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????

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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.

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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.

May 09

Inspiring Women

about 6 weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a woman I only knew in passing. Her son is a friend and she sat in my row in synagogue at high holidays. Her eulogy shook me to the core. She was someone I wished I had known.

Today, a dear friend eulogized her own mother. And made me weep. I was lucky enough to have known her mom, but not closely. Her eulogy was heartbreaking. I cried big ugly tears. And for the last 3 hours, I have been listening to this, on a loop.  Grief it Ugly.

May 06

Before you randomly wish everyone with ovaries a Happy Mother’s Day

When I was a kid, mother’s day meant colored tissue paper rolled into little balls and glued to a paper plate. There were no store-bought cards. When we were a bit older, there was a fancy brunch at the rotating restaurant at the top of the hotel downtown, where we could see the entire city and eat eggs benedict. I wished my own mother a happy mother’s day. We called my one grand-mother on the phone (the other had already passed away). That was it. We didn’t ring the neighbours door bells to wish them a happy mother’s day. My mother certainly didn’t call every one she went to high-school with to give them her good wishes!

With the internet now, it’s become a custom blast your wishes to everyone, loud and proud. And obviously, the intentions are good. Nobody means anything by it – they are just nicely wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.

Except, some people aren’t too happy to be on the receiving end. The women who struggled with infertility, who maybe lost children, or who never became mothers. Many adoptive moms are conflicted about the day too, thinking of the birth mothers who allowed them to become mothers themselves. And women who are mothers but lost their mother….

I know everyone means well, but before you randomly wish every person with ovaries a Happy Mother’s Day, maybe just for one second, ask yourself if it’s really your place to do so. I limit my wishes to my incredibly close friends who play a role in mothering my daughters. I accept their wishes in return, and from my kids and family, obviously. Other than those people, it’s just Sunday.

May 02

3:30 musings

I posted this to my personal FB in the middle of the night, but I think I meant for it to also be a blog post….

Yesterday, we took a road trip and I did whatever I could do keep them both smiling, at the same time. ‘On this day’ last year was the mega garage sale where we sold half of our belongings and put the house for sale . It was also the day J. officially went on the transplant list for a second time. Two years ago he was sick and my friend took me for my de-reconstruction surgery (expander removal). And the year before that, I was taking glam shots before starting chemo the next day. 3 years of ‘on this day’ one heavier than the other. It is exhausting to live in the present and look to the future when the past is so heavy to carry around ‪#‎330musings‬ #widowhood

Apr 25

Superhero powers, activate

I haven’t shared my Instagram here, but it’s not like I was hiding it. However today it feels very appropriate. This is what I just posted:

I got a wicked punch-in-the-stomach overnight. Another one. One that I thought we had dealt with and were going to move on from. But no. There is apparently no end to the pain people are willing to cause the girls and I. So after crying all night, I thought, ‘how do I get up and go to work today?’ And I thought of J. And of the first thing he ever bought me online – this SuperHero necklace. Vintage, from the year 2000. Before we even opened the store. And I loved it so much, I wrote to the maker and convinced her to sell me a dozen to sell in our first store. And they flew off the shelves, even though they were expensive and we didn’t sell Jewelry.

Why am I telling you this? Because I trusted my gut that time. The best decisions I made in my life were purely based on my gut. The last 2 years, I have made nothing but decisions based on fear or logic. That doesn’t work for me. I need to find my gut and start trusting it again. In the meantime, I dug up my SuperHero armour and I won’t take it off.

PS: you can follow me on Instagram.

 

Apr 21

Matza and Tears

Tomorrow is the first night of Passover. I’m dreading it. We are all dreading it. For so many reasons.

Passover is never an easy holiday – switching the kitchen, no flour for the kid who lives on nothing but white bread and plain pasta, no school for a week for the one who is bored at 7:15 on the first day off – it’s our own modern day version of the 10 plagues.

This year though… oy. He’s not here. The thing is, he’s already not been here for Passover many times. He always seemed to get sick right around Passover, something about seasons changing, I don’t know, but he was almost always on IV treatment. 5 years ago, a week after my mastectomy, he ended up in the hospital with severe pneumonia, and the girls and I, me with 4 drains sticking out of my body, hopped-up on pain meds, got in a cab and headed to Ds for a Seder. It would turn into an annual tradition, a home where we are welcomed by everyone, where the girls feel loved and cherished and where I don’t worry if I have to excuse myself to run to the bathroom and cry it out. And so every year for the last 5, we have had a Seder with Ds family….

And then on the second night, a fairly new tradition, As house, where I could literally just drop them off at the door and sit in my car all night crying and A would send her boys out to bring me whatever I felt I needed. Or I could show up in a onesie and sit in the basement and she would find a way to feed the non-eater and entertain the bored-one. Whatever, everything flies at As house and I am ever so grateful she got over the me-not-talking-to-her-the-first-time-we-met thing…..

And even with all this love and support from D and A, I am dreading this particular year – because I am already seeing it in the girl’s eyes… the dread, the loss, the overwhelming feelings around the first Seders without Him….. I have very grown-up feelings about this holiday, about the distance that came between us when I became his caregiver instead of his wife. But they always stayed his beloved daughters. And they only have feelings of loss and sadness.  When the rules say the matza can’t touch water, do tears count? Because we might have a problem

Apr 10

the downs after the ups

Last week, I got the best medicine of all – a 4-day visit by one of the people I hold dearest, who came here with her own daughter,  with the sole purpose of spending time with us. Everyone had a great time. There was so much giggling and laughter in the house. It really hit me hard – this house has not been a happy place. We moved here in extremely difficult circumstances, J. never stepped foot inside, the only time this house was full of people was for the Shiva. As a matter of fact, my friend was the first person to sleep here, except for the kids’ sleepovers. We’ve been here 6 months, it doesn’t feel like home, at all.

And then she went home. And we all spent the day napping. Yes, we were tired. But also, it hit us hard, being alone again. We’ve always been people who enjoyed entertaining at home. Not just me. US, as a family. he loved to throw a big BBQ together, the girls loved having everyone in the pool. Those days are gone. We miss him, but we also miss the people around us.

I’ve always been particularly fond of ‘Falling Down Blue’ by Blue Rodeo, but the first 2/3 of the lyrics really are speaking to me today:

“Falling Down Blue”

Everyone tells me I’m lucky
Got my whole life to live yet
I can’t say they’re wrong
But the days seem so long
Living inside of my head

Maybe I’ll get some relief now
Now that your things are all gone
I won’t sit here staring
At nothing all night
Bleary-eyed greeting the dawn

All right I miss you tonight
And I’m not really sure what to say
It keeps rolling in like a slow moving train
It gets harder and harder each day
Each time I think that the worst of it’s through
I am stopped in my tracks by some vision of you
All right I miss you tonight
I admit that I’m falling down blue

His things are not really all gone. They are still everywhere. I took over his nightstand and his part of the closet just so it wouldn’t hit me in the face every single morning, but I just put it all away as keepsakes for when the kids are ready to sort and look through. It’s just not the first things I see when I wake up.
Today was one year ago that we told the girls he was in rejection and needing a second transplant. The doctor who told us this news was not the regular doctor, and told me at the time that J. would not be with us a year from that day. Everyone told me not to listen to her. And yet here we are…..

Mar 30

These are my truths

If there is one thing guaranteed to make people MORE uncomfortable than me showing my naked tattooed chest, it’s me talking about my current financial situation. But after spending a good 5 days humiliated, ashamed and embarrassed, I have decided that the only way to face this is head-on. These are my truths:

  • I spend 15 years putting my husband’s well-being first and my career last
  • I quit several jobs, including one that I really excelled at and that provided well, to take care of him and our daughters.
  • In the 12+ months that I cared for him in the hospital, I also downsized our possessions and our lifestyle and uprooted our kids to a house that would be adapted for HIM, not for us.

And yet here I am, struggling to make ends meet. So I have taken huge steps:

  • Gone back to work
  • Asked my father, who is retired, to please pay the contractor for the bathroom renovation that we did for J. to come home because waiting 3 months to be paid is too long, especially when they were so sweet to us and went above and beyond to help me, the girls and the dogs.
  • temporarily borrowed cash from my daughter’s savings to pay the penalty to return his car early on the lease.

And then I cried. For days. Because I was raised to be financially independent. I was raised to live within my means. And my husband promised me everything would be fine. One day, I will pay my daughter and my father back. My kids are learning a huge life lesson and are drastically adapting the way they think about life: no more Sunday movies, no more restaurants. I remind them every single day that there are more people in the world who live this way than the way we lived before. That there are people who are way less fortunate. That yes it sucks, but that I will work very hard to make sure we are all ok. And that pride is worth more than any amount of money.

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