outside looking in....

i have asked some of mine and tims friends and family members to contribute to this blog. they are woven pieces throughout our story and have been there through the good, bad, ugly and comical. i think it gives an interesting perspective on how they are handling their own grief and can give people who may be in their shoes a voice. when we suffer a loss our knee jerk reaction is to want to be comforted by our friends and family. we think they should have all the tools to help us manage our grief. they should be able to say the right words to take away our pain, they should know what not to say and what not to do, they should know when we need them and when we need space.... but this is just not reality. we the grievers easily lose sight that they are also grieving in different ways.  my mother is grieving for the loss of her son-in law and she is also grieving for me her daughter who shouldnt have had to bury her husband. tims brothers and sister are grieving the loss of their brother ,their friend and words left unsaid between them. my girlfriends are grieving for me as their friend and also facing a harsh truth that we the young are not invincible. grief is scary for everyone no matter what the connection.

this post is from my dear friend andrea. we have been friends since college. we were roommates, road trip  buds and sisters. andrea was a bridesmaid in our wedding. she was there when we started and she was there when we ended. these are her words. 

“What the fuck?!”, that was my first reaction when I got the news as I was shopping the handbag department at Nordstrom. What. The. Actual. Fuck. The sales associate must have heard me because she came over and asked if I needed help. I politely dismissed her, thinking to myself “I need more than help right now”. Of course, the news of death knocks the wind out of you however the news of someone so young and healthy dying…. Well that’s just ridiculous. On the flight to Miami the next day, I racked my brain over and over about what I was going to say to her. Although everyone kept telling me you don’t have to say anything, just be there for her. Ironic, because when Sam and I are together you rarely have a moment of silence – so not speaking to her wouldn’t be awkward at all, okay. What was I supposed to say? “He is in a better place?” No, that’s a lie. He belongs here. “He’s not suffering anymore?” But he wasn’t suffering in the first place. “It will be okay?” But will it? You’d have a hard time convincing me of that. “I’m sorry for your loss?” She didn’t “lose” him, he wasn’t misplaced, he was ripped away. “Everything happens for a reason?”, dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard in any context– don’t even get me started. Would I hug her? She hates hugs and I hate touching people. Would I tell her she looks pretty just to make her happy? Compliment her on her outfit? Shallow I know, but I was running out of ideas. I don’t know what it’s like to have a dead husband. Shit, I don’t even know what it’s like to have a living husband. Truth is, I didn’t need an icebreaker – there LITERALLY were no words that made sense, because NOTHING at this point made sense. He wasn’t supposed to die, he was 28. He enlisted in the military and served in Iraq – that should have given him a free pass right? He was loved and needed by so many, couldn’t it happen to someone else? Sam is big on not speaking if you don’t have anything (that she wants to hear) to say – so I figured I’d just be there- literally. Sam and I have seen each other through the good, the bad, the ugly – that’s the benefit of a friendship spanning over 10+ years starting freshman year of college. She is my go-to for advice, support, and especially when I want to yell every curse word in the book because I had a bad day... she’s who I call. I say ‘HAD a bad day’ because I’m pretty sure nothing trumps being a widow at 29 now. I knew our friendship was forever changed. She relied so heavily on Tim for so many things. I guess that’s what married people do. He loved her so much, not in an uncomfortable-to- be-around- make-me- sick kind of way, in a I’m-so- glad-shes- my- best-friend-i- found-her- soulmate kind of way. And for that I loved Tim. Out of respect for him, I know it’s my job to keep her head above water on the days she has trouble doing it herself. The funny thing is, in all honesty, SHE keeps my head above water. Sam – I’ve said it before and I won’t ever stop saying it… I am so proud of your resilience and your bravery (you’re rolling your eyes, I know). They say you don’t know someone’s true strength until they’ve hit rock bottom – and no offense, Sam, but I never thought you’d have it in you to wake up and give every single day hell – “blasting through the day” as you call it - while carrying such a heavy heart. I’m humbled and honored to be your friend, there is no one stronger. There are going to be days when you feel lonely, but I promise you are never alone. So much love.

-andrea

the real housewives....

that is what i was watching the night that tim died. i was laying in bed watching the real housewives what a ridiculous thing to be doing. i want to tell you that we were doing something interesting or even dangerous that would warrant a death to occur but no we were watching tv the night that both of us died in two separate ways. 

i can remember every second of that night. i have gone over it in my head more times than i can count and i have also shared the story over and over again. i read somewhere that reliving the death is a part of the grieving process. i think for me its an opportunity to go over the night step by step out loud to see if there was something there that i missed.....hence this blog. 

i sat in the hospital waiting room at midnight looking around at all the different types of people that were there. the sick, old, homeless etc. i thought to myself if all of these people come in here and leave alive than surely tim who had just been on the couch 30 mins ago is going to come running out of here.  this was unfortunately a misjudgment on my part.  they ushered me into a not very private sitting area and a team of doctors and nurses came out to talk to me. there are actually no words created to tell you the feelings i had when i saw them all walking towards me. it was as if the hallway wasnt long enough. i never wanted them to reach me because i knew what they were there to tell me. tim was gone and he was never coming back. the sadness, pity and confusion was written all over their wrinkled faces. "we dont know what happened." .....that was their only answer to my screams and sobs.

 i stayed at the hospital for a long time after they delivered the news. the doctors and nurses never came back to check on me. i think they just lingered outside the room waiting for me to collapse and die right along with my husband but instead i sat quietly in a rolling desk chair with a rough hospital blanket wrapped around me. what was i suppose to do.....where was i suppose to go? i wanted to ask them if it was possible to move all of my stuff into that small sitting area because i wasnt sure i was ever going to be able to leave.  that was the last place i felt hope that tim was going to be ok and i wasnt ready to give that up.

im not sure how i survived that night. im not sure how i survived the car ride home or the walk up the stairs to my friends apartment or taking my shoes off. i couldnt tell you how i got my legs to move. i sat on the bathroom floor and cried into the phone to anyone who was awake to listen. i pressed my face up against her sliding glass door. i can still remember the feeling of the cool glass on my forehead and the low sound of her tv going in the other room. i was waiting for the sun to come up. i needed to make it through the night. i felt like that was my first major accomplishment. 

-s

the beginning before the end....

before i tell you about the death i should tell you about the life.

tim and i are from the same hometown, same high school for the most part and everything. i know.....get your tissues out. we grew up in sussex county where the cows out numbered the people and kids got out of school early during hunting season. yes that was actually a thing.  tim and i were not high school sweethearts, but that doesnt mean we didnt know each other. we ran in overlapping social circles in a very small town. if life was fair and the universe was on our side tim and i would have been high school sweethearts. we could have shared a few more years and memories together but we all know life can be a cruel bitch.

tim and i started dating in 2008. it was long distance, VERY long distance. i was living in NC going to college and he was living in Ft. Drum NY and coming to the end of his military career. (shout out to all of tims army friends) his crazy ass would drive all the way from NY to NC on the weekends just so we could spend time together and my selfish ass would allow him to do that. we spent our time together like most young couples do. we partied hard, slept in late, went to concerts etc. during the week we would skype and act stupid falling over the i love yous and miss yous. fast forward to 2011 tim and i were married in the outer banks with all of our families and friends there. it was great and beautiful and everything that a wedding should be but we were clueless about what came next.

marriage. was. hard. anyone that posts on facebook about how great their married life is, is for sure lying to you. before death, marriage was the hardest thing that i had encountered. there were some times that i didnt think we would make it and there were some times that i didnt know if i wanted to make it anymore. i know tim felt the same way. we looked at our single friends and saw them having the time of their life and here we were arguing over whose turn it was to do the dishes or why one of us spent money we didnt have to spend on stuff we didnt need. just as lost as i feel being a widow at 29 is how lost tim and i felt being married at 23 but the difference is that we were in it together. one of tims favorite lines to me during a fight was "ask anyone we know sam and they will tell you how crazy that is" this line would send me through the roof due to the fact that he was the only other married person i knew! who are these "anyone" people you speak of? our single friends who are not legally bound to anyone or our parents who have been married for centuries? we had to figure out how to make life work without showing everyone the cracks in our foundation. it was messy a lot of the time but it was also amazing most of the time.

looking back on those fights now i feel a sense of guilt and anger at both me and tim. how dare that 23 year old sam give 22 year old tim the silent treatment trying to prove her point. didnt she know that in five years time would rob them and she would never be able to talk to him again. why didnt we know better? people say "if i could go back in time and change things i wouldnt" .....that is fucking insane. if tim and i could go back in time we would change a whole lot of things. i would say get your fucking acts together. you two have five years left not the 100 that you dummies think you do. tim would have held his tongue more in arguments, and been a bit softer with his words.  i would have not yelled every time he sang too loudly in the shower or broke every handle off of my anthropology coffee mugs if i knew that in just a few short years i would be sitting in silence drinking from that very same broken mug without my husband. 

-s

hi my name is sam and i am a widow.....

i feel like that is how i need to make all my introductions now. its the first thing i want to get off my chest when meeting people or even talking to already existing friends. being a widow has taken over my identity. i am no longer just sam i am sam the widow. even worse than that i am sam the widow to a 28 year old seemingly healthy young guy. it stings more when it rolls of the tongue. i live in the shadows of my husbands death but i have to say its where i feel most comfortable. how can i feel more comfortable living under the cloak of death? i dont know but i do. i guess i feel like no one expects much from me under there. i can be sad, angry, rude. i can drink too much or sleep all day and people will say its because of my "situation."  i also feel most connected to my husband by identifying myself as his widow like im honoring him in some weird death way. when we got married i took his last name and then he died and i took on the title of tims widow. seems like a shitty trade off but one that i feel a sense of pride in just as i did when i stood in the line at social security and changed my last name to match his. i am tims widow and i am here to tell you every great thing about him. i am here to make sure you dont forget him. i am his voice now. i am also here to tell you what its like to be a widow at 29 and how much the world changes in more ways than you thought it would.  

but what a horrible word. death is not glamorous and in my case either is being the survivor but can we at least come up with a word that doesnt bring the image of a 90 year old woman dressed in all black sitting in a rocking chair to mind. i still put on lipstick everyday.....that should count for something right?

 i will go into the details of my life, marriage and death both of my husband and of who i used to be. but for today this is all i have to say. 

-s