I have been neglectful lately…but my head and my heart have been filled with so much mumble jumble that I didn’t even know how to start. It has been a trial to get through the last two weeks. I would say that it has been infinitely harder this year than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I knew passing “the day” would be difficult, but I really didn’t know that it would be so suffocating. I did well, I think, on the Fourth of July and on the Eighth.
On the 4th, my sister came over and I cooked food. I joke that I cook so people can come over and check on my mental state, but that is precisely what I do. I like to cook for people and fill their bellies with food…because I like to think that I am an awesome cook and that my food makes people happy…and then I am happy too! We also went to the pool that day, which was nice because there wasn’t much thinking involved.
The next day Michael’s friends arrived in town. Well…let me correct that, my friends that I met through Michael. I had spent most of that day being lazy doing homework and I had to scramble to clean…which is only pertinent because my mop broke and when they arrived the kids were cleaning the wood floors with wash cloths! They like doing it, it is not like it is some sort of child labor. The next day I got hay for the horses and packed my clothes and we all set out for Quantico, VA to see a dear friend of all of ours graduate from OCS. I thought that the weekend would be overwhelming, that being at a military ceremony would be overwhelming, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was hot. At 9:00 am I was sweating like I had been running! The best part of the entire ceremony was when our friend, Justin, marched past us at the conclusion. I was an honor to be there and I couldn’t help but think how proud Michael would have been of him and his other two friends in our company that have went the Enlisted to Officer route too. After the ceremony we went to lunch and then I spent some time alone while the kids went with our friends to the pool.
The next day was the day that I dread. I didn’t sleep well the night before and I was up earlier than I planned. I can’t accurately explain what I felt that morning other than empty. I knew that going to the Marine Corps Museum and seeing Michael’s memorial brick would be difficult. I had been there the year before and it was a lot to take in. When you are running after three kids there is not a lot of time to cry. They were so excited to find Michael’s name and pick up their duckies that his friends left for them to find…and then when we walked away Olivia was very sad. I hugged her for a bit while she soaked it in and then she walked away, back to normal. I am quite sure that if I were not there in the presence of others then I would not have been able to walk through the museum after that. I love the Marine Corps Museum because for me it puts my loss in perspective. I know people who are in my shoes, but seeing the numbers on the wall helps me to remember that this did not just happen to me and some people that I know in this generation. This loss has occured before…and for some people they did not know for quite a bit of time about how their loved ones were doing because of mail service and the difference in technology. I am grateful at least that I never sent letters in vain, that I never had a single unopened piece of mail returned to me. Anyway, having my friends there with me was wonderful because I wasn’t alone. Not having Frank here this year has made this time even harder because I didn’t have anyone (in my mind) to hold onto…but surprisingly I was wrong. If Frank could talk to the people who were with me and spent time with me through this he would say, “Thank you.” I feel terrible for him, I could read it in his voice each time that we talked that not being here was hard on him. I could tell that he felt like he was failing us in some way…it is absolutely not true, but I couldn’t make him feel any better. Later that day, we met with another couple Shawn and Rebecca for dinner (and dessert). I really appreciated being around them…Shawn was on Michael’s team and there that day…and I don’t really think that I need to explain why having him be there was helpful. His wife Rebecca was also very helpful initially after Michael died…she probably doesn’t realize it…but I won’t ever forget how she sat on the floor of my bedroom with the dog while I rewrote the obituary and looked for pictures of Michael to send to the funeral home. It mattered that she was there, plain and simple. They have ran with me and encouraged me, and even more importantly supported my decisions (and I don’t even know if they completely agreed with them or not, but they still support me!) We didn’t have to talk about ‘it” at all…but I hope that seeing the kids and I on that day was helpful for them too.
For much of this week the family that I traveled to Quantico with stuck around and it was great. Not because they helped me outside and around the house, but because the kids and I got to spend time with people who were a part of our lives before Michael died. That might not seem significant but it really is. It was always so suffocating before to be with people who knew us as a family. Not because of anything they did, but because the obvious missing factor, Michael, was difficult. I tried very hard every time to not withdraw and be sad, but it always happened. This is the first time that it didn’t. I am sure that people thought I was rude because I turned down a lot of invitations. But it was always so hard. I didn’t know how to say I couldn’t come because I didn’t want to go home and cry about the fact that Michael was missing. After I met Frank I just didn’t want to deal with the first awkward “hey, this is my new love” scenario. Like I said, this time was different. I was able to talk and laugh and let some people back into our lives. I think that I have been afraid a lot of what will happen when the kids spend a lot of time with people and then they have to go home (or we do) and how that will affect the kids. I don’t want them to repeatedly feel loss over and over throughout their lives. I so realize that is part of living. So, I am trying to not be so crazy about it anymore. Anyway, I got to talk a lot about Michael and that was good. I worry that when I get around certain people I talk about Michael too much, I know that it nuts, but I am nuts. I didn’t just talk about the good moments too. I talked about how MARSOC affected him, not just us, but him too. That is something that I rarely voice in a kind way, but I was able to this time. I talked about the things that disappointed me in the year before he died, and the moments that were simply perfect. I admitted the things that make me angry, the amount of support that I have actually had, and really how tough this has been on me.
I have moments each day where I sit in everything privately. I cry, I laugh, I just remember. On Thursday I had one of those day where my emotions were completely uncontrollable. I cried. A lot. I felt like I was losing my mind. Everything built up for two weeks inside me and it all came out at once. I MISS MICHAEL SO MUCH!!! This will probably sound more terrible than anything that I have ever said, and I apologize…sort of…to those who think this is heartless…I have dealt with people dying before. I don’t remember when my Grandpa died, I know when it was, but I don’t remember, so I don’t miss him like my sister or my parents. I do remember when my Grandma died when I was 16 and how it hurt. I remember when my Great-Aunt and a couple of my Great-Uncles died who I was extremely fond of. It hurt…but I always moved forward. The pain dissipated. Sure, I get pangs in my heart when I think about them, but it honestly is not something that occurs everyday. I don’t think about my Grandma or my Aunts and Uncles that are gone every day. I just don’t. Michael, I do. I never kidded myself to believe that I would “get over” losing Michael, but I didn’t know that it would feel every day like someone was squeezing my heart to the point of popping. I guess that I was as naïve as everyone else about what losing a spouse can do to your heart and soul…Michael was my best friend, he was my everything. Our children, our three beautiful babies that I love so tremendously, were like a bonus in our relationship. We had each other and then we had our little mini-me’s that made life together that much better…we had it all figured out.
And guess what?!? I MISS FRANK TOO! It is so incredibly painful to miss Michael on a daily basis, but to add to that the fact that my best friend in this world cannot come home and kiss me each night is more difficult than I imagined it would be. That probably seems so silly because I have dealt with him being away a lot this year (and I went through three deployments with Michael). There was always this date that I could say he is coming home. I can’t say that now. I don’t know when he will be home and it is infuriating and frustrating at the same time! I feel so bad for him, I really do, because I can tell that he misses us so very much! So, I probably shouldn’t complain, but doing everything alone is overwhelming. I need him here every night when I breathe for the first time since I woke up in the morning to hug me and tell me he loves me! I hate settling for the phone. However, I know that I have it better than some people do because except for when he is traveling between places he can call every day. Anyway, I still have no idea when Frank will be home…but I made it through a terrible two weeks. So, as long as after I fix the remaining things that have broken in the last few days at the house everything goes smoothly, I will make it…
I really hope that this post makes sense. I tried to write in chronological order about things…but I also want to say one more time that I really appreciate the people that I spent the weekend with (and the week). I am really glad that I took a leap and called Michael’s dad and talked to him, that I talked to his sister. That I was able to text his brother-in-law and Mom. I generally avoid all conversation, but I did good this year I think.