Monday, November 24, 2014

A Break

I am going on an adventure.

Tomorrow, I am leaving Pennsylvania on a plane. I won't be back for a week. I am going to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving. I won't be celebrating at home or with family. I won't be in a rut or a routine. I won't be here.

I finally took time off from work. I finally decided to just GO. I finally leapt out of my comfort zone.

I am going on an adventure.

The cat widow will be leaving her cats in the care of her mother. The cat widow without her cats is just a widow. The widow without her Pennsylvania life is just a woman.

While I am away, I will not be blogging. When I return, I will continue where I left off.

I am grateful in so many ways. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Change in the Air

Today was much, much better than yesterday. Support continued to flow in for me, in the form of text messages, cookies, hugs, and coffee. I am a very lucky woman in a lot of ways.

My mom was waiting for me at my house when I got home from work, petting the cats. The anxiety slowly fell away.

And it hit me:

I prevailed.

Even the most positive attitude can't change how a body reacts to trauma. I cannot always be in control of how I feel. That said, I can surround myself with all the good there is. With it, I create a shield. I create a warm blanket. I create a safe zone.

One foot in front of the other, I am walking...I am running. I am gaining ground. I am moving.

I feel a change in the air.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Survived

Let me start by saying that today was a terrible day. Let me finish by saying that tomorrow will be better.

Today was a terrible day. It was actually worse than I anticipated it would be. Some things happened that kind of made me wonder how this could possibly be my life. I can't elaborate here, because it relates to work. But suffice it to say that there was a point in my day when I thought I was going to both throw up and pass out. And I didn't get home to Jennifer until hours after I should have.

The day started off okay enough. I pretended it was a normal work day like any other as I got ready to leave the house. I began receiving loving text messages from friends. Cheyenne offered to bring me lunch at work. Libes, Daniele, Stacy, Jennifer, Haley, Nancy, Alicia, and Brie told me they were thinking about me. Jolyn came to find me to give me a warm hug. Laura sneakily left a much needed coffee and some delicious donut munchkins on my desk.

I was busy, I was capable... and then things kind of fell apart. I let Jennifer know that I would not be arriving home at the time we planned. But when I was able to go home, she met me at my house. On my way home, I talked to my mom, Laura, and Daniele, because they had heard about the events of my day. I was not alone. I was upset, but I was not alone.

Jennifer bestowed upon me cards and gifts. I don't know how I deserve such a kind friend. The cats snuggled me, especially Tumbler. Jennifer and I had dinner and watched Gilmore Girls to take the edge off. There were some tears tonight, but the day ended on a good note.

I'll be happy once tomorrow is over. I'll be happy once this weekend as Manager on Duty is filed away and I've survived.

The good news, the positive, the silver lining...whatever you want to call that tomorrow will definitely have to be better.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Forced to Re-Live It

6 months ago, on Saturday May 17th and Sunday May 18th, I was Manager on Duty at my job for the weekend. It was my first and only time being Manager on Duty. I woke up that Saturday and went to work. It was weird being there on a weekend without most of my co-workers. Rick asked me to pick up gyros on my way home. I did. We saved them and had them for dinner that night. Take-out gyros were my husband's last meal. The next morning - Sunday morning - I went to work as Manager on Duty again, not knowing that as soon as I left, Rick shot himself in the head.

I kissed him good bye and we said our last words, though at the time I did not know they would be our last to each other. 

As Manager on Duty, I busied myself at work that Sunday, not knowing that my husband was dead in my home the entire time. That haunts me. I came home to a suicide note.

Every time I think about being Manager on Duty, I picture myself that day, blissfully and horrifically unaware that Rick was already dead at home. Manager on Duty is forever associated with the day my husband died, because it is what I was doing when he wrote me a note, when he took his last breath, when he died. 

Perhaps if I had worked for my company longer...perhaps if I had been Manager on Duty several times already before Rick's death, the association would not be so strong. But as it happened, my first and only time being MOD was the day Rick died. Was the worst day of my life. So if I think about being MOD, the only other thing that correlates for me is Rick killing himself. 

Shortly after Rick's death, it was time for all of the managers at my job - including myself - to sign up for MOD weekends again. I stared at my computer and couldn't even fathom having to do such a triggering and terrible thing so soon. I sent out an email to my fellow managers explaining my concern about being MOD again so soon after such a traumatic event. They picked up the slack and all the weekends got covered without me having to choose one during the next quarter. I was so grateful. 

But now the time has come. I am MOD this weekend. All I can think about is that the last time I was MOD, Rick committed suicide. I am terribly anxious and definitely feeling PTSD-esque symptoms and worries. I know that I do not have to relive that day. I know that it will be okay. But it still feels awful right now. Tomorrow when I leave for work, I think it will be okay. I expect a looming sense of dread, but I am hopeful I can manage to get in my car and go. Tomorrow when I'm there, I think it will be okay. I expect to be busy and focused on other things. But tomorrow when I leave my MOD duties to come home, all my mind envisions is the suicide note that was on the table... the body in the basement... the frantic, horrible 911 call I made... the collapse outside my house... the hours I spent in the ambulance getting oxygen and crying hysterically... the neighbors watching everything like it was a news program... 

I know that this weekend doesn't have to be scary. I know that it will not all happen again. But the association is so strong and my heart feels very heavy tonight. 

I do have a plan. My friend Jennifer will be waiting for me at my house when I get home from being Manager on Duty tomorrow. And my mom will be waiting for me at my house when I get home from being Manager on Duty on Sunday. I won't have to walk into my house alone. And if I have flashbacks or remember awful things, someone will be with me.

I think right now it's unreasonable for me to hope I won't cry tomorrow. I cried just telling my mom how nervous I was tonight. I woke up with a throbbing headache today from grinding my teeth all night and clenching my jaw in my sleep. 

I'll end on a positive note. I am choosing to be thankful in advance that this weekend will be okay. As my blog tagline has said in the righthand corner from the very beginning:

"Tomorrow may bring pain, but it cannot steal my joy."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lagging Behind

You know what's rough?

When I'm watching TV and something reminds me of a memory or an inside joke and I turn to do that knowing smile, like to see if Rick noticed it too. And no one is here.

It takes so long for our bodies to recognize that something is gone. My head still turns to smile at him or share a laugh when I hear or see something we'd both find funny. Even as my head is turning as if to look at him, I know he is not here. I know he is dead. But my body still hasn't completely gotten the message.

My body is still adjusting. It remains on one side of the bed every night, even though I know that I have the whole king size bed to myself. My body, even while asleep, can't break the routine of sleeping on "my" side.

Our bodies are on autopilot fairly often... they adjust to other people over time... especially to the person with whom we share our life, our home, our bed, our car. Our bodies get in a groove. Our bodies are conditioned to react to the other person. They adopt mannerisms that help communicate with the other person. They have a memory bank of their own.

My brain moves onward, understanding what has happened, adapting to my new life. My body is a bit behind, lagging as it tries to catch up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What's Best

I've been craving more alone time. Not the kind where I want to cancel plans with people or sit in the darkness of my home for hours on end, but the kind where I can listen to myself. The kind that happens in my car with the right music on... the kind that happens when I wake up in the morning a little earlier than usual and have that bit of extra time to think...

I'm trying to get in tune with myself to prepare for all the roads ahead. I'm trying to have some really good conversations with myself. I'm trying to get comfortable.

There is a part of me so terrified of the "aloneness." But there is another part that wants it. Both parts fight daily. They state their cases. They each try to convince me their way is best.

And that's another concept that seems so elusive. What's best?

How can we know what is best for ourselves? How can we predict the right future, the right outcome? How can we know which direction is right at the fork in the road? How can we move forward without fear? What is best?

We cannot ever truly know. But we can feel. I am trying to listen with my soul. I want to hear what my heart is saying and take heed. I want to feel the vibrations of this life and go with the current of where they wish to lead me. I can't know what's best, but maybe if I try, I can feel it.

Listening. That's what's best.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

One Ring at a Time

Rick has officially been gone 6 months today. Half a year. HALF a year. It feels like yesterday I kissed him good bye and came home to a dead body in my basement. And yet at the same time, it feels like I've been through a war and spent a whole era of time all alone.

I've been reading Eat, Pray, Love - my first book since Rick's death - and it resonates with me. With all I have been through these last 6 months, I feel like I could write my own Eat, Pray, Love story. 

Today, I began my day by doing something big. Well, big for me. 

I took off one of my wedding rings. I took off my engagement ring I've worn for the last 7.5 years. My diamond. I nestled it inside Rick's wedding ring, which is nestled inside of Rick's watch. Which sits on a large dish on my kitchen counter. 

I've written before about my dilemma with my wedding rings. How people ask me how long I've been married or because I'm young, if I just got married. It got to be a point of pain for me, because explaining or choosing not to explain or hurting either was difficult, but I wasn't ready to take off my wedding rings to make the conversations stop. 

Well today, on the 6 month anniversary of Rick's death, I decided I was ready. But in baby steps. I only took off the large engagement ring. Left behind is my thin wedding band. It draws less attention, but I still feel comfortable knowing it is there. A few months ago...even one month ago...I wasn't ready to remove either of my rings. 

But today, I was ready to remove one. 

One at a time. 

Maybe the band will stay on for another month...or two... or 6... or even another year. It is up to me, and right now one was enough. 

My hand feels strange. Lighter. I find myself looking down in panic, thinking, "Oh my God, where did it go?" But then I remember. I wield my left hand in the old way - maneuvering it so the diamond doesn't get caught on sweaters as I pull my arm through the sleeve, or so I don't cut myself while washing my hands. But it's no longer there.

This morning in my kitchen as I looked at my engagement ring nestled inside Rick's wedding band on my countertop, I said out loud, "It's okay, Arielle, because if you decide you want it back, all you have to do is put it back on. You can always put it back on."

Rick flickered the light in my bedroom for me this morning before work. I had already taken off my ring. I think he was letting me know it was okay. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just Another Day

Today I went to the dentist for my 6 month check-up and all I could think of as I laid in the chair was, "The last time I was here, Rick was still alive." Music played over the sound system - the same easy listening stuff that usually plays there - and I willed myself not to cry as emotional songs came on. It was kind of like a weird form of torture, to have to lie there motionless with instruments in my mouth while listening to sad songs I've purposely avoided for the last 6 months.

Tomorrow it will be 6 months that Rick's been dead. I touched my wedding rings with my other hand as I laid in the dentist's chair, marveling at how something as mundane as going to the dentist can evoke such emotion.

When it was over, I stood at the reception desk with my calendar open, ready to schedule my next appointment 6 months down the road. The receptionist flipped 6 months ahead. "How about May 18th?" she asked. I shuddered involuntarily.

"Any day but that day," I said quietly. The one year anniversary of Rick's death. Who knows how I'll be memorializing. Who knows what I'll be doing that day. But I definitely don't want to be at the dentist.

Already experiencing a weird 6 month journey in my mind while in the dentist chair, only to hear someone say the words "May 18th" and catapult me into next year felt really odd.

Sometimes I feel like the words "May 18th" are my words. Like no one else should say them. The worst day of my life. But to most people, it's just another day.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Tonight I turned out all the lights, I sat in my chair, and I lit a candle. I held the candle in my hands and I closed my eyes. And I asked for all the things I want.

I let the tears flow freely. I talked out loud for at least 30 minutes. I went back in time and I went forward. I remembered the past and I envisioned the future. I asked. And thanked. And asked some more.

My tears slid down my face into the collar of my t-shirt and my mouth kept moving. The darkness around me felt like space, not oppressive. I acknowledged the fears I hold inside. I spoke the secrets. I reached backwards and forwards. I talked to God. And myself. And Rick. And I ventured into unknown territory.

There is territory that no one understands but me. I must walk the path alone... and that is what is so scary. I have never felt such a desperate fear before. It's like walking through the woods alone at night, no flashlight, no compass. It's like diving headfirst into a dark abyss of deep water, no knowledge of what is beneath the surface, no light to show the way.

I swallowed, I took a deep breath, I wiped my tears, and I blew out the candle.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Past the Comfort Zone

I've been comfortable for too long.
I am ready to really live.

I'm nervous.
I'm scared.
But I'm ready.
I'm curious.
I'm not sure what really living will mean, but figuring it out will be part of the fun. 
I hope.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Layers of Healing

I have written 6 poems since Rick died.  Just looking at the titles of the poems gives me insight into my progression of my layers of healing. 

The first one, written on July 15th, was called I Don't Know How to Say Good Bye. I was raw...and I really and truly didn't know how to say good bye. Nothing felt right.

On August 30th, I wrote the poem Touch. I described the things I wanted... I wrote about connection and encouragement from beyond. 

On September 4th, I wrote the poem Ashes to Wind, when I was thinking about scattering Rick's ashes in Ounquit, Maine. I described the feelings of a day that has not yet come, and the emotions and power of letting go. 

On September 23rd, I wrote Don't Rush Me, a poem that turned out to be a letter to myself. I worked through employing patience and channeling healing. 

On September 30th, I chopped and changed a poem from 2006 I called Recounting Autumn, tweaking it to fit all that life has thrown at me. It spoke of change and fresh perspective. 

And on November 10th, I wrote The Pull, a poem about grief driving fear, quests, and life. 

I noticed something. The first three poems use the word "you" as in me addressing Rick. I write as though to him. By the fourth poem, I am writing to myself. I even call myself by name. By the fifth poem, I am nostalgic, writing about myself rather than Rick or grief itself. By the sixth poem, though I write about grief and all of my emotions as I move onward, what's obvious is not the grief part but the moving part. I begin and end the poem with the same two lines (which are repeated elsewhere in the middle as well):

It flows and ebbs, and ebbs and flows;
The pull of grief, it comes and goes.

And so, it seems clear now. Grief is still here... but sometimes it is not. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Behind the Door

I clicked back into the archives of my musings tonight, trying to see what I was doing a year ago, two years ago, etc... I stumbled upon a piece about self-awareness I wrote 2 years ago, back in the fall of 2012. I read it through as though I was reading it for the first time...

Self-awareness is a funny thing. It molds us, shapes us, teaches us, and impacts us. Without self-awareness, we cannot learn about ourselves. Without learning about ourselves, we cannot grow. Without growth, we remain stagnant and unfulfilled.

The thing about self-awareness is that it is not always pleasant. Sometimes we notice things about ourselves that we would rather push back under the rug. Sometimes we discover things that make us say, “Aha!” and revelation breaks through pain. Other times, self-awareness is uncomfortable. We become aware, maybe reluctantly...maybe even accidentally...and then we must face ourselves. We must look in that figurative mirror and ascertain what to do with what we see there.

I will not be so bold as to say that I have mastered self-awareness, but in the last several years I have become adept at seeing myself, knowing myself, and using what I see and know to live a life that feels right for me. I have also learned that self-awareness and writing go hand in hand most of the time, at least for me. I am able to process through feelings, observations, and discoveries – and by the time pages have been filled up with words, I feel I have learned a lesson or come to terms with whatever is at hand.

In a way, self-awareness is like telling yourself your own story – but without the flowery language, the sugar-coated details, and the rose-colored glasses. “Sit down right here, Arielle, and let me tell you the story of you today. Let me explain to you how this affects you, why this affects you, and what it all might mean.” That’s sort of how my mind works through whatever is present on a given day. Sometimes it’s a matter of using all my strength to push away a boulder that’s in my way so I can see the light behind it. Sometimes it’s like unraveling knots in otherwise smooth yarn. Sometimes I must open a door I would rather keep closed.

But self-awareness makes for a better person, and I’ve come to see self-awareness as an adventure. Sometimes you like it and sometimes you don’t. But you’re taking the journey with yourself. Sometimes it’s a bumpy ride. Sometimes it’s a smooth one. You are both the driver AND the passenger.

Though I am of course learning lessons every day, I feel that I have a keen and sharp sense of self. Why? Self-awareness. If I can be an expert of nothing else, I want to be an expert of ME.

Allow me to go back to the door analogy. “Sometimes I must open a door I would rather keep closed.” We are complex individuals – each and every one of us - and it is perfectly natural for even the most put-together, happy-go-lucky, and self-assured people to shy away from self-awareness at times. The smallest things in every day life factor into self-awareness. Self-awareness doesn’t have to be about life-altering, game-changing instances. It doesn’t even have to be about problems. At the core, self-awareness is simply about emotions. That’s it. Emotions.

Emotions fuel reactions.
Emotions fuel actions.
Emotions determine mood.
Emotions guide decisions.

Emotions, it turns out, are incredibly important.

But sometimes they feel larger than we are. Sometimes we don’t want to believe them. Sometimes we pretend they don’t exist. Sometimes we embrace them in order to escape other, scarier ones. There are as many scenarios as there are emotions.

But as a pioneer of your own self, you go forward. So, you open that door you would rather keep closed. And you back away, off to the side, not quite ready to deal with what may be behind it. You might stand aloof, listening while pretending not to listen. Or maybe it’s the other way around – perhaps you pretend to listen to what’s behind that door, all the while still not yet invested. You keep your distance, but you still opened the door, so it’s not like you’re not paying attention, right? It’s not like you’re not being self-aware, right?

But then, something calls to you. You don’t want to face it, but you’re ready to listen. So you stand tentatively, your ear pressed to the open door.

And now you’ve been drawn into the journey. You wait, listening, maybe even arguing with yourself. “Do I really feel that way?” “Of course I don’t feel that way.” “Or do I?” “That’s not how I operate!” “Can it be true?” “That’s not why I act the way I do!”  You’re so close to whipping your head around to the other side of the open door, to give what’s waiting there a piece of your mind... but that would mean you have to face it... and not all the things we learn about ourselves feel good.

And then, eventually, with a little gasp, you let yourself not only hear it, but recognize it, whatever it is. “I guess I AM jealous of that person.” “Maybe that IS why I get so angry about that.” “I wish I hadn’t done that. I guess I really DO regret it.” “Wow – I wanted to think I was, but I’m NOT okay with it.” Then wide-eyed and nodding, you’ve stopped the denial/defiant ego/self-pity/awkwardness.

And you know what you must do. You began this self-awareness thing. You opened that door. Now you’ve got to face whatever is back there.

And even though it might not make you jump for joy or grin ear to ear, it’s usually never as bad as it felt at first. And by staring through that door into whatever is there with 1) a little confidence, 2) the reminder that you’re human, and 3) the desire to learn about yourself, you’re one step closer to being a master of self-awareness.

The intricate workings of ourselves deserve time, attention, appreciation, and care. You can’t give any  of those things to yourself if you’re working behind a closed door. Open it. And even if it takes a while, don’t be afraid to look inside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


5 months ago today, still so shocked to the core, I ended my blog post this way:

"It's so nice to remember Rick. To hear what other people remember about Rick. Remembering is all we have now. 

Remembering, though, is kind of tiring. I want to so much to be able to just walk into my kitchen and see him. I want to be able to hear his voice on the other end of the phone. I want to roll over at night and push him out of the way. I want to argue with him, laugh with him, and talk to him. If he was here, I wouldn't have to remember. 

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm tired. And I just want to throw a tantrum sometimes. Instead, I'm going to wear Rick's bathrobe and go to sleep." 

4 months ago today, cautiously navigating my way, I ended my blog post this way:

"'Look both ways before you cross the street,' my mind seems to say. Grief is like a highway full of traffic, debris, accidents, and fast moving vehicles. I have to look both ways. I have to keep my eyes wide open. I have to pay attention. I have to be deliberate in my actions. I have to stop to ensure safety. 

I realized recently that part of grieving is about staying safe. Just as I have the Grief Zone, I also have Safe Zones. Blueprints for grief can be found, filed away in my mind and heart, the different zones mapped out and labeled so I know where my footing is most sure. I am learning this as I go. 

I am learning. And I am leading. Onward through grief and so, onward through life."

3 months ago today, contemplative but coping, I ended my blog post this way:

"When I feel sad, when I feel alone, and when I feel like Rick's suicide was senseless... I remember that at least a shred of hope exists in all things. And that shred is the domino effect of other struggling lives... lives affected by depression...alcoholism...pain...and much more... lives that will remain lives, because Rick's death stamped out an option for them.

Maybe... just maybe... if Rick had not taken his life, many others would now be dead or thinking about dying.

Those messages... those shreds of hope...keep a smile on my face some nights. I tie those shreds of hope together and remember that we are all connected. And that one precious life lost to suicide means that others might embrace the gift of life."

2 months ago today, once acceptance had really set in, I ended my blog post this way:

"He taught me. He shaped me. He loved me.

And this grief is the price I am paying for all of that. I am willing to pay the price, because it means I lived an authentic life with him - the good with the bad, the pain and the joy. I am willing to pay the price, because I have no regrets. I wanted the time I had with Rick. And I would not change that. So now I have to go through grief... because I loved.

Grief can be terrible, powerful, painful, and earth-shaking. Grief is the price of love. But it is worth it."

Then 1 month ago today, my focus was not on what was lost, but on what remains...

"I think in my 30 years on this earth, I've experienced a lot of pain. Maybe more than a lot of people who have been alive much longer. But all the grief has given me the ability to recognize happiness - true happiness. 

My appreciation scale has been adjusted. My gratitude is high. 

I have a lot of wonderful things at work in my life. I have a lot of wonderful people too."

Tonight, as I looked back on the 12th of each month since my world shifted, I can see progression... I can almost feel the life slip back into me. And I don't know how this story ends, because it continues...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reading at Last

Well, it's time to read again. I haven't read a book since before Rick died... so that's nearly 6 months. For me, that's a long time to go without reading.

Last week I purchased some books and yesterday they arrived. Now they're on the bookshelf that's replaced Rick's desk, waiting for me to open them and dive in.

I decided to buy a variety and these are just 3 of the books I purchased. The others are on their way. It's a mix of widow guidance and fiction that won't make me upset. At least that's the hope. I've been meaning to read Eat, Pray, Love for years. According to a select few, now is the opportune time.

For me, reading has always been an escape. It calms me when I need calming, comforts me when I need comforting, and appeals to my sense of adventure.

I remember countless times when I sat next to Rick in the living room, he watching sports and me reading. He would shout at the TV for hours and I would remain with my nose in a book unfazed.

There was a time we ran out of shelf space for my books. Now, I have more space for shelves...more space for books. I guess it's time to read.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Pull

It flows and ebbs, and ebbs and flows;
The pull of grief, it comes and goes.
I feel I leap, but then I fall...
There's open space, but then a wall.

Around the edges, flickers light,
Keeping me awake at night.
It flows and ebbs, and ebbs and flows;
The pull of grief, it comes and goes.

Perhaps it's just the dreams of more
That keep me waiting on the shore.
Perhaps it's just the tender bruise
Inside my soul that gives me clues.

It flows and ebbs, and ebbs and flows;
The pull of grief, it comes and goes.
My heart is open, then it's closed,
A thousand different questions posed.

Inside my heart, I hear a song.
It keeps me eager all night long.
It flows and ebbs, and ebbs and flows,
The pull of grief, it comes and goes.

And no one knows the things I feel -
That doesn't mean they aren't real.
A different pull becomes the norm;
Inside my mind there's such a storm.

It flows and ebbs, and ebbs and flows;
The pull of grief, it comes and goes.

(c) ALB 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Tap

In the interest of thinking less, I'll just explain what's on tap tonight...

On the stereo:
- Muchacho by Phosphorescent
- Ritual in Repeat by Tennis
- Cease to Begin by Band of Horses

On the TV:
- Lots of mindless entertainment such as...Project Runway All Stars
- Ghost Inside My Child
- Breaking Amish
- Once Upon a Time

On the phone:
- my friend Jennifer... for almost 2 hours to be exact

On the bed:
- a newly cleaned comforter/duvet cover
- Rick's flannel shirt

On the to-do list:
- laundry
- dishes
- bills

On the lap:
- Cat #1 (Tumbler)
- Cat #2 (Juice) (in order of their migration to my lap, not the order in which I love them)

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Alicia and I had an adventure today. I drove us to Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. As we entered Philly, there was a closed road and detour, which caused us to not be able to go where we needed to go. Scary, congested, city driving ensued. Some sweating, some horn honking, and some problem-solving later, Alicia and I arrived at our destination. We called it an adventure. 

We ate at Parc, we shopped, we drank coffee. I found things with cats on them to buy. 

Effortless friendship is a great thing. 

We talked about adventures. It's a good word, adventure.

ad·ven·ture (noun):

an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

I want to embark on unusual and exciting journeys. I want to have unusual and exciting experiences. I'm not sure how I feel about "typically hazardous," but if I put what life has in store for me into the same category of our day today, I understand how "typically hazardous" can be awesome. When something is "typically hazardous," it's a challenge. If you prevail, you gain self-satisfaction. You have excitement. You feel happiness in spite of the unusual adventure. 

Adventures are not necessarily inevitable. They won't happen unless you make them happen. You have to choose them. You have to start them. You have to take risks and make goals. You have to go for it, whatever it is. 

I don't want to have a life full of days. I want to have a life full of adventures.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Chick Flicks

Alicia and I spent the day talking and talking...baking delicious caramel cupcakes...drinking wine...and watching "chick flicks." We cried...we cried some more...and surprisingly we all fit in a chair...all four of us: Tumbler, Juice, Alicia, and me.

Then we laughed.

That's the beauty of real friendship: the ability to talk, to have fun, to cry, and to laugh...all in the same day.

I am lucky in friendship. I am blessed.

It's only 8:30pm... it feels like midnight. We know how to fill our time.

I am feeling good... but so terrified of life. I wish I could put my feelings into words. I wish I could explain. I wish I could give in to the fear and just go with the flow. I am grateful to have friends who will listen to me, who will hug me, and who will support me.

I have had a rough year.  A rough, rough, rough year. But I am lucky.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I've been spending a lot of time in my head lately. It's not necessarily a bad place to be, but I'm definitely ready for some girl time with my friend Alicia this weekend. She's en route to me right now from Michigan. As I try to get my blogging out of the way before she arrives, I say a little gratitude prayer for a friend who will hop a plane to see me not once, but twice in these almost 6 months since Rick's been gone.

In the mornings, I feel like my eyes snap open wide immediately, and my mind starts spinning, going over things a hundred times, trying to process through feelings and ideas and fears. Sometimes I think so hard while I'm driving that I pass my destination. My spinning thoughts are more about me, my emotions, and adjusting to my new life than they are about the void of Rick. I miss him, but if I stop thinking about the way in which he died, I can sort of come to terms with the fact that he's not here. I miss him, but the grief is not all-consuming most of the time. Most of the time...

The trick is to not go back to that day. To those feelings. To the trauma. To the mess of the line that divides wife from widow. I remind myself that moving forward feels better, and that propels me onward.

The more I tell myself not to overthink, the more it happens.

Alicia and I have no big plans. Just friendship time and a little less thinking on my part.

I can sense a shift in the blog this past month. It used to be that I blogged to soothe me, to help me feel heard, to process my feelings, and to grieve outwardly at the end of my day. These days, it seems to be more of an afterthought. I still want to do it. It's still useful for me. But I feel soothed without it...the feelings I'm processing are ones I prefer to ponder alone in quiet hours...and except for small bouts here and there, I think grieving outwardly is coming to a close. I do still have a need to feel heard, though. It's there, but it's different. When it comes right down to it, my needs are different every day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Maybe Soon

Slowly but surely, I am clearing the stuff I removed from the house out of the garage where it's been sitting for months. Soon I'll be able to fit my car in there again, just in time for the winter weather. In some ways, I feel like things are falling into place. In other ways, I feel like I'm full of nervous energy, spinning.

I have let go in ways that used to seem so far away. It feels strange to even type those words: I have let go.

I have been feeling more happiness than sadness lately. It's a new thing for me, because I can't remember a time that's happened since before Rick died. I find myself smiling.

I still cry plenty. But not nearly as much as I did last month. And there have been more tear-free days on my calendar. I feel I might almost be ready to delete Rick's golf from the DVR. Not today. But maybe soon.

I thought about going through his clothes...his shoes... It used to seem a heavy task, so daunting and painful. But now I think I could do it. Not tonight. But maybe soon.

I'm still full of fear, worry, and pain. But I can feel myself changing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voter #100

I voted this morning on my way to work. Gone are the days when my husband would be at my side. We used to go together in the morning or at least follow each other to the polls in 2 separate cars.

I filled out my slip and waited in line. I watched as the volunteer opened the book to the page of registered voters, pointing to my name for me to sign that I was there to vote today. Below my name was Rick's.

Empty space for his signature. 

Empty feeling in my heart.

Rick Bair. He won't be voting today.

As I was signing my name, I heard a volunteer say to a female voter in the line aside of me, "Oh, you're the other half!" as she opened the book to a page for her to sign above her husband's signature, since he had voted earlier.

Moments like that make me feel like I'm living in an alternate universe. Like Rick must be voting later too, signing his name below mine in the book. 

I was voter number 99 this morning. Rick would have been number 100.

I wrote this post earlier today, but didn't have a chance to post it. I was feeling a bit down because my world seemed off-kilter. But then I had dinner with Rick's brother Keith and his wife Kathy tonight before they head back to Florida. They reminded me of all the things I deserve... and as we talked, I could feel how hard I was smiling. Because I am actually excited about life. And I am sure they could see it too. So when I got home, it no longer felt right to post this blog entry without this addendum. This morning, I was mourning life without Rick by my side... and tonight, interestingly enough, I could hear parts of Rick in every word my brother-in-law said, both joking and serious...and what I heard was Rick saying, "Just do it. Just do it. Do everything you could never do when I was by your side."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Widow's Bill of Rights

Just making it up as I go... creating some rights... trying to empower myself...

1. I have the right to cry - whenever, wherever. 
2. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
3. I have the right to take my time.
4. I have the right to make my own decisions.
5. I have the right to express my emotions.
6. I have the right to change my mind.
7. I have the right to ask for what I need.
8. I have the right to adventure and healing, especially when the two go together.
9. I have the right to make mistakes.
10. I have the right to feel afraid.
11. I have the right to feel angry at my position.
12. I have the right to be happy.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Three Questions

My friend Rachel posted this on her Facebook page and it really spoke to me.

[by Lang Leav]

Good bye, when it's a final good bye, is a difficult concept to grasp. It feels so, so, so wrong - and that's why it hurts so much. The brilliance of the love that was is what makes good bye hurt so much. Being seen while being loved is what makes good bye hurt so much.

Perhaps that is why people who know just how much good bye hurts choose to say hello to crazy, new things they would never have done before. Perhaps that is why people who know just how much good bye hurts feel such comfort in new invitations. Perhaps that is why people who know just how much good bye hurts feel like they have nothing to lose when opportunity knocks.

Good bye, when it's a final good bye, will never feel right. There will always be a void to be filled. No amount of new things, welcome invitations, or opportunities will change that... But forgetting about the void that exists, even for just a while - that is a real possibility.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Today, I received counsel from my brother-in-law, Keith... which caused me to seek counsel from my friend Jennifer... which caused me to think long and hard about a multitude of things too deep for this blog at this time.

So many thoughts. So many ramblings. A random assortment:

I'm so tired.

I love my house, but I can't go in the basement. 

Alone is a scary word.

I'm confused.

I'm unsure.

I'm so tired.

Maybe I should think outside of the box and have a new adventure.

What is possible? What is impossible?

What is realistic?

Maybe I should just have fun.

I'm confused.

I'm so tired.

It's about that time of night when my thoughts make no sense and I begin to imagine a million scenarios of the future. All of them scare me in some way.

I feel like a fish out of water. I don't want to deal with anything. I need to suck it up and remember that I can call the shots. I need to suck it up and remember that the right path is never the easiest one. I need to take chances.
And maybe I need to stop overthinking.