This week, two separate friends asked me if I had plans for Christmas. The first friend invited me over to spend time with her family on Christmas. The second said she would call me because she might be alone too (I guess I am her backup plan). Now, you might think that this is a nice gesture, but this actually had me feeling more down and lonely than ever. These friends have made no attempts to connect with me in months and I should be happy that they want to spend 1 day with me, now. No way! I deserve and need more. I am a widow with no children and most of my family living out of state; essentially all alone. And like a lot of widows, I am struggling to find friends or people who actually want to spend time with me more than just 1 day a year. I am lonely and missing my beloved Jesse each and every day, so why should Christmas be any different? I need my friends every day and especially on weekends when I miss Jesse the most. Why do they not want to spend time with me any of the other 51 Saturdays during this last year? In all fairness, both spent time with me during this last summer, but I still feel hurt after months of nothing. Many weekends this last year, I have been all alone, with no one to touch base with me at all. It’s the worst and most lonely I have felt in my life. Not only is my husband gone, but most of my friends are too just adding to the sadness, loss, and loneliness.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
On the First Sadiversary (anniversary of Jesse’s death), my sister and I went to the Subway in Lincoln City, Oregon for lunch. There it was at the soda fountain staring at me…..Cherry Coke. I had successfully managed to avoid CC for an entire year and now it was calling to me on this most auspicious day. My gut told me that yes; I should drink some CC in honor of my Jesse as this was the anniversary of his death. So yes for the first time in a year in indulged and enjoyed a Cherry Coke. You see I have some challenging memories of sharing CC with Jesse during his last days here on earth and even shared some with him on his very last day. So it is painful for me to even think about CC at times. I remember that first time that he asked me for a taste; him wanting to taste something other than the boring, bland ice chips which was all he was allowed. I dipped my finger in the CC and put some on his lips and as he tasted it, his face registered pure joy. I gave him tiny sips of the contraband liquid and he basked in the joy of the flavor. We had shared many a Cherry Coke in wellness, but this was our first in illness as he lost his ability to swallow safely early in the battle. And on his final day, when I told him I was going to the cafeteria to get something for lunch, he mumbled in his weakened voice “Cherry Coke”. I understood what he wanted and we both knew this was to be his last sip of ecstasy that he would ever enjoy. His nurse was none too happy scolding me and telling me that giving him fluids could prolong his death. I told her I was not going to withhold one last little bit of pleasure from my dying husband. I helped him take 3 tiny sips, all his strength would allow him; the last Cherry Coke I shared with my Jesse, 11/9/09.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
When I think about this time of year and the opportunity it gives us to reflect on what we are thankful for, my first instinct is to just say “Nothing. My life sucks and there is nothing to be thankful for.” But then I think that is just me wanting to have my “poor me” attitude. The truth is I have much to be thankful for and at the same time I have much to be sorrowful about as well. My heart is broken and I am incredibly sad over losing my Jesse. Yes, even though a year has passed my heart still aches for him and the life that we had and lost. For now, that sorrow overshadows the gratefulness, yet it is good for me to acknowledge that I do have much to be thankful for. First and foremost I am thankful to be healthy. Second, I am thankful to have my job and career. Many of you don’t know this, but I almost lost my job over Jesse’s illness. My FMLA had run out and I could not return to work with him being so ill. The week Jesse died; I was scheduled to lose my budgeted position and to be reclassified as “On-Call”. My great bosses and the good company that I work for decided to hold my position for me until I could return to work last December. Work has been both a blessing and a challenge at the same time. It was good to get back to a routine and be around friends who care about me, but also challenging to work in healthcare and around people who have no idea what a real health tragedy looks like. I am also thankful to have our home. And whatever happens with Jesse’s estate, I will find a way to keep it. The fond memories and the opportunity to garden have kept me going. I am very thankful for my sister, Patti, and the closeness that we share. We are soul sisters and best friends and I have really come to realize during this past year how meaningful our relationship is to me. She is one of the very few who has been consistently there for me during this horrible journey. I am also thankful to have a wonderful therapist who really understands me and keeps gently nudging me to live my life for me; to truly be there for myself and not rely on others for affirmation that I am a good, lovable person. It has always been a challenge for me to value myself outside of others and an even bigger challenge this year as people have faded out of my life and not been there for me during the worst of times. His consistent reminders of my worth and attacks to my core beliefs, which are lies, continues to support me to grow into the person I want to be. I am also thankful to have at least a couple of friends that I can call who will listen to me cry. And I am thankful to have a new friend who has already been there for me in an incredibly big way; like none who have known me for years. I am extremely thankful to have found and connected with other young widows and widowers, both virtually and in person. We are brothers and sisters on this heart-wrenching journey and really can support each other with a deep understanding of this loss. And lastly, I am thankful for Jesse’s dad, Bob or Pops as I call him. I am very thankful that he is living in a retirement community where he is getting the extra help that I cannot provide as this has enriched our relationship so much. Pops has been an inspiration and given my life some meaning and purpose during this past year. I feel grateful and honored to look after this sweet, gentle old man in the twilight of his life.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
This past summer my sister was visiting and somehow we got on the subject of home maintenance. My sis has this theory that our dad failed us because he never taught us any of this stuff and here we both are (her single and me widowed) trying to figure out how to maintain a home. So she tells me that you are supposed to change the furnace filter every 3 months. I almost gasp. My husband has been dead for 8 months and he was sick for 7 months prior to that, so there is a very strong possibility that the furnace filter has not been changed in a long time, because I have never done it. I don’t exactly feel compelled to jump right on this task, but when Fall approaches, I decide I really should address this challenge. I go down into the basement and try to remember (thankfully my husband showed me once) how to access the filter. The filter is very stubborn and does not seem to want to come out, but I finally wrestle it out and can see right away what the problem is. There is almost 5 inches thick (OK that’s an exaggeration, maybe 2 inches) of cat fur caked onto the filter; definitely enough black Shadow fur to make a decent pair of kitten britches. I write down the size of the filter so that I can purchase the correct size then I notice that there is a piece of duct tape on the furnace and written on it, in my husband’s writing, is the date that the filter was last changed and the date that the next filter should be put in. These dates are 6/8/08 & 9/8/08….Yikes! It very well could have been 2 years since the filter was changed. No wonder there was so much fur. I put in the new filter and now all is well in that department. I will do my best to stay on track with the 3 month rule.
About a month ago, I was getting my morning going, standing in my kitchen getting ready to make my coffee. I looked out on my backyard and I see what appears to be a dead critter on the edge of one of my flower beds. I gingerly tip toe out there to find out that it is a dead baby possum. Under my breath I curse my husband as he is not here to dispose of this dead creature. That’s his job! So I go into work and since I am really bad at asking for help, I just sort of hint around to people asking them if they would like to come over and help me out. One coworker tells me she would just get her husband to do it and them immediately realizes that is not a very sensitive thing to say to a widow and apologizes. One of the guys offers up a plan. He says Step 1. Drink 2 beers, Step 2. Get a rag and cover the dead possum with the rag so you don’t have to look at it, Step 3. Get a shovel and a rake and gently slide the possum into the shovel being careful not to flip it over so that you see it, Step 4. Dump it in the garbage. So I start contemplating this plan. Can I do this? One of my girlfriends does offer to come over and dispose of it, but she wants to come later in the evening when it is dark. I’m not too keen on this idea, so the next morning, I put the plan into motion by going directly to step 2. I don’t like beer and I’m not about to drink 2 at 9:00 in the morning. Operation possum disposal was a success! I really can do it!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
So, I thought I would start my blog with an explanation of my blog name. My deceased husband used to like to call me Princess ________ Girl. When I was gardening it was Princess Garden Girl, when I was stamping, I am a rubber stamping addict, it was Princess Stamper Girl, etc. It started out with a book called Princess Smartypants that a close friend shared with me after my then new boyfriend started calling himself a frog. After I shared the book with him, he was calling me Princess Smartypants and then it evolved from there. I thought it only fitting that my blog should continue along these lines. I can almost imagine him looking down from above cheering me on as I try to figure out this journey without him.