Thursday, April 29, 2010

Time To Give Credit Where It's Due

I was pondering this morning, and realized I haven't done a thank you post since Thanksgiving I think. A LOT has changed in our lives since then, and I just feel that maybe it's time for me to say thank you again to all the important friends I have in my life.

I wanted to do individual thank yous to everyone, and even wrote out paragraphs to everyone, but I found it was just too much to write, and too emotional to do so. So I will make a list, and hopefully they're all reading this...and if not, they know how I feel. A thousand hugs and thank yous could not express my happiness at having you all in my life. I love all of you!!

*Jason and Lindsay
*Sara
*Rebecca
*Christy
*Johanna
*Mimi, Monica, Connie and all the other ladies from Mops that came and helped me clean and unpack
*All of my awesome twitter friends, especially Rachel who ran the London Marathon, and ran a mile in Barry's memory. That made me cry. And Ian too, who is a fellow widowed single parent, and knows what it's like.

In other news, yesterday I took the spawn to a summer camp orientation/interview. It's through the Jamie Moyer foundation, and is called Camp Erin. It's geared specifically towards children that have, or are, experienced a significant loss in their life like that of a parent or sibling. It's a bit of a lengthy application process, and we won't find out for a good month, but I am pretty confident that the three olders will get in. It is just for a weekend in June, two nights only, but they will have so much fun.

Yesterday as I was driving them there, I got a little teary eyed. Thinking to myself, why do I have to do this? Bring my kids to a summer camp for Grieving Kids? WTF? how is that even fair to us? It isn't FAIR. Not one bit. I don't see why my kids have to grow up without their daddy, why they have to go to a summer camp because their daddy is dead.

And then I got a little angry at Barry. Because if he hadn't died, I wouldn't be in this situation. I wouldn't have had to take the kids out of school early to drive 45 minutes to Tacoma so they could have this opportunity. It's all his fault. I know he tried his damnedest to stay a live, I know that b/c I saw the look in his eyes, but he STILL DIED! He LEFT us. He put us in this situation, and I am so mad about it. I can't do anything about my life because he died, and no matter how much I want to go back and change what happened, I can't. It's infuriating, heart breaking, maddening. I hate this. And for the rest of our lives, we are going to have to deal with this heartbreak. Sometimes I just want to yell and scream at him for leaving us, and I have done that already. Maybe I need to do it again. Or get some aggression out again, something like that.

Barry knows I'm angry, and I think he's OK with that. I know he didn't want to leave us, and if he were in my situation, I'd expect him to be angry too. Anger is a perfectly normal part of grief, and I need people to know that sometimes I'm going to fucking hate Barry's guts because of what he did to us. Right now I'm angry and sad because I don't want us to be in this situation.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Goodbye For Good, Old House

I have had such a busy week, and included in that was the move-out inspection at the old house. It seemed like every time I tried to leave that house, something always kept me coming back. Either it was trash pick up in the yard, getting the grass mowed, having to do a last cleaning, or being there when the carpets were cleaned. It was tiring to be completely honest, and I was happy to see Friday afternoon finally come.

I was expecting that the move out inspection would be extremely difficult, emotional...

And it really wasn't. I got a little teary eyed, but that was it. I really did feel ok when I said "goodbye". The landlord walked out of the house before me, so I took a glance around and quietly whispered "goodbye" under my breath as I shut the door behind me for the very last time.

It is quite surreal knowing that the last chapter in our lives has finally closed. This new house, which I have been looking forward to for so long is finally "it", our home. I started this new house journey in January, and here we are at the end of April and it's DONE. All done. And now we start the newest chapter in our lives: new beginnings, new memories, a new life.

I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Facing My Own Mortality

Without even knowing it, I've been running myself ragged the last six months, and especially so the last few weeks or so as we got ready to, and moved. This resulted in my getting sick, and not being able to shake it.

I thought I was doing fine, I just had a cold with a cough,and a bit of congested chest and nose, and finally felt like I was on the mend yesterday. But then starting late afternoon, my throat started to hurt and I just started having a feeling of general malaise. Towards the end of the evening though, it started to get worse and worse,, and I was laying on the couch barely able to get up. I was very cold, yet I didnt have a fever and the house was warm. I went to bed on time, and intended to get up at 6:30Am to exercise on my new Elliptical machine. Nuh Uh! My body had other plans. When I went to bed, I was freezing, huddled under the covers and feeling like I was in a sauna. I sure felt nice and hot under there, it was wonderfully toasty warm. Throughout the night though, I kept waking up in a feverish state, dreaming crazy things and tossing the covers off over and over, and all over the place. I woke up at 5:30, and promptly changed my alarm to my regular school day wake up time. No way I was getting up at 6:30AM. It turns out I DID have a fever, almost 101!! I just popped a few motrin an hour ago, and I am starting to feel slightly normal. But I am so sweaty from my fever that my back was as wet as when I am done working out. Ewww!

Anyway, last night as I lay huddled under my covers, all toasty warm, I was actually scared to go to sleep. I actually considered trying to stay up all night because I was afraid I was so sick I wouldn't wake up. I didn't want to leave the kids with no parents.

That was the first time I actually felt like that, and was scared for my own life. I know I just have a touch of the flu, but that's how Barry got sick. And now he's dead. I don't know if I'd call that a form of PTSD, but I was definitely scared. I had to calm myself down as best as I could, and let sleep overcome me. I remember feeling relieved when I woke up at 5:30 this morning, kind of thinking "I'm not dead!". I guess we'll all have to face our own mortality sooner or later, but at least I can be rest assured that I have at least one more day to live.

That being said, I'm going to go snooze on my couch. I'm fading fast and I am so exhausted. I see a lot of orange juice in my near future.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life Got Away From Me, Again

I remember when the grief was still so raw, so fresh, that I was blogging practically every day for the first couple months. And gradually it has become more and more sporadic, especially at times like this when we are settling into our new house and trying to find ourselves here.

Instead of sitting inside at my computer, I find myself outside talking to my neighbors. Or unpacking a box. Or doing my nails, which I have started enjoying again. Or cleaning my kitchen. Or doing a huge shopping trip at Ikea, which I did today and got everything I needed, except for the two bar stools which I forgot, and a lamp.

I just haven't made the time for blogging lately. I'd say sorry, but you know what, I'm not really. Sometimes I just don't want to write, and I just want to live, and be happy and do normal things and not have to grieve all the time.

Speaking of grieving and being happy, the word is spreading like wildfire throughout the neighborhood that I am a widow. That's ok, because I started it. I didn't want people to think I was this divorced mom of four. So I've told whomever I've met so far.

Yesterday evening before grief support, I was over at Brenda's getting our home owner's association paperwork, and we got to talking about Barry a bit. She started laughing really awkwardly and asked me why I was so happy. WHAT?!?!?!? Yes, she asked me why I seemed so happy, and THEN proceeded to ask me if he was abusive because I seemed so happy he was gone. What the fuck!

Obviously people don't know what to say when they feel awkward about something, because not that long ago, someone else asked me how my husband was killed? Again, WHAT THE FUCK? He wasn't killed, he DIED IN MY ARMS IN THE HOSPITAL. He died, he wasn't killed. It's called a THESAURUS people, learn how to use one.

Anyway, back to Brenda. I was a bit put off, obviously, as anyone would be, but I swallowed my irritability, and explained to her why I am the way I am. Because I have no choice. Really, I am what other people would deem "happy" because I have four children that need me and rely on me. I explained to her that I grieve every single day, but my time comes in the evening after the kids go to bed, that's when I cry most of the time. I explained that he was the best, most wonderful husband I ever could have asked for, that he provided well, that he was the best daddy every, and that we loved him and missed him so much. And then I also explained that when he was alive, he was a truck driver, which is why I know how to go about day to day life without him. Because really, this is all we have known for 8 years. Yep, he started trucking in April 2002, when I was just a few months pregnant with our now 7.5 year old.

After hearing my explanation, I think she understood a bit better, but I'm sure its still hard for the majority of people to grasp how I am able to keep a smile on my face. Barry would tell me "Buck up Joanna, stop whining and get on with your life and take care of the kids!", and that's just what I have done. Only a few choice people really see the real Joanna, the one who is grieving every single day, and those are a few of my close friends and my immediate family. Only they have seen me break down, and throw temper tantrums and cry and scream and sit in the cold in my van by myself on Christmas day night. Perhaps Barry's job was a blessing in disguise, because it prepared me for this.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I miss Barry

I was sitting here tonight on my new couch, in my new living room, watching TV on my new TV, when everything kind of hit me again.

Things have settled down somewhat here in our new home. We're basically unpacked, save for a few boxes in my room and one in the living room, and all the pictures need to be hung yet, as well as the garage (which is a complete mess). The house is awesome and I love it, and I am finally starting to realize that it's my house.

But something is missing.

It's Barry.

Tonight while I was sitting here, I just started to cry because it all hit me again. I have been so busy the last few weeks with moving and unpacking, and our vacation, that I had no time to think. And now that things have calmed down a bit, my brain starts wandering and thoughts creep into my head that I've tried so hard to avoid. I can't even think straight right now and feel like my writing is all jumbled.

I was thinking about him and had a hard time again realizing that he was dead. Like maybe, just maybe, he was just working and not at home as per usual. Because you know, husbands and daddies don't die suddenly without warning. They don't leave behind a wife of 10 years and four young children. They just don't die, because that never happens...that's not real life. Husbands don't die, they just don't.

Unfortunately, that's not true. They do die without warning. And their death changes your life forever.

Apart from still needing to accept Barry's death, I still haven't fully accepted this new life. I don't like being thrust from one life into a brand new one, being forced to accept everything against my will. Some people have exhibited jealousy towards me, jealous that I have new furniture, a new house, etc etc, but I'd give it all back if I could. I really honestly would give it up just to have him back. I want my old life back, I want my old routines, I want my husband, I want my daily phone calls and text messages. I just want my old life back. I look around my house and think to myself, "how is this my life?"

I've had to go from one life with all these plans, to a new life full of uncertainty. Now instead of Barry and I and the kids, its just Me and the kids. I have to figure out the future for us, without him. It scares me. Eventually I will have to get a job, or go back to school and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Honestly, I feel like I've just graduated high school again, and have to figure out where my life is taking me, except now I have 4 kids, a dog and two cats, and a mortgage and a mini van. What 18 year old has that? wait, I'm not 18...I'm 29 and have all that.

The kids and I are proof that life can change in a heartbeat. Just over 6 months ago we were a happy family of 6, with plans to move to PA this summer, and a husband that was getting 4.0 gpa and on the Dean's list at his University. Then literally, with one heartbeat...that life is gone. Barry's heart beat one last time, it came to a shuddering halt, and then our lives ended. A new life was born, and we have had to accept it as best as we can, and just keep on keepin' on. We've had no choice BUT to move forward. .

This post is a hot mess, and I'm sorry if it was hard to read. I felt like I had a million thoughts going through my head tonight as I wrote it.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Six Months Later

Right now at 9:30AM as I am writing this, 6 months ago Barry was completely "normal". He was alive, and joking and telling me he loved me. And then he died a mere hour and a half later. I am trying not to dwell on that today, but its hard. I am going to keep busy and run some errands with the kids.

I had all these grand plans to write a post about how he died because I figured six months would be a good date to let it all out. No one asked me to, no one pressured me to do it, but I decided not to do so because I am just not ready. I just can't handle the emotions that come with talking and writing about it. It is going to wait for another day, if i am ever ready that is.

I find it so incredibly hard to believe that six months have passed already. It seems a lifetime ago, yet it was only six months. And look how far the kids and I have come in just six months! I have done so much more than I thought I ever would do, and I've come out ahead most of the time. Time is flying by so quickly, and while I am thankful for that, I am also sad. As I told someone not that long ago, I feel like I am holding him clenched in my hands as tightly as I can, but no matter how tightly I grip my hands together, some of him is bound to seep out like little tiny grains of sand. I hold on as tight as I can to the memories, but as time goes on, I am so afraid I will forget him. Not necessarily him, but his little nuances, things he did and how he was. In the grand scheme of life, 11 years with someone is not that long considering we live for almost 100 years. That would only be 10% of my life that I spent with him, and it doesn't seem like it was nearly enough. I wanted 80%.

I finally started to write in my journal. I have no rhyme or reason to what or when I write, but whenever it strikes my fancy, I write down memories I have of him or us, things he told me, things he did as a child etc etc. Its for the kids mostly when they are older, so they can read about their daddy, and for me too, so I don't forget the little pieces of him. I only have one entry so far, but it's a start, right?

I am starting to get choked up writing this, and I'd like to keep it together today, so I am going to end this now. I have grocery shopping to do today, and still feel like I need to get this house into order because I took four days off this week when we went on vacation. We're almost all moved in, but there is still a lot of work to be done around the house organizing and unpacking.

Friday, April 09, 2010

quick hello

Hi All!

I was just in my hometown for three days...didnt abandon you all. I wanted to take the kids on an impromptu vacation, and so we did! Just got back an hour ago and we're settling in.

Tomorrow is six months, but I am not ready to write about how Barry died, so i'll write somethign else.

Until later!

Monday, April 05, 2010

A Poem For Barry

This poem was in the guest book I picked out for the funeral. I really do like it, so I wanted to share it with you all. It was read at his funeral, and I also read it to all the people in my Grief Works group when I did my talk about Barry. I had lost the guest book, and just found it over the weekend when I unpacked a box. I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when I saw that little white cardboard box that it was enclosed in.

When I Must Leave You

When I must leave you
For a little while
Please do not grieve
And shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow to you
Through the years,
But start out bravely
With a gallant smile;
And for my sake
And in my name
Live on and do
All things the same,
Feed not your loneliness
On empty days,
But fill each waking hour
In useful ways,
Reach out your hand
In comfort and in cheer
And I in turn will comfort you
And hold you near;
And never, never
Be afraid to die,
For I am waiting for you in the sky!

Helen Steiner Rice

I found it incredibly amazing that whenever I need him, he's always there. I find little glimpses of him when I am missing him, or even when I least expect it, completely unaware that I need him, and then he just shows up.

When I was the funeral home, I didn't even put two and two together, but re-reading this poem, it is exactly what Barry would say to me. He would tell me to go on, do things and make something of myself, rather than sitting around and be mopey and lonely. He would say "get off your ass Joanna! Go clean my house!", or something along those lines. He doesn't, and wouldn't want me to sit around and dwell on what isn't is anymore. Barry would insist I get on with my life, and be there for the kids and myself, and he would want us to live and be happy.

Barry speaks to me in little ways at the most random times. This also happened when I found two letters he wrote me. The last letter he wrote me was actually written just over two years ago, January 2008, after he gave me my locket. Perhaps I will share that sometime. I don't know why, but I truly believe that he is still here with us, and he speaks to me when he knows I need encouragement. I can't hear his voice, but in the words he wrote with his own hand, or a poem I picked out for him, I can hear him in my head encouraging me, talking to me, telling me how proud he is of me, and how much he loves me.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

We're Moved In!

As I write this post, I am sitting here at my new desk, with a red face from crying, tears running down my face and a drippy nose. I just got an email from an old family friend and it made me fall to pieces.

I want to write a really good "Hello New House" blog post, but I'm not quite sure I can yet, I want to get used to the house first. But rest assured, we are adjusting well. The kids are in heaven here, as we live in a cul-de-sac, and there is a boy across the "curve" lol that is the same age as my son. They played together all day yesterday. The street is so incredibly quiet, and safe, and I can easily send the kids outside and not worry about where they are. Plus we have two dirt lots on either side that haven't been built on yet, so the kids are having a fun time exploring in the dirt, rocks and seeing the various ducks that come by. They can ride their bikes as well without getting into trouble. We will be very happy here, I can see that already.

On Friday morning, the movers came at 9AM and were finally done at 2PM. They did a great job and I was very impressed with them, so it was very very much worth the cost to pay them rather than ask people to help me. I had about an hour to myself, and then at 3PM I had more friends come over off and on and, and then we had people in the house all day till 10PM! I won't name names, but I couldn't have done it without the help of all my friends that really chipped in. On Thursday I was also blessed to have six other friends of mine come and help me with last minute packing and cleaning. I still have a lot of cleaning to do at the old house, and there is furniture there that is being picked up and donated this week, but the house is empty save for that stuff. I had to laugh a bit because EVERY time Barry and I moved together, we were NEVER EVER ready to go on moving day. Never. And guess what? I was ready to go Friday morning, everything was packed and labeled, and the movers got right to work. So TAKE THAT Barry! lol

I am still not used to this place, it feels like I am living in someone else's house. The new furniture is especially disorienting, as we have none of our familiar stuff except our kitchen table and chairs. Last night it took me awhile to fall asleep in my new bed (mattresses were delivered yesterday!) because it was so new. I was sleeping in a new bed, on new mattresses, new pillows and with brand new bedding. I wonder if I feel this way because Barry was never here. And perhaps that is a good feeling in some ways, because we don't have the constant reminders of him around every corner. This house just feels "different", it has a different aura about it...I can sense it, but I don't know what it is. I am sure it will just take us time to adjust and become comfortable in our surroundings and then it will all be good.

Early early this morning it hit me when I realized what the date was. April 4th. Check out this post I wrote October 5th. Little did I know that when I wrote about losing my best friend, I actually would just a mere 5 days later.

It is exactly six months ago that Barry came home for the very last time alive. It was a Sunday too. October 4th he came home about 6PM, and we watched as he pulled his Kenworth into the driveway. He didn't come out of the truck to see the kids because he didn't want to get them sick. So the last time the kids saw their daddy alive was on the evening of October 4th as he waved to them from the cab of his truck. Shortly after that, my friend Sara came over and watched them for me, as I brought him to the ER from which he would never return. Six months that we have been having a real live nightmare.

And all I can do is sigh.

To celebrate our new home, I am making a VERY un-traditional Easter dinner as our first
official meal here. I'm actually making Barry's famous spaghetti. I haven't been able to make that since before he died, so we haven't eaten it in probably close to 8 months if not longer. We've had spaghetti once since, that a friend brought over, but I just haven't had the courage to do it. He made the absolute best spaghetti, nothing topped it. And now I am carrying on his legacy by making it. I'm looking forward to eating his spaghetti actually!

I hope everyone has a Happy Easter! I am overloaded with Cadbury creme eggs, as my kids have decided the don't like them anymore! And in Barry's words..."Communists!"

Friday, April 02, 2010

Goodbye Old House

This is a pre-written post, as while you are reading this I am probably cursing at the movers for going so slow, and lamenting the fact that they are dirtying my floors in both old and new houses. I intended this to be a "Goodbye and Hello" post, but after re-reading it, I find it a stronger post without the hello. I'll do the "Hello" from the new house, that will be my first post from there.

Today is moving day!

Goodbye house that we've lived in for 2 years and 1 month
Goodbye toilet in my bathroom that doesn't flush well but always made Barry's legs numb
Goodbye path in the yard that the dog wore into the grass from running back and forth
Goodbye to all my white trash neighbors, I shall not miss you. not one bit.
Goodbye pot holes in the shared driveway from aforementioned neighbors
Goodbye crappy black side by side fridge
Goodbye tiny sinks that I can't wash dishes in
Goodbye jacuzzi tub that Barry loved so much
Goodbye nice big porch
Goodbye thin walls that we can hear everything through
Goodbye easy way to the Edward's house, now we shall have to drive
Goodbye couches that we bought 6.5 years ago and have been well loved.
Goodbye shitty plastic blinds that break and bend so easily
Goodbye soft spot on the laundry room floor by the back door
Goodbye holes in the yard that Braddock dug
Goodbye ugly green carpet
Goodbye flat, non glossy paint in the kitchen that stained so easily

Goodbye bed, you I shall miss...you were the baby making bed, you held us close every night, you have been with us since Germany...10 years now. I shall see you in my new garage ;-) Perhaps one day you will grace one of the kids' bedrooms when they are married, and give them the love that you gave Barry and I for almost 10 years of marriage.

Goodbye house that we have lived in for two years and 1 month, that was our last home as a family of 6.

Goodbye to low utility bills, I will miss the well water as now I have to pay for city water.
Goodbye Barry's spot on the couch, where he would take over the coffee table with his school stuff.
Goodbye toilet that made Barry's legs numb, I will never sit upon you again.
Goodbye TV/entertainment center/sound system that was so complicated to put together, but Barry did it anyway. You've been replaced, but have served us well for almost 7 years.
Goodbye to the house that was so calm when I came inside for the first time as a widow. I know Barry was waiting for me inside, he had just passed a couple hours before that.
Goodbye Barry's sink in the bathroom where he always shaved his head at. I will miss seeing those black hairs all over the sink.
Goodbye Barry's spot at the kitchen table by the window. I've taken over that now as the head of the family.
Goodbye living room that had a tall ceiling to hold our 7.5ft Xmas tree.

Goodbye house. We will miss you a lot. We will miss seeing all the spots in the house that remind us of Barry, but now it is time for us to say hello to new things. We can still drive by and see you anytime we want, as we're right down the road. Try not to miss us too much, soon you will be filled with a new family ready to make as many memories as we did, surrounded by your walls.

We will miss you house.


p.s...I know I said some goodbyes more than once. Some were intended to be more of a "good riddance" goodbye, and others were taking a more sad side to saying goodbye. It was my intention to mention them more than once.