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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.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A year and a half.

May 15, 2010.

I hadn't thought too much about the date until I picked a date between Jacob and Sydney's birthdays to have a party, and when it occurred to me the date it fell on, my heart fell right along with it. It's hard enough celebrating my kids' birthdays without Matt, let alone on the day that marks a year and a half since his death.

I thought I could do it. I was feeling strong and positive leading up to the second week in May. However, the toll of the recent drama with Cameron (times two) - not to mention all the stuff that's happened that I haven't posted about (which usually is a lot), two sick kids, putting the plans for my business in motion, burning the candle (I can get SO much more accomplished when the kids are asleep at night), all completely ran me down mentally, emotionally, and physically. Ended up with a sinus infection on top of it. I postponed the party until the following weekend.

In my usual style (you'd think I'd recognize the pattern by now), I get raging angry before I can cry. I've gotten so good at stifling my emotions, faking my own self out in the meantime, that I don't quite recognize  when it's building up. Or maybe I do and I just try to ignore it... Between all the above, Jacob's birthday, the approaching Mother's Day that I almost successfully forgot about, and having to plan a party, I was a ticking time bomb.

I got through Mother's Day like a champ in my opinion. Everyone keeps telling me I need to do more for myself, so the day before, I hired a babysitter and finally got my hair cut after about eight months. Since I still had some time before I had to come home, I also got a manicure and a pedicure. I was feeling pampered and pretty (all dressed up and no where to go, as they say). All prepared for Mother's Day. My kids even drew some sweet Happy Mother's Day pictures for me with the babysitter (thank you, Celia!).

Jacob came into my room the next morning and hopped into my bed and wished me an enthusiastic, "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!!!" How sweet of him to remember! Then, my brother's wife had made appointments for her and I to get a half hour massage while my brother watched all the kids (bless his soul). I was really looking forward to a little more human touch, even if I had to pay for it (boy that sounds terrible). However, we got there late, so my half hour was more like 20 minutes. Afterward, my sister-in-law and I went shopping, so I got to do some retail therapy - found some really great clothes that in reality I'll hardly get a chance to wear, plus I feel guilty about what I spent. But they're SO pretty... What the hell - I'll wear them while I'm picking weeds.

Thinking I was able to stave off negative emotions, it all sneaked up only to blindside me the next day. Monday morning was the start of yet another week of failed morning routines that give a lousy start to the day. After the past few weeks of consecutively shitty mornings, I totally lost it when both kids were melting down on me at the same time. I lost it on the kids - yelled, screamed, whipped Jacob's bagel clear across the kitchen, then ran into my bedroom bawling (loudly). My poor kids. I still had to get Jacob to school, so I managed to get them into the van, brought Jacob to school, and cried the entire time. In front of everyone.

What's so strange and frustrating is that as I'm going through those peak moments of uncontrolled rage, sadness, insanity, I can see myself objectively as if an observer, but yet I don't have the ability to control myself.

Thank God for some of the moms I'm friends with who, once again, came through for me. After school, the kids and I went to a play date at my friend Claire's house, and though I cried most of the time we were there, I smiled and laughed a bit, too. They probably think I'm certifiable (hell - I probably am), but they still seem to like me!

So a year and a half later, here I am. There are times I feel like I'm getting a handle on grief and this new life I've been forced into, and a lot of times when I'm still completely lost, just trying to function to meet our basic needs. I'm still in disbelief a lot of the time, though. When I read the words, think them in my head, hear my kids say them, etc., I'm struck with the reality all over again somehow (yet I can turn off the connection between brain and heart when I say them to someone else). When I see his clothes in my closet, or his shoes on the floor (even in my new home), I have to stop and think to remind myself that he's not coming back. I could take his clothes off the hangers, and it wouldn't make a difference. He's not going to wear them again. Sometimes I have to remind myself, sometimes it just hits me. All over again.

What's odd, too, is the past couple of weeks, my life has been flashing before my eyes. Lots of little details. My life with Matt, and just about every moment since. Not so much the stuff that happened before he came into my life, though. It's almost like I have a hard time remembering what my life was like before he entered it. I think after he was in it, I didn't really want or need to remember what it was like before.

Saturday, May 15, 2010 came and went. No party, nothing significant. In fact, the whole morning passed before I remembered the significance of the day (as embarrassing as that is to admit out loud).  I felt Matt so close to me that whole day. It wasn't until after I tried to think about what was so special about the date to figure out why he was with me so strongly that I actually remembered. A year and a half, to the day. He made the day easier (or harder?) by being at the forefront of my mind and heart, like he was standing with me the whole time. Thank you, My Love.

I think a small part of me is probably holding onto the pain, as if it keeps him closer. Like, if I let go of the pain, I'm letting go of him. I know that's not true, but I think that's a small part of why I hurt. A very small part. Funny how I can think of this shit so objectively, yet it doesn't change it. I guess understanding is something, anyway.

If there's anyone out there who thinks that I should be "over it" by now, I'll have you know, it ain't happening and I have doubts that it ever will. I'm still learning to push through, one challenging moment at a time.


Abigail said...

I hope you're never "over" Matt. I<3 U. See you soon. XOXO Abigail

Crash Course Widow said...

You should be over it by now. Most definitely. I mean, GOSH--a whole 18 months? You could, like, almost have two babies in that time. Didn't the expiration date on the dead husband run out 12 months ago? Or maybe 6, tops?

TOTALLY being sarcastic, btw...I hope it goes without saying. Sitting from where I'm at, with the 5-year mark staring me in the face in less than two months, and thinking back to 18 months both do and don't remember that time. That whole second year was so bizarre. I started dating someone in the second half of the second year, and thinking of life up until then is...well...pretty much what you explained. Except I think I was still so stunned and stoned all the time that it still didn't really all hit me til the start of the third year, after my relationship ended and I had nothing left to hide behind as a distraction that Charley was, in fact, still and permanently dead. Moving, coming up with a plan for my future, dating: they all gave me something else to think about. And once they were finished, it came crashing down. And for me, it wasn't until around and just after the third anniversary that I finally started feeling better.

So 18 months? Honey, you're still in the first third of the marathon. Of COURSE you're still going to be struggling with things and having bad weeks! I remember sitting in the rocking chair with Anna, rocking her for a while at bedtime, right around the 18 month mark, and just wanting to cry and cry (although I had no tears left in me, somehow...I blame the antidepressant I was on then ;o)) because all I wanted was Charley back. I didn't want this "new" life I had.

I'm glad you did those nice things for yourself. Hell, if the new clothes are summer worthy, bring 'em to San Diego! ;o) Wish we lived closer together so I could help you commiserate in person!

Love you tons, girl! Hang in there! xoxo, Candice

Kris said...

I can relate to so much of what you've written. I keep saying that people promise it gets easier with the passing of time, but I haven't seen that yet. Chris has been gone 10 months now. I, too, don't think we'll ever get over them. I just hope at some point we'll be able to live again. Being where we are is pure hell. All part of the journey, I suppose.

Thinking of you -

Anonymous said...

freaking perfect. I am so thankful for "accident" widows. I mean, sorry you're one of them, sorry I am one of them. your words are awesome for me this morning though. Thank you.

Kate said...

Oh, darlin'. I hear the pain. You don't get "over" it. You just don't. And people who think you will? Well, they can go fly a kite. Those people don't matter because they don't understand.

Anniversary dates are the hardest. But just as you said - not the actual day. It's so weird. It's the anticipation of the day that gets me, too.

And holding on to the pain is indeed, a way to keep him close. You'll know when it's time to shed it. You'll just know. I mean it. And until then, you live it.

Heather said...

The hardest thing for me at 18 months was that was the first time "year" was no longer singular. It went from being "It's been a little over a year" to "It's been 1 1/2 years" overnight.

I also let things build up until they explode. Most of the time I don't realize it until it is too late. James was so good at recognizing the signs and helping me figure out what was wrong.

I don't believe we will ever be over this, but with time we get through it. Hang in there. I see so many similarities in your writing to where I was at the same time. My therapist keeps telling me I'm normal (as normal as one can be in this situation), so you sound pretty normal to me!


Stacey said...

"If there's anyone out there who thinks that I should be "over it" by now, I'll have you know, it ain't happening and I have doubts that it ever will. I'm still learning to push through, one challenging moment at a time."

My Matt died 2/5/08 and I am still not "over it" after 2 1/4 yrs. Nobody understands that I may not be over it any time soon or that I am not over him by now. Just goes to show that the only ones who get it, are the ones who are in the exact same shoes and struggling just to make it thru the day. So please know that you are not alone and you are not wrong to feel the way you do.

Ashley King said...

"What's so strange and frustrating is that as I'm going through those peak moments of uncontrolled rage, sadness, insanity, I can see myself objectively as if an observer, but yet I don't have the ability to control myself." THAT is EXACTLY how i feel in the midst of some of my own tantrums.... it's like i can feel the anger coming on, my face starts to tingle.... my ears get hot, and i snap, and i KNOW that snapping isn't what i want to or what i should be doing, but sometimes.... sometimes it feels like it's just not in my control.

my daughter's father and i split when she was about a year and 3 months.... and she is almost 8 now.... he went off and joined the military and for 4 years, that was his excuse for never calling or coming around. "he was busy." i understand being busy, but i DON'T understand not even bothering to call your children. i'm CERTAIN matt loved your children, as you've clearly expressed in your previous posts... you have wonderful memories to hold onto.... i think that what you explained, (in the paragraph above), is called growing. it's called grieving (the range of emotions).... and i think you are on your way to changing your emotional "fits" (for lack of a better word).... realizing the problem is the first part in fixing them. i do feel the similar feelings, and i do believe they'll continue up and they'll spiral down. i think as time goes on and you continue to recognize when they are spiraling down, finding something to stop the spiraling will begin to come naturally. even if that means sitting and crying in your room, alone, for an hour....

i think you're doing a wonderful job for continuing to get out of bed every single day....

ToriFan13 (Samantha) said...

May 15th marked two things for me: 17 months of my widowhood, and the first 15th of the month in those 17 months that I haven't written about it.

I don't think we ever "get over it," but we do move on. I am in a very happy new relationship, and so happy to be in love again. My husband told me before he died, that he wanted me to love again and remarry, because we were young, and he didn't want me to be alone.

I haven't let go of my husband's memory, but I do feel that I have entered a 4th phase of my life.

Phase 1 Life before my husband
Phase 2 Life with my husband
Phase 3 Early widowhood when I worked on myself, moved, etc.
Phase 4 My wonderful new love of my life boyfriend

I noticed that our widowhood dates are a month apart. Hugs to you and your strength and your children. I have no children, and can't imagine dealing with children as a widow. You are so strong and sound like and amazing mom.

Anonymous said...

I am a lurker and have no idea what you are going through, but your comment about massage struck me. When I went through a bad divorce and was alone (meaning no physical touch/intimacy), I would get 90 minute massages that would totally satisfy that human need for touch. I would generally weep after, which I attributed to toxins, whatever, but in hindsight I think a lot of things were going on with me, much of it was missing that caring physical touch. I know it is hard with 2 kids, but try and find ways to keep up with the massage - I think it really does help with some of the lonliness that you can feel when alone.

Cadi said...

Hugs to you. I'm not sure why people think one gets "over" these things so easily.

For me "it" happened back in January & I'm pregnant. Lotsa stuff coming together. People wonder, too, how come I'm not over it yet. Gosh. How can they.

Sending you lotsa love.

Chillin' with Lemonade said...

I read this with tears in my eyes and kept saying "me, too" out loud. yep, I get those feelings.

Anonymous said...

I was working in my garage yesterday. I love working in the garage. It’s so quiet and peaceful. My escape from work. I was thinking of you while I worked—of your husband actually…you, your husband, your family.

I remember last year. Maybe in the spring. I can’t remember. It was a beautiful sunny day. I was driving home from work. The 400. Route 20A. Into town and down the hill across from the Hotel, just before Four Rod. I saw a moving sale sign and on impulse I slowed and turned down the drive. Funny, I’m really not a yard sale shopper. When my truck stopped, I suddenly realized who you were…what you were doing. Moving. Just like the sign said. I remembered bits and pieces of your story…Matt’s story actually. I didn’t know either of you. It’s a small town. I’d heard about him. For a single, split-second moment I thought of backing up.

We met. Said hello. I looked around. Glanced over at you. All the while little clips of fragmented memories rushed into my head. Of my beautiful wife…my Love…The day my life changed. April, 6th 1988. The instant in time that I couldn’t stop. A moment I couldn’t change. It was my fate I guess. I was 28 years old.

I had a moving sale after. Strangers were combing through boxes of her…stuff. Combing through boxes of her... I was a Zombie then. I don’t remember much from back then. Packing up and leaving home behind. Just like you.

I moved here… 1000 miles away from... there. The home we shared when she died. With my daughter. She was what was left of my family. She was six then. She saved my life just by being there for me to care for. Funny how God arranged that for me. We were a two-man team for so long after her mom’s death. She’s graduated college now. I finally remarried in 2006. I guess it took me a while to move on…

I almost said something to you in your garage. Feeling strangely connected…to you--a total stranger. By a bizarre twist of fate. Randomness… I thought about it…and chose not to say anything at all. Silently scolded myself for prying into your life. As I browsed through Matt’s stuff.
I bought some of his tools. I think I felt guilty. Like I was stealing them from him. Stealing from you…and your family. Like the tools shouldn’t belong to me…they were yours. When I had a moving sale someone bought my wife’s cooking pans. I didn’t know anything about cooking. So I moved on without them. They were with her stuff…in the boxes I sold. I hope someone still uses them.

I still use your husband’s tools. I have a beautiful home here. Beautiful view. Nice garage where I relax and forget some of the past. In 22 years I’ve forgotten the bad memories of that day. I smile with the good ones. Sometimes think of Matt when I pick up a tool. Wonder how you are now. Wherever you've moved to…

I found your blog. Not to pry into your life--I know I won’t be here again.

Just to wish you well. And to let you know that sometimes when it’s nice out…I’m up here in the garage relaxing with the car, using some of Matt’s tools…and remembering you at your moving sale.

Andrea Renee said...

Thank you so much, guys. XOXO

Dear Anonymous, thank you so much for sharing all that with me, and for thinking of us. It means so much to me. I'm glad you "pried," and I hope you stay. I'm so curious to know which tools you got of Matt's... I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that you appreciate them and that using them makes you think of him. His tools were a big part of him and it was so hard for me to part with so much. That whole time is such a blur. I am obsessively protective of the tools I still have of his.

Shannon said...

No one, absolutely NO ONE expects you to be OVER anything. How could you ever be over the love of your life? I do hope, however, that horrible pain lessens. I know how gut-wrenching it is. My sister has been gone now for 14 months and every month on the 3rd I bawl like it was yesterday. I can't imagine what you must go through. I always say how strong you are, but I am sure you feel otherwise. But you ARE strong, and you ARE a survivor. Your kids are lucky. Someday I hope you find the inner-strength to look in the mirror and see what all of us see, until then, I wish you love and peace. And I am so so sorry you have to be traveling this journey... it is so unfair. Shannon

Shannon said...

OMG... I just read the story about the man who bought Matt's tools... I am bawling like a baby! That was like a beautiful love story Andrea!!! Stay in touch with that man, he is so sweet! Gotta go finish bawling...

Carrie Lynn Fazzolari said...

You are very brave. You are very normal too. I don't know what it is like to lose a husband to death, but I understand the loneliness, burdens, distractions and pains of needing a partner around. You're blog was universal to anyone who has had their life thrown up in the air where the missing pieces are still falling all around you. I understood everything you said - from finding other things to do, to remembering dates, to remembering the before Matt, and to "losing it" on the kids.

Keep doing what you're doing... I think that is how it is supposed to work...

Glad to hear about your new bedroom - hope it's a sanctuary for you. Love.