Second wind

image He’s not coming back. I miss him a lot. And I wish George was here tonight. I want his guidance I want him to rub my belly and tell me everything is okay. That I’ll be fine and tomorrow will be better and the next even better than the last.

My grief is really bad tonight so I decided to hit back to the widow boards to talk about what’s getting me down. I had some really interesting responses and it made me hum and haw. The big question I had is why is this break up impacting me so much and one woman stated it best and I felt it was the champion outlook I’ve been waiting for: “the loneliness sucks. The feeling less than is tempting to believe, but what you’re feeling is that you deserve better treatment and you stood up for yourself…. The consequence to ending a relationship is all the processing your brain does while you move on. The kisses and intimate moments and smiles are pulling on your heart strings because it was a life and it’s over. You and everyone here knows the pain of closing doors. Keep pressing forward. You’ll thank yourself at the end of each day.”

I’m not thanking myself at the end of each day. I rack my brain with hundreds of different endings and none of which are truly achievable. I have Bodie to keep me company, he’s such a good pup. Never questions my loyalties and what I’m doing. Just loves me the way I am.

I miss George. He was so good to me, and I love him so much. And I have all this love to give, but it’s not ever going to be reciprocated. It makes me sad, and it’s brought on this familiar hollowness which is slowing making me drown again. I could barely hold a conversation tonight with my friend. dead eyes and flighty thoughts of why am I back here again?

Reinventing in Southeast

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It’s been so long since I’ve updated this thing! Someone recently asked me why I hadn’t and I mentioned that nothing too exciting or out of the ordinary has happened so no need to update. But I think there’s a lot. What would have been my two year anniversary just came and went a week ago, and during the time I had recruits at Huntingdon. It was a good distraction, but just like most anniversaries, the lead up to it creates the most anxiety. The days leading up to September 19th were grueling, but when the 19th came, I felt good. Relaxed. Happy. I thought about George, I missed George, but I also remind myself how the love I have for him still has helped me improve and better myself. I’ve said it once and I’ll always say it, I am so lucky to have experienced a love like his. I can only wish when I leave this earth someone loves me as much as I love him.

I’ve been in Alabama for 2 months now, and I LOVE IT! In New Jersey there was this cloud of death and sadness that hovered around me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. I played by the grieving handbook and didn’t make any major life decisions in the first year of widowhood, but when this opportunity came about I did think it was George pointing me in the direction to reclaim my life. And I think I have. When someone dies, no one can prepare you for the financial aftermath and I was lucky to have support of my parents, and to have a great emergency nest. But the reality came that Drew paid me really poorly, and I never was able to recover financially from George’s passing. I was scraping by. Being down here for 2 months I’ve already rebounded back, and though I don’t think money provides happiness, it does provide security which helps with overall happiness.

In New Jersey I learned to cope with the emotions of losing George, but now I’m learning how to live without him. I am so glad I took this risk to move to Montgomery, because I feel so free and independent. There was an adjustment period, but it was because the culture and people of the South are so different than the North. I’m coaching the sport I love, interacting with passionate and determined young women, meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life, and last but not least, I am teaching spin classes at a gym nearby and every time I am on that bike, I know George is smiling at me. Life it good here in the gump. Plus I met a sweet Air Force fellow at the dog park, and Bodie and his dog have become best friends while we started dating. Can’t really complain. My bouts of grief only last minutes now rather than days. That’s one thing worth noting.

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I was eating a carrot

Are you afraid of the dark?

I’ve been in Montgomery, AL for almost two weeks now and my moving company has yet to deliver my items. However that’s for a later date, and no need to even go into that painful story. Tonight I was walking my dog, and as I’ve mentioned in past posts, I love night walks and looking up and seeing the bubbling stars in the blackness above. It stretches as far as the eye can imagine and just hangs there stuck in time. When you look at a star you’re looking at a time of the past, and it comforts me. I look at a star and someone in Iceland can be viewing the same one. It’s kind of cool actually.

As I was walking there was a group of 5 teenagers outside just hanging out. As I walked by one asked what kind of dog Bodie is. I told him and quickly after he followed up with “aren’t you afraid of walking alone in the dark?” Without hesitation, I said no. Then wondered if I should be. Night has always been a metaphor for death, all quiet and cold.

In NJ I would run outside late at night, and take Bodie for mile long walks in the dead of winter night. But the dark has never scared me. Even in Jersey City, after George died, I would walk Bodie at night wishing something heinous would happen to me. But it never did. I think the boy had some sort of innocence to him inquiring about my nightly walks, but the reality is I enjoy them. And until something so unsettling happens on those walks, I plan on continuing them.

I’ve always done things like this. I should be more cautious on my walks, maybe shorten them, but I tend to mind my own business and because of that I just figure others will let me be. Maybe that’s not the case down south, but so far it has been. Except for tonight, when it took a teenage boy to just wonder if I was scared. I’ve walked a long road to find strength, and in the beginning of this journey the stillness of night cradled me back to life.

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Dinner for one

When driving to work, I saw a semi-truck flipped on its side, a school bus in a fender bender and pockets of intense traffic. I knew today was going to be an interesting outing.

Due to the incoming weather, I’m anticipating school being cancelled tomorrow. I also decided that because we had to cancel practice yesterday due to the snow and probably tomorrow because of the ice, having a three hour practice from 5-8 made sense. It was probably 20 degrees or colder out in the last hour. But I didn’t care, I just told the girls to keep on playing as I shivered and watched. They’re the highlight of my day.

I got home a little after 9pm I thought today would be a good day to order Indian food. I haven’t ordered food since George died. When I hung up the phone after placing my order, I realized I had ordered what George and I usually would get. When it arrived, I wanted to set out two plates.

Whenever I order take out, I always overeat until my stomach hurts. I lack self control. Today was no different. The biggest problem was I didn’t have George there to rub my stomach until it settled. But luckily Bodie nuzzled up against me on the couch. The warmth of Bodie pressed up against me sent me drifting. I started dozing off and for a second when I was about to come back to, I thought George was there with his hand resting on the side of me. But the cold reality set in fast when Bodie jumped off and I could feel the cold draft from the window. I’m all alone and ordered way too much food for one person.

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How fortunate am I?

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Behind my eyes, there’s an endless montage of pictures. On occasion, I stop to look at one of the images that cuts across my vision, and depending what’s there, I can instantly be brought to tears. When I’m participating in physical activity- like running, the montage quickly turns into a flip book and a hurricane of bi-polar emotions makes landfall. There’s nothing more embarrassing than whimpering on the elliptical machine, and then having a full break down while stretching. “She lost her husband, how unfortunate to hear.” “She’s so young too.”

I started packing my apartment up today. I should use the word “started” very loosely. I attempted to pack my apartment up today. That’s better and more accurate. I was able to do 2 bins worth before I found the birthday card George gave me on my 28th birthday… which was 23 days before he died. Yeah, this shitstorm happened really fast. Just to give a quick synopsis for any new readers:

  • married 9/19
  • wedding reception 10/19
  • honeymoon 10/21-10/25
  • 28th birthday 11/2
  • hospitalized 11/15
  • at home hospice 11/19 (2 months of marriage for you mathletes)
  • death 11/25

At first I thought the card might have been from my parents, so I opened it up, and when I realized it was the card George gave me, wow did I lose it. Even my dog was worried, he jumped on the bed and was barking at me in a high pitch. “What’s wrong! Don’t cry! Pet me!” When I collected myself I put the card in the bin I was preparing and then I saw a journal George got me and I opened it up and the first page said “Julia- you’re my favorite story. Keep writing it down. All my love, George.” Well, that was a sign. Stop packing and write. So here I am, writing.

There was one image that popped up a lot today and it was when we picnicked in Prospect Park. We used to grab sandwiches at La Bagel Delight or S’Nice and walk to Prospect Park with our dog and just lay a blanket on the grass, eat and then cuddle. Sometimes the horseback riders would trot by, and Bodie would perk up and examine the enormous dog-like things clopping by. We then would take Bodie to the doggie pond and he would splash into the water carefree until we had to pull him out. Reciting this memory, I can feel the sunlight hitting my skin. I can smell the pollen in the air, and hear the laughter of people walking by when they would stop to see the little terrier going nuts in the water. I miss holding his hand, in the special way that we did because I hated sweaty palms. I loved how much bigger his hand was to mine, and how when he would hold on to it I felt instantly protected and safe. I miss how he would always grab my butt at inappropriate times. I want to hear his voice telling me how beautiful I am. Instead, I have pictures and notes that will remind me of those fortunate times we had together. No new memories will be made, but all I can do is immerse myself in what we had. But all I want is to have him back. How fortunate am I? I’m in love with memories.

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He wrote me a song

George was many things and one of them was a musician. Before he became corporate with wearing a suit everyday to the office, he reveled his local celebrity status in Chicago as the bassist of two entertaining punk bands. One was a punk polka band and the other was a group with his good friends and were starting to really make a name for themselves. Before Alkaline Trio was headlining shows, they were opening up for George’s band. He always reminded me his band was on the same label as punk royalty, Black Flag.

His passion for music always held strong and he loved going to shows, writing songs, or just strumming on his guitar singing to our dog. His love for music was contagious and whenever he would sing or play a song, I had to drop what I was doing to listen.

On my 27th birthday he wrote me a song and made a music video. How many people can say they had a song written about them? I am so incredibly lucky to have fallen in love with such a wonderful, caring, talented, brave, and handsome man.

The day before he completely stopped talking, George said very staggered, “I wrote you a song. I was going to sing it for you at our wedding but there wasn’t time.” In which I responded, you wrote me a song? He then said slowly, “Do you want me to sing it?” I emphatically nodded, holding back the tears saying yes. He then began to try to sing the song to me.  I couldn’t really understand it, but it instantly became my favorite song. And I told him that. My goodness, he was the sweetest soul. On earth we lost an exceptionally great person. But somewhere beyond, they gained one.

Gusty return

The polar vortex is descending on NYC right now and the wind is deafening. High pitched whistles are endlessly swirling outside my window as I write this.

My 3 week hiatus of being away from the apartment has come to an end. I returned to work today and I proudly can say I kept my door open for the majority of the time I was in the office. There was only one point where my grief crept in and I couldn’t swallow it any longer. My dog knew I was sad, and he pawed his way to my lap and we just sat there for a half hour or so keeping each other company. He’s a sweet dog and a great companion for me. Usually he just wants to run around and say hi to the other coaches in the office.

When I came home to the apartment, I felt incredibly empty inside. I began reading the posts on YWBB.org to see if anyone else had experienced this overwhelming emptiness and I became distracted after a message I received from a friend about how they were thinking of me and hoping everything was okay. The mental state I was in at this point has been classified by the DSM V as “losing your shit.” I unwound quickly. The more I tried to keep it together, the quicker I unravelled. To be more productive than sitting on the couch sniffling, I started peeling potatoes and I sliced my finger pretty good. While tending to the wound, I started thinking about moving forward. Living life without George. And I quickly questioned, how is someone supposed to live when they feel dead inside? My heart is more than broken at this point. My heart has turned to rocks; Cold, hard, and inanimate. And the wooing gusts outside are mocking me. Joyfully rushing between buildings, stirring up a harmony of howls. I really wish I weren’t alone tonight.

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Luck found me

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Besides the fact that my dog was sick throughout the night throwing up and I was ready to have the worst day imaginable, luck found its way to me. There were mass cancellations throughout the northeast due to the snow storm, but luckily someone in housing at my university contacted me about an apartment. I like my current apartment now, it feels and smells like George. But at the same time I feel the essence of death swirling within the rooms. I step into my living room, and although the furniture is back to its rightful places, I can still picture the hospital bed and oxygen machine where my husband was waiting to die. It’s so fucking morbid in there. Pardon my cussing. The chains of death latch on to me the moment I enter the apartment and I’m scared to leave it because I don’t want to miss feeling George. But when I’m away from it, I’m dreading the moment I step through the doorway to sit on my depressing throne in front of the tv, where I sit in a zombie like trance in between my lonely whimpers and boisterous sobs. It’a a cruel carousel.

So the big news for today is I have a new apartment. It’s a way to move forward but I’m sad to leave the apartment my husband and I shared. It’s scary to be in a new place he will never actually see. Just like coming into 2014 will be the first year since 2006 that I haven’t been able to communicate with him. All these milestones are happening so quickly and I’m scared. I want to step out but I secretly wish my feet were in the mud. As more days separate the last time I was with him, I just can’t believe he’s really gone. We knew we were going to move out of our current apartment once the lease was up, but I never thought there wasn’t going to be a we when it came time to move.

Next Friday I get the keys to my new place, but I have my current apartment until the end of February. I’ve decided that I’m going to arrange the new place like our apartment in Brooklyn. It was our favorite apartment and the happiest time we had.image

Shut in

I’ve started reading about the stages of grief and I saw that the first stage is denial. The examples they give is the denial that your spouse is sick or going to die. I definitely think I went through that, but that means I was in the denial stages for my entire relationship. I knew George had cancer, and when he got sick I would help him but I never wanted to treat him like a cancer patient.  When he got terminal in the last month of his life, it was extremely difficult, and I don’t think I was in denial. I think I was optimistic that he would get better. When he started to become disoriented and couldn’t control himself anymore, I certainly went into shock. I still sometimes think I’m in shock because of how quickly he passed away. We returned from our honeymoon on October 25th, and then on November 25th he died. How would you react?

Maybe my diatribe above is what they mean about denial. I don’t know. My mind is so scrambled right now. One minute I’m focused on cooking and then another I realize I need to cancel his credit cards and then I go into hysterics. One thing is for sure, I’m withdrawing more and more. I’m screening phone calls because I just don’t want to hear it anymore. The platitudes of “if you need anything, let me know,” or, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through. If you need to talk, let me know.” I’m not just getting this from my close friends but I’m getting this from people I’ve never met before. So perhaps the denial stage isn’t necessarily denying your loved ones illness or death, but how you treat yourself. I’m denying myself from the outside world. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want help, I just want to be left alone. I’m even changing my walking routes so I don’t run into other people I know. The other dog owners in my complex knew George, they didn’t know me and I know if I run into them they’ll go “we haven’t seen George in awhile.” I know those 6 words would plunge into my heart and twist my stomach. He’s dead. That’s why you haven’t seen him. Dead.

I might be slowly entering into the anger phase of grief…

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Staring at memories

Today was the first real snowfall of the season, and the smell of snow coming stirred up overwhelming emotions. When the sky finally broke, and the flakes drifted down, all I could think about is how much fun George and I had walking Bodie in the snow. Kicking snow in Bodie’s face and how excited he was to catch it in his mouth. Coming back to the apartment is becoming more and more difficult. I look at a pen, and it reminds me of George using it to address our wedding invitations. I look at the body wash and remember when we took at trip out to BJ’s and he remembered to grab it because we were running low. All these mundane things are arousing such strong memories. So tremendously powerful memories that I double over crying. I do not know how I can go on without him. He was my stability, my happiness, my hobby, my life.  I never knew someone could affect my life like this, and now I wish I told him every hour of the day how much I loved him. The limited time we had together, I would do anything to get it back, and all I can do is reflect on pictures and items of all the wonderful times we had together.

Yesterday was an extremely difficult day. It was George’s memorial service and the amount of love that was in the room was very special. Friend’s from all different points in his life show up; high school, college, graduate school, work, friends from when he lived in Columbus, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course NYC. We had several slide shows going on during it, and I tried to make it as interactive as possible. He wouldn’t want everyone in a room just crying, he would have preferred everyone enjoying the time they had together with him. So that’s what I tried to do. Anyone could go up and tell a story they had about George, and it was phenomenal. Hearing how much joy he brought to people’s lives through his generosity, goofiness, humor, and whimsical take on life. He is and will forever be a special person in everyone’s lives. Dealing with his loss is going to be the hardest thing to cope with for a lot of people, and I know that this will be hardest thing I’ll ever encounter in my life. I hope the pictures will provide me with the strength he gave me when he was alive. I miss him dearly

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