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

 

Last Perfect Day

Today I hate FaceBook. A memory came up that is hard to deal with.
 
One year ago today I had my last perfect day. I remember as though it was yesterday. John and I were in Florida at our condo. John decided to sleep in a bit because we were going to have a busy day. He was still building his strength up after the corrective surgery he had in January. He was feeling better, eating more, smiling more and we were feeling positive. At this point it never occurred to us that he wouldn’t recover and we were happy. The sky was so blue that day and it was warm and breezy out.
 
John got up, showered, changed and had breakfast. He was in such a good mood. We were meeting friends for lunch at a restaurant about an hour away from our condo. We left around 11 and drove leisurely along Gulf Blvd so we could enjoy the beauty of the day. I was driving and John was enjoying the sunshine. We were laughing, reminiscing about all the places along the route. I could see John was so much stronger and happier.
 
We arrived to the restaurant before our friends so we walked around looking at the water. This restaurant is beautiful (Pier 22 in Bradenton). The building was built in 1928 and had a breathtaking view of the Manatee River. We walked along, mindful that John didn’t want to get overtired early. Our friends arrived and we were seated in the restaurant.
 
John was on fire that day. He was chatty, happy talking about work and happy being in the company of old friends. My friend Lisa mentioned how thin John was but I reassured her that we had heard back from the doctor from the tests were all negative and that John just needed time to recover. The doctor had told us there were no signs of cancer, that it was pancreatitis and he would be fine in time. John had a good lunch, ate sushi and crab. He was laughing and having so much fun.
 
Afterwards we walked hand in hand back to the van feeling better than we had since the whole journey started back in October. John was tired but happy.
 
When we got home he napped and we had a light dinner. Afterwards we went over to our neighbour a couple of doors down and had a glass of wine and chatted. We went to bed happy, tired from the sunshine, wine and long drive.
 
The following week we stayed close to home as John was taking a tax course. Even “semi-retired” John felt it was important to keep taking these courses. He was always looking forward to the future.
 
He didn’t really have another perfect day. He was tired, not eating and quiet. We went to a couple of Spring training games for the Jays but he only lasted 2 or 3 innings. Ten days after our perfect day John flew home to see our family doctor as we felt he was not recovering as planned.
 
Eventually it was our family doctor that diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer. All the specialists and surgeon missed it. I don’t think the end result would have been any different if we had known back in February but at least I had that one last perfect day with him.
 
So if you actually read this … I’m not looking for your pity or sorrow. I just want you to make sure you live each day to the fullest and show the people you love that you love them. Don’t just tell them, you need to show them. You never know when your last perfect day will be.

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.

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

Happy Anniversary

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.

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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

 

 

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.

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.