I’ve Found a Piece of Me!

I found a piece of me this weekend!! Actually, I found thousands of pieces of me! Other than a security project and meeting on Saturday, this weekend was all about purging and getting the house ready for the upcoming Memorial pig roast for Tim. And purge I did for almost 15 hours thus far!!! The laundry room is once again a room for doing laundry as opposed to a storage room for any and everything I hadn’t wanted to deal with. The same is true for Tim’s workroom in the basement. If it fit… I threw it in there! But it was time to work through all that “stuff” I had dumped into the basement where I’ve spent very little time since Tim died.

The part of the purging project that took the most amount of time was sorting through the thousands of pieces of LEGO bricks that I own. If you know me well, you know that for the most part, I’ve avoided doing much with my LEGO bricks and classes, because it reminded me so much of the fun times Tim and I had building a variety of LEGO masterpieces.  I instead switched to making LEGO fidget toys for Mom and other dementia patients. I asked myself why I stopped advertising and doing my LEGO and LEGO Serious Play classes. I knew the answer, and it was a guilt thing. Tim died in NY because we went there so I could teach LEGO classes as we tried out our retirement plan of living in our RV and working on the road. I’ve asked myself if I was so fixated on teaching my classes that I missed early signs of Tim’s strokes? The answer is no. I know I did everything I could with and for Tim in the last week of his life. I’ve finally forgiven myself of that guilt, and that allowed me to find a piece of myself this weekend that had been missing. As I sorted through all of the different colors and sizes of LEGO bricks, I felt a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time. And a warmth that felt almost like a hot flash (though I’ve never had one). I decided that “the warmth” was Tim giving me a hug and telling me that it was about time that I got back to one of the passions that makes me tick!

My purging resulted in four huge boxes and bags of trash and two more bags of items for Goodwill. I’m proud! I’m feeling more comfortable in the basement now, where Tim and I spent so much time in our 29 years in this house.  Every LEGO piece is arranged neatly in a bin or container and I know where everything is!! I also turned Tim’s workroom into my LEGO studio, complete with Tim’s favorite bar stool where I can sit as I build my creations in my new special place! I know Tim is smiling!! Gone are the tools Tim used that I’ll give to his friends in the hope that they’ll think of Tim as they use them.  In its place are LEGO masterpieces, including some that Tim put together and a lot of room for me to build new masterpieces and new memories!

LEGO room 3

LEGO room 2

LEGO4

This coming Friday, June 30th, will mark one year that Tim and I headed to Herkimer, New York for what we believed would be a joyous 30 days of fun! It was the last time he would ever leave our home. So early Friday morning, the Adventure Girls will mark June 30th by taking Memory Maker II to a different part of New York for the long holiday weekend. We will hang out for two days in Manhattan seeing all the sights, and spend the rest of the time relaxing and doing all the fun activities the campground has to offer. We can’t wait to make new memories, and we know that Tim will be by our side for each and every special moment!!

Worst Experiment Ever!!

People often tell me how well I’ve done since Tim’s death 11 months ago today. Amazingly well, some would say. I appreciate their support so much because it’s exactly what Tim would want for me. He’d want me to smile, laugh, and continue to seek new adventures as we had done every chance we had!

Most of the 11 months has been a blur…When the shock of the doctor saying “he is not going to wake up” wore off, I put my “big girl panties on” (as Kim always says) and kept moving forward. I cried alone mostly, and pushed myself through some incredible things such as selling and buying cars, trading in one RV for another, handling his estate alone and figuring out all of the errands he used to handle that I now needed to add to my schedule.  I pushed through every single day with strength and courage UNTIL about two weeks ago…then it all seemed to fall apart.

Without a doubt, these past two weeks have been the most difficult by far since Tim passed. I’ve cried a lot every single day. I haven’t been able to focus on one thing for too long, but thankfully I’ve still managed to complete everything I needed to get done at work. I woke up the other morning thinking to myself “living without Tim has been an interesting experiment, and now I just want him to come home”….Of course we know that isn’t possible. I think I termed these months as an “experiment” because as a kid I loved science experiments. You had a hypothesis, and your task was to mix some stuff together, watch what happened and then record the findings. It was exciting to see what would happen and what the findings would be. So let me just say that emotionally, my living without Tim has been the worst damn experiment ever!

Sure I’ve survived and I haven’t burned up the kitchen or blown anything up, and I managed to get out of the house when the storm door handle fell off this past Monday and locked me in my own kitchen. But no matter how I look at all the positives of what I’ve accomplished since his death, my findings suck because all I want is for him to come back. This 11 month experiment confirmed exactly what I feared at the moment of his death – that every single minute from that point on I’d miss his smile, his laugh, his huge hugs, his knowledge of all shortcuts in the DMV so we could get around traffic, his warmth in dealing with all people, his love of food and travel… and most importantly, his love of me. We used to tease Tim all the time about his terribly lame jokes, but we still laughed at them each time he told them. I’d give anything to hear one of those jokes right now.

One of the things that has happened over the last two weeks is that I’m starting to feel really guilty about not recognizing that something seriously was wrong with Tim before he had the first stroke on July 10th. I know in my heart and mind that Tim’s stage four pancreatic cancer would have won even if I had insisted that he go to the doctor. He’d still be gone…I’ve also constantly been replaying the last 48 hours of his life over and over in my head … I can still see and hear the doctors and staff rushing around his room and his bed and I hear myself screaming, crying and encouraging him to hang on! Then all of a sudden a sense of calm came over me, allowing me to accept the inevitable in time to hold his hand, play his favorite Diana Ross songs, and make sure he knew how much I loved him.

Experiments can teach us a lot of lessons, some of which we don’t want to learn. Life at the moment for me seems to be one big experiment. Lots of things are being mixed together and I just await the outcome and decide what I need to do next. Though these upcoming weeks to the one year anniversary of his death will be tough, I know that we will enjoy the awesome pig roast and golf fundraiser we have coming up to honor Tim. My goals for right now are to continue to do and learn more things around the house, just as I learned to fix the door handle this week all by myself using one of my new wrenches, and to go as many places as possible in Memory Maker II (my RV). There are many more experiments in my future. I know I’ll make some mistakes and some of them won’t work out the way I’d like for them to. But I’ll keep doing them because experiments can also lead to amazing and life-changing discoveries. Since I can’t have Tim back, I’ll just pray for that!

This morning I’m off to do a Caregiver Retreat for my friends at Olney Memory Care. When they gave me a choice of dates, I selected this one purposely, so I’d be out of the house caring for others and allowing them to care for me! Love and miss you Tim, I’m dedicating today’s retreat to you!