Monday, April 25, 2011

Plan B

I have been traveling a little with my family this month. The kids had spring break and here in California that meant two weeks off of school. We were able to visit our family in Utah as well as some of our extended military family in Arizona. It has been really nice to be with people we love, and who love us!

I spent some time with my sweet Mother in Law during my visit and she took the opportunity to give me a couple of very thoughtful gifts. One was a charm necklace with little momentos that remind me of Ben and our life together. She also gave me a very cute little note pad that said "Life is all about how you handle Plan B". She used that opportunity to let me know that I had her blessing to move on when I was ready. It touched me so much that she would take the time to let me know that.

I have definitely thought about the direction my life will take after this tragedy. I have felt overwhelmed and confused many times thinking about how to move forward without Ben. I have been very fortunate to have made many friends who are on similar journeys. It has been somewhat easier to navigate this new life because of those friendships. A few of those have become very important to me and I know I would not have been able to travel so far down this path without them. I want to take this time to thank them for being there for me in my darkest days.

So now what? I have begun to "dip my toe" in the dating world. What I have found is that it is really NOT for me. I have so many things to consider that I never really had to worry about before. First and foremost, my children. I know it is a tall order, but I do not want to be with someone who is okay with the fact that I have children. I don't want someone who tolerates them. I want to find someone who can love my children. Otherwise, I am just not interested. The reality is that someone in my age range will also have children. I have been told and have witnessed that merging families can be very difficult. I just believe I have room in my heart to love more children. Add to that the very complicated fact that I am still in love with my husband and may always be. It just seems like it will take a very special person who can understand that and again realize that I can also have a "new love" with them.

I still have a lot of healing to do. I still have a long road ahead of me. But I can say with certainty that Ben taught me about real love. It isn't always easy, It isn't always rainbows and flowers. But it is always worth it. It seems like a waste to have learned all of that and not to try to find it again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Missing Piece

I heard a line in a song that said something about "feeling like a puzzle who cant find its missing piece." I really relate to that statement. Lately I have been thinking about how my situation is a little different as a military widow. It has been fourteen years since I have lived in the area where I grew up. In addition, we moved around a lot so my friends are scattered all over the country. We used to have a little picture in our home that said, "Home is where the Army sends you". Ben and I learned how to deal with that. Each place eventually became our new home.

Now I am in this new place, and I am trying to figure out why I am here. At the time, it was the only thing that felt at all right. Its a beautiful place! I love the weather, the area, the people, being close to the ocean. I just still feel so out of place. I went to a birthday party for one of Olivia's neighborhood friends. These neighbors have been amazing to us. They have practically adopted us. Its funny how something as simple as going to a childs birthday party can be so hard. The party was full of cute little kids with their adoring cute parents close behind. Happy couples everywhere! The party was at the same place we had Olivia's birthday. Its a huge warehouse with giant bouncy castles and slides. Parents were playing right along with their kids. Moms and Dads racing each other to the top of the rock climbing wall, or through the slide obstacle course. Everything Ben and I would be doing if he were here.

As corny a line as it is, I always loved the line in "Jerry Macguire", "You complete me". Ben did that for me. I always thought of myself as a complete person when we met, but after so many years together, our lives became so intertwined it was hard to separate myself completely from him. I never wanted to. I miss my missing piece.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Do you remember talking to your friends when you were younger about having "super powers"? Which power would you want to have? Being super strong? Being able to fly? How about being super fast? I remember always wanting to have invisibility. I imagined being able to listen to conversations, see any movie or concert undetected or play tricks on my friends and family.

During the past year I have had so many things going on in my life. However, I realized that the average person could not look at me and see my pain or my struggle. On a daily basis I go about my business undetected. Also, being in a town where I don't know very many people lends a hand to my staying "under the radar" of most people.

Many times in my journey, I have been told how strong I am. Which I know to be true as I am still breathing after living for nearly a year without the love of my life. However, there are times when I hear this and I am amazed that people don't see that I am so broken. How is it possible that this fact is not obvious? How is it that this gaping wound in my heart goes unnoticed, undetected, is seemingly unseen?

I suppose I am grateful that the wound is not evident to everyone. Answering questions about this situation is always difficult. It's funny how I often end up trying to make the person asking the questions feel better. I end up comforting them and assuring them that I am going to be okay. Although its not quite the way I imagined, I suppose I do have a little super hero in me.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Part of Me

I had the pleasure of being with Ben and loving him for over fourteen years. Life wasnt always easy but we figured it out together. In addition we had the extra challenges of military life and also raising children together. Over time Ben became a part of me.

Olivia was so excited to go to school the other day as it was the 100th day of school. She just couldn't wait to go and do all the fun activities planned for the day. Just as it was time to go, she came and asked if she could stay home with me. I reminded her of the fun day she was going to have at school! She told me that part of her wanted to stay home with me, and part of her wanted to go to school. She then started to cry and tell me how much she missed her daddy. She is too young to have to know such pain. I still feel like Josh is floundering without his dad here, Kellie is too. Both of their grades have slipped. I have tried so hard to help them, but they already had a hard time focusing. School was always so important to Ben. He wanted them to be successful. I believe they still will be despite this enormous stumbling block that has been placed in their way.

Now I can relate to the way Olivia was feeling. Part of me wants my heart to "stay with Ben" and the other wants to go out and find a way to live again. Not just function, like I have been doing, but to actually live again.

I am still hopelessly in love with him. Makes it hard being a sole parent when I am not even close to functioning at 100 percent. I just want to protect these kids as much as I can. I realize that it is something they also must face every day. Life without Ben. Life without Dad. They continue to amaze me and make me want to just be better.

There is a BIG place in my heart that will always belong to him. I know that I am who I am in large part to the life I lived with him. He will forever be a part of me.

Friday, January 28, 2011


How is it possible that I have lived for ten months without him? I’m not sure I really have. I don’t think what I am doing is really living. So many people tell me how amazed they are by my strength. I suppose I have found strength that I didn’t even know that I had. I am still functioning. But that’s all I feel I am doing most days. I’m functioning. I am doing the things that have to be done. I feed the kids, take them to school, soccer practice etc. I make sure they have clean clothes to wear. I take care of the house. I take care of the dogs. On occasion I even make myself go out and try to join the “real world”. But all the while I feel this overwhelming emptiness. Something is missing. Someone is missing. My someone is missing.

I have often said there are things in my life I can’t seem to get going again. It’s like I’m paralyzed. But it is different. Physically I am still doing all the things that I am supposed to. I am emotionally paralyzed. There are things that I know I should be doing, but I can’t seem to make myself do them. As much as I know it I can’t seem to make myself care about them. I was so passionate about finishing my schooling and I just can’t seem to buckle down and get everything transferred so I can get that going again. I want to go back to teaching aerobics and yoga classes, but the thought of being in a gym again just makes me so sad without him.

I have also had the opposite, those well meaning people who care about me and want me to be okay, that have pushed me to get back to “living”. To them I say, I hope you never have to know this kind of pain. I understand them, as its what I tend to do in these situations, even now. I have learned a lot about myself in this way. I have learned that it is okay to not know the right thing to say. I am sorry to my friends that I didn’t know how to help, and so I pushed my own agenda on them.

So here I am thinking about all the things I SHOULD be doing, still amazed by all the things I AM doing. So for today I am going to try and go easy on myself and accept this as a learning process. I am still figuring out who I am NOW. I am no longer part of “Ben and Jeannie”. So I have to figure out what that means……

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Widow Vs. The Dress

I'm going to take you on a little trip. Close your eyes and use your imagination.

Wait, no, scratch that, eyes closed would mean you can’t read this.

Ok just squint like you do when you are seriously concentrating.

Imagine one determined widow, working up the bravery to enter Macy's dress department. The scale has not worked in her favor since the death of her love. Still, she musters all her courage and enters with full confidence. (ok not really but I was trying).

Looking at the many racks of dresses, she of course heads straight for the clearance rack. Gotta be thrifty.

What should she choose?

Little black dress?
Hmmmm widow in black, yeah, thats original.

White and black combo?
Ok variation on a theme.

Kind of boring.

Fuscia, a little too un-boring.

Dress after dress....thoughts like...

Well maybe if I count calories.
Hmmmm, spanks anyone?
And so it goes.

Then, she finds it, the perfect dress, nice bright blue, nice neckline, sexy but not over the top.

Widow takes dress to dressing room, zipper up the back. Hmmmm, lets get creative, widow steps in dress and tries to zip it up herself to no avail.

Ok, maybe if she zips dress up halfway and pulls it over she can do the rest. Widow manages to pull dress over head AND oh no, she’s stuck, can’t get it past her boobs. SHIT! Now what? She wiggles and jiggles and starts to get it over and she hears a bad sound. Zipper has seperated in the middle...can’t move zipper up or down, dress is officially stuck. Widow stands in dressing room in bra and underwear and new dress as a necklace.

Now what? She tries moving it down, nope not budging, back up? Nope. She wonders if she should knock on the door of the dressing room beside her and ask for help.

One look in the mirror tells her this is a bad idea and should only be used as a last resort. Widow concentrates on zipper again, maybe if she can zip top half back up she can get zipper to lower...several attempts later another not so pleasant sound, but its movement of the zipper...widow sees this as success and repeats same pattern several times....aha....she gets zipper lowered...although uneven and not as it should be.

She is however FREE!

She quickly gets dressed in her jeans and t-shirt again and hangs dress back on hanger. She leaves it in the dressing room.

Goes back to rack, grabs new dress with non- injured zipper and purchases it.

Will have daughter help her zip it at home.

If it doesn’t fit??

Who needs a new dress anyway!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

This Time Last Year.......

I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bothering me, I mean besides the obvious. Olivia's birthday is this month and I decided I better make a decision on where to have her birthday party. I talked with her about it and we decided on Pump it Up. This is a place where they have all kinds of bouncy castles and slides and the like. A child's dream! As soon as I hung up the phone it hit me like a ton of bricks! Last year Olivia has a gymnastics party. At her party Ben insisted on jumping on the trampoline, even though the place had a rule against any of the adults jumping. Ben always was a big kid! As he stepped off the trampoline onto that soft gymnastics floor, he rolled his ankle and it knocked him to the floor. His ankle immediately swelled up and I was sure it was broken. His two buddies that were there with their kids had to take him to the hospital as I stayed and finished the party with Olivia.

As I think back to that day, I can see it was the beginning of the end for Ben. He was already seeking the help of an endocrinologist for issues he was having with his weight. It turned out that his ankle was sprained so severely that it required surgery. It was his right ankle so he could not drive himself anywhere, and he obviously had a hard time getting around. Ben was such a dedicated man. He still had me take him to the gym every day, sometimes twice a day. He lifted weights for his upper body and went on the rowing machine for cardiovascular activity. With a cast on his leg! Who does that? My Ben.

I had to carry on without him, all the time worrying about him. Our little girl was having a birthday party and he wanted her to have a good day! This year, I will have to continue to carry on without him, but with no chance of going to get him after the party to bring him home. Oh how I wish I could bring him home.