Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Christmas Spirit

I am positive this is all due to Barry being dead, but I have none. zilch. zip.  zero. none.

I have my tree up, and all my decor.  I even put light up candy canes outside on my front lawn, and you can see my tree through my bay window from the outside, and it looks awesome.

Yet something is missing.  It doesn't feel like Christmas here at all.  Well, maybe a little bit, but not very much at all.  I have all my shopping done, but have not wrapped any presents.  I have not done any baking.  I rarely listen to Christmas music.  We finally put together our gingerbread house last night.

In years past, this was all the norm.  I made dozens and dozens of cookies, Christmas music was on all the time ad nauseum, and I was just so excited for Christmas to come.  I shopped and shopped and planned everything out to the last detail.

Last year obviously was the exception, and I didn't do anything.  We didn't even make a gingerbread house, which has been a yearly tradition since I can remember.  Since E was a baby in 2002 actually.  Last year was horrid.  My friend Rebecca mentioned that because last year was such a blur, we were still in shock, that it's all hitting me this year.

I am doing so many different things this year, that its a bit disconcerting I think.  Maybe because we are going to Canada for Christmas that I haven't really planned too much.  Or maybe because Barry isn't with us anymore, that it doesn't feel like Christmas anymore.  This is our first "real" normal Christmas without him, and it isn't even a real Christmas because we are going out of the country and spending it with my family.

I have to force myself to wrap presents for the kids and I actually, I'm so slow with that!  I don't know, I just don't seem to care this year.  Maybe I'll feel differently once we get to my mom's place on Christmas eve and start celebrating.  But until then, I won't really know.  I just don't care about the holiday, and almost wish it would just be over and done with already.

Someone needs to give me some Christmas spirit and stat!  Let's not even talk about New Years Eve yet.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I had an idea, but now it's gone

I had this great idea about what to blog about the other day, and told one of my twitter friends about it, but then I forgot.  Oops.  It was something to do with grief, but I can't for the life of me recall what it was about, so I will share something that happened to me yesterday.

I was at MOPS yesterday for our annual Christmas meeting.  I've been going to this MOPS group for 5 years now! I can't believe it has been that long already, I started going a couple months before A was born in march of 06. The ladies welcomed me right in, and I've been a part of that group ever since.  We have lost some members due to their children being too old, or they moved away, or just decided not to come anymore, but there are still some of us hardcore members from back then that still have younger kids, or have had more kids.  New mom's join every year as they have babies, so the group in itself is pretty awesome, and I am so thankful for it.  My MOPS group has been there for me so much, especially last year when Barry passed and they provided meals for us, helped with funeral arrangements etc etc.

The first sob of the morning happened during our hospitality time, when we did all our hello's, raffles etc. Every month we celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. Well, this December would have been mine and Barry's 11th wedding anniversary.  Two ladies raised their hands because they had anniversaries in this month.  I did not until the last moment.  Then before I could start talking, I started sobbing.  It came out of nowhere. The tears started flowing and all I could manage to choke out was "Oh god" as I was crying.  I managed to calm down a bit, and then said "Barry and I would have had our 11th anniversary this month".  And I cried some more.  I wasn't expecting that to happen at all.  It really is amazing how quickly the tears can come on, with little to no warning at all.

Yesterday before we did our White Elephant gift exchange, we also had a Mentor moms panel where the more experienced older moms talked to us younger moms.  These "older" moms have kids that are usually close to my age or older, so they have been married about 30  years usually.  As they were all talking about marriage, mother hood and all that that entails, I started to get really irritated.  I almost got up and left the room.  I didn't want to be there hearing these women talk about their husbands they had had the pleasure to be married to for 30, 40 years.  Frankly, it PISSED ME OFF.  I was INSANELY jealous, but I managed to hold it together and keep the tears at bay as best as I could.  The last thing they addressed was being a single mom and if they had any tips for single moms.  I kind of had to laugh to myself because they didn't really know how to answer this question. At the end of that session, they asked if anyone had anything to share.  And up went my hand. I talked.  But mostly I cried.

I had noticed one thing these women never mentioned at all was really how to treat their husbands.  So through my big crocodile tears, and snotty nose, and sobs escaping me, I told my story to the mom's that had never heard it.  I explained to them how Barry had died last year because some of the mom's were new and didn't know me last year.  Then I got to the point of what I had to say.  I said two things:

Never ever take your husbands for granted, and always, always say I love you, because you never know when you will have your last moment with them.

And I cried, and cried and cried. I know some of the other women were crying.  Someone gave me tissues, and I got a couple hugs.  It just amazed me that these good Christian women forgot the two most important things.  How could you forget those? They are so vital to a good marriage.  I know that first hand. I am so thankful that Barry died knowing I loved him.  One thing I wish though, is that I could tell him one last time that I loved him.  I did get to say my goodbyes, and I did tell him I loved him as they were doing CPR and I know he heard me, but just to say it to his face as he looks me would make me so happy.  My memories of that morning are foggy because of everything that went on, and I know I told him I loved him when he was still alive, because we ALWAYS were telling each other we loved each other, I just wish I could remember.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Feels Like It's Been Forever

I was thinking this morning that I couldn't remember the last time I blogged, I didn't realize it had only been two weeks ago.  I guess this is what happens when life goes on, right? I tend to forget that I have to blog, that I even have a blog really.

Nothing much new is going on, though we are well into the Christmas season already.  I did buy that new tree like I said I would, and I am SO happy with it.  It was a breeze to put up, took all of 10 minutes.  I still have the old tree in my garage, and I am pretty sure that will be going to Goodwill this week along with another truck full of stuff.  I am finally ready to let go of some things, one of them being the tree and the other being Barry's fridge that he had in his truck.  They are just taking up space in my garage, so it is time to say goodbye to them.  What purpose do they serve anyway but gathering dust? Someone else can use them.

I can't remember if I have blogged about what we are doing for Christmas, so if I have, please forgive me. I don't have the energy...or should I say I am too lazy, to go back and see if I did already. The kids and I will be having Christmas at our house on the evening of the 23d, and then going to my hometown to spend Christmas with my family.  I really have a lot of mixed emotions on this, because I really wanted us to spend our first Christmas here in this house, here.  But I do believe it is more important for us to be around family right now anyway.  Perhaps next year will be different.  We'll be spending Christmas Eve at my mom's house, and then Christmas Day at my Dad's place.  Then the next day my brother and I will pack up the kids, and head back here for a couple days, and he'll take the Amtrak back.  We haven't seen him in a year, since last Christmas, so it will be nice to have him at my house too for awhile and he can spend some much needed time with the kids.  They love their Uncle, so it will be nice for them too.

Quite honestly, I am just not ready to tackle this major holiday on my own without family around.  I can't do it yet.  It's still too raw and painful, and being alone with out anyone but me and the kids would just bring so much attention to who is missing.  At least if we are with family we can be distracted, and have fun.  That doesn't change that I will still miss Barry, and think of him all day long, but we at least will still be able to have a fun day without too much sadness.  I hope.  Last year was the worst Christmas ever, and I don't ever want to experience that again.

My plans for mine and Barry's anniversary have started to take form too, but I haven't quite decided yet what the kids and I will do.  I am pretty sure I will be taking them to Barry's favorite restaurant, the Chinese Buffet he loved so much.  We loved it as a family actually, and haven't been there in months.  Since his birthday in march I think.  I guess I'll be buying him an anniversary card too.  It amazes me that this year would mark our 11th wedding anniversary.  Unbelievable. Time flows by so quickly, doesn't it? Just 12 years ago today I was a young girl of 18 and had no idea that I would soon be meeting the guy I was to marry in a yahoo chat room, and marry him just a year later.  What a difference 12 years makes.

Well, it's the last day of the weekend, and I need to go load up my Honda Pilot with goodwill items, and clean this house.  I will write again soon, I've just been pretty busy being mommy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dear Barry

Hi Honey,

I was thinking of you this morning, and wanted to write you a letter.

It's Sunday morning, I have strep throat and I feel like shit.  I went to the drop in clinic yesterday with a 102.3 Fever, and I am now on antibiotics.  It started snowing off and on this morning, the last time we had snow this early I think was back in 07 or 08.  None of it has stuck yet, but you should have heard the kids scream with joy when I told them to look out the window.

I think I am going to head out to Costco later, because I have to pick up thanksgiving stuff for this week for when Maegen and Colin come over.  I think you'd like Colin.  Maegen really does, and they make such a cute couple.  She's happy with him, and I know you would be happy for her :) They are coming for Thanksgiving weekend :)  I am buying a new tree this year, and we're going to be putting up on Black Friday with Maegen and Colin. But this time....I'm getting one that is pre-lit.  None of that "putting lights on the branches" nonsense for me anymore haha.

I have some AWESOME news for you darling.  On November 18th, Bernd and Tanja finally had their babies.  David and Bianca.  I know they tried for so many years to get pregnant, and they are our oldest friends, so I just had to share the news with you.  I can't wait to see pictures of them, I bet they are just precious.

And some of the most exciting news I have for you, is that I got to see Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 last night, in IMAX!!! Oh baby, it was amazing.  I actually just started reading the book again, so I could refresh my memory.  I got a little teary eyed at a couple times, and thought of you.  I wish you could have been there with me, because we got to see Order of The Phoenix and The Half Blood Prince together in 07 and 09.  It just seemed wrong seeing one of the movies without you.  I wish you could have been able to see the last two.

We had a bit of a really weird thing happen last week.  Athena refused to go into the living room by the TV, and was barking really shrill like.  She was on edge and just refused to go in there, but kept looking in that direction and had a really defensive stance.  I'm thinking you were here with us, because Braddock and the cats were just fine.  They know you, Athena does not.  It was a bit unnerving to say the least, and I went in the living room where she would not stand, and then she barked, and I got goosebumps.  I wasn't scared, but I am positive you were there with us.  Was it you? Thank you for watching over us darling.

I just wanted to say hi, tell you that I love you, that I miss you.

Love forever,
Me
xoxoxp

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stress

I don't know what to write.

I'm busy being mom, mommy, mama, widow, Joanna, "wife" ?, and all else that entails who I am.

I haven't noticed how it happened, but it seems stress has crept into my life again without my knowing.  I've been having tension headaches in my jaw and facial area.  Quite honestly, I think I am clenching my teeth without realizing it. The headaches aren't THAT bad, but there is tension in my jaws, my face and the back of my head. I probably do it when I am sleeping.  It happens at random times during the day too.

I did have all four of my wisdom teeth removed in March, so I am hoping it has nothing to do with that.  I don't think so, as the tension has just started happening in the last few weeks.

Obviously something is bothering me, and I'm sure its just grief...as always.

I miss Barry, but I am so busy most of the time, I don't have time to think about him.

Actually, I FORGOT about the 10th.  Can you believe that? I didn't remember until it yesterday when it hit me that the anniversary date had actually passed.  I've almost forgotten a couple of times, but have remembered during the day.  I am shocked at myself.  How could I forget that? I am not upset about it, just in awe that I could actually forget such an important day.

I really don't feel like writing at the moment. I need a hot shower, I need to get dressed, I need to get out of the house.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Florida Re-Cap: Part Two

Guess its time I get on this eh? I can't forget to write about the trip as we came back TWO weeks ago!!! I can't believe its already been two weeks, time goes by so incredibly fast.

We packed SO much into that trip, and thankfully I had the foresight to bring a pedometer with me.  A couple of the days we walked 10 miles.  yes. 10 miles.  I had sore feet most days, and put the kids to work giving me foot massages.

Day two was October 8th, so E's 8th birthday!! That day we went to Epcot, and walked. walked. walked. and walked some more.  It wasn't quite the traditional birthday for her, but seeing as we're going with that trend the last two years, we may as well keep up with it I guess.

Now, if you haven't been to Epcot, you don't know how big it is.  It's massive, like bigger than all the lands in Magic Kingdom massive.  There are two "worlds", Future World and the World Showcase.  We started off in Future world where we did a character meet and greet with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy.  That took up quite a bit of time, as we had autographs and what not to get as well.

After that, it was time to haul ass over to Epcot's "Norway", as we had lunch reservations at Akershus to have lunch with the Disney Princesses as a special treat for E's birthday.  We were early, so we did a bit of poking around Norway, rode Malestrom (really lame boat ride), and found a cute little gift shop.  I was in heaven here, because they had my IKEA COOKIES!!!! haha.  I stock up on those cookies every time the kids and I head to Ikea (an hour north of us), and we hadn't had them in awhile, so I forked over a few bucks for that.

Lunch with the Princesses was a lot of fun, albeit very expensive.  We got a ton of food, and I had mentioned to them before hand when were being seated, that it was E's birthday.  After lunch, they gave her a special birthday cupcake and we all sang Happy Birthday to her.  The food at Akershus wasn't too bad I suppose, I enjoyed it, but the kids didn't love it too much.  We were there more to meet the Princesses anyway, and we did! Part of the package is getting photos taken, so when we were ushered in, we had personal photos taken with Belle.  They treated us well there, as we got a family photo package (8x10, 4 4x6), AND E got a photo pkg with just her and Belle (same amount of photos as I just mentioned).   During the lunch, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel came around to the tables (they staggered the princesses, so each princess went to each table), and did autographs and pictures with the kids.  I have a ton of pictures.  I really enjoyed this part, as seeing the kids' face light up with each new princess was priceless.  They got to actually talk to and personally interact with them, not like normal meet and greets.  The princesses interact with the kids, talk to them, take pictures....that alone is worth the cost of the lunch.

After  lunch, I'm pretty sure we went all the way around World Showcase. For some reason my memory of that part of the day is foggy, I should ask the kids.  Honestly, Epcot World Showcase was pretty boring for the most part. We didn't see any of the "shows" inside the countries, but just looked around, took pictures etc etc.  My favorite was Germany, as was the kids' I think, because they got their Giant Gummy Bears.  Which are disgusting by the way.  Now, normally I love gummy bears, but these tasted like pure crap.  I liked Canada, but I was very disappointed how my home country was represented. Tres Boring! The shop had smarties and wunderbars, and I so wanted to, but I wasnt about to spend $3+ dollars for a box of smarties.  We went to the UK section and met Pooh and Tigger!!  That was really fun, as they're pretty much our favorite characters.  We also saw "The British Invasion" perform a few Beatles songs, and they were pretty awesome!

Sugar Ray was supposed to be performing at Epcot that day, but we didn't stay because it was packed due to it being the Food and Wine expo.  After seeing all the countries, we did some of the other stuff in Future World.  We did LOVE Spaceship Earth, we rode that a couple times.  It was awesome.  We missed Soarin' and Test Track (more on that another day) though, but did most of everything else.  We did NOT stay for the fireworks. I was bummed out about that, but at Epcot you NEED to get a good seat, and I was not in the position with four kids by myself, to sit and hold our spot for almost two hours.  So we left after dinner and went back to the hotel.

That was a long tiring day, one of our most tiring actually, and I can't remember the little details about it.  My feet were positively aching by the time I sat down on my bed in the hotel.   Next ReCap, I'll cover October 9th (Animal Kingdom), the 10th, and the 11th.  I don't think I could possibly write about all that now, there is just so much to say and remember.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Things I Wish

I just thought I'd share a list of some things I've been wishing had turned out differently, or will happen, or that I wish I had etc etc.  Nothing in particular order, I just didn't feel like writing a long drawn-out blog post about it.
  • I wish Barry had been here to teach M how to tie a Tie, he had to go to the neighbors house and my girlfriend's husband did it for him for his Harry Potter Costume.
  • I wish I had more patience 
  • I wish Athena would stop jumping up against the glass door to come inside
  • I wish I was more self-sustainable, and had things like a garden, or the means to can more food.
  • I wish I wasn't such a perfectionist
  • I wish I didn't yell so much
  • I wish I could handle being a single mom better than I currently am
  • Tonight I wished it was A on her daddy's shoulders while Trick or Treating instead of Charlie's (whom I mentioned up above)
  • I wish I had the courage to start my book, but I don't know how to start it. Or what angle to take.
  • I wish I was back in Florida
  • I wish I had a husband or something close to that
  • I wish I didn't have to sleep alone each night.
  • I wish I had more support
  • I wish life was easier
  • I wish Dish Network would get their shit together and fix their slow ass website and phone system
  • I wish I was able to resist sweets and exercise more! I would have lost all the weight by now if I did. I want to lose 50-60lbs more
  • I wish I could relax enough to read again. I have only read one whole book since Barry died. I used to read all the time before he did.
  • Oh one more thing...I wish Dish Network didn't outsource.  What happened to good old Americans? Why do I have to talk to someone from a foreign country who calls me YO-ANNA.  My name is JOANNA for fucks sake.
That's it for today. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Letting Go And Moving On

The last few months I have been pondering letting go of some items I have around the house that have ties to Barry, and the life we lived together.
  • Our bed frame that we bought when we were first married
  • Our Christmas Tree
  • The Roses from the arrangements that my friend Lisa made for me for his memorial service
And that just names a few of them, well, the items that are weighing most heavily on my mind.

Our Christmas Tree we bought when the twins were just 10 months old.  It is 7.5 feet tall, 5 feet wide at the base and is just huge. It has lived in 6 houses, this one being the sixth. It has been set up for 9 Christmases, and held many years of ornaments.  Has had hundreds of Christmas gifts under it.  Has been piled with candy canes, and cursed at for being difficult to put up. Barry even made us a diagram after Christmas 2008 so we would remember how to do it.  You'd think after so many years we would remember, but we did not.  But now it is leaning a bit to the side.  The box was so torn up and taped up, that last year I bought a bag for it. I have to string the lights myself and it is a very tedious job.  So this year I am getting a new tree, with pre-strung lights.

But what do I do with the old tree? Do I keep it in the bag its in for years down the road? When Barry and I bought it, he said we'd get the biggest tree possible so that we wouldn't have to buy another one for YEARS. He picked it out.  So have 9 years been enough? Should I make this the 10th year it is up?

I feel like change is needed.  I want a new tree, and will buy one, but I just don't know what to do with the old one. I feel wrong getting rid of it.  But I don't want it to clutter up my garage.  I'm all about streamlining lately, and have been getting the urge to declutter and purge again.

Now I have the roses from Barry's memorial service, dried, in my closet.  Why have I kept them? I dried them all, and they sit in a basket out of sight.  I don't want them anymore.  I have no use for them.  But to throw them away would, again, make me feel guilty.  Almost like I don't respect him anymore, that I don't value the memory of that day.

Lastly is our bed frame. This I struggle getting rid of the most. We actually bought an entire bedroom set, and had matching dressers and a nightstand to go with it, which I gave to Habitat for Humanity before I moved. This was our wedding gift to each other. But the bed frame, that is special.  That is the baby making bed, where our family was started.  That bed has seen love, anger, sadness, fighting, laughing, lots of sex and making love.  It has seen everything.  And the night after Barry died, I laid in it, and woke up crying in my sleep at 5 AM.  It was the foundation of our marriage almost, and I have it in my garage right now, leaning against the wall.  I knew when I moved that I would keep it.  But here I am, almost seven months later and I don't want it anymore.  It is taking up space.  What the hell do I do with it?

Does all this mean I am moving on with my life? I don't want to "lose" Barry, so to speak.  I want to hold onto him forever.  But I can not keep all this "clutter" in my life.  Quite honestly, it stresses me out because I see more stuff taking up space.  And I do not want clutter.  I hate clutter. Yet with four children, it is nearly impossible to not have clutter, but I do my best.  And throw away crap I see lying around.  Anyway, I don't want to disrespect him.  I feel bad for wanting to get rid of all of it, especially the bed.  Its just though I don't need it anymore, I won't ever have a use for it unless one of the kids wants it when they move out of the house.  So do I hold onto it for another 10+ years? Hell no! But then there is just that tie to the bed, the one place I last laid with Barry, where I heard him snore and wanted to suffocate him, where we loved each other, and cuddled, and made love and had sex and laughed and fought.  There is so much to that bed.

I know these things don't represent him, our memories of him are in our hearts and our minds, but there are still things that he touched, things he fixed.  Hell, we were going to get rid of the whole bedroom set if we had moved to Pennsylvania anyway! I just feel like its so special now, that how could I possibly get rid of it?

I just don't know what to do.  I want it, yet I don't want it.  I need to move on, and I am afraid these things are holding me back from doing so.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Florida Re-Cap: Part One

Well, I know everyone and their dog is dying to hear about our trip, so I will start telling you about it in a very detailed fashion haha.

Tuesday October 5th is the day we left Seattle for Orlando.  We got up that morning at our normal time, I sent the kid off to school and brought the pets to the kennel.  I felt so bad leaving them for two weeks, but it turns out, they did extremely well. Yaay!! A went to school that afternoon, while I got our carry-on bags ready and showered and got myself ready.  Kids came home and then we went and got A from school, and headed out for an early dinner at 4PM.  We were home for a couple hours before the shuttle came, and about 6:20 she called me to tell me she was on her way.  Well, guess what? E lost one of her tennis shoes.  We about had a panic attack looking for it, and I thought I was going to blow my top lol.  We found it right as our driver came, and then got on the road.  Made excellent time to the airport, and got through security.  By the way, security with 4 kids...an absolute PAIN IN THE ASS.  One thing I absolutely HATE with a passion.

Our flight didn't leave Seattle till 10:45, so we ate at Wendy's, looked around the airport again and settled in at our gate.  Finally got on the plane and drugged my kid with benadryl.  It worked pretty well, they slept for a few hours or so.  I didn't get much sleep, but I did doze and sleep lightly. Finally we got into Orlando at about 7:15Am Eastern time and got on the Disney Magical Express to our resort, the Polynesian.  Our luggage wasn't due to arrive right away, so the kids and I settled into our room to wait till Disney delivered it.  Once it came, we went swimming, had lunch and tried to relax for a bit.  We hadn't slept really since the plane, and the night before in our own beds.  The kids had other plans, and we went to the Magic Kingdom the first day!! we spent a few hours the Magic Kingdom on the 6th, and our first ride was Space Mountain! Wow, I forgot how scary it was haha.  We really enjoyed our time there, and went back to the hotel later to sleep.  We had been up for almost 40 hours at that point, including the time we slept on the plane. The kids sure were troopers!

The real highlight of the day was seeing an old friend that afternoon that I hadn't seen since Barry and I lived in Germany. He was Barry's CSM while we were stationed in Germany. I knew he was in Orlando, so I told him we'd be there (we're face book friends), and he actually brought me some groceries.  We had fruit, water bottles, crackers, chips, granola bars, oatmeal for breakfast, and a few other things.  Angel was a lifesaver! It was so nice to see him again.  He wrote in Barry's memory book for me too, which I loved, and the kids can read when they are older.  We made plans to see him later in the week when we had more time.

October 7th was our first full day in Disney World, and we got up EARLY to be at the Magic Kingdom at 8am. There were extra magic hours! That's where the park opens up an hour early for resort guests.  We had an awesome day!!! We did Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, all the rest of Frontier Land and then did Tomorrow Land.  We also hit up Adventure Land, which houses the Jungle Cruise, the Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin's magic carpets etc etc.  We did a good half of the park that day.

One of the highlights from the day was after Splash Mountain, I went to look at our pictures, and was chatting with the lady behind the counter.  Mentioned to her why we were there, and she gave me our pictures for free, along with $10 worth of snacks too.  Wow.  She was such a sweetheart.  We also got to meet Princess Tiana, who is A's favorite.  Seeing her face light up just made my heart smile.  I took so many pictures of that.

During one of our snack breaks, I looked across the "road" and saw a familiar face.  One of the families from the kids' old school was at Disney World the same time as we were.  How funny! The mom volunteered at the school a lot, so I saw her there quite often.  She recognized me so we chatted for a bit.  Of all places, who'd have thought we'd see each other there?

Later that day we went swimming in the hotel pool, where I enjoyed a mango margarita pool side and the kids swam.  A did all the rides that day, we had little to no waits (Fast Pass is AMAZING), and our favorite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  It was the perfect start to our vacation!!

more soon :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We're Back!

I apologize for my absence and lack of writing.

While I thought I would have all the time in the world to blog while we were in Florida, i did not have much time at all.  We were so busy.

We had a wonderful vacation.

two weeks in hot, sunny, Florida.

Walt Disney World, NASA, Gatorland, Cocoa Beach.

Putting my feet in the Atlantic Ocean was one of my highlights, as was seeing Eric, who was Barry's squad Sgt when he was in the Army years ago.

Spending a day with an old friend, and dinner with another who has promised to come visit us next summer from Tampa.

I am tired and exhausted.  I took over 2000 photos.  Probably spent that much money on souvenirs, food, etc etc.

The kids are back in school, tomorrow will be our first normal week back. Back to routines, to schedules, to normalcy.  To rain.

Waking up Thursday morning to a wall of fog outside my window was monumentally depressing, as Wednesday morning I woke up to sun.  Left Orlando and it was 90F outside.  Got home late Wednesday night and it was 60F inside my house.

We've spent the weekend adjusting.  I promise to write more.  soon.

But I am tired, and emotional. Missing Barry so much right now.  Today I took a scalding hot shower and sat on the seat in the shower with the water cascading above me.

The water was so hot it was scalding.  But it felt good as I cried buckets into my hands.

I was sad because I was told I needed to lose more weight.  Yes I know that. But almost 90lbs in one year is pretty fucking amazing.  And even more sad because I know the size I am now Barry would be a total horn dog teenage boy with me. He wouldn't be able to keep his hands off me. But to everyone else I am still fat.

I need to go catch up on Glee from while I was gone, and then off to bed early for me.  I do promise to write soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Year Ago

Ok, let's face it.  Obviously I am in no mood to write right now, or I would have done sooner. Especially since I am leaving this to the last minute, it being 11:30 at night here in Florida.

First things first, we made it into Orlando on time and safely on wednesday morning.  We were able to check into our room early, and have been going full steam since then.  We're having a great time!  Wednesday when we got here, we went swimming in the afternoon, and then had dinner and headed to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours.  Thursday we got up early and went there all day.  We covered half of the park, and went back to the hotel.  Friday we spent at Epcot, and did most everything except Soarin' and Test Track, and Club Cool.  Saturday brought us to Animal Kingdom, where we did everything again, except for the Lion King show which the kids did not want to see. And today the kids and I slept in, ate lunch, went swimming, and back to Epcot for a couple hours.  Missed all three things I mentioned above, but we will hit those up Tuesday early morning.  Tomorrow we are off to Hollywood studios!

Today I felt like a horrible wife and mother, and still feel a bit guilty.  I had plans to do a balloon release with the kids, and also light a candle for Barry that I brought a long, but I forgot to do both of them.  We've been so busy that it completely slipped my mind. So tomorrow, albeit a day late, we will do both.  I dont think Barry would mind, because he would want, no INSIST, that we go out and have fun and not be sad.  And we are, depsite sore feet and being exhausted.

I was remarking on facebook today how different my life is no than it was a year ago.   A year ago today, I woke up in my old house, in my old bed, with a husband very much alive and ready to come home in a few days. I had no idea he would die.  Today I woke up in a strange bed, in FLORIDA, in a Walt Disney World Resort.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this to happen, ever. But I have to say, that NONE of this is at all possible without Barry. I  could not do it without him.  All of what we have now is possible because of him.

I've passed the one year mark.  This year has flown by so incredibly fast.  I remember thinking to myself shortly after he died how I never thought I would get to this point.  How far away it seemed.  Yet, here I am.  Still Standing.  A few more grey hairs.  80+ lbs less on my body.  A new house, a new vehicle, MANY many new friends.  And yes, its all a little hard to stomach sometimes.  I'd love to have my old life back.  I know I will never get that though, so its pointless to even dream or think about it too much because it really NEVER will happen, ever.

So now I have to start the 2nd year, and I hope it will be easier.  I was scared for today, I'd been psyching myself up for it because it is such a HUGE milestone.  Perhaps life will get easier for me.  I can only wish.  I miss Barry so much sometimes, wish he was here to love, to talk to, to just be with, and laugh at stupid fart jokes.

This post may seem disjointed, I forced myself to write it.  Not realy feeling it today, which I know is my sub concious trying to avoid everything.  I'm in total vacation mode and want to get back to doing that.  So with that I will end this post.  I wish I had had more to say about Barry, but I just dont want to talk about him. Not to be disrespectful or anything, but I just do not want to right now.  I'm afraid it will make my vacation too sad.  I don't know....

I'm starting to nod off writing this and need to hit "publish post" before midnight.  Otherwise I'll really feel like a failure if it doesn't post on the 10th.

Barry, I love you.  I miss you, and I know you're happy for us for this vacation.  I'm sorry i forgot to light the candle and let the balloons go, but you'd be happy knowing we're off living our life instead of being too sad.  We all miss you and love you.  I'll see you in my dreams darling.  xoxoxoxop

Monday, October 04, 2010

October 4th 2009 VS October 4th 2010...Stark Differences

I don't think I can even begin to compare the two days.

Today, a year ago, was the last day that the three older kids saw their daddy alive (the baby came to the hospital with me the next day for a few minutes and was able to see Barry).

The day started off normally, it was a Sunday, and we were all excited Barry was coming home for his usual week off.  I knew he was sick though, but strangely, went about my day as normally as I could, cleaning up and getting the house ready for him.  I already knew there was a possibility of him going to the hospital, but he had said he'd drive himself.

Around 6PM that evening, he rolled in the driveway.  Told us all to stay on the deck as he did not want the kids to get sick.  I walked up to the truck, and he said he had to go to the hospital right away.  I immediately got on the phone with Sara (who already knew she may have to come over), and she was over within 10 minutes.  Thankfully she lived right up the road (and still does) and came right over.

Barry waved at the kids from inside his truck, got out and climbed into the van.  That was the last time the three older kids ever saw him alive.  I drove him to the hospital, never knowing that the next time I would take him home would be in an urn. We got to the ER, and waited a good 3 hours or so.  I don't remember exactly.  It was quite awhile.

I helped him get undressed,and into a gown.  I carefully folded his t-shirt, his shorts, and placed them in a bag along with his tennis shoes.  I stuffed his can of chew into his shoe too, where it remains to this day.  His last can of chew.  Did I take his glasses then too? I can't remember honestly. I think I may have, but I am not entire sure if he had them on or not.

He was being seen by a doctor at this time already, and as it was nearing midnight, I decided to leave, and said I would come back in the morning.  We had been told already he would be admitted.  They knew he had pneumonia at this time.  I said my goodbyes, told him I loved him, and walked out of the hospital.

My last view of him that night was being wheeled down the hall in his bed to the XRay room.

I miss him so much.  I have trouble believing he was a real person.  It is hard to fully explain that feeling, because yes, he was alive and in my life for a long time, but he's not here anymore.  He is dead.  Perhaps it is my coping mechanism that makes me think this way, process my thoughts and memories this way, so that it is easier to go on day by day.  It truly is like a dream when I think of him.  At times a very vivid dream, and at other times, I can't quite grasp that memory.

And now today, I am blown away by the stark differences to just 365 days ago.

I am sitting here at my desk, in my new house, with one more pet that Barry didn't get to meet sniffling around me. Athena is looking for breakfast scraps the kids dropped on the floor, she's 6.5 moths old now.

I have suitcases behind me waiting to be packed full of extra stuff like toiletries, snacks, and a few last clothing items.

I am going to Walt Disney World tomorrow with my children.  I have a million things to do today, laundry, packing, running a few errands, packing the pets' food to to go the kennel. Finish up my laundry and pack it into my suitcase, call the shuttle and confirm etc etc etc.

This really is a true testament to how life goes on.  Yes, Barry died a horrible tragic death last year, and we miss him terribly every day, but life has gone on.  It is inevitable.  And he would have wanted that.  Insisted and demanded more like it.  He wouldn't want me to sit and mope and just let life pass me by, so I am taking the bull by the horns and taking the kids on our first REAL family vacation.  I am sad that Barry was never able to enjoy one with us, and this is a first for the kids as it is their first time on a plane, but without him this would not have been possible.

Now to get my day started, I do have a million things to do, and I leave tomorrow evening! Better get a fire lit under my ass!

I love you sexy man, and I think of you often.  Thank you for being the best man I ever knew, for sacrificing so much, for working so hard.  I love you and miss you so much.

Monday, September 27, 2010

13 More Days

If you haven't been through an emotional trauma like I have, you probably don't know how your body reacts to it.

After Barry passed, I ate...but I didn't really eat.  I didn't snack, I ate my small meals, I didn't get pleasure out of eating. I lost a LOT of weight in the first couple months, it was literally pouring off of me.  I've kept up with the weight loss since then, very slowly albeit, but I've managed to lose about 80lbs since a year ago.

Now that the one year anniversary is a mere 13 days away, it finally hit me this morning that my body is going through the same thing. Food is starting to lose its appeal to me, and I am losing the desire to eat. I get hungry, but nothing is appetizing to me at all. I know I am hungry right now, and I had a yoplait light yogurt for breakfast, but that's all I can stomach. I just don't want to eat.  So I drink water.

                     *disclaimer* yes I still eat, but i only eat because I have to, not because I want to. I don't eat a lot.

For quite some time after Barry died, food had no taste to me.  I ate so much yogurt because it was the only thing I could stomach. Everything tasted like sand.  Food is starting to taste like sand again.

I am very angry right now, and a bucket of tears.  I think I have cried every day since the beginning of the month.  I feel like my life is in a jumble, a snake pit...everything writhing around and you cant tell where something begins and ends.  Plus, add in the chaos of getting ready for our trip, and that just makes a whole big hot mess.

Tonight starts our next grief support group, and I am so looking forward to it.  Despite the fact that it takes up 4 hours of my monday nights twice a month, I love it. I get to be with people that have been what I have been through.  I need this support.

We leave for Florida in a mere eight days. Next Tuesday night we will be getting on a plane and escaping life for two weeks. I can not wait.  I hope that this vacation is a break for us, that I will get somewhat of a chance to recharge (yes, I know I said recharge and I am going to Florida by myself for two weeks with four kids, but it WILL be a good vacation), and get a grasp on my life.  I can sit by the pool and read while the kids play.  I can ride space mountain. I can eat a smoked turkey leg.  I can have a beer in Epcot Germany in remembrance of my darling husband.  I can go to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade village in Universal Orlando and remark to the kids how much their daddy would have loved it, how in his element he would have been. I will put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean, I will go to Nasa and stare in awe. And I will have a good time, I will get a tan, and I will come back wishing I could stay forever.

I need this vacation, I need to get away from my snake pit of a life.  I need to be happy, if just for two weeks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Running!!!

So, I may have mentioned in my last blog post that I was going to take up running.  I did day one on September 13th, the day A started Pre-K.

I have kept up with it, and this week started my second week.  Day one I completed yesterday.  The running was upped 30 seconds each time, so it was a bit of an adjustment.  I know I will get used to it though.  And I am LOVING it!! I love running.

It exhausts me, it makes me sweat, it makes me breathe heavy, it makes me sore, it makes me want to give up, but I keep plodding away as my feet hit the pavement. It is so hard sometimes to keep pushing myself, to make myself keep going just a little further till I hear that familiar bell on the iPod touch telling me it is time to walk again.  But the fact of the matter is, I still do it, and I still push myself.

I have lost 10lbs since I started running.  Yes, you read that right, 10 pounds in a week.  I haven't changed too much of my eating habits, but I have cut out a lot of sweets.  Ok, I take that back, last night I ate a huge king size snickers bar, and at the Mariners game last Friday I pigged out on hot tamales, and had McDonald's for dinner.  But seeing as I rarely buy candy bars, I figured it was ok.  A treat once in awhile is ok, and as long as I don't keep them in the house, I'm not tempted to eat them.

Yesterday at my MOPS group, one of my good friends Angela commented that she didn't even recognize me.  She hasn't seen me since the beginning of june, so I guess I changed even over the summer.  WOW!! (Angela  was not at the hospital when Barry died, but came to the house that afternoon, and she lives an hour away, and cooked us all dinner, staying for hours along with a few other girlfriends of mine.  She helped orchestrate a lot of the meals we got through my MOPS group, helped with food at the funeral etc etc.  She was wonderful and I'll forever love her for that).

I am absolutely loving the fact that this weight is pouring off of me.  It makes me want to work harder.  I was looking at a picture of myself the other day, and I was amazed how different I look compared to a year ago.  Perhaps I will share that one day...I look like a completely different person.  I was reflecting on that, and thinking how much Barry would just love how I looked right now.  He loved me at this size...he wouldn't be able to keep his hands off me ;) (now, and years ago when I was this size before I gained all the weight).  I wish Barry could enjoy this new body of mine.  I do know that he can see me, and is still around though, because I saw an orb hovering over me in a picture I took the other night.  It was plain as the nose on my face, just sitting there above my left shoulder.

Speaking of seeing the orbs...I really am not so sure how I feel about that. It makes me so happy to know that he is still around, and gives me a sense of comfort knowing he is watching over us.  But on the other hand, it makes me sad.  That being because he is STILL here, and I can't see, feel, or hear him.  Am I supposed to be content knowing that he is?  I wonder if he is shaking his head at me, all this new stuff I am doing, all the new experiences we are having.  Would he be happy I bought the house? Bought a new 2011 Honda Pilot? He'd probably tell me to stop sitting around and "go clean his house" lol.  Either way, I guess it is a big comfort knowing he is sticking around.  He always did say he would come back to haunt me.  And that he did, but in a good way.  Just wait, I'll now have some really creepy experience to blog about soon because I jinxed myself haha.

Two weeks from today, I will be in Florida.  We leave in 13 days!!! So with that, I say goodbye today, because I have a million things to do.  No running today, as my shins are a bit sore and I don't want to over-do it (I'll probably hit the elliptical later).  Errands, errands and more errands today. Plus...I NEED to start packing.

I am sure you're all wondering...yes, I am taking the lap top with me to Florida.  I've figured out how to tether my blackberry to my laptop so I will have internet access to blog.  Speaking of that...tell me WHY in 2010 do hotels not have WiFi? Especially at Disney World? WHY????????

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post 700!!!

Well, I couldn't really think of a better title than that.  I need to celebrate 700 posts on this blog! WooHoo!!

I've been asked recently when I was going to post again, and my first thought was "I don't know, I don't really feel like writing".  But maybe I need to, I think so at least. Writing helps me deal with my feelings, and it is so beneficial to get those out on "paper".

I'm doing a bit better since my last post, but I'm still dealing with a lot of those emotions that I mentioned, being frustrated and angry at couples, and bitter at my situation.  It has passed for the most part. I still haven't called the counselor.  Not on purpose, but because I have been so pre-occupied right lately.  You'll also notice that on the 10th, I purposely did NOT post.  I did not want to post.  I didn't want to be reminded that Barry had been dead for 11 months.  I find it so hard to believe that it has been that long already.  How different my life is this September, compared to last year when Barry was still healthy at this time.  He got sick shortly after though, I remember him being sick for a couple weeks.  You know what the sad thing is, I was really worried about him.  I was scared for him.  I had a bad feeling, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  I was afraid he would die, and I told him that.  I was very scared, but why was I so worried? It was just the flu, or so we thought.  He assured me that if he thought he was going to die, that he would go to the hospital. And then he came home to go to the hospital.  Unfortunately, my intuition was right.

Enough with the sad crap though, I need to update on our lives here! September 8th the kids all started school.  Because we moved back in April, the kids were starting at a new school.  So it really has been a year of changes for us, new house, new neighborhood, new lives, new school, new friends.  They are adjusting well, and making new friends and love their new school.  We do miss our friends at the old school, but the good thing for us is that we are still in the same area we were before, so all their friends are still close and no further driving distance (we moved down the street).

Yesterday was A's first day of pre-k.  She dressed herself, and was so very excited to go to school.  Her first day went great, she is making friends already and the parents are very friendly from what I've seen so far.  I'm very happy with the school I chose.  She will go four days a week in the afternoons from 1-4. It is a nice break for me, I get a little time to myself to re-charge.  She was so proud of herself yesterday morning before we left.  I told her how proud Daddy would be of her, and how big of a hug he would give her. She said to me "how am I supposed to hug him?", and I told her to hug her heart.

We all talk about Barry often, it has started getting easier.  Just the other day at dinner, we were joking and laughing about some of the silly stuff he would do.  Yes, it is still hard to believe he is gone.  Even after almost a year, I still have trouble accepting the fact.  We all miss him so much, and that will never change. But talking about him is getting easier.

My big news is that I started running.  I think I may have mentioned that before, feeling the need to have the adrenaline release.  I just want to feel my feet pounding the pavement.  About a week or so ago, I purchased the C25K app for my iPod touch, which is the Couch To 5K program.  I don't know how far I ran yesterday (my plan is to do it while A is in school) , but it was a 31 minute program.  The app staggers running for a minute and walking for 90 seconds.  I thought I was going to pass out at some times, but I DID IT! I completed the first day without stopping or giving up.  I was hot, sweaty, and exhausted afterwards. I am so proud of me.  I actually did it!!! I will do running day 2 tomorrow, and I'm already looking forward to it. I'll have to take two weeks off the program while we are in Florida, but with all the walking we'll be doing I'm sure we'll be ok.

Speaking of Florida...we leave in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS!!!!! We are so incredibly excited.  The kids are really gearing up for the trip, and I've started to get us ready.  I'll probably start packing soon too.  Yes, I know it is early, but with 5 people going away for two weeks I need to be prepared. I also need to get the pet's stuff ready for the kennel.  I do plan on taking the lap top with me, so I will do my very best to blog while we are there.  I know the one year anniversary will pass while we are there, and I want to write that day, but I will probably do a pre

On October 10th, I am not sure what we will be doing as a family. I think we may get some balloons and each write a special message to Barry on them, and release them.  Does anyone have any other good ideas?

Well, it is time to get my day started.  I'll try to write more often, but the next few weeks are incredibly busy for me...harass me if I'm not writing enough.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Angry, Bitter, Pissed Off, Weepy, Jealous, Infuriated

That title explains some of my emotions over the last week or so.

I've been so angry lately, just full of raw emotions that my week has been a whirlwind.  I don't know what set me off last weekend, I suppose it was a number of things, but its continued to multiply all week until last night was the breaking point for me.

This is all part of the grief cycle, I know that, but when it hit me so hard, I was completely taken aback by the rush of emotion I felt.

The big issue for me right now is my anger at being a single mom, my bitterness at seeing couples together.  And especially at women who take their husbands for granted.  And for part of last night too, I was very angry at Barry for leaving me.  I really feel like I am hitting the anger stage in my grief cycle.  I'm angry at everyone around me for having what I do not. I've been struggling with all of these this whole past week and I just can't seem to get over it. Today is the first good day I've had in awhile.  I suppose that is due to the complete break down I had yesterday afternoon.

I was at a local wildlife park with the kids, and we were having a wonderful day together.  We ate out, we had ice cream, we saw bears and cougars, foxes, wolves, moose, bison, elk, owls, etc etc, and just really enjoyed ourselves.  But then I started noticing all these couples together and started to get really sad. I missed Barry so much.  And I was ANGRY.  and JEALOUS.  I will be completely honest and say I abhor seeing couples together.  It makes me want to poke them with hot rusty sticks, or else scratch my eyes out. Yep, that's pretty graphic, but its true.  I'm so bitter about my situation, I hate being  a single mom. I hate seeing women take their men for granted because I would gladly take one in a heartbeat.

As soon as we got back in the truck to get home, I started getting weepy.  It didn't stop, it was like a slow leak.  We stopped at Safeway because we had almost no food in the house, shopped for an hour, got home and got the groceries inside.  And then the waterworks started. I just started crying and crying and crying.  Thankfully the kids were outside for that.  I was just a fucking mess. I had tears pouring off my face.  And having no tissue handy at that moment, I resorted to using a dish towel to blow my nose on several times.

I knew I had to have company last night, so I texted Jason. And he was busy.  I called Rebecca, which I felt really guilty about because her husband just got back from Iraq a few days ago, but she didn't answer her phone either (which I can understand).  I called Lani, who answered thankfully and listened to me sob, and then promised to come over and drink with me later.  I managed to calm down a bit enough to feed the kids dinner, but I was still a weepy, tear leaking mess.  As soon as the kids went to bed, the water works started again.  At 10PM I was just sobbing in the kitchen.  again. But then Lani never showed up, and never answered her phone either this morning when I called. So I was depressed, drinking and alone last night when I desperately needed company.  My saving grace was a very dear twitter friend of mine who shall remain nameless, whom I also talk to on bbm (blackberry messenger) a lot. We were able to talk for quite some time over bbm late, last night and I was able to catch my breath, calm down, and even laugh a bit.  I really really needed that, so if you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yesterday I probably cried or leaked tears for almost 7 hours if not more. I also cried a lot over the last week and a half. I think I've cried buckets worth. By the time I was done, my head was pounding, I had drank a bit (which I know did not help), and my face was red. I also cried off about three coats of waterproof mascara.  Yes, three coats.  That's a hell of a lot of crying you know.   And today I feel much better. I needed that release.  The only way I've been able to keep that from happening is to block everything out of my mind.  To forget, and just go about my daily life.  I think that it is time to stop that though, because when I block things out, the dam will burst like it did.  It is the only way I know how to function though most of the time.

I'm still sad, I'm still bitter and angry, jealous and infuriated.  But this whole week has made me realize that I am ready to go see a counselor.  I was not ready before, but I am now.  I am ready to talk to someone.  I'm glad about that because we are almost at the one  year mark....wow really? One year.  That amazes me.

PS...today the older girls are at a birthday party.  Last year this same day they were at the same girls birthday party.  Barry was home.  The weather was the same as today, cloudy and a little cool.  After he and I dropped the girls off at their friend's house, we took M and A to Burger King for lunch.  That's all I remember about this day last year.  He had two more days at home with us then, before he went back to work.  That was one of his last times at home.  I miss him so much.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eleven Years Ago Today

This week has been pretty hard.  Grief is like that though, it comes in waves, and sometimes you get hit by a giant tsunami, and other times just a little wake. I'm not quite sure where I am this week, don't know how to classify how I'm feeling, but it hasn't been an easy week.

Yesterday for the first time in ages, I was sobbing into Barry's t-shirt, my tears soaking the cotton as I tried to calm down but could not. That was the last t-shirt he ever wore, for those of you who don't know. I've never washed it, and I don't think I ever will.

I've also noticed that my attitude has been pretty damn shitty lately. I've been a bit of a cranky bitch to everyone.  Though that could be due to having my period at the same time, but I know that grief is a big factor in my attitude right now.  I tend to get that way before certain days, and not even realize it till the day is upon us, or has already passed.  Even today I just HAD to be out of the house, had to be gone, had to be busy doing everything and anything.

11 years ago today, Barry and I met for the very first time in person, and it was also the day he proposed to me!  At this point in our relationship, I was living in Edmonton AB, and he was in Wiesbaden Germany, stationed there in the Army.  I was visiting my mom in Abbotsford, BC, and he his mom in Port Angeles, WA.  We both agreed to meet in Victoria BC and spend the day together.

I don't remember what time I arrived in Victoria that morning, but it was pretty early on in the day.  I took the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, and the greyhound to downtown Victoria from the ferry terminal.  I was so incredibly nervous to finally meet him after talking for 9 months.  And the funny thing is, I had never seen a picture of him.  Never! he did send me one once, but it was lost in the mail.  But I was so in love with this man that I knew even if he was hideous, I would still say yes if he asked me to marry him.

As I sat there on a bench in front of The Empress Hotel, I kept glancing across the Victoria harbor waiting for Barry's ferry to arrive.  I waited, and waited, and waited. And then I saw a young man walking down the road.  And I knew it was him. My heart knew it was him. He crossed the street, walked up the path to the front of the hotel, and as I stood up, shoved his military ID card in my face so I would know it was him.  That was a mere moment, as we then hugged and hugged and hugged. Finally, we met.  We had gone through so much to meet that day, and it was finally happening.

We spent the rest of that day together, sightseeing around Victoria and just spending time together.  Towards the end of the day, we landed up in the Rose Garden in front of the hotel.  We were laying there in the grass, and I was getting impatient because Barry hadn't proposed to me yet.  He had told me before we met that he was going to propose to me, and I had waited all day.  We were basically engaged already, just had to make it official.  So, my spunky self finally asked Barry if he was going to ask me to marry him.  I told him I was tired of waiting! LOL  and shortly after that he asked me to stand up, and he got down on one knee.

Holding my hands in his, Barry told me I made him the happiest man on earth, and he wanted to make me the happiest woman on earth (the only two things I remember that he said haha).  And then he asked me to marry him.  And i said yes.

We parted ways shortly after that, unfortunately, as we only had one day together.  And then we both went back to our lives, he  to Germany, and I to Edmonton.  And then 3.5 months later, on December 29th, 1999, we were married in Wiesbaden, Germany.  The day we were married, was the 15th day we spent together in person.  Yes, you read that correctly, we only spent two weeks together  in person before we were married.

The day we got engaged was one of the best days of my life.  I met the man of my dreams, and got engaged in the very same day!  Not many women can say that can they? I truly was a lucky woman to find such a man like Barry.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Always Close To My Heart

I wanted to share about a pendant I had made this week.

Back in January, a lady in my Grief Works group showed me one she had made, and I fell in love with it.  I wrote down the name of the shop, with all the best intentions to go there and have one made too, but kept forgetting about it. Occasionally I would happen upon the paper that had the shop name on it, but then it would slip my mind again, and I'd go about my life forgetting about it.

This week, all four children have had half day camp at our local children's museum, which is downtown in our city.  Monday morning after I had a coffee date with one of my twitter friends, I decided to explore for the last hour that I had before having to pick up the children.  I wandered down the street, and saw this cute shop I wanted to look in.  I fell in love with the items in there, and picked out a few things to purchase for Christmas gifts.  Then out of the corner of my eye, I happened to see a pendant.

I gasped, and asked the owner if this was the store I thought it was.  He replied yes, and I started to cry a little as I explained to him what had happened.  It was fate that I walked into that store on Monday, and I was just so happy that I had finally found it and could get my pendant made.

I picked it up yesterday morning after the kids were done camp. I opened the box slowly, peeled back the tissue paper, and gasped as I saw the pendant laying there on the cotton padding.



Isn't it just gorgeous? 

I remarked to the owner that it was just beautiful. I absolutely LOVE it. The inside circle is about the size of a quarter.  The color is cobalt blue, and its made out of hand blown Pyrex glass.  Its shaped like a bowl, so it's not flat on the bottom.  The back has a star burst design of white, blue and red colors, so the pendant is versatile and can be worn both ways.

The reason I wanted to write about the pendant is because it is very special to me.  Do you see those silver swirls inside? Do you know what those are?

They are a small portion of Barry's ashes.

What makes these pendants so special is that the artist (coincidentally he is also the owner) has developed a special technique for being able to put  these in the pendant as he blows the glass and shapes it. It is not advertised, only done by word of mouth, and  he makes them a priority, which is how I had it back within one day.  

Monday night, I had the very humbling task of putting some of Barry's ashes into a little vial that was provided by the artist. I was somewhat scared to do that, but it turned out to be OK.  I opened up the bag of extra ashes I had, shook it around a bit to separate the bits of bones and ash, and scooped them into the vial as best as I could. My finger tips were covered in ash, as I held Barry in my hands again.  The first time I touched him since I said goodbye to his dead body in the hospital.

I cried a little as I put the ashes into the vial. And then glanced at my finger tips and wondered to myself , "I have Barry's ashes on my hands, what do I do now? Do I wash my hands, do I rub them off on my clothes, what do I do?  But I did wash them.  I washed his ashes off my hands, and down the drain they went amidst a cascade of soap and water.  

Just the act of touching the ashes was extremely humbling. But the reality is, those ashes aren't him.  They are his physical body, but not his essence. It represents him, but it is not how we remember him. Our memories are how we keep him close to us, and not by keeping the ashes around.  However, I can always hold him close to my heart now as I wear this pendant. 

I love it. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guess I Should Post Today

Today was 10 months ago that Barry died.

I don't remember what I was doing 10 months ago exactly.  It was all a blur to me, and remembering what I did to pass that first evening that Barry was dead is to much work.  I'm sure my mind has just blocked it out, because I remember certain things like having a glass of wine with my mom and sister the next night, and crying myself to sleep each night, and also waking up at 5AM on October 11th, crying my eyes out in my sleep.

Today I experienced something sad that I wished I could have shared with Barry.  Two and a half years ago, we put our first, and only home we owned together, on the market, because we could no longer afford it.  We landed up selling it a few months later, and moved to the house I just moved out of in April.  We loved that house so much, it broke my heart to have to sell it, but we had no choice but to sell.

On our way to dentist appointments in the same town today, I though we would stop by the old house and take a peek.  I had a friend of mine that had never seen it, so I thought we'd show the house and where we used to live.  I haven't driven by there in quite some time, so imagine my surprise when we noticed the house was abandoned.  Abandoned.  The yard was filled with three foot high brown grass, debris everywhere.  The backyard was even worse, it being an acre at least, and so much junk filled it.  We looked in the windows, and were greeted to sights of garbage in the house, old nasty furniture, and just general mess.  This house that we loved so much, was foreclosed on by the people that bought it from us.  Apparently, they left their dog there too, and my old neighbors landed up taking her in as their own.

The things that we loved so much about that house were just ruined. My old neighbor Shirley told me they took a gorgeous house (which was when we had it) and turned it into a crappy fixer upper. It broke my heart seeing it like that, because it was a beautiful home when we owned it.  I'm sad for that house, and I have half a mind to go buy it, but I won't be.  It's not worth it because we've closed that chapter in our lives, and the memories we have in that house would be too painful to relive.  Christmases, birthdays, taking A home from the hospital to that house, the wood stove that Barry loved so much, our 400sq foot master bedroom, my custom oak cabinets in the kitchen.  I wish I could have told Barry about all this, and I knew he would figuratively "roll over in his grave", if he knew.

I don't have much else to write.  I filled up the day without even realizing it, and didn't even realize it was the 10th until 11:30 this morning.  I can't believe I forgot.


P.S...I did get a new car on July 23d.  I landed up purchasing a Silver 2011 Honda Pilot.  I'm absolutely in LOVE with it.  It's fantastic and gorgeous and gets pretty good gas mileage.  I drove it off the lot with 9 miles on it!! I just LOVE it ;)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Barry

Dearest Barry,

Hi baby. I haven't written you in a long time, and I feel this intense urge to do so today.  I should have done it last night, but I was so tired from our day in Seattle, that I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I think if I had, I would be feeling much better right now rather than having woken up in a funky mood.

While we were in Seattle all day, I saw so many things that reminded me of you.  I was with a friend and the kids, and I had trouble holding back the tears on the way home.  I just couldn't cry, I wouldn't let myself.  We were at this one shop, and guess what I found???? A decal (well, a metal one) of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!! I just laughed and laughed at that one, and bought it! I'm going to put it on the new car (more about that in a bit).  I just love it, but when I was looking at it, and buying it, I was desperately wanting to tell you about it.  Sometimes I have these moments where I just want to pick up the phone and call you, and tell you something about my day, or something funny that you and I would get.  I know you would get a kick out of that.  I wonder what people will think when they see it on the van. I also went to your favorite German store there, the Bavarian Delicatessen in the market.  The last time I was there was with you...and oh I missed you walking into there.  I picked up some Waffeln (ALL MINE mwuhahahaha) and some Pfefferminz Ritter Sport, because those were what you sent me back when we were engaged.  I saw the curry ketchup you liked, and almost bought it, but didn't, because you always liked it more than I. I got some amazing Rye bread too, that you would have loved, and had it this morning toasted with some cheese.  I almost bought some pumpernickel, but passed on that.  It all reminded me of when we'd go to Aldi in Mainz, and get the bread, cheese, all that wonderful food we'd have in our apartment.

Friday I turned 30.  I missed you that day.  I missed my giant birthday cake. I really really missed you honey. Maegen and Katie were here, and we went out for an awesome dinner, and then went to some bars downtown. Me in a bar? Can you believe it? I drank, and had fun, and danced.  It was a great way to ring in my 30s. My 20s were with you, but what will my 30s bring?

I'm buying a new vehicle. After you died, and the van was paid off b/c we were wise to get life insurance on it, things started going wrong with it.  And now the struts need replaced...and only on one side, but that's $500 right there.  Plus the "intake manifold gasket" needs replaced as well, and I just don't feel like shelling out $1200 just for repairs. I've put so much money into it the last 7 months and I'm TIRED of it. I don't want to do it anymore.  Jesse (my mechanic at Midas) told me that its getting to the point where Fords become money pits, and the van has almost 100K miles on it. I need something practical for the kids and I that wont break down so much, or give me a fear of it breaking down, and I will be going the SUV way.  I'm not doing the "swagger waggon" thing anymore haha.  I'm not sure yet if I will trade it in, or sell it outright, but I should get a fair amount for it because it has brand new tires and brand new brakes. Anyway...I just wanted to tell you that I'm getting something new, and I am pretty excited about it!!!

Honestly, it kind of boggles my mind to have all this new stuff.  New house, new body, new clothes, new car, new everything. It's surreal to have all this without you here.  I know you'd be happy for me, and hopefully you trust my judgement enough to know I am doing what I feel is best for the kids and I.  I'm doing as best as I can without you darling, but it is so hard.

Next week the kids and I are headed up to BC for our annual trip to BC.  This time without you. I'm so happy you were able to go last year with us, and we have those memories of our trip to Canada.  It won't be the same without you Barry, but I suppose we have to get used to it because you won't ever be coming back.  Now I'm going to have to go to Karl's and get stroop waffles without you, and not share the droopjies with you, and all that other stuff we loved doing. I miss you so much Barry, I would give anything to have you here with us.

Well, the sun is shining and I need to do some weeding outside before the garden is overrun.  I'll talk to you soon darling.  I love you!

Love,
Me
xoxoxoxp

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

I'm 30 Today!!! An Old Maid if you want to refer to me as that! LOL

I don't want to write too much, as I have a busy day ahead of me.  I'm on my way to go buy a Tiara to wear out to dinner and to the bar tonight! I have friends coming to dinner, and my sister, a friend and I are going bar hopping tonight. I plan to enter my 30s in style! And probably throwing up in my kitchen sink later tonight.
Yes, I have a babysitter, and we are taking a cab. I am somewhat responsible.

I wrote a whole big birthday post yesterday, so I really don't want to delve into all those emotions again today.  But what I do want to do is post my birthday song.  This is so incredibly special to me, because it was played last year on my birthday by Barry.  Little did we know it would be the last birthday he celebrated with me. I copied the text I wrote on face book, because I don't even want to have to re-write it.


My Birthday Song courtesy of Barry. Last year we were on our way to BC on my 29th Birthday, and had to stop at the bank to take out some cash on our way there. I was PISSED at him b/c I thought I had forgotten my makeup bag at the house and he wouldn't let me go back to the house to get it (even though we were less than 10 min away). He told me to just buy new makeup when we got to Canada, and of course I was NOT happy b/c I wanted my own stuff.  We got to the bank, and even though he had told me not to dig through the suitcases, I waited for him to go inside, and then tore through them looking for my makeup bag.  I found it, but never told him.  I pretended to be mad still when he got back to the van from being inside.  When we were pulling out of the bank parking lot, he looks at me...puts this song on and starts singing and making fun. I couldn't help but not be mad anymore. That was his way, he always tried to make me laugh.  And now I have this awesome memory of him on my last bday with him



Dearest Barry, thank you for making that birthday so incredibly special, even though you never knew it would be my last birthday with you.  I will always have special memories of that day, and thank you for giving me that lasting gift.  I miss you, and will always love you more than words can express.  You'll always be my Sexy Man ;)

Love forever,
me xoxoxp



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Comparing Today to Last Year

Today I am celebrating my last day of being 29, my last day in my 20s.  Without Barry.

Last year, on this day, we were preparing to go to Canada the very next day.  Barry was getting mad because the lawn was so long, and had to go to Lowes to get new lawn mower blades and a socket set.  I was packing for our upcoming trip, and it was super hot outside.  He was a little cranky, I remember that, because I had let the grass get too long while he was gone. haha.

And today, life is so incredibly different.  I'm a single mom.  I'm on my very last day of being 29.  I weigh 78lbs less than I did a year ago. I've got vodka and tequila in the freezer in preparation for my sister and a friend and I to drink! lol  I'm sitting inside while my kids are outside playing in the sun, taking a break from cleaning because I'm going to have company all weekend.  Trying to figure out what I will be wearing tomorrow night when we go out for dinner and to the bar.

One year ago today I NEVER could never have fathomed this day.  I think if someone had told me how different life would be today compared to last year, I would have laughed hysterically.  Last year Barry and I were concerned with telling my family we were moving to Pennsylvania.  RIGHT NOW I'm supposed to be in Pennsylvania, or moving there, not being here in Washington still wondering why I'm having to celebrate my 29th birthday without my husband. Sorry, my DEAD husband.  Sometimes I still have trouble believing he is dead.  Really? he's DEAD? what do you mean? it just doesn't seem possible.  I can't accept it, and I don't think I ever will.  I may move on, I will fall in love again, and I will probably get remarried one day, but I will never accept the fact that he died.  It's just not fair, it's not supposed to happen. I don't understand why he is dead.  Why is he dead?

To sum up the last 10 years, I still don't think how I could even fathom this day compared to 10 years ago.  On my 20th birthday, Barry and I were just barely married, I was pregnant with the twins, and we were at a flea market in Germany.  Life has changed so much in ten years, I can't even begin to imagine what the next 10 years are going to bring me.  In 10 years, I met the man of my dreams, I lived in so many houses, in 2 different countries and continents, I moved all over WA state. I weathered many financial ups and downs with Barry, supported him through many job changes, bought and sold our first house.  Got pregnant and gave birth to 4 wonderful children.  Loved Barry with all my heart, and watched him die in front of my eyes, screamed and yelled at the doctors that this wasn't real, that I wasn't a widow.  That I was too young to be a widow.  And I became a single mom. A widow.

I hope that the next 10 years of my life are better, happier.  I've heard that the 30s are better than the 20s.   I don't know how much more heartbreak I can take. This is a big step for me, as was New Years eve.  Now I'm not only starting a new decade without him, but a whole new age. My 20s will be my years with Barry, but what will my 30s be?  I know it will be a good decade for me. I just know it.  In the next ten years, we will face even more life changes... V, M and E will graduate high school and leave the house. I will have a job, and hopefully be a best selling author.  I hope I will be remarried and in love with the man of my dreams.  I hope the next 10 years are good.    But I know that if I want them to be good, i have to do my very best to make them so.

**********
Dinner reservations are made for tomorrow night, I have some special people coming to help me celebrate my birthday over dinner, and then my sister, our friend and I are going bar hopping.  Kind of funny, but just now my special birthday song came on as I was listening to iTunes.  I'll try write about that tomorrow.

Happy Birthday To Me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Intuitive VS Instrumental Grieving

This topic was brought up last night at our first summer grief support meeting.

The kids and I started going to a new one that was run by the organization that put on their summer camp.  I thought it would be a great way to continue with some of their camp relationships, and also help us again deal with the loss of Barry.  We are attending two groups this summer; one here in town, and this other one.  I haven't yet decided if we will go to this new one come fall, as it is a half hour drive (on a good day w/ no traffic), and it doesn't get out till 8PM at night.  I'm not too sure I can handle that on school nights.  We'll have to see how well it goes. So far I like the group a LOT, as this one actually serves me too, and not just the kids.

So...  Intuitive VS Instrumental grief

I'm right down the middle.

Intuitive is  dealing with your grief by getting quiet time, thinking, talking with others, writing (ME) and such things like that.  I find it very therapeutic to write sometimes, like I am doing right now.  It helps me process my feelings about Barry's death by getting them out and in the open.  As my friend Jason said, I have this knack to make people feel my emotions.  I'm very good at articulating and expressing myself with these words I am typing.  Talking also really helps me, which is where my girlfriend Christy comes in.  She is also a fellow widow, and we discuss it quite often.  It  helps to have that sounding board, well, one that knows exactly what I am going through even though we grieve differently.

Exploring the Instrumental grieving process was really eye opening for me, as I realized I am really like this a lot too. This is when you do activities that keep you busy, help get rid of adrenaline/aggression, distract you.  For me, this is a prime example of me wanting to go to the range to shoot Barry's guns (which I'll be doing soon with Jason I think), and keeping extremely busy to keep my mind off things.  I've also had this incredible urge to start running! I really think this will help me too, as I am literally craving the feeling of my feet pounding the pavement.  I am starting in the fall when the kids go back to school, and I really can't wait to do it.  I think to some people that instrumental grieving might seem like a bit of a cop out, but it really isn't.  It helps to keep busy so you are distracted, and not dwelling on things.  In some ways, I think I sway  more to this side than the other, which is funny considering I never thought I'd be this type of person before Barry died.  I am always busy it seems.  I don't like to keep still.  We are always going somewhere, or doing something.  For example, yesterday we started the week with our grief support last night, today the dog had a  Vet appt, and we had dentist appointments all afternoon.  Tomorrow the kids and I are headed to a neighboring city to do a bit of shopping, and look at bikes and possibly go to the beach.  Thursday we have another grief support meeting.  Friday is my dirty thirty party, Saturday I am going out with my good friend Greg, Sunday we will find something to do, and next Monday again I will be at Midas and headed to the grief group again.  We have something every day, and I crave that.  I need that.

What is important to remember though, is that everyone grieves differently.  Even in families, every person is an individual and grieves differently.  My son M is intuitive with his grief, he is very quiet with his grief, likes to write letters to his dad and so forth.  I haven't quite figured out the other kids, but we're a pretty good mix of both I think.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Realization

I realized recently that Barry will always stay young, while I will always get old.

When you get married, you're supposed to grow old together, die together (or close in age together), and sit on your front porch watching your grandchildren play outside together.  It isn't supposed to be like this, where one stays the same age forever, and the other ages as any normal person would.

Barry is going to stay forever as this young man of 29.  We will be able to look at his photos, and see him from birth to 29, but never more.  And I find that hard to believe, because he will always be daddy, Barry, my husband.  He'll forever be those, but he wont age like us.  I'm older than him now, which is incredibly surreal to me.  I'll be turning 30 in 5 days. He never reached his 30th birthday.  Can I liken it to a vampire? LOL  That's why vampires can never visit their families years down the road, because they look the same as the day they died.  Can you tell I've just finished reading the last Sookie Stackhouse book? "Dead In The Family"? LOL

What's going to happen is that for now, I will get older.  I'll get more grey hair, I'll get more wrinkles, and I will age.  I will eventually look older than Barry, and I don't like that.  And then the kids will start to age, and eventually they will look older than their daddy, and they in turn will get wrinkles and grey hair.  We'll always be older than him, and I can't fathom that, because he was supposed to be here forever.

How will it feel when I am an old woman of 80, and I look at a picture, into the eyes of my 50 years ago deceased husband? Will I still feel the same way I do now about him? Or will it be like looking into a dream, hardly believing he even existed? I guess it is hard to fathom, and will be even then, because in reality, we only spent 11 years together.  11 years is a blink of an eye, when you consider a whole lifetime.  I've also wondered if I am going to get Alzheimer's like my Great Oma did, and perhaps talk about Barry like he is still around, and like I am still the 29 year old I was when he passed.

I wish I could freeze time. Just freeze it right now where I am. I could stay the same age, Barry will always stay the same age, and the kids will too.  That way I don't have to face the realization that I will get old, and he will not.

And I think this is also why I am so apathetic about my upcoming 30th birthday on the 16th. I don't want to get old. I don't want to age.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nine Months In

It's Thursday night, almost 10PM, on July 8th, and I started to write this post early.  I have so many thoughts going through my head right now about what life was like 9 months ago.

Nine months ago today (Thursday), Barry was taken off the ventilator.  Coincidentally, it was also a Thursday.  It was also our daughter E's 7th Birthday that day.  Tomorrow, 9 months ago, will have been the day I didn't want to go visit Barry because he was so cranky from the sedation, but went anyway because my mom told me I would regret it if I didn't.  Nine months ago tomorrow, will also mark 9 months that I had got my long awaited sewing machine that I just can't bare to open yet.  I don't know why, but I just can't do it. I look at it every day, but the box sits unopened in my office area.

I've thought about something else a lot too, and that thought is...is my life better without Barry?  That is a very hard question for me to answer, because I can argue both sides.  Is my life better without him? If I want to argue the "No" side, it would be because he is gone. No, life is not better, because he is no longer with us.  He is gone, and I am a single mom with four children to raise on my own.  No, because I miss him terribly, and I cry for him, and he's not here for me to talk to.  He's not here to help me raise the kids, to love us, to be with us.  He's GONE. And life simply is not better because of that.

But if I were to say Yes, life is better because he is gone, I would feel guilty for answering that way.  But honestly, I can say that some aspects of life are better because he is gone. First off, I have lost weight. I know that I wouldn't have really lost the weight if he was still here.  I may have tried and tried, but I would have given up just as many times.  But now, I really have lost weight.  I've lost about 75lbs!  I also have a house now.  We didn't know when we would ever own again, and now we have a (possibly) forever home thanks to him.  I also have so many more friends now.  The vast majority of these friends came into my life after Barry died, and they in a sense have become part of my family.  Rebecca, Jason, Greg, Christy and so many others.  I wouldn't have met these wonderful people if Barry was still around.  They have helped somewhat to fill the void that Barry left.

There are so many different answers to these two questions, I can't just pin it down.  9 months ago I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be where I am today.  9 months ago I was in a hospital room with my husband, expecting him to come home the following Monday. Now 9 months in, I'm a widow, I have a house, I'm financially secure, I'm thinner, I have more friends, and I miss my husband.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

I came in this afternoon from shooting some pics with my Canon Rebel, and sat down at the computer to look through the pictures that I shot.  While waiting for the pics to upload, I logged onto face book to change my profile picture.  I was scrolling through my profile pictures, looking for a photo to use as my new one, when I came across one of the few photos I have of Barry on there.  And I started to get a little teary eyed.

I looked into his beautiful blue eyes and missed him.  I miss him.

We have settled so well into our new life here in our new house.  Almost too well I think.  I don't think about him all the time.  Is that bad? I just find myself so pre-occupied with everything else that is going on, that I forget him.  Don't get me wrong, I do think of him every single day, but not like I used to.  It's hard to explain I guess.  He's not here, so it's easy to go about day to day life without him. But then days like today happen, we get a little memory, and we're sad.  That is OK though.  I can't remember many things with him. I can, but he is fuzzy to me.  I have mentioned this before, but he really is like a dream.  Doesn't seem real.  Like I dreamed the last 11 years of him.   Did you know that this December 18th will mark 12 years ago that I met him? 12 years ago.  It seems a lifetime ago.

 On Father's Day, the kids and I went to Build A Bear, and made teddy bears with his ashes in them.  Maybe I shouldn't say ashes, because they were more than ashes.  Maybe its a little morbid to share this, but cremated remains have chunks of bone in them.  So we made teddy bears with his cremated remains, full of his chunks of bone.  Gross eh? haha I just have to laugh b/c I had to explain that to the kids.  Anyway, I had extra ashes after the cremation, and took to the funeral home to have them put in canisters for us.  I still have extra ashes even after that! We each put a canister in our Barry Bears, and after all was said and done, the kids were shaking them, because we could hear the ashes inside.  I jokingly said to V that if she kept shaking "daddy", she was going to give him brain damage, and she looked at me and said "No Mommy, I'm going to give him Ash damage". LOL  We all cracked up over that.  I know Barry would appreciate us laughing at things like that.  But I also cried that day too, when I was getting my Barry Bear's heart ready to put inside him (if you've done build a bear, you know what they do with the little stuffed heart that goes in the bear).  Since that day, my Barry Bear has sat on my desk.  Just looking at me.  But the other night, he came to bed with me as I was sad and tired.  I cried myself to sleep with "Barry" in my arms.  It felt good to hold him, what little bit I could, in my arms again.

I looked through pictures of him as a child the other day.  It amazes me how much our children look like their daddy.  The boy is exactly like him, exactly....except he is tall and skinny, whereas Barry was tall and stocky. And A has the exact same scrunched up faces that Barry made as a child in his photos.  E and V also look just like him in some of the pictures.  It might be a certain look on their face, or his in a photo, or just a smirk I see, the way they do something or laugh.  But he truly lives on through these four beautiful children we made.  How am I going to handle it when M is a teenager and looking just like his daddy? Will that make it harder for me to see his face every day?  Or will it be a blessing to be able to see Barry through our son? I have wondered this so many times.

Now being that it is the 4th of July, I have to dry my tears, pull myself together, and go bbq some hot dogs for the kids and I.  Fireworks tonight!!!