It’s been maybe 7 weeks sense Brett passed; and things seem to be slowing down like I expected them to. The weather is getting better and people in my community are getting busier. The idea of being a single parent is starting to kick in and I’m starting to get that 2 pm lul. It’s either around 2 or 5:30/6 when. I would usually be expecting my homebee to be walking in to door. I used to be cooking dinner around 5 but I often find myself cleaning and trying to get the house tidy before he comes home. But that’s just it… He isnt. I find myself cooking and feeding Tucker then cleaning up then playing with Tucker and stalling before bed time. Some times we take a bath and some times we read I suppose it depends on the evening but every evening we miss you. No one has really asked me what it is like having him gone, just one friend. Most everyone else asks generic question like how’s it going? Which often feels like a greeting. It’s such a loaded question I don’t even know what to say. My mom asks me that the most, usually super chipper and almost every time I’m speechless and I just respond… I don’t know… Or I completely graze over it and just start talking about something else. My friend Lauren said to me that she would respond “how do you think it’s going?!” It seemed harsh the first time she told me to respond that way… But it’s starting to seem more appealing.
No one has offered to come stay with me sense it happened. I have had a roommate for the past 3 months… But it seem like because she’s here no one feels like they need to be here. Or call in the evenings… Or any of that. I suppose they think I will put out some cry for help and then someone else will be here to pick up the pieces. But most of my community seems to be living happy lives and life just keeps happening. I guess I expected my parents or my in-laws to want to come and stay with me as I adjusted to being a single mom… Kinda like when you come home with a new baby… But no. None of those things happened. I’m starting to wonder if this is what “growing up” is really like… Or “being an adult”… Maybe something like ” well those were the cards you were dealt… So deal with it ” but saying it in a kind and loving voice?
Last night as I tucked myself in to bed I found myself thinking “I’m living in a dead mans’ house”… “My dead husband’s house… The one he left me… The one I’m so thankful to have, because without it I wouldn’t have a house….(Esp with how expensive our housing market is) but no the less I’m living in a dead mans’ house.”
It feels like it never happened. Like none of it ever happened… I have this kid… Yea.. and this house full of stuff… And every night around dinner time I hit a wall because I expect (somewhere deep down in my brain) that someone might come relieve me… its usually around the time Brett got home from work… And I keep thinking if I get the house clean and dinner ready before he gets home then….
I dont know….
… then it will be just me again. Missing my husband who loved me deeply and didn’t want to die. Who loved me back… Hard. Who fought for us, for Tucker, for our love story. but the reality of ever living the life we used to have when we were Brett and Robin will never happen again and coming to the reality of this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
One of the 3 times I saw him cry was at the hospital… We were snuggling before he was released and he cried to me and said ” what if I don’t get to see Tucker play with his friends? Get good grades? Or go to any of his games?”
I loved a man who loved me back deeply, and only cried at the idea of not being a family as our son grew. Even at the end when he was delusional he would randomly say things like “but not Tucker… He’s too young…” To young for what we would ask… He responded weird things like “to go in the ride… It’s to fast for him…” So we reassured him that he was right and Tucker was indeed to young and we wouldn’t let him ride
Today I hit a wall. My mom was late to come over and pick up Tucker and I have been somewhat overwhelmed because he’s teething again… (He’s teething 4 teeth at the moment and he’s cranky. This will bring his grand total to 16 teeth). I went to see my NP and ended up breaking down. I was trying to tell her whats been going on in my head and I couldn’t figure out how to say what I was thinking. I was feeling extremely distracted and disorganized in my thoughts that I had a hard time finishing my thoughts. I then went to a friend’s house to shop through her lularoe clothing and found my self rambling aimlessly… My sweet friend just let me… But I was exauating myself just trying to remember what I was saying and she had to be dragged along into my swamp. Before I left I checked my phone and my mom said my gram was in the ER with heart problems. There it went again… My anxiety. I was already having a weird day and then it went again… By the time I got to the ER and found out everything was fine… I started to get super tired… Like an emotional crash. My gram complained about her dinner options…. I was basically speechless about her ablity to complain. She’s in the ER, room 35, a room I’m sure thousands of people have died in… And here she is complaining that her only options were turkey or roast beef for a sandwich. In fact once the nurse offered her her choices she responded “oh, no.. I think I’ll just have cottage cheese or jellow thank you.” Uh… That wasn’t an option. She then asked for something to drink.. the nurse said I can bring you water.. my gram promptly respond “oh heavens no… Water.. gaaaa! That’s only used to brush your teeth! I’ll have something more refreshing! Like a juice of some sort or a soda… Oh! And NURSE! I only drink sugar free soda…. ” . . . O.o. I was speechless. The nurse respond ” I can bring you ice for your water so it’s colder and more refreshing?”
She then brings my gram her dinner… And 2 juice options, my grandmother slected both. She opened her sandwich and complained that it was squished and went on a rant about how she’s been there sense 3 pm an it was almost 7 and she was floored that no one had thought to bring her dinner… I kindly reminded her that she was in the ER and not a regular room and her dinner options were the least of the ER doctors concerns. She then complained about the juice containers and how they were hard to drink from and how she got ahold of this article that said not to give juice to babies under the age of one… Esp orange juice. ” Can you believe that?! Did you know that?! She asked me… Uh… Yea. I know about that gram. Thanks.
After she finished her juice she then went on to tell me how inconvenient it was that she had to be in the ER…. because today was a hair washing day and she didn’t think she needed to be in the ER… Even though she’s been short of breath for a few weeks now… Because her heart isn’t pumping enough blood so she’s getting weak. I told her to let her cardiologist know when he got here that it was a hair washing day and how inconvenienced she was to be there. She chuckled. I just slow blinked. And thought to myself… The last time I was here these same nurses told me that there was nothing further they could do for Brett. We went home.. then back to the ER closer to home because the vomiting was still out of control, he had vomited I think 17 times by that point… A total of 21 by the end of the day. After he was hospitalized for 3 days the hospital Dr decided with Brett that it was time for hospice. His body was failing past a point where they could offer relief. Vomiting 4/5x an hour is caused by spasms in your stomach trying to digest but if your constapated and food can’t go down it comes up… Hence the wretching. That was the beginning of our hospice journey… In that ER that my grandmother was complaining about her dinner options.
There is this stigma around widowhood… Well there is a lot of stigma around widowhood and for good reason but the specific reasons I’m talking about are the ones that apply to my story not someone else’s.
I keep finding myself saying “today was a REALLY good mental health day. I feel like these are the normal days that I have been waiting for” I find myself sitting alone at the end of the day once Tucker is in bed happy. It’s true… I am happy. For the situation I am in and the community that I have to deal with this, I feel like I’m doing pretty freaking awesome. In general I’m not depressed and I feel like that is a huge answer to prayer. My dad to day feelings are not sadness or fear but joyfilled. That is the prayer that has been answered. So many people prayed for me after this “storm passed” that Tucker and I would make it to the other side of things whole and together and I feel like the Lord has showed up. We have has so many good days, so many good moments, so many mommy and me moments where I feel so deeply loved.
It often doesn’t feel like real life…. how could it possably be real life. I sometimes find myself framing it like it was an internship… a job… I don’t know something… but not a marriage. it couldn’t have possably been a marriage…. a marriage.. the one that I was in doesn’t end like this. it almost feels like I did all the things I was supposed to do and I did my job well and I ended up with a baby boy, and a house, 2 cars, a dog and a new family that I now have to figure out how I fit in. I feel like I have become the peace keaper of both sides of our families and really of my own mind. juggling my family, my inlaws, my friends, my new roles, my old way of talking, using phrases like “when we got diagnosed” or when “we moved” into hospice… phrase after phrase my life became an alternate reality. could someone I loved so deeply really be gone. Did I really watch him take his last breath? were his nails really blue just like the doctors told me they would be during his last few breaths. was he really in denile whe whole time about dieing? could this really be my life? we did everything “right”… we fought for life as hard as we could. we wanted eachother. till our last words we choose eachother. his last words to me were his usual ” love you” the last words of his that were truly his were ” you always snuggled me… even at the end…. you Always snuggled me.” we choose eachother every day and yet I feel like the results of our love and diligence and intentionality we still somehow failed. I some how failed. failed to keep him, failed to keep us all together. but I still feel like I did everything right so something still doesn’t seem to add up. I still have the love and support from everyone, and almost all of our friendships… but theres still something off that I feel cant be explained. He loved me… he told me soo all the time… he said he loved all of me with all of him. he msaid he would marry me all over again if he could, that I was the best thing that ever happened to him. but here I am siting alone…. typing this out… sitting on the floor of my living room while our sweet baby boy sleeps. hes getting so big and walking and doing things that I know his dad would have wanted to see… and be apart of. that’s one of the few things he cried over, nowing that he wouldn’t be able to watch bubbie grow up and be successful in school, or get good grades, or play sports… even to just teach him to catch… all the things that he was dreaming he would be able to do with tucker. Tucker smiles at me with this sheepish grin sometimes while holding his paci in his mouth…. sometimes just when he sees me walk in the room… its this sort of sideways smile the look that homebee and I gave eachother all the time. I know homebee would see himself in that look, I know he would have loved to see that look. its the look you wait to see as a parent… through all the tears and colic I feel like that is one of the “it paid off” feelings that I know he would have liked to be there for.
Every time I kiss Tucker I kiss him twice. Once for him and once for Homebee. I told myself that when he died I would express my love for him to tucker, that I would share the joy of what that love looked like with Tucker.
One of the hardest things I have been struggling with sence Bretts passing has been disorganization. Its everywhere. My friend Kathy joked affter his passing when i was getting things put together for his service that the messiness of my house was a metafor for my brain. but ever sense she said that it has been one of the first things i notice when im starting to feel overwhelmed. My house is often the first sign that my life feels like its falling apart. Having people like my mom come over once a week and help me with laundry has made a really big difference, it reminds me that im not alone in this whole mess.
Having ADD and going through extreme grief like this has encouraged me to look further into ADD and how to work through it as an adult. I did a bit of poking around on amazon and found a book that talked about how ordination is one of the most difficult things to manage in adulthood while growing up with ADD. it talked about how people think ADD is a childhood illness and that when you grow up you are supposed to be come an “adult” which is more or less broken down into being organized enough to be on time, and manage a house hold, to multitask at work while succeeding in most things you do, work out and take care of your body, make sure to eat a balanced meal and raise a family all at the same time. These things all take a lot of diligence and a tun of planning but they both take organization.
I have been feeling like the main thing that I needed help with over the past few months is help with time management but after reading that I see that even time management breaks down into organization skills. It’s frusterating that things like staying up on the laundry seems so hard or that making meals 3 times a day is a really regular thing. I often find myself in the twilight zone and without Tucker reminding me that he’s bored or hungry I feel like I would waste so much more in the day then I already do. I want to be productive with my days and I want to be intentional with my time. I talked with my grievance councilor today and at the end of every session i find my self asking him what my next steps are and that if maybe I change my wording that he will finally tell me something different… but he doesn’t. He keeps reminding me that the “big 6″ are the only things i need to be working on and I cant over look the importance of them. He said it was like telling a basketball player to only work on dribbling, there are to many things for him to focus on that only looking at one piece of the game doesnt help him become a better player. He then told me that in 2018 I will be a radically different person than i am now and the only way to do that is to work on the ” big 6″ if I don’t then I will continue to have these same sorts of problems because I cant break the cycle without working on myself as a whole.
The Big 6 : Diet, excercise, sleep, introspection, journaling and distraction. Hes right you know. I havnt been working on those things like I should be. Im still missing lunch often and I only have been working out maybe 2x a week. I should be taking it more seriously and working on the things hes asking me to do, he is the one who knows the most about the process and is helping stay off the crazy cycle. I feel like mastering the big 6 will help me find out who I am . I know that I will be forced to become a new woman through all of this and I have already changed ten fold over who I was. There is something freeing about knowing that I will grow out of this stage… this floundering stage where everything is foggy and I feel like I have little control of whats happening around me.
Recently I have been going to a greif councilor who told me there are 6 steps to getting through greif well. Diet, excersize, sleep, journaling, introspection and distraction. This weekend I am really looking forward to going to a hair show in Bellevue WA. My in-laws are watching Bubbie and I am planning on 2 nights away. My roommate was supposed to go with me but she ended up double booking her weekend and had to cancel last minute. I figure I better get used to doing things by my self anyways so I decided to still go alone. I called some family that lives along the way and am planning on staying with them.
Today while I was working out a friend said to me… “It was really good to see YOU today… And I mean SEE YOU… You have been Selflessly serving others and greving for so long I feel like today was the first day I have seen you be yourself in a long time.” I was really taken back and felt validated. I have been working on myself for the past few weeks and trying to figure out my needs. Within that I have also been trying to figure out my threshold. I have realized that my threshold always wins and if I don’t become friends with it, it’s going to run me clear off the road. Learning my threshold has taught me to become better acquainted with failure. Accepting failure and submitting to the things I can’t control has helped me feel encouraged with what I can control. Watching Brett choose to only submit to what he couldn’t control forced me to learn how to let go. For example: I kept hoping that we would have this big heart to heart after we found out how advanced his cancer was. I finally sat at his feet and asked him if we could talk about the big heavy things… And if he would open up to me about what he was thinking. He said “sure, what do you want to know?” I responded “all the things….” He paused for a long time… I nudged him again… He said ” I don’t know what you expect me to say… If I am dieing and there is nothing I can do about it I don’t know what you are expecting me to say” I remember being really mad at him in that moment… I wanted him to tell me how wonderful I was and how much he loved me and longed for a future with me and how much he would fight for our family we were on the verge of starting…. But at that moment… He didn’t say that. And I realized I was mad because he was right. There really was nothing to say. I never saw Brett get carried away with fear of the future, I only saw him cry twice during his whole journey. He ended up crying to me only one time about his concern about not being able to watch bubbie play with his friends or see him succed in school… But most of the time he was just steady. I remember how painful it was to see him be so calm I wanted him to have this realization of some kind and have this big impactful thing to say… But he almost never did. The thing he did very well at was remaining steady. He was a role model to me, he showed me how to be present in the moment without addressing concerns of what if, it seems like one of the most important things I learned from him. Sense he has been gone I feel like I have gotten used to him being so steady that inturn I have become steady. The fears that I used to have… I don’t any longer.
A friend of mine saw that I was working out at a CrossFit gym that has a very prestigious reputation. She commented that she was to intimadated to work out there a d I should tell her what it was like. I responded ” yea, I hear they have a reputation but honestly I have other things to worry about” I keep reflecting on that comment…. I feel like I haven’t felt scared of anything sense Brett passed…. I have already met my demonds, and had a seven course meal with them…. Almost nothing scares me now. What’s the worst that could happen? I feel like with one comment I can put almost anyone in there place and it makes me feel like I have a right to “be at the table” with them. I have already dealt with my worst fear everything else seems quite a bit more black and white. I’ve been processing the idea of fear lately and have come to the conclusion that I honestly don’t care about what’s on the other side of my fear. I will deal with that when I get there just like I have with every other shitty thing that’s happened in the past 16 months. Fear is a choice. It’s not a choice that I am going to feel responsible for anymore. I have learned to just submit to it and show up anyways. I have been in this emotional state where I don’t care what it takes FEAR will NOT steal my joy. It just won’t. I won’t let it.
I have also come to the conclusion that I am not responsible for how anyone else feels about my situation, my loss, their loss or how they are doing. I am only responsible for the words that come out of my mouth, myself, and my son. My community has a hard time with that, but mostly my best friend has a hard time with that. People are motivated by fear, she’s motivated by what she’s afraid I will loose if I don’t say things the right way or if I don’t accomadate my families needs over my own. But I have come to the conclusion that I’m not responsible for their actions and I can’t control how they pricive me anyways. I can only do my best within my boundaries and the rest is up to them. It has been painful for me to be that flexible with my community and my family. Knowing that I can’t control how they see me or if they want to greive the way I want them to. I can communicate untill I have repeatedly made myself clear but if they disagree… Then it just is what it is. So far I have accepted that but there still seems to be this weird phenomenon happening. Within the disagreements on a course of action my friends feel rejected by me and feel like I’m either hard to be around or unreasonable. I am the only person who understands the dynamics of my situation and my boundaries within my situation, only I can see the “thing” the way that it exists to me. Over and over I feel like this situation feels like rejection to them. I took a car ride to the beach with my friend, it was a 5ish hour car ride total and I found that even with someone I love it still took the entire car ride for me to be understood. As we were at the light to her neighborhood she said ” I really feel like that conversation was productive don’t you? ” I said back “no. I just feel like I’ve caught you up on my life over the past few months… But you finally listened.” She responded something like ” I’m sorry, I think I kept listening to what I thought you meant vs what you actually said… What you actually say is hard to hear but your right, it doesn’t make it any less true.” I ended with ” it also doesn’t make us any less Christian… Or… That we didn’t try hard enough… I’ve just submitted to the extent of my control and don’t care about the rest”
I did it. I made it to the funeral. I had my speech written and I hid while everyone was showing up so that no one would tell me how sorry they were for me or cry when they hugged me or what ever else they feel like doing. I knew the funeral would be really hard because wether or not I wanted to be hugged/touched/shake hands/be Pat on the back…. I knew I would be. I also didn’t want to have a zillion conversations about how sad everyone was for me… Or how wonderful Brett was…. I just didn’t want to hear it… I didn’t want to be triggered before I gave my eulogy. For the most part it worked. I made it through… My truck was to not make eye contact with anyone while I was speaking (which I know is a no-no in public speaking, but who are we kidding here… I don’t need to impress anyone). After his service the family walked into the room across the hall and then one my one people started flooding in. It reminded me of our beautiful wedding day, everyone was there for me… To see me… To talk to me… To tell me I was beautiful and that my eulogy was stunning. I’m glad I rested for a week before we did anything… My mom watched my baby for me so I could have 5 days of quiet where I had company only when I wanted it and the other half of the time I watched prison break.
The thing I wasn’t really expecting is that I felt free. And I have been feeling free. For ONCE… My husband can not get any worse. He finally can not get any worse. No more bad news, no more scans, no more pokes, no more meds, no more neausea, no more resting… He is free. I remembered for months trying to remember what my husband looked like before he was sick… Mental pictures not actual pictures, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t remember what he looked like when we were dating. But once he died… I could. The same morning actually! I felt like I could see him in regular clothes at a regular weight and happy as I have ever seen him. It was almost as if he forgot what feeling good felt like and after he passed and was healed he expirenced it for the first time in months and he was just beaming!
The funeral felt a little like our wedding… In fact I kept saging… “Yea.. at the wedding… I mean funeral… I don’t know why I said wedding… That was weird.” And then my dad ended up doing the same thing! He accidentally called it the wedding 2x in one day?! But for some reason it still felt like that to me. Everyone we both knew and loved came. The last time we saw everyone together like that was at our wedding. And the last time I hugged and spoke to that many people was at my wedding. Only this time our conversation was different.
After hearing stories about how Brett was when he was younger and how competitive he was the more I realized how long he had actually been sick. But with that came a peace. I got to take care of a man who was deeply loved by his community at his weakest. No one saw him struggle the way I did, that was something special just for me. When he was first diagnosed he talked about how if he did die how he would be giving me everything he has ever had, his house, his car, his family, his siblings, and his only son. He said he was giving me all of him and everything he had accomplished or that made him successful was going to be passed down to Tucker and I. I remember watching his face when he said that, he was crying but he was also extremely confident and proud of the life he lived.
I married a man who days after being diagnosed (at 29) loving declared that all he was and would ever be was freely given to me. He didn’t once make dieing of cancer about him. Not once. Not even in the beginning.
Something about all that makes me feel peaceful about his passing. He so willingly and lovingly gave me his everything. I don’t feel like a victim, in fact I mostly feel special that he chose me out of everyone he ever knew… He chose to marry me.
We have basically been in an open marriage with my family and with my in-laws over the past year and a half because of my pregnancy and his diagnosis. Having a beautiful baby during the hardest part of both of our lives was the hardest thing ever. After the birth of our son… 11 days after to be exact, we had to drive to Spokane Washington to get to a surgeon who specializes in Brett’s type of cancer. There were only 2 people on the west coast who know how to do the specific surgery Brett needed. “The sugerbaker procedure” the Surgeon at OHSU told us she had only done 8 paitents during the course of her practice, all of whom were over the age of 65… Half of which died on the table. She looked me in the eyes and said “this is a VERY morbid procedure” I respond with “but… I’m 25weeks pregnant” she was clearly not the surgeon for us.
The surgeon in Spokane had done over 400+surgeries over 25 years… So naturally we picked him.
I remember being is a daze… How can all of this be happening when we aren’t even 30 yet.
March . 26. 2017
My husband is in the last few days of his life. My wonderful, kind, caring and encredable husband. The one who we hoped would be the 1% to make it to the 2 year mark after being diagnosed but deep in my heart I knew better. I’ve seen what cancer does to people and what it can do to a family and deep down in my dear I’ve known what’s coming for me for awhile now. There’s something about this kind of fear that can only be seen in your head… No one knows the dynamics of all of your relationships like you do. I am the only one who knows the weight of what I have to loose. People think they understand because they imagine what their fears would be like if they were me….
But the fact is they don’t know what it’s like… Mostly because I haven’t let the words come out of my mouth yet. They tell me that they “get it” or “I can’t imagine!” But the common response I feel like I see is the emotions building up inside them, till I know they can’t take it any longer and I can sense a lecture coming on. A lecture about how everyone is doing their best and how everyone loves me and how “they”aren’t going to let me fail or fall….. It’s more of a pep talk really…I’ve just heard to so many times I’m exhausted… And it’s become a lecture. It has become a conversation I am forced to endure… Forced to listen to… Forced to respond “correctly” or I’ll
open another “pep” talk because people can’t handle The Hard without an answer, solution, or some kind of something to feel like something is being done about it. That’s one of the worst parts about all of this, there is nothing ANYONE can do except sit in The Hard with me, next to me, shouldering the burden.