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.