Another Ending

I no longer own a piece of paradise in Florida.  It sold a few days ago.  I know it was the right thing to do … to sell it … but it still has taken another piece of my heart.

John loved our condo.  He worked so hard making it perfect for us.  He laid the floors, painted the walls, put the trim up, designed the kitchen and built me a beautiful craft area.  It was our dream that beginning October 2016 we would spend our “semi-retirement” there.  I knew he was happy sitting out on the lanai looking out at the golfers and palm trees reading his book and he knew I’d keep busy working on various crafts.  I planned to knit, sew, draw and paint there.  Over the past 9 years we slowly moved all this stuff down there so we’d have lots to do while we were there.  Then life changed everything.

 

(John’s chair and view from his chair)

It just wasn’t the same for me there without John.  My friends Don & Tena took such good care of me, inviting me out almost every day, but it doesn’t fill the void.  I could see John in every corner, I could hear his voice and I could almost feel him there.  But instead of feeling comfort I just felt lonely and empty.  I wanted to be home with my children.

I have been home a week now.  It is been a hard week for me because I need to work on filing an estate return for John in order to get my funds for the sale of the condo. It means I have to go through all the paperwork of his death again.  I spent one day (the day I had to pick up a death certificate from the Purolator office) in tears.  It was almost like I lost John all over again.

I know people think I am strong but I’m not.  John kept telling me I was strong and I could get through this but I think he was wrong.  I go to bed every single night thinking I’m one day closer to when I’ll see John again.  Cross another day off the calendar.  Another one down … how many left? I need to get everything in order first, the house, the business and my estate so that the children are taken care of when I die.

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.

Home Again

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.

 

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!

 

Running on Empty

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

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.

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One Month Later

One month ago today my husband died.  Died.  And I am overwhelmed with grief.

I never thought it would be like this for me.  My husband would always tell me he was going to die first because I was the stronger of the two of us.  He was wrong because I’ve discovered I’m not strong at all.

Over the past ten days I was in Florida.  I had to go there to pick up my husband’s van that we left there when I left suddenly to come home to be with him.  John had flown home early to have a CT Scan done on his kidneys and to get a head start on tax season.  My son-in-law and grandson was with me in Florida and we were all going to leave at the same time.  After my husband was gone for just a couple of days I felt I had to come home to be with him.  He wasn’t complaining of being ill or anything, I just wanted to be with him so I flew home and left his van in Florida.

Laura, my granddaughter Emily and her friend Cassie accompanied me on this trip.  Laura worked hard at trying to make me have fun.  We went out for dinner at places that my husband and I went to to make new memories.  People would see the photos and comment how good I looked.  But inside I felt numb, forcing myself to smile.  I was afraid (and still am) for people to touch me.  I don’t want anyone to touch me anymore because the pain is so close to the surface that I’m afraid if they touch me I’ll break down.  I alternate between feeling totally numb to crying and then feeling panic building inside of me.  I can’t believe I still have tears left inside of me.

I actually felt good walking into the condo that John and I owned.  We decorated it together and we loved it there.  It felt good to be there and I felt close to John.  I felt I would be ok there because there are several people there that have lost their spouse (the joy of being in an over 55 community).  When I went to the pool the three people that I thought would give me words of wisdom and comfort surprised me with what they said to me.  The two ladies told me that the pain never goes away and I’ll hold it until the day I die.  I had expected them to tell me it would lessen over time and I’d be able to go on.  I went to see a good friend that lives downstrairs from me and I told her what they said and how surprised I was at their answer.  She looked at me (she’s 76 and lost the love of her life many years ago and remarried 25 years ago) and she said, “honey, they are the first people that are being honest with you.”

I now understand why some long term couples die days apart.  My heart actually hurts at times.  I think of John and the pain in my chest is intense.  I can’t breathe.  I feel like I have to go somewhere but I can’t figure out where to go.  I realize that I want to be where John is and that is not possible.  My focus right now is to get everything in order for my kids for when I die.  I want everything laid out for them so they know where to go and what to do when it is my time to die.  It will take some time I believe John left this for me to do so it would give me some purpose to go on.

Month one over .. Verdict … I barely survived.  I don’t know how I will go on without John. I’m not sure how to live with my heart gone.