Endings and Beginnings: An Update

Life has been extremely busy lately. Good busy, but busy nonetheless. So quick updates:

  • It’s the end of my semester, and I can’t believe how quickly time flew by. In the last week, I had a standing ovation from one class and incredible notes of thanks from several other students. This teaching thing, yeah I like it. Now the time-consuming part – I’ll be spending the next few weeks grading papers… (But I’m on the fall and spring schedules for next school year, which is awesome!)
  • B and I continue to talk daily. We closed the restaurant (again) on our last date, spending more than six hours talking and laughing and smiling without any concept of what time it was. (“Why does time seem to stop when I’m with you?” he asked when we realized it was 2 a.m. and the restaurant was closing.) At least one friend has asked if B and I have kissed. No, we haven’t. He continues to be a gentleman, walking me to my car, giving me a hug, kissing my cheek at the end of the evening (or early morning, in this case). I don’t know where this will lead, and while I look forward to finding out, I’m really realistic about it and taking things very slowly and cautiously.
  • Relatedly, a former coworker messaged me this week with a *demand* to get to know one of her friends who’s moving to town in a month or so. From her message: “I am going to introduce you to a friend of mine who is moving to (CITY). Not a “fix up” unless you just happen to hit it off that way but a great single dad who is extremely bright and funny and sarcastic and I think you would be friends. Oh, and just BTW, he’s exceedingly handsome and has an adorable young son. He’s an uber liberal feminist. I would consider running away with him if invited. Just a heads up. I am not giving either of you a choice in the matter.” I took a chance and messaged him yesterday. (Thank goodness I’ve had some recent practice being witty via emails…) Also, friend was right: he is ridiculously attractive.
  • The condo fell through. Someone offered full-price, all-cash, not-contingent-on-an-inspection offer, and the bank took it. It was a huge blow to my mom, and I think she’s reluctant to look anymore. I’ve shown her a few listings that are comparable, but she hasn’t taken any steps to move on anything. I think she’ll be around for a while.
  • Ethan had first communion last weekend. It’s a big deal for a second grade Catholic schoolboy. As Ethan was getting ready in my room on Saturday afternoon, I was struck with a feeling of sadness: Mike should have been there. Mike should have been helping him get ready, put on his first suit, tie his tie, comb his hair. Mike should have been sitting with E and I during mass. Mike should have seen his son reach across the aisle to hold the hand of one of his favorite (girl!) classmates during the “Our Father.” But he wasn’t there. Instead, I brought a photo of Mike to set on the empty chair, for Ethan to hold during the service. It made Ethan happy to have the image of his dad, but it was sad to watch as he held the photo close at key parts of mass. I was taken back at how empty and sad this otherwise happy occasion made me. I was glad when it was over and we could leave. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough – to get away from the happy families celebrating together: moms and dads and the first communicant and the extended families. (But it was super nice that E’s Big Brother came to mass.)

I’m looking forward to wrapping up this school year and then having the summer “free.” I’ve worked every summer and school break since I was 15 years old, so to have three months without obligations will be completely new to me. Also completely new to me: spending all day/night, every day/night with my kids – other than maternity leaves and occasional vacation days, I’ve worked since they were born. Actually, I worked through my maternity leaves and vacation days, so this will all be REALLY NEW to me.

Once I’ve submitted the final grades for the semester, I’ll be planning daily activities with the kids, a family road trip to the Gulf Coast, and visits with friends near and far. In my mind, I have lofty expectations for the summer – I hope reality lives up to it.


I knew that Mike’s friends started a memorial scholarship at his former high school in his name. The $500/year scholarship will be awarded each year to a student interested in the theatre. (Mike was in several plays in high school, and continued acting in college on scholarship.)

A year ago, one of Mike’s friends called me to get my reaction to establishing the scholarship as part of the 20th class reunion. “Sounds fine,” I said. Since then, another friend sent me an announcement of the scholarship from the high school newsletter. I put the announcement away with other memorabilia from Mike’s life for Ethan and Lauren.

But today on Facebook, several of Mike’s friends from high school have posted/reposted a note about the scholarship and how it was established in his name by the school – and his parents – with a solicitation for donations to the fund.


I’ve mentioned before that my kids aren’t in need of anything. I’m very fortunate that Mike and I had the foresight to have ample assets for the kids. But, come on… his parents haven’t contacted the kids in any meaningful way in more than a year.

I’m pissed that they’re going to give money, attention, and who knows what else, to a scholarship to strangers instead of thinking about their grandkids. Their ONLY grandkids.

(Again, my kids don’t NEED anything, but to get a random package from Grandma and Grandpa with some baseball cards or a princess book – or to know that there were contributions to a college fund for them – would go a LONG way to making my kids feel loved by those assholes.)


It comes when you least expect it. You thought you were doing fine, maybe even doing well. But then, this darkness – a black hole – appears out of nowhere, right in the middle of your path. You’re drawn to it. It just seems so…right. Peaceful even. Calm maybe. It draws you closer and closer and closer. You want to go there, but at the same time…

You’ve been there before, in its depths. You know what’s in that darkness. It’s misleading – there’s no peace or calm. There’s just… nothingness. When you’re in the darkness, you don’t even want to move. Lifting an arm or leg is almost impossible, no matter how hard you will your limb to JUST MOVE, DAMMIT! You’re eyelids are heavy. Your ass feels weighted to the seat – you don’t want to get up for anyone or anything. You hear the voices of your loved ones, but you just don’t care. You hate being in the dark. You hate what the darkness does to you.

I know there’s complete nothingness in the darkness. I know going there will not be pleasant, and I’ll hate every second of being in its grasp. I’m trying to stay out. I’m trying to ignore it. I’m trying to stay in the light.

Light at the end of the funk

I’ve spent the last month or so in a sort of funk. Not really full-fledged depressed (I don’t think). Not really sad. Just sort of…detached. The semester has been eh (even though I had a great first semester evaluation). Family life has been eh (even though we’re turning corners on both Ethan and Lauren’s needs). Friends have been ignored. (Friends, I am so sorry for ignoring emails, FB messages, phone calls, etc. I love you all and appreciate you, really I do!) Anything extra in life has been nonexistent. And I’m kind of over feeling this way…starting now.

So, a few updates to hopefully kick-start me into more regular posts again. (Goodness, I feel so much better venting here, just getting stuff OUT, but I haven’t even felt like doing that lately.)

Ethan: new therapist is great. She’s actually asking about Mike and how E feels about his dad’s death and alcoholism. We’re kind of in a “things are going to get worse before they get better” kind of pattern, but improvements are starting to come. We’ve started a new discipline system at school, which has made a huge impact. In fact, several teachers stopped me on Friday while I was volunteering to tell me how well he’s doing since the new system has been in place.

Lauren: she’s being evaluated for the next phase of her speech therapy, and words and phrases are coming along more clearly every day. But, hot diggity, she’s hit the terrible twos in a BIG way. She’s also incredibly independent, to the point where it’s easy to forget she’s only two. She’s completely potty trained, picks out her own clothes and gets dressed on her own, puts herself down for bedtime (and she’ll go up to her room willingly for nap time, but actually sleeping during the afternoon is iffy), gets her own snacks.

Marathon: yeah, not happening. Combination of weather (wow, it snows here!) and my blah feelings, I just haven’t been training in any way, shape or form.

Loose ends with old job: Negotiated the amount owed to erase the relocation debt. It was still a HUGE amount, more than I’ve ever written a check for, but it’s done. Free-and-clear from old job.

I know from the online widow forums that setbacks like what I’ve been going through are common. I just need to force myself out of it. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. I went out with friends last weekend (and had a great time) and I have plans next weekend (OMG do I have plans! LOL! More to come on that…) I’ve emailed a few friends from old job about getting together for dinner. I just need to get out, focus on LIFE, and recharge so I can be a mom. Ethan and Lauren deserve that.

Mom knows best

After last night’s session with Ethan’s new therapist (D), I feel even more sure that Ethan’s problems in school are very heavily grief-based.

She started by asking really basic questions to get him more comfortable. (Where do you go to school? What grade are you in? What’s your favorite school subject? What do you like to do for fun?)

Then she moved to word association. Mom, she said.

“Pretty good,” Ethan said. “Nice, but I get mad when she won’t let me play my 3DS.”

D looked at me. I could see her smile through her eyes. Grandma, she said next.

“Good,” said Ethan.


Ethan’s body tensed. He covered his face with his hands. He started to get very fidgety. His fists balled up. He arched his back.

“It’s okay,” D said. “How do you feel about your dad?”

“I don’t have a dad,” Ethan said.

“Yes you do,” D said. “He’s just not here with you. How do you feel about your dad?”

Ethan started punching the ball he was holding. “Mad,” he said. “I told him to stop drinking beer. I threw some of his beer away once. I got in really bad trouble.”

“What happened?” D asked softly.

Ethan continued hitting the ball. He turned his back to us and punched at the ball.

“Daddy yelled – LOUD. Then I got send to my room. He should have stopped drinking.”

“It’s okay to punch that ball,” D said. Ethan continued his physical outburst for another minute or so.

D looked at me and whispered,” Did you see those physical changes? There’s a lot going on there.”

I nodded.

The rest of the session went well. It was hard for Ethan to focus after talking about his dad. The three of us played a game involving placing stones on Ethan’s body to encourage him to lay still. Then we played a board game called Stop, Relax & Think, which got him opening up a bit about his feelings and start thinking through possible ways to relax and deal with stressful situations or things that make him angry.

At one point in the Stop, Relax & Think game, I had to sing a song until D told me to stop. Ethan apparently was not amused with my singing and told me to stop a few times. I kept going until D told me to quit, per the rules. D turned to Ethan and explained that it was never the job of the child to tell his parent to “stop.” Instead it is the job of the parent to correct the child. I liked D even more after that.

We go back to D in a week. She’s going to do good things with Ethan.

I’m relieved.