Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Some of the Milestones

2012 was a pretty amazing year for me.  I almost said that it was a year of healing…but that implies that I healed more in 2012 than I did in the previous years and I don’t think that that’s true.  I think I just finally got to a point where the slow and steady pace of healing that I’ve been going for the last three years felt like I had actually gotten to a place where I could enjoy life again.  So, here’s a little look back at the milestones.

It feels a bit like I should do it by comparison- so let’s compare 2011 and 2012!

Number of first dates I went on in 2011: Two.
Number of second dates I went on in 2011: Zero.
Number of first dates I went on in 2012: Two.
Number of second dates I went on in 2012: ONE!
Then I went on a third date and a fourth…and had a relationship that lasted a few months.  It ended, but it ended as well as can be expected and I am so thankful for the things that I learned.  I’m so thankful for the man that he was and the kindness that he showed me as we were dating.  I ended up feeling like he was a great man, just not the right one for me, and so it ended at the end of October, but it was a huge blessing and I have no regrets.

Number of plane rides Arthur got to go on in 2011: Zero.
Number of plane rides Arthur got to go on in 2012: Two.

Number of parking tickets in front of my house in 2011: A Million.
Number of parking tickets in front of my house in 2012: Zero.  They give parking tickets for street sweeping on the first Tuesday of every month, April-November.  I set a reminder in my phone this year and beat The Man.  *Fist pump*

Number of writing classes I took in 2011: Zero.
Number of writing classes I took in 2012: Two.
I got a solid start to my memoir and I’m really thankful for the friendships that I made there.  I feel really good about the way the book is going and I’m so thankful that I did it and for the community that I’ve found there (one new friendship in particular…such a blessing!).  As a result, I read a ton of memoir, and the best book I read this year was Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.  It was one of those books that halfway through I started being bummed about how many pages I had left and really trying to savor it, trying to time where I would be when I read the last pages.  It was so good.

Number of tattoos I had on my body in 2011: Zero.
Number of tattoos I have on my body in 2012: ONE!  (And I love it and might get another one.  Don’t tell my Dad.)

Number of rooms that still had boxes in the Pink House in 2011: Three.
Number of rooms that still have boxes in the Pink House in 2012: One.  That’s my New Year’s Resolution.  Organize and finally move in to the office (and get this number down to zero).  Boo.

Number of bodies living in the Pink House in 2011: Two.
Number of bodies living in the Pink House in 2012: Three! 
Arthur and I asked Chrissy to move in and she came to join the Pink House family in August.  She is a huge blessing and we love having her here.

As I look back at 2012 I think about all of the major things that happened.  New friendships were formed.  Old ones were strengthened.  Lots of my close girlfriends had babies.  Some in my group experienced great loss.  In my family this year, a sibling moved here, we enjoyed a brief time of having all of the siblings living in one city, and then a sibling moved (to Australia, no less!) and we’re flung all over the globe again.  But it sure was a treat for that few minutes.  I also lost twenty pounds in the spring, which has done great things for my psyche (it’s pretty great to look in the mirror and like what I see).  Mostly this year I realized that I could be happy again.  I’m not always happy, but I find myself saying that sometimes (“I’m happy.”), and it is delightful.

This has been a rough month, but a pretty amazing year.  I keep hearing the Counting Crows song in my head, “It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last.”  I said that at the end of 2011 with great hope for 2012, and I say it again with great hope for 2013. 

Thank you to all of you who have been on this journey with me.  For caring to read the words that I write and for loving me through all of this.

Noel (and Arthur)

Thursday, December 27, 2012


A couple of months ago someone was talking about me, and they described me as someone who had a “messy spirituality.”  They did not mean this as a compliment, but I took it as one, anyway.

I’m one of those people that think, “Hey, I’m a mess.  It’s ‘ok’ with me if you’re a mess.  Let’s be in the mess together.”  It’s no secret that I’m angry with God.  I have been through a lot and I think he can take it.  It’s not that I don’t think he’s good.  I do.  I think that he loves me and wants what’s best for me.  But, I think that if he thinks that widowhood, with all its pain, is what’s best for me then he’s kind of an asshole.  I’ve been pretty honest with him about that.

A few years ago my sister went to visit my nephew.  Every time she would come to visit she would come in and say, “Guess what I have for you?”  This time, when she arrived, the little guy, totally conditioned, said, “What do you have for us?”  His mom was of course mortified, and everyone laughed, because Ellie actually did have special surprises for him, and it was really so cute.  But, I think of this often in my relationship with Papa, the name that I’ve been calling God after reading “the Shack.”  I think that I don’t want to only come to him when I need something, asking him, “What do you have for me?”  I think that hurts his feelings.  So I try to talk to him in a way that communicates more the way that I’m feeling.  I try to tell him what I’m thinking about certain things, even though I know he already knows.

A few weeks ago, I was doing just this. I was telling him that I feel frustrated.  This frustration was, as it typically is, about being alone.  About having no partner.  About the confusion of why he allowed my partner to be taken away.  I was just telling him how I felt about all of this, not asking him for anything.  And, for the first time, I felt him giving me a promise.  I have lots of friends who have told me “He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.”  This is a reference to a scripture, but I feel sure that God has not promised me that (I do, however, love that they believe that for me, and believe that if God has promised them that for me, then please, continue believing, hold that space for me!).  One of the things that I struggle with so deeply is the realization that God has broken no promises to me.  God didn’t promise me that my husband would live to be old.  He didn’t promise me a baby and a family.  But, as I was talking to him about my frustration a few weeks ago, the Paul Simon song popped into my head.  It’s the one about "I will not give you false hope."  It was so clear to me that God was promising me that. 

Now, let me be clear.  I have no idea what it means in a practical sense.  In the midst of my frustration about being alone I want to believe that God was promising me whatever I want.  But that’s not the case.  He wasn’t promising me a husband and a baby.  He was promising me HOPE.  And I’ll take it. 

Clearly, he knows me.  He didn’t promise me a nice, neat little scripture.  That’s not the way my mind and my heart work.  He promised me a Paul Simon song.  That’s the messy spirituality that makes me tick.  That’s the Papa that I love.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wishing you...

A Merry Christmas!
December 24, 2012

With Love,
Noel and Arthur

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A fun Christmas Project!

I thought we could use a fun post on here, so here’s a fun thing that I’ve been doing:

About a year ago I bought a sewing machine.  Since I hadn’t used a sewing machine since Home Ec in eighth grade (thanks for everything, Mrs. Stolberg), I got intimidated by, um, loading the bobbin, so I put it in the closet (isn't that where all scary things live?) and decided I would take a class before I faced it.

I looked into classes but never got around to taking one.  Well.  My roommate, Chrissy, happens to be a crafty little minx and she helped me get it out and get the bobbins loaded and get the thing threaded.  Then she helped me figure out what I was doing wrong when I made a few novice errors.  And she was only a little bossy.

I started with a dishtowel project I had pinned on Pinterest (that particular “pin” was actually the deciding factor in me buying the machine in the first place).  It’s actually the only thing I’ve made so far, but I’ve made a few of them and they’re super fun.  I’ve even ironed (you have to when you sew, and I’m a seamstress now.  I sew.).  One of my favorite things about doing this was that it was creative, but it also made me feel so woman-ish.  It made me think of all of the women in my life that had helped teach me to sew and had sewn things for me to wear growing up (like Aunt Neecee, and my Granny, and Aunt Cindy, and Fran Collie, to name a few) and I felt like I was joining in their ranks in some small way.  I had a great time!

Here are the photos.  All I did was buy dishtowels at Target and then I sewed on strips of decorative fabric (this is my first one, with a Christmas theme) and then a little rickrack (well, one little rickrack and one HUGE rickrack) to make it extra cute.  Easy.  I think after I get a little more experience I’ll laugh at the fact that this one took me about two hours.  I mostly think it’s the ironing that takes me so long (guess I should practice that, too).

Sewing.  And I have a Sonic Coke Zero with Vanilla.  Always.
Finished with the Polka Dot part.  I'm pretty proud!  I sewed!
The finished product.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Whole New Kind of Heartbreak

When I was new to this widowhood thing, I kept hearing stories about a childhood friend of a friend who had been widowed in a very similar way to me.  Sawan had died in late August and this woman was widowed in November.  Her husband was the same age as Sawan (40) and was super healthy.  In fact, her husband collapsed while on a run, happened to be in front of an emergency room, and they were unable to save him.  It turned out to be blockages in his arteries, which was also a contributing factor with Sawan’s death.  There were so many similarities in our stories, and I was longing for fellowship with someone who could understand me, that I really wanted to meet her.  She eventually moved to Denver and when we finally met, it was one of those meetings that can scarcely be explained.  Her brother told me, “Noel, I’d like you to meet my sister,” and she and I, after hearing about each other for so long, but never actually laying eyes on each other, just fell into an embrace and sobbed in each other’s arms, without even saying a “Nice to meet you.”  At last, here was someone who “got it.”

She and I have become friends over the years since then.  Our stories are similar and yet very different, as is always the case with widows and grief.  We relate to a lot and then struggle with it in our own unique ways.  She is a delight to me and it is always just so good to be with her.  To get her different perspective.  To have someone who can somewhat relate. 

We both have busy lives; she and her husband had four children.  Our time is mostly spent talking about widowness.  It's girl time.  Our last visit was about a week and a half ago; we just met for coffee and chatted, as we always do, about how we’re coping, about how we make sense of all of this.

And then, two days later, her oldest son died.  He was 14. 

My heart is broken in a whole new way.  I think, for the first time, I’m getting a glimpse of what it must have been like to be the people that loved me when I went through those early days after Sawan’s death.  To want to do something, anything, to make it just a little better, knowing that there’s really nothing you can do.  It feels so helpless.  I don’t know what to do or say.  I want to hold her and protect her.  I want to do it for her.

And then there are the things that it stirs up in me and my own grief, as well.  I know that neither of these options are truly logical, but I find myself thinking that as a widow one of theses scenarios is true:  Either I’m completely exempt from more pain, I’ve seen the worst and nothing bad can happen to me again, or I’m one of the people that all of the bad things happens to and everyone else gets to lead a charmed life.  As this has happened to another widow I can’t help but live in great fear that the second is true and I’m doomed.  Doomed to a life of pain.  Doomed to bring pain to everyone around me that I come into contact with.  I feel a great sense of responsibility in this, as well (“Ok, as one of the doomed ones, I should never love again, it’s not fair to them, they’ll only die young because of it”).  C.S. Lewis wrote that he never new that grief would feel so much like fear, and I’m really getting that this week.  I’m constantly reminding myself that, “True love casts out all fear.”  It’s hard in these situations to live in that reality, but I know, logically, that neither of those two options is true.  I’m neither doomed nor exempt.  Death is a part of life and we can’t try to explain the “whys” to ourselves.

So this has been a dark week.

With the holidays upon us, I think of her and her family.  I think of their celebration and how different it will look, and how painful it will be.  And then I think of the way she addressed it in her speech at the funeral and feel that this is the hope for me, as well…Why would we not celebrate?  We, the grieving, more than anyone else, have something to celebrate because of all that it means for us.  Unto us a Savior is born.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dancing My Sorrows Away

Four years ago, Sawan and I were getting ready to go on our annual fall foliage aspen viewing drive and he bought a CD of Jackson Brown.  It was “The Next Voice You Hear.”  There was a particular song on it that he wanted to hear, that used to be one of his favorites, that reminded him of a particular season of his life.  He played it, and I’m not even sure anymore, but I think the song was “These Days” but it could have been “Fountains of Sorrow” (and it really bugs me that I can’t remember).  Either way, as he listened to the words he marveled at how different life was now.  I knew that the song for him was about another woman, but I didn’t ask.  I knew he’d tell me eventually if he wanted to talk about it.  We never did.

But we listened to the whole CD.  It’s a great album.  I remember exactly where we were in Deer Creek Canyon when certain songs came on, what curve we were rounding when “The Pretender” was playing.  It was a great day and a great memory.

Last Wednesday, I went to see Jackson Browne live with my parents.  It was one of those enchanted evenings that are hard to put into words.  We had front row seats.  The opening band ended up being two thirds of Nickel Creek, one of my old favorites, and they played some new stuff that was so good that it felt like I had been to church, like she had seen my heart and written a song for me.

Me, Mom and Dad at the Paramount, 11/14/12

I seldom ever feel Sawan near me anymore.  I have seldom felt it at all in my widowhood, actually.  I am learning to allow myself to lose the tug of war with his memories, learning that I cannot remember every detail and that I have to let him go.  I can no longer remember the details of what his body looks like, what he smelled like, for months I have not been able to remember what his fingers felt like in mine.

But on Wednesday, with Jackson’s sweet voice singing, I felt Sawan there with me so strongly.  I felt like he was next to me.  I looked to my right and felt like I could see his left hand, with his ring on his finger, and felt his fingers interlaced with mine.

And then, Jackson played this song, for the encore, one I had never heard before.  It’s not all entirely relevant, but it felt like it was for me, about Sawan, and I felt like we danced together.  (They were filming and broadcasting it live, so listen to the first song, and then watch for my mom and dad and me at 5:07, no need to watch after that unless you’re a big fan of “Rock Me On the Water.") 

Here’s the lyrics:
Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don't remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you're nowhere to be found

I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening
And I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round
Crying as they ease you down
'cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away

Friday, November 9, 2012


On Monday we had to say goodbye to Arthur’s first playmate.

Tana was an old lady by the time he met her, and he really loved her, but I think that he mostly got on her nerves.  When he was around she mostly just put up with him, thinking, “What is this little white thing?”  But he kissed her constantly and would lick her ears, which always hurt her (since she was a puppy) so she tolerated him being around.

My mom got Tana (short for Montana) in 1999 as a gift.  She was the world’s largest Springer Spaniel.  She and I didn’t start out on great terms, she ate a brand new pair of my shoes in the first month we had her (I was in school and still lived with my parents at the time) and it took me nearly a decade to forgive her.  When she was a puppy, and a young dog, she was a wild woman.  She demanded affection and it drove me crazy.  But, she was adorable.  She had natural highlights on the top of her head, where she was mostly liver colored, and the sun would turn it a beautiful copper color.  It literally looked like I had put in a few foils up there.

She and I really became friends after I got Arthur.  All my siblings had moved away and Sawan and I were the only ones around to housesit and dog-sit for her.  We liked coming down to Mom and Dad’s house, with their laundry in the basement and their garage that you could pull into with the remote control.  So we didn’t mind staying there, even if it meant we had to put up with Tana.  Spending that much quality time with a dog, you can’t help but fall in love.  I remember telling my mom after the first time we house-sat, that after spending so much time with Arthur, a little dog with terrier fur, I kept thinking, “Oh, Tana, you’re so BIG.  And so soft.”  We became buddies.

When my mom would leave town, after Sawan died, Tana would sometimes come to my house to stay.  She had gotten to where she was too old and her hips too sore to jump up on my high bed, but she couldn’t stand it that Arthur got to be up there with me and she couldn’t.  So I would lift her.  The first few times I would put her front feet up on the bed and then lift her back feet, so that she could help me.  After that, when it became bed time I would be in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I would look down the hall and Tana would be waiting, standing on her back legs with her front legs on my bed, wagging her tail, ready for me to lift her.

These last few months, she had just gotten so old.  Things weren’t working anymore.  It was time.  I knew all last weekend, and it’s strange how it made me grieve for the sweet little dog, but for my husband, as well.

I remember my mom telling me that when my dad first called her to tell her that Sawan died, he told her that he had some really bad news, and that she needed to prepare herself.  She said that her mind immediately went to the worst thing that she could think of, and that she thought that something had happened to Tana. 

In the strange ways that your mind tries to handle grief, I think, “What if they could have traded places?  What if it had been Tana that night and I could have had these three years with Sawan?  What would have happened?”  It’s ridiculous magical thinking, but that’s what I’ve been dealing with these last few days.

It’s made me wonder how many times I’ll have to go back to the beginning.  How many times will I go back to the first night, and relive it from a different angle?  I know that the answer is: an unknown number, and likely many, many more. 

Arthur and Tana, spring 2010
I feel, though, that it’s taught me an important thing about grief: that somehow all sadness is connected.  I think every sadness, big or small, is connected to the Big Sadness in my life.  I’m sad, but I’m learning about how sadness affects me, in good ways and bad.  How to be sad but still be okay.  Tana was a sweet, adorable, great, beautiful dog, and I loved her, and somehow her loss is connected to the sadness of something bigger that I lost, and some things that I still have to lose, and when those things happen, I’ll be okay then, too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Voted!

Voting has always been an important thing to me.

It is not a responsibility.  It’s a privilege.  It’s something that women didn’t get to do in this country a century ago. 

I don’t do a mail-in ballot.  I go to the place and stand in the booth.  I pull the curtain.  I fill out my ballot and I get emotional every time.  I’m so thankful that I’m an American.  I’m so grateful that I live in a country where we value our citizens enough to allow them to choose their own leaders and have a say in their own laws.

Last Presidential election, just a few days before the actual Tuesday, my Granny died.  I had to quickly arrange things at the shop to make a trip to Texas for a funeral, but at the forefront of my mind was voting in the historical election.  I would be in Texas on Election Day.

So, I checked on where the early voting was being held for my precinct, an old church, and stood in line after my long day at work.  When I got to the front the election judge told me, matter-of-factly, that I would not be able to vote there since I wasn’t registered, and ushered me to the side to talk to someone else when I started to freak out.  The little old man sat me down at the long folding table and I completely lost it.  I told him, “I’m sorry, my grandmother died today, and I have to leave town, and I just want to get to vote before I leave.”  I fell apart.  I was trying to maintain some sort of dignity but full-blown sobs were threatening to come up from my guts.  He took my hand in both of his and said, “It’s ok, honey, I was a chaplain.  Tell me all about it.  Tell me all about her.”  So I did.  He told me that he was sure that she would want me to get to vote, too, and so let’s get to the bottom of this.  Turns out that it had something to do with my name change (I had gotten married since the last time I had voted, but was indeed registered), he made a phone call and figured out where I could go that night so that I could vote before my flight the next day. 

It had been so important to me to get to vote, and I’m so thankful for that cute, sweet comforting little old man, and for the opportunity to have participated. 

As I voted today, I thought about that.  I thought about the fact that I got to go home that night to my sweet husband.  A lot has changed in my life in one presidential cycle. 

I voted.  I had my say.  Then, I went out to the car and cried.  I cried for my Granny.  I cried for my husband. I cried for my Papa who liked to work as an election judge every year, and is also gone since the last election.  I cried because I was so thankful that my brother, who defends my freedom and my right to vote, got to come home from Afghanistan safely.  And I cried because I’m so thankful, so proud to be an American.

Can you believe that they wouldn't let Arthur vote?  I guess, technically, he's not 18 yet.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The pink house has had a bit of a skunk problem (or “stunk” as my oldest nephew used to call it).

About a month ago, I was standing in the back yard and saw, for the first time in my life, a skunk on all fours, not laying on the side of the road “taking a nap,” as my family likes to call road-kill.  I hurried inside and tried to forget about it, convincing myself it was just passing through.

A couple of weeks later, I was once again in the backyard, this time with Arthur by my side, and he chased it into the garage.  This created much more cause for concern.  The skunk had escaped into the garage, but if Arthur had been sprayed, it would have been quite the ordeal.  I felt that I had seen my life flash before my eyes. 

So, I arranged for the wildlife control people to come and take care of the issue for me.  It's not exactly free, but I am totally willing to pay whatever fee so that I don't have to deal with it myself.

The traps in the backyard have caused us some upset to our routine; Arthur has to be on a leash in his own backyard so that I can keep him from setting off a trap.  He’s turned into such a “yard dog.”  He had been leash trained when we first got him and lived on the 7th floor of a condo building, and would go potty on command, but now he takes his sweet time going potty because, well, he can.  After 10 days of living this way with no catches in the traps, I was about to call the people to come and pick up their traps when I woke to a strange smell and thought that maybe someone had gone ahead and made me coffee already (weird, right, that I associated skunk smell with coffee?  Gross.).  I went downstairs and noticed that the trap looked different than usual.  Success!  We had caught one!

Sorry, Pepe.  He was not quite as plesant as you.
I called the guys to come take care of it, and found out that it was a male, which is good news, because hopefully that means it was just him and no momma and babies, but all I have to say is, I’m ready for this “stunk” issue to be over and get back to normal, sweet-smelling life at the Pink House!

Monday, October 29, 2012

California Girls (and Arthur)

I started off this month with a huge treat for myself; I went to LA to a class at Vidal Sassoon. 

This was my third class there, but the last one that I took was in 2004.  The first two classes that I took there had completely changed my life and my career, but this time I was much further into my career and much more experienced, so I didn’t quite know what to expect from my week there.  I learned a lot, brushed up on the basics a lot, and had a great time getting to relax and breathe into doing hair, having only one client a day and getting to really think about things in a different way.  I really enjoyed it.  Coming back and being in the salon I’ve realized that I took away much more than I thought I was going to when I was in the middle of the class, too, so I’m really thankful that I had the means and the time to be able to do it.  It was totally worth it!

The class was Monday through Friday and I arrived on Sunday afternoon.  I decided to do a little shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade, an outdoor mall, and while I was walking around, someone mistook me for Gwen Stefani.  I had my hair tied up in a bandana and sunglasses on, so it makes a little sense if she had been trying to be incognito.  It totally made my day.

I took Arthur with me.  He did so great!  I swear, I need to get this little dog an agent; he’s such a ham.  When we went through security at the airport, I had to send his leash through the x-ray machine, and he had to sit and stay on the yellow line while I walked through the metal detector.  It was like he was posing, then when I called him to walk through it, he pranced through, then came and sat down right next to me, posing again.  Everyone was laughing and pointing at the adorable little dog. 

Arthur's first trip to the beach.  He liked the action (all the new smells!) but not so much getting in the water.  He's just like his mom.
I got sick, presumably from the airplane, so I laid low all of the evenings I was in LA, until my mom met me out there on Thursday night.  She and I had planned on doing this for years, really ever since I had been to this class the last time.  There were so many things that I had done that had just made me miss her back when I took the class in 2004.  So, when I started planning this trip I begged her to come, and she didn’t need much arm-twisting. 

We went to the Farmer’s Market.  We walked on the beach, and I showed her different places that she would have seen on TV.  We went to the Santa Monica Pier.  We shopped.  The next day we went to the Getty museum.  I had been to the gardens before and wanted to show her.  So we spent a ton of time just going through those, then a short time looking at the artwork.  We also checked out Hollywood and went to the Chinese Theater where they do all of the movie premiers and saw a movie. 

3rd Street Promenade

The Beach, with Santa Monica Pier behind us.  That's me on the right, not Gwen, just in case there's any confusion.

These were growing on a tree!  Any ideas what they are?  They were beautiful (in the gardens at the Getty).

Hollywood, Baby!  We took pictures by Clint's signature because we went to see his movie, Trouble With the Curve, which would have been forgettable had it not been for the circumstances.

Flowers at the Farmer's Market.  Aren't they fabulous?

We had a great time; it was like a dream come true.  In 2004 when I had wished she’d been with me, I missed her and wanted her to join me, but our relationship has grown so much, to be able to be with her at this place in my life, at this place in our relationship was such a blessing.  I’ll remember that weekend for the rest of my life.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I spent much of September feeling so incredibly overwhelmed. 

I added more time to my schedule at work.  I decided to do this to take the pressure off of scheduling clients.  It seemed like that would be easier for me to do than to continue the juggling that I had been doing on the phone.  If I added some more time, then at least I would be making money for that time (no one pays me to talk on the phone, if you can believe it).  So far I think it’s been a good decision.

I was deep in my writing workshop, as well.  I think that for me, because I’m a slow reader and a slow writer, it takes me longer than it takes the average person to do the coursework.  So, I knew that I had made a big commitment when I signed up, but it ended up being 10-15 hours a week of “homework.”  I was totally enjoying it, but it also was deep, painful stuff that I was writing about.  I guess I should say at this point, in case you guys don’t know, that I’m working on a book.  It’s a memoire about Sawan and I, about our love story, and then also about what it’s been like to be a young widow.  I’m very excited about it, but it’s a lot of work, on the writing side, and on the emotional side.

Then, I also had so many friends in crisis.  Two of my girlfriends had had babies.  One was in the NICU.  The other was a less than ideal delivery and she had communicated that she needed companionship.  I wanted to be there for both of them.  I also have another friend, part of a couple, where the man is undergoing cancer treatment, and they’re my age.  I wanted to be there for them, as well. 

In addition to these things and being in a relationship, I also had a roommate move in to the Pink house in August.  She’s awesome!  But it also brings a whole other person to relate with regularly.

I want to do so much to make everything better for everyone.  I talked to my counselor about it.  I told him that I didn’t have enough hours in my day.  I wanted to do so much and I just simply didn’t have time or capacity and I was freaking out.  He told me that sometimes what we want to give, what people need, is a million dollars.  So we reach into our pockets and all we have is a dollar twenty-five.  We have a decision to make.  How are we going to spend our $1.25?  What we want to do might be a visit and a meal, but all we can do is a phone call.  Though that might feel inadequate, he still encouraged me to make the phone call.  So, that’s what I did.

In conclusion, September was mostly about putting one foot in front of the other, doing the most I could each day to get to the next day, knowing that all I could do was my best.  I had to be extremely intentional about my schedule and my time.  And, I survived it.  As I struggled through, I was keenly aware of how different this struggle was from the struggle that I had been dealing with for the last three years.  I had so much relationship.  What a blessing. It's what I call a high-class problem.  Loneliness was so far from me, and, even though it was the other extreme, it was so nice to have the reprieve.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My First Tattoo (or the Third Anniversary)

Remember this?  How I scheduled an appointment to get a tattoo earlier in the spring?

Well, the day arrived.  As with all of my “Hard Days,”  I had a strategy in place, but left lots of room for cancelling everything if what I needed to do was stay in bed.

I began my day with breakfast and a tattoo (that's not a very normal sentence, right?).  The perfect girl to go with me on such a day is my sweet friend, Dani.  She has many qualifications for being the perfect girl to go with me.  Most importantly, she is one of my besties.  She and I worked together several years ago, and then she bought a condo in the same building where Sawan and I lived.  The night that Sawan died she came upstairs to be with me.  She was there when the Paramedics were there, when they told me he died.  She stayed with me until my dad got there that night.  But, she was also perfect to go with me because she is also my most tattooed friend.  So, when I scheduled this appointment I asked her to come with me.  She took the day off work and we planned a day of hanging out.

She took me to an awesome breakfast place, then to the tattoo appointment.  She set me up with all of the things that I would need to care for it (the right kind of soap, the right kind of moisturizer, etc.).  Then we went shopping for a little retail therapy.


He drew it in first with a marker.
It didn't hurt nearly as much as I thought it would.


A close up.  Sawan had a tattoo of a large brown trout reaching up for a fly just like this one on his left shoulder. 

By mid-afternoon I was exhausted, as Hard Days can make me be, so I headed home to take a nap, which didn’t work, as is also typical for Hard Days.

I headed over to my parents house to hang out with my mom and dad and sister for the 5:30-midnight segment.  This has been the hardest part in the last couple of years, as 5:30 is the last time that I talked to Sawan on the phone.  Once I get to that point in the day, I can’t help but walk through my day as it was in 2009.  This year proved to be the same.

For me, August 24 will always be the day that took Sawan away from me.  Some who have lost loved ones choose to celebrate on the anniversary, but for me personally that has not felt right.  I do, however want to honor him (and myself) on that day.  So, I feel like getting a tattoo and taking lots of breaks to rest were exactly what I should have done this year, and I’m so thankful for all of the people who cared for me, with sweet messages, cards, flowers and spending time with me.  In spite of such deep loss, I feel so incredibly overwhelmed by blessing at the same time.  I’m so thankful.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't Tell the Landlord (or, I Scream Like a Little Girl)

My brother’s new job is in Colorado Springs.  He and his family moved into a little house, which is so cute, but was in need of some love in the cleaning department.

We took a quick break from the moving and cleaning to have a little fun.  This is the exact sort of thing that we would have done at our house growing up when our parents were out of town, but not the sort of thing that I pictured us doing in our own houses once we were adults*.  Good to know that some things never change.

*So, we’re in Gabe’s house, and this was his idea.  He and Jon went first, then Ellie and I took a turn, then everyone else did, too, including Grammy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Vacation and a Wedding

I took a vacation! 

It had been awhile.  I went to Mexico.  I’ve gotten to the point where I feel that I’m not on vacation if it’s not the beach.  I get teased occasionally about my vacation choice, as I’m not actually an ocean lover in the true sense of the word.  I don’t get in above my knees.  I’m scared.  This is totally something that I want to overcome, but every time I think, “Ok, you can do this. Here we go.”  I get in just above my knees and I start to hyperventilate.  So, I’ll try again next time.  In the meantime, I lay on a chair in the shade, reading a delightful book, listening to the waves, when I get hot I go dip in the pool, and someone brings me drinks all day.  Swimming in the ocean or not, if that doesn’t sound like a vacation to you, then, you crazy.

This was my hangout...

When I returned from the girls’ trip to Mexico, I went to my third wedding since Sawan died.  The good news is that they are getting easier.  The bad news is, they’re still hard. 

This was the wedding of a good friend from my hometown that I’ve known forever, but also someone that Sawan spent a lot of time with after we got married, so it was just a difficult one for me.  I spent the day reflecting on what Sawan would have said to him on that day.  He loved being married to me.  It didn’t feel right that he wasn’t there to celebrate with his buddy.  It doesn’t feel right that he never got to meet the bride.

I only lightly shed tears throughout the ceremony.  I totally kept it together.  Then, I had to sign the card.  Still, I kept it together, but I knew that I was falling apart, so I hightailed it to the bathroom so that I could ugly cry if I needed to.

When I got there, and totally collapsed into sobs, they had these awesome stalls that didn’t show the feet, so I knew that even if someone came in and heard me, I could wait it out and they would never know who had been in there.

This is precisely what happened.  The stranger in the stall next to me sweetly asked, “Are you ok?” 

I nearly started laughing, because all I could think of to say was, “Um, there’s *hiccup* no toilet paper.”

I thought better of it, lied that I was just great and waited it out, as planned.

After I got my ugly cry out, though, I was able to mostly enjoy the rest of the time.  I am truly so happy for the sweet couple.
As we got ready to pose for the photo, Cori said, "I guess I didn't get the memo to wear black."  I said, "I know, LBJ."  She says she doesn't know what LBJ means.  "You know, Little Black Dress."  She's like, "That's LBD."  LBJ would be Lyndon B Johnson.  Much hilarity insued.
And after we recovered, the boring posed shot.

So, that should update you to almost the end of August!  Stay tuned for my first tattoo!