Well, it looks like I survived Thanksgiving. I wanted to spend it on my own terms. I didn’t want to deal with a lot of people. I didn’t want to put on a smile and “fake it until I make it.” I just wanted to have a quiet day to allow whatever emotions surface the freedom to come without the pressure of an audience “watching, assessing, and judging” me. I know people can’t help it, and they don’t mean to, but sometimes, I feel like I’m living in a fishbowl and everybody is watching, trying to assess my mental state, trying to figure out what they should or should not say around me. Like I need to be handled with kit gloves. Like they need to be respectful by putting on a solemn face whenever I’m around. If I crack a “my husband is dead” joke, they shriek in horror while I’m rolling on the floor laughing. Hello People?!, my husband died, but I haven’t lost my sense of humor!! I know it’s morbid, but F*** just laugh, okay?! I was at dinner with some friends awhile ago, and everybody went around the table asking how everybody was doing and what’s new in their life, but of course, no one once asked how I was doing or whether there was anything new in my life. I guess people just think widows are a pity party, and they don’t expect us to have anything new or good to share in our life anymore.
Anyways, enough of my rant, back to Thanksgiving. EE cooked Thanksgiving dinner; we ate, played board games, and watched holiday themed movies. I wanted to start decorating for Christmas but it rained all day Thursday and Friday, so I opted for postponing decorating for the holidays to tomorrow when it dries up. But, I did put up your Black Santa!! The 8 feet tall inflatable Black Santa that you purchased and arrived after you passed. You found it last year, but you refused to purchase it until you found a 6 feet tall Asian Mrs. Claus (and it had to be a 6 feet tall Asian Mrs. Claus so the height difference and race was proportional to us). You were on the hunt with your coworkers, but you were never able to find the Asian Mrs. Claus (even though I kept telling you that you will never find an Asian Mrs. Claus since Asian people don’t care about these things and are perfectly happy with putting up a White Santa and Mrs. Claus). I knew how badly you wanted inflatable holiday decorations because each year you would talk about it and I always say, “Babe, it will get stolen the night we put it up!! Why waste the money?! And they’re not cheap either!!” You always reluctantly agreed. I think, you hoped that one year I would say, “Okay Babe, go ahead and buy that $150, 10 feet inflatable snowman even though it will get stolen in less than a week after we put it up!!” But of course, I never ever said that!!! Last year was the first time we lived in a neighborhood where there was a high likelihood that the inflatable holiday decorations would not get stolen off our front yard. So, you were so excited and started looking for inflatable decorations, and I even said, “Okay!!” So, I was so surprised when you didn’t buy the Black Santa when you couldn’t find the Asian Mrs. Claus. I thought you would give up looking after a week and just buy the Black Santa, but you stood firm and refused. Well, Christmas came and went, and we didn’t have inflatable holiday decorations in our front yard. The week after Christmas, I finally talked you into buying the inflatable Black Santa (because I knew how much you wanted it) by saying, “Babe, the Black Santa is on sale now, and you will have an entire year to look for an Asian Mrs. Claus.” And you responded with, “Oh, that’s a good idea!!” So, you purchased it, and it arrived shortly after you passed. And, just to let you know, it’s taller than the house, Babe!! Why am I not even surprised?! You’re not known for being subtle, that’s for sure!! I can’t help but feel like it’s you in a Santa suit greeting me whenever I come home now!! I missed you very much this week.
Last night, I fell asleep on the sofa while we were watching TV, and when I woke up, I felt this sharp pain in my heart because it occurred to me that you died. Tears started to well up in my eyes and slowly rolled off my face. I haven’t felt this type of emotion since the first few months after you passed. Somehow, it’s really hitting me that you aren’t coming home again. Well, you’re probably wondering how the “great purge” went?! I think, overall, it went pretty well. I didn’t really do everything I wanted to do, but I think I did more than I realistically thought I would be able to do. But mainly, a lot of your stuff went to family and friends that came through this week to take whatever they wanted and could use. I think the hardest part for me was when the cleaning lady walked out with your stuff. I had to hold back the tears when she was leaving. Somehow, when your things was going to your family and friends, it didn’t feel as painful because I could rationalize that it was staying within the family. But when AC said, “I will take really good care of his things,” and walked out of the front door with your stuff, I stood in the hallway like my heart was being ripped from my body. I had to fight really hard to not cry, since I didn’t want her to feel bad. But, after she left and when I finally allowed myself, I was in tears. ⅔ of your things in the man room is gone and ½ of your things in the closet are gone.
Before the “great purge,” I thought about all the things I would put in your side of the closet, so it wouldn’t look half empty or that something was missing. I wasn’t sure if I could bear seeing your part of the closet empty. But, as people were taking things off the rods and shelves, I realize that I need to leave your section of the closet empty. I need to get comfortable with living and looking at the emptiness, the loss, the pain, and the physical change in my life that screams, “You are no longer whole. You are no longer the person you were when your husband was alive. You are forever changed, whether you like it or not. You are a widow and he is never coming home. This is your reality now. You have to start accepting this reality even if you can’t get comfortable with it, especially if you want to survive this journey and breathe again!!” So, each morning, I look at your partially empty closet and wonder if I will survive this journey or will I get pulled in by the tidal waves of grief and drown to death!! I guess, only time will tell, right?!
So, right now, it’s 1-0, your partially empty closet is in the lead!!
I can’t believe that it’s almost time for the “great purge!” EE flies in tomorrow and we have a jam packed schedule, I wonder at what point we will actually go through your things. Sometimes I wonder if I started scheduling all these activities this week to avoid having to face the music. I guess only time will tell if I can really go through with the “great purge” or not.
Last week, I felt like this sense of urgency and antsiness to kick off the “great purge” as soon as possible and let go of everything you owned, like somehow it would make me feel better and more settled in my new widowhood reality. I’ve been feeling stuck and unsettled for some time now. Previously, it was very comforting to have all your things around, even if I tended to ignore them. However, there were times where I would miss you so much, I would force myself to look at your pictures and touch your things, so I could remember and feel closer to you, even if doing so would bring me great pain and sadness. Having your things around made me feel safe and comfortable. They enabled me to continue living in a fantasy world where you were on an extended business trip and I was still someone’s wife waiting for her husband to come home. Somehow, it gave me hope that maybe you would walk through the door at any moment and say, “Hey Babe, guess what?!” (You always said I couldn’t hold water and that you didn't like to gossip!! But, you loved hearing about all the gossip, even if you pretended that you didn’t!! 😜😜😘😘) I will admit, there were times where I would stare at our front door and willed you to come home, but you never did. Just like you never woke up from the metal slab you were laying on at the hospital, even when I was profusely crying over your body and begging and pleading for you to get up so we could go home. I felt safe, happy, and content because it was a dream I never wanted to wake up from where you were very much alive, we were happily married, and we get the chance to grow old together. I mean, I was still wearing my wedding ring, talking about you in the present tense, and always referring to you as “my husband” without batting an eyelid. Everything made sense. Everything was in its place. Nothing was out of alignment. It was a facade I wanted to maintain, to live in, to continue believing in. (I mean, hello?! All of your stuff is still laying around where you left them!! So, DUH?! Of course, at some point in time, you would be coming home to use them, right?!) I guess this dream, fantasy world, facade, or whatever you want to call it worked, until it didn’t.
Recently, I started to notice this stark misalignment in my life, between the world I lived in, in my mind, and wanted so badly to hold on to with dear life versus the actual reality that I was really living in where I didn’t want to believe was real or true. I guess, at some point within the last month or so, taking off my wedding ring has had some unbeknownst adverse effects on me. Somehow, referring to you as “my husband” and speaking about you in the present tense felt odd and weird and strange whenever I glanced at my empty ring finger; like somehow I was lying to the world because I don’t have a husband anymore, and he isn’t living in the present either. (I mean, hello?! How can you still be married?! You’re husband’s dead, and you’re not even wearing a wedding ring anymore!! Right?!) So, I felt like I had to explain myself and back peddle everytime I said “my husband” since there was no longer a living husband or a wedding ring on my ring finger. It gets really exhausting trying to explain one’s widowhood status to people, and unfortunately, I still continue to do it now.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can no longer continue to straddle these two worlds anymore. I have to make a choice as to which one I want to live in. One is a lie and the other is the truth. One makes me feel safe, happy, and content; it gives me hope and allows me to sleep through the night. The other is a painful and heart wrenching nightmare that feels like my heart and soul is slowly and painstakingly being ripped from my body piece by piece until I bleed out and die myself. (I know, I’m so dramatic and this is where you say, “And the Oscar goes to SY for dramatic performance!! 😂🤣😂🤣)
I guess only time will tell which world I will choose to live in, as of right now, I’m still straddling both worlds, feeling stuck, unsettled, misaligned and unable to sleep through the night (and you know how I love my sleep. Before you died, nothing ever kept me up at nights or restless in bed - except maybe when I was working for the fruit company!). Hence, my current state of panic (as you would like to call it) that’s causing this desperate and urgent call to action to do something to “fix” the turmoil that’s boiling inside of me and is about to erupt and explode. The pressure is too much and something has to give. So, I’m hoping the “great purge” will somehow “talk me off the ledge” from this full fledge “SY panic mode” I’m currently in. Or, at the least, it will “tame the wild and crazy beast” that rages inside of me for a little bit. Yes, I know I probably sound crazy and out of my mind right now with all these uncontrolled and rampant emotions and feelings flying around inside of me, especially when I think that somehow purging your things would magically make me feel better and more settled in my new widowhood status and reality.
Trust me Babe, I’m not delusional!! I know that this pain and uneasiness and unsettledness will never end. I know that I will always and forever carry these burdens inside of me for the rest of my life. Don’t worry, I get it loud and clear!! I understand it with every fabric of my being and soul. But, I still need to try and fight!! I can’t just give in without some sort of fight!! I can’t just stand still and admit defeat!! That is just not who I am. Even if I know I will always lose in this battle, I’m still not the kind of person who will ever go down without a fight, you know that about me!! Probably all too well!!
Yes, I know I have to pace myself because this journey is a never ending marathon. But sometimes, I just want to sprint towards the finish line, even though I’ve come to learn there isn’t one; at least not one I can see thus far. The closer I think I get to the finish line, the further away it moves from me. There are times where I can almost taste the victory, but then I blink and realize it was just a mirage; a figment of my imagination from the exhaustion and delirium of being stranded in a desert without water for too long.
Well, all I can say is, “Game on!! Let the recalibration begin!!”
Today is our 15th year anniversary of when we first met. You walked into my life and I was forever changed. Even after all these years, if you look at a photo of us from when we first met and compared it to the last photo we will ever take together, nothing has changed except a few extra pounds (okay a lot of extra pounds!! 😂😂🤣🤣) We still look into each other like it was the first day we met. We were lucky to have found each other and continue holding on despite all the odds against us. Sometimes, it amazes me that we even got to where we did. Most days, when I woke up, I had to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe how lucky or happy I was to have you in my life; to be able to call you my partner in crime. We built something that was so impactful, it changed us both for the better. We loved each other on our good days and even more on our worst days. We loved each other with everything we had and always put the other person's happiness before our own. I don’t know what my life would have looked like or where I would be if I hadn’t met you or if we didn’t stay together all these years, but all I know, despite knowing how our story ends, I would never trade in our story, experiences, and memories for anything else.
Thank you for being my dance partner through life. Even though our song has ended, the music is still playing for me, and I will continue to dance in the rain until the rainbows appear again. I love you so much it hurts.
P.S. Thanks for the beautiful sunset today, Babe!! Even through the thick haze of ashes and debris from the camp fire in Chico, a beautiful and glorious sunset was able to shine through. I know you were trying to let me know that you were thinking of me also on this special day.
Like I said, even when I’m not aware that it’s the 7th of any month, it usually always hits me in some way or another. Today was really hard and I thought it was due to the realization that next weekend is the beginning of the “great purge” (yup, that’s what I’m calling it). Somehow, everything felt very absolute today, and I sent your family and friends a text to let them know that it was “last call” if they wanted anything else of yours. I thought that maybe this realization was the cause of my melancholy mood today, but then I realized as I started to write tonight that today is the 10th month deathversary. So, maybe it wasn’t the “great purge” after all. **SIGH** I almost didn’t make it to the car before I started crying after work today. This was the first time I started crying as I approached my car in the parking lot. I didn’t make it to the car before tears started rolling down my cheeks.
Everything is starting to feel more final and absolute, especially since I’m almost done closing out the affairs of your estate. There’s only a few more loose ends to close out and I’ll be done with your estate. (Yup, even in affairs of death, I move quickly and efficiently. I can’t help it; it’s an occupational hazard that is hard to break!!) If I was to gauge the rest of November by how it started (like in October), I would say it’s going to be another rough one. I’ll probably experience extreme emotional highs and lows from straddling two distinctly different worlds. One where I haven’t quite grasp the fact that I’m a widow and my husband’s absence is due to death and not a business trip while the other is the stark realization that I’m settling too well into my “new normal” that being alone has become so commonplace that at times, it feel like the life we shared was the dream, a figment of my imagination, a moment in time that is so distant now that I’m not sure if it actually happened or not. It feels almost strange to say that outloud, but that’s how I’ve been feeling lately.
The other day, I woke up in tears because I realized I didn’t want to keep anything of yours that I can’t use. They are just inanimate objects that signify nothing about you or us. I have everything I want with your wedding ring and buddha around my neck and all the love and memory we shared that resides in my heart and soul. These are the only things that matter to me. Everything else is just stuff. Even if at times, these memories are starting to fade, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter if I remember or hold on to these memories or not because they reside in me; they are the sum of who I am and who I’m becoming.
“I don’t care what happens to any of my things. I’m dead.” For some reason, these words you said to the estate planning lawyer at our initial consultation continues to play over and over again in my head when he asked you how you wanted your assets appropriated after your death. I’ve struggled with what to do with your things and what I want to hold on to and keep, but I know now that I don’t need any of it. I have everything I need and want around my neck and in my heart and soul. Apparently, you also made your wishes known when you said, “I don’t care what happens to my things. I’m dead!!”
I’m so glad October is finally over. Every weekend in October was a stark reminder that I’m a widow now. October opened with RJ’s 50th birthday dinner. I knew the dinner was going to be a hard since you guys were supposed to have a big 50th party together, another plan that will go unfulfilled. Then I went to the play in Sunnyvale and felt like I was looking at myself in the mirror when one of the actresses said, “in Eric’s memory.” It was a downward spiral after that first weekend in October. Then your mom invited us to a sport award at your high school the next weekend where you would be honored and inducted into the hall of fame with your track team. I don’t know what came over me, but I started crying when they announced your name. Then grief followed me to Taiwan and took away my only sanctuary and safe haven to the point where I told my boss I’m done traveling for the year and not going on the biz trip in December. Then when I got back from Taiwan, it was my 40th birthday. A milestone I always thought I would share with you. If anyone told me a year ago that I would approach 40 as a widow, I would have laughed in their face hysterically. Never in my mind would I ever believe that I would turn 40 without you laughing at me about all my new found ailments and grey hair. Then the last weekend in October closed with my first formal event as a widow. Our friend NB got married and you weren’t here to witness it or attend it with me. So, yeah, October was quite eventful and further solidified my status as a widow. Everyday in October, it felt like grief was trying to get me to regain consciousness and accept my new reality by slapping me in the face and scream at the top of her lungs, “Get a clue!! You’re a widow now, accept it, let go, and move on!!”
“Accept it, let go, and move on!!” It seems so easy, right?
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.