Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little "Roger"

For the last few of weeks and for the next coming weeks, I am teaching a 7th grade class about self awareness, staying in school, self budgeting, etc.
It is going well for the most part.

But there is one little boy.

He has shaggy blond hair.
Light eyes.
Baggy clothes.
Sweet kid.

And every time I look at him.
I see Roger.
And every time I interact with him, he reminds me of Roger.

Last week he told me how he wanted to be an architect.
How he loves looking at blue prints.
How his mom got him this new cool thing.
Roger was into drafting in high school.
I still have some of his supplies.

Then today as I was helping the class play a game in groups.
He was asking me a question about a particular "go back to the beginning" rule in the game.
His group was right.
He was wrong.
And he says to me: "Well, you can't blame a guy for trying."
I could not help but laugh instantly.
But I wanted to also cry.
This was Roger's philosophy most of the time in life.
He applied for all sorts of jobs, even if he was not exactly qualified.
He told me stories of how he flirted with every girl in a bar, even if he knew he might not get them.
Because "you can't blame a guy for trying."

I wonder if this will happen in the future when I meet other children.
Or people in general I guess.
I know Mr. X is a lot more like Roger than I initially thought.
And that scares me some times.
But I wonder if other children I teach will be little "Rogers".

I cannot help but feel a connection to this child.
Plus he actually participates in class.
Listens to me.

And tries.

The Grief Flu

I think something is going around.
But it's only contagious for a select few.
I think some of the other widow/widower bloggers I know are going through a similar thing.
The grief flu.

I feel tired.
I have a zillion things to do for school, home, and upcoming parties.
But all I want to do is nap.
And chill out.
Watch TV.
Eat horrible, crap food.
Not move.

It is a struggle for me to make plans with people.
I would rather just be at home.
I just want to curl up with a good book and a blanket and read.
Or sleep.

My body feels heavy.
I do not really feel like eating real meals.
Especially cooking.
I do not feel like going to the grocery store.
I do not want to clean my house.
Or take out the trash.
Clean a litter box.
I just want to be.

I do not want to make any decisions.
I hate having to pick out clothing.
I do not want to shower.
Or cut my finger nails.
Or brush my teeth.

I do not have the energy for it.
I just have enough energy to wake up.
To get out of bed.
But beyond that, everything is a struggle to get the energy for.
Which is bad since I have having 25 people over on Saturday.

Hopefully this is just a 24-48 hour flu.
Although it has already been longer than that.
Perhaps it is time for more counseling.

Sigh... the grief flu...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Halloween is on Saturday.
Three years ago on Halloween, Roger and I got engaged.
So much has changed in those three years.
We moved in together.
We bought a house.
We became landlords.
Roger got a passport.
We got married.
Roger died.

It amazes me even how much I have changed too.
And now how different my life is.
I am single again.
Not working.
In school full-time.
And dating a wonderful guy - Mr. X.
But not with Roger which seems odd for only being engaged three years ago.

I am having our-turned-my annual Halloween party this weekend.
Once again without Roger.
Once again with the amazing support of many friends.

The weird thing is I am reusing an old costume.
The same costume I wore the day I got engaged.
I did not really think about it till today when I pulled it into the house for it to get a makeover.
A lot like me.
Same bones. New girl.

Now as long as I can put on my party face instead of the way I feel at this moment, that will be good.
I will try.
I will put on a mask and try.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fourteen Month Check-up

It is the 26th.
Two days until the fourteen month anniversary of Roger's death.

How am I doing?
I am not sure.
My biggest mission in this journey is to educate people about grief/widows/widowers.
About how losing my husband does not go away.
About how it does not stop hurting just because more time has past.
Yes, I can cope better.
I can cry less in front of people.
But I still cry.
I still have sad moments.
And moments where I just want to go back.
And moments still where it does not feel real.
And moments where I feel alone in the middle of friends, family, or in a crowd.

I feel like I am doing okay for the most part.
But then I am still having issues about certain things.

The most annoying for everyone involved... undone plans.
I know I am not alone in this "symptom" of grief. [I consulted a fellow widow today and then I have talked to my twin about this too.]
But fourteen months ago, my life came undone.
All my plans went to shreds.
Yes, I realize that life is like that on every level for every person.
But to take absolutely everything I knew about my life, throw it out a car window, let all those plans crash to the ground while I continued to drive forward is my life.
My morning routine changed.
My day routine changed.
My night routine changed.
My career changed.
My weekends changed.
My bank account changed.
Absolutely everything!

I realized my life was not under my control.
My fate was not under my control.
The unexpected happened to me.
The unthinkable.
My fate was not under my control.
Since the unexpected did happen, now all of the unexpected is scary.

So now, I like plans to stick a little.
Even small ones.
And if then they go to hell.
I freak out.
I start to feel out of control.
I get annoyed.

For those non-widows out there, please be kind to the widow/widower.
We need plans.
We need things to go according to plan.
At least ninety percent of the time.
So to help us (or at least just me).
I need to time to process changes.

How is everything else going?
School is good.
Dating is good.
But nothing, absolutely nothing, replaces what I lost.

Today I found myself drawing Roger.
Just a doodle but a picture from him on his last birthday.
I wanted to keep it but it was on an exam paper.
One I could not keep.

My paranoia is mostly in check.
I found myself this morning being afraid of an intruder again.
I imagined him standing in the driveway.
Waiting for me to open the garage door to either attack me or to invade the house.
I got into the car and locked the doors.
No one was there of course.

Otherwise, most days I am coping.
It does not go away.
I just learn to cope.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chutes and Ladders

Yes, I am dating.
Yes, I am in school.
Yes, I feel good for the most part at least a good majority of the time.
Yes, life moves forward.
That is life fortunately/unfortunately.

But some days I cannot help but feel like I am in a bad game of chutes and ladders.
Instead of enjoying married life, I slid back single-hood and now I have climbed back to dating life.
Instead Roger and I decorating my home together and planning parties, I am planning without him.
I am barely maintaining my home and only with the help of others.
And although Roger and I did not plan to have children for five years initially, I was thinking right before his death about maybe reconsidering when I was thirty.
To make a (semi) final decision about to be or not to be.
I did not get a chance to talk to him about it.
To be or not to be was decided for me.
And now, I will be thirty in a year.
And I am not where I ever imagined.
And especially where I thought I would be at almost thirty.

A few days ago, the wife of one of Roger's coworkers had a baby.
Roger really liked this coworker.
He talked about the potential he saw in him.
He talked about what a nice guy he was.
He talked about hanging out with him outside of work.
He talked about how he could see himself in him.
And in the day and age of facebook, I saw pictures of this new family.
A picture of his wife.
A picture of the baby.
And one picture that I cannot get out of my head.
This coworker and the his new baby.
His first child.
Tears were in his eyes.
And then in mine.

I can only imagine what kind of father Roger would have been.
I can only imagine the look of pride on his face.
And as I stared at the picture on my computer screen, I could see the same face on Roger.
The potential tears in his eyes.

Sigh... I hate this...

Blood Money

This was funny and gross as it was happening.
But it probably was/is not that funny.

Roger had his wallet in his pocket.
Roger kept his wallet in his front pocket.
There was a lot of blood.
Some of that blood got onto his jeans.
And thus into his wallet.
Thus onto the cash in his wallet.
[Although I still have his wallet and it does not seem stained so I am a little unsure about this part.]

It was not a lot of cash.
I really cannot remember exactly how much.
Perhaps twenty dollars or so.
I remember thinking of it as blood money.
I cannot remember if I actually said this out loud.
Holly or Scott would have to chime in for that:
[Holly says:

Yup, we joked about it together that it was blood money. We both apparently share a morbid sense of humor because I still think it's semi-funny to call it blood money. Scott and I helped spend some of it for you - we spent it at CVS when we picked up your prescription. Scott actually washed some of the money off in the sink there, dried it as best as he could with paper towels, handed the cash over to the pharm tech and then we bolted out of there before anyone could ask any questions!]

But I wanted it gone.
I wanted it out of my possession.
I could not spend it fast enough.
I used it to pay for my antibiotics.
Some food that I pushed around a plate.

I wonder about that money.
What happened to it?
Does someone take money like that out of the cash flow?
I wonder if by some weird chance if I will ever see it again.

I apologize to those who have handled that money.
Roger did not have anything.
Except he was positively amazing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Fall

So the weather finally changed.
It is a glorious time of year here in Florida.
One of my favorite times of the year.
The reason I stay here.
The reason I suffer through the really hot, humid days.
In Florida, it is fall.
The days are about 70ish.
The nights are cooler to about 40-50.
I love it.

But it reminds me.

The morning of the accident it was warm.
It was humid.
It was balmy.
It was a typical August morning in Florida.

Then after a few weeks, the weather turned cold last fall.
Against my will, I entered a new season without him.
It was hard.
It was awful.
I did not want to leave summer without him.

And it is here again.
Time for jackets.
Time for jeans.
A whole year without him.
Completely realized.
Not just the date of a year has past but now, summer is over.
I have gone through an entire cycle of seasons.
Without him.

Life has changed.
I have changed.
And now the weather has changed.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Over $225,000

I am one of the lucky ones.
Roger was smart.
He was a planner.
He had a job.
Thus he had health insurance.
I was lucky.

I did not have to think about health insurance after the accident.
I did not have to worry how much the daily CT scan was costing us.
Costing me.
I did not have to worry about how much the respiratory therapist who came in every few hours to check the ventilator was costing.
Or about the nurse giving him his bath and a shave.
Or worry if Roger really needed the mannitol.
Or the Ensure supplement to make sure he was nourished.
I did not have to worry.

I had to worry about a lot of things.
But the last thing I had to worry about was insurance.
It is the last thing any wife or husband should have to worry about.

Roger was cut out of the car.
He was rushed to the hospial.

Roger broke his femur.
He broke his humerus into a billion pieces.
He broke his radius and elbow.
He broke some facial bones.
He broke the back of his head.
He broke some ribs.
He broke his spleen.

I knew it was costing about $50,000 a day.
I knew from my past life how much critical care cost.

But what if.
What if Roger was out of a job.
What if Roger elected not to have health insurance coverage.
What if I was not so lucky...
Yeah, he would have still died.
Yeah, I would have still survived.
And yeah, I would have eventually started to heal.
But... I might have not had a home.
I might have had to evict my renters.
I might have not been in counseling like I needed.

I would be back at my horrid job.
I would not be finishing school.
I would have a roommate or two.
I would be wrestling with creditors.
I would be dealing with even more stress on top of grief.

I would owe over $225,000.
Just for Roger.
Instead I paid about $2500.
A small price for my wonderful husband's care.

No one deserves to have to think about health insurance as their spouse lays dying.
No one.
No one deserves to make the choice between money and their spouse's health.
No one.
Everyone deserves health insurance.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Small Gain

The other day I lost some IMs.
It was devastating.
I was heartbroken.
I accepted the loss.

Last night I was doing my dreaded alone task - the bills.
I remembered I also wanted to send a card to a friend for her birthday.
"Where is her address? Oh, I have it in the wedding guest list spreadsheet."
I plugged in an external hard drive.
It was not in my section so I went to Roger's section.
I found the spreadsheet.
I found the address.

Instead of just finishing up my bills and starting some homework, I kept exploring the hard drive.
I opened his "TWC" section from his old work computer.
I gasped.
A folder called "IM Logs".
I quickly opened it.
A different time period than I lost.
But it was a gain.
It was something.

December 2006 to March 2007.
Right after we were engaged.
Right after I moved in with him.
Almost three years ago.

It was great to "hear" his voice.
To see our jokes.
Instead of "I love you" we said "You love me" a lot.
His "I feel much better now" after going to the bathroom.
"Pobrecita" [Poor girl] to me for everything under the sun.
His sunglassed smiley face.
Three hours later I had read all 173 pages.

I gained something else too.
A new prospective.
On me.
I have changed. Thankfully.
I am such a different person.
Every part of in my life was shifting.
I was engaged.
I was moving in with a boy.
And I was freaking out. At everything.
Man, Roger was so very patient.
So very very patient.

I also read his IMs to other people.
I felt a little bad invading his privacy but I just could not get enough of his "voice".
I needed to "hear" him.

Thank you, dear, for being so patient with me.
I know I have said it before, but thank you for helping me.
Thank you for fixing me.
Thank you for your numerous gifts before and after your death.
I love you.

I See Him

This happened a lot staring when I was around ten after my grandmother died.
She had been a daily part of my life growing up until I was about nine.
Then she went on vacation to Tennessee and ended up staying.
When she died, I did not believe she was really dead.
I just thought she did not love us anymore.
She did not want to be part of our family.
I thought she was angry with me for some reason.
I would see her everywhere, alive.

I would see her in the grocery store.
I would see the back of her head at the mall.
I even saw her into my early twenties.
She was in Florida.
She was in New York.
She was everywhere.

Now, I see Roger.
And not exactly him.
I see versions of him.
Or people who remind me a lot of him.
Almost making me look a third time (because I always look twice).

There is one boy in the classroom I have been observing and teaching.
He has longish blond hair (Roger was blond as a kid).
He wears glasses.
He is skinny.
He is fair skinned with light eyes.

The first day I taught my first lesson, I was gathering my things together.
I heard someone ask "Can I help you?"
I ignored the voice thinking it was two students talking.
He asked again.
It was my Roger look-a-like.
"Of course you can."

I also see "Roger" on campus.
Yesterday in my physical science class he was sitting in front of me diagonally.
It was his nose.
I saw it from the side and new it was him.
I leaned forward just to make sure.

I see him walking.
He was in front of me a few days ago.
I recognized his strut.
I laughed.
I could "see" him.

I saw him again today in a classroom I was observing.
He was not interested in school.
He was sleepy.
He was still skinny and growing out his hair.
He kept pulling it down on the sides.
I wanted to say "Stop that! It looks better when you do not do that."
But I did not.

And a few nights ago when Mr. X was spending the night, Roger was laying next to me.
I said something to Mr. X and he responded quickly "Otay".
I was shocked.
I had to have misheard him.
I asked him to repeat.
He said "Okay."
"Is that what you said before?"
"I said 'Otay' before."
I freaked out a bit.

He is always there.
Around the corner.
In the eyes of a stranger.
In the walk of a student.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"God Must Have Needed Him"

People never know what to say.
And I get that.
I do not even know what to say.
I tell people about my husband dying last year and then they say "I'm sorry for your loss" and then I do not know what to say after that.
Quick change of subject? "Thanks"? "Yeah, it's okay"?

But some people say a lot of stuff.
A lot of weird stuff.
Sometimes stupid stuff.

Last week, I was talking to my twin and she told me a story of how someone said to her "God needed him more."
I had to laugh.
Realy, God needed one human so much that said human had to die and come to heaven?
Now, let's look at some of this logic.
God is all knowing, all powerful, beyond time, etc.
So why would God need anyone?
Why would God need one specific person?
God needed a specific skill that the dead person had?
Doesn't said person's wife or husband or family need said person more?
Aren't humans the ones who need people?
Can't humans do more good on earth alive than when dead?
I mean, yeah, dead people can give up their organs and such but...

I realize this person was just trying to say something.
Say something comforting.
Trying to rationalize a horrible thing.
But if God needs someone what does that say about His abilities?

But I guess it goes back to the old saying: "It is the thought that counts" but I cannot help but think if people really do need to think before they say something.
The best thing to say: "I am sorry for your loss."
"I am sorry that you had to go through a horrible thing."
Because beyond that, there is nothing.
Especially telling me or any widow or widower that God needed their spouse more than them.

I needed Roger.
I needed him more.

Monday, October 12, 2009


It is a small thing.
It is not that big of a deal.
Except it is.

Today, by accident, I deleted our AIM chat logs.
I use a website called meebo to communicate with IM.
I have been using it for probably two years or so.
It makes it easier.
Everything is online.
I do not have download an application or some software.
It is on any computer with Internet access.
I can organize all my buddies into whatever groups I want no matter what their IM program.
I love it.

Today I wanted to kill it.
I was having issues talking to Mr. X on AIM.
So I tried some troubleshooting techniques.
I signed on. I signed off.
I removed the AIM account.
I added the AIM account.
And then I wanted to cry.
Fuck... OMG... What did I do...

So I checked what I thought might be true.
What I feared what be true.
I went to Roger's screenname.
I checked to see if our chat history was still available.
The log of all our numerous chats.
An almost daily occurrence more than fourteen months ago.
And when I looked for them, they were gone.
I fucking deleted them.

And because the computer hates me, it said "Start chatting with Roger now for a chat history."
Man, I wish I could chat with him.
I wish I could have a chat history with him.
But I cannot.

It is a small loss I know.
But another small thing.
And I could probably try to get them back but...

They still happened.
And I have a few recorded on this blog.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Hate it When He is Right...

...and he is still right from the grave.

Roger was Cuban.
Roger was not a racist.
Not at all.
But he told me when we moved into our new house that he thought our neighbors were Mexican.
And then he joked that he bet they were landscapers.
Yes, they have two big trucks so it made sense.
But, "Dear, you do not know that."

And I have never really talked to them.
I tried once.
When Roger was still alive on our first July 4th in this house.
We were walking back from the fireworks show and they were outside.
We both tried to make conversation.
Only the toddlers would respond.
We went inside a little disheartened.
I was longing for that neighborly accord from the movies.

When Roger died, I waited on someone.
Any neighbor to offer food.
Or their condolences.
They had to see the huge funeral flowers sitting on my porch.
But no one came besides my friends and family.

In the last fourteen months, I still have not really socialized with them.
Partly my fault I am sure.
But I wanted them to make the first move.
Silly I know.
But it did not happen.

In July, my landscaper due to economic reasons had to leave town.
I was disappointed.
He said he had sold my account to a friend who would be doing my lawn from now on.
I loved my landscaper.
He was awesome.
He always took care of us.
Now, I would have to find someone else.

It would seem in this town where I see a different landscaping crew in front of every house on the block, it would be easy to replace.
But here is the thing, in Orlando, the landscapers are not great at customer service.
I would call.
I would email.
I would ask for recommendations.
No one would call me back.
Or email me back.
So I stuck with the one that inherited me.

I promised myself by the end of September I would find a new one.
October 1 was last week.
No new landscaper.

Then I remembered Roger's prediction.
His stereotyping of our neighbors.
And finally last night, I walked over to my neighbor.
I could hear him in the garage.
It sounded like he was cutting tile.
Something he did about once a week for the last two years.

As I got close, he walked out carrying blades.
Lawnmower blades.
He was sharpening them.
Not cutting tile.
And low and behold, he is a landscaper.
Yep, Roger was right.
I am not sure if he is Mexican but he does own a landscaping business.

So tonight I hired my neighbor as my landscaper.
And laughed when I realized he was right.
Even in death he is right.

A Little White...

The vain part of me was really scared of the grieving process.
What was it going to do to my body?
How was the stress going to affect me?
Of course, I lost lots of weight which was good for me.
But I was worried about the wrinkles.
I was worried aging.
How would I look in two years?
Five years?
Vain, I know.

I had seen other people who aged for various reasons.
Workaholics who aged ten years over a the span of a two year project.
Parents who aged in two years to look five years older.

And I knew grief would be really stressful.
And it is.
It is exhausting.
It is a job in itself.
And I was afraid of how I would start to look.

And why?
Simply because I knew I would eventually start to date again.
I would need to look pretty.
I would need to be attractive.

C'mon, I have a lot of baggage.
I could not look ten years older and have this sort of baggage.

Fortunately, grief has not had too much of a negative toll on my body.
The weight loss was a positive thing.
It did do some weird things with my menstrual cycle.
And my taste buds.
But I do not see anymore wrinkles than would naturally occur.
People even mistake me for being a lot less than I am.

But then last week I discovered something.
One little something.
One little white hair.
At the top of my scalp, it was staring at me.
It was reflecting light back at me in the mirror.

I have always told myself (and my hair dresser) that I would not start dying my hair till I had some greys.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
Yes, people have greys at a lot younger age.
Maybe I will wait till there are two or more.

I blame grief.
Damn you, grief.
Damn you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


[On Friday morning], right after the accident, the police would not even tell me if Roger was breathing.
The refusal to answer me was terrifying.
Were they not telling me because they knew it was bad?
The answer was yes I discovered later.
He was barely breathing.
They noted on the police report as "possible fatality".
Even later I found out they had reported it as such even on the news.

The first time I learned anything about Roger's prognosis officially was a few hours after the accident.
After the public.
The trauma surgeon was blunt.
He told me it was not good.
He read off a list of injuries that I cannot even remember in totality.
But it was bad nonetheless.
Worse than I imagined.
My hope was sinking.
I wailed.
I begged for his wedding band.
I needed it.
I needed it right away.

The resident attending to my arm went to find more answers.
The computer system was down.
It was hard for her to get more information for me.
She looked at his CT scans.
She came back with a little hope.
Enough to feed me something.
I was able to breathe again for a few moments.
I was able to find some humor.
Just a little hope.

Later that day, maybe minutes from then or maybe hours I am not sure, I saw him for the first time.
He was so swollen.
He looked as though he had gained fifty pounds.
I gasped.
His skin was tight.
His hands were cold.
I knew it was not good.

But then later that day, I noticed he was moving a bit.
At first, I thought it was my imagination.
I was seeing what I wanted to see.
What I needed to see.

On Saturday morning, the movement was a little more.
He was moving his right shoulder just a bit.
Raising it up a few centimeters.
More hope.

On Sunday, someone else saw it.
Without me pointing it out.
More hope.

I was reading more and more about brain injury.
More about how people had recovered.
How they went on to lead mostly normal lives.
People who had been in car accidents.
People who had been in comas.
More hope.

The doctors wanted to fix his humerus on Monday.
As his wife of only six months, I had to sign consent forms.
I had to sign I knew the risks of surgery.
I had to talk to the surgeons.
But they were doing surgery.
Roger was stable enough to go through surgery.
Grace went back to Miami to take care of some things.
Everything was looking up.
Roger was strong.
More hope.

Monday morning.
The surgery went okay.
The orthopedic surgeon had done his best.
It was the worst break of the head of the humerus he had ever seen.
It was in a million little pieces.
Roger would need a hip replacement and one every fifteen years for the rest of his life.
He would never run.
He would never do martial arts again.
He had also fixed his elbow.
There was a plate in his arm.
Roger would never be able to lift more than ten pounds with that arm.
But the surgeon said it had to mean something that we were standing in the hall talking about this surgery.
Post op.
A little more hope of his survival.
A little less hope of his quality of life.

But later on Monday, the movement stopped.
He was not in any pain despite the surgeries.
He was not pulling away when his finger was pricked for testing his blood sugar.
His shoulder was not moving.
His hand was not griping mine.
Less hope.

I wept.
My body was heavier.
I noticed the difference in Roger.
Something was wrong.
I barely slept.

Tuesday morning, the neurologist insisted on seeing me.
He had talked to me via phone every other day.
This day he wanted to see me.
In person.
The CT was bad.
Roger was in a vegetative state.
Roger would always be in a vegetative state.
My husband was gone.
Hope was dead.