Thursday, May 15, 2014

{My place in Life}

Among the long list of things I'm learning to navigate,
or tying to navigate,
or sometimes completely failing to navigate,
is me trying to find my place in life again.

When Trav's illness started affecting him the point that leaving the house was to big of a chore,
I remember feeling really lost.
Sometimes at night after Travis would fall asleep,
I would mourn the loss of our old life.
I remember just crying-big fat ugly tears and thinking life couldn't feel harder.
I remember feeling like I was losing him.
Knowing that he was dying, even though we hadn't heard those words yet,
it was just so painfully clear to me that it was coming.
And I hated watching him lose himself.
 It was unbearably hard-and I look back thinking 
"I cannot believe I made it through that".

But, I still had my place.
It was by his side.
And I had Travis.
And I could tell him exactly how I felt, no matter how hard it was to say,
or for him to hear....I had him.  And my place.
So while everything in the world felt also felt right.

But now,
that little pocket of safety Travis always provided for me,
and that safe spot that comes along with marriage is gone.
I just don't fit in anywhere anymore.
That-well that just makes me miss him all the more.

I have wonderful, wonderful friends.
They are thoughtful, incredibly giving, caring, hilarious, and ALWAYS there for me.
And while I never regret any of our fun nights,
they always end with me coming home feeling a bit out of sorts, 
because it's clear that I'm not 
"one of them" 

I can't join in conversations about marriage anymore.
I can't complain about him coming home late from work,
not helping with yard work,
not saying thank you for dinner or helping with the kids.
No more big group dates with our friends,
and man, I miss that.  I miss seeing their husbands chat with T about golf,
about neighbors, yard work, work and whatever else those men chatted about.
 I miss just taking it all in and seeing that side of Travis.
Sometimes these conversations happen and I just feel so outside of myself.
I miss that pocket of safety.

Even with family,
I've lost my comfort.
Travis was my partner-
in every game we played...(which was many!),
he was my game or no.
He would pick on me last,
and if I won (which was not as often as he!)
He'd always say, "If I couldn't win, I'm glad you did." 
He made us an even number-and we went hand in hand everywhere we went.
So now,
I sometimes feel like an intruder going alone.
I feel strange asking them to dinner, or anywhere...
because instead of saying
"wanna come with us to dinner?"
"wanna come with me?
And that seems so strange to all of us.

So I don't really fit in there either.
Not that that stops me from coming, or trying, 
but it just doesn't feel right-and I wonder if it ever will.

My friends and family are incredibly sensitive to me. 
(I can bet that as they are reading this, they are probably on a group text about how they 
need to be more careful when I'm around...FRIENDS: no.  That's not the point of this post. And FAMILY, no, I don't mean that anyone should change!
Because if I have to get used to  feeling awkward and out of place, I'd rather do it with you then anyone else!)
I love my friends and family, and wanna make it clear that this post is by no means to call anyone out,
because my support system is the absolute best,
it's just my life has changed so drastically,
I feel like a misfit.

I have made some really lovely friends who are also widows.
We met by social first time meeting someone via the Internet...
my sweet Dad was nervous they might be axe murderers....
They aren't.
They are lovely, amazing, strong women who have gone through a lot.
I mean, I don't feel like it's my place to share their stories,
but wow.  These women.  
Amazing ladies and instantly dear friends.
I thought I would meet with them and feel like I had my place again...
people who were just like me!

And while they completely understood so much of what I've gone through the past few months,
and some of the daily challenges we all face,
I still don't fit in 100%.
(And I am sure that they could say the same thing: One has twins, and has raised them all alone their entire life span, one has a toddler-and her husband had brain cancer-and she surely faced some things that the rest of us didn't face, and one has no kids to carry her sweet husbands life with her....)
So while we all get each other, and understand a lot about each other...
we, together, don't fit into a seamless puzzle-and we won't ever understand exactly what every journey has been like.

I'm older then all of them.
(Is that not the saddest thing you've ever heard.....I think I'm a young widow...but these girls are just painfully young and it's heartbreaking, and makes me feel pretty blessed that I had the years I had with T.  These girls didn't get enough time.  I didn't either, but they reallllly didn't...if that makes sense.)
They have either no kids, or really young ones,
and they've been widows for a good while longer then me.

I wanted someone to be just like me.
I wanted someone who had kids my exact age,
and understood our cancer battle...who did the same treatments, the same amount of time.
Same tumors, same locations, same ages...and someone who faced
awful death that Travis faced...
and on the drive home I thought about this and felt a little sad that I didn't find that pocket I've been
missing so much....

And then I realized that the only person who would ever fill that void,
is Travis.

No one will ever know exactly how our life changed together.
No one will understand how cancer changed us, as a couple, and just as people, 
and ultimately how death changed us.
And I had to face the hard fact: 
my place is gone.
It left with Travis,
and I have to find it again on my own.

I have to fill the void-the void of not fitting in, or knowing where I stand,
with common ground.  With patience with myself and others.
I can't be upset when I have nothing to contribute to the marriage conversation.
I will not be angry or hurt when my friends vent about marriage.
I will be grateful that I had that. 
I will be grateful that I once had that spot...that great spot where your thoughts are understood
by someone else, and you had a partner even in a game that shouldn't have been a team game.
And I will learn to let that go, as much as I can, because if I don't, I wont easily find my place again.

As I've written this post,
one I've been thinking about for a good few months,
I've had to stop to tuck in Roo.
Get her a water bottle.
Adysons asked if she can just read "one more chapter" twice.
And I feel so completely in my element that I can't imagine me ever feeling like I don't have a place...
so obviously, Travis lives on in them,
and my pocket overflows when they are around.

Socially-I'm an outcast.
At home-I'm content.  And I think that's progress.  A few months ago I wouldn't have been able to say that.

So progress is being made. I didn't see it till now, but it is being made.

I guess, for now, that's enough.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

{happy birthday travis}

Trav's Birthday is May 2nd.
He would have turned 39.
I've been full of dread for another first to come my way...
and Trav's Birthday felt like an extremely hard first.

I still sometimes can't really imagine how we keep moving on without him.
I still love and adore him, and miss him so dearly.

(Travis, in his favorite city in Spain, Aranjuez, in the princesses garden at the palace)
I loved everything about this special day with him.
I loved the train ride-where I dozed on his shoulder.
I loved eating my first Spanish tortilla on the streets while we watched
old grandfathers picking up their grand kids for the mediadia.
I loved meeting his friends there.
I loved watching him have so much zest for life that day...
I really miss that.
I loved watching him read the Spanish newspaper on the way back...
and I loved holding his hand in Madrid when twilight came.
I cherish our memories.
I was incredibly appreciative of my friends and family for realizing that
this wasn't an easy day.
We are so blessed to always be remembered, and it means so much to me.
We received gifts from friends,
cards in the mail,
and these lovely flowers were left on my porch with a card that said 
"Flowers for T's girls".
So thoughtful.
And everyone wore orange.
This touched my heart so deeply....
All of my friends, all of the girls friends, and even half the staff at their school wore orange to 
honor Travis.
These reminders that we still have a lot of support shown our way do a lot for my soul!

I took the girls after school the the cemetery,
so we could spend a few minutes alone with him.
When we got there,
there was an older man visiting the grave next to his.
I've noticed her headstone before...and it's confused me a bit.
Most of the stones near him are new,
and this one looks new,
but she passed quite a long time ago.

We chatted with him for quite a while.
He was in the military and stationed in California,
and his daughter, Sally,  passed when she was just 1 year old.
She was buried there, and then after he retired the rest of the family moved here.
Last year they decided to move her here,
and her headstone is always marked with flowers,
and a lot of love.

He is a golfer,
and a very proud Daddy to only daughters,
and was very touched to hear our story.

We left promising we'd watch over each others loved ones.
It was a nice little moment,
and I wont go visit Travis without remembering Sally as well.

I had only planned on having our immediate family over to the cemetery to let off balloons,
because I didn't want to ask people to come and make them feel obligated....
and then people kept asking if they could come.
I was so touched by this.
I basically only put it here on the blog and so many lovely souls showed up to celebrate him.
Sometimes we forget that ALL of us are grieving for T. 
Not just our family, but our friends, and my friends who hold my hand through it.
This meant more to me then anything else.
There are no words for the comfort it brings me to remember that I'm not alone 
in my grief, or that Travis is always, always loved and remembered.

We all brought orange balloons with a note attached about how we will
try to be better, for Travis, this year.
A fitting gift, I think.

My father in law said a lovely prayer,
and then we sang Happy Birthday.
I held up okay,
until then.
I just ached while everyone sang,
and still ache when I think about it.
I don't want time to go on without him,
but I want it to go reallly fast so I can be back with him.
It's an awfully strange feeling-and something I don't really understand myself.
I am so glad Travis is free of pain,
because no one,
not even me, I'm sure,
really understands how awful things really got for him....
but I'm just selfish enough that I would do pretty much anything to have him
here again.  

We survived it through another first.
I'm really quite proud of these girls, and of myself.: )

Our Families.
We came home to a cake from one of my best friends,
and most thoughtful people I know, Lorinda.
I loved it!
To End:
39 things I love-and/or miss about Travis
in absolutely no order whatsoever.
I should note that this list could go on and on and on....and on.

1-I miss cooking for him. Terribly.  The girls complain a lot.
2-I miss his big, belly laugh.  It hurt him pretty bad to laugh that hard, because of his tumor in his rib,
but he would clutch it, while tears of joy were flowing and say "It hurts...." all while cracking up.
I know this sounds mean...but a few of you will know exactly what I'm talking about, and it was as joyful as things get.
3-I miss hearing him watch anything sports related on TV.
I could be in another room and hear him yelling at the TV.  And half the time he couldn't have cared less who was playing....
4-I miss his sarcasm and wit.
5-I miss his nerd speak.
6-I miss him snuggling with his girls.
7-I miss seeing him be the fabulous father that he was.
There aren't words to express how perfect his love for the girls was.
8-I miss him warming my feet in bed.
9-I miss watching him eat cereal standing up.
10-I miss rubbing his neck.
11- I miss holding his hand in the car.
12-I love the things he passed on to his how Sienna has his eyes,
and Adyson clearly has his sarcasm.
13-I love remembering every vacation we ever took
14-I miss him filling the car up with gas, even when it's cold outside.
15-I miss him killing the spiders!
16-I miss sitting by him in church and rubbing his back.
17-I miss making him pretzels on Sunday afternoon.
18-I miss hearing all about his day...
19-And I miss telling him about mine.
20-I miss settlers of Catan nights.
21-I miss seeing him bit the neck of his shirts.
22-I miss his socks hanging off his feet.
23-I miss nightly family prayers and his words of wisdom.
24-I miss having someone to share my fears with...
25-and someone to celebrate my victories with.
26-I miss cheering with him at Roo's soccer games.
27-And beaming with pride when Adyson excels at school.
28-I miss his friendship with my brother.  He helped unite my family...and I'm forever grateful for it.
29-I miss him telling me I'm beautiful.  Even in those moments when I clearly wasn't!
30-I miss yelling at him for leaving his port bandaid in the shower... NEVER thought I'd say that.
31-I miss sitting on our front porch feeling the sun on our faces together.
32-I miss kissing him goodbye.
33-I miss him kissing me goodbye.
34-I miss the security of having him around.
35-I miss his knowledge of all these electronics....I'm sometimes cursing him for help!
36-I miss his smile.
37-I miss chatting about our future.
38-I miss his voice. So incredibly much.
39-And I miss our life together.  This wont ever change.

Happy Birthday Travis.
I hope you got our balloons, felt our love, and shot a hole in one in Heaven.
You are loved.
And you are missed!