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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turn My Grief to Grace


Wow. The last couple of months have been pretty much unbearable. The lack of focus, the confusion, the insanity- they are all impossible to deal with, really. And not only are they impossible for me to deal with, they are seemingly impossible for those I love to deal with also. Sometimes it is confronted, and it is addressed, and sometimes it is simply ignored-whatever seems to "keep the peace" at that moment. I am an active participant in these reactions as well. All any of us want is for the hurt to be gone, for all of us, but it just won't go away. Time. Time. Time. Time. TIME.


Tonight, I heard the most beautiful song that completely explains how I feel right now. I have heard it before, but it was always just a pretty song sung from a lovely voice. Tonight, I understood the meaning. One of my favorite shows, and one that Matt watched with me every week, as it was the only hour a week I cared what we watched, Grey's Anatomy, had their musical event. Well, I am certainly not a fan of turning Grey's in to Glee, but this song definitely hit a nerve.


Grace by Kate Havnevik



I'm on my knees

only memories

are left for me to hold


Dont know how

but I'll get by

Slowly pull myself together


(I'll get through this)


There's no escape

So keep me safe

This feels so unreal


Nothing comes easily

Fill this empty space

Nothing is like it seems

Turn my grief to grace


I feel the cold

Loneliness unfold

Like from another world


Come what may

I wont fade away

But I know I might change


Nothing comes easily

Fill this empty space

Nothing is like it was

Turn my grief to grace


Nothing comes easily

Where do I begin?

Nothing can bring me peace

I've lost everything

I just want to feel your embrace


This song explains what I am feeling in words that I have never been able to put it in. I never would have known what this felt like, I never would have had this complete understanding until this huge event in my life, until my husband died and left me. I've lost everything. Nothing that I have matters. Nothing Else Matters right now. I am trying to heal. And, apparently to heal, I must hurt immensely, and fake my way through each day. Sometimes I am better at this than others.


Someday I will find peace. Someday I will heal. Right now, my wounds are wide open and gaping. My heart is shredded. My life has been stolen. My spirit has been broken. I am trying to pull myself together. I want this to happen so badly, but, as she says in the song, it happens "slowly". More slowly than I am allowing myself. I know I need to be gentler on myself at times, but I want to be back to "normal". I said in the beginning that I was going to have to find a new normal. I have not yet found that. I was terrified of the new normal before, but now I am terrified of staying in this abnormal state for a lifetime.


I was just telling April tonight after dinner, before we watched Grey's, that all I feel is Insanity. My head knows that Matt isn't coming back, but despite that, and despite many, many comments and confirmations that this is the truth, that he is gone forever, my heart won't let go. My heart honestly won't let me believe that he is not coming home to me, that he is not going to be here for us to finish our life together. My heart won't let me believe this. My heart is much stronger than my head. My heart can talk my head in to anything.


There are side effects to grief too. I am terrified that those I love will leave me. They won't be able to continue this journey with me, and will leave me behind in their dust. I have already experienced this. You do truly find out who is there for you during these times. I am too much, or this situation I am in is too much. They move forward. I am stuck here. Or, those that are here for me, I am afraid God will take them from me too. This is my biggest worry. Unanswered phone calls instantly turn to desperation, anxiety, disbelief, fear of the worst. Insanity.


Also, more than anything, I just want a hug. That sounds so silly. I have had so many hugs. I have had so many people offer me hugs, lend an open ear, let me vent, let me go crazy if I need to, but I just need a hug. I have even denied hugs, because they felt suffocating. I don't need just any hug. I need the only all-in-one healing, protecting, compassionate, loving embrace that I have ever truly felt. I need his hug. I need his protective embrace. I need him to take me, hold me, tell me it is all going to be alright, and that I will get through this. In our short time together, I learned what his embrace meant. I used to want to step away, be left alone when I was having a bad moment, an angry moment, a sad moment or a hurt moment. I needed to shy away. I needed to walk away. I was taught through experiences with past relationships that an embrace during these moments reinforces the upset behavior. Or worse yet, they were given only because of sympathy. Never compassion. I didn't want that, so I learned to walk away. But, Matt taught me what strength, protection, compassion, love and trust in a relationship truly were. He taught me that his hug could be as soft as a friendly, loving gesture, or as strong as a protecting sheet of armor.

I feel like I should be so much further along than I am at this point. I feel like I should be more adjusted. I feel like I should be more acclimated to my new life, my new life without him. When I compare myself, I feel like I am still at step one. I can't let go. I can't stop looking for him to return home. I can't leave the time, the very short, and very, very important time, that we had together. Every forward step in life is a backward step in grief it feels. It is removing a sheet of that armor, exposing me raw, unprotected, naive and hurt.

I need a hug that is strong enough to hold me up when I fall to pieces. When that hug comes, that is what I will do. I feel like I have done that already, and that is what the insanity is. But, I can tell that I haven't allowed myself to fall to pieces to the full extent that I need to. I am not sure that I ever will. And thus, I need my Grief to turn to Grace. I need to learn to rely on myself, and the life and love that Matt and I had. Forever. Nothing Else Matters.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Drained

Yeah, I suppose that is the best word to describe me right now. Drained.

I don't know what is going on with me. I honest to goodness can't find positivity. I cannot find that little piece, and a major piece, of me lately.

But, not only am I drained, I am draining. I know what it feels like to be around people like me. People who can't seem to find the good, the positive, the happy, the funny, the....anything, in anything. It is draining.

I can't figure out how I found all of that before. Now that it has been longer- almost 6 months, and I feel worse off than I was at 7 days, 1 month, 3 months, 5 months? Why is that?

I no longer have motivation. I no longer have just a little glimpse of positivity that I can run with. I used to be able to take that little piece, run with it, and take it all the way home. Yes, I stressed, of course, but I could make something happy out of pea soup if I wanted to. I could FIND that.

I feel like all I have now is fear. Maybe I am thinking too much about the future. Maybe that is the problem. It is terrifying. Every scenario is so scary. My life has so drastically changed in the last 6 months. And, because it has so drastically changed, it is hard to look forward to anything, because what if that too were stripped away?

I am dreading upcoming PCS-es and ETS-es. What am I going to do without the very support system that has held me up so far? I am terrified of losing my friends to far away places, of drifting apart from them, or of losing them completely.

I am terrified of family issues. What if something happens to one of my family members? Every little thing, unanswered calls, late night calls or texts, calls from those that I don't hear from regularly, makes me gasp, a bad scenario runs through my head, and then I find out that whatever that scenario was didn't happen. It is like my panic is my very first, innate response, and it is way more short fused than it was before. And trust me, that is super short fused.

I really want to find the positive. I am definitely not me without it. I can't feel so sulken, so empty all the time. I am hurting my family and friends. I am pushing them away, because I am draining them. I can't do this anymore, but I can't figure out where it all went or how to get it back.

I know that someday, this will all be better. This will all work out. I am going to heal, and I am going to be fine. But, I am sick of waiting. I am sick of waiting on the investigation. I am sick of waiting on results, I am sick of waiting for the next day to be better, and to be let down. I don't understand how it is so often said "Time Heals All Wounds", but the longer I go, the worse I feel lately.

I need to do something.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is It Worth Knowing, or Is Knowing Worth It?

Is it better to live in innocent bliss or to know and try to control a situation?

I have thought about this a lot, and a lot more especially recently. Would it have been better if I would have known that this was going to happen? Would I have made our days more special? Or would I have sulked and tried to control it, keep it from happening?

Looking back, there were so many "signs" that this was going to happen. The fact that we had to come back to Campbell, and that he had to get back in to the Army. There were so many big "little" things that lead up to that. Ultimately, Matt and I talked about it, and we truly BOTH understood that something was pulling us back; that for some reason, we had to return and that we were not getting out of one more deployment, one more ADSO, one more round with the Army. We had to come back, we had no choice in the matter, ultimately. I have been looking for more signs of things to come lately. Up until the New Year, it was definitely to a fault. I found meaning in everything, to the point that it distracted me from life, I guess, and the first steps of moving forward.

Grief makes one (well, me, anyway) fear the loss or death of everyone else around me. I am looking for symptoms, for reasons that I can see, for "signs" like Matt and I had before this happened. How can I prevent this from happening again? How can I keep myself and others from enduring this pain again? I guess I liken it to a chronic illness.

I often wonder if it is better to know about a chronic illness, try to control it, and try to make it stop, or if it is better to not know, and to just live your days in ignorant bliss. dealing with symptoms as they come, and attributing them to other factors. When I think of cancer patients, for instance, do they regret learning their diagnosis, or are they happy that they know? Is it better to live with the knowledge of what will happen, or is it better to just not know? Obviously, in situations where it is preventable, curable, liveable....the choice is clear. But what about those where it is not?

Before Matt left for deployment, I did my best to make the best of our time before he left. I tried so hard not to cry, not to show him that I was sad, because that ultimately would spoil the time that we did have left together. Thank goodness he helped me through that, because the worst of it was when it really hit me that with the return to Campbell, it meant that he had to deploy. A year without him, the possibility of a lifetime without him. And that was about 6 months before he even left! He gave me the strength, after a few days of tears, to understand that if I kept crying, kept being sad, kept thinking about the inevitable, our good days, happy memories and bliss would have been lessened. It would have been "Shadowed" by sorrow. What if I had noticed the "signs" that we had leading up to this before he died? Would this have been easier or more difficult for me? What about for him? How would he have handled it? I think that he would have been brave. He would have been concerned, for me, for his family, and maybe a little for himself, but he would have been brave. I don't think I would have or could have stood the thought of losing him, and knowing that I was going to lose him like this, and thinking that somehow I could prevent it.

And what about now? Is it better to know what is coming for me or my loved ones? Is it better to know what the future holds so that I can be sure to take advantage of every opportunity that I have, or would it inflict pain, fear, and shadow every good moment with sorrow? Is it worth seeing the signs? Is it worth the fight? Is it worth knowing what lies ahead and maximizing every moment? Is it worth not ever taking a moment for granted, just so I never again have to look back and say "I wish we did this","I should have done that differently", "why didn't I make time for that"? Or would my fear overshadow these goodnesses, and not even allow them to happen?

I just think about these things a lot. Through his death, I have learned how much in life is completely out of my control. I wish he were here to help me understand.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Date Night!!!!

So, tonight, my hubby and I went to a movie on a date. I have decided that if he were home, we would go on dates and have our time together. So, I then decided, why not?

"We" went to see The King's Speech. It was a really good movie. And, in true Tiffany style, it wasn't too late, but late enough that Matt would have been happy. I save all the midnight showings for his movies- like Transformers 3 when it comes out.

I actually really enjoyed myself. When Matt and I went to movies before, I would always get cold. His mom bought me a Slanket, and Matt teased me and called it my woobie. I started bringing that with me to the freezing movie theater. He had his ear pieces to protect his ears and hearing- can't risk being grounded. That is my ever smart and cautious hubby.

Well, he would even remind me of my woobie before we left. "Honey, did you grab your woooooobie?" Sometimes he would even grab it for me if we were rushing out the door.

Tonight, I put on makeup, got dressed in date-worthy clothes (ie. not a t-shirt or sweatshirt), put on the perfume he gave me, and headed out in his truck. Normally, he would have turned on my seat warmer as I was rushing around finding the 90 things I forgot that I thought I would need before I got to the truck, held my hand and been the driver. Also, we would have gotten there about 15 minutes before the previews started, being so excited to sit through the 15 minutes of local commercials (and sometimes making fun of them). We would have shared the drink, 1/2 Cherry Coke and 1/2 Diet Coke. He would have gotten Junior Mints, but only because they don't have York Peppermint Patties, and he did ask every time. We would have gotten in to our seats, me covering up in my hot pink woobie, and him acting like he was embarrassed of me. We would have teased and joked, and then snuggled in together. Once the lights dimmed, I would wrap him up with me, and we would snuggle together throughout the movie, me squeezing his arm, or his arm wrapped around me. Gosh, I miss those movie dates.

Tonight, I grabbed my stuff, took only the bare necessities and headed out the door. I was there right in time to get my drink (all Cherry Coke) and for the previews to start. Of course, I wanted to see every movie that was in the previews. I could hear in the back of my head him saying "that looks retarded". And, I thought back, "eh, maybe, but I think it looks cute", "but honey, its a Loooove story" and "I love it when Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer".

The movie was good. I sat, wrapped in my woobie all by myself, with one side a little thicker than the other. I used that as my cushion for my arm, and enjoyed the movie.

When I was finished though- uh oh! I drank that whole drink by MYSELF! Matt usually holds my hot pink woobie outside of the ladies' room after the movie. Darn it! What do I do now?!?

Luckily, I have had a year to practice this. Deployment has made me more independent, and less panicked when put in a situation like this. I took my woobie and slung it over the stall door. I wouldn't have put it on the hook- it is too long and uh, that floor is Gross!

I always enjoyed our movie dates together. Tonight, I really know that he was there, and he was enjoying it with me. I think that he even gave me a kudos for only taking the bare necessities with this time, remembering to shut off my phone before the movie started, and maybe he grumbled a bit because I didn't have ear protection.

I love you, sweetheart. Thank you for all of these memories.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reintegration Mad-ness?

These last few weeks have been torture. There are SO many ups and downs. It has felt like a lifetime, and that I jumped on the one way train to Crazy Town.

I am so incredibly happy for my friends to be home, for my friends' spouses to be home, and for the remainder of my friends to have their spouses home soon. Thank goodness. I am so happy for them. I am so happy for me, too, because that is about 80 less people that I need to worry about their safety. You can at least triple that when you include their families that I also worried about. Thank God this deployment is OVER!!!! For them.

With the highs have come the lows. It is easy to see what others have when I do not, and so difficult to watch it sometimes. I feel like the kid who is watching all of her friends eat ice cream, but she only has 25 cents, so can't get any. And no one else has any more change to spare. I regress in to a little child- they all get theirs, but I don't get mine. That seems truly selfish. But, please know that this is not a feeling that I have outwardly or toward them. It is one that is internal, and one that is eating me inside.

I knew that this part was going to be hard. I knew that I wasn't going to fully understand that this really, truly happened until I got to this point. I knew it was going to be tough, and I knew that I wanted nothing more than for this part to come, for them to be home and safe. I have been counting down the days with every soldier, and every family, since Day 1. About the fifth week of deployment, I marked on my work calendar what "week" we were in. I have been counting down to the time of bliss, even, and maybe especially, after Matt died. Little did I know that the bliss was going to be for All of us, but some of us wouldn't get the full effect.

I have never had a welcome home, someone to come home to kiss me after a long time away. Maybe that means that I don't know what I am missing out on? I have never had him go away and then come back. Maybe that is why I have been able to go to the Welcome Homes and be so incredibly and sincerely happy for those coming home and those receiving their loved ones. I have always been an onlooker for this part. There was no R&R welcome home. The longest that Matt and I were ever apart was for training missions for the Army. After two weeks, his homecoming was plenty spectacular! I can't even imagine what it would have been like after 8 months, or after 1 year.

I really mean I can't imagine that. During deployment, I would have good days and bad days. I would have strong and weak days, as I now call them. One day in particular, I was driving to pay my water bill. It was only about two months before he came home for R&R, and we were anxiously counting down until we got to see each other. I remember thinking about what I was going to wear, how I would get through security to wait for him by the gate, and how he would smell, and how he would look. These all seem like happy thoughts, right? Well, I broke down bawling. I couldn't picture what he would look like. I was so utterly afraid that I would lose him, and that I would not get that very extra special moment. It is weird our little "feelings" that we have. Intuition. Maybe it was me (or God?) protecting myself? I tried to convince myself for several weeks after that that this actually would not happen, and we would have our moment. Intuition.

Now that the soldiers are coming home, everyone is starting to "family up". I love that. I love that they get to spend time together, after a long, hard year. I love that they get to become reacquainted. That they get to smell each other, look in to each other's eyes, hug their children, kiss their spouse, play with their dogs and cats. Hold hands, have dinner, read quietly near each other. I absolutely love that. I am so happy for that.

And then, the madness sets in. I don't get that. I am not by any means mad at the families. No WAY! They have earned their place. They have fought through what many, many people, including Matt, have termed "the worst deployment ever" and deserve every bit of happiness and excitement that is coming their way! I am, however, very upset and angry with God.

Why couldn't God give us our chance? Why didn't we get our chance to kiss at a welcome home, hold hands again, become reacquainted, play with the dog, settle back in?

A wonderful, flowery friend of mine has recently told me that we choose our path before we come to live this life of ours. We choose our own obstacles. We choose the life that we are going to live. We find a path, and, without knowing in earthly measures, we follow it. In life, we are given our strength paths, and our weakness paths. We, namely God, knows our path and that which we must take to accomplish our goals. I also keep hearing "It will all make sense when we get there".

I think that I have figured mine out. Of course, I haven't figured out my life, and I will never stop asking why, I don't think, however, I think I have my strength figured out. My strength is Love. I really, truly believe that. I have so much love to give, and I want to spread it as far as I can. I give it to my family, my friends, my dog, complete strangers even, and most importantly, my husband, here or there. It is always unconditional. And, it seems that I never run out. It is sometime countered by those who that is not their strength, or their path, but it is always there. Until lately. I do have love still, but it has, unfortunately, been vastly overpowered by my grief. I have been standoffish to people that I truly care about, but it is more because of utter exhaustion than a lack of love. And for that, I do apologize sincerely. I don't know right now, how to be "me", and I know, more than anything, that is what some of those closest to me want right now. Unfortunately, I can't offer that at this time. I do know, however, that of me, my Love will return every bit as much as I have had it before, and maybe some more, because I have learned not to take advantage of that very precious gift.

As far as my strongest weakness goes, this situation, my husband dying, has lead me to learn that one as well. This is a journey that is supposed to be very important, but one that we can never quite figure out, until the end of our journey. This, I believe, is my Faith. I have always had Faith that God existed. It would be silly that He didn't. However, I have been careless with my faith. I have questioned it, repeatedly, again and again. Never has it been more clear to me than after I talked with the Chaplain in Dover, the day after receiving Matt home to the States. That conversation, one-sided on my part, with the Chaplain calmly looking at me and raising his hands without a word, granted me the strength and clarity that I needed to get through that day, and many months after. However, I still question it. I still struggle with it. I now know what I believe, and I believe that Jesus has walked amongst us, and that He has died for our sins, but I still question. I question the meaning of Life. I question God's intentions. I question why I am here and Matt is gone. I question why we were brought together to be ripped apart so soon. I will, however, never again question God's wrath. And I have been fighting His wrath, with my angry words to Him. My anger at Him. I also know now, that He is a loving God. If He didn't love me, then I wouldn't have met Matt. I wouldn't have been blessed with my parents, siblings, friends and his family. Thus, my circle of Love is protecting me from my weakness of Faith. And, through Love, I will find Faith.

On a strong day, there is so much Faith that everything will work out according to God's plan, and that to reap the reward, I have to suffer. On a weak day, I think that God knows nothing of what I want or need, and I will fight until I get it. The fighting makes me tired, and angry and draws the circle of pain again.

I miss my husband. I miss our nonexistent welcome home, and our nonexistent reintegration, our nonexistent future. But, today, I have the strength to smile that other families do have their welcome home, their reintegration, and their future.

Thank you for letting me share in it, and Welcome Home.