Thursday, September 30, 2010

9 Months

It was the last day of December when he left this Earth, today, nine months later, it is the last day of September.

Even though the rain sliding down my windshield this evening reminded me of that tragic winter's eve, I must admit, the emotions I have felt today have been more prideful than pitiful.

I am proud of how I have handled this journey so far. I have had severe lows when the only time I resembled human was when I was punching, pounding, or bellowing noise from the depth of my soul, as well as, highs where I have laughed so loud and so hard that my eyes water and my sides hurt. I appreciate every high, low, and in between because it solidifies that fact that I am still alive, and I can still feel.

During this ninth month of September, two perfect bodies and souls entered this world. Tucker Gavin to his parents Olivia and Chris, and Sloane Theresa, to her parents Sharon and Brian. I had the privilege of holding both of these miracles only hours after their arrival. The perfection of an infant is incommunicable, the beauty defies description. I look at the (both) first time mothers and admire their ability to be so harmonious with the new life that was just laid upon them. The doting fathers, the snapshots, the smiling friends and family, this is what God had in mind when he created the world. The short while of blessed innocence and pure joy in an otherwise broken and harrowing world, this is perfection.

I was meant to do this. I thought Dan and I were meant to do this.

Tonight at dinner with my dear friend Katie, we laughed, loved, and shared as we always do. There are never any secrets between Katie and I, and tonight we even reached further and learned more about one another. Her and I were unaware until tonight that we have shared a few bricks that have helped build us into who we are today. (Smart, beautiful, funny, amazing, wonderful people in case your were wondering, wink wink.) It wasn't a realization that we shared, because it's something I've known, however, we shared an awareness that it was not in my plan to have a child with Dan. It is a (very disguised) blessing that we didn't have a child that would have had to endure some of the same tribulations and distress Dan endured growing up.

God knows, and I'm learning.

9 months symbolizes many things for me tonight, as you can tell. One of them being that I'm acknowledging the phenomenon that I can do this. I will do this.

I will be a mother one day to hold and protect sweet innocence of my own. I won't just be a mom, but I will have a family. I will love again and I will let someone love me. I will be a strong (brick) foundation that friends and loved ones can and will lean on in their times of need.

I will do all of these things, but if and only if, it's in His will.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good People, Good Love

I have been having conversations with friends lately about little gifts that you can give/receive throughout your days and life that, even though we don't spend an excessive amount of time thinking about them, they have patched a hole somewhere in our world. The gifts that I speak of are as small as a smile from someone you are walking by to a very selfless and special gift, like I was given today.

This week has been a roller coaster ride for me emotionally. I find myself smiling more, laughing more, and feeling less broken. Then I bully myself into believing I shouldn't be feeling this way. When will the day come when I can just have a feeling and not second guess the HELL out of it! All of the second guessing, and too much thought pays it's toll on me physically as well. I don't eat well, and tend to not stay as hydrated as I should. Throw in the fact that I'm sufin' the crimson wave, have a sinus headache, and I am just a real peach! Even though the stars were aligned against me, I still laced up my shoes this morning for a 10 mile run.

Around mile 6, I was really struggling. I guess I looked like I was too, sweating and lips dry. I ran past a church that was having a yard sale. As I passed a women and her daughter, the woman lifted her arm toward me and in her hand was a bottle of water. I looked at her and she said, "would you like this?" I all but kissed her on the mouth as I took her gift and stopped to drink. Her sweet little girl looked at the mother and said, "Mommy, that was my water." The mother said, "Hush honey, we have plenty." I couldn't thank that woman enough. I continued my run, and continued to struggle, but her act of kindness would not be forgotten. She probably has not had a second thought about the sweaty white girl that she saved from heat stroke today, but I know she was another piece of the bandage that is patching small portions of my aching void.

I love good people, and I try with all my might to be one of them. I want to be the reason for someone else's smile, a piece for someone else that patches a hole. I know I will be given many opportunities to pay the love I received today forward and I look forward to it.

As for my emotional state now that I am at the end of the week, I am still grappling to make sense of the feelings I am having. I love, the laughter I have shared this week, the smiles that have been from ear to ear, and the glimmer of hope I have seen for a chance to enjoy life again and have a happy future. It's all part of the healing journey, and to the people who have shared in making this week a baby step closer to having the old Tiffin back: You will never truly know how much you are appreciated, but I will do my part to give it back, ten fold.

I am realizing that love that is shared within this world doesn't die, and I have much more love to give.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wild Child

There are so many thoughts running through my head this evening. Conflicting thoughts and hypocritical views, my mind gleans them throughout the day. This road...nobody said it would be smooth.

I gave a speech to some of my students today about how fast decisions can end up coming back to hurt you in ways you never imagined. I spoke of making good choices, from the breakfast you choose in the morning to the people you choose to spend your time with. I preached of wise choices and higher roads..............Who do I think I am? I wouldn't know a good decision if it bit me in the ass.

I had this discussion with my friend Heidi today. She laughed and said that all teachers had to be a little hypocritical. I mean when I first started teaching I was smoker. I will never forget the anti smoking stickers I put on each child and the florescent pencils I handed out. I got in my white Honda that afternoon and couldn't wait to light up! I might have even stopped at the liquor store to buy Bud Light instead of gas!! I probably smoked those cigarettes and drank that beer with people whom my mother never would have approved of, too!

I have since stopped smoking, but we all know I still love my Bud Light (If I could figure out how to play Billy Currington's "I'm pretty good at drinking beer" while you were reading this, I so would). I also do not choose to spend my time with people who don't except me for all of who I am. Pretending, being fake, and molding yourself into what the people around you want you to be takes too much effort. Heidi actually told me (within said conversation) that everyone I surrounded myself with was good and I was the one people should be worried about!! She compared me to the little devil that sits on your shoulder always contradicting what the angel says! I couldn't stop laughing. Even though I know she was kidding, I can't help but recognize there is some truth in that....however, that is part of my charm....I think.

When I decide to follow my "free spirit" side, I am my own worst enemy. I always second guess choices I've made and constantly beat myself up. I have written in the past about people being judgemental and overly critical. I AM DOING THAT TO MYSELF!! I have no doubt in my mind that Dan would want me to be me. He fell in love with the Tiffin at Hella's that ordered two beers at once and a shot, downed them, got up and sang karaoke with a 90 year old man who resembled Charlie Daniels. He loved that girl and I need to love her again too.

In my sweet friend Jessi's own words, she said, "You were a wild child before Dan, you were a wild child with Dan, and you are going to be wild on this new road as well."
Well, I have to say, this road is as bumpy as a busted wheel chariot on gravel, but I'm going to put on my big girl panties, slip on some padded shorts, grab the reins and drive this baby to the end! Thanks for the support along the way!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dan's Heart

Every morning begins in relatively the same way: Get up, turn on TV so I can listen to the news in the shower, after the shower I take care of the boys. (Well, first I have to pull the pillows away from the faces they've burrowed under them and wake the sleeping princes.) Then I continue watching/listening to the news as I get ready.

Yesterday morning I awoke to a story about a walk this Sunday that is taking place close to my home, at Centennial Park in Ellicott City. It's the 2010 Howard County Heart Walk. ANY run/walk/fundraiser that benefits our lives and the lives of ones we love is amazing. However, that's not where my mind was while listening to this story on the news. I wondered if Dan and I had gone to this walk last year, would he have gotten a "free heart screening?" Would we have been able to find out that his heart was impaired and needed fixing? Would he have listened?

My husband dies of a cardiac arrhythmia, at 30 years old, that was never detected and never reared any of its ugly signs in all of those 30 years, not even through intense physical training/work of the Marine Corps. Can you tell that I am still terribly stuck on the WHY??? I'm not looking for anyone to really answer that question for me, because I know they can't. I won't find out the why until I meet The Maker and he Makes it all Make sense. Even though I am not actively seeking the answer to why, I still scream it out loud and cry it to sleep.

This morning I woke to another story on The Today Show. A young married couple is being interviewed. The 28 year old wife suffered a heart attack in their home. The husband performed CPR until the paramedics arrived. She did not have a pulse and was not breathing on her own for 72 minutes. After 72 minutes, she stabilized. Her road to recovery has been long, but today, her and her husband are walking to promote Heart Awareness.

I know it is coincidence that I turned the television on to these two stories. I know that "happy heart health" and the "happily ever after" of the couple this morning was not specifically created to plunge a dagger within my own heart. I KNOW THIS, so WHY do I perseverate on the WHY?

I do it, because I miss my husband. I miss my best friend. I miss my lover. I miss my partner. And as terrible as it sounds, I am jealous of those people who still have theirs. It is awful to admit this, and I considered not even publishing it, but it's true. Anyone who knows me, knows I ONLY wish happiness for everyone and their spouces. Not just happiness, but a long prosperous life together too. I can wish and want all of those things and still be envious that I am not included in that category anymore.

I'm going out for a run now. I might not be running to raise money or awareness or to support, I'm just not there yet, but I am going to run for Dan, as I always do. Run for our love, run for his legacy, run for his every sense of the word.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tonight's Thoughts Made Public

Tonight I am laying down thinking about the last time I saw Dan's body, still, and cold. He was wearing the black button down shirt and gray pants I bought him. I bought the outfit for him to wear New Year's Eve, he wore it 6 days later. I kept looking at his face thinking at any moment he was going to open his eyes, part his lips, blink and yawn. I held his hands, they were the only thing that still resembled my Dan.

It's nights like tonight, when I close my eyes to pray, I find it hard to thank the Lord for my blessings. Don't get me wrong, I know I have been blessed in many ways and in many facets of my life. That being said, I also have moments, like now, when I feel punished. I find myself asking God, begging rather, not to take anything else from me. It's not, "Thank you for this and thank you for that or please help someone else and lift so and so up". It should be, but it's not. God was the only thing I clung to weeks and months after Dan's death. Then, all of sudden, I can't pray unselfishly anymore. I find myself asking:
"Lord- Please let Marlo and Gunner live forever. I know Gunner ate 2 pair of underwear today, don't let it hurt him. I know Marlo ate the entire cantaloupe, let him pass it. Keep my sister, Buggy, Ry, and folks safe and happy. Please don't take any of my friends or family. I can't go any lower than this, Father, I wouldn't be able to go on."

I have these thoughts that Dan was taken from me to bring me down a notch, to teach me something. I start to panic when I think what might happen if I haven't learned the lesson I am supposed to learn yet. I refuse to live in fear. I hate thoughts like this. I need this to pass.

I need to believe that my God knows the sadness of this place, that he is holding me and understands my anger. He forgives me of my faults, instead of punishing me for them.

For those of you out there who bend The Almighty's ear, think of me. I am again, being selfish in my request, however, when I get back to a praying place, I promise to return the favor.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

House of Cards, No More

Today I made a realization. I should probably rewind and start from the beginning:

I woke up today and completed my routine just as I have for the past 8 months. Take care of the boys myself, take care of the house myself, take care of myself...well that one's debatable. After my run, I mowed the yard and did laundry. This was all accomplished with no tears, it was accomplished on auto-pilot. Here is my lightning bolt (I would say Ah-Ha moment, but Oprah uses it so much, it's ruined for me.) I have been rebuilding my life one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time for eight months. However, I am rebuilding without substance. I felt like I've been rebuilding pretty well, and at times, I've even stepped outside my world and said, "wow, good job, this new place is okay." But, this "new" place is a house of cards. A blink, a sneeze, a tear, a breath, will send it crumbling again.

It takes a tactical master to place each card just so. The constructor is focused on placing that one card, however, in the back of his mind he is worried about all the other cards. One false move could start a terrible chain reaction. I have been this "constructor" worried about how my activity might affect someone else, or, how my activity might affect someone else's view of me, worst of all, how it might affect my view of myself.

I've heard recently; "You look amazing, didn't take you long to bounce back", "You just healed up so nice" or, my personal favorite, "Doesn't look like your living in the past, anymore, good for you." I hear things like this and I start to think, "Am I not grieving properly? Should I be wearing black every day? I guess I shouldn't go out with my friends, at least not in public!"

HOLD UP! This is my life, and I am still alive. No, I am definitely NOT ALL HEALED UP. Now that you've brought it up, I am actually happier when I am thinking of the past, I wish I could live there. And, if "bouncing back" means I have stopped having thoughts of suicide, then yes, I guess I have "bounced back".....Idiot.

I have been so concerned with how people are perceiving me (or my grieving, rather) that building a house of cards was the only option. Other people are less than half the problem, though, I am my own worst enemy at times. I immerse myself in the routine. I put on the smile. There is not ONE second that passes that I don't curse my loss and at times my life. My sadness is always there, so when I am around people I like to fill the other places of my soul with their joy and their love for life. One day, I will be able to wake up and feel truly happy, I have faith in that. Because of that faith, and because I have grown weary of "going through motions", I huffed and I puffed and I blew that frangible house down tonight.
I enjoyed a beautiful day with wonderful people, but I came home and cried my eyes out. It was a wonderful and much needed release. Tonight I broke ground and placed my first brick. I am going to build this house and it's not going to be delicate, like the other one. I will slap a brick on here and there, and I am sure some days I will tear one down. But, one thing is for sure, when this new place is finished, it will be the strongest, tallest, sturdiest, and safest place to be.

I will be proud of it, because I built it for myself, by myself.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Without Fail

We all have times when we really need or want something, but because of our luck, or lack there of, we find ourselves staring the opposite of whatever we need or want in the face. Most of the time our "without fail" moments are things we can take with a grain of salt, and move on from quickly. Here are a few of mine.

Without Fail:
  • I am in an extreme hurry and am in the exact position at the light where I get to sit through it twice.
  • I pull by the only pump available at the gas station, and the credit machine is broken. I go inside and hear, "We very very sorry, ATM not working to today."
  • I give someone the tampon out of my purse and the next day Aunt Flo comes. I haven't replaced it yet.
  • I stand and am teaching all day, being animated, exciting, and effective, and the moment I sit down for a minute, the principal wonders in. I swear they should wear bells!
  • I choose to shop in the only store around without a bathroom after I just ate cream sauce. You don't want me to elaborate.
  • I drank my first beer and am headed to the bar when I slip of my cute wedge. I have now been labeled the girl who should be cut off and the nights only just begun.
  • Someone that is close talking me has a booger or horrifically bad halitosis.
  • I am running through the trails and drop trow to pee. I squat over the only poison ivy bush in the forest.
  • I send a semi-insulting text message about someone TO the person it was about. That is Karma slapping me in my smug face! (Sidebar: This happened on more than one occasion with Dan. We would be arguing and I would be texting Allyson or Jaime about what a jerk he was being. A few seconds later, I would hear Dan call up from downstairs, "I love you too, jackass." Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! And yes, that did happen on more than one occasion. I don't learn lessons very well.)
  • Marlo or Gunner decide to dump-out only when the streets are teaming with people or cars. I have since started taking them out after dark!
  • I am in a meeting and my stomach makes a fart noise.
  • I introduce people and use the wrong name.
  • I tell an inappropriate joke to the wrong audience.
  • The coupon, promotional code, discount credit, or other VIP, MVP card is EXPIRED!!!

There are also without fail moments, more recently, that I never take for granted. I look forward to these moments, because they are signs from above. They are not moments that I move on from quickly, some because I want to linger in the moment, and some because of the pain. Either way, I cherish them.

Without Fail:

  • When I go to a restaurant or bar, Dan's favorite songs come on right when I need to know he's with me.
  • When I am driving, songs that we considered "our" songs come on to keep me company through the drive.
  • When I am toiling in the yard, the blue jay watches me and lets me get so close. He wasn't scared off the day I broke down in the yard.
  • When I visit his grave site, I am the only person there. It's just the two of us again.
  • When I smell lemon or lime I am flooded with memories of our wedding day.

However, my favorite without fail moments have come on my runs ever since the passing of Dan.

Without fail, when I run, I get goosebumps whether it's 75 degrees or 110. I know he runs with me every time. Those goosebumps encourage me to finish this race called life. Finish it for my Dan.

And I will.....without fail.