IMO

As I close my bowser’s window on an article highlighting Matt Lauer and the scandal surrounding him, I find myself getting pissed off again.  I know, I know…there are actual individuals here in this sexual harassment/misconduct movement that were very wrongly treated.  The people who wronged them should be reprimanded and removed from their positions if they took advantage of their power.  I get that and I am not unsympathetic to that.  I just find myself shaking my head with a look of disgust… not at the alleged perpetrators, but the society we live in that views the so-called victims…well…as victims.

I feel people are likening and confusing harassment with abuse.  There are two totally different worlds here, kids.  There are many unfair situations we all encounter…it’s called life.  “I felt I was under his spell”. Are you flipping kidding me??!!  You are damning a person because they were cunning and you were smitten by them?  Take some responsibility for your actions that you slept with a married man…consensually!!! As a twenty-something!  Not a child.  For the love of…

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So, I sit here self reflecting…as anyone knows me knows that’s where I spend a good chunk of my time.  Why is this hitting a nerve?  Why do I repeatedly find myself so agitated at the situation.  I am usually able to see both sides of an argument, regardless of where I stand…and not get mad about the other side’s views, we are all entitled to them.  I have tried to find what’s relatable to me in these stories and allegations.

The only thing I can come to is that I, myself, have been wrongly treated.  Not in the ways that that are being highlighted…well, I mean yes.  I have been inappropriately addressed.  I have had comments about my boobs, butt…sexual advances.  So what? I ignored, rolled my eyes, sometimes uncomfortably laughed…and walked away and moved on with my day.  Life isn’t always comfortable. When I say that I have been wrongly treated, I am talking about wrongly treated in the way that you can’t just move on with your day.

Now, we all have different levels of tolerance to what we accept, so there really is a gray area as to when someone is crossing the line.  It’s up to us, as adults, to create the line for those around us. And let it be known, one way or another, that it has been crossed.  Like, at the time it happens, not a decade down the road.

Where there is no gray and no expectance of parameters being stated, is when you are dealing with a child.  I was a child once, that you could say was harassed. I was not abused. There was a sexual advance.  My family, for the most part, does not know this (and don’t even try fam, I won’t say more than I am saying here), but I was targeted  by a trusted adult before I was even in my teens…to have sex with them.  I don’t remember the exact words, I remember exactly how I felt though.  I remember exactly where and when.  There was no physical force, the words, though, were very manipulative and were meant to make me trust them more.  That it was the right thing to do.  I was ready, they were sure of it.  And they tried to convince me of it.  And, if not at that moment, they were to be my first…I deserved that, they said.  For it to be with someone that loved me, them.

Well, they weren’t my first, second or anywhere on my list, but they shaped who was.  They shaped how I viewed sex, what it meant, when it should happen.  They, without touching me, took away the innocence of a little girl.  I couldn’t be more proud of my pre-teen self to know better at that point.  She had a moral compass right then, even if it got altered along the way after that…because of that.

I am left reflecting how else I was wronged.  Not harassed, but really wronged.  In my opinion, anyway. Oh, I have a million examples of how people have been rude, said nasty things, people stealing my parking spots when I CLEARLY had my directional on that I was turning there…

But really wronged. So that it still hurts to the core when I think about it. Not just annoyed or verbally violated by a co-worker.  Pain.  My oldest, James, was with me.  We were at Dana Farber in Boston.

Earlier on that day, I received the call.  I had gone to the White Mountains by myself.  That’s where I go to find peace. My youngest child’s father, Mike, had passed away a few years prior and I spread his ashes along the Kancamagus.  I went there to be close to him and to “talk” to him.  I had out loud asked Mike if he would take care of Matt up there in Heaven…show him around….if that ended up being Matt’s fate to join him.

Matt was my boyfriend of just over a year who was battling leukemia.  He  had been through hell with the disease.  I stood by as his cheerleader, and he knocked the sucker into remission, for a time.  The relapse was brutal, emotionally and physically. As was the stem cell transplant he had endured months prior.  I was there for nearly all doctor’s appointments.  And stays he had in Boston, I was back and forth religiously.  Any infusions or transfusions locally, I kept him company.  I wanted to be there, and he wanted me there.  Things went downhill pretty fast over the course of a couple weeks, landing him in the ICU in Dover for a few days.  I arrived first thing in the morning there on the last day, so I could be there for rounds with the doctors.  I was the only one there and when I walked in, I immediately knew things were different.  There was some red medical bag on the couch.  His breathing was more labored.  All the chairs were moved away from him.  I kept looking for the doctors though the glass wall of his room.  Finally, the female doctor came in and ultimately told me that they didn’t feel comfortable caring for him any more in Dover and they were med-flighting him to Boston, but first they were going to intubate him.  Life support.  The room spun.  I was just a few doors down from the room Mike was in, almost exactly three years prior, that I held him as he took his last breaths being taken off of life support. I asked the doctor if she had called his parents, and she said she hadn’t.  I told her I would go call his mother.  I recall sitting on the floor of the ICU bathroom because I didn’t have the legs to stand when I told her.  The family came in the waiting room one by one.  And most came in not warm to me.  I don’t know, to this day, why there was such iciness.  I don’t know if they thought I had told them to intubate, or…I don’t even know.

Matt was flown, I went home and got the kids situated and drove down and spent the rest of the day.  When there, the family decided I wasn’t welcome in the room to talk with the doctors anymore.  I was at nearly EVERY doctors appointment, usually just me and Matt…and there were tons, but suddenly, I was not involved.  It was explained to me that they didn’t want Matt’s ex, the mom of his two kids, in the room because she was too unstable, so this was the only way it was fair.  I didn’t agree, but didn’t argue, I went in the room with him when I could and returned home that night.  A good friend sensed me not able to sleep and greeted me with a coffee in my driveway in the wee hours and chauffeured me back to Matt before it was even light.  The doctors said that it would be that way, unconscious and intubated for days before we knew anything.  So, the next day I took myself for a breather to the Kancamagus.

Then the call.

They were taking Matt off life support.  I don’t know what the doctors actually said, so I don’t know about the decision and if I agree it was the right time. I said I was on my way.  His Mom told me not to hurry, that it would be a while.  I made my way back through Rochester and my eldest greeted me and took the wheel to accompany me the rest of the way to Boston (Thank you, kiddo!).

Then the final slap in the face.  We walked into the waiting room and the Mom explained to me that only immediate family was welcomed in with Matt.  I, who took every chance I could to be there for him, more than anyone else there (his Dad excluded), was not allowed in to even say goodbye.  Not even for 5 seconds to give him a kiss on the forehead.  I just traveled from the mountains to the city to get lumped in the waiting room of everyone who dearly loved him, yet wasn’t close enough to see him.  My every good morning and goodnight was going to die, and I couldn’t say goodbye.  That right there…is being wronged.

(I am clearly still working through this.  That went on far longer than I expected. My blog, my therapy.  Thank you for coming along with me.)

So, we’ve hit on the indecent sexual advances, being wronged, now abuse.

This both brings me way back and also brings me to today.  As much as it would be therapeutic to go into detail with circumstances, there are still children intertwined with my experience with this topic, so I will keep the details light.  My first marriage ended horribly.  I was young and thought things would eventually even out after time…but, the fact is that we were married just under a year.  The last night we were together had me running out of the house in just a t-shirt and panties in the middle of the night in fear for my life.  I was left bruised, not for the first time, and heartbroken.   And my most recent relationship didn’t end much differently.

Now, I know it’s not all about me.  But my life and my experiences are what I have to draw from.  In my opinion, and you are allowed to have yours, is that inappropriate advances, looks, slaps on the ass are wrong, but they are not abuse.  They are not even close to being on the same playing level of being wronged.

I think I have processed my anger with this situation splashed all over the media.  There are people out there that have had horrible things happen to them, much worse than myself.  It frustrates me that people are boo-hooing over what is actually, sad but true, just a part of life.  Toughen up, set your boundaries, and hold people accountable WHEN they are being an ass or making bad decisions…including yourself.

 

 

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This Too…

I have started numerous blogs over the past few weeks.  Two others tonight, actually…only to edit, re-write and finally delete them.  I find myself needing a voice, but the story that longs to be told, isn’t only mine.  It belongs to a bunch characters who all have different roles.  And only a few of those know every little dirty detail of this story.

I don’t want to pen something to make anyone look bad, ashamed, embarrassed or hurt.  I want to write because it heals me somehow when I put my thoughts and feelings on these pages, it has a cathartic effect.  Instead of healing, I am getting more angry that I am still being controlled.  Gagged.  Always having to take the high road that a lot of people seem to have lost the directions to when dealing with me.

It’s a foreign feeling for me to sit here depressed…angry.  Throwing my own little pity-party.  My positive spin and silver lining way of thinking is being drowned out by resentment.  I know it’s not my fault for the way someone else was brought up or the way I was treated.  Yet, I am filled with so much guilt that I allowed an exposure to more pain for my family. And then I am back to angry.  I feel let down and that I let down.

Because of the brain I possess and the experiences I have had, I know that this too shall pass.  This too, is a bit much to handle right now…and when it shall pass, won’t come fast enough.

So, for now I will continue to search for ways to heal myself.  I will work on forgiveness…for others and myself.  I will try to find a place for this anger and try not to let it turn into complete hatred.

I have removed myself from a roller coaster that derailed…I just need now to find my peace and some steady ground.

 

 

The Show Must Go On

I started thinking that this was what I was knit for.  Aside from being a Mom, of course. Was to enter lives of certain men just to inevitably exit (If I hear I was somebody’s angel one more time while I am a mortal being, I don’t think I will be able to handle it).  Being so “strong” that I can stand on my own two feet again after the fall-out.  And not because I lost interest or found something better to end a relationship.  But because I just couldn’t stay any longer, my time was over. The last decade has had it end because of severe addiction, because of death, because of abuse.  So, I am left here looking in the mirror…seeing myself as the common denominator.  I have to figure out for me…and the children…what has gotten me so attracted and attractive to men that are possibly on their way out.  Or on their way to their bottom.

On a Tuesday morning not so long ago I had found the courage to call my Mom.  I had to tell my parents about what had happened just a few days prior.  The man my father was so happy I had found…the one we were all so happy that we found…took a turn somewhere and made some decisions that I am certain he will always regret…and I, myself, will never fully understand.  He hit his bottom, hopefully, and that was the end of us.  All of us.  How we knew us to be.  My Mom’s response after full disclosure? “Well…just more material for your blog”.  I couldn’t help but laugh!  God love her.  I guess I needed a chuckle and she gifted me that!

I still love him deeply, want and hope the best for him…but as a mother and as I love and respect myself…I can’t justify letting him back into our lives.  I know life has a way of not working out as we see it now, so I am open to the fact that maybe our paths will cross again at different points in our lives and maybe then will be the right time to be together.  But that time is not right now.  The self reflection part starts now.  Looking at that common denominator I spoke of.  So much fun…said dryly with much sarcasm…

I posted on facebook a few weeks ago a question to my friends and followers asking “I could use some positivity right now…what do you love about me?”.  It was very interesting to read the responses.  I was so appreciative and humbled by what was being written, but also felt like the wind was knocked right out of me when I read the kind words of my facebook folks.  There was a lot about me putting my family first…and  I liked that.  But reading more into it, there was a lot of mention about my “heart”, “seeing the best in people”, “being forgiving”.  Well, Jeese-Louise…my strengths are also my weaknesses when it came to my love-life!! That’s what always gets me to where I end up. Light shines on Marblehead. (Another thanks to my mom for that reference!!)

I follow my heart.  I see past flaws and see the best. Not really the worst trait you can encompass…right?

My heart has led me to love a few men.  I now feel fortunate with that.  I finally learned what unconditional love was (not the maternal kind), but not until I hit my 30’s.  I feel I am lucky enough that despite my losses, I allowed my heart be vulnerable enough to fall again.  I don’t feel I have “taught my kids to shuffle through men like a deck of cards”, at least I hope I haven’t, like one bitter person told me just recently that I had. But I hope I have taught them that I can love deeply.  That love isn’t always butterflies and rainbows.  That true love isn’t loving a perfect person, but loving a flawed person, perfectly and wholly.  That just because you give your all, doesn’t mean your going to get it in return…but it’s worth the try just the same.

I hope that the wise person that once told me that it only takes one strong and devoted parent to raise successful beings…was as wise as I think they are. Because clearly I am the one constant here with these kids.  I hope to God I keep their respect along with their love for me through all these ups and downs.  And I hope that each and every one of them get the chance to love fiercely and unconditionally…and to feel it in return at least once in their lives.  Maybe more if that’s the path that’s meant for them.

Love isn’t always what you planned it to be.  Life isn’t either.  But the show must go on…and that’s okay.

Doing this the only way I know. Family time and Writing.

So sweet. Tender. Patient and kind.
Anticipating needs, like reading my mind.
Irritable, moody, without any warning.
A new day and new attitude, greets me ever morning.
Compliments, gifts, security offered.
Back turned, threats given without even a bother.
Promises? Broken. Trust? Gone.
Subtracting the pros and leaving the Con.
A wolf that is dressed up in sheep’s clothing.
Confident and driven was how he was posing.
Just a shattered boy beneath it all,
I pray for the healing to help him from this fall.
The aftermath, confusion and loss that’s been left,
Is so close to that familiar feeling of death.
I was in no way prepared to travel again,
On this road the He above has undoubtedly penned.
I’ll have faith that there is a bigger plan,
For me, the children, and this defeated man.

My Purpose

I have grown into believing that in every situation there is a lesson…and all that happens to us has a purpose.  Actually, if I think back…maybe I am just wired like that. I do distinctively recall a lot of eye rolling from my best friend through high school on when I would sputter “everything happens for a reason” whenever something adverse happened to her.  It drove her crazy!  Maybe it’s that those of us believing in this theory are just eternal optimists that are spinning each situation into having a silver lining to make ourselves feel better…but either way, it works for me that bad things don’t just happen for no reason at all.  I get to learn and evolve as I go.

Well, when someone you love dies it makes you question this theory.  Especially when it is someone who hasn’t lived a full life yet.  Someone who has children…and small ones at that.  Someone who was loved by all and fought as hard as he could and that made no difference.  He went through a hell of a year fighting and being sick for no difference in outcome than if he didn’t fight at all and just gave up.  He is gone.  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  He had plans, WE had plans.

This isn’t an “Everything happens for a reason” situation here.  If that was said to me a month ago…you’d get far more than an eye roll!!  However, I am beginning to look at things a bit differently as time marches on and I get further into the healing process.

I am beginning to believe that we all weren’t meant to be on this earth for 90 or 100 years.  I believe we all have a purpose…some have many purposes. Babies right through to those living 100+ years. When we are taken…our purpose(s) were served.  I’m sure Matt, over his 38 years and especially in his last year, inspired, motivated, healed, loved and impacted many.  I can’t say that there was a reason for him dying, but I can certainly say there was a reason for him living.

So many said to me over the year I was with Matt that I was an angel sent to him and then even more so just after he passed.  It made me uncomfortable because I wasn’t with him to be a saint, out of pity or for whatever reason some people thought (it was nastily said to me by a certain someone after he passed that I liked the “show” of being with Matt!!  I say prayers for that person!!).  I actually fell in love with him and he helped me more than I could have ever imagined in my own grieving process at the time.  Odd that I am left in albeit another time of grief by the one who helped me heal!

I, now that I am moving through my stages of grief and through starting a new relationship, am actually embracing being told that I was his angel.  That was MY purpose for him.  It wasn’t a cruel twist of the universe…as I first felt when he died…to give me love, healing and hope and then snatch it away like a greedy crook.  I look back and know how many times alone we spent cracking each other up.  Rides to the hospital flew by and I swear people thought we were nuts at the laughing and goofing off in the waiting rooms when everyone there was in the midst of a dire situation.  I brought him smiles, laughter and love.  And he brought me the same.  He was my angel, too.  My tears of grief that would arrive in those alone times (especially in the car!) lessened and finally disappeared because of him. The pain in my chest that I held for so long that I didn’t even realize was there…was replaced by feelings of love from and for him.  The grief never goes away, but Matt helped me live happily with it there.  A purpose he had was to help heal me and show me I was able to love again.

It’s nearing five months since he’s been gone.  I am lucky enough, and unlucky enough, to have met someone new to care for so soon.  Grief and a new partner has it’s own set of challenges for both parties.  But I see when starting a relationship without a sickness…which is all I have really known in the past decade…I was missing out on so much…even though I didn’t realize it then.   I didn’t feel like it was lacking anything…it was perfect for what it was at the time.  We were fulfilling a purpose for each other.  Just as this new man in my life is in a role of helping me heal, he is serving a purpose.  I am not sure if this is his only purpose with me and we will part ways tomorrow or next month or next year…or never…or how I am helping him, but he is making me smile and drying my tears (like literally drying them…hence the “unlucky enough” said previously).

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I am now taking comfort in all the roles people past and present have played in my life.  I am embracing all the lessons, love and healing and trying to let that take precedence over what’s been lost and gone wrong.  Eye roll all you want.

My Wish

Last night at work I was propositioned by a patron.  Not in the way that it sounds, but she had a request of me.  I am not sure what initiated the question, why she wants to know or why she chose me to ask.

This customer is one of my many favorites that comes into the restaurant.  She is a very particular woman. She likes what she likes, how she likes it.  I know the glass she prefers, when to refill her and that she likes me to pack her leftovers for her.  She makes sure she tells me just how much she appreciates my service and me as a person.  She compliments me endlessly while I work.  As I go about my duties I like to observe her and her relationship with her life partner, another woman I really like.  The respect they show for each other is heartwarming.  Our conversations are always insightful.  About the restaurant business and occasionally personal life.

“What is your wish for your children?” was her question.

She didn’t need me to answer it right then…she asked me to write it down and I am to share it with her at a later date.  She asked me not to think of the general “world peace” and “end hunger” type of wish…but what I wanted for each of the children individually.  She guessed that it would vary from child to child based on their personalities…and she was right.

I shared with her that I thought it was ironic that “My Wish” was the song I chose for the Mother/Son dance at my eldest’s wedding 2 years ago.  I told her to listen to those words…and that would say it all. But after I got to thinking, I realized that I had more specific wishes for each of them…all very different.

Here they are my special hat wearing, whiskey drinking, fancy glass wielding, song singing, thought provoking conversationalist.

For James, now 23. My wish for him is that he continue to be the God fearing man that he has grown into.  That he continues to be the husband every girl deserves. That he continues to be the adoring and smitten Daddy with just the right amount of faith, love, worry and keeping-it-real to raise an amazing daughter.  See, my wishes seem to have come true with this man.  I couldn’t have hand picked a better wife for him or to be the mother of his child.  I couldn’t be more proud of how he takes care of his family (Insert a shout out to my Dad for being a wonderful role model in that department!). My future wish is for him is continued love between him and his wife and that they grow together through the years and not apart.  To always have that friend by his side loving him, supporting him and encouraging him to be a just little bit better than he was the day before.

DJ mountain

For DJ, now 16.  In this day and age it is very scary to have a teenager.  The demons that are out there and are readily available to our children is frightening.  My wish for DJ is that he sees and recognizes a bad path when it’s in front of him and turns and chooses one that is best for him.  I wish that on that path he gains self confidence in himself and recognizes what his talents and strengths are and uses them to make his living in adulthood.  That he understands the importance of putting in hard work and the benefits you reap because of it.  Mainly pride and self worth. That he deletes “can’t” and “won’t” from his vocabulary and that he believes in himself enough to know that he is as capable of just about anything. My wish is for him not to let fear deter him from pursuing anything, but for him to feel the accomplishment of pushing through it…whether it be asking a girl out or going for a promotion or moving to a faraway land. My wish is for him to always respect the female he will be with.  To know her boundaries and to make sure she respects his.  For him to fall madly and deeply and dizzily in love.

Mackenzie hike

For Mackenzie, now 13. This is a tough age for a girl. Tween and teen girls, well, can be pure evil.  This is a time that self esteem dictates a lot of decision making.  My wish for her now is that she does not underestimate her self worth. That she not only surrounds herself with people that build her up, but she do the same for those she’s near.  A few small words can make or break someone, my hope is that she understands this.  My wish is that she respect her body and her mind and to not let anyone touch either one in a way she does not want or like. That she listen to her inner voice and let that guide her through her teen years and not be swayed by peers or others that she may encounter that will try and violate any part of her being. My wish is that she learn to enjoy where she is and what she has while still maintaining that healthy thirst for better or more.  That she continues to use the tools she is learning through her competitive cheer of hard work and determination and how it pays off and let it carry on into all areas of her life.  That when she’s grown she finds a man to treat her like she truly deserves, that he loves her and dotes on her and respects her and she does the same for him, both while never taking it for granted.

Bray mountain

For Brayden, now 4. Only having four years to get to know Bray…his personality traits aren’t as well defined as the others, so my wishes for him aren’t as exact.  My wish is that the energy he has gets channeled into positive outlets as he grows.  That he puts it on the field or court or gym or wherever he feels he is comfortable.  My wish is that nothing touches his kind nature to harden him.  My wish is that his bright little mind continues to flourish and that he keeps his quest for knowing everything about anything going.  My wish is that he continues to get loved on by his older siblings and they remain a constant in his life as he trails them into adulthood.  That he not feel a void of having his Daddy gone, but to be reminded by those that knew and loved him of all his positive qualities and funny stories.  That alcohol and drugs do not play any role in his life.  My wish is that he is guided by positive male role models along the way, that he is shown how to respect himself and others.  Not just how I show him, but how a man is to do it.  How to provide and be present for his family.  That he finds and holds onto love.

four

For all of my children.  Show compassion and respect, even when it’s not deserved. Own your mistakes. Never show up to a gathering empty handed. Hygiene is mandatory. Keep laughter in your life. And don’t ever forget your Mom loves you with everything that she is, you are her world…she is there for you no matter what.  She has been adoring you since the first second she saw you.  And she always will.

My realization in writing this blog today and answering my friend’s question is that it took a bit of soul searching to write.  What did I wish that I had for myself at those ages…what would’ve bettered me…kept me safer…protected me from harm.   What was it that did impact me in a positive way.  It was a nice way to reflect and to maybe help me choose some actions or words to share with my kids along the way to help the wishes I have for them come true.

Thanks K.

Living in Our (Grief) Trigger-Happy World…

Triggers…the unexpected and probably one of the hardest parts of losing someone you love.   When you are all aboard on this grief train…it’s enough to derail you.  Being that this isn’t the first time I am getting my ticket punched and setting out on this journey…it doesn’t derail me quite as easily, as I know what to expect…however, it seems almost constant at this point.

What’s a grief trigger? A grief trigger is anything that brings up memories related to a loss. What are grief triggers for me?  It would appear that it’d probably be easier to explain what aren’t…but here we go.

Let’s start with the obvious and in-your-face ones.  A birthday.  Matt’s birthday is at the end of this month.  He never made it to 39.  That’ll be a tough day, well, a tougher day…although, learning from my own history, the days before will be the worst when anticipating that monumental day…and the actual day will be okay and filled mostly with good memories and smiles.  Milestones counting out from the death is another obvious one.  First it’s days…then it’s weeks (yesterday it was six weeks since Matt passed)…then it’s months…then you get to the “angelversay” as we call it in our household.  We just passed Mike’s 3rd Angelversary just days after Matt passed away.  September can officially “suck it”. I’m always anticipating those triggers.  You can brace yourself for them and you can plan for your derailment…which, unfortunately, makes it no easier, but at least you have a head’s up.

Then there’s the unexpected triggers you face throughout your days. And weeks. And months.  And years.  I am letting out a big sigh as I just typed that.  My life, since embarking on own my path with Matt, was completely intertwined with him.  We never got to live together (which was our plan as soon as he was “healthy”), but if he wasn’t physically with me…he was on my mind.  Or I was traveling to visit him.  Or I was cooking for him.  Or I was texting him.  Or researching for him.  That makes for going through the days and weeks after he’s gone with a lot of reminders that he is not here.  A lot of free time on my hands that was typically was monopolized by him.  So, even the empty space in my days is a grief trigger.  Having empty space is starting to become my norm, so my new routine is starting to get a little easier.

And then there’s the grab bag of other reminders…the person that walks in the restaurant that looks like him, the song on the radio, the posts and pictures of the Grassdrags Matt was really hoping to introduce me to, looking down at your little boy who’s looking up at you…and drastically resembling Daddy, washing the sweatshirt you stole from him, the random post in your news feed about them…and there’s so many other little and unexpected things, smells, sounds that occur…and regardless of how small or insignificant they seem…they can drop you to your knees, or make you feel like you want to, because the pain is so intense.  Then you pick yourself up and move on until the next one comes along.

Working with the public combined with being so open on social media and through my blog, I come into contact with people daily who knew of Matt’s illness and were up to speed on the final days.  I am friends with a large portion of my customers…some closer than others.  We all catch up with each others’ lives when they visit.  Right up until yesterday I am seeing people for the first time since Matt died who are giving their condolences…hard, but welcomed.  And even harder (for them, not me) are the ones who are out of the loop and ask how Matt’s treatments are going.  That always makes for an awkward conversation…I still haven’t found the right words for that one. More grief triggers.

This becomes the norm.  Life, a series of reminders…triggers.  Sometimes all day…sometimes not for a while.  But forever. I can tell you, years later, I can’t hear an ambulance without being zapped right back to the day Mike was rushed to the hospital only to be gone from us a few days later.  I now know, because of this, that I will never hear a helicopter without thinking of Matt being airlifted to Boston. Throughout your days, I assure you that there are a lot more ambulances and helicopters than you realize!!!

I’m in no hurry to go through this process.  I know from experience that there’s no time limit on when you travel through all the stages of the journey. I will be glad when I am out of what seems like the zombie stage(my own non-technical term). I’ve never seen even a few minutes of the Walking Dead, but I can picture a zombie creature walking down the street, labored, and being hit with bullet after bullet…and they still keep going.  The trigger bullets keep coming, and I keep going.  I am the zombie taking the hits and going through the grocery store by the “Mitchell’s Fresh” sign without outwardly flinching. I am waiting on the customer that uncannily looks like Matt without batting an eye.  I will continue to pour drinks with a smile while a family member sits at my bar and fondly tells stories about Matt.  I will be cleaning the house with the kids when that song comes on…and I will just continue on.  But then I will get in the car alone and let it go.  I will feel it and by the time I’ve reached my destination I will be thanking my waterproof mascara and leftover napkins from Dunkin Donuts on the seat beside me…and move forward.  I will go to bed fine, then hit with a trigger, curl into a ball, get though my grief attack…and then pick up my phone and play my kids and other various opponents in my new favorite smartphone app.

So, what I have learned from mourning Mike and being with Matt, is that the triggers never go away.  Those triggers will be shot at you like bullets, like it or not.  The difference is that over time they don’t need to always be so painful.  They can bring a smile.  A good memory.  Sometimes sadness. Sometimes pain.  But not like it feels in the beginning.

For now, I will be thankful that even through the sadness and pain…and bullets… that I am able to find joy in my children’s smiles and laughter, that I am able to belly laugh whole-heartedly with friends and co-workers…and that I can just merely get out of bed…while it’s still in the a.m… I know that it won’t always feel the way it does today.

Zombie-like or not…I’m moving forward.