The Spaces

I know I haven’t been writing much. Life is kicking my butt and I’ve been busy constantly taking care of “stuff”. I did manage to cross two things off my list. First and foremost, I fixed my own dishwasher!! Yes…I had some suggestions of what to do from my boss, but I fixed the damn thing! Luckily, the only tools I needed were a screwdriver and a shopvac. Super gross moment when I stuck the hose in the gross dishwasher water and accidentally “blew” it instead of “sucked” it all over myself….who knew the shopvac could even do that?? Second, Seth’s car is all fixed from the hail damage…and now mine is having it’s turn so we are still down a car…but progress is being made.

Other things that happened this week. I got estimates for two types of siding for my house…so now I’m trying to decide which one to go with….ugh…I hate making those types of decisions. The insurance adjuster was out looking at my house. He took a lot of pictures, so hopefully that’s a good sign. I paid the downpayment on my fence, so now I have to get the fence line cleared before Aug 1. Yikes! I also had a weird bug that seemed to really only involve a fever. Woke up Wed morning at 1am with a fever of 101. Fevers make my body and mind do weird things and I hate them. But luckily tylenol and ibuprofen did the trick and now I’m fine. And last, but not least, Levi got All Conference for Tennis. There wasn’t a ceremony…he was just modeling his new dress clothes…lol

Today was kind of a quiet and lonely day. Went to breakfast with the kids this morning and then Anna and I went to Barnes and Noble. I picked up a couple fantasy books and a couple poetry books. Really wanted to find a good fiction book I could lose myself in today, but it hasn’t really worked. Mostly I’ve had this poem writing itself in my head all day. Maybe now that it’s out I can read…ha!

The Spaces

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
The space to my left
Where you would walk each evening
My hand in your elbow
Pups along at our sides
Tongues hanging out
Happy to be alive.

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
Beside me in the car
Your hand on my thigh
Mine tracing your thumbnail
That weird flat spot
Didn’t matter where we were going
You and me on a drive.

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
The smell of tennis balls
The “pop” of a forehand
A fistpump
Look to the sideline
I give a grin
Happy to be your biggest fan.

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
Sitting together
Cuddled on the couch
Wine in hand
Long day unwinding
At peace with my man.

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
Together watching our kids
The games and the matches
Band concerts
Marching band shows
Proudest of parents.
It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
Ree and Jas
Out with friends
Dinner and drinks
The smiles and laughs
Carefree and happy
Cherished moments.

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
In that drowsy time
Between asleep
And awake
Spooned into your body
Complete contentment
No one else exists.

It’s in the spaces
That I miss you.
Where only you belong
Now I struggle
To make sense of life
Where your light
Was bright
Now darkness.

Memorial Weekend

It has been a busy, busy week. Levi wrapped up his tennis season playing singles in Individual Sections on Tuesday and Thursday. He won both of his matches on Tuesday and then lost against the #1 kid in the State on Thursday. I think that loss only showed him the things that he needs to keep working on and added fuel to his fire. We were both really sad that he couldn’t share this tennis moment with his Dad, but he does have a lot of support and had a phenomenal group of guys there cheering him on. These guys have been steadfast in supporting my family these past two years. They put up with me daily…and make sure my boys are okay and get plenty of opportunities for good tennis.

My parents also came on Thursday just in time to watch Levi’s match and are with us this weekend. It has been great having them here. They helped me get my garage cleaned out so I can actually park the cars in there again. Yeah!! I’ve been dealing with the insurance company for hail damage to my cars and roof from a storm about three weeks ago and really don’t want to go through all that hassle again! We also took a walk to Jason’s bench, went to a garden center, and my sister and her family came over for pizza last night. It’s been a good weekend.

This week I have a landscaper and a fence company coming to give me estimates and ideas for my yard. Right now when I look out at my yard all I feel is stress because I see all the work that needs to be done. I want my yard to be more of a sanctuary for my family. Where we can just hang out together…eat outside…have fires…let the dogs run around. I also have a dream of having a “me spot”…a place where I can drink my morning coffee…or a glass of wine in the evening…write…maybe some sort of water fountain…hammock…pergola maybe. We’ll see. Jason gave me my gazebo to be that place for me before, but now that the gazebo is worn out I need a more permanent place. It’s also something I can feel a little excited about, which honestly, is a feeling I don’t feel much anymore. I either absolutely don’t want to do things, or I tolerate things….and those things usually only with a few drinks. So a project that makes me feel excited and gives me something to look forward to feels really good right now.

Unexpected Triggers

Today was Levi’s last match of the season with Eastview. He still has Individual Sections next week…so more tennis for him to play…but his team is done. They played Benhilde-St. Margaret. He played a great match and won at 3 singles, but his team ended up losing 3-4. They had a really good season…although the weather could’ve been better at the beginning of the season especially!

Jeremy came to watch today. He walked into the spectator area with a woman that looked very familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her until he said…”Did you recognize who I walked over with? Jason’s partner…” And then the light went on. Sarah that Jason had played mixed doubles with at the last National’s Tournament that he played in November 2019. She was the Mom of one of the players on the Benhilde-St Margaret team. I didn’t know her as well as some of his other partners, but the fact that she was there nagged at my brain and my emotions the whole match.

When the match was over I went up to her and introduced myself. She already knew who I was and gave me a big hug and asked how we were doing. I got teary-eyed and had to put a huge effort into holding back sobs. Unusual for me. I don’t know if it was seeing her unexpectantly…or memories that came up…a combination…but damn that was hard on me. I told her we were hanging in there…still doing a lot of tennis. She commented on how well Levi played and I said “He’s a lot like his Dad and if there is one thing I know Jason would approve of it’s tennis. So here we are”. And then I said my goodbyes and got out of there before I turned into a mess on the court.

Unexpected triggers are hard. It’s like my legs get swept out from under me and I just can’t find my footing or my breath for a bit. Most of my days I have my guard up and I’m better prepared…like when I’m at work…most of the time my emotions are battened down tight. Today…watching my kid play…not so much.

And it’s a Wednesday…I don’t count the weeks anymore….but every single Wednesday I think “Jason died on Wednesday”.

Jason and Sarah at the National Tennis Campus in Orlando Nov 2019

Most Improved Player

Last week in therapy we talked a lot about how humans have the ability to feel multiple emotions at a time…sometimes very strong emotions…sometimes emotions that are complete opposites of each other. She was asking me to rate on a scale of 0-10 how often I have felt certain emotions or how strong certain emotions have been in the past week….happy, hopeful, hopeless, sad, anxious, irritated, lonely, etc.

So often the times when I would say I am feeling the happiest…I am also feeling so incredibly sad. Today is one of those days. Levi wrapped up the regular season for tennis and brought home the award for Most Improved Player. I am so happy for him and so proud of him. He worked incredibly hard all year…private lessons, drills, matchplay, etc. He never hung his racquet up or took a break…just kept grinding. He just loves the game so much and wants to play the best that he can, not only for himself, but for his team. And while I am so happy….I am so sad because his Dad isn’t here to share this moment. And it’s moments like these where I feel like praise from his Dad would mean so much more than praise from me.

Numb Little Bug

Every time I feel like I must have finally hit rock bottom, nope, somehow my mood keeps getting lower. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I sit on the couch every morning talking myself into getting up and going to work. On the way to work I fight to get my “work face” on….the one that says everything is fine to the outside world. Everyday that gets a little harder. I enjoy seeing my friends at work, but by the time the end of the day comes I am just exhausted from all the “people-ing”. I had to step away from my desk today because two couples were standing by my desk talking about someone they know who was just diagnosed with brain cancer. The way they were talking about it, I knew it had to be glioblastoma. Of course, they had no idea their conversation was bothering me and I was about to lose my shit. On the drive home my “work face” falls off and my mood plummets. I get home, but it doesn’t feel like home anymore without my person.

It’s Levi’s tennis season right now, so I’ll go to his matches if I can. I am so proud of how well he is playing…but to say it is hard for me to watch him is an understatement. Most of the time I get teary-eyed because Jason isn’t there to watch. Damn…he would be so proud of Levi right now. Sometimes I wish the boys didn’t like to play tennis, just because watching them is so emotional for me…but then I’m also so glad that they will always have that connection to their Dad. He definitely passed on his love of the sport to them.

Then I get home…probably order something for dinner. I rarely cook anything anymore. Have a drink…or two. Play piano…listen to music…write….wander around the house…doze on the couch as I put off going to bed alone. Going to bed alone sucks…really, really bad. I have to be exhausted before I even try to sleep. I can only sleep on my left side…facing away from Jason’s side of the bed…or on my stomach…again with my face away from his side of the bed. I just can’t face the emptiness on the other side. I sleep better if I can get Linc to sleep in bed with me…but either way it is a lot of waking up and mind-spinning restless nights.

Sometimes I go out with friends…but they aren’t the same friends I went out with before. One of the things I am really struggling with right now is interacting with people my own age. The reminder of what my life should be like right now, with my husband, is extremely difficult. For example, I really like Levi’s girlfriend’s family, but being around them is really, really hard. I get anxiety about it and feel really uncomfortable. I spend a lot of the time feeling like I’m not even in my body and am watching the whole thing from up above myself. It’s had for me to concentrate on conversation and I feel myself closing up and getting really quiet. Going out with younger work friends or my widow friends is easier, but still has it’s difficult moments for sure.

There’s this song by Em Beihold called “Numb Little Bug” that I heard on the radio the other day. A lot of the lyrics of the song resonate very strongly with me…especially the refrain. “Do you ever get a little big tired of life? Like you’re not really happy, but you don’t wanna die. Like you’re hanging by a thread but you gotta survive….gotta survive. Like your body’s in the room but you’re not really there. Like you have empathy inside, but you don’t really care”. Yeah….I feel you Em.

Sometimes I wonder if I am remembering accurately how great Jason was and how happy we were together, but no…he wasn’t perfect…I am far from perfect…but we were perfectly happy together. He could make anything from a rainy Saturday morning to a shitty day at work to having to put our dog to sleep bearable. There wasn’t a pain he was unable to soothe…except for now.

Tennis Romance

Levi and his girlfriend are so freaking adorable I can’t even stand it. I am so proud of him and so happy that he is happy. And then I see the way he loves spending time with her and her parents…who all play tennis…and are a whole family…with a tennis-playing Dad…and damn…that pain is real.


An addition to our house arrived today in the form of a “new to us” piano! None of us really play piano yet, but Levi has been learning on his keyboard and I am looking forward to learning how to play something more than “Ode to Joy” as well. I have been having a hard time getting into any of the hobbies I had before and need a new past time. I think she looks beautiful against our newly-painted walls.

Music has always spoken to me, but it has become a huge part of my days the past eight months. Frank Ocean said, “When you’re happy, you enjoy the music but when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics”. That is so very true. Songs that I have heard a million times can now bring me to tears. And listening to “happy” music right now is impossible for me. I just don’t feel it. The playlists that Spotify customizes for me based on my music preferences are probably not something most people would enjoy…but they get me where I’m at right now. In music I find my kindred spirit…that some person out there in this world who gets it. Well, that and poetry…of course. And bonus…Emmett seems to like the piano!

Today I went to watch Levi play his high school match. He is playing 3 singles this year. It was his second match of the season, but the first that I have watched. He played at Bloomington South. It was emotional for me to go watch him on a few levels. One…Jason would have loved being there watching him play. One of his greatest joys in life is watching his boys play tennis. He would have been so proud of the work that Levi has put into his tennis game this past year to reach his goal of being put into the singles line up. Two…going to Bloomington South…especially the back a huge emotional trigger for me. In fact, it almost prevented me from going to watch him today. I almost went home instead. I spent so much time sitting on those bleachers watching Jason play USTA matches. I really miss watching him play. He was so fun to watch. His love for the sport came through in the way he played. He also loved it when I would come watch him. He would always try to get put on a court where I would have the best view.

Tomorrow, Anna is coming home for the weekend. I am looking forward to having the kids all home for a couple days.

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.

Tennis in the Bubble

Today I am so thankful for my coworkers who had me laughing hysterically more than once today. I think we were all a little high off of paint fumes…but that’s beside the point. We closed our courts today until next Thursday to convert 2 tennis courts into 8 pickleball courts and then resurface the remaining 8 tennis courts. It is a big project that was announced with essentially zero warning and has been accompanied by ever-changing details and timeline….thus the added job stress the past couple weeks. It will be great when it’s done I’m sure…

Because our courts are closed, Levi had his tennis lesson at the Bloomington South location tonight. It was harder than I thought to sit and watch him. I watched Jason play oodles and oodles of matches on those courts. I miss watching him play so bad. He was always in his element out on the tennis court and I was always so proud to be his wife. It is fun to watch Levi play too…even though it was just a lesson today.

There are some snowflakes coming down with the rain tonight. I asked Seth before he left for work if he has a snowbrush in his Dad’s car. Jason was always the one that made sure a snowbrush was in mine when the flakes started to fly….

Saturday Vibes

Today felt like a productive day…which is a good thing. I get stuck in “grief paralysis” so often that I feel like I do nothing and end up just frustrated with myself. I started the day out with a haircut. On my way home I decided to text the boys and see if they wanted to go out for breakfast…I thought we could visit one of my friends from my counseling group that works at Original Pancake House. Apparently everyone had the same idea this morning as there wasn’t even any street parking available in front of that restaurant! We ended up at Perkins instead. It was still good starting out the weekend with my boys…we might make Saturday morning breakfast a tradition! Whenever we eat at home I get like 15-20 minutes of interaction out of them before they are back in their rooms. Hanging out with Mom is not a teenage boy priority…who knew? LOL

When we got home I got stuck for a bit…sat on the couch…couldn’t move to do anything. Then I decided I could clean the kitchen because it is the least “Jason” room in the house. That felt really good! I disposed of a huge bag of meds and decluttered all the countertops. Now I’m looking around on Etsy for some cute “coffee bar” wall thing or something to put up. Maybe if I start in the easier rooms and work my way up I’ll be able to tackle our bedroom in a few years.

The dogs were excited to go for a walk today. It was so nice out…I tried to get them to stop so that we could take a selfie together. Well that didn’t work much…

Levi also played tennis today. He played pretty well and won his matches. He struggled a bit in the first match but I was really proud of how he hung in there and came from behind to win! It is also great to see how he is thinking out there on the court and not just trying to hit the ball as hard as he can every time. He is using a lot more strategy in his game and coming up to the net a lot more. Jason would have loved some of his volleys and points up at the net today.

All in all it felt like a pretty good day!