We all have vices. Things we turn to when angered, anxious, grief stricken, strung out. The word 'vice' however carries a negative connotation. It indicates something almost villainous or immoral may be occurring.
I however look at my vices as coping mechanisms. As long as it doesn't bankrupt me or put me in harms-way I believe buying extra shoes and occasionally indulging in something unhealthy is ok. Some people turn to exercise, cigarettes, food, drugs and alcohol, gambling, meditation, self-deprecation, humor, risk taking behaviors. The lists go on and on.
Someone asked me recently how did you cope with the death of your husband? (Almost as if the coping was over) She knew me well and said, "Did you just buy a lot of shoes?" Some days yes I did buy an extra pair of shoes, some days I felt the need to hit South Park. I engaged in drinking in excess on occasion, I walked on my treadmill until my feet were screaming in agony, I did in fact scream in the confines of my car. I ate cake. I did in fact cry a lot. The point is I wish I could give you a roadmap to manage your grief and inner turmoil that you might be facing but I can't.
Grief, along with so many other life challenges, are individual processes and processes that will never necessarily end. Last week after a particularly long day of stress and demands at work, followed by nightly sports activities and a late dinner followed by an even later bedtime I was feeling overwhelmed and down. I knew what I needed. I quickly changed into my work out clothes and hit the treadmill at 8:30 pm. I walked several miles at a neck breaking pace and I sobbed hysterically through about two and a half of them. I had to get those miles in and all but being dragged off that thing was going to stop me from hitting that mark. The tears rolled, I stumbled, my vision blurred but I kept going.
Sometimes you just need a release, emotional and physical. The combination of sobbing and exercising brought the stress, the grief, the anger, to the surface but then it was gone, it was out and I knew I would get up the next day feeling lighter and ready to take on the next challenge.
I can tell you two years later I'm in a better place mentally, physically and emotionally but there are still days the breath is stolen from me. Still days I want to crawl in a hole and be swallowed up. The injustice never leaves me. The battles I am fighting for my kids once again on the ball fields. The looks of disdain as I drop my five year old off alone at a birthday party. The looks of ignorance and judgement as if I ran their dad off. If it weren’t embarrassing to the boys I swear I would tattoo WIDOW across my forehead. In the end we all have vices. We all have those things that help us get through the day, get through the anger, the anxiety, the depression. Some could say I have an addiction to shoes but I don’t believe that addiction should be bothering anyone else.
I’ve come to realize through a lot of pain that my opinion at this time really is the only one that matters. The stares, the judgement, the ineptness of others, the ignorance- It is all simply noise. Find your vices. Find confidence. Recognize that you can cope. Use them and rise above the noise.
What were you doing 2 years ago? Do you remember? Seven hundred and thirty days. Two full years. Unbelievable. It can still make me drop every expletive in the book or drown a bottle of wine quicker than you'd imagine someone would have the ability to do so. I know how it feels to rather be numb than continue to breathe. I know what it’s like to have to listen to the incessant bitching about how unworthy people's spouses are and watch them take each other for granted all the while feeling the injustice of the situation.
I would give a limb to hear you complain about my choice of music in the car. I’d love to go on one more wild car ride with you. I promise I wouldn’t criticize you about the crazy way you were riding people’s bumpers. I’d even agree to watch the History channel and learn about topics that are beyond my intelligence level simply to be with you. Listening to you strum your guitar or belting out Big Shot; that's what my dreams are made of.
Honestly Daniel, it seems like years ago that we rode the elevator up into that chemotherapy office together and started the hell that ended up taking you down. Seven hundred and thirty days ago. I remember your mood, the smells, how hot the office was, how petrified I was, what played on the television in the waiting room, the other people sitting in the huge gaudy bluish chairs. I remember that sleeping lady we murmured about. The male receptionist that stared through us. I know what movie you watched to pass the time. I know when you pretended to rest. I remember what you ate. I remember the nurses and how the change in chemicals felt from your perspective. I remember your laugh as we carried on in our usual mischievous way.
You would have been so proud of us today. You would have loved the day the three of us shared in your honor, even when my first set of purchased balloons, bag and all, got stuck in the trees because I didn’t tie them off properly. Instead of being pissed, I simply smiled. You would say that everything does not need to be planned and to chill. I was listening today. They were just balloons.
We hope you reached out and grabbed our second set, Mickey from Reed and Spider Man from Lucas. I hope you listened to our songs and watched us dance and grabbed our hands and were right there with us. I hope you heard Lucas ask me to send you a cupcake and how I convinced him you would enjoy ours through us. I know you heard Reed's pleas to come home and see him today. We missed you.
Our wedding day, Cabo Wabo, the birth of our children, No pressure- no problem, Melanoma, the day Petey died- seven hundred and thirty days ago, your 33rd birthday joined this group of "forever days" that began the process of burning and branding me a different person than the woman you married.
Today however wasn’t about your absence. Today was simply about celebrating you and celebrating our family. If I could go back I would have held your hand more. I would have backed off on all the things that simply aren’t important and I would have celebrated US more. It’s so easy to look back and say coulda, woulda, shoulda, but to those reading this, I would tell you to do. You must take the steps and do. What will your life look like in the next seven hundred and thirty? I can assure you I never imagined in my scariest dreams that I would be sitting here, widowed with two kids under five. Tell those important to you that you love them.
Today Daniel, the day was for you. A day full of your favorite things. A day dedicated to you. Thank you for the strength. I know you see me fighting every single day and I know you are seeing the progress.
Hard to believe we are on thirty five. Happy Birthday Daniel.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.