Sacred time

N and I have a rare chance for one-on-one time. County schools are closed today, but the preschool S goes to is not. I have been looking forward to this day for weeks, because my #1 son really needs me. I'll do some household stuff, like
  • Picking up the playroom
  • Folding the rest of the laundry
  • Putting it away
But most of my time is going to be spent with my guy. I'm guessing that we'll
  • Play a game or two or three of Life, Trouble, Crazy Eights, War
  • Go see Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
  • Spend a lot of time outside in this gorgeous weather
What I really want is to be present to him, mindful of him and his heart. I'm so easily distracted by other things (like this stupid computer). Today, I give to my son. Hold us in your prayers.

Updated, 9:46 p.m. -- We really did have a nice day with each other. We played board games; we went to lunch and the movie; then we went to an indoor swim park, with giant slides and fountains. Great fun all around. There were moments when happiness flashed across his face, but it's going to take a whole lot more than just one day with mom to make this little boy feel better.


Go-Go Yubari's blog entry yesterday reflected a conversation she and I had had about how hard it is to manage both our grief and our kids' grief. Our attempts to move forward and rebuild our lives may clash with what our children need or want at the time. I know of one widow who has said point blank that she will not date until her children have graduated high school because her children are her first priority; given that her girls are now in elementary school, I think that's a bit extreme. (And she's a few years out, so that is not raw grief speaking.)

My 8YO is struggling so hard right now. He wants his father back, and that's all he wants. But since he can't have Dad, he wants to get rid of his brother and to get rid of MB -- so that he can have me all to himself. I understand that; really I do. And I feel so terrible for him: The two things he wants most in the world are not going to happen. Even if MB weren't in the picture, N would still have his brother; I can only believe that one day the two boys will be good friends and grateful for each other.

Priorities. N is so fragile right now; his well-being is my biggest concern. How do I give him what he needs without letting the household revolve around him? Without letting his grief shape my own recovery? And S needs certain things from me as well. And some of the things he needs (like firm, sometimes loud, discipline) clash with what N needs (like absence of conflict). Sigh. And Mom has needs, too ... get your mind out of the gutter! Even in an ordinary household, balancing everyone's needs is tricky. But in a household recovering from tragedy, with people moving through grief as best they can --- it's beyond tricky.

Priorities. I have to take care of myself and feel good about myself, or I can't take care of the boys and help them feel good about themselves. And one of the things that makes me feel good about myself is when I take care of the house.... Is that a good segue, or what?
  1. Plant the rest of the pansies.
  2. Plant the clematis vines.
  3. Fold the laundry.
  4. Clean out the flower bed by the front porch.
  5. Ellipticise.

Updated, 1:26 p.m. -- WOW! I just have to say WOW! The site counter just recorded 1,000 visits to my blog since March 3. I cannot believe that! I sure wish I knew who finds my life so fascinating.

BTW, since I'm here, I'll tell you that I've done all the gardening work. Now I just have to do the laundry. And Ellipticise. Right. ::rolling eyes::

9:43 p.m. -- AND I actually folded most of the laundry, not all but most of it. In particular I folded all the boys' clothes (who cares about mine?).

Post-parting blues

MB went home yesterday. Boo-hoo. I feel like taking the day off and indulging myself in a pity party. Lonesome me. Poor me. Feel sorry for me. But that's NOT a happening thing!

Instead I will
  1. Clean the family room for the first time in a week.
  2. And vacuum it.
  3. Sweep under the dining room table -- ewwwww.
  4. Clear off my desk ... I think I have a desk. Somewhere. Under all that paper. And debris.
  5. Find the tax report that my accountant called and asked for last night.
  6. Fold the flippin' laundry!
Wish me success in doing these things ... but DON'T feel sorry for me! TTYL.

Updated, 10:15 p.m. -- Guess what! I didn't fold the laundry. Big surprise, huh? But EVERYTHING else got done. AND I took the tax papers to the accountant. AND I planted lots of pansies in my flower bed. AND I turned on the hose (had to get in the crawl space to do that) and watered my new peach tree. AND I took the garbage and recycling to the curb.

Lovely, Just Lovely

MB and I have had a wonderful time with each other. We've just enjoyed each other's company so very much. Whether we're doing the daily stuff of shopping and cooking and cleaning, or kicking back with a glass of wine and silly TV shows, or being productive with househ0ld maintenace ... we're simply glad to be together.

I sure wish he didn't have to leave tomorrow.
That pesky laundry managed to avoid me yesterday, but I got everything else done on my list -- AND I made it to the accountant with all my tax papers organized. What a load off that is.

S is home today, so MB and I want to do something fun with him. It's cold, so we probably won't do much more than go to the playground. I also really do need to sort socks!

Not much to say, so I won't take up your bandwidth.

Still smiling

MB said he could see my ear-to-ear grin as soon as he saw my car come around the bend at the airport. It's so nice to be with him.

Even so, there are things I must do today:
  1. Get the boys to school.
  2. Enjoy a cup of coffee with MB when I get back.
  3. Sweep the kitchen and front stairs.
  4. Sort my desk papers.
  5. Pay a few critical bills.
  6. Fold the laundry? Sort the socks?


Oh, happy day! My Bear is coming to town.

And since he's arriving earlier than planned, I have to go into a last-minute frenzy of picking up and cleaning.

I may not be posting much for a while (he doesn't leave until next Tuesday). I'll try to check in just to say hey, but don't look for profundity and wisdom. I hope my faithful readers -- yeah, right -- will forgive me and will not abandon me.

Love you all madly, but I really need to get busy!

I didn't want to believe it was true

Everybody said it. But I didn't want to hear it. I was warned. But I thought they had to be wrong. After all, how could they be right?

How could the second year of widowhood be harder than the first? It simply did not seem possible. But whenever the question comes up, everyone (okay, George, not EVERYone) says that Year Two is harder than Year One.
Sidebar: I just did a nonscientific study on the subject. I searched all forums of the board for posts with Year Two, Second Year, or Year 2 in the title. I scanned the ones that seemed to compare the first and second years. I looked at 10 threads: 7 people thought that Year Two was better; 46 thought that Year Two was worse; and 17 people equivocated, saying it was "different" or that some things were harder and others were worse.Well, I heard it, but I wouldn't believe it. And even if it WERE true, it wouldn't be true for me. After all, I'm different. ::snort::
I didn't run away from grief in Year 1. I didn't have the subconscious hope that he'd be coming back. I embraced the tears in Year 1. I let myself wail in Year 1. I didn't expect things to be magically better in Year 2
I am a well-grounded person. I have an active inner life. I am comfortable with myself. I have deep reserves of spiritual strength. I found a tremendous community of support in the YWBB, and I am surrounded and loved by people who "get it."I've been doing "so well."
I'm special. ::doubled over with laughter::
blah blah blah Whatever. It turns out that "they" were right. I never would have believed that anything could have been worse than Year One. But so many things have been so much harder, especially in the last month or so:
The protective effect of shock is gone.The fog that makes everything sort of hazy is gone.
I spent so much energy simply surviving Year One, that I have no phsyical reserves now -- I am tired all the time.Because I'm so physically drained, my body's defenses are down -- I get sick easier and stay sick longer.
I finally got hit by anger, which fairly took the breath out of me. It's harder for my 8YO now. His pain and anger are finally coming to the surface, making it so much more painful for me. The grieving has been deeper, not necessarily more painful, but harder. I'm finally clearing out some of the physical reminders, things I couldn't bear to throw away in Year One but that I have no possible use for (unless anybody wants unopened boxes of expired contact lens liquids). And each time I throw something away, there's a twist of the knife a little deeper into my gut. I expected more of myself, had higher expectations for my ability to get through this morass.
But you know what? I'm not different; I'm not special.

And it's still so EFFING WRONG! and he is STILL DEAD.
It's going to be a busy day today...
  1. Getting the boys off to school
  2. Volunteering at N's school
  3. Going to the grocery store
  4. Making up the guest room
  5. Changing everyone's sheets
  6. Washing three loads of laundry
  7. Folding FIVE loads
  8. Ellipticising
  9. Writing a post for the Young Widows blog
I hope I can get all this done. I have been so low on energy these days. I don't know if it's grief or being sick (I've had a lingering cough) or just plain old exhaustion.

Whatever. I've gotta get going. TTYL.

Updated, 10:00 p.m. -- Well, I didn't get everything done, but I made good progress. I didn't get the guest room made up, and I didn't fold the laundry, and I didn't ellipticise. Oh well. That's what tomorrow is for.

Discipline -- n.

  1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
  2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.
    1. Control obtained by enforcing compliance or order.
    2. A systematic method to obtain obedience: a military discipline.
    3. A state of order based on submission to rules and authority: a teacher who demanded discipline in the classroom.
  3. Punishment intended to correct or train.
  4. A set of rules or methods, as those regulating the practice of a church or monastic order.
  5. A branch of knowledge or teaching.
This blog is intended to Motivate Myself to get in the habit of doing my chores in a reasonable manner (definition 1). I need to get back to that! So -- "Grief, Begone! Get out of my way so I can reclaim my house!"

Too bad it doesn't work that way. But I can exercise a certain amount of control and make myself do things that I don't want to do (definition 2). I need to have order in my house, and my boys need it as well (definition 3), and when that order is absent, we all suffer the consequences (definition 4). The reality is that there is something calming and satisfying about maintaining order in the house; it makes it easier to be present to any given situation, to be attentive to nuance, to recognize moments of grace -- not unlike the disciplines of mindfulness or prayer (definition 5).

And if I can be mindful or prayerful, even about something so mundane as the laundry, then I can learn more about myself and my children. And goodness knows there is so much to know, so much to learn (definition 6).

So the word for the day is discipline.

Things to do today:
  1. Wash the dishes from last night.
  2. Clean and vacuum the family room.
  3. Clean and sweep the playroom.
  4. Wash a few loads of laundry.
  5. Make several important phone calls.
  6. Clear detritus out of the guest room -- company's coming. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
  7. Ellipticise.

Updated, 10:15 p.m. -- Hooray! I did everything. Almost. I never made it to my elliptical trainer. But everything else got done. AND I emptied all the little trash cans. AND I had nice play time with both my boys. AND I had a good phone call with my mom. AND I arranged a playdate for N tomorrow. Feels good to have accomplished my goals.

Sucker punch -- vt.

To punch a person suddenly without warning and often without apparent provocation
I also understand the term to imply some form of trickery or deception... focusing the target's attention in one place while the punch comes from another direction.

That's what happened yesterday. After being blindsided by Google, I actually managed to do most of the chores on my list. And then things fell apart. I need to respect my son's privacy, so I'll simply say that the suffering of the children tears me apart. It utterly breaks my heart that my boys have to grow up without their father, that they have to endure the grief and pain of that unutterable loss. I do believe I feel their pain twice as strongly as I feel my own right now... mostly because I feel so helpless in the face of it. I want to make everything all better for them, and I can't. I want to fix everything, and I can't.

And so we are a houseful of broken hearts.

Chores? Screw 'em. I took the trash and recycling to the curb, and I'll wash dishes and cook dinner, but don't expect a whole lot more from me than that.

Congratulate me, please

I did something remarkable this morning, before I was even dressed for the day. You know that laundry that had been waiting and waiting to be folded? That I finally folded, on a day when I hadn't even planned on doing so? My preschooler, my darling angelboy, my sweet little 3YO who may not make it to 4 -- threw it all over the room. And I did not kill him. I really think there should be a special medal for this kind of amazing self-restraint. I know, it's my fault for not putting the laundry away; that's what I always tell my 8YO when his little brother takes apart a hard-built Lego set. Now I know why he gets so mad at me for saying that!

The other things I've accomplished so far are so trivial in comparison that they don't even merit mentioning. On my list of things to do today:
  1. Fold the effing laundry and put it away! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
  2. Make a few important posts to the board.
  3. Clean the kitchen floor.
  4. Clean my bathroom.
  5. Take N to counselor.
  6. Go to bank for allowance money. (I need lots of singles and quarters.)
  7. Take the boys to church for the liturgy of the presanctified.
This last item reminds me of something important: I've started doing Night Prayer with the boys again. Nick and I sang Compline virtually every night of our married life, once we discovered it. It was a part of our family rituals since the boys were babies. I kept it up for a long time after Nick died, but I let it slip away at some point last year. Just this week, I've started having family prayers before bedtime. I don't do full Compline, which takes about 10-15 minutes; but I'm doing the Trisaghion prayers and the Prayer for the Dead. The boys are complaining about it. But they settle down for it as well -- and every once in a while, N starts singing with me. Then he catches himself singing and stops: God forbid that he acknowledge that the prayers move him even the slightest bit.

Oh F*CK! I just googled "trisaghion prayers," so I could make a hyperlink to it. The first four entries are for Nick's memorial service. F*ck, f*ck, F*CK.

Damn, damn damn...
Drop down a few entries, and you'll see my name: Penthaetria. With a link to another forum where I asked about customary prayers at a cemetery. One of the members of that forum posted a poem that he wrote for my boys when he heard of Nick's death. Damn damn damn. This whole thing is so stinking wrong. I really hate being a widow, you know? I really hate that my boys have lost their Daddy. I really hate that I have lost my Nicholas. I hate it hate it hate it.

Screw the hyperlinks. If you want to read about the trisaghion prayers, you'll have to google them yourself. I need a hankie. TTYL.

Five minutes later: And if you're not a widow and you're reading this, you have now witnessed how easily talking about something good in your life can lead to a mini-meltdown. How something as ordinary as Googling information can stir the pot and cause it to overflow. The life of a widow.
I was feeling crummy this morning, so I put nothing on my to-do list. That goal was met.

Goodbye to all that

I always feel like I have to reclaim my house on Mondays. After the boys have been home for 2 days, the place looks like a whirlwind hit it. Of course, N's room always looks that way, and that's how he likes it. But I try to make sure that the rest of the house looks inhabitable.

I've been busy already:
  1. Got the boys fed, clothed, and off to school.
  2. Volunteered in N's 2nd-grade classroom
  3. Adjusted the swing of the new storm door so that it latches (but now it's really LOUD)
  4. Taken the old storm door and some 20-year-old outdoor furniture to the dump.
Letting go of the furniture marks the end of an era. My sister bought it for their house here in Maryland about 20 years ago. When Nick and I moved into our first house, it was wonderful to have a piece of my sister with us, because she her family had moved to Arizona. I always said I would rehab the furniture: Replace the boards, sand off the rust, repaint the metal. But I've been saying that for 10 years now, and I've finally admit ted that I'm just not going to do it. Sigh.

Goodbye, Jane... goodbye, wonderful years when my family was all together around the picnic table... goodbye, bridge parties under starry skies... goodbye, Saturday coffee with Nick on the glider chair... goodbye, thoughts of rebuilding something new from something old... goodbye, good intentions... goodbye to all that, and more.

Still to do today...
  1. Pick up mess in the family room.
  2. Pick up mess in the playroom.
  3. Pick up mess in the living room. (Do I detect a pattern here?)
  4. Pick up mess in the kitchen. (Why, yes -- I do!)
  5. Fold the laundry? Naaaahhhhhh....

Updated, 9:33 p.m. -- Go me! Not only did I do numbers 1-4, but I also folded the laundry. I am so impressed with myself. All in all, it was a good day.


No sh*t!

I know the outcome would have been the same, but maybe -- just maybe -- we would have been able to say goodbye.

Time to play catch up

Somehow the housework got away from me this last week. Go figure. Do you think emotional stress had anything to do with that? (MB and I are back together, btw. We don't know "WHY," but we sure are glad!)

I haven't done a darned thing yet -- gotta love Saturdays -- but today I will
  1. Tend the fish tank.
  2. Sort the books in the living room, giving away those the boys no longer look at.
  3. Fold and put away the flippin' laundry.
  4. Get S to help me put the playroom back together.
  5. Scour the stove -- it is truly disgusting.
  6. Spend as much time outside with the boys as I possibly can; it's one of those beautiful BEAUTIFUL spring days.

Updated, 6:30 p.m. -- What is it about laundry that it resists being done? Or is it just me?

I did everything else, though. I spent over an hour scrubbing the stove, including removing the knobs and the drip pans and the flame covers. Yes, it was THAT dirty; but now, it is THAT clean!

Well, the night's still young. Maybe I'll get to that laundry pile before bedtime.


The Great Pine, 1892-1896

Mont Sant Victoire and the Quarry at Bibemus, 1900

Mountains in Provence, 1886-1890

There really is nothing else to say.

A day of rest

Breathing deeply and taking it easy. But it's already been a reasonably productive morning:
  1. Took the garbage and recycling to the curb.
  2. Worked with N on a schedule of chores and allowance amounts.
  3. Got N out the door to school.
  4. Worked with S to put away all the Rescue Heroes.
  5. Helped him set up his Little People farm.
  6. Assembled his Hot Wheels track.
I still need to
  1. Do laundry (what a surprise!).
  2. Fold laundry (what a surprise!).
  3. Put away laundry (what a SURPRISE!).
  4. Clean up the back room.
  5. Go to the bank.
  6. Gather tax paperwork for the accountant.
Obviously, there's a whole lot more I could do. But I'm just taking it easy and laying low.

Updated, 9:31 p.m. -- So much for being motivated. ** sigh**
  1. I washed one load of laundry.
  2. I didn't fold it.
  3. I surely didn't put it away.
  4. I never even went to the back room.
  5. Nope.
  6. Uh-uh.
On the other hand, I did have a wonderful time playing Mama Kitty to S's Baby Kitty. And I showed the toddler across the street how to draw flowers on the driveway with chalk. And I paid the last of this month's bills. And filed them away! And I put all of my 2005 bills into their permanent binder. And I scrubbed last nights bacon frying pan. And had a knock-down dragout fight with N over homework. And got the boys to church for the Liturgy of the Presanctified.

I can't even say I'll start over tomorrow, because tomorrow, I'm going with some widder friends to see the Cezanne exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. How cool is that?


I was driving S to school, and I knew today was the day.

I went home and cleaned and vacuumed the family room.

I turned on the Bach cantata that Nick and I used at our wedding, putting it on continuous play.

I laid out every condolence card and letter I received after Nick's death.

I sorted them.

I read them.

I wept. Loudly.

I screamed through the tears like a 2-year-old demanding to be heard and attended to.

I lay on the carpet and wailed.

I gnawed on my hand, weeping.

I read them again.

I put the ones that my boys might some day want to read into a special binder.

I threw the rest away.

And if I do nothing else for the rest of the day, it is a day well spent.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

Perhaps we were fooling ourselves all along.
Perhaps we never could have made a life together.
Perhaps I needed him more than I loved him.

Perhaps we were brought together for only a season of healing.
Perhaps we gave each other all that we could.
Perhaps I have loved him as best I can.

Perhaps we are meant for each other.
Perhaps we can have a lifetime of love and healing.
Perhaps I love him more than even I know.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

With apologies to Cake, but sometimes there is no "yes" or "no"

Now I must get out of my heart, out of my head, to the world that demands attention. So far today, I have
  1. Found 2 overdue library books.
  2. Found the right "guy" for S's current play craze.
  3. Gotten N fed, clothed, and to school.
  4. Plowed through the pile of clothes on the chair in my bedroom.
Today I must
  1. Play dragons and dinosaurs.
  2. Help N set up his prayer corner. (I'm so glad he actually wants to do that!)
  3. Fold and put away the laundry.
  4. Spend at least an hour in the back room.
  5. Pay bills.
  6. Sort tax papers.
  7. Ellipticise.
Updated, 10:53 p.m. -- Ugh. A dreary day of the heart. I played with S for hours, including a great trip to the playground, which was lovely. And I reconciled my checkbook and paid bills. But that, I'm afraid, was it. Regular old pity party going on here. I'll start fresh tomorrow....


Not knowing where to start, I'll start with the mundane. So far today, I have --
  1. Fed and clothed the boys.
  2. Gotten them off to school.
  3. Endured blasts of ugliness for making N ride his bike instead of driving him.
  4. Remembered that I am supposed to volunteer in N's classroom today.
  5. Hauled the old storm door to the curb, hoping they will put it into the garbage truck.
  6. Been bowled over by a post on the widows board, one which cast the difference between grief and mourning in terms of TIME.
Still to do --
  1. Pick up the living room.
  2. Pick up the playroom.
  3. Wash and fold 2 loads of laundry.
  4. Volunteer in N's classroom.
  5. Make a liquor store run. [Roll Eyes]
  6. Breathe. I need to remember to breathe.

Updated, 11:12 p.m. -- Mindfulness: being aware, attentive to, heedful of. I have always tried to pay attention to my life, to the little things, the nuances. Widowhood both dulled and sharpened that mindfulness. So much gets lost in the struggle, yet everything has more meaning.

I'm blathering, sorry. My mind has been too busy to be mindful. I need to let my mind rest, stop trying to shove the pieces into predetermined places, because nothing is set in stone. The pieces I have aren't the same as the ones I used to have. Whatever life I build with the remaining pieces and new ones I pick up along the way will look nothing like the life I had with Nick.

I have worked so hard to understand my widowed life, to make sense of it, of who I am. I have tried to fit MB into that. But I can't do that; I can't shove him into a predetermined niche. If he is to be part of my life, I need to allow him to take his own place. And in so doing, he will help me shape a new life, with a new set of pieces.

Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen. He and I have tried so hard this week to hold on to each other, but the pain I have caused him is too deep, and it would seem that I have lost his trust. I can't promise him the future we both want. As much as my heart is breaking for loving him right now, I guess that's not enough.

btw, for those who are curious, I completed tasks 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. I washed two loads of laundry but I did not fold them.

An ordinary day

I hope that title doesn't tempt fate! Today, I am not writing/thinking/feeling/doing anything profound, insightful, or wise. Actually, I think I used today's quota of all that yesterday, in my treatise about grief vs. mourning.

So far today, I have --
  1. Gotten the boys fed, dressed, and off to school.
  2. Sent several emails.
  3. Drafted changes to a key document in one of my communities.
  4. Breathed deeply.
Still to do --
  1. Install the new storm door. Okay, I'm not doing it, but I'll "help" one of Nick's colleagues do it.
  2. Fold that blasted laundry.
  3. Put it away!
  4. Wash the kitchen floor.
  5. Ellipticise.
  6. Prepare for N to bring a friend home from school.
  7. Schedule haircuts for both boys.
  8. Start organizing tax-related paperwork to deliver to my accountant.
That should keep me out of trouble!

Updated, 10:40 p.m. -- Ellipticise! I need to Ellipticise! I got everything else done though. Including putting away the laundry -- and I even sorted those blasted socks. AND I put site-counters on both my blogs. AND while scrubbing the floors, I scrubbed my baseboards and appliances.


Yesterday was probably one of the worst of the 571 days that have passed since Nick died. I purposely chose to note that time in days, because the days stretch out so much longer than the weeks and months. A month goes by so quickly -- 18 months is nothing -- but a day is an eternity.

I can hope that I reached bottom yesterday, that the only place to go from here is up -- at least for a while. I can hope that I'm on the road to recovery, that all will be well from here on out. More realistically, I can say that I've recovered my footing. I was perilously close to the abyss, frantically trying to maintain my balance. I am more relaxed today, still uncertain, but not so afraid.

And so today, I will regain footing. And get some work done!
  1. Wash two loads of laundry.
  2. Fold five loads!
  3. Clean the kitchen, which was totally ignored yesterday.
  4. Be grateful for the goodness of my life.

Updated, 11:30 pm -- I got everything done. Well, almost. I sorted the laundry, not folded it. BUT, with S's help, I put away all the toys in the playroom (again), and he helped me sweep up the latest mountain of playdoh chips. Good enough?

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

I know that Dylan Thomas wrote that line to his dying father. But they are my words to the Universe, to God, to Nick. My soul is raging.

It took 18 months, but I'm finally angry. And not just angry, but furious.

For the last 9 months or so, I have had a little sign taped over my kitchen sink: Hey, pay attention. The great life we built is still here. Enjoy it for both of us.

Well, that is total BULLSH*T.

The great life we built is gone.
Nick is gone.
The woman he married is gone.
The sweetness of our children is gone.
This house is not OUR house.
This life is not OUR life.

And I am effing furious about that. Last night, I screamed and raged and cried for an hour and more. Then I took the sign down, cut it into strips, and burned it.

Yes, I felt better after doing that. But there's an empty space where I'm used to seeing the sign. Just as there is an empty space where I am used to seeing my life.