Sunday, March 25, 2012

I have to let go of the life I had planned.....

Wow, so it's been a while since I last posted, and I apologize I haven't been very good at updating everyone.  I know many of you are friends with me on Facebook, but some of you aren't so I figured it was time I should sit down and update everyone on the past few months.

My mom, step-dad, and my little brother got to come up for Christmas, and I was very thankful to be able to spend the holidays with them.  The holidays brought a lot of mixed emotions for me.  While I was thankful for being able to spend time with family, it was also hard to deal with that first Christmas without Pat.  It was hard to watch the kids opening their gifts, knowing that this year, Daddy wasn't sitting next to them, rooting them on, and participating, watching them giggle with their wide-eyed smiling faces.  In the week leading up to Christmas, the Memories of the Christmas before came flooding back to me like they had just happened.  I felt like I needed to be strong, and put on a 'happy face' for my kids, and family, so that's what I did, even though I felt like my heart was breaking into a million pieces all over again.  As difficult as it all was, I was surrounded by family that loves me, and I did make it through.

Kayden's Birthday was December 17.  I couldn't believe my baby boy was turning one already.  We had pizza, and of course Kayden had his birthday cake, and he was a mess!  There were lots of smiles, and laughter.  Kids running all over on a sugar high.  And just like anything else, it was very bittersweet.  It's difficult to watch Kayden hit all these milestones, all while knowing his proud papa isn't here to enjoy them along side me.  It's truly heartbreaking knowing that Kayden will only know his Daddy through what everyone else tells him, and pictures.  He will never have his own memories like I do.  He never got to experience just being in Pat's presence, or hearing his laughter, or seeing how his eyes lit up when he smiled.  He never got to experience just how wonderful a person his father really was.  He will only hear about it, which just isn't the same.

The week leading up to Valentine's Day was probably the hardest.  I couldn't even sidetrack my mind, and trust me I tried.  An image that will probably forever be with me, is watching him take his last breath, and how it made me feel.  I re-live that moment often, but the week leading up to Valentine's Day, that's all that kept going through my head.  I can remember that day like it happened yesterday.  I not only remember what happened, but when I think about it, all of the emotions I felt that day also come flooding back.  That week was full of emotions.  I couldn't believe that a whole year had passed already.  I couldn't believe that the love of my life had missed out on so many things.  I couldn't believe that the world was still spinning, after his life had ended.  It just didn't seem possible.
On Valentine's Day I got my first tattoo.  A memorial tattoo for Pat, that I had been planning for an entire year.  Everything in this tattoo is symbolic of something, and it turned out so much more beautiful than I ever imagined it to be.  It means the world to me, and I am so glad I got it done.  These pictures really don't do it any justice!
On the back of my calf, it says, "The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another", it is from Genesis 31:49, and Pat was buried with one half of a necklace (I have the other half), with this verse on it (it's called a Mizpah coin).  The flowers each symbolize something different.  The red rose symbolizes passionate love, a 'Forget-me-not' symbolizes remembered forever, the casablanca lily symbolizes celebration (of his life), and the white carnation symbolizes remembrance.  The orange ribbon (body of the butterfly) is the Leukemia awareness ribbon, and have several hearts incorporated into the ribbon.  The butterfly signifies 'rebirth', Pat has shed his 'earthly cocoon' and emerged as a butterfly into the Kingdom of Heaven.  The butterfly is colored red, one of Pat's favorite colors, and purple, which symbolizes mourning in Thailand.

The 27th of March is fast approaching, and it's another hard day for sure.  It would have been our second wedding anniversary.  I suspect it won't be quite as hard as last year.  My grief was still pretty raw at that point, and I was very saddened to be spending out first anniversary alone.  I don't suspect this year will be easy, by any means, but I feel like it may be somewhat easier than last year.  I don't know yet what I am going to do, but I can tell you, I don't really look forward to that day.

So you might be wondering, how am I doing today?  Well I am doing better than I was a year ago.  Some days are worse than others, but I am getting by.  I put one foot in front of the other, on a daily basis, and do the best I can.  
A lot of people seemed to drop off the radar, and it hurts to see relationships seemingly go down the drain.  On the other hand, I still have amazing people in my life, and for that I am truly thankful.  Some friendships are re-blooming, with people I have reconnected with.  Others are newly blooming, with people I have just met in this past year, but feel like I have known my entire life.  Some of the people I feel like I connect to the most, I have never even met in person.  I call them my widda sisters, and they understand (unfortunately) like no one else ever could.  Recently, one of these friends posted a status on Facebook that really caught my attention.  She said, "I absolutely, positively, 100%(ly) refuse to be ANYTHING but happy!"  She also said she would not let grief beat her.  I have been stewing on that since she posted it.  I am elated that she refuses to let her loss determine her happiness.  She is right.  I have proved to myself just how strong I can be, and I can do this too.  Because of her positive outlook, it has given me a whole new perspective.  I can persevere, and I will.  I can find happiness, instead of faking it.  I have so many things in my life to be thankful for, and I will not let grief beat me.  I am still going to be realistic.  I do realize that I will always miss Pat, I will always love him, and I will never forget him.  I realize that I will always have a hole in my heart, that only he fit.  I realize that I will still have moments of sadness, and that I will never "get over it".  With all of that said, I am determined to be happy.  That doesn't mean that I need to find someone to make me happy, I will just find happiness in all the little things again.  I think I was so caught up in the guilt, I was afraid to be happy.  I think a lot of widows/widowers can relate when I say that every time I felt a twinge of happiness, I felt guilty.  Guilty I guess because I lost the love of my life, and that's not happy.  He's not here to feel happiness, so why should I?  I struggled with this for a long time, but I know, in my heart, Pat wouldn't want this life for me.  He wouldn't want me to walk around with a fake smile on my face, pretending to be happy.  He wouldn't want me to walk around for the rest of my days, miserable.  He would want me to BE happy.  And I think I deserve to be happy.  So that is what I am working towards.  Being happy, and on top of that, not feeling guilty for being happy.  I think that honors him much more than walking around miserable, pretending to be happy anyway.  To sit around and dwell on something I can't change is doing me no good.  If I could bring Pat back, I would.  But submerging myself in depressing thoughts, isn't going to bring him back.  I know God's timing is perfect, and while I don't know what the big picture is, I do know there is one, and I do know God knows.  I also know that I have to let go of the life I had planned,  and let God work.  So from here on out, I am going to embrace happiness, and I am going to embrace the life God has planned for me.  I will not let this define me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm broken...

I don't even know where to start tonight, other than I want to scream.  I want to get on the roof of my house, and just scream.  And then scream some more.  I actually contemplated doing this, but one, my kids are sleeping, and two, I'm sure the neighbors wouldn't appreciate it.  Everyone already thinks I am crazy, I'm sure, so I probably shouldn't give them more fuel to add to the fire.  So instead, I'll just scream inside.

As I think back, I realize we spent the majority of our relationship in a hospital.  I hated that place.  Yet it was home.  As I have made a new home, I find myself missing what was old.  And as I sit here tonight, I can't help but think, I'd gladly give up everything, just to be sitting in a hospital room with him again.

As Christmas and Kayden's first birthday get closer and closer, the pain gets worse and worse.  The knots get tighter, and tighter, within my stomach.  I just want to go back.  I want to go back to when I was a kid, and I was excited for Christmas, because this year I am surely dreading it.  I would give anything to go back to a year ago.  Just to be with him.  Sit with him.  Talk with him.  Be. With. Him.

Is this even possible?!  Is it really possible that I am alone?  Is it possible that Christmas is almost here, and he is not?  Is it possible that his son is already turning one, and he is not here to set his cake down in front of him?

I'm so angry.  I don't know who, or what, I am angry at, I'm just angry.  I'm angry he isn't here anymore.  I'm angry I don't have a best friend anymore.  I'm angry he died.  I'm angry that my family has been demolished.  I'm angry that cancer even exists.  I'm angry he had to suffer.  I'm angry that the entire time we were together, he was sick.  I'm just angry.  Period.  It's not fair.  Why?  Why him?  Why us?  Why our family?  Why do I have to explain to Kayden years from now, why HE doesn't have a Daddy here anymore?  Why do my kids have to go through this?

I'm broken.  Plain and simply put, broken.  And at this point, I feel like it's un-fixable.  I feel like I will always be broken.  There is a huge hole, and no one will ever be able to fix it.  The past few months, Keegan has started asking me, "Mommy, are you happy?"  He's five.  Even he can see it.  Every day, I wake up, and go through the motions, but my heart isn't in it.  I try to put on a smile, for their sake.  But any way you look at it, I'm broken.  Even my five year old can see that.  I just don't even want to do it anymore.  I'm tired of being here, in this world that doesn't make sense to me anymore.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not suicidal, but I think if I didn't have two beautiful babies to wake up to everyday, I might be.

The closer Christmas gets, the more depressed I get.  Not only because I am dreading it, but also because it's just another reminder that time is still moving.  He left, yet the world moves on.  And it's another reminder that his first angelversary is coming up.  Really?  Already?  Has it really, already, almost been a year?  It just doesn't even seem possible.

His last breath, it haunts me every day.  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.  I see it.  I feel it.  Everyday.  I re-live it.  Everyday.  That last day, was, hands down, the most awful day of my life.  And I see it every day.  My mind won't rest.  I hear the awful noises he was making, while struggling to breathe.  I feel that feeling of hopelessness, and helplessness.  I see his body laboring with every breath.  I see him take his final breath, as I felt like I was the one struggling for air.  I see myself falling onto his body, sobbing in disbelief.  I feel that deep sorrow.  All of it.  Everyday.  Most days, more than once.  It's stuck on repeat in my mind, and I don't know how to turn it off.

Occasionally I go back and read old posts.  It brings back memories.  Some good, most bad.  What strikes me most tonight, is how positive I sounded in the beginning.  It almost makes me wish I could go tell that girl that it will be so much harder than she ever imagined.

While I was reading through some of my older posts tonight, I came across one talking about hating being a single mom.  That post was written within a few weeks after his death.  If only I'd known how much harder it would get.  I still hate it.  I hate that I have to attend Keegan's school functions alone.  I hate that I have to attend anything alone.  I hate that I am the sole provider for my family, and I am solely responsible for making sure everything is done.  I hate that I can't just leave the kids with him and run to the store.  I hate that I can't even record my son's milestones, because I don't have anybody to hold the damn camera.  Kayden is on the verge of walking, but it's near impossible for me to hold my son's hand,  let go, reach my arms out for him, and try to catch it on tape at the same time.  I get a botched version every time, and it makes me that much more upset.

I apologize that this has been such a negative post.  It's just what is on my mind tonight.  I'm sure you can't tell, so let me fill you in.  I'm just really missing my husband tonight.    

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I still have things to be thankful for.....

I have really not been good about keeping up with my blog the past few months.  I apologize.  Up until the the week of the walk, it was really about not having time to write.  It has now been almost a month since the walk, and I still haven't written, mostly because I have gotten out of the habit.

The walk went great!  We had close to 200 people come out and show their support, and in the end raised a little over $3400!  It was such a great feeling to be a part of something so much bigger than me, and my situation.  I haven't talked to the coordinator in Boise, since a few days after the walk.  The last time I did talk to her, we discussed where we "placed", in regards to all the other teams.  She still had some figuring to do, but she said we would probably come in 4th or 5th overall, and 2nd or 3rd among the 'friends and family' teams!   How awesome for our first year!  The thing that was most impressive to me, is ALL of the donations we collected were from individuals.  They were all private donations, with the exception of $150 that was donated by the Pita Pit (from a fundraiser we did there).  To me, that's pretty amazing!  It's unfortunate that there weren't more businesses to step up and show their support, but to think we raised that much money, without the support of any businesses stepping up to make a sizable contribution, really does show what we can do as a community when we pull together.  I am excited to see what the future brings.  I have had several ideas bouncing around the past couple months, and I am just not quite sure where I want to take this all.  I do know that I don't just want to sit back and do nothing.  I want to help.  I am just not sure which route I want to take to do that.  I am trusting in God to lead me in the right direction.

Organizing this event, really did keep me busy for several weeks.  It was good for my mind, and in some ways, I think it did help the grieving process.  It made me feel like I was doing something for a greater good, and making my husband proud.  I wish I could say that I am doing just great now, but I am not.  For a while there, I thought I really was.  I think just being busy with everything, took my mind off of being sad.  Now that it all has simmered down, reality sets back in.  Now it's back to everyday life, where it's just me and my boys.  I hate the loneliness that comes along with that.  I know that everybody has their own lives to tend to, but I just hate that mine has been turned upside down.

As everybody else is gearing up for the holidays, my mind just spins.  Everybody else gets to be excited to spend time with family, but MY family has been demolished.  How do you celebrate devastation?  Don't get me wrong, I am THANKFUL that I have two wonderful boys to spend the holidays with, but I can't help but feel bittersweet about it.  I am missing a huge chunk of my family this year, and it will be so hard.  I can't help but feel sadness to think of all the stuff he is missing out on.  I do understand that he is not really missing out on anything.  He is in the presence of God.  Perfection.  Ultimate Joy.  Peace.  Ultimate love.  I get it.  I get it, but it doesn't make it any easier to process.  I am human.  I am human with a finite grasp of what the world is, and I only get a glimpse of the bigger picture.  Since I am human, and feel human emotions, it is only natural to think he is missing out on life.  I guess though when I think about it, it's US who are missing out.  WE are missing out on him being here.  I don't know think that pill is any easier to swallow.

As Thanksgiving nears, I have noticed a handful of people posting daily about what they are thankful for.  It has really made me take a step back and evaluate what I AM thankful for.  After living through such a catastrophic event, I realized I still have things to be thankful for.

  • I am thankful for Jesus, for paying the ultimate price for my sins.  He died on the cross to save MY life.  I cannot think of one thing that I could be MORE thankful of.  
  • I am thankful I have healthy, happy children, who I love more than the world.  
  • I am thankful for a wonderful supportive family.  I am also thankful they are all relatively healthy, and happy.
  • I am thankful for friends, new and old.  Some, unfortunately, have gone through similar situations, but they do give me encouragement, and hope, that life does go on (even if that is another dagger to the heart sometimes).  Many, thankfully, have not had to experience this hell, and may not understand me most of the time, but I do know they mean well, and for that I am thankful.  
  • I am thankful that I am healthy.  As easy as it seems sometimes to just want to leave this life, I realize I am all my kids have, and they need me.  
  • I am thankful I have a roof over my head every night.  I am thankful I have a warm bed to sleep in every night, and that my children enjoy the same luxury.  
  • I am thankful I have food in my belly every day.
  • I am thankful that I have found a job that allows me to stay at home with my children.  I am thankful that I get to enjoy every minute of them growing up, because it happens way too fast.  
  • I am thankful there are people out there willing to fight for our country's safety everyday.  
  • I am thankful that YOU cared enough to take 5 minutes out of your day to read this post
  • I am thankful that I was blessed enough to meet the love of my life.  I am thankful for the time I got to spend with him, and it has made me who I am today.  
  • I am thankful I got to experience true love.  There are so many people who go their whole lives not knowing that love.
  • I am thankful that my husband is no longer in pain.  As much as I miss him, and selfishly want him back, I know he is in perfect health now.  His bones no longer ache.  His body no longer aches.  He no longer has terrible headaches.  He is pain free, and that's what I prayed for all along.  I just imagined the end result as being much different, but I am still thankful.
I am sure I could come up with a list of a million things I am thankful for, but these are the ones that are really on my heart tonight.  I hope that each and every one of you can take a moment to reflect, and count your blessings.  Be thankful for the things in your life that mean something. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A promise.......

So as many of you remember, my last post had to do with a promise I made to my husband.  I promised him I would bring awareness to Leukemia, as well as the importance to becoming a bone marrow donor.  I am trying my hardest to make good on those promises.

In the first few months after Pat passed away, I thought regularly about how I was going to fulfill the promise I made to my husband.  Originally, my plan was to bring awareness primarily through my blog.  I knew I had many people who read my blog on a regular basis, along with people out there who found it without looking.  While I am still bringing some awareness through this blog, my passion has taken on a life of it's own.  I have started planning an event that has taken the level of awareness to places I never would have imagined possible.  

I have been super busy the past couple of weeks.  I am trying to organize an "unofficial" Light the Night Walk.  A few weeks ago, I came across a link on Facebook for a Light the Night Walk.  I clicked on it, and read more about it.  I had never heard of this walk, so I scoured their website, looking for a the location of a walk near me.  After searching, I realized there were no organized walks anywhere in Montana.  The nearest walk site is in Boise, ID.  I want to change that.  I contacted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), and asked how I would go about organizing a walk in Billings.  I was told that LLS doesn't really allow people to start their own walks, that it was something that needed to be organized through the society.  She also told me that LLS needed a good reason to bring a walk to my area, telling me that they needed to know they would raise enough money, for it to be worth their efforts.  She asked me if I would like to register a team, under the Boise walk site, and raise money.  She told me I could just pick a park, gather friends and family, and walk in Pat's honor.  Without a doubt in my mind, I said, "Yes."  Immediately after I got off the phone, I called a few family members, and told them what I was planning.  I was, and still am, super excited about getting this all going.  From that very first day, I knew I wanted to make this big.  I knew I wanted to make this about more than just our friends and family walking for my husband.  I wanted to get our entire community involved, and make this a community event.  My hope is, that if I can raise enough money, and get our entire community involved, that LLS will consider Billings as a prime location to host an annual Light the Night walk.  I would love nothing more than to be able to attend this walk, every year, and raise money for them, all in Pat's honor.

I started posting on Facebook, asking friends and family to donate, and asking them to share the link.  I noticed it was only getting me so far.  I was never going to get the word out to the community, when only a handful of people were sharing with their friends.  I decided to call the media.  I contacted our local paper, they interviewed me, and the article printed in today's paper.  You can read the article here.  I also contacted a local news station, and did an interview on Friday.  That is scheduled to air early next week.  I hope by this getting out through the media, our community will come together and support this cause.

I am doing several fundraisers to try and raise money.  With the help of an excellent friend, Dani Buhmann, we are having a garage sale with items donated by the community.  Our garage sale fundraiser is scheduled for September 17.  We are also organizing a raffle.  If you live near the Billings area, and would like to help out with either of these fundraisers, please contact me (If you don't live near me, but are willing to ship your donations, that would be great as well!)  We are still in need of your unused items for our garage sale.  I know some people may not be able to donate money to this cause, but most people have a few things taking up space, that could be donated to our sale.  Even if it's only a box full of items, we sure would appreciate it!  We are also looking for items to add to our raffle.  These items would need to be new.  Items we think would be good for this raffle "basket" include: gift certificates, handmade items, candles, health and beauty, electronics, or anything else you can think of that would be a good prize for a raffle.  No item is too big or small!  I am also going to be selling orange bracelets, in honor of Leukemia awareness.  I will let everyone know when I get these in.

The walk is scheduled for October 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm, at North Park in Billings, MT.  I am very excited to announce that during the walk, we will also be hosting a bone marrow recruitment drive.  The National Marrow Donor Program will have a team set up to answer questions, and get people signed up to be on the national registry.  I really hope we get a good turn out, and get a lot of people signed up!

Even if you are not from Billings, please consider making a donation to this cause.  I need everybody's support to make this dream a reality.  If you are interested in making a donation, you can go to my fundraising page.  Donations in any denomination will be greatly appreciated!  No amount is too little!  Even if it's only $1, it will help us reach our goals!  Thank you in advance to any that donate!

I am supposed to have a meeting with LLS sometime early next year.  We will talk again about the possibilities of bringing a walk to our area.  I want to be able to bring the numbers to them, when we have this meeting.  They will see how much money we raised, and I hope to be able to tell them how many people support this.  I created a Facebook page for this cause.  If you are in support of what I am trying to accomplish, please like this page.

I am really excited for this whole event.  I feel like it's an excellent way to honor my husband.  I want to make him proud, and honor his wishes.  I made that promise to him, and I have every intention of keeping it.  I hope that we not only raise a lot of money, but I hope I am bringing awareness to Leukemia, and becoming a bone marrow donor, through all of this.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

8 Weeks and Craving Ice Cream......

So I have a few different things on my mind tonight.  I apologize in advance because I feel like my mind is all over the place, so chances are, so will this post.  I am also going to warn you in advance because I am going to undoubtedly make someone mad with this post.

"8 weeks and craving ice cream....."
I am sure you have seen similar statuses posted all over your Facebook news feed.  Some of you know what it is about, and I am betting that many of you reading this are male, curious about what is going on.  What is it all about?  Well it's another breast cancer awareness chain game. 

I personally don't understand.  I don't understand what playing these types of games has to do with breast cancer awareness?  How does this bring awareness to anyone?  And more importantly, why are the men not supposed to participate?  Did the person who started these not realize that men get breast cancer too?  There have been several of these games played over the last couple years.  This one is about your birthday, there was one that had to do with bras that made national news, there was one last year that had to do with where you leave your purse, and one earlier this year that had to do with your shoe size.  All of them produce the strange status updates like, "8 weeks and craving ice cream", or "I like it on the coffee table", or "8 inches :(", that inevitably leave the men wondering what us women are up to.  Does it make people laugh?  Yes.  Are games like this on Facebook fun?  Yes.  What I don't think is funny is cancer.  Any form of it.  And I don't understand how playing games on Facebook is bringing any type of awareness to any kind of cancer. I feel like it's just kind of shooting in the dark, what exactly is it bringing awareness to?  I think most people by now have heard of breast cancer.  The cancer itself doesn't need awareness, and the fact that this does nothing to raise funds etc, just makes it kind of pointless to me.  Now if it raised awareness on early diagnosis, or maybe some facts that people may not know about, I would undoubtedly have no problem.  If people want to bring awareness to certain types of cancer, then donate your time or money to the cause, and invite your friends to do the same.  Start a fundraiser.  Donate your time and efforts to local community events that support cancer research.  Heck, even set up a Facebook page to help raise awareness to certain aspects of cancer that others may not know about.  Anything, but play a silly game that makes cancer into a joke.  Bottom line is:  I think these chain games are funny and entertaining, I just hate that 'breast cancer awareness' has to be attached to them.  I feel like it demeans the real awareness that needs to be shared, and turns it into a joking matter.  If these "chain games" were just that, games, with nothing attached, I would have no problem with a silly game to keep the guys guessing.   

Pat and I had this talk last year when the "purse" chain game was going around.  We couldn't figure out what our friends were talking about, so we Googled it.  When we figured out it was supposed to be about breast cancer awareness, we were both kind of dumbfounded.  We both agreed it didn't really make sense.  How was any awareness being brought to the table, and it certainly didn't seem like it would be inspiring people to donate to the cause.  When I saw these ones going around this year, it definitely brought back the conversations we had last year, and really brought it all to the surface.

Before I move on, to those of you who are friends with me on Facebook I hope you are not offended by what I have said.  I know many of you have posted the above status with your details, and I just want to say that I do not think any less of you for doing so, and I hope you understand this is just my opinion of this awareness game.   This also was not directed at any of you personally, just something that has been on my mind the past couple days.  I know many of you were either doing it to get a rise out of the guys, or because you truly were trying to bring awareness to cancer, or both!  I know not everyone will agree with me, but I hope at least it gives you something to think about.

Before my husband passed away, I made a promise to him.  I promised him that I would bring awareness to leukemia.  I also promised him that I would advocate becoming a bone marrow donor, as well as cord blood donation.  I have been waiting for the perfect time to keep this promise I made, and now seems like that perfect time.  Today marks the start of the leukemia and lymphoma awareness month.  That, mixed with all the feelings I had about this "chain game" on Facebook, it just all seemed to fit together, and I couldn't NOT post about it tonight.  I want to bring some REAL awareness to the plate.

Before my husband was diagnosed with leukemia, I never really knew much about the disease.  When I heard the term, I always thought of it as a childhood cancer.  I knew it was cancer, but never really knew what the cancer was 'attacking'.  Pat and I had several conversations about this, and we both seemed to agree.  In case you don't know, leukemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow.  There are several different types of leukemia, but I won't get into each of the different types today.  One of the main struggles that is different than most other types of cancer, is there is no tumor to remove, sometimes making it harder to treat.  Many leukemia patients are forced to get a bone marrow transplant, as their only hope for survival.  A bone marrow transplant may have saved my Husband's life.  He never got that far.  Had there been someone out there, somewhere, that they could have used, my husband may have survived.  Most people are aware of organ donation.  Most people know about blood donation.  Most people even know about plasma donation these days, but you don't hear too much about bone marrow donation.  Maybe I am just completely naive, but I don't know that I had even heard about it before I came in contact with this terrible disease.  And if I had heard of it, I sure had no idea how to sign up to be one, or what all the details were, or how GREAT the need is, or that it could actually SAVE someone's life.  I encourage each and every one of you reading this today, to please sign up to be a donor.  Please sign up to save someone's life.  To save someone's family.  I am not asking you to do this, my Husband is.  I made a promise to him to educate people about donating.  He told me that he didn't want another family to have to go through what we had gone through.  He told me that he didn't want all his pain to be in vain, and that if we could help another family out there, it would all be worth it.  The process is simple.  You fill out a questionnaire online, and they send you a kit.  Go to "Be a Match" to join or to learn more information.
Another route of donation that I am sure some of you have heard of, is cord blood donation.  Another misconception I feel is out there, is that many people think they have donated their cord blood.  Well, you may have donated your cord blood, but if you just signed a consent form of some kind, it wasn't donated to be used in this way.  Most likely it was donated for research purposes.  Cord blood can be used for transplantation, when there are no close matches in adults.  This can truly save someone's life, and it's saddening that many times it is just discarded.  So if you are pregnant, or plan on becoming pregnant, please look into donating the cord blood.  It will take a little time and energy on your part, but you may be saving someone's life.  Make sure you look into it early, and discuss it with your doctor, because as I understand it you have to have everything planned by 35 weeks gestation.

I feel like this is the single most important post I have blogged about since Pat has been gone, and I am asking for your help.  Not only am I asking you to become a donor, but I am asking you to share this post with as many people as you can.  Please share on facebook, twitter, email, however you can.  I want to honor my husband by bringing as much awareness to this topic as possible!  Thank you for your support and help!

I hope I made an ounce of sense tonight.  So much on my mind that I wanted to get out, and I hope it was read-able at the least.  I miss my husband.  I want him back in my arms.  Unfortunately I can't have that.  If I can help one family avoid the devastation we have dealt with, at least I will know his pain was not in vain.  I know he would be happy with that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Boiled over......

Widow.  That word rocks me to my core.  Every time it has to come out of my mouth, I feel like I want to throw up.  Every time I have to check that box on a form, I can feel the color flee from my face, and I feel like I could faint at any given moment.  I still hate that word with a passion.  When I think of a widow, I think of someone who is old and grey.  I think of a little old lady sitting in a rocking chair knitting, reading glasses barely hanging from her nose, while her black cat sits on her lap.  I am 27.  I am not grey.  Instead of a cat on my lap, I have a 5 year old and an infant.  This is not what a widow's life is supposed to look like.  I am not supposed to be a widow.

I think my emotions have started to catch up with me the past few days.  Yesterday was the worst of them.  All the thoughts that were sitting on the back burner of my mind, got together and ransacked my emotions yesterday.  I cried until I was so tired, emotionally and physically, that I had no choice but to go to bed.

Over the weekend I took the kids to the fair.  I had Keegan, Kayden, and Tasia.  We met up with Pat's parents, and they brought Hailee, and Natalie (along with Pat's nephews and his little sister).  We let the kids ride the rides, and play the games.  Overall I think they all had a great time.  I put on a smile, but, however, couldn't help but feel like something was missing.  Well, someone.  Pat.  Last year we had gone to the fair together.  WE watched the kids have fun on the rides, not ME alone.  It weighed heavy on my heart all day and night long.  I also couldn't help but notice how many families were there.  A mom, a dad, and a son.  A mom, a dad, a son, and a daughter.  Laughing and enjoying themselves.  Eating corn dogs, cotton candy, and funnel cakes together.  Fathers chasing their sons to the next ride.  Giggles, and bright eyes.  Laughter and enjoyment.  I wanted what they had.  I wanted MY family back, which is now nothing but a crushed dream.

One year ago, August 15, 2010, we attended one of the concerts at the fair.  It was an outdoor concert because our arena was destroyed by a tornado a couple months earlier.  Hinder and Finger 11 were playing.  If I remember right, Pat won the tickets.  I could never keep track of how many concerts he went to in his life, but I know it was more than anyone I had ever known, and he usually got the tickets for free.  That was his thing.  Concerts were his thing.  Music was his thing.  He loved it, and he loved seeing them perform.  We attended several concerts together in the time I had with him, and I think I attended more concerts in that short amount of time, than I did in my life leading up to meeting him.  I will forever cherish those moments, because I got to spend time with the man I love, doing what he loved.  For months, up until this concert, he would ask me when he could take Keegan to his first concert.  I am pretty sure the first time he asked I told him 16.  His jaw hit the floor.  He argued and argued and argued, but I stood my ground.  Well sort of.  Gradually, I worked my way down to 15, then 12, then 10.  I was adamant that my 4 year old would not be attending a concert anytime soon.  Part of my rationale was that Keegan was my baby, and I was his mommy.  He would NOT be attending a concert anytime soon.  The other part of my rationale (which was actually reasonable) was that Keegan was born with a mild/moderate hearing loss.  I did not want to subject him to a loud concert, that could, potentially, make that problem even worse.  After he heard the news that the concert was to be played outside, due to the storm damage, and finding out he won the tickets, he came to me to plead his case one more time.  I caved.  He was on cloud nine.  He was so proud that he was there with his son, at his first concert.  And Keegan (who from day 1 has also had a tremendous love for music) had a blast!  Pat posted on facebook, while at the concert that night: "My son is attending his first rock concert and it's awesome".  He was so proud, I couldn't help but to be excited for him.  Today, I am glad I caved.  Keegan will forever be able to hold on to that memory of his first concert, and how special it was to be there with Pat.  The thing that I remember most about this concert, is not the music, or the performance.  The thing I remember most, is that Pat was going through chemotherapy at the time, he was sick and weak.  Yet he was smiling from ear to ear, without a worry in the world.  That is the memory I hold in my heart for that day. 
And just for the record, I think we may just have another music enthusiast in the family.  I was about 5 months pregnant with Kayden at that concert, and he was doing somersaults the entire time the music was playing.

Three Days Grace played this year.  I wanted to go, but couldn't afford it. As I thought about it often in the days leading up to the big show, my heart was heavy.  I knew Pat would have wanted to go, and I'm sure he would have found us tickets to go somehow, somewhere.  He would have enjoyed one of the things he loved to do most.  It's just another thing he can't experience anymore, which breaks my heart.

Yesterday, I enrolled Keegan in Kindergarten.  I can't believe he is grown up enough to go to school already.  We went a couple weeks ago, and got all his school supplies.  We picked out crayons, markers, and pencils.  We got tissue, glue, and hand sanitizer.  And when it was time, with pride, he picked out his very own Buzz Lightyear backpack.  He is very excited to go to school, but most excited about riding the school bus.  I'm nervous for him to go, but excited for him at the same time.  I'm sure if you are a mother with kids in school, you know exactly what this milestone feels like.  As excited as I am for him, my eyes well up with tears thinking about it.  Not just because my first born going to be in Kindergarten, but also because the love of my life is going to miss out on his Son's first day of school.  Everything has to end in bittersweet these days.

Through out this process I have had several people let me down.  People that I considered family, have vanished from my life.  Friendships have become strained.  It puts a damper on my spirit when I really sit down and think about it.  It's saddening because it all came out of left field.  It was all so unexpected and feels so unnatural.  In the beginning, I read about my address book changing, after going through what I have, but honestly, I thought, "Nah, not me."  Which coincidentally is what I thought when I first heard the news that Pat had Leukemia, "Nah, not us.  He'll make it.  It won't take him."  Unfortunately, in both scenarios, it WAS me.

All of this, sitting on the back burner of my mind.  Just stewing.  Simmering.

Last night I was on facebook.  I clicked on a link a friend of mine posted, which took me to a blog.  After reading through the blog, I clicked on a recommended link from the author.  It took me to Youtube.  I watched the recommended video, and clicked on the sidebar on something that must have looked interesting.  Before I knew it, somehow, I was watching infant memorial videos.  I don't know how I ended up there, but they sort of had me in a trance.  They were so sad, yet so beautiful.  The final one I clicked on, was a baby that was born prematurely.  The mother had been in the hospital for four days.  Her amniotic sac had ruptured before she came in to the hospital.  Knowing the risks involved, she, with the doctor's guidance, was trying desperately trying to save her baby's life, by avoiding delivery.  On the fourth day she was told, her and the baby both had an infection, and if she wanted to see her baby alive, she needed to deliver.  So she delivered.  The baby was so small, yet so beautiful.  So tiny, yet so perfect.  The video, compiled of photos, showed numerous family members holding her, including her older sister.  It was beautiful.  I was in tears already.  Then towards the end of the video, I noticed a drastic change.  The baby no longer had color.  She was pale, then she was white.  I knew she had passed away, and they were saying their goodbyes.  While I sympathized with their sorrow, this immediately brought back memories, and emotions, of what I saw, and felt, the day Pat passed away.  He was pale.  Then he was ghost white.  The life had left his body, and he took a piece of me with.  A part of me died that day, when my love, my life, was taken from me.

And what had been simmering, finally boiled over.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

He was JUST here.........

So it's been a while since I last posted.  Actually it's been a little over three months.  There are several factors that play into why I haven't.  Firstly, I was busy moving and getting settled into our new home.  Second, I just kind of got out of the habit of blogging.  And lastly, and possibly most importantly, I had been away for so long, that I was scared to relive any of the feelings I felt, when I posted a few months ago.  My intuition was correct.  Not only have I not blogged in over three months, but, I haven't even been back to this site in almost as long.  As soon as I logged on tonight, a flood of emotions ran through.  I read through my last couple posts, and I started to relive it all.  The tears started to flow.  I actually had to take a breather before I started tonight, it was just too much to handle.   

To be completely honest, for the most part, I am doing ok these days.  I am doing ok these days because I block everything out.  I know it's probably not the best way to deal with grief, and one day I'm sure it'll sneak up on me.  But for now, it's the only way I know how to get through each day.  Don't get me wrong, I think about Pat every second of the day, but when it comes to FEELING anything, I try my best to not let it in.  I will purposefully sidetrack my thoughts.  For the most part, it works.  There are still moments where I am overcome with sadness, and anger, and disbelief.  Mostly disbelief.  I still can't believe this has really happened.  When I do think about things, my thoughts always boil down is this possible?  He was JUST here.  We were JUST saying our vows.  We were JUST in the hospital together, while he was going through chemotherapy.  We were JUST leaving for Oklahoma.  We were JUST in the hospital welcoming our new son into the world.  We were JUST celebrating Christmas together.  So if he was JUST here, then how is he all of the sudden gone?  These thoughts travel my mind, and never settle.  They get pushed away, but they always find their way back, and bounce around the walls of my mind.  I will see a picture, and it will bring back a memory.  That memory seems like it just happened, and the cycle continues.

One of the most unexpected things for me to deal with so far, is the awkwardness of it all.  Most people really don't know what to say.  I get that.  As awkward as it may be for someone that knows my situation, I now dread talking to people I either haven't seen in a long time, or when meeting new people.  They have no idea what is going on in my life, no idea what happened, so they inadvertently ask questions, and uncomfortable and awkward is the answer.

For the most part we are moved into our new house.  I have tried my best to make it a home, and I hope Pat would be proud.  I bought an older trailer, and while it's not glitz and glamour, it'll do for now.  With the help of a few good friends and the support of family, we pretty much completely remodeled the inside.  Before we started it was all depressing, brown paneling, and dirty dingy carpet.  Now all the walls are bright white, and there is fresh new clean carpet for the kids to play on.  I painted one wall in the living room, black and red, with white trim.  It was my dedication to my husband.  Our wedding colors were red and white.  Last year, a couple of months after we got married, Pat got one of our wedding pictures framed.  I was working at Hobby Lobby at the time.  He would come in almost every day to see me, or bring me a coffee, and chat with some of my co-workers.  He developed relationships with some of them over time.  Without me finding out about it, he had our custom frame shop frame one of our wedding pictures.  Even though I was clueless, almost all my co-workers knew.  I'll never forget the day I found out.  By this time I was the head of the scrapbooking department.  His ultimate plan was to come back to my department and surprise me with it, but his plans were foiled when I got called up to the front.  We were busy, so I was called up to help at the registers.  He was attempting to pay.  Luckily, I was oblivious, and didn't even notice him in the other line.  After he was finished, he got in my line.  After the madness died down, I looked up and he was standing there with this large wrapped object.  He walked forward, and said, "Excuse me miss, I need to pay for this,"  with that huge grin on his face.  I unwrapped it, and tears came to my eyes.  It was beautiful.  He did an amazing job picking out the colors of the matting.  All of my co-workers knew what was going on, so they all started cheering.  It's a moment that to this day, brings tears of joy.  This picture was my inspiration for my red and black wall.  The picture was still in storage when I picked out the paint colors, so I know Pat was there with me, because the color is almost dead on.  This house has been a lot of work, but it looks amazing compared to what it was when I first started.  I hope he would be proud.

As nice as it is to have my own place again, my instincts were right when I thought it would be bittersweet.  I am not supposed to be living here alone.  He was supposed to be here, and we were supposed to be doing this together.  Each box that I unpacked were full of memories.  Even boxes full of dishes.  You wouldn't think any tears would come from opening a box full of dishes, but they did.  All I could think of is, "these were the dishes we ate off of in Oklahoma", and then my thoughts would go to, "We were JUST in Oklahoma."  It was a struggle to get unpacked to say the least.  I am mostly unpacked, but I will admit I have a few boxes to go.  Some of it is Pat's stuff, but most of it I just don't know where to put it.  Odds and Ends.

It was a little strange unpacking some of his belongings.  I didn't know what to do with them.  Most people after they lose a spouse, have to go back to the home they once shared.  I think in that sense, I was blessed to not have to deal with that.  I didn't have to go back to a home WE once shared and live in it ALONE.  On the other hand, those people can just leave their spouses belongings, until they are ready to go through them.  I wasn't ready to go through them, and I am still not ready.  So there I was, hanging up his shirts.  Folding his pants, and putting them in the drawer.  Knowing he wasn't ever coming home, but I didn't want to just keep it in boxes.  So I felt like I was pretending he was still here.  It was a strange feeling.

One thing I wasn't prepared for was his scent going away.  I knew it would happen sooner or later, but I never imagined it would happen so fast.  I was dreading the day his coat stopped smelling like him, and that day has long passed.  I now only have the cologne he wore often, but I have nothing left that actually still smells like HIM.  I guess I assumed it would stick around for months.  It faded around the two month mark.

Pat's birthday was on the 4th of June.  It was a hard day.  A group of close friends and family gathered to celebrate his life.  I rented a helium tank, and got some black and silver balloons (he loved the Raiders).  We all wrote messages to him, and the kids drew pictures.  We put them inside the balloons, and at the end, we released them all to Heaven.  It was a pretty cool thing to watch.  I hope he enjoyed them.

The boys and I have visited his grave several times in the last (almost) five months.  His parents have since, put up a nice headstone.  It is supposed to be a temporary one, until I can come up with enough money to purchase a double headstone.  It looks nice, and I think he would like it, but it is hard to see it there.  It makes it all that much more permanent.  I look down and see the dates, and I just shake my head in wonder.  It just doesn't seem real.  There is now grass growing where there once was dirt.  Every time I go, the grass that grows hits me like a ton of bricks.  "Wow, has it really been long enough for grass to be growing?"

For the most part my life has boiled down to nothing but dates and numbers.  I dread the holidays.  I dread all the "firsts" I have to go through alone.  I had something to look forward to for a while, when I was buying my house.  That's all done and over.  Now it's back to reality.    

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another sleepless night........

Well it's another sleepless night, but I'm not in Seattle.  I am stuck in this nightmare that everyone else calls reality.  In the early days and even weeks, I didn't have too many problems sleeping.  It seems these days it eludes me on a nightly basis.  I toss and turn for hours.  My body is physically exhausted, yet I cannot seem to fall asleep.  My mind reels with all the 'what ifs' and 'whys'.  I can't get it to shut off.  So Instead, I stay up, keeping myself occupied, until my eyes will hardly stay open.

Lately, I have been really caught up in thinking about the night before Pat passed away.  He had been in and out of it so much in the days leading up to his death.  He was on high amounts of narcotics, for the immense amount of pain he was in.  They somewhat sedated him.  I was not getting much sleep.  I was so afraid that he would pass away while I was sleeping, so I stretched myself pretty thin.  The night before he passed away, I stayed up until about four or four thirty in the morning.  I cuddled with him for a good forty five minutes that night.  I am so grateful for that.  There is one thing that I can't seem to shake from my thoughts.  After I laid down, and just started to doze off, he awoke, almost in a panic, looking for his urinal.  I got up, somewhat irritated, and found it for him.  I was half asleep, and frustrated that I had to get up, because I was exhausted.  That was the last time I saw him coherent.  By the time the doctor came in at seven, he was no longer responsive.  So here I sit.  Constantly kicking myself, because had I known, I would have gotten back in bed with him.  I would have held his hand, and told him I loved him just one more time.  I would have kissed his forehead.  I would have tried to talk to him.   I would have looked into his eyes, that smiled, even when his mouth didn't.  Instead, I laid back down on the couch, and went to sleep.  When I awoke a few short hours later, I thought I was stuck in a nightmare.  It just couldn't be real.

It still doesn't seem real.  It's been almost two months, yet I still feel like he could walk through the door at any moment.  Every time I really start to think about things, it hits me like a brick wall all over again.  I have an image ingrained in my mind, of the last breath he took, and it all becomes so real again.  I picture him in the coffin, and while he looks so peaceful, it also makes me realize how final it is.  I look at the few pictures I have with me, and I realize that's all I have left.  Memories, and pictures.  My best friend is no longer standing by my side.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I finally have some good news.......

I haven't posted since the night before our one year anniversary.  It was a hard day to deal with.  I went to the cemetery, with a dozen roses, to celebrate our anniversary.  Not quite what I had in mind, when I thought about this day.  A year ago, I envisioned a quiet getaway, just the two of us.  Something romantic.  Just time to spend with each other.  Even a few months ago, my perspective had changed, yet I still envisioned us being with each other.  Each others company was always enough for me.  Yet it didn't quite play out that way.  Instead I stared over his grave, adorned with roses, and other flowers.  Just stared.  And cried.  And talked.  And cried some more.  I just still can't believe we didn't even get to make it a year married.

I am so thankful that I have some really great friends.  They made my night full of laughter, and happiness.  After I visited the cemetery, a few of us met at a friends house.  We had dinner, and good conversation.  Without them, I am sure I would have been a wreck.  They made sure I smiled, and even laughed.  I consider myself so lucky to have them all in my life at this point.  I would just like to say thank you.  You know who you are!  I love you guys!

I know my husband is upstairs, in the presence of the Lord, helping to make things happen.  It seems like it's been a long time coming, but I finally have some good news!  I am so excited to announce that I finally have a place to call home!  Such a huge relief, and a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  As you all know, I have been living in a hotel, since we came back home, in late January.  A friend of mine's husband, is in the business of mobile home sales.  They have been faithfully searching for a reasonable mobile, for the past several weeks.  They have been such a huge blessing, and I am so thankful there are people out there who care as much as they do.  In perfect timing, a mobile came in, and he gave me a great deal on it.  It will be moved on Wednesday, and the utilities should be hooked up by Thursday.  I will hopefully be moving in by next weekend.

Although I am so excited that I am purchasing my first home, it is also bittersweet at the same time.  Pat and I were supposed to buy our first home, together.  I am not supposed to be going through this process alone.  Unfortunately, I am.  Although I am excited to be able to get my belongings out of boxes, there are also memories packed away in those boxes.  I am excited about going through all of my memories that are packed away, but at the same time, I know it will be a roller coaster of emotions.  Not quite sure what to expect.

For the most part, I am looking forward to the moving process.  I am looking forward to making my house, a home.  It is nice to be able to look forward.  I have dreaded so many days in the past month and a half.  I dreaded Keegan's birthday, on the third of March, because Pat wasn't here with us to celebrate.  I dreaded the 14th of March, because it was the one month mark.  I dreaded St. Patrick's Day, because it was the first holiday without him, and also one of his favorites.  I dreaded the 27th of March, because it would have been our one year anniversary.  I know I will continue to dread many more days in the future, but for now, I am satisfied with looking forward to next week.   

Overall my heart tonight, is singing songs of thanksgiving.  I am thankful for all my friends, those near and far, who have stepped up to be there for me someway, somehow.  I am thankful for some new found friendships, that have proved to be some of the best relationships I could have asked for.  I am thankful for my family, who have stood by my side, for this entire process, knowing this process is going to be a life-long commitment.  I am thankful for my children, because without them, it would be so easy to throw my hands up in the air, and just give up.  They keep me going, everyday.  Most of all, I am thankful that I serve an awesome God!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A letter to my love...

Ugh, where do I even begin tonight? I am tired, but of course sleep eludes me tonight. More tonight than any other night before. Today is our one year anniversary, and my husband isn't even here to celebrate with me. As soon as the clock hit midnight, my heart sank.

Dear Pat,

Happy Anniversary, my love. I miss you so much, and today is going to be a hard day. It's only 3 and a half hours into it, and it's already hard. I just can't believe you aren't here to share this day with me. We were both so excited. Even though we may have not planned some special get away, it was going to be special, because we would be together. That's the only thing that mattered. But now you are gone, and here I sit at three o'clock in the morning, blogging instead. Alone.

I'm so scared to face my future. I don't even want to think about it, because you are no longer in it. It doesn't even make sense to me. I always imagined us growing old together. Watching our children grow up, and then our grandchildren. Now that dream has vanished into thin air. I have to face it on my own, and it scares me to death. You are supposed to be here, to tell me it's all going to be ok. Now you are gone, and things are far from ok.

I just want you back. I know you are now free of pain, but I selfishly want you back with me. Here. Knowing you are in a better place, doesn't make the pain inside my heart any less. It still aches terribly. I don't even know what to do with myself, now that you are gone. I wake up everyday, and have to pinch myself, hoping that I am just dreaming. Everyday, I still feel it. I'm living my own worst nightmare. This wasn't supposed to happen. You are still supposed to be here, by my side. The treatments were supposed to work, you were supposed to be ok.

I love you with all my heart. When I said those vows, a year ago today, I meant every word, with my whole heart. When I said, "til death do us part", I always meant, until MY death do us part, not yours! I never imagined this would be my life. We had so much in front of us, and we were just getting started. It's just not fair.

I miss your touch. I miss your kisses. I miss your smile. I miss your laugh. I miss your jokes. I miss everything about you. Plain and simply put, I just miss you. Period.

You were my best friend. You were my rock. You were my everything. You are gone, and without you, I feel like I am falling apart. I feel completely empty on the inside. I feel like someone tore out my heart, and threw it against the wall. It's now shattered into a million pieces. Where do I even begin to try to put it together again? I lost the most important person in my life. I lost my love.

A year ago, today, I was the happiest woman in the world. It was the best day of my life. I married my best friend. We had our whole lives ahead of us. You looked so handsome. I felt like a princess. You were my prince. I will never forget that day. Ever. You kept a smile on your face all night long, even though you were in so much pain. You danced all night long, with your new wife, just to put a smile on her face. Now, a short year later, my smiles have faded, and my life is a wreck. I can't believe how much things have changed in only a year.

I want you to know that you had some pretty amazing friends. You would be so proud that a few people have really stepped up to make sure I am ok. You may have knew they would, but I never knew. I am blessed, and I know you are pulling strings up there. You are making sure your wife is always taken care of.

I know I'll see you again. And in your eyes, it may be soon. But it doesn't feel like soon to me. It feels like an eternity. I know you are watching down from up above. It's not enough for me. I want you back, here. I want to be able to touch you, and feel you.

You are missing out on our son's life. You were so proud the day he was born. You finally got your son. Yet now you can't even hold him, kiss him, enjoy him. It just seems so unfair. It absolutely breaks my heart that he will have no memories of you. He will grow up knowing who you are, but it's not the same.

Even though my heart is shattered, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I got to know the most amazing person in the world. I got to feel what true love is. If I could go back and change it, so that I wouldn't have to feel this pain, in a split second I could tell you, absolutely not! I would never give up what we shared. Not in a million years.

This day doesn't feel right without you in it. This life doesn't feel right without you in it. I will forever miss you. There will always be a piece of me missing, with you gone. You will never be forgotten, and you will always be on my mind. I love you more, my Valentine.

Your Wife,

March 27, 2010.  Happiest Day of my Life.