The Hubs’s First Dead Birthday

Yesterday was the Hubs’s first after death birthday – he would have been 60.

The week leading up to it felt extra heavy. I’ve been dreading this day. He should have been driving the new-to-him car I had saved for years for him to get.

And yet, despite having died in March, he was with me all day…

I woke up to a text offer from the neighbors to do some work on my yard (it is a Disaster – thigh high weeds 😬 – tho I am getting bids for a landscape service to take care of it). By the time I woke up, it was too hot, they had retreated back inside for the time being. They said they would be happy to do it when the weather cooled off.

Soon it was time for the family Zoom rum tasting I had arranged, so that nobody in our immediate family would have to be alone all day on such a rough day. It was nice. Sam, in his urn, placed next to me.

Because he had died suddenly (7 weeks from first doctor’s appointment to death – we really didn’t have time to discuss bequests), and because all that was his is now legally mine, I had decided that everyone would get something they couldn’t or wouldn’t do for themselves, as a bequest from the Hubs (to be determined at a later day, privately).

We had a great time, sharing some thoughts about the Hubs, then our usual tasting, comparing, educating and then chatting for a while wherever the conversation took us. We collectively decided on the liquor for the next tasting (bourbon), and signed off.

Soon after the Hubs sent me flowers, via his work wife:

And then I lost it, sobbing. And right then, there was a momentary power outage – literally off, then on. You know, the kind of things “spirits” have been known to do? It stopped me in my tracks…for a bit.

When I realized the power would stay on, I again saw the beautiful flowers I had received and started crying again. I got up to rinse out a glass in the kitchen and was startled by the low water pressure. I took a closer look and saw that handle was not all the way opened (it is a touch faucet, so the temperature and flow rate are pre-set). I did not remember leaving it like that, half closed. When I fully opened the flow, the pressure was fine. But he had stopped the crying, again.

I finally got the sense that he was not having me cry on his birthday.

An hour later I headed out to dinner. I was eating at the same restaurant we had gone to for his birthday last year. That was our first dinner out since the pandemic. They had outside seating and we felt safe eating there.

When I made the reservation, I told the restaurant all the circumstances.

They greeted me with “happy birthday.” Then the hostess told me the special for the night:

This was the dish I had last December when we came here for our 30th anniversary dinner. 😳

Although I had thought to have a fish dish (the Hubs often had fish when we were out, cuz we didn’t eat it enough for him at home), I was called to have the dish we had talked about having, but he hadn’t lived long enough for us to have together – the whole duck fat fried chicken.

The menu said it fed 2-4 people. It came with mac n cheese, pickles, honey, biscuits, hot sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and gravy. I ordered it just for me.

Of course, that means I’ll be eating it for days…😂…which extends the birthday celebration – something we would routinely do.

When I reflexively started doomscrolling on my phone, a tiny leaf dropped onto the table right in front of me. I took that to mean ‘put the phone down, pay attention!’ So I did, people watching and eavesdropping on other diners as we would have done.

During dinner he told me he loved me, via a former neighbor’s text:

Also during dinner, I saw three motorcycles come through the intersection I was facing (separately), that exactly coincided with our personal, joint motorcycle journey – first a single rider on a touring bike (the Hubs had one when we met), then two riders together on a touring bike (we learned to ride together Really Well), then a single rider on a Kawasaki (when I learned to ride and it was time for me to get a bigger bike, the Hubs took me to a large local dealership and said I could have any 600cc bike I wanted, brand new – I chose a Kawasaki that I still have).

Then I ordered what I thought he would order for dessert – the pecan tart (he loved pecan pie) to go ‘cuz I was full and it felt like time to go home. The restaurant not only comped me the pecan tart, they also told me they were including, and comping, their usual birthday dessert – cookies and fruit. The server got a 25% tip on what the bill would have been With the 2 desserts.

We have cameras at home with phone notifications which starting going off near continuously right after I sat down to dinner. When I checked one I saw one of the neighbor boys in our front yard. I figured he was looking for the family cat, who wanders often. Then I mostly forgot about the notifications.

I headed home with my delicious bounty to find both of my nearest neighbors’ households – a total of 4 adults and 5 kids completely de-weeding and mowing my lawn, and de-weeding the planting beds in my front yard (I had only asked for a buffer zone around the walkway to my front door as I am still planning to get pros in).

BTW, this was the Hubs taking care of the front yard (as he did when he was alive) via the neighbors. I shared with them that this was the Hubs’s birthday and joked with them that they should blame him for all the work they had just done on such a hot day. We all wished him a happy birthday together.

They were just about done when I came back from dinner. As things were winding down, I offered ice cream to the kids and beer to the adults. After I served up the ice cream, one household quietly collected their tools and went home. I stood out in my driveway with the other neighbors talking for about an hour – just like we did with them when he was alive.

We all finally went inside about 9pm. I felt peaceful – a peace which is still with me this morning.

It is such an odd thing to say – that my husband’s first dead birthday felt almost…magical? 🤷‍♀️

I do know that he was with me all day, so that I could really celebrate that he had been born!

Scar Tissue

Yeah, what she said…

anotheronewiththecancer

It is possible I’d become less anxious about mammograms now that I’m 3 ½ years out from diagnosis. I’ve said a few times on this blog that I’ll never be “over” cancer—that fear of recurrence will always be with me. I know I am not the only person who thinks like that. That great Slate article published last year quoted Dana Jennings: “Even though my health keeps improving, and there’s a good chance that I’m cancer free, I still feel stalked, as if the cancer were perched on my shoulder like some unrepentant imp.”

Well, that nails it.

Medical facilities still grate on my nerves, so, I was only a tiny bit less anxious for my recent experience a couple of weeks ago. So it was a bit upsetting to be shown an image with a new, large white area on the chest wall under the place where the original…

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Book Excerpts: Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

*****Then Came You

” . . . All I’d wanted was for someone to be happy for me — happy with me, straight up happy, not happy with questions, or happy with reservations, or happy but confused, or not happy at all . . . and there was no one in my life, including my husband, who fit the bill. . . .”

Been there, felt this.  (Rarely to include my husband, but yes, it has happened – though more often when I hit a place like this, he’s the only one who Does feel (whatever, doesn’t always have to be happy – sometimes indignant, sometimes just plain mad) for me.

Again, we have a book with only one lonely little quote.  This one I did finish, but I didn’t think it rose to the level of Jennifer Weiner’s other books.  I could see where it was going about halfway through, and it could have been lovely, but somehow it felt somewhat disjointed to me.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Pink Post ~ Life After Breast Cancer

So very true.

Misifusa's Blog

pinkpost

This hydrangea was in my backyard and I think it suits my post today.  Much like a life splintered by the diagnosis of Breast Cancer, the fallout comes after all of the treatment is done.  This pom flower, flourished through her treatment, but now as Autumn creeps in, you can see where perhaps her splendor lay, but now is riddled with pink splatters ~ like how the rest of my life is now speckled with cancer.

But it’s not all flowery after you’re through with the treatments.  As many who have endured disease and illness (not necessarily just breast cancer), the aftermath is often the hardest.  I remember the distinct “WHAT NOW?” feeling after treatment was over.  I was sent out into the world with a few follow up appointments scheduled for future dates in my back pocket, some daily meds to take and a bewildered look on my face.

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Book Excerpts: Just One Look by Harlan Coben

*****Just One Look

”. . . There are sudden rips.  There are tears in your life, deep knife wounds that slash through your flesh.  Your life is one thing; then it is shredded into another.  It comes apart as through gutted through a belly slit.  And then there are those moments when your life simply unravels.  A loose thread pulled.  A seam gives way.  The change is slow at first, nearly imperceptible. . . .”

I’ve had the first one, three times (death, broken back, cancer).  Not sure about the second one – it scares me a little.  But I did love the juxtaposition of opposites.  What can I say?  I’m a Gemini – I’m a juxtaposed kinda girl.

“. . . Adult suburbia can be a lot like high school. . . .”

The world seems to think we actually leave high school when we graduate and grow up – but do we?  I’ve run into more situations that feel Just Like High School since I left those buildings than I have hairs on my head.

” . . . the feeling of not only intimacy but safety.  He made her feel small and protected, and maybe it was un-PC, but she liked that. . . .”

We’re probably dangerously close to oversharing here, but um, yep.  Been there, relaxed into that.  If you knew “the whole truth,” boy would you be surprised!  But, don’t knock it ’til ya truly understand it.

“. . . when you spend enough time in the dark, alone with your thoughts, your mind turns inward and feasts.  That was always a dangerous thing.  The key to serenity, Wu knew, was to keep working, keep moving forward.  When you’re moving, you don’t think about guilt or innocence.  You don’t think about your past or your dreams, your joys or disappointments.  You just worry about survival. . . .”

Well, been there too.  And while there is some truth to this (in other words, when you’re going through hell, keep going), at the same time sometimes one needs to stop for a bit of quiet.

“. . . She was in her midseventies, heavyset, the kind of big aunt who hugs you and you disappear in the folds.  As a kid you hate the hug.  As an adult you long for it. . . .”

Please refer to two quotes above – similar concept/feeling.  As an adult to just let go of everything (emotionally at least), and just, even for a tiny little while, to be able to feel Taken Care Of, Protected, Loved (in a way a child lets go and receives – not tinged or overlayed with an adult’s responsibilities and obligations).

“. . . I’m sorry that you’re in pain.  But please don’t tell me what I believe. . . .”

Well, regardless of your state of being, Nobody gets to tell me what I believe, or that what I believe is wrong or crazy.  This does become more tricky when someone else involved is in pain or hurt, but that does not eradicate my beliefs.

“The threat at the supermarket had not taken.

Wu was not surprised.  He had been raised in an environment that stressed the power of men and the subordination of women, but Wu had always found it to be more hope than truth.  Women were harder.  They were unpredictable.  They handled physical pain better — he knew this from personal experience.  When it came to protecting their loved ones, they were far more ruthless.  Men would sacrifice themselves out of machismo or stupidity or the blind belief that they would be victorious.  Women would sacrifice themselves without self-deception.”

Em, yup.  Believe me, I have had and currently have wonderful men in my life.  And I love them dearly, in all kinds of ways.  At the same time, on a practical level, more often than not, women rule and run the world.  We do the hard, boring, dirty, endless, everyday business of life: providing food, clean clothing, clean shelter, the myriad niceties and just generally running interference between them and the big, bad outside world that allow men to lead convenient lives.  And on an interpersonal level, well (WARNING: Profanity Ahead!) pussy rules the world.  Oh, and for those of either gender who are sitting there shaking their heads “no,” just because you don’t Want to believe it, does Not make it untrue.  🙂

” . . . The problem with tragedy is that you have to go on.  There is no choice.  You cannot just pull off the road and wait it out — much as you might want to. . . .”

Right, and Oh How I Have Wanted To!  What a great way to put it too!

“. . . Psychiatrists talk about opening up.  Grace, who has suffered her share of tragedies, is not so sure.  There is, she’s learned, something to be said for denial, for severing and compartmentalizing. . . .”

I’ve learned that too.  Otherwise known as 1) I don’t have to own that problem, and/or 2) I no longer choose to spend the energy it takes to have (insert person here) in my life.  Don’t get me wrong.  I Also think there is value to opening up to things and people.  But a balance needs to be maintained, and choices about who and what to include in one’s life need to be made consciously, with one’s own happiness being the first and most important consideration.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Book Excerpts: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

*****P.S. I Love You

” . . . She had felt relief, . . . She felt relieved to have known him, to love him and to be loved by him, . . .”

Strange, an odd way to put it, to be sure.  And yet, it makes sense to me, it speaks to me.

” He was the drill sergeant of his own body, screaming at and punishing himself every time he lapsed into human mode.  But he did it to himself, and the sad thing was that he thought he was better off than everyone else for it.”

I sometimes resemble that remark, find myself falling into that trap.  It seems somewhere vacillating between virtuous and arrogant, but it’s really not very self-loving.

“Days went by when she felt so happy and content and confident that her life would be OK, and then as quickly as the feeling came it would disappear again, and she would feel her sadness setting in once more.”

Been there, felt that – more than once – and having nothing to do with losing a loved one.  I’ve seen (and will likely continue to see) this one step forward-two steps back pattern in my continued post-cancer life.

“Deep down, she knew it was normal to feel like this, she didn’t particularly think she was losing her mind.  She knew that people said that one day she would be happy again and that this feeling would just be a distant memory.  It was getting to that day that was the hard part.”

Losing a loved one – dealing with cancer: potato – potahto.

” . . . she cried for herself with big, thick, heaving sobs that hurt her ribs whenever she tried to catch her breath.”

Okay, this one I do remember from grieving someone I love certainly (and maybe a time or two of cancer self-pity too).

This is another book that I, unfortunately, couldn’t finish.  In this case, however, it is because I saw the movie before reading the book, loved the movie (it actually makes my short list of movies I like to have on for company if I’m puttering around my house), but significant changes were made in the screenplay vs. the original book, which just no longer did the deal for me.  Hence, I grabbed a few quotes (above) and moved on with my life.  🙂

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

A Slender Thread by Katharine Davis: Chapter Heading Word Definitions

*****

A Slender Thread

Even though I couldn’t finish this book, I love what the author did with the chapter heading word definitions.  Aside from the cleverness of interlacing the chapter heading words with the title with the theme of the book (admittedly so), they spoke to me on a more general life level (especially since I’m a knitter – a fiber artist – and had previously gotten tangentially interested in weaving), so I’m sharing them ‘cuz maybe they might speak to you too.

(Chapter 1) Weave: Make cloth by interlacing threads on a loom.

(Chapter 2) Loom: A device to hold warp threads taut so that the weft threads can be woven under or over them.

(Chapter 3) Castle: The largest upright part of the loom.

(Chapter 4) Warp: Threads running vertically in weaving.

(Chapter 5) Weft: Horizontal Threads interlaced through the warp of a fabric.

(Chapter 6) Tenterhooks: The hooks on a tenter, the framework for stretching wool to prevent shrinkage after it has been washed.  When one is under tension, one is “on tenterhooks.”

(Chapter 7) Threading hook: Long skinny hook for threading warp.

(Chapter 8) Thread: Fine cord of two or more filaments twisted together.

(Chapter 9) Web: Woven cloth, but also the cloth remaining on the loom.

(Chapter 10) Shed: Open space between upper and lower warp threads.

(Chapter 11) Yarn: A continuous strand of twisted thread.

(Chapter 12) Draft: Map of the pattern to be woven.

(Chapter 13) Spin: Twist fibers into thread.

(Chapter 14) Spinster: A woman employed at spinning.

(Chapter 15) Woolgatherer: A person who wandered through the fields gathering tufts of wool left on low branches from the sheep that had been grazing there.  To woolgather is to indulge in fanciful daydreams.

(Chapter 16) Texere: Latin for “to weave,” from which the English word “text” is derived.

(Chapter 17) Shuttle: Tool that carries the weft threads through the shed.

(Chapter 18) Boat shuttle: A shuttle resembling a boat.

(Chapter 19) Loose ends: A woven piece not properly tied off.

(Chapter 20) Tapestry: A woven cloth, sometimes depicting a story.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.