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 😉

 

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This Sucks

Sorry, but sometimes I just gotta say it.  Mark’s death just totally sucks.  There are so many things about it… ripples that will never stop in this ocean of grief.  Last night ‘S’ told me he misses daddy.  I know him having this “dad’s night” this week has him thinking more about Mark.  He asks me “when can I go to counseling and see daddy?”  Um, what?!  I respond, “no honey, you can go to counseling to TALK about daddy but you don’t get to see him because he died.”  He moves on quickly to something else about counseling, but I am left with another puncture to my heart.  Even after all this time he thinks he might get to see him again.  If only that were possible.

This followed by some messaging with a friend who is getting married this year.  It didn’t dawn on me until she gave me some details that I would be going to a wedding!!  Without Mark, or a date.  A wedding.  Oh boy, here come the tears.  Clearly it’s an emotional day.  Can I go to a wedding without breaking down?  The thought is definitely concerning.  But of course I want to be there.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s one of those days.  Thankfully they are less and less and I guess it wouldn’t be life if losing someone you love didn’t hurt.

 

 

February Ramblings

So another month has passed… January came and went, and with it my son ‘B’ turned 8.  Another birthday without Mark… more memories made as a family of four.  I had a moment last month when I was pulling into the garage.  It felt like I was in a dream.  This isn’t my house, this isn’t my life.  I still feel I could so easily go back to the way it was.  Sure there are great things about the life I have now, but it’s not the way I pictured it would be.  And it isn’t what I planned.  I don’t let myself think too often about the fact that my kids are growing up without a dad and how that may impact them, because it is simply just too painful.  I know they are all different because of it, but I wish they weren’t.

The other day ‘S’ came home with a form for Kindergarten Dad’s night (it is seriously called this)… I can’t believe that we are the only ones without a “dad” in their lives.  In their defense, it did say “bring your dad or special guy”… but it’s tough getting these forms.  He asked his uncle, who is more than happy to go with him.  And just last night, he was asking when it was, and was calling it the “dad’s night”… then promptly said “but my daddy can’t go because he died.”  Talk about breaking your heart.  He just says it to matter of fact.  He was only 3 when Mark died; it is so painful that he doesn’t really remember him.

Even the other night, my daughter ‘E’ (who is now 10) said “I don’t really remember daddy.”  Sometimes it just feels like he is fading… and I try so hard to bring him back.  But at the same time, we HAVE to move forward.  We don’t get to live a life with him in it, so we have to figure out a way to balance remembering and moving forward.  Sometimes it is harder than others.  I’ve just missed him so much lately.  I know that won’t ever change.  Even with that, I am still very much looking forward to the day I can meet someone new, to bring some love back to my life.  I was so lucky for so long to have someone like Mark love me and I hope and pray I am lucky enough for it to happen again.

Reflections

So as 2015 comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  It was almost a year ago when the idea of dating didn’t seem totally repulsive.  I even went on some online sites (free ones) and well, here I am, almost a year later, never having actually gone on one single date since then.  To be honest, I didn’t put in a lot of effort.  It was more just adjusting to the THOUGHT of actually going on a date with someone other than Mark.  So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why this is such a scary thought.  And here is what I figured out…

So, after I had ‘E’ I was in love.  Those of you with kids know what I’m talking about.  Not something you can even put into words, right?  We always knew that we would give her a sibling at some point.  2 years later, B came along.  I will never forget before going to the hospital to have him, sobbing.  Worrying how would I split my love between 2 kids?  Not possible!  I felt so guilty for bringing another baby into our lives, as if this would be taking something away from E.  You all know how that ended!

And you’d think after learning this lesson once before I would not feel this way after getting pregnant a 3rd time.  NOPE!  I imagined that E & B would have less of me since I now had to split my love for another child.  I remember looking through pictures a few days after S was born, and I came to a picture of me holding B holding S (he was only 2 1/2 after all!) and in the picture, B is looking up at me, and I’m looking down at my two boys.  I started bawling… thinking B was looking at me thinking “are you still going to love me as much?”  True story.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  Get to the point.  The point is, every time my heart needed to, it was able to expand and love, even when I didn’t know if it could.  This is what I’m hoping will happen at the right time with the right person.  I can’t imagine loving someone as much as I love Mark.  Because, just to be clear, I. Still. Love. Mark.  That will not change.  And that’s okay, because based on my past experience, I know that I will be able to make room for someone new when the time is right.  And I feel hopeful.  And I am making a commitment that in 2016 I will go on a date.  I don’t know when or with whom.  (Just as a sidenote, this is a terrifying thought… but that’s another blog post.)  After over 2 years solo, I’m ready to have someone to spend time with.  Give myself part of ME back.  And as I’m sitting here typing, the song “For Good” comes on, which always makes me think of Mark.  And I know he is with me… guiding me in my choices and decisions… and I know he’d approve of this one.

December already?

So it’s here, again… December.  It’s horrible because it used to be my favorite time of the year.  I was one of those people who loved that 93.9 started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween.  The first Christmas after Mark died I really don’t remember.  I know my parents were living with me at the time, but honestly it is erased.  My brain was still in trauma mode and we got through it, but it wasn’t “real.”  I feel like last year was our real “first” Christmas without Mark.  New house, new life, no daddy on Christmas morning.  I made plans to leave on Christmas day to take the kids downtown because I was “running away” from being sad on that day.  And here we are, our 3rd Christmas without Mark.  It’s just as hard as the first two.  I am dreading it… and I hate that.  Another thing that’s been taken away from me, my love of the holidays.  I know, I know.  It’s a choice.  I will decide to be happy that day, but sometimes I don’t want to decide, sometimes I wish I just felt it, honestly and truly.  Will it always be this hard?  I will never stop missing Mark, after 2 years I’ve learned that.  How can we find new joy?  Will life ever feel “easy” again?  Don’t get me wrong, we have moments of try joy.  The other day the kids and I started busting a move in the kitchen, laughing so hard, I actually paused and thought, when was the last time we did this, had this feeling?  It felt different, real.  I’ve thought a lot about why the holidays are so hard.  For me, it’s not about family, because year-round we are about family.  It’s remembering the amazing memories we made with Mark, realizing that not another memory with him will ever be made again.  And it’s devastating, because he was a great memory maker.

Thankful

So after a total breakdown last week (hey, they happen!) I’m once again on the upswing of this roller coaster ride.  Still, as always, missing Mark, but feeling thankful for every precious moment I’m given.  See, the thing is, I’ve always been a thankful person.  Mark and I would always talk about how lucky we were, roof over our heads, healthy kids, food on our table, etc.  But if it’s possible, I appreciate everything even MORE now.  Because unfortunately, I know how quickly it can all be taken away.  One day you are sitting on the couch talking, the next morning there’s a police officer in that same room telling you your husband is dead.  To say life has changed is an understatement.  I am living a completely different life.  So I guess it’s no surprise that I may seem like a completely different person.  Because in a lot of ways I am.  Not only is my day to day different, but my core, who I am, is different.  The way I think is different.  Because my whole understanding of the world has changed.  Before Mark died, I never really thought anything bad could ever happen to me.  Okay, more than bad, devastating, life-altering… and now that it has, I fear that it can happen again.  So I don’t talk about doing… I do.  Because Mark and I talked about “doing” a lot of things that we never ended up doing because he’s gone.  I am not big on making far-out future plans now, because it  seems scary.  Not that I don’t have any, still have plans to see Europe one of these days… and of course saving for college, etc.  But the year, 5 year, 10 year plans are just sort of floating out there… I don’t think about what it might be like because I’ve done that before, and it is painful when that gets erased.

I realize this is just rambling… no point here, just getting one more post in before the big Thanksgiving holiday.  Which brings me back to where I started… being thankful.  This holiday I am thankful for my parents.  Without them I would not be able to survive.  They help me with the kids, they help me emotionally when I am sad, they frickin built a house next door to make this transition to a new life easier.  My mom helps with homework and my dad plays football at the bus stop.  I am thankful for my sister S and her 2 kids who are an extension of my family.  She is always there to talk and help me reflect in ways that are sometimes uncomfortable.  She is also there to have a drink with and take vacations with and act goofy with.  Her kids are basically a big brother and sister to my kids and their love gives comfort to us.  I am thankful for my sister S and her husband B and their 3 kids.  She told me when Mark died that my kids were her kids now, and she has helped so much with driving, picking up, watching them so I could take one to the doctor.  And my brother-in-law has been an amazing support to them, doing “boy stuff” with the boys and always helping out whenever I ask.  And of course coaching B at baseball!  And the kids are E & B’s best friends.  The girls make up dances and my teenage niece watches the kids for me.  And B & V don’t even know they are cousins, they are just best friends.  On top of that, I have some pretty amazing friends (you know who you are) who still
“check in” on me occasionally.  I’m looking forward to a social life again after the holidays 🙂

So Happy Thanksgiving!!  If you are reading this blog, I am thankful for you.  You have continued to support me and continued to talk about Mark, which is such a huge comfort.  As always we will miss Mark this Thanksgiving, but very slowly the memories are shifting from making us sad to making us happy… hopefully it will continue through this holiday season.

 

The Truth About Mark Reilly

With it coming up on 2 years since Mark died, obviously he’s been on my mind more than usual lately. I know may of you may remember my thoughts shortly after he died about taking out a full page newspaper article to tell everyone the truth. Because it seems like such a salacious story. Everyone was talking about it anyways. I heard so many things that hurt, other things that were just so off the wall I couldn’t believe people thought they were true. Overall, I felt I needed to explain, because SO many people expected me to have the answers. So here goes.

The truth about Mark Reilly is that he really was the person everyone thought he was. He was (insert 20 minute break where I think about how to finish this sentence) my everything. Like any other married couple, we had our moments, but 95% of the time it was ideal. We were happy. He loved being a dad. If anyone was made to be a dad, it was Mark. He was so much fun and goofy and the kids loved it. He was the hardest working person I know and always wanted what was best for us.

The days leading up to his suicide were like any other days of any other week. Nothing at all out of the ordinary. At no time in my life with Mark would I ever use the word “depressed” to describe him. Life was good. Better than times past. We were finally at a place of financial comfort and we were out of the “baby stage” as ‘S’ was finally in preschool. The day Mark died (and the days and weeks that followed) the feeling of shock people in the community felt were equal to my shock. It is still, after 2 years, something that will never make sense, it will never fit.

For two years I have worked hard to come to a place of acceptance that I won’t know why. I don’t get to know. I won’t ever have the answers. And some days that is easier than others. Somedays it doesn’t matter how he died, other days it seems important. If I’ve learned anything over the past 2 years, it’s that my grief is unpredictable. It doesn’t usually give me a heads up when it’s going to take over my thoughts. But I know now that I will ride the waves of sadness until they pass and the sunlight shines again.

So the truth is, that as scary as this may be, suicide can impact any of us. And if you’re reading this blog, maybe it has. NEVER in a million years would I have guessed that this would be my life. Mark would have been the last person I would have thought to die by suicide. I will continue to hope for people to let go of this preconceived notion of what suicide means. Take away the stigma and accept it for what is it, the result of a disease. I don’t fault people for their thoughts, as open-minded as I am, I’m pretty sure my view on suicide has changed since my experience. I hope yours does too.

*** If you are interested in showing support to me and the kids on Sunday, feel free to take a walk or run and send me a picture. If you are inclined, you can pledge $1 per minute you walk/run to donate to projectsemicolon.org. Please comment below if you donate so I can calculate the total donated in Mark’s name. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for every big and little thing you have done for me and the kids these past 2 years. We wouldn’t have survived without you.***

Thankful

Today I am feeling thankful.  It was a crazy busy day.  Straight from work I needed to go to the eye doctor to get S’s glasses fixed (thank goodness I got the warranty!) and have them adjust E’s glasses.  Since we were in a crunch, I took the kids out to dinner (something we don’t do often).  We really needed to get some groceries and I didn’t want to go there hungry.  The kids were hopped up on blue raspberry slushies and the grocery store experience was less than ideal.  So much so that on the way home I decided the consequence for the bad behavior would be straight to bed for the boys (this was about an hour earlier than normal bedtime).  E had dance and I had laundry.  There were tears and lots of “you’re so mean”… like LOTS of it.  But I stuck to my guns and they eventually went to sleep (and even said “I love you” before bed)…

All that to say, that even with my somewhat crappy, annoying day, I am still thankful.  I miss Mark more than ever but I AM HERE.  And I am so happy to have the hugs and kisses and heck, even the kung fu fighting in the middle of the super target.  Because this is my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have a job, I have a house, I have food on the table.  I have three healthy children and awesome parents and sisters.  And even though I don’t have Mark anymore, I have so much because of him.  Not only the kids (obviously) but the person I am is because of him… all of it.  Who I was before and who I am now.  I so wish he could be here for the good and certainly for the bad (I would have gladly “tagged him in” tonight!)  But I must be doing something right because I said to the kids “it’s not easy being the fun mom and the mom who has to enforce the rules.”  They said “you are more fun.”  That is progress.

As exhausted  as I feel today, I am still able to recognize this feeling inside.  I accomplished something today.  A baby step in raising these kids on my own.  B did comment tonight that he wants a stepdad so I don’t have to be both.  Somedays I wish I had someone here too.  Taking that day by day and praying that Mark will help make that happen when it’s supposed to happen.  Until then, I am content being mom, enjoying every snuggle while they still want them.

And….. I’m back!

So it’s been a while… I unexpectedly got a great opportunity to cover a maternity leave in a HS guidance office and I couldn’t pass it up. To say it’s been an adjustment becoming a full-time working mom is an understatement. I am so thankful for this job and I am loving being back at work, but at the same time it has been a little overwhelming to manage it all. I am lucky that the hours for the job are AMAZING and I only need my parents to watch the kids for about an hour each day. I think it’s been really good for me and the pros far outweigh the cons. Anyways, on top of kids starting 4th, 2nd and Kindergarten, it’s been a busy, busy time around here.

So by 7:30 when the boys should be in bed, I am ready to start my “down” time. So when both boys walked in just as I sat on my bed I was a bit exasperated. ‘B’ says, “S was shaking the calming jar {which they made in counseling} and it made me think of daddy and now I miss daddy.” ‘S’ has also been talking about him more and more, asking more questions and starting to want to understand what happened. I knew this day would come, but I guess I thought I would be more prepared to deal with it. They ask me these heartbreaking questions, “can daddy come back, just for one day?” “when I think of sadness, I think of daddy.” “why don’t the people on the train have to go to jail?” This goes on for about 10 minutes before I feel it’s time to turn it around and get them settled before going back to bed. We tell a fun memory of daddy (‘S’ says, “I don’t remember playing at the park with daddy” once again breaking my heart) and I tell them I’m going to shower and they need to go to sleep.

So now, after a sob session in the shower, I am left here with a heavy heart. Wishing I could take away this pain and let them go back to being my little 5 and 7 year old boys who don’t know about people dying “on purpose.” Who don’t have to see their mom cry every time they talk about missing daddy. Because I miss him too. I know that in these moments if he could have seen this he would have reconsidered (or is that even possible in the irrational mind?) I guess the Mark I know would have. And that is what makes this so difficult.

So I could use some prayers tonight. For me and the kids. I just want them to know it is not their fault and that their daddy loves them. We could all use a little peace and comfort. Thanks.

Thinking of a friend

Been a little bit of an emotional week for me.  On Sunday I learned that a woman I met at Camp Widow’s fiance passed away.  This was 4 days after she has just posted a picture of flowers he had sent her with a card telling her they would “Live in Color together” (live in color was the theme of our camp).  She wrote in her post about the amazing support from him post-loss.  You see, 6 years ago this past Monday (yes, one day after her fiance died) her husband passed away.  Her fiance came to the camp, with his 3 kids and her 2, wearing matching rainbow t-shirts they had made and did the 5k  together.  It was amazing.  And gave me hope.  And to know that just a few weeks ago they were working on this amazing journey together and now he is gone is heartbreaking.  It brought up every feeling I had when Mark died.  Thinking that she was going through that again made me feel broken.  This person, who I basically barely knew, her heart was breaking… FOR THE SECOND TIME… the thought to me was just unfathomable.  I always sort of feel like I got my fair share of badness and I shouldn’t get anymore, but that is not guaranteed.  And that is scary.  Knowing I might put myself back out there and lose someone again.  At camp, each camper got a ribbon on their badge to identify how long since your loved one died.  Some people had 2 ribbons.  I hated looking at those badges.  It reminded me that those people had risked their hearts twice and had them broken twice.

And the bottom line is, it just made me miss Mark.  I remembered what it was to have him here, and then not.  But then this amazing thing happened.  This extraordinary woman posted some more on facebook… and one thing that really struck me was the following message “You have no idea the amount of happiness you brought into my life.”  BAM!  Like a ton of bricks.  I get it.  Look at the blessings in my life from having had Mark in it.  The pain was worth it.  The only reason it hurts so bad is because it was so wonderful.  I am lucky to have had him and I will forever be grateful for the person I am because of him.  It hurts thinking about the amazing things he could have done and been for the kids… the impact having him HERE could have had on them.  I continue to work hard to talk about him and keep him here for them by playing his music, trying to do things I know he would have done, and loving them enough for both of us.

So please put up a prayer for my twice-widowed sister.  Hopefully with all of our prayers for peace she will feel her blanket of grief get a little lighter.