A Happy and Thankful Life

Be Gone 2011

I am thankful that 2011 is almost over. A mere two hours until 2012 begins with hope and promise.

2011 has been a wretched year not only for me but for many of my close friends and family. Loved ones have died, jobs and livelihoods have been lost,  and terrifying accidents have marked this year.

 But through the pain, there have been bright spots. I’m blessed to have close friends and family that support me. At no time have any of them told me that I’m grieving wrong or I shouldn’t talk about J or I shouldn’t cry. They listened. They didn’t judge. I’m grateful for that and will try to do better this year to do the same for them. While they have been kind and generous of themselves, I haven’t always been the best friend I could have been. I often don’t feel worthy of such kindness but I continue to be immensely grateful for it.

I’ve also learned that going outside my comfort zone has been beneficial. While the intent may have been to distract myself, the results have helped keep me moving. Kayaking on the Catawaba River a month after J passed filled me with such peace that I wasn’t expecting but desperately needed. The Widow Support Group has given me an outlet and the knowledge that everything I’m thinking and experiencing is normal. I’m not alone. Their words of wisdom help block out the few people in my life that feel that I should just get over it. I’m taking classes that I skipped in the past because I didn’t think I’d be good enough at it. While I may be taking the class to force myself to leave work on time, it is far more entertaining than I expected. I’m already signed up for the next class in February. This has been a very useful tool in helping me get through this year.

In the end, we’ve survived. I’ve survived. My heart may still be broken and I may struggle through the day, but step by step, I’ve managed to somehow muddle through 2011.

My hope is that 2012 brings my friends and family more bright spots than dark. I will continue to grieve and miss J but will heal. I will make some changes and try to enjoy life. I will resume writing. I will take more time to be there for those that have been there for me. I will breathe. I will live. I will survive.

Be gone 2011 and let the door hit you hard on the way out – you deserve it for the pain that this year has caused.

2012 bring your happiness. There are quite a few of us that need it.


’tis the season for heartache

It’s been 7 weeks since I’ve last posted. That is not what I intended. I’m still making note of things to be grateful for but some days are harder than others.

In October, I was told that the holiday season tends to be a big grief trigger for many people. I underestimated how much it would impact me. The holidays haven’t been the same since my mom died in October 2004. She always went all out for holidays: huge meals, lots of baking, and gifts for everyone. J knew how I struggled with the holidays and because of him, I started to enjoy them again. For the Christmas he spent in the hospital, we were supposed to be on our honeymoon but spent it decorating a paper tree and putting up lights in his room. He tolerated the crowds at Wildlights because I loved the beauty of the lights. Finding anything related to The Christmas Story for him. He went to Midnight Mass because he knew how much it meant to me that he was by my side. We loved spending Thanksgiving with my aunts, uncles and cousins and spending Christmas in Florida with his parents, siblings and nieces. It worked for us. The holidays were about us, this new family and traditions we created, even before we were married.

Now, November and December are just harsh reminders of what I don’t have. Our second anniversary would have been November 14th. Thanksgiving was spent with me sick on the couch, alone. His birthday would be coming up this Friday. We would be getting ready for our annual trip to Florida. Christmas Eve will mark six months since John passed away. And then there’s Christmas. Everywhere I go, I see things that I would have bought as gifts for him. With his birthday being so close to Christmas, I always made sure that he received good gifts for both. Just like he made sure I had an Easter basket separate from my birthday gift.

Part of me feels as though, at almost 6 months, I should be better. I’m trying to remind myself that the pain I feel is normal. I keep praying that the more I say it, the more I believe it. The group counselor reminds us that the only way to deal with grief is to go through it. You can’t go around it. There are no short-cuts and there is no pre-determined path to take. It can’t be avoided or ignored. But in this process, I don’t like what it has done to me. I am not “normal” Nicole. I don’t like this version of me at all. And it is quite obvious that numerous others don’t like this version either. But I’m not sure how to get as I’m not the same person I was before. It is hard to go from having a sense of control over your life to having no control over anything in your life. I try to grasp onto anything I can to make sense of this new world. There are things I do that help me get through the day so that I don’t break down and cry in the most inappropriate places. If I block certain things out, I can make it until I’m alone in the car or at home. The simplest and even seemingly unrelated things trigger tears lately. Our plans for our life together no longer mean anything. There is this massive void in my life that can’t be filled. I miss him and I miss the life we had together.

On that note, I’m going to continue this break until after Christmas. I’m simply not strong enough right now.  I will return as I miss writing; I just need a bit more time to sort my head and heart out.

But for now, things I am grateful for. I am unbelievably blessed to have kind friends that sit with me and listen and cry with me. That understand what I am trying to say and what I really mean even when I’m struggling with my words. That are patient with me as I burst into tears for seemingly no reason but understand. That know when to talk about anything other than him and at other times when I need to talk about him. That have faith that I will return to the person I was before, even when I fear I won’t. Friends like this are hard to find and I’m very grateful to have them in life even when I prove to be a pretty horrible friend and person.