Wine, Friendship, Music, and Poetry

I’m in a pretty chill place right now after spending the evening with a good friend and a couple glasses of wine. Everyone needs at least one friend that they can trust to talk about anything with…no judgement. I am blessed to have a few that really get me and put up with me…I know I’m a little “extra”.

I have been listening to this Keith Urban song on repeat since last night. I don’t even know how I first came across it, but it is so good. I’m so thankful for so many good memories.

So many things today that I wish I could tell Jason about…I’ll write them in my “Letters to my Husband” journal later that I got from another good friend. It’s missing Jason in the day-to-day that inspired this poem today.

Ordinary Time

Missing the ordinary-
The normal-
The boring
Every day.

Get up-
Fill up my cup-
Kiss goodbye
Work for the day.

Come home-
Kiss hello-
How was your day?
Mine was so-so

Who did you see?
What did they say?
Dinner with the kids
Make sure school’s going okay.

Do dishes-
Walk the dogs-
My hand in your elbow
Strolling along.

We talk about everything-
Or nothing-
It doesn’t matter
Just happy together.

Come home-
Relax on the couch-
Or help with homework
Math is your realm.

The day is done-
Get ready for bed-
Good night kiss
Before “I love you” is said

We didn’t know it then-
But I know it now-
Wedded bliss is abundant
In ordinary time.

Halloween

So this weekend I loaded the boys and the doods up in the car Friday night and went to my Mom and Dad’s for the weekend. We hadn’t been there in probably close to two years…they live about 3 hours away. I’m glad that we went and we had a good time…but it was also just a new and different level of hard.

I went out with my best friends on Saturday night. They are fantastic…super supportive….everything best friends should be. It was still hard. I was having an impossible time focusing on the conversation. I felt like I kept spacing out and was trying really hard to have fun and relax in a situation where that would have come so easily to me before. My mind was just off in all different directions. I got back to my parents’ feeling sad and defeated. I would really love for something to be able to feel “normal”….but nothing does.

Today on the drive home I had way too much time to think. The boys are not great conversationalists. I just kept thinking about Jason’s quality of life and his happiness. I tried to make all the best decisions that I could at the time with the information that we had, but now when I look back it’s really hard not to think about the “what ifs”. What if he would have tried Optune? What if he wouldn’t have had the second surgery? What if we had held out for the trial instead of doing Avastin? I know it’s pointless at this point…and honestly, with this cancer the end result doesn’t change…but maybe we could have kept him feeling better longer. Maybe I should have found some way to work less…or even stop working all together…we could have done more together…taken advantage of our time. I don’t know. Hindsight is 20/20 and regret sucks.

Tonight I just feel like I need a good cry and I would give anything to have Jason’s arms around me and sob into his shoulder.

Halloween 2017

Love always, Jason

I feel like I have a lot to “unpack” tonight. First, of all I have to write about my dreams that I had last night. People have asked me if I dream about Jason…and I have…but so far they have all been kind of “abstract”…like I knew Jason was there…but I couldn’t really see him…hard to explain. Last night was not that way at all. I was lying in bed facing away from his side of the bed…like I always do…and suddenly I felt his hand on my cheek. And I remember thinking “Well, that’s not Linc”…because our dog always sleeps next to me now. So I turned around and Jason was laying there. I remember thinking “You’re back!” and putting my hand on his face and running it up and down his arm. And we just laid there like that for a bit looking in each other’s eyes and then I asked him how he was feeling…and he said “I don’t know”…and I remember feeling upset about the way he said it because it was the same way he said it when the hospice nurse came to see him on Saturday morning (the beginning of the end)…like very confused and not knowing what was happening to him. I think my being upset woke me up…but I could still feel his hand on my cheek.

It took awhile to finally fall back to sleep after that dream, but the second dream I had was in an airport. I was at the desk trying to get my boarding pass and the guy wouldn’t give it to me no matter how much I begged him. I kept telling him that my husband and I bought the tickets together and he was already waiting for me. He was really apologetic but just kept saying he couldn’t give me my ticket even though it was paid for.

Those two dreams kind of stayed with me all day today. I loved dreaming about Jason, even thought it was upsetting in the end. And I think the second dream is self-explanatory…I can’t follow where he is right now, but I know he’s waiting for me.

Work was…well…work…a bit more stressful than usual lately. As I was leaving I got a text from the friend of mine who is making a quilt out of Jason’s shirts for me. It is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to wrap myself up in it.

Then I got home and had two packages on my step. You might remember a post where I talked about missing how Jason always said “I love you” to me before going to sleep at night and I posted this picture that I took out of a card he had given me

Well one of our dear friends, Sarah, from college took that and put it on pillowcases for my bed. Now when I go to bed my pillowcase will remind me how much Jason loves me. One of Jason’s cousins, Mindi, also took Jason’s signature and made a sign out of it for me

So tonight I am feeling all the feels. It is almost 12 weeks already that Jason has been gone…and in that time I have learned a lot…about grief…about myself…about other people. My grief right now is very heavy and fresh. I don’t know at what point the missing of someone starts to fade, but it hasn’t happened yet. I miss him more each day than the one before. Which isn’t surprising considering when he was alive my love for him kept growing more and more each day. My tears are closer to the surface much more often…maybe the numbness is wearing off…I don’t know.

I do know that at some point I won’t be lying when I tell people I’m “ok”…I really will be. That point feels very far off right now. I do know that I am doing the best that I can right now for me and for our kids. We’re all trying to figure out what life without Jason really looks like…especially with Holidays coming up.

What I am learning about other people is interesting. A lot of people don’t know how to act around grief. It makes them uncomfortable…or they are fascinated by it…or just kind of clueless. They ask intrusive questions. Say things without thinking. Make the pain worse when they don’t mean to. I try to give those people grace as much as I can…even though that is NOT my strong suit. Jason was much better at that than me.

Grief can also bring people together. Some of the relationships that have been built and/or strengthened in this past 11.5 weeks are worth everything to me. Life’s too short. Fix what’s worth fixing. Move on from what’s not.

A Better Afternoon

After my sad post of this morning I decided to do the responsible adult thing…blah…and get the lawn mowed. When I was done mowing the lawn I saw a text from my friend, Vicki asking if I wanted to go to lunch. We usually do breakfast on Sunday mornings, but she couldn’t this morning. Turns out that lunch was perfect timing…and did so much to turn my mood around today. Our lunch turned into spending the afternoon together…I bounced some ideas off her for my house…our dogs even met each other and we went on a walk. We always say we’re going to go on a walk, but never actually do…so “yeah us” today.

This evening I decided to get a knitting project out that I have been working on off and on for years. My only issue with knitting right now is that it has always been something I do while I watch a movie or something on tv…and I am having a really hard time finding anything I want to watch. I decided to take a chance on “Cruella” tonight on Disney Plus and it turned out to be a good choice. I have always been a little fascinated with seeing things from the villain’s point of view…everyone has a story after all!

So all-in-all I’m ending my day better than it started. Hopefully I can sleep well tonight so I can tackle the week ahead.

Pictures and Poetry

My weekend was actually pretty good. I enjoyed going through pictures and thinking about good times. Makes me homesick for the past. I had a conversation with Levi about this one of Jason and I in college… and about how we were younger than Anna is now in the picture. I think he was kind of flabbergasted.

I feel sad that there are whole years of pictures missing. Jason had them all digital and I can’t figure out where he saved them as they are not on our computer. We have a lot printed out from when Anna was a baby, but not very many from Seth and Levi’s baby years before we started taking all of our pictures with cell phones instead of cameras. I wish I could ask him where they are.

I met a friend for breakfast today…which was really awesome. I talked so much I didn’t make it through my whole breakfast burrito. Sorry Vicki…next time you get to talk. Sometimes I feel like unless I’m at work I spend a lot of time alone having whole conversations in my head…or with my dogs. If I’m feeling really down everything in my head starts forming itself into poetry. That doesn’t happen when I’m in a good mood…I’m weird. I guess if I ever start talking to you like I’m Dr. Seuss you might want to throw chocolate at me and run away because I am not in a good mood.

Speaking of poetry, I ordered two more books of poetry that are supposed to come tomorrow. I just can’t get enough. It’s all I want to read. Something about it just connects with me inside. The written word is so powerful. The kind of ironic thing about poetry is that…depending upon what kind it is…there is a lot of math in it as well. It is what makes the cadence of the words so appealing…how many syllables in the words and such. So fascinating. I’ve been thinking about taking a poetry class someday…when I have time…ha!

Bunco

Tonight I let one of my friends talk me into going to her neighborhood ladies’ bunco night. In the “normal” past I would have been all excited to try something new…there would have been no having to “talk me into it”…now it is just hard.

Social situations give me anxiety in a way they never have before. I have an impossible time relaxing…having fun is hard and makes me feel guilty…I don’t want to be a downer…I feel out of place…staying home in my “safe place” is a lot easier.

Tonight I tried it though and I had fun! I had a couple times where I had to take a few deep breaths and tell myself I was fine…but for the most part I did okay! They seemed to like me and even invited me back…so I guess I wasn’t too quiet and weird. It was a really good ending to a rough, rough week.

Sleep has been impossible lately. I am having a really hard time not having Jason next to me. I find myself laying on my side facing away from his side of the bed…as far to the edge as I can get…like I just want to avoid the emptiness. Linc sleeps with me which kind of helps me fall asleep initially, but I always wake up after about 2 hours and then can’t get back to sleep. I feel like I have permagrit behind my eyelids and the bags under my eyes are unreal.

I had the Vets scheduled to come today and pick up a few bags of Jason’s old clothes. I sorted through the majority of his clothes on Monday…saving some and donating some. I felt okay while I was doing that, then the time came this morning to put out those bags and I just couldn’t talk myself into taking that step. It just doesn’t feel right to get rid of any of his things yet. Someday…maybe…

March 2020: Blissfully Unaware of the Cause of His Headaches

Alexandria, I’m Coming

Sometimes I forget that losing the love of my life doesn’t mean that I’ve lost everyone who loves me….and then I am reminded.

Yesterday I felt like I was at a very low point…feeling like I was trying to pick myself up…do things that are good for me…and in the end just being exhausted. My days are so full of “stuff” that I “have to” do…by the time I sit to have a few moments to myself it is often 9pm or later and I am just oh so tired. I process my thoughts for a few moments by writing…so grateful that I discovered this outlet and was encouraged to keep at it by so many people…and then collapsing in to bed.

Yesterday I was trying to make dinner and cry at the same time…couldn’t even blame it on onions…and I started texting with my besties from high school…saying I was just done and really needed some time alone. A couple insensitive comments had been made to me by different people and I was hanging on by a thread…trying to remember that people just don’t think before their mouths start flapping. When I was asked where I would want to go it just popped into my head…I really want to go back to the cabin in Alexandria where Jason and I stayed for a few days last August to celebrate our anniversary.

So thanks to them and to several other friends that are holding down the fort for me at home…I am taking some time…to sit by the lake…write…read…cry…hopefully find some little shred of peace so that I can come back even the tiniest bit better.

Tennis = Life

I have been thinking a lot about tennis lately…probably because the US Open is happening right now! Sometimes I feel like tennis is literally the glue that holds our family together.

If it weren’t for tennis, Jason and I might have never met. Jason and his brother were recruited by the tennis coach at UW-Eau Claire to play tennis on the team there. We met the day that he moved into the dorms. I had never watched a match before in my life…didn’t even know how the scoring worked. The US Open was on then too. I clearly remember watching tennis with Jason and him teaching me about the sport. Pete Sampras v Michael Chang….love me some Pete!

Jason dropped the UWEC tennis team his Sophomore year. Tough Computer Science classes and a girlfriend were taking up all his time, but he continued to play tournaments during the summers…Red Wing and Hastings mostly…and I loved watching my guy play. His passion for the sport was tangible and he was clearly in his element.

After we graduated and got married it didn’t take him long to hook up with the tennis community here in the Twin Cities. He played on a couple of city leagues first I think…Bloomington and Eagan. Then branched out into USTA leagues. I carted the kids around to watch him as much as I could 🙂 He loved it when “his cheering section” was there.

I’m not gonna lie we had more than one argument about how much tennis he played…but I also understood that tennis was his outlet…his passion…his exercise…his social activity. Tennis filled his cup so that he had more of himself to give to his family.

He also loved sharing tennis with the kids. One year for Easter we got them a portable tennis net and from that moment on “driveway tennis” was a favorite past-time. The net was used so much that it was never put away. We slid it into the garage in between our cars. Only problem with that was I had to make sure it was slid tight against Jason’s car when I backed out or I would run over the back leg…there was swearing more than once when I would forget!

We made so many good friends through tennis. They loved it when the kids and I would come and watch Jason play. When Jason was sick, he would light up when I would tell him that a tennis friend was coming to visit. He would just love reminiscing about past matches. He couldn’t remember what happened yesterday, or what was going to happen tomorrow, but a match 10 years ago he could pull out of his head like nobody’s business.

Four-ish years ago, when I started working at the health club in the Tennis Center the first thing that tennis players would ask me when they would come in would be “oh, do you play tennis?”. I would say “not really, but my husband does”. And when I would tell them that my husband is Jason Fregien many of them would have tales of matches they had played against Jason and what a great player he was.

Seth and Levi loved my new job because it meant they could start taking tennis classes. I learned how to play tennis too and even got to play in a Mixed Doubles tournament with Jason once. I still don’t play tennis very well, but 4 years of working in a Tennis Center means that I can “talk tennis” pretty well…and that is invaluable to me right now because it is my connection with my teenage boys. It gives us common ground. We can talk racquets…strings…players…strategies…and I feel like they value my opinion!

I remember Jason and I having a discussion once about how much money we spend on tennis. It’s not a cheap sport…especially to play all year. The line item of our budget marked “Tennis” has always had a pretty hefty number in it, but you know what? It is well worth it for all that our family has gained. Even the majority of trips both as a couple and as a family have come about thanks to tennis. Jason has played in National tournaments in Palm Springs, Charleston, Mobile, and Orlando. In fact, I think it was almost exactly 8-ish years ago that Jason and I were heading to Charleston where we both saw the ocean for the first time together. Priceless memories…worth every penny.

Dauphin Island, Alabama November 2017

Sitting In The Dark

“When you can’t look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark” —Mad Hatter

One of my favorite quotes from “Alice in Wonderland” and describes pretty perfectly where I’m at right now. Frankly, I am exhausted…physically, emotional, spiritually, socially…all the ways a person can be tired…I am.

The vast majority of the time I am with people I’m pasting on my smile…forcing my laugh…pretending I’m doing okay. The proverbial “fake it til you make it”. I’m not making it.

When I’m alone, by myself and I can let my fake smile drop it is such a relief. I still have a hard time completely feeling my feelings…my person who could put me back together after I fall apart is no longer here. I feel like if I let myself go to pieces I will not be able to stop.

So I will be thankful for the few people in my life that are not made uncomfortable by my grief. That aren’t constantly trying to cheer me up. Who will just sit with me in my sadness…in my darkness…give me a shoulder to cry on…a hug…and know that happiness is not for me right now…maybe someday…but not today.

Self-Care

Everyone…friends…family…the grief counselor…keeps telling me that I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself and practicing good self-care. This weekend I decided to try to make that a goal.

Yesterday I decided to dump out a jigsaw puzzle. I love doing puzzles. They remind me of my Grandma and give my brain something to do besides spin in circles. And I can watch the US Open while puzzling…bonus!

Yesterday evening I spent with a friend of ours which was fantastic. We took the dogs for a walk and she helped me finish flipping over the 2000 puzzle pieces…so many pieces! I love spending time with her because she is so chill and just goes along with whatever is happening. If I would have said “we’re running to Target to go grocery shopping”…she would have said “cool”.

This morning I spent a lot of time drinking coffee and writing. Then I took the dogs for a walk and ran on my treadmill. I wish I could run outside more, but I feel like I need to be careful of my knee these days. Plus when I run on my treadmill I can read at the same time…bonus!

This evening I took the dogs for a walk with my neighbor friend. It was such a nice evening for walking and talking. Lots of people were out having fires with friends.

I just walked in the door from my walk when I got a phone call from a very good friend of mine who I have not talked to enough in the past years. Thankfully, we have one of those friendships where we can just start talking and pick up right where we left off! I had a great conversation with her and hope that we can talk more frequently. She has two young boys that take up a lot of her time…I remember those years!

I’m not sure what tomorrow looks like yet…but today I think I did ok.