Yep.

I still miss Mark.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Lately I’ve been thinking about him a lot.  I started watching “This Is Us” (I know, I am way behind on this bandwagon) and after seeing the MANY posts on facebook about people crying at every episode, I expected to be emotional.  Prior to Mark’s death I was a crier.  Since, it takes a LOT for me to cry.  It truly feels like my heart is frozen sometimes.  I don’t feel anything.  And THAT makes me sad.  I think maybe since I had this traumatic experience, everything else by comparison is really not that bad.  Either way, I am no longer a crier.

So I guess I wasn’t too surprised that after 16 episodes I hadn’t shed one tear.  Hadn’t even FELT like crying.  Sure, there were some sad things, but overall, nothing.  Then yesterday I got to episode 17.  Okay, feeling something.  Dad dies.  There it is.  Part of it was relating to my own situation, but the other part was the relationships with the husband and wife.  I could remember so much of how it was to be married.  And be in love.  And I was so sad knowing I don’t have that anymore.  And bottom line: I miss Mark.  I wish he was here.  Nothing new about that, but sometimes it just hits with such a yearning it is painful.  Even after almost 3 1/2 years.

So as I will the tears to go back into my eyeballs before I ruin my make-up for work today, it is just another reminder that no matter how much time has passed, I will always miss Mark.  And wish and wonder.

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Randomness

It’s been a while since I popped on here… it’s a very busy time of year.  B just turned 9 (how is that possible?!?!), baseball started (yes, seriously), we took a vacation to Mexico AND I started a new job!  It’s an always changing life, and we are all adjusting to these new changes.

Anyone who has gone through a traumatic life experience knows that grief is a long journey that doesn’t have a finish line.  Sometimes we don’t know what turns are around the corner.  Some days we see the grief ahead (holidays, anniversaries, etc), but even then we aren’t fully prepared for how we will feel.  By far, this is the most difficult part of this whole “grief thing.”  Never knowing how, where or when the grief will pop up.  Often times during unpredictable moments… like when you are at your daughter’s school basketball game and she scores a basket and you burst into tears because Mark isn’t here to see it, and you just KNOW that he would have loved to be.  Or when you’re working on the computer and your son comes down crying because “everybody at school has a dad, why don’t I?”  Those things you don’t see coming can knock you down, put you right back into grief, when you thought maybe you were doing okay.

But the thing is, you still ARE doing okay.  Because these moments are going to keep coming.  They will keep knocking you down when you don’t expect it.  But guess what?  I’ve decided I will keep getting up.  I will keep waking up each day and taking steps towards a future that I think can be beautiful and amazing.  I will keep hoping that I might have a chance for another someone special because I deserve to be happy again.  I will keep being both a mom and a dad for my kiddos because it’s the best I can do right now.  No, maybe we don’t have a daddy in our house, but we have a wonderful family.  And I love us.

Another Year…

So I just had another birthday… I am now 38… which means it is coming up on 3 years since Mark died.  That does not even seem possible.  It feels like if he walked in the door we could pick up right where we left off.  But I know that isn’t true.  Because as much as I didn’t want it to, everything has changed since that day in November 2013.  My kids are growing up… they are such different people than they were 3 years ago.  I often wonder what Mark would think about the kids.  If he’d be surprised by the things they like, the people they have become.  It’s an interesting perspective to think about them being frozen in time for Mark at ages 3, 5 and 7.  I wonder how they would be the same or different if Mark was here.  I think about all they have lost and all they could have gained with their dad here raising them with me.  It’s definitely not the life I planned, but I think he would be so proud of them.  They are kind and giving (most of the time 😉 ) and look out for each other and me.  The other day I was sick, got whatever the kids had been spreading around.  And E told me to go rest, that she would help get the boys in bed.  She was so sweet and it meant so much to me.  So maybe our family isn’t typical.  Maybe it isn’t the one I envisioned for our future.  But it’s a pretty darn good one and I love us.  Guess it’s onto the next year for our family, and right now, I’m excited to see what the future will bring…

Yet Again…

So I learned yesterday of the passing of one of my high school friends.  Married to her high school sweetheart, two little kids, one boy, one girl.  Got diagnosed with cancer and at 38 she is gone.  And all I can think about is her family.  Her parents, her husband and God, her children.  Remembering how I felt the day Mark died, the worst day of my life.  Realizing that people are going through that RIGHT NOW.  Feeling that anguish and pain.  The literal heart break.  People say it’s heartbreaking, but it’s just a word.  But it truly feels like your heart is breaking, the pain is almost physical it is so intense.

They are making arrangements for a funeral, looking through pictures for a slideshow (this is supposed to be therapeutic, but maybe it isn’t), dealing with the excess of phone calls, emails, facebook messages of people reaching out to express their condolences.  There is a husband realizing that he is a widower before 40.  That he will have to raise his kids without a mother.  And even though he may have known this was coming, he isn’t ready.  Because nothing in life prepares you for losing the other half of your whole.

So today, if you are so lucky to have your soulmate here on Earth with you, appreciate them, love them, give them a little tighter hug.  And please keep this family who has just had their entire world change in an instant in your prayers.

A picture

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  For me, a picture evokes a thousand emotions.  Especially pictures from right after Mark died.  This was one of the first pictures I took after he died.  Prior, I was a picture taking fool.  But in my zombie-like fog, taking pictures, or capturing any memories during the worst time of my life just seemed ludicrous.  But on this day, pictures were necessary.  It was the day my daughter turned 8.  Just 8 days after her dad died.  Our first “milestone” without daddy.  I look at this picture and all I can think is ‘these are three broken kids who have just lost their dad.’  Who knows what they were actually thinking.  It was still a pretty confusing time for all of us.  But this picture seems to somehow bring back every feeling I had during that time.  The fear, confusion, anxiety… it comes rushing back and this picture is difficult to look at.  And THAT makes me sad too.  She had already had her birthday party (thank goodness) but we had planned to go to a waterpark with my whole family (booked months prior) over her birthday weekend to celebrate.  This was one week after Mark died.  I did not want to go.  We left it up to the kids… yep, we’re going.

Without a doubt, it was the worst weekend ever.  I still wasn’t sleeping, I was in a serious fog, and everywhere I looked I saw kids with their dads and I couldn’t take it.  Taking 3 little ones to a water park without Mark’s eyes to help was overwhelming and just simply made me sad.  So then there is this picture:

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I don’t know who took it, but I can remember this moment.  I was holding in tears.  I was not a mom happy to be celebrating her daughter turning 8… EIGHT!  Such a big deal, but I couldn’t even feel a tiny bit of joy.  I was still completely broken into tiny little pieces of pain.  And so when it came time for her 9th birthday, I told her whatever you want… you deserve to have an amazing birthday.  She wondered why.  She had a great time at the waterpark and would love to go back (that is never going to happen).  Kids’ grief is so much different than adults’.  She was able to separate in that moment to enjoy her birthday apart from just having lost her dad.  For me it was all consuming for the first few months.  Looking back it’s pretty vague, and people will tell me things that happened that I truly do not recall.  I understand why people say not to make any important decisions or changes right away because you really are not of sound mind.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at pictures from that time and feel joy.  All I see is sadness and our first family memories without Mark.  I still have moments of thinking ‘is this really my life?’  Yep, it is.  And more and more I’m learning to embrace it.

I Miss Mark

Yeah, that hasn’t changed.  It still comes in waves, crashing down on me when I least expect it.  I recently became a leader for a local widowed social group.  We meet twice a month and just connect with other people who “get it.”  Because of a small glitch, our most recent meeting was not posted and so I figured it would be just me.  So as I’m sitting at the Panera reading my book, this man and his 11 or 12 year old son come sit at the table right next to me.  They are loud so I can’t help but notice them.  And as I’m sitting there watching them joke around and laugh I am overcome with sadness.  It hits me that my boys will NEVER have that.  They will never get to go out with just their dad and act goofy.  Oh God that hurts.  To my very core.  I hate knowing that my kids will one day be adults and say “I grew up without a dad.”

And it’s moments like that I wonder if I am doing the right thing by just being me.  Maybe I need to put more effort into meeting someone new.  Believe me, I SO miss the companionship that comes with being in a relationship.  But most of the time I am so busy and overwhelmed it gets pushed to the bottom of the list.  I want someone for myself but I also know that if that special person comes along, they may provide something for my kids that I can’t.  And then I get mad.  Mad that I have to be in this position in the first place.  Life was great, pretty much perfect really, and now it’s not at all how I’d imagined.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, blah blah blah.  But the truth is, I miss my old life.  I miss Mark and our family.  I miss waking up with a feeling of peace and comfort.  I miss having my other half, the person I could count on for anything.  I miss his smile and his laugh and the way that he loved me.  I hate that the kids and I are experiencing this life without him here by our sides.

So yeah, another day has gone by… one more without him here.  While most days it’s okay, today it just sucks.

Father’s Day

Here it is again.  Another Father’s Day.  For all the obvious reasons, this is a hard day for us.  My kiddos don’t have the most important dad here and I don’t have the father of my children here.  That part sucks.  But along with that comes a huge sense of gratefulness with the other important dads in our lives.

To start, we have Uncle Billy.  My brother-in-law and all around great guy.  He is NOT my kids dad, but he plays an important role and is such a great role model.  He takes the kids overnight (let’s them stay up too late), watches them all the time when my sister and I have plans, and of course is number one baseball coach of all time!!  We are SO SO lucky to have him in our lives.

And then there’s my dad.  What can I even say?  It doesn’t get much better.  Besides the obvious of building a house next door to me, he is always there if I need him.  And if he ever doesn’t want to help, I don’t know it because anytime I ask for help it’s answered with “of course.”  I never feel like I’m putting him out and he always helps with a smile on his face.  I mean what 63 year old grandpa does my 8 year-old ask me “can I go ask if grandpa can play?”  He plays baseball, he makes pancakes, he listens to uncle grandpa and wii all day long.  And we all know without a doubt how much he loves us.

Which brings us full circle.  The father of my kids.  My Marky.  On Father’s Day, we remember the father he was when he was here.  And boy oh boy, he was amazing.  Yeah yeah, we all think our kids’ fathers are awesome on Father’s Day, but he really was.  I think it was mainly because he was a big kid at heart himself.  He was definitely the “fun one” and always thought of fun and interesting things to do with the kids.  He was “hands on” and took care of our kiddos in such a special way.  Today especially I miss him.  I miss the way he snuggled with the kids, the bedtime stories that were way more fun than mine.  I miss looking at the kids sitting on his lap while watching TV and seeing them play on the beach or at the park or while out on a walk.  Nobody can understand the full impact of a loss like this until it happens to you.  You think you can, but you can’t.  And let me just say, be thankful.  Enjoy every moment with your dads.  We will enjoy our day with the special dads in our lives but  I know my kids would give anything to have another day with Mark.  Hug your dads a little tighter today and Happy Father’s Day to all the special guys out there!

Keys

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.     —Marcel Proust

Last week, Mark’s mom died.  As you might imagine this was extremely difficult for me.  It’s so hard for me to put into words just what she meant to me.  Besides just being a wonderful and kind person, she was my connection to Mark.  We had her wake and funeral this week and it was just surreal.  Not only is this our first “big” death since Mark, but it’s also someone who was an important part of our family.  So yesterday while making plans with Mark’s brother to come see if there is anything from her house that I wanted for me or the kids, I realized I still have keys to her condo.  They were keys that were always on Mark’s key ring.  After he died, I kept them.  Never once did I use them, there was never any need.  But when I took them out of the drawer yesterday and held them in my hand for the first time in years, I was overcome with sadness.  Somehow, these keys, the keys to Nancy’s house, knowing I would be turning them over, somehow represented another HUGE loss for me.

These keys are a symbol.  A perfect metaphor for what will be missing from here on out.  Nancy was a key to my connection with Mark.  We had a special relationship, one where I could be open and share with her.  She was one of the only people who would still talk to me about Mark, often.  She had so many stories for me and the kids to keep him alive for us.  And now that she’s gone, so are they.  All these special moments vanished with her passing.  Moments that existed at one time, never to be remembered again.  Mark loved her so much, and so did I.  We were so lucky to have her in our lives, even when things were difficult.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always perfect.  But never once did I doubt what the kids and I meant to her, even after Mark was gone.  If I could say one thing to her it would be thank you.  Thank you for loving me and Mark and our kids.  Thank you for always trying and for always thinking of others.  We always said “I love you” but I don’t know if I ever really told her how much I appreciated her.  I truly hope she knew.

Please say a prayer for me and the kids.  This has been a really tough loss for us.  The biggest thing that brings us comfort is knowing that Mark has his mom once again.  That’s exactly how she would have wanted it.

Crazy Times

So another month has gone by in the blink of an eye.  Baseball season is in full swing (4 games this weekend between the 3 boys and back there again tonight!) and E is still dancing almost every day.  My parents are on vacation and life as usual is crazy!  On top of it, I am team mom for 2 teams, team mom league rep for the tee ball teams AND running a performance at the kids school.  That last one has been a TON of work, but the show is Friday and I know it is going to be amazing.  With almost 100 kids, it should be awesome!!

On top of all that, it’s the end of the school year, which means finishing up projects, E is going to the district spelling bee which means more spelling practice, and well, the list goes on and on.  Yesterday as I was standing at the stove making dinner (mac and cheese, that’s all I had in me!) I just lost it.  Nothing happened (other than just a crazy, overwhelmingly busy weekend). Just thought how much easier this all would be if Mark was here.  What I wanted to do was get in my car and drive away from the whining, fighting kids.  And if he was here, I could have at least had a few minutes to get myself together.  Not an option anymore.  Gotta barrel through.  Not that I don’t ever get a break, I do.  But sometimes, the times when I REALLY need a break, it’s not an option.  I HAVE to deal because there’s no one else here to “take over.”  Some days, like yesterday, I really wish there was another person here with me… okay, not another person.  Mark.  And that sucks too.

Okay, pity party is over.  Back to pushing through.  Being grateful.  Yeah, I know I have lots to be thankful for, and I am.  Truly.  But some days I just wanna whine and kick and scream because like E told me the other night, “it’s just not fair.”  Nope, it’s not.

Life Gets in the Way

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I’ve popped on here.  So much has happened, and maybe that’s why I haven’t been around.  I had a total impromptu trip to Tampa for another “Camp Widow”… which was even better than the last.  I am certain that it sounds totally strange to “outsiders” but it is such a wonderful place where I can go to connect with “my people.”  They GET it, because they’ve been through it.  While the support of my family and friends is essential, this is equally important.  I spent 4 days with people I just met but felt like I’ve known forever.  I created friendships and a new support system.  I am SO thankful for these people that have been put into my path to help me along my journey.  I know they are part of my healing.

And with that, baseball season is upon us.  So I will most likely not be around much.  B is back with part-time travel and in-house, which equates to at least 4 days a week, and S is starting Bobcats baseball this year too, so he will be 2 days a week as well (and I’m his Team Mom!)  E is still in her dance classes 5 days a week and I am running a production at the kids’ school… so to say things are busy is an understatement.  And on top of this, I decide now is the time for me to ACTUALLY get out into the dating world.  I know I am going to have to force myself because while I am hopeful it could be fun, I am anticipating some discomfort initially.  It’s all part of a learning curve, right?  And maybe I’ll have some interesting experiences to share 😉