I Waited 30 Years for Deep and Loyal Love

I did, I waited 30 years and I kissed a lot of toads and married a couple too.

This morning a friend sent me a text and it touched my heart because she has known me for that same amount of time and she really liked Larry.

This is what she wrote:

Just finished your wonderful book. Most people in life will never experience the love you had with Larry, may his memories warm your heart and lead you through. I am so proud of you. I love you and please keep writing.

Here I am writing and yes, there are more books. What she doesn’t know, what most people do not know is that it was 2 years ago today that I honored Larry’s advanced directives and had him removed from the ventilator and moved to hospice.

In the greater scheme of things, I don’t know if the day he stroked was the worst day of my life or if going with him to hospice was. We had carried hope in our hearts for 10 days and removing him from the ventilator meant all hope was gone.

I wrote in my book about those 30 years I looked for deep and abiding loyal love.

Chapter 24 is titled “Superlove” and begins with this quote:

“And then my soul saw you and it kind of went, ‘Oh, there

you are. I’ve been looking all over for you.’ ”

Unknown

To explain it I am sharing part of that chapter here today to honor Larry and the depth of his love for me.

When we met, I was intrigued. I liked him. I could tell he was one of the good guys, white hat, white bandana, and a white horse. However, a spark was missing.

The truth is that I wasn’t allowing the spark to light the fire that would result in smoldering embers of true love because along the way I had been damaged enough to believe I did not deserve what was standing right in front of me.

I was broken. I felt unworthy.

Then one day it hit me that Larry was everything I had been looking for in a life partner. I had asked God to send me the gift of a man I could rely on, a man I could trust with my heart, a man who would always take care of me, and there he was.

I had been having problems making the leap from hoping I would find someone to believing I had found someone. I had a duel going on inside my heart and my head between the words hope and faith.

I had been hoping all those years, and hoping led me right to Larry. I almost did not see that hope and become faith until I heard my therapist’s words from five years ago. That was the kick in the ass I needed.

Hope when you reduce it down to its simplest definition is a feeling of expectation. We all say that we hope something will happen.

Faith, though, is different; it is belief and trust that it will happen.

There is a difference. Once I learned it, I could see how it physically manifested itself in my life. Hope would make me think Oh please, oh please, oh please, and I could see myself popping a sweat. Faith is a way of believing that something can happen in the future.

Faith whispered in my ear, It is here now. Faith gives you relief because you realize everything happened just the way you had hoped. Faith cannot exist without hope.

I had hoped for years that a man of Larry’s caliber would fall into my life, and through the miracle of technology and online dating services, it all came together.

Thirty years. It took 30 years, and we only had 20 years to explore every nuance of what made us both so special to each other.

Thirty years of mistakes.

Thirty years of unhappiness.

Thirty years of loneliness.

Thirty years of tears.

I was done, despite those who wanted to make me all undone for one night, or one week, and leave me in a crumpled mess on the floor.

My energy was gone, spent by those who did not want to stay, and just when I felt used up, the man I called a beast found me. He was captivated, mystified, and intrigued, as if I were the finest wine he had ever brought to his lips and had until now, never tasted.

He got down on the floor with me. All the love he had longed for encircled him like a ring of fire, and eventually that ring of fire surrounded me, and we could see forever in each other’s eyes.

Loving each other was better than anything or anyone who had come before. His forever ended, leaving me to lie on the floor where the rings of fire had once burned extinguished by my tears.

My beloved husband, Lawrence F. Sanek.

5/14/46—3/3/19 he lived his dash very well.

As I read these words today I know in my heart he was worth waiting for, and we had 20+ wonderful years and I am so grateful he loved me. I am so grateful we found each other. I miss him with every beat of my heart and I love him more than ever with every day.

Thank you for reading this today.

Often
Fractured Pieces

2 Years Feel Like 20

2 years feel like 20 is where I am when I travel back in time to 2019. Why does it feel like 20? Why? Why? Why?

How can it be this long already?

Just the other day I put a post on “Mourning Thoughts” my new daily thoughts about grief and not just the grief from a husband or wife dying. There are many other reasons people grieve and I wrote about those reasons for a magazine this month that can be found here soon: http://www.brainzmagazine.com/

I am also working on the outline for the next book and most of it has already been written. It will be tedious at first for me to work on because I have to go back through 2 years of morning posts I wrote on Facebook and organize them into a book about strength.

A friend suggested it recently and I smiled because I already had the idea and it will be implemented soon.

2 years. 2 years ago doctors were not being honest with us. They were telling us he was making improvements. They built our hopes up daily until one day they just signed off his case without saying a GD word to me. They walked off and explained nothing. I hated them then, I still hate what they did to this day.

When I talk about moving from Florida to SC I say it was due to all the memories. That is not 100% true. It is also because I couldn’t stand to see TV ads for that hospital. I couldn’t stand to drive past that hospital. I changed doctors because my doctor’s office was across the street from that hospital.

4 years ago a surgical error changed Larry’s heart and his life. I am glad I left Tampa.

My wonderful loving husband’s life was changed and shortened and the surgeon who made the mistake admitted it to me. He whispered it in my ear that he was to blame after he repaired the mistake.

Yes, 2 years feels like 20.

Your Own Best Friend

One of the most difficult things I have found here in the wilderness of my grief is when a grief bomb explodes and scatters shards of desperation in every direction.

There is nowhere to hide, nowhere to take cover and no warning that this is about to happen, it just happens.

When Larry first died I changed my Facebook settings to disallow memories to show up because those photos are always going to cause a cascade of reactions that no one can just wish away.

No, we are hit with them and many times we feel we have nowhere to turn for help. It is so difficult to call a friend or family member (again) and ask them to listen to what just happened.

It is a conundrum.

Our friends and family may not even pick up the phone because we may have tired them out. In my world, I don’t want to bother anyone. Sharing my emotional pain may make me feel better but I just made someone else feel frustrated.

This is when we need to become our own best friends. You can do it, I have done it.

When the bomb explodes concentrate on your breathing and slow it down. Follow this with affirmative statements about how far you have come. I tell myself “Carole, you’ve got this.” It works almost all the time.

I was interviewed for a podcast show today and the topic of dogs came up in our discussion and the host could hear the tears in my voice as I spoke about the day I took my precious little Willie to the vet clinic knowing I would be coming home alone. There are so many photos of her on my phone, on social media, and in frames throughout my home. Some people would think it is just a dog, but no. Willie was the last anchor to Larry. She was my adorable little Bichon with one eye. My heart is still broken over her death.

Grief is the opposite of love so yes seeing photos of her always hurt and probably always will.

I look at her photos and remind myself how much she was loved and she knew it. Then I tell myself she is sitting on Larry’s lap and they are eating ice cream together just like they always did, and I smile.

With this pandemic we are called upon even more to be our own best friends. It is not easy, I know, but we can do it.

IS THAT YOUR HUSBAND?

Is that your husband? I looked down at the phone in my hand and looked back at my new dentist and my face crumbled behind my mask. She was immediately cognizant of the fact that his handsome face was a memory for me now and as the tears started to fall from my eyes, her face crumbled too.

Soon we were both standing there with tears on our cheeks as she asked me his name.

I bit my lip to stop it from quivering and I tried to smile behind my mask and as I took a deep breath, she put her hand on my arm and the story spilled out along with more tears.

This is how grief sneaks up on us with no warning. This is why I advised readers of my book to share their grief with our doctors and dentists as well as other professionals. We deserve to have people speak kindlier and it really is okay to share our feelings – it is a self-protective maneuver.

Is that your husband? Yes, and he loved me more than he loved any other. I was the last and greatest love of his life. His name is Larry, and he will always be the love of my life.

Is that your husband? Yes, it is and the love of my life.

No Blue Christmas This Year

There is absolutely no blue Christmas this year in my home. I doubt it if there will ever be a blue Christmas and I say that unequivocally because of ALL the progress I made since last Christmas.

I have been reading some articles on grief, and one sticks out like a sore thumb. It is a topic I wrote about in “Fractured-Living with Grief” and it showed up again not only as an article in a blog I follow but also a perfect example landed in my life when I wasn’t looking.

I can describe it in 2 words “grief bullies”.

To be honest, I have not had to deal with a grief bully in over a year until recently. In my case I know that the incident in my life is due to the person not understanding grief at all.

Losing the love of your life is something only other widows and widowers can truly understand but don’t clothe it in telling me that you are concerned about my loneliness.

First and foremost, I don’t mind being alone. Next get unstuck from over a year ago and realize who I was then and who I am now are two different people. Being alone and being lonely are two distinctly different things.

When I actually made the decision to move to South Carolina I had many moments of stressful occurrences. However, I was ready to do this. My heart was ready, my head was ready and I am just fine 99% of the time. I found that out when I created my Thanksgiving Day/birthday meal. BAM just like that I faced a holiday that a year ago was filled with pain because this time around I had completed the PTSD therapy that had vanquished the trauma.

I have skated through the Christmas season with all the decorations I still have from our marriage, with the favorite scented candles, with a beautiful tree and I mailed Christmas cards. Let’s not forget I have music on all the time and it lifts me up.

Just because I voiced some concern before turkey day is no reason to think I couldn’t make it through. I MADE IT THROUGH. All is well in my house, in my head, in my heart and in my life.

Has that grief bully ever asked me how I am really doing this year, in a word, NO. My biggest mistake was ever sharing a momentary fear. Lesson learned.

One more thing I want to say this Christmas Eve – it is never okay to criticize anyone who is grieving. Ever.

#AuthoronFire

 

I am an #authoronfire. I realized this yesterday when a friend posted something that lit the fire in my heart.

This is what she wrote: There is a lot being said about 2020. While we have witnessed, and maybe even personally experienced, traumatic situations, we are still here… still here.

I don’t know about how that feels for you, but it humbles me and strengthens my resolve to take all self-imposed limitations off of my life.

Without ignoring pain, sadness and suffering, I also recognize healing, joy and prosperity.

What are you going to do with the life you have? Thank you LaFern Kitt Batie.

Well, for me it was a simple answer. I am going to rock 2021 because I can and I will.

This week due to the necessity of being home to have workers in my house I am going to throw some energy at my vision board for 2021.

Larry always admired my ability to look into my future, our futures, and plan and dream for it all.

That ability did not end because he died,it got better, it got bigger, it grew to enormous heights.

My sadness will always be here. Grief doesn’t end. I will miss Larry until I am no longer here, but while I am here I will honor his beliefs in me.

He had my back. He still does.

I am an #authoronfire.

Dammit it Grief, it’s Christmas

Dammit grief, it’s Christmas go somewhere else. Stop showing up as if you are the ghost of Christmas past and bringing with you a carousel of memories. Be gone. It’s Christmas.

Maybe it showed up because I wrote that piece about not liking turkey. Oh well, I don’t like turkey. I am good with saying that, and while Larry loved it to the point of filling a freezer with leftovers, I do not miss seeing those containers that he would enjoy thawing to eat turkey and stuffing as long as he could.

I spent the weekend after Thanksgiving bringing Christmas into my new home. In anger and sadness I had sold so much of our decorations knowing I would never use them again. I kept the beautiful collection of Santa’s, the ornaments that meant the most to me, and the gnomes we bought on one of our holiday trips to Las Vegas.

I put the new tree up, and only shed some tears when I hung the ornaments we collected for our dogs. The tree was sparsely decorated so I added the antique ornaments from my parents, and then I opened the box of turquoise and gold ornaments from our bedroom tree. I separated out the gold from the turquoise and used the gold ones as filler for the empty spots. I look at my tree now and see it is a combination of what Larry and I collected, my parents, and our beautiful master bedroom tree. It is all good.

Christmas music fills the house, I light Larry’s favorite candles (he picked them all out) and I am happy with everything I see. While it is different from 21 years of decorating, it is all that I need at this time.

I sat with a glass of wine, a Christmas movie on the TV and that is when it happened. That is when grief blew in extinguishing the beauty of everything I had been enjoying. While I was sitting there I heard a car door close and for one damn moment I thought Larry was home.

Dammit grief go away.

Sometimes I just sit unable to move…

Yes, sometimes I just sit, unable to move. I sit in the living room and watch the water birds come to feed at the pond.

Other times I sit at my desk and just stare at my computer.

Words that used to come easily are difficult to find now.

Sometimes I just sit, unable to move.

I open the cards that have come in the mail. I sit there frozen while reading the kind words. Tears slide down my cheeks and fall on to my chest. I set them aside and let the tears slide.

I don’t get hungry often, but I know I need to eat. It is so difficult to make a meal without dancing around Willie, who is hoping something falls to the floor.

Sometimes I just sit, unable to move.

I want to move; I want to do the things I always did; I want the plans to keep moving forward, and then I remember I am alone. My partner, my best friend, my anchor in life is gone. Maybe she thought I was ready to handle my future on my own, but I don’t think I am.

SO:

Many times I just sit, unable to move.

A real blessing, a true unconditional love giver, my girl, my Willie.

Worth Their Weight in Gold

The Importance of surrounding yourself with exceptional people is priceless.  In all the reading I have done in grief groups, grief articles, grief books and more, the one thing that stands out with the brightest light, is the advice people give that you will need to make some changes in whom you allow in from that point forward.

As I look back on the time since my great guy left this earth there was an immediate letting go of some people I knew who showed their collective asses.  They did things that were absolutely disgusting either to me emotionally through social media, or horrors done in public in a place where people stared.

It isn’t easy to let go of people; I know this, but when what they have to say is abusive, it’s a lot easier.

You can do it.

You actually will feel better when they are gone.

They are not your friends because your friends would never treat you that way.

Dump them, okay let them go easily, whatever just do it.

You will see those who love you, those who are loyal to your friendship, those who want to help you, they don’t leave.  As time goes by, they may not show up as often, but believe me they are still there.

Three of my newest friends are women I found friendship with two different ways.  One is a younger widow whose name was sent to me by mutual friends.  The other two I found in a grief group online and the connection is tight.

They also understand what grief is, what it does to us, and they will reach out when you need them to do that.

Then there are the new friends who will seek you out because they have warm hearts, and they want to be part of your growing circle.  Once you delete the bad ones the wonderful ones have more room and they will show up.

I promise.

Over the past several weeks a recent friend showed up, and she gave me vital legal information I needed to deal with a situation I needed help with, and I call her an emotional lifesaver to me right now.

Then a social media friend helped me greatly by asking her father, who is a very well-known veterinarian, give me a 2nd opinion for my sweet dog, and this brought me great relief.

I love my family; however, they live 2 days away and I don’t burden them with my grief.  Good and loyal friends do not mind being burdened by it and they will stick it out.

They are worth their weight in gold.

The best thing that will happen is that you move forward.  You will find yourself feeling better.  You will mourn, you will grieve, but you also will have a tremendous support system that you did not have before.

I have read your feelings about friends and family who ignore you.  I have read your sad words.  I have read about your loneliness and I promise you it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Take action.  Do the work.  Make the changes and do not feel guilty.  Letting go of people who are mistreating you is a marvellous thing, and they may not even realize it unless you tell them.

I have told people that I need to move forward from them because they have already moved forward from me.  Believe me, they won’t care.

One more time, the new friends you make and those who stick it out with you are worth their weight in gold.  You will be so emotionally wealthy.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Yes, I threw down the gauntlet metaphorically on Wednesday, even if the people in the world of definition say it isn’t used metaphorically.

Wednesday would have been our 20th wedding anniversary, and this year I planned to be in control of this special day.

I told friends it was okay to wish me a Happy Anniversary because in saying it they were acknowledging the love Larry and I shared.

I made a therapy appointment the week before and the two of us worked hard using EMDR to help me cushion the trauma in my brain about this day.

This explains what EMDR is:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories.

I had already done some somatic experience work in New Mexico. I was taught in therapy there to use the memory of the happiest day of my life, which was our wedding day, to calm me and restore balance whenever triggered with a lot of grief.

This past Wednesday had moments of having tears in my eyes and many more moments of total joy remembering the love, the happiness, the fun of that day.

Last year was horrid. I refused to have that happen again.

It didn’t.

My grief therapist told me that my resilience shines through because I have become my own grief expert. She is correct. I get online, I research, I read stories, and I celebrate my strength.

I also grieve. I will grieve Larry’s death for the rest of my life. Grief doesn’t end. I just live happier, I live in gratitude for being so loved, and I know how proud Larry would be right now if he could peek down and see me. Maybe he can, maybe he is.

The look of love.