Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Grief

Music is and was one of my worst enemies and best friends during grief.
It can uplift me.
It can put me right back where I started.

I am not a huge fan of Avril Lavigne but her new song "Jar of Hearts" reminds me of what I would love to say to grief if it were a person.
Of something I would love to scream at grief.
I am tired of grief coming for me.  And I would really love if grief would leave me alone.
These lyrics in particular are speaking to me:

"And who do you think you are
Running 'round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You're gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don't come back for me
Don't come back at all."

New World Record

Growing up my family moved a lot.
My mom and step-dad did not even own a place until I was a sophomore in high school.
In kindergarten alone, right after my biological parents separated, I went to three different schools before Christmas.
Between 1999 and 2003, when I was on my own, I moved twelve times even staying one location for 18 months.
So yeah, I am more accustomed to moving then to staying.
I can move an entire house and do it well in about a weekend.
Another skill I can add to my growing resume.

Yesterday however I realized something.
I have not scoured the grocery or liquor stores for boxes for almost four years.
I have not thought "Man, I do not want to have to change that after I leave."
I do not believe I have ever lived forty-eight months in the same location in my thirty years.
A new world record for me.
The house is different of course.
And wow has life changed.
But there is something comforting in staying in one place and having a real home.
In going to the same grocery store and driving on the same roads in the same direction.

Of course, with all these nice comforting feelings, I had to realize how if I have been in one place this long, it means Roger has not.
It means I have lived in this house for over three times longer than he did.
It means Mr. X has lived in this house about half the time Roger did.
And will surpass his time here before 2011 is put on the shelf.
It means that one day, Roger will only be a sliver in this house's history.
And all of that is kind of weird for me.
A lot weird for me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ashes, Ashes

All week long I have had the little nursery rhyme "Ring around the rosie" stuck in my head.
Only one line though: "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down."
Mostly just the first two words.

Roger's ashes took over a week to get back.
So after my father's funeral, when the car was being unloaded, I never expected one of my dad's friends to hand me my dad.
My dad in a box.

"Whoa, he is ready already?"
"Yep, the funeral home did it yesterday on site."

My dad wanted to be spread over the property where they lived.
Where he died.
I was thinking we would all come back and do that part.
But my dad's wife wanted to do it on that day.
While we were altogether.
Like right away.
"Oh, okay."

But first, we needed to set aside some of the ashes for my sister and my dad's stepdaughter to keep.
So as we were carrying my dad outside in the freezing cold, I asked someone to grab a spoon.
A plastic spoon.
And ziplocs.
I was about to scoop my father up with a spoon.
And distribute him into snack size bags.

My dad's wife asked if the three of us would share this task of spreading the ashes.
Now, in the movies, it seems so fantastic and simple and holy.
In the movies, people open the container and the ashes just simply fly away in the wind.
But I knew that was false.
I knew that even though the wind was abundant and very, very cold that my father would just not take to the wind.
I knew that if I tried that he would just fall in one huge clump on the ground.
One giant pile of grey ashes on the white snow.

I asked the other two who wanted to start.
I was still holding the plastic spoon.
My sister said I could start.
So the first place I sprinkled was his place of death.
It seemed appropriate.
A few spoonfuls there.
Interestingly enough the ashes sank into the snow.
As we walked, a path of ashes followed us.

Scoop and drop. Scoop and drop. Scoop and drop.
"Does anyone else want to do this?"
"No, you are good at it. You can keep doing it."
Great.  Let me add that to my resume.
"Other Skills: spreading human ash remains with a spoon."

We continued along the path to my dad's garden.
Then, in what can only happen to me, the wind shifted.
My dad flew into my face.
All over my jacket.
All over my scarf.
And I noticed later, he made it onto my jeans.
I tried to cough and not inhale but I am pretty sure I inhaled my father.
I immediately thought of this.
Trying not to laugh was hard.
I could almost hear my dad laughing.

Spreading the ashes of a whole human takes what seems like a long time when it is done with a spoon.
And being me, I tried to find a pattern.
So as we entered his long gone garden from this past summer I went row by row.
Scoop here.  Scoop there.  A little here. A little more there.
Up and down the rows until I was out of ashes.

I took the white plastic spoon and dropped it into the box.
Closed the lid and placed it into my father's lookout over his hill.
The place he probably spent his last morning alive and many other days beforehand.

My coat and scarf went to the dry cleaner's this week.
I feel like my dad will always be a part of me.
Hell, I inhaled him.
But I could not keep my winter coat with his ashes.
It will probably be a long time where I do not think of my dad when I wear my coat or my scarf or those jeans.
And thankfully living in Florida, I do not have to wear those things often.
Except the jeans.
One of my favorite pairs.

When I die, just dump me into the ocean.
No spoon necessary.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Roger's Email

I am not sure why I did this.
I am not sure why I did this now after the last week or so.
But I opened Roger's email today as I was on the computer in the office for a different matter.
Mostly for curiousity I clicked on it.

It amazes me how long junk email will continue long after you have died.
When I was a little girl, I decided to send away for catalogs and I called every 800 number I could come across.
I got so many free samples, coupons, and catalogs for everything.
But eventually the catalogs stop coming.
It usually took about a year.
If a person did not order in that amount of time, I suppose the companies felt the benefit was not worth the expense.
With junk email however, I guess the expense is so little that even two and a half years after Roger's death, he still gets all his TGI Fridays and Borders coupons and at least a thousand other emails every six months or so.

But what I should not have done was look in the "Out" box. 
I do love reading his old emails to me.
To hear his voice.
To see his usual "Its all good" response.
But it makes me sad.
It makes me teary eyed.

I found one email from August 3, 2008 sent to a person asking a question about Habitat for Humanity.
He referred to me as "my wife".
I so loved being his wife.
I hate being a widow.


Thursday, January 13, 2011


My dad & me - Easter 1981
Maybe I needed a new dose of grief to remind me of how far I have come in the last 2.5 years.
I am mostly okay during the day.
I can get through life and joke and smile.
I can do the tasks I need to do.
Much different than the first week with Roger's death of course.
But my dad was not part of my everyday routine.

It is at night.
When the world starts to shut down.
It is when I am not busy.
It is when I pass by the picture of my dad holding me as a baby that has been in my kitchen for a while now.
I was about six and half months old and my dad was about to turn twenty-two.
In this picture, like in most of my memories, my dad is smiling.  Maybe even laughing.
I can still hear his laugh almost giggle.

On Tuesday, I just wanted to call my dad.
Tell him this horrible nightmare I had.
He would tell me I was being silly.
Nothing like that would ever happen.
But it did.
A week ago today.
Three Kings Day will never be the same for me.
The official end of the Christmas season will always be a bit tainted.

Monday, January 10, 2011


My daddy and me - May 2007
A few weeks ago when I was re-learning earth science for one of my certifications, I learned this term called constructive interference.
Basically, it is when two similar waves are in the same medium the waves combine into a bigger wave.

On Thursday afternoon, a new wave came.
My dad unexpectedly passed away.
I have been debating whether to write how he died but since this grief is a bit different, I will reveal.
Thursday morning, my dad committed suicide.  
He was not old.
He was not sick.
He was not in an accident.
He decided for himself the day he would die.
It was selfish and I am angry.
But I am also very very sad.

It is very unlike him.
I have other family members who threaten suicide like they are ordering dinner.  
But not my daddy.
He was happy go lucky.
He was always smiling and laughing.  

We did not have the closest relationship.
My parents separated and later divorced when I was four.  
It was a tremulous divorce to say the least.
My mother hated my father and she was not afraid to tell us.  
But when I was in my early twenties I realized it was not him.  
He did love me.  He did care about what I did.
I could call him and truly talk to him.  Not just a surface conversation.
The day I changed my last name.  I called my daddy.  
When Roger died, my daddy drove from Virginia to Florida to help me.  To be with me.
He was himself and talked with my friends.
He helped clean out my garage and organize Roger's tools.  

My daddy and I look alike.
We act alike.  
I am my father's daughter. Proudly.
When I look in the mirror, I see my daddy.  I have for years.
But now it is painful.

I forgot how all of this feels in the beginning.
How my body is heavier.
How I just feel low and blue.
How my attention starts to drift after just a few minutes.  
I thought I was feeling a bit better until I came back to my home in Florida.
Back to reality.
For the first time since Thursday afternoon, I am alone.
And I certainly feel it.  
I know this will be different. 
My daddy was not a part of my everyday life.  However, my heart is still broken.

I feel even more of every feeling for his wife.
I hate she has to start on this journey.  
Join the club no one wants to join.

I wondered how old I would be when one of my parents passed away.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Out With the Old & In With the New

Like a good blogger and a reflective person, here is my 2010 to 2011 post.
Yes, three or four days late depending on the count.

First, 2010.
Wow, I am glad another year is down honestly.
Finally I feel like it is okay to be happy.
Outsiders surely expect me to be by this point.
Most days, I do.
I see myself laughing.
Smiling at old memories.
And at times when I do cry, I am better at giving myself a break.
I feel more accepting of my life and myself for the most part.
There are still moments of complete disbelief but as I understand, that will always happen.
That's the way the human brain works fortunately/unfortunately.

2010 was good to me.
The business is up and running.  It is going fairly well with more and more strangers contacting me for sessions.
I entered my third decade on earth with friends and family with a surprise party.
Mr. X and I became more serious.
As far as education goes, I passed several certification tests and have only one semester left.
The holidays this year were not as bad as they have been with almost a touch of Christmas spirit I have not felt in years.
As a present for myself and increasing my home value a little, the patio was screened in.

For this new year, I feel like one of my major life goals will finally be complete.
I will finish my degree in May.
I am slightly disappointed that it has taken me thirteen years to get a bachelors but I am glad to finally be getting my piece of paper.
January is already looking like a good photography month with seven sessions so far.
I am going to start advertising this year with a few ads placed in local publications.
And as I mentioned in my resolution post, I will love me.

Since I love lists.
What I will do to love me:
1.  Lately, I have not cared so much about my appearance.  Apathy was the name of the game most of the time.  However, I do not want to be so apathetic.  Yes, my appearance does not define me but I will care more.
2.  Like most (maybe all) people, I want to lose some weight.  But in a healthy way.  Not a fad diet or magic potion, but I want to start exercising more.  I want to run again.  My daily schedule should be more stable so I can stick to this better.  Maybe even complete a new 5K this year.
3.  I will accept me for who I am.  Not what my friends expect themselves to be.  I will grade myself on my own standards, not theirs.  Isn't this what the 30s are suppose to be about?
4.  I will try harder to stick to my budget but not hate myself for going over.  I have done extremely well for not working.

Here is twenty-eleven.  May it be exactly what I need.

Monday, January 3, 2011

PSA: Drugs Are Not Bad

My family has some history of addiction.
And I know there is some evidence that having the ability to be addicted to substances is genetic.
So... when Roger first died, I made a pledge not to drink until I felt more stable.
My first drink post Roger was at my first wedding.  Three months after Roger's death.
Again, it was just a few drinks and not to the point of drunkenness.
I still kept a close look at my drinking for a long while post-death.

I was also on anti-anxiety medication and I knew the drug interactions for that.
I saw them first hand back in 1999.
Seizures and death.
I watched my ex-boyfriend's mother die two days before Christmas as he had to decide to take her off life support.
Valium + alcohol = death.

About ten years ago, I met a lady who was recently divorced.
She had lived the perfect life, or so she thought.
Six years after her wedding, her husband confessed to cheating most of their marriage.
I later found out she was on Paxil.
I was shocked.
She was smart. She seemed so well put together.  She was a pharmacist so she knew the risks.
But she also knew she was in a situation and needed help.
I had never known someone who was on medications for depression.

The week Roger was dying, I only took the medication for my arm infection and some Benadryl to help me sleep.
But I believed I did not need drugs.
I was strong. I was tough.  I was offended by the thought of having to take drugs.

When I visited my own physician after Roger's death, he insisted on anti-anxiety medications.
I was not sleeping.  I could barely finish a thought.  I was extremely paranoid.
I needed help.
I stayed on them for a few months along with my counseling.

Drugs are not bad!  Again for emphasis, drugs are not bad nor the enemy.
Most of my friends and family have not experienced the pain and situation I have been through at my age.
Those people who think a widow or widower should go without drugs, especially during the first year or so need to keep their damn mouth shut.  It does not mean the person is less of a human for needing help.
Those who think a divorcee should go without drugs, especially during the first year, should go to hell.
Sometimes, people need help.
Asking for help makes us strong.

Drugs are there to help.
Yes, they have side effects.
Every single drug has side effects but they are worth the risk when someone is struggling to get through.
So I say lay off to those who feel they can judge.
Those who need the drugs, feel free.  Be responsible and take care of yourself.
Drugs are not bad.