So much has happened in the last year and half since I stopped writing that I don’t even know where to start sometimes. Sometimes, I just want to start where we left off but then there are other times where I wonder if all that craziness really needs to be shared at all!! 😂🤣 Most of the time, I’m tired and exhausted of the reruns of my life over the last 3+ years that constantly replays in a continuous loop in my head, but it’s not something I can escape either. Trust me, I’ve tried so many times, and I’ve failed miserably each time. I just hope and pray that at some point the reruns stop, but I’ve also come to learn that I shouldn’t have any expectations on this journey either since it only ends in heartache and pain.
I guess I was going through a period of emotional reclusiveness and avoidance. It was over a year and a half and I didn’t understand how I could be still such a HOT mess?! I didn’t understand why I was still feeling so much pain, grief, and angst still. I thought I was supposed to get magically better after a year, but it never happened. (I know, there I go again, always trying to benchmark myself to some magical grief timeline even when I know that doesn’t exist…I guess I can’t help myself!!). There were so many days where the pain still felt so raw and unbearable that feel nothing would be better than what I was I feeling and going through. I just wanted to be “normal” again – whatever that meant post-Sean, I didn’t care. I just desperately wanted it and I wanted it now!! Even though it seemed like I had my shit together and adjusting well to my “new life circumstances,” there was nothing fine about me internally and I was a complete HOT MESS on the inside. I felt a lot of angst and frustration. I felt like I was stuck, trapped, and lost, but at the same time, I also felt like I was drifting endlessly in the dark with no direction. How can one person feel stuck in one place but drifting endlessly at the same time?! I have no clue, but that was me all the time. But it was not something I wanted the world to know. So, I worked really hard to main the façade that I was okay. I went to work, hung out with friends, and ensured I was nothing but a productive member of society even if I always felt empty, dead, and devoid of any emotions and feelings on the inside. My life felt like it had no meaning or purpose anymore; like it didn’t matter whether I was dead or alive. Lots of widow groups recommend volunteering and community service to help fill the void. So, I tried to filled the void with a lot of different things. One of which was leading the women’s group and launching an education program at work that hosted students from under resourced communities around the Bay Area for on-site field trips to our campuses to learn more about careers in tech. I threw myself into these altruistic endeavors in the hopes that I would awaken my heart and soul again and didn’t feel so devoid of meaning and purpose, but honestly, nothing really helped. I just was felt so empty and a deep sense of void all the time. I was just a shell of a person that had no other choice or option but to keep living and breathing even if I felt like dying would be better than the hell I was in. I didn’t know what I was living for or why I was still living. Even when I had brief moments of joy and accomplishments in my life, they were fleeting and always bittersweet since they constantly reminded of how alone I was since I had anyone to share these moments with anymore. They felt more like slaps in the face reminding me of my new harsh reality.
Also, during this time, I started to make more conscious decisions to transition “our life” to “my life.” On the online widow’s support group, a lot of the widows talked about how they redecorated their bedroom and did things with their wedding rings. When I read these things initially, I didn’t understand why they were necessary. But what I’ve come to realize on this journey is that you can’t see or hear anything until you are ready to see and hear them. When I read about widows re-decorating their bedrooms and making new jewelry out of their wedding rings, I never even gave it a second thought nor did I ever find it important or necessary. However, as I’ve continued on my widowhood journey (one which I had previously expected to have already end at this point), I remembered these stories and thought to myself, maybe if I got a new bedroom set, I would feel less angst, frustrated, empty, stuck, and trapped. So, in November of 2019, I bought new bedroom furniture. I remember showing it to a friend from college and she said, “Wow, it’s so different from your old set. This feels more like you the person I knew in college.” It was definitely not something you would have picked or even agreed to, trust me I know because I’ve tried so many times to buy furniture like this before and you always said no. In the 6-8 weeks I waited for the furniture to be delivered, I went through a lot of anguish and distress as to what to do with our old bedroom furniture. I wasn’t ready to “let go” of the bedroom set yet, so I figure I would set-up another guest bedroom in your man-room even though there was already two guest bedrooms, a third one wouldn’t hurt, right?!. So, that was the plan.
But as time wore on, I thought to myself, do I really need a third guest bedroom?! Like how often will I have enough guests that would require the use of three bedrooms at one time?! Then, I thought about all your belongings that I’ve already “let go” of and how I felt afterwards. The very first thing I have away was your SUV. I remember you mentioning days before you died how you wanted to give your brother the SUV if you were to buy another car. So, giving your bother the SUV felt right since it was like I was fulfilling a wish you had. As an exercise, a few months after you passed, my therapist suggested I have your family and friends come and take whatever keepsake or mementos they that was yours. I decided everything was fair game, even if it was something I wanted to keep, I told myself, I was not going to say anything and just let them have it. When it was family members and friends, it felt good since I know they would love and cherish your items as much as I would. Then I allowed our cleaning lady and her family to take anything they wanted from your closet since it was going to be donated at some point anyways. That was a lot harder than I had expected. A few months later, I allowed your family to come again for round 2 and I did this a few more times. At one point, I finally told them it was last call since I was planning to clean out your closet soon. (Of course, “soon” was loosely used choice of word, since it probably took another six to eight months before I finally cleaned out your closet.). Overtime, even this became easier and almost anti-climactic. Then one random trash day when I was taking the trash cans out to the curb after work, I don’t know what came over me, but I just marched into our bathroom and grabbed all your toiletries and put them in trash bag and threw them out. They were always just sitting there on the bathroom countertop just staring at me – even at times, I felt like they were mocking me. Why are you keeping us still?! It’s not like you’re ever going to use aftershave or that razor?! I would just stare at them each morning I started my day and each night I ended my day. I guess I finally got fed up with all the staring and mocking. So, without even a thought, I just threw them out. Honestly, I think it was just a way for me to curse at you since I was upset that you died and left me to take care of all your house chores like lugging the trash can to the curb every week. There were a few times that night that I told myself to grab them all from the crash can before I regret it. I’m positive I cried myself to sleep that night since this was the first time I threw anything of yours away (I don’t even think I threw away your snacks and candy in the pantry yet at this point in time, even though they were perishable). 😂🤣 Around the 9- or 10-month mark, I made a conscious effort to stop wearing my wedding ring. I remember I was always staring and fixating on the empty ring finger for a very long time. I would go to touch or move it around my fingers out of habit and freak out a bit when I realized there was no ring on my finger. to only realize it wasn’t there anymore. Taking off my wedding ring was actually really hard, and it took a really long time to get used, but with everything else and in due time, an empty ring finger because the “new norm” and I stopped fixating and looking for a nonexistent ring. Well, we don’t need to revisit the closet again, right?! I think we all know it was kicking my ass for over a year and a half before I was able to beat it and reign supreme. Even though I had planned to clean out your closet so many times, I was never able to do it. But like the toiletries, I literally woke up one morning on the weekend, and I decided this was the day and just did it. I didn’t even think twice about it. I literally got out of bed, closed my eyes, turned off any emotions or feelings I had, and just threw all your things into boxes that were sitting in the bedroom for probably six months by this time. Although it took a few more months before I found the courage to donate your things, I did when the opportunity came whether I was ready or not. As I looked back on all your things I had to “let go” of, I realized one thing – whether I was ready or not, I did “let go” and I survived, even if it was hard – I survived and I’m still standing. So, in essence, I don’t need a third guest bedroom, and I ended up getting rid of the bedroom we had for over 10 years. And yes, of course, with my eyes closed and without a second thought.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Bay Area for a visit. Originally, it was to visit friends and be back in the Bay since I missed it. But it also ended up being a trip to bring your cremains to SoCal!! Yes, I got you a final resting place where my grandmother’s buried. It’s actually walking distance from her burial plot, so I’m hoping you guys can party together. 😂🤣 (Fingers crossed everybody speaks the same language wherever you guys are, or at least there will be translators available to help you guys communicate).
When I first arrived in So Cal in mid-Oct, it was tomb-sweeping, so we went to visit my great grandparents and grandmother’s burial plot. When I was at my grandmother’s plot, there was a black granite wall of niches at the back of the area. Mind you, I’ve been to this area of the cemetery a few times since you passed and seen this wall many times before. But, for some reason, this time it occurred to me that maybe I should think about finding you a final resting place. After I got back from tomb-sweeping, I called a cemetery in the Bay Area to get more information, and I eventually made an appointment to view the facility after I booked my ticket to the Bay Area. Without much thought, at that time, it just made sense to find you a final resting place in the Bay Area. Fast forward to six months, and it’s tomb-sweeping again in early April. (I know, can you believe I've survived living with my parents for this long?! I'm just as surprised as you are!! 😂🤣) When we visited my grandmother’s burial plot and I saw the black granite wall of niches at the back of the area again, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I get a niche for S here?!” I know it didn’t make sense at all, but somehow it felt like the right thing to do. During the tomb-sweeping rituals, I texted your mom and asked her thoughts about having your final resting place in So Cal instead of the Bay Area. I didn’t ask your dad since he lives in So Cal, so I assumed he wouldn’t have any objections to it since it was a lot closer for him. When your mom gave her blessings, I still wanted to view the grounds at the cemetery in the Bay Area before making a final decision. However, a week or so later, I think in my heart, I already knew the decision I was going to make. Then one night I had a dream about you (which I haven’t had a dream about you in a very long time) and we were just chatting about something (not relating to your final resting place or anything like that) but in the dream, you said, “Yes, Babe, that sounds like a good idea!” And I responded with, “Really?! You think so?!” And you replied, “Yes!” Then I woke up. It felt like you were trying to tell me it was the right decision, so I purchased the niche a few weeks before my Bay Area trip. So, it just made sense to bring you to So Cal in my carry-on luggage on the return trip. 😂🤣
Below is an excerpt from the letter I wrote to your family about my decision-making process of why I decided on So Cal as your final resting place:
Prior to S’s passing, we had a brief discussion regarding his final wishes, but one thing he never expressed was what to do with his ashes. I've thought about this a lot over the years since he passed, but I never really knew what to do with his ashes. Maybe I wasn't really ready to let him go or accept that he is truly no longer here, but it was always the biggest unknown and "strife" in my life at times. But, after much contemplation and blessing from his mother, I finally decided to purchase a niche at my family's cemetery.
It was a hard decision between keeping him in the Bay Area or relocating him to Southern California, but after much thought and contemplation, for me, it just made a lot of sense since the cemetery is where my family is or will be buried. My great grandparents and grandmother are already buried at this location and my grandfather and parents will be buried at this location as well. So, essentially, I realized that I will always be tied to his cemetery in one way or another -- so for me, I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to visit without any inconvenience for me. (Yes, I'm only thinking of myself! haha). My family also visits the cemetery twice a year for tomb-sweeping, so I know, even if I don't get to visit him often, he will always have visitors at least twice a year dropping off his favorite snacks! :)
With COVID and the ability to literally work from anywhere, I really don't know where my life will take me and whether I relocate back to the Bay Area is very uncertain at this moment and who knows where my life will take me down the road either -- but one thing I do know for sure is that I will always be tied to this cemetery.
So, Babe, your new home is in sunny and hot Southern California with a view of the smog and pollution 😂🤣, downtown LA, and the mountains beyond downtown LA. It’s actually quite nice and serene there.
When I was making funeral arrangements the week you passed, the funeral director asked if I wanted to purchase a niche for you at their facility. My immediate response was “No!” In my mind, I was going to live with you forever and ever in our dream home. I had you prominently displayed in the back of our living room surrounded with our photos from throughout the years. Looking back at it now, it felt like a shrine I erected to honor and celebrate our life, relationship, and your memory. There were days where I would walk up to your urn, look at our photos, and just cry to my heart’s content. It was hard to contemplate and fathom your existence concluded inside that box. Over time, that area of the living room became invisible to me. It didn’t feel important anymore. I started to feel you were living inside of me, and I didn’t need the physical reminder that you passed away. I remember telling my therapist that I didn’t want to keep your urn anymore, but I didn’t know what to do with it either. I guess for the longest time, it was like a mental strife slowly simmering in the back burner. I had thought about asking your mother if she wanted to keep you, but I also knew she wasn’t in a place in her grief process to ask either, so I sat on it for a while.
When I decided to sell our house and didn’t know what my plans were yet for temporary housing, I asked your mom if you could temporarily stay with her until I found a permanent housing situation since I didn’t want to put you in storage or lug you around with me to who knows where. I already had my hand full with the four fur babies in tow. (Oh yes, how is our baby Jesse?! I know you probably have your hands full with him after he crossed the rainbow bridge two Christmases ago. He always loved to annoy and irk you. 😂🤣 Give him lots of belly rubs and snuggles for me and let him know I love and miss him to bits and pieces.)
Before deciding to find you a final resting place, I did give your mom the option of keeping you. But she felt the same way I did, which was you deserved a final resting place. I know some people choose to scatter their loved one’s ashes in a body of water, but scattering your ashes in a body of water somewhere didn’t seem like something you would want. You’re such a homebody, and you liked building deep roots and staying in one place, so finding a niche made the most sense to me. You’ve always wanted to move to So Cal at some point, so now you’re a permanent So Cal resident!!
After I made this decision, I left like this big weight lifted from me. I didn’t realize it was weighing on me that much until it was gone. It’s almost feels like I’m getting a sense of "closure" in some respect. Closure in what?! I don’t know, but I just feel like this big burden has finally lifted, and I can finally start focusing on creating and designing this mosaic I’ve been want to start. 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 But you never know, nothing about widowhood ever surprises me. I could regret this decision in due time also!! 😂🤣
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.