Here’s the Thing…

I am trying my best to be socially active. And by that I mean, when one of my friends or cousins ask me out to dinner or anything, I’ll say yes. It gets me out and I get to have a conversation with someone.

Both of which I lack right now.

Someone inevitably asks, “How are you doing?” And they may mean it or it just might be a courtesy.

If I tell them I’m fine and I’m doing good, do they interpret that as me saying I’m ready to move on with my life?

Well, my life still has to go forward until it’s my turn. But then I sometimes think that if I say I’m good, they might think I’ve gotten over Steve… his life… his death. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get over that.

I do think it’s true, with the passage of time, you never stop mourning or grieving your loss, but you learn to live your life around it.

I try to hide it well. I try to only cry at night or in the car or when I’m working in the yard… places where no one actually sees me.

But the other side of the coin is, if I say I’m a mess, then they might think I’m unstable or a hot mess, and I have issues. Nobody wants a friend with issues or drama. I can’t guarantee that.

The thing is… since I don’t have Steve to chatter with everyday, when I get to talk to someone, I’m sure my mouth flaps like a duck’s ass. And who wants that? A one-sided conversation. And no one absolutely needs me to talk to them about my loss, how I really feel, because it all involves death… doom and gloom. That conversation gets old and depressing.

It’s been 1 year and 6 months since Steve died. To me, it’s unfathomable how time has passed. But they don’t realize it, because their life has carried on with the loss of Steve.

So, the thing is… if you invite me out, you might have to listen to me talking a lot. And if I reference Steve or you ask me how I am… be prepared…. For many reasons… even though my talking about Steve’s death could make you wish you never started to talk to me, remember, it may be because I’ve have no one to really talk to since he died. I’ve had “pockets” of conversation. And that’s the thing… No one to continue to talk to about Steve on a daily/frequent basis. But, for my friends who have not lost a spouse or significant other, and to keep others talking to me, I try not to depress them, in order to help me. Because everything about Steve’s death is depressing, and no one wants to hear that… I feel most situations at home when I don’t have to talk to anyone! Not on a dime… I’ll wait for a text response… I’ll wait for a message response… I’ll even wait for a phone call.

And that’s the thing… ☮️

Sometimes I Feel…

…that my life was cut short, when Steve passed away.

He was my partner in crime. We had so many plans for our future.

We loved to travel, sit on the front porch when it rained. And, in the past, we had bundled up on several occasions where there was as either a meteor shower or comet passing by at 2 in the morning!

Now, I have no partner physically by my side. I haven’t gone off the deep end in my daily life. Maybe, that’s what’s expected of me. I don’t know. I’ve never lost my husband before so there’s no comparison. So I would also hope that no one is judging me.

I’m still cooking and grocery shopping. I still have to eat and feed our daughter. I’m always inviting someone over… so I have a purpose to cook and don’t have to eat alone.

But, don’t let this fool you or anyone that I still don’t cry every day at least once… if not more.

There will always be those days and times, those little snippets, where I cry and let loose on what I’m doing. I’ll hit that low point… I’ll pull up my britches and realize I still have work here to be done.

Case in point, we… I… heat the house with oil. The backup was a wood stove. Well, due to global issues making the price of oil skyrocket, the wood stove is now my primary source of heat during the winter. For the last two weeks, as I struggled to haul split wood up the hill in our yard, I broke down and cried. How can I do this? How can I keep doing this? By myself without Steve? I cursed at him, thinking why would he leave me with this hard work.

Well, as I carried on, my thoughts came into perspective.

  1. Steve has nothing to do with today’s global issues.
  2. I’m grateful we have a wood stove to heat the house as opposed to using oil. Many people don’t have that option.
  3. Steve taught me well on how to stack wood and bank the stove up for the night. I learned by watching him.
  4. I’m so frugal because of today’s economy, and the times Steve and I grew up in… we never wasted food and I still don’t. Funny story, Steve took a sandwich to work one day, and a coworker said, “You know there’s mold on your bread, right?” Steve promptly removed it… and then finished his sandwich. That’s why I loved this guy.

But, my life was so full with Steve and the kids. I’m trying to look back on our adventures and the multitude of great times we had.

We often forget how great our past was and only think of how great our future was going to be. For sure, this is true.

But if I reflect on my life with Steve, and how I wished I had more with him, we lived a great physical life here… together… with our kids… adventures… memories.

Now, I just have to keep living. I’m not doing anything crazy… I’m just moving forward being me. And Steve will always be beside me sharing my experience.

So, while my life was cut short with Steve, it’s just a new journey with Steve by my side but in a different way.

☮️ and ❤️

Another Day

I’m going back to Monday, 8/8/2022. It started out as just another day.

It’s back to work at jobs we may or may not like. We start out our weekly routine. Back in the day, my aunt would have her cleaning schedule. Mondays would be laundry. Tuesday would be dusting. Wednesday would be bathroom cleaning and so on and so on.

It was a routine. I know I talked about this before, but I still struggle with my new routine.

Every day is just another day for me. What I don’t get done or feel like doing, I can always do it tomorrow. And, by chance, if tomorrow never comes for me (and some day it won’t), oh well! Will anyone realize that I didn’t vacuum or dust? Well, maybe they’ll notice the dust, because I hate it.

But on this particular day I had to write a check to pay a bill… and then it hit me. August 8 was our wedding anniversary. We would have been married 23 years, but together as a couple for 28 years. This is the second anniversary without him. I specifically chose this date (8/8/99), so he would remember… but he never did. He was just bad with dates. While these are just numbers and dates, the day is still important to me.

I might look through our wedding album and chuckle at how dark Steve’s hair was, or how skinny I was. And then I’ll look at the photos of the people there, and reminisce about that day, who was there, who is gone and cry – hopefully good tears. It was a great day. We were surrounded by those we loved the most, in our back yard, underneath a garden trellis. I wore pink, Steve wore dark green trousers. We were married on a Sunday and on Monday, we left for our honeymoon in Bermuda.

These days… they all have a number assigned to them, but it’s most important to remember the day… And smile 😊

The Search is On

I had this conversation with Steve in my thoughts.

I always was in some form or another in retail management, so personal relationships were frowned upon, and the hours that I worked were long and unpredictable, especially during the holidays. So, I never had a “bestie,” a gal pal, or anything of that nature.

Steve was my bestie. We knew what to expect of each other, how we would react and respond to any situation.

We both had friends, mostly Steve, that we would go out with and have some great times. Steve’s best friend was Brad, not to be confused with Steve’s son. Brad was such an integral part of our lives. I called him our son, he called Steve Pappy. He is one hell of of great friend! We could count on each other, Brad would fall asleep by our bonfire… just checking to make sure it was safe… 😉

Brad suffered a stroke in his early 40’s. And while he could no longer work side by side with Steve, life’s sneaky snake has its twists!

When Steve was going through his treatments in 2020, some restaurants were starting to re-open, and we set aside Tuesdays for “Pappy ‘n Brad” night. It was great to see the two of them carrying on like they were 20 years ago or so.

I’m not sure either of them knew that they may never pass this way again, but I knew this was Steve’s best friend for life and it felt good.

So, what I’ve come to realize, is that I’m now searching for a bestie. Maybe I’m trying too hard because I’m lonely. My bestie is gone. Our kids have been very supportive and understanding. I love them for all that.

Maybe I just need more time. Maybe I’m trying too hard to fill that “bestie” void.

After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Easing My Way

So, as my life has been learning to deal with the loss of Steve, in every aspect… daily mundane conversations, weekly plans, what are we having for dinner… blah blah blah. Since all our kids have flown the coop, and Steve isn’t here, it’s all totally on my plate to deal with my special needs daughter who is 37 years old .

And I’m good with that.

Steve never was selfish enough to ask me to put her in a group home so we could have more freedom and less challenges than other couples who were in our age bracket but not in our situation. Maybe there was a divine plan in action so that I would truly never be alone.

After Steve passed, I decided to get my affairs in order and finally apply to be her legal guardian. Great under the law but more paperwork for me.

So I approached her dad about this and he immediately signed off. “I can’t take her.” And that was his personal decision. I wasn’t asking him to.

And all that I can say is no one knows her better than her sister or me.

She’s not a handful, at least to me. But if someone new was thrown into her life, not having any experience in being a caretaker of someone with special needs, it could be a challenge. If you’ve ever had a two or three year old, in some respects, that’s what I deal with. But her cognitive levels are all over the charts. She’s smart, sometimes sneaky. She has echolalia, which means she pretty much just repeats or “parrots” what she hears, so sometimes it can be difficult to understand her needs and wants. But as long as she’s in her routine, she’s good – she’s always a pleasure.

I’m starting to take her out into the community more. In the past, she went to a day program so Steve and I had our breaks. But I also worked full time even after Steve had retired. So, he dealt with most of her care to make my life “easier.” He would cook her meals, give her baths, and tuck her into bed if I had to work nights. He’d get her dressed, give her breakfast, and send her off on the bus to her day care if I had to work mornings. There aren’t a lot of people who would embrace this situation, but Steve did. My kids were his kids.

Now that he’s gone, she’s my go-to for some outings. So far, they have been successful. You have to understand, she likes and needs her creature comforts. Don’t we all? I just have to be prepared knowing that my plan may not work out. So far, now that I’m easing my way out into the world again, we’ve been to Niagara Falls and to a local hamburger festival. Both were wins!

I’m contemplating a short beach trip next year and probably another festival locally.

You have to understand the beauty in this – as I get accustomed to my new life, I thought we could journey together. She’s my new partner in crime.

Easing, easing back into a life… outside my house… outside my comfort zone… outside not having Steve with me. I know he’s here and is still taking care of me. He’s helping me ease back out into the world.

Calculating

Here’s what I found to be calculated:

I know I’m lonely. I know I need daily conversation about nothing. I also know that I’ve discovered some of the best times to text and network with my kids, family and friends. Why? Because I have all the time in the world now to discover this and figure it out.

My son works second shift. So he’s unwinding just around the time I can’t fall asleep between 12:30 and 3 a.m.

My daughter is on the west coast, so, I’ve mastered… or tried to master… the 3 hour time difference.

My sister in New Mexico is a two hour time difference. So I plan accordingly.

What I’ve come to realize is that after we’ve exchanged a few messages, there is no longer a response. Why?

So, do they roll their eyes and think… or do they get back to me?

It’s that they are getting on with their lives. And mine, well, mine is not so exciting or eventful.

Yet, I’m so happy someone is responding and I could and can and will go on… responding… but that eventually ends.

Just when I feel I’ve sparked a conversation with someone who might possibly be interested in what I have to say, offer, or what I’m doing… the line goes dead.

That’s when I realize they are going on with whatever it is in their life right then… right now… at that moment, and our text conversation was the only thing I had going on .

And as much as they say they are here for me… they really don’t know… but they mean well.

When push comes to shove… I am the only one here for me, all the time, at any given moment.

I always hope, with all my friends and navigating the different time zones, someone will surprise me and say, “Hey, sorry I couldn’t text last night, yada yada yada.” But they don’t.

So I’m left to feel left out and needy…

So, now that I found this out, I’ll take a deep breath and be thankful that they’re still in my life, while they are continuing to enjoy their life, which I’ve learned should be cherished.

After all, don’t we always wish the best for our family, friends and loved ones?

So I’ve found out that life is for all of us… worth living… until something changes our life… and then we have to recalculate.

And Just When…

And just when everything starts to feel okay with the world, while you do the most normal part of your daily routine, a realization will hit you like a ton of bricks, and suddenly you don’t feel so normal or okay.

I just let the cat out, and I let her back in at the end of the night. It’s just what I do.

I do my final routine before crawling into bed. We all do that – wash your face, brush your teeth, take out your contacts, put on your comfy pajamas.

Every day I feed the deer that come to our back yard. It’s what Steve did. It was part of his daily routine, and now it’s mine.

I grocery shop, I get gas for the car, as we all do…

But then, there’s that moment, when I’m doing all of this, and I realize it’s by myself now. And I cry.

My needs, the household needs, haven’t changed. Things still need to be done on a regular basis. But I’m no longer on a daily basis, or a rigid schedule. It’s more flexible now. I’ve decided to take things as I feel fit to do.

So, I keep a list of things I want to do. I allow myself to cross things off and I allow myself to think “I should really do that.” But it keeps me going… so I don’t run out of things when I just thought I was done.

Truth is, I don’t ever want to be out of things… just done… at least until I’m 80ish. Steve and I have so many plans and visions for our “cottage.” I’d like to be able to see them through. And then… just then… I’ll be happy and at peace… and just when that will be… is just then.

Let’s Talk About It

Anyone who has been in any type of relationship has talked about it.

“It” being… anything. Whether it was dinner plans, a future vacation or where we’re going that day… The talk about “it” could mean many things.

And I don’t mean that every day decisions like a meal should be a big deal, but you ask, you inquire, it’s not a big deal but there’s a response. It’s everyday conversations. But yet, in a small way, a short way… you talk about it. You plan. Sometimes you don’t talk because you know each other too well, you just know.

Now that I’m a widow, I don’t just know. I have no one to get any type of feedback from, even in the smallest of scenarios.

Whether I want to plan a meal and make something like eggplant parmigiana, or a chicken dish, or a salad or when I want to just ask… “Honey, what are you hungry for?” There is no response.

I’m the only one to respond and sometimes as much as everything sounds great, in the end, is it really enough to satisfy just me?

I’m hungry for it but after I eat it… it’s like… blah blah blah. There are no critiques, no “This was really good,” or “Next time let’s try this.”

It’s just… it is what it is.

That’s the end of the talk in my head.

Was it good? Could I have made it better? I don’t know.

We spend so much of our lives trying to improve what we do to make each other happy and to see other people enjoy themselves in a good meal, or any type of experience, because that makes us happy. And now, as we continue to live without their input on our everyday lives, we have to somehow find satisfaction in what we continue to do.

I’ll never forget one such instance – I made potato salad from scratch. It was so good, Steve said. It made me blush. We were still dating at the time. Every time I made it going forward, Steve reminded me of that first time I made it for him… and I blushed all over again. Something so simple and silly. I miss those times.

And after a year, the struggle is still real. I keep talking to Steve. I ask him all the time for his input.

I’ve learned to sleep on any major decisions, as well as his side of the bed. I run ideas by our kids.

But, in the end, it’s me talking and making the decisions.

So, I’ll keep talking… and talking… until it’s time for a decision. I know Steve will somehow guide me with some pros and cons. I can hear him. I know I’ll always hear him. But, like in any relationship, will I always listen? Hmmm…

So the next time you hear someone talking to themselves, make a note, that sometimes someone they know is listening.

Navigation

All of our lives, we navigate. We may not feel like we are the captains of our ship at times, but we are.

When we make decisions early on in our lives… and I mean primarily starting as soon as we are presented and given options.

What sports do we want to pursue? What are we passionate about? People guide us, hopefully, they point out the plusses and the minuses, but they ultimately make the decision ours.

Widowhood is definitely not ever a chosen path. It’s not on one of those career choices where we check that box. Graduating from high school… desire is to be a widow.

We somehow know, in the way back section of our brain and subconscious, one will die before the other. We all get that. But we hope to grow old together into our twilight years and celebrate many outstanding years of marriage and celebrate by taking a vacation or a cruise. Just like those that are lucky enough to post that in our Sunday paper.

So, Steve passed in 2021 at the age of 67, I was 61. Our twilight years were just starting. I know, so sad right?

Now, I’m navigating those years by myself. Oh, I talk to Steve all the time, I feel he is always with me. I’m trying to get on with life, as if he physically was still here. But he’s just in my heart and my mind.

Sometimes, people have said, “Well, she looks fine to me… she’s going here … she’s going there…” But the truth is… I’m searching…. Navigating those new seas.

I’ve lost my compass, and now I have to navigate my life without it.

I’m always searching… trying to keep the house in good shape, looking for that next trip , saying yes to any friends that ask me to go out to dinner. I start a few projects since I really have no focus. It’s just busy work, to keep my mind free of my anguish, my loss.

And I thought a lot about this lately, as Steve has passed on, am I so sad because I’m selfish? It’s seems to be about me. What I miss, who will go here with me, and when I choose a place, I feel guilty because Steve would have loved and enjoyed this also.

But, it’s not the same.

Life is a navigation.

Learning to live life without your compass… that’s a whole new world .

I wish everyone well in their navigation through life 💕

A Bottle

There was a post in the Nextdoor app about how a woman met another woman at the checkout line in a store. The one stranger, “Mary,” gave “Sue” some words of encouragement and kindness that Sue very much needed. It was a thread from a local county. Sue posted it cause she just wanted Mary to know how touched she was and how it made her feel. You see, they were both widows.

I then posted a comment about how I’m dealing with my loss of Steve. Others suggested group counseling. I took a dear friend to a group counseling session years ago, and I wasn’t impressed. It seemed like everyone was focused on only one person’s loss and the others in the group never could express their grief.

But that’s not for anyone.

I stated in the thread that a good bottle of wine is what gets me flowing and brings my true feelings to the surface. But that’s just me!

So now you all know I have possibly consumed at least 62 bottles of wine since I’ve been writing this blog.

That’s my way of coping, you may do something else… divulge in a decadent dessert, go to a special place, complete a routine as if your loved one was right by your side. I’m sure, in most cases, they are.

A lot of people offered to listen or connect with “Sue.” Again, she may want to but as for me, right now, I’m fine with the family and friends I have.

Some are those that I can open up to and they get it. Even though they haven’t had the loss of a spouse, I’m okay with telling them things, how I feel, and crying at any time during the visit. They knew Steve, so they get it. They offer support in many ways. But I try to only ask for help for things I can’t do or have no knowledge of… electric… some power tools… etc

For instance, I have a friend whose husband is my plumber.

My cousin’s husband is my electrician…

While I do pay them for their services, it saves me a ton of $ by not having a contractor come.

I use my daughter for emotional support, only because she’s in a different time zone from me and then my son, for all the other grunt work… hanging a cabinet or splitting wood.

Not only do they save me money but they save me the agony of getting multiple estimates of jobs.

Maybe that’s why they say you can never have too many friends or don’t burn bridges. Some or many of these sayings, have merit.

Another saying is… it’s true, the older you get the wiser you get. That’s because you can’t change the past but hopefully you learn from it.

I posted my info for my blog on the thread for those that are curious or would like to read it. They may feel the same way… or maybe not. And either way, that’s okay.

Grief is different for everyone. We all express it in different ways. It’s your way or my way of dealing with loss and that’s okay. Just because someone says “widowhood looks good on you,” like I’ve heard already, doesn’t mean that you were a total wreck while married. I think they just expect the worst now that my other half is gone. And that’s okay too. It all takes time. Four months after Steve passed, I left a retirement party in tears. It was the second group event since he had passed and I couldn’t linger by myself any longer. I was hiding in a safe zone because I couldn’t find myself being that sociable or happy yet. It still brings me to tears how I felt that day.

But you wonder, if I don’t go, when will they stop inviting me? What if I end up losing my friends in my grief? So… I go!

So, now you know… I rescued another bottle of wine that was trapped under the cork!

See you all next week ☮️