“Home” is where the soul is

I landed in MN tonight. The trip was nice because I used my miles to upgrade and had nice wide seats and good food. My friend picked me up at the airport in the Good Karma Subaru, we dropped her off and I came to the house. I got here a little after midnight.

Landing in Minneapolis always takes me back to the early part of our relationship when Michael and I were long-distance. I’d fly to MN one weekend a month, he would fly to CA one weekend a month so we spent every other weekend together for over a year. It always makes my heart hurt flying in.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel walking into this house. But walking in was extremely…uneventful. It triggered no emotion. It was just bizarre. Like looking through a museum or walking into the past. It’s only been 3 months since I left. But this isn’t my home. It brings up no emotion in me except anxiousness to wrap it up. I think it helped that I completely remodeled after Michael died. So the house was already not the same. I replaced all the artwork on the walls. Floors. Redid everything. Fresh painted in a gorgeous gray. Redid the woodwork. Assembled a shed. Tilled new flower beds and moved a ton of dirt and another ton of mulch. I had to make it mine if I was going to stay here. It’s crazy how much has changed so quickly. 6 months ago I had no plans to move much less leave the country. Bizarre.

I spent the last hour or so looking through my stuff like a kid in a candy shop. I am taking so many of my things back with me. The things with my personality and that I love around me. There isn’t much here, but it’s enough. It would take a small pod to get everything I want to me. Tv’s, a few small antique tables (Michael’s), a chair here or there, lamps. My dad’s mineral collection. Stuff that costs a fortune to replace or that’s irreplaceable. I gotta figure this out sooner than later.

I have a lot to do while I’m here. 6 days is going to go quickly. I’m meeting with my realtor tomorrow to talk about listing the house, then I will spend a couple days finishing the door and trim (painting white) and touching up some spots on the walls. I’ll arrange to store, dispose of, ship, or donate what’s left. The floors are gorgeous. Appliances are new. I forgot what a beautiful home we made. It’s modest and beautiful. Then I have work to do at the office, appointments etc. It’s going to go fast.

It’s 2am, which is 3am “my time”. I’ve been up for 22 hours. But I sit here tonight feeling good. Michael isn’t here. I thought I’d feel him everywhere. And I do but it’s the same everywhere I go. He is always always with ME. And it made me feel good to feel okay about being here. It’s WEIRD. But he’s not here. And that makes me so so happy. This was where we lived but this wasn’t home. I always said that my soul was home with Michael. We loved this house and put so much into it, but home was each other. I know that now. I know he’s with me and that this isn’t our home. It’s a building. That’s all.

Off to try and sleep. I get to see my best friend Jeni tomorrow and I’m thinking of all the things I want to eat while I’m here! Gotta enjoy the American over indulgences. When in Rome…

Peace,

~ Lisa

Things that make ME go hmmmm

It was mentioned to me yesterday by a friend that when I post about grief (the original purpose of this blog), I get very minimal comments. But when I posted about the DR, everyone comments.

Kinda makes me feel like a lot of people are here to just watch my pain. They don’t really care about it as they have nothing to say; or they aren’t really comfortable with it maybe – which really makes them kinda voyeuristic. I guess that makes me feel a little bit like a freak show. The train wreck that everyone’s watching to see what’ll happen next. If this describes you, please move on. This is a vulnerable place for me and I don’t really have a desire to become someone’s entertainment.

There’s no need to comment about how you just never know what to say. There’s no need to explain how much you care but you’re just left speechless. Really. Don’t.

That’s all for today!

Utter Exhaustion

I don’t know how to feel. The last month has been nonstop back breaking work, ending with 2 days of a moving sale. After weeks of sifting through memories, tonight my house, our home, is almost empty.

I’m feeling just so touched and moved by all the love I felt and the people who came by. I’m feeling anxious and excited. I’m feeling scared. Nervous. Impatient to go. Ready. Sad. Lonely. Overwhelmed. Hopeless. Hopeful. Pick it and it’s washing over me. Except doubt. I’m in a really good place with my decision.

The sale was packed with visits from friends which was exhausting in the best way. And tonight, I’m sitting in the one recliner that remains, the only soft place to sit. I’m sleeping on a twin sized air mattress tonight. The dogs are confused and stressed. The house is echoing. It’s no longer our home. It’s just a house now. A house with painful reminders of what was and what should still be.

It has been a painful period. Trigger after trigger. Timing. Changes. Pressure. And all I want to do is fall into my bed that I don’t own and rest for days. I just want to rest.

Tonight when the last friend left after keeping me company in my empty house and watching the Office while eating on TV trays, I had a good cry. This has been so much fucking harder than I ever imagined. I don’t really know, and I find myself asking this again, how much one person can handle. It’s just amazing in a horrible way how much life has changed in so brief a time. It’s more unbelievable to me to look at how much work I’ve done.

I’m worried that I’ll have a meltdown. I’m worried I’ll go to the opposite extreme and throw myself so much into work that I stuff this away. I just feel so incredibly emotionally fragile right now. I feel vulnerable and like I could just shatter apart with the slightest impact.

A few people today told me they were jealous of me.

In a few days I’m leaving everything we made together. Our empty home brings me back to the first day we saw this place and knew we wanted it. To the hours and hours of work each week, the trees planted with ashes of our sweet babies.

Plans, goals, projects, dreams. Wiped out. I look around tonight and cry for what should have been. It’s shocking to see the house so bare.

We thought we’d grow old and die here.

We only got one part of that right. 😢

While so many doors are opening, so many are closing too. Openings and closings, endings and beginnings. I’m looking forward to what will be and hating the reason that these wonderful things are happening.

I miss my husband. 💔

Don’t be jealous.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Dear Michael

Dear Michael,

Wow. Today knocked me down. First, I wake up to an old photo you plant on my phone in the middle of the night, and then I REALLY wake up to the FB memory of us leaving the hospital after your diagnosis. Remember that? When we thought you had liver cancer and you would live? Good times.

I’m so fucking sad that I decided I wanted to write about some of your more surprising, funnier, or more embarrassing shit. I wanted to write some things because you are SO STRONG in my heart today that I have to get this out of me or I’ll cry myself into a tsunami of pain that I don’t know if I can recover from right now. I have to keep my eye on the ball. I have to get packed. I have to get out of here. So, I’m hoping that writing to you and about you will help me and ground me. And I hope I don’t embarrass you too much. ❤

It’s interesting. When I met you, everyone called you Mike. But you had introduced yourself to me as Michael, and I never called you anything different. When you met new people, they’d ask “mind if I call you Mike?” and you’d say, “I prefer Michael”. There’s a meaning to this. Stick with me.

I wonder if anyone knows how filthy your mouth could be, and always at the most inappropriate times! I wonder if anyone knows that something physically was wrong with you and you were literally unable to whisper. Because you’d be “whispering” foul language to me at the worst times (“oh Jesus effing christ are you fucking kidding me right now lady?” and other things of this nature), and EVERYONE could hear you, and you didn’t ever believe me! LOL Babe, they heard you. Every time. Funerals. Reunions. Lunches with mom. The line at Panera. They all heard you.

I wonder if anyone knows you were wickedly sarcastic. You were really good at psyching people out because you’d invent a story and stick it out to the bitter end. No matter how stupid it was. You were a race car driver. You invented the pet rock. There was a store call HISbergers that carried only men’s apparel. Whatever it was.

I KNOW that not many people had ever seen you drunk, at least not as Michael (more on that later – stick with me). It didn’t happen often. But those that did, knew that if you were drunk, you almost insisted that everyone around you was, too. We’d have get-togethers, and your admission charge at the door was that whoever entered had to take a shot of Yaeger. Yes, Yaeger. You made the worst, strongest drinks in the world. The worst. But you were a great drunk. Many a night, you had to get me home safely after a night of shenanigans and you were also a great drunk caretaker. One night, I had my head hanging out the car window all the way back to the hotel and I begged you not to let me die like Anna Nicole. You NEVER let me forget it! But you took really good care of me that night and I didn’t die like Anna Nicole, so there ya go.

I wonder if people know that I met a man who was pretty neutral about dogs. You would casually pet them and expect them to go away. You were a “no dogs on the couch” guy. I think that lasted about 8 or 9 minutes. You always said I changed you. But I think I just gave you a safe space to be who you were meant to be. I wonder if they knew that you became just as passionate about saving dogs as I was. I wonder if they knew how much you cringed when they told you how patient or wonderful you were to “let” me do this rescue stuff.

I wonder if people know we didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because we thought it was stupid, and we forgot our anniversary half the time. We were never the “selfie” couple and didn’t banter back and forth on FB for the world to see our love. We didn’t care about that and had nothing to prove.

I wonder if people know how much we went through and the depth of our commitment. They don’t need to know. I just wonder if they do. Your mom, my kids, your kids, my dad, our animals, my health, your health. I’m clearing out the house and I have come across exactly 24 boxes of animal cremains.

I wonder if they know that every time one of our rescue’s animals passed away, we took some of their ashes and planted them in our backyard with a baby tree and there is now a Good Karma tree that will live forever. I wonder if they know that you and I cried for every one of them, together burying those ashes.

I wonder if they know how amazingly strong you were. When your mom died and I was doing her hair and makeup for the reviewal, you were my strength when I lost my breath. And it was YOUR mom. And when you delivered her eulogy, you were the symbol of strength and grace. When my son disowned me, your strength and clear-headedness got me through it. When I was losing and then lost my dad, you were EVERYTHING. You took care of EVERYTHING. You led his memorial service and you spoke eloquently and beautifully, and you had the strength of stone when shit got real.  You physically and emotionally held me up. Literally. Held me up when I started to collapse.

I know that not many people know of your pain and your history and your past. I will keep it that way, but what I can share is that here’s where the “Michael” part comes in. And it’s one of the things you told me (there were so many) that I will ALWAYS keep in my heart. ALWAYS.

So many people knew Mike and loved him. Most of the people that loved and knew Mike through his whole life fell away when you were Michael. I wonder if the people who hurt you, know they hurt you. I wonder if they know that when they rejected me and our relationship, you took that personally and let them go. I suspect they don’t know.

You told me that you didn’t like to be called Mike because it took you to sad and painful memories. It took you to a life that wasn’t yours and you didn’t want to go back to. And you told me that meeting me, gave you YOU back. You never wanted to be Mike again because Michael meant a life of acceptance and love with no conditions or expectations. I think I’ll always remember it most, because you told me this a few times in our lives together, but you made sure you told me that when you knew it was time to say good bye.

I’ll never share our last conversations because those belong to us. And I hope you are okay with me sharing this part. Because one of the biggest gifts you could have ever given me was thanking me for letting you be Michael, after a lifetime of living by other people’s expectations. In the end, to tell me that your biggest regret was not meeting me sooner because you didn’t know who you were until you met me. About a week before you died, I climbed in bed with you and we lied together looking at photos. You kept comparing old pics and more recent ones and pointing out to me, “Look. See? I was never smiling. Now look. See? Smiling in every one.” By making sure I knew this before you died, you told me that I did it right. You let me know that I was a good wife and a good person, and that I had made a difference in your life. You erased everyone that had ever judged me or made me feel like you were too good for me. You wiped away everyone who told me how lucky I was to be married to such a saint or a patient man (read: he loves you a lot, do you deserve it?) You erased everyone who had rejected me or broken my heart. You wiped away years of pain and sadness and doubt. And while I died on July 30 with you, that is one of the few sparks of light that kept me alive, was knowing that you died knowing you were loved, accepted, wanted, adored, and valued just as you were. That you KNEW, you FINALLY knew, what a beautiful man the authentic Michael Booth was. And selfishly, I needed to know that you knew that. That you truly, truly believed that you were as wonderful as I told you you were.

Until I see you in the middle of the night tonight ❤

Me

Moving Fast

Hello to those still reading.  ❤

Well, things here are moving fast. Arranging to move rescue supplies to the Dominican Republic, trying to find my place in a new org while still managing Good Karma, trying to get things together for a massive moving sale, purging and packing for an epic relocation.

I’m in pain, fatigued, and nauseous. Got so much runaround from all the specialists that I quit going and am now under no doctor’s care.

The rescue is slowing down which is to be expected. I’m spending a LOT of time communicating with people which is to be expected. Calming fears, explaining misunderstandings, clarifying our goals, and answering for my decision to leave. That is also to be expected.

My sister moved out a couple weeks ago and I haven’t heard from her since. I think we learned more than anything how different we are, and that we honestly don’t like each other very much. She has blocked me so I’m not worried about her seeing this, and even if she does it’s true so no worries. Another one bites the dust.

I’m headed into personal hell time. All the fresh feels are coming back to me. Very soon, it will be a year ago that I started CaringBridge to keep everyone updated on Michael’s illness and (we thought) recovery. A time when a pretty large circle of people were watching us implode, and hearing my ever-more-dismal words explaining that he was going to die. I don’t know if people really got it until I posted the morning he was gone.

It wasn’t easy playing out our path online for everyone to see. It was a very vulnerable time. In fact, writing this blog is still quite vulnerable. Every time I start to write, I figure why bother. Nobody reads it anyway. I was going to stop blogging but I’ve decided this will just be my journal. I won’t and don’t expect replies or validation here any longer. I just need to pound my thoughts out for my own sake.

I’m headed into big milestones without him. The pain is unbearable and is drowning me all the time. I can’t accept it, I won’t accept it. I want to accept it, but I’m nowhere close. I miss my husband. I miss his voice and his arms around me. I miss his advice and his warmth. I miss being so loved. I miss the company and the friendship. I miss the man who understood me and loved me so much and enjoyed my company and made me feel appreciated. I miss having someone who enjoys my company and looks forward to ME. I miss loving so much. I miss having my best friend and partner in crime. I miss having my cheerleader, my trusted advisor, my protector, my caretaker, my everything. I miss him. ❤

In the meantime, I’m just plugging along, planning the next step in my life without him. Moving away from this place and all the memories will be good for my soul. It’s odd. I still don’t feel like I’ve had time to deal with losing him. I have taken time off. I have taken a hiatus. I’ve dramatically reduced my social commitments and my time away from home. Everything is sad and reminiscent of him. Nothing else matters here except the fact that he’s gone.

I’ve been in a pretty good depression these days. I’m extremely fragile and have reverted to the wailing, sobbing, and screaming of the early days when I would scream to the sky. The nightmares, though they never stopped, have picked up again. I’m in hell in my heart and my mind.

I have so much to look forward to, but even the new job and new location present scary and stressful challenges that make me miss him more. So, how do I leave all I know, move to a new country, begin as the new kid in a new org with people that have a long-standing system in place, keep my health and sanity intact, cope with missing my friends and my house, live with my grief, and cope in a new life without him?

Good questions. I guess we’ll find out together.

Peace,

~ Lisa

 

I am Alive.

In my last blog, I talked about how life-changing my trip to the DR was. I said I’d explain in another post, so here we are!

Not to sound too “eat, love, pray”ey, but this trip was seriously what my spirit, my heart, and my mind needed. Today an announcement was made to the Rescue volunteers and followers, that I am moving.

To the Dominican Republic.

Next month.

Holy.

Shit.

Well, here. Just read.

Before I went, I knew I was going to see if it was a good fit for me and my work style. I knew they needed someone like me and I needed someone like them. And by the time I arrived home, I announced to my family that I was moving. In June.

How? Huh? What the…Huh? No…that’s not your reaction. That’s MINE. Every day! I can’t believe how I came to be here in this place at this moment, how it all came to be. How stars have been aligning for years to get to this very moment. Something happened to me out there. I had a couple of hard core panic attacks of course…but around the third day, I was at the ocean and a feeling washed over me. I am alive. I’m still alive. I didn’t die. I will never be okay without him, and I’ll never be okay that he’s gone. But I am disgracing everything Michael and I stood for, curling up and crying and giving up. The legacy he and I created for saving animals and following our hearts and being proud of who we were and what we did…I owe us more than that. I’m alive. I have no deep roots with my family except my daughter. I have wonderful friendships that will sustain the distance. I don’t have to close or give up on GK because I’ve found a way to take it with me. It’s time for me to start my life without his shadow, without people feeling sorry for me, without the countless messages I STILL get from people who “just don’t know what to say”. It’s time for me to be Lisa, not Michael’s widow.

I owe ME that. This isn’t about owing him, or doing his memory justice. I’m secure in that and in our love transcending this lifetime. I know he is proud of and happy for me. So this wasn’t about doing his memory justice. It was about being authentic and true to me and to us.  It was about doing what I love in a place I love with people who are so kind and welcoming.  It’s a dream come true.

So, now my focus turns to packing, purging, and a moving sale. My daughter and a roommate are staying in my house for a year and then I will decide if it’s time to sell or not. My garage is filling with things to get rid of.

The house I’ll be living in is really adorable and very small. That, plus the cost of shipping container, etc – and I’ve decided for the most part to sell everything. I’ll take the things with me that matter, but a houseful of things will not be making the trip with me. I think it’s going to be really good for me and an interesting exercise in what I really need. It will just be me and my four girls! I hope they like the beach.

My house front
My new house 🙂 
My house
20 second walk to the ocean and nobody on the beach for miles. 

I hate how I got here. I hate WHY moving out of the country is a cool option for me. I hate what I have been through. And now, I’m ending up on a beautiful island doing the work I love. It’s hard NOT to feel grateful, and guilty and sad all at once.

In other news, I FINALLY got my cremain tattoo today. I’m SO in love with it. LOVE it so much. I have another session booked before I move to add to it and make the tree spread out a little more and add some colored leaves, maybe a couple of birds.

His ashes are in every aspect of the tree: The roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. It was an overwhelming experience for me. Besides being immensely painful, dang! it was also a rite of passage. It was something I’ve been dreaming of for so long now and to see it come to life, I can’t explain it. I can’t explain the comfort I get knowing his ashes are here with me.  I had an amazing tattoo artist that was so kind and understanding. She knew this was a big deal and she was just so respectful.

tat

So, a couple of dreams come true. A future on an island saving animals. A beautiful tattoo. All in my life because I lost the love of my life. I don’t understand. I’d give it all back for more time with him. And while I am alive, I’ll never be the same. All I can do is try my best to navigate without him and hope I’m making the right choices. All I can do is USE my life to do the most good I can. And I’m rescuing. Maybe even rescued. I have hope and excitement and adrenaline and love in my heart to give.

I’ve always had a good gut instinct and a sense of adventure. I’ve lived in Colorado, California, Minnesota, and now the Dominican. If nothing else, it makes for an interesting life story.

More as we go along.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Hey, Strangers

It’s been a while. ❤️ I guess my excuse is that so, so much has been happening that I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t want to declare anything. I still don’t really want to go into it, so tonight I’m here to talk about grief and my recent vacation! The goings-on in my life will be a separate post in the near future.

Let’s talk about my vacation! I went to the Dominican Republic! And while it was definitely a vacation, the truth is that it was also a volunteering trip. My neighbor and friend Cindi’s brother is the founder of a rescue in the Dominican. So I spent the week with them, learning about the amazing work they do and the indescribable need down there. I could go on for days honestly.

I helped with a spay/neuter Clinic. The DR has a horrible animal overpopulation problem. Animals are mistreated in many cases because of a lack of proper information about dogs and cats. Most live in conditions we wouldn’t tolerate in the US.

The clinic was amazing. 23 animals spayed and neutered that day, all in a converted airport bus that’s now a kickass surgery center. In almost 100 degree heat. Amazing people. It was hard to choose photos so I’m posting the ones I think tell the story best.

While I was there I also got to go along on an outreach day. They go out and administer parasite and flea/tick control, triage any injuries or issues, treat minor wounds and injuries, and take the animals to the vet if they need more extensive care. The women that do outreach are just incredible. These animals get to know them. It’s really beautiful to see the connections they have made with the animals and the people in these communities.

Like I said I can go on and on. I’ve just scratched the surface! The trip changed my life. More on that in another post.

Oh one last thing: this was the view from my guest room. Can you imagine waking up to this every day?

So, grief. The point of this whole blog.

Grief SUCKS. Man, it just absolutely fucking sucks. It seems like forever and just yesterday all at once. Grief makes you burst into tears when your plane touches down in a faraway place. Grief makes you feel guilty for having a joyful moment. Grief is still 100% kicking my ass. All day, every day. I miss him. He’s gone. That will never be easy for me to swallow.

And it makes me realize that truly, all one needs in this life is to loved. To be deeply, unconditionally, unwaveringly, loved. Nothing. Not a thing in this lifetime fills a void of losing someone’s unconditional love.

I received another piece of jewelry I ordered. The silver disc has his ashes infused into it, and I wear it at my pulse point. I love it but I’m afraid I’m going to break the strings. It’s really hard to slide. My heavy heart urn necklace broke the night before this arrived. At the Miami airport of all places! When I think of my island week and all the places I could have lost it, it’s a miracle that I still have it! But the hoop thing that attaches it to the chain is worthless. I need to solder something else on it, I think.

My ash tattoo work starts May 15. I’m so eager to get started. I’ve waited so long for this. ❤️

So, that’s my readers digest catchup. There’s so much more but I’m exhausted! I promise to catch up more in the very near future.

Peace,

~ lisa