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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Numb...

I've been so numb and devoid of feeling lately. I walk around in an emotional haze- not really feeling the full effects of what has happened to me. I don't want to feel it. I don't want to accept it. I'm in a constant state of disbelief. Empty.


Tonight that all came crashing down. A neighbor dropped by and asked if I had any Christmas lights that needed to be hung. He was more than willing to do it for me if I needed- It was really no big deal, he explained. I knew it was a genuine, caring offer and the sweetness of this gesture sent me into a tailspin. It's a pain to hang lights; the very reason we never had them was because Andie refused to do it.


After the neighbor left it hit me: it's so real to everyone else that I don't have a husband.
It's just not real to me.
The rest of the world has accepted my fate.
I have not.


I can't make it seem real to myself except in small doses when I'm reminded like this, and when it does hit me it is overpowering. The pain is so deep that there aren't words to describe it. I guess this is why it's so hard to accept offers of help. Honestly, the offers wouldn't be there if I wasn't a widow. So, the second that I accept the offer it forces me to acknowledge what that person already knows- My husband is gone and he's not coming back. Ever.


Moments like this awaken me from my emotional catatonia. It jars my pain from the slumber it has been in. The Pandora's box of feelings that I keep so tightly locked is opened, and the emotions come pouring out in full force. The protective cocoon I've woven that doesn't let the strong emotions in is cracked, and the real despair seeps in and invades my soul.


And ever so gently it seeps back out and I go numb again...

Ahem, ahem...here comes the soapbox

I’m in my angry phase again. I feel like there is no good or valid reason that Andie had to die. It could have been prevented a thousand ways.

Allow me to step onto my soapbox for a moment. Heart disease is one of the number one causes of death in America; it is largely because of our terrible diets and lack of exercise. After talking with the coroner about his death I learned that what killed him was a combination of genetic factors (predisposition for high cholesterol and heart disease) combined with a poor diet and lifestyle factors that only contributed to more high cholesterol and heart disease. His official cause of death was not even a heart attack. It was severe blockage of his coronary arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis) that led to his heart not being able to get blood and oxygen as needed. Basically, the coronary artery became blocked over time due to cholesterol and eventually it closed up completely- and he died. Because he ate like crap for most of his life! At only 34!

My concern is that people don’t take their health, diets, and exercise seriously enough. Especially when we’re young and think stuff like this only happens to older people. It only takes small changes to make a big impact. One small change we can all make is to eat less sugar-refined sugar, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, all forms of it!

Here is something I found while looking into this issue. It’s from www.healingdaily.com. Not the most “medical” sight, but I liked the simple list they put together about the dangers of sugar. I’ve put asterisks by the conditions that Andie had; all things that contributed to his death according to the coroner. He ate a diet high in processed foods and sugar until he started dieting about 10 months before he died. I believe with all my heart that if he had made lifestyle changes a lot earlier if it would’ve been a different outcome.

Sugar can suppress the immune system.
Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.
Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
***Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
***Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
***Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).

Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
Sugar can cause kidney damage.
***Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
Sugar can promote tooth decay.
***Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair.
***Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
***Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
***Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
***Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.

Sugar causes food allergies.
Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
***Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
***Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
Sugar can cause depression.
Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.
Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance.
***Sugar can cause hypertension.
Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind's ability to think clearly.
Sugar can increase blood platelet adhesiveness which increases risk of blood clots and strokes.
Sugar can increase insulin responses in those consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets.
Sugar increases bacterial fermentation in the colon.

If this doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. Decreasing the amount of sugar we take in is a very small step towards bettering our health. People look at me like I’m crazy around here when I say I don’t drink sweet tea. In Texas that’s almost like saying you don’t believe in God. And I also don’t allow my children to drink it- yes, there are parents who start their kids on sweet tea in Texas when they are still drinking out of sippy cups! I find it appalling. It is my job as a parent to make responsible, healthy food choices for my children while I still can. They will have all their adult lives to make unhealthy decisions on their own.

So when I don’t want my kids having tea, soda, or ice cream, or any number of other treats…don’t look at me like I’m a bad mom who deprives her children of life’s simple pleasures. Acknowledge the good choice I’m making for them while they’re young- they don’t’ know the difference now anyway. I’m not opposed to an occasional treat-I promise, I do l let them eat cake on their birthday!

They already have risk factors genetically speaking, given what happened to their father. I can’t control that, but what I can control is what they put in their sweet little mouths! And what I put in mine for that matter. It’s a struggle to make all the right food choices, but I’m doing my best to be a responsible parent.

So I’m starting my new year’s resolution now- less sugar for us all in the Simmons house! Think about your own diet and lifestyle and consider a small change you could make for the better- Push yourself to do it! Consider it a gift to those you love to better your own health.

We often say we’d die for the ones we love, instead why don’t we choose to really live for them…

(Stepping down from the soapbox now)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words...

When we were first dating one of the nicest gifts Andie got me was a really nice camera- the Canon Rebel (before they had the digital version). I loved that camera and did some of my best work on it. I thought I lost it once when I accidentally packed it when we were moving. After months passed and we couldn't find it he went out and bought me another one for my birthday. He knew how much that camera meant to me and how heartbroken I was to not have it. Ironically, we unpacked and found the old camera about a week after he bought the new one!

Andie was always proud of my photography. It was just a hobby I enjoyed, but he encouraged me to display some of my work in our home and always wanted me to try to sell my photos. I never thought I was good enough but he always did. When we'd see photography for sale for hundreds of dollars he'd always say, "You could do that. Your stuff is way better than this." His encouragement and admiration of me is one of the things I treasure and miss the most.

When they came out with the digital version of my Canon Rebel I drooled over it. Pined for it. Longed for it. But I never thought we could afford it, or should afford it, rather. I was always the one holding the purse strings saying we should put more into retirement or savings- not spend it on extravagant things we didn't really need. He wanted me to have the big expensive camera and tried to convince me to get it for years, but I always put it off because it was so expensive.

The weekend Andie died was Father's Day weekend. I had bought him a new lightweight digital camera as a gift. We had both been wanting a new camera for a while that was small enough to throw in my purse, so I splurged. I planned to give it to him Friday night when we arrived at our vacation destination so he could use it all weekend. Thursday afternoon he ran errands and came home with my "late" Mother's Day present; you guessed it- a new camera! We laughed and couldn't believe we both bought each other cameras. He felt bad that he never got me a Mother's Day present and said he wanted me to have it for our vacation.

When he bought this new camera he told me he had considered getting me the digital version of my really good camera. The Canon Rebel EOS...the only problem was the digital version starts at around $600 and goes up from there. He said he was sure I would be upset if he spent that much money, but that he would go back and get it if I really wanted it. Well, being practical I told him we shouldn't spend that much money on a camera and I would keep the small lightweight one he bought.

So we kept the practical camera. The one we could both use. Point and shoot- so easy. The problem is...I hate this camera. I thought I would like it because it's very compact and lightweight but it takes way too long between when you press the button and when the picture takes. My kids move so quick that I can never get a good shot. Something that would never happen with my Canon Rebel. I'm sure my vehemence towards this camera is only magnified by the fact that he gave it to me a day before he died- it's got bad juju in my mind.

He was often trying to buy me nice gifts, but hesitant because he knew I'd be mad about how much they cost. I should've let him buy me nice gifts more often. I'd have those things to treasure now. Another thing to add to my list of regrets...

So today I bought myself the digital Canon Rebel.
In honor of him.
In honor of his admiration for my photography skills.
In honor of the fact that it's only money- we can't take it with us when we die.
I bought the camera because he wanted me to have it. Because I wanted to have it.

Because photos are the only lasting thing we have after someone is gone, the only thing that can preserve a moment after our own memory fades, the only accurate historical representation of a life. I want to capture the moments that matter with my children- I don't want to be cursing the camera because it didn't shoot quick enough and the moment passed.
My children are changing so fast these days and I feel like I can't keep up. I want to always remember these moments of joy, laughter, and love with them.

I want to capture these moments and hold them close and never let them go...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Better late than never...

So it finally hit me today what I am thankful for this season. I know I'm literally a day late, and probably a dollar short and won't do this post justice to adequately express what's truly in my heart, but here goes...

I am thankful for all of you. All of my readers, all of my friends and family, all of you who support me in this widow walk. I've realized that the reason I blog and share some of my most private thoughts and moments of pain is because I continue to gain strength and comfort from all of you. Your feedback and comments and words of encouragement are what keep me going.

I know there are a lot of people who continue to pray for me and the girls, and who continue to send loving thoughts our way- for that I am eternally grateful. Without the cocoon of love and support I have, I would not be functioning. It is such a compliment, and little burst of joy in my day when I hear from one of you that I've inspired you, or given you hope, or that you understand me, or that you hurt for me. You all help me feel less alone, something I am deeply appreciative of. There are many of you who have kept me afloat for the day with your kind words.

I mentioned to someone the other day that I wanted some good to come out of Andie's death. I don't want it all to be for not. I find that maybe the good that can come is that I inspire you, give you hope, help you get perspective on your own life, as you all do for me- and hopefully there is a ripple effect. A pay if forward moment when you can do the same for someone else. And hopefully the cycle of giving continues- we are all able to give back to each other and lift each other up, making for a better world- even if it's just in a small way.

Cheers to all of you! Thank you seems so inadequate but I don't know what else to say. So,
Thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blah!

Ugh... I was gonna surrender. I had every intention of giving it a valiant effort. The problem is... I can't. I'm a fighter. I don't give up and I don't give in.

I can't give in to this grief thing yet. I want to, or at least I think I do. I know I need to. But for some reason I just can't. I am stubbornly NOT accepting that this really is it. This sleep- deprivation, doing-it-all-alone, never-having-a-break life is what I'm stuck with.

To make a long story short, the girls have been extremely fussy, obstinate, and not sleeping through the night for the past 5 days- which makes for a mommy that is extremely fussy, obstinate, and not sleeping through the night. Not a good combo.

It is so draining to not have the other half of my tag team. There is no hope of passing the buck when he gets home from work in a few hours, or when he gets home from the ranch in a day or two...this is just a never ending reality with no end in sight and no reprieve to look forward to- I will do this alone for the rest of my life. At times it feels so hopeless.

I know I should be blogging about all the things for which I am grateful, instead of complaining about my lot in life. The truth is it all seems so cliche- of course I'm grateful for my children, family, friends, great support system, awesome job, blah, blah, blah.

What I'm not grateful for is like the elephant in the room. The big looming issue glaring me in the face. I'm not thankful, in fact, I'm quite bitter about so much. I think what hurts the most these days is that it didn't have to be this way. If medical intervention had proceeded as it should have when we sought it, then he would be sitting here with me; lamenting the crazy holiday schedule coming up, wondering what demons have possessed our children in the past five days and looking up how to perform exorcisms on the internet, and happily refilling my wine glass. From a box, no less.
Yep, it's gotten that bad. I'm actually drinking wine from a box.

Sigh. Is it too early in the season to say, "Bah humbug"?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Surrender...

Stubborn
Driven
Strong-willed
Determined
Perfectionist
Over-achiever
Independent

Yep, that’s me. I’m the one who expects a lot from others but always expects more from myself. I push those around me to achieve but always push myself harder. It used to drive Andie crazy that I pushed him- I just always saw so much more potential in him than he saw in himself and wanted the best for him.

The other day my mom and I got into a little tiff because she had offered her opinion on something regarding the girls and I took it as her trying to tell me how to parent. In discussing this she says, “Brooke, as your mother it’s hard for me because I think you always want to do things the hard way. I just don’t want you to make things harder on yourself than it has to be,”…or something to that effect.

It struck me in that moment as so true. Most other times I would have argued with her, but this time it resounded deep within me. Why do I hold myself to a standard that I would never hold others too? Why do I always have to do things “by myself” or “my way”? I don’t know the answers, but what I do know is that it is something I have to work on. Just because I’ve always been this way doesn’t mean I have to continue to be this way. I’m a different person now than I was 5 months ago and though I hate it, I’m learning to accept it. Perhaps this is one more aspect of me that needs to change.

As my near constant companion these days, Sarah (Mclachlan, that is) says, “the life I’ve left behind me is a cold room”. Maybe I need to quit fighting it. Maybe it’s time to surrender to all this.
This grief.
This process.
This rebirth of me…

Excerpts from “Sweet Surrender” - by Sarah McLachlan
It doesn't mean much
it doesn't mean anything at all
the life I've left behind me
is a cold room

I've crossed the last line
from where I can't return
where every step I took in faith
betrayed me
and led me from my home

and sweet
sweet surrender
is all that I have to give

I miss the little things
I miss the simple things
oh I miss everything
about you

so it doesn't mean much
it doesn't mean anything at all
the life I left behind me
is a cold room


So today, this fighter is throwing in the towel.
I'm waving my white flag.
I surrender.

The “old” me? Doesn’t mean much...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The show must go on...

Andie's been gone 5 months today and I’ve settled into a new normal.
A routine that is my “new” life as a single parent.
A new way of doing things on my own.
A one-man show.

It is something I despise. It is a routine that is born out of necessity, not out of want. My everyday doing is empty and lonely and boring and mundane.

Get out of bed in the morning. No one to talk to while I get ready for work. No one to tell me I look pretty today.

Drive to work. No one to text when I get bored. No one to text me to say they are just thinking of me.

Drive home. No one to call to say I am on my way as was our ritual.

I come home and decide what the girls should eat for dinner with little regard for nourishing myself. I don’t want to prepare a meal for one.

I bathe the girls and brush their teeth. No one to help me get them out of the tub.

I get them ready for bed and give them their nighttime cuddles- having to take turns with who gets to sit on my lap and who just gets to sit beside me. There isn’t another lap for them to cuddle on.

I tuck them in and wish them sweet dreams- one child at a time. They must take turns with me as I only have one set of arms to carry them to bed.

I close up the house, check that the doors are locked, and turn out all the lights. No one to protect me in the quiet darkness.

I wash my face and brush my teeth- staring in the mirror at a reflection of a girl I don’t know anymore. A girl I don’t want to know.

I crawl into bed, thankful for the reprieve that sleep brings. No one to wish good night.


Then I do it all again the next day because, afterall
the show must go on…

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The necklace...

Tonight Addie did not want to go to bed. So I cuddled her. On the couch. Just me and her. In the quiet and stillness of the evening.

At first she was very calm and laid on my shoulder as if she was about to fall asleep. Abruptly she lifts her head with purpose, looks at me, then begins playing with my necklace. Only, it's his necklace really. With his wedding ring on it.

I tell her to lie down and try to guide her head to my shoulder. She resists strongly and continues to play with my necklace intently. After a few more failed attempts to get her to lie down, I turn her on her side and cradle her where she can still see the necklace- which she continues to play with. Then she starts putting his wedding ring up to my mouth. She continues pushing it on my lips until I kiss his ring. Then she wants me to do this several more times. If I don't kiss it, she just smashes his ring harder into my lips until I give in and kiss it. She's insistent about it.

As all of this is unfolding I'm wondering what made her do this. Is she thinking about him? Is he here with us in the room and she is picking up on his vibes? Is is possible that she even remembers him? He has been gone for 1/3 of her short life...can she really remember him?

Surely she is not smart enough to understand that the necklace I wear is his, and that the ring is his too. But, there is an innocent intuition about her. Right after he died I noticed that she and Allie both would look up to the sky, or get fixated on a point just beyond my gaze and hold it. It was almost eerie- like they could see him or sense him. And I can't help but think that maybe on some gut level she does understand the importance of this necklace. That she knows this necklace was my last connection to him, and his last moments with me.

Interestingly, all week I've contemplated taking the necklace off, watching for a sign to guide me in the right direction. Now, I feel like we are all connected to it more deeply than I realized. I feel to my core.

This necklace and ring- symbolic of no ending and no beginning. Just a
solid,
never,
ending,
connection...

The timepiece...

I have felt rather disengaged and uninspired with my psyche the past few days- hence the reason for no profound posting here today.

What I would like to let you all know about is an awesome shop I found on etsy.com! If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of my blog you will find some of my favorite items from Leslie Janson's shop. She makes incredibly unique jewelry and other fun trinkets from vintage items. I especially am in love with her cuff bracelets!

Her timepiece Christmas ornaments are also pretty cool (there is as picture down there- yep, scroll down). I commissioned a custom one in which the time reads 10:04.

As most of you know, October 4th was our wedding anniversary and we picked that date because Andie was a police officer. Being that he used the radio code "10-4" every time he responded on the radio, as in, "10-4, I'll be in route to the scene" or something like that... we figured he would never forget our anniversary that way! What most of you might not know is that I'm cheesy. And every time I would randomly look at the clock and see it was 10:04 I would point this out to him with excitement, and he would smile. Or roll his eyes. Or both. I always thought it was neat to catch this time on the clock, and often I would make him kiss me in honor of our marriage- no matter where we were when this happened. He really rolled his eyes if this happened in public as he was not one for PDA.

The cool thing is that lately, I catch 10:04 on the clock a lot. A whole lot. At work, in the car, turning out the light and going to bed, while on the computer checking email, when picking up my phone to make a call, etc. etc. You might remember my facebook post a while back when I had done my fastest run time ever and beat my personal record. When I checked the clock to see how long it took me-you guessed it, it was 10:04! I just knew his spirit was running with me and pushing me.

Anyway, it happens way more than chance these days and I choose to believe this is a sign from him. Whenever it happens I send a little loving thought to him and I believe that this is our way of keeping up that mundane daily communication that I desperately miss.

So, for my very first Christmas without him I decided that this very neat ornament with such a "special" time on it would be a good way to honor him. And Leslie Janson obliged me and created a custom piece just for me!

I bet she'd do the same for you- check her out!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unsettled...

I’ve always had a plan, a 5-year plan, a goal, something to reach for in the future. It was all lined up, and now I don’t have that. It’s the first time in my life I feel uncertain and chaotic and exhilarated by the options. I have so many options and things I hadn’t even thought about doing before Andie died. I feel unsettled in my life, like something needs to change...

Lately I’ve been thinking about my career a lot. A friend let me know about a possible job opening in another district next fall that would be a substantial pay increase, I’ve considered going back to school and becoming a Physician’s Assistant, or getting my Ph.D . in psychology, or just focusing on my neuropsychology certification and doing more specialized contract testing. I’ve thought about picking up my life and moving to Costa Rica for a year to do something adventurous and to teach my daughters a second language. I’ve thought about selling my home and building the dream home that Andie and I had planned on our 2.5 acres in the hill country. I’ve thought about selling the land in the hill country altogether…

I’m scared of all this because I’ve never been on such an uncharted path with no direction. I don’t know how to do that, if I should do that. It feels like anything I would reach, any goal attained would seem unfair because had he not died I would never have done those things. It’s like this whole new life in front of me, no matter which path I choose is the wrong one because it’s not the way it should’ve been or would’ve been.

Is it fair to go down a new path, and am I okay with that? Would I be able to accept it, or would I always feel guilty for moving on without him? I don’t know. Maybe I stay in this life as penance and don’t change a thing, and don’t take a chance, and don’t push myself to grow. Why do I feel the need to punish myself? What did I do wrong, why do I keep bearing the burden and taking on the responsibility for his death? Survivor’s guilt- that’s a whole other topic for another day.

Nah, on second thought...

I gotta push!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do what you have to do

I know you're all probably sick of my musical inspirations, but Sarah McLachlan is really speaking to me these days. It seems like every song on her Mirrorball CD has some significance for me. Again, my focus is on just doing what I have to do to get through the day. Yesterday was particularly hard- I felt distracted and on edge all day, short and irritable with those around me through no fault of their own.

I want to be with Andie so badly, to talk to him, to hug him, to smell him. I know there is no way to be with him until I meet him again in heaven and that holds a special allure these days. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suicidal- I just know that is the only way I can see him, so on bad days I find myself wishing my life would just hurry up and I could flash forward 50 years and pass quietly in my sleep and into his arms. The rest of the time I just do what I have to do...

Excerpts from “Do What You Have To Do” - by Sarah McLachlan

and fate has led you through it
you do what you have to do ...

and I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
every moment marked
with apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
trying to escape this desire
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
but I have the sense to recognize
that I don't know how
to let you go
a glowing ember
burning hot
burning slow
deep within I'm shaken by the violence
of existing for only you
I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do
I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do
and I have the sense to recognize, but
I don't know how to let you g
o


Yeah, what she said...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baggage claim...

Every so often I get the "someday you'll move on" speech from someone- happened just the other day in the doctor's office. Someone who means well and has their heart in the right place, yet still feels it necessary to remind me that I am indeed a "young" widow, and surely I will find love again.

The truth is that most days I cannot fathom this, though the rational side of my brain knows it must be true because the intense loneliness and loss of companionship is awful, and I loved being married, and having a companion. I loved nurturing someone and in return being idolized by them. It gives me hope to think that one day I can find love again.

I read in one of my grief books that people who had good, strong, happy marriages tend to move on into new relationships sooner than those who had difficult or unhappy marriages. The logic being that those who were unhappy have more reticence to get into another marriage because they have a bad taste in their mouth about the institution of marriage, and they tend to carry guilt about the poor state of the relationship which makes closure harder to attain. Those who were happy though, want that kind of connection again and see marriage as a valuable asset to their well being.

I certainly fall in the latter category and do want to find love again sometime in the future, but right now that seems like a very distant future, and frankly a betrayal of my love and commitment to Andie. And though I said til death do us part, and death actually did part us...it still doesn't feel like it yet (yes, there is still some denial going on here). I've joked to my closest friends that I did it for love the first time around, but the next time I'm gonna marry for money because the odds of me finding the perfect love like I had with Andie again is a million to one, so I better not hope for that. Truthfully, I don't think I'll ever get married again. I'm not opposed to dating or having a companion, but marriage is so sacred. I do believe that I found my true soul mate in Andie, and that I could never find another who fits me so perfectly. I think if I were to marry again I would always feel like I just settled for the next best thing. And I don't settle.

So I was thinking about what it would actually be like for some man to unwittingly walk into my life right now...boy would he be in for it! I wrote up my personal ad for when I think I'm ready to venture into the world of dating again...so here goes.

Single, white, widow with twins seeking a self-sacrificing man that can understand he will always live in my dead husband’s shadow, and he will never really be able to measure up. Must be willing to endure crying jags and temper tantrums on a moment’s notice- either from me or one of my children. Willingness to take on mortgage payments and a part-time live in mother-in-law a plus! Seeking a man that will be okay with rarely having my undivided attention and who loves to help out around the house. Must want a perfectionistic and demanding woman, nicely packaged with a few signs of wear and tear (i.e. stretch marks and hail damage on the thighs). To claim your baggage call anytime- but leave a message as I probably won’t be available to answer during working hours on a weekday, or between the evening hours of 5-9 as I’m busy with the dinner, bath, bed-time, clean the house, routine with twins.

And I think to myself, "Yeah- Good luck with that"...




Monday, November 8, 2010

You just gotta have faith...

I knew my last post was going to create quite a stir and lots of conversation. "Strong" believers always have the clich├ęd things to say such as;

There is a reason you will know someday.
God has his purpose.
We are not to question our God, but just to believe in him.
Just have faith.
God will not give us more than we can handle.

I know some will call my faith weak because I question God, but I say "Who are we not to question god?" I believe that my God gave us free will and the ability to question and make our own decisions for a reason. If he wanted us to all blindly follow his ways he would not have given us free will. I believe in a God that is so confident and steadfast that he knows that even when our faith is tested and we doubt him, that we will see the light and come around with a renewed strength of faith.

Those with a “blind” faith who never question are just accepting what they have been told. Those who seek enlightenment and knowledge on their own and still have faith in God despite their unanswered questions, have a conviction that is born out of pain, tragedy, struggle, and triumph. It is a faith that is won in a hard fought battle, but won nonetheless. It is a faith that is earned, not bestowed upon them by acceptance of a religious doctrine.

I believe that relationships are strengthened through trials and tribulations, and when you both come out on the other side still able to say, "I’m here, I want to stay here, and I still love you," then you have reached a new level of commitment- for me it is the same with God. I believe in a God that wants us to question, that allows us to be angry with him, that understands the need to test his limits, because he ultimately welcomes the opportunity to continue to prove to us that he is here and working in our lives.

So is there a reason that Andie had to die? I’m still not sure I can swallow this one, it’s hard to believe that there would ever be a good enough reason for my children to not know their father. But maybe the reason is to renew my faith in Him and strengthen it. Maybe everyone else is right, and I'll know the reason one day.

My faith is stronger because I have been to the brink of wanting to forsake my God, yet I don’t. He has given me every reason not to believe, yet I still do because the alternative is more than I can bear. I want believe…I have to believe.

I just gotta have faith…

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prayer rations...

Does God ration answered prayers?

Did he answer too many prayers for us in the couple of years before Andie died when we prayed every night that I would make it through the pregnancy, that the girls and I would be healthy?

I’m the one with a congenital heart condition that made carrying a baby extremely dangerous, and when we found out I would be carrying two babies- we held our breath and prayed. Carrying multiples automatically makes you a high-risk pregnancy, but carrying multiples with a precarious heart condition-well, that’s as risky as it gets. We took a calculated risk getting pregnant and breathed a sigh of relief when there were no adverse complications for the girls or me. When Andie’s mom was diagnosed with cancer we prayed daily for her to be healed, for her life to be spared, and the cancer to go away. And it did.

We thought it was miraculous that all our prayers were answered in the 18 months before he died. Leaving me wondering now…was it not miraculous, but just God keeping score? Marking hash marks on some big chalkboard in the sky.

Did we use up all our prayers and that’s why the last prayers I prayed while sitting in that ambulance, begging for him to stay alive, went unanswered? Did God not answer me because I used up my allotment and it was someone else’s turn to get the good fortune?

It should have been me that died; I was the one that the odds were against…

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hold on...

Hold on
Hold on to yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell
Hold on
Hold on to yourself
you know that only time will tell

What is it in me that refuses to believe
this isn't easier than the real thing
My love
you know that you're my best friend
you know I'd do anything for you

let nothing come between us
my love for you is strong and true
Am I in heaven here or am I...
at the crossroads I am standing

Oh god if you're out there won't you hear me
I know that we've never talked before
oh god the man I love is leaving
won't you take him when he comes to your door
Am I in heaven here or am I in hell
at the crossroads I am standing

Hold on
hold on to yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell…
(Excerpt from "Hold On"- by Sarah Mclachlan)


I hear often from others how strong I am, or how well I’m handling things…my take on it is a little different. The work of grief can only be done by the person grieving, for each person’s grief is unique.

So I hold onto myself, I cling to myself, to push me through this. Though I do lean on others for support, really the only person that can truly get me through this is me. So maybe that’s where the strength comes from. Knowing I’m the one that has to take each step forward, I’m the one who has to wake up each morning and make a choice to get through each day, to push myself onward.

I don’t think its strength- it just is what it is...the experience of all who grieve. When you get down to the core of the issue you know it’s you that has to make it through.

Not anybody else.

Nobody else can carry the burden of grief for you, nor should they.

You just have to "hold on"...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I will remember you...

This evening I will be attending a grief seminar at the church and there will be a memorial ceremony in which a candle will be lit for all those who’ve passed on over the last year.

I listened to this song by Sarah McLachlan on my way to work today and thought it quite appropriate for what my evening holds. (More on Sarah McLachlan to come in later posts, as she has been inspiring me lately) The interesting thing is that I used to listen to this song and think of my dad after he died.
Now it holds a deeper, more profound meaning for me.

I will remember you
Will you remember me
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I'm so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that doesn't let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories


I love you Dad. I love you Andie. And I will remember you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Taken...

I hate weather like this. Absolutely hate it. Always have.

Overcast, cold, blustery days leave me wanting a fire in the fireplace and a cozy spot on the couch. Andie would always build me a fire on nights like this, taking pride in making a huge roaring fire. Men seem to like fire…I guess that goes back to the caveman days and wanting to protect and provide for their women. Andie definitely protected and provided for me in a million ways, but tonight I think of him building a fire to keep me warm, and standing back as the flames danced and flickered to admire his work. He was always taking care of me in simple ways- putting gas in my car, cleaning the kitchen, making coffee in the morning, feeding the dogs, taking out the trash. Working hard so we could have the things we dreamed about- the house, the cars, the life. I glance at my wedding ring-to me it is the ultimate symbol of his commitment to provide for me always.

These days I find myself looking at the hands of other people while at the grocery store, the gas station, the car next to me. Searching for wedding rings, and wondering…are they married? What’s their story? Are they spoken for? Do they have someone to take care of them? Even if they have a ring on I wonder, are they widowed like me and wearing it as a disguise? Are they happily married, would they rather be divorced? Funny, I never cared about the rest of the world and their marriage statuses because mine was so perfect and it was all I needed. I was spoken for and didn’t concern myself with the status of others. I have always been proud to wear my ring to show the world that I belonged to someone- to prove to the world that I was worthy and loved.

Oh, how blessed to be provided for,
spoken for,
taken

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The business of dying...

There is a lot to be done after one dies, lots of loose ends to tie up, lots of people to call.The insurance company, the mortgage company, the banks, the lawyers, social security, pension companies, and on and on…it seems to never end.

On my way home from work the other day I was driving down Highway 46- the same route we came home from vacation after he died and a memory flashed through my mind.

The morning after he died my aunt was driving us home and the organ donation lady called. I never knew what went into organ donation or how involved it is. It was probably the most surreal and ridiculous conversation I’ve ever had, and even more so because my husband had only been dead for a few short hours. After discussing which parts of my husband’s body they would likely “harvest”- an interesting choice of words, I thought, she had to ask me a litany of questions that seemed bizarre at the time. (Had he ever engaged in homosexual sex, slept with anyone from a certain region in Africa, or slept with anyone else who might have slept with someone from a certain region in Africa, had he ever used IV drugs, was he HIV positive, etc.) I remember when she asked me if he had ever engaged in homosexual sex I sarcastically retorted, “I think he’d rather be where he is right now than do that.” Then the gravity of the situation hit me again and I realized I was talking about my dead husband- I felt guilty for making light of it. The topic of conversation was too heavy to handle at the moment…

I just received a draft version of my will and advanced directive in the mail from my estate attorney. I have to review it and make sure that I made all the right decisions about what goes where, and who gets my kids, and how my money will be handled if I die. We should have done this before Andie died but of course we thought we had more time. It’s utterly depressing to think about your own mortality especially when the wound of grief is so fresh and you don’t have the “if this should ever happen to us” buffer that most of us carry with us when we’re young. I guess we never got around to doing it because the thought of tragedy was too heavy to handle at the time…

The hardest part is trying to decide what to put on his gravestone. I mean, how do you reduce a person to just a few words on a gravestone? I’m writing a letter to the girls about him and it is already 5 typed pages long. How do I condense all that into something meaningful and true and honest? I’m just not sure that anything I put on there will really do him justice, because he is after all, so much more than what a few words can convey.

It weighs heavy on my mind these days,

this business of dying...