As I sit here reflecting on 2018, I ask myself, “What would I do differently? What would I change? How could I have been better?” I don’t have exact answers. It was a year of happy moments, a year of loss, a year of ups, downs, and all the in-betweens. It was LIFE. Every day presented something new. A challenge. An obstacle. Joy. Stress. Family. Friendship. Laughter. Love. But, each day was an opportunity to grow. To learn. To become better. To be kind. Compassionate. Patient. Empathic. Nurturing. And grateful. Always grateful. Not for “things.” But for the people we are so blessed to have in our lives. The people who fill our hearts. We so often take these people for granted. We forget. And just go about our daily business. But it’s important to stop and take a moment. I’m not sure I did that quite enough. So I’m reminding myself now. And I remind myself every day. So maybe it’s not what I’d change. I do it. But I want to do it better. Stop. Be in the moment. Enjoy. LIVE this life. We are only here for a moment. 2019. Bring it on. It’s “neither an end nor a beginning but a going on.” And I’m ready to keep going.
4 years. 48 months. 1440 days. 34,560 hours. 2,073,600 minutes. 124,416,000 seconds. An eternity. An instant. Forever. A flash. Time. Gone. From earth to shining star. In heaven. August 30th, 2014.
August 29th. Our life was magical. Vacation. Maui. Beautiful. Magical. Sunshine. Family. Laughter. And love. Perfect. And in a moment. Gone. My love. Husband. Father. Brother. Friend. Gone. Our lives. Our love. Our magic. One moment. Lives changed. Forever. How? Why? There are no answers. Reasons. Even logical explanations. We can’t imagine. We don’t think it will happen. In the moment, it seems impossible. It did for me. We take for granted. We live. We breathe. And one day. We don’t. It was time. Gregger’s time. And we had to accept. We live every day having to accept. But. With acceptance comes growth. Strength. Courage. And the will to keep living. “Death taught me more about living than life ever did.” Gregger’s death opened my eyes. It made “death” real.
Gregger taught me great lessons in life. Kindness. Humility. Generosity. But. My “real” is constantly evolving. Gratitude. Acceptance. Courage. Patience.
• Life is short. Nothing lasts forever. “Life is like a rainbow. The light and rain form its beauty, and then it fades. The gold is the shared journey and the profound expression of our lives.”
• Be present. Today is the best day because it is Now. It is here. Live it. Don’t lose moments.
• Don’t wait. For whatever it is in your life. Focus on today. Be grateful for what is here right now. Do what makes you happy.
• Accept imperfections. Vulnerability. And just be the best version of you.
Gregger: If I could have just one more day you know what I would do? I’d hold your hand tighter. Hug you harder. Talk incessantly. Until your ears couldn’t handle anymore. I’d tell you how you filled my life with love, laughter, joy, and a little heartache. I’d tell you how lucky I was to have “our perfect.” I’d tell you how people miss you. Your light. Your laughter. Your grace. I’d tell you about your kids. Each one exhibiting virtues to honor you. And Baby Cruz Greyson. Your namesake. I see you. In him. His eyes. His smile. A light. A joy. A blessing. You must know. For you are his angel.
Today we celebrate you. Cheers. To a life well lived. You left a legacy behind. A legacy based on love, integrity, generosity, and kindness. We will carry on. My heart is yours. Forever. Peace and love.
Here we go. Year 5…
Moving on. I thought it would get easier. It didn’t. I slipped. I skidded. I stopped. I shut down. And I just couldn’t write anymore.Thoughts would spin inside my head, but they wouldn’t reach my fingertips. They stopped. Somewhere. Jumbled. I was too empty. Too lonely. Too alone. Stress was pulling me down. And I had nowhere to go. I kept reaching for Gregger. But he wasn’t there. And I realized he never would be. Ever again. The finality of it all. Scary. Sad. Detached. Should I share that raw emotion? People saw me as strong. Brave. Overcoming the worst of the worst. How could I go backwards? So I shut down. I buried myself inside my head.
I found solace in the space of my car. Music. Special songs. And I remembered. Tears would roll down my cheeks. Sometimes I’d sob uncontrollably. But it was my safe haven. Every morning. And then I’d walk into one of my “happy places” to work out. The tears were replaced by a smile. Fake? Maybe. I put on my “happy face.” No one knew. No one knew what was brewing inside. The turmoil. The heartache. The pain. I learned I could turn it on. And turn it off. I could allow myself to be sad. And then give myself space to be happy. It worked. I wasn’t burying emotions. I wasn’t hiding from them. I wasn’t burdening anyone. I was carrying the weight. But then I was letting it go. It wasn’t always easy, but, for the time being, it worked. And I hung on.
I just felt so stuck. I moved through the motions. I woke up. Got ready. Took care of puppy, Angel. Worked out. Incessantly. Ran errands. Came home. Watched TV. Stupid shows. Went to bed. Woke up. Repeated. Over and over. Again and again. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t do anything that required brain function. Concentration. Didn’t work. I was stuck. So I shut down. This was where I stayed for quite a while, until…
to be continued…
So my blogs have been all over the place lately. I’ve been up, down, over, under, and sideways. I’ve wanted to write and then I’m blocked. The words just don’t come. Or the ones that do, I don’t like. I don’t like what’s on the paper. I write. I delete. And I end up with a blank page. For weeks, maybe longer, it felt negative. Sad. I couldn’t put that out there. Not after I had spent more than a year writing about gratitude, positivity, strength. I felt like a liar. I wasn’t living my words. I knew that was okay. But it felt weak. I wrote about fear. All true. Part of the journey. But in the past week I’ve tried to refocus my energy. My thoughts. My intentions. Numerous, yet unrelated events have led me to this place. I believe the universe keeps putting “things” in my path. Reminders. People. Signs. Whatever these “things” are, they are bringing me back. Back to a better place. A place of peace. Within myself.
This past week Facebook sent me a beautiful reminder of the blessings and joyous moments in my life. Three years, five years, seven years ago. Love. Family. Together. Celebrations. Travel. So blessed. Memories that evoke smiles. Heartwarming hugs from the inside out. Instead of missing what I don’t have, I’m focusing on what I did have. How lucky I was. These are the gifts that keep on giving. I can pull them from my memory bank. Spark a smile. A warm fuzzy feeling.
I am reminding myself why I started writing in the first place. Honor Gregger’s memory. Our life together. And to help me move on. So I’ve been stuck. It’s part of the journey. I will get stuck again. I’m sure of it. But I’m learning. Accepting. Not getting caught up. Not thinking “failure.” It’s okay. It’s life. And tomorrow’s another day. Another day to get it right. Or just do it another way. Whatever works. Just try.
I’ve met so many along this journey. Everyone has a story. Something. You never know the life a person has lived until you are in their shoes. Never judge. You never know their pain. Or their sadness. Smile at them. Talk to them. You never know how a kind word can brighten someone’s day. So many strangers have brightened mine. And I hope I’ve returned the favor without even knowing. But these stories opened my eyes. I’m not alone. So I can grieve. I can be sad. But I can also be happy. Move on. And focus on today. Because I can’t change the past. I can’t control the future. I can only be in the moment. And make the best of whatever that happens to be. So for today, I’ll make it a good one. I hope you do too. Happy Sunday!
So it’s coming to me in tiny pieces. This grief journey. It’s confusing as hell. One minute I think I’ve got it. And suddenly. It’s gone. Starting over. Stuck. The beginning was easy. I knew what I had to do. Be strong. Act strong. Good choice. If I act it, I’ll be it. And it worked. Got me through the worst of days. I did believe. I still do. But it’s changed. My thoughts are spot on. I say the “right” things. But my head and heart just aren’t in synch. “Everything happens for a reason.” “I was blessed to have almost 40 beautiful years.” “We were blessed to all be together.” “Gregger would have wanted it this way.” Yada, yada, yada. But you say those words over again and again, and soon they lose meaning. Purpose. Did I believe them anymore? What was the reason? A year and a half later, I still don’t know.
But I’m getting there. Fear. “Mama angel” asked me, “What are you afraid of?” I didn’t have an answer. Nothing. Don’t know. Everything. But then I realized. I’m scared as hell. Fear is holding me back. From EVERYTHING. Fear of being happy. Again. Fear of putting my toes in the water. Fear of stepping outside my comfort zone. Fear of walking on my street. Fear of seeing “that dog.” “Those people.” Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing. Fear of letting go. Fear of being hurt. So staying stuck is safe. No risk, no worry.
As I write, I realize another fear. Fear of exposure. Will I publish this? Everyone will know. I will expose myself as weak. But this is the first part of the journey. Getting out. Moving on. Getting over. Escaping the fear of what others think. I read that fear shows up when you’re “growing or going where you dream of.” I don’t know what I dream of, but I know I’m growing. Learning. Every day. So fear has wrapped its arms around me. I just need to break free. Maybe one finger at a time. But I’ll do it. I need to stop running. Or start. Just running in the right direction.
To be continued…
Sometimes I want to rewrite my story. Or maybe just make one up. For the times I meet new people. Or strangers. I think about this a lot. Especially lately. So much loss. So much sadness. Do people really care? But my story defines me. It’s who I am. I don’t want pity. Hugs are nice. But I feel funny. Especially when strangers feel they need to give one. Did I say something to make someone feel sorry for me? I don’t mean to. Ugh! It’s just my story. It’s sad. But the truth. And this truth sucks. Loss. Sadness. Loss. Again. First Gregger. Love of my life. Then Lucy. My savior. Sweetness. So what’s my choice? Lie? Don’t say anything? I fight to hold the words in. Sometimes I do. But my insides ache. I walk away feeling empty. As if words were left unsaid. But why?
The other day I was shopping with Angel. People stop me. Can we see her? Hold her? What’s her name? How old? Your first Yorkie? I feel compelled to explain. I cannot dismiss Lucy. My heart is aching. So the story spills out. And then comes the hug. Poor me. NO! I’m just me. I just have a story. Yes, it’s sad. But, it’s part of me. I’m here. I’m moving forward. And I’m not ready to let it go. So it pours out. I need a t-shirt. A hat. “Angel’s Mom,” “Moving On,” “Picking up the Pieces.” I don’t know.
I get my struggle. When an athlete stops playing their sport, what defines him/her? Someone asks, “What do you do?” And they say, “Well, I played this or that.” But they often struggle with the “now.” They know what they “were,” but finding the “now” is tough. My life identified me. A wife, a mom, daughter, sister, friend. But always Gregger’s wife. He was my half. My better half. I can’t let him go. Yet. So I tell the story. I lost my husband. I am not just single. I am a WIDOW. No husband. But. There is a difference. And it matters to me. My husband isn’t just gone. He didn’t just leave. He didn’t choose to leave. I didn’t choose for him to leave. And the worst part. He isn’t coming back. Or walking through the door. Anytime. He is gone. Forever. He is dead.
A widow. Still “sort of” married. Just married to someone in a “different place.” That defines me. It is my story. And that is the story I need to share. So as my journey continues, I am a widow. A widow trying to move to a new happy place. Whatever that may be.
I was watching “Grey’s Anatomy” last night. Tearjerker. Life threatened. Heartache. And pain. Some may think it sappy. Overdone. Washed up. But the message was strong. Forgiveness. Of others. Those who hurt us. And ourselves. While Meredith was struggling to survive and overcome devastating injuries, she was faced with a greater battle. Forgive those who had beaten her. Left her. Hurt her. Anger is easier. Hate is simpler. Forgiveness is hard. But in the end, the one who doesn’t forgive is the loser.
Her beloved Derek had died last season. Unexpectedly. Before his time. Before “their” time. She went back to life. But the anger flared. I understand. Webber advised her to forgive herself. She was angry. At Derek. Not just for dying. But for dying too soon. Leaving her. Alone. I got it. The pain. The anger. The hurt. Tears streamed down my cheeks. It was as if he were talking to me. Through the airwaves. I am still mad at Gregger. How dare he? We had a whole life to live. Plans. Travel. A life to spend together. We were just getting started. And he cheated me. I don’t say that often. I am strong. Right? But maybe I’m not. I don’t say this often enough. And maybe I should. Maybe it’s the way to move on. Because lately, I just feel stuck. Maybe I need to forgive myself for being angry at him. For leaving me way too soon. And he did. I still go to the “what if’s.” I know I shouldn’t. But I do. What if we had gone on vacation somewhere else? What if he hadn’t gone snorkeling that day? What if I had made him walk with me on the beach instead? What if? What if? What if? I beat myself. Over and over and over again. But forgiveness is the key. I can’t go back. I know that. My brain knows that. But my heart isn’t there yet. They need to catch up. With each other.
So as sappy as it may be, thank you “Grey’s.” Thank you for the reminder. Forgiveness. I need to forgive, to let go. To move on. To live. Really live. Not in the past. The present. And I know that’s where Gregger would want me to be. So for today and tomorrow and I will…
- Release the guilt. Let it fly. It’s a heavy weight holding me down.
- Focus on the joy. The memories. The happy times.
- And recognize that letting go of hurt does not diminish my love for Gregger. Choosing to live, laugh and love again does not mean I love him any less. It may even mean I love him more. Because my heart is free. Of pain. Guilt. Anger. Hurt. Free to feel. Once again.
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
I am ready to enlarge my future. So for today, I forgive. Me.
Valentine’s Day. A day of love. Hugs. Kisses. Cards. Sentiments. Roses. Chocolates. Happiness. And couples. A day to remind me what I’ve lost. What I’m missing. Love. Hugs. Kisses. Gregger. OR, a day to remember. What I had. What we had. Love. Respect. Commitment. We were lucky. I believe we would have made it to the very end. Our fairytale end. We survived the bumps and bruises. More than we could count. But every bump made us stronger. Wiser. And more in love. So it’s not what I’m missing. It’s what I remember. The good. The great. The best. We didn’t need a “Hallmark holiday” for love. We simply tried to live it.
- Communicate. Listen. Don’t just “hear” the words. No phones. No texts. Real talk. Look in each other’s eyes. Say the words. Feel. Understand. The way to the heart.
- Respect. Agree to disagree. But respect the disagreement. Arguing with respect is okay. Arguing with anger gets you nowhere.
- Embrace the imperfections. Nothing is perfect. Not your spouse. Or marriage. Someday those “imperfections” may be what you miss most. I do.
- Stay committed. Commitment is serious business. If it’s worth fighting for, fight. Giving up is easy.
- Make time. For each other. No distractions. Just the two of you. It’s so easy to put this on the back burner. Bottom of the totem pole. Move it to the top. It’s worth it.
- Put “we” before “me.” Give more, get more. You both come out ahead. Be selfless, not selfish. The payoff is priceless.
- Share, celebrate, enjoy the moments. Don’t pass up joyful opportunities. Celebrate everything. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Christmas. New Years. Valentine’s Day. Fourth of July. And everything in between. For 38 years we celebrated them all. No regrets. And memories galore. You never know when it could be the last. So celebrate. Enjoy. And cherish the moments.
- Share life. Whatever that means to you. But do it together. You don’t have to do everything, but find something. Share love. Share life. Share time. It’s precious.
Last year I said that Gregger and I called this a “Hallmark holiday.” True. We didn’t need a special day to declare our love. Or remind us to love each other. With flowers. Candy. Cards. But, just like last year, I would give ANYTHING for Gregger to be my Valentine. An “I love you” in the morning. Another in the afternoon. And several more at night. But it won’t be. I will hold onto memories. Remember. And cherish what we had. I will look to the stars. Find one that shines a bit brighter. And blow a kiss directly to him. These holidays are tough. They don’t get any easier. Maybe someday. So I wish all of you love. Hold your loved ones a little tighter. Be kind. And cherish the moments. They are so very precious. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Happy Birthday, Gregger! #62! Today we celebrate YOU! Not the life you lost. But the life you LIVED! The love you shared. The joy you radiated. Your smile. Your laughter. Your grace and humility. A son. Brother. Father. Husband. And friend. Everyone’s friend. Those lucky enough to cross your path loved you. Minutes, days, years, or a lifetime. A shake of your hand, a smile, a kind word. You touched peoples’ hearts. You left a mark. So we celebrate YOU.
2012…We celebrated at Dominick’s and went to Old Town to party with the young folk! What the heck were we thinking? I don’t think we lasted very long. Our ears couldn’t take it! But we laughed. Loved. And cheered.
2013…San Diego. Park Hyatt Aviara. Food tasting for Ashley and Tyler’s fabulous wedding! Didn’t get much better than that! Until…
2014…#60! I will hang onto this memory. FOREVER! Our last birthday. Best one yet! In forty years I never pulled off a surprise. Much less a BIG one! But I got you. And I got you good. After lying in a hospital bed for a week, you never suspected I’d be up for anything, much less a party. Your “real” birthday was quiet. No big shebang. You worked tirelessly at home all day. Orders. Ryan stopped by before work. I felt guilty. I didn’t want you to be disappointed. But I knew what was in store. The weekend. I made your favorite dinner. Chicken parm. Baked potato. Jamesons. Dairy Queen. Quiet night. But it was good. Better was yet to come. We had a “date” night Saturday. Old friends. Great friends. I needed your car. You loved when I drove you to work. I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. It wasn’t. More time to be together. Lucky me. I was a wreck. This day seemed like forever. We got to the restaurant. I could barely control my shaking hands, much less my trembling heart. We headed back, hand in hand. You were ready to watch the Suns game. I’ll never forget the shock when you saw those bleachers stacked high. Friends and family shouting, “Happy Birthday, Gregger!” But the surprises didn’t end there. First Ashley and Tyler. Jeff and Keena. Your bromance, David. And my sis, Suzy. Overwhelming. Love. Joy. A celebration of YOU. It was time. Little did I know that 7 months later I would be “celebrating” your life in a whole different way. This was good. Great. We danced. Laughed. And just let go. We Had Fun. You even said, “This is the 6th best night of my life.” I wasn’t offended. I knew where that stood. And 6th was GREAT. It ranked right where it should. Behind births and weddings. I got it. You were so right.
So now I continue to celebrate YOU. The YOU that makes me smile. Makes my heart beat a little bit faster. And makes tears fall when I try holding them back. My soulmate. My best friend. Thank you for blessing me with your love. I can only hope you felt blessed with mine too. Happy Birthday, Gregger. With Jameson’s in hand, Cheers to you my love! You made this world a better, brighter, happier place. And today it is sparkling! I love you!
I believe in angels. I believe they “show up” when I’m seeking guidance. Comfort. Support. Sometimes nothing. But I believe. Angels guide me in the direction of truth. Awareness. Light. Faith. A rainbow. Clouds. A penny from heaven. Music. Or messages that repeat over and over. Whatever the shape, size, or entity, I just know. My angel is there. So I listen.
These past three weeks have been the second toughest of my life. Fighting the fight with my baby girl, Lucy. Reliving the horror of her attack. Evoking memories of Gregger’s passing in Hawaii. It all blended together. One after the other. I tried to find answers. Blank. Nothing. I kept sinking into a deep abyss of sadness. My heart ached. I felt empty. I couldn’t find my way out. I didn’t know if I would find my way. I didn’t know if I deserved to find my way. Maybe staying in the abyss was safer. I couldn’t really get hurt at the bottom. It seemed so unfair. But life isn’t fair.
And then my Angel came to me. Not in the form of rainbows, clouds, pennies, or songs. But in a tiny, furry body. Big, brown eyes. Perky ears. 1 pound, 14 ounces. Angel. There was an empty place in my heart. And she is filling it again. Her warm, wet nose. Her sweet kisses. Her snuggles. Some may think it is too soon. I hesitated telling people. What would they think? I’ve always worried more about others than myself. I’ll be selfish this time. I needed her.
I will never be “over” Lucy. She comforted me during my darkest moments. Renewed a spirit I believed was lost forever. I will always love her. Angel is not replacing her. But she is filling a void in my heart. A void in my life. I want to smile. Feel joy. She gives me a purpose. A reason to wake up. To come home. Love. She is my Angel. And she represents the beautiful “angels” who left this earth far too soon.