Jordan

June 7, 2012

Petra + me = Love 4 Ever

I just got back from a mostly great trip to Jordan! One of the reasons for the break in posting.  I have always wanted to go to Jordan and see Petra (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  Some friends of Chris’s told us they were moving to Jordan before he died and we decided we would go visit them. After Chris died I went back and forth about whether to go or not.  I tried to find someone to go with me, but didn’t have any luck. 

There is nothing I find more frustrating than feeling like I can’t do something because I can’t find someone to come along. I felt this way before I met Chris, but it has gotten even worse now.  It highlights how much I have lost.  So one particularly bad night in April, I said fuck it and booked a plane ticket and a few weeks ago I traveled to Jordan.

It was awesome. Petra (picture of me in purple to the left), Jerash, the Dead Sea … it was amazing to see these sites and check something off my bucket list.  I enjoyed seeing my friends and they were great hosts.  There were times where I was on my own and rather than just hang around their house, I ventured out on my own. 

With the help of a hired driver, I went and saw the ruins in Jerash and a medieval castle in Ajloun.  It was the middle of the week and neither site was crowded.  Often I was the only person in a particular ruin, exploring. It was kind of cool. I felt almost like Indiana Jones. The picture below is a ruin I explored on my own. It was so quiet and peaceful.

Temple of Zeus in Jerash

But like a lot of things with grief and widowhood, it is a double-edged sword.  The independence gives me strength and confidence, but it highlights the loneliness. This is an experience I will never share with someone. There will be no joint retelling of what we did and what it was like. If I don’t remember it, no one will.  It is a strange and sad transition from my life with Chris.  

This was exacerbated by the fact that I know Chris would have loved this trip.  Seeing the site, eating the food, spending time with his friends. It would have been a trip he remembered for the rest of his life.  So there was significant sadness tingeing the edges of this trip.

But I did it. I traveled to the Middle East by myself and had a memorable trip.  I have thought for a while, that if I can just get to a point where I don’t mind traveling alone, then I can do this. I can live another 40, 50 years on my own and still have an adventure filled life.  Maybe even one that has more adventure than if Chris were alive and we had started a family.  I don’t know.  I go between the loneliness and  hope.  For right now I am hopeful and I will take it.

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Our Last Night Together

April 25, 2012

This night* two years ago, Chris and I spent our last night together. We had both had early dinner plans, I with a friend from work, he with the lacrosse team he coached.  We had talked about cancelling and just going home, but I am glad he got to see his kids one more time.

A shirtless Chris, napping on the couch

I beat him home and I remember being so impatient for him to get home.  Once he was home we did our standard cuddling on the couch watching tv, snuggled under a blanket.  I remember so vividly how we held each other and talked about how happy we were and how much we never wanted to be apart.  That we were meant to be together forever.  I asked him never to leave me and he said “Where would I go?”

We had no idea that was our last night together.  That as we lay there full of love and joy, he was dying.  He had less than 12 hours to live.  Dear God how can that be?

Even now I still cannot believe he is gone.  How could we be parted?  I know our last night together was a gift.  That God wanted us to be certain of the strength and joy of our love.  It is excrutiating to remember how happy we were and how much Chris loved me.  The loss is beyond words.

Baby, 

I love you.  I miss you every minute of everyday.  I can’t believe it has been two years since the last time we shared an evening and a bed.  How are you dead? I still do not understand.

All I know is that you live on in another form. That you haven’t really left me, just transformed. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

I will be beside you in time.

Your wife,

Meredith

 

*The anniversary is techincally Saturday (28th), but Chris died on a Wednesday and in many ways I feel the anniversary is tomorrow

 

What should have been our second wedding anniversary was last Monday.  I survived it.  Last year’s anniversary was terrible.  It would have been our first and I never believed it would actually come.  That God, Chris, the universe, whatever would let our anniversary come and go without Chris being there.  I had a nervous breakdown, broke out in hives, and generally just had to focus on getting through the day second by second.

This year was better in some ways.  I didn’t have a nervous breakdown and did all I could really to just treat it like any other day.  I went on a trip that was good and relaxing and not at all related to my life with Chris.  Minus a panic attack when we stopped to help a car that had flipped, it was overall a relaxing weekend. 

In other ways it is worse.  For me it feels like there is nothing positive about our anniversary.  Honestly, I don’t even want to call it that since well we didn’t make it to a full year of marriage.  There is no marriage to celebrate. There is no “we made it another year together and are happy and still in love” sentiments.  There are no years of memories or traditions we created for this day.  All it brings up is our wedding, which is still just a jumble of painful memories.  For me our wedding, in fact anything involving weddings, is part of the trauma of Chris’s death. It causes anxiety and panic, depression, all of the darkest parts of grief.  Sometimes it is easier for me to just forget it or escape it. 

So I went on a trip to the desert.  Where I stayed at a ranch with a few friends.  I did a lot of riding (more on that later).  Went to the spa, knit, read and tried to focus on the time I was having at the moment.  The past is over, our anniversary is now just another day, and I can’t live in it if I am going to survive. The past is too painful and there is nothing I can do to bring it back or make it less painful. 

Once again, I find myself (the widow’s creed) saying “I survived” to another shitty day.

 

I think I need this blog again

September 21, 2011

So I went on hiatus.  Many people do for various reasons.  I felt back in the late spring that I needed a break; that writing on this blog was too painful for me. 

Now, 4-5 months later, I think not writing on this blog is painful for me.  I am not sure what changed or when it changed.

So hello again.

I have had a terrible week.  One of the worst in a while and I feel fairly alone.  Mostly in the sense of being able to express where I am and how I am doing.  Part of it is my fault.  I am not good with spoken words.  I really can’t get out what I am feeling. I have always been better on “paper”.  Where I can think and switch and replace until I feel like what I want I have down is what I mean.  No one tries to add to it and I don’t alter it for the audience.  It is purely me.

It has also been made clear to me recently, that many can no longer deal with my pain.  It is very disheartening because I try very hard to keep the worst of it to myself and God.  I don’t complain and whine and cry for hours. I generally try to focus my time with people on that time, what we are doing.  I felt so demoralized to hear that my efforts have been wasted.  Why do I bother?  It makes me want to retreat more.  To simplify and minimize my life to a nice little controllable box.

I have spent so much energy trying to keep engaged in life, even if it is different. I volunteer, I have a few new hobbies, I plan things to do on a somewhat frequent basis.  I go to work. I support myself.  I am still alive.  I think I have done fairly well considering the trauma and shock and grief of Chris’s death.

I just feel very sick about it and the most helpless and ready to give up I have felt in a year. 

How do I pick myself back up again?  Well I thought writing about it might help.  Since speaking is so hard.

I know another problem I have that makes it hard for me to share, is that I am an independent person.  Chris is the exception to this.  Outside of him, I have never really wanted any inputs in my decisions, any opinions on how I look or feel.  As time has gone on, with something as personal and deep as my grief for Chris and our family that will never exist,  I have stopped talking about it with those I am close to who have a stake in my life (family and friends).  I just can’t handle their input, at any level.  What do they know of being widowed at 28, only 6 months married? 

I have always been a grin and bear it kind of person (when I did one of those silly online quizzes, my guiding philosophies were Stoicism, Utilitarianism, and Realism).  So my internalizing of my grief from my family and friends feels comfortable to me, like an old wound that is flaring up (not that the wound from Chris’s death is old).  It is easier to share with people outside these circles.  I share with my support group and I share with my therapist, I share with God, and now with this blog again.  For me, this is the most comfortable, the most bearable, the most palatable. 

You do not have a stake in how I am other than a general support and well wishing.  You do not care about my moods or my approaches or my habits.

I am struggling and I am trying to find methods to deal with it that suits my personality so I can survive.  For me it is more in the written word not the spoken.

Thank you for reading, those of you who do.

A stranger

June 1, 2011

I went to dinner with Chris’s folks tonight.  It is always nice to see them and catch up, but it can also be hard.  I don’t know how to explain it other than being with them reminds me of a life I will never have.

They talk about Chris and he sounds so real. They knew him for longer for his entire 30 years. 

I feel like Chris is so unreal to me.  He is a figment of my imagination as if I made him up to hurt myself.  Like we were never together, never married.

Chris to me was the daily things.  The phone calls, the tv shows, the books, brushing teeth together, talking on our porch.  Without those daily connections, I don’t know who he is.  I don’t know who I was with him. Our relationship is gone, it is over.

For me, the moments of peace, of heaven on earth were just being with him.  Just sitting or laying next to him, feeling him close.  Without that, I don’t have him.

I have spent the last 13 months without Chris. It is still painful to talk about him.  The happy memories are still drowning in pain.  I can survive the day.  I am function.  Walking, with no direction, but walking.  In many ways I don’t want to dredge up the memories, I don’t want to remember my old life, the life I always wanted.  The pain is too much.  I have finally carved enough space to get through the day.  The wound has a slight healing and I don’t want to open it up.  The pain is too great. 

It is like my heart has put up a walls between Chris and I so that I can keep going.  It makes me sad. It makes me ache, but I learned over the last year to trust my heart and my brain.  They know what I need to do to heal.

The night before the anniversary of Chris’s death, I got sick.  The last year of stress and pain finally took its toll.  It wasn’t anything serious, but it sapped me of energy while I was fighting the pain of the anniversary.

I am just now dragging myself out of the fog.

I had been bracing myself to get sick since Chris died. I read all sorts of books and pamphlets that say your immune system is very compromised during grief . 

Being sick without Chris was hard.  He always took care of me when I was sick, and not having him to pamper me, made me feel so lonely and hopeless.  How will I go through a lifetime of sickness without him?  How will I go through aging and potential fatal illness some day without him?  I will have to be a burden on someone else, impose on their good will.

I know these are silly things to think of, but I do think of them.

I am feeling mostly better, but could probably still use a few days of uninterrupted rest so I can kick the cough and get my voice back (I lost my voice over two weeks ago and it still isn’t fully back)

Anyway, I have been thinking about all the other widows and widowers out there the last few weeks and wishing everyone some peace and a way to ease their loneliness.

It has been a while …

April 26, 2011

I have been MIA, I know.  The last month has been interesting.  It has been hard and grueling, spending more time alone and less time sleeping.  I am running low on energy.  Posting seemed like too much effort.  Plus what did I have to say that hadn’t been said?  The ups and downs are still going up and down.  But there have been some shifts.

The beginning of April was a low point.  I couldn’t believe so much time had passed.  The weather took me back to last spring when he died, when he was dying.  It made me sick. 

Then the numbness came back.  Thank God; it was welcome.

Then the anger.  By God I was so angry at Chris I could barely breathe.  I was tired of the pain, of my life being ruined and over, of having to clean up his mess and putting his affairs in order.  Even now, a year later, I still have stuff to tie up.  I was so angry I could have beat him.  He has disappointed me more than any other man in my life. It was unintentional and he wouldn’t have chosen it, but it happened.  Sometime I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better off without him.  I had him for such a short time and the pain of being without him is so great, that I am not sure it was worth it.  (sacrilege, I know).    I don’t think I want to ever get married again. I have no desire to be put through this again.  To entangle my life, just to detangle it again.  No thanks.

The anger has passed (for now), the numbness has passed (for now) and I am left in an odd place.  I don’t know how to describe it other than resignation mixed with sadness and the need to be free from pain.  I have come around to know (most days) that my marriage is over, that I can no longer expect Chris to fill the role of loving husband or expect myself to play the role of wife.  My love for him lasts,  but our relationship as it manifests on Earth is over. That I am on my own.  Only I can clean up my mess.  Only I can choose to grab grief by the balls and keep walking.  Only I can focus on the present and what I have.  Only I will feel the pain and loss of Chris as a husband and soul mate. Only I can walk this path.  

Where does this leave me, facing the anniversary of Chris’s death?  It leaves me feeling stronger and more independent.  Tired of being a widow, having to sever my ties to Chris as my husband.  Lonely, but determined to use it for good.  Closer to God than I have ever been in my life.  Living with a completely altered world view.  More tired and world-weary than I could have imagined.  Confused, numb, sad, lost, but tinged with a sense of wanting to survive to live.  To cut myself free from a painful past, to enjoy the present, and not worry too much about a future which stretches on frighteningly. 

I don’t know it sounds like a lot of drivel to me when I read it.  I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I guess I have stopped trying to know and it is starting to set me free.

Basement update

March 24, 2011

WARNING:  This is not an uplifting as a post despite my hopes I could write one. 

The basement renovation is coming along.  The sheet rock is up.  It looks completely different down there.  It makes me sad.

It makes me so sad that Chris will never get to enjoy it.  That our children will never get to play down there.  That most nights, it will be me sitting down there alone.  It seems like such a waste. 

Some friends have seen it and are really excited. But it is the” trying too hard to be positive” excited.  Like they think having the renovation done will somehow fix me.  I know they are tired of seeing me in pain and they want the old me back, but it annoys me because their lives have gone on and mine is over.

I am anxious about when it will be done, because then what.  What will I do then?  Move around furniture and redecorate?  I guess so, but I can’t muster up any energy to care. 

I have to pick things out and I spend more money than I should because some part of me things it will make me feel better, or maybe it’s that it doesn’t care, or that I just want to do something, and picking the more expensive option of tile is something.  I was never much of a spender so it is very odd for me.

Our rehearsal dinner. I cared then. I cared a lot.

 
 
 
 
 
 Sigh, I really do feel like I am backsliding.  I feel so hopeless, anxious, afraid, alone, depressed … blah blah blah.  You all know the drill.  And everyone wants me to be better, and I don’t care.

As the days continue and I get closer to the anniversary of Chris’s death, I can feel my anxiety going through the roof. It is a little over a month away and I am not sure I can handle it.  I don’t want it to come.

Everything about spring.  The weather, the birds chirping, the smell, the sunshine, reminds of the time Chris died and it makes me feel sick.   I find I have to do my breathing exercises more often.  I find the days and hours harder to get through.  I find my nights are more fitful.  

I am reliving the day he died and the days afterwards more and more.  They are harder now, as I know what it all means.  At the time I was in too much shock to understand. But now I do.  I know what all of the moments of the day mean, and now the pain is at its worst. 

Everytime the phone rings, my heart races taking me back to when I got the phone call from the hospital, waiting for something else awful to happen.

I don’t think I will make it through the next month.  The dread and pain are so great. It often feels like too much.  How much pain can one person suffer?

How will I spend that day?  How could I find a way to possibly spend that day.  I want to do something that marks the day that stands up says this day sucks, but we love Chris.  I kind of want to do a memorial service, something religious and that would give me the chance to eulogize Chris, which I haven’t been able to since then.  But I don’t feel like I have any energy or sanity really to plan anything.

Those of you who have survived the first year anniversary, do you have any advice?

Broken emotional bones?

February 7, 2011

I am broken without you baby

I have been wondering why it is so hard for me to do simple things: schedule a hair cut, meet up with friends, call friends back, do laundry, walk in my door, etc. …

I think it is because I am broken and it is painful to do pretty much anything.  People in deep grief should be compared to someone who has broken every bone in their body, torn every muscle and now has to heal these wounds, learn to use them again (sit, stand, walk, run) and do it all while experiencing great pain.  Would we expect this person to be able to walk normally at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 2 years?  How long does it take to gain back basic functioning?

I feel like those around us would find it easier to understand the physical version. They would recognize the pain and that you are severely damaged and healing will take years and that you will never quite move the same. Their expectations would be different, more realistic I think.

As it is, I think it is hard for them, and me, to understand to the depths that my heart and soul have been damaged and how much I have to learn about the new me, the new life, the new world I am in.  That I can’t be expected to run a marathon (emotional equivalent: go to a friend’s wedding?, be a superstar at work?, not be continually overwhelmed by life?) or even walk a mile.  The fact that I am standing and I dressed myself should be considered a miracle.  That I have moments where I can laugh and enjoy my family and try to focus on how much Chris and I loved each other should be considered extraordinary.

I crave an external sign of my pain so that others can see my wounds and I don’t have to find a way to struggle to communicate to those who aren’t also broken by grief.