Buckeye in my purse

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.

 

Back in New Orleans

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

Im spending this Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans. I wrote my graduate school thesis on The Battle of New Orelans so it’s great to be back here 8 years later. I still love reciting the history and folklore of this city. I got to reunite with my HS friends and again wonderful to know how much love and support I have all around. And it makes me appreciate the journey in a weird way.

my friends here are married and they are HS sweethearts. They’ve been together now for 9 years and we were talking about how they’ve grown together as a couple. From braces to wedding bands, and they still appreciate and respect each other deeply. Coincidently this interesting article came out in the NYT which I wanted to post. Im curious for people’s thoughts on it. It’s very pessimistic but having friends be married and then soon divorced I don’t think it’s tremendously off the mark.

NYT Marriage

 

My grief

imageCan 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.

Goodbye.

 

Another Spring Season

Toward the end of last year’s lacrosse season I started to have some major grief issues. The lacrosse season allowed me to stay busy and keep my mind off of what I had lost. This year there was a lot of highs and lows, and though my team is awaiting to hear if we had made it into the post-season tournament, things feel a little unsettled like they did a season ago. When the season is over, my normal routines get altered and I lose a little bit of purpose in my life. I can’t explain it, but I have this unnerving feeling of not sure what comes next.

We lost a must-win game on Saturday and after the game, I just wished George was alive so badly so I could vent to him. All season long, his absence was felt so much more this year than last. I would come home from practice and just want to tell him everything that’s gone on. All the good news and the bad. Just a need to talk to him. After Saturday’s game I wanted to tell him how disappointed I was, and how I felt I had let my team down. But through the wanting to have him return to me, having all his small trinkets and some of his stuff around me in the apartment, I knew this is a piece of this journey that going at it alone was best. Something that will prepare me and make me stronger for the future. Whenever I want to breakdown and just fall apart, I remember how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown and changed. And regardless of outcomes, and petty conflicts, no one can take my strength away from me. It is a part of me, and has made me who I am now.

So just like I did last year at this time, I’m turning to fitness. Running, biking, lifting, and swimming. It just makes me feel alive. I want to look as strong as I feel. And I’m closing in on that goal. So much has changed since that dreadful morning of November 25, 2013.

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The best day of my life happened a year ago

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Last year, on this day, George and I drove out to Canton, Connecticut to Bridge Street Live for our wedding reception. It was a 6 hour wedding reception with a live 80s cover band, White Wedding. We had a buffet and open bar.  I demanded the bar serve Budlight Limes, but I only had two drinks of vodka and red bull so I could dance all night long. I wanted to remember everything about that night. I want to travel back to that day.

George looked so handsome, and was radiating when he walked into the room with his friends and family. People travelled up from Maryland and as far west as Ohio just to be there for our evening. When our song They Might Be Giants- New York City started playing we hit the dance floor and neither one of us stopped grooving. We just grabbed each other and got lost in the night with people we love.

It was the best day of my life.

We always talked about which anniversary we would celebrate. We were originally to marry on October 19th but eloped on September 19th upon hearing news of his health. I said we could celebrate both, because why not? Today I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be with in order to help keep my mind off of my loss. I spent the day with my lacrosse team and got to coach them in our Fall play day. It was beautiful and crisp outside. It was peaceful, and when that first whistle blew and we scored in the first 14 seconds, I was just so happy. Everything those girls were working hard at for the last 4 weeks showed in just the first 14 seconds of the game. And they didn’t let up until the final whistle. They made me forget what I lost, and once again I come out feeling so inspired by them to be better and continue to work on myself so I can continue to grow and heal.

The best day of my life was last year, but I was happy again today. image

No one to share with

Last year, September 17th was a Tuesday. I took the day off from work and George and I headed into the city to get our marriage license from the Clerks office in TriBeCa. We held hands throughout the day. I miss just having a hand to hold. Especially when there’s no good reason except all you want to do is feel the warmth of the other person.

We got our marriage license and we had to wait 24 hours to be wed. I had a California recruit coming to campus on the 18th and so without hesitation we agreed that we would be wed on the 19th. 19 is my favorite number and I always wanted to be married on the 19th. George didn’t care. He just wanted to marry me and be husband and wife until he died.

After we got our license we went to a vietnamese restaurant around the corner. The name escapes me because to be honest it wasn’t that good. With news that George was dying we both decided to give up being vegan. You see, we became vegan because we hoped it would help fight cancer. But it failed us, and why continue if we no longer could rationalize why to stick with it. We both ordered vietnamese sandwiches, and before it came I started crying. I’m not a crier by any means. I rather pass out before you see me cry in public, but I just dropped my head and my shoulders started quivering. I couldn’t hide it.

When I looked up at him, he had tears in his eyes too, and he told me not to be sad. When he spoke, his words fell flat on my ears, he knew I had every right to be sad. I remember fiddling with the chop sticks at the table, and he asked me what I was thinking about. My eyes met his, and I looked away immediately and murmured, “who’s going to share a bag a skittles with me?” We both sat there weeping as the waiter brought us our food.

When George and I watched Sunday TV- Breaking Bad, Dexter and American Horror Story- we always split a bag of wild berry skittles. Green was my favorite so he always picked them out for me.

It’s really hard to lose the one person that made you the happiest. I find peace in other ways, but happiness still eludes me. I can feel the billowing cloud of emptiness swelling inside me.

I was supposed to grow old with him, not be widowed in my 20s.

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I’m not getting better

Exactly one year ago it was a warm September evening. I had my first practice of the 2013-2014 season with my lacrosse team from 430-630 at Drew University. It was a wonderful practice. The girls worked hard and I remember I was so impressed with the talent very early on. I knew it was going to be a great year.

I got home from work around 8p and I remember as I dropped my car off and was walking to the apartment George had just gotten home and was out with Bodie. He was still wearing his work clothes. I gave him a massive hug and told him all about how good my team looked from the first day and how much potential we had. He looked out of it, he kind of shrugged it off and said he needed to talk to me. Once we got into the apartment I remember he sat down on the bigger couch and I sat diagonally across from him on the love seat. He folded his hands and drew in a deep breath and looked at the ground. I kept asking what was going on? Finally his eyes met mine and they were glossy.

“I’m not getting better. I’m dying.”

His words ring to this day in my ears. He said it so matter of fact, as if he had been practicing saying it to me. But once those words crossed through my skull, my soul imploded and I crashed face first into the pillow hysterically crying. He quickly came to my side and rubbed my back. He said it would be okay but he was crying too. It wasn’t going to be okay. That night I filled out the application at the NYC clerks office to get a marriage license.

A year ago I found out my love was going to die and we decided to elope. We were supposed to get married October 19th but there was a chance he wouldn’t make it to the planned wedding date.

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Crystal Cave

Back on the bus heading to Lebanon Valley College for our semi-final tournament game. These Pennsylvania trips really wear on me. It’s like a criminal who just was released from prison continuing to visit the scene of the crime in which they committed for the initial arrest. How can you move forward when something keeps pulling you back? Pennsylvania is my real life purgatory. 

I don’t have malice thoughts, its just painful. I gaze out the window as the girls behind me giggle about their inside jokes. It’s starting to rain and we’re approaching Kutztown. A canary yellow sign screams by indicating the next exit to the crystal caves. 

Crystal caves? Like the ones in Bermuda? 

On October 25th, the final day of our honeymoon, George and I went to the crystal caves in Bermuda. It was raining on our final day on the island together. The caves, they were stunning; jaw dropping and wide eyed beautiful. But that beauty came to a halting stop later when he passed away exactly a month after visiting those crystal caves. 

Maybe he’s showing me early on that he’s watching me today. I asked him to this morning, maybe this is a way of saying “I’m here too.”

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Super Bowl and moving on

So many Americans really take the time to plan out their evenings the night of the Super Bowl. Stacking their fridges with beer, and making sure there’s mountains of chips, dips, wings and pizza. Anything that screams comfort foods, basically. Well this Sunday my plans have been made for me; I’m going to the Super Bowl.

It was a slow leak that suddenly opened up today once our communications office at school found out. My lacrosse team was selected to participate in the half time show. That’s really all I can say until after the Super Bowl. But when my team was selected, I couldn’t help but think there was some divine intervention. It was too good to be true. Any time I get asked about the Super Bowl, it’s a weird mixture of feelings. I’m so excited to go, because it’s a once in a life time opportunity and I’m happy to share it with my team this year, but I also wish I could share my excitement with George. When I was driving home one day, I just wanted to pick up my phone and call him. Tell him everything that’s happening, tell him the funny and bizarre things that go on, which I know he would appreciate.

Today marks 2 months and 6 days since he died. We were married for only 2 months and 6 days. Tomorrow, if I wear my rings will mean I was wearing them longer than we actually were calling each other husband and wife. I’m lost with this. I love my rings. They’re my favorite jewelry that I wear. I had this dream last night that blew my mind. It had to do with my wedding ring. So I was in grand central or some sort of public area and a man was showing me attention and I was really enjoying it. I then said I couldn’t do anything more because I’m married. I then got up and George came up to me and said “why don’t you just put your rings away? I started doing it.” And I was crushed. CRUSHED. I don’t really remember what happened afterwards, because it was one of those dreams where as you begin to awake it disappears. The only reason why I remember that part was because someone brought up wedding rings this morning and it triggered that scene back. 

I might go without my rings tomorrow to see how I feel… But I just love them so much. Do I need to put the rings away in order to move on? I mean I’m gaining all these new experiences without George, so why should I hang on to that then?

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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