So just like that I have sold my house. I told E tonight that I think Daddy helped us sell our house so fast. I was wearing his wedding band on my necklace the night of the showing. Before I let them in the house, I touched the necklace and asked for Mark’s help if they were supposed to be the people to buy the house. The next morning their realtor called letting me know they would be submitting an offer that night. It really does feel like Mark helped us out on this one. I want the signs. I want Mark to “show” me that he is still around. That he is here looking out for me and the kids. I haven’t had that “feeling” until the offer came through. Like somehow he was pulling strings up in Heaven to make sure things went in our favor. It brought me comfort.
So now it really begins. Packing up almost 9 years of my life. We moved into this house a family of 2. We lived in this house as a family of 5. We are leaving as a family of 4. I hate that. But with all the bad feelings, this feels good. This feels right. It feels like the right time. It’s not a time of crisis anymore. I am thinking with a (somewhat) clearer mind. And while my decision hasn’t changed, it is nice to know it still feels right. Because so many other decisions seem unclear. But somehow we are muddling through…. one day at a time…
oooh… and check out the progress on the new house… started framing last Friday!
So I got an offer on the house. One showing and they put in a VERY good offer. So I have pretty much sold my house, barring any future complications. I should be elated, thrilled… and I am in a way. I am SO thankful I won’t have to get the house “ready” and get rid of the kids for a day or two. I won’t have to list and pay 5% to a realtor. And from the beginning I knew I didn’t want to stay in this house. A huge part of it is just all the memories I have here. Sadly, it’s not even the good ones, but the bad ones. That day and every detail of it just stand out in my mind. Where we were for the last conversation, the last time I saw him… sleeping in this bed. I know changing it won’t erase it. But it won’t be a constant reminder in my face day in and day out. Some of the physical changes I have already made in the house have made a difference. But I need a REAL change. A fresh start for me and for the kids. I know it will be hard to leave since all of the kids memories so far have been made in this house. And it is so hard to be happy. Because I think about how I should be building this house with Mark. And arguing about cabinet colors. And deciding which couches to put where. But instead I’m making all the decisions (thankful for mom who is happy to help!) It is not at all how I expected my first time building a house to be. Or really anything about my future. Not that it can’t be good. And not that I don’t have moments of excitement. But a lot of it is sadness. Recognizing what Mark is missing… what feels like starting this new life without him. I don’t want a new life. I want my old life. The one where I have someone to argue with over stupid things like cabinet colors. You would think I would find enjoyment out of doing things exactly how I want them done, and in a way I do. But mostly I just think about what Mark would say… and well, then I do it my way. Because now I make decisions for me and the kids without his input. I try to be both mom and dad but it’s exhausting. I work at being my laid back and fun because that was his role. It’s hard to be both the fun one and the parent who has to enforce the rules. Ah now I’ve gone off on a tangent… it’s getting late and I am certain I will have a little boy in my face tomorrow morning at 5:30 saying, “I love you mom”… so off to bed for now… more “Deep Thoughts” tomorrow….
So putting the house up for sale (by owner) and had my first showing tonight! A young couple buying their first house. It is always awkward (in my head at least) with the choice of pronouns I use. Of course everything is “we” because this is OUR house. Not my house. Not “I” had the fence put in in 2011. We did this. We built this life together, in this house. I was thankful there were no questions. I’m not sure how I would have answered. This is how I go about life. Wondering what pronouns to use. Are they “my kids” or “our kids”? Is it “I” or “we”? I know the time is going to come when someone will ask. I should probably prepare an answer. But I’m not even sure what I would say. Probably just that my husband recently passed away. I know it is confusing, because I still wear my wedding rings. I just don’t feel like taking them off yet. I know at some point I will need to decide what I want to do… I know I won’t wear them forever. Maybe it’s denial. Maybe it’s my way of holding on to Mark. Will it always be this hard? Will I always overthink my words… speak of Mark in present tense when it should be past?
When I was in grad school, my thesis topic was about language and its impact (it was related to how we speak about people with disabilities)… For example, “A man who uses a wheelchair” vs. “wheelchair bound”… they mean the same thing, but the first one makes it ONE part of that man’s identity, the second makes the wheelchair his whole identity. The words we choose have a huge impact on the message we send. I think about this a lot when I think about the phrase “committed suicide.” At one time, it was a crime, to be committed. It is no longer the case. We have learned more about the human brain and know that in 90% of cases, suicide results from mental illness. So I make an effort to say, “he died by suicide” because it seems more fitting. It wasn’t a choice. Because I know HE would never make such a “choice.” It wasn’t a decision. And anyone who says it is a cowards way out has never imagined what amount of pain would cause someone who had everything to step in front of a train.
So if when we’re talking, and I seem spacey or take a little too long of a pause… it’s probably because I am thinking… and choosing… to make sure I say the right words.
So, it’s been a few days. Busy weekend around here. Good but Mark was definitely missed this weekend. Friday night marked E’s 3rd Variety Show at school. She and our neighbor (1st grader) sang “Let It Go” dressed as Anna and Elsa from Frozen. They were adorable. I could just see Mark telling her how beautiful she looked and giving her a big hug when she was done. Then it was B’s opening day parade for Baseball. He’s on the Tigers and his Uncle and Grandpa are the coaches. He put on his little uniform (he’s the cutest thing ever) and was so proud to walk in the parade with his team. Mark would have stayed after and pitched to him on the field. Made him run some bases and played tag with him at the park. Of course ‘S’ was up early this morning, 5:30am to be exact. Mark would roll of and say “Okay, let’s go…what do you want for breakfast?” He’d make ‘S’ some waffles or toast then put on a show and fall asleep on the couch downstairs so I could sleep in.
It didn’t go that way at all. But it wasn’t bad. It was just different. Instead of Mark, cousins, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles were there. For all of it. I have really noticed how much the kids (the boys especially) seek out their uncles and grandpas. I think they miss that male connection. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I am so thankful for the amazing people in our lives. It doesn’t take away the pain… it doesn’t make us miss Mark any less… but it definitely brings comfort. Knowing we have all these people looking out for us. Not only helping, but more than anything else feeling emotionally supported. Just gotta get through this new life one crazy jam-packed weekend at a time…
“What’s the point?” I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve watched on and off for years, so I pretty much have the story line down. Christina is hard core and the best surgeon. She never makes a mistake and does everything by the book. In this episode, her patient, a young girl, dies. Another doctor goes to reassure her she had done everything and made the right decisions. Did everything right. She says “I know, I did everything right” But it didn’t matter. So what’s the point?
This is how I feel. I have always lived my life by the book. I have done “everything right.” I am a good person. I follow the rules. I try to be generous and kind. Helpful and encouraging. But it didn’t matter. I still had this horrible thing happen. And sometimes I do think, what is the point? Sometimes I just don’t care. It just doesn’t really seem to matter as much anymore. I have said since the beginning that Mark took part of me with him that day. And it’s true. Because I will NEVER be the same person again. In a lot of ways, I was so naive. I truly believed that if I was a good person, good things would happen for me. I always believed if I “put good things out there” I would get good things in return. I’m not going to stop being “good” but I hate that that part of me is gone. And I have to face the harsh reality of life and death, no matter who I am.
One of the strangest things about when a person passes away suddenly & unexpectedly is what is left behind. I mean physically. When I went to finish the laundry that day and his clothes were still there (I don’t really remember what I did with them, but I do remember throwing out a pair of boxers and socks because I just couldn’t look at them). His toothbrush was left on the counter in the bathroom (that went in the garbage too). One of the harder things was seeing his car in the garage every day. I gave that away about 2 weeks after. I cleaned out his nightstand probably about a month after (and was pleasantly surprised to find a bag of letters and cards I had sent/given him over the years). I got to his closet about 2 months after (I felt like it was too confusing for the kids to keep all his stuff in the house… it felt too much like he could come back, why else would I keep it?)
But it is so strange the little things I am unable to “get rid of”… His bathroom bag and glasses. His deodorant (when I smell it, it makes me think of him). I can’t delete his stupid shows from my DVR season pass even though I just go through and delete them all. I can’t get rid of his bookmarks on the toolbar… his school website, ESPN… they are all still up there even though I never use them. I guess in some ways it feels like if I delete them, I’m somehow erasing him. I still struggle with knowing he is not coming back. I know it’s been almost 6 months. But it is so hard to explain this weird feeling like he could show up any minute. It’s like my brain will not let me believe it’s true. Because it is so unbelievable. This thing doesn’t happen to people I know and certainly not to ME. But nobody is immune to the shortness of life and it’s immeasurable pain. I’m proof of that.
I love music. I truly appreciate a thoughtful lyric. When I listen, I like to pay attention and think about what it means and how the person singing was feeling when they wrote it. Even if it’s not the same, I sometimes will hear things that means something and I can relate it to how I’m feeling. One of my favorite albums is Ben Folds “Songs for Silverman.” It is an easy go-to CD in my car when I don’t want to think too hard and just want to relax. I always start at track 1… so many times I will switch out the CD before I get to track 11. But the other day, I got through to track 10. It is called “Time.” I could easily have started sobbing. It really just struck something within me.
“In your head, move the pieces round
Things I’ve said, turn the memory upside down
It might make it better, I know
But sometimes it’s hard to swallow
In time I will fade away
In time I won’t care what you say
And in time, but time takes time you know.”
I do move the pieces around… trying to make it all “fit”… and it just doesn’t. No matter how I turn it or re-frame it, it still doesn’t make sense. And I hate the line, “In time I will fade away”… I don’t want him to fade away. And in some ways I feel like it’s already happening. I want it to be like it was, even though that will never be. The kids and I keep a notebook where we write down our favorite memories when we think of them. We tell stories and talk about memories with daddy daily. I WANT to keep him alive. I don’t want him to fade away. Ever. The thought of that kills me. I know he’s gone, and I hate that we are moving on without him. I don’t feel guilty. I just feel so sad about how much he is missing out on. I will do whatever I need to do for my kids to be happy and get through this. I think so far we are on the right track. I just want to make sure they know they can always talk about daddy. He doesn’t have to fade away. We won’t let him.
Been a rough few days. ‘E’ came home from school yesterday with what I think was a migraine (terrible headache and vomiting). Slept from after school until pretty much this morning… home today from school and seeing the doctor at 2pm. Went yesterday and approved the headstone… when I went originally there was one part that needed to be changed, it just wasn’t right. Now it feels perfect. Next up is planning a small ceremony at the cemetery. I hope it works out the way I want it to.
Other than that, not a whole lot is new here. Things have been better since I last wrote. But that’s just how it is. It comes and goes. And you never know when it will hit or why. We’re coming up on 6 months, which makes me so sad. Knowing it’s been that long since I had Mark. I still think about a lot of the same things. That morning, the night before… thinking about if I somehow missed something. But each time I come up with the same thing. It was gonna happen this way no matter what.
It got me thinking how close Mark had come to dying in the past year. In 2012 Mark was hospitalized when he choked on a piece of chicken. He honestly could have died… it was lodged and I’m not sure I would have been able to do the hemlich to save him. He was able to get it past his airway but not down his esophagus, and ended up having it surgically removed. Then of course he ran the Boston Marathon in 2013. He ran just a few feet away from a bomb. Had the timing been a little different… I just feel like he had cheated death many times (even before that past year) and it was gonna happen and nothing I could have said or done was going to stop it. Maybe it’s my way of coping, or accepting. No matter when or why or how, the end result is the same. This amazing, kind, funny, sweet, and special human being is gone. And we are all left in the wake to figure out how to go on…
You don’t truly know how it feels to have your heart break until you have a child who has lost their daddy. I expected Christmas to be hard. Seeing as Easter has never been a “big” holiday for us, I wasn’t expecting it today. I know we all missed Mark. ‘E’ and I both had counseling appointments today (mine was pretty emotional) so it was simmering. It was a fun day at my sister’s running, playing, laughing. Home for quick baths and right to bed. But of course tradition is the kids write a note to the Easter bunny and leave out carrots. The kids start, then ‘E’ leaves to go work on hers at the other table and I help ‘B’ spell the rest of his note. Time to lay them out and go to sleep. Then I see her note. “Dear Easter Bunny, I don’t want anything this year. I just want my dad back. I love him so so so so much. I wish I could have him back. I hope you understand. That’s all I want this year. Love, ‘E'”
This lead to many tears on both ends. She tells me she feels like nobody else cares that daddy is gone (her friends at school, etc). She just wants to give him a hug. She’s just so sad, and just sobbing. It reminds me of my reaction to when I went to see Mark’s body. I haven’t had that kind of crying since then (thank God, I don’t know if I could handle it).
And now I know. As heartbroken as I am for myself, seeing my kids in pain is worse. And in such a mature way she says, “it’s just so hard at the holidays.” I laid with her and snuggled her for 1/2 hour til she was on the verge of sleep. Now she’s asleep, but I’m left here worrying. Wondering how they are going to grow up “okay” without a dad. And if I am going to be enough. Hoping somehow I can be, because I have to be, right? What’s the alternative? I know I have enough love for them, but it will never replace the love of their daddy.
It’s so hard to explain to people just how sad we are. Of course there is the obvious that we just miss Mark, the awesome husband and dad and fun guy. But it’s so much more than that. The kids lost their sense of security and innocence. They know first hand just how unfair life can be. I wish I could take every ounce of their pain away. I would take it on myself in an instant. But that’s just not possible. This is all part of the healing process and as hard as it is, it’s a necessary part of getting through it. And I hate that.
Appreciate it now. The hugs, the smiles, the “I Love Yous”… all the big and little things that people do every day that we don’t even notice anymore. Thank people. Tell them you appreciate them. If they’ve done something nice, tell them. If they’ve done a good job, let them know you noticed. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Mark and appreciated everything he did for me and the kids. And I would often tell him. How lucky we were to have him. What a great dad and husband he was. But more than that, I have been making an effort to do this NOW with everyone. I sent an email to ‘E’s dance studio owner telling him what a great job I think her ballet teacher has done with her this year. I told the manager at the restaurant how fabulous our server was. The thing that always gets me is the surprised look on their faces. I think they are so used to complaints, they forget what it feels like to be complimented.
I have found that when a tragedy happens, so many people step up. And do things you never imagined. I could never possibly list all of the amazing things people have done for me and my family. Making meals, sending cards (or emails or texts), giving me hugs, and the donations… holy moly. I have never known such generosity, a lot of it from total strangers. All of that money has been put into college funds for the kids, as I know that is what Mark would have chosen. All of this support has been something that has definitely helped with the healing process. Knowing there are so many people out there in our corner. People who will help, whether it’s driving the kids somewhere, or just talking when I need someone to listen. For every person who’s done something kind for us, I APPRECIATE YOU.