Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Meetup Group

In an effort to get out more and meet new people, I have joined several groups through Some are special interest-oriented; some are for singles. I have been frustrated with most of the singles groups, however, as most of the events revolve around drinking and I am not a drinker due to that pesky little alcohol allergy of mine.

Every now and then, I check out the groups again to see if any of the groups I was on the fence about joining appeal to me or are more active than when I last looked (like the travel group that hasn't had a meeting/event since December) or if there are any new ones I might be interested in joining.

Yesterday, when I was supposed to be sleeping off the lingering effects of the sedative I was given for a routine medical procedure (boy did I sleep well last night!), I decided to check again for new groups. And I found one called "Anyone Can Join." So I did. I am actually excited for this group. So far, it looks like exactly what I have been looking for: volunteer opportunities, new restaurants, swing dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, pumpkin carving, walks through different neighborhoods. A social group (it's open to singles and couples) with variety that does something other than go out and drink. Yea!

I have actually met one of the co-organizers for this group. He and I were both at a night hike earlier this year. It was his first hike with the group and it was the first time I had gone as a member of the group and not as a guest of my friend. My friend was not there that night. Neither of us knew anyone else there and both gravitated towards a really welcoming and funny pair of gay men. He seemed nice enough and we had a decent conversation going for part of the hike. Of course, he couldn't get away fast enough once it came out that I am a widow. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him at any hikes since then. I am curious as to whether or not he will remember me.

I am not holding out hope that I will meet MH #2 through this group as I have checked the attendance for the events they have already had and as with everything else I do, the majority of the attendees have been women-the only non-women have been the two organizers. (The museum group outing I did Saturday did have several men but I am pretty sure only one of them was under the age of 50. Of the 18 of us, I think only 3 or 4 including myself were under the age of 50). Of the 149 members currently in this new group, only 38 are men. I have also decided that I am not going to pursue dating until I get my braces off (which could be as soon as 3 months from now-WOO-HOO!-but should not be any longer than 6 months-yea! I miss popcorn and would love a Twix bar right about now). But, this group is just getting started and they already have quite a few events on the calendar that sound like they are right up my alley and the organizers have already posted that they welcome activity ideas from the members of the group. Now if I can just find an activity that doesn't conflict with my volunteer commitments...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Progress interrupted

I have known it is time to start packing up James' things for awhile now, but as with most things, I have been dragging my feet. I am such a procrastinator. But it's time. It's time to jump that last hurdle of denial and false hope and accept he is not going to need his things because he is not coming home to use them. Ever.

I found out that my chiropractor is a licensed SCUBA diver. So yesterday, I took James' SCUBA vest (or whatever the heck it is called) with me to my appointment to see if it fit her and if she wanted it. She had to go out of town and I had a substitute doctor, whom I had seen before and who reminded me how much I miss and crave the casual touch of a man. (Nothing inappropriate was done-but at one point I had to lean into him so he could adjust my back. It's the same technique my regular doctor uses and is like being hugged from behind. Man, I miss the feeling of having strong arms around me. James and I were a very "huggy" couple). But this meant I had to bring the vest thingy back home with me and put it back in my closet until next time. Strike one.

A few months ago, I donated most of his clothes to the Arc and to Goodwill. I just got up one day and did it. I kept a few items that had meaning to me and his socks since they come in handy when all my white ones are dirty. I think I need new socks as it seems I wear his more often than I wear my own.

I held on to his suits though because I didn't want to just give them to anyone. I'm not sure why. I think it is because he didn't have to wear suits to work but he did because he liked the way he felt when he did. And he looked mighty fine in them, if I do say so. I am fortunate in that the last image I have of him burned into my head is him standing in our upstairs hallway in a dark suit with a maroon shirt waiting for me to pass him in the hall so he can grab his winter coat off the railing.

It also makes me a little sick to think he spent a small fortune on them. He would wait until he got his coupon from the Men's Wearhouse and would go get a new suit or two and a couple of shirts and then he would come home and proudly show me what he bought and tell me which other suits the new shirts could be worn with. He did this proudly because we always joked we needed Granimals for grown-ups and he was happy that he was going to be able to match his clothes and not go to work looking like an idiot. Someone suggested that instead of giving them away, maybe I could sell them through a consignment shop, so I decided to look into that. I know James would approve of me doing that. It's probably what he would have told me to do had he been given the chance.

I found a consignment shop in Portland called "Well Suited." All they sell is men's suits. So, yesterday, I took 8 suits, 21 shirts, 5 belts, 3 pairs of suspenders and 3 pairs of shoes to be looked at by the owner. (Yeah, I know. Leave it to me to inventory everything first). When I got there, I noticed the limo company next to them had a Steelers flag in the window, and this gave me a surge of strength. However, tears filled my eyes as he dispassionately riffled through James' clothes, setting aside 3 suits and leaving the rest on the rack. I thought that wasn't too bad-he only set aside three. And then he told me that the 3 suits he set aside was all he could use. The rest didn't meet his standards. I find that interesting as I know for a fact 2 of the shirts had never even been worn and the shoes were in much better condition than the ones I saw on the rack. As I filled out the paperwork for the three suits, I stood there and cried. I even cried out one of my contacts, which he was nice enough to allow me to use the employees' only bathroom to put back in. I had finally gotten to the point of doing something with the suits and now I had to turn around and take them back home. Strike two.

Our bedroom closet is pretty small so not long after we moved in, we had California Closets come out and redo them to give us more space. Even after doing this, there still wasn't room in our closet for my suits and dresses. I work in a very casual office, so I wasn't wearing them anyway, so they have been in one of the guest room closets. When I got home yesterday, I took all my clothes from that closet and put them in the bedroom closet so I can't put his suits back in there. They are still in the trunk of my car and I can't leave them there either. In the next couple of days, I am going to have to decide if I want to try to find another consignment shop or a non-profit to donate them to.

The frustration of having to bring everything back did tell me one important thing though: this is going to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. And I am ready to face it.

Grey's Anatomy and Grief

I have been a fan of Grey's Anatomy since the first season. It is a show that James and I would always watch together-it capped off our Thursday night TV date night. Throughout the week, we would TIVO all our shows and then watch them all on Thursday. As the seasons went on, he kept saying it was becoming too much like a soap opera for him and he was going to stop watching it. But every week, there he was on the other end of the couch watching it with me.

Like everything else, watching it now without him is just not the same. I still love the show, but I rarely stay up to watch it on Thursday anymore. I find when I do, I still turn to where James should be sitting to comment on it only to find an empty space that reminds me I am watching it alone. Some habits die hard.

On last season's finale, one of the characters, Izzy, was dying from a brain tumor and another, George, was in critical condition after being hit by a bus. The show ended with both flatlining and the rest of the doctors trying to revive them. Of course, thanks to the Internet, it wasn't much of a cliffhanger as who lived (Izzy) and who died (George) was announced within days. Grr.

Each episode starts and ends with a voiceover narrative. Prior to watching the season premiere, I watched the finale again. I was really struck by the words of the narratives; I really related to them and found that for myself they rang true. Below are the beginning and ending narratives from the season finale:

"When something begins, you generally have no idea how it is going to end...We spend our whole lives thinking about the future, planning for the future, trying to predict the future. As if figuring it out will somehow cushion the blow. But the future is always changing. The future is the home of our deepest fears and our wildest hopes. But one thing is certain, when it finally reveals itself, the future is never the way we imagined it.

[We] spend a lot of time foused on the future, planning it, working toward it. But at some point you start to realize your life is happening now...right now. This is it. It's here. Blink and you will miss it.

And from this week's premiere, in which the doctors cope with the loss of their colleague and friend:

"Did you say it? I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life. Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it but every now and then look around, drink it in. 'Cuz this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow.

Grief may be a thing we all have in common but it looks different on everyone. It isn't just death we have to grieve. It's life, it's loss, it's change. And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, has to hurt so bad, the thing we've got to try to remember is that it can turn on a dime. That's how you stay alive. When it hurts so much you can't breathe, that's how you survive-by remembering that one day, somehow, impossibly, it won't feel this way. It won't hurt this much. Grief comes in its own time for everyone; in its own way so the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty. The really crappy thing, the very worst part about grief is that you can't control it. The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes. And let it go when we can. The very worst part is the minute you fell you're past it, it starts all over again. And always, every time, it takes your breath away."

Grief is a journey. It is not a sprint-it is a marathon but it doesn't have a finish line that you cross and say "okay, I am done now" as you try to catch your breath. It doesn't magically go away when you pass that one year mark on the calendar; it doesn't magically go away just because you meet someone else, have another child, make a new best friend or bond with another relative. It is a process and it is one that has to be gone through, not around. I can say this until I am blue in the face and type it until my fingers fall off. So, why then, am I having such a hard time with applying it to my own grief? Why do I keep trying to rush it?

Because my life is happening now. It is not the life I had envisioned and it scares me to know that no matter how much I dream about, hope for and plan for the future, I have very little control over how it is going to actually play out. That is not a good thing for a control freak! So I hope good things are in store for me but I cling tightly to the past. I hold on to the hope that James will one day come home, because that is familiar. And it is safe. I knew what life with James was like; I knew what to expect. After almost 20 months, I still don't know what to expect of life without him. I thought by now I would have a better idea of that-a better idea of who I am as just Heather. I know I don't like this life. I don't like being alone. So I hold on to the one person who kept me from being alone and I hope for a future I am not going to have.

This is my life. And I feel like I am wasting it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waiting for the Sun to Rise

Fans of the comic strip "Family Circus" know that when cartoonist Bill Keane goes on vacation, little Billy takes over for him. I have decided that since I feel like an awkward teenager these days, awkward teenage Heather is going to contribute to today's post.

Writing is not actually new to me. It is something I enjoyed in high school but never pursued because like most things, I didn't think I was good at it. Therefore, I have never shared my writing until I started this blog. I have a folder of the few things I wrote back then and have found most of them to be rather depressing.

I wrote this on January 3, 1991, when I was 16:

Waiting for the Sun to Rise

Waiting for the sun to rise
I think of the day to come
And I wonder what's in store for me
Will my day be happy and good?
Or will it be disappointing and sad?

Waiting for the sun to rise
I think of yesterday
And all the yesterdays before
Some of them were happy and good
But most were disappointing and sad.

Waiting for the sun to rise
So much goes through my head
I have done so much in life
And so much is yet to come
Sometimes I wonder if it will.

Now the sun is rising
And it's time to start my day
My wondering is over, my thoughts not quite complete
That's the story of my life each day
As I wait for the sun to rise.

I really do feel like a teenager again. Hopefully, my adolescence is much shorter this time around.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


According to Facebook's quiz of the day, I need anger management. I honestly didn't need a Facebook quiz to tell me that, I just think the quizzes are amusing although I do admit I have a morbid curiosity about their accuracy.

Not long after James died, I was put in touch with a therapist who was also widowed at a young age. She has been a great help to me because she GETS it. She has walked this road so she can relate to me by sharing her experience instead of the canned "and how does that make you feel?" response to everything. She has also really helped me accept myself as a widow when in general society does not. It's such a relief to not have to justify my feelings to her. In fact, whenever I say I am not a real widow, she always says to me "actually, you are." I really just need to stop caring so much about what label others want to give me-after all, no one other than James and I were active participants in our relationship and therefore have no right to tell me how I should and shouldn't feel.

At my last appointment with her, we talked about my joining the YMCA and that I have started going and that I was starting to feel some positive effects of it. The one thing I told her I was concerned about however was that I felt like exercising was bringing up my anger over James' death, but I didn't feel like I was releasing it and I didn't know what I needed to do to get it out. She asked what I was angry about.

I didn't know how to answer that. She asked if I was mad at James. I told her sometimes, when I am facing big decisions, or at the vet's scared because I don't know what is wrong with one of the dogs and I can't be scared because I have to stay strong, but it is hard for me to be mad at him because I know this wasnt' his choice. He would never have left me without saying good-bye; he would have known I would need him to tell me what he wanted for the rest of my life first. I told her I was more angry at God because I don't understand why James had to go. I'm mad because he died-he left after telling me for years the only way he was ever going to leave was if I showed him the door. I am angry because he knew how afraid I was of being alone and he PROMISED that was never going to happen.

I told the therapist that because I was just starting out at the gym, I wasn't really pushing myself that hard. We both thought that maybe if I pushed harder, that would help get out the anger. So today, I pushed myself like I never have before. I didn't even want to be there in the first place and I wanted to stop many times during my workout. But instead I pushed and pushed and worked my ass off (literally-I was doing an elliptical program that focused on the gluts).

I felt the anger rise and I didn't know what to do. I now know part of why I am not releasing it is because I don't want to show a huge display of emotion in such a public place (I do enough of that at work). But I also know I have to work through this-I have to get it out of my system. So, today when the anger started to well up, I started to think about what I am angry about.

I am angry that James died.
I am angry that I feel so ugly and unattractive. (I know they are the same thing. I just feel that ugly).
I am angry that I feel so worthless.
I am angry that I feel like an insecure 15-year-old. It isn't any more fun this time around than it was the last time.
I am angry that it seems like all my widowed friends are moving forward and I'm not.
I am angry that I don't have the patience for this.
I am angry that I can't make myself "better."
I am angry that I no longer have any sense of my future.
I am angry that I rarely dream about James and when I do it is using unpleasant.
I am angry that I don't feel like he is still with me.
I am angry I didn't do better when he was alive.
I am angry I didn't get to say good-bye.
I am angry that I don't know what he wants for me.
I am angry that I have to be so damn strong all the time.
I am angry that I don't know what to do with all this anger. I just want it to go away.

I just want it all to go away.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Retaliation

Friday, when I got in my car, I knew I had some planning to do. How was I going to pay back my co-worker for her little prank? I happened to glance over at the pocket in the passenger door and saw the two things that live there: the ice scraper and last year's school fundraiser.

Last year's school fundraiser, which I bought from this same co-worker, was also a coupon book. Unlike this year's Entertainment books, these were by a company called Payback. "Ooh, I thought. I must do something with the Payback book." The book was almost full as I would often forget I had the book and as a person living and mostly dining alone, I did not have a lot of use for "Buy 1, get 1 free (or half off)" coupons. I did notice I did use the "Buy 1, get 1 free" gordita coupon for Taco Bell, however. It's nice to know I paid 20 bucks to save $1.89. It's also scary that I know how much gordita's cost off the top of my head. And I am suddenly craving a pina colada Fruitista Freeze.

I wondered what I should do with the Payback book. And then I heard my other co-workers parting words "do you want me to take that (the fake check) and shred it for you?" Hmm...I have a shredder. I have a book of expired coupons that says PAYBACK on it. I have a plan.

My co-worker also said she was going to send the pictures she took to the instigator with a note that said "payback is a beyotch." (Turns out she was taking video and even though they did a trail run, it didn't work. Ha ha!) It just so happened that I was able to use the wording on the first page of the book to come up with this:

Then, with the help of my boys (aka "the most helpful dogs on the planet-just ask them"), I shredded the entire coupon book.

This morning, I did something rare for a Monday. I got ready for work rather quickly. My co-worker and I both start at 7:00 and I needed to make sure I got there before her. I had some decorating to do:
I was disappointed when she arrived and had forgotten about Friday's little stunt. However, once she was reminded by her little helper, she thought my retaliation was funny-and she made a note to self: be careful of what you do to Heather. She fights back.

I am not completely evil, however. I did help her clean up the mess. Ah yes, it was a very fun way to start off the week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The prank

It is that time of year again: the beginning of another school year. And along with that comes school fundraisers (and having to actually turn the lights on in order to get ready for work in the morning, which is so depressing). Early in the week, my co-worker brought in the sign-up sheet and a sample of this year's fundraiser for her neice's class, which is entertainment coupon books. Of course I signed up for one. I can't resist helping the schools.

Several other co-workers signed up for them too and late Friday afternoon, three of us got into a conversation on how school fundraisers, Girl Scout cookie sales, etc. have changed since back in the day when we were the ones selling them. Back when I was a kid (Good God-when did I get old enough to actually start sentences that way?!), I roamed the neighborhood going door-to-door selling stuff on my own. I even had a regular customer-Mrs. Hutsell. I wasn't even the closest kid to her house, but every year, she waited just for me to come knocking on her door. I always went to her first, especially if I had candy bars. I wanted to make sure she got first crack at her favorite for being so nice to me. It made a HUGE impact-and this is a huge reason why I always buy from all the kids. I hope that someday I will fondly be remembered as someone's Mrs. Hutsell.

Now kids don't sell door-to-door on their own anymore. They either camp out in front of the grocery store or the parents are expected to do it. It's too dangerous for the kids to do it themselves. I was telling my co-workers how I have actually had two boy scouts come to my door the last two years, but their mom comes with them. They are so cute. They come in their little uniforms and make their little sales pitch and they are always so happy when they complete the sale. I even let them help me decide what I should buy.

I also told my co-workers that last year I had a set of twin boys come to my house to sell cookie dough and how my first thought was "where on Earth is your mother?!" I bought cookie dough but I was pretty sure that was the last I was going to see of these little boys. I told them I was even more unconvinced I would ever actually see the cookie dough when the school called to tell me they had found my check in the parking lot along with several others and they were trying to verify which student to credit for the sale. Yikes! (I did get the cookie dough-my friends and I enjoyed the cookies during last month's camping trip). So, I jokingly said to the co-worker selling the books that if her neice could actually get the check to her teacher, that would be swell.

When I went to leave Friday, one of the co-workers (L) who I was having this conversation with was in the office of another co-worker, J, who was not present for the conversation. As I walked by, L said to have a good weekend and try to get some sleep-I had mentioned I didn't get to sleep in this weekend due to volunteer commitments. Then L and J started talking really quietly, which I found odd, but I shrugged it off.

As I was putting my stuff in my car, J opened the blinds to her office. I was parked in front of her window. Again, I thought this was odd-plenty of light still gets in with the shades drawn-but figured there must have been something she wanted to look at pertaining to whatever she and L were talking about. (I can be so clueless). I walked around to the driver side of my car and started to get in when I noticed there was a piece of paper by my front tire. Annoyed, I got out of the car and went to grab it. Our building had been tagged by gangbangers earlier in the week and I didn't think we needed a parking lot full of litter on top of it.

I saw J had her cell phone out and looked like she was going to take a picture of me. So, I stuck my tongue out at her (I do that a lot in pictures). I bent down to get the paper but found it was wedged under my tire. And then I saw my and James' names on it and I realized it was a copy of the check I had used to pay for the coupon book. I noticed our address had been crossed out but I couldn't see the rest of the check. I backed up my car and when I went to grab the paper, it flew out of reach under my car. I wanted to get it because I didn't know if the account information had been crossed out as well (it had been). So, I got down on my hands and knees to try to retrieve it. I should probably mention at this point that on Thursday (day before), I had smashed my knee into the corner of the server, and then went and lugged school supplies around after work which did not help, so I was down on the cement parking lot on a VERY painfully bruised knee. By this time, my co-workers were standing in the doorway laughing at me and taking pictures. Apparently, they had to lift the car to put the "check" under the tire and were afraid they would set my alarm off. J said she was going to send the instigator the pictures (she was gone for the day) with a message that said "payback is a beyotch." I said to tell her I was NOT amused. I wasn't upset about the joke as much as having to get down on an already painful knee. J asked if I wanted her to shred the "check" for me but I told her I had 3 shredders at home: a little $15 Bosser that works much better than the $80 cross-cut we bought and two paper loving dogs.

As I got into the car, I gleefully thought that I had all weekend to come up with my payback. As I was getting settled, I happened to glance over at the pocket in passenger door. And an idea started to take shape...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It all comes down to two boxes

On March 2, 2005, my father-in-law died somewhat unexpectedly. He had been in the hospital for about a week or so, and had been told with a couple of lifestyle changes, he probably had about 2 years left. Instead of going home the day after being told this, he died.

Ernie had only been a part of my life for 5 years and I only saw him a handful of times as we lived in different states. As his only child, James was the sole beneficiary of everything he had.

After the funeral, we went through his things and packed up all his paperwork and the mementos James wanted to keep. The boxes (actually, they were those red and green holiday totes) were first shipped via UPS to our home in Arizona and then moved with us back up here to Washington. They sat in our office unopened for just under 3 years. James was just never ready to go through them. I understood completely: my dad had died not quite 4 months before his and the boxes of my dad's things we shipped home had not been gone through either. It was I who finally opened the boxes of Ernie's things. I needed pictures for James' memorial DVD.

Several months ago, I went through the boxes a little more thoroughly so I could see if there were any reminders of Ernie I wanted to keep and to repack the rest in boxes a little more suitable for shipping so I could send the things to Ernie's sister to distribute to the family. It was an overwhelming project I never finished, until today. The reminders of my father-in-law's life boil down to two boxes. I am saddened by this even though I know a person's life is measured by far more than just their material, "prized" possessions.

There are pictures. And most importantly, there are the memories. The first time I met Ernie was June 2000. He and his girlfriend decided to take a vacation up here so Ernie could be here to celebrate James' birthday with him. James and I had been together for 6 months and weren't officially living together yet, which made it a little less nerve-wracking for me. If it didn't go well, I could escape. It turned out I had nothing to worry about. Not really knowing what to do to entertain them, we ended up going to Seattle and spending a wonderful day at the Pike Street Market, the Space Needle and the Aquarium.

The next time I saw Ernie was about a year later. We decided to go to Reno and Sacramento for a long Easter weekend. When I met Ernie, I was going through my auburn-hair phase. By this time, I had grown tired of the upkeep and had gone back a more natural dark brown. When he saw me, he informed me that I was going to make a liar out of him because he had told everyone I was a redhead. He was not happy about this! He got over it quickly however. For Easter dinner, we had both tacos and spaghetti to honor his heritage and mine. He wanted me to feel welcome. Ever since then, I have only wanted to have tacos for Easter dinner. (James made the BEST tacos!)

It was also during this visit that, thanks to my severe allergies, he started calling me "Heather under the weather." From then on, every time he called and I answered the phone, he would ask "is this Heather under the weather?" If James answered, he would ask James how Heather under the weather was doing.

I liked going to visit Ernie. His house was very quiet and had a homey feel to it. Ernie made me laugh, and he made it clear I was part of the family whether James planned to marry me or not. I loved to watch the interaction and see the love between James and Ernie. Plus, James always made fun of me for watching Lifetime, and Ernie loved the cheesy Lifetime movies. I never saw his TV on another channel unless he went out for something and James changed it. Funny how James never made fun of Ernie for that...

The one thing I will always remember the most about Ernie is how much he loved James. Ernie was actually James' adoptive father, but he loved James more than life itself. You could see it in his eyes and you could hear it in his voice. James was his boy. I have rarely seen as much love pour out for another as the love Ernie had for his boy.

It's hard to see the material aspects of this man's life reduced to two boxes. I think this is part of the reason I have not been able to bring myself to box up James' things yet. Each of his things are here for a reason. They have meaning and memory attached. To put that away in a box is so cold and impersonal. It took me 4 years to unpack my dad's things and 4 1/2 to pack up Ernie's things to send off. My grandma's things have been sitting here in their box for 2 1/2 years and I am in no hurry to unpack that box. Four years seems to be my time line. I do feel it is time to start on James' things though. I feel I cannot completely move forward until I do. I cannot completely accept he is not coming back when our home looks just like it did the day he died. I am just not sure I have the strength to see the physical reminders of the man I planned to spend the rest of my life with reduced to just a couple of boxes but I know I need to try.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


One of the biggest effects of the death of a partner is the feeling that your life no longer has purpose. My purpose was to be the best partner I could to James and the best puppy mom to Sammy and Charlie. I knew that Sammy and Charlie would only be with us for a short time (relatively speaking) but never would have guessed my time with James would end before our time with the boys did. In a split second, my world was shattered: my purpose was gone and I no longer had anything to live for, other than the dogs. And what happens when they are gone? Then I will truly have no purpose. (Do not hit your desk in frustration A, just keep reading). Pretty much all I can do is hope that when the time comes for the boys go live with James, I will have figured out my sense of purpose; that I will have a new reason to keep getting out of bed in the morning.

But here's the thing: that's not my sense of purpose. That is my sense of happiness. And they are not the same. I don't believe my life's purpose was to love James. I do believe without a shadow of a doubt we were meant to be together. I truly believe James, Sammy, Charlie and I were meant to be a family, as non-traditional as we were. I believe this with all my heart. But, I am still here and he is not-his purpose is fulfilled. There is still something I am meant to do. I am here to do more than just love James and our dogs.

I have thought about this a lot over the last 19 months and feel very strongly about the conclusions I have come to. As I said, James and I were meant to be together. Everything that we went through we were supposed to endure together. What I have come to believe and accept a little more each day is that James' purpose was to get me to the point where I could continue on and complete my purpose. I will never understand why he was only to get me to that point and was not to stay here to cheer me on and be by my side as I do what I am supposed to do. The only thing I can think of is that his death is somehow the trigger for it and I cannot yet grasp how or what that is.

I don't know exactly what it is I am supposed to do, but I know that I am in some way supposed to help people. As time goes on, the "what" will be revealed to me but I have a feeling it involves writing. I don't know how I know this; I just do. I was put here to help others. And prior to being with James, I was too shy and did not have enough inner strength and/or faith in myself to carry this out. I need the tools he gave me both in life and in death.

I also believe my fear of being alone deeply plays into this. It is not that I am afraid I can't make it on my own. I prove I can make it everyday. The fear is that if I am alone, then no one needs me. If no one needs me, then how can I help them? And if no one needs my help, then I don't need to be here. I have no purpose. And I am so not ready for my number to be up. (It can't be up yet-I need to be here for my boys and I really want to know who MH #2 is first. I need to know if the Magic 8 ball was right. And I am going to go parasailing one of these days, though probably not in Mexico since I am 0-2 there. I think I'll give Hawaii or Jamaica a try. I simply have a lot of living left to do).

This realization hit me today as I was preparing for my volunteer project. I noticed that the volunteer coordinator put the project for October on the calendar and that I am not the project leader. My insecurities flared up and my first thought was that they were "firing" me. I am sure that is not the case and that this is a matter of a new person not yet knowing the ropes. On my way there, I was very upset thinking they can't take this away from me. I need them to need me: I need the feeling of purpose I get from leading this project. I need the feeling of purpose that comes from them knowing they can count on me to be there for them. The thought did cross my mind that if they truly were changing the way the project is handled, I would just find a project that did need me. The volunteer coordinator was not there this evening so I will have to clear this all up when I see her on Saturday. And I think it is safe to say I have been volunteering there long enough the other employees are not going to just let me walk away. I am pretty sure the store manager appreciates having a project leader that can run the show freeing him up to get his other work done. He wouldn't have (sort of) made part of the store my baby if he didn't.

I don't really know where to go next. I know I just have to keep plugging along and let this all unfold as it is supposed to. I wish I knew James was only here to get me from Point A to Point B a long time ago. I would have taken a lot longer to get to Point B. Now all I can do is hope that his new purpose allows him to continue to guide me along because while he may have completed his mission, it doesn't mean I don't still need him to help me with mine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's not Dorothy, but I'll take it!

A couple of weeks ago when I got back from my camping trip, I had a Facebook friend request from a woman with my last name. I believe I have mentioned before my last name is not very common, so it is always exciting to come across others who share it (and therefore can actually pronounce it correctly). I didn't respond to it right away. I have my account set up so notifications are e-mailed to me and I typically only log on if there is something I feel I need to respond to sooner rather than later. Although lately, I have found myself logging on to FB more and more often, but have still resisted all the games, for which I am very proud of myself. (Can't say the same about the quizzes. I wonder if I should tell my family I am going to die in 2 years and it is going to take 28 years to find my body? And I disagree that if I was a football team, I would be the Seattle Seachickens).

My friend is my inspiration to keep plugging away with my family search so I sent her an e-mail with the subject "A girl can dream, right?" and told her that this women had sent me a friend request and said wouldn't it be great if this woman was a distant cousin with reams and reams of family info to share with me? My friend responded that yes, that would be cool and put in a genealogical dream request of her own.

As I have mentioned before, I have an elusive maternal great-grandmother named Dorothy Wentz. So, in my response back to my friend I said that while I was at it, maybe I should dream that a Wentz descendant will magically appear and tell me that Dorothy was his/her favorite aunt and just so happen to have a copy of her birth certificate in one pocket and a check made out to me from Publisher's Clearinghouse in the other. (If I'm going to dream, I might as well get some money out of it. I want to go parasailing in Hawaii). I know she knows me well enough to have caught that was an extremely sarcastic sentence as she has tried to help me with Dorothy and has come to the same conclusion I have: the woman is a pain in the ass.

I didn't think anything more of it and actually forgot about the friend request that started it all until this past Friday. I have since added her as a friend and made contact with another friend of hers with our same last name who indicated possibly having distant cousins in Nevada, which is where I was born. I don't think my immediate family is who her grandparents were talking about however.

Friday, I was checking my e-mail and received the following message via

"Hi - Have discovered a connection through Alexander Emil G. - his older brother Johannes Carl Gottlieb G. was my husbands gtgrandfather. Alexander was one of 11 born to Prussian missionaries who went to India mid 19th c. Have lots of info. and would like to share. Lionel Walter Kirkpatrick G also had a brother named Karl Roger Kirkpatrick G. Look forward to hearing from you."

Oh yes, there was happy dancing. Emil is my paternal second great-grandfather and he did live in India in the 19th century. (Lionel Walter is my great-grandfather; I have him with 2 sisters but had not come across a brother. Kirkpatrick is their mother's maiden name). I have been stuck on Emil's parentage, as has my 4th cousin in England who has done some work on this line even though she is not a direct descendant to this line. Part of the reason is some records show him as Emil Alexander, others as Alexander Emil; the name switching is also the case for the man we have determined may or may not be his father. In all of the personal correspondence I have, it is Emil. This weekend was somewhat busy and I did not get a chance to respond.

Like I said, it's not Dorothy, but I'll take it! I wonder if I would get a lead on Dorothy if I asked nicely for a change?

Monday, September 14, 2009


Today I had an appointment with my therapist who has assured me that I am actually a normal young widow. She was one as well which is part of why I like her so much-she GETS it. It always makes me feel better to hear her tell me that I am still on track no matter how insane I feel.

On my way there and on my way home, I saw an ambulance. Every time I see or hear an ambulance approaching, I tense up. I can't help but wonder "is that the one?" If it is a Clark County Fire and Rescue ambulance, I feel myself breathe a sigh of relief because that can't be it. If it is an AMR ambulance though, I find myself trying to get a peek at the paramedics. Is that them? They were so nice to me that night. I hope I thanked them for that. I know they gave me their names and a number to call if I wanted the full report, but I don't know what happened to it and I know all I need-and want-to know. James had a heart attack, veered across two lanes of traffic, hit two cars and never regained consciousness. The other drivers were not injured. That is all I need to know. Knowing anything more will not change the outcome.

The ambulances I saw today were both AMR ambulances. Everything from that night is such a blur I don't know if I would even recognize the paramedics. One was a dark haired female-I think her name was Brandy; the other was male. That's all I remember about him. Brandy sticks in my head because that was James' favorite karoake song. He was coming home so chances are the ambulance was dispatched from Portland because if it was dispatched from SW Washington Medical Center, it would have been going the wrong way on the bridge. It would have had to cross the bridge and then come back. I was told they were there quickly; traffic was still backed up from an earlier accident so they had to be coming from Portland, not Vancouver. Coming from Vancouver would have taken twice as long. This is what I tell myself to try to relieve the tension when I see an ambulance here in Vancouver. In Portland, I am just left to wonder. So far, I don't think I have seen the same paramedics; I don't know how I would react if I did.

When James died, my aunt said to me that when I see an ambulance, that's James. When I see a car like his, that's James. That is how she keeps my cousin alive. I had a hard time with that, and still do, but on emotional days like today, I try to embrace a feeling of his presence rather than focus on the unknown.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Want

I have a friend who is a big believer in the Law of Attraction. She keeps telling me that I have to "put out there" what it is I want. Over the last several months, I have been thinking about this and compiling a list. (And no, I did NOT make a spreadsheet. (Yes, I thought about it). I actually wrote this by hand on college-ruled paper with a pencil). I have a pretty good idea of what it is I am looking for. Some of these traits are ones I loved in James; some are different as I am not the same person I was when he was alive. Other than the first two, these are in no particular order-it is just how they came to mind.

  • I want a man who makes me laugh.
  • I want a man who loves my dogs.
  • I want a man who is understanding of my position as a widow. It would be nice if he was widowed too.
  • I want a man who likes to read.
  • I want a man who likes to travel.
  • I want a man who likes to (or is at least willing to) volunteer or who supports my desire to do so.
  • I want a man who does not smoke.
  • I want a man who only drinks on occasion. Every day is not an occasion.
  • I want a man who I can take a nice long walk/go on a hike/explore with in the morning and then spend a lazy afternoon at home with.
  • I want a man I can take to game night with my friends. Both the rowdy set and the calm set.
  • I want a man who has his own hobbies which will allow me to work on mine.
  • I want a man who likes to try new restaurants but is okay with the occasional trip to the Olive Garden.
  • I want a man who accepts and loves me for who I am-quirks and all-and does not try to change me (one of the things I loved most about James).
  • I want a man who encourages me to do my best and follow my dreams.
  • I want a man who compliments me-not completes me.
  • I want a man who will encourage me to try new things (interests).
  • I want a man I can talk to for hours about anything and/or nothing and have it only feel like a few minutes have passed.
  • I want a man who is on par with me financially.
  • I want a man who owns his own home.
  • I want a man who does not have kids (unless he is widowed, of course) or baby mama drama.
  • I want a man who does not do drugs.
  • I want a man who is 33 - 41, give or take a couple of years on either end.
  • I want a man who is most certainly NOT already married to someone else. (That would so beyond suck. Not to mention royally piss me off).
  • I want a man who is a good listener and who pays attention to the little details.
  • I want a man who treats me with the respect I deserve.
  • I want a man who likes to listen to music.
  • I want a man who has a dorky side.
  • I want a man who has a job.
  • I want a man who I am physically attracted to. (Obviously).
  • I want a man who preferably has dark hair (NO CARROT TOP REDHEADS).
  • I want a man who is taller than me, which shouldn't be too difficult since I am only 5'4".
  • I want a man who is in good physical (and mental) health.
  • I want a man who is willing to talk things out and work through the issues that arise in every relationship. I want a man who doesn't believe in divorce.
  • I want a man who is honest.
  • I want a man who respects my spiritual beliefs even if his are different.
  • I want a man who is affectionate.
  • I want a man who is laid-back.
As time goes on, I am sure the list will be added to and the priority order will change (especially since there isn't one now). But here it is: my summary of Mystery Husband #2. If nothing else, this list will hopefully keep me from settling for anyone who is less than ideal.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fool Me Once...

What a difference a day makes. Let's review shall we:

December 1999: After very little success at dating, I met James. Our first date was 12/31/99. Our second date was 8 hours after the first one ended. As we were pretty much inseparable after that, I tell people our second date ended 8 years, 1 month and 6 days later on the night of 2/6/08 when he suffered a heart attack and died instantly while driving home from work.

September 2008: Even though I know I am not ready to date, e-Harmony is having a free communication weekend for Labor Day. I fill out the profile and get the message that 25% of people cannot be matched and I am one of them.

October 2008: I fill out a profile on Plenty of Fish, where I specify I am just looking for friendship. Over 50 men look at my profile but none initiate contact. A month later, I hide my profile after a discussion on their message board reveals the prevailing thought on that site is that the death of a fiance(e) is the equivalent of a bad break-up and grieving as though you are widowed is just a cry for attention. (The widowed people on the board did NOT feel this way, but were greatly outnumbered, as one would expect).

I give up on online dating for the second time in my life, the first time being shortly before I met James.

July 2009: Loneliness has really set in and my fear it will always be this way is paralyzing. I find out e-Harmony is having another free weekend. I know people who have met this way. Not just know of them, but actually know them. I gave my desk to and just went camping with one of the couples. My opponent this week for Fantasy Football met her new hubby this way (as did her roommate)-I have known her for about 12 years. She was one of the original members of my bunco group. We are "for reals" friends. I know this can work and I am not meeting anyone that wants to date me through my day-to-day life. So, even though I have previously been rejected, I fill out the profile again. At the end I get a message saying that I cannot be matched at this time. Thinking I have been rejected again, a couple of days later I am surprised to find an e-mail from e-Harmony saying I have a match that requests communication. I log in and find I have 8 matches. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I decide to subscribe. After all, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

August 2009: I grow increasingly discouraged by the lack of contact with and the quality of my matches. The experience brings up bad memories from my pre-James days and makes me feel unattractive and worthless and I want to quit. However, on the advice of several people and because of my fear of spending the majority of my adulthood alone like my mother and her mother before her, I decide to give it more time and I also create a profile for I submit it on 8/19 and it is rejected.

September 2009: Frustrated, discouraged and with my self-esteem in the toilet, I cancel my e-Harmony account. When asked why I am canceling my account, I reply that I am discouraged that out of almost 100 (99) matches only 2 made contact, those I tried to contact never responded and that this has been a waste of my time and money.

September 4, 2009: For some reason, I am curious and log into my account to see if I have any new matches. Although it is cancelled, the account is still active until 10/08 as that is what I paid for. I have a new match and he has initiated contact. He meets several of my criteria, so I respond. He is very quick to respond back to all my responses, except he ignores my request for a picture. He responds so quickly it actually creeps me out because I feel like he is just sitting there waiting to hear from me. (Literally, within a couple of hours from hearing from me, I have a response from him). It also raises my Spidey sense how perfect this guy sounds-he is basically the male equivalent of me-but I press on. We quickly get to the last stage before we can openly communicate with each other and suddenly, he is no longer sitting by the computer eagerly waiting to hear from me. Hmmm...

September 9, 2009: Checking my account I discover a new match is the same as a match from 8/25, but with a different profile. It creeps me out and disgusts me.

Which brings us to today. Still creeped out and disgusted by Dual Profile Man, I Google "reporting fraud e-Harmony" to see if there is a way I can report this guy since I couldn't find a way to do it on their site. While I do not find anything about this, I find quite a few very recent complaints on several sites about subscribers all of a sudden getting contacted by matches as soon as they close their accounts. Matches that close the match or stop communicating right before the open communication stage, or as soon as the member changes their mind and agrees to pay for another month. Hmm. Complaints about e-Harmony matching active members up with inactive and/or old profiles. Complaints about e-Harmony matching members up with fake profiles. Complaints about e-Harmony still charging credit cards after the account has been closed. (They better not-I already have a connection at a law office thanks to James not having a will and his estate having to go through probate).

Through my experience of having worked for a property management company, I know that people are more likely to go online and complain than they are to leave kudos. But to be fair, I Googled "e-Harmony success." The only recent success stories are on their own site.

When I got home from work, I closed my match with Mr. Sounds to Good to be True (aka #100) and the other guy with no picture that is all of a sudden interested in communicating with me just in case these are real people. And then I closed my account for good. Although if I change my mind, I can go back and re-open it between now and October 8. I won't change my mind. I believe they were reputable at one time; as I said I have friends who have had success. But I believe that is no longer the case.

I have questions. I do wonder how many of my matches were legitimate and really did not have any interest in me. I wonder how many filled out the profile and were interested but could not contact me because they were not paid subscribers. I wonder how many of these were old or inactive profiles: is that how I got matched with the same guy twice? I wonder how many of these were fake: I suspect #100 is and that is why he was so quick to respond but ignored my request for a picture.

The other day my friend made a comment that really struck me. He said that life has a way of letting him know the correct path if he just pays attention and listens. In my stubbornness (which I have in abundance), I have not been paying attention or listening to what was so clearly being said to me: this is not the right path. I have said that before in previous posts. I have known that in my gut all along but ignored it because I am not encountering single men in my day-to-day life and didn't know what else to do. (Still working on that whole "try being patient" thing. It is so not me).

I do not want to spend the rest of my life alone. I am capable of doing it; but it is not what I want. Growing old alone ranks at the top of the list (along with bats) of things I am terrified of-it has since I was a little girl. And now that I am turning off the path of online dating (hopefully, I can stay off it for good this time!), I have to find a way to not let the fear take hold of me again. As I told my friends, who all agreed because they are awesome, if I am meant to meet someone, I will. I just have to keep telling myself that. They all think MH#2 is out there (as do I) and he will find me.

In the meantime, while I am waiting I am going to go look up "patience" in the dictionary. And the thesarus.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Creepy and disturbing

After going through the "get home" routine, I came up to check my e-mail, message boards, blogs I follow, etc, which is actually part of the routine. Then I decided to check my e-Harmony account to see if Match 100 had responded to my latest round of questions or my request for a picture yet. (He has not). While I was at it, I checked my new matches. I looked at one of the pictures and thought "well, that's odd. I thought it said this was a new match." I looked at the match date and sure enough, it says match delivered on 09/09/09. So, I went back through my other matches and found what I was looking for: I have been matched with the same guy twice. Clearly, we are compatible. This is disturbing. Why? Because the matches were made by a guy with two very different profiles.

First, I was matched with the 39-year-old Eduardo (names are being changed). My new match with the exact same picture is 37-year-old Edward. The 39-year-old is a business owner/appraiser. The other is a real estate appraiser. One's most influential person in his life was several people along the way. The other's was his uncle. One is passionate about spending time with his family and friends; the other about being creative (is making up multiple profiles considered being creative?). One hasn't read a book in ages; the other is a fan of investment guides and Harry Potter. There is not much the two Eds have in common other than they are both 6'1" and can't live without hot sauce.

And I am match for both of them. Sweet! Wow. I'm simply blown away by this. Which is the real Ed? I think it is safe to say I will be closing both matches. I don't think I could ever trust someone like this.

The (allegedly) 37-year-old father of two may be worth a second look however...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


On my way to work Friday morning, I had a bit of a temper tantrum in which I told the Universe in no uncertain terms exactly where it could go and exactly what it could do when it got there. I did have a moment where I wondered if it was really a good idea to tell the Universe to f*** off-repeatedly-but it felt good and I could have gone on longer but my commute is only 4.5 miles. I have tried bargaining, pleading, asking nicely, praying, thinking positive and focusing on exactly what I want. None of that is working, so I was pretty much down to my last option. (Other than suddenly becoming a patient person which is so not likely to happen at this stage in the game).

I told the Universe I didn't think it was fair to have James plucked away from me. I didn't think it was fair for me to then meet a great man only to have the Universe say "psych! Just kidding! This was just a test to show you you are still capable of feeling but you don't really get to be happy again. At least not with this one even though you are the type of woman he can see having a future with AND he thinks you're great." and break my slowly healing heart again. (Yes, I know there is a lesson here: I can still feel, I got a new friend out of the deal and I know what I am looking for in a partner now. Doesn't make it hurt any less when I really miss my friend and his companionship now that life seems to be taking us in different directions. For the last 8 months, he has been the only person I truly feel like myself around). I didn't think it was fair to have 99 freakin' matches on e-Harmony and only have 2 contact me and the ones I tried to contact completely ignore me. I didn't think it was fair to have been rejected by I didn't think it was fair that on top of a shattered heart I was being made to feel worthless and unattractive. I told the Universe I did not ask for any of this, I deserve better than this and it better start showing me some love or at least throw me a freakin' bone. I asked what exactly it wanted from me because I have nothing more to give. I got a lot out in a short amount of time. (I do realize I have some unresolved anger issues stemming from James' death).

I don't know why, but later in the day, I felt the urge to log on to my e-Harmony account. I cancelled it last week, but since it is paid for until 10/08, it is active until then. The message I got when I closed it was that I could still communicate with my matches until then. I don't know why, but I was curious if that meant I would still get new matches, or if I could just communicate with the ones I already had.

I had a new match. Match #100. And he wanted to communicate with me. His profile didn't blow me away, but I liked what it had to say. He meets several of my criteria. He doesn't have a picture and that bothers me a little bit as I feel he has an unfair advantage in knowing what I look like and for all I know he could have been the guy behind me at the post office today (except the "guy" behind me was a woman who lives in Sun City, AZ and is just visiting and likes to buy the boxes at the post office to use to send oranges to her family here. I seem to have developed the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone since James died. But if she was a 41-year-old man, she could have been my match). The not having a picture thing bugs me for other reasons too, especially since I requested one. He's been very prompt at responding to my communications-almost too prompt. And so far, on paper, this guy sounds great. But I am very skeptical. I am actually more leery than excited about it. (My mother, on the other hand, thinks I sound perfect for him. No one other than James will ever be perfect for me as far as she is concerned). As the saying goes "if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," and so far he sounds a little too perfect. Instead of being excited, my Spidey sense is on high alert-something just feels off about this.

Today, I had another match that has requested communication. Again, 41 years old and no picture. (This one is not a new match. He's been around since 8/21). And, the only guy (out of 100) who really grabbed my attention finally responded to my opening questions-by closing the match. He doesn't feel the chemistry is there. Maybe he would have if he was 41. That is also how old the above mentioned friend is and how old James was when he died.

I'm not counting on or even expecting to get to the point of ever meeting either one of these men but it does give me a glimmer of hope there is a Chapter 2 out there for me waiting to be written and this is the opening paragraph. But at the same time, I can't help but wonder if I am just being set up for another fall so the Universe can just laugh at me once again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today's moment of panic brought to you by the NCAA

Tonight is opening night for the 2009-2010 college football season. This is not normally something I care about as I don't really follow college football. This season opener is a little different however, as one of the games is the Oregon Ducks vs. the Boise State Broncos. I pretty much live in a suburb of Portland, even though I live in Washington. So this is very much Duck/Beaver (Oregon State) territory. And I am from Idaho. You would think that would make it tough for me to pick a side, right? Wrong. I went to the University of Idaho. I am a Vandal. And who do we hate? Boise State!!! (Catchy, isn't it?)

When I got to work today, I had an e-mail message from my dear friend making sure I was clear that for today only I am a Duck fan. (It really is for today only as another dear friend is a Beaver so I usually root for them). I had already come to that conclusion so I had to chuckle when I got her message. She also sent it to her sister and by the time the day was over, we had sent several messages back and forth, the final gist of it being we are true Vandal fans, it is a slow news day in the Boise area since the game was the top story on the local newspaper's website, and either the media in Oregon really doesn't care (at least it was not a priority for the two sites I checked) or the local media is run by Beaver fans, which is actually a strong possibility.

I was thinking over my day earlier as I was watching the Braves choke against the Marlins. I love my boys, but man, they don't always make it easy to be a fan! I was thinking a bunch of random thoughts (need to create activity spreadsheet, it sure would be nice if Chipper Jones could remember how to hit the damn ball, it's amazing how filling salad is, etc) when an absolutely horrifying thought entered my mind: what if I meet a man and I know-just KNOW-he is Mystery Husband #2 and I find out he went to Boise State? Oh the horror! Would I be able face my Vandal friends? Would they accept him? Would I have to keep it a secret from He-who-calls-me-Hector (aka Husband-of-fellow-Vandal-turned-Duck-for-the-day)? Could I accept this fault? The thought really does make me sick (could be the salad-it was pretty big). I'm a pretty loyal, not to mention surprisingly competitive, person; this could actually be a dealbreaker.

And then I remembered. This is MH #2 (I shorten it in my head) we are talking about. He will be perfect. And perfect people simply don't go to BSU. Whew! As James would say, crisis averted. (Note to MH #2: you also did not go to UW, and you hate the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Astros. It doesn't matter why you hate them, just that you do).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 2 at the YMCA

I wonder how long it is going to take me to be able to type YMCA without the song going through my head? I really think they should have a cardboard cutout of the Village People to greet members as they come through the door.

Today as I was working out, I took note of the other people who were there and I started to think about how disappointed my therapist is going to be if this trend continues:

  • 1 HS/College aged kid who reminds me of the actor that played Smash Williams on the TV version of "Friday Night Lights." He may be jailbait, but at least he's good looking jailbait.
  • 3 post-retirement age men, which is my PC way of saying geezer
  • 2 men of unknown status, meaning no wedding rings. A lot of men don't wear their wedding rings so that really means nothing. If I ruled the world, married men would wear their rings. It would be law. I would of course allow them to be off during working hours for men with dangerous jobs that could end up getting it caught in machinery, but that is pretty much it. I think it's sexy when a man wears his ring-it says to me that he really loves his wife. (And, of course, that he is off-limits. Homegirl don't play that way).
  • And 9 women

The step aerobics class I passed had 6 women and 1 old guy.

My therapist had two reasons for wanting me to join a gym: first, to boost my seretonin levels since I refuse to take an anti-depressant due to a bad reaction I had to one I was given years ago for pain management. Secondly, she thought it would be a great place for me to meet Mystery Husband #2. Well, I am not looking for a sugar daddy or to switch teams, so she may be out of luck in her hopes and dreams for me, at least in this regard.

I don't plan to post the attendance statistics everyday I go to work out, but I do plan on keeping track. I plan to track attendance at volunteer and meetup events too. It may end up being depressing, but I want something to take back to the therapist to show her that I really am trying to get out and meet people because I don't really think she believes I am. It will also be a great social experiment to show just how much more women make themselves available than men-at least in the types of settings I am comfortable with (meaning: ones that do not revolve around alcohol). Plus, I love my spreadsheets and already have one mapped out in my head for this.

As for the workout itself, I almost erased the caramel frappucino I had for breakfast, which was needed due to yet another sleepless night.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Last Thursday, I had a conversation with our cousin, which sounds kind of incestuous to say it like that. She is really James' cousin, but we hit it off when we first met and adopted each other after James and her mother died a month apart. So now she is my cousin. We are actually a lot alike, only she is MUCH stronger than I am.

In addition to being cousins, James was one of her best friends. And she was the relative he was the closest to. As a result, I sometimes feel she best understands my loss. At first, there were some things I was hesitant to talk to her about because I knew her loyalty would be to James and his memory, as it should be. However, in April, she spent a weekend with me and I was able to talk to her face-to-face about the things I had been afraid to mention, which actually went very well, and I was greatly relieved with her telling me she 1000% (yes 1,000) wants me to move forward with someone else someday. His whole family wants that for me.

So Thursday night here I was playing on Facebook when I should have been packing for the camping trip when she started a chat with me. The timing was perfect as I needed someone to talk to but didn't know who to call. After chatting online for a few minutes, I ended up calling her. I think she understood most of what I was saying through my sobs. She answered like she did. A benefit of having kids I guess-the ability to understand "sob talk."

The thing she said that most stood out is that I am way too hard on myself and that it was okay to want to move forward but that wasn't going to happen until I gave myself permission: permission to move forward and permission to let it take as long as it needs to take for me to be ready.

I thought about this a lot over the weekend and have realized a few things in the process. First, I am wrestling with some lingering guilt. If I had cooked healthier, promoted a healthier lifestyle, would James still have died? Logically, I know he probably would have. Emotionally, I feel I failed him by not taking better care of him.

Second, I am not practicing what I preach. Time and time again, I have told other widows that this is an individual journey that takes as long as it takes. There is no timeline, yet I am trying to force myself into one. It has been over a year and a half, so I should be over it by now, right? Wrong. On average, it takes 3-5 years to recover from the death of a spouse. For some it takes less, for some longer. It will take as long as it takes. The problem is I am primarily Scottish and Italian and as a result, I seem to have been born without the patience gene. I also find I am comparing myself to others and using their progress as a benchmark for where I should be. This is unfair to myself. I don't fully know their stories and even if I did, their story is not mine; their grief journey is not on the same road as mine. I need to stop worrying about where I think other people think I should be at this stage and allow myself to be where I am at. True friends will still love me and will not abandon me. (And there it is-I have FINALLY figured out what has been bugging me. I am afraid that if I am not "better" soon, everyone is going to get tired of dealing with me and just leave).

Finally, I do not want to be alone anymore, but I am not ready to start a new relationship either. I can only offer friendship at this point. I have said several times that James and I just jumped right in and were a couple from our first date. Right now, I cannot do that. I need to start with friendship and have it blossom into more. I know myself well enough to know that I am going to have a hard time with dating someone new-with feeling like I am cheating on or betraying James even though I know that is what he would want for me. That I am going to fight like Hell against letting anyone get close. I need more time. To this end, I have decided to cancel my subscription to eHarmony and focus on my meetup groups, where there is no pressure. I am starting to see an increase in activities now that summer is winding down. Also, now that school is starting, my volunteer shifts at my favorite organization will be starting up again. I like to practice flirting with the guy that works there, and Lord knows I need the practice! (And as my co-worker pointed out, this could lead to me becoming a cougar now that he is single. Meow! Although it was much easier to flirt when he was "safe").

I joined the YMCA. Sadly, the Village People were not there to serenade me as I filled out the paperwork. (I should download "YMCA"). Today, after work I went to exercise for the first time. It wasn't too crowded and definitely not a meat market (3 HS/college age kids, 4 post-retirement age men, 1 married man, 2 seemingly single but possibly gay men-one of which sounded like he'd been sucking helium when he talked, one unknown status man, and 9 women). I stuck with the treadmill since I knew how to use that without looking like a complete idiot. I have decided to start slow and work my way up to taking classes. I am hoping this will help to boost my currently non-existent seretonin levels which will, of course, boost my overall mood. I know getting back to activities will help too and September is filling up fast. I feel like I have something to look forward to and it is a good, hopeful feeling. Now, I just have to figure out how to give myself permission to enjoy it. I really wish James would give me a sign (remember Honey, it needs to be a nice big one since I am pretty much the least observant person on the planet) showing he gives me his blessing. I think that is what I need more than anything-to know it is okay with him for me to move forward without him by my side.