took Jacob with them on a hike into the mountains while Sydney took her nap.

There are times when I feel Matt's presence so strongly. I don't mean that necessarily like his spirit is hanging around here, but that there are moments when I know exactly what he would do or say in a certain situation. For example, tonight when my brother was having dinner with us, he was telling me about his hike in the mountains with the boys, and how there were a bunch of other young boys there with two of their moms. The moment he mentioned the moms, I instantly thought of Matt's voice asking,

"Were they hot?"

Ha ha! And I'm fairly certain that he was glad he wasn't around to have dinner with us tonight because I know he wouldn't have liked what was on the menu...

I love it when those vivid thoughts pop into my head. It really makes it feel like Matt is still with me, close by, still putting in his two cents. It's so comforting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

At Last.

This song by Etta James was our wedding song. It was so fitting for us because we met each other in our mid/late twenties, when we both were beginning to lose hope that we'd ever find the "one." We were both so grateful when we finally did, and were grateful the whole time we were together. What a short ride.

The only time I'd hear this song is when I listened to the CD (which I did often), and I only tortured myself with the song once or twice shortly after Matt died.

There's a station here in Cali that plays it quite often - I must have heard it at least three times already in the month and a half I've been here. Hearing this song used to invoke a sentimental, warm, fuzzy feeling in me. Now, somehow at the very same time, it makes me feel empty, lost, angry, sad, hopeless. How it's possible to feel all that at the same time, I don't know. How it's possible to not crash while driving and bawling, I don't know that, either.

Time does not heal. Maybe it does for some things, but when it comes to grieving the death your spouse, that's a big crock of shit. I am still in disbelief that Matt is gone and that I'll never get to see him, hug him, kiss him, talk to him ever again, and it's almost a year now. Can you believe that? Almost an entire year ago already. One month from today. At least I know I can survive, smile, laugh and even have moments when I feel happy, but that pain? It will always be there, no matter what good ever happens in my life.

You would think that in that amount of time, the pain would lessen. It almost seems like with this one year mark approaching that it's making it seem even more fresh. Every night, I vividly dream that I'm missing Matt, grieving his loss all night. I wake up exhausted, only to grieve him all day, too. Time for one of those emotionally numbing breaks and hoping it comes soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Updates

So far, my sister's surgery has yielded the desired results! She's actually in less pain post op then she was before her surgery. She can now stand while brushing her teeth and showering (instead of needing to sit to take the pressure off her back), and can even walk! Her back had gotten so bad that she needed to be in a wheel chair if she went to the grocery store or mall. She could get through a short trip if she leaned on the cart, but now she's able to actually walk. YAY!!

Matt, Maddy and Rachel arrived safely in India.

Hmmm... Maybe He is listening.

My in-laws just left this morning from a five day visit. In that short amount of time, we picked out paints for every room in the house (except the bathroom and laundry room) and got every room (except those two) painted! What a huge improvement. It not only is more in my taste, but it's cleaner, and now I can finally hang pictures! Those are the only things left in boxes at this point. I'd venture to guess that by the end of October, I should be mostly settled into my new home. It was great to get to share my new place with Ginny and Roy, and for them to have their hand in improvements for my hew home. The way they cranked out that quality work in such a short amount of time was proof where Matt got his skills and drive... At least if he couldn't have his hand in our new place, we had the next best thing with his parents.

It's really feeling more like home, too. Maybe it's because of all the rain we're getting right now... ;)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kept Jacob home from school today... He felt good enough to go to school yesterday, but by the time I picked him up, he had been crying for the last couple of minutes and wouldn't tell his teacher what was wrong. He told me, "I'm sick, Mommy!" Poor kid was running a low-grade fever and just felt like crap.

Today was the first monthly awards ceremony for the school year, and Jacob was going to get an award. I asked his teacher yesterday what happens if I keep him home Friday - will he still get his award? He suggested I bring Jacob in at the time of the awards ceremony and take him back home after, so that's what we did. My big boy stood proud and tall on the stage of the auditorium holding the award he received for adjusting fabulously to kindergarten.

It's day two after my sister's surgery, and she is in some serious pain. The doctor said everything went really well, and that it's a good thing she had the surgery because her back was even worse than what they had anticipated. I just feel terrible that I'm not there for her, when she was there for me during some of the darkest days of my life.

The kids and I had a nice day together. We took it easy with Jacob not feeling so well, but we painted, rested, ate, played some, did puzzles, read books, went grocery shopping after the awards ceremony. It's so pleasant when you can just hang out outside whenever you want because the weather is warm, sunny and dry. Best of all (for the time being at least), being a stay-at-home-mom for the first time affords me the luxury of being a more relaxed mom with time to actually enjoy my kids and not be perpetually rushing to the next order of business. We're eating better, too, because I have the time to put a little thought into meal planning, and the time to prepare them. Two things threaten to pull the plug on this luxury, though... not selling my house in NY soon, and COBRA lapsing and needing to get some health insurance coverage for myself. The kids are covered under Anthem Blue, but they denied me coverage since I have some pre-existing conditions (even though I still consider myself young and healthy). I'll end up having to get a job to cover the extra cost of the health insurance, which will end up costing me more because Sydney will have to go to daycare which costs an arm and a leg, and Jacob in an after-school program, and probably more meds to help me cope with the added stress which will add to my already pre-existing condition. Stress kills, you know. But, I digress...

Bathtime, book, prayers. Took turns laying with each of the kids for a few minutes in their beds. After a long silence, this was Jacob's and my conversation:

Jacob: "You know, Mom, some moms and dads have the same job place."

(The way he was leading up, I thought for sure he was gonna drop another "you know, other kids get new dads" bomb on me again...)

Me: "You're right, they do. In fact, your daddy and I used to work at the same place for a long time, until he got his new job."

Jacob: "Yeah. And you know what?"

Me: "What?"

Jacob: "He died at his new work."

Me: "I know, honey."

Jacob: "Now you don't have anyone to help."

Me: "What do you mean?"

Jacob: "You don't have anyone to help, but I help you."

Me: "Yes you do! You help me a lot, and your sister is a big help, too. Your daddy would be so proud to see what great helpers you guys are."

Jacob: "I love Uncle Bryan. He's funny."