The ‘Real’ After

196 Days. I quit counting the days long ago but I’m still aware of them. Painfully so at times. The Facebook memories reminds me of what we were doing precisely a year ago. Time marches on.

This particular post has a very, very important purpose. Less than a week before my Raggedy Man passed, Erica Roman posted a blog in defense of Patton Oswalt finding a new love. I didn’t know if at the time, but our conversations regarding that would become crucial in the coming months. You see, he told me he wanted me happy. He said, and I know he meant it, that if I found someone to keep me safe and laughing the day he passed to pursue it. To not be afraid. To continue living and loving.

That day, him dying was so far from my mind. I had some health issues going on and the anxiety had convinced me I would be the one struck with a sudden illness and I wanted him to know that I just wanted him to be happy. So we talked. And less than a week later he was gone.

The first couple of months were a hellish nightmare. I don’t think I really breathed until I went to California. Then I spent many nights fearing the loneliness that this new chapter bought me. I have so much love to give and the holidays bought up that ‘welp, this isn’t how you planned it.’ I sat alone, wanting to be with him.

I signed up for Tinder. I’m being honest for the sake of it, guys. I didn’t want to date. I didn’t want sex. My profile literally said I just wanted someone to geek out to. Yet, because it’s Tinder, I would get propositioned. I should have known better. My final straw was when someone said I wasn’t ‘ready to move on.’ While they were correct, the implication that Chris was something I should move on from by like… now… actually bought out anger. I had plans to delete it, but by chance, fate (and I think in some ways, Chris) stepped in.

I matched with this guy, Peru (guys autocorrect hates his name and it’s perfect and makes me laugh so hard). With the cheesy pick up line, a conversation of I don’t even know what started. And sex wasn’t bought up. Eventually we added each other on FB , at which point I made it clear I was recently widowed and if it was a problem, to kindly just leave now. He didn’t leave, in fact, he told me he was surprised I didn’t talk about Chris more. So I began doing so.

We made plans to meet up. So we had a Christmas date, almost ruined with sickness. However, I made the trek and enjoyed some good company and steak dinner. The next day was the *real* beginning for me, though. As we walked back from lunch, he took my food. I protested but he insisted and then held my hand. And I’m pretty sure it was in that instant my guard was let down.

I went over to his place for New Years and was welcomed by a card welcoming me home. Guys, I don’t even think I’ve mentioned the meaning behind home here. But there it was – something saying I belonged.

January 10, I informed him that I was ready to go in. That I would still talk about Chris, that I would still need to go as slow as possible, but that I wanted to pursue this with him. There was one caveat – I did not wish to change my FB status. As silly as it sounds, it connects me to Chris and that is something that needs to dissipate over time. I went from engaged to married to widow in less than a year and I want something to remain steady.

That is more why this post was needed. While I worry to a degree what others think (hello , people pleaser) I do want others to know that life is horrid. It absolutely drags you down and knocks you out. Yet, there are unexpected joys. Sometimes in the form of a spark of love you never, ever expected.

I don’t know where life is taking me. All I know is that I cried over Chris last weekend and he stood by me, holding me. I know that I laughed for nearly 10 minutes straight. I know that in the last month, we’ve watched all extended editions Lord of the Rings and Hobbits. I know that I have been told ‘I have to keep my lady safe’ and I know that it’s all Chris would want. He would want me to live and love again and that’s what I’m trying. Learning the balance of keeping his memory alive while learning that life is okay without him.

I am thankful.

6 months feels like a lifetime.  Just as our relationship seemed to evade time, so does this after.  Some instances it feels like it happened yesterday. Others, it feels like he’s been gone a lifetime.  I can talk openly about it all now and not have a complete breakdown though my voice still cracks.

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The past month has been so incredibly kind to me.  I’m currently sitting in MY apartment, with our kitten (Roo) getting into every single box there is.  I’ve had to rescue her from several tall ones.  It’s been four months since she and I have shared a home.  It may be a long night as she explores, but I am so incredibly thankful that she is under my roof.  That she has snuggled up to me already and purred.  Hearing her tiny meows.

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I’ve found a very amazing person who in, some ways, I think Chris helped lead me to.  The past few weekends have been spent with him, and he doesn’t get tired or frustrated with the million Chris stories I tell.  He makes me laugh, which i am 100% sure Chris would be down for.  He helped me move into my apartment and has been keeping the lonliness at a minimum.  It’s been nice having someone to share conversations with someone.  To share the same geeky quirks and likes so that I can fangirl freely.

6 months out is not looking anything like I imagined 6 months out should, or would, look like.  But it is.  I am thankful for the peace that is somewhat entered my life.  January 14, 2018 looks a million times better than I’d imagined. The pain is still there but I am learning to embrace it as part of life and to enjoy the moments i am given with others.  After all, I know Chris would be proud of where I am.

Welcome To Midnight

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s a time of great reflection. I’ve always been one to do the whole ‘out with the old, in with the new’ while congratulating myself on continuing this journey.  This time last year, I was curled up on the couch listening to Chris’s dad and him exchange stories.  I was worried about my own health, never in a million years imagining that 2017 would see Chris taken from my life.

I’m going to be honest – this is the night I’ve dreaded the most.  Something about going into a new year without him was scary.  It’s like some part of me just wants to stay here, because maybe staying in this year will somhow bring him closer.  It’s silly thoughts, just as the thoughts of ‘he’s just in the next room’ are silly.  He isn’t here, but that’s okay.  He would want me to face this new year head on.

The past couple of weeks have been surprisingly kind to me.  I’m spending New Years in West Virginia of all places.  I’m being social and actually really looking forward to the ball drop as 2017 fades into a memory.  A very strong memroy, but a memory nevertheless.  I will welcome 2018 with open arms, thankful for what I have learned and for those who have been placed in my life.  I look forward to this new year, cautiously hoping that it is kind.  I welcome Midnight and all that it brings.

To read more about the premise behind Welcome To Midnight, visit TWLOHA

 

Waiting For The End

If you learn anything about me outside of Chris from this blog, please learn that music is my life force.  There are so many times that I’m unable to come up with an explanation to how i feel and music steps in.  In this particular season of life – “Waiting For The End” by Linkin Park has become an anthem of sorts.

I didn’t listen to them for a while after Chris’s death.  Chester passed so soon after Chris and it was such a punch in the gut sometimes.  Listening to this band that helped describe my battle with mental illness (see ‘Numb’ and ‘Heavy’) and knowing they were missing a large part as well.

However, as with most things, I did finally listen to them a month ago.  I despised ‘Waiting For The End’ when it first came out.  I have no idea why, but I did.  However, my return to Linkin Park involved this song, and it has been played daily since listening.

What was left when that fire was gone?
I thought it felt right but that right was wrong
All caught up in the eye of the storm
And trying to figure out what it’s like moving on
And I don’t even know what kind of things I said
My mouth kept moving and my mind went dead
So I’m picking up the pieces, now where to begin
The hardest part of ending is starting again

I’m not saying Chris was wrong because gods knows he wasn’t.  However, the belief that this relationship was going to do me for years to come was wrong.  That I was going to wake up to him when I’m 40 and make breakfast and then go on an adventure.  I got just under 2 years of that.  I am thankful for that time.

I’ve been stuck, and that’s to be expected.  I woke up on July 14 expecting to go to the animal shelter later that day and pick up a dog.  I walked into that ER with him expecting them to say they don’t know whats wrong.  I then changed that belief to quickly ‘he’s going to have heart surgery but we’ll get through this.’  Then finally, my reality became life without Chris.  So it’s natural that, given the circumstances and the fact that he was my person, I’ve been in a rut.

However, I am coming to terms with the knowledge that he would want me happy.  That it’s not wrong to laugh hard at other peoples jokes or enjoy the company of others.  That its okay to find people attractive.  I’m not disrespecting him by continuing to live my life.

So here, at the close of 2017, I’m choosing to look forward.  Picking up the pieces of what was my life and intertwining them into what my life is now and what it will be.  The hardest part of this is starting again – but he would want me to.  Even better, I want to.

I know what it takes to move on.

And I will do so.  He always said he admired my perseverance.  While the hardest part of ending is starting again, I welcome it with open arms and believe that better days are ahead.

2018.  Please be kind.

Christmas Memories

In our entire time of knowing each other, I can only think of one time Chris raised his voice to me. Facebook reminded me it was on this date last year. It’s, amusingly, something I’ve sort of looked forward to because the memory is so strong. The memory is all thanks to a little movie known as Elf.

I love Elf. Since it’s release, it’s been my ‘most see’ movie. Yet I never owned it. So when chris and I started talking about our movies to watch Christmas Eve, I kept bugging him. “We could rent Elf ” or “We should go home and watch Elf” was said countless times. After I’m sure what was 3+ hours of this, he raised his voice and told me to stop and be quiet. I cried. The look in his eyes while he hugged me from that is the look I miss. This ‘I’ll take care if you.’ I couldn’t understand why I just got scolded (though I did shortly) I just knew I wanted to go home.

We got home and he had me close my eyes and placed this in my hand. I then did my normal “I’m so excited”‘ squeal and jump. He kissed me and told me to learn patience (still working on that one.)

Chris wasn’t big on Christmas but he was big on me so we exchanged gifts and went to Christmas Eve service. We didn’t have time to make any traditions, as last Christmas was the only one we got together. But I am thankful for that one year of memories. So that whenever I see Elf, I can think of the only time I thought I’d made Chris angry. And the laughter after.

And so it continues.

Life, and so, death. Death managed to stay away from my thoughts for a while. Other than my Grandmother in 2009, I spent the first 24 years of my life not understanding. Then 2015 came. My grandfather passed. It was silent following that but man did that hurt. Chris would end up finding me crying somewhere missing Papaw so badly.

Then this summer hit.

  1. Chris
  2. Mamaw
  3. Aunt Freda

All within a month of each other. But life continued, until today.

E passed. My other strong Viking man. I’m in shock. It’s not nearly as bad as in July but it’s there. The ‘This can’t be happening. He’s coming over next weekend maybe?’

My heart is once again broken. It wasn’t even remotely okay before but it’s shattered even more. This is the part of life that no one can ever really prepare you for. Even experience can’t take away the sting. Death is a cruel mistress.

I could literally go my whole life without seeing : hearing the word ‘aneurysm’ and still hear it too soon.

Yet I find it is more in my life after this. After Chris. I don’t like using the word ‘triggered’ since it’s become such a huge way for people to make fun of those who do struggle – but it is. A word is a trigger for me.

It puts me back in the moment it happened. The moment life completely changed. The word makes me twitch and on the worst days immediately makes me cry. Today is obviously one of the worst days for that word specifically.

So here I am, 11:19 in the morning, after seeing the word, crying. Not heaving but tears streaming down my face because I miss him and I despise this thing that took him from me. This thing that I keep praying didn’t hurt him.

I still spend a lot of time praying that whatever form he’s in that he doesn’t hurt. All I want is him safe and that’s all I’ve ever wanted since he walked into my life.

If I can keep telling myself that this, him being gone, means he’s at peace or happy or some sort of good something – then I can keep facing this stupid word.