Christmas in July.

The 7 month mark for us is July.

I can’t believe I haven’t spoken to Jesse since before Christmas. I can’t believe he’s been somewhere else or no where else for more than half of a year. What has he been doing? Where is he?

I am still hurting but my feelings are in different places. I know I won’t ever get over it. It will only change. And it has. So I guess I will mark here those changes.

Our fridge with Christmas decor.

I’m trying really hard to take down my Christmas decor. I have made progress, but I can only chip away at things. To take everything down at once is much too overwhelming. When I move around or put back too many of Jesse’s things at once I always have a melt down.

This means if Jesse left out a pen, it is challenging for me to put it back where the pens go. I am erasing evidence of his existence.

So that leaves us stuck in Christmas.

Take the artwork off of the fridge. Take December’s dinner menu down. Take the garland from the top of the cabinets.

I was hoping by putting back up my non-holiday decor with the holiday decor I’d want to remove it. But nope. Just made more clutter.

Take the lights off of the front of the house.

People who drive by probably think we are lazy. “Those people still have their Christmas lights up and it’s July!”

But that’s one of the last things Jesse did. Sure the lights are starting to fall off but they are still hanging, for now.

I should probably take these down. Maybe next month.

It sounds strange but by taking photos and writing and I am able to take a bit more down. Putting it here is evidence of its existence. I am securing it’s memory.

Evidence that Jesse was here at one point and I didn’t just make him up. Because it certainly feels as though I made him up.

My best friend and I often speak about being frozen on the day he died. She is 30 and I am now 31, but when asked our ages we automatically say “29” in her case or “30” in my case. Our birthdays never happened.

Lately I have been having more secondary grief. I am grieving a lot for things that Jesse is missing out on. Things he should have done but was not able to.

I have a few select memories in my head that I have chosen to torture myself with frequently.

Here’s one of my favorites:

He’s been up all night. He never slept well. He gets up at 5am. Gets ready and leaves. He’s working by 6:30am, all day outside. He’s driving to work and wishing he could stay home. He has an hour drive. He has no idea he’s about to die that day.

Most days he is depressed now, really only the kids and I make him happy. He feels like he is failing. He feels like he cannot take a day off, we need the money. I text him around 11 in the afternoon. I tell him “next year will be good for us. I will graduate, it won’t be so stressful, just 6 more months.”

He’s about to die in 5 hours. He has no idea.

Around 3 in the afternoon he’s headed to the house. He’s North on U.S. 41. He has no idea in about an hour he will be headed South on U.S. 41, back to the hospital he just passed.

He’s driven some now. The AC is out in our old car. It’s really hot. He’s worked all day, he’s dirty, sweaty, and there’s no AC in his car. He is 5 minutes from the house, I wonder if he felt excited to get home at some point?

But in reality he’s about to die in 10 minutes. He has absolutely no idea.

I have the police report. I saw his x-rays. His head. The trajectory of his vehicle. The notes that it was a struggle for the paramedics to get him out.

He has no idea he’s about to snap his right femur clean. That his lungs will fill with blood. That his brain will swell. That his head will separate from the rest of his body. That his car will flip twice. That he will never see us again. Or anyone for that matter.

This grief is strange because I am longing for him to take a shower. To sit in the AC. To have his dinner. Brush his teeth. Something. Lay in bed and feel calm.

He doesn’t get to do anything. He can’t lay in bed after an exhausting day. He can’t play his game or listen to his favorite podcast. He died after working all day. Not rested. Sad. Sweaty. Exhausted. In his Google search history the last thing he looked up was “pain on left side.” I hate how he died. He was uncomfortable.

It really bothers me.

I am envious of those who die in the comfort of their bed. Yet I know so many widows… that I know that brings it’s own unique horrible issues too. There really isn’t a good outcome. I just think. A lot.

I think about this every day. I’m not sure why I engage in this self torture. It is likely my OCD. (That is what OCD is, torturous repetitive thoughts… NOT cleaning!)

The other thing that I am struggling with is anger. I’ve been pretty neutral (and by neutral I mean = namaste bitches) but I feel like I don’t want to do that anymore.

When I try to leave the house and it’s hot as shit outside, Wren is screaming, my back hurts, she has vomited everywhere, I forgot something… I find myself angry with Jesse.

It is super irrational. I know this. He didn’t want to die, but when I am at my wits end, my anger gets pointed to him as in:

“Thanks for fucking leaving me with 4 kids to raise alone! Like really alone! You’re an asshole for dying!!!!”

I had help here and there, but that daily grind? That’s all me. There is no dropping the kids off at Dads on Saturday. Its me. 24/7.

I do have this gem of a human being helping me now, but I’m awkward sometimes and hesitant to let him do more. What if he dies tomorrow? What if… what if…

I have no true anger towards Jesse, just heightened emotional states. I wait until these pass because I know he didn’t do anything wrong, it was just life sucking.

I do have anger towards “family” though. It is weird much of my support came from friends. Most of the judgement came from select family members. The special ones.

Jesse did me a favor when he was alive and taught me how to chill out. He taught me how to let it go. Or suppress it. Whatever.

But maybe I don’t want to do that anymore. Theres a fine line between letting it go and letting people treat you like shit. I’ve never been one to be quiet but out of some sort of weird respect for Jesse I learned to be quiet.

Sometimes.

And I’ve been the fan favorite since Jesse died. Not to people with any class though. It seems there is a common theme of mentally unstable people commenting about what I do or don’t do.

That anger is real. It’s not a heightened emotional state. Its more of a be careful because I see you and I will eventually verbally wreck you, watch your damn self state. Be careful I don’t post a blog and tag your asses state.

Do I actually care what people say about me? No. Because it’s either not true… or maybe it is true… but it’s that malicious intent. That desire to kick me when I am already down. That is what doesn’t sit right with me. The fake support to my face and then behind my back criticism.

Let’s hear it:

“She’s not even a widow. Lol.”

“She stressed Jesse out sooo much!”

“She did WHAT with the money! Omg!”

“Her new boyfriend? Yeah. She started seeing him only 5 months after Jesse died. They won’t last. She doesn’t really know him.”

Her relationship with Jesse wasn’t perfect, yet she is always acting like it is.”

“And evil takes a human form in Regina George. Don’t be fooled. She may seem like your typical selfish back stabbing slut-faced hoe bag, but in reality, she is so much more than that..”

*Okay so maybe that last one is a quote from the movie “Mean Girls.” It just felt appropriate but it is really totally irrelevant.*

Rarely is anything ever said to me. When it is, I gain respect for that person. Like I said, it’s not the thoughts, it’s the intent. It’s the fakeness. It repulses me and always has. Opinions are fine. Gossipy shit talking and weird displays of behavior are not.

I guess it is the human problem. The Freudian “id” if you will. That primitive nature to pin someone as a scape goat. The lack of a higher awareness to not do it. To make an attempt, a poor one, to hurt someone who is already hurting.. that is already so tired.

It is disturbing, yet…

common. Most widows deal with this at one point or another. The criticism.

For now, things have “changed,” as in I obsess over the unfairness of all of it and have allowed my anger to begin to come out. It’s not a stage. I am not in the anger stage.

The “stages of grief” model that nearly everyone knows is inaccurate. I could resolve my anger but it may pop up again in two years or two seconds.

Grief makes emotions go all over the place and frequently at that. I keep them in check but allow them to do as they need.

That Was Fast.

That Was Fast.

I have a boyfriend.

Weird right? That wasn’t in my game plan, but neither was Jesse getting internally decapitated.

Apparently, I don’t have as much control over my life as I used to think.

I didn’t intend on seeing anyone, but here I am. Especially after half a year.

Widows are given major shit, for two main reasons:

  1. That we somehow caused or contributed to our spouses death. I’m not making this up. It’s pretty common. (See “that bitch Carole Baskins”) and;
  2. That every one who isn’t a widow knows the appropriate date for us to begin dating again. Everyone is an expert except us, the ones actually dealing with it.

I believe that when someone dies those who don’t logically think out their emotions need to place their anger somewhere, so usually the wife is targeted. “She could have kept him home that day.” “She caused his stress.” “She could have… blah blah blah.” This is a common theme.

I have been accused of contributing to Jesse’s death, because that’s what predictable irrational people do.

But I’m not going to discuss prong 1 besides the small portion I just spoke about because anyone who thinks that is insane.

I didn’t think I’d ever be with anyone ever again. Not because I wanted to be a nun or a monk but because now I am this complex grief person and I felt like many people wouldn’t understand that. Also throw in a newborn and 3 more grieving kids. Also I never told Jesse bye. Yikes.

I started thinking of everything I would need from this next relationship. There were so many boxes to check that I literally laughed at myself and thought “yep this person isn’t out there,” but oh well. While I didn’t want to be alone forever, it’s not the worst thing thats ever happened to me so I shrugged my shoulders at it.

I’d have to find someone that was okay with a lot of things and this is kind of where my mind went:

  1. Letting me speak about Jesse as often or as little as I wanted.
  2. Wasn’t threatened by his photos in our house.
  3. Could understand the differences in my children’s grieving styles.
  4. Could handle 4 children.
  5. Understood I may want to publicly display my thoughts.
  6. Be stable.
  7. Not have any addiction issues.
  8. Not demean or belittle my feelings (i.e. likely someone that had lost someone too so they would “get it.”)
  9. Bonus points awarded if they knew Jesse.
  10. More points if they know the kids already.
  11. I am not a sports person. So i’d rather not date someone who wants to drag me to a basketball game every weekend.
  12. I am extremely blunt and don’t like passiveness.
  13. I need honesty. This one is one of my most important things.
  14. Was a clean person. I can’t be with someone who is messy.
  15. Treated me well.

Okay so maybe I needed a lot of things. I took all of Jesse’s positive qualities and then just added a ton more.

Those along with so many other things that I didn’t even mention here, you can see why the possibilities were so little. My most important boxes I wouldn’t negotiate. If the person didn’t have them I wasn’t going to deal with them. My minor boxes that I wanted checked, like: hey it would be cool if this person liked to dress up for Halloween with me, weren’t going to make it or break it, they were just extra. I was very amused with myself because the list was just so specific.

Widows do not want to “move on,” they want to “move forward,” as Nora McInery so famously put it. We want to take our person with us mentally. Not be forced to forget everything.

In the widow community, there are a decent amount of men that are jealous of the widow’s late husband. I did not want to deal with this but knew that there was a good chance I would. I didn’t see myself getting very lucky.

But I suppose I did.

Most of Jesse’s friends are married, but his one friend Scott isn’t. I’ve known Scott just as long as I’ve known Jesse. We all met at the same place 13 years ago. Jesse and Scott got along extremely well.

So well that we ended up knowing many people in his family. For Oraia’s first birthday Scott’s mom made her this amazing pumpkin cake that lit up and everything.

Oraia’s first birthday cake in 2013.

Jesse and one of Scott’s brothers ended up being friends too. From there I ended up being friends with his brother’s then girlfriend and am still close to her.

He is in the background of my children’s birthday party photos and I am in the background of his daughter Marina’s birthday party photos. The kids used to hunt for eggs together on Easter and swim at his house.

My family already knows him. His family already knows me. Just not in this capacity.

To me, this is really strange. My therapist says the reason its messing with me so badly is because I am a very well planned and organized person. I say something, I do it. I plan something, it goes through. I have an idea of what my life will be like.

Younger me said “find a husband, have as many kids as you can, own your house, be a lawyer, travel.”

That’s pretty much what I have done. So I have this false notion that I control things.

I don’t. Lol.

Jesse dying wasn’t in that 10 year plan. That really shocked me. Scott being my boyfriend wasn’t even…God that never crossed my mind. Ever. Nor did it cross his.

This video used to just be cute and now it means so much to me. It kind of symbolizes how things used to be for us. It’s a video that Scott took of Jesse using our front door to pull out Chloe’s tooth. Chloe thought it was so fun. Scott is asking his daughter if she wants to do it too and she’s telling him no way. Scott, like Jesse, is a wonderful father. They shared that in common.

But so much has changed and we are also different now than 13 years ago.

Scott understands and supports everything I do or don’t do. Jesse’s things are Jesses. They are left alone. He doesn’t want to alter them. He doesn’t care if his photos are up. He talks to the kids about Jesse. He talks to me about Jesse. He talks to me if I’m sad. He’s not threatened, he’s supportive. That makes me like him more and helps me “heal.” He is not a stranger to us.

Scott unfortunately is well-versed in trauma too.

Scott’s nephew, Alex, drowned in a pool a few years ago. He was 2 and about the same age as Scott’s daughter at the time. Scott had to pull him out of the pool and give him CPR, but it was too late. It made me sick to my stomach when I heard what happened and it still does. No one should ever have to bury their baby. Scott says that it was the worst funeral he had ever been to.

Just a few years later his mother died of cancer when she was 52. She was an artist and a really strong woman. She raised 5 boys and I can barely handle my 1.

Then in 2019, his younger brother Caleb died in a motorcycle accident. He was 27 and his beautiful girlfriend was pregnant with his child he would never know. Although I feel like an anomaly, there are people out there like me and one of them is Scott’s sister-in-law.

Also throw into this a mentally unstable woman he used to have to deal with. She is still unwell unfortunately.

Needless to say, Scott gets me. I knew all of these things about him yet I never put the pieces together, that maybe we would work out? It never crossed my mind like that, but Scott checks every single box.

Jesse has only been gone for half a year so while it was a thought on my mind I was not actively looking for someone to be with. Half a year doesn’t sound like a long time.

But it is. I’ve had to process my sad emotions much quicker than any other family member because I lived with him.

While other family members love him, it’s possible they only would have seen him 10 times in the last 6 months. While as the children and I are on our 183 day where he doesn’t come home. Other family members maybe sent him a text message once a month, Jesse and I spoke all day for years.

It is only slammed in our faces. Everyone else gets to “ease into it.” I’ve had to tear off many band-aids since he was gone. And sending my first text to Scott was definitely a band-aid to rip. I literally closed my eyes and hit send.

Not to mention I fully immerse myself in my grief. I challenge myself with something every day. I talk about it all the time. Many people suppress these feelings but it delays any possible recovery. I don’t want to rot, so I do every textbook thing I am told to do, as good as I can.

By acknowledging Scott as my “Chapter 2” (cannot fucking stand this word its so cringe but the widow community loves it- its the person you are with after your husband dies and generally its more on the serious side), I am showing the world that:

YES JESSE REALLY IS DEAD WELCOME TO MY LIFE.

I do not get to hide. The kids do not get to hide. We don’t have a safe space. We have a fucked up space.

Rochelle being Scott’s girlfriend and no longer Jesse’s wife is hard to fucking write or see. It was a challenge for me to even change my relationship status. I literally went back and forth with it because Facebook doesn’t have a poly option. But Scott didn’t care and that’s what makes him so great. I can be myself.

I ultimately did it because Jesse is not coming back. Ever. There is no point in telling Scott “Hey society says I should wait 6 years to see you so just go do something while I appease these clueless people.” No.

It makes me sad in a way because in the widow community many widows DO date and they always talk about having to hide their person from the world. It is extremely upsetting that these people feel as though they cannot be themselves. I will not hide anything and I strongly encourage other widows to do the same.

Scott makes me as happy as I could be in my shitty situation, to try and take that from me because YOU are uncomfortable is wrong.

I know many of my friends will be supportive but I am kinda speaking on behalf of all widows when I say:

Fuck you to those who aren’t.

Simply put, it is so selfish to assume you are somehow the master of time of when a widow may appropriately date again. If a widow finds someone that gives her even a smidge of happiness, YOU NEED TO BE HAPPY FOR HER BECAUSE WE ALREADY DEALT WITH SO MUCH SHIT AND WE CANNOT CHANGE ANYTHING.

Widows are highly criticized when they do try to date and it’s kind of ridiculous. Do I think a widow should remarry the day after her husband dies? Well no, that screams co-dependency to me. But after a few months or whatever it may be.. we should be able to date if we can muster the courage to do so. I was so terrified and I am glad I just forced myself to do it, like I do all things.

Another aspect to this is how our relationship is unique. I already trust Scott. He already knows my “secrets” (again lose usage of that word because I pretty much tell everyone everything), he has seen me in an argument, he has heard Jesse complain about me. We get to skip all of that. It kind of makes me feel like we have been together longer than we actually have.

Jesse was my best friend and in some weird part of my brain I wish I could tell him all of these things. Just call him and say “dude you will not believe what happened.” But I can’t. Ever.

The last aspect to this that gets criticism is: is it weird that it is one of Jesse’s best friends?

Nope. A quick Google search you will actually see this is the most normal situation, which I find amazing.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Alright alright. You get it.

I’m not saying I am marrying him tomorrow, but I am saying for now he is really great for me and hopefully it’s for a long time.

He has a dark sense of humor which I also have. We make our trauma funny together.

He said to me he thinks he will die around 50, so I will be widowed twice. Then he assured me “but this time you can prepare.”

And we both laughed.

Being with Scott doesn’t erase anything I’ve said about Jesse. I feel exactly the same about Jesse as I did a few months ago, there is just nothing I can do. No amount of sadness will bring him back. At least with Scott I get to be happy sometimes instead of just miserable 24/7.

Fuck Father’s Day.

If your child has a nut allergy schools will at minimum make an attempt to shield your child from it. Even if it’s a poor attempt they ultimately wouldn’t want a physical liability on their hands.

Oh no. It’s a scary photo of reality. Quick. Divert your eyes. You mustn’t see others pain!

What about if your child has a dead father? Or maybe their father died when they were very young or before they were born? Or while I’m there, an absent father? Or maybe you aren’t too great of a mother and have filled your child’s head with lies about their dad?

What about those kids?

Are there warning signs posted for them? Does the class have to pay attention to this child’s specific needs? No. because these needs are “mental”…except they aren’t because there are physical responses to grieving too.

The physical response is different but nonetheless becomes physical. One child has a potential to suffer from anaphylaxis. This is terrifying, so we pay attention. A grieving child is different. They lash out in ways we don’t understand, like you know, by holding a knife to their throat or laying in the street begging to be ran over by a car or crying in their room for hours or not saying a word.

But fuck those kids, am I right?!

Make them sit among their peers and sketch out things they love about their father with a shitty Crayola marker. Make sure you talk about their father ALL day. Hype them up ALL WEEK for Father’s day crafts.

Make sure you ask them and talk about what they love about their dad and what they are doing for the summer with their dad. Do this in front of the class.

Really rub it in their face and do it every year, please. Do it so much they have to learn to numb themselves so it doesn’t hurt as bad and become emotionally detached adults.

Really give yourself a gold star when you realize they don’t have a dad and you suggest with a smile “oh well I’m sure there is someone you could make a card for? there’s an uncle…or grandpa even? SOMEONE has to have a penis that you know right!?!”

Pat them on the head and feel good about yourself as you walk away because your job is done. That child is cured. Why didn’t I think of the replacement penis idea!? Profound accomplishment.

Can you tell its not the same or should I become more vulgar?

And no, this is in no way similar to a grieving exercise during group counseling. (Because those kids share a common thread=dead parent. They aren’t surrounded by reminders of living parents.)

A father is a special person, no doubt. When my life wasn’t a shitty Netflix series, or a compelling HBO drama, or a Lifetime movie, we did Father’s day crafts too.

But this was always in the back of my head. I just didn’t say anything. I tried to be sensitive when I noticed it, but I was so clueless of the silent chaos.

Since I am well aware of the chaos that ensues behind those little faces when they return home, I must say:

Fuck father’s day. Really fuck this day. Maybe year 5 of grieving for us we will do something cute and “remember the good times” but for us, in year one. Fuck it.

Here’s a crazy idea. It’s wild but hear me out. Respect and honor your father, if you have one, every day. Be thankful if he dotes over you, protects you, or hell, even says hi to you.

At this point we would take anything. This post won’t eliminate father’s day from the world and I am so ignorant in my grief that I don’t have a better idea on how to go about that day for my kids. But I guess I’ll learn how to navigate that one too.

Learn all this shit I really don’t want to learn.

First Time.

I am giving you a heads up now.

This is a blog about grieving and how it impacts aspects of my life. As the title suggest this one is about my first time having sex with someone after Jesse- but remember it’s a grief blog, not a porn site. So I won’t be sharing details like that.

Jesse has been gone for 5 horrible months. Jesse doted on me for 13 years. He brushed my hair, touched me, you name it. He was a very intimate person.

Then one day he was gone. Everything was gone. I didn’t get a choice. Life just told me “deal with this thing you are clueless about.”

A lot of people go without intimacy but I wasn’t used to it so on top of grieving I felt neglected but also confused about how to even approach it because it’s weird and I have all this baggage. (This run on sentence depicts my chaotic racing thoughts).

I asked another widow what I should do and she, like I have seen quite a few times, told me to go for one of Jesse’s close friends. She said they will know what to do.

And she was right.

So, because I’m such a classy lady, I text Jesse’s one friend and asked him if he would have sex with me- but to be forewarned I was going to cry. He said he knew I would too, but agreed.

Weird right? See no one talks about this, but this is really common in the widow community. We all share exactly same traits that are completely normal yet we pretend they are not and it’s a big secret.

I should add some widows don’t cry. They don’t “care.” Also normal. But I’m not on that side of it.

So he came over. It was a bit awkward, like my last blog suggest- I feel like a virgin even though I’ve likely had more sex than most people I know. When we did it I expected to cry and I didn’t. I was pretty okay. He was very sweet to me.

Then I laid on his chest. That was the trigger. Instant tears. Last time I laid on Jesse’s chest was to hear his heart beat for the last time and I tried so desperately to engrain the sound of it in my head so I wouldn’t forget it. I also always laid on Jesse’s chest too.

When I cried it didn’t scare him and he didn’t make me feel weird. It was as perfect as my fucked up situation could be. He held me and let me cry and we talked about Jesse. He said he missed him too and how awesome he was.

Normally that would likely be weird but in this weird grief world I am in that is very standard.

If I had been with a stranger and cried they likely would not have cared. They wouldn’t know who Jesse was. I’d have to explain my entire self if I started crying. But Jesse’s friend already knew. He just let me do what I needed to do.

He understood why I was weird about moving things that were Jesse’s and was extremely respectful about it. He loved his friend. He has also suffered quite a few losses so he just knew what to do and say. I didn’t have to explain.

He also brought me a bottle of wine and flowers. So he got bonus points.

I think it’s important to say that just because I checked another box of the “things that prove Jesse really isn’t here” list doesn’t mean I’m cured now. I’m still sad and upset. Im just also a human. When Jesse died I didn’t eat for 3 days, but eventually I had to eat. Eventually this had to happen. I’m not a saint. Im a paladin (Jess always used to say that).

If you read this and think it was too soon or it’s strange that it’s Jesse’s friend, it’s really not. It was exactly what I needed.

Someone who gets me, knows me, knows Jesse and respects the situation.

Life After Death.

My life is a joke.

Let me tell you what it’s like to deliver your baby when your husbands dead (hint: it sucks!) It boggles my mind that I am here and about to explain how I felt. That I am the one really living this.

My sister-in-law, Kayla, helps me a lot now. She didn’t sign up for that. Just like her husband didn’t sign up to be a widow whisperer (I’m not the only widow in his life unfortunately). But both of them do as much as they possibly can for the kids and I.

So my sister-in-law was the person who came with me to get my caesarian done. She was newly pregnant and blood makes her want to vomit. She was exhausted and wants to sleep 24/7. So she is a total champ for being up at 6:00am to watch a c-section be done (late I might add) at 12 then monitoring a newborn in the NICU until 5. She didn’t even eat that day.

At least my nurses thought Jesse was hot.

I was really anxious about my c-section. Jesse was my calmness through it. While his sister tried she is not Jesse. I’ve had 3 prior c-sections and the thing that stood out most to me this time during surgery was the noise.

I had never heard the noise before. The “scalpel”….”scissors,” being requested by the doctor. I never heard the doctor tell his assistant “see theres the bladder- its a bit scarred” (what does that even mean?). I never heard the cutting noise. It is like getting kitchen shears and cutting a piece of meat. It makes a snapping noise. It was really horrible to hear and despite Kayla’s presence I did focus on it. I didn’t realize how much Jesse actually calmed me down until he wasn’t there… Calmed me down or at least distracted me because he kept getting up out of his chair to see what was going on and was *yelled* at by the doctors to sit down.

I also felt the pushing much more intensely. When you have a csection, the doctors push and pull on your stomach area to get the baby out. You feel this pressure but not the pain. The pressure was extremely heavy and made me feel as though I was going to pop. Again, not my first rodeo, it’s my fourth- but my senses seemed to be more keenly aware of touches and sounds.

When Wren came out, the feeling of pure bliss and love did not happen as my experience 3 times before. I felt practical concerns- I was worried if she was okay or not. I did think she was beautiful. I knew I felt love for her. But I just also felt such confusion. Where is your dad at Wren? Why is he not here to see this? I know for a fact if he was still here we would both be beaming. We would have our typical private discussion that we had the most beautiful children. That they were so perfect and we were so lucky. We were a little biased and I miss it so much.

Instead it was silent as we watched the doctors get you to breath. Your aunt said you were so beautiful. I am not sure what I said. I know I was worried about your breathing but I also knew you would probably be okay. I had some hope. I also desperately wanted the xanax they had promised me. My mind kept going back and forth from “check Wren,” to “give me the medicine,” over and over. I was extremely worried that I would have a panic attack if I did not get it soon.

Jesse and I were always really open about sharing the c-section photos. We know this made people uncomfortable, but to us it was so cool. The moment when a baby moves out of a uterus and begins to thrive outside of it. It’s amazing. Kayla looked through Jesse’s old photo’s and tried to mimic what he did the best she could. This shot is pretty cool.

Unfortunately Wren could not breathe on her own despite numerous attempts so the doctors told me she would have to go to the NICU. Again, I was obviously concerned but I knew this also happened to babies born at 37 weeks- it wasn’t too out of the ordinary.

What I wasn’t expecting was that I could not go to the NICU with Wren and she would be there longer than 30 minutes. 1-3 days they suggested.

They put Wren near my cheek and then took her away. They allowed Kayla to go to the NICU with her.

Thanks for letting me see my kid for 5 seconds. Sometimes c-sections suck.

After Kayla and Wren left I was stitched up and wheeled back to recovery to stay for two hours, where the nurses kindly pushed on my newly cut open stomach the entire time to insure I wasn’t internally bleeding. That was more painful than surgery.

Once I was wheeled back to maternity, I was fortunate enough to hear a few newborns crying and subsequently see their fathers rocking them. I literally had to laugh that I was being wheeled back to the room with “no baby” and no husband. No anybody, just my phone. Throw in COVID restrictions- God was determined to make sure I was absolutely alone, apparently.

Back in the day Jesse would take the baby out of the operating room, Id come out and nurse the baby- then he’d let me sleep a few hours. The surgery always exhausted me.

That didn’t happen this time. My adrenaline was ramped up completely. I was wide awake from 6am on 3/18/21 and stayed fully awake until 4am on 3/19/21.

At 2am on 3/19 I made myself stand up. This hurt but the staff told me if I could stand I could go see her. So I did and really quickly. Again, not my MO… my MO used to be I didn’t stand until like day 2 and when I did Jesse made sure I didn’t even pull up my own underwear. TMI- but if you’ve had a c-section you would appreciate that. Everything hurts with a c-section, when you move it feels like someone is pouring hot oil on your stomach- so someone pulling up your underwear is a bonus.

But no- instead after 12 hours I stood up and walked to my wheelchair. I was finally allowed to see Wren at 4am. I held her for 5 minutes and instantly fell asleep. I suppose my mom adrenaline was just kicked into full gear so once I had her I shut off.

I woke up in the NICU chair realizing this probably wasn’t a great idea and placed her back in her little NICU bin. I told myself I would sleep for 2 hours and then come back.

Luckily (loose word) my friend, Amanda, worked in the NICU so that morning she was assigned to Wren’s room. I felt a bit better that she wasn’t alone and someone who knew me was with her.

Later that day Wren was given a bath and Amanda did her hand print along side her fathers. I am so thankful she happened to be working because otherwise it would have been more stressful.

My mom and mother-in-law were also allowed to visit her, but due to covid that was it. I couldn’t have anyone else with me. The nurses and social worker commented that I seemed to be doing “okay” given my circumstances. I was “okay” I suppose because of my anxiety. A social worker came in and evaluated me also. I have seen many a social worker since this happened. I can tell honesty isn’t something they hear often because when they ask the “do you have suicidal thoughts?” question I usually say “yep.” They always seem so taken back by that. It kind of shows me that a decent amount of people are lying…My husband just died and I am in the NICU with my baby that can’t breath. I’m not okay.

However, I won’t carry out the deed. I’ve made that abundantly clear. It doesn’t stop the feelings though.

Despite “doing okay,” by objective standards, I began to decline when my mother-in-law held Wren. That crushed me. My mom had already held her a ton, but for some reason the fact that Jesse’s mom was meeting Wren before Jesse…and Jesse would never meet her, just really screwed with me.

Wren was released later that day. I brought her back to maternity and tried to breast feed her. She was on formula in the NICU and Jesse was not standing next to me- so this resulted in Wren and I both crying for the next two hours. I kept trying to get her to latch and suckle but it was a struggle. I supplemented with formula (which she is almost weened off of) but it was not easy. Additionally, breast feeding increases my depression. This may sound weird as mother’s say it’s a “joy” to breast feed but for me it is not. When Wren latches it increases my sadness ten fold. It’s really strange. Usually when she feeds I will hyper focus into my phone because the sadness is so intense. Distractions are my best friend.

On Saturday, 3/20, I was asked if I wanted to leave the hospital. I said no but I had to- because of my other kids. They had not seen me but on Facetime since 3/18- and the last place they saw their other parent was a hospital bed so I had to make sure they knew this was different.

I sent pictures of Wren to her siblings and they were instantly in love with her.

These made me laugh. Chloe and Oraia are like oil and water. Only they could get in a fight over text about their baby sister.

Once the staff knew I was going to leave, they started preparing the discharge papers. That’s when the lady who had to complete birth certificate information came. Usually Jesse did this.

I’ve always been good at keeping every document, every card, photo. I’m glad I am this way.

This time Jesse could not do the birth form. No big deal right? Wrong. The woman began to tear up and she told me she was so sorry and that she had been dreading coming to my room all day, but under “father,” they had to write “unknown,” as Jesse and I were not legally married.

(I have a separate blog on this issue, see Marriage).

So Wren has his last name because I could put that down, but legally she has no father. *cue Maury*

Obviously I am fighting this. It won’t be too difficult to correct but just another pain in my ass thing I have to do, like I don’t have enough shit to deal with.

When it was time to leave, my parents were the ones to pick me up. This was so triggering. Jesse always wheeled me down and then pulled the car around. I am glad I have my parents but it felt so weird.

I started crying so hard. I probably looked crazy but this was so painful for me. My nurse came up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder and said “honey I am so so sorry.” My nurses were pretty great and I am glad for that.

Bringing Wren into my home felt so cold. Everything was so ridiculously quiet. It is crazy that a house with 4 children- one being a newborn- is so eerily quiet, but it was and still is. It’s one of the things I hate the most. Jesse was so warm and bright, so it felt like I was bringing Wren into our prison.

Despite this, the kids were absolutely thrilled to see her.

Commence fights over holding the baby.

Since then, it has been about a month. Wren makes the kids so happy and I actually have slept more since I had her. That sounds crazy… that I am sleeping a bit more now that I am a single mom to a newborn- but that just shows how upside down my life is. I am in no way getting good sleep, just a tiny bit more.

Wren has definitely helped our entire family. She is a bright light to us. I do struggle with mixed feelings of happiness and sadness constantly though. Happy to have her, but then sadness that Jesse does not have her. It is not fair to him.

Many people, myself included, think Wren looks just like Jesse and that she has very mesmerizing eyes.

When I stare into Wren’s eyes I see something different though. I see Jesse’s lifeless eyes in the core of her bright and alert eyes. I cannot unsee it. I stared into the eyes of my soulmate so intensely as he was declared brain dead by doctors. Then subsequently stared into the eyes of our last child as she was declared born and well by doctors.

Wren Jesse Pitts ❤️

Marriage.

I feel as though some people struggle to understand why some people don’t get married immediately- if at all.

Jesse and I were not legally married. If common law marriage still existed here we likely would be. I am not sure why it was taken away.

We held each other out to be the other’s spouse. We owned property together. We shared accounts. Had 4 children.

We just delayed getting married because it wasn’t about what other people needed- it was about what we needed. It wasn’t a rush. We were already together.

Here. Enjoy some photos of us at other people’s weddings.

When you are not married but you are in a long term committed relationship it does not mean you don’t love each other or its a pass for cheating. To my friends in this similar position of being “unmarried,” there is no shortage of love or loyalty in the relationship.

Actually, I sometimes think there is more, because what is holding you back from leaving? Certainly not marriage, or being afraid of losing assets. It shows you are there purely because you want to be. You are loyal not because of consequences- you are loyal out of love.

Cliche standards of what love is don’t matter. Love is what you and your person agree it to be. If it works for the two of you, it works.

Jesse and I always intended on getting married, but we didn’t get the chance. We figured after I was done with school perhaps. Just he and I somewhere- like Transylvania (yes, we are referencing back to Dracula)…or Ireland. Then maybe some small party back home to appease family.

I have a few messages like this. He wanted to just see “Rochelle Pitts,” one day. I will never understand why the universe was so cruel to him…

When I told Jesse I was pregnant with Chloe at 19, the marriage question immediately followed. He asked if we should. I said no and shrugged. Not because I didn’t care or didn’t want to, I just didn’t want to be married “just because” we had a child. I’ve seen this so many times and it drives me crazy. I’ve also seen people get married just because they are lonely. I’ve seen people get married just to settle or to get married just to be able to say they are married. I told him if we really love each other we don’t need it, not yet anyway. He agreed and we nailed down this philosophy together. Being intensely dedicated to each other without paper or societies view of what love should look like. It ended up working out well. Everyone around us could see it.

Practically speaking, I also didn’t want a court house wedding. I am kind of an all or nothing person.. give me the best or give me nothing. A $100 court house wedding just didn’t appease me. A $200 ring didn’t appease Jesse. The ring thing I wasn’t too concerned about- I ended up getting a ring from him, but he always said he wanted my wedding ring to be “1/3 his salary.” I don’t know where he came up with this concept and cant judge it because I wanted a wedding in a different country. But with all of our children and college- that wasn’t doable just yet. So no big deal, we just wait right?

Wait until after law school.

Except he fucking died 6 months before I graduated.

All of our hard work… and nothing.

He should be here to reap the benefits… but nothing.

All of this waiting… for what? So I can be alone and if I become an awesome attorney- maybe one day cry by myself in a Bentley? Go home to the 15 cats I own and quiet house? This pisses me off so bad.

The original goal was that I’d be a lawyer and we would save money and start traveling places.

Now I do realize this could be opposite.

Jesse and I had our first child at 19. We did things “backwards.” While I am upset to a degree I will never be married (weird saying that because I literally didn’t care), I am glad we picked kids first because otherwise maybe we never would have had them.

Unfortunately it did matter that Jesse and I were not married because it has effected the control I have over things.

Working at an attorneys office I had a will, power of attorney, etc and Jesse was named. Jesse didn’t work for an attorney- and I never pushed him getting documents done because who the hell thinks they are actually going to die at 32?

I know this would have upset him- if he wanted someone else to control things he would have listed them as his beneficiary as well right? But he didn’t. I am his beneficiary, because he wanted me to have and control everything- but I digress.

Us not being legally married has caused issues for Wren too. Again, my main thought being pregnant wasn’t “oh Wrens dad will die before shes born.”

While in the hospital, the woman came in to do Wren’s birth certificate. She was very distraught. She said she had been avoiding me all day because under “father,” she legally had to put “unknown.”

Wren and I both have his last name now, but neither of us are legally recognized. I recently changed my last name to his, which was bittersweet. I wish he could have seen it- he would have been so happy.

For Wren I am fighting this- via a dna test. When that gets cleared she will be recognized but until then she isn’t. This won’t change anything financially, but it is important to me that she has a father listed on her birth certificate.

That sounds absolutely crazy when I type it.

I suppose the whole thing frustrates me because at the end of the day- I know of couples where the woman is pregnant by another man, husband has no idea, but the state will recognize the baby as the husband’s simply because of the “presumption,” that it is his because they are married. Even couples that have separated are acknowledged. But Jesse and I? 13 years? Nothing.

I am pretty sure that Jesse and I have enough to support a presumption too. But they won’t change it without a fight.

At the end of the day, I still hold these same values about marriage. That it is not the marriage title that makes the couple it is the couple themselves.

I have seen and continue to see many hollow marriages. Marriages that give up when it gets too hard. Marriages that do not have open communication. Marriages that don’t broach uncomfortable subjects. Marriages that do not have growth because God forbid you call your spouse out on their bullshit. Marriages that don’t forgive. Marriages that are not accepting or understanding.

I suppose this may be why I have a hard time taking marriage seriously in the first place?

If Jesse didn’t pass, I still wouldn’t be rushing for the paper. I’d still be casual about it. Because I knew how much he loved me. I didn’t need others confirmation. I knew how we spoke to each other. How we always got through things… and how we always called each other out on our bullshit.

All widows should be recognized. Married or not. The pain doesn’t decrease because of a legal status.

Grief Adjacency.

This is a term we fun, life of the party, grief-stricken people use to describe those on the outside-who are in our circle, either trying to support us, ignore us, or give us well-meaning advice. They are grief-adjacent. Lucky them. I miss being grief-adjacent. I was on that side of it quite a few times. So ignorant to my friends or families pain.

Everyone is different but I would imagine most of us who have lost our spouse are on the same page with our grief and most of us do not appreciate some well meaning things. They are outdated and almost insulting as it shows little to no work or thought has been put into what was said. I assure you, if you Google it quickly, your phrase is a big no no. This list will be more akin to widows- but I am sure there are similarities throughout for other types of losses.

Here is a small list of things that are not helpful and better alternatives to help your grieving person:

1. “Stay strong.” “Time will heal.”

Strength has no place here. I hope if you are meaning “hey don’t kill yourself,” just be candid and say that rather than the strong thing. There is nothing strong about survival.

Imagine someone stranded in the wilderness. Their plane has crashed and they are the only survivor. They are shocked it happened. They are so cold, wet, tired, and nearly starving. They have severe physical injuries. Would it be appropriate to find them in the woods, tell them “hey you’re strong!” Then just walk away? No. They are merely surviving, the most basic of human instincts.

So don’t do it to your grieving person. Their plane of life has crashed also. They feel alone like they are the only one. They are likely not taking care of themselves like they used too. They have mental injuries so significant they would probably rather have physical ones. They also have physical ones, like panic attacks or even worse “broken heart syndrome” look it up.

If they end up finding their way out of the wilderness- they will likely have trauma or PTSD that last a life time. Hopefully with therapy or something of a like they can find a way to navigate themselves, but if they don’t you need to deal with it. Some people just don’t recover just like some people don’t live until there 80. Accept this shitty fact to reality. Listen to what your grieving person is saying and not try to spin it with some toxic positivity. Some things just are not positive. It says more about you when you fight it then it does your grieving person.

As for time, it is irrelevant here. My person left earth and they won’t be back next year. They won’t be back in five years. So how could you say “time will heal” or something of the like? If time heals me, then let time be the master. You do not speak for me or time- so just don’t say it. You are not the predictor of my future. You have no idea. Your person may not even be dead. I want time to heal me too but after speaking to a lot of younger widows, the consensus seems to be time doesn’t heal anything. It just becomes different at best. You just adapt in some weird way. I also know many grieving people years out that haven’t adapted at all. They are worse than they were the day it happened. It’s not that they didn’t try, it’s that the pain engulfed them. This has nothing to do with choice. We all have different brains. Our brains work differently. Some relationships are more intense- and I truly believe that impacts how badly they hurt.

Do I speak about him too much for you? Do you realize he was everywhere. Every second… and now he is no where.

2. “They are in heaven.” “Heaven/God needed him.” “I had a dream and they wanted me to tell you…” “things happen for a reason.”

Tread. Very. Lightly. Friend. Make sure our religious beliefs are the same or this will cause many problems. If your grieving person believes in the monotheistic God and you know them that way- then go right ahead. If you aren’t sure. Don’t say a word. It is NOT ABOUT YOU or where you think they are. It is likely what comforts you will not work for them.

Jesse and I had a friend, Brett, who passed a few years ago. It brought Jesse and I *a little* comfort to know Brett was *at peace* (he suffered with severe depression and his last few years on earth he had a rough time). We dare did not say this to his family, just each other. We were grief adjacent. Yes he was our friend, but we didn’t live with him, pay bills with him, sleep with him- and as vulgar as it sounds- we didn’t have sex with him, kiss him, have kids… you get the idea. Sometimes vulgarity is required to stress a point.

If you have another religion where you are a medium or something of the like- also tread lightly. We knew our person better than you did so you better be careful what you tell us. If you suggest they have come to you first or another family member they didn’t care too much for and not their grieving wife and children the bullshit radar is going to go off. If you are going to make an attempt make sure there is a more legitimate connection.

As for things happening for a reason, again, unless you are deeply in-tuned with our religious beliefs you have no standing to say this. You are a regular person, how could you know anything about why our loved one left? You don’t have authority to speak on it, you are a regular human, so stop.

3. “You can remarry.” “You are young.” “You have a lot of life left.” “Didn’t you enjoy things before you knew (insert dead person).”

These statements are akin to: If you have more than two children, pick the one you want to die, then just have another child. Would you feel better? Would that work? If you answered no then there you go. Our new spouse or whoever cannot replace our old one. They are different people. If you answered yes you either do not have children or you need to seek out a psychiatrist.

It is also likely we had a life before our spouse, that doesn’t mean anything to us when discussing our grief. We are in pain and likely depressed every second of our life. Anything that was “mine,” before meeting meshed into “ours,” at some point.

Example: Yoga was “my” thing. I went to it alone. I practiced it alone at the studio. I should still enjoy that right? Wrong.

I invited my spouse to yoga once and I remember how he was great at it (like he could do tons of variations of crow pose which require decent upper body strength and balance). I called my spouse after yoga and told him how it went. I would show him new moves when I got back home that I learned and he would be so impressed. If I wasn’t good at a move- he would help me get positioned into it. When I went, we had to make sure together he was off in time so he could watch our kids while I went. He paid for me to go to yoga. He listened to my new yoga music in the car when we drove. He made dumb jokes about some more provocative yoga poses I put myself in.

So was yoga just MY thing? No. It turned into our thing. Like every other single thing in my life. We enjoyed things TOGETHER.

Personally, for me, I am extremely depressed. Things that used to make me happy are not working (no shit). My energy is depleted. I had a full life outside of my spouse. I painted, obsessed over my career, decorated my house. These things I still enjoy somewhere- but it’s hard to be happy about them because they seem pointless. Why am I doing them? I am just going to die anyhow. My outlook on life is a bit tarnished and hopefully I am me again one day. But again, from what I have seen, a lot of widows feel the need to reinvent themselves and I also see that being a possibility for myself (which I don’t like).

4. “Let’s go here! That’s fun and will get you in a better mood!”

Nothing is going to put us in a better mood. It may at minimum be a distraction for a small second. Invite us to where ever it is and don’t add that you may have a cure for us. Because you don’t.

Just validate our feelings. Sadness, anger, darkness, whatever- it’s best to just go with it. We don’t like being on this emotional roller coaster either. If anyone wants off this horrible ride it’s your grief-stricken friend.

If we thought a fun place would help us, we would probably go. We won’t feel the same about normal places anymore like you will.

Example: I used to like going to Hobby Lobby and looking at home decor. I decided to go the other day because I remembered I felt happy there. My perspective has changed. It’s not the place, it’s my mind. No one can go in my brain and fix my mind.

Instead of seeing ideas for my patio, all I could see were their signs: “our love story is my favorite,” “so I can kiss you whenever I want,” “this is us,” “dance with me in the kitchen,” “home is where I am with you.”

I felt like I was being attacked in there and nothing had actually changed at their store- it was just me. The signs were so overwhelming. I went from someone who would be on the phone with their husband in Hobby Lobby, telling him “these signs are so cringe babe guess what this one says…” to being in there for five minutes and losing my shit. I started crying hysterically and had to rush out. My body felt like it was going to explode… Over a sign I used to roll my eyes at.

5. “Let me know if you need anything!”

Just text me. Even if I have ignored you the last three times. I am reading it. When you texted me I was in a certain emotion. Sometimes I respond. Sometimes I’ve handled a grieving child all day and I can’t move another finger. I see the message. It helps me not feel isolated.

When you put the ball in my court- it doesn’t help because it’s likely I am struggling to leave my bed, let alone dribble a ball and pass it back to you.

6. “How are you?” “Seems like you had a good time!”

There really isn’t something to replace a good old fashion how are you, but you can acknowledge that. My friends will often say “how are you doing- I know thats silly.” They say something to acknowledge they aren’t being insensitive until I don’t need it anymore.

As for the good time…My smile fooled you. Impressive maybe I will become an actress. I will never be okay or happy like I was. Maybe I won’t seem as wrecked some days and I cannot wait for those. It’s likely the minute I got in the car I cried my eyes out. Call me at 1am and see how I am then.

See. I’m being acknowledged, given options, and when I don’t respond it’s not taken personally. It isn’t rocket science.

7. “At least you have your kids.” “At least you have your parents.” “At least you have your pet.”

Yes, and I don’t have marital relations with any of them. I don’t have intimacy with any of them. Does that make you uncomfortable? It should because that’s how you sound to us. I don’t tell my 6 year old my adult problems. I also don’t want to share them with my dad. There is a reason for marriage. There is a reason in scripture it says one flesh. There is a reason for people being described as soul mates with a spouse but not their mother.

As open as I am and as my spouse was- there were things we did NOT tell people, even those close to us. We just told each other.

Ask yourself if you walked by someone with one leg, if you would say “hey at least you have another one.” No you wouldn’t and if you would there is something wrong with you. You have no business telling someone “at least,” anything when you didn’t suffer the loss.

8. “Put on your boot straps.” “Put on your big girl panties.” “Do it for the kids.” “Pull up your knickers.”

Will you be here every morning at 7am putting my panties on for me? Will you be strapping my shoes up for me right after? If you answered no. Then this is not helpful. I assure you we know “hey don’t let your kids die!” Is something that needs to be at the forefront of our mind. I assure you it is. No one wants to get their life back to normal more than a grieving widow. Our brains can’t be normal though because half of us is missing.

6. When you do help, make sure it’s how we want it done.

Respect how I or the children want things done. At first this sounds ungrateful, but remember it’s not about you its about us. Our brains are not working right anymore. Those gross leftovers in the fridge? To a person who isn’t grief-stricken..- yes toss them! That’s gross. To the grief-stricken? That could be the last piece of food our person took a bite of. It’s a shred of proof that they existed and we didn’t make it up. Unless you are our doctor, you don’t get to decide when we move it. We do. So don’t touch it. You will only figure these things out by asking and listening.

8. You can invite us to your engagement, wedding, baby shower, etc, but proceed with caution.

I can talk about this one pretty well! Because I had to tackle inviting my mother in law to my baby shower. Sounds fine. But this is the last piece of her son. A piece she will get to see but her son will not. I assure you if something can mess with someone it’s delivering your grandchild your own son will never meet/delivering your husbands child he will never see.

So my friend who set it up treaded as lightly as possible. Giving the option if it was too much it was okay. If a grieving widow can arrange this- surely a normal minded person can too.

If you are getting engaged and want to invite us, do so, but do it with a disclaimer. “Hey I am having this party, don’t feel obligated to go-but if you are able to feel free, love you.” If we don’t respond, don’t take it personally. Move forward. We are grieving and cannot handle much of anything- especially something like that. Anything that shows less than understanding makes you look like a narcissist.

9. Being cute with your spouse or telling your grieving friend/family members your plans with your spouse. Complaining about your spouse.

Again this is up to the individual but I know most of the widows I know scowl at this. If you are busy and we don’t ask what your doing don’t volunteer “ugh I haven’t seen my husband in 3 days! We are going on a date tonight.” Literally the most insensitive thing you could say. Don’t complain about your husband to us, you have other people you can discuss his issues with. We don’t want to hear about his dirty shorts on the ground. We would kill someone to see them there again.

10. Comparing the loss of (insert whoever) to your grieving widow friend. Comparing the widows loss to that of a divorce. Saying you know how you would respond if it happened to you.

While there is no standardized order. It HAS been said the worst lost is 1. Losing a child 2. Losing your spouse 3. Losing a parent/sibling. This is pretty agreed upon by society but definitely doesn’t account for other factors. Such as age or intensity of the relationship.

As for comparing it to divorce or a break up, unless you are trying to say we are dealing with both (the death and them not being here) do not say it is like it or it’s “easier.” I assure you I’ve broken up with someone and while it was hard, it didn’t ruin my life.

If you divorce on decent terms, like your spouse isn’t a total POS- this is no way like death. You likely have 50/50 over the kids. You likely have some sort of income or a chance to make income. At worst, you may have to see them with another person and that will hurt. There always remains the possibility that you two could find your way back to each other, even if that sounds grim and unlikely. You have a chance. There is hope for something. Death destroys even the tiniest unlikely glimmer- something humans desperately need.

If you never got back together with your ex-spouse; alternatively you could “be free,” to do as you please. You two agreed, however reluctantly, to not be together. When your spouse dies- you didn’t agree to that. You agreed “through sickness and health.” You agreed to continue to work on problems. The phrase “until death do us part,” is in there sure- but does anyone look at that and honestly think “ahh yes death at 32.” No. Or some widows that think they have eternity and were married for 7 months. Thats not what we take that for.

If you divorce on horrible terms, like your spouse is a total POS-this is still no way like death. Maybe you have full custody of the kids. Maybe your spouse moved to another state and said screw all of you. I assure you this isn’t like him dying because you still have choices. Your son, who is confused why daddy left, COULD call him. He would likely be ignored, but he has a phone number. He has something tangible. When your child is an adult they could choose to angrily knock on their father’s door demanding to know why they were ignored. There is a door to knock on. They may get no answer but that person is alive.

They have the possibility of hearing how shitty their dad is through others. That sounds stupid right? At least they can shake their head at it. They can check their dad’s Facebook and see he has a new girlfriend. Something. Anything.

With death, there is absolutely nothing. No good. No bad. Just nothing.

11. “It’s been 6 months.” “It’s been 3 years.” “It’s been 20 years.”

Wow yes and they STILL ARE DEAD AND NOT HERE. If anything, the longer time goes on the more things we can add to our shit list of “all the things they missed.”

My husband missed out on the birth of his last daughter. Which means every single thing about her he will never know. He will miss it all. It will sting every second. He missed 4 of his kids getting married- or he missed 4 of them saying marriage is stupid. Or maybe 2 get married and 2 dont. It doesn’t matter because every decision is missed. He has no idea who his kids became or if he had grandchildren. Absolutely nothing. So as time goes on, it just means more is missed. That is it.

11. Inspirational messages that are for mediocre problems not those grieving.

There ARE inspiring messages for widows but these are often confused with feel good quotes that are more directly correlated for staying with a diet or working towards a career. These messages are not the same.

12. Silver-lining bullshit. “At least they are not suffering.” “Look at all the good they did-they accomplished their goal early.” “You wouldn’t have (insert whatever) without them.” “At least you know love.”

All of that may be true, but I want both. I want my person to be alive and not suffering. I want to enjoy the good WITH them not alone. I want to have our things TOGETHER not by myself. I do know what it’s like to be loved! Where did I sell my soul to Satan for it and have to return it at age 30!? I didn’t!

13. “He can see you.” “He’s here.”

Maybe this is true. Maybe he sees me. Or maybe this is kind of odd if we think about it.

If I am with someone new, if we kiss, is he seeing all of that? Does he hover over me and watch me make 3 meals a day for 4 kids all alone? He’s just sitting there at night watching me cry for 2 hours and not doing anything?

That’s not Jesse. Jesse wouldn’t dare.

That sounds like its own form of torture- If Jesse had to “watch us,” he would be in more pain than what the kids and I were experiencing. So this seems strange.

I am sure there are more things I could add to this list but for now this is what I have come up.

When I sound like a broken record, when I still look sad, see how I see the world and show me empathy. It’s the least you could do.

Easter.

For 10 years we have done the same thing, but today will be different, like all days are now.

I will probably clean afterwards. That’s all I really do now. I will wait to go to my mom’s then your moms for lunch and dinner. Even though we are all your family, I am the only one that shows up alone and leaves alone. Sits alone. Thinks alone. I am spoken to, but it is not the same.

I will fill plastic eggs at night with candy, but you won’t be watching the door to make sure no one sneaks in. I will wake up at 7 and instead of distracting the kids while you put the eggs in the yard, I will have to do both.

I will watch the kids open up their Easter basket alone. Only two pieces of candy right Jess?

I want you to split the work of getting the kids plates with me. I want you to sit next to me at dinner. I want you and I to walk away from everyone and be by ourselves at some point. I want you to hug me or at least smile at me. I am tired of locking my eyes into my phone at every event because I am so hollow.

I will then drive 4 children back to our home alone. Walk in alone. Get them ready for bed alone.

When the kids are asleep, I will take my zoloft and go to bed, alone. I will stare at the ceiling alone and think of you alone until I am too tired and finally fall asleep.

I hate that we are both alone and there is a barrier between us. A permanent one that I cannot find. One where you are in complete isolation alone and I am surrounded by people alone.

I am glad the kids have each other, so they are not as alone.

Dark Places.

I write here when I am in my darkest thoughts.

I am so very alone. So are you. We both are now just in different ways. You are in darkness. I am not sure if you feel pain? If you see me? If you know whats happening? If you see us, I know you are torn to pieces.

Im going to say no. You wouldn’t allow anything to get in between us. So why now? So it must be darkness. Not sure what form. I am sorry it might be darkness- I know that scared you.

We were both agnostic. We both thought this was unfortunate. How lovely it would be to be comforted by Heaven. I wish. I’ve tried. I mean I got my degree in religion and attend a Catholic graduate school.

It doesn’t make sense logically and therefore I cannot get behind it. Yet, nothing makes sense also. What is sense? I know absolutely nothing.

I spend my day wandering through emotions. And rapidly at that.

At some point I am suicidal. I feel empty all day, but at some point it gets very intense. Too intense. Usually it’s at night.

The suicide hotline doesn’t help people like me. I am not saying it doesn’t help someone, just that someone isn’t me. The feeling is still there rotting in my core. Guess what? I do not care who reads this because I know many people feel this rot. Maybe not now they don’t, I surely didn’t before this. Now I do. I felt intensely sad before. I’ve even had bouts of depression here and there. But this? No.

How do I explain wanting to kill yourself? Hmm. So I suppose prior to this I would get upset about something and I would feel sad. Maybe it would be something pretty bad and I’d cry pretty hard. Maybe my day would be ruined. I knew it would pass though. It had to at some point and it always did.

This though, this is like you cannot walk. Instead of feeling sad someone has come to you and inserted a knife slowly into your chest. You are now trapped. There is physical tightness and pain. It’s pushing into you very hard. You just want release. Your brain is panicking not knowing how to release the figurative knife. Maybe you move some, the pain is still stabbing you. So you start crying, normally that works a bit. But here it doesn’t. It sticks around. So then you are begging your brain to please stop it. Your brain is clueless, no matter how many “coping mechanisms” you have been given.

So it says “end it.” It’s the only thing it knows. Truly knows. You may have exterior support but that’s not stopping the issue inside of your self that no one can get to. That uncomfortable itch cannot be healed by words or support. It just is.

I want to discuss this issue actively- not in past tense. When suicidal thoughts are discussed it seems to be in two limited ways. One being, “I used to have them,” or two being that the person actually went through with it. Neither of these are as helpful as saying it when a person actually feels it. People do not do this though, because of the consequences. So there is this weird line of we ask people to be open, but not too open. Fuck that. We do this with everything and I can’t stand it.

I don’t know if this is how other people felt, it’s just how I felt. The thoughts feel as though I haven’t eaten in three days and my brain is begging me to eat. Instead here it’s begging me to stop the pain and it’s suggesting it knows the way to do that. I tell it it’s wrong. Only because of the kids. How could you do that to the kids two times I say to it. I can’t. So suffering is the only option, not ending it.

My therapist has suggested the suicidal thoughts are another attempt at coping. Since this has happened my brain has thrown out to me so many weird “strategies.” This one is my brain saying “well, plan Z we could always end it.” It just wants to keep me safe and pain free. However 10/10 would not recommend the brain it’s not doing a great job with recommendations.

My therapist is aware of all these issues and says on the outside I am *killing* (icky word now) it. On the inside I am dying. All the great things I do for the kids: run them to sports, re-do their rooms, have every fun activity available at our home they could imagine… Surely I must be getting better… right? Everything is looking good. Objectively at least.

I have been depressed before. I even took medication for it. When we had an ectopic pregnancy in 2017 I became very very emotional. I almost died and I lost a baby I really wanted. I couldn’t go places without crying. If I heard a newborn cry I would get upset. My doctor suggested some medication, I don’t even remember which one. I was on it for a very short time. It made me a robot. I remember getting off it because I wanted to cry. I wanted to be able to have emotions. I remember feeling like I wasn’t a human without the hurt so I got off of them. It took me awhile, but I did come to terms with it. It makes me sad still but it was a different pain. It was more tolerable. That sounds bad. But I didn’t rot there I just hurt.

Here, I do not want to feel. Period. Emotions are not worth it. I have been keeping myself completely sober for the most part. I do take xanax and zoloft now. But I’m still hurting. I don’t plan to not hurt at all- just a little less would be nice.

I have thought about Jesse every waking moment since I got that nasty call. Every second. No breaks. No happiness.

I should be so happy right now. I have 4 beautiful children, I am almost done with school, I have wonderful friends, family support, I have a beautiful home. But no. I rot. I am so lost. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I have received nearly everything I ever asked for. I have beautiful babies. I had such a good spouse & father to my kids. Why give it to me just to take it away?

I’ve never “lived for my kids only,” before, but I am now. I love them more than I loved Jesse and this was the same for him. Them first then us, then whoever else. This is the only lucky thing or I would be done. I know this would be the same for him. We did talk about this. But if anything happened to them- it’s a free game. How can you live when your family is destroyed? Items mean nothing.

If you read this and your first thought is something like: “try tea before bed.” Ugh. Please just don’t. This isn’t me having a bad day. I so wish it was. I loved tea. Those were the days.

It’s trauma like I’ve never known nor wanted to know. I want to go back to my stupid bubble so very badly. This is why I wish Jesse was a horrible father and I wish he didn’t care about me so much- because I actually know I could handle the kids and life much better. I just can’t do it as well grieving him and I can’t do it with my grief and the kids grief and my confusing feelings about Wren and postpartum depression. It’s entirely too much. So I am going to take some medication.

*Luckily* I think I am understanding what brings on the dark thoughts. There isn’t a set schedule but I tend to have them more at night or after Raiden becomes hysterical or when I am coming home to an empty house. It’s those kinds of moments where they may creep in. They last about 20 minutes so I know somewhere they will stop- but as I said- in the moment my brain is trying to convince me this will be eternity.

I will continue to live like this. I really don’t have a choice. I am not strong. I just am. It makes people uncomfortable if I mention I hate my life or I want to kill myself- but I assure you this is young widow 101. I have met more widows than I ever wanted to know and they definitely express this to me. They just can’t express it to anyone else because God forbid people are allowed to be miserable.

Today I spoke to Jesse’s aunt. I told her my life sucks. She laughed and said “yes, your life fucking sucks.” It is what it is. Pretending it’s not shit wont make me better. I just have to hope eventually something gives- but sometimes the ladies who have been long term young widows make this seem bleak.

Until then I guess I will just have a shred of hope I am not in a mental prison forever.

Birthday.

Today is my birthday. I am 31 now. You are still 32.

It is also 3 months since you passed.

You knew me as strong headed 30 year old woman about to graduate law school with three kids and pregnant.

You don’t know me as this Rochelle, who is 31. In the deepest parts of sadness I have ever known. Not pregnant. Single mom to 4. Hoping to graduate still. Writing away and trying to figure out what the hell happened.

That hurts.

When October comes. You will still be 32. Nothing about you will ever change, but I will change every day.

Next year my birthday will come. I will be 32.

We were about a year and a half apart in age.

Today we are now a year and 3 months apart. Every day I get closer and closer to your age until I will eventually pass you. Your kids may even pass you.

I wonder how I will reflect on this if I live to be 50. You will still be 32. You will look 32. I will have wrinkles. I will sag. You never will. I may know what its like to complain of old age. Yet you wont.

I might get an “over the hill,” birthday card one day. Something you will never have. Maybe my friends will laugh when I get my AARP card one day- but I won’t laugh. It will just hurt.

When I hear people complain about their age now I shudder. I wish you could complain. I am not mad at them, I just wish they knew. I wish you could have been old.

I have no desire to celebrate my birthday. Like most other things, it only brings me disgust now. How disgusting I live on another year but you are frozen in time. I am here in March on my birthday but you still think Christmas is 3 days away.

I long every day to make sense of this chaos and nothing. I never get anywhere. I spend every second thinking of you and wondering. I make no progress figuring out where you are or why. It’s just a death sentence I did not deserve, nor did you.

Like everything else, my birthdays used to be great. Not because we had a lot of money or something, we didn’t. But Jesse made sure it didn’t feel any different.

We couldn’t afford a sitter, spa day, and resort with all the works. This always bothered Jesse so much. But it was okay, it was not our time for that yet. I was fine with it.

I did not need those things though. Jesse was such a good cook and brought me breakfast in bed. He always gave me a massage, not just for my birthday. All the time. His gifts were not costly jewels that cost thousands… they were gifts from his heart.

I do not know anyone else that would put in the labor to a gift of mine like he would. If he did buy me something that was not handmade- it was the best version of that item. He spent so much time reading reviews and comparing things to make sure I had the best blender or coffee pot there was, if that happened to be my gift.

I just miss his effort. It was unmatched. If we didn’t have money for mail ordered flowers or chocolate covered fruit that wasn’t going to stop him. He would grab the things he needed and make it himself or go on a search in the fields for the perfect flowers.

It is easy to swipe a card. It is hard to replicate these items without money because they take time. Something most people do not want to give. Jesse was a time giver. I had these things whether we had money for them or we did not.

I am sitting in my bed and it’s completely silent, besides the fan. I haven’t heard “you are going to have the best birthday tomorrow! I couldn’t get you everything I wanted to but I know you’re going to love it.” He said the same thing every year. I don’t think he would have ever been completely satisfied with whatever it was he was going to give me.

Today was pretty awful. My friends came and brought me lunch. I received tons of messages. But I hurt all day. I cried all day. I am mad I get a birthday and he doesn’t. I am mad my house was silent. I am mad we wont be going to a dinner this weekend or he won’t be cooking me one tonight.

Birthdays when your loved one is gone is just a nasty slap in the face. Salt in a wound. Life giving you an extra kick when it’s already beat the shit out of you.