It had only been 2 months since Tin Man had died, and only 10 days after getting the autopsy report.
I can't believe what the difference 1 year makes. Last year I never thought I would laugh again. I never thought I'd be able to wake up without crying.
I still don't feel normal, and I probably never will. I've changed.
I wanted to come back to this a year later to see how different things are now. The bold black are my answers from last year. The blue are current answers.
IT’s been a year; you should be over it. What exactly is “IT?” I’ll tell you what “IT’ is.
- IT is five days after the funeral, Thanksgiving Day, trying to find something to be thankful for. This year Warrior's birthday is on Thanksgiving. November will be 7 months. We now have to find new plans for our Thanksgiving this year. --- Thanksgiving wasn't as hard as I thought. we spent it with some great friends, but Tin Man was missed very much.
- IT is Christmas without the merry, and New Year’s without the happy. Those traditions that Tin Man and I started. Tin Man was like a little kid at Christmas. Not having him there when the kids open their presents. Having to play Santa all by myself. --- We spent Christmas with the in laws. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Since Thanksgiving wasn't that hard I thought Christmas would be the same way. Boy was I wrong. New Years we spent camping out for the Rose Parade. We dedicated a rose on the Donate Life float to Tin Man, and the kids wanted to watch the parade in person. I was ok until the float went by, then I spent the rest of the parade crying my eyes out.
- IT is your first day back to work when every minute you are afraid you will burst into tears. - I've decided that I'm going to hold off until after school starts in August. I was in absolutely no shape to try to start a job. I could barely get out of bed and get dressed, there was no way I was going to be able to learn how to do a new job. --- I haven't been able to find a job, but I did decide to go back to school this fall. I finally decided on radiology.
- IT is his birthday, but there is no him. Tin Man's birthday was May 23rd. A month and 13 days after he passed away. A day that was supposed to be a celebration that he made it to a year older, instead we sent him a birthday card via Angel Mail. --- I think this year was harder than last year. Last year I was still feeling numb. This year I didn't have the numbness to protect me from all the emotions that came flooding to the surface.
- IT is Valentine’s Day, only this time the roses are from your children. - Our Valentine's Day tradition was a letter to each other. These letters included 1 memory from when we were dating. 1 memory from the first year we were married. 5 memories from all the years we were married, and 5 things we want in our future together. I have each and every letter he gave me. All 14 of them. --- Valentine's Day was hard. Seeing everyone posting on FB about what their loved one gave them. I got 2 beautiful homemade cards, flower seeds, and Warrior made me dinner. As much as I loved all the thought and effort the kids put into it, I was still so upset that day and couldn't enjoy much.
- IT is your birthday, and there is still no him. - July 14. No birthday card from him. No birthday lunch, no waking me up at midnight to give me a birthday kiss. --- I was in South Carolina for my birthday. Nothing out there was Tin Man, so I was able to enjoy time with my family. This year I'm afraid is going to be much harder since I will be home.
- IT is April 15 and you sing “filing as surviving spouse” – surviving, yes; living, no. - To far away to even think of right now. --- This sucked big time.
- IT is springtime when everything comes alive except you, that is.- no more picking out flowers for the flower beds. No more deciding together what we want to plant in the garden. --- This year I gave the yard a makeover. I couldn't go back to what we did. It was just to hard, so I decided to redo everything. The kids helped pick out the flowers and what veggies we planted in the garden.
- IT is Easter and everyone is singing “Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad” – there is no rejoicing and no glad. - Tin Man passed away 2 days after Easter. He coded and had to have chest compressions the day before Easter. --- Easter was hard. We spent the following week down in LA with the in laws and friends. The in laws were trying to force us to go to church, but I put my foot down. The kids were in no shape to go sit in a church and listen to the sermon for that day.
- IT is Mother’s Day and you sadly remember how happy he was when each child was born. - This Mother's Day was my first without him. I missed him teasing me about how Father's Day should be before Mother's Day. How Mother's Day was all by itself and Father's Day was combined with graduations. You know, Dad's and Grads. --- This year the numbness was gone and I had to get up and be the mom. Mother's day used to be the one day of the year that I got to sleep late, be waited on, and do nothing all day. Not this year or ever again.
- IT is Father’s Day and your kids spend it with you and there is an empty chair in the room. - Tomorrow. Tomorrow my kids will send their dad his Father's Day card by Angel Mail. No hugs. No kisses. No "Its Father's Day, its my day to relax" excuses. --- Kids have their cards picked out, just need to get balloons. Sending them by Angel mail makes the kids feel better, but makes me sad. Sad because there are no hugs.
- IT is the 4th of July and the job of raising the flag has been passed on to your sons. - No more running all over town so he could find his favorite fireworks. No more excitement about taking the kids to the parade. No more sitting on the porch with him watching the neighborhood firework show. --- We spend the 4th of July in Oregon last year. Bundled up in coats and scarves to watch the fireworks. That's just not natural! I missed running around trying to find fireworks. I missed him being there pointing out his favorite ones. I missed him.
- IT is vacation time and you and your kids go without him - Its not fair! He should be with us. It should be us taking the train across country to visit different places. Not the kids and I headed to my mom's house trying to run away from the memories for a couple of weeks. --- We can go on vacation now. Before we couldn't. We were tethered to the hospital. Being able to get away, even for a couple of days, makes me feel sad and guilty. I know I shouldn't, and I know he wouldn't want me to, but we can do all these things now because he's not here. Its a huge slap in the face.
- IT is Halloween and you pass out the candy, but the silly dad in the mask is absent. - Tin
Man prepared for Halloween months in advanced. He'd put so much time
and effort into the perfect halloween costume. This year I will be
taking the kids trick or treating alone.
--- We went trick or treating with friends. Went to a neighborhood we never went to before, and just stayed away from our normal Halloween traditions. It was a lot easier than I thought. Just an emptiness feeling.
- IT is looking at the moon and wondering if he sees the same moon like the two of you always did when apart in the past. - Talking to the moon hoping that he can still hear me, but wishing he was with me. --- Now its talking to the clouds. The big fluffy white clouds, or Heaven clouds as Sugar Pea calls them.
- IT is receiving that first wedding invitation that is addressed to you and your “guest.” - The wedding invitations started coming not long after Tin Man passed away. My brother is getting married July 3rd. I'm excited for him, but I'm scared that I'm going to break down in the middle of it. --- The only wedding I went to was my brothers. I was so happy for him, and I did great until the slide show at the reception, and that's when I lost it and ended up running from the room. This year I have several weddings to go to. They won't be easy.
- IT is going back into “that” church for the first time and remembering, but not remembering and feeling that all eyes are upon you. - It will be a long time before I can step foot into that church. Thankfully its 400 miles away. --- Christmas. We were only there for about 10 minutes and the kids broke down and were sobbing so hard that we left.
- IT is going to another funeral for the first time and feeling yourself shaking all over, too distraught to stay, but unable to leave. - I'm praying I don't have to go to another one for a very long time. I'm not sure I can bring myself to go to one right now. --- I have lost a couple of friends this last year, but the funerals were all back east, so I wasn't able to go. I'm still dreading that first one I attend.
- IT is doing all the things you always did, plus all the things he always did, and doing it when all your energy has been used for grieving.- Most days I'm impressed I'm up, showered, and dressed. Not to mention having to do my normal stay at home mom daily chores, but I've had to take on all his too. --- I have more good days than bad now. Most days I can get up and go about my day no problem. I still have days that all I want to do is hide in my bed, but they are becoming far and few. But just because I'm able to go about my day doesn't mean I'm not falling apart on the inside.
- IT is being strong when you really feel weak. - more like tired of being strong. I want to fall apart and have him wrap his arms around me and tell me its OK. I need him more than anything right now, and I'm such a wreck because he's no longer here. --- I'm tired of being strong. I'm tried of everyone telling me to be strong. I would love for someone to tell me its ok to fall apart and hug me while I cry.
- IT is putting on a pasted smile when you are crying inside and saying you are okay when you really aren’t. - People are constantly telling me I look good. Not sure what they expect me to look like. I get up, showered, dressed, and do my make up in hopes that it will make me feel better. It doesn't. I look good on the outside, but I'm falling apart on the inside. --- I still get the, well you look great, comments. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm supposed to look like.
- IT is dealing with titles and abstracts and bills and attorneys and doing it very well when all you really want to do is hibernate. - There should be a grieving period. Everyone/everything should be able to wait for 3 months. Unfortunately it doesn't. Having to tell people that Tin Man passed away. Have to send off copies of the death certificate to prove it. Having to take his name off everything. --- I am still fighting with a few companies to get his name taken off the accounts. Like my power bill. I figure as long as it gets paid, doesn't matter the idiots want to talk to him to get permission to take his name off.
- IT is a whole big bunch of stuff you didn’t ask for, didn’t want and can’t even give away. - I didn't want this attention. I didn't want this hurt. All I wanted was the transplant to make my husband healthy so he could be a normal husband and father again. --- Thankfully most of the attention has died down. I just wish people would understand that we are still grieving and not expect us to be over it and moved on.
- IT is going to the cemetery and seeing the monument with his name, and it hits you in the face that this is real. - Yesterday I finished paying off his headstone. Having to decide what picture to use for it. What I wanted it to say. What I wanted it to look like, what font to use. I'm 32. I shouldn't have to figure this out yet! --- We go out to the cemetery every time we are down there. We buy flowers on our way out. We stay for about 10 minutes and leave. I always see people out there with chairs and picnics set up, but I can't bring myself to do that. I will always visit him when I'm down there just like I still go visit my dad when I'm in Illinois.
- IT is feeling like a traitor when you get rid of his personal belongings. - I can't even bring myself to go through his things let alone get rid of anything. --- the kids and I have started going through his tshirts. They are picking out what shirts they want and a friend is going to make a quilt for each of them out of the shirts. I'm having a hard time with this, but I know the kids will love them.
- IT is seeing couples hand in hand and tearfully glancing at the gold band he put on your finger years ago and somehow not being able to take it off. - I'm having a very hard time dealing with couples right now. I have a couple of friends that are in new relationships and all lovey dovey and rather gross. I can't stand to see it, let alone see all the pictures of it all over Facebook. I am happy for them, but its like a punch in the gut too.--- The problems I have now is I am learning just how insecure a lot of my friends are with their relationships. They act like I'm out to steal their husbands/boyfriends. I'm not sure many know they are doing it, but it hurts either way.
- IT is approaching the first anniversary of his death and reliving it all – oh, yes, you are better, but the void is no less. - Its only been 2 months, I can't imagine it being a whole year since he's been gone. --- 1 year was in April. The day before and the day after I had to be at the hospital. The cardiology clinic at the children's hospital. Talking with a couple of Tin Man's doctors. This was not the way I wanted to spend that week. I had been to the hospital several times before then, but it was that week that made it so much harder. But seeing that his doctors are still so torn up about his death gave me some comfort.
- IT is people forgetting and you cry, and it is people remembering and you cry. - Right now I cry at anything and everything. Half the time I'm not sure what set me off, but something does and I cry and cry and cry. Its even worse when you're in public when it hits.--- With his 20th high school reunion this year, a lot of his old classmates came out of the woodwork and found him on FB. Having to tell each of them that he passed away has been hard.
- IT is a future of unknowns and uncertainties and emptiness. - I have a huge empty hole in my chest. I'm 32. I'm a widow, and the only parent my kids have left. --- There are still a lot of unknowns, but a lot of plans have been made. There is still a lot of emptiness, but I'm not sure that will ever fully go away.
- IT is your wedding anniversary, and for the first time you really understand the words, “till death do us part.” - January 24, 1998. That's the day that I married my best friend. I still feel like we're married and part of me always will. The paper work from the Social Security Office says "marriage ended by death." Those are horrible words.--- The first anniversary without him was hard. Family and friends called to see how I was doing. I wasn't doing well. I spent most of the day curled up in my bed. When the kids got home from school they came in and laid with me. We talked, watched TV, and just had quiet time. The next day we went back to normal, but I think we all needed that time together.
So maybe when someone tells you that you should be over it by now, you should just tell them what “IT” really is!
No one will truly get what IT is until they have been through it themselves. And this isn't something I would wish on my worst enemy.