Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Five months have passed.  The past few weeks were some of the most difficult times I’ve gone through.  I started having panic attacks.  I had one when I was out playing bingo with a friend and another while I was shopping at Lowes.  Both times I thought I was having a heart attack.  My thoughts were not “Oh my .. I’m going to die” but “I want to die at home so I can be with John”.

So one afternoon I went to John’s Pass.  Believe it or not, I went to Hooters, found a table by the water and I sat there for 2 hours.  I watched the people on the boardwalk and sat and thought.  I decided that I was going to sell the condo.  John and I worked so hard the past 9 years getting this condo ready for this year.  We were supposed to be retired this year, enjoying our winter home.   We did all the renovations together and, as a result, I feel him in every corner of this place.  Every moment is like picking a scab on my already broken heart.

I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I made the decision to sell.  I didn’t realize I was just exchanging one stress for another.  I came home and told my family and they were generally supportive.  My children were all concerned that I was rushing it but my brother totally understood.  Leo was here for a week and he didn’t feel as comfortable as when he used to come when John was here.  My only reservation was that John had asked me to wait a year before I sold the condo.  We talked about it before he died and I told him I would sell and he tried to persuade me to keep it.  If the situation was reversed I could see him keeping the place but I need to be home with my children.  Plus I find it so difficult to continue with our business from here.  My son is helping me as much as he can but it is hard to know where we are at when we are doing everything over the phone.

I needed some time to pack up everything before I listed the unit so I just put a sign in one window that it was for sale by owner.  I had several calls from people that could see it from the golf course but no one came to see it.  My neighbour Jan tried to have her daughter buy it but it really wasn’t right for the daughter.  She has young children and would have to try and rent it.  I totally understood why she didn’t but it but I had a more difficult time trying to understand why my next door neighbours did what they did.  They came over one morning and toured the apartment.  They told me how much they loved the unit and how they wanted to buy it.  They went home to discuss it and came back a few hours later and said they wanted to buy it.  They were going to go to the bank on Saturday and we agreed on the price and terms.  I was on top of the world at that moment.  I felt the tides are turned for me.  Then two days later they came over and told me that they changed their mind.  I was in shock.  I could not believe it.  There are no words to describe how I felt.  It was like the final straw that I could handle.  John’s illness and subsequent death, the problems with the person that bought his practice, the problems I had with the house falling apart, the stress of the business and then this … well to be honest, I didn’t think I would be able to get through it.  I was seriously contemplating the end of my life.

I slept off and on … mostly just took to my bed … and got up 24 hours later and decided it was time to list the condo professionally.  Once the decision was made I felt stronger.  The real estate agent came by on Friday and and I signed the papers.

I had the most difficult time on Friday after I signed the papers.  I was going out for dinner with my neighbours.  I was apprehensive about going since my one friend was annoyed with me already for listing with an agent but I went.  It was 4 couples plus one other widow.  We went to the Elks club.  At the dinner I needed up sitting next to the friend that felt I should have had her sell my condo.  She was very frustrated with me that I listed and she let me know.  I ended up going to the bathroom several times as she upset me so much.  She had no idea how she upset me.  Her heart was in the right place but she doesn’t understand how stressful this is for me.  I’m so torn about selling this place.  I love it here but it is not the same without John.  I’m lonely and it is an expensive place to come sit alone.

So I’m already upset and at this dinner.  I am watching all these couples, friends of John’s and mine, having fun together.  After dinner there is dancing.  I watch my friends all dance together.  I never felt so alone.

A few days have passed and I’m doing better.  Each day is a struggle but I’m counting the days until Laura gets here on Saturday and we go off on our cruise.  And then I go home.  I pray that someone will see my place and buy it quickly and I can move on with my life.


Super Strong

Grief is the strongest emotion I have ever felt.  It has taken over all my feelings of love and hope, erased all the joy and life out of me.  The only time I sleep is when I take a sleeping pill and it is a dreamless sleep.  A restless, dreamless sleep.

Over and over again I reach out for John and he is not there.  He is not there when I need him, he is not there when I need my hand held, he is not there when I am scared or tired, he is not there when I turn to show him something I discovered.  All that happens is that momentary joy turns to overwhelming sadness when I realize I don’t have him here to share it with.  He wasn’t here for the world series, he wasn’t here to see his Orioles get beaten my Blue Jays and he won’t be here for any more of the events in my life.

I am going to fight this though because that is what John would have wanted me to do.  While he was dying he held me and told me that I was strong enough to get through this.  He never was wrong before so why should he be wrong now?  I need to find that strength within me and beat this thing called “grief”.  I am still alive.

I’m not sure how to do this … how to defeat this overpowering thing called grief.  I want to smile again, really smile, when I hear Christmas songs or see a child playing in the surf.  I want to feel better and not spend my days curled up on my bed just staring out the window.  I know where I want to be but I have to figure out how to get there.

I need to be like a super hero … like Dr. Strange or Batman and take this loss and turn it into something positive.  John believed in me.  I need to believe in me.