Its been a while, yeah? Sorry, I kind of dropped off for a while.

I don’t even remember how long ago…

I’m pulling out my widow card on this one. See? It’s my excuse. Gets me out of many things these days, especially social stuff.

I went and saw the Grandbaby…he’s still an infant and cute as can be. honestly I am looking forward to the 3-9 month stage. That’s when they start getting interesting. Right now he’s adorably cute in that cuddly baby doll sort of way.

Then I took Mom to Sanibel Island way down in South Florida. Theoretically it is an 8 hour drive. Reality is, due to her intense adversity to interstate highways and speeds over 55, it’s more like a 12 hour drive.  The island is nice though. It’s the wrong time of year for the interesting seashells but we got a ton of Calicos, those sort of scallops that are small and all colored purple stripes and stuff. Pretty things.

We ate an amazing meal served by a handsome French waiter named Jean-Claude…fresh caught grouper and scallops, blackened and served on a bed of dirty rice with fresh steam haricots vert…mmmmm

But now, I am exhausted. All that driving…the beach was nice tho. I got some great pictures and was protected one afternoon by a tiny superhero.

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Thinking again

The past several days have been put in the “pretty good not so difficult” file. Himself is always on my mind, constantly, but I have been able to think of him and smile, and do things with friends with (relatively) little sucking up of emotions.

I looked at his closet and dresser yesterday, and decided I am still not ready to empty it out.

Nights still feel a lot like he is gone off on a trip, and will come back. Logic, it hasn’t quite sunk into my heart yet. The bed is a lonely place. In 30 years, I have never gone this long without holding hands or sharing a kiss or a familiar snuggle on the sofa (or more). That hit me last night, sitting on the couch with the dog. The notion that it is entirely possible I may never do those things again is enough to…well…you can imagine. And no, the cat licking my forehead at 3am is not an acceptable substitute.

I have been wonderfully busy during the day, filling my time and turning my brain to simple chores and mindless stuff. I made bowties for a friend’s wedding. And went to the beach twice in a week. I bought hot dogs, played poker, and taught someone how to handle a revolver.

I have not pulled weeds, scooped up dog poop, or scrubbed a toilet.

I am, probably, going to name the dust bunnies. Might as well, they have taken up residence and are soon to develop personalities and free will.

I have learned how to use instagram (roo2toot, if you’re interested).

I have learned how to quit worrying about other people’s feelings and speak my mind. I don’t think I am an ass about it, but if someone asks “Hilton Head or Tybee Island?” the answer is definitive, and not the “Oh I don’t care, you choose!” of 2 years ago. Hilton Head has nicer bathrooms and showers, but Tybee has a much shorter walk from the parking lot to the beach. And I can hover, or just pee in the ocean. Oh come on…don’t lie and tell me you don’t do that. It’s the ocean. Everything that lives there pees in it. However, Hilton Head has nicer places to eat and a really great Goodwill.

Anyway, now that i am a 50 year old widow who might never get a juicy kiss, I am turning into my opinionated Aunt and speaking what I think (politely, I *am* still Presbyterian, after all).

And I think I really miss Himself.

I might even get a tattoo.

Something tasteful tho.

Maybe.

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Navel gazing w/cookies

Do you ever put things on your to-do list just for the satisfaction of crossing them off? I do. Sometimes (like now) when life is both over- and underwhelming at the same time (man, sometimes it’s just too much and not enough ALL AT ONCE!) I will sit down to make out that joyous and comfortable daily list, and put stuff on it like “eat” and “breathe” and “coffee at 2pm”, just to cross them off and feel like something real was accomplished. Try it, it is comforting to make yourself feel like you did something useful.

Breathing is useful. So is eating, and coffee (or caffeinated beverage of choice. So I am addicted. So what. ).

The past few days, or maybe couple of weeks, have really put a hurting on my view of humanity. Oh the stupid! All of it! It makes me crave The Hillbilly Compound and the .45 Henry Big Boy and the targets that explode. They are cathartic.

Now, I am not inclined to make political statements, or any sort of statement beyond my own navel-gazing. It would appear, however, that our culture in all it’s diversity, could stand to do some navel gazing of it’s own, and soon.  We, as a country, are suffering badly from a case of (what Himself called ) The Butthurts.

A symbol has a whole demographic (or maybe several demographics, I haven’t parsed it out to see) wanting to erase History. You can’t erase history. That’s like trying to erase math. Or the sky. I recognize that the Confederate flag has come to symbolize a terrible part of this country’s history for many many people. Keep history alive. It’s important, and we’re supposed to learn from it.

Then there’s the whole bit about Christians Hate Gays. Really? Some do, I know. Many times that is an inflated statement though. Disapproving of a particular behavior isn’t the same thing as hating that person who behaves that way. There are lots of things of which I disapprove. If I made a list, then decided to hate every person who did those things, I’d have no friends. Or family. then I’d have to hate myself. That won’t work.  If I see a person in distress and I am able to help them, I am not going to go down my list to make sure they don’t do those things before I help them, and if I find out afterwards they do some (or even one) of those things, I won’t retract the help. That would be stupid and go contrary to Jesus’s command to love your neighbor as yourself.  I know many people (Christians, in fact!) who believe this way also. I resent the the loud accusations that I hate people because I disapprove of something they do. It makes me want to go to the Hillbilly Compound and shoot exploding targets. Again.

Himself felt the same way. We backed each other up with this when it got hairy out there. I miss my backup. now I want to eat cookies and watch Poldark. Because wow.

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ok fine, if I must.

Sometimes, I am tired. Often, really. I know it is a symptom of Depression but believe me, I know the difference between Depression and depression. I don’t think this is depression. Or Depression. this is overload.

They say, as a new widow, you aren’t supposed to make any major decisions for a year, then they throw 100 major decisions that have to be made NOW at you. HEALTH INSURANCE! INVESTMENTS SO YOU CAN EAT FOR MANY YEARS! PUT EVERYTHING OVER IN YOUR NAME BUT OH YEAH YOU CAN’T RIGHT NOW! ad infinitum. Some days, dusting the bookshelf is a major decision. some days, sorting the laundry is, and you just say “to hell with it” and wash the darks and whites together, hoping that the darks have been washed enough they don’t bleed.  So far they haven’t.

Yesterday #1 came over for a visit. He commented that I had essentially worked full-time, managing the household, kids, Himself’s cabinet business for a while, for the past 29 years. He asked about vacations and I have had an average of 3 days a year, for the last 29 years, of true, no-taking-care-of-anything/one vacation. Trips with family don’t count because, you know how that is. Vacations with family=double the work for the Mom. Himself and I went to the mountains a few years ago and he handled all of it, the planning, food, preparing meals…all of it. No seeing anyone, no obligation vacation. It was the first time I had ever returned from a vacation feeling truly rested and restored.  Mind you, I didn’t mind all those other vacations because I didn’t really think about it. It was what it was.

Now, with Himself out of the picture (physically, anyway), and #4 elsewhere until August, one would think I was Vacationing again..but notsomuch.

Carrying grief is heavy. Fighting those tears behind my eyes that constantly threaten…that’s exhausting. Why don’t I give in and let them flow? That’s even more exhausting.  Having to make major decisions when I am not supposed to, whether they involve money or dust bunnies…oof.

All this is truly something a person can’t understand until they’re in the midst of it, experiencing it for themselves. It isn’t like a romantic break up (I have had those…painful yes. Not so life altering), or being fired (ditto), or a divorce (so I have been told, at least in that the person is still alive). People have said those things to me, “Oh, I know what you’re going through!” and  “My boyfriend dumped me in High school!” and  “I was fired from a job I loved!” and “I was rudely divorced!” I know those things are painful, really I do, and I am sorry they had to endure that. There is no comparison. To try to do that is not only…what’s the word I am looking for…Well, it is pretty  much clueless. Not to mention rather rude. In those things, the person/people is still ALIVE. Himself is GONE. There is NO reconciliation in this lifetime (which, honestly, is the only one I can fully understand right now).  Those attempts at consolation make me tired. They mean well, I understand that. But people, the best thing to say to someone who has lost a beloved (especially if you haven’t ever), is “May I bring you a (tasty and not-very-nutritious food thing)/take you to lunch/take you to the beach (mountains/antique stores/Atlanta/someplace that isn’t screaming of the beloved’s presence)?” or “Would you like to come over and drink wine and watch a movie/sit by the pool/do something girly and mindless?” Those things have happened recently and let me tell you, it is (for me, anyway), PERFECT.

One of the frustrating parts of all this, for me (because I love my lists and time tables), is the complete lack of a time table and schedule. I want to know precisely WHEN the heavy heart will lighten, and when I will quit bursting into tears every time I see his picture, and HOW to go about with the cleaning up of his stuff and WHAT to do when (these) emotional outbreaks happen at awkward moments.

Last Sunday was an emotional day. Especially in the morning. I walked into Sunday school sniffing and wiping my eyes, and the teacher asked if I had a Summer cold. I replied no, that I had a bad case of grief and I needed him to be funny during the lesson (not really hard for him, he’s a funny guy anyway). He said “Oh…uh…” and I apologized, and told him that public grief was deeply uncomfortable. He understood, as replied that his wife was the same way. He was also funny during the lesson, which helped.  That’s the sort of thing I despise dealing with, public displays of emotion. Again I wish for the open and obvious signs of mourning, so people could recognize the situation and feel less awkward about the middle aged lady with the strained look as she tries to hold back the wails in the grocery store check out line.

At least watery eyes and sniffing can be blamed on allergies or a Summer cold. Probably no one is actually fooled by that excuse, but it gives them a way out of the discomfort of trying to be consoling.

Would it be weird to schedule the grief? To say “ok, right before bed (say, 8:00), it is time to sit down with the photo albums and reminisce about the trip/the house we renovated/the putting up of the Christmas tree/that slot car track he loved but the kids ignored…all those everyday things chronicled in photographs, 30 years of life together…would that be healthy? To know *this* is when I can do it and save up the tears and wails for that, so life in The New Normal (yuck. I want the old one back) can develop and move on? It seems so, better than being blindsided or ambushed every 20 minutes by a sock or a book or something. It seems more organized (I do love organization) that way. All the books say each person finds their own way to grieve, which isn’t helpful to me. Or maybe it is. I am not sure.

All I know is that right now it’s kind of full-on. All the signs, the uncontrolled hits in public places, the fatigue and glaring at laundry, the blowing off of normal responsibility (good thing I don’t have a Real Job, right?), and the incredible distaste for anything unusual (even though that’s all I really want, because the Old Normal is is all I REALLY want and it won’t ever be)…yeah, that’s what’s going on. I don’t like it, but maybe eventually I will get used to it. Bleh.

*so. I just googled “how to schedule grief”…do it…you’ll see what I mean.

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The Most Perfect Baby Ever And That’s Not Exaggerating.

My first grandbaby was born a couple of days ago! He is called Burrito, or Jellybean, or whatever comes to mind at the moment. He looks like the love child of a Cabbage Patch Kid and a peach, and surely a more adorable baby was never born.

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See?  

See?

Image result for peach

Amirite? Yes I am.

It is a bittersweet thing, really. I am so incredibly proud of #3 and The Wife, they are doing amazingly well. He is nervous at a cat with 5 tails in a door factory, and she is as calm as it gets. Himself isn’t here, not in person anyway. Everyone keeps telling me he is here is spirit, and I understand they are trying to comfort me and all. He isn’t here in the flesh, though. I am not bickering with him about who gets to hold the Burrito, or which family he favors the most. Burrito has Himself’s family chin, for sure, and The Wife’s round face and beautiful complexion. He also has one ear that looks like her family’s, and one like Himself’s, and my family’s unfortunate duck-like flat feet. Maybe he’ll grow out of those. The 2 different ears is kind of funny. They aren’t strange and drastically different, but one is shaped different from the other, and slightly larger.  Of course, all that said he will end up looking like his own little self, and that’s just fine.

I cried off and on during the drive up here, alternating between angry at Himself for not being here, and missing him terribly during this oh so precious event.  It was kind of hard to keep it reined in while #3 was pacing around and worrying, but I managed ok. The last thing he needed while his wife was working so hard, was to worry about his mother’s dewicate feewings.  But good lord, I missed Himself.

They came home from the hospital yesterday, and got nicely settled in. #3 returned to work today, and I have been on call for The Wife.  There is a delicate balance between being available and pushy. I don’t want to be one of those mothers-in-law who shoves into their life and tells them everything they’re doing wrong, nor do I want to be so detached that they feel like they’re an inconvenience if they need me for something.  Since my home is 4 hours away, it will be hard to be much involved at all, but plans have been made to be here (I am here right now, not at home) monthly. Her family lives here, so they will be better able to help for now.

Anyway, I have a new title to go along with Mom and The Widow Toot How Tragic.  Grandma! (Or whatever he winds up calling me as long as it isn’t Meemee or Mamaw or Meemaw or NeeNee or Nana. One of the Great grands is a Meemaw and the other Grand is a Neenee). I like the way it feels.

Mom said a few days ago that she was perfectly fine with being a great-grandmother, but the idea that I, her daughter, is a grandmother wasn’t really setting too well.

Anyway, Himself is badly missed right now.

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and there it is

All along, the past 3.5 months, I have been wondering if I was Doing It Right. I was too at ease with all this mess. No, I wasn’t HAPPY Himself was gone, and I missed him very much, but reading about widows curling up in balls and not moving for a week, that sort of thing…I didn’t get it.  Where was the overwhelming sorrow? I kept thinking about how disappointed Himself would be that I wasn’t incapacitated once in a while. This whole ability to compartmentalize my grief and save it for the evenings, something seemed odd about that.

Now? I would definitely love to curl into a ball and close the curtains. Dressing in black seems VERY appropriate and not just as a fashion statement. Sorrow is…well…There it is. Wow. It is really intense. Like, burst into tears at the least convenient moment, the moments that make strangers very uncomfortable…in the line at the grocery store, while discussing daylilies with the neighbors, stuff like that. boom, there it is.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not despair. Let me be very clear on that. While I would dearly love to be in the same place he is, at this moment that is not God’s plan and I am ok with that. What IS happening, is that I miss him terribly. I think what has happened in my brain is that I have gone from the “ok, this is so new I can pretend it is temporary and himself is off on an extended trip or something” to the “Ok, this is NOT temporary and Himself is permanently gone and I will never see him again in this lifetime, which for me could very well be another 50 years and that is a very long time.”  yes, I have told myself over and over that in the grand scheme of Eternity, 50 years isn’t very long. however, in the not-so-grand scheme of a linear life which is the only thing I really comprehend right now, 50 years is a VERY long time and I deeply resent God for making me live it without my best friend of all time.

There. I said it. yes, God’s plan is God’s plan and I can’t change it. Yes, He had this all planned out for some reason I can’t imagine and will eventually use me somehow, including the stuff I am having to deal with…the sorrow, loss, learning to fend for myself, all that. He has always taken the crap I have had to deal with and used it for a good thing. I can look back and see that. Right now, I cannot see what/how He is going to use this crap. And yes, that is how I see it right now. It’s ugly, I hate it, I resent Him for putting me through this, but it is also kind of like a miserable surgery that the recovery from is long and lots of painful physical (spiritual in this case) therapy is needed to make it worthwhile. I get that. But I also am having a pissy filled temper tantrum about it and that Himself isn’t here to pat me on the back and remind me that it will all turn out well in the end…that makes me very, very sad.

I WANT MY HUSBAND BACK.

I have read and heard about how dogs are empathetic. It has been kind of sweet, whenever I start bawling, they come up and get in my lap. One of them is too stupid to recognize what’s going on, the the other 3 pile on and snuggle up close. Even the cats get in on the love-fest.

A big part of this hurt is for our sons. They have their own way of hurting and, as a mom, I want to take it from them. I know I can’t and it wouldn’t be right for me to. They are all having to do some serious maturing through it.  Each one of them, I can see it, is taking something from this experience and using it for motivation. #1 is writing, #2 is kicking Differential Equations in the butt, #3 is entering fatherhood, and #4 is looking at morality with Himself’s strong center.  I love the way I can see a piece of Himself in each son. #1 has his love of literature and philosophy, #2 has his logic and maths, #3…love of outdoors, and #4 his strong sense of right and wrong. I can feel Himself’s presence in each one and that is comforting beyond words.

But this sorrow, this current intensity of loss, the childish resentment of having Himself snatched away with no sort of warning or ability to prepare…wow this is really hard. I get it now and in a way am thankful for that, because NOW I am Doing It Right. NOW grief is real and immense and frightening. I can do this wholly.

I am not thankful for it. except that I am. Now I understand the absolute pain of loss. It isn’t shocking anymore, but it is almost absolute.  It isn’t depression, or despair, or something that requires medication. It is being removed from everything that is comfortable and familiar and being set down in a world that looks almost exactly the same as the old one, except that it’s not, and I can’t do anything about it except get used to the new one.

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Sometimes I think too much.

It’s kind of like wandering through the unfamiliar forest. I grew up with a 2000 acre forest/river/marsh/meadows behind the house, and many, many days were spent wandering through them. They were very familiar and comfortable. An unfamiliar one, however lovely the small bits can be, the little patch of partridge berry or monkey jugs, can be…more than that….IS very daunting, especially if you don’t know how to navigate through them. Oh, if there is a creek to follow, that’s pretty easy, but without a familiar sort of guide like that, they can be pretty ominous. They can be dark and heavy, with pitfalls hidden by piles of leaves, and strange animal sounds, snakes, poisonous plants, spiders, all sorts of things that if you don’t know what to look or listen for, can make you want to sit down and go no further….simply hide and hope for the best.

I go through spells like that. This whole new life can be many things, particularly an unfamiliar territory, sometimes dark and often heavy, with many pitfalls and strange sounds, snakes in the form of thoughts, spiders shaped like letters in the mailbox, unknown and I sure would like to simply throw it all away without even opening it. What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right? Ha….if only.

It would be so easy to sit down and hide, to pretend like it’s all some sort of Pick-On-Rootie scheme that will go away on it’s own.  Even now, 3-1/3 months later, it still feels unreal, like a dream or a strange very realistic part in a movie and someone is going to yell ‘CUT!’ and the world can return to normal. At night, when I go to bed, it feels unreal. In the morning, when Himself would be showering for work, I still want to fix 2 cups of coffee and decide if he’d rather have oatmeal or a sandwich for breakfast.  His truck is still in the driveway, his clothes are still in the closet, little pieces of what’s supposed to reality still lay around. I don’t know if it’s me, holding on to it in the futile hope that the REAL reality will return, or if I’m just too tired of this new reality to do something about all of it.  I don’t know how long it will take for WHAT IS to supersede what I want.

Have you ever watched a wound heal? Have you noticed that it doesn’t heal from the middle to the edge? It starts around the edges, and gradually creeps inward, and can be pretty sensitive while it does. Especially a really large one. It also leaves a pretty big scar, one that is quite evident for a very long time. This is like that. Gradually, around the edges, I am taking care of things. Small ones, and very slowly, as much as I can without rushing it. It isn’t going as fast as part of my brain wants it to, but that is the part that has always gotten me into trouble. That part is having to sit in time out, with no snacks. And it is definitely pouting, but too bad.

The thing is, I am supposed to be working on this small book about How To Widow or something (that is very much a working title…something better will come up eventually) and naturally, it will take a long time because I can only write up to the 3 month mark. However, I am not really sure how well that is going to go right now. Every time I sit down, the whole entire thing is relived, from the moment I returned his call and he said he was on the way to the hospital, through all of it to today, when I woke up feeling like I was an actor in a bad movie.  Due to that, the writing is going slowly and painfully. I am not even sure it’s time to be doing this, which is annoying because #4 will be gone for the bulk of the Summer and there will be all sorts of time available.

One friend recommended that this time be used to heal, that I not worry about things like jobs or educations, because healing is pretty important. She is probably right. Another friend commented that I seem to be finding my own voice, and suggested that time this Summer be spent figuring out what i sound like, that perhaps the Summer is a gift for that purpose. Maybe it all is, a chance to heal and find myself. That sounds so self indulgent, and that is the biggest hurdle. How do you heal when healing seems to be a waste of time? How do you find a voice that has never really been sung? I don’t even know where to start.

I really feel a bit like I am sitting in that unfamiliar forest, with interesting bits and pitfalls and strange animal sounds. I can hear the creek, but am not really sure which direction to find it. I know I am not alone, but this is work that I need to do, someone else can’t do it for me. It is entirely new…in a direction I never once considered I would have to go. Maybe the thing to do is think of the Right Now, and sit, listening for the creek, looking at the partridge berry and monkey jugs, and poking a stick around to check for hidden pitfalls. Maybe instead of writing a book I will paint a room. That’s simple enough. Fairly satisfying, too. Maybe I’ll just look at today, or this week, and let tomorrow, and next week, take care of itself.

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