Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paying for Petty

According to my calculations, it has been 12 weeks. It does not get easier. I don't think it gets harder, but in a way... I don't know. I'm still not used to the idea that I am not married. The car dealership sent me a survey. (Yes, I traded in the car because it reminded me of Tom, and it needed work soon.)  One question asked if I was married or single. I clicked married, of course. I knew it wasn't technically true, but technically, aren't I still married? We never broke up. He died. Goddamnit. Of course, being the spaz that I am, I clicked back twelve windows before I submitted the survey to fix my answer to that question. Because I lied, and I freaking care about lying on a Subaru survey? I guess I am single. But I'm not really.

Efff it. I still wear my ring, and I still use the hideous name of his family.

Funny story. When we were married, I had no intentions of taking his name. I changed it on a whim. I was driving past the DMV well over a year after our first anniversary, and I just turned into the parking lot. A fake (or ornamental) wedding certificate was in a folder the car for some odd reason. I took it in, and I changed my name just like that. It was no problem. All I had was my license and that stupid certificate. What a position of privilege. People just love young heterosexuals getting married, and I changed my name with no hassle and no fanfare. When I got home, I handed Tom my new driver's license. He looked at it, and then broke out into a huge smile. It threw me off. He was so freaking happy that I took his name. Ugh. I was equally appalled and pleased.

Really, I did it to rub the bitches that I was working for. I hated them because they were so hideous to me. Mean Girls? No. Mean Old Bitches. I won't even go into their ugliness, but their brand of feminism was not mine. They were scorned by men but didn't have the desire to be lesbians. Ultimately, it just made them angry people who were mean to everyone. I digress, though. Every time they introduced me, they used my entire name. Granted, it's a romantic French name that sounds super fancy to us Americans, but still. [I won't share it because this blog's anonymous, but whatever...] I traded it for a freaking German name. 'Nuff said. They were aghast and clicking their tongues over my forfeiture of self. The joke was on me, however. I was the petty one, and I have rued that rash decision for a long time. But now I can't change my name. I share it with the boys. They lost their father. They don't need the added stress.

Okay. That's it for this post.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Downs and Ups

Basketball season is about to start. Last year, we were driving kids four nights a week and splitting up for different games on Saturdays. This year, I'll be the sole parent, and we have drum lessons and orthodontist appointments added to the mix. Even if I get help, I don't know how I'm going to do it. What's extra depressing is that Tom coached before he was diagnosed. Even last year when he was doing chemo, he showed up and helped out our youngest's team. I'm crying just thinking about having to go into the gym and have all of the parents look at me with sad eyes. Mehhhh.

Last night, I went back and read a bunch of old entries here. It was more good than bad for me to do it. Life was so hard back then. It's a different hard now- more of a resignation than a fight. More sadness than worry. I remember before Tom died, I read a blog of a woman whose husband passed away from cancer. She has a son, and she wrote about how much free time she has now that she's not a caregiver for her husband. Perhaps it's too soon, but I'm not seeing that. I have to do everygoddamnthing now. Grocery shopping, cooking, yardwork, parenting two grieving kids (Jesus Christ, the parenting is enough to sink a person),  paying bills, and...of course...working a full time. As I type this, I am ignoring about nine hours of work I need to do before I am even caught up.

This here is a pity party, but whatever. I am in a dark place right now. For the sake of embracing some positivity, however, I will list five good things in my life:

1. My sister is coming to visit next week.
2. The weather has been crazy beautiful and dry. Weird.
3. I remembered to take out the garbage, compost, and recycling tonight.
4. The boys and I love each other a lot.
5. Camper shoes are really comfortable.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Slang

Shee-it. It's been a long time since I've posted.

I'm a widow. A widow. Fuck.  Tom is never coming back. Rather than easier with time, it has become harder to accept this. In the first month, I was surrounded by family and friends. I had a lot of support. Although I dreaded getting the mail, I'm gonna admit that getting gift cards and cash and checks slipped into condolence cards was a nice thing.

It's been nine weeks. The scaffold of good people holding me up is pretty much gone, as expected. I mean, people move on with their lives. That's cool. I'm serious. I can't be carried forever. Gotta get used to this new reality.

But really, I feel so    a   l   o   n   e.

This is it. My life is so different than I imagined. I mean, I kind of expected to live longer than Tom, but I did not expect to be fucking widowed at 40 years old.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Here We, I Mean They, Go

I hate preparing school lunches.

I love living in a city that starts school after Labor Day. That's the way I grew up, although starting two days after the holiday is a bit weird.

Heh. I am a teacher, but I am on leave. It's official! No first day for this widow. I'm taking a month to be around for the boys, take care of the bullshit paperwork and bureaucracy of surviving a spouse (so, so shitty), and to grieve of course. I spent way too long making sub plans that probably won't even be followed. Oh well. At least I did my part.

On a whim, I just bought us tickets to NYC for a long weekend. I gave the boys a choice- CA, NYC, or the Oregon Coast. They both chose New York. I'm so excited. I can't wait to see my brothers and the cousins. There's a new baby! Yay! For us, life is hard. School is hard. We need something to look forward to. Plus, now we won't feel tempted to go there over winter break. It's way too cold for me then. I'll take the dark, rainy days of the Pacific Northwest over being freezing to the bone.

It's strange to think about how long it's been since I have been anywhere other than in OR and WA. We canceled our trip to Vancouver, B.C. in July because of Tom's health. It's been over a year since we've been to the east. Damn. That's crazy.

Anyway, that's what I'm looking forward to.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Accepting Normal


Last week was hideous and hard and depressing, but I'm coming out of it.

Yesterday I remembered how hard it was when Tom was sick. Even if he had beaten cancer, if the tumor on his liver and mets in his lungs disappeared, the permanent damage was already done. Our lives would have been changed completely. He would never play basketball again. With a broken hip and a degraded pelvis, he would be in a wheelchair eventually. I'm certain he would have become an angry man, and I would embrace being a bitter, martyr of a caregiver.

Given the choice, he would undoubtedly opt to live, but it would have been hard. I will never forget how he looked at me with pleading eyes when I had to help him with the most basic of functions. He hated it, and we were both sad and scared. Living another year... sad to say even one more month...would not have gone well. Fuck cancer.

I am envious (inappropriate word) of people who get a terminal diagnosis. They can make plans and do whatever they want. Us? We hung onto the 5% survival rate for metastasized kidney cancer until the bitter end. He fought and fought. There was no fun. Vacations were put on hold. Everything we did was about making sure the chemo was working, fighting side effects, or building him up for his next round. Talking about death was believing his treatment wouldn't work; it was too negative, so we held it inside. We did not talk about him dying, nor did we ever mention any worries we had about the future. By the time I called hospice, it was too late to talk together. Cancer had already stolen his mind.

Only someone in my shoes can understand when I say that he is better off now. It destroys me to say it because we, our little family, are NOT better off, but he is. He is not in pain anymore. He doesn't have to chase opiate after opiate around the clock in order to roll on his side or to breathe without it feeling like he's being stabbed. He doesn't have to hate that he can't do the physical things he's accustomed to and expected to do. He doesn't have to impress people with how tough he is.

I am most proud to say that Tom left this world with his dignity intact. I made sure of that, and it was a lot of work. I don't think many spouses or people would go to the lengths that I did. To elaborate would be dishonorable. But it was important to me. I explained to people, "His dignity is also my dignity." I will mention one thing, though. I never got him a hospital bed. He stayed in our room, and in our bed.

In about an hour, it will be three weeks since he passed. I'm stepping toward what is going to be our normal. I don't like it at all. I want to scream out my windows and tell every person I pass, "My husband just died." But it's time for me to be okay. I promised him that it would be okay for him to die- that I would be fine and that I would take good care of the boys. I can't go back on that promise. One wonderful life was wasted, and that's one too many. I have to dig myself out of this depression. He would not want me in this dark place.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No Comparison

Today I went back to work. I'll do three days before I take at least a month off to...grieve, I guess. It felt good to be there and to be distracted.

Someone made the comparison of my life to the life of a divorcee. I chose not to bite off her head. Personally, I see few similarities. There is no hunger, no desire to prove that my life is better without Tom. That's because it's not, and it won't ever be better, regardless of how I adapt. I imagine that if you're divorced, it's because you chose to break up. Then you rationalize that it's better to be apart. Then you try really hard to have an OMG good life and want to shove that in the face of your ex. I imagine. I can't see any similarities between that scenario and mine.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's Not Your Tragedy

I should not be wasting time on something so stupid, and I hope that by putting it here, I can put it to sleep. When Tom died, the only person his sister told (aside from her friends) was his ex girlfriend. I know this because she told me this...on the day that he died. I'm not even kidding. She did. Even though Tom and I were together for 20 years, and she is not even friends with the ex-girlfriend who lives on the other side of the country, she just had to tell me that tidbit. My sister-in-law is either thoughtless or she is a Mean Girl.

Today we got back from the beach. On the porch was a bouquet. The card read "We are heartbroken. Love, Your Family at ________" It was from the place where Tom and I worked in Berkeley...sixteen years ago. It was a great place, and we both loved it there. It's where we met. We were the happily ever after couple that came from that place. I texted my sister and wondered if she contacted them. Nope. Then it dawned on me. The ex did! She worked there 20 freaking years ago! I took her job and her exboyfriend when she moved away.

All I want to say to his ex is this: It ain't your tragedy. Move on. You have no business being anything other than sad about his passing. Tom and I were committed to each other for 20 years! I am making a big deal, I'll admit. I guess it's just me transferring my grief to anger. It's not like she has sent me a card, but she is obviously choked up enough to go blab it to my old work before I can do it.