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.

 

The Circle of Life

LETTER FROM A MOTHER TO A DAUGHTER:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

– Unknown

I read this on Facebook today and cried.  I see myself in this scenario .. in my relationship with my own mother and I pray this won’t happen to me as I age.  Now my mother is past help .. she suffers from Alzheimer’s and rarely recognizes me.  I do know I am guilty of every point listed above and, for that, I am sorry.  I do try, I try so hard to be patient with her over the last 20 years but it was difficult at times.  Now I go and sit with her and she is grateful for the company but really doesn’t realize I’m her daughter.

I do get confused thinking about this because I have always had this unusual relationship with my mother.  In many ways, I was the mother … even though she had a totally different relationship with my sister and my brother.  My mother would lay out all her problems to me to solve rather than be there to support me.  I can’t remember a time when I felt that she took care of me.  My father cared for me when I was small.  To my mother I was always the anchor in her relationship with my dad.  She married him in order to have her other two children supported and she looked at my dad as her meal ticket.  Eventually I became the negotiator in her relationship with my father, I took care of her instead of the other way around.  So yes, there were times I was impatient, arrogant, bitchy and short with her.

My mother has contributed to the person I am.  I am strong and able to function on my own.  I don’t “need” people to solve my problems.  I don’t share my worries or feelings easily.  I will downplay any health concerns because I want to handle it on my own.  I don’t like to appear weak to my family.  I am the mother of my family.  I need to be strong for my children and they need to know they can count on me to be there for them.  My husband and children are my world.  I would do anything for them and would be devastated if they felt I was a burden to them.

Recently my husband’s ex-wife’s husband died.  (Whew … what a sentence.)  He died after suffering from cancer for a year.  He had always had health issues and personal issues.  He was a recovering alcoholic.  Even before his cancer they would pressure my two stepdaughters to take care of things for them.  Now that he has passed away their mother has gone into this “take care of me” mode.  Suddenly she can’t manage her money, take care of her home or her health.  She has now talked her youngest daughter into  selling her condo and buying a house together.  On the surface this looks like a good idea but neither one has equity in their current homes and are taking on a $300,000 mortgage.  The mother is over 60 … how many more years does she expect to work?  She doesn’t have any RRSP’s or savings to draw on once she retires, all she has is a small insurance settlement that won’t last long.  She wants someone to take care of her and she is looking at her daughters as her way out of the responsibility of life.

I don’t want pity from anyone.  I just want to be loved.  There may be a time that my husband and I move in with one of our children but we will want a separate area and I will remain independent.  We would sell our house and put towards the new home (whomever I live with will get part of the inheritance early).   It would be a win win situation.  The six months a year I live there I would help my children any way I could.  I would be an asset and not a liability to my children.  If neither of my children aren’t interested in that arrangement then we will move to a senior’s apartment but I would hate wasting all that money on rent.  I would rather the money end up helping my children in their lives.

I am terrified that I will end up like my mother.  I don’t want to live in a nursing home, alone and confused.  I totally agree with my father, the day I can’t drive anymore is the day I want to die.    I want to be strong, eccentric and loving until the day I die.  I want to be me.