April 1st, 2022… Mary Ann Damato… a beautifully loving woman with moments of Double Pump Flip Offs… Kateri’s Mom (Mom to 7 others… Grandmother or Abuela to 8ish more)… my Mother-in-Law… passed away on Friday morning. Stoopid cancer.
Mary Ann was a wonderful person in my life. I loved watching… and experiencing… Kateri’s relationship with her mom over the years. I loved getting to know Mary Ann… and her getting to know me. I love that we became family through the moments and time we spent together. I love that she considered me a son long before Kateri became my wife. When it comes right down to it… Mary Ann was part of “The Good” in the world. From here in the Northeast and across this country, to the villages of South and Central America, to the streets of Mexico where she would teach art to the kids on the sidewalk… she has friends and family from all walks of life who will feel the loss of this loving and compassionate woman. Take care, Missy… I love you… tons.
It took me a second to process what he said, but then my brain figured out that the meth addict looking Idaho asshole driving his shitbox ’92 maroon Toyota Corolla was leaning out his window yelling, “GO HOME!” as he passed me going the opposite direction when I pulled onto my parent’s street. It caught me by surprise as I was simply driving home after grabbing a mocha for me and a latte for my mom… which I know she won’t drink. It pissed me off. It upset me to the point where I flipped a bitch with the intention of catching up to the self-absorbed and small minded dickhead at the traffic light to inquire about his thoughts on hometowns, state pride, and what the words “One Nation” in our country’s Pledge of Allegiance means to him. Well, that and if he knew I was raised here in the city of Boise which fostered a deep love for the mountains, wildlife, and wilderness in me from the vast amount of time I’ve spent in them… and that I’m only here visiting because my mom is currently laying in a hospital bed in her bedroom dying from cancer. Fuck you… you fucking fuck… who can’t even grow a proper beard…!
Luckily, he wasn’t at the light when I got to it, which meant I didn’t have to figure out what it was I was actually gonna do when I got there! To be clear… I wasn’t looking for a fight… I’m not a fighter… I’m like three feet tall! I mean, I have no problem with scrappin’ if circumstances lead to it and it’s justified, but I generally don’t like the feeling of getting punched in the face and I don’t believe there are really that many circumstances that justify escalating to the point of violence. I may have been 100% comfortable with the possibility of confrontation at the time, but I’m glad it didn’t happen. No… instead I used this individual’s last three brain cell’s reaction to the color of my license plate (on my cute little Jeep) as an exercise in prioritizing what is important in my life, what is the immediate need, and who are the people… and types of people… I wanna surround myself with as I keep marching on day after day.
Yup, this douchebag might’ve put me in a foul mood and made me lose a tiny bit of faith in humanity (and reinforced why I live in the woods of Vermont!), but he’s just one person… whom I will most likely never see again… and I’m ok with that.
With that being said… below was gonna be my post yesterday morning. It was kinda nice for me to see that I could come up with a whole bunch of people who I care about a million times more than the inbred who screamed out his window at a license plate.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Dear Mom, Kateri, Dad, Dina, Tommy, Josh, Jacob, Addison Rose, Sadie, Amanda, Matty, Les, Keith & Michelle, Maria, Pookie, Pocker, Cassie, Trilla, Moose, Jeanette, Amelia, Cisco, Chichi, Mary Ann, Todd, Tony, Scotty (The Hottie), MPH, Jake, Kristen, Sarah, Eric, Teri, Diane, Jay, Jason, Greg, Luna, Amanda, Casey, Raph, Mike, Michael, Justin, Juice (sorry I haven’t called!), Lea Jae, Becky, Cindy, Cristina, Jeff, Jeff, Jessica, Kate, Phil, Phillip, Philip, Mark, Sue, Other Mark, Other Sue, Sandra, Bill, Shannon, Tamzen, Hannah, Gen & Jake, Luke & Brady, Michelle, Tim, Carrie, Jeremy, John, Nick, John… and another John with an “H”, Ruslan, Margot (I’m so happy for you guys!), Will, Will (More Black Sabbath…!), Sarah, Jeanie, Keri, Mike, Franny, Gardner, Abby, Michelle, Cindy, Rosie (you can take the rest of the day off!), Davin, Lil’ Eric, Corey, Orrin, Ann, Cindy, Frank, Jaime, Jamie, Tara, Tara (pronounced Tara), Lucy (Little Lion Dog), Bridget, Maggie, Lauren, Nancy… and Nancy, Paul, Rob, Wilson, Tracy, Paulie, Charles, Kate, Will, Holly, Jenny, Wendy, Brad, Maura, Luanne, Carol, Dennis, Tom, Mike, Bob, Jim, John, Susan, Lucas, Greg, Didi, Sean, Angela, Angela & Sean (even though I haven’t met Sean!), Lisa, Uncle Ron (you’re an impressively strong man… fuck cancer), Kris, Rhonda, Sarah, Ian, Martha, Matt, Chad, Julie, Laurie, Laura, Chris, Gil, Leslie, Luke, MaryJane, Vickie (not Michelle’s alter-ego), Frank & Marnie (congrats on the new place!), Dan, Marc, Nadia, Andy, Brian, Nate, aaaaaaand Xander (even though you’re a dog and won’t be reading this),
ps… And to those who aren’t listed… I thank and send ya some love, too.
I’m actually gonna get back to writing in the next couple of days, but as of late I just haven’t found the time. I’m currently in Idaho after driving cross country to visit my mom because on January 19th she/we got the news that the Docs are out of options for treating her cancer. Don’t worry, another… longer… video that I made at the rest area right before Boise will be coming of me babbling about why I just drove 2697.1 miles… and of the shift my thoughts took after being in the “Cute Little Jeep” for two and a half days with nothing but my thoughts. (That’s a lie… I had music, a sleeping bag, instant coffee, phone calls and Facetime with friends and family, my guitar, my camp stove… and Squishy.) For today though, I thought I would start with when I was doing laundry as I was getting ready for the road trip. Who knows, maybe someone will find my “Housekeeping Tips for Widowers” helpful…?! (Martha would probably be appalled by my directions and fitted sheet folding abilities, but Snoop would probably be in the same frame of mind as I was in and realize… it’s just a fitted sheet.)
I just posted a blog about Xander… my friend’s dog who Amanda and I recently adopted after she died… and I just kinda didn’t like the post. Maybe it’s because I started it weeks ago and tried to finish it when I was in a different state of mind or different place in life, or it might be that I feel it doesn’t capture the impact Xander has had on me and my life…? So I thought I would briefly expand on this experience… up to this point in time.
Xander just lost “His Person”. His life just got thrown for a loop. I know a little something about that. Because of my Widowhood experience, I feel I have a responsibility to Xander to make this shift in his life as easy on him as possible. For example, Kateri and I were always those “No animals on couches or beds” type people, but that was a different time in my life. As I see it, for seven years Xander has had his couch. It’s where he spent a lot of his time. It was comfortable for him. I can’t… in good conscience… force him to the floor by “training” him not to get on the couch by speaking to him sternly or reprimanding him. Again, he just lost His Person… I can handle sharing the couch with him… and his hair.
I bought this couch a couple of weeks after we found out Kateri was sick. I figured, if she was gonna be spending more time on our couch… it should probably be on one that she actually found comfortable and not the lumpy “Hand me Down” she mother fucked more often than not… even though the “Hand me Down” was a huge upgrade over the prior couch!
I’m keeping the bed to myself, though. We’ve all gotta compromise sometimes.
In some ways, he’s the perfect dog for me. I mean, it’s kinda like we’re two widowers sharing The Schoolhouse as we get accustomed to the lives we weren’t planning on living when we lost the ones we love. I’m glad I could be there for him. I’m glad I had the chance to tell Judy I would give him the best life I possibly could… and I intend to fulfill that obligation and responsibility.
Just as I would much rather be sitting and talking with Kateri than remembering her and our life together, I would much rather be visiting with Judy and Xander than seeing him jump around and do that funny, excited, under his breath bark thing he does when I get home from work, but there are some things in life that just… happen. I am thankful to Judy for entrusting Amanda and I to give Xander a good life. And simply… I am thankful to Xander for coming into mine.
It’s nice having new life in The Little Red Schoolhouse.
First off, I’m just gonna say that I’m not really worried about my new roommate shitting on the floor. I mean, I’m pretty sure he just won’t, but if he does..?… I guess it would be my own damn fault… because he’s a dog… whom I never want to put in the position of needing to make a decision such as, “Should I just shit on the floor?!”. He’s a very well behaved four legged animal whose actually been staying with me for the last seven and a half weeks. The first half of his stay was more of a temporary thing with us spending the second half really gettin’ to know each other to see if a more permanent stay was the best decision for everyone involved. The quick is, a few Mondays ago, after he had been up here a week or so, my girlfriend Amanda and I were asked by our friend to adopt her dog Xander when she dies… because her love for Amanda is simply immense, she thought the world of her, and knew that Amanda would love him and take care of him. Basically, we said yes and thought Xander could/would stay up here with me… since I live in the woods and he would have space to run around… because he’s a dog. Yesterday morning, in her sleep, our friend Judy peacefully passed away. At that moment, the moment in which death drew that definitive line in our life, The Little Red Schoolhouse became Xander’s… home.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It’s actually been a few weeks since Judy passed… I’m just now getting back to this post. Life gets busy once in a while… and simply doesn’t stop for us.
I now have a dog hook. It was just a hook in my “Laundry Room”… but now it has dog stuff on it.
As of last night, at around 7:03… the Honeymoon with Xander was over after he booked it through the woods… up the hill… in the dark. Which meant that I was running up a hill… through the woods… in the dark. Fortunately, I had a flashlight… and four little LED tealights I crammed into my pocket as I ungracefully pulled myself over the rock wall to chase after him. This was the first time I was like, “We’re just gonna walk to the wood pile, it’s dark, the small woodland creatures are sleeping, he’s good at staying close…. I’m not gonna use the leash or put the reflective coat thing on him…!”… and then he bolted.
When he took off at a sprint, my plan was to run up the hill to the path, stop, and listen for him rustling in the leaves. He ended up being just on the other side of the path… the same path in which we walked down (instead of B-Lining it through the woods!) to get back to the house… me bent over holding his collar (good thing I’m short!). After a little sit and chat by Kateri’s Potting Shed… and then a bit of the cold shoulder… we made up. I figured, he’s just a dog being a dog and I’m just learning how to live with a dog… learning to live with Xander.
I have an odd “feeling of guilt” type thing going on. Xander has already added so much to my life and I’ve been having a blast with him… but it’s only because our friend died. It’s a weird thing to balance. Well, maybe it’s not about balancing anything. Maybe it’s more about recognizing the connection between two separate experiences and taking each experience for what they are…? I guess it’s kind of about living in the present… and remembering the past.
We got Xander a dog bed for the bedroom. I already gave up the couch… I wanna keep my bed…!
I love that I can see him all curled up in blankets and sleeping in it from my bed. Every night when I call it a day, there’s a few minute delay before I can here him stretch as he is getting off the couch and then the clickity-clack of his toe nails on the wood floors and stairs as he saunters up to his bed. He’ll come into the bedroom, get a pet on the head, a scratch behind the ears, and then be there until the morning.
I’m having a hard time considering Xander “My/Our” dog. He’s still Judy’s dog… Amanda and I are simply looking after him and promised to give him a good life… as he stays at my house… and sleeps on the couch… or two inches from the woodstove.
For me, the day Kateri died our Little Red Schoolhouse became… silent. Not to mention that once the bastard raccoons massacred Lil’ Bitch, Chicken, and Chicken… I became the only animal in my household for the first time in twenty years!…(besides Mutual of Vermont Wild Kingdom happening in my walls and ceilings)… and I got very comfortable with a life of not being around and/or being responsible for another living thing…! (ummm… FYI… I actually think raccoons are pretty darn cute… except those specific ones… they’re bastards). So I’ve been having to think about stuff like, “Am I ready to share my space, to share The Schoolhouse, to share my home…?” and “Do I want to be responsible for another living thing until it… or I… die!”. Oh yeah, don’t worry, I’ve also thought about the fact that if I’m already this attached to the guy… am I willing to endure the pain that will come if I outlive him?… he’s 7.
(The answer to that is yes… because unconditional love and adventures are parts of life that kinda make it worth living.)
I’m totally kicking my neighbor’s ass at this whole wood pile decorating challenge!… that they’re not aware they are a part of. (Yes, I started this post before Halloween…!)
Being a cook in the time of a Global Pandemic doesn’t really afford me the opportunity to take much time off of work. Heck, in June I took two days off to go see my mom… and still got overtime! Luckily, I work with some amazing people who picked up my slack so that I could celebrate my Wedding Anniversary the way I wanted to… by taking four days off (six in total!)… and going through mine and Kateri’s shit! The one thing I absolutely knew that I wanted to do was to go through all the bins of Kateri’s clothes on the day of our Anniversary… September 28th. I know… such the romantic!
It was a productive time off. I had a plan. There was an order in which I was gonna do things to hopefully get to a place of feeling accomplished in reaching my goal of sorta getting my house and garage to a starting point… a point where I could feel a little more rooted in “My Life” while still holding onto the things that I loved about Kateri and “Our Life”… which I guess is still “My Life”… ugh… you know what I’m talkin’ about. I simply came to a place in time where my life felt cluttered with these two different chapters of existence and I’m simply learning how to combine the two in a way that is… healthy… for me. Today is day six of my time off and once I’m done with this little blog thing… it’ll be Mission Accomplished!… for at least another month or two.
Saturday was all about the garage and going to the dump. I had originally thought about getting a dumpster, but after realizing I didn’t actually have that much stuff to throw away… and finding out it would’ve cost me $650!… I decided against it. Since the town dump (not my town’s dump… shhh) is only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, it provided me with a little guidance in the order to do things. So I woke up, walked around with coffee looking at things in bathrooms, mudrooms (I’ve only got one), kitchens (still only one of those, too), the garage, and potting shed to assess the situation. I’m sure there was a bit of procrastination there, as well, but I finally just started pulling things down and out and began creating piles. Two runs to the dump later and my home and garage no longer had old humidifiers and air purifiers hanging out, or broken DVD players, little TVs we had in lofts 17 years ago, fans, toaster ovens, huge metal lazy Susan discs from cabinets we tore down 6 years ago, lotion bottles, bottles with stuff in them for hair… or the adult diapers from when Kateri was sick. It was a purge… and it felt great!
Sunday and Monday was time for going through boxes that were hidden in closets and to go through our art. Kateri and I loved picking up little pieces from our travels to remember them by. We loved it even more when they were given to us by friends and family and I just wanted to have them out to remember the people… the stories… and the memories. So after rummaging through a few boxes, going out and buying frames… and then figuring out how to fit paintings and pics in frames!… I hung our art on Monday night. On a side note, Amanda (my Lady Friend…!) went with me on Monday to donate a few things and to get the frames, but wasn’t there to help with the hanging of art that night. Although it would’ve been helpful to have someone else there, she is an amazingly wonderful and supportive person who understood that I kinda wanted to wake up alone on Tuesday… my anniversary… so she went home after dinner… and I kept sending her pics of how I hung shit.
Tuesday, September 28… it would’ve been our 10th Wedding Anniversary… 20th year together… 23rd year with Kateri in my life… 3 years 5 months without her by my side… and I woke up crying. I haven’t been very emotional about my widowhood as of late… we widowers kinda learn to live with the loss… but the emotions had been building up as Tuesday approached and they simply needed out. It felt good to release a little. I mean, the crushing sense of loss and the thought of Kateri being dealt the cancer card… with mutations… didn’t feel good, but it felt nice to have the time and space to let them flow out of me. In a strange way, it felt good to feel that pain once again. It reminds me of how wonderful of a person she was. It reminds me of how much I love her. (Now I’m crying again… that wasn’t part of the plan!)
I didn’t know what I would feel, how I would react once I started opening all of those green bins (I thought Kateri would enjoy the bins being a bright green!), especially after the first hour and a half of my morning, but I needed… and wanted… to get the ball rolling. So, I went into the spare bedroom, stood there for a few moments, pulled a bin down… and opened it. The process was actually a lot less emotional than I expected. I think it’s because I was a bit more mission/task driven and I was ready… READY… to do it. I was tired of living in this state of, “I’ll get to it… one day.”. Well, today was the day! (two days ago). As I got further into it, I just kept looking at shirts, t-shirts (which I kept all of them), sweaters, pants, comfy clothes, swimsuits, the blouses still in bags from when Kateri practiced a little “Retail Therapy”, scarves, hats, and thin hoodies (I kept all of the hoodie hoodies) thinking to myself, “They’re just clothes.”. But I also realized that they’re not “just clothes”… they are how I picture Kateri. I mean, we don’t just remember our significant others naked all the time! We remember them wearing this t-shirt or that dress or those overalls. Our clothes are an extension of our personality. They tell stories of our life… which I think is why I kept all of her t-shirts with shit on them advertising friends’ businesses, trips to NY, or to the Shakespeare Festival in Boise where we ran into one of Kateri’s childhood friend… from Vermont!
It was a process… and took longer than I expected, but it felt good once it was all said and done. It was fun looking at the little pile of things I placed on her grandma’s dresser of things I found in pockets. She would carry a little blue flashlight around that was smaller than a book of matches she had gotten in Wyoming… I think… which had come in useful when looking for particular keys that fit particular doorknobs… in the dark. There were only two articles of clothing that sorta hit me. One was a pajama top that has been in my entire life with Kateri. And the other one was a short sleeved V-neck shirt with no real particular story behind it. I just thought about how nice she looked in it. It was soooo her… and it simply made me miss her.
Love Strings…. ya. I guess that was one other moment where I had to pause… when I noticed a strand of Kateri’s hair… which she called her Love Strings. Damn Love Strings! They get you every time!
When all said and done, on Wednesday I had one more trip to Listen with eight bags of clothes to donate and one more trip to the dump with two bags of ratty and worn clothing… along with two bags of concrete mix that had turned into 160 pounds of… concrete. Wednesday evening I finished tidying the garage, brought up art that is gonna hang in the spare bedroom, and… well… cleaned the house. I was exhausted. It was five days of being fully immersed in my personal life. Past, Present, and Future. It was definitely daunting at first, but being on the other side of it feels pretty darn good. It was a task, a process, an experience that has been taking up mental… and physical… space for years now. This was the time… these six days were the time… to remember Kateri, to remember my wedding and my wife, and to take new steps towards the rest of my life.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
So… I wasn’t alone during this whole experience… I had/have company. A friend of Amanda’s and mine went into the hospital on Thursday and we were asked if we could watch her dog, Xander. Since I had six days off, live in the country, wasn’t going anywhere, and Amanda had to work… I offered for Xander to come and hang with me at The Schoolhouse. Now… having a dog around was nowhere near my radar as I thought about my Wedding Anniversary Staycation, but I gotta say… it’s been wonderful going through this with him. It helps that I’m pretty sure Xander is the most well behaved and chill canine out there, because it would be a different story if he was a ball of energy and/or destroyed my shit. The one thing that sorta sealed the deal for me was on Tuesday, when I woke up crying, he was basically by my side for about an hour and a half. For one reason or another… he was there for me. And I’m pretty sure that after he goes home his Love Strings will be there for me for quite a while, too!… all over my couch.
One thing always leads to another. Years and years ago, my parents were going through their stuff and were looking to get rid of the piano that they had been carting around… for at least all of my life… and wondered if I was interested in having it. I had told them that I would love to have the piano that I remember taking Yamaha Piano Lessons on when I was just knee high to a grasshopper (I’m not much taller now!), so my mom said that whenever Kateri and I buy our first home they would drive it out to us… and they did… five years ago… with my sister and her family (which I guess is also my family!). It was a wonderful visit filled with sitting on the porch, swimming holes, BBQ’s, fire pit building, going to the beach, eating seafood… and then one of those family members puking up that seafood into a brand new hat while sitting in the back seat of our Volvo on the drive home… it was a pretty special time. But that’s not the point. The point is… my family lugged this piano (that none of us know how to play) from Idaho to Vermont, unloaded it into the garage, and then there it sat… for five years… getting more and more swollen as the layer of sawdust (from cutting two inches of wood off of each log I burnt for two years after I got my new wood stove) got thicker and thicker. From the day Kateri and I acquired the piano we talked about how to get it into the house!… and we never did.
In the three years since Kateri died, I kept telling myself that I need to get the piano into the house, but it seemed like such a big endeavor for one person and there have just been a million other things I’ve been needing to deal with, learning to deal with, and simply… dealing with… so it hasn’t happened. That was until a couple of weeks ago when my brother in-law informed me that they were moving from one corner of Vermont to the other and asked if I was still interested in the stove (and a couple of other things) that my Father In-law had given to Kateri and myself. Like the piano, we didn’t have a home to store it at… or to install it in! So Moose said he could hold onto it for us in his garage!… where it sat for years and years!… until last Sunday.
Although I was super excited to be in possession of the stove for the first time… (it’s pretty frickin’ awesome)… I realized I didn’t have anywhere to really store it in the garage… unless I moved the piano! You know, swap one big ass heavy object that’s been sitting stationary for years… for another! As I was hemming and hawing on what to do about the situation, my Lady Friend suggested that we… WE!… simply move the piano into the house! Yup, so after buying a furniture dolly from The Home Depot we removed a door, built some ramps, disconnected and moved a washer so that we could shimmy the dryer… and the two of us got the piano into the dining room!… which coincidently made the dining room a whole bunch smaller. (funny how that works!) It was an awesome feeling!… and one of those times where you’re standing there with a piano in the middle of your dining room thinking to yourself, “Well, that went much smoother than I expected!”.
I can’t tell you the sense of accomplishment it provided me… and us. I have some pretty strong attachments and memories of Kateri with that piano. I learned the one song I sorta know how to play on that piano. The song that I got to play for Kateri at the hospital when we went for her first immunotherapy treatment. It felt good to finally get it into the house so that it could start it’s own healing process after being neglected for years as it weathered the summer heat and humidity, the winter’s brutal cold, and the continual mist of… sawdust. For now… it’s resting. It’s slowly acclimating to it’s new environment. I’ve given it a once over, did an initial cleaning, but there’s still some sawdust in the cracks and crannies that I’ll get to in time. For now… I’ll just keep hitting a key or two every time I walk past it (because you can’t help yourself!) to see if they are still sticky or not… and wait for the time I can play the one song I learned… again.
Once the piano was in the house, the next step was getting the stove! I rented a U-Haul because Kateri’s truck is no longer running and kinda just rotting away in my driveway. I figured I could use the U-Haul to move the stove, along with a chest and sink that was at Moose’s, and then use it to move my firewood from across the driveway to the garage! Unfortunately it was getting late and raining like the dickens when I finally got back to The Schoolhouse, so this year’s wood is still sitting where next year’s wood is supposed go, but I’ve decided not to worry too much about that… yet. For the time being, I’m just gonna enjoy the fact that whenever I get the money and time to sorta remodel the kitchen… I’ve got a 1940’s (?) stove to make meals on and to remember all those Hopes n Dreams Kateri and I had… when we bought our first home. (Man… she was soooo excited about that stove! We… were so excited about our future.)
Widower Notes n Thought:
I love listening to the sound water creates in the woods as it makes it’s way from the tops of the trees to the bottom, jumping from leaf to leaf, after a night of rain.
Yup… I found a perfectly preserved mouse skeleton when I was cleaning the stove. It was kinda cool and gross at the same time. And yes… I threw away the moving blanket it had been wrapped in (the stove… not the mouse skeleton) for the last however many years.
Moose also gave/lent me their riding lawnmower since they didn’t have a place to use it yet. In my day to day life… this is huge. Trying to take care of everything after going from a two person household to one has been quite challenging. Cutting down the time it takes to simply mow my yard every week or two is super helpful!
For the record, Todd (who’s like 6’5″ and could probably do it himself!) offered to help move the piano a few years ago… but it wasn’t the right time.
I’m sorry I haven’t been very participatory with my blog, but I appreciate everyone who still visits and checks in. Please know that you help make my life… better.
Well, I’m laying in bed on a Sunday morning… drinking coffee… smoking a little somethin’ somethin’… and trying not to be annoyed that it just took a half hour for my computer to connect to the internet… errrr!! I’ve been pretty excited about getting to today. It’s my first day off since Easter and my first “weekend” since the end of March. Luckily, I enjoy working and I enjoy my job, but I also really enjoy my time off…!
Currently, I’m in the midst of memories of the shittiest time in my life. Last Sunday, April 11th, was the anniversary of Kateri going into Palliative care. It’s weird, things seem to be coming back… memories… that sorta kinda just pop into the brain. Things that are rough to remember. For example, like when I just typed “April 11th”, the memory of talking to Kateri’s Cancer Doc in a hallway of the main hospital as he told me the option(s) going forward popped up… which was the option of drilling a hole in the side of her skull to relieve some of the pressure that the tumors were putting on her brain. For a seven days now I’ve known I’ve been in the anniversary of the last two weeks of Kateri’s life, yet today was the first time that that memory came back… and it’s just kinda hard to deal with. It’s really fucking hard to deal with, actually. It’s a challenge, which was actually the topic that started my thought process for this blog post… dealing with everyday challenges as a widower… but since I started thinking about that over a week ago… challenges… it has snowballed in my brain to the point where I simply have a mish mash of heavy thoughts (because one thing always leads to another!) swirling around and I can’t seem to grab any specific one to focus on. Yay!!
Last Wednesday is when I first started to feel some relief from my workload and as I was standing on my porch that evening, I thought about how my life as a cook has instilled this attitude of doing whatever it is I need to do to get the job done… to get through service… to get through the day. The last four months have not been easy for me at my gig… there have been all sorts of challenges… but I fell back on my work ethic and my new approach and attitude towards everything in life since Kateri died to get through… to keep going… to get to today… with the hope of getting to tomorrow mostly unscathed. When Wednesday hit… I felt good… I felt proud of facing that immediate challenge of needing to focus on work shit until I had a moment to focus on myself. Although I had to pay more attention to this and less attention to that, I was able to get to a point where I could lay in bed… drink coffee… smoke a doobie… and take some time to face the emotional and psychological shit storm that comes along in my life that starts the end of December, picks up in intensity on April 11th, and then hits the crescendo on April 22nd… the day I heard Kateri’s last breath. On the work side of things… I’m glad I got to this point. On the life side of things… this point kinda sucks… but I’m glad I’m here and going through it.
Last Thursday I woke up ballin’. No, I wasn’t having dreams of dunking on Lebron as we battled on the court in a game of One on One… I literally woke up sobbing. I had dreamt that I had cancer in my brain. The last image I can remember was me in my back yard checking to see if my sump pump had spewed any water out from the bulk head. There were people around, but I don’t recall anyone specific… except for my father… for some reason. I was crying in my dream because I felt alone… because in my dream, Kateri had already died. I felt lost without her there… and the loss of her in my life was unbearable as I was faced with the uncertainty of some not so fun information. It was intense… hence the waking up with a wet pillow and puffy eyes. It was one of those odd feeling moments when you recognize you are coming out of sleep and start to separate dream from reality. After I wiped and rubbed my early morning eyeballs, I was able to temper my emotions… put my big boy pants on… grab a cup of Joe… and head to work. Even on the way out to my cute little Jeep I could feel myself getting emotional and not wanting to face the day, but I did anyways… because that’s just what I had to do.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
The other day I wrote down the note, “It took me a lot of living to get… here.” As I’ve thought about it more and more… I don’t really know where “here” is. I guess that’s what it feels like when you’re feeling… “lost”.
“Lost” is one thing. Coupled once in a while with feeling “insignificant” in the world… kinda sucks.
Almost three years out… I still sleep on “my” side of the bed.
Sometimes when laying in bed I wedge my Achilles tendon between my big toe… and the toe next to it. It just feels good.
I have found “Widowhood” to be an extremely hard life to live… but it’s my only option. I have an even harder time with the fact that life told Kateri she didn’t have an option… and it took her away from me… from us. The world would simply be a better place… if she was here… next to me… laying on her side of the bed.
A friend of mine lost someone very close to them in the last couple of days and on the drive into work yesterday morning I found it ironic that I (the long winded widower) wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to say to them… I didn’t have the words!… and I told her that. She texted me that she truly thought she was prepared for what was happening. My response was:
“I don’t think we are ever truly prepared for the loss of someone… who truly loves us.”
I mentioned to her to remember to take care of herself, too!… which I think is actually the more important message for people living through loss.
Random Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Yes… I spent waaaay too much time deciding whether to use “who” or “whom”… and I still don’t know which one is correct!
St. Patrick’s Day, the holiday, really doesn’t mean anything to me. I mean, I’m not Irish… I don’t drink… and I don’t care if I know the “true” story behind the dude! For me… it’s all about Kateri… because it’s her birthday! AND… since she was Irish/Italian, she loved that she was born on St. Patty’s Day! So for her birthday this year, I decided to move her from the box the crematorium housed her in, to her new home… the Klean Kanteen bottle. And then, I moved her from the jelly cupboard to the front room so that she could be with her plants.
My plan was to take the day off from work, to be home, and just kinda remember some of the fun times we had celebrating Kateri’s Birthdays… like going to the ocean in March while wearing little green hats for the three hour drive… just to be festive. I remember one birthday morning when we went to George’s Coffee Shop in Gloucester and I got to listen to her and the line cook persuading Dean (the owner) to put The Pogues on the radio… which he did. Sometimes, it was all about the Baily’s… being drunk from the little plastic green beer mugs… one ounce at a time.
Most of the time for her birthdays it was just the two of us. I don’t really ever recall her talking about having a “Party” until her last birthday in 2018. Ya… that was rough. I can look back on it now with a certain amount of fondness as I remember how much love was in our Little Red Schoolhouse for her on that day… and how much love she had for our friends and family who were there (and those who were not)… and for life (even in those times)… but that only goes so far. I mean, it was her last birthday… I haven’t exactly gotten over that… hence the snot and tears coating my mustache and face right now! But this is about today… and how I celebrated Kateri’s Birthday… with her… by myself.
Widower Notes n Thoughts… about moving Kateri to the Klean Kanteen on her birthday:
I moved her into the Klean Kanteen myself. The funeral home said they have a machine made specifically for this type of thing, but I wanted to do it at the Schoolhouse. I figured that even if some of her fell onto the floor and between the floor boards, it just meant that part of her will always be home. I know she would’ve dug that.
I made the move on the wood stove… using a ceramic cup with shamrocks on it… and a funnel.
It was close… for a moment I didn’t think she was gonna fit and I started thinking about what other vessels I could put her in! Ball jars were gonna be solution… but thankfully, it didn’t come to that.
Right after the move into the bottle… I went and had an outdoor fire. I think after the day of work, after receiving texts of love and support from friends and family, and then moving Kateri into the Klean Kanteen in the evening… I just needed to get into the woods, out of service, and to take a moment to breath while staring at some flames dancing for a bit… as I wondered if bears had started coming out yet.
I put Kateri on the old red school desk that her brother had given her when we first bought our Little Red Schoolhouse… he gave me a table saw.
I’m still amazed at how heavy she is. (not trying to be rude)
While making the move… I realized it was the first time in two years, ten months, and whatever days that I actually touched Kateri… physically. Although they are her cremated remains… it’s Kateri… and I literally felt her. It was a powerful moment that I hadn’t thought about until it was happening… and it caught me by surprise.
I’m thankful to everyone who reached out to me… on Kateri’s Birthday. The love was simply overwhelming. I’ve got some great peeps in my life!
Happy Birthday Babe!… wish we were celebrating the day… together.
This “Memory” popped up on Facebook yesterday. After hearing news of my friend passing away (which brought up all sorts of shit!), and then picking up the Klean Kanteen for Kateri… when this little gem popped up (because FB remembers everything!) I just thought to myself, “Well, the emotional hits just keep on coming!”. Luckily, I’m in a pretty decent space in life, and although it’s been a pretty exhausting week… and crying takes up time… this “memory” actually provided me with more warmth and fondness than sadness and despair. And I gotta tell ya… it feels good to be able to remember the fun times when I see funny videos of our life… because they were fun. (I remember balancing my phone on the porch railing, hitting play, and scurrying up the snow pile at the top of the driveway so that I could push start the utility sled that Kateri was already sitting in. The Director’s Cut has an extended version of the video where you can watch Kateri and I walk back up the driveway… under the cover of darkness… dragging a utility sled.)
Below is what I posted on my FB page when I shared the “Memory”:
I love this memory. I love that I made a sledding run down the side of our driveway. I love that we used the black utility sled. I love that it was at night. I love that I can hear Kateri’s laugh… because I don’t hear it from across the room, in the car, around the fire, or belting out into the nothingness while she’s sandwiched between my legs where I can actually FEEL her laugh… as we hold on for the ride. I know that sounds rough… but that’s why I love this memory… because I can hear her laugh.
On it’s face, that is a very sad statement filled with the memories of twenty years, but we can’t sum up the complexities of life in seven words… because sometimes nine other words show up to say, “Today, I’m gonna spend it with someone I love.”
In the winter time, when I get home from work one of the first things I generally do is get the fire going. (Kateri would’ve followed that line up with, “In my loins!”… but I’m not talkin’ about that kinda fire.) Sometimes I need to cut wood first or maybe snow blow/shovel the driveway, but invariably I end up sitting in front of the wood stove on my little stool that Kateri and I got in 2001 (maybe ’02..?), when we lived above a garage in Monkton, as I get the fire going for the evening. I enjoy this part of my day. It’s a built in time/task that sorta forces me to just sit for a few minutes. Of course, when I just sit for a few minutes… I think… about all sorts of stuff!… like how the stool I sit on was Kateri’s and my first piece of furniture!… and I hope it doesn’t spontaneously collapse on me as I’m starting the fire! But it hasn’t yet and I’m glad… because once the fire is going I absolutely love sitting on that stool and letting the wood stove heat my knees, hands, face, and top of my head that used to have beautifully thick hair keeping it warm. It provides me with space… to think… to remember… to reflect.
Sometimes I sit there and think about heavy things… when heavy things are going on. Other times I think about other things… when other things are going on. And sometimes I think about things and have no idea why I’m thinking about them! So… over a few days of sitting there on my stool as I got the fire going, I thought I would make a few notes of what it was I was thinking about as I lit old newspaper I had crumpled up and stuffed under my methodically stacked kindling.
Random Widower Notes n Thoughts… as I get the fire going:
Kateri would get excited and announce when she got the fire going by using only a single piece of paper…!
I think a lot about how I want to remember my old life… my life with Kateri… instead of just remembering.
I’ve always wanted to be a truck driver. I still wanna be a truck driver. I just don’t wanna quit smoking weed.
Road trips… adventures… ones with Kateri… ones without her… and ones I have yet to go on.
I’ve been sad lately. Sometimes I can sit here and just be… sad.
Cars should have a little icon of balloons, streamers, and champagne bottles pop up on your odometer when you hit 100,000 miles… and every 100,000 miles after that!
I’m actually pretty happy I don’t have chickens right now. I loved them… miss them… miss the eggs… but I don’t miss the chicken chores… or poop.
I bought a new coffee maker and grinder. My old coffee maker was… well… old. The coffee grinder I just didn’t like so I went and got a different one… which I like less than the old one. So… I’m going back to using the old grinder.
I would love to see Europe, but don’t know how I feel about flying over the ocean and one of my biggest fears is drowning in cold water so I don’t know how I’d do on a boat thousands of miles away from land… it’s quite the conundrum.
I still haven’t seen Tik Tok or know what it’s all about… which sometimes makes me feel older than I actually am. (I’m still young damnit!… but in a “middle-aged” man’s body. Or maybe I’m just immature.)
I think about my mom… a lot. This week I’ve been thinking about the tumor on her adrenal gland that has grown significantly. After talking to my sister, I’ve been able to also think about how the tumors on her spine and in her lungs haven’t grown… and after months of being off of chemo, there aren’t any new ones! Cancer… it fucking sucks.
I think about next winter when I won’t have to cut each piece of wood I burn so that it’ll fit in the stove… it’s gonna be glorious!
I think about shaving, but I haven’t seen my face since Kateri died and am kind of afraid that I’m gonna look gaunt and sickly since my healthy eating and sleeping habits went the way of the Dodo… for the most part. Fortunately… I like the beard.
My land line and internet are still in Kateri’s name… I really should deal with that, but I like my phone number and don’t wanna lose it!
Friends… I miss them, but I understand we are all simply living our lives… and we’re currently in a pandemic. Luckily, I’ve hit that point in life where I feel as though the friends I have will always be a part of my life… whether the last time we spoke to each other was last night, last week, last month… or in 2007.
I sit and think about life. Sometimes it’s complicated. Sometimes it’s not. And sometimes I just need to sit… and get the fire going.
I don’t need anything from you. I don’t need you to do anything. The things I am sad about can not be fixed… they can not be changed… they can not be taken away and hidden from me… because they are a piece of who I am.
Sadness is a part of life… it’s a part of my life. Sometimes, I force myself to get up on the right side of the bed. Other times, I just let myself be.
I haven’t written anything since Christmas. It’s not because I won the lottery or just inherited a crap load of money from some long lost relative who made their fortunes in the Aglet Boom of 1803 and am now sunning myself on my private beach where I’ve been disconnected for the past 35ish days… spending the hours eating take out Chinese Food flown in from NYC, laying in the grass in the middle of my 20 acre garden… after the staff goes through and removes all the bugs… with tweezers and jars so that they can be released into Walter’s bedroom (He may sound old and cute… but he’s a dick.), and… well… doing whatever it is I want to do at any given time… while smoking copious amounts of weed… that Helper Monkeys roll into joints for me using papers that have images of friends, family, and times from my life printed on them. No… it’s not because of that. I’ve just been doing other things. I guess I’ve just been… pluggin’ away.
The plan for my next blog was to share my experience burning the last bundle of sage from the jelly cupboard… from when Kateri was alive… but I don’t feel like getting that heavy right now so I thought I would just jot down some Random Widower Thoughts of things I’ve been thinking about or that have happened since we last connected. I’ve attached a video of me playing my guitar… because… well… why the hell not?! I don’t take it seriously. It’s just a hobby… something I can do to fill “X” amount of time with positive vibrations that simply make me feel good. And it’s something that I find… fun!
With that being said… some thoughts on things since Christmas.
Random Widower Notes n Thoughts:
On January 4th, 2021 I burnt the last bundle of sage that’s been sitting next to Kateri on the jelly cupboard. I’m ready to clean that space up a little, get Kateri into the Klean Kanteen, and maybe put other stuff on top of the jelly cupboard. It’s pretty exciting here in the WFC.
That was the plan at the beginning of the month… to post about the sage. And then I got glued to the news because there was this thing called an insurrection at our nation’s Capitol. All I’m gonna say right now is… Fuck you people. If you are one of those who quickly realized what you were doing was horribly wrong and you instantly apologized… you can Fuck right off. If you are someone who has spread lies year after year, who has decided to make shit up because you know people will believe it, who has used fear and anger to pit struggling Americans against struggling Americans for your own personal power and wealth… Fuck you, too.
After the inauguration, it felt weird when I heard a journalist say “President”… and they weren’t talking about Trump. It was a moment of “Ugh”… instantly followed by “Oh, they aren’t talking about Donald “Little Orange Hands on a Horrible Human Being” Trump! It felt weird… but better.
Ummm, I don’t lump all Trumpers together… we’re all basically the same… need and want the same sorta things. These people, the insurrectionists… they’re just extremist assholes with extremely poor judgement and outlooks on life… along with weapons and the internet.
I’ve realized I’m a Justin Bieber fan. I ain’t no “Belieber” or nothing… but I’ve been diggin’ it when some of his songs come on the radio or on YouTube as I’m running around the house or driving around Vermont. Sometimes… my head even bobs to the rhythm a little bit!
Work, work, work. I’ve been working more than normal lately… which I’ve enjoyed for the most part. It’s been a good lesson on just doing what we gotta do for the time at hand. I knew work in January was gonna be time consuming… so I “pivoted” and just went with it. And look!… I went through that and now I have time to do things such as write a bunch of jibber-jabber on the internet again!
There are things that just need to get done… like cutting 2 inches off of the last cord of 16″ wood so that it will fit in my new wood stove. I am sooooooo excited for next year when I won’t have to spend a couple of nights a week in the garage using a chop saw (with the original blade…!) to shorten logs so that I can stay warm and use less propane! It’s gonna be glorious. Although, I’m gonna miss the Nub Nights.
I haven’t been very “widowery” lately. I’ve kinda just been consumed with the present… which has kinda worked out nicely since I’m currently in the Anniversary Time of when my life was crumbling, I was scared, I was learning just how unfair Life could be, and all I wanted was for Kateri to not have cancer. She didn’t deserve it. (ok… now I’m feeling a little more “widowery”… the tears do that.)
I replaced the Vermont Flag I installed on the front of The Schoolhouse. I bought the old one not too long after Kateri died and it had begun to get a little torn and ratty from the years of wind and weather. I like the brightness of the new one.
I went for a walk on the lake down the road from my home for the first time. It was fun!… and a little nerve wracking… walking past the empty shanties (it was a Monday) as we made our way to the middle where we took the right turn to watch the sun go down as the moon came up behind us. It was also cold, but the hot chocolate and marshmallows Amanda and I brought with us helped keep us warm!
I went to do laundry the other night and when I was loading the washer I heard something… dripping… and it wasn’t coming from the washer! I looked up at where there had been water damage from before we bought The Schoolhouse and lo and behold the leak had come back! Although five years was a good run, I knew it was just a matter of time before the “fixed” leak wouldn’t be so “fixed” anymore. It came from a vent pipe on the roof, so I shoveled the snow away and called it good. After analyzing the situation, I realized that since it had leaked before I had no idea what shape the wood was behind the drywall or in the ceiling and roof! It was actually a relaxing moment when I also realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it besides shovel the snow away and install a bucket on my dryer because there’s four inches of ice on the roof and I’m not about to start tearing apart walls when it’s 2 degrees outside! Awe… spring projects… that may get pushed to summer. (And I hope my brain doesn’t go, “Just buy a nice looking bucket!… and build a shelf!”.)
With all the shit to do and worries of being able to sustain… I love… LOVE! my home… and am happy I have it in these times.
My sister got me a coffee mug where a picture of my mom and I show up when you put hot liquid in it. I can’t tell you how special it is to me… I’m using it right now!
Video description: I haven’t done a blog post for a bit, so I thought I would play a song and throw it on there..! Not because I wanna be a musician or anything… I just thought it would be an easy post. And then I found out it’s a little more nerve wracking than I expected… putting yourself out there… but oh well! Hobbies help pass the time… and some hobbies help ease the heaviness of adversity that touches us throughout our lives.
For some reason I decided to search The Oracle for widowed celebrities… and I’m not exactly sure why besides simple ol’ curiostity. I mean, I’m not exactly up on celebrities and I kinda don’t care for reading or watching stuff about widowhood, but I searched it anyways. If you became famous in the last decade… 15 years or so… I probably can’t pick you out of a line up!.. or really care to! But, if you’re a widow(er)… I feel for you. It don’t matter how many people know ya or how much money you got from that horrible 90’s sitcom… or one hit wonder!… if the person you loved more than any of that type of shit… the person you loved more than anything else… up and died… life sucked.
So… that first part was really just notes I made the day before the 2 and a half year mark. The video below I made the day after the 2 and a half year mark. And now I’m posting this blog three days later. Yup… I’m slackin’! But what it comes down to is, I had a moment where I decided to simply look at the last two and a half years of my life… and tried to not let the emotional attachment to last 20 years with Kateri be the focus of my thoughts. And I’ve gotta say… it felt good to look back at my accomplishments over those two and a half years and be comfortable with how I have handled them! Sure, I’ve taken some wrong steps, but just took a step back when I realized it. Sure, I’ve said some things that I probably shouldn’t have said in certain moments or environments or to certain people, but I’m learning to think before I speak… a majority of the time… sometimes… here and there……… I’m working on it! Sure, I’ve made some mistakes, but as of right now… I’m ok with all of that.
We all make mistakes. Luckily, for two and a half years I have been surrounded by people who are understanding, caring, and supportive… and realize we are all just fallible animals trying to get through the day. It’s because of those people and the lessons Kateri taught me in life that I was able to have a positive moment on this new timeline where I could feel accomplished, comfortable, and proud of how I have dealt with my “Widowhood”… even if that “moment” came to me while in the shower! (I’m pretty sure we all do a lot of thinkin’ in the shower!.. when we’re not singing.)
ps… if you take a gander at the video… I know I say, “ya know?” a lot. This is why I prefer to write things down… I ain’t no orator!
So… the world is going to shit… I guess. That’s what I see on my little phone when I check the news. (CNN/Fox… I like to see propaganda from both sides. Of course, I feel like Fox News is the annoying richy rich frat boy who’s drunk and yelling at all the other party goers to do keg stands and chug vodka so that he and his cronies have easier prey in the hours ahead to make fun of, influence, or take advantage of for their own pleasure or benefit…. just sayin’.) Yup, the west (where I’m from) is on fire, The Rona hasn’t gone away no matter how much disinfectant we drink or how much we stare at the sun, we’ve lost some really good people (John Lewis, Notorious RBG, Chadwick Boseman, Jerry Stiller… Regis), there have been so many storms that we’ve gone into the Greek alphabet to name them, schools are now the petri dishes of some strange social experiment where no one knows how the heck to do it while parents are just happy to get their offspring out of the house for a few hours, and in some parts of the world they are canceling Halloween… that’s just fucked up. But you know what..?… there’s toilet paper on the shelves and they’re coming out with another season of Cobra Kai! It’s not all Doom and Gloom!… which I guess is what I’m trying to get to.
I’m just gonna say it. For me… life is good! Really… it is! Not like “I just won the lottery and am gonna party like it’s 1999 Good!”… but it’s still good. Yes, there have been some heavy moments and a few bumps in the road in the last little bit, but nothing really compares to the loss of Kateri in my life so I feel I’ve been able to somewhat deal with… life. Nope, some things haven’t gone as planned, but one of the things that being a widow has taught me is that the unexpected is to be expected and I just need to plow on through… or stroll… or crawl. OK… sometimes I just need to lay in bed and let time pass to get through certain moments, but I tell myself at some point I’ve gotta just get up, get out, and get going!… because otherwise I’ll get bed sores… and that’ll just create more problems!
I think the loss of my chickens has made me think about the timeline of my life. Specifically, my path since Kateri passed just under 2 years, and five months ago. I feel now that I’m here alone, it’s another step into “My New Life”… and oddly, it sorta feels good to get to this point… the point without chickens. I knew the time would come… it did… and now I’m here. It’s like I’m now living a more accurate picture of what my life will be like post Kateri & Darren’s Time as I’m more firmly rooted in… Darren’s Time. I guess in some way those stoopid raccoons provided me with a little bit of “closure” with the massacre of the chickens… and then I gently pushed the door shut with the subsequent Viking Funeral of Lil’ Bitch up at the fire pit with a couple friends last weekend.
Yup, the Pandemic hasn’t really changed my life much. I’ve got firewood for this year… and next!… and a new stove and chimney to keep the schoolhouse warm as winter is steadily approaching (there have already been a couple of fires… and a Nub Night! I’m still cutting 2-4 inches off of two cord of wood so they fit in the new stove.). The bulk head stairs are built, the deck is painted, the garage is in order… somewhat, rooms are painted, and toilets aren’t leaking anymore… after 17 trips to the hardware store. On top of that… I’ve got friends… good friends… who help. I know we all get caught up in our own worlds and we’re all different types of peeps, but the cool thing about friendships is that just because there may be more miles between us or more time between visits… those aren’t the defining factors of what makes two, three, twenty seven, or a couple hundred people friends. It’s the bond created through shared good experiences… and how we treat each other through the not so good experiences. (Actually, I feel there’s a boatload that goes into what makes people like and not like other people… and the relationships they have, but sometimes I like to not overthink it and hold onto the perspective that there are some friendships/relationships where it simply boils down to the fact that they just… click.)
For twenty years, Kateri was my best friend… and I wish she didn’t die. But I’m thankful for the life I had with her, for the friends we made, and for the lessons she taught me… which I try to use as I figure out how to live my life without her. Yup, there’s all sorts of shit going on in the world… and in our little lives… but there are things in our control and there are things that are not. For today, I’m not gonna focus on the piles of poop being plopped all around us and take some time to focus on the good things, get in touch with some good peeps… and simply have a good day. I hope you do the same!
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
That was rough… even though I’m talking about how I feel good, the moment I wrote “Kateri was my best friend”…. I lost it for about 10 minutes. Yay!… widowhood.
I passed a house that had clothes drying on a clothes line in the back yard. Kateri loved letting nature do the work…. I use the dryer.
I’m at 96 followers!… so close to 100! (You can hit the follow button if you want. I don’t even care if you read the blogs! Well, I kinda care, but I also realize it’s basically sort of a personal journal about loss n shit with no real structure or fully thought out intentions behind it… and I don’t even know how long I’ll be doing these things… so maybe just commit to the “like” button!)
Tomorrow is my Wedding Anniversary. Although, I wish I hadn’t waited ten years to ask for Kateri’s hand in marriage, our wedding and life together was perfect… just 30 to 40 years shorter than expected.
If you throw a whole frozen chicken on a fire… it’ll take a couple of hours until you can’t distinguish it from the other coals in the pit… and will smell like chicken.
Be kind, be supportive, relax… and be good. (I don’t think that is a correctly punctuated sentence. I feel like there could be more periods. Man, I’m glad I’m an adult and not in school gettin’ graded on that shit!)
I took a couple of days off so that I could meet a friend in PA this weekend. And yes, I literally mean “meet” them. It’s kind of amazing how much someone can impact your life without ever standing in the same room as them! Unfortunately, the stoopid Rona put the kibosh on that so I decided to still take the time off, stick around the house, and get to things that have been nagging at the brain for a while now… like the leaky toilet… and mess of a garage. After painting the porch, I’ve been sorta motivated to keep on the train of seeing how I would like to set up and/or maintain my new life and home. Getting a few things checked off of the list of things to do does wonders for the psyche!
So, I’ll just say… I had my extended weekend kinda planned out. Start with the toilet (flush valve) and then move on to the garage, chicken coop, truck, and wood. Well, of course things don’t always go as planned. I was able to replace the flush valve OK… for being a cook… but after I attached the tank to the bowl, I noticed one little drip of water… on each of the three anchor bolts! (I don’t even know if that’s what they’re called…?!) Now, originally the flush valve was leaking, but just into the bowl on its way to the septic tank. It was one of those every once in a while things where I would hear the tank replenish the top inch of water, but at least it wasn’t leaking onto the wood floor! Luckily, two mason jars were enough to hold the bolt problem at bay (wherever bay is…?!) until I was able to hit The Home Depot for some new hardware after a few hours of work on Friday.
It was during my learning experience with the toilet, running in and out of the garage to be exact, that I decided it was about time for me to buy one of those stand up tool boxes on wheels to help me organize all the crap I have accumulated over the years while fixing this or building that. So, on Friday I bought the bolts/washers/nuts I needed to finish the toilet… and also bought a tool box to put my crap in! (…after watching the dude struggle to get the box off the top shelf with one of those lift things while I stood guard at the bright orange gate. I tried not to stare… but it was an entertaining struggle!)
I finally finished the turd herding (plumbing) on Friday afternoon around four and then it was on to the garage and tool box…es! (I got two of them…!) Friday night was basically me dorking out in my garage with my stuff, listening to music, and enjoying the process of putting friends with friends. I didn’t finish tidying the garage until Monday morning… there’s a lot going on in there… but it was well worth the effort. It feels good. I feel accomplished. I feel… better.
Yup, those are a few of thing that I did. But now, for the widower shit… the roller coaster… the “rolling with it” type stuff. At the beginning of the week, my intentions were to fly solo, listen to some tunes, smoke some pot, and just be productive at the schoolhouse while I worked on my “New Life”. And then my sister-in-law reached out to say she was in Vermont and was hoping to come up! So, I amended my plan… and prepared for the tidal wave of Kateri and “Old Life” memories and emotions that were gonna come along with having a Damato in the schoolhouse.
First, I’m gonna say that it was an absolutely fantastic couple of days seeing her, talking, remeniscing, building fires, roasting hot dogs, and hanging on the porch until the heat drove us inside or to the garage… while watching a four year old take a bazillion trips up and down the driveway with his scooter.
It had been too long. She was there with us for the last three… fourish weeks of Kateri’s life. The three of us… Kateri, her, and I… had a ton of good times. We spent a lot of time together. We lived through a lot together. And I am forever grateful that the three of us were together… that she was there for Kateri… in the last weeks of her life. I simply love her.
As a widower, I’ve learn how to adapt to change a little bit better… because I was forced to. This weekend was one of those times. For two years and four months I’ve been on this journey. I’ve had to learn how to live in this world without Kateri. I’ve had to learn how to go through the days without being completely devastated by what life has shown me… by how cruel it could be to such a beautiful person… to the person I loved more than anything. That takes work… and a lot of it. Two years and four months after Kateri’s death and I feel as though I am firmly rooted in this “New Life”. I’m doing things that are for me… for my home… for my own well being. I’m able to look a little further into the future… a little… further. I’m at that point where I am living my life… and am doing OK. I’ve adapted. Even though I’m surrounded by the 20 years of life with Kateri and the memories of how it used to be… I’ve learned how to live without her. (basically, you just keep waking up and dealing) So when a family member/friend comes to the schoolhouse to feel close to Kateri, to be in this space, to be close to her things, to find comfort… emotions and memories come with them.
I welcomed those emotions and memories this weekend because most of the time I need to kinda push them to the side just to get through the day. I actually enjoy it when moments like these come around because it provides me with the time and space to simply remember Kateri with someone who also loves and misses her. These days, it’s less devastating when someone comes to visit (which has been no one in this time of Covid!) and more comforting… which feels good. Ya, the plan was to be “productive” this weekend and to spend time with myself in this new life, but I’m soooo happy that plans changed and I got to spend a few days of my new life remembering some of the wonderful parts of… my life.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Facebook reminded me that 5 years ago today we signed the purchase agreement on our first home… on our Little Red Schoolhouse.
I finally emptied the little trash can that we (now I) used to dispose of the lint from the dryer… it has been a while. Like, there was still some Kateri Lint in there. Sometimes… you just gotta let go!… of lint.
I hope you have a good day!… night!… whatever!
ps…. I started this post last week, but WordPress updated me to the new Block Editor… and I don’t really know how to use it!… so it’s taken me a bit. Since then, on Saturday at 7:30ish in the evening as I was trying to figure it out… a raccoon (I’m pretty sure) killed the last three of my chickens… of Kateri’s chickens. Yup… also pretty sure there is gonna be a post about that experience!… which I’m still dealing with… considering the fact that dreams of Lil’ Bitch and me on the hill are over. For the first time in twenty years… I’m the only living thing (besides plants) in my household… weird.
Well… I’ve known that I wanted to write a blog today because I like setting time aside and taking advantage of dates such as “The Second Anniversary of Kateri’s Kick-Ass Party” to remember her and our life, but now that I’m here… I’m not sure what to say! Not that I’m all verklempt or anything (although, I’m sure there’ll be some emotional moments), two years just happens to get filled with all sorts of things… experiences, emotions, fun times, not fun times, learnin’ times, pandemics, protests, and simply life. So… we’ll see where this goes.
For me… it had kind of a similar feeling as at our wedding…sorta… ish. I/we were surrounded by nothing but friends and family who were there because they loved us… and there was a celebration!… with American Flatbread… and Zero Gravity beer… and Luke cooked a mammal over a flame… and a lot of the same people. A lot of good… good people.
One of the things I just realized is that I have sort of a catalog to look back on with this here blog thingy, so I decided to see what I wrote last year! And… well… last year I said I had no words!… but I did have three Widower Notes n Thoughts and the above bullet point was one of them.. and I still agree with how the celebration of Kateri’s life felt to me. It was absolutely wild the similarities of our wedding and the celebration… and I’m glad it was truly a celebration of the life that Kateri brought to all of us.. the life that she shared with the lucky few of us on this planet. Just like our wedding, I don’t remember all of the particulars of that evening, but I’ve got the gist of it… and it’s mainly a memory of love.
Up until Thursday, I planned on spending this weekend alone doing some things that I thought would be nice little attachments to Kateri. I thought about taking the Klean Kanteen bottle that she used when she was sick up to a friend in B-Town to see if he could get it engraved (that’s what I’m gonna use as her urn). I thought about hitting Flatbread just to be in the space again… which also affords me the opportunity to grab a couple of breads! I thought about swinging by and seeing a couple of wonderful people. But then I thought about all the other people (you know… the rest of the world simply living their lives) and the whole Covid-19 thing going on up there and wasn’t sure how that would impact my job. We’re pretty strict on our travel guidelines!… which is understandable to me… so I started thinking about sticking around the Schoolhouse… and then David called.
I had called my wood guy when I got home from work on Thursday and left him a message. It was the second message I had left for him (which isn’t annoying at all!… but the routine I’ve come to accept) so when the phone rang twenty minutes later I totally thought it was him… it wasn’t. The moment I heard, “Hello my friend.”… I knew it was David… and not my wood guy… whom I still haven’t heard from. This is a nice example of where sometimes I just feel the need to roll with things as they change or materialize. David was calling to see if this Saturday would be a good time to come visit..?! Now, I’m not one who believes the stars aligned with the second moon phase as Jupiter rose in the east… on a Tuesday… to make it so that David reached out two days before this anniversary after not seeing each other for almost a year… but it was a pretty cool coincidence!
As I thought about David’s inquiry, it seemed somewhat perfect to me. David has been in our life since 2004. He came into our life during our time at American Flatbread in Vermont. We stayed with him at his little cabin by the river up Four Mile Canyon in Colorado… until we found our place in Ned. We all came back to Vermont at relatively the same time. The three of us spent a lot… A LOT… of time together. He knows me. He knows Kateri. He loves her. So, when I thought about the possibility of maybe having company this weekend… the thought of it being David sorta fit perfectly! He’s someone I feel 100% comfortable having around if I decide to go through shit, am dealing with shit, or simply taking a shit! (that’s how you know your relationship is tight… when you can poop in front of… or in the vicinity of someone… or if there is the possibility of them hearing you on those special mornings after unhealthy nights!… and it doesn’t phase you. Sorry, kind of a gross analogy… and please, try to poop privately)
This bullet point is simply because the word “poop” was directly above Kateri’s head and…. well…. it just kinda looked and felt weird! I mean, it still kinda is… but now there’s a bit more space in-between them!
So today, on the second anniversary of Kateri’s Kick-Ass Party, I’ve decided to see how it plays out. I’ve decided to take this weekend and remember Kateri for all the wonderful things she brought into my life… which I’m sure I won’t remember all of them because there are simply too many amazing experiences, people, and memories that she gave me since 1998, but the good is going to be the focus. I figure, this isn’t a “Woe is me” type weekend… this is more of a “Remember how Kick-Ass Kateri was” type weekend that I luckily get to spend with someone who personally knows just how Kick-Ass Kateri was, too. Yup, I’m sure there will be some emotional moments (just had one!), but that’s only because the love I (we) have for Kateri is just as strong as it was when she took her last breath. Life just happens to be different now.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I remember it was well past the one-two (midnight) when David walked me back to my hotel after Kateri’s Kick-Ass Party. When I got to my room over looking Lake Champlain (I splurged… I figured my wife just died and we were celebrating her… I wanted to be able to see something nice when I woke up the next morning), the staff had left me a couple of cupcakes and condolences. Such a simple gesture… that I will always be grateful for.
I came downstairs from taking a shower on Thursday and thought I would get ahead of the game for the weekend, so I threw in a load of laundry. After starting the washer, I took a swing by the kitchen and then had to run back upstairs for something… probably something really important… when I heard a strange noise coming from the mud room. Upon inspection (it was pretty apparent what was going on!), I realized that the pump for the washing machine was trying it’s hardest to fill the washer… but there weren’t no water!… always a fun feeling as a homeowner. I did the whole running around inspecting faucets and pipes looking for leaks, went to the basement to check fuses, water tanks, gauges, and boilers. The boiler has a digital display that said “GOOD”… which made me feel better… but had nothing to do with my issue! After realizing the issue was above my plumbing skills (…still a cook), I decided to wait till morning to give anyone a call… I can survive a night without water. Plus, I generally have a couple of coolers full just in case we lose power!
When I got to work in the morning I gave ARC Mechanical a call and they said they would get someone out that day… they’re great. I got the initial call from Bruce telling me when he would get there, and then he called back a bit later telling me he had fixed the issue! It was a simple little fix of replacing the pressure valve!… yay! As a fairly new homeowner, and more recently a widower, when things like this happen (no water flowing from your faucets) the brain instantly goes to that worse case scenario so when he said it was a valve… I was fucking ecstatic! Although I would’ve managed getting through the weekend without water… (a friend had already filled up four-22 quart Cambros of agua for me and I can pee outside)… I was glad I didn’t need to deal with it!
Yup, the weekend was looking better already. So, I went to the store to grab some provisions and then went on home to enjoy the conveniences of modern life. When I got to the kitchen with the groceries, I turned on the faucet just to reassure myself that the liquid of life was flowing through the pipes… and that I’d be able to take a shower. With a turn of the knob… the water came out… and I was reassured. So while feeling good, I put groceries away and was about to start planning out the ToDo List for the weekend when I felt the need to alleviate some pressure in the guts. The easiest way for me to explain the experience is… took a shit, flushed toilet, went to wash hands… no water… yay. I called ARC back… and Bruce turned around… postponing the start of his weekend.
When Bruce got here, he immediately mentioned that he thought it was something bigger than the valve and gave me the number to Sargent Artesian Wells since it was coming upon quitting time for just about everyone. Luckily, when I called Chaz from the well place he was just as awesome as everyone from ARC and said he would get there tonight at some point… which didn’t happen… but I was fine with it. Even though the experience was somewhat nerve wracking on a couple of fronts, my interaction with Bruce along with knowing what is currently going on in the world made it so I wasn’t freaking out about what the possible fixes may be. However big the issue was… however painful it may be financially… I was gonna be fine.
Long story made a little shorter… the issue was that my well pump gave up… 282 feet below my front yard! For me, it went from the relief of it being a valve to needing to pull up a pump almost three hundred feet down at the bottom of a hole… but at least I didn’t need to drill a new well or anything like that! So… not the best outcome… but no the worst! In all honesty, meeting those two guys and witnessing how they approached their jobs with their sense of responsibility to the people who call upon them when things go awry… was worth the Benjamin’s that I’m gonna be handing over at some point. They seemed like good people… good neighbors… and I’m glad I can support local business.
After Bruce couldn’t fix the issue and had gotten me in touch with the well guys, he helped me prep the well for Chaz… and then we chatted for the next hour and a half in my driveway! (He also had five gallons of my water in the back of his truck from when he was testing the valve that he gave back to me after saying that it was my water to begin with). The moment Bruce approached the wishing well and simply started pushing it over… my mind was blown. I didn’t realize it wasn’t attached to anything!… at all!… it was simply around the well and over the years earth and grass had accumulated up the base of it! I mean, I kind of understood that, but there were also wires going to the light in it… that we never used… but that didn’t stop the toppling over of it! Bruce pushed… I guided it down… and when it was on it’s side, just laying there in the front yard with the rotted parts holding on for dear life… I thought of Kateri.
Kateri hated that wishing well… she thought it was cheesy… and it is, but I have always kinda liked it… the cheesiness. Although I like it, I have also known that it has been needing to be replaced… and it was on the agenda for the summer.
When we first moved in, we had some friends helping us move wood from the lean-to to the garage. They all knew Kateri’s thoughts on the wishing well… because she told them. So… every time MPH would turn his truck around in the front yard, he would give the ol’ well a little nudge… as Kateri would be egging him on, with her arms in the air, yelling at him to keep going!
Fortunately… it never got to the point where I had to build a well that day, but it did give me that wonderful memory to look back upon with such love, fondness, and entertainment as I was dealing with the uncertainty of my current water situation. It brought back so much… and not in a bad way. I felt good as images from that day filled my thoughts. I remembered Kateri in her (my) brown flannel. I remembered David standing on the pile of wood. I remembered the tiny Milk Snake striking at MPH’s heel over by the potting shed. I remembered that that day was the first day we experienced snow… in our first home. It was a wonderful day… in a different time. And unexpectedly, running out of water on Thursday made me remember a time five years ago of stacking wood and nudging wishing wells… with people I love.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I’ve started making my bed again every morning… most mornings. It just feels better.
I still haven’t gotten used to the whole being alone and thinking about what would happen if I… say… tripped and broke my ankle, or fell off the roof, or slipped in the tub, or put the chainsaw in my thigh, or had a heart attack, or fell down the stairs, or was mauled by a bear, or if a swarm of bees attacked me while I was sleeping, or my lawn mower blade flew off and took out my shins… or something. Then what would I do?
In general, I feel as though I am happy. But I also feel as though it’s still a subdued happiness… like there’s this weird blanket of “meh” on everything.
I pulled out the last trash bag from the box Kateri and I bought from Costco, which was probably four years old. It was strange thinking about how that box of trash bags was from my life with Kateri… and that was over two years ago. Yup, it took me about two weeks to get it to the recycling bin.
I didn’t go to bed last night until the wee hours of this morning. I knew I was probably gonna be up late since I wasn’t gonna be working today. I decided early on in this “New Life” that I wasn’t gonna work on the anniversary of Kateri’s death… ever… and I’ve made it two years in a row! As a widower, I’ve had to deal with the loss of Kateri every single day I wake up, but as time goes by, day to day life kinda turns into this new normal and I’ve gotten used to balancing the weight of not having Kateri next to me and all of the things that come along with that… and figuring out how to “live” and function in this new world without being an emotional and psychological plane wreck! I feel as though there have been a couple areas of turbulence and maybe a bit of engine trouble over the last two years, but I’m still in the air!… even if I fly pretty low sometimes. One day… I hope to be in a space where I am soooo excited about life that I simply NEED to buzz the tower!… even if Goose is pleading with me not to. One day Goose… one day.
Initially I planned on taking three days off for Kateri’s anniversary so that I could do something out in the world like go to the ocean and stay at the dumpy little hotel, which we loved, and was right on the water. We got a kick out of the place when we found the shape of an iron burned into the carpet in the entry way of room 318 (I don’t actually know the room number… it’s the one on the top floor on the end… in case you were wondering). But The Rona has kinda put the kibosh on any plans like that so I was kinda forced to decide to stick around the schoolhouse… which I’m also completely okay with. I mean, this really is the place where I feel the closest to Kateri because it’s filled with all sorts of her Hopes n Dreams. I just wish there was more time for her to experience more of them.
This has been out for years on tables n shit. It’s the day after I told her I needed space… and she gave me 2,100 miles.
Tea Cups at Disneyland… a while ago.
Two years. Jesus… what the fuck…?! (sorry Jesus, just using you as an exclamation… I don’t blame you. We’ve been warned you work in mysterious ways! At least, that’s what I hear… I don’t actually go to church or follow you on any of your social media platforms… but I dig the message you were delivering. It’s just a fair amount of your followers that I have an issue with… they can get a little freaky!) Although at points it feels like Kateri died yesterday, the fact of the matter is that for 730 days (31?… was there a Leap Year or some shit?) I’ve had to learn how to live life without her. I’ve had to learn how to live My Life using the lessons that she taught me instead of witnessing her actions. She cut the path through the woods… I just need to maintain it and see where I can create new ones. (some bushwhacking required)
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I was able to Zoom with two of my sister-in-laws last night. It was fantastic and a pleasant surprise. It was also weird when someone mentioned it was midnight… and now the actual day Kateri died. It hit me instantly… unexpectedly… and I cried.
I decided to work on the yard and flower gardens today to hopefully get a sense of connection and closeness with Kateri on this date… but nature decided to give us a couple inches of snow last night to start this Earth Day off!… so now it may just be a bath, a joint, some music, and inside stuff! Maybe I’ll give the plants a shower!… I know Kateri would do that once in a while… and I haven’t done it yet!
I’m gonna try to fix Kateri’s truck this spring/summer… myself (I need it to move wood!). I’ve been watching car remodeling shows on Netflix… it can’t be that hard to at least get it runable!… says the cook.
As a widower, you learn to do all sorts of things… while crying. After two years of not knowing when emotions will pop up, you just kinda roll with it because you still need to get things done! Let me tell you, crying in the shower as you are frantically washing soap off of your face and out of your beard because you realized you didn’t close the damper on the wood stove… and not skipping a beat… is a skill.
Being a cook and cutting thousands of pounds of onions is also good training for widowhood!
I’ve decided to start the process of going through some things around the house and to maybe move some shit around. I haven’t done anything substantial in the last two years… I feel it’s about time… and I kinda want to. I understand it may be slow going.
I still put the toilet seat down… yup, trained well.
I am older than Kateri ever made it to… that’s kinda fucked up… but bound to happen in these situations.
A couple of things I’ve learned in the last two years:
We can adapt to adversity… as much as we don’t want to.
Kateri made me better. It’s a simple fact.
Life is a lot easier if you surround yourself with good people… and if you put the work in to being a good person who makes decent choices. Luckily, I have a lot of wonderful people in my life.
Priorities… what’s important… to me.
How to cook for one…ish and to make half a pot of coffee instead of a full pot.
There are loving, supportive, empathetic, and caring strangers out there… some you will never meet even though they might’ve played significant parts in your life.
Plants… yup, they pretty much need water and sun. Trimming would probably be helpful… but I haven’t learned about that yet!
If left to my own devices for nourishment… I make bad decisions… but they’re tasty.
How to set up my own blog!… which has been a wonderful tool throughout this process, even if it has been sporadic as of late.
Two years… basically, there’s a ton that has happened. Some good… some bad… some challenging… some whatever. That’s life, I guess. There are things we can control… and there are things we can’t. Although it can be frustrating, I’ve learned to not sweat the things I have no control over (most of the time!)… it’s just a waste of energy. There are plenty of things in this world that we do have control over… I’m just gonna try to focus on those and if I need to take a step back from time to time… I will.
I just miss Kateri so God damn much. After two years… it still has the power to floor me… and I expect it will for quite a while.
I hope you are all well, safe, and not making stoopid decisions in these uncertain times. Just as in my situation, time doesn’t stop and we’ll all find ourselves talking about The Pandemic of 2020!… as we shake hands hello… and give hugs goodbye. Love to all y’all.
ps… it feels odd not really ever writing specifically about Kateri and all the beautiful things that made her such a unique and loving person. Maybe my next post will be about her… and not me and my shit.
First… Happy Birthday! You’ve always loved your birthday being on St. Patrick’s Day… it might’ve been the Irish in you. I love how you would make sure to have a bottle of Bailey’s around for today… usually starting the morning off with a “little” in your coffee… until the time came to start drinking it out of one of the two tiny plastic beer steins. I especially loved it when you would fill up both of the miniature mugs, hand one to someone you loved, clink them together as well as two small plastic mugs could clink, and celebrate simply being there together on your birthday.
Well babe, I’ll be honest… I had a little emotional breakdown just a second ago, decided to run to the store for some papers and on the way back I realized what it was I needed to say to you. I wanted to write to you about all the fun St. Patty’s Day/Birthday adventures we had at the ocean, in pubs, with friend’s and family… or just the two of us, but I’m not going to. Those are all simply wonderful memories… which I have. What I don’t have… is you. And today…. I’m having a hard time with that.
Since just under two years ago, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this alone. To fill you in, we currently have something happening in our world that will ultimately touch every living person on this planet… in one way or another. It’s called COVID-19 now, but get this… at first it was called Coronavirus! I know!… CORONA-VIRUS! I thought you would get a kick outta that. Although there were a plethora of beer jokes when it first came to light just a couple of months ago… and I may have made some remarks about licking door knobs to get out of work… aaaand I know you would still be making inappropriate jokes (at times) about it to ease the anxiety… it’s actually a very unsettling time and serious thing.
This is where you come into play. When I drove home from getting my papers, I looked around at the open fields, the sparsely filled Park n Ride, a family in a four door pick-up truck at the stop sign waiting to turn, everything felt… different. I’ve gotta tell you Kateri, when I heard your last breath… I heard my world change. Now, as I face a changing world, I simply wish I never heard that silence and that you were with me now. I wish I had our life again. I wish you were here to stay in comfy clothes, drink Bailey’s, and watch horrible movies on your birthday because everything is shut down. Hell, maybe we would be at an empty hotel on the ocean making cappuccinos in our room because we got it for dirt cheap! Once again, your cappuccino would probably have Bailey’s, but it doesn’t really matter what we would be doing… I just wish you were here with me because you always made uncomfortable times better… or uncomfortable in a different way… a better way!
I hope you are having a wonderful time however you are spending your birthday. I have all sorts of scenarios playing in my head, but my minds eye can only focus on your smile… that big, innocent, genuine smile. I want you to know that our friends have been reaching out today showing us they love us. It’s been nice, but I haven’t really responded to anyone yet… I’ve kinda just been thinking about you. Well, and dealing with work… and a chimney guy!… but mostly you.
You were my partner in everything… in life. When life got crazy… as it is right now… I looked to you… and I still do, Kateri. I want you to know that. You taught me so much. You provided me with direction… with purpose… with guidance. You may not be standing next to me or sleeping upstairs or at the farm or in the garden, but you are always with me.
I’ve been much more emotional today than I expected to be… you would have a blast yelling, “CRYYY!” at me… but I just wanted to send you a note… which made me more emotional… so I’m gonna stop now and say, “I love you, Kateri. Happy St. Patty’s Day and HAPPYBIRTHDAY!… you would be 46.” (because I know you still aren’t paying attention to your age)
ps… Coronavirus: Reason #317 that trees make better neighbors.
Today I’m writing what I was gonna write tomorrow about yesterday, but I realized the date and the whole “Widower Day” was kind of a funny run of two’s so I thought why not tonight?! (I don’t know why… I just happen to like numbers. Yup, as Kateri would say… I suffer from O.D.D…. it spells odd.)
At work yesterday, I made the comment that if I didn’t love my house as much as I do, if Kateri and I had just bought some random home in the burbs instead of our cute ass and drafty little red schoolhouse… well, I probably would’ve sold it and hit the open road! But that’s not the case, so I’m still here at my little red schoolhouse home and on the drive home yesterday I had an experience that simply made me happy about my current living condition.
It was getting dark when I turned at the lake. Not like dark dark… just kinda dark. About three minutes in, I saw two dimly lit red lights moving at a slower rate than I was moving. I couldn’t really make out the shape of the car, but I could tell the lights were the taillights of on old Volvo station wagon… and then made the assumption that it was John plugging along in front of me. This is where I felt a little bit of the warmth that “community” and “neighbors” provide once in a while. I loved the fact that before I could actually see any of the particulars, I could tell who it was. It made me feel like I was driving “Home”. After literally saying how I would’ve “Hit the open road” just a couple of hours earlier, it made me realize that I do still really love where I live… and the fact that I know my neighbors. I don’t know most of them very well, but each of them have come into my (or our) life at one point or the other. Some I wish we (I) got to spend more time with… I guess I still can. Some, I’m fine with just a wave here and there. Either way, it’s comforting knowing the people on my Home Road. It eases the loneliness… and that little experience helped fill a tiny bit of the emptiness I feel every time I head back north. It was a little thing. It was random. It was moment specific. But it was significant to me on an insignificant drive back to the schoolhouse.
When I pulled into the driveway, pulled up to the garage, put the car in park and set the parking break.. I just sat there for a moment. I have this thing where sometimes I can’t get out of the car right away… usually because I see those big ass schoolhouse windows to my left and it just reminds me of all of the “Hopes and Dreams” Kateri and I had with our lives and our home… this was one of those times. I was starting to get a little emotional when the song Dance Monkey by Tones and I came on. I had heard this song quite a few times and have just always really enjoyed it. I’d like to think that I’m sorta up on current music, but I don’t have TV and am not on the internet too much so I don’t really know about any of the artists… or what they even look like! This song, however, has just been growing on me so I decided to sit and listen… in my driveway.
It made me really think about Kateri for a couple of reasons. I thought of her dancing in the passenger seat as we would drive down the highway… or be sitting in our driveway. I thought about how she would’ve really enjoyed movin’ to this particular song. It made me think about how Kateri faced the news and fucked up reality that she had cancer… in her brain… and her plan was to dance the cancer away. She always described it as her “Dance” with cancer… and she danced beautifully with the asshole partner who unexpectedly cut in.
As I thought about these things and others, I wondered if I could maybe play this song on the guitar…? So, as I sat there in the driveway… in my “cute” little Jeep… I pulled out my phone and searched guitar chords for the song that was currently vibrating loose change in the cup holder. I saw that it was basically four chords and when the song ended, I went inside, rolled a joint, turned on Youtube to check out the official video, lit a fire, lit the joint… and just enjoyed the song for the second time in 15 minutes.
I couldn’t really tell anything about the artist from the official video, so I started searching live performances. This is where I need to insert the “Oh my God!”… because what I saw was simply amazing. The first video I found was her U.S. debut when she played on Jimmy Fallon… and I couldn’t get enough of it… of her! I’m not gonna get too much into it except to say that I found her to be absolutely inspiring… which then turned into another two hours filled with nothing but Tones and I… and Dance Monkey being played over and over again as I searched for more and more live performances. It was such a “not what I thought” experience that I couldn’t get over it! As I watched her perform… it made me wanna root for her! Of course, seeing her perform gave me the feeling that she is gonna have a shit ton of people who are gonna wanna listen to her music, learn about her story, and support her! It was just one of those pleasant surprises that come along once in a while. Check her out!
Yup, it was just one of those days. And, in all honesty… I finished writing this today… because I didn’t finish it yesterday. Instead, I fell asleep on the couch.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
When your wife dies, make sure to change your W-4 from “Married” to “Single”. Your employer won’t do it for you… and it sucks when you find out 22 months later that you never made the change and you’ve been “under reporting”…?… and all that shit. Just a friendly Widower PSA.
Wedding ring status: still off.
Hope you have an inspiring day!.. or at least a good one!
I have no idea if this is kosher, but this is what started my infatuation with Tones and I:
ps… you can follow the blog by email or WordPress if you hit the little button. Then I wouldn’t need to keep throwing these up on Facebook to feel good about myself! (don’t worry… I’ll feel ok about myself even if you don’t!)
I think… like everyone else… I wish I could just drop everything, pack a bag, load the car, and experience wanderlust again for a while instead of plugging away at the grind. Not that things have been absolutely horrible… I haven’t been getting punched in the nuts when I wake up every morning or anything like that… but it DOES get a little tiring when you constantly feel overwhelmed, are constantly trying to “figure things out”, and life keeps showing you that there are things you have control over… and there are things that you don’t. So…. I’m just gonna keep plugging away at routines for right now… keep an eye on what I have control over… and maybe try to create some new routines! (Like ones where I have to brush my teeth at a rest stop, in a hotel, or next to my tent would be fun! Or in my schoolhouse… I have no plans of letting go of my schoolhouse! Gotta have home to come back to!)
The past couple of weeks have been good, filled with some good things. My lady friend and I went to Salem, Mass last week to get out of Dodge, see the ocean, and check out some witches! (the witches weren’t actually a main focal point) One thing I love about the East Coast is it’s history. Yes, we have some pretty horrendous history in this country, but everywhere does. It’s fun to walk around a town made up of old brick buildings and wooden houses where you can read about what took place on that spot hundreds of years ago!… even though they weren’t good times. (I guess that’s how we learn not to do those things again… or not let them happen again.)
For me, it’s weird doing things with someone who isn’t Kateri… but that’s the whole balancing “New Life” and “Old Life”. I mean, I still wanna experience life… sometimes with someone else… sometimes by myself… but mainly I don’t wanna keep trying to recreate the experiences I had with Kateri because those times are simply memories of a different life now… even if they are really, really good memories. I want new experiences… for my new life. Experiences like going to the Peabody Essex Museum or the Salem Witch Museum. I still wanna walk around towns and look at the architecture or old ass homes where the doors don’t have any right angles anymore. I wanna go into magic shops and get in trouble for taking pictures because they sell REALLY important and magical things. I wanna have fun and say things like, “These are the trees where they hung all the witches!” when walking through a town green… not knowing if there was any truth in the statement! I still wanna live… life… and focus on “The Good” things once in a while… and push “The Bad” to the side for a bit… here and there.
I was gonna go into some other things I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks like the fact that I’ve started going through the house… slowly… or the fact that I’ve started my book! (an even slower start… but I’ve got a file folder with words in it!) But, it’s my Sunday on a Monday and I’ve got things to do. All in all, I feel I’ve been doing okay. Going through the cabinet in the living room was rewarding. It’s interesting what you find in boxes. This one had old computers (no, I didn’t turn them on to look at pics or anything… although I wanted to), CD’s from decades ago, cords cords cords, an old picture of me from 2007, a ticket from our NY City Christmas in 2012, toys my mom gave Kateri over the years,…. and underwear. Yup, you just never know what you’ll find!… but you’ve gotta open the box first to see what’s in it! Otherwise, it’s just a box taking up space.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Dating as a widower is a huge, complicated thing. For all you widowed people out there… just be true and honest to yourself and the other person… and fuck whatever issues and opinions other people have about it… they really don’t have any idea of what you are going through.
It’s hard to balance the wanting to spend time with someone, but also wanting and needing to spend time alone… again, complicated.
Sleep is still a strange thing. During the work week I do okay…ish… 5-7 hours of sleep depending. I generally wake up on the couch between 2:23 and 3:47 on the weekends…. and then crawl into bed so that I can have that feeling of waking up in bed.
Cake Pops. No matter what… they make things better. (unless you have diabetes… then they probably aren’t that great for ya)
Six Hundred and Sixty-Six days in… It’s still hard to come to terms with the fact that Kateri isn’t here. I miss her. I miss our life. I miss our future. And when I think about it… it makes me cry. At this point though… I generally cry alone.
wow… that sounds ridiculously sad.
Remember, we are surrounded by both “The Good” in the world and “The Bad”. It’s up to us to decide on which to focus on and when. We aren’t helpless. Sometimes, we can do things that are actually helpful to ourselves… and others… without much effort.
I haven’t worn my wedding ring for 16 days.
The beard is getting a little old… and itchy… but I just can’t get rid of it yet! (because it’s still kinda fun)
I hope you have a good day!
ps… You can follow the blog if you want! I promise! Unless you’re a dick… then you can follow some other blog.
Well… I officially have a Therapist for the first time in my adult life. It’s funny, as I sat here after writing that sentence, I didn’t know what I really wanted to say!… and then a friend texted and my thoughts shifted to jogging in the rain… which sounds kinda sloshy… fun, but I will probably never do… and doesn’t have anything to do with my Therapist. This is sorta what happens for me every time I stop and take the time to think about what it is I’m going through… where I’m at… what brought me here over the last 44 years and how it all works together to push me in a certain direction as I try my best to steer the wheel of life… which happens to have a significant amount of “play” in it! I keep seeing sayings like “YOU control your life” and “It’s how you show up” type stuff… and it’s true… but there’s a shitload out there that we have absolutely no control over which affects our life in one way or the other and to whatever varying degree! Hence… “play in the wheel”! (My father had an old Wagoneer. One of those classy ones with the mountain scene on the back widow. You could give the wheel a quarter turn before you headed in whichever direction!… Man, I would love to have that Jeep now.)
Back to the Therapist. I’m not gonna get into the whole road that led up to me seeing a Therapist because that could take a while! (I mean, I know I got up early… but no.) And… it’s not really important. I mean (again), it is… but it isn’t. For me, the important part is that I am taking the steps necessary to keep my life moving in a direction I can live with. After six hundred and whatever goddamn days I’m also just simply…. tired… and taking advantage of every opportunity to push me in a positive direction in hopes of getting to a better space. I mean (third time), all in all… on average… in the grand scheme of things… I’m hanging in there… fair to midland, I would say… but I’m tired of that feeling of “sustaining” or “keeping my head above water”. I want growth in all aspects of my life and in who I am. I want to be able to see the beauty that surrounds me… or that is on the other side of the windshield… and not just recognize it for being beautiful. This is one of those opportunities.
So… my approach to finding a Therapist…? As with every experience in this new life, I wanted this one to be as close to how I envision it to go as possible. I already had an idea in my head of what I felt I would be comfortable with. I thought about what type of environment would be calming and warm, the location, the type of person I wanted to have this experience with and all that jive. Fortunately, so far it has worked out!
I went through EAP at work and got two referrals. Yes.. I googled each of them. The first one was closer to my home, but there were other areas they specialized in like “Yoga”… and all I want to do is talk to someone… who focuses on talking. I can get 100% behind all the “Namaste” stuff… positive energy/vibrations/loop o’ bliss/etc., but I didn’t feel I wanted it as part of this experience, so I moved on to the other one.
I couldn’t find much info on… we’ll say “Betty”… so I gave her a call. The moment I heard her voice I knew I had found my person! (I’m calling her “Betty” for a reason… she sounded consoling and supportive… and… well… “seasoned”.) I instantly felt like I could talk with her. She had this welcoming sound to her that put any of my concerns about the process at ease. It felt… good. Aaaaaand….. when we actually met at her house for the first session…. it turned out to be exactly the experience I was looking for! Betty’s stature, demeanor, her home, her history, her voice and words, even the road to her house were all fantastic parts of this new experience… making a new memory… in this “New Life”.
There isn’t much more to really say about that first session… it was mainly a get to know ya/why we’re here type thing. I was gonna do just three sessions to start, but as we were talking I realized what this session basically was and thought a couple more would probably be beneficial. So, I’ve decided to commit to five sessions and then take stock. The first three are gonna be kinda rapid fire (once a week) and then I wanna space out the next couple. What it comes down to is… for me to get to a point where I am happy with where I am, who I am, and how I’m doing it… I’m gonna need to be open to trying new things! Fortunately, this “new thing” has so far been nothing but… encouraging!
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I took my wedding ring off on Friday evening and haven’t put it back on yet. I used a work function as a testing ground on how I would do with not wearing it out in public… I survived. Of course, I took a picture of it to reference… again… just as a reminder that it was safe on my dresser at home… next to Kateri’s engagement and wedding rings. Fucking… weird.
I still haven’t watched a scary movie by myself…
I always had Kateri to talk to… to guide me… to bounce thoughts off of. I had never felt the “need” for a Therapist… I had her! When you lose an aspect of your life like that… and your world becomes silent… it’s a hard thing to process.
I have what I’m calling “Nub Nights”. Since I have to cut down three cord of wood to fit my new wood stove, I’m left with all these nubs about two inches thick. So, I put those in 5 gallon buckets and on days I’m feeling lazy and don’t wanna cut wood… I have a “Nub Night” and burn all the ends! Yup… they burn, too.
I like inserting little “holidays/theme nights” into my day to day life… it’s fun.
On the way to work yesterday, Christmas Eve, the realization hit me that I think this is the first Christmas in my life that I will be waking up in an empty house… alone. No one already drinking coffee downstairs. No one sneaking little wrapped packages into old socks hanging by the wood stove. No one making phone calls seeing when other people will be swinging by. I can’t smell the oil being heated up for the round upon round of fried dough. Nope… it’s pretty much just silence here at the schoolhouse. I did manage to fill the air with the smell of coffee… because this day needs to start one way or the other… and I really, really need it!
Although I talk about how I’m alone this morning… I sorta planned it that way. Two Christmases ago I was in Idaho spending it with my family because we had found out my mother has cancer and Kateri and I were going to spend it with them… then we got the diagnosis of melanoma in the brain on December 19th, 2017… and Kateri stayed home… alone. Which sounds like a sad situation with this limited information (and it was), but it was exactly how it should’ve gone.
Last Christmas, my sister-in-law was here… and it was good… but she’s not here this year and once I knew she wasn’t gonna be coming (I knew pretty early on) I made the plan to just have a Christmas morning to myself and to see how it goes… alone. I’ve also come to the conclusion that as for now, that whole “alone” feeling isn’t gonna go away for a while. Yes, there are people in life… people that I care deeply about… friends and family that care deeply about me, but when I lost Kateri… even though I may not have lost everything… I did lose that comfort you have in life knowing that there is that one person… that one special person who will always be there for you… who will guide you, love you, support you, laugh with you… and hold you when you just need to be held. For almost twenty years, I never really felt alone… but I do now. Not because I’m sitting in bed on my computer instead of taking bong hits for baby Jesus. Not because there isn’t the smell of oil heating. Not because sister-in-laws went to Jamaica or because friend’s and family are miles and miles away. It’s not even because it’s Christmas Morning. It’s simply because Kateri is not here… and I wish she was.
This is my second Christmas as a widower and I just gotta say… it’s weird. I wouldn’t say harder or more emotional or anything… just different. Unfortunately, life has been challenging as of late and I just haven’t really gotten into the Holiday Spirit as much as I was hoping for… but I’m trying to force myself into it this morning… and the coffee helps!
Yes, I may feel alone and sorta lost… but it’s still Christmas Morning and I want to make the most of it. I want to connect with friends and family. I want to open packages and cards from people I love. I want to share gifts with special people in my life. I want to laugh, share stories, and reminisce. I want to push all the ugly, unfortunate, and complicated challenges out for a day and just relax with my coffee by the fire, some Christmas tunes, and most likely a movie along the lines of National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Life will be there tomorrow when I wake up for work, but today… it’s Christmas… and I’m gonna try to focus on the things that I have come to love about the Holiday Season… even though they have become harder to see.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I’ve only opened 2 Christmas Cards before today. I figured I would save them for Christmas Morning so that I would have a few things to open up!
I left the lights on the tree plugged in last night so that Santa could see his way!… but I forgot milk and cookies! I think he took it personally.
I know this morning sounds sad and lonely… and it is… but I’ll also be spending time today with people I hold close to my heart!… along with someone I don’t really know.
Almond Rocca!! Man, I wish I had gotten some Almond Rocca.
People (widows/widowers n shit) talk about starting new traditions, holding on to old ones, and everything in-between. Personally, as my brain has been filled with all the other things that consume my life, I decided that I couldn’t worry about those types of things right now… things will go how they go. Sometimes, things/life/time naturally forces you in a certain direction or helps you answers those sorta questions.
For example, the fried dough thing. Yes, I wanted to get some dough from work and fry it up this morning… but I forgot to get the dough! Well… I guess it’s not a tradition this year! And I’m okay with that. Yes, I will have fried dough on Christmas again in the future… (I wish I had some now!)… but I’m also learning about how my Christmases (holidays/anniversaries/weekends) are gonna go… and how I would like to spend them in this new life.
This is my 100th blog post!! I’ve been thinking about all sorts of things I wanted to ramble on about… what it was I felt the need to share… what could be helpful to someone?… to me?…and… well… this is what I wrote instead!
Finally…. Merry Christmas Everyone. Straight up… I’m not religious or anything, but this truly is a wonderful time of year. When you take out all the bullshit and get to the bottom of it… it’s simply…….. be good to one another. It’s a big, complicated planet filled with a whole bunch of humans… who are complicated. It doesn’t matter spiritual beliefs or traditions or backgrounds or placement on the globe… it’s basically try to be a part of “The Good” in the world. We can always start small and just try to be a part of “The Good” in other people’s lives… as we go through our’s.
Kateri and I weren’t exactly “texters”… or really even cell phone users, but for some reason I had started texting her when the time was 1:23 or 12:34 or 3:45 or 2:34… you get the idea. I’ve always enjoyed numbers. At the ranch where Kateri and I met, there really wasn’t much to do in the winter if you weren’t working, or snowmobiling, or snowshoeing… or any of the other things you do when there’s 5 feet of snow out the window… with another 4 feet on top of that. So I watched movies here and there, put together puzzles, hung out with the other seasonal riff raff, and read a few books. Some of those books were filled with stories, some were filled with history, and some were filled with exciting tid bits of information like how the Fibonacci Sequence shows up in the arrangement of the seeds of a sunflower. Over the years I have read less and less about “math” as my interests turned towards other things… like cooking, guitar, and hanging out with Kateri… and now I think I’ve dumbed myself down to where I simply get excited when I look at the clock and it reads 4:56! Which I guess has nothing to do with equations or mathematics… but it’s a fun little observance that has absolutely no real significance in my day to day life… and I guess I thought Kateri needed to know when the numbers lined up!
There are so many little things that pop into my head throughout the day that remind me of life with Kateri. Lately, for one reason or another, the memories have been coming in a bit more frequently. They aren’t all big memories of exciting times, or holidays, or those special moments that are only shared between the two people experiencing them… some are little tiny random blips that show up and turn into bigger blips… like texting Kateri 12:34. I don’t know how many times I texted her when the numbers were all lined up on the clock… but I do remember that once in a great while I would receive a text from her and all it would say is 1:23… and it put a smile on my face. I knew the only reason she was doing it was because she knew I got a strange little kick out of it and looking back on it, it’s just one of those little things in my past life that now has a whole bunch more attached to it. It’s kinda like these memories are little tug boats pulling twenty years of experiences behind them with all the emotions piled up high on the barge. Once that tug boat gets to it’s destination… it’s just a matter of time until those emotions need to be unloaded from the barge… and I never know if it’s gonna get unloaded quickly… or take longer than expected!… and there’s always another tug boat coming up the river with an emotional barge in tow.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Kateri’s plants… I still view them as her’s and not mine. Broadly speaking, they provide me with a living connection to her that I need to pay attention to, take care of, and keep alive… which provides me with a sense of accomplishment along with being surrounded by other living things.
I grabbed a coat from a closet and saw Kateri’s mustard yellow and redish coat. I haven’t gotten rid of or packed her coats away, so they have just been hanging in the spare rooms. This specific coat always made me think of how un-Kateri it was. It was kinda new, kinda stylish, kinda modern. Kateri was most comfy in well worn clothes and flannels, but she also really liked getting dressed up… it made her feel good… and she always looked good no matter what she was wearing!
My guitar has provided me with an escape from the crushing onslaught of emotions, thoughts, and memories the death of Kateri brought into my life. It provides me relief. When she first died and I realized I was playing almost every day… I bought myself a new guitar… a new sound. It provided me change, but with the comfort of familiarity. This year, I thought I would take advantage of my solitude and buy myself an amplifier because of the whole “I’m not gonna bother anyone”… and plus I needed a little personal growth with my hobby. I wanted a few more options with how my “Escape Time” sounded as I searched for relief from the swirling thoughts… and it has been working. Like everything else in this new life, I try to fill time and space with people and experiences that make me feel good… with the hope of dampening down all the crap. Unfortunately… the crap is always there. But fortunately… I can sometimes swap it out for a few moments of “The Good” in the world through walks in the woods with neighbors, conversations on the couch, Stewart’s Orange Soda, Ben and Jerry’s… or simply the strumming of strings.
The cold toilet seat-I took a crap the other morning in the downstairs bathroom and the toilet seat (and bathroom) was a tit bit nipply… almost to the point of invigorating. As I sat there, it made me think about how we put the portable radiator in there when Kateri was sick so that it would keep the space… and toilet seat… warm, since she spent most of her time downstairs next to the wood stove when cancer first appeared… and we were remodeling the upstairs bathroom. (the bathroom in which she put the first hole in the wall… but never saw it finished… or took a bath in her tub surrounded by subway tile.)
I’ve been falling asleep to music lately… Tom Waits. I haven’t been able to listen to the Allison Kraus/Robert Plant album… we would fall asleep to that album or Neil Young’s Harvest Moon quite a bit. I just can’t do it… it feels too weird. It’s weird enough that the music emits from the little JBL speaker I had bought for Kateri when she was in the hospital so that she could listen to the Dali Lama chanting as she tried to relax and rest.
Squishy… I sleep with Squishy every night. Squishy was one of Kateri’s pillows. She called it Squishy because it was… Squishy. I still only use the pillow case with the three flowers on the front for it… any other pillow case just doesn’t seem to be the right fit. I still use my pillow… Squishy just happens to be crammed under or behind it, as well.
Food storage containers-Kateri bought us a bunch of food storage containers for our first Christmas in our first “Home”… the Schoolhouse. Every time I open the bottom drawer and grab one to put half an onion in, or maybe some leftover roasted root vegetables, it makes me think of that Christmas… and her. .
I was so proud of myself for getting the studded snow tires on the Jeep before the first snow flew. Then I drove over a screw and had to use my un-studded full size spare for 4 days… and it snowed. Luckily, I only had to buy one new tire and not four.
Kateri bought these current snow tires… our first ones studded… which is one of those weird memory type things. She bought them almost two years ago and I remember she had a doctor’s appointment the same day because of the headaches she was having… which turned out to actually be tumors. It’s a hard memory for me because I remember not being very sympathetic to her headache. It was before we knew what was going on and I thought it was just a headache that would go away in time… but it never did… and I’m reminded of that morning by stupid studded snow tires… two years later. (I’ve written this down before and I just find it interesting how it’s one of those recurring memories that is time specific. I wonder if this memory is gonna visit me every year when the weather changes and the people start freaking out with the first forecast snow. I swear… people lose their minds!)
I hope you have a wonderful Sunday… and thanks for stopping by!
ps… I thought it would be cool to post this blog at 12:34… but then I had to tend to the fire and missed it!
I established a draft! Yup… it’s pretty exciting! Not like a draft in the writing sense of the word… with my new woodstove and chimney. If you don’t know what I’m talking about… you’re missing out on one of the best things about cold weather… a hot spot to stand next to! It’s been kind of a fun challenge dialing in the new stove, but also kinda frustrating when I can’t get it to burn as efficiently as it should. Plus, when it’s 26 degrees out, like this morning… I wanna be all toasty and warm!
This morning, after I woke up on the couch at 4:37am (next to a pile of empty KitKat and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers)… and then woke up in bed at 7:42am… I went down to get the fire going for the day. I had planned on spending today doing home chores and getting to know the knew stove since we are in a “cooling trend” right now. You know, do some shit outside… clean and organize the garage, take down window boxes, try to leaf blow the leaves from my yard to the empty land across the road without “Sunday Traffic” seeing me!… while periodically coming in to stoke the fire to keep The Schoolhouse nice and warm. It’s the first day in a bit that I would have this opportunity so I thought I would just go with it, go slow, relax, and enjoy the Sunday Morning doing a few things that would make me happy… like drinking coffee in bed as I hear the tick of cast iron warming my home.
I’m excited to spend some time outside, too. It’ll feel good to get the yard buttoned up for winter. By next Friday, the temps are gonna start dipping into the teens, so I also feel like time is running out to take care of some of these things before the snow flies! It doesn’t hurt that it feels good to look at it once it’s all cleaned up… instant gratification! Accomplishment… I guess. And it’s always refreshing to be out in the fresh, cool air… with chickens.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
My Brother-in-law called last night. We spoke for almost 2 hours. It was fantastic. One of the weird things for me is how with Kateri not being here, neither are her family members as much… physically/phone calls/or texts. She was one of 8 kids… and she was like Switzerland. There was always someone calling, visiting, living with us from time to time, helping us, us helping them, etc., etc…. and now… not. I understand it’s just a normal part of this experience and something I will get used to… but it’s weird… and I miss them.
I took my wedding ring off last night when I took a shower. It felt strange. The other strange part was I kept forgetting to put it back on… for like 8 minutes. I had put it on my dresser, but it wasn’t until I got downstairs and had gone to adjust it with my thumb and noticed it wasn’t there! I went upstairs and put it back on.
I’m getting my license renewed tomorrow. It’s been making me think about Kateri a lot. She got her license renewed maybe a month or so before she died. I had to work, but she was with the perfect person to take her… someone she loved… a lot. The story is entertaining… if you knew Kateri… and the story. It’s a good memory for me from a time that sucked balls.
Although the memory puts a smile on my face… the Crocodile Tears are currently commencing. (a good time to check the status of the stove!.. and get more coffee!)
I’ve decided to start going through the house this winter and taking stock. I haven’t done anything yet… because it’s filled with 20… 43 years of my life and I can’t just approach it as “old life/new life” type stuff, but I do wanna take some more steps to sorta start putting my life together. Create my space… starting with our stuff… because I like our stuff!… (yup… stuff).
Ummm, that’s about alls I gots. I mean, I there’s more… but now I do feel like I need to get motivated and get outside!… and I’ve drank 3/4’s of a pot of coffee so sitting here is starting to become a challenge! I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday… and it’s filled with things that make you feel good!
Sometimes… I feel like I’m chasing a sun that has already set. Sometimes… I just wanna stop, sit, and wait for it to come back around… but I’m forced to keep moving through the darkness. (Don’t worry, I’ve got a headlamp… the batteries just might happen to be a bit weak right now!)
It’s been a year and a half since Kateri passed away… that just seems all sorts of fucked up to me. It’s weird because at some points it seems like it has been that long (whatever that means)… and at other times it seems like yesterday. Actually, anytime I think about Kateri it seems like yesterday… which is hard… and the main reason why I have to try and manage my emotions much of the time. I can function in society without breaking down in the grocery store or coffee shop… but I still don’t care if I do. Although I haven’t become comfortable living my life without Kateri (I just want her back)… I have become more comfortable with my situation… and all the bullshit that comes along with it. Mourning the loss of a spouse is one of those “Big Life” experiences that happens to be somewhat complicated and I realize I am just settling into this whole grieving process… because it’s gonna be around for a while! Oh, it’s gonna change here and there… maybe it’ll even take a break once in a while… but it’s not going anywhere. I’m just learning to live with it.
Eighteen months. I don’t even really know what to say… which may come as a surprise to some people who know me!… but there is just so much involved it’s hard for me to corral all my thoughts on the subject! Soooooo, I decided to revert back to a list of thoughts that have popped in the noggin of this widower as I remember the last year and a half without the person who I expected to live the rest of my life with… my wife… my Kateri.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I haven’t redecorated or changed much in the house because I realized… it’s my house… and I like how Kateri and I have filled it with things from our life together. Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean I’m starting from scratch. Yes, it’s hard to be surrounded by 20 years of life together… the relentless reminders… but it’s still 20 years of my life.
I’m writing this in “Kateri’s Chair”. She spent a lot of “Cancer Time” in this chair… I don’t sit in it much anymore.
The last movie I went to was Star Wars Something (I think The Last Jedi..?)… on Christmas of 2017. It was in Idaho… Kateri was in Vermont… and it was 6 days after we found out she had melanoma in her brain.
Kateri’s and my first piece of furniture… a stool we bought in 2001 from a store called FolkHeart in Bristol when we were living in a studio above a garage… attached to a big ass empty house in Monkton… is starting to unravel.
A positive in this shitty experience… I.. love… to… hit… SNOOZE! Really, I do… I’ve mentioned it before. It simply was not an option with Kateri… mostly if I had to get up before her. She was not a morning person! I mean, she liked the morning time once she got up, but she wasn’t getting up until the last possible minute. Of course, it was also because she had never been a good sleeper… and now I’m thinking about how I miss hearing her sleep……… fuck.
I bought an amp for my guitar yesterday… it makes me happy. That’s about all on that…. I just needed to get back to a happier place!
The constant feeling of being behind gets old… that probably sounds obvious.
In the 18 months since Kateri died I’ve basically gone from crushing pain in the beginning… to just a dull, foggy, muted existence most of the time. I wanna say that that sounds worse than it is… but it’s pretty accurate. Yup, still have times of fun n shit, but losing Kateri….
I totally need to go through my freezer… and cupboards… and chest freezer… yum.
My house was 68 degrees this morning! (that’s a good thing)
I’m pretty happy with the new stove and it feels good knowing Kateri would be happy with it, as well. Now… all I need to do is take 2″ off of three and a half cords of wood. Helloooo CHOP SAW!! (ya, ya… “miter saw”… but “CHOP” is more fun)
The things I’ve used to help me get through… to provide comfort… the things I’ve come to rely on are my friends and family, my job/profession/and co-workers, music, and my home. It’s mostly been the schoolhouse as of late… it’s just cozy.
I still wear my wedding ring. Will probably test the waters of taking it off soon… but I’ve been saying that for a while now! Sheesh, it’s odd just thinking about not having the weight on that hand!… and I play with it a lot!
So I just wrote how I play with it a lot… (never mind the sexual innuendoes some childish people may be snickering about)… and then I looked at my ring. I felt it, spun it around my finger, moved it up past the first knuckle as I always do (just because it feels good to let the skin beneath feel some air), and thought about everything that went into our wedding rings… what they are. Our wedding rings have significance, meaning…. weight. Although I miss being able to say “My wife” or Kateri calling me “Her husband”… I’m glad we played the parts the way we did… it makes me feel good.
Simply… which, come to find out isn’t so simple… I’m sometimes just tired of being a “widower” and dealing with everything that comes along with it. At 18 months… a year and a half without my wife… I feel I’m doing… ok. Sometimes I think about all of the things I should or want to do… and then literally say to myself, “Just get through today.” I actually said that at the grocery store this evening, which is why I’m writing it down now! Sometimes, that’s good enough for me. At other times, I guess I get tired of “just getting through the day”… and it’s a good kick in the butt to get something done… like making logs two inches shorter!
Just to put it out there… I think at 18 months I’m gonna start writing about some of the more uplifting and fun things happening in my life in between the piles of poop. I mean, it’s about balance right…?! (yes, I feel as though the one big pile of poop has been divided up into smaller piles of poop… but they’re all still poop.)
ps… it wasn’t the end because I wanted to say that I hope you all have a nice evening. Maybe get a fire going, eat a chicken pot pie, throw in a movie, relax a bit in comfy clothes and realize that there are quite a few pretty darn good things in this world. Ummm… unless you don’t have any of those options… then, I guess you’re on your own… but I hope you still have a nice evening with the pretty darn good things in your world!
One hard thing I’m realizing is the fact that when you are in a relationship that spans a considerable amount of time… 20ish years for me… it is natural to go through those intense, passionate times along with those times where you are just good with life and kinda plugging along. I loved our life together. I loved the exciting and adventurous times. But I really loved the plain ol’ day to day. It was comfortable… it felt good. Kateri and I spent pretty much all of our time together and some of those times we would just be doing our own individual thing. And… we got older. Out priorities… changed. We slowed down a bit as we were settling into the rest of our lives. Even though I believe Kateri was happy with her life and with me… I know… KNOW… that Kateri wanted more excitement in her life… more adventures… more passion!… and I was happy with how things were. As a widower you can take that type of reflection and put the information to use by living every day like it’s the last!… or some other homogenized cliché saying… and I do most the time. But tonight… reflecting on life also showed me that I do… in fact… have regrets.
We were talking in the kitchen the other day how we couldn’t believe September is more than halfway over! Seeing the trees already trading in their bright green leaves for the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges of Autumn Time in New England (well, Vermont) came up a bit quicker than expected… but then again… I don’t know where the summer went… or the last 17 months.
I kinda get annoyed with how we all talk about not knowing where the time went… like we were caught off guard that time didn’t stop for us… that nature didn’t take a break. But I also think we focus on the time because we live good lives, with good people, with good experiences… and we hate that that time is limited. We find ourselves in disbelief that we didn’t take advantage of seeing this person or talking to that person… or going ziplining, parachuting, to the beach, out to a nice dinner, or to the Snoop Dogg and Friends Tour featuring Warren G as they celebrate 25 years of Doggystyle (a classic album). The missed opportunities are amplified as we attach the passage of time to them as a gauge to the success of us “taking advantage of life” or not. Ya, there are all sorts of things I wish I had done in the last 17 months… but I can’t dwell on those things too much… and I am trying to not be too hard on myself as I wrestle with figuring out this new life… in a new time.
Seventeen months. In some regards, it simply doesn’t feel like Kateri has been gone for a year and 5 months… in most regards, actually. Although I have woken up every single day without her, it feels like just yesterday I was able to feel her skin, her hair, her love… without having to remember it.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
One pot/pan dinners… that’s usually my goal… if I’m not eating Gas Station Chinese food or pizza. I’m trying to eat better, but I’m also just kinda over doing dishes.
50 Followers!… (I think that’s WordPress..?) and it only took a year!…ish… might’ve been a bit longer… but 50!
I’m getting a new wood stove on Thursday. It’s the first “major” purchase for the house without Kateri here and although I’m excited about it… it feels kinda strange. I decided on a Vermont Castings because of sentimental reasons… and I think Kateri would be proud of my decision.
Side note… it’s always fun (sarcasm) when you think about new woodstoves and it reminds you of your wife laying next to the old woodstove on a cold winter day… on a pad that a friend made… knowing she has cancer… and knowing it’s not good.
I have now heard the terms “Axeless Mountain Dwarf” AND “Hermit” to describe me or my tendencies… and I’m ok with that.
I’ve been kinda freaking out about losing pictures and videos… memories… as the time keeps piling up so I started going through them in an attempt to organize them… it’s a slow process. I realized we all get a YouTube account with our google account so I figured I would at least throw the videos I have hanging out on my phone on there so that they are consolidated, I could expand the sharing of this experience, and I could learn a bit more about this technology stuff. Again… slow process.
This morning I had planned on looking at what I’m doing here… Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning… and begin the process of narrowing my focus since I feel I’m doing this sorta half hazardly… I’m all over the place! Well… I’m still gonna be all over the place for at least another day or two… or more. I got sidetracked… by those memories I’m trying not to lose.
Long story short… I came across this video that Kateri had taken on the morning of her first immunotherapy treatment. It was an early appointment so we were there before the masses of sick people and their loved ones started inundating the hospital. The pianos are generally locked… I’m assuming so people like me don’t just start banging on the keys… but this one wasn’t locked on this particular morning…. opportunity.
Now, if you watch the video you’ll notice that I am not a concert pianist! Heck, this is really the only song I sorta know (and it’s only part of the song), but that wasn’t the point. As Kateri, Maria, and I walked into the hospital and I saw the piano wasn’t locked… I saw the opportunity to give Kateri something… a moment to forget exactly why we were there. I wanted to provide her with something that might just take some of the worry away… even for just a moment.
I’ve gotta say… watching this video brought me back to that morning. It was strange to remember that moment so vividly. It was hard to deal with the emotions that came rushing in… ones which have stuck with me throughout today’s morning. I miss my wife. I miss being with her in the good times… and to be there for her during the hard times. And currently… I miss her being there for me. I miss her being here. I miss Kateri.
I took three days off of work last week… I felt that I needed to. I’ve been trying to take some time off during the summer, but it just didn’t really happen until this week. I’ve been feeling like I need a bit of time to address some of the obstacles this new life has put in front of me. It’s strange for me to think that it has 497 days… because I face it every single day. So at points it still feels like it literally just happened… and other times I can feel the space growing between points in the timeline. Either way, at the beginning of my Mini Vacation I had no plans on painting my bedroom… but I’m glad I did.
Kateri and I have rented a room in a house with meat heads in Burlington, slept in a studio above a garage attached to a large empty house… on an air mattress in Monkton, slept in a loft in Starksboro (our first stand alone house… we felt so grown up), had a king size bed in our “Secluded Apartment” at the ranch in CO… the squirrels in our room weren’t the worst part… it was the racist and untrustworthy managers. We stayed on our friend’s futon up Four Mile Canyon until we found our little cabin in Ned… where we signed our lease in green colored pencil… and had no jobs at the time. Loved that place… and the people. We stayed in our friend’s basement apartment in Huntington (well, Hanksville… but only people in Hanksville care about those specifics) when we came back to Vermont… where we could hear the kiddos riding their three wheeled machines in a circle through the kitchen, back hallway, living room, front hallway… and kitchen again…. as we laid in bed with smiles on our faces at 6:32am. Our next bedroom was just an open second floor loft with a staircase in the middle. Actually, it was more of a glorified ladder, but it had a railing to hold on to! Side story… I heard Kateri fall down those “stairs” one night when I had forgotten my keys and had to wake her up by calling to her loudly from outside and knocking on the door as I stood in the darkness. When you can hear something like that, your fiancé (at the time) hitting the floor, but aren’t able to see what’s going on… well, I just about broke down the door. Our next place was The Condo… where, from our bed, we could hear the horses run back and forth in the arena on certain mornings. On other mornings… you simply smelled the shit.
The next place we would lay our heads… our next bedroom…. would be in our little red schoolhouse. It’s funny to think about all the places we’ve lived, all the places we’ve slept… and then to think about where I am stretched out right now. I just can’t believe how much is packed into this little corner of the house. Our first night sleeping on the mattress on the floor… of our first home. Moving the bed around every couple of months to find the best light. Figuring out who’s clothes will go where. Those Sunday mornings of laying in bed with coffee as we planned out our day… and dreamed about our future… between runs to fetch a fresh Cup of Joe for one another……………………. And then Cancer.
Three days after Kateri died Maria helped me go through all of (well, most of) Kateri’s clothes. It had always worked out that Kateri would keep her clothes in our bedroom and I would keep mine usually in the spare room… if we had one. It’s not like she had a ton of clothes, it was more that we lived in small spaces! When she first died, I didn’t see the point of waking up every morning being surrounded by her clothes as I would go to another room to grab mine for the day. The thought had hit me that there was absolutely no reason for her clothes to be hanging in the closest… or to fill the two dressers in the room. She wasn’t coming back…. but I had to keep waking up there. I wanted to start my day in my space… with my clothes… because this was now my life. I have a house and twenty years of memories that are constantly reminding me of Kateri and what we had. I needed to chisel out a little space that was just mine as I tried to figure out this new life… so I figured I would start in the place I wake up every morning… and where I end my day every night… when I don’t fall asleep on the couch!
For me, going through Kateri’s clothes wasn’t as hard as I expected. Maria would ask if she could take this or that for herself or a family member and I would say “Sure” or “No”. I had seen Kateri in these clothes throughout my entire life with her and we generally remember people dressed… so there is a huge attachment for me between Kateri and what she wore… her “Style”. In the moment, it was simple… I couldn’t get rid of much… but I didn’t have to either. So, Maria and I went from drawer to drawer and into the closet. We talked, we laughed, we remembered, we cried… and then we put her clothes into green bins which sat in the corner of my bedroom for 16 and a half months… until I painted.
Kateri and I hadn’t gotten to painting the bedrooms of our first home. We started with the downstairs, the laundry area, second bathroom, upstairs hallways, and kitchen. There were other things we wanted/needed to do with the house and at the time and some of those projects took priority over painting like building chicken coops, fire pits, small stone patios, and paths through the woods. There was also the bathroom remodel that started with Kateri putting the first hole in the wall before Cancer… and me finishing five months after her death. Life was just sorta happening I guess… and we never really thought about there being a timeline. So this last Monday morning, as I was talking to a friend and trying to come up with a game plan for my Mini Staycation, the painting of the bedroom project came up and I decided to go ahead and try to get it done at some point before I went back to work on Friday.
I was actually really excited about it! It was fun trying to figure out what colors I wanted to surround myself with as I stared at a wall filled with little pieces of paper at Home Depot. Another side note… this was a time I REALLY wished Kateri was with me!… she had an eye for that type of shit, but it was still fun doing it on my own for the first time.
I wanted to wake up in a warm space. I wanted it to be bright. I figured it would help put my brain in a positive space the moment I woke up!… or when I called it a day. I was gonna go with a yellowish color, but the hallway is “Mustard” and that would’ve been just too much so I went with green. Well, actually, “Granny Smith Apple” and “Spring Leaf”. Let me tell you… there must be some very green apples out there! Yup, it’s definitely bright!… it’s growing on me.
I like doing projects because of the instant gratification when you finish. After I had decided on paint color, got together all my brushes and other painting tools, I had remembered about taping! Jesus… I forgot about how much time that takes! I also wanted to do the job right so at some point during the evening I bit the bullet and started to meticulously cover trim, doors, and floors with masking tape. Although the thought of just “being careful” had crossed my mind… I didn’t wanna risk it. I knew I would hear Kateri’s voice every time I saw a little bit of green paint creeping into the wood trim.
I ended up painting until 2:34am… with the assistance of Lizzo and various 90’s Alternative Rock artists providing me with a beat to keep moving to coming from the little JBL speaker I had gotten for Kateri when she was in the hospital… but finally… it was done. It sorta reminded me of when I laid the tile in the bathroom throughout the night when Kateri was in the hospital. I kinda like plugging away… getting stuff done… when the schoolhouse lights are surrounded by darkness and the rest of the world is sleeping. I like being in my own little world once in a while. Sometimes… I need it.
I feel good about the job and again… the color is growing on me. I guess it doesn’t actually matter if the color is growing on me or not… I’m not gonna paint it again for quite a while… but luckily I kinda like it. Kateri’s clothes are now in the spare bedroom across the hall… still in the green bins. Although it feels good that they are out of the bedroom because it allows more light in and I like not seeing them stacked in the corner every morning… I still can’t move them to the garage or anywhere else outside of the house for storage. I like having them close to me… even though I don’t look at them or anything. They provide me with a bit of comfort. And no… I don’t wear them or hold them or rub them up against my face… yet.
It was hard taking another step into this new life… changing something in my home… for me. It’s weird. It’s strange. It’s odd thinking about how I want to set up the schoolhouse in a way that would provide me with a space to remember Kateri… my wife… as well as keeping my own needs and wants in mind. Yes, there were definitely some struggles and emotional moments as I was transforming my bedroom into Fern Gully, but it also felt good to take that little step… to provide myself with a new space… to create a space… in my new life.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I saw a Pella Windows truck the other day and it reminded me of when Kateri would always say how fancy their windows were.
I miss the Rocky Mountains, ranches, and The West.
There is a red ’57 Chevy for sale down the road. I think it would look great parked in front of my little red schoolhouse… just sayin’.
Loggins and Messina-Danny’s Song… yup, that just about destroyed me as I was driving home the other day. Don’t know why… I don’t even really know what the song is about… wasn’t paying that close of attention!
I just need to figure out how to get what I want… I know the solutions are out there! I guess I also need to figure out what it is I actually want. All I really know is that I need some change. Some big changes… some small… some change.
Ummm… I should mention that “SEX!” was the original title of this entry but it is really just a small part of this post… although, it was the catalyst to just about everything that this post is about. Really, I don’t even know how to start this thing sooooo… we’re just gonna get into it.
It was around this time last year, a few months after Kateri had passed, that the thought and question popped into my head, “I like sex… I wonder if I’m ever gonna have sex again?…?!” Now on the widower side of things, that brought up all sorts of other questions. Questions that were very difficult to grapple with and ones that I still spend quite a bit of time on today. Questions about loyalty… mourning… and love. Questions about what the last twenty years were about. Questions about how family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers will view my actions. Although I was… and am… going through this experience my way, I felt the need to think about the special people in my life and how those actions affect them. (I may not change a course of action because of them… but as long as I think about them I figure I’m good!). It was a lot… and still is… which is why I probably don’t talk about it much.
On the personal side of things… that thought and question has brought some pretty hard times, hard conversations, and emotional nights… that sometimes start in the morning. Here’s the thing though… all of those hard questions and thoughts (widower/personal/whatever) are just a part of the gig and I’ve come to accept them, face them, and try to answer them the best I can. (Well, sometimes I disregard them when I don’t have the energy… or simply don’t wanna deal!) They are simply some of the challenges of this process and I figured I would get them out of the way for this post because what all those types of things comes down to is… I was holding Kateri when she took her last breath… nothing will ever be as rough as that. Now onto some greener pastures.
Sex. I was on my front porch (go figure) when that question popped into my head. The widower thing is weird. It’s just odd being thrust into this new life… alone… where I don’t have to let anyone know when I’m on my way home. That instant independence took a bit to get used to… even though the night Kateri died I took advantage of it by pulling out my laptop in bed to write notes. We never had “screens” in bed and it was the first thing I did that was… different… and for just me. A few months later as I was pondering sex questions on the porch I also thought, “How does a forty something year old man who’s been in a committed relationship for the last 18 years, who doesn’t drink, who doesn’t really wanna leave home for more than what is necessary, who doesn’t really have the energy… or desire… to “Play the Game/Field” meet someone?… who will also maybe have sex with them? Let’s see… hmmm… how about… DATING APPS!
Ya… dating apps… they’re interesting. My experience with dating apps up until this point was mostly Kateri and I poking fun at my hip sister-in-law, who lives in NYC, when she would visit and talk about how there is “no one” in this area! Kateri came up with terms like “Swipe Right Greg” as we didn’t try very hard to figure out what all went into the dating app thing. We actually sat around her phone once and collectively judged the dudes who were spread across Vermont based on their looks… and paid little attention to the minimal information in their “profile”. It was a novelty. It was something that Kateri and I had zero experience with… and we were very happy that we didn’t have to deal with shit like that. We had each other… for the rest of our lives………. yup.
A friend of mine came out last fall because he knew I needed it… I love this man… not just because he gives me Smarties. We were talking about the whole dating app thing and how it seemed like such a strange way to meet people… mainly because we were just never exposed to it. He told me of a story when a buddy of his was scrolling through the pics on one of the apps during a camping trip (or something) and was showing them to my friend asking his opinion. My buddy grabbed the phone and just started swiping away saying, “Nope”… swipe, “Nope”… swipe, “Nope”… swipe. Now with the dating apps that I have seen, you basically swipe the picture to the right if you are interested in the person and left if you are not. This is something that if you have no experience with dating apps, you might not realize. So when you say, “Nope” and swipe right… you are really saying, “YES!”… to the 73 women who’s pictures are on your friend’s phone… who all believe your friend is interested in them! And… he is now the one who will have to field all the messages being sent to him by a portion of the lovely ladies!… who he isn’t interested in. I love that my friend accidently did that to his buddy. It was an honest mistake… and obviously not the end of the world.
It was also one of those things that really made me miss Kateri. We viewed dating apps as a modern convenience that we would never have to deal with… so we dismissed it… and placed very little value on them. Heck, we even made fun of the “younger generations” who used them to meet people for ice breakers, dinner dates, and hookups… never thinking either one of us would be in the situation where a dating app would be useful! For me, the dating app has provided entertainment, insight, and some clarity in what my wants and needs are in this new life. They are just one of those “steps” I have taken looking for some sort of “good”… so that I can take another step. One thing I have realized though… when it comes to sex, companionship, and relationships… I can’t take very big “steps”… I basically have to crawl through the mud for a bit.
So, just in case you were thinking that I’ve been meeting people left and right, impressing women with my cooking abilities and witty banter, traveling the world with women who’s profile says things like, “Successful, independent woman who doesn’t need you” or “Looking for a step dad for my dog”… I haven’t. Very quickly I realized meeting people takes a lot of time, energy, and work… especially as a widower. The emotional stress that the original thought and question put on me was much more than I expected. Yeah, I wanted to have companionship… basically sex… but with my sweet sweet Kateri… which wasn’t an option anymore. It’s been hard balancing those sorta primal/human needs (companionship, sex, human interaction) with the sadness, confusion, and fogginess the loss of Kateri has inserted into my life. It’s been hard… but I’m getting there… and I’m unwilling to just wallow in the sadness.
Although it has been quite the learning experience with quite a few hard decisions, talks, and mornings, I still view my life as going as well as it possibly can… given the situation. Basically, I texted with a few women (literally a few), had a pleasant lunch with one, and met a woman almost a year ago who I now consider one of my best friends… if not my closest friend in this new life. I may not be comfortable with dating apps or meeting new romantic interests… or anyone for that matter… but things have worked out much better than I expected. Sometimes, life gives you what you need at that moment.
My new friend and I work for the same company, but we work in different buildings and had never met… that we could remember. She had “Super Liked” me (on accident) on one of the apps and when I realized we worked at the same place… it kinda brought up all sorts of things. Up until that point, I viewed the dating apps as more of entertainment… seeing what was out there… something new that wasn’t directly attached to my world because my life was still very centered on the last 20 years with Kateri. When I got the notification that someone liked me… and we worked together… and she worked in the same department that Kateri used to work in!… well, that brought the situation very close to home. I had not talked about my quest to find companionship with anyone really, and now there was someone who knows I was looking… who also worked next to people who knew Kateri… me… and us. I thought about what they might think about the steps I was taking. I was worried about being judged on this one… big… step… so I didn’t respond… at first.
Actually, I didn’t respond… my thigh did. Just as she didn’t mean to “Super Like” me, I didn’t mean to “Match” with her… yet. I was running out of the kitchen and onto the loading dock one afternoon when I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check my email and noticed on the screen the attention grabbing “It’s a Match!”… or something like that. Chef pants happen to have very thin pockets and from what I can gather is—as my phone was bouncing around, my thigh was able to click on the dating app and confirm that I was interested… which I was… just not at that moment! I thought I needed some time to hash out a few questions and concerns with the situation… my thigh thought differently. As with other parts of this whole widower thing, I figured “Well, this is happening now?”… and just went with it… and stopped worrying about what other people thought.
It started with a six hour conversation… her sitting on the couch… me in Kateri’s chair. It was comfortable. It was exciting. It was honest and open. It was easy… ish. We were lucky in the fact that we worked for the same company so it provided both of us with a sense of commonality… it helped put some of the concerns at ease when you meet new people… like if they are axe murderers or something. (Her coworkers let her know that I wasn’t one). We talked about how she was from Oregon and I was from Idaho. We talked about how she went to the CIA for baking and I had been in restaurants for the last 24 years. We talked about work… and the people we work with. We talked about how we were brought up, where we lived, where we traveled. We talked about my situation… that I had just lost my wife literally months before… she was already aware. I felt the need to put all the big things on the table if I was gonna bring anyone new into my life… and no topic was gonna be off limits. If someone wasn’t able to handle what it was I was going through… then I didn’t really have time for them… and it wouldn’t be good for either one of us. Luckily, she is a very understanding, empathetic, and compassionate woman… and didn’t let the past define the present… or dictate the future. I’m also just gonna mention… communication helps. Talk people. Talk about the hard things… it helps create a good life.
The past 11 months (the time we have been hanging) have been filled with all sorts of new experiences. Some are just regular life things, while others are very “Widower” centric. Like having sex with a woman for the first time in 18 years who isn’t your wife. Let me tell you… that’s not one of those “wham, bam, thank-you mam” type things. For me, the experience was very empowering as a widower… as a person… and as a man. I’m not going to go into details, but having sex with someone new for the first time… when the last time something like that had happened I was in my mid twenties… was just kinda fun. I was older. I was experienced… not only sexually, but in life. I felt secure… enough. I wasn’t a stoopid kid just trying to get the ol’ rocks off with some stranger I picked up at the bar who I hoped would leave before the sun came up. I’m more mature… which means we think about other people… and not just ourselves. And quite frankly, I’m just happy I wasn’t curled up at the end of the bed shaking and crying afterwards! The potential was there… I lost my “Widower Virginity” on the night of the six month anniversary of Kateri’s passing. Yup… maybe not the best time to test the new sexual waters… but that’s when it happened… and I can’t change it now!
I attribute quite a bit of my happiness in this new life to this new friend. She has given me much more than I feel I could ever give her in return. I think a lot about my situation and the obstacles I face, but I also think about how my situation affects her… and am continually impressed with how she deals with it and approaches it. I am amazed by her understanding. I am thankful for her support… and not with just the big things. She has also brought so many beautiful things into my life like s’mores in the woodstove, cake pops, Detroit style pizza, hot dogs grilled at the fire pit, long conversations in the living room, long walks around Portland… Maine, text message acronyms like DTR, kayaks, Criminal Minds, and once in a while… lazy mornings with strong coffee and comfy clothes.
We realize that there is a lot involved in our relationship. For some of you who put “it’s complicated” on your Facebook Relationship Status… you have no idea! For me, it was exciting to meet someone new, but I’ve gone through the ringer trying to figure out what it is I’m actually looking for, need, and want.
We are still hanging out because we talk about what it is we both need and want… and… well… because we both still really like each other. Our relationship has grown… even though I have had to take steps back. We still text “Good Morning” and “Goodnight” every single day… and I don’t think we’ve missed one since the first (unless one of us falls asleep), but now there is a smiley face emoji at the end instead of a kissy face emoji. At one point, it just got to be a little overwhelming for me when I realized we were basically in a monogamous relationship… and started considering each other “Boyfriend/Girlfriend”. I couldn’t wrap my head around going from an 18 year relationship… lose Kateri… and right into another relationship when I don’t really have an idea of who I am in this new life. I’m in the process of asking some big life questions of myself… and that takes time. One thing that we both agree on… one thing that we both aren’t really ready to live without for right now… is each other. Although we haven’t exactly been able to fully separate the whole friendship/relationship thing… we realize it’s because we feel we have positively impacted each other’s lives and are in no way ready for that to end. Again, communication… it helps.
There’s definitely a lot that can be said about these types of things, but this is just a blog post and not a book so I’m gonna end on this…. I am not trying to replace Kateri… because there is no replacing her. I still consider her my wife. I still wear my wedding ring. I would still give anything for her to be alive… down to my own life. I miss her so much it gives me headaches as tears gush from my eyeballs and snot runs from my nose… like it’s doing right now. I don’t want this life… I want my old life… but I can’t have it… even though I’m surrounded by remnants of it. Sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes that’s just how it goes. Other times, people come into your life who show you that life isn’t just the pile of shit you’re going through. They show you that there is happiness out there… there are good times… there is joy. They show you that you are not… alone.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
So I just got a new phone… my second one in just over a month… long story. My question is–On the iphone 8’s keyboard (when texting) the “123” is on the outside and the little world thing is to the right of it when the phone is verticle. When you rotate the phone, the little world thing is on the outside and the “123” is to the right of it… Why do they switch positions?!! (These are the things I wonder about)
A few people have checked in with me to see how I’m doing since I haven’t been on here lately. First, I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel… the support. Second… Thank you. Please know you’ve made an impact on my life… even if I don’t show it all the time.
ps… you can follow the blog… if you want… or share it if you like it… or maybe you know of someone who would get something out of it… perhaps.
I guess this is just me giving an example of why some people compare the effects of traumatic experiences to roller coaster rides. My last blog post was pretty darn positive… the good shit in this new life! I’m actually trying to be a pretty darn positive person… but sometimes things pop into my head on the 40 minute drive home through the vibrant green hills. Like memories. I’m gonna keep this short.
I had been sleeping in the spare bedroom for a couple of months because Kateri really needed the space to try and be comfortable. Somewhere in the last of month of her life, I was tucking her into bed when she said, “You can sleep in here if you want?”…. but by the time I was done trying to figure out hospital stuff, insurance stuff, cancer stuff, life stuff… she was asleep, looking as comfortable as she could be, and I didn’t want to do anything that would ruin that. So I laid on the bed above the covers, held her for a bit, and simply kissed her goodnight.
After that night… I never slept in my own bed… next to my wife… next to My Dearest Kateri. There’s a lot that comes along with a thought like that… a lot. Like missed opportunities… that I will never get back. Yup… just driving home.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I absolutely love driving on a newly grated dirt road!
There are more and more new people in my life… people who never knew Kateri… people who don’t really understand what I’m going through.
I should have a piano moving party!… and a wood stacking party!
I’ve started the process of fixing Kateri’s truck! Well, I washed off the dirt and talked to my mechanic. It’s gonna take some time… and a tow… she needs a little work. But she’s clean!
Some plants need more water than other plants… but I guess they all need water!
You can move inside plants outside… but outside plants will grow in the inside pots… which are outside.
There are more spiders… than I feel are necessary… around my house.
Wow… I’ve written over 57,000 words!… boy are my arms tired! (corny… I know)
Kateri named the pillow with the flowers “Squishy”… because it’s squishy. When she got sick she would ask, “Will you grab Squishy for me?”… and I did.
It was a Monday morning and we were laying in bed doing what we did on Monday mornings… Kateri was looking at bathrooms to come up with ideas for ours and I was probably looking at Craigslist for jobs, canoes, motorcycles, boats, or the random things that people sell. We were sorta coming up with a game plan for the day. It was our one day off together and we always spent them with each other doing mostly nothing… it was perfect.
Kateri wanted to build a cold frame for herbs… or lettuce… or something else we could eat… so we started to make a list of things we would need to go and get at the store to put together something that would hold dirt. Now, did I mention it was our one day off together…? because we also usually just laid in bed for a bit, drank coffee (each of us taking turns running for refills), and pretty much got into a laid back frame of mind… which also made us not want to leave the Schoolhouse. So… I started listing off things in the garage or over at the potting shed which could be used to make a box… with a lid… with the hope of not having to go out amongst “the people”!
We were actually quite proud of ourselves for using what we had! I had leftover lumber probably from the chicken coop. In one of the little plastic bins/cups that Kateri had gotten for me when we bought our house… with the hope of providing me with an organizational tool for the garage I was so excited to finally have… we had found a couple of hinges. For the top…?… it only seemed appropriate to use one of the many old windows we had laying around. (We had windows because in 2011 we had gone around picking them up from various strangers so that we could build our “church” for our wedding. No… neither one of us is religious. Kateri always said she was a “recovering catholic”). And Kateri had some garden mesh/fabric stuff… because she gardened… to line the box with. We had all the fixin’s to build our cold frame! And there was no need to leave the hill!
It was a good day. Nothing special. Nothing really out of the ordinary. Just a Monday. We were so proud of ourselves for just making do. Kateri was so happy to have a cold frame where she could grow things next to the front deck… and beside her gardens. She was putting down roots… at our first home. It made her happy. It made me happy to see her and to help make her happy. Life was good… and we were happy together just doing what we did… on a Monday.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I was gonna write something yesterday for 15 months, but there were other things I wanted to do. Of course, I kinda wish I wrote about a Monday… on a Monday. (I know… kinda weird)
The Beastie Boys will always remind me of Kateri.
I finally hung the lady in the bathroom. Kateri loved the lady in the tub.
15 months and I’ll admit… I’ve been a little rough lately. Most the time everything is basically fine. Most nights of the week… I have cried. Sometimes… a lot. It’s hard trying to get excited about life… this new life… when the crushing reality hits that I simply miss what my life was before April 22, 2018. I miss Kateri sooo much… it just sucks.
I hope you have as many good people in your lives as I do… whether that’s friends, family, or co-workers… I’ve got some good ones.
Yup, the cold frame kinda took a beating this winter. Glass and eight feet of snow don’t always mix… but shit still grows!
Well… as of today it has been a year since I started jotting some thoughts down pertaining to this whole widower thing on this little bloggery I have called Thirty Days of Mo(u)ring. Yup… a year. I have published 74 (75 now!) posts, learned a bit about how these things work, learned a bit about myself, have gotten some lovely words of encouragement, and have had strangers come into my world that I would now consider my friends… ish. I had absolutely no idea what I was gonna be doing with this blog, how I was gonna do it, or really even why (still don’t), but a few people have reached out to me to say “thanks for sharing… it has helped me get through my shit.”… and I can’t tell you how much that warms my innards.
There are so many things that I want to share, but being a widower is hard… and it takes time away from life. A year. It’s weird to think about all that has happened in that year… and all that I thought would happen. At this point last year, I hadn’t yet finished the upstairs bathroom that Kateri and I started to remodel before cancer… but I finally did… and I took a bath. I hadn’t yet rearranged the living room into a configuration that Kateri would never see. I hadn’t yet gotten on Widow/Widower support groups to try and promote my blog… and then find out that I didn’t wanna share it on that platform because it felt more like self promoting than being supportive. I hadn’t yet gotten on dating apps because of the curiosity… and crushing loneliness. One of my best friends hadn’t yet left Ned for Arizona… cutting off one of our last connections to a town I absolutely loved. Our closest friends here in the Upper Valley (the one Kateri always wanted to live next to, to be neighbors with until we grew old) hadn’t yet decided to start taking steps to relocate for other exciting opportunities. I hadn’t yet been to Atlantic City where “Angel” approached me asking if I wanted to “conversate” in my hotel room (I didn’t). My boss and good friend hadn’t yet left work to make another go at opening another successful restaurant. Old friends hadn’t yet come to Vermont to sit on my porch for the first time… solely because they knew I needed them. My mother had cancer in her brain a year ago… and doesn’t as of today!… (now we’re just waiting for it to clear from her lungs… CT scan today). There have been a lot of changes and learning experiences in the past year. On this day last year… it hadn’t even been three months since I heard Kateri take her last breath as I held her arm with two of our best friends sitting next to her… and holding me.
I wish I could say I’m in better shape than I was a year ago, but I’m not too sure I can say that. They say time heals… but so far I still feel it just changes things. Personally, I’m constantly overwhelmed, constantly worried about money and everything attached to it (I’m a worry wort), constantly trying to “figure out” things that can’t be figured out, constantly trying to do things that make me happy… and always trying to find more hours in the day to fit it all in. Just because I have moved further away from that horrible horrible date, it hasn’t exactly made it easier. I have been forced to manage my grieving and sadness because life doesn’t stop. I still have to go to work, take care of responsibilities, take care of the house, the chickens, deal with the blah, blah, blah… and fit the emotional stuff in when I can. Sometimes it will just show up and I have to either suppress it because I’m about to go back into work or I’m at the store or something. Sometimes, I’m in a place where I can let it go… like sitting in my car in my driveway when I just get home… or in my bed writing a blog. Either way… it’s a hard thing to manage… and a stupid thing to have to manage. It also doesn’t hurt less… it’s just more sporadic.
I know this all sounds pretty depressing… as if there was very little joy in my world… but that’s not the case. It’s a very manic experience being a widower… kind of all over the place emotionally and psychologically. Which just means there are times I’m doing well and feel pretty good about the direction I’m going… and then there are times I need to take a break from writing blogs or thinking about whatever to just go outside and dead-head the daisies in the planters on the porch… because it provides me with a sorta connection to Kateri… she loved dead-heading flowers. She would say, “Pop their little heads off” or simply “Off with their heads!”… and it made her happy. I loved seeing Kateri happy.
I guess that’s one goal of sharing your life with whoever in whatever capacity… to see them happy… which makes us happy. It doesn’t always happen… and sometimes things happen that we just can’t be happy about… but they’re gonna happen anyways. Sometimes, there are days where we just want to stay in comfy clothes, smoke a pinner, eat ice cream, and watch re-runs of Friends. But the joint burns out, the ice cream gets eaten, Friends move on to short lived spin-offs or other endeavors… and we all have to put our pants on to start a new day.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I should probably take the home phone and internet out of Kateri’s name at some point… but I’m really afraid of losing my number!
I look down a lot when I walk… so I miss shit.
I’ve been wanting to get Kateri’s truck up and running. I loved seeing her in it… and currently it would be helpful to move wood!
Kateri’s dream car was a Toyota with a wooden bed… such the Vermonter!
I’ve noticed I’ve been able to remember some of the fun stuff from before the pile of shit… which is such a nice corner to turn within this process. It doesn’t happen a ton, but when it does… it’s just so warming.
Yup, I could eat better, sleep better, and just take care of myself better… but I’m doing good enough.
Thank you to everyone who has checked my shit out! It makes me feel warm and fuzzy…. even though it’s hot and humid.
I haven’t actually made it to the upstairs bathroom yet… might be dragging my feet. I have decided to trim the beard down to a less “mangy” length… as a friend had described it. I personally like to think of it as “shabby” or “unkempt”. Whatever you call it… I rather enjoy it. Unfortunately, it’s also hot… and I work in kitchens.
It feels a little strange to think that I’m about to take clippers to the face. I’ve talked about it a lot… trimming… just haven’t found the time… or at least the right time. I’ve become attached to the beard as it has grown since Kateri’s death. As a widower, it has sorta helped me feel better. It makes me feel different than I was in my life with Kateri… because I look different. There was a point last summer where I found myself looking in the mirror and I didn’t recognize myself… not my face… not who I was… not my life. It was an odd experience… and not just because of the beard (which was obviously shorter then). But I found comfort in the fact that Kateri would’ve loved how long my facial hair was getting as well as it being something new in my new life… and I didn’t have to do anything! A year later… I feel as though this is almost my identity now… the small guy with a big beard!
If you’re a widower… I suggest you grow a beard… unless it’s patchy or you aren’t allowed to because of some stupid shit like “work”. I simply think it is a fun way to get a little different perspective of yourself… as you are trying to figure out who you are in this new life. Sometimes, you’ll get past using the beard as kind of a crutch (sounds silly… I know… but in many ways it’s true)… and trim it when you are ready for a change… or because it’s been in the 80’s for more than a week! (FYI… I don’t plan on going shorter than an inch… but we’ll see..?!)
Yup, now I’m gonna start to grow the beard back out!… I miss it.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It’s weird to think there are people in my life now that only know me with a beard.
Yes… I pretty much wear either my red or hunter-orange stocking cap when it’s not warm… or my John Deere hat the rest of the time. I’m pretty exciting.
Well, currently sitting in my garage because it’s cooler than the front porch right now and I don’t wanna be inside. I just let the chickens out so that they could feel the grass between their toes… and eat all the ticks. Today is one of those days that I’m willing to risk having to deal with death so that the chickens can enjoy being chickens. (when you live in the woods… there are creatures that rather enjoy eating chicken for dinner… hopefully not tonight, though!) Yup, today I’m just going with the flow. It’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the last week or two… which has been both good and… well… aggravating on some fronts.
Independence Day was fantastic. A friend and I had a wonderfully Vermonty 4th of July with parades (well… a parade), swimming holes, creamies, grilled burgers, macaroni salad, homemade key lime pie (not my home), fireworks and all! It kinda sucked getting a flat tire on the way down to the fireworks… and having the wheel decide it didn’t wanna come off for a bit even though the lug nuts were on the asphalt… but the spare made it on and we made it in time to watch shit explode! Personally, I love the fact that we both sorta rolled with it. We tried something with the tire… didn’t work… I tried it again! Oh hey, my AAA is non-existent…?… let’s try yours! Once we actually got to the point that a tow truck was coming, I just started to kick one side of the tire and it popped off! So we canceled the wrecker, threw on the full size spare (thank God… or something… that it was full size), drove to the town just south of the parking lot we were in, and enjoyed the rest of the evening! Rolling with it!… until it cost me $303 to throw 4 old tires on the Jeep and to replace the sensor that the flat tire destroyed. (Actually still rolling with it at that point… just reluctantly)
A couple of days later, Saturday, I woke up with tears puddled up on my eyeballs and lids. Now… I just need to say… this was one of the stranger “Widower” experiences I have had. I guess it isn’t really all that strange, but it hasn’t happened to me much… if at all… until Saturday. Oh, I’ve woken up and then started crying… but this was different. There was accumulation of salty water on my closed eye lids! When I moved my head I could feel the streams roll over my cheeks into my beard and ears.
I don’t really remember what the dream was about, it wasn’t anything serious or big, but Kateri was in it… both of us were… together. The odd part for me was that I was sorta watching this dream as a third person. There wasn’t a big event happening or anything… it wasn’t like it was our wedding… Darren2 and Kateri were for the most part just going about their lives. It was the fact that I was witnessing these two people just plugging away… and it crushed me. Neither one of them had any idea of what direction their life was gonna take… they had no idea of the pain that they both would face. The physical, psychological, and emotional pain that cancer was gonna cause Kateri… and the pain of having to live a life I (he… Darren2) didn’t plan on… nor care as much for. Seeing Darren2 and Kateri happy without the big pile of poop… before the big pile of poop plopped down… just sorta crushed me in my dream… which is something I guess can make you cry while your asleep.
And now!… I’m gonna go do something else… where there’s less mosquitos! (I feel like mosquitos should stay out of garages! Little bastards.)
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
The whole widower experience has this loneliness thing attached to it all the time… it’s just there… hanging with me.
I found this card from Kateri yesterday as I was making two stands in the garage. It was in the coffee table that Trilla had given us eons ago. It didn’t hit me hard when I found it… I wasn’t emotionally floored or anything… it just kinda made me feel good. It felt nice to see her handwriting and to think about what was happening at that time (there was a reference because she always dated notes and cards). It was comforting. It was good to feel the love I have for Kateri take the lead… instead of the sorrow that comes along when you aren’t able to tell someone you love them because the world had other ideas.
I feel like I just need to keep going… keep moving… I haven’t been doing that. I’ve been doing what needs to get done and that’s about it. There’s this lack of motivation which I think is feeding into the whole “not feeling so great” all the time. I’m thinking it’s still part of the whole overwhelming aspect of this life of one.
I’m pretty sure I would be a good recluse… who welcomes visitors.
I wish I didn’t love my house or have so many attachments to it. I would sell it in a heartbeat, load up the Jeep, and just start driving. That’s the challenge with living in a cute little schoolhouse as a widower… there’s no way I would ever be able to buy something like this on my own… so I’m not giving it up!… which means no loading up the Jeep… yet. (Hmmm, I wonder if I have lost it in the noggin enough that I would take Lil’ Bitch with me on a 6 month long road trip…? Just me and my chicken!)
I bought a new phone!… and miss using my old one.
Wow… this seems like a very Eeyore… ish post! Besides being somewhat overwhelmed, somewhat numb, and just kinda blah… life is actually pretty decent.
FYI… I can hear my chickens pecking at the paint on the side of my garage. Awe… I’ve got smrt chickens!
I’m just gonna say it… I just lost my shit (the emotional sobbing type) after reading someone’s post on FB. Yup, lost it. Loooosssst…… It. I was just so surprised by what this person had written! It was beautiful! It was powerful! It was posted by someone who was a part of my life in a time when I wore much smaller shoes. (well, not much smaller shoes… but smaller…. I was a kid) The post was touching, I had an attachment to the person… and there was a picture! It had all the makings of a moving moment! And then… then!… I realized it was one of those “copy and paste if you stand for/care for/believe in/proud of/hashtag whatever” things!… and everything changed.
Now, I need to say thanks to whoever wrote that little note… it was fantastic… but it was kind of a weird experience. I found it amusing that I put soooo much into that post… emotionally… in the beginning. One moment I’m losing my mind thinking about how beautifully my friend had shared their feelings about this or that because it made me think about Kateri… and then the realization came and it all stopped… and I laughed at myself. (memories of the person and her age now, her family, how the words made me think of Kateri, the wonderful picture of this woman and her big ass smile… all played a part in my dramatic reaction… I think)
Part of it is my lack of social media participation in the whole “copy this” or “play that” scene. The other part is it went from all of that… everything that I had attached to the post… all the nostalgia… to simply words on a screen that someone took the time to copy and paste. Still a moving post… just not the same… for me.
Just so the record is straight… I love that this person copied/pasted/and participated with this particular post. And the reason the post meant so much to me at first is because of my love for this person and I could see them sharing the wisdom themselves. It was just funny to me how my mind went in one direction… and then abruptly stopped. It just sorta slammed on the brakes so that it could see where it was… and then it realized it was on the good ol’ trusty roller coaster again.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Michelle helped me plant up Kateri’s pots this last weekend. It was much more emotional than I expected. I don’t know why… I mean, I went into Kateri’s Potting Shed to get Kateri’s planter’s and pots so that I could go to Kateri’s work to plant them up so as to put them on our deck… which is now mine. Hmmmm… didn’t see that coming!
I pulled over in front of my house to take the pic of the empty pots in the back of the Jeep… and two cars drove past. I wondered if they thought I was a tourist taking a picture of my house… and then I realized I wasn’t parked in the safest place.
Quiche. Friends that make quiche… keep them around… they sometimes give you some.
ummm… I’m the one who over cooked it when I was heating it back up
I’m still not sleeping. I’m getting about 5-6 hours a night… until Sunday comes around. Not because of anything in particular… just can’t put myself to bed. Sometimes it makes me feel like a kid… staying up. Sometimes I’m doing something that makes me feel good like playing guitar or catching up with a friend. Usually I’m not doing anything except thinking about a million little things… or at least 23 little things… maybe 5 big things… and it’s kind of annoying.
I’ve read and heard that the second year of widowhood is harder than the first…. and I don’t know if I agree with that… yet. It’s just different. The shock is wearing off and reality is setting in a bit more. I can somewhat rationally think about things… which can be sorta difficult to deal with.
The first year is simply fucked up… but I was also sorta numb through it. The second year (I’m at the start of it), you are able to understand just how fucked up it is as your mind gains a smidgen of clarity.
As more hours and days have piled up behind me, at least I don’t have to worry if I remembered to put pants on… I’m usually pretty sure that I did!
This simply… hit me. I miss her. And right now… it hurts.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I wish I could fill in the details of what all that evening entailed… a later date perhaps.
It was an absolutely beautiful experience. It’s a beautiful memory… minus… you know.
For me… it had kind of a similar feeling as at our wedding…sorta… ish. I/we were surrounded by nothing but friends and family who were there because they loved us… and there was a celebration!… with American Flatbread… and Zero Gravity beer… and Luke cooked a mammal over a flame… and a lot of the same people. A lot of good… good people.
I’ve gotta tell you… I meant to post this Yesterday. I felt good Yesterday. Yesterday was a good day… for no particular reason… just one of those nice, early summer days. Yup, good ol’ Yesterday. Now, Today is good, too. There isn’t really anything I could say that put a damper on Today… no big emotional moments… work was kinda fun… heck, I’m currently on my porch again… while listening to chickens as they scratch about… hopefully eating up all the ticks in the yard! Actually, I’ve had a good couple of days. I’ve been wanting to share some of the “Big Life” questions that I’ve been tackling lately… those that come along with losing your spouse… but I haven’t really had the time that I would want to devote to those topics.
Sooooo, Yesterday… I figured I would do something quick and make another video. Wasn’t sure what I was gonna blab on about as my shoulder would start to ache while holding my phone at that stupid angle, but I figured it was quicker than writing about “Big Life” questions n shit! And again… there wasn’t anything quick about it. I’m a cook and I have no idea about “formats” or “upload errors” or “bandwidth”… and I don’t even know if “bandwidth” applies to this situation!… but I wasn’t able to “upload” the video until Today… after spending all night trying to force it into my media folder. Which is fun… when you have no idea of what it is you are doing! Long story short… I wanted to do something… which ended up being some ramblin’ and playing a quick little ditty on my guitar… on the porch. (Disclaimer-Another again… I’m a cook.)
ps… there’s a follow button somewhere around here… and it’s ok if you share… really… unless your momma won’t let ya. (kd)
I just got home from spending the day at an ESOP Conference up in B-Town. What is an ESOP you ask? Employee Stock Ownership Plan (look it up!). Yup, I work for one… and went to a conference where they had seminars and stuff about them… which also had me start my day at 5:30am with a nice little drive across The Green Mountain State. It was one of those beautiful drives where you would crest a hill to see a bed of fog at the bottom of a green valley. It’s funny to think that the hills are gonna just get more green… “make you thirsty” green. Anyways, the hills made the postcards proud this morning.
Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what this is about. I was about to go play some guitar in the garage… because I’m sure my neighbors really enjoy it when I do!… but just felt I needed to get back to this… Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning. I had a thought I wanted to get down, but by the time my computer got all booted up… it was gone… or at least morphed into a mish mosh of 25 other thoughts! That seems to happen a lot lately. Almost 14 months into this and the overwhelming/confused/sorta lost aspect of losing Kateri hasn’t diminished as much as I expected. The loneliness aspect is starting to set in again. I’m staying on top of everything I need to and there are things I enjoy… but it currently still sucks balls.
I was going to throw something on FB saying I was heading up to see if anyone was around… but I didn’t. Then after the conference I was gonna text this person or that person or swing by that family’s home around the corner… but I didn’t. I just wanted to get home. One strange thing about this experience is I want to reconnect with so many people… I want to start spending time with friends and meet new ones. I want to do fun things like camp or hit a show or simply have a nice dinner. I want to keep people in my world and not let them slip away because we were all just “living our lives”. But at the same time… I want solitude. I want to be alone to have the peace and quiet as my mind tries to wrap itself around what it is that I’m actually doing with my life… what it is that makes me happy. I feel I need time to take care of all the things that need attention, which cuts into time for other things… like people. It’s kinda messed up.
OK… back to the ESOP Conference (Yes Keith… ESOP). I really enjoyed it. It was informative. They had comfortable chairs. I liked everyone I was there with. It was nice to change up my week. I learned something at every workshop that I’ll be able to take back to work with me and hopefully have a positive impact on my department as well as the company. But what has been on my mind since the last twenty minutes of the last workshop was… the last twenty minutes of the last workshop.
The Best Way to Engage Employee Owners: Tell a Story… that was the last workshop. In the last twenty minutes, the last exercise was that we were to tell our partners our story of why we work for an ESOP… why we stay working at an ESOP. Jay told me a story that happened the other day which reinforced his reasons of why he works at our company and when it was my turn… I told him I would have to go with what the company was able to give me when Kateri was sick, when she passed, and afterwards. Time… and that whole story.
After this little exercise is what has been on my mind. Once the room settled down and was quiet again, one of the speakers asked if anyone wanted to share their story… silence. You could see the panic in some people’s eyes… and I heard my muffled name come from the peanut gallery behind us as a fellow KAFer egged me on to tell a story. The speaker took a few steps up the center aisle and asked, “Is there anyone willing to tell their story?”. Again… silence… and I said fuck it! (I didn’t literally say it… just in my head) I figured this was an opportunity to see how I would do standing up in front of people… while talking. It was an opportunity to push the ol’ comfort levels. It was an opportunity to share something that adds humanity to the conversation of business. And to be frank, if I want to see where TDoM takes me…? if I really do want to get my story out there…? I need to tell it… so I took the opportunity to do just that. When not a single other person even made a hint of wanting to ramble off a random story… that they had just formulated in the last five minutes… in front of 40-50 people… I did.
Now… I think it may have been a little heavy for the audience. I don’t think anyone was expecting an Axeless Mountain Dwarf to stand up in front of them and start with, “I came to an ESOP for the benefits, quality of life, blah blah blah…” and then take the turn into how our company, “gave me time… when my wife got sick. They gave me time to hold her when she took her last breath. And they gave me time in the weeks afterwards.” I spoke about why I am forever grateful to the people I work next to, day in and day out, who have supported me through this big pile of shi… poop… and why I believe the culture an ESOP fosters is just as important as the retirement fund it creates. Nope… I don’t think they were expecting that. But neither was I.
I’ve gone back and forth for the last few hours wondering if I should’ve just sat there with the rest of the crowd… but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m happy I did it. It was a good thing for me to do. Although I hope I didn’t put a damper on everyone’s day, I’m comfortable with the experience. After the workshop was over, I was approached by Barbara as she thanked me for sharing my story. David (the other speaker) also stuck around and the three of us had a conversation. David has authored a couple of books and after my whole blog and “book” idea (which I haven’t done anything about) came up in the conversation, he gave me his card and said I could use him as a resource… networking!
The conversation with Barbara and David after getting up in front of strangers to tell my story is one of the reasons I’m glad I decided to say “Fuck It”. Was it a bit much of a story for that environment?… maybe. Do I regret doing it?… no. Do I think it people took something away from it?… yes. What that is?… I’m not sure.. but by the looks on people’s faces… it made an impact!
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
My phone says the Bruins are still playing… so I can’t trim the beard. I still have no idea about hockey.
I haven’t checked to see if Kateri’s emails have reached 6,000 yet.
Fire pits are wonderful things to sit by and think. It doesn’t hurt that burning things is fun.
The geraniums finally went outside and I cleaned up the front room… and then brought one geranium back in… because I’m afraid of killing all three! (picture is before I brought it back in… there aren’t any geraniums in that picture. There’s a Brugmansia, Hibiscus… if I remember correctly, Aloe that I finally put in a pot… but no Geranium)
Being alone kinda sucks, but its probably for the best when you can smell your own feet… and it grosses you out.
ps… yup, smack the little follow button if you want…? or maybe the like button…? maybe…?
First, I just need to say that this post is pretty much a “Widower” post… not sad or anything… it’s not reminiscing about how great and wonderful and beautiful and honest and perfect Kateri was (is)… it’s about after that. For the last two days I have been copying, pasting, increasing indents… still gotta add some pics, and trying to finalize the little “My Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning” site page on this here bloggy website thing a ma jig. Which meant… I read my notes. And we all know what that means! Actually, there weren’t any waterworks the last two days… or maybe just not the last day… but, it was really kinda nice going through the notes and being able to just… remember… ponder… compare times… to simply think about them… without any convulsing, sniffing, or snorting of snot. (Kateri would always say, “Out is better than in!” if I decided to suck the snot in… instead of destroying a kleenex)
Long story short… here’s a list of observances and epiphanies (not many epiphanies, but it sounds good) and some things that have just been swirling up in the ol’ noggin… at 13 months a widower.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I think I’ve eaten enough Smarties to tell if they are “fresh” or not… it’s a texture thing.
I feel as though the further away I get from the day that Kateri died… the more I’m able to think about her. I mean, at first it was all I could think about… but it included everything!… the whole situation! I look forward to just rememberin’ Kateri… and the life we had.
I still haven’t gotten “angry” at the situation. At first, I think I tried to be overly positive. Partly because I just went through an overly negative experience and I was trying to compensate. More importantly, and a bit more on the “Who am I?” question side, I just saw some of the most beautiful things during a time filled with the most horrendous… I simply like the good shit more. That’s the train I wanna be on.
Point 1-I’m also still sorta numb and in a fog… not fog… but fog. With the loss of Kateri and everything that has come along with it… there just aren’t too many “Big Deals” in my world. I mean, the are “Big Deals” (Food, Schoolhouse, Car, Warmth)… and then… teeny tiny issues that may pop up.
Point 2-As more and more time comes between today and the day Kateri died, it makes it harder to keep that train going… being positive all the time. Fortunately, I still find it easy to recover from a negative experience, situation, or thought… I just lost Kateri… Helloooo?! Whatever the issue is… it ain’t a Big Deal to me.
Point 3-Pants on?… check. Good enough… for a lot of the time.
Point 4-It’s a learning thing. I still take a step and if it’s good?… take another. If it’s not good?… maybe don’t do that again… but there’s always another step coming.
Point 5-When one of your points are still “Point 3″… 395 Widower Days later… it makes it easier to try and enjoy the rest of what’s going on around ya.
Everything that I have done… and am going to do with the yard will have Kateri in mind. Last summer was a bust.
Sleep… I have gotten comfortable with 5 hours of sleep a night. It’s not that I don’t sleep, it’s that I just can’t put myself to bed! Once in bed… horizontal… out like a light (that has been turned off), but getting to the horizontal stage is the challenge. There’s just too much that I feel I need to do… and want to do. I think it might be part of the whole “I don’t wanna miss out on life” thing. I was given a lesson on how quickly things can end… can just go away… and I wanna fill my life with as much time awake doing things I wanna do that I just can’t put myself to bed.
I also made the decision at the beginning of this big pile of shit that if I have the opportunity to have a conversation with someone… to have an interaction… to connect with them for whatever reason… I was going to. That connection is more important to me than sleep.
The loneliness a widow or widower feels is one of those significantly unique things in life that only a person knows when they lose their spouse… and it is the worst feeling I have ever felt. There are just soooo many things that goes into that loneliness… that it physically hurts. Here at the schoolhouse in the woods, the stillness and separation from people can be both therapeutic and calming… or deafening and crushing. Just depends on the day.
The overwhelming feeling hasn’t gone away, but I feel I have learned how to manage it better.
Another sucky thing about these types of experiences… I have been forced to learn how to “manage” things… like emotions… so that I can simply function in life. At the beginning, I didn’t care who saw me being emotional and I didn’t care where it was… still don’t… but it does get to be a little old.
Although the cliche sayings (Maria’s and my “Dr. Phil Moments”) bug the shit out of me (time heals, one day at a time… one hour, it’ll get better, it’s different for everyone, she would want you to be happy, pants on—check)… they still have value and are quite accurate.
I’m sorry, the whole “they would want you to be happy” thing is nice and all, but there are complicated topics to face as a widower. Such as, I know Kateri would not want me to be having Naked Sexy Fun Time… with anyone… but hopefully I still have a long life ahead of me… and I have no plans on becoming monk. (I had a thing about priests right here on the original post… but thought better of it and decided to not offend a pretty good sized group of people… I hate growing up)
I have been simply amazed by people. The love and support I have gotten in the past thirteen and a half months from varying places, friends, family, new friends, and strangers has been heart warming, comforting, and sometimes unexpected.
I should have paid better attention over the last 20 years. There are things in my house that I have to ask, “Where did we get that?” or “Who gave us this?”. At times, my brain actually goes, “I should ask Kateri where/when/who…”, and then I remember she’s not here to ask. That’s one of those all sorts of fucked up moments.
I’ve learned that even though we may go through some pretty horrific experiences in life that seem to be all consuming, we still have things of value that we are able to share with other people who are searching for their own answers.
After thirteen and a half months… I simply miss everything about my life with Kateri. Although there are good things in my new life, I feel it was just better with her… and that makes it bit hard to get excited about the future… but I tell myself that I am.
I’m still wearing my wedding ring, but have started thinking about weening myself off of it. Thinking about… just can’t do it yet. It’s the one thing that provides me with the most connection to Kateri… to my wife… to the commitment I made to her… to the love that I have for her… and the love that she had for me. I’m not ready for that weight to come off of my ring finger.
Yup, that’s enough sad widower shit for a Sunday morning… I gave it it’s time. Now, it’s time to get excited about friends coming to make cookies and family coming to catch up. It may be a horrendous experience losing a spouse, but cookies and conversations help ease the pain and burden of having to go through it… and I’m thankful for the people who help me get through the day… one day at a time. (stoopid Dr. Phil Moments!)
Yup, the ol’ Adirondack Chairs that Kateri and I had bought 15 years ago from The Christmas Tree Shop finally bit the dust. Well, one of them had a run in with a chunk of snow that jumped off the roof this winter… I probably should have moved it before then… oops. In all honesty, they lasted ten years longer than we expected them to! Of course, we treated them pretty well. In the beginning we would bring them into the house as our “winter furniture”. We didn’t have anything else besides a papasan and the stool (our first piece of “furniture” which I still use by the woodstove) and if you add a cushion to an Adirondack Chair… they are quite comfy to sit back in and watch a movie!
It’s a little weird seeing something that has been a part of my life… a part of mine and Kateri’s life… start to go away… and I’ve realized I’m not exactly ready for that. So I decided to take apart the broken chair, trace each piece, cut ’em out, sand them, and reassemble the same Adirondack Chair… with new wood. I wanted to keep the memories, but needed to replace enough of the chair that I decided it was a good opportunity for a fresh start… and for a project. It was fun blaring music, setting up saw horses, and pulling out the old power tools. A friend had just come and helped me organize the garage the day earlier so it was nice to have an open work space after the winter, too! I hadn’t work in the garage since last fall (it’s kinda cold out there in the winter) and it just felt a little bit like summer… early summer… late spring with fires still in the woodstove. It felt good. Comfortable.
I’m glad the chairs will have an attachment to my memories with Kateri… that I didn’t just go and buy some random piece of patio furniture because it was convenient or inexpensive. Kateri would have dug the fact that I took apart a chair and built new ones. If she was around she would just let me go and do my thing in the garage while she would dig in the dirt. I would proudly bring out the finished product and place them on the porch… and we would sit. I can picture her sliding her dirt covered hands back and forth on the arm rests… leaving little dark trails on the freshly sanded wood. All part of testing them out… of breaking them in… of enjoying them and the things they provided us.
Yup, Kateri would dig them and that puts a smile on my face. That’s the “widower” sad side of the chairs (filled with a ton of good memories and stories), but we live in the present and I’m walking into the future. I look forward to sitting on the porch in one of those new Adirondack Chairs, maybe for hours, and maybe in silence. Then again… maybe not! I did make TWO chairs! That’s the perfect number of chairs needed for a conversation on the porch! I mean, there are other seating options and space to accommodate at least 4 other people… but I’m not making another chair for a while. And just so you know, if you are ever sitting on my porch with me… you will witness me wave to every car that drives past. Except one. I have my reasons.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Hours… I just need more hours. But, don’t we all?!
I’m not trimming the beard till at least the 12th… because of hockey… or some shit. I don’t have any idea about hockey. Kateri was always impressed by how light on the ice such big men could be, but past that… not a part of our life. Someone at work told me I couldn’t… so I figure it’s been 9 months since the last trimming… what’s another couple of weeks?!
I actually started another bloggery thing the other day that I meant to finish and throw out to the ether yesterday. The whole 13 months gig… a year since I finished my Thirty Days of Mourning notes… reading through them… just made me want to share my thoughts on that day!… but I didn’t. And I’m not gonna today, either. (neither?)
My evening last night was instead filled with friends showing up on their motorcycles right when I told my mom that I didn’t have company… and then me calling her back at the end of my night. It was a wonderful and entertaining visit… it always is. I texted with besties about steroids. I ate a strip steak that had been cooked to a perfect 125 degrees… sliced… and served over pearled couscous and steamed broccoli that was almost not over cooked. I’m happy I’ve spent 24 years in kitchens… and that I have a thermometer… and seasoning salt! (Having the ability to cook for yourself is quite beneficial as a widow/widower. Actually doing it?… that’s another story!) There was some guitar… but just some. There was a text… followed by five more… one being a picture of Kateri and the Text Sender in front of the Text Sender’s family’s sugarhouse from a few years back. Both of them with winter hats, scarves, and smiles… two, big beautiful smiles… because they were happy. Kateri was happy.
Kateri loved this woman with a huge chunk of her heart. She was proud of her. She trusted her… with her life (there are examples). And the text sender loves Kateri (yes, there are examples of that, as well). For me last night, it felt nice to sorta remember some of the good shit (just starting to be able to do that… one of those kind of fucked up things as a widower) and to remember there are a lot of wonderfully caring people that the loss of Kateri has affected. It also just felt nice to feel that love myself… in a picture sent from one side of Vermont to the other, with words on a little screen followed by little hearts, and from the 18 years of friendship that preceded the Text Sender sending the text last night. The Text Sender was sad because she loves Kateri. She reached out last night because of her love for me. Yup… that’s “The Good” in the big pile of shit.
Ya… so, last night was filled with people… and that’s what I needed. I’m sure I’ll finish the other post sooner or later. Tonight though?… it’s rainy, windy, and now dark… the perfect combination for comfy clothes and mindlessness!
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I just wanted to throw in a picture from last night of me taking a picture of the chicken who thought it was a good idea to eat the paint off of the deck… which I call my front porch… that happens to be on the side of the schoolhouse.
I’ve been thinking a lot about other widowers and widows lately… more so than in the past. I think that the whole “Time heals” bullshit has something to do with that. Plus, I belong to two support groups (1 just widowers, 1 widowers/widows) and it’s kinda hard not to feel for people who are going through… or who have been through… what I’m experiencing when they pop up all over your Gosh Darn (trying to be respectful) Facebook feed! In all seriousness, I’m not exactly a “support group” kinda guy and I definitely don’t engage as much as other people, but the names on the screens and the words of support I see them write to strangers has provided me with an unmeasurable amount of encouragement for not only my life to keep moving forward, but for theirs as well! It has just been one of those things that has pleasantly caught me by surprise.
I’m at a point where some of the fog is starting to lift and my mind isn’t fully consumed by figuring out how to just “survive”… the shock is dissipating, I guess. A few other people who have lost their loved ones (spouses) have reached out to me… and I can’t tell you how wonderful that makes me feel… that they found some sort of connection to what I was saying or that it put them, at the least, a little bit at ease knowing they weren’t the only ones going through this horrendous experience. They could see there are other people who somewhat understood their pain… which is unrelenting at the beginning of this life changing event.
Soooo, on this beautifully overcast and chilly Vermont Sunday morning I decided to jump back on the ol’ blog and update the “My Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning” page with adding the first 6 days of notes from my experience being alone in the world again after nearly 20 years with Kateri. I’m currently in the first anniversary month of my Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning and it’s nice to use it as sort of a gauge to how I’ve changed, coped, and dealt with this slap in the face from life. I’ll admit… it’s a little strange looking back at these notes a year later, but I love the fact that I can remember most of it so clearly. Of course, revisiting pictures makes for a lovely emotional Sunday morning… but it’s nice to recognize that it’s a different time, it’s a different space, and that I’m different. I don’t know if I can say “Better”… there’s a lot that goes into that… but I can definitely say things have changed… and that I’m ok. I’m may even be good… ish… and I hope you all are, too.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Widower Day 6… (April 28, 2018). Woke up at 6:58am on the couch… in the same position.
Took truck to recycling in Thetford
a. Broke the law (not my town’s dump… shhh), saw Joan, she turned right. I figured if she was going to the orchard that it would give me an in… so I followed her, so I could meet a neighbor. Laying down foundation. b. John and Peggy c. Beautiful view d. Sprayed me with tick shit. New thought… I am going to constantly be paranoid of ticks since I now don’t have that person to Tick Check me (Tick Check Yourself before You Wreck Yourself…).
Took Jeep to Kmart for more green bins. (For Kateri’s clothes)
Drove to Hannaford’s in Bradford. Figured I should have at least a little bit of food I know I would eat, but don’t have to make.
a. Interesting how I’m a cook, but I was buying things I only needed to heat up. b. First real shopping trip shopping for just me… odd sensations, realizations.
Went to Local Buzz for a sandwich.
a. Abby made it for me. Came up from behind me. b. Same approach as Wild Hill Orchard… I need to step out of my comfort zone if I want the keep the same types of things that Kateri provided for me. I would pretty much never go get a sandwich by myself and bring it home to eat. c. Got a pack of smokes from The Bliss (not sure if that is the name of it).
Called Will… he and Kate came over.
a. Brought enchiladas, mole, guac, beans, chips b. Chatted in the kitchen and then on the deck… sunny, warm c. Will called an hour later mentioning that he can always come over and we can just smoke a joint.
Tidied the garage.
a. As I type this, I realize it is giving me “purpose”… something to do, something that keeps my mind going… even if it is about what I am going through. b. Built a support for plywood. Moved wood to middle so that I have space to move around and to start setting up the garage for the beginning of my life. c. Threw scrap wood in black cart, baby rocker to shed, wheelbarrow.
Flipping through pictures, I came across the 3 I had taken of Kateri (the morning she died)… didn’t shock me as much as I expected it to. I was conflicted about taking the pictures, but I felt I need to have the option of being able to see her… I find the picture beautiful with the army blanket… I just love her and found it to be somewhat peaceful.
a. Deleted one photo b. Didn’t take any other photos at Palliative.
Had a Fire.
a. Figured… why not? I’ve got a fire pit. Burnt all scrap wood from garage except planter box and piece of house (would be good to start the next fire). b. Light out for the whole thing. Sun just starting to go down. Chickens just roosting up… I watched them march to the coop. c. Used old gasoline to start… ya, stoopid… but kinda fun (kept thinking “WFC Style”). It got a little big at one point… need to expand the ring. d. Looked around—this is all mine… just an odd feeling and made me think about the fact that I wouldn’t have this without Kateri… no bank would give me a loan off of what I make. Lucky that I have all of this in a time I am dealing with such sorrow and loss. I’ll figure the money shit out… hopefully.
Took a shower. Facetimed my P’s. Planned on watching Justice League (Kateri loved superhero movies… those where really the only types of movies we would go out and see… “big screen movies”), facetimed with Keith.
a. I haven’t really been able to cry when I’m alone. Talking with my P’s and Keith I got a little weepy… I was able to release a little. It’s strange all the different types of emotions and angles and just “things” the brain does as it tries to cope. I feel mellower emotionally, but I can’t tell if it’s any easier. b. Fell asleep on the couch again (I’m writing this from bed on Sunday… at 12:30pm. Came up at 6:30 for a “Sunday morning” and haven’t really left except for 2 smokes… and had to wash my hand after each one).
Some thoughts during the day/night:
a. Willing to invest my personal time in KAF if they are willing to invest in my future… hell, I can work at home on shit and it won’t take time away from Kateri these days. b. I still get a kick out of numbers (1234) and remember how we would text the time back and forth. c. Realized I haven’t looked at myself in the mirror for a while… don’t even know the last time. I looked hairier to myself. d. People are telling me “You did good”… no regrets type shit, but I don’t really care that they feel I have been a good husband/partner/”soulmate” through this and through our life. I only care about what Kateri would think… and I will never be able to ask her about that, if I gave her enough love/support… if she was proud of my actions through life and through this big pile of shit. (I am now crying). Just one of those mindfuck type things. The tears feel good.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It’s nice that there is no more snow at the schoolhouse. It’s not so nice that winter beat the crap out of my chimney, gutters, siding, and GAS GRILL! A few learning experiences I guess… and I get to get a new grill!
When I came out of the grocery store yesterday, I had: Milk, Cheese Dip, a frozen Chicken Pot Pie, and Oreos. Yup… my professional title is still “Sous Chef”.
The sump pump is going off every 8 minutes and 44 seconds. It was every 2 minutes and fifty seconds. We’re going in the right direction!
I’m not gonna do this for the next fifteen days or anything, but I figured it was kinda cool to revisit a year ago… that whole, “look at how much has happened since then” type thing. This has been an emotional three days, but they’ve been good. Emotional… but not exactly too much more than any other day or what was to be expected. The flood of love and support is somewhat overwhelming… in the best possible way!… but definitely adds to the waterworks.
Really, I just wanted to start year two by remembering Day 1 of this new life. Day 1 was… strange. I was exhausted. I was in shock… and in a fog. You would think it is the hardest day… the day after losing a spouse, but for me… I was numb. I just floated through it. It’s when you come out of that fog and have to live life again is when it gets tough… stoopid reality sets in.
I read through these note… thought about that day… looked back at the last three days… and I’ve gotta say that I feel good! I’m proud of myself for getting through this first year, by doing it however I thought I needed to do it. People say there isn’t a road map for this type of shit… and from what I can tell, they’re correct! I’m glad I was able to bushwhack for a bit… find my way… and I feel like there are gonna be some open spots up ahead so I’ll stay on the “as positive as possible” train for now. There are no more first anniversaries… there will no longer be days that I can say, “On this day last year, Kateri was… yada, yada, yada… alive.”. Time is a funny thing… and I’m starting to think it likes to fuck with you.
My favorite part about Widower Day 1 was Heman. Kateri and I had never met Heman… I guess Kateri just hasn’t… but we spoke about him often as we made up stories from the limited information we had acquired through the two and a half years since buying the schoolhouse. He’s a neighbor just a few houses down the road, has the bushy… somewhat frizzy big white beard, is a machinist who loves old cars (he has a beautiful old Studebaker… it’s gorgeous!), and there are stories that he has lists… that you don’t wanna be on. Kateri’s high school (?… I think) French teacher used to live down the road and he told us that once he saw his name in the ol’ 18 spot. Some time had gone by, him and Heman caught up… AND HE SAW HE WAS NUMBER 4! Didn’t know what it meant… but didn’t think it was good!
Heman is just one of those characters in life that everyone has a story about. Honestly, a vast majority of the stories I have heard from various friends and neighbors put him on a pretty high pedestal. He’s a good, honest man that will help you out if you need it… and yes, I kinda wanna be him when I grow up! (I mean, I wanna be Braedy’s dad, as well… but that’s a whole nother story that involves tractors and tighty whiteys)
I remember it was brilliantly sunny that morning… it felt nice… after, well… losing Kateri the night before. When I’m outside, especially when I’m on the porch, I wave to everyone who drives past the schoolhouse… and this loud ass purple Chevy was no exception. I watched it go by and when I heard that it stopped out front and was backing up it was kinda like… ok? this may be interesting?!… not knowing who it was at first, but when I saw that big ol’ beard… I knew exactly who it was. I can’t tell you the impact this encounter has had on my life. Although I was in a daze from just losing Kateri… I felt a smidgen of comfort. I’ve gotta tell you, Heman was nowhere near the bubble of people I thought I was gonna encounter that day, but he probably had the most profound affect on me. Day one of my new life… just happened to be the day I got to meet Heman.
Heman: Hallo… My name’s Heman… I live just down the road. Figured enough time has gone by that introductions were in order.
Me: Heman… I can’t tell you how fantastic I think it is that you stopped by today, but I’ve just gotta let you know that my wife passed away last night… and things are a little strange.
Heman: Oh, oh my gosh… I’m so sorry for stopping. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Me: That’s ok Heman. This is why Kateri and I bought this house… our first home… to set roots. I think it’s absolutely perfect that on the first day of my new life… on day one… I got to meet a neighbor… and it was you. I just wish Kateri could have been here to meet you, too.
Heman: I’m just so sorry for your loss man. If I still drank I’d invite you down to the porch for a beer, but I gave that up blah, blah, blah 2012.
Me: That’s ok Heman… I haven’t had a drink since September 9, 2006… but I smoke pot?!
Heman: SO DO I!!
Yup… and Heman basically got back into his loud ass purple Chevy, cigarillo coming dangerously close to his perfectly unkept beard, and went off to do whatever it is that Heman does.
It’s been a long strange year… and now, I’m ready to see what the next year has to offer, but this is what I did the day after Kateri died. I remember it being strange in itself to open up a computer in bed to make these notes… we never had “screens” in bed!
ps-I have yet to hang out on Heman’s porch… maybe in Year 2!
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 1… Woke up at 10:00am-to alarm-Dr. Phil moment
Just Scottie, Maria, and myself
a. Heman drove past, stopped, backed up, and pulled into our driveway. b. Figured it had been long enough and introductions should happen c. Told him my wife passed away. d. We bought this home to set roots and it meant the world to me that a neighbor… Heman… would stop by the DAY AFTER Kateri died meant so much to me as I am in the first day of my new life e. Scottie left around 12:45PM
Bobbi stopped by after checking her mail. Sat on the deck
Keith and Michelle came by. They brought me a BLT hoagie
Moose and Fam came by.
a. Went over cremation papers… decided on Wednesday. b. Made list of who would be invited to cremation c. Tony’s first time to the house. d. This is what a “home” is… a place for friends and family to gather… I’m glad I had that realization.
Chichi and Benjamin came by with 6 pizzas
a. Gave me a… card.
Never really left the front deck
Got sun burnt on my face
Facetimed with my family… they were at Dina’s house.
Went to bed at 5:00am
Widower Notes n Thought:
The first day after Kateri’s death was the first time in a long time I didn’t feel… worried. It wasn’t until a friend mentioned it up at the fire pit, but she was 100% right… that “worry”… any worries… kinda just leave you for a while. Of course, then they’re replaced by a whole new set of worries, but for a few days… everything just stops. On the “Widower” side of things… In a strange way… I kinda miss how it felt that day.
It’s 7:35 in the morning… I’ve been up for about 47 minutes… and I don’t know what the fuck to say. I do know that the first text of the day came in a bit ago… and I’ve been crying those good ol’ crocodile tears ever since. Although I don’t really care if people see or hear me being emotional, I am sorta glad that I don’t have people walking past my house on their way to work or school hearing me as I sob uncontrollably while making odd noises through my mouth because my nose is so plugged up with snot! Kateri always said, “Trees make better neighbors!”… and right now I’m glad they are the ones right outside my window listening to me cope and come to terms with the fact that I haven’t been able to hear her laugh, hold her hand while walking down the dirt road, or kiss her goodnight… like I did every… single… night. It has been a year since Kateri has not been on this earth. For 365 days I have come home to an empty house filled with memories of a life that life decided to take away from me… from all of us. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s something I don’t want… but it’s what I’ve got… and I’m glad life didn’t take away the memories.
In the winter of 1998/99… December… Wyoming… I watched Kateri walk from The Chalet (female employee housing) down to the lodge, from the window of The Stables (male employee housing). She had on her blue snow pants, her white winter coat with the god awful neon patch work, and her funky hat from Nepal or some place (I should remember where she got it… she told me… it’s just not coming to me!) keeping her head warm. Kateri would sometimes tilt her head as she walked. I found the image to be calming. We didn’t really know each other at the time… we had just met. At the time, there weren’t any romantic inclining’s yet… she was just someone I found to be interesting. She was unique. There was something different about her. Thankfully, we got along and became friends!
Twenty years later, I love the fact that the image of Kateri strolling through the snow is still clear as day in my mind… and that it was just the beginning of her filling my life with friendship, purpose, guidance, and love. It has been the surprise of my life watching this young twenty something woman from the east coast walking through the snow turn into the most important thing that ever came into my world. I am grateful and lucky that I am the one who got to spend the rest of Kateri’s life with her… I am fortunate in that way… I just wish she didn’t have to leave.
For the last 365 days… and for the four months and three days before that… I have been consumed with either the experience of watching and being a part of cancer ravish Kateri’s body and brain, the loss of Kateri, or trying to figure out how to survive without her. It’s been a struggle. I don’t eat, I find it a challenge to put myself to bed, I’m stressed out worrying about my future, my job, my home. I’m sad, I’m confused, and I hurt… this process physically hurts… but I’m here. I’m here surrounded by the memories that Kateri and I made with each other as we built our life together. She gave me twenty years of memories to draw upon when I feel the need to be close to her. She filled our home with relics which are attached to experiences over those twenty years which I can hold in my hand, I can feel, I can smell… I can touch. Kateri will always be with me… a part of me. That’s just what happens. This last year has sucked balls, but the great things that Kateri brought into this world… into my world… are still here… even if she isn’t. That is how we hold on… to the people we love more than ourselves. That is how I hold on to Kateri… because I miss her… I love her… and I always will.
ps… the video is kinda dark, but it did happen to be night time… and we were just sitting in our driveway. This is simply a minute and 18 seconds of Kateri being Kateri. Yup, sometimes she just had to finish out a song! (love ya Nina)
Although Kateri called herself a “Recovering Catholic”… she still loved the holidays and Easter was no exception. It didn’t matter if we were home or happened to be away in some dumpyish hotel near the ocean, visiting friends back in The Rockies, or with family anywhere… there was always an Easter Basket in the morning. I’ve got to mention that Kateri loved baskets, and if there was a holiday where she could make someone happy by putting little gifts and candy in a basket… she was all over it! The gravy being she got to keep the baskets afterwards!
Sorry, just gotta detour for a sec because one of Kateri’s favorite Easter events IN THE WORLD! just popped into my head. We have a couple of friends who throw an Adult Easter Egg Hunt! Now, first of all, Kateri loved these two people. (The husband was actually the nurse who was there when they had to tip her upside down to put an IV in her neck when her kidneys failed in 2004… after our trip to the Dominican. It was a scary time and she was so thankful that someone she knew was taking care of her… and that it was him. He had ever since held a special place in her heart). Anyways, these guys have some land in the hills and invite friends over for an evening/night of festivities. You see… the Easter Egg hunt happens once it get’s dark!… At night!… with flashlights n shit!… on a few acres in rural Vermont consisting of yard, woods, creek, pond, fields, barns, and culverts! It was probably one of our favorite experiences ever… I mean, at least in the top 250… there are a lot to choose from, but it’s up there!
It was hilarious. I think about 50 of us… ish… packed into the kitchen and living room of their little old farmhouse and waited for two things. 1. For it to get dark and 2. For John to come back from hiding the prize which would provide us with a “winner” of the hunt… The Black Egg. Actually it was shaped liked a kidney, but it did the job. It was obviously the best color for an Adult Easter Egg Hunt at night… and it was able to hold the prize of a couple hundred bucks for the winner!
It was nice for everyone to catch up in that time, to meet new people, to share stories… but once John came back!… it was on!… in the most polite, friendly, and supportive way an Adult Easter Egg Hunt could go! The fact that it was in the dark just killed Kateri and I! They would literally walk into the yard… drop eggs… and not find them till the next morning. You could see headlamps pointed straight down scouring fence lines, woods, around out buildings… and in them. You could hear the giggles of grown ups as they found and opened eggs filled with candy, lottery tickets, and booze. There was outright laughter echoing in the darkness as people tromped through the creek and slipped on the slick rocks. The year we participated, The Black Egg was inside… INSIDE… the 6 foot culvert running beneath the dirt road! It was simply one of those fun things in life that take you by surprise when you realize just how good of an idea it is… that everything about it is fun! Basically, it’s a night filled with good people who are simply trying to find money in a black kidney… in the dark… while drunk and stoned. (yes, it’s also fun sober… just not as fun… or challenging)
Last year, Easter fell on the 1st. It was actually three weeks before Kateri passed. It’s weird to think about… she wasn’t in Palliative Care yet. Heck, we hadn’t even received the bad news of no more options yet. Maria had just gotten to our house the day or two before… I think. She came to help… and to be with her sister. It was the three of us for the last three weeks of Kateri’s life… going through it… together. I am forever grateful to Maria for being here for many reasons, but it really comes down to the fact that I think Kateri needed her to be here. Kateri needed Maria to be with her as she was preparing to leave this earth… she needed her help… her support… her love. And Maria… needed to be with Kateri.
It’s because of Maria that I have this video taken last Easter after we had spent the morning drinking coffee and going through our Easter Baskets (Kateri got me a tent… that’s a whole nother story). I didn’t remember the video when I stumbled upon it trying to clear space on my phone, so it sorta caught me by surprise. It’s hard for me to see Kateri in the “Cancer Time” and it’s quick, but it’s Kateri… through and through… in a space she loved… with people she loved.
If you are into Easter, Jesus, and all that jive… I hope you have a good one! If not… well… Happy Sunday!
This is kinda one of those “spur of the moment” posts. It’s cloudy and a bit chilly…. with large patches of snow adding to the coolness of the image out the ol’ schoolhouse windows. I’m still in comfy clothes… from last night… because I fell asleep on the couch after watching the first scary movie… alone… in said schoolhouse… since Kateri passed away (“The Silence”. At least it wasn’t a ghost/paranormal/psychological sorta movie. And… I survived!). I actually woke up at 6 something, but was comfortable enough and warm enough, so I just decided to stay horizontal… till 9:13!… (a.m.)… and not trudge upstairs. It’s been one of those slow moving/Tupelo Honey on the radio types of mornings… and it feels good. The coffee tastes nice, dark, and strong… and I’ve already gotten to have a nice visit with a friend from down the road. I even got to pull out power tools!… and use them in my front yard while still in those comfy clothes… with the addition of rubber boots! It was literally just replacing a couple of straps… but some people… well I… will take any opportunity to fix something using tools.
Basically, I’ve enjoyed the morning. I’ve actually enjoyed the last couple of days. Last night, when I got home, I let the chickens out so that they could stretch their legs and remember what scratching in the grass and leaves from last fall feels like. I also learned that we all have a little slow motion option on our phones!… yup. As I’m going through life learning about what makes me happy, what doesn’t, and everything in between… I thought, “A slow motion video of Lil’ Bitch, Chicken, Chicken, and Chicken running to me might make me happy?!… and it did. Soooo…..