Archive | Our Love

the super duper last thing

When I’m putting Squirmy to bed, she makes sure to call to me a few times to stall and I’ll go right back in to see what she’s thought of to tell me. After the third or fourth time, I start to get a little peeved. She says, “This is the super duper last thing, Mama!”

When I started kissingglue, I needed an outlet. It felt like I had so much to say and if I didn’t get it out, I was going to burst. I was not only willing to share my experience but needed to share it as a way to help me move forward. So I ended up living quite publicly.

Townsend 2007 2 008

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t even put into words how much this blog has helped me get through the hardest year of my life. I’m not done grieving, I’m not done healing, but I’m at a place where I’m done doing so here.

DSCN0701Thank you so much for reading this, for giving me feedback and support, for taking a step back and looking at your own lives and putting things into perspective. I have appreciated it all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This song came out when Greg and I first started dating. We listened to it a lot when we had time to just be us and in love. It’s a little haunting now but still so beautiful. I hope you’ll take the time to just stop and realize how much you have and let all your sweeties know how much you love and appreciate them.

This is the super duper last thing…

Thank you. I love you.

xxx,

Mariah

6

HOPE and FUN and B.A.D.

A couple weeks ago, Squirmy and I attended Camp HOPE for a weekend of healing with other children and families with similar stories.

Squirmy was in a group of five little girls. When we got there, she went right with her group saying to me, “Bye Mama – see you tomorrow!” I looked at her with a shocked, hurt expression. She giggled and said, “Or maybe sooner!!!” She had a great time and loved her first real “camp” experience.

20140518_143105

I met a lot of other women who had lost their husbands. It was interesting to hear all of their stories. Some were effected by suicide, some women didn’t have great relationships with their husbands and had their own guilt about not missing them or of already moving on, some women had relationships like mine and Greg. Their experiences were all so different than mine but we were all going through the same thing.

One woman pulled me aside and said, “I just love your story.” I love it too and it really felt like Greg was with me at camp. I felt him around more than I have in a long time – maybe because it was the longest amount of time that I’ve had to focus on reflecting without everyday life getting in the way. In most everything we did over the weekend, I felt his presence. We had a drumming session and I could feel Greg banging on those drums with me. I remember thinking, “Greg is loving this.”

We had a yoga session and did a couple partner positions. The instructor asked for someone to help her demonstrate a move and I volunteered. It reminded me of Greg and I in our birthing class when we demonstrated every time because no other couple was willing to. I remember feeling Greg with me.

I climbed to the top of a climbing wall with relative ease, the entire time feeling Greg climbing with me – POSSIBLY giving me a little smack on my behind for a boost! :) I remember thinking, “Greg is loving this.” I could even hear him say, “Good job, Baby!” and felt him kiss my forehead when I got to the bottom after I gracefully (Okay…NOT so gracefully) bounced down.

IMG_9219

I made a collage while I was there and had to laugh that there happened to be a picture of Larry David (the creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm – both some of Greg’s favorite shows) in one of the magazines. Of course I cut it out so in the middle of this collage with all these beautiful pictures and quotes, there is a cutout of Larry David! I can see Greg with a big smile, delighted by the fact that I included him in my collage.

At one of our group sessions I told everyone how I used to get so mad at Greg for leaving his dirty socks around the house. And how I would give anything to pick up those socks now. The girls peel off their socks and leave them on the floor and every time I pick them up, I think of Greg. I could just see Greg laughing about his socks on the floor, saying, “See! Leaving my socks on the floor has become a very important part of the past! You should have been thanking me all those years!”

I’ve been reminded lately how much fun I had with Greg. And sometimes when I’m not having fun, I imagine he’s with me to cheer me up. I know I’ve said it before but he made things fun just by being present. Not because he was the life of the party but because he was the life of MY party. :) He wasn’t phased by things not going just as planned and he was able to calm me down and make me smile when I WAS. Let’s just say that maybe happened a lot. :) He loved to make me laugh and relax when I was at my most uptight. One of the reasons I loved him so much was because he could do this for me. And I’m sure one of the reasons he loved me so much is because he could do this for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been trying to have more fun with the girls. Trying not to be so concerned about getting places and doing things we don’t really need to do. Trying to just let them play and take their time and be silly with them while they’re doing it. We’ve been listening to more of Greg’s music and the girls really like some Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D.). Yesterday as we were driving and I started a B.A.D album, Squeaky yelled to me from the back seat, “Mama – Roll down all the windows and crank up the music!!!” So this is what we jammed out to…turn it up…

Rush by Big Audio Dynamite

If I have my time again
I would do it all the same
Ain’t change a single thing
Even when I was the blind
For the heartache and the pain
Got a cause throughout my ears
How I’d love to be your man
Through the laughter and the tears

Situation no win
Rush for the change of atmosphere
I can’t go on so I give in
Gotta get myself right outta here

Now I’m fully grown
And I know where it’s at
Somehow I stayed thin
While the other guys got fat
All the chances that are blown
And the times that I’ve been down
I didn’t get to high
Kept my feet on the ground

Situation no win
Rush for the change of atmosphere
I can’t go on so I give in
Gotta get myself right outta here

And of all my friends
You’ve been the best to me
Soon will be tha day
When I repay you hands and knees
Broken hearts are hard to mend
I know I’ve had my share
But life just carries on
Even when I’m not there

Situation no win
Rush for the change of atmosphere
I can’t go on so I give in
Gotta get myself right outta here

Situation no win
Rush for the change of atmosphere
I can’t go on so I give in
Gotta get myself right outta here

Gotta get myself right
Gotta get myself right
Gotta get myself right
Outta there

Gotta get myself right
Gotta get myself right
Gotta get myself right
Outta there

xxx,

Mariah

0

more love

When Greg and I were married, I never gave another man a second glance. I remember a friend once making a comment about a guy who was good-looking and I surprised myself by realizing…”Holy shit – I haven’t thought of another man as good-looking since December of ’04!” 

But can you guess what I did a week or so after Greg died? I started looking at other men – constantly! And not just good-looking men (or men that I was attracted to), but ALL men of ALL ages! I wondered if they were single. I imagined what kind of husband or boyfriend they were. I even imagined…well, you know. And I think it was all Greg’s fault! :) I was getting constant attention from someone who adored me and all of the sudden that was gone. It was like I was going through withdrawal. I tried looking up this up as an official “stage of grief” but I couldn’t find the “obsessing about other men” stage! :) I feel like I can write about it now because I’m past it, in fact it really only lasted a couple weeks.

I remember one of the things I loved about getting married was the thought that I would never have to date again!!!! (Insert huge smile turning into a drooping, sad face…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And now? Now, I’m starting to feel like it’s okay to move on. It’s an awkward time for this because we’re coming up on the anniversary of Greg’s death. I have possibly even chosen a bad time to begin this process. In some ways, I still feel like our family is this tight little unit and Greg’s spot is still saved, just an empty seat, all of us waiting for him to come back. But the thought of dating isn’t as annoying or daunting anymore. I’m actually looking forward to it, in this new life that I’m now living.

A couple weeks ago, I did something that I am pretty proud of. One day I thought of asking someone out and the next day I did…to their face! It felt really good. As I was debating it, I thought to myself, “I’ve been through my husband dying! Will a little embarrassment or rejection from a stranger feel anywhere near that bad?” The answer was no and so I did it.

When I was at the support group for widows last month, a woman was explaining how she had lost her boyfriend 7 years ago. She was telling us she was still single and said, “I don’t have room in my heart for anyone else.” Oh, that made me sad. It must be what she needs to do or thinks she needs to do but that wasn’t something that I could relate to.  When I was pregnant with my second child, I remember my friend Jill telling me, “It might seem like you can’t possibly love your second child as much as your first, but you don’t have to push aside any love for your first child. You just make more love in your heart.” She’s a wise friend, that Jilly.

So that’s what I’m going to do – make more love in my heart – because I know that Greg loved me enough to want me/us to be taken care of, in whatever way I/we need. And that will always be comforting.

IMG_4635

Making more love in our hearts for Squeaky!

Is it going to be hard? Possibly. Probably. Will having children effect the way I go about it? Yes. Is it going to be a process? Yes. Will it at some point feel too much or too soon? Possibly. Will I then back-off a bit? Absolutely.

Like anything I’ve faced since losing Greg, nothing seems as hard as I imagined it being in the past. He gave me a positive, solid relationship as a foundation for the rest of my life. It was a relationship that I learned a lot from – I now know what I want and I know how something great feels. Is that out there for me again? I hope so.

Wish me luck. And luck. And more luck. Because I guess this could take awhile.

xxx,

Mariah

1

a photo that never existed

Has anyone ever given you a photo of yourself that you completely forgot about or had no idea that it even existed?

This one was sent to me yesterday.

Mariah and Greg Usually when I see a photo that I didn’t know was taken, I remember the day and love to see that moment from a different perspective. But I don’t remember the day of this photo – it was a day that has skipped my memory. In a way it seems like a new experience, a new memory even. I can still feel my arms around him, the way his waist felt, the way that shirt felt, the way I could lean into his chest, my head tucked right into his warm neck so he could rest his chin on me. I can feel myself giving him a big squeeze just by looking at this.

Thank you for this photo.

xxx,

Mariah

1

reluctantly taking care of business

It turns out the days leading up to the anniversary of Greg’s stomach ache were much worse than the actual day. Last week, I had been gathering tax info for my accountant so I had to go through all of our medical bills and receipts. I even pulled out our CaringBridge entries and our 2013 calendar to help figure out our medical mileage. Greg’s handwriting had marked the days of important appointments, “Esophageal Ultrasound, MRI, UW biopsy”. And an appointment with his psychologist, written in classic Greg-style, “Brain Doctor – 11 a.m.”  :)  It was strange to be reminded of a time when we didn’t know, when we started worrying and then when we knew it was what we’d been dreading. It was almost as if I was a stranger looking in on us from the future…”Those poor bastards were so happy and clueless, they have no idea what’s about to happen to them.” It made me feel so sad for them – for us.

Not only was the process of leafing through those three months a painful reminder, it was frustrating to do because this was Greg’s job. HE was supposed to do taxes. HE was supposed to figure out our mileage and look through receipts and make phone calls.

The other day I finally figured out our healthcare so that I don’t have to continue paying $1,104.65/month to occasionally visit the doctor!  As I tried explaining to the woman on the phone what a frustrating experience it had been working with them (insert reasons I had to call them weekly to fix something), I started sobbing to her. Greg would have been taking care of this for us.

A few weeks ago, Greg received a packet in the mail stating that he was the beneficiary of a small account that his mom had had. She died in 2004 and this company was JUST NOW aware of her passing. So I called and filled out the proper forms to get it transferred to my name. They left me a message a week later so I called them back. The woman on the other line couldn’t disclose any information over the phone because the last name that it had been transferred to was different than mine. I heard her laugh a little when she said that. I thought that was strange but she told me to just fill out the additional forms with my real name when I received them and it would be fine. So earlier this week I got a package in the mail from them addressed to MARIAH CAREY. So maybe someone had that name in their head as they were mindlessly typing in my information and I’m hoping that’s all it was. I’m not a person that gets angry very easily but for some reason, this makes my blood boil. It felt like they were making fun of me. Here I am trying to get something taken care of from my deceased mother-in-law left to my now deceased husband and it’s like someone is making a joke about my name. And how do you make a complaint about that? “Hey huge corporation – I’m already sad and you hurt my feelings!” This is something Greg would have taken care of for me…and not only would he have taken care of it, he would have made it right. And made me feel better.

Yesterday I had to call Greg’s old employer to ask a question that was pertinent to our taxes. I typed in their 1-800 number that I found online. I forgot that this used to be Greg’s work number and that it was still in my phone. So as it starts to ring, this is what I see…

DSCN2710

“Hi Baby! Can you please take care of all this stuff for me so I never have to deal with it ever again? And then can you please come home? Okay, love you! Bye.”

xxx,

Mariah

2

last words

I recently clicked on some silly article about things men do that women love. One of the things was the way their eyes soften when they look at us. I remember the way Greg’s face relaxed and his eyes would ‘smile’ when he looked at me. The article made me think of the last thing he said to me.

We had a lot of people around us for the last month of Greg’s life. At times, our entire bedroom was full of people but we could always catch each other’s eye to share a little smile, send a little love without saying anything. On Greg’s last day, he was starting to get confused and was quickly getting worse. He had moments between clarity and confusion that reminded me of my Grandpa during the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

Later that afternoon, Greg caught my eye from across our bedroom filled with family. His eyes softened and he smiled. It was like those beautiful blue eyes were trying to tell me, once again, everything I already knew, before the thoughts slipped away. He said to me, “Hi Baby. Hi Red. We made it. And look at the results.”

9-19-11photos 031

Nothing else made much sense the rest of the night and a few hours later I couldn’t even understand the words he was trying to say.

But that statement. That little statement means so much, I can’t even express how much. Maybe it’s because these are his words for me. His LAST words for me. When I think about them or whisper them to myself, I feel like I might hyperventilate. Without being this obvious proclamation of how much he loved me and would miss me, I consider the sentiment behind it to be the ultimate statement of love. My Greg, on his death bed at 46, his eyes smiling at me, his Red, told me that we made it. We did it. We succeeded. We succeeded with flying colors because you just look at those babies we made and the love we shared. That love and those babies. That is ALL that life is.

Yeah Baby, we made it.

xxx,

Mariah

4

playlist from 2013

On Friday, I was making a million more rosemary butter cookies for my annual cookie day on Saturday (more about cookie day later this week). The girls were at a friend’s house and I was streaming a radio station from Madison that I really like (I haven’t found a radio station up north that I like yet – waah!). We have a Sonos system that Greg bought back in 2006 that I use to stream radio stations – I highly recommend it. We have access to our entire music library plus any streaming radio throughout our entire house/apartment.  Music is such a big part of our lives and we don’t have the TV on often so we have never regretted spending the money on it.

When I was alone making the cookies, I heard all three of these songs that I’m going to share with you. Sometimes, I don’t realize how much I’m effected by things until I’m away from the girls for a little while and can take a moment to pause. These songs are going to stick with me forever and they are always going to help me break down if I ever need to. I think they also help me remember thoughts and feelings from this year in a way that even pictures and videos cannot. I love them, even though they all make me cry, sometimes really hard. Here they are:

“Carry on” was played a lot when Greg first got sick and I felt like it was a personal calling for me/us to just keep going because that was all we could do.

I heard “Stay” for the first time as I was driving by myself late one night to the in-patient hospice unit to spend the night with Greg. He was getting so sick, so quickly and when I heard this I started to panic realizing he was going to be gone too soon. He wanted me to stay with him all the time and I struggled to spend the time I wanted to with him. There were so many things to take care of during that time, I just couldn’t do it all. I stayed with him when I could but there were times that I had to tell him no. There was also a part of me that wanted to plead with him to stay with me, to not die. That seems so silly. He couldn’t help it that he was dying and he already felt so bad knowing he was leaving us.

I’m sorry (or you’re welcome!) for the naked-y video of Rihanna.

“Gone, Gone, Gone” was played a lot this summer and Squirmy, Squeaky and I all love this song. The girls like to sing/yell, “Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating!” They like it turned up loud and I like it turned up loud because it gives me a chance to sing/yell while drowning out my sobbing.

“Gone, Gone, Gone” is also a good tune to make up your own lyrics (since it’ll be stuck in your head all day) while trying to get your kids to do things. “For you…for you…I made you this sandwich – can you please now eat it up?!” or “For you…for you…Squirmy’s going potty – can you please try to go next?”, etc.  I do this often, with lots of different songs. :)

Even before he got sick, Greg had a playlist for everything. But when he was stuck in bed, he spent even more time carefully choosing songs to listen to; songs from his past that were important to him and had effected him and helped him become the person he was. Things for me were going so fast that I just didn’t have time to pause and choose my own playlist. I just flicked on a radio station and my playlist was chosen for me as I rushed on to the next thing. And since these are the songs that were playing, these are the songs I’m going to remember.

xxx,

Mariah

0

making the most of it

*Please note that I write this post expressing how Greg and I were both feeling during his 3 month ordeal with cancer.  I do think I understood some of the things he was feeling, but certainly not all. I maybe should have written it as simply my own thoughts and feelings, but I like it how it is. There’s always the chance that I got some of this wrong so I apologize to him if that’s the case. Stick with me though. These are some hard thoughts to explain and I hope I’m going to make some sense…

________________________________________________________________

“It is what it is.”  I can’t count the number of times I have said or thought that in the last year. When we found out Greg had cancer, we accepted that this is what was happening to us. This was being forced on us so we were going to make the most of it, like we always did.

In my life with Greg, we didn’t do a lot of complaining because no matter what hardships we had, we had each other and that made things okay. And not only okay, it was almost as if good or bad, we loved each other so much that even the bad times still seem like good times. Greg was always appreciative and that really came out when he got sick.

Hospice Photos 046

Even after finding out that his cancer was incurable, Greg allowed himself to be fascinated by the experience. It was this newness of what he was going through that was almost exciting. He had always loved science and astronomy and the mystery of things in this world, things that make us feel insignificant. He thought it was actually kind of cool that he could see the cancer in his eye, a flashing, white fuzzy spot. After seven treatments of radiation, he literally watched the cancer retreat, only to come back in retaliation with a stronger, larger fuzziness after radiation stopped and we switched to the chemotherapy to treat the rest of his body. His radiation mask was this strange and haunting thing that he wanted pictures of.

3-31-13 photos 007

I also think he felt a sense of responsibility to do this right (and maybe even a sense of honor), like he was going through this for the rest of us – so that we didn’t have to. He felt comfortable walking us through what was going on in his head. In his own words posted on Caring Bridge, “This has been a wonderful experience in it’s own warped way.”

He could literally feel the love from family, friends, even strangers from virtual and personal contact and that really kept him going. He now had this audience that he had never had before and felt that sense of responsibility to share what he could with us. If we were too busy and hadn’t posted anything in a couple days, he would say, “We should really do another post to check in with everyone.”

4-18-13 photos 003And once we were sitting in one of the patient rooms at the Cancer Center, there was a sense of comfort and belonging, even when we knew that it WASN’T going to be okay. Of course there was no comfort in the reason he was there, especially since virtually all of our appointments revealed devastating news. But there was something about that little room, something monumental, where we talked about such important things as life and death. We weren’t insignificant there.

Greg pretty much loved his oncologist too. Toby. First of all, Toby reminded Greg of Andy Partridge from his most favorite band, XTC! But Toby gave Greg the time to take it all in and I think he realized that Greg needed to talk. Are all his patients like that? I have no idea. But Greg was an expressive, deep thinking person who could articulate his thoughts well. And for the times we would get bad news and all sat silent, it was Greg who spoke. It wasn’t ever anger or complaint. He never once verbalized, “Why ME?”. It was always thoughtful and in respect to me, our girls, our family, all those around him, and the things he needed to do for us and the plans he needed to make. He was valiant. He accepted it and I think he knew, we all knew, that this was it.

We spent almost two hours with Toby in that first meeting. I almost wished I could have cracked open a Guinness for him and his new friends. Now that is something I know without doubt that Greg would have loved. :) It’s hard to describe what happened in those patient rooms but Greg usually had the entire room (at times there were up to 7 people – family, doctors, nurses, researchers, etc.) completely absorbed in what he was saying. We just wanted to take in as much of him as we could, while we still could.

We knew as soon as we walked back out into the waiting area, we were like everyone else there, a cancer family, fighting through the stages of this horrible disease. That made it hard to leave. And as we stepped outside and drove away from the hospital, we weren’t exposed anymore. It wasn’t written on our foreheads. We were physically closed up – our winter jackets zipped – being shuffled back into the world of traffic lights and Starbucks and strangers who didn’t know that Greg was dying.

I have such happy memories of my time with Greg. Even at our most mundane, I loved simply being with him. I liked driving in the car with him. I liked doing chores with him. I liked waiting with him. I liked telling him to ‘stop talking’ when he was telling a long, drawn-out story to someone while I was in labor. I liked being bored with him. I liked telling jokes with him. I liked being the only couple to volunteer so we had to demonstrate EVERYTHING at our birthing class. I liked arguing with him. I liked being embarrassed when he shouted out in the middle of the movie theater, “Enough with the commercials!!”. I liked struggling to make a decision about something with him. I liked laughing with him and crying with him. I liked being annoyed with him. I liked making our marriage stronger with him. I liked being there with him and for him during his 3 months of cancer. I liked kissing him. He liked that too. :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is what it is. Good or bad. And I’m going to be thankful for what I have had and I what I do have. And I’m going to make the most of this life, just like Greg did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

xxx,

Mariah

4

wedding rings

A week or two after Greg died, I was filling out one of a million “someone just died and there is a shitload of paperwork to fill out” forms with my Dad’s help. I came to the question, “What is your marital status?”. I honestly wasn’t sure what to write. Where was the “YES I’m married, but my husband died” option? My dad quietly said, “Well, technically you aren’t married.” :( So my husband is gone and so is my marriage? I guess it makes sense but it felt too much like someone else, someone far away who has no idea who we are, made this decision for me. I know it’s just a question on a form, an official status, but I still get kind of upset thinking about it.

After months of wearing my wedding ring, I decided last week to take it off. I now have it locked up in a safe spot so it’s ready for someday for one of the girls.

One night at dinner, in the spring of ’06, Greg told me that we should start looking at rings. Yay!  So we did. After we decided and had the ring made, I told him I still wanted to be surprised.

A few weeks later, as we were raking the yard, one of our rakes broke. Greg volunteered to run into town to get a new rake and off he went, leaving me raking. He had gone to get a rake AND to pick up the ring, which took him about an hour and a half. And I think he probably stopped and had a little chat about it with every person he saw along the way! I was so mad at how long he took to get that damn rake (or probably that fucking rake…I think I said fucking rake…just trying to accurately recall history!) that I almost didn’t realize what he was doing when he started on a little speech asking me to marry him. He loved recalling the story of how I was mad at him when he asked me to be his wife. And then I even managed to say yes! Fuck yes!

DSCN1998

Our rings look so cute next to each other. Just like we did.

Greg’s wedding ring fits on my right middle finger so I’ve started wearing his instead. It makes me feel like I can keep our marriage a little bit alive even if he is not. And since I’m not officially married anymore, this is my little protest. I think he would be proud.

xxx,

Mariah

0

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes