Life’s a Beach

On that day in August 2009, Zed was working in one of his favorite areas of Isle of Palms; the corner of 5th Avenue and Ocean Blvd. We had spent a lot of time out there together, as we have friends who own a house right there on the beach. I went there for the first time in a long while on Sunday with Saffron and my cross-eyed dog Charlie.

Saffron and I met at the house which overlooks the ocean. When we arrived, I asked her to walk with me for a minute before heading out to the beach; “I want to show you something”. We walked across the street to the side yard of the house opposite the ocean. She said “Are we just going to walk through random people’s yards?” “It’s ok, I know the owners” I said. We were on the side of the house where a short concrete wall not more than a foot high separates the front and back yards. Charlie was sniffing around and I said “This is it, this is where he fell”. Tears immediately welled in her eyes, I said “it’s okay, don’t cry”. I admit I shocked her, who expects that someone would want to spend time where their spouse lost their life. I have a love/hate relationship with that spot; I’ve cried many tears sitting on that wall.

Of course right on cue Charlie decides he has found HIS spot and promptly does his business, right as I’m telling Saffron. At least it made me laugh. While I’m telling her this tragic story, I’m also trying to pick up a steaming pile. Typical! The moment made us both laugh; more importantly I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t tell her the whole story; I would have choked up and neither of us really wanted to spend our Sunday crying.

I did share with her how I used to go there every month on the 1st, sit and cry, sob really. Sometimes I would lie on the grass where I imagined his body was or I would sit on the wall and listen to his iPod laughing at his song choices and sometimes I would scream with tears streaming down my face because I so desperately wanted my life back. Didn’t matter what the weather was like, hot, cold, rainy, I was there. I tried on many occasions to imagine what happened that day, did his foot slip?, did he fall when he was hanging up the phone with me?, did he know what was happening? He used to tell me “Don’t worry, I’m Spiderman, I always have a plan in case I fall” There was nothing he could have done to save himself, nothing to grasp onto, break his fall, to change the outcome. As time passed I went out there less and less. As we were walking away Saffron asked “where is he buried?” I laughed and said “Uhhh, nowhere” she replied “So where is he?”….“Now? In the dining room.”

Cremation is a bizarre thing. I never really thought about the details prior to Zed’s death. The how, what, where of it all. It was a couple of days after the funeral when they called to let us know he was ready to be picked up…Hmmmm, I didn’t really think this part through.

It was so strange, as we walked in the funeral home, my sisters and I, the attendant came out to greet us, she lead us to a room where candles were burning on a table with a black plastic box sitting between. She said “I’ll give you a moment alone with him” Uhhhhh alright??? We looked at each other like what are we supposed to do now? Trying not to giggle, we just sat down and waited for her to come back. She returned looking very somber, a reusable grocery bag with the funeral home logo in hand. She handed me the bag filled with information, a pen and some other stuff. Who’s going to carry around a funeral home bag? I don’t think they thought through their marketing materials. She started explaining that the box is quite heavy, something most people don’t think about I guess, I never did. Now I realize…Hey, he was a two hundred pound man in a 6”X4” box; of course it’s going to be heavy, like twelve pounds heavy.

We got in the car with the box; I held it on my lap. We had to run a couple of errands while we were out, when we stopped at Target I looked at my sisters and said “Can I leave him in the car?” My oldest sister looked at me like I was crazy and said laughing “well you’re not going to carry him in there are you?” I don’t know what I was thinking? The oddest thing about death and grief is how much you laugh through it too, at the absurdity of it all. I recall laughing at the funeral because Zed’s lips didn’t have any chap stick on them. I know irreverent but laughing is the only way to make it through.

When we got home I really didn’t know what to do, I carried the box upstairs and took him into my bathroom and shut the door. I set the box on the edge of the tub, sat down on the toilet and stared. He sat on the edge of that tub for a long time. Appropriate I guess, Zed and I had some of our most important conversations in that room, always with one of us sitting on the edge of the tub. Today that box resides in a beautiful wooden box that my brother made, it’s made of elm wood that he recovered from one of our childhood “second homes” sanded so smooth you can’t imagine it was made by hand, with beautiful walnut inlays. Zed sits on the buffet server in the dining room we never use, surrounded by pictures of our family. Inside the box there is a tray that holds our wedding rings, his watch and a pile of old cards we had given each other over the years. That box is only thing I’d grab if there was an emergency.

I’m glad I went to the beach yesterday, to our old spot. It was a beautiful day in Charleston, a little overcast, breezy and with great company, perfect really. It felt good to go there again and laugh a little, see old friends that I haven’t seen in too long. I know someday, when the time is right and I’m ready, I’ll take him to that part of the beach and let him stay. Well what’s left of him… That’s another story, ugh!

Footnote: Since my last post, I’m doing quite well. I feel like myself again and I’m smiling more than ever… more on that later 😉

Love,
g

Belief

I believe in love.  I believe in marriage.  I believe that no matter how difficult the road is, all marriages can survive even the most difficult of situations.  I have a lot of friends who have faced very real and what can seem, to most, as impossible to forgive events.  However, if you are both diligent, choose humility and forgiveness, the best part of your marriage can be on the other side.  Marriage is not easy, if you think it is you have not had your trial yet.  You will in some way, be prepared and choose to love your way through it without losing yourself.

We are all guilty of making poor decisions, giving into our inner desires instead of what is right.  It can be a relationship outside of marriage, a crime, financial difficulties, anything that betrays your partners trust.  I’ve been guilty myself.  I’ve also been the one that has been scorned.  I try to encourage my friends to work through their difficulties, I tell them how wonderful my marriage was after Zed, and I fought through some trials.  The things I’ve experienced and the choices I’ve made in my past have made me who I am today.  I’m not proud of a lot of it.  Nevertheless, I am different because of it all.  I would never make the same choices today.

It was on a Tuesday Morning around 3:00AM in January of 2011, my phone rang, it was a blocked call but I knew it was him; QJ, I couldn’t help myself, I answered anyway knowing I shouldn’t.  I needed to know why?  I still need to know why?  It was only three weeks after he married her, six weeks since my world was turned upside down, only seven weeks since we spent Thanksgiving with my whole extended family.  He played the game well and I was blindsided.

I answered and said “Hello” there was silence but I knew he was there.  I repeated myself several times asking, “Why are you calling?”  Nothing, just silence.  So, I started talking about everything that was going on in our lives, myself and the kids.  I told him of going on vacation, my upcoming trip to Pittsburgh anything, except speak about my daughter.  I figured if I spoke softly and let him know that I still loved him that he would say something.  He never said a word.  I finally said “If you are not going to brave enough to speak I’m hanging up.” so I did.

The next night the same thing, the phone rang, silence…  This time I was angry, I said “the least you could fucking do is say you’re sorry!” that is when the sound came, a grown man sobbing on the other end of the line, pure sobs; I could feel his heart breaking through the phone.  All I heard was “I’m sorry” through the sobs.  I hated him and loved him in the same moment.  My heart ripped out of my chest.  It was validation of what I already knew, he really did love me.  He still was not speaking anything else so I began asking questions.  “Why did you marry her?”, “You could have made any other choice!”, “Why?”  All I heard was “Reilly?” infuriated I said “You lost the right to know anything about her.”, he claimed he loved my daughter as if she were his own.  He said he loved all my children and he would be there for them for the rest of his life.  At least that is what I thought, what he made me believe.  I now know, if that were the case, he wouldn’t have sacrificed them for his own selfish gain.

He couldn’t answer why, in the thousand times that I’ve asked since that first phone call, he’s never given me a reason.  He’s never said he was happy, he’s never said he made the right choice, he’s never said he is no longer in love with me, quite the opposite.  That day began a year of torture for me when all I wanted was closure.  I wanted him to tell me that he chose marriage, that he believed in love, and that he knew he would be happier on the other side with her, that he was sorry for the thousands of lies he told.  Instead, I just got more lies that lead me down a very dark road.

Even today my heart still breaks for the love I thought I had, for the person I thought he was, I still love that person, the one that doesn’t exist.

Love,

g

What’s Worse?

I’ve contemplated this question a lot over the past couple of years. Which is worse, to have your heart broken in a failed relationship or to lose your spouse to death? In the past 2 years, 6 months and 18 days I’ve experienced both. How does that happen? Well its simple when you lose a spouse especially one that you are madly in love with all you can do is beg for the world to stop spinning. That feeling still haunts me today, lying in my bed not wanting to deal with school, kids, life, making dinners, friends, phone calls and bills; just needing to be in the moment and grieve. It doesn’t work that way, the sun still comes up every day, the kids still need to be fed, and there are a million things that need to be done. My whole purpose became about making life normal again for my kids, to keep their world spinning smoothly. Holding onto a house, I shouldn’t have, seeming happy when I wasn’t, laughing when I really needed to be crying. In addition, through all of it, I just wanted to feel normal again, to talk to the one I was missing; to feel their touch and have their support. It’s an unexplainable feeling that is different for everyone. To have someone just gone one day is torture. I’d never experienced it before and I live in fear of experiencing it again.

There have been a few men in my life since Zed died. HD, who really was just a blip on the radar and not a relationship. There was BDD who saved my life, held my hair, my hand and my heart for a moment, but I broke his because I couldn’t love him the way he needed me to. The King who has been a quiet presence for a little over a year with his occasional “how are you?” texts, long philosophical conversations & debates, a friend. Ooh and I can’t forget GI Joe…damn! Nothing ever happened with him, wrong time, and wrong place but we had a couple of great moments that still make me laugh. Sure would have liked to know what could have happened there, think he’s just as nuts as me, and only guessing but just as damaged. But today it’s about him, the one that almost took my life. I want to scream his name and expose him for the pain he caused me, my family and friends but I won’t; QJ changed me. He broke me just as much as losing Zed. Sometimes I think it was worse.

QJ’s story will take me several posts to tell. It’s a whole chapter of my life that I’m still trying to resolve in my mind. It was a scandal, sexy, sweet, dirty, and full of wild passionate love, the kind that you only experience once and really never want to experience again. Nevertheless, my mind goes back trying to search for that moment, the one moment I can still feel, where everything I thought I once knew about being connected to another human being changed…forever. I don’t know if I will ever feel that again. I want to, it was an explosion of every emotion I ever felt in one single event that left me happy, sad, crying, scared, ashamed, vulnerable and for once fully trusting another person with the truth of the deepest secrets of my true self. I beg some days to bring that all back but have contempt in my heart for all the events that followed and could never forgive him for the destruction of my life and family, that came with his game. It was all a lie; I was so desperate to feel whole again I gave myself to a man who almost took my life.

At Zed’s funeral we had a receiving line. Everyone came through hugging, crying and sometimes laughing giving their best condolences. I distinctly remember QJ being there. I wanted to be sure that I spoke to him. He sent the largest most beautiful arrangement of flowers, and I wanted to acknowledge them to him personally. I saw him walk through the door, look at us standing there; me and my children. What he did was the epitome of him, he didn’t wait in line, he walk directly around everyone else and came straight to me. He hugged me told me he was sorry turned around and walked out the door. He didn’t stay. I later learned it took all he had to come there, funerals are not his thing.

It was several weeks after Zed passed away when I received the first email. It was two sentences, something like, I’m going to stop by and bring you some brownies and wine. I thought it was a little odd. This man who I’d known for about a year and only had a few conversations with, to email me but everyone was checking on me at that point. The very short emails bounced back and forth between us for weeks. We would talk at our bi-weekly card games that continued without pause after Zed was gone. It was a way for us all to feel normal and to hold onto him. At one of the games we talked quite a bit and he asked for my number, I gave it to him knowing that he was probably interested in more than just being a supportive friend. However, I was lonely and he made me feel beautiful and important. He called me about 3 days later while in California on business, we talked on the phone for hours, until three or four in the morning about everything. It was like a warm blanket had been draped over me all in an attempt to ease the pain. He covered me with that blanket for over a year, all while living another life too.

It will unfold like the pages of a fiction novel, but it’s all real. A story that keeps changing as the days go by and life continues to heal. What a wonderful thing it is to be human and continually learn to be happy with who is present in your life, to find peace in the moment.

Love,
g

The Last Was Best

The last date I had with HD was wonderful; we went to dinner earlier this week, sat close, held hands, and enjoyed each other’s company. We made out in the car when he dropped me off and text each other the rest of the night until I fell asleep. Unfortunately that was our last date. I’m not really sure what happened after that? Sometimes things just fizzle out; he has been distant and aloof since and stood me up this weekend with no explanation or communication. Being stood up is a new experience for me and seemed completely out of character for him but that’s why we date so we can really learn who someone is, I learned something that I wasn’t expecting and can’t accept. He was a great experience and I can walk away knowing that our last date was incredible. He was a sweet, kind, generous man that I’m happy I had the chance to get to know a little.

In thinking about our time together it’s left me remembering the best last date I’ve ever had. As I’m sitting here at the place that Zed, my late husband, lost his life, I can’t remember the last words I said to him. I’ve tried a million times. However, I can remember the last date we had, every detail. Right down to what he was wearing.

The week leading up to Zed’s death was hectic he had been working insane hours. Our little company had been suffering just like everyone else. The construction industry had been crippled by the economy and we had let all of our employees go. Zed was working by himself and making it work financially for our family. He would work outside jobs all day, take a little break then go back out and work an inside job into the night. Crazy thing was he loved it; he had such pride in his work and what he had built for himself.

The kids had been gone for the summer as they usually are and were returning on Sunday. It was our last weekend together before homework, activities and kids took our lives back over. In summers past we went out to nice dinners or cooked gourmet meals at home together; that summer was different we were being very careful with our money and hadn’t been out at all.

It was a Friday night; I had worked all day and was lying on the sofa exhausted from the week. Zed came walking through the garage door covered in paint but happy, excited with his huge beautiful smile plastered on his face. He said “let’s go out, I want to take my beautiful wife out to our favorite place and enjoy how hard we’ve been working.” I of course fought him, saying we couldn’t spend the money. He wouldn’t have it, he said the kids are coming home on Sunday; we have poker here tomorrow let’s just have some time to ourselves. I finally agreed and we got ready and headed to our spot, High Thyme on Sullivan’s Island.

On our way to dinner we stopped by the job site he had been working at for a few weeks, to check on the equipment. He got out of the car and the family came out to greet him. Everyone loved Zed, his clients became friends and he never met a stranger. They didn’t recognize him at first; he was dressed up, clean shaven just handsome. He introduced us and they told me how he talked about me and the kids all the time.

When we arrived at High Thyme we were greeted like we usually were by Emily at the bar and Kenny the owner. We had a drink and laughed with Emily while we waited for a table. We were seated at an intimate table in the back of the dining room where we had an amazing meal and perfect conversation.

Zed was always thinking about life, what he wanted to do next, how to be a better man, husband and father. He held my hand across the table and talked about our kids. They weren’t of his body but he loved them like they were his own there was no difference. He talked about the upcoming school year and how he wanted to be closer to them and encourage them more to strive for their dreams. He told me how much he loved me and how grateful he was for our life together. That he wanted to be a better husband to me. It was perfect all the things that every woman wants to hear.. needs to hear. After dinner we walked out to the beach and were just quiet together walking, listening to the water and enjoying the warm ocean breeze. Holding hands, kissing… In love.

When we got home that night we didn’t make it far, walked in the door making out and ripping off our clothes. We had amazing sofa sex that night; the kind where you’re sweaty and out of breath when it’s all over. Zed was my other half, my balance, never to be replaced always in my soul.

The next morning we were up early and heading out the door; me to the gym for back to back classes and him to the job site for a couple of hours to finish up. I don’t know if I said goodbye, if I told him I loved him, we always did a kiss and an, I love you but for some reason I just can’t remember if we did that day. That afternoon he lost his life and I lost part of mine too…
That was the best last date I’ve ever had.

I love and miss you Zed.

Love,
g