Monday, November 29, 2010


I just got off the phone with my sister. I don't have to explain to her every detail of a "Blah" day, because she knows what that means. She most likely knows that it's a "blah" day even before I do because our spirits are so kindred. Either way, today was just, "Blah." Nothing could have made my heart smile to it's full capacity, there weren't even tears on the cusp, there was no road rage (even when I was cut off at the "Death Circle"....those of you that live in Odenton know exactly the circle I'm talking about too, the one by Lucky's) anyway, today I was just indifferent about everything.

Sparing you every small detail, I will retell some of my steps forward, and then back, a dance if you will, over the Thanksgiving break.

Wednesday: I took off my wedding rings. I cried, cried, and cried again as I put them in my engagement ring box, and established them a place in my room.

Thursday: I went to Ryan's Father's house in a land Far, Far, Away. Seriously, you drive to the end of the Earth, and then make a left. It was lovely, it was different, and I was really OK. Besides not feeling well, It wasn't like "normal" Thanksgiving, so there was no added sadness to the sadness that lays upon my heart daily to begin with. It was a turkey dinner with wonderful people and hopefully a "new" tradition for me.

Friday: Sick and then sicker. This equals quality couch time and maybe a little feeling sorry for myself.

Saturday: Feeling better, spent a good portion of the day writing/reading and then continuing that pattern at the cemetery. Came home and had the AWESOME (insert sarcasm) idea to charge Dan's iPod. Last year on Black Friday we went to Best Buy at 4:00 am. We spent entirely too much money on electronics including two new iPods. On the morning that happened to be Dan's fateful day, we laid in bed watching Sports Center. We laughed, teased, loved, and snuggled. When he decided to go to the gym, he went up to the loft and grabbed his iPod. It didn't have any music on it yet, but he was messing around with it and figured out that it could take video. What was there to video but sleepy me in the bed and our boys. Fast forward to Saturday night: When the iPod was fully charged, and I had consumed too much Bud Light, I decided to watch the videos he had recorded. NOT SMART. I cried, screamed, snotted, upset the boys, and I'm sure anyone else within a 100 mile radius too!

Sunday: Always feel better after a good cry. It was sunny and I liked the warmth. Gingerbread coffee, kisses and amazing hugs from my Lilly Bug, my sister feeding us delicious fatty snacks while watching football, a Raven's win, and in bed by 8 pm made for a pretty good day.

Today, Monday: BLAH.

1. Couldn't leave for work without putting my wedding rings back on.

2. "Want To" comes on the radio on the way to work.

3. "Want To" comes on the radio on the way home from work.

4. Why am I giving myself a timeline? Why do I second guess my every emotion and everything I do? Why do I continue to judge myself harder than anyone else ever would?

5. Stop with the questions, your heart is palpitating. Just freakin' live your life, would you?


Tomorrow is the last day of November which will signify the last day of the 11 month without my Dan. There are SO many things that I have done/accomplished that I NEVER thought I would eleven months ago. Some things I am extremely proud of, some things I am not.

Team Shriz leaves on Friday to run the Rock N' Roll Vegas Half Marathon. We are minus a few Team members, (Jaime, Ryan, Michelle, and Greg) but I know they will be our Maryland cheering section, just as I know my angel runner will guide us on every pound of the foot in Nevada.

Tonight, I am going to finish reading a book I started this weekend called, "90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper. This book offers comforting words about those who go before us. I so hope that Dan is enjoying some of the wonderful things witnessed by this man. I also hope that it is true, when you go to Heaven, you don't think regretfully upon the things you left in your mortal life. I don't regret any time that Dan and I had the pleasure of spending together.

I would like to stop feeling so confused and regretful at times, in my new life as well.

~And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for. ~ 1 John 5:14-15

Lord, Please hear my prayer. Please.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Boys

Only other dog lovers can understand how I feel about my kids, Gunner and Marlo. They have the ability to shine light on even the darkest days.

In 2004 Dan and I went on vacation. We were going to be very early for our flight so we decided to follow the pet adoption signs to a Pet Smart in Georgia. We were in Georgia, so there was NO WAY we were going to adopt a dog, right? We walked up to front of the building and bounding over (all ten pounds of him) was a black and white wild eyed puppy dragging a 270 pound woman in his wake. She kept calling, "Whoa Nathan, slow down, Nathan!" I think Dan and I decided immediately to adopt him, just to save him from his name! You can't name a pit-bull from the dirty south, Nathan!

We did adopt him and immediately named him Gunner, after Dan's work in the Marine Corp. We bought a cat-carrying case and placed Gunner inside. He came on the plane with us, staying under my seat. He slept the entire way home from Georgia to Maryland, however, his intestines were WIDE awake. That puppy passed gas every 2 minutes the whole 2 hour trip home. I swear I thought the pilot was going to drop the oxygen masks at the requests of the passengers. Of course, Dan being Dan, kept pointing at me and shrugging his shoulders, knowing how embarrassed I was! I giggle every time I think of that.

Gunner grew up to be an amazing dog. He is not the pit-bull we were told he was, and even grew out of looking like one at all. He is beautiful, smart, loving, and the only reason I would want to know what kind of dog he is, is because I would like to breed a million just like him. I loved Gunner so much, I didn't want another dog at all. I was certain that I couldn't have as much love for another dog, and I didn't think that was fair. Plus, we had just bought a townhouse, and the thought of two dogs, all the hair, and everything else was not on the top of my list.

It was December 2006, and Dan and I were laying in bed on a Saturday morning. He rolled over and started hugging me and smiling that "I'm being super nice right now, because I want something smile." I remember laughing and just waiting for his sales pitch. Here it was, "So you know how you were going to go Christmas shopping for me today?" My response, "ummhmmm..." "Well, there really isn't anything I want. What if we went to the SPCA?? If you let me adopt a dog, that could be my Christmas AND birthday present??!!??" I say, "Dan, we can go to the SPCA, but we are NOT adopting another dog. Let's just go look." (Of course, he knew he had me at this point. Who goes to the SPCA or Humane Society and 'Just looks'?) His smile was so big and so bright, that even though I didn't tell him, I had already changed my mind as I was getting ready. If he wanted it, he would have it.

We ended up at the Howard County Humane Society. We put the windows down in the red civic to let Gunner stick his nose out of the car while we looked. I had already spotted a LARGE American Bull-Dog, all white, beautiful. She looked older, but there was something about her face that made me walk toward her. In a pin next to her, there were balls of fluffy puppies. The mother was distraught because people were all around her liter, and she was not able to protect them. My heart broke for her, but her sweet puppies called to us as well. A plump puppy with the sweetest dot on his head bounded over and picked us right away. I picked him up and am pretty sure I never let him down again, until we were home.

It should have been foreshadowing for us that for Gunner we basically had to give blood samples and ten forms of Identification to adopt him, but with Marlo, they swiped the credit card for the adoption fee, and couldn't get us out of the door fast enough. Gunner couldn't care a thing for our new family addition, until Marlo nosed by his food. After a few times of showing Marlo who was the boss of the family, they became fast friends. It also helped Marlo, that he soon outweighed his older brother by 30 pounds or so!
Gunner is smart and fast. He is a trail-runner and herds anyone and anything to wherever he needs them to be. He is the protector of the house, and carefully reads every situation. When he loves, it's strong, but you have to earn it.
Marlo is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He is a big teddy bear with people, and would most likely go home with anyone that promised kisses and food...lots of food. He is a little broken and has some issues, but that just makes me love him more. If people judged me on my brokenness, I wouldn't have anyone to love me!

There wasn't a weekend morning that Dan, Marlo, Gunner and I would lay in the bed together, and I wouldn't say, "I love our family." Dan would always, respond, "Me too, Honeyah", and kiss me on my forehead or the corner of my eye." I remember those moments as some of the best of my life.

On December 31st of last year, when the officer called me asking about my husband, I had just gotten out of the shower. I put on clothes, shoes and no socks, and ran out of the house with wet hair. My first sprint was to Heidi and Billy's. Marlo and Gunner watched me from the bay window banging on their door, screaming their names. Marlo started howl. It was a howl I had never heard before. It was the exact sound my heart was making. Gunner was barking too, but Marlo's howl was ominous.

That was the first time the boys have ever acted like that when I have left the house, but it hasn't been the last. When I leave the house now, to go for a run, Marlo howls that same howl and Gunner backs it up with a bark. It is so loud that the other morning around 5:30, I went for a run and it woke Heidi, worrying her. It makes my heart ache. I wonder if they fear that I might not come back, or if I do come back, I will be as shattered as I was when returning from the hospital on New Year's Eve.

When Team-Tiffin stopped spending every night with me, and I tried to get back to some sort of normalcy, there were days that my boys were the only things that got me out of bed. I love them so much, for everything they are, and for loving me unconditionally. As I watch them sleeping on the couch right now, my heart fills with joy.

As Thanksgiving fast approaches, the whole "Holiday without Dan sadness" is definitely looming over me, however, I still have so many things to be thankful for. That is why today, I decided to share how thankful I am for my two big, hairy, sometimes stinky, terribly sneaky, but 100% perfect to me, boys.

Friday, November 12, 2010


My chest hurts. It feels like someone has laid bricks on it. I pause every time that it's hard to catch my breath. I think about Dan. I wonder, "Is this how he felt the minutes before his soul left his body?" I place my hand to my chest, feel my rapid heart beat, try and relieve the pressure, it just gets worse.

The tears come, because I am mad at myself. I am angry with myself for wishing it were a heart attack that I am having. I miss Dan every day, but these past few days I've missed him so much that it's hard to think about anything else. I constantly think of the past. I think of the future we never got to share. I also think of our happy reunion in the after life. "Memories of Us" by Keith Urban was playing on my way home tonight. He says, "I want to make you this promise, If there's life after this, I'm gonna be there to meet you with a warm wet kiss, yes I am." Really WPOC? You want a tragically sad widow who's doing 80 on the beltway to be crying too?? Not safe, my friends, not safe. I don't like thinking that Dan is up there just waiting for me. If I know him, though, I'm sure he's entertaining everyone and flashing that beautiful smile. I wish I could be there to laugh with the angels. I know I will one day when the good Lord wants me, but I could really use an angel myself right now.

Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Missing my Dan have consumed me. I can't remember what I'm saying when I talk. I can't fake a smile. I only want to be alone. Yes, I am lonelier than any human you've ever known, but, I am only lonely for my husband, my best and most treasured friend.

I believe I've mentioned before, that the days after Dan passed, I HATED the sun. Every morning that it rose I would curse the day and any light it brought with it. Darkness was what covered my heart, and how dare the sun shine like it was just another day? I feel like that now. I drove to work this morning and the sun hit my face. As I progressed in my healing, I would cherish these moments and take a minute to be grateful for my blessings when I felt the warmth. Today, I got angry. I hit the steering wheel and cursed everyone who drove by me with wedding rings on. Why do you get to go home to your wife today, or your husband, and I have to continue down this road alone? WHY????

Why have I regressed to this place of despair? This feeling that I am completely empty inside? I knew that the holidays would be hard, and the cool weather. But, sprinkle in some other elements and I'm just not Tiffin anymore. I'm not the strong widow who has made leaps and bounds in her new life. I am a girl, just a girl who wants to find a cave and stay there until I don't have to fake smiles, I don't have to wear a coat, I don't have to see the sun, and until my chest stops hurting.

You wouldn't think after rereading this post, that I've made any progress in my healing what-so-ever. I guess this is one of those "dips" on the roller coaster ride.

I'm going to sleep on the couch tonight with my boys and their "slumber party" guest, Joie (A beautiful puggle who has a crush on Gunner). I will watch the sun come up tomorrow and hope that I don't get angry because of it. I will think about one of my favorite writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and his encouraging words; "What a new face courage puts on everything." I pray that I have this new face tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


If I were an evil person, I would wish harm on those that cause me pain.

If I had a black heart, I would make public dark, dark secrets that would burn to the core.

If my tongue were forked, and horns crowned my head, I would retaliate evil with evil.

If I were corrupt, my most devious resourses would be deployed.

If my soul were full of hate, venomous slander would accompany my every move.

If I were malicious, revenge would consume my days and keep my eyes from closing at night.

If I were spiteful, no respect would be shown to those who did not respect me.

If life were perfect, evilness would not exist. Death would not have seperated me from my husband, and we would all be living our fairy tales. The world is far from perfect, and fairy tales do not exist. However, I do believe in Heaven and the perfection of the promised land. I believe in grace and forgiveness, even though I have to work at both of them. I also believe:

If I hadn't known such deep love, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

If I didn't have such an amazing support system, I might not be so far along on my journey of hope and healing.

If you receive jewels in your crown when you reach the Promise Land, my family and friends' crowns will be too heavy to wear.

If there is only one set of footprints in the sand right now, it is because I am being carried.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Countdown to Nothing

Sundays have been particularly hard for me since football season is underway again. Sundays were our days to sleep in, eat terrible food, drink beer, love and laugh with one another all day long. It isn't a conscious move for me to cry on Sundays or let the pain sink in, it just happens. This past Sunday was Halloween, it also happened to be 10 months since my husband has been gone.

Yesterday, I was writing the date on the board of my classroom and I got a shooting pain like I had been stabbed in the back. The countdown begins, 2 months until Dan's "Angel Date."

What exactly am I going to accomplish by dreading this date for the next two months? On December 31st, there will be no reunion of our souls, no happy hugs, there will just be me....and the fact that one year ago my husband left this Earth.

The chill of this morning solidifies the reality that winter is fast approaching. Little varmints are choosing their places to hibernate and as I write, Marlo is prowling the perimeter trying to chase them away (or eat them).

I wonder if this winter will be as bad as the last? On Dan's birthday last year, the storm was so bad that the weather channel called it, "Thunder Snow". I had never heard that phrase before, and I thought, "Only on Dan's birthday would Maryland have Thunder Snow." I remember hanging out with my neighborhood family and laughing about the name. Inside I was thinking that it would be appropriate to call how my heart felt, a thunder storm, raging and wild, aching and pained.

My heart doesn't feel like that every day anymore. I am getting through this.

This past weekend, Billy and I ran the Seaside 10 miler in Ocean City. I decided to run without my music on this crisp Saturday morning. The breeze from the Atlantic was cold and the smell of salt was prominent in the air. As I listened to the waves crashing I talked to my angel-runner, I know he listened. When the race was over, to the beer truck I went. When the first few bars of "Don't Stop Believing" started to play from the DJ booth, I had to smile. I should have known he would be waiting there to congratulate me, right by the beer truck.

The next morning I walked with a good friend on the beach. Besides the fact that a seagull tried to steal our breakfast out of the bag, it couldn't have been a more beautiful walk. At the end of our walk, we looked back at the marks we had made in the sand. It reminded me that nothing in life lasts as long as we hope. As fast as our feet were making the impressions, the wind was coming to erase them.

Life is full of beautiful moments that you have to carry with you in your heart. Like footprints in the sand, moments fly by. Cherish each moment that you have and store those mental pictures in your mind's file. On a day of "Thunder Snow" you might need to pull out that warm walk on the beach.

I hate that I am "counting down" the days until the end of the year. I hate that the last day of the year will always be the day that my best friend left our marriage, our life, our world. I don't, anymore though, hate that I am still here. Even though there is dread, there is also the hope of more life and more love to come.