**BIG SIGH** I realized as I was at the hair salon today that you’ve actually died 83 days ago and not 76! It was only when the hair stylist said it’s almost 90 days since you passed that it occurred to me, oh crap?! How can it already be almost 90 days since you passed, if yesterday I only counted 76 days!! This is what I call widow’s brain! Okay, fine, I couldn’t do simple arithmetic even when you were alive but there’s been a lot of other things that I can barely remember to do or need to put a lot of thought into before doing it. After you passed, it was a complete haze for me. It was so foggy, I couldn’t see anything around me. I couldn’t even remember if I ate, brushed my teeth, washed my face, or took a shower. Even simple things took a long time for me to do. Things that would normally take me 5-10 minutes before was taking more like 15-20 minutes now. When I started taking care of the babies again on my own, I had to keep a notepad with check marks to remember whether I gave Sasha her drops or not. I couldn’t remember simple things like Thursday is trash day and whether I fed the dogs or not (as you know, the cats never miss a meal, they will remind me when it’s feeding time but not the dogs). When I was getting the new home and auto insurance, I couldn’t even remember that the lady was supposed to send me an application to sign until I got an email from the mortgage company requesting a copy of the new homeowner’s insurance. But when I followed up with the insurance lady, she was waiting for me to send her additional information before she could complete the application. I even wrote checks with two different amounts on the same check. I would write one amount in numbers in the box but write out a completely different amount on the line to write it out in words. I even had a check get returned that I deposited because I forgot to endorse it (only an insurance company would return a check because it wasn’t endorsed!!) It’s a good thing all our bills are on auto-pay!! I might have some problems paying bills on time and correctly otherwise. And you know me, I’m always on top of this stuff, but I was so absent-minded, I would probably forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on. Even when I started working again, I was afraid I would forget to do certain things, so I started printing out emails and taking copious notes on all the actions I needed to complete. I couldn’t rely on my mind anymore--it was preoccupied and absent.
Anyways babe, I cut my hair! I would usually come home from the hair salon and wait to see if you notice I cut my hair. By the end of the day, I would say, “Do you like my new haircut?!” And you would say, “You cut your hair?!” And I would give you my death stare and say, “I chopped off 12” of my hair today, babe!” And you would say, “Oh, you did?! I didn’t even notice!” Yup, that’s right, you never notice that I cut my hair, even when it’s 12” shorter!! Husbands?! Go figure!! Anyways, you know how I always chop off my hair every couple of years to donate to Locks of Love. I never told you this, but the first time I chopped off my hair and donated it to Locks of Love was when we broke up for that year--probably after I finished binge watching Six Feet Under. That break-up was hard for me, it was probably the worst break-up I’ve ever had, so it took me awhile to recover from it. When I finally found the strength and courage to get on with life, I felt like I needed a big change to symbolize this decision, so I decided to chop off my hair. I think I read somewhere when a woman makes a drastic change to her hair, it symbolizes that she is about to make some big decisions or changes in her life. So, I figure I give it a try. After I chopped off my hair, I felt so liberated and free, and when I donated the hair to Locks of Love, it felt so empowering. So, I decided to make it part of my routine every few years to serve as a reminder that when life gives me lemons, I can throw it back and ask for a margarita instead!
P.S. I’ve been thinking a lot lately that I might be ready to take off my wedding ring soon. Not because I’m ready to say goodbye to you forever or that I’m ready to start dating or anything like that. I just feel like wearing the wedding ring is a lie. I’m lying to the world that I’m happily married and my husband is still alive. Like how I had to tell my hairstylist today that you died when he asked, “Do you guys want kids?!” I only see him one or twice a year, so I didn’t think it was necessary to tell him, “Oh BTW, my husband died.” But when we started chit chatting and one of his client’s daughter (elementary school age) comes to sweep up hair for a few bucks, he was telling me how great it was that she was willing to earn her own money at such a young age. Then he asked, “Do you guys want kids?!” He knows we don’t have kids, so I thought to myself, I can pretend you were still alive and just say, “No, we don’t want kids,” or I could be honest and say, “Actually, my husband died about three months ago, but we didn’t want kids.” Let’s just say, it was an awkward hair cutting session after that. And you know me, I’m a terrible liar--it contradicts with my entire being. I’m an open book; you get what you see. So, I prefer to be open and honest about who I am. I can never pretend to be anybody that I am not. And right now, I’m not someone who has a husband anymore. I’m a widow and I have to start owning it.
A letter from the coroner’s office came in the mail today. I was freaking out a bit and wasn’t sure if I should open it by myself or not, but of course you know me! I couldn’t help myself, so I ripped it open expecting it to be your autopsy report, but instead, it was a letter letting me know they have your iPhone, and I need to go pick it up or else they will dispose of it. Well, at least I know where your iPhone is--been looking for it since you passed, so I could give it to your dad. (He always joked that it was time for you to upgrade so he could have your phone.) Yup, you guessed it, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Whew, crisis averted.” I thought I was going to have a major meltdown and not be able to get on the plane to Hong Kong on Sunday. (Yup, I’m going to China and Hong Kong again on Sunday for a week.) I thought it was a little ironic since I was just talking about how the Mandy Moore character in This is Us was driving with a small clear plastic bag of her husband’s personal belongings in the passenger seat of their car yesterday, and I get a letter from the coroner’s office today about collecting your personal belongings. Like I said yesterday, it always seems better laid out and organized in the movie. She seemed to have gotten her husband’s personal belongings really quick while it literally took me three months to just get a letter letting me know they have your belongings. I’m glad you weren’t wearing your buddha and wedding ring that morning, or else I would have lost my mind trying to find it all this time and not knowing it was just sitting in the evidence room at the coroner’s office. And the letter states, “In this moment of anguish, the last thing we wish to do is intrude on your privacy.” Honestly, someone needs to write a letter to the coroner’s office that grieving loved ones shouldn’t have to wait almost three months to find out they have their deceased loved one's personal belongings. What if it was something that was important like a wedding ring or buddha that the surviving wife needs to find her sanity and feel connected to her dead husband. I even asked the funeral home whether you had a bag of personal belongings when they picked you up from the coroner. They said they did, but it only contained the clothes you wore that day and no valuables. So, I just assumed your iPhone was lost or stolen in no man’s land since I wasn’t able to find it in the house, and it wasn’t in your bag of personal belongings from the coroner’s office. Well, at least the mystery is solved. Now, I just have to figure out your password or how I can unlock it!!
Anyways babe, I feel like these last couple of weeks have been hard for me and I’ve been struggling. I constantly feel like grief is knocking at my door and I’m trying to ignore it in hopes that it will go away, but it hasn’t. I thought I was doing better, so I couldn’t understand why I was starting to feel so sad and anxious all the time. So, I guess I started “escaping,” as my therapist would call it, and drowning my sorrows by binge watching TV and drinking juice. It was my way of trying to ignore or block the pain and grief, so I wouldn't have to process or reflect on it. Grief continues to be that unwanted house guest that doesn’t know it has outstayed its welcome. Part of the struggle was the feeling that I was regressing on this journey (you know how I get when I feel like I'm moving backwards instead of forward--yup, it drives me even crazier than standing still. I would will myself to keep going forward or not move at all, and if sheer 'will' doesn't work, then I force myself to at all cost). This was definitely not the journey I would ever allow myself to go backward on--no way Jose! But I’ve come to realize (with the help of my therapist) that I'm not moving backward or regressing, it’s just time to start moving to the next step on this journey, accepting you aren’t coming home ever again. I've said goodbye, but I haven't said goodbye forever. Just the mere thought of this makes my heart race, tears start streaming down my cheeks, I start to panic, and get anxiety, kinda like how I felt the first week you passed. Hence the feeling that I was regressing; why was I feeling like I did on Day 1 when its Day 76 (I'm not keeping track of the days in my head, babe, so don't worry. I just went to the calendar right now and counted the days), so instead of processing and reflecting on what it meant, I freaked out, pushed it to the side, and closed my eyes so I would have to see or deal with it (yes, I know, like I normally do when something new and / or unknown comes along that I don't understand or scares me S***less. I know what you're thinking, "SY being SY again!" and then you would laugh at me when I refuse to admit you're right.) Anyways babe, who would willingly welcome grief back into their life with open arms?! Definitely, not me. I barely survived the first time, why would I want to go through it a second time, especially when I can feel that the second time around is going to be even harder and worst than the first time.
I keep telling myself that I’ve barely scratched the surface and that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but I keep wanting to believe that my pain and grief can’t go any deeper while I’m racing to the finish line as fast as I can so this journey can end and finally be over. But, grief keeps knocking me down, and it continues to win each time we battle. Okay fine, I'll admit that I haven’t written as much lately because I’m not ready to say goodbye forever. Okay fine, the truth is I'm scared to say goodbye forever. How can I say goodbye forever to the love of my life; to the one person that knows my soul inside and out, better than I know myself. The only way I’ve been hanging on to my sanity and functioning is believing that you’ll be coming home from your business trip soon. If this is taken away from me, I don’t think I could breathe or survive--I will probably go back to my crazy lady rants and never come out of it. Going back to my crazy lady rant scares the S*** out of me, but my therapist says I need to start confronting it or it will haunt me (Okay, she didn't say it like that, but that's how I'm interpreting it). I have to start forging a life and routine that doesn't involve you. Currently, I'm just camping out on the side of the road where it forks between hope and acceptance since I'm still doing everything the same just without you. I'm not trying to establish new routines that doesn't involve you. I haven't gone through your things, and I continue to grow more and more comfortable with them around since having your things around make me feel that you'll be coming home soon--even your dirty laundry from when you were alive is still where you left it. When I look at your dirty laundry, I always tell myself to wash them so I can donate your stuff, but they're still there, exactly where you left them. My therapist wants me to start small (baby steps) by getting rid of one thing that belongs to you each day. Well you know me babe, I don't do anything small or in baby steps, it's all or none!! So, this will be a hard homework assignment. It's a good thing I'm leaving for China tomorrow. That was my excuse, I can't start until I come back. But she insisted that I start before I leave. Well, I'm a procrastinator, so nothing has happened yet. But honestly, I’ve been giving away your stuff to people mentally since you passed, I just haven't actually given anything to anybody for reals yet. For example:
So, my mind knows you aren’t coming home, and it starting putting imaginary post-it notes on your stuff that I’ve mentally given away, but alas, my heart keeps me from actually giving it away since you’re coming home soon, right?!
Anyways babe, I’m going to take a page out of your playbook and retreat into the mancave (or the lady’s nest in my case). Escaping by binge watching TV and drinking juice isn't a bad thing. I'm just not ready to say goodbye forever yet. So, for right now, I'll continue camping on the side of the road at the fork and ignoring grief when it's pounding at my door. (Did I tell you?! I'm camping in an airstream; maybe that would entice you to come home now!!) Anyways, I think I deserve a break from all this processing and reflecting. It's a journey, a marathon, and sometimes, you just have to stop and smell the roses. Why rush the process when you are happy where you are. Let's see how long smelling the roses last before grief finally breaks down my door and hits me like a ton of bricks. So wish me luck!! I love and miss you so much!!
P.S. You know you can come home whenever you want, right? I'm not quite sure what's taking you so long to come home. I might have to start looking for the S 2.0 I keep talking about if you don't come home soon!! (Yes, I know, threatening you never works!!)
Hey Babe -
It’s been a few days since I’ve written, I guess being functional at work and trying to escape one’s feelings and emotions takes a lot of time and energy! I’ve been binge watching This is Us. I’ve been meaning to ask you to set-up a recording for this show but I kept forgetting, so now I’m streaming on hulu. Anyways, a few people have told me to watch it since you passed, I guess the husband dies in the show (maybe something I could relate to or use to find some meaning or purpose from). The first episode of the second season was when the show finally alludes to the husband’s death in a big way--all they showed was the wife (Mandy Moore) driving from the hospital (maybe?!) by herself with a small, clear plastic bag of her husband’s personal belongings, which included his wedding ring, on the passenger seat. When she got home, she screams inside the car as they pan out and showed their home had burned down. First and foremost, I don’t even know how she drove herself home; I was in no condition to drive myself home from the hospital, let alone speak or utter anything coherent. She screamed when she got to the front of the house, I screamed before YA could even turn into our street. I couldn’t even walk into our home; YA literally had to drag me inside the house. When I got home, it occurred to me, I never got a bag of your personal belongings, so I freaked out because I wanted to make sure I got your wedding ring back. I guess it’s always better laid out and more logically organized when it’s in a movie! When she screamed, I felt my heart racing; beating like it was going to pop out of my chest. I know that scream and all the pain and grief that comes with it. (BTW, I never told you, when I had brunch with your family last Sunday, a lady runs out of the restaurant whaling at the top of her lungs. At first, we thought maybe somebody broke up with her, but a few moments later, we all grew quiet and realize that we recognize the intense pain and grief behind that whaling. We all knew it too well--so well that we wished we could forget it and never have to know it ever again. Yup, you guessed it, brunch ended for us and we all decided it was time to go home--good thing we were already done eating!!)
When we broke up for that year, I wasn’t working since I was a teacher and it was summer, so I ended up binge watching the entire series of Six Feet Under. Sounds morbid, but actually, it was very therapeutic and healing by the time I finished the entire series. The song at the end by Sia, “Breathe Me,” became my anthem during that break up. (Kinda like how “Rewrite the Stars” is my anthem for your death!) I’m hoping that binge watching This is Us can help me heal and / or process like Six Feet Under did when we broke up, but come to find out, per my therapist, I guess binge watching TV is just an “escape” mechanism for me. It’s the “distraction” that people keep saying is good. Work is not a distraction because it’s a necessity but binge watching TV is a choice. I choose it over doing other things I would normally do when I’m home. Some people drink alcohol to numb the pain, I guess I binge watch TV and drink juice, so I don't have to think about or process anything. Instead, I'm using it as a substitute for the time I would normally write to you (which is my time to process and reflect on my journey and grief). (Yeah, I started drinking a lot of juice again--it’s like I’ve relapsed on sugary drinks!)
I’ve more or less stopped crying in the car and at home. I don’t feel an intense pain or sadness when I think about you anymore. I’m not numb or blah either when I think about you--it’s more or less like I’m indifferent. If anything, I feel like I've entered the hopeless and helpless stage of my journey. My therapist feels that I’ve processed and accepted that you are gone. I guess I can check that step off my list of the grief process. So, what’s next?!
In my mind, escaping is better than being imprisoned or paralyzed by my fears and emotions (I’m sure my therapist would begs to differ). I know, I just said I wasn’t feeling the intense pain and sadness anymore, then how can I be imprisoned or paralyzed by my fears and emotions?! Well babe, it’s the battle I’ve been telling you about; where I’m at the crossroads between hope (my heart) and acceptance (my mind). This battle has been raging on inside of me for awhile now, and while I’m waiting to see who wins, I’ve parked an airstream at the fork in the road and started binge watching TV and drinking juice until I figure out which road I’m supposed to take next. The only thing that keeps me sane and from unraveling is the hope that you’ll be coming home from your business trip soon. My heart can stay at the fork in the road forever, but can my mind do it?! My heart knows that you’re gone, but it hasn’t realize that you’ll never be coming home. My mind knows that you’re gone and that you’ll never be coming home again, but the mere thought of embarking on that road toward acceptance makes my heart race and beat uncontrollably and I get scared and I start panicking I get anxious and paralyzed by the fear of having to relive all the pain and anguish I felt shortly after you passed. I’m barely hanging on to the thin thread of sanity I have right now, so I don’t think I can deal with another traumatic experience of having to accept that you’re never coming home without losing my mind and unraveling into my crazy lady rants again. Not only do I not have time for another mental breakdown, but I don’t know if I could survive another mental breakdown. It’s a good thing I’m in an airstream and not a tent!! Who knows how long this battle will rage on. Right now the clear winner via knock out is hope (my heart). Hope is the only thing that keeps me sane and functional, but it's doesn't enable me to find joy and / or live life fully because I'm stuck at the fork in the road (it's like being stuck in purgatory babe!!--neither living nor dead).
When you passed, I didn’t have a say or any control over the situation. So, processing the pain and grief from your death wasn’t a choice--it was a necessity; it was survival of the fittest. I had to confront it head on or have it consumed me. I chose to confront it head-on, so it couldn't consume or define me. But accepting that you will never come home is a choice. It’s neither a necessity nor survival of the fittest. I control whether I want to accept it or not, and right now, I don’t want to accept it. I can’t accept it. I’m not ready to accept it. I’m scared to accept it. The mere thought of having to accept your death gives me anxiety and scares the S*** out of me. I was fearless before you died. I could do anything. I never let fear be the boundary of my actions, but now, I’m constantly surrounded and paralyzed by fear. Fear motivates everything I do or don’t do now. Fear consumes me, and it makes parking my airstream at the fork in the road the most comfortable decision; even if it’s not the most rational decision.
I miss you a lot these last few days. After your dad left, it felt like I lost you all over again since hanging out with him was like hanging out with you (except I couldn’t talk back or tell him what to do considering he’s your dad!!) It was like I was looking into a crystal ball and seeing what my future would be like if you were still here with me. A future that I took for granted since I always thought it was guaranteed. Anytime we visited a place that was retirement-worthy, I would say, “Babe, let’s retire here!” You would usually say, “No,” to all my suggestions except for Belize. That was the only destination you were open to retiring in. Most of the time when I ask you, “Let’s retire here?!” You would usually respond with, “I want to retire where I’m living now! Why do we have to go anywhere else!” I always thought we would grow old together, and I would have all the time in the world to talk you into moving somewhere tropical when we retire. It never once crossed my mind that we would never grow old together. I always planned for everything, but I never planned for this.
These last few days, I’ve been struggling with what the therapist said about being more “vulnerable.” I don’t even know what that mean? I thought I was being vulnerable?! Yes Babe, of course I googled the meaning of vulnerable. The best definition I was able to find is below from the urban dictionary:
“Someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul.”
I’ve always thought I was being vulnerable through this entire grieving process. I let myself cry when I needed to (of course never at work and usually when I’m alone in the car or at home). I took a month off work to process and reflect on my pain and grief, but after a month of laying in bed, crying, and feeling sorry for myself, I was exhausted and ready to go back to work. When I was scared to stay home alone overnight, I always made sure I had a ‘babysitter’ with me at all times (I’m sure you know, it wasn’t easy for me to admit that I was scared to be home alone, but I swallowed my pride, and I asked for help). I’ve pour my heart and soul into document my journey on the blog to help process my pain and grief while also staying connected with you and keeping our family and friends updated on my well-being. So, I don’t get what I’m missing in the vulnerability department? I think vulnerability can come in many different forms and degree--even if I’m not crying in front of people and / or sharing my deepest, darkest secrets and fears with others--it doesn't mean I’m not vulnerable. Vulnerability should also be defined as person’s ability to step outside of one’s comfort zone. (Yes, can you believe I have secrets and fears that runs deeper than what I’ve shared thus far?! There are secrets and fears that are locked so deep inside my heart that I’m too scared to unlock it.)
My therapist asked, “What happens when you stop moving?” Why would I want to stop moving?? I thought the point was to keep moving and forging forward. Yeah, so what if my emotions and feelings are shut off when I’m moving and forging forward?! What can I say?! I’m great at compartmentalizing! Anyways, nobody is willing to become a hostage without a fight, if they can help it. So, why would I stop moving and not fight the pain and grief that is constantly trying to terrorize and immobile me. If I stop moving, my pain and grief would imprison me and hold me hostage. I would be paralyzed. I wouldn’t be able to breathe or function. I would just stand still in agony as the world continues to move and pass me by. So, why would I stop moving if all I have to look forward to is imprisonment and captivity?! Why would I want to stand still and be terrorized and immobilized by the pain and grief that permeates my heart and soul? My survival depends on my ability to continue fighting and moving, even if it means I have to ignore and push the pain and grief aside to do it. Why wouldn’t I want to keep moving?? Why wouldn’t I want to keep fighting so I can survive?? Why do I need to stand still and try to find the key to unlock the deepest, darkest secrets and fears hidden inside my heart?? Do I really need to know and understand how deep the pain and grief inside my heart and soul can really go? Is it really that important?! Just the mere thought of trying to discover the pain and grief that lays deep and dormant in my heart scares the S*** out of me! So, yes, I rather just ignore the pain and grief and push it aside. Constantly thinking you are on a business trip helps me to manage and control the pain and grief. It allows me to keep moving forward and break the shackles that constantly wants to imprison and immobilize me. So Babe, just keep staying on your business trip for as long as you need.
I love and miss you immensely.
I thought it was time to revisit some of the questions I had previously to reflect and see if I’ve made any progress down on this journey, so my answers are in red (when I was a teacher, they said using red ink is bad since it has a negative connotation, but I like it because it stands out). Let’s see where I stand today vs a few months ago. I wonder if I’ve made any progress?! 🤔🤔🤔
I had therapy session today. I think my therapist is worried about me again! She feels like I’m moving too fast--forgetting it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Slowing down isn’t an option, it’s too hard and painful, so I just keep moving; forging ahead at full speed, wanting to get to whatever destination I’m supposed to arrive at. It’s like racing towards the future so I know what it holds; kinda like I’m 20-something again. I’m sure, over time, I will figure the right balance between forging forward and slowing down to let the emotions in. It’s like your dad said, “You have to feel the pain to get through it.” Sometimes, I wonder, how much deeper can the pain and grief go? But, I guess I will only know when I hit rock bottom. Most of the time, I feel like this must be it; rock bottom, but only to realize, I’m not even close. I keep forgetting that I’ve barely scratched the surface. I don’t know if I’m forging forward so fast so I don’t feel the pain or if this is the only speed I know. After you passed, I didn’t think I could even breathe again, let alone function. Now that I’m functioning, I wonder if I’m actually living or am I just moving to keep moving? I guess that’s something I have to figure out over time.
For me, the hardest part is not feeling connected to anyone anymore. Nobody to talk to when I come home. Nobody to share my stories with. Nobody to laugh and hang out with. Nobody to make fun of me. Nobody to wipe away my tears. Nobody to hold my hand or kiss me goodnight. Nobody to say “I love you” to. But, I can’t even think about these things, because if I do, then it might just be real that you’re never coming home, and that would be too much for my heart to bear. So, I do what I know how to do, move forward until one day the pain and sadness that once resided in my heart is no longer there (at least that is the plan). 🤞🏽🤞🏽
Hey Babe -
So, I started watching TV again--like sitting in the living room and watching some of our shows by myself. There were a few shows that got deleted, and I thought you watched them without me and then deleted them, but later I realized the DVR probably auto deleted older recordings since it was full and needed to make room for new recordings since I hadn't watched much TV in the last couple of months. Yes, I was annoyed and cursed you a few times under my breath until it occurred to me that it must be the DVR auto deleting shows to make space. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear you saying, “SY, you always blame me for everything!!” (Some of the shows that were deleted came on after you passed, so unless your spirit deleted it, it was plausible that the DVR auto deleted it! I guess you escape blame this time!!)
You know how I always cry at the drop of a dime when I’m watching movies and shows?! You called me 'waterworks.' When a tear jerker scene is about to come on, you watch me instead of the TV to see how I would react. When I start balling, you would give me that smile of yours and say, “It's waterworks time!” Although you found it endearing, it never stopped you from making fun of me though! You’d always say, “I’ve never met anybody who cries at everything she watches." Fine!! I’ll tell everybody that I cried watching Kung Fu Panda!! Are you happy now?! (I know you're laughing in that boisterous laughter of yours right now!! You loved it when you have me cornered.) Since I wasn’t watching a lot of TV in the living room, to occupy my evenings (besides writing you), I started watching Netflix on my laptop in bed (our bedroom has been my safe haven since you passed, it’s the one room where we just sleep in and don’t really hang out in--so, it was my safe space). I started watching a lot of movies on grief. I know, I’m a glutton for punishment!! (I actually had to look up that phrase, so I could get it right since you aren’t here to correct me anymore. Yes, I know, I’m like Ziva from NCIS, since I always butcher these phrases like she does on the show). Anyways, one of the movies I started watching was about a widow, and 10 mins into the movie when she finds her husband’s lifeless body, I had to stop. It was too much, too soon. I ended up watching a few movies about the grief of losing a father. But, in actuality, grief is everywhere in all the shows we watch, and it happens everyday and to everybody; nobody is immune to it. I guess, it just never hit as hard as it does now. Even though I cry all the time when I’m watching shows and movies, it hits me differently now. Now, when I see grief on TV, I can feel their pain in my heart and stomach. I know firsthand, the pain and sadness they feel. One of the movies I watched was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a story about a husband and father who dies in the world trade center on September 11th. The focal storyline of the movie was how the son deals with the grief of losing his father, but indirectly the movie also subtly touched on the wife's grief of losing her husband. There was a scene where the wife (Sandra Bullock) is crying hysterically. It was probably only 30 seconds long, but in that instance, I could feel the depth of her pain and sadness. I felt it in my heart and in my gut. I knew the thoughts that were racing through her mind. How helpless and hopeless she felt. How, even after a year, she was still in shock and disbelief that this was her story--that this was her life. I was riding the roller coaster with her, and I felt every emotion she felt, even though the scene was only 30 seconds long. This was an experience I wish I didn’t know anything about. Even watching patients die on Grey’s Anatomy hits me differently and harder now. (Talking about Grey’s Anatomy, there’s a spin-off called Station 19 with Villa from Rosewood. Villa is the new Shondra Rhimes’ heroine--I wonder if it will be good or not. I think it’s something you would watch even though it’s a Grey’s Anatomy spin-off because of Villa! I wonder if they will bring Morris Chestnut on the show--you know, I would be hooked on phonics then!! I even figured out how to set the DVR to record the show since that was something you always did. This was the first time in the 14+ years we’ve been together that I set a recording on the DVR! You’d be proud!!) Anyways, come to think of it, even Disney movies depict death; like the The Lion King and the new Pixar movie CoCo. Death is everywhere, it’s even in cartoons. It’s inevitable like the monk said. But, when I see it now, it hits me differently, and I feel it so much deeper than I ever did before. (I was finally able to finish watching or should I say, I was finally able to watch the widow movie that I started with Annette Bening called the Face of Love while I was in China--where grief was non-existent for me. Where I didn't feel the pain and sadness so deeply that I was able to get through the movie.)
I feel like watching these movies on grief helps me process my own pain and sadness from another's perspective. Talking with your dad these last few days have helped as well. He said some things that hits home and helps to reinforce what the therapist said, “It doesn’t get better. It’s just different.” Maybe I’ll never get over your death, and you’ll be on a perpetual business trip for the rest of my life, and that’s okay too. I don’t have to get over your death or have all the answers to continue living and moving forward with life. I just have to keep moving and go wherever the journey takes me. I just have to keep smiling because it happened and continue dancing in the rain. We can’t choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we deal with it.
I was looking out the window, and the sky looked so ominous, covered in a thick layer of clouds, but there was a sliver of a light pinkish orangey light shining upward through a section of the clouds. You were probably trying to get my attention to say hi and tell me to stop working so we can chat. (Like how you always tell me to stop whatever I was doing to come hang out with you and watch TV. Your famous line was, “Babe, come watch TV with me.”) Anyways, I had a serious migraine last night and couldn’t fall asleep, so I decided to work from home today since I was tired from lack of sleep. I was so productive at work today--it’s amazing what you can accomplished with no distractions.
I was discussing the blog with your cousin RJ on the phone tonight. He said, “You’re blowin’ him up!” Well, of course, I had ask what the heck that meant (as you know my urban vocabulary is very weak and non-existant). He says, “You write so highly of him; it's like he was the perfect husband?!” 😂😂😂 I was cracking up so hard and responded with, “He was far from perfect, but that’s what happens when the love of your life dies, you want him back so badly that you forget he had faults and pet peeves that drove you crazy!!” Yup babe, you heard it right. I want you back so badly that I’ll even deal with all your annoying faults and pet peeves, and I promise to never ever complain about any of them ever again. So, will you come home now?! I’ll even tell you that your feet don’t stink (even tho they do big time). I always hated it when put your feet near me. I would shriek, “Your feet stinks!! Get them away from me!!” And you would say, “SY don’t lie, no they don’t!!” And instead of moving your feet far away from me, you would bring them closer to me and even try to put them up to my nose!! (I think you liked to torture me with those stinky feet of yours!!) You also liked to pull the blanket in the middle of the night so you could roll yourself into a burrito. I would wake up blanket-less and cold in the middle of the night!! AND, you had the nerve to say to me in the morning, “Babe, you took all the blanket! I was cold all night!!” I’m sure I just gave you one of my death stares since the only person that was out in the cold was ME!!! Oh, and your moodiness--most people don’t realize how moody you are, but you were very moody (even Pebbles takes after you in the moodiness department). I don’t think this blog entry would be long enough for me to talk about all the things you did or didn’t do that annoyed or irked me, so we'll just leave it for now. 😜😆😝😛
I remember when I was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Option B, I was thinking the same thing, “Was their marriage really that great?!” Bottomline, nobody’s marriage is that great or perfect. Marriage is hard; it takes a lot of work. It can be amazing and beautiful, but it can also suck the life out of you. Most of the time, it’s both at the same time. 😆😝😜 It takes a lot of patience, understanding, respect, and a whole slew of other things to make it work and last. Sometimes, you’re both in sync and everything's great! Other times, it’s like you’re from completely different planets that don’t speak a shared or common language. It’s like you’re talking until you’re blue in the face and still don’t understand each other. Our marriage was definitely not perfect, and it took a lot of work. We loved each other a lot and had lots of happiness and laughter in our home, but we also took each other for granted. We had communication issues, and sometimes we yelled and screamed at each other when we were mad (okay fine, I did most of the yelling while you just listened!)
I’ve come to learn that love alone isn’t enough to make a marriage work, but on the flip side, love isn’t even necessary to make a marriage work or last. There are lots of people who get married for different reasons that have nothing to do with love. For us, love was the crazy glue that bound us together when life got REAL and S*** hits the fan!! Love is what makes you hold onto the good memories while the bad ones fade. Since you passed, all I can think about are all the things I love and miss about you and all the happy moments and memories we’ve shared together. I rarely barely think about any of the annoying things you did or didn’t do. If anything, I even miss all the annoying things you did or didn’t do. I want them all back; all the good and bad memories we’ve shared together because isn’t that what life is all about?! You can’t have the peaks without the valley. You can’t have the rainbows without the rain. I like how Dolly Parton puts it, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
Babe, you’re far from perfect, but you were perfect for me. ❤️❤️😘😘
I can hear you saying, “SY, I told you, no one is allowed in my man room!!!” But Babe, it’s your dad!! He enjoys hanging in the man room with you. (Still haven’t moved you to your permanent location yet.) He’s been keeping his newly widowed DIL company since Sunday evening. (Yeah, he finally decided to stay with us after all the years of asking him!) It’s like living with you--he walks in and sits in your ‘throne’ like he owned it! He can sit and watch TV all day long like someone else I know. The doggies have really enjoyed his company as well (I think they think it’s you by the way they interact with him!) When I came home from work on Monday, I find him sitting on the chaise in your man room like you do with your ankles crossed--it was very surreal. Then he wanted to go down the street to the market to buy a few things--soda, cookies, and trail mix. (Doesn’t this all sound so familiar?!) 😂😂😂 I told him that you already have all those snacks at home and he says, “I like this specific brand.” (Yeah, of course I’m not going to argue with your dad!) When we get home, I show him all the snacks you still have in the pantry that are the exact same ones he purchased (yes, even the same brand!) I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It’s like my future has arrived--except now it’s a future that will be unrealize.
You don’t know how many times I‘ve said, “You’re just like S!” Of course he says, “No, S is me!” I laugh and say, “You’re right! You are the original and S is just the carbon copy!!” You know how I always tell you I’m going to find a S 2.0 whenever you do anything that irks or annoys me? Hanging with your dad is like hanging with the original version (maybe even the proto version if you’re the original 1.0 version). He drove your car today and complained about how dirty it was!! He said he couldn’t believe it. I said it was probably a product of being with me for so long (since I only wash my car like once a year, if it’s lucky)!! He said keeping your car sparkling clean should run in your blood!! In your dad’s eyes, you went down to S .5 whereas in my eyes, you’ve upgraded to Sean 1.5!! I remember how you would spend the weekend washing all the cars religiously. You even got mad at me when I didn’t notice that my car was magically sparkling clean, and you would say to me a few days later, "Ummm, you're welcome!" and I would say, "For what?!" and you would say annoyingly, "Didn't you notice that your car is clean?!" and I would say, "It is?! I didn't even notice!" 😂😂😂 But come to think about it, I do remember walking pass my car a few times in the parking lot since I didn't recognize it. I knew there was something different about it, but I just couldn't put my finger on it!! Now, I know, it was because it was clean!! 😜😆😝 (Look Babe, it’s like how you never notice I chopped off 15” of my hair--same thing!!) But over time, keeping your car sparkling clean and your appearances became less important to you (not sure what caused this philosophical shift for you, but you’ve changed a lot over the last few years). You never left the house until you were put together from head to toe; everything from your hat to your watch and down to your shoes had to match--even if you were just swearing sweats and a t-shirt. But lately, you didn’t care as much if you went out into the world looking haggard (haggard for your standards, but it was still put together for most people). I remember a time where I said, “You’re going out like that?” And you said, “Yeah, why not?!” I responded with, “But you don’t match.” That’s something you usually say to me, not the other way around. I even remember one time when your Aunt MH said, “You thought you married a 'player,' but instead you got someone who is 'played out'!!” 😂😜😝😆 (You didn't appreciate the comment, but I thought it was hilarious when she said it!) But in all honesty, I much preferred you ‘played out’ since I felt you were putting more emphasis on the values that had more substance than material, appearance, and image. It was like you traded in those values for humility, authenticity, and gratitude. I'll take those values in someone who is 'played out' over a 'player' any day!! 😘😘
Anyways babe, I’ve digressed a bit (what’s new, I know?!). Back to your dad, we had a long conversation last night about widow(er)hood. A while back, I was wondering if I even knew any widows (even my grandma is not a widow), and the only person I could think of was your Great Aunt G. I kept telling myself, if Aunt G can survive widowhood in her 90’s, why can’t I? She lives by herself--so could I!! I was using her as my model for strength and survival in widowhood. If she can be independent and live alone at 90-something after uncle AJ passed, then I have no excuse to not be able to do it at 30-something. But I had forgot, your dad is also a widower. It finally occurred to me when we started talking about our shared experiences last night. As you know, he’s about a year and a half ahead of me. (Yup, this was my first time talking to someone else who is going through what I’m going through--it was a little odd that it was my FIL, but it was a great conversation nonetheless.) We talked about how it still feels unreal that our spouses aren’t here--if anything, the only thing that gets us through this life is the thought that our spouses didn't die; they are just waiting for us to arrive for our date (in a different realm). So, it’s not 'goodbye babe,' it’s just 'until we meet again.' Your dad says, he's running a little late for his date with Mama C, but for me, I feel like you left way too early for our date!! Of all the times you had to be early in life, did it really have to be in death?! This would be the one time, I would definitely be okay if you were late. (Whatever babe, I'm not the one who's always late! I just start getting ready after you, and I get distracted along the way and end up being ready after you.) I don't know how long you have to wait for me, but hopefully you have lots of movies and music downloaded on your iPad and and lots of your favorite books to read while you're waiting because I might take awhile. But I'm excited and can't wait to see you again for our next 'eternal' date together! I love and miss you so much!! ❤️😘❤️😘
I was cleaning out my wallet yesterday and found the receipt from your funeral services. Did you know that there’s packages for funeral services. I told the funeral home you wanted to be cremated, so the first thing they offered was the cremation package that included cremation services, venue for the viewing and memorial service, coffin, urn, and two additional services of your choice like an enlarged photo for the services, reception venue, dove release, a pendant with your thumbprint on it, and a whole host of other stuff that I can’t remember. I should have picked the dove release (you would probably haunt me if I did that). 😂😂😂 Anyways, did you know that you can even rent a coffin if you want to save some money!! Yes, you heard me right, rent a coffin?! I was like what?! But renting a coffin meant you would be cremated in a cardboard box. I’m sure if I cremated you in a cardboard box, you would haunt me forever 😜, so I made sure you had a nice coffin. They even have a room full of coffins that you can choose from. But I lost it when they took me into the coffin room, so they had to quickly usher me out. I couldn’t go back into that room of coffins, so I ended up picking your coffin from a catalogue. It was simple yet elegant, at least I hope it was, since I never actually saw it. But, the coffin I picked wasn’t part of the cremation packaging so I had to pay extra to upgrade it; like paying extra to upgrade a side dish at a prix fixe dinner. I just wanted the funeral service planning to be done quickly so it didn’t even occur to me to have them price it out a la carte, who knows, maybe it would have been cheaper. Either way, it was all very strange.
I even had to pay for your death certificates. They asked how many death certificates I wanted. I asked, “Why would I need more than one?!” I mean, when you were born, I’m sure you only got one birth certificate. (I don’t actually have a birth certificate since I was born during the war and there was no record keeping when you were just trying to stay alive and not get bombed to death.) When I became a naturalized citizen, I only got one certificate. When we got married, we only got one marriage certificate. So, why would I need more than one death certificate? It turns out, you need many death certificates to conduct the business side of death (or the institution of death as I like to call it), since everything I do with your estate requires a death certificate (and most require actual ones and not photocopy is what they said). So, they told me I should start with 10 death certificates and if I need more, I can order more. But you can’t return them if you don’t use them all. Well, I got 7 death certificates that says “causing pending investigation,” since some institutions require cause of death to be listed. Who knew the institutions of death were such sticklers. I'm stilling waiting on the 3 that will state definitely the cause your sudden and untimely death (or at least as definitely as they can)!
Anyways, I know your instructions were to not have any type of service, but how could I not?! You literally woke up one morning and decided to drop dead for no reason. Nobody would believe it. How could anybody find closure if they weren’t able to say goodbye?! It wasn’t like you were sick and people came to visit you, and they had the opportunity to say goodbye. Anyways Babe, you know that a funeral is not for the dead, it’s for the living, so you just have to deal with it! I’m sorry, but I made sure it was short, sweet, and simple. The viewing really wasn’t my idea but a lot of your family members wanted to see you one last time. How can I deny them that?! I didn’t go to the viewing because I already saw you at the hospital and you looked so peaceful; like you were sleeping. To be honest, I knew there was no way I was going to mentally survive seeing you inside a coffin. I was afraid I would lose whatever thin shred of sanity I had if I went to the viewing. Although at times, I regret not seeing you one last time, but ultimately, I know it was for the best. I rather have my last memory of you sleeping peacefully on a hospital bed than inside of a coffin with makeup on. I hope you liked the outfit I picked out for your viewing. I know, you would have preferred a baseball cap or beanie over the kangol, but I always thought you looked the cutest in a kangol and it matched your outfit a lot better. My brother helped picked out the watch since I couldn’t decide which one of the plethora of watches you had would match your outfit. They said shoes were optional, but I know you would kill me if I sent you to the spiritual world without any shoes on, especially since your shoe collection is 20 times bigger than mine! I made sure you were accessorized well (don’t worry babe, I wasn't about to send you into the spiritual world looking like a hot mess like I normally do on a day to day basis. 😂😂😂)
After you passed, there are a few images that continue to haunt me from the traumatic experience. The first image is seeing you fight for your life while you were on your knees while you kept saying “I’m going! I’m going! Hurry Up.” Another image is when the gurney came and before you got on, you turned towards me and gripped both my shoulders while we just stared at each other; speechless. I was in tears and you looked worried and scared. The last image is when I run towards you in the hospital room, and I hug and kiss you while I' crying and sobbing profusely over your lifeless body. Those are the three images that continue to haunt me everyday, and they play over and over again in my head. I wish I could make them stop but they never do. It’s like the repeat button is stuck and I can’t make it stop. Without a doubt, if I went to the viewing and saw you inside a coffin, I’m sure that image would haunt me 100 times more than any of the three images that are stuck on repeat now. Although at times, I regret not seeing you one last time, I know it was for the best. I don’t think I could mentally survive if the image of you inside a coffin was stuck on repeat in my head. I might never make it out of my crazy lady rant phase.
Well, for a person who didn’t want any type of service, you actually got the whole nine yards. My family also wanted to make sure you got a traditional Buddhist send off. My aunties found a Cambodian temple in San Leandro (I’ve lived in Oakland for almost 13 years and never knew there was a Cambodia temple down the street from us!! See, Google does know it all!!) When they arrived at the temple, they asked for the highest ranking monk available, but he was on a bank run (I guess monks have to go to the bank also!) So, they asked for the next highest ranking monk, who end up being a renowned monk visiting from Cambodia that is quite popular in the monk world. He was so great, they said I only needed one monk for the blessing. Usually there are multiple monks that come to do a blessing. So, the Thursday after you passed, the monks came to our house to do a blessing for your safe passage into the spiritual world. I invited your family as well. The monks chanted that death is inevitable; it either happens now or it happens later, but it’s not something we can run from. They told me to let you go, so we both can move on to the next chapter in our lives; me in the physical world and you in the spiritual world. Since Buddhists believe in reincarnation, if I couldn’t let you go, then you would be stuck in purgatory and wouldn’t be able to get reincarnated. They didn’t tell me what I needed to do to ‘let you go,’ but I was just supposed to ‘let you go.’ You know how I need detail, step by step instructions to get things done, so I’m still trying to figure it out. And it might take awhile, especially since I don’t have any instructions on how to do it either! I still haven’t really figured how I’m supposed to ‘let you go,’ but I do think about it a lot. I don’t want you to get stuck in purgatory and not get reborn again, but I don’t even know how to begin ‘letting you go.’ I guess it’s part of the many lessons I’m supposed to learn on this journey. Did I mention, this journey hella sucks big time!!! I wonder if throwing away your toothbrush last Wednesday would be considered a step in ‘letting you go.’ When I got back from China, I just couldn’t look at your toothbrush standing next to mine anymore, so I threw it away. bThis was the first physical thing of yours that I tossed out. The only thing I've purged of yours so far is erasing shows on the DVR and throwing away perishable food stuff (if you don’t count giving the fish away and making YA get rid of the motorcycle).
P.S. Yes, of course your service was on an auspicious day. You know how superstitious my family is, they weren’t going to just have your service and cremation occur on any random day. But A Gung didn’t pick the auspicious day this time, since he didn’t know you passed. It was the monks at the Cambodian temple who picked the auspicious day for your memorial service and cremation. Like always, everything went over smoothly and without any issues (I guess these auspicious days really work). I know you would have preferred A Gung to pick the auspicious day like he did both times we moved into our homes and when we got married, but what could I do?! They didn’t want to upset him with such horrible news at his old age, but he eventually found out through the grapevines anyways. (I think it’s better that he knows since how many excuses can I come up with about why you’re not visiting.) He took it really hard when he found out. Auntie CY said he was crying over the phone when he called to confirm with her. I guess he really does love his black grandson-in-law! My grandma still doesn’t know and she asks for you all the time when I see or talk to her. (Yes, it’s really hard. It’s a good think she can’t see anymore. Cause I would never be able to keep a straight face when I say, “he’s working.” I wonder how long that excuse will for work. I’m sure she will be surprise when she see you in the spiritual world!! She would say, “John (since she can’t pronounced Sean), what are you doing here?” And you would laugh, walk up to her, give her a hug and kiss, and say, “A ma, I’ve been waiting for you. I told A Juk (my name in Chinese) that you were going to outlive us all, but she didn’t believe me.”
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.