Thursday, December 23, 2010

Year Two

I have stayed away too long. It was never my intention to stop writing this blog. Some nights I was just too tired, or too busy or had writer’s block. Some nights I had so much to say, but it all felt so repetitive, I couldn’t find the strength to put the words down. The New Year approaches and a part of me just wants to try and say something – anything - before more time passes.

I remember when my husband was dead maybe six months; a few people in my bereavement group spoke of how the second year is much worse than the first. I scoffed at them in my mind. Really – how could anything be worse than what I am going through right now? As I am now well into my second year, I only wish I had listened to the wisdom of those ahead of me in grief. The second year is not only worse – it is much much much worse.

Why is that I wonder? I lay in bed at night trying to figure out the mystery of the agony that lies within my heart.

Upon reflection of year one I believe only a small part of me was really conscious of what I was dealing with. There is only so much pain and sorrow your brain can process. For a majority of the year I was just doing the bare minimum of feeling anything. I was merely struggling to just get through each and every day. I spent so much time the first year reflecting back a year – I lived in the past. Everyday I looked back at where my husband and I were a year ago. It was painful to think about, but easier than facing the day I was actually in.

There is a huge part of me that just counted the seconds of the first year trying to somehow make it through each special day my husband missed. Trying to somehow deal with the children and their loss; focusing all my attention to making sure they were eating, playing and not sinking into the miserable abyss that I lived in.

The first year was tough and awful and miserable and everything you can imagine. My first year of his death was the biggest challenge I had ever faced in ways you will never know – but year two – just wow.

I have watched over the past fourteen months as my family and friend’s lives have moved on. They are all back in their normal life. I realize that the world around me is changing and growing and people around me are taking steps forward – I however am not. I feel like I stand here stuck since the moment of your death, not moving, not changing, and not caring. I am still stuck in the grief that occurred the day you died and I have not moved an inch since you left.

Time marches in a different way for me. Year one was spent living in the past, feeling like a mere shadow of my former self. I no longer have that shield of armor. There are no more ‘remember when’ for me. I am forced to live each day entirely on my own. I expected to feel crushed by the weight of my husband’s death throughout the first year. The fact that this sorrow and loss has come with me into year two – makes me realize a large part of this pain is really never ever going to go away. The loss and sadness that were once slightly shielded by my memories are now free to recklessly invade me mind, body and spirit.

I sit some nights right on my kitchen floor staring at nothing and wonder if this is all real. I can’t believe you are dead, that we had your funeral and that I will never see you again. There are some moments where nothing about my entire life feels real.

Year two and the rest of the world looks at me as if I should be moving on. As if I should be ready and willing to throw myself into the world and start dating. As if I am ready to be the person I once was. But it’s not the same – not me, not anything. Sure I could go on a date. What would be the point? I would stare in disbelief at the person sitting across from me and think – where is my husband? What am I doing here? What is going on? I am not ready to look at the world with new eyes. Not when I close my eyes and only see his face.

I miss my husband more now than I ever did the first year. I pushed away missing him for so long because the pain was just too great. I think I spent so much time in year one trying to get through the pain, I never had a chance to just miss him. I lived in the past – feeding off memories. I am not sure if I am even making any sense anymore – I don’t care.

I miss his voice and his laughter. I miss his company. I wish I could tell him everything I am thinking and feeling these days, but I can’t. I wish I could share with him all the utterly ridiculous things people say to me in the second year. I wish he knew how awful his choice was and how utterly devastated he has left the children and I.

No one wants to read about my sorrow. No one wants to read about how the second year is worse. Do I laugh out loud and appreciate my children? Yes. Do I appreciate my family and friends? Yep. I wake up each day with renewed hope that today is going to be a better day. But for better or worse – the day doesn’t change the deep sorrow I feel in my heart.

The pain of loss that changes a person forever – this has not gone away with the passing of the first year. The realization that life is never going to be the same for my children and I – this is truly why year two is that much harder.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I can’t complain. It has been a relatively good week. I woke up last Monday morning with an almost different outlook on life. I made it through a year. Everyday that I live now has been one I have already done without you. I can do this. I just kept reminding myself this over and over again. I can do this.

But this whole week has still been about you somehow. I kept reliving moments of sitting Shiva and wondering how this all came about. Last year this week was a blur. A moment in time I barely remember. It was a whirlwind of people and food and crying. I remember how I finally ripped the phone out of the wall as it just wouldn’t stop ringing. How the texts and emails and cell phone were all just too much. I am officially a year behind returning some phone calls – oh well.

Then there is today. My daughter’s fifth birthday. This is now the second birthday her father has missed – it just feels weird. Yesterday I had a small party in our park for her. There was a moment when I lit the candles and we started singing that I felt exactly like I did last year. I remember feeling so unbelievably sad. I felt the loss of my husband so heavily last year and this year is no different. How he wasn’t there standing next to us with big smiles watching our baby blow out the candles – how he just isn’t here for this special moment for her. It just feels so terrible. Every time I must live a magical moment for the children without you – it just feels like you die again and again - over and over for me.

If there is one thing I learned this year, it is how to put on my mask. My game face if you will. I can walk outside into the world and smile at you, make small talk and even pretend to be a human being. I am getting really good at making everyone in the world think that I am doing just fine. But truthfully I am not just fine. I am sad and lonely and even down right miserable at times. I am easily frustrated with my children and family. I don’t want to do anything extra special. I just want to somehow trudge through my life and get through each day.

I am sorry to reveal this information, but time doesn’t fix everything. Yes I am no longer a puddle of tears and emotions. But I am not fixed, not healed, not better and I never will be. I am changed and different and can’t go back to who I once was.

I struggle everyday within myself. I want so much for my children to be happy and have a full wonderful life. Sometimes I want for them another person in our lives to help make their life more special. But then I think about what that would entail. Me date – it is almost funny. I think about who I am and where I am going and it doesn’t feel possible. Most days I am perfectly content to live the rest of my life alone. This makes me sad for my children, but not for me. The world doesn’t understand what it is like to be me. They will never get the demons that I live with. The loss, sadness, anger and guilt; the emotions I feel that can’t even be put into words. I put every ounce of my being into my children and getting through my day. I don’t have any room for someone else - anywhere.

My children and I went trick or treating tonight. My second time without you. But last year – last year I remember ducking into corners and calling your cell phone a millions times. I would call and call just to hear your voice saying to leave a message. I seriously must have called your number over and over every chance I got. Sometimes I left you messages - like how could you be dead and not here with us. Sometimes I really thought by some miracle you would just pick up your phone. I was completely insane last year. I wandered the streets with the kids with my stunned zombie face and every single person who saw me looked upset for me.

Tonight I painted my face so you couldn’t see how I feel. We weaved through the crowds of people and no one this year gave me a second glance. I am not upset by my lack of attention. I just want our lives to go back to as normal as is possible. The kids had a great time, but I made them make one last stop before we headed home.

We went to the old house. As we walked up the path my son said – can I tell them we used to live here. I said of course. I walked right up to them and said - Hi we used to live here. We had some wonderful memories here and hope you enjoy your new house. They smiled and said thank you. I made sure the kids got double treats from them.

Alas, little did they know I am completely torn up about egging the place. Obviously I won’t. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Time is such a strange thing. This year has felt like forever and yet part of me feels like you died only today. Today I don’t feel the same pain that consumed me when I found your body – the overwhelming sensation that I am forever changed. The rawness of it – the shock, the nonsense of what happened – that has little by little seeped out of me over the last 365 days.

This morning I stood in front of a mirror, trying to figure out who I am and where I am going. I walked away without any answers. All I could focus on was today you are dead a year. You have missed so much in one little year, it is utterly astounding. More importantly, what you will continue to miss pains me even more.

You have missed teaching your son to tie his shoes and how to throw a football. You have missed your daughter entering kindergarten and learning how to read. You have missed your oldest son excel to great heights in his career. You have missed birthdays, soccer games, report cards and skinned knees. You have missed major temper tantrums and truly lovely peaceful moments. You have missed watching your children smile, hearing their laughter and feeling their kisses.

You have missed 365 nights of spending time with me.

I have officially survived a year of firsts. I have celebrated every holiday, birthday, anniversary and day without you here by my side. I have gotten out of bed every morning without you. I have somehow gotten our children through the first year of your death. There is an odd sense of relief knowing that this year is over. But then I think back and just can’t believe I have survived this year without going insane. I really do not know how I got through it. How I got up each and every morning, got my children out of the house and started our day. I really absolutely have no idea how I did it. The only thought that continually comes to mind is that I did it for them. I have lived every day this year trying to act normal for my children. I did everything and still do everything just for my babies.

This morning the children and I along with a few friends went to the cemetery. The kids made you birthday cards and put them at the foot of your stone covered with bright shinny rocks. I thought I was going to be fine. I didn’t think I would cry. I thought I could be strong. I was very wrong. I looked at the children placing the cards just right, I looked at my friends and then I looked at your name. The weight of the world crashed onto me for a moment and I just went hysterical. The finality of it all. The end of the end. How you have been gone for a year is just madness to try and comprehend.

Your headstone is covered in rocks – a reminder to me of how many times I have visited you over the year. I stood there today just taking in the whole year – feeling everything I have gone through almost at the same time. It is strange – strange to think you will be there forever. So unbelievably difficult to imagine I really will never ever see you again.

Parts of me have spent this past year on an emotional roller coaster. I have spent the last year loving you, missing you, hating you and feeling guilty about you. Some days I only feel one of these emotions. Sometimes I feel them all in a matter of seconds. I don’t feel closure today. I don’t know what I feel.

What I do realize today is that I am always going to love you, miss you, hate you and feel some guilt towards your death. These feeling don’t go away just because the first year is over. In fact, I think in a way I will always and forever feel this way. Maybe some of my feelings will lessen over the years. Maybe someday I will actually have to sit and close my eyes to picture the day you died. Maybe the haunting of the garage will someday fade away. But the deep feelings I have for you will always be with me forever and forever.

In some ways the scariest part of you being gone lies ahead. As the truth of my life unfolds before me, I am left realizing that yes, you are really dead. You are never coming back. My children have a dead father and I am really all alone. I think back to ten years ago when we were engaged. The world was open to so may amazing possibilities. The road we were going to travel down together was filled with so many plans, dreams and wonderful things waiting for us.

Now I sit here alone, writing about death and suicide and the next ten years terrify me. I am forced to take a path in life I never intended. I am walking this new route with two small children in tow. I am not sure what the future holds and only know that at the end of the day, there are two perfect beings who need me always.

I hope that I can make a wonderful life for them despite this major pitfall. I hope that I can make you proud of us and live our life filled with love and happiness. I hope you know that no matter what happens to us – you are always here with us. Always in our hearts and we will never stop loving you.

There are two things that I have been dreading for some time. Dealing with your year anniversary was a big one. Turning the corner of my street and seeing a moving truck was another. The house has been empty for six months. I have felt your loss and the loss of the house as if they were one in the same. Really it was the loss of my old life that I have been missing.

Today as I returned home from the cemetery there was a moving truck parked outside my old house. Today of all days my dead house is being inhabited. I cried for you and over the house today. But I don’t believe in coincidences. I feel very strongly that somehow G-d was closing all the doors of my old life today.

I pray that whatever door opens next is filled with a peace my children and I have not known for a long long time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Final Days

This month is speeding past me and I am finding it difficult to catch my breath. In one instance I want to get to the end so I am past October – on the other hand I am trying to cling to every day this month – reliving the memories I have left of you. This week I am living our final days together.

I bounce in between trying to remember you fondly and all the special times we spent together; as well, I am analyzing your every move, every word you spoke, to see if somehow you were trying to hint to me what you were planning and I just missed it.

Yesterday morning after I dropped the children off to school I went to walk home and suddenly found myself standing outside the garage. I don’t know how I got there. All I know is that I looked up and there I was; stuck in the place where your life ended and my life, as I knew it, did too. I was trying so hard to figure out how you drove your car inside, kept the motor running, walked over to the metal garage door and locked it. Knowing full well you would never walk out – and knowing even more so, that I would find your body.

I suppose in a way I am just torturing myself when I go physically and mentally to this place. I can’t help it. I can’t help but feel the need to punish myself at times over and over for the mere fact that you are dead and I am not.

I ran an errand and on my way home bumped into my neighbor who also lost her husband to suicide. She smiled at me and asked how I was. I smiled back and said fine. Did you ever have an inkling that he was planning on doing what he did, she asked me. I wasn’t even taken aback by her question. Maybe once upon a time I would have – but these questions don’t affect me at all. I don’t feel anything anymore - it was as if she asked me what day of the week it is.

I told her no, I didn’t have a clue. She sighed and said no, her either. She then went on and on to tell me how ten years after her husband’s death she still can’t believe he is gone. He didn’t have to die, she said. He could have talked to me, gotten help. He had so much to live for and didn’t have to kill himself. I don’t say anything and just let her vent. I keep my poker face on and nod my head, pretty much agreeing with everything she said.

I went home after listening to her for a while and realized how sad she made me feel. How terribly horrible I felt walking away from her. I was upset for her situation, but also felt like I am looking into my future when I see this woman. She is ten years into her suicide situation and has still found zero peace with her husband or herself.

I realize that I will never forget what my husband did. I know that I will miss him forever and that I will always wonder where I went wrong. It makes the future seem almost bleak at times. Even though I have two beautiful young children who I will watch grow and learn and change. I will never be able to rid myself of these memories and these feeling that cause utter turmoil in my heart. Knowing that I will live with this terrible tragedy for the rest of my life - well it just makes me feel broken.

Part of me thinks it is impossible to think anything other than I really am going to be sad forever. I may have almost gotten to the year, but at times I still feel like I am standing over your body watching your life slip away. I know I am supposed to cherish my life and my children and all my blessing and I do. But sometimes I also just wonder how you could have left me and your three beautiful children; left us behind to feel empty, destroyed and broken beyond repair.

This week I am really struggling with my memories of you. I think about how disconnected you were towards me the month before you died. I think about all the bad things I discovered after your death. I think about the man who I fell in love with and had two children with. I have all these emotions and thoughts coursing through my brain everyday. Sometimes I don’t know which ones to keep and which ones to try and rid myself of. Happy memories remind me why I loved you and married you and make me miss you so much it hurts. Unhappy thoughts make me feel terrible and angry and full of guilt. I am torn between the good and the bad. I guess deep down I know the answer. I love you and always will no matter what. So I will probably always suffer too.

I keep getting asked what I am going to do on Sunday. I don’t know - cry and mope and act miserable. Take my children to the cemetery and then the park where I will act like it is just another day. In a way, it is just another day that I must suffer through without your presence. Without hearing you crack a bad joke or tell me something sweet. It is just another day your children and I must live life without you.

Nothing is going to change on Sunday. Your final days with me are zooming by and I am trying to hold on for this horrible terrible ride. When I wake up Monday morning how am I going to feel then? When every memory I have of you will be older than a year is truly when the hard part starts. This is the question no one thinks to ask

When the year of firsts is gone, how will I feel the day after?

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have spent the last two weeks completely disconnected from reality. I feel like I have been floating in between worlds. I am taking care of the children, going to work, doing what has to be done – but all the while feeling like it has been someone else living my life. I have felt completely removed from the month of October.

Part of it is my way of protecting myself. I have been dreading this month and the weeks to follow with such passion and intensity; I think I am just afraid of feeling anything at all.

The children and I had therapy Tuesday night and then I had my own group last night. To say that I have had therapy overload is an understatement. I sat in both groups talking and going through the motions, but without feeling anything at all. I was almost worried about myself. Like my heart has turned to stone and maybe I will never feel anything again.

Then I woke up this morning. Every thought and feeling I have had these past few weeks and pushed away came crashing upon me with such force, I just couldn’t breathe. Today I feel like I am plugged into every emotion on the planet and it is drowning me.

Today is your birthday. Today, based on the Hebrew calendar is the one year anniversary of the day you died. Today is six months since we moved from our house. Today is just insane.

I have had some really horrible mornings with the children lately. I hate the rushing, the yelling and the non-stop crazy that begins every single day. There are always tears and tantrums and then I must drop my babies off to school with a quick kiss and leave them for the day. I hate the mornings.

Today was no different. The children looked up into the sky and wished you a happy birthday. I tried to put on a smile but misery was on my face and I didn’t know where to put it. As I dropped my daughter off to school I hugged her with such ferocity that I just started sobbing. Thankfully I had sunglasses on and she didn’t notice. I ran home as the sobs just consumed me. I haven’t cried in public like this for months and doing so just destroys me more.

I ran to my car and drove straight to the cemetery. I didn’t even think about where I was going. The car just takes me there now without any prompting. I sat at your grave for quite some time just looking at your name and the date and taking it all in. Today, yesterday, the entire past year – it all seems like just a quick moment has passed and yet it feels like an eternity.

I sat down on the wet grass and wished you a happy birthday. I told you I was sorry I wasn’t making you meatloaf and mashed potatoes tonight – like I did on your birthday last year. I cried and cried and then I just stopped. I sat with you for a long time and felt so empty inside.

Each time I go to your grave I somehow expect you to appear. I expect you to walk out of the shadows and answer me when I talk to you. I expect to somehow feel your presence when I am there and yet I never do. I never ever feel you near me and it feels horrible. I am slowly losing you. I find it harder and harder to feel my connection to you. It feels like as the first year comes to a close my memories are fading. This is confusing. I feel horrified by this disconnection and yet I wonder if this is just how my heart is mending itself.

I sat at the grave thinking about how my emotions are so two faced. I love you with every ounce of my being. I hate you with a passion that courses through my veins. I gave you my heart and devoted my life to you and our children. I wonder how you could say you love me and then kill yourself. This is such a contradiction to me. How you seemed to willingly die and left me to fend for myself and be alone. I don’t know how you could have done this to me.

Sometimes I wonder what you want me to do with the rest of my life. If you want me to move on and live my life to great potential or if you want me to forever be mourning you and stay stuck. I wish somehow you could tell me what I am supposed to do – because I just don’t know. I have spent the last year thinking about the past. About all my mistakes and shortcomings and what I should have done. I realize that the past will always be there. Nothing will change it. When I sit at your grave and look up into the beautiful perfect blue sky I realize that it is the future which now terrifies me to no end. What to do now? Many nights I lie in bed and pray to G-d to send me an angel. I ask G-d for someone to help me with the children and to make me feel whole again. Sometimes I feel guilty asking for anything.

There is a huge part of me that wants my children to have a father again. I want them to feel part of a family and not just the broken mess I am trying to keep together. But I don’t want another husband. I don’t want to pretend like I am ever going to be in another relationship, when I am destroyed by the one I had with you. I am forever changed and it would truly take an angel to accept the person I am now. I don’t really know what I want anymore. I am lost and confused and this is just another inner struggle I have and maybe will have forever.

In ten days I will take the children to the cemetery. It will be one year. It will be the day you tried to live and failed. It will be the hardest day of the year to face. When I finally get to the year I will no longer be able to look back and remember where we were a year ago today. I will have lost you for good.

And then it will all be over . . .

Thursday, October 7, 2010


October – here we go.

The month I have been dreading since you died. This month is filled with more anxiety and emotional stress than any other time of the year. October. It feels like everyday there is something to reflect back on – everyday there is something to worry about and fear.

There are more firsts in this month then any other in the entire year – and soon it will all be over. I will have reached your one year anniversary and have nothing of you left.

I can’t tell you anything about this past year – nothing at all. I got through this year simply dazed and confused – a walking zombie with a fake smile. But I could tell you every single day about the month of October 2009. I remember the last month I spent with my husband as if I were reliving it now. This is a difficult time for me to say the least.

There are so many birthdays this month and so many people I love died this month it seems my brain and heart are working over time just to get through each and every day.

Next week my children have therapy, I have therapy and then it is your birthday and the Hebrew anniversary of your death. That all happens in just three days next week – the whole month is like this for me. A swirling of happy times and sad times and I won’t sleep till November.

I can tell the year is closing in as my family is starting to get angry with me. Apparently I was getting a slight break over the past year – but now I am no longer admonished from my actions. Well at least some things are back to normal. My mother actually yelled at me yesterday and told me to start thinking about someone other than myself for a change. I almost laughed. I don’t think I have been thinking of myself at all this year. I am thinking about death and children. Just death and children as I haven’t a clue how to think about me - not even close.

My brother is annoyed with me because I never blog about him. I tried to explain why our mom gets top billing – I fight with her more than anyone else in the world. I use this blog to get rid of my anger and to tell her how I feel without speaking on the phone. Regardless, he made me think about the fact that maybe I am doing some other important family members an injustice by not mentioning them. That I am taking my family for granted as I never acknowledge how much they do for me or how much I rely on them. I guess I thank my friends more publicly because they choose to help me – my family has no choice – they are just stuck with me.

My siblings are extraordinary and even when I ignore their calls or their invites to visit, I hope they know not to take it personally and realize how much I love them. My step-father has been my rock since I can remember and I don’t think I have ever mentioned him once in this blog. He is the first person I call whenever a crisis strikes me and I feel very bad about this. I never call him when there is good news - only when I am backed up against a wall, crying and worried. He always talks me off the ledge of anxiety and fixes everything. I guess I take for granted that he is always going to be there for me. Sorry B – I love you more than words can say and would be lost without you. You have done more for me than anyone else since I am 15. Thank you.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I lay in bed exhausted but sleep would just not come. So instead of trying to close my eyes and relax I started to read my blog from the beginning. Trying to see how far from that sad girl I have become since a year has almost past. But after reading for a while I realized that I am not different at all. I haven’t changed much in eleven and a half months. Maybe I am no longer in shock and maybe I am not waiting for you to walk through the door. But I still miss you everyday and still wake up and wonder how it is possible that you are dead.

I am still two very distinct and different people. I am the person who the world sees. The mom who goes to work and picks her children up from school and goes to the park and does whatever a mom should. Then I am the person who found her husband’s dead body after he killed himself. I am the person who is forever changed and will never be who I once was. I am forever different and no amount of therapy and talking it out is going to change the fact that I am different inside. I just am.

Maybe I am being melodramatic about the month of October. Maybe when Halloween finally comes I will breathe a sigh of relief. All I know is that this is the hardest month I have had to face and there is no turning back.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Last night my children and I had therapy again. There was a new person who joined the group and her reason for being there was suicide. There are now actually four of us in group as a result of suicide. Only one mother’s children know the truth.

I brought up my biggest fear and concern to the group. My children don’t really know how their father died. I have had a conversation with them in my head a million times. I start by saying how daddy suffered from depression but when I try to make the transition to what he actually did to himself, my heart starts pounding and I can’t continue. This is really why I haven’t told them yet. I just couldn’t find the words.

We went around the room and many people also said they were afraid to tell their children, because they didn’t want them to think it was their fault. Or add any more fears to the already growing list young children are afraid of after a death. The therapist gave us her opinion. She said that children can handle almost any news we tell them better than we give them credit for.

I said that I felt like maybe I missed my chance in telling the truth as they have never really asked me specifics about how their daddy died. They accepted when I told them daddy had a boo boo in his brain and have mostly focused on the fact that he is just not here anymore. The therapist said I did not miss the boat- in fact them being in therapy is the perfect time to tell them. Once they know what happened, they can talk about it here with the therapists in a safe and comfortable place.

Maybe it is that the year is coming up. Maybe it is the fear and anxiety of them not knowing that has weighed on me so intensely these past few months. Maybe it is the acupuncture I got on Monday. The woman stuck me with a ton of needles to alleviate stress, anxiety and grief. Maybe it was just time for me to find the words.

Tonight at dinner I sat across the table from my two babies and asked them if they had any questions about how daddy died. They both sort of shook their heads. I said to them, there are things I want you to know about how daddy died. I want you to hear them from me and not anyone else. My son started to cry and my daughter looked at me angrily and said – stop saying the words daddy died – you know this makes him cry! My son nodded his head and said, maybe you could say “passed away” instead. I almost went hysterical then. They are so smart and so wonderful to each other and here I am about to drop a bomb in their laps.

I took a deep breath and this is what I said: Daddy had a boo boo in his brain and this boo boo is called depression. When daddy looked out into the world he only saw darkness. He didn’t see anything good in his life. I pointed to them and said he didn’t see you two, he didn’t see me, he didn’t see anything at all. He just saw black. When daddy felt this happen to him he decided that he had to die. He couldn’t live just seeing darkness. He took his car into our friend’s garage and he breathed the poisonous fumes and in a minute he died. This is called suicide.

My son looked at me and asked – daddy did this? I said yes. He asked why the fumes were poisonous. I said when you are in a small space without any air you cough and it makes you close your eyes and then you die. He said daddy coughed for a minute like this – and then he started coughing for a long time. I got up in the middle of his mimicking, opened a beer from the fridge, sat back down at the table gulping and gulping and trying to keep myself in check.

I told them that I called the ambulance but it was too late to help daddy. He knew what he did and is in a much better place. They just sat there looking at me. So then I told them I have two more very important things to say. One is that even though daddy only saw darkness he loved you both more than anything else in the entire world. The other really important thing is that I love you more than anything else in the entire world and I am always here for you.

They didn’t ask any more questions. Nobody cried. I sat at the table starring at them in wonder. How did they handle this news so well and how did it take me eleven months to tell them? I feel horrible right now, but really relieved. Horrible that I told my children the terrible secret that I have been holding inside for so long; but relieved that I finally said the truth. Relieved that I don’t have to worry anymore about them hearing the truth from someone other than me.

Now I must go as I am so not done drinking beer tonight. As well, October is only a day away and more firsts and fears await me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Get It

I get that this isn’t my fault. That there was nothing I could have done to stop this. I get that it wasn’t because I was a terrible wife or a bad friend to you. I get that it wasn’t because of the mortgage or other problems. I get that I missed every single sign because there were no signs to see. I get that when I looked into your eyes and saw your stress – the same kind I see in lots of other people – I never saw death.

The anger subsides the more I tell myself this. The more I try to understand that in your final hours you didn’t see me at all. You didn’t see your three amazing unbelievable wonderful children. I get that I could not have stopped you because you could not have stopped yourself. The anger slides away as I realize you just must have been suffering so immensely, that you couldn’t think of any other way out of the darkness you were in.

The sorrow and pain I feel now is that you did suffer so very much and I didn’t know. The pain I feel now is that I truly didn’t know you were in such a dark place. This I am so sorry for my love. This is what I feel now. I realize after eleven months it wasn’t my fault and it really wasn’t your fault. It is just that now I have to pick up all the pieces and take care of the children and there is no one left to blame. You are dead and there is just no changing this one simple fact.

You have been the topic of conversation in our house much more than usual. I suppose it is because the children are in therapy that you are in the forefront of their brains. So now every night my son cries at some point and my daughter turns to look at him, wondering why he is crying. It is so interesting the difference between how the two of them grieve you. Your daughter was a week shy of her fourth birthday and soon she will turn five. But what does she really understand about death? Only what I tell her. She knows you are gone, but doesn’t really grasp much more than that. Does she miss you? Absolutely; but talking about you never makes her cry.

Your son however, mourns you like me. Just talking about you sets him off crying that he tends to just not want to talk about you at all, as he hates to cry. We sat at dinner the other night and when I mentioned you the crying started. I looked at the two of them and said, “We are going to talk about daddy for the rest of our lives. Sometimes we will cry when we talk about him. Sometimes we will laugh, remembering how funny he was. Sometimes, maybe we will do both at the same time.” Then of course they tried to laugh and cry simultaneously which caused their milk to spill from their noses and mouths – it made a mess, but made the moment not so terrible for them.

As for me, I am trying not to think about the month of October. The more I try the more all consuming it becomes. I am trying to figure out how the hell I have survived this past year. I am trying to figure out how it is really possible that you have been dead for almost a year. It just can’t be so. I see you so alive and so clearly as if I just saw you a moment ago. I can’t breathe when I think about the reality of you being gone. I am just devastated that you are dead. It doesn’t seem to matter how many years will pass – I miss you and I am devastated that you are gone.

I never thought I would be healed by the time I hit a year. I never thought I would wake up on October 24 and feel great. I do however wonder if I will ever feel differently again. I want to talk about you and remember you more and more as it gets closer to the date. I just want the year to come already and yet – I dread it coming. I can’t possibly find the strength to acknowledge you have been gone a year.

My whole life makes zero sense to me now. I can’t keep a thought in my head. I can’t make small talk to people who don’t know what happened. I need a new fake smile because everything else seems to be failing me now. I don’t want people to look at me and see suicide and death – but it is all I see these days. All I know is mourning and I hate this – the sadness and sorrow that fills me. I just want to be the girl I once was. I just want to be a great understanding mom. I am not sure how to be a normal person anymore. This part I just don’t get at all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fight Club

Last night the children and I attended our first family therapy session. My brother teased me that if I kept this up I was going to turn into the girl from Fight Club – who constantly goes to random group therapies for the rush of it. Trust me; this is not, so not going to happen to me.

On a positive note – the kids are in a group with other small children who all lost their fathers. Kind of sick that this is what I find positive. At the very least they met children who have suffered a loss similar to their own and hopefully won’t feel so different when this experience is over. I however had to sit in another group with the parents and listen to more horrible, sad and tragic stories.

I am able to relate to everyone on one level. We are all raising children who have lost a very close loved one. We are all trying to figure out the best ways to approach their questions, their sadness and their anger. Hopefully I will gain some useful information that can help me navigate through all this death crap.

The reality is that for me the connection begins and ends with my children. I don’t belong in a room with people who have lost their spouses to cancer or disease. In fact I envy the simplicity of their situation. If I said this out loud they would be appalled with me. But they cannot possibly understand how much I wish my answer was something simple like heart attack, car accident – whatever. Anything to me seems simpler than suicide.

So I will sit in this group for the next nine sessions and do it for my children. My friend asked me what did I get out of yesterday's experience. My answer was how much I appreciate my monthly suicide group. How much it means to me to be able to talk about suicide without having to explain so much of how I feel everyday. I don’t want to rehash the day I found you with another group of people. I don’t want to have to explain my guilt and sadness and anger – I just can’t do it anymore. I have relived the day you died a million times in my head. Please don’t make me say it out loud to a group who just won’t get any of it!

I had a pretty horrible weekend. For a variety of reasons – but the biggest one is that I totally lost my ability to fake my emotions. In fact, I am almost pleased about this turn of events. This Friday you will be dead eleven months. So for eleven months now I have had a big fat fake smile plastered onto my face. I wanted everyone to look at me and think I was doing fine and could handle it all. You know what? I am tired of trying to make everyone else feel good about me. I am tired of trying to conceal my pain and angst. I am just really freaking tired.

So I sat in the park and sulked. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and would have sat in my house all day sulking if I didn’t have two small kids who needed fresh air. I just wanted to be left alone and for the first time in eleven months didn’t go out of my way to hide this fact. I upset a lot of people and I feel bad about this – but sometimes I just can’t pretend like everything is fine and everyone who knows me and loves me is just going to have to accept this.

I know this is a rough time of year for all of my friends with kids in school. Everything is changing and nothing is really in routine yet and everyone is out of sorts. I get that this is partly the cause of my stress. Once we get into the swing of things everything will be a little bit calmer and easier. At least I really hope so.

But right now I feel like I live in a tornado – life is a whirlwind of actions and everything is flying over my head and I am busier than I ever was before. I have lists upon lists of stupid idiotic stuff to take care of and it all just seems impossible.

Everyone keeps asking me what are you doing to take care of you? What are you doing for yourself? Please stop asking me this utterly annoying question. You know what I am doing to take care of me. I fantasize about throwing rocks through the window of my old house or crashing my car into the idiot driving in front of me or screaming at the oblivious self centered parents at my kid’s school. That is my big thrill at the moment. This is not the answer you want – but this is what makes me feel better. I don’t do anything rash or ridiculous or break the law. I am trying to keep myself together. I am trying to put mascara on without a nervous breakdown – this is what I am doing for me.

I am trying not to think about Friday. I am trying not to think about how I have one more month left and then I must face the year. I am trying not to think about how much I love the month of October and yet only horrible terrible things have happened these past few years. I am trying to do my best despite the obstacles life is throwing at me.

I am trying not to turn into a Fight Club Girl in any regards – whether it refers to therapy or kicking someone in the shins for saying something so utterly stupid to me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Too Much

I am having an impossibly difficult week. I don’t know why every single thing just feels like it is too much for me. Dinner, homework, laundry, therapy – everything is overwhelming and stressful.

I am frustrated with myself because I am going backwards. I am not sure what the trigger is but it all just feels like too much.

I drive by the garage where you died a million times in a week. I barely even glance at it anymore. Yesterday morning after I took the children to school and left for work I drove past the garage – but this time was different. For some reason I glanced over to the sidewalk and your body was lying on the ground. I saw myself kneeling over you hysterical and I almost crashed into a parked car reliving the scene in my mind. I don’t know where the ghosts came from – but they were there and very real. I spent the entire way to work reliving that scene over and over in my head. I can barely recall anything from this past year – but the day you died – I remember every minute of it as if it were happening again.

I am having serious trouble with my time management and dealing with the children. I am just overwhelmed with the start of school and our new schedule. I am annoyed and upset that I am having so much trouble with this transition. I got through almost all of last year’s school year alone. I was fine – I did everything I was supposed to and more. What is it about this new year that is breaking my spirit? I keep asking myself this and wonder if I was just in shock for most of it that I didn’t feel anything. Maybe the start of the new school year by myself is just a reminder that this is my life now. I will always be alone and every year will just be me and there is no going back to the way it once was.

I went to therapy last night. I told the group how everything somehow feels like it is too much for me and then I cried. The moderator reminded me that October is approaching and maybe deep down this is what is really troubling me. Maybe he is right. Next month you will be dead a year and it still seems impossible. How – how have you been gone for so long – when just yesterday I saw you on the sidewalk. Maybe I am just going crazy.

I feel like I have been living underwater for all this time. When I do finally come to the surface the first breath I take will be one where I am gasping for air – trying to make sense of it all. Sometimes I feel like I have reached the surface and sometimes I feel like I am still drowning.

I did feel better after I left group. Being able to share my feelings and hearing how others are struggling with the ups and downs - it feels like the weight of the month has been released – at least for a little while. One person said that it has been over a year since his loved one died and he has not changed, but everyone around him has moved on. It is true for me too. On the outside my life is moving forward; I take care of my children and do everything that must get done. But on the inside my heart has not moved an inch since the day my husband died. But no one sees what is inside my soul. No one sees that I am devastated inside – they see what I want them to and they see a mom who does it all and never complains.

It feels very unfair to be falling backwards. Like the moment I let the anxiety of life take over, the demons from my loss don’t waste even a second to pounce on my fragile state. Like I am always at war with the outside world and even myself – like showing any weakness is my worst enemy.

Apparently I have to learn to fight harder and shield myself with better armor. I have to learn to calm down, deal with my time management and not let our new schedule get the better of me. Starting back to school seems to be harder on me than it is the children. I only want to be a great mom and a calm mom and I guess it means I have to try and push myself even more. This would be a difficult time of year even if my husband were alive. I keep trying to remind myself this. That even if I wasn’t overwrought with grief and sadness - the stress of life would still be here and I just have to keep moving forward.

Friday, September 10, 2010


For the past two days I have been doing a lot of reflecting. The Jewish New Year is upon us and this is a very special time. As Jews we are supposed to be asking G-d for whatever we want for the upcoming year. I spent hours in synagogue yesterday with my eyes squeezed tight as can be – praying and also trying not to cry.

What do I really want to ask G-d I kept thinking? What do I want for the New Year? My first reaction is to say I want a year opposite of the one that just past. But then I think about this thought and say no – this isn’t entirely true.

I obviously don’t want to suffer a loss of any kind. But I have learned a great deal about myself and others this year and I wouldn’t take that away for anything.

I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. That throughout mourning and tragedy I can still laugh at myself. Despite the fact that my children have lost their father – they are still amazing children who play and laugh and love life. You would never be able to pick my children out in the park and know immediately they lost their father.

I learned who my friends are – really and truly deep down to the core. I learned that despite how much I fight with my mother – I would be utterly lost without her. I learned that my family is still morning for my husband and feels a sadness I wish I could take away from them all. I learned that my friends still think of my husband fondly and I am not the only one who misses him terribly.

I learned who I can call at 2am with any crisis. I have watched my family, friends, community and strangers rise above and beyond what any one person deserves. I learned that no matter what has happened no one judges me, treats me differently and I only feel compassion and love.

I have learned about myself a great many things. I realize now how much stress affects me and I am stressed all the time. I learned to ask for help when I hate asking for help. I learned to say NO when something really just got too much for me. I realized that being a mom has saved my life.

I realize that this past year has shown me how much I should appreciate my life and my children and not to take even the tiniest thing for granted. I learned not to complain because it just doesn’t solve anything. I learned not to be angry at people and try to rid myself of past grudges because life is just too short.

So what do I want to ask G-d for this New Year? Not too much as I have been blessed with so much already. All I really want is to stay healthy so I can care for my children. I want my friends and family to stay healthy as well. I want to be able to someday somehow be as good a friend to someone else as I have received this year. I want my family to stop being sad for me. I want all my children to have a productive school year and feel as blessed and special as they are.

The only other thing I ask from G-d is for direction. To put me in a place where I can be happy again in life. I want to find a career that allows me to be there for my children and also put food on the table. I want to find something that is just for me and that I love – whatever it may be.

I want to laugh again and really feel like it is OK to be laughing. I want my husband’s soul to be at peace. I want to visit his grave only sometimes and not every week. I want to find some happy medium between mourning him and remembering him.

Thank you G-d – Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Life Now

There are moments when I don’t think about you at all. Our days are busy and the children always want or need me in some capacity and I just act like a regular mom. It seems to be getting easier, the not thinking about you part. Except when I crawl into bed each night, look at your side and remember that it is going to stay empty. I try to push the thoughts away.

Then there are days where there is a crisis with a family member or a friend and the first thing I instinctually do is reach for the phone to call you. I watch as my hand moves to grab my cell and my brain stops me before I dial, but my heart wants to call you nevertheless. Then the pain comes back and I miss you terribly.

There has been a lot of drama lately and more than once over the past week I have gone to call you. Knowing that I can’t seems to make whatever crisis I am dealing with that much worse, because you are just dead, completely unreachable. I can’t hear your voice and you aren’t here to help me in any way. I miss talking to you and having you as my voice of reason. I miss you telling me that everything is going to be OK. Deep down I really just miss you so very much.

Our son looked at me the other day and said, “Mommy it is almost a year that daddy is dead.” I looked at him and just said yes, that is true. I was waiting for him to say something else, anything else. But he went back to building his Lego City and that was that. It is amazing to me how little we talk about you now. I still ponder whether this is good or bad. I wonder if maybe it is time to open the boxes with your photos. That maybe your image won’t be so difficult to look at and the children need your face around – to remind them how much they were loved by their daddy. But I am a coward at heart and don’t know when this will happen.

Our baby girl starts Kindergarten in two days. You aren’t going to be here to watch her set off with her brand new backpack and go to school like the big girl she has grown into this year. You won’t be here to make fun of me when I fall to pieces moments after I walk out of her classroom. She won’t miss your presence as you have been dead over ten months now – and this is a long long time for her. But me – I will sob extra tears for her growing up and you missing yet another milestone.

The Jewish New Year is also this week. Another holiday I must get through without you. I am apathetic about this holiday – no surprise. I will go to services, go to some meals and do it all for the children. My heart just isn’t into anything these days. I go through the motions for my kids and because it is what I am supposed to do – keep my life normal and all that. But it saddens me that everything I seem to do these days is just going through the motions. True I don’t mourn and cry like I used to. True time makes the pain edge it way slowly away – but life is just not the same and maybe it never will be.

Yesterday I took the kids to the park. I was the only mom. It was only because I have no idea what day it is that at first I couldn’t understand where all the women were. Then I realized it is Sunday – aka mommy’s day off. Dads are home and they are the ones taking the kids to the park while moms do anything but go to the park. I didn’t dwell on this fact – I just pretended like it was a Tuesday. I played soccer with my son and tried to teach my daughter to ride her bike without hitting the fence.

This is just life now. Getting through each day, dealing with any crisis that comes along, showing my children a fun time and trying not to look like the mourning widow I really am deep down inside.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ten Months

I have spent the last week and a half not writing. I am not sure why. It wasn’t intentional – like I chose to stay away from the computer. Just that the longer it got, the more I wanted to stay away. Starting yesterday I have felt the pull that used to overcome me everyday. The pull from my brain telling the rest of my body I need to purge. Get the all consuming thoughts out, as I am keeping too much inside and am about to burst.

So here I am.

Ten months just passed and the year anniversary of your death is looming over me. I have already started to write the year blog in my head and I am not even there yet. I am already terrified of the month of October – but that is another story altogether. I suppose a huge part of me just wants this first year over with. But there are still so many milestones to pass in the next few months. So many firsts still to conquer – this year is not going to end without more drama in my heart.

Our anniversary is in two days. We would have been married eight years. I am not going to dwell on this day. I am not going to look at our wedding album. This was our yearly ritual. We would look at the album and reminisce about what an amazing day it was. I haven’t even unpacked the album – it is going to stay in the box somewhere in the basement – untouched for now. I can’t possibly look at it – maybe I never will again.

I have learned some things about you this week that upsets me greatly. I think the worst part about finding out something new about the person I married and loved is not being able to ask them directly. I feel like another mystery is upon me. I wish I could sit with you and talk about it and process all that I learned. It doesn’t matter what it is – your suicide is still inexcusable to me. But this new knowledge makes me very angry with you. It makes the person I love fade a bit more and the person I am angry with rise to the surface.

I recently read your suicide note again. Though I really have it committed to memory, I tried to read it with new eyes. I tried to not think about what it said but what you were really trying to say to me – in between the lines so to speak. You told me that the children and I would be fine. You told me not to blame myself. I have been trying to focus on this line and believe you. I am trying really hard to get over the guilt I feel. To realize that there was no possible way I could have seen this coming and nothing I could have done to change the course of events that lead you to this decision.

Some days I feel like I was the best wife and friend I could have been under the circumstances and that I really shouldn’t blame myself. Then there are days where the children are talking about you and they miss you and I feel like there should have been some way I should have known. Mostly I feel very sad on these days. I miss you and wish our children didn’t have to grow up under such a blanket of sorrow. Usually the sadness and guilt go hand in hand.

I feel almost guilty saying this – but the guilt feelings that once kept me a prisoner in my own mind are actually starting to feel less constricting. I am not sure how this is happening; maybe the truth is that I just no longer want to feel guilty. I want to be able to sleep without the awful what ifs running through my head. It is amazing to me how I don’t wake up each Saturday with the pangs of dread I once did or how I don’t see your face the day you died as much. The memories of your death have seemed to lessen slightly and I only hope it continues. I don’t want to forget you at all. I guess I just want to forget how you made me feel the day you died and how I have struggled so hard all this time.

What consumes me now is the future. The new school year is about to start and I am feeling stressed about what is to come. Nothing in particular – just a new beginning with only me running the show. It is really hard being a single mom however I got to this place. I don’t want to start the school year still feeling guilty, sad and remorse. I am trying to get my act together so that I can be a good mother to my children and hope that I don’t screw anything more up.

Did I ever expect after a mere ten months to say the guilt is fading? Maybe it is the anger I feel towards you today that helps. Maybe it is your letter that tells me not to blame myself. Maybe it is that my children deserve a whole mother to care for them – not the incomplete mess I have been in the past.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Seven years ago this week I was as large as the broad side of a barn. Way past my due date with our first child and thought I was a ticking time bomb. I remember calling you several times a night at work, to tell you that I thought this was “the call”! Only to call back moments later to say, false alarm – but please bring home some chili. It was a hot August and I was so pregnant and you would come home with whatever insane item I requested. You would rub my feet and talk to my belly and sit and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s with me. I remember that week so well.

This Sunday, August 22 our first child together turns seven and you aren’t here. Not to reminisce about that time, not to celebrate, not to do anything.

I didn’t anticipate how difficult this time of year would be for me. All week I have been falling into a downward spiral of sadness and despair and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I didn’t have this reaction with our daughter’s birthday. Maybe this is why I just wasn’t mentally prepared for how terrible this birthday was going to feel for me.

I realize now that you were only dead one week when our daughter turned four. I was still deeply covered in a blanket of shock and bewilderment when she blew out four candles on her princess cake. I was still knee deep in Shiva and mourning and her birthday to me was just another Shiva call – with the addition of four year olds and balloons. I don’t remember how I felt that day, because to be honest, I don’t think I felt anything at all. I was just numb.

But now it has been ten months. I am well over the shock. I am no longer a zombie. I feel everything and it feels terrible. I am irritated and angry, upset and gloomy, depressed and angry some more. I feel awful in my own skin and nothing seems to make these terrible feelings go away.

I went to the cemetery yesterday and just cried. I sat next to your stone and pleaded with G-d to send you home. Pleaded and screamed to the universe to just let you return – if only for one day. Please don’t make me celebrate this birthday without you! It is unbearable and I just can’t make any sense of anything right now.

I am heartbroken you are dead and devastated that our children are growing up and you are missing it all. It just hit me so hard this week that you are dead. That you aren’t here for them or for me and that you are just dead. I have been wandering around the house late at night – just trying to get away from myself. But no matter what room I go in, what book I pick up, what food I shove into my mouth – the dark cloud follows me and I am, of course, still me.

I hate that you aren’t going to be here on Sunday. Our precious son is turning seven and you aren’t here to witness the amazing person he is becoming – right before my very eyes. You aren’t here with me to just stare at him like we used to and marvel at how huge he is and how smart he is and all the things we used to say. There is nothing I can do to comfort myself. Nothing anyone can say or do to take away these awful feelings that gnaw at my soul and eat away at my heart. I am antsy and can’t get this sorrow to fade. I just want to stand by you when he blows out the 7 candle and look into your eyes and relish that we made this beautiful creature - just you and I.

I can’t get back what I lost, so it will be just me, alone, who looks at him in awe. Instead of feeling elated I will feel the dread in my heart and the guilt. Hope that I am doing a good job as his solo parent. Hope that I am making his childhood a great one, instead of a sad one. Hope and pray that I can keep the facade up and not cry huge wet tears all over the cake.

Ironically he hasn’t mentioned even once about you not being here for his birthday. He is so excited just to be turning seven. He is the youngest of all his friends and is just thrilled he finally caught up to everyone!

I am the one withering away from the pain he is too young to feel. I am the one who is hurting so badly that he doesn’t have you anymore. I am the one that suffers daily at the loss they have and will have forever. I am the one who just has to some how dig deep into my soul and get through another first - all with a huge smile on my face while another piece of me dies inside.

I am trying to get mentally ready. Trying to write and hope this purges some of what has been haunting me all week. So when my son turns seven on Sunday I will feel happy and joy for him. He will have a cake and a party and presents and friends and play soccer and have an amazing time. I will make sure of it. I will throw my own emotions out of the window for his special day and remember that this day it is all about my seven year old.

I will wait till Monday to go back to my own personal pity party.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Therapied Out

I can’t even begin to express how therapied out I am. I spent two hours in group last night and three hours today with the children. Listening and talking and talking and listening. I am so sick of my own feelings I want to never have to utter another breath about how I feel. Other than to say I feel tired.

The children and I met with their therapist today. She originally told me she wanted to just meet us. That to me means she wants to say hi and send us on our way. Apparently a therapist’s way of meeting with you is to have each child sit in her office for an hour and have a session. I am not objecting – it is just that I had no idea this was her intent. I sat in the waiting room while my son went in first. My daughter laid on the floor coloring and eating pez candy as I didn’t come prepared with much else for what I thought was a quick meet and greet.

She gave me six questionnaires to fill out, two for each of us. They were maddening. I had to circle the answers from 1 to 5 with the answers being Never, Sometimes, Often, Always and one other in between that I can’t even remember. I suppose to a therapist these questionnaires are helpful. They were not helpful for me.

One was about my family. Does your family support you? Always. Can you go to your family with your problems? Always. Do you find your family helpful with their suggestions? Sometimes. Is your family happy with you? I left that blank. How do I know? Drag them into therapy and ask them yourself! Do you wish you had a different family? I said Always. Who wouldn’t want to be related to someone else? No offense everyone, but if the band Foo Fighters wanted to be my family – I would trade in an instant!

Then there was the harder one – designed I guess to see if I am depressed. Do you feel sad? Do you feel lonely at night? Do you miss the person who died? Do you still love the person who died as much as the day they died? Do you avoid places that remind you of the person? Do you see hear the person’s voice in your head? Do you see the person standing in front of you? I should have just put a giant A for always across the entire page – it would have helped my wrist. Incidentally I did hear my husband’s voice as I was filling out the forms. He told me to grab the kids and run out! There were so many questions – all almost the same with a word changed here and there. Listen up therapist - I am joining a bereavement group with my children because my husband killed himself – these questions are ridiculous!

The questionnaires were pages and pages and pages that went on forever. I think I stopped reading after my son came out and my daughter went in and I couldn’t see anymore. I was getting delirious from lack of food and water and the chair was hurting my back. All I could focus on was what was going on in the other room. What were the children saying? Would they tell her they catch me sniffing my armpits? That I don’t wear a bra around the house? What family secrets were they disclosing? It was just too much for me.

The questions about the children were so generic I just didn’t know what to put. Does your child share toys? Do they eat too much or too little? Do they fight? Do they have trouble sleeping? Do they cry? Really? You want to know if they cry. I put Sometimes for almost everything! I have a four and six year old – they act like normal kids. Normal kids do all this stuff and more. The one question that threw me for a loop was: Does your child do anything strange? Strange for who? Me or the rest of the world? My children like Justin Bieber and I think it is strange. My daughter wears a bat man mask to dinner but I don’t think it is strange at all. What is strange is having me sit answering five hundred questions about my children. What is strange is that I don’t get a diploma in psychology when I am finished here!

By the time she brought me into her office – the kids were in the hallway doped up on pez candy and gum - and whatever else I fished out of my bag. She looked at me and said – do you have any questions for me? I just wanted to say – Doctor I have been here for three hours, can I go home now? But I didn’t. I told her I was fine and would ask her questions as they came up. She still wasn’t done with me. As the kids kept interrupting and sticking their heads in and I kept having to go out into the hall to shush them as other people were trying to have productive therapy. She looked at me and said – it must be like this all the time for you. They always need you and you are always doing things for them. Duh – I am the mom. Dead daddy or not. They would walk around him to ask me for something he was holding. Death or not I was and always will be the go to person.

I don’t mean to sound angry or bitter. I realize this is a great thing for the children and maybe even I will get something useful out of it. It has just been a long 24 hours. I can’t even think about therapy or feelings or questionnaires for a long time.

As we left and got on the train home we were all zonked. I asked the kids what the doctor asked. My son said – mom she asked me over sixty questions! I laughed and said I know exactly how you feel. They would not really tell me specifics – I didn’t push. I took them to the diner for chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. They deserved it!

So I did it. I took them to therapy and now in September we have to go back for ten more weeks of group. The therapist did sum up what the kids said to her. She told me my four year old was confused and my six year old was sad. She forgot to mention that I have carpel tunnel in my wrist from circling so many questionnaires!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


For almost ten months now I have been visiting your grave. This has just become a part of my routine. Yet I go there each time expecting to somehow feel different, have a different experience. I never do. Being there is always the same. You are still dead and I am still overwhelmed with devastation. Sometimes I cry longer and louder than other days, but really nothing ever changes.

This morning I went to your grave and the grass and flowers growing were just so upsetting to me. Your grave looked like a little lost field in the center of the world. I snapped. I got down on my hands and knees and started pulling everything out. I was crying so hard and tearing at the weeds like a mad woman. I couldn’t help it. I was overcome with sorrow and sadness and lack of control – I just pulled and pulled until there was nothing left to grab at. I realize I can probably pay someone to keep your grave looking neat. But I am not ready to sign over the responsibility of your life. I am not ready to stop taking care of you – in whatever form it takes.

I stepped away from your grave, wiped away the tears and admired my work. Just a fresh layer of grass lay on top and it looked nice. Thinking your grave looked nice sent me into another wave of sobbing until I just lay down on the grass pounding my fists into the earth. I was screaming for you and wanted to know if you could hear me and feel my pain. Then I started to think about all the ants swarming around and I got freaked out and stood up, brushed myself off and calmed down.

I don’t know what set off this hysterical rage within me. Maybe the house, maybe the birthday party – maybe nothing. I realized today that so much has changed for me since last October. I couldn’t even begin to list everything. Oddly the one constant- the one thing in all this time that has not changed, is right here in the cemetery. You are and always will be dead and buried. I can look at the grave and think about how much time has passed. I can think about how every season there are subtle changes to the cemetery, but not much else goes on there. Maybe that is why I am so drawn to going back, even though it makes me so very sad. It has been the one constant thing in my life. I can depend on you being there when I get there. I know I will be all alone with my thoughts. I am comforted in some bizarre way that there is one place on the planet I know hasn’t changed.

Tomorrow is therapy again. I look forward to it and dread it every month. I look forward to being around people who understand my story and pain. A place where I don’t have to act any different or worry about my tears. I dread going because I always worry a new person will have joined the group. It sounds totally selfish, as of course I was once the newbie. It is hard enough listening to the regulars talk and hear about their daily struggles. When a new person joins it is really awful to listen to. Their pain is so raw and so new and the hurt and confusion and madness they speak of feels like my own. I relive your death in my head as if it were day one all over again. I almost have to stomp on my foot to bring me back to my present life instead of getting sucked up into theirs. Therapy is really hard and really helpful all bundled up into one.

Thursday I am taking the children to meet with a therapist who runs a family bereavement group. The ten week program starts in September and she wants to meet with us before the counseling begins.

I feel sick to my stomach about having to bring them to therapy. I should be taking them to girl scouts or soccer or really anywhere else but to a place to talk about their dead daddy. It just makes me so angry at their father to have to do this. I know that they will not view it like I do. They will have pizza and do art projects and make new friends.

But I know what happens in therapy. This to me will just be a place where we have to open the wounds and tell our sad story, and of course listen to other's devastating tales. Another constant.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Open House

There is just so much to write about and not a moment to do so. This is the summer of “on the move” for the children and I. We are so busy and I am grateful for the busy lives we lead. For whenever we get a moment of downtime – the fighting begins between the kids and sadness creeps into my heart.

I have had a hard time sleeping this weekend – even on pills. There is so much swirling around in my head that I need to write it down and get it out.

I know I am dwelling on ridiculous stuff, but on Wednesday someone put a giant, I mean enormous billboard size For Sale sign on my house. I sound like a broken record, even to myself. But I am having a really hard time dealing with this. This weekend was the inevitable “open house.” I only know this because an old neighbor saw me and said, “Well there were plenty of people swarming around your house today.” I almost threw up on his shoes.

I am angry and the worst part is that I have no where for the anger to go. I am sad we lost the house; no I am devastated when I think about the house. I hate that it is being sold out from under me and I feel sick when I think about the house belonging to someone else – and really being gone for good.

I realize ultimately it is not so much the house I am so upset over. It is losing my husband that causes me to lose sleep. The house is just a small part of this year from hell I am living. I have just lost so much control over my life these past months and when I think about everything that is gone – it is devastating. I realize I am obsessing about this entire process. I can’t help it. Maybe when someone else has moved in then I will move on. For now though, I am just angry and sad and don’t know how else to feel about it.

My children on the other hand, barely glance at it whenever we walk by. Of course I stare deeply with a scowl and tears every single time. My husband’s friend said to me today, “Don’t you think it is about time you start cutting through the alley and stop torturing yourself?” I just looked at him and he said, “OK, never mind.” He is right though. I am totally torturing myself. Deep down I feel like I deserve to feel the pain of loss. My husband died partly because of the financial burden of the house and here I am walking by as I take my children swimming on a beautiful summer day. Part of me feels like I deserve to suffer and feel some of his pain.

My son has been counting down the days till his 7th birthday. All I can think about is his birthday last year. I had a small house party during the day while my husband was at work. Neither of us thought it was a big deal. We were going to try and do something special on his actual birthday – but the party he missed. I never imagined it would have been his last chance to attend his child’s party. I feel so sick about this – so guilt ridden. One of those moments I wish I could go back in time and change – but I can’t. I must suffer through this like I do everyday and try to deal somehow.

I also went to see my OBGYN this week – without getting into graphic details I was really upset about seeing him. My doctor has known me for over ten years. He delivered both of my children and I feel sometimes that he is part of my extended family. Two men helped deliver my babies and now one is dead – my doctor is all I have left.

He walked into the room with his arms wide open to hug me and I burst into tears. He asked about the children and how I am and then we talked medical. He asked me if I was sexually active. I gasped at him. Really? You are asking me this? Really? He just looked at me and said, “It’s my job!” I laughed and said, oh yeah. I guess better him than my mother.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I miss being married. More to the point, I miss being married to my husband. Sometimes I miss being married for really stupid reasons. Like when I am just too tired to carry in the bags of groceries, and there is no one else to do it. Then there are deeper reasons; when I just miss sharing my life with the man that I hoped to spend with forever. Regardless of the reasons, lately I just miss being married.

I spent this past weekend at a friend’s house in the Berkshires. My friend’s husband needed a ride back to the city and tagged along with us. He did all of the driving. It was such a familiar routine – to be sitting in the passenger seat taking care of the children’s every need for three hours. I haven’t been in the passenger seat for over nine months. I have been the driver; the driver, who is also responsible for everything else going on in the car. I closed my eyes and actually took a huge breath and relaxed. It was so nice to have someone to share the ride with – even though it was a temporary fix. I kept my eyes closed and pretended it was my husband driving and nothing bad had happened to me and that my life had regained some normalacy. Then I got myself really upset and pushed it all out of my head.

Sometimes I feel like I am still married. Maybe in my heart I will always feel this way. I still talk to my dead husband all the time. I still think that he may just surprise me and walk in the door. I really don’t know how to act any other way. I liked the married me – loved her in fact. I loved being married. Loved the insanity that exists in a marriage and the annoying things my husband did. I loved the comfort I felt and the security. Now my life is upside down, not comforting and a complete train wreck. So I guess pretending to be married is my protective bubble keeping me from going completely over the edge.

I don’t know how to act like a widow. The only widows I know are older than me and don’t have super young children – or are from the movies. I picture little old ladies who wear black veils over their faces and scowl at the world. I look in the mirror and don’t see a widow – I just see me. I still laugh with my friends and still cry and act sad when I am alone. I wonder sometimes if I don’t act like a widow because I just don’t want to be one. I pretend to be the person I once was and cling to what is comfortable as opposed to what is my reality.

Every once in a while I actually forget I am a widow and just act like me. It is a rare occurrence, but when it does happen I immediately feel guilty and wonder if it is OK to just be me again. Wonder if I can ever do it without the pain and guilt.

Last week I went out with a group of people to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I had a really fun time. We were drinking pitchers of mojitos; the band was great and we spent the evening outside under the stars on a beautiful summer night. I was dancing and singing and laughing - acting like my old self. Then there was this moment when I thought to myself – I am not really acting like a widow of nine months. Am I being thoughtless and heartless to my dead husband? I stopped myself in my tracks and walked back to the table.

I didn’t want to cry and ruin everyone’s night. I didn’t want to go back to drinking and dancing. I had this moment of terror in my heart when I realized I truly embody two distinctly different people. The sad and mourning me and the old fun me, who just wants to be normal. It feels like both sides are always there – it is a battle to see who and when the other will emerge.

It is maddening.

Sometimes I wonder how long I can keep the good face on before darkness descends and I start to cry. Sometimes I wonder who is going to win in the end. Sometimes I wonder if the two will just mesh together and we can find a happy medium.

It is painful to watch happy couples sometimes. I have a tendency to stop and stare at couples at the most random moments. Couples who I see at the park or at the market and I get a quick glimpse into their lives. I casually stare at them and watch as they interact. I see the love that comes through from one to the other. I miss being that. I miss thinking about my life with you. I miss talking to you about our children and what they will be like when they are older. I miss planning the future with you. I miss a million and one things about being married to you.

The other day at the pool I watched an older couple come in, settle down, and then look into each other’s eyes and just smile. Then they went off to play with their grandchild and I put my sun glasses on even though I was sitting in a shady spot. The tears rolled down my face as I looked at them and thought – I will never be them. My husband and I will never get to sit and appreciate our grandchildren together. We will never get to grow old with each other and never get to do anything together - ever again.

I miss being married to you. I long for that feeling of togetherness and specialness that I only had with you. I miss you so very much today and wish you knew how much I love you. I have started sleeping in your pajama top. It reminds me of you and I feel like you are giving me a big hug every night when I put it on.

Of course some nights I throw the shirt across the room and stomp up and down on it before I put it on.

But I still wear it every single night.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Locked Out

Yesterday I walked by my old house and there was a padlock on the door. I tried not to dwell on what this meant. I ignored the lock and just kept going. Deep down though, I knew I would never walk through the empty house again. I pushed these thoughts away.

Until this afternoon when I drove by the house and saw a crew of guys cleaning it out – I almost crashed into a parked car as I just stared at my lost house. I pulled over and started sobbing. Then of course I got out and stood across the street hiding behind a tree – watching them.

Maybe this is one of the downfalls of living down the block. I knew this would happen – it just seems surreal to see it all unfold before me. I liked knowing that I could pop into the house sporadically and walk around pretending that I still lived there; pretending that you weren’t dead. But now I can’t. I stood there watching as these guys ripped all the flowers out of the front walkway and every time they pulled one out and threw it into a bag – my soul went with them. I stood there crying, just watching, until I forced myself to walk away.

Tonight after an early dinner I took the kids swimming. I really just wanted an excuse to go past the house again. I looked at it and was overcome by such anger and despair. I know I moved three months ago. I know that technically this isn’t my house anymore – but it was the only house I ever owned. The only place that truly felt like a home and the last place I lived in with you. So yeah – it is still my freaking house.

Someday soon I will have to watch some other family move into my house. I will be happy for them and then I will hate them forever. Not their fault of course – but I will.

I was complaining to my friends over the weekend that I am feeling stuck. I just want something to change – I didn’t mean this. I didn’t mean for the house to be taken away forever. I realize I am getting myself all worked up over something nostalgic. I can’t help it. I want my old life back and I want you back and the stupid house back. I want everything that has been taken away from me to go back to normal. I hate that this will never happen and there is nothing I can do about it.

It has been three months since we moved and I have yet to hang a single picture on the wall. I am stuck. I don’t want to hang anything on the walls because that means I am staying here, that I am not moving back home. But if I start decorating it means to me that I accept my new life and feel at home here. I don’t feel this way either. I don’t want to stay, I want to go home. But my home is now lost and taken over by strange evil men who don’t give a shit about the mint leaves I planted for years to come. So going home is out, hanging photos is out and now I am just stuck.

All I want is a glimpse into the future. I sit sometimes and wonder where I will be in five years – in three years, in one. Nine months ago I could have easily answered these questions – and now I just can’t see past tomorrow. I have no idea what the future holds and the not knowing is terrifying.

I realize at some point I am going to have to learn acceptance. Once I get past the sorrow grief pain and guilt of course. But I apparently have to learn to accept that this is my life now. It will probably happen without me even realizing it. Right now I accept the fact that I am still tripping over boxes of photos in the middle of my bedroom. Maybe when someone else moves into my house – that is when I will put photos up. When my reality is really smacking me across the face and I realize and accept that I am never going home.

Today it doesn’t just feel like I have been locked out of my house – it feels like I have been locked out of my life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I wonder sometimes how I can keep this blog going. I could write everyday, but I don’t. I could write everyday about how much I miss my husband. About how the children are changing everyday and you are missing so many little pieces of their life – too many to list or even think about. I could write about how I feel everyday and the sorrows and conflict I go through, but I don’t. Sometimes even I need a break from the way that I feel.

I could write about how I still have keys to my old house, and every once in a while I go back. I wander the empty rooms thinking about our old life. I think about how many memories were filled within these walls. Sometimes I just stand there and call out your name, just to see what will happen. My voice echoes in the emptiness and there is never a response. Never. I wonder sometimes why I still do it. Why I still try and cling to something from my past that causes me so much sorrow. Maybe because as difficult as it is, looking back is still easier than looking ahead – to a life clearly without you.

My daughter asked me tonight – again - where you died. Then she asked how did G-d reach you from heaven to bring you up there. Her questions seem so simple, yet they are so deep. Even at four, she doesn’t realize just how impossible her questions are to answer. I told her that you floated up to heaven when it was time for you to die. How? She asked. Like a balloon, I whispered and tried once again not to let my tears ruin the moment.

I try not to write everyday because rehashing these moments with my children or sitting down to think about how I feel, just doesn’t seem to help so much. When it does help, I will write. These days I am still feeling like a broken record. My thoughts and emotions have been unchanged for quite some time. I cry some days, some days I just feel sad. Some days the anger is too intense to put into words. Some days the guilt is just a blanket wrapped around me. Whatever it is that day – it doesn’t change too dramatically.

I look back sometimes and see how far I have come. Then I will look back and think I haven’t changed a bit. I am still mourning and grieving. I am still dealing with the first year of your death. I am not so na├»ve to think that on your year anniversary I will feel like a weight has been lifted from me. In fact, I think I will feel worse. I have decided that I am past getting through the stages of early grief. Now I am just leveling off and staying in place. Somewhere between awful distraught sadness anger longing and guilt and just simply sorrow.

This summer is moving faster than I would like. I am trying to keep the children occupied and give them a fun time each and everyday. It is exhausting. Just thinking about what to do with them each day is exhausting. I love them and don’t want them to feel like they are different than any other kids. Maybe I am trying to distract all of us from the fact that this is our first summer without daddy.

I had this feeling the other day that I wanted to rent a RV camper and drive the children across the country. To set out and have everyday be filled with new sights and new people and new adventures. Then I realized how I would have to do all the driving and I couldn’t really take that much time off from work. I guess in a way I just want to run away. But no matter what state we went to, no matter where we would go, we would still be the same people with the same problems and no amount of miles can take that away. Maybe I will wait and save this trip when the kids can share the driving – that should be fun.

I haven’t written about this in the past because I thought at first I was going crazy – now I just don’t care. I am pretty sure I am being haunted by my husband with a doorbell. Since I have moved into the new house a doorbell has rung in the middle of the night, around 3 am. It isn’t my usual doorbell sound – it is just a doorbell. I thought for a while I was dreaming as I would wake up and run to the door and no one would be there. Four months now and every so often I will wake in the night from a doorbell sound and run for a mysterious caller.

Last night at around 11pm the mysterious doorbell rang again. I was close to the door and able to open it right away, excited that I would be able to catch the person in the act. I threw open the door and no one was there. No one on my stoop, or down the street or anywhere. I actually rang my doorbell to confirm that I am really hearing two different sounds. I am.

So instead of getting totally freaked out, I am just going with the idea that my husband is saying hello. He knows we moved, he knows where to find us – and he is telling me he loves me. Maybe he wants me to stop haunting him in the old house and this is his way of telling me – or maybe I am just really going crazy.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Wednesday night at therapy a woman said how it is just unbelievable how much profound sadness she feels each and every day. There was a collective sigh that went around the room and then I just started crying.

I feel this profound sadness as well, everyday, and most of the time I am suffering alone. There are times that I want to share my sadness with others, but I don’t. There are times I want to tell my children how much I miss their daddy, but I keep the words inside. Sometimes suffering alone is just the easiest way to get through the day.

There are moments when the children do something amazing and I want to tell them how proud their daddy would be. Sometimes I do say it, but more recently I hold back. The tears and sadness I cause them seem to take the joy out of their accomplishment. I feel like it’s selfish to do this to them.

The other day we got into the car to run an errand and in my sweetest voice possible I turned to them and said, “Hey guys – who wants to go to the cemetery?” My son asked if we would see daddy’s name. I said very enthusiastically, “Yes, want to go?” They both shook their heads and said no, not today. So I said O.K. Maybe another time – and off we went to buy groceries.

I wanted to go so badly and realized that going there is just not the same for them as it is for me. I feel this burning desire to go and feel his presence and they just don’t.

This morning I dropped them off at camp and went to the cemetery by myself. It hasn’t been that long since I have been to see my husband, maybe a month. But it feels like it has been a long time. When I got to the grave it looked so different. Grass, weeds and dandelions have started to grow over the dirt. Your grave is beginning to look like all the rest of the graves. It is starting to look like you have been dead for a long time – and yet it is not possible. You just died! In my heart you died today. How can flowers be growing already? It feels very wrong. Part of me wanted to rip all the green away and make the dirt look like new again. But I couldn’t do it, I was crying too hard.

I sat with you for a very long time. I didn’t really want to be there, but I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I am missing you and suffering your loss everyday and it seems this is just what I do now. I live this so called life and try and do my best for the children, all the while feeling your absence day in and day out.

Wednesday at therapy as we went around the room starting the introductions, I said that everyday feels like Groundhog’s day. Everyday I get up with the children and go and do and just fake it. I told the group that sometimes when I walk outside my house I feel like the word suicide is written in huge bold letters across my forehead. That when anyone looks at me, that is all they see. Another woman said she feels like that also, but when she comes to group she doesn’t see the words on anyone else’s face – so maybe it isn’t on hers either. This made me feel better – but not much.

I seem to feel worse at night after the children are in bed and I am trying to figure out what to do. Should I work, watch TV, fold laundry, read a book, or eat everything in the house? Sometimes I just wander around not committing to anything and realize I am trying to distract myself from the sadness. It is really difficult to do. When I do finally force myself to try and sleep, I turn off the light and then there is silence. There are no distractions and I struggle with myself – forcing my thoughts to go away. It feels like the guilt and sorrow are clawing at my face and just don’t want me to ever feel at peace.

I am amazed at the amount of profound sadness I feel all the time. I am amazed that I can be crying hysterically at your grave at 9:30 in the morning and then 8 hours later be in the park with my children, hanging out with my friends. I try to push the sad morning away. I try and appreciate the happy times that I have in my life. I really do. I smile and joke around and maybe no one sees the words on my forehead. Maybe an outsider wouldn’t look at me and see that I am damaged goods. But the sadness doesn’t go away for long, if at all. It lies just beneath the surface, always with me – profoundly.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


My grandmother told me life is all about survival of the fittest. She would know as she is almost ninety and has survived quite a bit in her long life. Her life is filled with stories of good times, sad times and everything in between. My life is one of her sad times. I think it pains her to see me struggling and she only wants the problems to go away – like yesterday. But of course, it doesn’t work that way.

I am sure my mother is expecting me to blog about her – as we have had a horrid few days together. I am going to try and not bash her and blame anything on her. But then again – this is my blog for me to vent and she doesn’t have to read it! My mom thinks she is giving me good advice. She thinks she is trying to save my children from a horrible childhood. She thinks she is protecting them and helping me. She thinks she is right – how can I tell her I disagree. It wouldn’t matter anyway.

My mother has never “gotten” me and I don’t think she ever will. My relationship with her feels like quicksand sometimes. She does or says something that makes me angry so I say something, then she says something, then I say something worse. Before I know it I am sinking into a pit of anger and despair only to have her look at me and say – you really should be on drugs that calm you – your anger is out of control.

She doesn’t understand that my anger comes out in its worst form around her. No one else criticizes me as much as her, but she calls it advice. I always react badly when she is telling me something I didn’t ask to hear. She thinks I am a terrible mother sometimes and am too harsh with the children. She thinks I don’t go to therapy enough. She thinks a lot of things about me that I just don’t want to hear. Maybe she is right, but the fact is that she doesn’t stop - ever. She says anything and everything about every little thing and I can’t deal with it. I couldn’t deal with it before suicide and I surely can’t deal with it now.

Sometimes I don’t care my husband is dead. Doesn’t that just sound so awful? I don’t care because what is done is done and I can’t undo a single thing. All that is left is this life I am struggling to live. To deal with the after effects of how suicide lives in my soul. How a dead daddy affects my children and how the rest of our lives will unfold. My relationship with everyone I know has suffered this year. I am sure I have lost friends these past nine months as I don’t call or want to see anyone. I am sure I have yelled and screamed and blew up at everyone in my family. I am sorry but my heart is broken – my husband is dead and my dreams are shattered – everything else just falls by the wayside.

I don’t care that my husband is dead until mail comes with his name on it – bills I have made a thousand calls to change the name. I don’t care that he is dead until the phone rings and someone is looking for him – or when I walk past our old house and think about how nothing is settled there either. I don’t care he is dead until my children are crying for him. Or when my daughter learns to ride a bike without training wheels and your son learns to dive into the water and you are no where to be found to share these trivial joys only a parent can appreciate.

Maybe I should just go back to crying day in and day out. Then everyone will remember what I am dealing with. Remember that every new day is a day without my husband. Every new day I think about the day he died and the awful look on his face. Every new day I think about dragging his lifeless body from the garage. If I am not crying and am not acting sad I am just asking for someone to judge me incorrectly.

My mother asked me – if everyone thinks one way and you think another – who do you think is wrong? I don’t know how to respond to this question. I am just trying to get through each new day and try not to look too far back because it is devastating and try not to look too far ahead because it is terrifying. What everyone thinks about me and how I act is not even on my very long list of things bothering me.

I can’t possibly justify my actions to anyone. All I know is that I am trying to do my best and yet it seems to never be enough. I would like to one day think that I am like my grandmother and that the survival of the fittest will prevail. These days I don’t feel that way about myself at all. Maybe I should look to my children for some courage, as they have much more than me.

My six year old son looked at me the other day and said – well, I guess we are just going to have to live the rest of our lives without daddy – survival of the fittest indeed!