Tag Archives: Sarcoma

Tribal Visits…

This past Saturday night, I had the pleasure of attending the annual NW Sarcoma Foundation gala event, Stories from the Vineyard. It’s IMG_0317the foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year, and once again, proved to have very generous supporters and donors from a tight knit community. The “paddle raise” alone garnered $40,000. My guess is that the entire evening raised over $100,000. Shit, my table paid $675 for a cake alone, and we were not the only table to do such a thing 🙂

This year’s event was slightly different for me than last year. Last year, I had an entire table of friends attend with me, and this year, I decided to go alone and just “be” with my Sarcoma tribe, because that is what this group is to me – my tribe of those who understand this disease. For me though, visiting this “tribe” poses its challenges, which I of course let no one see. My carefully placed “mask” hides it all.

This is the annual time when I reconnect with Ed’s doctor, and get to hear updates on the advancements in the t-cell immunotherapy treatments that he is working on. It’s the one night a year I see two of his many nurses who always remember him fondly (no matter how sick he was or how crappy he felt, he was a charmer with the ladies :-)). It’s the moment where he is recognized as a “Sarcoma Angel”…this night his name was projected on a large screen for all to see, along with a list of others. A beautiful song was played in tribute to them, which was beautiful. I did not shed a tear, while you could hear others doing just that. Rightfully so. It’s a night of genuine compassion, stories of survival and passing, hope and sorrow, all in one evening so that we can do better….better research, better care, better awareness and better understanding.

So on this one night of the year, I visit my Sarcoma tribe. I wear my “mask”, smile and not say “fuck you sarcoma”. Although everyone in that room would chant it with me. The weight of the evening stays with me still today, but it is not as heavy as it was last year. Overall, I laugh more and cry less, but this vile disease, I will never understand. I will never accept it. And one night a year, I will visit it, let it visit me, allow myself to go back to an uncertain time, and then I will say goodbye. Until next year….I can only hope there are less people on the “angel” list and more on the “survivor” list.

And now to honor my husband, I will continue sipping my wine. I will watch the Chicago Bears take on the San Diego Chargers. I will smile every time Jay Cutler does something wrong and just think of Ed cursing him…..which makes me smile 🙂 And with that thought, the weight from the weekend lifts….

Strength, Courage, Wisdom….Faith, Love and Hope….

Tracey

Car Buying and Dating….Good Grief!

I promised myself that this would be a year of change. New Year, New Me, New Space. And while I wasn’t entirely certain of what this meant, I knew it meant trying to move forward in this new life. In my head, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish this year; not necessarily New Year’s Resolutions, but things I wanted to accomplish for me. Some of these things are necessary items in an effort to take care of my home, some are things I consider a way to simplify my life, and some, just “stuff”. So here’s my list and status of each:

  • Get rid of the rampant mole issue in my backyard – Done (don’t ask how)
  • Update the house with hardwood floors – Done #wood
  • Landscape clean-up – Done – it’s an annual thing anyway, but on the list
  • Replace backyard fence – Done – the old one would not have made it another winter
  • Sell boat – Done
  • Sell Ed’s truck, my car and get one, new vehicle – NOT DONE

When I look back at how much I’ve actually gotten done this year, I feel pretty good. These projects were no small tasks, and I got them done. It’s that last one that’s getting me. Let me explain.

When it came to the boat and the vehicles, Ed and I had many conversations about what I would do after he passed away. We discussed the fact that I would not be able to manage the boat myself. I would need to sell it. Once the boat was gone, I’d no longer need two cars, so I would sell his truck, my car and buy one vehicle for myself. It would be an Acura MDX because my Acura TL has been so good to me (I still love driving it as much as the day I drove it off of the lot). And so with life, plans change. I did not sell the boat immediately, rather, I conquered it. And then I was done. When I did finally make the decision to sell, it was at the right time to the right people. As bittersweet as it was, it was the right step. I felt good about it. Then, I was up to the last item on my list…consolidating vehicles. It was on this list, so the next thing to do. Easier said than done.

Off I went to start car shopping, something I realized I had not done in a very long time. My Acura is a 2004 TL with 102,000 miles and still drives like new. It is the last car I purchased 11 years ago. The Acura MDX was “the plan” that Ed and I had discussed, so I went and test drove one, but I knew that I needed to make sure this was the right car for me. I didn’t feel right selecting something at this price without really doing my due diligence. A lot of people told me to go drive EVERYTHING; it’s all part of the fun of buying a new car. I saw nothing fun about this time consuming process, and once I started, I got a funny feeling that dating, when I even think about it, is going to be a similar experience. I haven’t dated in a longer time since I bought my last car, so I can’t be sure. I think if I compared the Acura “date” with actual dating, I’d say this was “a set-up” – seems like a perfect fit, but almost too perfect. But this one would be there for me whenever I wanted it. No need to commit now.

I had my doubts about the MDX so I went and test drove it again. I really, really liked it, but wasn’t sure. The MDX I’ll compare to “the nice guy” – reliable, always-going-to-be-there-never-going-to-let-me-down, a solid choice. An absolutely good looking car with a great personality. I have a few friends who own one, and rave about. So I started finding reasons why this was not the right choice; little nits that really don’t make a difference. But when I’m about to spend this much money, I need to be sure. I drove a few, comparable SUVs and this was the best of the ones I drove without doubt. But I stopped to ask myself, “What do I really want and need in a car”? I realized that after driving Ed’s truck for the past three years, I have become very accustomed to this vehicle and what it offers; amazing power, the ability to drive through anything, haul anything, and the a certain feeling of safety and security. Should the zombie apocalypse hit my geographical area, this truck will be what saves me.

Could I have changed so much in the past three years that I am no longer a luxury vehicle personality but have converted to a truck kind of gal? Perhaps. I decided that what I wanted and needed in a vehicle was a cross between the luxuries my Acura offers, and the durability, stability and power my truck offered.

I turned to the Interwebs for my research and found what I thought to be the perfect fit – A Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. From a dating comparison, I’m going to guess this is what on-line dating would be like; lots of pictures, good background information, positive reviews etc. etc. From what I found on-line about this vehicle, it seemed this would provide me with the creature comforts and luxuries I was looking for in a car, all with a decent amount of towing capacity (which I likely would never use), a good amount of cargo space for the dogs (my primary reason for needing a larger SUV), and four wheel drive allowing me to drive through just about any terrain. So I went and test drove it. I loved it! So good looking and smooth on the road…and then I went home and did more Google searches, and the vulnerabilities were uncovered – known for transmission issues and oil issues. I had to remind myself I owned a Dodge Durango that suffered from both. And I’d never own one again. This was like an old boyfriend trying to get me back saying “I’ve changed, really, I have”. Or it was the Don Draper of cars; handsome and rugged, with all kinds of vulnerabilities under the hood that would come out after the honeymoon was over – about 25,000 miles into ownership? I keep trying to tell myself one thing or another to convince myself that this car would be different. It has changed, and is improved. Lots of people own these with no problems. Why won’t it be like this for me? This car also has a great warranty so if something does go wrong, it’s covered. But I know better, and had many, many friends tell me that this was probably not the way to go. Ultimately, I’d be disappointed. And I know they are right. So I moved one, but I still think about this one.

It was suggested by a friend, that if I was really that interested in the Jeep, I should check out the Toyota 4Runner. This would be a lot of truck, a good balance of car – but probably not all of the creature comforts and looks of the Jeep, but very, very reliable. This was not a car that was in my view, so I’d compare this to “a blind date” – new, unfamiliar (although before I met Ed, I did have a Toyota Celica which I loved), and not something I would have thought would be a good fit. I had nothing to lose at this point, so I went on “my date” with the 4Runner. I was pleasantly surprised. I was highly impressed with the cargo space for the dogs. And the best part? The back window on the lift goes down so they can stick their head out 🙂 The creature comforts were definitely there, although certainly not as luxurious as the Acura of Jeep. This was definitely more truck than car, but stuck the right balance. I agreed to come back with Ed’s truck to get an idea of what they would give me for a trade – something that both of the other dealerships fell slightly short on, and I took more than personally. Agreeing to this next “date” felt kind of like a big deal. It felt this this could be “the one”. A bit too real.

A few days later, I went back I went to the Toyota dealership in Ed’s truck, having a hard time believing that this could be the last time I actually sat behind the wheel of his truck. If everything went right, I would be coming home with a new, Toyota 4Runner. I wasn’t overly excited about this as it was very emotional for me. Parting with Ed’s truck was a big deal to me. And while I realize it’s only a car, and it’s just a physical thing, it still hit me fairly hard. This was going to be a big change, and once I did it, there was no going back. Was I making the right decision? Did I feel good about this? Is it the right time? Do I need to do this now? What was my rush? What did my gut tell me? None of these questions were ones I could easily answer, yet, no one could answer them for me. I told myself just to see what happened. I was not committing to anything. I could walk away at any time. The deal just might not be right.

And then the joy of the real “courting” began – the negotiations. Kind of speed dating maybe? Let’s really see how serious we both are about this whole “relationship”.

I gave the keys to the truck to my sales person so she could give it to her manager to determine what they would give me on the trade in. Of course while they were doing this, we could go for another test drive. Not a bad idea as I really did need to make sure this was the right car for me. This was also the start of those dreaded words you really think is a myth in the car buying business, but learned that in fact is not. The dreaded words “let me go talk to my manager”. And so it began.

We came back from the test drive and “the manager” came out. He was everything you’d picture – fast talking, number shuffling, appreciative of your being there and what-needs-to-be-done-to-move-the-inventory kind of guy. He seemed nice enough, and this is his job – move cars off the lot. I can’t fault him for this, but it also didn’t give me a great feeling. So we went through the whole process that I had really hoped was not how car buying really was. He came out with a decent number on the new car – a number I told him to meet. But then he naturally, stereotypically mistook me for someone who didn’t know what I was doing – and low-balled me on the trade. I of course took this personally and was going to nicely let him know this was not how we were going to roll. He played the “let me go talk to my manager and see what I can do” and came back with “well, I got you this, but my manager is not happy about it”. He proceeded to scribble a bunch of numbers very quickly trying to mask the massive “screw you” price on my trade. So I paused. I said “give me your pen”. I proceeded to write down the number I wanted for my truck. Period. Hard Stop. He then played the “let me go talk to my manager” card again, and came back with a better number, and include the proverbial “my manager doesn’t even know I went up to this and he’s going to be pissed”. Seriously? Do I look like I fell off a turnip truck? Good grief. So I informed him that I appreciated everything he had done, but that number wasn’t going to do it. I asked for me keys back to the truck (yet another tactic to keep you there – keep the keys so you can’t leave) and I left. Walked out of the deal right then and there. I was mildly disappointed, but it was fine. I do not have to sell my truck or my car or anything else. There is no one and nothing pushing me to do this but me and this crazy list of things I want to accomplish this year. The earth will not stop turning if I don’t get this last item checked off of my list this year. But what does this mean for my goals for moving forward?

Surprise, surprise – guess who called the next day with a better offer on my truck? It was the sales manager of course – predicable. The deal was just about done. All he had to do was find me the color I wanted because they didn’t have it in stock. He was going to call me back in 30 minutes as that was all it would take for him to track it down. I had a lot of confused feelings at this point. What a tumultuous ride I feel like I had been on, yet I wasn’t entirely excited about what was supposed to happen next. All of those same questions kept coming back to me, and I still couldn’t answer them. I reached out to a friend to help me sort this out, and she did. I felt much better about the idea of parting with Ed’s truck and getting this new car. Felt better, but not excited.

The sales manager never called back. For real – he never called back. It’s that date that said he had a great time and he’ll call and never does. Should I call him? Is he really not interested? What the heck happened? I thought it went so well. God help me if this is really how dating goes.

For a moment, I was relieved. I wasn’t going to pursue it further because something still didn’t feel right about it. Maybe I was playing hard to get. Maybe I just decided I didn’t want to deal with it any longer. Trying to spend this much money shouldn’t be this hard, and I should be really excited about a new car. So I paused. Reflected on the whole thing and what I learned was this – I very successfully negotiated a great car deal. I was incredibly afraid of the process because of all of the dread that comes with buying a new car. All proved true with this experience, yet I got through it. I conquered it. I wasn’t the one that didn’t close the deal. I also realized that I do need to let go of the truck. While I don’t have to do so, there is no reason for me not to do so. If not now, then when? And why not now? What is really stopping me? The zombie apocalypse is actually not coming 🙂

My head is clear and my heart is calm. When I am ready to buy a new car and part with the truck, I will do so. Not a moment sooner.

Btw – the Toyota dealership just called to say my color will be in next week if I am still interested. They’ll honor the deal we struck. I’m still deciding on if I am going to call back or not 😉

Strength, Courage, Wisdom…Faith, Love and Hope – got me through this one for sure J

XOXOXO,

Tracey

Peeling the Onion….”Invisible Losses”…One Layer at a Time

Last week when I wrote, I was discussing the “waiting room” and the practices of Christina Rasmussen, author of “Second Firsts”. I was very vulnerable admitting not only that I was taking a series of seminars with her called “Coffee with Christina” but also what I was uncovering in the process. This is not something I would have done in my past. While I tend to share a lot, I am also more guarded than most realize. Vulnerability is not my strong suit, however, I have become much better at it since Ed’s passing. Why not? What do I have to lose? The scariest thing in life has already happened to me – the evil cancer called Synovial Sarcoma that he went through and of course, ultimately losing him – and the pain that came along with it. The loss of my better half, the love of my life in this painful way – those are the things you don’t make up. It’s what nightmares are made of. It’s the one I am trying to leave behind.

In doing so, I have had to become more vulnerable and honest with myself. This is harder than you think, but the reality is, it is one of the most powerful and healing things one can do. So this week, in the “Coffee with Christina” program, we had to focus on a few things, but mostly on something called a “Grief Cleanse”. At first glance on this I thought, I have been really honest in my grieving the loss of Ed. I genuinely understand it, work with it and through it, and let myself feel how I want to feel about it at any given moment. It can’t be forgotten about or “moved on” from. I can move forward in life the best way I know how, but “moving on” is not something I will ever do. The “Grief Cleanse” however, is about going back to those “invisible losses” that seem smaller in nature. The ones that we might have dismissed as a “part of life”. Job losses, the ending of friendships, anything you can think of that might not have been properly acknowledged as loss. It’s amazing how we as a society do this, and I am thankful to be understanding this more and more, as I truly feel this is very important in forwarding my life in a happy and healthy way.

So right after I wrote about “the waiting room”, I had to go to Chicago for work. I was really leaving the waiting room for an entire week. I’ve travelled since Ed passed, certainly, but this time I was a bit more anxious about the trip. Skip had been sick and by this point was fine, but he gave me quite the scare – enough to have a lot of emotions from when Ed was sick come rushing back without my even realizing it (that is an entirely different blog post). Off I went to Chicago, and the week was fine – work hard, play hard as I jam pack my schedule to make sure I can see my family and friends, and I never get everyone in. Chicago is and always will be home – a source of comfort for me, but this trip felt different. And through my “grief cleanse” I think I’ve figured out why.

My first trip back to Chicago was a short four months after Ed passed away. I was still so numb, as everything about being alone was so new. I had to travel back because my 93 year old grandmother – “The Nana”- was not doing well. Frankly, she decided she had had enough and was ready to go. She stopped taking her medication. Stubborn as she was, she was going to go out on her own terms. As sad as it was to say goodbye, I understood and respected it. I cherished a few moments with her at the end, and shared them at her funeral, but her loss was so overshadowed with the loss of Ed that I never really grieved her death. I miss her, but she was 93 years old. She lived a long life seeing her children grow, her grandchildren grow, and her great grandchildren leading full lives. She went out on her terms. I miss her, but I know she is with Ed and he is taking good care of her. She adored him – absolutely adored him, and he adored her right back. I cannot help but to smile when I think of them together. But her passing is not where my grief cleanse comes into play.

Subsequent trips to Chicago (and other places) came several months later. This is now nine months post loss of Ed. Life has been moving along, each day I heal more, and I even get some glimpse of achievement and happiness. By this time, I have mastered my boat, mowing my lawn, purchasing the leaf blower that makes puts the neighborhood in envy, and am no longer squeamish when shoveling a dead bird or rabbit from the yard. When I travel, I am incredibly happy and here’s why – I am taking a vacation from my grief. I genuinely leave my waiting room and leave grief behind for a short time. And that’s always how it is. Great – I start to acknowledge it – honesty with myself.

But today, I was thinking about when I came home from this trip. I’m always happy to get here because “there’s no place like home”. My comforts, my dogs, just the niceties of home. But why did this trip feel different? Because I’m no longer taking a vacation from my acute grief. I’m now starting to uncover the other layers of invisible grief that I have not acknowledged. And I realized on of them today.

Every plane ride home from Chicago, I cry. When my grandmother passed away, I acknowledged this as the week of her loss on top of Ed’s loss just catching up to me. It had been a very long, emotional week going through this again so soon. And so I cried – a lot. Subsequent trips, I did the same thing, but not as intensely. And I just chalked that up to having such a wonderful time with my closest of family and friends, and how much I miss them that I was just sad to leave. Later, I realized I was sad to be returning to my grief, and even later, I realized, I’m living a sort of “second life” in Chicago. Not sure how healthy that is, but I understand it. After this last trip, I cried again on the plane ride back. But I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t feel like I was on vacation from my grief. I had actually told a friend of mine that I really didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin that week. When I looked into the mirror I didn’t recognize myself. I now understand why. I cry on the plane ride home because every time I return, I am grieving the loss of my old life. My life in Chicago. My old life before I met Ed, and of course the 10 years we lived life together as a family. Raising the kids. A life of happy memories of our family, building bonds with lifelong friends, creating holiday traditions and everything that life was supposed to be. It was not supposed to be cut short after only thirteen years together. He was not supposed to go at age 48. I have always recognized the loss of him, and the loss of “us” as a married couple. I have not acknowledged the loss of “me”. And now I do.

After Ed passed away, I was asked quite a bit (still asked), “Are you moving back”? My answer is always, “never say never, but no – I don’t think so”. After seven years in Seattle, I am quite content here. I’m not sure if Seattle will be forever for me. If I honestly had to respond I would say no. At some point, I have to figure out where life is best for me. Chicago will always be home as well Seattle, in two very different ways. Home is where the heart is, and for now and always, mine will reside in both places – any perhaps someplace else in the future.

With a clear head and a calm heart….XOXOXO,

Tracey

Life After Loss – the “waiting room”

I have been taking steps to try to really move forward with life after the loss of Ed. And while I am doing “okay” I think I can do better. Really live again, not just go through the motions. So I am participating in a program called “Coffee with Christina” which was started by Christina Rasmussen author of “Second Firsts”.  She has created this community of people who are all trying to find the same things as me; life after loss. We have “homework” which helps get introspection on things, and as part of this, sharing this information with someone is key. It gets you to be vulnerable and in my opinion, really “own” it. I thought of several people who I could share this with, and while I shared privately with the “coffee” community, I also thought to myself – GO BIG OR GO HOME. So here it is. Very raw and vulnerable, and not something I would generally share so openly.

Coffee with Christina – week 1 – the waiting room

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the waiting room and acknowledgment of past losses to understand why I am here. It’s taken me all week to come up with this:

For my past losses – I have a lot – my parents divorced when I was young, I was some-what bullied as a kid, rejected by men so I was happy to have attention from anyone which led to some bad choices until I met my husband, and job lay-offs, which is a different kind of rejection. I have to agree that these were probably never acknowledged as “loss” until my husband passed away in 2013. During a session in a bereavement group I participated in, we went back and did an exercise similar to this charting out different losses at different times in our lives. This did in fact made me open my eyes up to the fact that these were easily “pushed aside” in a “get over it and on with it” way, particularly with young love and jobs – there are plenty of others out there. Of course until the loss of my husband who is and always will be the love of my life. But my past experiences, including the loss of my husband, are what make me who I am today. So I don’t begrudge them. With one of my first heartbreaks with a “man” I knowingly had to break it off with him because at some point I realized, I didn’t need someone else to make me as unhappy as I was. I could this by myself, and I’d probably be happier. And I also realized that I will never feel the same way about this “man” with anyone else; I will feel different and it will be better. And I was right. I’m glad I was able to figure this out as it severed me well.

I have been thinking about what my waiting room looks like and why. It’s fairly simple and what Christina describes; big comfy couch, big screen TV, warm blankets in the winter and open windows in the summer. I am here because this is a place where I can go numb, isolate and just not think – I think and work all day long. My mind never shuts off, and sitting in front of the TV allows me to turn off my mind. I need that. I remember the first time I had felt the need to retreat there and the first time I understood why; it was my comfort after my husband passed away. I remember the first time I left it thanks to a post on Christina’s Second Firsts page, and I now know I can leave and come back anytime I want to do so.

But here’s the “aha” I had this morning while walking my dogs – a time where the clarity of my thinking is best because I am out in nature with no distractions – I do not retreat to the waiting room because of the loss of my husband any longer. One of the reasons I joined this group is because I knew that I could no longer “blame” every ounce of unhappiness I have on his death. There was more going on here keeping me in the waiting room. Going back through the past losses, I think I realize what it is. When my father left, my mother was left no choice to be a single mother of two children. We went without a lot and the common phrase I had to accept was “we can’t afford it” – a phrase that still makes me cringe. My mother had the help and support of her parents, my grandparents, who I was very close with, particularly my grandmother. My grandmother always used to instill in me that when I grew up, I must be able to take care of myself independently and financially. And so I did. I went to college, got my degree and have always been exceptional at my job. I have always done well financially, and thinking back to my childhood thoughts, I never wanted to be “rich”. I wanted to be “comfortable” (feeling of my waiting room) financially. This edict from my grandmother did me very well. I have always been able to be the breadwinner of the family and I emphasize “needed” because there was a time when my husband was the sole breadwinner running his own business. I am thankful for my ability to do so, because where I worked when he got sick with Synovial Sarcoma, I had the best insurance and more importantly the ability to take whatever time off I needed. After he passed away I took a year of leave and then ultimately resigned (I did have another job however – how could I possibly just NOT have a job, right?). I’m thankful for my education, my work ethic, and my ability to earn a living and keep in the lifestyle I have created for myself and my family. I am so fortunate that I have not had to make financial decisions based upon my husband’s passing away. I know there are so many widows out there who don’t have this same choice. I can’t even imagine it.

So here’s my “aha” – I am in my waiting room because I am in a routine of going to work, earning a good living, and being comfortable. I believe Christina refers to this as the “roommate”. My roommate requires that I have financial stability regardless of my happiness. I need to go to work and be financially independent. And one of my biggest fears is not being able to do this, particularly now that I am alone. I fear losing my house, not having health insurance, getting sick and not having anyone to take care of me. The year I spent not working, I didn’t worry about finances as I knew I had enough in the bank to be fine. More than fine, but that’s something I’ll never admit. It was the very first time I was thinking about taking care of myself. Healing from my grief and from being a caregiver to my husband. Putting myself first is not something with which I am familiar, and now it’s all I have to concern myself with. The “stuck” of my waiting room is from my bad relationship with money and fear of financial stability if I followed my passions and not my routine.

My husband and I used to have a very funny joke between us. We agreed that I had the ability to be two very different people; “work Tracey” – hard core, Type A, get it done and “vacation Tracey” – relaxed, go with the flow and downright fun. We both agreed that we like “vacation Tracey” better. I do acknowledge that “work Tracey” came in very handy when managing doctors, hospitals, clinical trials, research etc. Weeks before he passed away, we were talking about the future – my future without him. We had always talked about my potentially going to law school. I had been home taking care of him for a few months at this point, which was my sole job. I said to him, “maybe I’ll go to law school”. His response was, “no. not now. You just mellowed out”. In my care taking of him, I had gotten much closer to “vacation Tracey” who is in my opinion a much better version of myself. Before he passed away I told him that I wanted to be the person that he saw me as, because he always saw me as a better person that I saw myself. I want to get out of the waiting room and be THAT person. That will require hard work and change of my routine – and getting a little uncomfortable and vulnerable.

Thank you for listening.

New Year, New Me, New Space….

Two years ago today, the Baltimore Ravens played the San Francisco 49ers in Superbowl 47. All I remember through the haze was that the power went out during the game. I think the Ravens won, but I couldn’t tell you with certainty. I couldn’t tell you a lot from that day, except it was the day Ed passed away. Superbowl Sunday. We were both football lovers, and I suppose there is some irony in the fact that he passed on this particular day. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to watch a Superbowl again. My husband would never have wanted that for me; he would never want me removing anything from my life that made me happy. Football makes me happy, and last year, the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl, removing the sting of that one year anniversary through distraction and excitement. This year, the Seattle Seahawks played again, in probably what will go down in the most historic Superbowl in history. Unfortunately, the Seahawks lost the game, but the excitement was there. The happiness of them making it to the “show” was still there. Spending the day with “framily” – friends that have become family – cheering on the home team, making great memories was there. The Seahawks lost this time around, but the stinger of the anniversary was kindly distracted by the love of football and all of the fun that goes along with it. Football is something that Ed and I shared and enjoyed together. It is a happy memory for me and a way for me to try and add a happy space to this day. I can honor my husband by still having that love of the game and thoroughly enjoying it…and I do every football season and will continue to do so.

I often try to describe put into words how life has felt over these past two year, and as I reflect on this day, the two year anniversary of Ed’s passing, I think back to our wedding for such an analogy so that others might understand.

When Ed and I got married, the reverend who officiated our ceremony did I a wonderful job of bringing both the Catholic and Jewish rituals together, and Ed was excited to “break the glass” as part of the Jewish tradition. He thought it was just kind of cool, and I never really knew the meaning behind this ritual until our ceremony as it was about to happen. Reverend Jim stated to Ed, me and our friends and family that surrounded us, “the breaking of this glass represents what would happen if this marriage broke. The shattered shards of glass cannot be put back together again no matter how hard you try. This is why we cherish marriage and treat it gently, so as not to shatter the glass”. Okay, I paraphrased a bit here, but you get where I’m headed.

On this day two years ago my heart shattered. At precisely 11AM PT, I watched my husband take his last breath. It was the most painful, yet peaceful moment I have ever experienced. The pain and devastation that comes from the true heartbreak that followed is nothing I could have ever imagined. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one understands this, yet we all know that it is not the same for any two people. We just “get” it. The moment Ed took his last breath was the day my heart shattered into those un-repairable shards of glass. Life, nor my heart will ever be the same. It will mend and be scarred, but it will never be the same.

Life looks different to me now. Like a kaleidoscope, at each turn the view is different, some views better than others, but always different including how I view the passing of time. My year now tends to start on Feb. 3, the day Ed died. Memories correspond back to before Ed was sick, after he was diagnosed, during treatment, during which specific treatment, hospital visits, and of course, after he passed away. Superbowl Sunday is definitely on that calendar; perhaps a holiday of sorts.

Looking back to my last “calendar year”, 2014 was what I describe as a complacent, “level setting” year for me; recovery in the off-season? Maybe and here’s how I think of it. I often described life after loss like being a weeble toy that wobbles back and forth trying to steady itself. I felt like this often, and 2014 was the time in which I stopped wobbling so fiercely. I went back to work, got into a routine and just got back to a resemblance of life. What I realized was I was living my old life but Ed just wasn’t there. Now that we are two years since Ed has passed, the wobbling might have steadied, but I have also realized that last year was spent getting back to “center”. And that’s okay, but now, I do feel as though it’s time to live happily and healthily – present, honest, vulnerable and true to myself – even if I don’t completely know what that means.

So with the start of my year, I have promised myself that in 2015, I will continue to grow and live again. Create a life that is mine; the life I knew as ours is never coming back. It can’t. He’s never coming back. And I know this. I have always known this but I don’t know if I have really lived it. I am embarking on doing things that I want to do for me, and I hope to uncover my passion in life and make a difference in others. Part of this including creating a new blog site just for me, and if you’re reading, you’re already here. This is a place where I can expand upon my writing, connecting with others, and just putting things out there. New Year, New Me, New Space – small steps to living life…at least the path that I am on right now. That could change tomorrow. And that would be okay. It’s all up to me now.

So on this day, please raise a glass in honor of my beautiful, amazing husband, Ed. Remember him, talk about him, share stories about him. This is how we keep his memory alive. And if you’ve never met him, ask me to tell you all about him. Sharing him and the positive memories of our life together is my greatest honor.

By the way – Go Seahawks. Thank you for not only giving me and all of the 12s some great football this year, and a championship team to be proud of, but for also delivering some fun, excitement and happiness to balance out the sorrow that I feel on this day. As a native Chicagoan though, I’m oh-too- familiar with the phrase, “there’s always next year” J

Strength, Courage, Wisdom….Faith, Love and Hope – it’s all I need to get me through every day.

XOXOXO,

Tracey