Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wanting to Fix the Unfixable

In my old life, before my husband's depression returned and grabbed hold,  I was a "Fixer".  If a problem came up I would find the work around a quickly and adeptly as possible.  I wanted things to be better, and stamp small fires out before they became big ones.  I was good at it.  At work, at home, I could make it happen.  In my marriage and with friendships it was harder since we all have our own way of dealing with things and handling them.  But I always wanted to talk through things and find the solution.

For the last 5 days I have been a a VERY dark place. My grief has been raw, harsh, and unrelenting. I cried ALL THE TIME.  At the gym, in yoga, at home, in bed, in the car, with friends, alone.   Desperate cries, wailing, screaming and there was so much pain. Pain that doubled me over and made me want to vomit.  Pain that went through my entire body and stayed there.  Just pounding away at me.

I know I worried some people, but I could not just get past this part.  I was stuck. Missing him desperately, missing our connection, our relationship, his touch.  The guilt over the last 2 weeks of his life sat on me like an elephant, I ran over and over in my head, how did I not see it?  How did I miss it?  How could I not have been kinder, more understanding, more patient, made it easier for him somehow? How did I miss all the signs? How did I miss this?? But, that wasn't the real issue.

I dragged myself into my therapist's office yesterday, a hot mess.  I had just come from the gym after killing myself there to sweat it out.  Find some answers as I pushed myself to the limit, just trying to feel anything but the emotional ravaging that was happening inside. (Lord, I know that sounds so dramatic, but any widow will tell you...  That is just how it feels) I sat down and he took one look at me and said..  "Spill it."

I started to tell him about the last 5 days, What I had been feeling, doing, going through.  After he listened he simply asked.  You know what the real issue is don't you?  I was quiet for a moment and nodded my head. It was so simple..... I can't fix this.  The fixer can't fix any of it.

I couldn't fix his depression, I couldn't fix pushing him to try and get better in those last 2 weeks. I can't fix that this hurts, I can't fix how much I miss him, I can't fix how my daughter is grieving, how my friends are grieving. I can't fix how others treat me, judge me, hurt me during this time that I often feel like I'm losing my mind. I can't fix this ache in my heart that consumes me, I can't bring him back, I can't fix my paralyzing fear of the future.  I can't fix that in the end I wasn't the perfect wife, that I pushed him, yelled at him, wanted him to fight through this... I can't fix any of it!  It just is what it is, and it sucks, it hurts, it is so sad, and is so painful.

After more discussion we came to the conclusion that the only things that will "fix" it, heal things, are my letting myself to feel it all, go through the grief, experience it.  That I could go to another doc and be medicated through the pain, but I know that will only prolong the rough stuff.  I have to keep doing the things that keep me plugged into life. Reach out to those who love me, want to support me. Lean on my faith, my friends, my family.  Keep doing the things that help me feel connected to him.  Remember him, talk to him, talk about him, share his story, but not hold on to the guilt.  The depression was eating him alive, much like a cancer, he could not fight it anymore. It breaks my heart because, I wanted to fix it.  Needed to fix it.  After all.  It is what I do. 

So I'm left with the intense grief of losing an intense love.  The passionate pain of losing a passionate, loving and amazing connection. I'm left with the fear of what life will be like without him next to me.  He is no longer here to physically hold my hand, talk to me, hold me close, comfort me, give me advice, love me through the bad times. And that hurts so badly.

I just have to go through it, and it is going to suck for a while.
And what adds to the pain is knowing how this is changing me. 
I can't fix that either. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

His Hands

Many times, I am asked what I loved most about Thad.  The truth is so are so many things, that I cannot choose just one:

His amazing laugh
His romantic spirit
His velvet voice
His fierce protectiveness
His ability to use words and language in such an eloquent way
His love for me and my daughter
His love for his family and the desire to feel like he belonged
His kind heart
His sensitivity
His passion for politics and sports (OK, these drove me nuts from time to time)
His willingness in the beginning of our relationship to open up, let me in.  Let me see the soft spots, the damaged spots, the hurts, the desires and the dreams.  It made it so easy for me to do the same and to fall in love with who he really was.  All of him.  
His desire to make me feel safe
His willingness to try and learn how to be happy
His perseverance
His bravery in fighting his demons
His strong chest that comforted me so often
His playfulness
His passion for me
His way with animals
His adorable backside..  :)

I could go on and on.  He was an amazing man with so many layers. So many qualities that made me fall in love with him over and over, more and more. 

But, one of the things I miss the most and want to always remember are his hands.

His hands were flawed.  Because if his nerves, his nails were always chewed to the quick.  I tried quite a few times to give him at home manicures, or took him for professional ones, but he always ended up chewing the life out of those fingernails.

His hands were freaky strong.  Seriously.  There was never a jar he couldn't open or anything he couldn't get unstuck.  There were times I would struggle to no end to open a mayonnaise jar he absentmindedly put a bit to much twist on. I'd would have to wait until he got home to open it. 

His hands were so gentle.  Although he sometimes didn't know his own strength, when he took great care, his touch was so gentle.  They stroked my face when I was sick, stroked my hair when I needed comfort, cared for me when I was physically hurt.  His comforting touch is what I miss most late in the night when it is quiet and my grief overwhelms me.

His hands gave me pleasure, joy and excitement just by running his fingers over my skin. I miss his tickles, his foot rubs, even his awful massages and pulling on the excess skin on my elbows.

His hands fit me perfectly.  Every time he took my hands into his, it felt like home.  He loved to hold my hand in the car, in bed, watching TV, in church, sitting on our porch, on walks, at the movies.  Many times I would turn over in the middle of the night to find our hands intertwined.  

His hands looked amazing with his wedding ring.  The day I placed that on his left hand, I knew he was mine and I was his.  It stood as a symbol of our commitment and love. I used to love to touch his finger and wiggle the ring. I loved how it looked, what it stood for and how it made me feel so loved, wanted and secure. Nothing would give me a smile like the smile I wore when I saw that ring on his hand.

The day he died and the medical examiner brought me his personal effects, his ring was among them. I placed it on my hand and left it there until we met with the funeral home to make his arrangements.  I was so numb those first few weeks.  I don't remember much.  But, I do remember the private viewing and being distraught that although his ring was on his hand, his right hand was over his left and I couldn't see it.  And I needed to.  I needed to see his ring on his hand, touch it, wiggle it like I used to.  I don't remember asking or how it happened, but his hands were changed and at his public viewing, I couldn't stop touching his hand, his ring, him.  Longing for the warmth, strength, and gentleness that I used to feel when I touched those amazing hands. 

I now wear his ring around my neck on a chain, along with mine, on a heart shaped pendant.  I wanted them together, intertwined like our hands always were. Touching my heart.   On my finger I wear a band he gave me for Christmas one year.  The words "I love you" are inscribed several times, on the outside in a never ending message.

I love you too, Baby.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

For Better or Worse

It has been 4 and half months since my world was turned completely upside down.  

It feels like I'm on a major roller coaster with no restraints.  There are dips, turns, waves, corkscrews and awful pain as I hang on for dear life.  Sometimes gripping with all the strength I can muster and other times, wishing I could just let go and have it all be over, but knowing I can't.

The worst part is know that I have to get on this roller coaster every day. 

Just 5 and a half years ago, I spoke to the life of my life for the first time. I heard that voice and the comfort it brought and I knew I loved him.  It was a crazy, Whirlwind courtship that ended with a beautiful wedding on the beach just 1 year and 15 days from our first phone call.

On our wedding day I was so filled with hope, love and excitement.  I felt so full, so alive, I thought my heart would burst. It was an easy day to focus on all the "for better" that was to come. We were barefoot on the beach, surrounded by family and friends, uniting our lives, our families and our futures. I looked into the eyes of my soul mate and promised. For Better or for Worse.  It was one of the best days of my life, second only to the birth of my daughter. He used to say it was THE happiest day of his.

As an older bride and not my first time heading down the aisle, I was aware of exactly what the "for worse" part meant as well. There would be trips to emergency rooms, health scares, family deaths, job issues, money issues, miscommunication, drama, and just regular life stuff.  Are any of us really prepared for the absolute worst of the worst? 

Never in a million years would I have ever guessed that just 4 years later, I would be sitting here a Widow.  A Suicide Loss Survivor.  Grieving.  In so much pain, there are times I cannot breathe and feeling so lost and alone. Some days literally looking around and asking the question out loud..  "Where did he go??"

I'm desperate not to lose the memories I have of the wonderful times we had.  I'm desperate to keep the close and intimate connection we had that most people long for.  I'm desperate to have him be remembered as the sweet, kind, loving and brave man he was, not some statistic or stigma.   He was not weak, he was not a coward.  He was brave, my protector, my safe place in the storm.  His loss is the ultimate loss for me, that I have no idea how I will recover from. 

Depression has a way of eating the soul. Taking away logic and rational thinking.  I know he believed I would be better off without him because he was not getting better.  I know he thought he was making the choice that was best for me. He was so very wrong.  But, he just couldn't see it.  I know it was the depression and the evil one manipulating his thinking.  It breaks my heart to know how deep the depression was, how much he covered it to protect me and to finally find out how much pain he was in.  What he thought was better was really the worse.  So much worse.

I really hate hindsight.  

So, I'm hoping this space can preserve those memories.  That this space can help save someone else's life. That this space can touch someone else who lost a loved one to suicide, to help them know they are not alone and the pain they feel is normal.  That those sweet memories will someday bring you so much joy, that talking about what happened is part of healing, that the guilt and self hatred that comes with being a survivor are really your worst enemies and that you can move past those things and realize it was beyond your control.

But, most of all, I am hoping that this space can honor a wonderful man named Thad, who loved me with all of his heart. Who came out of the grey haze of depression for a while and had a colorful life filled with love, laughter, friendship, family and joy, until the haze took him back over and took him away from all of us that loved him.  I look forward to telling you all about him.

He will forever live in my heart and always be a part of me.