Saturday, November 30, 2013

Twenty Weeks Without My Honey

My stomach is doing strange things. A curse of vague symptoms is ruling my life. My SUV makes strange little noises, which make me crazy and then something breaks. It’s fixed, so then I think it’s over, problem solved, only to have the basic noise begin gain, a tiny whir, a constant reminder that something’s not right, how ironic, a perfect metaphor for my life.  
Some “truths” hit you like turning on a bright light; others are like the slow light of dawn. Some of my greatest ah-ha moments were at that time of day. They all led me to now.
 I believe that every life has meaning, and is meant to be enjoyed. My niece once told me to begin writing a new book. In the instant I knew my love story had ended, no more anything. . .
My guy gone for the rest of my life, that’s a new reality I can’t embrace; acceptance, well, there’s no choice. My niece, Rachel, was right I need to begin a new book, which I’ll call, “Life After Honey”.
After forty-five years of us and we, a party of one; how do you make that fun? It can be done. I see it happening all the time. It’s a skill set I’ve yet to cultivate. When I’m not busy lamenting what I’ve lost, life’s abundant moments enchant like my island. Thank you, God, for all you’ve given me; I am not blind to it, in spite of my behavior.
My head hurts; grieving, the pain, the suffering just really freaking sucks. You can apply all the positive attitude, religion, even meditation and this still is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even women who didn’t have a sweet, loving guy are lost. I have to learn how to put my honey, my loss on the side, so I focus on what my life will become now; whatever that is.
Good luck to me and anyone else in this boat. God bless us, please.   

Thursday, November 28, 2013

First Thanksgiving in Widow Land

My Darling, I missed you so today! Thanksgiving dinner without you, I can tell you it felt strange to be with people, but not you. After forty-five holidays with you I carried you in my heart today. We enjoyed the day. I worried that I’d break down, missing you. I cried thinking about it, but today I just lived the day as it came.
Tonight as twilight dwindled, I sat on the balcony thinking about how we loved the view of the ocean at dusk. I smiled as I lingered over a lifetime of sunsets with my best guy. Remembering how much you love me made me smile. The ache I usually feel from missing you didn’t grab me. I felt grateful for my life with you without the searing pain, a first.
My hosts, people whose company we’ve enjoyed a handful of times, were as charming as ever. My dear hostess prepared a feast for the holiday. The table display deserved a magazine cover. Did I tell you the food was good? Yum.
The two other dinner guests rounded out the table nicely with friendly conversation. My first holiday dinner without you didn’t totally suck; it was nice. I had a good time, and then our crazy lady bud, Adri arrived. I had somebody I love a bunch in the house. Before long it was time to go home. I lived through one of those bench mark days I’ve been dreading.
For all the tears and fears the pre holiday anticipation generated Thanksgiving couldn’t have been better, unless of course, you were here. I’m so stuffed.

Thanks God, for my friends, you place the best people in my life. And thanks for all the years with a great guy who loved me more than I could possibly have deserved.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Raw Pain Strikes Again

Mindfully staying focused on each day’s activities, hoping to get in the swing of my new life, I’ve searched the classifieds for a stationary exercise bike, things to put in my itinerary for New Orleans, but my hands are sweaty and my stomach is twitching. Tears hang in the corner of my eyes wanting to come.
Tomorrow is the first Thanksgiving without him in forty-five years. How can this be? Ready to scream and cry again, I didn’t know this level of sad and lonely was even possible. This pain has got to end or at least decrease. I feel so broken.
I think back to the desperate days after his death when I seriously thought about walking into an ocean current. Today, I wish I’d done it.
Now, quivering, crying, all snotty nose happy horse shitting as my darling would say; what do I do?

In time I’ll take comfort in how well my husband loved me, but today the pain of his loss feels so unbearable. God, why do you do this? Is there a point to all this pain? Don’t YOU love me? I’m trusting YOU to take good care of my darling.  This hurts, but I still love You and I’m praying for your grace to get through this. Only You have the power.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Does Pain Have a Purpose?

Heartache, heartbreak, the pain grabs me by the scruff and gives me a good shake. Some days focus comes my way, but not today. Overcome by sorrow, my tears flow.
My Honey, I miss you so. Is this my purgatory? Is this my hell or just the dark night of my soul? For such a smart youngster, I’ve become the dull oldster. I no longer know anything. Your quiet strength gave me such confidence, and I thought it was me, silly.
I thought I knew who you were in my life. I thought I was the strong one; wrong, again. You gave me so much more than I ever knew; thank you, thank you. We were so good together; I learned the value of love with you. Safe and comfortable in your heart and arms, I felt sheltered. With every fiber of my being, I miss that feeling.
Are we really spiritual beings on a physical vacation? Are you home and happy? You keep sending fireflies into the bedroom! That’s so cool. I know it’s you.  It’s too weird to be anything else.
One of your purposes in life was to be with me, thanks; we made the best of everything, becoming better people in the process.
Thanks to you, I see the good and God has responded by putting enough good in my life to trip over.
When I was young, I believed that bad luck is what God doled out; good luck is what you made for yourself, which served me well for some years, but I hated to look at God like that.
Pain, hah, pain is the frienemy of growth. After a comfortable relationship with God and my husband, I feel the crushing loss of both.

Re-constructing these relationships, my growth challenge has me hurting today, but if I am a spiritual being, I suppose, I’d better act like it. Good luck with that. ;) 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Acceptance in Widow Land

Enough activities in a day will keep my mind busy most of the day. Being physically tired at day’s end guarantees a few hours sleep, but just when I start to get caught up in my new life, that hole in my heart opens wide, aches hard and I cry, not like these award winning actresses, who squeeze out one poignant tear, oh no, this old girl sobs.
According to the Tao as I understand it, the key to happiness is accepting reality each day. Accepting the new reality means letting go, accepting that never again I’ll hear my husband’s voice saying, “I love you.” There’ll be no hugging, hand holding, no more knowing looks or inside smiles. I could go on, but my nose is starting to run. I don’t like to think how much I miss him; it hurts too much. Okay, let’s just say, “I’m working on it.”
The new stuff is just as freaky. What do you mean new stuff? That would be everything I’m doing, now, without him. Shortly after Kirt died I went to a restaurant, the waitress showed me to my seat, as she handed me the menu she asked, “Will anyone be joining you?” I started to say my husband, but sputtered and stuttered, getting tongue tied, so I bit my lip and shook my head, no. I’ll be dining alone is freaky new stuff, shopping for one. All of my decisions are about my wants and needs, actually, I’m beginning to embrace that one, but sometimes it feels so guilty.  
Accepting that I have no one to share all those special little moments in life with me; how is that going to help me be happy? Perhaps, I’m being obtuse about this, grrr, so be it.
My life is getting busy again; busy is good up to a point.  Thanksgiving is coming, the first in 45 years without him; how do I embrace this? I don’t know, but I’m tired of hurting. I could embrace some healing, if I knew what that was.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Still Learning

My Aunt Margaret, the woman who first taught me about learning to “speak dog,” is still teaching me.
On her last day in the hospital, Margaret implored me to come, stay with her when she got home. Her usually strong voice quivered, faltering over the words, “Patty, I want you to come and stay with me, when I get out of the hospital. I’m on oxygen. There’s fluid on my heart and lungs. I’m having a hard time breathing, and my back still hurts.”
“Yes, Maam, I’ll be there as soon as I can get organized.” “Patty, you need to come to New Orleans anyway. You have that expensive storage locker. You can use my truck to move that stuff to a better location or sell it. You need to cut down on your expenses or you won’t have enough to live on. You live too far from home. If anything happened to you; what would I be able to do from here?”
“My dear heart, Adri, will take the dogs, but I want to bring Smoki. He’s going to be seventeen years old. Its bad enough he lost Kirt. He’s used to being with me. I’ll have to get his travel papers. When are you being discharged?”
“I have a cat. My cat DOES NOT go in my house; does your’s go in the house? Margaret queried in a less faltering voice.
Smoki, the cat in question purred into the phone, as I stroked his chin. “Yes, Aunt Margaret, he’s in bed with me now.” I put the phone near Smoki, so she could hear him purr.
“You have a cat in the bed with you,” she fairly boomed. “Yes, Maam,” I snickered while tickling the two dogs on the foot of my bed with my toes. “I don’t keep animals in my house; see if your friend will keep him,” she said in her end of subject voice.
I decided not to ask her if Smoki could sleep in the bathroom where her little Jack Russell, Daisy Duke used to sleep. “Margaret, he’s an old cat, he’s all I have left from Kirt, and our years in Yorkville. I don’t know, if he’ll make it, but I also don’t know if he’ll make it in cold weather, so let me think about it. When are you being discharged?”
“Tomorrow, they’re going to send me home with oxygen, my insurance only pays for four days in the hospital for this and I’ve been here too long. They haven’t done a thing for me, I feel just as bad as I did when I first came in here.”
“Margaret, who’s taking you home? Is Harry taking you home or Mike? Are you going home, or will you stay somewhere else?”
“I don’t know who’s taking me home. I suppose Mike is; I’ll know when tomorrow gets here. In the mean time I’ll say good night to you and speak with you tomorrow.”
I responded, “Good night, Aunt Margaret, I love you,” and hung up.
Margaret likes to convalesce without intrusion, so the first week after her procedure, I wasn’t worried, but midway into the second week I began to worry about her, good gosh, I just lost my husband; I want to spend time with my aunt, but didn’t want to go there until spring, well, what I wanted isn’t too important right now.
Think straight, get organized, there’s so much to do. Kirt’s ashes are still on the night stand; should I do something with them? Robert Redford and Lucky need booster shots; can’t forget.  Where’s Margaret going? I’d better call in the morning before she’s discharged, so I have the number. Need to give the dogs’ heart worm med before I go. How long can Margaret stay at Mike’s house? I know she hates to be away from home. I hope she’s going to be okay.
Wow, I’m going to New Orleans. I’m going to miss my dogs, maybe, I shouldn’t take the cat. He likes Adri. The trip could be hard on an old cat. He likes to go out, but he’s an inside cat. Margaret’s big unneutered male might rip up my little guy. She lives in the country without a dog to bark. I would be better off bringing Chi-Ping, at least, she’ll bark to let me know someone’s coming.
I’m spinning, too much sudden change, and a feeling of dread, so I decided to think of all the questions. Solutions will be had in the morning.
To be continued.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Just Shoot Me

Nothing screws with my head like family. Now that my aunt is back home and doing well enough to find her critical voice again I think I’ll cancel my trip, which went from a mission of caring for her and keeping her company to a “vacation” as soon as she felt better and comfortable at home.
While I’m glad to have my strong, hardcore aunt back, I’m not interested in leaving Puerto Rico with the low temperature of 70 for Louisiana with a low in the 40’s. I’ll take my vacation in spring, when I would prefer to go.
Recently, we’ve had too many conversations in which she has told me what my husband ”really” thought about my writing, how much time I spend on the computer and what I “should” have been doing. She knew him better than I did, the poor man. How do I grit my teeth or remain composed when listening to that?
My husband adored me, only death could take him away from me. We were together 24/7, since 1988 after his accident. We worked out our differences and became almost one. We were always two individuals. We were both strong people and personalities crazy about each other. Why does my aunt feel required to rip that to shreds?
To be stuck in her house listening to her tell me how he “really” felt sends shivers up my spine. He hasn’t been gone eighteen weeks; I’m lost and alone in my mourning. I don’t need to subject myself to abuse in the name of family love and concern.
I still answer her with “Yes, Maam,” respect. I love her dearly. She has many wonderful attributes, but she doesn’t get to trash my life under the guise of what she calls “honesty.”   
How long does it take people to understand most of what we call truth is just our opinion?
Spending my first holidays as a widow with her is suicide; that’s my opinion.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

And So It Begins

Twenty years ago I didn't keep an eye out to see my Aunt Margaret standing on the curb in front of a store waiting to be picked up. Today she informed me that she would not tolerate me playing with my computer when I should be focusing on her during my visit. She felt very put out to have to search the parking lot. She shouldn't be treated that way.
This is what she chose to tell me, when I told her what time my flight arrived, that rentals car prices were higher than I expected and I’d still have the problem of returning the car; could we find somebody to bring me to her house for $75? That’s not bad for a couple hours work; it’s a win-win in my book.
“So do you know anybody, whose kid wants to make $75 picking me up at the airport?” I asked again, not wanting to honor the little prickly she tossed at me.
“Did you think it was right to leave me to search the parking lot for you?” she demanded. “Margaret, I was in the fourth car.”
Remembering my side of that unpleasant day, I said, “Margaret, that’s water way under the bridge, please, let go of it. How should I get to your house?”
“I want you to know,” her tirade began. I interrupted, “Margaret, you have to have your say and then you’re going to hear the other side of the story, and so it goes, just turn it loose, let go of it.”
“I've said my piece, let go of it, is right. If you’re planning on going anywhere, you’ll need your own transportation, my truck has to ready in case I need it,” Margaret moaned. “Are you planning on going into New Orleans?”
Somehow I knew the, “You can use my truck to move your things from the storage locker,” wasn't going to work.
Somehow suspected that when she got home and felt better things would change from “I want you to stay with me” to “You can come visit me on your vacation.”
My VACATION! My friend is having surgery next week. She’s important to me. I would never have left on vacation the day before her surgery had it not been a special request from my most beloved living family member. I had happy plans for Thanksgiving; it was going to be the kind of party Kirt and I love. I was going to picture him smiling, joking.
Margaret ranted about how she has friends because she doesn't ask them for favors. She wouldn't ask her family for favors. She doesn't ask anybody for anything, if they want to do for her that’s another story.
“Margaret, I think most families have somebody who would like to earn $75 in no more than two or three hours at the most, picking me up from the airport. That’s not technically a favor; it’s fair trade, but if you can’t ask anybody, you can’t; I’ll figure it out.”
Margaret then told me that her nephew had signed a contract to help her with her doctor appointments; that I wouldn't be taking care of her in that way. She really didn't need to be taken care of at all. She would cook and clean and show me her hospitality.
I assured her that I had ambitions to take control of her. I respect her and honor her autonomy. I bought the ticket in hope of providing companionship and having some fun with her.
Fun was out; she had doctor’s appointments to worry about. That’s the last thing I remember her saying before I hung up.

Well, God, I didn't think it could be done, but I didn't think about loss or mourning or even Kirt, too much. I’m so blessed with these new circumstances, I think I’ll just go lie down.  

Into the Fire

It's not bad enough that I'm sad and lonely, apprehensive about a future alone. I must at this point remind myself why Kirt and I preferred to  be away from my family. 
I"m going to take care of my 88 yr old manipulative, domineering aunt, who is also sweet and loving and all of those things a southern belle manages so well.
I'll teach her mutual respect and compromise or leave. It has to be that way. In my family I always ended up feeling guilty and inadequate. My husband really loved me, which taught me to love myself. 
I have to learn how to say, "F you!" in a nice way, I'm so hostile. 
Margaret is the queen of my way or no way. We both had husbands who spoiled us.  
We'll either work it out to live together compatibly or I hate to think. 
I don't intend to allow my life to be trashed for family duty, this needs to be good for both of us. 
I have a friend who takes excellent care of her mother. She caters to that ungrateful woman, who never has a good thing to say to her or about her. I've wanted to tell the old girl how lucky she is; "I'd have put your behind in a nursing home a long time ago."  Grrr.
Ok, a few deep breaths, calm down, lower the blood pressure. 
My family is still embroiled in all the negative psychological stratagems/shit that screwed me up in the first place. 
I must add that I love these people and they love me. Love isn't the issue; how we behave is the issue.
Welcome home almost feels like a threat with out Kirt to balance them out. 
God, if this is a test; give me strength, please.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gratitude in Widow Land

Thank you, God, for forty-five years of learning about love, learning to love when young and lusty, when comfortable, fat and sassy, under stress, duress in sickness and disability, always caring, always, kissing, holding hands, wanting to be together LOVE.
I no longer bawl wildly out of control, screaming, sobbing; thanks. My tears simply flow down my cheeks impolitely plugging up my nose. This new toned down version is a blessed improvement; thanks again.
Do I sound bitter? My best friend from childhood, she’s bitter. She lost her husband after Katrina. He was in a hospital having test when Katrina struck. She searched for him online and by phone after the hospital shut down and patients evacuated all over the states. Records were lost, things happened, his cancer went undiagnosed until treatment too late. This woman is bitter, dark and sad. I’m just lost without my guy.
I’ll thank you again for any help with not feeling like a fish out of water, with not feeling like the Widow Carr, a breed of females apart from society.
The last time I was single, I was an awkward teenager; thanks for the opportunity to relieve that experience in an old body. I can hardly wait.
I’m not bitter; I’m scared. That’s something I rarely felt in the forty-five years I was married to my hero. When I was with him, I thought I could do anything. Thanks, Honey, that was so awesome.
So, God, thanks for giving me the right guy for me. I admired your work on that one!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Life in Widow Land

The pain, the pain, the panic, the frantic feeling my head would explode, the sudden loss of my other half, my better half, my constant companion, my friend, my lover flipped my world upside down.
Seventeen weeks later, I remember the day vividly, but the days after, no, the first couple of months after are a haze.
At some point I realized that having a project I believe in to work on would be good for me. I had been talking about doing a fund raiser for a friend of mine, who runs an animal shelter, so I picked the easiest I could think of and we did a photo day fund raiser for Amigos de Los Animales PR.
Working to concentrate on a task that’s more stimulating than challenging gave me moments of peace in that second month. I had to “buckle down” to put it together. Sometimes regardless of how the project went, I’d have uncontrollable bouts of crying and screaming.

As a rule I’m a pretty buttoned down hard ass, thanks to my WW II Marine Corp dad who beat me regularly until I reached eighteen and he died leaving me really screwed up; until along came the hero of my story, the guy who died this past July, my guy.
Life in Widowland still sucks.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Joined Widow Support Group

I joined a Widow/Widower online support group. I’m a handbook kind of person. Other people’s posts helped; some were interesting, others were so sad. Reading about other people’s pain helped. I don’t like the idea of misery loves company, but their painful stories somehow normalized mine. Can this make sense?
To say I experience the dark night of the soul after Kirt’s death would not be an exaggeration. My faith, my love of God was completely challenged. People asked if I was angry with my husband for leaving me, no, I was angry with God for taking him.
Then came the bargaining, God, I would have traded half the life I have left to die at the same time. You know I would! I’m a person who prays, talks to God regularly, so to have my primary relationships disrupted was overwhelming.
The support group may be a bridge to a normal life again; whatever my new normal will become. We all handle things in our own way with our own style and grace. Reading these stories gave me a snippet of peace.
Telling a widow of three days that in time it does get better little by little or as we say here, poco a poco and knowing it to be true felt good.

Tears flowed again, but this time I felt a touch of relief when I stopped.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weird Widow Blues

The Sabor/Flavor de Isabela outing went so well we weren’t ready to go home after visiting every booth, so I called a friend who lives in nearby Aguadilla. This is a guy my husband and I have known since our first visit in 2005.
This man and Kirt were tight buddies, the kind you get few of in a lifetime, so his pain and loss I feel with my own when I’m with him. It was unbearable to be near him. Call me weird, but sensing energy levels is something I’m fairly good at doing. My heart goes out to our friend, but I found it impossible to cope. My pain felt like it could kill me; not the bad day and you’re dead way Kirt went, slow decay.  
I have to let go of Kirt to be well and not attract darkness. When I hang on to Kirt the hardest, bad things happen in my life. I’ve had a ton of bad shit happen lately. Other widows tell me if I don’t get out meeting people and being socially active, I never will, that we shut ourselves off; it becomes a habit, and then woe is me.
Who knows how many other widows have a hard time being with their husband’s old buddies? For me this boulder got bigger as time went on, now would be a good time to see him and say hello or something.
This is so stupid, why I should feel so awkward with this friend, but then so much feels awkward or at least off center. Even if I sit in a room of strangers, in my mind it’s the wife of the late Mr. Carr, the widow Carr sitting there, so I’m not quite a raving loon, but….
The afternoon went well Marcy and he spoke very fast in Spanish, like they know if they talk fast I haven’t a clue. They were right. I don’t care, it’s a good day.
Seeing this man’s face, looking into his eyes, I see all the reasons I liked him in the first place. Why we liked him.
Don’t you just miss the sound of your husband’s voice? I wish I had a recording of Kirt’s voice, the voice I love above all others, sorry A.B.
To sit and talk with our friend, to hear a warm familiar male voice was nice, by a friendly fire nice.
Poco a poco, little by little my life looks like it’s coming together. Please, don’t let me be premature in saying that.
My wonderful women friends sustain me. The maternal energy of this island is amazing. And my friends elsewhere, who all happen to be women, thank you so much for your love and support.
God bless and guide us, show us some love as we strive to love you. Big SMILE, thank you.

A Taste of Life After my Honey

My friend, Marcie, and I went to a Taste of Isabela or in Spanish Sabor de Isabela to taste our way through the food vendors. These early forays into society after widowhood make me tense. My world has turned 180*, but everything else is the same. He’s never coming back to me; my husband is gone in this lifetime. This hasn’t sunk in yet. It horrifies me, but here I go smiling and laughing with my friend.

Our first shared dish, chicken wrapped around chorizo sausage accompanied by mashed yucca got lip smacking rave reviews. The sun shone brightly, so my big floppy hat came out of the back pack. Salsa music kept our feet stepping smartly. The Plaza of Isabela is charming with well trimmed ancient Mimosa Trees shading some of the walks.
Marcy my vivacious friend talked to everybody in the fastest Spanish I’ve ever heard. Some conversations I understand nothing, and then others I can follow along quite well. Learning Spanish is almost as much fun as learning to speak dog. A major difference would be I don’t know when the dogs are laughing at me. Speaking Spanish takes me away from my usual fears, for some reason I’m not afraid of my mistakes.
My budget is so tight I squeak, but I’m a sucker for things people make themselves, if of course, I like it. Lucy, this tiny little slip of a vendor made some of the loveliest jewelry out of dyed seeds and coconut shells. Twenty dollars will feed me for a week, so it’s dear, but when she put the necklace around my neck we knew it belonged there. Her first sale of the day had to be my last, since I found a purse another woman made in shade of blue that suit me perfectly and my well worn fanny pack no longer zips.
Kirt waving from car. 

Marcy with the Rosie Perez voice tickles my funny bone so we cut up like school girls. When a thirty something told us when she grows up she wants to be just like us, I laughed more deeply than I have in a long time. We high fived womanhood. It was a good day; it’s still possible. For so long I thought I’d never see the sun in a day.   

Let me buy a couple of things, feed my face and tell me a good joke; turns out I am easy to please. The pain of losing Kirt begins to ease. And then I feel oh, my God how can this be; I’ll never see my love again.