Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Believe...

It is thinking like this that has taken me to where I am today.  And I must admit that I am in a good place.  There are times when I do question my positive thinking/spiritual journey/stars aligning thoughts and wonder if I am just kidding myself.  Am I just feeding myself anything that will make me feel better?  But then something will happen and the picture does appear clearer and I can't help but to believe.

Monday, April 29, 2013


The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places to visit in the city.  It's alot of fun to go to on special event days like yesterday's Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival or Ghouls and Ghords for Halloween, but it's the quiet mornings during the weekdays (a teacher's summer vacation!) that is my absolute favorite time to go.

It's pretty.  It's quiet.  It's peaceful.  It's tranquil.

It's a great place to just walk to gather your thoughts, to plop down and read or book, or to eat lunch (their sandwiches are awesome!).

Here are some of my favorite pictures that I have gathered over the past few years...

The BBG is also the place where my son first felt grass between his toes!  C'mon, this is NYC, I have no yard and there are no dogs allowed in the gardens.  
The grass is soft and clean!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I love the earthy smell of dirt and the sweetness of flowers at this time of year.  I love the lilacs, magnolias, and tulips.  I think spring has finally arrived here in NYC and I hope that it decides to stay!

So, I have decided to attach The Happiness Project focus for this month along with this post on spring.  Why?  Well, because the focus for this month of April is/was parenthood.  I feel like I have been a real terd of a mother in keeping my son engaged over the winter.  So, I have decided to jump back on board with keeping my son away from the t.v. as much as possible and to plan out things to keep him busy, engaged, and to provide him with lots of different experiences (if and when possible). 

Today was one of the first truly gorgeous days of spring here and we went to... the beach!  Excavators, dump trucks, backhoes, front loaders, shovel, and bucket, we had it all.  My son would play with these toys in the sand all day if he could.  This may not sound that amazing, but for a kid with no backyard, it truly is.  I also took him to Coney Island, that in itself is always an experience, lol.

Tomorrow, we are going to the Brooklyn Botanic Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.  I love the Botanic Garden and I have a membership there.  It's easy to get lost in all of the greenery and forget you are in the middle of a city (well, except for tomorrow, it will be packed with people) and it also has the cleanest grass!  It was three years ago that my son "walked" on grass for the first time at this same event.  My son loves it here too.  They have a great childrens' section and even some programs.  And yes, they even have shovels and rakes to play in the soil.

Next Saturday, we will be going to Connecticut.  Last fall we went to CT for a train and boat ride.  Well, we are going to the same place, but this time only for a train ride, a Thomas train ride!  My son loves the cartoon Thomas the train and everything that goes along with it.  He has the toys that he is constantly playing with, books, he even uses the word "cross" when he gets upset just like Sir Topham Hat, lol.  My son should really enjoy this Thomas Day Festival and I am looking forward to seeing his little face light up as well.

The following day, next Sunday, our wonderful neighborhood playground/park is having a festival.  There will be performers, vendors, and loads of other things going on.  It is such a great playground that is so well kept up.  I want to go and support it, and my son will have a blast as well.

It's nice to have plans and to be busy again.  This past winter was hard.  It was part me and my being lazy and not wanting to go out in the cold.  It was part winter too and it being cold and there not being as many options as well.  But in the next couple of months there are some great things to look forward to doing with my son, the library has some great programs and we have been going weekly just to pick out books and to play on the computer (lol... he doesn't touch mine), play dates (I need to plan more!), and a birthday party.  I also like to pick out a couple of touristy NYC things to do with my son each year.  Next on our list is the top of The Empire State Building.  I haven't even done that yet and I want to do that soon before it gets really packed with tourists.  I am looking forward to taking him up there just to see his reaction!  We have so much to look forward to.  :)

It was about one year ago that my son started his "terrible threes" phase.  While it is still there, ho hum, I have started to see some changes.  For one, his little tantrums are not so frequent.  Also, he is telling me all the time now that he is a big boy and that certain things and behaviors are for babies.  This is telling me that he recognizes the difference between certain actions and behaviors.  He even tells me that he didn't yell or throw anything (which is what he does when he gets upset or having his "tantrum" and oh how I hate it!).  Yay, he is thinking about his behaviors and beginning to control them himself!  But I have also learned that he is a good actor.  He is very good at "pretending" to be "cross" but as soon as I poke his belly like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, try as he might, he just can't hold that smile in.

I think that is so important, being able to read your child.  I think that I am fairly good at doing that.  That makes me feel good because I think in order to truly know someone, you must spend quality time in getting to know them.  It's not just about the trips to the beach and CT, it is more so about spending quality time together.  I hope that I can continue to do this with him and to not use lame excuses like the weather to cut down on it.  There is so much that can be done just within the home that is quality time where you don't have to spend a penny.  I am all for that kind of quality time as well, but with spring, comes a reawakening.  It is long overdue and I am so happy to be able to change things up a bit, get out of the house more, and spend that time with my son.

My parenting focus that I will take with me beyond the next couple of days left of April will be that of spending quality time with my son.  I also want to remember to relax so that when he does have a "terrible threes" fit, I don't escalate it.  When I am calm, he gets bored with his fit quickly.  Oh, and one more thing.  I really need to appreciate more all of the talking that he does.  My god, this kid talks and talks and talks and talks... And asks SO many questions of why, which direction?, why, and he is a backseat driver that puts my mother to shame!  He is so funny and I love him to pieces, I need to try not to get short with him after his upteenth question in a two minute span.  One day, I will miss it.

Springtime.  Lots to look forward to.  Lots to appreciate in the moment. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To Live

It is taking risks.  It is letting go of fear.  It is experiencing life.

This may very well be my favorite scene in any movie that I have ever seen.  When Good Will Hunting came out in 1998, I was in my freshman year in college.  I entered as a math major, hoping to teach.  But as with so many freshman, I was having my doubts as I fell in love with psychology.  How ironic that this movie in some ways pins math and logical reasoning against psychology and the human spirit.  Psychology won out and I feel that was a pivotal point in my life.  Had it been math that won out, I would have pursued a teaching job which at that point there was a real need for in Rochester.  That would have ensured job security and I never would have moved to Virginia.  The course of my life would have been completely different.  I say that without regret just as a matter of fact.  Moving to Virginia was a big risk.  It led to so many life experiences both good and bad.  But I was living my life.

I was inspired today to post this clip not because of the above, but because of some happier news like I promised earlier today.  It is official... I am going to the Northwest this summer for my solo vacation.  I'll be gone for 6 days and will be splitting my time between Portland and Seattle.  This trip is meaningful to me for a variety of reasons.  I've been hesitant about booking because, well... I don't know why exactly,  perhaps the cost, perhaps I was hoping it wouldn't be solo... But then I realized that I need to take advantage of what is in front of me... my parents are more than happy to watch my son and he will be more than happy to stay with them, this trip will not put me into debt, and being solo means I have to make no compromises.  I can go and do whatever I want to do on this trip.  And the first thing I am going to do is... visit a tree.  Almost one year ago, I bought a very expensive piece of fine art, Brilliant.  Long story short, it arrived damaged, I took the refund, still big empty space on my wall.  That tree that I will be visiting is the very same tree from Brilliant.  But I will get to see it through my lens, not someone else's.  It will be my experience.  It was almost a year ago that I posted Simple Beauty, in which I shared my plans (at that time) to visit Maltonomah Falls, also near Portland.  Those plans never developed, but the first thing I booked after my flight, was a tour to see those falls (winery stops and tastings included, woo hoo!). Another experience.

When I took my trip to Las Vegas in February of 2012, I discovered and fell in love with landscape photography.  I still love it.  But nothing can replace the actual experience of witnessing it yourself.  I am fortunate to have the means to travel to see some of these places for myself.  I also think it takes bravery in letting go of fear and taking risks in living... in living the life you want to live. 

Brighter Days

Last year, although times were difficult, things just seemed to work out for me.  It seemed to flow smoothly.  This year, so far, not so much.  There have been many bumps in the road so far and I am looking forward to some brighter days. 

I don't even need to go back and reread the majority of my posts from the past couple of months, I know they have been... rather intense.  Some events still get to me, like saying goodbye to that guy.  Some events have helped me to see things in a different way and have acutally helped me to move on in a healthier way (going through the steps of grieving).  And some events I had absolutley no control over and are just sad (the deaths of my grandmother and dog). 

My head is not in a cloud though.  There have been some good things going on.  I have some things to look forward too.  And I am excited about sharing them.  I just felt like I needed to deal with everything else first.  Now that I have, I am looking forward to bringing an upward beat back to this blog. 

But before I do, I have some new reminders to help me keep on the path that I have chosen to walk along.

As I took the journey through the stages of grief for a suicide loss, I realized that what was keeping me stuck, was that I needed to forgive.  I was acting like I forgave my husband, but I had never put blame on him for his actions.  It was difficult to do.  But once I did, forgiveness swept in quickly and this time, it was authentic and genuine.  This is a difficult time of year with the 2nd anniversary approaching quickly.  I have to admit, that I feel so much more at ease and peaceful after I found forgiveness.  I think forgiveness applies to other people and other situatins as well and it is a valuable lesson that I learned.  I chose this bead because the tourquise swirl seems to dissolve into the clear glass, just as what you are holding on to should when you forgive. 


My Skye Bead... Treazured Memories of the Past
When my male dog passed away last year, I bought the white bead with black flowers to represent the loss of loved ones and keeping them close to your heart.  When my female dog passed away, I knew that I wanted the exact opposite bead to place next to "The Argyle" bead.  This one not only reminds me of her, a black and white border collie as was the other, but it reminds me of the past (and my dog held so many memories to that past).  The black background is the past... the door that has closed and we can never go back to.  The white flower signifies all of the wonderful precious memories that we will carry with us forever. 

My bracelet is filling quickly.  Wouldn't it almost be poetic in a way that once it is filled, it would symbolize that I have learned what I needed to in order to truly move on? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

And Then There Were Two

Dog HeavenI remember when the movie Marley and Me came out a few years ago.  It was a movie that I did not want to see in the theater because I knew it was going to make me cry and cry and cry.  So when it finally came out on DVD, I rented it knowing full well it was going to pull at my heartstrings and it did.  I couldn't even finish the whole movie because I knew how it was going to end.  Back then, the thought of losing either one of my dogs was just unbearable to think of. 

That was only about 4 years ago.  That was before my son was born.  That was when my dogs were 7 and 8.  We had raised them since they were both puppies and from that time on, we had been a family of four.  That is when our dogs were our kids.

My son is only a bit older than three and a half now.  When he was 20 months old, we lost his father.  Almost exactly a year later, we lost our male dog.  And last week, we lost our female dog.  It is amazing how drastic life can change in just a short period of time.  Our once family of five, is now only a family of two. 

Skye... My dog Skye was the absolute cutest puppy.  I wish I had digital pictures to upload, but I didn't even have a digital camera back when we got her almost 11 years ago.  We had already had our male dog, so we brought him to meet all the puppies.  Of course we picked out the one that pestered him the most.  But, they were like peas and carrots.  She loved him and followed him around like he was a rock star.  He treated her like a little sister, lol. 

Skye had a personality.  She was a bit crazy, she would bark at... nothing.  We also used to think that we had clones of her swarming around the house.  She would be everywhere.  You would go into one room and she'd be in there, turn around and go the another and there she'd be as if she had been there all along.  She kept great company and she was such a loyal dog.  She used to finish fights that her brother would instigate.  She even sat with my husband and woke him with her kisses one day when he banged his head in the garage and knocked himself out.  She loved to be loved.  And she was and she will be missed so very much.

This past Saturday, I drove back to my parents so that I could attend my grandmother's funeral.  I was dreading going back for that reason, but also because it had only been two days since Skye had to be put down as well.  There was an empty silence at my parent's house that made me extremely sad.  When I opened the door, I half expected and half hoped to hear her greet us with her bark.  She always greeted my son with plenty of kisses and he would always say, "No more licking Skye!"  But instead, I had to explain to my son why Skye wouldn't be at my parent's house and why we would never see her again. 

Skye's illness was completely unexpected as was her death.  It may have been cancer that caused a rapid digression in her liver, in may even have been hepatitis.  The doctor's were never 100% sure of what caused her liver to fail so quickly.  I do know that my parent's did everything they could to get her healthy, but she just didn't.  So now she joins her father and brother in Heaven.  There is a wonderful book by Cynthia Rylant entitled, "Dog Heaven."  I only read this book several years ago in Barnes and Noble and had to walk out of there with tears down my face.  Like I said before, just the thought... now it is my reality.

My Skye...

Helping me pack.  She was with us for 5 of our moves.    

Before our son, we used to send pictures of the dogs on our Christmas cards.

We did this to the dogs too.  Skye actually enjoyed it.

Yes, she is sitting with a guinea pig, two actually.  I had them for class pets and she treated them like pups!

My girl <3  

A Double Punch to the Kidneys
A Walk in the Past

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A True Love

I just returned from a trip that nobody wants to take ever.  A trip home to say a final goodbye and to pay respects to a dearly loved one, my grandmother.  I have a rather large family and my grandmother will forever be loved and missed by many, but none more so than my grandfather. 

My grandfather is the cutest and he is so emotional.  It broke my heart to see him mourn my grandmother.  In many ways, I could relate to his loss.  But in many other ways, I couldn't.  My grandparents were married for nearly 63 years and had dated three years prior to getting married!  They experienced just about any and everything that life can throw at a person throughout a lifetime.  As my grandmother's health began to decline other the years, it was my grandfather who cared for her.  He helped to make dinner, did the laundry, made sure she took her medications, and helped her to get from one place to another.  He was with her night at day for weeks in the hospital and was with her as she took her final breath. 

Their love was pure and true and withstood the test of time, which is a rarity these days.  So when my grandfather called my mother late the night before the wake to ask if anyone was going to say a eulogy, I didn't hesitate to call him back to tell him that I would do my best.  It was a gift that I knew he wanted for her and one that I felt honored to not only do for him, but even more so, my grandmother.  She was a wonderful woman and she deserved to be spoken of and remembered with love. 

So the night before the funeral, just like with my husband, I stayed up late and wrote a final remembrance for a cherished loved one.  Even more difficult than standing in front of a group of people under those circumstances, is finding the right words to use.  How do you begin to share, remember, and honor 83 years of life?  But not just any life, the life of my grandmother.  She was many different things to many different people and I wanted to honor that as well too. 

I wrote with love and shared bits and pieces of my grandmother's life and some of my family's fondest memories of her, some tear jerking, some funny.  All I had wanted to do was to honor her memory and had hoped that she would have felt that honor and love.  I got my answer when I made my way back to the pew after reading it, my grandfather held out his hand to mine and told me with tears in his eyes that it was beautiful and that she would have loved it.  Thank you grandpa, only you knew her best. 

I love you Grandma.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Double Punch to the Heart

Today my grandmother passed away. 

My mother, my aunt, and my grandfather were all there with her when she took her last breath and my mother told me that it was a peaceful one.  I don't think that you can ask for anything more than that... to go in peace.

If I could describe my grandmother in one word, I would pick generous.  Unbelievably generous.  Between 4 children, 9 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren... There was never a birthday, holiday, or anniversary forgotten not to mention all the nameless givings in between. 

My grandmother was 83 years old and she and my grandfather were married for almost 63 years.  I love that story.  But now my heart goes out to my grandfather who now has to adjust to a life without my grandmother after all of those years. 

Rest in peace grandma... <3


Today my dog had to be put down.

She recovered from her kidney infection, but it was her liver that was failing her.  She had been on IVs for a couple of days with the hope that the infection would clear out.  But there was no improvement.  Jaundice had set in and she hadn't eaten in over a week.  She was a very sick little girl and the only humane option was to let her go.

Rest in peace Skye... <3

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It's taken me a couple of weeks to collect my thoughts and feelings as I journeyed through the stages of grief.  Originally I began because I felt as if I needed to truly feel that anger stage.  I am a very mild person in that it is difficult for me to get very angry and to hold on to that anger.  I think the same holds true in this case as well.  As I wrote in the "Anger" post, it was a brunch date with a girlfriend that triggered it.  In the following days after, I shared my anger with a few friends... sharing both the feeling and the reasoning behind it.  It wasn't long after that I felt better and I didn't feel so angry anymore.  I felt them, shared them, and was able to let them go.  I used this forum to see if there were any other pieces of anger hiding that I could uncover as I explored and reflected on my thoughts and feelings through the different stages.  What I realized was that it was a bit of each of the stages that held me up.  Shock, denial, guilt, and sadness all played a role in my bottling up my anger.  More so than any other I would have to say was guilt.  It is hard to admit honest truths to not only to others, but to yourself as well.  It is hard to genuinely feel your feeling of anger towards someone who essentially took their own life because of their actions and feelings that they felt about themselves inside.  However, I have let that sickness control my actions for far too long and because I was continuing to let it control me almost two years later, I was also letting it create a new anger and resentment towards my husband.  I don't want that nor does he deserve that.

I do feel that the reasons why I was angry were valid reasons.  I think the reason why that brunch date triggered that anger was because I felt as if I was being forced to see him in only one way.  My real thoughts were just swimming inside of my head.  Stewing.  Stagnant.  Never really shared.  I think it was important for me to share that anger with the friends that I did and even here, to random strangers.  It's when words are spoken or shared that they become alive.  These are my words, I need to choose them carefully and stand by them.  I acknowledged my anger.  And now I can forgive.  I couldn't forgive before because I didn't know what exactly it was that I was forgiving. 

Back in November, I wrote the post "Black and White."  This is actually one of my favorite posts because to me, the insight was significant.  I am, he was, our marriage was a combination of black and white.  Good and bad.  The good wasn't just good.  It was amazingly good.  The bad wasn't just bad.  It was extremely hurtful and devastating at times.  I feel more comfortable accepting that and expressing that.  I feel like I found some balance. 

I know that my husband tried his best as did I.  I know that I was loved as was our son.  His illness is not an excuse for behaviors, actions, and choices made.  I hold him accountable.  And now that I can, I can let go and forgive. 


It is hard to accept the loss of someone that you love.  Not only is it hard to accept the loss of their life, it is also hard to accept the loss of everything that you build around that person.  It is hard to accept that the future you planned is no longer something that you can ever step into.  Never.

It is hard to accept that not only did you lose someone that you loved, but that you lost that person to suicide.  It is hard to accept that your life took a turn that you never would have imagined in your wildest dreams or worst of nightmares.

Time is both a great friend and healer.  There are times when I look back at what happened and find it is so hard to believe that it actually occurred, it still doesn't seem real that this is my life.  However, as time has passed I can now say to myself that he really is gone without a jolt of shock passing through my body.  I can even say now to myself that he is dead without the how constantly attached.  Sometimes I don't think the how is as important as I used to think it was.  He is just gone. 

What is also difficult to accept is that my husband was a very sick man.  I never saw him that way.  I saw the life and good in him.  But, when you read a book or the newspaper or watch a movie or the news and you hear or see what people with severe depression and even those people who decided to take their life are like through unbiased eyes, you realize how ill they really must be.  When I look at him as an individual it is hard to see and accept that.  When I compare him to others, yes he is different, but there are commonalities that are hard to accept.  My husband suffered for most of his life and it took its toll and eventually his life, that is how bad it was. 

A final hard reality was the toll that this sickness took on myself and our marriage.  In my last post, I wrote about some of the things that made me angry.  I am angry for ways that he treated me:  controlling, manipulating, even degrading at times.  It was and still is very confusing to me when he was genuine and when he was acting in a way that was more of a self medicating or self survival mode.  That really has tainted some of my memories.  I have had to and am still working on accepting that hindsight is 20/20 and in the moment, I was very happy in the majority of my memories and marriage.  I need to accept that is okay and not try to break apart and analyze so much because I will never be able to truly get the honest truth that I so desire.  I need to accept my life with him as it was and just learn from it. 

Life moves on and it didn't pause for even just a moment throughout all of this.  Reality has made acceptance occur whether I have wanted it to or not.  We all have our battles and misfortunes, this just happens to be mine.  But that is life and despite everything, life is good. 

Monday, April 8, 2013


Shortly after my husband's death, I spoke to some people who expressed their anger towards him for what he did.  Some friends and even his sister told me they were so mad they yelled at him.  That was not the case for me.  There were times when I looked at my son and thought to myself, "How could you?"  For a moment or two I would be mad at him because our beautiful, amazing son doesn't have a father.  Often in those first few months I would say "Oh, what did you do?" out loud to myself.  But the tone in that was absent of anger.  I never really felt anger to the extent where I would feel as if I had dealt with the anger stage as I feel I have with the other grieving stages. 

Last week while I was home visiting my family over my spring break, I was chatting with one of my cousins.  We were talking about my grandmother and death and that led to my husband's passing.  I shared some more details with her that I don't think that she was aware of and then she began to share some about her own life.  She was able to make some connections with me and complimented me on being able to do what I did in staying here in NYC essentially alone and raising my child, alone.  She shared with me how angry she would have been had her husband left her in such a way with so much to take care of (aside from now living and raising a child alone).  And there is so much to take care of after one passes.  They are the little unseen things such as funeral expenses, closing bank accounts, settling credit card balances, and so many other things that had to be done at the worst possible time, but had to because we didn't have a will and nothing was in writing. These are often the common things that the people left behind get angry at.  Not only all of that, but the emotional side as well.  The confusing, emotional turmoil that the survivors are left behind to deal with.

I never held that kind of anger towards him.  I am extremely sad that I am raising my son without him.  I am sad for all that my son is missing out on by the absence of his father.  However, I am not angry that I was left the task of having to raise him by myself.  I have had my share of bad days, but it is both a priviledge and an honor to call such an incredible little boy my son.  Being a single mom is not easy, but it is not a burden either. One burden that I do feel is having to tell my son the truth one day about his father's death.  That is not a day I look forward to.  The only thing that I can do, is to build a foundation now of love and stability so that one day, he will be able to handle that devastation truth.  However, I can't say that I am angry at my husband for that either.  He loved our son so much, it only shows how desperate he felt to not consider that.  Again, sadness.  Financially, I am still able to afford and live in the same apartment which has been important not only for the convenience factor, but more importantly, the stability factor which I think was crucial in that first year after.  He left me with no debt of his own.  I have been able to maintain a similar lifestyle for both myself and my son.  How can I find anger when I am left with the best of him in our son and am financially stable?

Again, sadness overrode anger in the emotional side as well.  You cannot even being to express the sadness felt when someone that you love, someone you have an intimate relationship with, someone you are married to takes their own life.  I feel as if I understand why he did it, but the question I am left with is what caused him to feel that way inside?  I never understood the magnitude of the emptiness that he felt until it was too late.  There are questions that I have now that I wish I had asked, however, he never truly answered the questions that I did ask.  I was and still am consumed with sadness surrounding his death.

A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend of his just to catch up and she had wanted to see my son, whom she hasn't seen in well over a year.  We met for brunch and as we were eating she kept commenting on expressions that my son makes that are so much like his father.  She was telling me about things that made her think of him, etc.  For some reason, this meeting with her triggered within me, real anger for the very first time.  But, perhaps not the type of anger expected.  My anger was not directed at him for that final act.  My anger was directed at what was done, or not done, before his death.

I am angry at him for never taking care of himself.  He never went to a doctor the entire time I was with him.  He was asked and encouraged by both me and his family to.  But he never did.  He wouldn't even try St. John's Wart, just to see if it would help.  He refused any kind of treatment.

I am angry that he placed the key to his happiness, his well-being, in my hands.  That is a power too great to hand over to anyone else.  It was a burden that I carried for years without ever knowing.  He was so desperate to find self love and self worth, he took and he took from me.  And as his wife who loved him and could see the beauty within him, I gave and I gave.  Happiness comes from within, so what I gave to him was never good enough.  I am angry at him for making me feel that I wasn't good enough. 

I am angry for the way that he treated me over the years.  I am angry at him for his need to control situations and me as well.  I am angry at him for manipulating me so that he could retain that sense of control.  I am angry that I always felt like I was walking on eggshells.

I am angry that I have been left with tainted memories.  I am angry that I have been left confused about what was real and genuine and what was created out of a self survival need.  

I am angry that he couldn't give me time.  Time to heal and time to think about us and what to do.

I am angry that he couldn't just let our worst case scenario be a divorce. 

The button, that this friend pushed, was that I am always remembering him and speaking of him in a positive way.  But the hard truth is, he did some awful things in our relationship.  I am angry that I am still being ruled by his illness and the need to feel like I need to protect him.  I am angry because of this, I am painting him in a such a way as if the bad never existed.  This is not out of denial, but that in the way that he died, I have let it take away my freedom of expression.  And I am angry about that.  
I am angry that even as I write all of this, I can read back on all of my thoughts and emotions and find that many of them can be rationalized away.  I can see the effect that the disease had on him.  I am angry that I don't know what was genuinely caused by his disease and what was just him.  I am angry that he let it get to the point where I can no longer see him and his sickness as two separate entities as I had in the beginning. 

I am angry that he was sick.  


Saturday, April 6, 2013

An Update

Yesterday I received some very good news about my dog.  Her blood test results came back normal!  She doesn't have any kidney damage or disease.  That ham wreaked havoc on her little body.  But, she was able to come back home yesterday.  The problem now is that she is not eating.  I'm wondering if she is just scared to.  One time I shut the window on her head in the car... yah, she never popped her head out again.  One time I slammed the door on her tail and actually took the tip off... good God that was awful, but from then on, she always runs out the door.  (I really wasn't that bad of a dog mom!)  I just hope she starts eating soon so that other complications don't arise. 

I was at work when my father called me with the news.  My eyes immediately filled with tears and I had to take a moment to compose myself.  I was just so happy and relieved.  My spirits truly lifted, until tonight...

Unfortunately, my grandmother's diagnosis has not improved.  Actually, I was told just a few hours ago that she is now on a morphine drip which means that the end is coming very soon.  I know that my grandfather, my mother and her sisters are all there with her and will be until the very end.  I hope for my grandmother that she can feel the love surrounding her and that her passing is indeed a peaceful one.  For my family, I hope it comes sooner than later.  I'm sure they want to embrace every last moment, but waiting for the inevitable is grueling. 

This is all part of life though, isn't it?  :'(

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Double Punch to the Kidneys

It was my plan to focus in on those stages of grieving that I felt I needed to reflect on, however, I have other things that are on my mind tonight and ironically, they are fitting to follow my last post "Sadness."

My grandmother is dying.  It was confirmed for me tonight and the doctors are predicting that she will pass within the next two weeks.  My grandmother is not a healthy woman.  She has had her share of ailments over the years... diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and she can no longer see... but it is essentially her kidneys that are going to give out.  So until that time comes, she is going to be made as comfortable as possible and I was told that her passing will most likely occur in her sleep and it should be a peaceful passing.

I was very fortunate to have had last week off and that I was able to visit my family, including my grandmother during that time.  Just last week, the diagnosis was not yet determined to be as bad as it is now.  I figured though that it would be my last time seeing her, but there was still that possibility of hope that it wouldn't be.  She was in a rehabilitation center when I went to visit her.  I didn't stay for very long either time as she was tired one time and a bit aloof the other.  But I am glad I got to see her and talk to her a bit.

It is sad to know that your grandmother is dying even though it has come to the point where you wish for it to happen quickly so that she is no longer suffering in any way.  I was dealing with it well, until today.  Perhaps it was finding out that it will only be a matter of days to weeks or maybe it was the second dose of bad news that I got today.

My dog also has bad kidneys.  This I just found out today as well.  On Sunday, my dog got into some Easter ham and boy did it make her sick!  Since she now lives with my parents, my father took her to the vet on Tuesday.  They didn't do to much but to tell him to bring her back in if she is still ill in a couple of days.  So after eating and drinking little to nothing for the next day, my father brought her back in today.  They took blood work and her kidneys are not well.  They put her on an IV to clear out her system from all the junk that was in the ham and in the morning they will do another blood test.  The doctor said that her kidneys were not 100% to begin with, but will not know how bad it is for sure until tomorrow.  He gave my father hope that after clearing out her system, her numbers could come down.  If they do not, it is a very real possibility that she will need to be put down.

This is a complete shock!  She was completely herself the entire week that I was there and she wasn't showing any signs of slowing down and sickness before I arrived either.  I am really holding out hope for her and that her numbers (not sure exactly what that means and what numbers are considered "healthy") come down.  I will not let her live in pain and suffering, but if she is still capable of living pain free and can maintain a quality of life for as long as her kidneys will hold out, I can accept that.

She is an older dog.  She will be 11 in July, but I am just not ready to loose her.  I lost my husband in May of 2011, my other dog died in June of 2012... I don't want to say goodbye to her yet.  In many ways she represents to me the last link to my old life.  She isn't just a picture or a card.  She is a living reminder and purely authentic.

Yes, I know that I have my son and his role is a significant one.  However, when I look at the big picture, my son only took up a small portion of my time with my husband, only 20 months.  It was just the two of us and our dogs for 8 years before our son was ever even born.  We went through a lot with our dogs by our side.  This dog can remind me of those old times... when we lived in Rochester (our first apartment, our wedding day, the dog parks, the walks, the snow....), our move to Virginia (the house we purchased, swimming in the ocean, Hurricane Isabel, taking them on vacation to the Outer Banks), and finally our move to NYC (selling the house, getting used to a new way of living, a miscarriage).  This dog was the one that was with me the entire time before and after my husband passed away.  She greeted me and my son at the door when we came home from school when no one else was there to do it.  She kept me company at night after my son fell asleep and I was all alone.  Just like my son, I had to get up each morning for her to because she needed to be walked and I walked her each night as well.  She was with me for four months following my husband's death.  It was in the fall when my parents offered to take her for the winter so that I wouldn't have to take my son out in the cold to walk her.  She ended up staying with them mainly because my retired father really bonded with her and they kept each other company.  It was better for her to be there.  So I know that this comes at a terrible time for my parents as well who have come to love her even more than they already did. 

The waiting and uncertainty in both situations are triggering memories for me that I was feeling exactly two years ago with my husband.  He was in crisis mode by this time and you just didn't know what each day would bring.  It is uneasy, unsettling, and heart wrenching.  This is a difficult time of year for me to begin with, but all this is happening right now is making it all the tougher.

When and if the worst occurs, I know that there will be a great deal of pain.  I also know that time helps to heal those wounds and the pain.  Sometimes though, I don't want to scratch for a silver lining.  Sometimes it's okay to just say that things suck.  And it does.  But I will still say a prayer for my grandmother's peace.  I will also say one for my dog and that tomorrow will bring good news for her and my family. 


Sadness is taking your 3 year old son to the cemetery and having to explain to him that this is a place where people come to remember people that you love who have died.  It's having to tell him that we will not see Daddy here, but that we are going to go to a special place where we can look at his name and leave flowers next to it.  It is standing in front of the tombstone and telling your son that its okay to talk to Daddy and tell him that you love him and miss him. 

Sadness is trying to explain to your young son when he asks where Daddy is that he is dead and that means we won't ever be able to see him again.  That it means instead we can look at pictures and watch home movies and talk about him.  It is telling him that Daddy was sick when he asks why.  It's telling him that he can't go to heaven to see him, not anytime soon as you silently pray that you will never to live to see that day.   It is hearing the sweet, innocent voice that asks these questions that are the most natural ones to be asking.  It's listening to that same voice each night saying "Good night Daddy... I love you all the way to heaven and back.  I miss you" before going to sleep. 

Sadness is watching your son grow and learn and change and not having someone there to share in all of those precious memories.  It is knowing that there will never be any new memories made.  It is looking at pictures that have been outdated so quickly by the speed at which young children grow.  

Sadness is coming home to an empty, quiet home.  When once you were greeted by two dogs and a husband.  My female dog is now the only one left of those three and she now lives with my parents.

Sadness is knowing that there were so many other options and alternatives, but to him, they no longer existed.

Sadness is thinking about those last moments.

Sadness is the final act.

Sadness is all that was lost.

Sadness is trying to understand what it must have felt like to feel that this was the only way.

More than anything else, sadness is what I feel.  I feel so sad for my son who will never truly know his father.  Mostly, I am sad for my husband.  Completely, utterly sad for what was inside of him and for what may have happened in his life that made him feel that way.  I am so sad for all that he is missing out on.   Sad beyond expression.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


How do you escape thoughts and feelings of guilt?  It's like trying to shut out a storm from entering your home.  You check to make sure that all of the windows and doors are shut.  You even lock them for the extra security.  But there could always be that one you forgot and the wind and rain sneak in.  Or if not, there's that draft, just lurking letting you know its just beyond the safety you created within your home.

I mentioned previously how my therapist spent the day after he died with me focusing not on him, but on me.  She even made me repeat numerous times that it wasn't my fault.   And to be perfectly honest, I think that she, my core support group, and even his family to an extent, all tried in their own way to prepare and support me in such a way to help take away the guilt before.

What creeps up on you is just not the words, decisions, and actions made in the more immediate events leading up to it, but its so easy to look back years and years and the thoughts of "what if..." and "If only..." can capture your mind and hold it hostage if you let it.  And I went there, for sure.  But I didn't get stuck.  I had a great support group that wouldn't let me and I wouldn't let myself either.  I knew how to bring myself out or who to call to help me to get out of that potential trap.

I also think that it was important for me to explore those thoughts and work through them.  I have to admit that reading The Four Agreements really did play a significant role in my being able to not only keep the guilty feelings away, but to dissolve many of them as well.  All of the agreements helped, but the two that were especially helpful were "Don't take things personally" and "Always do your best."  Don't take things personally reminded me that I don't have that much power over somebody, even if they tell you that you do.  It really wasn't about me and what was going on in our lives and our marriage.  It was all about him and how he felt on the inside.  Did our situation have an effect?  Yes it did and that is where the draft of guilt seeped in.  But looking back on our 13+ years together, I can honestly say that I did my best.  I certainly made mistakes and I certainly was not perfect.  But I tried.  I tried my very best and I never acted out of spite or disrespect.  I really did make decisions based on love and respect.  It's easy to go back now and question things, but in the moment, I truly did my very best and that is probably the most substantial component to my ability to remain mentally healthy by keeping the guilt out.

At the time, there were many other aspects in my husband's life that were going very well for him.  He had just gotten promoted with a better paying and a better scheduled job.  Our son... was just perfect.  He had started going out a bit more with some emerging friendships.  It wasn't as if every area of his life was failing at the time.  That wasn't the case.

What I have learned is that you cannot change someone, no matter how hard you try.  You cannot make somebody see something that they do not or can not see.  You cannot force someone to want to live.  That is something that should be innately ingrained into us.  For some reason, that wasn't the case with my husband.  I don't believe that he wanted to die.  He did have so much passion for exploring the world and for living.  Therefore, I should rephrase... "You cannot force someone to want to live with an unbearable amount of pain and suffering."  You can only hold their hand and hope they will do everything available and possible to help alleviate that pain.  Unfortunately, love is not a cure.

Ultimately, I know that it was my husband's decision.  Any mistakes that I, he, family, friends, doctors made did not deserve this result.  I can see now in hindsight that his mental state was deteriorating slowly over the past few years.  But I cannot get lost in the questioning of timing or the future for that matter.  I also cannot lost in the past either.   I have found peace with those feelings of guilt.

One of the hardest feelings of guilt to admit are those of relief.  You see someone that you love and care about in so much pain that you can't help but to feel some relief that they will no longer have to suffer.  What is so difficult is knowing full well that his body was perfectly healthy.  It was all the turmoil within his mind that caused him to lose weight and to age and to act in ways that made him unrecognizable.  So there were feelings of relief for him and for myself included.  That took me a long time to be able to accept and admit that those feelings can coexist with the fact that I would never, ever wish this ending to have occurred. 

What I also have now are feelings of guilt in moving on.  I am working on now is not feeling guilty when someone else makes me feel happy.  I am trying hard not to feel guilty when someone else seems so natural that the process itself seems too easy.  I am sure that there will be other traces of guilt that will find their way in too, but now that I know they exist, I will be ready for them too.

Guilt... this is a tough one.  But it is definitely a stage that I have embraced.