Monthly Archives: June 2012

Life Goes On…Or So They Tell Me

The world turns and life goes on. I often find myself feeling sad or angry because the day passes and I have not heard Justin’s name or I find that I haven’t really thought about him that day. I suppose it isn’t really that strange, after all the world itself did not quit turning and people have their own lives to live. Rationally I understand that when a person dies the living do not stop living, even I have had to keep going with the same old routines.But it still makes me a little sad to think that someone who touched more lives than he knew could so quickly be replaced by everyday tasks. I suppose that nearly a year and half is not quickly, but it sure seems that way. I still miss his voice and the feel of his hands, I still miss his laugh and his quirkiness. I miss the way he could make people turn and give that look that says “what?” I miss the way he would start an argument just so he get somebody’s real opinion. I miss my grandma’s polite english accent and her disgusting liver patte. I miss my dad calling me at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning just because he had been up since 5a.m. But as they say life goes on, even mine. So I made a few changes.

Justin had talked about redoing the bathroom not long before he died, so last summer I threw myself into the project with reckless abandon. I charged my credit card up and up and I enlisted help from a neighbor and my sister and her husband. When the store I bought my first set of tiles from ran out I thought I would crack, but Jean’s husband John helped me out. He drove to Decatur and I drove to Bloomington and we both brought back tile. It was a little scary thinking I bit off more than I could chew. As with everything I have faced in my short life, I had the people and will power that I needed when I needed it. I can proudly (and with a big sigh of relief) say “We got it done”. I am very proud of that bathroom and every time I walk into I can hear Justin laughing and shaking his head at some of the obvious mistakes that were made. He was a bit of perfectionist at times. The work though is my own. It is the first project that I completed without him (even though it was something he wanted done) and I am very proud of myself for making it through. My bathroom was perfectly fine the way it was and truth be told I didn’t really have the money to redo it, I just felt compelled to work on it and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from finishing. Hmmm…sounds a lot like my student teaching, huh. I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could survive on my own. I finished the bathroom and it was as if I was saying “see, I can do this”. I was able to find and ask for help when I needed it, I was able to learn new things and it felt good. I can honestly say that I would rather have Justin here to do the work but at least I know now that I can do what needs done when it needs done.

You know as I sit here writing this I think maybe there was a higher force at work pushing me to redo the bathroom. Maybe it was God or maybe it was Justin, pushing me to work on something I thought I could never do just so I would have that “AHA!” moment. The truth is sometimes I need a little push and sometimes I need a giant smack upside the head. Either way I am learning that life does go on, no matter how painful it may seem at times, no matter how many times we stumble or fall down, we can get up and we can continue on down the road. I am also learning that it is okay to cry and it is okay to wish that the people we love could still be with us, it is okay to not be strong. It is okay to admit that often times we hurt and there is no real cure for that pain. I am learning that strength isn’t always about holding your I mean myself together so that I don’t trouble anyone else, sometimes its about accepting help and letting others take some of the burden from my shoulders. Sometimes it’s about sharing how much pain you really are in so that you can let go of the worst of it or get help to soothe it. I still struggle with this. For as long as I can remember I have felt that I needed to be strong (that is what my name means after all), I felt that I had to hold everything in because it wasn’t fair to burden others with my issues. The truth is everyone has moments when they need to unburden themselves. Me, I tend to do it by complaining about things that don’t really bother me. It’s easier to complain about that stuff (the garbage not being taken out, the laundry that finds its way into every nook and cranny of my house, dogs, cats, etc….). All of that is easier to say than I hate that I have to rely on other people to help me because the one person I want to be here to help me isn’t. It is easier to complain about my roommates or to them about the house work, rather than saying you have no idea how much I love you…but I wish Justin were here to help clean the house. It’s easier to say I feel used than it is to say I feel cheated because I didn’t get more time with my Justin, or make peace with my Dad or get to hear my grandma’s voice one last time. Those things are hard to say, even hard to write to myself let alone to the people i care about and who care about me. But I am learning. The bumps and mountains and other rough spots in my road often make me fall flat on my face, but I keep getting up and that’s all that really matters. I read a poster once that said “It isn’t the number of times we fall, but the number of times we get up that counts” I don’t remember who the author was but I think it’s true and as Justin used to say “you make your own….”

P.S. This summers project is the backyard. All my idea and coming along slowly but very nicely 😉

 

 

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A Note for Family and Friends

I know that during much of last year I was unreadable, bitchy, weird, and frequently untouchable. I did not want people touching me, I didn’t want to hear the I’m sorries and or be told that everything would be okay. I will not apologize for my feelings but I will say that I am sorry for any feelings I may have hurt. Grief does not always allow for thoughts of others, it is self consuming and blinding. I truly did appreciate everything that was given to me and everyone who helped me. Though at the time I could not express what I felt for those who did so much to help me through, I hope they know that I truly was grateful. I am still grateful today and try to be more aware of others, though I do not always succeed. 

What to do about life

So the funeral was over, the ashes safely home and now I had to figure out what came next. The truth is I didn’t want to know what came next. I wanted to bury my head under my pillow, pull the blankets up and never come out again. But I couldn’t. I had to get up everyday because I had to take care of my daughter. My daughter, beautiful, smart, and hurting just like me. The trouble was I didn’t know what to do to help her, I couldn’t even help myself. So I flung myself back into school. I was student teaching and I was damned if I wasn’t going to finish. I thoughtlessly pushed my daughter onto a babysitter and signed her up to ride the bus to and from pre-school. I felt horrible about it, but I had to finish school and nothing was going to stop me. I can’t really explain the need to finish, all I can say is that I felt if I put  school on pause I would die. I would just wallow in my bed, hope that the pain would kill me or just go away. But I couldn’t do that. I had to get up, had to take care of my baby girl even if I wasn’t sure how. So I did they only thing I could think of I held on to my student teaching with a death grip. My advisor did everything she could think to get me to change my mind. It seemed to me that she made everything twice as hard as necessary. She complained about things I couldn’t fix, made me start over and attempted to talk my cooperating teacher into having me leave the program. I felt she was being a complete and utter bitch. I couldn’t let her win, I had to prevail, I had to stay. I worked as hard as my confused and muddled brain would allow. My grandmother died that April but I kept going. I was numb, but I did laugh now and again so that people would know I was still alive. I kept working and working and I passed my student teaching with a grade of “C”. I was so angry! A “C”! I busted my butt to finish! She gave me a “C”. I had to accept it and move on. I haven’t had much luck finding a job with that grade, but at least I passed. I had made it and I wasn’t going to let that damned supervisor bring me down by giving me a “C”. I had done it despite her unhelpful manner of trying to help. I owe a lot to my cooperating teacher. She stood by me even at my worst and helped me through. In all honesty I may have deserved the “C”. I probably could have gotten a better grade if I had taken the break and started again in the fall. Again, I cannot explain the drive to finish, I just knew I had to finish no matter what. Over the summer I kept driving myself. I completed my masters thesis and dealt with another blow.

On June 25th, 2011 my Dad died. I had just begun to feel as though my head was above water and I was knocked under again. My husband, my grandmother, and now my father. Life had handed me a huge basket of lemons and absolutely no sugar to make lemonade. I didn’t know what to do. My brother, sister, and I planned the funeral and tried to deal with the aftermath. Life really sucked at that point. But I was still alive and I had to keep going. June and July passed and August rolled around. Time to plan my daughter’s 5th birthday party. Her first without her Daddy. I think it went okay, but I honestly don’t remember much of it. After awhile I realized that I needed help dealing with the emotions that I kept trying to stuff down. This was only resulting in bouts of anger and crying spats in the car. I had had a few weeks with a therapist as part of my being able to continue with school, but it obviously hadn’t been enough. I started Grief Share with my sister-in-law. I was a little nervous starting this with her, I wasn’t sure if I would be as honest with somebody I knew there with me. I felt that I had to be strong. I don’t know why, I had so many friends and family willing to stand by and help me out if I needed to be weak. If there was any time to be weak this was it! The Grief Share actually seemed to help. I looked forward to the weekly meetings, I looked forward to spending time with Tara and her family. I needed to hold on to my Justin and learn how to grieve for the loss of him and my father and grandmother. There were so many firsts that were so hard to get through. All of the holidays, Anastasia’s birthday, my birthday, Justin’s birthday, my dad’s birthday and my grandmother’s birthday. Then of course the first year anniversaries of their deaths. Still haven’t had my dad’s yet but it is only a few weeks away. My wedding anniversary was the hardest. The year before he died, Justin and I both forgot our anniversary. To realize that we would never have another chance to celebrate was devastating. But I made it through them all and I am still here. I am still trying to do the best I can with my daughter and I am still trying to figure out how to live without the other half of myself…I am beginning to think it might be possible, maybe.