Saturday, December 25, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I would like to share with you one of my families traditions.  When we were so exhausted and just hoping everyone would go to bed, we'd all gather round with a warm cup of hot chocolate.  The kids would then wait for me to recite "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to them.  We did this up til their late teens!  

My husband would sit with the kids while I did my recital filled with as much excitement as I could make it!  It's sad, but not really.  Old traditions make way for new ones.  I do miss my husband, but I know he will always enjoy this recital every year.  

So have a nice time this Christmas and I hope everyone is blessed in some way!

Twas the Night Before Christmas
By Clement Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the Season...Is it a sweet bitterness?

Tis  the season to be jolly, falla lah lah lah, tee dah dah dah!

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a young female in a position to help others.   I had called to find out if assistance existed for my particular situation.  One does not know until you ask.

I was explaining my situation what I needed, what do to get help, if help existed, when this woman said, "Oh, it's okay to be bitter, it's completely understandable."

SCREECH.  Seriously an abrupt halt in my thoughts.  My mouth dropped open, I bit my lip and thought back...exactly what in all this did I say that might lead a person to interpret it to bitterness.  If I needed help with bitterness, I think I'd probably go to a counselor.  After quickly thinking in my head back on what I said, I could not for the life of me connect "bitterness" to any statements made.  I am not bitter about it, concerned, yes, but bitter, no.

So I did what I have not done, ever, in my life.  I asked.  "Bitter?  What do you mean its okay that I'm bitter, Would you mind explaining to me what you mean?"  I decided to make her responsible for her statement.  If I sound bitter I need to know.  I don't want to do bitter.  Maybe my situation and trying to explain it sounded like complaining which is like bitterness?

She went into explanation:  "Well, you lost your husband and you are widowed, he didn't set you up and now you are in need of help.  He left you.  All widows are bitter people I see it all the time.  Its okay because I broke up with my boyfriend who cheated on me and it makes me bitter too, so I understand. Breaking up with someone is a loss also"

Wow.  Now I'm thinking:  What happy pill did she take today?  Maybe the break-up happened quite recently?  Taking a very deep breath and saying very many ohmmmm's in my mind before responding: "It is sad when a man cheats, it hurts.  What concerns me is your statement...all widows are bitter people.  Is this truly how you think of me.  Do I sound bitter?"

Silence.  Then, "I didn't mean to bother you with my problems.  But you need to admit that you are a widow and are bitter from the experience.  He should have "set" you up for life.  Unfortunately he did not, and now you have to ask for help which is something you don't do."

WOW.  Actually it's true, I'm accustomed to trying to do things myself before asking for any help.  I am incredibly uncomfortable with this.   But, no, now I am what is called mad.  Its called anger.  What an incredibly generalized statement.  How dare you say that about my husband.  Is this how those of us who lose a loved one are perceived?  We are automatically bitter?  Or this gal is having a real bad day and thought to make mine worse by insulting my husband?  How dare she belittle my husband he is not here to defend himself.  I have to do it.  The thoughts rushing through my head made me pivot.  My husband was a hard worker.  He did the best he could.  It's not his fault I can't seem to get my life together.  Which I thought I was.   It was not his nor God's fault he fell ill and passed on.  No one has control over this.  So why would this cause me to be bitter or hate anyone?  I may have gone through a bitter stage long ago feeling abandoned, yes, but we can snap ourselves out of that.

I let the conversation end.  I didn't even defend my husband to her.  Why bother?  She was convinced of his guilt.  I did however, have the question in my mind I sound bitter, do I act bitter.  Do I walk around and personify bitterness?  What if I do and am not aware of it?  Lord, no wonder some folks suffer from neurosis.

I turned to a few others who are widowed and asked them if they went through a bitterness that others saw and they didn't.  Amazingly, the response from each was, "No, actually I was never bitter, but many of my closest friends assumed I was going to be bitter.  It was insulting and hurt.  You're being accused of being bitter aren't you?  Are you alright?  Would you like to talk about it?"

This was intense for me.  I had to think.  I agree with stages.  I have seen my own stages.  I can also see where my anger almost turned to sweet bitterness taking hold. But, just where are some individuals getting the idea that being bitter is a necessary stage to progress through?  Therefore, all, widows/widowers are probably bitter.  I begin to question myself, and no, I don't need to start the self doubt.  Situations cause bitterness.  I can see where some situations I have gone through I picked up a bit of bitterness.  So I need to let go of that. 

I was stunned to learn that we are often thought of as bitter individuals automatically.  It's sad.  Most widows I have met are actually quite strong, resourceful, and incredibly graceful individuals.  We plod on through life in our own way.   Let go.  This idea of "bitterness" seems to crop up when we try to take control of a situation we need to deal with.  Suddenly, no matter what you say or how you proceed, you are thought of as a "bitter" widow.  LET go.  Funny thing: if you get perturbed and try to defend yourself, you are acting bitter.  So, not much can be done about this one.  It is situations like this, and generalized comments that will cause a bitterness.  LET GO.  I could feel my mind reeling and looking for answers.  I don't think there are any.  I think I just ran into someone having a bad day.  If I was bitter, most individuals would avoid me and not stop to say hello.  I should think anyway.  I'm letting this one go!  Yes, this is one to let go otherwise, bitterness will well up.  Done.  I am letting go!  Okay.  Let go.

I don't know about anyone else, but I do know, life goes on.    The eggnog on sale is as sweet as I remember!   It is sad I do not have my husband with me, but I will make it through the holidays once again! :)


Three more days.  Will I get it all done?!!  Hey!  Who cares!!  The world will not end!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Egocentrism or Survival?

What drives us as individuals?  Is it the need to support a family yet have enough to enjoy your life when our children grow up and move away?  Is it a natural survival?  Is it egocentrically focused to have more than another? 

The last two years, I've been observing more egocentrism than I ever have in my life.  I began to wonder how one moves to another?  Common decent working folks or those who survive doing the best they can, and then the egocentric maniacs.  What happens? 

Most of us are taught to seek those goals and grab them.  Seek out better.  Make higher wages.  We are driven to do better.  Some of us are taught, always do your best, so our goal is to always do our best no matter what our situation is.  A dear friend told me her father was doing the very best he could to support his family.  He had to take a job sweeping the street.  Rather than be humiliated, he went and swept those streets and was the best at it.  Take pride in what you do no matter what it is.

As widows/widowers, many of us struggle to just keep on going.  We are doing our best, and then through other people's perspectives, we're not doing enough.  We are failing because we are doing "life" wrong. Have you noticed most of them having this perspective are not widow's or widowers?  Keep this in mind when you are thought of as a screw up.  Look at the source, betcha they haven't been there done that yet like we are.  We are all so different, but when someone is trying, and that thing called "life" doesn't go the way it is supposed to, how can we be held responsible.  Learning takes awhile when you've lost everything in your life because you have to begin again.

We go through life just surviving doing the very best we can.  We were taught to do the best you can no matter what.   Some of us, at one time, raised families and when life was supposed to finally focus on each other, our significant other passes on.   Too soon it seems because your still very young, yet, for females, we aren't.  At this age I'm talking mere forties, we are "spent" in societies eyes.  It isn't as easy to start over.  Yet we know we have value and we have far more life.  Life was just going to begin in a new way. 

Depending on the situation, we may be set up financially or we may be absolutely extinguished.  We may be the type where no matter how hard we try, we are stuck in survival mode.  We're exhausted, spiritually drained and feel completely demoralized.  We are nothing but shadowy wisps walking in this life's realm trying to pay that next bill or where we will lay our heads to sleep.  We go around corners not looking because we really don't want to know.  I mean one knows its probably not going to be something that will bring us joy, but what if it is?  We are constantly told not to lose hope.  What if our happiness is just around that corner?  So, we go around that corner, again, and what is there, is there.

What exactly happens that turns all this into egocentric demands on ourselves?

When I lived with my grandparents I was always told, "Never mind what the Jone's have.  If you always want what the Jone's have and try to keep up with them, you will be forever tangled working on demands you will never be able to fulfill.  You'll be greedy and jealous.  Someone will always have something you don't."

I believe falling for "trying to keep up with the Jone's next door" is a good definition for egocentric behaviors.   Egocentrism at its finest not only hurts your personal spirituality, but also will hurt those you ruthlessly expire just to get what the Jone's have.  Including your loved ones.  The Jone's drive up in new cars, go on vacations, flaunt their properties, laugh, are happy, it just continues on.  Now, see, this is what happens when we try to keep up with the Jones.  That is what we "see."  We have just under-dogged ourselves.

I drive around and see the beautiful Christmas lights on the houses.  Oh so pretty.  Then pull up to my humble, quiet humble, broken, in disarray, disheveled yard, old fence and dark abode.  I sit in the car, not a nice one, but it gets me around and think, I want  lights too. 

Wow, there I go.  I just under-dogged myself when I really am trying to just survive.  In reality they don't do it to show off, they want the lights to be enjoyed!  I actually go and drive around and look at the lights.  Of course I want lights, who wouldn't want something pretty that everyone is enjoying?!!  Yes, of course it's showing off, but some are truly sincere and want to cheer folks up and remind them its Christmas.
  • If I bought a string of lights for outside the house...electricity bill?  Don't need more problems.
  • Am I going to be happy after I get that string of lights?  Knowing the repercussions of the lights?
  • When I pull up, in my working but needs help car, will I be happier because those lights I had to buy causes me financial stress at a time when all bill collectors are at their most aggressive?
  • Now I'm worried about the car too?
No, my grandparents were right and very wise.  A person fixated on having what someone else has will go to any extremes to get what they want.  It won't stop at one, the list will only grow.   If you think about it, we can unknowingly cause ourselves subjugation to egocentric behavior.  We'll not only hurt ourselves but others too cause we don't care if we hurt others including our loved ones.  We want what those other people have because we want to be happy too and that is supposed to cause our happiness.  We're sad.  We've lost everything and no matter how hard we try, its not going to be the same.  Our spirit and heart anguish for a moment, just a brief moment, of hope and happiness. 

Well here it is:
  • From material found, along with thread and needle, I am able to create some gifts and not just for Christmas.  Maybe I can sell some of the items.  
  • I do have lights, and lights that will not cost so much.  Candles!  They are called going to the local second hand store or dollar store and buying some very cheap votives.  Turn off all the have a warm glow of home.  You have light.
  • More items found and guess what, you may be able to create other items, that will eventually give back a little something.  If not in monetary importance, the importance of giving this to someone who is having a hard time like you.  You too can cheer a person up and give hope.
So yep, I'm poor, live in a very old trailer needing repairs, typing on a computer that is not mine, on the very edge up giving up and just leaving and living in the car.  But I think about it and for another few days I will realize how very blessed I am right now.  I can reduce thinking about how I am going to pay those collectors, I want them paid, but I can't bleed money.  Taking the time to do something crafty, artsy, or plain imaginative lumps of whatever, I can decrease my stress even for a little bit.  It'll give me hope and happiness no matter how small.  It might be a gift, it might be worth a few dollars and it will give me a purpose.  The stress will be somewhat relieved.  Best of all, I am not fixating on what I do not have!  The under-dogging has decreased and actually much improvement, no matter how small, will start shining through.

Please don't let the holidays get to you this year my friends.  Lets make a new start and challenge ourselves.  Society may see us as "spent" but we don't have to obligate to change our name to Jones.  Those of us who have had everything taken leaving us feeling demoralized and in shock have to start over.  This means learning.  We may be learning over, but lets try to learn right and be a support to each other.  Those of you who get A's please tutor those of us receiving lower!  Lets not fall prey to egocentrism yet celebrate survival.

12 more days to get this stuff done.  Count down has began.  We will survive!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Did I say I liked Christmas?!!

Well, so far in the past few days, I have accomplished a great deal.  I'm happy I am actually doing something.  Now I am so tired I wonder if I really said the words, "I like Christmas, it's always been my favorite."

What I haven't done:
  • No Christmas decorations.  No biggie.
  • Still have to buy more of those things called Christmas cards.
  • Slept much, but like I really do that well anyway.
What I have done since last blog:
  • Designed, cut out, and have prepared a pair of beaded smoked moose hide slippers.  Now to bead.
  • Picked out material for a dress shirt, it was cotton so washed, dried, and ironed ready to be cut.
  • Picked out material for a fleece jacket to make.  Thank-god it doesn't have to be ironed.
  • Found much of my materials, some I had forgotten I actually had.
  • Gathered all my husbands shirts and gave them to my son.  
Not bad, could be worse.  Oh and I found Mr. Snowman.  You plug him in and he sings Frosty the snow man and moves his head, waves his arms, and you flip a switch, and he just stays happy, well lit, and quiet.  Now this is a man I could share my home with this year!

I also had the honor of helping my daughter with her wedding website.  And dealt with the drama's that start at 7:00 am and last til I shut off my phone at 11:00 so I can get some work done!  Oh and I cleaned the bathroom and did two loads of laundry.  Going through and getting rid of even more!!  Putting them in bags and maybe someone having a yard sale will take them!

Now, if I could just find the money to pay my bills, medications, rent, all that, I think it may be okay for a bit!
Lets see what the next few days bring.  The drama is really dragging me down to a low.  But I am having a better time of dealing with it!  December 6th, I wonder if I'll make it without breaking down?

Hope everyone else is doing a little better too.  I thought I didn't do much, but seems I did more than I thought!  I guess it can be done.  Just when is the sad, lonely and disappointment going to set in?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surviving The Holiday

Surviving the holidays has been a challenge for me.  Christmas was my favorite holiday.  It still is, but I have no one to celebrate with.  So I haven't been decorating.  Maybe this is the problem.

Reasons I like to decorate:
  • Its my favorite holiday
  • The lights make me feel happy
  • The trees smell good and makes me happy
So why would I stop taking part in something that gave me so much joy?  It was my husbands favorite holiday too.  Maybe I am feeling guilty that I am here and he is not?  I suppose questions could be posed until the cows come home, and there probably isn't an answer to any.

This year, I will decorate.  I'm also making some gifts.  I haven't even picked up my art or any hobbies, all the things that gave me joy,  since his death.  Its time to stop this nonsense. 

I wonder sometimes if other widows/widowers go through this same situation?  Is the joy gone for others? 

 As I said, I name my "void."  This year the void will be subjected to Christmas decorations.  The Void will be subjected to the sewing machine, beading, and homemade cookies.  Even if I have to eat them myself. 

Anyone else want to make some cookies too?  Lets do this!  All of us who have had the joy knocked out of us, lets celebrate this year.  Make a star and hang it.  Plug in a set of lights.  Burn a Christmas candle!  Let's all have a beautiful Christmas even if we are alone.  It can be done!

I'm going to make it a point to write more this month because I have been avoiding "the" holiday.  Every time I make something or do something Christmas I'm going to write about it.  Seems silly, but this alone is a large accomplishment.  There, I've put it in my blog that's public.  So now I must follow through!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Three Years Today

Three years ago today.  Yes this very day.  Why on earth do I continue to dwell on this day.  The children have all decided to celebrate his birthdate.  That was this same month.  Maybe its time I focused on happier memories instead of dwelling on the actual day.

I reflect today and see a few accomplishments, but also see that I've either held myself back, or timing hasn't been right to move on.  Sometimes situations we have no control over, but I keep trying.

As with anyone else, we must continue to try to continue on the best we can.

Yes, I can see where a birthday remembrance is far more positive than a passing on date.  He fought for life, not death. 

Next year, it will be a birthday and sweet memories instead of the sadness.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Void

I find myself sometimes lost and not posting.  This is not a positive issue.  I started this blog to share my experiences, good, bad, embarrassing, humiliating, and the infamous epiphany thoughts in order to be an inspiration to others.  To also just let others know, you are not alone.

So today, I sit and write.  I've been going through many items again.  After-all I have a home that at one time had a family of five.  All have moved and I am with myself.

Years ago my husband once asked me, what am I to do with all this stuff.  I responded with, "Throw it out, take it to the dump, quick before anyone notices."  I came home and it was all gone.  So happy I was.

Two weeks ago I had to climb into the roof space to see what all was going on and look for a leak.  To my surprise, boxes, not just boxes but bags, boxes, computers, printers, tv's, oh the list goes on.  All those things I thought were husband tucked safely in the roof.  It brought a huge smile to my face.

Of course, I am overwhelmed, but it made me realize how much he treasured us as a family.  He didn't have the heart to dump it.

So I sat there, tearing up, and thinking, will I ever find someone like you again.  The answer is:  no.  Not ever.  We had something special.  I cherish this.

Maybe one day someone may come along and sweep me off my feet, but it will never be my husband.  Its sad, but not really.  Such a special man.  Why would I want to replace that?  The pain was so bad, I honestly tried to play denial.

So now I name this.  The Void.  The void I feel should be filled with me and the vitality it takes to go on a new journey in life.  Time to turn the page of an unfinished book.  He always encouraged me.  Sure, I feel lonely, sad, and yes a huge void.  This void must be recognized and used effectively, otherwise it controls me.  The void will forever suppress what I was meant to do in my life.  Any chance for happiness will be trampled by my self inflicted demise.   This void is meant to be filled and I have to choose to become a whole person again.

I've come to realize, I've been in panic mode.  Four years of panic mode and fear of taking a step into life.  His illness was intense and for an entire year.  Waiting each day for this void to disappear or miraculously dissipate is not going to work.  Its my void.  For me, I believe it doesn't necessarily get better.  However, we have the ability to begin accepting what has happened.  We have the opportunity to make adjustments, baby steps at a time, each step is a gigantic leap to healing.

Quite frankly, I hold him dear like any of us experiencing a loss agonize what do I do now?   This month, in two days, will be the third year of his passing.  I reflect back and realize, he was so special.  We were so meant to be together.  He left early.  Why he was taken so early--this is a question I do not ask because I honestly believe there will never be an answer. 

It is the void I must focus on.

So many misguided choices I have made.  At one time I thought filling the void with someone else would make the pain go away.  This simply is not true.  The memories are too dear to ban for life.  No, the void needs to be filled with memories and the ability to appreciate and respect myself.

It is time now to take my void and fill it with love.  I will not lose anything by this.  It was a weakness and I made many bad choices.  It's alright.  It happens.  Now I remind myself my void will no be a negative part of mourning, no longer rule my life and be negative.  Instead my void will be my strength.  My conviction to discover what destiny lies ahead.  To learn, to grow, to have sweet memories, and to modify allowing much needed change. 

With little steps at a time, and constant reminding, my void will be my best friend.  :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Growing Up is Hard to Do

Who would ever imagine when we are all grown, have children who have grown and moved, that we ourselves would have to learn to grow-up?

When I lost my husband I actually lost half of myself.  Sure, I was incredibly independent, always have been.  But reality strikes when you trod on to do what comes natural to some.  Suddenly you find, you were dependent on your partner whether you realize it or not and just how much you were dependent.  When he's gone, half of you is missing.  Sad but good at the same time, he can never be replaced.

I finally ventured out and tried my footing at meeting men.  Total tragedy.  I am not "grown-up" enough for this.  I feel like a fish out of water.

I had a few "dates" for coffee or lunch trying to get my footing.  Then I started actually seeing someone.

After two years of seeing the same person, living together for a year, getting to know the family, feeling comfortable and then a sudden breakup, a very harsh one with some very mean hurtful humiliating things said...well it leaves one quite stunned. No in fact more than stunned.  Emotionally traumatized is more like it.   

Plus, what a way to break-up with a person.  I mean honestly, one doesn't expect a romantic dinner served with Dom P'erignon, but a little bit of respect about it would be nice.   Your brain starts scrambling as you try to be mature even though your heart is so broken its indescribable.  Tears, of course, well up and you really have so many thoughts running through your mind that you say nothing at all.  Speechless.  Feeling very naked because you were sitting on the couch and it came out of the blue.  Then you hear, "Oh stop it, tears won't work, your trying to lay a guilt trip on me and ruin all my dreams."

A gasping pain runs through the body again.  Like you purposely teared up?  Its a normal response of our body.

So you stand up to leave as gracefully as possible while everything around you is spinning out of control, and you hear:  "but I still care for you and lets keep our friendship."

Well, okay, that seems like the mature thing to do since I've seen my kids date, break-up yet remain friends.   But what happened just now, like, did I hear what I heard?

Yes, I think I did.  So I came home.  I looked around and I thought, my husband would NEVER have treated me this way even if he wanted a divorce.  Or would he?  Or did he?  Did he ever do this to someone?  Is this a guy thing?

I wonder how my kids ever survived dating.  Two are married and one has a girlfriend.  How do you deal with this.  Is there something your supposed to do?

Okay, so "lets remain friends" enters the picture.  You muster up enough strength to actually be mature about this and remain friends.  Then after a long time your suddenly being "broke" up with again.  When you really weren't, as far as you thought, "together" and were only friends.  How does this happen...when the friendship is a take, take, take, and you give, give, give.  When you have nothing of use to give...the break-up again.

Or, simply playing the grade school I like you today, I don't like you today.  Point is when you are broke up that's it.  That simple.  You can only break up again, IF, you are going out together again.  So something didn't sit well.  I gotta learn how this all is supposed to work! 

This is when it really hits.  Friends DO NOT treat each other this way.  I now believe "Toxic Personality" or "Emotional Vampires" really do exist.  I refuse to be a victim and am now learning to turn this negative experience into a positive.  Learning to read signs of take and give rather than take take take.  When you pull away that person caters to your weakness to keep what they benefit going.  Your lonely, have lost the one person in your life and you've been a wife and mother and this is all you know, so of course, you want to be loved, you want to care for another and unfortunately you want to be needed.  Only to find that as soon as you, again, fall into the caring mode, because we do care about our friends, you are being dumped.  Suddenly things are weird and when you are busy doing what you need to do... that person plays a guilt trip, or emotionally belittles you, you use all your willpower not to fall for it.  You begin to feel you are being played.

Widows/widowers, this is when its time to take control.  Be angry, its alright.  Put your foot down.  Stamp your feet and cry.  It's alright.  Do NOT put up with it.  And most of all, don't be afraid to break off what appears a seemingly  lovely friendship because constant one-sided taking is not friendship.   Guilt trips to cause you to feel you really should stop your entire life to do the sole will of this person...that is not a friend. You are losing nothing by letting go.  Don't feel as if you are losing someone again.  Recognize that fear of "I've lost someone again" or "I don't want to lose someone again."  Then embrace it tightly to your heart.

It is only the reality that you have already lost the one you loved coming back to hurt again.  Perhaps its time allow yourself more time to grieve, deal with the past and recent trauma.  Maybe recognize the possibility a "growing-up" portion is lacking in your life. After all we are having to start all over again.

Of course its lacking, because you have lost a complete half of yourself and you are no longer whole.  Take your time to learn this.  Never feel ashamed that you are not good enough.  You are most definitely good enough, and you are beautiful because someone loved you for who you were.  That was torn away and it takes a great deal of time to recover.

In your marriage, you were loved unconditionally.  It took a long time of tolerance, give, take, acceptance, compromise and learning about each other to form such a bond.  Some people never having gone through our situation could ever imagine what its like to lose someone after investing so much effort to make it right.  Some individuals never even have a chance to create a good relationship.

Never ever allow this new "dating"  type of  trauma to bring you to a low.  Yes, it happens and is part of life, but we are vulnerable.  A little more so than others.  We got comfortable with our relationship to those we lost.  Getting mad is far better than going to that dark quiet "I don't want to see anyone, I'm so embarrassed and ashamed" place.  You did nothing wrong.  You didn't "cheat" on your deceased loved one.  Your not a bad person.  It's all part of relearning.

I hope this helps someone, and if any of you have experiences to share please do.  Out of all the things I've had to do, this has been by far the hardest.  It isn't like there are books written on it.  Maybe we can help each other through experiences, in turn helping even others.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TIme to Move On...

Sometimes things take a major turn in our lives. 
On the previous blog, you can see how fast this can happen.  Then its time to put the big girl panties on and keep on moving!

Today I just happened to run into one of my husbands friends.  One who is going to arrange something special with all of Rob friends so they too can do what they need to do.  Why you wonder did this take so long?  Because it has taken me so long to accept I have to let go and move on.  I feel bad its taken so long, but the thing about Rob, he had some good friends who knew him well.  His friends gave me the time and space I needed to deal with this.  It was very sweet of them and really reflects on how much he was loved and cared about.

So I found the perfect bottle Rob gave me.  I collect cool looking bottles and especially fancy perfume bottles found where ever. Its been filled it with ashes for the friend that was his best man at our wedding and he will arrange everything.  I don't know what they'll do, its a guy thing and their thing!  This is their time not mine. 

So even though things really seem real bad for me right now, its not so bad.  I am moving forward, slowly, but still forward momentum.  Getting ashes to his friends is a MAJOR step for me.  It is also a very important event for them.

So forward momentum is good!  It would be nice if it went faster, but its all good, the forward momentum is happening!

It definately takes time to adjust.  It doesn't happen overnight.  For some of us it takes longer than others.  We all need to learn to go at our own pace.  Never feel pressured to go at a  pace you are uncomfortable with.  Take your time to do what you need to do. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

When Life Begins To Crumble

It has certainly taken some time to face the blog.  

     Funny how you are warned after your husband passes away to be careful and take it easy otherwise you will make yourself seriously ill.  What is seriously ill?  Does it mean you'll catch the flu easier?  Does it mean your energy level can drain itself?

     What about the bills I have to pay?  If I slow down and "take it easy" who is going to pay my bills?  The rent, the electricity, medical, insurance, gas, food and much more.  I had to resign from my job to take care of my husband.  If I didn't, he would've been refused treatment because he needed a constant caretaker for his condition.  I was not even allowed to pick up a part time job to help.   What they don't take into consideration is the repercussions of very little to no income, what will happen to the wife after the husband passes on, and cancer--well its expensive even if you have help paying for it.  Even with generous donations.

     So for two years I've been doing my very best to work as hard as I can to keep my head above the water enough that I could breath.  I wanted to be strong.  I wanted prove "no, its okay, I can do this, I've started over before, I can do it again."  Positive attitude.  Always trying to have a positive attitude and also make time to listen to others who are going through hard times too.  Its a rough world out there.  Of course I went through my negativity phase which is normal, but it has turned to a positive approach. 

     Well, sadly enough, even with a positive attitude, I've become ill.  Exactly how ill can a person get going through all the emotional trauma and trying to pay bills?

Gosh, where to start after two years of trying so hard to continue on?

     I've not been feeling well.  I dropped weight and it was like I was wasting away.  Fifty pounds right after Rob's death.   I love to do manual labor, but it began to hurt and hurt very bad.  I wsn't faking it, it really hurt.  I knew I could no longer do the physical labor sometimes over eight hours a day five days a week.  

     Then my hands hurt like crazy and had a carpal tunnel operation on both at the same time.  I was fortunate the hospital saw me as "going through extreme hardship" and charity paid off a rather handsome bill.  Still owe the other medical bills, but wow, what a generous show of caring.

     Unfortunately, my health continued to deteriorate rapidly.  No rhyme or reason for it.  Depression?  Wanting sympathy?  It's all in my head?  When finally I was in so much pain and so weak, so incredibly frightened because I am by myself, and just could not go another step...being scared but having a positive attitude I went back to the doctor and said please look at me.  Something is really wrong.  Still smiling even with tears in my eyes.  I was so frightened.  Please God, I thought, please let someone notice something is wrong.  Its not in my head, its not trying to get sympathy or people to feel sorry for me.  Please someone care.

     I was so lucky to have found a doctor who listened.  She didn't assume it was all in my head because I was a widow, didn't assume I was faking, but one who listened and saw exactly what was happening.

To make this very long story short, I've been diagnosed with a pretty serious illness.  Then, of course, like a nincompoop, I tried to hide I was very ill.  I live in a small community.  People whether you think they notice or not, they notice no matter how positive you are.

I've been diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder and am having to take low doses of a chemotherapy drug once a week. I'm tired, scared, and wiped out, and sometimes just not my peppy self.   My immune system is in a "fight or flight" response.  It never stopped fighting because its been one traumatic and extremely stressful fight after another since before Rob passed on.  I've been fighting so long just to survive that it is now attacking every part of my body, organs, muscles, joints, you name it.  It isn't good, but I still have great hope that I will overcome this getting it into remission, it'll just take some time, lifestyle adjustments and change in employment.  Heck, isn't that what this blog is all about anyway?  Being independent, starting over, changing one's lifestyle?

I haven't told anyone and kept saying "Oh gosh ya know that flu just keeps coming back and I can't seem to get rid of it."  I feel ashamed I am ill.  I feel it shows weakness.  I felt it reflected I  couldn't handle things on my own.  I didn't want anyone to know and have been hiding it.  I didn't want anyone to think I was trying to get folks to feel sorry for me.  So naturally, since no one knew, I've been making the condition worse by piling on more stress trying to do everything myself.

Why be ashamed that I am ill?  I've always been the one to take care of everyone else.  I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me.  Who cares or wants to hear about it?

This simply is not true.  Some good people in the world do exist.  I need to learn how to accept help as much as I am there to help others. 

How can people care or offer their support when they don't know.

Why suddenly come out in the open?  Because I do need support.  This past week showed me that I'd better do some quick changing and stop hiding.  I had several serious incidents happen that put me to my knees.  Also my dog, my beautiful Brycie boy passed away, the only friend I had left since all my children are moved away, and several other things happened all at once in one week.  It sent me to my knees and practically immobilized me.  

I do have a plan which I will get into another time.  However right now, I need to learn how to accept support and help from others.  I'm frightened, don't know how I'm going to pay my bills, and I have to make some major changes in order to get better and continue being a productive individual.

The wonderful element of all this, I know I can do this.  I know I can be positive and continue on.  Sometimes doors have to close so new doors can open to make your life better.  Its a new challenge in life and I will face it.

Ladies/gentlemen, who are beginning over again due to loss, heed this warning.  Don't do this to yourselves.  It will only get worse.  Indeed you can make yourself very very ill.  Don't be afraid or ashamed to accept friendships and help.



Sunday, June 6, 2010

Unfinished Business

Oh that dreaded unfinished business we all have.  Where to start.

 Beads they are some of my unfinished business.  I have so many beads I think I could decorate the town.  I do beautiful beadwork and haven't since Robs illness.  Beading has always been a positive outlet for me.  It allows me to express myself.   Time to break out the beads and get them all organized again. 

While snooping around my disheveled home to gather up all sources of beads,  I found a worn leather necklace with two very distinctive old cobalt blue beads on it.  This finding sent me into a whirl of memories and the gut wrenching pain of some unfinished business I needed to deal with.  What I held in my hand was Robs Carvers beads.  Oh how that brings back memories.  The one thing Rob did finish and his reward was two very special beads.  They have such spiritual, family, honor, and community inter-connectivity.   I couldn't begin to write the symbolic meaning of the carvers beads.  At first the tears flowed, but then I had to giggle because Rob was notorious for unfinished business.  More so than I.  But look at this, he left me proof that he does finish some business and I too must finish some business.

The disastrous day came when I had to ask him, "Rob, you want cremated, but what do you want me to do with your ashes?"  It was the hardest question I have ever asked in my life.  This was admitting his journey here was ending and would be picking up elsewhere without me.

His response, which did not surprise me, was, "I don't know honey, its ashes what would I care?  What do you think?"

What do I think?  WHAT DO I THINK?  I think I'm living in a dream and wish I would wake up from it and everything is going to be alright.

I  waited a few days and asked again, "Rob what am I going to do with your ashes?  Would you like to help me pick out an urn?"

He sat up and said, "What ever you do, do NOT spread me at sea.  I like that urn wanna share it?"  He went on to explain to me that the worse way to die would be to drown in the ocean living in the darkness forever.  He'd thought about that every time he went fishing.  I asked him what I should say to his friends who love him? I explained his friends need to be able to mourn his death also.  Then he said, "My friends can take care of themselves, it's you I'm worried about, when its time you will know what to do.  No spreading me at sea."  That was his final words on this matter.

So I have Rob's ashes.  I can't count the times that I had someone come up to me and said the chilling words of, "Hey I'd really like to visit Rob where do I go?" and I have to say..."well, he's still at home with me."  The next year the same question only with a "I want to go visit Rob have you given him a place yet?"  He's still at home.  I was feeling so pressured and like I was doing something wrong keeping his ashes and urn here until I knew what Rob would want.

Awhile back I checked into one place here and although nice, I just can't bring myself to put his ashes in there. I consulted with his clan relatives and they gave me some very thoughtful ideas.  Now I feel its time I can do this.  So I been working on that today.

Given time, I now accept there is no shame in keeping Robs urn with me.  No one has the right to tell me otherwise.  We will share the urn.  But the some of his ashes will be taken care of differently.  Its taken me awhile, but his friends who knew him would understand and agree.  Its a sad day, but a good day all the same. 

Meanwhile, I gather my beads together and begin the long process of sorting and organizing.

This means going through boxes of memories.  Sweet memories.  It hurts because I miss him so much, but  I now understand although his journey is without me, and I am on a journey without him, our bond only grows stronger.    Its a nice feeling.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Blast to the Recent Past

Check out this 5 foot 3 inches hunk of a man.  Meet my husband Rob Klanott.  He is with our 165 pound Newfie.  Okay so back then it was 60 pounds of pup.  We had good times and bad times.  Three children all grown and moved away now.  This picture was taken 3 years before our illness.

Robert, who has always been the strongest healthiest man I know, began suffering from odd bruising.  Being stubborn he refused to go to the doctor.  Not but two weeks later, he brought one small bag of groceries into the house, collapsed in his chair and didn't wake up til the next afternoon.  He also complained of a headache and no energy.  ZAP he said, its gone.

He was flown to a specialist who gave the diagnosis of Leukemia type 7.  This was on September 30, 2006.

I stayed by his side everyday.  I resigned from my job because he was going to have to go through a stem cell transplant.  This meant a great deal of time away.  An uncertain amount of time. I was working at the Elks Lodge as a bartender.  They were actually very supportive to my situation.  In no way could they hold a position open for a year, and in no way would I go back to a job and tell the person who had to take my place that long, "See, ya I'm back"

 We had an apartment. We  had a young lady staying here in our home to take care of our babies (pets)  Even though we had an apartment, when he was in the hospital I stayed in the hospital with him.   It was a very stressful situation.  We were in Seattle a very long time in and out of the hospitals.   I am often told I was strong to do this.  Don't know if that's true,  I was scared, the prognosis was not good, and I wanted him to know I loved him and will be there for him.

Staying in a hospital is often humorous and frustrating.  I'll never forget the time a young nurse came in.  We were in his tiny hospital bed while he was receiving chemo drips.  He wanted me close and to be held.  We'd pray as that poison went in.  We were going to do this together.  Poor man was so sick and weak.  But it really lifted our spirits that a nurse 1/2 our age needed to talk about sexual conduct policies of the hospital.  Bless her heart.  That was the last thing on our mind. As weak as he was he laughed so hard.  What a wonderful sense of humor he had! At first I was insulted then found it pretty humorous too.

 Jan 3, 2007 was the day we began the long journey of stem cell transplant.  Many many complications. He fought so hard.

June of 2007 a doctor we did not really know just walked in and said, "Your tests are back.  You've become refractory and there is nothing more to do.  Your going to die."

God to this day those heartless words of "your going to die" echo in my mind.

This was it.  Just like that.

We were asked if we wanted to know how long he had.  Rob looked at me, and I looked at him and said, "It's up to you.  My opinion is that know he doesn't have the right to tell you when you will die.  How could he know"   Rob declined and said "Just let me go home.  Now."  Unfortunately I was cornered outside his room and the doctor really wanted to tell me how long.  I literally had to say, "Get out of my face, it is out of our hands now.  Leave me alone"  Hence it was reported in the medical notes to the doctors up here that "his wife is in an aggressive stage."  I laughed when I read that and so did Rob.  Deep inside that really pissed me off.  What right do they have?

So he wanted to come home and see what he could while he could.  He did not want to be hospitalized.  He didn't want any other nurses coming into the home.  He trusted me, and he was scared to death of the germs.  This was challenging to say the least and ended up with me having to retain a lawyer to help me gain his rights while he was still coherent. It was quite a stressful fight.

 We had no insurance except his Native health care.  The situation went too fast for SSI and Medicaid to kick in.  I had to retain a lawyer to help me with that, accounts etc.  We had to liquidate everything.  Had it down to the only thing we had was our home.  Hey!  At least we have a home.  Basically it was a bureaucratic struggle where everyone was trying to do what they believed was right for him, yet he wanted certain things.  We finally found a happy medium he could feel good about.

We enjoyed life as best as we could.  He would go in and out of dementia, but that is part of the disease.

In November of 2007 it was obvious he was close.  He told me he wanted to at least make it to his birthday.  He made it to November 16.  We had a small party for him.  After that it continued to get worse and worse.
He didn't want any visitors as he didn't want anyone to remember him in his weakened,  highly bruised and just bones condition.

On November 30th, he reached up and touched the chimes his granddaughter gave him.  He loved those chimes.  He said "angels" and yelled out all the kids names.  I went to him and with one look knew he wanted to go.  It was time.  Oh gosh.  What do I do? I gotta be strong for him.  I cannot even write this without weeping.  Instinctively, I held him in my arms.  "Water" he said, he wanted water but was too weak to drink it.  I started crying and held him and I said, "Rob I love you, if its time for you to go, you need to go.  I'll be fine. You know me.  I'll miss you because I love you more than I can say.  I understand though.  Thank-you for being strong for me.  I love you."  He smiled and whispered,  "I love you" and died in my arms. He was pronounced dead at 3:00 in the afternoon.

The whirlwind right after this was traumatizing not to mention my husband had just died in my arms. I went into autopilot.  I told him I'd be strong.  A friend came by and asked me if I needed anything.  I asked for a bottle of Chianti.  I am not a drinker.  But just wanted a bottle right then.  I was asked if I wanted to go stay at a friends house, but no, I knew he wanted me here.  Neither of us had any family here besides our children, whom I told do what you need to do for your grief, don't feel obligated to sit here with me.

They left and stayed elsewhere.  Where they were with friends and thank-god comforted.

This is not an easy experience to talk about.  SO much happened so quick.  I had one friend sat with me off and on.  Another of his friends came by and gave me some support.  My friend took us down the next day to say goodbye before they flew him out to be cremated.

This was the beginning of my "widowhood"

I knew life would change, I had no funds, I was alone, and god I was scared.  So very very frightened.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where To Start, What To Do?

The most horrible question we have to ask of ourselves.

With time more of my experiences will be written, but this first post let's start with the present.

Presently, I am trying to recover my individuality that somehow disappeared.

Where did it go?  Oh, right, I became a widow. 

So now I am trying to wander away from the "widow" stigma bestowed upon me daily.  Not easy to do when we are reminded, in some way, daily, no matter how many years its been.  This stigma follows those who get remarried.  It is difficult to start over.

So, I've decided not to start over, but enhance my individuality by adding on to it. Right now I take great happiness in all accomplishments even if its just feeding my buddy Bryce the Newfie on time.

Three months ago I began changing my home around.  Why is that such an accomplishment?  Its a show of individuality.  Its my home and I can do what I want.  WOW....that's harsh.  My husband passed away November 30th, 2007.  It is now 2010.  I haven't touched a thing since that day.  That dreaded day.  No company over because I didn't want any.  I was ashamed at the disarray my home was in.  I made myself practically recluse.  Now I have friends coming over again slowly but surely.  They come over to see my accomplishments at reviving my home.  It feels good to have that support.

I was given so many help books, grieving books, etc, but was pretty much left by myself to deal with all I needed to deal with.  The books were thoughtful.  But I found I don't really fit in the "Widow" mold and how to deal with it.  Hmmm.  Maybe because we are not all the same.
  • How many have received such info from friends who mean well.  You call because you just want to talk and you hear, "Have you tried reading that book I gave you?" and thats the end of the conversation?
  • I'm not criticizing the books, they do help and comfort many individuals.  If this was the case for you how about listing some and letting us know how they helped?
A friend suggested grief counseling.  It probably would have helped, but funds were tight so I went to work a week after his passing.  I could no way afford grief counseling.
    Starting this blog I'm hoping that expressing my perspective might help myself and others. What is this being a widow or widower mean? I've been divorced, that hurt, and had my perfect husband lost to cancer, that really hurt.  So one step at a time.

    Look!  I actually finished my first blog!

    When you do something uniquely you,  share it!  Remember how good it feels to be human again and not just a "widow or widower." 

    By the way, I get lonely and I have a giant teddy bear I sleep with!  Yep thats right.  My aunt also sleeps with a stuffie and another person sleeps with her husbands clothes to keep his smell right there.  Even though they will always be a part of our lives, we can still be individuals.  Getting there is the hard part for some of us.

    Hope you all have a lovely day.  Pick one accomplishment and be proud of it.  Share it with us!  Its a good feeling!