Friday, June 13, 2014
So not only is today the 11 month anniversary of losing my dear husband, but it would have been our 26th wedding anniversary. Or "anniversy" as we called it.
Hallmark apparently either invented or cashed in on anniversaries. First one is paper, second one wood, etc….
Well, on our paper anniversary, we bought a new home. Our first together. And we signed LOTS of papers on that date! And as it was being built, we were there every day, watching the progress. When they poured the foundation, we wrote in the cement, as one should, to christen the house.
"Happy First Anniversy"
And here is to many more together!
ABC and KAR
Only afterwards, when we stood grinning, admiring our handiwork, did we realize we'd left out a syllable! Oh, we laughed. Especially thinking how nothing we'd ever done was "cast in cement". Could NEVER say that again….and we could never say Happy AnniversARy again, either… Because Anniversy was cast in cement.
Damn, I miss him.
I have cried for over 24 hours, almost non stop…my eyes look like little slits in a mound of puff. But, this day is drawing to a close. Tomorrow is a fresh start, and I am headed south to visit my dad for Father's Day. Having lost my mom last year, too…he gets it. Sometimes we cry together. Most of the time, we avoid the subject, knowing it it just too painful…
I am overall doing well. Went on a second "first date" He is allegedly only 4 years older than I, yet I felt like I was out with one of my dad's friends. We'd bantered, joked, and talked for hours on the phone prior to meeting face to face. He had a rich, deep voice, and was so funny. Made me feel good to laugh….until we met. Both of us had great expectations. He was too old. I was too fat. And chemistry was about a negative 2. But, as it often does, good triumphed. We mutually decided, that since it was very clear we have no attraction to each other, we can really just be friends, and we still chat on the phone. And it is SO nice just to have dinner with a low voice.
I ate horrible these past two days. Reverted back to lousy coping skills. But I DID meet with my trainer today…and upped my workout program. New machines, lots of additional exercises. Where I used to do 10-20 pounds, I now can do anywhere from 20-80, depending on the body part being worked. And she recommended doing 5 minutes of cardio, then three machines, then 5 more minutes cardio, then three more machines, and so on….interval training. To increase calorie burn when doing weights. I will begin counting calories again tomorrow. And will see if I can access a gym in SoCal while I am gone. If not, it will be walk, walk, walk… and my table leg lifts, stretching and so on…
I refuse to be alone the rest of my life. And I realize if I don't like my body this way, no one else will either… not what I want to believe, but reality.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
In many ways.
And there are reasons and/or excuses.
First of all, this past weekend was the 27th anniversary of when we met. It was at the annual Sacramento Jazz Festival. I was with a girlfriend, and we had to find separate seats because the venue was so crowded. I helped her find one, because I'd seen the band before. I found one for me…straddling a tent pole, but I was desperate. "Excuse me, Sir. Is that seat taken?" And that is how the love story began. The seat WASN'T occupied til I sat down. The man sitting next to me and I saw a couple of good seats open up and we ran to them, spent the rest of the day together. My friend thought he was "So cute, perfect for you…" and went home after just a couple of hours. He and I ended up going to after event jam session and finally at 5:00 am. he took me back to my car. He called a couple of days later to wish me a happy birthday, and the rest is history….
So I was dealing with all the memories of that day and the subsequent festivals we attended together. And the 15 years we worked as bartenders there. One excuse down.
Then, there was the meteor shower. Many years, on August 12/13 he and I would head out to watch the Perseid showers... Into the mountains, to the coast or some other remote dark place and lay in the back of pickup trucks, in the middle of a meadow, on the beach or in a campsite with our eyes on the sky. We saw shooting stars galore together and even a fireball one time. And always oohed and aaaahed when we saw a tail! Oh, we loved those summer nights. So this past Friday night, when we were bombarded again with meteors, the memories came flooding in.
And then, it is my birthday in a couple of days. My first in 27 years without him. Almost more than I can bear to think of… He always did something to make me feel special, beautiful, and to remind me of how much he loved me. Sometimes it was hokey and sometimes romantic, but it was always heartfelt. And I will miss that so much this year….
And then of course, today is my mom's birthday. Just two days before my own. And all those years I had to share birthdays with her. I hated them when I was young. Always wanting my own. And now, I would give anything to have her here, so that we could cut a cake together once again.
But most of all, I missed him at the benefit walk yesterday. I went with my neighbors, and a group from his office. I only did the 3K walk. It was that, or a 10K or 5K RUN, neither of which I could do. I felt strong and easily could have done a 5K walk if it had been an option. My teensy Tiger Lily walked with me the entire time…except for about the last 30 feet. She just sat down and quit. So I carried her until we were just about to cross the finish line, and she did it on her own, with lots of cameras clicking her picture. It was darling. But darn. I missed having my hubby there. We walked together so many times… for Alzheimer's, MS, Aids, Breast Cancer, Cerebral Palsy and so on. Always considered it a win win. We donated our money and time, and we had a great time while exercising. I tried to envision him walking beside me yesterday, and I found tears flowing down my face. Fortunately is was hot, and they dried quickly.
Oh, there was one other thing… I ushered at a music concert with title prodigies blowing away the patrons. I was talking to this nervous little 9 year old boy (watch for Ian Ng. he will be famous one day) before he went on stage. When he went up, I was rooting for him, hoping he'd get through it without a mistake…well, he sat down and literally brought me to tears with his performance of Chopin's "Fantasie" Impromtu, Opus 66.
My husband and I were blessed enough to have a nearly personal (there were only six of us) Chopin concert in Warsaw several years ago, and I hadn't heard this played since then. And this little boy was as good as the Chopin specialist we heard in his very home town…
So the weekend was filled with lots of tears. I was overwhelmed with feelings like "I can't go on anymore. I don't want to do this. I am exhausted and want my old life back. I can no longer face the future on my own. I fail at everything I do…including my emotional healing." and so on. It was pretty brutal.
And I ate. I feel so fat, and ugly and old. And worthless and numb and empty.
I just want to get through the next few days. My friends have been wonderful. Three birthday celebrations so far. And two more this week, and one scheduled for next week. I know I "should" be honored to have so many people care for me, and wallowing in my own pity is "shameful" I also know there are no "shoulds" or "shame on yous" or anything like that on this journey of grief. Most of the time it is better. Just happened to stumble into another valley…and am looking for the trail out of it.
This time, chocolate did not help at all. Period. And I have exercised almost every day. And it hasn't helped either. Guess it is just time that will do the trick…
Monday, May 12, 2014
Sometimes it seems like a split second. Sometimes like an eternity… Much of the time I look back and it is a blur.
The "widow's fog" as they say…. and indeed. I have lapses in my memory of those first several months. Occasionally I will read something I wrote, and the pain of it comes swooping over me with such intensity I can hardly bear it. Reliving the loss is just too ugly. Most people tell me I am "doing great!". Some say, "just get on with it…" and others never mention it…act like he never existed. None of that matters. I know I am doing what I know to do without a rulebook, a lesson plan, or any kind of structure…grief is not like that. There ARE no rules. One just does what one does to get through the rest of their life.
I am able now, to smile inside. To actually feel the joy I missed for so long. I never thought I would again.
I still have those rogue waves sweep over me from time to time…as I did a couple of days ago. My granddaughter was testing for her MMA (mixed martial arts) black belt, and a woman was sharing how helpful MMA was after the loss of her daughter in a car accident 10 years ago. How she has yet to get over it. How just getting up, going to the gym, and working out helped her. How being surrounded by friends that became family for her sustained her when she didn't want to go on. And of course, in front of about 900 people, I felt the meltdown coming on…my lip was quivering, my body began to shake, and then the tears. Like someone opened up the flood gate. And I wanted to run, run away from the crowd, the lights, the noise, and the energy in the room. I wanted to retreat to a very private place where I could wail and sob and carry on without witnesses. Instead, I was trapped in crowded bleachers (So steep that I needed my son to help me get up and down the stairs) feeling overwhelmed, helpless and humiliated. DON'T show your weakness in front of these Black Belted Warriors! And I couldn't stop….the tears began to flow…it was awful. But out of nowhere, my son and youngest granddaughter showed up, each sitting on one side of me, forming a protective cacoon in which I could hide…Now, I know, like anything else, it was not as obvious on "the outside". No one turned to stare. No one was gawking at me in disbelief. The woman's story was touching. Many people had tears in their eyes. Her grief was profound. And I realized how very blessed I am. My grief is also profound. And I too, have friends and family that have stepped up to help me through this difficult time. And my son. Whew. We had a heart to heart a while back, after he told me he and his wife didn't like to be around me, because they thought I enjoyed feeling sad. Right. ENJOY this? Nope. Not at all. I fight it, and try to hide it, and do everything I can to avoid it. And I laid it on him… And was more honest than I think I have ever been with him. And you know what? He HEARD me. He has been amazing ever since. He actually tunes into my grief, and my joy and my very essence now. And he was never more appreciated than he was at that moment Saturday night.
I am blessed to be his mom.
So, I made it through another "holiday". I ate too much for breakfast…and felt lousy all day. But I gave myself permission before I started, knowing i probably would feel icky afterwards. Now, when I say too much? It is still WAY less than I would have eaten a month ago.
I am down 10 pounds. Yup. TEN POUNDS! Back to where I was ten months ago. When Alan died. I know it is mostly water weight, but I will take water, fat, anything…I am doing it right. Eating enough. And eating clean. AND kicking up the exercise. Painful as that is…
I have had two cups of coffee today. And am rambling. Random thoughts. And fingers moving at high speed. There is no one to talk to in the house, so I ramble on line. ha ha ha ha ha….
On and On Anon? OAOA? I am ready. "Hello. My name is Kathy. I go on and on…."
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
OK. FUNNY story…
My sister (who lives about 25 miles away) called me last night while she was walking with a neighbor. The neighbor is also a "single senior" and has, over the years, dated several men off dating websites. So my sister was sharing my first experience in the online dating world…and it ended up, that this woman KNEW the man I went out with! What a small world. Evidently, she worked with him about 20 years ago, but is close friends with his best friend….
The bottom line is? His best friend complained to my sister's neighbor that the guy is driving him crazy, because he is always calling him, asking him for a ride. And was wondering why he doesn't just get a driver's license and a car! ha ha ha ha! Sure good for a laugh….and an awareness of how interconnected all our lives are! Small world...
Now, I still think that, even though I am still gagging over that meal, it was a huge and wonderful experience. Based on that, I've taken actions on the decisions I made.
I have counted every calorie (still works best for me…) and every bite I have eaten. I have stayed within my calorie range for 6 out of 7 days, and only 100 calories over on the other one. I am eating 100% clean food. Cutting out most processed foods, and high carb items. Mainly organic fruits veggies and meat (organic, ethically raised) and eggs from my neighbor's chickens. Who are definitely free range (as noted when I find them in my yard from time to time…)
I am through with the detox. Headache, lightheadedness and mild nausea are gone. I'm walking at least a mile every day…very slowly, and often quite painfully, but I am doing it. And I am now am adding swimming to the work out schedule at least 3x week. AND am meeting with my trainer at the gym again on Thursday.
I have stepped up volunteer work.
And something happened that really has taken me by surprise. I felt it come on on suddenly, and with such acute awareness that it was almost shocking. My husband has "settled" into a private place in my heart. It is very weird, but truly wonderful. It is like he moved into a room, then closed and locked the door. I really "get it". The fact that people LIVE in your heart! I can literally feel him there. And talk to him. His words and support still guide me. I can whisper to him and giggle silently with him. I can share my secrets with him…and no one else has to know. It is just between us. There is a new sense of comfort and gratitude that exists now. Because I KNOW he is never really leaving me….And now that he claimed his space and has taken up permanent residence, I can open up the rest of the heart…and know that it will be ok. Because he is comfy and warm and safe, and will be there to protect me.
At nine months, and 24 days, I beginning to feel alive.
My next goal is to spend 1/2 hour a day tackling the mess I have allowed my house to become. Baby steps...
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Yup. Depressed. For nine months, 16 days, and 15 hours.
At first it was the shock, the numbness, the fear, the panic, the paranoia and the confusion...then as reality set it, I began to find myself in the midst of major howling, wailing, falling to the floor screaming meltdowns. A state of surrealism. Of total detachment. And the confusion persisted. After a few months, the isolation and withdrawal set in. I no longer wanted to be around people. I no longer wanted to get dressed, brush my teeth or my hair. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch with the remote control and food. Then, I began faking it, wearing the mask of pretense so that everyone else would think I was "OK". In all of this, I have become sedentary, lethargic, and very, very lazy. My weight is up again, which only makes it all the more difficult. And with the recent injuries, I have been finding I can use that for an excuse. But I know, deep in my heart, otherwise. It is simply that. Excuses.
I woke up a few days ago, and realized that I am suffering from a major depressive disorder. Yup. All the symptoms are there. And although common, and justified, after such a horrific year...it is not pleasant or easy to exist this way.
The house is a pig sty. Not the part that the "public" sees...but the private areas. I need a hoarding intervention for the bedroom! There are piles everywhere. and the bathroom has no clean counter space! And the office....disorganized stacks of papers everywhere. I cannot find anything. I am losing stuff that is really important. But until now, I have been paralyzed. Not able to physically, or mentally, attack these rooms or get rid of the stuff that I need to. I cannot believe I live like this. In a state of such filth and disarray.
But I have been. And it must stop.
One of the things I have heard over the years, is that when you make external changes, it is a reflection of what is going on internally. I see that I have allowed myself to wear my depression, my apathy, and my lack of self worth on the outside of my body, and it has spilled into "my places" in my home. All the negative changes that have taken place internally are beginning to show.
I woke up yesterday, and realized I cannot go on like this. I have longevity in my genes, and could easily live another 20 good years. So do I want to live them like a slob? Alone? Wheel chair bound? in a nursing home? Or do I want to restore my health, my happiness, a sense of reasonable order in my life?
I do NOT want to be alone, but when I look in the mirror now, I simply see a fat white blob looking back at me. I have no color in my skin. My eyes are puffy (yes, I still cry every day) and there is no light in them. My wrinkles look very deep. The cellulite is not just in my butt or my thighs, it is in the arms, and everywhere. My neck "waddle" is wagging at me...so WHO would want to share life with someone like me in this condition. No one.
I'll never have beautiful skin again. I'll have baggy legs, arms and belly... But I will be able to do a lot of the things I used to be able to do without struggling. Walk, dance, swim, snorkel, bike and perhaps even kayak and raft once again. The days of playing tennis, baseball and racquetball, of backpacking and jogging are behind me...but, that's ok. Because someone else my age probably can't do them all either!
I'm not in a hurry. Because I know climbing out of this abyss of depression is not going to be easy. And making those external changes will not happen over night. But I am starting. And it will be worth it in the long run.
Counted calories yesterday for the first time since my husband died. Tracking food for the second day today. Cut my hair. Walked 1.87 miles this morning. Heating the pool tomorrow. Cleaned the kitchen and folded four loads of laundry last night. I am on my way.
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