Nov 12, 2009

Single Parent should be an oxymoron

sin·gle par·ent (noun) Definition: Somebody who raises child alone: a parent who brings up a child or children alone, usually because he or she is unmarried, widowed, or divorced.

I never wanted to be a single parent. I had thought how awful it would be as a single parent when Mindy and I were going through rough patches. All my thoughts then focused on only being able to see my children on designated days, effectively letting the courts control my family life. The life I live now wasn’t the picture I had painted in my head during those times either; in many ways it’s worse.

In a conversation with my Teen one night I asked her about her mother. She said she thinks about her a lot. She misses her. These were the most forthright and honest answers she’s given me in a long while. She said “I wonder if it would be different with her here?”. That one I can handle; yes it would be. It most definitely would be. Maybe it’s because I’m still relatively new to all of this, or that I’m just not ready, but being a single parent is very hard. I’m out numbered to start with and then toss in that Mindy was a stay at home mom…I’ve got a long way to go.

I also find that I’m a little paranoid now that I’m the one solely responsible. Every little change in their behavior sounds an alarm in my head. My Teen loves to spend time alone. Sometimes reading or drawing but just off by herself in her room. Lately she’s been clinging to me a lot more. This week I’ve had an especially rough time. I’ve had to work quite a bit, some straight through the night and into the next day. I went to bed early Tuesday night, exhausted from being up for 40+ hrs. I fell asleep fast and hard at about 8:30p and it was just me in my big lonely bed. I awoke at about 3:15a to find little princess’ crying and my Sugarbear snoring to my left. I rolled over to find a set of elbows from my Teen near my head to the right. I was surrounded! My Princess woke up and couldn’t find her blanket, therefore a full on disaster plan was initiated to wake Dad and find said blanket; which was located under her pillow. I ended up with all three of them crowding me in what previously seemed like a big bed.

The next night I was still exhausted having not really gotten much rest and still putting out fires at work (figuratively). I sent the kids to bed a little earlier hoping I could catch a few more Z’s after I finished working and before the sun jumped back over the horizon. My Teen showed up again wanting to crash in my room. She never does this, not unless she’s sick. So I prodded her a bit about how she felt and why her room wasn’t making the grade, but as with everything else I ask her there was no real answer. She fell asleep in a matter of minutes while I worked. The clacking of the keyboard and the glow of my laptop didn’t seem to bother her at all. Here is where the paranoia set in. If she’s not sick, and this is not her usual behavior then what’s going on with her? Maybe nothing, maybe she just needs to feel extra protected; only time will tell. I wish Mindy was here to handle this stuff; single parenting is no walk in the park. The little ones do this all the time, mostly because they don’t want to go to bed, but not my Teen.

I don’t get much sleep anymore anyway; but with all the “All Nighter” for work in addition to my regular schedule, and the kids waking me up it’s really catching up with me. My house is a disaster, we’ve eaten out all week, and I feel like the kids aren’t getting the attention they need. This time of year doesn’t make it any easier. Things are not going to slow down any for a couple of months at least. There are birthdays, holidays, extracurricular events all right around the corner. So the definition may state that a single parent is a noun, a title bestowed upon someone, but I believe it should be an oxymoron. Maybe the lack of sleep is just making me into a moron?!?

Oct 16, 2009

It's lonely in this crowd

There isn't really a positive way to release anger, that I've found. I feel like I'm barely holding on to any resemblance to a normal life. I'm drowning in homework, projects, fund raisers, etc. since school started back up for the kids. I'm being ignored by my insurance company to make repairs to my home. The biggest thing is I'm tired of coming home to an empty house. I guess that is the new normal, but it's not the normal I want; just the one I'm reluctant, but required, to accept.

The kids are wonderful, but I miss my best friend. I'm tired of watching TV alone; laughing alone at the idiot box. I hate that I have to drive everywhere; there isn't anyone else to run to the store for milk, or take the kids to gymnastics everyonce in a while. I hate going to bed alone; not having anyone to hold. Although, not waking up several times a night to lound, train like snoring isn't horrible. I despise seing couples out enjoying a life like I once had. Really I just despise that I no longer have that life and they are just the reminder.

I want a pause button for life. Everything is racing by so fast and I feel like I barely have time to react or make a decision. There are many people worse off than I am, and I try to be content with where I am. But it's hard to live it everyday in comparison to how it was, or how it should be. I want what I can't old life back. The life that I once thought was so stressful and filled with unecessary burdens.

Sep 29, 2009

She was better than me

Two weeks ago, as noted in an earlier post, my roof began leaking in two different rather large areas. I called my insurance company and got the ball rolling. Since then everything has come to a screeching halt. The insurance company sent out their “preferred vendor” the day I made the claim yet I still do not have a written estimate from them. I called five other roofing companies for estimates. Only one company has made it out so far and given me an estimate. I’m sitting here making phone calls, getting the run around, and worrying about the rain that is in the forecast for later this week.

The insurance company hasn’t received any estimates from me or the vendor yet, and is already telling me what they won’t cover….great! I’m trying really hard to be patient because I have a feeling that this is going to be a several week long up hill battle with them, but I really wish Mindy was here to help with all of this. She was so good at cutting through all the crap on things like this and getting stuff done. Partly because she was a stay at home mom and had a little more flexible schedule to work with these people, but mostly because she just didn’t take crap from anyone.

As I was writing this I was interrupted by a phone call from my insurance company. They wanted to know if I was happy with the repairs. WHAT REPAIRS!! Nothing has been done! So I channeled my “Mindy like” assertion towards the poor sap on the other end of the phone. In the end all he could do was “note my account”, so I’ll be placing another call to my agent.

Mindy and I both worked in a call center when we first met. We were both painfully familiar with the customer service side of things. I caught a few good breaks and moved into IT where my real passion lied. She worked various forms of customer service for several different companies over the years before becoming a stay at home mom. I guess the additional years arguing with people over bills, collection letters, service agreements, etc. just made her more rigid when it comes to these things. She was just flat out better than me at getting people to do what she wanted, how she wanted. She was unwavering and tenacious, and as much as I try; as much as I say I’ll do the same thing…I’m just not her. I’m not that good at it. I wear down more easily and become frustrated. I can nearly hear her now, lecturing on the strength of a woman needed to get the job done. She wouldn’t actually do the work mind you; just tell you the womanly strength needed to do it (read: delegation and supervision). In marriage you get used to leaning on your spouse to fill gaps; to do well what you don’t. I just got comfortable with her being the assertive, tenacious project manger when it came to things like this. I do a lot of things well and I’ve improved on quite a bit now that I’m the only one calling the shots (or so I like to think), but it’s just another reminder that I’m just half of a couple.

Sep 21, 2009

Conversations in the car

We had another group night at the WARM Place last Thursday night and for the most part everything went normally. On the way across the parking lot to the car my little Princess said she missed “…Momma’s driving.”. Really? How do you miss someone’s driving, I thought. Then quickly as we drove away all three of them started chatting over one another and they all honed in on the same story…coincidence maybe. They all started to tell me about her taking them to church the Sunday before she died. That morning I was at a motorcycle safety course and we had debated about whether she would take the kids to church or not. She didn’t want to go…I felt that they should. When I left for my class that morning I understood that they weren’t going.

At some point after I left she decided that they would go to church and thus spawns the story my children talked over each other to tell me. It seems (and this is so very much like Mindy) that she missed her exit off the highway, twice, and then got lost going to church…where she had been many, many times before. With her lack of direction she reportedly ran over a curb, twice, and almost took out a traffic sign. But since Mindy always left early for everything even after getting lost and driving around for a while they still ended up at the church on time.

I wish I had some way of recording these conversations when the kids spontaneously remember things that happened about their mother. The best I have is to jot it down after the fact, or some times to put it here as a post. But the joy that came across their faces as they took turns adding to the story, reminding each other how the morning drive played out, was priceless. Mindy and I were not big on taking home videos, we have the birth of the kids and a few scattered videos here and there, but we aren’t in many of them. It’s mostly the kids in the videos. I wish I had more video with her voice, her smile, her personality to show to them as they get older but there are only a few. It was nice to hear them tell such vivid details about that drive to church as if it were on a video they had just watched. They remembered it so clearly.

These drives home from the WARM Place seem to make for more of these conversations than most any other time, but they spring up all the time. I hurts to miss her. It really hurts to know that the kids miss her, but it’s relieving to know that they still find joy in our ‘life of before’. It makes the heartbreak tolerable, if only for a moment, to know that she had a profound impact on the lives of each of my little kiddos in the short time they spent with her. My Princess had recently turned 5 years old when we lost Mindy, but she can still tell me little details about how she looked, things she said, faces she would make. The Teen remembers more than she tells, but I see her mother in her more and more each day. She is growing into such a thoughtful young woman (sometimes, then she’s still a selfish teenager too!) and surprises me more and more lately with how mature she can be. We could’ve been so happy together for so much longer, all five of us. I just imagine that Mindy is eavesdropping and smiling…not at the content, but of the context. She certainly wouldn’t find this little story funny, but we sure did.

Sep 16, 2009

In good times and bad

It’s been a long string of days running together since I last had the time or the energy to post anything. Some times I think the most appropriate post would just be me screaming until my lungs give out. Life has been so frustrating the last two weeks. It is maddening to find the frustration at both ends of the spectrum…intertwined in my life at every turn. It just reinforces that grief is not a phase that you work through. It’s a journey that changes your life forever.

I was invited to go out with some friends and make a big night of it a couple of weeks back, and I had a great time. We had a relaxing dinner and then we headed off to Pete’s; a place I hadn’t been before. The hours we spent there flew by like minutes. I ran into a couple of old friends and that always makes my day better, but when I finally got back home it all sank. I had such a wonderful time and I wanted to share it with her. I laid in bed waiting for the sun to come up thinking of all the reasons why I didn’t do more with the time we had together. Why did we let such trivial things become so important. We believed in each other so much, we always found a way to see the good in each other; past what everyone else saw (or so I’d like to think), and I always thought that someone with such fervor for life would live more of it.

Fast forward to the next weekend and it seems nearly a polar opposite. Drenching rain storms covered the area for days on end, a rarity this time of year in TX. The kids’ allergies were acting up. I felt like I was getting sick. The roof is now leaking in a couple of places. I had car trouble Monday morning with three vehicles in tandem. It was just one tedious, frustrating issue after another and I just wanted someone to help. I wanted her to help. I wanted to be able to lean on her and she lean on me and we just knock out these problems one after another. But it was just me…standing in the rain down the street from my house (‘cause I tried to pop the clutch on my truck to get it to start and it didn’t) feeling pathetic and beat down. My procrastination cause some of my Monday morning crap storm and I was angry at myself for getting in this position and at Mindy for not being there.

The car had a flat so I aired up the tire and drove the mile down the street to get it fixed. It was already flat again when I arrived. I just asked them to fix the flat and rotate the tires. The guy behind the counter picked the wrong person to be smart with that morning and became pretty agreeable after I released a little tension at his expense. He made some comment about why I shouldn’t rotate my tires the way I wanted and normally I would’ve just shrugged it off. This time I decided I should remind him that they are my tires on my car and he would do well to keep to his opinions to himself, except not in so many words.

While I waited for the tire to be fixed I called the insurance company to take care of my leaky roof and tow my van to the shop. I was making good progress, but I just needed someone to help me. Not because I couldn’t do it, although at the time it sure felt that way, but because I just needed to know I wasn’t on my own; so I called in the reinforcements. My grandfather came over and we hung out in the rain trying to work on my flaky, undependable, old truck. Well, he worked; I stood in the rain handing him tools. All the while we waited for the tow service which showed up almost 3hrs late. In retrospect I wish I had done a few things differently, and that is really my point in all of this. Grief becomes so disruptive that I find myself overwhelmed with things that can typically be remedied fairly quickly. Really, I forget that God is bigger than my problems…bigger than my grief.

Whether it’s after a great time out with friends or in the middle of a emotional avalanche there just seems to be no escape. In good times and bad she was truly my other half, and it feels like only half of a life with out her here.

Sep 4, 2009

The Mask I Wear

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks-
masks that I'm afraid to take off
and none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me
But don't be fooled, for God's sake, don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name
and coolness my game,
that the water's calm
and I'm in command,
and that I need no one.
But don't believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask,
My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
But I hide this.
I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weaknesses
and fear exposing them.
That's why I frantically create my masks to hide behind.

But I don't tell you this.
I don't dare.
I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh
and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing, that I'm just no good
and you will see this
and reject me.

I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's nothing
and nothing of what's everything, of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying
Please listen carefully and try to hear
what I'm not saying
Hear what I'd like to say
but what I can not say.

It will not be easy for you,
long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.
The nearer you approach me
the blinder I may strike back.
Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.
you wonder who I am
you shouldn't
for I am everyman
and everywoman
who wears a mask.
Don't be fooled by me.
At least not by the face I wear.
--Author unknown

Sep 1, 2009

The important and the eternal

Some things are important and temporal, others important and eternal...

I want to take a brief break from my usual posts to inform you of something I think is very important. I usually don't use this platform for things outside of my family and our travels through grief, but this time I feel I need to make an exception. Please take a moment to watch the video if you are not familiar with Scott Wilder or the Bible League and the efforts to send bibles around the world.

($4 sends one Bible…$100 sends 25 Bibles…more sends more!) For a very limited time, we have a dollar for dollar match, so whatever you do will be doubled (which means we want to do even more!).

When you call 1-800-YES-WORD, it is very important that you mention ‘Scott Wilder’ so we can include you as part of our total and so that you can be sure any local matching amount is applied to your donation. When you call 1-800-YES-WORD make sure you mention ‘Scott Wilder’ or use this donation link to do so online.

I would ask that if you can not help out with a donation to please take a moment and pray for those that will be delivering these bibles; it can be a dangerous task. A founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Bible League International is a 501 (c)(3).

Thank you, and now back to your regularly scheduled bemoaning and grieving.

Aug 31, 2009

Promotion to grades 1, 2, and 8.

In the past two weeks a lot has been going on at our house. The kids have been in full swing with their extracurricular activities and we went back to school shopping; I do not like shopping. Then last week the 2009-10 school year began. It’s been really nice having the kids home with me every evening again instead of the hit and miss each week we tried out during the summer. We won’t be doing that again next summer; at least not to that drastic of an extent. It was too hard for me. I felt like a divorcee Dad who only gets to see his kids on particular weekends and various holidays.

Dealing with grief is nothing like I imagined before August 6, 2008. It’s not something that you get over. It’s not something that just passes by. It’s an event that happens, like your own personal Pearl Harbor or 9/11. It redefines your life and, much like these National tragedies, it takes a while to recoup and reorganize into something that resembles a normal life. I do mean resembles as it’s only the outward perception that you display that ever resembles anything normal. Losing Mindy has given me new perspectives on relationships, marital and otherwise. Her effect on my life in the short decade we had together has forever changed me, and for the better. I think I’m a more attentive father compared to my ‘life of before’. Sometimes this attentiveness appears as over protection when it comes to my children, but so be it. As far as I’m concerned my children have endured enough to last well into adulthood, if not all of their lives. I’m certain they will have more pain as they grow we all do, but if life were fair they could skip over the rest of it and just enjoy the everyday miracles in life. I spent my 31st birthday ‘back to school’ shopping with my kids (because the middle school students don’t get supply list until after school starts and everything is sold out!) thinking how much fun Mindy had picking them out backpacks and pencil boxes.

The week school started my Princess got her first pair of glasses. Now she doesn’t squint to read and watch television. She’s a little behind in her reading because she had such a difficult time seeing, but she’s a brilliant little girl so we’ll more than make up for it very quickly. She loves her new glasses. She picked out some High School Musical themed frames and couldn’t wait to show them off at school. I’m glad she’s excited about it, I don’t know if I would’ve had the energy to fight her over it like my parents had to with me when I was young.

At the end of the previous school year I sent off several letters to various school administrators and did not get a reply back from any of them. I at least expected an acknowledgement of the letter, but there was nothing. So this year I expected to again have issues and I was pleasantly surprised that I have had none so far. They put my Princess in class with Sugarbear’s teacher from last year as I requested (Yeah Mrs. H!). My Teen got an acceptable schedule, which was turned in late by me instead of on time by her, with the majority of the classes she wanted. I assume by compliance of those two requests that the other letters were at least read by someone in the school district. It looks to be a promising year even though I’ve heard horror stories already from other parents in our district. To be fair I must say that I’ve only had an issue with one teacher at the middle school level. The other teachers have been great for my kids, it’s the administration that frays the last remaining threads of my sanity. It’s pretty apparent that I’m not the only parent with that experience in this district.

My Teen has shown some remarkable growth in the past few months. She even made dinner one night last week without any prompting from me, and it wasn’t just spaghetti or some frozen dinners. She made roasted chicken and it was really good. She has on a couple of occasions taken it upon herself to do some laundry and as much as I sternly remind her of areas that need a little work I also remind her that she is a wonderful young lady. I think some of what I’m saying might been sinking in…just a little bit. Only time will tell but I’ve been impressed with how they have all dealt with the crazy schedules and non existent routine this summer. It looks like a promising start to the year. I just wish Mindy were here to see what a wonderful little personalities our kids are growing into.

Aug 13, 2009

Happy birthday, my love

Yesterday was a bit hectic but I managed to squeeze in the things that I think are important. Yesterday Mindy would have been 35 years old. I would have been giving her a hard time I’m sure. She like to tease me early on about how much younger I was than her (only 4 years) and I told her then it would come back around to her. As we got older, the 4 years seemed less and less of a gap. But as I’ve mentioned before,  it was always a good tease in August as our birthdays are two weeks apart; hers before mine.

One night a few weeks ago I locked myself out of my house; there’s a whole story to that but I mention it only to say that I eventually broke out a window in our dining room to get back in. Yesterday morning the glass repair man came with my new window and the kids were entertained for about 45 minutes while they watched him replace the panes. Once he was done I checked the first thing off our list of ‘To Do’s’ for the day. We ran a few errands and got back home for lunch and I started baking Mindy’s birthday cake. It was a pathetic…very home made cake but it tasted good.


Last year Aunt Jen brought us the cake and we all sang “Happy Birthday” around the table. I thought it was simple and memorable; just the kind of thing I could repeat year after year to help the kids remember her. Mindy didn’t like many cakes, especially chocolate. Last year we had a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing so to keep things simple we did so again. When I was done preparing the cake I got all the kids to reluctantly sing “Happy Birthday” with me. This year feels much different from last but, to me, the important thing is that we have a repeatable way to acknowledge it all. Something the kids will come to expect.

We all went out to the grave site and I asked the kids if they wanted to go with me to her stone. None of them cared to go so they happily sat in the car with the cold A/C blowing and the radio on while I took a few minutes to spend with her. I’ve been out to see Mindy at least once a month for the past year; mostly by myself. This time was different. I can’t really explain why it was different; it just felt more empty. I didn’t get the release I had before after spending a little time there. Maybe it was because we were rushing through the day. Whatever the reason it definitely felt different. I hopped back in the car and we were off to Mindy’s parent’s house.

My sisters in law were there and the kids got to play more with their cousins. I wish I had more time to really visit but this week has been a mad dash from one place to another and my head has been spinning. I wish there were a few more hours in the day to get all our stuff done. We spent a few hours with them and then it was a dash back to the other side of town. So far this week my plans to ease the kids back into a schedule more convenient for the upcoming school year isn’t working. But we made time for family, and we continued to remember Mindy. That was the important part.

Aug 10, 2009

What comes down must bounce

This is going to be a busy week for the kids and for me, the chauffeur. We have places to be (after my 9-5 of course) every night with three events on Saturday. It’s the weeks like these that I really get upset that I am now a single parent against my will. Now, I’m the one who scheduled all these events (or negotiated the scheduling) for us but they needed to be done before school starts which doesn’t allow for much time. I continue to have quite a lot of help from family but it’s not the seamless transfer of duty like you have in a two parent home.

The kids are with N&P this week while I’m at the office and as I left from there last night, after the kids were in bed, I just felt overwhelmed. It didn’t help that I was rushed that morning and didn’t get everything done. I had procrastinated the night before so I have myself to blame and the Teen didn’t pack everything she needed; this isn’t the first time she’s failed to do so. All in all it was just a bunch of little things that added up. Little things that in my ‘life of before’ I could’ve split up between Mindy and I; together we could’ve had covered it all. Little things that individually are no big deal, and collectively are still manageable, but I can’t always delegate, or be the delegate, like before.

The more overwhelming things seem to be the more I say out loud what I should do. It’s sort of a way to let myself know that I understand what to do; it’s just the ‘getting it done’ piece of the puzzle that is hard to fit in. I was on my way home last night and my mind was racing. Planning this and that; trying to work out a tentative schedule for the next few weeks. By the time I got home I was asking out loud what should be next, and for a split second I fully expected Mindy to answer. For a split second I thought she would be there to help carry the load. I caught myself falling into that old routine. I caught myself living in a past that will never again be my life. It only took that split second to light the fuse.

Whatever bits and pieces I had worked out in my head up to that point have all been lost. I spent the rest of the evening staring at piles of her stuff that have been in the same place for nearly a year. Looking over pictures still not in frames, the kitchen she started painting…still not painted. The life we had yet to finish planning for will, forever, stay unfinished. It’s not often that my thoughts devolve so quickly or so thoroughly as to bring up this mix of intense anger and debilitating sadness; but there I sat. Just passed the lonely anniversary of her death and preparing for her birthday to burst onto the scene as yet another stark reminder. I eventually turned out the lights and sat in the dark still staring at all the items on her bedside table. Most of them have been there for well over a year. If not for the cleaning service they would be covered in a good bit of dust.

It’s maddening to feel so alone while surrounded by so many helpful people. It feels so hopeless at times to think that I will most likely have to continue raising our children as a single widower father. It’s such a struggle to be a single parent, but honestly, I couldn’t imagine letting anyone else get near my kids. I couldn’t imagine letting anyone else get close enough to me to ever be close to them. But that’s fodder for another post.

Maybe I’m just wallowing in the grief as I refuse to acknowledge its presence this week; and last week as well. I want to be strong and independent. I want to be able to tackle anything that stands in my way, grief included. But the like so many things in life, the more I try to tighten my grip and keep control the faster things slip through my fingers. Knowing in your head is one thing; convincing your heart to follow along is another thing entirely. I can’t let go. I don’t want to let go.

sand-from-handSome days I have a relaxing peace that everything is as it should be. My beautiful wife isn’t here hurting and confined to this life; she has been released. But I still selfishly want her here, and the more I wish she was here the faster that peace flees. With school around the corner I see the vicious, endless circle of my routine clearly. To avoid the grief I become so busy I have no time to find myself enveloped like this then the fast pace wears me down and I get frustrated that I can’t do it all. Once I’m worn sufficiently I slow down to rest and recoup; only to be swallowed by grief again. To escape the grief I look fill my schedule and we ride around this track once again.

I allowed myself the remainder of the night to wallow. Today, I refuse it. Today is a new day; a new week. I granted myself the wallowing since a year ago that day we were at the funeral. A year ago my baby girl release a balloon for Momma’s “party in the sky”. I’ll start that uphill climb once again and keep hoping that when I fall back to the bottom no one will see. As things continue to slip through my fingers I still wear that mask that says I’m okay. The mask blurs the beginning and the end of each trip around the circle. Blurs the black and white into a mundane grey; a shallow grey that hides all the fear and frustration just under the surface.

That’s what most of the world is comfortable seeing, and that’s what most are comfortable showing.

Aug 6, 2009

August 6th

The real anniversary wasn’t as much of a punch to the gut as the Wednesday of this week. Partly because I didn’t stay at home, partly because I kept busy with other distractions, and partly because it was a Thursday. I spent the night over at N&P’s, which is always and enjoyable time. The kids are still with cousins in Houston. I called them yesterday to see how they were doing. They were having too much fun to spend time with me on the phone which was a great relief to me. I was going to ask my sisters in-law how they were doing today, 365 days later, but they too were busy. That was also a relief to me.

I spent the morning getting some minor house repairs in order and doing a little cleaning. I told my boss earlier in the week that I would be pulling my widower card (nod to Supa for that) and not coming in today; mostly cause I didn’t know how I would handle this anniversary. All in all it was a fairly normal day. All the mourning, grieving, and crying was mostly done yesterday…alone as usual. I hate to cry in front of other people. I guess maybe I should’ve taken yesterday off instead.

Mindy always wanted us to get tattoos for each other; I always turned her down. I wasn’t necessarily against the idea, but for me since it’s a (mostly) permanent marker it should signify something you want to always remember. I never, in my worst nightmare, thought that I’d want anything to remind me of her…I shouldn’t need reminding. She should always be with me, or so I thought it would go. Now I grasp at anything that will help me remember things about her. I have my posts here, I jot down little notes, and I have keepsakes and photos all to help me keep her close. But today, 365 days later, I got a memorial tattoo for Mindy; well really for me. It’s a cross with angels wings. There are three roses at the bottom, one for each of our children and the banner states ‘1 THESS 4:13’ a verse that has meant more to me in the last year than any other.


It still doesn’t seem as though it has been a year. I can still remember her smile, her soft skin, her laugh. I can still hear her call my name from across the house. When I put something off I can imagine her nagging at me to do it now rather than later. I can still imagine what life would be like if she were still here, and it seems like she was with me not so long ago. Her birthday is in 6 more days. She would’ve been 35 this year.

One year down…a lifetime to go.

Aug 5, 2009

Life…52 weeks later

I woke up this morning and immediately thought of Mindy. I didn’t think that the full weight of it all would hit me until tomorrow…that is, after all, the ‘real’ anniversary. But today is Wednesday. Wednesday was the day 52 weeks ago when I lost my best friend. This morning the full weight of that hit me just as it did that morning.

I hopped into the shower to get ready for work, the same as I did that morning 52 weeks ago. But this time the house was quiet. No sleeping children; no snoring spouse. I grabbed my blackberry and as I put it on my belt I recalled that I could’ve made that call to 911 on my cell phone that morning…but I called from the land line. I walked through the living room purposely avoiding the space where I found her laying on the floor (I’ve moved the furniture to help with that) and walked out the front door.

Today is not as bad as that day was. Today is not the day I had to perform CPR on my wife to no avail. Today is not the day I had to tell my children that their mother would never come home. But today is up there near the top of the list. There are other days that I lost it; days that I am glad I was alone so no one could see me ball my eyes out like a little kid, but today marks a bittersweet milestone. We made it a whole year and we’re still in one piece. A whole year has passed and we’ve kept each other from completely falling apart. It makes me smile to know I have such great kids, and so sad to know Mindy won’t be there to praise them as they achieve great things in their lives.

As I wrote this, I received a card from my co-workers. I didn’t think they would remember what day it was…I was wrong. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to lean on. I couldn’t have made it through a whole year on my own. I’m still a basket case some days but everyday I get a little stronger. Everyday it gets a little easier to know that I’ve made it one more day without her. My children have survived one more day in my care with only memories of their mother’s love.

I still sleep with pillows in the middle of the bed, so it feels like she’s there…but I’m sleeping; a little more here and there. I still see things that I know she would find funny; I tell her…in my head. I still get mad when the kids are tired and whining that she’s not here to help…but I’m blessed that they still remember so much about her.

I’m still heartbroken….but we are doing well.

Aug 4, 2009

One in infinity

This week is off to a horrible start. The fact that this week would be crappy was pretty much a given, but it’s not what I expected.

In my dreams she’s right there…standing just in front of me and we’re having a conversation about insignificant things. I notice the way she looks at me and just when I realize how wonderful it is to be with her again, I’m awake. Now I stare across a dark empty room. I can be still and quiet, or wander about the house aimlessly…

There is no one calling me back to bed.

There is no one complaining that I fell asleep with the TV on, again.

There is no one sliding their foot next to mine under the covers just to be in contact as we sleep.

There is no one waking me because my snoring is waking them.

When I want to talk…when I want to scream…when I want someone to understand what I feel with just a look…

There is no one.

Not one like her any where in the world.

Jul 31, 2009

What to do next?

I have read and participated somewhat in a widow/er group in Facebook. One of the topics I was interested in was concerning how long people find it appropriate to continue wearing their wedding rings.  I know how many have done so, such as Matt and 3SF, from their blogs and it helped give me a little perspective but it hasn’t really helped me make up my mind. 3SF said his promotion from his left to right hand was more or less planned, and until I read his account just the other night I too had a plan of sorts. But the more I ponder how long is long enough…how long is too long…the less I feel I’m ready.

The issue for me is that on most days I feel like a single father of three, first and foremost. There are a few days, randomly selected by this brooding monster of grief, that I feel primarily the widower of my beautiful late wife. On the more frequent days, when life is a normal as we can now expect it to be, I could handle removing the ring or moving it from my left to right hand. Even though those more normal days are the more frequent days, they lesser and more selective grieving days are still more powerful. I still feel an enormous amount of guilt that for all accounts I can’t explain  can’t understand can’t get passed. I don’t carry a burden of guilt because she is dead, but because I could’ve been a better partner when she was sharing her life with me. This guilt seems ridiculous to carry around on most days; it’s the fewer, more potent, days that really make the difference.

On those days the past is more important to me; not dwelling in it as if I could change something. More a remembrance of it to relive the details for my children. On those fewer days I couldn’t imagine taking this ring off my left hand for any amount of time. I feel there’s some mosaic shade of hypocrisy in that I berate the State agents for not acknowledging that I’m no longer married and yet I can’t remove this ring because I still feel, at times, very much married.

Now, as I write this, I’ve become aware that in the past week or so those fewer days have been not so few. The guilt a little heavier of a burden with which I wish I could part ways. I think of my children and wonder if they even care that I wear this ring. Not that I wear it for them, but that I’m consumed with how they will react with every little decision I make. Do they understand what the ring represents? When my parents were divorced I kept my father’s wedding ring for a very long time (I haven’t a clue where it is today) because I understood what it represented and, as most children of divorce do, I held out hope that he would need the ring again one day if they decided to reconcile. That day did not and will not come, but I understood then what the ring symbolized. Now as a widower the symbolism is more than ‘till death do us part’. Now the ring means “I remember our life together”, it means “I still love you”, and it means “You are always apart of me”.

As I approach the first anniversary of Mindy’s death…the first anniversary of the end of our ‘life of before’, which was the date I thought I could remove the ring, I find that I am undoubtedly not ready to relieve myself of this reminder. I still need to feel it around my finger; to be able to twist it around and around while remembering how blessed I was for those 10+ years. I still need to allow myself to feel married on those fewer days, regardless of how frequent they become. So as it does so many times, writing this entry has helped me make up my mind…I’m not ready to part with the ring just yet. I think I’ll let spontaneity determine the right time and place for that as my plans seem a bit premature.

The next week will hold what I hope to be, but realistically know won’t be, the last “first”. For this next week, as I have no idea what to expect of myself, I reserve the right to completely collapse. The children will be distracted by a short trip to visit cousins and I have filled my calendar so I won’t have much time to “think”. But with each day I inch closer and I just want to clear the calendar and crawl in bed. If I could sleep through the entire month I would. Given the chance I would pass over the death anniversary, my Father’s birthday (her funeral was on his birthday), Mindy’s birthday, and my birthday. All this occurred in August; all were tough days last year with little expectation of any difference this year.

Jul 30, 2009

Lazy but not illiterate

So maybe I jumped the gun a little about the State.  Not that they weren’t completely incompetent in deciphering the information that they, themselves, requested I send in but it ended up not being such an ordeal to straighten out. It took less than 20 phone calls (still annoying, but I’ve met with worse.) to get it all in order.

The agent at the State Heath Services department NEVER answered her phone if I called directly. But if I “chose the wrong option” in the automated system and then asked to be transferred she amazingly picked up every time. I had to also consult my attorney that handled the adoption as well as the Social Security Administration to make sure all the ducks were in a row before nudging the State to do the right thing. All in all it’s a closed issue.

I hope.

The new birth certificate should be sent out next week so I will hopefully have ample time to get the school district’s paperwork in order. The new birth certificate will list my name only and I’m disappointed that it worked out that way.  But according to my attorney the other option was to file another lawsuit and I wasn’t about to reach for Pandora’s box. Although now it will be obvious to the casual observer that the birth certificate has been amended in some fashion.

I think in light of this I may just go ahead and get the Teen a passport to, in many cases, avoid using the birth certificate. Besides when I returned from Panama last April, before Mindy passed, I told her it would be nice to take her and the kids there. I made her a video while I was there and I’m not sure if I ever got around to showing it to her. Maybe the kids and I can revisit Panama to make a new video and get a new stamp in the passport.

So catastrophe has been avoided and I can go back to getting anxious about next week.

Jul 27, 2009

Can’t you read?

I was under the impression that since the adoption was complete that I was in the clear. I was wrong. It appears that the great State of Texas requires that you send in paperwork to which they have no intention of reading. Such is the case with my Order Granting Adoption. I need these documents in order to properly enroll her in school. I sent in the order, along with the Certificate of Adoption and the required fee as requested by the State only to receive a letter in return that my request could not be completed because the child’s mother did not join in the petition.


The agent handling my request at the State office got  a concise email and several voicemails to inform her that had she bothered to read the documents I sent in it is clearly stated that the child’s mother is not included as a petitioner because she is deceased!! To this point all attempts to contact the agent to ask her to actually read the paperwork I was requested to send in have met with no response.

So to quickly recap; I sent in the documents and the fee. The State waited three weeks to cash my check for the fees and waited an additional month to notify me they couldn’t complete my request. All attempts at contact have been fruitless and school starts in three weeks. I can only envision the mess I’ll have trying to straighten this all out with the State, then the school, and then the Social Security office. I just have no patience for this sort of laziness.

Jul 22, 2009

My Gold Medalist

My Sugarbear had his gymnastics evaluation yesterday evening and as expected he aced it! They ran him through the rings, balance bars, parallel bars, and more. He gets to move up to the “Silver Level” class for next year. He loves gymnastics and he’s getting to be very flexible. He makes it look so easy and fun, so Princess decided she wanted in on that too. We got her all signed up to take a class at the same time each week as her big brother.

My very smart and talented gymnast gets overlooked, not out of intention but of application. He’s the middle of three children, and my only son. His older sister has entered the teen years and requires keen guidance. His younger sister is the baby girl and still wants to be held and helped. He is my little rock; he manages so much on his own. He likes to work things out on his own and be acknowledged for what he alone has done. He’s a thinker and will one day solve great problems, I’m sure. I’m so proud of him. His mother would be so proud of him. We’re looking forward to another year of  accomplishments. Congratulations son!

Jul 20, 2009

Road Trip!!

The kids have been off having a blast while I work for the past couple of weeks. This weekend, in an attempt to “catch up” with them we took a short day trip to Dr. Pepper, TX (aka Dublin, TX). The kids had no idea of what to expect, I didn’t tell them much about our trip outside of the fact that we were going to Dublin. So in the car I got the usual “how far away are we?” and “are we here yet?” audibles about ever 10 minutes.

We enjoyed all the themed treats we could indulge in when we got there. We of course had a REAL Dr. Pepper along with other treats like Dr. Pepper marinated beef jerky, Dr. Pepper fudge, and we couldn’t leave without having a Dr. Pepper float. We took the tour of the specialized bottling plant and grabbed a few souvenirs before heading back home. All the kids had a blast; even one certain Teen who pretended to be bored out of her mind.

There are only a few weeks left of summer, even fewer that are available for a short trip, but we’re going to have at least two more little excursions before school starts up again. Maybe it will distract them enough to not totally immerse themselves in what happened at the end of last summer. Just a distraction, not a delusion.

We still have loose ends

After Mindy passed, nearly a year ago, I began to get a lot of paperwork in order that we should have done well before anything happened. I had my will drawn up, a trust created, got all my insurance in order, and took care of the adoption that Mindy and I had been talking about for some time. We put many of these things off because who really expects to die at 33? Is it realistic to prepare to be a widower at 30? Obviously, YES!

When the adoption was complete, my very awesome attorney told me that since I had just deposited additional money into my retainer that I should have some money coming back. I too expected this as I had put in a couple of thousand just the week before. Fast forward 10 weeks and I get the final invoice in the mail. Amazingly there is no refund. Not only that, but I was about $650 short. She graciously adjusted off the remaining balance so that in effect I broke even. I would highly recommend her for any family law concerns you have in Tarrant County, but I should’ve expected that given enough time…the refund would disappear. Even without the refund I ended up not spending quite $10k on the whole process; which I understand is about the norm. So I guess I still came off on the better side of it all. It sure would’ve been nice to have a little change back though. I’ve filed for the updated birth certificate, which I have yet to receive, and will get the Social Security information updated if the new birth certificate ever shows up. All of that is out of my hands for now while we wait on the great State of Texas to get everything in order.

For a good while there I was actually dealing with 5 separate attorneys at the same time, keeping each of my little issues compartmentalized. I’m down to just 1 now, the counselor who is filing my trust and final will. He’s been working on this for several months and keeps promising me documents…to which I have none. I have paid him all but the last few hundred dollars and I’m visiting him today. He should have the paper work ready…if not I’ll be a few hundred dollars better for a while longer. Again with the attorneys and money, I guess all the jokes and stereotypes aren’t too far off.

At least my insurance is all cared for and there was no hassle in setting it up at all. Too bad my finance guy who did my insurance can’t take care of the other stuff too!

So here we sit, quickly approaching a year since our lives changed forever, still dealing with the aftermath. I know that to some degree we always will be, but it would be nice to have these things checked off the list. I have this idea that if I get all these things checked off that my life might slow down to something resembling the pace I had in my life of before, but I know in reality it never will. I know this is my new life…I just haven’t fully accepted it yet.

Jul 17, 2009

I still laugh at our inside jokes…

It’s been another week of me trying to stay busy in the evenings without the kids at home. It’s been increasingly difficult to sleep. I think it’s partly because the house is so quiet and partly the anticipation of what is just around the corner…52 weeks later.  I have had an absolute blast being out with friends, sans kiddos. But it is all fleeting; as soon as I come home and walk through that front door it all seems to be a just a little surreal.

It rained last night for a good while, and since I couldn’t sleep anyway (having another surreal moment) I figured…why not go stand in the rain? So, at about 2am I was out on the driveway soaking in the rare TX summer rain. The rain drops were unusually warm as they fell from the sky. The ground, still hot from the days sunlight, seemed to almost steam with each drop. The fresh rain smell was in the air and for just a moment all I thought about was how beautiful it all was.

Then a bolt of lightning lit up the night sky and I figured it would be better to watch from indoors…just in case. I’m not to keen on becoming a lightning rod, or ending up like the character, Mr. Daws, in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’.

In the last couple of weeks, as I indulge in the extra time I have to spend with friends, I am constantly thinking that Mindy would’ve loved this. She’s such a social butterfly; always wanting to be with friends. I was the one who never really wanted to go out much. It seems like I’ve been compensating for her in my own behavior lately. I haven’t been quite as laid back and easy going as I was before. Instead I seemed to have taken on some of Mindy’s concise, to the point, and some times confrontational nature. Maybe I just want to think that because it makes me feel good, maybe it’s actually true. I don’t really care which the result is the same. The result is that I feel like I can carry her with me where ever I go. I can enjoy life and know she would’ve enjoyed it too. She would enjoy being out with me, creating memories to share later. As sad as that could sound since she’s no longer here…it’s actually a very peaceful, inviting thought for me.

I don’t really know how to explain it more than that. If you watched the FOX show ‘Fringe’ where the main FBI agent shares her memories with a former partner by way of some weird experiment…that sort of the same. Only without the scary water tank,  electrodes, or trance inducing hypnotism. Although I’m not trying to find odd terrorist types using her memory. I like to think we remembered things similarly. So that when I smile about something we did together…she is smiling too.

Jul 10, 2009

Cooling off

Yesterday morning, as most any, I checked the weather before heading out for work. The nice weatherman said it would be sunny and hot all day; a typical TX summer day. I wrap up my morning routine and leave for work on the Harley, but I didn’t get 5 miles from the house when it started pouring rain. Not, this is annoying cause I’m on a bike and I’m wet rain. No. This is cars pulling off the road cause they can’t see rain! The rain drops were like little darts of ice poking at me, and the overpass I huddled under seemed so far away when the surprise downpour started. It was a very brief, very cold rain. Only about a quarter mile of the highway was even wet, but I was soaked.

Really, really soaked. Squishy socks inside my shoes soaked.

Luckily the rest of the ride in was dry, and at 60+ MPH you dry out in just a few minutes. It makes that memorable part of my morning bearable. The real highlight of the day was going out to see my little monkeys at my Mom’s. It wasn’t anything too exciting but having them gone all week is really getting to me so I had to make the drive out to see them. Princess and Sugarbear both asked if they could come home with me and I would’ve loved to have them with me. But aside from the whole full time job thing, I rode my Harley out there and there just wasn’t enough room. They will be gone again next week…all week; again. We have a little weekend trip planned that is coming up soon and I’m really looking forward to having them all in the car for a few hours. Road trips are great for catching up with your kiddos!

Without the kids on the weeknights, it’s been pretty uneventful. I’ve watched a lot of carefully selected movies (re: mindless comedies that hopefully won’t trigger grief) and spent some time with my Dad. Mindy has crossed my mind several times each and everyday, but there hasn’t been any “moments” that I have to deal with. So far all the thoughts I’ve had of our time together have been wonderful, smile inducing memories. Such as the time we took the kids to the State Fair a few years back; Mindy walked my Teen (then only about 8 years old) through the petting zoo. Sugarbear and Princess were in the double stroller and somehow Sugarbear got his little toddler hands on the goat food…which was then toddler food. Gross, but funny. I don’t remember why I was waiting on them outside the tent but I missed all the real action. The expressions on Mindy’s face as she told me…priceless. I was probably buying drinks or something as it’s always hot at the State Fair.

State Fair 2004

I’ll try really hard to stay off my soapbox here, but it’s nice to have a little break from all the little daily reminders that she’s gone…for the rest of my life. And in this world of misplaced adoration, and people “grieving” for celebrities they’ve never met (Sad…ok, but grieving…they don’t have a clue). I’m glad my kids have a real understanding of the importance of life, the gravity of death, and what it means to really grieve. Even thought the trip is unwelcome and unwanted we will be better at it’s end for having taken it. Better than we would’ve been if we tried to ignore it or deal with this as most of the world would have us “work through” this.

I’m just glad I have highlights to any given day. I’m thankful that even though I miss them terribly my kids are well cared for while I’m off at work. I’m blessed to have such wonderful memories of a wonderful life with a wonderful partner. I just hope I can get these memories all written down to share with my kids before time washes them away. As much as I want to stay dry on my bike, it was nice to cool off from this Texas heat.

Jul 7, 2009

Life…a year ago today

I had to look at the calendar to see what I was doing one year ago today. As I read through the entries all the events were vaguely familiar; but I would never have remembered them on my own. The week following July 4th one year ago the kids went to spend a week with my Mom. Ironically, that’s where they are this week. It’s not an annual tradition plans just worked out that way. I was coming home from work each night to Mindy; it seemed such a simple thing then. I took for granted that when I opened that door she’d be on the other side. That week she was calling me constantly…she missed the kids and she got very anxious. She knew she couldn’t call to my Mom’s fifty times a day so she called to talked with the kids, and then called me all day to tell me that she missed them. I wish I could call her to tell her how much I miss her.

I miss the kids too. They’ve been bouncing around between family members this summer and I feel like I’m not getting to see them enough. But I know this way is better for them than having them in a day care while I’m at work. I try to stay busy after work to make the week go by quicker but I’m running out of motivation. I don’t know if it’s because I’m trying so hard not to think of the fact that I’m one month away from the anniversary of the end of my life of before, or if I’m just getting worn out from the hectic summer schedule of shuffling the little monkeys from house to house and trying to cram in some time with them in between. Realistically, it’s probably both.

This time last year Mindy and I were coming off a bad month. In May she found her way into trouble again and the month of June was tense as we waited to see what the fallout would be, so we argued. Her doctors were attempting to regulate her meds and they kept adjusting them up and down and I’m sure that didn’t make it any easier for her. The higher the dose was, the easier it was for her to function “normally”. But the side effects increased and became intolerable. The doctors were trying to find that middle ground of tolerable side effects and beneficial regulation. They never made it; they ran out of time.

The week the kids were back home after visiting my Mom Mindy found a new energy. She was taking the kids out for lunch and straightening up the house and just generally taking good care of things. She and I were getting along better than ever before. I found myself daydreaming about what our future would look like and we’d talk about it at night when the kids went to bed. That hadn’t happened in our marriage in quite a while and it was a very welcome change. I really enjoyed my life in July 2008.

We’ll see what the rest of July 2009 has in store.

My little monkeys are just as brown as can be from the sun. SPF 70 is no match for the countless hours they’ve spent in the pool the last several weeks. The Teen…not so much. She’s spent most of the summer inside on the computer or the phone. Princess and Sugarbear have become pretty good swimmers. Both are swimming underwater which they would never do before. I wish we could find time to head out to the lake. I would love to get my Teen and Sugarbear on water skis. I’m just so thankful I have good kids. I couldn’t imagine doing all this and having to fight through behavioral problems or something along those lines. Now if I can just keep all the adults they interact with from pulling them in too many different directions I’ll be set. But that’s fodder for another post all together.

I hope everyone out there had a wonderful Independence Day weekend and thanked a soldier or veteran for allowing us to continue to celebrate our independence.

Princess with Sparklers

11 months down; a lifetime to go.

Jun 29, 2009

Life…the week of June 22

It’s been a tough week and I’m worn out. At least for now it appears that next week will be a total opposite. Next week should be quiet and relaxing…I hope.

Last Monday I put my Teen on a flight out to see her paternal grandparents to fulfill a promise I made her when the adoption process began. I was weary about sending her out of the state until the adoption was final but she wanted to see her Bio Dad’s family. As part of the final adoption we put in language that any visits to see his family would be with the paternal grandparents, they would be the ones responsible for her care. I sent the flight information to them about a month ahead of time, then confirmed about a week prior. The Teen and I packed bags and headed for her 6:35a flight out to see them and I saw her off at the flight gate. A couple of hours later I got a text message (the only way teens seem to communicate) that she had landed. I was thrilled; I didn’t ask her to call or text me she took it up herself to do so…for her that is huge! About 10 min later I got another text, nobody had shown up to claim her. I started making phone calls while trying to keep her calm and finally got in touch with her grandmother at the office. A few minutes later a call from Bio Dad as he was at the airport with his father. They said they’d been there for a while looking for her (now 30min on the ground with no contact) but hadn’t been able to locate her.First of all SHE HAS HER CELL PHONE! And secondly, this airport has two terminals…yeah TWO! It’s not like they had to search LAX or something to find her!

It’s my opinion that they showed up late and were alerted of my phone calls which in turn prompted their call. After reaching me they found her, and 45min after her plane landed she was on her way. I’ve sent her a few text messages through the week and she seems to be having a good time. I just feel like they go out of their way to make it obvious that they don’t really care. They go through the motions and say the right things, but it’s the little things that speak volumes. The options to take her to dinner while their in town, and they refuse. The prior chances to visit her when not court ordered…not even thought about. Some times it’s hard to not say negative things about them around her, but I know she’s almost old enough to see it all for herself.

Tuesday was a fairly normal day, and Wednesday should have been. The A/C service man came out for the semi-annual tune up on our A/C units. He was only there for a little over an hour and it all seemed well when he left. Thursday was our night at The WARM Place so we didn’t get home until late so we didn’t notice much about the temperature in the house but Friday it was HOT! It turns out that whatever the service man did on Wed during the preventative maintenance has us sitting in the heat now. He’s coming back out, of course, but it could never be soon enough. Even with the larger downstairs unit working the house isn’t cool so we’ve been out to eat and anywhere I can think of that will entertain the kids and keep us cool.

Thursday at The WARM Place the topic of dating was brought up and how to deal with the children’s emotions when a widow/er begins to date. Since this is a topic I’m not ready to discuss (at least publicly) I was pretty quiet, and the fact that I was the only male in the room this week ensured I didn’t say much! It was nice though to hear what these women had been going through and how they’ve dealt with it. I have really started enjoying my time at The WARM Place despite my strong hesitations to going originally. But like any time we go the “triggers” are always there in abundance so it’s always a demanding evening for me.

We’re gearing up for the July 4th weekend and the kids are looking forward to seeing their cousins. We want to get out to Nonnie June’s and over to Mindy’s parent’s for a little bit, but it’s looking more and more like we’ll have to choose just one. Either way we’ll have plenty of fireworks and fun. I hope your Independence Day we’ll be as fun as our should be; and I hope we can all stay cool in this summer heat!

Jun 24, 2009

Princess Ballerina

Runtime 5:57

The video may be a bit long for some, but I couldn't help it. I'm so proud of my little princess. This was taken last week at her recital and I wish I could make her smile that big everyday! A huge "THANK YOU!!" to Aunt Jen for helping out with hair, make up, costume changes, etc. She took the best pictures too. I'll try to post a few a little later.

You were brilliant little Princess. What a graceful little dancer! I absolutely love watching you dance. You remind me of your mother more and more every day.

Jun 21, 2009

Father's Day

In 2001 I was working third shift in a call center for TXU. One warm spring morning Mindy woke me up around 9:30am; I had just fallen asleep after working a double. She crouched down next to the bed and said "Honey, your going to be a Daddy." I opened my eyes and tried to mutter some response but I was exhausted. She let me fall back to sleep and we celebrated later that afternoon. I'll never, ever forget that groggy morning when I found out she was pregnant with Sugarbear. Father's Day with my Teen had always been a special day, even before that morning. The adoption spurred feelings similar to that morning when we finalized that whole ordeal. But it's something special to know that you brought a life into this world!

Father's Day is one of my favorite holidays and Mindy always made it a big deal (as I tried to do on Mother's Day). I have numerous T-Shirts from the kids that have "Daddy platitudes" on them that I usually wear all through June. Last year the Friday before Father's Day I bought the kids got me a motorcycle for Father's Day and I had pictured Mindy and I cruising around on it all over the place. As it turns out she only rode with me twice.

This year the day was still special, and thank you Chick-fil-a for the "Father's Day Chocolate Shake"! I think I have the greatest kids in the world and they have been so strong for each other as well as me. Even when the Teen rolls her eyes while I enjoy my free shake. But it's just never the same without my strongest supporter in my corner. This is another "first". The first Father's Day as a single dad of half orphaned children. And it's tough thinking about how great it is to be a dad when the woman who brought all three of my wonderful children into this world is no longer apart of it.

I can't help but think that my words sound like a broken record...

I miss her, she's gone.

I miss her, she's gone.

But it's odd that it's the same description but it's not the same feeling. It's the same symptoms (your throat gets tight, your eyes water, your stomach knots itself up, etc.) But emotionally it's not the same; each one of these "firsts" are a little different from the last. This one wasn't preceded by the usual anxiety of a coming holiday without her. This time the bottom fell out when I went through my Teen's bag as she packed for a trip to see her paternal grandparents. As per usual teenage logic she didn't pack enough clothes or other essentials and just planned on wearing "...whatever". We talked and I explained some things to her and the whole time I'm thinking this is a mother/daughter conversation. I can do this; I will do this. But if Mindy where here I wouldn't be doing this; she would. It makes me so thankful for all my wonderful sisters in-law that help out. It takes a mix of all of us to even begin to fill Mindy's shoes in these kid's lives and that point is what got me tonight.

On August 5, 2008 I loved Mindy more than I did February 11, 2000. Today I miss her more than I did August 6, 2008. We had a successful marriage...I'm confident in saying that now. We talked about divorce a few times; it very nearly became a reality once. But we never went down that road. Someone once told me that it doesn't matter if you think you married the right woman or not. If your married, she's the right woman. After all we went through, and we put each other to the test on occasion, we CHOSE to stay together. Mindy had issues that she couldn't overcome but I was no saint. I pulled my fair share of stupid acts and put her in some tough spots myself. But this Father's Day I'm just thankful for my beautiful kids, and I miss my wife terribly. I wish I could just tell her how much better of a husband I should have been and that she was always the right woman for me. I wish she could appreciate how difficult it is to fill her void in our lives. She often was under appreciated and I just wish she was here to see what I see in retrospect.

I miss her, she's gone.

Jun 15, 2009

Dream a little dream

Last night I was thinking of the last post I read from Crash Course Widow, and how I may have lost some focus on this blog. I want it to be a record that my kids can read years from now and understand what we went through the years after we lost our wife and mother. Along the way I’ve used the blog to help myself work through thoughts…to organize the clutter in my head. But I looked back and one of the busiest months was May with the kids having activities going on left and right. Yet I put up only four posts. Not that I have a quota or something, but it just seems like if I’m going to capture what life is really like for us now, I need to capture all of life. I use this as my pseudo anonymous space to vent, but I also use this as a sounding board to capture my memories of my late loving wife. If the kids are really going to relate to any of this I need to include some of what is going on in their lives also…I think.

Today was a nice, and quite full day. I woke up a little earlier than normal with a vivid memory of a very bizarre dream including Mindy. At the end of the dream she’s laying in bed, fully dressed, under the covers. I’m walking down a hallway and see her and jump onto the bed next to her. In the dream we’re not married but we had been (sort of like now, only with her alive) so I give her a quick kiss and she smiles at me. I start to say something and…I wake up. I headed into the kitchen and fixed some breakfast which the kids mostly ignored as we got ready for church. After the church services we had to run to the other side of town to get Princess to an extra dance class before her dress rehearsal tomorrow.

When the dress rehearsal was done we were all little grumpy from all the running around. The last thing I wanted to do was head home and lounge at the house with three grumpy kids. As it worked out I got a text message on the way home to invite us out to the lake. I quickly worked up a list of things we’d need in my head and we ran home to change clothes and grab an ice chest full of drinks. We spent the next several hours with good company in good weather. My sister in law even joined us for a while too! Although she got caught in a little fender bender and probably wishes she could’ve missed out on that.

Tonight as I sit here pondering life’s direction I can’t help hope that I find my way back into last nights dream. I know it’s just a dream, but it seems like I get another chance to talk to her. To hold her hand and feel her beautiful curly hair brush against my face. It was such a vivid dream, the kind that makes you question your reality and I want to get back. Time doesn’t heal wounds, but a little time dreaming is like getting a local anesthetic. If time does heal wounds, it must be only the small superficial scrapes and bruises. For the real painful ones, the broken hearts and irreplaceable loss, you live with the scar and the pain is always just below the surface. I doubt there is any amount of time in this world that can make this feeling go away.

I look forward to my Princess’ dance recitals and summer nights with the kids cooking out and heading to the lake. Mindy would’ve loved that. It’s passed time for my Teen to learn to water ski and I think the kids have just about talked me into getting a puppy. With all this up and coming there should be plenty of less selfish rants to fill this space.

Jun 11, 2009

Can the night get any longer?

The kids have started their summer routine. They are staying with my sister in-law for the week and it’s been a very awkward week. On one hand it’s nice to come home and see that the only mess I find is the one I left that morning. It’s nice to be able to get a few little things done that are more difficult when I’m toting around the children. But on the other hand it’s unsettling to not have them right at my side; to have the house be so quiet. I’ve always known that my children help me immensely in dealing with Mindy’s death, but it is becoming more obvious just how much.

Initially I thought that with the kids out of school and staying across town for a few days that I could get a little more time in the office and get caught up on things. That has yet to work out. The last few nights I’ve ended up an exhausted lump on the bed. Too tired to do anything substantive, and yet not quite able to fall asleep. I thought the nights were long in the preceding months but the when you reach the point where night is now morning you know your in for a long day. When that happens on sequential nights…well it’s been a realy long week.

I knew that if I got up one thing would lead to another and I’d be up all night.; it always works that way. I think I can just do that one load of laundry, or just get the various Wii objects (remotes, games, etc.) back into place. Before I realize it I’m going full steam and the night escapes. But that isn’t the case this week. I’ve laid in bed staring at nothing in particular as my mind raced for hours at a time. Last night I fell asleep near 3a only to wake again at 5a, then again at 6a. Finally I just got up and out of bed to get ready for work. That was one of the better nights of the week.

Initially I thought I did the right thing to quit the anti depressants. I didn’t really notice any positive change. But now I’m wondering if I just coincidentally stumbled onto grief’s easy street for a few weeks. Maybe I was just too busy trying to make it to the Kindergarten graduation, plan a birthday party, and run around my Teen and her friends to notice that things hadn’t really changed. I’m contemplating giving them another try but I’m hesitant.

So here I was again, in the dark, wondering how my life will play out in the following years.

I’ve come to grips that while death is an event, it’s one that changes your whole world. It gives you new perspectives on a lot of life’s twists. It makes me more appreciative of things I once took for granted. It makes things that were significant in my life of before seem petty, and the reciprocal; making insignificant things of that life seem heavy. I have finally settled with the idea that I will never have that life again. I had clung to statements that time could heal, given the right actions and circumstance. Maybe the statement is true, just my definition of heal doesn’t fit.

I always felt that God gave me the gift of endurance. I’ve never been the fastest or most flexible in nearly every sense, but I could always find the steam to keep going. For the first time in these last couple of days I’ve really questioned my ability to keep this up, and not just because of the lack of sleep. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not giving up or admitting failure. It’s just the first time that I can’t fathom at least one scenario of life that seems acceptable.

When I ran my first half marathon I wasn’t sure I could finish. The longest run I had completed prior to the race was 5 miles. As I passed the 6 mile marker in the race I wasn’t any more confident that I could reach the end. It wasn’t until I was about 500 yards from the finish that I entertained the idea of completing that race. I felt like such a champion, I had met my goals. I wanted my wife to see me cross that finish line but she wasn’t there, but that could be another post in itself. She made it up to me though. She showered me with praise the rest of the day and nothing feels as good as a spouse lifting you up.

I think my recent doubt about my life now is that I don’t really have any goals. I want to be the best I can be for my children, I want to be there for them at every milestone in their lives to remind them how much they are loved, and how special they each are. But there is no path to run on, no mile markers to pass, no destination to reach. No spouse to cheer me on. It’s just today; and who knows how many more “todays” I have to complete. Maybe I’m just fighting against living in the past, or maybe I’m fighting against what maybe waiting in tomorrow. Either way it’s a long, long night.

Jun 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Princess

My youngest daughter turned 6 years old. She is a carbon copy of her mother in many ways. She has her facial expressions, her smile, her hair, and most endearing to me her creative mind. My little Princess thinks outside the box for sure just like her mother.

While I rush around making arrangements and picking out gifts I am never far from the thought that my little Princess is very much like her mother in so many ways. I just hope that I still have good parenting skills when this little one gets to be not so little. I want her to understand that the world is hers for the taking. Her big heart and generous spirit never cease to amaze me.

I love you baby…Happy Birthday!

Princess, Momma is watching over us and she is so proud of you. She is thrilled at how well you did in kindergarten and that you have become such a big girl. Never forget how much you are loved!


Jun 4, 2009

It’s a great day…shouldn’t there be more of these?

Today is the last day of school for my three little monkeys. I’m just as excited as they are because I’m so sick of dealing with the school district. They have had incredible teachers this year but the administration at both schools has had my head exploding! They won’t be at home with me tonight, they’re going to Mindy’s parents house. Which actually works out well and leaves me more time to put the finishing touches on an up and coming birthday party.

My work load at the office today was relatively light. There’s always the office politics about who gets to do what and when. In IT, everyone wants to be the first with the new toys! But it was nice to not have meetings about meetings and then scramble to get work done so it can be reported in the next meeting. I rode my Father’s Day Harley to work, as I do often, and it was beautiful out. I didn’t have much time but I found a short winding road near the office that makes for an enjoyable ride. While I was out on my ride/lunch break I stopped to grab a bite and an older man blocked me in with his Road King. I guess he thought the bigger bike could park where ever he wanted. As he was putting stuff in his bags I walked over to my bike and slowly got ready to leave, but he didn’t budge. So I started it up and not so gently made the loud pipes scream back at his large but quiet ride. He nodded my way and rolled far enough over for me to slide out of the slot. It was really no big deal, but it made me smile. He’ll probably have to go buy a new set of pipes now!

For now I’m looking forward to some time to myself over the summer, be it a few days here and there. But I’m cautiously aware that I may not be as ready as I think for the kids to spend so much time away. I have big plans to accomplish this summer on the days they are gone. If history is any indication only about half of it will get finished, but that’s more than I have now. I haven’t been on the anti depressant meds for a few weeks now. I took them for about two weeks and had no noticeable benefit but realized several side effects. I got my running shoes back out of the closet and let a few things at work slide. I don’t know which helped the most but I did notice marginal improvements. I still have some really crappy days, Monday of this week being one, but overall I think I’ve stepped up one rung on the ladder out of this pit.

I know that creeping up ever so quickly is the one year milestone. It doesn’t feel like Mindy has been gone 9 months and 29 days and just over 4 hours already. It feels much shorter and the “new first” triggers keep appearing. But want to think that if I can get past the first year, then I can make it past year two, and three, however long it takes before I get to see her again. For now, I’ll relish the good days and the insignificant events that make me smile; I’ll keep looking forward to my dreams of her and the better memories that randomly pop into my head. I’ll live life and try to really live life, so I’ll have much to discuss with her later.

May 31, 2009

Another month gone.

May has been a very busy month. School spills over into June for the kids, but just by a few days. I’ll be so glad when school is out. I’m so worn out from following up on homework, tracking down permissions slips, and trying to keep three separate schedules from running over each other. Although I have mixed feelings about how this summer is going to go. I’ve made arrangements for the kids to spend time with various family members so they don’t have to go to a day care. For much of the time they’ll be with me in the evenings and nearby during the day, but they’ll be spending considerable time quite a distance away as well. I know they’ll have fun and enjoy spending time with Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins but I don’t know that I’m ready to be without them that much. They’ve been such an anchor for me these several months.

Yesterday we spent the evening at Mindy’s parents house for a BBQ that they host every year. There were about 70 friends/family there and for much of the night things went smooth. At one point I was in the kitchen with my sister in-law talking about how nice it was that no one was prying me about Mindy. I surprised myself that I remembered a few names from the preceding year, although there were many that escaped me. Then a very nice woman said she wanted to meet me. I was introduced to her, her son, and her daughter in law whose hair reminded me of Mindy; it was long, dark, and very curly. The woman was very nice and spoke highly of my family. She told me how Mindy’s parents had spoke of me and was clearly wanting to give me some supportive words. She asked me how life has been the past 9 months and 25 days and no matter how many times I get that question the answer is always a struggle. I doubt anyone really wants to know…it’s just one of those loaded questions that sort of spew out of your mouth. I ended up fielding that question several times that night. I want to be brief, but give enough information that they don’t ask follow up questions. I didn’t do very well with that. Its always a little awkward for me to go through this routine when I’m with Mindy’s family. It may be just my perception but I’ve rarely been around when Mindy’s parents or sisters are asked how they are getting along with out her. I don’t know what it would be like to lose a child or a sibling and I don’t like the attention these questions bring.  I do like to hear that people are thinking and praying for me and my wonderful kids but I feel it’s more appropriate as a statement than a conversation.

I drove home that night feeling the void. There was no one there to argue with me about the radio stations. No one to tell me to ignore the idiot in the lane next to me. Every song that played seem to reach into my heart and stir some memory. I couldn’t get home fast enough; I couldn’t get in bed fast enough. To put a little insurance on the brevity of the night I made sure to grab a couple of sleeping pills on the way to the bedroom. I thought that would do the trick…but as with every morning in my life without her, I woke up alone. Well, almost every morning. The kids have slept with me some and there’s nothing like waking up with a pair of feet in your back or having a 7 year old steal all the covers. But there aren’t anymore mornings waking up to her rubbing my back or keeping the kids out of the room so I can sleep in.

With school almost wrapped up and the kid’s schedules all set for the summer I wonder how the next 3 months will go. I wonder if I’ll ever get used to this. Time isn’t healing anything, and I miss her more than I could’ve ever imagined I would have. I just wish I could fast forward my life like Adam Sandler in ‘Click’. I want to be at all the dance recitals and school events. I want to see my boy grow to be a good man and my daughters have beautiful weddings, but I could do without the long nights and lonely days. I could do without being both the hero and the bad guy to kids depending on their mood. I could do without things being this hard to deal with.

May 16, 2009

Out on the fringe

Well another session at The WARM Place and once again I find myself walking in the door with no expectations and unprepared for what may happen. This whole week I’ve been behind the curve. I missed two appointments and just ran late in general. Just remembering to get the kids out there for the group sessions was a win in itself. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable in the setting despite my early resistance and each time I seem to open up even further.

Our facilitator started to pass around a good sized bag full of random objects and instructed us to pick an item that reminds us of our late family member. As the first man rummaged through the bag I kept thinking maybe there would be some artsy stuff, or maybe some reference to tennis or sewing. As the bag gets to me I pull a cowboy hat off the top and it jumped out at me. A prescription pill bottle is sitting right there in the bag. I didn’t give it a second thought I just went into the vivid memories that have been haunting me all week. There were times Mindy and I argued over these little bottles. Then she began hiding the pills and the bottles separately. If you’ve been through this type of addiction you know that the bottles are important to keep track of refills. Soon arguments turned away from the actual pills or prescriptions because there was no way I could keep tabs on them. The best way to assert some control, some attempt to curb the addiction was to watch over the money. That too  proved to be ineffective and just caused more arguments. These memories have been waking me, chasing me through the week. At first it brought on guilt; guilt that I couldn’t find any good way to help her. Now I just feel helpless. Husbands are supposed to care for and protect their wives, but what can you do to protect her from herself?

At least this time when I was finished speaking there wasn’t an awkward silence. I got a few quick questions and then we moved on to the nice woman sitting next to me.  As the bag made it’s way around the room there was a lot of discussion about in-laws and family relationships. I am very fortunate that Mindy’s parents have been so wonderful to me. There are more than a few families that have just abandoned any relationship to the surviving spouse for reasons they can’t seem to reconcile. Mindy’s parent’s invite us to come over regularly and while they really want to see the kids I still feel like part of the family. I need that.

Mindy would’ve hated me talking about our issues in a group, much less posting them on the internet but this week is the first time that I’ve really been bothered by them since she passed. I’ve chosen to seek out more appealing memories and when I’m conscious about my thoughts I’m okay. It’s just these waking memories that catch me off guard. Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about what she would have me do for our children. Since the adoption was finalized I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering about my kids future. Maybe it’s the coming trip my Teen will make to see her paternal grandparents out of state. I don’t know for sure but it did feel a little better to blurt it all out loud to a room full of adults that I won’t see out in the real world. People that feel like they are just as crazy as I am for having similar thoughts and stories to mine. Until this week I’ve really been able to related to other widow/er bloggers and real life people in group. Even a few at Church and work that have lost a spouse at some point. But tonight as I try to find a way to express my thoughts and fears, I can’t help but think that I’m out on this branch alone. Well maybe not all alone…but it doesn’t seem crowded over here.

I’ve been taking anti-depressants for a couple of weeks now and I haven’t really noticed a change in the symptoms that prompted me to see my doctor in the first place. But to make sure I knew I was taking something I did still get to enjoy some of the side effects of the pills. I guess it’s time to ask the good doctor for a different script. Maybe these pills are tied to the odd waking memories. In any case a woman in our group this week did make mention that she was on something as well. Key on was, as it appeared to be in the past. Her actual comment was that this Mother’s Day was the “…first one [I] spent not being heavily medicated..”. I guess they worked for her so I’ll just try something else…maybe the next one will work. For now I’m just trying to focus on the fact that I won the adoption, my kids are (for now) all healthy, and my wonderful family has stepped up and helped me out with scheduling the kids events for the summer. I have a lot to be thankful and grateful for it just takes some work sometimes to remember that.