Vacation

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But also a bit of Mental Health thrown in there.

We never took vacations.

It’s one of my big regrets from Parker and I, but also from Kidlet’s childhood.

There was the year we traveled from Maryland to Florida to see our families.  That was our only family vacation in the 8 years we were together.

I think once we came from Florida, to Maryland, tagging along with my mom.  I guess that was a vacation. During that trip we managed to go over to DC for part of a day. Parker had never been to D.C. and she absolutely loved it.

A few years later when we were living in the homeless shelter up here, we met her family in D.C. for the day while they were on their vacation.

But vacations weren’t really on our radar.

Keeping the lights on, paying off the rent before the eviction notice expired, stretching the food stamps by making it to the food pantries on time. Making it to countless doctors appointments.

Those were the things we worried about.

But not vacations.

Wonder Woman and I leave for vacation tonight. I can’t count the number of overnight trips and vacations we’ve had in the 2 years we’ve been together. This is a belated anniversary trip, something we wanted to do, but couldn’t quite afford to do in September, so we were able to put aside some money and make it happen a bit late.

We’re going to a cabin in the mountains. The mountains are Wonder Woman’s place, she loves the cold. Mine is the beach and the warmth.

We’ve done lots of beach trips, it’s time to hit the mountains. I guess I can bundle up for a few days.

We have a fireplace in our cabin, and there are fire pits in the resort.

I guess I can handle that.

I still have great memories of going to the beach over Christmas on our first vacation. Hanging out in front of the fire together.

I look forward to repeating that.

I still feel weird taking vacations. I still have to remind myself that I deserve nice things. That I deserve happiness. That I deserve to travel and have these experiences.

That I deserve stability.

I’m so used to struggle that it’s hard to settle into stability.

It’s hard to feel comfortable with packing for a trip. It’s hard to avoid overthinking it.

It’s hard to find the balance between “bring absolutely everything you might need” and “if you forget something you can just buy it.”

It’s hard to find the balance between over planning/letting anxiety win and waiting for the last minute/letting anxiety win.

It’s hard to find the balance between being thankful for what I have now, and grieving what I didn’t have then.

We never took vacations.

I deserve this life.

Happy Birthday Dear Ghost

This is a Really Real Window Post.

Today is Parker’s birthday.

I feel like I should write a big commemorative post, except, I’m not sure what I would say.

This is the 3rd birthday she hasn’t been here to celebrate.

The birthday before she died, she was in the psych unit and we had to celebrate a week late. That same day she broke her ankle.

She was in a cast from having ankle surgery 6 months later when she died.

Connections.

I find that my memories are fading quicker than I’d like them to. This is why I hate not having pictures. (Take the damn picture, get in the damn picture.) I have a bad memory to begin with and now there are very few people who still discuss the memories we had. Memories fade. Something I never believed when people first told me after she died.

She would have been 41 today. But she’s forever frozen in time.

We don’t get to make new memories.

We don’t get to fight and piss each other off.

We don’t get to joke about how 41 is worse than 40, because now she’s OVER 40.

We don’t get to make each other happy.

We don’t get to share a life.

I still miss her even though my memories are fading. I still miss getting her balloons or cheesecake each year.

I miss seeing the smile on her face the year that Draven came home from his dads on her birthday. She felt like it was the best present in the world to have him back after 2 months.

She loved him.

She loved me.

And we loved her.

Today we are supposed to be celebrating her. Showering her with love. Filling her feed up with birthday wishes.

She acted like she hated the attention and hoopla while at the same time wondering why she didn’t get a whole birthday week.

Her mom would be baking her a cake the next time we went to see her. I wonder what her mom does to commemorate the occasion now. I miss her too.

Today is my ghost wife’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Parker!

To hear her voice.

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

My son sent me some voicemails from Parker that he had saved.

I had forgotten her voice, and hearing it again, even through the low quality voicemails, brought up a mix of emotions. It was nice to know her voice is saved. It was nice to be reminded how she sounded.

It was nice to hear her voice again after over three years.

The voicemails were mostly her fussing at him for not being out of bed. There was a series of them where she got more and more frustrated because they were supposed to meet somewhere and he just wasn’t waking up.

But she says, “love you” in a few of them.

Hearing those little words again was both hard and wonderful.

I wish I had more recordings.

I wish I had more photos.

I wish she could be here to see how great life is right now.

I wish she had known how great life could be.

I wish.

It made me realize that there aren’t many recordings of my voice, I hate how I sound. I don’t have any recordings of Kidlet’s voice or Wonder Woman’s voice. How quickly would I forget if something happened to either one of them.

Such a mix of emotions when I heard those recordings. I am grateful that I was able to go curl up beside Wonder Woman for a few moments before leaving.

I miss Parker. It’s not that gut wrenching grief that will bring me to my knees, but it’s a slow and steady ache. Most of the time it’s just there, and it’s been there so long that I don’t often think about it.

But sometimes it’s brought to my attention again.

Her birthday is next month and Kidlet already asked if I wanted to do anything for it. I remember when she first died we said we’d have cake together every year. He’s too far away for that now.

Cheesecake was her favorite.

It’s one of my favorites too, but Pineapple Upside Down cake is the best. Her mother used to make me one every year for my birthday. She still sends me recipes sometimes. It’s basically our only communication anymore.

I miss her family.

I’m glad I got to hear Parker speak again, even through a voicemail left long ago.

 

Better Than The Alternative

This is a Really Real Aging Parents Post.

My dad isn’t the same anymore.

He was . . .

the youngest 50 year old I’d ever met.

the youngest 60 year old I’d ever met.

the youngest . . .

Not any more.  He’s old now.  At 75, the years of taking his body for granted have finally caught up with him.

He walks with a limp, wobbling, almost drunk like. His head tilts slightly to one side. Nothing like the solid strong man I idolized when I was younger.

He grabs my bag from the car, insisting on carrying it into the house. The weight of it pulls him off his feet leaving him on the the ground. He crawls to the closest thing he can use to lift himself back to standing.  I protest as he takes the handle of the suitcase again.

He’s still stubborn as ever.

But age has caught up with his mind as well.

The line between reality and confusion has begun to blur. A hazy barrier that is no longer clearly defined. I wonder if he knows how often he’s weaving back and forth across that line. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which side of the line he’s on, even from the outside.

This visit has many goals.

First and foremost, I want to see my dad. We’ve spent too many years barely talking. An invisible moat between us, neither of us quite sure how to bridge the gap. None of that matters anymore. I’ve realized that time is running out. Time is running.

Second, I want to see what his life is like. What does he do all day? What is he eating? Is he still able to take care of the dogs? The house? Himself? I feel like I’m a world away.

Third, we need to figure out what’s next. What’s now? What does he want to do? Want us to do? How? How do my sister and I take care of him from states away? He still has and deserves an opinion and I need to hear it so we can do things his way.

He sleeps a lot during the day. Falling asleep sitting up at his desk and the kitchen table. Leaning sideways in seemingly impossible positions. He barely sleeps at night.

The house is so quiet.

Days without other human contact would be unbearable for me, but it is his reality. At least he has his dogs, dogs he sometimes has a hard time controlling. Conversations with them are one sided. He says he’s okay with his life, okay with getting older.

“I’ll live till I die.”

As I load up the car to leave he says to me “I’m fine, I’m a big boy. Stop worrying so much.”

But I will worry.

And I’ll also wonder.

When does living stop being better than the alternative?

 

 

 

Hey, Mom.

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

We have a totally different relationship now.

It’s 6am texts with “Hey, mom have you heard this song?” while he’s finishing his shift at work and I’m still sleeping.

It’s check in texts from both of us “How’s work going?” “How are you feeling today?”

It’s almost weekly phone calls and the occasional video chats where we catch up on how life is really treating us and discuss serious world topics that make my heart swell with pride when I realize how grown he really is.

It’s both of us talking about our relationships and how happy we are but also talking about problems and getting advice from a different perspective.

I still love those texts where he shares a song with me.  Music speaks to both of us in ways that a lot of people can’t fathom.  One of my favorite trips was shortly after Parker died, a road trip together, to NY, going back and forth sharing the songs that were getting us through the loss.  By the end we were singing each others songs and crying together.

This morning he sent me one of his current songs.  I did what I do and pulled up the video and the lyrics.

By the end of the first chorus I was crying.

That great big ugly cry that felt like it had been pent-up for years (but it hadn’t).

I knew why he sent it to me.

Not to make me cry, of course, but it spoke to me about his childhood, in a loose round about way, without being specific.  Of hard times he and I had, before he left, where we fought non-stop about everything and anything.  It spoke of a mother, me, who wasn’t well and a kid who finally understood that the mother was doing the best she could.

“And though you say the days are happy, why is the power off and I’m fucked up?”

And the thing is, we could both be reading totally different things into these songs. Sometimes we discuss them and realize we are.  I haven’t had a chance to really talk about this one with him.

I love that he trusts me enough to share this stuff with me.  I didn’t have a relationship with my parents where I could have discussed my music with them at his age, or really at any age.  They didn’t get it, and didn’t really want to.

My relationship with Kidlet is different now.

It’s 2,700 miles different.

It’s full-grown man different.

It’s still pretty damn amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

All is Well

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

What a difference an attitude makes.

I went and I was myself, I focused on having a good time, not on impressing anyone with my behavior. I was just me, quirky, clumsy, lovable, me.

And I had a great time.

I walked away a few different times to talk with my family via phone call and video chat. I left my anxiety behind about how that would look, I mean, I’m spending the entire holiday weekend here, it makes sense that I would need some time to talk to my family for the holiday.

I lost miserably at virtual bowling. And I mean miserably. And I let myself fall into the light natured picking on that happened because of it.

I had a great Easter dinner with a family that is graciously welcoming me to become a part of it.

The next two days are filled with more family activities before Wonder Woman and I fly back home late Tuesday night.

I am me, beautiful, wonderful, amazing me.

Lets hope I can hold this attitude for the rest of the trip!

What If?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Anxiety is a bitch.

I’m in South Carolina this weekend, at my soon-to-be in-law’s, spending the Easter holiday with family.  But I’m anxious. What if I’m too much? What if I’m not enough? What if, what if, what if?

For the most part, I’m having fun.  Her mom is a wonderful person and it’s a blast to hear old family stories and learn about people I may never have a chance to meet.  It’s fun to learn where Wonder Woman came from.

But still I’m anxious.  

What if I say the wrong thing?  What if I act too weird? What if they don’t like me?

I asked Wonder Woman, before we got off the plane, “Will their opinion of me change how you feel about me?”  “Of course not!”

But anxiety is a bitch.

Soon we’ll head to Easter Dinner.  Nieces and Nephews and Sisters. More family, most of whom I’ve met before, but still I’m anxious.

What if I’m too much?  What if I’m not enough?

What if they’ve read all of the things I’ve posted on facebook and already decided that they can’t handle this much crazy?

What if none of this really matters anyway?

What if I just go and be myself and have a good time?

What if I just, for this once, stop worrying about all of the what if’s and instead focus on enjoying myself, being myself, and letting people take me or leave me as I am?

What if?

Happy Easter everyone!