Check out my honors! (Click on the badges to see other great blogs too)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's still hard

Two and half years later and the holidays are still hard.  They are still full of tension and white knuckling it for me.  Trying to put on the happy face for my kids and those around me...I don't want anyone's pity or sorrowful expressions, I don't want to break down and cry, I don't want to be a scrooge.  I truly want the holidays to be happy, but they still hurt so much.  It's still hard to see how much he has missed out on with the kids.  It's still hard to go to his parents' house and be surrounded by his family without him there.  Knowing how much I still hurt and wondering how they are holding up, but nobody wanting to bring it up.  Mostly, it's still hard to acknowledge that it will always be hard.  This pain will never not be there.

This year was especially different because we have my boyfriend's three children with us. Knowing they were coming was exciting, it was the first year I've actually looked forward to the holidays because I had someone to make it fun for, and it was the first year my kids understood the concept of Christmas and were actually excited themselves. It has been great to have them all here- it's been a happy distraction to have five kids in the house.  They have been so much fun to have around and it's been great for my kids to have some others to play with.  There has been lots of smiling and laughing.  They all get along beautifully which is such a blessing.

But it brings up for me just how much my life has drastically changed in two and a half years.  I feel more and more like I have lived two separate lives and it still is all so surreal.  I'm grateful for this beautiful new way of life I'm creating with a wonderful man and his beautiful children because it means that I'm healing, and it means I'm able to find joy and provide happy experiences for my kids, but I still miss Andie so much.  I still hurt for how much of him my children never got to know.  I still hurt for how much he and I never got to share together as parents.  I still can't believe this is all really true most of the time...I hate that the happiest times will always be tainted with the bittersweet pain of loss.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Brave



The transformation of will that happens in grief is nothing short of remarkable.  You find inside you a determination and strength you never knew you had.  Your thoughts, habits, and every way of being change drastically.  In some ways it's startling.  In other ways it's exhilarating. 

Where before I was always careful, methodical, rational, and anxiety ridden about doing everything right, I've now become more carefree, more confident, braver.  In my old life I would never do anything too far out of the norm or risky with my money.  I was diligent about saving and planning for retirement so as to be responsible.  Now, I've done something that the old me would've considered crazy.  I bought a vacation home in a foreign country.  It was impulsive.  It was on a whim.  It was brave.  And it feels exhilarating!

I've learned the hard way that tomorrow may not come.  And that I would've never had some of the opportunities I have now if my husband had not died.  I feel the need to take advantage and live as fully as I can. For me and for my girls.  I want them to grow up being fearless, determined, adventurous, and all of the things I was not.  I don't want them to not take risks for fear of failure.  The only way to teach them this is to be an example of it, so I am continually challenging myself to push my limits and in doing so I'm finding who I want to be.

My home in Costa Rica is now available to rent for any of you who might need to get away and renew your spirit.  I promise this place will change you for the better!

Gemela's Casita- Playa Ocotal, Costa Rica

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weaving

The weaving together of the old with the new is the most bittersweet part of grieving. It's what you want but it's also what hurts.  I experience these moments daily- wanting to smile and cry at the same time.  Things that bring joy also bring heartache.

Being blessed enough to have such a loving relationship with Andie's family that we all still go to dinner on Friday nights just like we did when Andie was here, but now there is someone else there with me.  And they have welcomed him in with open arms as if he was their own and has always been the one there.  It is all I could ever hope for.  To be able to feel comfortable moving forward  and not hurting them in the process...but I do hurt for them.  I hurt for his mother who must look across the table at times and wonder what the hell happened in her life to have lost her son and is now accepting seeing someone else walk me and her grandkids to the car at the end of the evening.  I watch his brother who every now and then makes a facial expression or moves in such a way that for half a second I think it's  actually Andie...and I wonder how he feels joking and talking in a brotherly way with this man just as he would with have with Andie.  I think of his father who now invites my boyfriend to go fishing with him...the thing he and Andie loved to do together, and I wonder how he handles being alone on the water for hours with someone who is not his son.  I wonder if they feel it too...the bittersweet of the weaving.  The pain being replaced slowly by happy moments, only to be reminded of why it all hurt in the first place.

Wanting the girls to have a father and seeing them develop that kind of relationship with someone who is not their father...it's beautiful and painful all at the same time.  They are opening their hearts to love him in their own time.  They were tentative at first...always comfortable with him but still always wanting me at the end of the day when it was time to cuddle.  Always wanting me to tuck them in bed.  Now they lay their heads on his chest in the evening and let him take them to bed.  Not always, but sometimes...as though they're testing out if it's okay to let someone else love them besides me. 

To be truthful, we were all tentative. Sometimes we still are, but it is settling into a familiar life now making my old life feel ever more distant. In the beginning he was respectful to not overstep his bounds and let me do the parenting and correcting. Now he is comfortable with stepping in and parenting them...loving them when they need it, and scolding them when they need that too. And I'm okay with letting him.  In the beginning I was hesitant to give up that control. It was hard to let someone else take part in that role as I have always done it alone. But now if feels good to have someone on my side, tag teaming the difficult moments with me.

They ask where he is while he's at work and get excited when he comes home.  Running to hug him and screaming his name with delight...just as I would imagine they would do with their daddy.  Giving him kisses and telling him they love him before he leaves for work and again in the evenings before they trot off to bed.  Then immediately walking to their dad's picture and saying goodnight to him and kissing his picture.  They have room in their hearts for both of them just as I do, but it's so bittersweet to watch it play out with them.  Knowing one day their father will just be someone they've heard stories about but have no emotional tie to because they don't really remember him.  And this man will be the one they think of as their father figure.  The one they will actually run to, seek advice from, and love.

It takes time...the weaving.  And it seems tedious when you're in the middle of it, as though it will never actually all fit together just so.  But then you look back and realize it's happening and you're farther along than you thought you were. There's snags along the way and it's not perfect, but it works.  And it's becoming the warm blanket that gives you comfort when the cold moments of grief start to seep in.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not the same...


I’ve had a lot of emotions stirring lately. I think it’s because so much has changed in my life in such a relatively short period of time and it’s hard to wrap my mind around just how vast the changes have been…and how swiftly life continues to move.


The girls were 10 months old when he died…now they are over 3. They could not feed themselves, dress themselves, walk, or talk…they could not do anything independently. I carried them everywhere. I fed them. I consoled them.

Now they speak in full conversations, they not only dress themselves but have opinions about what they want to wear, they use the potty by themselves. They not only walk, but run, and jump, and climb. They brush their own teeth. They sleep through the night. They say, “Mommy, I love you so much,” and ask me to say their prayers with them when I tuck them in at night. They ask who their Daddy is and what is his name. They cry for him when they are upset with me, though they are crying for someone they have no tangible memory of.

I am so very happy now with my life, even happier than I ever remember being before. My girls are so very happy. And yet strangely, it makes me immensely sad to admit that I am so happy, so content, so fulfilled. It feels like a betrayal in a sense. It feels like it means I’m okay with leaving him behind while we move forward. I feels like people will think I have forgotten him…something that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I still think of him multiple times a day and it still takes my breath away for just a second.

None of us are the same as we were then and it makes me feel so far away from him. He doesn’t know the people we are today, he never will and that feels so final. He will never know his children the way I do, and in the ways I am privileged to get to continue learning them.

Life feels like that river that Heraclitus referred to…ever swiftly moving…you can’t step in the same place twice, you can’t make it stand still and have the past integrate with the present no matter how badly you want it to…

For it is not the same life…and you are not the same you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

9



Today would've been 9 years that we had been married.  I try to imagine what our life would be like now together.  We would've weathered the storms of getting to the toddler years together.  No doubt it would've shifted us and changed us to learn to parent together.  And I wonder how we would have fared.  Things were in flux when he died.  Our twins were only 10 months old and we were still trying to grasp the idea of parenting, and who we were as parents, and who we were becoming to each other in those roles.  All of that seems like such a blur and I'm amazed I have made it this far alone.

People say I have changed.  Of course I have.  You can't go through something like this and not be transformed.  A friend commented to me recently that she could tell I was really happy and that I seemed like the "old" me again...the person I was before I even met Andie.  Normally this would upset me, but it didn't.  Because I feel it too and I feel at peace with it.  I am more authentically me than I have been for a very long time.  I am living for me now and not for who I think I should be.  I realize looking back that I was subtly shifting into who I thought Andie wanted me to be, though I never asked him if that was what he really wanted.  Ironically, the girl Andie fell in love with, the authentic me, is who I shifted away from over the years and only in an effort to please him.  Yet I wonder if this is where some of our marital struggles came from...was I trying to be someone I thought he wanted, yet all he ever really wanted was the true me, so he started to not understand me.

I find myself back in that place of hopeful happiness like I did in the early days of our marriage, and again have found someone who loves me for me.  I believe that God had a hand in bringing me this man, and that Andie has blessed it because he knows it is good for my soul.  Because he knows that this man allows me to feel comfortable returning to the girl I was...the girl I want to be.  To being the very girl that Andie fell in love with and vowed 9 years ago today, to love forever.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The hustle and bustle...

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been over 2 months since my last post. So much has been going on and I have been so busy I just haven’t gotten around to filling you all in.


School started again, which means I’m back to work. For the first time in a few years I’m back to work full- time. I used to have Fridays off which was a nice reprieve for me. Being an introvert (and a busy single mom), I’ve savored those Fridays by myself while the kids were at preschool to get my chores done and wall myself off from the world to have a little alone time. It gave me a chance to decompress from the hectic work week and recharge for the weekend with the kids. Now that I’m back at work I literally don’t have a moment to myself except when I’m in the shower or commuting to work. The rest of the time I’m pulled in what feels like a million directions being a full-time single mommy, daughter, friend, co-worker, and partner. It’s been disconcerting for me to not have my down time to recharge. My brain and emotions get overwhelmed being in the presence of others all the time and I have to actively practice patience with others, and with myself. I’ve been overwhelmed with trying to balance getting all the things done around the house that need to be done while still being an active and engaged mom on the weekends. I used to be able to devote my time and attention to the girls on weekends because I had Friday to focus on errands and chores. Making it even more difficult is the fact that my boyfriend started a new job and now he works long hours on the weekends, which doesn’t leave us time to have fun together. So I’m back to feeling like a single mommy all the time…

Another big change has been the “official” addition of my boyfriend to our household, and the adjustment of living with someone who’s not young enough for me to make all the rules for! My boyfriend’s children moved to a different city at the beginning of the school year. This was, and continues to be a very difficult adjustment for him as he no longer gets to see his children as often as he wants to. But since he doesn’t have them every other weekend anymore it has allowed us a chance to try living together on a trial basis. I’m happy to say it’s been a really smooth transition and when his lease on his apartment is up in about a month he will officially move in here. Though ironically, we actually spend less time together now even though he’s living here, because he’s always working on the weekends which is when we used to see each other the most. We’re happy to be taking the next step in starting a life together, but it feels bittersweet to not have his kids be a part of it with us. I felt like I had just started to get in a groove with them and develop a good friendship, and then they moved. It’s been a big adjustment for us both to realize they will not be as much a part of our lives as we want them to be.

To top it all off, I’ve added a huge project to my plate. I bought a vacation home in Costa Rica and every spare second lately has been devoted to getting the needed renovations done so that I can have it ready to rent out by the first of the year. Renovating a house from a different country has been quite an experience, and has taken a ton of my time and money! I will travel down there two more times before the end of the year to get everything done, and it all seems ridiculously exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

So my life has been crazy, and busy, and fun, and complex, and emotional lately…but it’s all been worth it!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Scars and salvation

I am stretched out by the pool reading a novel.  Ironically it is about grief and loss.  My mother catches me in just the right light and notices stretch marks on my belly from when I was pregnant with the twins.  I'm astonished she has never seen them before.  They are nothing more than scars really.  Points where the skin was stretched to within it's breaking point, yet miraculously held strong under the pressure.  I see them every morning when I get out of the shower.  Perhaps the lighting is just right there, or perhaps I know what to look for.  I see them daily, yet to most people  they are invisible.  They have faded.  They have tanned. To most people they are not even there, but are so very present in my mind. 

This is how grief manifests itself now too, fading away to others but a near constant presence in the back of my mind.  Not something I think about unless I'm reminded by someone that it is there.  Or unless I happen to catch a glimpse of it myself when the timing is just right.  But nevertheless, under the surface all the time...scars really.

After she notices the stretch marks I sit up to dip my feet in the pool.  There is a bug spinning in circles on the surface of the water.  One wing isn't working, yet the other flaps incessantly as though it might be able to work hard enough to save itself from drowning.  Instead it only goes in circles.  Over and over.  It doesn't realize it's getting nowhere.  It makes ripples on the glassy surface of the water effecting everything around it, though it does not know this.

How many times have I beat my own broken wings, going in circles with this grief, getting nowhere? Yet somehow believing I could save myself, only to eventually tire out and give up.  Until someone came along and scooped me up.  It is the same with grief...circles over and over until  someone steps in to save you.  Family.  Friends.  A wonderful man who understands loss in his own unique way.   I think of scooping up the bug to save it but I don't.  Then I feel guilty.  Is the bug not worthy?  Thank God for those who scooped me up and saw me worthy of saving.  Thank God for them and salvation.

Perhaps the grief is on my mind because the novel I'm reading is about a mother that loses her son.  Or because a family from church just lost their adolescent daughter.  Or maybe it's the life changing experience this trip has been in allowing me to finally settle down.  Feel the calm.  Understand that I can and should live life in a simpler fashion.  Perhaps this is what allows the thoughts and emotions to ebb and flow like the tides here instead of me being able to drown them out as usual.

Either way, I realize I'm grateful for the scars, those seen and unseen. They are proof of what I've survived when I need reminding.  And more importantly, I'm grateful for the salvation that comes when you finally let go and let someone else do the saving...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pura Vida

I'm in Costa Rica with my best friend and my beautiful daughters.  We are here for a month; something that seems both extravagant and yet absolutely necessary as a way to escape many of the stressful things I have been focused on for the last few months.  It's beautiful here, and the people and the culture are renewing to the spirit.  There is a joy they exude in their daily lives despite how simply they live.  A happiness that settles in your bones when you realize you can be happy with so much less.  A friend told us of a survey recently published in which Costa Rica was rated number 1 of the happiest places to live. It is easy to see why and get lulled into the idea of leaving all of your old life behind and starting over here.  Afterall, the country's motto is Pura Vida: the pure life.  It really seems like a little slice of heaven here.

Strangely we left on the 2 year anniversary of his death and somehow when I booked the flights I didn't make the connection in my head about the date.  But now I think I might make it a yearly tradition to be here on the anniversary. It's peaceful, and calm, and restorative.  It's the closest to heaven I can get...la pura vida.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lucky

Today is Father's Day. In years past this day has made me profoundly sad for the loss of my own father and for the loss of my childrens' father.  But for some reason today I don't feel sad. Perhaps it's because I just spent an entire weekend with all of my extended family. Today I feel lucky.

Lucky that there are many men in our lives who are wonderful father figures to me and my girls, and who provide excellent examples of what it means to be a great father.  Numerous uncles, cousins, and friends, my phenomenal father in-law, my brother, my brother in-law, my boyfriend...I feel lucky to witness the love all of these men have for their children and families.  I feel lucky that my girls have so many wonderful examples of active fathers who love, protect, and provide for their families. 

I feel lucky that I even have a reason to celebrate this day.  I feel lucky that I get to reflect on what an awesome father my dad was while he was here.  I feel lucky that Andie and I got the chance to have our own beautiful children together and I get to remember the complete adoration he had for them.  I feel so lucky and incredibly blessed that my girls and I have so much love and support surrounding us not only today, but every day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In honor

This past Sunday was the 2nd Annual Triple A 5k run in honor of Andie.  We had a phenomenal turn out and raised money for the Guadalupe County 100 club, an organization that provides support the the families of fallen officers.  It felt so good to give back to the organization that helped me so greatly in the weeks after Andie died.  I am honored to be able to know the wonderful men and women that dedicate their time to this organization.  We did a balloon release at the end and sent our balloons "to heaven to see Daddy."  It was emotional but also heartwarming and I felt a sense of peace throughout the day.  I know he'd be happy that we were celebrating him instead of mourning him.




On Monday, the 2 year anniversary, we will board a plane for Costa Rica.  I cannot believe that two years have already flown by.  I am looking forward to being in a place away from the normal hustle and bustle of our lives where I can focus and reflect on how far the three of us have come in the past two years.  So much of the hurt and pain has been replaced with laughter and love.  I'm excited to get away from our lives here for a little bit and have the opportunity to live an adventure, relish in my children, and remind myself what really matters in life. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The in between...

The 2 year anniversary is edging closer each day now.  For a couple of weeks the flashbacks have been coming.  Re-living the awful moments of the night of his death, the day before, and the blur of days after. Remembering all that I said, and all that I didn't say.  Telling him I needed him to stay but refusing to tell him I loved him out of the irrational fear that if I said it, it meant I accepted that I was about to lose him.  I remember making the phone calls, hearing the unbelieving exclamations of friends and family on the other end.   Crawling in bed on his side the night we arrived home without him and laying on his pillow so I could smell him.  I've never returned to my side of the bed, I've taken over his side as my own.   Watching over 65 police cars escort the hearse to the graveside service.  Hearing the 21 gun salute and the bag pipes. Countless officers standing at attention to pay respect to my husband.  Feeling so honored that all these people loved, admired, and respected him...yet he chose me to share a life with.  Walking through each memory and moment in my mind in slow motion as if trying to discern some new detail that will make it all make sense.  But it doesn't ever make sense.  I come out of it just as bewildered as the day it happened and literally find myself shaking my head in disbelief. 

I cry more these days while watching the girls.  This is the hardest part of the loss for me.  They are made of his DNA, they look like him, they crinkle their nose like him when they laugh, they are a part of him cell by cell, yet will never know him.  There are no words for this part of the pain.

In the in between space between sleep and a wakefulness is when I dream of him now. It is only in this place that I can hear his laugh and recognize his voice. The familiar tilt of his head and sideways glance he'd give.  These the are the details that I can't remember anymore when I'm fully awake and aware...my consciousness knows better, I think, than to let me know him that intimately while I'm fully cognizant. I am not strong enough...


The in between is so fitting for so much of my life.  In between an old life and new.  In between healing and grieving.  In between being a widow to one man and something special to another.  In between comfort and pain.  In between holding on and letting go.  Staying stuck and moving on.  The only thing that remains the same between the two worlds is the love that is there...

For in love, there is no in between. It just is.



Monday, May 14, 2012

My Mother's Day Gift

This year for Mother's Day my mother, my brother, me and the kids, and my boyfriend went to the beach for a weekend getaway.  We all had a phenomenal time; lots of laughing, lots of enjoying each other, lots of bonding.  The kids especially relished in the adventure.  They are at such a fun age where the world is full of wonder and new things to be learned.  They are constantly learning new things, using new phrases, gaining new skills. And I realized something while we were there.  I realized how very grateful I am that I have people around me to bear witness to them and all they are doing.  Someone to share the ups and downs with.  Someone who gets just as excited as I do about them.  Someone to share the memories with.

Looking back over the past two years some of the loneliest moments have been those in which I was alone with my children and they did something remarkable or worth remembering and I realized I am the only keeper of these memories.  There was no one there for me to turn to and say,
"Did you see that?"
"Did you hear that?"
"Can you believe she just did that?"

 It is so comforting to have the support of those who love me and the girls around us so I'm not the only one bearing witness to their beautiful spirits, their innate genuine happiness, and to their continual evolution of who they will become.  In this grief process you learn to appreciate things you would've never even thought of before, and I am so grateful I don't have to keep doing this alone.  There is always someone there for me to turn to and say..."Look at them, just look...aren't they great?"

Mother's Day...the day we honor our mothers for all they have done for us. But this year I can only reflect on all my kids have done for me. They have been my shining light, my joy, my motivation to keep going, and my reason for everything. Despite the fact that there was a brief time right after Andie died when I thought it would've been easier if we'd never had them. I tried to rationalize that I could've handled the despairing emotions much better if I didn't have to be distracted by caring for them. But now of course, I see God handled that as well as he handles everything: perfectly. He knew that I needed them. I needed the distraction to keep pushing me forward towards a purpose greater than myself so I would not fall in the pit of despair and never recover. He knew that these girls would bring me more joy than I could ever find in any other way. They were his gift to me...
So I'm pleased to say that I had a very happy Mother's Day.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Clarification

I’d like to respond to a comment an anonymous poster left on my post “Second Best” which is not something I normally do as this blog is not a forum for judgement and argument, but I feel it’s important to clarify my stance because the blog was written at a heightened emotional state and I’m realizing it didn’t come across as I intended. Below is the comment he left for me:


“This is particularly sad to me as I am a step father to 2 amazing children. I've been their step father for 2 years, a boy 12 and girl 6. First of all, I would have NEVER married their mother if I had any doubts that I was in absolute love with her children. They have a father who is active in their life, I happen to like him as well. But before I married my wife, I took the time to get to know & love my step children, just as I love my children and my nieces and nephews. If my sister and brother in law both decease while their children are under age, my wife and I will become their guardians. Because we love them "unconditionally". I hope the person who comes into your life and choses you and your kids never comes across this blog. If my wife felt I were "2nd best" at loving her children, that would cut so deeply, a wound that may never be healed. And if she ever had these thoughts, which she very well may have, I'm glad she never said them outloud for all the world to read. I truly feel for you. Good luck.”

The purpose of this blog is to be real and honest and to share emotions that are authentic and raw, and in doing so, to hopefully help someone else feel less alone or less crazy because maybe they can see that someone relates to them. While I did express my emotions openly and honestly “for all the world to read” is was only after a very lengthy discussion on this topic with the man in my life.  I assure you I did not blindside him with that post.

Let me first say that it is my opinion (which I am entitled to) that the best option for my girls would be for them to still have their biological father, given that this is impossible it is by that nature that whoever becomes their father figure will be "second best".  I think it’s a natural feeling to believe that the child’s biological parent is the first and best option for a child. It was in that spirit that the post was written.   Secondly, I also meant that I did not want my girls to ever feel that they were "second best" because they were someone's step-children and were not biologically tied to him.  As a parent you want to protect your children from hurt and I don't want them to ever question whether or not they are loved as much as their would be step-siblings.  I did not intend to imply that step-parents are not capable of loving their step-children as they would their own.

What I was trying to say is that I am profoundly sad for my children that they will not ever know the love their father had for them. I am thrilled and honored that they will come to know the love of this man though, who will love them like he loves his own children. But I know that the bond will be somewhat different than the bond they would’ve had with their biological father. I am sad about the loss of the relationship they could’ve had with their father.  The post was NEVER about me doubting that the man I've chosen to be in our lives is the best person to fulfill the father figure role to my children.  It was never about me believing that he was giving his "second best" effort.  Simply put, I want to preserve the sacredness of their father's place and give it the honor it deserves, while also allowing another wonderful man to be a part of my childrens' lives at the same time.

The loss of a parent to death versus divorce is a vastly different experience for a child. While both are deeply hurtful, they are different. I absolutely appreciate great men, like I’m sure this anonymous poster is, who step in and become great step-parents, but it is a very different experience when those children also have their biological parent involved too. When that is the case the step-parent is not expected to be the sole provider in that type of role, rather they are expected to share it with the biological parent and be an extra support to the child. But in the death of a parent the new step-parent becomes more of a “replacement” in a sense because they become the only one fulfilling that role; the responsibility is heavier. I know I am not the only woman who has worried if her new spouse will love her children as much as she believes her children deserve.

I believe there is no bond or level of love like that of a parent and their child. As someone who lost her father at a young age I can see both sides of this issue. I remember not wanting my own mother to ever remarry because I as a child I felt that nobody would ever or could ever love me or my mother the way my father had. Perhaps that is where some of my fear for my own children comes from…I don’t want them to ever have the notion that they are not loved immensely. I want to protect them from the same feelings I had. I know they will be loved beyond measure, but I don’t want them to ever have to question or doubt it.

Luckily, I have found a man who does adore me and my children, and is strong enough to take on the challenge of becoming a father figure to them. But more importantly, he understands that honest communication about my grief and the unexpected and not always rational emotions it brings up is the only way to make our relationship work. In considering remarrying and becoming a step-mother I would never expect to supersede the role of my step-childrens’ biological mother, or believe that I could love them more than their biological mother could. I am comfortable with being “second best” in that sense. I would never want to take top billing; that would be selfish of me, and not fair to the children or their mother for me to expect it.

It is in that way that I meant “second best”…it is not that I feel the man entering my kids' lives is giving his “second best” . Quite the contrary, he gives 110% in being the best to fulfill the step-father role, and he is absolutely without a doubt in my mind the very best man I could’ve chosen to be a father figure to my children. 





Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Revisions

Proof, edit, revise…repeat.


This is my life; a constant fluctuation of hopes, dreams, and plans evolving and changing. Some major life circumstances have changed for me in the past couple of days forcing me to revise my plans for building the house I have been planning for the past 3 years. I have revised the floor plan for the house no less than 7 times since I sketched out the first idea 3 years ago when Andie and I bought the land. And now the entire plan will be edited and revised again.

I will most likely be selling the land and looking for a different location to build, though I have no idea when that might actually happen. A week ago, I thought I’d be starting to build the house by the end of the summer. Now it is all an unknown again.

I have the sense that things work out for reasons beyond our understanding most of the time, so while I am disappointed, I am not discouraged. Okay, well I’m a little discouraged, but I have faith that things will be okay. Because somehow they always are.

Life isn’t a rough draft that we get to do over for a final version, but rather it is a working document. We’re always being given new opportunities, new challenges, new information that changes the rest of the story.

My life is a constant cycle of proof, edit, revise, and repeat…the glory being in that the edited and revised version is almost always much better than the original rough draft.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Second best

They sit in the chair next to the table with his picture. Addie picks up the picture and the following conversation ensues:
Addie: "Allie, give him kiss."
Allie kisses the picture
Addie: "Now hug"
Allie leans into the picture as if to hug him
Addie: "Oh, so sweet to daddy!"

The only thing I want to give them in this world is the unconditional love they deserve from the man who matters the most. Their father.  And I can't, and no substitute will ever be good enough in my eyes.  Granted, anyone who becomes a part of this family will be the only father they will ever know and remember in that role. And for that reason, I understand that they won't know the true difference.  But I do.  And it breaks my heart. It kills me that they will come to know and love someone as their father, but to that person they will always be his step-children.  It feels lopsided and unfair for them as they will have unconditional love and adoration for the only "father" they've ever known because they don't have a comparison, but that person I fear can't ever have the same unconditional love and adoration because they are not his. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again....how do you ever come to accept second best for your children?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blur

There is a near constant fluctuation between my two worlds. More and more I feel like my life with Andie is vanishing and I’m grasping at things to hold onto, while also trying to be present and in the moment with my current life and appreciate it for all the good there is, but the lines keep getting blurred.

I recently changed several framed pictures on the walls. I took out a wedding photo and some of Andie and me with the twins when they were infants, and replaced them with the new pictures I recently had done of me and the girls together. My mom cried when she first noticed that the old pictures were gone. I cried then too because it’s all still so remarkably sad. But I justify it to myself by trying to believe that even if he were still alive I would’ve changed photos from when they were infants to more current ones. This doesn’t assuage the pain too much though.

This weekend I gave our dog away. The one I bought Andie for our one year wedding anniversary. I just was not able to keep up with the demands of an active dog anymore, and wanted him to be in a good home where he would get the attention he deserved. It was so hard to think of letting go of our first “baby”. So many memories returned that reminded me how innocent and na├»ve I was about life. How I never thought our dog would outlive my husband. How I never really thought our lives would be anything but mundane and normal. We would have a dog, a couple of kids, build a house, and be happy. I was reminded of the time when Andie’s best friend’s daughter was caught drinking out of the dog dish in our backyard, I think she was less than 2 years old then… I am saddened because I essentially don’t have contact with these friends anymore due to a minor conflict we had on the one year anniversary of Andie’s death. And though I apologized for my overly emotional behavior, (which I would’ve thought would be forgiven given the heightened emotional state of that day), and though I tried several times after that to reach out to them, I barely have contact with this couple. I hear from the husband through text messages on holidays, but the wife has not spoken to me since she emailed me the day after and said she was too upset to discuss the issue. That was 9 months ago. The dog is gone. The friends are gone. There is not one part of my life that has not been touched by his death and irrevocably changed because of it.

So I let go of our dog and wished him well to a better place, trying to believe that Andie is in a better place too. Hoping that it is true for both of them. And later in the day I had a wonderful afternoon at the river with this man who has become so special to me. We went to the homeowner’s park on the river where I have membership because of the land Andie and I bought together. Where we dreamed of building a home to raise our family. The dreams of Andie and I building our home there and raising our family are gone, to be replaced now with new dreams and new plans…I will build a home there by myself now. And I have to raise our children in a different way than I expected, creating a new idea of what family is...


My boyfriend and I had a picnic, and walked along the river and fished, and spent some quality time together. It was peaceful, and calm, and happy.  As we were walking to the car he made a comment about the river park being a place where some great memories could be made together... “picture memories” were the actual words he used. I smiled at the thought of he and I creating new memories together.
 
The juxtaposition of all these old memories fading away and new ones being made to replace them seems surreal. It’s like two watercolors mixing…the lines blur and they seep into each other becoming a different color altogether. Changing the original state of both irrevocably.

That is how it feels for me now. The old and the new being mixed together, the lines blurring, and in doing so irrevocably changing what has been...and what will be.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Subscribe now!

The blog is now available for subsription on your Kindle device! Get up to date posts sent directly to your Kindle and keep up with how me and the girls are doing from anywhere!

Click here to subscribe through amazon.com
Subscribe now!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012




The stakes are high and the water is rough...but it's all worth it when you can lay down at night and be at peace with yourself. And more importantly it's all worth it when you know the one watching over you is at peace too.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The release of Push in paperback is here!




The paperback version of Push is now available!

You can purchase here: CreateSpace.com


Or here: Amazon.com


A Kindle version will be formatted and available in several weeks.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This place

Source: facebook.com


This is the place where I still feel Andie's presence. This is the place where I still talk to him and I know he hears me. This is the place where for just a second my life is still the same as it always was. This is the place of dreams...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Limbo

Before Andie died there weren't so many questions. Things were relatively permanent. I was married to this man. I would raise these kids. We would live in this town. Our kids would go to these schools. We would stay in these jobs.

Now everything feels so in limbo. One piece of the puzzle missing dramatically alters the whole picture. I keep up with the other widows who started this journey about the same time I did. We are all in limbo. Some are in new relationships, some are engaged, some are merging new families and becoming step-parents, some have moved homes, some have changed jobs. Some have done more than one of these things. Some have done none.

It is hard to have your life pretty well mapped out only to find yourself in uncharted territory without a compass. It is hard to make sense of this feeling; exhilarated about a second chance and new options while profoundly sad that none of it is what you ever really wanted. I suspect that like me, they too have some anxiety about it all. Longing for the ease and normalcy that comes when you think you know how it all will work out.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2nd Annual Triple A 5k

(**I know the logo says 1st annual still...I just haven't had time to edit it!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Keep me in the Top 25!

Only a few days left for voting...please keep me in the Top 25!  Just click on the button below then hit the "vote" button next to my blog on the list.  Thanks so much!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tell me lies...

I was just saying to someone the other day how strange my life feels.  How quickly all of it seems to be flying by...as though what time I had with Andie was really only a dream.  It's hard to grasp that I built a life with someone and now it has all just vanished.  If I didn't have my girls as tangible proof that he and I existed as a unit together I would go mad not really believing that any of it really happened at all.  Even looking at Addie smiling in the rearview mirror this morning on the way to school I struggled to see that she resembles him.  I was trying to see what everyone else sees but it has been so long since I've actually seen his face, and the girls have changed so much in that time that I barely see the connection anymore.  They are becoming their own selves more and more each day. Slipping even further from him as they come to look more feminine and less babyish. 

I came across this quote the other day:
"Life asked death,
'Why do people love me and hate you?'
Death responded, 'Because you are a beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.'"

It does really seem that way some days...that all the great and good was really just a lie, an illusion, a phantom-like dream and reality never really hit me until the day he died. The truth being that none of it really lasts as long as we want it to. Now that I am trying to move on and enjoy life again I wonder if I'm just telling myself sweet little lies about how good it can be or will be...nervous about when the truth will strike again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I've been nominated...

My blog has been nominated to be in the Top 25 Moms with Inspiring Families - 2012 list on Circle of Moms!

I'd love to have your vote to get into the Top 25 to be featured on the Circle of Moms website where my blog will reach more and more readers each day!  

To help me out, click the badge below, or at the top of my page...when you get to the site scroll down to find my blog then click the "thumbs up" button next to my blog to vote.  You can vote up to one time per day. Pretty simple!   Thanks for all your support!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Answers...

We do cuddles on the couch every night before bed and as we walk to their room we say goodnight to a picture of Daddy and ask him to bring us sweet dreams. Usually the girls kiss the picture and say "night night Daddy". We've always done this ritual despite the fact that he is really only an abstract being to them. I have always felt it was important for them to know him in some sense, even if it's just in pictures.

Over the weekend while we were doing cuddles on the couch Addie blurted out, "I need daddy." I didn't really know how to respond at first and she said it again, to which I replied, "I know baby, I need daddy too." She seemed content for a few minutes but then kept on saying she needed him in a yearning way. I don't know what prompted it. I asked her if she wanted to go see his picture and give it kisses, but that would not appease her. Then she went down the list of her favorite people as she often does, and asked if they were coming over.
"Is Shay Shay coming?" I tell her no.
"Is grandma Coco coming?" I tell her no.
"Is Daddy coming?" No, he's not coming either.

I put her to bed and spiraled into a dark place. A place I have not been for many months. The kind of pain that literally hurts in your chest and takes your breath away. There is no pain as great as that you feel for your own children when there is absolutely nothing you can do to ease theirs. When there are questions to which you have no decent answer. Nothing makes you feel more inadequate.

He is on her mind a lot these days. Later in the weekend she drew a picture and said she wanted to show it to him. Today when I picked her up from school she pulled out a piece Valentine artwork she made and said she wanted to show him that too. Then on the drive home she handed me a piece of paper from her school folder and said it was "for Daddy".

I knew the day would come that they would have questions, or would realize that they are different in that they don't have a father in the way other children do...I just didn't think it would be so soon. I know this is something that will continually come up over the years as they hit each new developmental stage and begin to understand his absence in different ways. I just hope the answers start to come a little easier...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Live for now

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but the live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." - Buddha

One thing I am grateful for in this process of loss is how it has forced me to discover the real me. It has forced me to understand that life is fleeting and I want to enjoy the rest of mine as much as possible. I want to feel alive and excited about my future. It has forced me to see that spontaneity and having fun is actually okay, I don't have to carefully and meticulously plan my life so as to always be the "responsible" one. It has shown me that it's okay to make mistakes, it's okay to do things my way and not care so much about what others think, and it's okay to take risks. I've learned so much about myself in the past year and a half.  Grief has taught me to take an honest look at who I am and what I believe in.  It has made me more aware of what is truly important to me.

Some of you may remember that not long after Andie died I briefly, but seriously considered packing up and moving to Costa Rica for a year. I had the sudden urge to flee everything I had ever known and start over. I wanted to not take one more minute for granted and wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to do something fun, and exhilarating, and crazy.

Well, while I am not moving to Costa Rica permanently, I have rented a house there for a month this summer. I want my girls to have fun childhood memories to look back on. I want them to remember the mother as someone who enjoyed life, and really lived. I have made a promise to myself that every summer we will travel somewhere fun, and exciting, and to a place where they can learn about the world and a different culture.

I've also decided to get a tattoo. Something Andie would totally be against. But that's okay, because I've decided to get the tattoo for me. I haven't completely decided on the design yet but it will be something in honor of him. I'm sure it will incorporate my mantra "Push" to remind to always keep pushing.

Keep pushing the boundaries of my comfort level.

Keep pushing myself to grow as a person.

Keep pushing myself to move forward and live authentically for me.

Just keep pushing...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Push me...

This is hard
This is hard
This is hard
This seems to be the refrain running through my mind most of the time these days. Aspects of my grief are being brought out daily as each new day is a new experience with someone new and I am constantly reconciling the new with the old. Constantly readjusting my focus. Constantly experiencing happiness and joy with the underlying tinge of sadness that this isn’t really how it was all supposed to turn out. The tears come so easy these days. Quick and hot on my cheeks. I am not the tough, strong girl I used to be. I allow myself to be more in touch with my emotions these days but it hurts. I question whether I am really ready to be in another relationship yet if I feel so emotional about all of this. But the answer is that you’re never really ready- no matter when it happens all of these issues will bubble up and you have to endure to move past it.

I thought I had gotten to a place of calm functioning with my grief. I was not doubled over in pain every day anymore. I could make it several days in a row sometimes weeks without crying. So to have it all brought back out and on the surface again feels doubly painful and confusing. How could something that makes me so happy bring me so much heartache. All I can think is…
No, I’m not going back here.
I was past this.
I don’t want to feel this again.

But I have to. You cannot know how grief will color and overshadow everything you do for the rest of your life until you walk into each and every new experience. You cannot prepare yourself for how it will feel to fall in love with someone else until it starts happening. And it hurts because you grieve all over again for the loss of the one you once loved. You can’t begin to understand how it will feel to have another person literally in his place at the table, sitting beside you in church, and holding the children, until you see it happening.

Being with someone new and trying to put all of my trust in them to be there for me only reignites my abandonment issues. The two most important men in my life both died suddenly and unexpectedly… my father when I was 15, and 15 years later it was my husband. The fear of that kind of loss happening again is paralyzing. I simply could not manage to pick myself back up from that kind of devastation.

I don’t want to revisit the pain so it seems easier to run from it. I think about sabotaging what I have in this new relationship and I even give it a pretty good effort, but in the end can’t bring myself to walk away from this incredible man who is so freaking understanding of it all. Who wants to help me heal and wants to be beside me in the process to support me through it. And as he reminds me, I could put this off but inevitably I will be with someone someday and all of this will come out again. Pay now or pay later.

So in pushing him away I’m really acting out of self-preservation but in doing so then I stay stuck. This is when I need someone to push me. To be behind me and say it’s all going to be okay and I will survive this. And he does. He does so with such dignity and gentle encouragement that I can’t help but believe him.
So I’ll continue to let him push me.
But damn it hurts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Opening back up...

I am writing again these days and it feels good. It's almost like exercising after a long break. It hurts to do it but you know you should, and when you're done you feel proud, and lighter, and better for it.

I took some time off because frankly I was tired of grieving. Tired of hurting. Tired of exposing my inner most thoughts and feelings to the world. I quit reading other widow blogs for a while too. Staying connected to this circle of loss felt too heavy and depressing. I needed to nurse my own wounds for a while and protect myself after having been so exposed for so long. I needed to focus on happy things and moving forward. I needed to force myself to have some fun and look towards the future. And I did those things, I continue to do those things, but I still continue to grieve as well.

So I'm back now. Back to writing. Back to following others. Back to processing some of which I purposely avoided for a while. I usually am not inspired to write unless it comes from a place of pain, anxiety, or the need to process the many sides of grief. I find that coming back to this circle is like a warm blanket. I read other blogs and again am wrapped in the comfort of relating to their words. I am cocooned in safety because there is in fact someone else out there who I can relate to. I find that writing and sharing in this format is cathartic and healing.


A lot has happened over the past few months in which I have chosen not to share every detail of my life as I once did before. I have found that some things are worth protecting and keeping private. But I'm ready to let you all in again on how my life is shaping up, but more importantly I'm ready to open myself up to the support you all give me.


The journey of grief never ends and as my life continues I find it only gets more interesting and complicated. Each new step I take in moving forward has to be reconciled with the person I used to be and the life I used to have. The struggles now are not so much about accepting that he is gone (I get that part.  I live every day without his presence), but about accepting that he won't ever be here again, which actually are two very different things.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Take a step...

“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

This process is a constant struggle of moving forward and letting go. And in the moments where I’m forced to recognize that I have to let go a little bit more I get scared and emotional.

I can’t believe that it was almost 2 years ago already that Andie and I bought the land to build our dream house on. And almost a year ago that I did the consultation with the builder about how to site the house and what trees to clear off the land. A year ago I thought I was ready to jump in full force and build the house. But after that consultation I got scared again because moving forward and building the house we had planned without him felt like too much to take on by myself at the time. So I put the project on hold for a while.

But I’m feeling the itch again…there is so much I’ve had to let go of since he died. I’ve let go of the title of “wife” and given up the idea of having more children. I’ve lost the dream of reaching a 50th wedding anniversary with someone and traveling to all the destinations we said we’d go to for each decade we made it through. I’ve had to let go of the life we worked hard to establish, the friends we had as a couple, the dreams we had together. I’ve had to rebuild a new circle of friends, a new way of life as a single parent, and I’ve had to create my own dreams about how my future will look without him in it. And every step of it has been painful and heartbreaking.

But the house is the one last thing we had together that I just can’t let go of. I want to build the house to fulfill something we had. I want to build it as a way to honor him, to acknowledge that while my life has to go on without him, there are still parts of him and what we had that I don’t have to give up. Moving on doesn’t have to mean letting go of everything. And it doesn’t mean forgetting him. I think that’s what I’ve been afraid of. That if I move on, his memory and his legacy will be forgotten over time. I don’t want him to just fade away.

I’ve struggled with how to keep him as a part of my daily life while building a new normal for me and the girls. I still think of him throughout the day, and most nights I talk to him before I say my prayers and fall asleep. And what I’m realizing is that I can mesh the life I had with the one I want to create. I don’t have to give up one to have the other. And more importantly, I can do all this at whatever pace I want to set. If I wait until I’m “done” grieving I’ll never move forward. Cause the truth is, I’ll never be done and it’s not fair to me or the girls for me to stay stuck in this place of pain just because I’m scared.

So I’m going to move forward in the direction of building our house.
Only, I’m going to have to do it by myself.
I just have to take the first step...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Throw momma from the train...

Last night I freaked out. Totally, overboard, off my rocker, freaked out. I’ve been in this relationship for about four months. Long enough for us to discuss the future and see ourselves together in it. Long enough for it be (in my crazy head) time to be making out a timeline of when things might happen. I don’t do well with unknowns. I think this is something a lot of widows struggle with, especially when the loss was sudden and felt out of our control. We want to control everything else so we don’t ever have to be blindsided again. But, I readily acknowledge that this is also just part of who I am at the core. I like plans. And goals. And knowing what’s around the bend and what I’m up against. The problem is there are a lot of uncertainties in both of our lives right now that can’t be rushed. And it’s not that I want to rush it. It’s just that I want to know a general idea of how it might all play out.

This stems from my insecurity and fear of loss and abandonment, I know. I worry about letting my guard down, giving someone my heart, and possibly getting hurt again or God forbid, going through loss again. Some days it seems it would be easier to stick to what I’ve got. It’s not the most fulfilling, but at least it’s what I know and I’m comfortable with it. I’ve spent 19 months doing it my way, on my own, without anybody else’s input. It’s hard to think about letting someone else in on the routine, into my space, into my head, and mostly into my heart. Relationships of course take lots of compromise and I haven’t had to compromise for quite a while. Change brings disequilibrium. I want my equilibrium back.

So I started freaking out. Maybe this really isn’t what I want. Or maybe I want to rush it too fast and jump into something before I’ve given it due time- I worry this will scare him away. What if I’m making a huge mistake? What if we disappoint each other and get hurt in the process? What if, what if, what if…

I feel like I’m on a train that’s headed to a great destination. Or so I think. The problem is I can’t see what’s around the bend. I can’t tell if we’re gonna crash and I’m gonna get hurt. So maybe I should just jump. But that’ll hurt too…so I have to hedge my bets. I’ll definitely get hurt if I bail out now and lose such a great man. And I might get hurt if we go around the bend and there’s an obstacle in the tracks. Maybe if I continue to be this difficult, and overanalyze and worry too much about things that are out of my control it’s going to push him away and he’ll actually end up throwing me from the train. Or maybe, with a stroke of luck I’ll round the bend and utopia will be waiting for me. Only time will tell. A concept I despise.

When I share all of this with him he is the epitomy of perfect. He listens, reassures, empathizes, and validates. I’ll spare you the “he said”, “she said” of it all, but I will tell you that after he hears my neurotic and over-analytical musings, he says something to me that strikes me deep inside. He saw right through me and called me on it. Not in a bad way, in a way that showed me that he understands how my mind works maybe as well as I do. He’s only known me 4 short months and already understands how I think, how I feel, how I process in ways that only my best friend understands. He’s got an intuitive sense about what I need from him on an emotional level and isn't afraid to provide it. He truly gets me in a way that nobody ever has and it shocked me. My normal course of action would be to dodge and weave when I feel like someone’s seen all my cards, to divert the attention to something else. But all I could do was acknowledge that he was right. That he hit it square on. And it felt so good to let someone see me for me, and know they still accept me that way.

So when I tell him that I feel like jumping from the train and calling it quits to save us both pain down the road, he says he’s not letting me jump.

He’s holding on tight and gonna keep me safe.

And the cool thing is...I actually believe him. :)

Fall-Winter 2011

Click here to view these pictures larger

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Co-parenting?!?!?

The daycare called me today and said they wanted to run and idea by me. They wanted to see how I felt about separating the girls and allowing Addie to move up to the next class. She is now potty-trained, and developmentally and cognitively ready to be challenged a bit more. Allie is not yet potty-trained (one of the requirements to move up), and her language is still a tad bit behind Addie's so she's not quite ready. I obviously have mixed feelings about this. It's a BIG decision in the twin world, whether or not to separate the kids, and especially when they are this young.


Later in the day, I ran all this by "the boyfriend" (sounds so silly at this age to say boyfriend). He listens as I explain what the daycare told me and then is silent. "Do you have an opinion?" I ask. "Yes." he replies. I wait through a long pause before saying, "Well, are you gonna share it with me?". He smiles and begins to talk. We discuss the topic, both offering opinions on the matter, discussing the pros and cons for each girl, and come to the conclusion that I should let Addie move up. It's not fair to hold her back from progress just to be with Allie, and furthermore, Allie can move up as soon as she's potty trained. Plus it may afford them some independence and help them not be so nit picky with each other in the evenings if they haven't spent the entire day together at school.


As he and I are discussing this, a HUGE realization hits me...actually several realizations hit me.

1. The first being that it is so surreal to be talking to another man about my children as though they are his. Asking for his input and advice as though we are co-parenting. Actually it's weird to be talking to anyone about major parenting decisions. My normal course of action is to make the decision myself then talk it over with those I trust to see if they agree...never I have done the reverse to try to come to a joint conclusion. I never got the opportunity to discuss a parenting dilemma with Andie- he was gone before any major decisions had to be made for them.

2. I realize that I have made a HUGE step in the trust department if I was actually willing to let my guard down and consult him in this manner instead of doing it all myself as a single parent. It was such a relief to include someone else in the decision making instead of shouldering the pressure and burden alone. More and more I realize I am letting him into my private world and it actually feels good. I want to share the load with someone. I'm really comfortable with it. And so is he.


I share all of this with him...that I think it is a big step for me to include him in this discussion rather than just make the decision myself as it shows that I am opening up and trusting more....he says he knows this already which is why he chose not to offer his opinion in the beginning until I specifically asked him for it.


That's when realization 3 hits me...this guy really gets me and understands how I tick. He knows me so well that he knew he couldn't cross that boundary with me until I offered the invitation. He respects the limits I have and doesn't push me outside my comfort zone. He just supports me where I am at the moment.


That is a level of trust, communication, and respect that I am proud to have in my life, and excited to have in my relationship. I guess this one's gonna be a keeper. ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fill the hole...

I’m halfway through the second year. I still can’t believe that much time has passed already. They say the second year is harder and in some ways I completely agree. There are still so many little things that are like a slap in the face and remind me that the life I had is gone.

The other day I was filling out some paperwork and the marital status section didn’t have “widow” as an option. I used to hate checking the “widow” box but this time I felt incensed that I didn’t get the choice. I am not married. I am not single. I am not divorced. I do not identify with any of these and I felt irritated that “half of me was unexpectedly stripped away without my consent” wasn’t an option. So I scrawled “widow” in and moved on.

I also had to fill out some medical information sheets for the girls. I got to the parent information section and under “father” I write “deceased”. The next half of the page remaining blank because I do not need to fill in his address, contact information, insurance data, place of employment or any other mundane detail about him that no longer exists. The blank page staring back at me is like a metaphor for my life…everything is going just fine and then there’s a big blank spot all of a sudden where he is just not there anymore. Like the moments when the girls do something remarkable or funny and I think, “Andie needs to see this,” but of course he doesn’t because he’s just not there.

I got my yearly renewal policy for my home owner’s and auto insurance in the mail. I open it and see that they hadn’t dropped his name off of the documents even though I called them months ago to rectify this situation. I call and re-explain that he died and it is just me now. They are embarrassed for the mistake and offer condolences. I find myself trying to make the lady on the phone feel better because she feels so bad. This happens often…I find myself saying in these situations, “No really, it’s okay.”

I get some form in the mail from Social Security that wants me to document how I’ve spent the benefits I receive for the girls. Frankly, I feel it’s none of their business. Parents receiving child support don’t have to answer to anyone regarding how they spend their money…why does the government have the right to pry into my life in such a manner? The money he earned and contributed to Social Security is rightfully mine to do what I want with it… though of course if they must know I spend it on exorbitant child care costs consisting of both daycare and a nanny in the mornings to get the girls off to school because I can’t manage to do the carpool by myself and still get to work on time. I spend it on food, clothing, medical care, and shelter for my children- things they need to survive. I spend it on family vacations in the hopes that I can create some happy childhood memories for them. I spend it on maintaining some semblance of a normal life for them.

I struggle with this hole in my life, this absence of him, this blank page to fill. On one hand I’m sick of having these little moments keep bubbling up to remind me of what I’ve been through. But on the other hand I don’t want the alternative, which is to fill the spot, to check a different box, to let go...

The dilemma of wanting my children to experience a family unit and have a father figure versus wanting to eternally preserve this sacred spot for him and not allow someone else to fill that role is almost a constant struggle. It’s hard to let my guard down and imagine that I could love someone like that again and run the risk of going through all this for a second time…

But I'm learning to let someone new in, and each day a piece of that wall comes down and I see the hope and joy of what it could be like to actually fill the hole...