Tuesday, December 30, 2008

touchdown

It’s here again. The brief agonizingly sharp pain of awakening. Like from a coma. Or a nightmare and realizing that it is reality.
I walk around as an automaton. I feed the kids. I wash my face. I buy chicken feed. I seem to be moving. I seem to be alive. Sometimes, I believe it myself. I think, “Okay. We’ll be okay. I can do this.” People tell me that I look good. That I seem to be healing. It’s not me. It’s the robot that applied my make-up. It is the instinct that drives me. It’s the habit of years of doing before my life ended.
Now, I put the bleach in the fridge. I forget to feed the fish for weeks and one of them dies of starvation. I mean to buy Christmas gifts for people. But Christmas passes and I still haven’t done it. I don’t phone people back. I don’t even remember that they called. I leave the house a mess until I impale my foot on a thumb tack dropped days before.
People say that they too suffer from this. Yes, I used to laugh at my forgetting ways and ‘mommy brain’. This is different. There is no one at the helm.
Often, I hear myself talking. But I don’t really know what I am saying. I am gone. I am asleep. The lights are on, but no one is home.
Then, I wake for short periods of time. I wake and scream. I lock the bathroom door to get the only privacy I can get. I sob and cry out. I pull my hair. I want to throw up. I swear. I rage. I want out of this hell.
I worry that what is happening will cause more grief for my children. Will causse judgement from others. But I can’t help it. I can’t stop crying. I can’t pour out the pain fast enough to get it together to hold these two little souls close and tell them the lie again, “It is going to be okay.”
I have no one to call. Jeff died. Robo ran away. Everyone else who lives in this house is under four feet tall. People outside this house have their own problems. Everyone tells me to let them know if I need help. I won’t. They have families and lives they need to attend to. In all honesty, I often don’t want to talk. To see anyone. To maintain these fucking ridiculous social graces that no longer mean a rat’s ass to me.
I know this keeps going. I know that it is too long. I know that my lack of healing is a burden. I know that it is more comfortable for everyone if I just maintain the fa├žade. So I do. And I close up again. And my children can see a mother who doesn't cry out and moan from the loss. I go back to my hiding place inside. I curl up in the foetal position and resume my slumber until the next time I wake to find that it is true. And he is gone.

Monday, December 29, 2008

alone again

Robo left again. Gone. I don't know where. He's not happy. I'm horribly concerned but also tired of the gut-wrenching worry. I am having trouble sleeping and keep imagining awful things happening to him....and his lifeless body. I am completely impotent to help him. He won't accept my outstretched hand and I don't have much energy left to extend it. I want him to come home. But it is just so much to take right now. If he wants help, he knows where to go.
He is part of the family. He has been my emotional support and my shoulder. We take care of each other. But have I used his connection to Jeff as a bandage to protect the wound? Now that he's gone, the sore is raw, open and gooey again like it has been under a wet bandaid. It is much worse than it was when Robo was home. I miss Jeff more intensely. I feel his absence more acutely. Is it just that 'part' of Jeff that Robo brought with him or was it the comfort of his gentle presence? I don't know.
I do miss Robo intensely as well. His quiet way with the kids. His twisted sense of humour. His gentle comfort and constant companionship. The confidences he told me. His ability to listen to anything I have to say and take it in stride. His interest in the goings-on in the house.
I didn't feel so alone. I felt like someone would noticed if I 'fell'. Someone would care if I broke down. He was here and he cared.....And I felt the same for him. I cared.
But now, I'm angry. He left. He left my kids without saying good-bye. He had no real obligation to me or them but we love him and my kids have had them in their lives for longer than they can remember. I can't risk my kid's happiness as he comes and goes from their lives. The last thing Liv had said to him was "I love you, Bobo. When I get home can we start the sea monkeys you got me?" He is important to them and seems to forget how much they love him. They are asking where he is. When is he coming home? Can we wait to set up the sea-monkeys so Robo can do it too? How can he hurt them like that? How can he just leave home and not look back? What did we do?
The other night, after Robo had left, I sat crying wondering where he was and what demons in his head had caused his hasty departure. I sat in the dark with the extinguished fire until my feet got too cold. I went to my sock drawer and pulled out a pair of socks. They were the ones Jeff had put in my stocking last Christmas. Purple stripes. Soft and cozy. I pulled them on. And I remembered. Jeff loved me. I was worthwhile. I meant something to him as much as he meant the world to me. And that is all that matters, I guess.

horse play







Friday, December 26, 2008

nine months and a holiday


Yesterday, Christmas, was so different from previous years that it was hard to associate the day with our past ones. We had vowed to always be home for Christmas. I couldn't do it this year. Instead, we spent the morning at home and then head to my sister's for a fabulous dinner with great food and wonderful company. With 19 people in one house, five of whom were two year olds, it would have been impossible to lament the differences between the years and their tradition that are now lost. But today, Boxing Day, is different. Day was better. Playing Operation in the morning with Liv. Visiting with my buddy, Heidi. Dinner with my sister and her family again....And then home to an empty house. Liv is staying with my mom for a few days and going to the ballet. Briar is home with me....But there is a silence. A gross, sickening silence that is making my stomach clench and dark sadness/loneliness/fear fill in all the spaces around my heart. I thought I had made it through Christmas relatively unscathed. A few tears. A few quiet moments of sad remembering. But nothing unbearable. It turns out that it was waiting for me. For the down time. The time when I am alone. The time when Jeff and I would have sat together to do a puzzle or watch a show or talk. There are other things that I could do to distract myself but I honestly don't have the energy. I want to lay across his chest twining my fingers in his beard staring into space and thinking while he watches some ridiculous or gratuitously violent show. Occasionally talk about some moment over the last few days that will stand out in our memories as the indicator of this year's festivities. Now it's only me. My memories.
I am so lost...still. It's been nine months yesterday. I found myself bending down to tidy up as I checked the clock briefly to assess the time. Nine months exactly. To the moment of when he left. The moment I last looked in his eyes. Pulled at his beard. Not with quiet thought or snuggling. With fear. Terror. Sadness. Today, I turn back to that moment and all that has changed since that tiny second and the doctor's words that changed it all. I want to somehow morph my life back to what it was. Even just one moment to have him back. To not be scared. Lonely. Exhausted with grief.
Life isn't as bleak as it was initially. Not as cavernously empty. But in moments like this one, his absence leaves a vacuum sucking any joy or comfort that I have managed to scrape out of the remainder of my existence and sends a dark yawning hole where he should be. I want him home. I want him back. I just want him.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

tonight



Tonight is hard. Lonely. Too quiet without a large, hairy man attempting to tiptoe through the house. I am not talking about a jolly, red dressed man. I am talking about a funny, dark-haired, loving man who made everything light up. Who added laughter to everything. Who loved me so. A man who made my life complete. Now he isn't here....but I am. I have to go through the motions of putting together a Christmas of positive memories for these little ones. Who put me in charge of this? I am the one who despised this holiday. Suddenly, after losing so very much, my hatred of this coming day is waining. Although I still dislike so many of the off-shoots of tomorrow...the spending, the chaos, the gluttony...I am so pleased to have my family. My friends. My life.


There are times that I wish it were all over. Times I want to hurry this all along so I can find out what happens at the end. Find out if Jeff is there waiting for me.


But there are times that the loss of my love has taught me so much more. To enjoy what I have. To take a deep breath and see what I haven't lost. To love and to not be afraid to show this love. Because it is all fleeting. It is not 'if I die'. It is 'when I die'.


We all have or will have been touched by some form of trauma and struggle over our lifetime. We are not alone. We need to remember to stand together. Shoulder to shoulder and lean when we have to. Laugh when we want to. And love like we need to.


The drama and stress are not important. They fuel the upset and grief. What is important is how we show each other that we are worth every single moment we spend on this world together.


I wish I had known all these things before. There are times even now that I forget these things I am learning. But we all need to remind ourselves and others to be gentle with ourselves and each other. Not just today. But everyday.


Merry Christmas. Tell someone that you love them.

on the eve of Christmas

More snow. Argh. Preparation for playing in the snow seems to take eons and I find my blood pressure rising terribly as I attempt to put Briar's rain coat on over two sweaters and explain to Liv for the fifth time why I would like her to put her arms in her coat rather than just wearing it as a hood. I don't want to complain but getting used to having snow for extended periods of time is taking some getting used to.
So we've been doing quite a few indoor activities. I am overjoyed to be able to include Briar in some of them as he has been too young to assist in candle-making, etc. We made pomander oranges yesterday and he had a great time! Each time he added a clove, he'd hold it out proudly and squeal, "Look! I did it! Another one too?!"
I was so excited to find this post and with it another cool indoor activity as the snow continues to fall. We'll be giving them a try today!
I am being asked yet again to check the Santa tracker to see where the jolly old man is, I'll post this and click away.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the longest night

We've been introduced to what it must be like in many other parts of North America at this time of year. In fact, it looks as if the whole of Canada will have a 'White Christmas' this year for the first time since 1971! Meaning it will be MY first white Christmas as well as the kids!

It is truly, stunningly beautiful to look at....but I am getting a bit tired of the shovelling, frozen hoses, and slippery walkways. We are expecting another 10-20 cm tonight.....I guess we'll just hunker down again, turn on the Christmas tunes and snuggle. However, Winter Solstice was a magical day for us. We made a cake that was complete with a snow scene of our family (Liv, Briar, Me, Jeff with a toothpick beard, Robo, Freckles, Moe, a turkey, and two chickens...we got a bit tired of making chickens....) made out of marshmallows.

We went for a walk in our snow covered neighbourhood. It's interesting to see how the local wildlife are dealing with the cold. I can now identify with the song that goes, "It's a marshmallow world in the Winter..." It truly looks like someone had a candy making accident. We finished off the day with a candlelit dinner of chili and cake and then off to bed to read their solstice gift of a book called 'Jack Frost'.

I am finding that having a long haired dog in the snow is a bit of a hassle. He's grown 'balls'...and not the kind that were removed to inhibit his ability to produce puppies. He creates a puddle wherever he goes!

goodbye, sweet friend


My dear, dear friend, Ellen, has left this world after a short but hard fight with pancreatic cancer. She was one of the strongest, most ballsy person I knew. Kind, generous, so very loyal, and funny. She loved animals and would protect them with all of her abilities. If she saw something that wasn't quite 'right', she would be the first one to speak up and stand up for this injustice. On the other hand, she was soft and sweet. So loving. So gentle. We shared so many, many laughs and so many adventures.

I hope Jeff and your beloved dogs, Mary-anne and Sparkles and your crabby cat, Barney, are there to greet you wherever you now are....and that wherever that is has many men in tight jeans with cowboy boots, my friend. I love you. Thank you for your friendship and your light, Marshm_ellen. You made the world here a better place while you shared it with us.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

lost and found

I've removed my previous two posts as I have found what we had lost. Thank you so very, very much everyone for your support. I'll write more about it all at another time.....
All I can say, is I am sick of drama. I want to live a very boring life. A quiet life. One where I know what to expect and can take things slowly and quietly. I am sure it is just a dream but I need rest from chaos. I want willing to learn and grow from all that life has to teach us. I want to evolve. But I am so exhausted from all the changes that have occurred in the last year. It makes every mundane thing that I felt compelled to complain about in my 'past life' (before Jeff died) a desired and wonderful thing - the luxury of finding fault in stupid vacuous shit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

too cold

I am tired of being trapped in the snow. Our house is warm but I am alone with two little ones and this aching empty void. We already have approximately 60 cm (2 feet) of snow and are expecting another 10-20 cm overnight. As I've said before, snow is a novelty here. But a novelty that gets old FAST. There is a lack of plowing the roads due to a small amount of machinery. It is record-breaking cold and I am terrified for Robo. I feel as if my hands are tied. I can't do anything.
The scenes out the back windows are stellar....but I can't think about beauty. I keep thinking about all my small family has lost in the last year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

as if things could get worse



Our Robo, our sweet, gentle Robo, is having problems. He has been with us through thick and thin....most recently all the thin. He has held my hand. Played with the kids. Provided support and friendship. He has missed Jeff so intensely too. After Jeff died, he made sure I ate. He gave me my medication. Drove me to the funeral home. The funeral. Sat with me and has been sitting with me since. He has been my shoulder and the kid's link to their daddy. The stories of Jeff that I can't remember the punch line to, he knows and fills it in.


And now, he's gone. He has always struggled with his ability to feel happiness. He has very low lows and is his own worst enemy. I wish I could help him. I wish there was something that I could do. I tried. I tried to help him and he pushed me away. And now, he's gone. Left on the snowy roads, without so many of his things, and a gaping hole where he has always been. He says he won't be back. He says he plans to do himself harm. It's more than I can take. It's more than my kids should have to deal with so they are totally unaware that he left yesterday. They've asked for him repeatedly. I don't know what to say.


He had promised us that he would be here for Christmas as always. That even though Jeff won't be home, he would be. A bit of normal. Now, there is no normal. His room is empty.


I can't help but to feel anger and frustration towards his actions. Haven't we all been through enough? Doesn't he know how important he is to us? As Jeff used to say, "Robo is our family too". He belongs with us and I don't know where or if he is anymore.


I rarely write about him because he has asked me not to. He has asked to not be included in this record. But I....just want him to be warm and okay. We can't handle more loss in this house. It's beyond ridiculous. And he belongs here with his family.


If you see him, please don't tell you read about this here, just make sure he is okay.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

little birds in little hands

Last week, a bird hit the sliding glass door and richoted into the waiting jaws of our avian-loving canine. I extracted the frightened little dark-eyed junco from the jaws of chicken-hell but the poor terrified bird shook and gasped before dying in my hands. After its' passing, the kids and I looked at its' body and the wonder of its' making. When you rarely hold a small bird in your hands, they seem like tiny miracles. That something so tiny and fragile can fly, create other small flight prone creatures, and do it all while being the size of the palm of my hand.

I am finding that being forced to deal with the death of her daddy has made Olivia have less of a fearful outlook on death. I realize that to an adult it would seem more logical to become more terrified of death after what happened. But I think it put life more into perspective for her. She seems to a conviction and answers to questions about life and death that I have not been able to give her. She is wise beyond her years when it comes to the loss of our loved ones. This doesn't mean that she isn't heartbroken. But she isn't as afraid now. Her terror seems to be waining. And for this, I am so utterly thankful. I want peace for my little ones.




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

save handmade!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Save Handmade Toys

Please check out the link above! I am horrified to hear about this. Please write letters. I know I'm Canadian, but there must be something more we can do to stop this from happening in February. I've written our prime minister, Stephen Harper, and my province's premier, Gordon Campbell to see if there is something that could be done (I realize that this is a shot in the dark from here in Canada). I've signed the petition. And now am posting this on my blog....I am having trouble having time this morning to write eloquently about this issue so I am going to leave it to others who have already....If you'd like to read more, check out Inhabitots , Uncommon Grace , Handmade Toy Alliance , Mom-101 ....okay, I could go on and on.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

stuffing


I've been stuffing. I don't mean putting bread and spices into a turkey's nether regions. I mean my emotions.
It's been too painful to deal with this loss. I avoid Jeff's photos. I redirect my thoughts. I do things that seem to take the pain away for a moment. When I talk of the loss of Jeff, I refuse to feel the sadness. I push it down. I turn away. I try to forget. Like a door closed to a fire, the smoke eventually seeps under through the cracks.
I almost felt smug with this coping mechanism. I thought that I had found a way to survive with out crumbling at least once a day. We all hear that you 'should' allow yourself to feel emotions so they don't come back later to get you. But I guess I thought I was the exception. "I can do it", I told myself, "I'm strong." But it turns out that I'm not strong. I'm a coward. I've been hiding under a blanket and hoping that it will be gone when I emerge. Like a child hiding from a monster. But I am hiding from sadness, loneliness and fear.
But now, I can't hide. The last two days have been really hard. I am on the verge of tears constantly. I feel lost and beyond sad.
It's like a wound that superficially closed over but still brews infection. It looked okay but beneath the surface the infection has been pushing at the scab and pulsing. The pressure has been building and causing a lump to form. Suddenly, the wound has broken open again, spilling its' pus and reminding me of the initial injury. I scurry to find a band aid but what it really needs is fresh air and an occasional cleansing.
I have still have dreams that he's alive and I am happy. Suddenly, he can't breathe. Instead of trying to save him as I did in real life, I run away. I hide. He dies alone.
What I'm learning is that there is no convenient time for grieving. I can't hide. I have to feel this. I don't want to. I want to curl up in a ball and sleep. I am tired and I don't want to do this.

Monday, December 15, 2008

what the f#@*?!

Staring out the window at the frozen backyard just now, I had it again. The moment that feels like an unexpected snow ball to the back of the head.
Jeff is gone. He died. He won't be here for Christmas.
I will wake up in the morning alone.
I will go to bed without him.
I will have no presents to give him.
I will have no gifts to open.

I miss him so badly that there are times that I wish I could die. Like the widows who throw themselves onto their husbands funeral pyres. I do not want to face a life without him....But I fucking well have to. I have to put my head down and plow forward. Not look up until my end. Then I hope I'll will see him again. Who knows. But I have to try to cling to this feeble, fragile, illogical string of hope because other than the kids, it is all I have.

snow day







We've been hit with snow. Yep, I know this shouldn't be a surprise in Canada. But where we live we rarely get snow and it is rarely under 0 degrees celcius (32 F.). This morning, it is -14 C. (6 F. degrees for all the imperial people out there)!!!!!!!! The sliding glass door is frozen shut. The chickens are little popsicles. I've had to run the heat lamp out to them.
*Check out the bird in the above picture. I know this photo isn't stellar but the bird looks like a toy that was thrown. No outstretched wings. Just flung up in the air. Hmmm.

Liv and Briar are enjoying it immensely. I have to say that I also love the feeling of being hunkered down in our cozy little house with a warm fire, lots of crafts and all the sweet little birds coming to the feeders for food. We went for a wintery moonlit walk last night before bed. Although it was cold, it was beautiful and serene. Not many car venture out here when it's like this. The sound of total silence was almost as breathtaking as the scenery.> **Sorry about the photo order. I am just not feeling like putting them in the proper places at the moment. Would rather be outside with the kidlets.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas concert


Last night, the homeschooling community in our area put on a Christmas Craft Fair and Concert. The Monday craft day that we have spend with friends paid off as the items that the kids made sold. Liv was very proud and it was so cool to see all her little buddies selling their crafts. I was SO impressed by what these kids had created and thought of. Such little crafters!
A few days ago, Liv had said to me that she'd like to perform in the concert. We had not practiced anything so I was a bit nervous not knowing if she'd balk at the idea of every eye on her. She decided that she'd sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star/Baa Baa Black Sheep/ABC' so that everyone would know that they all shared Mozart's melody. She looked so small and sweet standing up there at the front of the loaned church. Briar joined her and offered his support by standing there playing with his 'invisible dog on a leash' (one of the cool crafts made by one of Liv's friends)...Sam also came to stand with his "Wia" at the end of her performance.
As I watched her stand there, her little elbows clutched to her sides, shy smile on her face, I fought away stinging tears wishing that Jeff could be here to see his 'Bean' and what a big girl she's becoming. He would have whistled and whooped when she was finished; scooped her up in his big arms and hugged her close until she squirmed to get down with her giant toothless grin.
She enjoyed herself so much. She asked that we do it every year and has already started planning her 2009 performance! She is so much of Jeff it amazes me. There is no way I could get up there and sing....Jeff would have done it....in his underwear if he felt like it. But last night, it was Liv. And she was great.
*Thanks for the picture, Krista! I have to try to figure out how to compress the video I took of her singing. I'd like to add it here!

Monday, December 08, 2008

they are okay

There are days or moments that I watch my little ones and think, "Bloody Hell. They are going to be so messed up after all they've been through." Then there are times that I see them blossom and bloom with smiles, laughter and play where I think, "If you didn't know what had happened, you would think these two had a 'normal' life."
All I know for sure, is that no matter how our lives unfold, they are stronger because they have eachother.
They still know how to laugh and be silly without guilt or remorse.

And that these two little ones are the most amazing teachers of living after your life has stopped.
I am practising seeing the world through their eyes....It isn't as dark as it is through mine.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rainbows

Liv and I go to a group once a week to talk about our grief. It's actually a support group for children, but they have a parent's group that runs at the same time. When this difficult journey began, both Liv and I felt like we were the only family that this had happened to. I wasn't aware of other young widows in my area and none of Liv's friend had lost a parent to death. She was worried that her friends would laugh at her. I felt like a social anomaly.
Somehow, we found a group that deal with loss and grief....not just death, but divorce as well (although the adults dealing with death or divorce are placed in seperate groups as many of our problems are different....though there are some similarities).
I've met other young widows. Liv has made friends that have lost parents. I think both of us feel understood and not so alone when we go to our meetings. I can not say enough about how wonderful and kind the volunteers have been. The understanding Liv has been shown is reflected in her little smiles at the end of each session when she tells me about her feelings and the projects they worked on.
I want anyone out there with children dealing with loss to know of 'Rainbows'. If you know of anyone who is traveling this road, let them know that there are people who understand. If you are not touched by these difficulties yourself, maybe, if you can afford it, send a small donation to this society to allow it to continue helping the little ones and theri parents who feel so lost and so alone.
*The link above is for the Canadian group....Here is one for the US...
Thank you, Rainbows....