28thMay

Pieces

I’m still grieving.  I’ve come to realize that I’ll probably be grieving the rest of my life.  Everything reminds me of Donnie.  I can’t listen to the radio without starting to cry.  Certain movies, certain places, certain people and it all comes down on me.

I’m trying to clean out our bedroom closet.  On the top shelf, I found a box of old newspapers.  He saved certain ones.  Two or three days of when we declared war with Iraq, two or three issues when Princess Di was killed, a few issues when a local factory burned to the ground.  Papers that meant something to him and I can’t bring myself to throw them out.

Every time I toss out some of his junk I feel like I’m throwing away a little piece of him.  All those little pieces and each one hurts and brings the grief back like it happened yesterday.

I don’t cook anymore.
Don’t simmer my spaghetti sauce or make that special bread.
I don’t sit in the spa and share a beer
and look at the moon and the stars.

I gas up the car
and check the oil and water.
I clean the windows
and use the Speedway Rewards Card.

I don’t slide between the sheets
and savor the cool crisp feel of them
while my thigh rests against yours
and your hand caresses my hair.

I didn’t know it was special.
I didn’t know it was love.
I just thought it was routine.

I can check the air in my tires
and I wash the car now and then
I put Rain X on the windows
as far as I can reach.

I’ve learned how to pay the bills
Most of them, anyway.
And I keep my eyes on the paper
to find out what’s on sale.

The bathroom door keeps hanging up
and the air conditioning isn’t coming on.
I bought a flat screen TV and put it on a table.
I don’t know how to mount it on the wall.

I found your ring
The one I bought you
In the Black Hills of South Dakota
Where the ice water is free and coffee is a dime.

The RV is still at my sister’s
I don’t know how I’ll get it home.
It’s not going anywhere anyway.
Not taking me to the Tetons or a weekend camping trip.

I just didn’t know how special it was.
That love was always in the air.
On your breath and in your smile
In a towel left on the floor.

I didn’t wash your shirt,
that one you always wore.
I folded it and put it in the drawer
and I take it out sometimes and hold it to my face.

I listen to the radio
when I’m driving in the car
and the songs make me cry
like they know how I feel.
I never noticed that before.

You know I hate that smell
of sauerkraut and sausage the moment I open the door
I didn’t know it was special
till it wasn’t special anymore.

I thought today was Thursday
but I found out that it’s Wednesday.
One day is like another
They all play out the same.

Ain’t nothin’ special anymore
it really is routine
It only seems special when I think of you.

Isn’t there a movie called Dazed and Confused?  That’s how I feel.  I can’t decide if I’m grieving, depressed, or just lazy.  I don’t want to do anything.  I get up and play mindless games on the computer for a couple of hours.  Then I go in and look at the guide on the TV to make sure I’ve set anything that might be remotely interesting to record.  I piddle around, take a shower and throw on some ratty clothes.  I might actually be productive for about an hour and then I get back on the computer for a while and kill time until the evening when I can start watching TV.

At some point, I’ll start to feel guilty because I haven’t fixed anything to eat for the kids and grandkids and I’ll go make some kind of crap and then start eating and watching TV until I fall into bed around 2:00 a.m.

Disgusting.  And I know it. But I don’t know how to stop it.  I sit on the computer playing mindless games and my thoughts wander to all the things I should do.  Get to work on the house, plan some decent meals, get some exercise, get out of the house and yet I don’t do anything.  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.

Intellectually, I know that I’m depressed and I know I have a right to be.  I’ve lost my husband, my partner, my best friend.  My mother passed away, my brother is having heart problems, I’m burdened with taking care of four grandchildren, two dogs and a cat that I shouldn’t have to care for.  My income has been cut by a third since I lost Donnie and he left me with a bunch of bills. On top of everything else, I looking at some pretty extensive surgery in the next few weeks.

On the other hand, I know I need to do something about all this.  Find a good church, reach out to friends, get some counseling, start eating right and exercising.  But I don’t.  I just can’t seem to care enough to do anything but wallow in misery.  No one sees the big picture.  This is the only place I lay it out and no one reads this.  They all know I’m struggling.  They all see a little bit of the picture but I don’t share with them how miserable it is.

I wonder sometimes if I’m just playing Russian Roulette.  Sitting around doing nothing but chain smoking and eating garbage and sleeping.  I’ve made sure everyone will be taken care of if anything happens to me and I wonder if I’m just deliberately killing myself.  I just have the attitude of “whatever happens will happen” and I can’t seem to get motivated to do anything about it.

No one knows how often I go to my bedroom and just cry.  I always thought I was a brave and adventurous person but I’ve come to realize that I was only brave because Donnie had my back.  He was always there for me and I knew I could count on him to back me up and help me out.  I think about that song Wind Beneath My Wings and I understand it now.  I just never knew it until he was gone.

I’m just digging my grave and waiting to fall in.

11thJanuary

Too much stuff!

I was sitting her contemplating getting to work on the house and feeling hopeless because there’s so much clutter and it dawned on me.  (Not really dawned on me, it’s not like I didn’t already know it). This is my house. Mine and Donnie’s.  Now Donnie is gone and it’s my house.  I have plenty of room for my stuff. I could easily deal with all my stuff but this house is also full of all of David’s stuff.  And all of Darryl’s stuff, and Steven’s stuff and Andrew’s stuff and now Jake and Scout’s stuff.  I’m taking care of two dogs and a cat and yet I don’t have any pets.

My beautiful white comforter didn’t turn out very well.  The down filling shifted and clumped up in places and it seems to have shrunk and is full of wrinkles.  Hopefully the wrinkles will smooth out and it will be bigger but I’m aggravated.  My shaggy, fuzzy cream colored rug is still damp from shampooing it and I hope I’ve covered or destroyed the dog pee scent enough that Jake and Scout’s dog won’t go back and pee on it again.  With my luck, David’s dog will decide to cover it with his own pee.

10thJanuary

Bummer

Sometimes I feel so used and abused that I can’t stand it.  It’s one of those times. Stacy pulled another one of her stunts the other day.  Called David and said she’s being evicted and he’d have to pick up the kids because they were homeless.

He went to pick them up and she sent them out with ALL of their belongings (including their chihuahua) and then started cursing David in the front yard, calling him an MF and every other vile salutation she could think of in front of the kids.  David said she was yelling and screaming so loud all the neighbors were looking out the windows. She said this is all his fault because he won’t help her out.  (Keep in mind that David has always been current on his child support and she’s refused to get a job for two years now. She also has her current boyfriend living with them for almost a year.) She and her boyfriend stood out front and yelled and screamed but wouldn’t even discuss what was going on.

Jake and Scout told David that Stacy told them it would be at least two months before they’d be coming home because she needs to “get back on her feet”.  Don’t see how that’s going to happen if she refuses to even apply for a job. David’s child support is supposed to be to help with the kids but I’m sure it doesn’t go very far when it’s the only source of income for Stacy, both boys, the dog and her boyfriend.  Bitch.

So now you can barely get through my living room because all of Jake’s and Scout’s belongings are there and I don’t know how I’m going to find room for all of it.  They love their little dog but I’m ready to throw the damn thing out the door.  It’s too little to put in the back yard because it could easily slip through the gate or under the fence so that means putting the leash on him and walking him a half dozen times a day and it’s very cold outside.  So cold, in fact, that I took him out the day before yesterday and after no more than a minute, he was shaking and shivering so I had to cut the sleeves off an old sweatshirt and make him a coat. He’s very high maintenance and wants to go out every couple of hours.  Although I’ve been diligent about it, I’ve still had to clean up dog crap three times from the carpet and he wandered into my bedroom and hiked his leg on the corner of my snow white down comforter a few minutes ago.  Damn it!  I love my snow white comforter and my fuzzy cream colored rug.  I have the comforter in the washer now and I hope it survives.  I usually have down comforters dry cleaned every year or so because I don’t want them ruined in the washer. Still, David’s car won’t start and he’s using my car so I don’t have a choice.  No way to get to the cleaners. Next, I have to go shampoo my carpet.

This whole situation is a pain in the ass.  The boys go to school all the way across town and that means getting up early, taking them 11 miles to school, 11 miles back home, and then doing a repeat after school. That might not be too bad for a week or two but two months is not going to work.  David went down to court yesterday to try to get temporary custody but they said it isn’t an emergency and he’s supposed to go to court in two weeks anyway because Stacy is asking for an increase in child support.  I guess she needs it if she doesn’t want to work and has to support her boyfriend. Bitch.

Needless to say, I’m not feeling the optimism I was feeling last week.  I better get off here and try to clean my carpet.  Anyone want a dog?

It’s 36 degrees outside.  Gray and overcast.  Tomorrow night it’s going down to 1 degree.  At least there’s no snow in the forecast for the next week. I’m barefoot and the floor is cold on my feet.  I wish I didn’t have to go out but I have lots of errands today.  I have a doctor’s appointment at 12:45, need to exchange a tablecloth I bought the other day, I have to go to the bank and I reserved a couple of DVDs that I need to pick up.

Tomorrow, I have an MRI and a urodynamic test (whatever that is…).  I have another appointment with my doctor on the 13th to see what he wants to do and find out whether or not I’m having a hysterectomy. Whatever I have to do, I want to get it done so I can heal before Donna and I go on our cruise in April.

I scheduled a series of sessions in a smoking cessation program starting this Friday.  I’m not even sure I want to quit.  I mean, of course I want to quit.  I’m just not sure I’m in a good place right now for that to happen.  Sometimes I feel like I’m just sitting here playing Russian Roulette. Don’t exercise, don’t diet, keep smoking and just let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes I think I’m not even supposed to be here. Like I should be with Donnie.  Then the rational part of my brain says that’s a bunch of crap. It’s just hard to imagine going on and on without him. He died six months ago.  Shouldn’t I have a better grip on things by now?

His death woke me up to the possibility of my own mortality. He and I were not prepared for anything. I have a lot of bills and I lost his income.  I didn’t know where his insurance policies were.  And then, he didn’t have much insurance anyway. I didn’t know who we owed or how much. It was, and continues to be, very difficult to deal with everything.

I upped my insurance big time. I brought the bills up to date with his insurance money (there wasn’t much) and now I still have to keep up with them after losing his income.  Money is tight but not impossible. I still support Andrew and Steven even though they’ll turn 24 next month.  I did manage to get both of them accepted to the Carl Perkins Vocational Rehab program in eastern Kentucky.  They train adults with learning disabilities for careers and help them find work.  Andrew went there in August but they didn’t have an opening for Steven until this month.  On January 19th, I’ll drive both of them back to school and they’ll live there until they finish their training.

Darryl is still living here.  His vision continues to be a major problem for him in spite of numerous surgeries and treatments.  He’s legally blind and hasn’t worked for two years.  I don’t know what’s going to happen with him.  He tries not to be a burden but it’s still an expense.

David lives here, too.  I don’t see him moving out.  He seems content and does what he can to contribute to the finances.

I know if anything happens to me, I’ve done the best I can to prepare for all of them.  I have more than $250,000 in insurance which would pay off the house and leave a lot left over.  The property in Florida is paid off and all the taxes are current. The only thing missing is an updated will.  And that’s difficult.  I can’t imagine how to set it up.  It was easy when Donnie and I made our first wills.  Everything goes to him if I die, everything goes to me if he dies and everything is split between Darryl and David if we both die.  Now it’s a lot more difficult.

I could leave everything as it is with it being divided between Darryl and David but then I think about Andrew and Steven. Donnie and I raised them from the time they were 12 and they’re like our sons instead of our grandsons.  They both have special needs and, unless something changes dramatically, they’ll both struggle to support themselves.  I thought about dividing things four ways but then, that’s not fair to Jake and Scout and Holly.  I need to figure out what’s fair and will be of the most benefit for everyone but it’s not something I’ve addressed yet.

5thJanuary

Four Women

I noticed four women on the cruise we took last month. They were laughing and cutting up and seemed to be having the time of their lives.  They were pleasantly plumb, middle aged or older and hung out in the smoking area of the upper deck.  Two of them were smokers but the other two didn’t seem to have any problem with it. They all sat together and did a lot of laughing.  It was obvious that they were great friends and had been friends for a very long time.  They had that kind of companionship you see with sisters or best friends.

David is so outgoing.  After just a couple of days at sea, folks were waving to him and calling him over. It seemed like half the passengers already knew him and he was never alone. He sat down with “the four women” frequently and they welcomed him like an old friend.

It rained all day in Jamaica.  As we were leaving port that evening, the women came over and sat with us. Ordered drinks and started talking about what a great time they’d had in Jamaica even though they’d gotten drenched in the downpour.  They said they’d been disappointed that one of their excursions had been cancelled due to weather.  I asked them which one and they told me the zip line.  I was really surprised.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because I’m afraid of heights and zip lining always seems like something for the young and brave.

They went on to say that they hoped all their excursions for the Cayman Islands would go off as planned. They were signed up for para sailing and kayaking.  It changed my entire perspective of them.  I became very focused on them for the rest of the cruise.  They were fun loving, energetic and seemed to be having a blast.

I envy them.  I kept wishing I had a group of women that I could share experiences with.  Actually, I do have a group of friends and we get together for dinner once a month or so but seeing these women made me realize that it’s possible to really live again.  To do exciting adventurous things even though Donnie is no longer with me. To be honest, Donnie was kind of a stick-in-the-mud guy. He didn’t like physical exertion and would much rather have friends over to grill hamburgers and drink beer than get on a zip line or go kayaking.

I told David how much I envied those women and he said, “Tell them that, ask them for phone numbers and maybe you can hook up with them sometime.”  I didn’t.  I didn’t feel like it was practical to try to insert myself into their jolly little group and I have no idea where they were from.  I told him it wasn’t so much about those four women as it was about what they represented.

A lot of my grief and depression has to do with not only the loss of my husband, but the loss of our plans. We were going to travel in the RV, go down to Florida to escape the cold, go back to Hawaii.  There were so many things we still wanted to do.  Now I feel so alone.  It’s not any fun to do things by myself and everyone else is working or married or tied down with obligations.  I wish I had a group of friends to share my life with and do things with. Even going to dinner with someone would be nice.

My sister, Donna, retired years ago and she always wanted me to do things with her.  I told her I would when I retired and had some time but, by the time that happened, Donna had taken on four foster kids and she’s tied down more than ever. It’s a major effort for her to just come to Louisville and that’s just a 45 minute trip. And Donna, much as I love her, is not going to get on a zip line or go kayaking.

I keep thinking about those women. My friends are great but we don’t have the kind of joyous sense of adventure and acceptance that I’m looking for. I wish we did. I’m the only smoker in the group and the others are very anti-smoking.  Pam, one of the women in our group, is very controlling and likes to dictate what we do and she can be trying and overbearing. I went on a trip with her once and had to constantly bite my tongue because she wants to call all the shots. The rest of us put up with it because we just want to enjoy each others company and it’s easier just to go along with Pam than to create animosity and friction. Still, I can’t imagine taking a group trip.  Elsie and Jana and I would be fine but I can’t take Pam in large doses.

Enough about women and friends.  Just a topic that’s been on my mind. On to other things.

I went to bed earlier last night.  I’ve been thinking about how I wreck any attempt at dieting by sitting there watching TV all evening and eating so I’ve decided I need to just go to bed earlier. Cut out some of that useless time that just drags on and on each night.  I went to bed at midnight and didn’t fall asleep until after 1:30 but it’s a start.  At least I wasn’t sitting up eating candy and Cheetos.

I woke at 8:30 this morning so I’ve got an earlier start.  That’s something.

I was thinking about boot camp.  That’s what I used to call an intense diet and exercise routine.  Wondering what the results would be if I just hit it hard and heavy for a month.  Weigh myself going in and then don’t step on the scales again for a month. I don’t think I can plan on more than a month because I’m scheduled for a series of labs and tests tomorrow and will most likely be having a hysterectomy fairly soon. Still, what would I feel like after working hard at it for a month. Would I be less depressed?  Would I be less lethargic? Would it get me on track?  Something to think about.

One of the songs I’ve been listening to lately is called Just Give Me a Reason.  The lyrics keep going round and round in my head but I changed them just a little bit:

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just to show that I’m not broken but bent
And I can learn to live again.

11:30 - I keep thinking about those women and those lyrics.  I’m going to reach out to a very dear old friend that I’ve lost touch with and see if we can get together for lunch one day soon.  I miss her.

4thJanuary

Just another Sunday

It’s noon.  I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing this morning.  Yes, I went to Facebook and hung out for an hour or so but then I started shopping.  Bought a new rug for the kitchen from Overstock.  I’m so tired of this kitchen being unfinished.  David and I were desperate for distraction after Donnie died so we started ripping things apart around here.  Problem is, David works all the time and we started way too many projects.
We pretty much finished my bedroom and his bedroom.  Still have a few odds and ends like rehanging pictures and finishing up little details but the main problems are the living room and the kitchen.  They’ve been hanging in limbo for months.  I really want to get this kitchen finished.

I’ve never been afraid of color.  My clothes have always been bright and colorful, the walls in my house have always been colorful.  All the knick-knacks I buy are bright and beautiful.  But I wanted to really brighten up the house itself so I went with white.  Bright white ceilings, walls, and super bright LED light bulbs.  Now I’m trying to bring color into it.  I’ve always liked Mexican colors and have lots of colorful Mexican plates, figurines, ristras and cookware.  Now I have to get a new tablecloth and rug and get this place pulled together.  I took everything out of my china cabinet months ago and cleaned it but then I just threw stuff back in it and didn’t arrange anything.  I’ve gotten a lot done these last couple of days and want to continue in here.

I weighed myself this morning.  I hate the scales.  212.  But then, I haven’t really done anything to change that.  I made a nice healthy stir fry for dinner last night but then I did what I usually do and snacked in front of the TV until 2:00 a.m.  I wish I could find a way to get through the evenings.  I sit and watch TV and put off going to bed until I’m ready to drop. I hate going to bed.  It’s the loneliest time of the day.  I can’t snuggle up to Donnie or hold his hand or talk to him about all the little things that happened during the day.  I just lie there and feel so alone.  If I go to bed early, I just toss and turn and think about things until I start crying.  Better to sit in the living room and watch mindless TV.

3:45 - Still working on the kitchen.  I scrubbed all the cabinets and the pantry doors (they have a kazillion slats so that’s a big deal), put another coat of white paint on one of the cabinet doors and spray painted the hardware.  Time to take a break and then I need to run some errands.  I need to pick up white screws to rehang the cabinet door and a couple other things but I’m drawing a blank at the moment about what else I needed.  Oh, spray paint for one.

3FC has changed a lot in my absence.  I used to have a lot of friends on here.  Lots of comments and suggestions and encouragement.  Now there’s no one here.  Where did all the little chicklets go?

I didn’t do very well with eating yesterday.  I have to get out of that habit of gorging every evening.  I ate a healthy dinner of leftover low cal vegetable noodle soup that I made the other day and a sandwich made with Laura’s Lean Beef.  I ate plenty and I wasn’t hungry but then I started snacking and ate a lot of crap. Maybe I’ll try to think of something to do that will get me out of the house this evening.

Huh…Just by coincidence David just called.  He used my car to go to work today and, when he got there, he found out they didn’t schedule anyone for tonight so he’s going to have to work a double shift. So much for planning to go out this evening.

At any rate, I’m going to get started.  Painting and working on the house.  Hopefully, I can keep at it again today.

11:45 and I’m showered and dressed.  Took a while to get the paint out of my hair after I flipped the stir stick yesterday.  I didn’t realize a glob landed in my hair.  I know it’s not early but I didn’t get going until 1:30 yesterday so I’m still ahead of the game.  Weighed myself.  211.5.  I suck. I’ve made my bed and now I’m ready to do some more painting.

2:40 - taking a quick break for a ham and swiss sandwich.  Just finished painting the kitchen, got all the stuff cleaned up and noticed that I didn’t paint a second coat on the edge of one wall by the baseboard. That’s what happens when you take three months to paint a room.  sigh…  As soon as I finish my sandwich, I’m going to get the semi-gloss trim paint and do final touchups in my bedroom.

8:00 - I’m beat!  I finished painting and then had to clean up all that crap.  And then, since I’m finally finished with all the painting and drywall in the kitchen, I decided to clean the floor.  I moved everything out of the kitchen and tackled all the little specks of paint and mud with a razor blade, old toothbrush, and rag. I spent two hours on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor and then put two coats of wax down while everything was out of the room.  Now I’m going to move everything back in the room, clean up my mess and make something healthy for dinner.

I never know when I’m going to have a really bad day.  I always feel a sadness that seems to be an integral part of me now.  It’s always there, in the back of my mind.  I smile but I don’t laugh.  I sleep way too much.  I spend days and days just sitting around doing nothing.  And sometimes I just have days where I’m beyond help.

It’s gray and cold and rainy today.  I’ve sat at the computer all morning.  I’ve had two total meltdowns where I had to go to my bedroom and just cry.  I know Donnie wouldn’t want me to be like this.  He always admired my optimism and energy.  I wish I could get it back.

I know I need to get away from this computer and do something.  And I’m making a commitment to keep this post open and list all the positive things I’m done today.  That’s a promise, to myself.

1:30 - turned on the music and started cleaning out the refrigerator.

3:00 - the refrigerator is sparking and I’ve been trying for 30 minutes to get the damn thing back together. I’m getting really pissed!  How many effing combinations of drawers, racks and shelves can there be? I can’t believe that I can’t figure this out!

3:30 - David came home and figured out the refrigerator in about 30 seconds.  I feel stupid.  I decided to finish painting the trim in the kitchen.  Accidentally flipped the stir stick and slung paint all over the place. I feel like quitting but I will NOT give up. Why is everything so hard?

5:30 - I got all the trim in the kitchen painted and moved to the living room.  The front door needed to be painted and the trim around it so I went ahead and did it while I had the painting stuff out.  Think I’m going to put a second coat on my closet doors while I’m on a roll.  Music is still playing and I’m okay.

6:30 - Time to call it quits on painting.  I still have to clean up the mess: paint trays, rollers, and brushes, put furniture back, clean up all the drips and take a razor blade to the edges of the glass where I ran over a little.  After that, I have to take a bath and scrub all the paint off.  All that is going to take me at least an hour and I think I can quit.  I haven’t eaten anything all day but I feel pretty good about getting things accomplished.  It’s really been helpful for me to blog.

If I can get organized enough to eat something halfway healthy, I’ll feel pretty good about today.

1stJanuary

Happy New Year!

I hope things go better this year.  It’s another holiday and that means it’s another rough day of memories. Every new holiday brings renewed grief.  Last night, my cell phone was ringing with well-wishers calling at midnight to wish me a happy new year.  I didn’t answer any of the calls and then the texts started coming in. I didn’t acknowledge them.  I was hanging by a thread with tears just a heartbeat away and I knew if I started talking to friends and family I’d lose it.  So I ignored everyone.  Hoping they’d think I went to bed early.  I was desperate for something to do so I scanned through the movie channel and found a movie called “The Face of Love”.  It had Annette Benning, Ed Harris, and Robin Williams so I figured it would have to be pretty good.  Five minutes into the movie, Annette Benning’s husband dies and she spends the rest of the movie grieving and trying to recapture the past by forming a relationship with a man who looks just like her deceased husband.  The movie begins five years after losing her husband and she’s still grieving.  I can understand and relate.

I meant to get back on track with blogging and dieting and exercising a couple of days ago but I got sick. Coughing and runny nose and general misery.  I’m feeling better today and I’m trying to start again.  What better time than the new year?

On the agenda today, I want to finish painting the kitchen, fix some trim in the kitchen and have David follow me to Elizabethtown to return Donna’s van that we borrowed for the trip to Miami.

I guess it’s time to start blogging and entering weight and diet again.  I did weigh myself yesterday and came in at a whopping 206 pounds.  Can’t get much worse than that.

28thDecember

Get UP!

It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’ve done nothing.  I got up at 10:00 and had to take Jake and Scout home at 11:30 so I just sat around and played games on the computer until it was time to take them home.  Got back at 12:30 and checked my e-mail, Facebook, and store website.  Played a few more games, took a couple of phone calls and then realized that it was 2:00 and I hadn’t done anything.  I literally made myself get up from the computer and take my shower.

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  I played my workout music and worked really hard on the kitchen.  I made some low cal soup for dinner and fixed a salad.  My salad had baby spring mix, sweet cherry tomatoes, and a few slices of Asian pear. I topped it with lemon vinaigrette and was surprised at how good it tasted to me. I haven’t been eating fresh foods for a long time.

I have another soup planned for dinner and more salad.  Right now, I’m going to turn on the music and get to work.  I’ll make a commitment to log on this evening and do an update.  That may give me some incentive to get something done.

In preparation for beginning to work out again, I downloaded an album from iTunes.  Looked under the category “workout” music and bought an album with 55 songs that are fast paced remixes of current hits.  I had problems with my iTunes account yesterday because my purse was stolen last month and I had to get all new debit cards and credit cards.  It took forever to get my account set up again.

It took so long to get everything done that I never got around to working out yesterday. I considered it a victory just to get the damn music burned onto a CD.

This morning I got up and sat around playing games on the computer for an hour or so and then decided to see what the album sounded like.  I started playing it and then found myself getting up and scrubbing the kitchen cabinets.  That led to scrubbing walls and that led to scrubbing counters and cleaning out drawers. Before long, I found myself doing low-impact aerobics to the music for a while.

Upbeat music has always been a vital part of my exercise program.  It makes the exercise seem more like dancing that working and I’ve always enjoyed it.

I haven’t done much in the way of cleaning the last couple of years.  More like continual “straightening” and things have really gotten out of hand.  I used to scrub my house until it sparkled.  I find it hard to really care about that anymore and it shows.  David encouraged me to make changes after Donnie died in an effort to keep me occupied but it reached a point where there were too many projects started and very few finished.
Rooms are half painted, the baseboards are off in a few places.  They were stripped and stained and never put back up.  Lots of half finished stuff and I just couldn’t find the energy or desire to do anything about it.

Today, the music really helped me.  I made a list of all the things I need to do to get the projects finished and plan on checking them off as I do them.  I cleaned and organized for five hours and was totally focused on the task at hand.  I never go to bed with dirty dishes, always change the sheets weekly, never eat in bed or leave dirty dishes around the house.  Those things are just habit.  Still, the last couple of years, I’ve just given everything a quick straighten and haven’t really cleaned for ages.  The floors gets swept and mopped but they don’t get waxed.  The bathroom gets a quick going over with scrubbing bubbles but it doesn’t get a solid cleaning with scrubbies and old toothbrushes.  Clutter is everywhere.

I feel good about what I did today.  At least half the kitchen is sparkling again and I’ve spent hours organizing some of the clutter.  The outlet covers have been off the walls for weeks and I found a screwdriver and put them all back on.  I’ve even made a decision about what to fix for dinner.  It will be a low calorie Italian soup that we all really enjoy.

I feel pretty good.  I’m really trying to do better and get a grip on reality.

25thDecember

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

I’m home again and it’s Christmas Day.  We drove back from Miami and got home Monday night, rested up and unpacked Tuesday and then had Jake and Scout over for Christmas Eve.  I got Jake a cello and a bunch of odds and ends he wanted and a Wii system for Scout.  David got them notebook computers and phones.  They were thrilled and it made me feel good.   Stacy didn’t put up a tree or get them any presents at all.  She told them they might go out and pick up a couple of things after Christmas.  I don’t even want to go there.

My Christmas present to everyone was the cruise.  I paid for everything for all of us.  I thought it would be easier to get through the season if we had something special planned.  I had hoped it would ease the holidays for all of us.  I suppose it did.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  I really tried to be upbeat and fun but it was so difficult.  Donnie and I took the same cruise last November and, as with everything, I was constantly reminded of him everywhere we went.

I had prayed to ease Donnie’s suffering.  Asked God to ease his pain and let me take on the suffering.  I like to think that’s what happened.  Donnie passed away so quickly.  We were on a cruise in April, going out and doing things in May and June, and then he got weak and tired and died so quickly the first week of July.  I’m so grateful that he didn’t spend months and months lingering in pain.  I tell myself that I’m glad it’s me that has to bear so much pain and not him but I know, in my heart, that God doesn’t want me to suffer for the rest of my life.  I know Donnie wouldn’t want me to feel this way, either.

I wish I could pull out of this but I just don’t know how.  I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize myself.  It looks like I’ve aged 20 years.  I tell myself that I have to work to be happy again and I really do try but there’s an underlying depression and sadness in me that underscores everything.  I know I’ll get better with time but I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person I was and I don’t like this new person very much.

I looked up a recipe for Christmas on here and when I entered the search words, it brought up some old posts.  I didn’t even recognize myself in them.  I was so happy and upbeat and fun.  I want to get back there so much.  I’m tired of having no drive or joy in my life anymore.  I made a commitment to myself that I’m going to start eating right and exercising tomorrow.  No sense in waiting for the new year because one day is just the same as the next.

I’m going back to the routine that used to work for me.  Writing down everything I eat and exercising every day.  Maybe changing myself for the better physically will help me change emotionally.

In previous years, I would have been shopping, decorating, cleaning and cooking for weeks leading up to today.  The tree would be up in the living room and it would feature special ornaments hand picked over a lifetime.  I’d unwrap an ornament and say, “Look!  Remember this one?  It’s the one we bought in Hawaii with Santa on a surfboard!” or, “Here’s the Grinch ornament that we got when the movie came out.”  When David was a toddler, he fell in love with a small stuffed Raggedy Ann that a friend had.  She stuck it in the tree at Christmas and it’s been a tradition to place Raggedy Ann in the tree each year.  David is 42 years old now, but he still looks for Raggedy Ann every year among the branches.

By now, the presents would be unwrapped and we’d be scrambling to get the mess cleaned up before hosting Christmas dinner for 14 to 20 family members.  I’d be preparing everyone’s favorites and trying to maintain my sanity while timing things so that 10 or 12 recipes get finished at approximately the same time so we could all sit down to eat.

Today is difficult.  It’s Christmas and it’s not like any Christmas we’ve ever had as a family.  Darryl is in North Carolina with friends for a month.  David is off but Stacy has the boys today.  There’s no one here but Andrew, Steven, David and me.  I didn’t put up the tree or any decorations.  Didn’t wrap any gifts.  Didn’t cook dinner and don’t plan to go anywhere for dinner.  I’m going to take Andrew and Steven over to their mother’s house in a little while. She has presents for them and she’s cooking a small dinner.  She invited David and I and I know we’re welcome but it hurt so much to be there for Thanksgiving that I don’t want to do it again.  I’ve always been the one to cook the big dinner and have everyone over and I didn’t do well with Thanksgiving over there.  It felt horrible. I felt useless and detached from the entire event.

Instead, friends have invited David and I to go to a movie this afternoon and then go over to their house for drinks and appetizers.  I know it’s not very Christmasy but it will get me through the day.  Maybe I’ll look back on this post next year and things will be so much better.  I hope so.

14thDecember

Orion

Everyone seems to look for and find the Big Dipper.  You’re supposed to use the North Star for navigation.  I can’t ever find either of them.  I just see Orion.  I can look and study and try to find the Dippers and other constellations but Orion has always been right in front of my eyes.  No matter where I go, no matter how far, I’ve always been able to step outside and see Orion without even looking.

We’re in Key Biscayne.  Leaving on a week long cruise in the morning.  This trip has been difficult for me.  I thought it would be better to get away for Christmas.  Darryl, David, Andrew and Steven are with me.  The four constants in my life.  And still, I see Donnie everywhere.

We drove down to the cabin on Thursday and every curve, every town, even the sunset brought on fresh pain.  He is absolutely with me every day.  Perhaps every minute.  Never far from my thoughts.  It was so hard to visit the cabin where we invested so much time, money and dreams.  Difficult to sleep in the king size bed without him.  There was a Diet Coke bottle left upstairs on the nightstand that he must have forgotten the last time we were there.  I walked out to the meadow after everyone was asleep and stared at a million stars and Orion looked down on me.

Now we’re in Key Biscayne and I just walked out on the balcony and there he is.  Always constant.  Always familiar.  Always watching over me.  I like to think Donnie is one of those stars now.  Perhaps one of the three stars that make up his belt.  I just know he’s there, somewhere.

26thNovember

Going out

I’m going out today.  That may not seem like a big deal but it really is. These days, I hate to go out.  I hate going to the store, I hate going to the gas station, I hate going anywhere.  I prefer to sit in the house and watch TV and not do anything I don’t have to.

So it’s making a move in the right direction to go out shopping today.  I’m taking it in small doses.  I received a coupon from Catherine’s for 50% off any and all purchases today as an early “Black Friday” deal.  I know I need some dress pants for the cruise so I can dress for dinner.  I had decided to wear the black pants I bought for Donnie’s funeral but they’re kind of loose and baggy and it feels like they’re too big.  I was going to wear them anyway but….I think I’m going to try to find a better pair.

Might not seem like a big deal but it is.  To me.

It’s so strange.  The entire time Donnie and I were together, I made all the decisions about furniture, travel, hotels, blah, blah, blah.  Now that he’s gone, I often find myself like a deer in the headlights.  Confused and indecisive about the simplest things.  I’ll walk around the store forever and can’t make a decision about dinner. I put off the simplest things because I’m insecure about what to do.

I’m feeling really relieved this morning because I made myself make reservations for a hotel in Miami when we go on the cruise.  I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I’ve spent on the computer looking at hotels and condos, racked with indecision.  I’ll go to make a reservation and then decide to wait and look another time.  Several times, I’ve actually set a goal for myself that I would not go to bed until I’d made a reservation. And still, I just couldn’t make a decision.

As trivial as it seems, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  It’s done.  It’s paid for. Now I can move on to something else.

22ndNovember

Let it Begin

Yesterday was a rough day for me.  Sometimes it’s like that.  I have days when I just feel like I’m going to be hurting forever.  I have a cruise coming up with the kids in about three weeks.  I thought it would be good to get away for Christmas and not have to be here with so many memories during the holiday.

My sister, Donna, invited me to join her on another cruise in April and I booked it yesterday.  I also had to book a hotel room and parking at the port and what should have been something to look forward to brought up a lot of memories of trips Donnie and I took.  As the day wore on, it just seemed like all I could think about was how many things we did and how intricately he’s tied to every thought and memory I have.

I spent a good part of the day crying and hurting until I could finally take a couple of Tylenol PMs and go to bed.  I slept till 11:00 and just woke up.

I try to do what I can to get through each day.  I know he wouldn’t want me to be like this.  I have to do the best I can to live my life and savor the memories instead of letting them eat me alive.

I feel like crap.  I’m tired and sluggish and have no energy whatsoever.  I know it would benefit me to start eating right and getting some exercise so I’m taking the first step today.  I made arrangements to get rid of a bed that I’ve had up in the bedroom where my treadmill is.

After Donnie died, I couldn’t sleep in our big king size bed.  I just couldn’t do it.  So I moved it upstairs and dismantled and stored the bed that was in another upstairs bedroom by folding up the base of my treadmill and propping the bed against the wall where the treadmill had been.  Treadmill effectively out of action.

Today, I’m clearing it out.  I don’t know that I’ll get on my treadmill today but I’ll get it ready.  When I feel like jumping on it, it’ll be ready to go.

Our old bedroom doesn’t exist anymore.  I had to redo it so I could sleep without reaching for Donnie every night and seeing all his stuff.  It was like sensory overload and was a lot more than I could handle.

So I redid the bedroom.  Used a lot of white because that’s something I never could have pulled off with my sweet man constantly eating pizza in bed or tracking in dirt.  I’ll always miss him at night but, at least, I don’t wake up in “our” environment to find that he’s not there.  The new bedroom is very different and the bed is a lot smaller.  I still wake up a lot at night but I’m instantly aware that I’m in a different place and I don’t expect him be there.  I don’t sleep in the dark anymore.  I leave a night light on so the minute I open my eyes, I know things are different.  It helps.

Yesterday was a hard day but it brought an awareness of how miserable I am and a sort of “awakening” that I can’t continue this way.  It may not be much, but getting rid of a bed and providing access to my treadmill is a tiny step to taking better care of myself.

21stNovember

Start

I kept thinking about what to call this post.  I titled it “Starting Over” but then I realized there is no starting over.  Starting over implies that you may, one day, get back to where you were.

And I know I’ll never get to go back to where I was.

Maybe I should title it “Drifting” or “Mindless” or just plain “Lost”.

Because that’s what I am.  Lost.  I sit here day after day just killing time.  Everything I see and everything I do is touched by an undercurrent of sadness.  It’s been four months since Donnie passed away and, although I no longer spend my days crying, I still think about him every single day.  Memories of him touch everything I do, everywhere I go, everyone I see.

I go through the motions, at least some of them, of living but nothing really means the same as it did.  I don’t care if the house falls apart.  I don’t care if it gets cleaned.  I don’t care about seeing anyone or doing anything.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t clean the house or go out with friends or keep things going.  It’s just that there isn’t any joy or excitement in my life anymore.

Maybe I’m where I’m supposed to be.  Who knows what’s normal and what’s not.  I’m still grieving and I think I’ll be grieving the rest of my life.

I keep telling myself that I have to move on.  Go out.  See people.  Act normal.  But nothing feels like it should.  I wear the same clothes over and over and over again.  Two or three “outfits”, if you want to call them that, of tee shirts and knit pants and athletic shoes.  I don’t want to go shopping.  I don’t wear makeup most days.  Sometimes, I never get dressed.

I do keep busy.  I make myself keep up with my little jam and jelly business but I don’t want to do events.  I just want to stand over a stove and mindlessly make jams and jellies and pickles.  Make them, label them, sell them.  It’s just something to keep me busy.  My sister is booking all the shows and pushing the envelope and I just follow along.

I don’t even think about what I eat.  In fact, most days I don’t eat anything until evening and then I eat whatever is convenient.  I might eat a bowl of ice cream or fix a frozen pizza.  It really doesn’t matter.  I’ll sit in front of the TV and mindlessly nibble on stuff.  Then I’ll look down and wonder what happened to a whole bag of candy or chips or whatever crap I’ve been eating and go looking for something else.

I guess what I need to do is to find some way to just start.  Just do something.

I’ve been sitting here for a couple of minutes trying to decide what title to put on this post.  I feel like this is a chronicle of my life for the past few years and I need to log on every once in a while to update it.  I may get to a point where I blog every day like I used to.  The last couple of years have been so difficult to write about.  My life has been full of pain and sorrow and I’ve lost the joy and spontaneity that used to be such an integral part of living.

Donnie passed away last Tuesday evening and I am, to put it in one succinct word, devastated.  I miss every part of him.  I know it will get easier but it’s the most significant loss of my life.  I feel like I’ve been cut in half.  You can’t share your life with someone for 45 years and not be broken when that bond is taken away. It’s still so fresh and raw.

Yes, he had cancer and we knew it would eventually take his life but I wasn’t prepared for how quickly he would be cut down.  A month ago, he was weak from chemo but still walking around, getting in the car and going to the store with me.  I’d let him out at the door and he’d get in a scooter while I parked.  And then, he went for chemo and they wouldn’t do it because they said he had a touch of pneumonia.  They hospitalized him and he was in the hospital for a week and a half before they sent him home on Wednesday.  While he was in the hospital, he was in bed and I didn’t realize how weak he was.  You expect someone to be weak when they’re in the hospital and stuck in bed.  He didn’t want to eat but then, hospital food is horrible so I didn’t think much about it.  He was getting up to go to the bathroom and he was chatting with me.

Coming home was a shock.  He couldn’t walk from the car to the door.  We had to get his scooter.  And then, he could barely get up the three steps of the front porch.  He collapsed in a chair in the living room as soon as he got in the door and had to rest for more than an hour before he felt like he had the strength to walk into the bedroom and get into bed.

I couldn’t figure out why they sent him home.  He was ten times worse than when he went in the hospital and yet they sent him home. It was after 6:00 by the time we were home and I knew his doctors were gone for the day so I decided to make a few calls early Thursday to find out what was going on.  I tried to call his oncologist but he was on vacation and out of the country.  Then I tried to call his pulmonologist but he was on vacation, too.  Donnie said he just needed to rest and he’d probably feel better on Friday.

Friday was the Fourth Of July and no one was available to speak with.  We discussed it and decided if he wasn’t better on Monday, we’d take him back to the hospital.

Saturday, he continued to weaken and his breathing was difficult.  He was on oxygen at home but he still felt like he wasn’t getting enough air.  He had to sit up in bed, propped up on a dozen pillows to get relief but he still felt bad.  Finally, on Sunday evening he told me he thought he should go to the hospital.  He said he knew he couldn’t walk out to the car and so I called an ambulance.

I changed clothes and arrived at the hospital about ten or fifteen minutes after the ambulance.  He was in the emergency room and they had placed a Bipap mask on him.  It covered his nose and mouth so he couldn’t speak.  He indicated to me that it really helped and he felt much better but he couldn’t talk because an alarm would go off every time he tried to remove the mask. They told me they were admitting him back in the hospital and would let us know when a room was available for him.  After three or four hours, they told me they were moving him to ICU.  I was shocked but they said it was just a precaution they took whenever a patient was on a Bipap machine and had previously had open heart surgery.

He finally got settled in the ICU and wrote me a note telling me to go home because it was almost 2:00 a.m. and we were both exhausted.

The next morning, I called the ICU to see how he was doing and the nurse said he was a “very, very sick man” and that I should get up there.

Another shock, seeing how much weaker he was on Monday morning.  He was still writing me notes but I noticed how shaky his handwriting was and I was so confused I couldn’t grasp the overall picture of what was going on with him.  They were talking about Hospice and it broke my heart because I knew that Hospice meant there was no chance of him getting better.  He told me that he knew he’d lost the battle and he just wanted to come home and be with us as much as possible before he died.  I figured we’d have nurses in and out of the house and they told me they would train me to give him his meds and treatments and someone would come by every few days to check on him.  They told me it was mostly about pain management and making him as comfortable as possible.  I spent the day with him and he slept a lot but I knew he was exhausted and on pain pills.  I finally headed home for the night around midnight when he was sleeping.

On Tuesday morning, I went to the hospital and the minute I walked into the unit, he heard my voice as I spoke to the nurse and became very agitated,  motioning for me to come to him.  I went and I saw how desperate and agitated he was and asked the nurses what was going on.  They said the doctor would be in shortly to talk to us.  Donnie and I listened as the doctor said his pneumonia wasn’t responding to treatment and he wanted to do a CT scan to see what was going on.  The doctor said he didn’t know if the mass in his lungs was pneumonia or cancer.  I told him that his oncologist had just told him, the week before, that his cancer was not that critical yet, no where near hopeless, and that they had a lot of things they could still do to treat it.  The doctor said he wasn’t responding to the antibiotics and he hoped the scan would help us figure out what was going on.

They came back an hour later and said they couldn’t do the CT scan because he was too agitated and it was difficult to do with a Bipap machine anyway.  He said he thought Donnie was within a few days of dying.  I was devastated.  I had thought he would probably have a slow decline with more and more visits to the hospital and a continual weakening interspersed with periods at home.

Donnie and I tried to discuss what was happening but he was weak and he couldn’t talk so he was using hand signals and short written words to communicate.  He was telling me that the electric bill was due and I needed to pay it.  Telling me that he wanted me to make the decision, if it came to it, not to resuscitate and that he didn’t want anymore treatment.  Just wanted to be free of pain and able to rest as much as possible. He absolutely hated the Bipap mask and kept trying to rip it off but then the alarms would go off and the nurses would rush in and restrain him enough to put it back on.

I made the phone calls I’d been dreading.  Called his sisters in Florida, called our sons and told them he was very weak and I thought they should come and see him NOW because I was afraid he was approaching the point where he would be receiving more and more medication and his time for being lucid and communicating with them was limited.  David told me he was leaving work immediately and would be with me in a few minutes.  He arrived just 20 or 30 minutes later but Donnie was not able to communicate because he was struggling to breath and he had been given morphine as a part of the Hospice treatment. He kept trying to take the Bipap mask off his face.  He hated that thing.  David stayed about an hour and told me he was going to pick up Darryl, Andrew and Steven and would be back in a few minutes.  As soon as David left, they told me that they were going to move Donnie out of ICU and up to a private room so we could have more privacy and room for family to visit since the ICU room was so crowded and because they would be simply trying to keep him comfortable but he wouldn’t be receiving any more treatment.  They removed the Bipap mask from his face and he immediately became very calm and serene. They replaced the Bipap with a bag and mask and he tried to fight it but he was too weak to take it off.

I followed him up to the room and the nurses brought out a roll away bed so I could stay in the room with him for the next few days.  We were getting him settled and he became very calm and quiet and his breathing became very slow.  I realized that he was leaving me right then.  I don’t know how I knew but I did.  He just became so quiet and peaceful.  I sat down beside him on the bed and held his hand.  It was just a matter of a minute or two when I became aware that my brother was standing beside me with his hands on my shoulders and my sister was on the other side of the bed holding his other hand.  The roll away bed was gone and all the doctors and nurses had left and there was no one else in the room.  My sister said, “Do you want to take his mask off?” and I told her I did.  We removed it and I watched him relax and then he slowly quit breathing. I was so grateful that he seemed so peaceful.  No more gasping for air or fighting that damn mask.  Just a few slow, peaceful breaths and then he was gone.  I had been focused only on Donnie and those private, quiet moments we were sharing and my sister went out in the hall and motioned for the doctors and nurses to come in.  They checked for a heartbeat and then told me I could stay as long as I wanted and everyone left.  It all felt so right.  It was so hard to watch him fade away but I never doubted what I was doing for a minute.  I knew what he wanted and he had trusted me to follow his wishes.  And I wasn’t torn with indecision or doubt.  I knew I did exactly what he wanted and exactly what I should have done.  I know I’m going to suffer for a long, long time but he didn’t.

I am crushed.  Heartbroken.  And yet I would not have wanted him to suffer a slow agonizing death.  We lay in bed together holding hands and talking Saturday night and he was gone by Tuesday afternoon  No long lingering weakness or loss of dignity.  I still don’t understand how he died.  The pulmonary specialist said he didn’t have pneumonia or he would have responded to the antibiotics.  The oncologist says his cancer was not advanced to the point that it would have caused this.  I don’t understand what took possession of him and advanced so rapidly.  I’ve given up trying to figure it out.  I don’t know that the answer would help me and, if he was not going to survive this cancer, I’m glad he went quickly and didn’t suffer a lot.  I watched my mother and father die slow deaths and was praying for them to die simply to ease their suffering.  I’d much rather be the one suffering than Donnie.  I loved him too much to be able to bear that.

We’ve known for a long time what we wanted to do about funerals.  Neither of us want one.  We were shocked and appalled at the traditional funeral fiasco and wanted to avoid falling into that trap.  Donnie was cremated and his remains were placed in a beautiful gold and emerald green urn. I arranged for a memorial service and rented a lovely room at a local funeral home for the day.  Friends and family gathered to share memories and celebrate his life.  It was lovely.  We’d grown quite attached to the chaplain at the hospital who talked with him and visited him often during his illness.  She and I cried together and I felt very comfortable with her and felt like she understood and recognized our love for each other.  She invited people to share memories and many did.  It was a moving memorial to him.

I actually have a fairly large insurance policy on myself that I took out some time ago.  When I die, I want to be cremated and my ashes placed with his in our urn.  The insurance will pay for my memorial service and provide for our children and grandchildren to travel to Hawaii (our favorite place in the world) and scatter our ashes off the Na Pali coast of the island of Kauai.