Monday, August 29, 2016

Looking back and looking forward

In my last post, I alluded to a blog I started but never finished. Here it is, and finished too. A little more backstory.

Hummingbird Farm has experienced another major setback. A setback unlike all others before it. A change that will impact the future of the farm in countless ways for years to come.

Ghon and I have been making plans for our move. Finalizing the “to do before we move” list and the “it would be nice to do” list. Things may have been slower than anticipated, but Ghon was ecstatic over the progress being made. Just seeing tile in our mudroom floor, he looked at me, and with a glimmer in his eye said, “it’s starting to look like a home.” It certainly was.

Sometime in April, Ghon left his job at Best Buy. Major transition there! The work environment was no longer good for him; the stress was wearing on him, the drive getting old, and the schedule, while it sorta worked for us from a get to work/get to kid activity standpoint, it also greatly limited our ability to do things as a family. There was no such thing as weekend time. Upon leaving work, the plan was for Ghon to take the farm to the next level from a farming perspective.  Trout raising, pigs and gardening; in addition to our eggs and looking at raising meat chickens.

He started window shopping and prepared to purchase a tractor so he could do all the work around the farm. He worked a little in the house, continued his photography, and worked on plans for the farm.

On June 13, 2016, he had a double inguinal hernia repair. Things went well and he was healing up. Actually taking his time and not rushing things! But on June 18, our world changed.

Our last picture together - headed in for hernia surgery.
The night of June 17, he was experiencing a lot of pain. By 1:30 am on the 18th, we were on our way to the emergency room at our local hospital. About midnight, I left without my husband, my partner, my world. I promised him before he left us, that I would raise the kids in the farmhouse, that I would keep the chickens and the goats, do my best with his bees, and I was sorry, but I was not getting pigs. I stroked his head, I held his hand, and I cried. I professed my love for him, for us, and apologized. For what, I'm not sure, other than I was so sorry that this was happening to him. To us. That I wasn't there for him. He had internal bleeding, and was admitted for pain management and monitoring. I stayed all night, into the morning, went home for a few hours and at 4pm, he went into cardiac arrest after standing up from his bed. He was resuscitated, but it took nearly 30 minutes. He was on life support. The doctors didn't know what his brain activity was like, but it wasn't promising. He was given a very small chance of making it through the night. I almost passed out in his room. 

I knew that was not the life he wanted. In my heart, when I got the call at 4:25, I knew, my soul knew, I wasn't coming home with him. That doesn't mean I still didn't want to, or planned to do whatever I could to try, but I knew. That's the only way I can put it.

With his son Eric, I agreed to a DNR near 1030pm, and we went to be with him. His body was shutting down. We didn't have to remove support. His fragile heart stopped beating at 11:09 with Eric and I at his sides. He was not alone. I stayed. I left to let the nurses remove the machines. I went back in. Family came to check on Eric and I. They left. I stayed. I tried to leave, got to the door and turned around and went back in. I couldn't go. I can't say goodbye. I kissed him again, stroked his head, and backed out of the room - I couldn't turn my back on him. I finally left, and left a huge part of my heart behind. I left empty.

The truly last picture. Hand in hand.
As empty as I was, I was fueled with direction. The only thing I can remember saying was that I needed to get into that house. I needed to get into the farmhouse. I had to find a way to get it done; the stuff contractors were already doing, things we were going to find new help with, and things he was going to do. And damn it, I had to finish the penny floor. 

For the next 2 weeks, the kids and I were surrounded by prayers, meals, friends, family and offers to get away and play dates. I accepted what I could; but I had to work on the house. I didn't want to go away. I wanted to be where our dream was, where his heart was. I had to finish. I had to clean out, assess what needed to be done and make a plan. Yeah, sometimes I think Ghon is looking at me either perturbed or laughing, wondering where that same drive was when he was alive. It was there, but time, well time meant something different.

I will need to devote an entirely different post to the many blessings were were given. I am humbled. Completely. I argue with Ghon all the time about them. He is likely saying they are for me and the kids - that people loved us. I tell him they are for us - because of their love for us and him. It's not me alone. I pray that he now sees how many people appreciated him and how many people he positively impacted. I knew there were many, but even I was amazed at the number of messages I received from people I didn't know.

Eight weeks after Ghon died, the kids and I spent our first night in the house. It wasn't complete yet; Jonathan's room was still under construction. Some floors needed finishing. Detail work to be done. But it was done enough for us to stay. And so, we did. 

One week later, with some construction still happening, we opened our home to all of our friends and family for a Celebration of Life for Ghon. It was an absolutely beautiful day. The only thing I would have changed was for it to be a complete housewarming party with Ghon there; not a Celebration of his life. Yet, I know he was there. He was watching in disbelief for sure. But surrounding us all in love and his big smile, telling a joke to make us laugh and probably saying something inappropriate at least once, if not twice. That day, the house felt even more like home.

When I started blogging about the house, it was just that, about the house, us figuring out farming and  life on a farm. I'd wanted to blog more in the last year, but just didn't make the time. All free time went to working on the house,  not talking about it. As time continues, there will still be some of that. But there will probably be some cathartic release of emotion too. As I sat here finishing this post, the tears were free flowing and my nose blowing. So much of who I am was defined by Ghon and who we were, that I'm not sure who I am. I've actually struggled with that for a bit, and will have to figure that out. Writing seems to help, so perhaps some, I will share.  

There is so much I want to do to continue and honor Ghon, to fulfill some of his dreams and wishes, and create a legacy so that no one ever forgets him. There is so much to do at the house. I hate moving, but I want to be completely  moved in. I'm trying to focus on the kids and trying not to forget about me. I want immediate results. But that doesn't happen. I keep hearing things take time, but when you lose such an important part of your life so quickly, without warning, and realize - for real - that tomorrow is never a given, time - well, time, it takes on a new perspective. I can't take time for granted. I want it all done and done now - but life doesn't happen that way. So I'll make a million lists that don't get finished and will stay up too late trying to make them get done. And I will only ask for help when absolutely necessary because I'm hard headed and want to show myself I can do it. 

Or, I'll wake up from this bizarre dream, and have Ghon here with me, swinging on our front porch swing hand in hand like we planned.  But that won't happen. 

And I can't exhaust myself much more. 

So bear with me. I'm staying positive. I'm doing stuff. I'm giving back to others. But I know I'm still not operating at full speed. All cylinders are not firing. I feel so scatter brained, and I hate it. But I'll get there. Sooner or later. I need to. The kids need me to. Ghon wants me to.

Sooner or later. Because I have nothing but time and time has nothing but me. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

79 Days

I started a new blog post a few weeks ago, but I just didn't finish it.

There are a lot of things I start, but can't seem to finish lately. Like thoughts, projects, grocery shopping, and laundry.

I'm more forgetful. My bills are paid, my kids go to their activities, but I can't remember anything without writing it down. Or remember at weird hours, and then don't go to sleep.

I am completely off whack, off balance, and out of sorts. I haven't exercised in months. I'm eating horribly. I think I forgot how to cook. Or maybe, it's just that I don't want to. No, I really don't know how to.

Because 79 days ago, I cooked dinner for 4-5 people. I meal planned. I knew what were having for breakfast, lunch and dinner, at least 6 out of 7 days of the week. But then, my world was thrown into a tailspin. My 4-5 became 3-4, and then, 3. And one of the most helpful things during that transition, was 2 weeks worth of delivery dinner. I don't mean takeout, but friends cooking wonderful meals and bringing it to our home. The only thing I had to think about, was who was coming over, and really, I didn't have to think about that. I wrote down who brought what, and think I've formally thanked everyone, but, I'm not sure. I'm afraid I forgot someone. I'm sure I did. And now, I'll have to check my notebook to find out.

But when you go from cooking for 3 adults and 2 kids to 1 adult and 2 kids, well, it's easier not to. Really, I want to figure it out again. I'm having a hard time figuring out what to make. Because when you are cooking for 3 adults, it's easier to make pork chops, or a batch of taco soup, the occasional meatloaf, pot of spaghetti, a roasted chicken or even a pot roast. I've always had a eat or don't attitude with the kids and the occasional picky-ness. But now, I just don't know what to make, because it's just me and I have my own needs, and they have theirs and well, I'm a little lost.

All because, 79 days ago, I lost my husband. My other half, my best friend. I didn't lose him. I was right there with him. I know where he went. And although I know it must have been his time, and that he is no longer in pain from a variety of ailments that plagued him; we were not ready for this. Yeah, no one ever is, but wow. I was not ready for this.

79 days ago, we were planning when we would move into the farmhouse, a trash the dress wedding shoot, and a week long vacation, for just the two of us. 78 days ago, I began planning when I would move with the kids into the farmhouse, how to cancel or transfer airfare, a funeral, and how to get rid of 6 wedding dresses, that I wore the night before my husband died, the last picture I sent him of me were a series of bad selfies in the dresses, want nothing to do with now, but can't seem to get rid of them.

15 days ago I moved into the farmhouse with the kids and my husband's ashes. I was not spending my first night here without him.

7 days ago, we had a party to celebrate him and remember how awesome he was, how hard headed he was, how he was a complete asshole, and how he took care of so many people - giving them advice, friendship, support, and love when they needed it most. The kids and I opened our home to our friends, our family, and his friends. I felt so much love that day. His presence, ever so big, was ever so big at the farm that day. I felt so at peace, cleaning up what little I had to clean in the kitchen, and seeing people having a great time chatting in the yard. It felt like home.

1 day ago, I went to the beach. At approximately the time Ghon had his last conscious moments; at the time he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest; I thought about him. I stood in "Family Funland" and thought to myself, "Oh, it's been a while since you've talked to Ghon. You should give him a call and see what he's up to and let him know what we are doing and that we are OK." Yep, been a while. I'll get right on that phone call, as soon as I make sure I don't start the flood works in the middle of Funland.  Because who cries when you are having a good time at Funland, right?

At least the flashing neon sign on my forehead reading "WIDOW" is dimming a bit.

I've been called strong more times that I can count. But I really don't know what that means. I don't feel strong. I feel vulnerable. I feel weak. I feel incomplete. I want to cry when I can't open a jar of jelly, when I hear a certain song on the radio, or when my kids are testy - because I don't know if they are just being testy or are having a grief moment. If strong means determined, yea, I guess I am strong. We had goals, we had a few shared dreams. And whatever I can do to make those happen, I will.

We had an argument a week before he died. I told him I didn't have my own dreams. That his were mine. He told me to go get some. After he died, I told him I was going to take some of his dreams for me. I've accomplished the first. We are living in this house.

I still don't know what the rest of my dreams are. I'm only thinking about his right now. I'm not sure that is the right thing to do, but it's what I can do.

If you've called me strong, please tell me what that means.

If you have any dreams to share, do so.

If you can teach me how to cook again, send me a recipe. For the record, I'm sick of my kids eating chicken tenders.

If you can do anything to help, don't be afraid to talk about Ghon. Don't be afraid to tell the good, the bad and the everything in between. Share your stories with the kids. Know that Jonathan is hurting; and is always looking, although he won't say it; for someone to talk to or learn from. Stop by, say hi. Just chill and chat. It's good.

If you don't know what to say - it's ok to say, I don't know what to say. It's better than not saying anything. And it's nice to be asked, how are you. Just know, any particular day or time, I could say fine, or OK and be fine or OK. Or I may say fine, or OK and still lose it.

79 days ago, Ghon was taken from us. Nothing can or will change that. But everything we say and do can keep his memory and legacy alive so that we never forget. Help us all never forget.

I love you Ghon.