I remember the three month point of all this widower shit and it being quite the emotional day. As I realized I was coming up on four months… well, I felt prepared. Of course, then a co-worker at the job tried to compare them needing to take a break after being gone for two and a half hours to the time when the crew covered for me as I was watching my wife die from cancer in palliative care and the two weeks I took off afterwards. They actually said, “You should remember when we all…”, I cut them off right there. If you don’t know me I can become very “animated” if something doesn’t jive with me… and that definitely didn’t jive with me. The fact that I had such a traumatic event in my life being used by an individual to try and justify THEIR actions, to move the actions of a collective group (covering for me)… of a team from an act of kindness and empathy to something that is required to be paid back is just wrong in my eyes… especially when there is no connection to the two events except for how we should treat each other in the grand scheme of things. Ya, I flipped my lid… and I don’t really apologize for it. I have also moved on from it… besides writing about it now I guess… because we all say stupid things and life has taught me that there are levels to what is really important… and what is not. Now all I have to do is figure out how to not let good people saying stupid or inconsiderate things get under my skin. The next time I say something stupid might be when I start that process… which could be later tonight. That all being said, I’m actually holding up ok with life on my own… kinda… I think.
Four months. I’m in the beginning stages of what they call “The Pits”. At least that’s what the piece of paper I got in the mail tells me. I feel like that stage started a couple of weeks ago, but I was also spending any free time working on the bathroom Kateri and I started remodeling last year. I just never wanted to stop and chat with people… or hang out at the beach… or visit friends at their places… or sleep… or eat. It was a lot for two weeks. Not just the hours at work and then at home… and then work… then home tiling and installing shower systems to an almost usable state, but also the emotions that came up while staring at a wall as the rows of subway tile creeped north three and a quarter inches at a time while Powerglide or some Willie Nelson song played out of the little JBL speaker I had gotten for Kateri during her first hospital stay in February. At points, I found myself just sitting in the tub, fully clothed (no water), and not knowing exactly how long I had been sitting there. I wanted to get excited to take a bath once the weather turns a bit cooler, but I couldn’t. I just thought about Kateri… and hoped that she would be happy with the work I had done so far… (and now I’m crying on my front porch). Although I say I’m ok, I’m good, I’m hanging in there… it’s been rough. Just like anything else where people say good job, I still really only care about what Kateri would think… and I’m trying to get past that thought a little because I know she isn’t here and that she will never be able to sit in the bathtub on a cold Vermont winter evening and rest her head against the subway tile as Etta James fills the air (She would still complain that the tub is too shallow to allow her boobs to really float).
One hundred twenty-two days in and I really haven’t done anything with the house… decorating, rearranging rooms, packing stuff away, etc. When Kateri first passed, I freaked out and was trying to figure out what I should do with everything… what was hers, what was mine, what do I leave out, what do I get rid of? Early on I realized that it’s all OUR stuff and this is still MY home that WE were lucky enough to get… and we filled it with all of our crap. I learned that I don’t need to do anything except take care of myself, and that kind of stuff will take care of itself in due time. Although it is hard when everything you look at is a memory of a life that is no more, it’s all still a part of life… of my life… and those are the things that keep Kateri present in my world. It’s hard… and emotional… but I’m very thankful to be surrounded by the life Kateri and I made with each other starting from the back country ranch in Wyoming when we were in our twenties all the way to our little red schoolhouse in the woods of Vermont… in our forties. Time keeps moving.
Some side notes about the last four months.
- I’ve been making my bed less, but the house is clean, my one carpet (from a shed in Nederland) is vacuumed, wood floors mopped with vinegar/water, dishes are done… most the time, shower is currently clean… I usually give it a scrub after I realize I’m grossing myself out as I’m trying to wash the day off of me.
- I try to stay on top of the lawn… ummm, mowing that is… not like “any day above ground is a good day!” type thing. Literally trying to keep it from looking like shag carpet. Luckily, I think I live on one giant ant hill so the grass doesn’t grow THAT quickly.
- I’m still not eating much… just enough, but the paper in the mail said loss of appetite is normal… so I figure I’m ok.
- Not paying attention to the news too much. I hit the headlines, read a little of this or that, but for the most part I get the gist that fires are raging (because it’s summer and other science type stuff), there’s some horrible people and events out there, there’s some people doing some amazing and positive things, the douche bag is still making our country worse… and the lost lemmings are following him, Cardi B had a baby, and I hear Denmark is one of the world’s happiest countries.
- I’ve still got four chickens… I mean… after starting this new life with five… but LIL’ BITCH IS STILL AROUND! She’s my favorite (shh, don’t tell the others).
- Kateri’s cell phone hasn’t been in service for 122 days. I kinda wanna drive it twelve minutes down the road and hear all the noises it’s gonna make.
- Although I haven’t been in touch with many people, I’ve got some pretty amazing friends in my life that I’m excited to catch up with.
- I don’t really like looking at older couples. Even though I have no idea what their story is… they could’ve just met… but the movie in my head has more of a Hallmark feel and it kinda depresses me. I’m flying to Boise this weekend to be with my parents as they celebrate 50 years and though I’m so happy for them (they’ve definitely put the work in!), I know I will never have that. The fact that I waited so long to ask for Kateri’s hand in marriage means it would’ve been quite the feat to make it to 50 anyways… we would be in our mid/late 80’s… but it’s kinda poopy to take those “growing old together” type thoughts off the table.
- All… ALL! of Kateri’s plants are still alive. Usually, it’s when I notice the dirt is so dry that it’s pulling away from the pot that I figure I should add some water.
- I’ve hung out on the green in Fairlee and listened to some live music with some pretty cool people. I’ve met more neighbors in the last four months than the last two and a half years. I still wave to everyone that drives past my house. I’ve even had multiple people stop… back up… and pull into my driveway to inquire about someone, something, or just because they thought introductions were in order.
- It’s still hard for me to put myself to bed. I average probably five… five and a half hours a school night…. and not because I’m doing anything important or exciting. It’s just hard for me to call it a day, but I’m going to now.
Widower Day 122… Yes, there have been many a tear in those 122 days, but there has also been good conversations, smiles, and laughter. Those are the things that help add a smidge of excitement when I look to the time that is ahead of me… to my future. (I’m pretty sure smiles help break down big piles of shit)