Well, it’s almost June! I can’t even believe half the year is almost over! Next week will be our 3rd year wedding anniversary. Every year it rolls around, we’re always surprised by how quickly times flies and life has gotten really REAL after we got married. It was like life decided to get real REAL, you know what I mean? My grandmother got really sick, there were multiple deaths in your family in a very short span, and we just kind of fell into dealing with all the lemons and curve balls life was throwing at us. Last year, we were so happy when nobody died in 2017!! We were celebrating the new year with so much hope for 2018, which was supposed to be our year to do better! That’s what you said, “We need to do better in 2018!” I asked, “What does that even mean?!” You said, “Com’on SY, it means just that, ‘we need to do better in everything this year!!” (Honestly, I still have no clue what you mean by ‘do better’...and now you aren’t even here to clarify for me if I’m doing better!) But a week later, the universe decided it had a different plan for us, and you passed away suddenly, without notice and seemingly without cause. I’ve spent more time crying this year than all the years I’ve been alive, and the pain that has taken permanent residence in my heart continues to rage on. I often wonder when this pain will end or go away, even though my therapist has told me numerous times that it will never end or go away. But, you know me, I always remain hopeful!
I’ve been reflecting a lot on my life and the life we’ve built together. These reflections have made me realize why you were so philosophical the last few months before you passed. You were asking deeper and more meaningful questions and giving me more sentimental and insightful responses to the silly questions I would normally asked you like “How much do you love me today?” For the longest time (and I’m talking about years and years here), whenever I ask you that question, you would generally stretch out your arms to a certain distance to show me how much you love me. On some days, you would even use the fingers on one hand and spread them out only a few inches and say, “Today, I only love you this much!” and then you would smile and laugh at me when I give you my 'whatever' look! But, now I realize you were going through your own self-reflection stage of the grief process with your step-mom. The death of someone close has a way of making you scrutinize your life more, while the death of spouse goes even further since it also affects your day to day life. It’s like there’s this ginormous hole in your heart and in your life. Your heart is in pain, and you’re constantly living in some alternate universe where everything looks the same but nothing feels right or normal, especially the people around you. They start looking at you differently like you’re a pariah, or talking to you differently like you're on eggshells and somehow you're going to break into a million pieces if they say the wrong thing or they feel the need to say something enlightening or meaningful or encouraging so they can feel better about themselves. Then there are those people who don’t look at you differently or say anything differently. Instead, they just treat you like normal and offer their shoulder and hands when the pain and grief becomes too unbearable.
The therapist says I’m going to start evaluating and reflecting on all my relationships now that my value system has shifted. (I guess going through a tragedy makes one question and evaluate your value system also!) And now that I don’t have you in my life, I can’t afford to have a small garden either. So, not only do I have to pull some weeds, but I also have to start cultivating a larger and more vibrant garden if I’m going to survive this journey.
Guess what?! I won the Wonder Woman superhero award today for kicking ass on the launch!! This reminds me of the time you bought a Wonder Woman action figure and left it on the dining table. I came home and saw it, and I thought you bought it for me (you know, I was thinking you were trying to tell me how awesome I was by letting me know I was your Wonder Woman. I mean you were spoiled and very well taken cared of, if you ask me!!), but no such luck! When you came home, I pointed at the Wonder Woman action hero and said, “Is that for me?!” You said, “No, it’s for my desk at work. She’s the last character to complete the set I have at work!” Of course, I was disappointed, but wasn’t sure if you noticed it or not (probably not!!). Well, needless to say, your entire DC comic action figure set belongs to me now (your work mailed a ginormous box of your personal belongings a month or so after you passed). I was expecting a small box containing your action heroes and milan cookies, twinkies, hostess cupcakes, and whatever sweets you like to keep in your desk drawer at work (that I don't let you eat at home!). What I wasn’t expecting was three more pairs of shoes!! (**SIGH** I can’t get away from your shoes, I swear!) It probably took me a month or more before I could even open the box your work sent. They contacted LH and told him they were going to mail it, so I would know to expect it. But still, when I got it, it was very hard. I just left it in the corner of the house for a month or so before I could muster the nerve to open it. Even after I opened it, all the stuff still stayed in the box in the corner of the house. The only thing I took out recently was your DC comic action figures. I put those in my craft room (and yes, I ripped them out of their packaging. In my defense, it looked like you did the same but taped them back up, so whatever value you thought they would retain in the packaging was gone anyways!). Everytime I look at those action figures in my craft room (of course, Wonder Woman is front and center where she belongs!!), I think of you and how much I miss you. I let out a deep sigh and sometimes tears would roll down my cheeks. Then I would look around the craft room at all the photos and posters of quotes I put up to remind myself of who I was and am and who I want to be. I go and sit in the craft room often--it’s where I feel my deepest pain yet it also serves as my sanctuary and source of inspiration. It’s like the duality of life, you can’t have happiness without the pain and sadness.
I’ve been finding it really hard to write to you lately. It’s not because I’m out of words or pain or emotions to share; that’s definitely not it! It’s more like I have too many thoughts and emotions, but they’re often conflicting and at odds with each other, so it’s hard to know how I’m really feeling. I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back to myself, but I’m also constantly reminded that I still have a long way to go before I’m back to my usual self. I can feel extreme pain at the most random moments and time, but still keep going like nothing’s wrong. I can be laughing and crying all in the same breath now. Whenever there’s good news or something good happens, the happiness is always bittersweet since I think about how you're not here to share in the happiness. There are also times when the craziest S*** happens, and I’m glad you aren’t here to witness it because you would be completely upset! Then there are times where I feel the most acute pain and grief, but at the same time, I’m thankful that I’m still alive and living. There are also moments where I literally feel my heart skipping a beat because it’s completely unfathomable that you aren’t here anymore even though I’ve been living without you for almost 5 months now. My therapist says I’m going through these dichotomy of emotions because I’m straddling two worlds now. I’m living in the middle room where I know you are gone but haven’t quite accepted that you aren’t coming home yet, while my hand is on the door that opens to the life that I have to live knowing that you are gone and aren’t coming home ever again. I struggle because I don’t want to leave the middle room and the life we built, but I also know it’s a life that doesn’t makes any sense anymore and continuing to live it means I'm living in denial, but I can’t seem to move on until I feel like I’ve finished this chapter in my life. So, it’s the constant struggle of finding the right balance between what to finish and what to let go of (we had so many plans, does it even make sense to complete them all?! But what should I finish?? and what should I say isn't worth the energy?? I have no clue, Babe! Sometimes, I wish you would just come and visit me in my dreams and tell me what to do).
One thing the therapist keeps trying to emphasize is that I don’t have to walk away from this life in its entirety either. I don’t have to walk through the door naked and stripped of who I am or everything we built together. Instead, I can pack my bags and take whatever I want with me from this life through the door. So, that’s what I’ve been doing this last month. I’m getting ready to start packing for the next part of my journey. But, what my therapist doesn’t know is that I’m a hella light packer. I only pack the essentials; I never bring non-essential items on a trip. I can go on a week long trip with just a carry on and still have clean clothes when I return! She doesn't know it, but she has her work cut out for her. I don’t know how many bags I can bring with me before I get charged, but I should assume any excess bag fees I have to pay will be worth it in the long-run. This isn’t a journey where I want to forget anything.
So, #baycation is over and it was amazing. We more or less followed the JRS #baycation itinerary, and we each had ‘our thing’ in the itinerary!! JQ and I started with a hike in Joaquin Miller Park (the dogs and I’s old stomping ground, it’s been awhile since we hiked there but it was just as amazing as I remembered it!) and we did a bunch of girly stuff like mani / pedi and spa day! RS joined a few days later and we kicked off the trip with Sonoma and the Girl and the Fig!! My thing was biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. JQ’s thing was a benefit jazz concert and a library talk at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (which I’ve never been to in all the years I’ve lived here but it was beautiful inside). RS’s thing was the self-guided mural walking tour in Chinatown. I didn’t realize Chinatown had so much street art. We even met the art director and another artist from the dragon school 99 art program that does the mural work in Chinatown while we were walking around. Overall, it was a great trip! Full of fun, laughter, and silliness, just like how we used to be in our college days! It was like we never left college!! It was a great reminder of the person I used to be; the silly girl you fell in love with eons ago! (I found an old email you sent me a while ago when we reconnected after our break-up and one of the things you said missed was my silliness - yeah that still hasn’t changed much!)
As I was looking through the photos from the trip, one stuck out at me. It was the picture we took after we finished the ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. We had a rough start, and not everybody was mentally or physically prepared for the journey. We started out together, but ended up going at different pace throughout the ride. Sometimes, we kept pace with one another while other times we didn’t and rode alone. Sometimes, we would waited for one another while other times we didn’t. Some parts of the ride was harder at different points for one person than the other. Some got frustrated while others grew tired, but we continued to support each other as best as we could and continued to persevere until we made it to the ferry station in Sausalito. We had to push and support each other at different points of the journey to overcome our mental fears and physical pains to make it to the end of the trip. Even if we didn’t think we could keep on going, we didn’t really have much of a choice either, so I think we had that going for us. But, with every pedal and breath we took, we were surrounded by the amazingly beautiful landscape and city views that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. The landscape and city views were the carrots dangling in front of us on the journey. Although the journey was rough and not what we expected or wanted, sometimes the struggle of getting there makes the views even more breathtaking and worthwhile; to know that this was our reward for continuing to persevere. It was a constant reminder that sometimes we don’t have much say or choice in what happens to us in life; we just have to keep going and persevere and continue to enjoy the view and smell the roses along the way because that’s LIFE. Life is a struggle, and we don’t always get to choose the curve balls or lemons that gets thrown our way, but we do get to choose what we do with the curve balls and lemons that come our way. We can get mad or frustrated, we can yell or scream, we can curse the world...and the list goes on and on. But, whatever we decide to do, it’s within our control and choice. But, we have to choose wisely because it can ultimately make or break us.
The bike ride was a startling reminder that even though we were on the same journey and path, we each had our own struggles and experiences; it wasn’t the same for any one of us. Sometimes we rode alone while other times we rode amongst others, but as long as we kept going, persevering, pushing ourselves beyond the boundaries of our pain and fears, and always enjoying the view and smelling the roses, we will get to where we need to go in our own time, especially when we have the right support system. And, even when we were riding along the same path at the same time, the experience and journey with all its trials and tribulations were different and individually unique. A reminder that even though their are commonalities, no two story or experience is ever the same, and that no one really knows what anybody is going through, even if they’ve experienced the same thing. No one has the right to judge or think they know or compare anybody else’s experience, pain, struggles, and / or triumphs to themselves or to someone else, even if they’ve gone through it and especially if they haven’t. However, we can share our experiences and insights with others to gain different perspectives and insights, but don’t ever think we know what the other person is going through, because we don’t (even if we’ve gone through the same thing!). The bike ride was a good example that even when we aren’t mentally, emotionally, or physically ready or prepared for what lays in front of us, we just have to close our eyes and take a leap of faith. Sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of quelling our fears or waiting until we are ready or prepared or have all the answers to take the next step in life. We just have to cross our fingers, close our eyes, hold someone's hand that we trust to love and support us without judgement, and jump off the cliff!! Even if we don't get to the destination we wanted, wherever we end up will be better than not trying at all.
Looking at the photo of us smiling after we crossed the bridge, no one would know the struggles we endured to get there except us. And even if somebody asked us to share the story of our journey, I’m positive each version would be completely different, and that’s the beauty of life. That’s what makes us human and what makes life worth living; knowing that our story, our pain, our struggles, and our triumphs are uniquely our own and no two story or experience or journey is ever the same even if we've gone through the same thing.
These last few weeks have been hard, even to write. My therapy homework is to start looking at the pain. I talk a lot about how I feel and my emotions, but I’m not really looking at it. I’m not looking at how it’s affecting my physical world. I continue to exist and live in this quasi-realistic life that used to have you in it. But, I’m not facing it or confronting it. It’s the elephant in the room. I know it’s there but I can’t look at it. I try to ignore it and look away when I’m passing by the elephant. I know I lost something big in my life, something major, and it’s turning my world upside down, and I’m still trying to cope with the pain and grief, but now I have to take a step back and start looking at the scar it left behind. I have to look your dirty clothes that’s been sitting in the corner of the room untouched for over 4 months. Your pillow continue to lay next to mine but hasn’t been used in over 4 months. The half empty bed that neither I nor the animals sleep on. The closet full of your clothes, shoes, accessories, and hats that’s collecting dust but I can’t seem to find the courage to clear out or do anything with. Two bathrooms full of your toiletries and razors and shavers that just lay there without a purpose. A utility room full of your tools and ‘junk’ that I don’t even know what their uses are continues to sits in disarray. It’s like I know they’re sitting there untouched and unmoved and unused for these last few months, but I can’t seem to look at them or figure out what to do with them because the mere thought of it just makes me sick to stomach. So, they’re the elephants in the room that I can’t seem to look at but know are there.
Although the wound cut so deep, its starting to heal and close up and scab over, but the scar will never go away, even if I’m continuing to live my life fully and without abandon. It will be permanent and stay with me forever, deep inside my heart. Facing and confronting my demons is hard. Looking at the pain and touching the scar is hard. It’s so hard that no words can even describe the pain and anguish I feel. Even when I sit and start to writing, nothing comes out but tears and overwhelming sadness and grief. I sit and stare at my blank computer screen as the tears just flow endlessly but no words can even begin to express what I’m feeling. This is the part of the journey that will probably be the steepest climb I have to make to get to the top of the mountain. This is the part where I will emerge a brand new woman if I can succeed. Hopefully someone I can smile at and want to get to know every morning I wake up and look in mirror.
Anyways Babe, I’m on PTO this week! JQ and RS are visiting. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re letting RS into our house again?! He’s a Cavs fan, how many times have I told you he’s banned and not allowed into our house!?” Well, like I said before, you died so now I get to do whatever I want. I don’t need to consult you anymore! That’s what you get for dying on me!! So, not sure how much writing I can do with guests and also writer’s block from having to face my pain and look at my wound. So, I just wanted to let you know, I might be MIA for awhile. But you know, I’m always thinking of you all the time anyways, whether I write or not. We talk to each other everyday, even if I’m not writing these letters to you.
Also, we’re riding bikes across the Golden Gate bridge. I realize that I actually have to prep my bike for the ride myself. Usually, I just have to say, “Babe, I’m going riding this weekend.” And you would take care of everything without me even asking. Well, in all honestly, I don’t ask because I never even realize that a bike needs to be prepped before riding after it sits for months and years collecting dust because my tires are always fully inflated, brakes are fully functioning, and the gears all greased up and ready to go for my ride without me ever having to lift a finger. So, when the ride was confirmed, all I kept hearing in my head was, “SY, did you check to make sure your bike is ready for the ride?!” So, last week I went to pull my bike down from the bike rack (which is hella hard to take off since that was supposed to be your job! I think I took down a ton of other stuff down with it when I tried to get it off the rack!) And low and behold, the bike was super dusty, the tires were deflated, and I have no clue how to check if the brakes and gears were in good order. So, I loaded the bike into my car and took it in for servicing!! Thanks for the reminder babe! This week’s mantra is #baycation (coined by your favorite Cavs fan)!!!
I miss you so much it hurts! I feel like I’m in a weird stage on this journey. I feel like I’m standing on the road and I keep looking backwards even though I’m supposed to go forward. All I know and want is the life I’m trying to leave behind. I’m not ready to let it go or walk away from it. I keep looking back and asking myself, “How can this happen to us?” I struggle to make sense of it all. I struggle to find the strength to move forward when all I want to do is go backwards. I keep focusing on everything I had but don’t anymore. I know I’m supposed to keep moving forward, but all I want to do is go back in time. I don’t want to leave this life we built behind, but how can I live a life that doesn't exist anymore? How can I keep living a life that doesn’t make sense anymore?! When you passed, all I wanted to do was hit the rewind or fast forward button. I just wanted to be better. I didn’t want to feel the pain or deal with grief anymore. I just want it all to end, so I can move on with life. But now I know even if I hit fast forward, nothing changes -- I’m still broken and the pain will never go away. I will never be better or okay -- I will just be this new broken person that somehow gets put back together with crazy glue and learns to continue living life with all these cracks and scars. Somehow I’m supposed to emerge stronger but different. I will never be the fearless and fiercely independent girl you fell in love with or the SY you married. Who will emerge after the dust settles is yet to be known, but hopefully she can make it possible to live with and bear the pain and grief when she thinks of an entire lifetime without you.
Yup! So, I’m breaking all the rules now that you’re not here! You know, you had a lot of rules. For someone who’s laid-back and easy-going, you had a lot of rules and boundaries. I’m highly structured and process-oriented, but I have no rules or boundaries whatsoever. I don’t care if the animals are cuddling with me on the sofa or walking on the countertop. I don’t care if someone wants to borrow or use my stuff. It’s like pulling teeth to use or borrow anything of yours. I have to ask if I want to use a screwdriver. A SCREWDRIVER for god sake! And if I didn’t ask first and you found out (cause I’m sloppy and put it back in the wrong place or forget to put it back at all), I would hear it for days! “SY, what did I tell you about using my things without asking!?!” And, I was only allowed to use certain tools under supervision and not others. Anything with a blade or sharp object, you rarely let me use without supervision for fear I would hurt myself or cut a digit or appendiage.
Well, I’ve been using your tools like no other, even the drill and especially the tools you told me to never touch! I’ve also been using your box cutters like a pro! And, the animals have been laying on the sofa by themselves, cuddling with me on the sofa while we watch TV, and walking all over the countertops and tabletops like they own the place. (Honestly, it’s not like I let them, but as you know, I have no control over these animals!) “SY, don’t let the animals on the sofa! You baby them too much, and you let them walk all over you. That’s why they’re spoiled and don’t listen to you. If you want authority, you need to show them who’s the alpha!!” I could push the cats off the table and they wouldn’t budge or jump off. Even if I successfully pushed them off, they just jump back on like nothing! But if they hear your footsteps coming into the room, they would jump off the table or countertop or stop doing whatever they’re not supposed to be doing before you could get to the room! I used to think to myself, “Damn, now that’s power right there!?!” I could get factories in China inline with an email or a wechat messenger ping, but I could never get our fur babies under control!! They just walk all over me and are probably laughing at me when I’m try to discipline them or get them to behave or listen to my command. “Mama, who you think you is?!” is probably what they’re thinking when I’m trying to get them to behave!
So, I’ve been obsessed with getting rid of your shoes! I don’t know why, but I am. I ended up pinging your brother, cousins, and KT to ask them if they wanted your shoes before I donated them. (And I’m still waiting for your brother to come! He keeps telling me he’s coming, but he never does. I’m not sure why I’m even surprised. I should be surprised if he actually showed up when he says he would!! That’s when it will be shocking!!) I even took pictures of the shoes you have in the closet to your cousin RJ to pick out what he wanted. He decided he was going to take whatever was left after everybody takes what they want (not sure what that’s all about), but he said if doesn’t want or will wear them, he will find them a home! So, it looks like I got rid of all your shoes in theory. They all have imaginary post-it notes on them, but they’re still physically in our closet. And who knows when your cousin RJ will be in town to even pick them up! I hope he brings his big truck since it might not fit if he doesn’t. So, now that they’re all given away, I feel better about myself! Like I accomplished something (even if they’re still physically here)!
Oh, I didn’t tell you, but last week, I consulted a medical malpractice lawyer. He laid it out for me. Ultimately, he said the burden of proof isn’t sufficient to prove negligence on the doctor’s part since you weren’t experiencing any symptoms when you saw the ER doc and your primary care physician. They probably could have been more thorough or hold you about some symptoms to look out for, but legally speaking, they can’t be considered negligent since you weren’t displaying any signs or symptoms when you saw them, and they are not required to tell you to look out for any warning signs or symptoms. However, if you had gone to the doctors that Wednesday when you were experiencing chest pains when you started showing some signs and symptoms, and they didn’t do anything to explore the road rash to look for DVT or blood clots, then there would be sufficient burden of proof to consider filing a malpractice suit. But, since you didn’t go to the doctor when you started experiencing these symptoms, they can’t be held liable for negligence. I guess the only person who was negligent in this whole matter was you! Your mom said we should sue you for negligence. I guess I would like to join party on that suit again you also! I’m sure there are others as well who would like to file suit against you. Next thing you know, there’ll be a class action suit against you for negligence, for putting your wife and family though this needless pain and grief. It’s hard to fathom that even though you more or less did everything the doctors told you to do, you still died.
It’s hard to believe and accept that you died over something so seemingly senseless that it’s hard not to believe that maybe this was our destiny. It was written in the stars, and there was nothing we could have done to stop or prevent it. That you had reached the end of your life line because if you were meant to be alive, you would be! You would still be here with me, and our house would still be full of love, laughter, and all sorts of other noise since you detest a quiet house, whereas, I, on the other hand, love a quiet house! When you were alive, the house was never quiet when you were home. Something was always turned on, whether it be the TV or music playing in the background, or you’d be cracking jokes and making me laugh, or you’d be making fun of me, or chasing the animals around with the Nerf super soaker to make sure they knew who was the alpha in this household. There was never a dull or quiet moment when you were home. So, whenever, I was home by myself, I would turn everything off since I loved the peace and quiet. I didn’t get it often when you were alive, so I crave it all the time and looked forward to it when you weren’t home. But now, what I crave the most is to be able to hear your laughter and your voice making fun of me or cracking jokes or yelling at the animals while you’re chasing them around the house with a super soaker in your hand, squirting them with water. I miss the goofy faces you’d make at me and your smile that always melted my heart. You could get me to do anything with those warm and bright eyes and smile of yours. They were my achilles heel. You also liked to surprise attack me when I’m not paying attention and take me down to the ground and tickle me to death or rub your beard all over my face and neck. I would be kicking and screaming for mercy but you never showed me any! I even missed you saying, “Is that what you’re going to wear?!” I miss it all, even the stuff that used to drive me crazy and mad when you were alive. I want them all back, every single pet peeve I would take back! I would rather have you with all your pet peeves and annoyances than what I have now--nothing but pain and grief and a house full of reminders that you don’t exist anymore!! That my life will never be the same again. That I’m half a person living a life built for two. That all I have to look forward to on this journey is a permanent scar that will never go away and will forever reside deep in my heart. A wound that cuts so deep but is only visible to me and nobody else. A pain and sorrow that nobody understands unless they’ve walked in my shoes.
Hey Babe -
I’ve been watching a lot of TV these last few days - I guess my anxiety level has come down and I’m able to relax a bit more than the last couple of weeks. Whenever I get angst, I can’t stop moving, hence all the organizing, purging, and furniture assembly! I feel like I’m going through something right now; don’t really know what it is - but I’m overly emotional and your death is hitting me very hard. I was literally in tears on and off throughout the whole day today, even when I was showering. I realize that the trend is not crying in the shower on fridays at the gym; instead, it’s just crying in the shower. I think the car and the shower is the only place where I can’t keeping busy or distracted, so my mind is free to think and process whatever it wants.
Everything just feels more real and I’m growing more and more comfortable in my new reality while my heart continues to grieve and feel the pain so much harder and deeper. It’s like I’m living in two realities. One where the world sees me as being okay and back to myself and the other where my pain and grief is so unbearable that I’m in tears when I’m alone and in private. I started crying myself to sleep again, somehow it soothes me and helps me sleep when I’m able to let it all out. I think about us a lot and you’re constantly on my mind. I think about how senseless your death was. How it makes no sense at all. How did my perfectly healthy husband die so suddenly for what seemed like such minor signs and symptoms. I want to be so mad at you for not listening to your body and for not thinking of me when you decided not to go to the doctor, but I also know that you would never choose to leave me and the life we built willingly. If you knew the outcome was going to be catastrophic, you would have done something about it. You were taken against your will for no rhyme or reason and that’s just something I have to learn to accept. I can question the universe and curse it, but ultimately nothing changes. I can choose to let it eat me alive and swallow me whole, or I can choose to grieve and heal and eventually move on. I have to learn to accept this tragedy as part of my being, a permanent emotional scar that resides deep in my heart that nobody sees or knows or feels or understand the depth of its pain but me. It’s a part of my story now. I can’t fight it, I just have to learn to accept it; make it a part of me. I may not welcome it with open arms, but it’s something I will have to learn to accept and live with for the rest of my life; whether I like it or not. I don’t have a choice in the matter. The only choices I have are how to pick up the pieces and glue them back together. What do I want my life to look like now that you are gone and I’m alone.
This was never the life we planned for ourselves. Most of the time, I still can’t believe it’s real and I’m living it. That this is my story and my new reality. The pain hasn’t gotten better or smaller with time. Time doesn’t heal s***!! Time just moves on and I just learn to cope with the pain better. I hate it when people tell me, “Time heals!” I’m sorry, but it doesn't so please shut the F*** up! I think the next person who says that to me, I will probably punch, especially when they are comparing to a elderly parent or grandparent or a loved one that’s not their spouse or child. It’s not the same as losing your perfectly healthy 49 year old husband before you turned 40! A senseless and untimely death of a spouse or child is unnatural; it disrupts the natural order of things. So, don’t compare my pain of losing my husband to the pain you felt losing your 85 year parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles who died of a natural and timely death. Trust me, it’s not the same. I lost my 89 year old grandmother and that was the biggest loss in my life at the time, and time did heal that wound because she was 89 years old and she wasn’t my life partner. I didn’t spend 24/7 with her and we didn’t have all these plans that were abruptly stolen and taken away from us. I wasn’t left to pick up the pieces of my life that’s now unrealized and unfulfilled. I didn’t even get to say goodbye and I was there to witness every grueling minute and second of your last breath. You didn’t even make it to the hospital. You didn’t even get a chance to fight for your life. You were taken in an instant; quicker than I could snap my fingers. In an instant, my whole entire world turned upside, and I have no clue where to go or what to do next from here.
I watched two episode of Grey’s Anatomy today. The one from last week hit home because it’s about how your life can change and break into a million pieces in an instant, and they also brought up Meredith’s status as a widow. They don’t talk about it much on the show, which makes sense, she’s a professional, independent, type A woman (like me), and we don’t talk about our pain or grief in the workplace. We just show up and perform, and we leave our baggage at home where it belongs. That’s how we cope and deal with our grief and pain. But they show her carrying around Derek's scrub cap with her at the beginning of the show and puts it away in her drawer when she returns home from work next to their post-it note wedding vows. They close the episode with her saying how all the cracks and scars are always with us, they make us stronger, they make us something new. She reminds us that it’s these scars and cracks that have made her who she is today. So, yes, it hit home! Something the therapist has been trying to reiterate is that this pain will never go away. The scar and crack in my life from losing you will always be a part of me and my story; something I will have to learn to live with and manage for the rest of my life. (Even if I don’t want to believe it or accept it, so far, she has proven to be true.) And, I have to believe that this tragedy can and will only make me stronger; giving birth to a new me that I may not know or want to know yet, but she is waiting to emerge and break free. I refuse to have you die in vain by not learn some massive lesson the universe is trying to teach me. I know in time, this new me will emerge and I will learn to love her like you loved the fearless and fiercely independent girl some 14+ years ago. I will make you proud Babe, I promise. I will not be a victim and I will not be helpless. These were the two things you refused to ever let me be in all the years we were together. Maybe without knowing it, you were preparing me for this; a life without you.
Hey Babe -
There was an earthquake today! It was more of a jolt. The animals were funny! They say animals can feel an earthquake before it comes! They must be talking about most animals because our babies were just as surprised as I was. You should have seen them! I know, they are good for nothing but snuggles, love, and trouble! It’s like you always said, “I have to protect you and the animals!!” And there was more goats on the loose in the neighborhood! These goats - OMG, if you were here - that’s all we would talk about!
I was watching an episode of S.W.A.T. today and one of the scene was where Deacon broke rank because he didn’t agree with Hondo’s call. He felt that they were going to get killed following Hondo’s call and he said he wasn’t going to do that to his wife and kids, so he wasn’t going to follow the order. When I heard that I thought about you. I thought about how he put his wife and kids first and didn’t take unnecessary risks, and I just started crying because it reminded me that my husband didn’t do that for me. Instead, he didn’t listen to his body or his wife, even when she asked him numerous times to go to the hospital. I miss you a lot and even though I know you are gone and aren’t coming home, I still can’t believe you aren’t here and that this is my life. That this is my story and how it ends. How I come home to a house I bought with my husband about a year ago but have been living at the house alone for over 4 months. That the last thing I said to you before you died was, “I told you to go to the hospital!” and the last thing you saw was me terrified with tears rolling down my cheeks, speechless, unable to even tell you how much I love you. The last thing on my mind that day was I was going to come home by myself without a husband for the rest of my life. It never even crossed my mind. Even today, it still doesn’t feel real. Most days, I still feel like I’m just living in a nightmare waiting to wake up. I think that’s why I cry in the car to work now. Every morning I wake up, the nightmare becomes more real, especially when I wake up in a half empty bed, and I still haven’t figured out how to live in a dream with you forever.
It’s Mother’s Day today. I completely forgot since I had already given your mom her mother’s day gift early and my sister took care of the gift for my mom! SC sent me a photo of the Cambodia dessert I like and said Yi made it for me thinking I was going to be in town! (Well, I didn’t even get an invite to the party, so not sure how I would have been in town for a party I didn’t know about.) I said, “What’s special about today that you guys are having a party?!” Then I realized it was Mother’s Day! Usually you’re the one who reminds me about these kind of things! “SY, did you call your mom yet?! It’s Mother’s Day!” I would say, “Oh crap! It is?! I better call my mom!” You were really good at texting all the moms in your life to wish them a happy mother’s day! I’m always like, “Why do you text everybody you know that is a mom to wish them happy mother’s day?!” You would say, “What’s wrong with that?!” I would say, “I thought you only call your mom?! That’s what I do!?!” You would say, “No, SY, mother’s day is mother’s day! You should wish all the moms you know a happy mother’s day even if they’re not your mom?! That’s just what normal people do SY!” That concept was foreign to me! I only wished my mom and my grandma happy mother’s day! (Sometimes I even forget to wish my grandma a happy mother’s day, and even that I’ve only started doing recently!)
Anyways, today I made Tiramisu for the office. One of my coworker requested it awhile ago and I kept forgetting to buy the ingredients until this weekend. I also made some for Aunt JJ. You know how she loves tiramisu! Oh gawd, I know I’m not allowed to use your top shelf rum when I make tiramisu! But guess what?! You’re not here, so I can do whatever I want. I know, you’re probably rolling in your grave if you were buried! I remember the first time I used your top shelf rum to make tiramisu, all hell broke loose!! After I was done with the tiramisu, I was upstairs sewing when I heard you stomping up the stairs. You brought the bottle of Zaccapa XO and shook it in front of my face and said, “SY, did you use my top shelf rum to make tiramisu?!” (You know, I know nothing about alcohol. The recipe said I needed rum, so I went to your liquor cabinet and found rum!) I said, “Yeah! What’s the problem?!” “SY, you don’t use top shelf rum to make tiramisu!! You use Bacardi to make tiramisu!” I responded with, “What’s the difference?!” “OMG SY, just don’t use my rum to make tiramisu again?!” I said, “I only used 6 tablespoons, and it’s for your family! They will appreciate the top shelf rum!” “That’s 3 shots SY! I don’t care who the tiramisu is for, don’t use my rum to make tiramisu ever again! Use Bacardi next time!!” I said, “How do you even know I used your rum? Did you mark the bottle or something?!” “SY, I know these things!!” I still have no clue how you knew I used your rum! It wasn’t like it was a new bottle or anything. The next time I made tiramisu, you watched me like a hawk. You even drove me to the liquor store, so I could buy Bacardi rum!! And when we got back from the liquor store, you still watched to make sure I used the Bacardi and not your Zaccapa XO!! Well, today, I made like 1 ½ batch so I used like 9 tablespoons!! I know, I would be died if you were still here! Well, at least my tiramisu will be good!!
I love you, Babe! I miss you immensely...especially on days where I know I would be in BIG trouble if you were still alive!!
Today, I’ve been cooking up a storm. Prepping dinner for the week--made me think of the time you told DT, “Didn’t you know, the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?!” She responded with, “That’s why I’m still single!?! I don’t know how to cook!” I remember thinking to myself when you told her that, “I didn’t know how to cook when I first met you.” I guess it’s a good thing I learned how to cook throughout the years, maybe you might have left me already!
I went and sat in your manroom today. I just sat there and looked all around, wondering what I would do with that room now that you are gone. I went and touched the plaque on your urn where it said your name and date of birth and death. I started to cry, but I fought it off. I didn’t want you to see me like that. I know it would pain you too much to see me like that. I also went and sat in my craft room and looked at all the posters and pictures in the room. Trying to find inspiration and also wondering if I will ever find that fearless and fiercely independent girl again. I look at her in the photo, and I can barely remember her. It felt like a lifetime ago when I knew her. I can’t believe she used to live inside of me once upon a time! She was the girl that stole your heart long ago. She made you laugh with her silliness and drove you made with all her craziness. You fell in love with her strength, her courage, her independence, her confidence, and her conviction. (Okay, maybe not the conviction part! If anything, that drove you crazy!! 😆😜) Just like you, she could light up a room with her laughter and personality. Her ego and confidence might even eclipse yours--now that really got you on your toes!! It was like you had finally met your match. Even if you will never admit it, I had you at “Hello!”
Sometimes, I wonder what people thought when they saw me walking next to you. Most of the time, I’m wearing sweats and flip flops while you’re all put together from head to toe. I always like to say, “People are probably looking at us and saying, ‘How did she get him looking like that?’” At first it bothered you that I wasn’t always presentable. You would say, “Is that what you’re going to wear?” I would say, “Yeah!” Then you would say, “No, you’re not going out looking like that walking next to me. Unlike you, people know me around here.” So, I would go and change into jeans and a pair of sneakers instead of sweats and flip flops. Overtime (a very short period of time), I refused to change. I decided that this was me -- take it or leave it. So, whenever you said I should change, I would say, “No, this is how I’m going out. Take it or leave it.” You didn’t like it -- but I wouldn’t budge. You even went as far to say, “It would be a lot easier if you would just let me dress you!” I’m sure I gave you one of my death stare and probably said something snarky like, “I’m not your doll to play dress up with!” Actually, I wished I said that!! But, I think I said, “I’m not that kind of girl. If you want a girl that dressed up and wore heels and make-up, then you better find someone else because that’s not me!” You just gave me that ‘Oh gawd, here she goes on her high horse again!’ look. You would think that you would have gotten a clue after that, but nope, you didn't. You never stopped suggesting outfits and shoes that you thought would look good on me! I just learned to tune you out!
When you got your Mini (sometime last year), you started customizing it with stickers and door handles and gear knobs. Actually, you customize every single car, bike, and motorcycle you owned. The first time I got into your Mini and saw all your customization, I said to you, “Why must you customize everything you own?! Even your bicycle is customized. You can’t drive or ride anything that is stocked, can you?!” And you said, “Nope! I have to make it mine!” Then I said, “Gosh, I’m glad you never tried to customize me!” Then you said, “I tried to, but you wouldn’t let me!” I started laughing and said said, “Oh yeah, that’s right?! You wanted to dress me up back in the days!” And we both just start laughing. I guess if I let you, you would have customized and dressed me up also! I remember after we got married, you came home one day and said, “KT and I were talking about what your personalized license plate should be.” I said, “What?!” Thinking it was something good and profound. (But I should have know better! I mean, two goofballs in their late 40's who still act like they're 20-something most of the time would only come up with something as I would call it 'lame'!) Instead, you said, “He came up with Bizzle’s Lady and you should spell it BZLSLDY. But I already told him you would never get a license plate that said that!” I said, “You got that right! I’m not an object that belongs to you!” You already knew what I would say, but I think you told me anyways in hopes that maybe I might say, “Yes!” Maybe it was your last attempt to customize me via way of my car. Proclaiming to the world that I belonged to you (I guess the wedding ring wasn't enough for you!🤣😂🤣) Can you imagine me driving around in a car with a license plate that says BZLSLDY?! Yeah, once again, I’m not that kind of girl!
I may not be that fearless and fiercely independent girl anymore, but I still have bits and pieces of her in me. I just need to find her again and get reacquainted with her. Even if I never find that girl again, I’m still proud of the woman I’ve become. Loving you has made a better person. Someone I’m proud to say ‘hello’ to every morning when I look into the mirror.
P.S. I forgot to tell you that JO's mission to honor you is to make sure I'm put together. She proclaimed to the S&B (Stitch & B**** aka knitting group) girls that that's her mission in life now that you're gone. She more or less said you were the one who kept me in check (looking somewhat decent, I suppose is what she means), so now that you're not here, she needs to assume that role and honor your memory to ensure I don't 'let myself go' too much! I had to defend myself and say, "I know how to 'play dress up' if I wanted too." She agreed that I did but I didn't do it often enough! 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️ I mean, how else do you think I got you at "Hello!"? Everything else was what got me through the door and into your heart forever. It's a good thing you're not a superficial man!! 😂😝 (Well, I wouldn't be with you all these years anyways if you were superficial!)
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.