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

 

Suicide is Painless

The theme song from MASH often goes through my head these days.  I am so tired of reading people’s posts on social media saying there is always someone out there ready to listen to you if you want to commit suicide.  This always seems to happen whenever a famous person kills themselves.  There have been a few suicides lately and everyone is so surprised that it happened and everyone jumps on the mental illness bandwagon. Apparently all these people are “THERE” for you so you don’t have to kill yourself.   BULLSHIT.  OK .. I said it … it is total BULLSHIT.  If someone wants to kill themselves they will do it and you posting on Facebook that you are always available to talk if someone needs it is crap too.

I will admit that over the past year I’ve thought about suicide many, many times.  After John was diagnosed and when he passed the heart ache was so intense that I would have preferred to die rather than endure it.  The thought still crosses my mind at times but it is becoming less and less and more fleeting now rather than serious contemplation about ending my life.

So why don’t I believe people will be “there” for me if I’m thinking of suicide is because where were they when I was deep in my grief?  After the funeral I found people that were here while John was dying suddenly deserted me.  They were giving me space to grieve, or so they thought.  What they really were doing was leaving me alone to try and deal with everything alone.  Everyone else went on with their lives and really didn’t give me a second thought,

Two woman that I counted among my closest friends turned their backs on me.  The first one was someone that I became friends with about 9 years ago and I spent a great deal of time with.  We were very close and I thought she was my best friend.  Since she lives in Florida and I live in Canada we often texted or messaged each other but that has ended.  Once John’s illness began she basically disappeared from my life.  I didn’t even get a card when John died.  She is super friendly when we run into each other but there is no contact anymore unless I see her in person.    I lost my closest friend at the same time as when I lost my husband.

The other friend I lost was someone I knew since my children were young.  I don’t want to go into it here but she told me she could not be there for me as she had enough going on in her life.  I was gobsmacked because I never shared any of my grief with her as I didn’t see her until about 9 months after John died.  When we met I worked very hard to keep the conversation happy and positive so I was just devastated when this woman told me that she was cutting me out because of my pain.  She stopped following me on Facebook because I was “liking” posts dealing with grief and it depressed her.

So two people that I thought would be there for me made it clear that I was on my own.  Both of those women posted on Facebook that they would be there for someone if they were contemplating suicide.  Hypocrites!!!

Over the past year I rarely have anyone ASK me how I feel.  They TELL me instead.  I’m so tired of being told I’m such a strong woman and it is wonderful to see how I’ve moved on with my life.  You know, John would want it that way.  It is just so uplifting for them to see I’m doing so well.  What they don’t see are the days I’m sobbing and my son has to sit beside me to comfort me.  They don’t see the days that I don’t move from the love seat, looking outside at life going about its business and I just can’t move.  I’m exhausted from crying.  I don’t sleep.  People don’t see the days that I am so numb that I can’t even read or even go outside.  All they see is me smiling, talking and looking like I’m having fun.  Those times probably add up to less than 10% of the hours I have been without John.  Over 90% of the time I’m depressed, lost and struggling to move on.  But I do move on.  I am getting stronger but I am not there yet.  Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

I’m not saying I don’t have a support system.  I have my children, my brother, nephew and a few close friends.  But there is not this massive outpouring of humanity from other people that I considered my friends or family.

I shouldn’t have to post that I’m struggling, I shouldn’t have to put on a brave face all the time, I shouldn’t have to act strong (other than for my children … and boy does my son get the raw end there but that is because he lives with me.  I wouldn’t have survived this year without his help.)  Instead of posting words saying you are always there, how about you actually BE there for someone.  How about you reach out to someone that has suffered a loss, a death, divorce, loss of job, loss of a relationship and you be there for them?  How about you look over your telephone screen and see the hurt in front of you and do something about it?  Posting things about mental illness on social media does nothing for the person, please, actually care enough to reach out and touch someone in person.  If you don’t you’ll be clogging up your feed with another post saying how surprised you were when so and so killed themselves without reaching out.  And those posts depress the shit out of me.

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…
That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it’s too late, and…
The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say.
The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
And to another give my seat
For that’s the only painless feat.
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works it’s way on in
The pain grows stronger… watch it grin, but…
A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied ‘oh why ask me?’
‘Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.
… and you can do the same thing if you please.
Songwriters: MANDEL, JOHNNY / ALTMAN, MICHAEL B
Suicide Is Painless lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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.

 

 

 

The Four Musketeers

It was decided that we would combine our offices and move in together in October 1976.  I went into this merger apprehensive.  I had a good relationship with my boss Tim, but didn’t feel comfortable with George and John.  We moved into an older building and had the upper two floors above a law office (my uncle was a lawyer at the firm).  There were three offices, two large (one with a private bathroom) and one smaller office.  The reception area was set apart from offices and was quite private also.  George got the small office, Tim got the bigger office with the view and John got the office with the private closet and bathroom.

Right from the beginning I knew that John would be the leader in the group.  Every Monday morning John would meet with me to go over the weekly plan.  He rarely smiled at me and was very abrupt when dealing with me.  It was hard for me to get a read on him.  When nervous I talk so I must have talked his ear off.  His partners were content to let John run things while they did their work.  Tim was the social partner.  He knew every lawyer, every banker and worked the crowds.  Most of his time was spent doing promotional work, he would land the client and George or John would service them.  George was a workhorse when it came to the client files.  He worked fast and could produce several files a week but tended to make sloppy errors.  His goal was to be home with his beautiful wife and he didn’t want to be at work a moment longer than necessary.

Four over 4 years we worked together, often more than the standard 40 hours a week.  During tax season we would work 70 or so hours a week just to get the work out.  None of us really minded though since we felt that we were a team. As we got busier we hired additional staff.  Over the years together I became the office manager with John as the managing partner.  We expanded and opened an office in Toronto.  While staff came and went the four of us were as close as the four musketeers!

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.

 

And My World Changed

I remember everything about the day I met John. I was 20 years old and was hired to be the secretary for an accountant in a nearby town.  I had been working in Toronto for just over a year in a large office but I was tired of the commute.  In March 1976 I decided I wanted a change in my life and moved out of a large bullpen into a two person office.  I settled into the office and one morning my boss Tim gave me a set of financial statements to type up.  He told me to make sure I stay within one inch margins because the guy I was typing them for was VERY picky.  I very carefully typed up these statements (remember .. these were the days where there were no computers, I had an IBM selectric typewriter).

On Friday these two men return with my boss (Tim) after lunch.  I was surprised at the difference between the new men, one was tall, thin, calm and blonde and the other was shorter with a bushy beard and almost a frantic way about him.  The tall man sat down across from me and asked for the statements.  Tim off handedly said “This is John and George” and I immediately thought of the Beatles.

I passed the statements to John and without even a look at me he took the ruler from my desk and started to measure the margins.  Now, I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m an introvert but I’m not a wall flower.  I’m a strong person and I don’t like being pushed around or insulted.  I immediately got my back up when John started to measure the margins of the statements I typed.

He leaned back, looked at me and said, “They are fine”.

I said, “Fine? Fine? They are perfect.”   I gave him a look that surprised him.  He handed me a package of paper and asked me to photocopy several copies of the statements and bind them.  It was only then that I saw the paper was framed like a picture frame and the statements had to sit inside the frame.  He apologized for his tone to me and I could see the other two men were shocked by this change in John.  John asked me what I thought of the letterhead and I told him it was old fashioned and dated and not something a progressive firm would use.  He never ordered that paper again.

The three men talked in Tim’s office while I copied and bound the statements.  I could hear them laughing and for some reason I could feel the tension in my entire body.  I went in and handed John the statements and could feel his eyes on me.  When John and George left Tim turned to me and told me I better get used to them because he had just agreed to go into partnership with them and I would be joining them.   We were to become the Four Musketeers.

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.