The Beginning!

Have friends and family ever told you that you should write a book? This has happened to me more times than I can count. I am not sure if that should make me feel good or bad about my life. Probably horrified.  However, it’s true. I should write it down, I should put this wicked wild life into words – for me, for my girls, and for all of us.

None of us goes thru life unaffected, stress and drama free. Some of us seem to have more than our share of bullshit to handle. And it’s hard when that is the case – life is not fair. I have been telling my 3 children that since before they were even able to understand what that meant. It is so true. Life is hard and it is not fair.

One of my favorite cartoons ever is Calvin & Hobbes and my favorite strip of all is when the little boy, Calvin,  is told that life is unfair and he responds, “But why is it never unfair in my favor?” That is one that I struggle with a lot. And I am certain that it sometimes is fair in my favor. I am so grateful for all the good in my life: I have 2 wonderful parents, an amazing brother, good friends and 3 brilliant and kind daughters. I have been loved by a few amazing, complicated men. I have had some stellar jobs and career experiences,  I have traveled a bit and lived all over the country. I have also experienced a lot of hard stuff: I was adopted as a baby – which is a huge blessing in my life but has presented its own set of emotional issues. I was bullied as a child and that impacted me for life. I was in a relationship with a wonderful man for 15 years who was an alcoholic – a lot of that time in recovery, but all of that time a difficult  personality. I have become a widow and an only parent of 2 girls in an instant, and have lived thru deep, complicated grief. I managed the pregnancy of my third daughter on my own after my husband died. I have been flat broke, unemployed and fired. 2 of my girls have significant learning differences and another has suffered with anxiety and depression.

I have struggled with finding my way as an only parent and a suddenly single woman these past 10 years – and I have come up empty again and again. I have also come up a winner at times, and at times my bucket is overflowing with kindness and love from my tribe. But it has been a struggle – every damn day. I have found my way through by searching for the light inside of myself and by simply putting one foot in front of the other, one minute at a time. I don’t know what I’m doing – its a shit show most of the time.

I think I need to share the experiences of my life because I know that they are often shared experiences and because they are all of our experiences. And also because it’s some wild stuff. The more we can understand each others journeys, the more we can appreciate each other and find the strength to move thru the bullshit and get to the good shit. I want to write to get it all out of me and try to make some sense of it all. So I am going to write and I am going to delve deep into my life and my heart. If you care to read what I write, please keep reading. If you do not, completely OK. If you feel like sharing with others, via social media or email, that would be excellent too. I hope to hear from those who read this blog and find pieces that resonate with them. I have been told to write the same way that I talk – which can sometimes be colorful and swearful. If you are easily offended, read it anyway. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement and the support you give to me and to my girls. I am blessed beyond measure – even when I am saying, “What the fuck?” for the two hundredth time.

A little unexpected detail

A week or so after my husband’s funeral, after all the family had gone home and my two girls were back in school, I was trying to get to some sort of new normal. I had some time alone, which was starting to feel welcome, and I had time to think quietly about all that had happened the previous few weeks – to process it as I was coming out of the shock and awe of Steve’s sudden death. Taking life “one minute at a time” – which is still my biggest piece of advice for those suffering through a loss or other trauma. Sometimes one day at a time is too much to handle really.  In this time of  silence and pensiveness, the realization came that something was not quite right. Well, obviously, nothing was quite right at the time. But this was something in particular – my period was late. And it never was late. I bravely took a pregnancy test and five to eight minutes later, just one line appeared – it was negative. I breathed a huge sigh of…not relief exactly. I think I was sad as well as relieved. Steve and I had just decided to try for another baby two months earlier after being certain we were done for several years. My girls were 4 and 6 at the time and had been asking for a baby brother or sister. That’s not really why we decided to try but it helped to push us along. Steve and I had just gone through a monumental experience together in August, a series of events that brought us closer than ever before. An experience that was scary as hell and downright transformative. Our marriage was stronger for it and we felt like having another baby at this point in our lives just made sense and felt really right. So when I saw the negative test result, I was relieved to not be expecting and have to raise not 2 but 3 children on my own. But I was also a little melancholy and upset – the opportunity to have a baby and a little more of Steve died with him.

Fast forward to 3 days later. I was taking a shower – yes, it had been at least 3 days since I showered (early widowing is not known for showering and self-care). The pregnancy test that I had taken a few days earlier was still on the window sill in my bathroom. I glanced at it, then rinsed the shampoo out of my eyes and picked it up and looked at it again – very closely. There were two lines in the little rectangular window now. Two. One line means not pregnant, two means holy shit. I got out of the shower, took my youngest to preschool and raced to the drugstore where I bought not just one but 3 pregnancy tests. I went home and took them all. All three said positive, said pregnant, said holy shit. I was so barely pregnant when I took that first test that it took a while for it to register the truth. I would say it took a while for me to register the truth as well. I sat down for a long few minutes and simply stared at those damn tests. I couldn’t even understand what I was seeing. Could. Not. I immediately called my close friend Amy. This is the same woman that I had woken from a deep sleep a few weeks earlier with a 7am phone call and the words, “Steve died last night” and she said, “Oh shit. I’ll be right there”.  This time, she answered the phone and I said, “What are you doing?” And she started to say, “Not much – I am working on…” and I rudely cut her off so fast. I said, “Can you come over right now?” I think she was in my driveway in 45 seconds – and she lived a good 5 minutes away. She pulled in on two wheels, came into the house, saw me sitting on the floor and said “What’s Up?” in a nervous, cautious kind of way (my calls would go on to make her nervous to answer the phone for years). I was sitting on the couch and pointed her to the kitchen, where my test was lying on the counter in all its glory. I asked her to tell me what she saw. She came out of the kitchen, a little pale and stunned, and affirmed what I already knew but couldn’t wrap my head around. I was pregnant. With my 3rd child. And my husband was dead. I’m sorry, but – WHAT? We sat on the floor and stared at the test together for a very long time – crying, despairing, laughing. I had these two huge conflicting tectonic plates of information in my brain – my husband was gone, I was grieving, my children and family and friends were grieving. And – I was going to have a baby. Alone. Without a husband, without a dad. It was inconceivable and yet it was true, it was here and it was my new “normal”.