How am I doing?

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I’ve had a few messages lately from people who only know me through this blog.  I’ve been MIA.  I guess when you start a blog because of a diagnosis like cancer and then disappear people wonder. I know I do and I’m always happy to see posts from the bloggers I follow. I have been reading regularly and commenting a bit, just haven’t had a lot to say, so here goes.

On the cancer front, as far as I know I’m still cancer free. I’ll know more after my upcoming 6 month check, but I don’t anticipate any bad news. I feel pretty good.

As for the rest of my life let’s see. I took a job, hated it, quit and decided to spend my time and cash building up my little business. That’s going really well and keeping me busy.  The downside (and reason I took the aforementioned hated job) is the isolation of working at home. I’ve done it for years but didn’t live alone as well.  I’m a self admitted home body so I’ve made an effort to get out more.  Weekly dinner and drinks with friends. Biweekly breakfast with another friend. Spending time with each of my parents and my husband’s mother each week and as much time with my girls as they can spare. I’ve made two trips to Texas . I’ve joined a group dedicated to helping teen mothers make a good start in life and I belong to another group of ladies who fund raise for local charities.  Both fun groups with a lot of really nice ladies.  I look forward to the meetings. I help a friend out occasionally with her catering business.  Keeping busy.

On the home front, I have been having a lot of work done on the house. I don’t feel the need to move as much as I did at first, but I doubt I will be here forever and why only fix it up to sell? I want to enjoy the results while I’m here.  I will admit this winter nearly did me in. I felt tested every damn day for one reason or another (me and every one else, huh?)  You would think I’d be happy to see summer but there are too many upcoming anniversaries and I would be happy to sleep through until Fall.  June 1st would have been our 29th wedding anniversary, June 6th is the one year anniversary of his death. July 10th is the 2nd anniversary of my sister’s death but I never marked the first in any significant way.I was still reeling from losing my husband.    I will officially be through all the “firsts” though.  I’ll let you know if that makes it any easier.

My mom and I were buying flowers the other day. I loaded up on baskets and flats. We were chatting back and forth and talking about what we should get for the cemetery. She picked something for my sister and I picked something for my husband. And it felt normal, which made me feel slightly sick to my stomach.

I’ve been slipped the senior discount a few times.  I see the double takes and the questioning looks and I silently dare them to ask. One kid was all of 17 and when I said “don’t be fooled by the hair” he laughed and I was happy to pay full price. When they don’t ask and give me the discount I say nothing.  One woman asked me the other day and it was the first time I was offended. She was at least my age and had about a half inch of gray roots showing.  I wanted to ask if she thought that bad dye job was fooling anyone. I’m not giving in and dying my hair but I think I will let it grow long and wild.  I’m hoping for the aging hippie look. I’ll probably end up with more of a crone vibe.

This post is all over the place, much like my mind these days. Sorry.

How am I doing? I’m doing well, finding my footing.  Thanks for asking. How are you doing?

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‘In the Event of my Death…’

Reblogging this because it’s an important topic for all couples, regardless of your age, state of health, whether or not you have children. We had those conversations, mainly because of the sudden death of my sister and my cancer diagnosis. He, of course, was going to live forever. Being eleven years younger I always had a sense I would be widowed at some point until the events of 2012, which seemed to level the playing field a bit. And to Wife After Death, ask yourself what you would want for him, had you gone first. xxoo

Wife After Death

If you are lucky enough to still have your spouse intact, I have a question.

Do you ever discuss, you know, the D word? Is ‘death’ part of your warm, couply vocabulary, or is it one of those subjects like exes and the fact that it took him SO FUCKING LONG to propose that is never broached?

Even after He was critically ill, and the click-whoosh of His mechanical heart valve kept me awake at night, my husband and I never discussed what would happen in the event of the other’s death. It was taboo, I guess because it had almost been reality and neither of us wanted to think about the what ifs.

Besides, that Registrar in the hospital, the little fella with whom I high-fived like a fucking cheerleader when I saw him months later in the heart clinic, stated quite clearly that Mark ‘would have a normal life span’…

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Road trip

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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.

Did you think I was avoiding you?

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In the grocery store?  I was.  I have been doing okay with most things.  Taking care of the usual necessary arrangements. Switching accounts and bills over to my own name.  Making arrangements to have all of the things done that I never had to worry about before.  I can have lunch with friends and talk about what happened. No problem.  Lately, though, if I see someone I know in a store I want to hide. I try not to catch their eye.  I turn down an aisle whether I need anything in it or not.  There are two kinds of people I see at the grocery store.   The ones I haven’t seen since the funeral and the ones I haven’t seen or heard from at all. As when my sister died, this is summer vacation. People are away. I really don’t want to be explaining what happened in front of the frozen peas or breaking down in the wine section (that just looks bad on so many levels). So if I give you a small wave and then turn away, please don’t be offended. And please don’t go out of your way to catch up with me in Dairy. Neither one of us will leave there feeling very good.  Instead of socializing I walk through the store like a ghost, picking up this and that, putting most of it back.  I buy tons of vegetables and fresh fruit and days later throw most of them away. I pick up packages of snack foods he liked to take to work and then remember that I just cleared all that out of the house and it all goes back. Cereal?  I don’t eat it, yet there are a 1/2 dozen boxes in my cupboard at the moment.

Yesterday was the one month mark.  We (the girls and I and my mother) went out for lunch and a movie.  We had a nice time. The movie was good. Exciting even.  I had a lump in my throat through most of it.  He would have liked it. He might have even stayed awake for the whole thing.  I don’t know why it made me sad.  I didn’t even particularly like going to the movies with him.  Because he always crowded me .. you know the type, taking up all the arm space on both sides.. and then would fall asleep.. only to wake up at various points during the movie wanting to know what happened.  He did the same thing when we watched movies at home. We had this routine.. me:  “are you up for a movie?  can you stay awake?”  him:  “sure”.. me:  “well, I know you’re tired and I don’t mind waiting until the weekend” him:  “just put it on”  him (5 minutes later): snoring.  I would spend the first half of the movie nudging him and the 2nd half hoping he wouldn’t wake up and start asking what happened. And after the movie ended he would get his second wind and spend hours on Facebook posting obscure music videos.  Nevertheless, we had a fairly long list of shows that we watched together, usually a full season at a time through Netflix. I guess all couples have their thing.. marathons of Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Shameless, Boardwalk Empire.. was ours. Interestingly, he could stay awake though all of those, but if I put on Weeds (at his request) he would sleep through most of it.

I can talk about how he died.  I can talk about what to do with his things, should I sell this? donate that? save it for the kids?  Those conversations feel normal. Doing groceries, making dinner, choosing what to watch on TV..those are the things that can have me reaching for an Ativan.   He loved to eat and I loved to cook.  We had an unwritten rule as a family, once the kids were old enough.. everyone pretty much fended for themselves for breakfast and lunch, but dinner was eaten at the table as a family every night.  Even the grown up kids were expected to be there if they were living here or visiting.  And we would hold dinner until they showed up.  We didn’t eat in front of the TV.  Over the past few years, if he was watching a game or we were just relaxing I would sometimes say.. “do you just want to eat in the living room?” .. it became a habit.. maybe once a week, but the majority of the time we still ate dinner as a family at the table.. even if it was just us two.  The table now holds a small stack of magazines (I guess I should cancel those subscriptions) that I have no interest in but can’t throw away, my ironing board and iron, a vegetable steamer and assorted other flotsam and jetsam of my life at the moment.

When my sister passed away we would talk about what the loss meant to each one of us, but the one I could hardly talk about without breaking down was her live in boyfriend.  She died in their bed in the home they had made together.  I couldn’t stand the thought of him being there alone, returning home to the emptiness. He had lived in the house alone before he met her but she had definitely made her mark on it.  I could not imagine what he was going through. It felt so much worse than what the rest of us were.  And now.. less than a year later I am in the same exact position (Dear Irony, I am no longer your biggest fan).  But strangely, I feel more anxious when I am away from home than when I’m here.  I do force myself to leave every day for one errand or another.  Baby steps. One foot in front of the other. Apparently that’s how you move forward.

A friend asked me the other day if I was mad at God.  I said I didn’t dare be mad at Him, I would be afraid of what He had in store for me next. We both laughed. I wasn’t kidding.