Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Sound of Hope

speak to me

Today at work a very odd thing occurred. I heard the sound of hope.

I have been in a training all week at work. This afternoon the focus was on various disabilities, and how it feels to have different type of disabilities. We had various stations that we would go to, and someone would lead us through an activity. One of these was the experience of being blind. We wore black-out glasses, and were led by another worker through the courtyard. After the exercise we sat and discussed what it was like to maneuver the space without our vision. We talked about how difficult it was for parents of disabled children, and how they managed, given their child's disability.

I shared that my husband Michael had been diagnosed years prior with a brain tumor, and how there were times when we would awake to a completely new disability. Some days he couldn't walk, some days he couldn't talk, and other days he had no awareness of what was going on. As his spouse, and caretaker, I never knew what I was waking up to. I would have to just figure out how to care for him each day based on what abilities he had. It was very difficult, as I was never really prepared for any of this.

Now earlier in the training I mentioned to the group that I was a widower, but people can forget some of the details. Just before this conversation, I had been talking to one of the women, who shared that the tattoo on the base of her head symbolized her being a survivor of cancer. I shared that I had similar tattoos on my back in honor of my husband.

Well, after the discussion about the challenges of being faced with Michael's daily manifestation of his tumor, the woman who survived cancer turned to me, and with so much hope in her voice, asked how my husband was doing now. I paused, and looked into her face, it broke my heart to have to tell her that he had died. My heart didn't break for me, as this is something I have learned to discuss without as much pain. My heart broke for her. I know how fragile a survivor still feels. I know how they so want to always hear stories of survival. I saw it in her eyes. They looked sad, met mine, and she offered her condolence.

I thanked the group, who all joined in saying how sorry they were to hear of my loss. I then quickly moved the subject forward, allowing us to return to the original discussion.

In my drive home tonight, I realized that I was somehow carrying that feeling of hope with me. I was doing this unconsciously since the discussion earlier in the afternoon. It felt so good, and at the same time, it felt so odd. I haven't felt this type of hope in such a long time. The hope I felt was specifically tied to Michael. I was feeling hope for Michael.

So odd, yet so familiar. Even writing, and thinking, about this makes me smile. I remember this feeling. I have it symbolized in Kanji on my back.

What strikes me right now, is how powerful the sound of hope is in the human voice. It has a spirit to it that feels amazing. It is so uplifting. It carries you just slightly off the ground.

What I am recognizing is, that I want to maintain some of that hope. Yes, it sounds strange, but I want to maintain some of my hope for Michael. It was so empowering, and it carried me through such dark and difficult days. I know that in the past, my hope was meant to hold out for the best, for recovery, or for extended time. Perhaps I can tap into that hope again, and allow it, still tied up in Michael, to carry me through my days ahead.

I want to hear the sound of hope.

I want to recognize the sound of hope.

I want to feel the spirit of hope.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Basking in the Light

Sunny Side Up

I got out of work early, so I'm sitting out on my back deck writing on my laptop. The air is turning a bit cool, yet the sun it still shining, which keeps the area somewhat warm. Now that I have something to sit on, I plan to be out here a lot more. It is so relaxing, and so beautiful. My dogs love the yard, and as long as I take a moment to throw a ball across the yard every few minutes, they allow me to focus on what I am doing.

I can't help but sit here and count my blessings. I am a very fortunate person. Funny thing to say, right? It's not often that those words are used to describe me, either by myself, or by someone else.

There is something that Megan wrote in one of her recent posts that has stayed with me. She was talking about how our loss has really tested our faith. She proposed different ways of thinking about God/Love in light of our loss. This was one of the options listed as a possible choice in our way of thinking.

"There is a god, and s/he knew this was coming. Therefore, S/he put you as far into love and trust and goodness as S/he could, hoping it would shield you from the blast. Hoping it would be enough to carry you."

This analysis has really carried me these past few days. I'm really making an effort to see my life in a more positive light. I'm trying to look for the goodness, the grace that I have, and had, throughout my life. Yes, there have definitely been some real trying times, yet it is well balanced in love. I want to allow that love to carry me through these difficult times. I want to call on that love, and let it cloak me when everything is feeling dark.

So today, right now, I'm basking in the light.

I am embracing love, and all it's blessings.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What If's

12 Gore Globe
Okay, as is my usual, I have done nothing about getting some, but I will do something about it soon.

Tonight I'm having one of those anxious evenings. I can't figure out what is making me anxious. I keep having this nagging feeling like I should go somewhere, but I have no where to go. Anyway, I have a child at home, so it's not like I can be out having a good time.

It's often evenings like this that I end up just needing a good cry, which is likely how tonight will culminate. I think my grief just gets built up, and for the past few days, I haven't given in to it. I kept myself busy all weekend with purchasing, and putting together, inexpensive patio furniture. It was actually quite an adventure. Target was having a sale, and I found these cool white metal chairs that had nice clean modern lines. I paired them with some sand colored cushions, and bought four small matching side tables, and put them together to create an outdoor coffee table. Now, for some reason, each of the local stores purchased only two such chairs in white, so I was using my GPS to find all the local Target Stores, and went from store to store to make a complete set. My kids thought I was nuts, and whatever I saved in the price, I likely spent in gas, but it was something that gave my weekend purpose. I enjoyed it.

Just a minute ago my 12 year old started walking over with open arms to give me a hug, then turned away at the last minute, trying to be funny. I groaned so loud that he came back for a real hug. I hugged him so tight, and planted a big kiss on his cheek. I told him that I really need regular hugs, as they just don't come my way much anymore. He smiled, and gave me another.

Then I made the mistake of calling my 17 year old to see how his day was going. He began by complaining about how the staff at his program were giving him consequences for things that were not fair. Quickly he began saying that he was just going to move back home. I explained that moving home was no longer an option, as he has proven over and over again that he does not want to listen to me, and is unable to be safe. That went over real well. Suddenly it wasn't the staff's fault, it was mine. While it was an unpleasant exchange, and my blood pressure has just shot through the roof, it is a reminder about why he no longer is at home. My role now is to see that he has the best treatment, but also that my younger son, and I, can live our daily lives feeling safe. This is not an easy thing to do, as in my daily fantasies, I still wish for a time when my older son is "normal," and we are all able to live together harmoniously.

It all brings me back to those times when I allow myself to think about all the what if's.

What if my kids were not born with all these problems?

What if my husband Michael hadn't died so young?

What if I was living the good life?

What if?

This is all pointless of course. "What if's" won't change anything. I know that I have to learn to find happiness with what I have, and with what I find in the future. It's a real struggle, but this is the way I'm trying to live. I refuse to allow myself to wallow in the past. I have to be stern with myself. I have to tell myself to feel the pain of letting go, grieve my loss, and be mindful of moving forward as I do this.

I am going to get through this. Even if it kills me. Okay, a bit dramatic.

My son just came by with another hug. Lucky me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting Laid


I'm contemplating getting laid.

Yes, you read that right.

I suppose it is no surprise to any of you that it has been awhile since my body joined the forces of another, to make a joyful motion, and sing out in passionate unison. Well, let me tell you, it has been a very long time.

What am I waiting for? I'm not getting any younger. If I wait too long, getting laid will start getting very expensive. I'm not talking about paying someone for sex, I'm talking about waiting so long that I then require a hefty investment in erectile dysfunction medication.

Holy Viagra Batman!

I am trying with all my might to get out of this deep depressed mode that I have been in. Nothing seems to work. And perhaps getting laid won't either, but in past bad times, sex often seemed like an easy solution.

In college, if I had a test to study for, or was running late on a paper, and was getting frustrated, and needed a break, well, what to do? Go out and get laid!

When raising my young kids was becoming overwhelming, and I was beginning to feel old, punchy and unattractive. What's the answer? Go out and get laid!

When Michael and I were having an argument, or not seeing eye to eye on something...Get laid!

Grief got you down? Get laid!

No time for a work out? Get laid!

Can't afford a day at the spa? Get laid!

Get the picture?


Now here is my new predicament. Since saying goodbye to my lovely husband, and saying goodbye to a wonderful sex life, I have made my body a bit of an inked road map to my grief. I've got symbolism up my wazoo. Well, actually, I haven't gone that far, but you get my point.

What do I do when that wonderful moment finally occurs? He's softly kissing the back of my neck, and begins to trace the top of my spine, and there it is... M W L

What does M W L mean?

Well, um, those are my late husband initials.

He lets his hand stroke the side of my back, sending a lovely tingling sensation down my body...

What is with this tree? And with the bird flying by?

Well, you see, when I say My Late Husband, well, that means he died, and this is a tree of life, and....

See what I mean. Not exactly the ideal time to be talking about the dead, just when your hormones are starting to rise from the dead.

Talk about killing the moment.

Which all goes to the point being that there will not likely be a casual fuck in my life anytime soon. Either it will have to be in the extreme dark, or we will have had to have some heart to heart conversations about this long journey that I am on. And if by chance I find someone willing to listen as I share this experience with him, then he is not likely the type of person who is looking for a one night stand.

Am I ready for a non-one night stand?

I don't think I want a new, or potentially new relationship right now. But then, when? Will I know when I am ready, or will it just knock me on the head, have it's way with me, and tell me we are on the road to blissful happiness?

I don't know. I don't have all the answers.

I'm just out here trying to get laid!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Keep on Crawlin'

Crawling Male Nude

I'm feeling a bit better tonight. I'm sitting here drinking a beer, and eating hummus and crackers. Not my usual evening, but it's working for me tonight. All of you who read, and write, are such wonderful support. Each of you make such good observations, making me feel less crazy, and better guided.


I'm kind of being thrown off at work. I was hired as a floater, and have been blessed to be working with such a wonderful group of people these past four months. Now it is time to report to a new office, and while I'm only a floor away, say goodbye to my daily conversations with my office mates. At the same time, it is a good opportunity to meet others at the office, and stretch my social skills.

I think I need to come up with a weekend project. It always helps to have a focus when I find myself with too much time on my hands. If I promise myself not to spend too much money, perhaps I can put together some inexpensive patio furniture. The weather has definitely been nicer lately, and it would do me well to be outdoors, possibly getting back to some of my other writing projects. Who knows, maybe something fun will come up. I'm ready for some fun times.

You know, sometimes I feel like I have been on this journey a very long time. Then I count the months, and realize that I am still a newbie. I like to think of myself being able to soar, yet I think I need to be more patient with myself, and just crawl for awhile.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day After Syndrome

It's Not Easy

Man, I really thought I was doing okay.

I suppose I am.

I know I am.


I'm a wreck tonight.

I don't quite know what to do with myself.

I'm sad. I'm lost. I'm empty.

I'm sitting here staring at this computer wondering how it used to entertain me.

What happened?

I'm restless. I'm anxious. I'm frustrated.

What the hell is wrong with me.

Nothing holds my interest tonight.

I feel like such a waste.

Why the hell can't I be happy?

Why the hell can't I find a significant reason to exist?

Why the hell can't I find something to look forward to?

This is so painful.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Good Day

My day at work went well. It was a very busy, but quiet day. In the late afternoon my daughter called to let me know that she was bringing over dinner, and a birthday cake, to celebrate Michael's birthday.

I love my daughter, and am so grateful that she chooses to always commemorate the important dates that mean so much to me.

We had dinner, talked about Michael, then sang happy birthday to him. Even our two dogs, Ranger and Fido, got in on the act. I think they thought it was their birthday. I picked up Fido so he could help blow out the candles. Some have commented in the past that perhaps Fido is Michael reincarnated. After all, he did arrive the day after the first anniversary of Michael's death. I told the kids Fido could help blow out the candles just in case he is Michael, but that I highly doubt that Michael would be pleased coming back as a Chihuahua. Then I did have to admit that Fido loves to be spooned at night, just like Michael. This gave us all a good laugh.

After dropping off my daughter back at her home, I stopped by the store to buy Michael some flowers. I placed them by his urn, and lit two candles. I stood there talking to him, reminding him of my love. I then came out to the kitchen, poured me a vodka and pomegranate drink, and sat to write. I did for a moment think that the Margo would recommend coke with my vodka, but I'll save that for the next time I sit and have a drink with her.

My daughter commented that I appear to be doing much better recently. I explained that I do feel a change in the last couple of days. I think having my parents around this weekend really helped to boost my feelings. Celebrating Michael's birthday was also a reminder about how blessed I was to have him in my life. I won't lie and say I didn't shed some tears today, but it's all good.

If nothing else, I can say I truly knew love during my lifetime.

Birthday Celebrations.

Michael loved celebrating his birthday. There couldn't be enough celebrating according to him. This photo was taken in 2008, after spending three months recuperating from brain surgery, and completing his first round of chemo and radiation therapy. This particular birthday was celebrated with the kids and I on January 16th, 2008. The next day Michael and I went away for a needed weekend together in Napa, California. We spent two nights are a beautiful Inn. We had a room with a huge bed that was placed in front of an even bigger fire place. In the next room was a wonderful jacuzzi tub for two. We went out for a delicious dinner, followed by a casual evening walk, then back to our room for a bath. I remember laying in bed that night, cozy, feeling loved, and loving and appreciating the gift that he was to me. It was one of many great memories I have with Michael.

So romantic. So perfect.

Dearest Michael,

Happy birthday my love. This is the second year that I will be celebrating your birthday without you. Know that you remain in my heart. With every breath I breathe, I do so for both of us. We had many dreams together, some realized, some yet to be completed. I will do my best to make you proud. I will remember, and channel, your loving patience when I feel that I have none to draw on. I will remember your beautiful eyes, and the smile that made me melt. Those images will keep me safe from all my fears. I will remember the feeling of holding you in my arms, and the way you always rested so securely against my chest. I had never felt such love before meeting you. Thank you for all that you shared with me. Thank you for staying close to me during this difficult time without you. Thanks for holding me safely through each night. I carry your last breath within me, and I will never let it go.

All my love. All my appreciation

Your husband.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Open House

It's midnight, and everyone has gone to sleep. One of the unfortunate aspects of having my oldest son back in therapeutic placement is that I now have this big house, with only myself and my 12 year old, Remy, in it. I know that eventually my older son will begin visiting on weekends, and eventually my daughter's life will slow down a bit so that she can start visiting more often, but for now, it's rather quiet.

This weekend I have five days off in a row. Due to big cuts in the state budget, the agency that I work for has had to resort to eight furlough days without pay during the next 6 months. While it's nice to have more time at home, it does mean less money, and less time to get the same amount of work done. Oh well, I can't do anything about that.

What I can do is find ways to not feel too lonely in my own home. The prospect of sitting here for five days, feeling low, was too much for me. The first couple of days I found some fun decorating activities, but now I'm spent too much money, and the projects are done with, so life starts moving slowly once again. I decided that it would be a perfect time to have my parents back here for a visit. I really loved having them with me during the Christmas holiday, and since they no longer drive long distances, if I want them to visit, then I need to go get them.

I gave my folks a call, letting them know that since I was not working, I would love to have them visit. They also thought it was a great idea, so I drove the two hours to their home, and now they are here. We sat and talk most of the day, cooked our dinner together, then talked some more late into the evening. I love my parents, and greatly appreciate the gift that they are to me. And, because my parents are here, one of my brothers called and said he and his family would like to come visit tomorrow as well.

This is the gift that keeps on giving!

Tonight I realized that I have only used my oven on two occasions, and both times have been because my parents were here. I love catering to them, and cooking for them. I love discussing my job with them, and explaining how I came to decorate my home in certain ways. I love sharing my world with them. Because I made the move to southern California, I am able to do this more often. Having these types of visits have really helped fill a big void in my life. I get to sit in my home, share it with other adults, and have adult conversations. I get to talk about Michael, about my grief, and hear of their feelings about the man that I lost.

And because of the loss that I have experienced, I don't take any of these opportunities for granted. Just like I knew that I would not always have Michael, I know that I will not always have my parents. I want to enjoy my time with them as often as possible.

I'm realizing that my home is just like my heart, if I open it, they will come.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Painful Day


A couple of days ago I had my yearly physical. While there my doctor had the brilliant thought that I should have a tetanus shot, especially since I work with infants and toddlers. While they are cute and cuddly, apparently they harbor deadly germs and viruses. What do I know?

Anyway, whenever we get these helpful shots, like the flu shot of the moment, there is always the chance of possible side effects. My doc said not to worry, as my flu shot from last month went without a hitch. Well, last night I got deadly sick. Aching muscles and bones. Shaken nerves, headache and nausea.


I ended up going to bed early, choosing to just sleep through it. I had some crazy dreams, but mostly slept well, and felt enormously better this morning. In fact, I decided to get out the vacuum, and do some light house cleaning.

Bad decision.

While moving the very light vacuum, I pulled a muscle in my back. I let out a very loud scream, and found myself, tears in the eyes, descending toward the floor. I had all the animals around me looking traumatized, and my youngest son running out from his bedroom to see what had happened.

Well, that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Nothing much was getting done today. Fortunately for me, I had stored up quite an arsenal of past prescribed medication, and found myself popping some expired Vicodin, and some helpful Motrin. Within a couple of hours I was beginning to feel better, yet had to make every move with caution.

It's quite scary when you become so sick, and you realize how alone you are. Now, I did have my son, but a 12 year old can only do so much. I also didn't want him to worry too much, so I told him I was much better than I actually was.

I took a seat on the couch, and tried to entertain myself with the television and computer. I read each email as soon as it arrived throughout the afternoon. At one vulnerable point in the day I received an email from the Musella Foundation, which does research on brain tumors. I don't know how to unsubscribe from their mailing list, so I always take a deep breath when these messages arrive. Today's message annouced a lecture titled "Practical Suggestions For Brain Tumor Families" which was to be held on January 18th, Michael's birthday.

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Punched real hard. I sat here, and began to sobbed.

As the day has gone on that deep emotional response to this email has stayed with me. Each time I think about it, the sobbing returns.

My body, and soul, certainly knows pain. Pain such as this has the powerful ability to lodge itself deep into my memory bank. With each of these painful deposits, I suppose I could be considered quite wealthy.

No worry. This will pass. As each of us has learned, while pain doesn't always completely go away, it does become less intense with time. We become familiar with it, and we come to have our individual ways of getting through it.

I will get through it.

You will too.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011



Today has been a very difficult one. Although I have written in the past about my teenage son's emotional problems, I have not addressed them here for awhile. I think I wanted to pretend that it wasn't truly happening, or that my life could suck any further than it does.

For the past couple of months life at home has been very unpleasant, and very draining. I feel like I rarely have a moment's peace. It's tough enough getting through life after losing your spouse, but it gets amplified when you are being attacked emotionally, and sometimes physically in your own home.

Mental illness is a crazy thing.

I know that statement is funny, and there is little to laugh about these days, but having a son with mental illness makes your own life crazy. You know longer have a good grip on your own reality, or the reality that most enjoy. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had more sanity around me. I wonder how I would be adjusting to Michael being gone if I had the opportunity to live each day feeling emotionally safe, and stable. I don't have those things, and for the most part, never did.

I gave it my all, and tried to make it work with my son living at home, but the final straw hit today. That was me. I have been his punching bag for far too long, and I have now decided I can no longer live this way. I don't want to live another day with any type of violence in my life. I no longer want to question my own sanity, well, anymore than any normal parent does.

I'm okay, but a little sore. I was hurt this morning, and my son was placed in a psychiatric hospital. I have spent the day talking to police, school personnel, therapists and doctors. With each conversation each wanted to know why we moved here, and if there have been any other major changes in our household.

We moved here to make a change.

We needed a change because my husband died.

Because my husband died.

Condolence. Condolence. Condolence.

I know I'm writing about crazy stuff. I know that I'm trying to deflect from the trauma of the day. I know that life will get more sane. Soon, I hope.

In a way I am used to this type of trauma, and all that will unfold from it. At least now there will be the appropriate services put into place for my son. At least there will be a plan of care which will include emotional and physical safety for us at home.

I will be fine.

Can we talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

As a side note. People are funny. Today the cops were very helpful, but very young. There were three different ones who came into my home at different times, and within 5-10 minutes each would say, "hey, nice house, did you remodel it?"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Consolation Prize

2nd Place Ribbon

I have been feeling anxious tonight. I reflect on all who grieve, all who remember, and all who struggle to keep their lives moving forward.

This journey can be so painstakingly slow, and oh so laborious. I'm not sure if I am making progress, or just biding my time. I suppose anything I experience throughout the day is authentic, and where I need to be, or what I need to experience. In a way I am appreciating how life has kind of slowed down for me.

Still, I am not fully engaging with those around me, yet at the same time I don't feel like I am in hiding. Just taking it slow, and being mindful of my emotions.

I was sharing with someone this weekend that my new home, and anything else positive that seems to come my way, feels like a consolation prize. In a way, I am leading a life I had not anticipated, one that affords me new opportunities, and new relationships. My life feels full, but scattered. Yet as I write this, I begin to question my own statement. Is my life full?

It is definitely not the life I wanted, but not necessarily a bad life. I suppose it is really just an alternative life. One that I must live until I can better define what I want. I'm a realist, so I know that I need to work with what I have. I need to be willing to see positives, and move toward them. I need to seek joy, and open myself up to opportunity.

So what if it is a consolation prize of a life. Is that so bad? Can I find a way to embrace the good fortune that I am afforded as I continue on my own life journey?

I think I am setting myself up for a quieter version of my life. It works. It isn't terribly exciting, yet I'm not expecting much right now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Zen New Year

Croquis 1

Happy New Year to each of you.

I just got home from a New Years evening out. It wasn't the traditional way of celebrating, but it was great. I went to an evening of yoga. We gathered at 10pm, and were guided through two hours of quiet, and slow moving, yoga. The evening culminated in savasana pose at midnight, which was signaled by the three rings of the bell. We shared an appreciation to each other, and bowed in our communal response of Namaste.

Afterward we open sparkling cider, champagne, and treats to eat. We sat, we spoke, we touched. We laughed, we shared, we confirmed each other's presence.

I came home feeling peaceful. I came home feeling connected.

Someone asked where I have been. My absence from our class had been noticed. I was encouraged to return. Maybe it's time to come out of hiding. Maybe it's time to rejoin the world. Maybe my self imposed hibernation is over.