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.

 

Happy Birthday John

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.  img_0100

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.

Four Months and Counting

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.

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!

 

Lost

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.

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