33 Days

33 days. The other day it came to me. It has been 3 years and I don’t know why it took so long to hit my brain cells. Maybe my brain was protecting me from really thinking about everything that happened over 33 days. The trauma centers of our brains are capable of protecting us.

Our brains are forever physically shaped by our loved one according author, psychologist and neuroscientist Mary-Francis O’Connor.

When I read what she has to say about that fact I had an overwhelming wave of relief flood over me. She gets me, she really gets me. Then she wrote “We interpret what we see, how we act, and our capacity to love, because our brain carries them forever.”

This explains why I find answers to something I was certain I did not know, yet I realize now I do know it because my brain carries him and will carry him forever. What a beautiful discovery, but those damn 33 days.

As I write this I am on day 26 of the 33 days. The therapy I had for PTSD worked well to get me to a point where I didn’t collapse in hysterical crying any longer just thinking about how my life fell apart. However it also kept me from really feeling anything past the night of 2/19 until this year.

I truly dislike these 33 days however I also truly need them in my life and I need to remember them because I want to remember them.

On the 19th day of every month I have always been taken back to what happened in February. Then at 6:35pm I would always feel better. The trauma of it all had moved from the horror I had of what had happened and crossed over into knowing there was nothing I could have done to save his life.

As the months went by there were times when I didn’t realize it was the 19th. Eventually the trauma of 6:35pm eased off and at this point it only holds emotional significance in February.

Grief is sneaky though. It has partnered up with me for the rest of my life. It tricks me into believing things are getting better and then it rides in like a rodeo rider, ropes me and knocks me to the ground.

This year I spent time thinking about how maddening it had to be for my husband to hear us talking, to hear the doctors talking, to knowing this time he wasn’t going to catch the miracle of living on that he had caught before.

He responded to us, we could bring him out of his comatose state and he would do what he was asked to do, but he couldn’t open his eyes, he couldn’t move his body other than his hands and one arm.

I know he had to be in great emotional pain because he didn’t want to leave me yet. We were that couple, we made other people happy, we danced through our marriage and never got tired.

He had 10 days on machines keeping his organs going and then we knew we had to make the decision to honor his wishes and remove him from artificial means and move him to hospice. 3 days later he died.

The next 20 days for me were like living inside a different dimension. I do not remember much at all. I was alone. Oh, friends stopped by but I was alone even when they were there.

There was so much to do legally in closing down his business, there was so much to do with our property, with life insurance, with the house, with the yard and I couldn’t eat. Eating was something we did as a couple, every night was a date night. It has taken me 3 years to sit down at my table and eat dinner. He had his stroke and died as we knew him right after dinner.

33 days comes to an end for me on 3/23.

On day 33, I fed Willie and Corky our two remaining dogs, and let them out into the back yard. Corky found a sun spot and laid down in it and we always allowed him to stay there as long as he wanted to feel the warmth.

When he got up he didn’t head for the door, he was confused, and I had to go turn him around. He ambled into the house and laid down in the middle of my kitchen floor and just shook like a leaf. I fell apart because I knew then he wanted to go be with his man, his master.

My heart broke all over again. Corky adored Larry and Larry returned the love.

It was a Saturday, I called my vet and she agreed to meet us at the office to help this sweet dog go home. Corky went home at 635pm I don’t see that as a coincidence.

In closing, yes I have 33 days of emotional hell to go through every year. I have cried a lot this time around. 33 fucking days.

Corky forever in my heart.

Day #1096

How can that be? How can 1096 days have passed since I began to write my thoughts every single day since I held you in my arms and prevented you from falling as you lost consciousness?

Every day I wrote my thoughts until Day #143. That was my last numbered day because 143 was very special to both of us. 143 is short for I Love You. We used that a lot back and forth in emails, texts, and inside greeting cards.

The last time I used it was to write 143 is no longer a working number. Then I changed my daily journaling on FB to begin with the words “morning thoughts”.

It’s now 3 years and how can that be? My heart doesn’t want to accept it, my gut tells me it is real, my head is in a fog, and my soul is filled with grief today.

I actually hold myself together really well now. Time has eased the amount of grief I have because life has moved forward. I am in a much better place at this time in my life. I like the town I chose to live in when I decided to leave Florida and all those loving memories behind. I have new friends. I take ballet lessons. I joined a book club. I go out by myself to a bar/restaurant where the bartender knows my name.

I have tried dating and there were some actual disasters and there were some fun times but there was no magic.

I decided to write a post for social media and I am copying it here because it really describes where I am now.

Sometimes people do the dumbest things at the worst possible time. I thought I had a blossoming relationship, I was wrong. I can see the differences (now) and I do understand it takes two people to make or break anything.

My outspoken opinions were not appreciated, and his lack of self-worth interfered. I will say this – dating at our ages is not for the weak. We are so set in our ways and/or we also carry wounds from the past starting with a parent who put their issues on us. I know, I had therapy to move through mine.

Here I am miles away from those I care about and tomorrow I will wake up to remembering the last day Larry and I spent together on this earth. I have come so far. I know this. I don’t need people to tell me I have. I see it, there is a vast difference in the Carole of 18 months ago and the Carole I am now.

I have new boundaries, and some were put in place today. I have new direction. I am heading into two new career opportunities one in film the other in working with a device app. I understand I am always learning, always using what I learned to take it to new levels and I know in a world where most men are retired, I am a bit much.

Yet I also know if Larry were still here he would be in his office doing just what I am doing – learning, expanding horizons, and being productive. Maybe our match was once in a lifetime, maybe I was only meant to have an equal partner one time.

I told a friend today who called to check on me I am starting to get curious about taking a road trip with Rosie. Just the two of us exploring and writing about it. I couldn’t have done that a year ago, I can now.It is okay to do these things with Rosie as my sidekick.

Honest to goodness if I wait to partner up with someone we might be doing it in wheel chairs. I can/will do this.

Somewhere out there is a man who appreciates a smart woman who drinks good Bourbon.

Thanks readers Larry would be very proud.

One last thing – I do still wish with all my heart he would walk through the door any minute.

TWAS SEVERAL DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS

It actually was 3 days before Christmas and for the first time since Larry passed away I had inner peace with the holiday.

I had “made it” through Thanksgiving and my birthday and those were the most important for me to move through. I did it with the help of several friends. When December arrived I knew I was ready to open the bins in my garage and bring out the holiday decor.

We all have our own ways to grieve, we all have things that trigger memories and tears, and in my world I cannot decorate my tree with ornaments we had collected for 20+ years.

For years I had put a tree up in our bedroom. Larry called it my fancy tree because it was butterflies, and glittery gold ornaments, shiny turquoise balls, and yes, it is fancy. It is in my living room now, a perfect chick tree and I like it a lot.

I have no problem with the table top decor we had together, it is just the ornaments we collected, and the special ornaments for our 3 dogs who all sit at Larry’s feet in heaven.

Music fills my house too. I choose wisely as there are just some groups I cannot listen to, and probably never will hear again. I stick to smooth jazz musicians and Johnny Mathis.

All of this is okay. We all grieve in different ways. There are no rules. Follow your heart, it won’t steer you wrong. Only do what feels right in your gut. Follow your gut, it won’t lie to you.

I am blessed with a huge amount of supportive friends. My phone rings all the time, and this is where I am going to state you get back what you put out there. I have created a friendship base of loyal friends. These are people who would never take a swipe at me. True friends do not do that and I am surrounded by true friends.

Friendships often change when grief walks in the door. I had it happen to me several times however in moving forward from people who just are born mean made such a difference.

Twas several days before Christmas and I am blessed. I have inner peace. I will be alone on Christmas Day and it doesn’t bother me at all. I am even making a big dinner for 1 person-me. Rosie will benefit from it and as I look back over the past 14 months I can say with certainty moving to the Upstate of South Carolina was a very good decision.

Not this year Grief Bully.

A Region in Hell

We have all been weaving our way through the wilderness of brambles and branches that have caused us to isolate and wrap ourselves in blankets of greyness due to the potential for a known virus to not only invade our lives but to possibly take our lives away from us.

We have spent over a year trying to navigate our way out of this wilderness and in all the writing I have done, all the talking I have done, all the help I have given others I have reached a point where I need help in return. It is not to say people have not supported me, that people have not reached out, because they have. I have Covid depressing days and these days punch me in the gut.

Loneliness is as hell AF. When I read an article this morning from one of my favorite grief writers, Megan Devine, it struck such a resonating chord in me.  I knew I would sit down and write my feelings because I do not think many people truly see me.

Devine wrote “Loneliness is its own special region of hell, and being single – by choice or by circumstance – is tough in a coupled-up, locked-down world.”

I have had days of absolute despair wondering why I am still here without my loving husband at my side. It wasn’t supposed to be over yet. We had plans, years of plans.

I have to cheer myself up every day. I have to remind myself I am here for a reason, and then I look at the photo of us hanging on my bedroom wall and I curse at it because I no longer live in a coupled-up world.

I have never been this lonely without someone who cared about me for this long and Devine is right, this is a very special region of hell.

In complete honesty I need to spend time with my son, in my house, no distractions of his responsibilities. I need to see him and take care of him as much as I want him to take care of me.

The audacity of grief. The fucking audacity of grief to come into my world and turn it upside down and inside out and then slap me across the face with a pandemic. Oh, I know there are other people who feel the same way, however for one moment in time I am only writing about me.

Every single one of us needs other people. I have said that out loud hoping that my words would carry across time and space and come to rest into the part of our brains that give us that moment when we realize “Carole needs me.”

I won’t apologize for sharing my feelings to anyone, I own them, and there are a handful of friends who do understand, who do reach out to me, who do virtually take care of me.

This is how grief works and I wish to heaven I wasn’t it’s victim.

What Are the Chances?



Really, what are the chances?

I am sitting here in my office, and the TV is on and Kelly Clarkson’s talk show starts up and her only guest is Garth Brooks.

What are the chances I would turn the TV on at that moment and that the first two songs Garth would sing are “The Dance” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes”?

Earlier today I published an article on medium.com that I titled “The Sounds of Music”. In this article I wrote about how music has really helped me in life and how I finally had the courage to listen to songs that were songs from our marriage and our love.

What are the chances that Garth would sing 2 songs that have honor the depth of my grief with “The Dance” and then the song that brought Larry to tears every time he heard it? Larry would look at me and ask me that question. My answer was always the same. I told him I would know every day for the rest of my life how much he loved me if tomorrow never comes. If that is bad grammar, oh well.

Larry’s tomorrows stopped and all I need to do is look at the photo on the back cover of my book to see how much he loved me.

Then I think back to filling out the form to join an online dating site 22 years ago – I mean what were the chances that my answers would touch the heart of a man who would tell me “Forever’s As Far As I’ll Go” and mean it.

By the way, I listened to Garth and I wrote this article too without tears. You see I find joy in the memories of the love.

If you want to read my article on medium.com here is the link:

https://carolesanek.medium.com/the-sounds-of-music-17211c0fe179

#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.

Paying it Forward for December

Hello!

I am letting everyone know right here, right now that if you ordered a book in my pre-sale event last month or if you order one now through 12/14/2020 and you think you know someone who would or could benefit from reading it I will send them a digital copy of it on 12/28/2020.

I have an army of supporters who have ordered telling me they know others who should have a copy.

To do this all you have to do is send me an email to carolelsanek@fractured.life and include their email address (with their permission to receive a copy, please). I will be sending out emails to those who have already ordered it.

I am doing this to pay it forward from you and from me. My book is so important to me because my goal in writing it was to help others, but I couldn’t write it without including the love story that still lives on.

Thank you all so much.

My Heart is Crushed

Yes, my heart is crushed. I fall in and out of tears. My face is a mess. My eyelids are swollen, I cannot eat, I sleep fitfully and I have heart pain.

I keep asking why I am being tested. What have I done to deserve to have all this trauma again, all this pain?

My heart hurts. It is heavy in my chest. I have a lump in my throat and breathing is difficult.

Darling little Willie the one-eyed wonder dog left this world Sunday morning at 10:10AM and with her last breath my wilderness, that shitty wilderness of grief, opened up again. It thrust me to the very beginning of darkness, sharp edges, rough rocks tearing at my soul and scraping the skin off my body. I tried to wrap myself up and protect myself from the searing pain, but it took me to my knees and it is so much harder to get up this time.

The sweet angel I rescued almost 10 years ago had liver failure. There was no saving her, no treating her, there was nothing that anyone could do. I am devastated.

I don’t know how to pull myself up again. I don’t think I have the energy.

Darling Willie.

Fractured – Chapter 6

My goal is to send my manuscript to my writing coach by the end of this week at the latest (so if you are reading this months after May of 2020 and holding a copy of my book welcome).

I have braided my story by writing from the life of grieving and then going back in time and adding stories of our love.

I have been asked how I wrote a book. Well, I started with a list of ideas I wanted to include on my white board. Many of these turned into titles of chapters. Then I wrote an outline of my story with the chapter titles.

I divided the book into 3 parts and it is 24 chapters long with a Prologue, Epilogue and a letter to Larry my coach asked me to include.

As I stitched it all together over the past week, I knew there was one chapter that still needed a story from our past. I knew what that story was about, after all I wrote the outline of ideas.

It was absolutely the most difficult story to write, and that is why I kept putting it off. However, the rubber was meeting the road and heading to the finish line and today I wrote it with tears falling down my cheeks and onto my chest. I cried all the way through it as I knew I would.

It was the one and only time I saw Larry fall to pieces and physically fall to the floor in pain. I had never seen him like this before and I truly never wanted to see it again.

This is part of a paragraph I wrote yesterday in the story I knew I would write in time:

My husband, the man who took no prisoners in business, the man who took down gang members fighting at his nightclub, the man whose voice when raised scared many people, that man collapsed with the agony of having his dog die in his arms.  That man could not stop crying.  That man couldn’t get to his feet because he was grieving so deeply……..

It was at that moment I knew why I loved this man so much and this is where I was after writing it:

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