August 22, 2015

I Choose Life - Part 1


"You have the choice Sandra...live or die.
Breathe, go through the motions but be dead inside.
Choose life, love, happiness and you.
Your boys lost one parent.
They don't need to loose another."

The words I will never forget from the man who helped save my life.
Doug.
Grief counselor. Gentle soul. Beautiful man.
He told me the truth.

"Year one will be a blur."
I was a walking zombie and just getting by.
Family and friends took care of us.
Fed us. Loved us. Whatever needed to be done.

"Year two will be worse" he said.
And oh it was.
"What the fuck happened" I would say to myself as I stared in the mirror?
20 pounds gone, aged, can't smile and I don't know who is staring back at me.
How old am I?
Is he really dead?

I woke up every day and reality punched me so hard in the face.
The life I knew was over. Pat was gone. I was on my own.

The day Pat died my life blew into a 1,000 pieces.
My life shattered.
I needed to figure out how to put it back together.
I was sitting in the depths of hell and I needed to crawl out.
How?

"Year three will be a cross road. Rebuild or die inside."
Choose to live.
Choose the pieces you want to keep.
Let go of the pieces you don't want.
Don't feel the guilt.

Year three came early...I was dying inside.
I was loosing myself.
I needed to start to rebuild now.

I couldn't rebuild in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Too many memories.
I carried pain from those who loved us and him...they were grieving too.
Too many eyes watching, wondering, judging.
I can't breathe.
I am suffocating.
I wear heavy chains to an old life I can't live again.
I don't want to live some pieces of that life anymore.
Toxic relationships I'm done with.
My choice.
Time to go.
I am not running away.
I am running to.
To life, breath, peace, new memories, new experiences, quiet, simplicity and creating a new beautiful life for the 3 of us.
I want to be anonymous.
I want to go out without being stopped. Being stared at.
I want to heal in peace.
The boys need to heal in peace.
Jack and Charlie need to just be kids, not "the kids whose dad killed himself".
They would carry that heavy weight forever if we stayed.
That will not be their burden to bear.

I didn't ask for anyone's approval but from the boys.
This is our life. The only opinions that matter are ours. 3 opinions. That's it.
"Are you okay with this? Can we try? We have to try."

"Yes mom, we need to try. We don't like the sad looks from strangers walking by as we shoot hoops outside. I know I am the kid who is getting a pass because my dad died. I don't want to be that kid.
I'll be having a great day and a stranger will walk up and say "I knew your dad". My day wasn't so great anymore because I was sad then."

Family and friends who saw me dying supported us 100 percent even though their hearts were breaking too.
Go and be free, live and find life.
A life you 3 deserve.
"We love you, we will miss all of you but you have to to live again. We want you to live."
So many said "we were waiting for you to go and will cheer you every step of the way."
 
Those who didn't get me commented, criticized, created stories of why we were leaving, some very painful and hurtful. People are still talking and judging 3 years later.
I realize now that those comments and judgements have nothing to do with me.
Those are their own issues and fears.
I lost friendships and moved on from friends because of the comments.
It is okay.
You can't hang on to relationships that hurt.
Life changes and I have accepted that people change too.
I've changed.

I looked at a map of the United States.
Where could we move to where we know 1 person?
Scottsdale, California, Boulder, New York?
Water, city, new life with movement and being anonymous.
A city with good schools, family oriented and comfortable for the boys.
4 seasons. I used to love Spring. Maybe I will again.

My visits to my friend in Manhattan saved me too.
I would spend hours walking the streets, sitting with a glass of wine people watching.
I was slowly coming to life again.
Nobody looked at me. Nobody cared.
Life. Movement. Anonymous.
I felt at peace and I was home.
Every time I got on a plane to go back I cried.

"Where am I moving to" I asked him?
Not the city.
The boys can't handle more change.
Fairfield Sandra.
The beach is there. An hour train ride into the city. Good schools. Community.

I asked my friend who lived outside of the city.
She had saved me too with weekly texts of support, friendship and no judgement.
"Where am I moving to?"
This city or that city could work.
A friend says Fairfield is nice.

Okay.
They both said Fairfield.

We are moving to Fairfield, Connecticut.
1,000 miles away.
It looks pretty online.
I hope it is nice. *

Mother Teresa said "Life is life, fight for it."

I fight for and choose life.
If you are dying inside, choose life.
Fight for it.

Own it.
No regrets.
No judgement.
Live it.
It is yours.
You only get one.


*We moved to Fairfield, Connecticut almost 2 years after Pat died. I'll share more about the move in future posts. We have lived here 13 months and it was the best thing I did for the boys and I. The move was extremely hard at first and still not always easy but we are enjoying a simple life, breathing, creating new memories and living again!















August 11, 2015

Mom Please Don't Cry


First day of school.
Parent Teacher Conferences.
Band concerts.
Art shows.
Baseball, basketball and football games.
School Open Houses.
Awards banquets.
Talent shows.

Events with kids we did together and now I am on my own.
I don't cry through the events anymore, well some I do, but I try not to.
The first year I couldn't make it through one without falling apart.
Where is the exit?
Tissues in my hands ready to run.
Hold it together Sandra.
Smile.
Say hello.
Cheer and clap.
Sob in my car.

Time has softened my heavy heart.
A teacher conference without tissue. 
Damn you are healing Sandra.
Cheers to you girl!

Charlie asks me not to cry before we go to these events.
He knows a song or a kind word from a teacher or coach will put me over the edge. 
"Please Mom don't cry".
"I promise Charlie I will try not to" I say with a smile.
I think he tells his friends "there she goes AGAIN!"

I don't tear up as much anymore from pain, grief and sorrow.
Instead I feel pure joy and love for my children.
The sadness is quiet and the pride lights me up.
Watching them perform and play. So proud am I. So happy they are smiling and feeling pure joy themselves. Teachers telling me how well they are doing in school. How kind they are to others.

I am amazed at their strength.
I am in awe of their grace.
I am so grateful I have them in my life.
Grateful we have each other.
Grateful they have each other.

Sometimes the emotions still come. I can't stop.
I breathe deeply, look up and try to keep the tears from running down my face.
My thoughts take over.
"You should be here for them."
"He should have you here cheering for him and telling him how proud you are of him."
"Is he feeling badly his dad is not here like the others kids dads that are here?"
"Jack and Charlie, you have no idea how proud I am of you and love you."

The water works start flowing...
It lasts for a short while and I let it come.
Get it out.
Cry.
Who gives a shit who is watching.
The man next to me is uncomfortable.
The woman next to me smiles politely and looks away.
Black stripes of mascara on my face.
Snot on my sleeve.
Shoulders heaving.
The stranger behind me hands me a tissue.
Thank you for the tissue and kindness.
Clean yourself up girl.
You got through it.

I have learned not to be afraid of my emotions.
Don't be afraid of yours.
Breathe through them.
Sit with them.
Feel them.
Cry.
Let it out.
Laugh and move on.
Do what you need to do.

Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel or not feel.
They are your emotions, your memories, your moments.
Honor them.
I'm honoring mine.

My tears are tears of joy.
Celebrating Jack and Charlie.
Bittersweet...yes.
Will they always come...probably.
Joyful...of course.

P.S. Sorry Charlie...you will have to deal with my roller coaster emotions forever.
I will always cry.
Love, Mom xo