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To those faithful readers…

I know that it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated here. After my mother’s death, things became difficult in ways I was not expecting. It made it difficult for me to update properly, and quite frankly, I just wasn’t motivated to do it anyway.

It wasn’t that I stopped grieving over Jon, or was too busy. But losing my mother brought out a side of grief in me that I wasn’t expecting. In short, I became somewhat numb. I could really only handle the basics. I took care of my girls and my household, but otherwise, I had a hard time dealing and accepting her death for awhile.

Without Jon and without my mother, the isolation became something almost too hard to avoid. I found myself in a place where I didn’t quite know where I fit. My in-laws have moved on, along with my other family. Everyone I know is pretty much tired of hearing our sob story, (and they’ve made sure to let me know.) To put it bluntly: my girls and I are pretty much on our own, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Some days are definitely better than others, and I’ve worked hard to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for my daughters. ¬†We stay involved in church and stay close to those who make the effort. This is our new normal.

Over the past five months or so, my body started to react to all the stress of the past five years. Anxiety and depression came on stronger than I ever thought it could, and it put my most creative outlets out of commission for awhile. I felt that I had no choice but to go back to counseling, and seek out treatment. I am happy to say that I’ve come a long way in the past two months. I still struggle with anxiety and some other things, but I am much better off than I was before. The good news is that my prayer life is stronger than ever, too. ūüôā

Anyway, I feel like it’s time to say that I no longer feel like writing in this blog anymore. I don’t believe I’m “actively grieving” as I once was, even though I’m clearly dealing with leftover emotional fallout. Instead, the things I’m dealing with are more private in nature, and I would rather not talk about them here.

I’ll probably start a new blog one of these days that’s more general, as far as my life and thoughts go. I don’t know when that will be, however. For now, it’s just contemplation.

I don’t plan on deleting this blog and if my previous entries are of any comfort to anyone, please feel free to comment if you need to. I’ll do my best to answer when I can.

Thank you all for the past five years of support. It’s definitely been the hardest five years of my life, but I’m glad I was able to vent and discuss things here, without real fear of judgement. When I look back on some of the things I’ve written, I can definitely see how far I’ve come since Jon died, and how much better my mentality is. I’m happy to say I’m a lot less petty than I used to be, and I’m a lot more compassionate. Regardless of the difficulties I’ve faced, I’m happy with who I’ve turned out to be.

With that said, I wish you all peace, love, prosperity and comfort.

God Bless you.

Maria

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I’ve written here before about the plight of my mother’s illness, and now, I write of her memory. Since this is a public grieving blog, I feel it is appropriate to memorialize her here, along with my husband Jon.

My mother, Michaelina Bellamy, passed away Saturday morning from complications due to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She was 59 years old. She fought very hard for over a year, and in the end, was so worn out from all the medications, the chemo and the illness itself, that her body could not take any more. She did not want to die when she did, but I know she is in Heaven, with the Savior she believed in and all her family members before her. She is no longer in pain, and I can imagine her with a full head of her beautiful blond hair. I believe this with all of my heart.

I’ve been trying to write about my mom since she left this Earth and finally found peace. It’s been difficult. When I think of her, I try not to see her lying in the ICU, pale and barely alive, breathing on a ventilator. I hate that memory. I hate that I keep thinking I need to call her, or run by the hospital for something. Last night, when I drove by along the freeway, I realized I had no need to go back there again. As much as I hated having to see her in there, it broke my heart. I have voice mails from her, from a month ago, where she’s asking me to bring her a smoothie. I wish I had the opportunity to do that again.

And of course, as is the nature of the beast called Grief, my emotions have been all over the place. Some moments, I’m OK, and everything is Business As Usual. Then, out of no where, the idea of her missing something she would like, or the daunting task of going through all her things brings it all upfront. I’m crippled with the idea that she’s gone. And she’s gone for good. ūüė¶

I know what I believe. I believe I’ll see her again, and I really do look forward to that day. But after grieving for my husband for the past 4 years, I realize that I need to be here, taking care of my girls and holding down the fort until they can handle things themselves. I have learned it is my place to follow through with my life, no matter where it takes me.

However, there is a huge hole in my life now, where my mom once was. It’s hard to fathom that I won’t be able to call her phone and talk to her anymore. It’s hard to believe that I won’t ever see her sing live on stage, or play with her grandchildren. It’s hard to accept that she is simply gone, even if it’s to a much better place. It hurts, and it’s hard.

My mother wasn’t always orthodox. She didn’t spend Sunday nights baking cookies or making school lunches. She mostly worked through the weekends, and slept in past the first bell. She was prettier and younger-looking than the moms of some of my friends, and thus, she was never quite accepted by the “PTA Mothers.” When I was a kid, I resented that. I didn’t want a mom who could sing and was on tour all the time. I wanted a mom who took us to ball games and was up for breakfast before we were. I wanted a mom who asked me about my day after school and ate dinner with us at the table, instead of serving us and rushing out the door to a gig.

But that wasn’t the type of mom she was. Instead, she was ambitious, but kind. She was motivated, but sometimes distracted. She had the greatest sense of humor. And she was, more than anything: loving. Even though I spent a lot of my childhood waiting for her to come home from being on the road, I always missed her the same. When she was home, things felt better. I could be mad at her for leaving, but so happy when she was finally home. I was always old enough to know what I was missing, but I was so proud of her accomplishments.

She could do anything. She crocheted blankets, sewed costumes, cooked amazing meals, baked amazing pies, canned preserves (her plum jam was to die for!), fixed anything electronic, (Her first MOS in the military was mechanical. Believe it or not, ¬†she was going to train to fix planes), and when we were sick, she always seemed to know what to do. She almost never doubted herself, and sometimes, that got her into trouble. If she didn’t doubt herself, she didn’t doubt others either. And she learned some harsh lessons about who she could trust with her career, as well as with her children.

Our relationship was hot and cold when I was a teenager. I was resentful of her distance, and I would push her away when she would come home. Yet, I always wanted her to be my Mom. There were times when she thought being my friend was better than fighting with me all the time. I chose to resent her for that, too. She tried to get it right, and I didn’t let her. Her methods weren’t always good, but she did try.

It wasn’t until I had my own child and my first marriage failed miserably, that I finally comprehended her perspective on our own family. She tried her best to keep us afloat, while my father’s politics kept us living hand-to-mouth. I have no bitterness towards either of them for that, but now that I’ve seen how hard it is when two people have different ideas for what a home life should be like, I don’t blame her for trying to hold up the roof. That meant that she went on the road, some years for 48 weeks at a time. We weren’t starving, and my sisters and I always lived in nice houses in better neighborhoods. But I never quite understood the struggle she had just to make sure it stayed that way. I have nothing against my father for this. For what it’s worth, he did his best, too. Just in a different way.

I blamed her for a lot of things that I had no understanding of. The dynamic between us in my twenties was strained because she refused to be blamed for what she thought were the best decisions, and I was too immature to realize you can’t go on blaming your parents for a past you wish you had but didn’t. And when I finally grasped that, our relationship began to heal. I let her into my life, and she finally answered me without bitterness.

She was in my corner for every struggle I had as a single mom, and after I remarried. She took care of my oldest when my second daughter was born, and helped me regularly, whenever it was needed. She was there when my husband collapsed in our bedroom and protected my youngest from all the scary paramedics and police officers traipsing through our apartment that early morning. And in the year that followed, she saved me from losing my mind. She cooked, cleaned, babysat and even just held me. She slept in our bedroom with me during the first month after Jon died. She refused to leave me alone. She petitioned people to pray for me, and often prayed over me herself. Those were some of the hardest and most painful days of my life, and she supported me through all of them. I could never ask for more than what she gave, and she gave more than I could ever ask for. And I never had to ask.

I think that’s the hardest for me, now. The fact that someone, who is such an integral part of my identity, has passed is incredibly difficult for me to process. You’d think it would be easier after losing Jon, but it is its own sort of hard. Similar, but different. ¬†I have to figure out how to deal with it on my own, without the benefit of her experience or wisdom. Everything in my life is really up to me, even though it technically has been for years. I still feel like I’ve landed once again blind in an unfamiliar landscape. Nothing is impossible, but without her, it’s going to be difficult.

I know have a loving family, and wonderful friends. I know that I will be blessed by their support and love, along with my sisters. I am so grateful for that.

And mostly, I’m grateful for the fact that a young woman, 24 years old and single, decided to have me regardless of what anyone thought. She was on the verge of becoming a star, performing with celebrity after celebrity, dancing and singing on the Las Vegas Strip, for US Presidents and recording with the prestigious Airmen of Note. My existence put a pause on that life and she didn’t care. She wanted me anyway, and welcomed me, despite the difficulties it presented. I was wanted and loved. Always.

My last real words to her were of gratitude. I made sure that she knew how grateful I am to be her daughter. I made sure to tell her how much I appreciate her sacrifices for me over the years. I plan on living my life with Joy and Triumph, just as she did. It is the least I can do for everything that she has done for me.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for everything.

Image

Michealina Bellamy

June 13, 1952 – April 7, 2012

When I can’t sleep. When the wind is too loud outside my windows and I find myself indulging in someone else’s radio music…I think of you.

I think of those nights when I wasn’t lonely because of you. I think of those times in the wee small hours, when we found breakfast and love across a worn formica table.¬†

When those moments between night and morning come fleeting across my memory, I only think of how grateful I am that I should have been depressed then, and you wouldn’t let me. Of how I should have fallen victim to all my bad mistakes. You helped me make the best ones.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you again. Because I am only aware of how lonely I am after knowing how wonderful it was to be by your side. 

I’m at a point in my grief where I don’t want to associate too much with my status. I know that sounds strange for a widow to admit, (and maybe it doesn’t), but I’m tired of having to tell people about it. I hate how awkward it makes things. I hate how I have to gloss over things as if it’s no big deal, and go on with conversation as quickly as possible to avoid the weight of heavy pity that usually hangs around like a stench in the air.

The most obvious solution is to just not bring it up. One would think that it’s not too difficult in everyday life to avoid mentioning something so deep and heavy. I wish I could say that this is correct and that I almost never have to update even the most menial relationships to such serious business. However, this is not the case. Oddly enough, I have had to explain things to people more than I would ever want, (or expect) to. It happens a lot with other parents, in places as casual as the park, or more regularly, at my daughter’s school. Or it happens when I’m getting my oil changed on my truck. This is probably due to the fact that A. I’m a woman and stereotypes still exist regarding our knowledge of auto-mechanics in popular culture; and B. because there is a seriously high turnover rate at any of the hundreds of local service stations in my city. But it’s not just at these places or because I’m a female.

It’s the strangest thing. The more I try to avoid talking about it, the more I find myself at the dreaded crossroads of either Having To Explain That My Husband Passed Away or Just Lie and Act Like He’s Still Around.

I cannot tell you how increasingly irritating it’s becoming. It’s not something that I am faced with everyday, but at least a few times a week. As connected as I am in this town, I meet new people everyday. People who naturally pry and ask questions even in casual chat. I never knew how much information people are used to exchanging in everyday conversation. Parents talk about child rearing as easily as they talk about professional sports. Our culture has become so competitive and intrusive, that other mothers I encounter will simply ask what my situation is, or just blurt out a scenario regarding the obvious lack of a father figure at school functions, and wait for me to explain. I find myself becoming increasingly less interested in connecting with other parents, or anyone on more than a superficial level, just to avoid the inevitable awkwardness that will eventually swallow up any further conversation between us.

Sometimes, I just go along with not explaining to people that my husband is dead. I just nod my head and smile, because yes, my daughter is obviously going to be tall, and she must take after her father. And do we have anymore children? Are they all tall? Did my husband play basketball? Oh really? What does he do now?

It bothers me that I perpetuate something dishonest because it saves me from handing someone the anvil of truth that my life has become. But sometimes, I just don’t feel like reminding myself how much I’ve lost. And every time I find myself in this sort of scenario, I am truly reminded of where I wish I was, compared to where I am.

It makes it terribly difficult to “let things go” when I have to constantly identify with that part of my life. I come into society with an¬†asterisk; a subtext of definition that sets me apart from most of society at my age. (It doesn’t help that people assume I’m a lot younger than I am, either.) And people simply don’t know what to do with it. What do you say to the woman who could easily be like anyone around her, save for one major detail. The reactions I get from people make me feel both guilty and frustrated. I have become the Queen of Changing The Subject just to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.

I don’t have a solution for this. I’m not going to pick up the defense and start swinging anytime anyone gets too nosy. I’m not going to blame someone for just talking without realizing that they’re treading on dangerous territory. But it does make my life incredibly difficult. It’s something I would have never have realized had I not been dealing with it for the past three years or so.

For now, I’m just going to keep listening, nodding and ducking the arrows while dodging the bullets. I’m going to continue the rather intimate relationship I’ve developed with my iPod, (ha), and hopefully, people will disinterest themselves in my silence, while appreciating it for its golden hue.

Once again, my¬†subconscious or whatever was keenly aware that I had reached the halfway point between three years and four years. For whatever reason, things seem to happen at sixth month intervals for me. I don’t try to do this. It’s just how things tend to happen.

Which meant that Thursday wasn’t my favorite day.

However, I got a double-whammy for that Thursday morning that I’m still trying to recover from.

I’ve been debating how much I of my life I want to share here. I originally wanted to use this blog strictly for the purposes of documenting my grief over my husband’s death. While I’ve succeeded in doing so, I’ve also had to cut out a lot of my life as it happens. While I’ve spent the last three and a half years raising my girls, keeping up a house and weathering the changes, I’ve grieved in the background, missing my husband with every hill and valley.

It’s been difficult, but nothing I cannot manage.

That is, until now. And I won’t even say that I can’t manage it. I’ll just say that I am anxious. I am frightened. And I am asking for those that read, to pray.

My mother was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia last Spring, and has spent the last six months going through chemotherapy. It’s been a difficult process. She’s lost all her pretty blonde hair, and is thinner than she’s ever been. She is a singer by trade, and has barely been able to sing at all, which breaks her heart. There are other things that happen as they do, but because of her illness, they seem harder to deal with.

In the past six months, I’ve put large amount of my life on hold to help her with the immense details that come with suddenly having a serious illness. That means a lot of my grieving has been more like a by-product that I have struggled to attend to. I guess hoped that because I wasn’t focusing on it as much, it wouldn’t be as hard to deal with. In some ways, this is true. I am much stronger now than I was three years ago. However, as things get more serious with my mother’s prognosis, the old shadow known as Grief warns me that it’s not quite done yet.

My mother needs a stem cell transplant (aka bone marrow), and she needs it as soon as they find a match. We were all hoping that my Uncle Reno would be a match for her, as he is her brother, but he is not. So, now it’s the luck of the draw. They are trying to cross match her with someone as fast as they can.

Thursday morning, the doctor very frankly told my mother that she will die without this transplant, and that the clock is ticking. She gave my mom a time frame that isn’t as long as we’d hoped for.

Just the idea that she may not be here next Summer makes me sick inside. Despite our many personality clashes, she has always been my mother. She was the only person who stayed with me in those first few months after Jon died, cleaning my house and making sure my kids had eaten and were clean. She hovered around me when I wouldn’t listen to anyone through my anger, never leaving through my frustrations. It was a very difficult and painful time for me. Probably the most painful. And my mother was with me the entire way.

She has certainly suffered through her own mistakes and tragedies in her life. But her accomplishments will never be overshadowed. I still believe that she has things to do, and there are six grandchildren that love her unconditionally.

And really, I need her. When things get really bad, she’s really the only person that I can trust to help me find a solution. My list of people who I know I can count on is dwindling. And I’m not talking about good friends. I have many wonderful people who I can call my friends, and they are all awesome. ¬†I’m talking about the people who know you so well, they never give up on you. They make your issues their issues and because they can see from the outside in, are able to help you find your way out. The type of people who define the word family, regardless of whether or not you’re actually related to them. My mother is the champion of that type of relationship for me.

I am not ready to say goodbye to her. I know as well as anyone that Death does not often give us a choice. But I also know that if she succumbs, I will have forever to miss her. Right now, I am not ready to mourn.

I have chosen to fight with her, knowing how devastating or how rewarding it could be. And we really need your prayers. She needs a match, and it needs to happen soon. We are not ready to give up. We are not done yet.

I suppose I never will.

I can feel like I’m moving in a new direction, or letting go of all the painful things; only to quite suddenly miss him like he died just yesterday.

And in the past week, he’s been back in my thoughts. I long for him in the morning when I wake up, and his name is somehow written on my eyelids when I try to sleep.

It’s not like I have some kind of special date coming up. We’re coming close on the half-year mark, but I know I’m not hung up over it. I passed all my important dates this Summer with grace and ease, relatively speaking. I held my common tears and bit my lower lip in defiance. Grief did not take the best of me this year. I doubt it will do so, again.

But I really miss him lately. For no reason other than I miss him. I miss him enough to dream of his face, and his smile. To have a stolen moment with him, as if I have to ask for one. And his voice was so perfect in my ear, that I lay in bed for a few minutes past dawn, replaying it over and over again.

I wrote more poetry, thinking that would somehow expel what feels like an on-coming storm. It only made me realize how fresh I can bring him to mind.

I don’t have any ¬†clich√©s or fancy words to say this time. I don’t know why I feel surprised that somehow my thoughts of him cannot be reality. I only know that I find myself wondering when I’ll see him next, as if he was just here. I have to remind myself that I can’t wish for what cannot be, and the disappointment feels foreign. I feel as if I am just figuring this all out all over again.

Will it always be this way?


Lucid 

We are ghosts here, pretending the party still lives.

The Sun; to poke his latent fingers through the broken glass,

pays no mind to our borrowed rally, its beams piercing right through.

And in my bony fingers, I possess a thousand breaths, each one

from a different moment touching your skin; and your arms, they

fit like branches around my neck.

We intertwine, growing vines and shedding dead leaves.

Around us we are all at once Fall and Winter;

cold and falling, but always alive.

The taste of you decays on my lips:

a fragment of old flowers and the memory of your favorite mints.

If I close my withered lids, I can see your face, green from

your dashboard radio, and hear the old lyrics to our favorite

echoing tunes.

So long ago, when the word girl could describe me

with impatience and awkward lust.

When my desire was stronger than my need,

and I so often confused the two.

My heaven is a vapor, a grey memory for

someone else’s sunrise dreams. Those last

vibrations, still bouncing around,

becoming ever quieter still. The last chance

to hear you say “I love you,” exactly as you did.

My grip, like Death, to refuse release on what I once

knew, keeps me a phantom, an ivory skeleton, hanging

silently in my darkened closet. I can wait here, and I do.

It’s easier than you think.

What do you do when the dust starts to settle? Do you clean it up and hope that nothing else makes a mess?

I think that sometimes, I feel like I have to force perfection on every situation until it becomes out of joint and dramatic again. I don’t want to do that this time.

I know this may sound wrong, (or not), but I don’t want to rock any more boats. I don’t want to cause any more trouble than anything is worth. I just want to live my life, however long it may be, in peace. I’ve noticed that in the past year or so, I’ve cut out a lot of negativity and bad crap. (And there really is no better title for it) I did it impulsively in some cases, and I did others with a lot of thought. If there is anything that my widowhood has taught me, it’s that I am completely in control over what I can control. It sounds redundant, but there are times when you have to take the selfish road, and think about yourself. Not always, but there are definitely times.

I’m still in the process of clearing away the junk, but it’s hard not to stop and think: Wow, things feel so much lighter now! I don’t care about so many things I used to care about. And my own personal B.S detector works so much better. Whether or not someone is lying or being truthful, I can tell from a much further distance. It’s enabled me to avoid things. It’s amazing what a little foresight can do.

I know – I have the ugly habit of being vague and confusing at times. (Like right now) I don’t mean to be. I’m just really proud of myself for having this perspective. It’s one of the biggest things I loved about Jon. He had such a sense of foresight and mental calm. There were days he spent discouraged by what he perceived in people he thought he could trust. But he also knew better than to stay connected to those people, and he did so without major issue. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cool enough to avoid drama as smoothly as Jon did, but I know I can avoid it.

I’m going through another phase of grief that I don’t understand. The last time was last December. I had a feeling of immense peace that seemed to come almost overnight. Suddenly, it didn’t hurt to miss him as much as I did. Life was moving along at its normal pace, and I finally felt like I had caught up with it. That incessant pain I felt in the first few years, (that I had gotten used to), was no longer there. Sure, I loved him still, and I missed him just as much; but I was set free from feeling like every day was one big chore. It was like the brick that had settled in my chest was just gone, one morning. It hasn’t been back.

Now, I feel like I am not on chaos-mode anymore. I don’t have to come out with my fists swinging, ready to make the world spit teeth. There seems to be much more time to consider things, to make decisions with a clear head. I have a lot going on. I’m preoccupied with my mother’s illness, and making sure my kids wake up everyday in a normal house. And I can actually focus on these things. My grief isn’t getting in the way. It’s such a separate part of my life now, that it confuses me. Even though I still struggle with lack of sleep and missing my husband in the dark nights.

But it’s not breaking me down, destroying all the work I do during the day.

Sometimes, I still indulge in how much I miss Jon. Sometimes, I still feel the need to fantasize about what it would be like if he were still here. Would we still be as happy as we were? Would he still have his job? Would we still be in this city, fighting the same fight? In my fantasies, we are still as we were. It’s nice to think that we could weather anything coming our way, because we loved each other so much. We loved each other, so very much.

I know how long it’s been since he passed away. A lot of my life stopped then. I look back and realize how far I’ve come from that moment nearly 3 and a half years ago. I still feel like I’ve fallen more than I’ve accomplished. I’ve had to stop and re-do more times than I can count.

But things are changing once again. I feel like things are coming to some weird sort of closure. And yes when I type this, it doesn’t sound quite right. Closure isn’t the best word. I don’t know exactly what is, but I am peaceful. In my heart, I am peaceful.

This three-year mark passed very quietly. I didn’t make a huge spectacle of the third year of your passing. I didn’t plan an event or even write you a public letter, as I have done in the past. (until now, of course.)

It’s not that I didn’t think of you. In fact, I think I thought of you every second of that entire day. I think we were in constant conversation, as I struggled to finalize what I thought would be proof of my great healing. I wanted people to see that I can handle my life without you, and that it didn’t take that long to get here.

The truth is that I CAN handle life without you, but it’s taken some serious effort. And that effort still hurts. But for the Grace of God, have I strived to face each day with a grasp of any hope I can find. Because I miss you. And because I love you, still.

I have a learned a few things, and they have re-shaped my entire mentality. When this all started and you left me behind, I felt more alone than I had ever felt in my entire life. I couldn’t look forward to my future, because all that I had ever wanted selfishly, was taken away in one horrible, tragic moment.

Simply stated: my world was destroyed. Not my ENTIRE world, but everything I had built-in my little universe that I felt would fulfill me and make me happy for the rest of my life. You were the root of that happiness and the plan of my future. You were the love of my heart, and the soul of my identity. It took your carnal graduation, (for lack of a better term), to break down the false idealisms I had built around myself. I wanted to be responsible for my own happiness. I did not want to relinquish control of my life, even unto God, without making sure that you were part of my existence and our life would continue together.

But God always has other plans. And I’ve learned over the past three years that He doesn’t always share them with us; especially while we are making our own. Instead, He waits patiently while we contrive and operate our little systems of thought, for us to finally ask Him to step in and take over. Like us, He won’t accept simple navigational responsibilities. He wants the entire operation, and His place is the Captain’s Helm.

Does this mean that He took you away from me to teach me how to trust Him? No. But I believe He allowed you to be a part of my life because I could learn this lesson no other way. Your time on this planet was short, from the time you were born. In retrospect, all of our time is short. But in comparison, you were born into a life that would not last as long as others. Your affliction was genetic. You were born with weak veins, that had weak walls. Like your father and paternal grandmother before you, you would succumb to their weakness, unless you somehow found out about them before they gave way.

Like an ill-fated house next to a river bank, your levees were not strong enough to contain the flood.

This had nothing to do with me. This had nothing to do with you, really. Had you been able to control your aneurysms, you might have prolonged your lifespan. But not without much suffering and high risk. It does not make your life any less lived, or any less important. But only that your time was shorter than mine.

And even still, I believe that we were brought together to love and comfort each other. To procreate and bring our daughter into the world. I believe that we were meant to be together, even for the short time allotted, if only to teach each other what it means to love unconditionally, despite circumstance.

I do not believe in marriage after death, therefore you are no longer the husband I married. But you are still my family, and I look forward to the reward of seeing you in eternity, someday. This was my very first hope, and I clung to it like driftwood. It brought me to the possibilities that hoping in a promise such as this might bring. It was a seed that birthed my faith. Not a platitude of random words and pretty pictures, but a real faith, in something that I either have to deny fully or accept fully. I chose to accept, and thus, my healing began. It never stopped, even in the midst of my pride, my anger and my complacency. Today, no one can shake me from what I choose to believe. My faith in God, His plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ and the promise of living forever in His presence was essential in helping me accept what I have lost on this Earth. That faith will never be shaken.

And despite all that I have learned. Despite the strength I have gained, and the hope I can no longer shake by the mention of Death or anything else, I have not lost the love I had for you from the very beginning. I do not understand how this will pan out in God’s great plan, but I am not worried about it. For now, my heart remains oddly sated, even though I have not heard you speak my name for more than three years.

If you are looking upon me, as your earthly wife, and the mother of your children, I hope you see a woman who is healing, and finally at peace with our separation. I truly believe God has great things in mind for me, and for our girls. And despite what people may interpret, I still believe you peek in on us, even now. I know you are around. Just as I know that the Holy Spirit comforts me, guides and gets rather frustrated with me on a daily basis ūüėČ

I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot to go through and to process. But I have The Peace that passes ALL understanding. It is a current of hope within my heart that reminds me that everything will be OK in the end. And if it isn’t yet OK, it’s not the end.

I love you always, my Jonathan. I know you know this. I still cannot wait to see you again.

Maria

It’s important to point out that it happens, just like that. I’m talking about grief and how it can attack you at anytime, no matter how far away you are from Point A.¬†

It can be so quick. I could be reading a book called Little Bee, and there is a character, and she is Sarah. She is missing a finger, and laughs because it still itches. And the grim-faced policemen are forced to blurt out the news that her husband died suddenly at his home. Apparently, he just dropped dead, just like that. And she gets to pick out an oak casket, and she gets to explain to a four-year-old what death means. And she marvels at how it hasn’t even hit her yet.

Well…why would it? But she isn’t real, and her character-husband didn’t really die, and even though it’s true how oddly funny funeral salespeople can be, (oak is such a classic choice). I didn’t go with oak. I went with aluminum, (I think?). It was a brushed silver casket, because Jon liked brushed silver, and I picked some sort of golf stationary, (Oh? Did he golf, too?) and it was only because it had trees. Jon liked trees.He never golfed.

Suddenly, I am there. I am right back in that odd-smelling office, with the odd-cookie-baking sales guy, who was LDS and didn’t want to be buried with shoes. I hate the smell of lilies and old coffee. I hate the look of gleaming brushed silver, and I hate the pall of old, yellowed memories that find their way through the words of some stupid book that was great all the way up until now.

I don’t even want to read the rest of the book, (which is undoubtedly very good), because I don’t want to read how the author totally messes up the real season of grief that his Sarah-character won’t really go through. It will just be a blemish on her weird, written up world, but I won’t be able to ignore it. I won’t be able to pretend that his Sarah didn’t lose her husband to quick death, like I lost mine. It will bother me until I read the same passage again and again, and marvel at how she doesn’t seem to be feeling the same way I felt. Until I remember that she doesn’t breathe the way I do, and she doesn’t really exist the way anyone does.

 And this, my friends, is how Grief, with its ever-present rumble, its low-vibrating scowl, can sneak up and destroy you in two minutes.

We should win awards for how well we are able to quickly pull ourselves together and pretend it never happened. Books, magazines, blogs, billboards….they should all come with warning labels. Mine fields ahead.

Weslee woke up with me this morning, and we were silent for a minute. I did what I always do, and read through my Twitter feed to help stimulate my brain¬† and wake up. (Don’t judge – it works)

I read www.penmachine.com/2011/05/the-last-post and it choked me up. My favorite part was the last: “I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Suddenly, after I was following some of his tags, Weslee spoke for the first time that morning.

“I miss Daddy. I wish he was here. How come he can’t come down and visit us?”

It’s so hard to explain to her what death is, and why it happens the way it does. For now, she knows that his head got sick, and the doctors couldn’t fix it. I told her that they did the best they could, but sometimes it doesn’t work. And she likes to think that he’s in Heaven, building her a castle to live in when it’s time for her to go there. I told her it won’t be for a long time, (which was as much for myself as for her), and she said she knows.

It’s funny how this type of thing happens during this time of year. Since the first year out, there’s a part of my subconscious that knows the date is coming, and reacts to it. I can be totally preoccupied with my mom’s health, or the girls or anything else, and I can feel it. I feel run down, and my mind is distracted.

More so than normal.

Aurora brought it up to me the other day, too. She misses him. And like me, she wonders where we would be right now, had Jon never died. Like her, I have no idea.

This year, the pain is less. It’s not that I don’t miss Jon, or that I’m getting over it, so to speak. It’s more that the missing him doesn’t hurt as much. I was so afraid to get to a place where it didn’t hurt as much, because I thought that it would make me miss him less. I thought it would make me lose him.

I was wrong. I miss him just as much as I ever did. And there hasn’t been a single moment where I don’t wish he was with me.

But the pain of all those wishes and the pain that usually resides in the emptiness he left is going away. I wait and wait for that ever-present kick-to-the-gut feeling I normally get when I miss him and need him at any given moment….and it’s no longer there.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t get triggered. I do, in the weirdest ways. There are still places I haven’t gone, and things I haven’t done that I know remind me far too much of how much I have lost, and how much I love him still. And sometimes, just thinking of those places produces that same gut-wrenching feeling of loss, that same painfully dry emptiness, that I have become accustomed to, and have learned to avoid like mines in a field.

This is year three. And I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d be able to say how much easier it has been, but it has. Perhaps it has to do with the things I’m dealing with in my present life, or just that I have made decisions to progress, even when I didn’t feel like doing so. There have been so many times when I haven’t wanted to get up and face my life, and so many times when I had to over-caffeinated myself just to follow through with the basic stuff. I have to be honest and admit that being a parent hasn’t given me the choice to wallow, and it’s been the best excuse to keep going. But I shouldn’t need one, and I know this.

Lately, I haven’t had to use an excuse to get up and live my life. I won’t use some ridiculous platitude to explain it way, either. I don’t feel like I’m learning to “dance in the rain” or any other such nonsense. Instead, I think I’ve done the most basic, simple thing: I have accepted.

I keep saying that I’m learning to accept, or that I’m in the process of accepting…all these things were true in the past. It was a process that I had to either follow through with or continue waiting for my Prince to walk through my front door and tell me the “The truck is runnin’ woman! Lets go!”

How nice would that be?

That’s not going to happen, though. And as I continue on with my life, I realize that it’s OK to let Jon go, more and more. As I do, I have discovered something remarkable to me, that I had never expected: I can miss him, and love him and think about him as much as I want, and let him go at the same time.

Really. It sounds contradictory to those of us who never want to let go of what we had with our spouses, but it’s the truth. I still love him very much, and I still miss him always, but he is there, and I am here, and it is OK.

Really, it is.

I even notice him around still, in his daughter’s eyes or catching his scent on a passing breeze. I know he is there, and I know we are OK. I know that I can keep going, knowing I can take the best of us and what we were, into my future, whatever it brings. Being Jon’s wife was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it has permanently adjusted who I am, guiding me into being who I want to be.

My new normal finally feels like just normal. And for the first time in three years, I can’t wait to see what my future looks like.