Thursday, November 29, 2007

Six Months

Ironic? I don't know. Today is six months since Jim's death. I found today a box of photos and several of the pictures were of Jim at his grandfather and uncles cemetary that is up the road from us. We used to stop and 'visit' the gravesite. It was set on a beautiful hill and in the fall the colors were magnificant.

Somewhere along the way we took this photo. I found it tonight, stared at it and promptly lost all self control and cried for awhile. Those Sunday drives with him were precious times we had together. I only knew Jim for 18 years. It was not long enough and I miss him. I miss him.

Another treasure chest found

So here I was, down in the basement sorting thru boxes. I brought one upstairs and opened it to! A treasure chest of pictures. Photos I hadn't seen in about 10 years or so. It was fun and heartwrenching at the same time.

I sorted thru them and tonight I scanned a few. This first one was taken in a small town called Skaneateles - it's where I grew up. We went up there in 1992 to visit some friends and I got to show Jim all the houses and streets and buildings that held memories for me.

Not sure when this one was taken, but it sure looks like we were having some laughs! It is nice to see the laughter but I find I have an ache though when I look at the picture and want to feel Jim's arms around me again.

I know that this photo was taken at Jim's sons High School Graduation. I don't have that suit anymore but that tie of Jim's is still around. It was one of his favorites.

Ah, my Mom's swimming pool. This picture was taken when Jim's family came down for a saturday at the pool. Jim's Mom, sister and brother were there along with my nieces and sister. It made for a great day in the sun and the water.

Here is another pool shot. The date on the photo tells me it was taken 2 months before our wedding. We were probably down for wedding plans. I can't believe it's me in the bikini. We loved to visit Mom and take a swim in the pool.
I think this one is the favorite of the pics that I found. It was taken in his backyard right around 1990 or so. What a studman Jim was! That look in his eyes was all about 'come and get me'. Who could resist? Not me.

Many more photos were found and even a special find - watercolors that my father had painted back in 1958. I had been looking/thinking of them for a couple years wondering where they had gotten to. Well I know I will keep going thru boxes, getting rid of stuff and finding treasures.
Edit to this blog. I realized that it was a month ago that I posted that I found pictures in the basement then. I didn't realize that a) I had that many photos, though I guess I am not surprised, knowing me, the camera and Jim's willingness to pose and b) that so many were put away in boxes. Anyway, it gives me hope that I will find some more someday. Each photo is a memory.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thoughts from a bus

Coming up on six months and also a holiday. I realized a couple things this weekend. I mean, I had realized them before, but Thanksgiving brought them to heart. It was that long bus ride to my sisters I guess.

One is that we are not a true family unit anymore. With no kids, but Jim and I were our own little family. So, now what? It’s me. I guess that should be “I’m” not a family unit. Do I become the widowed daughter/sister at family gatherings? This realization sort of takes away the accomplishment of being the family. It's like, I may not have some fabulous career, or a lot of money, or a big house, but we had a family. Jim and I. Now that's been taken away.

My sister invited me to Thanksgiving dinner and several days ‘vacation’. I had a really good time and didn’t feel any ‘hanger-onism there’ but there was something inside that said I shouldn’t be there alone. I will admit I did feel a lot less as an extra there than anytime in the last few months at family social events.

How can I word it, it’s almost like my home is not "home". It's a place to go to at the end of the day. It's shelter and privacy and for that I'm grateful...but no family lives there. I am trying to build it back up to that feeling. With the dogs and cat depending on me. And with them helping me by crowding around me in the evenings. A dog on both sides and a cat behind me on the couch. I am trying to make a house that was Jim’s family home – where he grew up, a place for me. It’s tough because my history is not there and I look around and hear his voice telling me the family stories. I know with time, I'm supposed to start enjoying my "independence". Learn to grow into my own companionship. There are times when it's okay not having anyone to answer to...just bumming around on weekends, deciding when to do certain chores or what to eat. But in the end, not having anyone around who cares...and to care just sad.

See, after seventeen years of having someone who cared about me, and losing them, well it makes a difference now. The relationship we had was filled with little compromises and bigger ways to make the other one happy and thus make ourselves happy in their happiness. It will take some time to readjust. Seventeen years will take some time.

I can take after myself fine; it is just that I'm not used to being alone. I miss some things that I had come to expect or understand. I used to come home and furniture in the house would be moved without me knowing – but because Jim wanted to do it or a light replaced or a rug switched, now everything stays the same unless I move it, and the old way used to be a nice surprise. Oh, I do find myself moving things. Yet other hand (maybe this is my healing process) there are things I do now, just because I can do them without worrying about what Jim would want. The color of the bed sheets, the style of food, what is watched on TV. It’s my choices and anything is okay.
I have wonderful friends and family and I am so lucky to have them as they have been a lot of support. They know I hurt and they know I am lonely so they try to help in the best way they can. I miss his companionship and his silly jokes. There are so many things that are just not the same. I have only been to one movie since Jim died. My friends have been great at helping me to get to the stores and some social parties. This outside connection has helped my healing. My family has been good to come and help me get to family gatherings.

I guess, I just always thought no matter what happened, it was me and Jim against the world. And it was. We had each other... and considered us, Merc, Tigger and Fig our family. I mean, Jim and I would call each other several times a day at work just to say I love you and hey and man work sucks and I will be home soon. So it’s just that not only did I lose the love of my life but my best friend. Jim and I were such a great team together and I don't even know where to begin on my own. But even after all this babbling, I hope that there is evidence that I am trying.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Old Jim Pics

These next two pictures are of a Jim before I met him, but a side of him that stayed with his personality. This first one is of him and his son. It is the humorous and loving side of Jim, having some fun with Johnny and enjoying it. I love this pic and always felt it could be used in an ad or something. The look on Johnny's face is perfect. And Jim just has such a look of love and laughter it makes it complete.

The way Jim's hair is styled always made me feel he was older than he really was when the pic was taken. I want to say he was in his mid 20's.

This is a photo of the father and son sacked out on the couch. It is again at time before I had met Jim, but it is a scene that has been repeated thru the years. The version of it that I saw was not Jim and his son, but rather Jim and the dog. Or Jim and the cat. Or Jim and the remote. He loved to sleep on the couch with the tv going. I love this shot because it seems Johnny is trying to imitate his dad with the arm up.

It has been a few moments since I wrote all that. I gazed at the pictures and am filled with sadness and lonliness and all I can think is that I really, really, really miss Jim and all that he brought to this world. That I don't want him to be gone and I don't want him to be a memory. I want to hear him laughing downstairs or snoring in the other room. I wish, I wish.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday Virgin

So I did it.

My sister told me she and Kim and Heather were all going out shopping at 5am to get the doorbuster deals. I told her sure, I would go along. I had never done this American tradition before.

So, we woke up at 4 in the morning and got ourselves together. Nothing fancy for sure. Sweats and sneaks and no showers. We trooped off to Walmart, were part of a mob and melee and actually wild fun. We had poured over ads the night before while munching on some turkey sandwiches and had scoped out the items we wanted to pick up. Vacuums, microwaves, crockpots and towels. Toys, movies, joggings suits and sweaters. It was going to be fun!

We exchanged cell phone numbers and all sort of veered off into different directions. I was able to grab the things on my list in about 20 minutes and lucked out at the checkout. I put this stuff in the car and came back in to help my sister to find the rest of her items.

After Walmart we went to the mall near by and hit JC Penney's, Sears and a place called Bon Ton's which I think is a local store and is similiar to Penney's. The crowds were civil and the only back up was at the check out counters. We even found parking spaces that were fairly close. Oh, there was one shortage. Shopping carts. Not enough at any of the stores I was at. Oh well.

I felt good most of the day but there was a 'trigger' moment when I walked out into the mall and they had a dodge dakota quad cab bright red truck sitting there. That was Jim's truck. I couldn't look at it and wanted to walk on by with my eyes closed. My sister and the others were all meeting there. I called them on my cell phone to tell them I would meet them in the other store. I told my sister and Kim tonight why that moment had been upsetting. It just brought to the surface that Jim wasn't there and that none of the gifts I was buying was for him. It hurt. They understood that it was a painful moment for me.

We came home around noon, had some lunch (turkey sandwiches!) and took a nap. I woke at about 3, had another sandwich and went back bed to read for a bit. When I heard people stirring I got up again. I think all in all the day was a success!

I had another turkey sandwich at 7 pm. I could eat them for a month and not be tired of it. With some lettuce, mayo and salt and pepper, and the chips and cranberry jelly on the side. Wicked good. The added bonus was the pumpkin roll with whipped cream. Yummy!!!


A day late, but I wanted to talk about a new family tradition.

I bought six candles that could burn all day and had a little 'ceremony' in the morning. It is a new tradition and a way to remember and keep Jim with me throughout the day.

Holiday Candle Ceremony

As we light these five candles in memory of and in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, one for our love, and one for our hope.

  • This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.
  • This candle represents our courage - to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, and to change our lives.
  • This candle is in your memory - the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, and the caring and joy you gave to us.
  • This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season, day by day we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us.
  • And this candle is the light of hope. It reminds us of the love and the memories of you that are ours forever.
  • This candle is for you, my special love that can not be here today, but is with us everyday.

May the glow of the flame be our source of hopefulness now and forever. We love you.

I read about this on a grief website and thought it would be a nice tradition to start. As I lit each candle I read the words and when I got to the last candle, I said a little more after that about missing him and what the last six months has been like and what his love has done to make me a better person in the last 17 years and how he touched so many other people.

I lit the candles in the morning leaving them to burn till after the thanksgiving dinner. I chose some scented candles with Jim's favorite holiday scents. Pine needles and warm apple pie. It was suggested to have the loved ones candle a different color from the others. The 'Jim' candle was the warm apple pie scent. He would like that. Also, on future holidays, I can say the same words and invite others to join me in the ceremony. It will make it a special experience. If someone else has been lost that year, we can add another candle if desired.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blue Ridge Mountains

West Virginia is a beautiful state. To drive into it from Maryland and to see the flowing mountains, the carpet of fall colors and the warm feeling.

Riding the bus into town I could not get the John Denver song out of my head. The tribute to WVA.

Almost heaven, west virginia
Blue ridge mountains, shenandoah river
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

All my memories, gather round her
Miners lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

I hear her voice, in the morning hours she calls to me
The radio reminds me of my home far a-way
And drivin down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

The bus was stuck in a traffic jam on a highway that should be moving about 65mph and was crawling at 25mph. The trip that should have been 90 minutes was 3 hours. It was pretty bad.

But I am here with my sister and having a good time. We are discussing the plan on turkey cooking and how our mom used to cook it. She would get up at 5am and cook it slow all day. Made a wonderful smell throughout the house. My sister is thinking cook it real slow all night. I get to make the mashed potatos tomorrow and I always boil them with the skins on and mash them that way. It is another of our 'mom' things.

We spent a couple hours looking at family photos from the 1900's up to just three weeks ago. I loved seeing some of my Mom I hadn't seen in years and showing my sister the ones of her daughters/my nieces from when the now married gals were toddlers. I got to share some of Jim and I with her also. Some from our trip to NH skiing and from about 12 years ago when I had hair below my shoulders (and don't remember it that long) but all in all it was a nice family evening.

Yes, before I go much further I can say that there was a presence missing. Jim. But I do think that since Jim and I never came here as a couple, that my coming as a single was a good idea for a healing. Creating some new memories and not be haunted by the ones of Jim and I - missing him absolutely, but just not as painfully as when I am the places that we have been to together.

The mountains surround me as I gaze out the window with a teardrop on my eye.

Greyhound bound

I'm leaving on a Greyhound, I can guess when I'll be back again, leeeaaaving on a greyhound.....

Going to spend Thanksgiving at my big sister's home. I have cleaned, packed and snuggled with the dogs tonight. While sitting on the couch with the dogs, Figaro even decided to come up and sit on my knees. He has NEVER done that before. I think at almost six months, he is finally coming to bond with me. I had to hold Tigger back and she was ready to pounce on Fig, but I kept them seperate and Figaro relaxed enough to even purr. That was something. Really something.

I found myself tearing up as I talked to him. There was just a sense of trust and love that he showed me after months and years of having nothing to do with me (he was Jim's cat) I realized how much he must have been missing Jim. I told him that I was glad he came to sit on my lap and that I missed Jim so much. I wanted to purr in Jim's arms as much as he wanted to purr on his lap. How can you tell a cat that you miss his 'daddy' too. Figaro only stayed a few moments, but it was a special couple moments. It may not seem like much, but it was.

I realized as I wiped tears that I hadn't cried all day today. That I got thru a whole day with no tears. My crying has become a late night dark bedroom time. I am more and more getting thru the days with the pain. Used to it and able to function each day. The void is there. The emptiness in my heart and the lonliness in the house. But I am moving and doing. Still not really motivated to clean or eat. But I did some more laundry. It's something.

Getting ready for the trip has been interesting. Figuring out what to wear, what to pack, setting up the dogs for the petsitter, setting up the tivo so that survivor, dirty jobs and project runway will record and finding old family photos for my sister.

I am not sure if I will be able to blog from my sisters or not. If not, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

This photo has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but it was a polaroid I found. Jim brought me this balloon home with roses for Valentines Day 1991. He really was a sweet man.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Okay days

What an okay day Saturday was. And what an okay day Sunday was. Two in a row.

Saturday was a nice trip going out with a friend thrift store hopping and finding some fun buys. Not enough to fill up the space cleared out from friday nights purge, but a couple things that will really be helpful. One is a rack for the shoes and another is an alarm clock. Saturday evening was spent at my cinema club meeting and seeing friends there is always a lift. Mood was up. So when I came into Sunday it was not difficult to still be feeling good. Sloth definately won out today though. I did put some dishes in storage boxes and took dogs for walks and watched a marathon of Quantum Leap dvd's as I worked. All of it at a slow pace and a relaxed mode. I didn't get near enough of what I wanted to do done, but I don't mind.

It is nice to feel good and not be down. To get things done. Even things that were expected as somewhat difficult were accomplished. It makes me feel like my head is a little more together than it was last week. Which means it may be more together next week. The voice on my shoulder says to remember the two steps forward, three back rule and not get too excited. Feeling good does not mean I have to then feel bad. That is my mantra this week. It is interesting to just take a breath, not feel the overwhelming pain right off and realize that you don't. It's like waking up to find a toothache gone. I know if I think about Jim and our loss, it will return. I know it is not gone forever. I know that I am making a big step by realizing that I am actually feeling okay.

This is not the same level of 'okay' or 'good' that I would have recognized six months ago. These would have been fair to eh days then. My standards have changed and I will take an okay day and be happy that I had one.

I decided to go to my sister's for Thanksgiving. It will be a never done before trip for me and that will make it special. She asked me to bring some photos that I have of our grandparents and great grandparents. She also said something about Karoake on friday night. That could make it scary, but fun. I drilled her on the fixing for Thanksgiving and she said 24lb turkey and jellied cranberry and I was set. My love of white turkey meat showed it's pretty face.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Black cargo pants.

A pair of black cargo pants. An envelope with "Betts" on it in Jim's handwriting. A poster that hung on a wall in our first apartment. The Ugg boots won from top Christmas sales. A jewelry box given to me 7 Christmas's ago. Directions to the cemetary my Grandparents are buried. A suitcase full of comics from about 4 years ago.

These are all things of Jim's that I found while cleaning up and sorting out the upstairs office/spare room. All of them elicited a memory. A pain in the chest. A decision to not toss it. The cargo pants were when I lost it. Stopped and had to cry and feel the loss, the grief. They reached past my hard working exterior and hit me.

But I went on, I sorted out 6 plastic totes containing all sorts of items. And anyone that has seen my spare room (heck my house) (think clean sweep) knows that tonight was an accomplishment. There was a very easy part. My tote of handbags. I whizzed thru them. I didn't realize I had that many and I got rid of about 3/4's of them. Clothing will be next. I set up the bed so I can't go to sleep until I clean the clothes off of it. I am not doing that till I sort thru them.

I held Jim's black cargo pants. I was not going to let them go and decided that I could do that sometime later. For now they are in a special 'Jim' tote. I am really coming to hate Friday's. I was feeling good all day. But this is something that must be done. Will I ever be ready for it. Don't know. I know at a certain point in the sorting that I just wanted to lay down and die too. I can't figure out the why of my being alive. At least not tonight. I think that is when Jim smacked me in the back of the head. And reminded me that I don't think like that so stop it. Maybe it was my Mom. Maybe it was just me. I don't know. But I am past it.

Next week is a first Thanksgiving without my husband and it is looking pretty tough. I guess I can do it, I got thru our birthdays and our anniversary, but Thanksgiving was always a special holiday for us. More than Christmas. I don't really have much to be thankful for and wish it was last year. I try every day to get thru one more day and I am doing it. The lonliness is there.

There are some options for Thanksgiving. A trip to hagerstown via bus and then my sisters gets me and it is on to Wva. for a couple days and then back to hagerstown and the greyhound to baltimore on saturday. Or stay at home and watch movies, hang out in my jammies and relax. To my Dads in westminister with a ton of people (stepfamily) that is really my last choice. Not for any reason other than memories that are there.

I guess I am opting for the first one just because it will be something different. Something I never did with Jim. That will help. Most years when were in this area we would go to my Dad's first and then his sisters and play some poker. She isn't speaking to me anymore so I won't expect an invitation there. I know my Dad would love me there and may even expect it. It was just hard at Labor day to face all the family and try to be 'up'.

I don't know if anyone can understand it. After almost six months, it still feels like yesterday. It still feels like forever.

Impersonations and accents

Today at work I was talking to my boss and we discussed a project called Martha's Recovery. When I said the title he broke into a grin and said 'ah, there is the new england accent". I guess I said mahtha with that Boston twang.

It made me think about Jim and his chameleon like voice. He was great at picking up speech styles and echoing them. Usually without even realizing it. I noticed it time and again over the years.

I first noticed it shortly after we were married and he had an employee with a bit of an indian accent. A couple weeks later it started to creep in after he worked with him. It made me smile and I would point it out to him. He would get the Baltimore shade to his words when he hung out with his best friend John down in Hampden. The tradition "warsh the dishes in the zinc" and all that. When we moved up to Boston he picked the up the accent there quickly.

He was great with impersonations and could tone his voice to match actors and friends. I enjoyed listening to him go thru this when he was reading for a part in a play. His Hannibal Lector's "Clarice..." gives me chills even now and his Pee Wee Herman was right on the money, down to the silly laughter.

Just something I didn't want to forget about Jim and in remembering, it is a memory saved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mid week rambles

It has been a long week, and it is just Wednesday.
I took off work today because I was not feeling really good. The edge of a head cold or something. I have also not been feeling very good emotionally. Feeling sort of like every nerve has been woken up and pinged. Maybe that is from the occurances of the weekend. Maybe it is a normal 5-6 month grieving thing. I am crying at the drop of a hat. Everything seems to remind me of things that never will be again.

Speaking to my boss this afternoon, yes, my boss that called to see how I was doing. Gosh I hope I don't do something to blow this job. He said he was concerned because he had noticed me not on my A game and was hoping I was okay. I told him about the head cold and then went on to talk about emotions that are hitting and and I discussed my seeing a counselor on a one on one basis to help straighten things out maybe. I mentioned it to him first and he said then that if there was anything he could do as far as time to leave early or a ride or insurance to just ask. He was very understanding about what I may need and said we can figure it out. Good bosses are nice to find.

I am ending this with a photo. I found this picture in a pile and it is Jim from our honeymoon in OC. We had a huge suite and were having some fun. He was doing a typical Jim thing - silliness for a photo. I never understood the sticking the napkin in his mouth, but he was prone to do things like that in other pics. Hold things on his head, in his ear or mouth, always when I was about to take the pic. Here he has a napkin in his mouth and is posing ballerina style (I think). The funny part came after the pic when he fell into the counter. The MTV jacket in the foreground was the first gift that Jim bought me after we got engaged. I still have it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wandering thoughts

As I wander thru the weeks and am doing things, handling things and living onward, I sometimes feel like a shell. Doing what I need to do. Even laughing and being with friends. Enjoying tastes and colors and moments.

I am confused inside and I don't really want to move forward yet, but I feel like it is reaching the point where it is expected. Where I am expecting it. An inch forward. But for every inch forward is an inch of what was that is lost. What I really want is to go back and if not have what was lost again, at least have a reprieve from the facade of being 'okay'. A week to just not do anything and be okay about it. Yet, as others have children, I have my pets and as many of us widows have, we have bills.

Sitting home last night - with a dog on each side of me, I took a moment to look around at what was accomplished this weekend and it was good. Talking to the guy at Comcast and learning that they have to send a guy out to look at my cable was not good.

I hate repair guys. Especially from Comcast. About three years ago we had a problem and it took them 4 guys to visit and figure out what was really wrong. One guy was looking up on the pole, one was following out lines out the window, one just stood in my kitchen and looked confused and the last one was an older guy that strode in, checked this, clipped that, attached those and it was fixed.

Jim was the wire guy. He has our house wired for cable like nobody could imagine. We have a cable coming in and then it splits for the internet and tv. That was put on by the cable guy. Then a little further down the line it splits into maybe four? different ways to handle a tv in four rooms. Our main living room, the bedroom, the kitchen and the office. The wiring at that point looks very convoluted and makes me shake my head. It's a Jim thing.

I am not sure what I am going to do in the future. I can't believe I am even thinking of the future. But I meant the future when there are no longer any 'Jim things' to look at and smile about. And I don't mean actually 'things' like physical items. But more like stuff that I know was a Jim-ism to do. Let's see if I can call a few up. Well, the splitting the cables is one. In every house we lived in, he was the electrician/cable guy. Along with that is the tv in every room theory. I haven't turned the one in our bedroom on in over five months. A towel hanging over the shower rod instead of on the towel rack. An unmade bed vs a made bed. These are things we do differently enough that I knew he had been in the room when I saw them. And have missed them.

Oh yeah, how about the flooding in the basement. Major Jim-ism and I forgot it completely. We have a basement that seeps water at one end and sort of slopes. If the rain lasts more than a couple days we have to worry. Jim solved this years ago by inventing the kitty litter dam. It sounds just like it is. He would put a line of kitty litter across the path of the water and it would soak it up. Then when the rain is past, just shovel the litter into a bag. It worked well because we have a very small very cramped very unfinished basement. I forgot this trick. It rained and rained a couple weeks ago and my basement did get flooded a bit. I went down to check and saw the old 'dam' lines and remembered. And started crying - mad at Jim for being gone and leaving me this mess.

I have been sleeping without an alarm clock. That was Jim's duty - to set the alarm to play a certain cd of music. We had a sound machine all night and then the classic music to wake up to. I tried it once when I came back after he died. I couldn't get the alarm to work right or the sound machine to make the right noise. I sleep to the sound of nothing and wake up when my body's moorning alarm goes off. It was a Jim-ism. He could coax things to do many things you would never thought possible. I dread the day when I have to try and hook up or change the wiring on the tv or cable or tivo. Oh my.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday Monday

It's Monday afternoon and depression is really hitting. I guess it may be an aftermath of the activity this weekend or maybe the weather, but all I want to do is go crawl up in a dark room for awhile. I guess last month I was thinking he may still be alive somewhere just where I can't see him or he can't call. Now there is more realization that he is gone. Even more than there was before. Every day is becoming harder.

My internet connection has been off at home so I was not able to access my blog till I got to work today. Thank you all for the comments and support. Every word I read in the comment section helps.

My two brothers, one older and one younger came on Saturday to do some work around the house and finish some things that have been hanging for a few months. My older brother Sam was very steady and went project by project to get things done. I was chuckling on Friday night when he was saying some words that were exactly what I said before. "damn you Jim for dying. damn it." This was as he looked at the work that was started by Jim. He looked at an unfinished dream. I am glad he was able to complete the stairwell and follow the design of what Jim had envisioned. That meant a lot to me.

Before any construction though, we hauled things from the basement and backyard out to the truck and then down to the dump. Things that had been in our basement waiting. Waiting for the bigger house Jim and I were going to move into. Things that were moved here from our other large house, and promised five years and then a larger place. Things that had been in the basement since before our time there and since Jim had been a kid living there. We just kept hauling stuff out. After the two trips to the dump there is now one side of the basement that is almost empty. It is amazing to go down there and see the space that is now found in a still very small cramped area. There is more sorting and tossing to do, and now there is better room to do it.

The trip to the dump was very very difficult. Throwing away things that were Jim's. Things that meant enough to him for him to keep all these years. And I will say not everything got randomly tossed. There was sorting and picking and even arguing with brothers on the reason I wanted to keep this item. No the sled doesn't go. Why? it was to be a Captain America shield for Jim and I found it on eBay last Christmas. A lot of work to find it. No, I don't care what you think. I am keeping it. And I did.

I had a moment when all the defenses fell and I saw Sam tossing some of Jim's dad's items. Things that Jim had wanted to refinish and keep as a tribute to his dad. I made the offer, but none of the other siblings were interested in anything still at the house, so I kept one thing as a memento but the rest got tossed. Feeling the wood on the fishing rods and bow, well that was when I lost my control and went to sit in the front seat of the truck and cried and waited till it was over. It seemed so sad at that moment that Jim was not able to honor his father the way he wanted to, but instead now is going to be a memory also. My brother was very good and just let me get it out, didn't ask any questions and offered me a couple tissues.

The construction that took place wasn't difficult and while they worked on that my Dad and I put the storm windows in the outside doors. That was amusing as the windows don't really have latches anymore so to hold them in we use the good old American Duct tape. I think it was Jim's tool of choice for most jobs. I won't forget the maleness that was in the living room when the two brothers and my dad all showed up with their tool stuff. And had to look at them all and compare and figure whose was better. I enjoyed being able to pull out the miter saw that none of them had and a few other of Jim's tools.

They left Saturday night and I spent Sunday doing laundry and cleaning and putting furniture back in place. And taking naps.

I am having a pretty yucky day today - down in the dumps and prone to tears at anything. I am glad I am in the office alone today. Heck, I read a passage in a book that triggered a flash, an
image of Jim - and I started crying over lunch. The image is of Jim in his brown leather bomber jacket and red baseball hat. He looks like Jeff Bridges in Starman. And in the book the character is wearing a bomber jacket. It hit me in the head. Is this a normal thing for five and a half months? I know there is not much that is normal, but I have been noticing a fluxation in emotions some on a daily up and down basis and some on a weekly curve.

I don't know if I mentioned this but it is hurting to look at photos of Jim and yet I can't not look at them. I am closing my eyes and imagining him as he strides up the sidewalk after a long day at work. He is grinning because he can see me out on the stoop waiting, in my slippers and sweats like a good bawltmaw hon. Giving him hugs on the steps and helping him inside with the dogs bouncing around him vying for attention and the cat winding itself around his legs. This image comes back to me over and over.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

And the evening

So the evening started out nice. It was my non profit jobs annual dinner and they even introduced me and such. My dad and his wife were there and it was nice to have them see me get some kudos. I have been with the company for 11 months now and my boss has been very supportative of my needs after Jim died. To the point of offering me a full time position when I needed health insurance.

Anyway, that was fine but I come home and I am tired and I have so much to do to get ready for my brothers who are coming on friday night and saturday to do some work in the house. I am excited about this but also hyper because I know they will look around at the house and maybe not say anything to me but talk about it to themselves. My house is a mess. I mean it.

I was cleaning the fridge and got the old food out and then looked at the glass shelves....which I don't clean so they are filthy, but all I could think of is what would they think. I said yuck and cleaned them and then cleaned dishes (which i was going to do anyway) and thought about the upstairs rooms where all the clothes I haven't washed in a couple weeks are and gosh, just that everything is a mess.

Oh. I am tired. I feel about as low as I can and I really am going to miss Jim's arms around me tonight. and I know how crazy this is, but I just want it to be over. Not there visit but the deluge of emotions. I don't know if I can explain right to my brother sam whom I admire just how bad i have felt and that it is hard just to get up each morning. how I come home at night and look around and say 'eh. who cares'. I hope he can understand and not be shocked at how I have come to be living.

I have laundry that needs to be done, but the last time i did it, the wet clothes sat in the dryer for a week. I forgot to hit start. So i washed them again and dried t hem and it was okay, but i felt stupid. And others have said that it would be good to do stuff and make the place better. i know. i try. i get bursts of 'lets clean/fix/sort out stuff' and then it goes away. I can make lists. that is what I can do. and sometimes do one or two or three things on the list, but for every list I make there are 19 other things i could add to the list.

oh. I am just tired of the up and down and up and down feelings. this is just a rant, it will subside in a couple hours. I think these feelings also hit at certain times of the day. Like just before I am going to bed. Hmmm. I have to remember that.

It's Wednesday again

Just Wednesday.

Tuesday is 'work on cleaning out and organizing two totes/boxes of stuff' night. I had some fun doing that last night because I found a cache of slides. I love 35mm slides because they are so crisp and the colors so brilliant. Many of these were taken when I was in High School and are still very clear.

I think what I need to do is take them someplace and have them put on a disc for storing on the computer. I need a better way to store them/organize them. I am loving this taking pictures again thing. I really want to get a Canon EOS rebel digital SLR...maybe for christmas. Santa are you listening?

Just walking or riding around the city has been fun. I have ideas for photo books and one would be the 'Red Buildings of Baltimore' coffee table book. Simple things like gardening tools have a symmetry and color that I found interesting. I am taking a picture of the view from my backyard of the house across the alley. I am repeatedly amazed at how the lights play on this second story and how the colors change as the hours change in the day. I am just enjoying the taking a pic and having it be what I saw in my head it should be.

On another note, tonight is my company's Annual Dinner and Presentation. I have been taking pictures all week of projects and trying to get the shots my boss wants for the powerpoint project. I have now learned that getting info from him on what he sees in his head as the perfect shot is like pulling teeth from a rhino. Sigh.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Just a couple hours later

Just a couple hours later and here I am again.

Dishes are done, clothing somewhat picked up and went downstairs to sit with dogs and watch some tv. Come down to find a huge pee stain fresh and wet on the new el cheapo rug. I yell and scream and chase both dogs out of the living room and try to sop up the mess. I am mad, I am frustrated and I am tired of this crap. It has been going on for a few weeks. I got rid of one rug and just got this one. It was 20.00 bucks at Walmart but I just got it. Argggh. It is always in the same spot, and I have treated the wood, the rugs with I thought would get the smell out and break the cycle. Nope.

So I toss some newspaper under the spot and try to soak it up. I put some frebreeze on it as a stopgap till I can get some more of the pet stain/smell remover. I put my 3 legged dog who I think is the one doing it in the basement in her crate. I will do that for a few days. The thing is, I was not upstairs for long. I had let them out before I went up. I think she was just mad that I was upstairs and she wasn't. Well honey, peeing on the rug is not the way to get invited upstairs.

Just a couple hours later.

Annie's Song playing

So here I am.

Another winter has crept in and so have the mice. I can hear them in my bookcase.

Here I am. Listening to John Denver and why? Why am I torturing myself. I am lonely. I was trying to clean upstairs. I was cruising the iTunes and I saw the Country roads song and hit play. Now, now my heart is beating so fast it hurts. Annies Song is playing. The song Jim chose for our first dance at the wedding. The song my nieces sang at his memorial. The song I tried to sing Sunday morning and found I couldn't. It would only come so far out of my head. I never knew why he picked this song, but it really was perfect for our love.

So, I sit and listen, to mice, to songs and I try to once again wrap my brain around the fact that Jim is gone. I see his smile and his eyes all around me. It helps sort of and yet oh it hurts so to look at the pictures, but I can't help myself. A double edge sword. I probably should be folding the damn clothes or cleaning the mess that my room is. But oh it hurts even to type. Someone told me that months 5-7 were hard. Funny, someone a couple months ago told me that months 3-6 were the toughest. Hunh. I guess every fucking month is hard. And yet, must go on.

I can't remember if I have posted this song here or not. But it is our song.

ANNIE'S SONG (John Denver)

You fill up me senses like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses come fill me again.

Come let me love you, let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms (no no no no)
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you
Come let me love you, come love me again.

...Let me give my life to you
Come let me love you, come love me again.
You fill up my senses like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean

You fill up my senses, come fill me again.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

November 4th part two

So in an earlier blog I mentioned finding a hidden cache of photos. I love that. In honor of our 18th wedding anniversary, I am posting some wedding day pics. The ones that made me smile and lifted my heart.

November 4th

Waking this morning to a grip of pain. And then the realization came that it was November 4th. Our 18th wedding anniversary. And we were apart. And I was alone.

I sat up and immediately was overwhelmed by the rush of emotions that ran thru me. Pain, lonliness, confusion, terror, abandonment and a big major feeling of 'why'. The tears streamed down my face and I started creening in my grief. There was just a hole in my chest that had opened again, just overnight.

My hand went to Jim's shirt that I keep in my pillow, I pulled it out and held it to my face. I could feel the cloth and when I closed my eyes, I seemed to feel Jim inside. I took my time and cried myself out. I knew why I got hit with this, and wanted to let it out. There was no logic to my thoughts, just a swirling hurricane that bounced around. I tried singing our wedding song, but couldn't. I could hear it in my head so that helped. I moved over to a chair in the room.

I pulled out the 14th wedding anniversary card I had found and brought with me. Inside were precious words written by a man that loved me. Loved me as no other has. I read this over and over. "You still have my heart in your hands, my soul is forever yours, you are still so beautiful after all this time. Inside and out, I love you always my wife. Love, Jim"

Sitting in the chair and remembering. The first time we met. His proposal to me. Our first anniversary and Shadow the little grey puff of a kitten he gave me as an anniversary present. Of our anniversary weekend at the Halloween party. The weekend getaways for our anniversaries and the years that we were at home and relaxing - just being together. I cried. I cried at what had been lost and never to be again. The memories are still with me but the man to make them is not.

I wiped my eyes and thought of why I was in this strange hotel room in a strange city, all alone. My cousins 50th birthday is why. The party for Craig was great. It was a surprise and his wife executed it with superb deviousness. Craig thought it was a surprise party for his mother in law. His wife went even to make up lists and seating arrangements for the 'Mother in law dinner' and left them where Craig could see them. I thought that was a hoot. There was only one 'bad' moment throughout the whole evening. The first dance was for the birthday boy and wife and they played a romantic Kenny Rogers song. At the first bars I knew I had to leave.

I mean it was almost incredible how just a few words could set off such a reaction. I got out of the room fast and stepped outside to sit in the cold air, cry and wonder where my husband was. I did a smart thing and after not being able to get a grip, I called a friend and had them talk to me for a few minutes. They understood because they had lost a partner and knew exactly what I meant when I said 'that song did it.' I don't know if anyone else would have understood. I do know that when I came back in, I had several family/friends asking where I had gone. And if I was okay. I just told them a short "It was that song, I had to get some air." and they gave me hugs and nods and acceptance of my pain. Which is a good thing. Recognizing that the widow is still grieving and just being supportative of that is a nice sort of surprise.

I debated going to the party at all. Knowing it was going to be emotional because it was our wedding anniversary. I decided to go after looking at the Halloween costumes. For many years, my cousin would throw an 'after halloween party' on the following weekend. Often, Jim and I would drive down and join the fun. We loved to get in costume and partying with this gang. We talked about our going on our anniversary weekend and Jim said one time "why not be around the people we love and that were there for our wedding to celebrate the years of our love.' When I thought about it a couple weeks ago, I said yes, I should be around friends and family that love us. It seemed like the Jim thing to do.

My pain this morning eased as I thought about that. The need and want and ache to have Jim is still here, but the pain is not so sharp.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Just one

Just one photo tonight. It is a favorite that I hadn't seen in about 10 years or so. Jim is in a costume for a movie that some friends of ours put together. Well, actually not a movie but rather several episodes of a tv show they wanted to make.

He is a guard. He has a black beret and my Jedi cape on. He is quite dashing. More pictures to follow - but no more like this, when I get them scanned and such.
It has been fun to see the young Jim from years ago, when we first were married.

A surprise find

Inundated with photos.

New old photos that I haven't seen in years and years.

I had a friend over and we worked on the basement. In doing so we opened a box and there was a quadzillion photos. A lot from our wedding day. Some from our first puppy Gryphon. Some from my Dad's 70th? surprise birthday party. A bunch from various moments in our lives. All were from before 1997. They must have been in that tote box for years and years.

It was both a treasure chest and a pandora's box of emotions.

I looked at them smiled at the memories and cried that it was all lost. It's not fair that Jim is gone from my life. It's not fair that he won't be able to take a picture giving me bunny ears again. It's not fair and I don't like it.

The photos are hurting but they are so wonderful that I can't turn away. I cry and I can't put them down.

Sometime soon I will post a few.