Sunday, March 28, 2010


I lost my cell phone...


This is a recurring theme in my new scatterbrained existence. I regularly don't know exactly where I put it. By regularly, I mean that I search for my phone (or my keys, or my wallet, or my checkbook) almost daily.

Usually I find them, and usually they are in one of about five predictable places, but every time I get them it is a sense of gladness for finding them because I didn't know for sure that I would.

It isn't that I don't have an assigned place to put each item so that it is easy to find every time, it's just that somehow I am almost incapable of using the correct "expected location" for these items on a daily basis. SO... there are a handful of places I put these things, and usually they are in one of them.

The only reason this might be even remotely of interest to YOU is that I am under the impression that I am not alone in feeling disorganized, forgetful and scatterbrained in my widowhood. I'm writing this blog for myself, but also for communion with other widows. I expect if you are reading, you are also a widow. Bless you.

I have a life history of being well organized... but that changed when Michael died. Everything felt harder immediately. Not just that I had to do "his" part in the household, but I could barely manage to do "my" part. I became overwhelmed with things that were previously simple.

I could not, for example, get myself to go to the post office to mail a package to return something 100% useless to me. I spent over 5 months with "mail the package" on my to-do list every day. I just couldn't do it. Finally I told my mom and she mailed it for me. I got $65 for the item (in the package) and I really needed the money... so why did I NEED her help to accomplish this silly small thing?

The answer is the scatterbrain... it's a kind of confusion, but mixed with lack of motivation, forgetfulness, and eventually a weird kind of low self-esteem: "I just CAN'T mail that package because I can't believe I've needed to mail it for so many months and haven't done it yet."

I am working on healing this "new me" back into a "normal" me by changing the self-talk messages.

Notes for the post-its on my bathroom mirror, affirmations or positive self-talk:
"I am organized"
"I get things done"
"I will be on time"

The good news is that I got a message and my phone must have slipped out of my pocket last night when I was at a reception at someone's house. So my lost phone's location is known, but still not in my hands... working on it!
To other widows: Are you finding yourself scatterbrained or disorganized? Do simple tasks overwhelm you? Or have you moved through this and become "normal" again? How long did it take?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

bad mommy

I love my children more than anything or anyone else in the world - I hope that goes without saying for 99.9% of moms.

So this morning, running late to get the kiddos out the door and to preschool in time for LUNCH (because I was up so late the night before dinking around on the computer) I insisted that my darling 3-year-old Elaine brush her teeth all by herself.

She can do it!
She's done it before
... lots of times.

I am finishing getting myself decent enough to take them to preschool when I hear "AAAAAAAHHHH!" and the crashing sound of ceramic coffee mug vs. tile floor.

I don't know what maneuver caused it... my coffee was on the bathroom counter but not by Elaine's toothbrush... (I digress)

I ran in to see what was the matter and saw coffee everywhere and my daughter stood there screaming in shock.

Here were my thoughts and the order in which they occurred in my mind:
1. damn, my coffee is spilled
2. shit, did my favorite mug break??? [it didn't - by the way... but I did notice a hairline crack in the tile tonight]
3. good thing I made enough coffee for another cup
4. "Oh honey, are you burned?"

My poor daughter was drenched in coffee from hair to shoes, and half of her pretty sundress was stuck "wet t-shirt style" to her body - light brown instead of white with flowers.

I peeled the clothes off of her, I hugged her, I removed her soaked Princess Tiana panties. I looked at her skin, which was barely pinker where the coffee soaked her than everywhere else. I wiped off her shoes and wiped her little naked body clean with a warm wash cloth.

Elaine stood there and whimpered. The hug was enough... she was obviously more shocked than burned. She was very happy when I went and pulled out a new sundress I had been planning to give her next month for her birthday. She seemed to not even remember the spilled coffee by the time she was dressed again in dry (pretty and new) clothing.

In my own defense (to my self-attack) I knew in the back of my mind that the coffee was maybe 10 minutes old. It wasn't scalding hot, and that I had added some cold half and half...

But still!

I thought about the fact that my daughter's hurt was the last thing to occur to me in the rapid-fire thoughts that went off in my mind, and I felt really bad and really guilty.

If I were a good mommy, I wouldn't have even looked at the spill before making sure Lainey was safe and uninjured.

And of course, I also thought...
"If Mike were here...
he would have thought first of her before all else.
he was a great dad... had his priorities straight."

Mike's voice was in my head, setting me straight, reminding me that Elaine (not the stupid mug or spilled coffee) matters most.

If you are a widowed mom, do you find yourself comparing your parenting now to your late husband's parenting... or what you imagine it would be now?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm going to be a pirate in an illegal lesbian wedding

Aye, ya read it right!

It's coming up soon... May 2010.

My life-long friend is going to marry her partner in Phoenix, Arizona. Same sex marriages are not legal in Arizona, so it's a big party with lots of family and friends and no official officiant who has "the power vested in him or her."

The brides have decided to have a pirate theme wedding.





I wish I were more excited, but I'm not. Same-sex marriage should be legal, and if someone does not approve of them, then in my belief = he or she should not GET one. My lackluster attitude does not reflect my attitude toward the bride and groom both being brides - no. I'm not excited because I still don't have my costume. The stress of knowing I NEED a pirate costume is too much for me to handle right now.

It would be so much easier to go into the local David's Bridal and pick up the appropriate color and style bridesmaid's dress, chosen for me whether I liked it or not, and which I would happily and obediently wear while standing up as my best friend's maid of honor.

But nay... I'm not t' be a maid 't all... rather a first mate, ya land lubbers!


And the other thing... the fact that this will be a wedding... and I HAD a wedding, a beautiful and rather traditional wedding - especially considering I am a female and I married a male, and we wore traditional wedding attire - no theme. The vow "til death do us part" is on my mind.

This is not the first wedding in the last 15 months... my brother-in-law got married. But he said his nuptials on a cruise ship, and I wasn't there. I went to his reception one week later and drank way too much on purpose.

(My brother-in-law is a jerk.)

I just need to get something to wear. The sooner I have my costume, the sooner I can imagine myself actually being there for my friend instead of worrying about my short "to do" list that feels too long for me to accomplish.

Maybe focusing on clothing is a distraction. I can't tell whether or not I am emotionally ready to stand close to my friend while she is making marriage vows (even if they are in pirate language.)


Shoe store

I went to buy my kids new shoes today. I went to Payless Shoes with line-tracings of their feet to figure out their sizes since they just KEEP GROWING!

The sales clerk appeared between 18 to 25 years old. She was perky and attentive. She helped me figure out their sizes and showed me right where I should look for boys size 12 and girls size 8 1/2 shoes. (My son appears to have skipped right over size 11 he's growing so fast!)

I was the only customer in the store. The sales clerk was busy with whatever she was doing, but attentive, as I said, and the minute I was ready to make my purchase she was there ringing me up and making small talk. She suggested I take advantage of the big sale and look at some shoes for myself too, but I told her the truth, "I have plenty of shoes, too many probably."

She told me the total purchase price, I handed her my American Express, she took the card and said, "Oh, it has your picture right there on it, so I don't need to see your license" as she slid the card through the slot on her keyboard.

"May I please have your phone number?"
"Sure, it's ..." I give it to her.
Click click click click... "Is your husband Michael?"

Yep... a shoe store. This is a random place, the sales clerk and I are the only souls in the building. Why do these things happen? I was in a completely new context, away from all who know me, in a moment of distraction while buying shoes for my kids.

"He's dead."


"I'm so sorry, I didn't know. I saw you're wearing a wedding ring."

Wow... now she doesn't know it, but she's actually hit a second sore spot (sort of.) My wedding ring is right back on my finger and I have no immediate plans to remove it. I didn't like having it off when I tried that for awhile... (another story, another time.)

"Would you like me to change it into your name?"
"Yes, please."
"Is the email different too?" she reads Mike's email address to me... the one I can't get into.

I give her my email address. She asks how he died, I tell her it was 15 months ago - pneumonia.

Suddenly, her spirits rise.
"Oh, well 15 months ago, that's a long time!"

[I liked her until that last part...]

"Have a great day!" :-)

I said, "you too," and I left.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

write it down...

I start now, right where I am.

My husband died 15 months and one week ago... he was 37, I was 34, our son was 4, and our daughter was 2 1/2.

Today I thought of something I first heard in high school. Somebody (I think it was the all-knowing all-powerful "THEY") said: teenage boys think about sex once every 10 seconds.

When my husband died, I thought about him, my sadness, his death, my loss, our fatherless children's loss, the whole rotten potato... pretty much constantly from the time I awoke until I fell asleep every day. In the beginning, I fell asleep only with the help of my anti-anxiety pill and an ambien to knock me out. Even as I slept I dreamed of death and loss - if my drug-aided sleep allowed me to dream at all!

So how is it now, 15 months later?

I think I've improved to the level of a teenage boy thinking about sex. I think about "IT" when I wake up, and most of the day every day. But there are moments when I'm deeply involved in a conversation, watching a movie, working on a project or listening to an interesting interview with Terri Gross or report on All Things Considered on NPR... and I find that I skip minutes (dare I say I may have gone an hour) without thinking about "IT."

When "IT" comes to my mind again, after a longer than usual (10 second) interval, sometimes the recurrence of my awareness of "IT" sends a jolt through me. It is THOSE thoughts that feel "out of the blue." Those are the thoughts that catch me off guard or are more likely to cause me to feel deeply pained. Those thoughts catch me by surprise, bring me to tears or slap me across the face when I am least prepared to be metaphorically slapped once again.