Tag Archives: widowhood

What do you know?

Up and down.  Backward and forward.  In and out.  Happy and sad.  Push and pull.  Run and hide.

A couple of weeks ago, my bff and my sister plotted and schemed to get me out of my funk, get my ass out of bed and get on with my life.  It sounds like they were horribly mean and insensitive, but this is my summation, not their words.  It was my mantra the entire week I had their energy and steam to operate on.  I got out of my funk, got my ass out of bed and got on with my life – for 6 whole days.  I crashed on Day 7 and haven’t been able to do a single productive thing since.

“Haven’t been able to” really means I’ve chosen not to.  I feel like crap and know it’s all in my mind.  I’m tired.  I can’t get to sleep at night.  I’ve got random nerve pain throughout my entire body.  My muscles are so sore.  I’ve almost always got a headache.  Anxiety sometimes swallows me whole.  I’m lazy.  I’m overweight.  I’m pretty damn useless right now.

I can’t talk about Jeremy without crying.  Even if it’s just a simple “your dad would love this” moment.  I’ve tried several times to order his headstone; each phone call ushers in tears and and the hollow pain that burns inside with the weight of his memory.  I decided today I would finally take care of that monkey on my back, and I am.  But dammit!, not without death’s sting.  Where, O death, is your sting?  In every freaking room of this house, that’s where.  In every crevice of our lives, every box that’s checked ‘widowed’ instead of ‘married’, every permission slip that forgoes Dad’s name, every picture that is now proof of our past, every decision as a mom without a dad, a wife without a husband, a life without a reason.  

Sounds cryptic, I know.  Unaware or uncaring of Christ’s love and purpose that is my life, ungrateful for obvious blessings through this shitstorm and very unlike my attitude throughout this entire ordeal, I know.   I know, I know, I know.

God forgive me, I know.

Half-Life

Eastern Laramie County is a giant bubble.  Wearing Wranglers, cowboy hats and Carhartts and driving big pickups with deer bangers, every guy around here could be Jeremy.

I was 17 when my dad died suddenly.  For what seemed like forever, I would occasionally see someone in the crowd that caused my stomach to jump into my throat; a shorter, thin, dark haired man with glasses.  It didn’t happen often, but it went on for several years.  Honestly, I thought I would escape that with Jeremy.  I figured I was young, depressed, broken and scarred; losing Dad only added to the brokenness.  Now?  At 40 years old?  I’m a grown up, first of all.  Second, I’m not broken, I’m not depressed, but I guess I’m still scarred.  In less that 24 hours, 3 times I’ve thought I saw Jeremy.  3 times!  I know full well he’s not here.  He will not be working on a tractor in a ditch.  He will not be driving a pickup heading south.  He will not be at our daughter’s halloween party.  So how on earth does my mind even go there?

I had a nightmare last night.  Nightmares aren’t new for me, and from 14 to probably 30 years old they fueled a lot of my depression and anxiety.  I’ve started having them again since Jeremy’s been gone, and I think most of them have involved him.  He didn’t make an appearance last night.  I was fully aware in this horrible dream that he was gone forever.  It involved a friend of mine morphing into a crazed version of the woman who abused me.  I kept trying to hide, but no one could see the real woman.  Everyone thought she was the original friend and continued to give up my hiding spots, pushing me to my knees in front of her.  Since she knew I couldn’t hide from her, she would take coffee breaks with my friends, vacations with my friends – they could only see who they thought was my friend, not the bug-eyed, teeth clenched monster who was capable of causing my entire body to burn with pain just at the sight of her.  I kept struggling to get home to my kids, but whenever I would reach the boundary of this little city we were in, my friends would pop out from behind a wall with this monster in tow.  They laughed when I tried to resist her.  They gathered in crowds to laugh at my pain.  I don’t think they knew I was in pain.  Laughing, laughing, laughing.  It was of carnival horror proportions, complete with a broken mirror, spinning rooms and maniacal laughing.

I wondered today as I cried for my husband if this is what lies in store for me.  The hell that was my mind I have escaped before.  Am I that scarred that I’ve broken again?  I know I need to find a counselor again, but how do I even start that process?  When I used therapy before, both of the therapists just kind of landed in my lap.  It was nothing short of God providing a perfect path toward healing.  This time it’s different.  I know this is grief, but I hesitate to give in to that grief.  Any kind of healthy grieving I’ve done in the past has required the strong chest of my husband, with his strong arms tight around me.  Crying myself to sleep while cradled in his security.  Hearing his strong unwavering heart beat beneath my ear.  Listening to his billowing voice of comfort, telling me we can get through anything together, with Christ.

How do I operate without together?  I have Christ and Christ has me.  In my heart, I know I am nothing without His love.  His eternal love.  But today?  Today, my head is screaming for together.  We had become one, and now I’m just half.

Marriage Slippers

19 years ago I read an article in whatever magazine was sitting in the breakroom.  Jeremy and I were recently engaged, and this article was about the marital bedroom (I doubt it used those words – where am I, 1940?); my interest was piqued.

The author suggested only having things in your bedroom that pertained to your marriage.  No pictures of the kids, no refrigerator drawings, no decor from your college days or bachelor pad.  Beloved stuffed animals from your childhood?  Nope.  Pictures of you and your parents/friends/whoever?  Nada.  Pictures of the two of you with your favorite couple?  Negative.  Only things that specifically pertained to you as a married couple.

For whatever reason, this spoke to me as sound advice and I followed it for over 18 years of marriage (I say “I” because Jeremy had no part in decorating our home).  Our bedroom was our sanctuary.  Kids were not allowed to sleep in our bed, nor were they allowed to enter without invitation.  Even if the door was open, a knock and announcement of entry was required.  It was our favorite room, and we had a bedtime routine that we looked forward to every single day.  We knew that once we entered that room, we were safe to just be us.  Not Mom and Dad, not Employers, not Our Parents’ Children, or Our Siblings’ Siblings.  We were Jeremy and Michelle.  Husband and Wife.  Two Who Are One.

This article also addressed clothes being left on the floor, pantyhose (remember those?) hanging in the shower and clutter in general that accumulates in a bedroom.  How should you, as a loving spouse, react to these messes that will inevitably irritate the holy crap out of you?  Don’t.  Don’t react.  Don’t react?  Do.  Not.  React.

Um, whaaaat?

Q:  How in the hell do I make him pick up after himself deal with his mess?

A:  Pick it up and put it away for him.

Q:  I’m sorry, what??

A:  Yep.  Do it for him.  First, it will remove the irritating mess.  Second, it will be love shown.  Third, you will become a servant.  A servant of Christ.  Do not react.  Do not nag.  Do not beg or barter.  Do not yell.  Be his wife, not his mother telling him to clean his room.  Be who he wants to come home to at night.  Be who he thinks about all day.  Do not react.

Facebook showed me a memory from this day, one year ago.  It’s a picture of our cat Fiona sunbathing.  I noticed something in the picture that I hadn’t noticed before – Jeremy’s jeans wadded up next to his side of the bed.  One year ago, his jeans were wadded up next to his bed because one year ago JEREMY WAS STILL ALIVE.  His mess meant he was still present in this world, present as my husband, present as the kids’ dad, present as his sister’s brother, present as a friend.  He was present.  Here2015-10-13 14.59.27.  With me.  With us.

His bedside is uncharacteristically clean now.  There’s no water glass sweating all over his nightstand.  No piles of clothes.  No dirty dishes or empty beer bottles.  All that’s left are his slippers, reminding me of what once was.  I didn’t react.  I picked up his pile of clothes for the last time, without a peep of nagging.  God, thank you for giving me the gift of that article 19 years ago.  Thank you for acting through me to be a kind and loving wife.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.