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Thursday, December 30, 2010


I think the bears on are to something. I want to hibernate. I am over-stimulated, over-saturated, just plain over it. Too many people are vying for my time and attention. I know they have good intentions and mostly want to see the girls, not necessarily me- but I’m feeling overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all the obligations. So many friends and family want to get together to do something over the holidays, and all I want to do is stay inside and not speak to anyone. The more people are trying to reach me and connect with me these days the more I want to pull away. Like a turtle retreating into its shell for protection. Like a bear hibernating in the cave until better times come along. I just want to ignore everyone.

Many other widows and most other people are happy about the new year. They are excited to get a "fresh start". To start anew. I feel exactly the opposite. I do not want a new year to come, I do not want a fresh start, I just want my old life back. And the reoccurring theme in my life of time moving too fast is staring me in the face with the countdown to a new year. Once the clock strikes midnight, a whole year is over and a new one is there to face. It’s daunting. It’s depressing.
I don’t want to ring in the new year with celebration- it is gut wrenching for me to think that this year, this last year that my husband was alive, this last year that my girls were held by their father, this last year that everything I’ve worked for and lived for, will be over. I don’t want it all to be over. I don’t want to let go of it. I don’t want it all to be so final. But, that’s what death is- finality at its finest.
From here forward years will be remembered and marked as “after Andie was gone”…no longer the years “we” did this or that, but now the years “I” will do it all without him. No more “remember when” that includes his name, for now the new memories made will not include him. So this new year is not a reason for me to celebrate or to look forward to ...It' s merely one more hurdle in this long race.

So if I don’t return your calls, or make plans to see you, or email you back….please forgive me, I’m hibernating.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The art of distraction...

If distraction were an art I’d be right up there with Picasso, Monet, and Rembrandt. I’m really good at distracting myself and staying so busy that I don’t have time to focus on the grief. I’ve figured out that I tend to stay connected to the blogs and hang on every word that other widows say as they are the only ones who truly understand me, and I them. They have become the greatest source of comfort for me. Almost the only source of comfort. I feel bombarded by all the distractions in my "real" life, and when I'm on the blogs I can connect in a different way. I stay so busy with the day to day tasks of life that the only time I really allow myself to think about the grief is when I’m alone in the car, or when I’m on the blogs.

We traveled out of town for the holidays and I purposely didn’t take my computer so I wouldn’t have ready access to the blog, or facebook, or email. I considered taking my journal but ultimately decided to leave it at home too. I felt like my mind needed a break from writing and processing. I wanted to just exist for the holidays. I wrapped myself up in a bubble and screened phone calls and didn’t return messages. I just didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything. I wanted to disconnect from the world. I just wanted to be. To be with my girls, to be away from my life for a moment, and all that connects me to it. Ironically, I wanted distraction…though in a different way than I am accustomed to.

For the first time in months I truly enjoyed myself. We had a wonderful vacation and I think getting fresh air and a change of scenery, and cutting off all communication with my “real” life helped tremendously. A weight was lifted and I lived. I felt joy. I ate good food, I cherished simple things like sunsets on the ocean and the sound of the surf, and my kids’ laughter. I was in the moment and connected with my girls like I haven’t been able to be for months. We stayed so busy sightseeing and doing activities that I stayed distracted, but in a good way.

The weather was glorious on the 23rd and the 24th so we visited the beach and got some great pictures. The cold front rolled in on Christmas Eve and at about dusk the sky turned a dull gray and the water reflected it’s color; the point on the horizon where the ocean meets the sky became indistinguishable. For just a moment it seemed that heaven met the earth and I wondered if God was bringing the angels down to meet us. On Christmas night I ventured out to get some milk for the girls and pick up a pizza for us adults. Alone in my car driving along the seawall was almost surreal. I was one of only a few cars on the road. There was a definite sense of calm. A serenity that I crave. The night was pitch black and the moon was covered with clouds so there was no reflection of it glinting off the ocean. Except for some barges and ships way out on the horizon whose lights twinkled, it was just a vast chasm of black. The water and the sky so dark, that again you couldn’t distinguish where one stopped and the other began. I guess that’s all this life really is…points along a spectrum with no definitive beginning or ending for our souls, despite the fact that our bodies have a definitive start and end point. Our souls just move in and out of this realm and into another, as seamlessly as the ocean meets the sky. And I wondered on this dark night, where was Andie’s soul? Was he beside me in the car taking it all in with me, was he back at the house watching over the girls, or was he somewhere out of our reach completely?

The 26th was Andie’s 35th birthday and I wanted to celebrate his life that day but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I could hardly acknowledge it, past singing him Happy Birthday with the girls the minute that we all woke up that morning. After that it was a return to the hustle and bustle of packing to go home, and then making the road trip back, unpacking when we got home, then dinner/bath/bedtime routine. And there it was again, distraction.

Sweet distraction seeping back in and working it’s magic…

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Have yourself a merry little Christmas...

Well, I'm officially out of my funk. No, really I am, honest.
I am a pretty optimistic person in general, so it doesn't take me long to start seeing the good side of things. I can't ever hold a grudge, and I can't ever stay in a bad mood for long. Though I did buy a bottle of wine yesterday called "The Pessimist" to drink the next time I'm feeling a little blue! The background text on the label says "half empty" and the description on the back says it is "exactly the kind of wine for selfish consumption". I thought it was cute. I buy wine solely for the name or label...not quite a connoisseur I'll admit, but it's fun that way. Anyway, I divagate... A friend of mine at work and I are always on the hunt for new words. I recently learned that divagate means to digress or ramble on and wanted to be able to use it in a sentence. Ha! I just double digressed...okay, moving on.

Yesterday I went Christmas shopping and really got into the spirit. I was almost giddy buying gifts for the girls and imagining how they're gonna react when they get to see all their new stuff that Santa brought. In the evening I went to dinner with my extended family and it was really good to see them all and be a part of conversation that didn't revolve around death/dying/grief/widowhood/et. al. and how I was doing/feeling/handling it all. It was great to focus on them and all the neat things going on their lives. I only felt a little melancholy and bittersweet for half a second when my grandfather asked my brother what the score was in the Spurs game, and I thought about how Andie had an app on his phone that kept up with scores in real time and he would've had the answer for my grandfather in about half a second.

Me and the girls had a great day today. We played with a cowboy hat and I got some cute pictures that I've added to the blog. I'm getting excited about going out of town for the holidays. Traveling with the twins is always stressful because there is so much to pack, and so much planning goes into keeping them semi on schedule with meals and naps. But, I'm really happy to be leaving town and getting a change of scenery. We are going to stay in my aunt's house in Galveston. We're going to Moody Gardens to see the aquarium and the Festival of Lights. We might even hit the beach if the weather permits, and the girls can see the sand and ocean for the first time. I think the girls are really going to enjoy it, which means that I will by proxy.

Anywhoo, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here... and I need to finish wrapping.

Happy Holidays Y'all! And don't forget to have a merry little Christmas in your own special way...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frayed nerves...

Wow! Single parenting sucks! The girls are in a new phase where almost anything and everything can induce a tantrum…an all out, on the floor, kicking and screaming, tantrum. Furthermore, they outnumber me!

Here’s a list of things that have led to a tantrum in the past few days:
Changing a diaper
Sister has a toy I want or is in my general vicinity
I’m hungry and mom can’t get food in front of me in the next 30 seconds
A stranger looked at me and waved (No lie, this happened twice in the past week at two different restaurants)
Mom left the room
Mom is on the phone and not giving me her undivided attention
I want Mom to hold me…I don’t want Mom to hold me
I don’t want to eat what Mom gave me so I will spit it out, throw it on the floor, or better yet rub it in my hair- especially if I just had a bath.

They are so fast and curious; in the time it takes me to change one’s diaper the other is into something they shouldn’t be into (xmas presents, Kleenex box, all the dvd’s in the cabinet, the toilet, you name it.)

Even laundry is no simple feat. This morning this is how doing laundry went in our house. I go to my room and gather my dirty laundry. I leave the room with hands full, not able to shut the door behind me, and as I’m leaving my bedroom they are crawling in. My bedroom and bathroom are forbidden territory and they know it- when they see an opportunity to cross enemy lines they seize it. I take the clothes to the laundry room and drop it off and go back to get them. In the time it takes me to walk back from the laundry room, one is in my make-up drawer and the other is standing at the tub and has turned the water on. I get them both out of the bathroom and shut my bedroom door behind me. I go back to the laundry room to load the washer. I hear screaming while I’m in there but figure they can fend for themselves for 15 more seconds. I come out and find Addie is eating something out of the fireplace. While I am washing ashes out of her mouth, Allie comes to the kitchen and unloads the entire Tupperware cabinet. After I hastily pick up the Tupperware and throw it haphazardly into the cabinet (gone are the days of the organized cabinet where all pieces have their matching lids) I find Addie tearing up a magazine in the living room. When I take it away she screams, throws herself on the floor, and repeatedly hits my foot- as it happens to be the closest thing to her. Allie crawls around the corner and sees Addie crying so she starts too. Afterall, the only thing better than one upset child is two. And in this house it is “monkey see, monkey do”. Whew- I’m exhausted and it’s only 9:30 a.m.!

The only thing they both enjoy no matter what is the bath, and if I could get away with leaving them in the bathtub for 4 hours at a time, I just might. Better yet, maybe I should stay in the bath for 4 hours...

They are draining me in a way they have never drained me before. By the end of the day I have picked them up, put them down, crouched down to clean something up, and picked up toys so many times that my back and neck are achy and sore. Added to the stress and exhaustion of grieving it is all too much. It makes me lose my patience and I react in ways that I never would under different circumstances; yelling and spanking over things that don’t deserve such reactions. Then I feel like a horrible parent and my guilt weighs me down even further. It is a vicious cycle. I feel terribly guilty about the little amount of time I get to spend with them (3 hours at most on days I have to work) and I just want to be with them, but then they are so taxing that when I’m with them I just want to be away from them. I am on edge with them, with myself, with everyone.

My emotions are raw, like live wires and if you come too close you might get shocked.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Settling in...

I visited his grave today as I do on the 18th of every month. It is still mostly just a patch of dirt, tendrils of grass slowly making their way in and blurring the edges, but mostly just still dirt. It looks so fresh and is a visual reminder in the here and now that all of this is still so fresh. I sat and watched my tears roll down my nose and land in the dirt. Someone has placed new flowers and a big red bow on his grave. I realized with a sense of irony that the new big red bow is mocking me like it is a present…”open me” it says. Certainly the only present I could ever want is for this to not be my life. For half a second I think about clawing through the earth with my bare hands to get to him. To unwrap my present.

After I left the grave I went to the lake house to water the tree that we planted in his honor. As I sat on the deck overlooking the lake I was aware of the stark contrast between the beautiful, crisp, clear day with the sun warming my shoulders, and the darkness brooding within in me. I sat there listening to the breeze rustling through the trees and the waves lapping against the dock. I begin to cry again. This is exactly the kind of day he loved. If he were here with me now he would be on the lower dock with a fishing pole. I close my eyes and I can see him there- he’d be in his cargo shorts and a sweatshirt. Very likely it would be the exact UT sweatshirt I pulled from his closet and put on today. He’d have his sunglasses and a hat on. I can see him turning around and giving me that wide grin- the very one I see every day in Addison. He’d throw up the universal sign language gesture for “I love you” and I’d smile and do it back. I open my eyes hoping that when I do I will actually see him there, even if it is just an apparition. But I do not. So I cry some more.

Today is monumental- it is 6 months today that he has been gone. The full weight of the pain is palpable. I literally feel it in my chest. Today if feels more real than it ever has- the pain is deeper and stronger. I have been very distracted the past few weeks. I can’t concentrate or focus, especially in conversation. It’s the ol’ Charlie Brown, ‘wah, wah, wah”…then I have to ask people to repeat things or pretend like I know what they’re talking about. I am apathetic, not caring about most things. I want to escape it all. If I’m asked one more time if I’m okay I just might book the next flight to a foreign country and not come back. Of course I’m not okay, I just don’t want to talk about it cause I spend every waking moment thinking about it. The impending holidays and his birthday (the 26th) are ever present in my mind- like vultures circling overhead waiting to poach as soon as I show weakness. I’m giving you all fair warning that thus far it has been the calm before the storm.

I am losing my grip.
I am slipping.
The darkness is settling in…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I win.

People often say that there is a reason for everything. Many times over the years I’ve wondered the reason for having to lose my father when I was so young. Perhaps the reason I had to lose him was to prepare me for this loss. To guide me through this grief. To allow me to see hope and fulfillment in my future so I may continue to go on living now. If losing Andie had been my first experience with tragic loss I would not be coping and functioning very well, and that would prevent me from being a good parent. Because I’ve walked this walk before, I have some coping skills to draw on and I am able to continue functioning for my girls.

Losing Dad was actually a gift in a way, which even as I type it sounds INSANE. But living through that, and working through that has helped me cope with this loss of Andie. Because I have experienced sudden, tragic death before, and come out on the other side still alive and able to find joy, it gives me hope for my future now. I know that I will not only survive the loss of Andie, but also thrive and find fulfillment again. Just in a different way than I expected.

I’m different in that regard from other widows who have not experienced loss prior to losing their husbands. Their outlooks are so bleak and they have a hard time believing that it will ever get better. I completely understand where they are coming from because that is how I felt after losing my father. But I don’t feel this way about losing Andie because losing my father has taught me many lessons. I have learned how to deal with grief, how to process it, how to accept that while the pain seems unbearable now there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t deal well with my father’s death; initially I tried to deny it, detach from it, compartmentalize it. It wasn’t until 5 years after he died that I finally started to deal with it and got some really good therapy.

I won’t make all the same mistakes this go round as I did with my first bout of grief. I still struggle with the tendency to compartmentalize and detach, but I’m at least aware of these tendencies and can work to combat them. I still want to move through it very quickly and not give the process the time it deserves- so I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and let it be.

But I’m wiser to the process and know what to expect this time. I know that some days will be good and others will be awful. I know that just when I think I’m getting my feet on the ground, grief will throw me a curve ball and knock me back down. The difference is that now I know that I can get up.
I can still win the game.
Grief can’t defeat me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Becoming an angel...

Excerpts from “Angel” - by Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There's always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there

I have to work really hard to picture Andie as he was alive. To capture the essence of him in a memory that is not overshadowed by my memory of his last moments on this earth. I guess these are snippets of PTSD manifesting themselves; such a horrific flashback to have to relive even for just moments. They hit me at random times. I was struck by this image of him while driving to work this morning, with no idea of what triggered it.

To combat these awful last memories I have to literally push them out of my awareness. I have to conjure specific happy times like how he looked when he walked in the door from work, a smile because he was happy to be home. The boyish grin he had as he laid next to me in bed each night and said he loved me. The embarrassed smile he had when we were driving in the car and he had just danced and acted silly for my benefit. These are the ways I want to remember him. I want to erase the night he died from my memory all together.

I have been wondering lately about the exact moment that his soul left his body; maybe that’s why the night he died is at the forefront of my thinking. Exactly when did he become an angel? Wondering if it really happens like it does in the movies where the soul leaves and can look back and see what is still happening here. I know he was gone long before the actual time of death, before that minute printed on the death certificate. I could sense that. But when was the actual crossover? I pray it was not while he was in the back of the ambulance and I was not allowed to be with him…I want to have been there holding his hand when that exact moment occurred. There was a moment before the ambulance arrived when my cousins were doing CPR and I had been holding Andie’s hand. I let go for a short second and his hand twitched, as though he was reaching for me. Perhaps that was the moment, his last attempt at connection before he knew we would have no more connection in this physical world.

The question rolls around in my mind and haunts me…exactly when do you become an angel?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


My thoughts are like a kaleidoscope. Constantly swirling in my head, one thought seemingly unrelated to the next, yet interwoven and connected, as it is born out of the thought immediately preceding it. What seems like a random assortment of thoughts is really an intricate dance amongst them. One leading, and the next following. With just a subtle shift the thought pattern morphs into something new right before my eyes. The beginning of the word- “kaleid”- sounds like collide. That is my thoughts; colliding with one another and merging together to form something new. Like atoms that collide, bind, and then become a new molecule. My mind is in constant motion these days and often I can’t make sense of it. Ending up in a place in my mind and having no idea how I got there. Here’s a glimpse into my kaleidoscope…

I stood in the shower today as I let the too hot water beat on my back and inhaled the steam. I thought, Andie wouldn’t have liked the water this hot. I remind myself he is dead. Then I think how did this happen to me, how am I alone in this, how is he not here? My thoughts jumped to a girl I know who got married not long ago, and how in all likelihood she would still have a husband 6 years and 8 months from now. Why did I not get the privilege of getting past that point? I’m reminded of my wedding day, my joy, my enthusiasm for the future. Had you told me then what would happen, would I have continued down the aisle? I think not. I know not. This pain would have been too scary. I wouldn’t have willingly walked this path; I would not have been strong enough to take this burden on. That’s all people tell me these days; how strong I am. I am because I have to be, not because I choose to be. Had I had the choice I would’ve been a coward, would have not moved forward down this path. Would’ve chosen the easier, less painful, path. I would’ve broken up with Andie had I known that I would lose him. We would’ve married different people and some other young girl would be a widow right now, not me. Then I think that I would not have had my children; other children maybe, some other man’s children, but not my children. My unique children that only Andie and I could’ve created together. And I would not give that up for anything now, but had you asked me before it all happened, I would have said other children would be just fine, I would've willingly accepted that fate. Because I would not have known the difference then. That 23 year old girl would not have known that the pain would be outweighed by the gifts. Would not have known the joy and fulfillment that Andie and these babies would bring.

So this experience and all this pain was really worth it in the end- for without it, I would not have my beautiful children, would not have known true love from an amazing man. Then I think, this is why we don’t know our futures… it would paralyze us. We would always be making decisions based on what we saw in the crystal ball and changing the course of the future, never knowing what we were really destined for because we messed with destiny. This is why, perhaps I should not consult a psychic or medium to help me get in touch with Andie. What if they know something about my future that would irrevocably change it, if I too knew what the future held.

I’m awakened from this marathon of thoughts by the sound of one of the girls babbling as she awakes from her nap. Her happy squeals over the sound of the running water in the shower. I turn it off, wondering how long I’ve stood there lost in thought…and where did this all start in my mind?

This kaleidoscope of thought is my existence. I can’t seem to even make sense of things enough to write about them lately. I can’t stay focused on a topic. Just lots of thoughts swirling around, constantly shifting and morphing, into something new...
just like a kaleidoscope.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Grief Inhabited...

This grief inhabits my soul.
It is a place.
It is a feeling.
It is a state of mind.
It is a virus invading, mutating, and taking over it's host.
It controls.
It dominates.
Then it acquiesces.
It grows, changes, and evolves.
It becomes me.
It envelops and surrounds me.
It pushes.
It pulls.
Then it dissipates.
It is a belief.
It is a conviction.
It is a process, a riddle, a puzzle that cannot be solved.
It is me.

This lives in me.
And I in it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I love you...

Excerpts from “I Love You” - by Sarah McLachlan

and I forgot
to tell you
I love you
and the night's
too long
and cold here
without you
I grieve in my condition
for I cannot find the words to say I need you so

The night Andie died, I didn’t tell him I loved him before we went to bed. We said that to each other every night. I’m not sure why we didn’t that night; perhaps because we were on vacation and out of our routine, nevertheless, I didn’t say it. And he didn’t say it to me either.

Then when the chaos started and I knew the situation was serious, I kept telling him that I needed him. That the girls needed him. That he had to stay alive because I could not do this without him. But I still did not say that I loved him.

It’s strange how in the middle of chaos and trauma you can have moments of clarity- a stillness within when thoughts seem to flow calmly and rationally, and the world around you fades away. I remember a moment like this when I had an almost subconscious fleeting thought that if I acknowledged that this might be the last time I said I loved him, then that would make it true. So I didn’t say it. It was like I was afraid to jinx myself. That if I actually uttered the words, “I love you, don’t leave me” then I was accepting my fate. That if I said it, then that meant that I believed the very thing I could not make myself believe.

I even had a brief thought about the next day, when I thought it was all going to be okay and he was stable, how I was going to tell him how much he scared me. Admonish him not to ever do that to me again. I was going to tell him that I had been afraid he was going to die. I was going to tell him then how much I loved him.

I was going to tell him then…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tick. Tock.

Excerpts from Time, by Sarah McLachlan

Time here,
all but means nothing, just shadows that move across the wall
They keep me company, but they don't ask of me
they don't say nothing at all.
And I need just a little more silence
And I need just a little more time

Time is a funny thing for us grievers. Things that happened right after Andie died seem like years ago to me, that is, if I even remember them at all. Just yesterday my brother-in-law reminded me that Andie’s whole family had gone to Oklahoma not long after he died to see the extended family. Until my brother-in-law brought it up yesterday, I had completely forgotten that it occurred. And then when I thought about it, I could’ve sworn they took that trip over a year ago- long before Andie died. And yet, it seems like just a few months ago that I was giving birth to twins and we were learning about diapers, bottles, and sleep schedules.

There is a time warp around grief that is truly disorienting. I think to the griever, life literally stops and then when we “wake up” for a moment or two we see that the world has continued to move on and we have to suddenly catch up. So we end up jumping through time. It reminds me of the book I read in middle school called “A Wrinkle in Time” and the ant on a string illustration below. It will take the ant much longer to walk "through time" than if you just put a wrinkle in it and he gets to skip ahead...

Most people’s timelines are flat and continuous, and move at a relatively steady pace. But to a griever, there are many wrinkles in our timeline. Times we seem to skip over and move through events at warp speed; so quickly they don’t even register in the psyche and leave a trace of memory. Then the timeline smooths out again and we’re back to crawling through time where every second seems like it is in the forefront of consciousness.

We widows measure everything by milestones- there are a lot of firsts. The first day, week, month, and year. The first holiday, birthday, anniversary, kid’s birthday, our own birthday. The first time to visit that special place, first time we cook his favorite meal, go to his favorite restaurant, hear a special song. The first time we wash the sheets and lose his scent, or the first time we take off the wedding ring. The first time we check the “widowed” box on some form, the first time we have to figure out a new emergency contact on paperwork, the first time we have to answer the “what does your husband do?” question while making small talk. The first Christmas card pictures without him in it. The first time we don’t buy his favorite snacks at the store because he’s not home to eat them. The first time we make a major life decision on our own without his input, the first time we have to explain it all to our children. The list goes on and on endlessly.

So far I’ve made it through my own 30th birthday, my kids’ 1st birthday, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving…but I hardly remember any of them. They’re all a blur. Seriously, how did I manage to get invitations made and plan a birthday party for the twins a mere 6 weeks after he died?

I’m coming up on the 6 month anniversary which seems monumental to me. Half a year without him. There is simply NO WAY that he’s been gone that long. More like 6 weeks in my warped existence. I get anxious when I think how much time has already passed because it’s going too quickly. Time keeps moving and I don’t want it to- and it’s taking my girls with it. They are growing and changing too much, too soon, and I feel like I can’t savor it. I can’t appreciate it because I’m not really here experiencing it all. I’m just going through the motions- I’m merely existing and not really living. I try often to be present and engaged, especially with them, but most of the time I’m emotionally drained and simply don’t have the energy. I. Just. Need. More. Time.

But alas, time marches on…

Monday, December 6, 2010


The other day I was talking with a friend who is going through a rough time in her marriage. She was saying that she felt like there were only a few good months in all the years she’s been married and the rest were wrought with turmoil. Now, I’m sure she is exaggerating a bit since the negatives always seem to outshine the positives when we are upset about something.

But, being the very analytical person I am (I almost got a perfect score on the analytical section of the GRE, nevermind that I barely passed the math and verbal portions), it got me thinking about my own marriage and the ratio of good to bad.

Then I started doing calculations in my head. (Yes, sometimes I am obsessive) Adding up the number of months that I could remember that were especially tough and trying, and comparing them to the really good times. I’ll spare you the sordid details of my multiple equations, percents, fractions, and variables all worked out on a piece of scratch paper. It turns out that my marriage was roughly 80% great and 20% not so great. I would’ve thought that we were closer to about 90% great. It doesn’t really matter what the number is, the point is that our good far outweighed our bad. I don’t know if we were just lucky, or worked harder than others at maintaining a commitment, or were just better suited for each other and extra compatible, or all of the above. Probably a mixture of all of the above, but that’s a whole other equation we won’t get into.

We decided early in our marriage that the unit was top priority; never ourselves, or our future children above the marriage. The sum was to be greater than the parts, so to speak. I think that served us well. Not that we didn’t have times of being selfish, or petulant temper tantrums of “But, I want…”, or focusing on the kids more than us, but the idea of the marriage first always brought us back to reprioritizing in our favor when things got kinda squirrely. Marriage is a delicate balance of sacrificing yourself for the good of the whole, but not losing yourself in the process. There is a lot of compromise, picking your battles, and just letting go. And of course a lot of hope that the scale is tipped in your favor and the good outweighs the bad.

So, today I’m feeling thankful that he stuck by my side. Always put me first. Never let me step down from the pedestal he put me on from day one. And that I did all the same for him.

And in the end, the scale was tipped in our favor and we had it pretty good.
We had it pretty good...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Memory lane...

Yesterday I took a trip down memory lane...literally.

Andie's best friend, Eric, just had a new baby. So I went to see the family yesterday evening and took them dinner. The only problem is that they live on a street off of Lime Kiln Rd.

Lime Kiln Rd. is my own personal memory lane. Lime Kiln Rd. is the street that Andie and Eric lived on when I first met Andie. They rented this tiny little house out in the sticks, way down this winding country road called Lime Kiln Rd. You had to cross a cattle guard and drive down a dirt drive to get to the house. Last night I drove that road again for only the second time since Andie's been gone. (The first time I drove it I was still in such shock that none of the emotional association registered at the time.) I've driven that road a thousand times but last night was perceptibly different. Each twist and turn bringing back vivid memories.

That house on Lime Kiln Rd. is where I first met Andie, initially decided I didn't like him much, and then subsequently fell completely in love with him. It's where he would pursue me for almost two years before I would finally give him a chance.
That house on Lime Kiln Rd. is where he became my best friend. Where we would sit on the tailgate of his truck late into the night talking, and watching shooting stars across the Texas sky. That house on Lime Kiln Rd. is where I met his brother Roger for the first time, and he cornered me in the kitchen and implored me to please give his brother a chance because he knew Andie would treat me right and love me forever.
That house on Lime Kiln Rd. was home to many frat parties and bonfires and me being jealous that Andie was flirting with sorority girls and not me.
That house on Lime Kiln Rd. is where I would watch movies with Andie in the dead of winter when they didn't have heat. I hate the cold more than anything, but I wanted to be near him so badly that I would wear my coat and cover up with a sleeping bag, eventually falling asleep with my head on his shoulder.
That house on Lime Kiln Rd. is where he would rub my back until I fell asleep. He wouldn't stop until I was asleep, and sometimes I would pretend that I was already asleep just so he would stop and get some sleep himself.
That house on Lime Kiln Rd. is where I went when I was falling apart during the lawsuit over my father's death. He took me to his room away from everyone, shut the door, and just held me while I cried.
It's where I hoped and prayed that he would kiss me for the first time, proving to me what everyone already said- that he was in fact, in love with me.

Lime Kiln Rd. is where we started. Where we fell in love. Where we reminisced about when we thought of the "good ol days".

Lime Kiln Rd. is where my journey to him began. It's my own personal memory lane.
And it's just not the same anymore.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

If I could...

If I could there is so much I would do, and change, and fix for my daughters. Their world has unfairly been turned upside down and what life they would’ve known is no longer an option. I often wonder about how this is going to irrevocably change who they are. Certainly growing up and having a good, strong, father figure would’ve had a profoundly different outcome for them than growing up without ever even remembering their father. Everytime I see their angelic faces and think of their innocence lost through all of this I am deeply saddened. I dread the day they start asking questions and I have no good explanations.

As a parent my job is to protect them, provide for them, afford them all the best opportunities I can, and sometimes I feel powerless in all of this. I can't protect them from the pain of loss. I can't provide the experiences they would've had if they had two parents. I can't afford them all the same opportunities they are entitled to, as I am now a single parent. I am reminded of a song written by my uncle, Paul Hill.

"If I Could" by Paul Hill (check out for more great children's music)

If I could
I would write a song for you
A very special song for you
A song to lift you up when all your dreams have left you empty handed

If I could
I would be a friend to you
A very special friend to you
A friend that you could call whenever you just need someone to talk to

And if I could
I would stop the pain from ever getting through
I would keep this world from ever hurting you
If I could

If I could
I would give a smile to you
Yes, I would give a smile to you
A smile for anytime that things are not what they’re supposed to be

I know you’ve given more than one to me

At least once every few days, for just a millisecond, the thought passes through my head, "Andie is going to be so surprised to see how much they've changed when he gets home." It's like I think he's just been on a really long trip and will walk in the door any minute. My heart breaks for him and for the girls everytime I am reminded that they have lost each other. Cause the bottom line is, he lost out too. He was cheated in all of this too.

My daughters are my joy, my hope, my inspiration, my amusement, my whole life. They give so much more to me than I could ever give to them.

Oh girls, how things would be different for you if only,
I could…

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sustenance to last forever...

The other day (11/29/10) was the 15th anniversary of my father’s death. I turned 30 this year, making it exactly half my life that he’s been gone. Now that a few days have passed I realize that I’m on the downhill slide of it. Each new day that passes makes it longer that I have been without my father than I had with him.

I think about this with Andie, how in 10 years I will have been without him for as long as I had with him. And each new day after that will be longer without him than I had with him. The only saving grace in this is that what time I did have was beautiful, and meaningful, and awesome. What he gave me was fulfilling, and sustaining, and love at it’s finest. His love was sustenance for my soul.

And I wonder, can all the greatness that we had in a decade sustain me for the next 4 or so decades that I will have to live without him?

All I can do is hope...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top Widowhood Blog Award Winner!

I have been honored to receive one of the Top Widowhood Blog Awards by!

As stated on their site:

"The loss of a spouse is devastating; it can take months, even years to recover from such a crisis. Grief counseling is critical in coping and dealing with the death of a spouse. If you have suffered through the death of your husband or wife, these award winning blogs can help you in finding counseling, meeting others in your situation and provide the knowledge that you are not alone. These blogs are also very important reading if you are considering a career in the psychological field; they will provide insight into the important work of grief counselors.

Please join me in congratulating our Top Widowhood Blog award winners presented by Psychology Degree!"

So if you are interested in other award winning blogs, click the button on the right side of my screen to see the complete list. Happy reading!