Anyone who worked with Michael or who saw Michael coming or going from work knows that he had some beautiful dress clothes. I dressed him well. ❤ He always liked to look his best and he wore a shirt and tie to work every single day, even if it wasn’t required.
While I won’t part with his infamous tie collection, I decided it was time to part with his work clothes so that they could be worn by others.
Hanger by hanger I went, taking the clothes off the hangers – but before I folded them for the donation box, I inserted these into every pocket. Every suit coat, every shirt pocket, every pair of dress pants. For those who weren’t at his memorial service, these were handed out. Well, I should say they were available and hardly anyone took them 😦 so I was left with a lot. And now, the next person who wears these clothes will know they were donated by a wonderful man. Maybe they’ll plant the seeds in his honor.
I only kept a few of his clothes. Got rid of all of his winter coats, and even the suit he wore at our wedding. I don’t have a use for them anymore. And I know that if they help even one person get a job or have the confidence they need to change their day, then it was worth parting with them.
The winds of change continue to blow my direction and they’re getting stronger and stronger. I’ll have more news to share soon. For today, I wanted to celebrate this tough step and pat myself on the back. This wasn’t easy. And I got through it. ❤
I have really been struggling with missing Michael lately. There is so much in front of me without him. The irony is, I wish I could turn to him right now. So many decisions. So many to-do’s. I’m so confused and lost.
I’ve been looking through photos of us. The one that everyone has seen, the one below, is on my bedroom dresser mirror and I see it many, many times a day. I was looking at it last night. I miss him so much. And in that moment I realized, I miss her too.
I miss them.
They’re both dead. 😢
This couple; they were a force. They got shit done. They worked their asses off their entire too-short lives. They did a lot of good together. They were a perfect fit for one another. They lived humbly and didn’t ask for or require much. They were happy. They loved the life they chose.
I miss everything about him but I didn’t realize how much I miss her too. I miss her humor and her edge. I miss her thick skin. I miss her wit, her resourcefulness, her confidence.
In her place is someone I don’t understand yet. Living a life I don’t quite recognize.
Do any of you use mantras? Self-affirmations? Have any key words that keep you moving?
Ever since I lost Michael, people keep telling me how strong I am. It makes me cringe, actually. I’m not strong. I’m broken. The fact that I wake up every day has nothing to do with strength. It has to do with courage.
There was a time in my life when I told myself to stay strong. When what I strived to be was strong. There have been many, many times in my life when I have been called upon to be the strong one. And perhaps I was? But here’s the thing. Back to the broken plate analogy. Every time I broke, I came back a LITTLE more fractured. A LITTLE more weakened. But I always came through in big ways when I was needed. It was a big part of who I was. Strong. Reliable. Capable.
Now, what I strive to be is brave. Every day is a battle as I face a life I never wanted, a new life that isn’t comfortable for my spirit. New energies in the house with lots of puppies and people in transition. Lots of emotions and surprise breakdowns for me.
I’m confused about what I want. I’m confused about where I want it and who I want it with. Nothing needs to be decided today, but the new me comes with a new sense of urgency to make every day count and not waste one moment being more miserable than I need to be.
My health sucks. I don’t even want to go into it. My health insurance hasn’t been decoded yet because it makes my brain hurt. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
The puppies are delightful in every way. They’re a LOT of work. I miss Michael all the time, but I really miss the groove we had when we fostered. We never had to talk about it, we just went into worker bee mode when we had litters of puppies. We knew the system, did our parts, and it was seamless! And now all of a sudden, I don’t remember any of it. When did we feed puppies? How did we separate momma? The physical care part is second nature to me, but I cannot for the life of me remember how we’ve done this in the past, so I’m stumbling through the logistics a bit. Jeni came over and took the most beautiful photos of all of them! For now, I’ll just show you this one. ❤
And this ADORABLE picture of Josie ❤
The new litter is darling. However, right when they arrived, my original litter started breaking with snotty noses and wet coughs. Luckily it proved nothing serious, but I really couldn’t ensure that cross-contamination wouldn’t happen between the litters. With so many unvaccinated puppies here, I decided that the youngest litter needed to go to Jeni’s (my Operations Manager) for their safety. My puppies are still boogery, but they seem to be improving after a few days on antibiotics.
The tinies are beagle mixes and they are SOOOOO tiny! Their eyes are just opening. I feel a little like a failure because they had to move, but I keep telling myself it’s not because I don’t love them. I love them enough to move them. Their health comes first. But man, I wish I could have them here. ❤
The loose, flailing hose is still a really accurate description of my life. I’m working very hard at staying centered and grounded. I’m doing a PRETTY good job of it. If I could describe what an emotion LOOKS like, I visualize my grief/ my reality/ my LIFE as if I am standing at the ocean’s edge facing a wave that is rising in the distance. As it approaches, it becomes so huge and overwhelming that it terrifies me. I feel my feet dig deeper into the sand as it rises in front of me, preparing for it to envelop me and pull me back out into the ocean, pushing me deeper and deeper as it does. And for some reason, I don’t make any effort to escape it. I don’t turn and run to the shore. I brace myself as if I know this is something I must do. I know I might die. But I know I have to stand. The wave crashes over me hard. It takes me down and I feel like I’m gulping down massive amounts of water. I can’t make sense of up or down. I don’t know where the surface of the water is. I don’t see anything, I just let the water take me. But instinct kicks in and I swim. And somehow, I make it through that wave. It beat the shit out of me. I’m choking up water and gasping for air, treading water and just looking back at that wave in disbelief. I’m exhausted. Weak. Disoriented. But I was brave. I faced it. Woohoo! And as I turn, I see it. Another wave on the horizon.
And so it goes. Grieving what should have been but what will never be. Missing a man I will never see again. Yes, I’m living. No, I’m not stuck. I just miss him and I’ll never be the strong woman I was.
I haven’t written much. Been in a funk of epic proportions. Been going through some stuff at home, stuff with my health, stuff in my mind, stuff in my heart. Going through the motions, attending appointments, and adulting as best as I can. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But I’m considering every sun that sets a victory.
So, what can I update you on. I guess I’ll start with my health. Neuro appointment today. She doesn’t think it’s MS but won’t rule it out. My MRI shows significant degeneration in my mid spine. I also have a new diagnosis of carpal tunnel and a new diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy. Both are caused by the RA and both are painful and difficult to deal with. Basically, it feels like my nerves and my bones are collapsing little by little. My RA is unchanged. I’m still not on Xeljanz because of nightmare-y insurance issues. I’m trying to navigate new insurance that is provided by the State of MN or Hennepin County or something. I really don’t understand it all. It’s like reading a foreign language and I don’t know which way is up. This is a combination of widow’s fog and whatever neuro condition is happening. My short-term memory is fried and my cognitive skills are fried. Anyway, I have insurance but I don’t understand it, so it appears I’m the holdup with the correct drugs getting into my hands.
In life news: I lost my small claims suit, so MBB Construction essentially got away with ruining my floors, my life, and my bank account during a time when I was losing the love of my life. C’est la vie. I’ve let it go.
I’ve been doing lots and lots of serious thinking about my path, my life, my future, my truths, myself. This tsunami is far from over, and it’s been an immensely painful experience so far. But I can say this: I have an inner peace that is untouchable. I also have knowledge that I wish I didn’t have about relationships and people in my life, but they are still truths. I know SO MUCH truth. I live in truth, I speak the truth, and I am not afraid of any truth. Nothing can hurt me any more. You can’t break what’s already broken. This new truth and knowledge for me, represents pain and freedom all at once. And it all comes back to this. Words mean nothing. Actions speak everything.
When people SHOW you who they are or what they care about, believe them.
There will be some significant changes in my life very soon. I’m reaching a crossroads and I’m getting signs from something bigger than myself. I had been ignoring those signs or reasoning them away, but I can no longer ignore them. The winds of change are swirling, and Michael is behind them. I hear him and I feel him. And I know I’m headed in the right direction.
Which brings me to the theme of my life right now. I found it as a meme, and loved it so much I wrote it on my mirror.
I guess that’s the slow change I’m feeling. Aspiring. To anything. I used to just hope I’d make it through the day without killing myself. Now, I am looking at the life in front of me as though it may actually happen. It’s not a life I wanted, never a life I would have chosen. But it’s the life that’s been handed to me. I’m feeling some fight come back. I’m starting to care. I’m redefining what I want. And most of all, at the very front of my mind and my heart is my HUSBAND. Michael is HERE. With me. Guiding me, steering, gently nudging me towards some things and away from others. Towards some people and away from others. He’s become by conscience, my compass, my guiding star. And I KNOW that if nothing else, as of this very moment he is proud of me. I’ll keep living my life to make him proud until I find my own motivation. For now, that’s enough to keep me looking forward in his name.
I’ll make him proud. ❤
PS – here are the puppies of Michael’s litter! Seven puppies keeping things VERY busy at the casa: Murphy Ivy Clover Hannah Aster Emerson Landon
Josie, the puppy’s mom, is after Michael’s middle name Joseph. ❤
Puppies…we have one sick puppy. She started to “crash” a couple of days ago. I didn’t take any chances and took her to the vet. She is full of hookworms (these suck blood like a vampire and can, and do, kill puppies 😥 ) and has an upper respiratory infection. We’ve sent bloodwork out to test for more serious conditions, and that will come in mid-week next week. If it IS indeed a serious issue, we will know before that, though – because the other puppies will start crashing over the weekend, too. So it’s a lot of puppy watch right now. Other than this stressful sitch, the puppies have been WONDERFUL and SO GOOD for me. This is my element.
Stress: Besides being worried about my little family, omg the stress is overwhelming. Health insurance and prescriptions are killing me right now. In the past two days I have spent $1000 I literally don’t have on TWO medications. TWO. Medications. TWO. There’s a lot of confusion about my coverage, trying to get help from MN and Hennepin County, trying to figure out when that help starts and if I’m in limbo. It’s been seriously something that I feel requires someone knowledgeable with this shit to help me maneuver. You know, like my husband.
Physically, let’s not talk about that today. I’m in bad shape.
Emotionally, let’s not talk about that today. I’m in bad shape.
Financially, let’s talk about that today. I’m in bad shape. I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul and I see my credit score hitting the toilet. Damn you, Credit Karma, for your instant access to my declining credit scores. Damn you, universe, for fucking up my life. Fucking up my credit, my health, my happiness. Just, fuck you.
And since I’m in a mood – can we talk about grief words and terms that make me hostile? Can I educate you so that you know what trigger words NOT to use with your grieving friends? The worst part? Most of these are spoken by so-called grief experts.
The most hated words (so far) post-Michael:
Journey. Um, this isn’t a fucking journey. It’s torture. I’m not on a journey of grief. I’m not journeying through the pain. I’m enduring, existing, breathing. A journey indicates some sort of end result, some sort of adventure, some sort of pleasantry. Don’t call my process a journey. To do so is an insult to journeys and to the band Journey.
Blessed. What? Shut up. That’s all I’m saying about this.
“He Would Want(fill in the blank to whatever it is that makes you feel less shitty about me and makes you feel better so you don’t have to worry)”. You know what? You don’t know what he would want. I do. He would want me to stand in my truth and experience every feel I’m experiencing. Don’t tell a grieving spouse that their mate would want them to be happy. Would want them to smile. Would want them to live their lives. The man I loved and who loved me, would want me to be true to this process and feel whatever I need to feel, when I need to feel it.
“You’re not alone”. We’ve covered this in the past. Just, don’t.
“It’s not fair”. This makes me rage-y. Since when has life been fair? Who expected fair? How old are you that fair is in your vocabulary or expectation set?
Five Stages of Grief: STOP. It has been PROVEN that the stages of grief were written for the DYING, not the GRIEVING left behind. WHY do we keep referring to these stages, or trying to make something a griever is feeling fit into one of these stages? The stages are a LIE. They are for the dying. I can attest to that as I’ve been bedside with three dying humans in recent years. I can see the stages very clearly as they walk through them. Grieving the love of your life does NOT follow a neat and tidy schedule of stages. It’s messy. It’s all over the place. It’s painful. It’s core-shaking. It’s dark. It’s hopeless. It’s manic. It’s depressed. It’s pathetic. It’s empowering. It’s lonely. It’s sad. It’s indescribable. It DOESN’T FIT INTO STAGES. STOP with the stages. Here is one of COUNTLESS articles stating the origins of the Five Stages, and here’s a QUOTE from ONE of MANY articles:
“But would you be surprised to learn that this theory was based on interviews with terminally ill patients, not with people who lost a loved one? That it originally described how people deal with their own impending deaths? That Kübler-Ross’s theory has never been validated by one single study?”
So, I suppose I’ve imparted enough sunshine on you for today. Thank you for reading if you are. I’m sorry this isn’t a zen, kumbaya post. It’s just another day in the life.
That seems to be the theme lately, as I trudge through the tasks that I don’t want to do or face days I don’t want to face.
Today in particular, I survived the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death, more ass-kicking and back-breaking snow removal, and small claims court.
The easiest of those three was court. The contractor didn’t show up, so I just presented my case. The judge asked lots of questions, and told me I’d receive the decision by mail. That’s the one thing that’s different than all the judge shows. You don’t get a verdict on the spot! I have NO idea how long it takes to receive the decision.
The amount of snow is hard to describe to those who aren’t here experiencing it. Walking through my front and back yards to use the roof rake, the snow was up to my butt. Not drifts. Just snowfall.
It almost did me in mentally the other day. I just wanted to sell the damn house and leave this god forsaken tundra. But I came off the ledge and I know that I will also survive this.
And finally, one year ago today I lost my dad. It’s sad for lots of reasons, one of which is that is really brings Michael up for me. He was such a solid stabilizing force in my life a year ago when I needed him. I can’t believe all that’s happened. I can’t believe all I have survived.
In other news, as if we weren’t going through enough already, this week we welcomed a sweet foster dog and her seven brand new puppies. 🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶For your viewing pleasure:
And for your ongoing productivity killer you can also see the babies on live puppycam here. Seriously, check it out. It’s pure and true and present.
Before you roll your eyes, let me remind you that if you’re rolling your eyes, you really don’t know me at all. This is my church. This is my therapy. It helps me and gives me purpose. Josie is an amazingly sweet dog and a great momma to her SEVEN adorable little puppies. Their eyes are just starting to open. It’s been just what I needed, when I needed it. My sister is super helpful and is up for the challenge so it’s been really good to have them here.
The roommate situation is still going well. My sister is facing some homesickness. Understandably so; she was in CO her whole life, oh and MN absolutely sucks right now. I’d be homesick too if I had a home or roots someplace.
In widow stuff, I’ve been going to therapy more (except this last week because of weather). I haven’t been doing a good job of taking time out each day to meditate or process anything. I recognize this and will make efforts to change it. I’ve joined a couple of online support groups and I’ll be trying an in-person support group soon. Nothing is easier at all. All the passing of time does is make you more used to the loneliness, hopelessness, and emptiness. I guess getting used to it could be called getting easier. Not by me, but by someone. I’m very easily overwhelmed lately and my panic attacks are increasing.
As I sign off, I leave you with true words spoken by speaker, writer, and widow Kelley Lynn. More insight into the life and the loss we face.
Last time I wrote, I shared with you the immense struggles I was having. It’s been a while since that last post; my brain and my thoughts and my life are going in circles.
Two Words: Polar Vortex. This cold hurts my joints and my body so, so much. The lack of sunshine, the homebound-ness of it, the depression that accompanies the harsh, extreme conditions; it’s just shit icing on the shit cake. I realize that for someone with my physical condition, living in the coldest fucking state in the country, um sometimes colder than MARS for fucks sake, is probably not the path to my personal happiness. But all in due time.
Not much has changed and everything has changed all at once. My sister has arrived and that’s going very well so far. However, this also takes me further away from the life I loved with Michael and closer to a life that I no longer recognize as my own. I feel like a passenger on this planet, and that’s not a cool feeling to me. It’s not a feeling I’m comfortable with, or a feeling I want to settle in to. I don’t like feeling like I’m a victim to the circumstances around me, or that life is “happening” to me. My method is always to push through and gain control of my own situation. I’ve always landed on my feet. Not this time. Not yet.
The newness of roommate living hasn’t been hard for me, at least not yet. Living with my daughter has been challenging for us both, and it’s brought a level of pain and drama to my life that is damaging to my healing and my process. I’m continually working on myself: working on my patience, my empathy, and choosing my battles. That’s all I can say about it right now.
When I really watch my thoughts and look inside, I find myself consumed with fear. I’m afraid to live without him. I’m afraid because I can’t afford to survive. I’m afraid of the physical pain I feel. I’m afraid of moving forward. I’m afraid of staying stuck. I’m afraid because I don’t know what I want or how I want to live, or with whom, or where, or what I want to do. I’m also afraid to move on and lose the connection, however slim, I have with Michael.
I try to say his name out loud as much as possible. Many, many times a day. I talk about him all the time. I don’t know if people are cool with that or not, but it’s how I choose to live. I choose to still love him with all of my being, and I choose to think that we still have a relationship; it’s just across planes of existence now rather than being a physically present relationship.
I’ve decided against inpatient treatment for now, anyway. I’ve increased my therapy sessions to twice per week. I’m actively seeking groups. A new friend who has a passion and a ton of knowledge about mental health issues turned me onto some resources. Another friend who works in mental health helped me choose a reputable facility if I DO decide to go inpatient. I’m getting better at protecting my process and making this journey through hell my priority. I know things will never look better or feel better if I don’t walk through it. And I’m going to protect my right and my need to process things in my way and in my time. Many people don’t understand that, and that’s okay. Not one person has said a word to me to make me feel pressured. They don’t say it, but I feel as though they expect me to be over the worst of it and in the same brain space I was before all of this happened. Many treat me exactly the way they did before, not understanding that I might look and sound the same (well I don’t look the same – I look like hell all the time), but my brain and my personality are very different now and without realizing that I’m still very much in mental limbo, evolving and changing all the time.
Having my sister here has helped with some of the depression, as I’m not alone with my thoughts as much as I was before. It’s also helped tremendously in the physical department, as she’s so, so helpful at home. She shovels and I snow-blow. I could never do this alone. Physically I just am not able to function in the extreme cold we were having, and I seriously could NEVER have gotten through these 512 feet of snow (give or take) without her. She has two ADORABLE doggies and all of our dogs have integrated so nicely. We’re making meals and having dinners together. I’m able to take naps when I need them because I’m still not sleeping at night. We’re watching stupid movies and laughing until we cry. It’s been good medicine for us both. ❤
I’m working pretty consistently. Planning rescue runs, working marketing, fundraising, relationships, etc. I was supposed to get a foster dog this weekend, a pregnant momma dog <3! But, the weather postponed her transport. ☹ Hopefully, she will be arriving soon. This weather is just a bitch. And it stinks because I was SO ready for little babies. Soon, I hope.
Medical stuff: No change. Neurologist ordered an EEG (already done) and a thoracic MRI (scheduled today but um….WEATHER so I need to reschedule). Then she’ll have a direction to go with the neuro stuff. RA biologic meds are still not approved so no changes there, except that it’s been excruciating in the severe cold. Spinal stuff is all on hold because of the auto-immune stuff, so it’s just a cycle. Everything hurts. My kingdom for a refillable Rx of Vicodin!
So, that’s my update. One foot in front of the other, trying my best to take care of myself, trying to find joy, trying to ignore where I live this month, taking one moment at a time. I miss him. ❤