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.
There has never been a more picturesque Connecticut Fall day since October 19, 2013. The sun was shining, and the cumulus clouds hung low and looked like huge cotton balls. The trees were sprinkled with multitudes of colors ranging from dark green to rust to radiant yellow. It was the perfect day to have a wedding. And I did. It was the wedding I never dreamed of because I never dreamed of having a wedding, but when it came time to decide on what would represent George and Julia the best, we knew there had to be live music and delicious food, and of course an open bar. It was the happiest day of my life.
Fast forward two years, I’m sitting at home alone in Montgomery, Alabama with memories of my former life swirling around me. I eat on a kitchen table George picked out, I watch a TV we won on The View, and memorabilia and novels on the mantle he either gave me, or remind me of him.
I float through days with my past lurking close behind. Memories of him dart through my mind quickly and as soon as they come they vanish as well. Not a day goes by I don’t think about him. I tell him I love him every day and I mumble I miss him before I go to bed. Today is different. There’s a steady stream of sadness in my heart. The life I missed out on because of cancer. The unrequited love I carry because of cancer. The undercurrent of heartache because of cancer. I hate what it has done to me. I will never celebrate an anniversary with him. I rarely say it but I am envious of my friends on their wedding anniversaries. They are doing what I’ll never have. They’re living a life they chose. I never wanted this. It wasn’t supposed to end up this way. I should be in midtown having a glorious dinner with my soulmate on a rooftop with the glow of the Empire State Building behind us. This is bullshit.
It’s easy to be angry and negative during the grieving process. When the grief comes back I slip into the “woe is me,” and “why did this happen to me,” and the always impressive amounts self-loathing. The self-loathing changed my life for the better surprisingly enough, but when it rears its head, lord does it take it’s toll. I really do think only a wid can empathize. When I’m grieving and I look in the mirror, I’m disgusted with everything staring back at me. It’s as if I’m looking at another person. And when I look at photos from my time with George, I hate that girl who’s with him too.
I watched the US Men’s National Lacrosse gold medal game against Canada this afternoon and upon finishing it I decided to look at an old picture book I made for George. As I was thumbing through the pages so much hurt and pain welled inside of me. He looked so happy and handsome in all the pictures. Blazing blue eyes matching his rosy cheeks and wide toothy smile. He was a dream. And the girl next to him look so young and in love. I traced my fingers over the people in the pictures and hoped through osmosis I could drift back to those times. Breathe in the cool winter air of Toledo or smell the freshly cut grass of Fairfield. “My favorite memories are always with you.” I wrote at the end of the book. They’ll always be my favorite memories, but I don’t recognize myself in the pictures. The girl who is kissing, hugging and laughing with him is not me. When he went to the crematory, she burned away with him also.
In the words of Rita Ora, RIP to the girl you used to see. Again, I must mention this infamous widow community I’m a card holding member of; some wids can let go of their old life quickly and scramble to find a new normal, which I feel I did. But others who are years out still tremble and cling on to the life they once knew. George hasn’t visited me in my dreams lately. The hackneyed comments of he lives on with you have also lost their luster. He will appear when I need him most. I don’t think I need him yet. There will come a time when I’m fighting and clawing to continue on and then he will be there. Because the one thing about this whole experience is lows are low. I do think about death on days I am so numbingly lonely. Not in a suicidal way, in a way of it doesn’t scare me.
Young and in love
In other news, I found out about an hour away in Pennsylvania they have skydiving. Guess what just hopped onto the bucket list.
I’m home in Connecticut right now and as I mentioned in my last post it decided to not go to Ohio for George’s second memorial. When I’m here in my hometown I am a bit of a shut in. I don’t like to go out unless its well pre-planned. The reason for it is I don’t want to chance a run in with an old acquaintance.
A lot of people may have not seen me since high school graduation (2003) but we’re friends on social media. The ultimate concern is the gratuitous small talk I would have to endure. And of course I’m afraid that will include a brief mention of George.
Whether I’m overthinking this whole thing or not it does haunt my returns back to my hometown. A lot of times I feel like people judge me and how I’m dealing with his death. Like I am a bad grieving widow. I’m not sad all the time, I don’t look like I spend every night crying myself to sleep anymore, and I appear to be enjoying myself. And a lot of times people do project how they would act to how they believe I should act. Even other widows do this too. And I do it to other wids. But when I compare myself to other grieving wids, I can’t help but wonder if I’m not sad enough.
After George died I returned to work quickly. I yearned for a return to normalcy only to realize I need to establish a new normal because my other life died along with George. So what you see of me now is not who I was before. Grief is always lurking in the shadows, but I try to keep a step ahead of it. I’m doing my best with this unwanted situation. And with it, I’m trying to better myself and figure out life after George.