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.

 

It’s 3am

This is a Really Real Widow Post. With some Really Real Mental Health mixed in.

It’s 3am. Coffee too late and a touch of hypomania means I’m still awake.

I don’t want to be awake.

I have a full day tomorrow.

This morning (yesterday morning) there was a Michael’s ad in my email, and there was a pumpkin with Parker carved into it.

Parker isn’t the kind of name I normally see in random places.

I’ve been missing her today. I’m especially missing her at 3am.

I always miss her in small ways, but sometimes that comes to the forefront. Sometimes I can feel the old pain in my chest.

“I miss her tonight.” I send the text to our son.

I wish the ball in my chest would grow big enough to let me cry. Maybe then I could get some sleep.

Lack of sleep always brings a rough day. I wish I could rewind and undrink the coffee that seemed so appealing 8 hours ago. I wish I could rewind and take those pills out of her hand.

I wish I could rewind and change things so that I stop seeing that morning play out in slow motion.

I wish I could rewind so she could see my life now. I wish I could rewind so she could still be breathing.

I just wish I could rewind.

He texts back “Yeah, I do too.”

Then he asks if I’m safe. You know, because every kid has to worry that they might lose another mom that way.

It’s totally normal.

I joke because facing the reality of our fucked up life is made easier when I add some humor.

Life isn’t all that bad now. I have the space to be annoyed when I’m awake at 3 am. I have the spoons to type this out. I have a roof over my head that isn’t going anywhere.

I’m not suicidal right now. That makes life extra good.

I miss her tonight. That ball is still in the middle of my chest. Not quite large enough to let me cry this out. I want to be held and comforted, but it’s 3am, self soothing will have to do.

There’s no real point to this, no profound realization, no life lesson for me to pass on.

I can’t remember the sound of her voice anymore. Not all of the time. I was laying with Wonder Woman the other day and the thought hit me “Will I remember your voice after you die?” I’m engaged with full knowledge that I could become a widow again.

Life happens.

Death happens.

I’ve been watching her sleep more often lately. Making sure she’s still breathing. I even watch the cat and the dog now.

It must be on my mind how fragile life is.

Watching for the slow rise and fall of her chest. Panicked if I don’t see it right away. Relieved when she makes some small noise.

We listen to The Mountain Goats sometimes.

“I hope you die.” “I hope we both die.”

We add our own line “at the same time.”

I miss her tonight. Both of them. I miss the one who isn’t breathing anymore, and I miss the one who’s hopefully still breathing in the other room.

I need to go check again.

Maybe this time, I can fall asleep beside her.

Working it out

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

With some Really Real Widow stuff thrown in there too.

I’ve been feeling really good. Even my bad days don’t last and don’t get as bad. I’m using a lot of coping skills to pull myself off of any emotional roller coasters I end up on. Part of me thinks this is too good to last, part of me thinks maybe I’ll be okay for awhile.

I went back to the gym today, first time I’ve been there in over a month. I’m thankful that Mickey has been gently reminding me that the gym still exists, but has also been understanding that I just don’t feel like I have the time while I’m in PHP and school.

Today I took the day off from PHP, so I went to the gym and it felt really, really good, even though we took it easy.

I’m tired of PHP. My empathy feels broken and I’m restless when I’m not doing something with my hands, so groups are both boring and difficult to sit through. I’m not in crisis anymore, so the educational groups feel redundant, I’ve learned most of this stuff before and I know how to use it until I hit my skills breaking point. Then knowing it doesn’t really matter because I’m too far under to use it.

PHP is incredibly helpful for me when I’m in crisis, but I’m learning that when I’m stabilized it isn’t the best place for me. And I have over 2 weeks left until I’m finished. If I stick around to finish out my time. Nothing is making me stay.

It felt really good to be in the gym. It felt really good to have my normal routine back today. It felt good to avoid the emotional exhaustion that comes after a day at PHP.

I’m really torn.

And on another topic.

The thought crossed my mind a few days ago that widowhood isn’t that hard right now. That’s one of those thoughts I hate to have, because inevitably after that thought comes a difficult period of grief.

Right now it’s just a quiet hum in the back of my brain. I miss Parker. I wonder what life would be like with her still here. I wonder what the world is missing out on with her gone. I wonder how she would react to my latest crisis. I wonder if we would still be married. I wonder if we would have been able to pull ourselves out of survival mode.

And, I also love my life as it is. It’s one of those things that will always be difficult to reconcile. I want her back in this world and I don’t want to give up what I have now.

Luckily it’s not a choice I’d ever have to make, she’s gone and nothing will change that.

Something came up for me in PHP a week or two ago. Blaming myself for Parker’s death is one way of wishing I had control over something that can never be controlled. If her death was my fault, then doing things differently means maybe I can keep another loved one from dying.

Believing that her death isn’t my fault means realizing I had no control over it. It means realizing that I can’t control the life or death of other important people in my life.

It means I’m helpless to save them.

That’s a hard thing to process.

I miss her. I wish things would have been different but I realize I had no control over it then, and I have no control over what happens now.

Anyway, hopefully I can spend more time in the gym working this shit out. It’s been such a great form of therapy for me these past 3 years.

Can’t tell the sweat from the tears.

 

But it doesn’t seem like grief.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

But also a Really Real Widow Post.

One of those ones that blur the lines because I’m not sure where depression ends and grief begins, or if grief is even a part of this.

Brains are dumb.

I just spent 18 hours in bed, taking Benadryl part way through it so that I could force myself to sleep for as long as possible. I still want to be there, in that warm, safe, space, but my back is hurting too much to get comfortable and I can’t ignore it any longer.

Three years ago was the Celebration of Life for Parker.

Three years ago, today, we dug a heart in the sand on a beach in Florida and spread Parker’s ashes.

Three years ago today I watched her wash out to sea.

I knew this date was coming up, but couldn’t remember the exact day. Early on, people told me the dates would begin to fade and I couldn’t imagine that ever happening, but it has.

This doesn’t feel like grief. It feels like depression. I knew this date was coming but I didn’t feel particularly upset about this as I’ve fought with depression this past week. Maybe it was the cause, but maybe it was just chemical.

Brains are dumb.

I just spent 18 hours in bed.

I try so hard not to let the brain goblins win like that. Curled up in bed staring at the ceiling, watching the numbers on the clock change.

I didn’t cook dinner.

I didn’t feed the dog.

I didn’t feed myself.

I just laid there watching time tick by.

At some point I got up to take Benadryl, forcing myself into a stupor and hated the fact that we only had a few in the bottle. Knowing in the back of my head that even a whole bottle wasn’t likely to kill me. (I’ve researched these kinds of things.) Also knowing that I didn’t really want to die I just wanted this feeling of nothingness mixed with anxiety to go away.

I just needed a break from everything.

I needed a break from my head.

Brains are dumb.

Maybe that’s all Parker wanted that night. Sometimes I wonder. Did she really want to die or do she just want a break. Did she expect me to find her and get her to the hospital? Did she really think this through?

It doesn’t really matter now, so I try not to go down that road.

I try to distract myself, I try to stay busy, I try to keep going so I don’t have time to think.

But sometimes I end up in bed for 18 hours.

Three years ago we dug a heart in the sand.

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Head In The Sand

This is a Really Real Post.

I’ve had this post floating around in my head for most of the day.

Little bits and pieces of it coming to me, but for the most part I’ve been unsure how to put it into words. Now that I’m putting fingers to keys I keep writing and erasing because nothing I put seems to fit quite right. Nothing really gets to the point I’m trying to make.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t figured out what point I’m trying to make.

This week as soon as Wonder Woman shared the article pointing out that J.K. Rowling is a TERF, I deleted the Harry Potter game I had just started enjoying. I’m kinda bummed that I haven’t read some of the newer books, but now I never will. I won’t get into the politics of it, I won’t get into an argument about it, I just won’t support a person who follows that many people who hate my fiancee just for existing. I won’t support a person who very likely, herself, hates my fiancee just for existing.

For those who aren’t aware of the terminology, TERF is Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. They have a lot of hatred towards trans people, trans women specifically. I don’t really want to spend this post writing about it, but feel free to do your own research.

Before I started dating Wonder Woman I wouldn’t have worried about this, though. It wouldn’t have been a blip on my radar.

Just like before I came out as some version of queer, I ate at Chick-fil-a, and didn’t think twice.

Just like before I lost my wife to suicide I used the phrases committed suicide and Russian Roulette and did the finger gun to the head bit.

Once we know better we do better, hopefully.

Sometimes, well, often, we learn more because the world hands us a big helping of life experience and we have to take our head out of the sand.

I’ve gotten a few messages from friends who feel that, because I’m trans-adjacent, I’m a good person to ask about Harry Potter this, or J.K. Rowling that. I appreciate that the discussion is being had. I’m glad they care enough to think about it instead of moving blindly forward with their head still buried. Please keep the discussion going. But the fact is, each of us has to decide what we’re comfortable with. Just because I deleted my game and won’t read the books I haven’t read yet, doesn’t mean you’ll make the same decision. And I won’t tell you to.

But I also won’t tell you it’s fine if you keep doing it.

I’m still not sure what my point is.

But it really pisses me off that now I need to figure out how to separate the author from the world I spent my pregnancy engrossed in. I have fond memories of reading those books, fond memories of falling asleep to the movies with my late wife.

But that doesn’t change what I’ve learned.

And now that I know better, I’ll do better.

Defining Myself

This is a Really Real . . .

Well, I’m not sure how to categorize it actually.

It’s maybe a Really Real Dating Post and kind of a Really Real Identity Crisis Post.

Wonder Woman and I are polyamorus (simply put, we can openly and separately date other people) even though we’ve been functionally monogamous for the majority of our relationship.

This isn’t really about that, but it’s about defining myself for a dating profile and I figured I’d mention the whole polyamory thing before someone thinks we’re either breaking up or that I’m cheating in a very strange out in the open way. Neither of which is happening here.

Online dating means having a profile.

Which means I need to define myself.

Which is fucking hard.

I go to the gym almost daily, but I’m not really all that into fitness.

I write almost daily, but I don’t really know anything about writing.

I love coffee, but can’t really discuss any of the finer details or even explain what I like (Starbucks is fine, thank you very much).

I love cooking, but couldn’t tell you my favorite meal.

I enjoy officiating with derby, but don’t really do derby.

I’m a widow and that changed my life in HUGE ways, but I’m not only a dead woman’s wife.

I can have long conversations about weekly doctors appointments and DBT classes and therapy, and what’s it’s like to survive with not enough money and too much trauma.

I can’t keep up with politics or anything else in the news. I don’t read or watch TV or follow any current pop culture. I’m not big into board games or even video games. I can fake my way through conversations about music but mostly have no idea who sang which songs but I might know a few of the lyrics.

And all of this seems like a really negative way to describe myself but every time I think about who I am as a whole, that’s all I see.

All the things I’m not.

So, even though I don’t believe one person can meet all of my needs and I wouldn’t want her to even if she could.  And even though I strongly believe in polyamory as the right choice for me. I still haven’t really put much effort into dating, partially because I can’t figure out how to put myself out there authentically.

I can’t really figure out who I am.

And it makes me sad.

Wonder Woman obviously sees something in me. I have friends who obviously want to spend time around me so I obviously have good qualities. But being a good friend, a good listener, a kind person, those things aren’t really who I am and what I like to do.

Those things aren’t the kinds of things you use to describe yourself to another person.

Dating is hard!

Oh No, All Alone.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Today is one of those days where the only thing on my calendar is my date with gym.

Side note: Gym sure is a lucky person, they get to see me almost every day but I’m not quite sure I enjoy our dates. I’ve considered breaking up with them because sometimes I feel like the relationship is causing me pain, but I guess there are benefits in the long run.

Anyway, as I was saying. Today the only thing I have going on is a trip to the gym in a few minutes (yay for best friends who are also gym buddies and the accountability that goes along with that).  After the gym I have a long day of nothing except school work.

Lots of sitting around the house.

Lots of quiet.

Lots of time for my brain to get wrapped up in this depression.

This is the prime time for a problem.

I hate that being still and alone becomes such a problem for my brain.

And it’ll be worse later this week.

Wonder Woman is going out of town for a long weekend and as much as I’d love to say I’m a strong independent woman, I’m also scared of where my brain is going to go during my time alone. I have a whole four day weekend with no real plans, no real desire to make plans, every desire to hibernate, and every bit of knowledge that sitting still will let my brain wander into dangerous territory.

It’s too easy to let suicidal thoughts take hold when I’m alone and still.

But I’m always reminded of the days that I needed a babysitter because Parker was leaving town. I hate feeling like I’m still like that. I hate feeling like nothing has changed.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe I’ll be just fine. Maybe I’ll suddenly be interested in everything around the house and I won’t have a problem.

Not likely.

I’ve grown so much but yet sometimes I feel like nothing has changed.

I’m a strong, independent, scared-to-be-alone, woman.

Brains are dumb.

Before and After

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Today is that day.

The day that’s on the death certificate.

The day my new normal began.

For me, the 7th is always the hardest.  The 7th is the day the fight happened, the day she went to bed angry, the day I heard her take her meds, the day I went to bed on the couch. In my head, the 7th will always be the day she died.

The 8th is a day of quiet reflection.

In my head I see my house filling with paramedics and police. It plays out like a sick silent movie in front of me. I see their lips moving but there are no words.

The 8th is calm.

The 8th is when my new normal began.

I never would have chosen this.

I thought Parker was my Always and Forever, Forever and Always.

I never would have chosen this.

But I’m happy in my new normal, and as much as I want her back in this world, the best thing I can do for her is continue to live my best life.

Today Wonder Woman and I were going to go to the beach. It’s what we did last year and it was kind of perfect. The beach is my safe space.

But it’s a weekend and it’s beautiful out, which means everyone else is going to be at the beach, and I’m just not feeling that.

Today is a day of quiet reflection.

Instead we did some shopping for a few projects I’m working on, and I bought stuff to make a new recipe for dinner and we’re spending time together quietly around the house.

This is my new normal.

This morning when Wonder Woman took our pup out, she found a firefly sitting on a package that she was about to bring upstairs. She sent me a picture and let me know that Parker was trying to get inside.

While we were at the craft store she picked out a lantern and said I should make a firefly decal for the side and put a candle in it.

I love that she leaves space for Parker in our relationship. I don’t have to hide my grief. I don’t have to hide the love that didn’t die when Parker did.

This is my new normal.

I can’t believe it’s been 3 years while at the same time I can’t believe it’s only been 3 years. An eternity and an instant.

Today is that day.

I miss you my firefly.

Is That You?

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Dear Parker,

Just typing those words brought tears to my eyes.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I last heard your voice.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I last saw you breathing.

You’ve missed too much.

Kidlet’s grown up now. He moved out to Seattle and lives with his girlfriend. You would be SO Fucking proud of the man he has become. He’s doing so much better than we ever did and I can only see him going further.

I’ve been fighting harder than we ever did when you were alive. That’s the one thing you gave to me by leaving. The will to go on. I realized what was at stake and I gave it everything. I’ve gotten so much healthier mentally and physically. As my favorite niece on your side would put it, I’ve pulled so many damn weeds and I’ve grown a lot of flowers in their place.

Speaking of my favorite niece on your side, you should see her now. She’s doing so well, but I’m sure she writes you her own letters. She’s such an amazing writer and her voice  . . oh, her voice. I can’t wait to attend her first major concert. She’s done so much work on herself since you’ve been gone.

There’s a firefly that’s been hanging out on my porch pretty much around the clock for the past week. Is that you? I don’t even know if I believe it could be you but the thing seems to be there every morning and every night when I take Siah out and it just won’t leave me alone, so maybe, just maybe . . .

I’m sorry that our last words were so hurtful. I’m sorry I was so angry. I’m sorry we went through so much and didn’t have any outlet except for each other. I wish I could take it all back.

And I wish you could have seen that it would get better. I wish you could be here to see the other side. I wish you wouldn’t have lost your battle with this soul sucking bullshit.

But I get it, I really do.

Sometimes I’m not sure how I keep going either.

I miss you, and I love you.

Well Played . . .

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I took the dog out tonight and the yard was filled with fireflies.

Normally it’s a big deal being that Parker was my firefly and all.

But tonight, it was meh. They were just fireflies.

No Big Deal.

It’s kind of where I am with a lot of my grief. Things that meant a lot are no longer as big of a deal. I’m moving forward. It doesn’t mean I’m leaving her behind, it just means the pain is fading. Unfortunately the memories are fading too.

It’s not all good.

But I stood there and watched while the dog was doing the thing that dogs need to do in the front yard. Trying to look in the right spot while one blinked. Catching them just out of the corner of my eye.

And I realized one was getting closer.

And it landed on the door jam right beside me.

And I smiled.

Well played, Parker.

Well played.