The happiest day of my life

imageThere has never been a more picturesque Connecticut Fall day since October 19, 2013. The sun was shining, and the cumulus clouds hung low and looked like huge cotton balls. The trees were sprinkled with multitudes of colors ranging from dark green to rust to radiant yellow. It was the perfect day to have a wedding. And I did. It was the wedding I never dreamed of because I never dreamed of having a wedding, but when it came time to decide on what would represent George and Julia the best, we knew there had to be live music and delicious food, and of course an open bar. It was the happiest day of my life.

Fast forward two years, I’m sitting at home alone in Montgomery, Alabama with memories of my former life swirling around me. I eat on a kitchen table George picked out, I watch a TV we won on The View, and memorabilia and novels on the mantle he either gave me, or remind me of him.

I float through days with my past lurking close behind. Memories of him dart through my mind quickly and as soon as they come they vanish as well. Not a day goes by I don’t think about him. I tell him I love him every day and I mumble I miss him before I go to bed. Today is different. There’s a steady stream of sadness in my heart. The life I missed out on because of cancer. The unrequited love I carry because of cancer. The undercurrent of heartache because of cancer. I hate what it has done to me. I will never celebrate an anniversary with him. I rarely say it but I am envious of my friends on their wedding anniversaries. They are doing what I’ll never have. They’re living a life they chose. I never wanted this. It wasn’t supposed to end up this way. I should be in midtown having a glorious dinner with my soulmate on a rooftop with the glow of the Empire State Building behind us. This is bullshit.

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It’s easy to be angry and negative during the grieving process. When the grief comes back I slip into the “woe is me,” and “why did this happen to me,” and the always impressive amounts self-loathing. The self-loathing changed my life for the better surprisingly enough, but when it rears its head, lord does it take it’s toll. I really do think only a wid can empathize. When I’m grieving and I look in the mirror, I’m disgusted with everything staring back at me. It’s as if I’m looking at another person. And when I look at photos from my time with George, I hate that girl who’s with him too.

Three things I love in Nashville

My grief has been bubbling to the surface more, and I know it’s because I’m entering that stretch of time where I remember the days leading to George’s death. My wedding reception is October 19th and I still remember the drive back to Connecticut on October 17th. A Thursday. And how George couldn’t stay awake for the whole trip so I remember singing along to Duran Duran. The days are like crystal heading into those final weeks in November. The mind is interesting like that. I want these memories to vanish, but they are the most vivid. It’s like I close my eyes and I’m watching a movie of my life.

This year the anxiety is more powerful than last. Last year was the first anniversaries and I didn’t know what to expect. So I walked cautiously and tip toed around anything that could be a possible trigger. This year the streets are filled with land mines. Various words are like grenades and arbitrary memories are shrapnel piercing my will to move forward. I miss him like crazy. I miss the life we had and the life we were supposed to build. But I’m grateful I got to experience a love like his. Because without it I wouldn’t be so damn determined to push along. To hope the next hour or day will be better.

My 30th birthday is in 2 weeks and I decided to treat myself to a trip to Nashville. It will be my last weekend in my 20s and I am going out in fashion. Three things I love: fitness, history and halloween, and I know George will be with me throughout the weekend. My favorite holiday is halloween, I love fitness and will be running a half marathon, and my favorite era in history is the Jacksonian era and I will be in the city of my favorite president, Andrew Jackson. I can’t think of a better way to cap off my 20’s and head into my 30s. I love that man so much for all the love we share and how it still propels me forward to do great things and be the best version of myself. I want to make him proud and if he catches a glimpse of me, he can smile and say “yeah that’s my wife.”image

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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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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Un-Happy 4 months

Today would’ve marked 4 months married. I’m at a loss. I desperately want to wake up from this nightmare and be myself again and be happy. But my life as a knew it no longer exists. I need to figure out how to be me in this new setting and find happiness under these circumstances. Keep rolling that boulder up the hill… It’s going to be a long goddamn time.

George, you left this earth with so much love, and when it flipped inside out, it burrowed deep inside my soul and left a gaping wound where I can’t stanch the flow of blood. You were my life. You made me whole. Love you always.

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I don’t like other couples

This evening I headed out to a pub with some of my work colleagues to honor one of them on his new job. This one person is moving for a new position at another school and recently became engaged. I’m going to make a long story very short, a few other brought their significant others, and being surrounded by couples made my head spin. I loathed being around couples. I’ve been around couples before, and did all right, but for some reason this time felt like shards of glass puncturing my soul. I couldn’t look at them, I didn’t even want to acknowledge they were there. I wanted to scream, but instead crossed my legs, and fiddled with my wedding ring until it was time to go.

As I was leaving, I said good bye to my work colleague who’s moving. I noticed that for the majority of the night he was holding his fiancé’s hand. I wished him good luck on the move and said, it’s usually a sign of a great relationship when you continue to hold hands. I held my husband hand all the time and my grand parents, who were married for almost 70 years, said that holding hands connects the soul. I had to run out because I was about to start bawling. I miss holding George’s hand, and when it’s gone all you wish is to hold it for one more day. The comfort and protection that comes when your fingers are woven and interlocked with your loved one is undeniably special and intimate.

George and I did a few double dates, but we never really were too keen on it. There were a few couples we enjoyed going out with but for the most part we really enjoyed each others company. We would go to restaurants and sit next to each other so we could hold hands, stare lovingly at each other, and always share our meals. We called it splits. We would go out to dinner and he would say “Do you wanna splits?” and always I would grin and say yeah, what are you thinking? And usually he would say the dish that I was thinking about getting too. I’m starting to think a love like that is a once in a lifetime thing.

I had such a good day today. I knew tonight was going to be extremely difficult. When grief passes over me during the day, the night time grief is like a mugger; it’s harsh and unforgiving. This loneliness is unbearable. But in the word of John Green, “that’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.” I need other W’s to hang out with.Image

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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UPS package waiting

DSCN0994My eyes are starting to open wider and see the gloom that he is gone. He will not be physically returning to me. This week has been particularly difficult because each day I seem to fall further into grief. I’m crying more and harder when I’m alone. I still put the brave face on when I’m at work, but there’s those moments when a deep dark upchuck of grief happens and I have to close my door to hide in my misery. It’s become more of the same, and less and less coaches are tip toeing around it. It’s a lesson to many of them that this is grief in its finest form.

I met with my bereavement counselor today and that was a breath of fresh air. Although she says chamomile like camo-mile, but I can look pass her faults. She’s such a nice woman, and she always reminds me that, although it’s a terrible group to be a part of, I’m in an exclusive club of young widows under 30 years old. I’d like to refund my membership please.

Without revealing too much of what today’s session was about, she was comforting with all the feelings that are starting to bubble up are “normal.” Watching someone die of liver failure is traumatic and even more so when you just returned from your honeymoon the month before and all of a sudden your life changes. I told her I’m still blogging and she commended me on that, but also mentioned I should keep a gratitude journal as well. I think I’ll do that, but not on wordpress. I don’t think people need to read about my delicious salad bowl from chipotle that my assistant got me for lunch.

After I saw her, I went home and upon getting home I received notice that I had a package waiting for me. I went to get the package and immediately saw there was target tape on it. It is a wedding gift.

When I open the package, there were three smaller packages inside: a bamboo cutting board, flower urn, and shoe rack. The stitches that were loosely holding my heart together after meeting with my counselor ripped open, seam by seam. It was sent from one of George’s good friends, and I KNOW THE INTENTIONS ARE GOOD. But, all I can really respond with is- really?

Tomorrow I get the keys to my new apartment. It’s time.

Okay, time for a writing prompt:

Dear George,

What I want you to know about me is I was always honest and loyal to you. You had my heart from when I first saw you. I tried to hide it, but as you noticed I would always act differently around you then anyone else. When we started dating, I was inexperienced with love, and didn’t know what was happening, and when you first said “I love you,” I couldn’t believe it so instead I got angry. I loved you, but didn’t trust you. And it was because I wasn’t honest with myself. As I opened up to you- and fell madly in love- you brought the best out of me. Anything in the world, I could talk to you about it. If something was bothering me, I never was embarrassed to talk to you. Even when there was the mishap in New Mexico; you still lovingly gazed into my eyes and said, we’ll pretend it never happened. And through everything in our time together, my loyalty to you runs deep. Even now. And I’m not sure if you knew or felt that, but I want you to know. You protected me when we were together and I hope you’ll do the same now.

Ready or not

For the last few weeks I had been anticipating my trip to California and how my feelings would be on the other side of the country. It really consumed most of my thoughts and imagination when I played out situational scenarios or dialogue. I failed to look past it and what would happen when my derailed life kept on chugging along. Welp, it came head on today because one of my high school friends was getting married. I didn’t stop to think, gee how will you feel going to a wedding? What are some emotions that might arise from this? What could possibly go wrong?

Luckily today’s wedding was a catholic one and the ceremony was long and overwrought. I’ve never been to a catholic wedding and I hope I don’t get invited to anymore. So many hymns and prayers in between. Just not my cup of tea. The length and awkwardness of not knowing any catholic prayers took the edge off. However, when it was time for the reception, to a surprising turn of events I was placed at the spill over singles table. This is something I never anticipated nor would have imagined to play out.

I’m not even sure what to say. I managed because I did have a handful of friends at the table, but it wasn’t enjoyable. During the first dance and family toasts, I gazed around the room and there was so many glossy eyes and soft sniffles. And at that point I realized I’m a goddamn robot. I can’t feel normal emotions. I cannot connect with what is going on around me and nor process it. Instead I sit there like a sociopath thinking what’s the big deal? I’m sure it’s not the first marriage witnessed. I am callous and cannot celebrate in other peoples joy because my misery has become host to all other feelings. During the wedding I did force myself to dance which was short lived. Shaking my hips, throwing my arms around, rotating my head, it all had no feeling. So instead I sat down and watched. I watched thinking what would I be doing if George was my date. Would we be sitting and talking about the terrible techno rendition of Don’t Stop Believing or would we be taking pictures of ourselves enjoying the colorful lights as the music thumped along? As suspected when I begin to think about the if-George-was-here my grief avalanched in the of my stomach. I scurried to the bathroom to hide. Can’t be upset on my friends happiest day of his life. But ready or not, life must push along whether you’re on board or not.

I miss George more than anything. Moving on without him is indescribable. I just want to call him and tell him about my days and what I’ve learned rather than logging it before I go to bed. Someone commented in one of my previous posts that even though he’s not here, he can see and read what I’m doing/saying. I try to make him proud. I told him before he died that I’d be okay And he doesn’t have to worry. But I can’t help but think that if he’s watching me all he can see is a person breaking as easily as a porcelain doll.

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