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.

 

I Do … I Did

It would have been 36 years of marriage today.  Thirty six years of ups and downs, happy and sad times and 36 years of memories together. This doesn’t even take in the years we lived together or were friends first

I remember our wedding day as if it was yesterday.  The night before John was helping to clear the table after dinner and he was scraping a plate into the garbage and he turned and put his back out.  He was in terrible pain and went to bed early to try and relieve it.

I slept in to conserve my energy because I was 3 months pregnant.  John got a phone call and came in to talk to me.  His brother, our best man, phoned to say he would not be our best man at the wedding.  I cried.  Already the oldest brother and his family had said they would not attend the wedding and now this.  His family objected to our marriage because John had divorced his first wife.  They all sided with his first wife.  John and I didn’t have some sordid affair.  I had already had an affair with a married man and hated the way I felt when I was seeing this man. I realized early on this man was using me but I was enamoured of him and the life he exposed me to.   I told John we couldn’t have a fling.  We had worked together for a few years prior to getting together and were friends first.  However when he left his first wife it wasn’t long before we were together permanently.  My daughter was the same way when she started dating her “sun and stars”.  Basically after their first date they were never apart.  It was the same for John and I.  I don:t really care what other people think of how we got together but we were meant to be together

Going back to our wedding day I told John I didn’t want to marry him anymore.  I told him to go back to his ex-wife and two daughters.  He told me we didn’t HAVE to get married and we could continue living together.  He said that no matter what, we were going to be together.  Married or not.  He said he would rather have me in his life and his family could go straight to hell.  He said we were not going to give them the satisfaction of tearing us apart.

So he made a call to my brother who was happy to step in as best man.

At three we went to city hall to be married.  Julie and Laura looked adorable in their matching pink dresses.  My sister was my matron of honour.

John’s parents and my parents were there also.  My dad really liked John’s parents (they were all Dutch).  John’s parents were not overjoyed at the ceremony but they put on a brave face.

A justice of the peace married us.  She didn’t make me feel like a number.  I was so filled with love for John that I thought I would burst.  He was standing ramrod straight because his back was so sore.  The ceremony was beautiful.  Afterwards we went behind City Hall near the creek and had our photos taken.

We had our reception at an Italian restaurant that just opened in Oshawa. Many people came and it was a wonderful evening.  My new sister-in-law got drunk and knocked a planted tree over.  It was only recently that I found out she and her husband spent our wedding day drinking with John’s ex-wife.

After the reception we went home. I was so happy to be home with the man I loved.  To this dany I am happy we didn’t bow to the pressure of his family and we created a life without them.

My family made up for John’s family.  My brother became one of John’s closest friends.  We travelled together and spent weeks together in Florida.  My father loved John like a son. And my nephew Stephen looked up to John like a father.  John never regretted his decision to marry me, not even in our bad time.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

There has definitely been a change in me since the concert.  I’m thinking more of the future instead of the past and of what I have lost.  I have been deciding what I want to do in the future. I am glad I didn’t buy a condo in Florida  because I’m second guessing myself on that now.  I have decided I don’t want to work on corporate clients anymore and this will be the last year I do them.  I think I will only do personal income tax returns for another year because I’m already committed to the clients but I don’t want to have people coming in and out of my home all the time anymore.

So what do I know I want?  Here is a list (and check back and see if I actually follow through).

  • Spend more quality time with my children and friends.
  • Empty my bedroom of John’s clothes and my old clothes.  I still have clothes that I wore when I was pregnant with Adam!
  • Renovate my ensuite.  I want a new shower, bathtub, vanity and floor.
  • Finish cleaning and renovating the main floor
  • Turn Emily’s old room into a guest room
  • Create a craft room and set up an area for scrap booking, sewing and other crafts
  • Set up a “vacation” schedule and go to new places instead of just Largo, Florida
  • Get healthy
  • Laugh more
  • Be more sociable

 

Come Monday It Will Be Alright

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My husband was a Parrothead and not ashamed to admit it.  Normally he was quite proper, straight laced (he was an accountant after all) but he did love his home in Florida and listening to Jimmy’s music while we were at our favourite restaurants and bars.  He and I attended every concert Jimmy ever performed in Ontario and had made plans to try and go to other venues in our retirement.

Several months ago Jimmy announced a summer tour that included Toronto so I bought tickets for my kids and their spouses.  That was a challenge in itself as it is not easy to get 10 tickets together.  So after much finagling we got 6 tickets in one row and 4 directly behind those ones.

I wanted this night to be very special to the family so that we could begin to heal and move on.  I reserved a limo to drive us so we could party in safety.  But I wanted this night to be super special and I tried to think of an idea that would be the icing on the cake.

One day I emailed Jimmy and told them about John.  Almost immediately I got an email back from his videographer Stan Kellam.  Stan and I decided that a photo of John during a song would be a great idea.  He asked for photos of John which I provided.  Over the course of several emails I told him about what a good man John was.  This man was so considerate, so patient and so nice to me that I had a good feeling that this night would be a success.  This was my biggest secret ever.

The afternoon of the show my daughters Amanda and Laura came over early and we had some frozen concoctions.  I was so pleased that my son Adam and his girlfriend (who never attended a JB concert) really got into the event.  My son had a shark hat and sunglasses and Leesa (Adam’s girlfriend) made herself a mermaid outfit.  For at least a week prior to the concert I played Jimmy’s songs in the car so they’d know them when we got there.

After a few drinks we piled into the limo and traveled to Toronto.  We laughed in the car but I was nervous and high strung.  I really needed this evening to go off without a hitch.

We got to the concert shortly before 7.  I wanted to go thank Stan in person but security wouldn’t allow it and he wasn’t getting my texts.

Once Jimmy came on stage I felt totally relaxed.  I sang, danced, laughed and cried.  I sobbed during Come Monday (more below) but generally I was  having the best time in over a year and a half.  My daughter Amanda and I belted out the chorus of One Particular Harbor as I always felt it was our song since she was a little girl.   As I looked into the faces of my children with their spouses I could see they were having fun too.

Then came the song.  Stan told me it would play during “Back Where I Come From”.  I told the kids to watch the screen.  I never imagined that the moment would be so wonderful when John’s picture appeared on the screen.  I felt like my heart burst out of my chest.  There he was, with us.  Larger than life, larger than death, he was there.

Everyone cried.

At that moment something happened to me.  It was like a crack opened in my heart. Light crept in.

The rest of the concert was wonderful.  I must admit that I drank too much and was rather inebriated on the ride home but I laughed and laughed on the way home.  The kids kept me in stitches.

As usual when I woke up in the morning my first thought was of John but this time I didn’t cry.  I got up, started my day and put music on while I cleaned the house.  There was definitely a shift in me.  Two weeks later I can still feel the change.

I still feel sad and empty but I also feel like there is a light back on inside of me.  I still cry several times a day as my grief comes in waves but I feel like there is a tomorrow.  I notice I have begun to make plans that are for my life and not for when I am dead.

Part of the shift in me was due to my children.  The love they showed for me and for their father was (and always has been) amazing.  But one thing in particular helped wedge that door open.  My daughter posted this the following morning.

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I finally felt that I did something right.  For so long I have felt like a total failure.  I feel like I’ve made mistake after mistake and have been second guessing everything I do.  I was paralyzed in relationships because I felt so insecure and helpless since John died.

There is no way that Stan Kellam or Jimmy Buffett will ever know what they did for me.  I got my life back.  It is my responsibility to steer it forward but I will need help from my family and friends.  I’m not as strong as I used to be but I’m stronger than I was.

So … Come Monday It Will Be Alright.

Headin’ up to San Francisco
For the Labor Day weekend show,
I’ve got my hush-puppies on,
I guess I never was meant for
Glitter rock and roll.    (John was never meant for glitter rock and roll.)
And honey I didn’t know
That I’d be missin’ you so.  (I miss him so much)Come Monday It’ll be all right, (John passed away on a Monday)
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight. (He told me he would hold me every day)
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side.

Yes it’s been quite a summer,
Rent-a-cars and west bound trains.
And now you’re off on vacation,  (While he was dying he told me to think I was on vacation and we would be together soon .. I spent time in Florida alone getting our place ready for retirement)
Somethin’ you tried to explain.
And darlin’ I love you so that’s  (I knew at the end I had to let him go because I couldn’t bear to watch him suffer any longer)
The reason I just let you go.

Come Monday It’ll be all right,
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight.
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side. (I would give anything to have him beside me)

I can’t help it honey,
You’re that much a part of me now.  (John is my soulmate and forever a part of me)
Remember the night in Montana when
We said there’d be no room for doubt.

I hope you’re enjoyin’ the scenery,
I know that it’s pretty up there. (He is watching me from heaven)
We can go hikin on Tuesday,
With you I’d walk anywhere.
California has worn me quite thin,
I just can’t wait to see you again.  (We will be together again someday)

Come Monday It’ll be all right,
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight. (someday)
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side.

Songwriters: BUFFETT, JIMMY

As Donald Trump Says “Sad”

My grief has changed.  I don’t cry as much but I am incredibly sad.  I smile, I laugh with people but inside I’m so sad.  I’ve been trying different meditations for happiness, playing with my kittens and spending time with my family but I’m just sad and tired.  I have no energy to do anything and really can’t think of anything I want to do.  It doesn’t help that it is just dark and gloomy outside all the time and it rains every single day.  I have a few work jobs to complete and I can’t get motivated to do those and I need to spend time on my other business but it is a struggle to even work on it.  I need something to kick me in the ass so I can get on with my life.

Will I Ever Be Happy Again?

I did a “game” on FaceBook today and it told me I will live until I am 109.  No thanks … Right now I’d be quite happy to die as soon as I have everything organized in my life.  I have a list of things that need to be done, I need to document everything financial that I deal with, I need to organize my work so that my clients will be taken care of when I finally die and I need to make sure my children (who are adults now) are able to take care of themselves.  My stepdaughters are fine, both are married with children and are financially secure.  My daughter is married (no children) and is quite independent from me.  My son is just starting out in his career, working in a restaurant on the line.  He makes next to nothing right now but I’m sure with hard work and perseverance he will achieve his dream of being a restaurant manager.

Most likely I should downsize and move out of my house.  Right now my son and his girlfriend are living with me but he can’t afford to live here on his own.  This will probably take me a year to achieve because I need to renovate the house and empty it.  At the rate that I’m moving it will take me years just to finish that project.

I want to be happy again.   I don’t want to wake up crying every day.  I want John to know that he was right and that I can handle everything that needs to be done.  It is difficult because while he was dying he decided I needed to continue the tax practice but I should have told him no.  That put incredible strain and stress on me and I don’t believe he could foresee that.  He always told me I was the smartest person he knew and he believed I could handle it.  Well I did handle it but the stress almost killed me.  I need to make changes going forward.

I have a friend that is also a widow and we have been doing things together.  We have been going out at least once a week but I am an introvert and she needs to contact me instead of me contacting her.  We are making travel plans (going to Bermuda in September, Mexico in October and Florida in November).  Her husband passed away over two years ago from complications from MS.  She is quite happy to spend time with me in Florida too.  Florida seems to be my happy place.  I think about being there all the time.  As I mentioned before my daughter is quite unhappy with me that I sold the condo there.  She looks at it as a place of memories but to me, it was my future with John.  We worked hard to get the condo ready for our retirement which was supposed to start in 2016.  But he died before we were able to see our dream come true.  No one loved that place more than I did but every moment I spent there was like a knife in my heart.  I didn’t think I could survive if I stayed there.  But I love the area and I will go back.  I’ll most likely buy another condo and make it mine.  I can go to “our” favourite places and remember John and smile but try and move forward and get through my life.  If I can’t move forward then I might as well liquidate everything and die.  What is the use of living?

I really do want to be happy.  I want to smile where it actually touches my insides instead of my outside.  I want to wake up feeling happy to be alive instead of getting up every day thinking of what I have lost.  I have been trying different meditations and they are helping and so are my kittens.  They obviously love their mama cat because they are with me so much of my day.  They curl up and sleep beside me while I work.  My boy cat (Obi-Wan) loves to watch me type and he stares at the screen of the computer.

I am trying … we will see how this journey goes.

 

 

 

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.