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.

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.

How Far I’ve Really Come

This starts as a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And ends as a Really Real Widow Post.

I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

Each day that I work, I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I can’t believe I actually earned this money. I can’t believe how much earning this money really means. I can’t explain how good it feels.

Each problem I solve, each new task I conquer, and each fear I overcome, I’m amazed that this is who I am now. That this is what I am accomplishing.

I remember when I realized I couldn’t work anymore.  I remember the shit storm that lead up to that moment. I remember the heartbreak that came along with applying for disability.

I remember.

At the worst of this, I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t be left alone.

I remember.

And the truth is, I will probably end up back in the hospital some day. I will probably do another round or three of the partial hospital program. I will have countless more hours of therapy.

But I’ve come so so far.

So far.

I can see myself going further. I can see myself working full time. I can see myself becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I can see myself getting better at ignoring the constant anxiety running through my head.

It’s a big deal that I can see a future with further recovery.

It’s a big deal that I’m seeing a future without disability.

Without being disabled.

And there’s another side to this.

I remember watching Parker push through her own struggles to go to work and support the three of us while she was barely making it emotionally and physically.

I remember.

I love my life and I know everything that has happened has brought me to where I am now.

But still, I wonder.

If I could have worked before. If I could have shared some of the load. If I could have helped more. If I could have taken some of the weight off of her shoulders.

Would she still be alive?

If we had the money to pay the bills. If we had the money to keep the lights on. If we had the money to avoid the eviction notices. If we had the money to keep food in the fridge.

Would she still be alive?

I’ve come so far, and I’m doing so well. And I know her death is a big part of what pushed me towards my recovery. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am if things hadn’t happened exactly as they have.

Every success, every bit of growth, with every push towards recovery, is served with a small side dish of sadness.

But I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

And I can’t wait to see how far I go.

In My Dreams

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I don’t dream about her that often anymore. To be honest, I never did have all that many dreams about her.

This one was about missing her. This one was about how long it’s been since I’ve talked to her. This one was about how impossible it is to get to her.

The details don’t really matter all that much, I guess. But I remember the moment in the dream where I realized “It’s been too long since I’ve sent her a message. It’s been too long since I’ve called her.”

It’s been too long.

I was afraid she’d be hurt by my distance. I was afraid she’d move on. I was afraid she’d forget me.

I’m afraid I’ll forget her.

I remember, in my dream, wanting to send her something in a video game we played.

In a video game where I left her a hidden message the night she died. A message that’s still there waiting for her to find it.

In a video game that played a part in her Eulogy.

I remember wanting to send her something.

Something that should have been instant. But instead the game said it would take days.

It would take days because it was hard to get to where she was.

It was hard to reach her.

I woke up and my chest hurt. I truly physically hurt. It was dark in the room and I could just barely make out Wonder Woman sleeping peacefully beside me. I wanted so badly to wake her, to ask her to hold me, to ask her to comfort me.

It’s still a very strange feeling to want my fiancee to comfort me over the memory of my dead wife.

I didn’t wake her then.

I laid there and contemplated getting up and starting my day. I was still thinking about it when I woke up a few hours later.

It was really hard to get moving this morning.

I told Wonder Woman about my dream. She held me for a moment before settling back in for more sleep.

It’s hours and hours later and I still feel that ache in my chest. The ache that was such a big part of the early days of widowhood. The ache that isn’t as constant and is never as intense. The ache that still catches me off guard sometimes.

It’s been too long since I’ve sent her a message.

It’s been too long since I’ve called her.

It’s been too long.

I miss her.

But it is

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I’ve been watching the clock all day.

“It isn’t really bothering me this year.”

Watching as the hours tick closer to my wedding anniversary with my late wife.

“I barely even remembered.”

My stomach is in knots.

“Grief really is getting easier, these dates aren’t a big deal at all.”

I keep glancing at the clock.

“I’m doing so much better than I did last year.”

I feel like “better” is supposed to be the goal.

I spend so much time telling people that you never get over something like this, but I still expect myself to get over it.

And it does consume less of my time. It consumes less of my thoughts. I have gotten better. I have moved forward.

But sometimes, like on the eve of my wedding anniversary, it’s still hard.

And I’m not even quite sure what’s hard about it. I’m happy. I’m not missing her any more than the normal amount (which is always a lot). I’m “living my best life.” I’m oh so happily engaged. In the grand scheme of things, this is just another day.

Just another day that she’s not here.

Just like yesterday.

Just like tomorrow.

I don’t know why these kind of days hit me so hard, at a gut level, even when I don’t feel sad about them.  It just grabs me, from somewhere deep inside.

It’s that reminder, that no matter what other titles I take on, I will always carry the title of widow.