Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking My Grief To Russia

Leaving tomorrow for my trip to Russia with a good woman friend.  I'm not one of those folks who stay in touch when away so might not be any posts for a while.  I hope to come back on March 2nd miraculously changed for the better.  If not...will keep on trying to solve the riddle of living life to the fullest while full up with grief. 

If you are interested in following along - here is my itinerary.  I wish you all love and amazing and unexpected discoveries while I am gone.  xo


FEBRUARY 17 – MARCH 1, 2011

Arrive St. Petersburg, Russia

Welcome to Russia! Today you arrive in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg remains Russia’s most European city. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, it was built on an impressive scale with luxurious palaces, and grand boulevards in symmetric orderliness. Created on an island in the Neva River, the river splits the city into three sections. The southern side extends from the Winter Palace and the Admiralty with the Nevsky Prospect being its most famous thoroughfare. The northern side includes many fine buildings and a cluster of delta islands on whose southern end the city originally began. The eastern side stretches along the northern bank of the Neva River.

Dating from 1824, the Grand Hotel Europe on Nevsky Prospekt, is indisputably Russia’s pre-eminent hotel. The hotel is a relic of the Imperial past with its Baroque façade and art nouveau interiors making it a rare rich treat for its guests. A variety of restaurants range from the very finest in Russian cuisine to international gourmet cuisine.

This evening you have a dinner reservation at Noble Assembly Restaurant (this is a 5 minute walk from the hotel) Arts Square, Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa 2/9 Telephone : +7 812 956 7431

Noble Assembly Restaurant is situated in the historical building of the Grand Philharmonic Hall. The restaurant serves the best of authentic Russian cuisine such as Borsch and Solyanka. Immerse yourself in the aristocratic ambience of the 19th Century St. Petersburg, while enjoying the finest dining the city has to offer. The impeccable service will also add to your truly unforgettable dining and music experiences at the Grand Philharmonic Hall.

Grand Hotel Europe ( Faberge Suite)


St. Petersburg

Today travel with your private vehicle and guide to the Hermitage museum, it is situated in the lavishly decorated Winter Palace and occupies six magnificent buildings with three million pieces of artwork from the Stone Age to modern times. The main building and largest part of the museum is the rococo-style Winter Palace, residence of the Czars from 1762 to 1917. The museum was commissioned by Catherine the Great and she and her successors built the Hermitage collection in large part with purchases of the private collections of the Western European aristocracy and monarchy.

After lunch at leisure visit the Yusupov Palace, which belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov, who organized the assassination of the infamous Siberian monk Gregory Rasputin. Also visit the room where the assassination took place.

Next visit on of the city’s attractions the Imperial Opera Theatre called Mariinsky in honour of Maria Fedorovna, the wife of Emperor Alexander II. Built by architect Cavos in 1859-1860, it was inaugurated in 1860. Today the Mariinsky Theatre is one of the most beautiful in the world, famous for its renowned performers such as Marius Petipa, Matilda Kshesinskaya, Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nyreev, Michael Barishnikov, Fyodor Shalyapin and others. The theatre has witnessed the triumphs of several generations of opera and ballet stars. You will visit the usually unseen areas of the theatre including backstage, wardrobe and the roof where the decorations are made before being transferred back to your hotel.

Tonight you have a dinner reservation at Demidov Restaurant. Fontanka River embankment, 14 Telephone: +7 812 272 9181.

The Demidov Restaurant is situated in one of the most beautiful places of old St. Petersburg in the Fontanka River embankment in front of the St. Michael’s Castle. Three halls of the restaurant boast the cosy and stylish interior. The antique porcelain working fireplace, the engravings with the views of old St. Petersburg make the classical interior of the White Hall unbelievably beautiful. Almost unique is the Russian Vaulted Hall with painted walls and the ceiling. Besides, there is a separate Oval Cabinet with the antique clock. The menu is based on the old Russian recipes in the best traditions of Russia of the time of Peter the Great. There are dishes that were served up to the famous Russian Princes, the Demidovs, the Sheremetievs, the Menshikovs.

In the evenings the Demidov Restaurant provides a Russian or Gipsy romance show or classical music. As well there is a theatrical fancy-dress show organized in the style of imperial palace festivals of the 18th century with such characters as Peter the Great and Catherine II.

Grand Hotel Europe B


St. Petersburg

Today travel with your private vehicle and guide outside the city to visit Tsarskoe Selo (renamed Pushkin in 1937 to commemorate the centenary of the famous Russian poet’s death). You may visit the summer palace, created for Catherine I, expanded and redesigned for Empress Elizabeth and remodeled again for Catherine the Great. The baroque Catherine Palace, whose exterior features golden domes and blue and white façade moldings, suffered extensive wartime damage, but is today a masterpiece of restoration thanks to the reinstatement of the world famous amber room that enhances the interior that gleams and glitters with mirrors, chandeliers and gilded wood carvings.

Afterwards travel to Pavlovsk. The Great Palace at Pavlovsk, a gift from Catherine the Great to her son Paul. Originally designed by Charles Cameron, it was partly redesigned at Paul’s request by several famous European architects including Quarenghi and Rossi. Although severely damaged in World War II, the palace has been beautifully and lavishly restored, and is set amidst delightful parkland which, when created, was the largest landscaped area in the world.

Enjoy a unique opportunity to participate in an Old Russian form of entertainment – riding on a Russian Troika. The harnessed of three horses take you for a ride on the big carriage painted in traditional Russian style. The fervent ring of the bells tied to a brindle, will be your accompanying music. Afterwards return to the city and visit Peter I Log cabin.

This evening at 6:15 p.m. drive to Mariinsky theatre for an evening ballet performance – Swan Lake beginning at 7:00 p.m. After the performance you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Grand Hotel Europe B


St. Petersburg / Moscow

Today at 10:45 a.m. you will be privately transferred to St. Petersburg airport to take your flight on Aeroflat airlines #842 to Moscow departing at 12:05 p.m. Moscow is the center of European Russia, but it is also the country’s historical, political, economical and spiritual center. Although officially founded in 1147, there is evidence of settlement since Neolithic times. The city has withstood numerous invasions, civil war, revolution, and even demotion as the country’s capital, yet it survived and remains the heart and soul of Russia. A city of contrasts, contemporary and Soviet-era architecture stands side by side with ancient monasteries, 19th century palaces and elegant buildings. Moscow has a rich collection of museums ranging in all topics of interest—from art to literary. The city’s repertoire of evening entertainment varies from theater and circus to concerts and ballet with programs changing almost nightly.

This evening at 5:00 p.m. you are picked up and transferred to Nickulin Circus evening performance (beginning at 6:00 p.m.) After the performance you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Le Royal Meridien National (room with Kremlin View)



This morning start your full day of sightseeing by touring the Red Square. Red Square is the focal point of the city, the square lies on the east wall of the Kremlin surrounded by a thick red fortress wall containing towers all at various intervals. Originally allotted for a market, the square itself appeared around the end of the 15th century when Ivan III ordered all wooden buildings in the vicinity of the Kremlin to be demolished to protect the Kremlin from fires. Next visit the St. Basil Cathedral, built in times of Ivan the Terrible. There is a legend around it that the Tsar ordered to strike all architects blind so they would never create anything as beautiful as this Cathedral.

After lunch at your leisure visit the State Armoury, the oldest museum in Russia, home to a collection of precious stones, masterpieces of 18th and 19th century jewelry, priceless artifacts dating as far back as the 14th century as well as an impressive collection of carriages from the best Russian and European masters, precious fabrics, and royal gala clothes. The Armoury is famous also for its fine collection of Faberge eggs.

Continue on to see the dazzling exhibition of the State Diamond Fund. Visit the Kremlin Territory, for centuries the Kremlin has been witness to many famous and tragic events in Russia’s past and it’s a treasure trove of Russian history. Visit two of the Kremlin’s cathedrals: Assumption, the place of coronations and the burial church of religious leaders, and Archangel, the royal burial church.

Tonight you have a dinner reservation at Godunov Restaurant (15 minute walk from the hotel) Theatre Square, 5 Telephone +7 495 698 4480. The restaurant is housed in the building that was once a part of Zaikonospasskiy Monastery, and is situated in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, close to Red Square and the Kremlin. The entrance to Godunov Restaurant represents a painted arch and its interior – the refectory chambers of the 17th century. In the restaurant there are oak tables covered with velvet table-cloths and heavy chairs with carved backs. Wall lamps are shaped as candlesticks with burning candles. The waiters wear traditional Russian dresses. The menu of the restaurant offers an extensive choice of dishes prepared according to old Russian recipes. It includes the famous Guriev porridge, various meat and fish delicacies, appetizers, vodka liqueurs, mushrooms and so forth. Russian folk groups and Gipsy shows are included.

Le Royal Meridien National


Moscow / Yekaterinburg

Today in the morning at 5:45 a.m. you will be privately transferred to the airport to take your Aeroflat airline #2053 to Yekaterinburg departing at 7:45 a.m.

Your sightseeing begins upon arrival as you drive around the city and visit the sites that are connected with the last days of the last Russian Emperor. Visit the place where the Ipatiev House was. Ipatiev House was a merchant’s house in Yekaterinburg where the former Emperor Nicholas II, his family and members of his household were executed following the Revolution. This house was demolished in July 1977. After 1991 the Church on the Blood was built on this very site. You can also visit the museum which is devoted to the las Romanovs and their execution.

After lunch at leisure travel outside the city with your private vehicle and guide. Visit the place where the family of the last Russian Emperor was found. Ganina Yama was a 9 foot deep pit in the Four Brothers mine near the village 15 km north from Yekaterinburg. On the night of July 17, 1918 the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II and his family (who had been murdered at the Ipatiev House then secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit. In 2004 on this site the Monastery of the Holy Tsarist Passion-Bearers was constracted. A tall cross marks the edge of the mine shaft, visible as a depression in the ground. Seven chapels were later constructed at the site, one for each member of the royal family.

Tonight your dinner reservation is at Troekurov Restaurant with your guide. Afterwards you are transferred to your hotel.

Hyatt Hotel (Deluxe Room) B


Yekaterinburg / Moscow

Today in the morning at approximately 11:00 a.m. you will be privately transferred to the airport for Aeroflat flight #2054 to Moscow departing at 1:10 p.m.

After lunch at your leisure continue to the Cold War Museum. After going down on a speed elevator to the dept of 65 meters, you will find yourself inside one of the most restricted military objects of Soviet Union. Your tour will lead you through the secret tunnels of the building and you will have an exclusive opportunity to get famaliar with soviet armament and communication facilities of the Cold War.

This evening you have a dinner reservation at Elki – Plaki.

After dinner you are transferred to the train station for your journey on Rossia #2 train to Irkutsk departing at 9:25 p.m.

Rossia Train (1st class, two berth compartment, one hot meal per person per day included) B


Rossia Train

Rossia Train (1st class, two berth compartment, one hot meal per person per day included)


Rossia Train / Irkutsk

Upon arrival at Irkutsk train station (6:16 a.m. local time) you will be met by your guide and driver and privately transferred to Listvyanka (about 40 miles) – a village on the edge of Lake Baikal, Shaman Rock and the St. Nicholas Church. Enjoy a dog sled ride today. Overnight in Listvyanka.

Anastasia (Room with a view of Lake Baikal) monday, february 28

Irkutsk / Moscow

Today early in the morning at 6:00 a.m. you will be privately transferred from Listvyanka to Irkutsk airport to take your flight to Moscow. Flight C-7 #777 departs at 9:15 a.m. Upon arrival into Moscow at 10:30 a.m. you will be met by your guide and driver and then privately transferred to Stalin’s Bunker. Stalin’s Bunker, a unique memorial of the Russian military history. Built secretly under the sport stadium in 1930 thebunker was made as a back-up command post of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief J.V. Stalin with the rooms for meetings and all necessary facilities. Today in the museum visitors can see Stalin’s private belongings of soldiers and officers – heroes of War, 1941 – 1945. In the museum you will meet ex-KGB agent and he we tell you all about cold War and how he worked for the KGB.

This evening your dinner reservation is at Yar Restaurant with your guide.



In the moring you can visit Lenin’s Tomb. Afterwards you will be privately transferred to the airport to take your International flight home.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grief: Valentine's Day

I have Artie's last Valentine's Day card to me.  Didn't know it was his last one. Awfully glad he took the time to write me a poem, draw us holding hands, and write me a love note.  Now it's my every year Valentine.
I know I'm supposed to let go and move on according to a lot of people.  I even changed the ending of my solo show to have me leave the theater to start a new story.  It's a theatrical device.  At least right now.  Right now I have only one Valentine - only one love - my husband.  I don't feel any less married, any less in love, any less connected even though he's dead.  I know he's dead.  I'm not in denial about that.  Does my believing that we are still together - it's just that I'm earthbound and he's spirit - mean I'm in denial?  I don't know.  Don't really care today.

For me this Valentine's Day is part loneliness and sadness, and part joy and gratitude.  I wrote on my Facebook page yesterday -

Some of our loves and attachments are elemental and beyond our choosing, and for that very reason they come spiced with pain and regret and need and hollowness... (Colm Toibin) but also spiced with joy and sweetness and gratitude -it's quite a puzzlement (me)

Today it's all that - and more.  It's not easy being in love with a dead person - but I am - a very specific person that I love very much and who I believe still loves me in whatever form he's in.  Will I find another love some day - maybe.  I don't know if there is room.  I don't know if it is important.  I just know that today Artie Dazzle (he always called me Pananche and I always called him Dazzle) is my heart - always - my Valentine - always - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with love - whatever kind you can find - whether right now or in memories.  It doesn't have to be couple love.  If you do have a partner or spouse that you love take time to enjoy them.  Now that Artie is dead I think how petty some of the things that annoyed me were.  I would rather have him with me on our worst day than be without him on my best day.  That's why I hope so much my feeling that we will be together again is right.  It would be such a waste not to be able to use all we both have learned about how to love each other with more understanding and patience and joy.  I like the idea that we were connected before we met and that we tumble together through time.  My job is to make him proud by living a fully realized life as long as I still have this body - not resent it or regret it - but enjoy it.  Haven't figured that one out yet. :)

Wishing you all moments of peace today.  xo

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grief: Family Part 2

Starting to feel like this is a soap opera.  I didn't want to go two days without talking to my daughter so I called.  She asked how I was feeling.  I said that was the Tyrannasaurus Rex in the living room.  Let's just talk about simple things.  It was a phone call so she couldn't see that I was crying.  For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about - she had said she wanted to move east to be near me - and then changed her mind.  She is the only family I have since my husband died and I didn't know how much I was counting on having her near me until she decided to stay where she is - 3,000 miles away.

I have been trying to use my skills to deal with everything.  Nothing has changed.  Artie is dead.  My daughter loves me and lives in Seattle.  I am busy doing good things.  However if you look at the time I am writing this - it is 4 am.  Still can't sleep.  Still have a stomache ache.  Still cry.  Valentine's day doesn't help.

I think when I come back from Russia - I am going to go back to regular therapy to talk about why all love I receive from people and all the happy times I have don't touch the space inside that hurts.  I feel that since Artie died I have accomplished a lot - I have put myself out in the world - and yet part of me feels as alone and as sad as the day he died.  I can't figure out how to fill the space where the living him used to be. 

Had a lovely lunch with a friend today - who thinks I am terrific - and we laughed and chatted and ate delicious food.  I came home and fell apart.  I feel like my bravado and courage have taken a vacation.  I need them to come back.  I know Artie is holding my hand - watching over me.  I know all the techniques I share with you when I learn them.  So why am I flopping around on the floor like a goldfish that is turned out of it's bowl?  It's almost like when Artie died he took all the air with him.  Breathe - people say.  Breathe what?

Still moving though.  Still here.  Have storytelling class tonight - then don't know if I will cancel Valentine's Day stuff - then Marty my best woman friend comes on Tuesday.  Then we go to Russia.  I did call the new NYC accountant - and he wants to see me on Monday.  So am managing to do necessary things - but I need to be healed from the inside out - not the outside in.  Here's to us all healing from the inside out - magically - easily - surprisingly.  Wishing you all love that satisfies and that everyone in your world behaves exactly like you want them to!! :)  xo

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grief: Family

I'm sorry for not posting sooner.  I can write about this because my daughter doesn't read my blog.  She is a wonderful woman with purple hair and a great laugh who is 36 and lives in Seattle.  I am in NYC.  She had said that she wanted to move to the east coast to be nearer to me and even went as far as looking at houses in Boston.  When I turned 60 last week something happened and having her be close to me became extremely important. We had met in Los Angeles and had a great time together.  As a birthday present to myself I decided to tell her how I felt before I left.  She is my only family now that my husband is dead.  I didn't mean to cry but I did.  I told her that even though I was doing all this great and fun stuff that there were a lot of times when I was frightened and alone and I loved her very much and I needed her near me.  She thought she was being generous to build some kind of room for me on her property in Seattle - which stirred things up - for the first time in my life I am living my life for me - not for her (I was a single parent) or for my husband.  I had to say that I didn't want to spend a lot of time in Seattle.  I can't do what I am doing here and be across the country a lot.  Also, she is trying to get pregnant and I wanted to be a hands on grandmother if she succeeds.

Anyway - she called me and said that she decided not to move - that she was happy in Seattle and would stay there and I should be positive about it.  Didn't succeed at that!   My head believes that she is a grown woman with the right to make her own choices.  My heart wishes I had a daughter that would find it a joy to move somewhere closer to me.  I didn't ask her to live with me or take care of me - just be close.  So now we have this very uneasy relationship - because when she calls I can't manage to be all excited about everything she is doing.  I always say I'm grieving not depressed - but since her decision I have been depressed.  Luckily I have a lot of friends I can talk to about this - but the truth is I feel very abandoned.  I know it's selfish but I wanted her to choose me instead of friends she has known for only a short time.  It's hard when you make yourself vulnerable to someone and they care but not so much as to change their behavior.

So that is what has been going on with me and why I haven't been writing.  I am leaving for Russia with my best woman friend on Wed. and will be glad to be away for over two weeks away from all the drama. (Of course, I'm bringing Artie's Yankee jacket - I never go anywhere without it now!)  I've always been very independent and never minded being alone.  However, the combination of turning sixty and my husband being dead seems to have knocked all the bravado out of me.  I do have friends - and I am making more - but all of a sudden family seems more important than it has in the past.  I'm not very good at acceptance.  I love her very much but I'm so hurt that I can't pretend to be happy when I'm not which makes her not want to talk to me.  If I was 36 and in her position I might make the same decision.  I can't tell.  I just know that I don't like hurting this much.

I know that it happens in a lot of families that when someone dies we need family members to support us in ways they either can't or don't understand which is why I am sharing this today.  I am trying to follow my own advice and keep moving and get some things done but it is very difficult.  Yesterday was the first day in many weeks that we didn't speak on the phone.  I had always said how supportive she was - but she said that when we talk I do all the talking.  That's not true - but I know what she's saying.  Her clock is up for me to be upset about Artie's death and she doesn't want to hear about it anymore.  I have heard that from so many people - that family and friends don't want to listen after a certain amount of time.  I never thought it would happen with my daughter. 

It's a different generation - I don't want to have a phone it in relationship - I don't want to skype - I want to be with her in person.  I thought she wanted the same thing.  That's what I get for assuming something would happen that isn't going to.  When I'm still grieving it's hard to deal with other kinds of hurt - especially big ones.

I finally called the new accountant that was recommended to me - and he wants to see me before I leave - which means I have to get all my papers together by Monday.  That will keep me busy!  Thank goodness for DVDs.  :)  Marty - my woman friend I am travelling with - is coming on Tuesday and she is someone who gets it - she wrote me a poem for my birthday because she said they don't make birthday cards for women with dead husbands. She also sent me a magnet with a dog and the caption "Sometimes I want to pee on the whole wide world." 

I will be glad when Valentine's Day is over.  I have the last card Artie sent me framed with a picture of the two of us together - he wrote me a poem - drew a picture of us holding hands - and wrote a note.  It is my forever Valentine.  Not easy being in love with a dead person.  Not easy having a daughter that says she doens't want to be near me any more. 

What's my job now?  To stay alive.  To keep looking for the good things - there are plenty - and try to feel them all the way through.  When it gets dark it's hard to see the light - no, I see the light.  It's hard to appreciate it.  All that love for me out there - and it's not coming from the two people I most want it from - okay Artie - I know it's coming from you but it was a lot easier when you had a body! and okay Erin - I know you love me - but it would be a lot easier if I could see you two or three times a month - and if I knew you wanted the same things I do.

Whine.  Moan.  Cry.  That's the way it is right now.  Hard to let go of wishes and dreams.  Hard to make the new wishes and dreams more important than the impossible old ones.  Thank you all of you who share this journey with me.  I hope you are haivng a better time than me right now!!   xo

Monday, February 7, 2011

Grief: A Good Night Story

I am having so much trouble sleeping I thought I would write myself a good night story even though it is only 4 in the afternoon.  Please take it and change it to fit the person - or persons who you love who have died - and to fit your own memories.

I am being held by my husband again and I feel safe and warm and protected.  I hold on to him as tightly as he holds on to me.  I feel his spirit all around me - but in my imagination I feel his body too and I hear his voice again.  He says, "Once upon a time when I was still alive I promised I'd never leave you and although you feel I have - I haven't.  I am holding you all the time and if you breathe in and relax you will feel me.  When you close your eyes to sleep we will be together like we always are.  Do you remember how I hated to travel so before we went to sleep we would say where we would meet in our dreams?  Sometimes we said we would go to Paris and stroll along the Champs Elysee - sometimes we said we would go to our imaginary places like Monkey Island and have adventures there.  I know it is hard for you to sleep in a bed without my body in it.  I know it is hard for you to rest when I am so near and yet so far.  Yet, if you sleep I will fill your dreams with happy memories. Please do not search endlessly for me in your dreams.  I am not lost, let our happy memories fill your dreams.  Do you remember how you hated it when I said I couldn't wait to come home to you and then went upstairs to watch boxing on television?  I felt like we were together because we were in our house.  You only felt like we were together when we were close enough to touch.  Now we are always close enough to touch, just in a different way.  I know that it seems to you that now I am always upstairs and you cannot reach me - but all you have to do to reach me is be.  Earth seems so far away from where I am and you want to rush to join me.  I want for you to enjoy your body while you have it.  I want for you to love your living earthly life while you have it.  I don't have arms to put around you anymore - but I am holding you close all the same with my energy and spirit.  I will wait for you to join me - but even though I am dead and you are living our journey continues together.  Rest your head on your pillow and close your eyes and feel me comforting you.  Listen to the whisper of me loving you.  I am singing all the old songs to you as I did when I was alive.  Our love is your lullaby.  Sleep in peace my love, and wake in joy.  I understand your tears but I do not need them - I love the sound of your laughter so much more.  You still are everything to me as I am to you.  Tonight when it is time for you to sleep, close your eyes and remember I am with you.  Tonight, when it is time for you to sleep do not wake until the morning.  I know you always wake up at the time when I died.  You don't need to do that anymore.  You can get a good night's sleep now because I am telling you that I am watching your every breath.   I love you. You're my heart.  Always."

Sweet dreams.  xo

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grief: The Whole Sky Was Crying

Okay.  I have a big window that looks out on a park.  I have sixteen umbrellas (maybe 5) because I only carry them when it's not raining.  I got dressed and went out and had no idea that it was RAINING.  I decided to put my hood up and get wet - that it was the whole sky crying instead of just me.  Because it is all about us and our grief.  Not really.  Just seems that way. 

I fell asleep when I got home and got a phone call at around 8:52.  Couldn't figure out why any one would call me that early on a Sunday morning.  Soon figured out it was still Saturday night.  Luckily my friends understand dead husband syndrome.  I am thinking maybe TOMORROW I will figure things out better.  Like, if I look out the window I can see what the weather is.  Like, if I stay up and find something to do I'll know what day it is.  Like, if I remember the good times and feel Artie's spirit holding me up - and all of you holding me up - I'll have a happy day.  I'll learn how to do the Australian Crawl and the breast stroke in my pool of tears instead of drown in it.  I'll be an Olympian grief pool swimmer. 

Or not. 

Please world, understand that we are doing the best we can.  We want to live and honor the ones we love with joy and accomplishment but some days we can and some days we can't.  That phone call was a from a friend who wanted to let me know that she understands how difficult things are for me right now.  I told her that her husband haa to give her two Valentine's Days - one for her - and one in honor of me not having Artie here in the flesh.  That's the friend who wrote me a birthday poem because she said they don't have cards for people who have birthdays and dead husbands.  I wish everyone was that understanding.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and I wonder if I will be the only one showing up at my story telling class.  For me the Super Bowl would be a big bowl with my husband in it and I could scoop him out again with a Super Spoon.  I think I should go back to sleep.  I am getting very silly - which maybe is a good thing.  xo

Friday, February 4, 2011

Grief: Keep Talking, Keep Feeling

I took my grief out to celebrate my birthday/anniversary.  I had a good time.  Someone gave me purple tulips.  What a beautiful present in the middle of winter.  A smart friend not to give me roses which is what my husband would have bought.  Was awfully lonely last night and sad today.

I have a lovely coach for my solo show - Kevin.  When he came today (we work two hours a week - will be more closer to the date) I had nothing prepared.  He didn't scold me.  He said it was part of the creative process.  Sometimes you just can't find it in yourself to perform.  We talked a little about the show but mostly about what is going on his life - and about my dealing with my birthday/anniversary without Artie.

I have heard a lot of people say they don't talk about what they are feeling because they are afraid people will feel sorry for them or feel burdened by what they say.  I don't mean a sixties kind of let it all hang out - but a fact of my life is what I call "dead husband syndrome" - my husband is dead and I miss him and it touches every area of my life.  I'm not afraid to talk about it.  I talk about a lot of other things as well - but talking about it opens up other people to talk about things themselves.  I can very quickly tell with the simple sentence - my husband died a little over a year and a half ago - if someone wants to make that part of the conversation or not.  Some people probably don't want to be my friends - but that is okay - because the people who are my friends give me the greatest kind of support - from a loving word - to a joke.  Someone gave me a magnet for my birthday with a picture of a dog that says, "Sometimes I want to pee on the whole wide world!!"  She also wrote me a poem because she said that there aren't any store bought birthday cards for women with dead husbands.

A long time ago I realized that if I put on a mask that I would never know if anyone liked ME - I would just know that they liked my mask.  Once I was talking about something personal and a new friend confided that she had once been hospitalized for depression.  She never would have shared that with me if I was pretending to be happy all of the time.

I like having friends I could say to yesterday - I went out and celebrated and came home and spent time with my husband's ashes.  I hate having ashes to share my anniversary with - I can hear Artie saying - don't share it with my ashes - share it with my spirit.  Thank you Artie.  I also - with most friends - can say what I just said - "Artie says..."   I don't know if it's really him (he says- it's me) but no one thinks I'm crazy.  Or if they do - they think I'm crazy in a good way.

Today was rough.  I always find the day after the date the roughest because it has less distractions.  DVDs for me and weird sleeping patterns.  Maybe tomorrow the gym and some good stuff.  I did spend some time on grief sites on Facebook.  It helps being part of a community for me with - what I called today - house training the grief beast.  I think I've got it following commands and then there it is - (hope this doesn't offend) pooping in the living room again.  Nothing to do but clean it up and start over - if not today - tomorrow.  xo

Grief: Another DAY come and gone

Today I am 60.  I have been surrounded by so much love and so many kind words.  My birthday present in 1996 was to get married.  Today would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.  Is it still?  A quarter of a century with the man who I love still more than anything or anyone in the world.

It's late and I don't have much to say except for the strangeness of it all.  I see the sadness in people's eyes when I talk about my own sadness.  They want me to be happy.  I'm not unhappy - but I'm not happy either.  Surrounded by so many loving people and still the absence of that one face; that one voice.  I woke up this morning and looked over at the empty pillow - well - it's not empty.  For those of you that don't know - the plastic bag of Artie's ashes is in a stuffed leopard that he gave me - that sleeps on the pillow next to mine.  What I have left of his body - and today I did hug it - and thought often of his spirit surrounding me.  Even with all that often felt empty all the same.

I don't know what to do except keep on doing what I'm doing.  I have a bereavement group this week that hasn't met in a while.  I'm looking forward to being somewhere that I know when I talk the people will understand.  So many good things are happening to me that I feel a little selfish that I can't let go more.  I just read an article about someone dating again - I feel so married - still feel so much belonging to Artie.  Am I hurting myself?  I don't know.  It just seems to be the way it is. 

Today I am grateful for all the wonderful things that have happened to me today and this week - and today I am sad that now that everyone has gone back to living their lives I am left without my husband to cuddle in with and discuss the day. 

Thank you grief warriors - it is your love and support that held me up today.  Kept the laughing part laughing - and left the crying part for when I was alone with the ashes; alone with the spirit.  If I get picked a the open mic storytelling on Monday night I am going to craft some kind of funny story about being the Queen of Self Pity!   Sometimes it feels like it's a bright sunny day with a tiny black cloud no one else can see at the edge of the sky and that is all I can look at.  Let's be brave and remember to let our loved ones hear us laugh.  I think Artie understands - but he must wish I could give him more laughter and less tears.  Even now that he is dead I don't want to hurt his spirit.  I want to let it's love envelop me and I still haven't learned how.  My physical mind and body has so much need for him that even though I am glad he is free of all his pain - I miss him so much.  Happy Anniversary husband ghost.  I love you.  xo