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

Quicksand, Lessons, Indescribable Friendship

Hello faithful friends ❤

So much. So much to update. I’ll try to keep it brief and coherent.

Let’s see. Where to start.

My health sucks. I’m doing the best I can. The warmer weather does help what I call “statue body” where everything on my body freezes or seizes, so that’s good news. The not so good news is that my insurance sucks and won’t cover the one drug all of these experts are prescribing to me – Lyrica. I also still haven’t gotten Xeljanz because of the same sucky insurance issue, so I’m flying without a net as far as pain management goes.

My life. Wow. A lot.

I’m most likely selling the house at some point in the not-so-far future. It’s too expensive and too much for me to keep up with.

My sister is moving back to Colorado. She will be leaving in about 3 weeks. She’s not in love with my plan (for her, she’s very supportive of me though) and she’s not in love with Minnesota, so she’s heading back to try to make things work in CO again.

I’m taking a vacation soon. I’m not sharing details about where or when, because I’m a paranoid freak now that I am single and I don’t want people knowing when I’m not at home. I will post amazing pictures and stories upon my return.

In the grief department, well what can I say. It’s quicksand. It’s constantly swimming against a strong slushy undertow. Some days I exhaust myself just to stay put in one place. Some days, I’m immersed to my head. Some days, I climb out a little. Some days, I find myself deeper than I was the day before. It’s a moment-to-moment swing that very few understand.

This is actual footage of me*.

quicksand

Grief is not a journey. It’s a permanent state of life. It’s not something to get through or with an end. It’s something you have to learn to walk with, life with. It’s a part of you. The emptiness is permanent. The heartbreak is irreversible. It is who I am. I am a widow. I am a widow before my time. I’ll never make sense of why. Some days, I accept it and I really have a good state of mind that my relationship with Michael is strong and powerful, it’s just moved to a spiritual level. Some days, I wake up and it takes me a few minutes to remember he’s never coming back. The nights are the worst. Everyone goes to bed around 10-10:30 here and then it’s quiet. Then the distractions, the dogs barking and playing, the conversations, the TV, and the noise of the day stops. And then I’m alone. With Michael. And my fears. My memories. And my racing mind.

I still have frequent nightmares. Well actually I would call them night terrors except they aren’t. I wake up almost every night (usually a few times a night) to his cries for help. I wake up almost every morning in a panic that he called out for me last night and I slept through it. Those are those blissful few minutes I referred to earlier when I think he’s still alive. My dreams, when I remember them, are filled with the pain of those last few weeks watching the man I love deteriorate and lose his battle. In my waking hours, the memories are nice. At night, they turn evil on me.

Lessons

I’m learning so much. I’m learning about who I am without the attachment or title of wife. I’m learning that I need to live alone. It turns out I’m not an easy roommate. I’m not difficult on purpose. I’m just grieving. And it’s hard for people to understand, impossible for me to explain, and definitely harder for people to live with someone who is unpredictable. I don’t feel I’m ever unkind. But I do weird things like change light bulbs at 10pm. Change my mind 100 times a day and make it impossible to keep up with. Get a whim and pull everything out of the shed for the yard. Go through phases where I eat nothing for 2 days, then eat junk food for a day, and so on. Get a burst of energy and trim the bushes. Be extremely lethargic and fatigued and stay in my pajamas until noon. It’s difficult for roommates to follow my vibe, and difficult for me to explain it to them. So the lesson learned is that Lisa needs to live alone for everyone’s sake.

This is the actual book that is being written about me.*

roommate

 

Indescribable Friendship

If one thing good came from losing Michael, it was this. Although many people have followed my story and many people reached out with kindness, one person shone through. I had never met her. She wasn’t an adopter or a volunteer. She wasn’t an old friend. She bought wreaths from the rescue Xmas fundraiser the year before and met Michael very briefly when she came to the house to pick it up. But she saw my story on FB, and she read about Michael’s passing. And she reached out to me to tell me how he had impacted her in that short meeting to pick up wreaths.

She kept reaching out to me. We exchanged lots of emails. She is a widow too, and something compelled her to KEEP reaching out to me. Sometimes it’s just an email saying she’s thinking of me. Sometimes it’s a quick comment on one of my blog posts. Sometimes more.

She’s become my confidant. She was my safe place. Close enough to understand but JUST far enough removed that I could share things with her without fear of judgment or information leaks ;). She understood and understands me and all I’m going through. She’s walked before me on this road. She knows the pain. She validated me and made it okay to say what I needed to say. Challenged me, held me accountable, but always did so with a no-nonsense loving nature about her that made me feel I’d known her my whole life.

Yesterday, I met her face to face for the first time. A quick coffee date turned into almost 3 hours of talking about the past, the present, and the future. We talked about dreams, she helped me sort some thoughts out, offered to help me in some pretty amazing ways with the rescue, and filled my soul. She touched me so much, because she paid attention. She knew my deal. She knew what I liked and didn’t. She knew what I feel. And she was never scared. Even when I’d post a bitchy blog or call her out on something, she never flinched. And now, through the pain and loss of Michael…I’ve found a lifelong friend and soul sister who I think is going to be a strong influencer in the rest of my life.

friend-quote-true-realize

A long time ago I gave everyone who said “I think about you a lot, I just haven’t reached out because I don’t know what to say” a free pass. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, and I’ve easily let them go. I have enough to wrap my head around and enough to worry about without worrying about how my loss makes other people feel. It sounds cold, but the reality is that if my husband passing away makes you uncomfortable, unfortunately there’s nothing I can do about that.

I’ve made/ strengthened some amazing friendships and relationships since Michael had to say goodbye. I’ve lost many too, and that’s okay. I’m focused on what I’ve gained, and one thing I can say – one gift I’ve been given; I really, really know that my circle of friends loves me. I really, really have fine tuned my circle and my social bubble to surround myself with people who love me, and who I love. People who accept me, and who I accept. People who will do anything they can to help me, and people I will do anything I can to help. There’s no time for anything else.  And that is one thing I can say I never had until everything and everyone in my world including me was put to the test. I now know who my “family” is and that’s a really, really good feeling.

Thank you, Michael. ❤ Always and still, forever…looking out for me. Just like you promised. ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa

* No, it’s not.

 

 

A Heavy Heart

Beautiful heart

 

Hello friends. ❤

I’ve had a really tough spell the past few days. It all culminated this morning and has kinda knocked me down. I cannot believe all I have been through and am still going through, by no choosing or fault of my own.

I can’t believe my life.

I can’t believe he’s gone.

I’ve been regressing a bit emotionally. And before you tell me not to beat myself up, I’m not. I am still letting this tsunami take me where it takes me. I’m not expecting. I’m just surprised is all. Yesterday, I reached to text him twice to send him pictures of the puppies. It’s like in my mind, he’s still at work.

Anyway, all of this to say, I miss him so much. I miss him terribly. I miss him more and more with each passing day, because it’s just one more day that has passed since I’ve seen him, heard him, touched him, felt him in the room. One more day since he was plucked out of existence, leaving a vast and indescribable void in my life and my heart and my world and my everything. One more day since the only person who ever understood me has been gone.

I’ve made some decisions about his ashes, but they still live on my bedside table in the simple black box that they came in. One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time, was find a way to memorialize him. I have some plans that are private, and I will do on the one-year anniversary. But I miss him so damn bad, I really need to feel close to him. So I’ve taken a couple of steps to help. The first thing I did was order a piece of jewelry that will have his ashes infused into it. In order to do that, I need to send them some of Michael’s ashes and they will infuse it into the silver. That will take about 6 weeks. Too long.

So, I finally found my version of an urn. It just arrived yesterday. I filled it with his ashes, and I will wear it constantly. It’s a silver heart. It’s really heavy which seems so appropriate. I’m very aware that I’m wearing it and I catch myself holding it often. I can’t explain it, but it gives me peace and comfort. I’m also going to get some tattoo work done with his ashes incorporated (it wasn’t easy to find a great tat artist to agree to this, but I did and my mind is set – no advice needed). I have three appointments on the books starting in May.

Heart urn

Have you ever handled cremains? I have many times, getting urn jewelry for special pets, and when Michael and I planted trees in our backyard, we put the ashes of every dog we ever loved into the soil. We have a specific GK tree in the yard <3. So, I thought I knew what to expect. I didn’t expect it to be so emotional for me.

This grief shit is not for the weak. It’s literally the hardest, worst, most painful, most disorienting, most life-destroying event that anyone can possibly imagine, times 50.

Looking at the big picture; in the past couple of weeks, I have gone through all of his clothes, gone through a lot of his things that are in the basement, handled his ashes. I’ve also been dealing with the health insurance nightmare (I think it’s FINALLY resolved?!?) and everything else in day to day life. Things at home are good, but very emotionally charged. We are three women, all going through our own things, and there are lots of puppies with lots of energy, so the energy of the house is out of whack.  It’s no wonder that I’m emotional.

In other news, my diagnosis of Small Fiber Neuropathy is official and on the books. I passed muscle tests and had some concerning nerve tests (PS I will NEVER have an EMG again. NEVER, ever agree to this test! It blows!). I also have carpal tunnel in both hands (numbness and tingling) and days when clothing hurts my skin. I have good days, too. But a good day for me isn’t even equal to what would have been a normal day for me a year ago. I have to stop thinking about what my life was, and focus on what IS. What IS real, is that I am in a lot of pain, my husband has died, I have too many decisions to make, and I’m overwhelmed at the thought of the rest of my life without him.

In joyful news, the puppies are SO amazing and BEAUTIFUL! Just stunning, all of them. They are listed for adoption now, so they should be finding new families very soon. I love them. They have given me a purpose. I’m a little worried about what I’ll do when they leave. I really enjoy having them here and man, they’re great therapy. But, they are getting really big and it’s tough to play with them all. They’re getting spayed/neutered tomorrow! They bring so much joy to my life. I tried to upload a video but WordPress had a fit. If you want to see videos and you are on Facebook, send me a friend request and you can see the videos!

That’s all I have for today. Thank you for sticking this out with me. I’m so surprised to find myself in such a raw place so suddenly. I know I will get through it. I no longer doubt that I WILL get through it.  I just hate that I have to.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Shine on

Today was a big deal and a big step for me.

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.

shirt

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. ❤

Peace,

Lisa

I miss her, too.

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.

I miss him. But damn. I miss her, too.

I guess I just needed to share.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Energies, Key Words, Courage, Life

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. ❤

Clover hat

And this ADORABLE picture of Josie ❤

Josie coy

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. ❤

Pudgies

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.

Here’s to being brave another day. ❤

Peace,

Lisa

 

Aspiring

Greetings, friends 🙂

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.

Aspire

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. ❤

Peace.

~ Lisa

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

seven

Josie, the puppy’s mom, is after Michael’s middle name Joseph. ❤