I was standing in the garage the other night doing the ol’ routine of chopping kindling and looking around wondering how I could rearrange all the crap I’ve accumulated over the years when the thought “I Live Alone in a Life Built for Two” popped into my head. It was one of those moments that just kinda creeped into the brain. As I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t exactly accurate or really even how I feel about my widowhood and life these days, although I vividly remember the times when “alone” was the feeling I had from the time I woke up in the morning to the time I went to sleep… sometimes also in the early morning hours. I’m glad I had that sorta sad thought cross my mind… it reminded me of how life isn’t stagnated… that we have our own unique ebbs and flows… and that I’m not alone. It made me bring back into focus the people who are still in my life, those who have come into my life, and although there are those whom I can no longer hold in my arms… I carry them with me as I flub through my day to day in a reality, which for decades… I could not have imagined.
I don’t know how I found it or what I was looking for when it showed up on the computer screen, but I came across an article and snippet of an interview where Steven Colbert asks, “What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves?”. The selfless simplicity of Keanu’s answer, knowing he’s had significant losses in his life, just kinda hit me when his response was, “I know that the ones that love us, will miss us.”. Thank you, Mr. Reeves, for focusing on life… even when asked about your thoughts on death. (That was totally profound, Ted… super deep. You’ve come a long way from, “All we are is dust in the wind, dude”…!)
I live a life enveloped in loss. After four years, two months, and 18 days I feel like Life is using bubble wrap to soften the loss as I ping pong against the walls of my day to day… I’m just surprised on how much packing tape Life used to keep my loss safe and secure!
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Life is different once it’s touched by loss. I still find enjoyment and happiness here and there. I love my family… and my friends. I love my girlfriend and our dog. I love my home… and am grateful to have it. I love playing my guitar in the garage or on the front porch. I love seeing the fireflies on warm summer nights and my breath on cold winter walks. I love mowing my lawn and waving to people as they drive by… and then motherfucking them for driving too fast and coating everything with dust from the dirt road. I love corndogs… with nothing but yellow mustard. But…. I go through times with this strange kind of “whatever” feeling to my existence. My goal isn’t to build a future, I don’t have many Hopes n Dreams, and I guess I don’t really feel as though I have much “Purpose” in this world. I’m existing… getting through the day… one step at a time… sustaining. I’ve grown accustomed to this life and am comfortable enough with it. In my Widowhood, I don’t wish for death or an end to it all, but I understand that it’s coming at some point. Sometimes I get into a quasi-funk and it doesn’t really matter to me when that is. I’ve learned we don’t always have any control over it… and that it can come at any moment. It’s just weird living a life where there are moments that if someone said, “You have cancer and it’s terminal.”… I’d be like, “OK.” and then quit my job, go home to my Little Red Schoolhouse, have a fire, and ride it out. Thankfully… for today… that is not the case.
This was written at a specific time in my life (a few months ago) where this is what I was feeling. It’s completely fine to feel certain ways at certain moments. Our life is a continuum of emotions that we learn to live with… with the hope that we are able to recognize and manage them. A vast majority of the time I try to have a positive approach to life and be a good person while also knowing that sometimes I simply get that feeling of… blah.
Now, I don’t really have much experience with death. I don’t come from a large family. I wasn’t close to grandparents, cousins, or anything. I’ve been fortunate that a vast majority of my friends are still around. And I live in a country where we don’t talk about death in a positive manner much… which may sound weird… but it’s something that we all experience, from one point of view or another, at some point in the timeline of life. Although I don’t have much experience with it, I kinda feel like the lessons I’ve learned on the topic were taught (and being taught) in an expediated night class that I’m court ordered to go to!
Being here with my Mom for the last three weeks is a completely different experience than being there with Kateri as I watched cancer destroy her body and take away her breath. I’m in a different role here in Idaho. I’m playing a different part… in a different scene… of a different movie. The subject may be the same, but it’s a version that I don’t quite have a handle on. Even though I already know how the movie is gonna end… it’s the final scene that’s still being written… and I’m having a pretty hard time with the writer. In all honesty, I kinda wish I could fire the writer… but I think they unionized a long time ago and have obtained… what’s that called?… tenure.
I am currently in the process of losing the most important person in my life. When Kateri died, that distinction shifted to my Mom. (Sorry… there’s a hierarchy and we’ve all got favorites.) In the last three weeks, I’ve learned a few things. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that losing Kateri sorta prepared me for the time when I will lose my mom. It kinda sucks to draw upon the memories of that time in my life, but it showed me just how rough life could get… and subsequently, that I would make it through. I mean, at the least… I’ve made it until today!… which is good enough.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of days simply listening to my mom breath as I sit on the old wooden chair next to her bed. Every time she takes a breath, I count until her next one. 1, 2, 3… 1, 2, 3… 1, 2… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7… 1, 2… 1, 2, 3… 1, 2……. 18… and so on and so on. I actually find it relaxing… until the counting continues into the teens and twenties… that sucks. I’m sure I’m trying to get a gauge on where we’re at in the process, but for the most part… I just wanna be there for my mom when she periodically opens her eyes. I can’t really stand the idea of her being by herself in her room in the final days of her life. I want her to see… to feel… just how much she is loved and that she is not going through this… alone.
I started this post yesterday. Today, I began using a stopwatch as I sat on that wooden chair. Her breathing pattern has changed to the tune of take two breaths… a twenty-three second pause… take two breaths. Let me tell you… those pauses aren’t fun to hear.
I’ve noticed that death has a smell. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s the same smell that filled the air when I was sitting with… and holding… Kateri.
I’m tired. Physically, emotionally, and psychologically… exhausted. I don’t wanna think about leaving, because when I do it means that my mom will be gone. I wanna be here and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be here… but I’m also ready to be home.
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 went for a drive on Friday. I’ve been in Idaho for two weeks and a day now to be with my mom and on Friday I just needed to get out of Dodge. Well, it’s not so much that I needed to get out of Dodge… I just needed to cover some ground, get into the mountains and away from the lights and sounds of suburbia and the city, so that I could feel a bit more comfortable and be in a space that would allow me to… think. Of course, I’m pretty sure it also started the process of me having a mid-life crisis… sorta. I just happen to need more money so that I can have a mid-life crisis in style. You know, like the ones you used to be able to have in the 80’s with sports cars and cocaine! (ummm… FYI… neither of which I’m actually interested in) I guess it’s not so much that I’m having a mid-life crisis… it’s more me trying to make sense of living a life without being able to give my mom a hug, being able to tell her about my day, being able to share my life with her, being able to lean on her for support and guidance, being able to tell her… I love her. After losing Kateri to Metastatic Malignant Melanoma… with mutations… my mom was there for me. She even made the trip to Kateri’s Kick-Ass Party… oxygen tank in tow, needed because of the cancer… saying she was gonna make it there one way or another and wouldn’t have missed it for anything. My mom is a strong woman. My mom is an independent woman. My mom is a caring and compassionate woman who loved me no matter what bad decisions I made throughout my life… while also celebrating the good ones. And my mom is currently in her bedroom, laying in a hospital bed resting as Joan Baez radio fills the air… dying from cancer. No, I guess it’s not so much that I’m having a mid-life crisis… I’m just really sad… I’m just feeling kinda lost… and being here watching my mom live with cancer for the last little bit of her life is just… hard.
When Kateri died, everything I thought I knew about who I was and what I wanted my life to look like simply vanished. It was cloaked with some sort of haze… a fog… this lack of direction in the world and my place in it. Being a widower… to put it bluntly… sucks balls. To be a widower in my mid-forties, to lose Kateri at a time when we were at the best spot in our lives and we were so excited about the future, our home, our history, and growing old together… honestly, threw me for a loop. But in the last almost four years, it also taught me that as long as I’m upright and on this side of the earth… I’ve gotta keep putting pants on and taking those steps to try and figure out how to keep living in a world without something that I thought I was gonna live with forever. It taught me that sometimes in life we have to adapt to scenarios that we never could’ve imagined… that never crossed our minds. It taught me that life could be hard… and living could be even harder.
Kateri’s death showed me that I could endure quite a bit while also clarifying… and simplifying… a couple of my priorities in life. My priority right now is to be with my mom because this is one of those things that’s only gonna happen once in my life. When I leave Idaho, my life and priorities will be different than when I arrived. I’ve accepted that and I know I will be ok… and I’ll continue to search for ways to make life better. Unfortunately, part of being here with my mom is seeing her frustration… seeing her discomfort… seeing her lose her mobility… her independence… seeing her in and out of lucidity… seeing her so… tired. Losing ones we love is hard, but sometimes I think seeing them having to endure the process as cancer attacks their bodies and we witness strength turn into frailty… well… sometimes I feel like that part of life is the hardest.
As of 7:44 last Saturday night… I no longer have chickens. It was kind of a horrible experience that I knew was a very real possibility, considering the fact that I live in the woods. It was jarring. It threw me off. Since Kateri died, people have asked if I’m gonna get a pet, a dog, a kitten, fish… whatever… and I would always reply that once the chickens die I don’t wanna be responsible for another living animal for a while. I just didn’t expect that to happen on Saturday! Stoopid nature.
I’ve attached all sorts of things to those chickens. They were Kateri’s Hopes n Dreams. But they also helped me ease into this new solo life by simply being around. I loved that they would be at the door to their little yard when they heard my car pull into the driveway or when I would open the screen door. I loved that they would follow me around the yard as I watered this or worked on that. I loved that they would come when I called out, “Here chick, chick, chick!”. I loved watching them run… and I love that I have the memory of Kateri impersonating a chicken… running! I guess I loved those little ladies for all sorts of reasons, but the fact of the matter is I don’t have them anymore and I need to adapt… to settle into… this new reality. After waking up alone the day after Kateri died…. well… nothing compares. So, I could add more sadness to this experience… or I can accept it for what it is… give it it’s time and space… and keep moving forward. My last week has been filled with some wonderfully supportive and beautiful moments, and some coincidences that I have just kinda dug. I guess that’s what this is about. Here are a few things that have helped me look on the brighter side of life as I adapt to being the only living thing in my household for the first time in twenty years after the death of Kateri… and then her chickens.
When it happened… I didn’t know what to do. I felt the need to let someone know what I was dealing with. I needed support. So I texted my girlfriend, “I don’t have chickens anymore.”… and she was there for me… again. She is a caring, compassionate, and understanding woman… and I’m glad she is in my life.
My mother called me on Facetime for the first time… ever! (except for the one time she did it on accident)… once she heard what had happened. I loved it! I love her.
I had a friend from work (from another department and building) seek me out to say sorry. She walked through the kitchen without hesitation simply because she knew what this event meant to me. At the same time, another friend showed up who had seen what had happened on social media. Although she was really there to deliver yogurt, her words were supportive and filled with compassion. It felt good.
Our old friend David called after he heard about the massacre. During our conversation, we came up with a plan for Lil’ Bitch since I didn’t want to let the raccoons take her. (I was fine with them taking Chicken and Chicken… but it was dark and Lil’ Bitch was still in one piece… so I removed her from the coop… and now she’s in my chest freezer! Kinda gross… I know.) He’s gonna visit at the end of the month, we’re gonna light a big ol’ fire at the fire pit… and lay Lil’ Bitch to rest!… in the fire. Yeah, the feathers are gonna smell a bit at first, but then I figure it’s just gonna smell like… chicken!
My friend Raph took me on a Jeep ride through the back woods of Vermont simply because he thought it would be a nice way to take my mind off of the heavier things in life for a while. It was awesome. It was fun. It was beautiful… except for the zombie we passed standing next to her shanty town looking home-made mini RV parked on the wrong side of the dirt road… in the dark. We didn’t stop.
My neighbor Bobbi called… for no reason except to check in. She hadn’t heard about my chickens… she was just seeing how I was doing. We hadn’t spoken for a spell, so I kinda dug the fact that she was simply thinking about me and decided to give a shout. (She sold us the Schoolhouse)
Last night… my favorite coincidence in the last week happened. I was at a friend’s house down the road getting an introduction into motorcycles since I’ve been thinking about getting one… maybe. (I’m actually leaning towards starting to fix up Kateri’s truck… it’s safer… but I still have those dreams of owning a motorcycle!) When we got up to the garage and were doing the whole Vermont thing of looking at wood piles and log splitters while smoking a joint and drinking beers (I wasn’t drinking), a dude was peddling past the “driveway”. I kinda put my joint to my side and said, “Evenin’!”. The dude looked at me, I looked at him… I walked a little closer and we realized… we new each other! Not like we met once through friends or at a show or something… like, he’s been at my house… like, he was on my floor laying next to Kateri when she was sick… like, Kateri loved this man… almost as much as she loved his wife… who was peddling up the hill right behind him! I simply yelled out, “Jeff!”… and then, “Cristina!”…! (Cristina actually made a pill schedule for Kateri that I kept on my refrigerator up until just a bit ago… she’s a nurse… and I still have the schedule.) It was surreal. It was so unexpected considering they live on the other side of the state, and yet here they were!… just peddling through Vermont! I wish we lived in a time where I would’ve just grabbed them for a hug, but seeing them there… in person… was such a wonderful coincidence for me that it helped lighten the heaviness that has been my life for the last three weeks. I can just imagine how entertaining it must have been for them to stumble upon us all high n shit as my buddy started up Harleys while giving them his idea of what the best route would be for the rest of their evening ride! It was simply awesome.
Ya, the Schoolhouse feels different… it has changed… it’s not the same as when Kateri and I bought it… it’s quiet. I’m trying to train myself not to look towards the coop every time I walk out of the house. I’m trying to get used to not having the ladies as a source of entertainment… because FYI, they were very entertaining! I’m getting used to not worrying about them. I’m getting used to living alone… on the hill… without Lil’ Bitch. I’m adapting to change. I’m adapting to life. Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of good things going on in my world… a lot of good people. Sometimes those people… sometimes, they just pop up out of nowhere… as they’re riding down the road… at just the right time.
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.
Yay!… the lazy blog post! I was gonna do one yesterday because I had a pretty wonderful Holiday Weekend and have been feeling pretty good lately… but didn’t. Oh… I tried. Spent hours trying to figure out what I wanted to share… how I wanted to share it… and realized… there was just too much. There were simply too many fun experiences, interesting situations, positive steps in this new life, good memories, and some sad ones over the last little bit for me to consolidate them into something that would capture the… je ne sais quoi (that’s French!)… warm n fuzzy feeling…?.. with a sense of security….?.. and easiness…? (A feeling of refreshing tranquility and an absence of tension or worry… yup. Thanks google!) So, I watched Unsolved Mysteries instead… and today you get a “Widower” post.
First… some pics from my third 4th of July… in this new life.
And now… a video… about a memory… that keeps coming back.
I actually started on the spare bedroom the day before the 2 Year/2 Month mark. It’s been a week long process… which still isn’t finished… but, it’s definitely a lot further along than it was a week ago!… and going through stuff is just gonna take me a bit. Although I have hit that point where I kinda just wanna start going through stuff and setting up “my” house… I also understand that it’s gonna take a while… but I can start! There’s a lot… A LOT… that comes along with the loss of a spouse. Sometimes, I feel like there’s even more that came along with the loss of Kateri. I mean… it’s Kateri!… she was pretty awesome. Of course, I think anyone who has loved someone else might feel the same way… but I’m talking about me right now.
So, this is what showed up this week in my life after I jumped on the opportunity of having another set of hands to help me move a dresser out of the spare bedroom… some pics and notes. (FYI… life is good… just a big balancing act!)
Two of our closest friends gave us that dresser… I doubled checked to make sure they were cool with me putting it on the side of the road with a Free sign.
I’ve been wanting to move that thing for months! I couldn’t get it downstairs by myself and I didn’t want to start on the room until it was out of there. It was sooooo annoying! I even thought about chopping it up in the bedroom and taking it down in pieces! That’s one of those weird widowhood things… it’s much easier to move big things with another person.
That dresser spent less than 24 hours sitting in front of my house! (awe… Vermont) I went to work, came home… gone! It was perfect. They even took the plastic I had tucked it in with the night before! (I wanted it to stay warm and dry if it rained!)
Kateri bought that pillow specifically for when she had cancer and was spending a ton of time in bed… trying anything to make life a little better… there’s even a hole for your ear! That pillow… along with the large foam wedge one… had been in that room for over two years. I’m glad they’re gone.
I sat on my bedroom floor and Facetimed with my sis-in-law as I opened wooded boxes containing some of Kateri’s jewelry, pins, and little knick knacks. It was pretty cool. Plus, I could always hold the little mask thing (from our wedding) up to my face if I wanted to change things up!
I gave Kateri the “Dance as if…” tile thing back in ’08 or ’09 when we lived in Ned. Kateri gave me the “answer my smile” wood thing…. at some point. Unfortunately… I didn’t remember that. For some reason, over the last two years I have thought it was a gift I had given her!… and then I turned it over.
The picture with the bed..? That was some fun stuff to go through. Stuff such as, the picture Kateri loved of her standing next to her little sister… who is picking her nose. Or the Mad Hatter hats we made for Tracy’s Mad Hatter Retirement Party. And of course… the plastic bracelets that the hospital gave Kateri each time she was admitted… among other things.
Kateri gave me that box for Christmas in… 2002..? She got it from a bartender friend of ours I worked with.
That is Kateri’s knife… she kept it in her truck.
Kateri gave me the little blue guy… he dances. I would carry him around with me at work and if someone was having a bad day I would simply wind him up, set him down in front of the person, let him start wiggling… and walk away. It was generally their’s until they didn’t need him anymore. And then… we found one with a skirt!
In the time we were living above a garage (’02), I made a bunch of origami flowers and situated them all over the floor of our little studio apartment… where we had only a microwave, hot plate, and toaster oven to cook with… and slept on an air mattress. There’s an orange one in the box, as well. I’m glad I still have them.
It’s basically a wooden box… filled with tattered cigar boxes… filled with letters……. and memories.
Painting!… it’s Whitewater Bay. (I know you were wonderin’!) FYI… Kateri was the painter of the household. Yes… I taped… even though it doesn’t look like it in spots!
I love how a new coat of paint simply cleans up a space. Plus, you get that light headed fuzzy feeling if you keep the fresh air out!
I decided to change up the quilt on the bed. We have never used this quilt. It was a birthday present from a friend when Kateri turned 44… a month before she died. Really… I just thought it had a nice weight, nice pattern, and it fit the bed!
I like how the room has turned out so far. It’s a little dark for the lighting I have (there are only lights in the closets in the bedrooms…?), but just another reason to find some new lamps!… for my new room!… in my new life……..!
That is Kateri’s Pooh Bear. Back in the day, we would lay in bed and read the stories to each other. Then it somehow turned to just me reading to her. She loved Pooh… and Piglet… and their friendship. When we cremated Kateri, I took a page from the first book, Winnie-the-Pooh… and placed it in her pocket.
This is my final pic… and then a video… as if there wasn’t enough already! I really haven’t done anything with my little shrine to Kateri and as I was going through boxes I figured I could add a few things from the top of the jelly cupboard… so I did. I wasn’t sure about how to dispose of the sage bundles used for smudging, so I asked sis-in-law. Well, I found out that neither one of us really knows what to do with used sage bundles, but we figured as long as the intentions were good… it’s all cool and groovy. So… that’s what the video is about. Just a heads up, I mention it’s January 28th… it’s not… it’s June. There would be a heck of a lot more snow on the ground if it were January!… but there might still be a fire.
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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.
It was a hot one this week. I mean, after nine months of winter, 85 was simply sweltering! When it hit 91… forget about it! So with the heat wave I thought I would make sure The Ladies had everything they needed to stay cool, clean, and safe. No… I did not sew little tiny face masks for their beaks (they are already quarantining themselves and have the social distancing down), but on Tuesday evening I shoveled out their shavings, put new hay in the nesting boxes, took out the vent covers in the rafters (well, where the top of the wall and rafters meet… I have no idea what that would be called… I’m a cook), clean water, new food, and even shoveled some of the shavings and shit from their little penned in area. Gotta say, nothing like cleaning a chicken coop after it has warmed up a bit!… yummy.
I felt pretty good about the shortened week due to Memorial Day… was already being productive! Until Wednesday morning when I woke up, groggily went downstairs for coffee at around 6:00am, and looked out the window to greet the day. What I saw out in the back yard was Lil’ Bitch… who should’ve been in the coop I just cleaned the evening before! When I went outside to investigate… after I put pants on… I noticed the door to the coop was open. Did I forget to latch it?! That seems odd… I thought I remembered latching it…?! And then I saw how the eye hooks were still attached to the shingles they were screwed in to, but those shingles were now attached to the door as if something simply ripped them from the wall!… the feeder was empty and broken, and Chicken (not sure if it was Chicken #1, 2, or 3…?), was a mangled mess laying lifeless just out the coop’s door in their little yard! Yay!…. Wednesday!
At first, I simply thought it was a bear looking for food considering the door was ripped open. So, Wednesday when I got home from work the fortifying began. Basically, after I cleaned up the broken glass and tipped the window box upright… I got a bigger latch. (The perpetrator pulled the window off… it was old and part of our “church” from our wedding) The wood studs in the window opening provide too small of an opening for a bear to get through and there is wire mesh covering it so I just left it open for some fresh air. Other than that… I thought I was good. I even taped some Pop-Its to the steps to try and deter the visitor! And then Wednesday night happened.
It was around 11:30pm when I decided to just pop my head out the back door and shine my headlamp on the coop to see if ol’ Smokey (although, I feel he’s more of a western/Rocky Mountain bear) had come around again. What I was met with were two little beady eyes staring back at me from the top step of the coop as it paused from it’s task of ripping the shingles off around the new latch I installed on the front door! No, it wasn’t a bear… it was too small. And in all honesty, if it was a bear that was getting into the coop?… I’d be ok with it. But noooooo…. it was… was… a RACCOON!… little bastards. And Rocky the Raccoon was going to town on the front of my coop trying to get to that food! It wasn’t really small… quite large actually… kinda disturbingly large… and the Pop-its didn’t deter shit! So then the fortifying began again… under the cover of darkness. (well, with lamps and the light from the garage)
In all honesty, I was a little high and the thought of it maybe being a raccoon with rabies or a fisher cat crossed my mind, so as I ran back and forth from the garage grabbing supplies… I also carried a short, flat head shovel in case I was attacked! I mean, I would periodically shine my light into the woods and those two little beady eyes would still be staring back at me just waiting to pounce!…. or for me to leave so it could get back to business.
I felt a little bad using circular saws and impact drills when it was past the one-two (midnight) for my neighbors’ sake, but the task at hand, the one that took priority at that moment in time was for me to make sure Lil’ Bitch, Chicken, and Chicken were safe. I don’t consider them pets… they’re chickens… but they are living animals that I now have the sole responsibility of making sure they have a good life… a safe life. These chickens were part of Kateri’s “Hopes n Dreams” and they remind me of that every single morning I go to open their little door along with every evening when I go to shut it, make sure they are comfortably roosted, and tell them, “Goodnight”. (Yes, I say “Good morning, Ladies!” and “Goodnight, Ladies!” everyday) So, although I felt sorta bad for using power tools when most people are sleeping… I didn’t feel THAT bad.
I still need to get the coop looking a little better, but I feel it has been secured enough to keep the larger animals out for the time being. The experience definitely threw a wrench in the week I had planned, but I’ve learned that we can only plan on so much while dealing with the things that pop up… which sometimes, we simply can’t plan for. The chickens provide me with an attachment to Kateri and I love them because of that (mostly Lil’ Bitch… she’s my favorite… it’s gonna be me and her on the homestead!), but they can also be a hard reminder of the life I had just two years ago… and of April 22, 2018 when all of my “Hopes n Dreams” were thrown out the window.
On Tuesday night, I lost a chicken and over the next couple of days I did what I needed to do to try and make their life better. Today… this morning… I went out to the coop with my coffee in hand, opened their little door, and said, “Good morning, Ladies!” as a few chickens came popping out the opening… and one of them was Lil’ Bitch! Kateri ordered eight chickens four years ago. This morning there were three. A lot can happen in four years, five years, seven years, twenty years or whatever. A lot can change. We need to know how to adapt to those changes… or at the least we need to try… because Life is still all around even when Death reshapes our worlds.
We bought our Five Different Shades of Orange 1973 Super Beetle at a garage sale in Bristol back in ’02 or 3. That kinda makes it sound like we were rolling in cash and just picking up cars as we were out and about enjoying a Saturday, but it actually took a few weeks to make sure we had the money… and Bob (the seller) was having a fair amount of separation anxiety… so it was a process. He would come into the restaurant Kateri and I were managing to grab a bite and we would chat to get acquainted with each other a bit more so that he could feel comfortable knowing his little bug was going to a good home. We feel it did.
It was one of those days where we were simply out and about driving around Vermont, watching shit go by, and hitting some yard sales…Kateri loved “Yardsaling”. The Super Beetle was parked on the road with a for sale sign in the window, so we started the whole kicking the tires, inspecting underneath, checking out the rusty spots, and dreaming of what it would be like to use for one of our favorite pass times… smoking weed (with a couple of Road Sodas back in the day) and driving the back roads of the Green Mountains… together.
The inspection and dreaming was all going along fine until I had decided to roll a window down… and it didn’t go back up… and we hadn’t met the owner yet! Yup, Kateri was pretty proud of me at that point! Well, really all it did was force us (me) to find the owner and have a conversation about the vehicle… because I might’ve broken it. When we found Bob we told him we were checking out the car and his first response was, “You didn’t roll down the window, did you?”. Yup…. proud.
We had a nice conversation, checked out some of the other stuff he was selling, purchased an iron gate that we carted around with us for years (not sure where that ended up!), and set up a time to take the bug for a test drive. Of all of our experiences with that little beetle, the test drive was my favorite. Kateri had never been in… or at least driven…(?) a Volkswagen Bug before and we figured that even if we didn’t buy the car, she at least got to have that experience! I’ll tell you… from the moment she saw that little, Five Different Shades of Orange Super Beetle… with a sunroof!… it always put a smile on her face. To be able to clearly remember her enthusiasm when she got into that car, fired it up and heard that distinct Bug sound as she cautiously took off down the road with the windshield six inches from her face, it makes me happy to this day… even as I can feel the tears on my cheeks. (I guess that’s how you know it was a good thing)
I love all the memories I have of Kateri and I with that little buggy. It was an adventure every time we pulled away from our little house in the hills… to drive around other hills… never knowing if it was gonna start up again once you stopped for gas, a bite to eat, or to just take in a view. There was one time we decided to putz down south a tiny ways to where Kateri’s little sister was working for the summer at a kid’s camp. Luckily it was a beautiful day because at every stop we had to wait, let the engine cool down (I think. Again, I’m a cook and not a mechanic!… but believe those engines were air cooled.), and hope that it would start so that we could get to the next point on the trip… and eventually home! It was a great lesson in patience.
The license plate! Oh my gosh… I loved our license plate. It was the first time we got vanity plates. (Are they still called that? Personalized?… whatever) At first, Kateri wanted to have some sort of variation of Pickin’ Apples… her code phrase for sex when she was younger. But we weren’t able to get one of those. We live in Vermont… there are a lot of “Apple” people here… so we started brainstorming other ideas. As much as I like to think it was “our“ Five Different Shades of Orange ’73 Super Beetle… it was really Kateri’s. Once we realized her nickname would fit on the plate, we just thought it would be appropriate! And then we found out THAT was taken. So what do you do?… You add a number to the end! Yup… people would see us puttering around The Green Mountains, smiles ear to ear, in a bright orange bubble with green rectangles on either end that said… SQUIRT1..! Although “Squirt” is what a lot of people call Kateri, we got a kick out of thinking about how drivers who were following us would interpret it!
When we moved to Colorado in 2007 we had to get rid of it. A friend said he could hold onto it for us and used his ex-girlfriend’s AAA membership to pull it out of it’s winter storage space… tarped in the woods… and transport it north to his place. It wasn’t in too great of shape at that point, the rust was kinda running rampant. As the tow truck guy was slowly using the winch to pull it up the angled flatbed… the battery fell through the floor! It’s sorta sad thinking about how she never hit the road again, but it’s kinda fun thinking about how our friends would sometimes pack into that broken down and stationary Bug after they had a few drinks, pass around a joint, talk, and reminisce about the good times. Kateri got to have that experience once when she came back to help a friend out. I love that image… Kateri smiling and happy in her ’73 Super Beetle… with people she loves.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Last night I realized I had stopped counting how many days Kateri has been gone… how long I’ve been a widower… and I was comfortable with it. I figured it just meant other things were starting to fill my brain in this new life. Transitioning… or some crap like that. Then I rambled into my phone… and played a song.
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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… it has started. I have begun the process of going through shit to see what I want to keep around, what I want to save, what I want to throw away, and what I feel other people may want… of course, people definitely tell you what they want when your wife dies! More importantly though, I would want something to go to someone I love… who loved Kateri… if there is significant weight put on whatever object by whatever person… and if it’s in the “Give Away” pile! In this case, I’m going the kitchen… so there isn’t a ton of those types of things. I mean, I don’t know if anyone is gonna be fighting over the 2 year old Cheerios in the glass jar on the counter!.. but maybe?!
I planned on going through the kitchen on Sunday since my original plan to go see a buddy in AZ fell through and I was still gonna take the time off… because I need it. When I knew I wasn’t going to some strange land filled with sand… and where the sun seems to be a heck of a lot closer… I wanted to take advantage of the time to get to some things that I just simply haven’t been able to get to yet. The kitchen seemed like a good place to start because it is also a space that is functional… I use it everyday.
Now I’ve just gotta say it went a WHOLE lot slower than I expected… and I’m actually not even done!… but the kitchen is clean (top of the fridge and all!) and I was able to go through a few cabinets and cupboards. The fridge… and everything on it… was the big one. It’s amazing what we put on refrigerators… the memories we magnet to the thin metal keeping all our shit cold. Mine kinda covered the gambit. It was dotted with pictures of family from years ago, recipes in Kateri’s handwriting, little notes, menus from local sandwich shops, magnets from our travels, wedding invitations and snapshots of good times! It also had Kateri’s pill regiment schedule on it that our nurse friend had made her when Kateri got discharged from the hospital… when her colon gave out halfway through “Cancer Time” because of the immunotherapy or some shit. Ya… I think I’m at the point where I don’t need to see that every time I go in the fridge to grab a Stewart’s Orange n Cream soda! I also stumbled upon a fortune, hidden beneath other papers, that word used to “Learn Chinese” was…….. disease. Yay!
Although I didn’t actually finish what I planned to finish in the kitchen… it is further along than it was on Satruday! I’ve learned that I can’t put unreasonable pressure on myself to bang some of these things out. Some things will just take time due to those constraints in time, emotional attachment, and… well… life. For me, I’m happy that I started the process and sorta have a game plan going forward. I made a big dent in something that has been nagging at my brain for a bit… and that feels good. Now I’m off to round up all “Important Papers” scattered around the house in various bags, boxes, cabinets, and closets… and I’m gonna show them their permanent home in the filing cabinet! (the one Kateri found on the side of the road!)
Widower Notes n Thought:
The wedding ring is currently back on. I put it on for my second therapy session… just felt right… and haven’t taken it off, yet. I’m gonna take that one as it comes. Some days I’ll wear it… some days I won’t… just depends. I’m good with that.
A friend introduced me to Chubby Hubby… that might not have been a good thing… health wise.
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.
So…. wow. That kinda snuck up on me! I’ve had quite a few things on my mind as of late and have been kinda trying to deal with some “New Life” shit… “Old Life” shit… “Emotional” shit…… and snow. I guess I’ve simply been thinking a lot about life in general and wasn’t really doing the whole “2019 in Review” thing… until last night… at around 6:30/7ish… when it dawned on me that there were quite a few things that happened in 2019!
I was gonna throw out the ol’ “There were some good things, there were some blah blah blah things…”, but that was basically everyone’s year! I kinda figure that that’s just how it goes..?! And then I thought about how our lives’ aren’t just generalizations. They aren’t that simple. In the 365 days that I woke up in 2019 there were definitely ups and downs, but there were things… specific things… that stand out. So yup… here’s a New Year’s Random Widower Notes n Thoughts list for 2020. (yay!… and an almost ten minute video about a whole lot of not much at the end…!):
Random Widower Notes n Thoughts… June 2, 2020:
In 2019 I got a snow blower! (my back thanks me… and yes, I’m excited about it enough that I had to mention it! People talk about how their cats or dogs or lizards are their “children”… which is kinda stupid… so I’m gonna start referring to my snow blower as part of the family. I think our relationship has grown enough over the last 12 months to make that leap!)
I pissed some people off in 2019… some of those people I love… which sucks, but it’s gonna happen. Luckily, we all survived.
I’m also not everyone’s cup of tea… I’m cool with that… I’m not a huge fan of tea, either! Of course, I still enjoy it once in a while… it just needs honey… lot’s and lot’s of honey.
I don’t really look at time in the yearly chunks anymore. In my brain, it’s still based off of the day Kateri died.
I haven’t changed anything in the house yet, but I’ve gotten used to everything I see being a reminder of Kateri and my “Old Life”.
I have decided to start that process in 2020, though! You know, redecorating and going through some stuff! I’m ready to start putting together my home… my life…. and figuring out how to keep Kateri a part of it.
2019… I went from YachtRocks/Hits 1/Pop2K to Lithium and SoulCycle… with a bit of Caliente.
(I just got off the phone with my sis… love ya sis.)
In 2019 I learned that I’m gonna need to do more… which means I’m gonna need help… because I wanna do more… because I need to.
I need to be healthier… not much more to say about that!
I took my wedding ring off for more than 24 hours over the New Year’s holiday… for the first time… it’s currently back on.
It was odd… both the fact that I couldn’t feel it on my finger (it’s heavy and I use my thumb to adjust it a lot throughout the day!) and… well… it just wasn’t on my hand! It provides me with a huge connection to Kateri and I simply don’t wanna lose that. It made me soooooo happy that we got married… that we made that commitment… that I had a wife… and that it was Kateri. In this new life…. I had a wife… and that’s not what my life is now. (Although… Kateri will always be my wife… she just won’t be out front digging in the gardens or blaring the B-52’s while tidying the house or laying next to me when I begrudgingly would come upstairs because she said it was time for bed. Damn… I wish she was here to tell me it was time for bed!)
It’s easier to remember the cloth KAF shopping bag when going to the store. When shopping for one… I generally don’t need more than a bag and it has become routine to grab it from the pocket behind my driver’s seat. Look at me saving the planet!
If I was someone who bought six packs… I would still be cutting the plastic rings so that the penguins and baby seals don’t get their heads stuck in them. My mom taught me that… in the 80’s… so some of you may not have any idea of what I’m talking about!
In 2020, I would like to be a little more focused… in everything… this blog included.
Since Kateri died, I’ve been on a quest to simply make things better or easier… hence snow blowers, woodstoves, and chop saws… proper tools for the job and better efficiencies. The quest also includes working on me… becoming better myself. Better at this new life, better at my relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, better at getting things done, better at taking care of myself. Basically… be a better person than I was yesterday… just so as to live a better life while I’m chugging along in this current one… and to stay on the rails most of the time!
Straight up… Happy New Year… on the 5th!
ps… I started this post on New Year’s Day 2020. Since then… I have had to use the term, “One appointment at a time.” again… but for the first time with a particular person… someone I love very much… more than most. Luckily, she’s one of the strongest, determined, and fearless in the face of adversity type of people I know… and she’ll (we’ll) get through this. Life doesn’t give us the option of when we need to deal with some stuff… it’s not in our control. What is in our control is how we approach it… how we face it… how we are going to let it exist in our life. It can beat us down… or we can accept the situation and try to take the best steps forward. I’m a “fixer”… I want to fix things as quickly as possible so that I can move on to the next thing. Sometimes… I simply can’t fix it. But I’ll do whatever I can to make it… a little bit better.
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 was the Halloween of… ummm… 2003 maybe..? Could’ve been 2004 or 5. Well, up to 2007… but one of those years. I know we were living in South Starksboro in our cute little cottage with a loft and a woodstove… it was pretty cool. (Our first stand alone home together… rented from a couple who became very special to both Kateri and I… and who still are. It’s weird to think back at those memories right now. I wish I could get everything that is bombarding my brain right now down on paper… but I can’t… and I’m trying to get to what it is that I wanted to write about! But now… I’m thinking about how Kateri called our back yard the Dagobah System. You know?!… Yoda n shit… and it kinda was.) Anyways, I know it was within that range because on one Halloween we used the tiny bedroom downstairs and the loft you couldn’t stand up in… where we slept… up the ladder… as the places to “design” and make our costumes for the evening. We weren’t going out. We weren’t having a party. Well, I guess we never really had parties… but the point is, we were just gonna be hanging out at home that night and Kateri had a knack for coming up with some fun things to do.
I don’t quite remember much of the evening or exactly what time it was or anything… it was dark… and I was probably drunk, but we gave ourselves “x” amount of time to get into costume and to see what each other came up with! It was fun!… and funny!… and somewhat disturbing! I had made a pillow case into a huge face, tucked it into jeans that were halfway down my thighs…ish, and might’ve made arms… but I’m not sure about that! I do know that my own arms were crossed above my head with my elbows pressed into the corners of the pillow case to keep the face… well… a face. I had seen it in elementary school at an assembly or something and figured… we’ve got pillow cases!… pants!… and markers! I could pull it off pretty easily and it would be kinda silly! Kateri almost died laughing as I… or Big Head Person… ran around 450 square feet while throwing in some dancing and jumping. Yup… it was fun.
But it was Kateri’s costume that got me thinking about that particular Halloween this evening. I don’t even really remember her whole outfit… there was a lot of black. What I remember is her face. It… was… FREAKY! Definitely creepy! A little shocking… and somewhat… interesting. She had done the Scotch Tape thing all over her face making her skin look almost sorta burnt… old and wrinklyish… just simply all fucked up! We couldn’t get over how weird it looked! It almost freaked us out!… but mostly we couldn’t stop laughing and talking about how gross it was! And her nose! Oh my gosh… I almost forgot about the pig nose! Wow… I’m glad I haven’t forgotten about that! Actually, I’m glad I remembered that Halloween… this Halloween. I wasn’t expecting that!
For me, it was fun being surprised. Kateri showed and taught me sooooo many things in my life. Some of those things were personally life changing… they played their part in making me into who I am today. But it’s the normal everyday experiences that carry the most weight. I was always amazed by how seemingly easy she could provide joy to someone else. It wasn’t effortless… but it was simply who she was.
The memory that began this whole thought train was Kateri making Halloween decorations with nieces and nephews… and then me wondering if I wanted to pull out those decorations tonight because we still have them… but I’m not gonna. I just like that I have these memories… my memories… of Kateri being Kateri… and her saying, “Bloody Bloody Fangs!” on Halloween.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Now I’m gonna eat and try to watch a scary movie. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve already been asked if I’ve seen the ghosts of dead children in the schoolhouse… I haven’t… and hope I don’t! (And I don’t think I’ll watch a movie with creepy children.)
Yes, I bought Halloween Candy. No, I won’t have a single Trick or Treater.
I always think of my mom on Halloween and her giving treats (candy) to hundreds of little humans who knock on the door. I like how there is generally a run to the store by my father for more supplies, but it always gets to the point of the lights being turned off, the shades being drawn, and hiding from the masses commences on the couch… maybe with the TV on… quietly.
Happy Halloween people! Hope you have a good one whatever you do!
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!
So yeah, I’m just gonna say it… my body hurts!… but all my winter wood is neatly stacked and tucked away in the lean-to keeping it safe from the rain… and snow… and out of site! I’ve been looking at the piles on the other side of the driveway for about two months now. I was just never motivated enough or had the time to stack it, so I made it The Agenda for this weekend. My plan was to get out there just after the sun came up and have it done by early afternoon, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. However, I’m happy with how the day went… besides being reminded that I’m getting older and that I haven’t taken care of my body in the last year and a half or so! Oh well, that’s why I did it yesterday… so that I could recover today.
Generally, I love stacking wood. It feels good being outside and doing something that helps prepare for the quickly approaching winter. I love that it warms you twice!… or three times… or four… depending on how many times you need to move it. I love that it is such an ingrained part of life here in rural Vermont. I love that people have their Wood Guys and that there is always someone looking for a Wood Guy 3 months too late! I love shooting the shit with my guy in my driveway while we sum up a year’s worth of experience in half an hour. I love that I simply tape an envelope with cash in it to the top of the chest freezer in the garage and when I notice it’s gone… my wood is paid for. Yup… the Vermont invoice! I love the memories of friends and family helping with the stacking over the years, in all the different places Kateri and I had lived… and I’ve gotten satisfaction when I’ve done it by myself. This year was a little different, though.
My idea was to stack this year’s delivery by myself since I never really asked for help or got my shit together enough to plan it out. Last year I stacked it all by myself… on one of the hottest days of the summer… because I felt I needed to prove something to myself… that I could be self sufficient. I had just learned that life can take things away pretty quickly and I was freaking out about not knowing if I would be able to stay on top of everything, so I just tried to do everything on my own. Not to mention, it always feels like you are working harder when you sweat and when you stack two cord of wood on a 97 degree Vermont summer day… well… you sweat! This year, although the wood was dropped in August, I’m glad I waited till October when it’s a tad bit cooler!
My approach to the stacking of the wood was a little different this year, as well. Almost 18 months into this new life puts me in a different space than I was last year. There has been a shift in some of the things in my life… how I view things. Although I love stacking wood and everything that I attach to it, this year it just felt more like a chore… something else that I simply have to do. It felt good to be outside and doing something that will prepare me for the future, but there wasn’t really any excitement behind it except to get the job done so that I could move on to the next project on the list. You would think after almost 18 months that I would be more on top of everything, but the onslaught of widowerhood wears you down over time and quite frankly, going from a household of two to a household of one is a lot to take on! Attach the emotional/psychological reminders you are surrounded by everyday… even more fun! But, everything still needs to get done… so I keep doing it.
Yesterday, even though I felt like the stacking of the wood was more of a chore… it turned out to be a much better day than expected. This is where I feel the need to fill you in that I did not stack ALL the wood by myself. About two thirds of the way through my neighbor Bobbi pulled up to the mailboxes to see if her tax bill had come yet and after sitting on a rock… her still in her car… and shooting the shit for a few minutes I asked if she wanted to some up to the porch and catch up. So we did! It was nice. We hadn’t seen each other in months… and she’s always entertaining! After about an hour she said she needed to go because of a FaceTime date with her kid or something, but said she would be back to help! I told her she didn’t need to, but I would take the help if I was still stacking when she was done. It wasn’t a half an hour until she came back… ready to stack some wood… thin black leather driving gloves in hand (I mentioned she’s entertaining)! It was wonderful.
For me, it was a nice surprise to end the day hanging with someone… a neighbor… when I thought I would be spending the day alone. Yes, I took more breaks as we stacked the last quarter of the pile (Bobbi happens to be in her sixties… I think), but the conversations, laughing, and reminiscing was worth the slower pace. I guess that’s one of those “sometimes it’s good to smell the roses” type things. It simply felt nice to sit on the plastic Adirondack chairs that my father had bought when they came for Kateri’s Kick-Ass Party last year, waving to cars and trucks as they drove by, and to thank a friend for taking the time to lend a hand. It was a perfect end to the day. Plus, the sun was going down at that point so I’m glad we finished it by the time the day ended! And although it felt sorta like a chore… it definitely feels good to know that my wood is stacked and I’ll be warm this winter.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It was also nice seeing a co-worker and friend drive by my house in his little red Mazda Miata with his wife as they were out for an Autumn Sunday drive. Yup, there was a honk… a wave… and he kept driving!
It’s always fun to try an figure out how many wheelbarrow loads you have left when the pile starts to get to the end!… Bobbi and I where way off.
I understand that it’s all part of my life… but I’ve really had to separate work life/life with Kateri/life without Kateri just to keep my head on my shoulders. It’s all sorta mingling together, but each needs their own times of attention here and there. That whole “Balance” thing can be a challenge sometimes.
Luckily, I only saw one 8 legged demon while stacking the wood… and spent the entire time freaking out about the possibility of one attacking me while I hurled logs into the wheelbarrow!
A hot tub would be nice right now… I could dig it.
ps… to let you know… it makes me feel good when people follow the blog… just sayin’.
(Just to put it out there… I still haven’t experienced that “Anger” at the situation feeling, yet… I just REALLY like to swear.)
Ok. So all I really wanted to say is that… for me… 536 days into this experience is about the time that I needed to make the decision to start looking at the future a tiny bit more. I’m tired of the “routine”. Yes, there are things I have been doing that provide me joy (guitar, sitting by the fire or on the porch, eating cake pops, etc.), but those things are literally to get through the day. Losing a spouse is crushing… in every aspect of your life… at least it has been for me. We do things… anything… to just… not… hurt. (To give you a glimpse into the emotional state of this widower… I saw Kateri’s name in a sentence I wrote… and now I’m a wreck. I love her name… how it looks… everything that fills those letters and the spaces in between. That it was who she was.) But getting back to the point… I’m ready for change. I feel the need to make some small changes… and I’m ready for some big ones, as well. (ummm, FYI… not toooo big of changes… or too many!… or ones on a whim! Even though whims make for good adventures). I just feel the need to take a step back, take a moment, and move forward with a bit more focus on having my happiness and well being in mind going into the future.
Basically, I’ve had a few challenges pop up on a few different fronts and I’m just gonna make the effort to control the things I can control, not worry about the things I can’t, and start asking myself… me… what it is I want my life to look like. I may have said all this before (sorry, I still haven’t re-read most of my posts), but I don’t think I can tell myself too many times to focus on being happy!… so that’s what I’m gonna do. Yup. The End.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
People go away. Some just because it’s part of the experience. Others… just because. But it’s interesting that the “lonely” factor, feeling, and level hasn’t really changed. It hasn’t gotten better or worse… just still kinda there. People aren’t gonna help with taking away that loneliness because that loneliness is… the loss of Kateri. I expect it will get better in time, but it has definitely held on… and it’s tiring.
I love fall. The smell of the wet leaves. The colors. The hoodies and heavier comfy clothes. I also can’t wait to be able to say that it is now “Fell”… or “Stick Season”… it reminds me of Kateri.
536 Days… the phone is still in Kateri’s name!
I met some more neighbors! Sat on their porch and chewed the fat for a bit! A friend and I were going on a walk, and a wave turned into a talk. The friend I was with was female… (ummm, and she still is)… so when R. asked if we were The Schoolhouse people it made for an interesting introduction when I had to explain that the schoolhouse was mine and my wife’s first home… that my friend is not my wife and that I live alone… because my wife died from cancer. Fun!
Just part of the life of a widower!
And it was actually a wonderful 45ish minute visit!
Yes, I got a new woodstove! Yes… I love it! (yes… I have 3 and a half cords of 14-16 inch logs… and it only takes 14″. Again… fun)
I’m just gonna preface this with my Wedding Anniversary was actually yesterday, I’ve been horrible at planning things lately, and at 10:08 in the morning… I’m still in the same comfy clothes as last night because I fell asleep on the couch! (I like to think of it as me being efficient… this way I don’t have to get undressed just to put them back on for a Sunday morning!) Long story short… well, abbreviated… this is what I did.
When I woke up, I really had no plan. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to spend the day. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to honor the date. I didn’t know how I wanted to remember the happiest day of my life in a time where the crap in life seems to overshadow and push down those good memories. I was hoping to wake up and be flooded with all the wonderful images of friends, family, and Kateri on our wedding day… but for now I guess these types of dates are just gonna remind me of how wonderful things were… of the unexplainable joy that filled my life. They remind me of what we had… what I had in my life… and what life did to my sweet sweet Kateri.
I had thought about hitting George’s in Gloucester and maybe spreading some of Kateri’s ashes in the ocean. Or maybe spending a night in Lake Placid where Kateri and I would spend a weekend if we needed outta Dodge. Once, we kinda just wanted to get out for a weekend… but also needed to do laundry! Kateri simply found a hotel with laundry services… we loaded up our dirty clothes… and spent the evening getting room service while waltzing down the hall every so often to switch it over, throw in another load, and spend another small fortune because we were doing laundry in a hotel! Oh well… it was fun… and that’s not what I did yesterday.
We got married at a place called Camp Common Ground in Vermont. It’s not toooo far away from where I live and for some reason I thought it would be nice just to go back, walk around, and remember what it was like on September 28, 2011. It was early enough that I also thought I could cruise up there and be back in time to chill at home for a bit, too! So I headed out.
It was a beautiful drive… cloudy… cool. I took the dirt roads for the first bit and just got in the right frame of mind. When I hit Montpelier I thought, “I should probably eat breakfast…?!” and then Penny Cluse in Burlington instantly came to mind… because I love it there. As I got a little further down the road, another thought popped into my head that put a smile on my face… we cooked a majority of the food for our wedding in the Penny Cluse kitchen!… how fitting that I would be eating there!… today! It’s that whole attachment to experiences thing that I seem to keep trying to do, but it worked for this! So I got to Burlington, ate my Mama Cruz’s Huevos Rancheros, caught up with a couple of people, gave and got a hug from Charles, and moved on to the next phase of the journey.
It was nice driving south from B-Town. I hadn’t driven that route for quite a while and it was interesting to see the changes… the growth. It was while I was taking in all this change that another thought popped into my head. I realized that I was going to Camp Common Ground because of the memories and experience of getting married there. Well, yesterday was a Saturday… and even though we got married on a Wednesday, most people get married on Saturdays… so the thought was, “I wonder if there is gonna be a wedding going on when I pull up?!”… there was. At least, that’s what I’m assuming… because there were people milling about as if they were getting ready for a wedding!
I had prepared myself for that possibility and thought about what my reaction would be. I even thought about just sliding in and start milling about myself!… Who would know I’m not with the wedding?! But instead, I just flipped a bitch before anyone could ask me how I knew the bride and groom… or bride and bride… or groom and groom… and started the journey back home. I would have loved to have stood in the spot where Kateri and I committed our lives to each other in front of our loved ones… beneath those two majestic trees holding court over the open field we had made into our church… but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I knew I had inserted any of my experience into “The Happiest Day of my Life!” experience for these strangers… for these two people who were about to embark on their own journey filled with their own ups and downs. A wedding should be pure joy. Yes, “Till Death” is sometimes inserted into the ceremony, but on your wedding day… at least on mine… it is nothing but love. It’s a celebration. It’s a time to focus on all the reasons we want to spend the rest of our lives with someone. It’s about “The Good” in life. It’s one of those days in life that you just push all the crap aside and fill the time with music, laughter, conversation, life, and love. And I don’t think there are many days like that in our lives (except for maybe the birth of a child) so I wasn’t about to be “The Ruiner” for these people!… who didn’t happen to think about my needs when they were planning their wedding!
Since plans were sorta foiled, I started the journey home with stopping by a friend’s house in the area. They weren’t home so I decided to take the scenic route home (it’s Vermont… it’s all scenic) and go over the Appalachian Gap. Luke and I would drive it every day when we worked in the Mad River Valley and the view from the top is wonderfully convenient.
Driving south, I thought about food again and decided to take myself out to a nice “Anniversary Dinner for One” at a friend’s restaurant in my area… well, close to my area. Again… it was wonderful… and kind of just what I needed. Good food, good atmosphere, good conversation, and a couple of hugs.
I wish my day yesterday was filled with nothing but the joyous and celebratory memories that our wedding provided us for years… but it wasn’t. They were there, but the pain of losing Kateri and the complicated life that that loss has created is all consuming. I guess it’s the whole, “We hurt so much because we loved so much” type shit… and I just haven’t gotten past the pain that these dates periodically insert into my new life. For now, in my new life, they are just reminders… that I don’t have Kateri by my side. The passage of time has helped with some things and I suspect it will help with this. I won’t know for another 365 days… but I look forward to seeing that day come… and to see what fills the other 364 days.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It… fucking… hurts… today. (September 28th)
It doesn’t hurt as much today! (September 29th)
The memory of Kateri telling me, “I don’t want to die.” one day in the schoolhouse and her saying, “I love you.”… in that weak, soft but scratchy voice while in palliative care four days before she died… the last time we would say it to each other… was almost debilitating as I was driving up to Burlington.
The memory of Kateri shouting, “Just let her go!” as we would crest a hill while driving our 5 Different Shades of Orange ’72 Super Beetle through the Green Mountains of Vermont on a Sunday afternoon… well… that put a smile on my face.
So…. today happens to be the 6 Year Anniversary of employment at my job. I know, I know… doesn’t seem to be like a huge deal, but for me… it kinda is… for a few reasons. Shortly after Kateri died, I needed to put some parameters/guidelines/goals/rules on my life. The whole experience is just an onslaught of everything and I didn’t wanna just lose my shit… so I told myself I wouldn’t make any “Big Life” decisions until at least today, September 23, 2019. It seemed like a decent amount of time to at least let the dust settle… figure a few things out… learn a few things… and a point to just check in with myself. The other reason… is purely financial.
First… the financial side. I’m pretty sure that as of today, I will be fully vested as an Employee Owner of the company I work for! For my company! It’s an ESOP… Employee Stock Ownership Plan… so a few hundred and some other people can say the same thing… but whatever! (Which means, I ain’t no CEO,CFO, PPO, MTG, DRM or anything… just plain ODD) Basically, we get money when we leave the company as it buys back our stocks… or something… it’s a good retirement thing. Fully vested=I get 100% of those stocks instead of 60% or 20% n such. Plus… wait for it… I get………….. A VEST! Embroidery and all! But really… it’s about the money. Since I just lost a good chunk of my household income when Kateri died, I figured sticking around for at least 17 months seemed worth the financial return. (I’m soooo pragmatic!… and thinking of my future!). The fact that I like my job, coworkers, company, and most of the guests made the decision to use Sept. 23rd as a target date pretty simple.
Ummm… honestly… yes, getting vested is sort of a fun thing for me… but there other things I have attached to that date, as well. Like some of those “Big Life” questions that losing a spouse brings up in the widowed person’s life. The questions it has brought up for me, in my life with the loss of Kateri… are significant. Questions like:
Who do I want to be? Who am I?… me?… now that I’m by myself? (yup, still me… but it’s different)
Where do I want to be?… Vermont?, Rockies?, somewhere completely new and/or different? Travel? Stay put?
What fulfills me?
What do I enjoy?… What puts a smile on my face?
What options do I have for any given obstacle?
How will I keep my home?… Do I keep my home? (definitely yes. I’ve answered that one on multiple occasions from a couple of different angles for myself… and plus… my house is totally fucking cute)
Then… How will I make more money?… doing something I wanna do!
I’m actually willing to do things I don’t wanna do… I’m just not willing to do them right now! I’m not there yet… and I’m not gonna start there, neither!
What do I want to do professionally?… Hmmmmm. (I still enjoy what I do and take pride in my work, but 25 years is a long time to do one thing!)
Now it’s September 23 (well, the 25th really) and I am happy to inform you……… I haven’t really answered too many of those questions! But one thing I love about my life are the little things that happen to pop up at the perfect times… sometimes… like this afternoon. I stopped to get gas and as I was pulling away I noticed I hadn’t shut the cover to the fuel filler inlet (yes… I just asked the Oracle what it was called!), so I pulled into a parking space to shut it. As I got out of the car, my phone started doing it’s little shimmy and shake as a friend was giving me a call. After a couple of “Hey Bud!”s it quickly went to… “How would you like to come work for me in blah blah blah?”. Then I heard a crashing in the background… an “I gotta go!”… and we made a plan to catch up later. It was kind of an unexpected thing
I’ll let you know, we chatted for about 2 and a half hours… along with another friend of mine (who happens to be his wife)… and a majority of that was simply catching up. Yes, we spoke about the possibilities of working together again and I asked my initial questions, but there are a lot… A LOT!… more questions that need to be asked that also need to have some pretty specific answers! But that’s not what I found most exciting about this little “catch up”. For me, the fact that a really good friend of mine happened to have an idea on this day… and he decided to share his idea with me on a day in which I have put quite a bit of personal significance on… just warmed me to the bone! The timing! It’s experiences like these that make me think about how things just fall in line once in a while to make you feel good!… to put a smile on your face! I’m not saying I’m quitting my job and am just gonna thrust myself into a new kind of life quite yet, but the fact that it even came up was just… perfect. (Kind of like when Heman stopped by and introduced himself the day after Kateri passed!… wonderful experiences.)
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I’m getting a new woodstove tomorrow…! I’ve been super excited about it and I’m sure I’ll share at some point, but it sorta just hit me… I have some pretty significant memories attached to this woodstove!… (like Kateri laying next to it… on a pad that a dear dear friend had made her… as she lived with cancer… the last four months of her life.)
She kept the fire going. It kept her warm. It made her feel good. She was there a lot.
Yup, totally had one of those sobbing moments with those memories tonight… and then I realized how much I’ve adapted to those things as I was crying away while getting the fire going. Still got shit to do!… wet face action or not!
There was no real need for a fire tonight except for the fact that I wanted to have one more!… for Old Times’ sake! I’m sentimental n shit.
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’ll make this short n sweet since I had no plans on opening up the computer in bed when I woke up this morning! It was a Facebook post that sorta hit me… and I subsequently sorta lost it. It was from my sister and she was talking about how you don’t just marry your spouse… you become part of a family. She posted this because my brother-in-law’s mother passed away… her mother-in-law… and it just made me think about how death touches us all the time… from all sorts of different angles.
I know my sister is hurting from the loss, but she wasn’t who I focused on at first. My heart sank for my brother-in-law… because he just lost his mom. There was a flood of emotions as I read her post, but it was the thought (and my own made up image) of my sister holding her husband… consoling him… loving him… and showing him that she loves him that hit me. Her being there for him. Her being his wife. And him being a husband who is needing to look to his wife for strength, love, and support.
I love my brother-in-law. He is a good man. A strong man. A good father. A good husband. A good person… a friend. He is family… and he just lost his mom. I’m glad he has my sister to be there for him… she’s one tough cookie. Oh, I’m sure she’ll have her moments of weakness and he’ll need to be there for her, as well, but she’ll be ok. They are both pretty amazing people, a pretty amazing team… with an impressively resilient family.
One part of relationships is being there for each other in all sorts of situations. It can get messy and confusing like having to be there for your wife even though it’s your mother that passed away… but death affects everyone involved… and we all deal with it differently.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
T—-I’m so sorry you won’t be able to hold your mother anymore or call her up or hear her voice in the other room. I’m sorry that you have to feel this loss. I’m sorry that it hurts. I’m glad that you have my sister by your side and family to help ease the pain. I love you. I wish I could be there and give you a hug. I wish I could be there for you… for my brother.
I still love the memory of when in my senior year of high school you let me borrow your jacked up Nissan for a graduation event/party and at one point the grill went flying into the front yard when we couldn’t get the light fixed or something! (don’t actually remember what the issue was, but it was exciting!)
Death is complicated. Death and how it affects family and friends is complicated. Death and how it affects relationships is complicated. There’s so much that goes into the experience of death that the best description I have been able to come up with is… it’s complicated. Well, traumatic… and complicated.
ps… Remember, you can always follow the blog! Just sign up! It’ll just go to your inbox! Don’t even need to read it!
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.
Ya… so… yesterday I wondered what it would be like to read one of my blog posts and record it. Well, the reading of it was emotional… and the process of trying to record myself (and then watching it)… was interesting. Long story short, on the drive home tonight I was thinking about it being Widower Day 500 today… good, solid number… and just thought I would share something with the widows and widowers out there. (ummm… you can watch this even if you haven’t lost a spouse… it’s ok. Just to forewarn ya, though… it’s eight minutes long) There’s no real significance to the number 500 for me… but for some reason… seems like there should be!
Sooooo, this is me reading my “Random Widower Thoughts” page… n stuff.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Honestly, I kinda enjoyed Widower Day 500… it was kinda funny. (you should’ve seen my “recording” set up!… entertaining sight I’m sure!)
I’d just like to say that I still wish I lived back in the old timey days before all this technology… like the 1800’s… minus all the bad stuff.
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!
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!
The other evening I was going through videos on my phone that I had made last summer… when I was trying to figure out what the effe just happened to my world… and I came across this picture that I had taken on July 1st, 2018. Sooooo, that would’ve been Widower Day 70… and it’s weird to think I’m at 436 now partly because much of the last 14 and whatever months are in some ways a blur… and foggy. But I remember taking this picture because of the significance of what the date on the newspaper reminded me of… April 22nd… the day Kateri died… 70 days earlier.
It was hot that week… a year ago. Come to think of it… it’s hot right now a year later! Hmmm, maybe we should track these trends…? Anyways, it was hot… like real hot. I lost a chicken that week… Taco. Although she wasn’t my favorite, I thought she was the most beautiful. She just looked like a picture perfect Silver Laced Wyandotte. Bright white and black with the really red comb thing… like the ones you see in the movies! (really… I have no idea what a good looking Silver Laced Wyandotte looks like… but she sure was a purdy chicken. And… the chicken in the picture is Lil’ Bitch… she’s my favorite) Yup, poor Taco. I opened up the door to the coop… and BLAM!… dead chicken… mostly in the nesting box… little head hanging over the edge……….. it was hot. I felt pretty bad there for a bit, and then just thought… it’s a chicken… and had to move on.
Anways, while it was sweltering outside, I remember it felt somewhat nice in the garage standing on the cool concrete. I had built shelves on the east side with the hope of getting organized. My “nesting for one”. I was going through boxes that Kateri and I hadn’t yet unpacked from the move back from Ned. We always had an idea of what was in certain boxes and I when I came to the large rectangular one housing the King and Queen I decided I’d like to see them out again. These were from Kateri’s life prior to meeting me, so they had always been a part of OUR life… hanging or leaning here or there… and I just kinda thought they would be fun to have out in the schoolhouse (currently… they are in my front little plant room).
They were wrapped in newspaper… the one with the date… which is the fun part of moving from place to place… sometimes you get to be reminded of specific times in your life as the memories attached to those times get pulled from the vaults with the unwrapping of that protective layer. Sometimes you get to open up a box from multiple moves ago… like this one… which was four ago.
We had packed that box eight years ago and July 1st, 2018 was the day it was gonna get unpacked! When I noticed the date… it was just… kind of a flood of emotions and memories. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly how I reacted… I don’t think I lost it or anything… but I probably did. The one thing I know for sure is… I wasn’t gonna hold onto that crumpled up piece of eight year old newspaper for the rest of my life because it had the date Kateri died on it!… so I took a picture of it… that I’m now afraid of losing.
I’ve come to expect these little unexpected things that pop up. I’m glad that I took a picture of that newspaper and came across it a year later. I’m also glad I came across that picture… a year later… and could recognize a few of the changes I have gone through in this experience. Yes, the picture definitely made me emotional, but it was nice to think about my life with Kateri in a different time… in a different place. It made me happy. Those were happy times in 2010. Hell, I had just asked her to marry me when we were packing those boxes… we were moving back to Vermont to set roots! It was exciting! It was fun! And ya… this aint what we planned… and not what I expected… but I’m grateful for the life we had because it provides me with countless memories (in vaults somewhere) that simply put a smile on my face.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I put up bunting this evening! I used the ones Kateri had gotten us… really for me. She knew I was fascinated by it… bunting… don’t ask me why. I bought some serious bunting last year… 6 feet across!… real fabric of some sort and all! But it just seemed a bit much and I’m not sold on them yet… so I went with the nylon or polyester or whatever smaller guys.
I wish everyone in this country a Happy Independence Day!… in two days. If you’re new here to the good ol’ USofA… Welcome!… sorry for the assholes… they’ve been fucking shit up for all sorts of good people since the beginning.
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!)
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.
Now… I’m just gonna say that I’m one of those people who actually enjoys it when they look out the window and sees a little bit of the white stuff on the grass in the Spring. No, that isn’t some hip and modern drug reference I frequently use in this rock star life I live… it was just snow… in the yard… and it was kinda nice to see.
Wow. It just took me waaaaay too long to write that paragraph… and I need to eat. Aaaand… I need to come clean. There are actually no sump pumps in the video. It’s just me talking about my sump pump and how a simple thing like a sump pump provided me some comfort. The sump pump is in the sump under the house through the bulk head… where there’s spiders… and snakes… and other evil things from evil worlds… so I don’t hang out down there making videos. Sorry you won’t get to see the sump… or the sump pump… maybe some other time!……………………………….. sump pump.
Ya… so… that was all written a few days ago… the snow is gone and it has actually been a beautiful couple of days here in the Northeast weather-wise. Life on the other hand, well…. it’s been good, but a little rough on both the professional and personal side. All just part of the process… and life I guess. I’m not sure if acknowledging the challenges makes them any easier, but I feel being aware helps me get through the day as I’m trying to look to the future. The future… hmmm. For right now, I’m starting to think about it… have to… but mostly, I’m still just figuring I’ll see it when I get there.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
One challenge of being a widower is that people try to protect you by not wanting to put more on your plate. Although I find comfort with the intentions, it doesn’t help… it just pushes things off for a while.
Without kids, Kateri, animals, or neighbors… I’ve got a lot of time to think about this stuff… to be self reflective. Because of that, I feel I have been able to handle the multiple piles of shit that had plopped down in my life as of relatively recently.
For the last year, I’ve been filling my space with things that help push some of the pain and sadness away… and I kinda don’t wanna do that anymore. I sorta wanna just miss Kateri, remember Kateri, remember what made our life so great… and try to save a bit of that to bring along with me into my new life.
I’m about to mow the yard for the first time this year. I’m so fortunate to have our home to heal in and I’m gonna try to keep the yard and gardens up to Kateri’s standards (which she made seem effortless… not talking about the sweat and dirt that would cover her hands and face… which she loved). As a widower it’s also weird to be thinking about making your home beautiful… in case you have to sell it. I have no plans like that, but it pops into your head to be prepared.
Sometimes… things come into your life that provide nothing but joy… like Ben & Jerry’s Milk and Cookies Ice Cream. Yes… it helps… because that’s some good shit!
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(Yup, when I started this post it was NOT Mother’s Day… and now it is) Simply… after the one year mark… things are different… I feel different. I was gonna go into all the ways “this” has changed… or how “that” has been replaced by “those”, but there will be other times for all that jive. I just felt the need to say that through this experience, every once in a while there is a tangible feeling when a shift takes place. Kinda of like on the first day I didn’t cry… or when six months hit and I felt like I had a little bit of control over my life… and had to make decisions for myself. Although there is no destination, there’s this tedious little march going on that keeps pushing me forward and with every step, I overanalyze it… and then adapt to make the next step.
As I have flubbed my way through this, there are times that I just feel lighter. Sometimes it’s happens when I come to a realization of something that has been weighing down my brain. Sometimes it was just getting through a holiday or birthday or our anniversary. For right now… for today… I attribute my “I simply feel a little better!” state of mind to two main things… getting past a date… and a text saying, “GOOD, GOOD NEWS!!!!”.
Now, there are actually a gazillion little things I believe that contribute to noticeably feeling a little better… i.e. getting most of the yard raked, not needing to build a fire every night, rearranging the living room, meeting new people from all walks of life… in my new life, SPRING!!, the fact that I’m still on top of sh… stuff, that I haven’t acquired some strange illness that causes a baby’s hand… and arm… to grow out of the top of my head! (although… could be useful) Yup, there are a bunch of things that come into play, but currently it’s the continuous passage of Time during my tedious little march that helps me get through certain checkpoints. For me, hitting the one year mark without Kateri felt like I was just gently pushed into a new chapter of life. Of course, it might just be a new paragraph, but might as well use the universally accepted homogenized term to reference a point in the story line. Hopefully it’s a long story… and as long as there are more pages to turn… I don’t really care what chapter or paragraph I’m on!
The text… “GOOD, GOOD NEWS!!!!”… came from my father… and he wasn’t lying. We found out that my mother had cancer (lung cancer that had also traveled to her brain) 4 or five months before we found the sh… stuff (really trying not to cuss!) in Kateri’s head. For me, it has been quite the experience having to process and accept that the two most important people in my life were handed the cancer card…. and cancer is a fucked up thing. Once you live with cancer in your world, you begin to see not only how prevelant and inconsistant the disease is, but also how many people it simply affects. It’s a strange trip. When I got the phone call that they had found something in my mom’s lung… I was devastated. When it hit Kateri… and then she died… well, I didn’t think about what was worse than “Devastated”, but I felt it. Luckily… time does help.
Sometimes, you just have to hold on for a while and let the time pass. If you do, sometimes the big pile of shit get’s a couple of shovel loads taken out of it by three simple words… written in all caps… with exclamation marks. Sometimes… “GOOD, GOOD NEWS!!!!” pertains to the best news you’ve heard in a year and 19 days… at least for me. What’s the “GOOD, GOOD NEWS!!!!” you ask? The docs could no longer see any tumors in my mom’s brain!… yup, and we’ll take it!
Honestly, it’s been one of those roller coaster months, but for now I’m just gonna allow the “GOOD, GOOD NEWS!!!!” to stick around for a while and give me another thing to smile about. Today is Mother’s Day…. and I feel fortunate that when I’m done here I have the opportunity to pick up the phone… and talk to my mom… because I love her. (yes… I’m a momma’s boy. When I was a kid, I remember crying after a swim lesson… not because I was afraid of water or got it up my nose or anything, but since I was having so much fun in the water… I forgot about my mom… and I didn’t like that.) There’s a lot of crap out there, but the good is hangin’ around, too. Sometimes it’s so good… you have to say it twice.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
A commercial with LL Cool J came on last night talking about how his wife “Beat Cancer Like a Boss”. I think it’s great that she is an ambassador for the American Cancer Society and for the positive message of facing adversity with a positive outlook, but it just kinda hit me strange and it’s been swirling around in my brain. At first, I was like “Well, Kateri dealt with this experience with strength, courage, empathy, grace, and love. She never even took anything for the pain besides weed. She still supported other people. She still lived life and tried to control what she could… and what she thought she could. But… she still died.” Last night, I took the commercial as saying that if you try hard and have positive thoughts… you can beat cancer… and I don’t fully subscribe to that train of thought. Thinking more on it and actually looking into it a bit… I saw the commercial in a different light… and realized that that’s not what the commercial was saying. Cancer does what it wants… and it doesn’t give a hoot who you are or how much you wanna beat it. Yup, cancer kills…. but the message is more about how are we gonna live with it… that’s what we have control over… and I’m glad LL (we’re not really on a first name basis) still has his wife… and that on Mother’s Day, their children still have their mom.
I think there is some “bitterness” in my brain about this whole experience which makes me initially look at things from certain angles…. which aren’t always completely accurate.
Although I feel sorta “better”… this is still an overwhelming experience… life is complicated.
I bought a toilet brush for the upstairs bathroom. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. I’m starting to bring things into my home… for my life.
I raked the paths on our land yesterday (6.5 acres). Although Kateri sorta laughed at me the first time I did it… she still enjoyed walking on them! Nowadays with Kateri gone, I sorta feel like the crazy ol’ widower on the hill raking the woods!… the beard, John Deere hat, and rubber boots don’t help that image.
To all you mothers out there… the ones who are supportive, encouraging, and present… thank you. Having a kid gives you responsibility. Loving and nurturing that child… for the rest of your life… makes you a mom.
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 WOR