Expectation

Note: I started this post almost a month ago and never finished. Will be choppy.

 

For awhile I floated through the days with little care because nothing could be worse than losing George. I lost my purpose and my life for the time being had no meaning. I wanted to stop existing. I remember on Christmas Day 2013, staring out of my hotel window wanting to just throw myself out of it. Defenestration was appealing but the result was not. I didn’t want to stop living, I wanted my life to be suspended. Put on hold until I could process what was happening to me. Or some way figure out how I can rewind everything back. But there I was, staring down at a massive Christmas display in downtown LA waiting for the day to be over and the nightmare presses on. My only expectation then was to make it to the next day.

Eventually all those days I bobbed through began to add up. And soon I was 3 months out, then 7 months, a year, two years and so on. But somewhere during the journey the mindless day began holding meaning. This Friday I didn’t cry myself to sleep, so let’s see how tomorrow will go. And soon I found strength to will myself to improve. Began walking Bodie for miles at a time. Those little bits helped. Started cycling a few times a week. Those little bits helped. And soon I had self-expectations to be active for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Because those 20 minutes helped my mind process the loss. And soon all those little bits started adding up, and mentally, physically and emotionally I was steady.

The expectations of others has always fueled me as well. But like so many it’s hard to live up to them. But one thing that is not difficult to ask of me was something my mom kept harping on me about: go through George’s boxes. I would roll my eyes and say I’ll get to it. But we both knew I was a coward. It bothered me I wasn’t strong enough to do it. Even as the two year mark came and went, I couldn’t do it. Opening those boxes, seeing his pictures, finding the memories, reliving losing him, I wanted to spare myself from it all.

I went back to Connecticut in the middle of October. The three year mark is just a month away and it was time. I knew I had to go through what I’ve been avoiding. I expected it to be as painful as the day he passed. Feeling lost, hopeless, and confused. But when I opened the first box and saw lyrics to a song about me, I wasn’t afraid. I wanted to find more. I wanted to swaddle myself in his love again. I could read his thoughts and feel him. I ripped through those boxes, shuffling his pictures, pulling and turning pages of his notes. Seeing his handwriting, reading his thoughts and immersing myself in the love we shared. I expected it to be so agonizing but it was rejuvenating. Pleasant and peaceful to be connected to him.

and then I realized, where I am now is because I have high expectations for myself and who I want to be. But expectations can also prevent me from taking those necessary steps to becoming the person I am meant to be.

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Second Christmas

imageThere are no firsts anymore. Each day is a repeat. Last year on Christmas I was in California sitting outside in the sun watching Netflix on my iPad as everyone opened gifts and spent family time together. I wanted to disappear. I didn’t want to exist a year ago. Christmas last year was the one month mark since George died. Today it’s the 13 month mark since he was in my life.

In a year so much has changed. I remember demanding to be taken back to the hotel last year because the hate, dread and sadness that swallowed my soul was too much to bear. I was suffocating with each breath. My life meant nothing without him.

Today I reflect back on that time and though the struggle was horrendous, it has made me who I am now. I dont think I can convey how dark those early months were. I just didn’t wish to be present. I was stuck between the devastation of reality and the yearning for the past. But today I look forward for the wonders of tomorrow. I love each day, regardless of how difficult they can be.

I have transformed my life simply because I couldn’t continue to loath. I would feel guilty about being so sad because I know All George would want me to be is happy, and when I felt those blips of contentment I would feel guilty about not grieving enough. I sound like a broken record but I had to relearn how to live and embrace the opportunities that present themselves.

imageThis year has been a whirlwind, but when I look in the mirror, when I think about where I was at this time a year ago, I just can’t help but be completely proud of how far I’ve come. It’s imperative during the grieving process to find one thing that provides you the feeling of control. Something that will help steer as everything you know begins to fall and reform. It will never feel normal, nothing will ever be the same, but change shouldn’t be feared. As much as you may want everything to remain, that life and reality cannot exist without that one person. So it’s every individuals job to carve out a new path, a new route in this journey that provides stimulation and meaning. Today I am proud of myself for surviving this first year without George. But as time comes between us, his love and our time together will always be the paving on my journey. I think about him and tell him I miss him everyday.

I felt him on my 9.5 mile run today. I heard his voice as my legs began to cramp up, because nothing in this world can motivate me the way he does. He’s my guy. He’s my fuel. A love so powerful that it goes beyond this world.

My second Christmas as a widow. The pain does lessen but the love is still strong.

Golden Gate Bridge

George and I traveled to San Francisco in 2012 and it was one of the best vacations we went on. Well I’m back in the golden city and was nearly possessed to run across the golden gate bridge. As I was running the sun was setting and once again I got to witness the most surreal view. But this time I had my camera. I felt alive and was so proud of how far I’ve come. I miss George a lot. But I think he was with me sharing the moment too.

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Are people looking at me?

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This trip to California is the perfect bookend to this first year of widowhood. Less then a month after George died I was out here as a walking corpse. I was embarrassed, sad, horrified with my life, and just wanted to cease to exist. With less than a month to go to George’s death anniversary I am out here trying to experience as much as life as possible. I’m not as sad, I’ve accepted this life and I want to embrace life to the fullest. Last night as I was stuck in traffic on the 80 just outside of Berkley, I got to watch the most magnificent sunset over the bay. It was just so ethereal and I was actually happy to be in traffic because I wouldn’t have gotten to experience that view.

Im becoming a broken record about fitness, I know. It has become my serum of choice during this journey. So when George passed I felt so vulnerable, like most wids do. I didn’t want to be seen or acknowledged. I wanted to grieve privately, but going on vacation out to the west coast was not something I desired to do. But I couldn’t be left alone either because I didn’t want to be alive during that time. When I was out here last December I felt like EVERYONE was looking at the sad widow. I would cry in public and I looked like hell. Now that I’m out here with a clearer mind and can see more of the california lifestyle, I think a lot of people didn’t give a lot of thought into how I looked. Most likely they thought I was coming off something to be honest.

Being out here with my new body I want to flaunt what I have been working so hard on. I wore a crop top, I rode in SoulCycle West Hollywood without a shirt on, and I went braless in a nice outfit. When all I wanted to be in hidden, now I’m excited people take notice. But in all honesty, it’s not necessarily people taking notice, because that’s a bit vain. It’s good to have my confidence back.

One thing that still haunts me though is I don’t think George would recognize me. But I know he would be proud of my hard work and how far I’ve come.

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Back to California

Early on when I first started this blog I traveled to California with my family for Christmas. It was possibly the worst trip of my life. It was less than a month after George passed and I was miserable. Everytime I returned to the hotel and would visit the pent house room of the hotel, all I wondered was how to open the windows. I was in a really bad place to say the least. But I have returned to California as an entirely different person.

I needed this trip. I’m out here for work but I did choose this recruiting trip purposely to see my brother, sister in law and niece because with George’s death anniversary closing in, I needed a change. I needed to feel that unconditional love that I get when I see my niece. She just turned a year old a few weeks ago. It’s a strange a strange thought; as she ages it will always mark how many years George has been dead. But when I couldn’t bare to look at her or have her in my life, when I see her now it fills me with such limitless joy. It’s great to be here in sunny California.

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Strange haunting

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When I peered out my window this afternoon, everything was peacefully frozen in a blanket of white. It felt like time had stopped with it. When I looked at the footprints in the snow, a haunting image crossed my vision; I saw my husband’s lifeless body covered in a woven white blanket.

I can picture what he looked like when he died flawlessly. I still can feel his warmth, and how still and cold his hands were after an hour passed. It’s a photograph in my memory I want to hold over a flame and watch it incinerate, but instead it’s branded into my frontal lobe. I want to take the heel of my hand and bang it against my brow line and shake the memory out. But what good would that do? It’s there to haunt me while I’m awake.

With these strange feelings and recalls of that horrid day, I finally decided to look into young widow message boards. I did this once prior. I started going through the forums to see if other people had similar experiences to mine, and some kind of did. But one thing that stuck out to me was someone who was talking about the differences in grief. Grief is unique and beyond the realm of normalcy. Everyone has different personalities, therefore everyone’s grief is individual and different. I have been getting compliments on “how well I’m doing,” but sometimes I feel like those around me are walking on egg shells because at any moment they think I will have a catastrophic meltdown. Which admittedly did happen a few times in California. But little do they know, that I’m walking in a field of mines and that’s EXACTLY what I’m terrified of. I feel guilty on days I don’t think I cry enough and I’m idly waiting for the next shoe to drop. It’s horrible and scary and I just have to go with it. There’s no other choice.

One silver lining that I read from someone on the message board was about what they read in a grief book. They paraphrased it and said grief could be less painful for those who had a good relationship with a spouse who was generally happy. George and I had a GREAT relationship. We were made for each other. I know that’s a cliche, but we knew it, and others could see it. George was such a happy and welcoming person. I’ve said this once before, I know George would want me to be happy and I want to be, but the way that he was towards the end is what keeps me up at night, and also prevents me from a night of sound sleep. But if I had to redo everything with taking care of him in our living room, I’d do it all over again if I could have one more day with him. I miss him so much.Image

Ready or not

For the last few weeks I had been anticipating my trip to California and how my feelings would be on the other side of the country. It really consumed most of my thoughts and imagination when I played out situational scenarios or dialogue. I failed to look past it and what would happen when my derailed life kept on chugging along. Welp, it came head on today because one of my high school friends was getting married. I didn’t stop to think, gee how will you feel going to a wedding? What are some emotions that might arise from this? What could possibly go wrong?

Luckily today’s wedding was a catholic one and the ceremony was long and overwrought. I’ve never been to a catholic wedding and I hope I don’t get invited to anymore. So many hymns and prayers in between. Just not my cup of tea. The length and awkwardness of not knowing any catholic prayers took the edge off. However, when it was time for the reception, to a surprising turn of events I was placed at the spill over singles table. This is something I never anticipated nor would have imagined to play out.

I’m not even sure what to say. I managed because I did have a handful of friends at the table, but it wasn’t enjoyable. During the first dance and family toasts, I gazed around the room and there was so many glossy eyes and soft sniffles. And at that point I realized I’m a goddamn robot. I can’t feel normal emotions. I cannot connect with what is going on around me and nor process it. Instead I sit there like a sociopath thinking what’s the big deal? I’m sure it’s not the first marriage witnessed. I am callous and cannot celebrate in other peoples joy because my misery has become host to all other feelings. During the wedding I did force myself to dance which was short lived. Shaking my hips, throwing my arms around, rotating my head, it all had no feeling. So instead I sat down and watched. I watched thinking what would I be doing if George was my date. Would we be sitting and talking about the terrible techno rendition of Don’t Stop Believing or would we be taking pictures of ourselves enjoying the colorful lights as the music thumped along? As suspected when I begin to think about the if-George-was-here my grief avalanched in the of my stomach. I scurried to the bathroom to hide. Can’t be upset on my friends happiest day of his life. But ready or not, life must push along whether you’re on board or not.

I miss George more than anything. Moving on without him is indescribable. I just want to call him and tell him about my days and what I’ve learned rather than logging it before I go to bed. Someone commented in one of my previous posts that even though he’s not here, he can see and read what I’m doing/saying. I try to make him proud. I told him before he died that I’d be okay And he doesn’t have to worry. But I can’t help but think that if he’s watching me all he can see is a person breaking as easily as a porcelain doll.

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Retail therapy

My time in California is coming to an end. Tomorrow I fly back to the east coast, and I’m wavering back and forth on whether it was a good idea to come here this week. My grief counselor didn’t think it was a great idea and now I completely understand. My head was not right and neither was my heart. I never had the chance to meet my niece because I couldn’t bare to look at her without thinking she was born while I lost the most important person in my life. I’m starting more to also consider I’m just not ready to bring more love into my heart. Ill talk it over with someone objective.

Due to my inability to be around a newborn, my sister took me around Silver Lake today shopping and treating myself. This morning was rough because my mom kept asking if I really didn’t know George was as sick as he was while we were dating, and my optimism can be quickly transformed and labeled as naive or ignorant. It’s so easy for her to point this out after he’s dead, like oh how could you hav not seen this coming? But no one did. We returned from our honeymoon on October 25 and exactly one month later he was leaving our apartment in a body bag. His final stage came extremely quickly. I’m a broken record.

So my sister took my dress shopping and after trying on a couple dresses I kept telling her I’ve let myself go. I just feel horribly unattractive. George always made me feel beautiful even on days I woke up disheveled. Admittedly once I found out he wasnt going to get better back in September I stopped working out and just didn’t care about myself. It’s starting to show. I tried on the second to last dress in the bunch and when I saw myself in the mirror I felt like George was looking back at me saying “do you know how beautiful you are?” I bought it seconds later.

My mood did begin to get better as the day progresses. We got pedicures and I got my eyebrows done. The little bit we did helped my mood tremendously and it was the best mental day of the week. But the looming return back east might be playing a part as well. I don’t feel George as much out here. There’s more reminders back home and I need them to get by. Without them all there is left is a void in my heart and a desperate need for symbols and signs. Image

A widows first Christmas

imageOn Monday November 25th at 5:35am the love of my life breathed his last breath. He could no longer fight the cancer that was growing inside him. He was only 46 years old and we had married 2 months and six days prior.

Within a time frame of less than three months, we had a wedding, went on our honeymoon and then I had to plan his funeral. There is nothing to be merry about this Christmas.

George’s favorite thing to do around the holidays is dress as Santa. He would put his Santa suit on and deliver presents to his family. He would also surprise his neighbors kids as well. All day I was looking at pictures of George in his Santa costume whether he was at Santa Con in NYC or in Ohio or CT. It was a tradition that he showed me and I looked forward to it.

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We always would stay up late on Christmas Eve watching the old time movies like Miracle on 34th street or its a wonderful life. We both loved George Bailey and how the town came to his aide. It’s more than a Christmas movie, it’s the first movie, as George would point out, that you became emotionally attached to the protagonist to succeed. As George coined it, the first oblivious protagonist.

Without his hand to hold, shoulder to rest on, and his comforting voice, Christmas meant nothing to me. It was just another Wednesday where I had to choke back the tears and excuse myself when I couldn’t handle the grief that would overcome me. I spent the day outside on my brother’s patio in LA watching Netflix on my iPad. My entire family was around, caring for me and showing me love, but there’s only one person I wanted love from today. And all I can do is look at pictures from a better and happier time. And when the happiness from the pictures evaporates with the realization ill never have that again, I distract my sorrow with some meaningless show that I can stream instantly.

This was supposed to be my first Christmas as a married woman. Cancer took my husband, stole my Christmas, and obliterated my heart. image

Thirty Mile Zone

There’s a number of things George and I talked about doing together. We spoke freely about plans for the future without considering that there was a chance that there wouldn’t be a future for us. Wow. That’s a really hard stream of consciousness for you right there. I must be the most naive person on the planet. I truly thought I was going to be happily married for years. Not weeks. This isn’t the point of my daily debriefing.

We travelled to LA last thanksgiving and the only regret we had was not doing the TMZ Tour. So the plan for this years California trip was to go on the tour. My sister and her boyfriend accompanied me on the tour and I was do elated to be there. While waiting to go on the tour you wait in this candy store and I quickly honed in on a bag of skittles. One thing George and I did frequently was split a bag of wild berry skittles. It was one of our favorite treats. He always picked the green ones out for me because those were my favorites. The thought of not having him to share my skittles with saddens me tremendously. When I found out in September he wasn’t going to get better, I cried saying “who’s going to share my bag of skittles?” Something so small carries a huge meaning.

So we were supposed to do the tour together so I got the skittles to “share” with him. I ate half the bag during the tour (which was 2 hours). But being carted around Hollywood and Beverly Hills was a ton of fun. And I knew he would’ve loved to be there. George was the best at picking out celebrities and I made a faulty call on seeing Bradly Cooper. I’m sure if George was there he would’ve been seeing tons of arbitrary celebs.

I do think its important for my mental health to do the activities that we were planning on doing. It’s a little weird to do them without him, but he’s there in spirit right? At least I hope so. I miss him and want to feel next to him as much as possible.

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