Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Slacking off on writing

There are two reasons this happens. First, there is simply too much else going on. Second, you might actually be feeling OK. My lapse in the blogging that has brought me so much comfort has been a combination of both. On one hand, I have taken some time off of work to dig myself out of this overwhelming hole I’ve found myself between dealing with the necessary evils of losing a partner and also of losing yet another loved one. On the other, I’ve been able to pamper myself a bit.

Over the past week I have sorted through and boxed all of Jon’s clothes save for a few I’ve kept for myself – t-shirts to sleep in when I need to, they replaced my own sleep shirts, his kilt, the shirt he was wearing the day we first started dating, some of his dress shirts that look quite good over a maxi dress and, of course, his kilt. I’ve cleaned my refrigerator only to realize I really need to go grocery shopping. I’ve started cleaning my room up from the mess he made it with his pack rat tendencies. I’ve reconnected with a few friends, some with more success than others. I’ve gotten a pedicure, a manicure and gone shopping which is obviously the best therapy. I’ve laughed with my kids. I’ve had dinner with friends. I’ve slept in almost every day by going back to bed after the kids have been taken to school. I spoke in a college class to rave reviews. All in all, I’ve felt pretty good about myself.

But despite the seemingly increasing number of good days and growing periods of time in between “meltdowns” I still find this black hole of emptiness in my life left. First of all, Jon is still not here and I’d really like for him to be. I wake in the middle of the night sometimes and for a split second, I think he’s there lying in bed with me. Every once and a while I come home and see his car and get excited only to remember, the car hasn’t moved much over the past month and half.

I was cleaning today and stumbled across a grocery bag filled with clothes. Upon closer investigation I realized it was the bag our best friends had frantically packed the morning he died after I climbed into the ambulance with him hoping for a miracle. I went through it piece by piece. There were two outfits each for Jon and I. Pants, shirts, underwear, all of the comfortable, hospital friendly persuasion. I took note of the fact that even at 2 in the morning, our friends were mindful to grab the right things. Then I got to the bottom of the bag and found Jon’s medicines. None of this made me cry, just think. I added Jon’s clothes to a box of items to donate. I put mine away. I tossed his underwear and a shirt with a hole in it into a basket full of his clothes that couldn’t be donated. But I looked at the meds inquisitively. What in the hell do I do with them? I can’t just throw them away, that’s a no-no right? So I just put them back in the medicine cabinet and haven’t given it much thought since.

A couple of days ago I found his ponytail. When he was getting ready for his interview with the job he had recently earned, the one that made him feel so full of pride and contentment, he decided that his best chance of getting the position was to lop off his mass of hair the girls and I so dearly loved. That hair defined him. The Jew Fro we called it. Once, while he was growing it out, I braided it into corn rows. When my middle daughter came out and saw it, she literally burst into tears. “No!!!!!” she shouted. “Jon-Jon, I hate you, put back your puffy hair!” Of course, we very quickly undid the damage and revealed that the fro was still, in fact, there. Prior to that dramatic bathroom haircut that required me making a late night trip to CVS for clippers to finish the job, Jon walked around with a hair band constantly on his wrist. He used as much shampoo and conditioner as me. You could hear the brush struggling to make its way through his hair from across the room. I have a video of the haircut and all you can hear is my saying, “Oh, no, Babe!!!!” And now that little three inch ponytail of curly golden brown hair is all I have left of his physical being. But even that didn’t make me cry.

I know I miss him. I certainly know I love him every bit as much as I did the day he died. But I don’t cry anymore. And I don’t think about it as much. And I find myself actually wanting to move on. And I know that would make him glad.

So that brings me to the other dilemma.

I have this severely handicapped ability to maintain any sort of social life.
I’ll start with our best friends. I love them and they love me. They want to help. And they do. But they are this giant connection to Jon second only to our girls. As much as I love being around them, it hurts. It’s not the same. We were coupled up and now we’re a trio. I thought that would be ok, and for the most part it is, but it just isn’t the same. Jon was the glue that held us all together. Now things that I used to find endearing, I just get bothered by. Not because they bother me, but because I don’t have him to turn to and be like, “see!” I can’t joke about our quirks. And they’re so happy and I’m so happy for them, but I’m jealous. They had more going for them, from a financial perspective, than we did, but that never made me jealous. Now I’m wracked with it. So, I’ve decided that, even though they will always be the most important friends in my life, I need to have people who aren’t a constant reminder of Jon to spend time with when I can’t handle it or just need a break. But in doing that, I’ve realized that it’s a full time fucking job.

Before Jon, my girls’ father lived here. I had two nights a week and every other Saturday when they spent the night with him. Those were mommy’s nights. I scheduled my social life around them and there were few times when I needed to arrange a babysitter. Even if a social event was happening on a night when I was on mom duty, I lived in a neighborhood where I could just ship them off to the neighbor’s until I got home. But now, oh no. That is most definitely not the situation. Their father lives out of state. My mother, several hours away.  My father works crazy hours and has never really had to be solely responsible for them for more than 15 minutes at a time. My friends offer, but their lives are full and hectic. My sister wants to help when she can. It turns into a three ring circus of text messages trying to figure out who I will inconvenience the most by getting away for just a couple of hours. And, not that I need to stay out until late, but before Jon they were gone until the next evening. So, I could if I wanted. Now I’m constantly watching the clock thinking, “gosh, I don’t want to be a bother.” And they would say not to worry about it, have a good time. But what kind of mom would not worry?

So, let’s say I want to date. Who in their right mind would want a part of that? I’m 30-years-old with three children. If that weren’t enough baggage, I now have this Scarlett Letter silently announcing I’m a widow. I am damaged goods. No matter how hard I try, I feel like I will always be in a situation where people look at me with pity or think, “yeah, I’ll pass on the instant family.”

Jon didn’t. When we first started dating, he didn’t know what he thought about that situation. We had a lengthy discussion about how he felt about the fact that I had not one, not two, but three children. He answered quite honestly that he had no idea whether he could handle it. The confession terrified me. Would I lose this amazing man because he may eventually realize it was too much? His parents even cautioned him. But I had no choice but to take that chance. At first he maintained a very distant part of their lives. He started out “mommy’s friend.” Then he was mommy’s boyfriend who was just kind of there. But eventually, he fell as in love with them as he was with me and slowly but surely he became a partner in parenting. By last summer he took on the role of disciplinarian – to the point it sometimes made me mad. We had many an argument about him being too hard on them. But we split everything fifty-fifty. Their father had moved out of state and raising them was our primary job. Jon never, ever assumed he was more important than their father and we were careful to involve both my ex-husband and their step-mother in important decisions and even if we didn’t all agree, we were all a part of the decision-making process. I try to think of Jon’s progression through that process with hope; that there is a person compatible with me out there who will be able to assume this very important role the way he did. But it seems so hopeless now because the beginning of any new relationship I have won’t be the same as it was with Jon and I. We had those alone days to build our relationship. Now it is all I can do to steal away for an hour. How does a single mother of a 12, 10 and 6 year old overcome that in addition to the eventual admission that I am a widow who will always love her husband and you’re just going to have to understand that?

I know that the day Jon died my heart got bigger. Because it is completely impossible to remove him from my heart, it just made room for someone else too. I don’t know who that person will be and I’m not really looking for someone to fill the position, but it makes me terribly uneasy to think of the inevitable rejection I’ll get when people realize that I, one, have three kids and two, will always love someone else. The only thing that gives me comfort is the fact that whoever that ends up being is going to have to be one hell of a man. I’m not a religious person, but I’d like to think that maybe Jon, having been so adamant that I move on with my life, is maybe pointing me in the right direction. But for right now, all I want is to be able to have at least one night a week to just get out into the world and remind myself that there is a world outside of mom. I got that tonight and I am thankful to my bestest buds in the whole world for giving it to me. I love you guys, you know who you are.