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Um, Exuse me… When does this ache stop and where the hell are the milk duds?!

Walmart. 

The place of late night grocery shopping. The place of sweat pants, messy buns, stained shirts and last minute school supply shoppers. At least, last night anyway, that was me. 

It’s also the place I seem to find myself breaking down …. a lot. 

In Walmart. Again. Awesome. 

I forgot to order my daughter’s school supplies from staples at the end of the school year. Something I regret not doing and something I will never forget to do again. 

Though most of her supples had been gathered hectically the week before at Staples, the crowd was insane, and I felt overwhelmed. I left without the Ficsar scissors and the USB saver thingy(I can never remember the names of these things.. Anthony would be laughing right now) to avoid the elbow bumping, cart smashing, and losing of the child in aisles. 

So, there I was, searching for the thingy and the scissors while gathering some lunch snacks in the grocery section. All of a sudden, it’s as though I’ve been plucked from my present and thrown back in time. I’m unsure of what the trigger was; a smell, a sight, Walmart itself  or the first day of school, but I was having a flashback of my sweet husband on one of our evening shopping trips. 

 No specifics really. Just him running up behind me and smacking my behind like he used to. It infuriated me when he pulled stunts like that in public, at home though, I openly loved his playfulness and flirting.  And, maybe secretly, it really didn’t bother me when we were out and about, but I worried others would see it as inappropriate. 

It felt so real. I could see him.  I swear I felt his swift, large hand smack me and I even laughed for a second. When I realized I was standing alone in the aisle I gasped sharply, and then, my stomach turned. What the hell? Why this? Why now?  And then came the tears. 

Awesome.

I need milk duds. NOW. 

I held back the tears as best I could, anxiously running my hand through my already “crazy lady” dishevelled hair. Milk duds. Where are they? I need to calm myself down and I need the milk duds to do this. 

As inconspicuously as I could I wipe the tears from my face, and continue on filling my cart with the last few items on my list. A well meaning Walmart employee caught my eyes and began to approach me. 

I could imagine the conversation ” Excuse me mam, is there something I can help you with” 

Me: nope. 

Employee: Are you sure? 

Me: Unless you can tell me when this ache stops and where the hell the milk duds are, nope. You cannot help me. Unless you can bring back my husband or at least help me with the jobs he took care of like getting the library card every year, then nope. You cannot help me. Unless you have a bag of milk duds and a bottle of Vodka, nope. You cannot help me. I cannot help me right now. 

The conversation never happened because I ran down the aisle before she could approach. 

They’re probably in the bulk section. 

A stood in front of the orange bulk crates staring at the milk duds. They don’t look that good. I slipped my hand in the bucket and quickly threw one in my mouth… and they certainly didn’t taste that good either. Damn it! I took one last plunge into the chocolate macaroon bin, and decided they weren’t really what I wanted either but they would do the trick. 

Pay. Leave. Eat. Cry. 

About 7 minutes later I found myself in my car in the baron Walmart parking lot full on ugly crying filling my face with chocolate macaroons. 

I miss him. Peter, I miss you. She misses you. Our son misses you. 

Sometimes I feel like if I scream his name over and over again, he might just come back. I want to be back in that moment where I felt him, where he was inappropriately flirting with me in public. I want that moment back so I can feel him again. 

But I can’t go back. I can only move forward, and my daughter needs her things for school tomorrow. 

The next day I get up, we get ready for school and life moves forward. 

It’s been a year since my Firsts post. What I’ve realized and am having difficulty accepting is, this was the second  first day of school without him. Our second anniversary, his second birthday… then there will be thirds, and fourths….. they won’t stop because he is always going to be gone. 

Thank you second year of grief. 

Thank you Bipolar Disorder. 

We’ll just have to keep moving on and through. It just kinda sucks. 

He loved milk duds. 





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I Know What Day it Is Tomorrow. I Just Don’t Want It To Get Here. 

I haven’t posted in a while. 

He’s been gone from this world for 15 months, 10 Days, 8 hours…

My goal this summer has been to enjoy the hot sun, gorgeous weather and all the activity that comes with summer. This meant putting a hold on posts, and focusing on the moment and planning for our next adventure. 

We’ve been hiking, swimming, travelling and visiting with friends and family. We’ve plopped ourselves on beaches and experienced the feeling of freedom on a boat. We’ve held baby kangaroos and picked cherries from an orchard. We’ve slept in, stayed up late, played board games, read books and had naps. It’s been a fantastic summer. 

The little one riding the front of the boat; Freedom
 

We’re three months into the second year without Anthony. So much healing has been done, yet so many new wounds have been discovered or have been re-opened. 

I was foolish in thinking the second year would be so much better. I thought somehow magically, after all I’ve read about grief in the first year, that the second year would bring peace, clarity and ongoing joy. 

The grief has only changed.

Nothing is better. I mean, atleast not in the way I thought it would be better. Maybe my expectations were unrealistic  (wouldn’t be a first!) or Maybe I’m just broken. Maybe I was so focused on surviving the first year, the guilt from choosing to live in the second year is weighing me down. Maybe, there really isn’t an answer and I think too much. 

I thought anniversaries would be easier to cope with too. Yet I sit here in my basement praying for time to stop so I won’t have to face tomorrow. 

I know what day it is tomorrow. I just don’t want it to get here. 

Our Wedding Day August 27, 2005

Tomorrow, 12 years ago, we committed to building our lives together. We stood in front of a JP at Gyro Park and read our own vows. My son became our son as he nervously held the rings tied to the little teddy bear that was wrapped tightly in his 7 year old arms. 

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. Tomorrow is gonna suck. The days this week, that paved the way for tomorrow to get here, have left me exhausted, weepy and lonely…. I couldn’t figure out why until last night when I looked at the date. 

I still wake up wishing someone would wake me up from this nightmare. 

I want to go back to the days I’d wake up to the smell of coffee while Norah Jones played from our CD player. His bright green eyes smiling at me while he ran his fingers through my hair. I want to go back and feel the way it felt to look at him and ignorantly know, THIS is the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. I want that ignorance back. 

Instead I get to wake up tomorrow remembering how Bipolar made him delusional, psychotic and unpredictable. I get to remember him leaving me and the kids so he could be homeless instead. I get to wake up remembering that we can’t celebrate our 12 year wedding anniversary because he hung himself in his dad’s barn leaving us to remember that image instead. 

I can’t avoid tomorrow. So I’ll try to make a point of remembering the man I married that day. I will try to celebrate the good years, and the life I did get to share with him … if only temporarily. 

Fathers Day Without Him

Father’s Day 2015. The last Father’s Day my children had with him. 

We spent the morning at home relaxing and enjoying each other sharing our morning coffee and in the afternoon we took our daughter out on her two wheel bike for the first time. Our cat, Cooper, followed us to the park eager to see her try her bike. 

We spent an hour or so watching her and taking turns pushing her while she nervously and cautiously peddled forward. I remember how proud she looked while Anthony pushed the back of her bike. 

She didn’t notice how tired or sore he was. She didn’t see the slight changes in his personality at the time. I was and am thankful  for that. 

It was in June 2015 I began to pick up on the subtleties of his personality changes. His irritability, changing sleeping patterns and exhasperated pain. I didn’t know it yet, but he’d gone off his lithium. Cold turkey. 

Father’s Day that year will always be deeply embedded in my heart. It was one of the last days we spent together as a family happy and enjoying each other. Our daughter loved celebrating him and our son enjoyed the downtime with him. We ordered Chinese food that night and he opened our gifts of appreciation for him; his laugh, love, advice and comfort he brought to our lives. 

Our daughter painted him a picture frame with a photo of her – her hands shaping out a heart. I had struggled picking out an antique carver he had been talking about buying for several weeks from our son and I. When manic he would become almost obsessed with things and this carver was one of them… so was the antique store he  as eventually banned from after the mania took hold. 

At night we cuddled, and embraced each other.  “Happy Father’s Day Peter. I love you”. 

This is the second Father’s Day without him. No morning coffee, or family afternoon strolls, no game night, no gorging on unhealthy food infront of our favourite shows, and no night time cuddles. 

But he’s still a father.  Our children will forever have the better memories of him etched in their hearts of the teachable moments and skills he shared. 

Our son learned carpentery skills from the skateboard ramp Anthony helped him to build, and words of encouragement and love during his own struggles. He will always carry his father’s taste in music and TV, and will remember him helping him to tie his little tie our wedding day. 

Our daughter will fondley remember movie nights cuddled against his chest, and rides on his shoulders in her younger years. She’ll remember his creativeness and laugh.

I’ll cherish the earlier years and the pride he felt with each mildstone each of our children reached. Our daughter’s birth to our son’s school performances playing guitar and singing. 

This year we spent our day at Watertown with family and friends. It definitely helped to take the sting out of the day. We hiked to the waterfalls and ate giant hotdogs for lunch. We spent Father’s Day there when our son was 8 years old. I was excited to share those memories with our daughter while we were there. 

The Lookout on the hike where 10 years earlier Anthony, our son, and I stood on Father’s Day.

We all miss him dearly.

Happy Father’s Day Peter❤️️.

What will happen….

It’s just me now. 

Just me.

What the hell was he thinking when he took his life? 

I’m going to need a moment to get angry. 

What went through his head when he decided to end his time here on earth? No more daddy, no more husband, brother, nephew and son. He just walked off the stage and left all his roles with cliffhangers that would continue to be just that. . . Cliffhangers. No goodbye, no final hugs, no bow to his beloved audience to acknowledge the show was done. No warning.

No apology to his children for walking of stage to soon. He left them with me. Just me. 

What was he thinking? 

Don’t get me wrong.  My support system is big, and strong and wonderful. The family and friends I have in my life are a blessing and have lifted me many times this past year. They are there to help me and our children through this, and they are the reason I have survived this trauma.

But at the end of the day, it’s just me.   Their mom.

The worst part? I am human. I could die. Today. Tomorrow. Three years from now. I am fragile.  

What would happen then? What would happen to the kids? How would they do without me? 

I sit on the couch after school/work someways; after I’ve picked our daughter up at the bus stop, walked home, done dishes( no dish washer in the rental) swept mopped and made dinner, and just watch them. Our daughter sitting at the kitchen table watching utube videos on how to draw before she gets ready for soccer practice and our son standing at the counter listening to the Ricky Gervais show while he gets ready for his evening out with friends. 

Do they know how fragile I am? 

It makes me panick. I used to be afraid of death. So much so I would avoid living. Now, I’m not afraid of death so much as leaving them behind when they are not ready. Or them leaving me. 

It makes my heart hurt and I have difficulty catching my breath. Am I totally fucking them up? Am I enough? Am I doing a good job at this parenting alone? What will happen to them if I’m not? 

I do what I can to take care of myself so I can be there for them. I’m eating healthier(oh how I miss chocolate chips), going to the gym a minimum of four days a week, blogging, and am in counselling. I do not drink alcohol often, and I do not use drugs. I take my anti-anxiety meds every night. 

What will happen if this is not enough? I know I don’t sleep enough and I certainly smoke way too much. I’m cutting back on caffeine to help with the sleep issue. But what if these changes aren’t enough? 

I’m scared. I feel lonely. He left me alone. And I don’t know what is going to happen. 

I have no control over any of the outcomes. I choose my attitude as best I can so the children will learn resilience but is that enough? 

I’m so angry at Bipolar right now. Fuck Bipolar. What will happen to my children if Something were to happen to me? Thanks a lot asshat Bipolar. Thanks for leaving me alone.  

I know I don’t have control over my future. I know all I can do is let go and give it to god. It’s not an easy task, especially after trauma. Especially after your husband dies. By Suicide. 

I once again have to remind myself to breathe and trust no matter what, those two of my babies will be ok. We will be ok. And just keep moving forward through the fear and know that even through our past experience and though We cant predict what will happen tomorrow we will be ok. There is no other option.

The Roller Coaster Ride

Silverwood Theme Park. One of my favourite childhood vacation spots. I was lucky to have parents that would invite my childhood best friend for our US vacations, and camping trips. This vacation was the basis for several books we wrote as children and a new song I won’t put in print(it had to do with bodily functions) to avoid offending anyone(yes, we were both creative, funny and somewhat disgusting children!)  Needless to say, it was a great time and a favourite memory for both myself and my best friend. 

So much so we met there on May long weekend so our own children could experience it. We cheated however; we hotelled and only spent three days, but it was still an exciting and memorable experience for all of us. 

My daughter and I. She looks so much like him in this picture.
 

At the end of the last day my friend, her husband and I decided to take a chance on the adult rides. Opting out of the wooden coasters due to anxiety and a fear of hieghts, I waited with the kids while her and her husband took a turn screaming over curves and swoops.

I chose the corkscrew. It wasn’t as high, was made of sturdier material, and though it went fast, it was over quick too. We sat in our seats, chattering away about life when the safety instructions interrupted and rudely reminded me of what I was about to experience. 

The yellow, dank smelling safety harness clasped tightly over my shoulders.

I looked at my best friend in fear. “I think I made a mistake”. 

The coaster released and turned a corner bringing us to the steep climb before we plummeted down into a sharp turn and quickly headed through two loop de loops that I suddenly realized appeared  much larger and higher from on the ride then on the ground. 


I fought against the first turn. As the cart turned right and started to tip us over, I fought instinctively to stay upright. I grasped unto my my harness so hard I jammed my arm between the cart and the safety structure. My neck muscles hurt from trying to veer left when the ride was clearly going right and I had already screamed every curse word at the top of my lungs (including names of private parts?! I swear I had a mini seizure..) that my throat was burning. I was fighting something that I had no control over. I quickly learned my lesson. 

The second loop was easier; still scary but with less suffering. Yes, partially because of the speed! But also because I leaned it to it. I took a breath, let go and went with the ride. 

It was the first and last adult ride of the day….my neck and arm were wrecked and my bestie – well she hurled. 

The weekend was a much needed escape from our busy scheduled lives. We slept in, stayed up later, and ate yummy, unhealthy carnival food. We connected with our friends and with each other. I can’t say one bad thing about the weekend – Even with the massive bruise on my arm. 

The adrenaline rush lasted into the evening. After dinner, on the ride home though it hit me. It was a great, fantastic and amazing day.. and I wished he was here.  I wanted to talk to him and tell him about how much fun we had. 

He would’ve hated it, he didn’t like the large crowds, heat and rides. But he would’ve loved seeing us smile. 

The familiar sinking feeling in my stomach and chest came on strong. I wrapped my arm around our daughter as she sunk into my side while watching The Lego Movie on our way home. 

The next day our daughter had a similar experience. She talked about the weekend and how awesome it was and a sudden look of sadness washed over her face over breakfast. “I wish he could have been here mom.”

On the 6 hour drive home, I thought a lot about the last year. The waves of grief,  the fighting the pain, the trying to get through each day minute by minute sometimes. In her booksDaring Greatly and the Gifts of Imperfections, Brene Brown talks about leaning into vulnerability; grief to me is perhaps the most vulnerable a person can be. 

And just like the roller coaster ride that is grief and life, it’s easier if you lean into the turns and loop de loops to avoid suffering more. I know, I still have the bruise on my arm to prove it. 

My Promise … One Year Later

A few months after Anthony’s passing, on what would have been our 11 year wedding anniversary, I wrote a post about making him a promise to help him to undue the damage his death by Suicide caused. 

The promise was a tool discussed by Jeffery Jackson in his Survivors of Suicide (SOS) handbook. This book has been a lifeline for me this past year. You may find it beneficial too. SOS can be found here.

I’ve woken up everyday since with intention and mindfulness (most days with tears too) as how I can take small steps towards keeping that promise.

Determining what and how exactly I would do to full fill this promise has been difficult, admittedly. There are days I am so exhausted from grief and managing life that I would sooner crawl into bed and cry and binge watch Netflix.  But the promise is there and it is what carries me forward with his love. 

It’s been a year and two days since he died. May 16, 2017. On D Day, ironically enough, I spent the day curled up in bed, or head hung in a toilet praying the violent flu that had taken over would stop. I’m wondering if it was a blessing in disguise that I slept through 502pm.

That evening, I mustered enough energy to take my daughter and I to a park near our old house. She picked the park as it was one of the last days we spent together as a family. We took her there to teach her to ride her two wheel bike, and our cat, Cooper followed us to mock our efforts I’m sure! 

We climbed the top of the grassy, yellow spotted hill and released balloons with handwritten notes attached to the strings. I watched her eyes chase the balloons and I sighed with both sadness, relief and a sense of accomplishment. 


Another small step towards undoing the damage done. Allowing the children the chance to grieve and experience joy each in their own way, time and with their own creativity. My eldest decided not to come. Instead, he watched episodes of a show they used to watch together and got ready for work. 

We are all grieving differently. We are all surviving. We are all here together. 

This promise has been instrumental in my healing and in forgiving him and myself. There are days however I still get panicked and stuck at the realization I will never see him, hug him, hear him or smell him again. But I remember my promise to him, breathe and take the next step forward. 

There are many things I have yet to do in order to keep my promise; the harder messy stuff will have to wait until I’m stronger. But I have made progress. 

Though small and simple, the ways I’m working towards undoing the damage caused by Bipolar and his death by Suicide also includes this blog, sharing our story, sharing mental health resources, talking about HIM everyday with the kids so we can remember Anthony and not Bipolar. 

I have practiced mindfulness and have recently been working on forgiving myself and him for his death by Suicide. I have been focusing on self care for me and teaching the children about self care as well so we can continue to tell our story and remember the life that was forever ours. 

I hope he would be proud. 
Please remember, if you feel alone, hopeless and helpless it is ok. These are just feelings and you are not alone. If you are thinking of Suicide please ask for help. Reach out. Please. Click Here For international hotlines. 

Mother’s Day Without Him

“I hope you have a happy mothers day. You have been so strong for the kids, and I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate it and am thankful that my children have you as a mother.”

This was one of the last messages he sent me before he took his own life. Eight days later in fact. 

Happy Mother’s Day. 

This Mother’s Day was actually an amazing weekend spent with family and the kids. We played games, had a fun dinner, exchanged gifts, and spent time together.  It was great, and still, there was something missing. 

Actually, the last ten Mother’s Day’s since his mom died something has been missing. Every year I’d ask him what he wanted to do to remember her by. Only once did he request to visit her grave. He said he wanted to celebrate me with the kids and focus on what he did have to celebrate. 

The first suicide attempt I was aware of occurred the day after Mother’s Day.  This time of year was a trigger for him. 

And now, this was the first Mother’s Day without him here. In a few days, it will be the one year anniversary of his death by Suicide. 

Happy Mother’s Day… 

Before bed last night, I scrolled through our texts the last few months of his life. Those texts are one of very few of the things I have left of him, and one of the things I cannot seem to get rid of. I scroll through them on the particularly bad days; I imagine his words are a blanket that I can wrap myself in. They are proof of his previous  existence and the love we still had for each other. 

The message above met my eye. I hid in my room for a brief moment away from the kids, and family who were also getting ready to settle for the evening. The strength he was referring to was my guidance with the children in the chaos caused by Bipolar Disorder. 

What he didn’t know was how weak I felt and what a failure of a mother and wife I believed I was during that time. I was a coward. I couldn’t save the house. I couldn’t stop his psychosis. I couldn’t protect him anymore. 

I was a coward. 

I was scared to let him back in our lives without his being medicated and in regular therapy. I was worried what more the disorder would do to the children. I was scared because after all that happened I loved him anyway. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t stop the illness and our family fell apart. The children were both hurting in very different ways; and there were days I could barely function as a parent. 

The message made me feel ashamed of myself. After all he had been through he still was wishing me a happy Mother’s Day. Me who would only allow him safe visits. Me who put up such boundaries, while he opened himself wide open in ways I couldn’t even imagine. 

I mustered up a thank you, and had our daughter call him later that evening. 

Despite the shame I feel, some how, the message he sent indicated a kind of understanding. I made those decisions with love. For the kids. For myself. For him. As I re-read the message again while gathering myself enough to rejoin the family, I felt a sense of understanding and forgiveness. Whether it was from him, or within myself I don’t know; but I read the message differently than I had in the past. Instead of ringing guilt, it brought comfort and peace. 

I missed him dearly this past Mother’s Day. The kids did too. They missed his helping to plan the day, and making breakfast in bed. I’m thankful my family, including my own mother was there to celebrate and take the sting of the day away but It certainly wasn’t the same without him here; not for me or the children. 

Somewhere deep under the pain and grief, what I can say this Mother’s Day is that I’m forever grateful for that message, and the children we shared together. 

Happy Mother’s Day❤️️