I’ve come to see grief as selfish.  YOU miss someone.  YOUR life has changed.  YOU worry about the future.  And no one will hurt the same as you.  No one has a right to grieve more than you.  YOU loved them more than anyone else.  In the span of less than a year, I lost my husband and my best friend, so no one can be sadder than me.  My pain eclipses all.  I knew them best.  I loved them best.  I lost more than anyone.  My pain matters more than yours.

They say there are stages to grief and maybe there are.  I don’t know them and I probably wouldn’t follow them if I did.  I never forget they are gone.  I never don’t believe it…..but sometimes it seems incomprehensible that I will never hear either of them again.  We won’t have a conversation.  We won’t share a laugh.  Neither will hold me when I cry…… Sometimes I am angry with them.  How DARE they leave me here by myself?  Sometimes (more than I like to admit) I want to forget or at least downplay how much it affects me.  To move on.  To begin building a new life for myself and the kids that doesn’t allow for sadness and grief.  Because we have been through so much and shouldn’t be tied to loss.  WE ARE FUCKING ALIVE.  To do anything other than live is disrespectful……but to not grieve is also disrespectful.  But in my grief, all revolves around me.  And I want to live.  I want to move on.  I want to be happy.  I want to stop crying every time I see something that strikes a chord.  I want to find a new best friend to be silly with.  A new man to hold me.

There are rules for the widow and there are none.  Everyone says you can do what you want, do what feels right….and then say that you are handling things better than they expected, with a slightly disapproving air about them.  What the fuck do they want from me?  To lie in bed all day?  To cry and wail and gnash my teeth and beat my breast?  Would I feel better if I did?   I don’t know but I also don’t want to find out.

I don’t have the luxury of grief…even as it consumes me.  I cannot fall apart in front of the kids.  They need me strong.  But not too strong- they need to be sure in the knowledge that I loved their father and that I too am sad.  They need to see that it is ok to talk of good times and bad.   It’s ok to cry and ok to laugh.  When does that leave time to sob as though the world is ending?  Because it has.  The world I built with my friend, with my husband is gone.  The past we shared is gone.  There is no one that knows our jokes.  Our stories.  Except me.  I alone am the keeper of the history of myself and these two.  And that is a heavy burden.   The stories I will forget or already have forgotten are gone.  No reminiscing will bring them back.  No shared laughter over a prank remembered.  No tears over a shared loss.

Alone I own the loss.





Funeral Clothes

I wanted to look my best for my husband’s funeral.  Why?  It was one of the worst days of my life.  Why shouldn’t my clothes reflect that?  Old pajama pants and an oversized T-shirt.  THAT should have been the approved dress code.  Screw showing respect for the recently deceased- they’re dead!  They don’t care!   But no.  You have to look “nice”.  So you go out and spend even more money to look good.  I bought a beautiful dress.  Actually, I bought two.  One was appropriately funereal and the other one was more “me” and was super comfy.  I wore the appropriately funereal dress in the end.  Why?  Because I loved the other dress more and would definitely want to wear it again and it wouldn’t feel right.  Or would have a meltdown the moment I put it on.  This wouldn’t be a problem if I could have showed up in sweats.  But you can bet your ass that I spent most of the funeral without shoes on.

I wasn’t going to put the kids in black.  They are too young and it felt wrong.  But my boys surprised me.  When I mentioned going out to get them funeral clothes, Thing Two promptly stated that he was going to buy the nicest tuxedo they had.  Tuxedo.   I gently let him know that people don’t typically wear tuxedoes to funerals.  However.  If he wanted a tuxedo, then by Jesus, he was going to have one.  He changed his mind on the tux.  Thank Christ.  Thing One and Thing Two ultimately poo-poo’d my thoughts of khakis and nice shirts, choosing instead to go with black pants, shirts with ties, and jackets.  My little men in jackets!!!  My aching heart was full…..until they began having entirely too much fun with the choosing of the clothes.  It hadn’t even been 72 hours at that point and here they were, each trying to out-fancy the other.  Who does that?  My kids.  And then the She Beast.  She, of course, hated every. single. dress.   The ONLY dress she liked looked like some type of 80’s neon nightmare of ruffles, flounces, and petticoats.  Someone had obviously robbed a rainbow for that dress.  It was hideous and completely inappropriate but I had told the kids they could pick out whatever they wanted….I think my grief tears turned into tears of joy when the dress wasn’t to be found in her size.  At least that is what I told her.  I didn’t even look.

But seriously, why do we care?  Clothes are the least important thing.  I had to tell my children that their father was dead.  Who cares what the fuck you are wearing after something like that.  I had to be the one to look them in the eye and destroy their worlds.  To watch their little faces go from hopeful that we were going to go visit Daddy soon, to realizing that the night before was the last goodbye.  I had to be strong for them- but not too strong to where they didn’t think I cared.  I had to choose how much to tell them about the end.  And reassure them once again that everything WOULD be ok.  And shortly after telling them, I had to leave them to go and plan a funeral, because that shit doesn’t wait.  I had to decide when exactly to cremate him- did I have a layout and let the kids see him one more time or go ahead and just get it over with?  Could the kids handle seeing him like that?  It was one thing to see him having lost nearly 100 lbs while he was still alive and able to hug them and tell them he loved them.  But could they handle it now that he was gone?  What was going to be their last memory of him?  Lying in a casket or smiling so big when they showed up to hospice after not seeing him at all the week he spent in ICU?  Why was that even a question?

So no, clothes are not at all important for a funeral.  But we all sure did look nice.


So here we are…or really, here I am…

In three days it will be two months since my husband died.  I turned 39 two days ago.  I have four kids at home and a stepson who bolted now that he is 18 (who did NOT call me to wish me a happy birthday, I might add).  I also have a neurotic dog, an overly skittish cat, and my husband’s tarantula that I now have to feed since he obviously can’t do it anymore.  He and I are going to have words about that one day, you can mark that down.

My friends have been on me for years to write a blog- this comes mostly from my amazing Facebook statuses…apparently they like them.  Several have mentioned it lately and tonight, a Saturday night, I am sitting at home, listening to the kids playing video games and thought “Why not?”   So I created a new email address and started a blog….and promptly realized that I spelled my own new email address wrong.  And I realized that while it really fucking bothers me to have a misspelled email address, I had already started this page and do I really want to create ANOTHER new email address and actually, it kind of sums up what life is like right now…so we are going to go with it.  Not quite sure exactly where we are going with it, but we are going there.

39 years old and a fucking widow.  I find myself saying “widow” a lot.  Or “late” husband.  (What the fuck is he late for?  Dinner?  Pretty sure he isn’t coming).  I feel the need to tell everyone I meet that my husband recently died and I am not quite sure why- to warn them?  “Girlfriend might have a psychotic break while you are chatting, so keep track of all the exits and escape routes!!!” Or to hear them tell me how great I appear to be handling everything?  Or to excuse the dark circles under my eyes and the pajamas I am likely in?  Or to explain why I started crying while discussing brackets during March Madness (hubby was a HUGE University of Kentucky fan which meant that I had to be one too).   Maybe I am just trying it on, like a new dress, to see how it fits.

Actually, that is exactly it.  Trying it on.  Trying to figure out exactly who I am now.  I’ve always been my own person, but that person was part of a team.  Every decision was made as a team or with the other in mind, at least.  Now?  Just me.  I mean, sure, there are the kids to consider and sometimes they get a vote, but mostly?  I have ALL the power.  Yay me.

So, in addition to missing my best friend and trying to be adult enough to attempt to make sense out of this for the kids and trying to do everything by myself that two people used to do, I have no idea who I am anymore.  I know I like unicorns.  And frogs.  I like bad reality television and I like to use profanity.  But my last year and a half was taken over by cancer and a colostomy.  Liver drains and pain pumps.  And the years before that were spent having babies and raising a mentally ill child.  The kids were finally getting to the “can wipe their own asses” stage and the mentally ill child was no longer living at home, no longer a daily battle to be fought.  It was finally going to be “our time”.  It was going to be time for us to reconnect after a decade of HARD.  And then came the cancer.  Who I was before, no longer exists.  The LIFE I had before, no longer exists.  Now I have to figure out who the “new” me is going to be.

Do I want to be one of those super healthy people who doesn’t eat gluten and does hot yoga and runs and tracks my steps and *gasp* JUICES?  Probably not.  I mean, yes.  Yes I want to be healthy.  Have to for the kids- they don’t have any more spare parents laying around so they kind of need me to live a long time.  But do I want that to define me?  No.  Also, I like Funyuns.  A lot.

I don’t really have any hobbies- do I want to have hobbies?  Or maybe just one hobby?  Maybe I can be the overly crafty friend everyone has?  Look out bitches, there’s a new quilter/jewelry maker/turning pallets into furniture/seasonal decoration making girl in town!! Or not.

Gardening?  And canning?!  I could make pickles and salsa and give them out to all my friends who will be envious of how productive I am with all these kids, during my time of grief.  Except I kill all the plants.  ALL the plants.

Do I want to be more social?  Sure.  That sounds good.  But what kind of social?  Can’t go out drinking all time- I just lost my DD and a DUI and mugshots would not be a good look for me.  Plus?  The kids.  Most of them aren’t old enough to be left on their own, especially during non-daylight hours and there are too many of them to leave with the one who IS old enough to watch them, even during the night.  The others will mutiny.

I’m really not sporty.  Watching or doing.

I like museums.  Sometimes.

I like music.  But I don’t really like people.  Especially in crowds.  Good music usually has crowds.

And how social is social?  Do I want to be full on, going out all the time, social?  Or maybe just a little bit social- part time social.

Honestly, I like sitting at home in my jammies.  I don’t like company because I have to entertain them.  And most people don’t find watching The Real Housewives of every city in America while reading a book and checking Facebook every commercial break that entertaining.  Go figure.

My mom would say (actually DOES say) that I am putting too much pressure on myself.  That these things will work themselves out and I will figure it all out in time.  And I am sure I will.  But in the meantime, it is damn scary to not know who you are anymore.  To not know how you fit in with your friends.  It’s overwhelming learning how to do all the things- the mowing and hanging curtains and feeding fucking spiders.  And it is lonely.  A very strange kind of lonely where you ache to be held but know that there is no one alive that you want to hold you.

And so I WANT the grief to be over.  I want to figure out who I am now.  I want to want to be held by a living person, not a memory.  I want to LIVE.  I just had my last birthday of my thirties- next year, a new decade.  Life has been passing me by like an out of control freight train for years and I was too busy to notice.  In losing my husband, watching my children lose their father, “Life is short, make the most of it” has been branded onto my brain.  “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” keeps flashing in red neon lights behind my eyeballs whenever I close them.   I’m no longer a young girl.  I’m a fucking widow and I don’t have any time to lose…and so I am searching for rainbows and unicorns.

I’m looking to heal.