Repost: Big Ole ‘Fraidy Cat!!

*****REPOST FROM 2007*****
Two things prompted me to repost this oldie but goodie. 1) I met an amazing woman at a conference over the weekend who was afraid of all animals. While discussing animals, she called cats, “lions” and I knew we’d be friends forever. 2) I absolutely had an adult tantrum at work because I have deranged co-workers who think it’s cute to feed the stray cats that wander into our parking lot. I’ve been running and scooting for almost a year but yesterday, I had enough. I put my foot down, released a string of not so nice words and promptly received an upgraded parking assignment. Damn cats!!!
 
Hey blog fam! What’s happening? Bought a new house, had and recovered from major surgery and now, all is well in my world. I missed blogging so much! I have to get to everyone’s site and check up on ya’ll!
 

Love my house and neighborhood, but the posse of stray cats in my neighborhood is going to make me buy a BB gun. Just joking, but I have called Animal Control. Did I ever tell ya’ll how terrified I am of cats? In general, pets really aren’t my thing. Growing up, we had the occasional, temporary pet (a hamster, a bird, carnival fish and a couple of dogs), but nothing that I ever got emotionally attached too. Me human, you animal. I’m not knocking those that love their pets to death (Hey Creole!!), but it’s just not me.


I’ve been scarred of cats for as long as I can remember. There is just something about them. The way they sneak around and move without making a sound – Yick! The way their eyes seem to narrow into little slits and look right through you – Yuck! And then, the thing I hate the most is when they arch their backs and point their tails straight up in the air – ARGH!

So, obviously, living in an urban/suburban environment is a big, big challenge for yours truly. People think that it’s “sweet” and “caring” to feed strays and people choose not to spray and neuter their pets, so we’ve got millions of unwanted aka stray cats running around. NOT COOL! If you want kittens, go for it. If you don’t, then control ya animal cause if you don’t they are going to find a friend and do what comes naturally. Everybody need a little love, even the damn cats. Ok, ok, off my soapbox and back to the story.

Let me tell ya’ll about the childhood incident that thoroughly cemented my fear and guaranteed that my future offspring would never be the happy owners of a kitten. Sorry kids, tears won’t help cause Mommy is terrified. Go and play with your goldfish.

I was eight years old and I had a small aversion of cats. I didn’t want one and I would flinch when I walked near one on the street. But all in all, they just kinda scared me. I would classify it as an intense dislike, bordering on fear. Until that day. That day changed everything.

My mother was working with houseplants on our front porch and she sent me into the garage to get a small clay pot for her. I walked around the side of the house and approached the open garage. It was midday, but it was overcast and not very bright out, so the garage was a bit on the dim side. I stepped inside the garage and reached into the right corner for the light switch. But instead, my hand connected with the identical garage door switch and the door began to close. Duh, flip the switch back up and it will reverse direction. Yeah, yeah, I know that now, but at the time, I guess I thought it had to close completely before I could open it again.

Now, remember, I said that it was kinda dim inside the garage. And the garage door, looked like this, so not much light was getting in. Well, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I was turning to face the light switches, a flash of light caught my eye in the corner. And then that flash of light moved.

AAAAHHHHHH!!!! I was trapped in the garage with a cat! A panther! A tiger! A LION!!!! Holy hell, Batman! What to do, what to do, I thought frantically. Rational thought – open the door and leave the garage. Irrational thought – scream bloody murder, have an asthma attack and faint on the floor inside the garage. Let’s go with option B.

So, when I regained consciousness, the first thing that I felt was a pain in the back of my head. Ouch, I thought. My eyes were closed and I just wanted to lay there. My mom had to start missing me soon, although I was the type to get easily distracted from the task at hand and take a few extra minutes to complete the assignment. Anyway, I was hoping that she had heard my scream and would be opening the garage door with her remote within seconds. When the cavalry didn’t come, I slowly opened my eyes. I expected to see the ceiling of the garage, but instead, I was staring into a set of eyes. As I tried to register what was in my line of sight, the beast extended his tongue and licked my cheek like it was a double serving of fresh tuna. I was so scared that I was unable to even scream. I reacted on pure survival instincts, by swinging my left arm and knocking the cat across the room. He landed in a pile of garden tools with a “Meeeoowww, aaaaarrrrrrrwwwwnnnnnn”. I jumped up, began beating on the door to the garage like an insane person trapped in a sanitarium and screamed in long, extended wails like that of an approaching emergency vehicle.

The seconds felt like hours until the garage door began to rise. As soon as I could see the ground outside, I flattened myself into a pancake and slid beneath the rising door. Both of my parents stood there with worried expressions on their faces. I burst into tears and jumped into my father’s arms. My mother peeked inside the garage, realized the source of my distress and closed the door again. My father carried me inside and my mother made me a bowl of ice cream.
From that day forward, I have avoided cats. I am terrified beyond measure. People who’ve heard this story say, “Oh the cat was worried and just trying to wake you by liking you.” Bullshit, I say, that cougar wanted to eat me! I can’t watch commercials on television that feature cats. I am unable to walk down the pet food aisle in the grocery store. I will not visit a home where a cat lives; none of that, “I’ll lock it in the bathroom/basement/etc”. Those little tigers are smart and I know they can escape when necessary. If I do encounter a cat in my daily travels, I become paralyzed with fear and usually end up injuring the person closest to me with nail marks in their arms and a semi-busted eardrum from my screams. Yes, I know how irrational fear is, but we’ve all got ‘em. Except mine lives on four legs, owns sharp teeth and could beat me in a foot race. What are you afraid of? I won’t laugh, I promise!!

 

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!

I’m NOT a Single Mother

I’m not writing to discuss and debate the legitimacy or emotion behind the term single mother.  Nope, I’m not really interested in any kind of deep, political, racial or socio-economic debate about single mothers in our society.  That’s not my soapbox.  If anyone starts that foolishness in the comments, I’ll actually delete ‘cha, m’kay?  Cool.

What I do want to discuss is NOT being a single mother.  I am NOT a single mother.  Let me repeat that once again for folks sitting in the cheap seats without a good view of the jumbrotron – I am NOT a single mother.

In the most basic of terms, yes, I am a mother and no, I do not have a living partner.  I am a widow.  I am a mother.  I am a widowed mother.   To call me single is just inaccurate.  I was raised in a family that encouraged me yet set certain expectations for how my life should proceed.  This isn’t judgement or censure for what anyone else was taught, how they were raised, or for the choices that they make.  This is about ME.  Things in my life proceeded in the way that I felt they should.  I fell in love with my high school sweetheart.  We dated.  We got married.  We bought a house.  We decided together to start a family.  We had a son.  Then my husband died.

I fell in love with a nice kid, who turned into a decent young man, who turned into a good father and husband.  I certainly wouldn’t have written the movie of my life with my husband dying at 36 but I had no choice in the matter.  I did not choose to parent alone.  I did not pick a bad partner.  I was not deserted or abandoned.  My son was not rejected.

I’m in the other box now.  The widow box.  When filing out paperwork, there are boxes for single, married, divorced and widowed.  I am a widow.  I am a mother.  Just as divorced and widowed are not the same, neither are single mother and widowed mother.  They simply aren’t. The person who prompted this post did not deserve my response, so I did not offer one to her.  My stony glare and silence were loud and strong.  Regardless of how it is intended, recognize that it is insulting to my deceased husband and it is offensive to me.  Please do not refer to me or any other widowed parent as “single” because we are not.

One Last Gift

Happy Anniversary to my love!  Today would have been our 8th wedding anniversary.  For once, I’m almost at a loss for words.  Imagine that, right?  The one that usually has too much to say can’t compose her thoughts to say something cohesive and profound.  Wait, wait, I said I was almost at a loss but I’ll keep it short.

I miss my husband more and more with each passing day.  I suppose that sounds cliché, but it’s true.  This season of “first FILL IN THE BLANK without him” days has been going full steam ahead, so my birthday in July and today, our anniversary hit especially hard.   In general, my husband was the more spontaneous one and he was also a master in the art of procrastination.  Those two traits worked in tandem, so normally he was scrambling the day before or day of a holiday and saying words that I used to dread but had come to accept and laugh at over the years, “What do you want for Christmas/your birthday/Mother’s Day/our anniversary?”  URGH!!!!   Occasionally, he was ahead of the game, but it was rare.   I supposed he was working to improve his track record because he’s now gotten two over on me.

The first was for my birthday on July 2.  Although my husband passed away on June 9, there was a package waiting for me upon my return to work in late July.  It had arrived on my birthday and my friends and coworkers were unsure whether to tell me about it.  It was a birthday gift from my husband.  An item that I had been eyeing and window shopping for almost a year.  And yes, in the corner of my girlfriend’s office, I was reduced to pile of tears.

The second was last night.  As I was searching for one of my favorite wedding pictures to add to the blog today, I came across a folder on my husband’s laptop that brought me to my knees.  Yes, actually caused my knees to buckle and I cried like a baby, while on the floor in front of the desk in my bedroom.   After getting engaged, my husband jumped into wedding planning with more enthusiasm than I thought he’d have.  He was excited about the next chapter of our lives together and it showed.   We were surrounded by the love of family and friends, and we relished in every single moment of it.  My only teeny weeny regret was not having things videotaped.  I’ve expressed this to my husband over the years and this year it seems, he sought to do something about it.  The folder that I found contained a wedding “video” of sorts – over 400 of our wedding photos, set to a soundtrack with some of our favorite songs.  I can tell that he planned to do more because of the unfinished/unpolished ending, but the part that he did finish is so very precious to me.

I decided to share a few of the photos along with the intro song.   For those that know me IRL, you’ll recognize many of the pics as I prepared something similar for my husband’s services in June.  This song, “Stars” by Kindred was very special to us.  Per the quote below, I have no regrets and no unspoken words for my husband truly knew my heart, and I knew his.

“Let today be a day where you take nothing for granted. For life is fleeting, fragile and precious and can change on a whim. Say all the things you really want to say to your loved ones today, say the things you would regret should they pass on and your words remain unspoken. Rejoice, for you and they are alive today – and should you or them pass on to unknown shores, rejoice even more for you have a wonderful love story to tell.”

- Jackson Kiddard

Smiling Through the Tears

It’s back to school time and this morning LittleTDJ headed off for his first day.  He’s returning to the same school that he attended in the spring of this year but he has a new teacher.  It’s his first day of school without his dad there to kiss him and cheer him on.  It’s the first of many, but the sting of the first is definitely strong.  My heart aches and I wish I could make him appear to put an end to this awful, cruel joke.  **deep sigh**  I’m trying to take comfort in the idea that MrTDJ is smiling upon us and watching over our steps.  Have a great day sweetie!!!

Image

Image

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