Thursday, July 12, 2018

3 is a magic number

The two year mark is approaching and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. This year has been another form of hell and I am welcoming my third year of widowhood with open arms. I have delved so far into my grief these last two years that I am ready to come up for air. 

To breathe again. 

The beginning of year two was harsh, I was my worst enemy, a miserable wreck. 


I stopped writing about you because that started to hurt as well. 
Too much.
At first, the words flowed out of me and then I became lost within the pain. 

Was I too much? 
Say too much? 
Share too much?
Feel too much? 
Be too much?

How can I start over in this new life if all I do is talk about my dead husband?
Why can’t I just be okay? 
Always too much.

So I clammed up. Burrowed further and further into my shell. 
But then I started to dig. 
Both literally and figuratively. 
Digging into my garden, digging into my soul. 
Dirt and sweat, tears and isolation. 
Planting seeds, nurturing plants, honoring myself and everything that surrounded me. 
After days and weeks of this I began to feel cleansed. 

I started to go out and experience life more and more. 

Without hesitation. 
Without guilt. 
(yeah, no one warns you about the 
merciless guilt that accompanies grief) 

I explored my grief on my own terms and became so self aware that I could recognize it when it came around. 
I knew exactly what I wanted or needed to do. 
What a contradiction. 
To be digging in the dirt for clarity, but it was always there. 

And so were you. 
And so was I. 
I found myself. 

And in year three, I want to explore more of who I found. 

She’s pretty remarkable. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Onward and upward

I am currently on a quest to be(come) the best version of myself. 

This is not easily done. 
Sometimes it requires my heart to break open again. 
And to remain a little broken, to see a little clearer. 
To isolate myself from what I’ve been taught. 
And from those who prevent me from doing so. 

One of the most difficult parts of this is trying to not get swept away in the madness. Those overwhelming feelings of elation from succeeding in life, and the devastation that occurs when you fail or are mistreated. 

I have experienced both highs and lows in extreme capacities this year. I was snatched up by possibilities and ignored realities. 
Not all the time but enough for it to be brought to the surface. 
Conscious thoughts battling instinctual certainties. 
The core of my truth. 
The grit of my existence.  
Trying to be who I think I’m supposed to be instead of who I was made to be. Ignoring the signs and following cues of my past, safely clinging to them as if I hadn’t really learned anything. 

Enough of that. 

For me to really start progressing then forgiveness is now the objective. 
Truly releasing and detaching from what has happened and the behaviors of others. I am loosening the reigns of past experiences and regrets. 
Stripping my soul down bare so that the cycle can stop. 
No more harm shall be done. Not by these hands anyway. 

Life will flow along, there will be actions that will make me pause, perhaps cower but I will go forth. 
Open and infatuated with what makes my soul quake. 
Never settling out of fear or desperation. 
Always acting out of love. 

On my quest.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thank you, Buddy

Think happy thoughts.
Peter said so. 
If you think happy thoughts, you can fly. 

Guess what? 
Peter was right.

I've been asked this more and more recently. 

"You've been through so much, how are you happy? What's the secret? What prescription has your doctor put you on?"

Here it is. 

I'm not on any prescriptions. There is no magic pill or cure. 

Every single morning I wake up with a grateful heart. I make a conscious effort to make love the focus of my day, nothing else. In every action, every word, every encounter, love is at the center. 

Don't get me wrong, I get upset. 
I still cry. 
I miss my husband. We all miss him. 
I get frustrated with day to day events. 
I get really irritated if I'm hungry or behind slow drivers.
Life happens and it pisses me off sometimes.
But even if I mess up, even if I fail, I apologize to myself or whoever was subjected to my humanism and move on. 

I realign my focus and go straight back to love. 

I read about it.
I talk about it.
I smile everywhere I go, to everyone I meet. 
Even if you're a slow driver.

Most importantly, I make sure I'm loving myself first and foremost, honoring my thoughts and feelings. And not allowing my feelings to be projected onto others. Unless I have really thought about what I'm going to say. I am mindful of everything, every action and interaction. 

And it is working. 

I am met with kindness, and empathy. I am having conversations with people I would have never imagined talking to before. I am receiving smiles from all walks of life and it is so good. 
What life is made for. 

How did I figure this out? 

My seven year old did it for me. 
Last year, when I was not happy, quite miserable actually. 
When I was wallowing in it, this thick, black tar of depression. It covered me from head to toe and followed me around like a slimy trail. My son would come home from school and tell me that he was the luckiest boy in the world. 

He had a grateful heart. 
He loved me, even broken and vicious, he loved me. 
He showed me what unconditional meant. 

He's seven. And his father had just died, and he's telling me it's going to be okay. 
I'm the adult. 
I'm the one who should be consoling him and here he is. 
Happy and in love with every inch of life. Loving his mother through hell. Beaming his light in my darkness. 

Slowly, that love he exuded crept into me more and more each day, until it filled me up so much I had to start sharing it myself. 

I also realized that I can not change the past nor what has happened to me but I can not repeat it. I avoid triggers, I know what sets off my depression, I know what to stay away from. 
Negative energy. 
Deterrents that I know will prevent me from my ultimate daily goal. Being happy. 
This is where the adult side came in to play, the decisions I had to make as one to continue on this path. 
To do what was best to share this gift I have been given. 
A second chance. 
I won't waste it.  

It's not easy and takes work but eventually I retrained my mind and day to day, moment to moment really, I live by the "golden rule". 

Funny how it's the first thing we are taught and we quickly forget, but ultimately it comes down to that. 

Treat others the way you want to be treated. 

With love.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Autumn renewal

I love this time of year. 

The smell of the wind. 
The crunch of the leaves. 
The warmth of a home.

Life around us dying only to be reborn.
But not really, because only the surface dies. 
The roots, the depths of the earth, that remains still.
Till it is time to bloom again.

I know this feeling all too well. 
The choice was made for me but I have embraced this.
I had to.

Some people expected me to stay in the darkness. 
To them I say, you never knew me. 
Some will never understand how I can be happy now. 
Again, you never understood my depth. 

I was born into tragedy and I haven't quit yet. 
It's not in me. 
I am built for this life and what it throws my way. 

I choose to love. 
I choose to live in the now. 
I choose to fill my glass and have it overflow so maybe, just maybe, it will run over into someone else's. 
Someone who needs it more than I. 
Someone who is not familiar with the hurt that life can bring. 

This is why I am here. 
Every single day, I make this choice. 

Death found me so I could be reborn. 
So that I would be capable of understanding.
And mending. 
I had to lose the love of my life to find the love of my life.

This life will never be easy but it will be worth it. 
Every single day. 
Because I am worth it. 

And so are you.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Life's equilibrium

I am knee deep in my transformation. 
Maneuvering through this new life, remaining open up to possibility yet cautious. Setting clear boundaries so the opportunity to be taken advantage of is nowhere in sight. 
Listening to my instincts, following my gut. 
I am no longer attached to things or people. 
If it suits me, great and if it doesn't serve a purpose or provide peace in my life, I let it go. 

Release is powerful, remaining unattached and free of expectations is liberating. This mindset has allowed me to enjoy life in its rawest most natural form. It is my gift to myself, and to my heart. 

My life before wasn't this way. 
I was attached to Christopher, deeply. 
I catered to his needs and lost myself in the process. 
This wasn't his fault, I just thought that this was how love and relationships operated. 
This is not so. 
Ebb and flow. Give and take. Balance. 
Balance is key and necessary. 
I know that now. 

I also know that if I can't allow others to freely be themselves and figure out their own needs, on their own terms, it won't last. 
I can't fix everyone, and I don't have to.

My job here is to keep life easy and breezy. 
To be a light when there is only darkness.

To smile, all the time. 

There is so much to smile about. 

And to allow those in when they need me and to let them go when our time has come to an end. To put my needs and my wants at the top of the totem pole and let the rest fall where it may. 

And you know what? 
It's working. 

There is magic in detaching yourself from life's binding ways. 

I am living, really living and it's only going to get better. 
One day, when it's all over I will know that I lived a life that mattered and the release will be just that. 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Shamed into silence

I haven't been completely honest. 
Shame does that. 
He didn't die in glory. 
He died alone. 
He died hurting. 
He was in pain and I wasn't there to save him.

I'm ready.
This is the final step.

After I write these words, after I share what I've been holding in for over a year, I feel like I can truly move forward. 
I won't have this secret haunting me. 
Taunting me. 

The control will be taken back. 

Two notification officers came to my house and told me Christopher died in his sleep. 

A week later the unit commander sits with my mother and I, and proceeds to tell me he had a normal day. 
He ate breakfast, worked out, went to work, was fine until right before dinner when his roommate went to wake him, he was dead.

Christopher died of a multiple drug overdose. 
At least that is what the autopsy says.

My first reaction was impossible. 
Someone killed him.
He was deployed. 
He wouldn't do this. 
We video chatted daily, sometimes twice a day. 
There were too many uncertainties to convince me otherwise. 
He wasn't a drug addict.

This isn't happening.

His belongings arrived from Afghanistan. 
I recognized most of his stuff but there were times when going through it, I felt like he was a stranger. 
Then I found some note cards. 
Information about emails and passwords I had no clue he had. 
I thought for maybe Fantasy Baseball but then one website lead me to bitcoins. 

Christopher was into stocks and savings. 
We were saving money to buy a house. 

Then I Googled "can you buy drugs with bitcoins".
An entire underground world that I will never understand. 
Too much involved, too deceitful. 

Christopher could barely use iTunes, no way he figured this out. 

I get a phone call from the investigator state side and she tells me, "Forensics concluded he purchased the drugs using bitcoins." 

This is where I fall completely apart. I was fighting to survive day to day, diligently nurturing my children and trying like hell to care for myself. I realized that I had been lied to all along. I had commanding officers in the Army tell me he had a normal day but they knew this was how he died. They watched me scream and wail over his dead body. Still nothing.
I convinced myself that he committed suicide. That he willingly chose, the day he ordered the drugs, to be done. 
No way out. 
I didn't know what to believe anymore other than the man I knew and what we shared. 
But I was angry. 
This must be what hell is like. 

Christopher always loved Dante's Inferno. 

The final report is shoved into my face and my mail slot. 
Another lie. 
Someone from his unit and the investigator were supposed to hand deliver it, so I would understand. 


I read it alone. 
Still no answers. 
No receipt of purchase.
Just saying it cost this much and he used bitcoins.

Where did the money come from? 
He certainly didn't take it out of our joint checking account. 

He didn't have a "normal day".
He was last seen that morning.
He was cold.
He was dead for over 8 hours.
No one looked for him. 
No one saved him.
The interviews make no sense. 
Continuing to shift the blame, and repeat the nonsense. 
They are describing a stranger who looks like my husband.

How am I going to explain this to our kids? 
Oh, God!?!
How do I explain this to myself? 
I don't know what to believe. 
Too many secrets, too many lies. 
Too many unanswered questions.

The death certificate comes and it says overdose. 
As if that's all his life amounted to. 
The line of duty report comes and it is deemed that he "did NOT die" in the line of duty. 
He gave his life for his country but because he wasn't shot or blown up, he didn't die the way they thought he should have, this is what he gets. 

The information or lack thereof keeps coming in, slowly trying to break me. 
They haven't broken me yet. 
They don't know who I am.

What I do know is this. 

My husband was kind, generous, hard working, loving, determined, and extremely intelligent.
He delighted in all things. 
He was an adventurer. 
He loved me, his children, his family and friends. 
And it was extraordinary.
The list could go on and on but at the top would be human. 

His heart was so big, it swallowed him whole. 

I will never let his life go in vain. 
I will live my life to save others from this nightmare. 
I will hold my head high knowing that I had a pure love, a take me or leave me but always take me kind of love. 
I will live the rest of my life cherishing the days of my past and allow myself to enjoy the days before me.  

I know who he was. 

No more secrets. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Stop lying to yourself

Abandonment comes in many different forms. 
Parents, lovers, friends, family. 
The list of people can go on and on. 

After Chris died I felt abandoned.
People I thought would always be there.
Death changes that.
Loss changes that.
Divorce changes that.
Pain in any form changes that.
Being honest changes that.

Honesty is one of the hardest attributes to have. 
Not only can it be awkward but it can also hurt like hell.
The abandonment I felt, that honesty, it killed me.

I feel it more often than not but I have learned that it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the person who has left.

There is nothing wrong with me. 

People will tell lies, and they will twist the truth to make their lies more palatable for themselves. 
Not for the people they have hurt. 
They weave these lies and manipulations into a life, a life that they are comfortable in, without you. 

You can abandon yourself, you can lose sight of who and what you are. I have been there too. I'm not doing that anymore. I've got my grips around who I truly am and what I mean to this world. 

I won't lose sight of that again. 

Life changes in the blink of an eye.
Loss shows you how important it is to let those you love and care for never feel as though they've been abandoned. 
Tell someone how you feel when you feel it. 
Let it out. 

It can kill you thinking you were the problem. 
Don't do that to someone. 
I've seen it happen and he certainly didn't deserve to feel that way. 
I don't care what lies you've told yourself, it'll never be worth it.   
The truth will hurt but at least you will know.
And you can start to build a new life. 
A life that is worth living.