Two Months

Today marks two months since Terry died. Two months since I have kissed him or held his hand. Two months since everything was so right and my life was so happy and carefree. Two months since my whole world stopped.

They’ve been the most difficult two months that I have ever had to face, but I have faced them. I have gotten out of bed each and every day – sometimes not until dinner, but I have gotten out of bed. Two months of tears – more than I had ever realized that I was capable of producing – but with a variety of shoulders to cry on.

Anniversaries are hard. To make this one more manageable I accepted an invitation to go out for a roast lunch with some good friends. I ordered a drink in Terry’s name and enjoyed a lovely meal and on the two month anniversary of my husband’s death I smiled. Terry always loved my smile, and he did so much to bring it about. I was constantly smiling when we were together; our few short years were the happiest of my life. I hope that I can build a future for myself that involves much more smiling, just like Terry would want.

Be Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving – a day set aside to give thanks in the good ole US of A. For those of us who are grieving, it seems a far stretch; I did not wake up this morning feeling thankful, I woke up missing my husband. I strolled over to Starbucks to get my long awaited pumpkin spice latte – only to find out that they had sold out. Bummer. I went shopping for an hour and couldn’t find a single thing that I wanted. The weather stinks and it gets dark too early, these are all things that I have going against me. I fully expected to spend today sulking, but at the end of it I am thankful. Here’s why:

I miss my husband more than I can possibly say, but I am alive to celebrate Thanksgiving. That is enough for me to be thankful. I no longer take that for granted, nor should you.

I wish I could cook my husband a Thanksgiving feast, but I have friends who kindly offered to cook me Thanksgiving dinner so I didn’t have to celebrate alone. And by celebrate, I mean cry into a bottle of wine.

I didn’t get to buy a pumpkin spice latte, but I have enough disposable income to buy a cup of coffee when I feel like it.

I am celebrating Thanksgiving in a foreign country, but I have enough pumpkin flavoured goodness to get me through the next decade of Thanksgivings in England – thanks, June!

I didn’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family in the states, but I have a happy, healthy family who loves me and technology makes it easy to spend at least part of the day speaking to them and seeing their wonderful faces. Love y’all!

It is really easy for me to feel sorry for myself, but the truth of the matter is that I have so much to be thankful for, even on the worst Thanksgiving of my entire life. Tonight I will go to sleep uncomfortably full, having eaten too much delicious food cooked by good friends, having spent hours talking to my wonderful family and in a warm bed with a roof above my head. Tonight I will go to sleep thankful for what I have, in spite of what I have lost.

I hope y’all are thankful and enjoying this time with your families, wherever they may be.

Highs and Lows

I try to only post on good days and aim to be positive about my new path as a widow as often as possible. I am a firm believer that I am the one who will decide my future, even if the hand that I have been dealt is particularly shitty. I want a happy future, and I know Terry wants me to be happy more than anything. When people ask me how I am I often respond with highs and lows, which is the best response I can think of. I am happy that there are any highs at all this soon in, and I had been having a really positive week before yesterday. Yesterday was a low.

The day started off well, I picked up a package from the post office. Inside of it was this mug, which I adore:

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How is your day gonna be?
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Happy

I made some lovely espresso and drank it out of my new mug and when I got to the bottom I felt optimistic. I painted my nails for the first time since Terry’s death yesterday, a small accomplishment, but I felt really proud of myself afterwards. Then I received a letter from the bank in the mail addressed to Terry and myself. Just seeing his name on the letter felt like being punched in the stomach and took all the wind out of me. I opened it up, my chest feeling tight. Our home insurance payment hadn’t gone through, please call. I called, they had never switched the direct debit to my account, it was scheduled to come out of Terry’s account. I corrected the error, but they refused to take Terry’s name off without having seen the death certificate, which I took to the bank seven weeks ago. I had to open the filing cabinet and pull out my husband’s death certificate, which was painful in and of itself, and walk into town to the bank. I felt physical pain throughout all of this, I clutched my umbrella so hard that my knuckles were white. The bank apologized profusely, it was a relatively smooth transaction, but when I got home I collapsed in a pile of tears. Not the kind of tears I get when I see something on TV that Terry would have enjoyed, but the my husband is dead and is never coming back to comfort me and why am I still having to show his death certificate to prove this to people tears. Painful tears. For the first time in weeks. A book that I received in one of my care packages describes this as a griefburst and I like this as often it all happens so suddenly that it feels like some sort of emotional explosion. I think because I had stopped crying like this on a daily basis, I may have naively thought that the worst was over. Silly me.

I was able to pull myself together and sniffle into a lovely mug of pumpkin spice hot chocolate. I had plans with a friend for coffee – I switched them to drinks. Proper drinks. Then those plans fell through and it was round two. Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. The kind that ends in cat leggings and mascara streaks and red wine and Reese’s Pieces. Anything that I thought might comfort me I grabbed at blindly, trying to make the pain stop.

The good news is that my terrible, horrible, no good very bad day did end. I slept well and woke up this morning feeling ever so slightly better. I walked across town for some Starbucks therapy and it was delicious. Today has started off well, and I remain optimistic. After all, today is a new day, and I do give a damn, and y’all can just call me Scarlett.

Care Package Day

Today I have received not one, but TWO packages making today Care Package Day. Package number one is the first and only thing that I’ve spent the JustGiving money on, so thank you once again to all who donated. I spotted an Etsy shop on Pinterest that engraves notes from loved ones onto bangles. Anyone who has visited our home in past two years has seen this note that Terry wrote me to calm me down when he was away at a race that I then kept by the front door as a reminder to myself. When Terry died, that note became even more cherished and so I sent this in: IMG_1113.JPG And this morning received this in the mail: Terry Bracelet Needless to say, I LOVE this bracelet and could not be happier with how it turned out. It is a reminder of Terry and his love that I can have with me all the time. Cannot recommend this artist highly enough. That made today awesome already, so I was surprised at a knock on the door that brought me ANOTHER package. This one was from a dear friend from high school who sent me this awesomeness:

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So much American goodness!
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Ninja says thank you for the box!!

I have American cookies to eat, trashy TV to watch and THREE new books to read. Combined with pumpkin spice hot chocolate and pumpkin spice tea, I am feeling on top of the world. More than that, I feel super loved today. It’s like I received two giant hugs from the universe at the perfect time. Today I am thankful.

TV Free Day

I feel like all I do these days is watch TV when I’m on my own, so today I decided to make it a TV Free day. I had a lie in, then cleaned my house and prepared lunch while listening to music rather than Judge Judy. At lunch I discovered a small flaw in my brilliant plan in that music stirs up a lot of emotions and memories, leading to a good cry along to a few of the songs on my playlist. Not a breakdown, just a good cry. I’ve yet to be moved to tears by Catfish the TV Show, but things could always get worse.

In the afternoon I went for a walk in town, had a good chat with my sister and then curled up with Gone Girl and a mug of hot chocolate rather than slumping down in front of My Cat From Hell. I cooked dinner to music and cleaned up to some more, I even found myself dancing along to Mumford & Sons before I caught myself and thought – I really shouldn’t be dancing, Terry’s only been dead for 7 weeks! Then Terry’s voice popped into my head and said that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Dance, woman! And so I danced some more.

There are a million things that I miss about Terry, possibly more, but as the weeks go on I find that what I miss most is simply the comfort of his presence. The worst part of all of this at the moment is the loneliness. Turning off the TV today was difficult, because it forced me to focus on spending time with myself, something that is really sad for me, but I was able to enjoy some alone time today, which feels like a huge step forward. Don’t think that I smiled and laughed all day long, I didn’t, but the mere fact that I smiled and laughed at all is monumental.

It’s early still, but instead of staying on the couch, I am headed up to bed with another mug of hot chocolate, which is really just an excuse for me to eat these yummy pumpkin spice flavored marshmallows without being judged, and to get lost in a good book.

In my former life, I would have sat in bed reading while Terry caught up on NCIS downstairs and I would have had to beg him to turn it down. It’s funny how you miss things that you didn’t even like to begin with.

Alone Again

This morning, with a heavy heart, I drove my friend to London Heathrow to fly home, leaving me alone again. It was a sad goodbye, but I look forward to seeing her again the next time I fly home to visit my family – whenever that may be. I was quite proud of how well I held up watching her leave, but was feeling very sad on the drive home. Occupied by my own thoughts, I didn’t notice that I turned the wrong way off the motorway, and had to find somewhere to turn around. I was frustrated, but when I then turned back onto the motorway going in the wrong direction I started crying. Driving people to the airport, driving in general in England, was Terry’s job and it’s one of many things that I have to step up and do in his absence. Today I did an awful job of it and was so frustrated with myself, and a little bit at him for not being here to help, that I just burst into tears.

It wasn’t a great morning. I came home to an empty house but was pleased to find this awaiting me on my doorstep:

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The girls in my form, called 8AKY, had all written me notes and they put them into this gorgeous book. Terry and I didn’t have any children, something that I find particularly hard to deal with at the moment. While I may not have any babies to my name, I do have 27 wonderful, wacky 12 year olds that I can call my own and who have lifted my very heavy heart today. Sure they misspelled my name, and one actually managed to misspell her own name, but I loved reading all of the notes, written in the colourful way that only a 12 year old girl can, looking at all of the pictures, and feeling of the love packed in between the colourful pages. Here are a few of my favourite bits, so you can see how amazing my girls are:

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Thank you Harriet for reminding me that even at the age of 12 you are taller than me
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Interesting spelling of Ninja’s name here

And so, even on horrible days, something perfectly lovely can come along and remind me that I have a reason to smile and to carry on. Tonight my glass of hot chocolate is most definitely half full.

A Good Day

Today was a good day. I’m tempted to add as far as days without Terry gobut it would have been a good day even if Terry was still with me, so I won’t. Today a friend from Nashville and I went down to London to see the poppies that are currently on display at the Tower of London for Remembrance Day. Terry and I had talked about going but hadn’t managed to make it happen before he died. When asked if there was anything I wanted to do, this visit came to mind. Terry and I might not have been able to go, but I could still go – and go I did!

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We spent the morning at the Tower of London and were blessed to be there at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 100 years after the start of WW1. We stared into a see of poppies, one for each of the 888,246 British deaths in the war. I saw a see of red, chosen to represent the blood that was shed on Flanders field, where Terry and I dreamt of going and at the Somme, where Terry and I paid our respects to the fallen in July. I saw the flowers representing those that were lost, but I am so aware of those that survived now that I, too, survive the one I love. I saw widows and parents who lost their children standing there in the moat and I wept for them. I wept for all of the lives that were lost, the many more that were forever altered, and I wept because Terry would have loved to have stood there and honoured the dead with me. I wept because I know that as he stood and stared at those poppies he would have been moved to tears. He was never afraid to shed tears. When the crowd observed two minutes of silence, I told Terry how I wished I had been able to share this moment with him and I felt his happiness that I was able to see it at all.

After an emotional start to the day, we went and saw the Crown Jewels, another thing that I have always wanted to do that I took the opportunity to do now as I’m unsure how many somedays I have left to see them. We had a delicious lunch nearby and then went and admired Big Ben and Buckingham Palace as I couldn’t send her back to the US without having seen them. I attempted to take selfies, but am rubbish at it, as you can see:

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Why is Big Ben coming out of her head?
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Not a lot of palace in this shot
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Well, at least I got most of the palace…
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London Bridge
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There’s not actually a monument in this one at all

One thing that should be noted is that I am smiling in these pictures. Not a fake smile, but a genuine one, which takes me back to the title of this post – today was a good day. I introduced a good friend to London, we explored together and had a good time. And I smiled. This is huge and it gives me hope that I can find more reasons to smile in the future.

MURRICA

My friend June flew in this morning to spend a week with me. I have been really excited about her trip, which is a huge step in and of itself as I honestly can’t think of anything else since Terry’s death that I’ve been genuinely excited about.

June had asked If I wanted anything from America and I asked her for anything pumpkin flavored. I would have been ten times more excited about her visit if I could have pictured that she would bring me this!

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If you need me for the next month I’ll be holed up in my house eating my feelings.

Ninja Update

A lot of you have asked about Ninja and his ongoing struggles with medication, so I thought I’d post a quick update:

I have not even attempted to give him anymore liquid medication and the vet finally called me back yesterday and has prescribed him some strong probiotics that can be sprinkled onto his food combined with a temporary diet of nothing but bland foods such as fish and/or chicken. Ninja is understandably devastated that instead of dry food he can only eat canned tuna. I started him on tuna two days ago and he has never begged for food more. I was a little worried that I was underfeeding him, but he appears to be healthy enough. I picked up the probiotic pills today and was surprised to find that there were 50 of them – which will take him into 2015! – but hopefully this helps heal his poor tummy.

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Ninja’s face when he hears the can opener

On a positive note, Ninja medication-gate was the last  major breakdown that I have had. There have been good moments since and bad, but I am continuing to take each day as it comes and on good days I am cautiously optimistic that I just might survive this after all. WAY (Widowed and Young), a non-profit for people widowed under the age of 50 in the UK, has played a huge part in this by connecting me with others who have survived what I am going through and serve as role models. I am not foolish enough to think that the worst is over, I have no way of knowing if that’s true, but having survived the last breakdown, I feel better prepared for the next. So far my survival rate is one hundred percent and I know that Terry is so proud of me.