Friday, December 31, 2010


Kellie and I were remembering today how much of a joker Ben was. He loved to pull pranks on people. Our house was constantly full of us teasing and playing around with each other. Of course Ben was the Ring Leader of such activity.

Early in our marriage Ben and I loved to turn the water to cold when the other was showering. It was hysterical to catch each other with this little trick, not so much to be on the receiving end. Brrrrr...... !! We also loved to hide around corners and scare each other. One of Ben's favorite tricks was to honk the horn when one of us was walking to the car. He always managed to do it when you were standing right in front of the vehicle, to get the full range of the scare. The trick Kellie and I were remembering today was when he would put a rubber band on the sprayer on the sink. When you would turn the water on for any reason, getting a drink, washing the dishes, the sprayer was activated by the rubber band and you would get soaked! He caught me with that trick so many times. It sucks when you fall for the same thing over and over!! He always managed to catch me when I had just gotten super comfortable and warm. I would hate it because I would be wet and cold and have to change my clothes!

Ben even took his pranks to the next level when Josh was a baby. One night I had gone out with some girlfriends and he stayed home with the kids. The next morning Ben kept saying that he heard Josh crying, yet when I listened I didn't hear anything. Little did I know he was just being impatient as he had pulled a major prank. After a few times I finally told him "If you hear Josh, you go and get him". From then on he waited patiently until Josh woke up. I went to get him and Ben had given him a mohawk!! At six months old!! After taking a few pics I shaved his head bald to match his Dad's. Lets just say I was less than pleased. He did this one more time a few months later and then again a few months after that, but that time he just took the clippers and shaved a stripe down the middle of his head (think reverse mohawk)!

Everyone who knew Ben, knew him to be full of life. Such a fun loving, playful person. He simultaneously kept me young and took years off my life (scare tactics). He was more than my husband, he was my best friend. He was more than my best friend, he was my playmate. How blessed I was to have this man in my life!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Phone Call

I think I have said it before, but if not, I will say it now, music really speaks to me. It has always done so, but even more so these days. I have heard the song "Closer to Love" by Mat Kearney many times but I really listened to the words today.

"She got the call today, one out of the gray, and when the smoke cleared, it took her breath away."

"She said she didn't believe it could happen to me, I guess we're all one phone call from our knees."

Ain't that the truth. So close to home. Some of you know, some don't, but he called me the day he took his life. Started out so cheerful, but it didn't take long for me to realize this was not going to be a good conversation.

So I came to the realization that for me grief these days is like a sleeping bear, I'm just tip toeing around it these days, certainly not ignoring it, very aware that it is near, and that one wrong move will awaken it. Music, regardless of the genre or tempo or volume, is often the crashing cymbals that awake that exhausted, angry , hungry bear right up.

Monday, December 13, 2010

People Need People

So I have been noticing a new job trend lately. The people who are hired to stand on the corner waving signs for different businesses to try and get your attention. Some are selling tacos or other food, some are selling real estate. The other day I saw a guy in a tuxedo dancing with a sign saying "Honk for Mr. tuxedo". Of course, I honked.

It got me thinking. Today's world has less contact. We go on facebook to keep up with friends, we email or text to check in with them. How often do we pick up the phone? Or send a letter or a card? As "connected" as this new world is, with our cell phones and laptops, we are losing our connections with PEOPLE.

In my current situation, I feel like I am feeling that more than ever. I have moved away from the people in my life. Some days I don't feel like talking to anyone, let alone seeing them. A text is my favorite form of contact these days. However, I know that I need more. I need more contact with actual people.

How to get there? All I can do is put one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

I FINALLY had a happy dream about Ben, he was alive and well! In this dream, I was at some sort of party, and I was with a girl friend who was very sad and had attempted suicide very recently. I am not sure why, but Ben could not attend the party, so I was sticking pretty close to this friend to make sure she was okay.

Then the most wonderful thing happened, Ben surprised me and came to the party. I was concerned about leaving this friend alone, but somehow sensed Ben needed me as well. I explained I needed to talk to my friend for a few minutes but that I would be right back. I remember this sense of urgency to make sure he knew that I wanted to be with him and that he was my priority. He seemed to understand and so I went and talked to the friend and then returned to him. I remember trying so hard to make sure he knew how much he meant to me, how proud of him I was, that I loved my life with him. Then I kissed him!! And for no apparent reason I woke up from this dream. I laid there and willed myself to fall asleep again. I remember thinking I didn't get to enjoy that kiss long enough, that I didn't memorize every detail of his face, the sound of his voice, the touch of his hand. It was all very hazy and unclear. I finally got up and saw that it was 4:30 in the morning. Who wakes up at 4:30 in the morning on a Saturday? (I do these days, most days). I had fallen asleep on the couch again, so I decided maybe if I just went up to my bed and got comfortable that I could fall asleep again and hopefully dream of him again. No such luck. No matter how hard I tried I could not get back to sleep.

When something tragic happens you often hear people say they feel like they are in a bad dream and can't wake up. I have felt that way for the last (almost) nine months. Now finally I have a great dream and I can't stay asleep. Oh the irony!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Letters from Iraq

Ben started writing us these little cards about half way through his tour in Iraq. They were sweet and always included....
1) Remember when (some little memory of our lives with him)
2) A note from Iraq (something about his time there)
3) Looking forward to (something he wanted to do with us for the first time, or something he missed doing with us).

These are cards we will cherish as Ben didn't write a lot of letters. I always kept two or three unopened as I just wanted to make sure he made it home safely. I wanted to still have something from him until I actually had HIM with me. So, when he returned I opened all but one. I could never really explain why I didn't open that last letter. He was home safe and sound, yet I still kept one letter unopened. Funny thing was, it wasn't the last one he wrote me. The post mark was May and he returned in September.

I remember finding that card after his death. I remember wondering if I would ever be able to open it. There were several thoughts in my mind about it. This was the last card I would ever receive from him. What if it was a silly one, without anything meaningful to it? What if it didn't live up to my expectations of being something wonderful?

I sat and read his cards again today, I laughed and I cried. He was just so witty and fun and thoughtful. He really had these fun and sweet memories that he shared, and I am so glad to know that he remembered these special moments of our life together. I thought again about that unopened card. I held it in my hands and then I did something I didn't think I would do, I opened it. It was beautiful. It was a memory of September 11th, 2001. It was about how our perspectives changed that day. I only wish he would have remembered that on March 10th, 2010.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Something Different

Being a military wife, I have spent holidays without my husband. He has been on various temporary duty assignments, or deployed on many a holiday (although we had it better than most). Yet Ben's absence this year is obviously different. As Thanksgiving approached I had not yet decided what to do. Make the 10 hour trip to my home town? Make a small meal for my now small family? I had almost decided to make the trip when I heard about the blizzard that hit Utah. Nope, I was definitely not driving in that.

I opted for something different. I decided to take the kids to Disney for the day. Trading turkey dinner for chicken nuggets and fries. Disney?? On a holiday?? Yeah, that was a good idea. Hour long waits for almost every ride. It was exhausting. Yet we made it through the day. The next day I took the kids to Laguna Beach and remembered why I chose California. While my family was "buried" in snow in Utah, the kids and I walked barefoot in the sand and dipped our toes in the ocean.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Patience has never been my strong point. It's the American way. We have a DVR so we never miss a TV show we want to see. We have microwaves so our meals can be cooked super fast. We have cell phones with us at all times so we never miss a phone call!

I have been feeling less than patient about all the things I am doing in my life. I want to get back in school, but due to budget cuts California state colleges are limiting the amount of new students they can take. They are considering new student applications for the August 2011 semester.

I am trying hard to make this new area feel like home. I am slowly but surely making friends, yet I am frustrated with the process of having to put myself "out there" to meet people. Especially at a time when curling up on my couch seems so much more appealing.

I have taken a long break from the gym. I am realizing more and more that it is hard to be at a gym without Ben. We met at a gym over fourteen years ago. Something about being at a gym without him feels so wrong. Who am I kidding, everything without him feels wrong. However, denial can only take you so far. I have purchased a scale and have even bravely stepped on it. Lets just say it wasn't pretty. I have stepped up my exercise game, opting for running rather than the gym. The scale is moving in the right direction, however patience again escapes me, as it feels like it is moving so painfully slow!

I just want to feel all better, NOW! I want to be healed, well adjusted, excelling in school, surrounded by friends, in my amazingly tiny skinny jeans.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let it Snow???

I have said it many times, I moved to California because I wanted to get away from the snow! Yet today when I was shopping at a local Home decor store and looking at Christmas decorations, I was drawn to all the snowmen. I didn't even notice it at first. Then I looked at my basket and had to laugh! Snowmen?? In Southern California? I decided that it was kind of a humorous way to add a little white Christmas to our otherwise sunny skies.

I have decided that I really want to find a potted palm tree and use it for our Christmas tree and then decorate it with snowmen ornaments. I think a little humor this holiday could go a long way!

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Such Thing

I remember when Ben first told me he wanted to join the Army. We were engaged, and planned on being "poor starving college students" for awhile. I was scared. I didn't want this man I loved doing such a scary job. However, he convinced me it was what he wanted to do. I remember asking him why he couldn't be an accountant or an insurance sales person. Why couldn't he do a "safe job"?

I also remember where I was when the planes hit the towers on September 11. So many of us do, and will forever. Suffice it to say, I was safe and Ben was safe. The accountants and the insurance sales people that worked in the towers that day, were not. I remember talking to Ben about how scared I was when he first joined the Army. I reminded him of the "safer" jobs that I wish he had pursued. I remember telling him that there was "no such thing" as a safe job anymore. Our world had changed.

Now I sit in my new house in California. I wonder if I will ever feel safe again. I have unpacked most of the boxes that I brought with me. I have a stash in my garage that I consider "unsafe". They are marked papers. The translation to me is cards and letters, pictures, things that are sure to break my heart all over again. I will go through them. I will save them and cherish them. I just need to be a little stronger.

Today I opened what I considered a "safe" box. It was marked board games. Although it was sure to bring back many memories of us playing together with our kids and our friends, I felt I could handle it. As I opened the box the first thing I saw was Ben's wallet, then pictures of us when Olivia was first born. I found myself crumpled up on the floor crying over this so called "safe" box and the memories it contained. I cherish those memories, but they remind me of all that I have lost.

I realized there is "no such thing" as a safe box. My world has changed. Each of these boxes hold memories of our fourteen years together. Of the life we have shared. The love we shared. Of the man that I am missing and will continue to miss for the rest of my life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Building a Time Machine

I recently decided to start a widow/er group in my area. A line from the movie "Field of Dreams" kept playing over and over in my head "If you build it, they will come." I figured I couldn't be the only one here, wishing I had a network of friends that understood what I was going through. Turns out I was right. Friday we had our first activity. It was at a local winery, we had dinner and there was live music, and we just talked. There were five of us. The next day two more joined our group. We will meet again next month. Its hard to wish for new members, as the things that have to happen to make one eligible, are just terrible. Yet I know there will be others that find themselves, lost, feeling alone, unsure. I never imagined I would need to belong to such a group. This was not my story. Yet here I am.

I just watched "The Time Traveler's Wife". I know I am a little late to this one. I have missed a lot of things these past eight months. It was a great movie, better than I expected. I, of course, ended up in tears at the end of the movie. This woman received the one gift I wish for more than any other, one last embrace. Just one more time in his arms. Just one more time in my "home".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Veteran

I didn't know this day would affect me as it has. I have already passed so many milestones without him. His birthday, our anniversary, my birthday, Kellie and Joshua's birthdays. I have been looking ahead and worrying about the upcoming holidays. Trying to figure out what I should do to make it as easy as possible for the kids and I. I was looking so far ahead that I didn't see the pebble on my path that caused me to trip and skin my knee. As I sit here, cleaning my wound, I remember the man that I love. On this day that is set aside to remember those that have sacrificed so much for our freedoms, I think of the man that sacrificed so much for our family.

Ben was a lover of history. When we lived back east he was so excited to go and see all the Civil War battlegrounds. We went to Virginia and saw many things that were relevant to Thomas Jefferson, one of Ben's heroes. I remember him telling me the stories of these places, sharing with the kids and I the important things that had taken place at each location. He taught me so much. His love of history was contagious. The way he spoke about these things made even the most unwilling, (me), participant eager to learn. He had a way of bringing these "stories" to life.

Today I think of his history, of Ben's story. The stories his mother told me about him as a child, the man I fell in love with, the man I shared a life with. I think of all the things he taught me about myself, about the world, and about love. Today I miss him more than words can say. Today I miss MY hero.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Every Little Thing.....

I went to my SOS support group tonight. For those of you who don't "speak the language", it stands for Survivor of Suicide. Its the new terminology for those of us who are left behind. It is interesting as its not specific to spouses. Its includes all relationships, parents, spouses, siblings, aunt, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, you get the idea.

I never know what emotions a meeting will bring. Sometimes I cant stop crying, others I am just sitting there feeling like I am having an "out of body" experience, because I am not going through this, this could not be happening to me. Others I find myself trying to comfort those around me.

Tonight the topic of discussion was the "suicide trance". I had never heard of this before. This particular book was from a doctor who had interviewed people who had attempted suicide, but luckily are here to tell us about those experiences. These people talked of pain that they could not find their way out of. The only answer was to "end it". Once this decision had been made, they felt free and could not be talked out of it.

They talked of making lists of those who were responsible, or of people who would be better off without them. It was a common theme. The belief that their loved ones would have a happier life if they were no longer in it.

I don't know much, but I can tell you that my life is not better without Ben in it. All who know him will say the same. How could he be so far off the mark? He was an incredibly smart man. He was very intellectual. How could he NOT KNOW?? Just one of the many questions I will ask myself for the rest of my life.

As I left the meeting, the tears started, and like always, I had my little "de-briefing" session with Ben. I told him all the things I would tell him if he were here. I turned on the car, and the radio came was his ringtone. The one I have adopted and now have as mine. "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. "Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing, is gonna be alright". Maybe he was trying to tell me something.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Square Peg

So I used to be a square peg. Life experiences, hardships and joyous occasions have cut off my corners. I am not sure I am a round peg, but I am definitely no longer square. Since Ben died, I have been trying to figure out who I am. I have been trying to understand this new life and how it has/will shape me.

In some friendships, I actually found myself feeling like a naked round peg, trying desperately to put her corners back on. I just didn't "feel comfortable in my own skin". I felt I had to be a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way, although I had no idea what that "way" was.

I still don't know who I am without him. I still have no idea where this journey will ultimately take me. I do know that Ben taught me so much about myself. I know that he loved me, despite my chipped off corners, and maybe even because of them. In fact, I think he may have knocked one or two off for me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

End in Sight?

I am really missing having my best friend with me. I miss him making me smile and laugh. I missing having him to lean on, figuratively and literally. I miss talking to him about anything and everything. I am missing having someone to go places with, someone to come home to. I just miss sharing my life with him.

So this thought came to me, If I knew that this grief would last for a pre-determined amount of time, and then I would feel normal again. That this hollow place inside of me would feel full again. I don't even know if it would matter how far away, obviously in this case the sooner the better, but the amount is not my point. A year, 5 years, 10 years, 20?? If I knew there was a definite end point, then I think I could take it. Its this fear of not knowing, this fear that I am always going to feel this pain.

Please don't misunderstand me. I have moments of happiness. I am living with the three best gifts he ever gave me. They bring me hope, they make me smile and often even laugh. Olivia is full of life and happiness. Josh is so inquisitive and smart. Kellie is witty and clever.

Kellie and I spent all day Halloween scaring each other, jumping out and yelling Boo. At the end of the night she scared me so bad. All the kids had gone to bed (or so I thought) and I had gone to use the rest room. All the lights were out. I walked out of the bathroom and it was pitch black. There was Kellie (not that I could see her....but she yelled boo and I did the "happy dance", imagine me running in place very fast!! We laughed and laughed.

Then she went to bed and I was alone again. So I wish I knew when I, or IF I will feel "normal" again. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes faster than others, hoping that I will get there. Wherever "there" is.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Letting the Sunshine in.....

Its amazing how much the weather affects my mood. Its been overcast and rainy here for well over a week, yesterday we got a break in the clouds and the sunshine made an appearance. Its back again today!!

I am often asked why I moved so far from anyone I know. Its a question I can't really answer. I can say at the time, the thought of sunshine and palm trees, and a beach within reasonable driving distance were a big incentive.

I now realize that I have to "let the sunshine" into my life as well. I realized that my children are used to having friends and their families around us. I realized that my "hunkering down" in my house wasn't something they were accustomed to. It became glaringly apparent when we went back east for a convention, and visited friends. It felt like home to them. I don't think it was necessarily the place, as much as it was the feeling. The feeling of having people who loved us, and we loved nearby. I decided I needed to try and establish those relationships here to really make it feel like home. So I have gone to work, I have signed the kids up for soccer and swimming. I have signed myself up for a couple of support groups in the area that are activity based. I have actually started working out again, checking out the various gyms in the area so I decide which is best for me to join!

I know I still have a long road of healing ahead of me, but I am hopeful to one day actually feel at home in my new house.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nothing Stops Him

I was at a birthday party for one of my friends children. It was a cool experience as they had a reptile expert come and bring snakes, lizards, geckos etc. I found myself relaxing and enjoying myself. Something my mind doesn't allow myself to do much these days.

There was a man there, very friendly and outgoing, the only person I had to explain my "situation" to at the party. I managed to dodge the "how did he die" question pretty well so I was feeling pretty good. Anyway, this man began telling a story of a time he was in Mexico, and an older man came up to him and tried to get him to eat cow brain soup. He sat down with the man, drank brandy, and ate the soup. Every one was listening to him, hanging on his every word. It reminded me so much of Ben, still I was doing ok. I enjoyed being around someone so "full of life", like my Ben always was. Then his wife jumped in and said "Nothing stops him", I thought it was so cute, how proud of him she was. I related to it, understood it, and still I didn't let sadness overtake me. I reveled in it, lived vicariously through them for that moment. Then the husband quickly retorted "well.....a bullet". Moment over, I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. No one knew how much those three little words hurt me.

That was exactly my Ben, nothing stopped him either, except those three words, "well, a bullet."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Forever Changed

On 3-10-10 life as I knew it was forever changed. My best friend and husband was dead. This in and of itself made absolutely no sense to me. Further complicating my grief is the fact that he took his own life. It has been over seven months and in many ways I am still stuck in the same place (mentally) trying to understand it.

Since that day, I have done so many things. I have moved with our three children across the country to a new place, to have a "fresh start". I have "healed" a little emotionally, but it doesn't take much to bring me right back to that day, back to the moment when I heard the tragic news.

I find myself wondering and thinking all the time, "How did this happen to me?", "How did this happen to us?". I believe I will never fully understand it.

So today, I sit in my new home, far away from where this tragedy occurred and am faced with the realization that I can not run from this pain. It followed me here. It is a part of me now.

For those of you that knew me before this, you know that I was a happy person, someone who found the good in most situations. I feel like that person is still here somewhere....she is here....finding her way in the dark.