Archive

Archive for the ‘Life as a Widow’ Category

Summer time and the living is easy, but…

July 15, 2016 Leave a comment

The breathing is hard.

summerflipflopsThose of you who know me know that I love summer! I love the hot weather, the long sunny days that don’t end until 9 PM, the awesomely fresh summer fruits including HUGE Jersey tomatoes and blueberries, cooking all kinds of foods on the grill, fresh and juicy Jersey Corn on the Cob, outdoor farmer’s markets, the Jersey shore, and most of all flip flops!

However, in the past 5 or 6 years,  I’ve noticed an increase in my asthma and allergy symptoms starting in late June and not ending until mid-August.

At the end of June, I went to my doctor. Her diagnosis was “Upper Airway Cough Syndrome and Asthmatic Bronchitis” brought on by allergens and environment.

What does that actually mean? It means that I have Post Nasal Drip with a nasty, hacking cough that sounds like the plague.

Her treatment was a new antihistamine, cough medication (the GOOD kind) and an additional bronchodilator. I’m always told, “This will clear up with these medications in a couple of weeks.” Realistically, it’s going to be a solid 6-8 weeks of hacking up a lung and avoiding (quiet) public places.

Last summer, the ENT specialist told me that this environment is not good for asthmatics. My pulmonologist told me that very same thing for a good 15 years. He actually went as far as saying that much cooler, dryer air would be a better environment for me.

Well, here’s the conundrum: I don’t like cooler air. And I definitely don’t like cold weather. Things associated with cold weather like snow, ice, sleet, snow shovels, etc. make me downright depressed and lethargic.

So according the those in the medical profession, I should NOT be living in NJ. I already knew that. Besides, it’s way too damn expensive to live here. Every winter I want to fly south with the birds. Yet, moving to a place like the Carolinas or Florida would not be great for me either because of the environment: ie: humidity and allergens.

Here’s Culprit #1: Unhealthy Air quality Index

Capture2

Here’s Culprit #2: High Concentration of Mold Spores

Capture

Above are the reasons that I suffer every year. I am allergic to Earth. Maybe I am really an alien, and I somehow got transported here. It’s apparent that my lungs can’t handle our air. Sigh. I need to move. I’m thinking Mercury or Venus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye January and good riddance!

February 1, 2016 Leave a comment

image

January is not my best month. Never has been.  I’ve always felt that it was a gloomy month.  It’s cold and wintery.  The days are still short and spring is still weeks and weeks away. The holidays are over.

Then in 2000, my mom passed away.  That just added to the gloom of the month. A sadness that has not gone away in 16 years.

January was also the month that my divorce from Bob was finalized. And the month that I sold my first home. 

Then in 2013, Mark passed away.  Didn’t that just add more gloom to an already long month?

So many people I know like January for the new beginnings and the resolutions.  Not me.  Spring is for new beginnings.  Buds on trees,  flowers popping out of the grass,  the birds and small wildlife procreate and little birds and animals brighten the world.

I think I was supposed to be a hibernating creature.  Winter and cold is so not for me.  Wake me in April when the days are longer, the world has woken and the nights are just chilly (and not frigid).

I’d  even be willing to skip Valentine’s Day and my Birthday.  Wake me in time for Easter.  I could use a REALLY long slumber. 

And this year we were lucky enough to get a blizzard in January. Two feet of white shit dumped on us in 24 hours. Friggin’ yay.

But January is now over. Not a moment too soon. A month closer to spring! And the month of sadness behind me.

February is not the greatest month but at least it’s short, it has Valentine’s Day and my birthday!

Woo hoo! Let’s hope for a good month!

Categories: Life as a Widow

Three years.

January 18, 2016 Leave a comment

image

That’s how long it’s been since Mark passed away. 1095 days.

So much has happened since that night. Nothing ever prepares you for the death of a spouse. Nothing. Even though he was sick for years before he passed, it didn’t make it easier.

And now it’s three years later. So much has changed. I look around my home, and realize that time has kept marching on. Gone is the color brown. A lighter and brighter me has emerged.

Gone is the deep pain, but what remains are the memories of the 13 years we were together. Some bad. Some indifferent. But mostly good. I used to remember and it cut like a knife. Now I remember and I smile. Yes, sometimes I still cry, but it’s not like it was the first year after Mark passed.

I didn’t think life could or would go on. But it did, and I can honestly say I’m happy. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but on a personal level, life is good.

I don’t think this date will EVER be a happy one for me, but it will hopefully never be one of doom and gloom.

I made it through these three years because of the love of friends and family, but also because I found strength that I never knew that I possessed. I always considered myself a weeny. I never thought I was equipped to handle the cruel world we live in. Mark used to tell me that I was too sensitive and emotional. He said I needed to be tougher and more assertive. That’s never worked for me. It’s not who I am. I haven’t changed in three years. I still possess my “weeny tendencies” but who I am is what made me the person I am today.

I have learned a lot since Mark passed away. I now know that I can function quite well on my own. I admit that I prefer not to because I love having someone around to share life with on a daily basis. I learned that life is short, and money is not everything. It definitely makes life easier when you have it. But it won’t buy you love. That comes from within.

A lot of the things that I learned are deep and very personal. Even I won’t share them with anyone, but the important thing is that I learned.

image

As I start my fourth year without Mark, I am grateful for our years together. I think about him often. I miss him more than I admit. And a part of me will always love him.

Having said that, I know that he’d be proud of me, and I know that he’s glad that I listened to him. He always told me if he should pass away, I should find love and happiness again. I can be stubborn, but I took his advice and honored his wishes.

I know he’s looking down on me, and I know he approves.

24/7… Outsourcing…You get what you pay for!

January 14, 2016 Leave a comment
You-Get-What-You-Pay-ForA typical case of “You Get What You Pay For”….. I joined AARP Roadside Assistance in November. For under $80, I got the Premium Road and Tow Service for myself and George. The new member materials arrived promptly. The package offered 24 hour road and tow service for up to 100 miles, tire change for a flat tire, a jump start for a dead battery, fuel delivery, winching if the car gets stuck, and up to  $120 for lockout service. I was quite pleased, and thought that I had made a good decision.
It was a good decision until George had to use it last night. He got a person on the phone who barely understood English and had an incredibly thick accent. The guy couldn’t seem to understand the information even after George repeated it over and over. He finally got it after it was repeated to him MANY times. George told the man exactly where he was, but the guy on the phone kept asking if he was near Perth Amboy because that was the town that the map showed. He then told George that he didn’t know if he had anyone available at that time of night, but he would call George back. George NEVER got a call back. He finally called 911 who got a local tow truck who was able to help. It was well after 2:00 in the morning when he got home.
Today I called AARP Roadside Assistance. I wanted to get reimbursed for the Tow Truck services and then cancel my membership because I refuse to deal with that kind of poor customer service. I mean, what part of 24 Hour Roadside Assistance did they not get? And to not even call George back is COMPLETELY and TOTALLY unacceptable.
I started off my conversation by being sweet and courteous. The woman on the phone had such a thick accent that I kept having to ask her to repeat herself. I told her that I could not understand her, and asked to speak to her supervisor. She put me on hold… for eight minutes.
Her supervisor got on the phone and introduced himself as “Peter”. His accent was very thick but understandable, but I knew his real name was NOT Peter. I explained what had happened last night, giving all the details that I had, and he said he would look at my account. He said he had NO record of George ever calling their service center. At this point, I was livid. I told him that I wanted to cancel my account and get a full refund. He said that I ordered my membership in November, and he would have to pro-rate my return. Wrong answer!! I demanded that he reimburse me for the FULL amount of my membership plus the cost of the tow truck last night. He told me that he couldn’t do that and he needed to speak to a supervisor. When I said that I thought he was a supervisor, he put me on hold. I held for another 11 minutes until Roger got on the line saying he was a supervisor who was authorized to help me.
I had to explain my story for the THIRD time. He too looked at my account, and he said he had no record of a call from George last night or anytime. He said since he had no record he could not reimburse me for our tow truck services, but he would refund my entire membership. I asked him how it is possible for a member to call in to their roadside number and there be no record of it. He fumbled for an answer mumbling something about linking issues. I asked him outright if the call center was even located in the United States. He said that most of the calls were outsourced. I told him that was the problem right there. How did AARP Roadside Assistance expect someone in another country to help me? I mean, there are towns in New Jersey that I have never heard of, and I have lived here all of my life. How can you expect someone in another country to have ANY clue at all about a small town in central New Jersey?
AAARoadsideAt this point, I just accepted my full refund. I was lucky to get that. I will now go with the choice I should have made. I will sign up for a membership with AAA. I know that they are more expensive, but I want to know that if George or I ever need roadside assistance, it will be there for us — unlike AARP Roadside Assistance who failed miserably.
I have been a member of AAA in the past, but canceled it when my Mitsubishi came with its own Roadside Assistance Plan. I’ve had to use AAA when I was a member, and I was always pleased with their services. I thought that AARP’s program would be a good one. But, as I learned, you get what you pay for.
AAA, here I come.

The circle of life… a Space Oddity!

January 11, 2016 Leave a comment

image

Today I woke up to several news alerts on my cell phone telling me that David Bowie had passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer.

I was stunned, because like so many people, I had no idea that he was even ill. He was 69 years old, and in this day and age that’s not old at all.

I liked his music. He had a very eclectic sound, he was ahead of his time, and he was paired with some of the greatest singers of all time. His duets with Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and Bing Crosby were just some of the classics.

He was married for many years to his wife, supermodel Iman. They shared a very touching love story that I only read about today.

The legend of David Bowie will live on forever through his music. While I didn’t know all that much about his life, I still find it sad that he passed away. It’s just another harsh reality that no matter how much money you have or who you know or how famous you are, when your time is up, it’s up.

The circle of life means many things to many people. To me, it’s birth, it’s living, and it’s dying. No one is immune. You can’t beg or plead for more time. All you can do is live each day to its fullest because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Rest in peace David Bowie. You were a man, a genius, a father, a husband, a legend.

image

To Ziggy Stardust, in your memory, I say,”Let’s Dance!” I think it’s what you would have wanted!

My Friend’s Husband passed away at age 42.

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

image

Ack! Had I not decided to write tonight, I never would have noticed that this post has been in draft mode for over 6 months. I remember this being a very hard post to write. It ripped up my heart in ways I didn’t think was possible. I should have pushed through the pain and written this back in July. However I’m only human…

Actually this post is almost as hard as writing the one right after Mark passed away almost 3 years ago. I never met my friend’s husband but I knew a lot about him. You should also know that I have never met my friend either. We have been friends for about 4-5 years now (that’s my best guess), and we were brought together by the sad fact that both of our husbands were dialysis patients. The understanding of what life was like as the spouse of a (stubborn) dialysis patient was the basis for our friendship. Over the years, we have followed each other’s lives through email and Facebook.

When she messaged me in July to tell me that her husband had passed away, it felt like I was stabbed in the chest with a knife. I was so sad for her because I know just how difficult this is going to be for her and her young daughter.

She wrote to me during the week, and she told me that she was in a fog and she had conflicting emotions. Boy can I understand that in a way that many people experiencing the death of a love one do not understand.

I won’t attempt to guess at what she is feeling, but if it is anything like what I went through after Mark died, it’s a whole plethora of emotions that just don’t stop. My mind was a complete jumble of thoughts, fears, hopes, sadness, and sheer terror. Some of the things I felt during the first week were startling to me.

  • I felt numb. What the hell had just happened?
  • I felt sadness. I had just lost my husband who I had been with for nearly 14 years.
  • I felt anger. Why didn’t he just listen to the doctors and do what he needed to do?
  • I felt alone. When was the last time I was really alone? (other than when he was in the hospital).
  • I felt fear. What was I supposed to do without him?
  • I felt confusion. What are you supposed to do after your husband dies?
  • I felt overwhelmed. Details. Arrangements. Notifications. Phone calls.
  • I felt tired. Lack of sleep. Incessantly repeating the story over and over.

And those were just the things I felt in the first few days.

As the days became weeks, I felt a ton of new and rather startling feelings. I began to feel some relief mixed in with the sadness. As bad as it sounds, it was relieving to not have to be surrounded with doctor appointments, dialysis fatigue, short tempers due to illness, and the never ending fear of “what if”.

After the sadness, the guilt was the worst part of it all. A lot of the things I was thinking made me feel like I was a horrible person. At times, I was glad that I didn’t have to deal with the daily routine of being a caregiver. I didn’t miss being snapped at or being made to feel like I was not being supportive. I liked the freedom from the dialysis routine.

At the same time, I felt like I had failed Mark. I wondered if I could have been more understanding of his fatigue, if I could have been more supportive when he was not feeling well, if I could have tried to control my anger better when he snapped at me, and if I could have been less selfish. I’m 100% sure my friend has felt this very same things.

The hardest part is the “Year of Firsts” which is the first time you must “celebrate” a holiday without your loved one: the first Christmas, the first New Years, the first Valentine’s day, the first birthdays (his and mine), the first Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day, the first Halloween, the first Thanksgiving…

As I learned there are 365 firsts, and each one is just as painful as the previous. She must go through them and deal with them in her own way. There are no easy answers or quick solutions. It is a painful and very sad process.

My heart hurts for my friend as I know what she must go through. All I can do is be there for her to listen to her. I can’t make it easier for her nor can I take away her pain. The grieving process is a personal one, and each person must deal with it in his or her own way.

May she someday find peace and understanding. I hope that her sorrows are short but her memories last a lifetime.

Unmotivated babbling from a seasoned procrastinator!

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

I haven’t written a long time, and again I find another year has gone by. My great talent of procrastination rears its ugly head again. As someone who loves to write,  I’m embarrassed that it’s been so long since my last post.  I have no excuses except that I’ve been lackadaisical with my writing. No excuses, only solutions.

image

As we approach 2016, I realize that life changes but yet it remains very much the same in many ways.

Life is really a series of ups and downs, good and bad. 2015 was not great but it certainly was not horrible. It had its ups and it had its downs. It had its good and it had its bad.

There are a few things that I wanted to address for some time now. When Mark passed away in January of 2013, I found ways to cope and one of those ways was following a blog of a woman whose husband had passed away 6 months prior to Mark. I still read her blog today, and it makes me realize how people deal with grief differently. While I still miss Mark, and I do think about him on a regular basis, I have learned to put the past in perspective and move forward with my life. Mark always told me that should he pass away, he wanted me to go on with life, find someone to love, and to be happy. I did just that because not only did he ask me to but because I needed to.

This woman whose blog I read still seems to hold so much love for her deceased husband and every blog post tells her deep love for him. There are sometimes that I feel she can’t let go and that might not be healthy, but at the same time it makes me think that I might have let go too soon. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I do wonder where to draw the line.

image

Is it healthy to hold on so tightly to someone who passed? She seems to find comfort in writing about how much she misses him and how she has trouble coping without him. Sometimes I wonder if her way of coping is better than mine was. Is she holding on too long and too tightly? Did I let go too soon? Is her love for him impeding her ability to move forward? Did I do an injustice to Mark by moving forward with my life as he wanted me to?

I was told by many people, on many different occasions, that I was getting into a relationship too quickly. After over two and a half years George and I are still together, quite happy, and planning a future. I don’t know where I would be had I listened to all the naysayers who told me to grieve for Mark for at least 2 years before getting into a new relationship. It’s like that old saying, ” if you fall off the horse, get right back on.” I wonder if I had waited, and remained alone for that 2 year period, would I have been afraid to start over again? Would I have been too set in my ways to share my life with someone? Would my heart have hardened to the point that I liked being alone?

Life isn’t easy. Losing a spouse is probably one of the hardest things that someone must go through. Although deep inside I knew that Mark would pass away way too soon, it did not make the situation any easier.

I still think of him on a regular basis. I don’t think that this negates my love for George. It’s just a part of my life that was but is no more. The holidays seem to remind me of Mark much more than any other time of year. He loved Christmas and he loved to decorate the house. He loved to buy presents for everyone. He would often spend more than he should on presents for family, friends, and of course, me. He loved to cook large meals for his friends, and he loved to entertain at home with a large holiday party every year.

When I drive around, and I see the Christmas decorations, or when I step into a store, and I see all of the stores all decked out for the holidays, it makes me a little sad for all of the good times that we had. I haven’t put up a Christmas tree since Mark passed away. This is partially due to fact that George is not big in to the holidays, we live in a small condo that really has no room for a tree, and because Christmas decorations sometimes make me sad. I should also mention that my lack of a Christmas tree is also due to laziness.

The New Year brings hope to many including myself, but at the same time it’s that time of year that also brings me great sadness as it marks the anniversary of my mom’s passing as well as Mark’s. Do you ever really get over the death of someone you loved?

My mom passed away in January of 2000, and I still think about her nearly every day. So I guess I just answered my own question, and no, you never really get over the death of someone you loved.

I think that we simply learn to cope with the fact that our loved one is gone. We learn to move on, go forward, and live life each day.

image

I’m sort of all over the place with my thoughts today. I have a general idea of what I want to say, but it seems to be all jumbled inside my head. I think when I write regularly, my thoughts are more coherent and on point. When I don’t write on a regular basis my brain has so many ideas and thoughts that it makes it difficult to put it all into one post in a way that people can understand.

I always say that I need to write regularly, but for some reason, I never take the time to sit down and write. Although it’s one of the things that I enjoy doing, there never seems to be enough time. Actually it’s not my lack of time, but my lack of motivation and enthusiasm.

Maybe 2016 needs to be the year of the writer. I must make the time, find the motivation, and get enthusiastic about sharing my thoughts again. It’s not like I don’t have the time because with Georgie back to work, I have enough quiet time to write several times a week. It’s like anything else, once you start doing it, it becomes a habit. Writing is therapeutic to me, so this would be a really good and healthy habit for me.

I’m not entirely sure that this blog post is coherent nor am I sure that it makes a point. However, it is a definite start toward a good habit for the upcoming New Year.

With that thought I wish everyone a very happy, healthy, and peaceful 2016.