Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"You are a puff of smoke..."

Busy day today - my grandma has been a tremendous help in really getting things done (and it's only her first day)! We made a lot of progress on packing things in the kitchen (or, I should say... she made a lot of progress). I mostly fumbled around with other items of business: Our real estate agent came over and I signed a bunch of papers to list our house. I called ADT to ask about temporarily discontinuing my service due to the fact that I'm moving in with Matt's parents and won't be needing a security system again until I move into my own house someday. They wanted to charge me upwards of $600 for early cancellation because we signed into a three-year contract. I questioned there not being any type of bereavement break, so to speak. She talked to her manager and said it would be waived if I faxed in a copy of the death certificate. Fair enough. So I have to do that tomorrow. I also sent Sprint a copy of the death certificate or else I would be charged another cancellation fee for getting rid of a line. Everybody loves to charge for early cancellation, it seems. I'm trying to get my number canceled and take Matt's number.

I think all I have left is DirecTV to call. I will probably do that next week. I called SHP - it appears that medical examiner's reports take forever and a day to be completed and sent. But Matt's license and registration are at the office so I'm going to pick those up tomorrow.

I put both kids to bed last night and tonight. That's a pretty huge feat for me. Matt and I always did the bedtime routine together for Noah. Handling it alone has been very challenging and I oftentimes enlisted the help of other family members. But the timing has worked out better these last two nights; especially tonight. I was able to get Chloe to sleep first and then do the same for Noah. So far so good.

There is a photo of Matt in Noah's room; the one that was displayed next to his casket at the visitation. I tell Noah to "give Daddy a kiss" and he walks over to the photograph and kisses it. And then I say, "Daddy loves you." I'm really glad Noah recognizes Matt in pictures. I wonder if he will retain memories of interacting with him. I hope so. I feel sad that Chloe only had three short months with him and 80% of that was actually spent with me. I am thankful for the few pictures and videos I have of the two of them. It's just sad that there are so few. Very sad. I know that our friends and family will always share stories about their daddy and there are pictures and videos and all that... but that still doesn't replace him being there. It's good that we will at least have that stuff... but it will never be as good as what should have been. It is not the same. And that's just a plain and simple fact.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit" - you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, "If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that." - James 4:13-15

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ten Days

I dropped Tom off at the airport today and picked up my grandma. She will be staying with me until we move. I can't believe I only have ten days left.

I did end up calling Trooper Coley last week just because I had some more pointless questions (they are so patient with me; I'll come back to that in a minute). I asked if he knew where Matt's phone was, and the computer, and his wallet... I felt weird asking about that stuff but I just had to for some reason. He wasn't 100% certain about the phone or computer since the fire department dealt more with the things in the car but his wallet was in his suit coat. He thinks the phone was towards the driver side and the computer was in the front passenger area. I ask about what he was wearing - a white shirt, which I figured by process of elimination when going through his closet but still don't know which tie! And lastly, I asked what he looked like. I'm sure that's another one of my repetitive questions. He started telling me a little more about what initially took place. I learned some more details I didn't know before...

When the call was placed to 911, it was called in as property damage. Trooper Coley was right up the road so he got there first. Apparently, it's rare that they arrive first on scene to an accident where severe injuries are involved but that's only because it was called in as "property damage". There were two women standing out there and he asked if either of them had hit the tractor. They said no. So he asked who hit the tractor. They pointed to the woods where Matt's car ended up so he ran over there and saw Matt and that he had injuries to his face. A volunteer fireman was the second one on scene and had some gloves. Trooper Coley happens to be an EMT so once he put on gloves he was able to open Matt's airway and then he saw that Matt had a severe injury on the right side of his head that he didn't initially see. Three people saw the impact and no one called 911 to report a potential injury; only property damage.

Witness #1: "I was traveling west 264 I saw the black Jeep slam into the back of the tractor."

Witness #2: "I was in the left lane beside/behind black jeep. the black jeep came up behind the tractor in Right lane and rear-ended tractor."

Witness #3: "I was traveling EAST on Hwy 264 and saw an impact on a John Deere Tractor headed West 1/2 mile from Mozingo Rd."

I just want to say that the state highway patrol office here in Greenville has been wonderful. I know that the hardest part of their jobs is to track down next-of-kin to tell them that their loved one is dead. But they were very professional and very sympathetic and have been VERY patient with us throughout this whole ordeal. The two that came to my office to deliver the news both left their cell phone numbers and told me that I could call anytime, day or night, if I ever had questions. When my father-in-law and I ventured into the SHP office to obtain a copy of the accident report, one of the sergeants sat down with us for over an hour & a half while he explained things and answered our questions. The office closes at 5:00 and we were there until 5:15. We were never ushered out, in fact, we didn't even realize what time it was when we left. I have called Trooper Coley what seems like a hundred times and he has been so gracious about returning my calls and/or answering my (oftentimes repetitive, I'm sure) questions patiently and thoroughly, despite how trivial they may seem. He and another sergeant also joined us in a meeting with the district attorney for yet FURTHER clarification, despite how old I'm sure this whole situation was to them, and it is just nice how available they have all made themselves to us in providing whatever we need. I'm sure they would say it's just part of their job but they have definitely helped settle my mind and make this situation a little easier on me... as easy as they possibly can. If you ever come into contact with a state trooper, even if they're about to write you a ticket, give them all the respect in the world because this is the type of stuff they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's official.*

I'm really leaving. My last day at work is September 9 and then I'm moving that weekend. I wish I could just continue what I've been doing so I never had to face the fact that I'm moving my life back to Michigan. It's just making everything more real. Each major step I take will feel like that. It's something I know is right; it's what I need to do... but at the same time, it's a reminder. A terrible reminder about what is actually going on here.

Now here is something really weird (and I mean weird - not one of those "neat" weird things). I cleaned our bathroom this afternoon. It was WAY past due. I'm sure Matt was enjoying his popcorn up in Heaven while watching me do that. I rarely cleaned the bathroom and never to the extent of which I cleaned it just now. Not only was Matt a romantic, but he was also a clean freak. So he cleaned everything. Anyway, cleaning the bathroom meant washing the sink, which meant getting rid of the little flakes of blood that came off of Matt's cell phone (I removed the bottom half of the cover over the sink... no idea what happened to the top half as it was not with the phone - strange?). If it's not weird that I was sad to do that then I don't know what is. I was thinking about how Angeline Jolie had a vile of Billy Bob's blood on a necklace... yeah, I so wish I had Matt's blood in a vile on a necklace. As crazy as I thought those two were, now I'm thinking they had the right idea. I wonder what kind of looks I would have gotten if I made that request at the hospital. Well, his blood is him so I was just trying to cling onto anything I could... including that.

Here is a random story I never wrote about - after I picked up photos of the car and accident scene from the station and was thinking about them on the drive home, a tiny white feather landed on my windshield while I was stopped at a traffic light. I told myself it was a feather from one of Matt's angel wings. =D It stayed there for the rest of the drive home so I saved it! I may or may not have gone crazy.

My absolute need to know everything that happened on Matt's side that day has diminished a bit. And THAT is a good feeling because that constant questioning inside my head was so exhausting. It also helps me feel more closure now that that is starting to pass. However, I am still anxiously awaiting the medical report, which I hope is ready this week. That should tell me what Matt's specific injuries were. And, if I need to, I will call the physician whose care he was under in the trauma center. What I'm asking myself now is, "What about this head injury made it not survivable?" Because he survived one already. I'm just curious. Why was it different this time?

It may be apparent through the tone of my post but I am feeling okay today. I think I'm just excited that my grandma is coming down tomorrow to help me finish packing and then it also feels nice to have a date set for moving. It's sad but good. This mixture of emotion I get throughout this process is slightly annoying. Am I heartbroken? Yes... but am I also comforted by the Lord's presence (and Matt's, too)? Yes! It's very hard to describe. In short, I'm holding on.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our Last Dance

It was one year ago today that Matt and I danced together for the last time. We were at our friends' wedding reception. There's not much more to this post than that simple observation. In honor of talking about "dancing", though, I will leave the lyrics of a song Matt wrote called "The Dance", which was my favorite. Beautiful.

Light a match, strike up the band
They play her song as she wanders in
His moves are on fire here tonight
Can't take his eyes off of her
He's been paralyzed
By those piercing eyes

He starts the introductions, "Hey, who are you?"
"The woman of your dreams, I'll be all you need.
All you need and your neverending symphony."

Placing his hand upon her waist, their eyes become locked in a trance.
Their future together flashes before him - This dance will be the final number
Lasting for eternity

I will never let go - keep my eyes fixed on you
This is a miracle, that of a dream, an award-winning movie
You and I are the stars of every scene


"I will never let go
We can dance this floor until our faces grow old"
For years he waited for the band to play her song and end his pain
Now she dances with him
And they won't stop, knowing what they'd be giving up
Truest love

Dancing through the days; the good and the great, the hardships and worries
he dips her underneath every pain and takes them his own way.
Darling, look deep into these eyes
I won't let a thing hurt you
When we dance, you'll see
That feeling 'neath your chest's invincibility

An Opportunity

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I'm going to do with my life. In the long run, that is. Before, I was happy where I was, working because I wanted to. Working in a fairly laid-back office environment with good flexibility (which was great because if someone had to go pick up a sick child from daycare, it was me 99% of the time). Once we had two, I worked to keep them in daycare because I wanted to. But, yes, the majority of my salary went towards tuition! However, it worked for us and I didn't want to stay at home.

Needless to say, Matt was our provider. And he worked very hard. I always admired his work ethic although, at times, I will admit that I just wanted to be with him. Because that's how hard he worked... it seemed it was almost nonstop sometimes. Well, now I have to be the provider. Not only that, but I have decided to look at my "new" life this way: I am being given the opportunity to essentially start over. I didn't die with Matt literally, but... in a way, I did die with Matt. That entire life we had together is gone. So now what? This major, unwelcome change is actually an opportunity for me to really think about what I was put on this earth to do. Because clearly, it wasn't what I was doing before. And Matt will be right there watching over me so whatever I decide to do, I want to be sure I make him proud. I know he's already proud of me in the way I have turned to God during a tragedy where some would turn away... but I want to continue down that path. I want to live my life for him because his was cut short. I should be looking at the rest of my life as a gift, not a curse.

He always encouraged me to further my education and career, to push myself to do great things. Of course, not right now necessarily, being that we had two very young kids that require a lot of attention... but over the course of my life. So I think I'm going to do that. I have thought a lot about it in the last few days. It is quite early; I don't anticipate going back to school for at least another year while I get everything else in my "new" life established... but I think I'm going to do it in the future. Not only for him but for myself. I have a new perspective on life, I just experienced a great loss - I think I can take the energy from my grief and sorrow and direct it towards making positive changes in others' lives.

Your life is not a gift to yourself, it's a gift to others. So what am I going to do with it?

We will see. I'm thinking early, as I said... but if there ever was a time to change my life's path, this is it. Maybe this is my purpose.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Negativity commences... now.

One minute, life is grand. I'm happy and cautious and take care to make it in this world because I have a companion whom I love and adore and we built a happy life together with many memories yet to be made. The next minute, I'm left solo and would welcome any kind of life-threatening situation so I can move on to the other side to be with my companion who was taken with no warning whatsoever (and apparently didn't take enough care to make it in this world; of course, this situation required an abnormal dose of care above and beyond any normal person's expectations... but still). Hurricane Irene was good for nothing but five hours without power.

That was short and sweet. I hope I have something more insightful to say tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I finished "90 Minutes" tonight. If anyone has ever lost someone close, that book will really give you hope. I dogeared three pages toward the end so I'm going to go back to the paragraphs that seemed to mean a lot to me.

"For them, time is not passing. Everything is in the eternal now - even if I can't put that into words. Even if ten more years pass, or thirty, in heaven it will be only an instant before I'm back there again."

"I don't have a death wish. I'm not suicidal, but every day I think about going back. I long to return. In God's timing, I know with utter certainty that I will. Now I look forward to that time and eagerly await the moment. I have absolutely no fear of death. Why would I? There's nothing to fear - only joy to experience."

"Being separated from them had never crossed my mind while I was in heaven. People in heaven simply don't have an awareness of who is not there. They do know who is coming."

"I am here, I am alive, and it's because God's purposes have not yet been fulfilled in my life. When God is finished with me, I'll return to the place I yearn to be."

It comes as no surprise to me that Matt had fulfilled God's purposes for him. What were his purposes? I can think of a few:
  • Bringing people together in the hospital under one common cause: to pray him back to health
  • Persevering through his recovery, living life to the fullest and, by doing so, bringing hope to other traumatic brain injury survivors
  • Finding true love that was right under his nose the whole time ;) And he loved with every bit of his heart and soul
  • Showing me God in his life, and truly leading me to Him in his death
  • Giving life to two beautiful little souls; maybe they are supposed to do big things in their lives
  • Bringing people together again upon his death
And I'm sure many more great things I haven't listed. There's probably way too many to list all of them. He is the type of person I aspire to be like.

I vs. We

I'm in a transitory phase going from "we", "us" and "our" to "I", "me" and "my". And "is" to "was". Simply put, I don't like it every time I go to say something and have to use the past tense now instead of the present. And I'm sure, at times, I don't.

I had a very pleasant dream last night, which was a welcome change from the nightmare I had two nights ago. Needless to say, Matt was there. Wearing white. His soul went back to his body and I knew it would be the most glorious thing ever because it would be his "heavenly" body. Somehow, I knew this was taking place and was really excited. I went to greet him. I got the warmest feeling and I know we spoke but I can't remember what was said. Then, I took him out to see his family. Our time was limited because he would have to leave again. I woke up feeling so happy. When we hug in my dreams, it feels so real.

I packed up more of Matt's clothes today and got a lot of filing accomplished in the office. I had to go back to Staples to get one more file tote. That is not a good place for me to go. I always went with Matt. Makes me get that feeling in my stomach when I walk in there.

I didn't realize that grief had "symptoms" (like a medical issue) until I came across an article written by a therapist in Grand Rapids. I found it interesting...

Appetite disturbances
Social withdrawal
Dreams of the deceased
Desire and need to talk about the deceased
Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased
Senses presence of the deceased
Hollowness in the stomach
Reassessment of one's faith and belief system

Those are not all of them but those are the ones I'm experiencing or have experienced.

It also says that often the second year of grieving is more difficult than the first. The normal grieving process takes two to five years.

Grieving is the price we pay for loving.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I was in the office transferring our files to the plastic bins I bought yesterday. I got to a folder labeled "Memories". I had no idea such a file existed. Matt was our filing expert; he was in charge of all the paperwork.

I decided to look through it and my discovery brought a smile to my face. A bunch of cards I had gotten for him. The program from Easter Vigil Mass when I became Catholic. Various notes from him. Little pictures I drew for him. And what made me the happiest... a TON of the songs he wrote for me. They are from when he played an acoustic show downtown in December 2005... it was his "set list". I looked over them and teared up when I came to one line in particular...

We can dance this floor until our faces grow old

That really got me. I can still hear the exact way he sings it in my mind. It's from a song called "The Dance". It is a very sweet song. One of my favorites he ever wrote for me. I'll talk about favorites again in a minute but first I just want to try to describe the feelings I get when I encounter memories (both in my mind and the tangible things). It makes me happy and brings a smile to my face but at the same time it feels like a punch in the stomach. It is a very uncomfortable feeling. Cherishing all of these memories and seeing evidence of how much we loved each other; I find joy in it, but with it comes the realization that there will be no more. Ever. Not in this life. Not like this. It makes me almost feel sick.

Matt also wrote a Christmas song for me entitled "Christmas Angel".

Here is a little note he left for me one morning.

Good morning, Sweetie,
Just dropping a note to remind you of how much I adore you.
How many times can
I say it without it
sounding "old"?
I love you and
you complete me.
Eternally yours,

He is eternally mine and I am eternally his. There must be something bigger and better waiting for us on the other side.

I can't get over how sweet it is to find this folder. Matt saved all this stuff! And I had no idea!

So back to my favorite songs. I actually found a list I made. I think he asked me to rank all the songs he wrote about me so here it is:
  1. The Dance (it is so amazingly sweet; I hope I can find a recording of it somewhere so help me God)
  2. The Name on the Radio
  3. All My Love
  4. 360 Degrees (talks about his car accident and our reunion; the first song he ever wrote for me)
  5. The Moon
  6. My Guardian Angel
  7. Guardian Angel, pt. II
  8. Your Voice
  9. What Could Be Better?
  10. The Story That We Dreamed Of
  11. I Love...
There they are. Even if I don't find the recordings, at least I have all the lyrics and most of them have the chords/notes above them, too. There are some songs not on that list that he must have written afterward (like Christmas Angel).

But anyway, last thing - I found an envelope with a letter inside that I wrote to him. On the envelope it says, "The Many Reasons - Rebuttal". Then I remembered the letter that he wrote to me first with "The Many Reasons" why he loved me. I can't even tell you how much I wish I knew where that was right now! But here is what mine says (bear in mind this was written in college - some of these are funny):

My Reply <3
I love...
Your ambition to succeed in this world
When you call just to know that all is well with us so you can sleep with a "clear conscience"
The way you look when you break in pool... sexy
Your taste in music & how you love to share all the new bands with me
How you apologize for things that you think upset me, when really, I'm the one who should apologize... so cute
Knowing that you love me & care for me with all your heart because you show it
The yummy food you make for me... & the way you pretend to like my food even though it's the complete opposite of "yummy"
How you are so protective of the women in your life... & the way you talk about killing other guys who check me out =)
The songs you write & being the first one to hear them in the making
Your smiles
Your "pretty boy" sense of fashion... now that's hott!
That you wear your heart on your sleeve <3
The way it feels to be wrapped in your arms & trapped in your gaze
When you do anything you can to make me feel better if I'm under the weather
Your crazy eating habits... it's a quirk that makes you Matt
The way you look with no shirt on... yum
Making out with you
The way you pressure me to study despite the fact that it seems to annoy me
How comfortable we are together

I love these things about you & more
What makes it even sweeter, is that we both know, without any doubts, that we love each other unconditionally
I love you <3

If I can't find his "many reasons" to me, I will be very sad... but at least I have the one I wrote to him. =)

Matt is my SOUL MATE and no one else could ever come CLOSE. I was the luckiest girl in the world and I guess, in a way, I still am. We will be together again.


I had my first nightmare last night about Matt. It was very strange and haunting. I accidentally came across a picture of his body on the hospital bed after he died... but it looked as if he was staring at the camera. He was dead though... blood on his upper torso and head and on the bed sheets. I looked away, horrified, and when I looked back at the picture, it was just the hospital bed. His body was gone. It seems like there was some communication between us at some point but I cannot remember at all what was said (I'm pretty sure this was not while I was viewing the photo).

Then all I remember in my nightmare was seeing a bunch of head trauma scenes play before me like someone was playing a video. It was the most disturbing dream I've had in a long time.

I wonder what in the world prompted that.

On a happier note, I'm seeing how Matt's death has brought people together and continues to bring people together even over a month later. He had such a strong, positive impact on everyone that so many people are reaching out to each other, to me, to our family... and it brings a sense of warmth and peace to see that. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Silly Regret*

I stay up much much later than I used to. I've been managing okay on less sleep. But I used to be adamant about getting eight hours. I would often kiss Matt goodnight and head to bed. He was a night owl. I would be in bed at 10:00 on most nights.

Now I just think about how many more hours... days, even... we could have had together if I stayed up late then like I do now. I survive fine now, why couldn't I have just put forth the effort to stay up later back then? I know it's silly... I put the warning in the title. It's just another one of those little demons residing in my head. Just like, "Take tomorrow off, get some rest," echoes through my mind quite often. I can't help it.

I went to Staples today after work to get some plastic filing totes... knowing very well that's where Matt did most of his "supply" shopping and I went with him on occasion. I remember shortly after we moved here, he went to stock up on various supplies, including a rolling tote and some storage bins for his samples and literature. He had a clear plastic bin with a black lid that sticks out in my mind only because I saw it in the pictures. Well, I had to go to that department for file storage and I saw a lot of those lined up along the wall. I just kind of stared for a few seconds. The image of the lid in his car that was in the back and ended up in the front, covered in blood, briefly consumed my thoughts. That's not to say I regret seeing the pictures at all... I just now have a very clear vision of where certain things ended up and what they looked like after the collision. So I can't help but to think back to it when I see something similar. I wouldn't say it's haunting or disturbing - just distracting. That's probably the best way to describe it.

I want to share some stories about Matt - a true testament to his character. He was eager to help those in need. When you think about the "WWJD" idea, that was Matt. I remember when he called me during the day once and told me about how he had bought a meal for a homeless person who was asking for change.

There was another time where he did the same thing... but he went completely out of his way to a drive-thru and then he went BACK to search for this man and give him the food. He had to ask someone where the man went because he was gone by the time Matt got back. He basically tracked this guy down to help him out.

We were in Boston last summer for Independence Day and grabbed lunch at a bagel shop on one of the days. Matt only ate half of his sandwich but he kept the other half with him to give to a homeless person rather than throw it away. We got to the train station and there was a man there standing with a sign. I will always remember Matt saying, "Sir? Would you like a sandwich?" I could tell he was stepping out of his comfort zone a little bit... but he did it anyway.

I always wanted to be more like him. And he truly has made me a better person today and I strive to live my life as Matt did each day so I can be the best person I can be in the future.

Last one - and this happened "not long before his death," as I always say. In fact, we were going to pick the kids up from daycare together so it must have been on Friday, the 15th, since I always get home early on Fridays (I loved being able to spend that extra time with him if he got home early, too). A homeless man sits on the same corner every single day during rush hour. We pulled up to that corner and Matt handed me a $5.00 bill. "Give this to him," he says. So I did. And today, on my way to pick up the kids, as I pulled up to the corner, I rolled down my window to give this same man a couple dollars. Of course it feels good to do something nice like that for another person... but it feels especially good to me now because I know that I'm living my life in Matt's honor.

I could share several more stories like those but it is obvious what a good heart Matt had. I was always so proud to call him my husband. I'm still proud to call him my husband.

We (Tom and I) went to dinner with some friends tonight... our friends that Matt and I were excited to start hanging out with because they have a daughter just a few months older than Chloe. It was my first time going out anywhere with just friends. And it was a little difficult for me because I was just picturing Matt there with me. He should have been there with me. It should have been me, Matt, April and Johnny with the kids. Like it used to be. We went to a new restaurant that opened a couple months ago and I would tell Matt we had to go there sometime because it was so close to our house and delicious! Instead, the first time I went was without him. Not the way it was supposed to be.

I packed up Matt's suits and ties earlier, as I mentioned in a previous post. It may be a possibility that the weekend of September 9th is when I will make the move... but that's tentative. I have a mental list of the major things that need to get done in terms of packing, and it doesn't sound like a lot to me, but then when I actually start one simple task, it seems to take FOREVER. I've come to realize that I'm somewhat out of character right now in terms of packing. When we would move before... I'd throw a bunch of random stuff in a box - no orderly fashion whatsoever - and call it good. But it's completely different now. I'm in deep thought. I want everything to be perfect. It has to fit perfectly in the bin or it won't go in there. His ties have to be folded just so; his suits flat. So what would normally take me five minutes probably takes me 30. And I oftentimes come across something of Matt's that I literally just stare at and run my fingers over for an abnormal length of time (guitar picks, for example). Look, when I packed up his electric razor that I used to shave his head, I collected all of his hair that was stuck to it and put it in a baggie. Yes, I really just said that. I continue to surprise myself.

So I will have a better idea after this weekend as to whether or not I will *really* be able to leave then. And I need to start giving people a heads up, which I meant to do today and completely forgot (like the daycare). I also meant to call our realtor - forgot that, too. But that's okay. What I don't get to today can always happen tomorrow.

Parenting 501

This is the advanced course. The learn-how-to-do-everything-yourself course... learn-to-be-in-more-than-one-place-at-once course.

It is the nightmare I always imagined being a single parent would be. I know I will adapt eventually, but this learning process is not easy. I basically have to let a lot of things go. So Noah is throwing toothpicks all over the floor... while I'm trying to go put Chloe down to prevent such a thing. Happens anyway.

So Noah is eating and I know very well that I need to stay in close proximity so I can prevent him from throwing food everywhere. But I'm nursing Chloe so I can't exactly help it. He makes a mess and all I can do is try my best to parent with an infant attached to my boob and clean up later.

I'm trying to put Noah to bed and he's almost asleep... and Chloe starts crying from the other room. So I think I can sneak out of Noah's room undetected... false. He comes walking into the bedroom and ends up falling asleep in our bed because I just can't do it anymore. We were planning on weaning him off of his paci and never allowed him to have it in public after he turned one. Then all this happened and now I let him have it whenever he wants. I can just read the minds of judgmental strangers - I used to be one myself. Not anymore.

I have moments where I just feel absolutely hopeless. I would dread every time Matt had to go away for work for a few days. It was awful. Even when he had to work late some nights and it was up to me to just make it through dinnertime without his help... it was challenging. I need to grow an extra pair or two of arms.

Matt did most of the cleaning. I can barely keep up with the laundry and dishes as it is. It's a good thing I'm working part-time right now so it's manageable... but I can see myself hiring a cleaning service when I establish another full-time job. I can't believe it's possible to parent, work 40 hours a week, keep a clean house and all of the other little things that need to be kept track of - alone. Matt and I together could barely keep up!

Some of the hardest moments are have are the moments where I only wish Matt was here to help me raise these kids. I hate to even think about when they start school, extracurricular activities, sports... will I survive? It's not even like I'm divorced and "Dad" is still around to help with those things... he's simply gone. With no warning whatsoever. I've been thrown into the snake pit.

I don't like it when my posts contain a depressing undertone like this but I just want to be honest about what I'm feeling and that's what I'm feeling right now. It's just one of the more difficult things I go through since Matt's death... if not the most difficult. Feeling like a shitty parent without your lifelong companion to help you laugh it off is really hard.


Losing Matt has thrown me so far out of my comfort zone that I have to create a new one. There's no going back. I'm being forced to make major life changes. I'm simply trying to keep my head above water amongst all this chaos. One day at a time. I'm moving my family back to Michigan where I will be rebuilding from the ground up. I always thought we would move back to Michigan when Matt found a great job opportunity up there; I never thought I would be moving back because he was gone. Well, I've thought about it, but I never thought it would actually happen.

Matt did ask me once... "What would you do if I died?" And I answered him. I believe I said, "I would move back to Michigan, live with your parents and go back to school." I'm not sure where all that came from... but I am doing all of the above minus the school part for now.

I have thought about him dying before. I don't know if that's normal or if I'm just morbid or if my heart somehow knew something that my brain refused to accept as a real possibility. But I have thought about it. And when I thought about it, it wasn't 50 years from now; I thought about it in present-day. It was a terrible thing to think about; it brought tears to my eyes. Why would anyone think about that? I don't know but I did.

Now I'm starting over. Not because I want to. I had my perfect life and it was taken away. But if I'm going to look at this on the bright side, which is a typical trait of mine, the world is at my fingertips. If I have to do this... I might as well do it with a positive attitude. Because it's going to happen regardless. Matt would want me to embrace my new life. I know that. It is going to be very difficult but there's no going back to what I had.

I went up to the attic today to assess the situation. I brought down some suitcases, one of which was Matt's actual SUIT case. I packed up his suits, ties, socks and belts. I still can't figure out which tie he wore that day. There is one that I'm missing but it could have been one that was ruined or something and he threw it out... or maybe not. We called it his "Spiderman tie" because it was red and blue. I just hadn't seen him wear that one in a while so I'm not sure.

While I was up there, my eyes fell onto the fake Christmas tree and the bin of Christmas ornaments. I got sad. I opened it just to see what was on top. A Christmas ball from the church we married in. And a little snow globe ornament with his name on it. Those were two that I picked up, looked at, and put back. Then I set it aside.

I went further to some plastic storage bins, one is filled with Halloween stuff and the other was just a bunch of random stuff of Matt's. There was a little basket inside and I found a simple one-sided card. All it says is,

Help me to
Remember that
Nothing is
Going to
Happen to me
Today that You
And I together
Can't handle

I also found an award he received on the swim team in 2000 for "most improved". And I found a little paper pamphlet that is "How to say the Rosary". Perfect. It has a diagram of the rosary, step-by-step instructions and all the prayers, Hail Marys and mysteries.

And I don't know who has a floppy disk drive anymore but I found two floppies; one is untitled and the other says "Matt's Pictures".

I oftentimes look at the sky now while I'm driving. Well, I try not to do it WHILE I'm driving, but if I'm stopped at a light, I just gaze at the clouds. I think about Matt; think about where he is, what he's thinking, what he's doing. I still have moments where my heart sinks at the realization that he will NEVER be back here. I will NEVER see him again. Not in this life anyway. But one day...

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down - when we die and leave these bodies - we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I felt great after meeting with my grief counselor for the first time. It feels nice to talk about everything that happened that day, physically and emotionally. Now I will be sad to leave her when I move back to Michigan but she told me that moving back where family is, is the smartest decision I could make. I also asked her questions about her experience after her husband died. It is so awesome to talk to someone who can relate to my situation. Well, it's not awesome that anyone ever has to go through what I'm going through now... but she was there... two kids; her husband died violently in a helicopter crash... she knows what I'm going through. I can't wait to meet with her again next week.

I was kind of surprised that I didn't cry at all. Actually, I felt like I was smiling a lot. I was smiling when I told her about how we met. Smiling when I told her about Matt asking my dad for permission to marry me. Smiling when I told her about how Matt was there as my sponsor when I became Catholic. Despite the sadness that envelopes me, I still find joy in our memories and it feels so good to talk about them.

When I left, there were "stairways to heaven" coming from the clouds. Those hold a whole new meaning for me now.

.. and there it is.

It is as painful as it looks.

I was thinking back to that night I rolled over in bed, half awake, and saw Matt praying on his knees. I wonder what he was praying for. I will never forget that image. He occasionally checked up on me in the praying department. I gauge things that happened before his death by how long beforehand they occurred. I usually say, "Not long before he died" when I think something happened within a month of it. Could even be within a week. I'm not sure. I just know it seemed close. What I'm about to say is one of those things. I can't remember where we were... if we were at home or in the car. He asked me if I prayed. "Do you ever pray?" is what he said. I told him... yes, as a matter of fact I do. Not very often... it was usually just whenever I had a moment alone. He asked me what I prayed about. I told him mostly I just gave thanks for everything I am blessed with. And for the Lord to continue to bless us with good love and good fortune. He said, "Good, I am glad to hear that."

Sometimes I feel sad that Matt was taken so young and I think about all the things he will miss. Then I think, "This has nothing to do with Matt." He WILL be there for all the "things". He WILL always be with us. This has to do with us. This is something that happened to us, not him. Matt was brought home. Now he's waiting for us, watching us, guiding us. It is up to us to reach out to God now and prove to Him that we are at His mercy; we will grow in faith and let Him guide us. This tragedy is bringing us closer than ever to each other and to God. I feel closer than ever to God because my husband is right there with Him now. And he is guiding me to a stronger faith just by being there. I hope he knows it.

I started reading more of 90 Minutes in Heaven. After his description of Heaven ended and the story of his recovery began, I stopped reading for a while. I thought, "What's the point in me reading the rest? The part I really cared about is over. He survived his accident and Matt didn't." But I picked it up again yesterday and read a LOT. It opened my eyes. This man was angry with God for showing him Heaven and then putting him back on Earth. He went through agony for a year on his way to recovery. He frequently questioned why he was back here. He frequently wished he was dead. Then he realized that he was put back on Earth to share his story and bring hope to others. And that's exactly what his book did for me. I shed some tears while reading. And I'm really glad I picked it back up.

The white board in the laundry room still looks like this:

Back when life was good. I don't think I'll ever bring myself to erase it. Someone else will have to do it for me. Kind of like Matt's place setting at the dining room table. Just disregard the fact that we rarely cleaned up the table the same night we ate dinner... but his plate and silverware were just as he had left them the night before when I came home a widow on Wednesday. I could not bear to clean it up. I cleaned up everything around it. But I didn't touch his. It's a good thing someone else did it because it would still be sitting there now if they hadn't. Just like the ironing board in our bedroom. Granted, that won't attract bugs, but I dread when the time comes to take it down. Matt was the "iron man" in the family. I never ironed. He was all about it. So he set that board up to iron and I don't want to take it down. But I will soon. It's in my way and most everything is off of it by now.

I feel like I just keep getting one more step away from him. Every little thing I do is one step further from the life we had. So I hang on to as much as I can until I can hang on no longer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Other Side of "What If"

I've often thought about the what-ifs in terms of things out of my control - the Starbucks cashier, the drive-thru line, Matt's stubbornness.

But there is a worse scenario I can think of. It's hard to believe it could get any worse but I made it happen. What if Matt overslept that day and I left the house without waking him up first? Yes, it has happened before. But he woke up at his normal time and took it slow; he didn't leave the house until just before 10:00 on his own accord since he wasn't feeling well. But if he had slept through his five alarms instead... and I didn't wake him up before I left then it would be my fault. Indirectly, of course... but still my fault. Thank God that's not the case.

It amazes how one could be so stuck on one day. It has been over a month and yet I'm still stuck back there on July 20. I probably will be for a while. It has slowly stopped consuming the entirety of my thoughts... but still very much present in my mind. I am shocked when I think that we are almost to SEPTEMBER. I am still in July. When my family was normal. When my husband came home every day and I would cook dinner. When he would play with Noah and Chloe and they would laugh and smile. July is the last time I was truly happy. Our son is about to turn two and I only just realized how close it was the other day. I am hardly in the present; if I think about the future, it's about how alone I will be and when I think about the past, it's about how happy I was.

I'm meeting with a counselor tomorrow. This will be interesting for I have never met with a counselor in my life. I searched for counselors here and her name came up. I cross-referenced my search results with the referrals I was given by EAP, and I was really happy when I found that she was on the list. She is a widow herself... she was widowed with two toddlers. I hope that this will be as helpful as I anticipate... to talk to someone who was where I am. And now she specializes in helping those like me.

Matt was such a special man. He was a great father and I looked forward to watching him grow with our two kids. As sad as I am and will be for a long time (forever), I can't help but to also feel blessed that I have a very strong connection to the other side - the closest connection I could ever have. The man who loved me. He's now watching over us and when my time comes, he will be there to greet me and welcome me with all the love he had for me here on Earth once again.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I don't know how I will manage the rest of my life without his love.

This is from a blog Matt kept a long time ago. This entry was made September 14, 2005 after he took me out on a super sweet double date with some friends of ours.

Dinner at Cygnus… $80
Carriage ride around the city… $40
Dessert at Cygnus… $20

The smile on the face of the most beautiful girl in the world… Priceless

I will never get things like this ever again. I just get to hold onto the happy memories.

He was so romantic; he loved doing things like that for me. I was so lucky to have him.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I was looking at Matt's credit card transactions today and got confirmation that he did, in fact, stop by Starbucks before leaving town that morning. Hence, why his wallet smelled like a coffee drink. I figured that was the case.

What if he had just resisted Starbucks that morning?

Or what if the cashier at Starbucks only went a little faster or a little slower?

What if Matt let another car go in front of him? Or vice versa?

The timing might have been different. The lineup of cars might have been different. It could have been someone else's name in that news article... or maybe it never would have happened at all. If the cashier at Starbucks went slower or Matt let another car go in front of him, or if the drive-thru line was longer... the farmer could have made it that half a mile to the exit. He would have been off the highway by the time Matt got there.

This is the stuff that will drive a person mad.

One Month

Exactly one month ago, as I type, Matt was at the trauma center. He wasn't dead yet but they knew he wouldn't make it. It will be another 45 minutes before he's pronounced dead (11:35am). I still don't know anything about his injuries except for his immediate cause of death being "blunt force head trauma". I would like to know more. I'm just waiting for the medical report to be released to the SHP.

I can't even really put my emotions into writing. What can I say? It has been one month. One month without my husband.

Later-added edit:

I have been scrolling through Matt's Facebook history the last couple of days and just got to his posts from August 2010. Exactly one year ago today, he wrote:

"Thank you Lord for watching over my family today"

Friday, August 19, 2011

This Emotional Torture

This emotional torture is killing me inside. But unfortunately, you can't actually die from it. I'm chained to this feeling for the rest of my life. I will get to watch everyone else's love thrive while mine is gone forever. I don't know how it could get much worse than that.

I'm on the decline today. I'm feeling it now more than ever.

I can't help but wonder what I did to deserve this. What does one have to do that is so horrible to deserve losing the love of her life at 26? He was my lifelong companion, my soulmate. Why couldn't I have at least been in the car with him? Did I take him for granted? Sometimes I feel like I did. This passion pouring out of my heart now - why didn't I show it like this when he was alive? Why couldn't I have just treated every morning like it might be the last time I saw him? Of all people... why couldn't I do that much for him?

"A time of calamity comes to all alike." - Ecclesiastes 9:11

The doorbell had rung right after I wrote the above. It's obvious I was at a point of hopelessness. I haven't felt that dark since the night of July 20. And it's been exactly one month since Matt was killed. I almost didn't answer the door because I was nursing Chloe but after the second ring, I decided to get up. Our neighbors had gotten our mail by mistake and their son was bringing it over. Among that mail was a letter from a complete stranger. She lives about an hour west of here. She provided me with several Bible passages, including the Ecclesiastes citation above. I think it was divine intervention because her letter addressed my current feelings and lifted my spirits when I most needed it.

I read Matt's obituary in the newspaper and I was moved to express my sincere condolences. While I cannot even imagine what you are going through, I have found the Bible to be a source of real comfort and hope to me personally.

When faced with tragedy, I found the Bible's explanation of why there is suffering and death to be very encouraging. It helped me appreciate that God is not responsible. For one thing, the Bible alerts us to the fact that "time and unforeseen occurrence" befall all humans (Eccl 9:11). For example, Jesus referred to a news item of his day - 18 people were killed when a tower fell on them. He made it clear that their death was not because of God's displeasure but because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (Luke 13:1-5).

The Bible also reveals the prime cause of suffering and death. Simply, these are the consequences of Adam and Eve's disastrous decision to disobey God. Once they sinned, all they could pass on to us was sin and death (Rom 5:12). But the Bible shows that God purposes to end death (Isa 25:8, Rev 21:3-4). What a wonderful time that will prove to be!

In the meantime, I pray that the "God of all comfort" will help to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds (2 Cor 1:3-4, Psa 147:3).

"Matt returns"

This was the week Matt would have been gone at the National Sales Meeting. He would have been in Washington, D.C. and flying home tonight. I had it marked on my calendar at work. On Sunday, "Matt leaves"; today, "Matt returns". I wish.

Every day I get through is one less day I have to be without him. Every day I get through is one day closer to the day I die. I can appreciate that. One day at a time. I'm not asking to die right now. Every time I write things like that, it probably looks bad. All I'm asking is for God to take me when He feels it is time... whenever that may be. Tomorrow... December 21, 2012 (I have a feeling that will be a big disappointment)... 11 days shy of my 28th birthday... any given July 20... or 50+ years from now. When I die, while mourning and grieving are natural... and something I know a lot about (I wish I didn't), just know that I'm in Matt's arms again and that is the greatest gift I could ever be given.

Packing is such a process. But I'm also being super meticulous about it. I put together Matt's suits in the closet today. I paired the pants with the jackets and fastened them all. I was trying to figure out which suit he was wearing that day. There were two jackets in his car and he doesn't wear it while he's driving. I had the pants to one of them so the other one must belong to the pants he was wearing. It was a black suit from Macy's. I wonder which shirt and tie he was wearing. His wardrobe is way too huge for me to go by process of elimination... but I may figure it out once I get through everything.

I packed up some more photo albums, frames and our Willow figurines. We have three Willow figurines: "Together" from when we got married, "Our Gift" from when I was pregnant with Noah and "New Dad" from when we had Noah.

I picked up two more scrapbooks today for all the sympathy cards. I already have one completed. I love to look at them. I also put together a scrapbook of things pertaining to Matt's funeral - all of the letters to Noah and Chloe are in it, as well as condolences and obituary guestbook entries. I have so many sentiments about Matt and so many great things he left (mostly his songs) that I believe Noah and Chloe will grow up feeling like they know their daddy. And they will be around so many people who will share memories of Matt with them. Even though he's gone, they will still have strong father figures in their lives... two especially that come to mind: Uncle Tom and Matt S. You two will have a great impact on Noah and Chloe as they grow up. And Matt knows it... he's happy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I haven't listened to music since July 20.

The last song I heard in my car was Going Under by Evanescence. That was the song that was playing when I pulled into work after lunch. Fitting title. I have no desire to hear music anymore. And if I do, it just reminds me of Matt... sometimes that's nice but it can also be very saddening. I'd rather not take the risk if I can help it.

I should also stop going through my Facebook news feed for a while. There's too great a chance of coming across a lucky friend who gets the luxury of posting about upcoming trips with their husbands, anniversaries, sweet things their husbands do for them, funny stories involving their husbands. Matt and I had so many more memories to build. Why couldn't we be so lucky? Or I should say... why couldn't I be so lucky? Keeping in mind that he is the lucky one here. We only had 6-1/2 short years. That's not enough. And to live the rest of my life without him - now that is an awful thought. At least I can be thankful he never had to go through what I'm going through. Not that I would be concerned had he. Because I'd be in a wonderful place free of worry like he is now. I have my doubts that God will be taking me anytime soon considering I have two children who are now 100% dependent on me and only me. I constantly have to remind myself of things to be thankful for... the things Matt and I did get to experience together (and those he experienced himself):

The places we've traveled: Boston, Panama City, Washington D.C., Disney World, Aruba (the first time for both of us leaving the country), Charleston, Asheville.

The places he's traveled (without me): Colorado, Hawaii, Las Vegas~ I use to give him a hard time about the last two but now I'm glad he was able to experience them.

Our summer trips to the cottage on Crystal Lake.

The births of our two beautiful children.

The places we've lived: Grand Blanc, MI; Midland, MI; Greenville, NC

We shared a candy addiction. He was always bringing me home little treats that he would pick up after making pharmacy calls or stopping into a convenience store. He was so thoughtful.

We've owned two houses in less than four years.

Three years of a strong marriage through our share of challenges, including two lay-offs and moving away from our families four states away. Matt was always working on making our marriage perfect. He wanted us to be perfect and I did, too. We loved each other so much. At least I hope he knows how much I loved him and love him.

If we had a silly argument, it would almost always end in laughs.

Neither of us were afraid to admit when we were wrong.

Matt had a son he adored. He watched him come into the world, watched him smile for the first time, laugh... crawl... walk... talk... and Matt was so proud. He watched him turn one. We endured teething and sleeping woes together. An overnight ER visit. And toddler tantrums.

He had a daughter he also adored. He watched her come into the world, made her smile, and the first time she ever laughed was for him.

When I got fired for the first time ever (!) I thought he would be so mad. I came home in tears and he told me it was fine and comforted me all night. I've gotten two tickets in my life and they both resulted in me crying the rest of the way home! Matt was there for me. Matt's tickets resulted in him cussing the rest of the way home. I was there for him. :)

I always looked forward to our road trips back to Michigan twice a year. I loved taking road trips with him. I loved being in the car with him all that time, just talking, listening to music and recently, trying to entertain our son. Any road trip we've taken has been among my favorite memories because it was just us being stuck in a car together and it was wonderful. Just talking.

Matt was so goal-oriented and he worked hard to fulfill those goals. Sometimes I would get upset that he seemed to work all the time, even at home after 5:00 and weekends... but I know he was just trying to be successful for us. And he was. He always wanted to be better though. I hope he knows I'm proud of him. I loved him so much I wanted to spend time with him every chance we could. He loved me so much he wanted to work his butt off so he could spoil me (and our kids).

We were all we had down here in North Carolina... the only family. We counted on each other. We came to North Carolina together, built our family and now I'm taking my family back to Michigan without their daddy. I hate thinking about how long it's been since Matt was killed. That just reminds me how long I've been without him. The last time we were apart about this long was in 2005... but we talked every day. We don't even have that anymore.

I pray every night that he stays with me. I promise him that I am always his and I pray that he waits for me. He has my whole heart forever and I can't wait to see him again. I hope he remembers me... as silly as it sounds. I keep forgetting that time in Heaven isn't linear. Of course he won't forget me. When he sees me again, he will probably feel like he just saw me "yesterday".

They take me for a weakling.*

The descriptions of Matt's car are much worse than the pictures. I'm sure it's worse in person but the pictures aren't half as bad as I thought they would be. I guess they wanted to make it sound really bad considering they didn't know how I would react and wouldn't want me to be upset. That's understandable. Tom looked at them first. There are only two pictures I won't let others see due to blood. I'm going to put the pictures on a separate page (link at the top) so that if you're not comfortable viewing them, you won't find them here. The front of the car is mangled. The windshield is out. The roof is peeled back. The air bag deployed. Most of the obvious blood is on the airbag (again, not posting pictures of that). There's also blood on the dash and in the center console. There was nothing there to block the impact because the farm equipment came through the windshield above the steering wheel. One of the officers told me if he had been sitting up higher, he would have survived.

I have been going through some of the stuff in the office. I rarely ever went into that room; it was basically all Matt's stuff. So I think that will be the most difficult room to pack considering I have no idea what half of the stuff even is (computer parts, etc.). It will probably take the longest. But once I get the desk cleared out then hopefully it goes a little faster from there. The closets will be the next most time-consuming. I started working on the worst one; basically our junk closet!

I find myself wondering what the tractor driver is feeling. Sometimes I hope that he has trouble sleeping at night knowing that his careless, negligent, irresponsible decision to drive a tractor 25mph on a 70mph highway cost a young family their father; a wife her husband. It is so hateful for me to think that but I can't help it sometimes. I really don't even think like that often; only on occasion. I have to remind myself what's done is done and whatever he thinks has nothing to do with us. It could have been anyone. But it was Matt.

I did dream about Matt last night. He was sending me messages; communicating via drawings. He drew pictures of a person crying; he was asking me if I cried a lot. As if he wasn't there watching me cry that night. It was a really strange dream. There was more to it but I can't remember the rest.

I don't regret seeing those pictures at all. I'm glad I did. I kind of wrote the title to this post on impulse. I'm not trying to imply that a wife who doesn't wish to see pictures of the vehicle in which her husband sustained fatal injuries is weak.

I hope Matt doesn't mind that I'm sharing songs he wrote in high school. But here are a few lyrics from a song written on February 25, 1999.

What if...
God's way of making us repay Jesus was by letting us kill ourselves with our sins. With every new sin we commit, that sin is directed upon Jesus. We sin so much Jesus is overloaded & the rest is put on us, as it should be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Half of a Mile

We painted a cross to put on the side of the highway today. It was built by a friend of some friends... so very generous of him. It's beautiful. It has Noah and Chloe's handprints on each end.

I found the passenger side mirror of Matt's car in the wooded area where it came to a stop. I also found his stylus to his iPaq. I kept both. There were two pages of pharmaceutical literature, a windshield wiper and various pieces off of his car. Lots of shattered glass. We were in the last place Matt was alive.

I took a closer look at the suit jackets that were hanging in Matt's car. They have been out in the garage. I'm guessing they were hanging behind him on the driver side. There are several blood stains on one. Lots of little tears and rips on both of them.

I have an appointment set with a grief counselor next week. I cannot wait to talk about everything. It helps me so much to talk about it. The fact that my husband died so tragically and so violently weighs heavy on my mind.

Tomorrow, I've got to call the SHP office to ask about pictures of the car and the medical report. I still have questions. Hoping I see the first trooper on scene although the chance is slim, I want to ask if he noticed where Matt's phone was in the car when he came up to it. Where his computer was. And where his wallet was. Why? No reason... I'm just curious. I guess even if I don't talk to the trooper directly, I will likely find the answers to these questions if/when I look at the pictures. I'm still not sure I will look at them. Or if I will wait a while and then look. Or look right away. I've been warned. And yet I still want them just in case.

I was thinking about how much Matt went through after his first accident today while we were working on the cross. It's just amazing what he overcame. I wish I would have told him that more often.

If the tractor driver was getting off the highway at the next exit (the officers think he was), he had 1/2 a mile left. Half of a mile could have made all the difference in the world. And we wouldn't have even known it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life's not fair.

I had two fabulous dreams last night. And they were both just me hugging Matt upon reunion. I never wanted to let go. I don't even recall any dialogue, once again. I was just in his arms, where I yearn to be. And it seemed like one of the dreams I had was really long, but it was only 20 minutes. I woke up at 6:40 and my alarm doesn't go off until 7:00 so I went back to sleep. It felt like more time went by in my dream than it really did. Like time in Heaven isn't linear... same thing with dreams.

Last night was more difficult than usual. It's hard to lay in bed and just stare at all of his clothes. I see all his suits and ties and shirts hanging in the closet and it reinforces the fact that he will never be in them ever again. I look at his cologne on the shelf and think about how he will never use it ever again. He will never be in our bed next to me ever again. When I look at his things and really think about how one day he was there, touching them, and then he was gone... it just reminds me that he's gone for the rest of my life.

I started to pack a couple things. Really, just movies, video games and books. That's it so far. I don't want to pack everything and leave. I don't want to leave our house. It's just going to make it all the more real. I will no longer be able to imagine him walking through our door. I don't want to leave because this is our home. Leaving will just seal the deal that he's not going to come walking through that door ever again. I know that moving to Michigan is the right thing to do and what Matt wants us to do, I just hate that I'm being forced to turn my back on the life we've built here. But there's no reason to stay without Matt.

I've started to think about ideas for the monument that will be over our burial plots. Who knew that I'd be buying my burial plot at 26? Who knew that I'd be picking out my headstone at 26? Who knew that I'd be burying my husband at 26? To a certain degree, this is still all so surreal. You just don't do this stuff so young. It's not fair.

Fair or not, it's my life. And my brother in law just informed me that single mothers have a longer life expectancy. Very not fair.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Care for you in life and death"

I packed up most of Matt's books yesterday and also came across two important things. The first was a scrapbook he made for me. It documented the summer he spent in Boston for an internship. Summer 2005 - our first summer together. In it are the songs he wrote for me while he was there. Here are some that stuck out to me.

These are from a song called "The Story That We Dreamed Of"

Walking toward the tracks, the enemy pulls the ties out.
But the lover, he smiles at she whose wings will lift them up.
They avoid disaster and are carried to the sky
Where they will reside in one another's arms forever.

My darling, this is the story of our love
A movie script, a fairytale and everything we dream of
Best friends, just like lovers should be
We are meant to be together for all eternity.
We both know nothing can take us off the tracks

For you, I'd bleed
Eight hundred fifty miles will soon become
A mere 2 feet away from me
Where you'll always be
Lying in my arms
The woman that surely completes me

These are from a song called "(You'll Always Be) My Guardian Angel"

You'll always be my guardian, the angel; shine
from Heaven
The light at the end of the tunnel, your smile
reminisces of halos
I will give you what I have
Bring your life full circle
Care for you in life and death
For eternity, we can be

And then I found his journal. In planning Matt's arrangements, something inside me told me Matt wanted to be buried as opposed to cremated. We've had this discussion... probably on more than one occasion. So I just knew I was doing what he would want.

And I have read this journal before so it was familiar to me. Reading it again last night just served as kind of a refresher.

On August 12, 2006 - and hopefully he doesn't mind that I share this slightly paranoid side of him.

I bought some ant spray to rid our house of the pests & sprayed it in one corner upstairs. I got a little on my hands, though I've washed them dozens of times since, & had water & coffee. Nevertheless, I think I'm afraid to sleep for fear I'll pass away from the poison. Ridiculous, right? In any event, & whenever it happens although it's morbid to think about, this is what I want done if it is questioned:
I'd like to be cremated - 1/3 thrown into Crystal Lake, 1/3 at the farm and 1/3 as a filler in a crystal piece for Steph to wear on a necklace, preferably a locket, which reads, "You are my all, my everything."

On September 11, 2006 -

Edit: I'd rather be buried next to my beloved, Stephanie (we talked this over).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Matt was my guide.

It's fair to say I never really considered myself a religious person. I believed in God and Jesus and that was pretty much the extent of my spirituality. At 14 and 16, Matt and I never discussed religion in high school. But when we reunited in college and our relationship grew, it often came up in conversation. Matt was Catholic. I was non-denominational and never went to church regularly. I wasn't even baptized. But I remember the first time I ever went to Catholic Mass with Matt. I was trying to figure out what to wear. We were at my townhouse. I ended up wearing khaki pants with a green striped button-down shirt. Somehow I remember that.

From there, we oftentimes went to church together... probably every week. I found that I enjoyed the organization of Catholic Mass. And it was just serene and beautiful. Time went on and we knew that our relationship was pretty solid, as in... we would go on to marry each other. Matt talked to me about becoming Catholic and I was interested. I did not belong to any church and I wasn't even baptized so I felt that joining would be a good thing for me and for us. I wanted to become more spiritual.

Matt contacted the church to sign me up for RCIA, which is Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. He went to every single class with me. I always asked him questions about religion. He was my guide. I remember watching The Passion of The Christ with him at his townhouse one day. He told me I was feeling the Holy Spirit after watching it based on my reaction.

It was my 21st birthday, April 15, 2006. The baptisms took place during Easter Vigil Mass. I was baptized, confirmed and took my first Communion from Father Tom; the same priest who married us, the same priest who officiated Matt's funeral and the same priest who baptized our daughter. Matt also met with him for Reconciliation the prior year. He wanted to do another Reconciliation here in Greenville. He had been meaning to go; it just got lost in the shuffle of a house to keep up and two young children. He wanted to be the best person he could ever possibly be; in faith, in family and in career.

Matt was there as my Sponsor with his hand on my shoulder as I became Catholic on my birthday.

Matt showed me God. I oftentimes wonder if that's one of the reasons he was given 11 more years. He showed me God during his life here on Earth and he continues to show me God every day following his death.

No one ever dies alone.

This is a dream I wrote down a little while ago.

Matt had been dead...
but then he came back.

He was normal, like nothing happened at all. But we were both aware of the fact that he had been dead.

I had this dream last night:

I was walking through the grocery store and there was a mirro
r. I saw Matt's reflection in the mirror and it was very clear.

The dreams I've been having are very simple. And I don't recall any specific conversation between me and Matt. It's mostly just seeing him.

I have pictures of the computer and the GPS that I'm willing to share. However, it might be prudent for me not to post the picture of his cell phone. I don't find it at all disturbing because it's my husband's blood so it doesn't bother me like it may bother someone else. This is really weird for me to say but his blood doesn't bother me because it is a part of him. It's like having him with me, in a sense. I put his wedding band on my finger while it still had blood on it. I didn't want to wash it off but, of course with washing my hands, it came clean anyway.

Today we held the Memorial Mass at our church here in Greenville. I did the first reading. I was nervous. Not so much about reading as I was about being able to make it through without crying. I got emotional but I was able to contain it. I wanted to do it for Matt. I think he is proud of me. I also sang. I used to never sing in church. Matt encouraged me to but I never did. Sometimes I would pretend to sing. I wore his necklace to Mass. We came home, I changed out of my dress. And then I went to take the necklace off. And again, for the third time, I had to use my opposite hand to take it off from what I used (and always use) to put it on. I always kiss his cross when that happens. And I kiss it before I go to bed. It still rattles my mind when it happens. Wouldn't I feel something? I would have to take the necklace off and flip it over in order to make it do that.

I want to go back to the closure I was describing before. I feel closure because I feel like I finally know what happened. And I've had so many theories since the day he died. I thought I'd have it figured out but then something else would come to mind and my theory would change. All of a sudden, after all the people we've talked to and all of the things I've seen and heard, I just have a feeling that I know what happened. And so with that came peace and closure. And I have Matt to credit for that because I think he was guiding me to the answer at which I finally came to rest. And it's okay. I love him. I may share what happened one day; I'm not ready for that yet.

I read the first few chapters of the book 90 Minutes In Heaven. I wanted to read it for the description of Heaven this man gave. I wanted to get another perspective because I want to understand where Matt is and what he feels. The following two passages stuck out to me:

I wasn't conscious of anything I'd left behind and felt no regrets about leaving family and possessions. It was as if God had removed anything negative or worrisome from my consciousness, and I could only rejoice at being together with these wonderful people.

Age expresses time passing, and there is no time there. All of the people I encountered were the same age they had been the last time I had seen them - except that all the ravages of living on earth had vanished. Even though some of their features may not have been considered attractive on earth, in heaven every feature was perfect, beautiful, and wonderful to gaze at.

I'm going to go back to the Memorial Mass because the homily that Father Edward gave contained a sentence that really struck me:

No one ever dies alone.

After everything, I realized I had never been concerned about him "dying alone". And Father Edward affirmed why that was. Because inside I knew that Matt was with Jesus the moment he struck that tractor. The only thing that concerned me was what he was feeling. I didn't want him to be in pain and I didn't want him to be scared. But I have been assured a number of times that Matt didn't feel anything. And my concern about him being scared is addressed above... from the first passage I included out of that book.

Sometimes I would wonder if he could have survived. But I finally came to the realization yesterday that it was impossible. Nothing could have been done to save his life; time had nothing to do with whether or not he survived. His injuries were fatal. It was just a matter of when his body would die. That realization also provided some closure. It wasn't a matter of "if"... only "when".

Matt loved politics... it was one of his passions... so I will conclude this with a transcript of one of his voice recordings that was on his phone:

The terrorists have won. We have become a nation of sissies looking over our shoulder constantly at our fellow man. Our countrymen are not the ones who attacked us on September 11th. The majority of the world population were not the ones were attacked us on September 11 but the ones who we condemn the most are those with which we live amongst. And because we do so, and have opted instead of offending those whom hurt us, we instead harm those whom we should love.