Right now I’m at the Women’s Coach Alliance conference in Denver, Colorado. There’s an incredible aura throughout this entire event. Amazing speakers, strong women from all walks of life and different backgrounds. Today, I lost it and I do get embarrassed about it. But what people view as vulnerable, in actuality it’s my strength. Vulnerability would be me hiding from the truth. The inability to accept what has brought me to this point in my life. Being widowed is my fabric, and it makes me strong. It is not my weakness.
We had a sports life coach come up this morning to give her presentation and she talked about living our lives as 10s. Always aiming to live in the 10 moments. At that point she asked the room what are some 10 out of 10 moments. People discussed winning a championship, impacting players lives, getting married, birth of a child, etc. And my brain flickers with a story board of moments. All of them landing on 1 specific moment and that was when I spoke in Time Square for the kick off of Cycle for Survival on 9/19/14. What would’ve been my first wedding anniversary.
My stomach clenched, my heart began racing, my palms were sweaty. I was back reliving that moment as I sat in the back of the classroom watching her ask if there’s any other moments. My hand ascended up and I began telling the story and then the tears dribbled down my cheeks and my voice became lost in my throat. I could only display the emotional effect of that day. The power, the value, the meaning and the importance of standing in Time Square talking about the greatest love story there ever was replayed behind my eyes.
I recently wrote an article for Hope For Widows Foundation, check it out:
But I’m getting more and more of these memories returning back to me and evoking such a tremendous emotional response. Is it because of the returning loneliness due to the deployment? Am I beginning to process grief? Did I not process it well enough the first time? I don’t know what’s happening to me. It might be because I’m out of coaching and for once I’m taking time to myself. I have no clue. But it’s a weird mixture of sadness, excitement, power, and resolution. I feel invigorated, refreshed and prepared for the next grand adventure to see where it’ll lead me.
I recently have returned to the widow message boards. I do this every once in awhile. This time I didn’t do it to seek out assistance or to vent. I needed a reminder of the men and women who I share this tragic emblem with. I’m a part of a club, and I need to remember to offer support and guidance to my fellow wids.
I have been having trouble dealing with my boyfriend’s deployment, and I have been feeling lonely, but it’s nothing like when George died. Nothing could ever compare to that. But having an empty bed again does hurt.
I’m looking to put together a grief group here in Montgomery. It’s not just aimed at those who are going through loss of a spouse. I’m learning that grief comes in all different forms. I do think I’m having grief issues connected to the deployment. I also think the change of career is triggering some emotions too. And it made me think of all the other wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends who are going through deployment, or other life changes.
I also think this article I just wrote on berries triggered grief. Good grief that was a hard article to write. Har-har-har.
George would be proud of me, I know he would. So I keep that in the back of my mind. This hiccup will pass and I will learn another valuable life lesson when it’s all over. And then I’ll be that much better pushing forward.
I feel like my life is becoming unhinged. I’m dreading the future. So I need to remember what makes me happy, things I’m grateful for. So here it is:
I’m grateful for my loving family who will listen to me cry and bitch about everything on the phone. And their ability to try to give me advice knowing I’m not really listening because I feel sorry for myself.
I’m grateful for my dogs who love me unconditionally no matter how disheveled I appear when I come home from work. They don’t weigh my value on wins and losses.
I’m grateful for the friends I’ve met throughout Montgomery because when I feel at my lowest, someone will say something or I’ll receive a text and allows me to remember I have to continue to enjoy living and not have one part of my everyday influence and affect the better parts.
I’m grateful for my boyfriend who makes me laugh, doesn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself for a long period of time, and reminds me of all the positive relationships I’m forming and how I’m a good influence on his and others lives.
I need my grateful buoys to keep me from drowning. I feel like there’s too much on my shoulders and I’m sinking. Sometimes a little inner reflection can make all the difference. I’m hoping this helps. I’m going on a night run to clear my mind, exhaust my body, and hopefully destress so I can get a full night sleep.
As of late, I feel so much has been put on me. I’m as fragile as an egg-shell nowadays. I sit in my car on my way to work crying, and when I’m home, I sit in my car just because I feel it blocks out the world for moments at a time. I’ve chewed my nails to nubs, and the burning in my joints to flee are coming back. Cinder blocks are resting on my shoulders from the moment I wake up and get out of the warm cocoon of bed. I am struggling right now, I feel like so much of what’s going on around me is out of my control.
I’m worried about my job. I’m worried about my team. I’m worried about my online class. I’m worried about failing. I’m worried about letting people down. I don’t think I’m doing a good job.
Every inch of me is telling me to find something to distract the growing vines of desolation burrowing inside of me and digging deeper and deeper. But these feelings are fleeting. I know it will get better but weathering the storm right now seems like an inconvenience. So much has happened in a month between my grandmother dying, moving, never having time off, and then having someone I care deeply for be sent away for nine weeks, I feel like the weight of it all is crushing me. Making it harder to get my legs under me and move step by step.
I went for a run today. My mind was a vacuum and all my thoughts came and went like a flash. But one thing was apparent as I was running. My lows are extremely low and my highs are to the sky. I need balance and right now but there is no fulcrum.
Tomorrow has to be better.
The Florida sky is black with tiny little white flickering stars smiling down. It’s hard being away for Christmas, especially when it’s not the frozen snow draped New England I know and love. My grandmother passed away on the very early morning of Christmas Eve. My family is all down here to spend one last Christmas with her because her health was quickly deteriorating. But before their planes landed she was gone. And we all are here together dumbfounded on what to do next. My mom is grieving, I see what she is doing and it’s all too familiar. Misplacing every day items, like where she parked her car (yes this happened), and manically picking up tons of items to store or throw away. The process of occupying the mind is here. It’s stirring a lot of emotions in all of us. We all lost a loved one, but it’s making all of us look around at each other and remember all the others we have lost too. Like my grandparents on my dad’s side, and of course George.
I sat next to my grandmother holding her hand as she wiggled and twisted from the pain. Bodie was balancing on my lap, and my brain just went somewhere else. My dad reminded me how I must be a pro at this now. I smirked and said there’s this little spot in my brain I know is there and it takes care of me.
oh it’s there all right. I went on a 6 mile run at high noon after she passed away. Even the devil wouldn’t have gone on a run with how the sun was beating down and the humidity was creeping up. I grieve by finding strength to push forward. To search for something to heal me.
This Christmas we all hung out at my grandmothers apartment. Helping my mom clean up, making lists of what needs to be done, and of course being with one another. When I was in the car with my brother, niece and sister-in-law I thought of something I did for George while he was slowing dying. I totally forgot about it but something rang it in. I remember putting his headphones in when he was in the coma and playing his favorite bands. I remember him reacting to it and being so excited. I remember how I wondered if he could still react if there was a chance he would get better. The evening my dad and I left my grandmother to go back to the hotel, she was talking and cracking jokes. We both thought she had some time before the inevitable. Then 3 hours later just before 1a she was gone.
Merry Christmas, squeeze your loved ones extra tight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.