What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Boiling Over

I'm feeling so supported today. God's timing is just so amazing.

However, last night was difficult. Aria went to bed a little early, allowing me more evening quiet time. I thought this was going to be a good thing...

I ate toast and bacon and had a glass of wine. I chuckled at how Brandon would be shocked by this new me. She who always obsessed over food. It has to be the perfect temperature, everything has to be ready at the same time and could never eat the same thing over and over. I have always been a picky eater. And here I am calling this dinner?!

Well, now I eat for necessity, not pleasure. I rarely have time to eat sitting down or while it's hot, and I'll eat pretty much anything put in front of me.

Toast, bacon and wine on a Friday night. Then I cried myself to sleep. Not quite the evening I had hoped for. But I know this part of the grief has to happen.

It's been hard to cry. I can tear up all day long, but to just cry it out has been a rarity.  It's tough to allow it to boil over, but I'm learning that I have to surrender to it when it comes on.

I woke this morning feeling a little anxious. Three of my girlfriends were coming over to have a cooking afternoon. I wasn't sure if I would be much company, let alone capable.

But God.  Oh, he knew how I needed to be surrounded by such loving friends.  I think He allowed me to fall into despair last night, knowing they would be there to lift me up in the morning.  We laughed and we cooked. 

And I had to remind myself that I don't always have to be 'on'.  I don't always have to appear to be OK.  Because the truth is, I'm not OK.  And that's OK.  And showing our hurt, vulnerability, and need isn't a bad thing.  It's freeing actually.  And it's often where I've found God showing up the most.  And being surrounded by such loving, giving friends always helps.

And not only did this afternoon serve me, but it served all of us!  We all have 4 full meals in our fridge for the week to come. 

I seriously recommend this strategy to others.  I mean, you get to hang out with your friends and then have meals ready for the upcoming week.  For me, since there is only myself eating, I'll have lunch and dinner all week long.  For the others, they will have 4 dinners, and likely 2 days of leftovers also, and it only took us 3 hours including a pizza lunch break.  Now all of our evenings this upcoming week will allow us extra time not cooking.

Here is our strategy in case you want to give it a try:

-Up to 4 people.
-Each person picks a meal to make. Pick different proteins or style (Mexican, Italian, etc.) for variety.
-Each person supplies the makings for their dish, with enough for 2 - 4 servings for all who are cooking.
-Each person supplies the 'disposable' Tupperware for their dish.
-Pick a day and help each other cook and assemble the dishes.

If something takes a while simply prep that part the day before (ex: slow cooking pulled chicken).  We even had a vegetarian and a 'meat-on-the-side' preference to work with, and successfully accommodated both.

We had a great time, in a short time, was inexpensive, accomplished a daily need, AND we all have healthy home cooked meals to enjoy.  Win-win-win-win-win.

Anyhow, I was excited to share this idea with you all since it was so successful for us.

God bless.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

6 month / 3.5 month Update

I can not believe my sweet girl is actually 6 months old already. God has blessed me with a beautiful baby with a beautiful temperament! I have been told by many on airplanes, in stores, and at restaurants how well behaved she is. I truly believe God has everything to do with this.

Aria is sitting on her own now! Still supervised, because she hasn't quite figured out the consequences of gravity completely. She has done a full 360 degree pivot on her belly following Tobey (the cat) as he circled the room. She is holding her own bottle and we also started some solids this week which has been a delightfully messy experience!

She cut two bottom teeth over Christmas too. I didn't even know, she was teething, then there they were! My goodness their new developments happen so fast.

Oh, she is just the most precious little thing to me. She wakes up with a smile and does this cute little wiggle of excitement when my face pops into her view over the crib. It melts my heart. She would have Brandon wrapped so tightly around her finger.

As for me, I think I am entering the next phase of my grief. The shock is starting to wear off. It's strange how that works. The fog is lifting a bit, revealing everything with more distinction. The good part about this is that it is allowing me to finally feel the deep maternal love for my daughter. That feeling people talk about having that can only be known once you become a parent. Don't misunderstand, I have loved Aria from the moment we knew she was growing inside me, and even more when I finally held her in my arms. And every day, as I get the blessing of being her mother, that bond grows stronger and stronger. But grief is all encompassing, and shock dulls both the bad and the good. It becomes about survival, and numbness has seemed to be my ticket through the past 6 months.

However, as I start to feel again, that means that I am more attuned to the ache of Brandon's loss now too. It's harder to push that pang of pain aside to “keep on keepin' on”. It lingers, and demands to be felt.

Like every morning as I pour my orange juice, I now reach for only one cup. Lately this mundane daily task brings about so much heart ache. First I think how I used to pour for two. I'm taken back to how our mornings used to be. A smile tugs at the corner of my mouth as I remember how I had to set 2 alarms. One, about a half an hour before we had to get up that stirred Brandon so that he could come over and cuddle before we had to actually get up. He was not ashamed of his love of snuggles!

Then, instantly I feel like I have been punched in the gut, missing his embrace so deeply. I think of how off it feels to be sleeping on his side of the bed. The whole room looks different from there even though it hasn't changed. It looks like the difference between a house and a home. The presence that made our bedroom feel warm, loving and safe is gone. Now it's a shell of what was.

My mind auto pilots on this roller coaster of beautiful memories and deep hurt, each one leading seamlessly to the next.

Suddenly I snap out of it. I don't know how much time has passed as I stare blankly at a single glass of orange juice. An unlikely trigger for bunny trails of memories, thoughts and anguish, but yet every day the most absurd thing leads to this viscous circle of events, and it has only gotten harder lately as the shock wears off.

But God has remained faithful. Just as the shock has begun to wear off He brought my friend here for a visit at the perfect timing. To laugh with me, cry with me, and give me just a little taste of what it's like to take care for a child with a partner. The fun of just sitting on the floor watching this precious little girl discovering this world around her with such excitement and innocence, and having someone else there to enjoy it with.

It's hard to explain the loneliness of doing it all alone. Surprisingly it's the seemingly insignificant moments that so significantly hurt. It's the down time. The time in between. It's so very, very quiet.

Yes, I know - soon it won't be very quiet around here. I'm sorry, but knowing that doesn't help. Then I'll be longing for my partner to help me through the chaos, not the quiet.

And the quiet is so much more then just a lack of "noise". It's the quiet in the space that Brandon used to be. No amount of noise will ever fill that space.

But, on a more positive note, I do also see some improvement over the 3 months since Brandon has passed.  I have come to accept that this is my reality.  The moments where my head spins and all I can repeat in my mind is "Is this real? Is this real?  Is this real?" are less frequent.  It has moved on to "Why did this happen?".  But I'm not looking for an answer. It's just a different kind of disbelief I guess.

So we will keep taking it one day at a time.  I have found some wonderful support groups that I look forward to attending a few times a month.  I am getting a childcare schedule figured out and am attempting to find some "normalcy" in this mess.  And God continues to direct each step I take.

Note:  Again, please feel free to sign up for email notifications to continue to follow our journey, as I will no longer be updating on CaringBridge.  Thank you!