A Moment of Reflection

Time

As I watch my friends and fellow bloggers reflect upon the end of the year, I have a sense of joy for all that is happening to others around me. There is a feature that keeps rolling across my Faceb.ook timeline called “Year in Review”.  Seeing the year that my friends and family have had, makes me smile at their successes and achievements, while continuing to wish them well on the not so great moments.

For me, the year was defined by my husband’s death. Maybe in years to come 2012 will have an abundance of layered memories. But at this moment, the singular, overarching thought is simply that in 2012 my husband died.  Oh there’s more of course. As a ripple to his death, my heart experienced blackness I didn’t know existed, my mind was pushed near the point of madness and my life changed course in the most unexpected of ways.

So, it is with bittersweet apprehension that I peek at 2013.  I can already sense the great relief at seeing a different year in “print”, while acknowledging that 2012 represents a time when my husband was alive and with us. I spotted the quotation above and it struck a chord.  We thought we had more time. Who’s to say how much more time, but we didn’t see his time here on earth ending in June.  2013 starts anew without him.  There will never be another calendar year in which he is present.  There isn’t a day that I don’t think of him at least a dozen times. But he isn’t here.  And I am.  I continue to push forward in fits and starts. Some days I experience bursts of laughter so true and authentic that I feel guilt, even as my face cracks a smile. Other days I feel waves of despair so deep and dark that I think this will be the one to push me over the edge and I struggle to hold it together.

But held it together is what I’ve done. Yup, I’ve done it for 6.5 months.  Not with a flourish or exclamation point.  No, rather with a battered dingy, full of holes and a roll of super sticky duct tape that keeps getting tangled in my hands.  I can’t stop thanking God for this special duct tape though.  My duct tape is made up of tears, deep breaths, long periods of silence, held breath, collective prayer, family, friends and tons of wine.

We have survived my 36th birthday, my 8th wedding anniversary, my husband’s 37th birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Oh what an emotional ride this holiday season has been.  Tonight, NYE marks a “holiday” full of traditions that we built over the years, but that he and I won’t ever share again.

My prayer for 2013 is that I remain gentle with myself as I certainly know there is no “end” to what I’m experiencing while trying to be as in the moment as I can with our son, Little TDJ.   May peace and blessings be upon all of you and your loved ones, today and in the year to come.

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Peace of Mind and Tempered Expectations

ExpectationsI received an email a few weeks ago from a reader and I was stunned into speechlessness.  So stunned, that I didn’t reply because I couldn’t form the proper words.  I shared the email with a friend over Thanksgiving and she insisted that I write about it here.  It went as follows:

“Hi MrsTDJ, I’m a long time reader and I wanted to express my condolences on the death of your husband.  From your stories, I kinda feel like I know him and you.  All the best to you in the future.  While I respect that this is your blog to write what you want, and I know you’re hurting, I’m curious as to when you think you’ll write some funny stories again.  You used to keep me and my office rolling.  It helped to pass the work day.  Everything you’ve written lately has been a little sad.  Take care.”

Really??????  A backazzed compliment????? Hey widow chick, sorry for your loss, but um, when can you start entertaining me again with funny stories???  Whoo saaaaaaaa!!!  Anyway, that little diddy has prompted me to take a step in the direction of cleansing all the extraneous stuff from my mind and heart.

I’ve learned many new things in the last few months about myself and about people.  I’ve been reminded just how amazing and special my family is.  My friend circle has shown me more love and support than I could have imagined.  I’ve been encouraged and humbled by the kindness that my online communities have blessed me with.  And, on the flip side, I’ve learned that the world keeps spinning and people have returned to their daily lives.  Without malice or evil intent, folks have categorized my “situation” as “finished”.  With open hearts, they called, emailed, visited, attended services and then life kept going.  Remarkably, there are those who have surprised me in the best ways – being there in ways I couldn’t have predicted or imagined.  Painfully, those who I wouldn’t have expected to pull disappearing acts when I needed them most did just that.  Almost 6 months have gone by since my husband passed away, and there are people who haven’t reached out to me in 5 and a half.

I  wanted to not talk or write about the hurt and disappointment, but it’s real and I must.  In therapy we discuss allowing people to take your power and govern your emotions.  I’m taking my power back.  By allowing myself to write, I am releasing parts of what pains me.  I’ve expressed my appreciation to those that have been there for LittleTDJ and I, both personally and through my writing.  I’ve been less vocal about those that haven’t because I didn’t want to air dirty laundry or bring negativity into my writing.  However, I’ve been holding onto tiny scabs that are starting to fester.  I can’t allow that to happen.  Minute to minute, I must draw on strength I didn’t know I possessed to complete life’s most basic tasks, such as bathing, driving and saying hello to a coworker.  The memory of my husband’s smile pushes me to accept the collective prayers and blessings of my circle in order to give LittleTDJ the best version of myself that I can muster.  I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to fathom how hard it is for me to string together a sentence.  To that end, I must acknowledge then banish those that don’t wish me well from my life.

I’m not the same person that I was prior to June 9th and I know I’ll never be that exact person again.  I am a version of that woman and some people aren’t comfortable with that.  I saw the quotation above and I realized that’s what I had been doing.  Subconsciously, I was imposing my expectations on others because of the kind of friend, cousin, niece, aunt, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law that I was.  That stops now.  I’m disappointed in the words and actions of some friends and most of my in-law family as they have shown that they do not have the time nor interest to invest in LittleTDJ and I.  There are those who have shown me, without exception, that LittleTDJ and I are not important to them.  I’m hurt, yet not mortally wounded.  I’m owning my emotion and moving forward.  Amazingly enough, I am relieved.  Relieved to see the cards on the table and realize where people stand.  They have taken the guesswork out and cleared space in my life that they probably shouldn’t have had anyway.  Some will read my writings today and take my message very, very personal.  I can’t control the reaction or interpretation that anyone may have to my thoughts, nor will I try.  If you think this is about you, it probably is.  On this journey, authenticity and vulnerability have been a source of healing for me, so I will continue to speak about much of what I face.

LittleTDJ and I are surrounded by love and from this moment forward, I am actively choosing NOT to allow any more space, time or heartache be wasted on those who aren’t in our corner for the right reasons.  Thanks to all who continue to shower LittleTDJ and myself with love and prayer!

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The Passing of the 9′s

Funny how things take on a clarity that’s not apparent until you are in the midst of the situation.  I gave myself way too much credit and I was overconfident about my ability to control my emotions.  I made a conscious decision that I would not mourn the anniversary of my husband’s death.  Nope, WOULD NOT DO IT.  I told myself that it was foolish.  Although June 9 changed everything, I didn’t want that date to paralyze me for eternity.  Yeah, go ahead and shake your heads.  “Denial” is more than just a long azz river in Egypt, right?  Somehow I thought that I could actually control the dates upon which I felt the most pain.  Riiiiiiiiiiiight. I was even so bold as to tell my therapist that I wasn’t counting the days since MrTDJ passed away.  I’m a liar.  A naïve, well-intentioned liar, but still a liar.  Little did I know that I’d have not the teensiest bit of control and would be at the mercy of my calendar.   I have not taken an actual calendar and marked off the days since his death, but my mental calendar is clicking and ticking.

I keep a personal journal and thank goodness it is the only witness to the daily arc of my thoughts.  It’s clear to me now that I was altered and unable to honestly acknowledge that there was a connection between my waves and the 9th day of each month.  I awoke this morning at 1:41 and was compelled to pull out my journal.   Hmm, me thinks maybe there is a pattern.  On July 9, I had a dental appointment for a crown repair.  Ugh, bad day, no wonder I was in such a terrible mood.  Riiiiiiiiight.  August 9 found me calling into work because I’d barely slept two hours in the three previous nights.  I cancelled plans with friends at the last minute on Sunday, September 9 because I just didn’t have the energy.  Although October 9 came on the heels of Columbus Day and a three-day weekend, I simply couldn’t get it together to do or say much to anyone.  And now, it’s 3:23 am on November 9 and I can’t stop crying.  The 9th of each month has done just what I unrealistically denied it could do – slam me against a brick wall and send me spiraling down the rabbit hole.

I know not how to change the course.  It’s as if I build myself up from the 10th of the month and then subconsciously, my defenses weaken around the 7th of the following month and by the 9th, I’m drowning again.  I think of my husband hundreds of times each day and the good memories have not yet tempered the stinging ache of having lost him.  That’s not to say that I don’t smile and laugh, because I do.  Undoubtedly as the 9th approaches, my efforts to sustain a sense of normalcy seem to be in vain.  At some point today, I know that I will drift off in the middle of a conversation, stop watching during the middle of a television show or completely check out during a meeting at work.  During that time, I will relive, with laser like precision and accuracy, the last 2 hours of my husband’s life.  Those 120 minutes run through my mind in about 7 or 8 minutes.  The moments play like snapshots in a photo montage and then there is a pause.  The pause makes way for our last, laughter filled conversation as we awaited the arrival of the paramedics.  Snapshots again.  Then another pause for MrTDJ’s last interaction with LittleTDJ.  And then the FEELING.

I’ve never blogged in detail about the events of that morning and I doubt I ever will.  I’ve journaled them and talked to my therapist and inner circle about them.  What I will share is the FEELING that I experienced.  I was standing on the front porch of our home when my husband made his transition.  At that very moment, I KNEW.  Minutes before a paramedic came to update me on his status, I KNEW.  Well before we traveled to the hospital and he was officially pronounced, I KNEW.  We’d shared a heart for 2 decades and gone through too much for me NOT to know.  I FELT his spirit pass through my body followed by the gentlest of breezes blowing across my cheeks.  I KNEW because I FELT the essence of him hug me tightly, and then release me.  I was absorbed in the stillness as I FELT him float to the heavens above me.  The tears didn’t come until much later.  Dare I say that the moment was both heart wrenching yet peaceful.  It’s hard for me to express in words.  When I think of it, a line from the Sarah McLachan song, Angel, passes through my mind.  “In the arms of the angels, fly away from here”.

I feel him all the time, but on the 9th, everything deepens.  The 9th marks another month that I’ve had to survive here without him.  Maybe someday, the 9th won’t send me straight into darkness without passing go.  Tonight, I’ve got plans with friends and I’m trying to prep myself to hold it together.  I know how I’d like today to go, but the universe has offered me no assurances.   Five months into my new normal and it still seems like I’m living somewhere in the Land of Oz.  And even the Land of Oz would be ok if MrTDJ could get here.

I’m Guest Posting at Black and Married with Kids

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Ronnie and Lamar Tyler, the creators of the site, Black and Married with Kids.  I’d been a reader and fan of the site for quite a while.  Once Ronnie and I chatted, it seemed that I might be able to offer a unique perspective to the BMWK audience.  I’m honored and humbled at the opportunity to share my love.  The post is something that I wrote in July, about a month after my husband’s death.  I’d love if you’d head on over there and check it out.  If you’ve already read it, read it again.  =)  While you’re there, browse the site and I’m sure you’ll find other great things. 

“The Intersection of Grace and Grief: How Grieving for My Husband is a Daily Struggle”

Vegas Then, Vegas Now

Last night, I was supposed to be packing for a my trip this weekend to Blogalicious 2012, but I was distracted.  Preparing to travel to Las Vegas is supposed to be fun, but I couldn’t make my mind NOT wander to the only other time I’d been there – my honeymoon, September 2004.  

MrTDJ and I decided to go to Vegas after a laughter filled conversation.  About 2 months into wedding planning, we sat down to tackle the honeymoon.  We each made a list of 5 places we’d like to go and then we compared lists.  Very scientific, huh?  A quick glance of the two lists showed Vegas as the only place in common.  Done, cause that’s how he and I rolled.  Smooth and easy, whenever possible.  Our trip there was fantastic and I wish I had a few picks to share, but MrTDJ somebody lost the rolls of film and I have no honeymoon pics except for the one we took at “Top of the World“, the revolving restaurant atop the Stratosphere Hotel.  We talked about visiting Las Vegas again, but we never made it.   It’s bittersweet for me to travel there without him.  But, I will and I am. 

In 2010, when I first heard of Blogalicious, the conference was in Miami.  MrTDJ and I discussed it, but the logistics didn’t quite work out and I couldn’t attend.  I thought the stars had aligned in 2011 because it was being held almost in my backyard at the National Harbor, in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  Unfortunately, the dates didn’t work – it fell on the same weekend as MrTDJ’s birthday and the national walk for Autism Speaks.  I had already fielded a walking team in honor of our son, LittleTDJ and made big plans for the birthday boy.  Finally, early this year the dates for 2012 were announced and I rushed with excitement to tell MrTDJ.  Vegas is September and he told me that I had to go.  My homegirl Nae and I talked details in the early spring and it sounded like it might happen. 

Then my husband died.  I forgot all about Blogalicious.  One sleepless night in early July, I was going through my Google Reader and read a post on Justice Fergie’s page.  The post wasn’t about Blogalicious, but she mentioned it.  And when she did, I smiled but totally disregarded the idea of going.  Suddenly, the phrase, “Why not?” popped into my head.  I can’t say that was my husband speaking to me because y’all would think I’m crazy, but I feel as if I was moved by his spirit.

Since my husband’s death, writing is one of the few things that brings me any solace.  My sleepless nights are filled with journal entries, a letter or two to my husband, blog posts and work on my fiction novels.  MrTDJ was one of my biggest fans and certainly a vocal critic.  He wanted so badly for me to write freely without the constraint of a daily 9-5 gig.  We used to joke that if I quit my job to pursue a full-time writing career, we’d be living in a studio apartment eating PB&J every night. 

I blog because I like to write and it makes me feel good.  It’s as simple as that.  Folks visit my site and they read because they feel a connection.  Quite simple as well.  I know that if my husband were here, he would encourage me to embrace everything that Blogalicious has to offer.  And that’s exactly what I plan to do!

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Witnessing grief makes people uncomfortable.  Yep.  Very very uncomfortable.  I understand.  Not knowing what to say is normal, natural and you need not apologize for your discomfort.  I will gladly accept a nod, a smile, a brief hug, a shoulder rub and even the basic, “I’m so sorry” and “How are you holding up?”  All of those things are acceptable and appreciated.  What I’m having a hard time accepting is dumb sh*t.  Be forewarned that the average widow, especially your girl over here, has a paper-thin tolerance for bullsh*t and an equally short fuse.  So, in the face of asinine comments, I’m unable to promise that I’ll responded calmly and take the high road.  Yesterday I tried, but I failed.

While I was pregnant in 2008, I wrote a post regarding some of the noisy, irritating and stupid things that people said to me.  Long time readers may remember, but for those unfamiliar, click right here for a look.  So, it seems that I need to write a little something something about the things you shouldn’t say to someone that’s been recently widowed.  Damn.  Didn’t realize this was necessary, but I suppose it is.  I don’t profess to be an expert at anything, so I’m certainly not here to say this is the “official” script and handbook for talking to a widow.  However, I’m nine weeks in and I can surely tell you a few things that will seal the deal on the ending of a friendship, get you slapped or bring an earful of cuss words you might not be expecting.

In general, my coworkers have been great.  I’ve been here for just over seven years.  I arrived as a newlywed, so they’ve seen me through many life transitions including buying a house and having Little TDJ.  Of course there are always a few rotten apples mixed in with the good ones.  One such apple walked up the steps with me yesterday.  She made small talk for a second about the weather, asked me how I was, then proceeded to say, “So, how long do you think you’ll keep wearing your rings?”.  My neck swiveled and she’s lucky that I had the good sense to remember I was in the office.  I doubt she even knows that her life was at risk, because for a brief second, I considered pushing her back down the flight of steps we had just climbed.  I promptly uttered a terse, “F*ck off!” and walked away.

Really ma’am???  What concern of yours is it how long I continue to wear my engagement ring and wedding band???  We are not family nor friends, so I know your question isn’t born from any sense of concern or worry about my emotional state.  Who thinks in those terms?  And how does my wearing MY rings affect you???  The thought to ask that of someone would never cross my mind, or the mind of anyone with any sense, empathy or compassion.  Whether I choose to take them off today, tomorrow or 4 years from now, that decision is mine and mine alone.

When you are first widowed, the people around you seem to make a genuine effort to understand your emotions, your crying jags, your outbursts, your depression, your need for comfort, etc.  Then, as time speeds forward, there seems to be an unspoken consensus, just under the surface that you should be better within weeks or months.  That thought process is flawed though because grief is actually a chronic condition. There is no cure, there is no fix and time, although rumored to, doesn’t exactly heal all wounds.  I may laugh a bit more, smile a little broader and seem a bit more talkative.  But underneath it all, there is a constant realization that my life is forever changed that stays with me, no matter how many days, weeks or months pass.  Yes, life goes on; of that, we are all certain.  However, I think there’s a disconnect as people don’t actually realize that a part of me died on June 9 when MrTDJ left this world.  In many ways, I’m frozen on June 9, and I’ve watched the last 9 weeks perched an a ledge as an unwilling participant and observer.

So, yeah, asking a new widow how long she’s gonna wear her rings is a big no-no.  A few other hot buttons that I’ve fielded but luckily for the person, I was medicated and chose not to respond.

  • You’re young.  I’m sure you’ll marry again.
  • When do you think you’ll start dating?
  • After my divorce, I felt the same as I’m sure you’re feeling now
  • I know just how you feel.

All of these phrases are rude and inappropriate.  Period.  Don’t use ever use them.  Remember that less is more, and if you are ever uncertain about what to say, stick to the basics.  “I’m so sorry.  I can’t imagine how you feel.  I’m praying for you.  If you ever need to talk, I’m here to listen.”  All four of those lines are winners and won’t get you (or your feelings) hurt.   They worked in June, they work now and they will work for many weeks and months to come.

If You Think You’re Lonely Now

. . . just wait until tonight, girl.  Mr. Womack surely put his heart and soul into those lyrics, and they’ve defined the weeks since my husband’s passing.  During the day, it’s a bit easier to fill my time because I’ve returned to work.  My head isn’t really in the game, but I’ve got a super supportive boss and great colleagues.  Outside of work, I’ve got Little TDJ, my family, friends and a village of others to fill the minutes.

In the evenings, once our household is settled in for the night, the darkness starts to invade my head.  The loneliness pushes in from the edges of my heart and fights to take control.  It hurts to reflect upon my work day and want to share something a coworker did or said, but not have him to share it with.  It’s heart wrenching to see a show that we loved to watch together on the preview guide and not be able to force myself to watch it alone.  It is so painful to think of a funny joke that we’ve shared for years, and not have him there to deliver his part of the punch line.

Sometimes I can look down upon my son’s sleeping face and feel a few moments of comfort, but that is short-lived and followed by the desire to share the highlights of his school day with his father.  **sigh**  The endless hours of reflection and thought during the midnight hours remind me of how deep my loss is.  The stillness of the night allows my mind to drift, dream and remember.  In the hours before dawn, even my best memories come coated in sadness.  The good memories all begin with smiles and joy, then they change stained by the inevitable fact that I don’t have my other half to make any more.  MrTDJ isn’t there to laugh at my corny jokes and I can’t laugh at his crude ones.  I’m not the first person to lose their friend, love mate and spouse and unfortunately, I won’t be the last.  This is a pain that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

I continue to pray my own strength and I receive the collective strength from those that are praying for me.  Your calls, texts, emails, FB messages and blog messages mean more than I could ever tell you.  Thank you for not stopping even when I don’t respond.  Know that none are falling upon deaf ears. Sometimes the communication comes when I’m in a “good” place and stepping out to confirm to someone that I’m good makes me not so good.  I hope that makes sense.  Sometimes the communication comes when I’m in a not so good place and although I’m lifted that someone is thinking of me, I’m not able to compose myself enough to respond.

I printed the following lyrics from Yolanda Adams, The Battle Is Not Yours and I taped them inside my husband’s wallet, which I have been carrying inside my purse since the morning he passed away.

There is no pain Jesus can’t feel
No hurt He cannot heal
All things work according to His perfect will

No matter what you’re going through
Remember God is using You
For the battle is not yours, it’s the Lord’s

But at night, even these words aren’t able to help me through the painful tightening in my chest.  Lonely is something I’m not used to feeling and it hurts more than I could ever imagine.  Conventional wisdom says that one day it will begin to hurt less.  I doubt I’m anywhere near that day.

The Circling of Vultures and Vampires

Writing is very therapeutic and it makes me feel good.  So many things have happened since my husband’s passing on June 9 that I couldn’t possibly blog about every single instance.  Overall, I’ve received tons of love, prayer and support and I’ve chosen to focus on that rather than some of the uglier things.  However, after the calls that I received last week, I changed my mind and decided to let a few things out.

Longtime readers, as well as friends and family know that MrTDJ and I came from two different worlds.  He called my life, “The Cosby Show” and I called his, “Boyz In Da Hood”; two loving households, set against very opposing backdrops.  Neither of us took offense to the others perspective.  We agreed and laughed about the parallel yet dissimilar experiences often.  He found it especially humorous that although I’m a Huxtable through and through, folks don’t recognize my gangsta because they let the bougie fool ‘em.  I’m nobody’s fool and when necessary, I can handle foolishness with a quickness.  I’ve always had a good amount of street smarts and my dear husband helped to instill tons more into me over the years.

It seems that some folks think I’m 100% Huxtable and born yesterday without the ability to to know how “the game” is played.  M’kay, they’ve got me confused with someone else.  Just to be 100% clear – calling the widow of your deceased “friend” at 1am sniffing for signs of weakness is NOT o.k.  Nope, sure isn’t.  The convo went a little something like this:

MrsTDJ: Hello?

Vulture #1: Hey MrsTDJ

MrsTDJ: Who is this?

Vulture #1: This is Vulture #1, MrTDJ’s buddy

MrsTDJ: How did you get my number and why are you calling me so late?

Vulture #1: Oh, I got it from Vulture #2 and I was calling to check in on you and the little man.  Seeing if y’all needed anything.

I scrunch my face up and consider the comments.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve never spoken to Vulture #1 on the phone before.  He certainly was not a “friend” of my husband’s.  Acquaintance – yes?  Friend – NOT!  The audacity of the person that ponied up my cell # so easily along with his gusto to proceed with the call rubbed me all kinds of wrong.

MrsTDJ: It’s late and we’re sleeping.  I’m not sure who you got my number from, but I’m gonna need you to never call me this late again.

Vulture #1: Oh, I’m sorry about the time.  I know MrTDJ was a night owl, so…..Anyway, you know, if you need anything, I got you.  I mean anything at all.  I hate to see you all lonely and trying to raise little man by yourself, so if you ever -

MrsTDJ: Look dude. I’m not the one. Go prey on someone else because I’m not THAT type of grieving widow searching for a hero to take away the pain.  Damn!  And if I was, it damn sure wouldn’t be you.  Please lose my f*cking number.

Later in the week, another call came in while I was driving.  Again, lets be 100% clear – calling the widow of your deceased “boy” in an effort to fleece expensive electronics equipment from her is NOT o.k.  Nope, sure isn’t.

MrsTDJ: Hello?

Vampire #1: Hey baby girl.  How you holding up over there?

MrsTDJ: Who is this?

Vampire #1: Oh, this is Vampire #1.  You know me and MrTDJ was boys.

MrsTDJ:  I know who you are.

Vampire #1:  Yeah, I’m still messed up behind him passing away so suddenly.  I remember the last time I saw him a few months ago.

MrsTDJ:  Uh huh.  Is there something specific you wanted?

Vampire #1:  Yeah, well Vampire #2 and I were rapping yesterday, and thinking back to rolling with him in that Suburban he loved so much.  Man, that was a serious system he had in that truck.  Everybody used to talk about that system.  I know you’re not really into all that stuff, so if you were needing a friendly face to help take it off of your hands, Vampire #2 and I could help with that.

MrsTDJ: Oh yeah?

Vampire #1: Right, right.  Most of that stuff only meant something to him, you know?  Like it was a nice setup he had, but the parts didn’t cost a whole lot.  So you wouldn’t make too much money off of it and we’d only take a small cut, but yeah, it’s the least we could do for our boy.

MrsTDJ:  So, now trying to trick a widow out of material possessions is what’s popping in the streets?  You and Vampire #2 can kiss my ass.  Kindly lose my f*cking number.

**smh**  Really y’all???  Really??? That’s the way the game is played, huh?  Hmph.  Well, I’ve got a different set of rules and folks don’t seem to recognize.  I wasn’t the shrinking violet type before my husband’s death, and I’m damn sure not it now.  In the moment, both of those fools irritated me, but in hindsight, I’m forced to laugh.  I suppose they both really thought their cons would work.  How sad but I’m happy that my sense of humor is not completely lost and I can see the comedy in their desperation.

The Intersection of Grace and Grief

During a business meeting today in regards to my husband’s recent death, I was stunned by the comment that a stranger directed at me.  Through eyes glistening with tears, she said, “My heart aches for you and I’m so moved by your grace during this difficult time.  It’s obvious that you are sad and grieving, but your composure is amazing.”  Hmmm.  I’ve heard a variation of this a few times over the last 26 days from family and friends, but hearing it from a stranger gave me pause.  I can hear my husband’s voice in my ear, as if he were still lying beside me in our bed.  “Girl, you’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.  You don’t see it, but everybody else does.”  Ironically, one of MrTDJ’s favorite Whitney Houston songs was, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”.  That’s one of the songs that has been on repeat over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster that seems surreal and dizzying most days, but I suppose my internal struggles aren’t visible to the world.  I feel as if my heart has been shattered into a trillion pieces and there’s no such repair kit available.  I’ve always heard the term that everyone grieves differently, and now I actually understand what that means.  As the minutes, hours, days and weeks begin to pass, the loss of my life partner has actually gotten harder.  Since I’m an event planner by trade, my brain outvoted my heart and I put on my business hat to make it through the moments and days right after his death.  I’ve not really allowed my deepest emotions to show because it’s been easier to focus on the “to do” actions.

Our love was strong, flaws and all.  There are moments when I simply crave the perfect imperfections of my life prior to June 9.  Allow me a few minutes to talk about my dear MrTDJ.  Often in death, the deceased is unintentionally canonized into a model of perfection.  Um, no.  Not gonna happen here.  No one walking this earth lives as such and I don’t seek any such illusions for my husband.   My statement isn’t meant to color him in a negative light, rather to say that he was as imperfect a creature as any of us.

When he and I met, we were both young and new to love however we knew from the beginning that we’d found something special in one another.  Folks around us weren’t quite as certain because we appeared to be polar opposites, but we naively and innocently dug our heels in pushed forward.  From 1992 to the morning that my husband passed away, humor united our hearts.  Laughter stayed at the core of our relationship, through all the highs and lows that a twenty year relationship can traverse.  Thinking back, I can’t help but smile at the memory of teaching MrTDJ to tie a necktie, and in return, he taught me to shoot dice.  LOL!  See what I mean?  We were so different, yet alike in the areas that mattered.

I am so happy to have shared the milestones of my youth and adulthood with my husband.   I am blessed with a son who looks just like his father.  Looking into my son’s face, I am transported back to the hallways of T.C. Williams High School and the first time that I laid eyes on my husband.  There are moments when the similarities between the two are a little too much for my fragile heart, but I am hoping that one day those things will bring me nothing but joy.   As a testament to the strength that he believed I possessed and with the support of my family, friends, neighbors, listserve and facebook friends, and this amazing blog community, I am holding it together minute by minute.  I’m wearing clean clothes, keeping my pedicure fresh and not crying in line at Sam’s club.  Being told that I look composed, graceful and calm is a good thing, I suppose.  But please don’t let the glowing skin that’s due to consuming more water than food in the last month fool you into thinking that I’m ok.  My wounds are deep and raw.

Monday, July 2 was my 36th birthday and I was without MrTDJ for the first time since 1992.  He and I celebrated my 16th birthday with Good Humor bars from his neighborhood ice cream truck, and he gave me a shiny new “Virginia is for Lovers” key chain as a gift.  I wanted to write a little something for a few days, but Monday took me to a low place and I wasn’t yet ready.  Today I felt compelled to write.  I debated if I wanted to write in my journal, or share things on the blog.  Words have always brought me peace and comfort, so I decided that a blog entry might be a baby step toward my healing.  MrTDJ was my biggest fan and always encouraged me to write something every day, whether I shared it with no one, him or the world.  He even mailed me an actual “fan” letter once.  That dude.  ***deep sigh***

My husband was known for his loving heart, his quick wit and certainly his smile.  Do a little something for me, would ya?  Please share a laugh and a smile with someone today.  Tell someone you haven’t talked to in forever how much you miss and love them.  And, if you wouldn’t mind, please continue sending all the positive energy and prayers.

Love of a Lifetime

Since my blog family is a big part of me, and as I’ve shared many parts of myself, I knew I had to compose a few words to share the loss that I have experienced.  There is a song by Kirk Franklin called “He Will Supply” at the end of this post that has helped me get through this weekend.

My beloved husband passed away on Saturday June 9 and the words fail me in attempting to explain how broken I am.  Most long-term readers know that MrTDJ and I have been linked in love since high school.  Specifically, we’ve shared a heart for the last 20 years.

I’ve decided to repost a few of the moments that I had previously blogged about.  If you’ve never read them, I hope you’ll take the time.  If you’re already familiar, humor me and read them again.  Click the links to share a little part of US.  Have a laugh and please say a prayer for me, my son and our entire circle of family and friends.

Meeting MrTDJ in high school - His laughter made my soul smile!

Prom Magic - Love to love that man!

An Unforgettable Rock Party - Yes, yes, it really happened folks

The Gift He Didn’t Quite Appreciate - We forever agreed to disagree on this one

The Night Mama and Daddy TDJ almost killed me and MrTDJ - Trying to be grown!

The Night I Almost Killed MrTDJ - Pays to knows your partners allergies

Game Night – this is the essence of my relationship with MrTDJ, laughs and love