Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Dress

This week I am at Camp Widow West (Woop!).

Since I’m at camp I’ll save my typing (on my phone) and will spill the beans next week about my experience at camp.

This week I want to share something I have been thinking about.

For Camp Widow I HAD to have an amazing dress.. well in my head I thought I had to have the perfect dress. 

With limited funds and a sense of panic, an amazing person came to my rescue. 

I was given a dress that had never been worn.

This wasn't just a dress. It was THE dress. 

This dress was more amazing then I envisioned. When I put it on, I carefully did a little twirl, skip and a hop.

This dress made me feel.. Important.

When I sent it in to be altered I had extreme anxiety about it.

What if they mess up my dress? What if I have to find another dress right before camp? What if? What if?

It dawned on me I had more anxiety over my Camp Widow dress getting altered then I did my wedding dress.
Me enjoying my wedding dress - 2005

Why? I don’t know. I guess because if my wedding dress was wrong, I was still getting married either way.. even if I had to wear pajama’s.

But my Camp Widow dress? I couldn't just show up in my pajama’s… 
well they would have accepted me no matter what I was wearing, but in my head, this was (is) a huge event.

I've been thinking about how some of my favorite memories involve me wearing a big fancy dress. Prom, my wedding and now.. camp widow.

I realized I very rarely get to wear a fancy dress. There are very few occasions to wear one to.

There are very few occasions where dancing the night away in a fancy dress is a given.

So now I get to brag and show off my dress!!

Tada!! Aren't you amazed? Yah I know, me too!!

Okay, I am done bragging.

To the person that donated this dress to me… thank you for the bottom of my soul. The dress has become a part of me. Every time I see it hanging up in my closet I will always remember the amazing memories made at Camp Widow. I promise you, one day I will pay it forward. 
I will help a widow in need, even if it means passing this dress on. So Thank You!!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


“Feel, she told herself, feel, feel, feel. Even if what you feel is pain, only let yourself feel.”
P.D. James

I'm in a glorious land.

A land of raw emotion. A land of truth...pain...grief...perseverance.

I'm in a land of unveiling. A land of vulnerability.

Simply put, a land of honesty and reflection.

The land of widows and widowers (aka Camp Widow).

You see the fear and hesitation for those taking the first steps to unveiling the mirror and seeing their reflection in those that share in this lifetime journey.

The feeling...deep feeling in the center of the chest...their heart...exposes the emotions withheld...buried...waiting for this moment to arrive to the surface to face head on.

To conquer.

And they feel.

We feel.

I feel.

It's an amazing experience.

A life changing experience that evolves us from the shell of a being we accept ourselves as, after the loss of our other half, to realizing and unearthing the person we still are and will continue to beautifully evolve to.

And we feel.
And we grow.
And we are.

Friday, June 28, 2013

One Really Empty Closet

It’s done. It’s been a long time in coming but all her clothes are gone. There’s now a large gaping hole in our closet where just days ago a whole bunch of happy cotton and polyester reminders used to hang. The sight of the half empty space is jarring but I feel rather numb about it all.

This was my last big rip of the band-aid, the last big step that needed to be taken, my last mountain to climb. The thought of starting that task still somehow strikes me cold, a mental game I’ve practiced so many times in the last four years. But then I remember the task is done and suddenly I panic with questions:

· Did I forget to save that special whatever?
· What if I forget about that time she wore whatever?
· Blah blah blah whatever?

The questions are rapid fire and they all lead me in one direction – the past. Since I can’t go back in time (And, oh trust me! If there was a way to mentally force time to go backwards, I’d have figured it out by now by sheer willpower and mental force!) by standing looking backward I’m still moving forward, just not the direction I choose. I’m in the passenger seat letting life drive me around while I sit and wish for what can’t be had.

It’s time I got in the drivers seat again. It’s been a long time.

Thursday, June 27, 2013



Since he's been gone,
So much has changed.

Sometimes I can't believe how much he's missed, and how much has changed since he was here last. Our favorite artists have come out with multiple albums he's missed, his favorite sports teams writing more history, buildings he'll never see, restaurants he'll never try. I could go on and on to the point where it sickens me. Will there come a time where the world as Jeremy knew it won't exist anymore?

But, there are some things that I cannot bring myself to change....or touch, or alter. Things are just his. It struck me last week that there are still quite a few things that haven't changed since he left.

The 4 digit code I create whenever I need one - it's still the one he created.
The tons of awful music on our itunes that I'll never listen to but can't seem to get rid of because he put it there.
The background picture on his old ipod that my son uses...I can't seem to change it because I know Jeremy set it.
His bible I still carry in my purse with a set list scribbled on a paper and used as a bookmark that I can't seem to move.
His way-past-its-prime old pillow that sits in my closet that clearly needs to be thrown away, but I can't move it.

There are just some things that I cannot bring myself to alter or change because it feels like I'm erasing the few tangible things left that Jeremy touched. It's always surreal to sit and look at his handwriting and know that at some point, he was here - living and breathing - and writing down those words. So insignificant and now suddenly one of the few things I have to hold on to, and it means everything to me.

Life will continue to change, no matter how I feel about it. It won't freeze to where Jeremy left it. But there are some pieces of him, frozen in time, that I hold on to for dear life in hopes that the world won't alter so much without him in it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Every Now and Then ......

...... a thought pops into my head.
It used to pop into my head all of the time.
In fact, it didn't so much "pop" in there ...... as it took up residence.

That thought?
"I can't believe this is my life."

I'm very thankful that it only visits me once in a great while now.

Back in the early days (weeks, months) of my grief that thought would almost paralyze me with it's cold slap of reality.
I really couldn't believe that the life I was living, the reality that was a living nightmare, was really happening.
Every time that thought reared up inside of me it seemed to knock all of the air out of my lungs.  It was as if that thought was so large and so all-consuming that it pushed the air ...... and the little life that seemed to be left ...... out of my body and my mind.

This is a very difficult experience to put into words.  I feel incapable of describing it in a way that really conveys the huge impact this thought had on me.  I feel incapable of making anyone understand the immenseness ...... and the cold inky blackness ...... that invaded my being when that thought moved in.
Anyone but you, that is.

I know that, with you, I don't have to search for words to help you understand.  I don't have to struggle to make you "get it".
With you ...... I don't feel as if I now speak a completely different language that no one else understands.

And for all of that, I'm so very sorry.
But grateful, too.

I'm sorry that you understand.  I wish that you didn't "get it".  I hate that anyone else has to go through this hellish experience ...... and that none of you can believe that this is your life.
But I'm relieved that you do.

And I hope, with every fiber of my being, that one day, sooner than you think ...... you, too, will find that that thought no longer resides with you.  I hope that you will soon realize that it only pops into your head once in a great while.
And that when it does ...... it no longer has the power to paralyze you with its cold darkness.

 I hope that I can give those of you who are new here even a small piece of that hope ...... and remind those of you who are not-so-new to hold on to this:
"I can't believe this is my life" ...... as well as all of the other dark thoughts and waves that come at you relentlessly ...... really do start to fade in their strength and occurrences.

It's such a relief to find that those things, and that thought, are much easier to deal with ...... when they only come every now and then.

We all need that hope.
And those kind of reminders.
Every now and then.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Extremely late and incredibly sorry

What can I say - I am on holidays and holiday time has hit me.  Sorry.

That and I have some epic crap going on behind the scenes ... one thing to do with the fall out from Greg's death (still) and the other to do with my brother's health (send him good vibes on Friday please).

While I have found some time to have fun these school holidays (ie - go out and take photos), I feel like I have a massive concrete block hanging over my head as I wait for Friday to be gone. 
I can't go into details but the thought of going back into the hell of the facts has got me dredging up the hard stuff  that I don't think about.
I know he is dead, but this stuff gets me thinking about the *how* of his death.  My nightmares ( can you have day-mares because this stuff comes when I am not asleep) are not pretty.  The horror is something I don't think I will ever be rid of .... so I stuff it to the back of my mind.

So sorry for my late post today.  I hope that by next week I won't feel like I am being crushed under the weight of my world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Miss Sadness

I wrote the following just a few days ago and I'm already in a different mindset now. Reading it, I think "Whoa, this chick is DRAMATIC,", and I'm a little embarrassed now that the misery has lightened a lot. But, this is the truth of grief and depression. Here it is. The real deal. It's ugly and sad and feels endless while I'm in it, but it doesn't last forever at this volume (thank God).

I don't get true pleasure from anything lately. There have been a few moments since Dave died when I did, but it's always been muted. Experienced through a gauzy, hazy layer of numbness. Lately, though, even getting simple comfort has been hard. 

My brain seems to be on the negativity channel and I can't change the frequency like I often can. A silly comedy I'd normally lose myself in at least partially, just annoys me. I can't find relief in music. No genre seems right, songs either grate at my nerves or make me too sad. Food is a requirement, not a pleasure. Being alone doesn't feel soothing and being with others feels like I'm putting on an act.

I'm angry, bitter, sad and confused. I don't want to take a hike, or go on a little road trip, or cook, or paint or take pictures or learn to play my guitar. I don't feel like volunteering or traveling, or working on my resume or my Oregon teacher's license. I don't want to walk dogs, or work on my dog training certification. I want out of my skin. I want escape. I want to feel better. But I feel awful. Awful inside, awful outside. I feel jealous of others who don't have a dead spouse. I feel jealous of people who have kids. I feel jealous of people who have had loving parents. I am searching, searching, searching for a glimpse of the feeling of true belonging.

I keep realizing for a moment or two that that feeling died with Dave and that it might be years before I feel that way again, if I ever do. Then, I forget that fact and feel so convinced I can find the feeling again. Where is it? I think. Oh right, it's gone.

I got myself out to the nail salon today. Forced myself. As the woman was  painting my nails, I overheard another woman say "I tried to mow the lawn today...".

My eyes filled with tears as I thought,  I used to have a lawn. I used to have a life. I used to have a future. It's all gone. Sitting there with my hand cradled in a stranger's hand, I wanted to tear it away from her, run out of the place and race home to cry. I waited it out, and finished the manicure, paid and trudged home. 

I tried to eat lunch, but the only thing I could fathom putting in my mouth was ice cream. I shoved spoonfuls in while crying loudly like I've heard kids do when they don't get their way. A temper tantrum cry. A helpless, wailing, outpouring of frustration.

I tried to watch a funny movie and it made me mad and sob more. My big, warm, purring cat curled up on my chest and I felt empty. Even his sweet warmth wouldn't soak in.

What do you do when the things you normally rely on for comfort no longer work their magic?
Where do you go? Can I run from this? Can I fake it till I make it? The inertia of my misery feels irresistible.  It feels like there isn't enough love in the world to ever fill the holes in my heart. It feels like there isn't a thing I could do that wouldn't make me more miserable.

It will pass and the light will come again, I tell myself.
Hold on and wait it out. It won't last forever I say.
But I don't believe it right now. Right now it feels like I'll always feel this empty.

Sitting here, on the other side of it, I'm relieved it's over for now. I hope I'll have from now until after Camp Widow to ride this wave of feeling better.  If not, I'll be Miss Dramatic SADNESS trudging around the Marriott in San Diego with a little storm cloud over my head and a pint of mint chocolate chip in my hand.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Questions

Source - I took a picture of this heart (graffiti) last year. While searching the internet for a perfect "why"
 picture, I decided to take my photography and turn it into my own why picture. See more of my photography here.

For the last two years my life has revolved around questions.

What if? Why? Could I have done something? Did I do something to cause my husband’s suicide? Would of, could of, should of, why me? Why my husband? What did we do to deserve this? Why was love not enough to save him? Why was life not enough?

I have beaten myself daily with questions. For two very long years.

This week while reading I wasn't ready to say goodbye (by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair) I realized I don’t live in the world of questions anymore.

Somewhere in the last 6 months the questions stopped.

I still question why? But I have come to the realization that unless I walk in my husband’s shoes, the world of mental illness, I will never understand.

I will never understand what it’s like to see dead people or hear voices. I will never understand what it’s like to have the voices in my head constantly tell me “You’re not enough. Just kill yourself.”

I will never understand how the love of my friends and family is not enough.

I (hopefully) will never understand the pain my husband was in. Pain so bad that suicide is the only way to make it stop.

I will never understand how he could leave me. I will never understand the thought process of suicide. Even at my darkest moments when I was suicidal, all I could think about was my family and what my suicide would do to them. So I will (hopefully) never understand the deep dark hole he was in.. where the hole is so deep and dark that thoughts of your family can’t even leak in to save your life.

I will never understand the stigma that comes with suicide. See, because my husband had bipolar disorder which is not a physical disease, people don’t get it. With mental illness people think “Suck it up, get over it. It’s all in your head.” People don’t understand that bipolar is more of a disease then a disorder...  In my husband’s case it was a disease that killed him, not a disorder.

I will never understand the comments DGI’s (Don’t get it’s) make. “Just kill me now.” Perfect example - this week a sales rep said to me “I have so many customers screaming for product that I just want to kill myself.” There is a certain hand gesture people do that is very insulting and triggering. People don’t understand how devastating suicide is, and to joke about it is just.. There are no words for it. All I can say is it’s not a joke and it’s not something to laugh about.

There is a lot of things I will never understand. I just accepted that I will never have the answers. 

So I stopped asking the questions.

Not questioning all of this has brought me peace… and quite. My brain is a lot quieter. I don’t get the racing thoughts as often (Sure, they still pop up, as soon as my head hits the pillow) but it's not a everyday, all day, process. 

Somewhere along the line, the questions stopped so gradually, that I didn't even notice it. I had to see it in black and white on paper to realize the questions have stopped.

I find peace in knowing my husband was suffering so badly that his suicide was not impulsive. It was years of suffering that lead up to his suicide.

Sure.. I will always wonder why. But I know at end of the day, I will not get any answers. 

I also know when it’s my time to go, it will all make sense.

That brings me peace.


Saturday, June 22, 2013



The sun would seep through the doors.

My eyes would blink with hesitation.


They'd open and it would hit my heart like a sledgehammer.

The stark fact that I was still breathing.

The thought of knowing that I had a possible 60 more seconds, let alone 5 minutes, let alone another day, was my hell.

It was the beginning days and months of Michael's death.

Then the minutes became bearable. And then the days. And then I would play with the thought of making plans a week ahead.

This was the beginning.

The end.

And now, in retrospect, the days I have pride in knowing I held on.

1 second.




Friday, June 21, 2013

Tony Soprano Died, and You Did Too

Carmela: You could have killed those girls.
A.J.: Now that would have been interesting.
Carmela: What? What did you just say?
A.J.: Death just shows the ultimate absurdity of life.
Tony: What is this? Are you trying to get me to lose my temper? Cause I'm about to put you through that Goddamn window.
A.J.: See? That's what I mean. Life is absurd.
Carmela: Don't say that! God forgive you.
A.J.: There is no God.

Tony and Carmela: HEY!!! 

The above dialogue is one of many classic scenes from the brilliantly-written HBO series The Sopranos. James Gandolfini, who played the main character, Tony Soprano, died Wednesday.  Before July 13, 2011, the day that my husband died, I would have reacted to the news of this celebrity death like most "normal", non-widowed people do; posting quotes and pictures and video of their work, maybe putting up a generic "RIP" type-statement all over my Social Media pages, maybe even making a lighthearted joke or two (since I am a comedian and that is what I do), and then moving on with my happy, normal life. Clueless. Unaffected. Innocent. 

Not anymore. I know better. My reaction to a celebrity death, especially someone I greatly respected and admired like Gandolfini, is completely different now. When I found out by scrolling through my Facebook feed, that the actor had died, my body went into panic mode. Anxiety started to set in as I began to read the details of his death.

 "Age 51. Sudden and massive heart-attack. Went to use the restroom and collapsed. Rushed to hospital by ambulance, paramedics tried reviving him for 45 minutes, and he died in the ER a short time later. " Every single one of these things are the same things that happened to my husband, Don. He also collapsed after using the restroom at work and not feeling right. He was also given CPR and treated to no avail in the ambulance, and died a short time later in the ER. He also had a massive and sudden heart-attack. No symptoms. No reason. Just here, then gone. 

Gandolfini was on a "guy's vacation" trip in Italy with his young son, when he fell ill and later passed away. His wife was not on this trip, which means she was at home at the time of his death, probably doing something completely innocent like grocery shopping or paying bills, or maybe she was doing what I was doing when my husband was collapsing on that cold, hard floor - sleeping. Whatever she was doing while her husband was dying, she will torture herself and feel guilt about it probably for the rest of her life, just like I do. She will never be okay with the fact that she wasn't there. 

James Gandolfini was a huge voice and advocate for animal rescue, especially speaking out about the unfair labels put on Pitbulls. He was also a huge giver to charities, and spent a lot of time touring Iraq and Afghanistan, visiting soldiers and asking for their autographs, telling them "you are the real heroes.". My husband was a paramedic who helped animals in his spare time, by volenteering at an animal rescue shelter and helping with pet adoptions. He loved animals more than anyone I have ever known, and they loved him. He was also an Air Force veteran, who served during wartime in Desert Storm. Gandolfini was a New Jersey native, living in Bergen County. My husband and I also lived in Bergen County, New Jersey, during our entire short 7-years of engagement and marriage together. Gandolfini was on The Sopranos, and my husband and I watched and loved The Sopranos every single Sunday night together. In my mind, it was the best and most powerful TV drama of all-time. 

So, you could say that the death of Gandolfini brought up a lot of "stuff" for me. There was a lot of crying. It was the kind of crying that you dont think about. One second, you are sitting there, and the next second, you are crying. I cried for his wife, who will now be forced into this strange and horrid universe called Widow. I cried for his young son, who lost his daddy while on a TRIP with his daddy, just after Father's Day. I cried for what is to come for their family, their friends, their life. And then I cried for me, because his death suddenly became Don's death all over again, and there I was, once again engulfed in the fear and the grief and the pain and the overwhelming thoughts of WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING??? HOW IS THIS MY LIFE??? 

Then, all the thoughts that make no sense at all started rushing in. Like: "Holy Shit! Tony Soprano is dead! I have to tell Don!" It was the same way when other famous or notable, talented, well-known people died after my husband died. I kept wanting to tell him, because he was my husband, and my first instinct is to tell him things. When comedian Patrice ONeal died, I wanted to tell him, because he loved Patrice. When Whitney Houston died, I wanted to tell him, because he thought her voice was like an Angel. But each and every time, I would start the process of speaking the words or calling his number or sending a text, and then I would remember. As if I could ever really forget. I can't tell him that so - and - so is dead, because he is dead too. I can't ever tell him that anyone is dead, ever again. What a bizarre thought. It's just like A.J. Soprano said in the above dialogue with his parents: "Death just shows the ultimate absurdity of life." 

Yes, A.J. It sure does. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sharing Our Stories

Everyone wins when we share!

Our stories have power. We know you believe this -- by visiting Widow's voice (and hundreds of other blogs) you are finding solace, strength, or just plain company in the words of another widowed person. You might even have your own blog, or share on another site. Maybe you only share in private Facebook groups, or among friends. However you share -- you know your words matter.

I'm happy to be hosting another opportunity for widowed people to share their stories. At Camp Widow, on June 28 in San Diego, we're having a Widowed Blog Slam. You may have heard of Poetry Slams -- competitive public readings of gritty, honest poetry. They are usually held in bars and sometimes, winners are chosen by rounds of raucous applause. These are powerful events about words, but the Blog Slam at Camp Widow will NOT be like a typical slam. We listen respectfully, we support all readers, and (most important for keeping the peace) we drink AFTERWARDS. And everyone wins when we share.

At the blog slam, we'll read and hear personal stories -- strange or funny experiences -- poems of remembrance -- tales of "how we met." You might bring a poem or journal entry, a letter you wrote or received, a limerick or a song lyric or a haiku.

If you are planning to be at Camp -- we will need you at the Blog Slam! There are many ways to participate:
  • If you write (you don't have to be a blogger!) -- bring something you love. Is it funny? Inspiring? Preachy? Honest? We can handle the hard stuff -- grief, loss, anger -- whatever you've got, we want to hear it. 
  • If you are willing to stand up and read, but don't write -- bring something that's mattered to you or that you remember when you need something. I'll bet someone shares your feelings! 
  • If you can listen -- you're the people we need the MOST. Listeners are powerful. Yours will be the faces our readers are looking at. Your eyes will connect. You might even turn into a cheerleader and give a speaker strength by listening. 
So come one, come all -- extrovert, introvert, writer, reader, audience member -- come and surround us with your stories.

Most of us are not comfortable with public speaking... but a room of widowed people is an audience like no other. Let the energy of the room fill you up. Know that your audience has "been there" and is open to hearing you, whatever you have to say.

Because everyone wins when we share!

Robin More Lasky AKA Supa Fresh Widow 

The Widowed Blog Slam will be held at 3:30 on Friday, June 28 in San Diego, as part of Camp Widow. You can register for Camp here. Leave your questions in the comments, below. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It Seems The Time Has Come ......


...... to do something that I never dreamed I'd be doing ...... back in my "before" days.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that, unbeknownst to me, the real estate market in our community is booming.
It's beyond booming.
For sellers.

And so I decided to put our "dream home" on the market.
The home where we/I raised all of our children to adulthood.
The home where we thought we'd be for the rest of our lives, most likely.
The home where we imagined grandchildren would one day play, sleep and hang out in the same rooms their parents did.
The home I never pictured living in ...... all by myself.

And while I have loved this home and cherished most of the memories made inside of it, it has slowly become less of a home, and more of a house.
In the last year I have found myself sometimes resenting this house, the work, the money,  and the upkeep it requires.
And resenting everything that it no longer is.

I thought I would probably put it on the market next spring.
As in ...... a year from now.
Making it a year away meant that, although I sometimes resent it, I didn't have to really think about selling it, and actually leaving it ...... for another year.

But here I am ...... knowing that there's a good chance I may be out of this house before the end of the summer.
And trying to still not really think about actually leaving it.
Because if I spend more than a moment seriously thinking about that ...... I feel the sting of the tears that are forming.

But I know that it's time for me to move forward.

Moving forward with my life isn't as "black and white" as I'd like it to be.
While moving forward can be freeing, and sometimes even a bit exciting, it can also be painful.
Because sometimes ...... moving forward ...... means leaving part of me behind.
And another part of us.
And while I know that I'm ready to live in a smaller house, and to feel less burdened ......

I know that I will never be ready for that.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lost fatherhood

Stupid music.

Just when you've been good for a while - no crying, no slipping back to the memories of That Day just when your head hits the pillow, moving forward ... or at least sideways - then you hear one single song whilst driving to work and you arrive a snotty, tear-stained mess.

Just from some words sung to a lilting tune.

.... not a song about the grief of losing a spouse or friend.
.... but about a miscarriage.

I, like many women have had a miscarriage (or two).  I lost a baby at 10 weeks, which hit me hard.  But the pain (for me) has diminished over time.
But that's not why I cried.

I cried because of the way Sherran sung about wanting to hold this unborn child.

I cried because it reminded me of the way Greg felt about our babies.

He was undone by them.
This pure Australian male had a soft heart but nothing brought him to tears ... except babies.
He cried over babies lost before they were born.
He cried over babies lost just after birth (like his nephew).
He cried over babies being born and thriving (just because this is an enormous miracle when you think about it).
He was a born father (after all, his main aim in life at the age of 5 was to be "a daddy with whiskers").

It hit me just how much Greg is missing out on.
.... how proud he would be. he would have cried along with the children as they grieved, and stroked their head until they calmed down.

I cried for his lost fatherhood.
...and that I have missed out on witnessing more of it.

For those that are interested, the song in question is truly beautiful, but Small Bump is not for the fainthearted (LINK WARNING - trigger imagery of hospital and of course the lyrics are about miscarriage).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fixing the Dishwasher


I recently found some satisfaction fixing a household problem without Dave.

My tendency (even before he died), if something went wrong with an appliance was to throw up my hands and call for a repair person to come and figure it out. Now, I've become more stubborn about trying to figure it out myself first. I'm countering the assumption I've always had that the workings of those appliances and the plumbing and any mechanical item at all was beyond me and best left to a professional.

Sometimes, it has been beyond me and I've had to call a professional, but other times, I've been able to figure it out myself. The satisfaction and the independence of that has been surprisingly gratifying. I notice I'm not falling into the pit of despair about Dave not being around to help me and instead am seeing each malfunction as a way to prove that I'm self sufficient and more than capable. It was, of course, more fun and less overwhelming to tackle these household annoyances together, but we're not together. I'm on my own and I want to learn to handle anything that might come my way.

My newest triumph was the dishwasher. It wasn't filling with water. Instead, it was making this desperate, dry, spluttering noise when it was supposed to be spraying water. It took maybe 15 minutes searching the Internet to determine what could be the problem. The overflow valve was stuck in overflow position and all I had to do was tap on the top of it a few times. The thing filled right away after I did that. I didn't have to call anyone, take anything apart or pay anyone. Also, it avoided the embarrassment of someone coming to my house, tapping on that dumb thing twice and then accepting a check from me before leaving. I really hate that kind of "repair". It makes me feel helpless and uninformed, which makes me mad.

So, Dave and I don't get to tackle household problems together anymore and that is incredibly sad, and I am resourceful and smart, powerful and independent and can handle more than I previously believed.

I believe Dave's dying worry was that he was leaving me alone. He wanted his parents to make sure I was okay. I like the idea of proving to him that I'm more than okay on my own.

I want him to know that even if one day in the future I'm married again, I will be fully capable, on my own, no matter what happens. That I'll be able to share responsibilities and take on anything I need to on my own too.

Truth is, even if we're married or partnered and expect to live out the rest of our lives with our person, we aren't always afforded that outcome. Being self sufficient is more important to me now. I don't want to depend on someone else to help me figure out solutions. Tackling life with a partner is the best, but that can't always be our reality.

Helplessness and hopelessness has, for the time being, shifted a little to let in some power and independence. I like the idea of starting out year three with this little burst of strength and I think I'm going to try to take advantage of it and tackle some other projects I've been meaning to get to.  Or at least attempt to. Sometimes, even that's a victory.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day


For the first time since my husband’s death, I’m struggling with father’s day.

Today it smacked me square in the face “Your husband will never be a father because he’s DEAD.”

My brain is full of trickery and really pisses me off.

I haven’t struggled with father’s day in the past because Seth wasn't a father and we never had children. It’s the one holiday I don’t struggle with. Until today.

Today my mind went back to his first suicide attempt (I wrote about it here)

We had been trying to get pregnant for a couple of months. Not trying - trying, but not using any kind of contraceptive and we just decided if it happens it happens. If it doesn't then it doesn't.

All signs pointed to that I was pregnant. Possibly a couple months along. But all the pregnancy tests kept saying no.

Then my world fell apart. My husband tried to kill himself, he was sitting in a psychiatric ward.

I’ll never forget getting the call that my husband was in intensive care due to a failed suicide attempt. I hung up the phone, and all I could think of is “Holy shit, what if I am pregnant??”

Being pregnant, with my husband sitting in a physic ward, wasn't the dream I had envisioned.

Three days into my husband’s hospital stay, I started my cycle. After three months of not having one. After three months of thinking the tests were wrong, because my cycle had always been like clockwork. I have never gone three months without it making its lovely presence. 

I assume I had a miscarriage. A miscarriage due to stress, or that the baby was never alive.. or that for some unknown reason, my body just stopped for three months leading me to think I was pregnant.

While Seth was still in the hospital, I went and had a 10 year contraceptive put in my body. I didn't talk to him about it. I didn't ask his thoughts. I just did it.

I wasn't willing to bring a child into what I was going through. I knew if I did have a baby, I would be a single parent.. but I thought it would be due to me divorcing Seth because of his suicide attempts, not that I would actually be a single widowed parent. I think my brain knew far more than I did of what was coming up for us.

Seth was mad at me until the day he died for having the contraceptive put in. I think he honestly thought having a child would fix everything and I didn't know what road he was heading down when I agreed that we could start trying to a baby.

As I look at father’s day today, I realized that I could have a 5 year child at this point.. and would be explaining to my child why his daddy isn't here. In a way, it was a blessing that I wasn't pregnant. I don’t know how I would take care of a child when most days I can’t take care of myself. I don’t know how I would ever explain to my child that daddy killed himself. 

But in another way, it reminds me that Seth might have been a father. And I might have been a mother.

Bipolar took my husband away. It also took away a lot of things that Seth could have experienced.. such as being a father.

So today I am thinking of all you widowed parents. Who play both mom and dad. Please give yourself a huge pat on the back, it’s a huge task, and you deserve a huge hug.

Today I will wallow in what could have been. I am saddened that Seth never got to experience being a father. I am saddened by the things that will never happen. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013



That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take. But if you take them, you will never regret your choice. To be sure, there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in an icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come, so too they will fall away. In the end, you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much clearer, so much happier, and so much better a person that all the risk and hardship will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge and wisdom you have gained.

-Kent Nerburn

I have returned from my "Once in a lifetime - Once a Year" trip.

With it being the 5 year anniversary of this tradition, I followed suit with the one I took 5 years ago (my pilgrimage across Spain on the Camino de Santiago), and ventured solo to India for a spiritual journey.

Last year I made the decision to go (which included breaking it upon my family by seeing if they noticed the Taj Mahal ornament on my tree), as everything had seemed to be pointing me to there.

On top of the signs, my deepening relationship with meditation, followed by my studies in Buddhism, I was ready to immerse myself in a world that could no less than enrich my heart and soul...

And that it did.

A shift took place.

Amidst the time at the local orphanage, the people, the letting go of control amongst the crazy streets of Bangalore, the hours of meditation chakra clearings and traditional yoga instructors, the amazing interactions and conversations from people all over the world that I have come to admire...a change took place.

The last night during dinner, I told my new-found soul friends that if a plane's wings were to shift the tiniest bit it would change its whole course.

During my time in India, so many shifts took place within me. And ultimately, with the shifts, and the new course and direction that follows, will be a new destination....and undoubtedly, a better one than before I had arrived.

What I experienced was one of the most moving, inspiring and energetic places I've ever had the honor of placing my bare feet on the ground of.

And with that experience, the reaffirmation of the beauty in the unknown. The embracing of a thing called fear. The deep love for the uncomfortable. A change. A shift. A new direction. A more beautiful destination.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Secret

I’ve finally figured something out.  I’ve struggled so much with how to move forward.  I’ve gotten stuck over and over again and then I flogged myself mercilessly.  I somehow am stuck with a stubborn commitment to the belief that the life I used to have will spring up and restart because, well, because of how much I love what it was –my wife, our life, our friends, our puppies, our future – all of it!  I struggle still with the acceptance that that life is now gone.  Crap.  I suck at acceptance.

However, every once in a while, I burst forward toward my new life with big ol’ confidant strides.  I can usually feel those bursts coming and I’ve written about them here on Widow’s Voice, but until now I’ve never quite understood where that energy comes from.  But now I finally understand.

The secret is travel.  Getting outside of my house.  Living outside of my comfort zone, my familiar paths, my pig trails.  Changing my reality, even temporarily.  That’s the secret.  Seeing the world, in all its glory, with people from different cultures eating different foods speaking different languages and trying to figure out how to use different types of toilets while I wrestle with the brain-melting hugeness of how big this planet really is.  This is it.  This is the secret.

Upon returning from each of my travel adventures, my path to move forward is crystal clear.  I know exactly what to do, how to do it and I’m excited to get started.  Then, that enthusiasm hits the goo that is sentimentality.  My hard push hits passive resistance from my heart.  Small but important bursts of forward movement happen but my progress quickly slows like an arrow shot into a tub of molasses.  The molasses of sweet memories win the battle and I’m stuck again, walking the same familiar paths and tracing the same pig trails.  Familiarity is comfortable.  Sweet comfort of days gone by keeps me stuck, reflecting backward, not moving forward.  But it’s different now.  Now I’ve figured out the secret.

I need to book a flight.  To anywhere.  Right now.  Who’s coming with me?  Where shall we go?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Just a FEW of my daily doses of chaos. <3

So, I totally dropped the ball last week.

I literally went through the whole day in chaos and finally when the kids were down and I had a second I realized that I was supposed to post here. Oops.

Life has been nothing short of crazy lately. We've done so much traveling, the kids had class parties, graduations, and we are now in the middle of a flourishing business of hand made pallet projects which we did not expect, but are loving and working on getting our online store up and running, we're preparing for multiple family company staying with us over the next couple of weeks, Steve is awaiting news about a potential job that he's excited about, it just so happened to be my son's birthday last week...the list goes on and on. On top of that, we should know tomorrow if we are having a boy or a girl! Eeek!

You'd think keeping busy in chaos would distract me from matters of the heart, and to some degree it does, but nothing can keep me from remembering what's important in life. Even on the days where I slip back into my old habits, at the end of the day I readjust because life has taught me not to waste time dwelling on things that aren't important. Stress, frustration, other people's stupidity, busy schedules....these things are inevitable. But thankfulness and perspective is a choice.

I saw a quote the other day that read "If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders." This struck me as I realized no amount of business kept my mind from wondering...and this is where I know my heart is:

My heart is with my children.
It is with my marriage.
It is with my friends.
It is with the life growing inside me.
It is sometimes with my insecurities about myself.
It is often on a beach somewhere listening to ocean....

And my heart is definitely still, and always will be with Jeremy. No matter where life takes me, it never takes me far from him. The world can't take away what we shared together.

You'll Have To Forgive Me ......

...... well, I suppose you don't really have to, but it would be nice if you would.

It is now 2:30 a.m. (Central Time, which is my time).
A realtor friend is coming over tomorrow to look over my house.  And you know what that means.
But if you don't, that means that I needed to clean up a bit.
And by a bit, I mean my third son's room (he left town this morning, which means that it was the safest time to go in there and do that, if you get my drift).
Ummmmm, yeah.

I went upstairs at 10:30.
I just now came down.
For the first time.
Since 10:30.
You do the math.

It's a good thing he's out of town or he might have been hurt.
Or maybe just yelled at.
A lot.

Anyway, since it's so very late early, I'm totally copping out and re-posting.
I know, I know ...... that's so un-classy for a blog writer.
But there you go.
Pretty much un-classy.

This is a post that I wrote on my personal blog when I was 5 months out.  It occurred on Son #1's birthday, which also happened to be the day before what should have been my 25th anniversary.

I know that many of you will be able to relate.

So here it is ...... classless and all.

A Little Bit Legal ...... And a Whole Lotta Crazy

Here is the proud daddy with Son #1, eighteen years ago. Just a few hours before I got peed in the face.  Ahhhh, boys.

Well, a few momentous occasions down, a couple more to go. Tomorrow is our 25th anniversary. Words cannot express what I am feeling.

Today, Daughters #2 & #3, my mom and I celebrated Jim by doing something totally nuts. Yes, we did indeed get tattoos (Daughter #1 got hers a few weeks ago). 
Jim is up in heaven having a conniption fit. But heck, I figure it's his fault. If he were still here there's no way I'd have done this. 
But he's not, and I did.

Here's the beginning. Not so bad .... at first. And then, I tried really, really hard to not cry. I didn't, but I had to do a lot of Lamaze breathing to get through it. And squeeze all of the blood out of Daughter #1's hand.

This is the finished product. It's Jim's signature (too cool how they can replicate that) on top of a heart. Underneath the heart is the verse from our wedding, Song of Songs 8:7. 

This is Daughter #2 getting hers done. I didn't get a very good picture, but it says "Wherever they'll grow" with a picture of a forget-me-not. For those of you who were at Jim's memorial, it's what she spoke about (she wants to be like her dad -- she hopes that when she's gone it may be said of her that she plucked out thistles and planted flowers wherever they would grow).

And here's Daughter #3. She decided to break hers up and put one on each wrist. On one she has the Hebrew letters spelling Yaweh. On the other is a verse that has meant a lot to her since December: 1 Corinthians 15:19.

So there you have it --- the path to insanity caught on film. But we like them. They mean a lot to us, more than I've even written here. It's like still having Jim as a part of me, literally.
It was the most permanent thing I could think of doing that would still make him a part of me.
Difficult to explain ...... unless you're in this club no one wants to join.

Oh, and my mom got one, too! See ...... we're all crazy!! She got a daisy on her shoulder. It's cute. Three generations of tattooed women.
I wonder what's next?!

So there you go ...... a re-post.
My humblest apologies.

As for wondering what was next ...... wow.  It's been a very full (and not usually in a good way, at least in the first 2 or so) 5 years.
And I still wonder.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chocolate and red wine.


That's what got me through the first year.

Well  ... that's not actually true. 

It was chocolate mainly*.  I am addicted.  Its not a good thing.

...and I actually hate red wine, so it was more of a Baileys or Bundaberg Rum thing I had going on.  And not that much really as I am not a big drinker.
But the title "Chocolate and red wine" sounded better in my head than "Lots of chocolate and a good stare into the liquor cabinet before deciding on a hot chocolate anyway".

That being said, there were times when I said to myself "if you drank all of that, it would make the pain go away for a while".  Luckily I am also very smart, so another bit of my brain immediately reminded the "lets get drunk" part of my brain that vomiting and a headache would really not help all that much in the morning.

The current issue is that I need to wean myself off chocolate. 
It has become a crutch that I need to lose along with a few kilos.

It wasn't always this way though ..... I couldn't eat ANYTHING for a week after Greg died.  I lived on diet shakes that I had in the pantry as I just could not swallow any solid food.  But when I did start eating, it involved a lot of comfort food. including chocolate.

So while you are playing along at home (probably nodding along - tell me I am not alone here PLEASE), tell me what you do to break a bad habit, 'cause I need some ideas..... or at least a low fat version of "chocolate".

* - OK so it was really my kids and my parents and friends that got me through the first year, but chocolate helped too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

We Keep Going


My depression guides me to reach out for help. My loneliness guides me to connect. My fears guide me to act anyway because it must be important if I'm scared of it. Thinking of these uncomfortable emotions as guides helps me somehow.

Lately, when the depression has taken over, I've let it guide me to do whatever feels right*. I'm finding it easier to push against thoughts like "Distract yourself, numb yourself, don't lie around all day, you'll just wallow! Don't be lazy. Don't give in to the feelings." and instead do exactly what my body feels like doing. If it feels like rotting my brain with a Parks and Rec marathon, I do it. If it feels like cocooning in bed in the middle of the day, I do it. Get dinner delivered rather than cook? Yup. Leave the laundry and clutter and dishes until some unknown day when my energy returns? Sure. 

As I succumb to the things my body says it wants, I realize more and more that if I just do what I need, I pass through the stage faster than if I push against it, trying to ignore the messages I'm getting.

Sure, if I stayed extremely busy I might skim over some of these feelings throughout the day, but they always return. I have to tackle them anyway. Taking them on, all at once, instead of one little sip at at time can feel overwhelming and scary, but it's never permanent. I always shift back to the world of the living. I always emerge.

Interestingly, when I do emerge, I feel like I've really conquered something. Not just the fleeting pangs of grief that poke through a busy day, but full-on Tsunami waves of loss and heartbreak, desperate fear and hopelessness. I realize that I did that. I got through that. The emotions didn't kill me, though they felt like they certainly would. They were actually thoughts about feelings and they were mostly about the past or future, not the immediate moment.

My immediate situation is hard, very hard. It's missing someone I spent almost half my life with. But it's also evidence of how much I've survived, how hard I've worked to rebuild this life and what a fucking warrior I am. If my thoughts remain on my current situation, I see that I'm not in immediate danger (though the anxiety makes me feel like I am), that I'm surviving, that I'm loving harder, accepting myself more, listening more, feeling instead of numbing, and getting up every day to at least attempt to face the heartbreak I still feel at every moment.

*I realize how unique a situation mine is. I don't have to go back to full time work yet, and I'm not raising kids alone, so I have the "luxury" (ha!) of grieving fully when normally I'd be filling my days with work and kid-raising. I know this is rare and I'm fully aware of how many of you have to work full time AND some. This is just my personal experience within this life of mine.

On the other hand, I've noticed lately that being alone is harder than ever, I'm more and more envious of families with children and often tears spring to my eyes before I know what's happening when I witness little nuclear families. I have less career-related motivation than ever and have a harder time figuring out what it is I even want to do with my life.

So, that's my reality as I begin year 3 of this crazy new life. It is a life so completely different than my former life that I often shake my head in disbelief as I look around me. Other than the love of my Dave, I've kept so little of that old life. In many ways, that has helped me move forward. A fresh start and new viewpoints were what I needed. On the other hand, the old life sometimes feels like an illusion. Did I imagine that? Or am I imagining this new life?

I just keep plodding on. My mantra is "Just show up" and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't. My other mantra is "He wouldn't want you to give up" and I can say with conviction that I haven't. Each day I get to wake up and try again, I do. All of us going through this can say that. That is our superpower. We keep going.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Source - I love the quote they put on this blog -
"I now view Anxiety as an unwelcome visitor with no purpose other than to side swipe my self esteem."

This week, I had the shocking realization that I am still very.. very.. very.. fragile.

That something like dumping $1,500 into car repairs quickly sends me over the edge.

The edge of anxiety.

Anxiety and I do not have a good relationship, but anxiety is always in my life.

Anxiety makes me unable to eat. It makes me nauseous with no appetite. The no appetite gets to where it will dawn on me that it’s been 3 days, and I haven’t eaten.. anything. The nausea makes it difficult to even brush my teeth. I can’t count how many times I have fought with my tooth brush, trying to brush my teeth through dry heaves, only to throw up what little stomach contents I the sink. Then I have to start the whole brushing teeth fight all over again.

Anxiety makes me unable to sleep, think, or concentrate.

This week started out like every other week. Running on sheer exhaustion, just trying to get through the day, hoping to make it to the weekend.

Then started the car problems. In stepped the anxiety of how the hell I am going to pay for this? Followed by disappear and feeling completely alone and lost.

To a “normal” person car repairs is just a fact of life. To the widow in me, it is a catastrophic event.

I spent this week trying to force feed myself, trying to get my anxiety under control, trying to sleep at night, trying to not let my anxiety drown me in its smothering ways. Nothing I did worked. Everything just kept piling up in my head.

Then I had the realization of how fragile I still am. 34 months after my husband’s death, I am fragile.

The car repairs left me in a crying heap on my kitchen table. I was looking around my house thinking “this wouldn't be as hard if Seth was still alive.”

In stepped the “holy shit, I am so alone in all this it’s insane.”

I reached out to a friend, trying to find comfort, and was told “It’s not the end of the world.”

Sure, it’s not the end of the world. Not being able to pay my mortgage or having my anxiety take away my appetite is not the end of the world, but in that moment, it was the end of MY world.

Then I went off the deep end. I completely shut down.

I focused on:
-         - Get up
-          -Go to work
-          -Get your work done
-          -Try to eat without throwing up
-          -Drive home
-          -Shut the world out for the night
-          -Go to bed
-          -Rinse and repeat

When I go into complete shutdown mode, life becomes a series of moment by moment. Minute by minute. Just trying to survive without going complete ape shit on someone. You could ask me what I’m doing after work, and I would just look at you with a blank stare.. because.. well.. that’s 4 hours from now, and I can only think about this very minute. I can’t think about 240 minutes from now.

Anxiety is not my friend. Yet it’s a constant reminder of what I have been through and what I am still going through. I am dropping weight at an alarming rate, all thanks to my not friend – anxiety. Sure, losing some weight isn't a bad thing, but I am quickly approaching too thin, and I can’t stop it. Anxiety won’t let up and give me my appetite back. I haven't set foot on a scale to see just how much weight I have lost due to this anxiety episode, but it's a lot.. my "skinny" clothes are falling off at this point.

I have resorted to what my counselor has always told me “With anxiety, eat whatever your body wants. Even if all you want is one candy bar a day, eat that. At least you will be eating something.”

Last night, I turned to my comfort food. The one thing I can always eat no matter how bad my anxiety is. Smothered burritos. For the first time in almost a week, I had a full belly.

I realized I have become cocky. Thinking I am no longer fragile. That “life happens” won’t send me over the edge. I was wrong. I was cocky. I have this messed up vision of what I can handle.

Maybe I need a new tattoo, on my wrist, where I see it with every hand movement I make, that says “Don’t be cocky.”

It would be a constant reminder that I will never be the same person I was before.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Graduations and Other Milestones

Taryn is in India on the trip of a lifetime...she will be back in two weeks! So, I am making this Throw Back Saturday, let's all just pretend it is Throwback Thursday!

When someone you love dies the on-going milestones of life often develop a bittersweet quality. What should be a joyous celebration may be overshadowed by the fact that someone is missing from the celebratory party. Family dinners, trips to Grandma’s, beach camping, awards for perfect attendance, and opening day on the Little League field all have the potential to morph from a Kodak moment into a teary reminder of what has been lost.

Last week, my beautiful daughter graduated from High School.  This moment held some extra emotion for us because my late husband was killed in an accident on the first day of her high school career.  As I proudly watched her mount the stage and accept her diploma, I thought about how far she’s come since tragedy walked into her life four years ago.

Listening to the advice being given to the fresh young faces perched carefully on  folding chairs, my mind drifted to the lessons that grief has taught my child. 

My graduate knows that life is short, and that now is the best time to live your dreams. She has discovered that the things you will remember about a person you love have nothing to do with how much money they made over their lifetime. The word priceless doesn't really apply to material things for my girl, but it does apply to memories of bike rides, rock climbing, watching a TV show as a family, and running after the ice cream man with a dollar in hand. Death has taught my graduate that grief is a part of the cycle of life, and that like it or not we have to find a way to keep going on the path laid out before us. I would bet that she won’t sit idle while the landscape of life passes by her by; and that she knows real value isn't measured in dollars and cents, but in compassion and integrity. She has no expectation that life will be easy, but is determined to make the ride worthwhile. She has faith in her family, counts many people as friends, and knows that her life was changed for the better by just one person.

Our families’ milestone moments will always hold a mix of bitter and sweet. But the bitter times have reminded us to savor the sweet ones. We can’t avoid the pain that death will eventually bring into our lives, but we can choose to allow both the bitter and the sweet to teach us their lessons.