I know I said I wasn’t going to blog until after the new year but what is nice with this being my blog is I can change my mind if I want…and I did.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and honestly that holiday wasn’t difficult for me last year and this year proved the same.  The only thing difficult was leaving Aaron for a few days with my parents.  I was able to stay busy and felt accomplished allowing this to happen.  I wake up every day thankful to be alive…to be Aaron’s mom and to have an amazing angel watching over us…this was just “another day.”

T minus 3 days to Christmas.  Last year we did something completely different from years before and stayed at a hotel and had Christmas there.  I am blessed to have a wonderful family that would do that for me.  We will see what this year brings.  I am sure I/we will be fine.  Like said above, I have an amazing family that allows me my moments and has more than stepped up to the plate to take on and be everything I need when I need them.

My blog title is “2013.”  There is a reason.  Last year my WORST holiday was New Years Eve/New Years Day.  My first mother’s day was the day after Jay’s funeral and that didn’t even compare to NYE.  Looking back I believe the reason was because New Years Eve you look back at the previous year…you say good-bye and greet the next year with great expectations.  I had already said good-bye to so much in 2012…I was SO over 2012…but looking at 2013 held so many unknowns and that was overwhelming.  Anyone grieving this year I ask that you be kind to yourself when you struggle through the holidays.  Allow yourself the feelings you feel.  They are real and you need to work through them…all of them.

So this blog is going to be a list of things I have done in 2013 and my hopes for 2014.

In 2013 I found out that I can blog.  I lived through a 2 month kitchen remodel…with a 1 1/2 year old boy.  We survived a pretty scary car accident.  I made it through the year anniversary.  I found an awesome personal trainer.  I let people help me.  I let people into my life.  I began to heal.  I learned that 10 words could change my world forever and yet 5 words could bring me to my knees.  I understand that it only takes one smile to brighten a day…one sentence to change your world and one person to save a life.

In 2014 I hope to continue down the path of understanding and being understood.  My plan is to continue to dance through life…metaphorically and literally.  I will finish my book.  I will stay creative in dancing and in photography.  I will not limit myself…I will be kind to myself and to others.  Nothing will stand in my way.

Determination.  The one thing I will need going into Christmas and into the New Year.  2013…I have learned alot about myself throughout you.  You were tough at times but kind in others.  You made me cry and you made me smile.  Thank you and good-bye.

Speaking of the other day

The other day I was fortunate to have an opportunity to tell our story after an organ donation presentation.  It was great for me because I usually do my speaking events by myself and so going with an actual employee was nice.  She did the presentation that was so informative and if I say so myself she did an excellent job.  I don’t just say that because she is a good friend, she did an awesome job.

The day before I was talking to a friend and expressed that I was having anxiety about how to tell the story.  In order to tell the story the way it deserves I force myself to go back to that day.  This task is not easy.  I take that back…it is very easy to go back there, it is harder than hell to get back to a good place after being there.  This friend told me to think about it as a teaching opportunity, not just telling our story.  She also told me to start it off something like this.  “My name is Alyssa Taber.  I am 34 year old mother of a beautiful 2 year old and at the age of 33 I became a widow.”  I went in with both of these thoughts and it paid off.  Although I was exhausted as I always am after speaking the lead up and actual speaking was easier.

This event was unique because afterwards my friend was fielding questions that people had after and then a group approached the stage.  The coordinator of the event was part of this group eventually but what I found out gave me perspective.  This man…with his daughter and brother or brother in law and sister or sister in law stood and talked to me afterwards.  The man was a widower.  His wife passed in March.  He is 8 months in.  To share the advice I had been given in the last 17 months was refreshing.  To be honest with him and tell him the year anniversary is hell helped me.  To tell him he was not responsible for anyone else’s grief..that people will walk in and out of his life and that is OK…it happens.  If they are meant to be back in your life they will come back.  If they leave they are making room for someone else.  I was what I like to call brutally honest and I appreciate people who can be that with me.  I hope this man can say the same.

When we were talking he mentioned that he wished her back for just a second.  His daughter stepped in and said that she didn’t understand that.  Why wouldn’t he wish for a lifetime back.  Why just one second…one hug…one conversation?  I agreed with him completely and said that is all I needed.  Was one second with him.  I would give back all perspective and other things that have come my way to have Jay back for ONE second.  I would live in a cardboard box if it would get him back for a second.  Dramatic?…Yes.  The absolute truth…yes.  Do I want him back for me?  No.  I want him back for Aaron.  It’s not about me.  Speaking…living…moving forward….it’s not for me….it is ALL for Aaron.

This event was different.  It felt good.  I enjoyed it…speaking the other day.

Difficult days

I really wish these “days” had a warning label on them.  I can’t say that I haven’t seen signs that a day like this was on the horizon but I really wish when I wake up that I got the “just go back to sleep” notice.  Being essentially stuck in the house because of the weather probably didn’t help.  The upcoming week having two holiday parties scheduled is a factor I am sure.  The fact that Aaron didn’t take a nap…yep…that contributed to it.

Do I dread these days like I used too…no.  Do I fight them…oh yeah.  Do I like people to see or hear me in these days…absolutely not.  That is why I fight them.  And yes there is a difference between the dread and fight.  I understand better now that these days will always exist so that takes care of the dread but do I like that they exist no…do I think I can do something to put them at bay…yes…therefore the fight.  A friend said to me today, “You’ve been acting weird around me lately.”  Yep…they are right.  So for anyone in my life that has seen something in the last couple weeks…today was the reason.

Is there a fix?  God I wish there was.  Unfortunately one just has to go through these days.  Power through them…learn from them.  All the stuff that someone just starting to have these days does not want to hear.  That thought is yet another blog.  I”m really blogging it out tonight.  It feels good.

So what do I mean by difficult days?  I was all around sad.  No one event or thought triggered it.  Songs made it a little worse.  Sad thoughts made it stay longer.  Can anyone do anything?  No.  All I can do is get through and that is what I did.  Now it is time to sleep.

Tackle the tree

The Christmas tree was what I had to tackle this year with all my strength because with every part of my being I didn’t want to put it up.  I knew I didn’t have to but I deep down I know I should.  That said it took having a friend over for me to get it from the basement along with all the decorations.

This friend that helped me was a very close friend of Jay’s.  Her comment sent chills down my spin the other day when she said “Aaron deserves a Christmas tree.”  Why did that send chills?…easy…it is EXACTLY what Jay would have said.  When the man was right, he was right.  And some don’t believe that things happen for a reason but I do and I believe my friend said what she said for a reason.  Whether she just truly believed that or Jay “told” her too it was the truth.  It was the kick I needed to remind me that this holiday isn’t about me.  It is about Aaron.

So the tree is up.  My friend helped me get it put together and get the lights on it.  Then I spent parts of today decorating it.  Instead of putting the lights we have put on for years (that Jay liked) I went to Target last night and I bought ALL new.  I think that helped.  But that didn’t stop me from trying to decorate it like I used to.  I stopped mid decorating and changed my mindset.  If I am going to look at this tree and make this holiday something Aaron enjoys it has to be different.

So there….the tree is up.  Go me…Merry Christmas…I tacked the tree.

It’s got a bad name

Counseling.  Many people hear that word and think it’s not for them.  They don’t need counseling.  They don’t have a problem or something to work through with a stranger.  They might be right.  But for me, I embrace it. 

I love my brother.  He is younger than me but so many times I think of him as my older brother. During the week/weekend after Jay died he was such a great support to me.  He was the only person that could say the following to me during the last two days they were at the house with me.  ”Alyssa…is it OK for me to ask you a serious question right now?” I of course said “Yes”…then he asked me if I felt like hurting myself.  He started a few conversations that way that weekend and it really worked for us.  It got me in the mindset that he needed to ask me something that required me to be logical.  Of course my answer to that question was “No, Eric…but thank you asking and checking.”  I appreciate people who can be this honest with me.  So when he then said “Alyssa…is it OK to have a serious conversation right now?” I got my logical hat on and said, “sure”.  He said “Alyssa…I think you need to start counseling next week to work through this.”  He was so thoughtful and knew exactly how to word things to me in that week.  Having been through counseling before working through my mom and Jay’s mom cancer as well as infertility I responded “Yep…I agree.” 

I don’t know if everyone thinks this or not but so many people think that once you pick a counselor you have to stick with that one.  That is so not true.  Did I know that at the time, no.  But I figured it out.  I went that Tuesday after he died and had my first session.  It was exhausting.  It was a great release and I stuck around with that counselor for 4 months.  Then we hit a time where we strongly disagreed with something.  Maybe someday I will go into what that was but not today. In any case after that I then joined the group counseling at Amanda the Panda.  That got me through December and honestly after that I thought I was done.  I felt good or so I thought.  In  April…perspective wasn’t as available to me as it had been previously and after a heart to heart with two close friends I started counseling again but this time it was with someone different. 

Recently I was asked what I felt I have learned from each different counselor.  I thought my answer was interesting so I wanted to share.  I said the first counselor knew me already.  She got me through the shock.  She got me through many of the things you have to do eventually like cashing in life insurance and what that meant.  She taught me I was responsible only for my own grief and no one elses.  If I was doing something for someone else it wasn’t right.  One of her concerns was me going to see Jay’s co-workers at Wells Fargo as I would stop by with Aaron once a month or so.  I cannot explain it other than those people are considered our family.  As long as they allow me, we will continue to visit the office, have lunch with many of them and consider them my…our family.  They help me in a way no other person can.  Going to Amanda the Panda taught me I was not alone.  It helped me through some serious anger I had at the time and was the single reason I made it through the holidays.  My recent counselor, well he is just awesome.  He has an awesome office that makes me feel like I am at the beach.  He has taught me to “let go.”  He has worked through some of the remaining grief but what he has excelled at is bringing me back to life.  If something (relationship or otherwise) is toxic…let it go.  I was seeing him once a week but now I go every couple weeks.  He single handedly helped me in ways no situation or person could ever have done. 

So counseling is not for everyone, I get it.  But if you for any reason think you need to talk something out with someone who can help you see things differently I advise you to try it.  It’s got a bad name but it shouldn’t because it does help.

It has to GO!

Jay had this blue couch and recliner chair when he lived in the townhouse.  When we moved into the house he promised me new furniture on the first floor but we still had his stuff.  Two men and a truck moved us and when they brought the couch and chair in the house I told them to put it in the basement.  It took a little squeezing and pushing but they got it down there.  They stopped me and told me they were going to scratch the door frame going down there and wanted to know if it was ok to proceed.  I told them I didn’t care HOW they got it down there…just to get it down there.  I was promised new furniture.  This stuff needed to “disappear.”   HA!

Recently when I ventured down to the basement it became clear that I needed to tackle it and make it my own.  Different paint and maybe new carpet were added to the list of to do.  And then it was me and the couch staring at each other again.  When I redid the first floor earlier this year the old furniture up there also ventured to the basement.  That furniture could stay but this blue couch and chair…it had to go. 

Is it gone yet you ask?  No.  That is next step.   Calling someone that wants it to come and pick it up.  I am donating it but I need to make the call.    I need to make one phone call.  Talking to a friend the other night she told me “I would make the call for you but you have to organize pick up.”  This is very true although I would almost pay someone to make the call for me.  She then said “Alyssa…maybe you are not ready to get rid of it.”  My response?  “Oh no…I am READY…It has to GO!”

The point I am trying to make is that I am ready for the couch to be gone.  I have “let  it go” so to speak.  It brings me more sadness being in my house then a couch and chair should so it must go.  It isn’t easy to let things go.  They take time.  But under the right circumstances and in its own time things will take care of themselves.  Be gentle and sympathetic to those in these types of situations.  Not just with people who have lost people but people letting other things go in life.  Eventually and in due time they will say “It has to GO!”

The holidays, emotions and the blog…a lil bit of everything

I have been trying to blog for a couple days now but it just hasn’t flowed and my belief about my blogging is if it doesn’t flow it probably shouldn’t be blogged at that time.  In a similar way if it blogs TOO well it always goes to my “gut check” friends to make sure it is OK. 

As the holidays approach, I would be lying if I didn’t say my mind goes into a different zone.  Last year at this time I was going through group grief counseling at Amanda the Panda (http://www.amandathepanda.org/).  When asked recently what I learned from that counseling the answer is very simple.  I learned that I was not alone.  This “time” of year last year that was very important for me to know.  This year I am fully aware I am not alone.  I can look at where I was last year to where I am this year and SO much has changed and that to me is amazing and wonderful.  I have let so many different things and people into my life and I have learned so much from all of it.  I have learned so much about myself. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday to give thanks.  This year I am thankful for so much.  If you are in my life, I am thankful for YOU.  If you have taught me something this year I am thankful for THAT.  If you were by my side during a difficult situation I am thankful you were THERE.  Because of these three things I have such a different view of the world and life.  I am thankful for it all.  Christmas approaches and it makes me uneasy.  Last year when my family asked me what I wanted to do I told them the following: “Something COMPLETELY different than any years before.”  I guess we will see what happens this year.  Only time will tell.

The other day I had the amazing thought…I have been blogging for almost a YEAR.  I never thought I would make it a month let alone a year.  Thank you for those who have followed me from the beginning and welcome to those who have only just begun.  My hope is to understand and to be understood.