Someone asked me the other day how I’m dealing with my grief. They were trying to get me to go see a grief counselor and I replied, “I’m seeing myself.” I find that writing about my thoughts helps me to focus and I am hoping that when I reread some of the older posts I’ll see that I’m getting stronger. I know in the beginning I felt incredible despair and blackness and felt life was hopeless. I have better days now, and yes, I can say “days” instead of “moments”. Now I still cry, sob actually, but I no longer have such an overwhelming desire to die. I am discovering, and surrounding myself, with the people that want to be with me. Family and friends that share in my grief and help me find a new normal for myself. I am hurt by the disappearance of some people that I thought were concerned for me, people I thought that would be there for me during difficult times but they have either totally faded from my life or flit in and out without regard to my feelings. But I am also surprised by how some people have swept into my life and put their arms around me to comfort me and give me strength. They are my angels.
Laura arrived right in time. I had such a stressful time regarding selling the condo and missing John that I was thinking that I didn’t want to go on anymore. I was tired of the emptiness and feeling so alone. The only time I’d feel alive again was when my children and friend Anne FaceTimed me. Getting a text is not the same as hearing a person, seeing a family member … not quite the same as being able to touch them but it was the next best thing. The oldest daughter, Julie loves to FaceTime me and we do it no matter where I am. She was always there with a smile, always ready to chat whenever I needed her. Adam also FaceTimed me regularly. On days he didn’t FaceTime we chatted by text. We did discuss business matters but we also just had nice chats.
On Saturday Laura arrived. I was late getting to the airport but her luggage was last off the plane so it all worked out. We went straight from the airport to the ship. We decided to start our vacation by having a couple of drinks on the Lido deck of the ship. It was a great start to our holiday and the entire week was filled with laughter, some tears and good times. I felt “normal” again. We went to Georgetown, Grand Cayman and to a private beach off the coast of Cozemel. We did have wonderful chats about John. We laughed over some memories and cried over others but it felt good.
The cruise was only 5 nights so we had a few days back at the condo before we flew back north.
While we were onboard the ship there was an offer on the condo made by my neighbours that walked away from the deal earlier. I had to sign all the paperwork on the deal but Laura and I were in a hurry because we were going out that day to get groceries and to have some fun. When the agent left I told Laura we needed to freshen up and we’d leave. I was in my bedroom, got cleaned up and ran out into the family room and was stopped in my tracks. I swear John was sitting in his chair in the living room. He was sitting there smiling at me. For a split second I felt whole again. I called to Laura and he disappeared. I cried but I felt he was letting me know it was ok for me to sell the condo. He wouldn’t have done it if the situation was reversed but he understood why I was selling it.
I got home on Sunday. I feel like I’ve been running since I got home but it feels good. I’ve been cleaning up after the renovations that were done while I was away. I had work to do for my business because I was away too long. I have cried every day since I’ve been home but now that I’m back with people that love me I feel more complete.
I wish I could buy you a thousand amazing gifts for your birthday, but I know the things that make life happy can’t be bought … like love and the closeness two people share … time … days spent together when we’re happy no matter what we are doing … kindnesses … the little things we do for one another. These things can’t be bought and yet they are the best gifts of all.
And so, for your birthday, I’m giving you this promise as part of my gift — to love you even more and make you happier, to make all our days together days to remember always.
This was my card to John on his birthday last year … I never dreamt it was his last birthday and our days together were so limited. I miss him every moment of every day.
Tonight I went to John’s favourite restaurant and toasted him as the sun went down. I love you John … you are still my world.
I keep thinking that I just want one minute more with John. Just one minute. But then I try and think what would I do in that minute? Is there something I would ask him? I can’t think of anything. I wouldn’t waste the time asking if he loved me because I know he did. Should I ask him if he is proud how I am handling things? Nope … he would tell me he was always proud of me. So what would I do with that minute? I finally figured it out. I just want home to hold me for a minute. Just one reassuring hug for 60 seconds. But I know I would be greedy and want more. One minute a year, one minute a month, one minute a week … it would never be enough until I had him back with me full time.
I was trying to figure out what it is that I need right now. It is an odd feeling. I am so lonely but not alone. My family has been wonderful and supportive and I really am not alone but I sure am lonely. Today I went out with my brother, his wife and their grandaughter to Weeki Wachi. We saw the mermaids perform, took a short boat ride down the Weeki Wachi river and walked around the grounds. Beautiful, old style Florida fun but I missed having John with me. I miss those shared moments where we could communicate our feelings without words and we just knew what the other was thinking. I am surrounded by people but I have never felt so lonely. I don’t know if that hole will ever be filled.
It would have been my 35th anniversary today. John and I planned to spend the entire month of October celebrating in Hawaii. We made such wonderful plans, a week on Oahu, a week on the Big Island, a week on Kauai and a week cruising all of the islands. Instead I am in Florida wishing with my whole heart that I could have one more hug, one more kiss, one more moment with the man I loved.
I’m sure everyone feels their wedding day was special or unusual but I felt mine really was. The night before we were married John put his back out scraping a plate after dinner (I think that was the last time he helped clear the table). He could barely move on our wedding day (which is why he looks so stiff in our wedding photos).
We were to be married at City Hall at 3 pm. Around noon his brother (our best man) called and said he could no longer be our best man. He said he couldn’t do it in good conscience because he felt our marriage was wrong. John had been married before and had two children from his first marriage. John was shattered. It was bad enough that one brother just refused to attend the wedding and now his other brother would no longer be our best man. Fortunately my brother agreed to step in. It was, as they say, the beginning of a beautiful friendship between my brother and John.
Even with all this family turmoil John and I were incredibly happy on our wedding day. My family loved John and accepted him into the fold. John and I had many happy years together and our family grew. As I said before we had a daughter and a son and the two daughters from his first marriage spent a great deal of time with us. (The oldest actually moved in with us when she was 14 and stayed with us until she finished college and the next one lived with us for almost ten years while she was an adult.)
But suddenly things were not so perfect. John changed drastically and our relationship suffered. I don’t want to concentrate on it here as it is in the past and I feel it has to do with his undiagnosed diabetes. Whenever John’s sugar levels were high he would be quite difficult to be with and once he was diagnosed we knew how to handle it. But there was a period of 4 to 5 years where our relationship suffered because of it. Once he got his diabetes under control we decided to reconcile. For our 25th anniversary we decided to show the world we were united and we renewed our vows on a pirate ship out on the gulf of Mexico. For the next ten years (until his illness) we were incredibly happy together.
John and I weren’t just married; we were in business together. This meant we spent more time together than most couples. We were an extension of each other and that was wonderful. I would drive John crazy when I’d finish sentences for him but it just showed me how in sync we were together. There were times I was in Florida and he was back home but we would talk several times a day on the telephone and we shared everything with each other. We were a team.
Today I celebrate the time we did have together. Every moment, every smile, every kiss, every tear, every laugh … every second we spent together. I was very lucky to find my soul mate. Many people go through their entire lives looking and never find them. He was and still is my happiness.
FOREVER AND ALL WAYS
Four months have passed. It doesn’t get any easier but it is different. I don’t sob as much anymore. I tear up but everything stays inside. Once in awhile (like when I was at the doctor’s office) I break down and cry but generally I am able to contain it.
It is not that it hurts less. It is just different. I feel sad and empty inside. I can’t even listen to music right now because it brings emotions to close to the surface. It is easier for me to just stay numb and then I can deal with the day. I am trying to figure out a play list to walk to that makes me happy instead of upsetting me all over again.
In a week I leave for Florida. I’m glad to be going because I need a change of scenery. I’m tired of working on bookkeeping and year ends and I’m tired of working on the house. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. I get one job done and another one appears. I need some time for me. I need to start taking care of myself. I need to eat right, learn to relax and start walking again. I spend too much time sitting at my desk working. Time to stretch those legs!
Today, when I was having my tea, I could picture those last few moments with my husband. I had heard a noise and came into the family room where his bed was located. I took his hand, he opened his eyes and looked at me. And he took his last breath. I closed his eyes and held on to him for as long as I could before I called the nurse to come pronounce his death.
When the funeral home came they made the family go to the back yard. They didn’t want us to see them take John out of the house. I came back in after they transferred him to the guerney and watched silently while they wheeled him down the driveway to the hearse. John was leaving the house for the last time. I still can picture this in my head so perfectly.
Now he is here in the house … in spirit .. with me. I have decided that I want to live in the house until I die and I want to die in the same exact spot he did and I want to take that final journey out of the house the way he did. And I know, that when I make that trip, he will be beside me holding my hand.
I love you John. I miss you so much. Words can’t even express how much. Forever and all ways.
P.S. After I wrote this I decided I needed to go out for some air. I was standing near where John died when there was two distinct thuds from closeby. My son’s girlfriend and I looked at each other thinking we both did something but we hadn’t. This happened at exactly the time John passed away 4 months ago. Proves to me he is still here with me.
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!
I hate it when people tell me they are sorry I lost my husband. I didn’t lose him; he died. He is gone. It is not like I can find him under a cushion or in a closet somewhere. He is not lost. I am lost. Not him.
I have been very busy this past month. The main floor renovations are almost complete. The rooms have been painted, the hardwood is laid, new furniture is in and it is looking good. They will replace the gas fireplace this week and I have someone coming to hang the light fixture in my dining room. We filled two dumpsters and a third one is almost full. I think by Sunday the main floor of my house will be finished with the exception of the new windows.
A friend of mine hired me to help at his office while his bookkeeper was on vacation. I worked for two weeks and really enjoyed it. I bought some new “work” clothes and it felt good going out. I really don’t think I was “needed” there but they certainly made me feel welcome. It was a nice change of pace and for those hours I mostly concentrated on work and not John. I could feel him with me in a very supportive way.
I still don’t sleep well. I sleep on a tiny edge of my bed (on my husband’s side) and the rest of the bed is covered in clothes. I’m going through his clothes and mine and donating bags and bags to Value Village. Most of my clothes are dated and I have so many of them that I will never need to buy new ones again. But I can’t bear to get rid of John’s Hawaiian shirts and his Jimmy Buffet ones. They are John. I’ve been doing laundry and every dirty shirt of his that I find I cry into and try and smell him just one more time. I hold his shirts and try and feel him. I miss him so very much.
I finally broke down and called my doctor on Friday to ask him for sleeping pills. Surprise … surprise he is on holidays until the middle of October. Is this a sign from John that I shouldn’t use sleeping pills? I need more sleep though because when I’m tired I’m more emotional. I went out today and bought some over the counter sleeping medication and I hope that it will help me get at least 7 hours sleep tonight. With sleep I’ll heal. I’ll get stronger every day.
Over the past three months I have thought a great deal about death. I feel guilty that I am alive and John isn’t. He should be here enjoying his retirement. If there was any way we could have traded places I would have gladly done it for him. He worked so hard his entire life that he deserved to spend some golden years. He took such good care of me and the rest of the family that he truly deserved to be the one that lived.
I also understand how people can die of a broken heart. I think of dying all the time now. I admit I thought of suicide. I feel so alone and broken that death would be welcome but I have to wait until it is my time. I never believed in an afterlife until John got ill. One day in the hospital John was looking off into the distance. I asked him what he was looking at and he looked at me with genuine surprise. He answered that my dad was there. I could see him smiling. He nodded and then said my dad was leaving (to walk down the lane way) and he’d be back. John didn’t remember telling my daughter and I this but we had many talks over the next weeks. He told me that he knew there was something beyond the life that we have here. He promised he would always be near me. He told me that he would be the wind blowing past me, that I would feel him if I could quiet my mind. I see him when I dream (which is very rare now). Now I have to be strong and rebuild my life. I need to be good so that when it is my time to die that I will be reunited with John. We will spend eternity together. I believe this with my whole heart.
So I have decided I’m going to start new tomorrow. I’m going to eat better, sleep better, move more, listen to happy music and be productive. I’m going to try and heal my heart, never forgetting John but working towards being a person that he would be proud of. Then someday we will be together again and spend forever united.
Forever and all ways.
My husband has been gone for two months now. The days drag on but I can never remember what day of the week it is. I don’t sob very often anymore but I cry every day. Every day. When people ask me how I feel the only way I can describe it is that I feel empty. I am not complete. My heart is missing.
I went back to Florida for a very short time. I went with my goddaughter Zoe for some girl bonding time. She is heading off to university this fall and I have barely seen her in years. Not because I didn’t want to see her but she lives a very busy life. She models professionally and when she is not modeling she is studying. It was nice being with her as she actually spent the time with me and not with her phone. A week from now I’ll see her again when I go to Halifax to see her off to university. Seems like it was yesterday when she was born.
I’m feeling very stressed these days. I’ve finally started the house renovations. I called a contractor and am waiting for the quote on my dining room ceiling and getting the hardwood installed in my family room. It is time for the house to be fixed and I can’t do it alone. My family has been helping me. We have a dumpster and have filled it. There was a major leak in the basement and the flooring was ruined and moldy. My son and his girlfriend are now going to have two rooms … One for sleeping and one for hanging out in. I want to get my room finished this week. John’s closet and dresser empty. I want to renovate my ensuite and I can’t do it until my room is clean. Everything is such a mess.
But the biggest cause for stress that I have is there is this woman that owes me money. A friend of mine told me she said was happy that John died, that in fact he deserved it. She said many horrible things that I won’t repeat here and now she refuses to pay me the money she owes. She doesn’t owe me a fortune but she does owe me money. What bothers me the most is what she is saying about my husband. I am taking her to court. I will spend whatever I have to in order to make her pay. Only because she is so heartless.
I also have gone back to work. I am self-employed and I took enough time off. We were supposed to be retired this year but now that John is gone I don’t think I want to sit around doing nothing all day so I have decided to go back to work. I’ll see how this goes … Being self employed is hard work but it is better than just sitting here waiting to die.
I have written out my draft will and given it to the lawyer. I want to get my affairs in order so I can stop thinking about that aspect of my life too. Once my will and POA is completed I will begin training my son and daughter on how to run the family business. Maybe when that is all finished that I will start to heal.
Grief is a very strange emotion. One moment I can be going about my daily business and then suddenly I feel as though all the life has been sucked out of me. I sob. I have never sobbed before in my life. In that moment I feel … totally broken. I remember how depressed I was after my dad died but it doesn’t even touch this grief. I still am struggling to go look to the future. All I want to do is get my affairs in order so that I can die. I know I probably have 20 more years left in me but I’m counting them down in my heart.
I had a hard time sleeping last night as I kept thinking about my husband. Then today my son, grandson and I started to clean out the garage. I was still having a hard time keeping my emotions in check so my grandson didn’t notice that I was upset. Everything I touched in the garage reminded me of my husband, how we were going to renovate our house together this year. I was on the edge of tears all day. Then I opened a box and found a card from my husband. It was like getting a hug from my husband.