Friday, July 27, 2012

A Full Tank

I feel full, as in, my tank is full.  I am voluntarily hearing myself say, “I’m happy.”  (This had happened a few times before, especially when I was with my niece or nephews, but not on a regular basis.)

I have spent my summer cultivating new and old friendships.  I’m SO BUSY.  But, for the first time in years, I’m up for it, and I’m having a great time.

A few weeks ago, I went to dinner with a girlfriend, and she was complaining that her boyfriend doesn’t like to go places, as in, he is more of a homebody, and doesn’t enjoy going out.  So, I asked her if she would “go out” with me.  We call each other “Non-Lesbian Lovers.”  We have “date night” every Thursday night.  I am trying lots of the restaurants that have been on my list for three years but haven’t had anyone to go with.  It’s so much fun.

I have a pool date every Wednesday with another girlfriend, who works in the school system and made it her goal for her summer time off to go to the pool a lot (she told me I was welcome to help her reach her goal…Um, yes please!)  We have known each other for years, but spending this kind of quality time has been so meaningful.  She is incredibly deep.  She is so beautiful, physically and soul-ishly.

Pool Date!
I have also started *gulp* dating again.  He’s a man that I was friends with, and I’m really enjoying getting to know him on a deeper level.  It is not my plan to talk about it much here; he did not sign up to have me process our relationship on my blog.  But, I will say that it has added an interesting element to my grief journey, and he is amazingly patient, gracious, and kind.  He makes me feel incredibly feminine and beautiful. 

With Jon at a Rockies game
After the thing happened last week with the former employee, I was talking to my friend (and also the owner of my salon).  I dramatically threw myself down on a chair, and told her, “I just wanna go home and go to bed.”  She said, “Well, then you should.  But I just want to point out that you used to tell me that every day and I haven’t heard you say that in months.”  And she was right.  I went home, took a catnap, rallied, and had dinner with my girlfriend.

I have suddenly found my interest in music again.  I have gotten out my ancient iPod (people look at it and say, “I haven’t seen one like this in years!” but it still works!) and am listening to stuff that was too painful not long ago and am totally enjoying it.

It’s not that the pendulum has swung so far that I can’t still have a bad day, but I think that I’ve been on the sad side of normal for so long that being even slightly on the happy side of normal feels like such a BFD, and I’m so thankful for it.  When asked the question, “How are you?”  I can say, for the first time since Sawan died, “Good.”  It’s nice to give a good report.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grieving for my City

I awoke this morning to news of the tragedy in Aurora that occurred overnight, and it has not been far from my mind all day.

The thing is, this was a normal day for me.  I worked out, got some stuff for work done, met my friends at the pool, went to an appointment.  I had a regular day.

And yet, there are so many people whose lives are forever changed by today.

I remember, when Sawan first died, being so jealous of the people with their regular routines.  I remember thinking, “Wow.  You can just go to the grocery store and it’s not a big deal.  You can just go out to dinner with your family.”  I didn’t know that someday I would be well enough to have fun again.  That the grief becomes manageable, so that it just becomes part of the regular routine.

If you know someone who has been touched by this tragedy, then I am so deeply sorry.  For those of you who are close, and want some advice on how to best be there for those that are grieving, I couldn’t say it better than these two women, and I urge you to read their thoughts.

And for my poor, broken city:  I love you.  Be brave.  You can do this.


I had a strange experience yesterday.  I’m still sorting it, really.

The shop that I work in is hiring hairstylists.  Yesterday, a girl walked in that I barely recognized.  It dawned on me rather awkwardly, that she was a former employee that I had fired back when I owned the salon.  I racked my brain.  Why did that happen, again?

I was assuming that she was there to speak to the new owner, but she kept just standing there, talking to me.  I forced myself to make the pleasantries, without lying.  I didn’t tell her it was good to see her.  I did tell her that she looked beautiful, as always (she is one of those women with that austere natural beauty that is breathtaking).  I wanted to get away.  I had clients to get to, a schedule to maintain, and she was making me feel incredibly unsettled, just by her presence.

She handed me a card with my name on it, and asked me to call her.

I took it to the break room and opened it, finding a handwritten note saying that she was in recovery, she was working her steps, she had wronged me, and wanted to make amends.

One of the weirdest things about my grief, or maybe because of the trauma that lives with my grief, is that my memory doesn’t always work properly.  There are bits and pieces of the last year of Sawan’s life, and then the last three years since that are just gone.  I simply can’t remember.  (I should not be admitting this to the internet as it can totally be used against me…I let you borrow money then you just tell me you already paid me back and I have no way of remembering!)

My first thought, when I finished the note, was, I need to call Sawan, he’ll remember.  I hate it when this happens.  My mind knows I’ll never see him again, but sometimes the wires in my brain get crossed and I forget that I can’t call him, either.  I HATE  this.  So, I made some phone calls to people who are still alive.  I called both of the girls that were my receptionists, and asked them, and they couldn’t remember.  I sent an email to another stylist, and my closest salon confident, and she couldn’t remember, either.  At that point, I thought, Wow, Noel, if none of you can even remember what that was about then you need to forgive her in your spirit, yo!

So it was actually really fun, when I called her today, and she listed specific examples of things that she had done (that I still didn’t remember), to just be able to tell her that I forgave her.  I told her that I was sorry that I wasn’t kind to her when I saw her yesterday.  I told her that I couldn’t even remember the stuff she was talking about (and explained why).  She asked if there was anything that she could do, and I told her to just give herself the grace to forget about it, too.

And then, as I hung up the phone, I thought, I should just call Sawan real quick and tell him how that went.

I guess you can’t win them all.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

The Fourth of July has long been one of my favorite holidays.  You don’t have to buy presents for it, so it hasn’t become disgustingly commercial.  It isn’t a high-pressure holiday.  It’s mostly about getting together and hanging out, with an undercurrent of patriotism.  I kind of love that.

The only time that I generally get “widow sad” on the 4th is at night with the big fireworks.  This year, with all of the wildfires in Colorado, nearly everyone had cancelled their shows, so I didn’t even have to worry about that!

Ellie and I (the Aunts, who both live in Denver), got up early, fortified ourselves with Starbucks, and made the trek down to the suburbs to watch both sets of nephews and nieces in their individual annual neighborhood Fourth of July Parades.  They decorate their bikes.  In one, the fire department came.  There was patriotic music.  They threw candy.  It was major cute-ness.  It gave me such a sense of Americana.

Parade One, with decorated bikes!

Cutest Spectators Ever! (If I do say so myself)

Parade Two! (Mine is second from the left)

Then, in the afternoon/evening we had a party at the Pink House.  I love hosting.  I love decorating my cute little house.  I love having laughter filling my rooms.  I love making memories there.

I did this flower arrangement myself!
The littlests, both eating JUST ENOUGH dinner to earn ice cream.

NOT a good photo of any of these guys, but the only way that even remotely shows how hilariously crammed in we were with16 people on my front porch.

The biggests, looking like men, lounging in the front yard.
I'd say we know how to celebrate America's Birthday!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Shootin' (or what I did on my fifth wedding anniversary, and the bizarre way my life has turned out)

I grew up in Montana, where guns are part of the culture.  However, I’ve never really been a fan.  Actually, I’ve been known to say, “I hate guns.”  To me they have always been a symbol of everything violent and dangerous.  I know too many people that have been hurt by them, both accidentally and on purpose, by themselves and by others.  I just don’t like them.  I want to stay away from them.

Sawan owned several when we got married.  He moved into my condo and I told him that I loved him and accepted everything about him, so the guns could come, but I wanted them put away safely.  I wanted them in his closet, where I wouldn’t see them.  I asked him to lock them, and he promised.

When he died, my brother didn’t want the guns in the condo with no one staying there, so he went to get them.  I told him they were all locked and I had no idea about keys, I would never even look at the guns with Sawan, so he hadn’t shown me where anything was kept.  My brother and dad went to find them, and, I suppose luckily, none of them were locked.  As far as I know this is the only thing that he kept secrets about.

I found out the night before last, from one of my best friends, that he had run into Sawan at a gun show once and Sawan had made him promise not to tell me that he was there.  I also heard stories, when we were all sharing about his life of adventure “pre-me,” in the weeks after he died, about shotguns and sliding glass doors and non-returned apartment damage deposits that I had never heard.

This is one of my greatest regrets.  I regret that it was a part of his life that he loved and I wouldn’t enter into because of my fear.  Guns are something that, as I’ve gotten to know other men (like, my brother), are deeply connected to their masculinity and I wouldn’t share that with Sawan.  It makes me sad.

When my brother took the guns that were Sawan’s and agreed to lock them up (and I know that they are, because I tried to open that closet at my parents’ the other night and couldn’t) and take care of them, he also made me promise that I would shoot them.  On Sunday, I did this for the second time.

It was Sunday, July 1, that I did this, which may seem to you like a strange way to spend my anniversary.  We had decided to do it that day because there were three of us that were trying to get together to do it and that was the first day we were all available.  I hadn’t thought through the date when I agreed to it.  It ended up being the best thing I could have done that day.  Being with my brother and my friend, who are both very gentle with me, getting out any aggression I might have been feeling by firing a powerful weapon, and getting good quality time with these two amazing guys was a pretty great way to spend my anniversary.

Plus, I felt like a bad-ass, which is always fun.  Sawan would have been proud.

Shooting Sawan's Smith and Wesson (I call it the Dirty Harry Gun)
Gabe and Jon.  I try to pay attention when they're talking about guns but it literally sounds like another language to me, so I find myself thinking a lot about what I'm going to wear the next day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago today I married the man of my dreams.  I chose him in spite of all his imperfections, and he chose me in spite of mine.  We always said that no one deserved to be loved like this, that we were so unbelievably lucky.  Our first dance, and “our song” was Ben Fold’s “the Luckiest.”

I’ve struggled with life after Sawan.  I’ve struggled partially because of our song, because of the last verse (where the wife dies two days after the husband), and also, with wondering if I really was lucky at all to have been loved that way, or if the pain of losing Sawan just ruined me for the rest of my life.  I’m realizing, though, that Ben’s last verse is entirely wrong.  That for me, true love, true courage, is to live, finding that my soul is big enough to still love Sawan for the rest of my life, like I vowed to five years ago today, and also finding space to hope that someday I will love another.

Happy Anniversary, Baby.  I miss you everyday.

Sawan and Noel Nail
First Dance.  July 1, 2007