Friday, September 23, 2011

Back To School Night

Back to School night

Okay, so I haven't felt much like blogging lately, and I'm really trying to rely on the support of folks at the office these days. Anyway, yesterday I have a bit of a tragic evening, that I now realize that other widowed parents might appreciate the opportunity to see their reflection here today.

Now when I say tragic, I have to tell myself that it wasn't all that bad, but perhaps a vulnerable evening. Anyway, it was back to school night at my son Remy's school. I wasn't really wanting to attend, yet if I did'nt I'd spend the rest of the school year feeling like a lazy shitty parent. Times in the past always felt horrible, so I just should have given myself a break, and not attended.

I attend not just out of guilt, but because my son has so many special needs, all of which are significantly more apparent this school year. He is now in 8th grade, but being in the 4th percentile for his size, often gets mistaken for a 5th grader. And since he has many new teachers this year, I needed to know what they expected out of him, and to allow them to meet me, as we will definitely be conversing through email a lot this year.

My son has multiple diagnoses. He has ADHD, a mood disorder, and a behavioral tic disorder. The tic disorder has been there for awhile, but mostly went unnoticed by most people in the past. It is similar to Tourettes, only there are only physical tics, minus the verbal ones. Unfortunately the tics increase dramatically during puberty, which is now in full force. My son has very little control when he body decides to jerk to the left or to the right. And when his body is not making uncontrolled movements, he is focused on trying to control them when they do arrive. Throw in the ADHD, and staying focused during class becomes almost impossible.

Anyway, with all this in mind, I attended. Now, during the past few weeks my son has been struggling with one of his new teachers. His resource specialist recommended that we switch him to another teacher, as she seemed to have more experience working with kids like my son, and personality wise, seemed more like better match. This too was another reason to attend.

So we parents are given a copy of our kids' schedules of six periods. We follow along, and go to each class every 15 minutes or so. As I sat in each class, while waiting to the teacher to speak, all the parents were either with their spouses, or openly talking about how their spouse was at home with the kids. I on the other hand, sat there alone, knowing nobody. I began feeling quite sad having to see myself in light of all the other coupled parents.

With each period that I moved through I became more and more sad. It was just another clear reminder of how different my life has become. When each teacher spoke about their expectations for the students I couldn't help but think to myself, my son won't be able to meet that expectation. After having to think about this over and over again, I felt more sad. I realized that not only do I immediately begin thinking these words, but how my son must do the same each day.

By the middle of the schedule of announced periods, I realized that the next period that parents were headed toward classrooms, I didn't have one to go to. My son goes to the resource specialist room during that period, and receives help organizing his work for the day. On the schedule of directions my son gave me about what classroom to attend each period, he had put a question mark next to this one, as he didn't know where to send me. I walked over to the resource specialist's room, but it was dark. Obviously there was no need for her to attend last night, as she doesn't teach classes like the others. Now keep in mind, the specialist is the most wonderful teacher I know. She has been a god-send for my son, so I have no ill feelings about her not being present last night. But what it meant was that I had no where to be, and ended up sitting on a bench in the dark, as there were no outdoor lights.

How depressing is that? I sat there wanting to cry as I realized that this is likely what my son feels at times.

The last class I attended was the one my son was recently transferred to. The very nice teacher began sharing with all the parents about how wonderful their children were, and gave an example of how caring they are. She was telling them about a recent student transferring into the classroom, and how all the kids were very welcoming, and wanted to know all about him. The teacher wondered out loud if this student's parents were in the room, and as I, and all the other parents began looking around the room I realized that the parents she was referring to was me.

No, there are not two parents, just one. I began to realize that she has no idea that Remy's other parent died. Something I need to address I suppose.

Well, let me tell you, by the time it was the hour to go home, and I found myself walking back to my car alone in the dark, crying. As I got into the car, and began driving away I wondered, who am I crying for? Me, or Remy?

It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself. All the more sad to feel sorry for your baby.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Yes, last year brought an unexpected visitor. He arrived growling, showing his teeth, and was host to several hundred lovely fleas. He was cautious, and didn't know whether to be grateful for the place to lay his head for the night, or to just bite the hand who was trying to feed him.

He arrived at a time when I was quite low. He arrived at a time when I welcomed the distraction. He arrived in perfect timing, and never side.

This dog loves me. I don't just mean that he loves me, I mean he loves the hell out of me. I think he misunderstood my intentions. I was just trying to help out a little guy who was down on his luck. My intentions were purely platonic, yet he fell for me head over heels, or should I say paws.

He has given me a year of dedicated love and affection. He has given me many a day of serious frustration. (He is quite the barker) He is my constant companion, whether I like it or not.

For better, for worse, in sickness...Whoa. Wait a minute, now I'm getting carried away. What has he done to my mind? When Michael said he wanted me to love again, I don't think he meant in a canine sort of way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Humble Growth

Calm from the storm. It always happens. And, that is what I experienced today. It's been a heavy few days, or more like a week. Yesterday I was overwhelmed by all the support I received, and then today came around, and I was met with even more.

I can't go through such a time without counting my blessings. Yes, even me, that guy who is so angry at God, can count his blessings, and acknowledge that I really don't have a clue why all of life's ups and down occur, yet they do. Of course when we are down we have a tendency to take it personally, how could we not? And when we are up, well, I'm not exactly up yet, but I have been lifted higher by all of your support than where I would be today without it. Now that was a long sentence!

Today I couldn't help but notice how different I felt on this day, this year, as opposed to last. Part of me doesn't exactly remember how connected I was feeling to the outside world a year ago today, as my existence was a bit different at the time. I wasn't working, and I had only been in San Diego a few short months, so I was feeling a bit disconnected from the world at large. This year, my circle of widowed friends has grown. Those that have been with me from the beginning are still there. This year I saw old friends and family members reaching out to me. This year I have a whole network of new friends here in San Diego, that took the time to figuratively stand beside me, and check on me throughout the day.

Did I not have all this last year? Likely I did. I'm finding that with each day that passes, my ability to acknowledge my needs, and to ask for support, is growing. This is definitely not where I was last year, so in spite of the painful days that led up to all this support, it was definitely worth the lesson learned.

Humbly, I thank each of you, my community, for helping me to grow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Breathe Me

The stolen kiss

I remember this night well.

Holding him.

Reassuring him of my love.

Making sure he was not in pain.

Kissing him.

Telling him how much I loved him.

Not allowing myself to sleep.

Not allowing myself to turn my focus off him for one second.

Knowing it was a matter of hours.

Loving him.

Loving him.

Loving him.

It went this way throughout the night. Remy laid there next to me. Michael to my right, Remy holding on to me to my left. 3am arrived, and it was announced by Michael significant change in breathing. It was so strong that Remy woke from his sleep, and was crying in fear. I told him to go sleep with his sister. I went to awake Michael's mother. I told her the time was coming soon.

Barbara and I cradled him between us. She laying at his side. I holding his face in my hands. For hours, I sat there staring into his face. This went on for another few hours. 6am arrived with another undeniable change in his breathing. I woke Barbara up, and told her he would be leaving us soon. We held him tight. I told him that we would be fine, and again told him that I loved him over and over again.

6:05 am, those last breaths arrived, I pressed my mouth to his. I wasn't going to allow those last breaths of his air to float into the air around me. What if his soul left his body through his breath? This was the last piece of Michael, his spirit, to be present with me in this world.

My mouth to his. His final breath arrived. With a deep breath in, his last breath entered my body. I didn't breath for that moment. I wanted each of those molecules to find a permanent resting place within me. Once I felt sure of this, I breathed for the two of us for the first time.

I was alone. He was gone.

Somehow I ended upstairs on the kitchen floor, and the world, all matter and space came crashing down. The walls shook, and the animal within me howled. I awoke the whole household. My kids came running toward me, and we all laid there on the floor together, without him.

Somehow there is beauty in all this pain. I don't want to ever forget those moments. I know that are only but a few brief moments in the life that I have lived thus far, but they are moments that define my existence today.

I lived a life for so long into my adulthood not knowing that which I was missing out on. Then I met Michael, and I knew that my life would never be the same.

I knew love. I knew the power of love. I knew the honor of loving a man with passion and desire. I knew the honor of caring for a man who needed me, and fighting with all my might to keep him alive. I knew the honor of keeping a man focused on the joy of life in the midst of hardship. And I knew the honor of walking with a man toward his death, with peace, love and dignity.

I bathed him. I dressed him. I held him. And, waited.

soft glow

Today many of you honored me with your presence and support. I love you all dearly for that. Michael loves you all dearly for that. I know in my heart that he doesn't want to ever think of me as being completely alone. Each of you carry out his desire to be there for me.

I thank you. He thanks you.

Sending out an SOS

I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do. But I'm falling apart here at work. I need to express myself without speaking, as I am unable to speak without tears. Heavy tears.

I came into work today expecting it to be like any other day. I am a family court counselor, and I meet with parents to help them reach agreements regarding the custody of their children. Sometimes they reach agreement, other times I utilize my skills as a counselor to give recommendations back to the court.

Today an odd case was assigned to me, and it arrive late, without adequate time to prepare. There was no father and mother sitting before me. The two parties were the mother and paternal grandmother, as the father died last year. We were discussing issues regarding a 12 year old son. I tried my best to work with these two parties, and needed to take a break to get some supervision around some of the goals of our session. In discussing these, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into my own issues and grief. I let my supervisor know that I need to maintain some distance, and be aware of any counter transference that might be occurring. As I began to explain this, all I had to say was that tomorrow is the anniversary of my husband's death, and the dam I had built began to break.

With those words, I fell apart. Sobbing.

This has never happened to me before. I have always been able to be in complete control at work. I am the ultimate professional when it comes to utilizing the skills and experience I have attained throughout the years. My supervisor was wonderful, immediately taking the case from me, and telling me not to give it a second thought, that she would take care of this. She suggested I take a break, yet I can't wander far, as I am on-call to testify in court any minute. So here I sat, at my desk, knowing that rather than let go, and get out what I need to emotionally, I needed to pull myself together, and find another way to deal with this.

I'm having my own issues with my 13 year old son. He is going through a difficult time, and I am having a difficult time adequately addressing his issues, as we are both continuing to grieve. Unfortunately, each of our grieving process is not always going to end each day with a sense of growth, peace, or resolve. It is going to be a very long process, and I, as the now only parent once again, will need to rise to each occasion knowing that I am still quite broken, and ill prepared for what life throws at me.

That's it. I need to get through the day. I need to get through tomorrow. I also need to learn that I am human. Even now, as I sit here, I am beating myself up about losing control of my emotions. I am judging myself because of breaking down here at work. I am worrying about how this family is being served, knowing that I was already told not to worry about it. This is definitely something new to work through.

So while this is not something I usually do, I need to put this out there at a time when I usually focus solely on work. This is my outlet right now. All I need to know is that someone is reading this, and you understand. Thanks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Doubled Over

Crying Man

It feels like day one. It hit me as I turned out the lights tonight. I feel so alone in my pain. Why does it still hurt so much?

I feel desperate, like I have a hunger, but nothing to feed me. I need something to hold onto, but what?

I looked around the room, tried to think of something of his, something that will soothe me. Nothing will. Why even try?

I need to see his smile. I need to feel his embrace. Why is this happening all over again?

There's nothing to hold onto. No one to turn to. Nothing that can take the place of what I need. Him.

It feels so unfair. I still don't understand why this had to happen. Why him? He was such a sweet and loving man. He gave me so much. I loved him so much.

I don't want to sleep. I don't want to feel this. I don't want to feel anything any more. Something needs to happen to distract me. Something needs to pull me back out from this abyss. I can't help but feel like I'm being punished. But for what? Why was my happiness cut short, yet others get to live out their happiness year after year? Why must I have to be witness to what others are given, and somehow feel gratitude for what I had?

Fair? Why do others always thank God for what they have? Why do they thank God for all the blessings bestowed upon them? Why do they feel like they are being rewarded for something they have done? What the fuck did I do wrong? If they get to sit and praise God for all their blessings, then what the hell am I supposed to be saying to God at this moment?

Where is all this anger coming from? I wish I knew what lies on the other side. I wish I truly knew if there was another side. Where did Michael go? If he went somewhere else, does he even remember me? He often said he would miss me after he died.

Do you miss me Michael?

Do you know that I am still here?

Are you crying with me? Or are you in bliss?

I wouldn't want to you feel this. I wouldn't want you to worry. I wouldn't want you to be anything but happy. Look into my heart and feel my love. You don't have to take care of me. I'll be just fine. You know I will.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


XVI ~~ fatigue

What to do when too restless to sleep.

I'm back to that old pattern of staying up far too late at night. I'm not really doing much other than stare at this damn computer screen. I'm not sure what I'm trying to find, or what I'm wanting to find me. It's just a familiar pattern, one that was a major part of my early grieving process. Of course it's not something that is conducive to being completely productive at work the next day.

This is how that last few nights have been. Then once I do fall asleep I am back awake around 4am each morning. Why? I don't really know.

It was a busy, then emotional day. Nothing seems to satisfy me, and nothing really to hold my interest. Earlier I was laying prone on my bed, feeling too numb to move, then thought for a moment how wonderful it would be if my bed came crashing to the floor. I imagined that I would come crashing down with it, and the force of my fall would cause something to land on my head, and leave me with a huge bump or bruise. I would be in so much physical pain, yet it would feel so real. It would be tangible pain that I could carry with me. I would be able to see it on my face whenever I looked into a mirror. People would stop to ask what the hell happened to me. I would be so preoccupied by the pain, and the visual effects of the fall, that I would lose sight of the fact that I was previously feeling numb, and restless.

I laid there on my bed, waiting for something to happen. The crash never arrived. No physical trauma availed itself to give me some kind of relief from the stalemate that I find myself in. Instead I have been sitting here, for hours, waiting for something to arrive, or something to change.

Nothing. Nothing is happening. Nothing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Talk Talk


So I was having lunch today with friends from work. There's a group of us that try to get out for lunch as often as possible. I really enjoy these outings, as it is always nice to have some adult conversation now and then.

I'm finding that I am far more extroverted than usual when out. I've always been a fairly open book as far as my life goes, but in getting together with friends, I'm finding that I rarely use a filter these days. Sometimes I can go a bit too far in my humor, then step back and wonder why I am doing this. Often times my humor is sexual in nature, which is mostly received with a collective good sense of humor in return. Yet it all makes me wonder why I am doing this?

Which brings me to another topic. Friends reading my blog. I think there is a generalized perspective that bloggers are hungry for attention. That we have a need to share everything with the world, and thus publish our every thought and experience. Of course by nature of this post, I suppose part of that is true. Yet in my defense, I didn't start out with this in mind. At least I didn't consciously have this agenda.

My blogging beginnings were born out of my need to limit the direct responses that Michael and I were having to respond to when he got sick. I began blogging to keep our family and friends up to date regarding his cancer treatment. Along the way I began collecting new friends, who were mostly other caregivers whose loved one also had a brain tumor. Anyway, it was after Michael's death that I realized that I then had a need to blog for myself.

That blog, which is the one you are reading, began on our first wedding anniversary. It was my way of keeping sane during a horrific time when my grief was still so raw. In time the whole experience became such a significant part of who I am. I was suddenly part of a community who spanned throughout the world. I made connections that continue to be significant today.

Anyway, along with these new connections, I had my friends and family, who continued to read my daily writings. At first they would contact me, and give me some feedback about my writings, or offer their support. In time they drifted away, as their lives are just as busy as anyone else's. As I have met new people along the way, they learn that I am a blogger, and often then search out my written words.

It is always a surprising realization for me that someone new has taken the time to read my blog. I used to check to see where my readers were from, which gave me an indication if any locals were checking in. With time I have chosen not to look to deep into these details.

So back to my original discussion. While at lunch today, while joking about something, my friend turned to me to joke about my libido. At first I wasn't sure what she meant, then it suddenly hit me, she had read my blog. I found this quite funny, and loved how she used her humor to share it with me. Yet without skipping a beat, she also shared that she found my words quite sad, and how they brought about tears. We discussed this briefly, and what surprised her most was that my written words were so different than how I was presenting myself to our group.

In thinking about all of this, I have to admit that my interactions during the day are significantly different than how I am once at home. I go from being outgoing and jovial, to being quiet and reflective. I go from being overtly sexual in my humor to feeling alone and starved. Is it that lack of touch that is coming out in my humor? I suppose. Is it my need for sexual intimacy? Emotional intimacy? Any kind of intimacy? Intimacy with him that I miss?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Well, once again you have a blogger sharing what normal people keep to themselves. You have someone who is talking about subjects that most folks would consider far too revealing. Yet I always come back to the same place. What do I have to lose? Really. I benefit, and others benefit, from my written word. Sometimes it brings up discussions that I would otherwise not have. Keeping all these types of thoughts to myself is far too easy, and only serves to isolate myself further. There are too many of us out here who have suffered a great loss. There are too many of us out here who don't have someone to have these conversations with. So maybe they take the form of sharing too much. Maybe our lack of a significant other at home means that we say things, or express our thoughts and feelings in ways we never would have before.

Maybe we regret that we shared to much. Maybe we have no regrets.

What am I feeling immediately about this?

I think I'll keep it to myself.