MP Reflection

Reflection #1: 4/12/16

Today I met with my advisor to discuss the methodology portion of my project. I’ll be working on a rhetorical analysis of a number of blogs to locate key terms, patterns, and characteristics that they all maybe share or do not share. I’m looking for markers of grief and mourning discourse within the blogs, in hopes to illustrate how the internet and writing is changing the playing field of grief coping mechanisms for many people.

It was one of the first moments when I could feel this labor of love piecing itself together. Jason would have scolded me by now and shit on my timeline by now, but he’s partly why the timeline was sabotaged so maybe I’m just being a little self loathing in that assessment. It was a great feeling knowing I will only be visiting Prof. Krause’s office maybe one last time. As much as I love campus life, I have had about enough of it.

He spent the better part of an hour with me today, which I’m really grateful for. He squeezes me into his schedule, and I appreciate that time, immensely. We browsed for blogs, looked at a few specific ones I’ve located, and ironed out what types of keys linguistic markers to look for. I was having a tough time determining precisely what a “marker” is and it’s function, so he asked me to think of genres. For example, when I think of country music songs, what types of characteristics would I look for in songs like this? This really helped me get my thoughts into perspective, and we began listing genre characteristics for my methodology.

Then he said I would need to create a spreadsheet to title the blogs, designate the markers, and tally my findings for each blog. At first I felt uncomfortable, because spreadsheets are the bane of my existence. I’d prefer to create a presentation in front of hundreds of people, instead of such a tedious task, but perhaps it’s a necessary evil here. I suppose there’s ways to make the spreadsheet my own, and not so dry and uninteresting. I’m really looking forward to this aspect, because it gives me a gateway into other grieving minds, and everyone knows misery loves company. I learn more from other people in my field than what I contribute, I can promise you that. Well, the next thing on this project list is to tighten up that literature review, attach my methodology, and the works cited….then it’s off to life in the spreadsheet.

The Winds of Change

Recently, I was asked what is it in my life that gives me pleasure? Then it was, what do I want to do when I retire? If someone had asked me these questions three years ago, my answers would have differed, greatly. I had an incomplete self image, so answering that question would have been difficult for me. I guess I never realized this, but I never did have a complete self image. I was perfectly happy allowing it to be codependent. I didn’t know any better.

What gives me pleasure? It’s when the people I love are happy. I get great pleasure out of helping people, teaching people, and listening to people. I like stories. I like it when people tell me stories about themselves, because I learn so much from others. I also get satisfaction out of sharing stories with others. I like to see the reaction on their faces. I love when someone asks me a question about what I’ve shared, because there’s always a discovery of deeper meaning. I’m a social person. I love to talk with people, and learn what makes them tick. I enjoy people watching, and developing characters from the perceptions I’ve interpreted. I really enjoy what I do. I love gathering new information and processing it. I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s what I’m for. I want to discover, filter, and share what I’m exposed to in life. I enjoy viewing the world through the many lenses I have refined over the years as a reader/writer. I imagine this isn’t news for those that already know me, but I’m eager to utilize this gift that I have. This brings me to my next question, which was the one that stumped me much more.

What do I want to do when I retire? Well damn, I’m not even close to retiring or wanting to retire so I can’t honestly say how I want to retire. I will very likely work right on into my retirement, not just out of necessity but because I love what I do. However, there are many life experiences I want to explore all the while. When I think of retirement, it’s nothing like what I used to wan,t because I’m not that woman anymore. Three years ago, my answer would have been , “I want to do whatever he wants to do” because that was my life and I was perfectly satisfied with it. Now, my life has been turned upside down, and many aspects are different. I never have considered the latter part of my years the way I do now. I want to travel. I want to have an old, fixer-upper with a great big porch that my grand kids can run amok on. I want a nice garden I can tend to, and a wonderful working kitchen to cook and create in. I love feeding my family and friends. I’m a natural nurturer. I want to ride my bike throughout my community, and drop goodies from my garden with my friends. I want to be busy working around my house or “tinkering” as my late husband called it, protecting my aging skin with a big, floppy hat that my kids can make fun of. I want to make mud-pies with my grandson and put lopsided pigtails in my future granddaughter’s hair. I’m not much for doing girl hair. It’s actually impressive that I can do my own.

Initially, I would’ve felt ashamed of myself listing so many self-indulging “wants” but my life has taught me that it’s okay to make yourself happy. I have learned that my happiness is just as important as the happiness of those I love. It took me a good while, and lots of falling on my face to learn this. I had to make a lot of mistakes, and be burned by them in order to fully understand that I’ve earned being happy. For a long time, I felt like I was supposed to die too. I felt like I couldn’t be loyal to him if I allowed myself to be happy. I’ve learned that this wasn’t my thinking, it was grief thinking for me. Taking care of my family, loving them, watching them grow into the adults we worked so hard to nurture…this is what makes me truly happy. I will probably never retire, because what I do isn’t “work” to me. The winds of change have opened up a new world for me, and I’m finally not afraid to accept it. I’m finally seeing where I fit in my life, my new life. Change is never easy, but nothing worth having ever is. I don’t mind hard work, it reminds me that I’m alive.

Recently, I was asked what is it in my life that gives me pleasure? Then it was, what do I want to do when I retire? If someone had asked me these questions three years ago, my answers would have differed, greatly. I had an incomplete self image, so answering that question would have been difficult for me. I guess I never realized this, but I never did have a complete self image. I was perfectly happy allowing it to be codependent. I didn’t know any better.

What gives me pleasure? It’s when the people I love are happy. I get great pleasure out of helping people, teaching people, and listening to people. I like stories. I like it when people tell me stories about themselves, because I learn so much from others. I also get satisfaction out of sharing stories with others. I like to see the reaction on their faces. I love when someone asks me a question about what I’ve shared, because there’s always a discovery of deeper meaning. I’m a social person. I love to talk with people, and learn what makes them tick. I enjoy people watching, and developing characters from the perceptions I’ve interpreted. I really enjoy what I do. I love gathering new information and processing it. I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s what I’m for. I want to discover, filter, and share what I’m exposed to in life. I enjoy viewing the world through the many lenses I have refined over the years as a reader/writer. I imagine this isn’t news for those that already know me, but I’m eager to utilize this gift that I have. This brings me to my next question, which was the one that stumped me much more.

What do I want to do when I retire? Well damn, I’m not even close to retiring or wanting to retire so I can’t honestly say how I want to retire. I will very likely work right on into my retirement, not just out of necessity but because I love what I do. However, there are many life experiences I want to explore all the while. When I think of retirement, it’s nothing like what I used to wan,t because I’m not that woman anymore. Three years ago, my answer would have been , “I want to do whatever he wants to do” because that was my life and I was perfectly satisfied with it. Now, my life has been turned upside down, and many aspects are different. I never have considered the latter part of my years the way I do now. I want to travel. I want to have an old, fixer-upper with a great big porch that my grand kids can run amok on. I want a nice garden I can tend to, and a wonderful working kitchen to cook and create in. I love feeding my family and friends. I’m a natural nurturer. I want to ride my bike throughout my community, and drop goodies from my garden with my friends. I want to be busy working around my house or “tinkering” as my late husband called it, protecting my aging skin with a big, floppy hat that my kids can make fun of. I want to make mud-pies with my grandson and put lopsided pigtails in my future granddaughter’s hair. I’m not much for doing girl hair. It’s actually impressive that I can do my own.

Initially, I would’ve felt ashamed of myself listing so many self-indulging “wants” but my life has taught me that it’s okay to make yourself happy. I have learned that my happiness is just as important as the happiness of those I love. It took me a good while, and lots of falling on my face to learn this. I had to make a lot of mistakes, and be burned by them in order to fully understand that I’ve earned being happy. For a long time, I felt like I was supposed to die too. I felt like I couldn’t be loyal to him if I allowed myself to be happy. I’ve learned that this wasn’t my thinking, it was grief thinking for me. Taking care of my family, loving them, watching them grow into the adults we worked so hard to nurture…this is what makes me truly happy. I will probably never retire, because what I do isn’t “work” to me. The winds of change have opened up a new world for me, and I’m finally not afraid to accept it. I’m finally seeing where I fit in my life, my new life. Change is never easy, but nothing worth having ever is. I don’t mind hard work, it reminds me that I’m alive.

Recently, I was asked what is it in my life that gives me pleasure? Then it was, what do I want to do when I retire? If someone had asked me these questions three years ago, my answers would have differed, greatly. I had an incomplete self image, so answering that question would have been difficult for me. I guess I never realized this, but I never did have a complete self image. I was perfectly happy allowing it to be codependent. I didn’t know any better.

What gives me pleasure? It’s when the people I love are happy. I get great pleasure out of helping people, teaching people, and listening to people. I like stories. I like it when people tell me stories about themselves, because I learn so much from others. I also get satisfaction out of sharing stories with others. I like to see the reaction on their faces. I love when someone asks me a question about what I’ve shared, because there’s always a discovery of deeper meaning. I’m a social person. I love to talk with people, and learn what makes them tick. I enjoy people watching, and developing characters from the perceptions I’ve interpreted. I really enjoy what I do. I love gathering new information and processing it. I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s what I’m for. I want to discover, filter, and share what I’m exposed to in life. I enjoy viewing the world through the many lenses I have refined over the years as a reader/writer. I imagine this isn’t news for those that already know me, but I’m eager to utilize this gift that I have. This brings me to my next question, which was the one that stumped me much more.

What do I want to do when I retire? Well damn, I’m not even close to retiring or wanting to retire so I can’t honestly say how I want to retire. I will very likely work right on into my retirement, not just out of necessity but because I love what I do. However, there are many life experiences I want to explore all the while. When I think of retirement, it’s nothing like what I used to want because I’m not that woman anymore. Three years ago, my answer would have been , “I want to do whatever he wants to do” because that was my life and I was perfectly satisfied with it. Now, my life has been turned upside down, and many aspects are different. I never have considered the latter part of my years the way I do now. I want to travel. I want to have an old, fixer-upper with a great big porch that my grand kids can run amok on. I want a nice garden I can tend to, and a wonderful working kitchen to cook and create in. I love feeding my family and friends. I’m a natural nurturer. I want to ride my bike throughout my community, and drop goodies from my garden with my friends. I want to be busy working around my house or “tinkering” as my late husband called it, protecting my aging skin with a big, floppy hat that my kids can make fun of. I want to make mud-pies with my grandson and put lopsided pigtails in my future granddaughter’s hair. I’m not much for doing girl hair. It’s actually impressive that I can do my own.

Initially, I would’ve felt ashamed of myself listing so many self-indulging “wants” but my life has taught me that it’s okay to make yourself happy. I have learned that my happiness is just as important as the happiness of those I love. It took me a good while, and lots of falling on my face to learn this. I had to make a lot of mistakes, and be burned by them in order to fully understand that I’ve earned being happy. For a long time, I felt like I was supposed to die too. I felt like I couldn’t be loyal to him if I allowed myself to be happy. I’ve learned that this wasn’t my thinking, it was grief thinking for me. Taking care of my family, loving them, watching them grow into the adults we worked so hard to nurture…this is what makes me truly happy. I will probably never retire, because what I do isn’t “work” to me. The winds of change have opened up a new world for me, and I’m finally not afraid to accept it. I’m finally seeing where I fit in my life, my new life. Change is never easy, but nothing worth having ever is. I don’t mind hard work, it reminds me that I’m alive.

Aftermath….

It’s only been a few years since he’s been gone. All in all, my situation is still very fresh and new to those that don’t know me. I have come a very long way since June 26th, 2013, and truth be told, I still have a long way to go. I’m not completely healed, but I’m better. I’m not unafraid of what this life has to offer me, but I’m braver. I cannot say that I’m smarter today, but I’m more experienced. I can’t say that I’m perfect at parenting alone, but I’m willing to work hard at it. My heart is not 100%, but it’s stronger.

I’ve only recently allowed myself to entertain the idea of having a man in my life. The idea certainly crossed my mind, but I wasn’t healthy enough to sincerely consider it. This was caused by a lot of guilt that I felt at the onset of loss. I truly wish I had the presence of mind to have seen this a while ago, but I had to walk through shit and struggle, before I was able to mindfully see this. I deserve happiness. I deserve joy. I deserve to live in peace. I have learned, through much soul searching and solitude, that in order to be happy in any relationship or with any partner, I have to actualize a self-love that frees my soul from the chains of guilt. It took a lot of pain from falling on my face to see this, in order to understand what I needed to do from that moment forward.

I decided that creating a life that makes me satisfied with who I am is what I needed to work on. I am now in a place that I can confidently say, I’m happy with who I am, what I want, and where I’m going. There will always be measures added to this, so I can continuously improve, but for the sake of this argument, I’m a happy person. This fact is what I know will lead someone into my life. Creating a life that illustrates that I’m content will attract what I need and want. I think as a woman, I was under the impression that “finding a good man” is the ultimate goal in life for a woman, (oddly enough, I never really had to look very far as God dropped him right in front of me early on). However, now I understand that the goal in my life is enjoying the family, friends, and experiences I’m having, and always being open to learning new things about myself in this journey. The real bonus of having someone significant in my life will be that they add to an already content existence.

I recently experienced how this premise stands for me. I met someone that I found interesting and appealing. He fit a lot of positive criteria for my lifestyle. Personality wise, we got along like peas and carrots. Time went on and we began to move into a more serious place. He began to withdraw, and finally came clean about his feelings. He confessed that he was highly anxious about moving forward. He was scared of being the “guy” for me. Many people will have opinions about this, and about him. Some might say he’s a coward, and some might say he’s noble. I think I prefer to say neither. His fears are justified. My situation is terribly intimidating to most interested parties. Who the fuck wants to compete with a ghost? It’s impossible to do! Yet, the fact is, there is no competition and there never will be.

I don’t hold any bitterness. On the contrary, I’m heartbroken and I miss him. However, anyone not willing to weather the storm with me, isn’t for me. My personal life can only be polished by someone that, even though they recognize the inherent fear of being a part of this journey, they jump off that frightening cliff, anyway. I’m worth the risk. I’m worth the fear one feels getting involved in such a complex dynamic. I’m worth every little doubt they may have, and I know I am. I know there is a very distinct possibility that I may never meet him. I know that I may traverse this rock, solo because this brave soul may not exist. I know I’ve truly come out of this tragedy having learned major facts about myself, and the beauty is, I’m okay with this. I’m absolutely okay with me. I’m also completely okay with knowing that I may very well have more balls than any of the men that wander into my life, and frankly, I’m the better for it.

The NY Hum.

Lady Liberty to my left and the Freedom Tower to my right at 199 State St. Brooklyn, New York, and it basically just fell in my lap. How does such a fitting metaphor have me here in such a historically rich place? Lord knows I have my share of friends, and they have their share of networks, but I never expected this. These are the moments I thank God that I’m alive and well! I love New York, and I want to come back. If I could land a well-paying source of income, I could most assuredly live here. Like Nancy said last night, “If you stop and listen, you can hear the hum”

I want to kickstart the “hum” in my life. I’m taking my sweet old time doing so, but I truly do. I want to get up, move, make things happen, and make my way through the streets with purpose. I can do that again, but this time with a different purpose. A purpose on a grander scale. The thought occurs to me often, “I can do whatever I want” I mean, within reason of course, but this thought was non existent in the old me. Particularly because I had everything that I wanted, and never felt the need for more. In my eyes, I had everything. In general, I did have everything.

This is different though. Now, everything means sustaining this family on my own. Even though I have the safety net, I have to secure a dependable living, which I know I can do, but I have other facets of responsibility to consider as well. I have a child in college, I have a grandchild on the way, and I have a son starting high school. It feels like I’m dabbling in life’s many experiences all at once in some sense. I don’t know why God thinks I’m so good at multitasking and juggling, I’m really not. However, when God calls, you better answer I gather. I don’t know if He’s calling, but He sure thinks highly of me. I guess I should bask in that thought, but it tends to make me anxious. Perhaps that feeling is just experience rearing its familiar head.

I’ve visited a few places that left enough of an impact on me that it didn’t seem like a place at all; Savannah, Ga., Windsor, Canada, South Padre Island, TX., Nassau, Bahamas, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and now New York, NY. These places all share a unified concept, just like many other places I’ll visit, and that is they represent emotion, passion, love, culture, language, asthetic value and rich, experiential knowledge of people. The world is made of people, so the more we’re exposed to them, the more we become comfortable being ourselves in the world. We create mental connections with those we encounter on the way home from work, and on our way to band practice. We may not have an extended or intimate conversation with people regularly, but we are a part of one another’s passing time. A human fragment attached to our day, therefore us. Haven’t you ever passed someone on the street, took one look at them and thought “I wonder what their life is like?” No? Never? Well you should. You should, because you’ll hear the hum inside of them. It’s a feeling, not a place. It’s a piece of the pie with surround sound, and we’re in charge of getting those details. They’re the details that make people a person, and I’m enthralled with learning what makes us all tick.

If you have asked that question, then you know what I meant by “a human fragment” People touch our soul, whether it is in a way that we get satisfaction from or not, it is true. People come in and out of our lives on a daily basis, and it can just as easily be a stranger you see wheeling a shopping basket around, carefully as so to not lose the excessive amount of returnables hanging off of it, as it could be someone you’ve slept next to for over twenty years. We have no control over who we fall in love with, and almost no control over those we invest in. I give my heart, freely whether it is to my lover or my best friend. Simply because we are human beings and have this incessant need to love, we crave the human contact. I crave human contact. When I find myself in a an unfamiliar place, I go out of my way to meet people. I spark up conversation. It can be mundane initially, but eventually I’ll guide the conversation into territory where we talk about the geography, history, and sooner or later, some retrospective memory of this place pops in their head, and I get this vastly layered short story of how this particular location became significant to the individual. It’s what I like to call unofficial participant research. It’s unofficial because it certainly isn’t academic by nature, but I’m participating in people researching, so I find it fascinating!

I love this stuff! The kind of inspiration I get from these observations is gold. One can only learn outside the box from people and experience, books cannot provide it. Personal stories are manifestos of life. They are irrefutable happenings with lives, emotions, and livable, credible perspectives shaped by wisdom. I thrive on it. So, I try to listen more than I talk, and for those of you that know me, you know this is a daily struggle for me 🙂

Clarity

I find myself solo at times, and I don’t feel uncomfortable or anxious anymore. The kids all have plans nailed down and I’m over here like “Hmmm….I wonder what I should do?” The feeling is refreshing. I’m alone, but I don’t feel lonely. I’m making a list of things I want to do by myself. It’s growing, surprisingly. My new normal is opening up possibilities and opportunities that I never imagined I’d ever have. I’d always prefer my original normal to anything, but the knot I used to get in my belly from loneliness is waning. I like my own company. I have never imagined that I could feel this way. At first I felt guilty when I started feeling okay with being alone, but now I know grief caused that. I’m doing myself far more good building, owning, and refining my foundation, simply because it is mine. I am learning that those I love will benefit when I put myself first, because if I’m taken care of, they’re taken care of.

I want to travel, near and far. I want to finish this thesis, and grant myself about a year to see more of my home state. I want to take every inch of it in: the rivers, foliage, apple orchards, cherry trees, vineyards, and more! I want to travel abroad. I do not care to see the riches and luxuries of Rome, I want to stay off the island of Crete and fish for lunch. I want to see real people living life differently than I’m accustomed. I want to learn and understand their culture. I want to be uncomfortable, and crawl out of my shell instead of hide in it. I want to try different foods and discover my foreign likes and dislikes. I want to swim in water so clear, I can see the pop of the reef below me. This getting to discover me stuff is selfish. I’m typing a lot of “I want” statements. Yet, how am I supposed to know what my talents are, what fears I can squash, and which direction I should take, personally and professionally, if I don’t know what I want?

It’s a tricky balance, preserving one’s soul. It requires more self reflection and tenacity, and this can be distressing for some. I know it’s been very difficult for me. I had to see myself for the very first time, unattached to a lifestyle shared with another, and I didn’t always like what I saw. In order to grow as a person, one shouldn’t always like what they see. Mistakes should be made; I need to know how I drop the ball, everyone needs some humility. I thought I had balanced out my personal goals and dreams, but my goals and dreams never really were personal. Although this was never a problem before, once I found myself alone, it became quite problematic because I didn’t know what I wanted. I still cannot list categorically what I want out of life, except to say that I want to be happy and for me being happy also encompasses making someone happy. I am unequivocally satisfied with creating a life for myself and my family, and since now I know this is all I really need, when the timing is right and the chemistry is there, I’ll be ready for whatever and/or whomever is interested in my time. It’s a lovely feeling unconcerned with attachment. I was attached for so long, I didn’t realize it could be this way. God knows I miss Jas and I know he’s with me, helping to guide me, but I have an odd sense of boldness to this self reliance I’m unearthing. I’m ready to get my hands dirty 🙂

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!

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.