Come Monday It Will Be Alright

john-toronto

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

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.

 

10 Months and Counting

I realize I haven’t posted for some time.  I’ve been struggling, but in a new way.  It seems I have battle after battle to fight, whether they are legal or tax challenges that relate to my husband’s death.  I’m just so tired.  I am doing tax returns this year and all the clients that come to see me want to talk about John.  It is not easy to tell the story over and over again.  I never want to cry in front of them.  Everyone makes a comment like “you are an inspiration to all of us”, or “you are so strong” or the one I hate most “you look great” (because I have lost weight).  I am not an inspiration, not strong and I feel like shit.  They don’t realize that as soon as everyone is gone that I cry.  I wake up crying, go to sleep crying.  I feel like crap.

This week has been one of the worst I’ve had in a long time.  I don’t want to rehash everything but my company is being audited by CRA (this is a non-issue but just frustrating right now), I had to file the estate tax return for my husband for the IRS because we held property in the US and had issues with my new car.  On top of all that it is tax season and I have had so many clients here this week and employee who barely shows up.  There are no excuses during tax season not to be at work! So I’ve had even a rougher go the last little while.  On top of that I’m having heart tests done.  I’m not trying to be a doctor but I know there is a problem.  I’ve always had a weird thing with my heart where it races and sometimes I get light headed and feel faint.  But now I’m getting worried.  It happens more and more lately.  I hope it is just that I need a pacemaker to regulate the heartbeat or medication.  I have always said I don’t want open heart surgery and now … well even more so now.  If my heart is physically broken it can match my emotional heart.

Now I feel like I need to wrap things up.  Get things organized.  Make sure my son can take care of himself (he actually finishes college today).  I need to train him and my daughter on taking over the business or simply close it down.  I have a “to do” list.

If I’m to move forward I need to change that attitude.  Find something to live for.  My kids are all self sufficient so once my list is done I don’t need to “live” for them.

My next blog I will begin telling stories from my past.  How I met John, how we fell in love, how our life was together.  I’ll tell stories from my childhood and leave an online legacy.  Gives me something to do.

Forever and all ways … I will love you John.

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.

Why Do I Write?

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.

 

 

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.