Thursday, December 30, 2010

The New Year

Only two more days until the new year and, heck, I'm actually excited.

If people had said to me months ago that 2011 would be a good year for me, I'd have answered in anger, 'How can it be a good year when it's my first one without my husband?'

2010 was supposed to be a good year too. Craig sent me flowers to my work in the middle of January - the first time he ever did that. I remember my coworkers teasing me about what he could possibly have done wrong since it wasn't my birthday or an anniversary or anything.

I still carry the card he sent with those flowers in my purse everywhere I go. This is what it says:

"Hey babe, just a little thanks for all your hard work over the past few years with school and work, helping me through them both. More recently I wanted to thank you for Christmas and taking care of me when I wasn't feeling good. I know 2010 will be a great year and I look forward to sharing it with you as we work toward acheiving our new goals (when I achieve the spelling). Love, Craig"

I remember how those words stung so much after he died. So much for a great year. So much for spending it together. So much for 'acheiving' our goals.

But time has marched on and life has changed.

This year was nothing like I could have predicted, not in a million years. It had so many low moments, the lowest of my life. So much heartache, so much suffering, so much pain.

It also had some of the greatest moments of my life. Moments that caught me entirely off-guard, bringing laughter and joy I never thought I could feel again.

And it's because of those moments I look forward to this next year. This will be another year of changes for me, both big and small. My life will be unrecognizeable yet again, at this time next year, compared to where I am sitting today.

This time I look forward to change. I embrace it. Because I know that with change comes life.

And there is nothing I want more than to live my life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is God at Fault?

I cannot think of a single person who, when faced with horribly tragic circumstances, would not think to themselves or shout out loud, 'How can God do this to me?' or 'How could God let this happen?'

In the face of unimaginable pain and suffering, we often take one of two paths: We blame God or we blame ourselves.

It is easy to look at the man dying of lung cancer and think if only he had not smoked, this would never have happened. Or to look at the young woman who dies of heart disease and say, well, she was just so overweight. Or perhaps the youth killed in a car accident and think, you know how reckless these young drivers are. He was probably talking on his cell phone or speeding.

To explain away pain and suffering in this world as the fault of the sufferer is to justify our own actions. It could never happen to us because we would never do that. I am safe because I will never ... overeat, smoke, drive recklessly. But this justification is hollow and empty and only possible if you are untouched by tragedy. We are raised in a culture that says bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. If you pray hard enough or are kind enough or go to church on Sundays, God will take care of you. If you are bad, you will be punished.

Then one day tragedy strikes. And regardless of the circumstances, we think, what have I done to deserve this? Those of you who have read my blog regularly know I have struggled with this one myself. If there is some lesson I must learn, why couldn't I have learned it sooner to spare Craig's life? If only I had woken him up better that morning, or stalled him with a phone call, or convinced him we should live somewhere else... where you find survivors, you will find an overwhelming feeling of guilt.

Often that guilt and anger becomes deflected outwards and upwards. Where was God in this? How could he sit by and do nothing? Many well meaning but misguided christians will say, this is part of God's plan as a way of explaining away the unexplainable. They will follow up with, 'God needed him now more than you do' which only says, if you had needed him more, he wouldn't be dead (and back to the guilt). Still others will say this is part of some great tapestry that you cannot simply understand and your suffering is somehow an act of martyrdom - you should feel honored to suffer so. After all, God never gives us more than we can handle, right?

But I reject all these notions, as I suspect most others do who suffer.

Because to believe these things mean that I could no longer believe in God. If He is trying to teach me a lesson, what lesson could possible justify someone's death? And what could God possibly need Craig so desperately for that I didn't? And just look at any marriage that falls apart after the death of a child or the widow who cannot bear the pain and hides from the world and you will see that God either does give us more than we can handle or is just terrible at predicting the amount we can handle. And if this suffering is just a part of some master plan of His, that means He brought Craig into this world and into my life only to intentionally kill him in such a violent and painful way, causing so much suffering and pain to his family and to me. What kind of a God is that? Surely not one I would want to know.

But I have pondered and questioned and agonized over these things and slowly come to a few rather important conclusions.

God is not all powerful.

At least not in the way we traditionally think He is. Up there on His throne with a magic wand, able to cure any disease, arbitrarily deciding who will die and who will not, who will suffer and who will not, who He will punish and who gets a reward.

He was able to create the Heavens and the Earth and bring so much order out of so much chaos. He created Man - a beautifully balanced mixture of animal and Himself. But He endowed Man with a gift no other living creature had - freedom. Unlike animals, we are not preprogrammed. We have the right to choose. And in giving us this choice, God has limited Himself. He cannot interfere - it would break His own rules and violate the very foundation of our life on this planet. God must work within the confines of nature and the rules He Himself created.

This means that he no more 'gives' us diseases or car accidents or suffering than he forces us to love him or be perfect and good and holy. To allow us the freedom to choose goodness, he must also allow us the freedom to choose evil.

Pain and suffering exist because they are a part of this world. Craig did not die because God wanted him dead that day at that moment. God's desire for Craig's life is much the same as His desire for all our lives - for them to be happy, fulfilled, and enjoyed with a close relationship to Him. When we suffer and hurt, it hurts Him. What parent would not be moved to tears by the suffering of their own child?

But to step in and intervene, to force Craig's car magically out of harm's way, would have broken His own rules. Craig did not die as a part of God's plan. He died simply because we humans have the right to choose between what is right and what is wrong and another human simply chose wrong - to drive when he was too tired to do so. The part that lead to Craig dying as a result of that was a frightening mix of chance and bad luck.

And after all, isn't that what scares us the most? That we are all vulnerable, all susceptable? Craig could have just as easily be anyone. If it is all random, and all chance, than any one of you could have been the one who died or the one who lost their spouse or the one who lost their child. There is nothing you can do to earn a life of protection and invincibility. This quote sums up perfectly what I am trying to say:

"God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws. The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for misbehaviour, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God's part. Because the tragedy is not God's will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are." - Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Strangely, this brings me comfort rather than fear. God does not promise to protect us from pain, rather He promises to be there for us when pain happens in our lives. He will walk with us, hold us, wipe the tears from our eyes. When He physically cannot, He sends other people to do it on his behalf.

That is a God I can love and know.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


One of the things most grief counsellors or experts will tell you is that two things in your life will take an enormous hit when your spouse dies:

1. Your focus

2. Your self esteem

Well I am living, breathing proof of both.

I am trying desperately to finish up the accounting courses I am taking right now so I can have my Accounting Certificate by Christmas (Craig would be so proud I FINALLY finished after almost 4 years).

Classes end with finals on Saturday.

Now I used to be a good student. 4.0 GPA. Obsessive compulsive about homework. Best in class (side note: I had an instructor in college who stamped the papers of the top 3 students in her class on each assignment... I don't think I need to tell you how fanatical I was about this).


Not so much.

It takes me twice as long to learn half as much. My focus has gone out the window (I am taking my umpteenth study break of the day to write this... oh look shiny keys!) and I simply cannot seem to retain what I read anymore. It's hopeless.

And of course this leads to the second problem: self-esteem takes a nose dive.

School was the one thing I was good at. Sports - I'm too clumsy. Singing - couldn't carry a tune to save my life. Home repairs - I'm more likely to hit myself with a hammer than any nail.

School was kind of my one thing.

And now I don't even have that.

I feel smart... s-m-r-t.

Can I put this on the list of things from my Before Life that I would like to have back? I feel it's only fair.

And then I'll never ask for anything again.




Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Notes from the Past

I have grief group tonight and need to do a 'Show and Tell'. At first I thought, 'Cool! I get to talk about Craig uninterrupted for 5 - 8 minutes!' Then the reality started to sink in - I need to BRING something and talk about it and tell the story of Craig's life in a mere 5 minutes using only one or two photos or objects. Sh*t.

I panicked.

I was supposed to do it last week and crapped out, not even going to grief group. I am a lousy widow.

This week I figure I have to, no matter what. So I hunted and hunted to find something to use to tell the group about my Craig. Doesn't help half my stuff is still packed (can't even find the damn box with all our wedding photos... what the hell!) but I did manage to find some old notes. Thought I'd throw a few passages up here since they cheered me up so much.

(Once again, spelling and grammar were left as-is on purpose)

"I was telling Bobby about how I didn't place at the Taekwondo tournament. I said to him how I felt it was alright to be imperfect. Then he was like "Oh my God, my life is over; Im going to cut my wrists, Craigs not perfect, That was the only Thing I believed IN."


"Hey you. I know you have had a rough Year with work, school, family and supposed friends, so I thought I would just remind you (Not that you forget things) that I will always be here for you. After all, whos going to be your backup when you get kicked out and your friend steals your bag. Sorry I cant give you a University Degree in Management or Science, but I'll let you use my computer. :)

PS 'In a world that keeps on pushing me around, but I stand my Ground, and I wont back down.' - Tom Petty"


"First of all I just want to say I Love you. Second your my wife and I think your great. If I had all the riches in the world, you would still be the best thing in my life. Your my buddy and nothing can take that away.

Even if we dont get the jobs that everyone knows we diserve because we have no education and look like twelve year olds, we can enjoy the time we have together just being with one another.

We at some point will look back on this and say 'those were the tough years but we made it." We are both blessed to have found two of the few (Thats poetic for me and you.)"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Today I was attacked by Cujo. You know Cujo. That stupid, evil, rabid dog of Stephen King's imagination.

Apparently he's real.

Let me set the stage:
Miserable widow up waaaaay too early after a night (scratch that, several weeks) of minimal sleep. All she wants is a nice hot cup of tea and some breakfast.

Widow has recently moved into a basement suite with, what might be, the world's worst neighbours living upstairs. Ah the sweet, sweet smell of pot constantly eminating through the vents along with a lingering hue of cigarette smoke always hovering in the air. My sinuses have never hurt so much in my life.

And naturally, Evil Neighbours also have... you guessed it... Evil Dog. Pitbull, of course. It barks, it's ugly, I want to throw snowballs at it. But I don't. I refrain. I try very, very hard to ignore it. Love all God's creatures, even the evil ones.

So I'm in my basement suite kitchen, newly made cup of tea in one hand, tuna sandwich in the other (yes, I eat tuna sandwich for breakfast... don't judge me). In the upper corner of the kitchen is a small-ish window that does not have curtains. The window just looks out into the fenced-in backyard, so who cares.

Well I happen to glance up and who has their face pressed right up to the glass with Satan's expression written across his ugly face?

Freaking Cujo the pitbull.

My scream was so high pitched I'm pretty sure only dogs could hear. Which is probably why he jumped almost as high as I did and took off.

Tea goes flying.

Tuna sandwich lands face down with a splat.

Widow has a heart attack.

Bloody Cujo. I hate that dog.

Am now sneaking upstairs to build a snowfort in the yard that I can bury Cujo in where he won't be heard from again until spring.

Which in this weather might not be for a few more years.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Gift of Life

"Grief can destroy you --or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it.

But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it.

The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time. You're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life." — Dean Koontz (Odd Hours)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

"To live every day as if it has been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to."

Just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and let me just say... wow. It is so beautifully written. And so amazing. Screw Marley and Me, this is a REAL book for dog lovers. Or human lovers. Or just anyone who has ever loved anything.

I won't give too much away but the book essentially follows the life of a young man, a race car driver named Denny, as he falls in love with and marries his soul mate, Eve. Eve grows ill and passes away and he is locked into a painful and difficult custody battle for his daughter with his in-laws. All this is written from the perspective of his dog, who slowly ages and ventures forth into his own death.

The dog's narrative on life, death, pain, sorrow, grief... it is incredible and inspiring. The entire story is woven beautifully around the central theme of continuing the fight. The constant struggle, the pain, the adversity - and that sheer strength of will to keep going, no matter what. To fight and fight and fight, even when you think you have nothing left.

To refuse to give in.

It captured so perfectly how I have felt since Craig's death. The sorrow, the despair, that feeling that there is no hope left.

But you keep fighting and you keep struggling and you keep putting one foot in front of the other. When you think you have nothing left, no strength, not even the thinnest thread of it left, you still manage to find that one last piece to make that one next step. And then the next. And then the next.

And out of nowhere you are rescued by circumstance. People who drop into your life unexpectly, saving you right when you need it. Funds from nowhere when you are down to your last $0.14. Things clicking into place in a way you had not even considered possible.

And slowly that trudge onwards turns into a journey worth walking. Just as the opening quote says, you begin to live your life as though it is stolen from death. As though it is worth living. Because it is. You embrace the joy wherever you can, you refuse to allow your life to be dictated by the pain of grief and the fear of death.

The mantra of this book is that the car goes where the eyes go. And this couldn't be more true.

If you look forward, eyes never straying from where you want to be, rather than where you have been, you will find yourself inevitably moving in that direction.

This is key.

Look forward, focus on where you want to go and how you want to finish. Do not let yourself be distracted by what has happened in your rearview mirror. Be wary of what is going on around you, mindful of the other drivers, but stay focused on the direction you want to travel to.

And slowly, but surely, that is the way you will go.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

8 Months

Hi Craiggie, it's me. Your little Sal.

It's been 8 months since you disappeared. Funny that. It feels more like 8 years. It also feels like it was just last week. Remember when I couldn't even get out of bed? Day after day, sitting on the couch with TA, staring vacantly at the Food Network, of all things. You'd think I'd have learned to cook something from it, right?

I barely remember those first weeks. They are one long blur. All I remember is the pain. And thinking it would never, ever get better.

I remember wishing I could just have died with you. Because it felt like I did. All those crazy drives out to the hill at all hours of the day and night. Wishing, just wishing, somebody would hit me. But wanting to die and wanting to kill yourself are not the same thing.

I thought I would suffocate from wanting you. That's what it felt like. Like I couldn't breathe. Just you, all the time, in and out.

I was so angry with you. For leaving me. For not saying goodbye. For not getting out of bed that morning. For not telling me you loved me. For not giving me the chance to say it back. I know it's not your fault and there was nothing you could do but sometimes you just need someone to be mad at.

But things change.

It's not that time heals our wounds.

We just find a way to live with the pain.

And I'm finding ways.

I sold our house and moved. That was hard. Our home. It was so perfect, wasn't it? I know I never said so, but man do I think it now. I'll probably miss it more than you. I took lots of pictures though. Just like when we left the apartment. They weren't as good as the ones you took though. No Craig making goofy faces standing next to the tv while it played the Magic Bullet commercial. Damn, I was in such a pissy mood that day. And you made me laugh so hard with those ridiculous photos. Just like always.

I survived court. I did what you wanted. I made peace with it. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I thought I was going to be sick standing up there, telling all those strangers about out life together. And that man. That poor man. He looked like someone turned him inside out, chewed him up, and spat him back onto the ground. He looked how I felt. He's sorry you know. Well. You probably knew long before I did.

I got back into school. Finishing that accounting certificate I've been working on since forever. I wish you were here for that one. You did all this stuff already. All these nights I've wished you were here to help me study. You were so much smarter than I ever gave you credit for. Than anyone ever gave you credit for.

I got winter tires on the car. I figured now you'd probably approve. I know they wouldn't have done you much good, but still. And today it snowed but I'm still too scared to take the car out, even with them. Now I'm the one who is afraid to die. Imagine that.

I've been doing the work, baby. Grief work. That's what they call it. I talk about you all the time, even when nobody listens. I go to grief groups. I go to counseling. It's not the same as talking to you though. You would be the best counselor I could ask for. But you aren't here. But still. I keep trying.

I started playing again. Music. I forgot how much I loved it. Sometimes when you get the notes just right, and the tone is just perfect, it's like creating a life of your own. I hope you can hear it, wherever you are. I know how much you loved to hear me play.

I have a lot to do still, though. Your ashes. Your clothes. Your books. So many things. It took me this long, but I have a plan now. I just have to put it into action. I know you'll love it.

I miss you, you know.

So much more than I thought possible.

It just feels like I've lost this part of myself. Not just a limb or something. But like a whole half of my body.

All these years together, all these memories. We really were best friends, weren't we? I miss that most, you know. My buddy. Our whispering and giggling and how I could talk to you about absolutely anything. And you'd get it. You always got it.

But it's been 8 months now.

And I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And sometimes I laugh. And sometimes I cry. But not as much as those first days. Not by a long shot.

But I never stop thinking about you.

And I never will.

I miss you, Friend.

So much.

Hope you're okay, wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm A What?!?

Newsflash: I'm a widow. With a capital 'W'.

Did you know?

I didn't.

As weird as it sounds, I haven't felt like a widow since Craig's accident. The first few months I'd have kicked anyone's arse who tried to call me one, muttering obscenities under my breath and shouting something to the effect of, "I'm not a widow! I'm married, my husband just isn't here right now."

Never quite got a handle on the 'single' tag either. For some reason this alludes to all sorts of adjectives that I haven't been in a decade and, therefore, couldn't possibly be now.

But I started going to a spousal grief support group last week. The first one was a little rocky, but last night's was much better. We broke into smaller groups which was great for me since it let me talk a lot more. And you know how I love to talk.

But it was the first time I felt like I actually fitted into a group. Like I actually belonged somewhere.

And then it hit me.

I'm a widow.

I. Am. A. Widow.



Yeah, you'd think it would have occurred to me at some point already, but for some reason it was just a word. I never felt like it was ok to be sad or cry or grieve. I'm 26 for crying out loud, who loses someone that young? Only old people are widows, not me.

But there it was, last night, steamrolling over me.

I am a widow.

Craig's widow.

I get to be sad.

I get to miss him.

I get to grieve.

I even get to act a little nuts sometimes.

It's ok.

This is me now. I don't have to hurry up and get over it or pretend I'm ok for everyone else. I'm allowed to be sad.

I thought it would be more depressing for this realization to hit me, but for some reason it was liberating. A huge relief.

If other people don't get it or are made uncomfortable by it, oh well.

Deal with it.

I'm a widow.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm One Wonky Puzzle Piece

Being the anal retentive/control freak/organizational wizard that I am, there is almost nothing I love more than sitting down and finishing one hell of a puzzle.

I'm talking thousands of itty bitty pieces, some horribly complex building as a picture, so big it fills the whole table and the better part of a weekend.

But nothing drives me crazier than finding that one wonky piece that got bent the last time you tossed everything into the box.

You can bend it back, but it never quite goes flat again and good luck ever making it fit its neighbours just right again. Everything else is smooth and perfect but that damn piece - it just sticks out like sore thumb.

I feel like that piece.

When the rest of my friends are talking diapers and engagement rings, I think about nothing but ashes and car accidents.

I am supposed to be in my 20s here. One of those decades you want to recount and relive for the rest of your life.

Not bloody likely.

I hate that I can't relate to my twenty-something friends anymore. I hate that the things we used to laugh and giggle about I just don't understand anymore. I hate that I feel completely left behind.

And good luck fitting into the 'Widow Club'. Even in my 'Young Spousal' group I am the youngest, by at least a decade. When the rest of the widows are talking pension plans and grandchildren I'm still fixated on whether I'll get to have babies one day and how I'm going to pay off my student loan.

There isn't anywhere I fit in anymore.

I'm a wonky puzzle piece that just won't lie flat.

Damn you, Craig, for being my best friend for 10 years and then disappearing when I need you most. Damn you.

You were the one place I always fit.

Because right now, I know we would be wonky together.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Brand New Apartments

When Craig and I first moved out together we rented this tiny little apartment on the third floor of a complex in a less-than-desireable area of town.

It wasn't cozy, it was cramped. One of those places where you can only have one person in the kitchen at any one time. And you can't open a lower cupboard and the fridge or dishwasher at the same time.

None of our things fit, we had to sleep on the tiniest bed (translation: I like to sprawl and Craig woke up many a night with my foot in his ribs or elbow in his eye... although in my defense, he snored an awful lot and, therefore, I feel, had it coming).

And every month or so some homemade chef with a bad case of the munchies would burn their batch of 'special brownies' at 2 am, setting the fire alarms off, and causing a mass evacuation in the midst of a blizzard.

Ah, the good times.

Eventually I couldn't handle it any more and begged and pleaded until Craig gave in and we moved into our current home. I could not have been happier to see that place in my rearview mirror.

It struck me as so odd that Craig insisted on going around taking photos of the apartment right before we moved. He later explained to me that he had enjoyed the misery of our little apartment, that he loved that we would have this to compare everything to for the rest of our lives, and that we could tell our kids the story of how we survived this place much in the same way our fathers bragged about walking 20 miles to school, uphill both ways.

Given the proximity of that apartment to our new home, we often ended up driving by the complex on the way to and from work. Whenever they were renting they would put up balloons and a sign. Given Calgary's low vacancy rate in recent years, the sign wasn't up that often. But when it did show up, it proudly declared:

"BRAND NEW apartments! Now renting!"

For some reason, this struck me and Craig as utterly hilarious. For starters, the place was hardly as shiny and bright as the sign optimistically made it out to be. The walls had a special I've-been-smoked-in hew and the carpet had that wonderful most-frequently-used-path worn out between the couch and refridgerator. And lets not forget the broken glass strewn throughout the parking lot from many a midnight drunken escapade courtesy of our colorful neighbours.

But the real kicker had to be the 'BRAND NEW' part of that sign. They weren't anything close to new when we lived there five years ago so I'm not exactly sure how they managed to get away with this generous little adjective.

Whenever we would drive by and the sign was up, we would try to beat the other to the punch and shout, "BRAND NEW!" at the top of our lungs. Inevitably we would both crack up, howling with laughter over that ridiculous sign.

Well I guess the Calgary housing crunch is easing slightly because that dang sign has been up more and more lately. And no matter what my mood is, who I'm with, or what I'm talking about the very sight of it is enough to bring on a tidal wave of grief.

I hate that we had so many more fun times together that we'll never get to experience.

We'll never laugh at that sign again and no matter how well I might explain the joke, nobody else will ever find it as funny as we did.

And I do so miss our jokes.

I miss the way we would laugh and laugh until we cried.

I miss how Craig would act do or say anthing, keeping at it relentlessly, just to make me smile.

I miss my buddy.

I miss my friend.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Train Whistle

This week I survived moving.

Nobody likes moving. It's tedious, time consuming, and dirty. I discovered dust bunnies behind bookshelves the size of a small dog and grime behind my stove that had to be scraped off with a spatula.

And don't even get me started on the lifting. Me = no muscles. Apparently.

But with a lot of help, I did it, and it is more or less done (for now).

Unfortunately, packing up my life was every bit as heartbreaking as I thought it would be. Possibly even worse. The first few days at the new place I didn't do much more than cry and holler and yell. There is something about taking all the things that make up your life and shoving them into boxes that is unsettling and just a little bit sad.

Of course I had the added challenge of deciding what to keep and what to throw away.

Now, I am an avid declutterer. I hate clutter. And knick-knacks. And things that don't have a proper place. It's the CDO (which is basically like OCD but all the letters are in alphabetical order where they belong).

Anyway, as a natural part of the decluttering and packing I had to throw or give away a large number of Craig's things. Some I have absorbed permanently into my life and will be staying, but many others were given away to the Salvation Army or family members who wanted them. Clothes, shoes, toiletries, gadgits, whatsits, you name it. Some things I would have fought and screamed to keep months ago I was able to let go without much more than a minor twinge of guilt.

Now as with most packing, sometimes you just get to the end of a week of it, you are sick of it, and you can't stand to see even one more piece of bloody bubble wrap. So I had a couple boxes where I pretty much just chucked whatever was in my drawer into the box and voila! All done!

Well I finally started unpacking some of those last night (in the hunt for earrings - long story, apparently I have fat ear lobes) and came upon something I forgot I even had.

Craig's train whistle.

I have no idea where or when he got this thing. Probably on some family trip or from a relative as a gift. I'm not even sure he remembered. He showed it to me a couple years ago when he was cleaning out some boxes. It's one of those little children's wooden whistles that you blow on and it sounds like a train.

Of course I teased him that he had a toy for little kids (we'll just ignore the dolls action figures thing here). But of course it didn't take long for me to start playing around with it.

If I was bored and wanted Craig to come entertain me, I would blow on the whistle.

If I was having a rough day and wanted a hug, I would blow on the whistle.

If Craig was getting to wrapped up in his studies and I felt he needed a break, I would blow on the whistle.

If I felt ignored for video games or the computer, I would blow on the whistle.

If we were having a serious moment or argument and I wanted to break the tension, I would blow on the whistle.

If I just wanted Craig to come to me, I would blow on the whistle.

And he always did.

It became a sort of secret code with us. No matter what was going on or what we were doing, if I blowed on that whistle he would drop whatever he was doing and come to me.


Something in me broke when I saw that whistle in that cardboard box.

Because now when I blow on it, he won't come to me.

All the train whistles in the world won't make him come running.

These are the little things that break you.

Day after day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Finality of Rock

Craig's tombstone is finally in place.

Technically it is a monument, out of rock. I suppose this makes it fitting since Craig's name originates from 'crag', which actually means 'rock'. I always used to tell him that he was my rock, my Craig.

Only this rock is not my Craig.

It is not the one I would have chosen for him.

And it breaks my heart.

He does not belong inscribed on some piece of marble, his photograph and two sets of dates all that is left to tell the world who he is.

If I could, I would have created one for the two of us, not just for him and his parents, so that he and I could be together for eternity just as he promised. I would have used it to tell the world who he really was.

"Here lies Craig Garvin, my beloved, the lover of my soul.
He was taken from us far too soon but even if we had grown old together, as promised, I would still have begged the heavens for just one more day.

He was loved by many, his smile lit up every room he entered, and he meant the world to those that mattered.

Forever and always, my love, I am your beloved and you are mine.
The spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly."

I hate the finality of this piece of rock.

I hate that there is a marker locked away in a cemetary for him.

It just isn't right.

None of this is.

Craig, my love, where did you go?

Come back to me.

Come back.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Glass Wall

So I was chatting away with (okay, kind of babbling to) our pastor this morning and we were talking about how isolating it can be going through something this difficult in your life (grief, loss, illness, etc).

As a general rule, humans avoid pain at all costs. And often times, the people closest to you will avoid you because of it (FYI you can't catch widow).

He asked me if I've felt isolated because of it. Separate from other people in my life.

And then this image pops into my head.

It's like being one one side of a glass wall and everyone else you know is on the other side. And the glass is half-frosted and smudgy and you can't quite see through it. It's all hazy on your side and you can just see the shapes of the people on the other side, their outlines, that they are milling about in a large crowd.

And you are shouting as loudly as you can for them to look at you, to see you, to understand you. You are trying to make them notice you and hear what you are saying, to understand what it is you are going through and how profound and life changing it is. You can't help but wonder to yourself, why can't they hear me? Why aren't they looking up? I have had this enormous thing happend in my life, that is all-consuming, and now see the entire world in a whole new light. How can they not as well?

But the glass is soundproof.

And difficult to see through.

And they haven't even noticed you shouting, all this time.

So they don't even look up.

And then you realize, there is no way to make them understand. No matter how eloquent your words, how clever your analogies, how carefully you explain it... they simply cannot cross over to your side and understand until they have experienced this kind of pain and loss firsthand.

It is very lonely on the other side of that wall.

It's just you, alone in your thoughts. Your life is changed forever and you want desperately to bring everyone with you but it is a journey you must make alone.

And then out of the nowhere, someone else pops onto your side of the glass. Sometimes for just a few minutes, sometimes someone you don't even know. But they are there. And for just that little blessed while, they get it. They understand the hurt. They are hurting too.

I have been very fortunate to have a few people on my side of the wall. A friend from 8 years ago who lost his son and mother, who understood what hurt really is. He was only here for a couple months, but having someone who finally got it made all the difference in the world.

And today my pastor, going through his own heartache, truly understood and stood on my side of the glass with me.

I hate that they have to hurt so much to understand.

But I am just so grateful to have that person there with me, even if it's only for a short while.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The World of Dreams

It's 3:00 a.m. and I can't sleep.


Something Craig did once, some repressed memory, just popped into my head in the middle of a dream and woke me up. You know those incredibly lucid dreams where you actually acknowledge that it's just a dream while you are still in it? One of those.

Reminds me of that movie, Inception (not a good one for the newly widowed by the way). If you haven't seen it, I'm totally giving away the ending here so avert your eyes if you don't want to know.

Basically they have a way of creating a world that someone else can dream in so they can talk to that person (or essentially their subconscious) to find out all kinds of things. I am probably butchering this a little but the main character is so distraught over the death of his wife that his subconscious keeps pulling her into every dream world he enters, trying to find a way to be with her as long as possible. Only it's not really her, just a manifestation of his memories and feelings about her.

Needless to say, the concept is one I can relate to. Who wouldn't want to find a way to bring their loved one back to life, even if it was just the shadow of them?

Yes, I was that loud and annoying movie-goer who sobbed through this entire movie in the theatre.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before but I have been unable to really dream about Craig since the accident. I hear from other widows all the time that they have amazing dreams about their spouses, sometimes every night. That they see them, touch them, talk to them every night when they sleep. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hit with a little stab of jealousy every time I hear this. I've only had 2 dreams with Craig in them and they were quite early on and not particularly comforting.

In one he came back to me as a corpse after I had frantically been looking for him and he wouldn't react or move or even speak to me except to tell me that he really was dead. All the while I frantically tried to get the attention of the police officers to show them they were wrong. I kept shouting, 'Look! He's really here! He really is alive! I told you that you had the wrong body.'

In another, I saw him at the scene of the accident and he was battered and bloodied and reaching for me and all I could do was scream and try to get the blood and broken glass off my arms.

Yes, I have issues.


Anyway, even in the dream that woke me up tonight I did not see Craig. Merely remembered something from years and years ago. My subconscious clearly at work, trying to piece something together.

Even in our dreams we are haunted, I guess.

Monday, September 27, 2010

26 Candles

For those of you close to me you know how much I had been dreading my birthday. I didn't want to 'celebrate', I didn't want any reminders, I didn't want to mark the day at all. I wished nothing more than to pretend it did not exist or have it disappear at once into the past.

The very mention of it was enough to choke me up.

Let me explain why.

For the first time in my life, I am now as old as Craig. By this time next year, I will officially be older than him. The year after that I will be older still. And so on and so forth.

For this reason my birthday grieves me more than his did, more than our anniversary did, more than any other occaision.

I dread aging. Not for the reasons other people do (although I will cling to my youth as long as humanly possible like the rest of us) but because it is a sharp and painful reminder: My life will continue on and Craig's will not.

I will age and grow older without him, while he remains forever frozen in time - the 26 year old husband and lover of my youth.

Time marches forward unforgivingly. My future will barrel onwards, neither slowing nor stopping to align with the abrupt halting of his.

It is a painful and suffocating loss.

I cannot hold onto him forever. I cannot bring him with me. There will only ever be a greater and greater distance between us.

So for those of you who wondered at the strangeness of my requests or disinterest in doing much of anything, this is why. I apologize to the people I didn't see and for my lack of enthusiasm. I greatly appreciate all the cards, gifts, and well wishes. I really do.

Just know that this is why it was a painful day for me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Front Line

Upon widowhood, the people in your life immediately split into three factions.

The first, the DGI (Don't Get It) Masses. They seem to be the most prevalent but this is likely just a trick of the mind - they seem to crowd around you the most simply because they are so damn memorable. They often are too busy thinking of themselves or how they feel to bother being concerned with what comes out of their mouths. They pop up all over the place - at the grocery store, at work, at home, even at the bloody funeral.

*Said in a spooky whisper* I see DGI's. They are everywhere. And they don't even know they are dumb.

I won't get into all the entertainingly ignorant things said to me over the last six months - they are too many to count and most deserve their very own post. So lets move on.

The second faction, which is actually larger (instead of just seeming so) are the Indifferent Masses. These are the crowds of acquaintances, friends, neighbours, family, coworkers, and random strangers who are so moved to discomfort at the idea of death (particularly their own) that they avoid you at all costs.

These are the ones who have not bothered to call, email, or stop by even once in the last six months. 'It's not my place' they tell themselves. 'I don't know what to say' they insist. Many of them I have even begged to help me, suggesting words or actions that would bring comfort, but they have refused with their silence. In truth, they are merely scared and choose their distant comfort over the possibility of a few awkward moments. Or perhaps they have just forgotten that car accidents are not contagious.

They are perhaps the most hurtful because their distance shouts that they care so very little for me and what I am going through.

The third group is one that does not get nearly enough recognition. They are brave, they are uncomfortable, they are willing to risk a few tears and an ever-running nose. This tiny handful of friends, that my counsellor refers to as 'the front line', have been there every day. They are the ones who call even if they have nothing to say. The ones who stop by just to make sure I'm not shutting myself up and hiding from the world. The ones who give up their time and peace of mind to be sad with me when I am incapable of anything else or to cheer me up when I need it.

They run errands, take care of paperwork, drag me out of the house, make me laugh, let me act strangely, forgive my widda brain, and never once make me feel like I am anything but their Emily, loved just as much as I ever was. They do not judge my actions but merely support me in what makes me happy, knowing just how fragile that happiness is. They cannot possibly understand but do everything they can to try to. They see me at my worst and are genuinely happy in the moments when I am at my best, because they are the few who can truly recognize the difference.

I wish there was some way to recognize them or pay them back in full. In a world where indifference reigns supreme and people so easily slide in and out of your life, they are treasured gifts. And I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

So today I just wanted to say, hugs and love to all the 'front line' out there.

May you be blessed beyond measure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The La-Z-Boy

Last Christmas Craig bought himself this gorgeous leather La-Z-Boy recliner. He loved it and wouldn't let anyone else sit in it (if he caught me sneaking in there, he'd give me a hard time for wrecking his butt groove).

He only had it a couple months before he died so it's pretty much brand new, mint condition. I've been planning to sell it for some time since I never use it and it just takes up space in my already cramped living room.

A friend of mine came over to help me move it into a spare room to store it for now along with some other boxes.

Fine, no big deal.

I don't know what the hell happened. As soon as we re-adjusted the couches in the living room it was like the chair had never been there. I don't know why, but I burst into tears. All out sobbing, sniffling, you name it.


Just when I thought I was doing ok, not crying every day, making it on my own... something stupid like a chair derails me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stupid House

I want to sell this house. Badly.

Much as I love our little home, I'm tired of the constant reminder while I'm here and I really don't want to endure another winter driving up and down that road Craig died on. I barely survived last winter, don't know if I'd make it through another one.

Problem is, I have no money to buy a new house.

And, currently, no job.

I could rent, but I so hate 'living in transition'. As in, hey, this is not really my house and never will be, but lets pretend for the time being.

Craig and I did this for a couple years with our crappy apartment (500 square feet of less-than-fun accommodations) and lets just say we practically danced down the steps when we finally moved out of there.

Oh, and that reminds me, did I mention how much I can't stand moving? Too much work. All the boxes and the dust and the newspaper and bubble wrap and the lifting and breaking your back and the trying to find which accursed box your toothbrush is in... ugh. No thanks. Why haven't they invented the teleport yet? It would totally be worth it for moving alone.

For now, the goal is just to get out of here. I would like to have a nice home, a real home. Completely new, totally fresh, without any memories attached.

Time to start buying those lottery tickets, I guess.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

6 Months

Today is my 6 month Sadiversary.

I can't believe it has been that long - half a year already. From this day on I will be closer to the 1 year mark than to the date of the accident.

The 6 month mark is supposed to be some sort of magical date. Many widows say it is when their real grieving starts, noting how much harder the loss hits them around this time. Others have said this is when they began to feel some closure or when they felt comfortable dating again.

For me, it feels no different from yesterday or two weeks ago. It's just another day without Craig.

To 'celebrate' I am heading downtown to the bank to deal with more estate stuff and then I'm off to the lawyer's to deal with more legal stuff.

Yes, 6 months later, it is still a never ending to-do list.


Fortunately I did most of my crying yesterday and the day before.

Maybe today won't be so bad?

Here's hoping.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Relief

It's over. It's finally over.

The other driver pled guilty to the careless driving charge yesterday, saving us the torture of going through a trial.

I was called to court in the afternoon to read my Victim Impact Statement. So much for nerves of steal. More like nerves of Jello. Pretty much thought I was going to vomit. Or worse.

But I did it. Did I cry through the whole thing? You bet. But for once, I managed to cry and talk at the same time (usually an impossibility for me) and strategically wipe my nose on occaision so as not to have snot running down my face. Win and win.

I think everybody was pretty moved in the courtroom, including the judge and the prosecutor. I know in the end it doesn't really affect the other driver's sentencing, but that's ok. I just wanted to have my say, to have the world acknowledge how important Craig is and that it really is a big deal that he died. For the first time since his accident I felt like I got my say and like the world listened. And it felt damn good.

The judge did seem to seriously consider jail time and even adjourned at one point to re-evaluate. In the end he decided not to for a number of reasons I won't get into. In the end, it doesn't matter to me. This man going to jail does not bring Craig back and has absolutely zero impact on my life. If the roles were reversed, and it was Craig who had killed someone, Craig who was facing potential jail time, I would be freaking out. No way would I ever want my husband to suffer like that or to be taken from me. So how would it help anything to take someone else's husband away and make him suffer just because mine is gone?

I did speak with the man (very briefly) afterwards and he begged for forgiveness, apologizing profusely. This is not some jerk who doesn't care and isn't remorseful. He is just another hardworking, average guy who really screwed up. Between getting my say, seeing everyone's reaction, and looking at this man I realized I really do forgive him. It was like all the anger and hatred I had for him just evaporated.

And I have never felt so happy in all my life.

I am so relieved it's finally over and I can move forward.

Nobody else has to suffer, he acknowledged his guilt, nothing more is needed.

So thank you to everyone for the prayers and support. I don't think things could have turned out any better.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear God

I know we haven't been on very good terms lately. I know I've shouted at you, cursed you, screamed that you had abandoned me.

But right now, this minute, I desperately need you.

If you could please find it in your heart to forgive me and take a little bit of pity on me to help me get through this.

Never have I needed you more.

I have to testify. I am unprepared. I am not ready.

But I have to do this.

And it's going to take a miracle for me to get through it.

So please.

Please, please, please, help me get through all four pages without tripping over my words or missing lines.

Help me be clear, concise, and speak from the heart.

Take my words and let them be understood, let them make an impact.

Help me keep from crying (too much) so I don't have to stop or quit part way through.

Help me speak for Craig because he cannot.

I just need to get through this one last piece, and then I can rest.

Your Prodigal Daughter

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Done Like Dinner!

I have finally finished my Victim Impact Statement!

As predicted, I left it until the very last minute where inspiration finally struck, just in the nic (is that how you spell nic?) of time! Am breathing a huge sigh of relief. So glad to be done.

Now if I could just get through even one page of it without breaking down sobbing and having to repeatedly blow my nose. That'd be great.

No more stressing about this for at least a few weeks now. Once it's submitted, I vow to not think about it until I have to. Or at least not think about it constantly all day, every day.

I look forward to the day when all this court stuff is done and behind me and I can finally get on with my life.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I'm having a heck of a time writing my Victim Impact Statement. It's completely stressing me out, I'm pretty sure I'm shedding even more hair than usual.

I have no idea how to start. I hate everything I write.

How do you summarize the impact on your life in a few short pages? How on earth am I supposed to explain and properly capture just how important Craig was to me and how big a hole his absence has left in my world?

I have a million notes, 10 or 15 different paragraphs started. I just can't get it right, though.

I want the judge and the defendant to grasp the enormity of this, of what has happened. I want them to feel how much this hurts, to really get it. The problem is, I don't think I can. I don't think there are enough words in the world to make them understand.

So what the heck am I supposed to do?

I am down to the wire here... just a couple days left to finish it and make it count before it gets submitted.


I can't stop procrastinating.

This is the most important thing I've ever had to write and I've never felt so utterly incapable.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm Allowed To Be Mad

Off to court today to review evidence and prep.

Hey, maybe I'll get really lucky and get to see some gruesome shots of my husband's corpse. Super fun!

Yes, I'm mad.

Yes, I'm bitter.

Yes, I'm angry.

I challenge any person out there to go through this and never feel any of these things. I would like to see the widow who is all grace, happy and smiling, not bothered by her husband being killed.

Show me this widow.

I'd like to meet her.

Because as far as I can tell, I got a crap deal. I had a great husband, who I actually appreciated, which is a heck of a lot more than most people (hence an over 50% divorce rate, I guess). We actually had a good marriage, cared deeply about one another. We were good people.

There is nothing fair about this.

There is no higher purpose.

There is no 'big plan'.

Unless the big plan is to let horrible people have fun and easy lives while good people have to suffer. In which case, what a crap plan.

I'm allowed to be angry that some stupid idiot destroyed my entire life because he was a wee bit tired one day.

I'm allowed to be pissed that the God I followed my whole life decided my husband wasn't worth saving. That God either purposely decided to end my husband's life (and mine for all intents and purposes) in this horribly violent way or He just didn't care enough to pay attention for those two damn seconds it would have taken to save Craig.

I'm allowed to be frustrated with all the stupid people who say stupid things to me because they just can't bother to think before stuff flies out of their mouths. News flash: If you aren't widowed, you have no idea what this is like! Judge not lest you also get the opportunity to be judged - and you better hope you don't.

Sorry I'm not the cutesy, sweet, smiling widow everyone expects.

I'm just me.

And as a human, I have feelings.

Get over it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Widow vs. The Fridge (of Doom)

Today Widow takes on The Fridge (of Doom). Epic battle ensues.

Fridge has been collecting expired bottles of condiments, growing slime, and harbouring hidden foodstuffs for far too long. Widow finally summons the courage and strength of character to take him on.

She comes armed to the teeth: Rubber gloves, bucket of suds, scrub brush, industrial strength garbage bags.

Plan in hand, she begins at the top shelf, set to work her way down.

Shelf 1: Fridge Takes An Early Lead
Widow forgets they are removeable and spends 15 minutes bent at awkward angle, tediously cleaning between each wire in the rack. It is only when she twists away for a breather and gets her cloth stuck (thus jerking said shelf from its hanging) that she remembers this all-important fact. 10 points to Fridge.

Shelf 2: The Cheese Drawer
This time Widow knows better. She removes shelf and attached cheese drawer. She tosses expired dressings and sour cream, washes drawer by hand, is feeling triumphant! When replacing cheeses back into drawer, a small block of cheese falls out of its half-sealed Ziploc bag. Widow reaches for it and unsuspectingly wraps her hand around one mouldy-ass block of havarti. She flings the cheese in disgust, emitting a hoarse scream. She then crawls on her hands and knees to the laundry room where said cheese has landed and must pick it up again, just to throw it out. This time Widow dons gloves. 10 points to Fridge.

Shelf 3: The Glass of Illusion
Third and final shelf, made of glass. Widow is feeling desperate and tired. Stupid Fridge is turning into a beast of a job. Where oh where is faithful husband who always takes care of such things? But Widow has learned and she is clever. She tugs and pries and glass shelf is removed. She cleans it carefully in the sink, extra cautious so as not to drop and shatter it. She is triumphant! 10 points to Widow! However, Widow is baffled when trying to return said glass into intricate and maze-like shelf contraption. She struggles, she shouts, she falls to her knees and curses the heavens! Finally, her father's words echo across her mind, 'When all else fails, use brute force and ignorance. Guaranteed to get results!' Widow decides this is her last hope. She slams said glass back into shelf, where it clicks into place. Victory is mine!!! 10 more points to Widow.

The Final Battle: Fridge Door
Widow removes all condiments, chucking numerous bottles into industrial strength garbage bag - a gift from the heavens. She wipes, she scrubs, she polishes until all surfaces gleam. Pleased, she reachs for door and begins to slide it closed. Much clattering ensues. Widow has forgotten all the bottles she so carefully lined up on the floor, now knocked over by the closing Fridge door and rolling across the kitchen. Much profanity ensues. 10 point deduction to Widow for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Finally all surfaces are clean, Fridge is practically empty. Widow is pleased. But what's this? Why is Fridge silent? Where is the screaching of the motor she is so used to hearing? Where are the whirs, clicks, and grunts normally emitting from its backside? Please God, prays Widow, please let me not have jostled the cord loose. I am but a weak Widow, incapable of pulling it from the wall and plugging it back in. Widow weeps. If Husband was here, this would never have happened.

Then, slowly, quietly, out of the silence Widow hears it... an almost imperceptible click and the gentle purr of the motor returning to life.

Widow leaps to her feet and cheers! 100 points to Widow! Justice has been served!!!

Take that you stupid Fridge.

The Disappeared

Once a woman came to the Buddha, carrying her dead son in her arms. She asked him to have mercy on her, to give her back her son. The Buddha said that he could help her. First, he said, bring me a mustard seed from a family that has never experienced death. The woman searched from home to home. People wanted to help but everyone she met had experienced death - a brother, sister, parent, husband, child. After searching for a long time the woman returned to the Buddha.

He said, Where is your son?

The woman replied, I buried him.

- The Disappeared, by Kim Echlin

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today would have been our fifth anniversary.

5 years ago today, Craig and I stood on a beach in Maui at sunset, and promised each other forever. I love our wedding vows. They were so simple, but so perfect. Today was a good day to crack out the old wedding album and remember what he said (mine were pretty much the same):

"There are no other human ties more tender, no other human vows more sacred, than these I profess this day.

I Craig, take you Emily to be my wedded wife, to live together in holy matrimony. I will love you, comfort you, honor and embrace you, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to you all our married life together. This is my solemn vow.

Emily, I give you this ring as a sign of my love, and with all that I am, and with all that I have, I honor you. Let this be a reminder of all that I have pledged to you today."

When I think about that day I see little flashes. Craig helping me zip my dress in our hotel room. Our bare feet burning in the sand. Our little minister having to stand uphill from us so you couldn't see he was at least a foot shorter in all the photographs. Craig staring so intensely because he was trying so hard not to tear up. Us laughing over the staging of the photographs, how they sucked the romance right out of the moment. The crowd on the beach that gathered and cheered (and the lone woman who broke out 'Another One Bites The Dust' when we finished. Later, when my family asked me what 'our song' was for the funeral, this was the only one that came to mind. Needless to say I thought it a touch inappropriate to use). Going to dinner in our full wedding getup, too giddy to even eat. Falling asleep in a heap, barely making it out of my dress.

One year later Craig took me to the Calgary Tower for dinner to celebrate our first anniversary. I remember the frustration of this, thinking, this man doesn't know me at all! Has he forgotten already I'm terrified of heights!?! He told me that day that when he had taken me up there for one of our first dates, he had looked at me and truly thought I was an angel. That he had never felt so blessed and so loved. That was the day he knew he'd marry me.

And then just last year, for our fourth (and little did I know, final) anniversary Craig took me to buy a proper wedding and engagement ring. When we got married we could afford little more than a cheap and mismatched set (from two different jewellery stores) and he had promised me the most dazzling ring imagineable by our first anniversary. Well, life happened. Bills came, we moved, Craig went to school, we could never quite afford it and never quite got around to it. I had pretty much given up on getting new ones. But he surprised me with a trip to not one, but FIVE jewellery stores that day. We shopped for hours and hours, me trying on everything in every store, him sitting patiently, gently making suggestions, hiding his exasperation when I finally chose the very first ring from the very first store we had gone to.

I love those rings. In all honesty, I'm pretty sure he took me because he couldn't think of anything else to get me for our anniversary. But I don't care. I don't look at those rings and think about how he left these things to the last minute or how it took so long for him to buy them for me. I think about how I didn't have to ask, but he knew and understood how much I wanted them. I think about how much he hated malls and hated shopping and went with me anyway, never complaining, not even once. I think about how for the first time in his life, he was the exact opposite of cheap, how he let me break the bank, and was just damn proud to be able to buy them for me. I think about how much he loved me, for almost a decade, and how he loved me more and more each year. How in the end, we were so happy together, best friends for life, finally at peace in our lives.

It seems unbearably unfair that I only got to wear them for a few months. It seems even more unfair that I only got Craig for a few years.

I cracked out my box of cards (yes, I have kept pretty much every card I've ever been given) and pulled out a few gems from family we received for our wedding. My favourite was from my oldest sister:

"This card is a happy wedding card! Congratulations and may God bless you both, bro and sis. I am so proud to have family like you. You rock! On a more serious note, I have discovered the key to a long and lasting marriage. It appears to be... um... popcorn. It is good for eating and also for throwing at your spouse if he/she does not pick up his/her socks. Keep it handy."

Solid advice. Popcorn fights are waaaaaaaay better (and tastier) than pillow fights, hands down. But to be honest, not the best remedy for socks on the floor.

And of course I pulled out the ones I have gotten from Craig over the last 4 years. I won't include them all, just a couple of my favourites (and yes, these are quoted exactly so I take no credit for the grammatical errors):

"We had a pretty good year. Good vacation (Maui love), bought a place to live, didn't kill each other (ha ha you could never kill me!). I am really happy to be with you. We've got everything because we've got each other and its all we'll ever need. I love you with all my heart."

"Happy 2 year anniversary, Emily. It's been a good time being married to you. Your very important to me even if I don't tell you all the time, but just know that you are. I love you, Friend. Ever since we said 'I do' I'm so glad we did. For real."

"I love you sweetie. With every year that passes I find more and more reasons to commit myself to you. Your my best friend and soul mate. Me and you, baby."

"Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm a diabetic
And can't live with you.
(that means your my sugar!)"

When I think about what we would have been doing today, it tears me apart. I'd had the week booked off work, and Craig was actually going to book it off when he got into work the morning of his accident. We were going to go to Radium, as we did most years. We'd probably be finishing up supper at our favourite pub there, then heading off to the hot springs for a sunset dip. Going to bed, curled up next to each other, so content with one another and trusting entirely that we would both be there the next day.

The very thought is almost too painful to speak out loud.

But not as painful as this one: Five years ago today, if you had asked me where we would be in five years, this is the very last thing I would have imagined.

That for our anniversary I would be remembering alone.

That there would be nothing to celebrate.

So please, please, please... for those of you married or engaged or with anybody at all. Tell them you love them, hug them, kiss them goodnight.

Because five years from today, you just never know where you might be or who you might be without.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Monument

This morning I decided to try a little exercise in meditation. Thought I would just sit and try to remember something funny I experienced with Craig. First of all to see if I could (my memory has been really spotty - there are thousands knocking about in there but I can't always seem to grab onto them). Secondly to see if it would make me smile or just reduce me to tears.

First thing that came to mind?

When we got married we frequented this little restaurant in Maui that was right by our hotel. Craig was going through his coffee snobbery phase at the time and asked the waitress, a giant of a Hawaii woman, if they had cappuccinos or frappuccinos or iced latte whatsits or something.

Now, this was a tiny hole in the wall local place. Bamboo furniture, dirt floors, sketchy-looking customers. But very good food.

She was downright offended. And didn't understand what in the heck Craig was asking for. Which, to be honest, neither did I. Unlike a normal human being, who would just let it go when they said they didn't have it, Craig insisted, INSISTED they make it for him.

She stomped away and returned with an iced coffee beverage of some sort a good 40 minutes later.

I'm pretty sure she spat in it.

Craig was all proud of himself for getting what he wanted. Until he took a sip of that damn drink. And almost retched.

I'm pretty sure she took whatever was left in the coffee pot from the night before and just dumped some ice into it. NASTY. He wouldn't stop complaining about it so I tasted it and, yup, it was gross.

He never finished it, obviously.

When she finally came back and we paid our bill she noticed he didn't drink any of it and flipped out! And she was scary. We pretty much ran out of there, laughing hysterically. Craig very nearly had his ass handed to him by a giant Hawaiian woman.

Craig dubbed her 'The Monument' and the name never ceased to reduce us to a fit of giggles.

Moral of the story? Be happy with what you have. Especially when faced with a 'Monument'.

And for the first time in five and a half months, I am thinking about him, remembering him, and laughing instead of crying.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Say Craig To Me

It pains me so much when others do not want to talk about Craig or grow uncomfortable when his name is mentioned, turning away. I have already seen his photograph being taken off the walls in the homes of family members. Do they not know how much this hurts me?

He is not a dark secret to be swept under the rug or a bitterly divorced spouse. He was my perfect and true husband, the richest part of my life's history, a permanent fixture branded to my very soul. Please do not pretend he never happened. There is no shame in remembering him.


The time of concern is over. No longer am I asked how I am doing.
Never is the name of my partner mentioned to me. A curtain descends.
The moment has passed. A life slips from frequent recall.
There are exceptions … close and comforting friends, the occaisional sensitive family member.
For most, the drama is over. The spotlight is off. Applause is silent.
But for me, the play will never end. The effects are timeless.

Say Craig to me.

On the stage of my life, he has been both lead and supporting actor.
Do not tiptoe around the greatest event of my life. Love does not die.
His name is written on my life. The sound of his voice replays within my mind.
You feel he is dead. I feel he is of the dead but still lives.
You say he was my partner. I say he always will be.

Say Craig to me and say Craig again.

It hurts to bury his memory in silence.
What he was in the flesh has now turned to ash.
What he is in spirit, stirs within me always.
He is of my past, but he is part of my present. He is my hope for the future.
You say not to remind me. How little you understand that I cannot forget.
I would not if I could.
I forgive you, because you cannot know.
I strive not to judge you, for yesterday I was like you.

Say Craig to me and say Craig again.

I do not ask you to walk this road. The ascent is steep and the burden heavy.
I walk it not by choice. I would rather walk it with him in the flesh.
I am what I have to be. What I have lost you cannot feel. What I have gained you cannot see.

Say Craig, for he is alive in me.

He and I will meet again, though in many ways we have never parted.
He and his life play light songs on my mind, sunrises and sunsets on my dreams.
He is real and he is shadow. My shadow.
He was and he is.
He is my partner and I love him as I always did.
Though I may find new loves and a new future, he will forever be a part of me, branded on my soul.
He will never stop being me.

Say Craig to me and say Craig again.

(This poem was rephrased and based on the book “Saying Olin to Goodbye” by Donald Hackett.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

All The Things I Miss

I miss...

The way you would sit in your chair, fiddling with the hem of your pants, waiting for me to walk in the room.

The way you would obnoxiously shout 'hhhhhhhhaaaaaa' sarcastically whenever I said a joke that was entirely un-funny.

The way we would sing together in the kitchen and the car, as off-key as possible, louder and louder until one of us broke down and laughed.

How you would always rest your hand on the small of my back.

The way you would come home from work to me passed out on the sofa and would cover me with a blanket, every time.

The way you could always make me laugh, no matter how angry I was, no matter how inappropriate the timing.

How you would put me to bed at night and tuck the blankets in under me like a little kid whenever you went for your midnight jogs.

The way you drove, one hand on the top of the wheel, like you owned the road. You were so handsome.

The way your wedding ring looked on your hand. The little tan line you had from it, from never taking it off.

The way you planned out everything with pie charts and spread sheets and detailed to-do lists. I was your idea girl, you were the planner. Now I can't seem to make a single decision or plan more than 5 minutes ahead without you.

You teaching me how to skate, ever so patiently. Even though I never quite caught on.

You sitting at the counter, carefully taking notes while I made dinner, demanding I narrate like it was a cooking show.

The way you would sit and analyze for hours with me the movies we watched. I always ended up taking over the conversation and you would just listen and laugh.

You sitting at the kitchen table early in the morning, still wrapped in your blanket, sipping coffee, half asleep, while I yammered on about work.

Our post-party debriefings, chatting about everything said and done during the evening. You always did the best impressions of everyone.

Hearing you call me by all the pet names you had for me. Now nobody will ever call me Sal again.

Finding the notes you would leave me all over the house. And in the car. And in my purse. And everywhere.

Talking to you on my lunch break, venting about my day. You making fun of my coworkers just to make me laugh and show me I had at least one other person on my side in this world.

All the clever comebacks you would suggest I should have used on the people who pissed me off. I would always say, 'Where are you when I need you?' and laugh. Now I wonder, where are you when I need you now?

Stealing your t-shirts when you weren't looking. Now I can wear them any time I want and it just isn't the same.

How you would gush about every single thing I cooked, no matter how inedible.

Curling up and spooning on the sofa when we watched movies. We would always joke we were getting too fat to fit, but we would keep doing it anyway, no matter how uncomfortable.

Seeing your car in the driveway, looking forward to stepping in the door and knowing you were there.

The sound of your voice. Angry, sad, happy, mad... doesn't matter. I miss it all.

The way you smell.

That look you would get on your face, like you couldn't believe your luck at getting me all to yourself.

The way you would tell me everything, pouring out your heart. That I was the only person in the world you trusted with your true self.

Hearing you snore. I'd kick you to wake you up to make you stop and then pretend I didn't do anything and was still sound asleep. Now I would give anything to hear you snore next to me one more time.

Knowing you were there, always there. I could reach you, find you, talk to you anytime I wanted.

I miss everything.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not Okay

No, I am not doing ok.

I might get dressed, shower, leave my house (on occaision) but that means nothing. I am not ok.

My days are consumed with an overwhelming feeling of isolation and loneliness. I can't think about my future because I just don't care about it or whether or not I even have one. I can't think about my past or our life together because I can barely remember it and when I do, it makes me want to not go on.

My chest hurts constantly. It was like this the first few weeks after the accident and then went away for awhile but now it's back. It literally feels like my heart is breaking. My sinuses hurt, my head aches, my eyes burn... how is it possible for someone to cry this much?

I don't care about my messy house or not having a job or going broke or how anyone else is doing. Food tastes like plastic, I'd just as soon not eat at all. I should pay my bills but I can't even remember where I put them.

I have a million things to do but each tiny task feels like climbing a mountain. Go get groceries? I'd have to climb off the couch, turn the shower on, get in, clean up, towel off, dry my hair, find clothing, put them on, brush my teeth, wash my face, find shoes to wear, leave the house, get into the car, drive, walk up and down all those aisles, pay, drive all the way back home, unload all those groceries and put them away... it just feels too hard. And besides, I'll just throw half of them out when they go bad anyway.

I am numb.

I look at pictures of Craig and feel nothing. I am so empty and so cried out and so beyond hurt or pain that the suffering has drained every last feeling out of me.

All I want is to see him, touch him, run my hands through his hair. I miss every single thing about him.

How can a person go from being here and so alive to just gone? How can someone just disappear?

Why does it feel like I'm just disappearing too?

Why don't I care?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Fear of Forgetting

What is my greatest fear?

Not spiders or sharks or snakes (well, ok, maybe snakes a little).

Not public speaking like most because, well, I love being listened to (especially if they have no choice in it... mwahahaha).

Not dying because I've come to realize it's not nearly as bad as it sounds.

Not even being alone for the rest of my life. I have experienced aloneness and at least it's nice and quiet.

No, my big fear is none of the things that everyone else seems to worry about.

My biggest fear is one unique to me. It is a burden I alone must carry and it is getting heavier and heavier.

My biggest fear is that Craig, my Craig, will be forgotten.

It was actually a discussion about names that brought about this revelation last night. The conversation being - what does a widow do about her last name if/when she remarries? My immediate thought was, I am Emily Garvin now and will be forever. Why on earth wouldn't I keep that name? (and for those of you women who have changed your name after getting married you know how much of a pain in the arse it can be) But the debate around this seems to come mostly from the men - they all appear downright offended at the idea of a woman not taking their name or even keeping the former husband's last name as a middle name. I was kind of surprised at this response but felt very, very strongly about wanting to keep Garvin in my name.

So being the obsessive nut that I am I reflected and over-analyzed until it hit me why this matters so much to me. Keeping Craig's name is a tangible and public way of acknowledging him for the rest of my life, for as long as I exist.

He was so young. He never saved the world or made it into the history books. In fact, his one claim to fame was the way that he died. This means the rest of the world goes on without him, as though he never was.

I am terrified that I will be the only one who remembers him, the only one fighting to remind the world that he mattered, that he was important, even if it was just to me.

I was his wife, his other half, his twin. I knew him more intimately and more honestly than anyone else in this world. If I do not keep this memory alive, who will? Every memory I have, every story we shared, every subtle nuance on his face, the most intimate hurts and joys of his heart - I carry these with me. 10 years worth. These are things I cannot simply write or explain - there are too many and no words would ever be enough.

And that means he could fade into non-existence and disappear.

And this is something I will fight with every last breath in my body.

Because he was important and he did matter.

And he will always matter.

To me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dear Craig

I thought this was the first big decision I had to make without you - whether or not to leave my job.

Then I remembered:

I had to choose whether to cremate or bury you.

I had to choose whether to go see you at the morgue or to send someone else.

I had to choose what kind of flowers you might want.

I had to choose whether or not to go see the wreckage of the car.

I had to choose which photos told your story the best.

I had to choose which words to use in your obituary.

I had to choose who would speak at your service on your behalf.

I had to choose which people to keep in my life and which ones would do more harm than good.

I had to choose which of your things I was ready to give away and which ones I just can't part with yet.

I had to choose what to do with your wedding band and mine.

I had to choose, every day, whether or not to get out of bed, to keep going or to give up.

So maybe this one isn't so big after all.

Still wish you were here to help me logic this one out. To be the sounding board. To add just the right amount of humour at just the right moment to get me laughing again. To tell me what I should do next, even though all you ever did was guide me back to what I was already thinking anyway.

Where are you, babe?

When are you coming home?

Your Wife

PS I still miss you, dammit.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Grass Grows

With the approach of the 5 month mark on Monday I have to do something with the memorial cross at the side of the road. Our wonderful city beaurocrats have kindly posted a notice informing me it has to be removed by the 16th. Hurry up and grieve, they might as well say.

I have tried repeatedly to remove the cross and flowers. I'd like to pot it and do something with it, though I have no idea what. I like the idea of having some of the soil where Craig came to rest. If I had a garden, I'd put it there.

Unfortunately I can never quite bring myself to do it. And not owning a shovel certainly makes things difficult (imagine the poor bedraggled widow on her hands and knees, scooping the dirt into a flower pot on the side of the road with her bare hands, sobbing, filthy, scaring the poor neighbours driving by).

Today when I stopped to attempt (and fail) to take care of it I noticed something.

The tire tracks from Craig's car, skidding their way into the ditch, cutting an ugly scar away from the pavement... they have tiny little shoots of brightly colored grass growing in them. The broken pieces of metal and rubber and the shattered remains of glass are slowly being covered and filled in by fresh summer grass and flowers.

It's almost as though nature is slowly reclaiming the accident scene, reminding me that healing can happen no matter how bad the injury.

And that's exactly what it feels like for me. All that shattered glass, the blood, the pain, the horror of what has happened... it is all there, sitting just below the surface. But slowly, despite myself, I am healing. New shoots of grass growing in and taking over.

Those broken pieces will always be there and they will always be broken.

But eventually you find ways to allow life back in.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gossip and the Widow

Why is it when we become widows we are suddenly up for public consumption? Every aspect of our lives fodder for the masses?

I have experienced some real ugliness with the 'celebrity' that seems to come from losing a spouse. People who couldn't care less about you suddenly can't get enough of the gory details. Supposed relatives who never bothered asking you how you were doing now suddenly feel entitled to the intimate moments of your life. Acquaintances, neighbours, friends of friends...

I welcome most people into my life. I am a fairly open book (hello, blogging about all the heartache in my life should tell you I'm fairly comfortable spilling most secrets). And I love the new friends I have made and the new and wonderful people who have become a treasured part of my life.

But what I cannot accept and what I find absolutely deplorable are those who want to be involved, not because they care or are offering support, but because they love the drama and want to be at the centre of it.

I recently encountered a second wave of this ugliness from someone fairly close to me (ah, DNA, the great inclusionist). Lying, gossiping, relishing in the smut she was able to spin about me to anyone who would listen.

I find this absolutely reprehensible. I am struggling to survive. SURVIVE. Get out of bed, breathe, not give up. And someone who should be a blessing and a support to me instead finds my heartache too boring and would rather spice it up and peddle it to gain a little attention.

So here's a little attention for you:

THANK YOU for making me realize that even in the most painful time of my life I can still count on you to make me hurt even more.

THANK YOU for reminding me why Craig said you were nothing but bad news and not welcome in our home.

THANK YOU for helping me understand that nobody can be trusted, not even family.

THANK YOU for kicking me while I was down - bleeding, bruised, utterly broken.

THANK YOU for your testimony. For acknowledging God with your lips and then walking out the door and showing the world just what ungodly looks like.

THANK YOU for delighting in destroying the one and ONLY good thing in my life right now.

THANK YOU for trying to tear down and slander someone who has been there for me, cared for me, and bloody well SAVED ME while you were too busy destroying your own life to bother helping.

THANK YOU for taking something as sacred as the death of my beloved husband and trying to turn it into a circus act for your own amusement.

THANK YOU for reminding me that I am truly alone. Nobody has my back anymore.

To all of you on the outside looking in, let me remind you: Gossip is an ugly thing under normal circumstances. But to gossip and slander a widow? Heaven help you, that is one karmic b*tchslap you are asking for.

Remember that we widows live our lives in a fishbowl. Everyone stares, everyone has an opinion, especially those who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. And if you have never lost somebody this close or do not have a degree in psychology, you fall into that category. We live every day with the constant, crushing weight of everyone's expecations and opinions on us and what we are doing. Whatever decision we make, we offend someone. Often someone who has no right to be offended. In the end all we can do is try our best to keep breathing and make it through one more day. Please try to keep this in mind the next time you feel like judging.

Because I just pray that you never have to know what this is really like.

To quote a rather wise widow, "Stare all you want. I am fierce and not going anywhere. Deal with it."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More Notes

An email I just found from Craig from five years ago:

"Out of everyone in the whole world, you are the
greatest. I love you little girl with all my heart.
Everytime I need help, your right there beside me. And
thats not the country music talking, It's the truth."

And this is one of those stupid quizzes you fill in about the other person. Craig completed this one about me way back in 2002:

Your name: Craig Garvin

Where did we meet? "Forest Lawn Cafeteria"

Take a stab at my middle name: Martha

How long have you known me?: A year and 4 months (believe it was in November of 2001)

Do I smoke?: Hell no.

Do I believe in God?: With Compassion.

What was your first impression of me upon meeting?: Look out and stay out of her way. (Well you want the truth dont you)

What's my age?: 17

And my birthday?: September 26 1984

What colour hair do I have?: Brown

And colour eyes: Brown

Do I have any siblings?: Do you ever. 4 to be exact.

Have you ever had a crush on me?: Ever since I met you.

What's one of my favourite things to do?: Lay on my bed as I hold you, then fall asleep in my arms.

Do you remember one of the first things I said to you?: "What are you looking at?"

What's my favourite type of music?:Wow. This is a toss-up. You enjoy band music(Big Band I believe it's called) as well as Christian music. You also enjoy pop music which is up beat and really says something. Pop music like Backstreet Boys (I want it that way) not some group like Destinys Chid (Bootylishes). You also
have a thing for Black People singing. So to answer your question, I would say your favourite type of music would have to be music "Which has Feeling".

What is the best feature about me?: Your Caring and Compassionate Character. I have always enjoyed your Warm Personality. For example, I know I can always talk to you because you will always be there to listen. You have a Huge Heart of Gold which makes you
very appealing to anyone who knows you and has a heart beat. Your best feature is the fact that you are Emily Kolman/Garvin.

Am I shy or outgoing?:Depends where we are. Afterall I see the many Sides of you.(Insert Gasp Here)

Would you say I am funny?: You know damb well I would.

Am I a rebel or do follow all the rules?: Again, there are those Sides of you again. In public, definitely all the rules. But in private, Well???????

Any special talents?: Many. Being the Talented musician and a wonderfull writer you are, puts you at the top of the talented list. You also have a talent for running into "MG".(Slap me at will).

Would you consider me a friend?: For the rest of my life.

Have you ever seen me cry?: The first time was when Lydia dident come home. I walked down the stairs to the Phys-ed office and there you where. Since then I have seen and felt you cry on many different occaions ranging from anger and frustration to Joy and
Overwhelming Love and Happiness.

If there was one good nickname for me, what would it be? See this coming? The one and only, Emma-Cakes.

What's your favourite memory of me?: Too many to chose from honey. All the times on the steps talking in the winter; going to all thoes movies(Saving Silvermand and Time Machine); or on my bed either laying there peacefully or watching a movie or "watching a movie" are Great Memories. But specifically, going to the Calgary Tower just to talk; When you took my stubborn ass to the hospital; When we froze our asses off looking down on the City from just beyond the Saddledome are Cherished Memories. O.k here we go. On
the morning you left for Vancouver I took you for McDonalds breakfast and we went for a walk on "The Hill". It was a bright sunny morning with a clear view of the city. We dident say much that morning but we both thanked God many times in our hearts for this time we had together. It was time that was ment just for us as we walked and held hands simply enjoying one anothers precious presence. Priceless.

What single trait about me annoys you the most?: Slamming the damb door.

If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you want to take with us?: A box with all our notes and cards in it with just enough room for a Bible.

Ah, I needed these today.

144 days since I last saw you and you are still making me smile.

I miss you, babe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Facebook Updates

Sometimes people's Facebook status updates really piss me off.


I said it.

Those people who post about missing their husband because he has to work late? At least he's coming home. You have no idea what missing someone really is.

Those people Facbook breaking up - she's now single, he's now single, she 'doesn't know why she's the only one fighting for them', blah blah blah. You suck for throwing away a spouse when I would give anything for mine.

Those people who feel the need to post about every insignificant event that happens to them during the day? I'm so glad you just took a pee. My husband died.

Oh and to the person who posted Craig's obit all over the place? Get bent. It's not that fun or exciting. And you don't even know him. Grrrr...

Yes, it's ridiculously bitchy.

Yes, their lives go on even if mine doesn't.

Yes, I may spend too much time on Facebook.


Time to head back to the widow boards where cyberspace isn't as full of the DGI (Don't Get It) masses.

Or maybe I just need some chocolate.


That one.

I think there's a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the kitchen...

*shuffles to the fridge*



Still bitchy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Getting Myself Together

Am trying to pull my sh*t together (pardon my language) today. I feel like I have been all over the map this week. Don't know what's wrong with me (outside of the obvious: my husband died).

I have been sad, angry, frustrated, sad, angry, and sad some more... And usually all in the space of five minutes. So funny how Craig used to say I have tornado mood swings. I can only imagine what he'd call them now! Ha!

Time to put on my Big Girl Panties, toughen up, and get myself into the right mindframe to go back to work and get on with things.

My house needs cleaning.

My car needs fixing.

Photos need scanning and organizing.

My laundry desperately needs doing.

Letters need writing.

Groceries need buying.

The gym is calling my name, begging me to come back.

I need to find somewhere to live.

I need to organize my banking.


That list is too bloody long. Help! I'm drowning in To Do's!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

To My Husband

Dear Craig,

Thanks for completely screwing up my life forever.

Your Wife

PS I still miss you, dammit.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Off To Work I Go

I will be heading back to work next week. It has been on my mind for the last few days, circling around in my head. I just had this feeling of anxiety over it that I couldn't quite place.

Until last night.

When it hit me like a brick wall with a spectacular show of waterworks.

I have worked at this company for four and a half years. Basically as long as I have been married.

I was there while Craig was in school, I was there when we bought our first home, I was there when we struggled through infertility. With the exception of the last year, it was where Craig picked me up from every day after work (meeting out on 'hooker corner' as he liked to call it), where he would occaisionally meet me for lunch (but only if he'd been in trouble for something), where he would make his hurried calls to me over his lunch hour just to say hi or to share a story about some client.

He would email me almost daily something ridiculous or hiliarious or just an update on our bank account status ("we are down to $30.12 in our account, Sally, quit spending our money!").

Every time I worked late, which was often, I would get the text message or email from him, "It's 5:15pm do you know where your Sally is?"

But next week when I go back, it will be just me. I am no longer married, I have no darling husband to pick me up and argue with me over who was late and who waited the longest. I will get no surprise emails or text messages telling me I am loved. When I stay late, I will take myself home, back to an empty house, with nothing but dirty dishes waiting for me.

At 5:15pm nobody will be wondering where their Sally is.

When I returned to work after the accident it was about surviving in a place for 8hrs a day where I was told my husband was dead. It was about sitting in that same spot, forcing myself to think about things other than police officers delivering bad news and bosses trying to keep me together long enough to get out the door.

Now when I go back it will be about continuing on alone.

Don't be surprised if you see me toting around some of Craig's emails to get me through the day.

Or leaving by 5:14pm.