Grief Prompt #8

#8 – Tell us about a guiding star inside your grief. Are there people – whether real, mythological, or fictional – who live their own grief in a way that gives you encouragement, inspiration, or direction?

A guiding star in my journey would be a friend of mine who is also going through this journey. She lost her husband to GBM 5 months before me. Watching her be open about grief and how it is ok to feel all the feels has made me be more open and hopefully it is helping others too. It sucks to be going through it and I am sorry for anyone who has to go through this process. I wish that society was more open about the process and treated us widows and widowers with grace and understanding that it is ok to not be ok. 

Another guiding star would be D and his love that I know is still there. It is something that he shared so openly with me and others that how could I not just share it back? This whole process is showing me that I can continue to grow emotionally and hopefully help others along the way. It is showing me that love is something that doesn’t go away even if the person is no longer with you. It is showing me that I might be a hot mess but I am still here and I am still me and I still love (even when I try not to)!!

~C

Death Day

Morning D. How has it been 4 months already? It feels like it was just yesterday I was holding your hand and we were laughing and kissing and all the things. FUCK CANCER, FUCK BRAIN CANCER!!

I watched it take you away slowly at 1st and then wham like a hurricane at the end. I watched it steal your freedom to drive, talk, read, walk, and just function. I am happy that you are no longer hurting from the cancer. I am happy that we met and had a love that most people search for their whole lives. I am happy that we lived like there was never going to be a tomorrow. I miss you so very much! I wish I could hold you one more time, kiss you once more, make love with you once more. I wish I could feel someone hold me the way you did, the way that you ran your hands over my imperfect perfect body. Or have someone look at me the way you would look at me not just in a sexual way but really look at me.

Today I feel numb and sad and all the things! On top of being a death day I didn’t sleep last night I tried. I went to bed at 1030 and then next thing you know it is 6am and it is time to start my day all over again. Babes I raise this cup of coffee for you and I send my love into the world for you! Till we meet again ❤

Your Wife always and forever!

~C

Grief Prompt #7

#7- The prompt was “Grief is everywhere”

Yes it is! It is in random smells that bring me back to memories with you, it is in music and how we shared a wide wide variety of music, it is in playing word games and how you were always doing them all the way up to the end to keep sharp, and it is in the times I bake and cook; something we love to do together. I know I am missing my built-in taste tester. It is in the way the kids cry for you, it is in the way I weep when I see pictures of you, and it is in the way I move throughout this world without you. It is the simple mundane tasks like doing laundry (I hate doing it) you loved doing it, it is in the more complex tasks like cutting a 45 for ¾ round trim with the miter saw (I wasted a whole board trying to get it to line up right I kept doing it backwards but in my head it was right). It is there when I lay my head down at night and you aren’t there to snuggle up with me. It is in the way my lips long for your kiss and touch. While the grief is sad it is also beautiful in a weird way for me. It is making me sit with the uncomfortable more and more and learn that it will always be there and some days it will be bigger and some days it will be smaller. It is showing me who I really am to my stripped and raw core, it is showing me how much my little but strong shoulders can carry. I promise you I will keep on keeping on in this life, even when I want to give up! It is showing me who I want to show this raw hot mess version of myself to. 

All that aside with the grief holding my hand as I walk this road I have never been down before I know I will find you again in our next life. I just know it deep down in my bones and my heart I know!! We had so much love left to give each other and this world. I love you D to the moon and back and then some! 

~C

Grief Prompt #6

#6- If your grief is a character who can come forward and speak, what kind of voice does s/he have? Don’t tell us about it, let him or her actually speak. Write in grief’s voice.

Hi, I am Carrie’s grief. While I might show a smile and seem like I am having a good time. I am pissed, I am resentful, I am sad, I am also proud, and still loveable. 

Resentful in the way I am left with the laundry list of household projects that were half started and or forgotten about due to the FUCKING cancer. Resentful of the cancer that stole my life with someone who I thought was my forever. I am resentful of seeing all the happiness around me and pissed that I can’t seem to soak it in like I used to, maybe again one day. I am resentful I won’t be able to celebrate with you our anniversary this year! 

I am pissed off that I was told he didn’t love me, that it was just the tumor and that I was a rash decision despite all the love that was visible and palpable by those around us. I am pissed that people treat me differently, not everyone but a good handful. I know I am sad and happy and all the things but I am still Carrie. I just have a big whole in my heart and maybe just a little less willing to love so blindly and fiercely in fear they will disappear on me. I am sad that I don’t get to share the good times and bad times with you in person anymore! I am sad that the boys lost the best male role model that they have ever had. I am sad that I can’t kiss you anymore, hug you anymore, or remember what you smelled like. 

I am also proud of what you accomplished in the 40yrs you were here on Earth. I am proud that you called me your wife and I you my husband. I am proud of myself for realizing that I was able to be loved 100% and met ½ way in a relationship and that it was full of give and take from both of us. I am also so fucking proud of myself for making sure you were taken care of despite me wanting to give up many many times. I am proud that I was able to be your hospice care here at home! FUCK was that hard! Never having gone through that before and not knowing that there is not a nurse who is with me all the time I don’t think I could do it again, but I am proud that I did what I did. I am proud that I made sure we had contacted everyone on our list when hospice started including the ex wife. I am proud I was able to get as many people to video/visit with you as I did. It went so fast. Monday you were upright on the couch and Wednesday you were in the Hospital bed and not able to talk well or walk let alone read! While others might be mad or upset with me for “Not allowing” you to talk to them or see them, I am proud I don’t let their upset define me. Honestly I don’t care! It went too fast to make everyone happy and it is not my job to make everyone happy. It was my job to make sure you were taken care of and our family was able to be together, and I am proud of that! 

I might be sad, pissed off, mad, and full of tears but I am still loveable and it might take time for that to be noticeable to everyone but I know that those who are in my life who truly love me will be there for the ugly and the good, and they will not judge publicly or behind my back on how I am doing the best I can! NEWS flash there is no users manual or “HOW TO WIDOW” book!

D I miss you like crazy and I would do this all over again for you! You were my person and I yours. ❤ Hope you are flying high! 

~ C

Grief Prompt #5

Prompt: “What does a shift in your grief, even a tiny, momentary one, mean to you? What does it say about loss? Or love?”

What is a shift, is really the main question. Is this a shift into happiness or a shift into deeper despair? I think that it truly could go in either direction. 

I know when I have a small shift into being happy, it is usually followed up with guilt. The guilt is because I am not able to share it with D in person! He isn’t here to witness it! I have to try to remember that he is with me and would be happy and proud with me if he was physically here. It says that loss is with us all the time in big and small things. It says that love is always constant; it truly never goes away even if the physical person is gone. 

When there is a shift into despair for me it looks like hiding in the blankets and in a dark room. It means shutting down and being shut off from the world. It feels like the loss is fresh and like it just happened again. It makes me feel like love is lost and doesn’t exist.

Grief Prompt #4

We had to pick a mundane object to write about and start with “I remember”

The mundane object I am choosing is a blue $5 dress from Ross. 

I remember going to Olympia for work and you wanted to take me out for a date. I hadn’t brought anything to wear for a “date” so we went to the Capital Mall. We went to Ross and I, being the person I am, wanted to find the cheapest dress I could find. I pulled a blue dress from the sale rack and I told you “This one will work” You looked at me and asked “Are you sure I will buy you any dress you want.” I told you “Yes this is the one I want” We went back to the hotel and you asked me to dress up all sexy like and make you work for it. You wanted us to act like we weren’t together and pick me up from the bar. You were so cute, you flirted like crazy, you even got up and sang karaoke for me! Another guy came up to me and flirted and oh man D you stepped up your flirting game so much after that. I obviously left the bar with you and as we were leaving the other gentleman who was trying to woo me fist bumped you and the smile and gleam in your eye was palpable and so enduring!

Grief Prompt #3

Prompt – How do you live in a landscape so vastly changed?

This is a hard one too. How do I live, well? I attempt it. That is where I am at. I have days when all I want to do is die, there are days when I want to curl up and dream that you are holding me and never wake up. There are days that I want to wake up and share your love with the world. 

I think that right now I am taking one day at a time rolling with the punches and man those punches can be hard. They take the breath out of you, and leave you doubled over gasping for life and air. When you lose someone who is close to you, it seems that the world you have stops but everything else is spinning and moving forward and no matter how badly you want to take that step to keep going your feet are encased in concrete. If you have ever seen those metal cages where there is a person standing in the middle and motorcycles whiz around them… that is what it would look like if I had to put a picture to how it feels.  When people ask are you ok? Is there anything I can do? While I know it comes from a place of caring and love it they are overwhelming questions. I honestly don’t know how I am, one moment I could be laughing, the next I could be on my knees screaming at the world, then I could be in a philosophical mood where I question everything that I was taught at a young age. 

I have a commitment to my kids and myself to keep trying and to keep getting up each morning as much as it sucks some days. Knowing the hurt of losing someone I couldn’t do that to them again! They have lost the best step dad they could have asked for. I am going to hold on to the love D had for me and the boys and life and try to live like he would. Enjoy the small things and realize that every day is an adventure. I work through the feels daily, I sit with them, I let them run their course and I accept them. I don’t push them down anymore. I am continuing to learn to walk with those feels and allow them the space in my life without letting them take over and become me! I am more than the feelings. So long rambling story short, I am living the best I can even if I am trudging through and a hot mess in this new landscape that is my life. 

Grief Prompt #2

I want to remember…

This one is hard. There are so many many things:

Your Smile

The twinkle in your eye

Your touch

Your love

The way you would make me feel like I was the most beautiful woman in the world

The way we COMMUNICATED!!!

Your voice

Your laugh

Your directness

Your dark dark humor

I am so scared that one day I am going to wake up and not hear your voice in my head, not be able to remember the way you looked at me with your sly smile. The way you smelled of beard oil and fresh laundry, or how when you held me you felt like home. Nothing prepared me for this roller coaster of a ride. I did a lot of grieving as a caregiver months before you left us, but grieving as your Wife is even more complicated and hurts a hell of a lot more. I love you D and I wish that we could have more time tackling this thing we called life together.

~C

Grief Prompt #1

“Who was the person you used to be?”

Something I don’t think about to be honest. But now that D has passed I have been left alone with my thoughts and brain weasels and let me tell ya they sure do like fling poop and cause chaos. Here is what I have been able to think of!

Who I was before D died!

Full of hope

Full of wonder

Full of love

Always genuinely happy

Excited about the future

Full of joy

Full of dreams

I felt safe, and secure.

I knew who I could count on family and friend wise

Now that cancer has taken away the person I wanted to live the rest of my life with I feel:

Sad

Alone

Forgotten

Lost

Scared

Always on edge like something is bad is going to happen

Abandoned

Cold

Skeptical of people’s motives and why they want to be friends with me.

If anything this whole process has opened my eyes on how the world views Widows/Widowers as broken and that we should have some timeline on when we should just be “Over it” or “Better” something like this changes you for the rest of your life. You learn to live with it and walk along with the dark sad bits it never goes away and those who think it will can kindly F off! It is messy and uncomfortable and awkward but guess what that is life. It is messy, it is and can be uncomfortable and awkward.

~ C

Love Letter to my Late Husband!

D passed away on Feb 2nd 2021 @ 5:10pm here in our home while holding my hand. He fought hard against GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme)

Over the past weekend I held his Celebration of Life here at the house in the back yard. I waited a few months so try and catch my bearings but also to allow more people who were vaccinated the chance to be here. This whole hosting things while in COVID times is a mess and complicated and I wish people would hold more grace for those who are just trying their best to get through this thing called life. I digress here is the letter I wrote to D and I read to him and our friends and Family on this past Sat!

March 25, 2021

My Dearest D – Friends and Family,

I am going to try my best to get through this without too many tears… This is a letter for D, and to everyone here! It is a love story, and a heartbreaking one all rolled into one! 

Where do I begin? I think the beginning would be the best I suppose. It started with an online dating app in late Aug 2018. You messaged me 1st I do have photo proof of it 😊 You said, “Hi Cutie, how are you doing this fine evening?” We talked on the app for a little while then moved to texting one another. After about two weeks of texting, I decided I could trust you enough to meet up. I had you come over to my condo at 10:45pm and we sat in my living room and talked for 5 hours. Never once did we run out of things to talk about or have long periods of awkward silence. We talked about how you were going through a divorce and I talked about my past relationships as well. 

We dove into deep conversation that night from what we thought about gender being a construct, to how we thought the world might end and how it would happen, we talked politics and what we liked and didn’t like, we talked about our childhood and shared fond memories, like how you dug a hole for no reason in your yard, and how I used to like to catch snakes to scare my mom. We just meshed. We talked about what we both wanted out of a relationship and what our past ones were lacking and not providing for us. We talked about how we wanted to find someone who would be a partner not someone who would try to overshadow the other but walk alongside one another. We talked about how intimacy is important in a relationship and not just sexual but emotional, and physical like hugging and cuddling. We talked about how we might one day like to get married again and what that would look like. WE JUST GOT EACH OTHER!  Once we realized it was 3am, and we both had work in the AM we would call it a night, but you would be coming back over in less than 24 hours. 

We had overnights and I wasn’t ready to have you meet the kids and you respected that so you would get up at like 5:45am-6am and “sneak out” well one day we slept in and when we were walking down the stairs my oldest said “Oh Hi J” thinking you were a friend of mine because he didn’t really look at you and all he saw was the beard. I was mortified, you hugged me, kissed me, and were laughing the whole time at me… I was a very dark shade of RED!! you told me no worries and I should just call you J from now on and with a twinkle in your eye and smirk!

D, you traveled a lot for work and were gone most weeks. One of your 1st work trips you took when we started dating, I made Chocolate Chip cookies for you, and wrote you a 5 page note by hand to read on the plane. You called me when you got to DC and told me you didn’t want to “fuck it up” with me and that you were falling for me. D had dated other women before me and he said no one compared. No one understood him like I did. No one else had the drive and determination to make mountains move, no one could light up the room like I could. I was special and he knew it! 

After you got home from the trip, we were pretty much inseparable, and that is when we decided to make it official and tell more people. We did so much together: bike rides, 5k’s, work trips, Seattle exploring, I even became a morning workout person for you!  Even when you were gone, we still talked all the time. We made sure to have dedicated “Date Nights”. One thing I loved doing for you was taking you to the airport, parking, walking you up to the security line to see you off, and picking you up at the baggage claim when you got home in cute clothes that would make your jaw hit the floor. You told me no one had ever done that, and it felt nice to be missed while you were gone. In Jan of 2019 we were in Olympia. You were working at a client’s and I was working from the hotel room remotely. We dressed up and went out to dinner and that is when I told you I was falling in love with you while sitting in a back booth at Tugboat Annie’s. You looked at me and said, “I have these big feelings towards you, too, I just don’t know how to say them yet.” I told you that you didn’t need to say anything, and I just wanted to share what I was feeling. 

I took you to the airport 2 days later for your trip to AZ. When I was saying goodbye, “I love you” slipped out and I played it so cool (well I think I did). I am sure I was all shades of red and pink. You kissed me goodbye and said see you soon. I turned around and overplayed that moment over and over! I called my sister and asked her if you heard me (because I was hoping you didn’t!) She didn’t help calm those nerves, she just teased me. When I picked you up, you were so excited to see me. We got into the car and you handed me a novelty pack of gum that said “I love you” on it. I looked at you like “wth is this???” and you said “I love you, too, C” 

In late February, we were back in Olympia and we were at the hotel having dinner, playing hangman, and talking. We had discussed back in the beginning if we would like to get married again and we both said yes, we would. I knew you were the one, kind of like when you are looking at houses and you walk in and you’re like this is the one, it was that feeling. I had made a hangman game for you to guess. It said, “WILL YOU MARRY ME MR. W?”

You stared at the question for a moment, started to cry, and said “Hell yes, I will marry you, my future Mrs. W!!!” 

March of that year was a hard month for all of us. You were diagnosed with GBM, and we were rushed from one hospital to the next to have an emergency craniotomy. It felt like the whole world was falling apart. One thing held true, and that was we loved each other very much and still wanted to walk through life together regardless of this crap we had just been served, and what others thought about our relationship. On April 14th, we held a private hand fasting commitment ceremony for those who were in from out of town down at the pond in the neighborhood. A couple of weeks later, you started chemo and radiation while I managed a schedule to make sure you made it to all your appointments with help of family and friends. I worked hard on making sure you lived life as close to normal as possible. The last thing I know you wanted was to be made to feel like you were sick. 

In June – we got Married. Best day ever!! Even with the rain ❤ 

That August, we took the boys on a train from Everett to NY, who’s smart idea was that? Never again!! While in NY I noticed that you were breathing heavier and that one calf was bigger than the other. I got you to go into an urgent care clinic off 5th Ave, and they said we needed to get to the ER. We arranged to get to the hotel, pack up the kiddos, and call my sister. C came and got the kiddos, and you and I stayed in the hospital for 48 hours while they put in a IVC filter for DVT and 2 PE’s. Even with that set back we made the best of it. You took me on a horse carriage ride through Central Park the night before we left to get to C’s ; it was magical! We finished showing the kids the sights when we got to DC and enjoyed life! Thank you for that D, thank you for showing me life is worth it even with the crap! 

In November 2019, we found out the chemo you were on wasn’t doing anything and that the tumor was starting growing again. We did one more round of a different chemo, and in the meantime we also did a genetic test on your tumor and we found a chemo that might work with the type of cancer you had. At the end of 2019, we were told that the trial in SF for ONC201 was a great fit for your type of cancer, and that they might have spots open. We started calling immediately! Unfortunately, they were full, so our next closest hospital was MD Anderson in Houston. We called and got on the schedule for mid Jan 2020.

We left on Jan 9th, 2020 for Tampa and set sail on Jan 11th for the Western Caribbean. We had no idea about COVID till we got back home. Man, we lucked out! Went to Texas a week after we got home and he was accepted into the trail. We had to take monthly trips down, but it was worth it to us. So, in February we went down, and then in March. At our March appointment is when they noticed huge amounts of swelling, so they started you on 2 a month injection of Avastin (a drug that helps starve the tumor.)  Covid really started to ramp up at this time too, so they sent us home and allowed us to come down every other month. We did MRI’s and blood work here on the off months and more MRI’s and blood work when down there. Things were going well; You were in good spirits still working FT for MS.

In August we decided to take a road trip to TX. It was on our way home through Yellowstone that we hit another roadblock. You had your 1st grand-mal seizure while driving. But like any set back we had so far, we handled it with grace. We kept enjoying life and living the best we could. In November of 2020, you had 3 more seizures. I knew in my heart that this was the beginning of the end, but I told you that you were looking great. We enjoyed the holidays with family remotely, and just enjoyed all that we could. Jan 7th we were told that you had about 3-6 months left, so we called J in Germany. He came flying in, and we took H, T, and the kids to the ocean one last time. Once we got home, we got started with Hospice here at home and I kept you comfortable and happy while here. I kept my promise to you to have you at home all the way up to the end. You passed peacefully on Feb 2nd here at home while holding my hand and surrounded by J, H and me. D, I miss you so very much!! I love you to the Moon and Back Baby! I hope that you are flying high and keeping your eyes on us! Till we meet again! I will have thin mints for you! 

~ C your wife forever and always!