Thursday, November 12, 2009

Amazingly, I survived...

I know. I have been remiss in writing. I think often about what I want to write and begin to formulate a post in my brain. But time is an ever elusive beast these days and the posts in my mind tend to become irrelevant or tired by the time I decide to actually commit them to written word.

So, instead I have decided to just sit down and see what rambles out. I have no conscious idea of where I will go with it today. But bloody hell, I never end up writing what I originally intended anyways!

Life for the most part is good. Alec is doing remarkably well. He has his shit days, as we all do. But he is no longer quite so fearful of losing me. I no longer have to be within view at all times. He plays. He laughs. He tumbles. He bounces. He is remarkably like a “normal” little boy. A little boy who doesn’t have a care in the world. A little boy who did not watch his dad slowly die.

If you stop sometimes you can see the darker, deeper affects of his loss. He seems to understand things on an emotional and cognitive level far beyond his years. He worries that people are unhappy. That people are sad. That someone might get sick. He talks about Cancer and I think he sometimes has a more profound understanding of it than many adults.

You can also see other tread marks on his life as he rebelliously shuns growing up. He wants to be taken care of. Safe. Secure. Dressing is a battle. Potty time is a battle. As it very well may be with many children. And in true Skye form, I may be over-analyzing the hell out of the very simple and common behavior of a toddler boy. But I know too that he feels small and helpless and just wants to be held and protected from the scary world out there. I can relate. I have the very same moments myself.

Often he goes about life, laughing and being silly. And then sometimes out of the blue he will come up and say something that tears your heart out. Recently he came up to me and said, “You know what would be cool?” And when I asked what, he said, “If the doctors were able to someday get the rest of the Cancer out of daddies head and he could come back. That would be so cool.” Yeah DoodleBug, that would be. And damn, if it were only that easy. When I explained that daddy would never be able to come back. That the Doctors tried so very hard, but they were just unable to get all the Cancer out and Daddy died. Alec responded, “I know. But it would be so nice if he did someday. I miss him.” Shit. Shit. Shit. And those are the moments that he sounds so much older than four. Like an old man trapped in a little body. And then he looks up, his eyes bright and smiling. And the moment washes past us like a leaf caught up in a stream.

Life moves on. We move on.

I think of David often. In many respects a part of him will always be inside me. I will carry him with me wherever I go for the remainder of my days on this rock. His love. His strength. His fierce determination. His playful spirit. His laughter.

Sometimes it weighs me down and my heart aches. Other times it buoys me up and strengthens me. But it is there. Always a part of me. I am Skye. I was once David’s wife. I was his Wildflower. His best friend. His Lover.

Now I am a widow. But really, I am so much more than that simplistic title implies. My identity is constantly changing, as am I. No, I am no longer someone’s wife. But I am still Skye. Not the Skye of 16 years ago when we first met. And not even the Skye of 16 months ago, the night David died. But I like her. I think she is one brave fucking warrior. She is strong. And she still cries. Amazingly she is still able to be silly. To laugh. To dance. To dream. To place her heart in another’s hands. To love.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I like the person I have become. In many ways it was David’s last imparting gift to me. And I know that I would not be who I am today. Not only with David’s love; but with the loss of him as well. The last few years helped define me in a way I do not think anything else could have. It crystallized a lot of things within me. My passion. My love of life. My need to eek every damn, precious, silly, fun moment out of life.

I learned a lot about myself. My strengths. My weaknesses. My fears.
I learned to conquer some of them and picked up a few new ones on my journey. But I have since found that although one can never live a completely fearless life. One cannot let fear control them and the decisions they make. Just tuck your head down and barrel forward, I say. Because like it or not. Life is gonna happen. The good moments and the ones that threaten to tear your soul apart. And there is no use trying to side step that fucker. Because if it is meant to happen, it is going to happen whether you stand tall and let it wash over you, or curl into a ball.

Sometimes I liken myself to a sword. It kind of sounds silly and trite, but it fits. I have been annealed by the flames. Coming through the fire, stronger and sharper than ever. It did not break me and I will forever be stronger because of it. It is not that I am ok that David died. Far from it. And I am not trying to find meaning in his death. He died. There is nothing I can ever do to change that reality. But with his death, I have been able to finally find myself. Truly. And to actually like the woman who stands before me in the mirror. And through all the heartache, pain and darkness…somehow something beautiful has emerged. Hope survives. Love survives. Amazingly, I survived...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life is just full of surprises…

All the little moments that make up our life are precious. They are the building blocks of our life. All the other stuff, the errands, the projects, the inconsequential crap that often times tend to overtake our daily lives…in the end means nothing. It is just filler. Life and truly living is the key. Sounds so cliché, but it is true.

Because one day you are sitting on top of the world and everything seems perfect. Life is wonderful. And the next moment you are curled in the fetal position beside your husband in a hospital bed…sobbing. The nurses furtively wandering the halls trying not to intrude as you try to wrap your mind around the fact that your husband has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. That he is going to die. And mostly likely in mere months. It was heartbreaking and beyond conceivable. But it was how it was, albeit David gave em' a much longer run than expected. That was my reality.

Those days are forever etched on my mind. And have become a constant reminder to me that every second must be relished. Every smile, every laugh. Everything. And that is what I do now…

David and I spent every waking moment together. People always used to give us hell that the honeymoon would end someday and that always made us laugh. We were married 12 years and we never expected the ‘Honeymoon’ stage to end. We were inseparable and I thought I could never live without him.
Thankfully I was wrong…

I once told David that if I could, I would take the Cancer onto myself so he could live. I so desperately wanted him to live, even if it meant I could not. But he just smiled, gently stroked my face and said, “No wildflower, that is not your path. You were meant to live beloved. I never would have had the strength to go on without you, but you have always had a deeper strength inside you and will survive this. You will live. And smile for me.”

I remember those words. And after he died, I wanted to die too. But I didn't. I continued to live despite every cell in my body shrieking in pain. At first the only thing that kept life in this body was David’s will for me to live. And then in time it became my own. I learned that life. All life. Even my own…was precious. And I value it much more now than I probably ever have. I not only want to live, play and relish the world around me because David’s time was cut short…but I want to do it for me. How crazy is that?!

There is so much beauty surrounding us, if we only take a moment to sit and embrace it. And despite the dark roads I traveled with David. And the many dark nights I traveled alone. I have seen so much of that beauty around me. I see it in my little boy and his wonder at the world. In the friends and family who stood with me, weathering the dark storms that buffeted my life. My mom who did things that no mom should ever have to do for her daughter or son-in-law. In rainy days. Moonlit skies. In the winds blowing through the trees. And the sound of rain splashing the windowsill. There is beauty everywhere. And despite the damnable fact that death is a part of our lives. So is life.

Some have said that they felt a shift in my writing for some time. Albeit, my posts have become infrequent as of late. But for those of you who had not already felt this shift, I have someone in my life. I never intended to be dating so soon really. It just happened. He came into my life as a friend and has now found space in my heart. Most are absolutely delighted. Many have been supportive. Some have been surprised and a few might even be aghast. But that too is life.

It takes my breath away sometimes. How much beauty is out there, if you only open your heart and mind to it. I stood on a dock not too long ago wrapped in his arms. Watching the night sky and feeling a peace I have not known for some time. Marveling that I have found someone who gives me not only smiles and laughter, but friendship and love. I found something I had not even realized I was even remotely ready for and have been able to connect with someone in a way I never honestly expected to be able to do again.

I am finding new things about myself and experiencing things I probably never would have tried. And if anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be having a fabulous time sitting on a boat, relaxing, drinking an Eastside Dark and fishing…I would have laughed at them. Life is full of surprises isn’t it?! Life is limitless and I am finding so is love.

I never expected to be here, especially so soon. And I have no clue where I am going. But life has so much beauty and love to offer, if we let our hearts lead the way. And I for one am ready…

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Thinking. Thinking. And more thinking…

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Widowhood. Single parenting. Widowhood and single parenting. Everything is so much more complex now. Things take a bit more effort. Life takes a bit more effort.

What once was one trip into the house with crap from the car, now takes me 2 or 3. Getting ready takes longer, as there is no one to divert the little man when he wants my attention. Cooking, cleaning, and basically everything requires a bit more effort. There is no longer that second pair of hands to help out.

I am learning out of necessity to juggle about ten things at once these days. I no longer have that live in person to hand Alec off to if I have a headache, or bills or the flu. But I have not in some time, really. I just muddle through as best I can, learning how to make the best use of my time. Becoming more efficient. David would be proud. He was always about efficiency and now I too am learning how important it is and imperative to survival these days. Becoming more efficient with the day-to-day crap. Leaving more time to play. To live. To do the things that really matter in life.

I am finding my way in this new role. A few of the ladies from my ‘Wonderful and Wacky Widows’ playgroup (And yes sadly there are enough of us that we actually have our own playgroup) were just talking about this the other day. How despite everything we have gone through. Everything our children have experienced. We are doing more than ok and our children are astonishingly well balanced despite everything they have had to go through in their short time on this rock. We are all doing it. Getting through the days. And I find we are no longer just merely surviving the days. We are moving on. Piecing our lives back together. Finding our way. Finding love. Finding hope.

Not to say it is not hard some days. Some days are beyond brutal. And some I feel weary and beaten down. And some I cry. But I get through those moments and at the end of the day think to myself. Damn. I did it. I never would have thought I could have, but I did.

Recently I made it through our first flight together. It was tough. Much tougher than expected, but I got though it. I would watch all the other “Traditional” families wistfully. As one parent would hand the kid off to the other as they juggled luggage, tickets or food. There was no one to hand Alec off to...and yet we got through it. And although numerous times throughout the flight, during the long layover and navigating across the airport I thought about how much it sucks to be a single parent. I did it. And that in itself was empowering!

Since that flight, it has gotten me thinking. Thinking about families. Thinking about my future. And what it means to be a family. Whether you have the “Traditional” family unit of a mom and dad. Or maybe you have two moms…or two dads. Or maybe you are a single mom or dad through divorce or widowhood. Or you have no children, and your family is your wife or husband. Your parents. Your friends. The concept of family encompasses so many different forms. No particular composition is the right one and no family is perfect. And even in our own lives, our families change. People come and go. Families get smaller…and they get bigger too.

I watch families when I am out and about incessantly as of late. At the zoo. At the restaurant. I watch longingly at them. The dad smiles and scoops up one of the little ones. The mom meanwhile juggling another kid on her lap. I look at those families, knowing full damn well that although they are smiling and laughing…there is no saying that their lives are perfect. Who knows what kind of marriage they have. Or what crazy messed up curve balls life has thrown at them as well. You never know what hell others are going through under the surface of pretense.

But I look at them and what they represent and I realize I am open to having a life like that again some day. I know some who have decided that marriage is no longer something they want. That they loved once and the loss broke their heart. And the mere thought of having their heart torn to shreds again is too much to bear. I can understand that, it is terrifying. And yet, I so loved being married. Sharing my life with someone. Having someone who knew you to your core and despite your eccentricities…loved all of you. And I look at those families and I think...that could be me again someday. Will be me again someday. It will be different. But it always is. But I look at those families and I realize that despite the shit sandwich life handed me, and David really, I would do it all over again. Because being in love. Having someone love you and sharing quiet moments together. Crazy moments together. Any moments together…are precious. It makes me think about what it means to be a family. And what family means to me. And for means everything.

I do not know what shape my family will become. But I know life has a miraculous way of working its magic. And despite all the heartbreak and loss that one experiences. Hope and love is always present as well. My life will take many turns. Life is one hell of a crazy fucking roller coaster. I am still on it and do not plan to get off any time soon. So, I’ll enjoy the highs when I have them, knowing that there will be lows as well. But I will take them all in stride. Knowing I can survive anything...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The rain cloud…

A friend recently told me that through the writings in my blog, she believes that I saw myself as a burden during those final months. She then reminded me that my true friends, the ones that had been there during those difficult and painful years did not feel burdened. They were glad to have been there for both of us. That when they were feeling so helpless, it helped them to be able to make a difference at a time when it felt like all hope was lost.

I had not ever stopped to truly think about that. But yes, I guess I did. Those days were so dark. And the days turned into months. We were all just trying to survive and I felt like this walking storm cloud that brought sorrow, pain and disconcertion with me.

I used to joke that I was the “Oh fuck girl” because whenever anyone heard my story or knew what my family was currently going through, they would look mortified and you know they were thinking…Oh fuck. Along with: Glad that’s not me, I couldn’t deal with that, or that just plain sucks. Or the ever popular…how do you do it?

I still think of myself as the “Oh fuck girl” sometimes. When people hear that I am a young widow, or that David died of brain cancer, or that I have a 4 year old son...I get that same look. They suck in a deep breath and stare at me wide eyed and you know what they are thinking. Oh fuck.

But, that meant a lot to me, especially from her. And it was probably something I needed to hear. I remember near the end and one of the last times David got out of the house, we went over to her place. I needed so desperately to get out. Get out of the house. Just get out. And I took Alec and David over there to unwind and play. It was a difficult day and by the end of that visit it was painfully obvious that David would not be physically able to do this much longer. I had a tough time getting him into her house and while we were there, he was distant and disconnected. It was hell.

Watching him. Knowing that somehow I was going to have to get him up and moving again and back out to the car. The impending dread and anxiety. And just wanting a quiet moment where I did not have to worry about anyone or anything. A moment to curl up into the fetal position and just be. But in those final months I did not get many of those, except when the boys were all down for the night.

But I remember that day. It is etched into my memory and it was interesting to hear how differently my friend remembered that very same day. How yes, it had been sad and heartbreaking. But how also she had just been glad to have been there. To give me a hand. Something to hold onto when I so desperately needed that. I was going under in those days. Barely surviving. Barely breathing. Barely living. Many moments I was mere seconds from exhaling one long, last breath and going under altogether. Everything stopping. No longer having to labor on.

But somehow I managed to keep my shit together. Keeping myself above water and ensuring that both Alec and David were safe and cared for. But it still brings tears to my eyes to know that through all those dark times, people were there for us. Because they loved us. Because they were our friends. Not out of some sense of duty as I so often felt like. No obligation. No burden. Just friendship. That, my friends, is one of the most precious things life has to offer. Love and friendship. If you have that, everything else is inconsequential….

The support surrounding us was amazing and I felt and still continue to feel some days like our whole situation was a burden. I was so damn independent. I hated asking for help. Knowing that without it I would possibly not be able to stay afloat frustrated the hell out of me. I felt like this enormous failure to have to lean on so many for support. I wanted to be able to stand proudly on my own. And yet, I did. I asked for help and accepted it. I knew that if I did not ask, I would go down. And if I went down, the whole family went down with me. I was their caregiver which meant I could never go down...not even for a moment. So, I swallowed my misplaced pride and reached out. And when I could not, friends invariably would swoop in periodically and miraculously take care of things that I was unaware or unable to ask for specifically. They just did it. They watched me like a hawk and made sure to take care of me when I was unable or too distracted to take care of myself. And through this all I made deeper connections with those friends. With myself.

I think I am finally realizing that they did all of this not out of some misplaced sense of obligation. Not a burden. Not a duty. They did it out of compassion, love and friendship. Even now I cry when I think about it. How selfless, caring and loving everyone was towards us. And how they continue to be now.

I still feel that sense of burden when I have dark times. When a moment takes me unawares and brings me to my knees. When I am sad. When I cry. I feel like a dark cloud again raining on everyone’s parade. And maybe someday I will learn to show the same compassion towards myself that everyone else has shown towards me?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Moving Forward...

It is difficult thing...moving forward. Terrifying some days. I think the vulnerability can be more acute, because you truly know what it means to have loved and lost. It is a complex and often delicate topic. Creating murky waters. Some will dip their toes in the water, testing them only to pull them out and sit on the shore for a bit longer. Others may choose to never get in again, preferring to dance on the shoreline alone. And some may go for a leisurely swim and then decide to take a break on the sand, basking in the sun on their own. While others will dive in head first, totally submerging themselves. There is no right or wrong way. Just the way we choose. Each of us will find it on our own and in our own time.

I think that opening yourself up once again takes great courage. You risk getting your heart broken. But that is always a risk, whether or not your beloved has died. You risk finding love again, only to lose it once more. You risk watching another lover die. You risk giving your heart to someone and then having them do a two step all over it. And yet, I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks. Because only if you truly open yourself up, can you ever truly experience love again. And for me, that cushions the fall a bit.

Not that you will ever have that same love again. You can’t. And it one of the damnable things to accept. But that is not to say that one cannot find hope again. Or love. Or passion.

I have found that some on this journey may try to replace their beloved. I think that is a difficult path. Your lover is gone and no matter how your heart breaks, they will never be coming back. They are gone and I do not believe you can ever truly fill that specific void again. Time and healing will help us to discover how not only to survive but to live. It will always be there, but hopefully the ragged torn edges will heal and we will be left with a more tender pain and quiet sadness. But something that is no longer all encompassing. It will become another tread on our heart. Not to diminish the pain and heartbreak we feel when we lose a loved one, our heart was torn apart and that kind of heartbreak is going to leave scars. And those scars will become a part of us, changing us as we carry them. Some days they may weigh us down. But our hearts will mend and beat strong. Thankfully our hearts seem to be made of stronger stuff than I ever imagined. They can be torn out of your chest, beaten and dragged around. Run over repeatedly. And yet it still beats. We continue to live despite that fact our heart seemed broken beyond recognition.

I believe one can never have that same love though, it is unattainable. You will never find that person again and for better or worse you are no longer that same person anymore either. That love you had is gone and can never be recreated. And yet, I do not think this means the end of all hope. It just means that if you choose to find love again, it will be different. It will always be different. But with that, you may discover new things about yourself that were hence undiscovered. And you can find joy once again. And hope. You can smile. Maybe your heart has the capacity to hold more love than you ever imagined. And that love might be just as amazing as the last, only different. Like different hues in a rainbow. You will find someone who will take your breath away. Someone that you can see yourself hopefully growing old with and when you look at their hands, you may imagine them spanning the years…becoming aged and wizened, but still clasping yours. You may look into the eyes of a new lover. Or friend. Or both. And you may see love and tenderness. Someone who can sooth your own aching heart. And you will discover a new love. A new life. And with it new dreams.

Some have said they do not want to find love again. They only want a partner, a friend, or a good father. That they found love once and that is enough. It is different for everyone. There is no right path. No map really. We are all just wandering along creating our own paths. For me, I want rockets. I want someone to take my breath away. To have that glorious feeling of butterflies in my stomach when he enters the room. And when he touches me I want my skin to be on fire. Some believe that you can find a lover, or a good father, or a friend. But not all at once. Call me crazy but I believe that is all possible in one man.

There is no perfection in love. I am far from perfect as was David. And I think it is so easy to canonize your dead spouse. Yes, you loved them and there will never be another person like them in this world, but they were not perfect. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. A wise friend once said most men would never be able to live up to a saint and some would not even try. Dave was no saint, but I could see what he meant when I went back and read some of my writings. We had a beautiful marriage. Our love was strong and we had a good run for longer than many. It is easy to remember all the amazing things about him, and with that I think in some ways I was canonizing him. Creating this person that was larger than life. But he wasn’t. He was all too human as his own mortality is evidence of. He had strengths and weaknesses. He had hopes and fears. He rose to the occasion, but it is not to say he did not stumble. But bloody hell, we all stumble.
He was an astounding person and my life will forever be better for having had him in it for the last 16 years. I hope to take all the beautiful things I learned from him and being with him in life…as I live. As I move forward.

So here we are. It is a painful lesson to learn but a priceless one as well. Life is too short and love is one of the most precious things this world has to offer…and I for one believe we should embrace that however fleeting or eternal it may be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It is a potty for cripe's sake!

It is that time. One of those milestones in your child’s life. Alec is potty training and doing phenomenal. He is a bit behind on the curve, but that is ok. Many children have regressions with the loss of a parent. Be it social, behavioral or cognitive. Sometimes they are subtle and sometimes they are earth shattering. But it affects them all, just as it does us.

Alec’s regression was the potty. He wanted to be little forever. To be taken care of. To feel safe. Can you blame him? His whole world was turned topsy turvy when David died. When Alec lost his dad, he learned way too young how incredibly fragile and precarious life can be. The rug was pulled out from him and he felt scared and fragile. Hell, we all did. And he just wanted to be taken care of…I can relate.

But as things have begun to settle, Alec is now embracing potty training. Seemingly ready to grow up a little. He now is excited about growing older. He is getting more confident every day and my heart fills with sunshine to see him doing so well.

Potty training is a momentous occasion but one that has stirred up some dark memories for myself. Cleaning Alec’s potty is way too reminiscent of that damn commode we used for David. It takes me back to those last five months and the dark roads we traveled together. How I had to assist him in so many of his daily tasks and how as the tumor progressed so his need for more and more assistance did as well. David often needed help dressing, as he would become confused with the arm and neck holes. And as things progressed, I had to dress him completely. He also needed help with eating, daily hygiene, bathing, and the bathroom as well. God how those were dark times. And god how I hated that fucking commode. Dave hated it to. I remember once how he just cried. He loathed that I had to help him. That he could not do the things that most people do every day without a second thought and how at the blink of an eye everything can change forever.

I loved him and would have done anything for him. It brings me peace that I was able to care for him; it is what you do when you love someone. You take care of them no matter how messy or painful it is. But it still sucked. It was still heartbreaking to see and it tore at my heart every day. During those dark days, I cried myself to sleep nightly. Every night. Week after week. Month after month. Time did not seem to exist. I slept little and my entire world, my entire focus was caring for both of the boys. It seemed like I was living one long hellish day that never ended. Although it may have been only five months, it felt like a lifetime. And now some of those damnable memories persist, roiling to the surface.

When I cleaned Alec’s potty for the first time, it hit me. The memories flooded over me with all the subtlety of a Mack truck, and I sat there and cried. All the crap from those final months swirled to the surface.

It is almost laughable how sad and fucked up things can be. How most parents doing the potty experience will doubtfully not have so much emotional crap tied up with what should be an ordinary event. It is a potty for cripes sake! He is peeing on the potty and I am crying in the bathroom! Seriously?! And as I sat there laughing and crying, I thought to myself, get your shit together girl! And I did. I came out and we laughed, clapped and did the potty dance. He got his sticker and the moment passed. Not to say that it still does not bring a little sadness every time I clean it, but I am finding each day is a bit easier than the last. We will be sitting on the big potty soon and this too will just become a memory. And maybe someday I will not have quite so many dark memories lurking near the edge of the surface. And maybe one day those memories will not carry with them the sharp pain of loss and heartbreak that they do now. One day they will just be that. Bittersweet memories of the life I once had and a man I once loved and shared my life with.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And maybe that is what true strength is?

What I would not give to be living a quiet life with David and Alec. Romping in the sunshine. Going on road trips with the tunes playing loud. Living the life I had imagined. But life is not always what you plan. I say that frequently, almost ad nauseum probably, but its true. I am learning that does not mean your life is over. It just means the life you originally envisioned is gone. But with each end there are new beginnings…

The dream of our life together is gone. Like grains of sand in my palm, one big gust came and scattered them into the wind. The life of us growing old together is a path that will forever go untraveled. We came to a crossroads and David got off. He got off way too damn early. And I am here.

I stopped ever so briefly at that crossroads, lying on the ground...curled in the fetal position. Wishing the pain would just end. I cried and cried until I felt there was no more tears left it me. And yet somehow there always were more and the tears would come again. My soul felt empty and I was spent and tired from the years of worry, caregiving and grief. I contemplated not moving forward. Not moving on. Just stopping. Everything. But that was a transient thought. That damn resilient nature of mine forced me up, picking my ass off the ground and shaking away the utter blackness that threatened to consume me. I stood and with no clue what the hell I should do or where I should go I began to blindly put one foot in front of the other. I picked a random direction, put my head down and barreled forward.

I find I am no longer running blindly anymore. It is more of an amble now. I am meandering along, no longer slumped with my head bowed against the winds that threatened to take me down. I am looking forward. Looking around. Checking out the scenery as I go. Finding new music. New friends. New adventures. New Dreams. Moving on…

Some days I feel like the energizer bunny. I just keep moving. People say I am strong, but often I think it is more that I am too damn stubborn to give up. It keeps me moving like it kept Dave moving. Dave could be one stubborn man. Mind you, that gave him immeasurable strength. And that coupled with his intense will to live made him a supreme fighter. And yet, as he began to decline, it was a bit to our detriment. It made caregiving quite a difficult task for me some days.

And I have come to realize that honestly I am just as stubborn as he was. Some people say I am tenacious. I think that is just a nice way of saying I am an obstinate pain in the ass, but that too has helped me I think. It has kept me moving forward despite the circumstances because there was no way I was going to let this take me down. That fucking tumor took Dave down, so I will be damned if I will let it take down the rest of my family as well. I know. It is a tumor, not a person…not a living entity. But sometimes it did not feel quite that way. The tumor seemed to take on a life of its own as it began to send those tendrils deeper into David’s brain, slowly taking his life. It would move around obstacles we placed in its path, almost laughing as it got a deeper hold into him. It was not just a mass of mutating cells. It became this beast we were all unsuccessfully trying to contain and tame. I know some brain tumor patients who went so far as to name them. We never did that, but we felt its presence in our life for the remainder of David’s days.

And now here I am. Writing about this journey…the journey I began with David and that I now continue alone. I am constantly astounded that people read this blog. Seriously. I never considered myself a writer. Albeit, after going back and reading the beginnings of this hellish nightmare in June 2006, I can clearly see my writing style has developed and progressed since those days. But often I do not know what I will say when I begin these posts. And invariably the post I originally intended to write does not get written once my fingers hit the keyboard. Everything rattling around in my head just seems to flow out when I sit down at my computer. This is my heart and soul that I pour out onto these pages. I open myself completely here for everyone to read; because ironically it is so much easier for me to do this here that when I am standing before you.

And yet some days I feel it is utter insanity that I can journal like this. Putting all my pain, hopes, fears, and insecurities out here for the world to see. I am touched that people have found hope and comfort in reading my words. This blog has helped sooth not only my aching heart, but has helped refocus my jumbled thoughts into some sort of cohesive structure.

In those first few months where time was meaningless and many sleepless nights were spent at this monitor, it was a place where I could channel all of my pain, fear and loneliness. And along the way I found people out there who were listening as well as others walking a similar path.

Many of you have helped me feel less alone on this dimly lit path I travel. So I thank those who have continued to stop by for a read, despite the dark roads my mind took me some nights. The listening without judgment and the unconditional support and love that has and continues to surround me is precious. The kind and gentle reminders that I will survive this and that although even to this day I do not always believe it…I am strong. Stronger than I will ever probably give myself credit for.

Some days I still feel fragile. Like my heart is made of glass and that at any moment it could burst into a thousand shards. And some days I feel as if acknowledging that vulnerability will somehow weaken me. I fear that if that were to happen, I might stumble and fall. I know there will be people to lift me up if I do, but I do hate to fall. It is messy, painful and I get all bruised and banged up.

I also think I fear people seeing that vulnerability. I have this crazy notion that somehow I have been keeping up this great farce and someday everyone is going to stop and say…”Hey, wait a minute. She’s not that strong. She is just as scared and fragile as the rest of us!” And I am, you know. I may have an inner strength inside me that burns brightly, but I too am fragile. Sometimes just needing strong arms to wrap around me, sheltering me from the storm once in awhile.

I keep my head held high. I keep moving. But that is not to say I still do not hurt or mourn. It is just my damnable nature to keep moving. Keep dreaming. Keep fighting. Some days I used to think it would have been so much easier to give up, but that goes against everything I am. So I trudged on.

But I find I am more at peace these days. I am embracing more quiet moments of just being. Life is full of more smiles. More laughter. More hope. A future. I am finding my way and learning more about myself everyday…and that is something. And maybe that is what true strength is?