Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Day After

I've noticed in the past that the day after a holiday can be a bit weird for me.  Especially since I have been together with Joanne, it seems like what would happen is that I would start planning things--like what food I am going to make, how the day is supposed to go, and all that--like a month or more ahead of time.  I would focus on getting everything together, making sure I was all prepared.  The day-of would be a whirlwind while I was doing and making all the stuff I had planned.

And then after all the gifts were opened, all the food was served, there would set in this feeling of, "Okay, now what?"

I think I'm feeling that especially strongly today.  I had made it important to me to make sure this holiday weekend was a tribute to her that I felt proud of, and I think I did that.  Her birthday was good.

But now her birthday is yesterday.  It is in the past.  So now what?
Do I have an answer for that?

Long term, no.  I don't.
Short term, I suppose I do; there is still a house to be cleaned, documents to find and legal-y stuff to take care of.  There is still a German Shepherd who needs me.  Maybe that is good enough to look at the short term right now.  Feed the puppy, do laundry, do dishes.  Look for the car title, start calling places that need called.
And maybe try to remember to take care of me.  I actually set a reminder on my phone for 7:00 pm each night that says "Make sure to take care of yourself."  Sometimes it still doesn't get done.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Birthday

(Note: If I buy a "selfie stick", this will be the reason.
It's impossible not to get my reflection in the picture.)
I have two reasons to honor my love today.  As it is Memorial Day in the US, I honor her for having served as a Captain in the US Air Force, KC-135 pilot in the 340th Air Refueling Wing, 11th Air Refueling Squadron.  She was proud of her service, and I am also proud of what she accomplished during her time in the Air Force, and her determination that allowed her to successfully graduate in the first class of female cadets in the Air Force Academy.  This morning, I went to the columbarium and decorated her niche, and stayed with her for an hour or so.

Today, May 30th, is also her birthday, the first one she isn't here for.  She would have been 58 today.
This is harder, because it's so much more personal.  I decided the best way to honor her birthday would be to go ahead and cook the birthday dinner I had promised her this year, so yesterday I bought a fillet of Copper River salmon.  As of yesterday, I didn't think I would be using the grill, but once I got home today it was such a beautiful day, and I decided I should do it right, the way I would do it if she were here.  So I mowed around the back steps and the concrete landing enough to clear around the grill, and then I grilled the salmon on a cedar plank.

I didn't get too fancy with the sides, just some rice (with salt and black sesame) and some asparagus from a can.  But, that is pretty much the way I would do it if she were here; if you're having cedar-planked Copper River salmon, nothing else on the plate is going to compete with that anyway.  As the finishing touch, I also served her favorite champagne.  I think that was the most emotional part of everything, when I 'popped' her bottle of champagne.  She always loved that, she said it was such a happy sound.

I have every intention of finishing that bottle of champagne for her tonight; it is a holiday after all.  I will be okay, I might just sleep good tonight.  If I made it through that first month without becoming an alcoholic, I think I am probably out of the woods.

All in all, it was a good day, albeit an emotional one.  I am proud of doing what I did today, and while I was eating the dinner, I felt very close to her, as if I could almost hear her tell me how good it was and how proud she was of me for making it.  It sort of makes sense to me; I am a kitchen witch, and my 'spells' are my recipes.  So, what better way to reach across to the other side and be close to her, than to make her favorite food and drink, and eat it at the table next to her altar?  That is what I think, anyway.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Elemental

I am the water
freely flowing
bubbling along

soothing, refreshing
healing
life-giving

but what about when
going with the flow
is wrong?

My world is rocked
waves crash
back and forth
out of control
need to stop the waves
need to hold my ground
but my ground
is not there
to hold.

Water can be strong
Water can be like the ground
But only if it is very cold
frozen

I can be the ice
but being cold is painful too
and the world hates the ice
it chips away at it
tries to break it
melt it

Is this my choice?
Be swept along with the waves
or be the glacier of ice?

Maybe someday the storm will die down
maybe the waves will not crash as hard
and then I can just be the water
freely flowing
bubbling along

Monday, May 23, 2016

Precarious

I thought I was actually doing pretty good today, earlier.  I got up, I got dressed early, made breakfast; I needed to go to Costco so I decided to have lunch at "our" sushi place in town again while I was out and about.  The first time, a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't ready yet and it was just painful to be there without her, not to mention the owners asking about her and I had to let them know she was gone.  But this time was nice; it felt good and there were memories there--it's where I proposed to her, and we were 'regulars' while she was working.  I even ate one of her favorites and told Jo "this one is for you."

Then a string of frustrating stuff all happened more or less at once--at Costco I couldn't find the furnace filters and got bad directions from the first employee I asked before the manager finally showed me where they were, then as I was finishing up there, the fire alarm goes off, and while the fire alarm is going off, my financial advisor's office calls wanting some IRS number nobody has ever mentioned yet, and then I get home and there's an upsetting email...

And suddenly, I'm right back to going on little crying jags and pacing the house and feeling sick to my stomach and yelling at the puppy too much.
It's like I'm in this deep pit, and there's a narrow winding path that looks like it leads up out of it, so I try to walk up the path, but with every little distraction, every little misstep, every little nudge in the wrong direction, suddenly I am picking myself back up off the bottom and starting over again.
"...how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, 'I never realized my loss till this moment'? The same leg is cut off time after time." ― C.S. Lewis

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Incompatible

I think loss can sometimes beget more loss.  I just had to cut the thread to someone I actually liked.  I hate it, because this person is going through her own personal hardship right now, but sometimes things just have to be.

Life can be so complicated, can't it?  Sometimes, there's someone who is honestly a good person, but they just aren't good for you.  Not all good things mix well.
Like, hamburgers are really good.  Ice cream is really good.  Hamburgers with ice cream on top would not be good.
Playing with my German Shepherd Bodie is good.  Going to a glassware store is also good.  I wouldn't dream of trying to do both of those things at the same time, they wouldn't mix well.

I just got home from my wife's inurnment service.  It went very well, by the way.  Her sister was awesome and gave a very moving and emotional goodbye; I stood next to her trying to give her strength, and I think I got strength in return; I was even able to say a few things myself.  The Air Force Honor Guard was a great tribute; they played 'Taps' on the bugle and made me cry my face off.  It was very pretty and just the way Joanne would have wanted it to be if she had planned it herself.

Anyway, during the service, I naturally had my phone set to "Total Silence" mode--there are still some places where noisy smartphones would be totally inappropriate.  It turns out that it was a good thing I did, because sometime during the service I received a private message on Facebook that was one of these chain letter things, basically "pass this on to 14 friends within 10 minutes; if I don't get it back I'll know I'm not a close friend to you".

I just couldn't ignore the insensitivity, since anyone who would be my close friend would know where I was and what I was doing today.  So I replied, telling this person that I was at my wife's service and her message was really offensive to me.  Just as I was getting home, I got a reply back apologizing and saying she "didn't mean to send that to me," which made my decision a little bit harder, but I decided that for my protection, I had to let her go.  It was the second time since Jo's passing that she had inadvertently been very insensitive to me, and I just can't have that right now, it is hard enough--I am broken enough without letting a reckless puppy in to play with the pieces.
"If I cut you off from my life, chances are, you handed me the scissors."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Vampires and Parasites

I feel like I want to stop short of saying "I hate people," so I will just say that I am sometimes reminded that the human species is, by far, the world's most vicious, intelligent, and voracious predator.

I got a personal-looking letter in the mail today (the day before my wife's inurnment service).  I couldn't quite place who the sender was but the name didn't seem totally unfamiliar; I imagined it could be a friend-of-family-friend sort of person.  So, I opened it.

Inside was a form letter that never mentioned me or Jo by name at all, superimposed on a faint picture of some puppies:

"First and most importantly, may I offer my condolences on the passing of your loved one.  I am sincerely sorry for your loss.
The reason I am contacting you is I understand there may be a house available for purchase.  If there is real estate that needs to be sold, I may be able to help.  Please note that I am not a realtor and do not wish to list the property.  I would like to BUY the property.  I understand that losing a loved one is very difficult and the property being sold may not be a priority for the family but taking care of this now will save the estate time and extra estate/sale fees.
I am able to pay cash, settle without contingencies, and close as quickly as you'd like.  I buy the house "as is" so you don't have to worry about repairs or updates.  You can leave unwanted items in the house and you don't even need to clean.
I am available to discuss the details with you and would also be interested in purchasing other items in the home.  If what I do seems like it may help you, please call me at [666-VUL-TURE]."

Firstly, I find myself feeling sorrow for all the people who are too desperate, and too bereaved, not to just be offended by this--who reply and sign up to be, presumably, taken advantage of.  There must be a lot of them, if this can be what she does for a living.
I think it would be less offensive if the letter were businesslike and the name of her home-flipping corporation were on the outside, instead of all this handwritten-envelope and hazy-puppies stuff.  I don't know this person.  Although I do know her kind--a Belmont knows a vampire when she encounters one.

And then, there's just a part of me that is feeling like, you know, it is hard enough to try to push back against the darkness right now, when my star is feeling further away than ever; and then there's this letter that I think might be sympathy from someone who cared about her, but no, it's just a letter from a parasite.
It's like if you were drowning, and then there's a ship, and you think the person on board is throwing you a life preserver, but then they throw you a shark instead.

I won't say I hate people.  But I do hate vampires and parasites.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Adrift

Today, right about now, marks one calendar month since Jo passed away.  Right about now, it is also almost exactly one lunar month since I stood underneath a waxing moon and asked the Goddess of the Moon to watch over her spirit and keep her safe until my spirit can join her.

I feel like, in a lot of ways, I'm not doing as well now as I was then.  Maybe that's not fair to say, since on that night there was a lot of shock and a lot of people around, and other than a miserable drive home after receiving the call from the police, I had had very little chance to feel anything yet.
It really does feel like it is getting harder and not easier, though.  This week was really difficult; the work trip felt all wrong, because there would always be lots of texts and emails and phone calls when we were separated, and this time there wasn't.  Coming home to an empty house on Saturday felt really bad.  Then the internet was down all weekend, which took away my primary sources of communication and entertainment, so mainly, I just sat around and cried a lot.  That might actually surprise people, since I seem not to do that very much when I'm not alone; honestly, I'm not nearly as strong as I probably come across in person.

I really need to figure out what it is I still have left, besides work; I feel like I've lost my connection to basically everything.  Our game doesn't feel right without her; I think I'm feeling committed to seeing the end of the current story arc, but if I haven't re-connected to it in the meantime I will probably need to let it go.  Even cooking is hard; the actual preparing of the food still feels okay, but eating alone without her makes it tough.
Worst, I feel like my spiritual connection has been damaged; I am having trouble finding a connection to the other side right now.  This is especially bad since that is where she is at the moment, and if I could have that back maybe she wouldn't feel so far away, maybe it wouldn't feel so empty to talk to her.
I'm telling myself that it is probably just the grief that is blocking all those things, and with time I will find my way again.  It will probably have to be a new way, since I had intertwined my way with hers so completely, but I will find it eventually.  Maybe a month is really just not that long when it comes to these things.

One thing I have noticed about myself, which is probably not doing me any favors, is that the worse I am feeling, the harder it is for me to actually reach out to someone.  I guess that is something that Jo and I had in common, that wish to never be a burden for anyone.  I don't do it on purpose, it is just hard.  Like, even if I decide who it is I would want to talk to, I never seem to get past the part where I figure out what I would say if I called.  I guess until I figure that part out, writing will help; I can get some stuff out, and nobody has to be obligated--'burdened'--to respond.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

On Second Sight

The more I think on things, the more I convince myself that she knew it was her time.

In our relationship, while I was the Healer, she was definitely the Seer.  Despite not going quite as far as identifying as Pagan with me (she would always shun the label, and just say that she was "spiritual" and not "religious"), and despite that I was the one who would read Tarot for us (or at least try to), I realized early on in our life together that her Second Sight was much more keen than mine.

I learned to trust her feelings on timing, like when to leave for work:  She would occasionally pressure me to leave for work very early, like over 30 minutes earlier than I would usually need to.  I would do it, and without fail there would be some sort of traffic snarl that usually hadn't even happened yet when she got her 'feeling', and I would be the only one to get there on time.
I learned to trust her feelings on the weather; sometimes she would make me carry an umbrella to walk the dog, even though the sun was shining, only for there to be an unforecasted rain shower while I was out.
She always just knew.  She would be apologetic, saying she knew she was just being weird, but she just had a feeling and better to be safe than sorry.

So then, when I think on our life together, I think of how, about three years ago, she suddenly became insistent that we needed to be married right away, and she needed to get copies of her birth certificate and her military discharge papers.  She started talking about how we should get to an attorney so we could make wills, which unfortunately we never did.
And it seems like it was also along about that time where she started always wanting to make sure we had as much time together as we could possibly have.  When I was planning a shopping trip, she would ask if there was anything I had to get that day, or if I could wait and just stay home with her.  If I started cleaning the house, she would tell me I could do that stuff later, and she wanted me to come sit with her instead of working.  She even stopped wanting to sleep in in the mornings even though her insomnia during the night was as bad as ever; she wanted to get up so I would come out and be with her.  She wanted every last moment she could have, as if she knew there weren't going to be enough of them.

And if it were true that she had a premonition and knew her time was near, I think she would have acted exactly the way she did.  I think she wouldn't have told me, because she would know that would change things; she wouldn't have wanted me to put her in a hospital to try to save her, because that would mean less time at home together, and she would have wanted me to be happy; maybe she even had a 'feeling' it wouldn't change anything.  She wouldn't have wanted me to be upset during the small amount of time we had, she would have wanted us to be happy together as long as she was here, and have as many happy moments as we could possibly have.  And that is what happened.

In a way, it is kind of a comfort.  It means I don't have to keep beating myself up over all the things I might have neglected, or all the things I could have, should have done.  Because if I think she knew, and if I think she faced it exactly the way she wanted to, then how can I tell myself I should have taken that away from her?