Aug 14

Figuring me out

Last night I had dinner with a sweet friend who pointed out – ‘you haven’t blogged all summer! Nobody knows what you’ve been up to!’ She’s right. The girls come home on Tuesday, after 6 weeks away. I was worried about my first real summer alone – last year, I was still visiting J at the hospital every single day. This year, what was I going to do?

Well, I said yes, a lot, to almost everything that was put in front of me: Meditation in the lavender fields, tons of comedy shows, a ‘blind-date’ with a fellow solo-mom (ie we had never met, but I had tickets to something and just called her and asked her to go with me). I tried new restaurants and played pokemon-go, I’ve been running to get ready for Ragnar. And I’ve been trying to Figure Me Out.

Maybe you heard the song, it’s playing all the time:

But I believe there’s more to life than all my problems maybe there’s still hope for me to start again
Get my feet back on the ground
Pull my head out of the clouds
I think it’s time for me to figure me out

That’s sort of how I operated for the summer. For the first time in years, I didn’t ask myself if it was the right thing to do, or put someone else’s feelings ahead of mine. I just did stuff for FUN!!!! And because *I* wanted to do it.

Somewhere along the way, I found a little bit of me that I had lost. All that time sitting in hospital rooms, it had drained the ‘me’ out of me. The girls are coming back, and obviously, they will always come first, but I think we will start operating in a way where I don’t drain the ‘me’ out of all the big life decisions we make.

And because I know you are all DYING to know, yes, I did agree to go on a couple of dates… it’s a process. But you will all get a kick out of the one where the man was seemingly a responsible adult with a job and he ended up being a Trump voter who told me that feminism is the root of all evil and socialized medicine is wrong.

Jul 16

Saying yes to new things

In the last week, I have taken a Car2go 3 times to get downtown – I don’t have to pay for parking, it’s cheaper than a cab and I can take an Uber back if I can’t get a ride home.

I also invited an old work-acquaintance to lunch. (venice, it was Delish!)

And I had not one but 2 dinners with girlfriends.

And today, on a hot and muggy saturday, while I was already going to the farmer’s market to pick up lunch for tomorrow, because I am going to MEDITATE in a lavender field, I agreed to have coffee with a guy……

it was NOT a date. it was 3:30 coffee in a busy market.

 

I’m trying people. I’m opening myself up to new experiences (seriously, Meditation in a lavender field!!!) And I am letting it be known that I will have coffee, or other beverages, with members of the opposite sex. So if you happen to know a bearded-tattooed single, 40+ guy with low expectations…..

Jul 09

#solosummer – Version 2.0

School ended, the kids were home with their faces attached to their screens for a week, then we went camping (seriously, I still don’t know how that happened) and then we went to the annual Canada Day extravaganza at Vodka-and-Cotton-Candy’s house. This time, I took my kids. They loved it, they loved her, they loved her kids. (seriously, best nickname EVER)

And then they left for camp, 2 days later. And #solosummer started, again, second time around.

Luckily, I am surrounded by amazing friends, so my first night alone I had dinner with a super dear friend and her only child in town. Oh and her husband!. Then I had a birthday dinner with my amazing lady-friends – Sushi and too much wine and lots of cake. I am 46, which is totally the new 36. ok I made that up.

Then the world imploded and people got killed for driving-while-black and I lost my shit on Facebook. Because I have had enough. And I grew balls the size of softballs and I posted too much and I said things I have said in my head a thousand times but never out loud.

And then I realised – This is the summer of finding myself again. I got lost in the trauma of living with someone who was dying, and I did things and allowed things because they made life easier. But no more.

Tonight, I went to see my absolute favorite comedian, who is highly NOT PC, with one of my most special dearest friends. A year ago, she was a stranger. Now, I can’t even imagine my life without her.

And we stood in the lobby near the bar nursing our over-priced drinks,  looking around and imagining what life might be for me now: Man-buns are a no (except on that one Asian dude who totally rocked it), Beards are a definite yes, the lumber-jack look is quite appealing, the smell of cigarettes is a TOTAL non-starter, I have self-confidence issues and will aim low to avoid disappointment.

The world is in absolute total chaos. I don’t know where to even begin to work on fixing it. I don’t know where to begin on fixing myself. But hey, it’s summer and I only need to work and keep the pets alive ’til the kids come home!

 

Jun 27

it’s coming, no matter what I do

It’s coming. it will be 6 months next week. Just about the same time the kids leave for 6 weeks of summer camp.

And then, I will be forced to deal with it. To deal with my grief and feelings, which I have conveniently packed away to deal with the day-to-day of widowhood, the kids’ feeling and their grief.

But when they are gone, I am going to have 6 weeks of me. I know so many people would jump at the chance of having 6 full weeks of freedom. I am dreading it. I have lost the ability to organize and plan things. So I know I will end up spending 6 weeks at home feeding the pets and watching all manner of streaming tv shows. I should want more from my free time. But I am so tired and fed up of the ’emergency level’ we have been living in, there is a part of me that just wants to go to sleep and wake up in 6 weeks.

Either way, it’s coming. They are leaving, and I will be alone in this house I hate, with 2 elderly dogs and 2 guinea pigs. Doesn’t that sound peachy?

Jun 05

Omar the Gardener

During dinner tonight, the doorbell rang. Weird, it’s Sunday at 6:35. Kids look and say it’s a man with a kid. Oh, Omar rthe Gardener is here! 3 houses ago, we got stuck in a turf-war over snow removal and grass cutting in Hampstead. Don’t laugh. This was serious business and we chose to break the rules because that’s who we were, rule-breakers. Also, Jay really liked Omar. So we took to Omar, who only charged us every third year.

On the one hand, he was worth every penny. On the other hand when it’s time to pay, holy shit! Omar is either Syrian or Turkish, and when he’s not cutting my grass around all the dog poop I didn’t pick up, he’s gone to his home country to help people. So I don’t ask,  I pay and I shut up.

When jay was dying and we moved, I called Omar and I said ‘stop cutting the grass at the old house. We moved to a new house’. Not only did Omar cut the grass at the new place, even though it’s totally not his territory, when I texted him that Jay was dying and the gutters were broken, he broke up all the ice and made sure the steps and driveway where perfect.

so tonight the door bell wrang. It’s our fourth house. ‘The stairs are crumbling, want me to fix?’

‘Thanks Omar, I’m broke. It has to wait’

‘I fix. You pay me when you can’

Thanks Omar

Jun 02

the non-milestone

5 months.

There is no card for ‘your husband/dad died 5 months ago’

5 months is not a thing. It’s not a milestone number like 6 months or a year or 5 or  10 years. It’s just 5 months.

Except this 5 month anniversary comes on the heels of so many end-of-school-year things: a Glee show, an award ceremony, and an upcoming diving competition, another theater show. And a very important grade 5 Generations to Generations school activity. Where people had parents and grandparents and magical fancy objects smuggled out of Poland or gifted to them by Tzars.

We had a paper egg-carton from my grandfather. On my mother’s side. My dead mother. Who wasn’t there. Along with me dead husband. My dad was there, of course. But that was it. Me, my dad and my 10 yo with her paper egg-carton.

So here we are. He died 5 months ago. I have a job and I get shit done and we are coping. But whenever the Facebook Memories or Timehop pop up on my phone, there is that moment. That oh-my-god, I used to think it was SO hard for him to be sick all the time…. except that he was here. And no matter how hard that was, it was so much easier than him NOT being here.

Here is something I haven’t really ever shared before, except to a few close friends….. It was SO HARD to take care of him, and yes, there is a part of me that was relieved that part was over. I don’t miss him-as-a-patient. I don’t miss the hospital visits and the really demeaning things I had to take care of. But I miss him as my buddy, the funny dude, the organizer, the loving dad, the devoted dog-walker. He was such a good guy. When he was good, he was really good. THAT I miss.

Last week, Eldest had a thing that required me bringing paperwork. 85% of it I had in my email. But 15% was on paper, filed in a folder, in a box. For the life of me, I could not find it. He would have found it – filing was his duty. Instead, I had to find who I had share that document with, and then beg them to please scan it and send it to me. He would have found it in 5 minutes.

5 months. It’s not a thing. But to us, it is. It’s a heavy non-milestone.
There is no card. It’s just been 5 months since our husband/father died.

May 26

Requiem for a Guinea Pig

I was going to write this long post about how Eldest fell off her bike after I FORCED her to put her screen down and go play outside. And then she broke her arm. So we had our weekly family-dinner (used to be daily, now it’s weekly) in the triage waiting room of the ER.

And then, Pepper, one of our Guinea Pigs was found early in the morning struggling to breathe. We all knew that sound. The gasping for life sound. We all knew she wouldn’t live. But I couldn’t tell them that. So instead, I rushed Pepper to the 24/7 ER, while petting her in horrible awful city traffic, for almost 40 minutes, listening to her cling to life…. Wanting to smother her just so she would stop hurting, but hoping against hope I would get there and the Vet would say, oh it’s nothing, here is a pill!. Except instead, I paid 37$ to euthanize Pepper. And then I drove around in EFFING city traffic to tell Youngest that Pepper was dead. And we left school and cuddled in bed and cried. Cried for Pepper. But really, cried for all the EFFING – OK, I am not PG – For all the FUCKING shit that always follows us. And then we went to the dollar store and bought a gold box. And I squeezed a very stiff Pepper in there (seriously, rigor mortis in Guinea Pigs is shockingly fast!)

And when afternoon came, I picked up Eldest and told her. And she ugly-cried all the way home. And then the 3 of us dug a hole in the yard and held a ceremony for Pepper, who is now buried in the yard of a house we have no intention of living in for very long. But seeing as clouds of doom loom over us, maybe we should just build a pet-cemetery as there are 3 more living furry creatures….

 

Anyhow, I was going to tell you about all the tears for a fucking Guinea Pig, but then an old Blog-friend, who happens to have also adopted and also be a widow (seriously, I am NOT alone!) sent me a link to this – the only thing that I don’t agree with in my case is that I was willing to look at ugly. I STARED at fucking ugly the entire fucking time. Me. Only me. Nobody else wanted to stare at the ugly fucking truth. But other than that, all of it.

but most of all this: ‘The cure for grief is not “be not sad” and the cure for anger isn’t “be unagry!” It’s feeling all of the things, even the uncomfortable ones, without judging yourself for them.Your job, when bad shit happens, is to get through it however you can. It is not your job to make your life more palatable for other people.’

Too bad it’s too long for a tattoo. In the meantime, RIP Pepper, you were a good pig.

May 19

‘I thought you were too buzy’

I just got home from diving with Youngest. I rushed to spend time with Oldest, who is off for a loooooong 4 day weekend. Conversation goes:

Me: Tell me 3 things about today
Her: I had chicken for lunch, I am texting all the people in my class to see if anyone can hang out tomorrow and there was an art exhibit at school tonight but I didn’T tell you because you are too busy.
Me: <insert uncontrollable ugly crying here> WHY??? Why didn’t you tell me????

========

Again, we go back to this issue of time. There is not enough time. My 13 y.o. was showing off her art work, which I am certain was stunning because she is an amazing artist, but she didn’t tell me it was happening. Because I’m too busy.

My kids, they keep trying to protect me. They tell me or don’t tell me, they share or don’t share, because they are protecting me.

I keep telling them: TELL ME EVERYTHING. Let me figure out how to make it happen.

OK, so if I had known, DiverGirl would have sucked it up and missed 1 session. AND WOULD HAVE SUPPORTED HER SISTER. But we didn’t. Because I didn’t even know it was happening.

===========

Adult conversations:

Random Adult: You look great! You must LOVE working, keeps your mind off things

Me, internally <you are saying words but I am not processing them. why am I here? shouldn’t I be somewhere else?>
Me, out loud: oh yeah, work it great. the girls are great. we are GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Except I missed my kid’s art exhibit. And there is no do-over for that.

 

May 13

WWJD

What Would J Do

J my dead husband…. Sorry, don’t really give much of a crap about Jesus’ opinion…..

I am facing a lot of *big* decisions. Hard stuff. Stuff that husbands and wives discuss. I have no one to discuss with. Instead I write down lists: pros and cons, all-the-options, long term vs short term. But really, lists don’t hold a candle to discussion. And J was great at discussion!

Several people have told me to ask my single-mother friends how they do it. Here is the thing. Unless your Ex left the country without a forwarding address or is incarcerated, IT’S NOT THE SAME THING. My partner is dead. Regardless of his level of involvement, regardless of his ability to contribute, he is gone. My kids miss him. And his presence looms over us, heavy and hard. So being a widow and being a single mom, while similar, is in fact, not the same.

So I spend a lot of time asking myself: What Would J Do? What would he want? What would his opinion be?

A dear friend told me: it doesn’t matter what he would want. It’s just YOU now. Do what feels right to you. But it doesn’t work like that. He’s still and always will be their father. So his opinion still matters. Obviously he won’t hold me accountable, and moving forward, my opinion will very likely outweigh his, but for now, as I sit here with my lists of Doctors to consult, High-Schools to visit, What-to-do-about-this-house-we-hate, Work-vs-Not-Work, I keep wondering: What Would J Do?

May 10

The Luxury of Time

Nobody had enough time in a day, enough days in a week. I’m not special. Everyone wishes they had more time. Time for hobbies, for friends, to relax. Time for themselves.

Time is the thing I miss the most. I’m coming to terms with out new financial situation. But my lack of time is an adjustment I’m finding hard. I don’t mean time to see friends or go to movies. That is not even on the horizon. I need to be two places at once all the time. I need to be at work so we can live, but I need to be at home to do chores. I am constantly having to pick one kid or the other because I cannot be in two places. My days start before the sun rises and end late into the night and I still can’t get it all done. With money came the luxury of having some things taken care of, like laundry and clean floors. Now it’s all on me. Again, I’m not special. But when you are broken, tired, struggling to keep your sad kids not so sad, time is a luxury. Because I would much rather sit with my kids and watch a movie than do chores. I would love to be at all their activities. I get help. My dad pitches in, my friends too. But then I miss out. And they are sad when I’m not there. Right now, they want me.

 

Everyone wishes they had more time. But when you are alone, with no one to pick up the slack, no one to help, when it falls on you…. Extra time is the luxury I miss the most.

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