you can't take it with you...

but you can make sure you leave it to your loved ones so they don’t drown in debt after you die. This is a post that I have probably started three times before but could never get the words out right. How much is too much personal information and is what I am saying actually coherent? So I am giving number four a try and we will just keep our fingers crossed that it makes a little bit of sense. I want to be clear that I am zero percent (probably even less than that) a money guru, so take what you will from my own experiences.

Tim and I had a lot of debt and we had very little savings. Chalk it up to being young, irresponsible, greedy, needy etc. We always lived beyond our means and used that next paycheck mentality to make ourselves feel better about our spending. That next paycheck imaginary bank account was working out fine until there wasn’t a next paycheck. Tim and I were always just patching holes with gum on our sinking financial ship and it worked for us at the time, but when Tim died, he took the whole ship down with him.

I feel two ways about how we handled our money. One is that I am glad that we did what we did and that we got what we wanted because you CAN’T take it with you and the memories I have today of those trips that we couldn’t afford and those concerts we should have skipped are the only things I have left of Tim. I wish that we could have done more and seen more. I wish that we had thrown the little bit of caution we had to the wind and done whatever we wanted even more because what good did trying to save for a rainy day do for Tim?

The second way I feel about this is fuck, we are really fucked. Tim died and none of our bills went away. None of our debt was forgiven. I was paying two peoples bills with one persons income and that didn’t seem to matter to anyone. I repeat…it does not matter to anyone but you. Your creditors don’t care, your bank doesn’t care, the government doesn’t care. They all want their money and they want it on time. The day that Tim died, our rent was due and I didn’t have enough money in our account to pay it. When you die, they put a hold on your last paycheck so that they can tidy things up on their payroll end. They don’t care that rent is due and rent collectors don’t care that your husband is dead. The bank that we borrowed money from to buy our car surprisingly didn’t allow me to just pay half of the payment since now I was only half of a couple. Our personal loan didn’t let me reduce the payments because I was down to only one income and you know who really didn’t care that I was bleeding out money left and right….those damn student loan companies. It felt like everyone just wanted to take everything that I had left. I couldn’t catch my breath let alone a break. I had just lost everything and I didn’t have anything left to give. It was difficult to juggle everything. My life was in this fast downward spiral and no one was throwing me a lifeline, they were all just pushing me under. Maybe some paid timed off from work would have helped you say? Some time to get my life in order, to grieve for Tim but not have to worry about collecting a paycheck. Do you want to know how many paid “bereavement” days I got for my husband dying? Five. Five days. Tim died in Florida but was buried in New Jersey. Five days was barely enough time to get his body flown home, have a service and bury him. And if you are thinking that you may get some assistance from the government…think again. When I reported Tim’s death to Social Security, I received a ONE TIME death benefit of $255.00 dollars. How can they even label that as a benefit? I didn’t receive anything from the military for Tim’s years in the Army and Tim had no independent life insurance. But you know what i did get? An outstanding parking ticket in the mail from Dade County made out to Tim that I was still responsible for because it was in our car, awesome, see ya later death benefit money.

Death is expensive. Living after losing your person is so painful and the stress of not being in a stable financial situation is enough to drive people right over the edge. This post isn’t just to air mine and Tim’s black hole finances but to give you all a glimpse into a lot of young widows/widowers reality. You are going to die and I hope that it’s later rather than sooner, but no matter the time you are going to leave people behind that have to live through it. I hope this made some sense and even if it is not your exact reality, I hope it shed some light on how being prepared now, even if its just in a small way can do so much for your loved ones one day. I also hope that you all take away that you need to look out for number one because you may find yourself standing alone in your world one day and no one will be holding their hand out to you.


a threenager...

a three year old who thinks they are grown and can make adult decisions on their own. have a major attitude problem, are needy but don’t want too much attention and can flip their emotions on you like a switch. that’s me right now at this stage in my grief. I am a bratty, know it all but super needy threenager. I have lived approximately 1,095 days without Tim and sometimes that makes me feel like a super adult when it comes to managing my grief but it can so easily flip without warning and I become a loose emotional cannon on a warpath.

I am not sure where I thought I would be three years from March 2nd 2016. It was way too hard to think that far in advance. If we are being really honest with each other, I am not sure I thought I would even make it this far. My brain was in daily survival mode, not long term planning. At this point in my life I am surprised how small that number feels to me. That number, although large, is so insignificant when it comes to loss . It has put no distance between him and I. He remains so vivid and large in my life. His name flows from my mouth easily, his laugh still echos around inside my head as if he were just in the other room and I often catch glimpses of him in the faces of strangers I pass on the street. He is not a deep faded scar on my skin but rather a story woven into my bones.

This isn’t meant to make you think that I only have great days with butterfly memories of Tim because that is really far from the truth. I feel so sad so often when I think of Tim. I miss him more than I have ever thought someone could possibly miss another human being. I miss Tim so much that it’s not even just a feeling anymore, it’s become part of my senses. Sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch and missing Tim. But what is different at three years is that I feel more ok with being not ok at times. Some days I feel like I should be further along than I am. I feel a bit stuck in time, but I know that I’m not. That it is just a marker of time, but not the end of it. Sometimes I feel like I am not being a good enough widow. On the days where the cold hand of sadness doesn’t reach for me, I think damn am I doing this right? Tim is still gone but I didn’t feel sad today. Those feelings used to make me feel like something might be wrong with me, like my sad wasn’t the right kind of sad. But now, at the ripe age of widow three I know that I am right where I am suppose to be and that I can’t feel any other way other than how I do. I know that the shitty feelings will pass and I know that the good ones will too and that’s just how it is. I think back when I was an infant widow and the suffocating sadness I felt when I thought about Tim and our life lost together. It was overwhelming and it was scary to think that I was going to feel that way forever. I was constantly seeking reassurance from other widows that it wouldn’t always feel this big. It’s unimaginable to think that it will feel any other way when you are right in the thick of it. So any other widows/ers reading this or for anyone else whose just really going through it right now, I know that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees and I won’t tell you that it gets better or easier because it doesn’t. But it does change. It becomes different, you become different and you make some room for it in your life instead of it being your life.


An American Widow in Europe...

hi! me again. i took a hiatus from writing to you all on here as life was busy dragging me along (sometimes kicking and screaming) and i was feeling a little burnt out on what to say. but here i am same complicated gal as before just coming at you with a few more laps around the widowsphere, a few more wrinkles on my face and a couple more titles added to my list of names…oh and I also live in an entirely different country now so that’s really weird. Just some small changes going on over here in my life no big deal or anything.

I thought it might be nice to reconnect with you all. to share my experiences in life and widowhood since we last spoke. my life has taken so many turns since then. some great some not so great. some really strange and some pretty comical both in an actual funny haha way but also in a dark humor why does life continue to shit all over me kinda way.

So stay tuned (or don’t if you aren’t into people over sharing on the internet that’s ok too) I’ll be attempting to articulate to you all how I have been navigating all these changes, what I have learned…and also how I deal with the things that haven’t changed but the world around me has. talk soon.


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death in a status...

the place where we overshare our political views, selfies and food pictures.  

we didn't have internet in my house until i was halfway through my high school years and when i got a cell phone you still had to pay per every text sent and received.  facebook required you to have a college email address to join and instagram just didn't exist. i feel fortunate to have experienced those years of my life hashtag free, but what about living through a death on social media? what about being dead on social media? 

when a death occurs people seem to rush towards facebook, instagram, twitter etc. often times without thinking about the grieving family left behind or the persons life that has just ended. we rush to post first. first to break the news, first to share a picture. this need to stake a claim in the lives of those directly affected. has this new way of showing and sharing grief become the modern way of mourning loss? have we abandoned casseroles and handwritten cards for 140 character text boxes?

when tim died i turned away from social media. tims death felt too big for facebook. i felt physically wounded and the last place i wanted to share that was a platform that is littered with funny animal videos. this didn't stop people from sharing mine and tim's personal business though. people were sharing the details of tim's death when i wasn't ready to accept it in black and white. people were sharing photographs of tim's headstone when i hadn't even seen it in person (they take awhile to come in). it was heartbreaking. as much as i know that people need to express grief, it felt cruel. it felt like an invasion of our life and we hadn't invited anyone in. people started tagging him in any and all pictures attached with their RIP messages. i wasn't ready. i felt they were rushing me. that they were speaking his death into an existence that i wasn't ready to live in yet. it was one more thing that was taken from me. one more thing that i had lost control over. 

As the great Nora McInerny put it in her article for Time "We live on the Internet. We Die Alone;" dying is private. Dying is not an occasion for you to stop by and unburden yourself of things unsaid and undone. Death is not the time for you to declare your love and friendship. That should have been lived and shared everyday with the people who mattered. Not your old college roommates cousins sister who came to visit you that one time during rush week. Death is not the time to double tap on a picture or give it the thumbs up. The dead don't care about what you have to say. 



room for two...

after tim died my heart broke into a million pieces. the kind of pieces that are so small you just sweep them up and throw them away because there is no point trying to salvage them. tim and i had planned on forever but the forever we got was not the one we had hoped for. we didn't get to experience the full life that we wanted to. we didn't get to finish our story together. we now have two separate endings. i am responsible for telling tim's. but what about mine? 

i read this article that said grieving makes you stop and take stock of who you were, who you are and who you want to be. that in the deep dark shadows of grief you need to slow down and listen to yourself. you will find your way. i've mentioned in a previous post that there has never been a defining moment since tim's death that i have felt without doubt "ready to move on."  life and time work just in that way. you find yourself living. you find yourself moving forward because going backwards isn't allowed. i find myself slowly continuing on with my story. 

i would like to introduce 'c'  to my new chapter. he came into my life at quite possibly the worst time. an unpredictable and often angry time. lost in grief. lost in general. he stepped in quietly and peacefully. like a warm gentle wave in my chaotic tsunami tide. he is consistent and constant.  he is loving and lovely. he understands my deep never ending love for tim and the life that we shared together. he doesn't run away when big tears come rolling down my cheeks because i am having a bad day. when i am missing tim for no other reason other than i simply just miss him. because i wish he were still here. because i want him to be alive. instead he asks me to tell him more about tim. more about sam and tim together.  'c' is my sounding board. my soft spot and my safe place. he listens and validates all my feelings and thoughts. he talks every last one of them through with me sometimes multiple times if need be. 'c' and i spent this past thanksgiving together. that morning i woke up and cried for tim. instead of waiting for the moment to pass he pushed forward. he asked me to tell him everything that tim and i did last year for thanksgiving. what we ate. who was in charge of cooking what dish. who did the dishes afterwards. he even let me show him the disturbing turkey butt cake that tim bought for us for dessert and laughed along with me. 'c' gets it.  he gets me.

it can't be easy for 'c' to find his way in my life. a life that had already been penned out with another man. a different story. one of my major fears about my life moving forward is that i will leave tim and our life behind but 'c' makes room for tim in our relationship. it feels like not only has my heart been able to love someone again, but it has gotten bigger and stronger. it loves deeper and richer from all that it has been through and not just the pain. it carries with it all of the love and laughter and friendship that tim gave me. he taught me how to love better.   

i think being the man that comes after the death of a husband is not for the faint of heart. it carries a lot of responsibility. it has a certain heaviness to it. you need a tough skin. people on the outside have a unfair preconceived idea about who you are, what you want and who you are not.  'c' is not tim. i don't want him to be. no one will ever be tim. human beings are not replaceable. there will never be another tim and sam. that story came to a sad end on march 2nd. 'c' is not in my life because tim isn't . 'c' is in my life because he belongs there. because i want him there. because we are writing our own story. because there is room for two.



dear sam...


it's me or more specifically it's you 9 months from march 2nd 2016. 9 long months from the pain and terror that you are living in right now. i wanted to write you this letter as your 9 month old post tim's death self in hopes that when another 9 months pass. when another 9 years pass you can look back on these letters and see your growth and your strength.

let me be the first to tell you that you are tough. i know you don't feel like it right now but you are and you are going to have to stay that way. i know that you are scared and confused. i know that you want to lay down and die but you wont. that's just the bottom line. you.wont.   you prefer things in black and white. so here it is for you. you will go on simply because you have no other choice but to go on. with that being said i wanted to give you some advice. some things that you will struggle with in the upcoming months but i'm here to tell you that you do make it. you do survive. so here it goes

sorry to tell you this but people will disappoint you. right now you are thinking that people will become greater beings after a death occurs but the truth is few actually do. i don't think people know how if i'm being honest. human beings are naturally selfish. very much a better you than me mentality. people will sit on the sidelines of your struggle and tragedy. they will enjoy their lives and at the same time worry about how your grief and sadness could effect them. they will pat themselves on the back for being a kind person because they sent you a facebook message after not talking to you for six months. they will practically drool over how supportive they are if they happen to remember to send you a text on a holiday. it's going to sting sam. it wont ever stop stinging. people you didn't think mattered will hurt your feelings. people who mattered the most will let you down. it will make you feel lonely and broken. it will make you cry out for tim. it will remind you how intertwined your lives and souls were. he was your best friend and his absence will echo so loudly against your body. this will make you cry even more. the disappointment will swallow you up sometimes. it will open up all your wounds. it will create ones that you didn't have before. people won't understand why you are so upset and it will blow your mind. people will say careless and thoughtless things to you. it will break your heart when you didn't think it could possibly break anymore. it will make you feel small and vulnerable. but you aren't. don't let them make you feel any less of a warrior than you are. you know who you are. deep down under all that sadness you are still there sam.

i repeat you are the still there sam. tim's death changed you but it didn't change you. right now you think it's going to. you think the things you loved you will never love again. right now it feels that everything has changed. nothing seems yours. you are feeling out of control of your life. people are telling you what to do and when to do it but it will pass. things will settle and all that was you will come back. don't feel bad for still loving music. for still wanting to see it and hear it and dance to it. it will be one of your saving graces. and for the love of god please don't think you need to shuffle around in your gross pajamas and slippers all day long. getting dressed, wearing makeup and brushing your hair will make you feel like yourself. and its ok girl you can still take those selfies. go right ahead. you can and you will laugh with your friends. you will joke about your sadness because it is the only way you know how to handle it. to be honest it helps other people handle it as well. except your mother. she doesn't always find your dark sarcasm healthy. you will have full conversations with people without mentioning tim. i know that's hard to believe right now but you will and then you will feel sad about it. that's ok to.  you will still cry over silly things sam. just as you did before. right now you are thinking that nothing will ever effect you. that you can conquer anything. you can and you will but it's still going to be hard. you are going to cry when your car alarm goes off in the grocery store parking lot. you will still be nervous to call and dispute a charge on your bank account. you'll let the trash pile up because you hate dragging it outside. this is what i mean by death changing you but not changing you at the same time. don't feel guilty about it. 

sam meet chip. officially known as the chip on your shoulder. get comfortable with each other because i don't know when your relationship will end. he's like that bad-ass boyfriend you had in high school. no one likes him but you can't see why through his dreamy eyes and cigarette smoke. he will be the unwanted guest everywhere you go and in every conversation you have. people will tell you to dump him. but we both know that its easier said than done. you will get rid of your chip on your own time but let me tell you a little wont be in 9 months. it will be when you are healed enough. you are allowed to feel angry and sad and crazy. don't feel bad for feeling bad. your husband died for fucks sake. friends and family will tell you about all the shouldn'ts. you shouldn't feel this way or that way. you shouldn't say this and you shouldn't say that. you shouldn't do this and they definitely wouldn't do that, but you know you best sam remember that. don't let anyone put their time frame on your grief. it is never too soon or too late for your feelings thoughts or actions. it was your husband who died not their's. most of the people you know haven't suffered a loss like yours so how are they going to tell you when enough is enough? when you're scared that you might be beating on your widow drum a little too hard, beat it fucking harder sam. sometimes you will need to remind people what you have gone through. what you continue to go through and what you have survived. you have earned the scars. 



are something i dont have very often. never have been much of a dreamer. day or night. after tim died i wanted to dream of him. i wrote to him in the pages of my journal asking him to show his fucking face once in awhile. throw me a bone or something. even with my threatening requests he barely made any appearances. he seems to have grown defiant in death. 

there is one that seems to reoccur though and i use that term loosely. i've had it three times in the last eight months. in this particular dream tim hasn't died yet. i know hes going to but he doesn't. the amount of time he has left to be alive in the dream doesn't seem to matter or it just doesn't seem to stick to my memory. he goes about his routine...our routine totally oblivious of what is about to happen to us. he is all smiles and deep laughs. he is fast paced and full of excitement as he usually was. i participate in our prior life for awhile but under suspicious eyes and conflicting feelings. do i tell him? if i don't say it out loud will it not happen? did it actually happen? are we both dead?

in the end i always tell him. the reaction he gives me isn't always the same. sometimes its disbelief. sometimes he ignores me. this last time was a new response. he cried. i could tell he was scared. the thing that struck me as being the most odd in this already strange situation was that this time i wasn't. it was my job to make sure that he was ok. that he was as ready to go as he could be. i needed to do for him what he would have wanted to do for me that night. prepare him. hold his hand. touch his face and look into his eyes giving him that one last memory.  

i tell him about his funeral. what he will be wearing and how he will look. he will hate his hair but love his beard. the painfully beautiful service he will have. how uncomfortable i will be inside the church and how his brother sat behind me singing so loudly. the great pictures we all picked out to show of him. the cool dali book i had everyone sign instead of the stuffy old signature book. i tell him about his family and mine. how proud his youngest brother will make him as usual. how not proud others will make him as usual. i share with him how many people will come to show their love and respect. i don't tell him who doesn't come so you all are safe for now. i tell him what goes on in the next few months following his death. how i will move out of our apartment in miami and travel back to charlotte with my bearcat in tow. the different feelings and emotions i will experience. the different reactions other people have. the different ways people will handle his absence and those who won't handle it at all. i tell him how some things have fallen apart but other things have come together. i ramble on to him telling every little detail i can recall until finally i tell him the most important that i will always love him and i will always miss him. i will always remember him and us. that i wish he could stay but he has to go. that its ok to feel afraid because it wont last forever and i will always be around if he needs me. 


some time...

ok maybe a lot of time has gone by since i last wrote anything. almost a month to be exact. 

last night i was getting my hair done and my friend said to me "no posts in awhile?" (hi ben) my response was that i just didn't feel like i had anything worth writing about. and that's the simple truth. i laid in bed last night and this morning tossing and turning. thinking of different things i could write on here. our upcoming wedding anniversary? how annoying facebook and their "memories" feature has become to me? my new tattoo in memory of tim? does anyone care about that stuff but me? no probably not.

i think one of the more difficult parts about death and grief is dealing with the creeping normalcy that eventually sets in. you don't want things to be normal because in reality they are so different. you don't want to develop a new routine but your mind and body just take over without you realizing it. suddenly the new routine just becomes your day to day and the old routine becomes something that feels foreign to you. like a memory that you can almost recall but the edges are blurry. the routine that used to fit like a glove now feels like those jeans that you've been holding onto hoping that just maybe one day they will fit again. they wont fit again. and even if they do they wont feel the same way. not the way they did when you first got them and put them on.  you are not the same anymore. i am not the same anymore.

i haven't written because like i said i just didn't feel ive had anything important enough to share. not that i feel i ever really do but i try to somewhat have a purpose that i am trying to convey. now whether or not that comes across is besides the point. but my life has felt pretty normal. compared to what i have been through anyway i guess. that felt like chaos. that felt out of control. i still feel lost. i still feel angry and upset and scared at times. i still have a physical and emotional void that will never go away. that is just lingering and nagging at me in the background but even that has become normal. something that i have accepted as my every day.  i don't know when it happened. it didn't knock on my door and announce that it was here to replace my old routine but i welcomed it in nonetheless. because it has to happen. because its time to fit into some new jeans i suppose.




good for brunch. sleeping in late. doing laundry. having a family dinner. watching football. catching up on your favorite netflix series. calling your parents. 

sunday...not good for celebrating the 29th birthday of your husband who is no longer around to celebrate it himself. 

tims birthday has been on my mind since the first of april really. not necessarily on my mind by choice but none the less on my mind. back home in nj his family is having a big celebration of life for him. they have designated an area of the yard for a memorial garden. spent hours of back breaking work making sure it looked perfect. they have asked guests of the celebration to bring a plant to contribute to the garden. to contribute to tim. the day will be filled with family and friends. love support and great stories. but i wont be there...

this was not a decision that i made lightly. i thought about it for over a month before coming to my final conclusion. i talked to friends and family about the reasons why. i dont know if i was looking for validation or i was just needing to express my feelings out loud. i needed to see the words hanging in the air as they floated from my mouth.  im not ready. i dont want to. i cant. its not fair. hes not turning 29. hes gone. 

i know that tim is gone. i face it every morning when i brush my teeth and see one toothbrush in a holder that 5 months ago held two. i face it when i open my closet and only see my clothes hanging there. i face it at dinner when i sit alone eating a meal made for two. i face it when my apartment is filled with silence when it was once filled with his loud voice and constant laughter. i face it when i open the sunglasses compartment in our car and his shades fall into my lap. i know hes gone. i dont or rather cant celebrate his birthday when i know he is not here to celebrate it. i wont pretend that i am happy to celebrate that great life that he had because im still dealing with it being over. i dont want to be that close to the town where i buried my husband. i dont want to remember the feelings i last felt there. i dont want to look at the kitchen table in his house and remember all the times i ate pancakes with him but the last time i sat there was to go over the arrangements for his funeral. i deal with it everyday. i dont need to willingly put myself on a plane and fly into a situation that i know i am not capable of handling. i am so grateful for the people in my life that love and support my decisions. that understand i am making these choices for my sanity. to be able to continue to get up everyday. i make these choices for me and for tim. i make them in sound mind. i hope they can be respected even if not understood.

on sunday i will be having a dinner not a birthday dinner but just a dinner with my parents and my friends.  some knew tim. some didnt. but that doesnt matter to me. they are coming because they know what tim means to me. they know that this will be a hard day and they are going to show up and eat and laugh and talk. they are going to talk about things other than it being tims birthday because we all know that it is. but we have to survive it and they will help me survive it. 



some of us have them. some of us dont. some of us love them. some of us dont. 

i had a job that i really loved. it treated me well. it took care of me and tim. it employed us both. it moved us when we wanted a change of scenery. it gave me a great circle of friends that i grew to count on like family. some even more than family. it has picked me up when i was down. gave me the advice i was seeking as well as the criticism that i wasnt. it taught me to fail gracefully and to appreciate the wins humbly because you are only as good as the day before. my job gave me a home wherever i went. 

when tim died my job was there. they filled my apartment with food and people. tears and laughter. they gave me clothes to wear when i couldnt step foot into my closet. they answered the phone when i couldnt. they drove back and forth to the airport. they packed my apartment when i couldnt bare to look at my own belongings and most importantly they showed up and they loved. they traveled from all over to be there for me. for tim. for our families. they didnt owe me anything. they didnt owe tim. but they showed up because they were our family. 

when i moved back to charlotte i made the decision to leave my job. it wasnt easy but i felt haunted by memories of tim. waiting for him to come busting through the backroom doors to tell me goodbye for the day. looking for his lunchtime texts to see if i wanted anything. hear his voice in the stockroom. reach for his hand when i got out of my car in the morning. i couldnt give my job the energy patience and quality that it deserved anymore. i decided to bow out while i was still in good standing. i wanted to leave with my reputation in tact. i had worked hard to get there. 

now im kinda fumbling through space. what i thought i was going to be doing for the rest of my life is no longer. the place that felt like home for so many years is not part of my everyday anymore. that chapter of my life is closed now. i dont know what these next few chapters look like but i will tell you this. i will not do something that doesnt feel right. i will not stay somewhere that makes me unhappy everyday. as i mentioned in an earlier post this is the trial and error part of my life. i have to test things out to see if they are going to work. a lot of things wont. hopefully some will. but i dont owe an explanation to anyone. only i know what it feels like to wake up and be me everyday. somethings wont make sense to others. some dont even make sense to me. but ive learned the lesson the hard way that life really is short. you cant spend it doing something that makes you miserable hoping that one day it wont. because one day might not ever arrive. 


Tim <3...

thats how his name is in my phone. Tim with the red emoji heart and a small black and white photo of us that i took at the airport. 

tim once got on the phone with verizon arguing that i had no storage space left on my phone. the sales lady told him it was because i had never deleted a text message since before the dawn of time. man was he pissed. now i dont save any messages that i get. i delete every single message and thread that comes through making sure i never lose Tim<3.  yes i have it backed up to the cloud whatever that fucking means. but there is something so surreal about just knowing all of our conversations are in my pocket. 

i dont actually like to see Tim<3 pop up on my phone because it hurts knowing that i will never again get a text or call from him. i just like to know its only a scroll away just in case i have an emergency and need to reference back in time. "how did he say this?" "how did he spell that?" "when i asked him a math equation what was the answer?" it also allows me to see in black and white "i love you" "i miss you" when will you be home" "ill be right there babe" i have memorized who comes right before Tim<3 in the message box so i know when to stop but this weekend i deleted just that one too much and his name popped up on my screen. i really thought about not looking but i dont think my fingers and my heart were on the same page. i found myself sobbing with black mascara running down my cheeks. but then something weird happened as i was scrolling through. i started to laugh. i was reading our words and his jokes and i started to laugh as i could remember those conversations and i could hear his voice saying those words out loud to me. thank you babe for again helping me to laugh through my tears. for showing up right when i needed you like always. 


158 days...

until christmas. that was written on a dry erase board at my work when i walked in. someone has really started a fucking countdown till christmas.

tim and i have mostly been on our own for the holidays. we have never lived in the same state as our parents since we've been married or before really. our job didnt allow us to travel during the busy times of the year or we didnt have the money to go home. we have been alone...together...celebrating holidays with just the two of us. last august we went to the casino so he could gamble is birthday money away. our wedding anniversary is in september and it would creep up without us remembering. it wasnt until someone would send a text (usually our parents) that we would think "hey we got married on this day!" it was funny to see which one of us would remember first and remind the other. last october tim created a halloween shrine in our apartment knowing that i love all things scary. i keep the monster hand cups he bought on the top shelf in my kitchen cabinet.  november we would have a makeshift thanksgiving diner inviting over our friends who were displaced from their family as well. also in november...veterans day. maybe tims favorite day. he would roll over in bed that morning and say "babe do you have anything to say to me?" even my mom knew never to forget to send tim a veterans day card. he kept every single card you all sent him in his nightstand drawer. in december we would rack up our credit cards bills buying gifts for each other. when we were first dating tim knew how hard it was for me to be away from my parents during this time of year. he would go above and beyond to make sure i got everything i wanted no matter the cost. tim would let me take his goofy picture standing in the christmas pajamas that my mom sent him every year. when january rolled around he would complain that he just spent so much money on christmas but he still never let me down for my birthday. he always baked me a cake and spent a lot of time picking out my gift. last birthday he got me a small blue polaroid camera. i took pictures of the two of us the night he gave it to me and hung them on our fridge. i tucked those same photos under his right arm at his funeral. i havent used that camera since. it just sits on my windowsill like an artifact from our life together. last valentines day we spent the weekend in st. petersburg exploring the dali museum and stayed in a dreamy pink beach hotel. and finally we reach march. thats when i buried the love of my life my best friend and my partner in crime. do you see the problem i have with calendars? 

this year i will not be celebrating any holidays. please dont feel the need to text me merry christmas or happy thanksgiving because in my world those days do not exist. i dont need the texts asking if im "ok" on holidays because you all already know the answer. i will not be ok. i will be crying my eyes out, sleeping the day away or maybe ill be fucking wasted. i have a right to be messy on those days and im ok with that. 




thats how i feel sometimes. a lot of times. i feel like a fake. here are words people use to describe me now...brave courageous strong resilient powerful passionate determined. but this is how i feel most days...tired scared alone sad powerless betrayed confused overwhelmed jealous vulnerable.did i mention tired because thats a big one.  

ive always been a big fan of the fake it till you make it motto. thats how i go about most things in life. when schmoozing with bigwigs at work. i would be up all night freaking out. when the time came for the visit i was cool and put together. my boss used to tell me that i was so well spoken. little did he know i was sweating through my clothes and made tim practice my speech to the point where he could recite it himself. i fake my confidence during interviews. i fake my beaming smile confident voice and strong handshake. when i actually just talk a lot hoping to trick them into thinking ive answered their questions. a lot of my belongings represent a fake life that i dont really live. a couple of years ago i was walking around with a $1700 dollar handbag while driving a 1999 ford escort! i was portraying myself as someone i hoped to be one day.

now i pretend to be strong. i pretend to be okay. i pretend to be brave. i am pretending to be all of the things that people think of me so that maybe i can trick myself into thinking it as well. i fake it through the day when i feel like crying and hiding under the covers. i fake the polite "thank yous and its okay" when people tell me they are sorry to hear about tim. i actually want to scream and tell them i dont want to hear sorry and its not okay and i am not thankful. it fucking hurts and its horrible and i wish someone would just say that instead. i fake that its okay that some of our "friends and family" have completely fallen off the face of the earth since tim died. said they were going to be there but they arent. do things but they dont. its not guys should feel ashamed. tim would be ashamed of you. i pretend not to be angry. but yea i am fucking angry. why shouldnt i be? because its better to fake feeling grateful? im faking it when i tell people that im going to be okay. that im going to go on living life like tim would want me to but i dont know that. i dont know if im going to be okay. i dont know if i will survive this. maybe tim would be okay with that. maybe he would understand that it was too much. maybe he would say "you fucking tried real hard to get shit together just go on living like a crazy lady." 

i again find myself attempting to morph into a person i hope to be one day. i dont even know who that person is. time hasnt created her yet. so until then im going to fake it till i make it. 



dear babe...

is how i start my letter to tim every night before i go to bed. writing a letter to him has been something ive done since a week after he was buried. it has given me a routine. a set time and place where i know i will be able to talk to him without any interruptions or judgments.

a friend of mine had driven me to a bookstore nearly 40 minutes outside of our small hometown. i was on the hunt for some self help books. something that would tell me how to survive the death of my husband. something to give me a written road map of what was to come next. i needed a "what to expect when youre expecting" book on being a widow. if you blink you might miss the death and dying section in your local big box book retailer. its located way down on the bottom shelf i had to sit on the floor to be able to read the titles. there were only a hand full of books mostly were religion based not all were about losing a spouse. i walked out of there with a $6.00 dollar blank paged journal to write my own story. my own map.

i tell tim about my day good or bad simple or complex. i tell him whats going on in our country. i filled him in on orlando dallas baton rouge and minnesota. i ask him for his thoughts and opinions and i tell him mine. i miss his passion for debating and our ability to go back and fourth listening and challenging each other. i feel like he is reading over my shoulder as i scribble across the pages. i ask him if he thinks im making the right choices in my life. did i spend too much money on this? should i be mad at this person? am i going to survive this new job? i like to keep him current on pop culture. i tell him about new movies or series that have come out. new menu items at his favorite fast food places. new songs from our favorite bands. i write about how angry and scared i am. i yell at him on those pages just as much as i tell him i love him. i yell at him for being gone. i yell at him for my nightmares. i yell at him for leaving me alone and just last week i yelled at him because my air conditioner broke! 

writing gives me a direct line of communication to him. it semi fills a void. the void of being able to grab my phone and send a quick text saying "you will not believe what just happened" or "hey what do you think about this?" the void of getting home from work and hearing him say "how was your day babe?" i miss talking to him and my letters give me an inch of that. when crazy shit is going on or something exciting happened or someone really fucking pissed me off... i think " i cant wait to write tim about this." 


the number four...

has no significant meaning to me. four is not my lucky number. four isnt the number of cats i have (though i wish i did) four isnt even the number of years that ive owned my car. but this weekend the number four rolled around in a big way. this weekend four was the number of months that tim has been gone and it punched me right in the gut. 

im going to be really honest with you and say that the other months havent effected me quite like this one did. when the first month came around i let out a sigh of relief that i fucking made it. i had survived one whole month and it felt big. i felt proud of myself. second month creeped up and i thought ok so the first month wasnt just a fluke i am actually doing this. i have two months under my belt... its fresh and it hurts like hell but here i am . going into month three i was in the process of starting a new job and things were busy and chaotic. month three didnt slip by unnoticed by any means but it also didnt arrive screaming at me like month four. four feels final to me. 

one thing that doesnt change no matter the month is how i handle the night before tims official death date. tim went outside to take the garbage out at 11:45 pm. the time sticks out to me specifically because he said "im going to take the trash out and finish playing my game then ill be in." being the bossy lady that i am i remember telling him he had fifteen minutes to get it all done. it was late and we both had to be at work at 7:00am the next morning. at 12:00am tim still hadnt come into our room. i got up to give him a friendly reminder that it was time for bed and he wasnt there.  on the anniversary of his death date i envision a bright red digital clock. i can almost here its ticks as it counts down. i look at the clock and think at this time tim had exactly one hour left. at this time tim had thirty minutes left and now fifteen now ten. i hold my breath as the clock rolls around to midnight. what would we have done differently that night if we knew death was slowly caving in on us. could we have run away? would it have found us? 

i woke up on the day of month four feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. i felt physically ill and even though i had just gotten up i felt exhausted. every footstep hurt me. i ignored the messages and phone calls i got because i just didnt know what to say. people dont want to hear that youre having a shitty day and you cant get out of bed. they want the best for you. they want to hear that youre hanging in there but sometimes its just not possible. with eyes full of tears i sat in bed googling tims name and reading through his obituary checking his instagram even writing him a message on facebook just in case. i was hoping that maybe i would find a mistake and that it wasnt actually him. maybe it was a different tim and mine is just chilling on a island somewhere or off snowboarding in the mountains. i could call our parents and friends and say "dont worry i found him!" ...sadness can turn you into a hopeless fool sometimes.  

month number four...this round goes to you. but im coming back again next month so lookout number five. 


American Flags...

are everywhere i go as we prepare for the fourth of july. i love the American Flag. i love anything that has to do with America actually. but i never thought that the flag would take on another meaning for me. i never thought i would see the American Flag carefully draped over my husbands casket. i never thought i would sit in a chair clenching the hands of my older brother and tims youngest brother as the honor detail folded that American Flag over and over again into a tight triangle. i never thought the military would then present that flag to me on their knees and thank me for his service while taps played in the distance. it was both the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment i have ever experienced. 

that flag feels like a lifeline to me and i cant totally explain why. after the funeral i carried tims flag with me everywhere. i would go for walks in my parents neighborhood and have it tucked under my arm. i went for dinner at my aunts house and i brought it with me. i would lay on the couch watching tv and hold it against my chest. i sat outside in a lawn chair drinking and listening to music with the flag in my lap. when the time came for me to fly back to miami the flag came with me. i carried it through the airport like a medal of honor for both me and tim. tims proudest moments in life came from his time spent in the military. it gifted him great friends that became brothers. gave him a sense of meaning and direction. and it gave him a lot of amazing stories. it was by far his favorite topic to talk about. as i walked through the airport people would approach me and ask me about his flag. it was a selfish and needy way for me to tell his stories again. the stories that i had heard hundreds of times if not more. the stories i had joked with him about for telling too much. telling them to strangers made tim feel alive for me. i felt like it was my battle scar showing others what i had gone through what i had lost and that i had survived...kinda. 

now ill tell you about wednesday. wednesday i went to michaels (the store) to pick up some stuff for work. i am by no means crafty or a do it yourselfer but man i fucking love michaels. i was just aimlessly wandering through every aisle looking at all the useless gadgets and treasures that i didnt need when i stumbled into the frame section. what do you think they had displayed front and center? memorial flag cases... 

damn michaels cant you cut a girl some slack? im just innocently trying to pick up some tacks for work and youve got to knock me down like this? weirdly enough i have had a conversation with tim in the past in this same exact michaels about those very same memorial flag cases. tim wanted to get one to put his military photos certificates and awards in. at the time i told him that those cases were for deceased military service men and women. not living ones. i so specifically remember saying the words "you dont have a flag to put in there babe, we will buy you a frame but not one of those."

i just stood there holding my dumb purchases in my hands staring at those cases. i thought about our conversation in that same aisle three years ago and how strange everything is now. now his military photo stares back at me from the obituary page of an old newspaper. the certificates and awards he won were lined up for display... but at the funeral home not in our home. and that flag that he didnt have...well it lays next to me on his side of the bed.

when i look at the American Flag today... i see and feel tim. 




pills and potions...

not the kind that nicki minaji sings about but the real kind. zoloft ambien valium lexapro xanax wine beer vodka adderall tylenol pm nightquil  scented oils ginger teas...all of these and much more. all of these that promise you a better mental state a better nights sleep a sliver of feeling happy again.  

here is my own experience regarding this topic.

 the days in miami after tim passed away i stayed in a xanax state with a wine chaser. i was physically afraid to go to sleep. i was scared of the silence. i was scared that my bed appeared the same but was completely different without tim and honestly i was scared of having to wake up every morning and start reliving my nightmare all over again. during the day i jumped every time my phone rang. it was always someone i didnt want to talk to about something i didnt want to discuss. it was the funeral home director, hospital staff, different organizations all wanting my time to talk about tim being gone which i wasnt ready to process yet. my nerves were shot and i needed those pills to get me through. a lot of people have said to me "i dont know how your doing it. i would be in the fetal position crying"  but what you dont understand is when your spouse dies you dont get to just curl up in a ball and pull back the covers. there is shit that has to get done... decisions that need to be made people and polices that you need to handle and questionnaires that need to be completed. time doesnt allow you to live under a rock. so thats how i did it. i had no other choice and because i used medication to help get me through. luckily i had an amazing support system around me. my family and tims family who took care of the arrangements behind closed doors so i wouldnt have to hear about it.  my amazing coworkers and boss who took care of me in ways that i will never forget. whether it was cramming themselves into our tiny apartment just to sit with me or packing every single thing that tim and I owned into boxes while i was in new jersey.  and lastly my friends who flew in from all over and laid in bed with me so that tims side wouldnt be so empty. everyone took something off my overfilled emotional plate. it wasnt because it was their job to do so... it was because of their kindness. 

anyway back to the point. when i landed in new jersey for tims services i immediately had a doctors appointment to get myself medicated and i was prescribed zoloft and valium. my doctor speaking from his own experience with loss told me that the best advice he could give was to get back to a normal routine...get back to life. easier said than done. what is a normal routine anymore? what does life even look like for me?  i wanted him to just hand over the pills and let me be on my way. i really thought those pills were going to be magic beans for me. i thought i would take them and all of a sudden be able to feel happiness again but this wasnt true. i felt exactly the same. the only time i felt different was when i took too much but then i couldnt function the way i wanted. this was the case at the funeral. people kept coming up to me and telling me how great i was handling everything or how great i looked... so well put together. it was nice of them to say that but it wasnt me inside there. it was because i was on a lot of pills and i had a lot to drink.

when i moved to charlotte and settled into this  new foreign routine i very slowly stopped taking the pills. half of it was because I felt they weren't doing what i had hoped they would but most of it was because im not adult enough to make my own doctors appointment. the looming no-refill words at the bottom of the container made me feel stressed. i felt tied to those medications and was concerned with how i  would feel when they ran out. do i think they arent working but really they are? when i stop will all of my emotions hit me like a train? it was scary to cut the cord but i couldnt let my anti-stress medication cause me this much stress. 

so my reason for this post is this. do what works for you and dont let anyone tell you differently. i think i personally had an unrealistic hope of the euphoria taking medication would give me. i think they can do a lot of good for a lot of people and they served their purpose during those first few weeks. of course my own reaction is not going to be the same as someone elses but when you are going through something whether its death, marriage, divorce or just plain old regular life and you feel like you might need a little extra help then get it. raise your hand and say hey me over here...someone help me figure this shit out.  i also want to point out the opposite of this. when i decided to stop taking my pills i had a few people in my corner who didnt think it was such a good idea and that made me feel a little bit crazy. what are they seeing that i dont see?  am i turning into a werewolf at night or something?  in a time where you feel so out of control of whats going on in your life its important to remain in control of your mental state, body and ability to make decisions that are best for you. 


the others...

is a term i use to describe the new people i come in contact with everyday since tims been gone. this is a very interesting group of people for me. they live in a world that is untouched by tims death. no connection no sadness no hole in their hearts. they live in a world where for them tim might still be alive because they dont know any better. i dont always handle this group with the most grace and elegance...i have more of a bull in a china shop approach. i want to start this post off by telling you an unflattering story of myself and a situation that happened to me just over a month ago. i called out of work because i was in a shitty ass mood and i spent all day just wallowing in my  misery and pity. i got a text from a friend asking to meet up at a bar down the street from my house and i took the opportunity to get out and shake off some of my emotions. this was probably my first mistake in this particular story. i stomped on over to the bar wearing black motorcycle boots, a leather jacket and a baseball hat looking like i was ready to fuck someones day up because who cares mine already was. while sitting there with my friends an "other" joined the table. i was not in the right frame of mind to really entertain the idea of having this person i didnt know join us and it was written all over my face. i would like to pause for a moment and say that i wish at this point in time i would have just gotten up and left. bowed out with some damn sanity but no i went full steam ahead. mistake number two. this perfectly nice "other" started talking about the usual stuff...clothes, shopping, work etc as i just sat glaring from my seat at the end of the table slurping on my beer. she then turned her conversation towards me. it started light enough but as i mentioned earlier i was not in the mood to be around new people and i tried dodging her questions with vague answers. then came the question to end all questions the one that made everyone squirm in their seats "well what does your husband do for a living?" i could have really gone a couple of different routes with my answer. i could have lied and made something up she wouldnt have known the difference anyway. i could have mumbled quietly that tim had recently passed away and left it alone. she was just trying to be polite after all. asking those PC questions that people do when they first meet each other. but i have to tell you that i did not take the high road and i didnt go with either of those answers. my response to this unsuspecting "other" was "my husband doesnt do anything for a living because he's dead..............."  making this mistake number three. not my finest hour people. what youre all sitting there thinking happened after this comment flew out of my mouth and into the universe did happen. everyone got uncomfortable and silent, she wanted to crawl under the table and i just kept laying the hammer down on her. even offering to show her a picture of tim if she wanted to see one. of course she didnt want to see a fucking picture she probably wanted to evaporate into thin air.  it was only then after i succeeded in making someone else feel shitty did i gather up my miserable self and go home.  

ive had a lot of really big changes in my life since tim passed away. i moved to a different state, got a new apartment and even started a new job. i come in contact with a lot of "others" and its really a mixed bag of people emotions and interactions i never really know how they are going to turn out. there are some who ask a lot of questions about tim and our life together. this group allows me to talk about things like they used to be. they are curious to peek inside the life of a widow "how do you do it?" "how did he die?" "how long has it been?" its ok to ask these questions.  its okay to be curious... its natural for people to be curious. i am willing to share and some days i need to share with people who have no emotional attachment. then there are the "others" who dont dig deep... the quiet "others." maybe they heard through the grapevine that yea that girl over there her husband died or maybe they asked me something simple like "why did you move to charlotte from miami?" not knowing that the answer is about to be a loaded one. they dont even bring up the subject of me ever being married let alone how im surviving the death of my husband. i can tell that when i bring something up related to tim they become uncomfortable because they dont know what to say or how to act and this is an okay reaction too.  i like this type of "other" as well. they allow me to just be me. they know i have a heavy heart but they just let it be... no questions asked. 

navigating these groups is new to me and i am still trying to find my sea legs. some of these "others" may stick around to become friends if they are willing to weather the storm and some "others" are just passing through. both are equally as important in my learning process. im learning how to interact with people as this new version of myself and yes unfortunately there are going to be some innocent victims along the way. i want to apologize to those people in advance... i dont know what i am doing just yet so bare with me.

you are all part of what i call the trial and error portion of my life so hold on. 


two become one...and then one becomes... becomes nothing. when youre in a relationship with someone you both take on certain roles within your world together. im not talking about the huge roles like breadwinner, mom, dad etc.  im just talking about the silly everyday roles that you forget about. maybe its your job to always take the trash out and its your partners job to always pay the electric bill. you subconsciously depend on each other to keep your conjoined world spinning. you both snuggle into these roles and it just works... things are warm and balanced. 

now one of you is gone. and the roles are shattered and they dont mean anything anymore. you have to start all over again and you are the only one in your once balanced world of two. 

tim and i had roles and we played them well. i was the more straight edge put together one and he was the fun loving mellow one. i could use tim as my buffer to defend off awkward small talk at parties and any other uncomfortable social setting. he could almost always get me to crack a smile even when we were arguing and he let my mood swings roll off his back. i on the other hand could be counted on to keep a level head, make sure all of our bills were paid on time, ensure that we didnt stay in the bates motel on a road trip or family vacation and be tims voice of reason when he was feeling unsure or lost. 

it took us a long time to find our rhythm. like i said in an earlier post marriage is not easy. i think at first we both fought against falling into a "routine" but it happens to the best of us. now that tim is gone i am trying to pick up the pieces of our roles and figure out how to do it all on my own and this shit is hard. even the smallest and dumbest tasks suck. take going to the grocery store for example. this was one of tims roles. one of his favorite roles might i add. i hate the grocery store with a deep burning passion. i hate the parking lot, the customers the music and the judgmental cashiers as they ring up my four bottles of wine twenty frozen dinner meals and a  bag of cat food.  " why yes sir i would like each individual wine bottle wrapped in a brown bag and no i will carry my cat food out by hand like a true warrior." then theres step two. getting the groceries into my fourth floor apartment in the blazing sun and heat. as i stand in front of my door fumbling for my keys dripping in sweat and juggling more bags than anyone should attempt at one time i say out loud "i did it babe" because i know that tim would be proud that i accomplished this small dumb task that i hate so much. 

i know some of you may be reading this and thinking to yourselves her husband just died and all she can talk about is winning at getting groceries in the door. and youre right. i know that this is small and stupid and is a task that millions of people do everyday but that isnt my point. my point is when you suffer a loss your whole world becomes foreign to you. you forget who you are and you forget what you are capable of doing. i know that i can physically handle going to the grocery store alone or call and yell at verizon when my cell phone bill is wrong but those were my husbands roles and it feels really big for me to be able to accomplish some of those. so i want you all to know that i get it and i see you. i see you single mom or dad who worked all day and still got dinner on the table for your kids before 10 pm. i see you other widows out there who wrestled with taking the garbage out tonight when it weighed ten tons and was dripping gross shit out of the bottom and i salute you. i salute your small but nevertheless overwhelming accomplishments and i know your loved ones do as well. 


tsunami waves...

thats how sadness hits me. i will be going throughout my day feeling fine and then all of a sudden dread washes over me. sometimes its out of nowhere and sometimes its sparked by a memory. its when i slide into the drivers seat of our car and smell the lingering scent of cigarette smoke or finally getting to the bottom of our laundry hamper only to find a pair of tims socks staring back up at me. both of these incidents have knocked me on my ass. these memories make me feel  like somehow i just missed him. i walked into a room just as he walked out or he called and i just missed him on that last ring. its as if he slipped right through my finger tips that night. he said he would be right back he was just taking the trash out. he was there and then he was gone in the blink of an eye. 

people say thank goodness you have all of your memories and photos to hold on to. you can remember the good times and i think for some people that really does bring them a lot of comfort but not for me not now anyway. i dont want to look at a picture and think well what a great memory this is because it wasnt suppose to be a memory. it was just suppose to be a great fucking selfie. when i look at pictures of us now the only thing i do is count. i count the months days and minutes that we had left at that very moment and didnt even know it. i examine them for clues that we should have known what was about to happen to us. i dont want to sit around and tell stories about how funny or clumsy tim was because hes suppose to still be here doing the same dumb shit laughing right along with me. hes suppose to be here so i can ask him to reenact how he tripped over a display case in walgreens while i sit in bed laughing till i cry . hes suppose to be here to tell me to shut up when i joke to much over something stupid he did while hes busy sulking over it. 

 the truth about memories is that they hurt right now....a lot and they are everywhere waiting to smother me. i turn on our netflix and i can see where we left off watching a show together. should i keep going without him? it feels wrong. i think i would run out of the room crying if someone turned on Law and Order SVU because tim used to sing the theme song and play air saxophone to it every night before we went to bed. (you all know the one im talking about). i dont like to look at photos of tim because seeing his face literally takes my breath away. its like hey i know you....why do you only live inside my instagram pictures now? where are you? when are you coming home? it all feels confusing. i have a post it note that tim wrote me hanging on my fridge and i avoid it at all costs. i keep it up there for the day that i am ready. for the day that i can look at it and laugh at his chicken scratch and smile at his words  but for now i feel like its screaming in my face every time i walk by it.  i have all of tims belongings neatly boxed away at my brothers house for safe keeping until i am ready to face them and they are ready to face me. you might be surprised to hear that i  have no photos of tim in my apartment which may sound harsh to some but i dont need photos. i see tim everywhere. i can remember every single thing about him. his smile and the small gap he had between his front teeth. his rough hands and the hangnails that he was forever chewing on. his deep brown eyes and long lashes. his loud overly dramatic laugh and the low sweet voice he would get when he was about to tell me something i didnt want to hear.  i  hear and see these things every minute of the day. i lay in bed at night and the images of our life together flash behind my closed eyes like a movie reel.  its both a curse and the only cure i have right now.