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Three years.

January 18, 2016 Leave a comment

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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.

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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.

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The circle of life… a Space Oddity!

January 11, 2016 Leave a comment

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

June 21st 2015 is a Triple Whammy!

June 19, 2015 Leave a comment

summerJune 21, 2015 has a very bright spot! The summer begins with the solstice at 12:38 P.M. EDT and it is the longest day of the year: having the most sunlight. Summer is my favorite season. It means hot weather and sunshine. It has always signified barbecues, the shore, vacations, and fun. Nothing will change that.

I love waking up in the morning with sunshine. I love being able to go outside in the evening, and it’s still light out. I love the sounds of summer. There’s nothing like the sound of the Boardwalk on a busy Saturday night or the sound of the Ice Cream Truck playing the same song as it trolls through the neighborhood. I love the sound of fireworks and the “ooh and ahh” of the spectators. Few things say summer like the smell of suntan lotion, hamburgers cooking on a grill, and freshly popped popcorn at a local carnival! But nothing lasts forever, and sadly, the first day of summer also means that the days will begin to get shorter by one minute per day.

happy-fathers-dayOn another note, this June 21st is Father’s Day. Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers on our society. It’s been a bittersweet day for me since my Dad passed away in October of 2008. Over the years, I’ve had two father-in-law’s but I have not maintained relationships with either of them. Tony was my first father-in-law. I really liked him. He was a generous man who was always there to lend a helping hand. His Portuguese heritage introduced me to many seafood dishes that I would never have thought to try. Unfortunately, when his stepson and I divorced, I lost contact with him (and the entire family).

My second father-in-law, Lawrence, was completely different from my first. He was a quiet man who rarely spoke. I understand that he had his issues in the past, but he never did anything to me to make me think less of him. I kept an open mind and remained non-judgmental no matter what Mark told me about him. I was a good daughter-in-law to him (and his wife). I tried to maintain a relationship with him after Mark died, but apparently he didn’t want one. He never told me why, but I truly believe that he felt I disrespected him by honoring Mark’s final wishes. I know that Mark’s parents wanted a wake and church service, and a burial in a cemetery. That is not what Mark wanted, and he told them that on several occasions. When I honored Mark’s final wishes of being cremated and having a memorial service catered by his favorite Italian restaurant, it created a huge riff between myself and Mark’s family. Although I tried several times to reach out to him, he never responded, and I stopped trying.

Father’s Day is tough for those of us without Dads. It’s a reminder of what you had but no longer have. I now find the day to be bittersweet with fond memories of the many years with Dad. At the same time, it is a sad remembrance that he is no longer with me in this world.

But the zinger this year is that my wedding anniversary to Mark also falls on June 21st. It would have been 12 years since we got married on the cruise ship Zenith with our friends and family in attendance. After the wedding, I went on my first cruise to Bermuda and truly had the time of my life. In actuality, my true wedding date is September 28, 2002 when Mark and I eloped in Las Vegas, but it was a secret that we kept from people until we could have a real wedding. It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half years since Mark passed away. Time. It can be measured on a clock in hours, minutes, and seconds. It can be measured on a calendar in days, weeks, months, and years. Yet I’ve never really felt it could be measured in one’s mind. It seems to get all jumbled into past, present and future.

So as this Whammy of a Day approaches, I will press forward, smile sweetly, love always, and live fully, and before I realize it, the day will be but a memory; like so many other days.

With that…

Happy Summer Solstice! Happy Father’s Day!

And…. even though I have set fire to my broken pieces and started anew,
memories and feelings never fade. With that…a silent thought…

Happy 12th Anniversary Mark!Bonni-and-Mark

Death, a Reality Check and Reminder

May 9, 2015 Leave a comment

restinpeacefriendToday I learned that a friend of mine from High School passed away from lung cancer. I was shocked and so saddened. He was always a friendly man with a great sense of humor. I didn’t keep in touch with him after High School, but we became friends on Facebook. I was able to follow his life and I saw how blessed he was. He met and married a beautiful woman who made him SO happy. It was evident that they were meant to be together.

His passing made me sad on many different levels. The obvious was that a man that I knew in my youth had passed away. It made me hurt for his wife and his family. His friends and co-workers and all those who knew him now must deal with the fact that he is gone.

It made me sad because as I wrote a letter of condolence to his wife, I was reminded of what was ahead for her. It reminded me of the deep pain and despair that I felt when Mark passed away, and I knew that, no matter what people said to console her, it as going to be a long and painful road. She will need to put the pieces of her life back together, and try to find some semblance of normalcy. I know it’s not easy, but it can be done.

My friend’s passing also reminded me that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. What you have today can be taken away in a split second, and then everything in your life changes. We spend so much time doing the things that we think are important, but it turns out that the important things in life are the ones that are simple.

So today I remind myself that it’s not how much money you make. It’s not about working long hours to bring home a few extra dollars. It’s not about having a fancy car with all the bells and whistles. It’s not about having a huge house in the suburbs. It’s not about designer brand clothes. It’s not about buying “stuff” to make yourself look good to others.

Do you want to know what it is about? It’s about spending quality time with those people that you love. It’s about doing things that make you happy. It’s about being with family and friends. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t earn a living, buy a new car or a large house, but those things mean very little if you don’t have close people with whom you can enjoy it.

Balance. That is the key. Balance work with home responsibilities. Balance spending with what you make. Balance the time you spend with loved ones with the time that you spend doing other things that you feel are important

So today, I ask that you show someone special that you care. Show that special person that he/she is important enough that you have chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. You may not get the chance to do it tomorrow.

RIP Steve.

Jealousy or Judgment?

February 5, 2015 5 comments

Are you judging me for the choices that I have made in my life simply because you do not agree with them? Or are you jealous because I managed to pick up the shattered pieces of my life and move forward?

cards-on-tableWe were both dealt some bad cards. I threw all my cards on the table, and I got myself a new hand. This was MY choice. You were also dealt a new hand of cards, but you chose a different path in life. This was your choice. Neither choice is wrong or right. It was simply the choices we made that fit our own particular needs and desires.

You have chosen to remain single. I have chosen to find a partner. These are the choices that we have made in our life. Personally, I would not want to spend years and years alone. It’s not my personality. I like being in a relationship, and I love the whole concept of marriage. Apparently you prefer to be single and have chosen to remain alone. This does not make you a bad person. But in the same token, my choice to be in a relationship with someone does not make me a bad person.

I have no idea (not even an inkling) why you dislike my boyfriend so much or why you express such sarcasm and bad feelings toward him. He’s never done anything to you. In fact you barely know him. Even if there were something about him that you do/did not like, you do not have to spend time with him and you rarely see him. If nothing else, I would think you would accept him as a part of my life simply for the fact that he makes me happy.

TomorrowisntguaranteedMaybe that’s it. Maybe you are unhappy with your own life, and you dislike seeing me happy and content. Maybe you thought that when Mark passed away, I would crumble and walk around with a “poor, poor pitiful me” attitude. That’s not me, and if you thought that it was, then you do not know me at all. Mark’s death made me realize that life is short, and no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Maybe you think that I started dating too soon after Mark passed away. In fact I know that you thought I did. It’s okay. You were not the only one who felt that way. Several of my friends felt that I was setting myself up for hurt.  Yet I would have figured after a year and a half of sharing my life with my boyfriend, you would realize and understand that what I have developed with George is something serious. It’s not a rebound relationship. It’s not a fling nor was it ever a one night stand.

I don’t need to explain my time line for dating. Everyone deals with grief in his/her own way. I dealt with mine. That is not to say that I don’t miss Mark. I will be honest, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him in some capacity. However, he is gone. He’s been gone for over two years, and he is not coming back.

After this last incident with you, I was told I was overreacting to the situation. I beg to differ. Had this been an isolated incident, I could concur that my reaction was over the top. However I have been subjected to snide comments from you for well over a year and a half. I am a very peaceful person. I rarely lose my temper. But when I am subjected to repeated comments about things that are no one’s business but MINE, I can snap and lash out. It’s not pretty, is it?

A friend told me that I should take you aside and tell you that your comments about me and my relationship are hurtful. At first I thought this might be a good idea. But then I realized that your comments don’t hurt me. I haven’t done anything wrong, nor has my boyfriend. I have no regrets about how I have lived my life since Mark passed away.

finishlineInstead I realized that your comments PISS ME off. Your inconsiderate comments are not hurting me, but they are hurting our friendship. After writing this (which is my way of venting and putting things into perspective), I am putting this incident behind me. I have brushed this off my back once again. I have a feeling it won’t be the last time that will do this. But there WILL be a last time. There will be a time when I am just too tired to care any more. And I will be done. Finish line reached.

Widowhood: Has Two years REALLY passed?

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment

widowI have been pretty absent this past year, haven’t I? I used to love to write posts in this blog. It hasn’t really felt right in the past year. In the beginning this blog was about my life with Mark and our struggles with his kidney disease issues. Then he passed away, and it was my struggles as a newly widowed 49 year old woman.

Now I don’t have the dialysis stories, nor do I have the stories about widowhood. Sure, I am still a widow, but the pain that I initially felt when Mark passed away has lessened significantly. I still think of him often, but thinking of him is no longer associated with a deep, agonizing pain.

I can still remember that night. January 17, 2013. Two years ago. I can remember calling 911. I can remember the police and ambulances in front of my home. I remember my neighbor Adam coming over to see if he could help. I can remember talking to the Emergency Room doctor. I can remember when they pronounced Mark’s time of death. I can remember talking to the social worker. I can remember when I said goodbye to the the man that I loved. I can remember my two absolutely wonderful friends who came to the hospital and stayed with me. And I don’t know what I would have done without my brother Jeff who has ALWAYS been my rock throughout the years. I reconnected with a few friends in my time of mourning, and I still see them today.

When Mark first passed away, I was in shock. Then the sadness and pain hit, and I did nothing but cry for weeks. Months. One day I realized that Mark would want me to get my act together and stop wallowing in sadness. I did just that. I found a new place to live. I downsized and “merged and purged” all the material things I had in my home. Again I have to ask myself, was it necessary for me to have three food processors? I put my financial house in order, and I took drastic steps to put my life back together. I found a new love, and I have tried new things that I have always wanted to do.

Today I find myself approaching the two year anniversary of Mark’s passing.

soulfoodI miss his very unique sense of humor. I miss his laugh. I miss his cooking. I miss collard greens, southern fried chicken, Okra soup, Soul Food, homemade mac and cheese, southern style BBQ beef short ribs, and fried varieties of fish. I miss entertaining with seven course meals that would leave our guests stuffed and amazed that he could cook like he did.

I miss going to Dunkin’ Donuts on Saturday mornings and getting coffee and a glazed donut, and sitting by the waterfront watching the boats and watercraft. Going alone is just not the same.

I missed seeing the Christmas decorations. We used to drive around neighborhoods and look at the decorations. He always loved Christmas. He loved when I decorated the house. It was never really my thing, but I did it because he liked it so much.

I miss the silly, stupid inside jokes that we had. I miss playing “Old or idiot” when we would drive around. I miss the stories about his students at school and the corruption that went on in the district.

I miss how he would do impressions of various people and accents. He used to make me (and everyone else) crack up.

I miss the places we went together over the years. And it is often bittersweet when I drive by them.

MeandDoo714When I look at my sweet and lovable Belle, I remember that it was Mark who bought her for me. He did his research and found me the perfect furbaby. If not for him, I would have never gotten Belle. He was not a dog person at all, but he knew how much I wanted a furry friend. After Mark passed away, Belle became even more special than she already was. She helped me through so much in those first few months. She didn’t come away unscathed though. For months she would sit and wait for Mark to come through the door at night. And my non-shedding dog became a shedder; in all likelihood from the trauma and stress.

When anniversaries such as 9/11, Hurricanes (Katrina, Irene and Sandy) or a famous person who passed are mentioned, I think of Mark. After all, we dealt with those tragedies together. We lived them together, and we healed together. We were on a cruise when Katrina barreled through the Gulf. We both felt guilty and saddened. That was the very last vacation that I took so it has definite bittersweet memories.

Now in the wake of finding out that my boss will be retiring and selling his practice, I find myself in a whole different scary position. I could not only be without a job but without health insurance as well. Being married to Mark was a security blanket. He had a good income, and I could have been unemployed for a while, and he would have found a way to carry me financially. He also had TERRIFIC health insurance. He would have allowed me time to “wind down” before I looked for new employment. Now I don’t have that luxury. Now it is ME supporting me.

I wouldn’t give up my life and independence to trade it for “what was”. I can’t go back in time. I only look back in time so I can see how far I have come. Losing Mark was NOT something I ever wanted or asked for, but it is what it is. I am looking toward the future, but definitely enjoying my PRESENT.

I remember those that I have lost in my life. That includes those who have passed away or simply walked away. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what the reasons are. I used to think I wanted to know. Now I am sure that I don’t. The bottom line is that it happened, and I reacted and then I acted.

BandG714I am happy with the actions that I took to change my life. I really am happy with my life now. It is simple. It is fun. It is filled with happiness and love. What I have now is what I have searched for all my life: love, independence, family, security, and friendships that run deeper than words can express. That is something that I have wanted forever. Belle has a new Daddy. And I have a new love in my life. Actually it’s not “new” any longer. This new “family” has been thriving for over a year and a half. I’m happy. Belle is happy. And George says he is happy. We are planning a new future. This is a new chapter in the “Book of Bon”. There will be other chapters to follow. And I am looking forward to it.