Fregiens in Alexandria

I just spent the past five days vacationing in Alexandria with Jason’s family. It was a pretty emotional five days for me and really gave me a lot to process. There were moments where I was really having a good time…moments where I was ready to go home…moments where I just needed to be alone…moments where I hated feeling alone. I am extremely glad that I went, but holy shit it was A LOT.

This is the first time that Jason’s parents and his siblings and spouses have done any sort of vacation like this. Unfortunately, not all of them could make it…but hopefully next year, as I’m pretty sure it will become an annual thing. Spending time like that was priceless. I’m sad that they never planned something like this when Jason was alive because he would have absolutely loved it. But, maybe it is one of those things that takes a tragedy to set in motion…when we realize that life is too fleeting to keep putting things off for “next year”.

Being around Jason’s family for that length of time and navigating my place without him was difficult, but they are all fantastic and make me feel like I belong. I loved listening to stories…even heard some new ones I hadn’t before! They aren’t afraid to talk about Jason in front of me…and I LOVE that!

The hardest thing for me by far was just being around couples and how acutely that made me miss Jason’s presence beside me. Just watching all the little things going on around me. The little touches…cuddles…kisses…whispered conversation that couples do. Things they probably didn’t even realize they were doing. I was so jealous of all of that. Sitting by the fire last night I would have given anything to have Jason sitting next to me just to cuddle into his side and lay my head on his shoulder. Just that would have been heaven.

Yesterday was a kind of rainy day and instead of sitting in the cabin the couples paired off and made little plans of their own to do things…spend a little time by themselves. Jason and I would for sure have done the same thing…got out of the cabin for a little bit…found something to do by ourselves…got coffee…gone through a carwash…parked by a lake…who cares what it would have been. And that’s about the time I went into a bit of an emotional tailspin and knew I needed a break. I left the cabin by myself and drove to the lake that Jason and I celebrated our 20th anniversary at…parked at the public fishing pier right by the cabin and fell apart by myself for awhile. Coincidentally, that cabin is for sale so if someone has $250,000 laying around and wants to buy it for me that would be cool. A part of my heart is in that cabin. When I think back to the last time I was happy…it’s always there.

I came back to the cabin and went to my room and filled my head with music for awhile. Then, I was able to get my shit together and had a good time at Carlos Creek Winery and 22 Northmen Brewing Company in the afternoon. Sometimes a good beer or two helps to tone down the “noise” enough that I can interact and have fun. Don’t judge. We all have vices.

Now to get ready for another week ahead. Hopefully my siding will be finished in the next couple days. Would love to put a giant checkmark by that project!

Shenanigans

Saturday Poetry

I was out running errands this morning and suddenly a poem was writing itself in my brain. It’s been awhile since that’s happened. Lately it’s just bits and pieces…nothing coming out whole. So when my plans for the day changed…and I ended up with the rest of the day to myself…I took advantage of the nice day and took my laptop out to my gazebo.

Your Voice

My ears still long to hear
And my heart just can’t let go
Of the words falling from your lips
Engraved forever on my soul.

I don’t remember the first I love you
But I can’t forget the last
Who would have guessed the time between
Would have gone so fast

From “Good morning Babe” each dawn
To “I love you” at days end
All the texts and calls inbetween
Sometimes just a heart and then press send

Our walks in the evenings
“How was your day”
Sharing our stresses-
Suddenly everything is okay

After a long week-
Friday night out with friends
I look in your eyes and they speak to me-
I know how the night will end

And when our heads would share one pillow
Our voices just a whisper
No one else exists
Just us- our dreams and future

And now the silence
It’s deafening
My emotions at war
Loneliness has me spiraling

I try to find some peace
Deep within my psyche
Music and poetry are my saviors
When nothing else gets me

It fills the silence in my head
Puts words to my pain
Keeps me company
Until I hear your voice again

45

Today I turn 45. Jason and I were 42 when he was diagnosed…43 when he died…I survived 44 without him…and now 45.

I used to love my birthday because Jason would make it special for me. He would often take the day off of work just to spend time with me. Waking me up with a kiss on the back of my neck and a “Happy Birthday Babe” in my ear. Making me coffee. Figuring out a plan for the day. Usually it involved hiking in the woods or a daytrip somewhere. Nothing fancy. Sometimes we would go out for hibachi at Osaka with friends. I loved every second of it and would soak it up…filling up my cup of happiness.

And now I’m here…missing him…loving him…wanting him back here with me. This is not what 45 should look like. I don’t feel like going out. I don’t feel like celebrating. So today…on MY day…I am giving myself permission to feel sad. There have been other “special” days recently where I didn’t have the freedom to really feel my own feelings because concern for other people’s feelings crowded my own out. So today my “self-care” is letting myself feel sad.

My day hasn’t been miserable by any means. I got up this morning. Got my workout in. My coworkers treated me well…birthday donuts, cupcake, Caribou. Our kids are all home…although Anna is quarantined in her room with Covid. They bought fancy cupcakes and made a point of wishing me Happy Birthday. One of them even gave me a huge hug. We ordered Thai food for dinner. And now I’m going to drink wine…and just be. Unfortunately, it’s rainy out or I would definitely be by the fire in my gazebo.

My Birthday Hike 2017

September Stress

This has been a week of trying to keep my anxiety and stress from spiraling out of control. I feel like I’m so tightly wound I’m gonna snap. Not sleeping well. And when I do sleep my stress infiltrates my dreams. Horrible.

Work has been really stressful the past two weeks. Lots of changes plus training three new people. My schedule changed, which for the most part has been good because I now have time to work out in the mornings before I start. Best thing ever. Other than the physical benefits it really does wonders for my mental health and gets my mind in a better place before I start work and interacting with people.

My siding project is the biggest mess right now. After waiting…getting pushed back…again…and again…they finally started working on my siding on Monday. They got the back and one side of my house looking like the picture below. I expected them to show up on Tuesday and continue working. No one showed up. Spent the morning trying to contact someone to find out what was going on. Finally got in touch with the guy in the office who said that my sofits were never delivered…so the project has to be stopped until those come. So…who knows when that will be. Why they can’t keep working on the rest I don’t know. He did tell me that a different project manager has been assigned to my project because I’ve been so frustrated with the other one. We’ll see if that helps. Right now I just want my project done and to be done with this company. Then I start to wonder if they treat all their customers this way or if they are just taking advantage of me…super shitty feeling.

Next week I am spending five days in a cabin Up North with my in-laws. I’m looking forward to it, but also getting super anxious about leaving my house….leaving the boys and dogs to take care of each other…this stupid project in limbo…ugh

I have been really enjoying my gazebo this week. I love it when it is chilly enough outside to flip the fire on. I could stare into the flames and listen to music for hours. Almost fell asleep out there the other night all cozy in my rumpl blanket. If you like to spend time outside you should look up rumpl blankets…like wrapping yourself up in a sleeping bag…but awesomer.

Dermot Kennedy has been getting lots of repeats on my playlist lately. Love his gravely Irish accent and the power in his voice. And his lyrics are pure poetry. This version of this song….magical

Origami

Having a rough night to end a rough, rough week. Missing Jason so very much…life is trampling me down and I really need him by my side to boost me back up and remind me that it’s all worthwhile…to give me back my joy…my optimism…my sparkle. I’m tired…something has to change. I’m tired of trying and trying and trying…and faking and faking and faking. Even when I have moments or even days that feel okay they are always followed by a downward plummet…that makes me question whether the okay moments are even worth it. More and more I just want to keep to myself and….I don’t know…just stop…

I’m losing whatever hope I ever had that someday I will make it back to “okay” or even “good”. Every day just…IS…a flat existence…like when Jason died he took a whole dimension of my world…of myself…with him…and now I’m flat…2 dimensional…like paper…easily crumpled…ripped…abused. Every morning I try to give myself dimension…fold myself up like origami…but it doesn’t work for long…I just end up with thousands of extra creases…wearing thinner…more vulnerable. And the struggle is harder the next day.

For those I see during the day…when I’m keeping myself together…they see someone who is “doing fine”….who is “strong”. They all miss the “falling apart” which usually starts on my drive back home…when I can feel my folds coming undone…one…at…a…time…until I walk back into my house that never feels quite like home anymore…and I’m paper-flat once more.

Labor Day Weekend 2022

Weekends are rough…especially holiday weekends. When “everyone else” is doing fun things with family and friends…and I’m staring at a calendar with three full days of “nothing”. And it’s not like we had any big Labor Day tradition…we would have just enjoyed the long weekend in each other’s company…doing whatever we decided to do…whether it was yardwork or going for a hike.

This time the weekend turned out pretty good. Levi’s girlfriend was Up North at the cabin, so he spent most of the day on Saturday and Sunday with me. On Saturday he helped me get my gazebo sanctuary set up. It turned out so good. I am completely happy with it!

It feels very private and peaceful kind of nestled back in the trees. I have birdfeeders and a bird bath back there and have plenty of birds flitting about. The Court 8 sign I brought home from work. A few of our tennis courts were recently converted to pickleball courts. We had some extra court signs so I brought this one home. 8 for August…our anniversary month…and 8 for Jason’s birthday…Oct. 8th.

The firetable is perfect to flip on this time of year when the sun starts going down. I can literally sit out there for hours…or until the mosquitoes chase me in.

Jason would be very happy that I have my gazebo sanctuary back. He knew how much I enjoyed spending evenings out there recharging my batteries with a fire, a book, and a bottle of wine. Sometimes he would be out there with me…at least for a bit…but usually he would head into the house and have some time to himself as well.

On Sunday, I started out my day with breakfast with a friend. Then Levi and I made ribs on the grill and he made Monster Cookies for his girlfriend. She is gluten intolerant and he wanted to make her something without flour so that she could eat it. There are so many times as a parent that I worry that I have “messed up” our kids somehow…watching Levi with his girlfriend is not one of those times. It is one of those times when I am mentally giving Jason a high-five that we did something right in the modeling of a loving relationship to our children. He is the most considerate and respectful of boyfriends…supporting her in her interests…going to her tennis matches…making sure we have food she can eat. They are always smiling and having a good time together.

Today, I spent time with my sister-in-law Jackie. We both appreciate a good hang-out with a few drinks on a patio. She also pulled some weeds with me…says she finds it relaxing…I don’t get it…lol. After she left I hung outside with the dogs…tossed the ball for Emmett about a million times. The new fence is such a game changer!

Back to work and back to school tomorrow. I know it will be a challenging week with the change of routine and trying to find a new rhythm…again. Hopefully, I will also have new siding by the end of the week! I am sooo ready for the house project to be done!

August 26, 2022

Jason and I should be celebrating 22 years together as well as Levi’s 15th birthday. Instead I dragged myself out of bed to make Levi his favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins for breakfast and am crying into my coffee…all alone. Taking a few moments to process my sad before putting on the happy face for Levi for the rest of the day.

Our anniversary was always a “thing” for Jason and I. It never went by without being celebrated. When the kids were young it was sometimes sneaking moments throughout the day or enjoying a glass of wine together after they were in bed. If we were really lucky we could get Uncle Jeremy to come babysit so we could sneak away to dinner. Levi was born on our 7th Anniversary. I think we swapped cards and a kiss and said “All right. Let’s go have a baby”.

Many years we would be up at Ruttgers…Levi loved being up there on his birthday…none of us have even mentioned going again. So many happy memories up there….Facebook has been reminding me of them for days…just too painful to go without Jason.

I told a friend of mine just last weekend that I still feel very much married to Jason. He is still my husband, even though he is no longer here. I can close my eyes and see him looking at me….like no one else in the world existed. I can feel his hand in mine. What his neck felt like against my cold nose. See his smile that lit up my world. So many sights, sounds, smells, textures…all uniquely Jason…bringing back all the happy times we had together…and some sad ones too. I would have happily spent the rest of my life by his side. And now….what?

I get out of bed….get through the next five minutes…the next hour…the next day. I can smile. I can laugh. And every day I go home and I miss him so very badly. I climb into our bed…curl my body away from “his side”….and get up to do the same damn thing the next day.

Happy Anniversary in Heaven Babe. Wish we were dancing together today…

Sanctuary Progress

Today I am happy to report progress on my backyard sanctuary. I came home from work today to find the fence company here finishing up our fence. I am so happy with the way it turned out. It has already made a huge difference in the way I feel both when I am out in our yard and when I look out at our yard.

Coincidentally, our deck/siding project also started today. The first step was removing the old deck. So now we have a fenced in yard and still can’t open the patio door and just let the dogs out…lol. That’s okay…it is no big deal to let them out the door in the back of the garage. It was fun watching them “discover” their whole yard today. Emmett was all about playing fetch and Linc just wanted to explore…he already found the burrs!

I am anxious to get outside now and get my gazebo all set up how I want it. I am confident that we will get so much more enjoyment out of our yard and it will truly become our sanctuary. I see so much potential now in different areas instead of just looking outside and feeling so overwhelmed I was paralyzed. Jason would really love this improvement!

New Things…

I haven’t written in awhile…again. Honestly, I’ve been rethinking my blog…again. When I started the blog it was my outlet for processing my grief and my hope was that doing that would help me heal and would maybe help other people as well…both understand what the kids and I are going through and help friends and family that love us keep in touch. In reality…it has been a great outlet for processing…but I also put a lot of myself out “there” and make myself very vulnerable. In doing that I have opened myself up to a whole new ocean of heartache…when my heart can’t take much more. But….I like to write and I think it does help unravel all the thoughts rolling around in my head…so here I go again…

Last time I wrote it was the first anniversary of Jason’s death. In the widow world we all refer to that day as “Jason’s Day” or “Jeff’s Day” or “Ron’s Day”….it’s just easier. The day went nothing like I expected…mostly because I was focused on other people’s grief instead of my own. The only way I could do that was by forcing down all my sadness that day and focusing on the good. It did help me have a better day. The day after Jason’s Day I was going to have a “me day”. That didn’t happen because Anna ended up with a rare day off of work and her and I spent the day together. That was important…but again…pushed all my sadness down.

If there is one thing that I have learned in the past year it is this: Ignoring Unpleasant Emotions Never Works. Does that mean that I sit around all day being sad? Actually…sometimes yes…I have days where my sadness just cannot be ignored. Where no matter what I try to “do” I find myself back on the couch with my dogs next to me riding out waves of pain…or sleeping the day away off and on just to give myself a break from feeling like shit. But I think it is giving myself permission to do that on those days that helps me function when I need to.

So after pushing my feelings down for a few days after Jason’s Day…all of my grief came rushing back with a vengeance and the past couple weeks have been rough…and most of my grief is coming out all sideways…mostly as anger and hurt…which is even harder to deal with than sadness. And that’s when I find myself wanting to withdraw from the world. Hide myself in my house. Bandage up my heart…again. Build the armor a little bit thicker. Go to a friend’s house…drink too much…rage and cry on her couch.

Thankfully I have friends and family that love me enough not to let me hide too long…and keep me engaged with the world. In the past few weeks I have discovered that I love going to St. Paul Saints baseball games…I went to the Guthrie in Minneapolis to see a play for the first time (Emma…soooo funny)…I went to my first NFL game ever (Vikings vs 49ers) and absolutely loved that as well…I had a great visit with one of my sisters and my nephew and one of my brothers and his family. And after every single one of those fun moments I came home wanting so badly to tell Jason about it and all the pain of my reality came rushing back with a vengeance and really, really sucks. I want to come home giddy from fun times and maybe a little tipsy and cuddle up against his back and wake him up. I just can’t get used to him being gone.

And now it’s been a year…and wow…people have a lot of opinions on how I should feel or what I should do. Things I have heard recently…*I should stop choosing to be sad *I should just keep busy *I should be grateful for what I have *I should be proud of myself *I should focus on the good things every day *I should choose to be happy *Jason wouldn’t want me to be alone so I should look for someone else…melded with I’m too young to be alone for the rest of my life. It is amazing how people who have never gone through anything remotely similar feel as if they are somehow qualified to give me advice. Please don’t do that.

A little update on our kids: Anna is back at school for her Junior year(!)…Seth is starting online classes in a week and has a new girlfriend in Sweden(!)…Levi will be starting his Sophomore year in about 10 days and just took second place yesterday in a pickleball tournament with his girlfriend (pickleball is just for fun…tennis is still his jam). I am so proud of all of them.

Aug 4, 2022–One Year

The day is here…and actually it isn’t hitting me as hard as I anticipated…at least not yet. I think the past two weeks were harder on me…remembering the “beginning of the end” so to speak and all the emotions wrapped up in that.

Today I am focused on honoring his memory with our kids…which for them means doing things he liked to do and eating some of his favorite foods. We are going to spend time this afternoon playing tennis together. Then we are meeting my in-laws for dinner. I am making some of Jason’s favorite desserts to bring along.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at pictures from before Jason was diagnosed…remembering all the happy years we had together. I think we packed more love and happiness in almost 21 years of marriage than a lot of people manage in their lifetimes. I will always feel grateful and lucky that we found each other and had such a happy love-filled life together.

Tomorrow I’m taking a day for myself. My happy place is by water…so I’m going to find some water…try to find my peace and recharge a bit.