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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.

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 😉

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

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that “time will heal,” or “time will make it better,” I’d have a lot of nickels and no where to put them.

But I am want for nickels and I know from experience that time itself will not heal anything.

Between today and where I was in May of 2008, there has been a lot of laughter, and a million tears. I have cried in anguish, and I have relished accomplishments. I have felt lonelier than I ever have, and I have been grateful for the support of my many friends that never seems to cease. I have lived enough, in these 29 months, to believe that despite the invalidation that such a phrase can conjure in a newly grieving person, it does come from a very profound truth. However, it’s not a truth that can be explained away by an insensitive platitude. It must be experienced.

I now think of time like a vessel. Life and all it’s inhabitants are on a journey, and whether we participate in it or not, that vessel keeps moving, ever forward. You cannot stop it, and you cannot put your hand over your mouth and wave to get off. There have been many times that I have wanted to do so, and despite my retching and desparate waving, I am still along for the ride. Eventually, I chose to participate, and in doing so, I found my first real moments of healing.

The problem with trying to explain my thinking now, to someone who is where I was then, is that newly widowed people are so saturated with Death. It is everywhere we go: in our clothes, in our hair, on our walls, and in our hearts. Like a black hole, it swallows the life we wanted to live completely, and we are left numb and confused, while people struggle to comfort us. It tells only of an unknown future, and that can be completely overwhelming. It scares us into believing that we have no reason to continue, and we feel completely vulnerable. How, then, can a future, that brings us there via time, be of any comfort at all?

The answer is simple, but it stings. And Death wants us to hate it. 

We have to live. That is what time holds in it’s mechanical fingers: life, and the time we have here on Earth. And to most people, that means two of the worst words ever said to the bereaved: Move On.

I totally disagree with this, and call it an outright lie. People have no idea what it means to “move on.” I think that phrase is nothing but an indirect way of saying, “I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

No. Living doesn’t not mean “Moving On,” and I would never suggest anyone try to do that. No one really moves on from anything, in my opinion. Just ask anyone about things they dealt with in their past. Most of them will tell you ever ready sob stories about their difficult childhoods and prior experiences. And if they don’t, they will tell you about the great ones. Either way, they haven’t moved on from those things. They have simply learned to live with them.

We’ve all heard the adage about diamonds, and how they are forged from carbon, ugly and uncut. We all know that a jeweler will work with their many facets, cutting and polishing them until they are worthy to be sold for a large price. We all know that what it takes to end up who we are, whether we are delicate and diplomatic, or stoic and steadfast. Whatever areas we are of strong character, we all know what it has taken to get there.

Like those experiences, this one will cut us a new facet to catch a new light. And it is not necessarily time that will take us there, but a life lived, in pain or in pleasure, between the past and the future. It is a multitude of experiences and lessons that will elevate us to understand that time is irrelevant. What matters is how we lived.

There’s a lot of buzz around the social-networking world right now about the recent addition of the status “widowed” to Facebook. Word is, a bunch of widows rallied together to convince the Facebook Gods to add the status, because, as I completely identify, being a widow doesn’t necessarily mean you are “single” and you know you are no longer “married.”

At first glance, this was good news to me. Young widows (50 and below) are often ignored by the community. They’re often self-sufficient, and almost always a single parent. It’s good to be able to acknowledge that there are at least 13 million widowed moms and dads under the age of 50 in the United States alone. I’m expecting that number to increase in the future, due to the war on terror and the numerous casualities it has brought to us as a nation, and to the families in it.

However, I have a slight problem with having the option of changing my Facebook status and announcing to the world, (which really only consists of my friends, since I have a private account), that I am a woman whose husband died. 

This means that I would have to cancel the relationship status that Jon and I set up in 2006, when we first got our Facebook accounts. We went from “in a relationship with…” to “married to…”

Happy couples and newlyweds will know how good it felt when we could connect with each other that way. Because of our emerging sociology as a technological race, it was very much like announcing to the world that only the two of us were that significant to each other. I wasn’t just “Married,”  as I am on Myspace or any other social networking site. I was married with a definitive link to Jon’s profile, and his to mine. He belonged me. And I belonged to him.

What a funny word: “Belonged.”  Breaking it down changes the exact meaning to me.  The words “Be” and “Long” don’t necessarily convey possession as they do want or desire.  Belonging to someone doesn’t make you their property, really. It means that you are a part of them. And in my mind, you LONG for them to BE with you.

I am still in that place where I long for Jon to be with me.  I still miss sleeping next to him, and I still wish to be able to go back and change things, despite what I believe and know. I am still very much his wife, in so many ways. It’s hard for me to imagine not belonging to anyone, let alone Jon.  I’ll admit that the thought scares me quite a bit, even though it probably shouldn’t. I don’t like the idea of being “single because of death.”  I don’t think anyone would argue with me about how much that idea sucks.

There are a lot of people who have been in Widow Country for a shorter time than I have, and have bravely made the transition from “Married” to “Single” or “Widowed.”  I am not there yet. I’m sure that many of them didn’t have a Facebook account before their spouses died, and it’s probable that their spouse didn’t have one to connect to, before. Maybe that makes the transition easier.

I have to wonder what happens to our linked relationship when I hit the save button, and officially become a widow in cyberspace. What happens to him? Facebook doesn’t yet have a “deceased” option, and I don’t like the idea that he would default to “Single.”

But I do applaud those who blazed a trail (and continue to do so), by gaining attention to our often very isolated and lonely group of grieving hearts. It’s tough to try and explain to someone why you’re a single parent and you still wear a wedding ring. Making the Public more aware that parents of babies and toddlers do lose a spouse to death more often than they realize makes it easier on us. Even if it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to some.

I am not quite ready to let go of the relationship I had with my husband, be it online or in real life. Some people might find that unhealthy, and might feel the need to remind me that I will eventually have to let him go. I know this. I know that he is no longer with me on this planet and that I have to live the rest of my life without him, however long that may be. But that doesn’t stop me from being his only wife, or loving him still.  The idea that my only other option means I have to cancel our link and pretend that we are no longer connected, stings just a little too much. I still believe we are connected, even though we are separated by death.

I am grateful that I will have this option in the future, when I’m ready to let him go more than I already have. But right now, he’s still the only guy on Facebook that I’ve ever been married to. And I’m content to keep it that way, at least for a little while longer.

I saw the movie tonight, with good friends who kept me company. I enjoyed it, from the eye-candy to the hints of Vampire Weekend playing when the two main characters first met.

It made me miss Jon. It made me want to be loved. It made me want Jon to be here, so I can fall asleep in his arms and enjoy the feeling of his body, wrapped around mine.

Sometimes, I miss that so much, I ache. His scent, his skin, his hand in mine. I miss the way he couldn’t help but touch me when we were spooning, and how he would breathe into my neck and set my skin ablaze with goosebumps. The things we did, when we were just Jon and Maria, were effortless. Our love was effortless.

I miss being effortless.

Lately, things take serious effort. The effort to sleep. The effort to wake. The effort to focus, and to avoid the idiots around me who think they can identify with my pain. No, not the friends who love me and want me to be happy again some day.  But those who know they can’t imagine what I’m dealing with, and try to anyway.

I suppose it’s a noble effort, but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Why try to live vicariously through a widow? It’s bizarre.

There’s a part where Hilary Swank calls her dead husband’s cell and listens to his voice mail over and over again. I have done this. I cry, and listen to his voice and I can feel his mouth. I can imagine him speaking. I miss the way he spoke.

Someday, Weslee will hear his recorded voice and know that the voice she hears in her dreamiest dreams is that of her wonderful father, who loves her faithfully, from his place in Paradise.

My friend wants to run away to Ireland in April of next year. The thought intrigues me and scares me. What will I find in Ireland?

I suppose there is only one way to find out.

My love…I still feel you with me. Thank you…it’s my new reason to keep smiling. I can cry and smile at the same time. I know you’re dead, and I am working on accepting that. But otherwise, I feel you. I know you’re there.

Goodnight, sweet prince.