Monday, September 16, 2013

I am still here.

Hello, blog-land friends....

I hope you've not missed me much. The last time I posted, my life was drastically different than it is today. I'd just turned twenty-nine. I ate a steak and watched Anna Karenina with my husband and one of my closest friends.

Life was good. I was blessed. Truly, well blessed. And I knew it. We planned a trip to Montreal. It was to be the honeymoon we never took.

One day after arriving home from our trip...that I painstakingly planned for months...my sweet husband was dead. In the most violent, horrifying way I could ever conceive; my whole life was upside down. It would never be the same. Ever.

I lived in a daze for days after he died. The days melted into each other with the help of heavy doses of Ativan and crying myself to sleep. My sweet, beautiful DSH was gone. And he would never be back. No matter how I pleaded with God. Offered my own life in exchange for his. There was no going back on this one.

On February 26, 2013, I did something I never, ever imagined I would ever do. I gave a eulogy for the light and joy of my life. I said goodbye to a man who captured my heart; and I believed he'd taken it with him. I was convinced I'd died, too.

Many, many people came to his funeral. I was surrounded by love, and light. To celebrate the life of a great man who made my dreams come true, without fail, every single day.

But for those of you who could not be there and wanted to be, I share this here with you.

Eulogy for my Husband

I wanted to start this by thanking the Academy, but before I even wrote it down I could see my Mom's face. Then I swore I heard you laugh, my heart, so there it is. 

From wherever you are - and I hope it's somewhere with lots of food that isn't quite as good as mine - I hope you laughed. I hope you saw that I wanted to laugh for even a moment and that it made you happy. 

Everything about you made my heart sing, and everything about this moment makes me ache. There is no way to explain or make meaningful a life that turned my existence into life, a house into a home, or a smart-ass into a wife. 

You brought me to life, DSH. I had closed the door on life. Closed the door on happiness and joy. You yanked that door open and brought in life. My sunshine rose and set by you, because, wherever you went, you brought the light with you. For the first time in 25 years, I cared about the kind of person I was, and the kind of person I wanted to be, because of you and for you. 

You are not a person of grand gesture - in spite of how hard I tried to make you one. But I realize now, how important the little things are. How lovely and beautiful all of those little things are, that they are the things I already miss most. You cherished me in ways I didn't even know. That is the grandest gesture of all. 

I could stand here all day and talk about all of the things that make you the wonder you are. You are the kind of husband who carries his our wedding vows in his wallet. You are the kind of husband who says "I love you too" every single time (even the times I was testing you).

You are not the kind of man who would have left if given the choice. I believe that with all my heart. You deserved more than what happened to you. But you are more than that. You are so much more than what happened. 

I wanted everything for you, and I wanted to give you everything. I hope that what I did give you, above and beyond all was knowledge that you were chosen. You are special. In every sense of the word, I chose you. From the moment we met, I knew I was your wife. Even when you didn't know it. I was yours from the moment I laid eyes on you. It was a life-changing, gob-smacking movie moment. But it was real. And it's ours. Forever. Not many people get the kind of love that we do. But we got it, my sweetheart, and it's beautiful. 

If the truest love that's ever found is for yourself, I found love for me in you. I asked you to back a horse good for glue. You took the horse good for glue and gave her wind and drive to run. I was free. God, I loved that you loved me. I picked you. 

Wherever you are, I love you. 

Someday, I will look into those eyes again, those eyes that know my soul without a word, and I will remind you that you are chosen. Because you are special. 

You are a resplendent example of the love of one for another. A good husband, and a good man. You believed it was you who was undeserving. In reality, it was I who did not deserve you. Unworthy of love so deep and devoted, that sometimes, I didn't know what to do with it. But everyone here, and so many not here, already know what you did for me and why you are the wonder you are. That is why they are all here. They grieve you as I do, miss you as I do, and each and every person in this room wishes that they were not here today, not for this. 

Only you and I know what was really between us. I didn't always give you the steadfast support you gave me, my darling. I made it hard for you to love me sometimes, but you did it anyway. I didn't understand that I wouldn't be able to tell you forever how important you are to me, what you gave to me and that, really, you saved me from myself. 

I wanted to tell you, here and now, in front of all who love us, that your life will not be defined by this moment or the moments of the day you died. 

As I always do, I will carry on even if it means I will never again feel your breath on my neck, or hear you say my name the way you do. I will carry on with a glorious and shining example of love and life that I got to be a part of, that I am so proud of and would never trade anything for, except maybe just one more day with you. 

To everyone here today, I want you to know and to understand how much you mean to me. 

To my parents and brother and sister, who are amazing each and every day in so many ways, that inspire me and make me want to be more: You have been more amazing than I could have ever dreamed, if my dreams were as big and as beautiful each of you. Mom and Dad have lost a son, and my sister and brother have lost a brother. I will never know what that feels like, but I do know that you have given me grace and dignity in a horrible situation. That kind of love is so, so hard to come by. I am better for it, and I thank you. Thank you for all that you have done to make sure that I have the strength to carry on with determination for life. Not just today, but every day. 

I am who I am today because of all of the people who redefined possible. DSH was possibility redefined. He was my dream come true. Few people get to say they had that. But I did. With you, DSH. If you ever get lonely in Heaven, waiting for me, come and talk to me. I'm waiting to hear your voice. 

For my Irish family: thank you for giving DSH to me, without reservation or hesitation. For giving him whatever he needed to be the husband and friend that he was to me. He has touched the lives of so many, and that is no small credit to you. 

To each of you, who show your love every day, but especially today: I love you. DSH loved you, and we are better people - together and apart - for your presence in our lives. I wish for each of you the kind of love that DSH gave me. May each of you know what it feels like to love this way. It is real. It is true. We are living proof. 

There will never be enough words to communicate how much I loved you, but I will put it on my list of things to do. 

When I leave here today, the fact that DSH's life on Earth is over will be real. Carved in stone and indelible on my heart.

The tiny Band-Aid of comfort that this provides for the gaping wound on my heart is no match for your love, DSH. Your laugh, your beautiful beaming smile are no match for the momentary pain of today. I cannot talk about you without talking about me because I feel like you are as much a part of me as my eyes, or my hands or my heart. 


But for now, I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.

I remember: after reading this, that my mom sat next to me with tears in her eyes and told me that what I'd said was beautiful.

I saw my Dad cry, for perhaps the second time in my life.

We left the funerary space. When everyone was gone, I wrapped my arms around that urn and cried with a ferocity I have never before felt. And for the very last time, I told you I loved you and kissed you good-bye.

And I walked into the arms on my family (some I am related to and others I am not). Without them, I would surely be dead.

I post this for you, for them...but most of all, for myself. A reminder that I must continue. I am still here.

Thank you, cyber friends, for sharing this space with me.

All my love to you. xx

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Paradoxical Birthday Commandments

Hello, my cyberfriends!

Today is a special day. It's Thursday. I have the day off of work.

It's also my birthday. I'm 29.

I'm sad. I should be planning all kinds of shenanigans to celebrate another year in my life. The things I have done, will do and want to do. There are many things to celebrate and many reasons to be very happy. I know how blessed I truly am, and I am happy for that.

I am happy to live in a country where I can do what I want and be who I want to be. I am proud that our home is a place where everyone is welcome to come, and be whomever they want to be. We have worked hard to foster that.

But today I am sad.

Today is my birthday. It is true. It's my Mom's birthday, too, really. Your first baby's birth is what made you a Mama, and my Dad. Happy birthday to my parents.

It's also a death day. Today is the day that my Mom and Dad mourned the loss of the baby I should have been. The healthy, able-bodied baby that was born exactly on time, maybe a little late. Because she likes to sleep in.

My birthday makes me sad. Sad to think about what I could have been and the things that I could have done without any chains. My chair is my chain: the very thing that gives me the freedom to move and be independent is seen by others as something to be embarrassed or ashamed of.

I talked to my Mom today. I talk to my mother every day...but today I cried. And I told her how sad my birthday makes me, of all the things I could have done, or the kind of person I might have been, had I not been sentenced.

It's a crime no one committed, but I am serving time. I got a life sentence, and this is my jail. It was an accident. Something that happens; there is nothing I can do but live my life the best way I can and hope that at the end, it was worth all of the things my very young mother gave up to make sure I grew to be healthy and happy.

I know what little of what she gave up. She would never tell me that it was a sacrifice for her to raise me. She wants me to know that she did it because she wanted to, no sense of obligation or requirement. She has tried so hard to help me learn to love myself - as myself. She tells me all the time (as do many others) that she would 'never trade up', and that I am the person I am supposed to be: "Little Miss Sunshine", she said, "you still haven't learned to accept yourself".

My father's approach to life is simple. He says "fuck them. Live your life for you. People are assholes." It is a cleaner, Dad-like way of saying, "I love you. So who cares? Jimmy crack corn and we don't care". My dad and I would never have the "my birthday makes me sad" conversation. He doesn't know how to live his life based on what other people care about or think of him.

Isn't that amazing? I wish I knew how to do that. To say that I really don't care what you think of me, and to live my life that way.

Everywhere I turn, there are messages (silent and spoken) barriers (real and attitudinal) and general disdain for the lives of people who are different - not just disabled.

How do I tell my mother that I have learned to accept everything and everyone else because I want so badly to be accepted by everything and everyone else? You can give unconditional love, but you are never guaranteed that the love you receive in return comes without conditions. Mother Theresa's paradoxical commandments say, "love them anyway".

So...I love anyway. Because I have great examples of love.

I have spent most of my life defying what everyone said I couldn't do. I will freely admit that some of the things I have done, were just a "so there! Just because you said I couldn't...give me one good reason and I will do it anyway!"

Maybe that's a bit of my Dad in me.

To everyone celebrating a day of birth today, you are loved. I love you, even if I have no idea who you are. You have no reason to want to be anything more than the wonder you are. You are accepted and loved by me, a perfect stranger..because we're given "faith hope and love. The greatest of these is love".

I hope to find love this year. For myself.

Happy birthday.

Love. xo