phases of me

//

{the phases of me in the story of my husband’s death}

1/ the me in my final moments with my husband before he left, the goodbye that I didn’t know was actually goodbye. he kissed my left cheek twice in a row and then rubbed my upper outer arms up and down and told me he was just trying to reassure me. he had gone to bed early tired, and this was the second time i had found him awake in the living room overnight saying he couldn’t sleep because his stomach was hurting. this final time was 4:30am. I don’t remember what I said in return after he said he was just trying to reassure me. I didn’t know what he meant and thought he was trying to get me not to worry about him not sleeping. I went back to bed to get some more sleep not of course knowing he snuck out the front door and drove away in the dark with his phone turned off about thirty minutes later.

  • Name: unassuming worried naive grouch who just needed more sleep. Wisdom: love is not all knowing no matter how deep and true it is.

2/ the me that couldn’t find him anywhere at 7:29am and knew immediately something was wrong, yet having no idea he was on a road trip driving three thousand miles to the farthest nw corner of america.

  • Name: silent screamer on high alert all throughout my body. Wisdom: there is only so much you can do at any given moment no matter how much you care

3/ the me that only slept 3 ½ hours the first six days he was missing.

  • Name: terrorized wife and mother in flight or fight mode constantly. Wisdom: the human body can survive extreme conditions we never thought we would face

4/ the me that called the police and filed a missing persons report in which they misquoted me and said I thought my husband had recently shown signs of depression, and that misquote hit the local news and newspaper.

  • Name: angry teary-eyed bitch. Wisdom: people sometimes push agendas onto the grieving to make themselves look and feel better

5/ the me that began having panic attacks for the first time ever.

  • Name: a little girl scared out of her mind and body. Wisdom: the body always speaks the truth, especially when the mouth can’t open wide

6/ the me that farmed out the children and tried to explain that maybe daddy was having a midlife crisis and just needed time away to think.

  • Name: wishful thinking denier. Wisdom: the kids needed to be shielded

7/ the me that never allowed suicide to enter as a blip on my radar of possibility of what was wrong. I thought the worst case scenario was that he wanted a divorce and we would co- parent well because he is such a kind man and we still loved each other.

  • Name: denial B sides. Wisdom: the he that I knew never considered it as an option either, he wasn’t himself anymore

8/ the me when the two strange cops came to the door at 6pm on the eighteenth day and told me very coldly on my front porch that my husband mr. wood had been found deceased in nevada by a gunshot wound to the head.

  • Name: holy shit mother of the god I don’t believe in. Wisdom: grievers shouldn’t have to educate and advocate all the fucking time

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9/ the me that locked everyone out of the house and gathering my children on each side of me on the living room couch and told them their dada was dead while my older sister sat nearby.

  • Name: having entered hell on earth. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

10/ the me that sat overlooking a lake and somehow wrote a goodbye poem to him to be read at his military honors service.

  • Name: the great sadness melting my bones. Wisdom: love transcends all time and space and knowing

11/ the me that helped my children say goodbye to the body of their father in a casket and show them his right foot so our youngest would know for sure it was really him, because his hair was cut and colored and he looked like someone else we didn’t know.

  • Name: a wide awake nightmare I was sleepwalking through. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

12/ the me that went to nevada with the kids and father in law to talk to the detective that was first on the scene, clean out his impounded car, meet the citizen who actually found his body, and then to see where he died and paint a rock that his body was leaning upon.

  • Name: the love child of the twilight zone and an alternate universe. Wisdom: you can go into that dark place and kiss the ground and cry tears of blood and make it back out alive

13/ the me that never found any note but I wish I had found piles of letters for each child.

  • Name: raging tsunami. Wisdom: I know what he would’ve said if he could’ve said it, I know.

14/ the me with some factual probable answers mixed up with strange facts and odd particulars that only leave more questions.

  • Name: mad scientist. Wisdom: not everything can be known fully, or everyone, even that one

15/ the me as a solo parent.

  • Name: juggler and expert ball dropper. Wisdom: I am somehow enough even as I feel maimed and missing vital parts

16/ the me on two anxiety meds twice daily just to function on a decent level.

  • Name: dissociative dating sex bomb. Wisdom: people are fascinating and many are stupid jerks but touch and sex can really help the constant ache of cell deep grief

17/ the me mothering my oldest as he came out to me four ½ months after his Dad died.

  • Name: achy clueless anchor. Wisdom: a child knows themselves better than you know them. Believe them.

18/ the me losing two homes and moving out of state to attempt some kind of new start where we had never lived before.

  • Name: whirlwind survival mama. Wisdom: the stranger on the inside needed a strange land to live in, so that the inside matched the outside to bring some equilibrium

19/ the me that is sitting in darkness with some dusk evening light seeping in while birds chirp and dogs lay sleeping.

  • Name: tentatively hopeful. Wisdom: the silence isn’t always screaming now

20/ the me that doesn’t know me anymore, that doesn’t know the person that was born from this tearing away.

  • Name: Stranger in my skin. Wisdom: I would throw it all away to have him back but somehow the metamorphosis has some beautiful wings that are fluttering open and that slays me and bandages me all in the same movement. How can this be?

{zt 2019}

**inspired in part by prompts from isabel abbott**

a constant goodbye

//

it’s a constant goodbye,
saying goodbye to you

it’s in the saturday morning coffees,
and the chili you aren’t here to taste and adjust it’s flavors. you were always a better cook than me.

it’s in the quiet moments as i hear my own breath and i try to imagine you being where i turn my head and look

it’s in the late afternoons wishing the door would open and i would hear your voice saying, “hi honey, i’m home.”

it’s in the evening couch time as i surf to find a show and you aren’t here to debate with and finally decide and then mute the violent parts for me because you just know.

it’s in the late night teen chattiness and little man snuggles where you aren’t here to give your incredible insight or wrap your arms around your kids and hold them tight.

it’s in the silence, your voice was loud and deep and carried throughout the house.

it’s in the moments i cry doing dishes and washing clothes, because you have no more dishes, no more clothes, because you aren’t here with us doing the mundane parts of life that need cleaning up.

it’s in the doctor’s offices where your input is needed, where i desperately need to know what to say or to just know i’m not alone in facing this for myself, or alone in facing this with him.

it’s a constant goodbye in the rising sun, the setting sun, and all the moments in between. the unsaid moments, the unsayable moments, the dark moments and the light ones.

it’s a constant goodbye because goodbye was never said, not really, although we tried at the very end, but the body and heart knew we were just going through the motions and the truth is goodbyes were really unable to happen. you were gone before we even knew you were leaving.

it’s a constant goodbye,
a constant love.

{zt}

tentative hope

//

barefoot boys and puppy snarls

dusk and costumes

imagination and possibility

teenage giggles and rare smiles

bright eyes and playful songs

i see their hope, their joy

they lay juxtaposed up against the angst

the knawing that constantly reminds me of who is missing.

i live for them, and slowly i’m beginning to live again for me, in tiny slow stretching moments when i am able to breathe just a little around the ever present knot in my throat.

but often the pain feels too great to ever coincide with real happiness again

there are things experienced which cannot be forgotten, things seen that cannot be unseen, things felt which cannot be unfelt, known with no unknowing, loved with no unloving, touched with no untouching.

tendrils of hope fall down around me

tentative, expectant, wanting, calling out to me, but oftentimes they turn to sharp shards of ice cold razors cutting me instead. bleeding is my job now, and the bleeding never stops, and i know i won’t ultimately actually for real survive this reckoning of love torn away in mystery by one shot that ended it all. there is no coming back from this, not really.

but they are still here. still here. still alive. still growing up. how can this be, this parallel knowing of hope and delights twisted around the monster that now eats me alive every moment of every day. is this the life i will live until i can’t live anymore? can i still somehow give them something beautiful and solid to take into adulthood, even with the endless canyon of loss and absence swallowing us all whole every day of our lives?

how does a human survive the unthinkable? how does a human then survive the remaining time on the other side of the unthinkable? because we didn’t die with him, he didn’t take us with him, and yet maybe he did.

i used to think i was pretty good at life, and i had an amazing partner always there to tell my secrets to, to whisper the inside jokes to, to love in ways that go beyond the telling. but he is gone. and i cannot get over the trauma of it, the gut punch that still is punching, like running into a wire and being knocked backwards losing my breath, i am forever caught in the space just before fully catching my breath again. i can’t get my breath back.

{zt}

burning house

//

this home is up in flames
the one we built together for thirteen years
smoke is everywhere with flames up to the ceiling
the heat is too much and I can’t save everyone
I can’t save you from these flames
in this burning house we are together again
can I come back in my nightmares?
our children are here too
and they’ve got to go
they can’t burn down too
but you, you won’t leave
you won’t come out of the fire
will I ever hold you again?
the flames I didn’t know were coming for us have engulfed it all
our lives all went up in smoke
there’s no way to get back to you
to keep trying will kill me
I didn’t know that I was so close to such a fire for years as the heat level rose unbeknownst to me
caught completely unaware by the burning down of all our dreams
you lit this fire it seems, gathered the supplies, doused everything with gas when you drove off dark-thirty that cursed sunday morning
lit the match and threw it on us all, even yourself, when you kept on driving across the country and never looked back
you let the fire blaze on and on
will I ever really know why?
will the feeling of wanting desperately to run into your arms and convince you life is indeed worth living ever go away?
we could have fought the flames together had you given us the chance
you took choice away from me, away from your children
you took all the power and you left us on your own terms, with the flames threatening to take us out alongside you.
part of me never left that burning house
part of me burned up, never to live again
but I got the kids and we left through the smoke and confusion
we made it out, you didn’t
I will never touch you again
never feel your body laying alongside mine again
never kiss your lips or run my fingers through your hair
never hear your laugh again or ask you for your advice and hear your thoughts on life and love and everything inbetween
am i destined to sleepwalk the rest of my life trying to get back to you over and over?
your actions have almost ruined me
our lives and souls so intertwined on every possible level
i still love you, and yet i’m so angry now
we will never get over this
we will never fully be okay again
you scarred our children and robbed them of knowing you and all the future times they will need their dad
we are destined now for this eternal dance of love and hate, of shock and disbelief, of how life somehow keeps going wherever it can even when your worst nightmare comes true.
our burning house burned completely down to the foundation
only ashes left, piles and piles upon ashes
in my dreams I walk through the flames to find you and run into your arms, to lay down beside you and hold you tight
our love will always now feel more painful than beautiful, you wrote that destiny for us.
damn you, how could you leave us to burn to the ground?
I would’ve done everything in my power to fight the flames with you, we could’ve overcome the fire, I believe that. you didn’t. you sold me short. you didn’t know how strong I was. you cheated us all. you decided for us all and you were wrong, so fucking wrong.

{zt}

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(a beautiful song called, burning house by cam, inspired this post)

#suicide

keep living

//

i used to think i knew what happened when people died. i comforted myself with images of heaven, of a better place, of no more crying and no more pain. the reality is i don’t know what really happens when someone dies. i can guess, but i don’t really know. the old adages don’t bring any comfort anymore. truth is brutal to swallow.

i used to think i had experienced the worst traumas i ever would. i thought i had seen enough of my share. childhood sexual abuse, the divorce of my parents, acquaintance rape in highschool, clergy abuse in highschool and college, being asked to leave a church due to said clergy abuse while they encircled the hurting pastor and his family, the stillbirth of my second child, the miscarriage of my fourth child, losing the scaffolding of the christian faith and christian god that I had built and based my entire life upon…and then the sudden disappearance of my husband and his suicide eighteen days later.

i am sitting here tonight, six and a half months later, still trying to figure out how my life turned into this. supposedly there comes a point where you figure out how to stop asking the questions, how to stop trying to figure out what the hell happened, how to keep the internal tsunami at bay that still desperately wants to save him.

i cannot imagine another man in my life, although i want it and parts of me feel guilty for wanting it now. maybe i want it this soon because of how it all ended. but the reality is that i am not a loner. i don’t do life well without close friends and without a man i love who also loves me back. there is so fucking much i want and need to be different from here on out, but before i nail down all those specifics i just want another human being to look me in the eyes and tell me they see me and that they believe i’m going to make it up and out and away from this ground zero. i want to believe that i can trust again, that i won’t let fear dictate my life from here on out because of all the staggering losses.

there have been days i have wanted to box it all up and call it quits, but really that is not an option i want deep down inside, nor is it an option i would ever pursue. giving up, throwing in the towel, no fucking way. feeling hope again? i sure as hell hope so. feeling wanted again? yes, please. i didn’t die when he left our house quietly one sunday morning. i didn’t die when he pulled the trigger to end his own life. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i am alive. i am here. i get to be here. my life is no small thing. i don’t take my own life lightly, i don’t hold it carelessly. i’m here and i want to live. i want to keep living. and i will as best i can.

i wonder sometimes what becoming a widow suddenly and traumatically is supposed to look like and feel like. i wonder if i’m anywhere within normal or if i’m just totally screwed up and can’t even tell. i just don’t know. does anybody really? i know it’s not all black, there is still color. it’s not all tears, there is still laughter. it’s not all sadness, there is still beauty and enjoyment to be found. if you had asked me a year ago what i thought life without him would be like i never would’ve guessed right. it would’ve been too far outside my lived experience. but I can tell you now. it’s hell and it’s not hell, it’s a nightmare and yet it’s not, it’s horrific and maddening, and yet on some days it’s mostly just exhausting and confusing. and every now and then some normalcy seeps in the cracks of this shattered life and you see flickers of light that tell you that you are still very much alive, and life is still very much worth breathing for.

{zt}

everywhere yet nowhere

//

you are everywhere yet nowhere

upon waking you are on my mind

falling asleep filled with images of you

our wedding picture in the living room

family picture in the dining

grief is like food coloring into water

there is no chance of remaining untouched

it colors everything, every space

nothing left alone or unchanged

even when I make my coffee thoughts of you come in

simple things, complicated things, you are in them all

and yet I cannot find you

I cannot hear you or see you

I wonder where you really are right now

are you here in the streaks of sunlight?

the warmth of the light on my skin even when the air is so cold?

or are you actually nowhere? 

I hope you still exist somehow, someway, somewhere

I’ve begged to hear from you in my dreams but nothing comes

no secret signs or magical assurances

your absence is more present than you

everywhere yet nowhere

{zt}

hello suicide

//

I’m scratching and clawing my way to you right now in this very moment just to be here, to show up and tell you what a horrible mindfuck 2017 turned out to be. My amazing and beautiful husband of close to thirteen years died by suicide in August. It has been the horror of horrors. He went missing in July and we tried desperately to find him for about three weeks. I am almost five months out now from the two police officers coming to my door and telling me what I never dreamed in my worst dreams I would ever ever hear. I’ve missing writing here, and I’ve shared some on select places on social media, so this may not be a shock to some of you. Even now as I sit in a new state, in a new house, after a hellacious Christmas that at least my children enjoyed, I want to scream as loud as I can and run across the world to search everywhere for him, to find him, to save him, to bring him back.

On one hand I’m ready for 2017 to go the hell away, but on the other hand I’m not ready to enter a new year he will never experience, where he will not be here to make memories with. Life has not become all darkness, but the darkness touches everything on every level. I’m a fighter and I will keep fighting, but I never thought in my worst moments that life would become what it has become, that his life would come to such a traumatic end, when he was such an incredible beautiful soul.

I’m stopping now, it’s too painful and costs too much right now to say more. I leave you with an Everyone’s Agnostic podcast interview follow-up I did about two months ago where I’m able to talk about what happened to my husband.

Please for fucks sake if you are reading this and feeling suicidal, reach out for help, don’t go it alone. Please. Stay. Stay alive.

{zt}