Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eye of the Storm

Have you ever lived through a hurricane?  When they talk about the "calm before the storm" or the "eye of the storm" it is a real thing and it is eerie.

We went through several while we lived in Houston.  The eye is a surreal experience.  You have been pounded and pounded by wind and rain and then it stops.   Just as suddenly, it stops.   It is quiet and calm, and on more than one occasion, the sunshine came out for a bit and the animals started to peek out.   

Then BAM! Out of nowhere it starts again, the wind the rain, the hail.  It is relentless.  

When you come out the other side, when the storm finally passes, you hope that is the end.  You look and you see the sun, you see the debris, you see the damage.  You see your neighbors.   Everyone is helping.  You chat, you wonder if there will be any "trailing".   You know, other storms that follow the hurricane. 

Grief is kind of like that.  At first it beats you up.  The wind howls, the tears fall, you rock yourself to try and find some solace.  It takes a lot of time but believe it or not, you actually get used to the storm and you start to slowly go about your daily duties.  You get dressed, you do the dishes, you do housework.   After such a long time of being under siege, you are used to functioning at that same capacity.   You wipe your tears, you sleep when you are too exhausted to cry.  If you are lucky you have a great support system to cheer you on. 

One day you wake up, and you smile.  A nearly imperceptible smile, but a smile nonetheless.  You are in the eye of the storm.  You go about your life, you put one food in front of the other you notice the sun on your face, you feel a gentle breeze.  You survey the changes in you and the changes around you. 

You hope and you pray that it is a big eye.   That the storm give you enough of a break to actually clean up and repair a little bit.  You look at the storm behind you and you are grateful that you survived.  You don't take your time in the eye for granted.  Oh no, you know that the other side of the storm looms.  You have no idea when it will hit, but you know in your soul that it will. 

You feel it come, the winds whip at your face and the tears start to fall.   Perhaps it was because you smelled something or touched something that reminded you of life before the storm.  But know this, when you are in the second side of the storm, you stand a little taller, you don't hunker down quite as long.  You have done this once.

The knowledge that you have already survived the worst gives you the strength to stand up and move.  It doesn't stop the tears and the pain, but it does give you the fortitude to push through.   After all, nothing that the second side of the storm throws at you will be as shocking or as crazy as when the storm first came to uproot your life.   You know you can do this because you can.

 It doesn't mean that you go  running and chasing hurricanes-it simply means that when they come to rest at your door, you know that you can survive what they bring. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It is just stuff...

So we are in the midst of a monsoon...which means for the first time in my new house I am learning to deal with flooding.   YIPPEE!

Here is my take, my yard is flooded, my basement is wet, there is silt seeping in through the foundation.  But it is just stuff. 

I am safe, my son is safe, my family is safe.   It is just STUFF. 

The sewer is a geiser in the middle of the street, the water has receeded a bit, but we are due for more rain.  So it is likely to come back up.

I am proud of myself.  Proud of the fact that my initial reaction was the correct one.  That anything that gets wet or ruined, is just stuff.  I moved stuff out of the basement becuase I figured that pulling out wet crap would be far more difficult.   So I watched to make sure the sump pump engaged, I squeegeed up the water. I moved as much stuff upstairs as I could. I did it by myself. I didn't panic, I didn't wallow, I just did it.

Perhaps I am simply desensitized by my nomadic lifestyle since Robert died.  Perhaps that shock of losing so much stuff and so much of our stuff has made it easier for me to let it go?  I don't know what it is, but for the moment I will be grateful. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Till Death do us part...

Dear Robert,
14 years ago today I met you at the altar.  It was a fairy tale wedding...quite simple and elegant.  I remember your big smile.  The church was still decorated for Easter, the music was perfect.  Our family and friends were all there (even the ones who pledged that they would not come!)  I remember that our voices shook and we both had tears of joy in our eyes as we said our vows.  I remember walking over to the statue of the Virgin Mary and praying for a family that was happy and healthy and blessed.   I remember my little cousins as the ring bearer and flower girl-they were so adorable!

Never did I dream that when we said "till death do us part" that it would actually happen to us.  I never  imagined a world without you.  I imagined growing old together celebrating milestone after milestone.  We dreamed of putting down "roots" like you never really got to do.   We imagined raising our kids around my family....the huge rambuncious loving lot of them.   Never did I dream that I would be fulfilling our dreams without you. 

When I pledged to love and honor you all the days of my life, I imagined that you would be by my side, returning the same love and honor to me. 

When I pledged to love  you from this day forward, for better for worse rich or for poor, in sickness, in health, as long as we both shall live-I never imagined our marrige would be cut short. 

But it has.   We are both not living, you are dead and I am not.   I love you, I will always love you all the days of my life.  But I am here and you are not.  It breaks my heart that you aren't here and that we are no longer husband and wife (although I guess technically, in the eyes of the church we are still married, I can't think of a reason to file an annullment)

So to honor you today, I will remember your love for me, your dedication to me, your loyalty to me.  I am honored to have been your wife.   I am blessed in so many ways and my heart is so full of love for you it aches.   I always looked forward to the letters that you would write to me.  I miss that.  I have them all in binders.  I do believe that I actually kept every letter that you ever wrote to me.  When I cleaned out your nightstand, I was relieved to see that you had also kept my letters.  I thought I was the only crazy pack rat in our house ;).  I haven't read them for a long time, but I have most of them memorized.  You had such a beautiful way with words. 

It is heart wrenching for me that you are gone, but honestly I have to remind myself that I am still here.  I am still raising our child and  I have to go on with life enough for the both of us.

Love Always,
Your Irish Princess

missing summer vacation....

Here we are 10 weeks before the start of summer vacation, and I struggle yet again to balance everything.   Daycare offers a program, very expensive and tons of video game time.  Not what I really want him doing for the summer. 

Other programs around town are less expensive, but don't necessarily have anyone on staff that knows what to do for an astham attack.  Can't even consider those.  Nope...his attacks are far too frequent. 

So I think back, what did we do as kids?  HMMM....well we spent it with mom at the beach while dad worked.  We went to the library with our grandfather while the younger kiddos napped.  We went to the beach everyday and ran around.   I don't believe we even had a TV at the lake house and it didn't matter.  We played wiffle ball, rollerskated, played bubbles, caught lightning bugs and hunted for snipes.  (they are a little brown bird that tastes like chicken, no really, go look it up!)

We did everything Robert and I imagined our child would get to do.  And would have done if he was still here...he was a teacher and even with everything he had to do, he still had a solid 6 weeks off and he would have had great adventures with Munchkin in those six weeks.   I still would have had to work, but munchkin would not have had to be in a day care or camp program. 

Man does that hurt me.   It hurts me to realize that even though I miss Robert everyday-that now Munchkin is at the age where he is missing out on things because Robert is dead.  It is to the point where I don't think that I am enough.  I do the best I can.  We play, we run we read, we have family time just the two of us and we enjoy each other.   We do crazy things like drive around in the snow with hot cocoa and look at Christmas lights, we go to the beach A LOT! (probably more than we isn't our house after all...) But there are things that I cannot replicate on my own.  I can't be both at work and providing for us and home with him for the summer.  I couldn't take a vacation with him on spring break and be able to afford to pay what I need to for the summer.  

I have to be ok with the simple fact that I am doing the best that I can with what I have to do it with. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Daddy's Toolbox

Ok, a vast majority of the useful tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, etc) were in the car with him when he died.   Some of them were returned to me.

See the morning after the accident (I think??-it may have been a few days later), two of our closest friends drove to where our cars were towed and retrieved our personal belongings.  They brought back what they thought they could save or clean to me in big black garbage bags.   While I witnessed the carnage as it happened, they went and touched the car and went to the accident site and walked around and found pieces of our life and brought them back to me.

I will be foreverr grateful that they had the fortitude and wherwithall to do it.   I know I did not.   I was too busy sitting on the floor of my living room rocking back and forth in tears.  It was all I could do to keep myself from either withering away or exploding into a rage.  I rocked and prayed.

I sat in my garage with my parents on either side and my sister with munchkin on her hip and I opened the bags and I sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed.  I couldn't breathe.  My parents cleaned what they could and sorted through things.   When I could breathe again I picked up pieces of things and started sobbing again. 

I remember picking up our duffle bag and seeing that the canvas was split open and that everything was soaked in blood and covered with the shattered glass.   I cried and cried.   As I touched his things, it was hitting me that he would never again have use for anything on earth including me.  That the morning that he kissed me last would be the last time I would ever feel his lips, his hands his breath.  It took my breath away and I collapsed into a heap on the floor of tears. 

I digress, one of the things they brought me were some of his tools. The ones that were not mangled beyond recognition, were covered in blood. 

Well, one of my brothers wiped off his tools and put the tool box on the work bench.

When I finally went back to Texas to retrieve our thigs, we brought his tools.   When we opened the tool box, it smelled of decomposition.  We cleaned and scrubbed everything.   I mean SCRUBBED!  I ended up having to throw away the plastic tool box.  We had soaked it in bleach, rubbed it with baking soda, used industrial cleaner, anything we could think of to make the smell go away.   My brother at one point took everything to his house and soaked them in somehting else in his garage.  

The end result was that the two other tool boxes that were not in the car now house his tools.   There are odds and ends in there.   Change for the vacuum at the car wash, bits of wire, connectors, evidence of the daily use he once had for his tools. 

Well, munchkin has taken an interest in Daddy's tools.  He has started opening the tool boxes to find things to help with.  I don't use them much at all, I use my little house kit I bought for know the pink one...quite girly I know.   But this morning as I was folding laundry, munchkin was going through the little tool box and pulling out things and asking me what they were. 

It hit me, things were right and wrong all at the same time.  They were right in the fact that my curious little boy had taken and interest in Daddy's tools. Wrong on so many levels that Robert is not here to show him and enjoy it with him.   My heart hurts with the knowledge that Robert would have relished in teaching Munchkin and helping him learn about the world around him.  My brain cannot get around the fact that it is up to me to do it.  

So I take a breath and say a prayer, put a smile on my face and give thanks that my father insisted that his girls learn the basics of tools. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Sleepless Lesson

The other night I had a sleepless night.   They are now few and far between-I am grateful.  It used to be that a night of rest was the rarity!

I digress, those who have insomnia can attest that there is NOTHING good on TV at 3 am.  Perhaps that is by design, but really when you are trying to shut off your brain, some mindless TV goes a long way!     When we lived with mom and dad after the accident, I used to leave the TV on all night.   I couldn't handle the emptiness of my bed and compound that with the silence of my room...well, I had to have some background noise.  So now, when I can't fall asleep I turn on the TV and it usually helps. 

As I was laying there willing myself to sleep I heard a song.  It spoke to me.  
"Lift the darkness, Light a fire,
For the silent and the broken hearted"
"There's a comfort there's a healing
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is coming, can you feel it?
Calling us to a new tomorrow. "

Wow, just wow.  Those lyrics were exactly what I needed to hear.  I promptly downloaded the song (Shazaam rocks :) ) and fell asleep.

So for the last few days I have been listening to the song.  It is all about using your voice and standing up for those around us.  I have been thinking about what it is that I am supposed to be doing.   What is the lesson that God is trying to show me?  Sometimes He is subtle, sometimes, not so much.  Sometimes, I doubt there is purpose in my writing and sharing of my feelings.  I know that I didn't start publishing until I was widowed for a very long time (relative to a lot of the other blogs out there).  But here is my secret-there were a few widows that I met early on both in person and in their writing that were much farther out.   They shared where they were in their journey with me and it gave me hope.  It showed me that people can be ok and people can be happy and that I too could survive.   Not only survive but thrive in my new life. 

This is not the life that any of us ordered, however, I can tell you that there is peace, there is happiness and takes time.  There are still bad days-but now for me they are few and far between.  The nighmares fade with time and the memories now bring a smile.  Take a deep breath, the storm will clear and eventually you will catch a glimpse of the beautiful blue sky!  Just hang on and keep swimming!

The Piano...

We have in our upstairs office Robert's piano.   The piano has for the most part been open for Munchkin to  play with as long as he does it appropriately.  Banging, hitting and kicking the piano are off limits. 

When he was 3 months old and could sit up, Robert had him sitting on the piano bench.

When he was 2 to 4 he took group piano at his Montessori school.   When he left the Montessori, and went to regular preschool he traded piano for taekwondo.  Which was ok, the preschool didn't have a piano class so we went with it. 

This morning, he informed me he missed piano and wants to take lessons again.

I have always been of the mindset that he should do music because he likes it.  Guess it is time to find a new piano teacher--I just hope that they can hold a candle to Robert!