Tuesday, November 30, 2010


At the beginning of the month, people started posting what they were thankful for on Facebook.  The goal was to post something everyday for the entire month of November.  I decided instead of posting them to Facebook, I would just write them down and post them here instead.  As I went through a very rough stretch this month, I found some days to be a lot harder to count my blessings than others, and as the month went on, I did notice a theme forming.  As the month comes to an end, I'm so glad to be able to say I really am blessed.

11/01:  I am thankful to have a job in this economy, working for a company I love.
11/02:  I am thankful the dogs did not knock over anyone's garbage cans on our walk today!
11/03:  I am thankful Mother Nature is giving us unexpected, unseasonably warm weather.
11/04:  I am thankful my life is relatively drama free.
11/05:  I am thankful for laughter.  It truly is the best medicine.
11/06:  I am thankful for being blessed to have had 8 years, 1 month and 6 days with James.
11/07:  I am thankful for all the cool people who have come into my life since James died.
11/08:  I am thankful for all the people who consider me a friend and want me in their lives.
11/09:  I am thankful to have a roof over my head.
11/10:  I am thankful to have been invited to share a milestone birthday with a new friend.
11/11:  I am thankful I organize a successful volunteer project through my Meetup group. 
11/12:  I am thankful to work for a company in which random conversations are the norm.
11/13:  I am thankful for my dogs.
11/14:  I am thankful I have not lost my sense of humor.
11/15:  I am thankful for my "little" brother, who would probably rather not discuss my love life (well, lack of anyway) ad naseum.
11/16:  I am thankful for inheriting such a great cousin from James.
11/17:  I am thankful for technology that allows me to express myself.
11/18:  I am thankful for my Facebook friends who seem to post inspirational quotes at times I seem to need them the most. 
11/19:  I am thankful for the opportunity to do fun things that only come from living in a big city.
11/20:  I am thankful for the ability to turn the oddest thing into a good time-like shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters at Goodwill with a good friend.
11/21:  I am thankful for supportive friends who know when I am not okay even if I try to say I am and don't let me get away with it.
11/22:  I am thankful that when it snows here it typically doesn't amount to much-and goes away quickly. 
11/23:  I am thankful for a boss who trusts me to work from home when I don't feel it is safe for me to drive to the office.
11/24:  I am thankful for Christmas bonuses!
11/25:  I am thankful for three very special friends who wanted to make sure I didn't spend Thanksgiving alone.
11/26:  I am thankful I am relatively healthy.
11/27:  I am thankful for seat warmers in the car.
11/28:  I am thankful for the perseverance to figure out how to do/fix things on my own.
11/29:  I am thankful for music and the many things it represents in my life.
11/30:  I am thankful to the readers of my blog.  It has been such a healing outlet for me and I still can't believe anyone actually reads what I have to say.  I cannot thank you enough for helping me heal!! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fear of Blinking

When I posted about entering another phase of the grieving process and how hard it was for me to cancel my World of Warcraft account, I knew there was more to it that I had not yet processed or even figured out.  I knew that I was feeling a lot of sadness over realizing my life is moving forward and feeling like the last living piece of James is now gone.  I knew I was feeling anger at him for not only leaving me but leaving me in a position in which I feel no one else is ever going to want me.  But I still felt very unsettled and I couldn't grasp as to why that was.  I just knew I felt very alone and abandoned.

It dawned on me Wednesday at work (Of course.  Because I don't burst into tears there enough as it is) what was still gnawing at me:  I am afraid.  In the (almost) 34 months since James has been gone, I have carved out a new life for myself.  It's not yet what I want it to be-it's very much a work in progress as I am still trying to figure out who I am now and what I want from life other than the broad spectrum of being happy again.  But the life I have built is very full.  It's full of volunteering for an organization I love.  It's full of new social endeavors and experiences that I may not have ever done if James hadn't died.  Somehow, the shy little girl I have always been has turned into a social butterfly-though I still have many moments when I don't want to walk into that room full of strangers.  More and more lately I seem to be feeling this way, actually.  It is full of love from my family.  It is full of friends-old and new, who are there for good times and to pick up the pieces when I need it (ironically, I am listening to "That's What Friends Are For" right now).  I've got two beautiful dogs who love me to pieces.  It's lonely, I'm not going to lie about that, but it is full.  It's a place I never thought I would have gotten to almost three years ago.  While I can't say I'm overly happy, I can honestly say life is good.

And it scares the crap out of me.  Three years ago, life was good.  Better than good-life was great.  I was planning my dream wedding to the man I loved more than life itself.  The man who spent 7 years telling me he was never going to get married.  We were in a good place financially, socially and together.  I had it all.

And then I blinked.  And in the amount of time it took for me to blink, it was gone.  My entire world was gone.  But I put one exhausted foot in front of the other and I persevered (if nothing else, I am certainly stubborn!) and I rebuilt my life.  I got back to a good place.  And I'm afraid I'm going to blink again and find this has all been an illusion.  That it isn't real-or that it will be shattered again.  I don't yet know how to have faith in this new life.  I no longer know how to trust what lies ahead. 

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  I was supposed to go to our best friends' for dinner.  Dinner was at 5:00; I called at 2:45 to say I wasn't coming.  The week before had been so emotionally stressful for me that I made myself sick.  From Wednesday night to Friday morning, I slept for 26 out of 36 hours.  My friend felt bad that I was going to be alone on Thanksgiving.  I told her it was entirely different to be alone because I had nowhere to go than it was to be alone because I was sick.  I told her I had been invited to go on a hike that morning and another good friend called to make sure I had plans for dinner.  I told her I wasn't crying because I was going to be alone-I was crying because I was overwhelmed by being blessed with having too many places to go.

Friday afternoon, I felt better so I kept my plans of going to the annual Christmas tree lighting in Pioneer Square-yet another thing I had never done before (and apparently, an event someone was plotting to blow up).  It was an event with my fun Meetup group.  As we were singing carols, I looked around at people who were not in my life a year ago-one of whom I now consider a close friend and another who has also become a friend.  I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Same with last night when I was out with my two guy friends-one who is becoming a good friend and one who is a more casual friend, but a new friend nonetheless. 

Maybe this is real after all.  Maybe I don't need to be afraid to blink.  But I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


James was a huge gamer.  For the most part, this was fine as my hobbies are time consuming and we both got to do what we loved to do.  There were times over the years where I got a little upset by this, however, as I felt he paid more attention to whatever game he was into than he did to me.  We ultimately resolved this by having two nights a week we made sure we spent together:  Thursday and Sunday.  We spent other time together, of course, but these were the days we made sure to keep clear.

At the time of his death, World of Warcraft was his game of choice.  He had been introduced to it by his friend, who I jokingly referred to as Mistress Jay because if they were doing a huge raid (Saturdays were reserved for that), it was possible for him to talk to Jay more than me.  After James died, Jay asked if he could still play James' character.  I thought that was an awesome tribute-and a way to keep him alive-so naturally, I agreed.

I had my own character by this time.  James had tried to involve me in his games over the years, but I just wasn't that interested and I had my own hobbies to attend to.  He asked again one day and I said I wanted my character to be a cow-thinking that would get me off the hook.  About 30 minutes later, Vandalia, my taurin hunter was created.  (Her pet is named Joe.  This will probably only make sense to my good friend from college).  I also had a second character-an elf named Elfis because I thought (and still think) that was hilarious.  I always did crack myself up.  I miss that about myself.

When we set up my character, we set it up so my credit card was charged the semi-annual subscription fee.  When Jay started to play James' character, he offered to pay for it, but I said I was okay to pay it and transferred James' account to my card as well.  And I've really thought nothing of it since then.  The first year was hard-his subscription renewed on his birthday; mine on what would have been our wedding day.

I tried to play a couple of times after James died but it just wasn't the same and more tearful than fun.  So when I got my credit card bill this last time, I decided it was time to cancel my account.  I decided that I would see if Jay was still playing James' character and if he was ask if he wanted to take over James' account or just let it go.  And then something sort of clicked in the back of my mind so I looked back through my credit card statements and discovered that I haven't been billed for James' subscription for the last two years.

My first thought was that Jay took over paying it for me after all and I felt so bad it took me this long to discover it and never thanked him for it.  I tried to send him an e-mail apologizing for not saying anything sooner but it bounced back.  Ironically, it sat in the queue too long and therefore couldn't be delivered.  I looked back through my e-mails to see if I missed one from him saying he was going to pay the account and didn't find one.  I did find one asking if I had changed the password, however.  And it's dated around the time James' subscription would have renewed in December 2008.  So now I wonder if the people at Blizzard discovered he died and cancelled the account-his was in his name; mine was in my name.

I was a sobbing mess Tuesday night after this discovery.  I cancelled my account on Wednesday, which wasn't easy to do.  I feel so guilty that I didn't join James in playing sooner and that I didn't play more often.  He was so happy when I finally did try to get into it and I can't take back that I didn't make more of an effort sooner. 

At first, I was relieved to discover that either Jay took over the account or they cancelled it.  The truth is that if it was left in my hands, I may never had done it as that was keeping a part of him alive.  And then it hit me that the final piece of him that was still alive in my eyes is actually gone.  That part has died too and I feel like I have lost him all over again.  I feel like I am back to the early days in which every little thing makes me cry, and I feel so insecure.  I feel so unworthy.  I feel like I have run out of strength and I seriously don't know how in the Hell I am supposed to do this for the next 50 years.  I know I will because I have no choice-I just don't know where I put my backup supply of strength.

I have been a sobbing mess all week and most of the weekend.  It doesn't help that my friend jokingly called me a loser and as this isn't the first time he's done so, a part of me wonders if on some level he actually feels that way.  It makes me wish I hadn't let my guard down and befriended him but that thought makes me feel very alone.  But I also know that if I wasn't already feeling so defective and damaged-if I wasn't so mad at James for not only leaving me, but leaving me in such a way I feel no one else is going to want me, that comment wouldn't hurt as much as it did.  I wouldn't have wanted to reply in such a way that would have cut him to the core and cost me a friendship that has been a blessing over the last couple of months (luckily, I was driving when I got the text and couldn't respond right away!).  Even now, two days later, there is a part of me that just wants to not only push him out of my life but not let any more new people in either.

I keep posting about wanting to meet someone new-about not wanting to be alone for the rest of my life.  I'm starting to rethink that.  Yes, it's still true I don't want to be alone and I do feel much more alive when I have someone to share my life with, but I'm beginning to wonder if the risk of having to go through this much pain again is really worth falling in love again someday, or if I should just be thankful for having experienced a great love in my life and just let that be enough as I just bide my time through the rest of my life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Visions of...fishing jackets??

Last Thursday (aka Veteran's Day) was the 6th anniversary of my dad's passing.  So naturally, I have been missing him more than usual lately and would love to just be able to talk to him and have him tell me I'm on the right path, I'm going to be okay, I will be happy again and I'm not making bad decisions and completely screwing up my life.  I really don't think I am asking for too much.

Since Dad has died I have had several dreams of him-most notably, the one where he told me James was going to die.  Well, okay, he said James was leaving me and never coming back; he wasn't that specific as to how final it was going to be.  But in 6 years, I don't remember a dream with my dad that was nice.  Normally, he's pretty angry with me about something or siding with my evil ex-stepmother against me.  It would be nice to know why he's so mad at me. 

But even with all the negative dreams I still asked him for a sign I would be okay.  I asked over and over for a glimpse that there was someone out there for me-that I'm not going to be alone for the rest of my life.  And a glimpse is exactly what I got.

Last Sunday was the day we fell back for Daylight Savings Time and I am not adjusting to the time change.  My alarm goes off at 5:45 and I keep waking up at exactly 5:00, which is frustrating and results in a tired, cranky Heather.  Last Friday was the same.  I had gone to a volunteer project at the Food Bank, followed by dinner with my friends who volunteered with me.  I got to bed at 11:15 (instead of my usual 10:00) so waking up 45 minutes early was the last thing I needed.  But that is when my internal clock decided it was time to get up.  Which of course woke Charlie up and there's really no chance of going back to sleep if he's up and anxious for his breakfast.

Nonetheless, I was laying there trying to go back to sleep-willing myself to fall asleep, actually, when I saw "him."  I just knew he was the person I was supposed to meet.  He was wearing loose black pants-possibly sweats and a light (tannish) color jacket that reminded me of James' best friends' fishing vest, only it was a fill-length coat.  His hand was "plumpish" but I didn't get the impression he was overweight.  He's taller than I am and he's caucasian.  I was disappointed in that he was not who I wanted him to be and tried to change the vision, but it remained the same.  I found myself thinking "God, he's a dork."  (Good thing dorkiness is high on my list of criteria.  Although he was on the high side of the dork scale).  I don't know what his face looks like, what color hair he has (Oh Lord, do NOT let him be a redhead!!!).  I don't know where he was standing-it was dark all around him.  I guess I am only supposed to know it is him by what he is wearing. 

I really need to learn to be more specific in what I'm asking for. 

Another phase

Lately I have been hanging out with a new friend, as I have mentioned a couple of times, and he recently asked me how I got James out of my head.  I couldn't give him the answer in terms of the context of how he meant the question because I haven't gotten James out of my head.  He, along with my dad, have pretty much taken up residence in the back of my head.  I have moments now where they aren't always on the forefront, but they are definitely always lingering in the background.

But our conversation put me on the path of coming to a new realization that I have tried to explain to a couple of people but just can't seem to convey what I am trying to say correctly.  First, I need to start by saying I still love James.  That hasn't changed and I don't think it ever will.  He has a permanent lock on part of my heart.  The love I feel for him, however, seems to be changing from being in love with him to a love of gratitude for the role he played in my life and who I am today in large part because of his love and encouragement.

The part that is so hard to get right is this:  James and I were homebodies.  And I was okay with that.  Yes, I got restless a time or two, but I was happy with our life.  I was happy with him and it was enough.  But what I have come to realize is that if he walked through the door right now, that life would no longer be enough for me.  I have changed and grown and have had my eyes opened to so many things this city I live in has to offer that I never really cared to experience before-because I had everything I wanted and needed right in front of me.  I would love nothing more for James to still be alive, but I couldn't give up my new life and go back to the one we had and be happy as a homebody.  I couldn't walk away from my Meetup groups or my new friends.  I don't think he would ask me to since he'd want me to be happy but I don't know that he'd want to be as social as I have become.  Which is kind of ironic because he was the social butterfly and I was the wallflower.

On one hand, I know this is a good thing.  It means I am growing.  It means I am moving forward.  It means I am surviving and even though I still have days that knock me on my ass, it means I can do this.  I really can.  On the other hand, it is another thing to process-another part of my old life I am letting go of and that is never easy.  Especially when I can't get the words right to help me through that process.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Mid-October, my Male Perspective Canadian Friend (who I'm sure is getting a swelled head with all these shout outs) told me to just have fun with my friends and not focus on one person and when I meet CGFO (aka Cute Guy For October) he wanted to hear about him.  Well, it took me until the 11th hour but I did indeed meet CGFO.  I've been feeling pretty down about myself lately-feeling very much like a defect, or as someone on the widow/ers board put it, like a little green alien that is to be avoided at all costs.  So meeting CGFO came at a very good time. 

There is a musician in my fun Meetup group who had a gig last Friday night.  Another member of the group posted it as an event.  He's a nice guy, so I decided to go.  I sent a text to my good friends to see what they were up to and got a reply they were going to an 80's Nite Halloween party.  For the first time in years, I did not make any attempt to dress up this year for Halloween.  That was something I really only did the last few years for James and now that he is most definitely gone, I don't have to take one for the team and dress up and go to a party if I don't want to.  So I didn't.  I told my friend I didn't feel like dressing up.  She texted me back a little later they decided not to go dancing-they were going to go Saturday instead and were coming to the gig with me.  I replied there was a Meetup group that had an event at a comedy club and we should crash it after the gig.  She agreed that would be fun.  (I'm such a respectful Meetup organizer.  Technically, we just showed up at a public place where a Meetup group just happened to be.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it). 

When we got to the comedy club, the first show wasn't over yet so we had to stand outside.  We didn't make any attempt to mingle with the group though that did happen when I agreed I would go dancing Saturday but whined about having to come up with a costume (Whiny Heather:  "Can't I just wear what I have on now and bring my Super Soaker and say I am a disgruntled postal worker?"  Random Guy:  "We're beyond the point of disgruntled postal workers.  Just say you're a disgruntled American."  Guy who I think is the group organizer:  "Just get a t-shirt that says "This is my costume.""  Me:  "Ooh, I can do that.  Thanks!"  I really didn't feel like going dancing since I was ganged up on by three men who I'm 99% were Nigerian scammers the last time I was at this club so I ended up going to the corn maze instead).

We sat apart from the group (since we aren't in it) and were talking amongst ourselves when the guy in front of us turned around and asked how we were doing.  We said we were fine.  He asked if we had been with the group long and I said we weren't with the group, we just saw "this" was going on and decided it looked like fun.  He said he did the same thing, which I didn't get the full meaning of until I got home, Cyber stalked (at least I'm honest about it) and discovered he isn't in the group either.  About this time, the emcee mentioned that there were plenty of seats up front so he got up and moved.  My friends looked at me and asked if we were moving.  The guy had a bit of a dork vibe to him and a nice smile so I said "Oh yeah.  We're moving."  He and I chatted and laughed until the show started.  Of course, he's cute so we mostly talked about the weather in Arizona (see earlier post about not being able to talk to cute boys).  However, I did manage to mention what Meetup groups I do belong to and we do have one in common.  So I definitely let him know how to find me.  (Or avoid me come to think of it).

When the show was over, he reached across me and shook hands with my friends and said it was nice to meet them.  I was still seated and when I stood up, I offered my hand to shake and said it was really nice to meet him.  His smile got bigger and he said it was really nice to meet me too.  He briefly held my hand after shaking it (that alone was worth the admission price of the show).

I know there is a chance I will never see this guy again and this was just a chance encounter designed to make me feel better about myself.  And it did.  (Note to Universe:  I am okay with running into him again, just in case you are wondering or bored and want to make that happen).  Once upon a time, a guy saw me at the front desk at work and said "Who's that?"  Not long after that, I fell in love with him.  And what I want now is another guy to look at me and say "Who's that?"  (I really don't think I ask for much).  I don't know why this was different from the other guys I have met since James died, but CGFO made me feel like that was actually a possibility.  But more importantly, for that brief time, I didn't feel like a little green alien that makes leprosy seem like a desirable trait.  I felt like I was any other normal single girl.  And I really needed that more than anything.