Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year, Sweetheart!

I toast our life together, the good times, and all the love.

1983

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time

Time is a strange thing - it goes slowly when we anticipate something good, too fast when we dread, and something we can't bring back when we mourn.

Lyrics

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I've looked around enough to know

That you're the one I want to go through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go through time with

© TIME IN A BOTTLE; CROCE PUBLISHING

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wouldn't it be great if we could Skype to Heaven?

Today I logged on to Skype for the first time and met a friend in real time - she was in AL and I am here in Phoenix. But we could see each other while we spoke and it was almost like she was right here in my office.
After we hung up, I thought how wonderful that would be if we could connect with our loved ones who have passed on that way.
Even for just a few minutes, what a blessing to be able to see a smile or hear a voice or share a laugh. When you have none of that, anything would be so precious. Memories will have to do, and photos and old videos, but it's not the same. What I would give for just a moment in time once more.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Sweetheart!

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of us from last Christmas. We took lots of pictures of the kids but none of us. We took ourselves for granted. If I could go back in time I would take pictures of every minute of our life together.
I miss my Baby so much.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Counting down the days

This week has been especially hard. Everyone kept telling me that the first Christmas without John would be difficult. I guess I had no idea just how right they were going to be.
I am counting down the days. But instead of counting the days until Christmas is here like everyone else, I am counting down the days until the day after Christmas, when life can go back to being ordinary. Or at least as ordinary as it can be for me. At least the day after Christmas won't be such a painful reminder that the one person who meant love and family for me is not here to share this special holiday with me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Christmas

What I am finding as I go through our pictures is that we didn't take nearly enough. Certainly not enough of each other. There seemed to be more pictures of "the kids" than anything else.
Christmas 2001
Christmas 2008 - Riley's First Christmas

Christmas 2008 - John loved getting tools for presents

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas memories

John - Christmas 1978 - our first
As I count the days down to Christmas, I am grateful for the memories of happy Christmases past with my Love.
Us - Christmas 1979

Monday, December 6, 2010

The holidays this year

Thanksgiving was hard and I am not looking forward to Christmas. Christmas was always a big holiday for us. Even if we just celebrated with just the two of us and "the kids", it was  a big deal. I decorated, we put up our stockings, I made food special for present-opening. We had a tradition that we opened our presents on Christmas Eve.
This year, I just can't face the decorations. There is no way I can look at John's stocking - the first time in over 30 years that I won't be putting it up.
Christmas 2001
I don't know what I will do on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve. Crawl into bed with the covers over my head and pray for January 1st sounds appealing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Sweetheart

Our first Thanksgiving dinner 1979
Today is our first Thanksgiving apart in over 30 years. Many Thanksgivings we spent just the two of us but it didn't matter. As long as we were together, everything was fine.
I am grateful for the life we had, for the love we shared, for the good times and the bad. Whatever came our way just made us stronger.
I am grateful for the friends we have who showed me love today; for the people who respected my need to spend the day alone and grieve in my own way but still let me know that they were there for me and loved me.
But most of all, John, I am grateful for you. My life is so much richer for having shared it with you these past thirty-four years. We went from colleagues, to friends, to lovers, to husband and wife, soul mates and best friends.
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Six months


Today marks 6 months since my Love went to Heaven. I know he is happy. I know he is in a good place. But I still miss him with every cell of my being. I tell myself things happen the way they are supposed to [John's favorite saying] and I am trying to be brave and walk my talk but this is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The upcoming holidays

I wish people understood more about how I feel about the holidays. I know my friends worry about me but I have to do this in my own way.
I keep getting invitations to parties and dinners and I know in my heart it is coming from a place of kindness and love and I appreciate it. I really do.
But I don't like to have to explain why I am saying no. I was never a party person before. I am not going to be that way now just because I am alone. And I certainly don't want to be anywhere where there are going to be nothing but couples. Not because I can't be someplace on my own. That's not it. I am an independent person. But being somewhere with couples just makes me miss John all the more and I don't want to be someplace where it's being shoved in my face that he's gone. Why can't people understand that? I miss John with every cell of my being. Why am I going to go to TDay dinner at someone's house and put on a phony happy face and then get sad and have someone tell me not to be sad. Am I making any sense?
I can't do things to please other people. Grief over John is the most personal thing I am doing. People have to respect that and let me do it my way. A friend told me she was afraid I am going to go into an emotional hole. Another friend confided to me last week that the first few weeks after John passed away she was afraid I was going to kill myself. I won't. As much as I wanted then and still do now want to be with him, I know that isn't the way to do it. And I won't go into a place where I can't climb out of. I have been through a lot in my life. Things that some people have no idea about [except John]. I know I will survive. I just don't want to. But I am also a responsible person and I know my mother-in-law and my babies are depending on me. I will always be here for them. I may not be in the best shape but I will be here.
I hate that I have to constantly be explaining myself. I know people mean well but I will be glad when these holidays are over. I feel like I need to wear a sign "Thank you for the invitation but the answer is No".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I just know no one can really understand

But it helps to write things out. Maybe in some way my mind feels that as long as something is written about my love some where, somehow, he's not gone. Of course, he will never be gone for me. But I want his life to have meant something, to memorialize him. I guess that's why I keep looking for pictures and plastering the walls with them. If I can see him, he's still here.
And to keep from going crazy because some days I think I just will.
I know I can't keep talking about him to people because it will turn them off, if it hasn’t already. I try to pace myself but I need to talk about him. He's still alive to me. He always will be. He's my other half, my better half. For half my life we have been JohnandJoy. I don’t know how to be – or want to be – just me, just Joy. JustJoy.
But I guess for other people he is gone. It’s over. Time to move on.
Except I can't. I never will. And I don’t care if that’s weird, or unhealthy, or whatever. It’s me. It’s us. I don’t think anyone ever had what we have/had. It only comes along once in a blue moon. We were lucky. And we knew it.
At least we knew it.
We appreciated what we had in each other. We were so blessed. I am so grateful for what we had.
I’ve lost more than my husband, my mate. I’ve lost my best friend, the person I could count on for everything no matter what. The person I trusted my life and soul with. The person I knew would always do right by me, who loved me unconditionally, and cared deeply about me above all else, even above himself. You don’t just forget that. You don’t “move on”. There is no getting over that.
I don’t want to get over it. Why would I?
I miss him so much. I do want to die. Not that I would do anything to bring that about. But nothing in this world matters to me. Not money. Not a friend. Not a sunset.
What are sunsets without you? What good is spending money if I can’t enjoy the fruits of it with you? I don’t care about anything. No one can understand the extent to which I JUST DON’T CARE.
All I want is my husband back and I can’t have that. Not like it was.
These feelings are so overwhelming, so devastating. I have never experienced anything like this before.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Missing my love so much today

I so wish we had had more time



Remember when thirty something seemed old
Now lookin' back, it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are,
where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when

Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
For all the life we've had
And we'll remember when

Thursday, November 11, 2010

There is no such thing as moving on

Yesterday I saw a friend I hadn't seen in quite a while. Literally over a year. I had thought about her often but she was a friend I only saw when I entered her store - she wasn't someone I socialized with yet I enjoyed her company and we chatted about many things as we did our business.
Anyway, I was glad to see her in the store when I entered yesterday and the inevitable "Hi, how are you?" came up.
I looked at her. "Not well," I answered. She immediately looked concerned. She was obviously afraid to ask why but wanted to. So I told her.
And then she said something that was the last thing I expected to hear. "I know exactly where you are right now. I lost my husband a year ago this summer." Sadly, a kindred soul.
So we talked about what we are both feeling, what we are both experiencing and how similar it was.
And we commiserated about the dumb things that people say in an effort to be helpful.
Like "you need to move on".
Just to let you know - there is no "getting over it and moving on". It's ridiculous. You don't move on from a loss like this. Things are different. Maybe you get used to "different" or at least learn to co-exist with it but it bothers me when people tell me I have to move on, that John would want me to.
To me moving on means getting past the person you are grieving. You don't ever do that. Not if you cared at all for that person.
Grief is personal and everyone does it differently. Every relationship is different too.
But if there was any relationship at all, you don't ever move on from it.  You just live the different life you have now. The life that doesn't have those people in it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Words

There are some words that are supposed to be associated with grief.
Survivor
Closure
Support
I hate them all.
I looked them up in the dictionary just to be sure I understood them properly.
A survivor is supposed to be “somebody who shows a great will to live or a great determination to overcome difficulties and carry on”.
Closure signifies an “ending”, a “finishing”.
And finally, support. Something to “prop” you up, “buoy” you up, “sustain” you.
Those definitions were not written to describe grief reactions. Not to me. Not by a long shot.
I do not feel like I want to carry on. I will never be finished grieving. And there is nothing that props me up and sustains me.
This grief is all consuming and showing no signs of letting go.
That’s all right. I honestly don’t care.
I think the extent to which I don’t care frightens some people so I find myself not being totally honest when I am asked how I am or how I am feeling.
Yesterday someone thought they were being understanding and acknowledged that it’s something you have to take “day by day”.
When I answered sometimes it’s really “hour by hour”, I could instantly see the change in her face. She didn’t want to hear that.
“Well, it takes time”, she said.
There isn’t enough time in the world to make this any better.
There is no “better”.
There is only the wish for it to be over. To rejoin John wherever he is.
And if that scares people, again, I just don’t care.
I am not suicidal. I will not end my life. But I do not enjoy the remnants of what my life has turned into.
Each day is just a reminder of being alive without John.
This man who was an absolute part of me as much as my heart or my arm or my head is not here anymore.
It’s as if I have had a body part amputated and the stump hangs there, bleeding still. And I experience phantom pain in the missing piece. So many times a day I start to tell him something or I find myself thinking I need to relate a story to him that I know he will enjoy and then the cold reality hits me that I can’t do that. There will be no more shared stories, no more inside jokes, no more anything.
My mate is gone. My soul mate is no longer here for me to hug and love and take care of and share with and just sit and be with.
No more.
No more.
No, I am not a survivor. I am just left standing. Alone. And scared. And wishing it weren’t so. Nothing buoys me up. And there will be no end to this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's the little things

It's the little things, the little daily reminders that hit me up side the head and make me realize over and over how much I miss John.  How much I will always miss John. How much he was a part of my life, our life. It's not that I can't do these little daily things. It's that I don't want to have to because it forces me to realize and tangibly experience my loss.
Yes, I can grind the coffee beans at night and prepare the coffeepot for the next day. But John used to do that. It was a simple act of love that he did every night. He knew I was the first one up in the morning [usually] and he made the coffee at night even if he wasn't going to work the next day. All I would have to do when I got up was hit the button and there would be coffee for me. Somehow, that coffee tasted better because he prepared it. Now I do it and it's not the same.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why this is so hard

Yoko Ono was recently interviewed about losing John Lennon and she actually admitted that she is still trying to get over it. It's been thirty years since he was gunned down. But she described why perfectly. She said "Well, it was very hard because it was a sudden thing that happened, he wasn't ill for a long time or anything, it's just, we were talking before that you know, and, it was very hard," she told Reuters, recalling the moment Lennon was shot outside his apartment building in New York on December 8, 1980.
That's how it is for me, too.
The last thing we talked about was how we were looking forward to going home the next morning, how we missed our "babies" [our cats and dogs] and couldn't wait to see them again, how good it would be to be with them. Then I woke up a couple of hours later and John was gone. No hint that he had been feeling bad or sick. In an instant, everything was changed and nothing would ever be the same. It's hard to lose your mate. It's harder still to lose your soul mate. It's the hardest when it happens suddenly.
I agree with Yoko - you don't ever get over that. Not really.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Grieve For Me

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free;
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call;
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way;
I found that place at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss;
Ah yes, these things, I too, will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow;
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief;
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me;
God wanted me now, He set me free.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Mourning

John always teased me that I was a thorough researcher. He said that when the time came for me to die, if I was faced with two doors and one said "Heaven" and the other said "Lecture on Heaven", I would go through the one that promised a lecture because I would want to make sure I knew all there was to know so I wouldn't miss out on anything.
I'm afraid he's right.
I know soon after John passed away I started reading all I could on what it meant to lose the most valuable person in my life. I tried the usual grief books but found them lacking. Not one seemed to understand quite what I was going through. None of them addressed the depth of my loss. No one talked about the crying that seemed to come from the soles of my feet and the bottom most pit of my stomach, the anguish that resembled an animal more than a person. I didn't read anything about the magnitude of how much I wanted to die that very minute so I could be wherever it was that John was. Reading about when it was time to give away John's clothes and when it was time to stop wearing his ring only made me want to toss the book across the room. If the author had been in front of me I would not have been polite.
The only books that gave me comfort and still do are books that talk about the afterlife. I have been obsessed with books written by mediums and psychologists who have done regressions.
I know in my heart I will be with John again and I know he is with me still.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sad

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
                         Mary Frye

Today I attended the funeral of a friend of John's. Last night I went to the viewing. It was at the same funeral home where John's had been back in May. I knew it would be hard. I did not realize how hard it would be.
Today I cried all through the service as if it were John's. Because in a sense it was. I grieved for the family knowing what they were facing, what the days and weeks and months ahead would be like. Experiencing the services put me instantly back to four months ago, bringing all the emotions back up as if they were happening right now.
Why did I go? Because I knew John would have gone if he were here. I guess I was doing it for him. I also felt he was going to be there in spirit and I wanted to feel that we were doing this together. Call me crazy but I know he was there for his friend. I wanted to be there with him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grief

My Love was suddenly ripped from me in the early morning on May 24, 2010 and for the last four months, anything I could think of to say seemed anticlimactic.
But maybe because some time has passed, I want to try to put into words what I am feeling. So many people ask me how I am and I struggle to answer. Honestly, I don't think they want to know. If I truly shared how I am I fear they would never ask again.
It has been suggested that I join a bereavement group. It's not something I see myself doing. I just don't feel like sharing. Don't know why except I just feel what I am feeling is private and I don't want it up for discussion with people I don't know.
I also have decided to stop sharing with just about anyone. I know it's a pain to hear what I have to say. I know people are probably sick of it by now and I understand that.
I'm a downer. People don't know what to say, what to do. I make them feel helpless and it's not what people want to hear or feel.
It's OK. I can do this by myself. I know technically I'm not alone. John's here. No, I'm not being crazy. I know he's passed on but we were too close to let death separate us.
It's been four months now and people have their own lives. It's all right. I'll be OK.
If I do share how I feel at this point all I get is "Time will heal, make it better." or "You need to move on."
Yeah, I get that. But unless you have had your heart ripped out in an instant and everything you had planned for your future with the only person in this world who mattered to you was taken away without so much as a hint of warning no one has any idea what I am feeling.
I'm not criticizing them. I'm not saying I have the mourning market cornered and I am the only one going through this.
What I am saying is that platitudes don't work and they don't help. In fact, platitudes make me angry.
No one can know what this feels like.
This feels so bad I would not even wish it on someone I didn't like.
Yes, a bereavement group would be made up of other people going through the same thing and that might be useful. But everyone's relationship is different. Knowing someone else feels the same way as I do doesn't really help me.
So, they feel that way too. So, I'm normal. I get it.
Now what?
See what I'm saying?
I just need to do this my own way. I need to do it the way it makes me feel all right. If that means keeping John's slippers under the dresser and keeping his name on the checking account, then that's what I'm going to do.
John's death has changed me. It's the most profound change I will ever go through in my life. I am never going to be old Joy. She's gone. Whatever Joy I turn into now is going to be changed by my experience. That's true of all of us. We are the sum of our parts, our experiences. And this experience is the biggest there is for me.
It may not be a bad Joy that I turn into, but it's going to be a different Joy.
It pisses me off when people look at me and tell me [like some do] that I seem better. To me what I hear is that I'm "getting over" John's death and things can go back to the way they were.
No, they will never go back to the way they were. Things are different now.
They will always be different now. Most people don't understand that. Because most people are threatened by that. Because it could happen to them too. And that's very scary.
Is there a point to this blog entry? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it's just good to get it out.

John Collins 1943 - 2010


My sweet sweet love, my life, my soulmate has died. I will not say he is gone. He will never be gone. But he is no longer here with me in this physical world.
John and I just recently started getting Social Security checks and he qualified for Medicare and we often remarked to each other "How did these words creep into our vocabulary? Weren't we just flower children recently?"
Yet, now the words viewing and funeral and cremation are words I have had to utter. I am numb. I feel as if my heart has been plucked out of my chest. There is not an inch of this house that doesn't remind me of him.
We always told each other that we were true soulmates. That may sound trite but it was true. We both remembered the instant we first laid eyes on each other. It was as if our souls recognized each other. Why else would it have had such an impact on us?
I was offered the opportunity to say a few words of remembrance at his Requiem Mass but I knew I could never get through it so one of the women of the Church read it for me and did a beautiful job.
I want to leave those words here.

John was truly the love of my life and it is very hard to put the depth of my feelings right now into words so I’m going to just do the best I can.

My John was a kind and very loving man as I am sure all of you know. A testament to that is your presence here today honoring his life. What struck me time and again when I told people about his passing was how everyone always remarked about John’s quick smile and his hearty laugh. John loved life. Yet, John always told me he was not afraid to die. He knew there was unbounded Love waiting to receive him. He taught me that. He taught me a lot and I am so grateful to have had the life I did with him. I ache that it was so short. We had 32 years together but twice that would not be enough. We loved each other very much. I never doubted his love for a minute. It was my one constant in life with him. My only solace is that he is at peace now and I have eternity to spend with him when my time comes.