Today is Thanksgiving Day which, in North America, is an annual national holiday that commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, and is held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November.
Although the year 2013 started out quite rocky for me, as this day of thanks rolls around, and the year comes to a close, I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.
Being that I am celebrating this holiday with my boyfriend George and his family, my time to sit and write is limited this morning. Having said that, I have decided to simply create a short but meaningful list of things for which I am thankful for.
- My boyfriend George, who has made me realize that I could fall in love again and who shows me love, kindness, and caring every single day we are together
- My goldendoodle Belle who loves unconditionally every moment of her fuzzy life.
- Good friends (especially the ones who went beyond the “call of duty” to help me through one of the toughest times in my life. I won’t list any names, but you KNOW who you are and I love you more than words can EVER say!)
- My job (which also includes my bosses and co-workers who are a wonderful group of people)
- My home (having a place to live, a roof over my head and a safe place to live is truly a blessing)
- My family (especially my brother Jeff who has always been there for me no matter what! I love you Jeff!)
- My inner strength (that I didn’t know that I had)
- My health (while it is not perfect, overall I am healthy, and I pray for those who are battling illness)
- My car (although this is a material thing, having a friend who is currently without a vehicle has made me realize that this is something for which I should be thankful)
- My parents who raised me to be a moral and kind person with good values
- Food (in my freezer and fridge) because so many people are hungry and that should never happen in this day and age
- Freedom (the power or right to act, speak, or think as I choose without hindrance or restraint)
- Being an American (while this country has definite issues, and our Government and “Big Corporations” leave a lot to be desired, I would not want to live in any other country — except maybe Bermuda in a Pink House)
- My new family (also known as George’s family who have accepted me and welcomed me)
There are so many other reasons for which I am thankful, but these are the main ones. I’m really very fortunate, and having said that, my heart hurts for those people and pets who are alone and have nothing this holiday season.
Wishing all my friends and family a very Happy Thanksgiving! May you have food on your table, loved ones to spend time with each and every day, and happiness and love in your life!!!
Let me preface this by saying that I am the happiest I have been in a long time. However, that does not preclude the fact that life takes twists and turns that are both good and bad, expected and unexpected. As I posted before, and updated many times on Facebook (for those of you who follow my posts), I am dating again, and things have gotten pretty serious. And if you have been following along, you also know that George and I got into a jet ski accident, and in that accident, he tore up his knee.
Yesterday George had his first surgery to repair the damage. The surgery reconstructed his Lateral Collateral Ligament, repaired the muscles and tendons, and decompressed and removed scar tissue from the peroneal nerve (which controls the foot movement). There was about a four-inch section of the nerve that was scarred. The nerve itself was not torn, but it was all stretched out and twisted up with the damaged ligaments, tendons and muscles. The doctor said that it would have been better if it had torn. The stretching will take a VERY long time to heal (if it actually heals on its own). The nerves regenerate at about 1 mm per day which equates to about 1 inch a month. The nerve will need to regenerate from the site of injury which is close to the knee cap and go all the way down to the big toe. That’s going to be a lot of healing time. The doctor told us that there is a 50/50 chance of recovery on its own. If it does not show improvement (after a nerve test is performed), they will consider tendon transfer surgery as another option.
This morning the occupational therapist came in to see George to teach him how to move around without putting any weight on his leg. He will be using a walker because he does not want to use crutches. There is a chance he will get out of the hospital today, and his mom will simply drive him to my home, and I will meet them there rather than driving back up to University Hospital in Newark to go get him.
He will be staying at my home for the majority of his recovery. We all decided that it would be best for him because I have a single floor home so there are no stairs. I am close enough to my office so that I can be home for lunch and get home if he needs me. He also expressed that he wants to be with me, so we think that will help his recovery.
So how do I really feel about this? Well, I never EVER thought that I would be back in the shoes of being a caregiver only 8 months (6 if you consider that the accident happened in August) after Mark died. It was not something that I even considered at this point, But as the saying goes, “shit happens.”
After much thinking about this whole situation from different points of views, I have realized that I am fine with taking care of George while he is recovering. I never ever hated caring for Mark. That was never the issue. Yes, it was exhausting. It was demanding. It was lonely (only because I had ZERO support from his family). But I did it for about six years. I was very good at it. I was patient (about 95% of the time) and even though I needed to vent (which is completely normal), I knew it was what I wanted and needed to do.
I love George, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he loves me. And with that being said, I am ready, willing, and able to take care of him. It is what I want to do. It is what I need to do. And it is going to be what I WILL do. I will adapt… (so haters, just deal with it!)
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I am ready to face it head on. In the last six weeks (since the jet ski accident), I have realized the extent of my relationship with George. We have become very close on many different levels. We have pushed through the fears, and we have learned the fine art of trusting another person implicitly. Not only did I gain a boyfriend, but I also gained a family. I have been spending quite of lot of time with George’s mom and she is a wonderful person. I feel like I can talk to her. We have shared a lot and the best part is that we can laugh. She has a great sense of humor, and when we laugh, we laugh so hard that tears roll down our cheeks! Even George’s dad is a good guy. He is a typical man and he is rough around the edges, but he has been very kind to me as well.
With a full day of sitting in a hospital, we all did a lot of talking together. Mostly it was me and his mom, Sue, but his dad, George (although in conversation I refer to him as “Big George”) often talked as well. I’ve come to realize that I am completely accepted into the immediate family. Both of George’s parents are great to me, and I feel very comfortable with them. They both told me that they are happy that George has found someone like me. From what I have been told, his previous girlfriends left a lot to be desired, and the ones that his parents knew about, they were not very thrilled with. They have expressed to me that they would love for me to continue to be part of their family. They are appreciative that I am so involved in George’s care. I must reiterate that I am happy that I have a gained a family!
I did really feel bad for Sue yesterday because when we were getting George prepped for surgery, they only allowed one person at a time to be in the surgical prep area at a time. George requested that I come in first. I wanted to switch out so his mom could get a chance to spend some time with her son, but George wanted me to stay with him. I didn’t want to “step on toes” by not letting his mom get her share of time. When they took George back to surgery, I went out to the waiting room and apologized to Sue for not letting her have her time. She was not upset, and she was happy that he was with someone who loved him, and that he was calm and happy with me there.
Another time I expressed that I did not want to step on toes by going along to all of George’s doctor appointments and consults. I told Sue that I was appreciative that she didn’t mind that I went along. She told me that she and Big George were appreciative of ME for wanting to be a part of George’s care.
I am guessing all is good in this case. I just never want to be disrespectful or step on the toes of his family. But then again, George is a grown man, and he can say who he wants in the room with him and who he wants to take care of him. I do feel honored (is that the right word???) that he wants to be with me as opposed to his family. (But then again, that “Jewish Guilt” makes me feel badly for his mom and dad!)
As far as being a caregiver goes, I thought long and hard about what I am doing. I know that with the three broken bones in my own foot (yes, originally there were two, but the fifth metatarsal broke in another place, and now I am in an air cast for EIGHT WEEKS) I need to take care of myself. I know that I need to stay healthy and get my rest. I know that I need to function and life does not stop just because I am taking care of someone. I know that some of you are wondering why I would care for George when he is not my husband. I know that taking care of someone who is sick or injured is tough. Yet, as I can personally attest, caring for someone is one of THE most rewarding and selfless things a person can do for someone he/she loves. It is the epitome of love. And love is what George and I share.
It’s hard to keep up with the pace in which my life is changing these days. In so many ways, my life has gotten better and simpler. I’m actually having fun for the first time in many years! I’m actually getting out and doing things this summer. I’ve been to the movies about half a dozen times, I have gone out for dinner (to various places including my local Italian place, Friendly’s, and a high end Steak House in northern New Jersey) and hit up several Dairy Queen’s for my most favorite snack of soft serve ice cream cones. And I’ve gone out on a jet ski!! I have George to thank for all of this! It’s been almost 3 months of us being together, and we are settling into a routine of comfort and caring, which we are both enjoying!
Yesterday I spent the day with my dear friends JS and GS who live about 45 minutes away from me. It was a fun day of food, talking and a 3D movie. It was wonderful to see them, and I look forward to seeing them again soon!! If the weather is nice, I am going to go tubing in the Delaware River with GS. I would have loved for JS to go with us, but she is recovering from surgery, and tubing would be a very bad idea!! As I drove to their house, I was acutely aware of how far I have stepped out of my comfort zone in the past seven months. I can remember being paralyzed with fear when it would come to driving to places I’ve never been. Now that seems to be a fear that I have conquered since I’ve driven to Jackson, NJ, Little Ferry, NJ and Exton, PA. I don’t know how I overcame the fears, but I think it is combination of necessity and the fact that I don’t have someone putting negativity in me. I used to think I was being supported by Mark, but in a way, he was stifling me to keep me from doing those things that would free me from my fears. Didn’t realize it until just recently, and I didn’t like what I realized.
Yet, even with all the fun I have been having, I am acutely aware of the magnitude in which my life has changed. I am not saying that this is bad — or even good, it just is. I am liking my new home, and I most certainly like that I am finally, at the age of 50, able to do this on my own without the help of anyone. However I spent 14 years with Mark and life is definitely different. I can’t say it’s lonely nor am I unhappy, but it has changed. And even though I am so happy with my life as it is now, I occasionally miss my old life. It was not perfect. It was stressful. It was chaotic, but it was mine. I sometimes can’t believe that Mark is gone. He was not a perfect man, but the life we had was “mine”, and it was a relatively safe life. Granted, the “unknowns” were scary, and the future would always be stressful, but it had its moments.
I am loving my time with George. I don’t know where it is going to go or how things will end up, so I simply enjoy it each day that we are together. It’s becoming comfortable in new ways each day, and I like comfortable. It equates to peace and simplicity, and those are two of my favorite things. George is a “fly by the seat of his pants” kind of guy. I’ve learned that you cannot be a regimented person when you are with a man like George. He has no timeline and he has no real schedule. I did regimented for many years, so this is something that I am enjoying. I am easy-going so this works for me. I never realized that I didn’t like schedules until recently!! I am not a leader so making the plans and being in charge is no fun for me. I am perfectly happy with letting someone else to do it. George does not seem to mind the task, and it is working for me.
Where is this going to go? I have no idea. I am enjoying life as it is now. I have been so happy these days, and I get terrified that it is going too well and it will all come crashing down around me and implode! But even though it is human nature to think this way, I try to push the fears back, and just go with the flow, enjoying all the fun I am having, spending time with the wonderful and loving people in my life, and doing things that make and keep me happy.
The freshness of my relationship with G., coupled with the newness of my revamped life, has left me feeling quite elated these days. Do I have the right to be happy? Damned right I do! I don’t need to make any excuses for who I am, what I am doing, and how I feel.
Honestly, I am feeling quite good these days. My new home is coming together nicely. I am down to a handful of boxes that need to be sorted through. I am quickly reaching the point where I need to just do some decorating such as hanging curtains, buying some area rugs, and hanging pictures and photos. Once I eliminate the few boxes, I will make a final run to Goodwill to get rid of the last of the donations. Once that is done, I will be able to entertain. I am looking forward to cooking a nice dinner for G., which is something that I promised him I would do! And anyone who knows me, knows that I never make a promise that I do not intend to keep!
I have to be honest, I’m in a much better place than I have ever been at any other time in my life. I am not the person that I was six months ago. I am certainly not the person I was when I entered into a relationship at any other point in my life. For the first time in my life, I WANT a relationship, and I do not NEED one. I don’t need someone to support me or take care of me in any way. I am perfectly capable of doing that on my own. I think that makes a HUGE difference.
I have found that the start of a new relationship is enjoyable when you don’t feel the need to self-sabotage it! I think G. is the first man I have ever dated with whom I did not over-think and over-analyze things. I’m not sure how to even express why I think this is. If I had to guess, I would say it’s because I am enjoying the newness of this experience, and I don’t feel the need to hold on to it for dear life. I don’t NEED him in my life, but instead I want him to be there. That makes a world of difference.
I hated that I always self-sabotaged a relationship, and then I had to work to try to repair it if I was repairable. With G., I am just going with the flow, and I am taking it one day at a time. I don’t put pressure on him, I don’t dig too deeply into his daily life, I don’t ask too many questions, and I don’t make demands. Surprisingly, this makes getting to know him and spending time with him a lot of fun! And it makes our relationship really very healthy.
In the past, I would always second guess everything thing I did, over-analyze things that were said, worry about where the relationship was going, and do just about every negative thing that I could to destroy the relationship before it ever had a chance to get started.
When you don’t self-sabotage, the start of a relationship is actually fun! There are so many possibilities! I am enjoying getting to know G. as a man, a person, a friend, and a partner. I am learning about him, his family, his past, his likes and dislikes, and his habits. I don’t feel the need to scrutinize every thing that is done and said. I’m not sure why. I guess it is because I’m in a good place and I am secure with myself.
I am not worrying about where our relationship is going, but instead I’m just enjoying each stage because sometimes it just happens and you can’t time it!! (Thank S.S. for those Words of Wisdom) I think because G. calls and texts me quite regularly, I don’t have time to even think about worrying and wondering where this relationship is going. In the past, I could very easily get into an “obsession” mode where my mind starts to do and think stupid thoughts. But because G. is attentive and expressive, I haven’t had any reason, real or imagined, to obsess and create self-induced drama!! Thank goodness because that shit gets really old, really fast!!!
So what’s the point of this blog post? Damned if I even know. I just feel happy, and I want to share it with the world. I have no magical powers to see how my life will turn out, and I am not sure that I want to know. I just want to enjoy it for all that it is.
Since things with G. are going so well, I think I want to begin to share parts of this relationship on this blog because it is becoming a large part of the person I am and the woman I have become. It is a part of my own personal journey – regardless of the outcome.
I know this blog initially started out as something of a journal for Mark’s kidney disease, and when he died it was all about my pain and struggles to go on without him. As I am reaching my full potential as a person and a woman, it may seem like this blog is taking another twist. In a way I suppose that is true since I don’t have the same struggles that I did only five months ago. In some ways I still miss Mark, but it is not a life that I could go back to, even if I wanted to do it again. It was a difficult and hard life, but it is the one that I chose to stay a part of because it was what I wanted and needed to do — and because it was the right thing to do. My heart no longer aches with the intensity that it did right after Mark died. I no longer feel the extreme pain of his death, and for the first time in a very long time, I can see the forest through the trees. I’ve healed to the point where I am able to see the big picture. And that big picture is very simple. I am still alive, and I need to live my life in a way that brings me the most happiness.
I’ve learned that I want to live simply. I don’t need material things to make me happy. In some cases, less is more. I don’t need fancy and high priced things. I don’t need the latest and greatest trends to be happy. I just need the basic necessities, good friends and family, and enough money to cover the bills with a bit to put aside as a cushion.
Notice I didn’t say that I NEED a man in my life? It’s because I don’t! I want a man in my life. I love the companionship that a relationship brings to my life. I like that G. and I can laugh and giggle about silly things. I like that we can go out or stay in and it’s all good. I absolutely love that he makes me feel like I am a priority in his life. Even though he works a lot, he makes time for us to be together. Although his schedule is a bit erratic, I am finding that I am fine with it. I don’t mind that he comes over late at night. We may not have a lot of time together when he comes over late at night, but the time we do share is actually very special. I like that G. is affectionate because that is something that I love, but it was missing in my life for a very long time.
He told me that he deleted his online dating profiles because I was special and I was the only woman he is interested in. I believe that is a good sign that indicates that we are headed for an exclusive, committed relationship. Although I deleted my online dating profiles about three weeks ago, I never would pressure him into deleting his before he felt he was ready. We have been seeing each other pretty regularly, and he has been coming over after work on most nights for the past two weeks. I could get used to having him around. I never thought I would say that, but he really is a lot of fun to be around. The fact that he loves to cuddle at night is simply an added bonus! Waking in the morning entangled in his arms is really a wonderful feeling that I have been missing for a VERY, VERY long time.
Where will this go? Who knows? Will G. and I have one of those perfect relationships? Who knows? All I know is that I am enjoying our time together, and I am really liking how things are for me right now. All I can do is take it one day at a time and enjoy the happiness for all that it is worth.
… and then it runs out.
You never expect it, even though deep down inside you know you only get so much time. So much time with people. So much time to complete tasks. So much time to do all those things you want to do.
Yet, we think we have more time, so we put off spending time with the people we care about. We don’t always complete tasks as quickly as we should, if we complete them at all. We push the things we want to do into the future citing the fact that we have plenty of time to do them.
Today my friend N. and I were unpacking more boxes. We came across a package of things that I had saved from my honeymoon to Bermuda. It contained receipts, notes, trip guides, newsletters, luggage tags, pictures, souvenirs, excursion information, napkins, paper coasters, and all sorts of cute and sentimental stuff. My goal had been to take all of that stuff and make a scrapbook out of it all.
I don’t know what happened, but I never got around to doing it. Life obviously got in the way, and the scrapbook lost its priority. It wound up in a box that sat in a closet for almost two years, and now that I got around to opening it, there was no point to creating a scrapbook. What would be the point? Mark is gone. Who would I ever show it to? My new boyfriend? How many times would I actually look at it? Somehow I think nil to none because it would not have the same meaning that it would have had if Mark were still alive.
In that box of memories, there was a card from the cruise ship saying that our good friends P & G sent us a bottle of wine to wish us a happy honeymoon. They called me right before I moved, and tonight I finally called them back. I really love this couple dearly. Mark used to work with P. before she retired. They are warm and generous people. G. was the real estate agent who helped us purchase our house in Keyport. We would often have them over for dinner, or we would go to their home in Brick, NJ. Several times they took us out on their boat.
I loved this couple the very first time that I met them, and I think telling them that Mark passed away was almost as difficult as telling Mark’s parents. I remember P. answered the phone and when I told her, I can remember her screaming to her husband saying, “Mark Clark died! Oh my God! Mark Clark died!”. It was pretty difficult to hear.
P. has called to check on me several times since Mark died, and she has, on numerous occasions, said that she and G. want to keep in touch with me. Today P. talked about having me (and Belle) over, and while I would absolutely love to see them and spend time with them, it will be very bittersweet since I have never seen them without Mark being there.
When I see them, it will be another “first” that I must do in order to move forward in my life. Some of the firsts have been more difficult than others. For example, June 21st marked the ten-year anniversary of my marriage to Mark. It was an uneventful day. No tears were shed. No sad memories. No real happy ones either. Just another day. I am not sure how I feel about that. I would have thought I would have felt more. I would have thought that I would have cried over the loss. No tears. In reality, I spent the night with G. and gave my “old life” very little thought.
In a way, I suppose that means that I am nearing the end of the healing process, but at the same time, am I really over my “old life” too soon?
To back track a little, I threw away all those honeymoon mementos. There was no real point to keeping them. And that scrapbook would never get made because I always thought I would have more time.