Four Months

Today marks four months…only four months…already four months…eternity or a second…time is weird. I’m sitting here…wearing Jason’s dress shirt…the one he wore the last time he danced with me at his brother’s wedding…just 11 days before we said goodbye to him. I’m wrapped up in his quilt…the dogs at my side…drinking coffee…listening to music…writing. A pretty typical Saturday morning these days. Soon the boys will be up and we’ll go out to breakfast.

This week has been a horrible struggle for me. I have many moments where I think “I don’t want to be here anymore”….”I don’t want to do this anymore”…”I just want to be with Jason”. I am not suicidal by any means…I would never leave our kids…but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes think about getting in my car and just driving….where? I don’t know. Somewhere I can escape the pain. Impossible…I know.

In my head I know I will be okay…some day…but my heart is so very broken.

Thank you to everyone who tried to lift me up this week…with a hug…a glass of wine…dinner…an ear to listen…a text…a song…a cup of coffee…a shot of whiskey…a 3 ft tall gnome that dances and plays Christmas music. I appreciate all of you.

Thanksgiving

Grief and Gratitude. I feel both so overwhelmingly today.

Thanksgiving

Dear God

Sometimes gratitude is difficult
When my heart is broke in two.
I don’t understand Your plan.
I’m confused and angry too.

But today as I sit at this table
Surrounded by those I love
I want to take this time to remember 
Your blessings from above.

You gave us three beautiful children.
They fill me with joy and pride.
I do my best to be their Mom
Without Jason by my side.

You gave me a wonderful family-
Both mine and Jason’s too.
We all grieve together
While he is there with You.

I have a wonderful group of friends.
When I need them they are there-
To cry to laugh to drink some wine
Or walk the dogs in the chilly air.

If this heartache has taught me anything
It’s that these are the most important things
The love of family and friends
Because you never know what the future brings.


Thanksgiving 2020

Tree is Up

I feel like I spent a lot of time this weekend “chasing peace”…trying to figure out the right combination of “alone time” and “people time”…and how to make sure “alone time” doesn’t just feel like “lonely time”.

Saturday morning the boys and I had our usual breakfast together. I had a really good talk with them about how I am feeling lonely and really need them to spend a little time with me in the evenings…more than the 10 minutes it takes to gulp down dinner. I think they took my words to heart because they worked together yesterday morning to install a doorbell for me. Then Levi had tennis and Seth went to work, but Levi installed a thermostat in the afternoon for me as well.

This morning I had breakfast with my friend Vicki…always a great way to start out Sunday. Then Levi helped me “Christmas” our house a little bit while Seth was at work. While Levi had his tennis lesson this afternoon I met a friend for coffee…which was great…friends and coffee are always a good idea 🙂 Seth hung out with me while I made dinner…yes, I set off the smoke alarm…it just isn’t a homemade meal without it I guess. Then another friend came over for a few drinks this evening.

It’s really hard to balance because being alone quickly becomes lonely…but being too busy gives me anxiety. I do know that I do better when I am able to connect with people in “my tribe” in some way…drinks, coffee, breakfast, etc. As much as I want to just stay in bed and pull the covers over my head I am realizing that I need to be connecting with people to keep my mental and emotional health in a good-ish place.

The Holidays are throwing a whole new element into the mix. Christmas is usually my favorite time of year and I am just dreading it this year. I tried to go out Christmas shopping yesterday…got teary…and just came home. Usually Jason would be all about helping me come up with ideas for the kids and shopping with me. I just don’t want to do it. I bought a fake tree from Target today because I don’t feel like doing a real one. Jason was the one that always made sure the tree was watered and I’m sure that without him it would just lose all it’s needles before Christmas even comes. Levi put up the tree and helped me put out my gnomes…they always make me smile. The tree might not get decorated, but it’s up. I’m trying to make an effort for the kids and kind of take my cues from them…what they want to do…what they don’t really care about…but we’re all struggling.

The Quilt

A very, very talented friend of mine made a quilt for me out of Jason’s shirts. All I can do is say “thank you” and let the tears run down my face.

The Quilt

Your shirts hold the memories
Of the life that you led.
Your passions represented
With some cloth and some thread.

Your love for your wife-
Adventures together.
We traveled to Belize-
Quality time and sunny weather.

Our kids are there too
You gave them your all-
Whether it was marching band
Or coaching tennis or baseball.

When I look at this quilt
There is tennis galore-
The sport you adored
And took us on trips from shore to shore.

I also remember the friends
That we made-
Lots of USTA matches and
Tournaments like Watercade.

So many other memories
All stitched together with care.
This quilt that I love
I will take everywhere.

And I hope that someday
When I die.
My loved ones will wrap me in it
When they say goodbye.

And then you will find me-
This sadness will end.
Because I know in my heart
We’ll be together again.

Getting Weird

I’m feeling a little bit better today than I was yesterday. I met one of my widow friends after work today for drinks. Talked it out a little bit with her. I feel like the combination of dark, cold, and not having Jason beside me ever again has just hit me square in the gut. As if I needed some sort of reality check. I hate this roller coaster where I feel a little more steady for a few days and then for no apparent reason I just wake up the next day and everything is fresh again…my heart a gaping wound…life feeling like a complete drudgery.

I find myself getting weird about some things. For example, I get anxiety at the thought of people coming to my house. I was looking at front door welcome wreaths at the craft fair with my sister-in-law last Friday and it suddenly just hit me that I don’t want a wreath that welcomes people. I’m not wanting people to come over. I joked with her and said I need one that says “Welcome-ish”.

I also get anxiety over the possibility of seeing someone I know when I’m not expecting to see them. Whenever I’m out and about I just keep my head down and don’t make eye contact. Just depending on who the person is and what they may/or may not know about Jason there’s the danger of being put on the spot and getting hit with feelings that I don’t want to deal with at the moment. I’ve only run into people a couple of times…and it’s been just fine…but still the possibility causes stress.

I have a hard time concentrating on conversation when I’m out having dinner with friends or family. My mind totally wanders to all the other people I can see in the restaurant. I can tell you exactly where the couples are and the stories I have made up about them in my head. At which point I usually just want to go home honestly. High-back booths are the biggest blessing.

So that’s where I’m at…feeling sad and lonely…and getting kinda weird. It’s a poetry night…

Peace in a Wine Glass

Some nights the wine
Goes down
Easy.

But the bottom of the glass
Holds no
Peace.

I get lost in the memories
Of you and
Me.

My insides feel too tight
And ready to
Snap.

The lump in my throat
Restricts every
Breath.

Inside of my mind
The panic is
Rising.

My grief is so strong-
My anxiety
Paralyzing.

I’m trying to find myself-
Find some happy
Some joy.

I see glimpses of a future-
Feel moments of
Okay.

And then a fresh wave
Of debilitating sadness
Hits.

I struggle to breathe
And stand upright
Again.

Wine and Music

Not a great day today. I woke up to a wet pillow this morning and my mind replaying hospice over and over again in my head. I haven’t been able to “unpack” those 5 days by talking or writing about it. There are people that know some of what went on…but I was the only one that was by Jason’s side 24/7 those last days…and there is a lot locked up inside. I’m just not ready to deal with that yet.

After a rough start to the morning I went to work and was able to shake it off by staying as busy as I could. Then I came home and it all started rushing back. Coming home from work is usually one of the toughest parts of my day, and today was no exception. Texting with friends while I was making dinner helped.

Sipping wine and listening to music tonight…trying to get back to the more peaceful place I was in over the weekend.

Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com

Ree and Jas

I’m sitting with the dogs by side…sipping a cup of tea…a candle’s burning…and I am thinking about what a good weekend I had. There was stress…sadness…loneliness…tears…but also lots of smiles and laughs with people in my tribe. I even had fun watching a Packer game today…lol. One of my friends asked me if I think I will ever move anywhere else. My answer was “no”…not because I love the snow and cold soooo much….this is just where my people are…most of them anyway.

I always get a lot of comments from people about what a great guy Jason was…he was the best! I also get a lot of comments about our relationship…how special it was…how we really had a great marriage…how rare that kind of love is. To me we were just Ree and Jas. That’s it. I can’t even tell you the moment when I first fell in love with him. I do know that by Christmas of our Freshmen year of college I already knew he was the man I would marry…4 short months after I met him. Loving him was honestly the easiest thing in the world. That love was solid. I never doubted it…and never doubted that his love for me was the same.

Even though our love was easy…a happy marriage was something we still had to work at. Finding balance between each of us needing our individual time…usually him playing tennis…me going out with girlfriends. Us needing couple time…how to make sure that happened especially when our kids were small. And time together as a family. That balance was not always easy, but it was important to us so we worked at it and our marriage was stronger because of it.

We would argue about things, but we were always respectful of each other…no yelling…no name calling…no swearing (okay…maybe a little bit of swearing…usually by me…oops). I know a lot of couples who have the “never go to bed angry rule”. That didn’t work for us…usually things would go more to hell the more tired we got and sleeping on it and circling back the next day was a better tactic. And this may be TMI…but make-up sex is important!

We never stopped preferring each other’s company over anyone else’s. We genuinely enjoyed spending time together doing anything…or nothing. He was the first person I wanted to tell anything to…good or bad. I struggle a lot with this now…not having him here to tell things to. When we saw each other after any time away we always greeted each other with a smile. I never got tired of seeing his face.

I miss that face now. And I miss being the Ree to his Jas.

Widow Friends

The dogs have me up early on a Saturday morning…so I’m coffee-ing and writing. The house is quiet. There are a few snowflakes coming down. The boys and I have plans to go to breakfast later and I’m meeting my sister for coffee this afternoon…but nothing I need to do right now…and I’m feeling pretty peaceful.

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you know how frustrated I am by society’s viewpoints on grief…and how that has caused pain for me as I know it does other grieving individuals as well. Well, this morning I woke up thinking about my grief counseling group. A few weeks after Jason passed away I was inundated with family and friends telling me I should go to therapy. At the time it felt like just another thing I was “supposed to” squeeze into my schedule. I had just gone back to work full-time which was a huge adjustment…Levi was back in school…Seth wasn’t driving yet. I was running myself ragged.

Grief counseling is included as part of the hospice program that Jason was in, so soon I had this therapist calling me wanting to set up an appointment to meet with me. Of course, all of her available times were while I was at work. Finally, we managed to find a day that I could meet her right after work…although it meant she had to work late. This was 4 weeks after Jason passed away. I honestly don’t remember what we talked about…no clue…but she did tell me about the group therapy that meets every Wednesday afternoon…during work hours for me of course. However, I think I have mentioned before that I work with very awesome people, they took away that excuse and the next week I was logging on to the virtual group. No meeting in person because of Covid.

I remember sitting at that first session and thinking….nope, this isn’t going to work…these other women have nothing in common with me other than they lost their husbands…a few of them lost parents, not spouses…I don’t think I fit. For most of the 90 minutes I just sat and listened…the other six women had met a few times before so they knew each other…and then about 60 minutes in the counselor asked me if I wanted to tell my story. So I did…and I sobbed and sobbed. When the 90 minutes was over I logged off and thought to myself “well that didn’t help me feel better at all”. I remember telling several people “I don’t think that group is for me”.

But I decided I needed to give it a few more weeks. The third week in I was mentally and emotionally in a horrible place. I knew I was going to have to keep on going somehow, but honestly I didn’t want to. Even through the computer screen these women all knew I needed them that day. They picked me up…helped me refocus…see the important things. They became part of my tribe…and I hope I am part of theirs as well.

Now my Wednesday grief counseling is set in stone on my calendar. I text with a few of the ladies throughout the week. We go out for drinks. They know when “my eyes are sad” even if there’s a smile on my face. We laugh. We cry. We have deep conversations on the meaning of life.

What we don’t try to do is “fix” each other. We validate. We comfort. We support. I had never gone to any sort of therapy prior to this and it is completely different than what I expected…in a completely good way. They really help me keep my head on straight and my emotions at a level where I can deal with them.

Here’s my poem today…for my “widow friends”.

Widow Friends

Death has brought me new friends-
They are widows too.
They feel my pain and understand
When I speak of you.

Even though they never met you-
And I never met their loves-
We bring each other comfort
Along with tight, tight hugs.

We don’t have a lot in common-
Other than our widowhood-
But when I talk to them
They help make the bad days good.

They understand my exhaustion-
How living is a chore-
And give me the boost I need
To get up and face the day once more.

They never tell me to move on=
They get me where I'm at=
I can relax and be myself
And they still like me!  Imagine that!

Maybe when I am together
With my widow friends
You are hanging out in Heaven
A group of all our husbands.

I hope when you look down on us
You are happy that we met.
It feels as if these ladies
Are definitely Heaven-sent.

Chugging Along

I still feel a little “hot mess express” today, but I’m working on trying to find my equilibrium. The combination of work being really stressful right now and struggling in my personal life is a horrible combination. I am blessed to have a fantastic boss and coworkers who are trying to ease the strain for me a little bit, but I still am constantly giving myself pep talks, taking deep breaths, and going in my office for a few moments of reprieve. All of our courts are being resurfaced so I am also inhaling paint fumes all day…NOT GOOD.

I have some plans this week that I’m looking to…that helps a little bit. Tonight, the dogs and I went for a walk with my friend Jen and her dog Scarlett. That was fantastic…yeah for fresh air and conversation. Tomorrow, my Amy is coming to visit me at work…she has already promised to give me a big ‘ole hug…which I will gladly accept. Then, I am meeting my friends Terri and Diane for drinks after grief counseling. Friday, I took the day off work to go to a huge craft fair with Jason’s sister. I’m a little nervous that the craft fair will be overwhelming, but hopefully it will be fine…either way I’m looking forward to spending time with my sister-in-law. Saturday, I am meeting my sister for coffee and a walk.

My brain is still very full of poetry. A few people have commented that I should put it in a book. Maybe someday…I am way to sensitive about it right now to have someone read it that might critique it and tell me it’s horrible. When it is in my blog only people that like it comment…and it just helps me express my feelings.

Send Me Some Strength

The nurse said
“Let him go Marie
His time is almost here”.

I whispered “Goodbye
I love you Babe”
With my lips against your ear.

I told you we would be okay
The kids and I
Without you.

Three months have gone by now
I fear what I said was
Untrue.

Everyday I wake up
Feeling so sad and
Lonely.

Getting through each day
Feels like drudgery without
My one and only.

I don’t know how to find
My happy place
My peace

Without you by my side
My world feels
Incomplete.

I know deep down inside
I’ll be okay
Someday.

But today it feels like
Sadness is here
To stay.

Please send me some strength
From up there in
The clouds.

I hope that when you watch us
You feel at least a little bit
Proud.

Ready-ish for Monday

I’m feeling a bit more grounded right now than I did for most of the weekend…no swearwords in the blog today…I promise. I started out my day by going out to our Sunday morning breakfast with my friend, Vicki. I made sure we went somewhere with Bloody Marys today…I had two…don’t judge.

When I got home I knew that Jason would be telling me “it’s the last nice weekend” and I better get outside to do some Fall cleanup. Seth and Levi had already done the majority of the leaves on Friday. Seth had to go to work, but Levi helped me get the rest of the leaves done and then my neighbors came over later in the day and helped us get our gazebo down. There are still some odds and ends to take care of outside, but for the most part we are ready for snow…at least the yard is. It felt good to get that done.

I felt really good support from friends and family today which I am extremely thankful for. Thank you. I appreciate you.

Fall 2019