Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What just happened?

This Christmas is hard.  What was once my favorite holiday, now is becoming a tough daily fight to stay focused and not spend every waking moment in tears. All I want to do these days is lay in bed and cry. 

Last week I noticed that the ring Thad gave me that I now wear on my left ring finger was slipping off said finger awfully easily.  Uncomfortably uneasily. Scared it was going to slip off and be lost forever, I ventured to the mall to see what could be done. 

Thad made sure I knew how special I was to him by giving me every Christmas and every birthday, a little something, in a little blue box from Tiffany's.  Nothing extravagant, but just a little something.  A charm, small earrings, my ring etc.  I loved it.  He was such a romantic.  I feared because the cost of the ring, and the engraving, that sizing it would be impossible.  But I walked in there hoping something could be done so I could continue to wear it on my ring finger. 

I walked into the store and was immediately overcome by a wave of tears.  Seriously, I have only been inside a Tiffany's 2 times.  Including this trip.  I tried to gather myself together and pushed further in.  I was approached by 2 sales people at the same time.  A young man and a young woman.  There was something in the young man that pulled on my heart, so I followed him to his counter.  I began to explain, in tears, the significance of the ring, that my husband had passed away a few months ago and my fear of losing it but wanting it to stay on my ring finger.  He was so sweet.  He took the ring from me and we began to discuss ideas what we could do. 

During the conversation, he asked me how my husband had died.  God, I hate that question.  It will stop the conversation immediately and become really awkward, really fast.  I looked at him and started to cry again and said.  "He suffered from Depression and Anxiety for a very long time and committed suicide on July 1st.".  His face went white and his eyes welled up in tears and for the first time I saw the raw pain behind his eyes.  He told me he had been suffering badly with depression for a couple of years now and that he often thought of that himself. He looked at me with eyes that just plead.  "Help me."

I stared at him for a moment and then got a chill that ran from the base of my spine, all the way up my neck.  What on earth could I do?  What on earth could I say?  Why would God put this man in my path when I was such a mess.  How could I help him? 

Then I simply said.  "Are you thinking that your family and loved ones would be better off without you?"  He nodded slowly.  I took his hand and pulled him to the corner of the counter away from other customers and asked him softly.  "Do I look better off to you? That is what my sweet Thad thought.  Thought I would be better off without him because he was so sick and he wanted to unburden me.  Do I look better off without him?"  I began to really cry.  Right there in the middle of Tiffany's.  "I'm not.. Not by a long shot.  I doubt myself every day,  want him back every day, I have so many unanswered question and I am devastated by his loss EVERY DAY!  Do you know you are loved?  Please look at me and realize what your choice will do to those that love you."

He asked if he could hug me and I wrapped my arms around him and whispered... " Be kind to yourself.  Reach out to those who love you and tell them what you are going through.  Let them help you.  Let them carry you.  I promise it will get better.".   He let me just hug him and said.  "OK, I will".
I just looked at him and said.  "Your life is worth living."

He asked me to return and let him help me with anything else I might need and then looked into my eyes and thanked me.  Thanked me over and over. Suddenly, my ring didn't matter anymore. What mattered to me was that this guy understood what I was telling him. We stood there for a moment each took a deep breath. Then parted.   I waved to him as I left and sat down on a bench outside of the store.

What just happened?  Oh my God, what just happened?  Did I just reach out to someone in the middle of Tiffany's and possibly save his life?  Save his family and friends from this horrible pain?  Did God just really use me like that?  WHAT JUST HAPPENED??  Did I imagine that?  Did I just have that conversation over a counter in Tiffany's? 

Since then I have been to that mall twice and each time I want to walk into Tiffany's and see if he is there and OK.  But I'm scared.  What if what I said made things worse, or didn't help..  Or, what if it did?  What if he is getting the help he needed and is doing better? 

All I can do is pray and be thankful for that moment.  Be thankful that I left my heart and eyes open enough to see his pain.  I just wish someone had been there to let Thad know, that I would never be better off without him. That I would be so devastated by his loss, that for months I would cease to be able to function normally.  That I would miss him so much, it causes physical pain.

That a huge part of me is missing and I feel so alone.  Especially at Christmastime. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Surrounded by him

There are so many incredible things that happen when you are married to the right person and you let go of the junk and just let yourselves connect with each other.  The world becomes a less harsh place because you have each other to lean on and go through life together.  It happens in friendships and other relationships too, to a degree, but not like it does in a marriage. In our marriage, I was part of a great team. I was loved like I had wanted and needed to be my whole life.  I was safe.

I think often about when we were first married and had to deal with some pretty ugly family issues right up front. After a horrible confrontation, we went home and he held me so tight while I cried.  Held me as long as I needed him to. He got on the phone to try and remedy the issue and gathered the troops of other family members to make the situation right.  I knew he would protect me when push came to shove.  I knew that I would always have him in my corner.  It was an incredible feeling.  Trust has always been a hard thing for me, but there were times when I trusted him so completely.  I never felt more safe in my life. Not ever.

Moving to a new city where I had no support system proved to be pretty difficult for me.   It was scary, stressful and triggered a lot of fear.  It did for him too.  Imagine, living alone, keeping your world simple, bare and drama free.  Then, these 2 fun-loving, singing, lively, loud and loving women move into your house with their little barking dog.  They change everything around. Paint, put up shelves, bring clutter and mess into your quiet, minimalist life. But, they also make life warm and full and happy.  They fill your house with laughter, good food, love, caring, forgiveness and a bit of drama.  For a man with anxiety issues...  Well, let's just say it was overwhelming at times. Sometimes it was so frustrating for both of us. But, sometimes he would look at me and smile and just revel in his new life and take it in. Those are the memories I cherish the most.  Being part of that loving partnership.
 Nobody's perfect.  Although we did our best to not bring old baggage in, those old tapes would find a way back into our heads and really mess things up.  He would forget we were a team and make these unilateral decisions that drove me bananas.  I would forget how trustworthy he had proved himself to be and hide my hurt behind anger for protection and hold a grudge and shut myself off for a short time.  Sometimes the rifts were easy to recover from, sometimes it would take longer, but we would find a way and reconnect, closer than ever.  We would lie in bed, in the dark and just talk.  Talk about what happened, talk about how to do it differently next time, talk about how much we loved each other, talk about being together for the rest of our lives. There would there were times I would ask him to take off his wedding ring because I needed to talk to my best friend about what a jerk my husband was being.  So, even in the rough times I was safe and cherished because of all he was to me. 

On especially bad days for me, where connecting with words wasn't enough, he would take making me feel safe to a new level. (The first time he tried this, I thought he was crazy!!)  He would lay me down on our bed face down and he would lay on top of me and wrap his legs around mine, cradle my head and just whisper to me, "I've got you, Peanut.  You are OK, Baby.  I'm here and nothing is going to hurt you."  I would lay there, surrounded by him until the fear or nightmares went away and I could just feel safe, loved, warm and cared for by him.  It was, by far, the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced.  Nothing in my life had come close to that before.  Nothing.  It was so pure, raw, intimate and caring. We took such great care of each other. It wasn't perfect and there were times we failed each other, but there was always forgiveness and understanding and safety.  If we only knew what was coming, maybe we both could have been better prepared.

When the depression took over and he attempted suicide the first time on May 1, 2012, I had to step completely into the caretaker role.  I took over everything. I wanted him to focus on getting better, going to treatment and healing.  Get on top of the depression and anxiety again.   I took over the finances, I was the only income earner, I took care of all the business and he helped with the household duties as much as he could.  I had to turn off my emotional needs to keep afloat and take care of everything I had to for the next 14 months. As he got worse, I so wanted to be surrounded by him again, I wanted desperately to feel safe again, but he couldn't. He did try.  He tried so hard. Some days the depression was just too overwhelming and simply getting out of bed was a horrible ordeal.  I wanted him to fight for his life, but he just couldn't.  But, I still hoped. And hoped.  And hoped. Hoped that things would get better for him and us, that we would get our marriage back, our love back.  Be a team again.

The day he died and for weeks afterward, I was beyond lost.  My world had turned upside down and still has not turned back.  I was shocked, hurt, in so much pain. I was abandoned, alone and wanted to die. Fear engulfed me. I looked for him everywhere to pull me out of the deep, dark pit I found myself in, but he was no longer there to turn to. 5 months into this journey now, and the shock has worn off. I now know he is gone and not coming back, no matter how hard I cry, scream, wail, beg and pray for it.  My best friend, lover, husband, partner and soul mate is no longer part of this earth and is now part of Heaven and I know I will see him again someday.

But, at night, when the world is quiet and I'm alone in the bed we shared, I lay down on my belly and long to feel him envelope me, cover me, cradle my head and whisper those words that always brought me so much comfort.  Most nights I'm left feeling so scared, so fearful, so anxious, so alone.  I lie there in tears and wonder "Will I ever feel safe again?"   I sometimes dress one of my pillows in his t-shirts that still carry his scent, cuddle up, hold it tight, trying so desperately to feel him close to me again.  Nights have become so much harder.

There are some nights though, every once in a while, where I do feel him, or at least I believe I do.  Those nights are my favorite. I can lie there, feel him near and remember.  I feel warmth on those nights, I feel comfort and peace. I feel safer...  I still long to feel him covering me, but feeling him near helps so much and I'm grateful for those moments.  They make the days ahead just a bit easier.