His And Her Sinks

When we started looking at a house to buy, we were like all other couples with a must have list. Of course my list was longer than franks.

His:

  1. Garage with automatic door
  2. Backyard 
  3. Space for a fire pit

Mine:

  1. Garden style bath tub
  2. His and her sinks
  3. Kitchen island
  4. Open floor plan with lots of wall space
  5. Lots of Natural lighting

I found the style of house that fit all our needs and we got lucky and got a huge backyard too. Unfortunately it was two stories but I put my foot down and got to hear him complain about the stairs each time he had to go upstairs for anything. Small sacrifices I thought.

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The master and guest bathrooms both have his and her sinks. They are wonderful because I have so much stuff that it always overflowed on sink. We had it parted right down the middle and all my mess stayed on my half. 

3 different lotions, 2 different perfumes, jewelry everywhere, 5 different hair products, tooth paste and brush, candles and so much more. His only has the few items he used. Tooth paste, toothbrush, beard brush with those damn grey hairs stuck in it, comb, beard oil, hair gel and medication. The only item that could breach the centerline was Q-tips. The one item we shared, besides an economy style bottle of men’s body wash in the shower. 

Every time I go into our bathroom, I look at his things and I haven’t moved them an inch since he put them down for the last time. 

I spent most of the day deep cleaning the downstairs and kept delaying going upstairs to clean our bathroom. Making excuses to myself, then I realized why that was. When I clean the sinks, I take everything off then place them back on later. Now I’m faced with the dilemma. What do I do about his things? Do I put them back in the position they were? Do I throw stuff away that I can’t use?  Is this the first step towards accepting that he won’t ever be coming home? 

I know that I have been partitioning my mind to  protect myself even though I know he is gone. I’ve been avoiding throwing anything away or separating his clothes. I have his picture on the bar counter downstairs with two electronic tea lights that I leave on 24/7. I don’t want him in the dark. I also leave a strong shot of whiskey there. It’s the first thing I see when I walk through the front door and I kiss my finger tips and press them to his picture when I tell him “I love you”, when I leave the house. 

I know it’s depressing. I know it’s a memorial that I won’t keep there all the time. I will eventually take it upstairs to the loft. To be in my library. My sanctuary space. So other people don’t have to feel uncomfortable when they see it.  

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But I need it. I need to see him and remember his face, his eyes, his smile. I miss him almost more than I can bear.  

Most days, I’m barely holding on by the skin of my fingernails. I’m one hug or kind word away from breaking down. I’ve been keeping a journal, reading books on grief, talking with a select few and today I asked my primary care doctor to set me up an appointment with a therapist at the VA. I’m doing everything I can to keep moving forward. To heal, to stay open and leave my heart vulnerable. 

I still have to put everything back on the counter before I go to bed tonight. I still don’t know what I will do.

Those stupid fucking his and her sinks. 

Holding on to Glory

 

As I walked through the doors of the funeral home. I took a deep breath and steeled my emotions. The reception doors were already open and I could see his casket. We walk into the room and I sighed in relief to see that he looked so good. I was so worried about that. I was also surprised to see so many flowers in the room and took a moment to read each card. I noticed that his helmet was not where I had asked it to be placed and the other items were not on display either. I just got so angry and immediately went looking for the director or an assistant. I calmly explained that I needed a table and for them to find the items I had dropped off the day prior with specific instructions. 

They moved a table for me and I set up his memorial table with his picture, poem, helmet, bandana, flowers and a wooden plaque to be signed. 

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By this time, his mom and sister had left the viewing room and I took some alone time with him. I talked to him and put a letter in the casket. I had the funeral director help me to put in his ear gauges and to drape a flag across the end of the casket. To me, the flag needed to be on there at all times. I knew his veteran buddies would be asking where the flag was if it wasn’t there.

I started to watch the slideshow they had prepared with the pictures and music we had provided when I heard the sound of rumbling and the pack of riders rolled into the parking lot. I lost control of my emotions as the number of riders took my breath away. I had asked them to wear a bandana in his honor and each rider or passenger had them on. 

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The Patriot Guard had also taken their place at the entrance. A flag for the Army, Navy, Old Glory on either side. I thanked each person standing at attention, holding the flags and opening the doors for the people coming in. 

It was such a beautiful tribute.

I took Neal into the viewing room and shut the door to give us privacy before everyone else came in like he requested and I just stood next to him as he said goodbye. 

The viewing officially started and his family and I took our places in the viewing room and people came to pay respect. I didn’t know how to reply to people and could only thank them for coming. 

A few of his friends requested to place items in the casket and I said that it would be just fine.

It felt like the worlds longest hour.

I could hear the music from the slideshow and it made me smile that I was able to include/sneak a Five Finger Death Punch song in.

Finally the service was to begin so they closed his casket, draped the flag and had everyone go in and sit. I told our closest friends to sit in the reserved family section since they are my family. His mom told me that she told the honor guard to give me the flag and it completely took me by surprise. Normally it’s only given to a spouse, if not then the next of kin. It was very humbling and I can never express how thankful I am to her for showing me that kindness. We had a final meeting and prayer before we went in. 

The chapel was packed…..

The first preacher spoke and I appreciated his message since he knew Frank as a child. The message was religious but respectful I felt. Frank was not overly religious in general. Next, the song “When I get where I’m going” by Brad Paisley played. It’s a beautiful song that was played at his dad’s service only 5 years ago and was requested by his mom. Then Neal went up and said a brief message before he read the note that I had written. He did beautifully and read it just like I wrote it. Cuss words and all. A second preacher closed out the service with I thought, an overly long sermon style message that didn’t really make sense but it was fine. We are in the south so I tried not to let it bother me.

I thought I was doing pretty well. His service was almost complete and I was holding it together. Until the first notes of Taps rang out…

I have always choked up when it played but as it played for the man that I loved, I couldn’t stop the sob from escaping and echoing in the chapel. 

The heart breaking, beautiful melody sang in the air and as it ended, the Army Reservists in full dress proceeded to lift and fold his flag. I have folded the flag many times in the service, whenever I had flag detail and had to lower the flag at sunset. But I had never seen it folded at a funeral service and I knew that those poor kids were nervous with a chapel full of bikers watching their every move. 

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As the young man approached me and took a knee. I just looked at his sweet face, so young and innocent. He handed me the flag and repeated the words that I never expected to hear.  “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service”.  I could only manage to say thank you and held it close to me as we walked out of the chapel to start the receiving line. 

I placed Old Glory next to his helmet so I could embrace each and every person, one last time and thank them for honoring Frank.

That night, a majority of friends came over to swap stories, drink a beer or two and just be together. I gave a select few a poker chip from Frank’s collection, so they could keep a small part of him close to them.

Our friend Dave and I stood close to the fire. Watching the flames dance, I put my arm around his waist and he leaned into me.

He tells me that he will build me a shadow box for the flag but it may take him awhile. I tell him not to stress about it and I appreciated him wanting to do that for me.

At the end of the night, I carry his flag upstairs with me. I didn’t like the idea of it downstairs, so far from me.

I placed it next to me in bed, turned to hold it close to me and the tears started to flow. The rough canvas scratches me and surprised me. For some reason I had it in my head that it would be soft against my cheek and it made me think about Old Glory.

It is designed to take the roughest weather, to have the scorching sun beat down upon it. It has been in war zones, carried into battle, travels the world with our military men and women. Why would it be soft? It has to be able to withstand everything that this world throws at it.

Only the strongest material could withstand all that…..

I decided in that instant that I didn’t like the idea of putting it in a shadow box. To be placed on display and gather dust. To me, Old Glory is an extension of Frank. It was the last thing to cover him and I feel closer to him when I hold it close to me. 

A few days later, I held it close, cried and talked to him as I flipped through the catalog of Urns that the funeral home gave us. Trying to pick out the best tribute for him. I decide on a bio-degradable salt sphere that I can put in the ocean and it will dissolve. I also get a glass sphere that mixes a small amount of his ashes with colors to make a beautiful swirl pattern. It will be about the size of a golf ball and I will carry him with me on the rest of my adventures. 

I still continue to hold on to Glory each and every night.  Luckily sleep has been a friend to me. Silent, dreamless, black. It’s when I open my eyes and that first ache of remembering kicks in. 

A day may come when I don’t need to have his flag so close to me but for now it will stay in my bed. Watching over me.

Saying Your Name

I finished reading a book today about grief and coping after losing someone to a sudden and violent death.

What a waste of fucking money…

The title is great and I thought it would help but it didn’t. It was geared mostly towards people who had someone murdered or killed by another person. It started out good then quickly veered off, it’s like it was trying to reach to many people and was very generalized. Except when describing court and legal actions.

I will continue to look and read books to help but it’s becoming clear that what I need is a more personal view not helpful hints.

I need to read about someone breaking down and sitting on the floor in tears. Being so angry that you feel like your skin should rip from trying to hold in the brokenness. How you can be so high, laughing, happy and then crash into despair within hours… Moments even.

The parts I did take away from the book was that I will not go through the stages of grief the same as someone who is able to prepare for the death of their loved one.

I knew that already.

That each person feels differently based on who they were before it happened. The ones with the strongest support system will have an easier time, those who were independent from their partner, if they have faith.

I’ve been working on doing the small things. Laundry, dishes, cooking, working and staying busy. From the outside, I’m sure it looks like I’m doing really well and finding happiness again… Smiling again.

They don’t see that I hide it from them. I grieve in silence and alone. Like it’s a hidden addiction that I’m ashamed of. I just don’t want to keep throwing my pain in their faces, reminding them of his loss, of their own fragility.

Hell, I can’t even get them to say his name. Like saying Frank out loud or talking about him is going to make me upset or make me break down. Yes, I will probably cry but it’s just cause I can’t stop it from happening….it doesn’t mean that it hurts me.

I say his name as much is possible, to hear it again. I don’t want to lose the memories or stories that other people may have with him or about him.

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It’s still so surreal that my sweet love, my best friend came to this bitter end. I am hurt beyond measure, sorrow fills each and every breath I take. I’d give everything to lay in your arms again. To run my hand across your chest while we lay in bed. To cup your face like I did countless times before. To look into your beautiful blue eyes and see your secret smile, the one only for me.

 

 

Losing You

It’s the quiet moments in the morning that hurt the most. That haze in my eyes as they adjust to the sun shining through the windows. It’s peaceful, quiet and painless….until that first thought creeps in and I lose you all over again.

I hear your moms desperate voice echoing the words that shattered my world. Over and over it plays.

I go through the motions, day in and out. I just want to hear your voice and I’m dying inside without you.

I’ll get busy at work and forget that you’re gone. I’ll get out my phone to text you, see how your day is going or just to say I love you. It’s like a knife slices open my heart and I’m left bleeding out on the floor. I just have to put my phone away and go back to work. Find a distraction to stop the tears from falling.

I’m so angry now.

Little things cause me to explode and I try to cover it up with a smile but it wears thin. I struggle to keep the mask on so the outside world can’t see my pain.

I have to thrown myself into distractions. Seeing new places, spending time with friends. I would be lost without my friends, without your friends. They help me to laugh, smile and remember you.

I haven’t turned to alcohol or medications. I don’t want to dull  this pain or shove it down to the darkest parts of me like I usually do.

I want this brokenness to heal, to have the wounds on my heart heal, and just leave the thin white scars from loving and losing you.

I just don’t see the light in the darkness yet. You surround me, you’re everywhere. In our house, music, clothing, every facet of my life… You are there.

It feels like a betrayal to think about moving on or changing our house. I don’t want to hide you away, but I don’t want it to become a tomb either.

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I keep 2 battery lite candles and a strong shot of whiskey next to your picture in the frame. Always remembering and honoring you.

I just feel like a ship in the middle of a storm. Waves tossing me from one side to the next, choking on the tears as they stream down relentlessly. You were my lighthouse, standing tall and true. Always bringing me home, no matter how far I travelled away from you.

Now I’m searching into the blackness, wind howling, screaming around me. Unable to see my way.

Everyone is telling me to look to God and I just can’t. That wound goes far deeper than they realize. I get glimpses of light, through my friends and family. They are slowly leading me home and the more I open up and let them in, the more light will make it through my storm.

Maybe that’s how God will reach me with his love. Through the love our friends are pouring out to me. Because I’m done reaching up to Him, reaching up for his help. If he wants to reach me….he has to find me where I am.

He has always been silent when I prayed for guidance, direction, to know the purpose for my life. I know he doesn’t cause pain but he could’ve saved you. He could’ve delayed you by five minutes and you would have been in my arms now.

I have to avoid when my mind starts thinking this way,  it always leads to the one thing that will never let me heal 100%.

If I hadn’t been sick, if I hadn’t canceled dinner… You would’ve come home at the regular time. I told you to go out and spend time with your friends. It’s my fault, and I’ll never forgive myself. It’s that dark truth that I have to lock away in my heart. To surface from time to time. Just enough to remind me, to cut me, to watch me bleed and laugh at the pain it causes.

 

Finding My Way

April 17th, 2018, the man that I had been in love with for 12 years was involved in a motorcycle accident and was killed.  He was taken from me violently and in an instant my whole world changed.

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This is my journey to figure out how to live in this new world, without him.

It’s not pretty. It’s gritty and raw like a scar that keeps ripping open…..over and over. I’m just left with tears streaming down my face and a hole where my heart used to be. Taking it one moment to moment.

I’m not ok but i’m fighting to get there.

This is one way.