Friday, August 21, 2015

I'm Back!

I haven't thought about posting to this blog for quite a while now.  But for some reason I was drawn to it today - and I could not put my finger on why.  While I was trying to remember my password for this blog, I typed the URL into my browser and saw the last date I posted - August 21, 2013.  Exactly two years ago today.  Maybe that's why I was drawn to it today.

In my last post two years ago, I said I was ready to make changes in my life.  I wanted to be happy and what I was doing was not making me happy anymore.  I was not living; I was only existing.  Just existing can get really boring after a while, and a little depressing, so as I said two years ago today, I was ready to "Turn and Face the Strange".

So I did.

I retired from my job (an early retirement - I'm not that old!!)  I am in the process of changing careers.  I've seen my oldest graduate and go off to college, and my youngest get his driver's license. I bought a new car.  I changed my hair, then changed it back because I hated the new hairdo. (Not all changes work!!)  But the biggest change of all is - drum roll please - I'm engaged.  Yes, engaged to be married.  He put a ring on it.

Who?  What??  Huh??

The last time I posted, I didn't even have a boyfriend.  I hadn't even gone on a date.  I spent the first three and a half years of my widowhood insisting I was not dating for a variety of reasons.  I actually listed those reasons at one point in an email to myself so I would never forget.  But the same week I made that last post, I agreed to meet my friend's cousin, a divorced man with two sons.  The first date was nerve wracking.  We agreed to meet at the movies, and I spent the entire drive to the movie theater bickering with Bobby. I felt like I heard him talking to me in my head, which really was me just working out my guilt and conflict that was taking place inside my heart.  I felt like I was cheating.  I felt disloyal. I felt like a cad.  But I also felt lonely, and I had to do something about it.

That was in November of 2013.  One year and nine months later, we are engaged.  We have not made any wedding plans yet.  For now, we are just basking in the happiness of being engaged.   And now I have a wedding to plan.  A new chapter.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Turn And Face the Strange"

I realize that I have not been blogging as much as usual, (since May 12 to be exact!) and it bothers me.  This certainly does not mean I've met any sort of “end” to this journey that I call widowhood. Instead, I feel like I am stuck in a rut and I have to get off my butt and do something about it.

Over the past few months, I've identified several aspects of my life that are holding me back from living my best life, and I plan to take steps over the next year or so to change these.  Some of these aspects are widow related, and some are not.  However, the aspects that are not widow related are going to prove to be more difficult to remedy simply because my widowhood is going to slow them down.  If Bobby were here, those things would be a lot easier to change.  I'd also have him to bounce ideas off of.  It's difficult to bounce ideas off of myself.

Change is scary.  The unknown is scary.  Sometimes we are thrust into it - becoming a widow is a perfect example - and we have to adjust whether we want to or not.  But sometimes we have to take it upon ourselves to make the changes happen.  It's hard, because even if we know the changes will be good for us, there is always that level of comfort and familiarity that we must give up, even if that comfort and familiarity makes us miserable.

I desperately want to be a happy person, and I believe that the only way to this path is to purposely change my life.  Some changes will take a lot of work.  Some changes have to wait for my kids to graduate high school.  But the ones that I can do something about before then are the ones I plan to work on during the remainder of 2013 and 2014.  Things have to change because the status quo is not working for me right now!

So, as David Bowie said, "Turn and face the strange," and that is what I plan to do.  I hope to be blogging about these changes, soon.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Thing You Dread

Earlier this week I was listening to a song on my MP3 player that I was introduced to on the TV show Person of Interest.  It's called "Revenge" by Danger Mouse and Sparkle Horse (you can listen to it here.)   It was played in the background of some very powerful scenes involving a lost love.  The song is about getting revenge on someone, which doesn't apply to me.  I just like the tune and the way the song sounds.  But there is one line in the song that hit me like a brick this past week.

"Once we've become the thing we dread, 
there's no way to stop."

I know what I dread.  I dread becoming one of those widows who is not happy, but instead, cynical and sarcastic.  The one who doesn't trust anybody.  The one who can't move forward with her life.  I don't want to be that, but sometimes I feel like it is happening anyway.  It's three friggin' years already since he is gone, and I still feel myself becoming one of those widows who thinks her life is going to suck because the love of her life is dead.  I can honestly say that I do not see anything in my future that is seriously worth living for except for my children and down the road, their children.  I know that there will be happy days here and there in my life - graduations, weddings, births - and I look forward to seeing all this stuff happen for my children, but I don't see anything wonderful happening for me.  I feel as though I'm only existing instead of living.  I can't think of anything I want to do with my life.  I have thoughts about this or that, but nothing that could possibly bring me the same feeling of love and contentment that I felt when Bobby was here.

I don't want to be that widow.  I'm trying very hard not to be, but the song is correct....once I become this widow, how will I stop?  Am I there yet?  I don't know, but I feel it happening, and while I know it is my responsibility to get myself out of it, I really, seriously, don't know how to stop it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting my "Girly" Back

Back in 2006, Justin Timberlake came out with a song "Sexy Back".  I am not a big fan of the song, but in the song he said, "I'm bringing sexy back".

Well, I could care less right now about bringing my "sexy" back.  But I would love to bring my "girly" back.  They say widowhood changes who you are - your thoughts, your feelings, possibly even your essence - but who knew it would actually change the way I look?

When Bobby was alive, I wore more makeup, high heels almost every day, and lots of bright colors.  I have a great shoe collection!!  My nails were done most of the time as well.  I wear my hair long, and I used to take the time to straighten it almost every day because it can get very curly.  I would also wear dresses or skirts on a regular basis.

Now?  That great shoe collection is collecting dust because now I wear the same old pair of black flats every day to work.  (Once in a while I'll mix it up and wear the brown flats).  Gone are the bright colors.  I wear mostly muted and/or dark colors.  My hair is still long, but I cannot remember the last time I straightened it.  I wash it and go.  I've had my nails done off and on, but I usually end up peeling them off because they are annoying and they get in the way of all the new responsibilities I now have.  I stopped wearing dresses and skirts except for when I go to weddings.  I did wear a skirt to church this past Sunday for Easter, and I felt very uncomfortable in it, as if it was no longer "me".  And I devote about five minutes (if that) to putting on makeup in the morning.    I have no drive to put the time into being the "girly girl" I once was, because I am too busy worrying about all the things that Bobby had to worry about.  

Then there are all the things I've blogged about int he past...the most recently being changing the light switch by myself, and all the other stuff I seem to need to know and worry about like generators, car tires and taking care of the pool.  This is all the stuff that Bobby used to do, and it is all part of losing the femininity that I once had.  He used to tease me about "breaking a nail" or "another pair of shoes?" but it was always with love and affection.  He loved me the way I was, manicured nails and all.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Night the Lights Went Out

About a week ago, I flipped the switch in my bedroom to put on the light (which is part of a ceiling fan) and the lights did not go on.  It's not the bulbs, it's the switch.  So the switch has to be changed.

I knew absolutely NOTHING about changing a switch.  Before Bobby died, this would have been a complete non-issue.  Remedying this problem would have been so easy.  I would have told him the lights weren't going on, he would have mumbled something under his breath, went to the garage, got a new switch and changed it.  Fifteen minutes - tops - it would have been done and I wouldn't even be thinking about it anymore.

Now?  It's a huge issue!  And it made me angry.  I wasn't supposed to have to worry about stuff like this.  This was something that Bobby was supposed to do.  But now it was my problem, and  I had to make a choice - hire someone to change it or change it myself.  If I hire someone, that will entail getting a recommendation from someone, then calling, and trying to find a time when they will come out to do such a small job.  It's crazy, because whenever I've called anyone to do a small job, they never show up.  Apparently, it's not worth their time or effort to come out to fix something so small.  Then, assuming I do find someone willing to make an appointment to do it, I'll probably end up having to take at least a half-day off from work to wait for them to show up, and they'll charge me an arm and a leg.

There is also the issue of the broken switch being located in my bedroom.  I'm not comfortable with strangers being in my bedroom - not comfortable at all.  It drove me crazy when Bobby was sick and people were traipsing in and out of my bedroom all day and all night like it was Grand Central Station.  My bedroom is my private space as far as I'm concerned.

The other choice is pretty scary because working with electricity can be dangerous.  I could change it myself, which will mean looking up on YouTube how to change a light switch, then watching the video as I change it.  The only thing I know for sure is that I'll have to shut off the electricity before I attempt this.

The whole situation so annoying, and also a huge reminder, of how my life has changed.  What would have been a complete non-issue before Bobby died has turned into a big ordeal.

So I made the choice to do it myself.  I went to Home Depot and got a new switch.  I bought the most expensive one, simply because I figure electricity is not something to be messed around with.  It was $2.99 versus 69 cents, so I figured I would splurge.  I watched the video on YouTube, and changed it.  It works!  This is huge for me, since changing a switch is not something I would have ever thought I'd ever have to do. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rules Are.....

One of my favorite lines in the movie "Grease" (yes, I'm dating myself once again) is the line that Leo ("Craterface" from the other gang) says to Danny (John Travolta's character) right before the drag race, "The rules are, there ain't no rules."

I've been a widow for almost three years, and I've learned something very important – when it comes to grief - the rules are, there ain’t no rules.

I regularly read several blogs and Facebook posts about being a widow(er), and it seems like everyone has a different opinion of how to grieve, when to grieve, whether or not you can or should have closure, whether or not you should take down the pictures or leave them up, move or not move, wear or remove your wedding ring, whether or not you should date and/or get remarried, and how long you should wait to date if you choose to.  This list can go on and on.

What have I learned?  There is no one way, right way, wrong way, old way, or new way to grieve.  Each person has to grieve in the way that is best for him or her, and not worry about what the people around them think, and that means other widows and widowers, too.  We should not worry about what makes others uncomfortable, or cut short our grief because someone in our life can't handle it.  The people who matter will stick with you no matter what.  I find that there are certain bloggers with whom I agree with almost everything they say about grief, and then one day I'll read something and say to myself, "No way!"  There are other bloggers with whom I rarely agree with anything they say, but once in a while I may agree with them on one or two points.  Just like we all have unique fingerprints, our grief journeys are also unique.  As long as our grief is not abusive to ourselves or others, then whatever path that we take in grief is the one we are supposed to be on.

So basically, when it comes to grief, the rules are…there ain’t no rules.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Date and Time

It seems like the latest widow-blogpost du jour discusses the day and time that thier beloved died. One said, "Every Wednesday I think of him....." and I've seen others talk about the time their beloved died - "every time I see 1:35 on the clock, I think of that moment..." Comments like that.

And I feel like a slug.

Why? Because the time of day that Bobby passed away, nor the day of the week, reminds me of when he died. I almost feel like I'm betraying him because I am not thinking of him when these things occur on the calendar and clock. Am I the only one?

I do, however, think about him every time the date that it happened is mentioned. April 15. Tax day. The day the Titanic sunk. And the day that Bobby died. All around bad day if you ask me.  I'm sure I'll call in sick that day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Imagination Running Wild

I guess it is human nature to feel that the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence.  For me today, Valentine's Day, it certainly is true.

While my head knows that not everyone in the world is deliriously happy in their marriage, my heart hurts today because I'm being reminded all day that it is Valentine's Day - from the DJ's on the radio to everyone wearing red at work and flowers on co-workers desks, ranging from one red rose to large bouquets.  I picture my married friends getting romantic gifts from husbands who did not have to be hinted to or prodded.  I picture them at romantic dinners and staring into each others' eyes while someone else watches the kids.  There is even soft romantic music playing in the background of this scene in my mind where all they can think of is each other and how much they love each other.


Interestingly, this is not how Bobby and I spent Valentine's Day.  Sure, we always bought each other a card and a gift, and that card and gift more often than not came from the local CVS or Walgreen's and was picked up on the way home from work.  I got him the same thing every year...a box of chocolate covered cherries and a card with cute little animals on it.  He got the same thing for me every year, too - an expensive fancy card and a box of dark chocolate flavored candy.   Never wrapped in fancy wrap, but handed to each other in the plastic bag from the drug store.  I'm surprised that in 19 years together we never ran into each other shopping!  After work, the evening was usually spent running the kids back and forth to activities; helping with homework; and falling asleep early because we had to do the whole routine over again the next day.  The closest we ever got to a romantic dinner was his suggestion to call out for a pizza or Chinese so I wouldn't have to cook on Valentine's Day.  Even though we never did anything especially romantic on Valentines's Day,  I felt loved.  The Hallmark Holiday was just one more way for me to be reminded of this.

Now that Hallmark Holiday just magnifies the fact that I am alone.  But I guess I'm making progress.  It's my third Valentine's Day alone and it's 10:01 in the morning and I haven't cried (yet).  By this time last year I had already been reduced to a blubbering ball of tears, so I guess I'm making some progress.  I've chosen to ignore the day, so I'm wearing black and turquoise and making turkey hot dogs for dinner for the kids.  As far as I'm concerned, it's only February 14.  Just another day on the calendar.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"That Girl"

No, I'm not talking about Marlo Thomas.  (Boy did I just date myself...)
I had the TV on over the weekend, and caught part of a program where a guy and a girl were having a conversation about their relationship.  The guy was telling her how the relationship has made him “that guy”…a fun-to-be-with-happy-go-lucky person, where before he thought he was a little dull.  He kept saying, “I love being that guy.  I love that guy.  I would never have become that guy without you in my life.”

I know what he means, because I used to be that girl.  I was different when Bobby was alive.  I was happier, less intense, and a lot less jaded.  I cared about what I wore and making myself look nice.  I did not get angry as easily as I do now.  I never had to worry about things like car inspection, generators and leaky pipes - I was a girly girl and enjoyed being one. 
However, since his death I have become cynical and sarcastic.  I rarely worry about my hair, clothes or makeup, because I feel like there is no longer any need.  I have trouble trusting people.  I always think the workmen I've hired to do this or that around the house is "out to get that widow".  I wonder sometimes why my friends are still my friends!  I’m no longer fun.  Frankly, I wouldn’t even want to be friends with me now.  It’s even affecting my kids.  On the rare occasion when I smile, they will say, “Look!  Mom’s happy!” – like it’s a holiday or something.  I've been told that no matter what I'm doing or saying, my eyes are always sad.

I miss the person I was before Bobby got sick and died.  I want her to come back so badly, but through everything I’ve experienced, and everything I’ve read about losing a spouse, it’s not possible.  It’s sad, because it is sort of like she died when he died, and this new person was born.  I’ve heard I’m supposed to embrace this new person I’ve become, but how can I embrace her when I don’t even particularly like her?
So I set about to find out what is worth embracing about "the new girl".  I guess I should like the fact that she knows how to care for a sick husband while working full-time, raising two boys and surviving on little or no sleep.  She is continuing to raise those boys who are now teenagers, and who are doing quite well.  I guess I should like that she can take her car for inspection by herself; put together a brand new generator and run it properly; and stop leaky pipes temporarily while waiting for the plumber to show up.  She taught her 17-year-old how to drive.  She stopped worrying about the "small stuff" that used to bother her, especially at work, and saves her energy for the "big stuff" that needs her attention.  (She still confuses wrenches with pliers and nuts with bolts, and has no idea how to run the lawnmower or snowblower, but isn't that was 17-year-old sons are for?)
So I guess there is some good in this new girl.  I just wish I liked her as much as I liked the other girl, (who, ironically, did not realize how cool she was until she was gone).  I guess I just have to get used to this new girl, but I'll always miss that other girl, too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Duck, Caffe Mocha and Christian Music

Bobby always had a very limited palate.  He was not an adventurous eater by any means.  Trying to get him to try any new food was like pulling teeth.  If we were getting coffee, I'd get a fancy mocchacino, he would get regular coffee.  When we went out to eat, I'd try different things on the menu, like duck, while he would only get chicken.  And if chicken parmigiana was on the menu, he would get that.  No matter what restaurant we went to, he would get the chicken parmigiana if it were available.

After he was diagnosed, we were fortunate enough to be able to go on a family vacation with the boys.  We went to a nice restaurant one night, and duck was on the menu.  He completely surprised me by ordering duck!  I couldn't believe it!  Mr. He-Who-Only-Ate-Chicken ordering duck?  Who was this man, and what had he done with my husband?

A few weeks later, right before I left work, I gave him a call at his office and told him I was stopping at Starbucks for a Cafe Mocha on my way home.  He always told me that "Chocolate does NOT belong in coffee!" so I did not for one second think he would want one.  I offered to pick him up a cup of coffee, since we frequently got home from work at the same time, and he said, "Sure.  Get me a Cafe Mocha, too."  After I scraped myself up off the floor, I left work and picked up two Cafe Mochas from Starbucks.

One night a few weeks later, we were talking about food and the duck and Cafe Mocha came up in the conversation.  He told me that he was not particularly fond of either the duck or the Cafe Mocha.  I asked him why he tried them then, when he had been so dead set against it earlier.  He said it was time he tried new things, that he might not get another chance.

There was another incident when we were in the car.  He put the radio on, but instead of tuning into the typical Classic Rock station that he normally listened to, or putting in one of his Bluegrass CD's, he had the radio tuned to Christian music.  Now, although we are Christian, neither one of us is uber-religious, and on more Sundays than I care to admit, St. Pillow won out over St. Paul's, especially in the summer.  So I looked at him and questioned, "Christian music?"

"I need all the help I can get," was his reply. 

It dawned on me then.  Even though we rarely spoke about it directly, I knew he was dying, so of course he knew, too.  I cannot even begin to put myself in his shoes, to have on my mind that I was going to die soon.  That my life was going to be cut short before I was ready.  That I was leaving behind the love of my life and two kids.  He wasn't much of a deep talker, so he didn't often verbalize to me how he was feeling.  But all these little things that he did and said make me realize now how horrible it must have been for him. 

I'm so glad I gave him all the hugs that I did.  When he died, he knew he was loved.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I found out yesterday that one of Bobby’s colleagues passed away. I did not know this man at all, but he and Bobby were “work friends”.

As soon as I found out, my first inclination was to call Bobby to see if he had heard about it and how he was feeling. I knew he would have been sad to hear the news, and I wanted to comfort him if he needed it. But the fact that I could not do this left me feeling…well…very strange. It was the same feeling that I get when I know I’m missing something without remembering what it is; or that I had forgotten to do something. Or that feeling you get when you’re driving home from the grocery store, you know there is something that you forgot to pick up and you can’t think of what it is, and you feel as though something is incomplete. I don’t like it.

Despite this, my feelings also go out to this man’s family. I do not know if he has left a widow behind or not, but I wish his whole family peace in the upcoming days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thinking of Me

I know it is just a TV show, but Go On really hit the nail on the head in one scene when Ryan (Matthew Perry's character - the widower) was talking to his assistant, Carrie. He was making a real pain of himself, showing up where ever she was with her girlfriends to hang out, and making her work late simply because he didn't like going home to his empty house.  After all this, finally, in one scene, she tells him that he has to stop following her around, and he tells her that one of the things he misses the most is knowing that someone is thinking of him even though they are not together.  Carrie promises to think of him when they are not together, and even sends him a text when he goes to a basketball game reminding him to take an antacid if he plans on eating nachos.

If I had to pick something that hurts the most about being a widow, is the fact that Bobby is no longer around, thinking of me even when I am not there.  Nobody is missing me, or wondering if I'm taking care of myself.  It may seem selfish thinking this way, but I cannot help hurts.  He used to send me emails at work during the day that would simply say, "I miss you."  He would randomly hug me for no reason.  He would make me tea and rub my back when I didn't feel well, and I didn't even have to ask.  I hope he knew how much all that meant to me!!  They made me feel special, a feeling I haven't had in a very long time.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

It's NOT OK to Cry Sometimes

Some days are not meant for tears, no matter how much they want to come.

Experts and non-experts alike say that when you want to cry in grief, that you should cry.  It's healthier than holding it in and it helps the grieving process.  I agree with this, and there are certainly times where I've cried when it was not a convenient time.  But there are certain times when although it seems appropriate, it's not.  Today was one of those times.

My older son got passed his driver's test today, and he called me from the test center to tell me he passed and that I should meet him at the local DMV to apply for the license.  He was so excited!  When I got to the DMV, he was not there yet, so I grabbed a few forms for him to fill out and got in line.  While I was in line, I had a sudden overwhelming feeling of missing Bobby.  His son was getting his driver's license...a big step for a teenager, and all I wanted to do was cry because Bobby was not here to share in the experience, not only for his sake but for my son's sake as well. 

But it was not appropriate.  I did not want to steal my son's thunder, rain on his parade, make it all about me, or even all about his dad.  This day was about him, so I kept my tears to myself until I was alone.

Not an easy task, but when you're a widow, AND a mom, there are some things you just gotta do!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm Glad He Was Happy

Two days after Christmas and I haven't posted anything in a long time. Believe me, that's not to say that Bobby has not been on my mind. I think about him a lot all year, but especially during the holiday season when I am not buying him a gift, we are not shopping together for the boys, and we are not snuggled on the couch watching "It's a Wonderful Life" while trying to convince the boys that even black and white movies with no special effects can be really good.

But more than that, what's been on my mind is that I'm glad he was a happy person.  He really was...he even loved his job, which is not something I can say about most people I know.  The last part of the eulogy that I wrote for him that was read at his funeral said, "Many years before he got sick, I asked him what was on his bucket list. He said he didn't have one. He had a unique ability to find happiness and contentment with what he had." I say this because I've learned from him that death can come at almost any time and while we are here on earth we have to make the most of the time we have.

So that is how I am living my life and teaching my boys to live theirs, too. That is why I gave them a unique and fabulous Christmas.

Does it mean that I am no longer afraid of what my life will be after they leave and I am alone? No, of course not! I still fear that time! (See second and fifth paragraphs of this post). I still haven't figured out what I am going to do all by myself.  But I want to model myself after Bobby. I want to get to that point in my life where I am content with what I have, and I know that is going to be tough.

At least now I have a goal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Raising Boys

Shortly after being widowed, I read online an advice columnist telling a single mom that she could not raise boys on her own; that boys raised by single moms become surly, disobedient, and more-often-than-not gang members because there is no heavy-handed father in the house to put them in their place and teach them to respect their mother. He cited the day he had to shove his own son up against a wall for disrespecting his mother, and said the kid never again disrespected her after that. Of course I had to write in the comments section to say that I was widowed and what am I supposed to do in this case? I chided him for telling me that I could not raise my boys on my own.

The response was really weird. He responded that as a widow, the worse thing for me to do was to get remarried because in those situations, the stepdads usually end up physically abusing the boys, so we were better off alone. What a contradiction! Basically he was telling me that I was screwed if I do and screwed if I don't. What is a widow to do?

Stop reading idiotic advice columnists, for one.

I'll admit, I have a little trouble raising my boys, but not because of their behavior. I'm lucky to have really good kids. The trouble comes when they say or do something that I just don't understand, because I've never been a 14 or 16-year-old boy. If I had girls, I could try to remember what I was feeling at that age, but with boys, (like men), the thinking process is completely different.

I also worry that they do not have a male around to do "boy-things" with. There is no one around to show them how to properly use a chain saw or how to put up molding. I have no idea how to do these things because despite the fact that I have two Master's Degrees, Bobby and I really followed the traditional roles of men and women - I kept things clean and tidy in the house and handled the finances; he fixed things, took care of our cars and worked outside. (I realize that this might make some people, especially women, roll their eyes, but we were happy with this arrangement - it worked for us - but I digress...) Luckily I have cousins and the boys' uncles to show them things, but these people have their own families, houses and issues that need to be taken care of.

So while my friends tell me that I am "lucky to have boys" versus the ever-hormonal teenage girl, raising them as a reluctant single mom was not in the plan. I just hope they grow up to be all they can be, even though they had to grow up without a dad.

(And it should be noted that the columnist I cited above is no longer writing his column...he has retired).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, Generators and Me

Well, another storm - Hurricane Sandy - least for me.  I got my power back and I'm back to work after it being closed for seven days, not counting the weekend.  Just like dealing with Hurricane Irene last year, and the Halloween Snow.

I look back over the past two weeks - how I was proactive in preparing for the storm and the susequesnt bout of living without electricity for 7 days.  I filled my cars and gas containers with gas, shopped for non-perishable foods, used up as much perishables as I could before the power went out, (my kids never ate so much ice cream in a period of three days), stocked up on "D" batteries and located all my flashlights and my battery powered radio.  With the help of a few family members, I put out the feelers for a new generator (mine broke), and got one, even though they were scarce in the stores and people were waiting in line for 12 hours or more at Lowe's and Home Depot just to get one.  After getting the generator, I learned how to use the generator, (I never knew what a "choke" was until last week), and learned how to convert amps into watts so that I would not plug in too many items and blow up the generator.  I learned how to open gas containers (they all have these weird "locks" on them) and that gas should only be pumped into red containers, unless it is diesel, in which case the container is yellow.

During the storm, I kept an eye on my sump pumps to make sure they did not fail if there was a flood by running extension cords into my basement and having them ready to connect if the power went out while water was pouring into my basement.  I had everything ready to keep the kids and I as comfortable and warm as possible.  Both boys were a little bit nervous, but I admit that my older son, who loves extreme weather, and I did go out on the driveway during the high winds just to feel the power of Sandy.

After the storm passed, and we lived without power for one week.  I found a gas station that was open and waited 90 minutes in line for gas to keep the generator running.  In addition to that, I had to double and triple check the house every time we left since our alarm system was not working.  I also had to reassure my kids that we were safe when we realized that some our firewood behind the shed had been stolen.  I had to go to Home Depot to buy a chain, which is sold by the foot, and learn how to use that machine in Home Depot that cuts the chains.

I did a lot of things I never had to do before, and had to think about a lot of things I never had to think about before.

I handled this all on my own, without panic and very little tears.  Well meaning friends would tell me that I should be proud of myself - being able to handle all these important tasks that normally would have been handled by Bobby in this situation.  My head says I probably should be proud of myself for doing all this by myself.  One of my Facebook friends, who is married, posted about how she did not need her husband to do all this stuff (I guess he must have been at work) and how she was proud to be able to do everything herself without needing a man around.

My heart, however, is sending me a different message.  I don't feel proud of myself.  Why am I not patting myself on the back and smiling to myself and saying to myself, "Bobby would be so proud of me"?

I don't know why.  Instead, it's making me feel depressed.

I started writing this post on paper
 during the blackout when I  was
unable to use my computer.
During the course of the storm and the aftermath, I was talking to one of my friends about the generator that her husband set up in their home.  I asked her all kinds of questions about their generator concerning wattage, price, how it was hooked up, how much gas it held, etc.  Her answer to every question I asked was, "I don't know."  One of my other friends texted me that her husband wanted to take a ride down the shore to check on things, but wouldn't leave because he would not leave her alone with the generator.  After the storm, another friend told me that she and her husband decided they should buy a generator, but that it was $1000 and they didn't have that kind of money right now.  That price seemed pretty steep, so I asked her what kind, because I was thinking of getting a bigger one and the one I looked at was only $600.  Her answer?  "I have no idea."

I actually envy their ignorance!  Why should I have to know about all this "guy stuff"?  Instead of being proud of the fact that I was able to get myself and my two kids through the storm safely, I wished I was the one saying, "I don't know" because Bobby would be here taking care of me.  I miss being taken care of by someone who loves me.

What is wrong with me?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Double Whammy

Just when you think it is safe to not worry about any more "firsts", Election Day rolls around. 

I remember when Obama and McCain were running for president in 2008, Bobby and I had a few discussions about who we would vote for.  We didn't discuss it at any great lengths, simply because we were so much on the same wave-length, that there was nothing to discuss.  We liked the same candidate and had the same political opinions.  No discussion was really necessary.

On Election Day, we went to the polls and voted together while the boys ran around the gym.  (Voting was at the local elementary school in the gym.)  I think we went out to eat afterward.  It was actually fun.

However, this year, when I went to the polls (which was now at the High School since our local elementary still has no power thanks to Hurricane Sandy - more on that in a different post), I gave the woman my name and she looked me up in the book where I was supposed to sign to get my voting ticket.  And there was my the itself.  Bobby's name was not under mine where it usually was.  Here it was...thirty-one months later and ANOTHER FIRST to deal with.  My name looked so lonely in that book without his name underneath mine.  It was a perverbial punch in the stomach.  But I voted anyway, collected my now-teenaged son, and we went home.  Very uneventful.

So why is this blog called a "Double Whammy" you might ask?  Today is also my wedding anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary, my love. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

In Charge

Whenever someone would ask Bobby if he wanted to make plans, he would respond, “I have to talk to the boss” - that boss being me.

I was in charge of our social calendar.  I was also in charge of the bills, what we had for dinner, paint colors for the walls, where we went for vacation, you name it.  He was very happy to sit back and let me be in charge, especially since he had a somewhat demanding job as a supervisor of his department and he was in charge all day.  It was a chance for him to relax at home and just “go for the ride”.

After he died, I was in a situation where I had to re-do my bathroom.  (Water damage behind the tile – the sheetrock had disintegrated, the tile in the shower was being held up by a wing and a prayer, and there was a hole in the floor so big that you could wave to the person in the basement.)  On my way to the tile store, I didn’t think about the fact that I was going alone, because had Bobby been alive, I would have chosen the tile anyway.  But it was a completely different feeling when I was actually there, picking out the tile, alone.  I realized at that point that I did depend on him, a lot, when making the decisions that I made daily, even though it seemed that he was just there, “for the ride”.  I missed his approval for what I picked out.  I missed his opinions and input and the veto power that he had but rarely used.  I didn’t realize until that moment how much I was really not “in charge,” but that it actually was an equal partnership.

I’ve made several important decisions since he’s been gone, like taking the kids on a cruise and having three trees removed from our property.  And every time I make one of these decisions, I question myself over and over again.  Am I doing the right thing?  Would Bobby approve?  Would he have done it differently?

I hope he realized back then how equal our relationship really and truly was.  He knew I loved him, but I hope he realized how much I needed him.  I hope he never thought that I was taking over, felt “second” or thought that I didn't think his opinions mattered.  I wish I could talk to him one more time, and let him know how much he mattered in my life, and still does.

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Show on TV: Go On

When I first heard that Matthew Perry was doing a new show that focuses on a young widower named Ryan King, I planned on watching it.  Not because it's about a widower, but because I like Matthew Perry.  I probably would have watched it even if he were playing a guy who lived at the garbage dump on Staten Island.

I've often thought that you can make humor out of any situation, given the right circumstances.  I believe that the statement, "If you don't laugh, you'll cry" really fits a myriad of sad situations.  Grief can be one of those.  (I loved the scene about the license plates.)  Yesterday was one of those times for me.  I was talking to a colleague of mine who told me that her marriage was not going very well at the moment.  In trying to make her laugh - I like to make people laugh - I said to her, "Well, Bobby and I haven't spoken in almost 2 and a half years!"  She laughed.  Mission accomplished.

However, there are some people who cannot laugh about sad situations, and I support them.  I was reading a blog the other day written by a widower who basically stated that if a widow/er cannot laugh about their grief, they have to "grow up".  That's harsh.  I do not agree with that statement.  While I am one of those who can laugh about grief, I fully respect those who cannot.  

Sooooo....what do I think of "Go On"?  I think it is a great show, because even though the show is humorous, it still has a scene or two in every episode that exposes the reality of Ryan's sadness that he still feels about losing his wife, despite the fact that he is "going on".  That's important, especially because not only is it another way to validate how we widow/widowers feel despite what we show on the outside, it also shows those viewers who have not ever lost a spouse the depth and breadth of grief.

The down side?  The only complaint I have about "Go On" is Ryan King's character.  While I do like the character, sometimes I feel like I am watching what Chandler would be like if Monica died.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Remember When?

People who have not experienced loss of a spouse do not realize that for the most part, we, the surviving spouses, really appreciate when the name of our late spouse is mentioned.  We love hearing others talk about them, and are not offended or saddened when they are brought up in conversation.

Last night, I went to "Back-to-School-Night" at the high school where my kids attend school. Many years ago, Bobby worked there for a couple of years as a Technician, and he became friendly with most of the Business Education teachers because his office was housed in their building.  These are the people he ate lunch with and joked around with for many years, and he was well liked among the staff.

I was walking my son's daily schedule with the other parents, and during "Third Period", I went to my son's media class and saw the teacher, whom I've known for years due to her friendship with Bobby.  She was happy to see me, and after her presentation for the parents, commented to me how much my son reminded her of Bobby.  "Not so much in looks, but in his mannerisms."  It's true, my younger son does have a lot of Bobby's mannerisms.  She told me that she still misses him and her eyes even welled up.  I thanked her and hurried off to Biology, Fourth Period, where that teacher also commented on the same thing about my son's mannerisms.  She, too, was friends with Bobby and told me about the long chats they would have in the halls on her lunch break. 

Later on, during my son's "lunch period", I stopped to see the teachers in the Business Department Teacher's Room, to say hello.  I was greeted with smiles and hugs.  The media teacher who I had seen earlier was there, and we reiterated our conversation for the others on how much my son's mannerisms match my husband's, and how much he looks like him, except that he is a blond, while my husband had dark brown, almost black, hair.  I told them, "My mother-in-law told me that Bobby was a blond when he was younger, too.  It got darker as he got older."  One of the other teachers there who was close to Bobby chuckled and added, "Then it turned gray."  We all laughed at his comment, because it was true, Bobby was going gray and his hair was about 50% gray when he passed away.  

It felt so good to have him mentioned and talked about as though he was still there.  It warms my heart to know that this group of people still think about him and feel comfortable enough to talk to me about him and joke about him, as if here were in the room.

Maybe he was......