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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Yesterday I had to get my tire replaced. It had an industrial staple in the side and couldn’t be patched. So I had to buy a whole new tire. This was of course something Andie would’ve handled.

The attendant at the tire store started asking me questions about the car and our previous service there. He looked up the account under my name but didn’t find anything. He searched by my last name and remarked that there were a lot of “Simmons” in the system. “Well, if you have an Andie, that was my husband,” I replied. Before I could catch myself I referred to him in the past tense. The attendant caught my slip. “Did you say was?” he said as he glances at the ring on my finger. Crap. I hate when I do this. I had been referring to him in the present tense to avoid this very conversation.

I tell him my husband passed away 9 months ago. He offers heartfelt condolences and seems shocked beyond belief. So shocked he remarks about how young I am and asks my age. “What are you, 25? 27?” I tell him I’m 30, my husband was only 34. He wants to know if he was in the military. No, he had a heart condition. I’m barely holding back tears at this point. Luckily, he changes the subject back to the car. He goes out to the car to check the mileage giving me a second to compose myself. When he comes back in he asks if I have kids. I think his knees almost buckled when I told him I have 19 month old twins. Again we go through the rounds of condolences and look of utter shock on his face. “You are one strong woman,” he tells me. I chuckle at this thinking to myself that being a survivor doesn't necessarily make you strong. “I just do what I have to do,” I reply. Holding back tears once again, cause when I hear it all spoken out loud it’s just so damn sad. And so unreal...

Yep, I just do what I have to do. Like take the car to the tire store to get a new tire. And tell people over and over that my husband is dead. And tell myself over and over that my husband is dead. And try to remember that when the car hits 55,000 miles I will need all new tires, and will need to rotate the one I bought yesterday to the front. And I keep surviving.

I just do what I have to do…
Cause he’s not here to do it for me anymore.

Friday, March 25, 2011


"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love." – Washington Irving

This morning the tears come as I’m getting ready for work. I was a little surprised by them because I hardly ever cry in the morning anymore. I realized I was having flashbacks of the night Andie died and reliving those awful moments at the hospital after he had been pronounced dead. I remember going outside to get some air and thinking, “My husband is dead. I have to call people. How is this real? My husband. Is dead.” I remember wanting to go back inside and demand that the doctors do some miraculous procedure that would save him. Cut him open and massage his heart by hand if they had to, anything that would offer one last chance at life. Then I remember having the thought that this sort of thing only happens on TV…rarely in real life.

I had worked through the flashbacks. Allowing myself to relive them in an effort to desensitize myself and process them. The only way to heal through them according to my grief counselor. I had gotten to the point where I could think about that night and not break down. But, after going through another traumatic event with Allie, seeing her become unresponsive and her lips turn blue, the flashbacks are back. My counselor warned me this would happen earlier this week when I saw her. “Be prepared,” she had said. Traumatic memories are the strongest kind. They trigger other traumatic memories because they activate the same part of the brain, bypassing all the normal routes of memory consolidation. It’s like a switch is flipped and there is nothing you can do about it. Except…live it again and again until it doesn’t hurt so badly.

I also realize this morning that I have not had any dreams about Andie in a while. Nor have I felt his presence with me as I so often did in the early days. It leaves me feeling abandoned and angry. Again…just as I did on the night he died. Perhaps, this is why I have been clinging desperately to any sort of connection with others lately. It’s irrational to feel abandoned; I know he would have never chosen to leave us. I cry about this too, this morning. Feeling so alone…and irrational.

Trying to appreciate the power of my tears…
To understand that while they are messengers of overwhelming grief, so too, do they represent unspeakable love…

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Longing for past tense...

I have been thinking about who I am now that I don’t have Andie to be my sounding board and reflect back to me all the things he loved about me. I defined myself by what I was to him. I feel exposed and flawed now without his unconditional love and support.

I find myself looking for validation in others, whether that be through constant venting, talking, and lamenting with my girl friends and colleagues (or anyone who will listen), or even harmless flirtatious banter with men whom I actually have no interest in. I feel like I’ve been thrown back to middle school where the desperation to “fit in” was all consuming. Just wanting to believe I am fun, smart, interesting, pretty, exciting, worthwhile…then I feel reproach for myself because I used to be really confident. I used to just care about the opinion of one person outside of myself. I don’t like this desperate, clingy feeling. What happened to the put together girl I was? I want her back.

I don’t want to feel the need to check my email multiple times a day on the off chance that someone has something to share with me. I don’t want to be disappointed when my mom has to go home after being with me for 3 days straight because I don’t want to spend my evenings alone. I don’t want the quiet loneliness to be so loud that it’s actually deafening, so I find some noise, any noise, to fill it. I don't want to always be driven to constant distraction so I don’t have to be alone with myself. I don't want to suddenly be hypersensitive about how I look in the hopes that if I at least look put together, then people will believe I'm put together. I don't even like admitting all of this is rattling around in my head because it all seems so pathetic.

I want to be okay with me again.
I want to be secure and confident, and not just put up a good front about it.
I want to be the girl that everyone thinks I am.
I want to be the girl I was… in the life I had.

Friday, March 18, 2011


9 months today and my thoughts are scattered but I keep coming back to the notion that it takes 9 months to grow a life. 9 months to nurture a baby in your womb. 9 months to create a living being and bring them into the world. Yet it takes only a second, just one moment, for a life to end.

I am bitter about that-there should have been a little more time. Sudden, unexpected death is so wrenching, ripping, aching, mind-blowing. Similar to giving birth though there is no reward at the end of death. No gift in the end that is so great that it makes you forget all the pain you went through to get there, and be willing to do it all again for a just a little taste of the joy it brought.

No, in death you are left with nothing but the reverberating pain that echoes off itself. Continually bouncing back at you. Never knowing which angle it's coming from. Never really going away and always right below the surface. The pain never becomes a memory with death as it does after childbirth- the pain is always felt even if dulled with time. The sting is still there.

Those left in the wake are forced to re-birth themselves; to make themselves new in light of all that has been forced upon them. I am rebuilding myself; out of necessity, not by choice. Little by little learning who I am again. I'm angry about this too because I don't want to do this. It's hard. It's a struggle. Growing pains I guess. Angry because this process will take much longer than 9 months. Much longer.

I took the girls to his grave today for the first time. I showed Addie his temporary marker on the ground and said, "This is Daddy." She immediately kissed her hand as if blowing him a kiss and then touched the stone. Allie copied her. I cried as both of them continued to blow him kisses. How do they know to kiss a stone they have never seen, that only abstractly represents a father they barely remember? This blows my mind and is incomprehensible to me. We brought balloons to the grave. They each kissed their balloons and then let them go so we could send kisses to Daddy in heaven. They loved watching those balloons float away and all I could think is how badly I wish we could float away too. Drift somehow to a place where we could see him. Meet again even for just a minute.

But when that minute ended would the pain well up again as bad as the first time he was ripped away from me? Would I start all over again in this... this ugliness?

That I could not bear. So the alternative is to keep moving forward. Keep growing.
Keep pushing...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Enough already!

I don't even really know where to begin this post. I guess I could begin by saying that I'm exhausted, sick, overwhelmed, and have been pushed to the brink of breaking. If one more thing goes wrong in my life, I will truly lose it.

Essentially, I have spent the past 5 days in the hospital with Allie. Two weeks ago Allie and Addie both had fevers and a virus for several days. Addie bounced back but Allie never really seemed to get back up to full speed. She wasn't running a fever anymore, but she was irritable, cranky, and lethargic. I just kept thinking she would surely get over it soon.

Last Wednesday I came home from work and the nanny said Allie had been very tired and listless all day. She did not have a fever or any other symptoms of illness, but she was definitely not herself. She took a morning and afternoon nap (hasn't done that in months), and cried if she wasn't being held. When I fed her dinner that evening she refused to eat and was acting tired again. I put her down at 6:00 (a very early bedtime)and she fell right to sleep. I was very worried because it wasn't like her to be so lethargic and out of it. I was checking on her every 5-10 minutes to make sure she was breathing because I had a gut feeling that something was very wrong.

At 7:00 I woke her up to change her diaper and she was in better spirits. We were all sitting on the couch reading books and she was interacting well with Addie. All of a sudden she started moaning and writhing to get away from me. The next thing I knew, her body went limp, her eyes glazed over, and her lips turned blue; she was unresponsive to me calling her name. Within a second she was back responsive and moaning, but then it happened again. And again. I had a vivid flashback of the night Andie died, as this is how he looked when I rolled him over in bed that night. I panicked and called 911 fearing that she was having some sort of seizure. By the time EMS arrived she was back to normal. Her blood pressure and oxygen saturation were normal and she had no fever. They said she had a febrile seizure. I didn't believe them because she hadn't had a fever, but they insisted this was probably what it was.

I immediately took her to an ER to be evaluated. While we were waiting for test results to come back she started having episodes of clamminess and was passing gas that was strong enough to be smelled across the room. I thought maybe she was starting to get intussusception again (something we had a scare with back in August). The ER doctor said her head CT was normal, all her blood work was normal except that she was mildly anemic, and he did not feel she was having intussusception because she was not screaming and in extreme pain- a classic symptom of intussusception. He said to follow up with her pediatrician the next morning. We got home around midnight and until 2:30 Allie could not get comfortable. She writhed around and changed positions about every 10 seconds. Something she had done the first time she had intussusception...I had a gut feeling again that this was going on, but no verifiable symptoms to prove it. (It's usually diagnosed with a bloody stool, and crying bouts of extreme pain- which she had not had).

The next morning while waiting for the pediatrician's office to open so I could call them, she had a huge bloody stool. We rushed her to the ER at a children's hospital in San Antonio where it was such an emergency situation that they made us bypass triage, and got us set up immediately for ultrasounds to confirm the diagnosis. The ultrasound showed what looked like an atypical presentation of intussusception. Being that it was atypical and looked more swollen than a regular intussusception they said she must have emergency surgery to correct the situation; the usual protocol was an air enema but would be too dangerous in this situation and could risk perforating her bowel.

Thursday afternoon she underwent surgery and did remarkably well. The surgeon found that she did not actually have intussusception, but instead had something called Meckel's Diverticulum. He resected that portion of her bowel and she should have no further complications. Turns out that what happened on Wednesday night wasn't a seizure, but was the result of her blood pressure dropping suddenly when she started to bleed internally.

She has been such a tough girl through all of this. She has had a great disposition and is healing up very quickly. Today she was able to start a liquid diet and if all goes as planned she will be discharged home tomorrow. We will be so excited to have her home!

Unfortunately, in all of this I have developed the worst chest cold I remember having in the past 10 years. I'm positive it is from all the stress. Sleeping in the hospital with her and traveling back and forth to spend time with Addie has been demanding physically and emotionally.

I am so very grateful to all my wonderful friends and family who have stepped up and provided immense support over the past five days. And to my boss who once again has been very understanding about my need to miss work.

I have so many emotions flooding around my head in regards to all of this. I was so terrified in the beginning and having bouts of PTSD. Thankfully, I am feeling relieved that she is okay, and grateful for good medical care. I feel like there is a dark cloud of bad luck looming over my head- I mean, how much more can one person take? But, then I am shown the love and support of all those around me when I am in need. I feel guilty that I am always having to call on someone or rely on seems it's time for me to be paying back those in need, not still be the one who is always needy. I am frustrated that I had to go through all of this without my husband to support me. I am sad that I can't be with both of my kids at the same time. I am overwhelmed with being pulled in too many directions at once. I'm irritated that I was just getting back on my feet and independent again, and something happens that leaves me struggling to keep my head above water and relying on others to save me. I'm scared that people will get tired of always having to help me out and will just stop associating with me because my situation is too high maintenance, and there is "always something"...
I am exhausted.
I am tapped out.
I am at my breaking point.
I've been pushed too far.
I can't take one more thing...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Every life has dark tracts and long stretches of somber tint, and no representation is true to fact which dips its pencil only in light, and flings no shadows on the canvas. – Alexander MacLaren

I find myself back in that place of a placid existence. The emotions dull and inaccessible, and for the most part even keeled. I do not cry on my drive to work anymore. I do not cry in the shower anymore. I have not had a night of deep sobs that are so loud I close myself in the bathroom so as not to wake the girls in quite a while. I do not cry so intensely that it makes my knees buckle anymore. I do not get angry when I have to take out the trash anymore. I do not pretend to believe he’s coming home anymore.

I wonder what is wrong with me. Why do I not hurt more? Why am I not still an emotional wreck? Why do I only have 3 really rough days a month that happen to coincide with my period leading me to believe that the emotions are hormonally driven rather than true heartfelt, from the gut, emotions.

I know there is no “right” way to grieve, but if there’s a wrong way I’m doing it. I begin to cry as I write this…the first good cry in a while because the thought that comes to mind when I see all of this in black and white is that it seems as if he doesn’t matter to me anymore if I don’t cry, and that is the furthest thing from the truth. I don’t want people to think that I am better or healed or okay just because they don’t see me being emotional. I am afraid that people will think I have forgotten him or gotten over the pain, and that will in turn give them permission to do the same.

Some would call this lack of emotional volatility progress or healing. I just call it existing. I don’t know what else to do, really. I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot change this. He’s not coming back and I have an entire lifetime that must be lived without him.

So I

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I'll be alright...

I cleaned out Andie's sock and underwear drawer today. I threw all of it away except for a few pairs of his running socks that I kept for me to wear. The rest went into the trash. No sentimental value in underwear and socks so it wasn't too emotionally charged to get rid of it. I am now using that drawer to store the flags from his funeral, notes and pictures, memorabilia, and odds and ends that were his.

I also cleaned out the armoire that I will be getting rid of in a couple of weeks. One of the drawers was mine and one was Andie's. Mine had almost every card and love note he had ever given me. I chose to pile them up and put them in a different drawer in my dresser without looking through them. I didn't have the emotional energy for that today.

Andie's drawer had his shoe polish stuff, several gun holsters, a magazine of bullets for his gun, a badge holder, random little things a man needs now and then. I kept most of it and tossed a few old receipts and things that were of no use. I thought I had emptied the whole drawer and was about to put it back in the armoire when I noticed something small in the back corner. It was a black elastic band. Took me a minute to figure out what it was. It was the black band that officers put around their badges when another officer has died to show respect for their fallen comrade. The kind that every officer that attended his funeral was wearing on their own badges that day. Ironic...he won't be needing that anymore. I almost threw it away but at the last second decided to keep it with his other "police duty stuff".

It only took me about 30 minutes to go through all of this stuff. It was a small way to ease myself into what it will be like when I actually have to clean out his closet. Not that that will be anytime soon.

Going through it all wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. Just had to give myself a little "push" to do it. Guess I'm gonna be alright again afterall...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


People close to me think I’m a perfectionist. I used to think that too, but what I’ve realized is that I’m just afraid of not living up to the expectations of others. It’s not an intrinsically driven thing in me that wants things to be “perfect” or “just so”. It’s that I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Once you do something well once, then people come to expect that from you again. You’ve set the bar, so how do you then dip below it?

My issue is I just can’t let people down, I must rise to the expectations of others…so I am driven to get good grades, to succeed, to have a nice house, to look put together and stay trim, to be good at my career, to be a good mom, to be financially savvy, to be a good listener, blah, blah, blah. All in an effort to make those who matter to me proud. I want to achieve so that I may appear “good enough” in the eyes of others…this probably definitely goes back to my own insecurities and issues with self-worth. I don’t want to be a failure. Andie’s opinion was of course the most important one. I wanted him to be proud of me on every level. Now that he’s gone I find myself not caring so much. Not worrying as much about whether or not I’m measuring up to the invisible bar I’ve set for myself because the judge is no longer around to give me a pass or fail. I’m beginning to be okay with things just being “good enough”.

Andie thought I was perfect…he told me so a thousand times. In fact there was rarely a day that passed in which he did not give me some loving compliment that built me up and sustained me; that reassured me that I was actually “good enough”. Yep, the majority of the time we were one of those couples that would make you gag if you knew how in love we were. We hid it pretty well in public, but in the privacy of our own home we were sickeningly in love and into each other.

He was always telling me I was beautiful, sexy, smart, a great wife, a great mom, I made a good dinner that night, he appreciated me and all the things I took care of around the house, I was the love of his life, I made him laugh, I was his whole world, I was awesome cause I got his favorite snack at the store, I was cool cause I never told him he couldn’t go hunting or fishing, or any number of other things he loved about me. I was just perfect.

I used to tell him that I hated when he told me I was perfect because it’s not true and it set me up for failure; as there is no way I could ever live up to being perfect and I didn’t want him to put me on that kind of pedestal. Being perfect is simply unrealistic and too much pressure. And he would always say, “Well, you’re perfect to me.” I remember arguing with him one day about not being perfect and I asked him if there was anything about me that irritated him. Nope, not a thing. There has to be at least one thing I do that you don’t like, or wish I would change, or that you don’t think is perfect. He thought for a moment and came up with 2 things.

1. I can’t sing. (A very valid and indisputable accusation)
2. I never replaced the empty toilet paper roll; I just stacked a new roll on top of the empty roll.

Honestly, the only thing he ever complained about in our entire marriage is that I never put a new roll of toilet paper back on the holder…and he also didn’t like the way I loaded the dishwasher. But those are honestly the only two things I remember him ever even commenting about. (I’m sure there were more things he didn’t like, he was just too sweet to tell me). I think I subconsciously wouldn’t put the toilet paper back on the roll just so that there would be something “imperfect” about me. To prove that he would love me anyway, even if there were imperfections.

Ironically, now I find myself replacing the empty toilet paper roll. Yes, ridiculously I do it now that he’s gone. As if that will honor him in some absurd way. Oh, wouldn’t he be so proud to be honored with a fresh roll of toilet paper on the holder!

And aren’t I just the perfect little wife now…(cue eye rolling)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ignorance is bliss...

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. – H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

I’m tired of trying to figure out the answer to the only real question I have: Why?
I am not meant to know the answer I suppose, or maybe there isn’t one. It is hard for me to fathom not being able to find an answer…if I just look hard enough and long enough, surely the reason will be revealed, right? Is it a riddle I’m too dense to figure out? Is it so simple it’s staring me in the face and I just can’t see it?

I think I’m most terrified of not having the answer not for myself, but for these two innocent little girls who will without a doubt ask me this very question one day, to which I won’t have an answer.

“Why did he have to die, Mommy?”

Perhaps I should be content with my ignorance and not voyage far…