He’s Even Gone From My Pantry

He’s not entirely gone, but he’s going.

Before being widowed, I had some idea of what it would be like if it were to happen.  Am I the only one who indulges in these morbid fantasies?  I don’t think I am, because it happens so often in movies.  Other people must sometimes also think, “what if the unthinkable happens?  What would that be like?”

You know that half of the bed will be empty.

You know his spot on the sofa will be taken over.

You know his chair at the dinner table will go unused.

You know your life will change so dramatically that you won’t be able to understand it.

You don’t know all of the tiny things that will change, reflecting his absence in tiny ways.

I have just today realized that you can see his absence by viewing the contents of our pantry.  Of my pantry.

(This isn’t a euphemism.)

Our pantry used to be full of canned chili.  He loved chili in all of its forms, but I rarely made it so our pantry was stocked with chunky chili, smooth chili, with and without beans, hot and mild.

We also owned an inordinate amount of hot sauce.  And different types of French and Russian salad dressings.  And chips.  There were always corn chips in our pantry.  And candy.  He had a sweet tooth.  We had white bread.

I made Frito Chili Pie last night, with the last of our canned chili.  I donated much of it to a food drive.  I was the only person who ate it.  The kids don’t like chili.  They don’t like chili dogs, or chili on spaghetti.  They just don’t like it.  So all those cans of chili are gone.  Likewise the cans upon cans of different types of beans — maple beans, ranch style beans, baked beans.

I tossed most of the hot sauces.  I’ve gotten old and prone to heartburn.

I made a conscious decision to only buy chips sometimes, to go with a specific meal or event.  I can’t say no to chips, so it’s best they not do the asking.

I did not make a conscious decision to stop buying sweets.  I just never think about it.  The kids have had to ask me to buy candy, or the makings of root beer floats.  Poor guys.

I switched us all to entirely whole wheat bread, and nobody complained.

All those maple beans have been replaced with plain pinto beans, vegetarian refried beans, and garbanzo beans.

The pantry is filling up with whole grains.  Trey and I always did high protein diets together.  He got the best results from them.  Now, however, I am returning to a more plant based diet, and the jars of various grains now replenished in the pantry reflect that.

The French and Russian dressings are gone.  Blech.

There is no Spam.  There is tuna.  There is no ramen.  There is penne.

The fridge is the same.  American cheese has been replaced with provolone.  Steak has been replaced with hamburger.  Heinz ketchup has been replaced with Hunts.  Spicy barbecue sauce has been replaced with the honey variety.

It sounds like small changes, but every time I open the pantry I see his absence.  It does not distress me much, but it serves as a reminder with every meal that the whole of our life is changed.

Sick Kids and the Widow

This is more of a general parenting rant than a widow rant.  It is true, however, that I am not just a widow.  It is also true that this situation is complicated by my new status as a single parent.

My kids are sick, and so am I.

First K got sick, over the weekend.  He was worst on Saturday and a bit better on Sunday.  I planned to send the kids to school Monday, but he had been up hacking and coughing most of the night.  Plus his brother seemed to be getting sick so I kept them both home for an extra day of rest.

By “rest,” I mean “almost twelve straight hours of Minecraft while I try to work and to recover the house from all the birthday mess.”

I told them they were definitely going to school today.

Then at midnight last night, H woke up crying and screaming because his nose was so stuffy he couldn’t breathe and his throat hurt so bad when he coughed.  He came to my bed.

This morning I woke to the sound of him still snuffling uncomfortably, miserably fighting to stay asleep.  I was also snuffly and felt like my head could explode at any minute.  I knew K was well enough to go to school, but . . .

I didn’t want to pull H out of bed to get dressed and get in the car so we could take K to school.  This is where single parenting comes in.  When Trey was alive, one of us would have stayed home while the other dropped K off at school.  Now, I did think of calling my folks to come and stay with H while he slept.

But here’s the thing about help from others:  you need so much of it, when you’re widowed, when you’re unexpectedly single.  Every day it seems I’m asking my parents for help.  So when you can get by without asking for yet another thing, you try.

Plus I did not particularly feel like getting up either.

I had this wild parent fantasy that if I called both kids out sick that we would snuggle up in the bed together, sleep until ten, then move to the sofa downstairs with a box of kleenex, some blankets and Netflix.  So I called both boys out sick.

What was I thinking?!?!?  Am I a total noob at this parenting thing?

H was already up and out of bed by the time I finished calling the school.  He is definitely sick and I’m glad I kept him home, but if he was going to get out of bed anyway I would have brought K to school.  I thought about hauling them all out to the car right then, but by that point it was getting pretty late and would have been a rush.

So we stayed home.  One perfectly healthy kid and his sick and cranky (but not sleepy) brother.  Plus their sick mom.

I have elected to not keep alcohol in the house since Trey died, mainly because I find it difficult to resist a nightcap, and then I get all sad about drinking alone.  But after the kids’ party I got a bottle of bourbon.  So it’s sitting on the shelf, and I keep thinking of it longingly.  My head is pounding.  My eyeballs feel like there is sand in them.  My nose and eyes are leaking nonstop.  I want to wrap up in a blanket, sip some warm bourbon, and binge watch Supernatural.  Or at least to wrap up in a blanket with my kids, sip some orange juice and binge watch something of their choosing.

Instead I’m making lunch, fetching juice, refereeing arguments, putting away groceries, feeding the dog, doing laundry, and trying to put in a solid half day of work.

It’s such a cliche.  When everyone is sick, mom takes care of them.  When mom is sick, she still takes care of everyone else.  Granted, I’m doing it in a very minimal fashion.  So far today the kids have watched Captain Underpants and about a hundred episodes of the Thundermans, and have been on their tablets for about an hour now with half an hour left to go.

I’d better get to work!

Birthday Party – I laughed, I cried. In front of the other moms.

My boys turned eight years old a couple of weeks ago.  This month has been a bit of a roller coaster, as I suppose you would expect.  Their first day of school also happened this month, and I haven’t yet had the stones to write about it.

Here it comes.  This post will most likely be too long to read, and will encompass the start of school as well as our Month Long Birthday EXTRAVAGANZA!  Are you in it with me?  Here we go.

At the end of school last year, I was so excited for summer to begin.  I thought that once I was freed from the daily grind of mornings and lunches and rides to and from school, I would be able to take control of my life and of my schedule.  I would be able to get more work done, take care of the house better, and of course spend more time with my kids.

I don’t have to tell you it does NOT work that way.  I must have been suffering from some sort of temporary insanity caused by wishful thinking.

It was a wonderful summer, full of late mornings watching Teen Titans Go in bed together, late nights playing XBox and two family trips.  It was much needed, but it was not particularly productive.  So as school approached, I was glad.  I was not glad in the traditional wine-drinking mom “yippee the kids will be out of my hair and occupied for part of the day” kind of way.  I was glad because once again, possibly delusional again, I believe this is when I will be able to take charge of our household schedule.

In the days leading up to the first day of school, I went on a special one-on-one outing with each of the kids.  I bought back to school clothes and shoes (I pre-ordered the supplies from the PTA last year.)  I bought Starbucks cards for the kids’ teachers, and wrote each one an introductory email explaining that my boys have therapy once a week and if the time does not work for their class schedule to let me know, and also to let me know if they notice any behavior in class that I should have the therapists address.  The teachers, of course, know that my husband died last February.  I set up schedules for homework and nighttime and morning routines.  I set up a new chore chart and star chart.  I stocked the fridge with school lunch items, bought new backpacks and lunches, and ordered new coats and jackets.  I did this all on my own.

Honestly, it’s not that different.  Trey  was not much of a ‘planner’ or ‘preparer’ (except for his disaster prepping – eyeroll.)  I would have taken care of most of this on my own even if he were still alive.  I felt good.  I felt optimistic for the school year and confident of my ability to make this work.  I took the kids to school the first day, using our schedule and star chart.  We did not have to rush or scramble, and we were not up against the tardy bell.  After school I picked them up.  They hung up their backpacks and helped unload the dishwasher to earn tablet time.  I started cooking dinner.

Then I was punched in the stomach.

This routine we are setting up — it doesn’t include Trey.  He’s not just gone now or for this first day of school.  He is going to be gone for all of the days of school.  There is no bargaining for who will be making dinner.  There is no talking each other into or out of ordering a pizza.  This is it.  This is my routine every night.  Helping the kids with homework, making dinner, washing dishes.  Alone.  This is it.

So then I’m crying by the sink again, which for a short while was no longer my favorite hobby.

Three days after the first day of school came the boys’ birthday.  For the first year ever, I managed to talk them into having their party a couple of weeks later.  I couldn’t figure how to get invitations out in time to have a party right after the start of school, and I didn’t think anyone would be up for attending a party at that time.  But I did want to mark their actual birthday.  At first we were going to meet the grandparents for some free Denny’s birthday goodness.  But naturally I am overcompensating for their dad being gone so instead we went on a Pirate Cruise.

Because what says, “I’m sorry we are having your birthday without your father being in the world” like a pirate cruise?

We went with my parents.  It was a lot of fun and I only cried a bit later that night.

The next weekend, we went to visit my uncle who lives about three hours away.  His town has a fair and rodeo, and we go every year to see him and attend the fair.  This year was weird without Trey.  It was weird largely because it was kind of nice.  Bless his heart, he really tried to be a good sport about it, and he never said this out loud, but I have been going to fairs with him for years and the truth is: he hates fairs.  Hated fairs, I mean.  In past years, the kids would go up with my folks, and then Trey and I would join the next day, close to the end of the day so we could spend an hour at the fair.  He hated the walking and the smells and how much everything costed.  I love the ridiculous food, the pig races, the world’s largest whatever.  So going to the fair without him was kind of nice in a way.  I went when my folks did, and spent the entire day with the kids getting their faces painted and spending too much money on bounce houses and unwinnable games.

And then K decided he wanted to go on a ride called the Storm Trooper.  I thought he would be too scared, and didn’t want to let him do it.  Something I always tell myself, however, is to not let fear keep you from doing things.  So I let him go.  I’m too fat to ride those rides so my mom rode with him.  He loved it.  I could see him scared at first, and then laughing and loving it the whole time.  I was so glad I let him go, and I was so horribly sad that Trey wasn’t there to see it.

I didn’t cry.

This weekend was their birthday party.  We did bubble soccer, something we did a couple of years ago and it was a big hit.  The kids wanted Minecraft themed cakes and decorations, and then had extremely specific requests for their cakes.

Now, I bake exactly once a year — on the birthday.  I still remember cakes that my mom made for me, so it is important to me that I make the cakes for my kids’ birthday.  I reserved the bubble soccer place a month ahead of time.  I started baking a week ahead of time.  I burned up the Pinterest boards making cakes and cupcakes and decorations.  This was going to be the best birthday ever.

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Today we arrived, and it went well at first.  But, see, K has been sick for a couple of days now.  He hasn’t had a fever, but he hasn’t felt well.  He’s had a runny nose and he fell asleep yesterday afternoon.  I thought about postponing, but for a multitude of reasons decided not to do that.  (I did warn the other parents, in case they wanted to stay away from the germs.)

So when he fell down early on and twisted his ankle, he was already feeling kind of cranky and this just ended it for him.  He tried to stay in the fun, but he was pretty much a little ball of screaming crying anger.  Normally when he gets like this, he just needs some time alone but I could not figure out how to give that to him in this case.  I took him to the room where the cakes were set up.  That’s when he unleashed on me:

“This is the worst birthday ever!”

“We’ve had seven birthdays and this is the only one that is terrible!”

“This is a waste of a whole birthday! I won’t have another for an entire year!”

I know he’s a kid and kids lash out, but I was already fragile and I just crumpled.  I kept my cool, told him I was going outside for a bit and asked if he needed me to get anything before I left.  He said he wanted to lay down in the car for a while, and I thought, well duh that’s a great idea.  I can’t believe that didn’t occur to me.

This is when my dad stepped in.  Seeing my barely controlled anguish, he offered to take K to his car to lay down and have some cooldown time.  I gratefully accepted his offer, and found a quiet corner of the building in which to have a complete breakdown.

I went outside and sobbed.  I wanted so much for this birthday to be amazing and wonderful and special, and somehow I had managed to ruin it for him.  He would always remember this first birthday as being terrible and I couldn’t do anything to fix it.  He was hurting and it made me hurt and I couldn’t handle it.  So I let myself cry for just a couple of minutes, then pulled myself together (I thought) and went back in.

One of the other moms — one who knows I’m recently widowed — was in the lobby on the phone.  She saw my face.

I guess I wasn’t as stealth as I thought I was.

She immediatly hung up, stood up, and hugged me.  “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you.”  I started crying again.  I couldn’t think of anything to say.  I just cried.

I pulled myself together again – or so I thought.

We went back inside, where my other boy was having a grand time.  One of the other moms there is also a widow — she’s just over two years out.  She saw me and immediately asked if I was okay.

I started to say yes, I’m fine.

We all do that.  We all say we are fine.

WE ARE NOT FINE.  WE ARE NOT OKAY.  NOTHING IS FINE.  “Fine” just means “I managed to generally function like a human being today, despite this pervasive wrongness that I carry.”

I didn’t say I was fine.  I looked at her, she had asked if I was okay, and I said, “No.”

She said, “Of course you’re not.”

More hugging.

More crying.

So now I’m just openly widow-crying in front of everyone.  All this work to make it seem like we are moving forward okay and that we are doing “as well as can be expected” is gone.  I’m a blubbering widow-y mess.

I did manage to pull myself together in time to call the kids to the party room for pizza and cake.  K came in, refreshed from his time alone, and was able to laugh and play and have fun for the rest of the party.  Everyone said it was a huge success, and I’m glad everyone had a good time.  I’m especially glad that K was able to reign it in and have fun for the second half.  I’m super proud of him.  That’s not easy to do.

I had fun, too.  I talked with the other moms about chore charts and allowances.  It was good.

Now I’m sitting at my computer bawling.  I had Amazon Now deliver a small bottle of bourbon and I’m quickly getting blotto and am about to watch Donnie Darko.

Thank you for listening.

Sad Lonely Women’s Club

I would like to address the events of today.  It was a rough one for me.

At some point I will address the events of last week, which included the kids’ first day of school as well as their eighth birthday.  I cannot bring myself to write about that yet.  Suffice it to say that the first day of school was more difficult for me than their birthday was, but that both events were so much harder than I anticipated.

I can’t.

So let’s talk about today.  What led to today?  Well, I am seeing a counselor to help deal with my husband’s death and to help deal with suddenly being a single mom, which is the larger issue in a lot of ways.

I have been to counselors before, sometimes to address my own issues and others to address problems in our marriage.  Have I given the impression it was all sunshine and roses?  It wasn’t.  We loved each other and he was my best friend and I miss him terribly, but we had pretty serious problems off and on.  I believed, and still do, that it was a testament to our love and friendship that we worked so hard through some extremely difficult stumbling blocks.

I’m not here to talk about our marriage.  I mention this only to say that every counselor I have ever had, for any reason, starting in high school, has said that I need to make some friends.  They said I needed friends with whom I could spend time after school or work.  They said I needed friends separate from my husband’s friends.  They said I needed friends separate from my work acquaintances, separate from the other Moms.  That I needed a network of support that was not a part of my role as Architect, Wife, and Mother.  I needed friends who were not Trey’s wife’s friends.  I needed friends who were not H&K’s mom’s friend.  I needed friends who were Racheal’s friends.

I am not skilled at socializing, and Trey and I became pretty codependent, happy to do things with just each other.  For a time I did roller derby.  I’ve been members of various book clubs.  I think I was a charter member of meetup.com.  None of them really stick for very long, and I have been unable to form any kind of lasting relationship out of any of those activities.  When we moved to Washington, I had a reasonably strong position within the social circle of a group of moms that all had kids the same age.  That went away as soon as we moved, obviously.  Since we have lived here, I have met some of the other moms but don’t feel solidly within the social circle.

Then Trey died, and I quit my traditional workplace job and now work from home.  I have nobody.  Nobody to spend time with who will talk about something that is not Minecraft.  Nobody to see movies with.  Nobody to watch Supernatural with.  Nobody to drive on a road trip.  Nobody to complain to that I have nobody.  I have had almost no interactions with other adults, except for with my counselor.  I have had quite a bit of support from some circles.  Another mom has had me over to their house a couple of times, and my neighbors came by to play board games once.  But overall it’s intensely lonely being me right now.  I normally thrive on being alone, but this is too much.  Especially considering that I’m trying to find myself in the world.

This brings me to today.  Today I went to meet with some ladies for coffee.  I found these ladies through a Facebook group.  The group is made up of women in my age range who like to get together and have coffee.  Sounds nice.

It was the saddest most depressing event EVER!  Nothing against the women.  They were all super nice.  But none of us have anything in common.  I was the newcomer in the group, but even among the women who had been meeting up for a while there appeared to be no real connection.  It wasn’t a group of friends who liked to get together.  It was a group of women who have no friends getting together to keep from going crazy.  Just by demeanor, I would say at least two of the other women were also there because their counselor or someone told them that they needed social interaction.  We made small talk about families and friends who were in the hurricane path, but I didn’t get the impression that any of these women would call any of the other if they needed extra emotional support.  I looked at these sad lonely women and thought, wow.  These are my people.  A group of women approaching and breaching “the Hill” who were either divorced or had husbands that worked a lot and needed a reason to get out and get dressed.  That’s me.  I don’t want to be a part of this group.

I DO NOT WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS GROUP!

I don’t want to meet for coffee with other lonely women, making small talk to cover the fact that if I wasn’t there that I’d be sitting in silence at home.  It’s too awful.  I don’t want to do it.

So that happened.

Then, to top it off, today is my kids’ counseling day.  On these days I pick them up after recess.  While I was waiting for them, the principal approached me and said H’s teacher is concerned because he refuses to participate in class.  She knows the story and all so she know he’s not just being a dick.  But she doesn’t know how to handle it.

And neither do I.

I asked the counselor if we should back off of him — it worked when he didn’t want to learn to swim.  Everyone pretended not to see him practicing swimming, and not to notice that he was getting in the pool after adamantly yelling that he did not want to swim.  With the pressure off, he started learning.

The counselor said that doesn’t work here.  We have to keep pushing him to participate, or he will withdraw more and more.  We’re not talking about public speaking here.  We are talking about in the morning every kid is supposed to turn to the kids on either side of them and say good morning.  This is the level of withdrawn he is.  At counseling, he frequently does not even talk to the counselor except to say that he is bored.  She is being kindly persistent and has instructed me to do the same.

But it hurts so much.  Why is he withdrawing so hard?  What do I do about it?

So to sum up, my kid is sliding down a slope that looks like it will end in his refusal to speak to anyone except for me.  I tried to be social and instead just felt worse.

This sucks.

 

 

Battle Bots of Love

The kids’ birthday is coming up so naturally I’m pushing forward as if everything is normal, you know, calling twelve different venues to find a place to have the party and Pinterest-ing like crazy for cake and decoration ideas.

Then I am punched in the stomach.

Last year we held the birthday at a robotics place called Robot Roundabout.  It was awesome.  They had a lot of different kinds of robots to play with, but the big attraction was the Battle Bot cage.

Inside the little arena are two bots.  Each bot has a spike on the front and balloon on the back.  I’m sure you can do the math on that one.  Well, the second Trey and I saw that, we were like, “You and me, bud!  As soon as these kids have all had a turn, you are going down!”

Sure enough once the kids had all had a turn and were happily eating pizza and cake, Trey and I raced to the Battle Arena.  The guy running the place was thrilled.  We battled and hollered and smack talked and the kids cheered and then my balloon got punctured.  But it was a slow leak!  The judge’s determination was that I was still in play until it fully deflated.  I chased Trey around and popped his balloon before mine ran out of air and I whooped and did a victory dance and it was so awesome.

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Trey and Korben Battle Bots for H&K’s Seventh Birthday at Robot Roundabout

Afterward the guy who runs the place said that he always asks the parents to have a go at the battle bots because it’s fun for the birthday kids to see his parents battle.  He said that he usually has to work to talk them into it, and we were the first couple he’d ever seen that ran over to it and wanted to play and had so much fun.

We were so confused.  How could anybody not want immediately to kick their significant other’s ass at battle bots?  We told him that if he would let us, we’d kick all those kids out of there and just play the two of us for the next hour.  Who wouldn’t want to play robots with their best friend?

Do you see why I’m bawling?

Not Just Grieving

I’m grieving, but that’s not all I am doing.

This is not the post about how I’m also holding together a life and kids and managing day-to-day existence.  I’m doing all of that, too, but that is not what I mean.

Specifically with regards to my husband’s death, I am doing more than grieving.  We all do, I assume.  All widows and widowers.

We all have to find our place in the world.

Trey and I started dating in High School.  We got married as I was graduating college.  We have always been together.  I have never been a single adult.  And I don’t mean ‘single’ in the sense of being unattached or available.  I have never been a single, as opposed to being half of a pair.

My relationship with my kids, and their relationship to each other, is different now.  We are trying to redefine how we work together as a family.  It is not easy.  It is not simple.  It is not that I am now “being both mother and father” the way people say.  As a single mom, I’m not the same mom I was, with added responsibilities.  It’s different.  It’s completely different and I’m still trying to figure it out.  I’m examining what is important to me as a parent, and what issues can be let go.  I’m making determinations on our new schedule and new disciplinary recourses.  (Just wait until your father gets home is no longer a valid response to their shenanigans.)

I am also redefining my relationship with myself.  This is even harder.  Who am I without him?  I saw a movie by myself.  I got a tattoo.

By the way, apparently all GenX widows get tattoos.  I know two other women who have recently lost significant others, and we all have tattoos now.  So there’s that.

I was the shy background player, the soccer mom wallflower.  Now I’m the woman with the fish tattoo driving the neon jeep.  I want to be more than I was.  I want to be active and fun.  I’m not sure what that looks like, though.

So if you see me on Facebook or in town, and it looks like I am unphased by my situation– if it looks like I’m going on outings and pretending that everything is okay — please understand there is more to it than that.  I’m trying to stretch my wings and find my place in the world.  There is less of me now that he is gone, but in a way there is more of me, too.  I am the sole driver in my life and I’m trying to draw up a map.

Six Month Whatever-Versary

Today is the six month anniversary of Trey’s death.  Except it’s not an anniversary, because Anni- means Year.  It drives me crazy when people talk about a one month or a two week anniversary.  Is there a word for a month-versary?  Honestly, I’m not in the mood to learn vocabulary today so I’m not going to look it up.

Six months ago today I left work, drove to my parents’ house to pick up the kids, arrived home and found my husband dead in the living room.

Six months ago today my life fractured.

I can still see the future we were going to have.  I can still see us attending our kids’ graduation.  I see us arguing over what Junior High they should attend.  I see us at the third grade neon glow party.  I see us watching the upcoming Justice League movie together.  I can see it clearly in my mind.

It doesn’t matter how hard I look, however, I cannot make it real.  That future is lost.

What did I do today?

Well, I went ahead and dropped the kids off with my folks like I usually do on Tuesdays.  A client wanted to talk to me, and I was anticipating needing the time to work.  I snuggled with them for too long and had to fight the urge to throw a conniption fit when they dawdled getting dressed.  I let K wear his clothes from yesterday.  I just couldn’t fight about it.

In other words, it was like every other Tuesday.

I dropped the kids off and rushed to my counseling appointment, for which I was 20 minutes late.

It was just a coincidence that I had an appointment today.  But it was a happy coincidence.  I only recently started seeing someone.  I believe this was our third appointment.  I still feel like I’m not sure how it helps to just talk to someone, but it does help so I’m doing it.  I enjoy our sessions.

I felt . . . normal.  I’ve felt normal for a while now.  I get sad and I get lonely.  I am sometimes shocked when the reality hits that this is permanent.  Overall, however, I go about my daily routine and function as a human.

I am not a fan of the phrase “the new normal,” but I suppose it applies.

Today was no different.  I felt normal, but that in itself felt odd.

I arrived home after my appointment to find a card in my mailbox.  A real card, with a handwritten note.  My best friend from high school, my maid of honor, knew this was coming up and she sent me a beautiful and supportive card.  It was exactly what I needed, at exactly the right time.  I sat on my kitchen floor and wept.

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I don’t remember when I last cried about Trey.  It feels like forever ago, but so does his death.  It feels like forever ago and it also feels like it happened last week.  Grief time is weird.  If I had to guess, I’d say it’s been two or three weeks since I really cried.  I needed it.

Then I realized I could not find my wallet and the next couple of hours were consumed with finding it.  And with cleaning that gross sticky spot that I had not known was under my sofa until I accidentally stuck my hair in it while looking for my wallet.

I found my wallet and headed to the grocery store to buy supplies for our celebration of Trey’s life.

Kit Kats, M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Hershey’s Kisses.

Yesterday I told the kids that today would be six months.  K, who speaks like a small adult, said, “It doesn’t feel like that long.  It feels almost like it was yesterday.”

I asked what they wanted to do to mark the day.  We discussed going to the beach where we scattered his ashes, but that is a full day trip and none of us were up for it.  None of us felt like making a big deal out of it.  It’s already a big deal without us adding to the drama.

The kids’ idea?  Buy a “mother lode” of candy.

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A Mother Lode of Candy

Trey had quite the sweet tooth.  I have always claimed to not have that much of a sweet tooth, but the truth is I drink my sweet in the form of sodas and in the form of coffee drinks that are essentially liquid cake.  In any case, a couple of months ago it was brought to my attention that with Trey gone our house is devoid of candy.  I did not intentionally cut candy out of our home.  When I make a grocery list, I just don’t think about adding candy to it.  Trey always did, though.  “Pick up some Kit-Kats” he would say.  Or, if he went to the store unsupervised, he’d come home with half a cart full of candy.  So it makes sense to commemorate him with candy — although I suspect it was a bit of a ploy on the part of my kiddos.

No matter the true motivation, I obliged.  Today I hit the store and filled a basket with candy.  I also bought some flowers for the dining table, some tater tots for tomorrow’s casserole, and marshmallows because I have a huge box of rice krispies burning a hole in my pocket.

And I wept.

I cried in the car the whole way there.

Car crying was my favorite form of self expression in the first couple of months.  I haven’t done that in a while.  I sobbed the whole way to the store, sniffled my way through the aisles and hitched my breath during checkout.  I’m sure I looked like some sort of sad housewife cliche.  Here I am, an overweight white woman in sweat shorts and T-shirt, sticky stuff in my hair, purchasing candy and tater tots and flowers and Moscato.  (I also bought a bottle of Moscato, of which I am currently partaking, as my own private six month tribute.)

I came home and proceeded to set up my new phone.

My phone broke a while back and my new one came in today.  That feels particularly harsh of the universe.  Trey worked in cellular/telecom since 2001.  He handled all of this.  I have never ever had to set up my own phone.  It was more complicated than I expected.  I had nobody to ask and nobody to help.  Just me and a phone that somehow uses a different charger than every other device in my home and nobody to complain to about that.  It was unreasonably heart breaking to handle this myself, but I did it.  I got my new phone set up.

Then it was time to pick up the kids, and get back to the regular routine.  I cooked dinner while they played tablets.  They ate candy.  We had dinner, watched 2 cartoons, brushed teeth, read a story and they went to bed.  Now here I am, spilling my guts to the ether.

That is what happens in my life when I reach the six month anniversary of the day I stopped being a wife and became a widow.

Literally Dreaming of His Return

This is the second time I’ve dreamed that Trey returned.

This is not a dream where he simply still lives.  I have those every so often, but they are comforting rather than unsettling.

In this dream, the full reality of my life exists.  He died, we had a funeral, I have been sorting through our stuff and painting our house in some sort of weird ‘nesting’ reaction to grief.

And then he walks in the door.  As if nothing happened.

The last time I dreamed this, it was a month or so after his death.  At that time, I had gotten rid of his underwear and some of his work clothes and papers.  I dreamed he came down the stairs and I was crying with relief, “I was sure you were dead!  What was all of that?”  To which he responded, “Where are my clean underwear?”

This sounds hilarious, but in the dream it was distressing because I was afraid that he would feel like I was tossing out his stuff too soon after his death.  Like, “Good Riddance to You!  I’m moving on!”  He was confused about why I would have thought he was dead, and I explained about finding him in the living room and the whole experience.

This time, the dream crushed me.  In the dream, just like in real life, it was coming up on six months and he waltzes in the door like it is all normal.  I freak smooth out.  I’m crying and screaming, and he is calm and amused.  I start yelling, “This isn’t okay!  You died!  I held your cold hand!  We all did CPR!  The medical examiner came!  You can NOT come back and act like this is normal!”

I asked him where he had been, and how he could explain all of this.  He told me just to trust him, that he was back, and that I didn’t need to know where he’d been.  He looks around and sees the closet and the cabinets, and remarks on how they’d been cleaned out.  He is again confused that so much of his stuff is missing.  By now I have very few of his clothes left, and sold his speakers.  I explain that he was dead.  We’d scattered his ashes.

In the dream, I was afraid he would find out I’d gotten rid of a box full of his hats. He had an issue with hats.  I believe this is a common trait among men.  I must have three boxes full of his hats.

In the dream I was afraid and confused and angry.  I was so angry at him for acting like everything was normal when I had been through so much.Picture 055

The Little Things That Kill

You think you will be destroyed by the enormity of the situation.
By the knowledge that he will never see his kids graduate or marry.
That he will never be a grandfather.
That you will not grow old together.

This, however, you can survive.

It is the little things that crush you.
The little things rob you of your breath and sting your eyes.

Requesting a table for three.

Sorting laundry without his clothes.

The stockpile of hot sauce that only he liked.

Feeding his cat.

The unused passenger seat in the car.

Getting rid of things we kept out of habit.

Keeping that hideous Scarface poster he loved.

Moving the lamp to my side of the bed.

Helping the kids with their math.

Baking cookies using his recipe.

The empty half of the dining table.

Taking the kids on their first plane ride with my dad instead of with theirs.

Leaving his token in the box when we play board games.

Putting away the Cards Against Humanity we used to play in the evenings.

Watching our favorite shows in silence, alone.

Coming home from the store.

Fourth of July fireworks.

Watching previews for movies we were going to see together, movies that still have not come out because it was so recently that we were sitting together planning our summer.
It’s the daily details that get you, not the grand plans.
We miss you.

The Monkey’s Paw

Well, I have pretty much everything I’ve been wanting for the past couple of years, and all I had to do was lose my husband.

I swear I didn’t wish on a monkey’s paw to be able to be a stay at home mom again.  I didn’t encounter any shady genie types and request to be able to work from home.  I never bargained with a leprechaun to allow me to quit the job I hated and end the commute I hated even more.

Here I am.

We moved here two years ago, when the kids were five and starting kindergarten.  I thought I was supposed to go back to the typical work force once the kids were in school so I got a job and we moved.  I spent the next two years filled with regret, often crying and battling depression.  I loved being a stay at home mom, and could never adjust to working full time with all that entails.  Sometimes he would comfort me, reminding me of all the reasons we moved to a place where we could no longer be a single income household.  Other times, he was exasperated with me, pointing out that I was crying because I had to have a job like most people do.

I wanted to be more involved with my kids’ lives.

But not like this.

Because of a combination of life insurance, etc. and the lessening of household expenses with one less person, I was able to quit my job.  I re-opened my home business and am working for myself.  I drive my kids to school every day.  I help them with their homework.  We eat supper together.  I volunteer at their school and attend daytime events with them.  I bring them to playdates at the park.

All of these were things I missed, about which I regularly cried and moped.

Now I have this all back, but I have nobody to share it with.

I am so lonely.

He is gone.

Most days, it’s strange — it feels normal.  Even though every detail of my life has changed, something about the rhythm is the same.  Wake, pack backpacks, work, get kids, dinner, dishes.  I am in a routine and it feels simply like he is not here.

For much of our marriage, we worked dissimilar schedules.  He worked evenings and weekends, while I worked a standard 9-5.  It has only been the past couple of years that we have had the same hours off together.  It therefore does not always feel odd to not have him around.

Then the anvil drops on my head.  He is not coming back.  I’m not going to tell him about the awesome thing his son said to the neighbor.  He is not going to scold me for dyeing shirts in the kitchen sink.  He will not listen to the new audiobook released by our favorite author, nor will he see any of the movies currently in theaters.

I will never hear his laugh.

I will never drink a beer with him on a hot afternoon.

I will never tell him again that our dog stands up just like Rory Calhoun.

But everything else in my life is falling into place, and the guilt is extreme.  Like somehow that horrible thing happened so these good things could happen.  It’s not a fiar trade though.  It’s not and I can’t handle this.  I can’t handle going to help at the kids’ school knowing that I can only do it because he is dead.  I can’t deal with parking my car in the garage because now there is room for it.  I can’t face my clients knowing that I would still be in my toxic job if he were still alive.

I can’t enjoy these things.  I won’t enjoy them.  Maybe if I reject all of this, somehow the universe will realize its error and reverse this.

I know that doesn’t make sense.  I know it in my head, but my heart can’t bear the weight of happiness or even of contentedness.