We got our decorations out this weekend. The excitement Christmas time brings has always been a favorite for me. I get wrapped up in the present buying, decorating and visits with Santa. I was definitely missing Daniel. Missing his banter, his partnership and let me be honest, his muscles to help unload and drag things like ladders around the front yard and front trees. The weather was beautiful this afternoon so I started with the outside. I mowed first (something he would have done) and then began hauling it out box by box. This is one of the times I appreciate my own obsessive compulsiveness as everything had its place and was labeled correctly.
I am a sale stalker. I buy more Christmas decor each year after Christmas has passed than prior to. Daniel used to shake his head at all our stuff but I know he really quietly liked it too. This year I had new additions such as reindeer for the yard that lit up and moved (last years clearance in January) and silver and teal ornaments for our outside trees. I think I did all right. It made the boys happy which brought a smile to my face. I left the timers as they were set by Daniel last year and moved on to the inside.
The amount of décor we have is pretty ridiculous but I do love it. I got the tree out of the box and immediately thought it was too small for our living room. This is our third Christmas in this house and I have always thought the same thing, but always battle with spending money on a new one. What do I do at 6pm that night? The boys and I go out for an adventure to in search of a new one. Two stores later we find one on sale, quickly buy it and zoom back home. I've never had a pre-lit tree before, that might tell you a little bit about the age of the current one.
A tree doesn’t necessarily fit in the back of my small SUV so after moving some car seats, getting stares from bystanders in the parking lot, I finally shoved it in and off we went. Lucas made me promise to wait until the morning to hang the ornaments so he could help. I reluctantly agreed, but I
continued to unpack other boxes. Decorations are not limited to the tree (which became plural today because I simply moved the old one to a new room!)
The stocking punched me in the gut and took my breath away as I opened my "mantle" box. What to do? I just kind of sat there and held it for a moment. It felt right to me to have it hanging.
After the boys go to bed, I unpack the ornaments and lay them out on the floor for Lucas to easily hang. I pick up ornaments everywhere I go so we have one from our honeymoon, from Tahoe, from College, from events and vacations. Pictures of the kids, ornaments with our names on them. Telling the story of us. Memories flood my brain. Tears stream down my cheeks and my breaths are shallow. Daniel is here. He is with me. Everywhere you turn you think of him. I feel like I've gotten through OK. I can’t let this ruin the Holidays for the boys. I must get it together. I'm gonna try damn hard to fight out of this funk but this sucks. I continue to put one foot in front of the other, but never think for one minute that this is easy.
re to edit.
Sleep is both your best friend and your worst enemy. I woke up this morning with a smile plastered on my face. A smile so big. I probably haven't had one that size in a while. I've been dreaming of Daniel and it was so vivid. We were sitting in bed talking and I was asking his advice. He had me enveloped in his strength and warmth. I felt his touch. His kiss. This is the reason for my smile. I was shaken by reality when I opened my eyes and Reed appeared bending over my head. His long curls tickling my face. The smile stays though. Reality does slap me. He is not here but wow it’s been a long time since I’ve felt him, and I still feel his presense this morning.
Nighttime is hard. Some nights you are so exhausted but you dread going to sleep because your thoughts invade you and you can’t sleep. The worrying, the grief, the stress, the bills, the wonderment of is he really gone?
Stopping and slowing down and thinking is when you start to drown again. The sorrow overcomes. At the same time you know sleep is the one thing you require to keep going. You must sleep. You must keep going. And you must carry on.
Headed home from Discovery Place this afternoon my two-year-old, Reed, decided to throw one of those two-year-old tantrums that makes you want to crawl in a hole and bury your head for an extended period of time. I sat us up for failure today though before even leaving the house. We went out without a nap and pushed the limits. We are morning people, we like to get things done and go go go, so afternoon outings are not always the best. They were both already tired but sometimes you just need to get out, Today, we should have stayed in.
I took them into the gift shop quickly before we left to pick up some things for my nieces for my sister for the Holidays and of course he didn’t want to leave, Go figure. I stayed and stayed and then Lucas needed to pee. Reed is still standing his ground. Damn stubborn child acts just like his mother. I grab him and start going toward the bathroom, He is screaming and Lucas is doing his pee pee dance. We make it to the potty, but Reed is still screaming. It is time to go. I carry him sideways down the elevator, through the lobby, up another elevator (trust me you have to do this, it doesn't connect) and I wrestled him into the car. I'm telling you this was a crawl in a hole tantrum! I buckled his car seat, all the while he’s screaming bloody murder and bucking. Neighboring cars are staring. (Yeah, like you've never been here.) I turn the radio on and roll the windows down as I try to drown out the incessant noise. The classic rock station I had been listening to on the way to the museum comes on; “Don’t Stop Believing,” by Journey is playing. I've always loved singing at the top my lungs so I start belting it out and laughing. (Don’t worry, Reed continues to scream.) I roll the windows down and its really all very comical. Daniel hated 80s music so maybe he helped the song play as I love it. It sounds silly but I look for him everywhere. I search for his love and involvement with us every day. And I think he was bringing me joy.
Reed finally passed out in his seat. Whew, we've survived another day.
I got out Daniels phone tonight. I’m not really sure why. Something just told me to get it and I began thumbing through photos and emails and just trying to find pieces of him. He had all of these emails in a folder entitled "funny." They went back for years. Some were from friends of mine and some from colleagues that he worked with. They were hilarious and just brought him back to me. I felt like he was sitting in the living room with me and I could hear his laugh. He gave me laughter tonight and it brought him back to the present. The hurt is still intense. It still takes my breath away. The loss still here. I had a laugh though. And he gave me that. The man I am still madly in love with.
Remember when you want. Grab onto whatever helps you get through the day, which most days feels like an impossible feat.
The question of the hour right now is what are the plans for Thanksgiving? Well, what are your plans for Thanksgiving? I'm not sure what people expect for us to do. Flee? Go somewhere tropical? Eat Chinese food? Maybe I’m supposed to sit and cry. It's Thanksgiving. I'm going to make a turkey and all the sides. I’m going to indulge and over eat. I’m going to sit at the table and say the things that I'm thankful for. I'm going to watch some football because our team is playing this year. Then I’m going to go shop with all the other crazy people that are fighting for “that deal.” That's what I do. I carry on. My life is incomplete and I missing the upmost important person to me, but like I've said before time keeps going. Day becomes night. Night becomes day. One day goes into the next. So for Thanksgiving we will invite our families as we always do. I will probably shed some tears in my closet but we will celebrate the American holiday to kick off the Christmas season as we do every year.
You can do it. Carry on the traditions that you have as a family with your kids, or whomever. Or don't. Do whatever feels right to you and don't let anyone tell you there is a right and wrong way to be doing this Holiday.
Preparing yourself for being alone, utterly alone. You're inundated and overwhelmed with help at the beginning of any trauma or diagnosis. So much help that when people offer you can't even respond to all the offers. Once the death occurs however most people slide away into the darkness. They feel like they've done their part and in their defense they have. There are a few that continue to ask and volunteer their time and effort but as time goes on you feel more and more alone. The help and the support slowly disappears. The distance grows between you and the people that you know. They can't comprehend what you've gone through and what you continue to go through. People don’t know what to say or how to act. You're on an island.
Prepare yourself. Slowly begin to do the things that they had been helping with. Yard work, meals, cleaning, etc. Do not feel bad if the grass doesn't look perfect or isn't being maintained right now. If your kids live off chicken nuggets they will survive. Things will get easier. With time. For me, the household chores are not the issues though it is the all consuming grief that continues to take hold. The fact that your spouse is not returning. And the finality of the situation.
It has been raining several days in a row now but today there was a break so I thought I would run out and mow the grass quickly before it got dark. The boys run around the yard while I mow. Halfway through the front yard my mower stopped. I quickly realized it needed gas and oil. I fill it up, yank the starter and it burps and both gas and oil pour out of their spots. I flooded the mower. AHHHH! All night long I go out to restart it and the damn thing won't start. The next morning it's not raining I run out of 6:30 am, still pretty dark outside but I would just like to finish the front yard so it doesn't look so ridiculous. It starts right up. I get three strips mowed and then it stops again. What the hell. This is my life with yard work.
Later in the week my mother and father come for a visit. "What kind of oil did you put in this?" asks my dad. What do you mean? The two cycle stuff in the small canister on the shelf. "I thought I told you the mower takes straight oil." "Oh, hell you probably did." The mower was not flooded.
This is just one of the many things widowhood has introduced to our lives. Changing batteries in the smoke detectors, changing the air filters in the attic, exchanging the propane tank that was much much heavier than I anticipated, using the storage thing for meat. The list goes on and on. Do you even realize how much your spouse does? Appreciate them. I am capable of all of these things. I have even been setting mouse traps in my garage recently as they have decided to move in, but life was easier when there were two of us. So much easier. You can do it though, you can do anything. Keep the faith. Believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask others for help.
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.