Today is the four month sadiversary of my Terry’s death. I hate the 30th day of each month as it marks another month without him. I no longer keep track of each day that has passed since his death as I did in the early days, but as the end of the month approaches I know that another month’s sadiversary is approaching. On the 28th of each month I find myself thinking that X months ago Terry and I made breakfast and had a lovely Sunday, on the 29th I think that I kissed my sick husband goodbye in the morning, came home early from work and found him unconscious, followed by the 999 call, the ambulance and the ICU and then the 30th marks another month since the doctor gathered us all into a small room and explained how Terry’s brain has swollen as a result of the bacterial meningitis and had crushed his brainstem and killed him, leaving me widowed.

Last month’s sadiversary was wrapped up in the holiday season and it didn’t carry so much weight as I struggled to pack up for the move and survive the holidays. This month sees me settled into my new home and again reflecting on the worst days of my life.

Expecting today to be difficult, I decided to be proactive. I booked a manicure that my roommate got me as a gift to give myself something to look forward to. As y’all know, manicures got cut out last March when we decided to stop spending any money so that we could pay off our debts as quickly as possible – so this was a real treat. I had to drive back to Bicester to drop off the keys to our old house which I had kept to check the post. I walked inside one last time and thanked the house for so many happy memories and I wished that the new tenants could be as happy there as we were – if such a thing were possible. Tears welled up, but they did not fall. I then walked through town to return the keys to the estate agents.

When that was done, I decided that a nice cup of coffee would do me good and so I walked to Bicester Village for a peppermint mocha. While there, I decided that I was actually doing really well for 4 months and decided to buy myself a gift from Terry for being so brave. I walked into Swarovski and found the most beautiful necklace that I bought for myself as a Valentine’s day present from Terry – because we all know that day is going to suck – and found a beautiful purse in Michael Kors that I treated myself to as well. I haven’t really spent much money these past 11 months and these were two big treats and I could not be more pleased with myself for finding them and buying them.

I found that having something to look forward today made it less horrible than it needed to be – although secretly I’m grateful that February will spare me a 30th day to survive – and I shall try to give myself something to look forward to on future sadiversaries. It can’t always be as luxe as today’s goodies, but I know that my frugal self will whip up some treats to help smooth over the bad days until a good one comes along.

On the drive home I found myself singing along with Taylor Swift – as professional adult women do – and the lyrics It’s like I got this music in my mind saying it’s gonna be all right really resonated with me today. Four months after the worst thing that ever happened to me, I find myself hoping that everything is going to be all right and that good things may come. I am fearful that they won’t, but I am hopeful. Sadiversaries happen and they evoke a lot of painful memories, but I keep cruising, can’t stop won’t stop moving. Who knew Taylor Swift and I have so much in common?

T Swift
Another sadiversary is over!!!! photo credit: mariana_pereira via photopin cc

A Good Day for a Good Cause

Yesterday was a bad day. In fact, it’s been a pretty rubbish month and so I woke up this morning expecting another in a string of bad days.

I drove myself to Starbucks for a latte before school because I’m credit card debt free and I haven’t actually begun budgeting for 2015 yet. The latte was delicious and I arrived at school just in time to catch up with some teaching friends during break before my lesson. I led a Year 8 French listening assessment, which was relatively uneventful, and then during PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) we talked about the charity week that my Year 8 form will be hosting later this year. At the school that I work at each form throws a charity week in their classroom to raise money for the charity of their choice. The girls get really involved and excited and they do actually raise a considerable amount through their efforts. Through discussion (read: facilitated chaos) we chose the first week in May for our charity week and were discussing which charity to raise money for this year. As the RSPCA had recently sent us a thank you letter for the £137 we raised last year addressed to Ms Kimberly care of a school for girls beginning with Dear Sirs, the girls decided that they wanted their money to go elsewhere this year. Teenage Cancer Trust was nominated along with several other national charities. One girl raised her hand and said that loads of people raised money for big national charities and that it might be nice to raise money for a smaller charity that didn’t receive as many donations. The girls really liked the idea, but couldn’t think of any smaller charities to nominate Do you know any, miss? they asked.

I told them about a charity called Widowed and Young that had been really helpful to me since Terry died. It was the first time that I had said his name since I began teaching my form last year as I have always guarded my personal details closely at school. I said that it was for people who had been widowed under the age of 50, like I had. I told them that I had never heard of a 29 year old widow until I became one and when it happened to me I felt like the only person in the whole wide world who was capable of hurting in the way that I hurt. Then I found WAY and it put me in touch with others who could understand my pain and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone; I still felt sad but not so very, very alone like I did in the early days. The tears found their way down my cheeks as I explained what it was like to meet other people who knew the same kind of sadness that you did and how helpful it was to have those relationships. I mentioned that I had attended several events hosted by WAY in the previous few months and looked forward to attending more in the future because no one else I knew could understand my situation like fellow WAYers could. I mentioned local hospices and how many people who go into those hospices leave behind young widows just like me. Raising money for WAY could help them to provide support to others who lost their husbands or wives young.

Widowed and Young unanimously won my form’s vote for the charity that we will be raising money for this year, which made my heart burst with pride. When they found out that the logo was a swan, one of the girls announced that she’d been bitten by a swan last year, so it was probably meant to be. And so, having decided when to have our charity week and who the money would go to, we were then free to discuss the important details like what types of cupcakes we would need to bake to raise as much money as possible for young widowed teachers just like Ms Kimberly.

Today has been better than yesterday and I am grateful to finally have a good day in 2015. With such an amazing charity week planned in May – and a fair few WAY events to attend – I am hopeful that this will be the first of many.

I’m Officially Credit Card Debt Free

January has been a difficult month so far, not the fresh start to a new year that I had hoped for. In the comfort of our old home a new house in a new city sounded exciting, but the reality of packing up everything that Terry and I had ever shared, unpacking it and moving into a home that Terry will never share with me combined with the regular stress that moving creates has been overwhelming. Every day of 2015 has been really difficult, I’m afraid. Every item that I packed and unpacked brought back such wonderful, happy memories and I found myself crying into boxes of happy memories and wishing so badly that Terry could come with me to make new ones. Those memories are all I have left of our happy life together and they are just not enough for me right now. In my old life, I would wind myself up and Terry would talk me down, reminding me that everything would be fine so long as we had each other. But now that I don’t have him changes don’t seem exciting. Nothing is exciting anymore and everything is sad. No matter how many highs I have in a day there are such terrible, terrible lows.

Although it has been difficult I have successfully moved into a new house close to school. My housemates are lovely and the two bunnies that I was so scared that Ninja would eat scare the living daylights out of him. Yes, my cat runs from fluffy bunnies in terror. In spite of this, Ninja has settled in well and enjoyed his first foray into the outside world in our new home today. I have unpacked most all of my belongings, changed the address on and received my new drivers license and changed all of my accounts to the new house. Every change that I make feels like one step farther away from Terry and our life together and each and every change breaks my already shattered heart.

While moving some of Terry’s things into the closet I found our Debt-O-Meter and I was reminded to call the one remaining unpaid credit card to discuss the remaining balance of £4991. They were lovely on the phone and have decided not to pursue the balance of the account due to the lack of estate  which means that I am officially credit card debt free. Terry and I had hoped to be credit card debt free by April of this year and yet it’s only January and all of the credit card debt that we had gotten ourselves into is gone. It has taken us only 8 months to pay off nearly £10,000 in credit card debt. I struggle to put into words how devastating it is to reach our much sought after goal on my own only as a result of Terry’s death. When I got off of the phone I couldn’t stop crying and I think it’s relief that the debt has been written off, but more than that it’s bitter disappointment that this goal that Terry and I spent hours dreaming of is here and that Terry is not here to share it with. To celebrate being credit card debt free, Terry and I had planned a weekend at The Old Parsonage hotel in Oxford complete with a dinner out at his favourite restaurant, Browns, and champagne, paying cash for the whole weekend. We used to spend so much time dreaming of that weekend and how it would feel to have worked so hard for and achieved our dream. We would have a weekend celebration of this smaller debt free milestone before being completely debt free in March 2017 – and we had big plans to celebrate that milestone as well. We always smiled when we talked about that weekend and were so excited as we paid off our debts month by month.

Terry and I dreamt that being debt free would feel liberating, that we could finally do what we wanted with our money without owing any of it to anyone. We dreamt that being debt free would enable our dreams of saving up for a house and being able to provide a good foundation for the family that we wanted to have together. As I sit here alone in my house, being credit card debt free feels very sad. I am so bitterly disappointed. I am disappointed that I don’t feel like celebrating and that the one person I want to celebrate with is gone. I am disappointed that we will never have our debt free weekend in Oxford and that instead this weekend will be spent finishing settling in to my new house.

I still dream of being debt free one day and perhaps as I build a new life for myself I can make a new plan for celebrating being debt free. Perhaps in the years that it will take me to pay off my debts I will find happiness once again and I will be able to celebrate that milestone for the accomplishment that it is. That is what I hope, but deep down I know that I will always wish that I was celebrating with Terry.