Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer... almost over

Just a few random thoughts...

It's nearly time to go back to work. For me, that means secretary at a local elementary school (5th and 6th graders). I have enjoyed this time with Isaiah and being able to get a lot done in the new house. My yard is still a mess (I'm really not a gardener!) and there are still things I want to do in here, but I've run out of time.

My foreign exchange student arrives August 12. I'm excited. Her bedroom is nearly put together and I'm working on a welcome basket for her. I've started with some art supplies (her mom said she'd love them) and will include a t-shirt and items with the school's mascot on them. I'm also adding some toiletries and monogrammed washcloth and hand towel. I got her a special Scentsy warmer (the cutest ice cream cone - https://scentedjoy.scentsy.us/Buy/ProductDetails/37823) for her room, added a pink lava lamp, and some other decorative touches. I hope she likes it. I think she will. Her mom was thrilled with it.

I just got back from a fun-filled weekend with an old friend. LOL - she's only a couple of months older than me but we've been friends for 50 years!!! That is an "old" friend! We saw Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. It was pretty good and very clean entertainment. The food was OK - not great, but not too bad, either. I thought the scenery and the story line was decent. We saw the son of Erich Brenn, who was the original "plate spinner" on the Ed Sullivan Show. He said his dad is now 98 and in good health. The son did some juggling acts and also did the plate spinning act. It was well-done and we enjoyed it.

I'm still working on getting myself healthier. I want to live as long as God intends for me to live, and not a second less. That means I have to get in control of the things that I CAN control and quit letting things slide. I'm sure there are times He just shakes his head and marks off my timeline. :)

Tonight, Amy signed us up for an Arbonne party. Not too sure about that, but I'll listen. Supposedly, she's going to concentrate on the stuff to help flush our systems of junk and help us get healthier. We shall see. I already know I don't like the taste of their meal replacement shakes. Not. at. all. I've tried vanilla and chocolate. I HAVE to have something that I can mix with coffee. I don't like the cold shakes and I always start my day with coffee. Always.

Saturday, we're having an Agnes & Dora party. My sister and my niece both sell (and, I'm going to sign up as well - just not sure when) and I fell in love with the clothes. Since Velata is going out of business in August, and since Scentsy really isn't my thing, A&D just might be the next step for me.

I'm fixing Stouffer's lasagna for supper tonight. I know it's cheating a bit, but since the Arbonne lady will be here at 6:30, I needed something fast. This works. We're also having garlic bread and salad. Anna doesn't like lasagna so she'll get something else. Not sure what but something.

Off to do what I need to do today...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Here I am - AGAIN!

Well, life has certainly taken its share of twists and turns in the past couple of years. After leaving Hospira last year, I thought I'd be doing just fine with substitute teaching. Then, my son's life got turned upside down by his (not-so-lovely) soon-to-be ex-wife. Needless to say, she was not what she portrayed to us and she has done a lot of things that shocked us and left us very sad. I feel very sorry for my poor grandchildren and can only pray they come out unscathed. It's a struggle.

After needing to help out my son, I ended up going back to work as a school secretary. It's pretty laid-back, low stress, and helps make ends meet. I'm good with that. I started that job in January and worked the rest of the school year. We get seven weeks off and resume on July 25.

During the time off, I moved. I didn't think I'd ever move from my little duplex. But, my daughter and her husband bought a large house on 7.5 acres and asked me if I wanted to move out here. We call it a "farm-ette" because of the size and it has room for animals. In fact, we have 25 chickens and two goats. The chickens are for the eggs and the goats are for the grass. There are also four guinea hens in residence and three rabbits (I think it's the same three - I see them all the time). I have about 1500 sq feet of space (two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, kitchen, dining, room), a one-car garage, and share the full basement. Amy's side of the house (about 2,000 sq ft) has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, bonus room, kitchen, dining room, and garage. In the basement, we have another bedroom (Isaiah's), a bathroom, a very large family room area (it's currently unfinished except for walls and ceiling), two mechanical rooms, a "utility" room for the freezers, and two other finished rooms. One of these is a guest bedroom and the other will be the craft room. We're all very excited and loving it. I've been here two weeks and Amy's family has been here since Memorial Day. My Murphy bed was going there but it won't make the turn to go down the stairs, so my youngest son (who also just bought a house) will take it for his second bedroom.

Also, this spring was the arrival of a great-granddaughter, Koralyne (pronounced Cora-line) Leigh Hick. Faith is her mom and the daughter of Ron's oldest, Stacey. I know that Ron would be beyond thrilled to see and hold this little baby. Faith has an older daughter, too.

On another note, someone told me one time that babies and animals can sense or see angels. I set up an end table in my new living room with a picture of my parents on it (I've never had this picture out before). Seth walked right up and started talking to it. He has said "hi" to the picture every time he has come into my living room. Anna said, "Seth is talking to those people we don't know." I laughed and told her they were my parents and she knew GiGi (the kids' name for my mom) before she died. I told Amy about it and she asked him where GiGi was. He pointed right to my mom's picture. She's been gone since September 2012 and my dad since September 2005.

I'd seen a cardinal around here a couple of times while I was moving in. That pretty much solidified the thought that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

My goal is to get back into the blogging routine while I work on doing what I need to be doing for me. I need to get back into writing so I don't lose my touch. LOL - as if I ever had one!

Ciao for now!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My New Normal and a Contest (of sorts)

It's now been 20 months since Ron passed died. (Why is it so hard to write "died" in a sentence? I wanted to say "left me" but that implies he's still out there somewhere, just not with me. Is "died" such a harsh word that I don't want to say it, or because I don't want others to think I'm heartless to say "died" instead of "passed"? No matter what I say, it doesn't change the fact that he's been gone from this earth for nearly two years.) It's hard to believe that he's been gone this long, and other times I feel like it's been much longer. I still miss him and cherish the memories that we created, but I'm ready to move on (mostly - some days are definite "why me" days and I jealously want him back).

I was thinking the other day how glad I am that Ron isn't here to see the condition of the world. He had such a compassionate heart and he would physically hurt for others. Knowing about the senseless acts of terrorism, he would have been heartbroken and wondered how he could help.  (And, the cowardice on the part of the attackers would have him steaming - because what kind of men attack defenseless individuals? Real men don't attack unarmed and defenseless individuals. Period.)  Ron had such a big heart for others that he (literally) would give the coat off his back, gloves off his hands, and the scarf around his neck to someone else if he saw a need.

Since I haven't worked full-time in nearly a year, I don't have a lot of money. But, I woke up this morning in a warm bed, with my warm blanket tucked in around me. When I turned on the faucet in my sink, clean water came pouring out. In the kitchen, I flipped on my coffee maker and enjoyed a cup of coffee (my breakfast of choice). I enjoyed my coffee in the living room (relaxing on my sofa) while I watched the news on the television. Since my environment was a little chilly, I turned up the thermostat and my furnace kicked on, warming my space. So, I may not have a LOT when compared to some, but I have TONS more than others. Like Ron, I've always tried to take care of the needs of others and when I'm aware of something, I do my best to look for a solution. My grandchildren may not get much from me this year, but they all have parents who dearly love them and who are financially able to provide nice gifts for them. What I give is just extras, anyway and I'm not even always sure they know something came from me.

I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a way I could help someone, somewhere, and make a difference for that person. Ron would want to do something, too. With that in mind, I decided I'd like to offer a sort of contest... Like I said, I don't have a lot of money but I'd like to see what someone would do, and what someone could do, to help someone else using $50. I'd like for you to share this with anyone you know who would be willing to let me know what they'd do with the money and how it would benefit someone else. I will choose a winner by December 15. The winner will also get a monetary reward to be used any way he/she feels.

Post comments below or send responses to tgw2@cox.net (actually, I'd like to see here and in my email so I have everything in one place). This contest is open to all ages in the Continental US. I will need a valid mailing address to mail the reward to. It will be in the form of a Visa gift card.

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's a new day

I don’t usually dream about Ron. I think about him and I miss him – and I even “talk” to him. But to say that he’s in my dreams would not be totally accurate. In the 10 months since his death, I’ve probably only dreamt of him a handful of times. So, when people say that their dearly-departed comforts them in their dreams, or they see “signs” that this person is still with them, I’m skeptical at best and jealous at times. Do I want to see that special sign, feel that soft caress, or hear those special words of endearment... You bet I do. I miss those things just as much as the next person.

I managed to make it through our anniversary month and my birthday (both in August) and the holidays. I kept myself busy over Thanksgiving (went to visit a friend) and Christmas. Amy and Rex were good about including me in their plans and I went to the farm with them again this year. My sister wanted to go to Walt Disney World to celebrate her 50th birthday and I decided that was a wonderful thing to do as it would get me away for Ron’s birthday (which is one day before hers). We had a “Magical” time and it was a great stress reliever. As it gets closer to Valentine’s Day (our last meal together) and the one-year anniversary, I find myself getting more and more “antsy” and stressed. I’m not focusing on the things I need to focus on.

During the past 10 months, I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I’ve taken some time to deal with the stress of being in this new situation and “thought” I’d come back to be stronger than before. As I made my way through the holidays and the situations without Ron, I realized that I needed to step back again from this life and re-evaluate. Financially, I’m not independently wealthy and I don’t have tons in savings. Can I make ends meet without a job? For a few months, but I need to have some kind of income. Do I need the stress associated with my current job? No, I don’t. Because I’m not adequately dealing with everything else, I don’t think I’m doing as good of a job here as I should be doing. I don’t want to jeopardize my reputation so decided that I’d take an early semi-retirement.

I’ve never been in a situation where it was just me. Yes, my kids love me and my grandkids are awesome. But, when the lights go out at night and the day is done, it’s just me alone with my thoughts. Who am I? What have I done in this life that is a positive impact on others? (That’s a rhetorical question; not looking for answers.) Besides taking care of Ron, what have I accomplished that wasn’t selfish on my part? Am I leaving behind good memories, tangible evidence that I cared about others, or what? What do I want to do with myself that will be better for those around me? I don’t know but I do know that I need to find out.

So, I’m saying good-bye to Corporate America – at least in the full-time sense. I need to work some hours but can afford to take a little break and look around. One goal is to get my fingerprints and background check on file with the school system as I’d like to substitute teach. There’s a little coffee shop in town that I thought I’d go apply for some part-time hours. I love coffee and thought this would be a fun outlet for me. I have a few “work from home” contacts (for legitimate jobs) and thought I’d check into some of those opportunities. My brothers would (and probably will) think I’m crazy. If I had tons of money invested, it “might” be OK but since I don’t, I “should” probably continue plodding along in the status quo until I can start drawing social security (in 18 months, I’m eligible to draw about 75% of Ron’s and then once I reach full retirement age I can compare mine to his and draw the largest). But, for my own sanity – I cannot wait until September 2016. Because of my outside stress, I’ve had “frustration” evident in some conversations and messages – things that aren’t horrible, but things I’m not proud of and aren’t my typical fashion. To pre-empt any future embarrassment on my part, I know I have to do something now.

Which leads me back to the first paragraph. I had a very vivid dream about Ron. I don’t go to the cemetery too often because it just bothers me to go. He’s not “there” and I can talk to him anywhere. But I was at the cemetery and looking down at his marker. Suddenly, I felt that someone was behind me so I turned to look over my shoulder and saw Ron. He was dressed in black – but not a somber, funeral black; more like a “spiffy” black (black and red were his favorite colors) and he was very vibrant and more “him” than he’d been in years (if that makes sense). I immediately started to cry because I missed him so much. He looked at me and smiled and said I was beautiful. He told me that everything was OK and would continue to be OK. He told me it was time for me to move forward and to do whatever I needed to do for me. I’d already done all I could do for him.

So, I’m going to take his advice and move forward. I gave my notice and my last day here is January 30. I’m not sure what my future holds, and I know that healing will continue as time goes on. Ron is surely watching over me and encouraging me to find my place, wherever that may be.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Contemplating life

There are definitely days when it's a struggle to just exist and you think a lot about death. This is one of those days. Heck, it's been one of those weekends. It will be seven months tomorrow. I had to actually stop and think about how long it had been. Hard to believe that he's actually gone and then there are days when it slaps me upside the head. I had to admit to myself (finally) that I couldn't have done anything differently. Ron killed himself just as surely as if he'd pulled a trigger. He just chose to do it more slowly and a piece at a time, taking me and his children along for the ride. That wasn't very fair of him. That is harsh. But, sometimes reality is harsh. He always thought he wouldn't live to be any older than his father had been when he died, but he failed to take into consideration that his dad was a heavy smoker and he died from emphysema and lung cancer. He sabotaged his own life to live "down" to those expectations.

It worked, except he lived nine years longer than his dad did.

Now, I'm faced with cleaning up the emotional mess that was left behind and I'm not doing a very good job of it. I was thinking about my life here and how long I've lived here. It will be 31 years in January. I was thinking about how many "friends" I've made through the years and who I could call on if I needed someone. I came up with no one. N.O. O.N.E. (Except for two of my children.) That is sad. Oh, I have people I consider as being my friend, but I don't know that I'm their friend. You know, someone they invite places, call to chat, drop by for coffee/tea/etc., or invite to their house for the same. I am lonely. Spending every Saturday and Sunday like a hermit is not necessarily fun. Crashing Amy's house isn't always convenient for her (she just had a baby last week) or fair to them.

I hear from one son and my daughter (and son-in-law) on a regular basis. The rest? Not so much. I paid Faith to take me to get my eye surgery. Amy was too busy and it would have been an inconvenience to her, and no one else stepped forward to volunteer so I asked Faith and told her I'd pay her. I know that she would have taken me without money and she is one person I don't mind paying; she's working part-time and going to school full-time.

Yeah, I'm having a bad day and a bit of a pity party. BDD. Deal with it. Sometimes life is very tiring and I'm not always certain that what's left is really worth it. I want to give up and not get out of bed some days. Then I remember those who take time out of their lives for me and the beautiful grandchildren that I have, and I know that I'll keep plugging away at surviving until I have overcome the darkness that threatens to engulf me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rule #1 for Widows

There are no rules. 
The grief process is different for every single person. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. It doesn’t matter if you were married 5 months, 5 years, or 50 years. Once that spouse is cut from your life, no matter the circumstances, a piece of your existence has also been chopped off. You could have lost your spouse to a tragic, quick accident or due to a long and drawn out illness. Neither one of these affect how long the grief process will last.
You may be fine today and hear a song on the radio that will reduce you to tears. You may be totally sad one minute and happy the next. Whatever. Go with it. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion that you feel. Anger. Resentment. Loss. Sadness. Happiness. Contentment. Anger (sometimes there is a lot of anger over the situation). Tears. Laughter. Good memories.  Feel them all, and then work through them. If you need alone time, take it. If you need to talk to someone (or to listen to someone), do it.
Don’t allow your feelings to consume you. Don’t close yourself off from friends and family who love you. They probably don’t know what to say or how to help, but even if they have nothing at all to offer except their presence, take it. 
If you need help with everyday chores, ask someone who has been there for help. Not sure about finances? Look into a financial advisor (my Edward Jones advisor is fantastic; find one you trust). Do you have a life insurance policy for yourself? I thought “I” was the owner on ours since it had been mine before we were married; somehow it got converted into Ron being the owner so I had to do the application process all over again. Do you have a will? If you don’t have one, you can always find documents online (depends on the state you live in) to create one yourself. If you have a complicated estate, or minor children, I recommend you contacting an attorney who specializes in estates and trust planning. 
How about home repair and maintenance? Luckily, I’m a renter (we did the home ownership thing before Ron’s health got so bad and then we became renters) so my landlord takes care of those issues for me. Do you have maintenance agreements on your appliances? I’m not sure how I feel about those; my mother-in-law swore by them but unless you have them serviced annually to make sure they’re in good working shape, I’m not sure they’re of added value. (Just my personal opinion.)
Car repair and maintenance?  My husband took care of our cars for years and then he no longer could. We found a reputable mechanic we trusted and started taking our vehicle there for repair and maintenance. Good maintenance, and tire maintenance, will save you lots of money down the road. This is one area I do recommend extended warranties for. I had a fairly new minivan one time and purchased the extended warranty. Six weeks later the transmission went out. A year later, it went out again. The extended warranty paid for itself at least twice. 
Eating... This is my biggest failure. I’ve gotten into a rut where I quit cooking for myself. Cereal is good. It’s a food group. It’s OK. Right? Not really...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beginning Again

I’ve been thinking about the last six months of my life, and how they did NOT go the way I thought they’d go. Even though I’d known for quite some time that Ron’s body was winding down, it was still a shock to my system. I’d been on the edge of what I can only describe as a great abyss so many times, only to have a reprieve of sorts. I can’t say for sure how many times over the years that I didn’t expect Ron to survive – but, somehow and by the grace of God, he did. When I actually fell into that abyss, I didn’t know how to react or what to expect. I think I shocked the hospital chaplain because I wasn’t a basket case. Of course, she didn’t know me and didn’t know how many ER trips or ambulance rides or stints in ICU or surgeries or hospital stays we’d gone through. She only could see a seemingly calm (on the outside, anyway) woman who had just lost her husband. I caught her looking at me several times in that two-hour space of time that I sat in the ER cubicle with Ron. Amy was the basket case and I had to be strong for her. I held it together for everyone who needed my strength – as long as I didn’t have to talk about it. For every phone call that needed to be made or that I received, I handed the phone to someone else. I just wasn’t ready to admit out loud (except when absolutely necessary) that the unthinkable, unimaginable had actually happened.

I have many questions that I know will never be answered on this side of Heaven’s door. I know that Ron slipped quietly away in his sleep and that he wasn’t in pain. That part gives me comfort. But, as he was slipping away did he have any conscious thoughts that it was time? I know he was ready to go and had said as much the night before. Did he understand that I didn’t want him to go? That I wasn’t ready for him to go? Did he understand that I did all that I could or did he think I could have done more? To be honest, I’m still not sure that “I” understand if I did. Could I have delayed the nursing home a bit longer and still maintained a level of care and health for both of us, or was I selfish in my part? I will find that out once I’m on the other side of this life and until then, I have to live with the consequences of my actions – always wondering if I could have done just one more thing. I’m not looking for sympathy or for anyone to qualify what I did. Because I was the one responsible for Ron’s wellbeing, it had to be my decision. He was beyond making rational decisions – even though he sounded perfectly fine and rational when speaking, he really didn’t see the bigger picture. The disease processes had robbed him of “himself” and the ability to comprehend the what if and what could have been scenarios.

This blog has served as a means to communicate my fears, his challenges and victories, and mine. There were times that I know I sounded crazy, nuts, selfish, resentful, and mean-spirited. When I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I admit those feelings were present at times. Many times I felt things that, although normal for a caretaker and someone grieving the loss of independence – whether your own or that of someone you love, weren’t pretty or flattering. Sometimes writing down those feelings helped to get through them. I had my share of pity parties. I had them for me, I had them for Ron, and I had them for the kids/grandkids. One of the things that I remember very clearly was early in the multiple surgeries to try and save Ron’s right leg. The toilet was clogged and I wasn’t strong enough, nor did I have the right tools, to do what needed to be done to clear it. Ron was no help because he was tied to the wheelchair. I had no “man” I could call on because I just didn’t have anyone. I sat on the wheelchair ramp in the garage and just cried. And cried. And cried. (I still feel sadness for that hopeless and helpless person.) My brother asked me one time if I felt a sense of pride once I accomplished a “man job” and my reply was that I did not. Accomplishing those manly, husbandly tasks meant that my husband was slipping farther and farther away and as I took on those roles, he knew that he was slipping away.

My oldest son didn’t live close, my youngest son really didn’t know any more about taking care of things like that than I did (and he didn’t live with us, either), and the only two people who could have helped make a difference for me didn’t realize that I could have used help. I was very proud and, as such, didn't feel comfortable asking for help. I wanted people to care enough to ask if I needed help. Without realizing it, I was holding them to standards they didn't know existed, and that wasn't totally fair to them. On the other side, the times I did ask different people (who had said "let me know if there's anything you need), what I got back was, "God bless you." That's not really the help I was looking for. So, I no longer asked or assumed that someone would get the hint and volunteer. (This was before Amy met Rex.) So, yes – I resented those times. But, did they make me stronger? I don’t know – probably. Over the course of the next several years, a clogged toilet was one of the milder issues that we faced and overcame.

As I look back, I can see so many instances that were “close calls” and so many that just became routine – our new normal. We were constantly adjusting what was a normal day in the life of Ron. And for me.

Now, it's time to begin a new chapter. I was going to stop using this blog but I think I'll keep it open and take it in a new direction. I also want to change the name to be more fitting. I'm not sure exactly what yet, but something that includes beginning again. I hope that you'll continue to read and cheer me on from the sidelines.

Take care and God bless... You've all helped me get through more than you can ever imagine.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Marking time

It’s hard to believe that Ron has been gone 16 weeks today. I miss him and will always miss him. But... I have to remember that “I” am still here and “I” have to look forward to new beginnings and not stay in the past. Taking five weeks off work was very helpful. I still have moments that when I try to talk about something, or thank someone for something, that I get choked up and the words won’t come. But, it is getting easier to talk about all the things that Ron’s poor body (and mind) went through. He suffered... oh, how he suffered. But, he really had the best attitude (most of the time) considering all of the limitations on his life. He always had a smile for people and he rarely got upset if someone didn’t come to visit him. I know the hours and hours he spent alone had to be draining on him, but he never complained. He frequently napped to pass the time (that’s my theory on it).

I took the time off to really reflect on things. I ordered his grave marker (and it is going to be beautiful!), I took care of his social security, took care of multitudes of medical claims (Medicare and I went ‘round and ‘round), and started seeing a grief counselor. I’m not sure that she really told me anything that I didn’t already know, but hearing it out loud from a third-party with no vested interest was good. There are days when I still question my decisions (like making him move to the nursing home) but most of the time, I know that I did the best that I could. Sometimes I got a little crazy over it all, but if I had to do it over again for him I wouldn’t hesitate. He needed me and I’m glad that I was able to be there for him. He would have done the same for me.

I had a particularly rough night a few days ago. When I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror, my hair was going every which way. Just as clear as if he had been standing behind me, I heard Ron’s voice say (as he was laughing), “You look like Medusa this morning.” As I examined my hair, I had to agree with him. It made me feel really good – LOL – to get an “insult” from him.

I had to... No, let me rephrase that... I felt I NEEDED to make some changes around the house. I had been on the hunt for a new sofa anyway, so I went ahead and completed that task. I also had a very small, round table in the dining room, so I replaced that (kept the chairs because they are the perfect shade) and replaced the antique (with the broken front) hutch with one that did not have glass on the bottom. I also replaced our bed. And our car. Not to diminish the old memories, but time to start making some new ones.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Who is Teresa?

I think I need to “find” who I am again. I was Ron’s caretaker for so many years that I kind of got lost in all of it. I don’t know who or what I’m supposed to be. What do I like? What should I be doing? My entire existence all these years was geared toward doing what I needed to do to make sure that he had the best quality of life that he could have. If he wanted something, I busted my rear figuring out how I could make it happen for him. The times I did take off for myself, he was constantly on my mind and I always had to make sure that I had one or two people lined up to take care of anything that might crop up. Almost every time I went out of town for anything, he either got sick right before, while I was gone, or when I came back. I just never knew when it would happen and it usually wasn’t a question of “if” – just when and how bad. I lived constantly on the edge of when the next big disaster was going to happen. Now, I’m just totally lost. Did I do enough? Should I have done more? Was it really his time or did I speed it up because I didn’t keep him at home? Did I prolong his life (suffering) because I did move him to a nursing home? Should I have had them work on him longer (they worked on him 50 minutes)? Did he give up because he thought I needed a break? Did he decide that I had given him permission to quit fighting?

I actually very nearly gave my notice at work last week. I didn’t feel like I was doing anyone any good and I could tell that my concentration was eroding and my focus just wasn’t there. I have always, always been a perfectionist and to think that I would be only capable of giving less than my all was just too much. I may not always give the impression that I’m a perfectionist, but I absolutely am my own worst critic. Not knowing what I’m supposed to know is something I have a very hard time forgiving myself for. I talked to my doctor on Friday and he suggested I apply for a LOA instead and take the time to grieve – get some grief counseling and move forward. A couple of co-workers helped me when I talked to them about it. One made me feel good because she said I was a valuable member of the team and she didn’t want to see me leave the company when all I needed was maybe a little time. Same with another... said he would hate if I left instead of allowing myself to heal. I didn’t want to become a “performance issue” so it’s either take the time now to do what I need to do or there may not be time later.

I’ve been told I’m a strong person and I always thought so, too but now I’m not so sure. I’m always strong for others but have never had to be strong for myself, I guess. I’ve always been the one others come to for help. I don’t have that for me so I have to look outside of myself to find it. When my boss showed up in my cube, I knew one of the ladies I’d spoken to had sent her to check in with me (LOL – I knew when she showed up that someone had put a bug in her ear, and that was OK). LT and I had a good talk. She said she knew I was a strong person and that I’d get through it. She appreciated that I understood how her hands would be tied if performance became an issue. I did, and I do. Most supervisors don’t enjoy giving negative marks to people if they can help it.

So, I’m scheduled to be off from May 19 through June 29 and I have my first counseling session next Wednesday. Unfortunately, because I had surgery last year and used 7.5 weeks of FMLA, I only have 4.5 weeks of “protected” leave. I didn’t know, but FMLA runs concurrently with approved short-term disability. I’m still eligible for short-term disability pay but my job is only protected through June 17. If I take the remaining time that has been approved, they don’t have to hold my job and can put me somewhere else, or they can just tell me they no longer need me. I need to decide if I can do enough healing in four weeks to come back on June 16 (which is two full weeks sooner than I planned), or run the risk of being unemployed at the end of June. I think it would be totally crappy if they say take the time you need, and then tell me they no longer need my services.

At this point, I’m not sure what I will do.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Ron...

Dear Ron,

It’s been three weeks. THREE! I still can’t believe you’re actually gone. You left me so quickly; why didn’t you warn me? I’m jealous that Chuck got to talk to you last (I know that’s unreasonable). I wish you had called me to tell me good night – or that I had called you. I knew that our time together was short and wondered if you knew it too. I didn’t want you to die. I didn’t want you to sign a DNR if that’s not what you wanted. I know your last few years were really tough on you, and tough on me. I know you were sorry that you put me through so much. I’m sorry I was selfish through many of your trials. I’m sorry I wasn’t more patient and understanding. Was God using you to teach me something? I hope I learned it and that is what ended your suffering. I’m so, so sorry that you went through so many things. If I had insisted they keep working on you, would it have made a difference? Or, would it have meant that you’d have been tied to a machine? Neither of us wanted that for the other. I know you would not have wanted to spend your last days hooked up to machinery. Letting go was so hard but I knew it was the best for you. You would have done the same for me.

Your last few months were the worst for you. I wish I had been able to just suck it up and continue to take care of you at home. I’m not sure how much of it was selfishness on my part and how much was really my physical and emotional limitations. I worried about you constantly when you were home alone. Were you on the floor, did you have a medical emergency, did you eat, etc. Working so far from home and not being able to reach you some days really made my entire day so stressful. I remember one time when we lived in Derby and I called you on my way home from work. I was going to Wal-Mart but you sounded so groggy on the phone that I knew I needed to go home instead. I kept hollering your name all the way and all I could hear was the TV in the background. That was the longest 15 miles ever. I found you passed out on the bed with a blood sugar of 27. I’m nearly certain that if I hadn’t called you and come home, you would have died then. I would have felt so guilty for going shopping instead of coming home first.

It’s very hard being in the “W” club. No one wants to be a member of that club. I’ve had a few other club members reach out to me for when I need to talk. So far, I’ve only taken the step to talk to one... my cousin. Her husband died suddenly about six years ago. She still misses her husband. She said everyone is different; maybe since you were sick for so long my grieving has already gone through a few stages. I don’t know. I still cry pretty easily at some memories and situations. I still miss your physical presence. I know that with all of your health issues we had discussed we didn’t have the same kind of marriage that we once had. The love was still there, but the focus was changed. We didn’t focus on the physical aspect of a relationship, but the emotional and companionship of one. Even when I was frustrated with the physical changes going on in your body, I still loved your physical presence. We could sit for hours – you sleeping (off and on) and me reading – and enjoy each other’s company.

Today, I can write all this down without getting too emotional. Yesterday, I could not have. I was pretty much worthless all day yesterday, starting the day with a roaring migraine. I am not very good at this “widow” thing. Don’t like it one bit. I bought a book on Amazon written by a widow for widows. It was pretty short and not very in-depth. One of the constant themes of the widows whose words were in this book (several “club members” were contributors to the book) was how many people just don’t know what to say, so they show up with casseroles or whatever. That’s very true... most of the people I come into contact with every day have totally avoided mentioning you or asking how I am. I think they’re afraid of the answer or the reaction. (LOL – they haven’t shown up with casseroles, either. But that’s OK – not sure what I’d do with a casserole anyway.) Three days of bereavement for you was not enough, so I took four days of vacation, too. That still wasn’t enough but I had to come back to work. The one big thing I got from the book was that I’m not crazy. I can have these emotions and be perfectly normal. I can get emotional at anything my body determines is realistic. I can also be perfectly calm at seemingly unreasonable situations. Not sure why but I’m trying to just go with it. I will grieve in my own way, at my own pace, and heal at a pace that is right for me. There’s no expiration date on grief and no time stamp on healing.

I will miss you forever. I will love you always. I cherish the memories of the really great times and my last vision of you smiling at me from your chair as I said good-night. Your smile was contagious and always showed how much love was in your heart.