Monday, September 30, 2013

Where I've Been Going

When I started this blog years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would blog twice a week.  And for a couple of years...I stuck to it.  But lately, life has been getting in the way and so I'm going to make that promise again (yes, I'm re-promising) - not because I think the world is so interested in my life, but because this blog has become a diary of sorts to me.  Through it, I have documented so much during the last few years and it's been such a help for me to see where I've been and how far I've come.

Bottom line...I need to get back to it.  For me.

I've tried to write as honestly as I can - some moments have been funny, some not so much.  As many
of you know, I've written a book that will be coming out in January that, much like the blog, is raw, funny (I hope), talks about the lessons I've learned and some that took me a while to get.  I've worked on this book, off and on, for years and even now when I read the early copy of it, I have a hard time believing that I went through what I did.

A feeling that I'm sure all of us widows and widowers share.

And now it's here - a new chapter in my life (no pun intended.  Well, maybe it was a little).  This moment in my life that I've worked so hard to get to - talking to people about publicity, book signings, and above all, hopefully getting out and meeting so many of the online friends I have made who have helped me through this journey.

I can't wait.  And I want to remember it all.  So...back to blogging.


I'm going to honest with you.  This summer pretty much blew chunks (to use a colorful phrase from my children).  I went into it thinking that I would make it the best it could be since last summer also blew.  But the truth is, sometimes we can go into times in our lives with the sunniest outlook possible and still have fate rain on our parade.  And this summer was a downpour.


I'm typing this from the new "office space" I've carved out of my bedroom because my basement office has been underwater most of the summer.  It is now waterless, but also carpet-less and in some spots drywall-less.  Framing is exposed and everything has been turned upside down.  I've documented this in previous blogs where I went from crying hysterically to my parents to shrugging my shoulders at the gallons and gallons of water that came pouring through my window.  And now, I'm to the point where I need to contact so many contractors I feel paralyzed.  So, after I type this...I'm going to start making a list so that I can bite off small chunks at a time.

Because sometimes baby steps is what it takes to get through.

Lots of other small things happened that made this summer one to remember (and not in a good way).  After the last two years, I'm already kind of dreading the summer of 2014 because I think I'm discovering that it's just not my season.  Yesterday I took my kids up to the see the changing leaves in the Colorado mountains, less for the beauty and more to embrace fall and say, "Thank God you're here.  You have no idea how much I've missed you."

I know that someday I will look back on this summer and admire myself for how strong I was (most of the time).  But right now, all I can say is that it really blew.

And to quote Forrest Gump:  "That's all I have to say about that."


A while back, I wrote a blog about a funeral I attended for a former neighbor who lost her son when he was just in his twenties.  I have thought of her so many times, but (and I swore I would never do this) haven't talked to her in a while.  

Really.  I should know better.

I ran into her last week at Hobby Lobby.  We stood in the fabric section, catching up on pretty meaningless news and then I said, "Okay.  The dreaded question.  How are you really doing?"

And she's okay.  Or as okay as we all were when we went through an unimaginable loss, which is to say she probably wasn't.  But she did what we all are able to do sometimes - talk about what has happened and how our lives have unfolded since then with dry eyes that we can't explain because moments later we'll get in our cars and hear a song that will make us cry our eyes out in the parking lot.

But somehow we got on the topic of the crazy things people say after loss - you know, the thing most of us shake our heads in wonder about.  And pretty soon we were both laughing so hard we could hardly speak.

"Some woman was complaining to me about her husband's death right after my son's death and actually said to me 'why couldn't it have been my son?'," she said, laughing so hard at the absurdity of it she could hardly speak.

I couldn't help it.  I started cracking up, too.

"Some woman told me about a friend of hers just days after my husband's death who was in an accident similar to my husband's and was decapitated," I countered.

Which sent us into another roar of laughter.

Other women walked by wide-eyed as she and I laughed harder than I've laughed in months about her son who I know she misses with all of her heart and my husband who I'm still trying to learn how to live without.  We leaned on our carts for support and finally dried our eyes.

"People don't get this," I said, finally calming down.

"Nope," she said, taking a deep breath.  "But if you can't laugh at it sometimes, you'll go crazy."


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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Flash Flood

I have a tendency to freak out about things that will probably never happen.

This goes beyond the usual irrational worries that we all have.  My friends love to joke about my fear of rogue waves (that developed after watching a special on TLC) and every time I pass by all of the construction near my house, I wonder if we're about to be engulfed in another dust bowl (thanks to that documentary that was on last year).  My stress dreams usually involve being surrounded by at least ten tornadoes and if there is any indication of rain, I stay clear of the mountains to avoid any chance of a flash flood.

My land-locked home is my haven.  It has been my place of comfort since my husband died.  Sure, I've been through some tornado warnings and yes, we've had some drought issues.  But for the most part, I have been lulled into a sense of false comfort, thinking that if something bad was going to happen to my safety zone, it would have happened already.

Silly me.

I realized how foolish I had been as I was watching water stream into my closed basement window during a flash flood-type rain last week.  The plaster bubbled underneath the frame and I helplessly watched my basement carpet disappear under water.

There wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.

It was so bad - so bad -  that it was pointless to try and stop it.  I watched as my window well completely filled with water and there was nothing I could do except let it run out into the basement.  My neighbors and my parents rushed over with wet vacs, towels, and steam cleaners to suck up the water.  We all ran around clearing furniture and trying to save the saveable.  They all watched me carefully, positive that a nervous-breakdown was imminent.

But it never came.

There is something about events that are so bad, there is nothing you can do but watch them play out.  I didn't feel helpless...I felt resigned.  If it had been a small amount of water seeping in, I would have been panicked trying to keep it under control.  But a flood - all I could do was stand back and watch.

That's not to say I wasn't upset.  I was.  Not in that moment, but the next day when I was so exhausted from the night before, I felt like I couldn't take another step.  I couldn't wrap my head around all that needed to be done and it all seemed overwhelming.  That's when that old widow feeling - "why am I here dealing with this alone?" - seeped in and I spent the day crying.

Not a painful sob.  Just a constant stream.  Much like I had witnessed the night before in my basement, I knew that I was powerless to stop it.  My body didn't clench up in the fight to keep the tears at bay.  I knew they needed to come.  It's quite possible that they'd needed to come for a while for various reasons.  It just took a storm to release them.

And so I had my own personal flash flood that day.  I just let it go because I knew I needed to.  And by the time I put the kids to bed that night, I was so exhausted there was no way I could keep my eyes open long enough to worry.  The next day, I woke up so dry-eyed, no one would have ever guessed the necessary breakdown I'd had the day before.  I made phone calls, appointments with contractors, and met with my insurance adjuster.  And while I can never say that I'm grateful that my basement is underwater and my entire house smells like a mixture of wet dog and damp sponge, this whole thing was yet another reminder that we are never as in control as we think we are.

All we can do is take each moment one at a time.

Do the best we can to solve the problems that we face.

And weather the storm the best we can.