Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

I am forcing myself to write this post because I havent written much at all lately. I dont feel like writing right now, I have no inspiration and my muse is gone. Who knows where she went!

I feel strange starting a new year. Apathetic almost. Scared even. Scared to start over.

Every year since 1999 Barry has been there. And while he wasn't always there on New Years Eve with me, sometimes working, most of the last 10 years we have been together on this day. And even if he wasn't there in person, he was still "there", still in my life.

Starting a new year without my husband is hard. I feel like I am leaving him behind. Like I explained a friend of mine, Barry won't be there in 2010 and any year after that. 2009 was his last year, and I just dont know how I feel leaving him behind. There will never be another year where I can say "oh, remember in such and such year, we did this?"

All I have now are the memories, memories of the last 11 years that I have known him. The first IM I get from him saying "what's ska music", the time he proposed to me on the internet, the time we met in person and he proposed for real, when we got married, the time we spent in Germany, the birth of all of our children, buying our first home, selling our first home, moving to a new city more than a few times, going on vacation as a family this year, celebrating our 10th anniversary early. All I have are memories of our time together.

Now we start 2010 and start NEW. New memories, new experiences, new things, new places.

Despite all the fear that I have about starting a new year, I think 2010 will be a good year for us. I have plans for the kids and I that include, in no particular order:

  • Losing a lot more weight for myself. Getting a gym membership tomorrow or monday.
  • Buying a house and getting out of our rental
  • A trip to Disneyland sometime in 2010
  • Start my book at the very least, not quite sure where my focus is going to be on it, but I do want to start writing.

What are your plans for 2010? Are you planning on anything exciting?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary Sexy Man!!

10 Years ago today, local Wiesbaden time at 9:30/10AM, I was saying my vows and married Barry in Germany. I had no friends there, just his buddies, and I wore a silver ball gown. But when he put that ring on my finger and said "yes", I was the happiest woman on earth. Barry you were a wonderful husband and I will always, always, love you and miss you. Happy 10th Anniversary Darling!!! ♥ BNB










Sunday, December 27, 2009

I've Been MIA

Well people I have been taking a break from blogging.

I have lost my inspiration lately, to be completely honest.

The past week was extremely hard for me, very emotional. Lots of firsts.

Here's what I did for the FIRST time by myself this week without Barry.

  • Cooked a Turkey (he ALWAYS did this)
  • Read The Night Before Christmas to the kids (again, his tradition)
  • Put up the Christmas presents by myself, well, with the help of my bro and sis, but he always helped with this
  • Barely persevered through our first Christmas without him.
  • Made our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of homemade egg ham and cheese McMuffins
I am so glad I NEVER have to relive that week again. Everyone says the first time is always the hardest, and it really really is. I had all these grand plans to do everything the same as we ALWAYS did it. But I didn't do anything the same. Everything was different this year. Here's what I did DIFFERENT:

  • I cooked the Turkey and it turned out freakin awesome! lol
  • We did stockings on the 26th instead of Christmas morning
  • Skipped out on all the baking. No no bakes this year or ANYTHING. Not even Barry's traditional trans-gender gingerbread man with boy and girl bits! HAHAHA
  • No Gingerbread house
  • No stuffing or rolls for xmas dinner because I forgot to buy it
Now the next big hurdle is our anniversary. I am dreading the 29th. Abso-fucking-lutely dreading it. I want to sleep through it. Why does it have to be this day? WHY must I have an anniversary so close to Christmas? This is going to be the 3d step of many, for the next few months of firsts that we will do without Barry. First we had Thanksgiving, then Christmas...then the anniversary. Then New Years Eve. And then in February we have the twins' 9th birthdays, and then in March we have his and A's birthdays only one day apart.

Then we get a reprieve for almost 3 months until May 1st comes along. That was a special day for our family, we always celebrate May Day and do something fun. Last year we took the kids to the Zoo in Seattle. Not quite sure what I will do with them in May, but I will be doing something fun. And then comes along my birthday in July, and finally E's birthday in October. Technically she's already had her birthday without him, because he was in the hospital and then died the day of her party, but it will still be a hurdle to pass.

I think the next few months will be the hardest for us, but you know what? We'll get through it.

This too shall pass.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Post Coming Soon

Sorry peeps, I've been pretty busy lately. I have a weight loss post coming up! I'm so excited to show everyone my progress, I feel really awesome about myself!!!

Look for it today or tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Early Christmas Gift

Today I had a wonderful opportunity to visit with some old friends. And by old, I mean old old friends.

When Barry died, I went looking on facebook for some of his old army buddies, and only found two. Coincidentally, one of the guys that I found was a good friend of his when he was over there, and also was a witness in our wedding. On facebook I snooped at his friends list, and saw who his wife was and where she lived...well, I put two and two together, and raced to my phone book.

Want to know why? They live in the same town as me. Well, not officially, but they are in the next town over, which actually happens to be the next major street over from me. We live maybe 3 minutes apart. And you know how long they have lived there? almost 3 years. Three long years. We have lived here in the area since late 2005, and in this city for almost two years. So we have technically been "neighbors" for almost two years and never knew it.

Today we finally got the opportunity to get together. How bittersweet it was.

I heard the dog barking when they came in the yard, and raced out onto the porch to greet them. I said hello to his wife, and just beamed when I saw him. We gave each other the biggest hug. It has been 9 years since I have seen Aaron, the last time was when we left Germany. And then I cried and cried, and cried some more while we hugged hello.

I can't explain how great it was to see him. I felt like I had a tie to my past. Someone who can help me remember Barry, what our life was like back then. Aaron and I can tell some crazy stories about life back then (I lived in the barracks with all them for a few months before Barry and I got our apartment), and it was just so great to be able to relive that with someone who was actually there.

But at the same time, it was so sad for me to see Aaron and Shilo. When I found out they lived so close, my heart just dropped. To know that he could have come to Barry's funeral just made me feel sick to my stomach. To know that we lived so close for years, and now they're leaving in March :( I'll be honest, I feel like Barry is being taken away from me all over again because they're leaving. It's so hard to explain, but when you get such a reunion and a tie to your past like I did, then you don't want to let it go. But at least we will have facebook for after they leave, we can still keep in touch.

We were able to visit for an hour and a half, and remember all the crazy stories. Talk about people we knew from back then, all the fun stuff we did, and they did with Barry. He told stuff about our wedding day that I had forgotten. Do you know how wonderful it is to get someone else's perspective on that? It was the best feeling in the world. It was so healing to laugh

I have to thank Aaron and Shilo for coming over. I immensely enjoyed our visit, and I can't wait till we get together again. Aaron I don't think I can ever tell you how much it meant to me to see you. You are such a wonderful person, you were so kind and it made me feel great that you were so happy to see me. You are a tie to my past and I am so glad we know each other again.

When they left, I just had to cry and cry and cry again as we said goodbye. I don't even know why I was crying, but it was such an emotional visit. I am so glad I was able to do it.

Here's to Old and New friends! I love you all!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Most Magical Place On Earth

Can you guess where I'm headed with this?

M I C K E Y M O U S E!!!

The kids and I need to get away. We need a distraction from life in general, where we can just focus on having FUN, and doing exciting things. We need something to look forward to.

Honestly, I was seriously considering going the Europe route. Barry and I always wanted to take the kids back when they were older. I'd love to do that now, but honestly, I don't think that the kids would enjoy it very much. And A being dragged around London and Paris and Germany at 4 years old? no thanks. That's a melt down waiting to happen. As much as I would love, love, LOVE to do that, I just can't right now. The kids wouldn't appreciate it as much as I would like them too, so that will be on hold for a few years. That way I can also ask my nomadic brother to come with us. I'll want to take the kids to all of our old haunts in Germany, see as much of England/Ireland/Scotland that we can, and also go to France and maybe even Prague. So you can see why that will be hard with all the kids, at this age especially.

So Disneyland it shall be. I can't go during May, because that's when the kids have their WASL testing. Our spring break isn't until the first week in April, but I'm thinking Disneyland will be too busy then. So my other options are between the 22nd and 26th of March, not including weekends (Early release week because of Conferences), and then the last week of March right before Spring Break, and then I would keep them out for two weeks. Anyone that's gone, when is a good time to go? I've always found Easter break to be easy too, which is when I went as a young kid and it was never too busy.

I am craving some time away. I just want to leave to be completely honest. I want a break. No, I don't want, I NEED a break. We just need to get away and have fun! Go to Disneyland, go to Disney's California Adventure, Knott's Berry Farm, do all that fun stuff.

So my task for you is this...help me plan! Give me advice on the trip, EVERYTHING about Disneyland that you can. Money is not really an object, I'm not worried about that. I'm planning on splurging a bit anyway, as this will be a first plane trip vacation for the kids.

Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Forgotten Milestone Day

I've noticed that the last few days I've been exceptionally cranky.

My attitude has been really crappy, I've been snapping at the kids, I have a very short fuse. And I'm just feeling under the weather.

But I couldn't put my finger on it, and today at MOPS a light bulb went off. I was talking to a friend there who asked how I was doing and I said I was OK, but it really comes and goes. I happened to glance down at my watch to check the time/date, and then it hit me.

December 15th. It was December 15th.

Exactly 10 years ago today I arrived in Germany to marry Barry. I left Edmonton, AB the night of the 14th, and arrived in Germany at 10:40 local time. And thus began the next 10 years of my life. We were married two weeks later.

Isn't it interesting how you forget days like this sometimes? And then it just hits you, and you realize that it affects you so much more than you realize. And the effects can last a few days even, as your body slowly recovers.

My appetite has been affected, as have been my moods. I was just exhausted this afternoon, and almost fell asleep on the couch. I had a headache as well, and a sore back.

Can I just sleep through till the middle of March so I can bypass all the sad days?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meet My New Best Friend



I was able to get this baby on sale for only 101.91 plus tax!

How you ask me?

Well, Amazon had them on sale for $239.99, and then there is a rebate of $30. PLUS, when I cleaned out Barry's truck, I found a crap load of change. And I mean a lot. I took it to Coinstar where you can get free coin counting if you pick certain gift cards, and I picked an amazon one. With the change from his truck, I was able to get $108.08!!!! I also picked up a matching hand mixer in the same color for only $20. (not a KitchenAid, but the same red none the less).

I haven't used it yet, but I plan on it soon. I've been lusting after one of these for 10 years actually, and finally purchased one. I haven't had a new mixer in almost 5 years, so I am so excited to use this one.

I'll let you all know how it treats me!! I need to think up a good name for it. Any ideas?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Putting Up The Tree

Today I was finally coerced into setting up our Christmas tree.

You see, I've been dragging my feet. a lot. I just haven't wanted to bother with it at all this year, but for the kids, I did it.

So this cold Saturday afternoon, I hauled my ass out to the shed, and dug through the countless bins to find what Christmas decorations I could actually handle putting up this year. What came out with me was the HUGE tree box, and 3 bins of lights, ornaments, stockings and a few decor items. I just couldn't do anymore. I think I have another couple bins in there, but I did not want to bother putting them up this year. I decided to simplify.

We spent an entire afternoon putting up the tree and decorating. I was dreading putting up the tree. Absolutely dreading it. You see, I have NEVER put the tree up by myself. Not once. There has always been family there, or Barry when he was home to help with it.

November of 2001 was when we bought this tree. We've had it for 8 years now! I remember walking through Wal Mart with Barry when the twins were just babies, and I said to him we should get a smaller tree. But No, he INSISTED we get the biggest and tallest tree we could, just so we'd never have to buy another. So $80 later, we came home with this 7.5 foot tall, 5 feet wide at the base, monstrosity of a tree. And we still have it. And it's not pre-lit. sigh. Putting the lights on is the most challenging thing. I could have done more, but I settled for only 3 strands this year. I just couldn't do more as I despise putting on the lights.

In 2002, when E was just brand new, my sister was visiting us, and we actually all put the tree up on Christmas Eve. That was the day that Barry interviewed for his 2nd to last job at McLane Northwest, which he was hired for. We didn't get home that night till really really late, so we all pitched in and did it late Christmas eve. That was also the day that V said the "f" word for the first time, LOL. Ahhh such memories of Xmas 2002!! 2003 Barry was home, and we did it all together. 2004, I don't remember much of that, but I'm pretty sure my mom and sister were there (By then Barry was working for his "current" job, and was already over the road). 2005 we were at our first home, and my mom/sister and I did it together, same for 2006 when A was a baby. 2007 and 2008 were also subsequent years with my mom and sister, as we almost always did it Sinter Klaas weekend. Last year, 2008, my sister did most of it with me and she did a horrible, HORRIBLE, job. After her and my mom left, I actually took off ALL the decorations, all the lights, and re-fluffed the tree. Then I put everything back on, after buying more lights. I know she is reading this, and her and I had a good laugh about that tonight. She is a horrible tree fluffer, just horrible. I still love you though Mafido!

This was my very first year putting it together on my own without any help, and I was scared. Just because it was the first time doing it without anyone, and the tree is not always easy to put together. I was cursing myself because I couldn't figure out what went were, but half way through assembling it, I found the diagram that Barry drew for me last year. I breathed a sigh of relief as I found that piece of paper, and tucked it safely into an ornament box for using next year, silently thanking him for doing that.

Now our tree is up, it looks beautiful and is our usual mish-mash of balls, homemade ornaments, bought ornaments, and my extensive collection of Hallmark ornaments. It was a bit emotional putting up the tree, remembering all these ornaments I had bought over the year. Seeing the first ones I had made for this tree, ones I had made for Barry, the one he made for E when she was just a baby, and crying softly while putting some of them on. A new addition to our tree this year was one special ornament I bought for him in October after he passed. A special spot on the tree, front and center, was reserved just for this ornament:


On the back it says "The true testament of a life well-lived is the love we leave behind".

That certainly is true.


******someone asked me where I purchased this ornament. I got it at Hallmark*********

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Months Ago


In Loving Memory
Barry N. Bender, Jr.
3-6-80 to 10-10-09

I will love you forever and always sexy man.

I've been writing this blog post off and on for the past week, gleaning bits of information from myself to write today.

Today is the magical number two. Two months. 8 Weeks and 5 days exactly. 87,840 minutes.

It has been that long since Barry died.

And you know what? I'm OK. I really am. most of the time. Today though, because it has been two months, I am sad. And I am crying, but I am OK. I am OK because I know that he loves me, and he will always love me. And I am OK because I know that I gave him his forever, even though he couldn't give it to me. I gave him the most love he could ever receive, I was a good wife, I was a good mother to his kids, I was his everything. He died knowing that I loved him, and that he was loved. And now in tribute to him, I am going to continue to live because that is what he would have wanted.

I still miss him terribly, but that awful heart wrenching pain has dissipated quite a bit. And for that I am thankful. I am thankful I can go to bed without crying, without feeling desperation all day, without feeling like I HAVE to grieve. I can go about a normal day and be a normal person. I love the picture that I posted of him. I took it this past summer at Fort Langley when we were visiting my mom. He rarely smiled in pictures, but in this one I can just see a smile coming out. I can look at it and see his mouth break open into a smile, while he looks at me. Even his eyes are smiling.

My cousin Heidi wrote a note on face book that really struck a cord with me. She wrote exactly how I felt, have felt, was feeling. She wrote about how you never think things are going to get better, and how it seems all you're going to do is hurt. But that time heals.

And it's true, it really is. Time heals all wounds, even though it seems like complete bullshit when you first hear it.

To quote Barry,

"But in realizing death, we must also remember to live. Time heals all wounds. Grief is normal, and it will pass"


I've had to repeat that to myself many times over the past two months. It seemed at first that nothing would get better, that I could never be happy again, that I would never get past this. And I really did walk around in a fog, just had this cloud above my head that was dark and thunderous. Eventually it started to go away, slowly, but it's gone now. Sometime last month, a couple weeks before I wrote my post about "It's Time", is when I finally started feeling normal. I still wrote grief posts after that, because I felt I had to, but not because I wanted to. I felt it was expected of me. Like I had to bow to society's standards about how I have to grieve. But you know what? Fuck Society. Really. I don't care what everyone else thinks. I'm an adult, I am independent, and I will make my OWN decisions and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of me. I can thank Barry for helping me cultivate that attitude/view on life, because without him, I wouldn't have it. I will grieve in my own way, and if someone doesn't understand then they can just keep that to themselves.

Then I think about what he said, and I realize that time does heal all wounds. I can look back at him now and smile, and remember without my heart breaking. I still get teary eyed sometimes, and I will always miss him and love him. He'll never be forgotten. He'll always live on in us.

I had my ring cut off on Monday. I didn't feel right wearing it anymore. I'm not married anymore, so why wear it? My fingers were too chubby to take it off myself, so I went to a local Jeweler, and had them cut it off. BUT BUT...I'm also having mine and his re-soldered together, so they are intertwined. Not sure what I'll do with them after that, but I'm not worried about that yet. They are very special to me, and we have the exact same ring, a plain gold band he bought from a German jewelery store. This way, if the kids want later in life, they can get them made into wedding bands for themselves, and have something special that was mine and Barry's. I've also gotten rid of most of his stuff. I've kept all the important mementos like pictures, cards, his wallet, knives/guns, last outfit he ever wore, his favorite t-shirt and one shirt for each of the kids. And I kept most of his DVDs, and his computers. But everything else went to goodwill. I don't want it anymore. I just needed to get rid of it, as it is cluttering up my life. I just can't have it around anymore. I'm ready to move on. I think he would be exceptionally proud of me for how strong I have been, for how I've held up in this time of adversity. I know he is proud of me. He ALWAYS encouraged me to become more independent, to stop worrying about what everyone thought of me, to be my own person, and I finally am. He would be extremely proud of me for standing on my own two feet!

In just under a month we'll be ringing in a new year. I'm going to make 2010 the best that I can. I'm going to Live, Love, Laugh, and Be Happy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Today

I can't think of a good heading for today, so Today it shall be.

Yesterday I went through Barry's clothes, and decided what to keep and what to get rid of. I'd say we're keeping a large majority of his stuff, but he didn't have a lot of stuff anyway. Most of the clothes are going to goodwill except a few select things we're keeping for memories. I'll be looking for a big tote today so that I can store it all in.

With everything that's been going on, I've failed to realize that Christmas is right around the corner. Oops! I have hardly any decorations up, but I am done with my shopping. Ok, not done, but I just have to get some stocking stuffers, and a gift for my step dad. Today I plan to get a few things, but I've also got to focus on the rest of my decluttering, and goodwill donations. Company is coming from out of town...duh duh duh duh....in two weeks, so I really really have to get on the ball with that.

How is everyone else doing with their christmas prep? I haven't even started any baking! That's another thing I need to do, get my Christmas baking list done and do the shopping for that too.

I'm feeling just a little overwhelmed.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Battle Of The Bulge

Something in me has changed these last couple months.

I have lost 33.5lbs!!! Only 11.5lbs more to reach my first goal of 43lbs, and then I can hit the big magic number that is 50!!

I will be the first to admit that before Barry died, all I did was snack, snack, snack and snack some more. Peanut M&Ms and Twizzlers were my friends, keeping me company at all times. *sigh*

When he died, I lost my appetite, and along with my appetite, my desire for sweets.

And now I don't care to eat them at all. Do you know, I can honestly say I can not remember the last time I bought myself a candy bar? a bag of candy? I really have no desire to eat it anymore, and I am so happy about that. But I think before this all happened, I ate because I was lonely. Because I had no one to talk to, nothing to do, nothing that gave me any purpose.

I'm not saying I am not lonely, but you know, I have made so many new friends and talked to so many people that I don't feel lonely anymore. And I have no reason to eat junk food anymore, why would I?

I think seeing yourself lose so much weight is just the motivation you need. In the grand scheme of things, what I've lost isn't that much for now. I still have a long ways to go, but I am getting there at a good pace and doing well with it. I've gone down two jeans sizes, and I'm about to hit my 3d within a few pounds more. I also think it's about time to buy some new bras and unders, as they're getting a bit big too. My shirt sizes have even gone down 1-2 sizes. My body is just eating up the fat like there's no tomorrow. And why? I just don't have much of an appetite. My body has gotten used to not getting sugar for energy, and is using it's own fat stores to fuel me.

I think I am going to add some exercise into the mix, but I haven't gotten quite brave enough to do that yet. I do have the Wii Fit, but I am also wanting to get a Gym membership.

Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to do a before and after shot, but not yet.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Miss Me?

I miss you guys too, but this week has been crazy! I haven't had time to blog at all, but I will be getting a post up SOON. I promise. I'll do it this weekend.

I've been very very distracted this week and I haven't been able to even think of what to write, or even when to write it.

Come back soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Time

Dear Readers;

What I'm going to write about today has been weighing heavily on my mind for awhile, and I've struggled with coming to terms with it, how to acknowledge it, and just how to proceed from there. I had a couple really awesome conversations last night with a couple people, one including my sister, that really helped me realize that this is what I want to do right now.

And without further adieu, here we go...

I'm not going to blog about grief for long time.

It has been almost two months since Barry died. I have trouble beleiving that myself, only two months? I remember the week after he died, when we were all busy with funeral preparations and dealing with that and the aftermath, time just crept by so very slowly. And then my family left, and I thought time couldn't go fast enough. All I wanted was for time to pass. Now here I am, the last day of November, and I'm shocked that he's been dead for two months almost.

The last two months have been filled with unmeasurable sorrow. Buckets of tears, little sleep, spending lots of money because I just needed to keep busy. We've done the Grief Support group thing (next week the 10th is our last meeting, we're skipping this week because the three older kids have the Christmas Choir performance) too, and we've just tried to deal with this dynamic change in our family. And it has been the HARDEST thing I have ever had to do.

I will always love him, that is never going to change. How could I not? We were married for almost 10 years and have 4 children together. He was my life for over 10 years.

But now he's dead.

And honestly, that changes things now. How can I be in love with a dead man? Does that sound callous? I certainly don't intend for it to sound that way, but the love that I have for him, its changing in some ways. It's so hard to explain unless you've actually lost a spouse; You will always love them, always hold them in your heart and memories, but you can't live a live with a dead person. You can't talk to a dead person...well, you can, but not in person and you certainly won't get a response. I don't think the love will fade, but it just changes.

Blogging about him has been so therapeutic, it has helped me to work with my grief and somehow, somewhat, come to terms with it. But it is so emotionally exhausting to talk about it all. the. time. Ever stopped by here and wondered why there wasn't a post one day? this is why. All I've been blogging about for these last two months has been Grief and Barry, and I just CAN'T anymore. I just can't. Theres no saying I won't blog about grief again, I probably will, and at certain milestones too. But this grief blogging day after day after day after day, is really getting old. How many times can I really say how sad I am? And I do think that blogging about him all the time is prolonging my sadness. Of course if I write about it, I'm going to be sad and all that encompasses.

I want to be happy again, I am going to be happy again. I don't want to wake up each day and think that I have to grieve, have to be sad all the time because my husband is dead. Society has made us think that once you lose a spouse, you should grieve for the longest time possible, perhaps the rest of your life. But I'm only 29, I'm not destined to spend the rest of my life grieving and mourning the loss of my husband. I'm not destined to spend the rest of my life alone! I do want to love again, and one day I hope I can even get remarried. I'm going to get through the holidays this month (ok, next month, but its only one day, does it really matter?), and start 2010 afresh. 2010 is going to be a new year for us! I'm going to make it the best year I can. We're going to go to see family in PA hopefully in the summer for a reunion, I'm going to try take the kids to Disneyworld or Disneyland, and I'm even thinking about going camping with them too! We're going to LIVE, and enjoy, and be happy again.

I hope you will all come to visit and read my blog still. I love having you all here, reading about us, encouraging me, and being such awesome supportive friends. It has meant so much to me.

And with that, I say goodbye to grief blogging for now. I will be blogging still regularly, so come back to visit!! I've found a new love for writing, and I enjoy it!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Worst Kid Event Ever

Today I met some friends, and we took our kids to the Christmas Tree Forest, which is put on by the hospital here in town.

Never again.

It was an awful, stressful afternoon.

The only good parts were seeing Jason and his family, and Polly and her daughter. I dressed all the kids in red as well because I suspected that Santa would be there and I wanted to get pictures of them with him. Thankfully those turned out, for the most part, but it was hot, crowded, and tiring. A had TWO melt downs, and managed to smudge her cute Santa face painting in the process.

The afternoon was capped off with junior booty dancers. Now, I'm not against dance classes, and I think they're great for kids. But the costumes? OMG they were way too sexy for little girls! Even the teens! I was not impressed at all. And let's not even get started on the dancing....yikes! Since when does hip gyrating and revealing clothing belong at a Christmas event where we're looking at Christmas trees? Wow PSP, you really outdid yourself this time!

We had had about enough at this point, the kids were cranky, it was really loud, and my back hurt from everything I was carrying around. We said our goodbyes to Jason and Lindsay, and then I took the kids into the lobby to try a few more pictures. That was just as bad! I took the photos as best as I could, but A would NOT look at the camera, so I had the boy hold her face still, but that didn't work at all. V looked bored in most of the pictures too. Having enough of that crap, I just decided to call it a day.

When I got home, I noticed that E and A both had smudged faces from their face paint. A's was from crying and rubbing her cheeks, but E looked like she had eaten dirt! Oh well, it will make for a nice photo collage on the Christmas card, and we'll laugh at it later, lol.

At least it was a nice distraction from reality, and kept us occupied for an afternoon. The last couple days have been full of activity, and I am thankful for that. I haven't had to do too much grieving lately, though Thanksgiving was pretty hard for me, especially since I didn't hear from any family either except from my sister and mom.

Now that Christmas is looming, I can't help but wonder how we are going to feel this holiday season. Will it be hard for us on Christmas, or will we be ok because we will have family there? Honestly, I'm not not as worried about Christmas as I am for our 10th Anniversary, which is four days later. I plan to have us out all day, doing something.

I just don't want to have to think about it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank Yous on Thanksgiving Day

I have about a million and a half Thank Yous to write, and I've told people that I just can't handle writing thank you notes, so what better place then here?

I can't say thank you enough to EVERYONE. I don't think I can really express how thankful I am, how much you have blessed us and made things somewhat easier for us these past couple months.

I'm just going to write a list, so bear with me. I'll also use first names, but not last, and they're in no particular order, whichever came to my mind next as I wrote this list. Please don't be offended if I have forgotten you, it wasn't on purpose. Quite honestly, I have had so many gifts, calls, donations etc etc that I haven't been able to keep everything and everyone straight.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to:
  • All our our School families that brought us dinner while Barry was in the hospital and after he passed.
  • The kids' teachers, and all the staff at the school for the gifts and gift cards
  • All the parents who donated to the school's fund for us
  • The booster club for the flowers for the funeral
  • Lisa....you know why I am thankful. We are going to miss you guys!!
  • Sara...you also know why I am thankful. You have been such a wonderful friend.
  • Angela, for your wonderful friendship and fridge soup
  • Adam and Donna, for the meals, for helping with the birthday party, for your friendship
  • All the ladies at my MOPS group that prayed for us, brought us food at the funeral, dinners for a week afterward
  • The ladies at Lori's MOPS group and Church for the gift cards
  • Chaplain David at the hospital
  • Deb, who was there with me the whole time at the hospital
  • Amy and KC at the hospital
  • Rick at the hospital
  • All the Meet Up Group ladies for bringing us food for a week, and for the new friends I have made there.
  • Cami for our movie night, dinner and snacks. I hope A gets you as a teacher!
  • Everyone who donated to Rina's memorial fund for us
  • Larina, thank you so very very much, I can't say enough.
  • Scott and Andrea, it meant a lot to me
  • Amanda, thank you so much for helping pay for our funeral outfits and a few fun things :)
  • Melanie, I wear it all the time! I love it!
  • Uncle Mike and Aunty Cheryl, it was really really helpful.
  • Aunt Judy, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Lori (and your hubbys), thank you for the checks
  • Liss, for the package of goodies from Australia! I'm saving some for Christmas still :)
  • Rebecca, for being a listening ear, a good friend, and knowing what I am going through. I'm so glad we're friends! Thank you for opening your home to us, and having us over for dinner tonight. It has meant the world to me. I love ya!
  • Christy, for being such a good friend and knowing exactly what I mean when i can't even say it, for knowing me so well, even though we've never met. I love ya!
  • Black Tooth Callus Foot, Raccoon Face Cries A Lot, Brown Face Red Ears and the Irish man. I have already said my thank yous, but you know I mean it. I love you!
  • Jarod for the help with the house stuff and teaching me how to thread the weed eater.
  • The other 3 family members, Bryan, Kevin and Barry Sr, that filled in the holes in the yard
  • Mimi for fueling my Costco addiction! Thanks for the membership!!! Lets go again soon!
  • Everyone from Gymbo Friends for supporting me and the kids
  • The two lovely ladies on Gymbo Friends that bought, and dedicated the Star in Barry's name, thank you so much for honoring his memory.
  • Doug, I can't say enough. You and everyone else at work are fantastic.
  • Dusty, you are so awesome and I really appreciate everything you did. Thank you for talking at the funeral
  • Jeff, thanks for being a good friend to Barry and I, I am so glad I got to meet you.
  • Michael, I am so thankful you were such a good friend to Barry and are being one to me, I really appreciate the phone calls. Please keep calling :)
  • Everyone who came to the funeral to support us, thank you.
  • Curt and Ken at the funeral home, Nancy too. I know it's your job, but your kindness meant everything to me.
  • Connie, for being such a good listener last weekend.
  • Dr Steve!!! I love ya, thank you so much for EVERYTHING. You've really helped me keep Barry alive in our hearts. I can't say how much it has meant to me, because there are no words.
  • Everyone who called in for the Trucker Doody show on Weird Medicine and did the tribute to Barry, THANK YOU!
  • Cari, thank you for that fun Saturday. It meant a lot to us and was great to get out of the house.
  • All my new friends, you are all awesome!
  • Everyone that has encouraged me in my writing, you've helped me keep going, thank you.
  • Vickie, thank you for the phone!!!
  • Monica, thanks for helping with A and babysitting, and inviting us out on Halloween.
  • Michelle for the movie and for being an awesome twitter friend :)
  • All the folks at my holiday grief support group
  • Thank you to The Grocery Outlet, especially Cyndi and her husband
  • Thank you to my children for also helping keep Daddy alive in our hearts. I love you guys!
And my last thank you goes to Barry. Thank you Barry for being the best husband I could have asked for. Thank you for loving me, for letting me love you. For trusting me and being my best friend, for allowing me into your life and marrying me. Thank you for providing for us, for sacrificing everything for us. Thank you for giving me the four best kids ever. Thank you for living on in them, so that we can see you always. Thank you for encouraging me, for believing in me, and knowing that I really did have potential. Thank you for celebrating the millennium with me, in Germany, on our honeymoon :). Thank you for driving almost everywhere when you were home, because you know I hated driving with you (and you hated me driving anyway! lol). Thank you for teaching me how to drive a stick shift. Thank you for teaching me new things, for helping me learn new things, and for forcing me to become more independent at certain times. Thank you for your wonderful Spaghetti, and for loving my cooking (I will always make no-bakes in remembrance of you). Thank you for being a Soldier and serving your country. Thank you for being the strongest man I have ever known.

Thank you for giving me the best 11 years of my life. Thank you for December 18th, 1999 when you went into Yahoo Chat and decided you liked my screen name and IMed me. Who would have thought a simple question like "What's Ska Music" would lead to a decade of love, family, and friendship. Thank you for August 28th '99 when you proposed to me in front of The Empress Hotel, and thank you for saying "Yes" on December 29th '99 when we took our vows and got married. Thank you for being YOU.

And lastly, thank you for being my best friend, my lover, my confidante, my everything. I will always love you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How Long Will It Be?

I started writing this post over an hour ago, and I am just now getting to it. I am slow tonight! I had a few emails to catch up on, a thank you note to write, facebook to check. Lots to do! I wasn't planning on writing tonight, because frankly, I just can't do the grief thing day in and day out. I do know that that's why you're here, because it makes for a good read. And that's totally ok with me, please just be aware that I won't be "grief blogging" every day. I would say the majority of my posts will be about grief, but I've still got that Advent Calendar post to publish.

Anyway...

Today the youngest was very tired and overwhelmed. We were cleaning the house all day, and she didn't get a nap in. Naps aren't the norm for her, but once in awhile she will still take one. During one of her cranky fits, she was crying and crying and said "I want my daddy".

Just imagine me letting out the biggest sigh ever. The weight of the world on my shoulders.

All I can do for her is say "I know", and give her a hug and a kiss.

I don't know how to handle these types of instances. I know she is young, but how long will it be till she stops asking about him? All the kids have known is having Daddy gone for work, he started Trucking when the twins were just over a year old. And while he had a local trucking job for awhile, they were just 2-3, and E at the time was just brand new, and 1.5 when he started with his current job (well, it was his current job). So all the kids are used to him being gone, but the older three understand more. She doesn't. I want her to ask, I don't want her to stop asking, but I don't know how to explain to her about what happened, over and over and over. My usual response is something along the lines of: "Daddy's heart was sick, and the doctors couldn't fix it, and then daddy died. Now he lives in our hearts and we can talk to him any time we want" etc etc.

I thought ahead to Christmas, and her birthday, and wondered if she's going to ask about him then. Why does she have to be so used to him being gone? Why did his job have to be such a curse and a blessing that way? I can't help but wonder if she will forget him. I don't want her to forget! I am scared she will stop asking about him, and forget he existed, because she is so young. I know that it is our duty to keep him alive for her, to relay memories and tell stories, look at pictures and watch the few videos we have. And sadly, that is all we have now, whatever exists in our hearts and our heads, the jpgs in the computer and the few videos I have wandering somewhere around the house.

And if she does ask, what the hell am I going to say? How do I explain to her that daddy can never come back? It breaks my heart to break hers. How can I tell her that No, daddy isn't working, he died and now he lives in our hearts? As I said earlier, she is used to him being gone, she doesn't get the finality of the situation.

I just don't know what to do!

And while I am on the topic of grieving, I am wondering how to handle day to day life with the kids. I feel like we aren't grieving. OK, maybe we are, I know we all are, but around each other, we don't so much. I rarely cry in front of the kids. The boy doesn't like to talk about his feelings. V, the oldest, is always saying how much she misses him and does cry...she shows her grief the most. E, the middle child, is a lot like the boy and doesn't show her feelings very well.

It feels like we're just going through the motions of day to day life as usual. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is it bad that this is our life, having him gone all the time, and bad that we're used to it? I will be bringing this up at our next grief support group, because I think that some of the other parents can give me some insight on this. I personally, do not know what to do, because I want us to miss him, I want us to cry and be sad, but it seems like we just don't know how because we are so used to him being gone.

I know for a fact that I have trouble grieving in front of the kids. I do cry occasionally in front of them, and I know they have heard me at night getting upset and crying, but I feel like I have to put on a front for them and just be the strong mommy. The grieving wife side of me doesn't get to come out usually unless I am by myself at night, or during the day if all the kids are gone at friends' houses or school.

Does anyone have any ideas? I know you're all reading, so comment already :)

It's hard to believe I've been a widow for almost 7 weeks. It will be 7 weeks on Saturday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Day I lost My Identity

I feel incomplete.

October 10Th, 2009, was the day I lost my identity. I was talking to someone last Friday night about how I haven't felt like myself ever since Barry died.

I feel like I am missing my other half, which I am, like part of me has been cut off. I want the old me back! The new Joanna is very different from the Joanna that was 7 weeks ago. Barry completed me, he made me whole, and now he's gone. Has anyone has read The Golden Compass by Bill Pullman ("His Dark Materials" series) ? Do you remember how the children felt when they were cut off from their Daemons? That is how I feel without Barry.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be a wife and a mother. I did dream about becoming a nurse, a doctor, a veterinarian, a lawyer etc etc, but I've always felt my true calling was to be a Wife and a Mother. I accomplished those both, but now that one has been taken away from me, I don't know what to do with myself.

So now that I'm just a mom, how do I feel complete again? How do I move on from this feeling that I am floundering, just barely treading water, and feel like myself again?

I started up my hair clip business ("The Mane Attraction" on facebook), which takes up a lot of my time, and gives me a creative outlet. I blog here, and write about anything and everything. I go out with my friends, I go shopping, I pay bills, I clean, I fold laundry, I kiss owies, I give hugs and Kisses, I run errands, I do everything that a mom does.

But I miss being a Wife! I so desperately miss that aspect of my life. I miss caring for my husband, doing things for him, washing his laundry, everything that being a wife encompasses. Even having a conversation with him, and we talked for HOURS every day. I want that back, I want to be a wife again.

I know a lot of people don't understand how I am feeling, and that's ok. I'm not asking for sympathy, or understanding, or anything for that matter. I just want to know what to do with myself to make the ache go away. I physically ache for Barry, I just want to be with him again, and I can't, and it tears me apart.

I know I have been forced to become a new person, and like it or not, I have to accept it. Do you think I enjoy writing about my grief? No. But it's the new me, and it's what I am good at. I am also dreading the thought of what I am going to be responsible for when I finally buy a house. I'm going to have to learn how to hang shelving and learn how to use a drill! The old Joanna didn't even care about using a drill, and now she has to.

I'm struggling with learning how to accept my new identity of Widow, and learning how to just remember what it was like to be a Wife. I don't have to forget it, just remember.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fate Knows

Fate knows all. I truly believe this, especially after the events of this past year.

First off, I do NOT want to write this post. Not one bit. But if I don't write it tonight, then I have to write it tomorrow. Unfortunately, it isn't something that can be ignored, as it has been really tugging on my mind the last few days. I feel that not writing about Fate would be an injustice to me, to you, to my blog and my memories.

Barry always said he would die young.

I would always shush him and say "Stop! Hush. Just take care of yourself and you'll be fine".

But he knew, he always knew, and I think in the back of my mind I knew too. It hurts to say that, it rips me apart to admit it. Funny thing is, he was perfectly healthy, he had NO health problems except that he was overweight.

In response to my comment above, he would always say that the men in his family did not live long lives. And unfortunately, that has proved to be true. Barry died this year at age 29, his cousin Dustin died this past July at age 19, and their grandfather died at the age of 43 years ago. I hated hearing about how he knew he would die young, it scared me to think of him being taken away from us.

But Fate knew.

I truly believe that is why we had such a WONDERFUL marriage. True, we did have our ups and downs like every married couple, but we were strong to the core. We were best friends. We always talked, spent hours on the phone every day, talking about everything and anything. Silly things, the kids, life, death, my crafts, his favorite radio shows (Opie and Anthony, Ron and Fez and Weird Medicine), our future, our past. Anything you can imagine, we talked about. In fact, our relationship started as talking and communicating via email, phone calls and chat rooms. We met in a chat room! We talked for 9 months before we even met in person, coincidentally the day we met in person was the day he asked me to marry him. And we were married 3.5 months later. Really though, we had the best marriage. We packed everything we could into our 10 years, and that was because fate knew.

We had a fantastic 2009 as a family. In May we went to The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle for our annual May Day excursion, in July we went to B.C. for a week, in August we went to Multnomah Falls in Oregon, and up to Birch Bay, WA as well. He was also here for our youngest daughter's firsts, like getting her ears pierced right before her 3d birthday last march. He was always adamant that the girls wait till they were responsible and able to not play with them, but he relented, and she had her ears pierced on his birthday, March 6th 2009. When we went to BC in July, that was our real family vacation, and we had so much fun! We all had such a good time, even if he didn't like to admit it all the time :).

In August, when we went to Multnomah Falls, we got the boy his first pocket knife. It was supposed to be a Christmas present, and had his name engraved into it, but Barry wanted to give it to him early, so we did. And he was able to teach the boy how to properly use a pocket knife. One day while he was home in August, I was talking to him about some Christmas gifts I had bought for the kids, and showed them to him. He didn't want me to give them to the kids b/c they took batteries, and we were trying to avoid that this year, so we gave them all to the kids as an early present. So he was able to see the kids open some of their Christmas gifts, and experience the joy that they did getting a surprise present.

Just a few short days later after we went to Oregon, we were able to take an early 10th anniversary trip!!! We dropped the kids off at my parent's place, and stayed at a hotel for a weekend, went out for a nice dinner and saw a movie (Inglourious Basterds) and did a bit of shopping. It was a great trip, and a great summer.

In 2009 Barry also got to realize his dream of going back to school. Unfortunately he did not get to finish, but he gave it his all while he was studying. He did a great job, and today in fact, I got copies of all of his Dean's List letters. He was on the Dean's list every. single. semester. He was awesome!!

And to say it again, I truly believe that this all happened because fate just knew. Fate knew that we had to do all this stuff, experience it, because little did we know he would be dead just a few short months later.

I also knew Barry was going to die as soon as I brought him to the hospital, perhaps even before. it wasn't a thought I was aware of, but it was just in the back of my mind, just a feeling I had. I think it was solidified for me once I saw him intubated, sedated in the ICU/CCU. Subconsciously I knew there was no going back from that point, but my mind didn't really register that thought. It's a hard feeling to explain, just a niggling feeling that you can't put your thumb on.

Because of what happened in October, I am so thankful for this year. I am so thankful that we had that time as a family, going on vacation, making memories and being with each other. I'm thankful that Barry and I had one last date, and got to celebrate our 10th anniversary 3.5 months early (we actually went out for our anniversary on the anniversary of our engagement! lol). I'm thankful that the kids' last memories of their daddy are good ones, rather than of him being in the hospital (they never saw him in the hospital). Now all they have to know is the good memories, of our time in Seattle, BC, and in Oregon, and everything before that.

They'll never know the pain I felt while he was in the hospital and when he died, because I wanted to protect them from that. They'll never know what it was like to see his head without his beloved beard, looking like a bowling ball, because they had to shave his beard off. They'll never have to know what it was like to see countless machines and tubes attached to his body, hearing beeps and blips, and heart rate monitors, seeing iv tubes, catheters, all that crap. They'll never have to know how awful it was to hear him say his last words, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. Why can't I breathe?" while looking into his eyes. All they have now are good, wonderful, memories of the best daddy they could ever have.

I do have to say though, Fate is a cruel bitch too, just like her sister Reality.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Post Coming Soon

I really wanted to write a huge long post tonight, but as I am not in the mood to write a lot, it will be done sometime this weekend.

Tomorrow I have kids going to friends' houses, so we'll be in and out all day as well, plus it's happening again on Sunday, and we have a goodbye party to go to. So we have a busy weekend again.

I'm going to be writing about Fate, I know what I have and want to say, just don't have the time to put it down into words until Saturday or Sunday night. And yes, the Advent calendar post is coming soon.

Be on the lookout for a new post this weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Everyone Needs A Down Day

Today we are dealing with typical WA fall/winter weather. It's cold, dreary, and pouring buckets of rain outside. Last night the wind was blowing so hard that the lights dimmed themselves.

Or maybe it was Barry come back to haunt me! lol He always said he would.

I am sitting here at my desk, in my red pajamas, contemplating whether or not I want to get showered in time to take my 3.5 year old to story time at the library. To be completely honest though, I don't want to go. I just want to sit and be home for awhile. We'll probably head out in a little while to return them anyway, just do a drive and dump. Don't want to accrue those fees you know!

We have been running ragged every since Barry died. Like I said in my last post, there really hasn't been that many days that we haven't gone out. And I don't really get to stay home today anyway, because we have grief support tonight. That I don't want to go to. I don't like that group at all, but the kids enjoy it, so I'll suck it up for them. Really though, it's all a bit too hippy for me, lighting the candles at the end, doing "break the ice" activities. It's lame, to put it lightly, and I feel out of place.

I've been feeling like I should blog about Barry, but I don't have the words today. Maybe I have a bit of a writer's block, but I can't think of anything to say about or for him. The insomnia is still affecting me, don't know why I can't get to bed on time. Last night, or should I say this morning, was 1:15AM. And I got up at 7:20. I do want to write about him, so I think I'll just share some memories...

  • When Barry got a little alcohol in him, he laughed like a little school girl. Ok, he laughed like that all the time. My sister always said it was so odd how this big, burly man had a girly laugh.
  • Barry's handwriting was impeccable. SO much so that I had trouble reading it sometimes. He rarely printed his letters, almost always writing in cursive.
  • Barry had big lat muscles, so when he walked, he always carried his arms out to the side a bit, like a big hulk walking towards you
  • He LOVED my homemade bread, we had it with almost every dinner meal when he was home
  • He made the best spaghetti ever. Before he came home in October, i bought the ingredients for him to make his legendary sauce. I haven't been able to make it yet, and I am not quite sure when I will. Funny how spaghetti makes me want to cry. One time though, right after our youngest was born, he made it and it was so spicy. The older three kids were crying because they couldn't eat it. I think that was the day I came home from the hospital after my c-section. I can duplicate his recipe, but it never, never, tastes the same as his. He had a special touch.
  • He had awful feet. They were wide, he had hairy toes, and very very flat feet. He was made for Rucking! He had told me before (Barry and I discussed death a lot, so that is how I was able to fulfill all his requests. It was a topic we spoke of often while we were married) that when he died he wanted someone to ID his body and be there when he was cremated. I asked my mom to do that for him, and she said she was honored to do so. While she wasn't able to stay for the entire cremation, as it is about a 7 hour process, she was there and helped push him into the chamber. Where was I? oh feet, lol. Ok, I said he had awful feet, and before Mom left, I told her how she could ID him...just by looking at his feet. And she said when she got there, she had no problem whatsoever IDing him by his feet (he was cremated in a cardboard box, he didn't want any pomp and circumstance for that, and they cut a corner off of it so you can look at the ankle/toe tag).
  • Sometimes I wish I had been there to help push him in, but I think that would have been too hard for me. I said my goodbyes at the hospital shortly after he died.

I am still having trouble coming to terms with his death. I really thought I "knew", but I was wrong. The thing is, my mind knows that he has died, but my heart does not. This life that I have been forced into, it doesn't seem real. I wouldn't liken it to a dream like state, but it certainly does feel like that sometimes. I feel like I am just going through the motions, just like a robot actually. Yes, I laugh, I cry, I yell, and I get angry, but it still doesn't seem real.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yes, He Really Is DEAD

I was in town, well, if you can call it in town, today for MOPS. OK, I really wouldn't call it in Town, because I live in the state capitol, but for all intents and purposes, I shall say "in town". And "town" is a half hour away from my house. And town is in a different place than where I live. But I digress...

Today at MOPS we made Advent Calendars. I have to say this is one of the most fun crafts I have ever made, I really really enjoyed it. I will post pictures in the next couple days or so of what I did because I am going to do a blog post about it. Figured I'd get a happy post in, everyone wants to know how to do crafts, right? So be on the look out for that in a few days, I am looking forward to posting it.

On to business...

Today I paid for Barry's funeral and cremation. I remember walking up to the Funeral Home and thinking that MOPS had just gotten out, and would anyone see me go into the funeral home and wonder why I was there? I don't think anyone saw me, but I don't know why I didn't want them to see me. I wasn't ashamed, I suppose it was just something I didn't want to share with anyone. Didn't want them to see me still taking care of funeral business, dealing with it all still.

I was laughing and joking with the staff, but inside I was hurting. I asked them if they could process my debit card as a credit because I get points for all transactions I do as credit. I joked about Barry's service giving me over 12000 points and now I could earn a Macy's gift card because I was over the point threshold for a $50 card. We talked about gallows humor, and how you just have to laugh sometimes because otherwise you'll just be eaten up inside. And then I accidentally slipped and said something about burning Barry...I was shocked at myself, but then started laughing because I was so flustered.

Paying today though, really was a slap in the face. It was a reminder, all over again, that "Yes, He really is DEAD" and that nothing could bring him back. Not that I expect anything to bring him back, but it was a hurtful reminder as I signed that receipt for $3,625. I felt as sad as I did when he died, as sad as I have been feeling since he died.

While driving back to the city, I was thinking again about how awful this whole situation is. How surreal it is. Do you know I still feel like I am in a dream sometimes? Hoping that maybe I'll wake up somehow. Because it still doesn't feel real to me, he doesn't seem gone. But he is, and will be forever. And while I was thinking about how awful it is, about how full of despair I am, I told myself that I just had to laugh.

The situation I am in, that the kids are in, it is so fucking awful. How can I cry all the time, and be depressed all the time? It is so stressful that I have to laugh about it, though I do feel like laughing like a mad woman. Just belly laughing to DE-stress. It's so awful you can't imagine how awful it really is. And every time I think that maybe, just maybe, I am OK, it hits me all over again and I'm knocked to the ground. And my last analogy of the night, dealing with grief of this magnitude is so very much like one step forward, two steps back. I feel like I am in a well trying to climb up the slippery sides, but rarely finding anything to grip.

And I wonder, when will I be OK? I know we're NEVER going to get over this. You can't possibly get over a loss like this. The pain is going to be there forever, but when will I be OK? When can I laugh, and share memories, and be happy again? When will I think of him and have a warm fuzzy feeling spread throughout my body as I remember him, instead of being sad and angry that he left us?

I still can't look at his pictures for too long without crying. I do touch his face each night and say "I love you", I kiss his lips through the glass, and then I go to bed.

And I still haven't dreamt about him.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blueberry Muffins, A Coping Mechanism?

While eating breakfast this morning with the kids, I was reminded of Barry again all because of a Blueberry muffin.

Ok, let me back track a little bit. First off, I have a Costco membership thanks to my friend Mimi. Secondly, I love Costco muffins, especially blueberry and poppy seed/almond. I bought some a couple weeks ago, but froze the rest as we couldn't finish them. Today for breakfast the kids wanted a muffin, so I said yes and pulled some out of the freezer.

As we were eating, and enjoying those delicious muffins, my youngest daughter was complaining about her blueberries. I don't know why, she's 3.5...it's her age. She complains about anything that strikes her fancy. I was telling her how she loved blueberries, and she always has, ever since she was a baby. They were her favorite fruit. But as I was telling her how much she did like them, I was struck with the memory of how Barry would say Blueberry.

Blu-burr-ee.

He actually adopted this way of saying it from one of his favorite XM Radio Personalities. I can't remember if it was Opie or Anthony, one of the two. Blueberries were Barry's favorite fruit too. He really didn't like the taste of fruit, but was a blueberry eating fool. Actually, this past summer the kids and I were picking LOADS of blueberries, almost 40lbs, and my freezer is still full of berries, a pie, and a few blueberry buckles. He ate a lot of it while he was home in August actually, he loved his Blueberry Pie and Blueberry Buckle. Barry always thought it was funny to say it like that, I can even hear his voice saying it in my head. Blu-burr-ee.

As soon as I remembered this, I pushed it from my mind. I couldn't even bring myself to tell the kids, even though it was funny, because it was a memory.

What is wrong with me? I can't handle the memories. I'm afraid to remember, but I'm also afraid that I will forget if I don't remember. What happens if I don't write all the memories down? Will they fade with time, or will they just pop up like they did this morning? it's too hard for me to write things down unless I'm blogging about it, though I can't blog about every single memory. Some of them are too sad, some are too private, and it's too hard to write about it, even in a journal in list form.

Is this my mind subconsciously making me cope? By making me not ready to write things down? Or is it just biding it's time and waiting for me to be ready?

I wish I knew.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lists

I wanted to talk about a bunch of different topics, subjects, what have you, but as there is too much, I will just list it, and summarize everything.

  • I can't remember the last time I really cleaned my room. I think it was before Barry was to come home, before he went into the hospital. After he died, and mom and I were cleaning for out of town company, we used my room as a catch all. I still have his clothes where I left them. His Fridge, a bin full of stuff to bring to goodwill, his Army duffel bag full of his clean AND dirty laundry. Countless bags of Christmas presents on the floor and stuffed into the closet. The clothes I bought for the Salvation Army kids, the clothes I bought myself at Old Navy yesterday, my clean clothes stacked on a box. Books, clutter,, his computers and lap top bag, a random sock of his from last august that he left at home by accident, paper work, just clutter. I have to clear a path really, it's very messy. And mom, I know you're reading this, rest assured it will be clean before you come over at Christmas. No bitching allowed! haha
  • I still haven't touched his clothes from where I put them when I emptied his truck. Everything is how I left it when I first put it there. Though I really suppose I SHOULD charge the lap top, I haven't used it in a few weeks.
  • I haven't folded laundry properly in weeks
  • My son asked if he could do the dishes before school this morning because i left them from last night and the kitchen was messy. So yes, I did do them after they went to school
  • As it is painfully obvious, housework is not a priority for me right now. I have to get my butt in gear though because I have 4 family members coming in from out of town for Christmas in just over a month.
  • I almost bought Barry a pair of slippers the other day because I knew his were worn out and in need of replacement. I was going to buy him new work gloves, new slippers, and a new duffel bag...all of which he desperately needed.
  • We started family grief support Thursday night. I didn't get anything out of it. I'm hoping this will change, but I do understand it is geared to the kids. Almost everyone there lost someone to cancer. I felt very out of place.
  • I talked to Barry's school today regarding his account, transcripts and everything. It made me very sad that he will never get to see his dream fulfilled. He was such an AWESOME student! On the Dean's list every semester. I'm in the process of getting copies of his transcripts and Dean's list letters to save for the kids. I want to show them how much of a wonderful student their daddy was.
  • Yesterday I a let my 3.5 year old watch Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas twice in a row and I didn't care. I also didn't shower till 10:30 yesterday morning.
  • Last night I took the kids to Costco after an early dinner. Before we left, I thought to myself, "Oh, I better call Barry to let him know we're going out".
  • I don't think there has been more than a one day span where I haven't gone out since Barry got home October 4th. I go somewhere almost every day. Before, I would only go out every few days. Now I HAVE to go somewhere, do something, anything, to keep my mind off things and keep busy and entertained.
  • Today I took my kids Christmas shopping and out for lunch. We had a subway gift card for lunch, but do you know how HARD it is to corral 4 kids in small restaurant? Plus keep them reasonably quiet and well mannered? It's impossible. Then we headed to Old Navy, Toys R Us, Target and Pier One. I will say this: There is a reason I only do my shopping during the week when the three oldest are in school.
  • I am hoping, crossing my fingers, anything, that 2010 is a better year for us. A year for healing, a year for laughter, a year for new memories. I hope it's our year to be happy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reality Is A Cruel Bitch

Don't you agree?

This morning I heard the familiar sounds of air brakes, and my heart started beating faster with excitement, pitter patter pitter patter.. I knew it wasn't Barry, but I couldn't help myself, and went outside to look and see what it was. Just a truck at the neighbor's house. Though my mind knew, my heart was still slightly crushed.

Unfortunately, the dog also heard it. Braddock loves Barry, and is used to him being gone. As soon as he heard them, he started whining and crying. You never really think of the pets in this sort of situation, but he knows. Braddock has known that sound for a very long time, since early 2004. Air brakes by the house means Daddy is home.

But now he's not.

I still haven't full accepted Barry's death. Why? I don't know. I just don't know how to fully comprehend it. Wrapping my mind around it is such a foreign concept to me and I still don't understand. And I'm not sure when I will. My mind does know, but my heart does not. I think that had Barry had a job where he was home all the time, this would be an easier transition. His job was a blessing, and a curse in disguise. So yes, we're used to him being gone which helps with day to day life, but again, we're also used to him being gone, so it doesn't seem real.

As I am typing this, the dog heard the truck outside start up again, and he is barking like mad. He thinks Barry is home. He is conditioned, like Pavlov's theory of Classical Conditioning.

On a bit of a happier note, I decided that this year the kids and I would adopt two children from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. You can pick an angel in your area, and either have the items shipped to the Salvation Army in their name, or drop it off at a local location. I'll be dropping them off at a local Salvation Army center.

I just felt really called to do this. Everyone has been so good to us, that I just wanted to make someone else's Christmas a little brighter. I have wanted to do this in the past, but we could never spare the money. This year I decided I would make sure I did. Please consider doing so if you can spare some, even $50 to go buy an outfit and some toys. I assure you it would really really help some parents give their children a Christmas that they can't otherwise afford.

I did have another, completely different, idea for today's post, but that will have to wait. I just felt it was more important to talk about what the dog was going through.

Pets grieve too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Struggling Today

Today I wish it wasn't a holiday, and that I could send the kids on the bus to school again. They have been so bratty today, and I am about to lose my mind. I live for when they're at school, is that bad? At least right now, I want them at school. Honestly, I can't handle them right now, and I am so tired of the fighting, yelling, and bitching at each other. They're all so antagonistic towards each other. Maybe I need to tie their legs together so they can just walk as one, and not 4.

Today I am so BORED. There is so much to do around the house, but I have been hit with a tendinitis flare up, and even typing this is hard. So putting together that shelving unit I bought yesterday, is going to have to wait. As is all the detailed work like folding laundry, and cleaning. I'm basically left with one hand, my right one, to do everything. I don't want to read, I don't want to watch TV, the Internet is boring, the kids are bratty, today sucks. I was thinking of heading to Wall*Hell today, but I am not about to take all the kids to a store to hear them whine about not getting toys, and running all over the place. Plus, I have a cold too, so not being able to breathe through my nose is pretty awful. I woke up at one point during the night because I couldn't breathe.

Today also marks Month Two. Today we started a new month without Barry. I think it is really starting to hit me, and I have been a lot more weepy lately. I just miss him so much! I still don't know how I am going to go on without him. I am, but I don't know how. Sure, it's easy to say moment by moment, but do you know sometimes I wish I could just end all this and be with him. I don't relish the thought of being without my husband for the rest of my life. I don't want the added responsibility that comes with being an "official" single parent.

Most of all, I am so tired of hearing "I'm so sorry for your loss", and "keeping you in our prayers and thoughts". ENOUGH! Just stop it already. I just want advice and support, NOT an I'm sorry. And I'm going to lay it all out here, I am so pissed that some of the family members didn't send cards or call. WTF, are you so into yourself and your own issues that you can't send a card? You can't even send your condolences via email or facebook? Might as well not even try now, it's been a month. Just remember this when you lose someone in your life, and I conveniently forget to send a card or call. Maybe you didn't know Barry very well, or talk to him in YEARS, but shame on you for not even saying an I'm sorry via a card when he died. A stamp only costs $.44 and a card about $3. Is that not worth it to you? Yeah, I know i said I was tired of the sympathy, but it just gets to me that some people, especially FAMILY, didn't care enough about us to send cards or send condolences. I think it's really sad that people are so close minded that they can't take a half hour to buy, address, and send a card when someone dies.

Tomorrow our family grief support starts. I am looking forward to it. I just need to vent to other people that have experienced what I have. I'm still thinking of looking into going to a shooting range. I really need to get out some aggression I think. I'm also going to a grief support group on Monday, on how to prepare/survive the holidays without your loved ones.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Month Ago

I have a post in mind for today, but I wanted to say some other things first. First off, I'm writing this Monday night. It's going to be a long post, so be forewarned. I don't have the ability to write this tomorrow morning because I am going to be out most of the day, and I don't want to deal with the emotions that come with writing a post like this. I'm staying away from the house, and keeping busy till the kids get home so I just don't have to think. I've also got a veteran's day assembly tomorrow night to go to. I figured why not write it tonight, Monday night, when I can deal with it all and wake up and not have to worry about writing such an emotional post. I haven't been able to write anything like this yet, and I certainly can't write like this in my journal right now. But I will definitely be keeping these posts for the future. Perhaps I'll even have them bound into a book. So here goes....I'm even crying while writing this intro.

One more thing. I had this post publish at Barry's time of death. 11:11Am.


My Dearest Barry,

I miss you so much honey. I think about you all the time, and I love, love, love you. I'll always love you less than 3. You're my sexy man, you mud stuffin!

One month ago, you were cruelly taken away from me and the kids. Little did I know that on that one Saturday, when I headed to the hospital, I would leave it without you forever. I wasn't even going to go to the hospital because we had to get ready for E's birthday party that afternoon, and I had to go pick up her cake at Safeway. You were going to make her a headstone cake with a candy skeleton, remember? But then when we realized you'd be in the hospital for awhile, we decided I'd go order one instead. Mom told me to go visit you, because it would be nice to see you earlier rather than later. I'm so glad I went.

We had such a nice visit that morning. Joking, laughing, and teasing each other. I remember you were eating your breakfast when I came into your room, and the first thing you said to me was "Hey Baby". I drank some of your OJ and then gave the rest to you because I didn't want to get any germs from you. I will treasure those moments forever. I'll never forget the time that we had. I am sure you know this, because I did tell you once you were conscious, but I was at the hospital day and night. I spent hours there with you in the ICU. I talked to you, rubbed your feet, held your hand, kissed your forehead, put pictures and cards up on your wall, everything. I don't remember saying I love you that morning, but your nurse Amy, told me she had heard us say it. I know we did, we were always saying I love you to each other.

Just a short time after I got to the hospital, I don't even remember what time it was, maybe 45 minutes? you got up to go to the bathroom. That's when it all went downhill. The nurses had me leave, and I called the family, and then they called a code blue. Dr. Christensen came to see me in the stairwell, where I was with a lovely woman named Deb, and told me they couldn't find a pulse. Did you hear me scream? I think everyone on the 10Th floor heard me scream. It made my ears ring. You always said I was too loud, I'm sure you did hear me. Then I ran past Dr Christensen, and ran full speed down the hallway...I didn't even hurt my shins! I forced my way into the hospital room and was at your side. I held your hand, I kissed you, I loved on you as they performed CPR on you. You were turning blue at this point, but I know you heard me talking to you.

Do you remember me telling you how much I love you? How much of a good daddy and husband you were? How you were my best friend? How I would love you forever and always?

Dr Christensen was standing at your head, and I to your left, holding your hand. He came to stand beside me, hugging me, and telling me that they could put you on life support, but that you wouldn't wake up. That you would be a vegetable for the rest of your life because you had been without oxygen for almost 40 minutes at that point. Did you hear that? Did you hear me yell at the doctors that I wasn't a widow? That I was too young to be a widow? That this wasn't happening to me? Did you hear me say that it was OK to stop the CPR, and that I knew you wouldn't want to be a vegetable? Do you know how hard it was for me to say that? To have to know I was saying goodbye to the man I loved? I broke away from the doctor, and went to talk to you again, telling you over and over and over how much I love you, how much the kids love you, how much of a good father you have been, how much of a wonderful husband you have been. How you were my best friend, and I thanked you for sacrificing everything for us. I kissed you and hugged you.

And then they called the time of death and stopped CPR. I was there with you and said goodbye.

Everyone cleared out of the room, the nurses took me to a private room where I was able to call Lisa and Sara to be with me. I don't think I could ever thank them enough for what they did for me. About an hour and a half after you passed, I was allowed to go back into your room to say my final goodbyes. I half layed on the hospital bed beside you, Lisa and Sara put your left arm around me and helped you to hug me. They leaned on my back and just hugged me, as I hugged you. Again I said goodbye, saying all those things I said before. And to tell you again, You were my best friend Barry, I love you more than anything. I will never stop loving you for the rest of my life. I appreciate everything you ever did for us, sacrificing our family time so that you could provide for us. You were the best husband I could have asked for, the very best man I could have ever asked to spend my life with. Our children couldn't have been given a better daddy, you were the best ever!

I had Lisa and Sara leave for about 15 minutes or so, so I could be with you by myself for awhile. You know, I clipped some of your chest hair? I have it saved away. I always loved running my fingers through it. I kissed your lips, I marveled at the fact that parts of you were still warm, and I couldn't stop touching you. I just loved on you.

Telling our kids that daddy died has got to be the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life. They miss you so much, and they've been having a hard time. A especially because she just doesn't get it. I don't know how I can explain to her how you are never coming back. I've tried, and I think maybe she is starting to understand, but she always says she misses you. We all miss you. We all love you. We're starting family counselling on the 12th, its geared especially towards families and kids that have lost someone like we have. And I am going to a grief support group starting in January, my good friend Rebecca, whom you never got to meet, is going to watch A for me once a week when I go. I think it will be good for me.

I think you would be so proud of me for how I have handled everything this past month. I've been so strong, despite the fact that my heart is breaking. I've done more paperwork than I could have ever imagined, I took care of your trip packs, I did all the insurance paperwork, I took care of the funeral arrangements. I've really stepped up and I know you always wanted me to make something of myself, and I have really taken the first steps towards that. I'm even thinking of writing a book! Everyone has told me how well I can write, I never knew that! It was always you who had that talent in our family. I respond by saying how sad it is that such a tragedy had to happen to make the words flow. But I can do it, and I am good at it!

People have blessed the kids and I considerably. With food, monetary donations, and cards, and love, and friendship. More than I could ever have asked for. And you have blessed us too Barry. I know we didn't expect that life insurance to ever have to be used, but thank you for that. Thank you so very very much for getting that, and seeing to provide for the kids and I after you passed.

I still sleep with your t-shirt under my pillow, and your pillow between my knees. Once in awhile I will wear it, and also wear your deodorant to bed, so the shirt smells like you. I cleaned out your truck, and guess what I found? Your black beanie cap! You also left me close to $80 in change!!! Mike always said you were bad for that, and was he ever right! Doug and Dusty came to your funeral, did you know that? And Jeff N came to pick up your truck shortly after that. it was so hard to see it being driven away, I recorded it with my blackberry, and had Jeff pull the air horn a few times so we could hear it.

At your funeral, did you hear the songs that I picked? I went through your iTunes on your (now my) lap top, and picked the top 4 songs I knew you liked. I know the two you wanted the most, Mars for when the service was starting, and O Fortuna for when it was ending and you were being taken out. You told me you wanted that, and I did it for you baby. I'm glad we were able to talk about that over the years, because it made me so happy to be able to do that for you. And O Fortuna, Barry that is YOUR song! When Mom, Maegen and I were going through the songs, we started laughing when I played it for them. It's so pompous, arrogant...it's you! It is the epitome of you, and I love you for that.

Barry, I love you. You are, and always will be, the man of my dreams. I have loved you since I was 18 years old! The 10 years that we were married, and the 11 that we knew each other were the best of my life. You gave me the best decade of my life! You were my first love, my first everything, and I will never forget you. I could write so much more, but my fingers are getting sore, and I will leave more for another day.

If I could ask you one more question, one last request of you, could you please come visit me in my dreams? I miss you, and I so desperately want to dream of you. To see you in the flesh, to touch you, to hear your voice telling me you love me.

Goodbye for now!

I love you Sexy Man!

Love, Me
xoxoxoxp

p.s. I finally bought that camera. haha :o)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

So I Couldn't Wait

I guess I got a long enough blogging break, because I have desperately felt the need to blog today. I kept putting it off though, guess I can't anymore.

Let's start off with some happy news. I bought myself a present this past week. Something I've been lusting after for quite some time, but never bought because Barry always said my other one was good enough. But I have wanted this for a very, very, very long time. So I did it! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

Meet the newest member of my family:

I also got this lens for it:


I thought that with all that has been going on the last month, I deserved a treat. And did I ever treat myself! This baby takes such awesome photos!!! I love love love it! Once things settle down for us a bit, I hope to have some photos up on here that I can share to show the camera's awesomeness.

In other news, I've been avoiding grief again. Grief didn't like this, so he came over, breaking down my door in the process.

Friday night was the worst I had been feeling in a long time. Imagine whole body wrenching, shuddering sobs of grief. The saddest you could ever be, and multiply it by 100. I couldn't stop crying for at least a half hour. I was so ANGRY, so very very angry that when I was cleaning up before bed, I was throwing things back into the cupboards. I actually don't think I have cried that hard at all this past month. Yeah, I cried in the hospital, but mostly I was in shock. I screamed and yelled and got angry in the hospital. I cried with my family. But I was in shock for a long time. Getting out that sadness really helped though, I felt better after I cried and spoke to my sister. I think it's something I am going to have to do a bit more often.

I still have moments where I feel panicky. I've had that a lot this weekend, and it's probably because of what happened friday night. The grief keeps coming back bit by bit, and then I panic because I am afraid to feel that pain again. I would akin it to an anxiety attack, yet without the tightening of the chest. I get so scared!

Being without Barry is something I can handle. I think. I certainly don't like it, but then, who would? At least I am used to it. That is when the fear sneaks in though, when I think I am OK, but am not really. I KNOW I CAN do this without him, but I'm scared to be without him. It's even hard to look at his pictures. It hurts to remember. I haven't done any remembering lately at all. Might be time for me to pull out those journals I bought a month ago, and write it all down. One thing I am having trouble with though, is remembering Barry's memories. I know a lot of them, and I want to remember them for the kids. But what do I write down? do I write down the good and the bad? just the good? Do the kids need to remember the bad? I don't want to forget ANYTHING.

Scared, frightened, horrified, worried, distressed, terrified, dismayed, despair, disheartened, . Those are all words I can use to describe how I am feeling.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Taking A Break

I haven't felt like blogging lately, so for anyone wondering where I've been, I've been taking a break.

I'm not sure when I'll be back, but please continue to come read and post, etc etc. Honestly, it's tiring to write about it all the time. And I don't want to do that right now.

This weekend I am just going to focus on myself and the kids. We're going to go see a movie, go out for dinner, and just have fun as a family.

I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

So......

I don't have a title for today's post.

Today I went back to MOPS after being gone for a month. Originally I went to the first meeting in September, and the one after that was the day Barry was extubated. Then the last one I couldn't make because the boy was sick, and he and I were on Tamiflu. I was disappointed that so many of the regulars were missing today, I guess it's that time of year and so many of us are sick. So my big group thank you will have to wait until next time, the 17th of November. But none the less, it was so good to see some of my friends!

At MOPS today one of the ladies gave me a copy of Barry's obituary. I had to hold back the tears a few times as I sat and read it, over and over. Looking into his eyes in the picture was hard. I loved that picture of him. It was actually one I took of he and my brother this past July, at Fort Langley. We had a great day, and I actually caught him smiling! lol I cropped his face for the obituary.

I miss him. I miss him more than words can say. I'm just so sad! I've been wanting to write down memories, but I haven't had the time to do so. I want to give myself quite a bit of time to do so, because I know it will be very emotional. I can't do it before bed either, because that's just too hard to do.

Today while I was driving home from my MOPS group, I wondered how I could possibly go on without him. How can my life go on without him? I don't want to be without him. I can't imagine my life without him. Yet here I am, and my life doesn't have him in it, living at least. I wish I could be with him, but the kids need me. I so desperately want him back.

I guess I am still feeling that desperation of losing him. It's really a hard feeling to get over, when you have such a tragic loss in your life. It doesn't hit me all the time though, just when it's quiet and my thoughts get the better of me. Those times are when the tears squeeze out of my eyes, when I quietly sob to myself.

I read a blog recently, another woman who lost her husband 4 years ago. She wrote a "Dear Husband" letter just last week. I'm actually thinking of doing something like that too, but in a bit of a different context. I want to write "Dear Barry" letters on important milestones, to tell him what we've been doing, how we're doing, remember memories, ask him questions etc etc. I want to write the first one now, but I am going to wait till the 10th, which will mark the one month anniversary of his death.

One month...so short a time, yet it feels like a lifetime.