Tuesday, November 25, 2008

it's beginning to look a 'little' like christmas.

the tree in alexander's room. white lights, gold bells, green bows and that's it. can you see the green bows? they're kind of hard to see. but it's simple and i love it. i used green bows because green is alexander's favorite color.
the tree in ethan's room. white lights, silver bells and red bows. yes. i started decorating for christmas before thanksgiving. i just felt like it and i figured i better take advantage of that feeling while it was there. james and i bought these little fake trees for the boys at the end of last year. i thought about james, of course, as i always do....while the boys and i decorated their trees.
i love christmas. i love the decorations. the christmas music. doing something for someone else that you think they might really love. this time of year is just magical. well, it always has been. and i'm trying not to let that all go away this year. i want the boys to enjoy the magic of santa, of this time of year. of being with family. of doing things for others. i want them to remember back on these years as magical and special. they love having a tree in their rooms. i always did when i was little and i'm glad they love it too.
christine was here with her boys for a few days. she took ethan to school yesterday morning and took her boys with her and alexander too. that meant i had a bit of free time. for the first time since james died. i wasn't sure what to do. take a nap? sit and stare blankly doing nothing? paint? make more phone calls (to find insurance that doesn't suck ass and cost a million trillion dollars a month)? what? what exactly should i do? i went christmas shopping. for the boys. i went to starbucks (thank you chuckers for that...so much!!).
it was both fun, and....well, it was sad. i decided to look for stocking stuffers for the boys. which was something james and i always did together. and of course i found myself wandering through target looking for something for james. then i sort of came out of my daze and realized i wouldn't be buying anything for james. and i lost it (for a minute). right in the middle of target. which was unusual for me. i tend to keep it together when i'm around people and cry only when i'm by myself. and i'm sure the people in target were thinking, "okay, what is wrong with THIS crazy lady?!" but i don't care.
i pulled myself together, fully realizing this christmas will be hard, and sad...but also full of joyous moments. i still want to be able to enjoy finding just the right thing for the boys. i hate shopping. EXCEPT at christmas time. i love poking around, looking for just the right thing for someone. so i'm going to do my best to enjoy and soak up every single happy moment that comes my way with this christmas season. i'm going to do my best to make this christmas the best it can be for the boys. i want magic in their lives.
i was thinking, as i walked into target yesterday, that no one would know my husband died last month just by looking at me, or talking to me. when someone says hi, i say hi back. i smile. i'm polite. and it's sort of surreal because on the inside i feel so completely different. it's hard to reconcile how i feel on the inside with how i act on the outside.
with thanksgiving just two days away, i wanted to take a moment to reflect. i am lucky. i have ethan. and alexander. i lost james, yes. it is the hardest thing i've ever gone through in my life. it scares me, that the boys will grow up without james. that i am wholly responsible for them. i had 18 years with james. and now i have the opportunity to turn this tragedy into something that's meaningful. to show the boys, give meaning to james' death. i have the opportunity to really change things. where we live. what i do for a living. how we actually live our lives. why would i want to change things you ask? if life with james was so great? well....because life without james is so different. that's why. and it's just me. me and the boys. so now we have to do what's best for the three of us. so i'm working on figuring out what that's going to be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

i want you to know....

dear james,
god how i wish you were here. i wish you were playing with the boys right now. i wish you were sitting on the couch so we could talk. i wish you had come in through the garage and i hear callie's tell-tale barking and excited prancing so i knew you were home. there is so much i didn't get a chance to tell you. i will always wonder if you could hear me when you were in the hospital.
i miss holding hands with you. i miss you laying in bed next to me. i even miss your snoring. omg it was so freaking annoying!!! but i knew you were there. and when it got to be too much i would just kick you. gently, of course. i used to look at you each night before i went to sleep. i used to listen to your breathing. i used to look at your silhouette in the dark, look at your hair, your face. it was always the last thing i did before i went to bed. i miss that. now that side of the bed is empty. and our bed is no longer a place i feel safe. it's just another place i feel lonely.
i want you to know how proud of you i am. i think you knew that. but i want to make sure. in the 10 years since you were diagnosed you went through so much. and it was hard. damn hard. heart transplant evaluation, so many medications, constant monitoring....always wondering....would you need a heart transplant or wouldn't you. would you live like this for the rest of your life? or what would happen. you lost so much.
i will always treasure the time we flew to fort bragg, just you and i. i am so proud of you for getting your pilot's license. and am so so sorry you lost your medical. i know it was hard for you. very hard. and i know how hard it was to not be able to climb anymore. or hike. but through it all, you never lost sight of who you are. yes, you got angry. you had every right to be angry. but you never let it change the core of who you are. and that is amazing.
i know, from first-hand experience, how hard it was for you to not let your heart take over your life. our life. we decided to live. just to live our lives, and not let this define us. omg. so much worry. i worried about you all the time. but tried never to let that show. because it was a vicious cycle of me worrying about you and you worrying about me worrying about you. it makes me laugh, in a sad sort of way, at how ironic it all is.
more than anything i wish you could hug me. i miss feeling your strength, your warmth, just being near you. the way you smell. i miss how much you freaking made me laugh. god you are funny. and so freaking smart. i always said you and barry are the smartest people i know.
i want you to know how sorry i am. sorry, i don't even know how to say it, but sorry i took your life away. sorry i had you taken off the ventilator. i know you would not have wanted to live like that. you couldn't have been a father to the boys. you couldn't have been a husband. you wouldn't have been james. you weren't james. you were not james after you seized, after your heart stopped, after you were put into a coma. you never came back to me. i am so glad i was able to talk to you before the seizures started. i knew what you wanted, that you wanted the TPA. you were so worried about me worrying about you. but i told you i was fine. that i wasn't scared. and at that point, i wasn't. i am thankful i was able to talk to you when i got to the ER. that you were you. slurring, yes. but you were still you. i thought they would give you the TPA, the effects of the stroke would be reversed and we would go from there. little did i know that's now how it would play out. i think i like being naive more than knowing what is to come. had i known what was to come i don't think i could have handled it.
i want you to know how much i love you. with all my heart. you used to say that to me. 'i love you with all my heart'. all the time. given the fact that your heart was two times bigger than a normal person's, that was saying something. and i can say that with tears in my eyes and a wry smile on my face, i love you with all my heart and always will.
ethan misses you. so much. he's having trouble in school but i have him seeing the school counselor once a week and after thanksgiving we're going to start going to the solace tree. i'll see if that helps him at all. if it does, we'll keep going. if it doesn't, i'll figure something else out. i had to bring him home on thursday because he started crying in school and mrs. dolan couldn't get him to stop. she called me and i went there. i took him home. it was all the talk of thanksgiving, and what the kids were doing with their parents and families that made him so sad. so this thanksgiving will be hard. but we'll get through it. i will do my best to make it as good as i can for the boys.
alexander misses you. he told me today he's so sad you weren't here to see him turn 5. he says you are in his heart and i believe he understands what that means. he is a damn smart little boy. very in tune with emotions and has spot on instincts. alexander gets sad mostly at night. he misses you reading to him, doing the gaite (is that how you spell that?) with lambikins, gallobs, gallbos' mom, and all the other stuffed animals on his bed. i miss hearing the two of you laugh and giggle while i was in E's room cuddling before bed. i have always loved listening to you when you are with the boys. alexander has stopped playing airplanes because there is no one to play it with him anymore. i try, but it's not the same.
i want you to know, that when i was deciding what to do, after talking to dr. chang and dr. katz, and your mom, and your sister, and your brother, and jan....i never for one second, thought about anything but what YOU would want and what would be best for the boys. in my heart, i knew you had already been through too much. now being paralyzed on the left side, never walking again, not being able to receive a new heart because of the stroke.....never being able to be off a ventilator, never waking up....never being who you used to be....it is not what you would have wanted. but my god i am so so so sorry. i miss you and long for you so much. and the boys do too. but you wouldn't have been a father. or a husband. you would have been a body, laying in a hospital, not being able to breathe on your own, eat on your own, do anything on your own. that is a horrible decision and one that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
they told me it was a matter of time. i want you to know that i tried to have any organs that could be donated, donated. but for that to happen, you had to survive another 36 hours and they said we didn't have 36 hours. but i tried. because i know that is what you wanted. it was a horrible thing to have to talk about out in the hall, while you were inside on a bed, receiving air from a machine. but i did it. at least i tried. i knew that it was important to you.
i just want you to know how much i miss you. every single second of every day. i am doing the best i can with the boys. trying to make the right decisions.
sometimes i feel like a ghost of my former self. i feel like the photograph above is appropo. i am trying to figure out what we are going to do. and how we are going to do it. but i feel like i have lost who i am. i'm not even sure what to do, where to go. i just know that i want to make something good come out of all of his sadness.
who is going to explain movies to me now? who is going to help E with his algebra and homework i'm not smart enough to do? yes, it's coming. which grade will it be, that i'm not smart enough to help him complete the homework in? time will tell i guess.
i will miss secretly opening the stockings we exchange before the boys (or anyone else for that matter) get out of bed on christmas morning. i will miss searching high and low for the perfect christmas present for you. i will miss giggling to myself when i find just the right thing to put into your stocking. most of all, i just miss you. so much. i hadn't pictured in my mind, what it would be like after you were gone, i just knew that you couldn't live being hooked up to machines, struggling for air. i do know, and i tell this to the boys often, that if it were at all humanly possible, you would have come back to us. that i know for sure.
i will never ever now why it was you. why a cold virus attacked your heart. why this happend to you. to the boys. i do know i will miss you forever. and i will never let the boys forget about you. you will be a part of their lives forever. you will be forever present even though you are not.
i love you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

today is alexander's birthday.

five years ago today alexander harrison danger reed was born. at 10:11 am, to be exact. i remember that day vividly. and yes, i said danger. dan (friend of ours) has given him the name danger. so now, when you ask alexander what his name is, he always replies, 'alexander harrison DANGER reed'. emphasis on the danger. the kid is funny.
today was a sad day. yet a happy one too. i am having alexander's birthday party on saturday but even so, wanted to make today special (since it is his actual bday). i took the boys to breakfast (before taking E to school). it was alexander's bday wish, to go out for breakfast. so we did. i sang happy birthday to alxander today first thing this morning. he was so cute. he thanked me later in the day for singing to him. i gave him a couple of small gifts this morning. and another small one at lunch. he treasured each one and thanked me for each. he was just happy to be 5. what an amazing thing.
alexander told everyone who would listen to him today that today is his birthday. and that he is five. we talked about james today. i try to talk about him often. i want the boys to know it's okay. i don't want him to be forgotten. ever. i want him to still be a part of our lives, and the only way that can happen is if i talk about him, and/or show the boys photos of him.
the photos above are a year old. they are from thanksgiving last year. we rented a beach house with some friends and had thanksgiving away from both of our families. it was a wonderful four days. and also happens to be the last time james and i went to the beach together. i thought about going back for thanksgiving this year. but just couldn't make myself go. i guess i'm just not ready. i love the beach. i mean love love love the beach. but it fills me with such strong emotion when i am there. because i miss it so much. and now....it would also be because i miss james. and i'm afraid if i go all the emotion i have will overpower me and i won't be able to stop it from coming out. and that might scare the boys. i try to show them my sadness a little bit at a time. i don't think it would be a good thing for them to know...just how empty i feel. how every motion is automatic. there are no feelings behind them. that i just feel empty. it's amazing you can feel that way, yet be filled with love for your kids. it all leaves me a little confused and struggling to figure it all out.
i have given a lot of thought about painting. and art journaling. not so much scrapping...but painting? yes. i hope to paint again. at some point. and to re-open my etsy shop. and to art journal. i want to. again, i just can't make myself do it. i feel like i have nothing to pull from. i just feel too empty. and exhausted. i know that if i am ever going to paint again i am going to have to figure out how to do it with the boys around. there is no 'alone' time. i used to paint when everyone was asleep. now, however, i find myself too exhausted. i am ready for bed long before the boys. i guess if it's important enough to me, i will figure out a way to make it happen. i do want to paint. i NEED to paint. just not badly enough yet i guess. i am hoping one day the urge, well i guess it's need...that the need will wash over me like a wave of passion and i won't be able to stop myself from creating. until that time i will try to get some sleep. if i could find a way to sleep at night it would help. a lot.
so now i am going to go read my second trashy novel. yes. i finished the first. first book i've read in at least two years. since james died i find that reading is a way to think about something else. at least for a while.
i wanted to take a few minutes, to express my love for my amazing little boy. alexander, you really ARE the most amazing little boy. so smart, and handsome, and...i'm proud to say....you are just like daddy. and that makes me happy.
i've also been thinking a lot lately about how lucky i am. to have spent 17 years with the most amazing man.....well...that is amazing stuff. no, he wasn't perfect. WE were not perfect. but we were the real thing. i loved him. i still love him. and he loved me. and now, when making decisions, i find myself asking what james would say. and i always know. he was always the nicer of the two of us. always. lol.... he was like my conscience. and i guess he still is. i will miss this man forever and ever. some days i still can't believe this all even happened. i just want it to so badly be a bad dream. to not be real. but i know it is. and i'm trying to adjust. WE are trying to adjust. just taking it day by day. i am trying to fill the void and be enough for our boys.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the gipsy kings.

i had been meaning to get into james' truck and gather up all his cd's. he had many. he had such an eclictic taste in music. from growly scare the crap out of you stuff to classical to the beastie boys to the gipsy kings. one of his favorites was me first and the gimme gimme's. one time i got into his truck (with the boys) we were going somewhere together and he had a gipsy kings cd playing. i loved it. and from now until the end of time i will think of james every time i hear one of their songs. so today i got james' cd's out of his truck and put my favorite gipsy kings cd into my car and listened to it. i had a busy busy weekend. so busy, in fact, i didn't even have time to really even feel and deal with the many emotions i was experiencing. but today...today when i put the gipsy kings cd into my car when i went to pick E up from school....wow. they all came out. like they are now as i sit here and type. yes, i am listening to the gipsy kings. it's beautiful music. it makes me sad (and happy) and miss james all at the same time. so hard to explain. right now, right this second, i miss james with every fiber of my being.

should my brother read this, i want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you did for us (for james) this weekend. the rock wall looks beautiful. engraving a rock is the perfect touch. thank you for coming. thank you for staying three nights when i know you only planned on staying one. thank you for putting the play structure together. thank you for the advice on the sand. ordering it today was the right thing to do. the boys are both so excited about their new backyard. it is coming together. a bit at a time. but we'll get there. i think james would be happy. especially because it was you that finished the retaining wall. and put the play structure together. that you have been spending time with us. it means more to me than i can ever actually say to your face. because you know....i'm not good at communicating. and that made me chuckle out loud.

this past weekend was pretty amazing. neighbors, family, friends of james, co-workers of james all coming together to complete some of the projects james had started in the backyard but wasn't able to finish. my dad and his wife, their generosity in buying the play structure and all the lumber and other materials needed to frame and complete the huge-ass sand box. i have never seen such a big sandbox in my life and the boys couldn't be happier. and this is what james wanted. and what i want. so thank you to every single person who gave up your day on saturday to spend it in my backyard. it was truly amazing to see people come together like they did. why does it take such a tragic event to make it happen?

i find that when i get overwhelmed it's best to tell myself this: i'm going to do this. i just am. it's been 32 days. and it seems like a lifetime. this new existence is so different from the old (yet still the same just with a great big hole) if that makes any sense. the boys miss james. i miss james. james is glaringly absent. but we are getting through it. we will get through tomorrow. and the next day. and the next.

Monday, November 03, 2008

things i've been thinking about.

i will likely be posting random photos of james that i like. just because i want to.
i am pretty sure at some point my exhausted body will collapse. i hope that happens soon. i want hours and hours of deep oblivious sleep. how i wish that would happen.
i washed my sheets today. what is this of importance, you ask? well, now don't be grossed out, but i hadn't washed my sheets since james died. i didn't want to. our bed still smelled of him. his side of the bed especially. today i layed (?) who knows if that's spelled right and i'm entirely too lazy to go look it up) on his side of the bed and just breathed. weird, i know. and i cried. because i miss him. i miss the way he smells. i miss holding hands with him. just talking to him. my god, how many times a day did we talk? or email each other? or tweet each other on twitter? i miss laying with him, feeling his skin and warmth. and now my life is empty. so i washed my sheets. and it was unbelievably hard. the simple act of washing my sheets was unbelievably hard. because now there will be no more smell of james.
i want to move. i want to make a new life for us. somewhere the boys will be happy. i want to take this terrible tragedy and turn it into something better. i want to figure out what i want to do with my life and how i'm going to do it. the problem with that, however......right now i can't seem to focus. i mean literally. sometimes i just sit here in a confused state unsure of what i need to do and/or should be doing. it takes all my energy just to get through the day (and to help the boys get through their days). so i need to figure out a way to find clarity. so i can decide what i want to do. i've been told not to make any major life changes right now. that may be sound advice. i'm not sure. but i'm thinking. thinking about what i am going to do. what i want to do. and how i'm going to make it happen. big big words for me right now because literally my head hurts from trying to figure out which new insurance plan to take, how to get my will done, the billion phone calls i have to make tomorrow. but i am thinking. and it's a start. the problem with moving, (well, there are many) but the obvious one to me at this second.....i'm not sure i want to leave the house that james and i shared. that we turned into a home for us and the boys. so much to think about.
weird, random thoughts that cross my mind. i am sure i stunned james' mom and sister when i left the hospital after he died. i spent every waking second that i could with him (when i wasn't home checking on the boys) when he was in the hospital. not knowing whether he could feel me hold his hand, or kiss him, or hear my voice, or feel me lay next to him (as close as i could get with all the tubes and everything else). after he died (i layed bent over his chest, holding his hand)....well after he died, while he was dying, i told him how much i loved him. that i would be okay. that the boys would be okay. i couldn't say goodbye. i just told him how much i love him. and then i had to leave. i couldn't look at him like that any more. because that wasn't james. when he died he turned purple, and blue, and that was not james. i turned to mike (friend of ours who was in the room with me) and i told him i had to go. because i needed to be with alexander. and then ethan when he got out of school. yes, E was in school when james died. the boys couldn't see him like that. it would have scared them. so so deeply. and james wouldn't have wanted that. so after james died i went home. left the hospital. got in my car and drove home. leaving james' mom and his sister still in the hospital room. i needed to be with alexander. james died at 11:30am. when it was time to pick ethan up from school i took alexander with me and we went and got E.
when i had alexander in the car with me (while we were waiting for E to come out of his classroom) i began talking to alexander. and he finished my sentence for me. he asked me if daddy died. and i, choking back tears, told him yes. so when E got into the car, i hugged him, and then told him as well. and it was heart-breaking. for them. for me. for us. it really was one of the worst moments in my life. to have to tell my children that their father died. horrifying. absolutely horrifying.
nothing seems to keep my attention these days. movies, television....nothing. but what i've been doing is reading the trashy novel i bought to take with me to thailand. i'm reading lipstick jungle when i go to bed. reading until my eyes literally will not stay open any longer. and then i turn the light off and try to sleep. sometimes for an hour. sometimes two. always waking up i swear to god about 20 times a night. i wake up feeling as exhausted as i did when i went to bed. and for now, reading my book is the only way i can fall asleep at all. so i'm off to read a few more chapters in my trashy novel. which makes me laugh. a trashy novel. hey. it's really not that trashy. but it does, at least, for a few minutes, take my mind somewhere else which is much needed.