Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dear Barry

Dear Barry,

Well it's time again for me to write you another letter. I've been missing you a lot lately, so I wanted to write you to give you a heads up on our lives back here at home.

Almost everything is done with the house! I'm just waiting on them to do a bit of painting, and fix a few minor flaws. They're also going to install a sump pump because we had a few water issues after all the rain. The fridge has yet to be delivered, but they have till closing to do that, and then the blinds have to be installed. I picked wood composite blinds instead of the wood ones like we had in Shelton. I went that route because the slats were bigger, haha, and picked the same color we had in Shelton too. I'm really happy with my choices and can't wait to see it installed.

I have pretty much bought all the furniture too! All that is left to get is a new desk, some storage units for the girls, the piano and some random minor kitchen things like new dishes. When I went to go pick out the furniture, I had all these ideas in my mind of what I wanted to get. In fact, it was more along the lines of what we would have picked together. Barry, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't. I did everything completely opposite of what we would have done, but I LOVE the color scheme I picked out, and every piece I picked out was painstakingly agonized over. Almost everything in that house will be new, furniture wise that is. We're keeping the table that you and M built even though it doesn't match my new cabinets, simply because you both built it together. Moving day should be April 2nd, and the furniture and mattresses are being delivered on the 30th, 31st and 3d.

Guess what I did the other night? I went to a movie by myself!!! I had Marni come over and babysit the kids, and I went to the theater. Guess what movie I saw? THE WOLFMAN!!! Bwahahahahaha. Remember when we saw the preview last summer? I don't remember if it was when we saw Harry Potter or Inglourious Basterds, but when I saw the preview, I remember leaning over to you and excitedly whispering "Let's go see that!!!, it looks awesome!!", but you REFUSED. You adamantly refused and I laughed. I still wanted to go see it though. And it was awesome, such a great movie. I thoroughly enjoyed going to a movie by myself, and I think I will do it often. I thought of you as I was watching the movie, and knew you would have been scared shit less hahaha, or run out like a screaming little girl. Kevin and I had a good laugh about it on facebook too. You and your fear of Werewolves...such an unexpected fear from such a big tough guy ;o) One of the many quirks about you that I loved....loved making fun of!

I read "The Road"! I really enjoyed it actually. It was a fantastic book...you were right about that. I am looking forward to seeing the movie. I also finished reading "The Lost Symbol", and I was very disappointed with the ending. "The Bible"? ugh what a cop out! I don't remember what your thoughts were on the book, but I hated the ending.

I put all your pictures away. I just can't look at you no matter how much I want to. It hurts me too much to see your handsome face, and blue blue eyes staring out at me. You're like a dream to me. Though we spent 11 years together, that life we had together, it doesn't seem real. Looking at pictures hurts my heart, reminds me of a life I once had and can never have again. I'm not ready to look at you yet, and I thought I was. I hope you can understand, I'm just not ready honey. I just can't. I still love you, and I always will.

I still don't think I've accepted the fact that you're gone. Yes, I know you are, but it still doesn't seem real to me. How is that possible? I need to go see a counselor, but I am waiting till after we move. I'm having separation anxiety, and struggling so very very much with not being able to talk to you every day. Yes, we're almost five months in, and I am still having trouble with it.

Barry, I'm scared to move without you. I'm scared to leave this house that we lived in with you. I sometimes wonder if I should have waited to move us, but whats done is done. I'm hoping that moving will help us move on a bit. The kids are doing so much better than I am...they're used to you being gone because that's all they knew. I'm used to you being gone, but I'm not used to your voice not being in my ear. I need a fresh start to help me heal, I don't think I can heal living in this house with constant reminders of you everywhere I turn. Everything has a touch of you. Everything from the blue dishes we bought at the PX, to "The Dragon", to the couch, to your pillow between my knees each night.

My throat is getting tight, and my eyes are squinting to keep the tears in as I write this. I don't want to cry right now, so I am going to end this now.

I'll love you forever and always,

Love,
Me

xoxoxoxoxp

P.S....think of me tomorrow as I get my Wisdom teeth taken out. I'm a little scared, so I'm being put out completely. I wish you were there to help me with everything, but I am so thankful for Sara and Monica who are going to help me out.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I CAN Do It MYSELF

I know I've been promising this post for awhile. I don't have time to write it, but I'm making time.

Through ten years of marriage, I became quite dependant on Barry. He was always the one I relied on, we always discussed major decisions and I probably was a bit too dependent. I know that now, and I knew that then too, but oh well, it was me! That was me for the longest time, and now I've had to forge a new me.

This new me has been FORCED to become independent. There is no one else to rely on but myself. And I hate it. I despise it. I abhor being the responsible one. I dislike having to make all the major decisions. I hate this aspect of widowhood with a passion. I have made so many decisions in the last almost 5 months that I have become overwhelmed.

To add insult to injury, many things have gone wrong too, which just adds to me having to do things on my own. Like with my van. In the last couple weeks, I've had an alignment done, the door actuators fixed, an oil change, the tires rotated, and now replaced, brakes fixed, a radiator leak fixed, and the rear bumper replaced because someone hit me. I've grown tired of seeing my friends at Midas. Today should be the last day, my tires are getting replaced as the tread on them is pretty low. But, the van has had those tires since before we bought it three years ago, so I suppose its time to do it anyway.

But you know, I CAN do it all by MYSELF. I dont like it, but I can and am doing it. I've bought a house on my own too! I've handled all the van repairs on my own. I've filled out countless forms for life insurance and death certificates. I planned the funeral and wrote the obituary (with some help I might add) and even spoke at Barry's funeral by myself.

I've also outfitted an entire house by myself. This house stuff though has been the most stressful I think. Just the simple act of purchasing furniture has had my head spinning in all different directions. On tuesday at the furniture store, I really started to shut down towards the end. I couldn't do it anymore. I was able to pick out furniture for my living room, my bedroom, and the great room. But I spent a good 4 hours in the Macy's store! That's all done though, finally. Wednesday afternoon I went to another store and picked out my book shelves and TV stand, and a clock. I could feel myself shutting down again though, so I decided enough was enough and left. Tomorrow the kids and I are going back there to pick out V and E's beds and dressers, and A's dresser, and my computer desk. After that, we will head to Sleep Country to get mine and V and E's mattresses. I still have to get minor things like dishes and some decor items, but the major stuff is done...except for a Piano. That can wait. Today I even picked out all my blinds for the new house, by MYSELF. I didn't even have my Realtor help, haha. I made all the decisions with the vendor, by MYSELF. Can I share a secret though? if I could, I would have hired an interior decorator/design person to do it all for me.

I can pack an entire house by myself. I can move into a new house by myself. I can pick out furniture and bedding and all that by myself. I can handle van repairs by myself. I can de-clutter a house by myself. I can make all the important decisions, like the kids changing schools, and where A will go to pre-school by myself. I can decide that it's not a good idea for us to go to DC/PA, but that it is a good idea for us to go to Disneyland, by myself. And I can go to a movie tonight by myself...first time for everything, right?

I have often found myself wondering what would Barry think of all this? Would he like the decisions I've made, would he like what I have picked out? But then I have to remind myself that while I value his opinion, he's dead. He's not here anymore, and I can't constantly base my decisions on what he would have done. I'm alone now, and though he's with me in my heart, and in my mind, he's not here in person for me to rely on. I can't ask him what he thinks of this piece of furniture, or that one, or what bed to get the girls, what tires I should get on the van, I've had to do it by myself. It's a bit freeing though, to be completely honest, knowing that I CAN pick and choose what I want and not worry if he would like it or not. I had all these ideas of what I wanted to buy for my new house, the colors and all that stuff too, and when I went to pick it out, I went completely opposite of what I had in mind. It's so different from what we would have picked out together, but I think that's good in a way. Most of our stuff is being replaced, but the one piece I am keeping in the house, which doesn't even match my new kitchen all that well, is the table and chairs we bought a year ago. He and M put it together, and while it doesn't match my cabinets, that doesn't matter...he put it together. His hands pieced it together with the help of our son, and it will stay in my kitchen as our family table for a very long time.

Barry would be proud of me, proud of all the decisions I've made on my own. He would say "I knew you could do it Joanna, and I am so proud of you! I always told you you could do it on your own, you never needed me to make all the decisions".

I'll tell you though, I am amazed that I have done it all by myself. I've wanted to crawl into a ball and rock myself sometimes due to all the stress, but I haven't. I will keep on keepin' on, and get through this. Things will settle down eventually, the stress will dissipate and I will continue to do things on my own. I will develop a stronger skin, I will become even more independent than I already am, and I will get through it.

One day at a time, I can do it by myself.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Year of Memories February 24th 1999

I am reluctantly writing tonight. My heart just isn't into it, but I committed to writing all the "A Year of Memories" posts, so I can't go back on it now.

I dont even remember much about this day at all. I couldn't tell you what time of day it was, what I was wearing, or anything else about that day. All I remember is being in a private yahoo chat with Barry. This was before we had even met in person! We had known each other for only two months, and had been talking online and over the phone for those past couple months. I don't remember the conversation either....all I remember are the four words that I saw typed on the screen.

"Will you marry me?"

Of course my answer was a resounding YES!!!

We were stupid kids...really, who proposes in a yahoo chat room? We chuckled about it over the years. That was not the last time Barry proposed to me though, and that last time almost didn't happen. I will share that memory in April actually, as that is when Barry broke my heart.

I'm still working on my "I can do it by Myself" post, but haven't had much time to really develop it and think it through. It's in the works though, and will be coming soon. Life has not allowed much down time, and when I do get downtime, I just sit like a bum and do nothing because I am always go go go during the day. I am hoping things settle down sometime soon, but I have a feeling they won't be until after we move.

Speaking of moving, my furniture shopping is coming along quite nicely! I have amassed a beautiful living room set, my bedroom set, my formal living room set, a TV stand and a shelving unit that I absolutely fell in love with. All that is left to buy for furniture is the older two girls' bedroom set, mattresses for them and myself, a new computer desk, and some bar stools. Oh, and a Piano. Today I purchased the shelving unit and the TV stand, and we will do probably the rest of it on Saturday morning. I would love to show pictures, but I am going to wait until everything is all put together and unpacked.

Moving is projected for Easter weekend! or the weekend before, not quite sure yet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Overwhelmed Doesn't Even Begin to Explain

Whew! I have so much going on in my life right now that I feel like my head is spinning in a million different directions, ala Regan from The Exorcist.

On a side note, I have to share a story about The Exorcist that has haunted me to this day, even 10 years later! When Barry and I were first married and living in the barracks, he had me watch The Exorcist with him. Well, let me say...TRIED to get me to watch it with him. I think I lasted to the part where Regan levitates in the corner, and then I was adamant that he turn it off. I couldn't watch it anymore. A couple months later when we were in our first apartment, he somehow managed to convince me to watch it with him again. Why Oh Why did I do that? I think I laid on the couch, my head in his lap, and my face covering my face and hands most of the movie. I was HORRIFIED. The movie has haunted me to this day, and Barry milked it for all he could. He'd constantly tease me with Regan voices..."GIVE US TIME" lol He'd find scary videos on you tube and lure me into watching them. All the time, for 10 years. If he were still alive, he'd be doing it now still. It makes me laugh, because he got such pleasure out of scaring me. I'd always smack his arm and yell at him. His ring tone on his cell phone was Regan's voice even. The "coups DE grace"...is that the right way to say it? Well, that was when I found this video on YouTube. I won't post the link because I don't know it, but it was just a clip of a rocking chair in a dark room. It was meant to be scary, or suspenseful, and then all the sudden Regan's face JUMPS out at you. I screamed so loud and then laughed at myself when I saw it. I figured I'd email it to Barry, and see if it would scare him. Well guess what? He screamed like a little girl! HAHAHAHA I was absolutely thrilled that I was able to get him back. Even if it was just once, I still got him, and I never let him forget it :)

Back to my original point though, there is so much going on right now that I feel like my head is spinning in a million different directions.

When we bought our house back in 05, there was a lot to do, but I think I conveniently forgot how awful it really was. Times that by 10 and you've got my situation right now! Everything is going well, but I'm about to put Mike, my realtor on speed dial. We see each other SO much right now, and we're always calling each other about one thing or another. I think between the time I put the offer in on the 11th, and today, there were maybe 3 days that I didn't see him. And I'll be talking to him tomorrow as well, and then wednesday afternoon, we're meeting with the Blinds guy at the new house. Closing date is March 15th! We'll be moving around the first week of April I think...I'm shooting for Easter weekend.

I still have to shop for funiture, but I am hoping that goes as painlessly as possibly. Wednesday morning I am meeting with my insurance agent to do my homeowners insurance. I still have packing and decluttering to do. Just today I took a whole van load to Goodwill! There will be plenty more.

Want to see a list of what I have to do yet?
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Pick out all the window coverings with the Blind guy
  • figure out why my kids ask stupid questions like "Are we having Peas with dinner", when clearly there is a bowl of peas on the table.
  • Call someone to come pick up all the old furniture so I can donate it
  • Shop for new furniture (LOTS of it too!)
  • Buy new mattresses
  • Find more boxes
  • Give my landlord notice that I am moving (I have held off on this due to waiting for the appraisal from my mortgage company). I will keep this place till the end of April so I can come and clean after we move, and make sure the rest of my furniture gets removed/donated.
  • Find movers
  • Move and unpack and get my house ready for housewarming party May 8th
  • Clean this place out from top to bottom
  • Housewarming party in May (this isn't a worry yet, but it's going to happen soon enough)

I know there is a lot more to do with the house, but that is just a bit of what I have to do. On top of that, my life is busy with other stuff too. I go to the gym at minimum 3 days a week, and I also had my grief support group on Wednesdays. That group is over, but we meet again on Wed the 3d for a reunion breakfast. And then I have stuff with the kids too, like character day on friday. And lots of homework too. And A has play dates. Oh wait...her birthday is in two weeks and I forgot to plan that too. sigh. Barry's birthday is the day before hers, and I am thinking we're going to have her party that day to help us get through it better. We'll be going out for dinner to his favorite restaurant that day too, I decided it would be a new tradition for us :) Oh, lets also not forget that Monday the 1st of March, I'm getting my wisdom teeth taken out. Le Sigh.

I am very much so looking forward to the time AFTER I move, because that way at least things will calm down somewhat for us...I am hoping. Then after that I get to unpack and get ready for my housewarming party. I'm looking forward to that :)

I try to keep busy, but sometimes I think I over schedule myself, and then I get overwhelmed with life. That's how I feel right now. I don't quite know how to get a handle on it all, and deal with grief at the same time. In April I'll also be adding in grief support for the kids as well as trying to find a counselor for myself. That HAS to wait till after we move though because there is no way I can handle it all right now. I think keeping busy though, helps to combat the sadness and overwhelming despair that I feel at times.

I decided that the kids and I would do something fun once a month, if not more. Yesterday we went to the Zoo in Tacoma. We have a membership for that. On A's birthday in March, I think we'll hit up North West Trek, which is a wild life reserve about an hour away from us. April I have no plans yet, and May I think we'll be taking a scenic Steam Engine tour around Mt Rainier. June we're going to do a weekend trip to the coast or maybe go visit the Tillamook factory in Oregeon, and in July we go to Canada, and August we'll be going to Birch Bay. Anyway, that is just what I have projected, but it gives us something to look forward to at least, right? Sometimes we just go to see a movie too, the kids love to do that.

I know this isn't the grieving post that everyone comes to read, but sometimes I need to get out my non-sad thoughts too. I think I need to write a list though!

Look for a post soon regarding how "I can do it MYSELF"


Saturday, February 20, 2010

A River of Tears

In the last 4 months and 10 days I feel like I have cried enough to fill a river.

There have been different tears at different times, but they all come from grief.

Tears the first night, when I woke up at 5AM on October 11th, from pure grief and exhaustion. I woke myself up by crying in my sleep, just laying there in my bed, wrapped in Barry's t-shirt, my head on his pillow and sobbing to myself as I laid there.

Tears the first whole month because I just didn't know what to do.

Tears on October 21st when Kiro 7 came to interview me

I don't even remember if I cried at the hospital. I am sure I did, but my body was running on such adrenaline that I don't remember much. I remember yelling and screaming. I have used tissues that I kept to prove that I cried, but I don't remember crying.

Tears of sorrow last night as I started packing. Never did I know how emotional it would be. I picked up a box from the pile I got at Border's, taped up the bottom, and grabbed the first book from the shelf.

Instant tears.

I really did not know that the emotions would hit me as they did last night, but I could not stop crying as I filled that box up. Then the next, and the next, and the next. I packed five boxes last night crying the entire time. I am excited to move into our new house, but sad because we are leaving this home we had with Barry.

I cried as I found pictures of Barry as a child that I forgot I had. I cried as I looked through each one. Our son looks so much like his daddy, and I cried about that too.

I cried as I found a birthday card I had written him for his 26th birthday, and one he had written for me too, for what I am guessing was that same year.

Sobs of pure grief poured out of me. Tears even now roll down my cheeks as I write this post.

I think it might finally be hitting me. My tears seem different now. They are so much more full of sorrow than they were before. Is this what grief is? I thought I had experienced it all already. Perhaps not.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Feel Cheated, and Some News

Since the new year, life has really been changing a lot for the kids and I. I've taken some drastic steps towards the future of our family, a positive future.

I decided with the money that Barry left me, I was going to purchase a home for the kids and I, and I did! I am a HOMEOWNER!!! Well, not technically...yet, but closing is March 15th. The inspection was yesterday, and I locked in my mortgage rate today! I got a great deal and my mortgage payment, with my down payment, will be only $50 more than I pay right now for rent! I am so happy about that! I will have to add in water/sewer bills, but that won't be too much more per month.

The house is beautiful, I LOVE it. It's 2200sq feet, 4 bedrooms, 2.5/3 baths, two car garage, fully fenced back yard, gorgeous gorgeous HUGE kitchen etc etc. I really love it. It is a brand new home too! move in ready!! I don't have to do any painting, all I have to do is buy new furniture and some decor items.





Back to my original point though, I feel cheated. I really really do. Why do I feel cheated? take a wild guess....because I'm a widow.

At my grief support group, most of the ladies there had been married to their husbands for 50+ years. 50 Years. And me? I barely got 10. Not even 10. I got 9 years, 9 months and 11 days. That is it.

I desperately wish for, long for, and want with my whole body mind and soul, to have had that amount of time with him. I HATE that I only got 11 years of knowing him. It's just not fair!

What I am about to say, I don't admit this to many people except my three closest girlfriends. But honestly? I am so desperately afraid of being alone the rest of my life. I know it's not something I need to worry about right now, but the fear that I have about this is almost crippling. One of them suggested I might be struggling with separation anxiety, and I do agree with her. And my mom said to me after Barry died, that the lack of communication would be what I have the hardest time with. And they're all right.

I struggle daily with not being able to talk to him. You have to know, we went from HOURS of talking a day to ZERO, ZILCH, NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. And I feel lost without him, without being able to hear his voice in my ear...even when we talked about mundane things like what I was making for dinner, or chit chatting while I was in Target or Wal Mart.

This lack of communication actually causes me a LOT of anxiety. I tend to just push it from my mind, and spend lots of time on the phone with my friends to help pass the time so I don't think about the fact that I'm not talking to him. When I do think about it, my heart starts to beat faster, I get a rush of adrenaline and I feel panicky.

But apart from that, other things cause me anxiety too. Just recently, within the past few weeks, when I went to the hospital for my Grief Works group, I passed by a little recess in the wall that had hand sanitizer and masks. It happened today too. I saw the masks and started to get anxious. Why you ask? Because when Barry was in the CCU, I had to wear them constantly. They made my lips and face numb. I can still feel it on my skin even now, more than 4 months after he died. I can picture my little routine of driving to the hospital, finding a parking spot...walking down the outside stairs and down the hallway to the CCU unit. Going to the bathroom before I called in and washing my hands. Picking up the phone and saying "This is Barry's wife, can I please come in?". Hearing the door latch click open, and walking down the tile floor a ways...turning right, and then walking another 5 feet through the wide double doors into the CCU Unit. The nurses station on the right, I'd usually say hello, and then Barry's room off to the far left. I'd grab a mask on the outside of his sliding glass door, slip the elastic over my ears, and pinch it around my nose. I'd slide open the door and start saying hello to him. I'd place my stuff in the chair, and go kiss him hello. Then I'd sit down and do stuff in the chair, or I'd stand by him and talk to him, rubbing his hands, or his feet, or just sit and talk to him as the numbness from the mask overtook my face. .

I did this every single day. Multiple times a day. Sometimes I was back and forth at the hospital three times a day...morning, afternoon, and at night after dinner. I often wouldn't come home till 11, 12PM at night sometimes. At times I miss this routine, because even if he was sick, he was still alive and I could still be with him.

I miss him. I miss him so much I can't stand it, and I hate feeling cheated!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Mish Mash, and A Year of Memories Feb 14th 2000

First off, life has been incredibly busy this past week, so blogging has been put on the back burner for me. And it won't be slowing down anytime soon at all, so my blogging might be sparse, at best, for who knows how long.

I don't really have much to write about for my "A Year of Memories" post today. Barry and I celebrated our first valentine's day together as a couple, a married couple too, in 2000. He SPOILED me that day! I can remember most of what I got too, I was quite the lucky girl ;o) We had a DVD player at the time, but no VCR, so Barry actually went to the Power Zone (electronics store on the Army Base) and bought me a VCR and "Muppets from Space" on VHS. hahaha. We only got rid of that movie a few years back and replaced it with the DVD finally. Barry loved that movie, and quite often we would quote our favorite line from it. "The Goat?", "NO! THE REMOTE!!!" lol It makes me smile, because I can hear us doing it in my head.

I was also treated to a bottle of "Angel" perfume by Thierry Mugler, a card, and a large stuffed red Bull from TY...basically a giant beanie baby which I still have to this day. It looks brand new, and I had it on my bed last night as I slept. The perfume is long gone of course, because after I got it, I got pregnant shortly after. The scent was much too strong for me while I was pregnant, and I couldn't stand it for years after that. Recently I just bought myself another bottle as a Valentine's Day present from Barry. And I love the scent now, it brings me back to him. In fact, I think it was April of 2000, Barry went on a field exercise and had me send some stuff for him with someone that was back in the rear, and was going up for a visit. I wrote him a letter, and kissed it with lipstick, and also sprayed it with "Angel". To keep the letter safe, I tucked it into a James Beard cookbook that he had also asked for. To this day, the letter still resides in the cookbook, covered in red kisses, and still faintly smelling of Angel, even 10 years later. I'll always keep it like that.

You know what's kind of funny, this past week I feel like I've been getting messages from Barry. Just random things here and there. Perhaps it is him telling me that everything will be ok, that he is ok. I don't know what they mean, but I do believe it's him.

Last night, while I was on my way home from Tacoma, I passed a Giltner truck. Barry drove for Giltner, and I have only seen them twice since he died. It makes me smile, I feel like there is a tie to him then, just even to get a glimpse of a Giltner truck. Today when the kids and I went to Ikea, I passed a VW Scirocco. For those of you who don't know what that is, obviously it is a car, but an older one. It was Barry's car when I got to Germany, and we drove it for a few months till we bought a "new to us" SUV (Suzuki JLX that we ADORED). Anyway, this car picked me up at the airport when I came to Germany, it took us to France, we drove it on our wedding day etc etc. Lots of good memories with that car. It was hideous though, just FUGLY! haha. We called it "The Rat". I haven't seen one in years, and today, I just had to smile again seeing it as I drove past it. I was laughing and remembering as I pointed it out to the kids as it passed us.

And then the last one today was in the restaurant with the kids. We were given a Red Robin gift card when Barry was in the hospital, and we finally put it to use today. We enjoyed a really good meal, and as we left, I took A to the bathroom as we had a long drive home. I passed by a woman that had the name "BARRY" written on the back of her sweatshirt. Perhaps it didn't mean anything at all, but I keep getting reminders of him. That is three in less than 24 hours! I like to think of them all as friendly reminders of Barry.

I have some more exciting news to share, but that will have to be left for later! Look for a new post in a day or two!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear Barry

My Darling Barry

It has now been 4 months since we said goodbye for now. Four months, already? Do you know how hard it is to believe that? Time has flown by, passed us so quickly, yet it has dragged on as slow as molasses.

In honor of you, I decided to do something special as I write this blog post. It is February 9th, but I will publish this February 10th at 11:11AM, the time that you died. Can you guess what I did that was so special for this day? Here I sit on the couch, as usual. But I am in your spot on the couch, and I am sitting here using your lap top, writing a "Dear Barry" letter to you, as your picture sits on the end table to my left. It's quite surreal actually.

I haven't opened your computer in quite some time, I can't really remember the last time I even turned it on! The EeePC you bought for yourself for your birthday last year sits in the bottom drawer of my dresser, I haven't even used that since Kevin was here for your funeral. I was scared to open it to be honest, I feel like I am invading your privacy. Kind of funny I guess to feel that way, but I do.

Yesterday the twins turned 9! 9 years old already, can you believe it? I remember the day they were born so well. I bought them each a Guitar! M got more legos, and a Bionicle and a puzzle. V got craft supplies galore, and Mousetrap. We went out for dinner to Izzy's Pizza. The last time we were all there was in July, two days before my birthday. It was the night you bought me my Wii Fit! We even sat at the same table the other night as we all did back in july. The kids and I thought that was so very special, it was our special tribute to you. We miss you so much Barry! Saturday I am having the twins' birthday party at the gymnastics place. I accidentally invited more kids than I thought, haha, so we will have a big party! The kids are looking forward to it though, and I am looking forward to it myself. I am so very lucky that Connie and Sara will be staying to help me!!

The house hunting is coming along nicely. I know you already know this, but I did put an offer on a house a few weeks ago. Its a beautiful home only 15 minutes away from us. On Sunday I took all the kids to see it, and they LOVED it. It's 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a fully fenced back yard, two car garage. There is a huge kitchen, a formal living room, and even air conditioning! haha. It is a short sale, but the process seems to be moving along quicker than ours did, so I am very happy about that. I desperately wish that I could find the kids a house back in our school boundary lines, but you know as well as I do, that it is so hard to find houses near us. I made the decision that the kids will transition to a new school probably in the fall, unless the school here allows them to stay longer. They will be OK! We can still see all their friends even if we move. I know you were there with us on Sunday when we looked at the house, I could feel you there. I know I have your blessing Barry, thank you so much for that. I know you will come with us to the new house, and you have no idea how much comfort that gives me. I love you.

I've planned a trip for the kids and I this summer. Originally I had planned on going to the reunion at the end of June, but due to certain circumstances, I am almost positive I shall NOT be going anymore. To be honest, I don't want to spend the money, when it will probably be just negativity the whole time. I was also planning on taking the kids to DC and VA for a few days too after we go to PA, but since plans have changed, I'm not quite sure what we're going to be doing. I might still go to DC, or I might take them somewhere completely different.

I feel like my writing is all jumbled today, so I'm sorry if its all over the place and not making much sense. Lately I've been saying that my synapses haven't been firing well in my brain, lol. I've been so overwhelmed...especially this past week. Thursday someone hit the van in the Target parking lot, so that will be repaired next week. But this week, the brakes have been replaced, and the alignment was done as well. The doors are being fixed tomorrow, and the two front tires will be replaced as well. It seems like it is one thing after the other, but at least the van is paid off, right? I figured I would do all the needed repairs at once just to get it all taken care of. There has just been so much going on, along with the van, that I've had trouble making heads or tails of things. I am hoping that things settle down really soon, I just need a break. Sunday for Valentine's day, the kids and I will be doing something fun I think....we might make the trip up to Ikea! yes, I said UP...not down. I wont be driving to go to the Portland store.

I don't know what to write to you, to be completely honest. I miss you, I love you, and I think of you all the time.

Love forever and always,
Me
xoxoxoxox <3 BNB

Monday, February 08, 2010

Twins Turn 9, Happy Birthday to the Two Best 9 Year Olds Ever!!!

I really wanted to write a whole big long post for today, but I'm just not feeling up to it.

Life has really dealt me a shitty hand this past week, and I am tired, and exhausted, and just don't have any energy to put a lot of thought into a deep and thoughtful blog post. So if my post is boring and not well thought out, just deal with it! HAH!

June 2000 was when I found out I was pregnant. I don't remember the exact day, but my period was late and I went to the Medical Center on base to get a blood test. It came back later that morning before I was due to go to work, so I was anxious to finish my shift and go tell Barry. When work was over, I rushed over to the base, found Barry, and ran up to him...gave him a hug, and said "You're going to be a daddy!!!". He was shocked to say the least, lol. I don't remember anything else about that day, except those few memories. I am almost positive I found out the middle of June though.

Just a couple weeks later I had my first doctors appointment. I saw Dr Westerburg, my OB/GYN on the German economy. I had an ultra sound that day too, and since it was so early on in my pregnancy, I had a vaginal ultrasound. I was extremely shy, and had Barry wait on the other side of the screen. This was on June 27th, 2000. Now, you have to realize that Barry and I were kind of hoping that we would only have one child first, but since twins run in my family, we knew that it was a possibility. Dr Westerburg was administering the ultrasound, when suddenly she exclaimed loudly "Yah, I zink I zee two in zhere!", in her German accent. Barry immediately rushed around the screen despite the fact that I had asked him to stay on the other side, and we watched the screen as Dr Westerburg showed us our two babies. I was 6 weeks pregnant at this first ultrasound.

On September 11th, I found out I was expecting a boy and a girl! I was in my 17th week of pregnancy. Barry was on a field exercise during my appointment, so he was not able to come with me to find out. But you bet I called him as soon as I got home! I was so happy to tell him he was having a son!!! AND a daughter!!! It was very, very obvious that Marshall was a boy. He was NOT shy about hiding his goods at all! lol

In late November, early December of that year, we moved back to the States, and settled in WA. My new Dr was Dr. Kathy Hennesey, whom I loved dearly, and was our family doctor for years. She actually delivered child #3 as well. I was put on bed rest for a couple weeks, as that plane trip we took from Germany to WA state gave me pre-ecclampsia! bummer! I spent the last couple weeks before the twins were born laying on my couch, watching crappy TV and doing nothing, lol. I was waiting for the time to pass, but it went by so slowly.

On Feb 7th, a year and a day ago, it was the night before my C-section, and I had Barry measure me. I measured about 55" around the biggest part of my belly! I was all belly! I was absolutely HUGE! I have pictures of me from that day, or the day of the surgery, somewhere, and I am always astonished at how huge I looked.

To be honest, I can't remember much of the day they were born. What I do remember is in bits and pieces. We got up super early to head to the hospital, my c-section was pretty early that day. I think I got in Pre-Op around 7 or so, and then the surgery began about 7:30. Let me tell you, you lose ALL modesty when you have a c-section, and I know, because I have had 3! After my spinal (I loved my Anesthesiologist by the way), I was laid out spread eagle and naked on the table, and they put my catheter in. I dont remember much after this, except that I got sick and threw up (as I did with all my c-sections), and that Barry stood up during the surgery to watch them take the kids out and said he saw my internal organs. LOL. He never recovered from that, haha. He said he saw my liver and my intestines as they were pushing around to get the twins out. The reason I had a c-section was not just because it was twins, but because V was breech...she was bum down, and not heavy enough to even make me dilate. And then M was transverse, so the two of them were making a T in there! lol T for twins!

V was the first one out, at 8:10AM. She cried for a bit, but had a bit of trouble breathing, so they took her over to the table and got her howling pretty quickly. M was next at 8:12 AM, and Barry was watching too. He said M was so gangly that when they pulled him out, he kept coming out, there was no end to him (Even now, at 9 years old, he is almost 5 feet tall and has legs like a horse! He is gangly and ALL legs, lol). He squawked once, and then he was quiet. lol. Again, I don't remember too much about this. I do remember hearing asking why V wasn't crying right away, and then looking over to my right and seeing a big ark of pee going through the air, as M peed everywhere! lol

Barry went upstairs with the twins and assisted the nurse in giving them their baths. I was in recovery at this time, so I was really out of it. All the memories I have of this are what Barry told me. The nurse washed M, and Barry washed V. He told me he was scared to hurt her, so he didn't get all the blood and junk out of her hair, lol. I remember commenting about that when I saw them after recovery.

There are so many memories of that day, but I am having trouble making sense of them. I was out of it on drugs and it was such an emotional day. I was so proud and happy to become a mommy at last! Barry was such a proud daddy. I have some wonderful pictures of him with the twins in the hospital, and afterwards, for years afterwards.

I am so proud of V and M. I am so happy to be their mommy! I can't believe that 9 years have passed already, and they are 9 years old! The last 9 years have just flown by...it seems just yesterday that they were born. I really don't know where the time has gone. Tonight we are going to go out to our favorite Pizza buffet for dinner, and have cake when we get home. Saturday afternoon is their combined birthday party, which we are having at a local gymnastics gym.

It breaks my heart that they won't have Barry at their birthday. He SHOULD be HOME right now. He should be here with me, sitting at the couch, working on his school work on his lap top. Or else he should be in the kitchen making the birthday cakes like he always did. I am mad that he has to miss the rest of their birthdays. I didn't want to write this post because I knew I was going to cry writing it. And yes I did, towards the end of this, I started to sob silently into my hands. The tears squeezed out of the corner of my eyes until my shoulders started to shake. And now my nose runs as I try to control the tears and crying. I miss Barry so much, I am so sad that he has to miss this most important day.

Please keep us in your thoughts as we try to get through today. Give us strength, and wish the twins a Very Happy 9th Birthday, even though we are sad, and missing our Husband and Daddy.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Tale of Two Birthday Cards

The Twins will be 9 on Monday. 9 years old already, I can't believe it.

While I was out today, I stopped by Target to get a few things. I realized then that I had to get the presents today, or else I'm screwed. We have a busy weekend ahead of us. I was all ready to check out, with my cart full of presents, power ade and other random useless crap you always pick up at Target, when I realized I had forgotten to get the twins their birthday cards. I will be honest, and admit that I forgot their birthday was coming up until they reminded me early this week. How could I forget? Easily enough, we've been so wrapped up with everything else that I plum forgot until they reminded me.

I ran over to the card section, and picked out two plain Jane cards for 9 year olds. I put them back though, because I felt they weren't personal enough. In the aisle with me was a woman who was the card vendor, and I asked her where the cards were from "Mommy and Daddy", she pointed me in the right direction, and I just couldn't buy a card from "Mommy and Daddy". It was too hard. I picked up a card for each of them, that was "for my son/daughter love mom".

And wouldn't you know, I started sobbing in the card aisle. Right in the middle of target, I was crying because of birthday cards. I was crying because of Barry dying. I was crying because I was thinking I couldn't sign the cards "Love Mommy and Daddy" anymore. I still will though, I will ALWAYS sign the cards that way, no matter what type of card it is.

I think that Monday will be a hard day, it will be the very first birthday we are celebrating without Barry. He died the day of E's 7th birthday party, but he was still alive on her birthday. He even wrote in her birthday card, "Happy Birthday Sweetheart, Love Daddy". I insisted he do that the day he was extubated, because we knew he would not be present at her birthday party. Barry wasn't always present at the kids' birthdays, he missed occasional birthdays and parties because of his work schedule. We tried to avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes it was inevitable.

I am sad that we actually have to celebrate this first birthday without him. It's not like he's working, he's actually DEAD. Why? I am overwhelmed to be completely honest. I don't know how I will handle the party. I might have to ask a couple of the moms to stay and help, because I have never done a big party like this without him. Last year we did a combined birthday for the twins at a local bowling alley, but he was there to help.

This year I decided that all the kids would have awesome birthday parties. I booked the twins' at a local gymnastics gym, and we'll have close to 20 kids there I think? If all the kids invited come, then we will have 22 with all of mine! On Monday I am going to take all the kids out to a local pizza buffet we like for dinner, they are stoked and can't wait to go.

Hopefully Monday will be OK for us. I hope we don't cry too much, or that I don't cry too much, remembering with love, the family member that is now missing from our lives on that most important day.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Day of "Goings Wrong"

It seems like nothing has gone right today. Everything has reminded me of Barry. EVERYTHING. And I'm tired of it, I am so tired.

It started last night when I was looking at some pictures of the day after the funeral. I wanted to see what I looked like before I lost all this weight. He isn't in any of those photos, obviously, its just us Benders and my family. But as I gazed upon myself and my family, seeing us all smiling, I wondered "HOW did I do that? How was I smiling when my heart was still breaking?". I don't know how I did it then, how I put on a happy face when inside I was, and still am, broken. Even now I am astonished that I can smile. I amaze myself sometimes.

As I started crying last night at the computer, I didn't notice that Braddock had come to lay beside me. Through the tears that were clouding my vision, I happened to glance down and see the beast laying beside me. I reached out my hand and started petting his ears, and he put his head on my leg and started loving on me. And as I cried harder, all he did was love me more.

Isn't it amazing how animals just sense it? They know when you need them. I feel so sad for Braddock too, he misses Barry too, I know it.

Today I skipped MOPS because it was the Valentines day one. I know I couldn't handle talking about love and marriage, I didnt want to even put myself in that position. But I missed going, I look forward to it all the time. I just couldn't today.

Then today while I was heading out to run errands, I happened to glance at The Boy's student of the week form that he had filled out.

On it he listed "My Father" as the person who he admires.

Instant tears.

I got home and I had a voice mail. But it wasn't a good one. It was the kids' health insurance company calling to REMIND ME TO VACCINATE THEM AGAINST H1N1! Well here's a big FUCK YOU to Molina health care for reminding me YET AGAIN that my husband is DEAD because of H1N1. I almost wish I had been home when the call came and that it was a real person on the other end, so that I could have been an uber bitch to them.

I've cried a lot today. I know I will cry later because I have to prepare my "Barry Presentation" for Grief Works tomorrow. I don't even know if I am going to bother writing anything down. I might take the stuff I wrote for his funeral, I just don't think I could handle writing something new. And thankfully I still have the picture board I made for the funeral, I never took that apart. I have a few mementos I will take too.

Tomorrow I will cry too. A Lot.

Why is it when I feel I am doing ok, that it hits me all again? It has been almost 4 months now, and I am starting to feel the desperation that I felt at the beginning. A feeling of being lost, of being empty, of hopelessness. I thought it was supposed to get better with time, and not worse. Seems like it will NEVER get better.

I am just filled with unmeasurable sadness.