Well damn.

This is a Really Real Health post.

Well, it’s a Really Real Mental Health post, too.

And for that matter, it’s a Really Real COVID post.

And it’s a long one (really, a long one, but important).

I got a text from my sister earlier today.

“I just got the call that Dad tested positive.

He’s being moved to the COVID unit tonight.”

My response “Well damn.”

You see, I’ve been waiting for this. Almost holding my breath. Last week 7 employees tested positive in the physical rehab hospital where he’s staying. I knew it would make the rounds, even in an environment where everyone is being more than careful.

But this is COVID. It spreads like wildfire.

And my feelings on him being positive are so so mixed. So so hard to weed through. And there’s so much guilt and shame wrapped up in my thoughts.

But I’m not sure there should be guilt and shame.

Even before COVID, Dad was dying. A slow miserable death from a neurological disorder that I can never remember the name of. It’s been taking his speech and reasoning for the past year, taking his ability to walk safely and care for himself, all the while he was refusing any sort of help.

And through a lot of this, he’s still been in there, just unable to communicate clearly. Phone calls would be long and difficult, with 90% of it consisting of “umm” and “uhhh” as he tried to find the words to say what he called to say.

He’s been falling a lot, while still trying to live his normal life. A month ago, give or take, he went to mow his expansive lawn on his tractor. He ran out of gas. Trying to walk home he fell into a ditch,

where he spent the entire night.

When he was found the next morning, he still refused help, other than a ride back home.

He fell later that day and spent that second night on the floor, unable to get himself up or get to a phone.

That’s what led to his stay in the hospital. That’s what led to him being transferred to rehab.

That’s what led to him being transferred to the COVID unit.

He’s dying, a slow, miserable death. He’s living out his worst nightmare, trapped in a body that no longer serves him.

I remember a conversation awhile back, either with Dad or my sister, about how much Dad hated the idea of being restrained. The idea of being arrested and put in cuffs for drinking, was enough to make him quit cold turkey, after years of alcoholism.

He’s being restrained by his own body now.

And he’s being transferred to the COVID unit later tonight.

His response, when he finds the words, is to insist that he doesn’t have COVID, that the test was bullshit.

Of course that’s his response. That’s the hill he will die on.

And he will die.

If not from this, than from that. One just prolongs the suffering.

I hate seeing him suffer, even though my relationship with him has been strained for most of my life. I hate knowing that he’s in there, mostly aware, at least some of the time, and watching his body fall apart around him.

No one deserves to live that life, no matter how they’ve treated me and everyone around them.

But I feel guilty for wanting this to be quick, for hoping that this is the thing that helps him walk out of this world with at least some of his dignity left.

It feels shameful to hope your parent dies sooner rather than later.

But I have to wonder, is he even living anymore?

“I just got the call that Dad tested positive.

He’s being moved to the COVID unit tonight.”

Now we wait to see if he ever makes it out of there alive.

Wear your mask, wash your hands.

This is kind of personal now.

They grow up

This is a Really Real Parenting post.

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile.

Mulling it over and under and around. Letting it float in my head. Taking undefined thoughts and turning them into words and sentences, so that I can put fingers to keys.

I miss my son.

Not just because I haven’t seen him, but also because he’s growing up, and growing more distant.

It’s developmentally appropriate of course.

“This is developmentally appropriate behavior.”

That was my mantra while he was growing up. As frustrating and annoying and difficult he could be, his behavior was always exactly what it should have been, even when I didn’t like it. (My son?!? Noooooo, not my son! He was a constant pleasure to be around, of course.)

And now is no different.

I was incredibly lucky that for his first 2 years living so far away, we talked almost daily via Messenger. He called me every week, often reminding me that it has been a whole week since we talked last.

We were close before he left (even though we fought horribly) and we were closer after he left.

But time has passed, the world has changed, and he’s settled into his life out there.

And it felt like overnight we went from chatting daily, to chatting every week or two. From weekly phone calls, to monthly phone calls.

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

And still, that doesn’t make it easier.

I had a dream last night, that I was in the basement where I lived pre-parenthood. I remember how fun it was to live my life without the constant oversight and judgement that came from my parents.

Of course, I got pregnant, and there went the carefree life of early adulthood. (Don’t worry, I’m making up for it now.)

He’s living out that time in his life. That carefree life of early adulthood.

And I have no interest in holding him back.

It’s hard though. I’m always afraid that he’s realizing how much I fucked up while he was growing up, and that he’s distancing himself from me because of it. I worry that I’m becoming that obligatory phone call that he dreads.

I don’t believe that he owes me phone calls. I don’t believe that he owes me anything, honestly, because I brought him into this world and it was my job to raise him. He doesn’t owe me because I put that time into raising him.

It’s a type of grief, a type of loss, as he grows up and our relationship changes.

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

He doesn’t need me in the same way anymore, and that’s good stuff right there.

I raised an adultier adult.

And when this is all weighing heavily on me, and I miss him so much that it hurts . . . I get a random text message. . .

A song that made him think of me.

A song that brings tears to both of our eyes.

He ends the message with, “I love you, Mom.”

Of course, I respond, and he never replies, but . . .

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

Parenting is hard when they’re little. It’s hard when they’re growing up and fighting against you with everything they have.

But I feel like it’s a different kind of hard when they are grown.

And I guess my feelings are developmentally appropriate too.

Still a Widow

This is a Really Real Widow post.

Widowhood is weird.

Like, it’s no longer really a noticeable thing every day.

Well, I mean it is, because it profoundly changed me, and this version of me only exists because of it. But it’s not something where it is in the forefront of my mind on any sort of a regular basis.

And then some anniversary rolls around. Her birthday, her death day, our wedding anniversary.

And these next two.

The anniversary of the day we celebrated her life, and the anniversary of the day we met.

Each anniversary brings with it different memories. Memories of when she was alive, memories of that whirlwind year after she died.

It’s so strange sometimes, the way I end up with a foot in each world. One world where I wonder what would have been if she was still alive. One world where I’m so happy to be. A world surrounded by chaos and a world where there is stability.

Somewhere in the basement I have a scrapbook with her recollection of the first time we met. It was a book she planned to add to, giving me her side of our story, because I was the one who normally told the stories.

At one point, after she died, that book was always on the coffee table. I read it often, it felt so comforting to have her words to hold onto.

And now, it’s packed away in a box, probably along with my baby book. Things that I can dig out and look through, but not anything to concern myself with on a regular basis.

Sometimes there is guilt in this. Did I really love her if I’ve been able to pack those memories away? Did I really love her if she doesn’t have a predominant space in my home? Did I really love her if I’ve been able to more forward?

I know the answer is that I absolutely love her. Not only in the past tense, but now, still, always and forever.

The Parker sized hole in my heart has smoother edges, and I’ve learned to live around it. Her death forever changed me, I see her influence in things that I do every day.

Often I have some grand point in mind when I start to write these posts. And with this one, there wasn’t really an ending in mind. I just felt the need to put fingers to keys.

She will always be a part of me.

I miss her.

Four Years Ago Today

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

TW: Talk of Suicide including method and post death graphic stuff.

Four years ago today.

Four years.

My new normal started 4 years ago today.

I still replay the movies in my head. I remember waking up earlier than her.

I remember going in to wake her up so that I could bring her something back for breakfast.

I remember the way her skin felt, that eerie cold that didn’t feel quite right. I knew the second I touched her that she was gone.

I remember the rigidness of her limbs.

I just knew.

I remembered hearing the rustling of her pills the night before. I thought she was just taking her night time meds. The bag that held her medications was empty. She took every last one of them.

I remember sending a message to my closest friend and neighbor, asking her to get Draven out of the house while I was on the phone with 911. I didn’t want him waking up to the chaos. I wanted him safe from the new reality.

I remember making phone calls that changed lives forever.

I remember sitting in my desk chair lost, numb, unsure of how to process the way my life was changing.

I remember my mother sitting here, strangely she was up from Florida, strangely she was going to take me to breakfast that morning, strangely she came into the house as the first wave of paramedics did.

I was so thankful she was here.

I remember taking a drive, to Burger King, to get us out of the house as the coroner took Parker’s body out.

I remember ordering food that went uneaten.

I remember being thankful that Draven already had therapy that day, and that I was able to get in for my own appointment.

I remember crying more tears then I ever thought possible. The feeling of my eyes being so raw from wiping them.

I remember.

Four years.

Four years ago today.

It’s that month

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

TW: There’s no direct mention of suicide, but there is mention of the questions surrounding it including questioning her thoughts leading up to it.

It’s that month again. Of course, it’s pride month, and apparently it’s PTSD awareness month, too. Both of those things are close to home for me.

But, Parker’s deathday is also this month. From the night of the 7th into the morning of the 8th there are a whirlwind of memories that hit me like a ton of bricks.

But even as far back as June 1st there are memories and with those memories come questions. So many questions.

What could I have done differently? Were there signs that I didn’t see? How could I have supported her better?

Would she still be alive?

This month is hard for me. So very difficult.

Four years ago I was posting on Facebook that I was overwhelmed, scatterbrained, unable to keep up. Four years ago I remember being so frustrated at how much things had changed because of her surgery. I didn’t know how to keep up around the house without her help.

I remember being so frustrated that she wouldn’t stay off the damn leg, that she kept accidentally standing up on the wrong one.

Four years ago.

Four years ago.

I wish I would have realized it was one of the last times I’d ever see her face.

I wish I would have known it was one of the last times I’d ever get frustrated with her in person.

I wish I would have known that when I get overwhelmed I yell, and that it isn’t necessary. That communication goes so much better when I stay calm.

The stress of our lives had gotten to us, it had broken us down. It was tearing us apart. We weren’t as kind and loving as we had once been. We were pushing at each other, trying to trade blame about where the stress was coming from.

It was around this time that I said to Parker and Kidlet, “We’re going to be okay, we can pay our bills.” I had no idea that paying my bills would be the least of my emotional worries in just a week.

Just a week.

I didn’t realize that in a week I’d have to start learning how to live without her.

I realize now that it wasn’t just her help that was missing, it was her emotional support. She had withdrawn. We had lost sight of the love that kept us going.

Of course, the love was still there, we had just forgotten to lean into it when times were tough.

Just a week.

I wonder, had she already decided ahead of time? Was it a momentary decision? Did she already know the end was near?

This month is so so hard.

I miss her.

I Lived

This is a Really Real Widow post.

With some mental health thrown in, because they are completely entwined.

This time of year is incredibly hard.

Yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of a major accident that Kidlet and Parker were in. The pictures show up every year, reminding me of the horror of that day. Deep open wounds and the two people I loved most in the world strapped to stretchers. The screams I heard coming from my son in the ambulance that day are sounds I will never forget.

Sounds I never want to forget for the same reason I let the pictures show up in memories every year.

We survived that shit. Parker took a motorcycle to the head and Kidlet caught it, and they lived.

The reminders of Parker’s ankle surgery a few years back show up this time every year, too. It’s the beginning of the countdown to the day she died. That surgery and the restrictions after it were the final straw that broke her. Her death date is now less than 2 weeks away.

The last video I took just went through my memories the other day. The last photos will be any day now. The post where I tell everyone she died will be a few days after that.

I could delete them, block them from my Timehop memories. But I don’t.

We survived that shit. Kidlet and I lost one of the most important people in our worlds, and we lived.

I recently saw my first firefly of the year. The first was in Florida and I’ve seen one since coming home as well. It’s another reminder that it’s this time of year. A bittersweet thing as she was my firefly, it’s nice to have that reminder of her, but also, it means that day is coming.

Each year this time passes with a different set of feelings. The first year was a sense of urgency, a sense of needing to get to that one year anniversary so that it can just be over and done with. The lead up is always worse than the actual day.

Each year the pain has lessened. In earlier years I’ve felt the need to do something to remember her. A trip to the beach, normally. I’m not sure that’s so necessary anymore.

This year the reminders are there, but the feelings are different, yet again.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s different, why does it feel so different.

And then it came to me. It feels less traumatizing this year. That’s the difference.

In the past it was a punch to the gut with each picture or facebook post, or even a just a general look at the calendar to see the date. This year it just is. It’s a calm, gentle reminder that it is part of my story. Part of my life.

Part of what got me to this point.

I’m super down on myself right now because I feel like I’ve undone years worth of work. Years of work that were so important as I tried to live in ways that Parker couldn’t anymore. I had to get better, I had to save myself, or losing her was in vain.

But this is part of my story as well. And that’s okay.

This is okay.

I’ll survive this shit. Life has thrown me curve ball after curve ball, and I lived.

I lived.

See you in my dreams

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Parker was in my dreams last night.

I was in some class, where we were all sitting on a giant bed together instead of desks, and the teacher had McFlurry’s delivered for everyone.

Don’t ask me, fucking weird ass dreams.

But then after class I went to the office and Parker was just standing there.  She saw me and got one of her big smiles (the ones that make her eyes squint).  We talked for awhile. Mundane conversation that I can’t remember the details of. I knew she was a ghost and at one point I asked her “Why are you staying here instead of being with me?” And she asked “Who says I’m not with you?”

I’ve been thinking about her more lately, which is why I had a dream about her, I’m sure.

I’ve been remembering little things that I haven’t thought of in years.

She didn’t like mint toothpaste, so I would search for other flavors and buy 3 or 4 tubes at a time. We were so happy when Crest came out with an orange flavored, but eventually they discontinued it.

I’ve used mint toothpaste since she died, just switched without realizing it, but I might go look for another flavor next time.

I’ve also remembered the specific way she liked her boxers and bras folded. She didn’t care how I folded anything else, but those two had a specific way of being folded.  I used to laugh, they’re fucking underwear, who cares, as mine would be half balled up and thrown into the drawer.

But since she died I fold my underwear just like that. Something I didn’t even realize I was doing until just recently.

There was more to the dream. Friends I haven’t seen in forever, friends I’m growing distant from.

At some point it changed completely and Wonder Woman was there. I wish I could remember more about that part.

Being a widow is strange sometimes. Remembering the little things that catch me off guard.  How did I forget that. How did it slip from my memory when it was such a big deal for all those years.

It makes me wonder what else I’ve forgotten.

What else is missing.

Besides her of course.

I’m happy that I’m living this particular life, but sometimes it really hurts that she’s not here too.

But then I remember this version of life only exists because she’s gone.

That doesn’t make it hurt any less.

So, I’ll just be happy for that rare moment that she pops up in my dreams. That moment when I get to see the smile that goes to her eyes. That moment when I get to see her face light up one more time.

I miss her.

Out of Sync

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Talk about weight.  Talk about suicide w/ plan.

The sun is out. The birds are singing. It’s a beautiful day to want to die.

I mean, I’d rather not want to die.

But it’s a beautiful day and I want to die.

I can’t fucking move in my body without getting out of breath. I’ve gained back so much weight.

I don’t want to lose it because of how I look.  I know I’m beautiful no matter how big I am.

I want to lose it because I’m uncomfortable in my skin. I can’t function at this size. I can’t move around in bed, I can’t walk up stairs without huffing and puffing, I can’t walk around the block without everything hurting.

I’ve been here before and I don’t want to be back.

And I can’t stop eating. Part of it is medicine but a bigger part of it is boredom.

I can’t stop eating.

I want all of the things and I want them now and sometimes, most of the time, I’m tearing myself apart while I’m eating, beating myself up for not being a better person, for not having more self control.

I fucking hate this.

I had a good relationship with my body. I had a good relationship with food. I had a good relationship with my needs.

And it all fell apart. And while it was falling apart quarantine happened and it just destroyed that relationship entirely.

Intuitive eating no longer feels possible. Movement is hard and clumsy.

The idea of fighting my way back down from this size seems insurmountable.

And it’s making me want to die. The idea of being stuck in this body like this, makes me want to die. The thought that I’ll never be able to get this under control, makes me want to die.

I laid in bed last night calculating which medications I had available to me. Which ones I could scrounge up around the house even though most everything is locked up, out of my reach.  Would it be enough? Would I slide away peacefully like Parker? Or would I just end up in the hospital, alone with my thoughts? Eating myself through days and days in the psych ward.

I kept myself in bed and eventually drifted off.

I woke up this morning with the dread that I had to drag myself out of bed. I hate my body, I hate feeling it move.

I called out of work, even though i work from the same desk I’ll spend my day at anyway. I just can’t mentally function today.

Great, another thing to beat myself up over.

I’m fat. And I honestly don’t mind being a healthy, move comfortably, good relationship with my body, kinda fat.

I do mind being like this.

It makes me want to die.

The sun is out. The birds are singing. It’s a beautiful day to want to die.

So Much Anxiety

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m full of anxiety, mostly about work.

The kind of anxiety that makes me feel like I can’t breathe.

The kind of anxiety I remember from when I was a little kid.

That

“I fucked up”

anxiety.

Except I don’t think I’ve actually fucked anything up. Either way, I’m doing the best I can given the circumstances.

But I can’t shake this overwhelming feeling that

I

Fucked

Up.

It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Except I’m waiting for someone to told me I singlehandedly destroyed it all.

But I’m not that powerful.

I can’t save it, and I can’t destroy it.

I can just keep doing what I’m doing. Pushing papers, writing posts, trying to learn things that I’ve never done before. Trying to keep doing the next right thing.

It’s not my place to save the world.

I’m not that powerful.

But this overwhelming anxiety is locking me in place. I can’t catch my breath, even when I slow down my breathing. Even when I focus on just sitting with the feelings and letting them pass through. Even when I try to remain rooted in this moment. Even when.

My chest is heavy. The ativan isn’t working.

This is SO HARD.

I still can’t believe I took a mental health day today, but I can’t imagine being able to focus on work in this state.

All I can hope is that I can get it back under wraps by tonight, because I have to go back to working sometime, and I don’t feel like this anxiety is going to end anytime soon.

I feel like it’s a part of this new normal we’re living in.

Writing that brought tears to my eyes.

This overwhelming feeling of panic could be here to stay while the world figures out how to exist like this. This discomfort could be a part of me for the foreseeable future.

That is hard shit. But if I can’t run from it, I have to learn how to exist with it. How to make it less debilitating.

I need it to stop raining so I can go for a walk.

I need to stop drinking so much caffeine, that isn’t helping for sure.

I guess it’s time to take another ativan while I figure out how to weave this discomfort into my life. How to exist around it and through it.

If it isn’t going away for awhile, I guess it’s time to make friendly with the weight on my shoulders, the pressure in my chest, the never ending thoughts in my brain.

Maybe it’s time that we coexist.

Hi, old friend, lets chat.

Still a Widow

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I wonder how she’d be handling this?

We didn’t leave the house for weeks at a time when we were at our worst, but I still wonder how Parker would have reacted to a pandemic and social distancing?

How would she have reacted when we lived in florida and we were close to her friends? Would that have made a difference? We were pretty isolated up here anyway, we didn’t really spend time with anyone.

How would she have calmed my fears? What jokes would she have made? Would she have broken down?

She was always the stronger one from the outside looking in.

What foods would she want, knowing we needed to shop as little as possible? Which comfort meals would she want me to cook?

What kind of order would she need around the house?

We were used to being in the same space all of the time. That was our normal. Neither of us could work most of the time, neither of us had lives outside of our home. We were inseparable to a fault. That would have come in handy right now.

I also wonder how horrible this would have been if we lived in the homeless shelter while this was happening?

What precautions are they putting in place?

How scary is it there right now, knowing that this could infect the entire shelter in a matter of days? So many vulnerable people in such a small space.

I’m so thankful my life is where it’s at right now. I’m glad I live in my own space. I’m glad I can buy groceries. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about keeping the lights on.

I’m thankful she’s missing this particular part of life. I’m glad she doesn’t have to struggle through this. She doesn’t have to be afraid that her mom will get sick, or her aunts. She doesn’t have to worry about losing a friend or loved one.

Widowhood is in every facet of my life. It’s always there, quietly whispering. It’s here too. It’s in the middle of a worldwide crisis. It’s in the middle of social distancing. It’s in the middle of a pandemic.

It’s always with me, and it makes me wonder.