I’ve always hated this picture
George and I used to maintain a food blog called George and Julia Eat Manhattan. We also transitioned to George and Julia’s Vegan Underground as we took on a new dietary lifestyle. Today I finished an article highlighting the health benefits of carrots.
It was weird reading about the benefits of carrots to treating cancers. Specifically liver cancers. I love carrots. I eat them often but I remember George didn’t like carrots. He thought they tasted bitter, so when we juiced he wanted sans carrots. As I’m reading all the benefits carrots do to liver I feel a little guilty. Like, I should’ve fucking known this already. I knew carrots has anti-inflammatory properties and help with vision, but I didn’t know vitamin A is converted in the liver.
Is it normal to feel this kind of regret and guilt? I couldn’t save him, his doctors couldn’t save him, so why do I think some carrots could’ve saved him. It’s so nonsensical but damnit. I miss him. When I come back to Connecticut, it’s hard to shake the void. I miss George and coming home sometimes reminds me he’s not here anymore.
I also really miss my boyfriend. He’s deployed right now and I think it’s stirring up some unresolved grief.
I’m really happy to be here in Connecticut though. I love spending time with my parents and hanging around the house. I fall into reclusive behavior when I’m home and don’t really tell anyone when I’m back too often. I guess it’s a force of habit.
This upcoming Saturday I have the Montgomery Half Marathon. Last year I was late to the start because one of my players was in the hospital. So this year I am excited to have the chance to run it again. I know the course, I know where the hardest parts are, so I’m ready to attack it.
I love half marathons, but admittedly I haven’t trained for one as much as I did the first 1/2 I ran. I’ve been able since November 2014 to maintain my fitness level to a point where I can run 10 miles pretty okay, but it is a struggle to get to 13. But with a little pre-work out and a couple weeks of training, I can get there. I tucker out around miles 11 and 12, and then pick it up for the ending.
I’m ready for this Saturday. I ran a half marathon 3 weeks ago, and I know my body is capable of the push. I am looking forward to the run. But I’m starting to look long term too. I’ve hummed and hawed about doing a full marathon, but I’m starting to lean into it. I want to attempt the monstrous run. What’s holding me back? Is it time commitment to training? I have a sturdy base level of fitness I can build from. So what’s the mental gap? I need to sign up. It’s the next evolution in my routine. It makes sense. I know I can complete it if I tried. To go with ease, not worry about time. I worry about my time with half marathons. I want my splits to be better and better. Close to 8:00 mile splits or around there. But a marathon. The goal will be to complete it. Not to worry about time but to worry about pushing through the pain to achieve what few are capable of doing.
It’s time. Marathon is training will commence. I want to challenge myself mentally, physically, emotionally through the training process.
October 2017, it’s time to for a marathon bib to be incorporated to the stack.
The three year mark came and went on November 25th. It was a weird lead up to it. I felt the anxiety, I leaned into it, cried, then it just went away. I’m sort of numb from it all, I’m neither happy nor sad, I’m just existing. There’s some things that I’ve pushed aside to focus on myself though. Right now I need to be focusing on my scheduling for 2018, but I’ve decided to use these days off as days off to recharge. So when I get a scheduling email I just respond back I’ll take a look when I’m back into the office on Monday. Coaching creates a very loose and nontraditional routine for work. I usually dig it, but right now I need some Julia time. I need some grief time.
Grieving is a lot like working out. There is no one path that is correct. Everyone does it differently and which ever helps the most is the right way for that individual. Some people like therapy for grief, others like to meditate. Some like boot camp style work outs, others like running. Which ever way the person chooses to deal or heal, that is okay. Not doing anything at all is the problem. So on the 25th I led a 90 minute spin class, and though it was slim attendance, it felt good. I felt my muscles burning, my heart pumping and my mood improve. I watched a movie that day too and just being there felt good. I did think about George and losing him and the morning of his passing. But I also thought about how beloved he was. How many lives his warmth and incredible disposition influenced and touched in his short years on earth. And he is a gem. I do feel lucky to have loved him. I do feel lucky to have felt a passion so great that it continues to impact me daily. I am lucky and I need to remember and remind myself of it when the tear soaked labyrinth appears.
Today would’ve been three years married to George. A undercurrent of sadness lingered around all day. I cried on my way to work, cried in my office and then cried on my way home. I taught spin class tonight and sitting astride the bike I felt so happy for having the opportunity to feel so much love. I just feel his presence whenever I’m riding. I can’t explain it. It’s just there. A calmness takes over and I feel it in my muscle fibers and it burrows deep into my bones. He loved biking and when my legs go round and round, I know I’m doing something I was programmed to do. I’m making memories with him still when I’m on a bike, indoor or outdoor.
This was my first anniversary where I’ve spent it pretty alone. The first one I was at Times Square cycle for survival and then went to sacred heart’s alumni game. Last year I spent the second anniversary out on the town with my boyfriend. And this year, went to work. Nothing eventful. And I’m happy I did nothing. I felt like I could really sit down and reflect. Think about George and how much I miss him. Think about the day we got married, how exciting and emotional it was. Seeing all the interesting people at the Manhattan court house. This life I’ve been living without him and how different it is. Wonder what it would be like if he was still alive. I allowed my brain to wander. It was peaceful, and I’m glad for once I didn’t try to distract myself from the chaos.
life moves forward, and so have I.
I love you George. And I always will.
The months after George passed I wanted so badly for time to rewind, and everything to go back to normal. Getting out of bed each day was a struggle, but there isn’t any other choice but to put both feet on the ground and keep moving forward. I’d be mindless through the days, running on autopilot, but when the fog lifted and realized I was powered by memories of a past life, I had to figure out how to remain positive under unbearable conditions.
This is when I started using fitness as a tool for displacing my grief and stress. Looking back, I believe I used and still use fitness as an avoidance, or an emotional replacement for my loss. But hurling my body up a hill when all I wanted to do was cry felt amazing. It gave me power, it allowed me to sort my thoughts and begin to believe tomorrow will be better than today. No matter how bad the grief was, the next day it would be better, and fitness showed me that open door. Clipping into a bike and sprinting for 30 seconds wasn’t enough, so the instructor challenged the class to 45 seconds. Could I do it? Of course, because I believed at the end it would be better then what it was at the time.
Believing you are worthy of happiness, worthy of satisfaction can change the outcome of any situation. But there’s a different between being worthy and entitled. Only one person can control how you feel. I had to make myself believe I could be strong again. Grief is powerful and how it’s channeled can mold your new life. I wanted to feel strong, so I chose to also transform my body to look strong. The changes also impacted my mind and self confidence. I knew I had to go on. If you think you can’t go on, you’re already defeated. Kill or be killed. So if you look forward to what’s around the corner, there might be a new lifestyle, adventure or path that awaits. Sometimes we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones, make necessary changes and see what will happen. Even in during the darkest days, there’s a sun behind those clouds.
On Friday I got dolled up and headed out. I grabbed a purse that I don’t use tremendously often but I did year ago when I first got it. My sister gifted me a George Gina and Lucy purse in 2009 and I remember being so excited for it. I would carry that thing everywhere. George would comment about how it’s in my favorite color purple.
Before I headed out, I checked all the pockets to see if there’s any old receipts or trash. There were some old coffee and metro receipts, and I think one movie ticket. But then I dug deeper into the front pocket and pulled out a buckeye. Hard little round nugget with a darkened slit that looks like an eye. I remember walking past Rockefellars grave in the Cleveland cemetery and George picking up the buckeye. He handed it to me, grinning, and reminding me how the nut looks like a bucks eye. I dropped it in my purse to remember our trip to his hometown of Bay Village, just outside Cleveland.
Today I found a towel I used when we lived together in Jersey City. I pushed my face into it and it smelled like George. His scent stung in my nostrils and my heart swelled. But then it cracked like a glass in boiling water. It was too much.
Today is George’s birthday. I’m feeling his absence a lot today. There’s this hollowness inside me I can’t fill. It’s almost like his death is very real today, which is odd because I know he’s not coming back. But I can’t explain it. I feel very off and sad. This morning I watched a video we had made when we used to blog, and it made me so happy to hear his voice, and see him smile. But then it’s gone. I have to search for it if I want to hear it. I allowed my mind to float back in time to when we grabbed a cab to his birthday party in K-town. We had just started dating and it was carefree, wonderful, and fleeting. I was embarrassed by the age difference, but I couldn’t get enough of him. I miss his sense of humor, I miss his lightheartedness, I miss his laughter, I miss his sense of calmness through all the chaos. I miss him so much. But I’m so thankful I got to be with him.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I got back from New Orleans this evening and this Memorial Day weekend has been nothing short of fantastic. I feel relieved, relaxed and most importantly happy. I had a great time with my friends. And of course when I reconnect I tend to think about those people who have come into my life. All the laughs, experiences shared and how people grow together and separately.
I also think about all the men and women where this holiday weekend is very somber and painful. This post doesn’t really have a lot of point to it, I kind of have been contemplating the reoccurrences of emotional hurt. I went to the WW2 museum in New Orleans and they have telegrams posted to family and spouses saying their sons are missing and cannot be located. It made me feel for those who ventured off to defend their country never to return again. I also ached for the loved ones who received those telegrams. To love someone so much where you feel invisible can also break you down to nothingness. Makes you appreciate the people who impact your life momentarily or those who are in it for the long haul.
“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”
I’m looking at old photos from the past couple years and I’m certainly a survivor. My journey has included a lot of experiences and meeting new people, and I wouldn’t trade it. The road in front of me is clear skies and rocky terrain, but you know what, when Im told I can’t do it and I’m not strong enough, those words echo and transform into coal to move this engine. What happens to coal under extreme amounts of pressure? That’s right. Feed me more doubt, I’ll show you what I can do.
This is the house doubt built.
Can you imagine having someone love you so much that even after 2 and a half years they still write about how much they love you? To leave this earth with so much love to carry you on? The love I shared with George propelled me to become a better person. I can confidently say I am more social now than I was when he was alive. I say hello to my neighbors, to strangers, just because a friendly gesture might change their entire day. Just like when people show kindness to me it makes my day that much better. I shouldn’t be ashamed of my grief. But I am.
Grief is love turned inside out. I feel ashamed and weak but I love George. I lost my love once and I recently lost another through an ended relationship, so I can’t help but sit here and be reminded of losing him. I close my eyes and I can see his jaundiced face, but I also try to remember his rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes. His big grin, and his wrinkled forehead, and perfectly shaped eyebrows which I was so envious of. But I remember how he treated me, his words, his touch, and how happy I was with him. I love him so much and my grief is proportioned to how deep the love ran. So much so I continue to write about him, talk about what a wonderful man he was and how he impacted my life. If only we can all be so lucky.
I’ve taken giant leaps forward, but lately I have been taking steps back. But I’m still looking in the direction I want to go. I want to be back on track and continuing to flourish and achieve. I also know people care about me and having me not be my “normal” self is hard to watch. Creates discomfort because I’m not the cheery Julia I usually am. But I come back, I’ve been stringing together lots of happy moments in the day. But I need to grieve. My world became too heavy and I crumbled under the pressure. I fell but I will put one foot forward to get back up again. And because I’ve done this once before I will get back quicker.
I feel weak, but I am not weak. Grief is not a weakness. It’s human nature. If I could suppress this overwhelming feeling of loss, what would separate me from an animal or a machine? I’ll never stop loving him, and he’ll always have a presence in my life. And if carrying that love is frowned upon, then I don’t know. He changed my life. And he still does. If only we all can be so lucky to leave this earth knowing someone loves us immeasurably.