So 6 months ago, my life became very lonely and uncertain. Arguably it still is. The uncertainty of what my emotions and reactions still increasingly concerns me. Hence crippling anxiety, although it’s been better in the recent days. Last night I started thinking back about the past several months and was reading another widows cries for how she hasn’t been able to get her life back on track since her husband died in 2012. Sigh… I think my life is on some kind of track, but reading her grievances has me concerned that the worst has yet to come.
I do think a large part of the grieving process is to occupy your mind. To keep busy, so the claws don’t drag you back into a hole to leave you mangled and gasping for air. Here’s some of the things I’ve been able to do through the cloud of grief over the last 6 months.
- Raised over $11,000 for Cycle for Survival to honor and ride for my beloved George
- Attended a wedding
- Travelled to California
- Coached in a lacrosse recruiting showcase
- Participated and attended the Super Bowl halftime show
- Taught Circuit Training
- Coached my lacrosse program to a 11-7 record
- Discovered and continue to do SoulCycle
- Lost over 5% body fat
- Started Dating
- Did 8 Polar Bear Swims
- Attended a Broadway Musical
- Attended a Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden
- Attended two Big East Baseball Games
- Watched one of my players be honored as NJ Female Athlete of the Year
- Attended events at the National Arts Club
- Moved to a new apartment
- Started playing tennis regularly
- Made new friends
These are just some of the thing I could think of right now. I know so much of it seems mundane, but grief is brutal. I’m in a good sense of mind right now, but by 2p I could be sitting in my office crying, that’s just the way it works. In December I would go into the office and just close my door, do work and cry. Now I’m outside playing basketball and tennis regularly with other coaches. I loved my old life. I wanted to spend a lifetime with George. But now I have a lifetime I HAVE TO LIVE without him. And I want to make sure that I’m actually living. I know that’s what he would want. He would want me to enjoy every day, even when I make bad decisions. Which does happen and I’ve omitted them off my list… Maybe they’re for another post.
I can’t believe it’s been 6 months. It really does feel like years ago was the last time I saw him.
Today, preparing for Cycle for Survival was very emotionally taxing. I kept thinking this is my time to finally honor George, but I couldn’t help but think this is my final goodbye to him. I’ve been pushing Cycle for Survival since a week after he died, and with the event finally here, what am I going to do? What else am I going to look forward to? It made me crazy this morning. I couldn’t stop crying because I didn’t want it to end, but I had been looking forward to it for so long. Luckily 2 of my close friends from home came out to breakfast with me and my worries floated away.
When I got my bike assignment at the Equinox gym, I didn’t really think that much about it until I started really looking at the number. The picture I decided to put up on the dedication board was from one of our first dates and at the time I was 23 years old. The bike I was assigned was #23. Weird right? I loved every minute of today. From when I first arrived at Equinox to when it was time to leave. Being surrounded by those who are affected by cancer and understand the hardships that come with either battling it, conquering it, or losing someone to it, was possibly the most empowering experience I’ve ever had. I met a woman who lost her daughter to cancer and when she asked what I was riding for, I told her. She looked me square in the eyes and said, “it’s so unfair.” And you know what? It IS unfair! She then continued to tell me that I remind her of her son-in-law because he became a widower at such a young age too. But because I was there honoring George, it gives George the “ability to keep fighting even though he’s not around.” And when she told me that, it was a perspective I’ve never heard before. But that’s what Cycle for Survival is all about. Getting different results by doing unorthodox approaches. I hope the money raised goes to further treatments on liver cancers.
I rode along side with my team, and they once again left me in awe. I had 2 pictures I wanted to post on the dedication board, but they came out with dozens! I was so happy I grabbed a pair of sunglasses because when I finally had time to start reading what they wrote, I did start crying. It was so moving and lovely. I feel so unlucky lots of times, but when I’m with my team I cannot help but think luck was on my side when these 21 girls came into my life. I love their support and enthusiasm and I couldn’t imagine where I would be without it. I love my lacrosse team and all the strength they provide me with.
When I walked out of the complex with Bodie, all the branches on the trees were hanging just a little lower and preserved perfectly in an icy coating. It was beautiful. It was quiet outside too. No motorist dared to venture out on the slick roads. But the tranquility allowed my mind to wander and reflect. Today was not a good day.
I watched a home video George and I made and in it he called me beautiful several times and hearing it brought so many emotions. I couldn’t handle hearing his sweet compliments because I feel so ugly and fragmented. When he would call me beautiful I would respond, “you’re the only one who thinks so.” George would quickly shoot back, “that’s what makes you wonderful. You’re so beautiful and you don’t even know it. I’m lucky to have you.” Hearing it on video is nice but makes me hate that I won’t have that from him ever again.
When I walked to the gym tonight, my neighbor was standing at the elevator. I hadn’t seen him in awhile. Probably before I got married. We had a little small talk of hey how’s it going? Still running? That’s great. Then finally he asked the dreaded question, with enthusiasm nonetheless, “how’s married life going?” I felt the tears ready to pour down my face like a waterfall so I glanced away from him and told him. George died. He felt terrible but I said it’s not like I advertise his death so how would he have known? And I just walked away.
When I got to the gym I ran a mile for warm up and as I was stretching I started crying. So I moved into the spin room and got on a bike and started pedaling. George loved riding bikes and he enjoyed spin classes too. It was something we could share and we would often times go on long bike rides when the weather was nice. But as I was remembering our time together, side-by-side, riding through Prospect Park I just let it out. I was pedaling hard and the tears flowed freely. When I looked up at myself in the mirror, my cheeks were rosy but my eyes were hollow black sockets. I looked how I felt. Empty.
Seeing that the last 6 weeks have been nothing short of a nightmare, I can only anticipate the beginning of this year will be a moderate reflection of those weeks. It’s become clear, after seeing candid pictures (see above) from yesterday’s alumni event, I look sad. Not a little sad, but really miserable. As if just waking up and reaching for a glass of water to only realize your right arm is missing. As this nightmare meanders forward, my New Years resolution is to find peace and learn to cope with what is now my new reality. To do so I need to take care of myself. I’ve been reading more, so far so good.
It is the first of the New Year and I’ve already cried about a half dozen times and it’s not even sundown yet. I am emotionally crippled and I no longer want to be. Yes, I’m depressed, but what am I doing to help myself? Nothing. I eat, cry, eat, do arbitrary mindless things, eat, write, cry, sleep. Then it’s more of the same the next day. I have let myself go, although many of my friends and family say I haven’t and that I just “look like I’ve gone through a lot.” That’s so vague. I feel unhealthy in every aspect of the word.
I’ve decided I want to take hold of my grief and turn it into something. I will make lists of what I want to accomplish in the day. Demands of myself because I should expect more. I am a strong woman and I need to break the binds that are holding me back from me being me. Basically I intend to break myself emotionally. There’s this dark cloud that hovers over me wherever I go and it’s about time it breaks apart and let some light come through.
Here are some lifestyle goals:
- For almost 2 years I was vegan and I felt the best when I was. When George and I found out he was dying we both jumped off. I intend on returning to a more plant based diet. Not as strict but I can no longer allow fear and death into my body until I no longer suffer from fear and death.
- I was a division 1 athlete and have been good about my workout regiments in the past. Not allowing myself to gain too much weight. Well I need to return to a workout regiment. Again, I stopped working out the day I found out George was dying and that was almost 4 months ago and on one hand I can count how many times I’ve worked out. I will do a minimum of 3 workouts per week to get myself back on track. I will edit this as seen fit.
- One positive from all this is I have been reading more. I will continue to read and write more. It’s a good mental boost and I like losing myself in it.
- I will go out with friends once a week. I’ve been known to be a recluse but I need to be a better friend. Friends are a pain killer.
Today I will plug away at what I’ve set up for myself as lifestyle goals. I plan in doing 100 push ups and 500 sit ups and doing Hip Hop Abs before the day is over.
Update: I accomplished my short term goals. I did the push ups and sit ups. I didn’t do hip hop abs. Instead I did yoga and at the end I started crying. It was a great release.
Today marks two weeks since my husband passed away. On this day, I vowed to myself that I would accomplish two things I’ve been meaning to do: make soup and work out. Although these things seem so mundane and could be done quickly, to be honest most days I want to just sit around. I don’t want to do anything ever. I make myself go out and do things to keep my mind active. The silence allows for a feral mind and leaves me in agony.
After I completed my daily tasks, I ended up going to work this evening. I really just went in to meet up with friends, and to watch the men’s basketball team play. During the men’s basketball game I picked my phone up and realized I was doing so to text George. My mind floated into autopilot and that was something I tended to do during my schools sporting events. When I caught myself I felt so overcome with embarrassment I didn’t know what to do. The gym was boisterous and crowded, and the student section was pretty rambunctious with chants and heckles, but I felt so alone. Just lost in a room of nonsense. I’ve never felt so lonely in a crowded place. After the game when I was heading back into my car, I did it again, I went to call George. It’s such a routine that if I was leaving school late, call George and let him know I’m finally on my way home. I loved talking to him on the phone when it was a late night because he always made the time go by quickly. He would tell me stories about Bodie, or what happened at work, and I would finally be on the ramp to our apartment. He just knew how to add flare to my mind numbing commute. When my finger hovered over his name in my phone, I quickly found my parents instead to talk to.
These have been the longest two weeks of my life. Time has slowed down tremendously and I wish I could fall asleep and wake up and all the pain and hurt has dissipated. I’m scared of what’s to come and I know that if George knew how sad I was he would be upset that he made me feel this way. The comfort he provided me is something I cherished, and I miss his voice so much. When I look at the New York City skyline, I can’t help but think about the lyrics “I’m three days from New York City and I’m three days from you.” The best part of NYC was George.