Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today I finished the first whole baseball season with Sawan gone.

I loved baseball before I loved Sawan.  I always said that I think one of the reasons that he fell in love with me was that I loved baseball.  He wasn’t a huge fan when we met, but he was a guy and a sports fan.  The first time we actually talked on the phone, I was at home watching the World Series on TV.  It was 2005, I don’t even remember who was playing, I just remember that I was rooting for the White Sox, so he did, too.  We talked for over an hour that first conversation, and finally hung up before the game ended because it went into extra innings and I had to go to bed.  I remember him telling me later that he had told one of his buddies about that and they said, “She’s a keeper, Dude.”  He was so proud of that.

Baseball became something that we always did together.   He became a huge fan.  He allowed me to have a pretend Rockies boyfriend (he coined the phrase, Hoggatt girls, in case you forgot that).  He fantasized about throwing the first pitch or doing the coca-cola grounds crew challenge (this fan-participation thing that they do at Coors Field where you run all the way from the warning track, put in 2nd base, which has been removed to sweep the baseline, then run the rest of the way to the home dugout in 30 seconds or less).  He told me about every third game that if he ever got picked, what he would do is start running, and then stop and shake hands with the left fielder (it was Matt Holliday when he would tell the story) and say “Hey, no way I’m going to make it, but I’m a huge fan!” 

I’ve done all right this year.  I used to have to leave after a few innings, now I can make it through the whole game.  I just can’t handle the 7th inning stretch.  Something about not having him next to me, with his arm around me, singing, just kills me every time.  I’ve learned to get up and leave, to not be in the crowd while this is happening, because it reduces me to sobs and is just so humiliating.  I mean really, what couple says “Take me out to the ballgame” is “our” song?  But it’s pretty close.

Opening Weekend, April 2008

I wear a necklace that holds a very tiny amount of Sawan’s ashes in it around my neck.  I could understand how you would think this was strange, I thought so, too, when I first heard of it, but it makes me feel like there’s part of him with me and that’s a comfort.  It’s silver and has this tiny little screw in it that keeps it closed.  Anyway, I was actually at the game last night, as well, and looked down at the necklace, and realized that the screw was either missing, or corroded.  At any rate, there was a tiny hole in the necklace.  Now, I’m sure Coors field would never have allowed me to spread Sawan’s ashes there.  However, I inadvertently spread a few.  I think this would make him really happy.  

Friday, September 17, 2010


My nephew, Bridger, and I have a very special bond.  He is one of my very favorite people in the whole world.  I was in the room when he was born, and this scared me very badly and almost made me not want to have a baby of my own, until I got to be around him all the time and realized what fun having a little boy could be.  I call him Puppy.  He does not particularly like nicknames and will often correct people when they use one with him, “My name is Bridger.”  But he will tell people that he is “Noey’s Puppy.” 

There are lots of great Bridger stories

Sawan’s favorite was this one.

My parents and Bridger’s other set of grandparents were giving my sister and brother in law a break and taking the boys (Bridger and his brother, Caid) for a couple of weeks.  The other set of grandparents live in Billings, MT and we all still lived in Denver.  Bridger was four and a half.  The boys had spent the week in Billings and it was my parent’s turn to have them, so they met halfway in Casper, WY to trade off.  The designated meet-up place was McDonalds.

The boys got to play on the playground there, and get happy meals.  The prize in the happy meal was a really cool Star Wars Storm Trooper.

Sawan and I were at my parent’s house when they came home with the boys, and we hung out with them for a little while.  They were road weary, but very excited to show us their toys.  My mom started immediately getting them ready for bed, and as this was happening, we realized that Bridger’s storm trooper was missing.  He started crying and a search party was formed.  After several minutes of looking, my dad took a knee next to the distraught Bridger and, trying to reason with him, or get him to think it through, tried to help him retrace his steps.

“So, Bridger, you had it when you came in from the car, then you showed it to Sawan.  Then you were playing with it upstairs.  Do you remember what you did with it after that?” Dad asks.

Bridger nods through his tears, “Yeah, I think so.”

Dad’s face lights up, and we’re all thinking, “Alright, this is working, now we’re going to find it.”

Dad says, “What did you think you did with it?”

Bridger responds, “I think I LOST it.”

We all died laughing.  I can still remember Sawan being so tickled.  The sound of his laugh still rings in my ears.

When I relayed this story to Cori, Bridger’s mom, though, she didn’t laugh as hard as we had.  She said that Bridger thinks of “lost” like a place.  There had been another toy that he couldn’t find and he had been so frustrated with her when he had explained that he knew exactly where it was…lost.

This became an inside joke between Sawan and I whenever we couldn’t find anything.  Baby, have you seen my belt?  Yeah, I know where it is.  Lost. 

I know that this journey is different for everyone.  I feel so sorry for people who are on the outside because it is so easy to say the wrong thing.  I have another widow friend who hates it when people say that she “lost” her husband.  I can totally see why she would think this.  She says that he was not a set of keys.  But for some reason, this is the most comforting way for me to communicate that my husband is dead.  I say that I lost him.  I picture “lost” like Bridger, as the place that all of our favorite things disappear to.  I think Sawan’s up there in heaven, playing with Bridger’s storm trooper.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Feeling a Little Crazy

I remember this DJ doing a special “experiment” when I first moved to Denver where he decided to see how long he could go with no sleep.  He stayed on the air the whole time and it was definitely interesting, especially as time went on.  As this was around twelve years ago I don’t remember the details, so I don’t remember how long he lasted, but it was days.  People were definitely tuning in, to hear his “crazy” and I remember him saying some pretty weird stuff when I was listening to it a few days in.  It’s amazing what lack of sleep can do to a person’s psyche.

I’m not sleeping well.  This has actually been a problem for me my whole adult life.  It started when I moved back from Ukraine in high school, I just never got used to the time change, and insomnia became an issue.  It would kind of come and go.  When I started the business in 2005 it started again in earnest and I started using Ambien on a regular basis.  It was like magic.  I never had any of the issues with it that people say that they have, where they eat weird stuff or get up and drive in the middle of the night, it just made me sleep.  It was my miracle drug.

Sawan and I actually had some rules when it came to Ambien.  No important conversations after I took it (I would completely forget what we had talked about) and no Facebook.  It’s like drunk dialing.  I would think I was saying all this really witty stuff and really it was just the Ambien talking (this was on the few occasions that it wasn’t making me pass out).

Apparently widowhood does this to lots of people, causes sleep issues, so with me already having difficulty in that area, I’m just doomed.  It was really bad for me in the beginning, and then finally got a little better about 8 months in, but now at the year mark I’m having some major issues again.  It’s not the staying asleep that’s the issue; it’s the getting to sleep, and my friend Ambien doesn’t seem to touch it.

I was thinking the other day that Sawan would enjoy my new sleep schedule so much.  He slept like a teenager (which is sort of the hours I’m keeping…stay awake until 2-4:30 in the morning, and if I don’t have to work I can literally sleep until noon) and I kept more adult hours.  Trouble is, I AM an adult, with an adult job and adult responsibilities so I have to get up most mornings around 7, so often I’m only getting three or four hours of sleep.  I’m feeling a little like the DJ.  Crazy.

I wonder if maybe part of it for me is that I’m afraid of laying there, waiting for sleep to come.

Bedtime was actually my favorite time of day (and not for the reason that you would think, wink, wink.  We were actually more of an “afternoon delight” kind of a couple).  Our night time routine was:  I would stay up until he got home from work (from the restaurant, this is what he did most of our marriage), then go to bed almost immediately.  He would come in and lay down with me for a while.  I started on his chest, and we would talk about our days, then when I couldn’t stay awake anymore I would roll over onto my side and he would spoon me until I fell asleep (usually about 30 seconds).  Then he would get up and tie flies or watch TV or both, or who knows what he was doing, I was asleep.

So getting to sleep by myself now is just so difficult.  Laying there all alone just sucks.  I try to wait until I know that I’m going to fall asleep right away so that I don’t have to lie there thinking for very long. 

Widowhood has brought major change to the bedroom.  Well, I suppose that’s the understatement of the year.  But I mean this:  I would never let us have a TV in the bedroom.  I used to say that the bedroom was for sleeping and sex (if you had seen it you could have argued that it was for dirty clothes, too, but I digress).  Now I spend most of my time camped out on my bed (where I eat most of my meals…I know, gross!) watching TV and doing stuff on my laptop.  I’ve tried leaving the TV on to go to sleep, but then it just wakes me up later and postpones the inevitable laying there and thinking so it doesn’t really work.

So, if you see me and I’m not making coherent sentences, or I start telling you about how I saddled my giant ant and rode him into work, just know that it’s because I’m not really sleeping and I just need a nap. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Rules?

I was talking to a friend last night about the blog and she was telling me that she loved the one about the rules, and that I should expand on that a little bit.

Trouble is, I can only give them to you as they come to me.

So, if you want more rules, here's all I can come up with for now.

Don't wear white after Labor Day.

Hope all of you had a fabulous Labor Day Weekend.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wish I had a scar

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  I wish there was a way to tell that I was a widow without it being something that I had to say out loud.  I wish that it were obvious from looking at me.

I wish I had a scar to show the emotional wounds.

In some cultures, there are ways to tell.  I remember reading a book about an Indian family, and the character’s father had died and she had not yet seen her mother, and was dreading what she would look like, with the vermillion washed from her part.  I guess that Indian women wear that red powder in their part only when they’re married and then when they’re widowed they wash it out.  I think this would be so helpful.  It would cut back on the questions.

I’ve been asked no less than three times in the last week if I’m married.  I still wear my ring, so it’s not an inappropriate question for a stranger to ask, but it sucks the same amount weather it’s appropriate or not.  It completely deflates me.  Plus, I know that it immediately makes the other person feel awkward, so I don’t quite know how to handle it.  So far, I just answer, as sweetly as I can (to try not to make them feel uncomfortable), “No, I’m widowed.” And then wait for the person to bolt.

The thing is, it feels like such a deep wound, accompanied by actual physical pain, that I feel like I should at least have a kick-ass scar to show off for all of this.

I mean, really, you can look at it a couple of different ways, weather you look at it in the spiritual sense of “two becoming one” or the more worldly way of “my better half,” we all tend to agree that that’s what a husband can be, and certainly what Sawan was for me.  So to lose that half of me, to have it ripped from me, and have to move forward is so difficult, and you can’t even tell by looking at me. 

I am doing better these days, and starting to feel a little more like a whole person, but in the beginning especially, I felt like I had lost an arm and a leg.  Or even more than that, like I had lost half of my cells and was trying to have to survive without them. 

I had an accident with a steak knife at work back when I was waiting tables in beauty school.  I was opening a package of coffee and ended up opening my finger instead.  I did nerve and artery damage and had to have surgery.  That scar was so tender for years.  If you touched it the wrong way it could send me into hysterics.  That’s a lot like how this is.  I’ll be doing fine and then something touches my internal scar and I’m thrown back into the pain of everything. 

I just sometimes wish that it was on the outside, not internal, so that everyone could see and it could be like my war wound and I could be sure that people didn’t think I was a wuss.  (Note:  This is my own insecurity.  I’m not treated like I’m a wuss.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And a Bonus...

For some reason, I’m just having a really great day today.  I woke up singing “It’s a great day to be alive…" (I think it’s Travis Tritt) and I honestly haven’t felt happy to be alive in over a year.  Yay!  Here are some things that totally make me smile today:

My dog, who we had fixed very early, pees like a sissy and occasionally will decide to lift a leg.  Today it was his front left.

I sold the shop one year ago today, or yesterday.  As I said, I was under water so I can’t remember exactly which.  Either way, I am incredibly grateful for the new owner, to still be working there, and for the whole situation in general.  I have not regretted it, not even once, not even for a minute.  (Cue Aretha Franklin:  FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM, OH FREEDOM!)

It’s a beautiful day outside, sunny and warm, but there’s this coolness to it, a crisp hint of fall in the air that is so delightful.

My house finally cooled down enough last night that I was able to take a bath, which I always say is my therapy, and I usually do this ritual daily, but had been unable to for several months due to the temperature in my house.  It feels good to be back.

I have on my new True Religion jeans.  I feel very skinny in them.

I found a parking spot in the shade.  In a black car this is a very big deal.

On my way to the grocery store I saw the most awesome mustache.  He looked like Jefe from Three Amigos.

Mostly I just feel like the “clouds” have somewhat parted for today and I’m enjoying it!

Thoughts on the Funeral

First of all, I want all of you to know that I trimmed my fingernails for this.  I like long fingernails but it was getting in the way of me typing.  It’s the sacrifice I’m making for my art, and for you.  You’re welcome.

August 29th was the day of the funeral.  This has me once again thrown into what that day was like for me.

It’s interesting because I remember very little.

I’ve put bits and pieces together by what I do remember and what people have told me, mostly my mom.  She pointed someone out to me the other day, and said, “He was here at the funeral, he was one of the guys that ran the grill.”  To which I replied, “There was food?”  Of course there was food, I just didn’t remember it.  I was still under water.  That was how that whole first few weeks felt.  Like living under water.  Other things that have been helpful for remembering are looking back over the guest book.  Note:  always sign the guest book at such events.  Sign them legibly.  I love to look at that.  Also, I’ve re-read the cards that people sent a number of times, and I may go through them again tomorrow.  They were just so helpful.

So many people came and really rallied around me, and I remember a lot of that.  I’m so thankful to the friends that traveled to come, and also there were unexpected friends from town whose presence was so meaningful.

But here’s a story for you.  I share this because it’s actually been a hugely helpful thing in the long run and I’m truly grateful that it happened.

I actually could give you a very detailed account of the story, but don’t want to be hateful, so I’ll just say that a woman greeted me, and in the whole stumbling over what to say to a widow (or at least lets give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that’s what was going on and not that she’s just mean) she says to me, “Well, I’d like to tell you that it gets better, but it doesn’t.  I just talked to my daughter in law last week….” (Her daughter in law is a widow.  I don’t know how the son died, I’ve only met this woman once before.)  At this point I put my hands up and said “I CANNOT hear this right now.”  Who tells a widow, at the funeral for her husband, that it isn’t going to get any better?  That how bad she feels now is permanent?  So I went inside and freaked out.  My mind is racing.  I’m thinking, “Ok, I’ve slept about 15 minutes since Monday (and this is Saturday).  Also this week I’ve only consumed about 600 calories total.   I can’t seem to keep hydrated because I cry out all the water I’m drinking.  If this isn’t going to get any better any time soon, then I’m going to die, if not by starvation or dehydration then by going crazy from lack of sleep.”  My brother and brother in law witness my melt down and ask what’s going on, to which I re-peat her words to me and call her a very ugly name, very loudly, so that I’m sure she and all of the rest of the guests could hear. 

Here’s why I think this was good.  First of all, it gave me a chance to be angry and ugly on a day when I needed to have an excuse to be.  I’m very thankful for that.  I recognized this even on that day.  That may sound weird, but I think it was helpful. 

Second, I have set out to prove her wrong.  And it’s worked.  This week has been incredibly hard.  I’ve felt so much like I’m starting over.  I feel like I’m feeling all of those same feelings again for the first time, because I’m not under water this time.  I have more strength to process them this time or something, and this is infuriating.  I’ve already lived through this once, why am I reliving it?  But then I think back to the way I felt one year ago, and I know that I’m definitely processing it differently, and it IS better, so screw her.

I haven’t slept well this last week.  But, I did get almost 4 hours last night.  Much better than the 15 minutes at a time that I got the first week.  I haven’t eaten well.  I haven’t been hungry.  But I’ve remembered that I need to feed myself and have taken steps to make sure I’ve gotten more than 600 calories this week.  I’ve definitely had at least 600 today.  And I still cry, but not like those first months, when I had major sobbing attacks multiple times a day.  Now there are whole days that I don’t cry at all.

I’ve thought about thanking her.  But then I’d have to have a conversation with her about the whole thing, and I probably owe her an apology for calling her that name.  And I’m not sorry, so I’m not going to say I am.