Thanksgiving shopping

The day after Thanksgiving will mark 3 years since George passed. This will be my 4th Thanksgiving without him. As I was shopping for groceries for the holiday,  I looked around me at all the people rushing around inspecting turkeys and sweet potatoes, staring at which brand of cranberry sauce to buy, and barking orders at children to put things back. I gazed down at my cart barely half filled and a single bag of salad laying on top of everything and then it hit me, this holiday doesn’t have the same meaning for me anymore.

I’m not going home this year. I decided to stay in Montgomery due to fiscal and convenience. I feel bad that I’m not going home, but I also know that sometimes going home is like an opiate and just covers the pain of being alone. I need to feel the loneliness.

I am thankful for 364 days of the year. Losing him and dealing with the grief forced me to make huge life decisions. The thing about emotional pain is it can either tear you apart, or create an opportunity for change. And I’m so thankful for the love I shared with him and the relationships I’ve created and strengthened with those since he’s passed. But this holiday is a reminder of what I lost rather than what I’ve gained. And shopping alone for a holiday I used to love had me feeling hopeless, depressed and longing for a life that feels so foreign to me now.

I miss him a lot.

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Happy 3 year anniversary

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.

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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.

 

Happy Birthday George

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.image

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.

 

Grief, friends and Willie Nelson

imageWith grief it’s so easy to be pulled into the negatives. There’s an unforgiving grip of hopelessness, sorrow, self-loathing, rattled confidence, and second guessing yourself. I feel like I’m going crazy because I do not feel like myself. I feel like another person wearing my skin. And I’m surprised how overwhelming this bout of grief has been. I don’t feel like I should be feeling this way anymore. I thought this part was over. But two and a half years after he passed, one hiccup in the fortress caused for a full blown meltdown. I’ve had triggers of grief here and there but this one was bigger and being back here has been exhausting. But I’ve revisited the grief handouts and have been talking to someone and it’s been helping. The first go around those outlets weren’t helpful but this go it has been a life saver.

I am not going crazy. Turns out it’s a very common occurrence to have grief after the first serious relationship since a spouses death. And sometimes the grief is worse than the first time. When I heard this and learned this is common I didn’t feel so alone anymore. It made me feel better knowing others have dealt with this too. I’m having problems controlling my emotions and I’m second guessing my decisions and thinking I’m hurting the people around me which ultimately weighs and makes me feel worse. But I think it’s okay to be a little selfish too.

My friend invited me to see Willie Nelson in Atlanta last night and today I had a recruiting showcase just north of Atlanta so I thought it was perfect. I accepted and there I was front row watching a living legend. It was surreal. Jimmy Carter was there and got up on stage to sing, the night was unbelievable. When these opportunities present themselves and they are just so incredible and memorable, it’s those moments I do believe George is with me and showing me he’s got my back. He keeps an eye on me to assure me I’ll get through this hard time too.

I feel unbelievably unlucky a lot of times, but then there’s moments and experiences where I look around and just think how fortunate I am. It builds me up. And I’m glad for friends and those who put up with my ongoing emotional state and still smile and tell me they enjoy being around me. Because there’s so many days recently where I’ve wanted to be someone else again.

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Nothing Good Gets Away

This morning I traveled to Gulfport with my mom to see my grandmother. Last year around now I went to go visit her, and I’m back again now. When I go to Gulfport it’s a very sleepy podunk town, but it’s very beautiful. The gulf laps against the shore as the locals perch on the rocks fishing, and the boats idly float out a ways. In 2012, my sister and I took a sister vacation to Gulfport and we ended up meeting a few people who I’ve stayed in contact ever since. This afternoon I met up with one of the guys I met back then and we had lunch overlooking the gulf and caught up on life and everything in between.

After we finished having lunch he asked me if I wanted to go on a motorcycle ride down to the beach. I emphatically agreed because I do love motorcycle rides, and it’s something I really do miss. So I hopped on the back of the bike and we started cruising. The wind rushing through my hair, the sounds of the road, roar of the engine, I really felt at peace. The little communities on the way to the beach were quaint and then as we neared the shoreline, the mansions were impressive and towering. We puttered throughout and I gazed out at the ocean and began thinking about where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, and I started to get really emotional.

I’ve been learning more about the journalist Michael Hasting, who is the author of I lost my love in Baghdad which is about the war on terror in Iraq, and how his fiance was killed in a convoy ambush. It’s fascinating yet heartbreaking. But there’s one thing in the book that really resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. With young love, you certainly have to work at it. With young love that has a lot of hurt, it’s really hard not to have that hurt influence the present. And sometimes unable to process or deal you begin to look toward the future more because that is ultimately the light at the end of the tunnel, right? And when you’re doing so much of looking ahead, you miss out on what’s going on in the present.

For so long, I wanted to be someone else. I didn’t want to be who I was, so I worked at cultivating and changing my outward appearance and it did begin to shape my emotions and who I was as well. I successfully became someone different than who I was because I was so motivated to push forward. But now where do I go? I spoke with my friend last night when I was feeling extremely low, and they suggested I need to learn to be gentle with myself. I need to allow myself to hurt. I’m not just hurting because of Mike. I’m hurting because it opened up old wounds. Ones that were not properly healed. And I know these scars are some that make dealing with me very difficult. And I continue to tell friends and family, and others that I’m fine, but in reality I feel shame. I can’t explain exactly why, but I feel it and I think I’ve failed. Even though it’s situations far out of my control. And because of the trauma of losing George I try to enjoy what’s going on around me, but maybe I do indeed block out what really is going on around me, and in a F.Scott Fitzgerald kind of way I twist and invent a reality that doesn’t fit within the background of a character. People are real and operate in a context, and sometimes I don’t pay enough attention to the current surroundings but what I feel the outcome should be. I don’t know, I over-analyze.

All I do know is, nothing good gets away. Just needs to be found again.

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Why I write

Photo 119George and I had a food blog. We used to poodle around NYC looking for the best of the best, good deals, good vegan options, busts, and of course home recipes. It was a hobby with both enjoyed and a way we bonded. Blogging was a staple in our relationship and writing was the foundation of it. We met in a creative writing master’s program. So I write because I desire to find the words to redevelop and unlock the memories I had with him which serves as a means for me to feel connected and work through losing him. My posts aren’t as frequent now as they were in the early months, but my grief and feeling of loss isn’t as prevalent.

My method of operation to combat grief first was with writing, and then fitness. Now I pretty much have the fluctuating emotions in check. Beginning of the new year it was rearing its ugly head, but again the power of words helped me sort through it. The phrase time heals all wounds is accurate. But it’s naive to think I’m the same person I was 2 years ago. I was active in changing my spirit and mind by changing my body too. Early on my thoughts would drift to those moments when George was gaunt and jaundiced. His cheeks sunk inward, and his lips chapped from the medicine and the blue in his eyes popped because of the yellowish tint where it should’ve been white. But even when that was happening he still told jokes, he still made me laugh, he expressed so much love to everyone around him. And because of his joy of life it made me feel guilty that I was crippled by his absence. I knew if I was sad he would be devastated, so I worked on bettering myself from within. Finding reason to get out of bed. And luckily I had a responsibility of coaching my lacrosse team and running a program, but even more simplistic than that, I had a sweet little man I needed to care for.

Bodie grieved along with me. He would cry behind doors, snuggled close to George’s pillow, and just occupy his side of the bed. Those nights he hopped off the bed and whine just on the other side of the door tore me up inside. One time he did it at 430a and I called my mom because it was so sad. But together we changed and those dark memories became better. I remember the times George would play the guitar and make songs about Bodie and his love of his blue ball. Those times we walked through Prospect Park to the doggy beach and met other terriers for Bo to play with and then ignore just seconds later. I don’t remember the days he was dying as clearly, and it’s a blessing.

Writing allowed me to remember the good times, sort through my sorrow, find meaning in the memories, and bridge my old life to the one I continue to build now.

 

Grief 2.5

It’s been almost 2.5 years since George passed and the grief that struck me today was devastating. Worst thing I’ve ever felt. These swings are brutal. It started yesterday, and late last night I had to go to bed because I knew if I stayed up longer, I would make a regretful decision. Today it didn’t subside but became worse. I’ve always been the best at putting on a good face at work and breaking down behind close doors, and today was no exception. I did just that. But again, the grief came down like a hammer and left me clinging on to anything worthwhile. I needed to find reasons on why I need to be functional tomorrow.

I dont feel comfortable with my grief. I don’t like asking for help, but I am glad I have friends who are also widowed. They understand the hardship and the emptiness that comes unexpectedly. This was awful, I wanted to just find a quick fix for vicious sobs and guilty thoughts. As I was laying on my couch texting my wid friend, I started thinking about all those people who would say “if you need anything let me know.” My support system has dwindled but again I don’t feel comfortable with my grief. But there were a few who texted me tonight making sure I was okay. Some expected, but the ones I could count on… I don’t think they’re comfortable with my grief either.

Im sad, this isn’t easy. I miss George, I want him back, but nothing will change. This is a challenge and with challenges there change. And I’ve changed, my life has changed, but is it for the better? Or am I getting short changed? I need to figure some things out.image

Got you on my mind

imageIm not sure what it is, but I cannot stop thinking about George. I miss him so much. And damn Facebook keeps showing me memories from years ago, and it’s like everyday I’m reminded he’s dead.

I was at work the other day and was looking up stats from last season and I ran into an article written about me when I took the job. I felt like I was reading about someone else’s life. I was so disassociated from reality at that moment, and the words read like fiction to me. I’ve been spending a lot of time registering what’s going on around me, and I feel distant. Like someone picked me up and dropped me in the middle of Alabama and said “here make a life for yourself.” And I’m kind of trying. I miss my family a lot too. I miss my friends. I miss my old life.

My grandmother was widowed in her late 50’s, and she would be considered a young widow too. My family has said her life ended the minute my grandfather passed. After he passed she traveled around the world. But then settled down in Florida where she still lives. Even though it’s been 31 years since he’s passed, she talks about him like he was here yesterday. It’s been a little over 2 years without George, and it feels like an eternity ago since he was alive, but at the same time I feel like it was just yesterday we were still together. I  feel like I take two steps forward and then 10 backwards.

i don’t know if I feel sorry for myself, or why this sudden strike of longing is coming up, but it’s affecting me. It’s affecting how I feel, how I react, my decisions, and of course my mood. I feel more independent than I ever have before, but I feel the numbness slowly crawling back. Lean into it, allow the grief to come, and I do. It’s the hopelessness and numbness that scares me. It comes on so strong, and it swaddles me and it controls me. I stop caring about myself. I know it’s knocking, I feel the clunking footsteps following behind me. I need to be different.