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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.

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.

It was a year ago tonight…

January 16, 2014 2 comments

… that my life completely changed.  A heart attack took Mark’s life, and everything that brought me peace and comfort was ripped from my life at that moment.

Never ever did I think that, at the age of 49, I would be a widow. I never thought I would have to pick up every semblance of normalcy that existed and fit it back into the big picture puzzle called life. In doing so, I found that some of the pieces were missing. Some of the pieces were torn and damaged. Some of the pieces even belonged to another puzzle!! It was a scary and frustrating time because in the beginning, I was paralyzed by fear and grief.

But little by little, the fog in my brain started to clear, and I pushed forward to do the things that I needed to do for MY own well-being. In the process I learned that my marriage was not exactly what I thought it was. I learned that Mark had a LOT of debt but to this day, I have no idea where it came from. I am just grateful that he had the hindsight to never add my name to an account so I am not responsible for what is owed. I found out things about his personal life that stunned me, and I sometimes wish I understood what was going through his mind when he made some of the choices that he did.

At the one year anniversary of his passing, I have very mixed feelings about what I have learned and how I feel. This morning I asked myself if I missed him. The answer was a very wishy-washy “YES AND NO”. Yes, I do miss him. He was my husband for over 10 years and my partner for almost 14 years. Like most couples, we had hopes and dreams and goals. We made plans and we had many years of memories. Yet, my life has become much less stressful and less complicated with no overwhelming debt, phone calls from (his) creditors, and the constant fear that I was going to get “THAT PHONE CALL” where someone told me that he’d passed away.

I’ve completely simplified my life which was something I was never able to do when I was with Mark. He needed to live large. He needed excess to the point of overkill. I never needed that. I have no need or desire to prove anything to anyone.  I live within my financial means (for the most part). I pay my bills on time. I carry no credit card debt. I cook simple foods as opposed to seven courses meals that require HOURS of prep work and cooking. I still have the mindset of having too much food in the house. When the Zombie Apocalypse hits, my home would be a good place to hang out.

I have my groceries delivered to save me time. I have a wonderful woman who cleans my home twice a month because it is not something that I am willing to do. I have mobile groomers for Belle because they are WONDERFUL and very convenient. My home is small and just perfect for me. It’s not a three level monstrosity that cost hundreds of dollars a month to heat and cool. How much room do I really need? I have basic cable because I don’t need every single channel that ever existed.

There is still room for improvement though. I really need to conquer the “paper war”. I have no real filing system. I need one. Putting all the papers in a box is not working for me. I need to organize it better and get a handle on the junk mail that seems to accumulate. I thought when I did everything “paperless” that I would have fewer paper piles. This has not been the case. I’m not sure why and that puzzles me constantly. When will I get to this? Who knows.

Procrastination has always plagued me. My motto is, “Why do something today that I can put off until tomorrow?” Scary, isn’t it? I do manage to get things done. Sometimes it is at the very last minute, but it gets done. Have I ever missed a deadline because I procrastinated? Sigh. Sadly, yes. But we don’t need to talk about that since I know that my own weaknesses.

Ahem, getting back on track…

I will be honest, I do think about and miss Mark. As articulate as I am, I am not sure I can explain how I feel right now. When Mark first died, all I wanted to do was turn back the clock and have him back in my life. I didn’t want to have to do it all alone.

I no longer feel that way. I have no desire to turn the clock back. I love my life these days. It’s much simpler and easier. And happier. I didn’t expect to fall in love again, but I did. Say what you want about my timeline, but I have found happiness.

George and I have been together just short of eight months. I didn’t expect things to get so serious so quickly, but I am VERY happy that they did. It’s nice to have a very easy-going (for the most part) relationship that is filled with laughter and love. Neither of us are perfect. No one is. But we are happy together. Having realized what I want and what I will not accept has made my relationship with George better than any other that I have had.  No one knows what the future holds, but I do know I want a future with this man!!!

As I approach the end of “The Terrible Firsts of Widowhood”, it occurred to me that I survived. I survived 365 days of firsts. There were SO many firsts this year. More than any one can EVER imagine. Some days I survived several firsts. But I survived. And as the first year without Mark concludes, I have a bittersweet feeling.

bittersweetI have feelings of both pain and pleasure. I still believe that Mark would be proud of the accomplishments that I achieved this year. And I know he would harbor NO ill feelings for anything I have done or any choices I made. He always wanted me to be more independent and he wanted me to be happy. I am both of these things.

Now it is time to let go of the past. Not forget it, but let go of the things that have the tendency to suck me in to the black hole. I’ve survived a year without Mark, and I have flourished. Life is filled with endless possibilities. You just have to find the things that make you happy. You have to open your heart and your mind. Having done that, I can tell you first hand that…

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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…