4 months

Sent to friends on 9/10/2012

Hello Again, 

4 months ago today I woke up to a new life in front of Aaron and me…it feels like it was just yesterday.  With the help of close friends I have made it through each day one at a time.  

In the last month Aaron and I have done many things, here is an update:   

Week of August 20th – We made a trip to Madison, WI where John Deere Financial has an office.  Grandma Cleveringa went with us and we had a wonderful time.  Mommy worked while Grandma and Aaron played.  J  We got to visit Great Grandma Simonson which made a great stop in driving and it is always nice to see her.  It was great to see my wonderful co-workers from WI.  

September 1st – We went to our first Iowa State Football game.  Aaron was in awe of the crowd and the game in general.  His awe and excitement was wonderful to see.  We made it to half-time and then Aaron fell asleep so we left.  GO CYCLONES!!!!

September 4th – This would have been Jay and my 8 year wedding anniversary.  The days prior and the actual day were not easy but I made it through with the love and support of many and with my mom by my side which helped immensely.   This past weekend we went up to my parents.  Aaron is a very good traveler and enjoyed seeing Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Eric and Aunt Leslie.  Plus Aaron’s Cyclones beat the Hawkeyes which always makes the weekend nice. 😉  No comment about his Greenbay Packers…just no comment.  I’m happy to report that we got our one loss out of the way so that is good.   Thank you to all that continue to support me through this difficult time.  This journey has not been easy so I appreciate your patience and kindness you have shown me.

Valentine’s day…the under-estimated holiday

Posted Sunday January 27, 2013

Last night my idea for my blog was “Everything I should not say or feel”.  As you can imagine that has ALOT of anger behind it. 

Luckily, a car ride, iced tea from starbucks and hour and a half drive around the metro,  cooler heads prevail. 

My topic today is “Valentine’s Day…the under-estimated holiday”.

So first things first, how does a widow survive the big holiday Valentine’s day?  I am going to take a stab at it with my “14 days of Valentine’s day”.  If it proves therapeutic I may have myself a new tradition.  What I am going to do is from February 1st to February 14th, I am going to give 0ut 14 gifts each day.  I figure this way I can focus on others and not myself.  I haven’t decided what actual Valentine’s day will hold for me but maybe I will go out somewhere with Aaron.  Everyone always (or atleast it feels that way) thinks that the “hard” holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So far that theory to me is completely bogus. 

My memories of Valentine’s Day are so much better than any Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It took awhile but I finally had Jay trained that I like white roses and that it was OK to get them for me on Valentine’s Day.  White roses were our wedding flower.  There were a few years that he got me red and his reasoning was…”It just doesn’t seem right to give a girl anything but red roses on Valentine’s day”.  He was such a planner.  There are a couple years we got reservations to a restaurant for Valentine’s day  Honestly, I didn’t need any of it.  I just wanted Jay.  All I needed was a hug and a kiss and that was enough, whether he knew or believed it.  It was the week before Valentine’s day in 2004 that Jay proposed to me.  He spelled “Alyssa Marie Taber” down the right side of the poem.  He planned everything and was so passionate in what and how he felt about people. 

I’m not going to lie…for some reason the past two nights have been difficult.  For some reason seeing hearts all around reminds me how good of a heart Jay had and yet that was the one organ that failed him in the end.  It is a reminder that he is not here.  He’s not here to hug me.  To kiss me.  I sit here at night and want him here.  I want him here to obsess about how Aaron is doing in the milestone’s of a 15 month year old…to gripe to me about what I worry about…to teach me something I did not know.  My heart is broken.  I want it healed.  If I could have one thing for Valentine’s day, it would be a healed heart or atleast the light showing me that it is possible.  I wish I knew what that light looked like. 

I will get through this holiday just like I did the others and I hope everyone hugs and kisses their loved ones a little bit longer this year.  I know I wish I could.

If you’re happy and you know it…

Posted Friday January 25, 2013

So this morning a few questions crossed my mind.

 “Will I ever be truly happy again?” 

“Is it OK to be happy?”

“What will/does happy feel like?”

I think every woman or man in my situation has or will ask themself these questions as some point and time.  As I worked through my grief at Amanda the Panda it was interesting to me how my “Pie chart of emotion” changed in 8 weeks.  At the beginning a good 60% of my emotion was anger.  By the end of the 8 weeks that 60% was now occupied by acceptance and happiness.  This change makes me smile but still confuses me from time to time.  I still put sadness after 8 weeks and the part that gets me is how can I be sad AND happy at the same time.  My only thought is that I need to let go of the guilt I feel for thinking about happiness.

After thinking about this all day my answers are the following;

Yes, Yes and I guess I will know when it happens.

The status change

Posted Wednesday January 23, 2013

So here is is day 3 since the official start of my blog and never did I think I would still have a topic to talk about. I figured after the first day I would either have written it all or just not be able to do it. To the contrary, on the way to work this morning I thought of a topic I want to blog about.

 The status Change
As a girl, you dream of the day you find the man you want to spend the rest of your life with. You dream about the moment when you fall in love, the day he proposes, the day you get married and the moment you become parents. In this scenario you go from “single”, to “in a relationship”, to “engaged”, to “married” and finally to “married and sleep deprived”. 🙂 These are all happy status changes.

No one dreams of changing their status from “married” to “widow.”
The first time I saw this change was after I went back to work. I had to call HR and get our insurance modified. As a part of process Jay had to be taken off many things and when that was done my status changed to widow. I didn’t see it in the system right away.  It wasn’t until I logged into my account a week later that I saw the status change.  Why seeing it written had such an effect I’m not sure because for a little over a month at that time that is exactly what I was…a widow.  Seeing it in plain text took me down a dark road and I am very lucky to have friends and family that ran after me and brought me back. 

In this journey, I have decided to accept my status change for what it is.  It was not a “planned” status change by any stretch of the imagination but it happened.  Early on in the journey I felt defined by Jay’s death and my new status.  As I am further down the road, I have decided that is unacceptable.  I grieve every day and I will for the rest of my life in some way.  But in this journey…as Jay would want…I will not be defined by this grief or status change.  I will choose what defines me, that is something in this unpredictable world that I can control.

another poem I wrote recently

“The A word”

I am angry you left us
even though I know you did not

I am angry I’m alone
even though I know I’m not

I am angry our son will never know you
even though I know he will

I am angry that I am scared
at all that is His will

All this anger in my heart
is raw and sometimes hard to chart

I will do my best to make it through
because my dear I love you


Posted Tuesday January 22nd, 2013

Tomorrow I am faced with another milestone.  Aaron turns 15 months old.

My first wish every morning and my last wish every night is that Jay was here to see how much Aaron has grown.  To see it when Aaron says a new word…gives a new facial expression or reaches a new milestone.  I have to remind myself every morning and every night that he is here, he is watching just not in the way I wish he was.  When I truly have perspective on any given day I know in my heart that Jay is actually with Aaron more then I am.  Jay is with Aaron always, watching over him and making sure he is always OK.  Although I wish him back every minute of every day, how lucky is Aaron?  How lucky am I to have an angel that is always there watching over us.  I know Jay is with me when I need him.  I believe with all my heart that is why I was able to speak at his funeral.  Also why I was able to speak in front of a little over 100 financial planners from Principal, between 80-90 employees from the Iowa Donor Network, around 100 people at a fundraiser for Project Panda (GDMLI project for Amanda the Panda) and document in a blog to tell our story.  As crazy as it sounds, speaking and writing…it heals me and that is enough motivation to keep me going.

A poem I wrote on new Years Eve

Missing you

I miss you
Three words say it all
But when words fail me
It’s you I want to call

But you’re not here
To hold me close
Say it’ll be OK
We all have highs and lows

My heart hurts
I want to stay strong
I know you are gone
But that’s not where you belong

I love you
I live with fear
I miss you
I wish you were here

The beginning

Posted Monday January 21, 2013

Today is the day I officially start our blog.  I start on a day that I would consider a “good” day.  It has been a little over 8 months since Jay died and today I was finally able to start boxing up his shirts.  I look at everything I/we have done in the last 8 months and I’m unsure why this was such a difficult thing to do but then I realize it was how he left his things.  Early in our journey no one could sit in his chair or even move it for that matter.  Since then it has been moved and although it doesn’t get sat in very often, I would be OK if someone did.  When they call it a “journey” that is exactly what it is but that is life right?

I have accomplished many things in the last 8 months.  The most important thing I have learned in this journey is this…I am only responsible for my grief and to take care of our son.  If there is one piece of advice I could give anyone going through my situation or any type of grief it woud be that because as I have learned, everyone deals with grief in a different way and that is OK because no one is the same and we are always a work in progress.

I will begin adding excerpts from my monthly emails to the friends and family in this blog but to get caught up I wil be posting a few with each blog entry.

Here is the the email I sent to my department the day I returned to work: All, First I want to thank all of you for your condolences and support in the last few weeks.  I appreciate everything you have done for me and my family.   Today I return to work.  I kindly ask that all questions about what happened and other questions about the situation wait a few weeks as I try to find my new normal I am faced with.   Thank you in advance for your consideration.

This is an excerpt from the email I sent family and friends 3 months after Jay died.  It outlines events of the first 3 months.

Saturday May 12th was the most difficult day of my life.  Being surrounded by many of you helped in ways you will never fully understand so thank you again.  For those that made it to the visitation on Friday thank you as well.  The Hamilton’s staff was so wonderful and I am thankful for their patience and guidance in those first days.  I am proud of the service I was able to give Jay.

On Sunday May 13th (Mother’s day), Aaron and I spent the day at Glazed Expressions.  We picked up the gift Jay and Aaron had made for me a couple weeks prior.  It was a square vase with Aaron’s hand and foot prints.  I could only hope now that I had a picture of Jay putting the paint on Aaron’s hands and feet and getting him to do the prints.  I have my own mental picture of it and it makes me laugh.

On Monday May 14th, Aaron went back to daycare at Apple Tree in Urbandale.  The amazing people there have helped Aaron and I adjust to our new normal.  I consider all of them our family.

On June 5th (Jay’s 34th birthday), we received a notice in the mail that Jay’s cornea donation had restored the site of two people.

On June 6th, Aaron was presented with the first ever annual Grimes Fire and Rescue Association scholarship.  My apologies to my neighbors as I am sure there was panic as 2 fire trucks, an ambulance and 2 officer vehicles pulled up to our house. 😉 We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful group of people in our community care for us.

On June 7th I went back to work.  I am very fortunate to work for such an awesome company and have such wonderful co-workers.  We also received a thank you from one of the cornea transplant recipients.

On Saturday June 17th (Father’s day weekend), team “the Jay Walkers” walked in the American Association Heart Walk here in Des Moines.  We raised $720.  Not bad considering we gathered that in a week.  Next year we will have team shirts and a little more time to collect for this great organization helping in the fight against heart disease.

On Saturday July 21st we went to the Sioux Falls Airshow.  Aaron did great with his ear muffs.  Aaron was excited to see his Uncle Eric fly the F16.  On Monday July 23rd Aaron turned 9 months old.  He had a great dr. appt and the 9 month pictures should be super cute.  We took many pictures to remember daddy.