Return to Widow Groups

IMG_8075I 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.

Return of the numbness

This afternoon I arrived to the gulf coast side of Florida to see my 90 year old grandmother. She isn’t doing well, and she’s in the midst of congestive heart failure. Her watery cough is one that’s far too familiar. She looks at me with her sky blue eyes and she tries to smile, but her breaths are too shallow and trips her. And there they are, those watery coughs. I snuggled into that part of my brain today that protects me. I distracted myself with work and looking up nonsense online. I know these are signs of denial. I just don’t want to face the grief that will be washing ashore again soon.

Family is arriving tomorrow, we’all keep each other afloat. And I’m so glad I have Bodie here with me. I’m also thankful I packed my running shoes. It’s time to hit the road for another lengthy trot. Those endorphins are my best weapon against the unpredictable demons that grief carries with it.

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Away for Christmas, again

I have this tendency to be away from Connecticut around Christmas. The first year after George passed away I was in California, and the uncertainty and inability to control my emotions haunts me. I always figured I’d never feel that way again because his passing was so fresh. Well here I am, in Florida, sort of feeling the same way again. Not to the extreme, but reflecting and feeling a bit down.

I’m here with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and niece for the time being. Tomorrow I’m going to hop into my car and head west to St.Petersburg to see my grandmother. My oldest brother flies here in the next couple days. There’s so much unconditional love swirling around me, but my mind is unfocused. My thoughts are fleeting and skipping, kind of like how a rock hops on water. And then there’s that one thought that hangs on and it’s all I can think about. These thoughts that hang on are my insecurities. I know it. I have one which is sinking further and further. It’s making me mad, uneasy, upset, and for what good reason? There isn’t one. It’s stupid and petty, but it hangs there to piss me off and torture me.

George visited me in my dream last night. I wish I could remember the premise of it, but all that I do remember is I lost my engagement ring, and then I found it again. But it was too big for my finger, and I tried hard to hide that it no longer fit. I felt ashamed and embarrassed when I had to show him the ring. What does this mean? I always felt so safe with George, but this dream had a different feeling for me. When I first started losing the weight and transforming, I worried he would no longer recognize me. I am not the same woman I was when he was alive. I’m different now. Maybe this just indicates change and need to push forward. Whatever it means, I am moving along to the next great adventure tomorrow. And maybe along the way, I’ll know what my unconscious mind was trying to reveal to me.

Until then, I’ll lay back with my hands behind my head, Bodie at my feet and my mind skipping along the water until it finally finds the one thought I can sink into.248949_685832100299_1317340_n

Ask for a sign

I ask George for a sign and a sign I shall receive! I’m over the three year mark of being widowed, and I remember when I would meet other widows who are at the 3 year or beyond and wonder if they still think about their spouse every day.  The answer is YES!

Not a day goes by I don’t think about George. My mind still wanders to the times we had together. It drifts wondering what life would be like if he were alive. I wonder if he magically appeared if he would like this new, revamped version of his wife. I wonder if he would like the people I spend my time with. What his advice would be to me if I were to vent about my problems. I just wonder. And sometimes all that wondering manifests and the longing for him comes back and then in those moments where I feel weak, I walk outside in the cool air, gaze up at the shimmering stars and the crescent moon and ask George to give me a sign. Please let me know I’m not screwing up my life and you’re still with me.

I ask for a sign, and he delivers. Every. Single. Time. It’s uncanny, seriously.

Over the past month a few of my friends have asked me to go to the Camellia Bowl. It’s a college football game in Montgomery where two teams head to the city to compete. I’ve turned down the offer a few times, because I have little to no interest in going. Plus I’m moving on the day of the game. So the Camellia Bowl has not been on my mind whatsoever and has little impact on my daily activities. Then a work colleague mentions to me about a week ago one of the teams to play in the bowl game is practicing at Huntingdon. I asked him what team it was and he said it’ll be University of Toledo.

If my heart had a tail, it would be wagging nonstop. I’m grinning, even as I write this I’m smiling. It’s almost to the point of appearing manic, but I can’t help it, this is so bizarre! I couldn’t believe UT was going to be coming to Huntingdon. What are the odds! George’s sister went to UT and his family lives in Toledo! If it were Bowling Green I would’ve fainted. George went to Bowling Green, but you know what UT is just as good! Plus the UT mascot is the Rockets and George’s high school mascot at Bay Village was a Rocket too. I just cannot help but see this as a sign. He’s here, he’s with me, he’s watching over me to make sure I don’t crash and burn.

One thing I’ve mentioned and I tend to talk and look for George when I feel defeated. And I should look for him when greatness happens too. I need to get better at that. But for now, I can’t wait to see UT practicing out there on the stadium field, and know George has given me a little Holiday message this year.

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Moon of Alabama

One afternoon my boyfriend and I were out on a walk with Bodie and he started talking about Montgomery, Alabama. How it was an up and coming city of the south and that there was a lot of booming businesses and a lot of potential for career moves. I remember I shrugged it off and said “wasn’t Jefferson Davis inaugurated in Montgomery?” He didn’t know. But turns out Davis was. It was the first Capitol of the confederacy.

Just days later I looked on NCAA marketplace to see what jobs were beginning to be posted because toward the end of lacrosse season you begin to see the job carousel. The lacrosse world is very small and usually if there’s a surprise opening you can get the back story to it in just two phone calls. Gossip spreads quickly. But there it was, a school I had heard of once before and it was located in Montgomery, Alabama. The place that so arbitrarily came up in conversation less than a week before. I clicked on the school’s link and I was intrigued.

A week later I decided to apply.

Three days after I sent my resume I had a phone interview with a man in Atlanta about the college. His wife worked at Emory. George’s initial surgery to remove the tumor was at the Emory hospital. I couldn’t shake that this whole thing manifested so quickly and was more than just a coincidence.

I set up my on campus interview and I was in Alabama on what would have been 20 months married. The school was small and quaint. Something you would see in an ABC Family television show. Brick buildings, massive football stadium on one side of the campus and a baseball field and tennis courts on the other. And in the middle of campus there was a small quarter mile long park. Flush with green and the shadows of the trees were like lacework on the paved path. It was beautiful and nothing I was anticipating. The following day I was offered the job.

It has been less than 2 years since George passed. I feel myself aching to move and experience what is out there. I’ve always wanted to live south because in college when I was learning about southern history it felt like a distant world. Even when George was alive I talked about how I wanted to move with him to Texas if his work ever decided to relocate him. Well this isn’t Texas but I think George has given me the push to take a risk and have me live the way I dreamed of.

Ill be moving to Alabama this summer and taking over the Huntingdon Women’s Lacrosse Program. It’s my next adventure and I cannot wait to live in a place I’ve read so much about and be around people who actually know who William Yancey is.

My time at Drew was so special and the unconditional love and support I received during my darkest days has given me strength to want to continue living. The people I’ve met here in New Jersey have impacted my life and will have a special place in my memories. image

Golden Gate Bridge

George and I traveled to San Francisco in 2012 and it was one of the best vacations we went on. Well I’m back in the golden city and was nearly possessed to run across the golden gate bridge. As I was running the sun was setting and once again I got to witness the most surreal view. But this time I had my camera. I felt alive and was so proud of how far I’ve come. I miss George a lot. But I think he was with me sharing the moment too.

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Snow capped Alps

When George and I travelled to Taos, New Mexico it was my first encounter with a large mountain range. Since then I’ve been wanting to return to the Rockies and go hiking. Everyone says the trails in Colorado are stunning and impressive. I think those who are saying that the Rockies are impressive have never been in the Alps. The moment we closed in on the Alps the enormous snow covered peaks and lush green bases stole my breath. Base jumpers were floating downward while the gondolas were gracefully ascending. Many think of palm trees and oceans lapping against the shore as paradise, the quiet monster of the Alps quickly became my paradise.

The beauty of the small villages tucked within the mountains nearly brought me to tears. As you travel toward the tops of the mountains, small streams create the lacework of the land. And the villages become the mountains adornments. At the top, you’re among the clouds, the air is cooler but the grandeur of the world is all around and beneath. I felt at peace, and yet the weight of grief trampled me. Something so stunning and all I wanted to do is share it with George.

I sometimes feel so guilty that I’m getting these wonderful experiences without him. Especially when I know he would have been just as enamored with the scenery as much as I was. But I also know he would want me to experience life to the fullest, with or without him. I told my sister at the end of our day that if George was still alive, I wouldn’t be experiencing this moment. There’s so much life to be had. I look at these mountains, and if there wasn’t any snow, there would be no streams, and without streams there wouldn’t be any villages. Without all those things to make it wondrous, what would be left? Just a massive rock formation. Without George, that’s how I feel; together we were beautiful.

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Lake Zurich

This afternoon I headed into the city of Zurich. I didn’t know today was a holiday so all the shops were closed, and the restaurants were bustling. Zurich is situated in a valley with the Alps surrounding it. It’s so beautiful and peaceful. Although, today was very hot, and sometimes the heat took away from the city’s magic. However, upon arriving I went on the ferry boat around Lake Zurich.

The last time I was on a boat was in 2012 when George and I travelled to San Francisco. We took the ferry out to Alcatraz and it was just around this time of year too. Weather being extremely different of course, but we loved being on the boat. We always enjoyed ourselves on boats. The second weekend I visited him in NYC it was on the anniversary of the Burr-Hamilton Duel and we took the ferry to Weehawken to go hiking to the duel site. That was such a fun afternoon. It was so humid that day, but being on the water with the wind weaving through our clothes and whisking across our faces, it felt amazing. So it was no surprise that being on the ferry today stirred up some of those peaceful and happy moments. I thought I could really concentrate on myself while gazing at the mountain tops and the towns that hugged the base of them.

But at one ferry stop, there was a young man who was waving at the boat, just grinning ear to ear. The water was up to his waist and he had a patch of chest hair on his sternum. His body looked like George’s. His messy dirty blonde hair looked like George’s when he was in his 20’s. The only thing that didn’t match was his nose. It was long and pointy, where George had what appeared to be a ball at the end of his. I stared at this man who was just goofing around, because he looked like George when he was younger and a rockstar. It was eerie, and it made me miss what I no longer had. But I’m also grateful for what I was able to have with him. Being a widow is tough. Always searching for something that’s just a memory.

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I’m in Germany

On Tuesday I boarded a plane and headed Eastbound to Germany. I’ve been without internet for days, up until right now, and there’s so many sights, sounds, experiences I wanted to document, but unfortunately Oldenburg is in the dark ages of worldwide communication. I’m on my sister’s computer right now and eating up her battery power. She packed her charger away because we’re flying to Switzerland later this evening.

My sister is involved in theatre, and George and her always had a great relationship based off both their mutual affinity for Tim and Eric and theatre. George and I kicked around the idea of traveling to Frankfurt some time, but never did so.Image

When the opportunity to travel to Germany came up, I had to take it. It’s what George would have wanted. There’s so many things he would have loved out here and in my purse I carry a picture of him so even though he’s not physically with me, I’m sharing this experience with him. The food, the people, the opera I went to, he would have loved it all. Yesterday I went for a three and a half mile run and got lost. I just know that upon arriving back at the bed and breakfast telling him that I got lost he would have been so angry saying I shouldn’t have strayed too far from the park. But then he’d be happy that I found my way back in a foreign country, and that’s such a “Julia thing to do.” To be honest, I was freaked out and ran extra fast so I can get to a street that had shops that were kind of familiar. It all worked out. I would end the discussion with, “I’m fine, it was fun.” And he would hold my hand because he wouldn’t want to lose me.

I got lost in Brooklyn once, except I got on the wrong subway. He held me close that night, didn’t want to be without me. I just wish I had his hand to hold again.

Lucky cat

imageAfter spending 6 days on the west coast I’m thrilled to be back in the tundra of the northeast. On the flight I remembered this really random memory of George that brought warmth to my chest that quickly sprinted toward my finger tips and toes. Hours later when we finally landed I was really excited to write this memory in my post tonight, except I couldn’t remember what it was! I had an internal freak out on my way to th baggage claim. I reviewed what exactly I did today and who I was with and what might have caused the sudden peacefulness of such a pleasant memory, but nothing returned to me.

Then I started thinking how what if in several years, I forget all the little nooks of our relationship that brought me bliss? I became dizzy with worry that there might come a time I could possibly forget George. But that’s why I have a blog and pictures, right? This man changed my life so much and I can’t even keep a memory from disappearing. I need to write them down as they come to me. There was one other remembrance I had of him and I was tentative about writing it.

First off, George was the nicest human being ever and he genuineness and good will could be felt from strangers. He had a friendly face and people always asked him for directions in NYC. One thing we both had great disdain for was unruly children in public places. I think everyone has this to a certain degree. Mine is much more visible than his was but he channelled his very funny. If there was a screaming child in a store or plane, he would grit his teeth and in a low voice, he would softly say… Aw I can’t write it on the internet for the world to see. The lead up will be enough for me to remember. I already smirked thinking of him doing it.image

One thing I’ve been noticing myself doing more and more is buying things reminding me of George. Food mostly. But with trips many people get gifts for their loved ones showing they thought of them while away. Wow, just remembered my lost memory from above. I was thinking about the last place George travelled without me and he went to Atlanta for a business trip. When he returned he pulled out a set of dull metallic earring with a glowing blue gem hanging from them. I wore them to the court house when we got married. This is probably why I ended up in Pandora this evening at the airport…

I have a wandering mind. I walked by pandora about three times today before going in. To kill time I decided I’ll see if they have any charms I could add to my bracelet that remind me of George. Oh boy, did they! I was looking at the seasonal selective charms and most were Christmas themed but there was a lucky cat charm that stuck out like a pig in a chicken coop. I asked the salesperson how much it was and it was $35. Cheap on the pandora Richter scale. Well I quickly told her I’d like one along with 2 more charms of a G and K. His initials. Turns out if I got one more charm I could get a free bracelet so I thought, hell yeah, George should have his own bracelet anyway. So I got a heart charm too.

So what’s so good about a lucky cat? Lately I’ve been seeing lucky cats everywhere I go. On shirts, patches, stickers, mugs, just about everywhere. I’ve decided the lucky cat is my spirit animal and it’s serving a purpose, or bringing me luck. You see, it’s not so odd. At our wedding reception, our centerpieces were lucky cats. They were a huge hit and we were so happy we picked something not as trite as flowers. With a lucky cat centerpiece we felt we really put our George and Julia seal on our reception. We wanted it to be like no other wedding and we succeeded. So when I see lucky cats I go back to that amazing day. It’s a reminder of the good times. So I made myself a bracelet and although I can’t give it to George on my return home, I can look at it an hopefully remember and feel him as I continue to heal. I miss him so much, and I need as much brain power to lock these memories for a lifetime.image