Anniversaries, loss and new beginnings…

I am approaching the dreaded block of time in June and July that drives home all I have lost.  June 1st would have been our 31st wedding anniversary, June 6 is the 3rd anniversary of his death and July 10th the 4th anniversary of my sister’s death.  My “cancerversary” is not until November when I will be 5 years cancer free.  My doctors tell me the clock actually started ticking after I finished treatment and I don’t get the official “cured” for some time yet.   I believe that I was cancer free when I left the OR.  All the rest was just insurance. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

This year has brought more losses, not through death, but in some ways more painful and certainly personal.   It’s also brought some amazing and positive changes.  I have a new career working with the homeless community, helping them to achieve permanent, stable housing. It is the most frustrating and rewarding work I have ever done and I love every minute of it.  I still have my business, volunteer work, family and good friends to keep me busy and grounded, not to mention my animals.  Comet has survived two bouts of cancer and will be 14 soon.  He has a new pep in his step. Clover is nearly 10 and lame with bad hips.  She struggles to walk but is content laying in a sunny spot or just hanging with me. Sage, my stolen rescue kitty is still entertaining and loving.

I am approaching my formerly referred to “helliversary” with a lighter heart than I have the past few years.   I have set those who have passed, and those who have chosen to remove themselves from my life, free with love and gratitude.

I am also grateful for my readership who has seen me through cancer, highs and lows, loss and more loss and appreciated my cynical and often irreverent view on it all.   Seeing the humor in things is much easier and a lot less messy than opening a vein and blogging about it all is certainly a lot cheaper than therapy.   wellallhaveastory

15 Things About Me.

I always miss the memo, but it seems like a lot of the bloggers I follow have answered the call, so I’ll play!

1. I’m a thief.  My rescue kitty was actually stolen from neglectful/abusive owners. I’m not sorry.

2. If I had to choose only one source of entertainment between music, television/movies or books for the rest of my life it would be books. Hands down.

3. Until November of 2011 through June of 2013 I always felt like a pretty lucky person.

4. Even on my darkest days I always found something to laugh about. It was usually grossly inappropriate.  I’m not sure if that’s a sign of sound mental health or I’m batshit crazy.

5. I never lived alone one day until I was 50 years old.

6. My fuckit list is roughly three times as long as my bucket list and I’m okay with that.

7. I will probably never jump out of a plane.

8. I cry hardest over movies where the dog dies.

9. Hurt one of my kids and not only will I curse you to the seven layers of hell I will create a few extra layers just for you.

10. I am geographically challenged.  I can get lost in my hometown and I’ve never left. True story.

11. I think FB quizzes are stupid but I do more of them than you might think.

12. I once got a nun to say F you.  Granted, she was a former nun but it still felt like a win.

13. I’m not easily impressed.

14. I feel lonely sometimes but it doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it.

15. One of my children is alive today soley because her ability to make me laugh slightly outweighed her ability to piss me off.

Dear Walmart employees

I have been a long time supporter of your quest for a living wage. I have been outraged on your behalf when I hear that many of you have to depend on food stamps to feed your own families or have your hours cut so you work just below the threshold for benefits.  I’ve tried not supporting Walmart but if everyone boycotted you would be out of a job completely, wouldn’t you?  It’s not your fault the corporation you work for drove nearly every small business out of my small town, so I try not to take it out on you when I have no choice but to shop your aisles for the many things I need.  Now that I am no longer shopping for a family, however, I try to keep my visits down to about once a month.  Twice if I don’t plan well.  Today I stocked up on pet supplies, a few personal items, some frozen food etc.  I could find no freezer bags so when I arrived at the cash register I asked the young lady for one.  I got a blank stare.  I repeated it more slowly.   She said she didn’t have any.  I said I needed one, could she please check with the other cashiers.  Again.. blank stare.  I sighed and told her not to ring in any of the frozen stuff until she checked because I wouldn’t take it.  Finally she got a bag.  Okay.. we’re in business.  I reminded her twice to ring in the dog food and litter in the cart. She insisted she had. I didn’t want her to get in trouble so I insisted she check. She hadn’t.  She did.  All is right in the world. Until she totaled my order. It was 124.31.  I handed her 140.31 in cash and she told me I owed her 4.00.  Huh? I said no.. you owe me 16.00.  OH!  she understood. She keyed in 120.00 instead of 140.00  No problem said I.. just ring in the additional 20.00 and we’re in business.  Ummm no.. she wanted to void the order and start over.   For a cash transaction.  At this point the people in line behind me were becoming a little restless. I tried to explain to her what to do to no avail. So I asked her to call a manager. She did.  Ten minutes later the manager was still standing about 12 feet away chatting with two other employees. I marched over and asked her if she could tear herself away to help the poor little clerk who seemed unable to understand basic math. She came over, assessed the situation and said with a straight face “yeah.. we have to void this out and start over” .   What.the.fuck.  I told them  I wasn’t willing to stand there while they redid the whole transaction and they just stared at me.  I said to give me back my cash, upended my reusable bags into the wagon and walked out.   I won’t be back.  If you believe you are worth more than minimum wage (and I believe you are!) then don’t be a dumbass. Take a little pride in your job.  Don’t make a customer ask for something four times before you act. And for God’s sake if you are the manager, don’t watch a customer walk out on a 125.00 order because you are too stupid and/or stubborn to override a fairly simple error. And train the damned help before you unleash them on the public.

In the past I would have stood there silently fuming while my whole order was redone and my ice cream melted. I would have smiled at the young lady and told her not to worry.  In restaurants when someone else (mom) makes a fuss I usually overcompensate by saying how good everything is or leaving an extra big tip. Life is short, why ruin someone’s day over something so inconsequential, right?  But you know what? Life is short. This I know better than most. Stop wasting my fucking time. images

What are the odds?

I’ve never been much of a gambler, other than the occasional scratch or powerball ticket.  No interest in casinos.. all the lights and smoke and noise .. bah. I used to joke that I used up all my luck in high school anyway.  I don’t put a lot of faith in karma, fate, etc etc. Life is just what is.  Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it sucks but it’s the same for all of us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about odds lately though.  For instance.. what were the odds that my sister would die while I was undergoing cancer treatment? Probably not that high, but she did.  Afterwards I kept after my husband that we needed to update our wills, put our affairs in order “because you never know”.  But really, what were the odds it would happen twice in one family?  Apparently pretty  high since he died less than a year after she did.

What were the odds that a lump that was not there in the morning and actually clearly visible in the evening could be anything but a cyst?  It was cancer.  What were the odds it could happen again?  Greater than I thought.  Yes, cancer has struck my house again. This time it’s my dog.

Comet

comet

Comet came to us 11 years ago as the result of a bet with a 13 year old soccer player and her extremely warped coaches.  My daughter played on a travel team in a defensive role. Not really in a position to score.  She had been asking for a dog. Clearly we were not dog people. We were cat people.  Dogs were expensive and smelly and just a lot of work in general.   On our way to a tournament one weekend I said if she scored she could have a dog.  She didn’t believe me. Her father backed me up.  What were the odds she’d score?  They got significantly higher when she told her teammates and coaches about our bet.  Early on in the game we noticed a disturbing trend.  The whole team was feeding her the ball.  She not only scored, she got a hat trick.  We were the only parents not cheering. Actually there may have been some unsportsmanlike language from the vicinity of our canvas seats on the side line.

Well a bet is a bet and a promise is a promise, so I went to the local humane society with my list of conditions.  From my daughter the dog had to be black and white (like a soccer ball).  My husband wanted a male and it had to be at least a year old, no puppy.  I said it had to have blue eyes.  The odds of finding a dog that fit all that criteria were pretty low, right?  First trip to the shelter, 3rd cage to the right in the big dogs room there he was, bouncing up and down like a demented Tigger on crack.   Shit.  Wait, but what’s this? Oh.. he’s been adopted. Too bad.  Feeling certain it would never happen I told the staff to let me know if his adoption fell through and no, thank you. I don’t want to look at the other dogs. He’s the only one that I was interested in.  Two days later I got a call.  His new owner had returned him.  Sigh

So I went and got him and I’d like to say it was a perfect match and he was a great dog.  He was a dick. From day one.  The first thing he did was take a dump on my bedroom floor. Then he decided the recliner would work very nicely as his command central.  He would run away constantly. You’d see him hauling ass up the road, down by the river, running victory laps around the house. I started lying when neighbors would call to report a sighting. I’d tell them it couldn’t be my dog. My dog was right here.  There were times he was so bad I would cry because I didn’t think we could keep him but I knew he wasn’t likely to be given too many more chances.  I understood we were the third attempt.  On the advice of the staff at the humane society I bought a crate. I felt bad putting a full grown dog in a crate but after a while  he got used to it and would put himself in time out.  He hung out with me in my office. He was starting to grow on me.

After a time we couldn’t imagine not having him in our family. For the cost of some kibble, chew bones and a comfortable bed he has been a constant source of amusement.  He is terrified of cats, thunder, fireworks and the sounds of gunfire. He has a fondness for UPS brown. He barks like he wants to rip your throat out when you drive into my dooryard, but if you come in the house, invited or not, you are  his best friend and he will offer to show you where the best snacks are kept. He loves to ride in the car, even though 99% of his car rides end at the vet’s or kennel.  He has never put the two together.  If you put an item of clothing on him, he freezes and will not move until you take it off.  He doesn’t run away   anymore, but if he finds himself loose he will do one quick lap around the house and then throw himself at the door to be let back in.  When my husband died, he gave up his comfy bed and started sleeping across my bedroom doorway. He seemed to sense I needed him there.  My new bedtime routine is to move his bed from it’s usual spot in my office to outside my bedroom.  We sleep in a row with my little dog, Clover,  in her spot near the bed.

Comet’s tumor was found much like mine.  Not there one day and hard to ignore the next.  My long time veterinary clinic would not see him though I begged. I was leaving for Texas in a few days and he was to be boarded. While I understand a lump is not an emergency, I am a cancer survivor.  We don’t ignore lumps.  When I returned from Texas I made an appointment with a new clinic and they have been wonderful.  Sure this was just a fatty tumor, they biopsied it and got concerning results.  Surgery revealed a much larger mass than suspected and they could not get it all without causing muscle and nerve damage.   Pathology report came in yesterday and it is, indeed, cancer.  Good news, it is not the kind that metastasizes normally. Bad news, they did not get it all so it will likely grow back.  I’m taking a wait and see approach and for the moment he is doing great.  He had his stitches out today and carried on like they were killing him. Such a drama king.

While history tells me the odds are not usually in my favor, they have been in his and I’m betting on him to be around for a few years to come.

Happy New Year

Image

 

Or as I like to say don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, ’13.   I’ve stopped greeting each new year with “it has to be better than last year”.  Actually I never did that until the end of 2011, again in 2012 and now .. well you get the picture.  Apparently the universe likes messing with me so I am keeping my hopes for the new year to myself. I won’t write 2013 off completely. It did bring the amazing gift of my first grandson and I’ve surprised myself with things I can handle that I never in a million years thought I could or would ever have to.  

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I say what didn’t kill me makes me want to mess someone up. Unfortunately there is no one to blame for any of it.  It’s just life and you know none of us are getting out of this alive.

Cheers!

My thoughts

… are kind of all over the place these days.   First of all the job. Yeah.  I may have made a mistake.  Probably should have let the dust settle a little bit.  I applied for this job exactly 3 weeks after my husband died. What the hell was I thinking?  I guess I panicked a little regarding finances, insurance, etc.  So.. here I am at 51 years old with 30 years experience working an entry level job for the insurance.  Don’t get me wrong.. the job is okay.. nothing terribly interesting, but busy and I like that. Love my coworkers.  The trouble you ask?  Somewhere along the way, during the shit storm what was my life over the past two years, I seem to have lost my filter.  Replacing it is on my short list (as in nevah gonna happen in this lifetime).  I simply don’t care what I say and to whom.   I just don’t. I don’t go out of my way to offend, but if you choose to be offended by something I say? Tuff shit. You can imagine how well that goes over in the work place.   One of my coworkers thought I was a bit on the prissy side until I let loose with a string of expletives. She was relieved.  It’s the hair. Fools em every time.

On  the home front. Ever wish you could have one more conversation with a loved one that had passed on?  Do you imagine it in your mind?  I have these little one sided conversations all the time with my sister and my husband (not out loud, I haven’t turned the bend completely).  They are usually mundane, every day things… nothing maudlin or sweetly out of character.  Today I wish I could ask my beloved why he kept certain items.  Like the princess tiara and the duck lips that sound like a kazoo. Yes. I tried them. Don’t judge me.  It’s been a stressful week. I think I will wear them to work tomorrow. The lips, not the tiara.  I’m saving that for special.

Image

Wait. I’m supposed to know this shit?

I have been looking at my husband’s pickup truck sitting in it’s usual spot, unmoved for 6 weeks now.  I can’t drive it. I don’t want to drive it. It’s doing no one any good just sitting there and I said from the start I wanted to sell it.  But I kept putting it off. Today I grabbed my camera and the keys, gathered all the information I needed and placed an ad on craigslist.  I was very thorough, mentioning the mileage, work it needed, any features I could think of and within minutes I got an actual inquiry in my inbox.  “What is the engine”? Engine? I’m pretty sure it has one. I don’t want to look.  What if I find a large hamster wheel under the hood?   I’m not ready to deal with all of this. Shit.

 

stock-vector-hamster-exercising-vector-47732845

Road trip

she-and-him-650-430

My youngest daughter (sometimes known in my on line circles as Thing 3) and I took a trip   to visit my older daughter (Thing 2). We had plans to see She and Him in concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.  My husband had bought these tickets shortly before he passed away. The girls and I love the band.  He wasn’t a huge fan, but just loved music of any kind (except country!) and spending time with his kids.  The girls and I had a nice time.  We rode the T and did a lot of walking and entertained each other with memories of his running commentaries during such excursions. He was a big guy with a lot of aches and pains. His complaints were legitimate but his delivery was so funny that it was hard to take him seriously.   One year he and I went down for the 4th and walked around for hours with Thing 2 and her roommate.  We all had sore feet but he had “no ankles and no ass” after walking for miles and then sitting on a concrete curb for hours waiting for the fireworks.

When we arrived for the concert we were approached by a young lady who works for Live Nation.  She was very engaging and friendly and we were laughing and having a nice chat. Out of the blue she asked “Where’s the mister”?  The girls and I just looked at each other and finally she said.. “Oh, I guess it’s not his thing”.   Why would anyone ask one woman in a  group of three where her husband is?  I bet I could have ruined her night with an honest answer.

The concert was great.  Camera Obscura opened.  I had never heard them.  She and Him played all of my favorites and did an a capella version of  Unchained Melody.  It was amazing.   I had a few weepy moments.  He would have loved the concert, the time with the girls, all of it.   Having to take 2 buses and 2 trains to go a few miles, not so much. However, he probably would have contributed some real gems to the family quote book.

Navigating a new reality

lord__again_i_bring_you_my_broken_heart_by_mistress_daydream-d5g0yoi

I’ve been pretty silent on the blogosphere. I’ve reblogged a few gems from some of the smart ladies that I follow, but otherwise have not had a lot to say. Mainly because life was becoming blissfully normal and really, who wants to read about the day to day musings of a 50 year old woman?  Nothing to see here folks.   I had planned to blog on the one year anniversary of my sister’s death.  That is coming up  on July 10.  Actually I planned to reblog the post I made about 10 days after she passed.  It’s not like anything has changed in that regard. She is still gone and we still miss her.   I was contemplating an update when I see my oncologist in July.  Truthfully I don’t expect anything new to come from that visit so unless something horrifying or hilarious happened on the way to the center it would be a pretty boring entry.

What I never in my wildest imaginings expected to be blogging about is the unexpected death of my husband.  On 4/29/13 we welcomed his new grandson in Texas.  On 6/1/13 we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary with a trip to the coast that included eating lobster and looking for “treasure” in flea markets and antique shops. I looked for things to sell in my ebay business. He looked for vinyl and other collectibles that he could display in his “man cave”.  On 6/5/13 I spent the day setting up a charity lawn sale and when we both arrived home at the same time I told him I was too tired to cook and asked him to pick up sandwiches.  He did and we had a quiet evening.  He called a close friend and talked for a time, then called his son.  About an hour and a half earlier than he normally went to bed, he announced he was “freezing” and was visibly shivering.  I felt his forehead.. no fever. He was not sweating.  He had no other symptoms.  We both went to bed and slept normally. The next morning we were planning to visit our daughter in law before she flew home (she’d been here for a funeral) so he had the day off. We both slept a little later than normal.  When I got up he was in his recliner under two blankets. I asked he if was still cold and he said no, just achy and really tired.  While I made coffee he got the paper.  He didn’t touch his coffee or the paper and at one point just got up and went back to the bedroom. I asked if he’d gone back to bed and he said “for just a bit”.  I checked once, he was on his side facing the wall.  Fifteen minutes later I heard what I thought was loud snoring and went in. He was now flat on his back. I could not rouse him. I could not move him.  He appeared to be choking so I called 911.  While on the phone, he stopped breathing.  He was gone. Just like that. The EMTs were there in minutes and worked for over 45 minutes.  On 6/6/13 @ 8:26 a.m. my life changed forever.

Within hours my house was full of family.  My kids stayed with me for  more than 2 weeks (leaving in stages).   I had some wonderful quality time with the new baby.  I hated to see them all go, but my new reality involves living alone and doing for myself. I would love to hide under the covers or sit back helplessly and let others do for me, but that just prolongs the inevitable.

On the practical side there are decisions to be made, bills to pay, I had to buy health insurance for the first time in my adult life as we were always covered under his work plan (thank God I’m through with the expensive part of cancer treatment). I’m looking for work because even though my small business is making money, working alone is very isolating.

I guess I do have plenty to say after all. Huh, who knew?  Those of you who followed my journey through breast cancer are invited to follow my new journey through early widowhood.  I promise it won’t be all doom and gloom.  As is typical in our family there have been some hilarious moments that have you laughing/crying at the same time.

Remind me to tell  you about the financial institution that had me convinced someone had stolen my husband’s identity, had named names and was insisting I file a police report.  Only to find out it was their mistake after all (which I had been telling them for 2 days).  That’s a long story for another day.

They say God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  He can stop any time now. I’m not the bad ass He makes me out to be.

In spite of it all, I remain mainelyhopeful.

Hypochondria.. another fun side effect of cancer

hypochondriac

So, I’m done with cancer, but is cancer done with me?  On Thanksgiving night I pulled an abdominal muscle.  The pain went all the way through to my back. I knew I pulled a muscle. I felt it.   For the next 10 days I would feel the pain if I stretched or turned the wrong way. It would sometimes be worse in my upper abdomen, sometimes in my back or rib cage.  It would stop me in my tracks at times and a deep breath could bring me to tears. There’s not a whole lot that can be done for a pulled muscle so I never tried to get in to see my doctor.  I just suffered silently (ha!!).    Okay in the interest of full disclosure I may or may not have mentioned to my family that I should probably go to the ER, if I screamed suddenly they should just ignore me, and that I likely had a few cracked ribs, but I’d probably be okay.   They got off easy… I was treating myself to much more dire internal commentary.  What was that tearing feeling?  An abdominal aneurysm?  Wait.. is my liver enlarged?  If I do have a cracked rib.. why?  Bone mets?  Am I being paranoid?  Wouldn’t a brain lesion cause paranoia?  I also was sure I had gall bladder disease and maybe biliary colic (what’s biliary colic?.. I have no idea but it sounds impressive).

As of  today, I think I will probably pull through. I can only feel the pain if I force it.  I’m sure I’ll pull another muscle with all these crazy contortions I’m putting myself through to see if I can reproduce the pain proving it was indeed a pulled muscle versus needing immediate surgery for some kind of internal injury.

p.s.. hypochondria is a recognized medical condition.  So I’m only a little crazy.

hypochondriac-i3