A New Me…

I have been, probably far too busy these last several months dodging responsibilities and laundry and my feelings. When Jason died, I had never realized that it was going to take losing someone again, to teach me that I could love again. It actually hadn’t occurred to me that I could love again. Most logical thinking people wouldn’t need to be reminded of this. Even after stepping out of a bad relationship/marriage, most people understand that finding happiness is a possibility. I did not feel like it was, because I could not think logically. First, I didn’t think I deserved to be alive. Why should I breathe, Jason can’t? Why should I eat, Jason can’t? Why should I feel joy, Jason can’t? (Of course I take into account that he is in Heaven, but my mind didn’t do this, initially). These emotions played in and out of my head on a daily basis, but my children trumped my psyche, and I knew on this earth was where I belong. I began to go on dates, not many, just a few.

It’s crazy out there! I’m not designed for the single life. I’m a nurturer, I prefer to be devoted to one man. So, one can see how I’m kind of set up for failure in this arena. I began seeing someone that Jason knew. He is someone Jason had worked with for many years, and going into this, that weighed very heavy on my already guilt-ridden mind. I was continuously grotesque to myself because of the guilt I felt. I kind of felt like I didn’t even deserve to be dating this ridiculously great guy. We went out. We did lots of different things, walked at the park, sat around the bonfire, laid in bed and talked about stupid things for hours at a time. I absolutely love his company, and I felt completely free to be myself. He is very good to me. He is kind and sweet and loving, but he doesn’t let me give him any shit and that is a huge turn on. In short, we carried on for, what seems to be over a year now.

At some point, he made it clear that he wanted more than a weekend lover, and it scared the hell out of me! I jetted. I let go. I suddenly felt like I might want more too, and instead of following my heart, I let my head lead and it was incapable of doing so at the time. I had let go and he had to move on. Not long after and to my dismay, I realized how much I care about him and I had made a grave mistake, but it was too late. We’re still close friends, and I want nothing more than his happiness. The most important part of this experience is that through the mistakes and disappointment and heartache, I was able to learn that I can feel again, and I can love again, and I can be happy again. Perhaps the vital point…I deserve to be and that’s where I dropped the ball. I shot myself in the foot when I had him, because I wasn’t convinced that I deserved to be happy.

However, I am so grateful to God for this experience, simply because Josh’s existence and influence in my life taught me that I not only can be happy but I deserve it. I guess I had to learn it the hard way. I sometimes think maybe Jason sent him to me, to cushion the fall that he knew I would eventually suffer in a world unknown to me. He knew that Josh was a good man with integrity, and one of the most beautiful hearts a man could possess. He is the perfect man to teach a harsh lesson about myself. He held my heart in both of his hands, and cradled it, even long after we had parted. It is a very humbling experience to have a broken heart, but feel gracious for it. I was so broken for so long, but I’m beginning to feel enlightened. As though this was all written somewhere, and somehow, Josh and I will be happy, even apart. I finally feel like I have control over how I feel, instead of letting grief control my emotions for me. I was drowning in grief and I could not find anything to grasp, but he put his hand out and saved me. I regret that our time was set at an unstable moment in my life and I know that we’ve both suffered some bumps and bruises along the way, but I do not have any regrets about this relationship. I grew as a person and a woman. I’m stronger and smarter and more aware of who I am and what I want. J.R. Walker, thank you and I’ll always love you!

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My Gift

Jason was born on February 11th, so I always opted for nixing Valentine’s day festivities to celebrate his birthday. It mattered more to me than a teddy bear and chocolates. Jason never cared, but I did. He never wanted to make a fuss over his birthday, but I managed to figure out a way to celebrate no matter what was happening in our lives. I mean, he always did something for me for the holiday, whether it was a card, or a stuffed toy, or candy, or even just a small note on the fridge, he never allowed the day to go by without acknowledging the romance a relationship needs. He was so great that way.

 We had plenty of holidays and birthdays that went by, where we didn’t have a lot of resources available to buy things for one another, but we always made the best of it. I think we were married just a few years, and things were tight. I wasn’t working, and I was pregnant with our second son, but I felt so horrible because I had no money to buy him anything. He worked hard and took care of myself, our oldest son Julian, our home, and this new baby that was on its way. I truly felt unworthy sometimes, but he wanted it this way. I decided to make him a card and let Julian make some scribbles on it, because what better way to say “I love you daddy” than some Crayola scratches? I’m no artist by any means, but I drew a picture of myself (with a plump 5 month belly) and Julian with big smiles on our faces. On the inside, I used finger paints to press an imprint of Julian’s little chubby palm print. Jason was thrilled! He especially loved Julian’s little palm print, and decided to frame the card with the inside out, so the palm print was exposed. I was so happy!

 I managed to have enough funds left over for a six pack of Bud Light, made a pot of spaghetti, and got a movie rental. I cleaned Julian up, fed him, and put him to bed. Then, I ran Jason a bubble bath, served his beer to him, and let him soak in the bubbles. He wasn’t much of a bath kind of guy, but I think he entertained the idea to make me happy. I sat on the toilet, talking to him, and decided to join him, even though we were tightly squeezed. My belly was taking up more space than I’d like to admit. Anyway, we just sat there, soaking together and talking about names for the new baby, and how great of a big brother Julian was going to be. We wondered if this new little bundle was going to drive us crazy or make us complete. We knew it would likely be a little of both, so we were kind of elated and anxious all at once.

 We sat there so long, talking and enjoying one another that we wrinkled up and the water got cold. We got out, and sat at the table and lit some candles. I with Faygo grape soda and he with his Bud Light, talking over candle light and pasta about our future, what we wanted, what made us nervous, and how our family would be. We were really excited to be parents of another sweet little boy, and we had settled on a name we had heard from a movie, Tristan was the name. I was so in love with it, and Jason liked it as well. We nestled on the sofa, and I gave him a foot massage, and we watch the movie I rented. I can’t really remember what it was now, but I do remember how special that night was. Julian stayed asleep all night, and we cuddled and chatted about the movie. He said it was one of the best birthdays he had ever had. I can remember it so vividly! It was in that moment that I realized what kind of father he was. It was in that moment when I knew how fortunate I had been to have him as a father and provider for my children and myself. In that moment, I fell in love with him on a whole different level. I saw him as a man, not the guy I crushed on for so many years. I saw the man he was growing into, and it made me so happy and so excited to know he was mine. I knew at that moment that I had made the smartest decision ever to marry this man. I can’t describe what this feels like, knowing you’re going to spend the rest of your life with the right person. He was the guy that made me a woman, a wife, a mama, and an all around better human being, and I knew this. I was so content to be his wife, I had never really gave much consideration of what it was to be anything else. I didn’t need to because I was perfectly happy with being his.

I know this is why losing him was not just devastating, but the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me. I had to learn what I wanted for myself, by myself, because my life was centered on being what made him happy, because that made me happy. It’s taken me some time to figure out what I want and need and desire, but I’ve come pretty far. I know I’ll never have that relationship again, and that’s okay because I treasure what I had with Jason. However, I do want to make someone happy again. I want to take care of someone, not because they can’t take care of themselves but because I want to, and because they appreciate that I want to. There’s no doubt in my mind that I will be much more independent with a new relationship, but I still want to be a wife, or at least someone of significance to another. I enjoyed it. I truly feel fulfilled taking care of my man. I have no problem with an independent man. I like a man that can cook and clean and do all those domestic deeds, I think it’s really sexy when a guy can be comfortable in that role. Still, I know I made Jason happy, and I know I’m good at it. I’m good at loving. I think he taught me that. He taught me how to put someone else before me, and what that feels like. It’s hard to explain other than to say, it makes the world a much more beautiful place when you live for another person. It helps one see and understand the world around them, outside the ego and selfishness that so naturally comes to us as humans in a material world. We’re fallible, and love corrects that. Love makes people better at being a person, a grounded, humble, contented person. Love does that…and so much more! It was Jason’s birthday, but a gift to me. One I’ll always carry because it helped create the person I am.

The Transition…

How come I read about couples falling out of love all the time, but when someone REALLY needs that to happen for them, they can’t??? Anyone have a fall out of love spell they can cast on me, cuz I don’t wanna’ feel like this forever! I feel exhausted. The minute I thought about this, about wanting to not love him anymore, it broke what is left of my heart. I guess my mind is still trying to process this, and it happens in waves and in unpredictable moments. It’s not something I can control. I just allow myself to feel…whatever it is, bad or good. Most of the time, I allow the hurt to overcome me, and I shut down. I really can’t get anything accomplished when I’m feeling that way. I can’t concentrate, and all I feel is pain. I know it’s normal, and it’s going to happen from time to time, but grief requires all of my attention. It is a selfish animal, it takes everything out of you and leaves nothing. It’s impossible to love someone and not touch or hold or hear them, but I’m achieving the impossibility every day.

 

I’m looking for an easy fix, something to mend my heart. It’s certainly not going to be a man, it’s going to require changes in myself. I don’t need to love Jason less, I need to learn to love myself more. That is what he would tell me. Before, it was easy for me to forget myself, and live for him. He loved me so well, that it was Heaven for me. Now, I have to learn to live for me, and it’s an eye widening experience, mostly because I never knew what “me” was? There’s little results when you live for yourself, only in that one may suffer from a narrowed perspective and not truly see the benefits of such an endeavor. I never considered that now I’m living for myself, and my children, and it’s a new normal. Well, it’s becoming less new, but it’s a new routine, even for myself. I’m not accustomed to organizing a day around what I have to do, it was always around Jason’s work schedule, the kids, then myself. Now, when I wake up, I think about where I need to be and what I need to do, specifically for the boys and whatever household errands I might have, but I think to myself, “What the fuck happened? How did I get here?” I mean, I can basically decide what’s for dinner everyday, but I don’t want to, and I don’t care that I can. I bought bedroom furniture, and realized I could pick out what I want. I kind of smiled, but then immediately felt guilty. Gotta’ love grief, sneaking in there like that.


I don’t like that my old routine was ripped from me. I liked my old routine. I loved loving him, and now I have to live with loving him from far away. I have to learn to balance that, with this new life, which seems almost unrecognizable at times. I have to leave room for Jason, a guy like him demands it, but I can find room in there for me too, because that’s what he did. Jason put me before everything in our life, even our children, sometimes that bothered me, but it was just his way. He seriously, like on a profoundly deep level, loved me and it made my life so perfectly easy to fall in love with, and I did. I not only mourn the love of my life, but a lifestyle come to passing. I’m single, and the words are like a foreign language, because I find the term absurd, and I look at myself and I don’t look single, whatever it looks like. Personally, I think I look like a deer in headlights most often than not. My head is in the clouds, apparently trying to make contact. I’m stuck between the living and the dead, and I’m losing sight of what the living needs, because of it. I’m living here with the family we created together, that has to count for something. It means something, whether he’s with me or not. I’m going to figure this bullshit out, and it’s going to be based on the experiential knowledge that I’ve obtained, because essentially, that’s all I have. Jason valued me as a person and a woman, and I can only pray that someday I see myself through his eyes.

Simple Civics

August 5, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve bothered with my blog. I’ve had a hard time finding something to focus on, other than grief. Unfortunately, grief does tend to produce a lot of passion, so I ran with it the best I could when the tide was high. I’m really tired of that passion, but I have no control over it, it’s its own animal, I’m just here for the ride. I do however have something new to share.

So, I worked the Michigan state primary elections today for the first time. Actually, it was the first time I’ve ever worked the polls for any candidate. I’ve always thought about it in the past, but no one was ever really worth my time, but that changed when I found out my friend and classmate Rashida was running for state senate. I brought lots of water, coffee, and an apple, but Rashida delivered snacks, lunch, and pizza later on. I had my folding chair I use for baseball. I needed my raincoat, and an umbrella, and I brought a sweater to wear if I needed to go into the building. If in the voting area, campaign material is not allowed, and I had a T shirt on. It wasn’t a difficult job. I could either pass out literature, or maybe plug Rashida’s name to the community in some way. I did a little of both, but mostly, I simply stood in front of Shelters Elementary school in Southgate with a Rashida sign in hand, and I smiled really big and waved. Yes, you read that right, I made like the Little Caesars Pizza pusher, and owned the sidewalk.

In the beginning it seemed like such a simple task: it hardly required any physical work, I had little to no direct contact with people, and all I had to carry was a sign. I almost felt guilty for being so seemingly insignificant. I watched for oncoming cars from both direction, paid close attention to bikers, and motorcyclists, and I especially watched for walkers. They were easy engagers, because they are walking directly past me. Basically all day today, I smiled, waved, and chatted with people. I did this over the course of several hours. I walked to the end of Shelter’s sidewalk, waved, walk back the other direction, and waved again, and smiled. It was actually a happy smile. I was really enjoying what I was doing. Perhaps it was a sincere smile? Maybe this time, I didn’t have to find one. I didn’t have to pull it out of me, it came out. I smiled and waved and chatted with everyone I saw. It was mind boggling to see how many people I reached simply being kind. Actually, I was behaving kind, because I said so little to people, they were responding to the way I looked. I starting noting peoples reactions, and most of them had the same reaction, they looked at me, and smiled back. Many people waved and smiled, and I’m referring to drivers, bikers, and walkers.

Generally, most of the community was enthusiastic and happy to greet me. Sometimes, people would yell out of their car window, “Good luck Rashida!” I think they thought I was her. I really enjoyed the responses I received from kids, they immediately waved quickly, and flashed some braces back at me, or they looked at me like I was nuts for waving a sign. I became familiar with some cars, and remembered where they came from. I recognized a number of faces from my community: teachers, coaches, parents from sports programs, and I even saw some of my boys buddies driving their cars or riding their bikes past me. My community associated me with Rashida, and I wanted to help plug her into it, and that is all I had to do, because she does the rest. She is one fiercely wise beyond her years woman, and I’d work twelve hours for her all over again. Her work ethic is almost immeasurable

I cannot begin to describe the feeling I had when I received warm responses from people. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of something infinitely bigger than anything I could want, and much bigger than myself. I want my fellow man to have peace of mind, because that’s all I want. It’s not a material object, but my goodness it’s expensive. I feel like it’s worth working for, and I’m willing to work when I see someone else working at providing other people with it, relentlessly. This is what Rashida’s does. Every time I felt even the slightest bit tired, I thought about how many hours that woman put into door knocking, or maybe I should say how many pounds. She shed a few herself from all the consistent activity. When my dogs started barking, I took my flip flops off and walked, waved, and smiled on the Shelter’s lawn where it was cool and soft. I have to say, I’m feeling grateful that this is August and not November, although someone suggested I work then as well. The weather wasn’t terrible. It rained twice, once in the morning, and once right before we wrapped it up. I met some great volunteers, and worked with some of my longtime community friends. Looking back, I’d say today was a fairly successful attempt at assisting a close friend. I can’t even call it work.

TIme is Untouchable….

June 1, 2014

I’ve dreaded this month all year. Since last June I dreaded it. He went home to be with God 9 days after my birthday. I turned 40 and my best friend threw me a birthday party at her place. It was an all nighter for sure. Jason had to work 12 hours the next morning, he had to be there by 6 AM. Instead of eating a good dinner, having a few cold ones, and going home, like I suggested, and subsequently bagged him to do, he did all that and stayed by my side until the wee hours of the morning. He never even slept. He left the party and went straight to work. He made my birthday by sacrificing sleep, his own comfort, and time. He always did these things for me. He made it a habit of making me the center of his world, and more importantly, making me feel this way. He loved me more than most men love a woman. He gave me a gift worth far more than any tangible treasure, he demonstrated how I should be loved. How a good man loves. This is priceless insight. The best way to teach children how being in a loving relationship makes for a good life is to illustrate it to them through behavior, not by dictating. Jason helped me show our boys what this looks like, and even better, what it means as a husband and father.

 

I have the capacity to know this now. I have the presence of mind to step back from my broken heart and our tragedy, and know how incredibly blessed we are. I was loved by a truly lion-hearted man. The kind of man that put everyone in his family before himself. I don’t know why I was chosen to live such a privilege, but I have and it has made me the woman I am, therefore I am forever indebted to Jason, because he helped me learn how to love and appreciate a good man, because of how he loved me. I could never repay him for such a beautiful life, other than to do the best I can to finish raising our boys, and honoring the legacy that he left me. Jason helped define me as a woman. He helped create who I am, even when I didn’t see him doing this. I want to live my life in a way that celebrates this blessing, a way that makes him proud of who I have become as an individual. This has been a major struggle for me, finding my own individuality. When half of yourself is gone, you’re forced to face the void, and determine what to do about the space that requires filling. Sometimes, you don’t even realize there is a space there, until it’s exposed. I will probably continue to struggle with this, but I suppose a lot of people do at some point in their lives.

 

There was a point in my life last summer, when I didn’t care if I lived or died. I didn’t want to eat, because I found no satisfaction or joy in eating anymore. My taste buds didn’t work, actually, most of my body’s normal capacities weren’t on par. The morning of June 26, 2013 I felt as though I had been beaten within an inch of my life, yet there were no bruises or handprints on me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my skin hurt, my eyes burned, it was excruciating to just exist, I hated being alive, and my senses were completely knocked out of whack. I felt like I couldn’t hear, I stopped eating because it wasn’t necessary, I saw everything around me happening, but it felt like I wasn’t living it. I felt like I was watching it. It felt like someone else’s dredged up nightmare that was a lie, because how could this be my life? This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was invincible. He was my Superman. He was my everything, and I had never in all my 40 years imagined that he could be taken away.

Now, almost one year later I understand the precious and fleeting concept called life. I learned the hard way. I learned through experience, and there is no more real way to understand a life lesson than that. I still have my bad days, my sleepless nights, my tear-filled family Sundays, and a broken heart. I still long for his arms around me, his breath on my neck, and his voice in my ear, how could I not? I have lived over 2/3’s of my life for Jason, and I can say now with all sincerity that nothing was in vain. My life with Jason was a dream come true. He gave me what every woman wants, and then some. I have absolutely no regrets about my life with him, the good, bad, and ugly were a part of our relationship, it made us who we were, together, and that was fabulous! Now, I can take this time to work on me. I need to make me whole again, for myself, not for anyone else. I want to love again. I want to have someone in my life that is important to me. I don’t want to rush this, and I don’t want anything fabricated. I want real. I want what we all want. I don’t want what I had, that’s not for me to replicate. I want to feel the way I did, and know I can again. Maybe not quite the same, but something worth feeling. I’ll take this time to heal and build a better self, and maybe someday someone will roll along and appreciate all the cracks and scars on me. Maybe they won’t care about them, maybe they’ll even love them. But more importantly, I need to love me, and maybe even miraculously see what it was that Jason loved so much about me. I always wondered about that….he made it look so damned easy 🙂

The Wave…

It isn’t a constant emotion. It can linger, but there’s no permanence in grief. It comes in with such force, you never see it coming, and then it leaves when its ready. The amount of time that transpires between coming and leaving varies. For me, it feels like I’m being completely taken over from the inside out. The pain has truly created a wound, I hurt from inside right in the middle, clear on out. It’s like a huge wave hits me, and I lose. I’m on the ground, done. I don’t fight it, I let it go. I might get angry, yell, kick my feet, scream, I took a bat to an old end table a few months ago, but I let it do its thing to me. When I don’t fight it, I reserve energy. Grief is exhaustive. I try to avoid it, pretending the stupid shit that brought it on, didn’t just happen, but I knew it did. I was fighting it then. It made me so tired. I couldn’t get out of bed to even make cereal for Jason. I knew then I would never be the same.

Now, if I have to cry, I just walk away, alone, and go do that. I try to avoid people because they all want to comfort me, but they don’t understand how that very act makes me cry harder. I know they’re being the good people they are and I’m grateful, but I cannot describe it except to say I have no control over my emotions right now. The actual type of crying I do now is different. I heard there are different types of cries, but I never experienced this until now. It’s a wave of hurt, and it attacks from inside, a place you can’t mend. My face has never felt uglier. I’ve been swollen, dehydrated, created tissue stucco on my cheeks, snotted up, and utterly tearless altogether. Sometimes it feels like my eyes are going to dry right out of my head from all the salt comes out of them. Sometimes my body cries, I don’t tear up or anything but I just lay in my bed and kind of wince and twitch. I mean I’m not doing it, my body is and I just lay there waiting for it to stop.

I close my eyes and picture his face. I can see those massive green eyes staring straight back at me. I loved how his face lit up when my eyes met his, or maybe it was my face lighting up and he just responded. I’d hear him say, “there’s mama” and I remember how much it aggravated me, but for the life of me I can’t even remember why now. I know what he meant by “mama” but my sad little ego was bruising as though it was a cheap shot, when in fact it was a compliment. I was such a fool! I wish I could hear that now “here’s mama” I wish he’d still come lay down next to me on the sofa, lay his head in my lap, grab my hands, and put them over his face like he did so many times in my life, and ask “touch me babe. Rub my head, please” The thought, or knowing that I’ll never do that again as long as I live destroys me inside, subtly, methodically, just enough everyday.

 

Impact Statement:

(I’ve taken a good hiatus from my blog, and any meaningful writing for some time. I can’t really explain why except to say that my brain seems to take over sometimes, and it apparently can only approach one task at a time. In any case, writing my court impact statement has lit a fire under me, and it’s time to get back to what I do. I have a reputation to clean up, and as long as he has me on his side, he’ll never need to worry about actually being here. I am his voice)

How do I sum up all those years in two paragraphs? Jason can’t be condensed into two bits of text. Jason was a good man, a great son, the best friend you ever had, an incredible father, and the love of my life. He still is the love of my life, even now. This tragedy has ripped my heart into pieces, and I’ll never be the same woman I was with him. Sure, some day I’ll move on, but I’ll never cease loving him. He gave me the world. He taught me love, and patience, and understanding. He showed me what sacrifice looks like, he was strong, therefore I felt strong. Jason worked very hard for us, he was our sole provider and he helped put me through college. He was my rock, he encouraged me, he was there when I was hurt, during failures, and successes. There wasn’t very many events that took place in the twenty seven years that we were together, that we weren’t a part of for one another. We grew, together. Now, I took a leave from school, I intend on going back, but I have to concentrate on my children now. I am looking into new fields of interest, professionally, so I have some plans for the near future.

However, now that our boys have only me, I tend to stay fairly busy taking care of them. They are all athletes, so our schedule is sometimes grueling. I cannot put into to words the loss my children feel without their dad around. They are completely broken hearted, and forever changed as well. Our oldest son’s 18th birthday was not ideal, he was depressed all day. Our middle son is wrestling for the first time this year, and is excelling at it. Our youngest is going to be 13 years old this July, and I’m very sad to say his dad will not be around to see his youngest son turn into a teenager. This is wrong. A man’s life was taken, albeit an accident, but still he’s gone. My boys and I have a void we’ll ache to fill, and never will. Jason was our everything, and we are left to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, on our own. Your honor, I understand it was an accident, but my husband laid on the ground in the cold rain without anyone that loved him there, and he died there, alone. I would give anything to have had one last moment to tell him I loved him. On June 26th, 2013, I kissed my husband Jason goodbye, packed his lunch, and said “Have a good one, babe!” He never came home from work that day. I woke my children up, one by one and told them what happened to their dad. Our lives ended there, and this new normal began. This is the impact of losing the man I love.