Thursday, April 30, 2009
Jeff and his love of the Jackson Five. I loved to watch him dance. He'd hunker down and groove. When he danced with me, he'd swing me around and spin me like I wasn't the 5'10 woman that I am. I was small in his arms. Liv loved to be flung in the air and would squeal with delight as he sang 'ABC' to her whilst wiggling her little arms up in the air.
Jeff often brought home truly odd food home to share with his fearless daughter. They shared rattlesnake, crocodile and would eat solomon gundy regularly. If Daddy would eat it, so would Liv.
The gift of Briar's name. Jeff had thought of it and to this day I am thankful that he chose it. When I look around at all the beautiful wooden toys he made for Liv with the words "To Olivia Love Daddy" written underneath, it makes me sad for our little man that he doesn't have things that his daddy made just for him. But his name. His name was from his daddy.
Jeff's hard hat. He never wore it, except around the house. I don't know what he really thought he needed it for but he was so stoked that it was shaped like a cowboy hat.
Silly little things pleased him just as they would excite a little boy. All these little moments, these seemingly inconsequential snippets of his life, have become the warm comfortable quilt that wraps around us when we need him...when we miss him. I can tell our little ones the stories of their daddy, the amazing, kind, funny, loving and irritating man that he was and how he loved them so very, very much.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Being near the boats. I miss the smells and the people.
More boatey stuff...
Goats....I LOVE mini goats. If we had more room....well, we'd have a few of these little guys.
My boy approves of the wish that we will one day have goats.
Brother-in-laws who hate crooked pictures.
Monday, April 20, 2009
- Unless you are someone who would regularly call this person at least once a week, don't call right away. Wait until things settle down, the survivor isn't so confused and lost and there is not so much going on. I found that after three months, not many people phoned anymore. I could barely remember the initial few weeks and who I had talked to. I was so lonely, I would have loved to know that someone out there was thinking of us and would lend an ear to me and spare the poor souls whom I had been leaning on for the first while.
- When you do talk to this person, no matter who you are, no matter how close you are, DO NOT ask for the details surrounding the death. Let them tell you IF they feel they want to. They are already reliving it constantly and having to go over it again is pure torture. You are NOT the first one to ask, you won't be the last. Instead, be the one who is the solace. Where they don't have to talk about the details right now. Where they are safe for a moment from that pain....at least vocally.
- Don't ask them what they need done. They probably don't know. Look around. Tidy the kitchen. Put a sign up on the door saying "Please phone before stopping by. At times, we are not capable of accepting visitors. Thank you for understanding." Take the kids to play in the park. Walk the dog. Make out of town family a snack. Run phone interference. Mow the lawn.
- If you do feel that you need to extend contact, send a letter, a card or drop off a care package without expecting anyone to answer the door.
- Please refrain from saying to a widow/er that you understand what this loss is like because you just lost your father/uncle/grandfather/friend. I am sure these losses are extremely painful as well. I am sure that often this is the only frame of reference that you have for empathizing the loss and pain that this person is feeling. But it doesn't help them. It hurts. And it isn't completely the same. I hope I am not hurting anyone's feelings saying that. But with the loss of a husband comes the loss not only of friendship, love, and their presence, but also, the loss of intimacy, security, companionship, 'the team', memories as a couple and a family and the hopes and dreams of parenthood that you shared. It is terrifying to lose your 'other half'. The person with whom you shared an indentity as a couple. The person who knew you better than even your closest friends and still loved you no matter what you did. The person who witnessed the birth of your children, loved them just as much as you do and was able to hug/snuggle/console them when you weren't able to.
- Don't forget their husband/wife. Do call on the anniversary of their death. It helps to know that others are missing them to and that you are not alone in your grief. It is a comfort to know that you are not the only 'keeper of memories' for your children. That others have stories about this missing person to share with your little ones as they get older. To know that someone else is missing your husband/wife as well makes this loss a little less lonely.
- Do not start to measure how close you were to the person who died. There seems to be a notariety that goes along with death. It helps no one to hear that so-and-so was at the funeral but had had a falling out with them previously. Or that you were the last one to talk to them before they died. Or that you received the first call from the widow. It is not a pissing contest. It's the loss of a life.
Soon after Jeff died, a widow whom I don't know sent a couple of things to me through a friend. One of them was a poem that I stuck on my bedroom mirror and would look at in my first days as a widow and long for the understanding that this poem represented:
Don't tell me that you understand.
Don't tell me that you know.
Don't tell me that I will survive.
How I will surely grow.
Don't come at me with answers that can only come from me.
Don't tell me how my grief will pass,
that I will soon be free.
Accept me in my ups and downs.
I need someone to share.
Just hold my hand and let me cry
And say, "My friend, I care."
I did and do have people who are fabulous in helping us get through this. Without them, I don't know where I would be. And without you out there in the blogosphere, I don't know where I'd be as well. All of the kindness and support that you have all shown me and the kids has been truly awe inspiring. Thank you so much. I hope that this post will help others and not offend anyone because I am completely aware that a widow's pain is not exclusive and that others bear terror and pain as well. I am not measuring the pain of loss just trying to say what may help others in this situation.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
And then watch this one....
There are some things that haven't made it into any of my recent posts but I think are of interest to at least some of you. So here is an update on all things around here....
- I bought my plane ticket to San Diego!!! There are a few more steps before I am actually AT the conference, but I am on my way. I am so thoroughly excited! Thank you everyone who has helped. I could not have done this without you!! You guys rock!
- The chicks we hatched are still alive and growing daily. We aren't as connected with these little ones, however, as they spend the majority of their time locked away in the spare bedroom in the basement under lock and key to keep them away from the waiting jaws of Fuckles the poultry serial killer. They should be able to join the mass chicken population in two weeks. We're pretty excited to get to know them better!
- I passed my firearms training! The written portion of the exam by 94% and the practical portion with 100% (the perfect score is a mystery to me, actually, because I accidentally `fired`the lever action rifle....Good bloody thing that it was dummy ammo! The instructor told me that because I had it pointed in the `safe direction`he had indicated, there were no points taken off....Hmmmm, these gun people are a different lot. But I didn`t argue. He had a GUN for goodness sakes!)
- I had so much more that I had intended to write, but...well, the distractability thing has come up and I cannot for the life of me think what else....Oh wait, the bloody cross-stitch. (Thanks, Josie!) Remember this...Well, it still looks just like that. In my defence, I did a large portion since, but then I realized that I had messed up by one stitch, tore it all out and haven`t been back since. Every night, I think, ``Oh, I should enjoy a quiet night stitching with a cup of tea and a good show.`` Then, the kids go to bed and I fall into a nonsensical (real wordÉ) stupor and fall asleep beside them....This is also the reason that my legs are in need of real deforestation and I have five unfinished books on the go.
- And on a parting note, I`ll leave you with this truly awesome quote that helps me to not feel so guilty about all the thoughts and ideas that I`ve had that have gone without being followed through and makes me believe that other people may also suffer from knowing how they want their lives to look but unable to make it a reality. Hypocrites all of us!...
P.S. SuddenWidow, I went to your blog to contact you, but couldn't find an email address. If you need to talk or need anything that I can provide, please, please let me know. I'll be thinking of you...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But, I have come to a conclusion. Too often the media creates 'characters' that are fully formed and one-sided. They don't evolve or step out of the box without being portrayed as 'crazy freakshow weirdos'.
I am not a character. I am a real person. I have sides and moods and moments. I strive to change and grow as I 'grow-up'. This whole blog is a testament to real life and the changes in moods, moments, and life that we encounter. It's me. I have to try to accept myself as I am so I am going to accept my blog as it is. Flawed, fearful and even sometimes, funny (at least to me).
Thanks for following along as I crawl, run, and skip through this journey we all call life....I'll be following along to yours as well.
Monday, April 13, 2009
If you know me in real life, you most likely have noticed my....gift of....er...flatulence. I am sure that the majority of you prolitely keep quiet about my...issue but that it goes noticed, nonetheless. Possibly, you all comment on it when I have my back to you (it's when you'd notice it the most). However, if you are my sister or Marnie, you know when I have that grim smile of embarassment/satisfaction and pride, you must do like victims of fire do and "Stop, Drop and Roll". Stop what you're doing, drop to the ground where my hot ass air seems to vacate relatively quickly and roll yourself out of the vicinity.
My gaseousness has caused me much discomfort and embarassment through the years. It always seems that when I attempt to leave an area out of consideration for other patrons/friends/relatives, someone ALWAYS inadvertently follows me and I have to either resort to sending them an apologetic and sheepish grin in their direction or pretending that I don't smell the offending odour. In extreme cases, if there are many other unsuspecting people around, I have been known to cast accusing looks around and wrinkle my nose as if to imply that someone else possesses the guilty sphincter. Yes, it's true...although I am sure that most people can pinpoint the rectum of origin very easily.
Anyhow, I have wondered for some time if this is an issue that I should seek medical attention for. Unfortunately for anyone in my proximity, I lack the confidence needed to address this problem with my doctor (although I am sure he has noticed that when he enters the exam room, it does not smell the same as when he left it...).
So tonight, I turned to the friend/foe of anyone searching for medical answers when the doctor is not available - the internet.
Aside from the diagnosis that I could possibly be harbouring strange intestinal parasites, have some form of cancer (do they say this for EVERY ailment typed into the depths of the world wide web...) or a thyroid issue, I found this small pocket of hilarity that has put a smile on my face and is the reason that I have stooped to the level of informing the general public of my flatus.....Charcoal Filter Undergarments. Seriously. Insanely curious to see just how sexy these puppies were, I headed off to visit the advertiser's site.
Have these people never heard of a Shart? Oh-ho, maybe that is what they meant about 'normal use'! (Please be advised that I have never, ever in my life, sharted. Declaring my abilities as a human skunk is enough for me, I would NOT mention this on the 'net if I had this little problem as well!)
I nearly peed myself laughing when I saw the chair pad. Is this the item you get for that not especially floral smelling coworker who is shunned with his cubicle located somewhere close to the bathrooms or stairwell? Or how about the gas mask? Is this intended for friends and family members? Or perhaps, it is for those who are unfortunate enough to share the bed of someone with the superpower of 'the anal tornado'.
Anyhow, supposedly it is normal to 'pass wind' 10-25 times per day. That's a pretty large margin there....Anything more than 25 'pupputts' per day is 'abnormal'. So tonight, I will be sleeping lightly as I try to count 'toots' rather than sheep and attempt to have my numbers be as accurate as possible when I go visit my doctor with my 'little problem'.
P.S. The inventor calls himself 'The Gas Guru" and the site boasts it's Flatulence Blog! Does the hilarity ever end?!
*Now back to our regular programming*
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Tonight I am filled with self-loathing. Self-hatred. Self-questioning and self-mistrust.
Jeff thought I was kind. Funny. Sweet. Crazy. Quiet (compared to him this was not hard). Smart. Interesting. Looking at myself through his eyes, I liked myself. I liked who I was to him. Now I can only see myself reflected in the other people left in my life....and all I see is an insecure, hypocritical, pain in the ass.
I am a hypocrite. I make my mind up seemingly concretely about something and then change it. I am a preacher and meddler. I tell people to care about their bodies and their families. To do nice things for their wives. To smile more often. It's really none fo my business. I am a complainer. I can find something wrong in essentially every situation even when I have being trying for most of my adult life to train myself out of this habit. I am a geek. I do nothing of interest and live vicariously through my chidlren's childhood. I do not know what I am doing even though I often try to portray that I do. I stumble along, attempting to eductate myself about things that interest me only to lose that interest and zest after I have delved into the subject temporarily. I do not know jack-shit about anything. I didn't finish school. I never finish anything. I am obnoxious. I laugh too loud. I make rude jokes. I tease and think I'm funny when I am not. I am always late. I try to be on time. I curse my parents when they are constantly late. But I am just as late. I get distracted and attempt to fit too many things into small periods of time. I am raising my kids and not really knowing what I am doing. I have no idea what is right. People tell me what they 'think' I should do...and I believe them. Then someone else tells me what I should do...and I believe them. Conflicting ideas, maybe but I don't believe in my own feelings and think that I am shit and my kids suffer because I don't have much conviction in myself or my ways. I have no one to love me. No one to tell me that I am doing okay and that we will figure this out together. No one to hold my hand and tell me that even though I am an obnoxious, hypocritical, not-so-know-it-all know-it-all, they love me and that I am okay. I hate that. I hate Jeff for leaving me. I hate myself for being alone. I hate my life for what is left of it. I hate everything.
Who is insecure in their 30s? I thought you were somewhat at ease at this time in your life. Turns out, at least for me, that's shit. Without Jeff's image of me reflected back, I don't know who or what I stand for and that is pathetic all in itself. I am always telling my six year old daughter to not give two shits what anyone else thinks about her - what is important is what she thinks about herself. What if you don't know who/what you are after everything changes? Does your identity ever return? Who are you after? Do you ever know yourself again?
I want to close the door and not come out. I want to hide and not embarass myself further. I want to tell the world to go away. I want to scream and cry. I want to smash things and myself. I want to be free of myself because I make myself sick....I want to delete this because I think that I sound like a loser. A freak. A depressed sonofabitch who is just messed up and fucked up and full of shit. For all the 'ups' and the road that I have been pushing myself up, if I look hard enough, I realize that I haven't climbed even half of the fucking goddamned hill. I'll never make it. I have no reason to.
One of these wound opening moments has been a call from the coroner. It has taken over a year for the pathologist to find/finish Jeff's autopsy report. We've known from days after Jeff's death that he died of a pulmonary embolism. I've wanted to know where the PE came from as I had noticed hot, hard, red lumps on the inside of his knees weeks before. He had refused to go to the doctor about it. When they started to go away, he was sure that he had been right that they were nothing. Unfortunately, I will never know where the PE came from for sure. They didn't look at his legs. What they could tell me was that he had significant artherosclerosis and an enlarged heart. I've now spent hours pouring over medical sites, books around the house and questioning any medical personnel I can trying to decifer whether these new ailments would have contributed to the pulmonary embolism, how/why his heart was enlarged and what symptoms I should have caught. I don't understand how he could have normal blood pressure and cholesterol and still have these issues. These new developments have renewed my anger with him. I am so disappointed and furious that bags of chips and watching movies seem to have been more important than taking care of his body to ensure he was here with all of us for a long time. I know that this overly simplifies his lifestyle and that this is endemic in the fishing industry and lifestyle while aboard the boat. But it is maddening nonetheless.
It also restores my disappointment with myself and the worry that I let him and his family down by not managing to get him to the doctor earlier and not insisting harder. This was no easy feat, I realize. In fact, he once threatened to leave me when I forced him to go to the emergency room after he had passed out, was short of breath and his nose was turning blue. But if I had known that this would be 'it', I would have endured his fury and fear millions of times over.
I feel blame, not from anyone else, but from myself, for all the tender moments his children have lost that they should have had with their daddy as they grow older. For the laughter that his family should have shared with their brother/son/cousin. For the jokes that his close friends have lost. For the stories that he loved to share with anyone he met. For the tenderness and love that I will never have from him again.
I am so very angry with him. But the largest flame of fury that I carry is for myself. Why didn't I do something sooner? Why didn't I know? Why didn't I insist that he go to the hospital the night before, instead of the doctor's office in the morning even though he was stubbornly opposed to it? Why didn't I force him to eat healthier? Why didn't I beg him harder to join the kids and I on walks and swimming?
I want to turn back time. I want to change it all. I want to hold him again. I want to watch him play with his kiddos again. I want to hear him laugh again. I want to feel his large presence again. I want him home. I want to be 'us' again....not me alone. I want him back. I feel that it is my fault that I lost him.