Isn’t it funny how you can watch tv, the news, read a newspaper, flip through a magazine, watch a movie… and hear or watch it and that’s all you do. But, then one day…
All those articles, news briefs, current movies…. Start to hit home.
It’s not that you didn’t feel, in your thoughts or emotions, about those stories or what had happened… they just weren’t personal. It had to do with “other” people. People you didn’t know, but now…. It’s personal, it’s your person that’s being affected, and all those ads, advertisements, movie scenes, coincide with your personal life. It’s as if these messages were following you around waiting to strike at your most vulnerable time.
I remember Steve asking me, just after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, am I going to leave him? Because he saw on the news how many marriages break up after a cancer diagnosis. It never crossed my mind, but yet, there was a news story about it that coincided with our lives.
And then, after Steve passed away in 2021, there was the Netflix show “After Life”. How appropriate for me to watch in my most vulnerable time.
And tonight I watched “A Man Called Otto”. Again, so honest about how I have felt at times since Steve passed away, to a degree of actions that I wouldn’t/won’t act upon, but, I could understand how Otto might feel this way.
Within a month after Steve passing, I went on a scheduled trip to our favorite winery in North Carolina. It was an “incentive“ for Steve to keep hanging on and fight, but sadly he didn’t make it. While I was there, I saw was a news story about giving hope to men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. I can’t even tell you what it was, it was so soon after Steve had passed away, it probably wouldn’t have helped in his situation, but I remember thinking, “If only…”
And I know, it’s not funny… it was just in the cards… Steve’s fate, my future… the future of others.
I’m sure, every time a new discovery is made, I’ll be happy but I’ll be sad,
….It really won’t be “funny,” but a great new discovery!
It’s now been two years since Steve has passed away.
I will say, the first year was the toughest… and then you just accept the future.
And now, I’m living my future, day by day.
Since Steve has died, I lost my youngest brother, and most recently, a brother in law, and his wife, my sister, still continues to be my rock!
My kids are always there for me, but the level of loss is different. Yet, my sister, who had to deal with so much in her married life, always has something positive to tell me or tell me that I’m still okay.
Steve’s favorite flower was poppies. Every spring we would plant a few. The spring he was home on hospice, I made sure he knew I had two to plant. That was 2021. I planted again in 2022, but missed 2023 because I was with my sister in New Mexico because she just lost her husband. Steve would understand.
There is a place very close to her house, Baylor Canyon Pass in the Organ Mountains, in Las Cruces New Mexico, my sister’s back yard, yet… we could not find a single poppy field!
Why? Who knows! There are beautiful pics on the internet and we searched and drove multiple times in case we missed them . I’ll just have to keep visiting my sister every spring to pay homage to Steve.
I do know why I pick fresh flowers every day to put by his picture on my nightstand, I do know why I let my window open when our lilacs are blossoming and their fragrance permeates our bedroom.
I just don’t know why… sometimes, family or friends think… so I keep these special things that I do to myself…. Then I don’t have to worry about what they think… I just know I’m good
I’m sorry I have not told you or anyone about my life in the last 4 weeks or so. But… that’s life!
I took a break because my youngest sister was also going through the same life decisions, tragedy that we all go through at some point in life. Hers was very bittersweet.
Steve and I were married
We lived a happy, healthy life, we enjoyed a lot together.
Tragedy struck in 2001, the aftermath that continued after 9/11…bomb scares, evacuations…
As a result of a bomb scare, and the evacuation of the airport while she and her family were traveling, it changed my sister, her 3 young children, and most of all her husband, he became a quadriplegic.
Her husband passed away after 22 years of dealing with this aftermath.
Every year, when we mourn those lives lost, I think about my brother in law and how it changed his life, and think about how many others that might have suffered also due to the attacks… bomb threats, heart attacks.. stress… anxiety…
I spent the last four weeks with her, just doing things that she could do, but the little things she shouldn’t be concerned with.
When friends would visit, I would help prepare, clean up. The last thing she needed was to worry about a mess in the morning.
As I know, and it’s sad… within a week, she was dealing with phone calls and texts and emails. People want to express themselves about your loss, and the legal aspects kick in immediately. One really never gets the option to mourn, absorb, realize or rationalize what has just happened.
There should be a law that allows you to grieve and realize what has happened in your life which is so monumental. Maybe a 30 day moratorium… before all the legal bs kicks in.
While I was there, no matter how many hours she spent on the phone or computer, we declared 4 pm as our happy time. We put dinner in the oven, poured ourselves some wine, sat outside for some sun and vitamin D, and talked. We talked about anything, wherever the conversation took us. I offered her some legal advice, but I let her lead the conversations… I had been there but she’s now here.
One of the most important things she’ll learn is that things will settle down. She will now have to find herself, as an empty nester, a widow, living by herself with no caretakers coming and going, no time constraints, she’ll have more privacy and time to reflect on her life and where she’s headed.
All our paths are different, for different reasons.
I decided to title this for many reasons, but it truly is dedicated to my brother. Here’s our story…
My brother, Glenn, was born on May 18, 1970, I was only 10 at the time. He was the youngest of seven children, I was number two from the top. But that’s how I remember all the birthdays and years of a family so big! We didn’t have cellphones to remind us. We maybe just had a calendar. But we always celebrated.
Within a month after Glenn was born, my older sister, Wendy, noticed a red swelling in his arm.
Siblings were always enlisted when needed to care for the younger kids. After all, Mom had to cook sometime, prepare lunches for school, help with homework, manage laundry and bath times, and our mom also always worked or volunteered at our school.
The swelling turned out to be osteomyelitis, which, back in 1970, was unheard of. And if you google it today, it’s rare, less than 200,000 cases a year. It’s a bone infection. Back then, everything was treated with an antibiotic. But there was no way to determine why or who was at fault. And when there’s only one pediatrician in the city… you trust them, they made house calls, they were like family.
This plagued my brother throughout his life. It affected his bone growth, so he wore lifts in his shoes, and he had a shorter right arm. The condition led to lifelong dispositions, uncomfortable, pain meds, doctor visits, bone fusions, poor dental health.
Despite all these issues, he was the best brother. Always was smiling. Never had a bad word about any of us. He lived with my parents all his life because of his health issues, and he was the “baby”.
He helped his 5 sisters through divorces with “man” questions, and he said, “This is why I won’t get married.”
Glenn, passed away just after his 51st birthday. It was May 23, 2021… just over 3 weeks after I lost Steve, which was May 1, 2021.
May of 2021 was not kind to me. Or my family.
But we carry on.
Now that it has been some time since I lost two extremely important people in my life…
A few weeks ago, I actually had a dream where my brother came to me. I woke up sobbing. But I remember it vividly. I told my sister, Julie, about it. This was the first time I had ever seen him in my dreams since he passed.
She offered me some insight…. “How could you possibly mourn Glenn, just after Steve’s passing 3 weeks prior and not feel guilty?”
Who could you be mourning or missing more? You can’t equate them both.
So… oh brother!
I welcome anyone into my dreams … that connects me to them … our lives… that feeling of warmth…
Oh Brother! I miss you and Steve and all others that gave us great memories that we have .
Oh brother… I hope…. Here we go again… until next time…. Dream on … embrace those dreams and memories… every day is precious… ☮️ and ❤️
I think that’s about what sums up life, at least my life now.
We all know they have 4 right angled corners. You travel down one side, you immediately turn, travel again, turn, and so on. It’s a very rigid and orderly shape.
I’d say that was my life earlier on. I married young. We had a plan. That plan ended. Probably because our plan was so rigid and goal-oriented. Not that we aspired to great job positions or wealth, it was just a plan. We had hit corner after corner. We didn’t know how to compromise. There were only right angles, nothing was obtuse.
Then we divorced.
It has three angles of varying degrees based on the length of its side. It’s a little less predictable. A triangle can come in many different dimensions.
During my divorce, I had to learn who I was. So, while I didn’t have 90 degree angles anymore, I was learning about me and how much I could bend. After all, I pretty much went form my parents home to my married home and now to a single mom divorced home with three children. Whew! Glad I got all that out.
It’s a good thing that triangles have varying degrees. This is when I searched to be myself and not compromise my relationship or responsibility with my kids. Although the divorce gave them some tumultuous years.
So, as the lengths in my triangle grew and shrunk, and the angles changed, it did help me become less uptight. That’s the great thing about triangles… they can never go wrong. No matter what the degree of their angles. As long as there are three, it’s still a triangle that allows some flexibility just when you need it. Discover how much you want to look at things and live with another angle in life.
And then I met and married Steve. He had his standards… his right angles and obtuse angles, but we made our angles work together through thick and thin. Good times, bad times, travel times, great times, party times, kids times, sad times, happy times… but it was ultimately our time.
As we all know, a circle has no angles. It’s a continuum. It goes round and round and… well, you get the picture.
I think… therefore, it’s true, I am now officially a circle. I’ve done all the hard things… raised three children, helped one through college, another one through the Navy. I’m still a roommate with our special needs daughter. I’ve lost all parents on both sides, and lost two brothers. And I lost Steve.
But if a circle is a continuum, did I really lose them?
I’ve been reading a book by my favorite author, Mitch Albom, The Stranger in the Lifeboat.
And if you turn to page 241, this is what is printed:
So, why did our daughter buy me this particular Mitch Albom book when I still have a few others to read? 🤷🏻♀️
Why do I find so much truth in this? 🤷🏻♀️
Why do I believe that God gives us people in our lives to serve a purpose? Squares, triangles, circles… 🤷🏻♀️
I believe He gives us all the angles and people we need at the that time in our lives to choose our paths, learn from or correct that path, change it, bend those angles, until we get to that time where we are in total acceptance of him and the choices we made.
Then we are a ⭕️ circle. I have come full circle. We know I can’t bring Steve back in a physical sense, but his spirit will never leave, our times and our memories will always be ours. It truly is a circle of life, I just wish I knew this earlier in life so I wouldn’t have spent so many years of worry and anxiety over what would be so endearing and enjoyable and enlightening in my later years.
So, a few last words…
I hope Mitch Albom doesn’t come after me because I give him full credit. But I’d love to meet him… call 📞me!
I believe God sends people into our lives for a purpose, to teach or show us something… love, tolerance, patience, or because we have a strength to handle or a weakness we need to strengthen, or a battle of our own demons that we can turn around to help others.
But, the geometry is up to us… again… God gives us choices…
Every now and then, I’ll hear my daughter sing these obscure songs from the past, TV shows we haven’t watched in decades, if ever. All of a sudden, she’s singing away.
Her latest was from the Partridge Family, “C’mon Get Happy.” I pulled it up on YouTube and for quite a few moments, we were getting happy… giggly happy.
And don’t we all wish, that just for those cherished and precious moments, we can all be happy and giggly without anyone thinking we were being juvenile or childish in our reactions? We should all hope to be childlike to keep our quest for life and be inquisitive to keep us going.
Well, in early January, I did a thing! And in case you didn’t read my previous post, I wrote about my resolutions, that I broke the bank and got a new car. Among other things, am I happy?
I’m so proud, not sure that I’m truly happy yet. Here’s the deal… I took the leap! New year! Caution to the wind!
So I should be happy, right? I wake up every day, my health is good, I take care of my daughter. I’m retired. I have a sweet new ride. My life is still the same almost everyday, except that Steve’s not here.
I’m keeping up with the house, the yard, the bills. I keep chugging along but even though I might seem happy, I’m still only trying to be happy. All the changes I’ve made around the house, it’s basically busy work. It keeps me occupied and focused on other things. Otherwise, I would always be sad.
There will be moments when I’m doing something , then I’ll just break down and cry because I miss him so much.
But, as I continue with my conversations with Steve and bring them to fruition, I am happy… for fulfilling our goals and dreams. I’m not going off the deep end and trying to be someone I’m not. This was in our plans. I know plans change. I’m realistic. After all, my plans were to have Steve here with me into at the very least, my 70’s, his 80’s. But that changed.
But, I’m happy with my decisions. I don’t know that I’ll ever be Partridge Family “C’mon Get Happy,” but I’m going to keep trying! 🎶
You all know you are going to google that song now! 🎶
I’m not sure if this is the right title, but this is how I feel.
I know I’ve talked about friends that Steve and I have had in the past.
You really find out who your real friends are when one of the two of you have passed. Most, if not all, have been by my side. They’re offering me advice when asked. They’ve come over to help fix things I can’t. And we all know there are those that say if you need anything, to talk or help, let me know. But then there are those fair weather friends.
You spent many nights cooking out together, drinking by the fire, discussing every day issues and family things. Then all of a sudden… they are only there for you when it’s convenient for them.
I’ve talked about this one person in particular, I’ll call her the “Cork Lady.” As a refresher, she was a friend who told me less than two weeks after Steve passed that she had put a cork under his arm from our favorite vineyard to be cremated with him. She didn’t ask… she hid it… it was very personal to me and I was upset. She didn’t ask. So it went with him, without my knowledge.
Her husband, who was our car mechanic for years, couldn’t offer advice as to what needs stabilizer in the winter as far as yard gas appliances go. For years, this same guy, rode our tail and said we should get rid of our Subaru… it came up in almost every conversation.
So, I finally did it. After almost 20 years of the same Subaru with 369k miles on the engine… I took the dive! I was going for 525k because that was the record at my mechanic’s shop. But Sally Subaru was going to need a timing belt, body work by the gas tank, a new windshield, and 3 codes were showing up on the emission. She still ran great, AC worked, heated seats worked. I loved her so dearly. My heart was broken again…
So, hello 2023! I got another emotional purchase. I was hoping to put it off until April, but it seems my research yielded very few Subaru WRX CVT … so this car was calling me.
I know it’s not a buyer’s market. But it was what Steve and I had discussed since our former neighbor had one a few years ago. We were always committed to the brand. We all have our favorite cars. But, knowing how long Sally lasted me, I’m hopeful this will be my last car purchase. If, in 18 years, this will still be on the road, I’ll be 81! I might not even be driving then 🤷♀️
But, back to Cork Lady.
So, I posted my achievement on Facebook, she didn’t respond. Okay, not everyone checks it every day. Just last week, Cork Lady and I shared a bottle of wine and exchanged neighborly gifts like we had done for years.
So, today, I stopped over into their cul de sac to show her my new purchase… and she was very blasé about it. I don’t get it.
I’m not off my rocker, not on the deep edge and doing stupid stuff since Steve passed away. I’m so frugal, I use the water from my dehumidifier to water my plants, I hang my laundry around our bar stools so I don’t have to use the electric dryer. My thermostat is set at 62 so I heat the house with wood because oil is expensive now… I guess I just expected her to be more happy for me. I guess my loss is no longer her concern.
As I promised myself, I’m going to keep taking the high road. Because I still hear Steve telling me “let it go honey.” And I will. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that my timing was off, she had other things going on that she was preoccupied with. I sent her a text asking her if she was okay today, that she seemed not like herself. I’ll await her response. You never really know what someone else is going through that could alter their state of mind and affect their behavior towards you.
I’m willing to understand her struggles whatever they are. But her indifference to a friend, it’s not acceptable.
There may be some changes no my horizons…
I still need to be around those who don’t dwell on my situation, but are understanding and supportive and happy for me, as friends should be… through thick and thin. So I’m finding out… some of my BEST friends will make me stronger.
Another year has passed us by. I hope all our years are good – great would be even better, but if you are reading this, chances are you’re dealing with a loss, a significant loss.
I keep pushing forward as most of us will. Why? Because it’s not my time yet. I believe we all have a time of expiration like food products. Nothing lasts forever. Some of us might make our choice on when to go but then isn’t that also our predetermined expiration date? I don’t know.
I’ve started following Julie, aka “spilledmilkmomma” on Instagram. She lost her husband just 4 weeks after giving birth to their second child. My oh my, when I think about how my loss is compared to hers… comparing our experiences to others is something we all tend to do, but truthfully no one’s loss is greater than any others. I believe it’s the strength we are given to deal with that loss, it gets us through day by day.
It’s been a year and 8 months since Steve passed away.
Things that I am working to change are:
I can no longer say in a conversation that he passed away last year, because that was 2021 and now it’s 2023. It’s hard to adjust to the time that’s gone by.
I can no longer procrastinate around the house. After all, if I don’t complete a task on one day, there is no one to help me out as the workload around the house begins to mount and then I’ll be overwhelmed and just give up.
I vow to eat lunch out at least one time by myself in 2023. Who doesn’t like a great lunch served to them? It’s the hurdle of getting over being by myself that’s the challenge. But I can do it, it’s only lunch… right?
I need to realize that with inflation, I will also have to curb my spending. And that means cutting back on traveling, getaways that might be needed to remove me from my reality. It means that Steve’s deer will only be fed every other day instead of daily since the price of corn has doubled since he started feeding them and I’ve carried it on.
But, it also means I will not give up on being that person at the farmers market that pays it forward for just $20 a week. That produce could be much needed by a family and I’m sure it’s just a partial on their bill.
I will keep on trying to be kind and when my temper gets the best of me, I won’t instantaneously react. I’ll give it time and realize that I’m glad I did because otherwise, that would have made me a rotten tomato. And I believe in karma.
So, there you have it. Not many new resolutions, just improving on me.
I’ll always be a mom.
I’ll always be Steve’s wife.
I’ll always be a sister, friend, cousin, neighbor. But these hats that I wear are those that I will keep trying to improve upon.
So… happy new resolutions to me… and to you!
May you be better, mentally, physically and emotionally in 2023! ☮️
Previously, I had talked about finding a “bestie.” You know, just a really close friend, someone who jived with me, to travel with, or go out to eat with, so I don’t have to do it alone. And somehow I thought if a had a good friend, that would make my life better. I’m in closer contact with my first cousins and maybe I need to give it a lot more time.
I recently returned from “our” go-to place, the winery in North Carolina. It’s our special place, we could tell our family we were going to the winery and they all knew just where it was. We had my 50th birthday party there, Steve’s 60th birthday there, so we hoped everyone that was able to attend could see how special that place was to us.
Well, I’ve taken a sister there with me for company so I didn’t have to go it alone. She turned out to be a “Debbie downer.” She couldn’t understand how or why we (Steve and I), could just drink wine and sit at the winery and chill in the North Carolina breeze, with the sun warming our faces. Sometimes, we, Steve and I, hardly talked, but the heart felt it all.
I’ve gone twice by myself since then.
One time, I traveled there by myself, but I connected with some friends who live nearby for a winemakers dinner, which Steve and I were never able to attend because of my work. One of those friends had lost her husband suddenly, 5 months after Steve’s passing, and I was amazed by her strength. And now, she has two boys, 12 and 10 years old to raise. But she’s a spectacular and positive person, so she hides her grief well.
The other time I went totally by myself was a full blown disaster. Weather delays caused me to reschedule my flight… into another airport, I had no rental car available then, had to Lyft at 2 in the morning. Thankfully, we had so many friends that we knew through the years, they took me if I needed anything, to an ATM machine, to get snacks for my hotel room, they even joined me for lunch so I didn’t have to eat alone. And I never asked them… they just wanted to do it.
Well, this brings me to my conclusion – I just got back from a trip to that same winery with another friend. She’s divorced, and doesn’t travel a lot. I’ve known her for many years but I’ve never really known her well until this trip. She is my sister’s best friend, but she was around us so much at family gatherings and through fun and hard times… I thought… why not ask her to go with me!? While she was a great person to travel with – she wasn’t demanding, we had fun, we laughed – by day 4 of 6, I kept thinking… and I’d tell myself I’m just grateful for her company, I hope she’s enjoying this getaway, and… I’ll probably not ever ask her to go with me again!
The truth is, looking at all of the experiences I’ve had since Steve is gone, the trips I took by myself, even the disaster trip, were still the best ones.
I don’t want to invite anyone with me who I feel like I have to entertain and see that they have a good time because they’ve never been there. We always had a great time… slowing down… drinking… eating…. Just chilling. And I want to keep going there and doing the same thing… at my pace… not as a tour guide unless the mood hits me.
So, that’s why I’ve decided…. The search is over… I’m just going to accept it as it is and no longer seek that person who I thought I knew enough to travel with, call up for dinner… maybe and I’m pretty sure I need more time for this to happen but as a human, you will always look to fill a void to find happiness. I wake up every day and choose to be happy. So, I’m moving on. I’ll stick to what I know that I get joy out of and let the pieces fall where they may.
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.