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10 weeks (or 2-1/2 months) … and Easter is Here!

March 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I wonder when I will begin to think in months instead of weeks. I can’t imagine that I will be saying something like “It’s been 26 weeks since Mark passed away”. I think at that point, it would be easier to say, “It’s been 6 months since Mark passed away”.

Today is 10 weeks since Mark passed away! I remember it like it was last night. I can’t believe it’s been 10 weeks (or 2-1/2 months) already. I still have moments where I can’t believe that Mark is really gone. I sometimes glance at the clock to see how much time I have until he gets home from dialysis. Or something will come up during the day, and I will want to send him a text to share it. Sometimes I forget that he is gone, and I will expect to see him when I walk in the door. I don’t cry as much as I did in the very beginning. Thank goodness for that because I am hoping that as the crying becomes less and less, my sinus issues will clear up.

None of this has been easy or fun. I miss Mark more than anyone could ever imagine. But even though I miss him, I am putting the pieces of my (shattered) life back together. It is a very slow process. It is painful, but I am very hopeful.  I know that I will never be the same. After all, how can the death of your spouse/best friend not cause you to become a different person? I’m hoping that this different person will be a better person. I have learned things as I have walked the road of widowhood. But those lessons will wait to be expressed until I am further on down the road.

Happy-EasterThis upcoming weekend is Easter. It was never a huge deal with Mark or his family. Sometimes his mother would cook and we would go there, but in the last couple of years, we would simply cook at home and call the family to say hello. Mark did teach me how to make a ham, but I couldn’t see myself making a ham just for me! I’d be eating leftovers until Christmas! I knew, after my mother-in-law had passed away, that the family would not be inviting me over for dinner so I simply resigned myself to spending the weekend at home with Belle. It didn’t seem like a horrible idea. After all, I knew that the “Year of Firsts” was going to be lonely and painful.

Then one of my friends asked me what I was doing. When she found out that I had no plans, she extended an invitation to me to join her and her family for Easter dinner. Initially I stammered and told her that I would let her know by Saturday.

As I was driving home, I had one of those “what the heck are you thinking” moments. I mean, here I was offered an invite to Easter dinner, and I was considering staying home alone? I don’t have to be a martyr! I don’t have to be alone. I am not pathetic for not having family with whom I can spend holidays! I thought how generous it was for my friend to offer to have me to her home, and here I was “poo pooing” it so I could spend the day alone eating canned soup and then complaining about it on Monday? Heck no! I called my friend, and I let her know that I would LOVE to go to Easter Dinner. I am looking forward to it! It will be fun, and I know I will have a good time!

I do have wonderful friends! I’ve always known it, but some of my friends have gone above and beyond what I ever could have expected! I’ve learned a LOT about friendship in the past 2-1/2 months! And with that thought, Happy Easter to all!

A doormat, a funeral, and sinusitis! Oh my!

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment

i am not a doormatI am not a doormat! My sole purpose in this world is not for other’s to walk all over me! Having said that, I did not attend my mother-in-law’s funeral today. I have taken all the disrespect from Mark’s family that I intend to take.

As I posted a few days ago, I sent the father-in-law and brother-in-law an Edible Arrangement with a helium mylar balloon that said “Thinking of you” and a personalized card sending my condolences. Well, that arrangement was delivered on Saturday. Never once did either of them call me to say thank you or even acknowledge that they received it. I didn’t really expect them to acknowledge it because neither of them has bothered to contact me since Mark died 9-1/2 weeks ago. They actually made my decision to not attend today’s funeral quite easy. It is apparent that they prefer to not to include me in the family.

I don’t go where I’m not welcome, and I don’t stay where I’m not wanted!!

There is only one person who I still really care about and that is Mark’s niece (his brother’s youngest daughter). She’s really been the only one in the family (besides my mother-in-law) who bothered to keep in touch with me. She was the first of the two nieces to tell me of my mother-in-law’s passing. She was also the one who told me of the funeral arrangements and the one who attended Mark’s memorial service (with her father and mother). I know she didn’t like being put in the middle (having to tell me that I was not included in the limo ride or “invited” to attend the burial), but she dealt with it the best way that she could. She was always my favorite niece, but even still, I just couldn’t go to the funeral even for her.

sinucleanse_netipotAnd with that, I still have my sinusitis! It’s been 9-1/2 weeks. I have been to the doctor’s office on more than one occasion. I’ve tried a plethora of medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays, cough medications, saline washes using the neti pot, Ginger/Lemon/Honey tea, humidification, vaporizer using Vick’s, Vick’s alone (that smell reminds me of growing up because my mom and dad swore by that stuff!), and lots of sleep. So far nothing has worked. My last visit to the doctor gave me a round of antibiotics going on the theory that the bacteria is localized (in my sinus cavity not in my blood stream). After six days, I have seen no improvement, but I have seen a change in my symptoms. Instead of hoarseness and a mucus ball in the back of my throat that would choke me, I now have a stuffy nose with blood tinged mucus, a cough caused by the dripping of mucus down the back of my throat , and a “nasal hazel” voice.

This morning I’d had enough, and I called the doctor’s office to report the new symptoms. The doctor said that the antibiotic should have kicked in substantially by now (6-1/2 full days). He felt that even though my symptoms changed (which he felt could be due to an improvement that was making things looser), he switched my antibiotic to something stronger. He said if there is bacteria in my sinuses, this new medication would clear it up. If this medication does not help, I am to call him back and he would reevaluate. Oh yay!! Boy, do I miss my $5.00 doctor visit co-pay, and my $5.00co-pay for a generic medication!! At least I still have my Flexible Saving Account, although I am going through that much quicker than I ever expected.

Oh, and if my some chance the family should call me and attempt to give me grief, the BLOCK NUMBER feature will be turned on quicker than you can say, “BITE ME!”

Decisions… and being the better person!

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

At this point, I’ve pretty much made up my mind. I’m not going to attend my mother-in-law’s funeral. I can’t see a reason that I should subject myself to more hurt and disappointment than I have already suffered.

When I really thought about it, my mother-in-law was the one that I truly cared about in Mark’s family. My father-in-law was a cold fish. He hardly talked, he was anti-social, and he was not one of the warmest or friendliest people you will ever meet. One word that would describe him is SULLEN.

My brother-in-law and I hardly knew each other because he spent a majority of his adult life in prison. He’d only recently been out of jail for any any length of time. I felt like I was just getting to know him, but when Mark passed away, he disappeared from my life.

As for the nieces and other extended family, I was not particularly close to any of them. I liked them well enough, but I do not believe I would miss them at all if I never talked to them again.

Edible Arrangements

Edible Arrangements

One of my friends suggested that I send flowers to the funeral home. I was hesitant because I figured that they could get lost in the shuffle, and the family would not even know I sent them. I decided on an Edible Arrangement. I ordered a nice arrangement, attached a “thinking of you” mylar balloon, and I enclosed a personalized card sending my condolences. It will be delivered on Saturday.

I don’t know if they (my father-in-law and brother-in-law) will acknowledge it with a phone call to me, but I did the right thing and I am the better person for it. The ball is in their court now. If I never hear from the family again, at least I know that I did the right thing!

When the dust settles, that’s when the REAL dirt shows!

March 20, 2013 4 comments
Thanksgiving Day in 2011 - A picture of the family in happier times.

Thanksgiving Day in 2011 – A picture of the family in happier times.

Where do I even start writing this post so that it makes sense? Hmmm, let’s go back to one of the many times that Mark and I went to visit the In-Laws. Many times the conversation would get serious and Mark used those times to inform his family (his parents, brother, and nieces) of his wishes for after he passed away. His mother never wanted him to talk about it, but he felt that it was something that needed to be addressed. He told his family (on several occasions) that he wanted to be cremated. He did not want a funeral with everyone crying around a coffin. He wanted people to celebrate his life.

His father never said anything during any of these conversations. His nieces opposed the idea of cremation, but they agreed that it was Mark’s choice for his last wishes. His mother and brother vehemently opposed the idea of cremation. They felt that it was necessary for Mark to have a coffin, a viewing, a funeral service, and a burial in a cemetery. Mark insisted that he wanted to be cremated. He told them that this was his wish, and he didn’t want anyone of them to interfere with his wishes. I think he felt that they understood what he wanted. I think we had this similar conversation with the family on several different occasions.

Jump forward to the night that Mark passed away. I know that the first person I called was my brother. He is the one that I have called whenever I need help. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. He’s never let me down, and he has always been there for me. The next person I called were my In-Laws. The home phone was busy, so I called my brother-in-law Frank’s cell phone. I told him about Mark. I’d hoped that he would have been able to calmly tell the In-Laws, but I remember his screaming about “not my brother” and “my brother’s dead”. So within moments, the family knew that Mark had passed away which was not exactly how I envisioned them finding out.

Well, in the days that followed, the tension grew and grew! By Sunday, only 3 days after I lost my husband, the nieces were giving me grief that Mark’s parents wanted to see Mark’s body before he was cremated, that I needed to send a car for them to get to the Memorial Service, and that I was wrong for getting Mark cremated. I was beside myself, and just couldn’t even argue with them. I admit that I never asked them if they wanted to see Mark before he was cremated, but I honestly never thought about (and they never brought it up or asked if they could see him). I was in shock. I couldn’t cry. I didn’t remember to eat. And I literally just went through all the motions of living while in a state of shock. The furthest thing from my mind was asking my In-laws if they wanted to see him. In my defense, if they had wanted to see him, they could have mentioned something to me instead of leaving it all up to me to remember everything.

Getting his family a car service to get to the memorial service was not my responsibility. My niece insisted that Mark would have wanted his family to have a car to get there. I told my niece that I didn’t have the money to pay for a car after paying for the cremation and the memorial service. She actually had the nerve to ask me “didn’t Mark  have a life insurance policy?” Did she think that the insurance company just wires the money into an account as soon as they are notified of his death? (Just for the record, it’s been 9 weeks now, and I still haven’t seen the life insurance pay out!)

My thought was that my father-in-law could call and get a car for the family. My niece felt that the funeral home should send a car. My retort was that I was not having a funeral, so we don’t get a car, and even if we did, they were not going to go to Jersey City TWICE so that the family could have a ride. I didn’t take a hired car to the memorial service! I drove Mark’s car (and two of my friends) to the service, and I drove us home again!

I did manage to talk with my mother in law on the phone once a week. The conversations were a little strained, and she would cry every time we talked. But at least I felt like I could call her. My father-in-law and brother-in-law stopped calling me altogether, and never spoke with me when I called my mother-in-law.

I offered to go to Jersey City to see them. My mother-in-law seemed to have mixed feelings about it. She said that she had never seen me without Mark being there, and she expressed that seeing me without Mark would cause her great sadness. I felt it would be hard for me to go there for the same reasons, but I was willing to do it so I could maintain a relationship with Mark’s family.

Well, I never got that opportunity. My mother-in-law passed away yesterday from a heart attack. I found out in a text message from my niece. I was sad to learn of this news, but honestly I was not surprised. My mother in law had been in poor health since around Thanksgiving. She was hospitalized in November with a skin infection in her leg that would not heal. It turns out that it was caused by poor circulation due to Congestive Heart Failure. She was also suffering from diabetes, Stage 3 Kidney disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The treating physician at the hospital told us that she really needed much more care than she was getting, and he recommended assisted living. Of course, she wanted no part of it. She was supposed to go back to the doctor, but I don’t think that she ever did. I truly believe that when Mark died, a big part of her did as well. She’d lost her older sister in February of 2012 and that really through her for a loop. When Mark died, I think it pushed her over the edge.

So today I get a text message with the funeral arrangements. I was told the name of the funeral home, the time of the viewing and that the service would follow immediately after the viewing. I texted back requesting an address for the funeral home, and inquiring if the service was being held at a church or at the funeral home. I was told everything was at the funeral home. I asked my niece if I was invited to go to with the family, and I was told that there was no room in the limo for me so I should go directly to the funeral home. I asked about the burial and if it was following the service. I was told it was at a cemetery in Jersey City, but it was for immediate family only. I’m assuming that immediate family would include GREAT grandchildren, a niece and great niece, but NOT the daughter in law  that they swore that they loved. Hmm…

I am not even sure I have words to describe how I feel about how they are treating me. I think some of them could include sad, angry, shunned, frustrated, disgusted, and mistreated.  I have only ever been good to that family. I have never done one single mean thing to them. If they felt I wronged them when Mark passed away, all I can say is that I honored Mark’s wishes, and I have no regrets about it at all. As for as how they feel about not getting to see Mark before he was cremated, well, if they had expressed an interest in wanting to see him, I am sure we could have worked something out. However they never mentioned it to me, and it honestly NEVER crossed my mind that they might want to see him.  As for not getting them a car to the memorial service, I didn’t have the financial means to hire a car for them from Jersey City to Parlin and back again. I had to borrow money from my brother to help pay for the arrangements. Paying for transportation for the entire family was not my responsibility and not in my budget.

I’m torn about what I want to do about the funeral. It’s apparent that I am not considered part of the family any longer. What gives me this idea? Well, my first clue was that there was no room in the limo for me and I should meet the family at the funeral home. My second clue was that the burial was for immediate family only. I can see how this is going to play out. There is no room in the limo, so meet them at the funeral home.  Then there will be no room for me to sit with the family (or if they want to be really cruel to me, they will tell me to sit somewhere else), and I will be sitting ALL alone in a funeral home. And then when they go to bury my mother in law, I will not be invited because I am not immediate family.

I also know that, no matter what I do, I will have seen Mark’s family for the very last time. I know my father-in-law and brother-in-law won’t call me. And eventually the nieces will stop texting me. This is NOT how I envisioned it. I really wanted to continue to see Mark’s family because in 13 years, they became MY family too. But obviously they do not feel the same way. I was just Mark’s wife. And now that Mark is gone, they have no need for me.

Part of me wants to go to the funeral because I want to pay my respects to my mother in law. Yet, I do not want to purposely put myself into a painful situation that will have the same ending whether I go to the funeral or not.

Part of me doesn’t want to go to the funeral because putting myself into a painful situation is not something I want to do. I would only be going to say good bye to my mother in law. It would not be to show respect for the rest of the family because I have lost all respect for them.

I can say my good byes right here in my home. I don’t need to see her dead body to say good bye. I believe that she is with Mark, and he is caring for her once again. I do think that Mark would be appalled if he knew how the family has treated me. Who knows, maybe he knows.

NOTE: There are a lot of other “dirty” details that I have omitted, but they are not necessary to get the full effect of what is going on. I didn’t want to air all of the family’s dirty laundry. I didn’t want to paint an ugly picture. So for those of you who know those details, let’s just leave them out because they do not change this situation at all!

Just an Observation…

March 14, 2013 1 comment

It’s officially been 8 weeks since Mark passed away. In some ways it seems much longer. And in some ways it seems much shorter.

I can honestly say that the excruciating pain is starting to subside just a little bit. This is not to say I don’t miss him. Nor does it mean that I don’t cry.  I still cry every day, but the length of the crying jags is starting to shorten too. Thank goodness for that!

My doctor says that my sinus issues are due to inflammation and irritation due to… GUESS WHAT? All the crying I have been doing. Well how about that! It’s not like I can do anything about that. I figure when the time comes to stop crying every day, the sinuses will heal! Until then, I suffer with this!

I’m trying to move forward a little bit each day. With the help of some wonderful friends, the basement is sorted out into two piles. KEEP and SELL/DONATE. The guest bedroom has been started. It looks like a bomb went off it there. The closets are cleaned out of Mark’s clothing. All of it, except for clothing with tags, were donated to The Goodwill Store.

Going through all the stuff was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Granted it was no picnic, but I was not a bumbling mess either! I think I will be better once I get out of this condo. This place is like wallowing in a box of memories. Not good and not healthy.

Gotta move forward a little bit each day. That is what Mark would have wanted me to do.

Something to look forward to….

March 12, 2013 Leave a comment

90-minutesThere are not a lot of things that I look forward to these days, but Bereavement Support Group is definitely one of them. For 90 minutes, I spend time with people who REALLY understand what I am feeling. It makes me feel like I am not so alone in my thoughts and actions.

I wasn’t sure what to think about attending a support group. I thought it would be a room full of people who were filled with grief and sorrow and pain. I pictured a bunch of people crying all of the time, whining about how much pain they were in, and boxes of tissues every where. It’s not at all like that. Yes, each person has his or her own pain, sorrow and grief, but there is so much strength and hope in this group that I can’t help but go back.

supportWith each meeting I attend, I realize that whatever I am feeling, someone else has felt it. Whatever I think, someone else has thought it. Whatever I do, someone else has done it. I know that the pain will lessen. I know that I will get this better and easier.

I’ve also begun to feel comfortable enough to speak about how I am coping and what I am feeling. Today I was asked to speak about what I’ve been going through since the last meeting. I told them that I was in the process of sorting/tossing stuff. I also told them that, with the help of friends, I was able to get Mark’s clothes out of his closet and to the Goodwill Store. One woman who lost her husband 20 months ago has not been able to do that yet. She says all of her late husband’s stuff is right where he left it. I understand how that could happen. If it were not for my WONDERFUL friends J and G, I KNOW I would not have been able to deal with Mark’s clothing. Nor would I have been able to even attempt to tackle my basement or my guest bedroom closet! I am SO very grateful for my friends!! Especially the ones who have stepped up from TERRIFIC to FANTASTIC (and you know who you are!!)

So in two weeks I have support group again. I am looking forward to going. I get that it’s not for everyone, but it is definitely helpful to me.

When Grocery Shopping is Painful!

March 11, 2013 Leave a comment

I went grocery shopping again after work today. I didn’t go alone. I am so very grateful that my friend volunteered to go because I was actually able to walk through the store and buy things. I didn’t flee the store in a flurry of panic, and I managed to get my groceries home and in the house before the tears hit me.

grocery-cart-150x150Mark was such a big fan of food that grocery shopping was a weekly event. He did the computerized list and he took his shopping seriously. After all “FOOD IS LOVE”. Mark believed in stock piling food. If it was on sale, we bought no less than four of the item. He truly loved to shop for food, plan out the meal, and cook the food for the week.

I never liked grocery shopping, but I have to admit that Mark made it a fun event. He always found ways to make me laugh when he would crack jokes and do silly things. He would send me on a “mission” to find an obscure item while he loaded the cart with stuff that was not on the list. I knew he was doing it, and he knew that I knew, but it was a game that we played every week!  Mark got great joy at the supermarket. Now that he is gone, any joy that I had for grocery shopping is gone. Now I just find it to be a painful chore that is a necessary evil.

I never enjoyed cooking the food, and honestly he was a MUCH better cook than I ever was. So much about grocery shopping, cooking, and eating has lost its appeal since Mark passed away.  I prepare very simple meals for myself, and I don’t find the need to stock up on foods. I just buy what I need, and I get out of the store.

I do hope that some day I will be able to go into the grocery store by myself and not have a panic attack or an overwhelming bout of sadness. Food is Love. But now “my love” is gone, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Sigh…