Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days

Now Things Are Humming: #ROW80 R2/#12WeekYear 3 EOW7

Hi there, ROWers and friends!

I hope your last week was lovely. Mine was busy in ways that brought joy, accomplishment, connection, and satisfaction.

And now it’s Sunday, so it’s time for my three wrapup questions:

What did I accomplish last week?

  • Story A Day, every day.
  • Gained momentum in Pixels to Platform.
  • Polished “Storm Glass” and returned to publishers pending professional editing.
  • More decluttering.
  • More voiceover research.
  • More family, dog, and hometending.
  • Learning how to set reasonable goals.
  • Completed plotting contest story, and began drafting.

What’s on deck for this week?

  • Story A Day, every day.
  • Complete contest entry draft, revise, send to crit group.
  • Build momentum in Pixels to Platform, and interact as an Ambassador at least 3 times during the week.
  • Updating blog and Patreon
  • More decluttering.
  • More voiceover research
  • More family, dog, and hometending.

How do these things serve my greater purpose?

  • All accomplishments and on deck items support a sustainable writing career – and/or a sustainable income/family life (all primary objectives in my life).

How would you answer these three questions?

 

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up.
  • Final Review: after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Complete.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: 86:ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

Writing:

I complete one Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction story each day, using the Story A Day prompts.

  • 7/7 for the week.

I brainstorm, do needed worldbuilding and character work, create a rough outline, and write a first draft of my 2,500 word limit short story for the Little Bird Writing Contest, using the prompts.

  • All planning/plotting done, and 724/~2,500 words of rough draft written.

I participate in #thursdaythreads (new goal).

  • I had the prompt, and an idea – but Lise wanted to talk, and that took precedence. #noregrets

Revision:

I complete a final polish of “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” and submit revised version to Exploits in the Adirondacks anthology publisher, pending professional edit.

  • Story revision completed and submitted at last! HUZZAH!!!

I complete spot revisions for each day’s Story A Day fan fiction piece.

  • 7/7 for the week.

Blogging:

I decide on a spring/summer blogging schedule.

  • I made a rough list; simmering in progress.

I post and adhere to this schedule.

I respond to all pending comments.

I revise my About page, based on Pixels to Platform learning.

I add a Welcome page, based on P2P learning.

Social Media

I update my Patreon page, with apologies to my Patron (sorry, Fallon!)

I share my Patreon page on other social media, because no one can be my patron if they don’t even know I want any!

I keep up with #AllStarTrek, ROW80, #accountabilitygirls. P2P Facebook group, and general Twitter, Facebook, and email.

  • Mostly up to date with everything but ROW80, which seems to be falling through the cracks of late.

I post and browse at least once on Instagram and Pinterest, because I miss them.

  • I made it to Pinterest, mostly pinning Instant Pot recipes I’d like to try.

Learning:

I complete Pixels to Platform Module Two.

  • Moving along, but not yet complete.

I watch Module Two Video Two.

  • Done!

I assess Video 2 Play Sheets/devise schedule for completing them.

  • Also finished – need an hour and a half or so, next week.

I doublecheck time for group call; be prepared to participate; submit at least one question.

I watch the DIY-MFA free workshop videos, and participate in the comments.

  • Watched 4/4.

I participate in P2P Q&A Conference Call on Thursday.

  • I forgot to add this, but it’s done!

I finish reading voiceover ebook.

  • Also done…simmering and contemplating next steps.

Family Finances:

I read two financial articles.

  • Done.

I investigate Fiverr.

  • ..scanned for similar gigs to my first idea…nothing found so far!

I post three items to yard sale site.

  • 1/3 posted at last; and have a potential buyer!

I choose three more items to prep for sale.

  • Simmering and considering.

I find titles for Gus and motorcycle.

I handle two administrative tasks.

  • I’ve pulled the materials for these and placed them prominently on my desk, where they will stay till completed; and began the more complex and odious one.

I add regular auto withdrawals to planner.

  • Done.

I check Paypal for other auto payments and list these.

  • Started on this while clearing email during the conference call.

I rough out family budget,

Hometending:

I do 3 hometending cycles in my room.

  • 3/3.

I do one each in garage and porch.

I do 2 each in common rooms bathroom, dining, kitchen, and living room.

  • All but living room finished; 2/2 in progress there.

Yardtending:

I move rest of branches to containment.

  • I moved a few more; about half done.

I move slate to front yard,

I weed/clean flowerbeds.

  • I made a start on weeding 3/4 #babysteps.

I mow/ facilitate mowing of  meadow (I mean, backyard) as possible.

  • Miah and I are tag-teaming this’ it’s about a third done.

Lifetending:

I choose three recipes to make this week.

  • I mulled several.

I make them.

  • 1/3 pesto pasta.

I facilitate Gabrielle’s visit on Monday,

I take Noli to dog park Wednesday and Friday.

  • Both done!

I get Noli’s license.

I take a long walk with Noli each day.

  • Sunday- Saturday; check.

I get at least 4 hours of sleep each night.

  • I was a bit short Sunday, but nearly 8 hours on Monday. Barely squeaked by Tuesday and Wednesday; 7 hours Thursday.

Soultending:

I meditate and journal each morning.

  • Sunday – Saturday, Check.

I read one inspirational article.

I meditate and journal 4 evenings.

  • Journal 4/4: Monday – Thursday; meditate 3/4: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday).

I light a candle and read from Sleep 4 evenings.

  • 4/4; Monday,Wednesday -Friday.

I use a sleep meditation each night.

  • Monday, Tuesday. Friday; 3/7.

ROW80 –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

 

Noli and her friends Wolfie and Daisy enjoying dog park treats.

 

 

 

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Round Two, slices of life, The 12 Week Year, The 12 Week Year 2018, The 12 Week Year Three, Writers' Resources

Now You See Me: #ROW80 Round 2 /#12WeekYear 3 Midweek 6

 

Hi there, ROWers and friends!

 

It’s Wednesday –time to share my Week 6 Action Plan, and I haven’t been here in way too long. I really can’t say why, other than that Life Happened. (Here’s my last update).   

Just a couple things to cover before we get to the check-in:

Recently, I joined Slack with other members of my small accountability group. I’ve been creating daily and weekly checklists there, so, to simplify my updating here, I’m recreating each weekly list as it appeared at the end of the current session.

In my last post, I asked a few questions designed to get to know you better, and promised that I’d share my answers, as well.
So…

  1. What are your favorite books?

  1. Why do you love them?

  • In both cases, these books shifted the way I view life, the universe… and myself. And they keep on doing that – I reread them every few years, and always take away something new from the reading.
  1. What’s the most recent book you read?

Since I’ve been away a while, I’ve just got one two-part question for today:


What’s your least favorite book, and why do you dislike it?

Next Wednesday, I’ll share my answers, and bring you a few more questions.  Until then, please drop your answers into the comments, and I promise I’ll put them to good use. =)

In other news – there’s more black than I’d like on this update  – I’ve been focused on a few specific projects, and on helping Noli adjust to our home and her new life.

What are you adjusting to, in your life, this week?

 

Notes:

  • Wednesday: Weekly Action Plan
  • Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up..
  • Final Review: after Week 12.

Goal Status:

  • Blue with Overstrike: Completed.
  • Green: In Progress.
  • Black: Still Waiting.
  • Black with Overstrike: 86’ed.
  • Red: Goal Change.

 

Writing:

I write one new Story A Day May (ENT fan fiction) each day, and post to fanfiction.net  in their own file.

  • Keeping up with this; getting great feedback on the stories.

I brainstorm ideas; do character work as indicated; and create a rough outline for my entry to the Little Bird Writing Contest ( 2500 word limit).

Revision:

I complete “Storm at Song Glass Cabin” revision and submit revised copy to publishers.

  • 2/5 pages complete; working my way through the tangles.

I completepot-revisions for StaD stories prior to posting.

  • Yes, daily.

Blogging:

I move everything from Squarespace (expiring 5/16).

I decide on a spring/summer blogging schedule.

  • I’m considering a pared-down effort with a shifted focus).

I post in accordance with new schedule.

I answer all back A-Z and all new comments.

  • I got to more; maybe all.

I continue A-Z visits through letter I, using the format I used during April.

Career Building/Learning:

I listen to two past Story A Day podcasts, and all daily prompt videos.

  • I’ve been keeping up with the videos for daily prompts.

I catch up with Pixels to Platform Ambassador duties.

I complete P2P Modules 1 and 2.

I complete two 11:11 flash fiction course sessions.

I read Voice-over book.

  • Currently at 27%.

Family Finances:

I offer first 3 items on yard sale site.

I investigate Fiverr and consider what I have to offer.

  • I’ve taken an early peek, and brainstorming has commenced.

I go through cash receipts and bank statements.

I find five more items to sell.

  • I’ve found 2/5.

I locate titles for motorcycle and Gus (our vintage truck).

I create a rough budget.

I create cold-call pitch for unlabeled hot sauces.

I read one financial/business article.

Yardtending:

I move downed branches and old wood to fire pit.

  • Discussed with Miah; will begin soon.

I move slate to front yard.

I get contact info for refugee family relief; offer outgrown playground toys.

I see if lawn mower is working; mow yard or facilitate kids doing it.

  • Mower is working. After I discovered this, I mowed the broad strokes of the front yard. Also mentioned mowing to both kids, casually.

I clean out/weed flower beds.

  • Began with the most cluttered. #babysteps.

Hometending:

I complete 5 tending rounds in my bedroom.

  • 1/5 complete.

I complete one round each in porch and garage.

  • Garage complete. It’s going to take a LOT of effort to get it the way I want it.- but I’m willing to make that effort!

I complete two rounds each in bathroom, dining room, kitchen, and living room.

I catch up with laundry and dishes, then maintain.

  • Both are closer than last week.

Make rough list of regular hometending tasks and typical frequency.

Lifetending:

I watch Enterprise each day: #itswritingresearch.

  • So far, yes; except for the when the station was out.

I take Noli for a long walk at least once daily.

  • Every day, so far.

I take Noli to the dog park twice weekly.

  • Tuesday, for about 3 hours;1/2.

I get Noli’s license.

I make Instant Pot chicken, bone broth, and chicken soup.

  • Chicken done; separation for bone broth in progress.

I make chicken salad.

  • Done (and being consumed!)

I make Cheddar Bay biscuits, and pasta bakes for each family member (we all have different preferences).

  • Made pasta bakes for the kids, but decided I’d rather have pesto tortellini.

Soultending:

I meditate/journal every morning.

I meditate/journal 3 evenings/week.

  • 1/3; sleep meditation.

I read from Hygge book.

  • Daily, I think.

I read an inspirational article.

I focus on getting at least 4 hours sleep for each 24.

  • Every day this week.

ROW80 –


The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re On Facebook, Too!

LIfe has been just a little crazy since Noli-girl came home – but in such a sweetly goofy way! =D
Posted in #atozchallenge, #atozchalllenge 2017, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, The 12 Week Year Two, Writing Sample

Y is for “You’ll Always Be a Part of Us”: #atozchallenge Day 25

Accept What’s Ahead

Why do some live while others die

Why is that fact so hard to accept

Accept that death is inevitable

Accept that my beloved is no more

More of him is what I want

More time and more love denied

Denied his touch his kiss his embrace

Denied his laughter and his smiles

Smiles that made my heart beat faster

Smiles bestowed with great generosity

Generosity of heart love freely expressed

Generosity of spirit always with a willing hand

Hand holding my hand in sweet intimate caress

Hand him over unwillingly to whatever’s next

Next year and the next and the next lived without him

Next to me still is where I want him yet to be

Be my lover my companion my friend and husband

Be my children’s devoted silly father forever

Forever is a thing that doesn’t exist in the physical plane

Forever alive is a fantasy no one gets to claim

Claim him as my own forever but death took him away

Claim what I can that I was loved long and sweet and well

Well of tears and sorrow born of a love that sustains me

Well past the time of separation on this mortal coil

Coil my heart and soul around all I hold so precious

Coil his love inside me as protection for the future

Future uncertain and gaping wide before me

Future days and years waiting for me to live through

Through the acceptance and the resistance

Through sorrows and joys and laughter and tears

Tears of grief at his life so soon ended

Tears of future joy as my saddened heart recovers

Recovers from this sudden devastating blow

Recovers the beat and pulse of a single life

Life continues on though he is now gone

Life without him, but he’s still here

Here in hearts and souls that love him

Here within his children’s very selves

Selves that would not exist without him

Selves that carry so much of his nature

Nature sees that we have means to continue

Nature ensures something can carry forward

Forward past the length of time he lived

Forward into a future as yet still unknown

Unknown joys and sorrows yet await us

Unknown peace and turbulence ahead

Ahead as behind he’s there in every step

Ahead whether the trail is level or rough

Rough

Step

A few years ago, long before I knew where our story was going it go, I wrote a poem about our love, titled, It Levels Off Up Ahead. The name came from something Jim and I said to each other repeatedly during a rather grueling 3 mile hike to Montana’s Lava Lake.

The thing is – it never did level off then, or, really, since. Even now, as I adjust to the realities of widowhood and raising our children, it hasn’t quite levelled off, because finances will be an issue at least until we know the status of Jim’s life insurance. I know it’s probably fine, as we certainly aren’t trying to defraud anyone, and that the review is simply a formality – but needing those funds makes a huge difference, as there are bills to be paid, two adult-sized and still growing hungry teens to feed, and a house in need of some rather urgent repairs. I haven’t worked outside our home for more than a decade, so that I could be available for homeschooling. Just at the point where I was considering a return to the workforce, Jim launched his business, and my initial small contributions became a full-blown partnership that left me with little time and energy for my writing or looking for another job.

And now, the kids and I need some adjustment time to settle into our new lives. I want to wait until fall, and stay with part-time work, because my ultimate goal is to be able to support our modest lifestyle from home – with writing and writing-related endeavors that make use of my skills and passions.

If the insurance doesn’t happen soon, though, I will have to re-evaluate.

The trail ahead hasn’t leveled off – and yet, I feel strangely secure, even with the concerns I’m dealing with. Why?

Because, in some sense, Jim is still here with me. When he was alive, we were never rich, but we always found a way through the lean times….and more. We managed to find and create joy even in the times when we were struggling to make those frayed and stretched ends meet.

To Jim, now, I say, “You are always a part of us. For the rest of my life, you will be a part of everything I do. Every breath taken by our son and our daughter is, in a way, also your breath. And you love and laughter still sustain me, still provide a delightful anchor through the many, many changes of life after your death. And I will love you always.”

Rejoin us a little later in the day, when we’ll wrap up our #atozchallenge with the Zen of grief.

You don’t want to miss these Y posts!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Z is for The Zen of Grief: #atozchallenge Day 26

 

Being Within Zen

Zen is more than just a word

Zen is a way of life and being

Being a thing of mind and soul

Being a matter of acceptance

Acceptance that what is is

Acceptance without resistance

Resistance wastes energy I need

Resistance intensifies the inner pain

Pain can crush if I fight against it

Pain part of the process of mortality

Mortality brings permanent separation

Mortality is simply a fact of every life

Life and death are the yin and the yang

Life and death are forever intertwined

Intertwined in an endless circling dance

Intertwined and immutably inseparable

Inseparable as our two souls while we lived

Inseparable and each a part of the whole

Whole of the grief I feel at life’s impermanence

Whole of the pain at the loss of my marriage

Marriage of two human souls bound in one love

Marriage of life and death in perfect harmony

Harmony of corporeal reality

Harmony and flow circle and spiral

Spiral through cycles where we live and we die

Spiral of birth and growth and death

Death is the endpoint of each life

Death is the beginning of what’s next

Next breath next heartbeat next meal

Next level of consciousness or energy

Energy that maybe swirls through the air

Energy that might fuel the universe

Universe contains so much life and death

Universe holds more than we can ever know

Know that death is not truly the end of all things

Know that in some way he is still somewhere

Somewhere within this universe we share

Everywhere within the confines of my soul

Soul now bereft of his physical touch

Soul now with my own ever intertwined

Intertwined in life in ways that remain

Intertwined after his death in ways that sustain

Sustain me as I learn to live in new ways

Sustain through grief’s sharp jagged edges

Edges that are less distinct than they seem

Edges that soften when touched with Zen

Zen makes of death not only a sorrow

Zen blends bloom and decay into grief’s garden

Garden

Sorrow

 

I’ve often described myself as religious rather than spiritual. I’m not fond of doctrines or agendas, proscriptions and rituals that others devised, and I’m intended to follow whole, without question.

I need something more than that.

I need something that requires my active participation, my mindfulness, and my awareness that the life I live is more about my own choices than any external divine.

Zen matches my personality, and my approach to life – and death.

I come again to that Welcome to Night Vale quote:

“Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.”

We were all born, and we will all die. Those are immutable facts – the brackets of a lifetime. But that can’t be the whole of the story, because lives are fueled by energy, and lives touch other lives; changing them, creating memories, adding layers and levels to others’ living.

I am not who I would be if I hadn’t known Jim, and loved him.

If I hadn’t loved him, and agreed to make my life with him, our children would not exist, and all that they’ve brought to me life wouldn’t, either.

I would be a different version of me, living a different version of my life.

Life with Jim wasn’t perfect. He and I were imperfect people living imperfect lives, carrying the scars and wounds of a lifetime into our relationship. There were issues that cropped up again and again, and never truly got resolved in his lifetime.

But that’s not to say that it was a bad life – because it wasn’t.

It was very, very good – often magical. Jim and I didn’t come to each other from a place of need. When we met, we’d both independently decided we’d be happy alone rather than settle for someone who didn’t truly suit us. As a result, we complemented one another very well, and lived our lives together with a general state of harmonic teamwork. We were friends who delighted in one another throughout the two decades of our marriage.

So, while I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of heaven, I know that, as long as I live, as long as the children do, as long as there are people in the world whom Jim’s life touched and changed, he’s still here, in a sense. He lives on in the way he’s affected the world, and the energy he gave in his life.

It’s not the same as having him here, but it allows me to find the Zen of acceptance – most of the time – and to accept the lack of acceptance when I just can’t find it.

And, for me, that’s enough.

Which works out well, since this is the final day of the #atozchallenge. Join me again in May for the wrap-up festivities.

Before you head off for your Zzz’s, check out more zesty Z posts.

 

Brancing out in the last months of his life. Jim as Chef Bluebeard, selling his “flavor enhancement sauces” in July 2017.
Posted in #atozchallenge, April CampNaNoWriMo 2018, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

X is for X’ed Out of Our Future: #atozchallenge Day 24

 

Sign X Away

X marks the spot

X the place to sign

Sign we’re losing him

Sign of a changing future

Future a little darker

Future schism approaches

Approaches with the crazed growth

Approaches with multiplying cells

Cells that mark the spots

Cells that create spots

Spots on his pancreas and liver

Spots on the emergency room screen

Screen the predicts the future dimly

Screen that offered fictional hope

Hope that it was only a fatty liver

Hope it was a minor sign of aging

Aging love growing

Aging love deepening

Deepening understanding of who we are

Deepening ability to communicate

Communicate a love that remains

Coommunicate a love that sustains

Sustains us as we face his illness

Sustains us through devastation

Devastation marked out with an X

Devastation growing near and swift

Swift passage of time flies by

Swift moving cancer ravaging

Ravaging his once-strong body

Ravaging this man I love

Love can’t cure him

Love can be an embrace

Embrace while we have the chance

Embrace what is as best we can

Can this strange nightmare be true

Can we still find pockets of joy

Joy marked out in X’s and O’s

Joy an art form in times like this

This is life wrapped in death

This is death still clothed in life

Life twists and weaves

Life lived at two speeds at once

Once we thought life almost a dream

Once we thought we’d grow old together

Together we face this concrete reality

Together until death came and he slipped away

Away from disease and away from great pain

Away from wife and children and life’s promise

Promise

Pain

It all started to change on August 24, 2017 – although we didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time, and, by then, it was already well in progress in its hidden state.

The what was Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had made a leap to Jim’s liver. We’ll never know how long it lurked there, unnoticed – but Jim had been feeling less than great more often for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, before that day.

I remember the date so well because it was the day after our twentieth anniversary. We’d gone out to dinner, just the two of us, and eaten rich foods.

The next evening, he told me, rather casually, that his right side had been bothering him all day, but the pain was intensifying, and now he was worried that it might be appendicitis. The pain didn’t go away, and then he had a spell of vomiting and severe chill, and I all but insisted we were going to the emergency room.

That’s where we first heard about the spot.

It came, couched in comforting language, and after the likely diagnosis of a sludgy gall bladder irritated by the rich anniversary meal…”and we found a small spot on your liver. It’s probably fatty liver disease, but you should have it checked out in the next week or so with your primary care physician, to rule out cancer.”

Yup. It was just that casual, the moment that changed our lives.

Jim didn’t check into it with his doctor. Maybe he was already worried it might be true, and didn’t want confirmation. Maybe he thought that, since he had an answer, and he’d struggled with his weight most of his life, so fatty liver made sense. I can’t say, because, when I mentioned it, he basically dismissed it by saying that he hadn’t talked to her yet, but he would.

So it would be mid-November, almost 3 months later, before he received that terminal diagnosis. Would it have been better to have known sooner, to have been able to trace back all his odd health complaints in the intervening weeks to that one deadly source?

It’s hard to say. He was increasingly plagued by belly pain he thought was maybe an ulcer, or the sludgy gall bladder again. He was constipated more often than not. Occasionally, he vomited, but attributed it to the stomach pain. He never said so to me until after he was diagnosed, but he was increasingly exhausted, and his appetite faded.

Looking backward, it seems obvious, but it wasn’t at the time.

We were growing his hot-sauce business – a dream he’d had since before I met him –  and took our first romantic weekend away, to Acadia National Park, which was a dream from early in our marriage.  In truth, we argued rather a lot, but it seemed to clear air that had long been heavy – one of those places in a marriage where we needed to clean house – and things felt better, after that.

He decided to get to the root of not feeling good. He had a colonoscopy, which, to our relief, was negative. But, at the same time, his right leg was swelling painfully, and, eventually, he went to the emergency room, was admitted with deep vein thrombosis that probably would have killed him in days if left untreated, and then the diagnosis of terminal cancer was made – the culprit of all those random, seemingly minor, concerns.

But it was that first X – the spot on the emergency room ultrasound screen, that ultimately X’ed Jim out of the future we’d hoped to share.

Check out our next post, when I say, “You are always a part of us,” to my late husband.

X marks the spot for more extraordinary X posts.

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Blogfest Entries, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

W is for When It Ends, It Begins Again: #atozchallenge Day 23

Life Begins Anew

When the last breath comes life changes

When it ends that’s where it begins

Begins to dawn on me that it’s all new

Begins with that alien word widow

Widow the label that ends a marriage

Widow for the rest of my life I’ll be

Be the only parent they still have

Be the one who survived when he died

Died with so many good years still ahead

Died so that last line can’t be the truth

Truth maybe for me but not for him

Truth is I’d rather not do this alone

Alone with the years stretched far ahead

Alone but yet not because he’s still here

In the children who share his eyes and smile

Here in my broken heart and in my wounded soul

Soul still trying to grasp what’s been lost

Soul to soul we were for so long not long enough

Enough love to fill my life to overflowing

Enough time to intertwine on so many levels

Levels of grief that shift like ocean waves

Levels of solitude now mine to explore

Explore the empty bed and things now unsaid

Explore the emotions that ebb and flow

Flow as the tears that move like the tides

Flow into a new way of life and living

Living my way into each new day’s dawning

Living and growing even though it seems strange

Strange to make so many decisions without him

Strange not to have him here chatting and laughing

Laughing our way through twenty years and more

Laughing even when life was tragic and shattering

Shattering us as he held our dying newborn

Shattering me as I held him on his deathbed

Deathbed that had been our marriage bed

Deathbed he made with his very own hands

Hands that will never again build or cook

Hands that can no longer hold or caress

Caress me with his love and tenderness

Caress me with his passions in his eyes

Eyes that were windows to all that he was

Eyes I adored and will never see light up again

Again I will sleep this night here without him

Again I smile at the shelter dog in his spot

Spot he doesn’t need she happily fills

Spot where my life has become something new

New bed of my own where our marriage bed was

New life new belongings in a strange new reality

Reality

Was

 

For over twenty years, Jim was my reality. It would be a lie to say that every moment of our marriage was wonderful, or that there weren’t problems from time to time. Some were external and beyond our control – like the death of our secondborn at 12 days old.

Others were internal – arguments we never really settled between us. Maybe we would have, if there had been more time.

Or maybe not.

I’ll never know, now. I can guess, from the ways we’d grown in our marriage, and were still growing. From the business we were building together, and the bonding we were doing while we did that. It was his dream, not mine – and it was a dream that died with him.

Other things have changed, too, since his death. I know it’s inevitable – and yet, there’s a little stab of something like guilt when I take apart the bed we shared, and in which he died, and buy a new one he never shared with me. When I adopt a shelter dog to share that bed, because I wasn’t sleeping very well when I was sleeping alone. When I rearrange the bedroom we shared, but which now is mine alone.

In so many ways, in so many choices from the tiny to the enormous, I’m moving beyond a marriage I valued and was committed to – beyond a man I still love with all of me, and whom I talk to about the changes: “Babe, do you SEE what I’m doing here?! I’m COOKING! For ALL of us! And it TASTES good!” “So, what do you think about this new dog in our bed. I know, I told you I probably wouldn’t get another one after you died, but it’s lonely, and she snores, and she loves to snuggle.” “Hey, did you know that Charlotte Rae, who was Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life, was Sylvia Schnauzer on Car 54? Or that she did stand-up in the 50’s, and was really, really funny?!”

It helps, this bridge of talking to my dead husband while I remake my life and figure things out I never expected to need to before last fall. It’s not exactly what I wanted – but I know beyond doubt that Jim would want me to enjoy my life, not sit around mourning him for the rest of it.

I know that because we talked about it, when he got sick, and long before that, when it was all theoretical, and not anything to do with our real lives….

But now, he doesn’t have a real life anymore, and I do. My goal now? Finish the raising of our children, and make the most of it, as joyfully as I can manage.

Join us again tomorrow, when we explore the way Jim was Xed out of my present.

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Posted in #atozchallenge, Blogfest Entries, Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging from A-Z April 2018, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, My Poetry, Parenting, poetry, slices of life, Writing Sample

Sweetness Softens Bitterness: #SoCS  and #atozchallenge Day 19 (belated)

Death Inside Sweetness

Life is sunlight which causes shadow

Life will always end in death

Death so often takes us unawares but

Death is a lifetime’s natural conclusion

Conclusion of the life of a family of four

Conclusion of that chapter but not the end

End only for the one who has passed on

End brings new beginnings for those who remain

Remain among the living to breath another day

Remain to carry forth the love he spoke and lived

Lived his love with action deed and affection

Lived with a purpose to spread joy and passion

Passion for flavors and for creating delicious dishes

Passion for his wife shown in so much more than kisses

Kisses bestowed generously when our children were small

Kisses shown more widely in the things he did and said

Said Will you marry me and I do and he certainly did

Said I love you often and showed it oftener still

Still hugging the son grown larger than him

Still moments broken by his joyful laughter

Laughter was what first brought us together

Laughter his own particular brand of magic

Magic that made music that lives in my soul

Magic that lingers on and brings sweetness

Sweetness that eases the pain of his loss

Sweetness that softens the bitter truth

Truth that his life is ended forever

Truth that we three must go it alone

Alone but yet not completely bereft

Alone but with a warm spirit within

Within the deepest grief hope exists

Within the coldest sorrow there is a warm glow

Glow of his sweetness and his love freely given

Glow in our lives as we share what he gave

Gave us himself for as long as he was able

Gave us a way to survive this loss with joy

Joy in the years when we were all here together

Joy in finding ways to eat dessert first

First thing our daughter did to remember him

First birthday of his when he wasn’t alive

Alive in a legacy of living life richly

Alive still in the things that matter

Matter to those whose lives his touched

Matter in the way we live life today

Today he is dead but we’re still living

Today a new chance to sprinkle the sweet

Sweet memory to dull the edges of grief

Sweet kindness to soften a hardened world

World

Grief

 

Although I don’t reference it as much now that my kids are teens and prefer much more privacy than they did when they were small, we live a very unconventional life, by modern American standards. We are radical unschoolers – and that fact had proven to be a wonderful asset to us all (including Jim, when he was still alive).

Why?

In part, \homeschooling allowed them a great deal of time with their dad while he was alive, and unschooling meant that both of their parents were aware of what fired the kids’ passions. It’s through their passions that they most readily engage in learning, and through them that they most easily discover other interests, branching outward, and, at the same time, becoming more refined and sophisticated as they grow.

This led to our relating with our kids not primarily through the roles of Mom and Dad, but as people. People older and generally more experienced than them – but not beyond learning from them, or seeing that they, too, are people, and not projects for us to “complete” by the time they reach the age of legal independence.

So, the kids knew Jim well – as a man, not just as their Dad. They knew his history, even the parts he wasn’t so proud of. And he knew them – well enough to bring an eight year old Lise a tool set – in a lavender bag, because she is the kind of girl who likes doing and fixing – and pretty things, too. And it wasn’t a cheap set – she still can use those tools at thirteen.

When I was a teen, I wasn’t at all sure my father loved me. My kids were filled up with Jim’s love, each in a flavor that suited them, and adds sweet memories to the bitterness of going through the rest of their lives without the big laughing man with the even bigger heart whom they called Dad.

Join us again on Monday, when we’ll explore truths….

Stroll over for more sumptuous S posts!

This is also my (belated) entry for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “spoke” – with bonus points for not using it in the first line of the post.

Take a Swim in the SoCS waters!