Sweet Dreams are Made of This

I spent the last week at a resort in Cancun.  It was a beautiful place, perfect for soul searching.  I went as the “plus one” with my friend Sandi.  It was sort of a family reunion for her extended family, her stepdaughter was there along with her family and there were others but I’m really not sure how the entire group of 38 were related.  I was a bit of a fish out of water there since the only person I knew beforehand was Sandi but she was almost the same way.  She knew a few people but obviously was on the outside of most of the rest of the family relationship and was looking in.

The resort was called Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf and Spa Resort in Cancun.  The resort itself was beautiful, the staff was out of this world and the view was remarkable.  Cool ocean breezes, sunny weather and unlimited rum drinks made this a perfect holiday however I don’t relax well.  I’m not one that just sits around and bakes in the sun.  I burn quickly and found myself on edge the first couple of days. Finally (perhaps it was the rum drinks) I found that I was able to sit back and watch life pass me by.

Every morning Sandi and I would go to the beach and have a cabana made up for us.  This was a queen sized bed that was covered by a huge canopy and two reclining chairs and a small table.  I felt like royalty.  I spent the majority of the time in the shade on the bed and could draw the curtains should the sun shift so I remained without a sunburn.  The breezes off the gulf were quite brisk and there were times I had to wrap a towel around my shoulders to get warm.  But all in all it was a piece of heaven.

 

 

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I read, watched some Netflix and finally relaxed.  Sandi spent most of her time in the sun listening to music.  I decided to use that time to focus on how I was going to move forward.  I tried to meditate but I found it difficult as my program faded in and out as the wifi wasn’t the greatest.  But I did manage to make some decisions.

I realized I need to give up the tax return business.  I have already given up my bookkeeping and corporate returns but I’m not qualified to continue to work on the tax clients.  My problem is that it is good money over a two month span and I need it right now.  This year I had to help Amanda out and I’m having to support Adam as he gets started on his career.  I can’t do it without an extra income.  I had thought either Amanda or Adam would help me with “the family business” so that they could supplement their income in the future but that doesn’t seem to be happening.  I figure I have ten years of life left and want to enjoy it.  I don’t want to sell my house but I could if I needed the money.  But for now, I have to work and supplement my investment income.

So … where does that leave me.  One thing that bothers me regarding the tax business is it is being run out of my home.  This means I need to keep the house clean at all times, which is not easy if I’m working by myself.  I have to be the receptionist, interviewer, tax preparer and bookkeeper all at once.  There is no time for myself.  Last  year I was totally stressed out as the person I hired didn’t show up most of the time and I got very little help at home.  So today I met with the guy that has been helping me and told him I’m getting out.  We brainstormed where he could open an office and he is going to try and get it set up immediately.  Hopefully this will work out.

 

One Year — 365 Days — 8,760 Hours — 525,600 Minutes — 31,536,000 Seconds Later

It has been one year of heartbreak.  It has changed but it is still there.  My heart still searches for John in a crowd, still dreams he is alive and still hopes I will see him again.  I still feel so empty, even when I am with people.  Even when I laugh I am not truly happy.  It is like all happy emotions are played on the surface but not inside of me.

I couldn’t be home on the anniversary date so I went on a cruise with my daughter Amanda.  We headed south and visited the Bahamas, Grand Turk and the Dominican.  It was a perfect holiday.

My daughter is like sunshine to me.  She is beautiful, brilliant, funny, IMG_6510 creative and, in so many ways, just like her father.  This cruise was important to me because I feel like I have failed her.  I know I have disappointed her and I don’t know how to make it up to her.  This time away helped us reconnect.  We had a wonderful time together and I’m hoping we can continue building on that in the future and have a stronger bond again.

The other day I was crying and wanted so much to talk to John.  I heard this little voice in my heart ask “what would you say to him?”.  I thought I would tell him that I loved him … missed him but then realized he already knows that I love him and miss him. He always knew that.  Then I thought … no what it is that I want to hear is him telling me he loves me and misses me.  I needed reassurance that he was still here for me.  I stopped crying and decided to get back to work.  I was switching computers over (I bought a new one at Christmas and still wasn’t using it) and I went into an old email account.  I had lost all my emails from John when we closed our website and was sad about that loss.  But when I opened this old email up (hotmail) there was just one letter in the inbox.  And when I read it I knew John is still here with me.  Here is his email.

This is really weird.

I was just thinking last night about the differences between us. And about how much I love you.
You think you fail at things when, in fact, you are doing great things in life. 

You are the reason our kids have turned out well. You have spent the time with them when they needed it; unlike lots of mothers who do not pay attention and then their kids turn out to have all kinds of problems.

You have always been the one that backed me up. Now we are both getting older and like everyone else, things start to deteriorate, both physical and mental. But, that is just the way it is. It happens to everyone. 
I don’t know what to tell you about work. Maybe I rely on you too much. Everyone seems to do that to you. 

This is a tough time of the year. But we will get through it. 

I know the two of us don’t handle stress the same way. For me it is getting better because I feel that we are now at the stage where I believe we have already made it. 

We have done the right thing by our kids.  Adam still needs to work
things out, but he is certainly not a problem for us.  
Manda, Laura, Julie (and Emily) have all been put on a good path for their lives.

I think 99% of our clients like us. And that is why I feel okay about the relationships in the practice. The clients we like also like us, and understand when we have problems. And we do a damn good job for them.
I feel financially secure. If I died tomorrow, I know you guys would be okay. Not as well off as we will be in a few more years, but okay.

My only concern is you. I would like you to get to the stage that you are feeling okay too. I was hoping that this weekend would give you the break you need.

The thing is … It doesn’t matter. Pretty much any of these things can be fixed. If they can’t be fixed, we can handle the consequences. It will all be okay in the end. There are going to be things that come up all the time. That is life. 
The important thing is to get you to the stage that you feel the same way. 

I don’t know how to express this. The ups and downs happen. I look at them as challenges. But, in the end, that is all they are … We can handle any outcome. So how we get to the outcome doesn’t have to hurt us with the stress.

The one really important thing is that I love you. You are the best thing in my life. When I see you happy, I am happy. 

I wish I knew how to make you feel better. <Smiling> Just looking at you makes me feel better. Oops, there I go reverting to my character again .. This is not supposed to be about me.
One last try … Put this stuff out of your head. Relax. Go swimming. Go shopping with them. Enjoy the hotel. And while you are in Niagara Falls, think about our honeymoon. 

I really, really love you.

I know he is still with me.  I know in my heart he is waiting for me.  And I’m counting down the moments until I can be with him again.

 

REBOOT

I have decided on my word for 2017.  My focus word is REBOOT.  
Verb (used with object)
1.  to restart (a computer) by loading the operating system; boot again.
2.  to produce a distinctly new version of

3.  to make a change in (something) in order to establish a new beginning:
4.  (of a computer) to be restarted.
Noun
5.  an act or instance of restarting a computer.
6.  an act or instance of making a change in order to establish a new beginning:

a reboot of our product line.
7.  a distinctly new version of something
This is the perfect word for me for 2017!!  I am going to REBOOT my life, my health and my finances.
Come on this journey with me as I restart my entire life!

Believe, Restore, Build, Explore and Nourish

These are the words that I am going to chose from in order to move forward next year.  They all are good words, positive words and strong words. Which one should I pick?

BELIEVE

In 2017 I need to believe that I can move forward with my life.  I need to believe I can go on without John.  I need to believe that I will be alright again.  I need to believe that I can make this journey and not just survive but thrive again.

RESTORE

In 2017 I need to restore not only my life but my health.  I am overweight, my sugar levels indicate I’m pre-diabetic and I’m out of shape.  Writing this word makes me realize that it does not encompass my goals for the year.  I need to find a new life.  Perhaps Reset (like a computer) is a better word.

BUILD

I need to rebuild my life.  I need to get stronger, build a stronger body, build a life for me that encompasses financial and emotional stability and build bridges to my family and friends so that our relationships are closer.

EXPLORE

I want to explore myself and the world around me.  For all my adult life I’ve stood with my husband and now it is time to stand alone.  I need to find out who I am and where I want to go.

NOURISH

This year has been hell on me.  My body is rebelling, my business needs attention and my home is in the midst of renovations.  I need to spend nourishing me, my business and my home.  I need to strengthen myself in order to handle my life alone.  John was always my safety net and my strength.  Now I need to become strong enough to go on alone.

 

Which word should I pick?

Six Months Later

John died six months ago.  June 13, 2016 the life I knew ended.  I’m learning to move on.

I miss John.  I miss talking to him, sharing things with him, knowing he always had my back.  But what I miss the most about him is the way he smiled at me when I’d come home.  He would look up at me and give me this half smile and it would make my stomach flip even after 35 years of marriage.  In that moment I could always tell he loved me and he was happy to see me.  I miss that smile.

I believe I made the right decision about selling the condo.  I know John would have kept it but he loved going there because he was comfortable there.  He would spend hours sitting on the balcony reading and watching the golfers.  He liked having his own things there and sleeping in a comfortable bed.  He was not happy traveling.  I think though he would understand why I am selling.  I know I’ll have second thoughts and regrets but in the long run it is the right decision for me.  I know it.

I find it overwhelming having to handle everything on my own.  Not just the big things but the little things too.  John was so good to me.  He would fill my car with gas or just bring me a bowl of ice cream (he did love his ice cream).  He would take the garbage out at the the condo and take my car to have the oil changed.  We also split the office work.  We worked on tax returns together, he’d choose the mortgages we would fund and I’d do the bookkeeping.  We were the perfect team.  I took good care of him too.  I’d remind him to take his insulin, I took care of him the best I could.  Not just when he was dying, I always took good care of him.  It made both of us feel good to do things for each other.  Now I am alone and struggling.

I have been thinking about what I want to do in the future.  I don’t want to continue working with the clients. I should never have signed up with Simon to continue working with the clients.  Simon isn’t reliable enough and it is stressing me out.  I should have just told the clients that I was wrapping everything up when John died but I didn’t.  First, John wanted me to continue with the personal tax clients and secondly I thought I was helping Simon.  But I’m not qualified to do all these tax returns.  I would rather get a normal job than have to deal with all these clients all the time.  But I’ve told them I would take care of them.  I need to figure out a way out of this mess.  I will continue taking care of the family’s returns but not everyone else.  I only have two corporate clients to worry about and I can either have them work with Simon or go to another accounting firm.

I wish last April that John had not encouraged me and the clients to continue our relationship.  I don’t like answering the phone.  I don’t feel qualified to answer the questions they ask me.  John wanted to make sure i had something to do when he was gone but he shouldn’t have decided my future for me.  I can easily get a part time job and make just as much money and have less stress.  I need to move toward that life.  The accounting practice was John’s life and not mine.  I only got involved when he opened his own office.  I’ll blog about that story another time.  But right now, I realize it is time to give this up.

I need to carve out my new place in the world.  I need to decide my own direction and my own life.  I need to leave my old life behind and move forward.  I need to make my own mistakes.

I am really starting over.

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.

 

Thankful

Today is my first Thanksgiving without my husband.  I’m having a very hard time finding anything to be thankful for even though I know in my heart I should be grateful for the life I have.

I still don’t sleep well.  I tend to wander the house at night.  I sleep a few hours in my bed, sleep a few hours in the living room and then a few hours in the family room. I’m most comfortable in the family room because I feel John is in there.  It is the room where he died.  I curl up on the sofa and pretend he is still there in his hospital bed.  I think I will do better when I return to Florida.  It is less stressful there for me.

My son Adam made his first Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, squash, steamed veggies and a yummy creme brulee for dessert.  My daughter Amanda came with her husband and we all enjoyed the meal.  Everyone seemed to avoid the topic of John but he was never far from us.  Tomorrow I’m going to another daughter’s house to celebrate again.  But this celebration is really difficult for me.  I know I have to be strong for them but it is really difficult.

A good friend of mine called today to tell me he was thinking of me.  He said that he knows it is hard experiencing “firsts” without John.  He’s right.  But I think I’m going to miss John every day of the rest of my life.

I have been thinking though that John would be upset with me if he knew I was still feeling this way.  John always wanted my happiness before his.  I’m going to work hard at being more social and getting my feet back on the ground. I spend too many days feeling lost and empty.  I don’t want my life to be wasted.  I still have time left to do some good in this world and make my mark.  I’m going to try and be more positive and find my way.

I have been working on clients year ends lately and I want to get them all finished so I can clear my mind when I go down south.  I don’t want to take work down there with me.  So for the next week I’m going to keep my nose to the grindstone and get it all done!