Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Things We Carry

I had a college English class where the professor loved Vietnam War stories.  I, however, do not remotely enjoy reading war stories.  Yet, instead of dropping or transferring to another class, I read each and every novel.  One story in particular was The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.  It is a work of fiction made up of short stories.  The very first story shares the title of the book.  It was wonderfully written, and I instantly fell in love with the book.

He started out by naming the very items that the soldiers carry in their backpacks.  Such as the ammo, the boots, and the rations.  And after some of the items, he stated how much it weighed.  You started to get a sense of just how much weight was on these soldiers backs as they trekked through the jungle.  Then he stated other items like photographs, letters, and such.  You understand that these particular items may not physically weigh very much, but they emotionally weigh more than the ammo, the guns and the rations.  And lastly, he started to list memories, tears, and emotions.  You finally understand that what weighs these soldiers down is not just the physical items, but it is so much more.  It is the internal items that can slow down the soldiers. 

Tim O'Brien wrote so eloquently that I understood and have so much respect for our soldiers in combat because they carry so much more on their backs than what is inside their backpacks.  We widows and widowers are somewhat similar in that regard.  We carry so much pain, but people cannot understand because they don't see the bruises or the scars so they think that we should be better by now.  We still feel the sting of sorrow, but because it is buried so deep within, people just can't see it to fully understand.  We still cry over our significant others, but people can't see our broken hearts so they ask us why?   We still have anxiety when we remember that our significant other isn't ever coming home, but all people can tell us is that we need to get over it.

It's that time of year where the pain is more intense.  Where our hearts are feeling more broken.  Where our backpacks feel more heavy.  I truly hope that everyone that reads this can understand just a little bit more that it's not just feeling blue, or missing Chris.  It's missing the life that Chris and I would have had.  It's missing the family that we would have had.  It's missing his son.  It's missing what we would have been doing today before work.  It's missing every little detail of every day.  It's also missing those pictures that I never took with him.  It's missing all the things that we never got to do.  It's missing him watch his son open his Christmas presents.  There's so much more. Those are the things that I carry with me every single moment of every day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GOD

I just read somewhere "God only gives you what you can handle."  Oh how I hate that saying.  I literally gnashed my teeth and cringed when I read it.  How do they know this to be true?  Do they know how close to suicide I have been and what has stopped me?  Do they know that there are so many others in my position that have committed suicide because they couldn't handle it?

I really am glad that nobody has said that phrase to my face lately.  I had a few people say it to me at Chris's funeral.  But, I was so numb, I just kind of let it go.  But, if they said to me today, they would definitely get an earful.  God did not do this to Chris.  Just as the father presiding over the funeral said, it was not God, that did this; man did this.  A monster named Shannon Maurice Holmes did this to Chris.  This was not part of God's plan.  What kind of God would he be if he planned a death like this for Chris?  Man was given free will, that is why this was allowed to happen.  It was a horrible, horrible tragedy, but it was not some sort of divine plan. 

After many meetings with my minister friend, I understand more about why it was "allowed" to happen.  I don't claim to have the answers, but I understand so much better about why things happen.  It doesn't mean that I have to agree or like it.  It just means that I can understand.  And yet, I still have not lost my faith in God. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"You really need to move on"

Again, I was told that I need to move on.  I really wanted to ask this person "How?"  How exactly does one move on from such a tragedy such as this?  I was at the peak of my happiness the day of the incident when my life came crashing down.  I understand that it's been over a year, and that people think that I should be over it, or better.  Yet, they didn't experience what I did.  Everyday that I wake up without Chris, I am reminded that he will never wake up beside me again.  Sure, I can try to convince myself that he's just gotten up early or whatever.  But, reality does eventually set in and I try my best to hold back the tears.  It still hurts, it still feels like a knife stabbing me in the heart when I realize that he's gone, never to return. 

I still have anxiety going to bed at night.  I still have nightmares when I actually sleep.  I still have hate in my heart when I think of the monster that took my love's life.  I have panic when I think of how close that monster lives to my house now.  How exactly am I supposed to move on?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Choices

I do believe that we have the choice how we are going to react to certain events.  While it's true that our initial reaction may be to get angry, laugh, or cry, we can learn to suppress those emotions.  We are also taught to count to ten before getting angry.  If you ever watch SNL, you'll see how they suppress the urge to laugh.  We all suppress our emotions, some are easier than others.  I'm still working on controlling my emotions; my hate and anger creep up every now and again.  But, my way of suppressing them is to push the "event" or people that cause those emotions to the back of my head.  Yes, that means that at times, I am still in denial about what happened.  But, at times, it makes it easier for me to deal with my life.  But, I will say that I have gotten better at keeping my emotions under control and not flying off the handle.  Maybe it's the medications, maybe it's the grief? 

The only emotion that I absolutely cannot control is the anxiety.  I get so anxious knowing that this monster is less than one hour away.  He is less than 50 miles from my house.  One more thing that causes sleepless nights and nightmares when I finally do find some sleep.  It's a terrifying thought that if he ever escapes that he is so close to my house.  He's a cold blooded murderer.  I can't control the anxiety that I feel, even trying to push the thoughts to the back of my mind won't cure it.  Nothing can help it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Forget and Forgive?

So, the year mark has passed and my grief has not magically disappeared.  Not that I thought that it would.  I am sure that there are people close to me that would like for it to have gone away.  I am depressed, despite the medications.  But, I know that it is just my grief.  I want to be with Chris, but what I want is for Chris to be alive.  I want the events of December 8, 2009 to have never have happened.  I want this nightmare to end.  I am sure that the family of that monster wishes the same as well.

Today was the first day that I thought about that monster in quite a long time.  I had conversation with a good friend that is a minister.  We got on the subject of Heaven and Hell.  So, I thought of the monster for the first time today.  I was surprised at myself that I hadn't thought of him in quite a long time.  I may be able to bury my thoughts about him, and suppress my anger.  I discovered that the anger may be suppressed, but it still resides within me.  I am not quite able to forgive, I have been able to forget him to an extent.  I have to live every day of my life with what he did, so I will never forget what he did.  But, as long as I remember him, I live with my hatred of him.  So, I do my best to forget the monster that took Christopher from this world.

I believe in an afterlife.  I believe in Heaven and Hell.  And there is no doubt in my mind that Chris is in Heaven.  He is the one that insisted that we go back to church.  He believed in God and in Christ.  I don't know what the monster believes in, but I don't know how you can be a Christian and do what he did.  I also don't know that you can do what he did, then say that the Lord is your Savior and suddenly all is forgiven and you rest eternally in Paradise.  Then again, I don't have the answers.  However, I have come to the conclusion after a year, that it isn't for me to forgive.  I have a right to be angry.  I have a right to be mad.  I have a right to not forgive.  I am leaving the forgiving to God.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Memoriam

I just wanted to share with the world what a wonderful father that I have.  He wrote an in memoriam for Chris that was published in the Detroit Free Press today.  It reads:

It has been one year since God called you home.
The hearts that love you are sad.
The tears that cry for you are silent.
The pain of our loss will never leave us.
The tears will never go away.
 The memories will continue on.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One Year

It's been a year since I had to say goodbye to my best friend, partner and husband.  I didn't say goodbye when I had the chance because I truly believed that it would not be goodbye.  It was too soon for goodbyes.  I kept thinking that as soon as the rescue arrived, he would be saved.  Even despite all that I know, I still can't believe that they weren't able to save him.  I somehow think that I failed him by not coming to his side quicker, by not coming home from work earlier.  His life was finally where it was supposed to be, it wasn't supposed to end so soon.  And it wasn't supposed to end so tragically. 

After 12:29am December 9, 2010, there will be no more thoughts of "this time last year we..."  I do that almost every day.  I try to rememeber what we did last year that day, or what we would have been doing.  Then I think, "what would we be doing today if this never happened?"  It makes me sad, but I can't stop it.  I can't turn those thoughts off like a light switch.  He was all that I had, he was everything to me.  When I lost him, I lost everything.  And now, I have to become me again.  The dreaded "widow".

 I miss him with all of my heart and soul.  I never thought that I could love someone as much as I love Chris, I never thought that I could hurt as much as I still do.  I keep remembering only the good things that we shared and try to avoid the "what ifs".  I don't know if it's a good thing or if it's a bad thing to think of what our lives could have been, but I know that we would have been great for a very long time had this horrible thing never happened.  One year ago tonight will have been the last time that I was able to look into his eyes and hold his hand, but it wasn't the last time that I was able to say "I love you".  I will always love him, nobody will be able to take that away from me.  He will always be a part of me.  I am positive that there is an afterlife and that he is waiting for me.  I just hope that he does not have to wait for very long.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What I've Learned

It's been almost a year since that fateful night that took Christopher from me and his loved ones, and there are a few things that I've learned:

  • I've learned exactly what love feels like.
  • I've learned how badly it hurts when that love is ripped away.
  • I've learned that I love Chris just as much today as I did one year ago.  As I did, 2 or even 3 years ago.
  • I've learned how important family really is.
  • I've learned that this world is cruel and definitely not fair.
  • I've learned that some people are very good liars.
  • I've learned that the world is filled with horrible, cruel people.
  • I've learned that there are some wonderful people in this world.
  • I've learned that even the people closest to me will disappoint me on so many different levels.
  • I've learned that my wedding ring is more precious than just a diamond and his is more than a band of gold.
  • I've learned to take plenty of pictures and videos of and with your loved ones.
  • I've learned that the videos of your loved ones "just being" themselves are worth more than all the precious gems in the world.
  • I've learned that when people ask how I'm doing, they really don't want to know the truth.  They only want to hear that I'm OK.
  • I've learned that people really don't care, unless you are "over it".
  • I've learned that most people don't want to talk about him.
  • I've learned that some people thought they were the more important to Chris than they really were.
  • I've learned that I am a survivor.
  • I've learned that people don't always filter their words and will say the most hurtful things without thinking about it.
  • I've learned that people will compare losing a spouse to divorce or even the loss of a pet and think that they have it worse.
  • I've learned that there are way too many "young" widows and widowers.
  • I've learned how to fake my smile, just don't look for it in my eyes...
  • I've even learned how to fake my laugh, just don't look in my eyes...
  • I've learned exactly what true hatred feels like.
  • I've learned that monsters really do exist.
  • I've learned that monsters make very good liars.
  • I've learned that people will believe exactly what they want to believe.
  • I've learned that you actually can wake up screaming in the middle of the night.
  • I've learned that my faith in God is even stronger than I'd imagined.
  • I've learned that people are selfish and do not want me to show my true emotions or cry in front of them.  They are only concerned with their feelings without any regard to mine.
  • I've learned that no matter what I do, or who I am with, I will always love Chris.
  • I've learned that it is OK to date if and when I'm ever ready.
  • I've learned that if I do eventually date someone, I will not love Chris any less.
  • I've learned that Chris will always be a part of my heart and soul.
  • I've learned that my life was so much better with Chris in it.  This world was a much better place with Chris in it.
  • I've learned that it's OK to talk about Chris, I want to talk about Chris.  I love talking about Chris.
  • I've learned that not wanting to live and wanting to die are not the same thing.
  • I've learned that wanting to die and wanting to kill yourself are also not the same thing.
  • I've learned that it really is OK for me to grieve as long as I want to grieve.
  • I've learned that unless you have lost a spouse, you truly do not know the pain that it causes.
  • I've learned that I will never "get over it", or even get better.  Grief and immense sorrow will always be in my heart, I will just learn to live with and around it.
  • I've learned that even though I don't feel strong, I do have some strength.
  • Mostly, I've learned just how precious life and love is and that it can be destroyed without warning and instantaniously. 
Life is short, don't wait until it is too late to live your life.  So, cherish those that you love.  Embrace your family and friends.  Hold on to friends and let go of grudges with those that really matter to you.  Say goodbye to the the bad people in your life.  Create only good memories and learn to forget the bad ones.  I have learned these lessons the hard way.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Avoidance

I actually got some sleep last night.  And no nightmares.  I was still up early, not too early.  But, I think that since one chapter of my life has closed it has lessened the anxiety of the one year mark.  I have been thinking about my future to divert my thoughts away from the events of that day.  I have made plans with friends so that I will not be at work and that I will be busy.  I keep thinking that as long as I can keep myself and my mind occupied, I can avoid the grief monster.  I have been talking about Chris with a couple of friends, I want to talk about him.  I want to remember the happy things, not the sad thing.  I want to be able to smile about him when I remember him.  I still have some moments where I can't believe that it's real, yep even at a year.  But, I'm accepting it more.  It's becoming more of my life and I try my best to avoid all thoughts of him not being around.  Somedays, I can't even look at pictures of him because it reminds me that he's not here.  So, I will continue to look ahead and try to avoid the events that took place December 8 of last year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Live and Learn

I'm in such a good mood today.  I finally got my house back.  The last couple of weeks were horrible.  I decided that it was time to reevaluate my life and where I wanted it to go.  I made my mind up and what I wanted.  (I still want to keep that decision to myself until it comes to fruition.)  So, I had a discussion with the roommate about what I wanted to do with my life and that I wasn't sure when it was going to happen, but before it did happen, I would give K ample notice.  Well, I had made a decision to go ahead with it and when K had a friend stay at my house 4 nights in a row I thought it was a good time to give K notice to vacate.  This is a friend that K told me her husband threatened to kill her, and I asked that this friend not come around anymore.  Well, obviously the friend still came around, I decided that I did not want that drama at my house and that notice would be given. 

The roommate got the notice on a Saturday and waited until the following Monday to approach me.  K was hostile and said "you ruined my life".  Really?  This being said to the woman whose husband was brutally murdered in the very home that you are stating those words????  I just held up my hand and said that it wasn't up for further discussion and decided right then and there that I was making the absolute right decision.  I did not want anyone in my home speaking to me and disrespecting me in that manner.

So, K left the house yesterday without letting me know.  I'm actually ok, more than ok with that given the way that K has treated me the past two and a half weeks (I gave over five weeks notice).  I think that at the end of the day, I can smile when I walk into my home.  I am glad that I have my home back.  The only thing that I was incessed about was that K did not have the decency to let me know and did not give me my keys back until I had to basically beg and threaten to hold K to the end of the lease.  I did K a favor and this is how I am repaid?  I could be angry, I could be snide, I could be any thing else negative.  But, I really am going to wish K well.  I am going to hope that K has a wonderful life and good luck in school.  Yes, I am going to celebrate my freedom tonight, I made a mistake letting someone into my home that did not appreciate the help.  But, we all live and learn.