Memories; Pictures can say 1000 words

Hello everyone ❤

First, I wanted to say I’ve decided to take a blogging break. I’m putting so much sadness out into the universe and I’m not comfortable with it. I think I’m in a depth of pain that no longer can be done any justice by blogging about it. I feel like my screams are going out into cyberspace and echoing through the wavelengths and just creating an energy that isn’t good in the world.

I’ve never experienced pain like this before. The PTSD is overwhelming. The memories of Michael’s rapid illness and death haunt me, mostly at night. I wake to his screams and cries regularly, and it takes me a few minutes to realize it’s in my head. The images of his decline invade my mind and take me down a road to remembering my dad’s death too. I may be driving to the store, and in that few minutes all I see is a slideshow of the deaths of the two men I loved more than anything in this world. I close my eyes and see the suffering and remember the painful goodbyes. I hear the sounds of the dying; the wailing, the rambling, the rattling. I recall conversations and wonder if he was coherent when we had them. I have photos of him during that time that are so painful that I wonder if I should delete them, but I can’t bring myself to delete anything Michael-related. I desperately search for signs of Michael all the time because I truly don’t feel strong enough to live without feeling his presence. I catch myself thinking I should call my (now dead – oops that’s right) dad. When I was on my girls getaway, many many times I thought “I should call (now dead) Michael and check in”. Reality isn’t easy for me to keep up with. As my physical condition deteriorates, I’m constantly reminded of why this is happening. And I tease Michael aloud, telling him he’s killing me but he’s doing a shitty job of it. RA? Really? If you’re gonna ruin my life, give me something that will do me in instead of slow suffering, would ya?

I miss him so much. Nothing will ever, ever be the same again.

My goal was to hopefully help other widows at some point and right now, I’m not helpful. I’m whiny, depressed, needy, inconsolable, pissy, grumpy, self-pitying, sick, and tired. I’m questioning my sanity and my reason for living. My instincts are keeping me inward and isolating. I’ve never been through anything like this before. There’s no textbook. No amount of therapy in the world makes it better. It’s just unbearable, indescribable, horrific, nightmarish, brutal, unrelenting, unforgiving pain. It’s hell on earth. Hell.

It’s not a good time in my head right now. And I know those who actually do read this, don’t know what to do with it. And it leads to silence, and me questioning what I’m doing, and every reader questioning what the hell they can even say to me. It’s causing me more and more insecurity, so I’m stepping away for a bit until I can hopefully get my head straight.

Before I do, I wanted to share this picture with you. I had forgotten all about this photo, but with my daughter moving in next weekend I’m cleaning some things out. This was taken in 2005. Michael surprised me with an early morning balloon ride. It was amazing! We drank champagne as the sun rose. We swooped down really low and picked grapefruits off the trees. We floated above everything and felt no wind, because we were the wind. We traveled with it, so it was surprisingly quiet and still up there. It was one of his favorite memories right up until he died. But the power of the photo is this: When we had it taken and they handed it to us, Michael said “Wow. I think this is the first photo I’ve ever seen myself smiling.” We got home and sure enough, looked through hundreds of photos and couldn’t find any with a smile. Sometimes a grin, but you never saw his teeth. He said this picture was the perfect definition of who he was now. Happy, secure, and where he belonged. One picture says so much. ❤

Balloon

Thank you for reading if you are, and thank you for reaching out if you are. I’ll be back when I feel I have something of value to share.

Peace Out,

~ Lisa

Holidays, Health, Big Questions

Hello loyal followers ❤

This is a brain dump today. I am under so much stress that I need to pound it out on the keyboard or I’ll implode.

I never go out at night. I didn’t realize this until last night. I had to go pick up a prescription and as I was driving to the pharmacy, I was almost blinded by the christmas lights and displays. I drove by homes with beautiful trees in the front windows. I passed cars with wreaths on the grills and santa hats on the antennas.

He should be here. Why the fuck isn’t he here?

My health is getting worse every day despite my best efforts otherwise. My joints and my spine are constantly painful. My hands are so swollen that I can no longer do the things I love to do – the things that became an outlet for my stress. I can no longer paint, I can’t color because my hands cannot grip the markers or pencils. I cannot do my puzzles because my fingers won’t grip. I can’t sand or stain my woodwork for the same reasons. It’s difficult for me to type but I won’t give that up. This inability to do the things I love has just added to my depression and darkness. For a minute or two, the darkness was simply a dull gray. Now, it’s black. Just darkness. Just a vacuum where feelings, love, a sense of purpose, and joy should be.

I’m feeling impulsive. Again, I’m the flailing hose without anyone to ground me. I want to sell the house. I want to relocate. I want to die. I want to escape to a hermit-like existence. I want to be near the ocean. I want to be where it’s warm and sunny. I want to be where there are no memories, where nobody looks at me like a pathetic pity case, where I don’t have to worry about running into my son who hates me or the contractor who hates me or anyone else who has ever wished anything bad upon me. I want to die – did I mention that? This was OUR world, and I no longer feel I belong here. But, I don’t feel I belong anywhere. I really don’t want to keep doing this without him. I’m trying. I’m pushing. I’m working on this every single day. But the reality always comes through. I’m wishing my life away and I don’t want to be here without him. I don’t think I can keep doing it. But yet, here I am.

Many people have told me that reading this blog is painful or difficult. I know it is. This is my life, every single moment of every single day of every single week of every single month. Painful. Difficult. Without meaning. Without purpose. Alone. Empty. Realizing that this life only mattered because he was in it. Realizing that he made me who I was, and I’m no longer that person or any person really. I’m just a being, taking up space, wishing my life away.

It’s such a waste. And he should be here.

I’m tired of writing the same thing over and over again. I’m tired of hearing my own broken record. I’m tired of my reality, and I’m not sure if blogging about it is helping or not.  Writing does help me, but I wonder if I should journal privately sometimes. My thoughts and my life are extremely dark. I think about dying all the time. I think about Michael all the time. I see him in my dreams. I would give anything to talk to him again. To ask him what it’s like where he is. To ask him what he thinks I should do. To hear him tell me he loves me one more time. I would love for him to tell me it’s okay, and that I can leave this world because I’ve done enough. Without his love, I feel like nothing. I just wish I could talk to him one more time. ❤ He should be here. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to live, and yet here I am wishing my life away.

Such a waste.

Peace,

~ Lisa

 

You Can Run, But…

Well, you know the rest.

I had a great and much needed getaway. It was really nice to step out of reality for a few days. Michael was on my mind 24/7. But it was nice to sleep in a different setting, sleep in, stay up late, and be someplace new.

I miss him so much.

My daughter is moving into the house for six months. She needs a reboot and I need her, so we decided that this makes sense right now. She’ll be slowly moving in over the next week or so.

Every day, I’m learning. While I was away, I learned that I literally feel homeless. I don’t really feel I belong anywhere. Michael was home. The only reason I ended up in MN was because of him. This was his world, not mine. I still feel like a square peg in a round hole here. Our plan was that we’d eventually move somewhere warm. Now, I still want someplace warm and things are going on with my health that may dictate that at some point, but I’m just in a spiral. I have nowhere to go but can go anywhere. Anywhere. Some might find that freeing. I personally find it heartbreaking. My plane landed today and Michael wasn’t there to greet me. He would have been there with a heavy coat for me and he would have had me sit in the heated car while he waited for my luggage. Today, I carried my own heavy bag across the cold lot to catch the Lyft driver. I rode home without Michael’s conversation and hugs, and pulled into a dark driveway. And walked into 4 very happy dogs. And no Michael.

This isn’t right. It’s just so wrong that this is my reality. It’s wrong on so many levels. I don’t know what I did to deserve this suffering. I have tried to live a life of honesty and integrity. I’ve tried to show kindness to humans and animals. I’ve tried to use my life to serve others. But the hits just keep coming.

I believe that our purpose on this earth and in this life is to love. And I don’t know how much more love I’m capable of. I don’t know at what point your heart, your ability to love, breaks. I’m not ready to get back to reality, and the sad part is that my life right now is hardly reality. I’m still on a kinda-leave from work. I’m still not leaving the house much. I’m still not “doing” my whole life. I don’t know how or if I’ll ever get there. But even this buffered version of reality is just too much.

And the holidays? Just shit icing on my already shit cake. Just a little extra topping on the shit that is my life.

Part 2: Death Becomes Her

It seems that death surrounds me. For the past 2 years, I have been in some state of grief or preparing for a deeply personal loss. These aren’t casual acquaintances; these were core losses. If any of you were at Michael’s service, you may remember a woman who got up to speak. She was an adopter (had her dog there with her) and she spoke of how long she drove to come to honor my husband. This woman (I’ll call her “L”) and I had gotten off to a rocky start. She had applied to adopt a dog and we denied her because she was out of our area. Well, she told us off but good and actually won me over with her spunk. I approved the adoption and earned a supporter. This morning I received a sad text from L. Her husband passed away in his sleep last night. I didn’t know how to feel. I was both honored and terrified that she reached out to me, and based on the timing I assume I was one of the first people she contacted. She said she really wanted to talk with me soon, and mentioned a service. I offered her what words of comfort I could. I told her that she’s walking into hell and that I was here for her. I told her those things because that’s what would have helped me. Just someone to not sugar coat, not say “we’ll get through this” because there is no WE right now, not dismiss it or push it aside or suggest you go out because you’ll feel better. Someone to say, this sucks. You’ll never be the same. Your life is about to suck on the biggest level you can imagine. And I’ll be here anytime for anything at all without judging or overstepping. And someone who means it. So my gift to her was honesty, and to mean it when I say I’m here for her.

Then I came home to a sad letter. I mentioned a short while ago a casual acquaintance/adopter “SS” who passed away and that he had impacted my life, and I was saddened to hear of his death. Today I received a letter from an attorney for a probate hearing, as our rescue was named as a beneficiary in his estate. He loved the dog he adopted from us so much, that he put us in his will. I didn’t know how to feel about this either. He impacted my life for reasons I don’t understand. We talked once in a while, very casually. We shared the same birthday as Facebook reminds me each year. And to think that we impacted him so much that we’re in his will, well it’s just overwhelming.

I also came home to a letter about my Social Security Death Benefit. For any of you who haven’t experienced this, Social Security sends widows a one-time death benefit of $255. I don’t know where this number came from but I’d honestly rather not receive it. How do you value a life at $255? It feels gross.

That’s all my news for now. Taking chemo drugs tonight so we’ll see how it goes this week.

Peace,

~ Lisa

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Has anyone tried any of the meditation apps? I just downloaded Calm. It’s got Guided Meditations, Music, people reading books to you, all kinds of stuff I’m just starting to explore. If you meditate, what works for you?

By the way, hi. 🙂

I saw my general doctor today. I’m having some symptoms that are really concerning such as extreme muscle cramps/spasms and a few other issues. The worst part, is that my ribs feel crushing pain when I stretch, lean, or breathe in too deeply. He thinks this cramping is possibly a side effect of one of the anti-depressants, so I’m stopping those.

I’ll be getting away for a few days on a girls’ trip. I cannot even begin to tell you how badly I need a vacation.

There are things happening in my life that I want to talk about but I’m just not ready to do so yet.  Not good things. Just shit things. When I come back from my girls’ trip, hopefully I’ll be in a better place to share more. I just need to get my head around things first.

It’s been a pretty unproductive time for me at the casa. I haven’t done anything in the way of projects to speak of.  The rescue is taking some of my time, and other than that I’m just pretty much here. Not doing anything. Not being anything. Just here. Inhaling and Exhaling. Taking up space. Doing nothing. Wishing my life away. Nobody notices if I sleep or wake, nobody cares if I get dressed. Nobody knows if I eat or leave the house. Sometimes I might go days without speaking to anyone local. This is exactly what I needed when I decided to take a leave. I just underestimated how alone I’d be and feel (and by the way, the next person that tells me I’m not alone is going to push me over the edge. I am literally alone. By myself. In a house. Alone. Every single day and every single night. Alone. Decisions? Alone. Workload of 2+? Alone. I’m very alone. Trust me, I’ve checked under all the beds).

He was more than my everything. He fueled me and made me who I am. Without him, I’m just here. Weak. Fragile. Broken. Sitting. Waiting. Serving time. Not really caring. Not really hoping or planning or worrying. Just hurting. Breathing in. Breathing out.

Which takes me back to, meditation apps. I’ve started really turning to guided meditation, and I’m always looking for good apps or sites. If you have one, please let me know. ❤

Namaste 😉

~ Lisa

The Life Sentence

I’ve been struggling with the tone of my blog. I’m not the type of person who likes to spread negativity or complain about my situation. But then I realized, this blog is live-time. I wanted to start this so that people in my life understand what’s happening and can try to understand ME, but also my TRUE hope is that other widows may find comfort or at least something relatable in my words. Sadly, to narrate this experience of mine is a sad and dark endeavor for the writer and the reader. This isn’t a place to come to feel better and that sucks. This isn’t a place to come for jokes, life tips, or anything positive. It’s just a dark place. And I realize, this is true because this is my life right now. This blog is a tiny peek into my psyche and my reality. So the fact that THIS little sliver sucks and is so depressing all the time is a good indicator of the bigger picture. For the moment and for the foreseeable future, my life sucks.

I got my hair done yesterday for the first time in over a year. The salon was playing Christmas music of course, and all the clientele were talking about their holiday plans; families, trips, gifts for the kids, getting their hair done for the hubby, getting their hair done for the holidays, the upcoming party, whatever the occasion. The energy was positive and the place was humming. And I almost lost it. Finding myself in the early phases of a panic attack, lump in my throat, tears welling up, and hair color on my roots so I was stuck. So I started texting my sister to get through the moment. 3 hours later, I was done and I went to dinner with a friend. Then I came home with my new do, and nobody to tell me how great it looked. And the sadness begins again.

In reading others’ experiences, the time after your loved one dies is commonly referred to as the Life Sentence. Going through the motions. Fighting back waves of emotion that come without warning. Coming home to empty.

When I sat down in the stylist’s chair (I’ve known her for years), she wanted to catch up. My response was that I can’t even talk about my life, so she had to do the talking. This sums me up. I don’t want to be the debbie downer. I don’t want to be the exhausting person that nobody wants to be around. I don’t want to carry my shit into every single interaction. I’m tired of my life being about loss. I’m tired of hearing my story. It’s so awful that nobody knows what to say. It’s just shitty and leaves everyone involved in an awkward sad shitty situation. That’s what my life has done to others.

What has loss and grief done to me? It’s stolen the following:

  • My confidence
  • My life
  • My hope in the future
  • My security and stability
  • My future
  • My belief that if you do good, you’ll get good.
  • My faith
  • My joy, happiness, and contentment
  • My spiritual home
  • My personality and sense of who I am

I hope as time goes on, the tone of my blog can change as the tone of my life changes. I do believe that things can get better. I do believe that MY life can go on. I have no desire for it to right now, but I’m in a strong enough headspace that I know this is part of my process.

I know there are some who completely understand I lost my husband on top of a stack of multiple other devastating recent losses, but I also know they DON’T understand why I can’t move ahead. They don’t understand how STUCK you can get, and they don’t understand how it feels to lose your everything. Those who don’t really understand, are usually those who are sitting next to their spouses and asking themselves why I can’t just keep going. Again, that’s not a crime. It’s just ignorant and those people need to be educated. Sadly, 1/2 of those partners WILL feel what I’m feeling at some point in their lives. Their grief and loss will shake them to their cores and bring them to their knees. I don’t wish it on anyone – but make no mistake. If you don’t “understand” this, if you are married, either you or your spouse will someday. Pay attention. ❤

If you’re sticking with me through the shittiest journey and the most depressing blog ever, I appreciate you.

Peace,

~ Lisa

The Story of Michael and Me

After a really even-keeled emotional and decent physical day yesterday, I suffered a crash and burn of epic proportions last night. I’m actually writing this at 3am, but I’m waiting until I get some sleep to review it tomorrow before I actually post it.

I’m in the process of a major clean-out. I have always had slight OCD but it’s through the roof now. EVERYTHING we planned to get rid of MUST GO NOW. It doesn’t REALLY have to go NOW, but in my mind it does. So…back to the point. Tonight, I was going through boxes in the basement and the dam broke. Sobbing, looking through old things, and I came across this. It’s another picture of a picture because this was before the digital age. This was the very first weekend that Michael and I spent together. Basically, the first time we met. Which leads me to…the story of Michael and me.

When we met

Michael and I met online. This was in the days of AOL and the old-school chatrooms. I was going through a painful divorce and I went online in search of a support group. I found one, and inside that chat room I met a guy named Michael. We immediately started side conversations in little private chat boxes, because we noticed we were the only two people in the whole group who used their actual names. Other people had “handles” but we were just Michael and Lisa. He and I were in similar situations, going through divorces after 17 years of marriage. We were both with spouses who knew they wanted out long before we did, and we both had very similar pain and an understanding of what the other was going through.  Soon, I started really looking forward to the evenings when I knew he would log on, and we would chat online in those little private chat boxes for hours.

Soon, online chats turned into phone calls, and the connection was intense. He was NOT my type in ANY way, shape, or form – or so I thought. But he was sensitive, sarcastic, kind, smart, and had a shockingly dark sense of humor. He was deep, spiritual, patient, soft-spoken. He wanted to know my kids. He wanted to talk about God and the universe and the stars. He listened when I talked. He was the exact opposite of any guy I’d ever been in a relationship with. And I decided maybe that was good for me.

After several months of phone calls and webcam chats, we decided it was time to meet for real to see if there was a “spark”. He flew out to California much to the chagrin of his friends who all told him he was crazy and that I was going to cut him up into little pieces.

This picture was taken that weekend. It was a park near my house, and we were just hanging out.

And after I dropped him off at the airport that weekend, I came home to find this note in my kitchen. I blocked some of it out because it’s personal. I JUST found this note a few days ago. ❤

Theres a spark

After that, we started flying back and forth every two weeks, taking turns. So once a month I was in MN, and once a month he was in CA. That went on for about 10 months before he moved to CA in 2005.

We lived in CA with my two teenage kids and saw them graduate high school. We got married in our backyard in the summer of 2006. It was a beautiful wedding. We had about 40 guests, all close friends or family, and the band were our friends and they played all night. Michael’s mom and Auntie Patsy (both RIP) flew out for the wedding, and so did his kids, and it was a great family time for everyone. Lots of dancing and partying. It was a lovely night, and the priest who married us was named Charlie Sinatra! A distant cousin I believe.

In 2008, Michael’s heart was calling him back to MN. His mom was alone and getting older. He was an only child and felt that he needed to be close to her. So I made him a deal. He gave me 3 years in CA, so I would give him 3 years in MN. So to MN we moved.

Michael’s mom Addie passed away in 2010 I believe (sorry, I don’t mark dates and anniversaries). That was a tough time. Family stuff got complicated because Michael had to make decisions that not everyone agreed with. It was a hard, hard time. I loved Addie. She was like a mom to me. She accepted me and loved me instantly, and that wasn’t always the case marrying into a very traditional midwestern family. I had some very meaningful moments and conversations with her as I sat bedside with her. She was also my first intimate experience with death. Michael and I were both there as she drew her last breath. Addie was ridiculously particular about her wig and her makeup, so I did them for her in the casket. I knew she’d want to look like Addie, and NOBODY could make Addie look like Addie. Her wig was very dated and too dark, but that was Addie and her look.

Being with Addie when she died was a profound experience for me. The conversations I had with her, the private moments we shared, the things I witnessed, changed me forever. And since that first experience, sadly I’ve lost count of how many lives I’ve witnessed come to an end. Between beloved pets, rescue dogs, and humans, it must be in the dozens. Every one has a profound impact on me.

I guess Michael and I were always good at loss, because we suffered many losses over the course of our relationship, and every loss we suffered brought us closer together.

Our marriage was thriving when Michael got sick. We truly had the marriage that everyone thought we did. Our love was deep and our commitment was solid. Tonight going through things, it broke my heart. I spent a majority of my life in a relationship with the wrong person. And when I did meet the right person, he was taken far too soon. I cried at what could have been. I cried because I was robbed. I cried because he wasn’t ready to die. And I wasn’t ready to lose him. I cried looking at the memories he made before I was in his life, and I felt a little sad and jealous that I didn’t get to share that part of his life with him. I wondered if we had raised children together, would our relationships with them have been better? Would they have wanted to be in our lives? Would we have had grandchildren bouncing on our knees? Or maybe we would have retired to some remote island. But none of that matters because he didn’t get to live long enough.

Michael and I were big on second chances. Our wedding invitation talked about second chances. I look at that photo above and I see a couple with hope, excitement, and a future. And it just absolutely sucks that our second chance was taken from us.

And now, 10 years after I made a deal to move to MN for 3 years, here I am. My kids both followed me here over the years (irony at its finest but I digress). I built a rescue here. I built a network here. And now, he’s gone.

And I miss him. 😥 ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa 

Poison Drugs, Part 2

Hello everyone 🙂

If you’re following, you know I had to take these poison pills the other night. pills

I took them Wednesday night, and all day Thursday I was SO SICK. It was almost the worst day of my life. Yesterday I was a little better, and today I’m much better. So it’s safe to say I’m tolerating the treatment okay. I’m sure they will get easier each week (she says with a tinge of hopefulness).

I can’t drink alcohol anymore because these drugs mess up my liver. So that’s a bummer because this time of year I like my boozy cocoas.

I’m doing okay. The steroids are kicking in again so the joint swelling is down. The Lyrica is working on the nerve pain and I’m building up a tolerance to it so it doesn’t dope me up me as badly anymore.

I heard from a friend this morning with a referral to PT, so part of me wants to take the plunge and get that going for my spine. But the bigger part of me feels like it’s just too much to deal with it all at once. I really want to focus on my RA and deal with my back later, but I feel like I started something I have to continue now. But part of me wants to give myself permission to just postpone the spine stuff. The Lyrica is working and I’m in much better shape pain-wise. I’ll need another fusion eventually (a third one) so I feel like postponing the second one just buys time until that third one. I keep wondering what Michael would say if he were here. I believe he would want me to focus on the RA because it’s internal and far more serious. I believe he would agree that we handle one issue at a time and that RA is priority. I believe that, anyway.

I woke up in a good mood today. I slept really well (OMG this bed!), played some music while I cleaned my kitchen and drank my coffee, played with the girls after they had breakfast. Here’s hoping that today continues to be a better day. ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa