Jonathon's Closet

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Queen of the Big Time

A few nights ago, I read a book for one of the book clubs I belong to ... the book is titled "Queen of the Big Time".

It's a little sad in a few places, and uplifting in others. It was an easy read and I enjoyed it.

But there was one paragraph near the end of the book that is SO true ... it is SO accurate ... that it etched itself on my brain.

"I miss my husband more as the years go by, not less. It's a secret we widows share. I still pat his side of the bed expecting to find him there, and imagine what his kisses would feel like now. In memory they are so sweet, I can taste them."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

2 views, 1 event

In that moment, I knew that my life had ended. My hands turned to ice and began to tremble as I desperately gasped for air. I could feel the sweat trickle down the back of my neck as my temperature spiked skyward and I could hear the roar of my own pulse pounding like the bass beat of a heavy metal band. Overwhelmed by shock and the odor of antiseptic, I collapsed to the floor in a crumpled heap. And as the world went black around me, silently I prayed for death.

The chaplain moved swiftly down the corridor in determined motion towards the barefoot blonde. As he drew closer, he watched all color drain from the woman’s face and he couldn’t help but think that her obvious pain seemed to mesh perfectly with the cold stark January day. Her knees became unsteady and she fell to the floor like an abandoned rag doll. Having arrived by her side too late to soften her landing, the chaplain knelt and took the only action he knew to take; silently he began to pray for healing.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

the journey

Most days pain ripples like the ebb and flow of the tide. Gentle waves washing ashore in an almost yet not quite predictable pattern. In and out. Back and forth. And time goes on.

Some days, the dark clouds begin to roll in. The waves begin to strengthen and build, the sky becomes dark, and the air becomes heavy and difficult to breathe. And on those days when I am blessed, light finds a tiny crack to squeeze thru and calm is restored.

But every once in a while the world becomes black, the sky sends lightening bolts toward the water, the waves reach a crescendo crashing violently against the sandy beach and the heavens rumble and roar in agony as the torrential downpour drives me to my knees.

Today, I am on my knees.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Story of Thelma & Louise

Many years ago, following the death of our miniature schnauzer Fuzzy, my husband showed up at home with a huge grin – and said “come see what’s in my pocket!”

I was holding a baby, answering the phone, and making dinner – and wasn’t in the mood for a game. My response? “Pervert.”

And then a teeny tiny little black snout appeared from the pocket of his overcoat and I began to smile. A second tiny black snout poked out from the other pocket and Don removed both puppies from his pockets and held one in the palm of each hand. Oh, they were tiny! And cute! And mischievous!

Thelma and Louise were miniature schnauzers too, and sweet as could be! They did everything together – they went for walks together, played in the yard together, cuddled together in one dog bed, rode in Jona’s stroller together – well, with Jona, of course!

And for reasons unknown, Louise became “my” dog and Thelma became “Don’s”. That's not something WE did, that's something THEY did! We were clearly their "people", they were not our pets!

We almost lost Thelma after Don’s death. She refused to eat, refused to play, and was just plain sad. But we nursed her back to health by spoonfeeding her yogurt or rice, rocking her like a baby, and coaxing her to play. And Jona became “her boy”.

Oh, boy did she claim Jona! She would sit next to him, climb onto his lap at every opportunity, sleep curled up at his feet, and position herself in front of him defensively whenever company arrived.

We lost Louise last May. She is buried under the pine trees in the back yard - the same pine trees where she used to lie down and watch me when I was gardening.

We didn't think Thelma would make it without Lou. But we gave her lots of extra love and attention so she wouldn't be too lonely and she carried on like a trooper. Although she still wandered under the pine trees occasionally, searching for her sister.

Thel died tonight. I can hardly believe she's gone. My sadness is great.

And now Jona is the one wandering around looking lost.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Favorite Movie Quote

"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. "

- Movie speech from the American President - President Shepherd's Press Conference on Bob Rumson and the Crime Bill.

About "Widow's Words"

My previous post, Widow's Words, is simply a list of shared thoughts from a widows group that I facilitate, and also from my journal. A total of 6 are mine. If you can identify which 6 are mine, that's pretty impressive. Because honestly, they're all pretty universal feelings for young widows. I'm sure I've felt them all, at one point or another. At the end of each meeting, everyone writes down where they're at at that moment. In some comments, you can clearly see where the discussion fell during that group meeting. In others, it's not quite so obvious. What is obvious is the clear, raw, unadulterated pain.

If you choose to read these comments, read them slowly. Take a moment to really think about each one, what you have just read. If you do this, by the time you are done reading and thinking, you MIGHT have an outsiders understanding of MAYBE 1% of the journey a widow walks each and every day.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In the interest of public education: Widows Words

Every day I sit here and my tears are just falling and I can't seem to stop sobbing. I don’t think I ever will.

I feel like half a person and think I always will.

I too feel like just half a person. In fact, I feel like no person at all sometimes. As if I am lost in space.

I always told him I didn't know what I'd do if he died first. Now I know. I just merely exist as 1/2 a person. I don’t live, I merely exist.

Early on, I often described myself as feeling like I was only half a person However, the further out I get, the less I feel this way, and the more I just feel like a beaten, bruised and scarred whole person.

Me and him against the world and now its just me. One half of a team. The world feels so cold sometimes because you don't have that #1 support there anymore.

He did complete me; make me feel like a whole person.

I'm trying to rebuild my life but right now, there's no future. The future we had is gone.

I just know that my husband helped me become the person I am and I miss him dearly... I feel lost!

The whole world continues on – blissfully unaware that your world has ceased to exist.

The pain in your heart never ends.

My pain is too great to be able to talk to anyone about it, except with other widows, as they truly are the only ones who are able to understand it.

I am so desperately sad. I don't believe anymore that I have the strength or courage to do this.

Inside I am dying.

The loneliness of not having him here with me is so painful, and there is no way to lessen that pain.

The loneliness is starting to eat me alive.

Who am I supposed to watch the fireworks with?

He was always my support system - in all things. He was always there to help or at least pick up everything that slips through the cracks. Now I have to pick it all up myself.

I am so tired of feeling and rebuilding. I can't wait for the day where I can just start living again without having to work at everything – but that day will never come.

I can't say I'm really better - just more numb.

Just please let me get through. I can't take this. I really can't.

I have fallen way back into the dark hole of grief. I am angry, sad, crying more now than ever. I have no energy and I just miss him so much. Will this ever get better for us? I think its getting worse. Every day its getting worse.

On the way home, I just started crying - more than I have in a long time. Tears were streaming down my cheeks the whole ride home. I don't know what triggered it. Do we ever know?

He truly was my other half. We often talked about having been made for each other. He understood me, even my silly jokes. We fit together. We really were an example of when two become one. Now that's gone. I’m incomplete.

With each passing day, I find that the grief is different. The shock has most assuredly worn off, and the waves of pain still keep crashing. They never stop.

I had a dream last night, reliving every moment of the time my husband died. I have this dream every night.

My life actually probably looks good from the outside. It is the inner turmoil that is so much harder than I allow anyone to know.

I now live in a world of hurt, and the pain is so great I don’t know which end is up.

GOD, please tell me what I am doing wrong... I LOVE HIM SO MUCH AND WANT HIM TO COME HOME!!!

I’m supposed to accept the unacceptable; that my love - my everything - is gone forever. And I want to scream when I understand that reality deep down in my gut.

I can't find the energy to put my pain in words.

Somehow we all keep going. No thanks to anyone other than ourselves.

It is not ours, this life I’m living. We will not be in it together, nor will we ever see our dreams come true. It’s the slow losses that are doing me in these days … every day brings with it a new loss.

I thought we were supposed to grow old together.

I woke up this morning with the usual heartache; the knowledge that the house is completely silent sits heavy on my soul.

I need a shoulder to cry on and I want it to be his.

Most days it just hurts to breathe.

People will tell you to move on. To where who in the hell knows??? Just move there. It makes them happy.

I just want my life back.

The pain is unbearable…and unfathomable. And to those who say, “I can’t imagine” – yeah, you’re right – you sure can’t. Now count your blessings.

I feel paralyzed. I can't move, can't work, can't think. I feel completely overwhelmed.

Oh, God this is awful. I NEVER knew what real grief meant until now.

Lots of financial turmoil and awful depression, agitation, restlessness...sleeping in weird short spurts when I’m lucky enough to sleep at all … can’t get up, can't work, can't socialize, can't stop these perpetual crying jags.

I think most of my energy is being poured right now into keeping my family afloat. It’s all mine now. The earning-the-money, the paying-the-bills, the housework, the yard work, the shopping, the repairs, the childcare, the decisions, the responsibility. All of it. It’s all mine.

Nobody seems to understand that this was a blow that shook me to my core, and that I simply can't see the world in the same way any more.

Until someone has lived thru what we have, there is no way on earth they can ever understand.

I am trying so hard to be more understanding of the idiotic things others say, telling myself, 'if they only knew'. Others just cannot understand. They simply can't. But someday they will.

You know that empty feeling, right in the middle of your stomach? Yeah, it really is right in my gut to. It’s such a lost hollow feeling. Nothing fills it. Nothing eases it. Nothing makes it go away.

No one knows unless they have been there just how hard and lonely this road is.

I face each day without him. I raise our children without his support and his strength, I hold down a full-time job, and take care of our home all on my own. I am always tired and worn out. And there is never enough to go around. Not enough money. Not enough of me.

All my time is spent on survival.

Although I had lost several close relatives including a parent, nothing prepared me for the complete devastation that losing my husband would do to my life.

I want a life back and I am so afraid that this is what is left for me; fighting to survive, fighting to maintain sanity, fighting just to see the daylight thru the pain.

Survival is all I can do right now. If it weren’t for my children, I would climb in a hole and never come out.

I want so badly for my life to make sense again. I want to feel like I belong somewhere. Well, somewhere other than this group. But I don’t. Not anymore.

There is a void that follows me everywhere, that has now taken the place of my husband. It is now my constant companion.

I feel lost and lonely with no direction. I FEEL LIKE A STRANGER IN MY OWN LIFE.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Meme That Everyone With Children Should Consider

The Chaos Mommytagged me for a meme.

Most meme's are fun, lighthearted, getting-to-know-you pieces of fluff. However, this meme has a serious tone to it.

Online pornography is so easily accessible by children, that something should be done. PowerBlogger has a great solution to the question of how to keep so many kids away from this really accessible online porn: "Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information."

How can I help? you ask? PowerBlogger simply suggests that we copy and paste the previous statement and post it to all "adult site" webmasters.

We're not asking to get rid of all the porn sites. That would be impossible and since money rules our world, it would just never happen. Too much money in the porn industry. But just make the porn less accessible to children. That shouldn't be too much to ask for.

If you agree with me and Power Blogger, read An Open Letter to Bloggers Around the World: Help Make the Web Safer for Children and consider helping out.

Oh, and I tag Bman and the Tinkto repost this in their own meme.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ugh - insurance! Gives me a headache just thinking about it!

About the time I heard about Bush's new healthcare plan proposal, I developed a headache and a frustration that caused me to ignore this issue completely until today.

In brief, Bush's plan is to offer a tax deduction to defray the cost of buying private health insurance, and to offset the cost of this new tax deduction by introducing a new tax on the most expensive employer-based plans.

First, and most importantly, this proposal reveals a deep misunderstanding about the majority of the uninsured. Or maybe not so much a "misunderstanding," as a willful ignoring of reality. People without health insurance are usually completely stressed out about having no insurance. It's not that they need the government to step in and lure them into covering themselves and their families with tax deductions. Many of the uninsured lack coverage because they simply can't afford it, because of a chronic condition or a long ago tiny black mark on their health history, or sometimes simply just because private insurance is damned expensive.

Offering tax deductions doesn't really solve this problem, since you actually need to make a certain amount of money before deductions really start helping you out at tax time. In fact, those who most need help with insurance coverage are those who make so little money that they're probably paying very little in the way of taxes already. And it's not even the very poor who aren't helped much by this plan. Consider an uninsured family making $50,000 a year, compared to a hypothetical family making $150,000 a year. The family making $50,000 still ends up having to pony up $800 a month to afford the average family plan. The family making $150,000 can actually come out ahead under the Bush plan, assuming everyone's healthy.

I don't want to make it sound like this plan is terrible all the way around. For those who are currently self-employed or otherwise responsible for buying their own insurance, this plan at least offers up some tax benefit similar to what those receiving insurance through their employers already receive. And that's no small matter. But it ignores a particularly large proportion of the uninsured population, and it will without doubt make insurance even more expensive for those who need it most: the sick and the uninsured.

Clearly, this proposal is intended to weaken the employer-based health insurance system. This plan doesn't offer much in the way of affordable alternatives to those who are already outside of the system, and it may well end up screwing many who are currently covered, but wouldn't be able to purchase insurance on the open market.

Even more concerning, and a point not being as widely discussed, is that this plan includes some vague proposal to cut funding which reimburses hospitals providing health care free of charge to the uninsured, in favor of redirecting that money at affordable state-run insurance plans. This in essence could end up taking away the very last safety net we've provided in our healthcare system, if poorly implemented.

The condescending attitude taken by so many when discussions of healthcare arise continually astounds and offends me. The question for many is so far removed from the arena of market forces, or "wants versus needs". It's a discussion that takes place on the razor edge between life and death. Many of us already are deciding between that trip to the doctor when ill vs. heat or housing or groceries. Too many treat the uninsured as if we just haven't "explored all their options", or are blowing our money elsewhere and therefore tax deductions will lure us into rearranging our priorities.

We need a healthcare solution that doesn't fix only a small portion of the problem, while simultaneously making life worse for so many. What will I be looking at when the next election rolls around? You can bet that healthcare will be on my list!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Finding me ... a nightly journey

I can feel it building up … slowly, over many days, it builds to an earth-shaking, ear-splitting creshendo.

There are moments when I feel that the emotions inside of me are boiling and building and growing til they just have to erupt; an expolosion that sends fragments of me flying in every direction.

And I cease to exist, lost in the midst of the splinters of my life.

I can hear the words spinning in my mind, screaming at me to listen. I can feel the pain tearing at my soul, begging for peace. And in my mind, I scream into the darkness.

But here in reality, I hold my tongue. My screams are silent. My pain is hidden. Breathe in. Breathe out. Oh, I hope I can remember to breathe!

Focus. Focus on getting thru one more moment. Focus on taking just one more breath. Focus on finding the calm.

And only when alone, in those quiet times of night, do the tears fall.

As I sit typing, I can feel myself regaining control over my unruly emotions. The pain seems to exit my body thru my fingertips on the keyboard and slowly I find my center again.

My center. Me. There I am.

And I sit back and revel in the fact that I am still here, that my soul has survived.
I am still intact.

Until tomorrow.

Still, I must face tomorrow.

(written in November of 1999, being shared today at the request of my friend Proud, herself a beautiful writer)

Friday, March 02, 2007

My turn to do TWO

Two Names You Go By:
1. Jona
2. Jonathon

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. U of M sweatshirt (GO BLUE!)
2. jeans

Two Things You Want in a Relationship:
1. uh - no

Two of Your Favorite Things to do:
1. reading
2. swimming

Two Things you want at this moment...
1. pizza
2. chips

Two pets you had/have:
1. minature schnauzer named Thelma
2. minature schuauzer named Louise

Two things you did last night:
1. read
2. slept

Two People that live in your house:
1. Me
2. Mom

Two things you ate today:
1. chicken burrito
2. salad

Two people you Last Talked To:
1. Mom
2. Mrs. Cawood

Two Things You're Doing Tomorrow:
1. cleaning my room, I guess
2. reading

Two longest car rides:
1. Kansas City, MO to Port Huron, MI
2. Lansing, MI to Sieverville, TN

Two Favorite Holidays:
1. Christmas
2. Halloween

Two favorite beverages:
1. Sprite
2. Milk

Just for fun: TWO

Two Names You Go By:
1. ok, now roll your eyes and say it with a teen-aged attitude and an eyeroll : MOTHER
2. Sis

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. John's shirt
2. n/a

Two Things You Want in a Relationship: ONLY TWO??????
1. passion
2. commitment

Two of Your Favorite Things to do:
1. being active in the out-of-doors
2. being in his arms

Two Things you want at this moment...
1. to be physically stronger
2. more time spent with the guys I love

Two pets you had/have:
1. minature schnauzer named Thelma
2. minature schuauzer named Louise

Two things you did last night:
1. slept
2. slept more!

Two People that live in your house:
1. Me
2. Jona

Two things you ate today:
1. mac & cheese
2. n/a

Two people you Last Talked To:
1. Jona
2. John

Two Things You're Doing Tomorrow:
1. I have NO idea!
2. ditto!

Two longest car rides:
1. The eight miles to the hospital the morning of my husband's death
2. The same eight miles 4 days later the morning my daughter was born/died.

Two Favorite Holidays:
1. I love ALL holidays
2. And to treat each day as if it's a holiday, as it might be your last.

Two favorite beverages:
1. Water, icy cold
2. Coke