Yup… just the vid. (I’m trying to be hip and cool by shortening the word video… but I don’t think it works. Saying “vid” just doesn’t sound right!… and it looks funny.)
Yup… just the vid. (I’m trying to be hip and cool by shortening the word video… but I don’t think it works. Saying “vid” just doesn’t sound right!… and it looks funny.)
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:
Sometimes… I feel like I’m chasing a sun that has already set. Sometimes… I just wanna stop, sit, and wait for it to come back around… but I’m forced to keep moving through the darkness. (Don’t worry, I’ve got a headlamp… the batteries just might happen to be a bit weak right now!)
It’s been a year and a half since Kateri passed away… that just seems all sorts of fucked up to me. It’s weird because at some points it seems like it has been that long (whatever that means)… and at other times it seems like yesterday. Actually, anytime I think about Kateri it seems like yesterday… which is hard… and the main reason why I have to try and manage my emotions much of the time. I can function in society without breaking down in the grocery store or coffee shop… but I still don’t care if I do. Although I haven’t become comfortable living my life without Kateri (I just want her back)… I have become more comfortable with my situation… and all the bullshit that comes along with it. Mourning the loss of a spouse is one of those “Big Life” experiences that happens to be somewhat complicated and I realize I am just settling into this whole grieving process… because it’s gonna be around for a while! Oh, it’s gonna change here and there… maybe it’ll even take a break once in a while… but it’s not going anywhere. I’m just learning to live with it.
Eighteen months. I don’t even really know what to say… which may come as a surprise to some people who know me!… but there is just so much involved it’s hard for me to corral all my thoughts on the subject! Soooooo, I decided to revert back to a list of thoughts that have popped in the noggin of this widower as I remember the last year and a half without the person who I expected to live the rest of my life with… my wife… my Kateri.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
I didn’t actually realize it was the anniversary of me deciding not to drink until it popped up as a “Memory” on my Facebook. When I saw that in the past I had posted “11 years” and “8 years”… I figured today is probably the day I quit drinking!… 13 years ago.
The morning actually started off pretty darn nice. It was a good morning…. not even knowing it was the anniversary of a pretty big thing in my life. For the record, I don’t exactly pay attention to how long I haven’t drank alcohol… I just don’t drink anymore… it’s been a reality and no big deal to me for quite a while now. But…. that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the decision I made… about drinking… because I do… quite a bit. Mostly though, I draw upon my decision to cut the ol’ sauce out for strength. Ya, at first it was pretty hard… but then it was just a part of who I was… and who I wanted to be. I like me better not drinking. To be up front, I quit drinking because it was either one or the other… beer (or whisky… or Jägermeister… or Bloodies if it was before noon)… or Kateri. I’m sorry to everyone who struggles with it… but the choice was simple for me. I never “fell off the wagon”… never went on a bender… never went in and out of rehab or AA… but I also never really had any reason to question my decision. Every single day since September 9th, 2006 I had a reason to make better decisions. I had a reminder next to me every morning I woke up… and every time I heard that laugh. I had that reminder… I had Kateri… until 7:24pm on April 22, 2018… and I still haven’t had a sip. I feel good about that. I know my life is better because of it. And yesterday I used that accomplishment to feel good about myself… to feel strong and secure about decisions I’ve made… because it was a moment when I needed to.
I was gonna go into the whole timeline of my feelings, emotions, and events of yesterday morning… but I’ve decided I wanna eat leftover pizza, a piece of poundcake, and watch the Denzel movie that Netflix sent me instead of rehashing it. The morning basically went: good… shitty… better, with a jolt of positivity. I will tell you… seeing that “memory” pop up… well, it came at the right time! Again, not getting into it, but it was weird experiencing something that I had seen over and over again on the online support group I’m a part of and thinking how I never thought I would experience it!… but I did. It was kinda sucky. It hurt. It was unexpected. Somewhat understandable… but unexpected. Then… on an iPhone 8… life reminded me of thirteen years dry… and the morning got a little bit better.
(wow… that was sort of a sad thing to end on… but I don’t really have anything else to say! And… I gotta get to Denzel!)
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
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:
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 left work an hour early on Thursday to unexpectedly drive up to B-Town for something. Work was fine, kind of a normal Thursday for me… did some ordering, sent off invoices, had a talk or two… but it wasn’t until I got up north and was sitting at my friend’s that it hit me… 16 months… since the death of Kateri.
It was kinda strange. I’m always aware when the day comes around… the 22nd of each month… but for some reason my brain was occupied with other things all morning long. I also figure that as the months start to build up… they hit me less and less. I’m learning to live this new life and as time goes by these dates are more just reminders of what it is I’m going through, what it is that I used to have… than the stinging slap in the face or punch in the gut that would debilitate me for “X” amount of time every month.
I’m not putting much weight on the whole “I wasn’t thinking about Kateri” the entire day… I think that is probably a natural progression in this process. Of course I miss and love Kateri, but I realized I’m not gonna be a wreck every single month the 22nd comes around. Sometimes I will be a wreck… sometimes I won’t be. Life kinda happens… and keeps going… and sometimes it takes priority over the past. For me, 16 months was just another perfect moment in this pile of poop.
My friend and I were sitting on his back deck catching up and trying to figure something out, his daughter was playing with a neighbor friend inside, when I checked the time on my phone. That’s when I saw the date and it sorta hit me… 16 months. Yes, when I saw the date and realized the significance… I had to take a moment. I could feel the lump in the throat. I could feel the eyeballs get a little more moist… like when you can feel the tears holding onto the bottom of your eyelid… but they haven’t jumped off yet. A million memories flooded my mind for less than a minute… I took a breath… and we kept talking.
I loved the fact that I was going through this little unexpected episode and the person I was talking to, the person who’s home I was at… was the person who married Kateri and I. We hadn’t seen each other for more than a few months and I just thought it was kinda cool that he was the one I was with when I realized the date. It’s stoopid little things like that that I have come to absolutely love… the cool little memories some situations have given me since the passing of Kateri. They provide me comfort… when those things happen. It makes me feel good. Whether it’s accurate or not… it gives me another reason to think, “It’ll all be ok.”. Sometimes life takes away the things we think we can’t live without. When it does, sometimes it gives us back tiny little things that help us keep going… we just need to make sure we are paying attention.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
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:
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:
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:
Well… as of today it has been a year since I started jotting some thoughts down pertaining to this whole widower thing on this little bloggery I have called Thirty Days of Mo(u)ring. Yup… a year. I have published 74 (75 now!) posts, learned a bit about how these things work, learned a bit about myself, have gotten some lovely words of encouragement, and have had strangers come into my world that I would now consider my friends… ish. I had absolutely no idea what I was gonna be doing with this blog, how I was gonna do it, or really even why (still don’t), but a few people have reached out to me to say “thanks for sharing… it has helped me get through my shit.”… and I can’t tell you how much that warms my innards.
There are so many things that I want to share, but being a widower is hard… and it takes time away from life. A year. It’s weird to think about all that has happened in that year… and all that I thought would happen. At this point last year, I hadn’t yet finished the upstairs bathroom that Kateri and I started to remodel before cancer… but I finally did… and I took a bath. I hadn’t yet rearranged the living room into a configuration that Kateri would never see. I hadn’t yet gotten on Widow/Widower support groups to try and promote my blog… and then find out that I didn’t wanna share it on that platform because it felt more like self promoting than being supportive. I hadn’t yet gotten on dating apps because of the curiosity… and crushing loneliness. One of my best friends hadn’t yet left Ned for Arizona… cutting off one of our last connections to a town I absolutely loved. Our closest friends here in the Upper Valley (the one Kateri always wanted to live next to, to be neighbors with until we grew old) hadn’t yet decided to start taking steps to relocate for other exciting opportunities. I hadn’t yet been to Atlantic City where “Angel” approached me asking if I wanted to “conversate” in my hotel room (I didn’t). My boss and good friend hadn’t yet left work to make another go at opening another successful restaurant. Old friends hadn’t yet come to Vermont to sit on my porch for the first time… solely because they knew I needed them. My mother had cancer in her brain a year ago… and doesn’t as of today!… (now we’re just waiting for it to clear from her lungs… CT scan today). There have been a lot of changes and learning experiences in the past year. On this day last year… it hadn’t even been three months since I heard Kateri take her last breath as I held her arm with two of our best friends sitting next to her… and holding me.
I wish I could say I’m in better shape than I was a year ago, but I’m not too sure I can say that. They say time heals… but so far I still feel it just changes things. Personally, I’m constantly overwhelmed, constantly worried about money and everything attached to it (I’m a worry wort), constantly trying to “figure out” things that can’t be figured out, constantly trying to do things that make me happy… and always trying to find more hours in the day to fit it all in. Just because I have moved further away from that horrible horrible date, it hasn’t exactly made it easier. I have been forced to manage my grieving and sadness because life doesn’t stop. I still have to go to work, take care of responsibilities, take care of the house, the chickens, deal with the blah, blah, blah… and fit the emotional stuff in when I can. Sometimes it will just show up and I have to either suppress it because I’m about to go back into work or I’m at the store or something. Sometimes, I’m in a place where I can let it go… like sitting in my car in my driveway when I just get home… or in my bed writing a blog. Either way… it’s a hard thing to manage… and a stupid thing to have to manage. It also doesn’t hurt less… it’s just more sporadic.
I know this all sounds pretty depressing… as if there was very little joy in my world… but that’s not the case. It’s a very manic experience being a widower… kind of all over the place emotionally and psychologically. Which just means there are times I’m doing well and feel pretty good about the direction I’m going… and then there are times I need to take a break from writing blogs or thinking about whatever to just go outside and dead-head the daisies in the planters on the porch… because it provides me with a sorta connection to Kateri… she loved dead-heading flowers. She would say, “Pop their little heads off” or simply “Off with their heads!”… and it made her happy. I loved seeing Kateri happy.
I guess that’s one goal of sharing your life with whoever in whatever capacity… to see them happy… which makes us happy. It doesn’t always happen… and sometimes things happen that we just can’t be happy about… but they’re gonna happen anyways. Sometimes, there are days where we just want to stay in comfy clothes, smoke a pinner, eat ice cream, and watch re-runs of Friends. But the joint burns out, the ice cream gets eaten, Friends move on to short lived spin-offs or other endeavors… and we all have to put our pants on to start a new day.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I 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:
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 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’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:
This simply… hit me. I miss her. And right now… it hurts.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
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:
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:
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!)
ps… follow the blog if you want!… or not.
Yup, the ol’ Adirondack Chairs that Kateri and I had bought 15 years ago from The Christmas Tree Shop finally bit the dust. Well, one of them had a run in with a chunk of snow that jumped off the roof this winter… I probably should have moved it before then… oops. In all honesty, they lasted ten years longer than we expected them to! Of course, we treated them pretty well. In the beginning we would bring them into the house as our “winter furniture”. We didn’t have anything else besides a papasan and the stool (our first piece of “furniture” which I still use by the woodstove) and if you add a cushion to an Adirondack Chair… they are quite comfy to sit back in and watch a movie!
It’s a little weird seeing something that has been a part of my life… a part of mine and Kateri’s life… start to go away… and I’ve realized I’m not exactly ready for that. So I decided to take apart the broken chair, trace each piece, cut ’em out, sand them, and reassemble the same Adirondack Chair… with new wood. I wanted to keep the memories, but needed to replace enough of the chair that I decided it was a good opportunity for a fresh start… and for a project. It was fun blaring music, setting up saw horses, and pulling out the old power tools. A friend had just come and helped me organize the garage the day earlier so it was nice to have an open work space after the winter, too! I hadn’t work in the garage since last fall (it’s kinda cold out there in the winter) and it just felt a little bit like summer… early summer… late spring with fires still in the woodstove. It felt good. Comfortable.
I’m glad the chairs will have an attachment to my memories with Kateri… that I didn’t just go and buy some random piece of patio furniture because it was convenient or inexpensive. Kateri would have dug the fact that I took apart a chair and built new ones. If she was around she would just let me go and do my thing in the garage while she would dig in the dirt. I would proudly bring out the finished product and place them on the porch… and we would sit. I can picture her sliding her dirt covered hands back and forth on the arm rests… leaving little dark trails on the freshly sanded wood. All part of testing them out… of breaking them in… of enjoying them and the things they provided us.
Yup, Kateri would dig them and that puts a smile on my face. That’s the “widower” sad side of the chairs (filled with a ton of good memories and stories), but we live in the present and I’m walking into the future. I look forward to sitting on the porch in one of those new Adirondack Chairs, maybe for hours, and maybe in silence. Then again… maybe not! I did make TWO chairs! That’s the perfect number of chairs needed for a conversation on the porch! I mean, there are other seating options and space to accommodate at least 4 other people… but I’m not making another chair for a while. And just so you know, if you are ever sitting on my porch with me… you will witness me wave to every car that drives past. Except one. I have my reasons.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
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:
(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:
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:
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:
It’s 7:35 in the morning… I’ve been up for about 47 minutes… and I don’t know what the fuck to say. I do know that the first text of the day came in a bit ago… and I’ve been crying those good ol’ crocodile tears ever since. Although I don’t really care if people see or hear me being emotional, I am sorta glad that I don’t have people walking past my house on their way to work or school hearing me as I sob uncontrollably while making odd noises through my mouth because my nose is so plugged up with snot! Kateri always said, “Trees make better neighbors!”… and right now I’m glad they are the ones right outside my window listening to me cope and come to terms with the fact that I haven’t been able to hear her laugh, hold her hand while walking down the dirt road, or kiss her goodnight… like I did every… single… night. It has been a year since Kateri has not been on this earth. For 365 days I have come home to an empty house filled with memories of a life that life decided to take away from me… from all of us. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s something I don’t want… but it’s what I’ve got… and I’m glad life didn’t take away the memories.
In the winter of 1998/99… December… Wyoming… I watched Kateri walk from The Chalet (female employee housing) down to the lodge, from the window of The Stables (male employee housing). She had on her blue snow pants, her white winter coat with the god awful neon patch work, and her funky hat from Nepal or some place (I should remember where she got it… she told me… it’s just not coming to me!) keeping her head warm. Kateri would sometimes tilt her head as she walked. I found the image to be calming. We didn’t really know each other at the time… we had just met. At the time, there weren’t any romantic inclining’s yet… she was just someone I found to be interesting. She was unique. There was something different about her. Thankfully, we got along and became friends!
Twenty years later, I love the fact that the image of Kateri strolling through the snow is still clear as day in my mind… and that it was just the beginning of her filling my life with friendship, purpose, guidance, and love. It has been the surprise of my life watching this young twenty something woman from the east coast walking through the snow turn into the most important thing that ever came into my world. I am grateful and lucky that I am the one who got to spend the rest of Kateri’s life with her… I am fortunate in that way… I just wish she didn’t have to leave.
For the last 365 days… and for the four months and three days before that… I have been consumed with either the experience of watching and being a part of cancer ravish Kateri’s body and brain, the loss of Kateri, or trying to figure out how to survive without her. It’s been a struggle. I don’t eat, I find it a challenge to put myself to bed, I’m stressed out worrying about my future, my job, my home. I’m sad, I’m confused, and I hurt… this process physically hurts… but I’m here. I’m here surrounded by the memories that Kateri and I made with each other as we built our life together. She gave me twenty years of memories to draw upon when I feel the need to be close to her. She filled our home with relics which are attached to experiences over those twenty years which I can hold in my hand, I can feel, I can smell… I can touch. Kateri will always be with me… a part of me. That’s just what happens. This last year has sucked balls, but the great things that Kateri brought into this world… into my world… are still here… even if she isn’t. That is how we hold on… to the people we love more than ourselves. That is how I hold on to Kateri… because I miss her… I love her… and I always will.
ps… the video is kinda dark, but it did happen to be night time… and we were just sitting in our driveway. This is simply a minute and 18 seconds of Kateri being Kateri. Yup, sometimes she just had to finish out a song! (love ya Nina)
Although Kateri called herself a “Recovering Catholic”… she still loved the holidays and Easter was no exception. It didn’t matter if we were home or happened to be away in some dumpyish hotel near the ocean, visiting friends back in The Rockies, or with family anywhere… there was always an Easter Basket in the morning. I’ve got to mention that Kateri loved baskets, and if there was a holiday where she could make someone happy by putting little gifts and candy in a basket… she was all over it! The gravy being she got to keep the baskets afterwards!
Sorry, just gotta detour for a sec because one of Kateri’s favorite Easter events IN THE WORLD! just popped into my head. We have a couple of friends who throw an Adult Easter Egg Hunt! Now, first of all, Kateri loved these two people. (The husband was actually the nurse who was there when they had to tip her upside down to put an IV in her neck when her kidneys failed in 2004… after our trip to the Dominican. It was a scary time and she was so thankful that someone she knew was taking care of her… and that it was him. He had ever since held a special place in her heart). Anyways, these guys have some land in the hills and invite friends over for an evening/night of festivities. You see… the Easter Egg hunt happens once it get’s dark!… At night!… with flashlights n shit!… on a few acres in rural Vermont consisting of yard, woods, creek, pond, fields, barns, and culverts! It was probably one of our favorite experiences ever… I mean, at least in the top 250… there are a lot to choose from, but it’s up there!
It was hilarious. I think about 50 of us… ish… packed into the kitchen and living room of their little old farmhouse and waited for two things. 1. For it to get dark and 2. For John to come back from hiding the prize which would provide us with a “winner” of the hunt… The Black Egg. Actually it was shaped liked a kidney, but it did the job. It was obviously the best color for an Adult Easter Egg Hunt at night… and it was able to hold the prize of a couple hundred bucks for the winner!
It was nice for everyone to catch up in that time, to meet new people, to share stories… but once John came back!… it was on!… in the most polite, friendly, and supportive way an Adult Easter Egg Hunt could go! The fact that it was in the dark just killed Kateri and I! They would literally walk into the yard… drop eggs… and not find them till the next morning. You could see headlamps pointed straight down scouring fence lines, woods, around out buildings… and in them. You could hear the giggles of grown ups as they found and opened eggs filled with candy, lottery tickets, and booze. There was outright laughter echoing in the darkness as people tromped through the creek and slipped on the slick rocks. The year we participated, The Black Egg was inside… INSIDE… the 6 foot culvert running beneath the dirt road! It was simply one of those fun things in life that take you by surprise when you realize just how good of an idea it is… that everything about it is fun! Basically, it’s a night filled with good people who are simply trying to find money in a black kidney… in the dark… while drunk and stoned. (yes, it’s also fun sober… just not as fun… or challenging)
Last year, Easter fell on the 1st. It was actually three weeks before Kateri passed. It’s weird to think about… she wasn’t in Palliative Care yet. Heck, we hadn’t even received the bad news of no more options yet. Maria had just gotten to our house the day or two before… I think. She came to help… and to be with her sister. It was the three of us for the last three weeks of Kateri’s life… going through it… together. I am forever grateful to Maria for being here for many reasons, but it really comes down to the fact that I think Kateri needed her to be here. Kateri needed Maria to be with her as she was preparing to leave this earth… she needed her help… her support… her love. And Maria… needed to be with Kateri.
It’s because of Maria that I have this video taken last Easter after we had spent the morning drinking coffee and going through our Easter Baskets (Kateri got me a tent… that’s a whole nother story). I didn’t remember the video when I stumbled upon it trying to clear space on my phone, so it sorta caught me by surprise. It’s hard for me to see Kateri in the “Cancer Time” and it’s quick, but it’s Kateri… through and through… in a space she loved… with people she loved.
If you are into Easter, Jesus, and all that jive… I hope you have a good one! If not… well… Happy Sunday!
Yo… and if ya want… hit the follow button!
This is kinda one of those “spur of the moment” posts. It’s cloudy and a bit chilly…. with large patches of snow adding to the coolness of the image out the ol’ schoolhouse windows. I’m still in comfy clothes… from last night… because I fell asleep on the couch after watching the first scary movie… alone… in said schoolhouse… since Kateri passed away (“The Silence”. At least it wasn’t a ghost/paranormal/psychological sorta movie. And… I survived!). I actually woke up at 6 something, but was comfortable enough and warm enough, so I just decided to stay horizontal… till 9:13!… (a.m.)… and not trudge upstairs. It’s been one of those slow moving/Tupelo Honey on the radio types of mornings… and it feels good. The coffee tastes nice, dark, and strong… and I’ve already gotten to have a nice visit with a friend from down the road. I even got to pull out power tools!… and use them in my front yard while still in those comfy clothes… with the addition of rubber boots! It was literally just replacing a couple of straps… but some people… well I… will take any opportunity to fix something using tools.
Basically, I’ve enjoyed the morning. I’ve actually enjoyed the last couple of days. Last night, when I got home, I let the chickens out so that they could stretch their legs and remember what scratching in the grass and leaves from last fall feels like. I also learned that we all have a little slow motion option on our phones!… yup. As I’m going through life learning about what makes me happy, what doesn’t, and everything in between… I thought, “A slow motion video of Lil’ Bitch, Chicken, Chicken, and Chicken running to me might make me happy?!… and it did. Soooo…..
I had told myself… and I guess the digital world… that I wanted to take these next two weeks (the last two of the first year without Kateri) to mourn the loss of my wife. The other day, at the end of a conversation with a friend, he asked me, “What does that mean to you?”…. and I realized… I have no fucking idea! But I figure rememberin’ has somethin’ to do with it so that’s what I’m gonna do a little of and see how it goes. I mean… we’ll see… it took me three days, 2 baths, a pint of Ben n Jerry’s, two hours and 23 minutes of Aquaman, and 13 packages of pills (Smarties) to get through 8 photos! (yup, the kind you can hold in your hand)
Yesterday… a year ago… Kateri went into Palliative care after we spent all night in the ER (except for an early morning run home with Maria so we could grab… something?… don’t really remember). I’m not gonna talk about seeing her doc in the morning, before the hospital was humming… when I could see the sorrow in his eyes as he went over options of drilling holes in Kateri’s head to relieve some pressure. I’m not gonna get into how I kicked the wooden box out of frustration because Kateri said, “We… can’t do this anymore.”… a box I walk by every morning and every night… splintered wood that reminds me of the time I wasn’t willing to give up hope… I wasn’t willing to accept it… but my wife… Kateri, couldn’t take the pain any longer. I’m not gonna talk about that because… as awful as those sound… I thought I still had time.
A year ago yesterday, I sat on a couch. Across the room from me was my wife, my best friend, the love of my life… Kateri. It was quiet… calm. Kateri was asleep… well, drugged… but finally some relief for her. Keith was on one side of me… Michelle on the other. Each with an arm wrapped around my shoulders… a hand on my leg… one on across my chest. I remember them just holding me as I was processing what was going on… while they were processing what was going on… and I just remember saying to Keith… “This is it. We’re here for a reason…. right?… this is it?”… and all he had to say was, “Yes.”
What does “mourning” mean to me? I guess it’s remembering picnics with bologna sandwiches (bologna was not a part of our normal diet) in the back of Cherokees… in the middle of Iowa while a thunderstorm is wreaking havoc across an empty campground. It’s remembering Kateri saying, “Fear the poke!” as she would flex her index finger to show off her second digit muscle. It’s remembering that Kateri was the most loving, thoughtful, honest… sometimes brutally honest, and simply the most beautiful person I have ever been fortunate enough to meet, to be friends with, and to share my life with (of course, she’s basically the only one I’ve shared my life with!). It’s remembering sitting on that couch being comforted by friends I love. It’s remembering walking over to my wife to hold her… crying… knowing she was going to die… knowing… Kateri was going to die… soon. It’s remembering a time… when she was alive.
(before anyone says anything about her always being around, will never truly be gone, she’s in the wind and yada, yada, yada type stuff… I get it… I’m not talking about that stuff)
It’s been nice going through some old pics, but really it’s not the time. It’s hard, but the memories of Palliative Care are really what are consuming my thoughts right now… and I’m OK with that. That’s what was going on a year ago. I feel it’s only natural that they would still be ever present in the ol’ noggin around the first anniversary. And quite frankly, I believe it was probably the most intimate experience Kateri and I had together so I’ll just roll with it. Being with the person you love more than yourself when they are in pain, when they are sick, when they are told there is nothing that can be done to save their life… and them looking to you for comfort… them looking to their husband… looking to the love of their life… well, that’s when life shows you a bit more of what love is.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It hit me last night… I’m trying to jam “healing” into a time frame and attaching it to all sorts of things. This is one reason I’m thankful I decided to use writing, to start a blog, as a tool for myself as I go through this process. Recently, my plan was to just get all those things that I associate with “widower” stuff on the blog by the one year anniversary of Kateri’s passing. I wanted it all there… consolidated… organized… so that I could start year 2 with a fresh and brighter outlook, but I can’t do it. Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of the roughest days of my life… the day we found out there were no other options (two immunotherapy treatments which had two drugs at each treatment… along with one radiation session… did absolutely nothing). The day after that is the ER. The day after that… Palliative Care.
I need to remember those times without trying to pile on what I was going through after she had passed. I mentioned that I need to take the next couple of weeks and mourn the loss of Kateri, to remember her, and this experience. I just can’t do that while posting and thinking about the time right after she passed. It’s just too much… and it takes away from the uniqueness of each experience. I feel it would diminish them… to just notes about an experience. Writing and this blog has shown me that.
Soooo, after reading my notes from Day 15, I thought it was fitting to pause the “Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning” notes here (I’ll still be posting other things) until after the 22nd, and to remember not only the last two weeks of Kateri’s life… but the 44 other years we were all so lucky and thankful to have her in our lives. For me, I just want to remember the last 20 years… my life with Kateri… and not the life without her.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 15… woke up at 8:00am… got out of bed at 8:45… just needed to be horizontal a little longer.
As I get ready to go back to work, I decided to shoot the entire company (for some reason) an email to show my gratitude. This is what I sent out.
Good Morning Everyone,
As I try to reintegrate back into life I was going to write to my crew, to my peeps, to our department, to say “Thanks!” for supporting me and for picking up my slack over the last however long when I realized that I needed to thank everyone who makes up this company. What I just went through (and am still going through) requires support from all sorts of different angles, from all sorts of people who are in my life in varying degrees. I don’t know most of you and I’m sure most of you don’t know me, but we have KA that connects us and right now those connections are helping me as I try to navigate, cope with, and live with this new life that was thrust upon me. My wife, Kateri Marie Damato, died 2 weeks ago after a four month and three-day dance (she considered it a dance… not a battle, not a fight… although she fought hard) with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma in the brain at the age of 44. She had a rare mutation in the disease that was just absolutely brutal to her body. She faced it head on and with that “Kateri” approach to life. She never asked for a prognosis, never took narcotics for the pain because they disgusted her, she never said the “woe is me” type stuff, she never stopped living her life or being who she is when faced with an obstacle that would have left most of us destroyed on the floor and unable to function because of the weight of it. This has been the absolute worst thing that has happened to me in my life so far. I have never felt so saddened, so scared, so sorry for someone else. I have never felt so many different emotions, so much pain while… numb at the same time. It is a strange thing to go through losing a spouse, a partner. Two weeks ago, I went from traveling through this life and all that it brings (a home, experiences, travel, friends, moments, chickens) with someone who I planned on being old and wrinkly with… to instant independence and all the challenges that that brings emotionally, physically, and financially. To say the least, it has been a bit much.
The point of this email is not to list all the horrible things that come along with a big pile of shit like this, but to shed light on the amount of beauty that I have seen while going through this experience. The amount of love and support from friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers has been simply overwhelming. The conversations, the phone calls, the texts, the emails from all sorts of people in our life from all sorts of places has made some of this bearable and the rest of it not quite as daunting. Life doesn’t stop for any of us roaming this planet, but sometimes we need to stop and say “thank you”. I thank everyone for giving me time to be with my wife as she lived with cancer, to care for her when it got rough, and for the time to initially cope with my life after it had taken her’s. I thank you for providing me with the memory of being treated as a person, not an employee, in a time of adversity. I thank you for the opportunity to look back at this and say, “Ummm, that went as well as it possibly could… for a big pile of shit”.
I am just one person within this company and I know we all have a different experience with it, but I felt the need to share part of my experience with all of you because it has been a positive one… and this is what it’s all about. We are a company made up of people who are all just living life… it’s as simple as that. I look forward to using some of my new-found time to get to know some of you a little more. You can check out my FB page if you want a fuller story of our life recently and in years past (I’m cool with friend requests at this time… filling voids n such), and I’ll check out yours. If not, that’s cool and groovy… we don’t all need to be friends. More importantly, please just be kind to one another, respect each other for being here, and support the people who you are surrounded by every day because that is the way life should be lived, that is the way people should be treated, and that is the experience that you have given me.
a. I’ve gotten some replies already and they make me feel hesitantly better.
a. Paid the bill, my name is nowhere on the account, they transferred me to CS… got sick of waiting and have to wait for death certificates anyways.
b. Haven’t gotten death certificates yet… kind of annoying, but not really. Doesn’t really matter at this point… I’ll get them at some point.
Set up the new phone.
a. Kind of a fun little new thing. I like that it is black like the router… sorta blends in, doesn’t stand our as much as the white.
Keith came over and we chatted on the front deck for a bit (left at 3:30ish).
a. The sun was nice. Had to open up the umbrella.
b. First time I hade cried in a bit. It feels good to be able to cry when he visits, I’m finding I get more emotional when other people are around
c. He’s gonna start working 5 days a week…
Drove up to Burlington for Penny Cluse’s 20th Anniversary. It was something that is uncomfortable for me… social situations… alone, but I wanted to congratulate Charles and Holly and say thank you for being a part of my life. It is still one of my favorite restaurants and I hold Charles in such high regard as a cook/restaurateur
a. Didi and Nick pulled up besides me as I was texting with my dad about places to stay when they come out.
b. I felt awkward about going in, but I felt pretty secure with my actions… I knew I needed to go in and I knew that I really did want to see people. (It didn’t feel weird)
c. People I saw: Didi, Nick/John, Charles, Holly, Tracy, Stasia, Dan Marshall, Moira/Joe, Andy, Carlton, Juan, Sabra, Betzida?, Ruslan/Emily, Dale, James, Clarence/Sandy, Jake/Kristen, Gardner, Sipha,….
d. Stayed longer than expected, but was gonna roll with it anyways. I’m glad I stayed as along as I did to see the people I did and to have the conversations I had.
Drove home, talked to my folks about some Freedom Farm house (looked it up when I got home… hopefully they can book it).
a. I had to just get off the phone with them considering my father kept running downstairs to the computer to get information on it… I was trying to get home… and it was late already, but that is what makes it interesting and entertaining.
Read cards from Leo and Heidi, and Nancy D.
Went to bed at 2:10am…. First day of work tomorrow. Another first day of my new life… more Dr. Phil moments to come.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I’m a cook. It’s in my blood at this point… it’s part of “who” I am. We are not “Home Chefs” or tell people that, “I just love to cook!”… we are a different breed and unless you are one… you just don’t understand… like being a widower/widow. You may get a glimpse of what/who we are… but you never get the full story… there are too many details. Now, I do believe that that goes for any personal experience we humans go through. I may know that you are hurting, or are faced with the challenge of losing a loved one, or that you are an accountant and have to face Tax Season!… but I don’t know what that feels like for you… I don’t know what you need to do to get through your challenges. Nor, do I need to know. I just need to know that there are challenges in your world.
Work is a huge part of a cook’s life… it’s a huge part of my life. Kateri and I were a cook and a flower farmer. We were worker bees… the drones… like so many in our circle. We rely on work out of necessity for survival… it’s paycheck to paycheck. Now, I’ve made it no secret that I’m kinda over being in kitchens… 24 years is a long time to do anything and I just wanna try something new… but the comfort I found just sitting on a stainless steel table, talking with my chef… with my friend, on a day when I was seeing my co-workers… some for the first time after losing Kateri, was the perfect place for me to be. I found warmth surrounded by the hum of refrigeration, sitting on a cold metal table, and having someone listen to me as I tried to explain what I was going through.
I am forever grateful to my place of employment and co-workers for one reason (there are other accolades I can give, but this is the big one)… they gave me time to be with my wife when she got sick… they gave me time to be with her when she went into Palliative Care… they gave me time to be home in our schoolhouse after she passed. It is because of that time that I am able to look back on this horrendous experience and recognize that there are good parts imbedded in those memories. It is because of the time given, that I have the memory of holding Kateri’s hand and arm… when she took her last breath. To have the memory that I was with Kateri at the very end of her life… at the very end of our life… is something I will always cherish… no matter how hard it is to think about. That is what the gift of time can give someone… when time is running out.
For the past couple of weeks I have been humming and hawing over if I should be revisiting these notes right now, but that is one reason I think I started writing this blog. It has sorta guided me through this process. It has given me some insight to what it is I’m doing and what got me to this point. It has forced me to reassess decisions and to adapt so that I can keep moving forward… so that I can keep waking up each morning and keep putting on my big boy pants (Dr. Phil moments). In the last week and a half, it has shown me that I need to take the next two weeks… and mourn the death of Kateri. I need to put everything else aside, I need to focus on myself, I need to stop worrying about all the things that life has thrown at me, I need to stop trying to figure “everything” out, and I need to simply slow down… and mourn my wife… because I want to.
I have tried to be overly positive throughout this process because I needed to… to survive… literally. In no way have I ever had thoughts of suicide, but to this day… I still don’t want to live a day without Kateri… and that is a hard thing to come to terms with when I know I will never have another day at the beach with her. There won’t be another afternoon of working in the yard or in the gardens. She will never again be laying in bed next to me… drinking coffee… on a Sunday morning. As I’ve been faced with that reality, I had to overcompensate with “The Good” in the world… I’ve relied on it. But now… I just want to remember my wife… how much I love her… and how much I simply miss Kateri.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 16… First day of going back to work… first day of the rest of my life. Woke up @ 7:35ish
Couldn’t really jump out of bed. It was nice to have to get motivated to go to work, but I wasn’t in a hurry. It took a little longer to get out of the house as well… hesitant.
Eric texted if I wanted to go to A-Street first, so I drove there.
a. I like that I went to A-St. first… it was a nice warm up… a toe in the water.
b. He mentioned working in a day of rest in the middle of the work week for now… which I think is a great idea. It helps relieve that stress of making it through a work week. I’ll probably work Tues/Wed, off Thurs, work Fri/Sat. Who CAN’T work 16 hours without freaking out?! Of course, I may have a moment of freak out.
Went to Camelot.
a. Jason was there. We chatted both in the kitchen and up at my desk. Work shit.
b. Talked with Diane… I love my desk neighbor. She’s just a pretty cool lady.
c. Brock was working on the dodec and came over and gave his condolences. I like that dude, too. Just seems like a nice guy. Don’t know if we would have ANYTHING in common, but I would have a burger with that guy.
a. I’m trying to figure out who I want to maybe spend more time with or not while trying to figure out how to interact with people at the same time.
d. I had a bowl of chicken salad.
Went back to A-St. to chat with Eric and to see if there was anything I could do to help. Portioned chicken salad, turkey, roast beef… then pretty much left.
Chatted with Eric for a bit after everyone left.
Came home, swept the breezeway, cleaned bathroom/bedroom screens, got chicken water, cleaned the grill, replaced a burner cover (I thought there would be four in the case… nope, just one). Cleaned up the kitchen, dishes, and called Consolidated Communication and paid off bill.
Drove to Bradford to get some smokes.
a. I need to stop… still. At this point, I am also thinking of how she would deal with stuff.
Ate some spaghetti and meatballs
Watched some Kitchen Nightmares (which I don’t really care for), but it’s noise. Looked for lawnmower baffle and new cook shoes… couldn’t do either, but that’s OK.
My folks rented the Airbnb on Bloodbrook. I think that will be better for everyone.
I simply can’t do this anymore… I gotta sleep. All in all, it was a nice first “back to work” day. I’m feeling OK, but still know the challenges ahead me… there will be some new things/new emotions coming down the pike (?).
Going to sleep at 1:00am on the dot.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
ps… Go ahead, don’t be scared, you can follow the blog through email… there’s a button somewhere on here! It just feels good. I guess another reason for the blog… positive reinforcement. (You don’t even need to read them!… just delete them right away!)
I was gonna write about all sorts of stuff… but then I read how long this thing was and decided against it… because I can do that. Looking back on this day (and I remember it clearly)… is just kinda weird. I remember wanting to be strong and positive. I probably overcompensated on the positivity, but I needed to at the time…… And then I fell asleep on the couch (seems to be a theme). Yup.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 17…. Woke up at 7:25, stayed in bed until 7:37am
Day number 2 of work:
Started at Camelot.
a. Went through emails. Never suited up, stayed in 501’s/Cedar Circle Hoodie/Green John Deere hat.
b. Talked with people. Angela (might be going to Sheboygan), bakery Jim, Lindsay, Tony (from Jersey).
c. Put Trampoline in Jessica’s car and saw Karen, Suzanne, Ralph, Brock sitting on the picnic table, they came over to see how I was doing.
d. I did try to hit the major points of this experience and what my approach currently is towards the challenges that I’m about to deal with. I feel as though they were impressed with how I am dealing/coping with everything.
e. It felt nice that they took the time… the “Big Wigs”. I am/feel fortunate to work for this place. It is filled with people who are being sooo supportive of me as I go through this.
Went to A-St.
a. Eric, Gil and I went through the schedule for the summer to look at coverage.
b. Happens every year… the question of what to do with staff and how to reduce labor when Baker closes.
Went to that new building.
a. Spoke with Chantelle about insurance. She was awesome. Might leave me at Silver… why not, I’ve definitely hit the out of pocket maximum.
b. Barb came out and we chatted for a bit. It was nice to talk with her, she has been great through this… both supportive and responsible.
c. Gave Suzanne another hug and Ceal came through.
Went back to Camelot.
a. Hung out in the front for a minute.
b. Talked with Michelle… she’s just so nice
c. Had a conversation with J. He just became a US citizen (don’t know where he is from), but he said it was an amazing experience. He loved the diversity of the group that was there for the ceremony.
Called Knights’s funeral home from the park n ride in Thetford. Rich said they are gonna get some more death certificates and just mail them to me.
a. When I got home, there was a message from Stuart saying they were still waiting for the Williston PO to send them back. I felt bad calling them before I had heard that message, but it’s been over two weeks and I am ready to have the certificates in my possession so that I can take care of some stuff.
Went to the store. Was gonna pick up some hot dogs, but on the way there Michelle texted asking if I wanted to come over for dinner and have hot dogs!
a. I didn’t get much stuff, still not in a routine of meals and I don’t wanna throw shit away or spend money just to throw something away.
Came home and washed the jeep. It’s kinds fun washing your own car in your own driveway. It’s probably a strange sight in WFC, also.
a. Went to clear spam from Kateri’s email and saw the one from Kit again so I clicked on it. He had sent it (titled Thinking of you) on the morning of her passing at 10:57am. In it was a few pictures and a link to a video of me proposing to her at Mcguckin’s (Love in a hardware store).
b. I watched the video… it was rough, but I watched the whole thing. It just brought up so many memories and feelings.
c. It made me really miss her touch. I miss the feeling of her arm, her skin, her hair. I sat on the pink box (which is now purple) and cried for a bit. I went out and sat on the porch and just had that “missing her” feeling… it was overwhelming. All I wanted to do was to feel her again… and I know I never will.
When I was about to leave for Keith and Michelle’s, Michelle from Ptown messaged me thanking me for my message.
a. It felt good that she reached out. I really dug her, and it was my first experience meeting someone new… albeit, she was a bartender and working.
b. The conversation was just so easy and nice and she was so welcoming that I needed to thank her.
c. I kinda hope she stays in contact… I think it could be fun to see where that relationship goes (she is a lesbian with a girlfriend, so I don’t mean in any sexual way). I’m guessing this is what it’s like to meet friends and foster those relationships… or not.
Went to Keith and Michelle’s.
a. Hung out with just Michelle for a bit. It was nice.
b. She asked about “bartender Michelle” … that’s when I informed her that she was a lesbian, yada, yada, yada.
c. On the back deck I got emotional when talking about the challenges ahead of me. It’s nice to have them in my life. They provide me with a level of comfort that I just don’t get anywhere else.
d. Keith came home towards the end of my tear factory. He looked like he should be on a college campus with his button up short sleeve shirt, shorts, and name tag.
Came home. Closed up chickens. Heard a deer fawn in the woods somewhere to the north. They have that distinctive little whine/cry/noise. I didn’t go investigate, but it reminds me of Starksboro when we heard a mom giving birth and East Thetford when there were two in/around Sarah’s arena and by the gator.
a. Played a little guitar. It’s nice that my fingers aren’t hurting quite as much now that I’ve been playing more. It doesn’t help with the going to bed part though… It’s been nice being able to pick it up whenever… which just happens to be late night most of the time.
b. Watched a little Netflix… honestly, don’t remember what I watched (I am writing this the morning after because I fell asleep on the couch).
c. Texted with Matty for a minute. He was asking about places to stay. It wasn’t until the morning that I realized he should just stay here… or at least be given the option.
d. Smoked copious amounts of weed trying to get me to go to bed… but over did it and crashed on the couch.
e. It has been kind of nice not worrying about falling asleep on the couch when I don’t have to get up the next day. It doesn’t bother me… I’m still getting sleep… and it reminds me how I would always tell Kateri, “I don’t mind sleeping on the couch… it’s like camping!” I heard that as part of a joke from some comedian years and years ago… sorry dude, don’t remember who.
f. Ate some Cheetos and a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because I had them. I feel guilty eating that shit, but I get enjoyment out of it also because I never really have had them in the house… at least the Cheetos… but I need to stop eating the crap.
I feel as though this was the first day that I have felt that “serious sadness” that is gonna be coming. Right now, it’s all still pretty raw, but when I had that feeling of just wanting to touch her, to hold her, to feel her hair in between my fingers I knew that a shift was starting to happen in the way I have been dealing with all of this.
And yup….. fell asleep on the couch… at some point.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Sometimes, the ol’ balance scale is off kilter and I have to focus on whatever carries more weight. Sometimes the balance scale… feels like it has 7 arms.
Some other times, I just want the night to last another twelve hours so that I don’t have to get out of my cozy bed… and start a new day. But then… then… it begins anyways.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 18… woke up at 6:12 on the couch… went up to bed until 8:00am
Had a lazy morning… didn’t do much.
At 11:00ish I got a newspaper (still haven’t read it) and went to the farm.
a. Got a Mocha and a blueberry muffin. Talked with someone who I couldn’t remember their name.
b. Talked with Anna on the picnic table about what’s going on. Maya came over on her way to lunch. She was stylin’ with a “Wolf” hat (almost airbrushie), grey long sleeve, swim trunks (palm leaves type)… Anna said she wants to do a photo shoot with her on “Farm Style”.
c. Saw Michelle. We caught up. She gave me a Rose of Sharon (Kateri wanted her to order them) and some kale for chickens. We cried next to the Jeep.
d. Went to the house to see Adie. She has to leave in a week to help with her father. Much earlier than expected which is hard for her.
e. Chatted with Dave and Luke for a bit about drinking and shit.
f. Saw Double E. We’ll get together and eat or play disc golf
Went and got Death Certificates. Rich came running down the hill with them. He is a very nice guy.
a. They looked fancy.
b. It’s kinda strange having them.
Saw Eric at the light in Norwich.
Decided to go to Best Buy and get a camera for the computer.
a. Passed Eric in W. Leb
Came home and raked the rock walls and area next to the road. It was quick and easy
Played a little guitar. Played a little Mappy/Pole Position/Galaga/Ms. Pac-man.
Dinner: Hippie cup of noodles, iceburg salad, orange, Cheetos.
Talked on the phone with Nate D. Jared/Double E/Nate were all texting me at the same time… spoke with Nate.
Fell asleep in the chair from midnight till 2:00am.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
All I wanna say is… I really enjoyed reading through these notes… looking back on this one day. At the time, the day itself was just kinda meh… and I’m sure I was just floating around in a daze. But reading what I was thinking about and recognizing the mood I was in as I wrote down ideas… as I was first trying to figure out what it was that I was gonna do in my life… to survive (because that’s what it feels like)… it felt good. Instant gratification. A talk with a friend. Looking for good in… whatever. Saying, “Fuck it”… and doing whatever it was that I felt I needed to do to feel better.
I remember this day. I like this day. It was an ok day with lasting ramifications. As a widower, I have to deal with balancing this new life with the old. It’s hard to have to sometimes push Kateri aside just so that I can get through a day. Shitty way to put it, but bill collectors don’t care that your wife died and I can’t cry all day at work… or at the store… or at the dentist… or hole up in my little schoolhouse wearing comfy clothes with a year’s supply of ice cream (in convenient pint sized servings). I like these notes because I can see a little bit of both chapters of my life in them and it was a “typical” day for me.
Lastly, it’s just really cool to be able to look back on my own experience and see myself doing OK… that I was challenging my norms… that I was living my life… and… missing ours. Sometimes flinging shit against a wall pays off.
There… that’s all I wanna say.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 19…woke up at 7:20ish
Tried putting down as much notes as I could remember quickly about yesterday because I fell asleep in the chair. Yesterday was just one of those days. Wasn’t very motivated to write shit down.
Went to work today. Got there just before 9:00am.
a. Chatted with Eric for a bit. Did pars, plugged in Ian’s requests, told him we didn’t have coverage for one of the days… life doesn’t work out sometimes… he was cool.
b. Annie got me by the front doors and said how she just felt like… she knew Kateri and I were soul mates. (sometimes I feel like that isn’t a fair term for the living. Grim future type stuff)
c. Work…. Well, it’s work. I enjoy it and I’m excited to get back into it, but I’m just not there yet. I’m pretty much going through the motions. I may jump in the kitchen tomorrow… but I haven’t yet.
Left work around 1:00pm… I’m sticking to the four-hour day for this week. To be honest, I’m not really looking forward to full days next week, but I’ve gotta get into it.
a. Came home to get gas can. Got it and went to Farmway to see if they had any shoes for work… they didn’t. Mainly it was because I’ve got tiny feet and they didn’t have any 7.5’s in clogs or “dress shoes”. It didn’t really surprise me… that’s part of being small! (needed a little excitement).
b. Mowed the yard. It felt good. Mowing the lawn is one of those instant gratification type things. It felt good to get the leaves out of there… to see mainly green. It neatens things up. I’m gonna try a new pattern in the back yard on the hill… it’s a bitch to mow and I don’t feel like dealing with it this year.
c. Gave Rob a call… left a message. I feel weird not connecting with him yet… we’re not tight, but he means a lot to myself and he was something special to Kateri. She was just so proud of him and impressed with him. He held a special place in her heart.
d. MPH called while I was taking a dump. I rushed and wiped because, I thought it was Rob returning my call… it wasn’t. We talked for almost an hour. It was nice to catch up with him. I’m really liking keeping in touch with people. It also feels good to have friends check up on me and then tell me they think I’m handling things pretty well. It was also nice just meandering around outside while chatting on the phone with a friend.
e. Took a shower (because I was disgusting from mowing… fucking dust and leaves) and ordered a pizza and tiramisu from Colatina Exit. Ordered an All the Way (supreme, deluxe, everything… whatever you wanna call it). That’s one of those things that brings me a little joy… the fact that I can order a pizza with a whole bunch of toppings… like mushrooms and bell peppers.
f. Went and got the pizza.
When I got home I decided to play a little guitar before I ate.
a. Decided to try and record what I was playing. Figured why not, there’s the technology… it might help me improve if I could hear what I was playing.
b. Then…. THEN, I started talking to the camera and I realized that it helped me, it was some sort of release, some sort of coping mechanism since I don’t have anyone to talk to at home anymore. It felt good and exhilarating.
c. Recorded three videos. Different degrees of breaking down between the three of them. Might do a fourth and think about posting it.
d. It made me think about doing a bloggy type thing or just using Facebook about what it’s like to go through this process. I think I would have to start tomorrow, though. I would want people to see as much as possible of this figuring it our shit.
e. I’m hoping that other people dealing with/coping with shit would get some sort of strength from seeing that someone else is dealing with shit, too.
Ate pizza and watched some Altered Carbon. I don’t know what’s going on, I haven’t been paying attention, but it’s science fictiony and it’s something on while I putz.
Decided to go to bed at midnight. Then decided that I should play some Mappy… so now it’s 1:22am. That’s part of the whole Instant Independence… I can play a game of Mappy at midnight and go to bed afterwards!… and then be annoyed with myself that I played a game of Mappy and it’s 1:23am.
I’ve been doing things for the past 346 days just to try and feel better… maybe to push a bit of the pile of shit off to the side for a while… to hide it. In 19 days it will be the anniversary of Kateri’s passing. It’s 8 days until she went into Palliative Care… 6 days until we found out there were no more options… or chances of her beating this thing. Her dance was gonna end… soon. I remember I even tried to prepare myself for what I knew was coming… but it was sooner than I expected. Decades sooner than I wanted. And simply… too soon.
For 346 days I have been filling time with projects, with work, tidying, cleaning, organizing, removing stuff, chickens… and chicken chores, moving wood piles, remodeling bathrooms, acquiring things to help in the future (I’m getting older… and definitely over shoveling snow off driveways!), watering plants, rearranging living rooms (just last week!… I like it, but there’s a strange feeling sitting at home in a space set up in a way that Kateri has never experienced), seeing friends once in a while, meeting new people, seeing family even more once in a while, taking baths, playing guitars, keyboards, or blaring music when it’s significantly past the one-two. I’ve tried to fill time with actions that would help me in the future and/or make me feel good… or better. Right now though, right this second… I just want to stop… and sit… and feel the sadness that the loss of Kateri has given me… because it’s the closest I’m gonna get to her. When I can feel the pressure in my temples, when I have to breath through my mouth because my nose is all snotted up, when the words are blurry after a good ol’ “moment” (like this one)… when it hurts the most… I can see her the clearest. I can almost feel her… feel her skin… her hair. Her beautiful black and silver hair. Again… almost. Now, tell me that’s not fucked up!… (it’s not)
That being said, being really sad does get really old really quickly! So I’m gonna go let the chickens out on the strip of grass exposed between the snow banks, so that I can see them run. If you haven’t seen a chicken run… it’s funny. (And now I’m thinking about Kateri’s imitation of a chicken running… which was also funny… crap)
ps… the evening got much better… in bed by ten!… and I’ve just spent 4 minutes and twenty-one seconds reading “much better” over and over again asking myself… “Does that sound weird?”.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 20… (Saturday, May 12, 2018) … alarm went off at 7:00am.
Couldn’t get out of bed until 7:37am. Doesn’t give me too much time in the morning, but there IS enough time to do what I gotta do. I also haven’t been making lunch in the morning since I’m just doing halfish days.
Got to work. Just Eric up on the dodec.
a. Caught up with him a tiny bit. Let him know I was doing OK, but there have been some rough spots in the last couple of days.
b. It’s good for me when its just us catching up with no one else around. I’m comfortable with him. I value his opinion… I guess that’s what friends do. I figure I’m also lucky that my friend is my boss.
c. Actually, touched a knife and an onion… three of them, and blanched some spinach for the Mother’s Day quiche special thingy. It felt good to do some chopping and sautéing. Didn’t talk too much…
d. I did the US Foods order… like riding a bike.
e. I have a more positive approach to how to handle things. I’m gonna try and be helpful, how do I help people move forward a bit.
Left work and just came home. I was gonna go to the store but figured we/I (I accidently wrote we out of habit and didn’t want to erase it so that’s what you get… a we/I thing) have enough food to survive a night so might as well not spend the money.
a. Stopped at the Thetford Village Store to get a couple of sodas… they didn’t have Sunkist in the bottle so I got a big can of Sunkist and a same size can of Cherry Coke… nostalgia I’m guessing. Also bought a lottery ticket… with power play… why not?
Got home and decided to suck it up and sand the bathroom. It took me a bit to get situated… putting on coveralls…. Finding hats… safety glasses… etc. Then it moves to the excitement of working on it… getting it just a little bit closer to being a full functional bathroom.
a. Had to break out the electric hand held sander… it was taking a little too long for my tastes and my shoulder was gonna feel it (in a bad way) if I did it all by hand.
b. I used the little speaker for music. I put it under the piece of plastic covering the bath… that was good… taking advantage of what we had.
c. Dust got everywhere. I mean, everywhere. I’m gonna have to get out the mop and sponge and water at some point.
d. Shop vac’d as much as I could. I’m going to have to do it again… which is fun (not really, it’s kind of a bitch).
Took a shower, Facetimed Maria, watched something, smoked some smokes, smoked some stuff, chilled most of the evening. Started watching Bojack Horseman… per MPH’s suggestion.
a. Maria got to Jamaica today. She brought a little of Kateri. She’s kinda considering the trip a pilgrimage for Kateri.
b. She smoked a joint in the kitchen by the back door. Shut the glass door to “block” smoke from going into the front room since she was waiting for dinner to be delivered
c. Maria Facetimed with Keith and Michelle and they watched the sunset together.
I left the chicken coop door open and didn’t check eggs this afternoon. I’m not too worried, if something can get them through all the mesh and wire fencing…
It’s 2:10am and I’ve gotta go to sleep. This is my problem. I am lost through out the day and find myself just standing or sitting and either staring off into something (or nothing) and by the time I need to write shit down I can barely keep my eyes open… or function.
Thought about posting videos of what I am going through on Facebook.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I was gonna write about some of the things I was thinking about on my hour and a half drive home (over the river and through the woods) from the airport to the schoolhouse last night… as well as when I got home, but… wow… I guess I had a lot to jot down on ol’ day twenty-one!
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 21… woke up at 6:56am to no alarm. Stayed in bed until 8:00ish… got some coffee, had a smoke, washed up, brushed teeth, crawled back into bed with the computer.
This was my FB post this morning.
Widower Day 21… Some positive observations from the last 3 weeks, because when life plops a big pile of shit on you, you sometimes grasp tightly to any of the “good” that is buried in it. Here are a few that I have noticed for you to take with you as you deal with your shit.
a.It’s much easier to make the bed in the morning when only one person sleeps in it.
b. You can play music as loud as you want… whenever you want…. and you should.
c. You can eat pizza 3 times a week.
d. It’s gross… but you can sneeze without covering your face… just let it go! (this changes when you are out in public)
e. Laundry slows way down when your wife dies from cancer… and you can use whatever settings you want… and you don’t have the constant fear of accidently putting her Darn Tough socks in the dryer.
f. You can work on your bathroom project (that you started 9 months ago) anytime you feel like it… at any hour.
g. When you flip through Netflix for 83 minutes searching for something to watch… you are only annoying yourself.
h. You realize that these observations are because you just lost the most important thing in your life, your brain is going into those deep dark holes, and you are just grasping for something to feel better. So that’s when you think about the fact that the bed is easier to make when only one person sleeps in it… and you call your mom.
Decided to work on the bathroom again today. I’m so close I just want to get to a point where I can at least use it for everything besides a shower… I’ll tile the shower last.
a. I went to the Home Depot (look, they’ve got a lot of inexpensive stuff… cheap, but for what I need it doesn’t matter that much. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing anyways) and picked up more joint compound.
b. I also picked up some paint primer for the walls. I figure that once I’m done sanding and clean up I could at least put a coat of primer on. It would clean it up sooo much and make it feel like a bathroom.
Came home and wrote to Ellen.
a. Now, I had no plans to write a celebrity, but I’m pretty scared about what the future holds and figured might as well try anything I can think of.
b. I had started to just write down a couple notes… then it turned into the whole letter.
c. When I went to post the letter on her website… it was too long. Kind of bummed me out because I thought my letter had a good amount of info, let the reader know kinda who was writing, and I don’t think it was too long. Of course, when you get thousands of emails a day… it might have been too long.
d. Although it was kind of a strange thing to do, I felt good about doing it. It felt good to say fuck it… I’m writing to Ellen, let’s see what happens.
Called my mom.
a. It’s Mother’s Day… I wanted to wish her a happy day.
b. She told me that I have been on her mind which makes me feel good. Granted, I think I knew that I was on her mind… she’s my mom and I’m going through shit… that’s another reason I love her.
c. Told her I thought they will be happier in the Airbnb house. It will be a nice Vermont experience.
d. I’m worried about her in the airports when they travel. She said she may wear a mask, but the distance going from flight to flight she isn’t worried about.
e. My dad was mowing the yard… normally mom does it. Sounds like it got a little tall and dad had to empty the bag quite a few more times than expected.
f. They were going to Olive Garden for Mother’s Day dinner with Dina and the fam.
g. I love them.
I had a good cry. Not having been too emotional/crying lately it felt somewhat good to be able to let it out, but it sucks. It’s just that feeling of disbelief… of just wanting to hold her, touch her, feel her hair, her skin… and I won’t ever be able to again. I miss her.
Mudded the bathroom a second time.
a. It’s rather awkward… this whole drywall/mudding thing, but I think the final outcome will be ok.
b. It definitely took longer than I had anticipated and used more joint compound than expected. Not knowing what exactly it is I’m doing… I may have also used more than normal. Then again, maybe I used less?!
c. I didn’t do much IN the tub. I feel that since tile is going up… it isn’t as much of a big deal. I could be very wrong.
d. Finished up around 8:45pm. Cleaned up outside with the hose.
Checked Facebook… there were a lot of comments and likes n shit on my post. It felt good to read what people were saying. For not doing much on social media, I have gotten some comfort by using it.
a. I no longer have someone to talk to. I need to release some things sometimes to the ether.
b. I am kinda testing waters to see if I can expand this Widower thing. Maybe use it as a catalyst to something else that will help me keep my home and provide new experiences.
Took a shower, got into comfy clothes, and made something to eat.
a. I had planned to go to the store, but figured I had enough stuff at home to not go hungry.
b. I made 2 Grilled Cheese with bacon, had a naval orange, and a bowl of Cream of Wheat… and 8 packages of Smarties (what Kateri would call pills) … and then I find myself getting choked up when I think about “pills”… and Kateri… and now I’m crying.
c. Threw on an old HG Wells movie (well, a story of his) from 1936. I love old stories (books or movies) because they give you a little glimpse of what was going on at the time. This story was talking about war… and the state of Europe. I didn’t really pay attention to much, but I think the war was with something other than Europeans.
d. Watched some standup comedy. It has helped me lighten the mood sometimes. I watched John Mullany (I think that’s his name) … I really enjoyed watching him. He seemed smart, had an innocence to him, wasn’t crude.
Fell asleep on the couch again. Woke up around 4:00am and crawled into bed.
a. I have been fine with falling asleep on the couch, but I do need to start actually crawling into bed at a reasonable hour.
b. I need to realize that I have time to do the things I need/want to do with this new being alone thing. I don’t need to play Mappy at 12:30 at night or watch tv or surf the web or play guitar or keyboard or music on the stereo. I NEED to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Well… I’m heading back home to Vermont! It was a quick trip to Boise to see my family… specifically my mother… but, I am soooo happy that I did it. The look on her face when I walked through her door I will cherish forever. The fact that I have never done something like that (surprise my family… or anyone… by just showing up) has made me think about the life I have coming up in front of me… this new life where I am solely responsible for what I want to do… and how I want to do it. My perspectives have changed on everything. What I view as important has changed. My goals in life have changed. All because my life has changed with the loss of Kateri.
With this trip, I feel as though I have taken another step in grabbing control of my life. After almost a year without Kateri, it was one of the few actions that has given me a sense of , “I’ve got this! I’m not helpless! I have control!”. It has also reinforced for me that there are a shit ton of people out there that are willing to help me out as I go through this process, whether they be friends, family, co-workers, or strangers.
The goal wasn’t just to surprise my mom with a happy go lucky visit… I needed to see her for myself. When you just lost your wife due to cancer and your mother is living with cancer in the lungs and brain (who was diagnosed before Kateri), but you live 2,400 miles away… things go through your head… a lot of bad things start creeping their way into the ol’ noggin. Questions come up. Images start showing up… based on nothing except for what is swirling around up there. When I got off the phone with her last Tuesday, I realized the only thing that would help me stop the swirling was to see her with my own eyes… to hold her with my own arms… to sit next to her on the couch and talk… and it could be about nothing. (Or… watch reality TV shows about malnourished lemurs and the veterinarians who take care of them!)
I’ll just say that sitting on this plane, heading back to The Green Mountain State, flying in the direction of my little red schoolhouse… going home… I feel a hundred times better than I did at 3:45am on Friday when I started my journey out west. Those worrisome images that had found their way into my head a week ago have been replaced with relief and the expectation that there will be more than a few other trips for us to chill with each other because… well… she’s doing fantastic! I mean, she’s not running marathons and we won’t be doing any bungee jumping any time soon (I don’t think), but she’s doing much better than… you know… I expected!
I will always hold my mom up on a pedestal. Not just because she’s “Mom”, but because she is an impressive woman… an impressive person. She is strong… she is compassionate… she is selfless. Like a lot of us, she has had challenges in her life. For me, any speed bumps that I have hit at 35mph, she has been the perfect example of how to face those bumps with positivity, strength, and grace… whether she agrees with my assessment or not! I love her… and I’m glad I took my life in my own hands so that I could tell her that in person. It was a good trip.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 22… woke up at 7:40ish, laid there… alarm went off at 8:00am. I set the alarm because I need to get into a more regular routine and didn’t want to accidently sleep until 10 or something.
Finished writing notes for yesterday.
a. Cried a bit after thinking about how much I miss her… rough.
Keith came over around 10:40ish so that we could go for a drive.
a. Stopped at the gas station in Bradford for some drinks (V-water for me)
b. Went across the bridge to 25 on the way to Rumney.
a. It was strange doing something that Kateri and I did a lot except being the passenger and not with Kateri. We came to a town near Wentworth that has a Rocket in the green. Before we got there, I mentioned that I thought there was a Rocket (no idea why I capitalize it) around here… 3 seconds later we pass the Rocket.
b. It was also strange going for a drive and having the opportunity to watch shit go by, but everything is still kind of a blur… it’s that numbness.
c. Took some side roads. One just looped around. One dead ended (no pun intended) at the Glenclif Healthcare Facility. It was cool. Perched on top of a hill. Kind of creepy. Wouldn’t want to be there at night. Have no idea what type of “healthcare” they provide.
d. Was gonna eat in Woodsville but went to Tuttle’s Family Diner in Wells River. Never been there before and can’t tell you how many times Kateri and I went through there.
a. It was a good experience. It was nice to sit at a counter. The place was a little thrown together, but my Ruben (pretty sure that’s how it was spelled on the menu!) was good and the service was friendly, but not overbearing… entertaining at certain points, but good. Keith and I were even told we have beautiful eyes.
e. Came home, sat on the porch for a second, Keith took off.
Finished sanding the bathroom drywall. It went much quicker today. The frickin dust gets EVERYWHERE! Wiped down the walls with a sponge and tried to clean it up as much as possible. Left the cardboard down for when I paint… well, primer… hopefully tomorrow.
Got cleaned up. Had to get the dust out of every crick and cranny. I’m excited to add the primer, then I can pull up the cardboard, add a sink and mirror, and have a mostly functioning bathroom upstairs!
Played music pretty loud all the way to Worthy. Ended on the Caliente Station. It’s just fun to listen to once in a while… I have no idea what they are talking about, but it’s got some moves to it.
Keith and Michelle came up behind me when I was turning in South Royalton.
a. Bauman and Laura were the next to show, then Sarah L., and Jeff and Cristina. It was a nice group of people.
b. Not really being in the loop lately, it was a nice surprise that I saw Sarah… she’s just a wonderful human.
c. Got the ol’ Worthy Burger with cheddar and bacon. That’s why you go there.
d. Had nice conversations with Jeff and Sarah. Filled Bauman in on what I’ve been up to the last few weeks. Told Sarah about how I want to write a book or something… she’s gonna speak to some writer friends for me to see how stuff like that goes.
a. If I can get paid some money to write… I’ve gotta try… what have I got to lose? (I told Keith that on our little drive)
e. Ate inside in the corner. It was comfortable enough. Really, we stood a fare amount of the time.
Drove home and decided to just brush teeth, get clean, and crawl into bed. I want to wake up earlier tomorrow and I can use the computer in bed so might as well give it a try.
a. On the way home, I thought about how I am in the process of figuring out who I am… again. Almost like when you are younger and insecure, but I don’t have those insecurities. I know it will take time, but it falls in line with the, “here’s your new life… what are you going to do with it? How are you going to act? How are you going to live your life?”
Went to actual bed around the one-two.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 23… Woke up at 6:30ish… tried for earlier, it wasn’t happening.
Was able to get out of here quickly.
On the commute in between The S. Farm and Andy L.’s I had to come to a crawl for 2 grown geese helping their 2 geeselings cross the road. You could see the mom/dad pushing them along.
a. It was such a cool little spectacle that it made my brain start thinking in big broad thoughts about big life experience stuff and what we go through.
b. I passed a car and it was just another reminder that life just keeps on moving. The thought of, “you have no idea of what I’m going through!” popped into my head… just one of those moments. Then I realized that of course they don’t… I have no idea of what they’re going through, why should they know my life?
Work was ok. It feels a little bit more normal. I want to make sure I am being true to myself and making the most of this opportunity… who do I want to be?
a. Jeremy invited me to Ziggy’s to play pool with a group of people. 90% sure it’s work people, but not 100%. I’m sure there will be people.
b. Work made me think about jewelry… which made me think about if/when will I take off my wedding ring?
c. Cracked some eggs, did some schedule stuff, made a tomato basil tart. I don’t really care for it, tastes like pizza to me. We’ll see in the morning. It felt good to see something and then just test it out. That’s how a cook gets better.
On the drive home, I thought about how I am just coasting right now. The next step will be organizational, and then it will be survival. Went to the store and picked up pot pies and some other random stuff… fruit n shit, so there was some “good for ya” stuff.
When I got home and was putting groceries away I saw how much food we/I actually have, and I don’t know if I would ever be able to go through it all.
Decided to go ahead and start painting the bathroom.
a. I thought I could paint and then have time to call Paul, but it took much longer than I had expected.
b. Started it at 4:45 I think and ended around 8:40. It feels good to have it look more and more like a bathroom. I pulled the cardboard from the floor.
c. Mopped the house, even our bedroom. Had to start getting all that dust out of here. I also want the option of working on bathroom whenever I want and not have to take a shower afterwards.
d. The first coat of primer looks good. I’m happy with it. The next coat won’t be to much. Not much paint left either, soooo.
Put on some music afterwards… Khalid
a. It brought me back to after Kateri had passed, but before Maria took off and we were here smoking and putting on music videos and one came up of him and kind of his life. We were so impressed by the young man. We/I dug it.
Took a shower and ate a chicken pot pie and a salad.
a. Watched a little standup comedy. It’s good to watch funny shit.
b. Thought about what I would like to do for my video for Ellen… yup, still on that train. Why not?
Went to bed at 1:20 am.
It was a good day… I mean today was. Looks like Day 24 wasn’t all that horrible, but I’m talking about my day in Boise. Aaaand… I ate a banana for breakfast… I hate bananas.
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 24… alarm set for 6:00am… got up at 6:45.
I’ve been trying to get on a routine, a schedule as I go back to work. It’s been hard forcing myself to actually get to bed with this new independence.
(I am writing this the next day because I keep falling asleep on the couch and Anna just sent me a message… she has reached out to me more in the last 2 weeks than ever before.)
Went to work.
a. Nothing super exciting at work. I didn’t think I would be able to hang for very long with how I was feeling during the morning. Sadness had just hit me, and I couldn’t get out of it. Before I went to lunch, I found Eric and Teri on the back porch and said I don’t know how long I will stick around for. Eric just mentioned that I have tomorrow off (Thursday) and that helped me push through the day.
b. I used that weird energy to simply make a soup. I made Chicken n Bacon Corn Chowder to use up some product. It felt good to use up some stuff and to make something just a little different. I do feel it came out a little blander than I expected, but I am also using this experience to kickstart my cooking again and to get back into it, into something. It will only help me in the future… with work and also at home to provide me with a good meal, to learn something new, and to consume time.
c. There are some members of the crew going through personal stuff as well. I am trying to provide them some guidance and to be supportive, but it’s funny going through something like this and then being in the position to hear other people’s issues… I’m like, “really?… how about you don’t take those actions anymore?”… or “Is that really affecting you this much for this long?”. But I have to remember that you can’t put a measurement on someone else’s pain… we don’t know HOW MUCH pain something causes another person. Only they know how they feel.
d. Left work around 3:30.
e. Eric told me the DailyUV is hiring bloggers… or blog writers… or something.
Ran to the Home Depot to pick up paint, a paint liner, rollers, and a brush for the bathroom. I figure, I am so close might as well bust it out. The fact that most of the dirty shit is done makes me feel good and excited to get it closer to usable.
a. Picked out a darker blue. I think the primer was a good gauge but is a little to “baby blue”. I went with a darker shade. Something like “perfect sky” or something.
Met Luke and Gardner at the house. Luke had bought a new dump truck for the Hindquarter and Gardner built the walls for the dump. Our house is kinda in the middle, so I lucked out and get to see both of them!
a. Planned on 5:00, Gardner got here at 5:30ish. Parked on the side of the road. We realized that probably wasn’t the best place for a big ass truck with people flying down the dirt road.
b. Gardner milled the wood himself and built the walls over 2 ½ days… it’s beautiful. It will be cool to see once the wood burn The Hindquarter logo into the side.
c. Luke got here soon after and we all just kinda shot the shit and played around on a brand new black dump truck… you know, lifting the tail gait up… and then lowering it.
a. I felt kinda like the cool kid as people drove past my house and three dudes are just sitting around shooting the shit with a dump truck in the driveway.
b. It did also make me think about getting older. We were at my “HOUSE!” looking at a BRAND NEW DUMP TRUCK that Luke bought for HIS business. We were talking about QuickBooks and shit. It just felt like we were grown ups.
d. We took a little walk to show Gardner the back yard. Went to the fire pit and just kinda hung out.
a. Gardner told Luke and I what the different trees were on property. He is amazing that way… wealth of knowledge.
e. Raphael and Tara came over on his motorcycle and 4 wheeler and met us at the fire pit… (we were not having a fire)
a. They are a kick. It was fun listening to them meet Gardner and listen to him share his experiences with them. They were talking about being in Hawaii and Gardner mentioned how he lived there for a bit and they probably walked on trails that he built.
b. It was pleasant. It was nice to hear people just shoot the shit. Yes, there was a little of what I/we are dealing with, but mainly just people chewing the fat.
c. When Raph had to leave, he and Gardner dorked out over the motorcycle for a bit… and then Gardner took if for a quick spin.
f. Luke took off before the sun went all the way down… and left his pencil!
g. I left a bag up at the firepit so Gardner and I went to get it and just took a mosey on the path above the house.
a. It was nice to talk to him, to talk to someone and he was perfect. I just dig him and find him very impressive because of his experiences and approach to life.
b. Have to mention that he is another one who has quit drinking and has found such strength in that decision, is experiencing that clarity that drying up provides.
c. I look forward to spending more time with him, either working with Luke, him visiting, or me swinging by his place when out for a drive.
Was gonna put a second coat of primer on, but it was 8:30 by the time everyone left and I just wanted to chill. Didn’t even cook. Threw in a frozen Chicken Pot Pie and called it good.
a. I was gonna watch a movie, Life, and started it, but fell asleep.
b. It’s a horror/sci-fi/thriller… not sure if day 24 as a widower is the right time to start watching scary movies, but I fell asleep, so it wasn’t a big deal.
a. I’ve always liked scary movies, but for the last 18 years I’ve had Kateri and knew that if I ever really got scared that she would be there. I don’t have that anymore, so I wonder if I am gonna like scary movies as much.
c. Ate a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and fell asleep. Woke up at 4:38am… had a smoke… washed up… and crawled into bed.
I told Gardner this is how I feel… “No one is gonna make a story about this experience if I don’t tell it”.
I’m still wearing my bracelet almost every day.
It’s currently 6:53am and I’m sitting at the end of a terminal in Burlington Intl. Airport. International!… funny. The first alarm was set for 3:45am (Harp), by 4:00am the chorus of old car horns and telephone rings started… so I got out of bed… got coffee… took a shower to wake up a bit… put on my travel clothes, double checked the schoolhouse to make sure I turned off things that needed turning off, threw my backpack in the Jeep… and headed off to Burlington.
The reason I was going to the airport was so I could surprise my mom… by showing up. The short of it… because it’s 3:35am right now… is that I basically wanted to see my mom, to see how she was doing, how was she holding up with this cancer shit. I haven’t seen her in four and a half months and I just didn’t want to wait any longer to see with my own eyes. This is one of the challenges of moving away from your family… they aren’t around… and neither are you.
She had a doctor’s appointment today, and thankfully she is doing well! Things are stable! For me, I was able to see with my own eyes that she is doing much better than the images that have been racing through my brain… and it was relieving.
It’s quite the fun story… and I really enjoyed surprising not only my mom, but my entire family by just popping in! When I first went to my father’s work… where my sister works, as well… she told a co-worker, “that guy looks a lot like my brother” when I was in the parking lot getting out of the rented 2019 Nissan Altima (fancy). When I walked past her window and she saw my Cedar Circle sweatshirt… she knew it was me! My father… well, I just walked into his office while he was on the phone with a client… and then caused him to fumble over his words for a second! I’m sure the client was like, “ummm… you ok?!”. My mother… well… the look on her face when I walked into the house… it simply filled me happiness.
But now… I gots to go to sleep! (stories for another time!)
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 25… woke up at 8:00.
Although, I am trying to go to bed earlier, for some reason I didn’t mind falling asleep on the couch and then crawling into bed at 4:45 in the morning. The bed felt REALLY comfortable.
I tried to figure out Dropbox. I figured it out a little bit. It should be fun to learn.
Drove up to Burlington to talk to Northcountry and thought I would take care of Community and try to get in touch with Paul, Rob, or Flatbread Chelsea.
a. On the way up I thought about how I think I’m still in shock. I feel numb and like I’m just floating through life. Not focusing on anything.
b. I also thought about the party. I would like there to be some sort of arts involved in the remembrance. Maybe a dance by Paul… some sort of thing going on while something else is going on?
c. Thought about how everything is just a stepping stone for something else… cliché, but that’s what I was thinking about. Since we are getting older, you can see how something just feeds something else… growth. Ice Cube and Dre had NWA, then Dre had Snoop, then Snoop had Warren G, then Nate Dog (could’ve been the same time, but this is how I am providing an example).
a. Launa helped me. It was straight forward and painless. Changed my password before writing this.
b. As I was leaving, I remembered Kateri in the ER (the second time, it was a Friday, Hastings helped her off the floor and back onto the toilet… I was in town talking to Kureisha and getting groceries n shit).
a. Spoke with Erin. I can’t do anything about Kateri’s solo accounts without being her executor. I’ll just have to go to the court and see what they need me to do.
b. I remembered her from when I worked at Leunig’s and went there to deposit checks.
Ran by Flatbread to see if I could meet the GM… Chelsea. Spoke to a bleach blond bartender with some solid make-up on. Chelsea was in a Manager’s Meeting. Bartender took my name and said she would call me when she had a moment… she hasn’t called.
Went to Zero Gravity to see if Paul was there… he wasn’t. So, I went next door to The Great Northern to see if Jeff was around… he was.
a. He gave me another one of Rookie’s flavors. Something citrus and mapley
b. Talked with Jeff, other bartender guy, Marnie, Boo, and Frank… it was a good visit.
Drove to W. Leb and hung with some of the crew. Jeremey, Margot, Justin, Ian, Kelley, Jim, and Jim’s wife. It was a nice evening of playing pool.
Came home, watched the rest of the not so scary educated. (note-“not so scary educated”…? Yup, no idea what that means!)
a. On the drive home I thought about how a lot of people tell you, “You look good!’ after your wife dies from cancer.
b. An owl flew right in front of me as I was passing Heman’s place.
Went to bed at 1:25am.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 26… Got up at 7:37ish… I knew I needed to sleep a bit more… and it was comfy.
Ran over a squirrel with a nut in it’s mouth on the way to work today. That kinda sucked… and popped.
Work was fine, nothing to write home about. It was a desk task oriented type morning. I was pretty subdued and just wanted to get some things done. Not in a bad mood or anything.
a. Ya, work was work. It’s still a little weird seeing some people, talking to some others… it’s nice.
b. Chatted with Tami for a minute as I was leaving. It was also nice. We don’t chat that much just the two of us that often (at all really) so it felt good to fill her in a bit and to let her do what she needs to do so that she doesn’t feel weird being around me.
Came home. Planned on maybe going to the Dinner Under the Balloons, but wanted to paint the bathroom and make some phone calls.
a. Called knights funeral home about death certificates being mailed back and picking them up next week. Asked about money owed and he said no worries (not those exact words).
b. Put the second and last coat of primer on in the bathroom. I didn’t do some of the lower section… running (ran) out of paint. It’ll get covered by wainscoting. Its looking good. I feel good about where it’s at and I’m confident I’ll be able to start setting it back up a little soon.
c. Called Paul. He was fantastic. He told me that he and Rob feel as though they would like to throw the party. Their generosity is amazing and is just another part of this whole pile of shit that is good. June 20th… Flatbread.
d. Decided to have Friday night pizza so I ordered one from Colatina E. I had enough credit things that the girl asked if I wanted to use them for a free pizza?… HELLS YA! It was fantastic. Threw in an orange soda and my bill came to $1.94
e. Came home. Played a little guitar. Was about to hop in the shower and then got a little disgusted by it so I cleaned it. I threw away the whole chain thing because it disgusts me a bit, but the whole shower was pretty disgusting. It felt good to clean it.
f. Played a game of Mappy… and Pole Position. Lea Jae texted me, just checking in. She’ll be stopping by at some point. Glad I texted her back… still trying to stay on top of things, of the people.
g. Threw on a documentary on names and the effect they have on us. Names as in funny/challenging names. Like “Dick Large”. It was cool, but it also made me realize there are people out there just trying to figure out the next step in the movie process. (a note from today… I have no idea what I meant right there!)
h. Texted with Matty for a bit… because it just feels good sometimes. I wanted to talk to my parents but didn’t.
Having to call it a night at 1:35am… it’s just too much right now
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Ummm… so, I’m not reading these notes until I go to copy and paste them each day. I just scroll on down until I hit the day and hope for the best! I’ve actually been doing pretty good with it. I would even venture to say that it’s kinda nice to revisit them. It at least keeps the evening interesting!
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 27… alarm went off at 6:30am… turned it off until 7:30, got out of bed around 7:45am… yup.
Worked. Wasn’t really into going to work, I’ve been pretty sad and unmotivated to get out of bed. Once on my way to work… by 244, I start to feel somewhat OK. Limiting my smoking on the way to work.
Work was fine… Saturday. We had a line to the kitchen door.
a. I was just there… somewhat helpful, but I still don’t feel like I’m being very productive.
b. I saw Karen in line so I went to say “thank you” for the card. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy… special… that she would take the time. It gives me hope that KAF will be able to help me survive in the future.
Luke swung by to chat.
a. I thought he was coming home from Boston and that his family would be with him… wrong on both. He was heading to Boston for Binks’ graduation party… solo. Before I knew he was solo, I figured KAF would be the best place for all of us to chat. It was just him, which was perfect so that we (I) could talk without interruption.
b. I hadn’t seen Luke since before Palliative. I told him how I have been coping: projects, talking/texting peeps, working, can’t look at pictures, remembering the beautiful things that happened in this experience, trying to stay positive.
c. I told him how I have been writing and how it has been a nice release of emotions and energy. It has been good for me and also provides me with some hope that it may go beyond my computer. Hopefully, it will be useful to other people. I mentioned how I am thinking about a book and a blog. He said he could help me with the blog.
d. We talked about the Scotty story, Kateri’s last day, the day after. I was a little emotional, which happens when I get around close friends. I am so thankful that we were able to catch up, even if it was just for a bit.
e. He was in our wedding… a Man of Honor… if that says anything.
f. David texted saying he was at Farmway.
Met David at the house.
a. He grabbed the key from the turtle to get in since I wasn’t here.
b. I filled him in on where I was at emotionally and how I was coping with everything. Basically, the same things as Luke and I talked about.
c. We decided we needed to eat sooner that later and I thought we could go to Samauri… it’s close and decent. Went down Blood Brook to show him Raph’s house.
a. It was ok. Food was good, service was horrendous. David went up to order our drinks because we were sitting for so long.
b. Griffin and Celeste were there. I saw them when we walked in but didn’t say anything because I figured we would see them when they left… we did.
c. I hadn’t seen Celeste since Kateri’s birthday party, so it was nice to fill her in. Mainly it was how I was doing, which is weird.
We came home and pretty much caught up.
a. I told him about the Scotty thing and the Heman story from Day 1. Those are the things that help me push the dark shit aside.
b. The sadness of missing her is starting to set in and I don’t know what to expect from that, but I like to think that it is good that I recognize it… of course, I could be way off base.
c. I told him about Kateri’s last day… that was hard for me.
a. I haven’t had to talk about it for a bit but realized there are people who haven’t heard it.
b. It was hard, but I am glad that I can recall the day so vividly.
c. It was a pretty emotional evening between Luke and David, but it was also so easy. This is what I feel I need to be doing when the opportunity arises… and our friends need to know the story… at least as much as I can share with them.
d. Crying felt… not good, but better… or relieving.
Went to bed at 2:45am
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 28… woke up early but stayed in bed until 9:40ish… in and out of sleep. It was a cloudy/drizzly morning which makes it hard to get up… bed is just so comfortable on those mornings.
Had a pretty lazy morning with David. We hung out, put music on the TV.
He gave me body work at noonish.
a. It felt really nice getting some work done from him. He is really good at that shit. I started face down and after a bit my head just filled up with snot and I could breath through my nose or swallow… takes away a bit of the relaxation.
b. When I flipped to my back, the relief on my head was fantastic… relief from snot, not my mental well-being… that was good too.
c. It was a little hard just laying there because your mind does start to wander. Although the massage is relaxing and you focus quite a bit on that, the fact that your head can think about anything meant that it was gonna go to some sad places as I laid there.
d. When I was getting off the couch and taking my clothes off to get on the table my right elbow got tweaked and still hurts… it’s called getting older.
e. He did a combination of massage and Reiki… I don’t really know when he was doing the Reiki… I’m guess at those moments when he stopped rubbing me.
f. Afterwards, we had a smoke, cooked some bacon, and made some egg tacos.
David left around 3:30.
I went to the store quickly to grab a few things: soda, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, milk, seltzer, fruit, etc.
Sean, Angela, and I were gonna go for a hike, but it was rainy all morning. We decided they were gonna come over here and make tacos around 6:00.
When I got home I thought I could bang out painting the bathroom before they got here… I was wrong. I did get quite a bit done, so when they did arrive I just covered brushes and paint and shit and left it for after they leave. (Independent… I can do it later… at night)
a. I have been finding that although I want to get projects done and shit, if I have the option of working on something by myself or hanging/talking with a friend… I’m gonna go with the contact with friends… that’s what I REALLY need right now.
b. They came up and saw the bathroom… could smell the fumes.
c. I rolled a joint and we went out to the front deck to smoke, catch up a bit, and to enjoy the evening… then the cool wind came up and we went inside to start cooking… well, Sean started getting everything ready. He has done this for us twice and I have to say… he has it down (bringing shit to someone else’s house).
d. Chorizo/chicken tacos with guac, he brought pickled cabbage, cilantro, tomatillo salsa, corn tortillas… it was fantastic.
a. I felt good about my eating the last two days. Going out and then having people bring you food is very helpful.
e. It was a very nice evening… I like hanging with them, it seems kinda easy and laid back which is what we/I like. It was nice to get to know them a bit more.
a. Angela mainly worked for/with family in Wisco until coming here, Sean grew up in Miami (gross), they worked at The B@#$%^& (which I don’t really know what that place is about), they wanted a BnB also, they want to buy a house (but don’t know where yet), Sean went to culinary school, they may need to move since housemates are having a baby… but is supposed to move out in December when their house is built (not Sean and Angela’s), Angela was sort of a wild child… said she would love to go back to high school!… said she could do whatever she wanted to!… Sean and I are not those people who would go back to HS if given the chance.
b. As Angela and I were talking, Sean went to the kitchen and made caramel popcorn… love having cook friends!
f. They took off and I finished the painting the bathroom.
It was nice having both David and Angela/Sean visit. I’m still not very emotional when I’m alone, but when I get around people I love, it lets me release a little.
Busy day, but a good one with good people. I fell asleep in the chair until 4:28am, had a smoke, washed up, and crawled into bed. I set the alarm for 7:30am because I am still trying to get back to a normal schedule.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
It’s the second day of my weekend and after staying up way too late last night… but enjoying no alarm!… I decided to try and pluck some things off of the “To Do” list today. You know, those little things that you just keep meaning to get to… or are blatantly disregarding?! So I did chicken chores, replaced the Daytime Running Light on the ol’ buggy, brought wood over from the potting shed… with help from said buggy… and a sled, changed out the drip pans on the stove because the old ones had literally disintegrated, and then… well… I rearranged the living room.
Now changing up the living room was no where near my list of things to do today, but I am actually almost giddy thinking about sitting back on the couch in comfy clothes… chicken pot pie on the lap… and getting lost in a movie in my new surroundings!… a whole new experience! It feels good to have done something today, spur of the moment, that will also provide something new… a little variety… in my day to day. It is kind of a strange feeling sitting here in a space in which Kateri has not seen set up this way before. It’s a moment where the Old Life and New Life overlap in my head… but I feel good about it. I also feel good about the fact that I still have two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for my movie!
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 29… woke up at 7:30am to my alarm, snoozed until 8:15ish.
Made coffee and crawled back into bed to write notes for yesterday. I would really like to get to the point where I am going to bed earlier and spending time in bed writing.
Went to Randy and Vicky’s to drop off my drills. They were gonna mend their garden boxes.
a. We hung out behind their garage and smoked a joint away from O#$%^… who was in the house.
b. They had been having a rough go at it the last couple of days. Stress of everything (Kateri) kinda bearing down on them. Randy wanted to drink a bottle of whisky the other night. Thankfully he chose not to. Although, with how well he has changed his life around, I don’t think tying one on is the worst thing in the world.
c. Randy mentioned that he had been getting angry lately.
a. I don’t have any room right now for the anger. Once you get into anger… it can lead you down some deep, dark paths.
b. They asked that I check out a screen door for them at LaValley’s…. I never got one… or went back to their house.
Went to LaValley’s and Home Depot
a. They didn’t have the wainscoting I was looking for so I just went to Home Depot to see if they had anything.
b. They had sheets of bead board which is what I was looking for. I had to have them cut them in half hoping they would fit inside the Jeep… they didn’t. I had to strap them to the top… and then pull over at the Powerhouse Mall to redo it so that they wouldn’t fly off and go through someone’s windshield.
I was able to get them up on the wall. I don’t know how well they are attached… a lot of nails just went into drywall. I didn’t glue them or anything in case I needed to remove them.
I thought I was gonna write something a little more in depth of what I’m about to do for the next thirty days, but it’s 11:41pm and I got home a little later than anticipated… and I’m… well… kinda tired. A friend and I went up to BTown for a get together of absolutely wonderful people who wanted to show a friend of ours that we love him… that we support him… that we are there for him as he does his dance with cancer. This is a man who I met when I first came to Vermont… who I have cooked with and for… and who Kateri considered one of the early “Pocket People”… which should tell you something about this guy.
I wanted to explain in detail what is going through my head and my plans for this bloggery in the immediate future, but being in the same space… in a wonderful space opened up by wonderful peeps to all of us “Industry People”… is the thing that took priority this evening for multiple reasons. The main reason, I wanted to show my friend I cared for him… and to tell him I love him. Luckily… these are my peeps… and I got to tell more than a couple of them that I love them.
Sooooo… here’s the gig. March 24, 2019 starts the last thirty days before the 1st Anniversary of Kateri’s death. In thirty days will come Widower Day 365… one year without my wife. I am going to share my Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning (my notes from the first thirty days without Kateri) for the next thirty days starting with Widower Day 30 (I don’t know if that’s a little odd to start with 30… but, I’ve got my reasons. They may not be rational… but they’re reasons!). I’m gonna also put those notes in the “My Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning” site page area thing… just in case someone wants to see how this widower dealt with being sucker punched by life. FYI… I’m giving myself leniency if circumstances don’t allow me to get to posting blogs n things. The notes aren’t very exciting and there are some things I don’t feel comfortable sharing out of respect for people in my life, but I feel I sorta wanna to get this all out before the start of “Year 2”. You are more than welcome to share any of this if you feel it may help someone out who is going through their own shit… to show them that they aren’t alone in having to cope with such a gut wrenching, confusing, scary, and lonely time. I don’t know how this will all go, or what going back to these notes will bring up, or if I should wait till after the year is up… or if I wanna even do it! But here it goes anyways!
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning
Day 30… Tuesday May 22, 2018.
Woke up around 6:30 so that I could get to work. It’s a strange day for me. I gave myself 30 days to write about this experience. Part of it was I don’t want to forget some of the things that have happened over the last month, part of it is I wanted something I could look back on as a reference (how was I feeling? Simply what did I do on ___day of this process, part of it is I want to write a book because I feel I have a story that is interesting… I have an experience which was/is horrible, but I’m living through it, I hope that my story could help someone else going through their own shit storm, I hope enough people would be interested in what I have to say that they would give me $ for it… with the hope of keeping my life as I know it together.
It was a strange day at work.
a. Although I was aware of what I was going through and that it had an affect on my attitude, I was still kinda hypercritical of a lot of things at work. Some of which I feel was justified, but for some things I definitely could have dealt with a little differently.
This is what I posted on Facebook after I made 7ish videos to share what I was going through after I had sat in the car for 25 minutes crying and not being able to get out. I wanted to share my experience and be in the moment, but I also realized I wanted to be happy with what I was going to purposefully send out there.
Widower Day 30… In the last thirty days I have felt the love and support from friends, family, and strangers. I have been trying to get to a “starting point”. I have come up with terms like “nesting for one” and used terms like “little victories”. I have tried to stay busy to keep my mind off the sad shit. I have pushed my own comfort zone out of fear for the future which I have been given. I have laughed… and I have cried. I also made a video where I say I’m a widower at 43… I’m 42. This is what happens at the end of what I’m calling my 30 days of Mourning. Yup.
a. I am happy that I posted this. It was on the liberating side of things.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Yup… I didn’t really realize it until I was driving home from work that today was the eleven month anniversary of Kateri’s passing. I felt a little off today, but didn’t think much about it. Plus, coming off of Kateri’s birthday and the ringer that that put me through, I was actually just looking forward to a little bit of a mellower time for the following few days… hopefully weeks… and so far it is. At this point, having gone through birthdays and holidays and anniversaries of cancer stuff… the month anniversaries are just a way to track time. Compared to Kateri’s birthday… or the date of the diagnosis of Melanoma in the brain… or the anniversary of her death coming up in a month… all the other months have just been a countdown to that 1 Full Year moment. So, for me right now… it kinda sucks to think that Kateri has been gone for eleven months, but I’m emotionally hung over… wanna take a breather… and just prepare (if you can) for 1 year. (wow… that just fucked up to think about)
So, out of laziness… this is what I did today:
I took an extra day off at the tail end of my weekend because… as I figured… Kateri’s birthday was probably gonna be the peak of the emotional mountain expedition. (no… I’m not a mountain climber or have any desire to scale Mt. Kilamenjaro or anything. Walks though… those are good) I wanted to make sure I had a little extra time so as not to have the sense of rushing it… and I’m glad I did!… cuz it’s been rough! I mean, yes it’s been rough, but I have come to expect that. However, I was surprised by the amount of crying I did. I was surprised by how early the water works and the “I miss those days” reminiscing started… a couple of weeks prior to her birthday. I was surprised by just how much… how many emotions… I had pushed to the side as I try to figure out how to maneuver, how to live in the present, how to get everything done in this new life… without her. And I knew I was gonna need a couple of days to recover from the onslaught of everything on Kateri’s birthday… on St. Patrick’s Day.
Yesterday, I basically tidied and cleaned the house. I wanted to for that whole “organized” feeling it brings me. It’s in my head that if I keep my house in tip top shape, if I don’t let things turn into “piles”… mail doesn’t count… (and piles is in quotes because I refuse to define what a “pile” is), if I stay on top of most stuff then… well… I should be good! Or, at least I think it helps. So yesterday was my “Gettingshitbacktogether Day” before I’m to be reintroduced back into normal life… and today… I went for a drive.
I had gotten up around six and hit the road at 6:30am for breakfast at George’s… in Gloucester… two hours and forty-three minutes away. It was gonna be my “I’m taking Kateri to the ocean for her birthday” end to the weekend, but when you drive for a few hours by yourself… the brain kinda does it’s thing! (having control over the radio has it’s advantages, though) As I thought more and more about it, I wasn’t taking Kateri to the ocean… I was taking just a part of Kateri to the ocean… and I was taking only a tiny fraction of what is left of her physical body… that which we cremated. I could try and make myself feel better by attaching her… by attaching Kateri to my little road trip, but she wasn’t by my side. She didn’t order bisuits and gravy or shoot the shit with line dude. She didn’t feel the ocean air on her cheeks. And I didn’t take a selfie of us on the beach with her in the background doing some funny little kick… or doing anything at all. Yes, Kateri was with me in my memories, thoughts, emotions, and spirit as I drove 71 miles per hour across New England, but she wasn’t by my side… and I realized I just needed to cover some ground for myself as I remembered my wife… and all the wonderful “Let’s go to the ocean!” adventures we had.
So I had breakfast, I saw the ocean, I sat and thought about life. Luckily, Kateri’s birthday was the day for bawling like a baby so the last two days of my 3-day weekend were a little more manageable on the tear factor and I didn’t have to tell myself, “I don’t care if people see me crying on this bench… as I stare at the water”… while other tourists snap and bark at their partners because they aren’t holding the paper doll cutout correctly while posing beneath the memorial to fishermen lost at see! I mean, I got emotional here and there, but it has been a much mellower couple of days.
This whole gig is just a matter of getting through… of holding on until that one day… that one good day. After one of those days came for me… I waited for another… and it came. I’m still in the time of “firsts”… birthdays, holidays, wedding anniversaries… the first March 20th without Kateri. As I thought about it on my drive home… from not taking Kateri to the ocean… I realized all these firsts are basically the same on some levels… and on the most basic level. “Widower Day 1” came the day after Kateri passed away. Just the same as “Widower Day 244” came the day after Christmas or Day 211 showed up right after Thanksgiving… and 156 didn’t care that our wedding anniversary was on 155. Some dates are harder than others, sometimes the emotions are a bit much, sometimes the date has nothing to do with the emotions!… but it’s all a challenge…….. and tomorrow is still gonna come. Although I would not say I have a bad life, the hope is that tomorrow is in some small way… just a little bit better.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
“YOU’RE AS OLD AS JESUS!”… Kateri loved to take advantage of any opportunity where she was able to say that. If it was someone’s birthday and they were turning 33… well, she would start with a, “Happy Birthday!”… and finish with, “You’re as old as Jesus!”… and then the birthday boy or girl would stare at us like, “What…?”. Now, I’m not a religious man and although Kateri grew up Catholic (she said she was a “Recovering Catholic”), she wasn’t very religious… spiritual, but not religious. So the addition of Jesus into the well wishing on birthdays is kind of a conundrum to me of how and why it started, but really it was just a fun little quirky thing that she brought into my life… that has been there over the years… that has put smiles on friend’s and strangers’ faces… and something I will probably say to every 33 year old I cross paths with on their birthday till my birthdays stop coming. (ps-I guess JC died at 33… how’s that to make you feel unaccomplished in life?! Jesus… he was a go getter!)
It seemed only natural to incorporate the whole “You’re as old as Jesus!” into the day when Kateri turned thirty-three. We were working in Burlington slinging “breads”… pizza… and we were renting a little cottage in the Green Mountains 50 minutes away that looked at the back side of Mad River Glenn. Life was starting to roll… we were at that stage in life where old friendships were solidified in their place and we were meeting wonderful new people to start new friendships with… people who became a part of our family. I wanted to capture some of those people… some of those memories from “When we were younger” to look back upon… decades down the road. So I asked a friend to make a sign and I drove that sign to other friend’s houses and to their places of employment. I carried it with me in case I ran into someone on the road so that I could snap a picture of them holding it and wishing Kateri a “Happy… you are as old as Jesus… Birthday!”. I developed the pictures (yes, they were taken with a camera… with film) and grabbed a stupid little photo album to put them in. When I gave it to Kateri I watched the corners of her mouth turn upwards to a smile as she flipped through the pics and saw her friends and their well wishes. With every turn of the page, I got to see that simple smile turn into pure innocent love for the people who were holding that cardboard sign. Unfortunately, since that album was made, we only got a decade and a bit under our belts to do the whole “Remember when” thing together… to reminisce about turning thirty-three. Now I use the gift I gave her not so much to remember our friends… but to remember Kateri… and she’s not even in the album.
A year ago, our house was filled with some of the most amazing and wonderful people in our lives. With family… with friends. It was the end of February, right after Kateri was discharged from the hospital after her colon had given out… and she was taking 135 milligrams or so of steroids to keep her going. That is when I witnessed Kateri accepting what the reality of the situation was… that she was probably going to die.
I had been sleeping in the spare bedroom because she needed space in our bed to be comfortable. On Sundays I would wake up, grab a couple cups of coffee, get her pill regiment ready in the fancy little dish that her father had given her and place it on the tray with her breakfast of Cheerios and almond milk… in the specific little glass pitcher because it held the perfect amount… and bring it all up to the bedroom so that I could crawl into bed with her… and we could just be together (I’ll admit… it kinda sucks writing this in our bed… on Sunday morning).
Her brother had called this one morning and we were all talking about him coming out for a visit, that maybe it would work out so he could be here for her birthday. This is when Kateri said, “I think I wanna have a party.” I just looked at her… scared shitless… and said, “But you don’t like parties?”… and it hit me. Kateri knew what was up. And now I knew that Kateri knew what was up. On the inside… it destroyed me. Kateri didn’t want to party because it was St. Patty’s Day or to celebrate her birthday. Kateri wanted to see people she loved… she wanted to hug them… she wanted them to be in her home… she wanted to hold them one more time because she knew time was running out. So, we had a party in our little red schoolhouse on St. Patty’s Day 2018… we had a birthday party for Kateri.
Although Kateri never really cared for parties, she loved her birthday and we always took time to celebrate it… usually with a trip to the ocean. Good thing about traveling to the coast of Maine or Massachusetts in March… hotels are inexpensive! And if your birthday is on St. Patty’s Day?… there’s usually music or festivities going on somewhere. One year, we were eating breakfast at George’s in Gloucester (go there… the people are fantastic)… it was St. Patty’s Day… and Kateri and the dude cooking breakfast didn’t agree with the selection of Irish music that the owner had chosen. So Kateri and the dude persuaded Dean (owner) to put on The Pogues!… which made for a different, but much more entertaining ambiance to shove hash browns in your face to.
Sometimes, the plan was to just hang in a certain area and relax… or do something fun and fancy like go to a piano concert in some historical and beautiful concert hall or theater that overlooks the water. You know, pretend like we were fancy as we rubbed elbows with fancy people. Sometimes we would bring our espresso machine with us on these trips, set it up on the dresser in the hotel room, and drink cappuccinos on the porch as we looked down the line of empty rooms and listened to the water as it tried to run up the land… thinking about how lucky we were not to have to share the space.
One year, 15 years ago, we went to the Dominican Republic! I had never been out of the country… except for Canada… which doesn’t really count… and we took advantage of the opportunity of having time after one job ended and before the next one began. It didn’t hurt that we had also just gotten our tax returns!… so why not blow it?! Kateri planned it so that we would fly back into Boston and be there for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Which, if you aren’t aware… there are a few Irish people in Boston… and they like to party on St. Patty’s Day! She wanted me to have that experience considering the fact that I grew up in Idaho… where yes, they party on St. Patty’s… but it just doesn’t compare! Unfortunately, halfway through our stay in The Dominican… Kateri started getting the belly cramps and shits… and by the time we were back in the states she was in no mood to party. That didn’t stop her from telling Alex to take me out on the town so that I could have my “St. Patrick’s Day in Boston” experience. So after some pizza and Survivor (he was addicted to Survivor… we had never seen it)… he took me out… and we got smashed… as Kateri was curled up on his floor in Cambridge… trying not to crap herself.
We never actually found out what caused the belly issues… we thought it was the water! Unfortunately, whatever it was also decided to make her kidneys shut down for a bit. What a way to ring in your Thirties, huh! Although we never got an answer to what happened, she recovered after a stint in the hospital, we changed certain habits, learned a little bit more about taking our health into our own hands, and things kinda went back to normal. (Funny how time makes that happen… returns things back to normal… or changes them into “normal”). It was also the moment when Kateri really started looking at “alternative” medicine and found her “Witch Doctor” (that’s just what she called Donna… who she absolutely loved). After having a bunch of White Coats stand over her and just shrug their shoulders… she was done with them. Ten years later, when she was 40… she had to put her trust in the White Coats again… because that is when they found melanoma on her arm… and when this big ball of shit started rolling.
I could write about so many of Kateri’s birthdays and fill paragraphs with stories of friends sneakily decorating apartments in East Thetford with green streamers or giving her gifts of jewelry like the necklace I asked a friend to make her for her fortieth… and then asked him to write a paragraph on the back of something which is the size of a dime! I could write about the debates birthdays created between friends pertaining to when your “Mid Forties” start… and no, they don’t start at 41! There are a lot of good memories accumulated over the years I could share, but today is the first time in nineteen years that I’m not spending Kateri’s birthday with her… because life decided it was so… and presently I don’t have the time or energy to remember twenty years of good times that are simply all just memories now. That’s what I’ll use the future for… to remember the past. Today… after I write this, I guess… I’m just gonna sit in the present for a bit and see how it goes. Being a widower is rough… it’s hard… it’s emotional. Jesus Christ!… it’s emotional. Losing Kateri is harder… she was a part of me… and still is… because I love her… and I miss her………. so much.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
(I was gonna post a video here of me reading this blog post… but it was like 10 minutes long… and I haven’t figured out how to get videos like that from one place to another!)
I had to leave work early today. I knew when I was driving in at 7:24am that I probably wasn’t gonna make it that long. I knew at 6:50am that I was probably gonna be useless. As well as at 6:15am when the first harp started the progression from a musical instrument made to create beautiful sounds… to a car horn made to scare the shit out of someone who is unaware of the tin can behind them. It’s my version of the “Sunrise Alarm”… something which I will never own.
At 5:04am, when I woke up in Kateri’s chair, I really just didn’t want to go to work. But… you know… sometimes we have to do things even if we don’t want to… so I bounced my way up to bed, to at least get the feeling of waking up under the cozy covers! Wrapped in perfectly weighted sheets and blankets with just the right amount of chill in the air… yes please! And just made better by the pressure on the feet and ankles from the king size duvet. (Which… FYI… doesn’t help the “Seize the Day!” motivational side of things) A duvet that somehow got packed into our belongings when we were leaving a ranch gig over a decade ago. And by “somehow”… I mean “Kateri stole it”. (Now before you judge us too hard… the people were dishonest, disrespectful, assholes who used inappropriate words and sometimes threw temper tantrums… just take my word for it. Ya, ya, ya… they had some good qualities too, but c’mon… there are some things you just don’t do… or say)
The last little stretch (week… and a half… ish) has been kinda rough for me. Kateri’s birthday is coming up on Sunday… St. Patty’s… and I think it’s been bringing up a lot of things. I’m gonna write something on her birthday so I’m not gonna get into that right now, but Kateri loved being half Irish and being born on St. Patty’s Day. Her birthday had a big role in her life… and it was a big part of ours’s, as well. These types of dates… the “first ones as a widower” types… are always emotional to some degree or another, but I think this one kinda put me in a funk. It has made me miss Kateri more… because there is so much attached to the day… the memories… the meanings. I’ve been emotional… I’ve been sad… and I’ve been crying a lot. I’ve been crying… more. It’s somewhat annoying.
Part of what I’m having a hard time with is the “All-Inclusive Experience” being a widower provides. It’s relentless. The brain just doesn’t stop. There are periods where I can balance the “loss” and “living”. There have been times where “living” overshadowed “loss”! Other times… not so much. Right now, it just so happens to be a “loss” time. Yes, there is still “living” happening… just not a ton… and mostly in comfy clothes.
There is a numbness I have felt all through this, a kind of floating/zombie like thing. It was definitely stronger at the beginning, but I have noticed that it’s still there. Once in a while it will go away when I’m focused on something like snowshoeing, work, or eating Chinese food, but it’s still present. It’s a fog that doesn’t allow me to see things. I can tell that the light hitting the naked birch trees from the west and casting shadows on the snow covered ground is a beautiful sight out my windows, but it just doesn’t impress me the way it used to. I have stood between the schoolhouse and the chicken coop to watch the sun go down… and the sunsets were gorgeous, but then they end and I’m like, “Yup, that was a sunset.”. Of course, one time I turned my head and saw all the ladies huddled in the corner of their yard next to the coop and the picture it provided me brought up so many memories of Kateri… good memories… fun memories of chickens in trucks, on decks, and in bathrooms… that I realized I sorta rely on them when I feel lost and lonely. They help me temporarily clear a bit of fog and see a little bit of beauty. And then I get closer to the coop and remember that they also crap everywhere and are pretty much just looking to me for food… and water.
Although I talk to the chickens every day, I haven’t really talked to many people… or been social. I’ve been keeping to myself lately. Not really sure why… just have been. I’ve had ambitions to go out n about… to drive up to BTown and drop off a thank you “card”… to ask a friend about engraving something… to randomly stop by a friend’s work in Essex and snag a hug… to see a friend who’s doing his dance with cancer… and to give him a hug. I wanted to stop by a studio… a kitchen… a restaurant. I actually drove up there… it was a beautiful drive… and then never got out of the Jeep except to get some gas. On the way home I wanted to stop by a friend’s soon to be restaurant!… didn’t even do that. I had intentions!… of course, intentions only go so far when it comes to seeing people. Yup… I’m a jerk and didn’t even say hello!
(A jerk is a tug, a tug is a boat, a boat goes in water, water is nature, nature is beautiful… thanks for the compliment!)
Well there… all of that sad shit just to get to a point where I could raise my spirits by giving myself a compliment! In actuality, I don’t need to give myself compliments to try and make myself feel better. I’m a lucky person and have some good people in my life who are supportive, loving, and fun. There are a shit ton of things in my life that I am grateful for. There are a lot of good things in my life… many more than horrible ones. The horrible ones are just… well… kinda gross. This is a hard experience to go through and there are a lot of challenges, but people have been going through it ever since the first Pat fell in love with the first Pat… first Pat loved first Pat back… and then first Pat died from Metastatic Melanoma in the brain… with mutations. People survive death. It just kind of sucks that it’s a part of the gig.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
ps. share if you want.
I slept in until 9:24. Well, I first woke up at 5:04am on the couch. One of those open my eyes… realize I’m still downstairs… check my phone to see what time it actually was… and then listen to the Smarties that were on my belly… from when I fell asleep… four hours earlier… roll across the hardwood floor as I stumbled to throw a couple of logs on the fire… before I stumbled up the stairs and flopped into bed. It’s a pretty normal occurrence these days on my Fridays (your Mondays)… the pile of Smarties just hanging out on my belly for 4 hours… not so much. For whatever reason, I have a tendency to want to stay up late… and if I have the next day off… helloooo couch-bed! I don’t know why I keep doing it. Every night I say to myself, “I should go to bed earlier!”… but I don’t listen.
Today… I just needed to catch up on some much needed shut eye. I haven’t been getting much shut eye this week. Work has provided some challenges recently and I have been in one of those “Sad/What am I gonna do?/What do I want to do?” cycles… which has been a fun combination to try and navigate… without losing my shit. I’ve done pretty well, but I think it mainly has to do with the fact that my perspective on life has been changed so drastically since the loss of Kateri… my perspective on what is important… that I kinda have been floating through it in a numb state… with a laissez faire attitude. Of course, chaos and heartache are still taking turns giving me noogies.
I’ve come to expect the unexpected emotional roller coaster, which sounds like it would make it easier to deal with situations when they arise… but sometimes those unexpected emotions are REALLY unexpected… like when I’m trying to free up space on my phone by deleting pictures and I come across the one taken on April 26, 2018… four days after Kateri passed… of her hair stuck to the side of the downstairs shower that we had been using since we were still trying to remodel the one upstairs at the time of her passing.
I remember that moment from ten and a half months ago. I saw that clump of hair… of her hair… right there! A physical part of her that I could see and touch… just hanging out on the side of the shower… and I wanted to hold on to how that made me feel. I guess that meant I needed to take a picture of it… so that I could go through all that again 10 and a half months later when I needed more storage on my phone.
In a previous life, a life before cancer, I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I would’ve grabbed some TP (I don’t know why I never just used my fingers… it’s just hair) and thrown away the clump of hair. This time… that clump of hair had significance… much more than I ever expected a clump of hair to have! It was a physical reminder of our life together. It was the catalyst to my brain remembering when I would pull a piece of hair off of my shoulder… or out of my much shorter beard… and Kateri would say, “Those are my Love Strings!”. Man I miss those Love Strings.
Other times, after Kateri would drag her fingers through her hair and she was left with a nest of black, silver, and grey Love Strings… and she would make a little bow out of them. I remember some of her siblings… one in particular… being somewhat grossed out by these festive little hairy homemade neckties. So, over the years, we had done what we needed to do… and from time to time would mail them to her. I mean, who wouldn’t get excited about getting a clump of hair in the mail!… in the shape of a bow! At the time, it was just a funny kinda thing. Nowadays, it’s a wonderful memory of Kateri that puts a smile on my face… I mean, once I finish with the waterworks… because I even miss the clumps of hair in the shower.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
66 Days late… but it still looks like Christmas! Well, minus the tree, presents, ceramic villages, big red bows, Christmas cookies, kinda creepy/kinda fantastic little wooden Carolers, stockings, Christmas lights… besides the ones lighting up the chicken coop!, ornaments, Elf, and fried dough. So really… there’s just a lot of snow… and it’s cold. Both of which I’m fine with. The wood stove helps.
I opened my computer to make some notes of things I didn’t wanna forget… and then found this little gem… and have since forgotten what it was I didn’t wanna forget. I’m sure it was some sort of… “I was watering her plants and it made me think of when she would… blah blah blah” thing. You know… when you think about how you can hear your wife’s laugh in your head… and then realize you will never hear it again unless it’s in some video or some shit. Or maybe I was thinking about Kateri and her invisible suit. The one she would put on when she didn’t want anyone to see her… at least the people she didn’t want to see. I would look over at her in the passenger seat as she scanned out the window for possible unwanted sightings… from unwanted people. She seemed so innocent to me at those times. She was like a kid. She found enjoyment in pretending that people couldn’t see her… all because of her invisible suit. And that smile when we got through town?! Hell, Kateri’s smile… and that laugh!… simply beautiful.
All of that to say I saw this draft and just wanted to make sure it made itself onto the old Bloggery. Merry Christmas!… in March.
Widower Day 246… First Christmas Alone… But Another One With Maria.
I was gonna document on Christmas… but it just wasn’t the time. I was gonna document the day after… but then I de-Christmafied. Plus, Christmas was definitely one of those emotional roller coaster type couple of days that leaves you wanting to just lay on the couch and flip through Netflix for 73 minutes trying to find something mindless to fall asleep to. Of course, I have fallen asleep while looking for something to watch on more than one occasion. Long story short… Christmas was exactly what it was supposed to be… just not how I would’ve preferred.
I’ve known for quite a while that I was going to be home at the schoolhouse for Christmas. After being in Idaho last year and Kateri staying here… I just needed to be home. I’ve also known that I was either going to be alone or Maria would be here… and thankfully, I got to spend it with Maria. Kateri loved Christmas… and if you threw Maria into the mix during the holidays… Hark the Angels I tell ya! Definitely “Festive to the Left!”. Kateri, Maria, and I have spent more time together during the holidays than we have with anyone else (in “Adult” life). For this Christmas… I feel Maria and I both needed to spend it together… at the schoolhouse.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Sometimes… I think to myself, “I just don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.”
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
(This is where I was gonna insert the artsy picture of the Lever 2000 eight pack sitting on Juanita… that’s the table’s name… with my cute little rubber duck in the background, but I didn’t know if you get in trouble for doing stuff like that on bloggery things!)
I’ve been on a little “lists” kick lately. I feel like there’s just so many thoughts running through my head… and I don’t have Kateri to blurt them out to anymore! That, in conjunction with the whole “feel like you’re running out of time” gig you get when life seems to be overwhelming… well, lists help me organize… and remember.
There’s so much that I wanna do, but I’m in the time of frantically doing just a bit of this… and then just a bit of that… with long pauses in between. I look forward to swimming… and not treading water. Plus, it’ll be warm… because you swim when it’s warm… and hopefully without little blood sucking slimy things… they’re gross.
So this is just me at ten months a widower… 10 months without Kateri… making notes of a couple of thoughts.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Straight up… just a list of things I’ve been thinking about. 300 seemed like a number to do something on! I mean, besides work, kindling, chickens, baths… well, bath. I took a bath… not the chickens. (It’s too cold for them to take baths right now… and they don’t have towels)
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
Being a widower is hard, but losing Kateri has been harder (it makes sense to me). Either way… it’s apparently not the end of the world.
It was quite the psychological and emotional hit when Facebook started sending me notifications that only I could see my posts because I had “Violated Community Standards”… and then they removed them from my page. Those little messages brought up all sorts of questions for me… questions about my blog and it’s content. Did I infringe on some Trademark? Did I offend someone?… (Which I don’t really care if I do. I just don’t wanna say something and have someone think I’m trying to be mean or malicious. I know I can be a jerk… but I’m really trying not to be!) Questions about technology! Did I not set something up correctly? Why do these sites/apps/corporations work together, but these other ones don’t? Where do I go for help?
I’ve never really been a tech guy. I can check my email on my phone, post pictures on Instagram and have them show up of Facebook. I’ve only seen Twitter because of this blog. When I was setting it up, it asked if I wanted to link it to my twitter account… or create one or something. I thought, “Why not?! That might be useful somehow, right? I can tweet!”. So, I’ve now got the app. I know I set up an account. I know I have one Jamaican follower… pretty sure… but I haven’t done anything more than that! Haven’t even seen it for months! (You kids with your dancing and your Rock n Roll!) Kateri and I were just doing other things. “Screen Time” (besides the boob tube) was pretty darn minimal… compared to a majority of the country. But things change… and the loss of Kateri has had a profound affect on me and my life. There are things I want to do… and there are things that I need to do. If dipping my toe into the modern digital world will help me overcome some challenges and obtain some goals… well… I’m not afraid to download the app! (Until I delete it because my phone keeps harassing me that the storage is full with the gray bar… not the blue, yellow, or red bars… and I don’t know what “other” means… so I just start deleting shit)
Now back to Facebook, Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning, and the thoughts and emotions that an algorithm forced me to face. Initially, I thought I had done something wrong like mention a card company… or boobs. Then I thought maybe I had said something or mentioned someone that someone was offended by. Or maybe something was taken as a threat… like me mentioning I hope I don’t see certain doctors outside of certain walls… which I don’t. I had no idea how I had “Violated Community Standards” and it was frustrating trying to find answers. No, I don’t want to ask “The Community” how they had to deal with this same issue… I want to talk to the person/company who took down my links! I just wanted someone to tell me… specifically… what the violation was so that I could fix it! (Sorry, I’m getting all worked up!) It was frustrating, but my lack of computer skills, my limited social media/blog/internet skills, and Facebook’s limited communication skills gave me the opportunity to overcome a challenge. It also gave me the opportunity to see that people care about me and are there to help, to give guidance when I am faced with those challenges. That part was awesome.
It was one of those friends who mentioned to me that after they had done a little research… read some blogs… that maybe Facebook thought I was Spam. Me?… SPAM?!… but it made sense. The social media world is all just algorithms… and I knew I had recently posted a ton of links to my page. Plus, I remembered seeing a little “This is not spam” or something button, so I was just gonna go with it… and it made me feel better about the situation. When I saw that the same thing had happened to a blog I follow (From Cave Walls… I dig it) I decided that I just wasn’t gonna worry about if I had done something wrong or what not.
I feel the need to share a bit of my thought process on Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning, the timeline, and some of my intentions with sharing the experience of losing Kateri. At first, at the very beginning, it was as simple as “I don’t wanna forget”. So on that first night, after I crawled into our bed for the first time in months… for the first time alone… I wrote shit down. Now comes a little insight into the mind of a widower… well, I guess into my widower mind. When I first lost Kateri, right after watching cancer cause her physical pain and force her to live with an unexpected outlook on life… after seeing it create the worry in her eyes… and me trying everything I could to hold on to the last experiences I was going to have with my wife… I was confused, lost, scared, and felt absolutely alone. I freaked out. My brain was going 8 million miles a minute… but through the dense fog that cancer creates when it comes into your life. And when it took Kateri away, for me it blocked out all those other good memories that were on the other side. Writing things down helped me cope with some of the ugly emotional stuff. It helped me be reflective on this experience. It helped me remember. And I hoped it would help make room for some of the other twenty years of good memories.
As I was trying to maneuver the gauntlet of grief that life had slapped me with, it also reminded me that I live in the real world and there are other challenges besides just the emotional and psychological ones. I was worried about my future (even though the future was a hard thing to think about right after losing Kateri). Through the thoughtfulness and graciousness of friends, family, and strangers I didn’t have to worry about the immediate future of my finances, but it occurred to me that I needed to figure out some way to make up for going from a two income household to one… so I thought about what is was that I wanted to do… and started flinging shit against the wall hoping something would stick. Hence, Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning. All I felt like I had was this experience… so maybe I could take it and turn it into something positive for my life. Maybe there would be people out there who were interested in what I had to say. Maybe those people would get something out of me sharing what it was that I was going through. Whether it be entertainment, inspiration, reflections on their own their own lives, or just a check-in from a friend. I felt Kateri’s and my life was a good story… a very sad story… but a good one. Why not share it? I also wanted people facing adversity to see that they’re not alone. So I started the process with a blog. (well, I started by emailing Ellen DeGeneres asking for help, but she didn’t respond… so I went with the next logical thought of, “maybe I’ll write a book?!”… which also hasn’t happened)
Creating this blog has been a learning experience. It has been therapeutic. With each blog post I learn a little bit more about who I am, who I want to be, what it is I want to do, and how I am going to do it. Every time someone visits Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning… I feel good. Every time someone likes a blog post or leaves a comment… I feel good. When someone I have never met emails me saying that they can totally relate to my words because they just lost their husband or wife and it has helped them… I feel good. This blog has led me to Widower/Widow forums and support groups which have been fulfilling, insightful, and have provided perspective… which has made me feel good. So when Facebook’s algorithm decided I was spam and I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to share my story on the one social media platform I know… it was kind of a personal and emotional hit. Although I don’t really know where this blog or experience is gonna take me or what doors it may open or how long it will keep going… I do know that it feels better when 47 people check out a blog post than when 3 do! (That whole positive affirmation thing)
The lesson I learned through Facebook blocking my posts (for whatever reason) was that I still have hopes and dreams. They may change here and there or may be tweaked because of this experience or that, but I still have them… even on days I don’t wanna get out of bed or mingle with society. I have been given a new life and I am in the process of relearning what those hopes and dreams are. I have goals… and there will be challenges I face as I try to attain those goals, but I’m not going to give up on those goals until they just aren’t a possibility anymore. Some of my ideas may just be pipe dreams. Some might be straight up irrational. But my life… this new life… was unwanted and unexpected. So what do I have to lose?! I don’t exactly know what I’m doing with this new life or how I’m going to do it, so I’m just gonna keep flinging shit against the wall… and see what sticks.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
I don’t remember if Kateri was coming home from the restaurant or from the art/artist/fancy store on Church Street, but I remember I was frantically learning origami so that when she came home and walked into the studio… which was above a garage… she walked in to her own little field of flowers… in February.
It was 2002, we had just moved out of the thriving metropolis of Burlington (because trees make better neighbors), and it was our first real Valentine’s Day together as a committed couple. We had met in 1998 and were one of those lucky couples that were friends before we started… you know… doing it. The September before, I was living in Burlington after Kateri and I had driven cross country from Wyoming… where we met. She was painting down south a bit since… well… I needed “my space” and didn’t exactly want to be in a relationship.
That lasted 3 and a half months until we were talking on the phone one evening and she had mentioned she had been hanging out with this guy who was really interesting and cool. (Those weren’t her exact words, but that’s all I’m gonna say about him. Although, he seemed very interesting… from what I heard) At first, I told her that I needed a little time to process the information and to see if I could live in this type of scenario… I couldn’t. It hit me… and it hit me hard. Although we were just really good friends at the time… that also had a little extracurricular fun once in a while… it was at that moment that I knew I didn’t want to live without her… and she was slipping away.
So one evening (who’s kidding, it was the middle of the night… I was a twenty something cook) I sat at the little desk in the room I was renting with a forty of Foster’s, rain was hitting the roof and nose diving to the ground, and I wrote a letter to Kateri professing my love for her. It’s weird thinking about that desk in that room and all the memories that come with it, but none of those are really that important. I knew at that moment that I wasn’t willing to let her slip off into the world and become just another memory of my twenties. I knew I wanted her in my life… I needed her in my life… because she made it better. When I thought of her, images of life… of a wonderful life… filled my mind. When I thought about a wife… when I thought about a family… when I thought of adventures and the mundane… I thought of her. When love hits… it hits hard… and I’m glad I didn’t let it just fall by the wayside.