Let me first start off by saying my entire life this holiday has met close to nothing for me.
It’s a day to embrace love, but there is and was so much love in my house this holiday did not stick out to us. Also I dislike “hallmarky” holidays. I’m just not a mushy person and men get left out a lot on this holiday and I don’t like it. Jess always laughed at this.
Jesse would still grab things for the kids and I- and I didn’t complain- who doesn’t want chocolate covered strawberries? But the fact was that he would bring me a dessert like that at random through out the year anyhow. He would buy me something special here and there anyhow. Special breakfast and special coffee? I got those on the weekends, the only reason it wasn’t served to me in bed was because I told him that was ridiculous.
Our dynamic was very interesting and I miss it a lot. The way I showed love to him and to our children was in a practical way: making them healthy lunches, ensuring they went to the doctors, working on a career so we wouldn’t struggle, buying a home so we would have equity and not be tossing money away, making sure everything was clean, organized and in it’s place so there was less stress. Jesse showed love by making some extra fancy dinner or breakfast- one that would destroy how clean the kitchen was but taste so amazing. An example of this is his scrambled eggs. I guarantee you never had them like this and you won’t want it the other way once you have them like this, but here’s how you cook them:
Jesse showed love by making sure we had fun doing things. By fun I mean the kids had fun and I had a heart attack. He did all of the things that I did not think were a good idea because someone could get hurt.
Jesse loved by listening to what I had to say, not on a surface level, really trying to grasp the depth of pain I felt and look for a solution or understand my interest in it’s entirety. He loved by taking care of our home with such care and diligence. He never half-assed anything. Anything he was going to build or repair he spent hours making sure he did it the best way and the right way.
Anyways, now this holiday hurts. I spent so long not caring about it. Now, I care because it just reminds me of how much he loved all the time and that we wont be getting any of that ever again. He also won’t be getting it. It’s like a barricade has been set between he and the kids and I.
As much as I dislike cliche holidays, Jesse was the opposite to an extent and always had to get cards. He insisted each of us needed a separate card for each holiday. That means 4 valentines day cards, 4 Christmas cards, etc. I told him it wasn’t necessary we knew he loved us. Obviously now I am wishing I kept my mouth shut but at the same time he didn’t listen to me either most of the time so we have quite a few. I’m glad we have them now.
I am glad for writing. If we were silent to each other I wouldn’t be able to have *some* solace here and there. Since we wrote a lot and in various ways- I can almost always find something to answer an insecurity of mine. Valentine’s Day is a good example of this, because I can kind of replicate what he would have said to me so I don’t feel as weird.
Half of the time I find myself wishing he would have just signed the card “Love, Jesse.”-Like most men do. Instead he would jot down a small essay about how I was the best thing in the world. I find myself hating the effort he put in, when I once felt special by it. At some point during the day I am looking for ways to get mad at him. Anger feels better than sadness. But even if I think about our worst fight, it does nothing. I don’t have real anger, just sadness.
On the other hand, I want my old life back. Constantly. I’m stuck between all of these shades of gray instead of it just being black or white. I hate it. I hate that I cannot make fun of this stupid ass holiday anymore. I hate that everything is so different and there is no end in sight. There could only be an end if I stop loving him. Since I know that wont happen- I’m stuck. The feeling of being stuck is so horrible. No matter what has happened in my life at some point I would know “it can’t be like this forever.” But for this it is and I know it is. For someone to say it will be better one day tells me one of three things:
You are not a widow. Period.
You are a widow, but you are 87.
You are a widow, but your relationship lacked passion and authentic love.
“Better,” is subjective. Anything that is “better,” perhaps years from now is really a form of coping. An attempt to cope. That scares the hell out of me, knowing that if I am “better” one day it won’t be very authentic in my core. How can we be better missing one of us? It’s literally impossible. I’m not sure why this is so hard for people to understand. Actually, I do know why. Sadness makes people uncomfortable. I hope I am not always like this. I hope it more than anyone hopes it for me. But some things cannot be fixed. I won’t lie to myself.
If I lost both of my legs, I would hope everyday to grow them back. It doesn’t matter how much I hope- at the end I still don’t have legs and I never will. Maybe I’d put on a brave face. I could get a wheel chair. People would help to push me from place to place but then use their own legs to walk away from me. Eventually maybe I would get a prosthetic, but nonetheless, I am still permanently disabled. Essentially that’s how I feel now. I can never walk again. My “brave” face is doing things for my kids. My wheel chair is distractions I make up for the kids and I to get us through another shit day. People help us, but then they go to their home where life is normal. Any other relationship I may ever have in the future is a prosthetic, its not my real legs. I suppose these things are better than nothing, but they do not replace being able to walk on your own.
I guess the take-away here is go big or go home. If you love really hard, it will suck, really hard one day. Yes, you will get to experience something that little 90’s Disney girl dreams are made of- but if its ever taken away you will hurt so bad you won’t want it.
The alternative is not knowing a real love. You wont have the intense pain, but you may not have the protection either. Even though Jesse isn’t here I can confidently say that I know I am beautiful. I am smart. I am a pure person (or rather a paladin as he would say). I am all these things because he convinced me of it eventually, even if it took a long time. He said it so much my self doubt slowly but surely chipped away. This part cannot be taken from me and this is a small example. He did leave me with some form of protection I do not think I would have had. However I cannot clearly say which is better. I am not sure the pain is worth certainties.
In addition to dealing with Jesse’s death and all of the normal grief it brings- we also have the added fact that we lost him traumatically. This slows down the “healing” progress ten fold.
(Note: “healing,” I don’t know what I am talking about when I say that. I am mimicking what doctors say. Healing doesn’t seem like a real thing to me.)
So. Not saying death is easier in other circumstances, but it is. It just is. It is just easier to accept that your 95 year old grandpa passed peacefully in his sleep surrounded by loved ones than it is to accept that your 5 year old lost their battle to cancer in tremendous pain the minute you decided to run out to the bathroom. One is “more natural,” and therefore *should* cause less trauma. The other one isn’t “natural” at all. One is violent and demonstrates that the world is absolute chaos.
Unfortunately for me, I am stuck with the unnatural one. I had to make sure Jesse was gone. This met reading the accident report and showing up to the scene, tracing the steps of the car, picking up the remaining pieces of destruction left behind. This met questioning the doctors. Seeing his CT scans and his x-rays. Showing up to the tow yard, seeing his car totaled. Going through his car. This met asking what witnesses saw. This met checking his head in the hospital, his chest, shoulders, arms, hip… I scanned everything.
It met checking his eyes. His beautiful blue sometimes greenish blue eyes. When you are brain dead, your eyes don’t move. They are lifeless, empty black holes. This is something I have never seen and yes it is definitely scarring. Would it have been easier to keep them shut and not look? Yes, but then how would I know for sure? The less “what if’s” I left myself with seemed to be the best idea. Also, if it were me, I would hope that Jesse would make sure I was gone too before they took me. I know he would have checked me and looked at every painful thing too. That’s what sucks about loving someone as if they are literally half of you.
So I knew I was going to learn a lot of things I’d never unsee or not hear. I knew it was going to hurt and hurt forever. Even typing this hurts. But I had to so he wasn’t alone. I had to make sure if there was a chance he could make it maybe I would know about it- and that cannot be done if your head is in the sand. You have to look at all the facts, even if they are literally the shittiest facts I’ve ever seen.
When I got the call that day, at Target next to the tablecloth section, I was shocked but I figured he would be okay. Maybe he lost a foot. Maybe he had some really bad cuts. I thought that would be horrible but we can deal. We will figure it out. The problem came from the woman at the hospital NOT answering my “he is okay right?” question. She wasn’t able to tell me. Not a good sign. I basically began asking her in different ways, almost interrogating her, when she finally said “he is in VERY critical condition.”
I head to the hospital. The kids are tense. I feel sick. I’m not crying, I am in too much shock and also at this point still hold the worldview that anything can be overcome with enough effort. Our technology is great. Doctors perform miracles every day. Why would this be unique or different? At worst, I expected a 2 week coma- or maybe he’s even paralyzed waist down. I’m actually “okay” with these things because I knew if anyone could work through them it would be us. I’d push him up a mountain in a chair no problem. It would have sucked but we had gotten through some pretty difficult life events, this would just be another check on our list.
Getting to the hospital though, my memory gets blurry. I still see myself in the waiting room more anxious than I’ve ever been. I still hear some family members saying with confidence Jesse will pull through. I see my mom’s face knowing he wouldn’t but hoping she was wrong. Our immediate family and close friends are there, pacing and waiting anxiously- some already crying. When the woman came out, she hands me Jesse’s wallet and phone. I click his phone screen and there is my unopened text sitting on the locked screen “Hey dude, you good? The kids and I are worried.” It had not yet been read. Not a good feeling. The woman is still there and about to give me an update. I was expecting her to say “fractures, hematomas, lacerations…” I am looking for these key words. I do get these words from her eventually, but the word I get first is: AOD.
I tried typing the layman term for it and I can’t its too hard. I also tried typing the medical term, also too hard. So right now, you all are stuck with an abbreviation of the medical term and if you Google it 700 things will come up, so good luck trying to figure it out. I just can’t physically write it, which is saying a lot because I have a website dedicated to this shit.
Hearing this, at some point I know I am on the hospital floor. Super dramatic. I know I am extremely confused. My mind is telling me “Uh hey, people don’t recover from that you idiot.” but then I am also at odds with myself and replying “Um, yes they do? People can do whatever they want. People recover from crazy things all the time, stupid brain, what do you even know?” The doctors made it very clear they tried everything they could and they could not just fix this one. I start just repeating myself “okay I need to see him.” I don’t even care about diagnoses at this point, I am just feening to get next to him. They take me up to the 8th floor, but that’s blurry. That memory barely even exist.
I am sitting next to Jesse and asked to see “it.” Jesse had a decent amount of injuries, like he had broken his femur clean, things like that. All of those however, maybe would have left him with some problems but they would have been fixable. The AOD wasn’t. It’s a rare thing that happens and it’s caused by whiplash. At some point I am screaming at Jesse in my head “of course YOU of all people would have something like this!” (illogical I know). But now that image of the CT scan is permanently stuck in my brain. I don’t see it ever leaving. Normally, I’d describe it down to a T, but again, nope I can’t do it. At night, the reason I cannot sleep, (besides living in total hell) is because when I close my eyes I see that scan and I see the moment it happened. I see the jolt. I hope he didn’t feel it. I hope he didn’t know. A horror movie on repeat, if you will, with no resolution. It’s no way to see someone you love and adore. The kids do not know this part, simply because they haven’t asked. One day, I may have to explain it. As open and honest as we are- this is extremely challenging for me. How do you tell innocent children such a traumatic detail? I don’t know. I do know not telling them, when they ask, is wrong.
During all of this, I also have to tell the kids what is currently happening to their dad. Telling the kids their father is dead is…I don’t even know what that is. Prior to any counselor advice, I head down to the first floor and sit with them outside in the grass. It’s dark. I tell them some form of “this is not looking good,” because technically he had not “passed” yet, even though he had coded twice. They were upset but still struggling to get exactly what I met. I am not sure exactly what I met, because in my head I still thought “yeah there’s no way this is really happening.” My description of events will be somewhat accurate from beginning and end, but middle parts will be mixed up because days blended. I think I slept 20 minutes in three days and I ate one single Lay’s chip. One disgusting Lay’s chip in which I had to turn around and not face Jesse because how dare I eat something. He cannot eat. This may seem absolutely nuts and prior to this maybe I wouldn’t understand- but I understand this more than I’d like to ever know now.
The kids then went to stay with their Aunt and Uncle. I stayed with Jesse. He passed at, I think it’s 10:41pm “officially.” That was a motherfucker to type out… The next morning the counselors there give me advice on the kids, you can’t lie. You can’t sugarcoat, if you do, it will screw them up more. Good thing I’ve never been much of a sugarcoated anyhow. So not only do I have to tell them but I am also going to have to use the “D” word for the first time (I know I say it freely now but the first few days I could not get that thing out).
Chloe and Oraia came up to see him. Also some of the worst images that are in my brain. They were pretty hysterical. Chloe immediately made it clear she didn’t want to see him like that, with the tubes and eyes closed, and began panicking that the image was in her brain. This sounds bad, but you are supposed to let them choose what they want “with guidance.” This is the part where she turns around from him and ask him “Daddy are you coming to my birthday party?” By this point I have had to have discussions with the kids that I jotted down nervously in my text app on my phone. I also send this to my sister in law, because she had Raiden and had to instruct him also, per what the grief counselors are advising. What chaos.
Because of COVID, Jesse could not have a lot of visitors, which was unfortunate because he had many many friends. My phone did not stop going off for 3 days straight. I wasn’t annoyed by this, it offered “distraction.” While living at the hospital I pretty much just took him in. I spent a lot of time smelling him. Looking at the different colors in his beard. Birthmarks and scars on his arm. Dirt and callouses on his hands. I had seen and known all of these before, but I really took them in, because it was the last chance. I couldn’t speak to him. I couldn’t tell him anything. It was quiet in the room, besides the machine beeping. So all I could do is look at him silently. I still cannot believe I won’t ever see the scar of a lighter on his left arm, from when he was a much younger and made an attempt to “look cool.” Or the scar above his left hand where he tried to help Chloe super glue something, but then somehow it got on his skin and instead of being patient he ripped it off. These once seemingly insignificant things about him I sat and soaked in. It sucks. I wish I was still living in a time where I didn’t really have to ‘”soak in” a super glue scar.
For another day or so, I pretty much lived at the hospital. We were asked if Jesse wanted to donate his organs since he qualified. Apparently, even if it’s listed on your driver’s license, most people do not qualify. It’s actually not common. You have to go in a certain way, be of a certain health, etc. Jesse wanted to donate his organs, we did have this conversation, so I knew the answer. I didn’t want to though because donating organs met admitting he is gone. Not because I am selfish- it’s just part of trying to comprehend and accept what’s really about to happen. Someone is about to take Jesse’s heart from him. I laid on his chest and listen to it beat.
His Mom and I were tasked with having to write out a short speech on a small card about Jesse so when he was wheeled to the operating room the doctor’s could read it before they began…whatever they were doing (I hate thinking about it). We did this. It was hard because I could write essay after essay about Jess (I mean I’ve dedicated a whole website to him and I’ve told like 5% of him), and now I had to fit Jesse down on a 3×5 card? Not my speciality. I did it and tried to pick the most important, straight to the point things.
On Christmas Eve, the kids and I spent it in the hospital with Jesse as we waited for the planes to get there so they could transplant his organs. The planes were delayed, so we ended up getting the whole Christmas Eve with him (I say that like it was nice or something). Normally, Jesse and I would be getting the kids tucked into bed. They would pass out and I’d snap photos of their faces sleeping. Jesse and I would set an alarm and either he would be tasked with building something (like a trampoline or a playhouse), and I would do smaller gifts and stockings. I would always be super paranoid about the kids catching us.
Instead, the kids sat in the waiting room. I was on the 8th floor. Waiting. Around 11:40p.m (I remember this because it was such a wtf is happening moment to me, it’s literally 20 minutes until Christmas and I cannot for the fucking life of me believe I am really doing this- I still don’t), we get notified “it’s time.” The nurses ask if I wanted it recorded and I say of course because I’ve always been obsessive about photos and videos. Basically it’s like a hero walk. They wheel Jess from the top floor, the staff lines the hallways. I stayed on his side and our family and close friends were behind us. The staff allowed 10 people, which met a lot because of all the restrictions. Doing the walk is very surreal. You are literally walking your loved one to a place of coldness. Where any thing that was once alive about him will be gone. There will not be the sound of machines anymore. Just silence. He will be surrounded by strangers in a few minutes.
Then you leave him. Leaving is the hardest part. Yes. I was aware he died 3 days ago- but at least I could hold him. At least I could set his hand in my hair like he used to do. At least I could pretend. At least I was near him and maybe he knew that- maybe he had no idea. I had false control over the situation because his body was in front of me. I know it’s happening but I still think there is a chance. (If you think that is crazy, I am over a month out now and a part of me is still sitting here waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out say he’s punk’d me. He’s not going to. I know.)
I do not remember a ton of what happened between that and his funeral. Christmas was that morning and my family set up the kids gifts. I did nothing. The kids got up. It was not the same. It was so weird. They wanted to be happy for their presents and were- but there was just this eeriness. It was made more complicated because we had all gotten Jesse presents and Jesse had gotten us presents. In true Jesse fashion, he did not wrap mine. Chloe had to go on a hunt for them (they were hidden in the garage) and wrap each one. She made this her priority. She still does things like this-as I have said earlier, control offers her some comfort.
After Christmas and Chloe’s 11th birthday had passed (it was about a week) we had his funeral. His funeral was scheduled the day after Chloe’s birthday, lucky girl right?
People who had experienced loss had one thing to tell me. They warned me of the coldness.
At the hospital, he was essentially being kept on a heater. If I held his hand for too long away from his body it would start to get a little chilly, but not the same coldness I was about to feel a few days later. At the funeral, I was afraid to touch him a little, like for a second. It was only a second because in my mind, again, I am thinking “Jesse is cold I need to be cold.” When I touched him it was strange. That initial touch is like an unhappy sick version of jumping into a cold pool. Instead of “getting used” to the water or having fun, you remain in a state of sickness, sadness and shock. Despite this, I continued to touch him and I kissed him too. I really didn’t think I would ever add “kissing a dead person,” to the list of things I’ve done but now I can say I have? The kids also touched him. They wanted to see him so we did an open casket. I wanted to see him too. The kids complained they had put way too much make-up on his face, and they were right- he did have too much, but he also needed it as there were too many scrapes and cuts. Chloe was uncomfortable with the smell. It smells cold. I don’t know how to explain what cold smells like.
Raiden left his dad rocks, plants, and acorns, which we placed on his chest. The kids and I also left him notes. Someone recommended that to me. The funeral lasted about 4 hours and I did not sit down or leave Jesse. Period. I stood almost the entire time and just greeted person after person. It was a revolving door for 4 hours. Again I didn’t mind, it was a false distraction. Most (don’t second guess, you read that word correctly) of the funeral was pleasant. As pleasant as a funeral for a 32 year old can be. Jesse and I have a lot of caring people around us.
After it was done it was time to leave. This was for real, the last time I would ever see him, cold or not. After that he would be ashes. I made sure I was the last person to say goodbye. It is literally the worst feeling and surprise, time doesn’t make that go away. Time does not make saying goodbye to someone who you spent your creating your adult life with better. It actually seems as time goes on it becomes worse. It just sets in more that this is now the remainder of your life.
This post doesn’t go over my daily trauma, you know like “oh hey should we have pork chops for dinner?” and then the kids yell “NO!” because we ate that with Jesse. Then I suggest chicken, steak, or beef and those are all a “NO!” too, because dad ate those too (we are making progress on this). This just covers the aspect of sudden traumatic death. The nasty kind. The kind where unless I pass out, I am not sleeping. How could I? If you think about it for longer than a few uncomfortable seconds- you would see this actually guarantees the kids and I are NOT crazy.
What is crazy is to PRETEND LIKE EVERYTHING IS NORMAL. Absolutely, freaking, nuts. If you advise someone who just went through trauma to resume to their former self, YOU are the one that is uncomfortable. YOU are the one having the issue. When someone dies it is normal to feel anger, sadness, stabbing, lack of breath, like you name it. It is normal to be numb. Every emotion is normal- except the one that someone tries to force. Except the one that someone expects out of you. The best you can do is be neutral, gentle or kind. This isn’t the same as meaning well and it coming off wrong, I am talking about just plain ignorance, that you haven’t spent more than a second thought on what you are about to articulate.
For that reason, I will protect my children and I at all cost. If I feel crossed…if my children feel crossed (i.e., like if you tell them to not talk about their father in front of you because YOU feel uncomfortable). You will be made aware. I cannot promise that I will make you kindly aware, you may get a “fuck. you.” from me because guess what? We lost the most important thing to us- we are not afraid to lose you as well. We know it won’t hurt as bad. The trauma we have gone through pales in comparison to any loss we would feel from losing something else, unless it was each other. We are the ones that deal with this every. single. second. We are the ones that are so painfully aware of his absence. We are the ones that have not heard the garage open to him coming home 39 times now or have eaten 117 meals without speaking to him, and it has only been a little over a month. Do not tell me or my kids, how to act after enduring not only the loss of Jesse, but traumatic loss, unexpected loss, untimely loss.
I didn’t think about this one a ton. I always assumed I would lose my parents first, as that is the natural order of things. I also contemplated losing a child, as that is very extreme and seemingly more likely (Did you know the leading cause of death in children under 5 in Florida is drowning? See what I mean?) If I was REALLY going to lose my spouse it would be when I was 65 or something. That’s what I thought anyhow.
My best friend lost her mom to alzheimer’s when she was about 27. I researched as much as I could so I could try to help her- or at least not say the wrong thing. Prior to this, a close friend of ours lost her 20 year old daughter in a motorcycle crash. I again researched as much as I could so I could try to help her- or at least not say the wrong thing. Guess what. I still have no idea, and I just hope I remain in this state of ignorance as long as possible regarding those two things. They both have similar feelings of grief and questions about death as I do- but the pain is different and it’s hard to explain. So I will explain my side of what I know now. It’s nothing I could really fathom, unless of course I sat down and read a blog like this one. Maybe then. No… actually reading would give me a better understanding but I still wouldn’t know.
Since our chances of dying are 100%, maybe we should spend more time talking about it. It’s the only thing that’s really guaranteed in life and yet we all avoid it- we don’t want to talk about it because it’s not nice.
Prior to Jesse dying, if I thought about losing my spouse for a second, I’d think “Wow, that would devastate me. I would miss him so much. I couldn’t kiss him. The kids would be so sad, he’s such a great Dad. I’d cry every second!”
This isn’t a guidebook to losing your spouse- it’s my personal experience, but it comes in disgusting waives of disgusting emotions. Most of my widow girlfriends (ew, why is that a thing for me now), would likely agree it’s like this- but everyone is different. People who lost their spouse at more of a “correct” time, wont have as many voids as I do, but may have other things that I don’t. Just depends on the person and timing.
I do not cry every second, but I am in pain every second. There are milliseconds I feel “okay.” It is much more of an intense longing then simply wanting to kiss him or hug him. I literally crave him. Like I am in the desert on my third day without water. I am a thread that has been undone and am fraying to nothing. I want him to touch me. I want him to grab my side when he walks by. I want to hear my phone go off and know it’s him. I want to reply and feel good at his response. I want to discuss what we are eating for dinner for the 2000th day in a row. I want to get mad at him for something. I want to be annoyed that he mowed the grass and missed a spot. I want to tell him I am worried about something. I want to tell him what the kids did or didn’t do. I want to tell him what a friend or family member did that made me upset, made me laugh, made me happy. I want to put my cold feet on his back when he’s sleeping and watch him shriek and then laugh at him. I want to see his car pull in. I want him to tell me his fears. I want to tell him it’s okay and hug him.
For 13 years- we have spent time meshing together as one person. Even if we didn’t like all of the same things, it doesn’t matter. You would think I could hold on to music and shows I enjoyed prior to knowing Jesse, but I cannot because I wasn’t happy with my life until I met him. If anything, those songs and shows just remind me of being unfulfilled. It doesn’t matter whether its negative or positive, my timeline is intertwined with Jesse’s and now it’s demolished.
When you are with your spouse- you naturally just adopt ideas and thoughts with them, even if you don’t notice it. Maybe your spouse loves football and you hate it. It doesn’t matter though because now you know on Sundays you will be watching the game and eating wings or you know that because you hate football you will be out with your girlfriends for a few hours. You become intertwined with a schedule, even if you wouldn’t be doing that single. At some point, your spouse will want to speak to you about the game. Even if you hate football, you will listen. You will listen so much that you may eventually have a shred of interest in it. You will hear so much that you will eventually know when the ref. makes a bad call. If your spouse dies, even though you hate football, it will hurt to see it. It will also hurt to not see it.
In our earlier years, Jesse listened to Howard Stern. I have no interest in Howard Stern, but since Jesse liked him- I know so much about that man I may seem like a superfan. I watched his documentary and heard his show in the background of our life while we did yard work for years. I know all the characters and crazy things they did. But, I didn’t really care for him (at first) nor would I willingly just watch/listen to the show. This same thing happened for Jesse. Jesse listened to me for years babble on about religion- to the point where he should have held an honorary degree in it. The same is true for law school, he actually got to a point where he too could recite the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, just from being around me. Jesse didn’t give a shit about the FRCP, but we were so intertwined, that it just became that way.
Now I want to hear Howard Stern. It will make me smile for a second- but then I will feel disgusting. Jesse doesn’t get to listen to him anymore. How is that fair? So then I wont listen to him. I’ll turn it off. If Howard Stern is in the news, I’ll think about Jesse.
Losing your spouse-unless they do absolutely nothing-means losing half of everything you have. So many things have broken or needed attention in my house in less than a month. My computer broke, Raiden’s bike tire became flat, our electric outlets stopped working in the kitchen, maintenance to our well and AC hasn’t been done, my trash isn’t taken down. I can go on. I knew Jesse was “in charge” of these things, but now that he isn’t here the absence is so loud. I take my trash down now and it feels so weird. I have to ask for help, a lot. Asking for help sucks.
Losing your spouse means no dates to your favorite breakfast place. No sitting across from them and smiling at their face. No laughing at them when they spill their coffee all over the place. No panicking for napkins to wipe it up with. No embarrassment as people stare at you and you attempt to be normal. Nothing. It means when you see other couples doing this on Sunday morning you feel rage towards them and hate them- even though they have no idea who you even are. Then in the next second you are crying at them. So you look totally crazy and they are just trying to drink their coffee. It means you go to bed alone. You shower alone. You eat alone. But all with the expectation that someone should be there. The expectation that someone should be there forever.
Losing your spouse means you have created a second time line. There are two universes in which you reside. The one you are currently in and the one that is the “what if he was still alive?” timeline. In the one where they don’t exist. You make every decision alone. Every decision you make, friends and family no longer judge it as that’s just how you two parent- they question it. Because God forbid anyone is capable of making a good decision as a single person. Not that I like making decisions alone, I just don’t have a choice. I would always look to Jesse and ask what he thought. This could range from “oh we need to have the birds and bees talk with the kids” to ” should we make them eat more broccoli?” See. really important things and pretty minor things- neither can I ask his opinion on. There’s no talking, there’s just me doing my best and trying to figure out what Jesse would say. I think I am pretty good at guessing what he would say, but what if I forget? What if I am wrong? The permanency is unwavering. I cannot do a single thing without hearing his name or thinking of him- whether he would be involved or not.
Losing your spouse means your life becomes the ending of the movie The Sixth Sense. You know, the horrible scene where the wife cries herself to sleep on the couch watching their wedding video. That’s what I do. All the time now. When the video is playing, I feel kind of happy. The minute it’s over. I cry hysterically. I repeat this for hours, until I am so exhausted I pass out. I don’t sleep anymore, I pass out. It’s the only way I can go to sleep. If I try to sleep naturally- I see very horrible images when I close my eyes. Ones I will discuss later, because, you know, trauma is just so much fun with all of these layers.
Losing your spouse means whatever was in your imagination for your life will have to be completely reformatted. Did you picture going to Colorado together? Did you picture going to the movies on Friday night? Did you picture eating spaghetti for dinner and you waited for him to say “ugh again?” but there’s nothing. Did you talk about your retirement or what your kids would do when they are older? Did you talk about how cool it will be to be a grandparent? Did you talk about how you need to get out of debt or pay something off? It’s exhausting being slammed in the face with these things every two seconds.
Everyone else gets to go home and be “normal.” They may feel sad but they likely get to go home and hold their spouse for comfort. Whereas I have a pillow and a sobbing child. Not the same. No one is there to comfort you but you and maybe some stupid blog you post. People try and it’s awesome that they would be so selfless. They may give you a hug, but all you think is 1)This doesn’t smell like Jesse 2) This doesn’t feel like Jesse 3) They are hugging me because I lost Jesse, otherwise, it’s likely they would not be here because Jesse and I would be doing something.
This is why when people say “oh sorry I brought up so and so, I didn’t want to make you think about him.” I never stop thinking about him. If I am doing something to distract myself that’s new- I know I am doing it to distract myself because Jesse is not here. If I am doing something Jesse always came to, I think about all the times Jesse and I did that. See? Can’t escape it.
Your husband always has your back, even if you are dead wrong. It’s you and him vs. the world. The “world” could be an argument with a family member- on either side. Or maybe a friend acting out of line. Either way, you know you will have his support. You get to retreat to your safe spot, your home, together, and shake your head at what happened. Unfortunately, now I am alone. Jesse had the sword and I had the shield. I no longer have a sword and my shield is broken to pieces. Anything I have to battle or navigate I do so alone. I consult myself. I can say “Jesse would say…” but that really doesn’t matter, because he’s not saying it. He’s not standing up for me. My voice isn’t as loud, no matter how loudly I scream.
Losing your spouse means one day your nest will be empty. Sometimes other widows will say I am lucky because we had children together. They are right for that. I think it would be worse if we had none or lost all of them. However, it also means a day will come where my children leave and I am literally alone in the house. I will have no one to take care of or look after constantly. I will still call them and help them, but they will all move on with their own beautiful lives. What will I do?
I am 30. 30. Thirty. Am I supposed to never be with anyone ever again for 55 years? That doesn’t sound great. On the other hand, I don’t want to. When you lose your spouse to death and not divorce, this interesting shit element comes up of being unfaithful. I cannot discuss this with him and I wish we spent more time on this topic, so maybe I’d know? I only know that I specifically told him if I died, to find a good woman who loved our kids. I am pretty sure he told me if I found someone he would haunt the house (thanks Jess, very helpful). That doesn’t leave me with a lot. I don’t want to be with another person for a million reasons. Here are some:
It feels like I am cheating.
I would feel empty. Even if I remarry and the person is great, they are not my spouse. I would just have two now. Two spouses- I deserve a TLC show and may as well be a Mormon.
I would feel unfairness. Jesse doesn’t get to remarry. Jesse doesn’t get to do any of what I am doing. This feels like betrayal. If I am so intertwined with him, how do I explain living and moving forward- he doesn’t get to experience that. How is that fair? But then for me to suffer alone, I know he really wouldn’t want that. These feelings are at complete odds. I am pretty sure if he were alive he wouldn’t be please if I had another husband. He’s not alive, but our relationship still is.
I would feel gross. Whoever may be in my life will not be Jesse. That is 100% guaranteed. How do I plan to get over that sick feeling? I am not sure. Not only that, this person has to accept 4 children that are not his and a wife that is still in a relationship. There is no getting around this because I refuse to take his photos down and I will absolutely not be silent about him. Honestly, the only man I can think of that would be able to understand something like that… is Jesse.
I would feel confused. Being with someone else on Christmas or having them watch Jesse and I’s children open gifts? God that is weird to think about and I literally have to think about it now. I cannot avoid it. Someone else who is not Jesse staying in our house and making breakfast on Saturday? This doesn’t sound appealing. It sounds confusing and disgusting. I will have to accept this at some point or accept being a cat lady. There is no in between here. (Note: I already have 4 cats…so…)
This aspect of losing a spouse is definitely one I couldn’t understand. As I said earlier, my idea of losing a spouse was “I’d cry all the time and miss him.” Now I am seeing all these different aspects of it, like how would I enter another relationship? I technically cannot. At least in my head right now that doesn’t seem plausible. It doesn’t seem like that would ever be plausible. I don’t feel like I need anyone. I am pretty self-sufficient. I am just bringing this up because I never really considered it and now it’s such a weird thing to think about.
Today was really hard. Every day is really hard. I still think this isn’t real and I am making up some crazy story to everyone, all the time. I want to tell him so badly about everything that has happened. I want to reflect on all of these events with him. I want him to know how it screwed me up, his family up, my family up, our kids- in ways he would never be capable of thinking of. I want to tell him how quiet Christmas was without him, how we went to bed at 8 and it was silent, compared to last year where we were up for hours surrounded by friends, family, and fun games. I want to tell him how my doctor appointments have gone and that my contractions are getting more intense. I know he would be worried. I want us to watch our show at night with some ridiculous plate of charcuteries that we would eat even though we weren’t hungry we were just being extra. Losing your spouse means literally every tiny aspect of your life changes against your will and your spouses will and there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing.
I’ve always wondered about this and now I get the fabulous opportunity to try it out. Watching all of your children sob uncontrollably and you cannot do a single thing- not a single thing, you just have to wait. It’s pretty much like someone came up to my kids, stabbed them in the stomach, and there is no hospital to take them to. I watch them bleed out, helpless. A hug does not fix a wounded stomach. You always think there is a way to fix things, at least I always thought that. Now I know somethings just cannot be fixed, no matter how much work you put in.
What’s it like to raise a child from a broken home? Not in terms of divorce- but death. Far worse, because there is no hope. Hope keeps people going. Even if the father or mother to the child is absolute garbage and just goes MIA, there is always a small chance of redemption, or maybe even a minute of happiness, maybe even an explanation: “Why were you not there for me?” With death, it is literally demolished. There is no redemption. It is permanent and unwavering. Answers to questions do not exist- only speculations.
Chloe is 11. She cried this morning because “I just want to hug Dad and I can’t.” Think about the person you love and adore the most, the person that when you feel down, they can pick up your spirits even if it’s just a little. Now picture they disappear, completely. Also imagine you are 11, a time where you are changing anyhow. It is difficult to raise children anyhow. It is difficult to be 11 anyhow. What Chloe is trying to deal with, is something adults struggle with. If your parent is still alive, how well would you fare if you got a call that they died? I can think of nothing crueler that she could go through, unless she lost me too.
She has taken the role of a sub-parent. She cleans the house, she co-manages her siblings. She helps to get them up and moving. She helps them with home work. Shouldn’t she be on Roblox or playing a fun game or gossiping with girlfriends? That would be nice, but her role has now changed. All family members are assigned roles, whether they are aware of it or not. One role can be being the black sheep, or the jokester, or the responsible one, or the problem solver. When someone dies, the family must re-assign the roles or the family crumbles. Our roles have been reluctantly re-assigned and this is obvious even in extended family (something as simple as taking out the garbage at a family dinner, this was “Jesses” job, now we all take turns doing it, and by “all” I mean absolutely not me. I just sit and stare). Anyways, Chloe went from older mature -sibling to sub-parent. Currently, I cannot reform this role for her, she is stuck here for a bit but I hope not for long. I do remind her it’s not her responsibility to do so much- but it is almost a coping mechanism for her to take control. Control in small things, like wiping a counter, means that the world isn’t chaos. Except it is. It’s false control. I do not tell her that though and it’s likely she already knows.
Chloe doesn’t cry a lot because there isn’t time for it. She cries kind of like how I do, at moments of sheer exhaustion or when we are finally alone at night. Otherwise, our bodies are on autopilot where it’s a false numb. When she does break down, it is so painful to see. She is avoidant of certain things because she knows they will make her upset. She didn’t want to go to school the other day because she was afraid they would say “parents.” Plural. She was afraid the word Dad would come up. Unfortunately, it does. Almost every day. One day they even had to read a story about how the Dad frog takes care of baby tadpoles, not the mom. Jesse took care of them in ways I am horrible at. It is literally like a sick joke. We are all cut open and bleeding out- and then someone pours salt in it. Most people are sensitive to her, but there are times there is just blatant ignorance.
Chloe asked me “Is there a way to forget about people?” after begging me to remove all the photos of Jesse in the house. I said no. She said why can I forget about a fake friend then? I told her a fake friend doesn’t love her. Essentially she is becoming the same as I am…how dare you that you loved us. You should not have. She just said she wants to not remember or to see him. She puts blame on herself that she had played some factor in his death because of completely unrelated reasons. This could be something like “it’s my fault he died because I didn’t let him use my marker that one day.” I told her it’s absolutely not true. I told her that any fight or anger she has towards us is void. We love her unconditionally and nothing she does can cause anything- we are never truly upset with her and we know she’s just a kid. I think this helps her, but it’s painful I have to explain to her she didn’t kill her dad.
Oraia is 8. Her role has also changed. She used to be our “wild card,” (see reference from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia- she is our Charlie Day. Specifically the episode where he takes the breaks out of the car). But now she is moving more into a “fixer,” role. She wants to fix everyone’s sadness. Mine, her grandmothers, etc. Anyone who is sad she wants to mend them. I tell her it is not her responsibility to fix me and I must do this myself. She insist that she can fix anything and that if anyone is going to fix me, it will be her. She is the most like Jesse, from how she was prior to this- to how she is now. Jesse was a bit of a wild card also, but would immediately switch to fixer when people were struggling. He would assume so much responsibility to help/fix people, even if it was detrimental to himself. I see Oraia doing this also. She is ignoring her own needs to help others. This was a beautiful quality of Jesse’s, but it’s only beautiful if it doesn’t cause self neglect, which it does. I ask her how she is doing and she will tell me she is fine, but then I catch her staring into space at 12:00am, a time when she is usually sleeping. I find her talking, yelling, crying in her sleep.
She will not take off his shirts and has routines. Her routines consist of things like waking up and smelling his laundry, looking at peaceful photos of the sunsetting, wearing his hat, etc. This is also very much like Jesse. What she wants from me are things I am not too great at giving her. She lost a tooth the other day and I told her to rinse her mouth out with water. She said “Dad would get me warm salt water.” So I went and retrieved that for her. Seems insignificant but it is constant. I am not an incompetent parent- but I do not make things “special.” I am very practical. If my kids ask for water at bed. They get a cup of water at bed or I tell them “hey you need to think about doing this before you lay down.” Jesse, on the other hand, would go get the water and tell them there are special ingredients in it (ice. lol) but this made it special. This is a constant problem now because I am not too creative, I do not go the extra mile. That sounds horrible- but going back to the roles thing, that was not my role. I handle practical things, Jesse handled fun things. Oraia notices this. I try and tell her I am so so sorry.
She is scared now. She used to be fearless. She spent the night at her friends to try and have some distraction. This ended with a brutal text to me at 4:00am. Normally if she was afraid at night, she would text her dad and he would respond instantly. He was a night owl. I am not. It’s hard to just become two people in a snap of a finger- after being yourself for 13 years. I am trying to step-up my parenting game, but I am literally being asked to step it up when I have been at my weakest point. Ever. If she sent Jesse a text that she was scared- he could calm her down in seconds and she would drift back to sleep. I am trying to comfort her, but she was “dad’s twin and best friend,” so you can imagine I am not doing too stellar at it.
Raiden is 6. Today we started out with “Mommy, does the school know your husband’s dead?” after overhearing my professor say the word husband in my Family Law class. I told them yes they know.
Raiden is lashing out in anger. Raiden was a the sweetest little boy I knew prior to this. Some days he could still be a Sour Patch kid- but he would always listen and didn’t give me a ton of grief. He would get so excited over things he loved, like cute tiny animals. Two weeks before Christmas, Jesse and I asked him what he wanted as a gift and he said happily “I don’t need anything. I have every thing I need.” I am not sure what kid says that.
Now, the smallest thing can set him off. After this happened he started to act up and I went to handle it like I usually do (i.e. “Raiden go to time out and think about this”). Wrong. What normally would have been him reluctantly walking to the time out chair, had become a screaming session. This screaming turned into punching. Punching turned into throwing. Yelling at me: “you don’t love me! you are going to leave! you don’t care about me!” He even put a dent in our garage. He’s 6 and it’s not like he’s super strong. He tears apart furniture, rips things off walls, breaks toys.
I feel like I now know what it’s like to have a child with emotional stability problems. It is hard. You cannot control them and when they get like that you can’t spank/ yell/threaten it does NOTHING. It makes it worse. So pretty much I just have to monitor him until the outburst of anger turns into hysterical crying and falling to the floor. Then I can approach him and hug him. Whatever he was angry about wasn’t really what is was. He is really just sad and confused about his Dad. If these outburst do not calm down in the next two months- he will have to have a private therapist. I am hoping he is able to work through it naturally.
All of the children have some similar symptoms too. They are all extremely clingy. Raiden demands we do at least one STEM project a day (if you have ever done one, they aren’t always so simple-especially when your brain is fried). Chloe demands I watch shows with her, cuddle her, scroll Tik Tok. Oraia demands nothing. She has recently started asking to sleep next to me. All the kids fight each night to sleep right next to me. I want to sleep next to them too because I feel sad, but that’s a lot of people in one bed. They even ask me to take showers/baths with them. Raiden wants me to sit in the bathroom if he has to use the potty. These are not normal behaviors for them, at all. If I leave, they panic and confirm I will be coming back. Before I could go out the door and they would say “yeah love ya bye!” Now I see worry in their face. I see worry in how they speak or text me.
It isn’t chaos all day. Raiden seems normal in school sometimes. Chloe laughs at shows sometimes. Oraia is goofy sometimes. It is just different. Silent. It is no longer pure bliss, it is modified with stings of sadness and pain intertwined in a laugh. That pure innocence a child has is altered. I hate that. The counselors say that all of their behavior is normal. From Raiden’s angry outburst to Oraia’s silence. It’s normal for grief to place itself in these weird ways. Adults cannot handle this situation and neither can children. “Luckily” they are resilient. They should bounce back faster than I do and by bounce back I mean put on a face for society so they are seen as normal when none of us are anymore.
As I am about to come up on a month of Jesse not being here, I am trying to figure how I feel about it. Obviously devastated, confused, angry, exhausted, (stick in any adjective here that isn’t happy) but this episode of Futurama Jesse and I used to watch summarizes it pretty well.
In the fifth season of Futurama there is an episode entitled “Jurassic Bark.” It almost won an award for how great it is. The show revolves around a main character, Fry, who lives in the 20th century but is cryogenically frozen and awakens in the 30th century- to obviously find out that things have changed.
One day Fry goes to a museum where he notices a skeleton of a dog. He realizes that it is his loyal dog from the 20th century. He wants to bring it back to life, but ultimately decides against it because he finds out the dog lived on without him for 12 years after Fry’s “passing.” Fry assumes the dog must have carried on with its life.
At the end of the episode, the last thing you see is the last interaction between Fry and the dog in the form of flashback. Fry tells the dog to wait for him outside of the pizza shop. The dog lays on the sidewalk and waits for him, in the rain, sun, sleet, and snow for 12 years. The song “I will wait for you,” by Connie Francis plays during these scenes. The song plays “If it takes forever, I will wait for you. For a thousand summers, I will wait for you…” The dog remains there on the sidewalk waiting for 12 years, until the dog himself passes.
Jesse is Fry and I am Fry’s dog. I was the last person to hear his voice telling me he was on his way home. I am waiting at the house for his return, no matter how long it takes. Even though I know he’s not coming.
I dreamed about you last night. It was a bad one. I am laying down in your car watching you drive on the road you died on. You smile at me and I wake up.
My new thing every morning is to wake up and be in hysteria. I hate hysteria. So fucking painful. I will move to the living room where I proceed to fight with you for 10 minutes out loud. I read our text on your broken phone before bed and I hate how many times you say how much you love me, want to grow old with me, just adore me. What the fuck. Why couldn’t you have just shut your mouth. I get unreasonably angry at this and honestly my true feeling is just sadness, because once I’m done cursing you, I cry.
O says I have the worst cry. She’s never heard this one before but it’s whimpering that turns into wailing. It’s very pathetic. I’ve never heard this one either until now. It’s new to me also.
I am so mad that you left. So mad. My bad dream I had I woke up to nothing. I sound like a child but I could call you or come get you and you would cuddle me until I was calm again and go back to sleep. Why do you think it’s okay that you left me to deal with every. little. feeling. Alone? So infuriating.
I am mad at you because we were supposed to go together and I feel betrayed. Any poison on your lips, you left none for me. You left me with no dagger either. I find you dead and there is nothing I can do to join you. How dare you. So instead of joining you, my body is just ripped in half and I have to carry on like this. You are such an asshole. It’s the opposite here, because not only can I not be with you- I have to do well too because of the kids. Who wrote this awful story?
Why did we speak so much? If this was going to happen why make it harder? Why didn’t we just talk like once a day? Why did you want to be with us all the time, you had friends. Why did you say such lovely things that I will never hear again? When I’m angry I hate you for all of this.
I know I sound irrational. I write it anyhow because guess what? No one is here. I have plenty of friends but *Jesse* is not here. No one could calm me down like he could so this is shit. The one person I need to help me deal with this is not here! It’s crazy. I say it’s crazy 7000 times a day. If anyone is wondering.
In my writings when I take a break that is not seen. So I wrote the paragraph above around 7am, and now I’m on this paragraph at 9am. I had to lay down and chill out. Whatever chilling out means. It’s risky typing out how you truly feel because it scares people. But it only scares them because it’s not normal to talk about, it is very normal to feel. People are depressed, they have demons they struggle with, they cry themselves to sleep, they are too anxious, they feel worthless… and they say nothing. I would imagine most of us feel this way at some point and if you haven’t yet- you will. Because death is for everyone, so at some point you will feel these things. Maybe you wont feel anxious or sad because you will numb yourself. Distract yourself with material things. Either way, it is all suffering just the same. Perhaps you don’t even have to wait for a death, you just feel that way already. Well say something to someone. If I had a dime for every time I decided to just “overshare” my feeling on something and get instant support, I’d have a million dimes (is that how that saying goes??). Even things I thought were intense, someone could relate to me, all because we just spoke. In the end, I am glad Jesse and I spoke so much- even if it doesn’t seem like it at 7am, because I know what he would say to all of my problems. It’s like I get some level of support from him still, even if he’s not here, all because we spoke.
Yesterday I went to my first appointment at the local clinic that specializes in high risk pregnancy. So far, everything looks great.
I have to go because I had a window with my third pregnancy and this is my fourth c-section. They have to check my uterus to make sure the window doesn’t open back up. The only other worry they had was that I am 28 weeks and haven’t gained a single pound. The baby is at the 80th percentile, so she is fine, it is me who isn’t getting what I need. Regardless, I am just going to try to drink shakes to make up for lost calories. I didn’t feel hungry before losing Jesse so this was already an issue and now that I have lost him it had gotten worse. I do eat though, every day, just not 3 meals.
Now that you know “I’m fine” and the baby is “fine,” what wasn’t fine was the paperwork. I had to go to the clinic alone because of COVID, otherwise my friend was going to come. I was worried about how I’d feel with my first ultrasound since Jesse wasn’t here. This would be the first time he either couldn’t go, or I couldn’t text him, or bring him home a photo to see when he got off work. I walked in relatively okay, but when the receptionist started telling me how to fill it out: “Okay, and here we will just need to know the father’s name and his cell phone, date of birth, your emergency contact if something happens…” by this time I am crying like a basket case. Who do I put down? I have people. I have my mom, best friend, but I don’t have Jesse. The woman’s tone changed and she said in a lowered voice “sweetie what is going on?” So then I had to tell her. Her and the staff felt really bad for me and were sympathetic. I felt so weird. Where is my kid’s dad at? Why am I this weird person now?
The ultrasound itself went okay but I experienced something else I wasn’t too happy about. I didn’t want to see her. Normally I stare at the ultrasound the entire time and methodically complete a mental check in my head “ arm? Check. Spine? Check? Eyes? Check,” as the technician is scanning me. Then I admire how beautiful my child is…This time, I peaked at her. I saw her face and I know she is so pretty, but how unfair is it that I get to look at her and he does not? This made it difficult on some new level. Will I act like this when she is born? I hope not. I love her. I just feel as though why do I get another gift and you get nothing? I get to see a child you made and you do not. How cruel.
I text my sister-in-law after all of this. I told her I hope I do not suffer another tragedy. I would like very much for the kids and I to go on and for me to live until im 85. In the middle of typing that, I realized 85 is 55 years away. Wait, so for 55 years I have to continue on without you? I didn’t realize what I even said. In my mind, I think this suffering is short term, that even though he isn’t here in my subconscious I only have to make it a year or so…but saying out loud that I could be here for another 55 years…what do I do with all that time now? You were supposed to be here too.
I really wish we could have been old together. It’s unfair I may possibly live and it is certain you will not. You deserved so much more out of life and I am so sorry you did not get it. I will keep doing my best to stay here and do right by the kids, even though I died inside the day you did.
Here’s another place you don’t want to have to be apart of but when you do you’re glad it’s there. Valerie’s House is a local nonprofit in our area for grieving children and spouses, which was created by a woman who lost her mother, Valerie, when she was little. I had no idea this existed but someone close to me suggested it immediately, he lost his father young too. He said they were great people.
Driving there I felt really angry, by the time I got out of the car I was raging inside but this probably wasn’t noticeable. It didn’t help that I had to pass three ambulances with flashing lights on my way there. Those are also triggers I was unaware I had. My anger came from, again, wanting to be the donator, not the donatee. How am I even in this position I wondered. Haven’t I lent a helping hand my whole life? Shouldn’t that offer me an invisible forcefield of protection? No. It didn’t do anything.
I generally will force myself do things that are hard or uncomfortable if I think there is a possibility a greater good may come from it. So I forced myself to go into the house with the kids with the hopes that if my kids are surrounded by kids with dead parents maybe that would help? That sounds horrible.
My kids and I were separated into groups and they were a little apprehensive at first but they went by themselves. This was good because R can’t pee by himself right now, or sleep alone, or do Zoom alone, I mean literally anything. We are all glued together, 24/7. The kids went with their age groups and I went with other moms who are now widows. Some were closer to my age and two of them I actually “knew of.” We explained what happened to our spouse and did an activity about our struggle.
I think the thing that stuck out is for an hour, just one hour, I wasn’t the anomaly, I was “normal” and so were my kids. I haven’t felt normal in 21 days. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel normal like what you think or feel, but I felt more normal, or as normal as I was probably going to feel. It was interesting that we had all experienced trauma and losing our spouse but in really unique ways. Some seemed more traumatic than mine, others less traumatic than mine, but nonetheless all seriously traumatic. All total garbage and completely unfair and cruel.
Being a single mom is hard. Like 100% single. The dad is totally MIA to four children in a snap of a finger. Except their dad DID want to be here and he was awesome at it. It’s like the most wildly unfair and complex feeling ever. The division of attention is so difficult. I don’t want to slip through the cracks and neglect their needs. Jesse and I made sure we listened to them, spent time with them, spoke to them about worries, fears, hopes, dreams, and above all, were HONEST with them. That is at the top of the list on his great qualities. Difficult conversations happened in our house and it was very evident because at Valerie’s House we all had no issue speaking our truth. I think sometimes our style of parenting was conflicting with how people may have thought our parenting should have been- because kids are often shielded from painful truths. We did agree with this concept to a degree, because kids need to be kids, but thought it was asinine also because children are not stupid. They see adults, relatives, teachers, etc. mess up and to invalidate an adults mess up or error is to cause more of a problem as we saw it. Secrecy breeds more problems. I will miss that we had that as a team.
Now I have to do all of that alone plus regular obligations, plus some sort of grief counseling. I know if I regress from where we were our chances at appearing on the Dr. Phil show are going to sky rocket, but I am torn in 3 different directions with no solid help. I get a little here and there from family and friends but the constant day in and day out conversations and issues he took care of with the kids aren’t there- but they still need to be done.
C is into this show, which of all freaking shows, it is about people who died and came back to life 5 years later with a special section on a widowed spouse who gets her husband back too. What a selection of a show that is! I am trying to spend time with her, but it’s literally infuriating to watch. I have a trigger every 10 seconds because I know you aren’t going to magically come back in 5 years.
C has told me school pretty much sucks. She is finding also that everything is a trigger even if people are aware of what happened. On her first day back, her teacher had some sort of “write about something challenging that happened to you over break and how you overcame it.” That seems standard enough, but for us? Uh. My dad died? There was also a story they read about “dad frogs” and how they take care of the babies not the mom. It’s inescapable even if it’s not even slightly directed at us.
For my classes the other day, one practice BAR question was about a widow getting her husbands pharmacy medication and within seconds the next BAR question was about a man in a traumatic car accident with life threatening injuries. These hypotheticals used to make me think about the legal elements and how to solve them, but right now, I am thinking: hmm. Jesse and I are now BAR exam hypotheticals. Are we even real anymore?
Jumping to the next subject in my scattered brain. Jesse’s urn came today. The kids picked it out and it’s a large wooden box with a carved tree. I showed them the ashes and it’s interesting the amount of questions they have. Some are really sad and break my heart- like R saying he’s going to give him a controller so they can play their game together. Some are, just kid questions. “What are ashes? Does he still have to pee? If we talk to him is he going to reply?”
I took it outside to put it by our tree where Jesse built the kids a treehouse and began to cry immediately. His cat, Nymeria, who is usually patient, ran out the door with me to the tree. She probably feels neglected because she hasn’t gone outside much anymore. O ended up coming outside too and wanted to take a picture with Dad. Why is our reality that of you being a box. I cannot fathom it. I tried to keep myself busy again today but my brain is just so scattered.
Our friends came over and brought dinner and their reptiles for the kids. It was nice. We have the greatest of friends. I just wish you could be here too. O was the only one to really hold the snake. It reminded me of when we went to Vegas. You always gave me a heart attack and now she does as well. She is you in the female form.
Did you see me return to school today and not do a good job? I tried. At least I signed in. I even took some notes. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
Did you see me fall to the floor twice now like I had been shot in the chest, but it was just pain and tears?
Did you see Oraia wake up last night, from her millionth nightmare? She would always find you at night to make herself feel better and now she comes to me. Do I hold up? I am trying really hard. The kids are exhausting me but I am trying. They are trying too.
Do you see my anger? When I go to counseling do you hear me curse your name? I shouldn’t be there. It’s not for our family. Grief counseling is for other people. Not us. They are the “other,” not us. We don’t want to be apart of that group. Why can we not pity them together like we used to? Why is it us now?
Did you see me think for hours about what to do with the new baby? I am having a c-section, it hurts to cough….how do I avoid hysterically crying? I don’t want physical pain too. Or maybe I do. Maybe the burning of the surgery would actually feel better than what I currently experience mentally every fucking second. Do you see me panicking as I try to figure out how to raise a child and explain to her that Daddy wanted to be here but he couldn’t? How do I make sense of that? How do I make sure she is treated like you are here, when she has never met you?
I ask why she doesn’t get to play dolls with you, she doesn’t get a special tuck in, or your perfect little swaddle you would put them in to get them to stop fussing. I won’t wrap her as snug. The photos spread out around the house of the five of us, what do I do with those? She isn’t in them. Do I keep them up so she knows you or do I take them down so she doesn’t feel left out? I have no idea. Do you hear me screaming at you how could you leave us like this?
I wonder if you heard our friend when she came over the other night, talking about her dad passing when she was young. She told me about things that always hurt. Did you hear her or did you hear your own kids? I heard our children’s voice through her. It’s painful, she is in her 30’s. She did tell me something else though. She brought up that quote “it is better to love and have lost than to not have loved at all.” She said she used to think that was a cliche post about breaking up. She said now she knows the author means they actually lost someone. Someone died. She and others have said to me that they still do not know what it’s like to be loved in that way. It’s flattering but I also hate it. Ignorance is bliss. If I just had a regular relationship where we were married but nothing super serious, I wouldn’t be in this much pain, right?
Did you see the text to your phone today from Oraia that she loves and misses you? Did you see the show Chloe wanted me to watch with her? I couldn’t handle it. I am so sensitive to even the silliest of things. Do you see me thinking that that if I write until my hands hurt you might come back?
I read that since your death was sudden, my grieving process is severely delayed. This sucks because I want it to be done with. I don’t want to be stuck here, it’s too uncomfortable. I cannot take any medications to numb myself. I cannot do anything to ease the pain, I have to feel every second of it. Why would you do this to me? Or to the kids? I know you didn’t actually know. But it’s confusing nonetheless. My brain is logical and wants to make sense of something illogical.
Everything is so arbitrary now. There is no meaning in anything. I am just turning into a robot that keeps my kids doing “well.” Purpose is pretty lost. There’s a lot of negativity here but I wonder if people really want the truth or if they want to “feel better.” I am not nor was I ever in the business of just making someone feel better. You loved that about me. When the cashier ask me how I am, I do him a solid and just nod my head once. It’s either that or he’s going to get a mouthful he didn’t ask for. But like I said, we want to hear that things are okay because to acknowledge certain aspects of reality is way too painful, so we pretend like all is well, until it’s not.
We are no different than animals. I said that prior to this but God do I feel it now. There is no hierarchy, we made it up. I am no different than a gazelle being chosen by a lion. Today our family wasn’t successful at the waterhole. There is nothing special about it. The lion didn’t choose us because of a reason, he chose us because he was hungry. That’s it. To argue that the gazelle was eaten by the lion because of a reason, or purpose unbeknownst to the gazelle is a coping mechanism. It would be cool but I believe it’s highly unlikely. The ant that we accidentally step on while walking out of our house wasn’t chosen by us. It just was.
Is that too uncomfortable? I suppose. Maybe I will find some beauty in things one day, but right now it’s bleak and to undo that would mean bringing you back, which isn’t happening.
I remember how we felt when each of our children were born. Totally the opposite of what I just wrote, we were definitely lions on those days. But we did discuss reality after the euphoria wore off. That we were just a splurge of random chemicals. We obviously hoped we were wrong, but how do I solidify that we were wrong after experiencing this?
It makes me wonder why we do anything pleasurable to be honest. I used to sing a lot. Why do people sing? I guess they are happy and blissfully unaware of what lies ahead. How did people get through times of war and famine? Or maybe a tsunami that kills millions? We shrug it off. We feel bad for a few days when we hear that children were killed at school, but then we return to normal life because we can’t do anything. It is interesting we spend such little time discussing concepts like these when they are the most interesting and complex (i.e. “never discuss religion, sex or politics,” who dared to even suggest such a thing? We should discuss it all.) A Facebook post of angry rants isn’t a discussion. So those don’t count. That’s just anger and confusion. Apparently something happened at the capitol a few days ago? It’s funny I normally would have had slight interest in this and now I have none. When your most important things are taken from you, you really realize how many things don’t matter.
This is my third post for today. To me, it feels like 3 days have passed, but it has literally been the same day. When you are up all night the lines are so blurred.
Funny enough my three post have wildly different emotions, much like what I experience all. day. long. My kids and I are pretty much tortured every second. We are all feeling this despite the help. I think it’s just hard for people to truly fathom what our days used to be like and how tightly knit our family was. Like our home is no longer a home, it’s a house. Actually, maybe it’s a prison now. A weird prison that none of us want to leave because it’s uncomfortable but at the same time Jesse is in every centimeter of the house. Those shelves? he hung those. That couch? he placed that there. Those photos? His face is plastered all over them. The hot sauce in the fridge? Oh he loved that one, he was on a hot sauce kick. The stain on the floor? Ugh, yes he spilled something not paying attention. That recommendation on Hulu for 60 Days In? He was obsessed with that show.
Not every day, but for a long time I was up with Jesse at 5:30 a.m. trying to make him some healthy vegan breakfast because he needed to eat better. He agreed for a bit but then became complacent and wanted something unhealthy. So at 5:30 a.m. while someone is sleeping, my internal alarm is going off- just to be disappointed. After making sure he has breakfast, I would double check with him if he had his phone, wallet, etc. I did this every morning. He would go and gently either wake-up (if it was requested) or just hug and kiss all three kids good-bye. By now it’s 6:00am. On his drive to work, we would talk on the phone for half an hour. I would make coffee and do yoga or try to clean up left over messes. We would talk about crazy things, life stresses, events, whatever. He would get to work and I would do go do something else. By 7:30am he would probably send me a text saying he loves me or he can’t wait to see my beautiful face. Around 8:00 he would talk to the girls and R on the phone while they got ready for school. I think it’s pretty clear by now that we are all in constant contact with each other. By then we would have class and he would have to focus on work, but by lunch we would all talk again, and then periodically follow-up until he got home around 3-5.
Most days neither one of us went out. We would discuss dinner plans and he would ALWAYS have some objective to accomplish with the kids. Every day he would say “today I need to build the marble machine with R when I get home,” or “today I need to watch that show with C when I get home,” or “today make sure I play Roblox with O.” He would always designate time to them everyday. His tuck ins for the kids lasted 30 minutes to an hour. He had to put the girls hair up in a special way, hug R very tight, maybe read them a book, get them special water with special ice, special blankets, do secret handshakes. Excessive I know, but he enjoyed it so much. Then by the end of spending time with them he would always reserve time for us to watch a show or if I was too busy with school I would read caselaw next to him and he would play a game or find something to watch. Many times I would go on some intense legal rant and he would patiently listen to the entire thing. I could tell him literally anything. This is probably one of the hardest things for me, because something I see or heard about, I can’t tell him. If I am mistreated or someone is great to me, I can’t tell him. If I pass my classes, fail them, go to the store, it doesn’t matter. It’s just constant loneliness and this is with my phone being blown up. Literally the dynamic of feeling lonely in a crowded room is how I feel a lot now. I cannot tell my person anything. I can’t even fight with him or argue about the kids. Literally nothing. Good, bad. All gone.
Almost every weekend we tried to plan some sort of family thing out. Are we taking the kids to the park? A hay ride? Are we having family over for games? Are we just doing chores and watching a movie tonight? Jesse wasn’t out with friends. He was home with us nearly all of the time. If we did decide to hang out with someone, I can assure you the kids and I would likely be coming. Sometimes I would ask him if it was ever too much. Did he feel overwhelmed? He would say no and say he actually wasn’t doing enough. I don’t know what standard he had in his head for being a good father, but I know to him he didn’t meet it. Which I still think and will always think is just crazy. I know no one will be able to replace him. Luckily since we spoke so much, he knew all of this. But besides me knowing that he knows, there is nothing else. All the new things that have occurred since his passing, while I know how he would react and I know what he would think, he doesn’t actually know of these things. I am in a new year that he never made it to. I have to experience things alone that he will never know about. It’s seriously too much. I have lost my husband and my best friend. Period.