Here we go again…

So.

Here we go again. It’s the Saturday before the Wednesday.

Before you think I’ve completely lost it-in 2014, the 23rd of August fell on a Saturday. That was the first day that Jake asked to be taken to the hospital for severe depression and suicidal thoughts. They gave him a prescription for Ativan (which has side effects including suicidal thoughts) and a pamphlet recommending that he take a nice bath.

The worst day of our lives was four days later.  Wednesday, August 27, 2014. In my opinion, this sculpture best captures the pain we endured that day. I remembering lying on the floor, feeling like I was filled with stones.  This year-like the past two-I am continuously re-living every day between the Saturday and the Wednesday. Every conversation. Every text message. Every meal. Every event. Everything.

Here’s the thing. I honestly believed–I had myself convinced–that I was going to be okay this year. This year would be different. Haha! I know better!

At the end of last year, I registered to run a 1/2 marathon on August 27th of this year. I didn’t really think about what that meant for me. For the most part, it just meant doing something healthier than I’ve done the past two years (in case you missed it, 1st year mark–beer and whiskey shots, 2nd year mark–didn’t leave my bed). I guess in the back of my mind I also figured I would be honoring Jake (who we all know was an avid runner), by running that day.

But, recently, I’ve really been thinking about this. I don’t ever want to honor or memorialize August 27th in any way. So, why am I running this stupid race on August 27th?

Because it’s not about Jake. I’m running, jogging, walking, and possibly crawling across that finish line to honor myself. I’m running to honor the fact that my kids and I, Jake’s family, Jake’s friends, and my family lived through that awful day.  I’m honoring all the people affected by this loss–the widening concentric circles that I’ve talked about in the past. Friends, old and new, who were there to support all of us who loved him-because it has sucked for them too. It sucks to watch people you love hurting.

On August 27, 2014, the unimaginable actually happened.  There are those of us that at times thought that we might not make it through such heavy, debilitating pain. So, when I run this Sunday, I’ll be thinking of all us who somehow lived through that day…and every day after. My body and brain may feel like they are filled with stones, just like the sculpture-but I’m going to drag them both across the finish line no matter what it takes. And I’ll be taking you all with me.  XO

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So I Keep Living

“So I Kept Living”

I was walking down an unfamiliar street and saw the sign with the above words in a window of a juice place (ha! ironically-see previous post). I stopped in my tracks and stood there staring at it. Didn’t move for at least a minute. Four words that when put together that way were so powerful that I stood on the street for a full minute and processed them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I have taken some time to go back and re-read my old posts about how I navigate my world without Jake. There are numerous trends throughout my story, but one emotion stuck out for me. Whoa. I’ve been ANGRY. Like really, really angry. Not angry at Jake so much (although there was some of that), but just at people, places, things, ideas, dreams, rocks….. Somehow, in the past few years I arrived at a place where I was pissed at a rock.

It’s been almost three years. I have felt so incredibly low many times. I have spent days in bed (and sometimes still do, although those days are fewer now), had to make to do lists that included “take a shower” and “eat some food”, hated Wednesdays, then the 27th of each month, then holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid places that I had been to with Jake. I couldn’t even drive by them. I’ve gone through phases where I drank too much and didn’t eat enough. Even had times when I was tempted to shake the person in front of me in line at the grocery store because I was irritated that they were being too chatty with the cashier and scream “DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT MY HUSBAND DIED AND I AM VERY SAD AND ANGRY AND THIS IS NOT HOW I PICTURED MY LIFE SO CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT UP BECAUSE I WANT TO BUY THESE MICROWAVEABLE PANCAKES FOR MY KIDS AND GET MY DIRTY ASS BACK TO BED!”

It became very routine for me to wake up in the morning full of purpose and expectations.  But, it usually took less than 20 minutes before I was back into “survival mode” and just looking forward to going to bed again that night.  I blame a little of this on the weather since last September.  In Seattle, the weather from September until this past week (late June!) has been miserable, nasty, rainy and gray all day everyday.  Experiencing this weather for so many months has been rough on most people who live here.  Like many others, my mental health depends on exercise, specifically, trail running.  I used to run in downpours and freezing cold.  But it has been so bad that all my trails became running water creeks and pretty much impossible to run without wearing giant fly fishing boots (which I haven’t actually tried to run in but I imagine it’s pretty tricky).  The combination of sadness, anger at everything, grief, longing, depressing weather, and not being able to take care of myself physically was debilitating.  In reality, although I thought I was angry at everything and everyone else, I was really most angry at myself.  Angry at myself for not having more strength, patience, and energy.  Angry at myself for not being the mom/daughter/sister/friend that I really wanted to be.  Angry that I had to rely on help from others (every day) that I knew I would never be able to repay/reciprocate.  REALLY angry at myself for not attempting my trail runs through raging rivers wearing fly fishing boots and a full on snow suit (because obviously I am such a wuss).

A shift in thinking crept up on me when I was so busy being angry.  My cousin was having a fancy destination wedding in Turks & Caicos.  When I first received the invitation, my immediate reaction was “No.  Of course I can’t go”.  As the weeks went by, I started wondering if I could actually do it.  Little by little I realized there were ways I could overcome the “obstacles” to taking this trip of a lifetime.  Rather than being bitter and resentful because life put me in this “position” where I obviously could not take trips or do anything fun–ever, I started planning.  I started out by asking for help.  (Unheard of–right?) HUGE pleas for help and months of planning/organizing/reorganizing led me to an incredible, stunning, beautiful, relaxing and SUPER FUN vacation-it was better than I had even imagined!  One day during that vacation, I received some really upsetting news about an old friend who recently found out that he was very sick and undergoing treatment.  Even though I was in the midst of all the beauty and fun, I plunged once again.  A lot of crying and a lot of anger (including the urges to punch anybody who walked by me that I thought looked ‘douche-y’) led me to what I now refer to as “poor choice Monday”.  (I won’t go into exact detail about the ultimate poor choice I made that day, but I will give you a hint.  It involved rum drinks and did not end well.)  The next morning though, I woke up with these thoughts:  I don’t want to ever say “someday maybe“.  I don’t want to keep waiting for “things” to fall into place so I can climb out of the darkness.  I don’t want to wake up one day and realize I hadn’t danced around the kitchen with my kids before they became too cool to do that with me because it was vital that I got the laundry done.  Most of all, I don’t ever want to say “It’s too late” ever again.

I started running again and going to my favorite gym ever in the history of gyms.  After I was leaving my first class back, I was stopped short by that sign at the juice store.  As I stood and stared (and to be honest I was probably talking out loud to myself), it struck me how profound those words were.  I kept living, and because of that, I can keep living!By no means do I expect to find myself skipping happily through meadows and mountains whistling along with the birds or conversing with squirrels (although you never know…).  I don’t expect that my feelings of being overwhelmed will completely go away (after all, we ALL get overwhelmed).  I don’t foresee any time in my future when I won’t need help from others.  But I’m really hopeful that I can be kinder to myself.

I have a lot to say–too much for one post!  Stay tuned for future posts about:

  • My feelings about “13 Reasons Why” and the Michelle Carter case
  • Three Years
  • Trying to stay “rooted in gratitude”
  • How I am really doing with this developing hopeful attitude
  • Future “poor choices” like trying a juice cleanse again

 

Fathers’ Day

These weeks leading up to Father’s Day have been really hard. I am bombarded with emails about what “dad” needs for Father’s Day. My first instinct is to cringe-then I immediately delete. The younger kiddos have Fathers’ Day events and crafts and presents at school. Everytime I walk in the door to the preschool the notice about the “Father’s Day Picnic” stares me right in the face. Right at eye level. The kindergarten teacher changed the event name from “Doughnuts for Dads” to “Doughnuts for Dudes” and I have been incredibly grateful for that. Two years ago on Fathers’ Day–I don’t think I even noticed how much Fathers Day was in my face everywhere. Now I notice every little thing. Except they are not little things anymore.

I work at reminding myself about my strength. I work at being mindful. But I sometimes wonder at what expense? Everytime a sad memory or image pops into my mind I STUFF IT DOWN. That is exactly what it feels like. Stuffing it way back down to the boxes in the basement. But, the boxes don’t go away.

I very much sense people–people I love, kind-hearted people, well-intentioned people–feeling that I really need to “get past this”. If I smile or laugh, people think I’m “fine”. If someone asks me how I’m doing and I say “good”–they breathe a sigh of relief because I’m finally moving past “this”. If I go out on a date, people think I must be doing fantastic. In the BEFORE, I would have probably thought these very same things about someone else. And really-I believe it is comforting for people who love me to think these things and if it is important enough, I will let the “people” know otherwise. But what I despise–what makes me angry to my core–is the judgement. I was not perfect BEFORE and from August 27, 2014 forward-I fall at the opposite end of that continuum. I am often flustered, overwhelmed, and forgetful. I don’t tend to care about things that really don’t matter (like when my daughter cut her own hair a few weeks ago-it doesn’t look so great, but it’s only hair). I alternately feel disconnected and so connected to my kids. I love them to pieces and can’t wait to see them–until five minutes (or less) after I pick them up and they are driving me crazy. There are still days that I just crawl into my bed and sleep because it’s easier than staying awake and feeling the bad feelings. I don’t do this everyday. I’m not apologizing for these imperfections. I’m done trying to explain to people who will never understand why I’m not getting past this. The only person I really need to answer to is myself. It’s my brain that bears the beating. I can choose to beat myself up like some other people do, or I can reconcile the facts that my family has suffered a senseless tragedy and it’s okay that I climb into bed every so often during the day. It’s okay that my four kids drive me crazy sometimes because I am the only parent. There is no shared custody here. I am it. I’m totally giving myself permission to get angry and yell and scream sometimes because I am an imperfect person, in pain, raising children who are in pain, and I’m doing it alone.  Yes– I have a lot of help and support.  Thank goodness.  But ultimately-it’s on me.

I’ve mentioned my support group-for survivors like me-before.  I have not missed one meeting since last August.  Sometimes I don’t want to leave.  I want to go home with these other people who totally get it. We are all in different stages of “new-ness” to the events that changed our lives forever-but there is absolutely no judgement and when we are there–nobody interrupts anybody else.  We all say what we have to say and sometimes we cry for each other and sometimes we laugh with each other-but there is never judgement and there is always, always space.  We give each other space to be.  At my last group, one person made a fantastic analogy that I need to share.  It’s like the person we lost had this huge box of shit and they couldn’t deal with it anymore.  When they died, they passed that huge box of shit to us and a TON more shit was added.  Now we are all holding these overflowing boxes of shit and there’s so much of it that the box can’t hold it so we are all getting covered in shit.  Because of this–no one wants to be around us because they don’t want to get any shit on them.  Nobody wants to share the shit (who can blame them?).  We can’t clean the shit off without putting down the box of shit and even if we put down the box and clean up a little–we always have to pick that box up again at some point and get dirty.  It reminds me of something I’ve said before–the person we love, took their temporary pain away and spread it out on those who loved him/her permanently. Forever.

Every year on Father’s Day weekend, there is a huge Washington Brewers Festival.  I remember Jake and I (and the kids) going to it a few years ago and having such a great time.  Jake loved good beer.  He loved craft beer.  It was like his Disneyland.  We had so much fun.  For the first time, I am going back.  Not as a party-goer-but as a volunteer.  I don’t know why.  It just seemed like something different to do that might be fun.  (I’m kind of dreading the commitment right now because its cold and rainy outside…but oh well).  I’m going into this with one expectation–that I will be filled with happy memories of Jake everywhere I look.  I also think, Jake would have been there, bragging about his wife who was pouring beer for X brewery.  I know he’d come over to my spot every so often, say “Hey hun” and give me a kiss or a slap on the ass, and then go off to try another beer.

There is one other thought I had recently that I want to share.  A few months ago I pulled my hamstring–a common injury for trail runners because we trip a lot (and sometimes fall) and have to catch our balance.  I refused to rest-knowing that my running is my best therapy.  I just couldn’t really run uphill anywhere.  So, I ran and did a lot of stretching etc.  Recently on a run, I started thinking about how good my hamstring felt, and how I could probably get back into my routine of running hills, etc.  Not five minutes later–I kid you not–not only did I trip-but I fell HARD to the ground and just felt the pain in my hamstring as I practically heard it shred.  Once I checked to make sure I wasn’t broken or unconscious-I got up and limp-ran the rest of the way.  I even laughed at myself out loud because I thought it must have looked really funny when I fell (even though no one saw me).  But I also started thinking about how analogous to my life and my journey that whole situation was.  I wrote a post talking about how great I was doing and strong I was and hear me roar etc.  Then I started to get inundated with Fathers’ Day events and emails.  Then I sensed judgement from people who love me the most.  Then I fell.  I didn’t, however, just lie there and wait for the bears and cougars and snakes to come eat me.  The super important thing I did, the most important thing that I did even though I was hurting more, is that I got back up, picked up my box of shit, and kept going.

 

Barely Existing

I am barely existing.

This is how my very wise friend described me.  She is right.

It is August. I hate August. I wonder if I’ll always hate August. It has almost been a year. One year. That was supposed to be the magical number. “After a year”, “in a year”, “give it a year”, “no big decisions within a year”, etc. I wonder what is supposed to happen? All of a sudden it’s almost been a year and I feel worse than ever. I wonder if up until now I’ve just been more numb or in disbelief or distracting myself in order to not feel the pain. Because it has hit me hard recently. The pain. The true understanding that I am the only parent of four young children. The emptiness. The loneliness. The despair. How did I manage to get through the last year?

The Kristen Suit is wearing very thin. It has holes and tears-exposing what lies underneath. Someone recently spoke with me about karma. If I believe in karma than I have to believe that I deserve this pain–that deep inside of me there is something very wrong and evil and pretty soon it is going to show through the Kristen Suit. I am so scared to find out what this is.

We got a fantastic offer on our house a few weeks ago, but it fell through a few days later. No movement since then–so we are living at my parent’s house and driving back and forth. I haven’t seen my dog in over a month (he’s staying at a dog ranch and from what I hear he is very happy!). Living out of suitcases and not knowing what is going to happen –doesn’t help any of us. As my father is recovering from surgery, my mother has become very sick. I feel as though this past year has really taken a toll on both of them and on their health. I hate it. I need a different plan. But I am empty. The only thing I actually can feel, the only thing I can actually think about is this pain-the hole constantly burning in the center of my body.

Last month I talked about pursuing new interests. YAY! I was all excited about these interests. However, I didn’t think about the obstacles an only parent of four children faces when trying to pursue new interests. It is easier said than done.  I did manage to go rock-climbing this past weekend (after a ton of work trying to figure out who was going to watch my kids all day). It was absolutely amazing. I went with a group of women I had never met before. They don’t know my story. They don’t know about the Kristen Suit. When I dropped down from my first climb that day, I unexpectedly burst into tears. The women I was with assumed it was because I had been scared. But I wasn’t scared-at all. I cried because while I was climbing up that rock, all of my focus was there–on the climb, on the rock. I didn’t feel the gut-wrenching pain. When I dropped back down, the pain came back full force and that is why I lost it. I had felt what it was like to not feel the pain-and I wanted that back.

One of Jake’s buddies told me about how they used to pray to the “Hawk God” during Seahawk games (I think I’ve mentioned this before).  I keep wondering-where is the “God that makes the shitty feelings go away”?  Because I need that one.  I need that one to take this pain away.

On Jake’s birthday this year, the kids were very excited to write messages on Chinese lanterns and send them up to daddy in heaven that night at the beach.  We ate Jake’s favorite foods, talked about our favorite Jake memories, and wrote messages on the lanterns.  We went to the beach and tried to send the lanterns to heaven.  The first three we tried caught on fire instead.  We didn’t try again.  The kids were devastated.  Their tears and wails were not drowned out by the ocean or the wind at the beach.  I hugged them and made shit up about how daddy heard their messages anyway.  But, THE KIDS’ MESSAGES TO THEIR DADDY IN HEAVEN CAUGHT ON FUCKING FIRE.  Where is the “God who gives little kids their daddy back”?  I need that one, too.  I’ll even take the “God who comforts little children who have lost their daddy by helping their lanterns fly out over the ocean”.

I’m at a point where I just want to move back home.  Get all our shit out of storage, bring home the dog, and go home.  I know financially it’s not the intelligent choice–but maybe at some times in life, there are intangibles worth more than money.  My realtor convinced me to drop the price on my home because this is the hardest time of year to sell.  I let her do it because I can’t make a fucking decision on my own anymore.  But I keep wondering–why?  Just go home, Kristen, and try again in the spring if you want to.  Why take less than the house is actually worth because it’s not the best time of year?  I’m not even strong enough to stand up to my realtor. What a fucking pansy I am.

My oldest son loves rollercoasters.  I have always hated them.  Jake was the designated “roller coaster” parent and I was the designated “carousel” parent.  This year, I asked my son if he wanted the extremely fun and beautiful babysitter to take him on the coasters, or if he wanted me to take him.  I let him know I was a little scared, but I would certainly face my fears and ride rollercoasters with him.  He said he wanted me.  So I went.  Guess what?  Turns out I like rollercoasters (well except for the one I almost died on…but that’s a story for another time).  I also know I showed my son that it’s okay to be scared sometimes, but having courage can help you discover that you might have been missing out on some really great things and thank goodness you had the courage because from this point on you can enjoy all the rollercoasters you want (symbolically speaking, of course).  I also try to keep this in mind for myself–having courage can bring on very cool and fun stuff.  But lately, the pain has become my standard.  Defenses are down and all the bad stuff is making its way in (or out). Courage is gone.

So, the year mark.  What happens after it? Am I supposed to snap out of it?  Does everything that life is supposed to be like all of a sudden fall back into place?  Because I am overwhelmed just thinking about the things that happened in the aftermath last year.  For example–the first day of school.  It was a very, very sad day.  After school that day a bunch of us went to the park so the kids could play.  I remember feeling like everything was so surreal.  Was I really standing there with my friends making small talk about the first day of school?  I know I will be sad on the first day of school.  I anticipate having flashbacks.  I wonder if every first day of school from here on out will be sad for me?  I vividly recall walking into preschool to pick up the little ones and seeing that only MY name was on the parent pockets–Jake’s name wasn’t up there with mine anymore.  It was literally a crushing blow.  That’s how I feel all of the time now.  Like I’ve been sucker-punched in the gut.

The urge to flee is a very familiar feeling for me.  Whenever things got tough in my life, I would have this strong urge to flee.  I went to NJ on vacation for a month.  I thought I was fleeing.  I only realized that this pain is something I carry with me wherever I go.  It was right there with me in NJ.  I could move to the South Pole, and it would still be with me.  I just wish something could take it away.  Please just make it go away.

I’ve noticed that I have also been flooded with memories of Jake-not of the incident-but of us.  I remember he could make me laugh so hard that I had to beg him to stop because it hurt so badly.  The majority of the times that happened, he wasn’t even trying to be funny.  I’ve been remembering our trips to Hawaii-especially the most recent one for our 10th Anniversary.  We had so much fun.  I remember baseball games and picnics and going the movies.  I remember everything.  I miss him.  I miss his Chris Farley imitation.  I can’t stop thinking about him.  I wonder if I’m actually starting to believe that he is gone.  A year later.  Maybe that’s why the pain has gotten so much worse.

I went to a support group tonight and realized that I am not crazy.  I’m fucked up, sure-but people in my shoes are generally fucked up.  I also was reminded that grief is not a nice linear process.  It’s not a checklist you can go through–shock (check), denial (check), etc.  It is more like a spiral that winds back around and re-crosses the same places you thought you had already been through.

Another friend who always seems to know the right things to say, sent me a message to let me know the “KM (me) Fan Club” is super big.  So big, in fact, that if the “KM Fan Club” were to hold a meeting, they would have a hard time finding a venue large enough.  Her message brought lots of tears.  I know I have this enormous group of friends, family, strangers even–who love me and support me–and I am so blessed in that way.  So how is it that I feel so lonely?

Remember the stump?  On my favorite running trail?  The cosmic bus stop?  It’s empty.  Completely cleared off.  I was heartbroken during my first run back when I turned the corner and saw that it was empty.  However–when they cleared it off, they did miss one item.  A ceramic touchstone I had left for Jake.  It was all that remained.  It reminded me of my soul.  Completely empty except for this love where Jake used to be.  But now the love has turned into pain.  It feels like that’s all I have left of me.  One big, tangled knot of hurt rolling down the street.

I can’t hold together the seams of the Kristen Suit anymore.  I’m not even present.  This scares me.

 

Wishful Thinking

So, everyday this week, I have been continuously reflecting on everything I did on that date 7 months ago.  Today is the 26th.  August 26th, 2014 was a fantastic day.  I hiked Rattlesnake Ridge with my BFF.  I practically ran up that thing–passing people (which doesn’t happen often for me)–all the way to the top and the beautiful views all around us.  On the way down, my friend and I had frivolous discussion about all the reality tv shows she had been watching recently.  So much adrenaline, so much beauty–I felt wonderful…and so blissfully unaware of how that was the last time I would feel that way–possibly forever.  Unaware that my “AFTER” was going to begin less than 24 hours later.

A close friend of mine recently gave me a book entitled “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. (I’m sorry–I haven’t figured out how to add a link yet!)  I didn’t even read the blurb on the back to find out what the book was about.  I just jumped right in.  I’m still at the beginning of the book, but basically it is a memoir written by a woman who lost her husband very unexpectedly and suddenly.  As I read this book, I have started noticing that at times I am holding my breath.  I have to remind myself to breathe.  I think it is because her feelings so far–are so close to my own that I feel as if she has written my story.  She has done quite a bit of research on the subject of grief and mourning, and as interesting as her tidbits are, I’m not sure I currently have the attention span to do the same.  But so far, this book has been comforting to me.  I’m not alone and I’m not crazy.  Other people experience these same feelings of “magical thinking”–like keeping Jake’s toothbrush because he’s going to need it when he comes back.  This feeling that somehow this is all reversible if I wish hard enough.  I can’t remember if I have mentioned this before, but I have detailed fantasies that this all really didn’t happen and Jake is off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.  He’ll come back very stinky and hairy and so very happy because he’d achieved that goal.

A lot of people say to me “I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through”.  Very accurate.  Just like I can’t imagine what anyone else is going through.  Well, maybe I can imagine, but I can never know truly know.  I’ve known this for a long time.  It started when I was pregnant with my first baby.  People told me all about how hard it was, the sleepless nights, the colic, etc. and I actually thought I understood.  I remember thinking, “I pulled a lot of all-nighters in college and besides, my baby is going to be perfectly happy”.  I imagined myself sitting in the glider and rocking the baby while the baby peacefully looked into my eyes and cooed at me.  I imagined dressing up my baby and waltzing around the mall to shop with all my “free” maternity leave time while everyone stopped to admire my beautiful, perfect baby.  I would be super skinny of course–as soon as that baby came out–I’d be prancing out of that hospital in skinny jeans and a tight t-shirt.  I know anyone who has ever had a baby is laughing right now.  Because we all know that having a baby is nothing like we ever could have imagined.  No matter how much people try to warn you.  We cannot know.  I remember trying to tell people who couldn’t wait for their own baby to come–“Trust me–that baby is way easier to take care of inside your uterus than outside of it”.  But I always knew there was no way they could even imagine.  With babies #2, #3 and #4-I had planned C-Sections (because the first one was an emergency c-section).  With each one after the first one, I asked the doctors to please leave the baby inside of me as long as possible until the point it became dangerous.  Then they could take it out.  “How far after the due date can we push this event out?”–I remember asking.

One night, Jake announced to me “I’m going to get up early and go run around Mt. St. Helens tomorrow.  Is that okay?”.  Of course it was okay.  I also had a million questions like “How many miles will it be? Don’t people usually train for runs like that?  What time are you leaving?  How long will it take you to get there?  How long will it take you to run it?  When can I expect you home?”  I never thought to ask him what particular trail he was taking or any of the really important stuff.  This was the first time he had done anything like this, so I was unschooled in the appropriate questions and proper warnings to him.  I did ask him to call me when his cell phone came back in range and he was on his way home.  Well, the time he told me that he expected to be finished came and went.  I didn’t hear from him.  It started to get dark.  I started to panic.  I began calling his friends to ask if they had heard from him. I researched “search and rescue at Mt. St. Helens” on the internet.   I called his buddy who was experienced in doing this kind of thing.  His buddy told me not to worry.  It probably took him longer than he expected and the worst possible scenario is that he would have to hunker down out there for the night.  But he would be fine.  Jeez Louise!  My imagination went absolutely crazy.  I was in full panic mode–pacing my house–crying–IMAGINING that I had lost my husband to a bear or cougar on Mt. St. Helens. I imagined what was going to happen the next few days.  I imagined the newspaper headlines.  I imagined what my life was going to be like without Jake.  When he finally called me, I screamed and cried and yelled.  He apologized profusely–he felt terrible because he knew I’d be worried but it took him longer than expected and he couldn’t get a cell signal to let me know.  I think about that day sometimes.  I imagined really awful, horrible things.  But the worst of my imaginings didn’t even come close to what it was really like to lose him.

We never truly know until we experience it–until we we live it.  Hopefully, very few of us ever have to live through something like this in their lifetime.  But I know people do.  I know people I love dearly that have been through worse (what I would consider worse).  I have no words for these people-I have no idea what it’s like to live in their shoes everyday.  I wouldn’t even dare to try and compare.

In writing this blog, my goal is to tell my story (like Mary Meatballs said).  My intention is not to spew anger and disgust at well-intentioned people who say things that aren’t particularly helpful for me.  I know that sometimes–okay, a lot of times–I might come off that way.  I realize that my grief is oftentimes directed in the form of anger at really good, caring people.  I’m not saying that’s okay.  I’m just saying that’s how it is for me.  I’m sad and I’m angry and I’m wishful beyond reason.

But most importantly, as lonely as I feel, I know I’m not alone.

Mercy Mercy-Who took Percy?!

IMG_0661Jake passed away before Percy Harvin left the Seahawks.  Before that, Percy Harvin was his favorite player.  He had other top faves–but Percy’s was the only jersey he had.  After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year, he bought a DVD of season highlights.  He watched it over and over again.  Sometimes he would stop and rewind the amazing plays that Percy made.  He admired the way Percy came back from injury and made such a big contribution to the Seahawks victory.

Jake and I used to run his favorite trail area together.  He was much faster than me and he could run much further distances.  A lot of times he “ran” with me in the morning and then went and did his training run in the evening.  Jake would run behind me and threaten me if I slowed down or wanted to stop.  He would say things like “I’m going to start talking if you slow down!” and then he would start talking on and on about things that he knew I didn’t understand until I picked up my pace.

I used to be afraid to run that trail by myself.  I knew there were bears, cougars, and all sorts of dragons and monsters out there in the woods just waiting for me to come along so they could eat me up.  Since Jake’s been gone, I have run that trail many times by myself.  As a matter of fact, I have a hard time running anywhere else except that trail.  When I’m by myself, I beg and plead that Jake will be standing around the next bend waiting for me so I can give him a giant hug.  I am honestly disappointed when that doesn’t happen.

In the AFTER, people started leaving little trinkets and toys and keys and notes on this giant tree stump that I run past.  Now, whenever I run there, I stop and examine the tree stump.  I look for “signs” from Jake.  Usually, they have been pretty generic–an angel, an anchor, a peace sign, etc.  I call that my “sign” from Jake until I get about 30 feet away and tell myself how ridiculous it is that I am assigning meaning to something like that.  But, one day when I was rounding the bend to that tree stump, I asked Jake to please, PLEASE give me a sign–something irrefutable.  Something that would leave no doubt in my mind that he was still connected to me–still with me.  I stopped and started examining the stump and noticed a little Seahawks Lego man complete with the Super Bowl Champion helmet.  With my hands trembling, I picked up the Lego man and turned him around to see his jersey number.  There it was!  #11!!!  Percy Harvin!  I literally laughed out loud, put Percy back on the stump and skipped off down the trail with a giant smile on my face.  That was it.  That was my sign.  Jake still loved me and he was still with me–and he let me know that.  I was a believer.

I continue to stop at the stump and make sure all my “signs” are still there.  I touch each one, fix them if they’ve been knocked down, etc.  This week, Lego Percy was gone.  I searched and searched the stump and the area around it.  Someone took Percy.  I know I sound like a complete loon (and I probably am) but I’ve had a rough few days (emotionally) since then.  Whomever took Lego Percy off that stump, also crushed my faith that Jake is still with me.  I guess if it was that easy to crush, my faith in that connection was not that strong in the first place.

I feel myself growing more overwhelmed with sadness.  It seems like I am sinking deeper and deeper into a hole and I’ve just lost any determination to try to climb my way out.  I feel stuck and disconnected with the world around me.  How can this world keep on going when Jake is gone?  How do people still go about their lives when Jake is gone?  I can’t even make it to the grocery store or do a load of laundry.  None of that even matters to me lately.  People say I’m strong.  But I’m not.  I’m so not.  A strong person could pull herself together and get shit done.  I am overwhelmed with giving my kids a shower.  Jake would have been the much better parent.  He should be here.  How did things end up like this?

Jake gave his mother a plant last Mother’s Day.  Even though the plant had died, my mother in law did not want to throw it away.  Her friend told her it was time to throw it away and convinced her to do it.  My mother-in-law cried because Jake would never be able to give her a plant again.  I am really pissed about that–about what her friend did.  If my mother-in-law was comforted by a dead plant–I don’t care if it was rotting or covered with bugs–she could have kept it.  It was her son’s last Mother’s Day present to her.  Who does this friend think she is telling my mother-in-law what she should do and what it is “time for”??  I guess its kind of the point of this blog.  Everyone grieves in their own way.  There are no “shoulds” or timelines.

I try to be okay with where I am–but I have this constant urge to flee lately.  Fight or flight response, I guess?  I am so, so very tired of “fighting”.