Routine Then, Now Isn’t

While we are well past the 3rd anniversary. There is probably a lot to say, and I will probably feel better saying it – that is a theme of mine you know having things to write but not doing it –  for now this will have to do. I know that each year as the calendar moves me closer to  anniversary of Dave’s death it affects me differently. I suspect each one of them will have their own special kind of suck. The first year of course I was almost desperate for it to pass. Anxiously waiting the year of firsts to be over because then magically it would be better. It wasn’t. It wasn’t magically better, and not measurably worse either. In many ways it was disappointing. The “getting through the year of the firsts” magical elixir was for not.  The second year I didn’t want it to come, not sure how to “celebrate it” as one person said, more appropriately I wasn’t sure how to mark the day. I had become exhausted holding up his memory, living up to what I thought I was supposed to do, what I thought that people were thinking about what I should do and in the end I did nothing significant. I made sure, on that day, to connect with the people I loved most. I felt on the second anniversary it was most appropriate to celebrate those who made sure I got through the first. I just kept reminding myself he was more than the sum of the day, and some happy thoughts filtered in.

At the third anniversary  I found  myself in an unusually similar situation as when he died. I should start by saying I was going to name this post Boobs, or Save the Ta Tas! But I just couldn’t do it, but here we are and we are going to talk about my boobs a bit. See they are pretty much the bane of my existence. I have been considering a elective bi-lateral mastectomy for well about as long as I have had boobs. My physician thinks I have lost my mind and my medical care wont cover it anyway.  It isn’t some sort of self loathing or anything, it that because genes are the gifts that keep giving, I have a well above average chance of having breast cancer. There have been a couple of scares through the years, lots and lots of weird mammograms, various procedures of poking, prodding, and biopsy taking. So much so that the one time that my health care provider sent me a card saying my mammogram was okay Dave and I laughed out loud thinking they sent it in error – they did. I got a call back from my doctor asking for a follow up later that same week.

This is all so routine that when an appointment was made to see the specialist on March 5, 2014 I planned to go alone. Don’t misunderstand,  Dave went to so many of these appointments and it just became so frequent that I stopped asking him to go. They never turned out to be anything, and since we already had made the decisions on how we would proceed if one of those appointments turned out to be the ONE, well he was a phone call away. Just days before the third anniversary I found myself in exactly the same position – an appointment that is a follow up to the follow up – with the boob specialist. I am sure that isn’t her official title still she is the best of the best. While I was sitting in in my office on hold while the advice nurse was talking to the doctor looking at their schedules to fit me in “asap” as she said, crazy thoughts started to fill my head.

I started thinking what if I had asked him to go with me, would the day have turned out differently? Would he still be alive right now? My mind spun out several scenarios like: what if he had died at home, in our house. What would that have done to me? What if they could have revived him? Would I feel worse to have been there and been able to do nothing? Would I have been able to say good-bye when he was still alive, maybe not responsive but had a chance of hearing me? Could he have survived the aneurysm just not the car accident?  Could I have  had the chance to hold his hand so he knew he wasn’t alone when he left us? If he survived would it have impacted his quality of life to be sure – would he have died anyway but suffered for days? Of course the big question is:

Would I have had to make the decision no one wants to make but you do it because someone you love trusts you with THE decision when they can’t make it themselves? 

You probably think that technician left me on hold for hours to cover so much ground – nope it was probably only a few minutes. My mind is amazingly proficient at going to the dark side. In the end I obviously didn’t make it to that day’s appointment, almost 3 years ago. However a diligent friend made sure I followed up. That was a spectacular disaster. I went in to the appointment ready and quite sure that even if there had been someting the universe could not be that unkind that I would go through that alone. The appointment went fine until the doc asked me how I noticed the change and I burst out into tears and told her that Dave was the one who sounded the alarm and now he was dead, which is why I cancelled the first appointment (she has noted that when the appointment started) and I was a blubbering mess. Did I mention I was the first appointment of the day, bet I ruined it for her, I have a knack for that. So they brought me some water told me I could wait as long as I wanted. I actually ended up falling asleep for a just a bit and woke to found myself covered with a blanket and the lights lowered. When I finally tried to sneak out I was  met by a nurse who clearly was there to keep tabs on me. Those nurses can be sneaky little creatures. She brought me a little snack and offered to walk me to my car.

Thankfully over the past three years things in the boob department have been status quo and still fine. This last bout was nothing to be alarmed about in the end, because it is routine for things to be not be routine. I truly was not all that concerned about the appointment because if it is something a) it is very early, b) I have a plan, and c) I have a great team. I am however shocked that this once routine thing isn’t now so routine. I think this is going to be like that one scent that can transport you in time and space. This type of appointment, I am guessing, from now on will remind me of where I could have been that day. Remind me of why I wasn’t in the car that morning, and leave me with questions that will never be answered.

It seems, for better or worse, that some questions are never to be answered. I am learning to live with that.

Soundtrack

Looking through my journal I see how much time I put in listening to sad song radio. I think I have mentioned this before. I have a channel on Pandora that I call sad song radio. I used to have (I am sure it is still rattling around here somewhere) an iTunes play list with the same name. I am just not good at crying, and sometimes need some inspiration to bring on the tears. Don’t misunderstand it isn’t that I never do it, it just doesn’t come easy. Which is a shame because I always feel better after a good cry. I well-up from time to time but that is about it. I am also not saying it is the way to be. It is just who I am. If I have cried in front of you it is either because I have stubbed my toe or it’s because you’re important to me, I feel safe with you. I love you and know that you love me.

I think music is the most powerful force on this here earth. I mean come on – it can make ME cry. Seriously though, music moves my soul, it is as essential as water and shelter. Okay that sounds dramatic but it is the truth. There is road trip music, party music, everyday cleaning the house tunes, and yes sad song radio. Let’s not forget the age old and best tribute to love – the mix tape. I am not ashamed to say that I miss the days of the mix tape. I have loved more deeply the mixed tapes I have been given than the boys who gave them to me. Damn I miss the mix tape! I digress… again, it’s my blog right.

Any way – I am always searching out music that resonates to me or sometimes speaks for me. Music that says the words that I want to say but can’t seem to summon. Of course I have yet to find the exact perfect song. Most songs have parts or portions of what I want to say or I think are telling my story … but there is always one line or stanza that doesn’t quite fit. When I am looking for music to put me in a particular mood I just over look those not quite perfect fit parts. Take for example Miles by Christina Perri. This song has certainly been in high rotation. The song is almost perfect  except the part where the love story ends. So I loudly and passionately sing:

Kiss me on my shoulder
Tell me it’s not over
I promised to always come home to you
Remind me that I’m older
To be brave smart, sweet and bolder
And don’t give up on what we’re trying to do

Oh and this part:

We made it out
And all the other people are asking how
This doesn’t even sound like truth
To grow from a bruise
But one day we will realize
How hard it was, how hard we tried
And how our hearts made it out alive

I have no idea what this song means to Ms. Perri. Music is art and we all see art differently. With that I just kind of hum the parts I don’t like. There is a part about not making it alone – obviously that part isn’t me. Then the love story part ends bad, I don’t relate to that part either. The first part speaks to me – who doesn’t want to be told to be brave, smart, sweet, and bolder – who doesn’t want to be brave, smart, sweet, and bolder? I do! The next part.. well that is how I feel right now – that all the good in my life (and there is so much good, great, and wonderful) has come from a bruise. Albeit bruise may be understating it a bit, but it reminds me that bruises heal. That I have healed. That the heart is resilient and will do its best to fight and most often (when you are willing to make the fight) that you will come out to the other side. So great song, speaks to me, parts could speak for me. Close to perfect.

Albums are a lost treasure, they are often created around a theme or story the artist is trying to convey. People don’t usually buy full albums anymore, or listen to the music in the order the artist intended. Lonely, also on the Miles album by Christina Peri,  is a song about loss, maybe not death, but in some cases loss is loss. When I was floundering and was “a ghost of a girl that I wanted to be most, a shell of a girl I used to know well” this song seemed most assuredly how the future was to be.

I remember spending a lot of time in the first year just wanting to rush through it. I kept thinking – once I get to the end of the first year that there will be some tremendous relief (there wasn’t). I had to balance that with reminding myself that (for me) it was best to take everything as it came. To work through, and not rush through it to ensure that I was healing. I spent hours searching for music that would serve as  the soundtrack of my recovery.

The song November by Azure Rae was certainly an anthem of the first year. November is both sad and yet recognized that I still needed to be strong and “find it within myself.”

Then the day came that living caught up in the grief became too much and I said – I just need five minutes of sun. Five minutes to be someone else. Five minutes of not being sad, of being anything other than who I am. A place to escape – and while it may not be the most “happy” song, pandora in that moment gave me the Beatles Blackbird.  I have always loved the Beatles and this song. I don’t know what played next because I shifted to my iPod and listened to Blackbird on loop. I sat there on the bathroom floor in tears, in 4 day old clothes, for probably an hour. It was a different type of cry, and when I stood up and climbed in the shower I half expected to see a different version me sitting there on the floor when I got out.

The hot water didn’t wash away what happened or the grief, but it did help me wake up to the fact that it was time. Time to try something a little different. I knew that  my body and mind could not handle being “there” any longer. That at some point I hadto become part of the healing process. All of the salves (my friends, family, dog, and therapist) were helping but I had to be part of the process too. I had to want to heal. It took a long time but something happened on that random day, in that not planned hour to take even the tiniest of steps forward.

I remember putting on clean jammies after that. I have no idea what time it was but it was early in the day. I changed the sheets and went back to bed. I slept in a dreamless, sound way I hadn’t in a very very very very very long time. I wish I could say I woke up refreshed. I didn’t. I had cried in my sleep. It was dark and I was a little disoriented. Sabina and I both needed dinner – and wanted dinner – a good sign. For me. She always wants dinner. But that night when I sat down I turned on Pandora I dialed in my best of 80’s radio instead of sad song radio.

I still retreat to sad song radio every once in a while. However the song on loop today is Another Day of Sun (Lala Land Soundtrack), Sara Bareilles I Choose You, and Brandi Carlile’s The Story. Lets be real here – anything by Brandi doesn’t just make me smile, it fills my soul; even the sad songs.

Just one turn of the dial. It wasn’t huge, but then again t was. Music had transported me, rescued me – again. My earliest memories are of music, I assume my last ones will be too.

 

 

 

 

Grateful with a Side of Guilt

After Dave died I thought the world was coming to an end, that everything had changed, that nothing would ever be right – that nothing would ever be the same. The world in my mind seemed, at least my little part of it, so vastly different than it had been before. Oh how I fought any change! With every fiber of my being I resisted the world changing; all the while I also was feeling appalled that the world kept turning.  I fought it until I could fight no more. I fought it till I was exhausted beyond my comprehension of exhaustion. The battle between feeling angry the world had changed completely, and having the realization that the world didn’t change at all was overwhelming. I fought it until I completely lost myself to the struggle and I finally could see that I was the one who changed. The difference in the world was me.

Obviously for so many people our reality is different. The plans we made and the things that we thought were true – that we would all grow old together, that we had more adventures together. The thought that Dave, a rock and constant in so many lives, would just be here like always was not as permanent as we believed, as we knew them to be. The facts were painfully there the whole time I was battling against it. The sun and moon still rose and set with predictable regularity. Groceries still needed to be bought, bills paid, lunch with friends, Christmas lights hung and Christmas lights put away. Sabina still needed to be walked, still needed to go to the ocean, and eat as much kibble as she could (and still does) trick me into giving her.

The rational me knows that change should have been expected from the onset. The emotional me just couldn’t fathom that I could survive more change. More so I had the inability to visualize moving through, this whole let alone becoming better. Somewhere along the line, for me embracing the changes became crucial to survival. I can’t explain it really it just sort of happened. It became comforting. It also became a source of guilt. Grief and guilt – the dynamic duo.

I am grateful for so many things but mainly for the things I am learning about myself and for the way I see the world. Life is not perfect but my goodness it is pretty close to it. I am not perfect, not close to it, but I have learned more than I thought possible about self care, about how strong I am, about giving myself a break. I have learned how to set boundaries, what is acceptable treatment (and what isn’t), prioritizing  and patience. I have learned so very much about patience. I have learned that five year plans are stupid, that housework can wait when a wonderous adventure is presented, friends and friendships change, more people than I even knew love me, and that I could fall deeply in love again.

I am resigned to the fact that there will always be somewhere, a sigh of melancholy and a whisper of guilt. It isn’t constant. It isn’t top of mind. It just creeps in every once in a while – unexpected, uninvited, unwelcome and uncontrollable.  Every once in a while I am washed over with sadness that he has missed something that he would have loved. We all know the big stuff that he has and will miss – but it is usually the little things that bring this up. My niece is texting now and Uncle Dave would have dug that, being able to send her stuff, to check in on her. There have been other little things like friends becoming grandparents, crazy road trips, and the things that just make you say : seriously? When or how did that happen?

 

The truth is that so many things have happened in the wake of Dave’s death. Some good, some bad, others weird and many crazy. The thing is things do and will happen. That is life and not something I even control, let alone should feel guilty about.

I will work on that.

Not Gonna and You Can’t Make Me

I wrote the post below almost two month ago and like I already explained, I tucked it away in that folder marked draft, not yet ready to hit the publish button. Tonight it is okay to hit that button though for some weird reason. Probably because I think I just read the funniest thing ever in print. A good dead husband laugh is apparently what I needed. The web allows us to remind ourselves that no matter what our journey, we are not alone. The web erases the vast seas between us geographically and brings us this gem from Wife After Death (the whole post can be found here.)

“The prospect of interring your spouse is a bit like being asked to sleep with Prince Charles. In a way, it should be a great honour, but you’d give anything not to have to do it.”

Had I had these words on the day of Dave’s funeral I would have evoked them. Now they are a just a great way to start this post… here is what I wrote:

Did I tell you about the time that I decided not to go to my husbands funeral? No – sit a spell it was a pretty spectacular.

Funerals suck. Don’t tell me that this one time you went to a truly great funeral, because you didn’t. Someone died and that is never a good time. Now – you may have gone to a funeral that was pretty good – for a funeral, but it wasn’t a good time. Stop, I know that one celebration of life was beautiful and the doves, and the singing. Oh lord the singing was amazing – and the poems! Never heard more fitting poems, psalms, stories told. I  know it was so nice it was to see great Aunt Ida (and it may have been, as funerals often become impromtu family reunions). You’re going to tell me it was nice day because there was  laughter, there often is, still that doesn’t make it a good time. You forgot to tell me how great George looked – for a dead guy. I got it, for a dead guy he looked freaking great, almost not dead at all.

Funerals are for the living, and that is fine. I understand the need for the grieved to come together to be part of the shared emotion, to have an outlet for their pain, to support the people left behind. That is just not my sort of deal. I hate funerals, not because I am afraid of dying or for me quite possibly worse – crying in public. It is that the few funerals I have gone to are burned into my mind and not what I want to recall first about the person who passed, and yet it almost always is. Rememeber the mantra here is: that Dave is more than the day or way he died. He is more than the funeral too.

Unfortunately for one of my closest friends and her husband – their job was to collect me and deliver me to the funeral; while everyone else on the planet was doing whatever else needed to be done. About 3:00 am I decided – I did not need to go.  I certainly didn’t need to do any more grieving, crying, or screaming. I truly didn’t have the strength to care for anyone else who was grieving, crying, or screaming – appalled? Well it was the truth. Hell is still is the truth. I had printed what I was going to say – give that to another bestie, she could and would do it. Just like that all of the bases covered.

I got up, unlocked the door – no need to have the husband kick it in and went back to bed. I feel the need to be clear here. This was not some crazy crying jag decision. I had been sitting up in bed, pillows propped up, and I ran through the reasons I did – or more importantly didn’t need to be there. I checked off the todo list and knew who would cover what. I made the conscious decision to engage in self care and there wasn’t anything that pointed to going would be good for me. I got up put on my robe, walked to the door unlocked it, and went back to bed.

I couldn’t even tell you when they got there but I was in bed with Sabina (the dog). We were quite content. I have amazing sheets, we were snuggled in for the long haul. I don’t think they were shocked that I was in bed, but probably not ready for the … and I am not going part. So they said we were all going but we didn’t have to leave just then – we probably did but I am guessing they wouldn’t start the party with out me – and they took the only option they had. They climbed in bed with me. We layed there for a very long time. We talked, we cried. We snuggled with the now jealous Sabina, who had to get on top of all of us. Still not convinced I needed to go I reluctantly got up.

There was a quick discussion that a shower was needed. I should say I wasn’t part of that discussion but a shower was done none the less. Have you ever heard the old Bill Cosby record, my dad used to play it all the time, where he talks about kids taking showers and you have to say – get under the water, use soap, put the soap on your body, rinse off blah blah. Well that was pretty much the scene. There was hair to be dryied and styled and make up to be put on. That was a hoot. I totally started cracking up because I couldn’t help but thinking about the scene from the movie My Girl which takes place at a funeral home. Seriously.

If you haven’t seen it – do. It is cute and sad movie. Not to give too much up, but Jamie Lee Curtis is a make-up artist and while teaching a young girl how to use make up she says:

“Now, the first rule in applying eye make-up is you can never wear enough blue eye shadow.”

That line cracked me up then and cracks me up now. I love blue eye shadow and lets just say not everyone shares Ms. Curtis’ opinion. Whatever.

There I was sitting there like this girl friend and I had many times before as younger women –

(including one night where we dressed up like widows for a Halloween party because her husband and Dave were jerks and wouldn’t go with us. Even in hindsight it is still very very funny. Widows. My god I wish there were pictures. Black pantyhose, veils, monopoly money and life insurance peeking out of our old lady black bags; and mascara running down our faces – and for some reason we had British accents. Got nothing on that part.)

– put make up on each other. Well because I pretty much suck at putting make up on, it was usually her putting make-up on me. Still like so many times on this journey I was transported to another time, and it was a sweet respite.

While all that nonsense was going on the husband has busied himself with some house work, got the dog ready to go, and had the task of reading what I planned to say. He was the only other person to read it. He was the only person I trusted to tell me that I had lost my mind. Some how we all got in the car, we made our way to the funeral, we all survived the day. If I had to make the choice again I couldn’t tell you what I would do, even with what I know today. The reason I went in the end was that I knew that this was a one shot only deal. There would be no do overs and I was pretty sure that if there was regret it would be that I didn’t go, not that I went.

So now you know. I wasn’t going to go. Didn’t want to go. Didn’t think I could survive, could manage – but I did. We all did. When I think back on that day, in all honesty, it was pretty much a blur. There are just a few moment that I remember. I don’t remember much about what I did or said when I was standing in front in front of those friends and families. I just hope that when everyone left they said they had a nice time… no a great time.

You know, for a funeral.

Timber!

You know the old question – if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it fall does it make any sound? Well, I don’t know about that but I do know that when a fully decorated Christmas tree falls down in your living room in the middle of the night about 30 feet away from your bed the only one who hears it is Sabina – the dog. It wakes her up, she goes and investigates and that makes the other dog stir, who you tell to go back to sleep. You don’t get up yourself and investigate. Instead you assume that Sabina is hot and just moving to somewhere cooler in the house. Then the APIC gets up early the next morning to go to work and when he sits down to put on his shoes and looks out the front window – which should be blocked by the tree – he thinks we are in the middle of a holiday nightmare and that someone stole the tree.

Fortunately (?) that wasn’t the case. No stolen tree – just an 8-foot beast of a tree was on its side in a mess of broken ornaments and bulbs. There were pine needles and water everywhere, and then two dogs up in the mix who thought they could help. Quite frankly it was a freaking mess. Immediately though some good thoughts run through my head – the girls (dogs) are okay, it didn’t go the other way and bust through what would have been some very expensive windows, it is just a tree. It feels good to be in control and not loosing my mind. It feels good to be able to tackle the clean up and know that nothing was lost that can’t be either replaced or lived with out. It felt good to go to the good and not to the bad – which years ago was exactly where I would have gone. I have missed that.

As of late I think, in hindsight now of course, that I have been feeling a little out of control and out of sorts. Feeling like I have lost touch with a little bit of the grace that I had come in to. I am good at hiding those feelings, even to myself.  The tree falling down wasn’t catastrophic and I think I needed to have something craptastic to remind me what true catastrophe is – this wasn’t it. Still  even if it was, it was something to remind me that I GOT THIS. All of it.  Yep, for you regular readers (although I haven’t been regularly writing – more on that below)  this was the universe telling me that very thing. I guess she (my universe is a she) has been reminding me this subtly for weeks and I needed a louder message. Message received.

We did loose some bulbs. In fact we lost several of what I would call my favorite ones. Favorite for many reasons and they were beyond repair. However at least a dozen other things were also broken – but able to be salvaged. In fact, except poor Buzz Lightyear who is now sporting some space war wounds, everything else is pretty much back to new on the outside. Isn’t that how most of us are at some point? Pretty good on the outside, despite whatever might be happening on the inside. Which get us to the part about not writing…

You see I have been writing. In fact I have written more in the past few weeks than ever. I also have a ton of notes and “starters” as I call them; waiting for a quiet time to work them out on “paper.” For example:

I wrote a funny little piece about refusing to go to Dave’s funeral. Didn’t publish it, but did go to the funeral.

I wrote something called I have 93 problems – of which I made up 87 of them. Didn’t publish it.

I wrote “I get it – I am not your cup of tea anymore” about how I have changed and that has changed my relationships. Didn’t publish it.

There is also one called Honoring Dave, explaining how Dave is part of my Christmas celebrations. Are you sensing a trend here…. I didn’t publish that one either.

I hear your cries of WHY NOT – thank you loyal readers! The simple answer was I didn’t know why. I felt good and in some cases better writing them, but just couldn’t. Not didn’t. Literally couldn’t hit the publish button. Then in one morning the tree fell down – and I survived and didn’t think Christmas was ruined. The same day a friend shared that she had shared my blog recently and I felt bad that I wasn’t living up to my promise to myself to write it out – for me and maybe be able to help someone else. While I was sitting and thinking on all of that  I read and amazing post Because You Died by Michelle Hernandez on Soaring Sprits International (read it here). Michelle wasn’t even supposed to write that day, she was subbing for someone else. Universe.

The tree got me back in touch with the grace I thought I had lost in my actions and thoughts; and her post got me over something that was sticking in the back of my mind, hanging out in  the bottom of my heart –  I didn’t even know it was there lurking – probably having a nice tea and cracker with my good friend Grief…. Jerks.

 If you hadn’t died I would not have learned that not wanting to do a thing is not the same thing as being unable to do that thing, I am more capable than I imagined.  If you hadn’t died I would be living an entirely different life. If you hadn’t died I would not be the woman I am today.

There seems always to be some buzz around the widow world about whether a remarried widowed person dishonors their new spouse by continuing to discuss the ways their widowhood experience impacts their lives; our current life, the one that is happy and includes a new love and many, many new blessings. I can only speak for myself, but here is my thought, how could my past not influence my future? Especially a past which has created the person I am today.

I don’t think of the differing ways I have filled in this loaded sentence to be a balance sheet. There is no way to measure out in even amounts what I lost and what I have gained. I didn’t have a choice about my life circumstance. All I can do is make the most of what lies ahead, in honor of the potential that exists with each day that I draw breath.

So while the ruminations about life without Phil continue to mill about my brain, my ability to love my husband Michael is firmly rooted in the love I once knew with Phil. Not in exchange, but in addition.

Phil’s death has taught me more lessons than I can count, but perhaps the most powerful lesson imparted by grieving a man I love from the depths of my soul is that at the end of any life what remains is love.  Love well.

Do you need a minute? I did. (I added the bold)  I have seriously have read those words about 100 million times. I have the most APIC, family and friends who have made it clear that there is room for me, my grief, and well – Dave, in this life. They have told me time and time again in word and action. However somehow (just wait until you read 99 problems) I made nothing into something – again. Somehow I spun a story that by posting it somehow said I wanted that old (unattainable) life more than this one, that I didn’t love the life I had now. That I was stuck. See how good I am at making crap up?

That’s it. So now, I see and feel that instead of catastrophe there has been a little grace found, writing courage renewed, and the overwhelming sense of being okay with who I am, and it all started with that damn tree falling down.

I knew the base was too small – went with it anyway.

Just like we all know our person could die, but we give into love anyway. It’s called living.

It is okay to live, living is good.

 

 

 

Ladies Don’t Snore

At least I don’t. I guess that makes my dog Sabina not much of a lady, she certainly much more akin to a bawdy sailor than a lady to be sure. There was one night many years ago when I mistook her snoring for Dave’s. After I woke him up, in the most pleasant manner one can at 3:00am =), I realized my mistake. The next day I remember reading a post made by one of my Facebook friends. It was a reposting about a woman who had been widowed after being married for 60 years to a champion snorer, among other things.

Admittedly that was also during a tough time for me personally and I was sorting out quite a few things for myself and in an instant I felt gratitude for the snoring in my life. It was quite eye opening – in her letter she wrote that she would give anything to pick up his dirty socks, to hear him complain again, for the one-millionth time about the neighbor kids playing in their yard, to hear him snore. Of course I thought that I knew what she was talking about, I thought I could relate, and in a way I could. It was a wake up message at a time I not only needed it, but was receptive to receiving it. It was the start of a kinder gentler me.

Now, of course, I truly get it.

I am not writing this post to guilt anyone into not being irritated at socks left around, or snores that keep you up at night. From time to time when I need grounding or to remember who I am, where I am at I re-read my posts. So I write this for that time I am so afraid will come, when I forget to be here in the moment. Here is what I want my future too busy, too tired, too impatient, so hope I don’t need this, me to read:

If at night when you have closed your eyes and are close enough to someone that you hear them snoring you are lucky. You are most likely loved. And all of that should never ever be taken for granted because you don’t know when that will be taken.

I know pretty deep stuff for a lazy Friday afternoon, I am glad those words just poured out of me, and could be written in gratitude. Not through grief. The thing is that I don’t think you need a person to be whole or full, and the perpetrator may be of the four legged variety.  I hope that you would only find yourself, that I would only find myself in the situation to over hear the snoring of someone I care deeply for, who cares deeply for me. That someone may be your partner-in-crime, your bestie who stayed over for an impromptu slumber party (yes I am over 40, sleepovers don’t have an age limit), or your best puppy girl (or boy), or even your cat. Yes I had a cat that not only snored but he drooled in his sleep.

This post has been ruminating around in my brain since I posted the picture of puppy-in-training Raley snoring last week. I probably sound like a merry-freaking sunshine making lemonade out of life’s lemons, and that is okay. It is still okay that in the moments when you are doing the “if I go to sleep right now I still can get 2 hours and 7 minutes of sleep” thing while your partner, dog, whatever is happily singing the song of slumber through their nose that you really just want to punch them hard in the side, wait – I mean caress them gently to wake them – to make it stop already. But right before you do – listen to it for just a moment. Commit it to memory. Be surprised in the comfort of it all.

Don’t however be like the husband of one of my friend’s who recorded her and played it at a dinner party. Although it was pretty hilarious….

(No More) Waiting for a Special Occasion

One of my greatest fears in this whole mess is that in the time and space since Dave last walked out the door I will forget things. Let us face it my memory, except for dog’s names, isn’t that great to begin with. I am horrible with names, again except for dog’s names, horrible with birthdays, anniversaries, and of course passwords – even the ones with dog names. In the blurry days after Dave died I was given and I took the excellent advice to write down everything I could remember about Dave. It was explained that through the fog of the grief and struggle to recover that many people experience a second and even more guilt ridden loss – the:  OMG I forgot fill in forgotten thing here…. It could be the way someone looked, or they way the sounded, the food they liked or didn’t. It is something that on any other day of the year before they died you would known like you know the name of your dog.

Probably because I did the journal that horrible second phase, I am so grateful, passed me by. Thankfully most memories come back easier now than they did over two and half years ago. I still add to the journal, admittedly not as much, but now I do it for my sake as much as anyone else who may need to sit down someday and remember the weird things I captured about Dave.

What I am most afraid of now is that I will forget what I have learned. See I truly do not believe that Dave died for any other reason that he was in a fatal vehicle accident as a result of a catastrophic medical event. I do not believe that his death was because of something either one of us did, it wasn’t a punishment, it wasn’t because of some plan bigger than myself. It happened because it happened. Bad things happen to very good people. I know this as my truth in the deepest core of my being. That said I don’t want his death to be in vain either.Learning things, truly learning things are the one of the few things I where I find solace.

As I have said time and time again: his death changed me in profound ways. I call these changes my inheritance from Dave. I am a kinder, gentler person, better in many ways than I was before. That is hard to admit but this space is about honesty, and I can’t be much more honest than that. I tell people “it isn’t like I have become one of those fanatical you only live once people.” I have been known to say “it’s not like I think we are all going to die tomorrow.” However the truth is that I have become that person. Almost everyday I think about how short life is. A major part of my decision making process contains the thought life is short – should I do this now, is it really that important, is it more important than the other things on the list? I am certainly not going to jump out of a plane again or anything – but I am going to use the good china whenever I feel like it. I am not going to wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Or so I thought.

Last week came equipped with a couple rough days and I was considering taking refuge in an amazing, excruciatingly hot bubble bath, reading until the water was cold and I was a prune. As I am getting ready to do that my Apic (that would amazing partner  in crime and yes I just made that up) said – hey use that bath stuff we brought home from Panama. I said – no we should save that for a special occasion. Yep those words came right out of my mouth. A special occasion, I said it. You have all read that story on Facebook about the man who was cleaning out his wife’s dresser after she died and found some exquisite expensive beautiful lingerie in her drawer she never wore because she was saving it for a special occasion… that was going to be me.

In my defense I had already put some bubbly stuff in the water so I did save it, but gave myself a stern talking too. Then it happened again the next week, but I was better prepared this time!

We decided to go to a nice restaurant that I hadn’t been too yet. I felt myself getting ready too say – shouldn’t we save that for a special occasion? Calmer heads prevailed and I realized that a Tuesday was reason enough to be special. When I think that so far there have been about 15570 days in my life, and less than 2300 of them have been Tuesdays – that makes Tuesday a special occasion. Don’t get me wrong I understand the concept of diminishing returns (thank you Mr. White / Center High School), and so I will still hold things to be savored, to be looked forward too. But those things are going to be far and few between.

For now I am going to do my best and not forget, I hope I never forget, the lesson that every day is a special occasion. I hope I never forget that laundry truly can wait to read one more story to a little human, no TV show is more important than taking a walk with your dog, putting off some yard work for just few minutes while you text someone just to let them know they popped into your head , staying up way past your bedtime to bake for a friend is so very worth it the tireds the next day, and going to a nice dinner at a new place (or going back to that place) on a Tuesday is special.

Every freaking day is a special occasion.

Don’t convince yourself it isn’t. You would be very wrong.