Sunday, October 30, 2011

Five Halloweens

Losing Matt is the greatest loss I could ever suffer except for our children. But even then, at the very least I could think, "Now they're with their dad." I feel like any loss that comes after this, while still inevitably painful, I will always think, "They are with Matt now" and that brings me peace. I really don't think it could get worse than this. Knowing that Matt is already in Heaven will comfort me through future losses. He will comfort me.

I will miss Matt a lot tomorrow while we go trick-or-treating with the kids. It's Chloe's first Halloween and Noah's first Halloween where he will actually "get it". So tomorrow will involve some extra doses of "Matt void".

In honor of Halloween, however, I will share some memories of the few we did get to spend together.

In 2005 (our first Halloween), I was a devil fairy thing and Matt was "emo". We went to a couple of parties and did what college
students do, lol.

In 2006, we were engaged; I was a sailor and Matt was V (for Vendetta). We went to some parties and I remember Matt trying to drink with a straw through the mouth hole in his mask, lol. It didn't work out too well.

In 2007, it was our first year married so we had our house in
Midland. Matt bought some kind of ghostly cloak thing with red eyes that lit up. He sat on the porch to hand out candy because I pretty much told him to even though it was cold and rainy. :P But I sat out there with him and he told me I had better at least make him some coffee for making him do that so I did, lol.

In 2008, we were in our townhouse in North Carolina. We didn't get too many trick-or-treaters, which made me happy because I could eat all the leftover candy. We rented a horror flick; it might have been The Descent but I can't remember.

In 2009, we had bought our house in North Carolina and were the new parents of a baby boy. :) We went to a pumpkin patch, Noah in the stroller wearing a little Halloween sleeper, and I remember it was HOT outside. We walked around the pumpkin patch a little bit and talked about how "next year Noah will enjoy it more".

In 2010, I was pregnant with Chloe and Noah was a new walker, 13 months old. We went back to the same pumpkin patch and Noah was walking/stumbling about. I distinctly remember Matt and I on either side of Noah, holding his hands while he walked unsteadily. He fell in the dirt a couple of times. We took him around to look at the animals. We bought him a Winnie the Pooh costume that he wore to his daycare Halloween party and then we took him trick-or-treating to one house across the street but she wasn't home and that was the only house we went to, lol. We got that on camera, Noah's first trick-or-treat attempt. He obviously didn't get it but it was fun watching him walk around in his little Pooh costume.

Five Halloweens. I like to think he's not missing out on anything in his kids' lives. I get sad about all the things they are going to miss with their daddy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I wish I knew him better through his first accident.

I knew him, of course, but he had broken up with me the day before his accident so I wasn't very close to him through his recovery. I visited him a few times from what I can remember in the hospital and at the rehab center. I wrote in the journals that were kept for him that his family and friends wrote in. And then I remember that he wanted me to call him once he was back at home. So I did and we just talked... and that was it.

I almost feel like I didn't fully appreciate all that he overcame because I wasn't there. I knew him and I knew that he escaped death but I now continue to hear more details about the challenges he faced and I just wish I would have told him more often how miraculous he was. I wish I had known more. I wish I had asked him more.

I know we had moments together where we read back through those journals and talked about details of the accident and his recovery. I guess I just never stopped and really thought about it.

After that phone call that summer, I think I ran into him at a couple of parties and then we ended up in the same math class his senior year (my junior year). After that, I went to pay him a visit at Aquinas my senior year and after that, I paid him another visit when he transferred to Grand Valley my freshman year in college. And after that... I think that's when we actually started hanging out again during my sophomore year and it didn't take long for us to pick up where we left off in high school (before we had broken up). :)

I remember asking him about his recovery a little bit that first time we met for coffee. Then the topic of the conversation quickly turned to music. And we frequently discussed it after that but not as in-depth as I'm now wishing we would have.

I just feel like there was more to know. Maybe he didn't really remember all the details. Maybe he just didn't think about it like I did because it was all normal to him. I did know a lot about the struggles he overcame though... I should have asked him more. I could have appreciated him more.

Before I forget...

Another dream with Matt last night.

He was dead and then came back. He seemed tired. We were laying next to each other and we got to hug AND kiss! Even better. :) The only bummer was he said he never saw any of my Facebook posts or blog entries while he was dead. But I think he can know what my thoughts are. Only because of that time when he entered my dream and addressed my concerns about life after death. That was so crazy. And the very first dream I ever had where he came to me and told me that "this was real". It's very supernatural and I'm glad I'm open to it because I think that's how it's possible for him to meet me in my dreams... even if it makes me look crazy. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Colossians 3:12-17

What a perfect devotional verse today! This is my goal in life:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Ready to live

I was struck down with the flu last night. I'm still feeling it but it's bearable at this point. I was laying in bed feeling horrible last night, just thinking. I was thinking about how I felt like I was dying and came to accept that I actually had a lot of life left and I am ready to live it. I am ready to live for Matt, for our children... in Christ's name. And no matter how long I might have left, I will embrace every minute. Every day I miss Matt and every day I have missed him since the day he died. It will not get any better but I believe that I must cherish each day despite this heartache and emptiness that comes from losing my husband, my partner, my best friend. I know that he is with me and will always be with me and with our children.

I had plans to go to Traverse City today but obviously the flu changed those. So that will be postponed until Tuesday. Then I couldn't help but think that maybe something bad would have happened to me today had I gone and the flu saved my life by keeping me home. Who knows? I over-think things like that every day.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm still in denial. I am subconsciously tricking myself into thinking that maybe he will still come back? I know he won't but it's certainly not difficult to pretend. I guess it's a fantasy I can create on purpose even though I know it's impossible. One thing is certain - I will see him again one day. It just won't be here.

I started watching sports. There's not much about sports that makes me feel bad (missing Matt). I've been insanely out of the loop in terms of TV shows and movies, I haven't really watched TV since the night before Matt died. But we never watched sports so it's kind of a new thing for me. I've been learning a lot about baseball and football!

It has been a few days since I last posted. I have just been. I don't really know how else to describe it. Sometimes I feel like I'm just in a trance, going through the motions of life. Maybe I'm ready to start down my new life path. Ready to start on my classes this winter. I've had so much time to think and reflect lately... I feel so blessed about that. I think it has helped my healing process tremendously. I don't know how many people in my situation are fortunate enough to basically halt their life and just pause for a while. Not only did I lose my husband but I also had to quit my job and leave our home. Well, I guess I didn't HAVE to but it was the obvious right choice for me. We (the kids and I) need to be close to family. It is important for us to be surrounded by loved ones who can share memories of Matt on a daily basis. It is important for our kids, especially, to grow up in such a way that they can know their dad as best as they possibly can with him not being here. It is my hope that Matt will continue to watch over us and feel good about the way we are carrying on his memory. I want to be sure to do everything in my life to honor Matt and to be the best person I can possibly be.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I had a lot of crazy dreams last night.

Matt showed up in the middle of one. It was really strange. I was having a dream with him in it (as a character)... and then he showed up. So there were two of him. The "real" Matt was just standing there and he smiled at me. He looked really good, too. He is getting tan (from all that Heavenly light, I suppose), lol. And it looked like he just had a haircut; it was short. It was right at the end of this dream I was having; right before I woke up. Oh, and now that I'm recording this, my memory is serving me well - we hugged. We hugged and I kind of folded myself into his chest, I turned my head (to my left) and pressed it against him to get as close to him as I possibly could. It seemed very brief. Brief but wonderful. We did not talk. Then I woke up.

This is the best thing that happens to me these days. It's the closest to him I can ever get for as long as I live. So I hold onto these special moments that are purely transcendental. They bring me back to him and remind me that even though I can't touch him, can't speak to him, can't smell him, can't hear him... he is not far. Always with me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beautiful night sky

Raindrops dance on the leaves
like gentle fingers on a piano.

Today is Chloe's first day at daycare here. I can't believe how quiet the house is! I can just sit and stare in silence for as long as I like. I will be bringing her two days a week.

What is a sign from God? We were discussing the northern lights on Sunday night. I mentioned I had never seen them before. They mentioned they had never seen them here before. And the very next night, the starry sky was lit up with beautiful glimmering northern lights. We shut off all the house lights and walked outside. It was as though the pinnacle was right above us and it was like watching light dance across water, but up in the sky instead. It was amazing! I felt like it was a gift from Matt and a true sign from God.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Here, you don't look UP at the sky, you look out.

I feel like it's the closest to Heaven I'll ever be as long as I'm alive.

My transitory days are officially numbered. I start classes on January 9. It's bittersweet... I am looking forward to beginning the path to my new future but it's also a reminder that life has to go on without Matt. And it's really going to cement the idea that everything is changing. It's what I have to do, I know, but it just sucks that it's what I have to do, if that makes sense. I just have to keep my mind on my goal and remember that this is all for helping others like him and like myself in the long run. I'm taking my experience from this heartbreaking tragedy to do something good with it.

I wonder how long I will live my life as a semi-lie? I had my oil changed this afternoon and the guy who took my information said, at the very end, "That's a nice wedding ring you have there." I said... "Thank you." THEN, he asks, "Are you married or just engaged?" I guess I wouldn't expect a man to differentiate between just an engagement ring and an engagement ring/wedding band like I have. But that totally caught me off guard. So in that second of hesitation before answering the question I think to myself...

Is this an important enough interaction to really start the "It's a long story" game? Does it really matter? Technically, I am married... or am I not?

I kind of sighed with a short "uhh" and said, "I'm married." I'm certain that just gave the impression that I either lied or that I'm in an unhappy marriage. Whatever the case, I am glad that happened at the end so I could just leave. He replied, "Good for you."

I can just go through life lying to whomever I choose, I suppose. It's not like it really matters. It's probably not healthy but that's what I get for wearing my wedding rings. A little false life... maybe I just shouldn't go back to this particular dealership ever again, lol.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend recap

I'm back! We went to Newaygo/Grand Rapids for the weekend. I had my advising appointment on Friday. It went really well. I have my schedule! Which feels really weird... nostalgic. I'm taking three classes - biology, chemistry and psychology. And my adviser is wonderful. I also found out that I can purchase health insurance for both myself and the kids through GVSU... for a much lesser price than what it will be through COBRA after my premium is no longer being paid in full by Matt's company.

I literally have to get A's in every single class... if I even want to have a shot at getting into GV's nursing school. So the pressure is definitely on. And I'm definitely nervous!

I tried to go computer shopping but Best Buy didn't have any of the Dell XPS laptops on display. Neither did Sam's Club. And no one else sells computers. So I never got to play around with what I wanted but I still ordered it from the Dell website. I'm really excited to get it and I think it's safe to say that Matt would be proud.

On Saturday night I had another "silent cry" while I was putting Noah to bed. I was just thinking about Matt and missing him. Well, I think about him and miss him all the time but the stream of tears only presents itself sporadically. Usually when I'm laying in bed or driving. I held out my hand for him to hold. I wish he could. I wish he could be there with me.

Well, this is more of a "catch up" post versus actually having something of quality to write. I just wanted to post something since it's been a few days. But it's late and I'm tired so this is it for tonight!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

God is holding my hand every step of the way.

It's been three months today. As I look at the clock, almost exactly. In fact, about 10-15 minutes ago Matt's life changed forever. It was his last hour. I think he must have been in between (Heaven and earth, that is) since he was unconscious. I wonder what he saw. I wonder if he knows what happened to him. I wonder if he was afraid. Scratch that last part. I know he wasn't afraid.

I feel I have been coping well. But I've had very little, if anything, to do with that. God is the one holding me up. And I am so thankful. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have my faith. I mean... I don't know what I would do if I hadn't found my faith. After all, this showed me God. I can't say I was a fantastic religious person before all this.

I never mentioned something about that day. It's a small thing. Kind of an odd thing. I noticed a small, light, red/brown dot (about the size of a pencil eraser, maybe slightly bigger than that) on my ribcage below my right boob (don't know how else to describe it, sorry). It's like a birth mark, really. I never had that before July 20. I noticed it that night. And it hasn't gone away. I tried to Google "marks appearing after death of a loved one" or something similar to see if that has happened to anyone else, lol. I just find it... weird/special/interesting. It's my special mark. Who needs a tattoo when you have a mystery mark?

Yesterday morning, Noah woke up and said, "Daddy" again. It was after hearing sounds in the kitchen from MIL and SIL. He must have thought that Matt might be in the kitchen. He misses him. I think these things are going to start getting more frequent and more intense as Noah gets older.

I wanted to attend a widow/widower support group today, but after researching what the "Friendship Center of Emmet County" was, I thought... this is not a right fit for me. It's a senior center. 'Nuf said. I know of a place in Grand Rapids that will probably be good for both me and the kids so I can wait until we move. I feel like I'm doing fine without support groups and a counselor. Talking to my counselor in Greenville very soon after the accident was GREAT though. I really needed that so I'm glad I didn't wait.

I keep looking at the clock and imagining Matt exactly three months ago. Why did I choose now to write? This is his final hour. Now he is in the emergency room. In a way, though, rehashing all the details of that day helps me. It just helps me to accept this as my reality. One more month gone... Matt is not coming back. But he is always with me.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-E. E. Cummings

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Note: Book"

I remembered a short while ago that Matt had a Yahoo account. So I hacked into it (not really) and looked at his "sent" folder. Yes, I do feel weird going through his stuff. But I found some notes he sent to himself from his old phone. This is his first memory after his car accident in 2000. I think he wanted to write a book about his recovery, hence the subject line. So here is this little piece I found:

Note: Book
Date: Dec 10, 2009
Category: Book

Note: Book

Colors and shapes faded in and out on a wall full of reminders of the life I once lived. The urge to urinate was at the front of my mind, so I turned to the right, to find my father who was fast asleep in a cot, nestled against the windowthat overlooked a dimly-lit parking lot.

I called out to him, "dad." but a weak jumble of sound was all that came out.

I decided to let him sleep and shoved the bedsheet to the left as I slid my right foot to the side of the bed. I snapped the safety gate down, which awoke my dad. As my right foot landed on the cold floor, my father said "Matt, wait!." while he ran out the the room calling for help, I swung my left leg off the edge of the bed. I held on to the bed for a moment to allow myself to get oriented.

I let go of the bed and crumbled to the floor.


My father and a women ran to me, lifted me up and walked me to the bathroom, where I sat on the cold toilet seat. After urinating, I was helped back to my bed.

On the way to the bed, I passed a full mirror and saw a reflection that wasn't mine. It looked like a shell of a young man. His face appeared to be sunken in, blotchy, and his once perfect hair was lopsided. His long legs were lke the legs of a spider and his arms were like two twigs. It was me.

in my neck, there was a hole with a clamp. I touched it. Somehow I knew something happened to me, but I had no idea what caused me to be the stranger I saw in the mirror.

I was abruptly awoken early the following morning by my parents. I wished I could sleep more, but a woman in her twenties steppped out from the hall and said good morning.

I smiled as she introduced herself and walked over to my bedside. She helped me to the shower, where I undressed and was seated on a wheelchair.

the shower started and as I began to wash myself, embarrassment flooded my mind as the women helped wash my frail body.

Under normal circumstances I wouldve loved the position I was in, but the formerly smooth guy with the muscular body and perfect hair didn't exist. I hardly had the strength to lift my arms. How did I get here?

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's one of those days where I'm thinking...

My husband is gone, my best friend is gone, my kids' father is gone, my life sucks.

Now that I have that out of my system...

I called the tattoo shop today and he said they CAN tattoo someone who is breastfeeding but they advise against it. And if I felt like I truly NEEDED it now, I would need to bring written permission from my doctor. The chance of a staph infection is really small but, if I got one, it would pass to Chloe through my milk so I'm going to just wait. I plan on weaning her in the spring so I'm going to set a goal of having her weaned by my 27th birthday so I can get one for my birthday. :) That will be my gift from Matt, lol.

I'm going computer shopping this weekend. I will definitely miss Matt, the computer guru. I don't feel right going to buy a new computer without him. But I kind of need one. I'm currently using a five-year-old laptop that Matt bought when he worked for Dell. It had turned into our crappy computer that I used as a cookbook in the kitchen or gave to Noah to play with. Thank goodness it still works. But it's definitely on its way out. Even a piece of the corner is chipped off, lol. Oh, and it doesn't hold a battery charge anymore. It must be plugged in to function.

I have listened to this song for a while now and I finally just took notice of the actual lyrics the other day:

Side note: There are clips from The Passion in there. I remember when Matt and I watched that movie together at his apartment. It was my first (and only) time seeing it. I was so affected by it and Matt told me I was feeling the Holy Spirit. I can't remember if I was baptized at that point or not (if not, I was close). That memory just sticks out to me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I saw his face.

I saw his face in my dreams last night. I was laying in bed, looking up at the ceiling and I just saw him. It felt so real that I had to think about whether or not it was a dream when I woke up. I'm not sure how to describe it. It was as though he was transparent and kind of fading in and out. All I could see was his face. And I don't think we communicated; we just looked at each other. He seemed peaceful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The hurt.

It's easy to recreate that feeling I experienced on July 20 when I received the news. That hollow, painful feeling
in my chest. It's just about enough to bring me to my knees. It's like an inner collapse. I think about it often.
I still think about all the things we left undone. And then... just like that, it was over.No goodbyes. No warning.
He was just gone.

I wonder what Matt would have done if it was me instead. This sucks so bad, I'm so glad it wasn't. I would never
want this for him. But I wonder.

We almost went to Italy in February 2009. It was Matt's #1 place he wanted to visit. Rome, to be exact. I looked at tours, corresponded with a travel agent... and then we decided we should spend our money on other things we NEEDED instead. We would go again another time for sure. We had the rest of our lives.

I wrote "I miss you" on the foggy bathroom mirror this morning when I got out of the shower. Not being able to talk to him anymore sucks. It's not like he went away and will be coming back and we can still text or write or call. I still have this need to talk to him somehow. So I will try anything. I talk out loud, I pray, I write, I still post on his Facebook, and now... I write on the mirror. I'm desperate.

I know he was in one of my dreams last night but I can't remember anything about it. But the fact that he was there is kind of a relief because I really haven't dreamed about him in a long time, it seems. I wish he would visit me again.

I'm going to call the tattoo shop tomorrow to see if they have a policy against tattooing someone who is breastfeeding. :D Because, if not... I'm going to get my first one on Saturday. :O If so, I will have to wait until next spring. :/ But that's okay. Either way, I'm excited to get it. I want to have Matt's memory permanently inked in my skin. He'll always be a part of me.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Daddy sleeping."

The three of us (me, Noah and Chloe) sleep in the same bedroom. Noah sleeps in a twin bed and Chloe and I sleep in a queen bed. I heard Noah get out of bed this morning and he kept saying, "Daddy sleeping." I got up and went over to him and I said, "Did you say daddy's sleeping?" He kept saying it and he was starting to get upset and he kept looking at the bed. Matt's blanket that he had ever since he was a baby was on the bed. He always took naps with it at home so Noah knows it is "Daddy's blanket". I couldn't figure out if he was wanting Matt to be in the bed with his blanket or if he had a dream about him or what. It was as though he was upset that he wasn't there. I was kneeling by him and I said very gently and softly, "Daddy died. He's in Heaven with Jesus but he will always be watching over you." I figured that maybe he dreamed about Matt... maybe he thought he was in the bed with him or something.

I hate it when I have to say that to him. I don't usually use "died" when I'm talking to Noah. But I know I need to eventually. So I just said it. I don't know if there is a "right" way to talk about it to him. I really have no clue what I'm doing... I'm just kind of improvising as we go along.

I heard a song today. One of the songs I downloaded from Matt's collection. It's called "Self-Conclusion" by Spill Canvas. The chorus goes...

Yeah, we all flirt with the tiniest notion
Of self conclusion in one simplified motion
You see the trick is that you're never supposed to act on it
No matter how unbearable this misery gets

I have never even considered in the slightest taking my own life. I could not do that to my family. And Matt would DEFINITELY not want that. Plus, I think it's a Catholic belief that suicide doesn't get you into Heaven... whether or not that's true is debatable but I wouldn't take the chance, being that I'm Catholic! However, I have thought about the idea in general (and how terrible it would be). Don't we all? When I was getting some things down from the attic in our home in North Carolina, I was at the top of the ladder and I looked down at the concrete floor in the garage. I thought, "All I might have to do is take a dive." That probably wouldn't kill me though. Isn't that horrible? And sometimes, when I'm handling knives, I think about how one swift motion could end it all. Surprisingly, I didn't have any morbid thoughts while I was shooting a gun at the farm last weekend! Not until after the fact, lol.

That song just made me think about it. It's about two people who are about to commit suicide: The guy gets there first to jump, then a girl comes up to the same spot for the same purpose, and he ends up asking her out.

"All right, you win, but I only give you one night
To prove yourself to be better than my attempt at flight
I swear to god if you hurt me I will leap
I will toss myself from these very cliffs
And you'll never see it coming"
"Settle, precious, I know what you're going through
Just ten minutes before you got here I was gonna jump too"

It's a good song. "

"No matter how unbearable this misery gets."

I know I've said that I wish I could have just been in that car with Matt. But that wasn't my path. If I was in the car, he probably wouldn't have hit the tractor to begin with anyway. So in that sense, yes, I wish I would have been there. But all this "I wish" and "if only" stuff... I would say I'm over it for the most part. I accept the things I cannot change.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Be prepared to suffer for Me,

in My Name. All suffering has meaning in My kingdom. Pain and problems are opportunities to demonstrate your trust in Me. Bearing your circumstances bravely - even thanking Me for them - is one of the highest forms of praise. This sacrifice of thanksgiving rings golden-toned bells of Joy throughout heavenly realms. On earth also, your patient suffering sends out ripples of good tidings in ever-widening circles.

When suffering strikes, remember that I am sovereign and that I can bring good out of everything. Do not try to run from pain or hide from problems. Instead, accept adversity in My Name, offering it up to Me for My purposes. Thus, your suffering gains meaning and draws you closer to Me. Joy emerges from the ashes of adversity through your trust and thankfulness."

This was the most perfect devotional today. It's from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.

"My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

This is right behind my license.

They will not go through your cell phone. If something happens to you, this will make it easier for officials to contact your next-of-kin. I just wrote out all of my information on three sticky notes, folded it up and put it right behind my license because they will retrieve your license to identify you. That's it. A simple thing... just make sure you keep it up to date!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I feel so accomplished and all I did was make a phone call this afternoon. I have an appointment set up with an academic adviser at GVSU for October 21. I called admissions, she submitted my re-entry form and I am ready to register for classes this winter!

I seriously can't believe I'm going to go back to school for a second degree.

I am... nervous, anxious, excited, determined... am I ready for this?! This has to be what I am meant to do. Otherwise, why is it happening like this? Why did God take such extreme measures to rip me from the wonderful life I had? Matt fulfilled his purpose and now it's time for me to fulfill mine. I just want to make Matt proud of me. And I want to help heal others, physically and emotionally.

Why nursing? I want to help people who are in a situation like Matt was in. I want to help them in a way that Matt couldn't be helped. I want to have a hand in fixing others. If others can't be fixed, like Matt couldn't be fixed, I want to be there for their families. I want to be a living example to them that everything will be okay. I want to share Matt's story of recovery from his first accident with patients. I want to bring hope and encouragement using him as an example. I just want his memory to live on by using his story to say, "Miracles do happen. Never lose hope."

I take comfort in comforting others. My broken heart eases when I can ease someone else's heartbreak. I want to take my grief and direct it toward helping others. I feel that nursing will allow me to do these things.

I am in for long hours and late nights. It is going to be a challenging path but all I have to do is think about Matt, think about Noah and Chloe, look down and place my finger on Matt's thumb print. It will be worth it.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26

The greatest gift.

I've been thinking. Obviously. I've been thinking for the past two and a half months. I try to keep my mind on the bright side. That's something Matt always admired about me so I want to keep that quality through this nightmare. For him. It's what he would want me to do.

When I look at the big picture, I have been given the greatest gift. I was given the gift of love through Matt. We had our own little fairytale. I have been given the gift of two children with him; two little blessings who will keep him alive. And, most of all, I've been given the gift of a guardian angel watching over us. The best guardian angel I could ever have... my husband. My husband will be there waiting for me when I die. He will walk me to the gates of Heaven, hand in hand. I couldn't ask for a better angel to welcome me home. There's no one else I'd rather have there than Matt. And I can't wait.

This life is just a stepping stone.

I thought about all this at roughly 12:45am. The night was so bright. I could see the lake. I just stared out the sliding door and looked at the stars. And I was overcome by the beauty of the night. And I just felt Matt was out there.

I told him before I fell asleep that he "made me so happy today". I hope he heard me.

(That photo was taken in the church on our wedding day.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I read that angels can communicate to us through numbers (and I wrote about it in a previous post). I am just going to accept it. I don't care how crazy it sounds. Because I happened to glance at the clock three separate times today: 11:11, 1:11 and 9:11.

I was going through Matt's Facebook and Xanga today... I was on a serious mission to collect any songs he shared so I could have a "Matt Mix" to remind me of him (and a lot of the songs are "our" songs). I started doing this a few days ago. Listening to his favorite songs makes me feel so happy. And I just happened to get one today where the lyrics spoke to me in a special way. It is "Run" by Snow Patrol, a song I haven't heard in a very long time. The chorus is mostly what caught my attention:

Light up, Light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paralyzed in thought

It's not hard to just find myself sitting, staring and thinking. Then it's difficult to break away.

We went to the farm in Clare this weekend (Matt's grandparents). The weather was most perfect. It was nice to be around family. But it was a new place without Matt. The last time I was there, we were together. Each new place without him is like another grieving process. It's like sub-grief; grief within grief. I was missing him terribly. I kept thinking about the first time he took me there. Kept thinking about how we should have been walking the property, holding hands. I have no one with whom to hold hands anymore. No one to hug, no one to kiss. No one to love like I loved Matt. It was all taken away in a heartbeat. I'm incomplete.

I know I've mentioned that I write to Matt in a journal. I wrote to him while I was upstairs laying with Chloe this weekend. This is probably a good glimpse at the types of thoughts I had so here is a part of what I wrote to him:

"Then I imagined you saying, 'I'm going to go check on Steph,' because that's what you would have done. Then I imagined you coming up the stairs, around the corner and your handsome face appearing in the doorway. You would have come lay on the bed next to Chloe so that she was between us. Just to talk."

I oftentimes wonder when my time will come and whether or not one tiny decision will ultimately lead to my death, like with Matt. I am sure that will fade over time but right now, I think about it. I just find it amazing. What were the odds?

I chose to wear Matt's cross all weekend. I usually wear it when I'm traveling. Actually, I always wear it when I'm traveling. I run my fingers over the indentation. I look at where it rests on my chest and think about how it was directly touched by the object that took Matt's life. I am fascinated with the fact that the cross was hit directly in the center. I found it fascinating from the first moment I saw it. Almost as if it were a sign from God Himself.

I hadn't cried intensely since the funeral. Until tonight. I think a lot of things just rose to the surface and I sobbed. Normally, I will weep tears and lightly cry. Ugh, it is bittersweet to cry like that. I know it's healthy but it also hurts. I guess it's a good kind of hurt. I think I involuntarily hold it in, especially since I'm around one or both kids 99% of the time and busy fulfilling their needs. If it's not that, I'm busy with some other task; anything from insurance paperwork to laundry. I have a never ending to-do list.

As I sat in this chair, crying uncontrollably, I lifted my head and my right earring fell out. That is weird because they clasp in such a way that it's like a hoop. It happened one other time when it was my last day packing in North Carolina. These earrings were a gift from Matt. I believe he got them for me for our one-year dating anniversary. I haven't taken them off since the funeral because I wore a different pair for that. But I wore them since the day he died up until then, too. Maybe it's just a reminder? A reminder that he is here and he loves me just as much now as he did when he was alive. It's the little signs like that... they keep me going.

When I was driving to the school to pick up Noah this afternoon, I saw a young couple walking down the sidewalk holding hands. All I can really think when I see things like that is, "They are so lucky." So lucky. What I would give to have Matt back. I'm empty-handed. I don't think anyone realizes how truly lucky they are to have that hand to hold unless they've lost it. How would they? There is no light without darkness. It's true, you don't know what you have until you have it no longer... when it becomes what you HAD. So the best thing that can be done in the present is to cherish and love with all your heart. It's the best thing that can be done. I still wish I would have treated every morning and every night like it was our last. And I'm sure it wouldn't have made a bit of difference because even then, I would still find something else to regret. It can never be perfect.

There is no perfect way to say goodbye.

Friday, October 7, 2011

This is the type of stuff I think about now.

We almost drove to Clare tonight but then decided to just get up and leave in the morning instead.

Maybe NOT going tonight saved our lives. Maybe, if we had gone tonight, something terrible would have happened.

Or, maybe, not going tonight killed us because something terrible will happen tomorrow. I know that's awful to think about but it's just the way I think now. I can't help it. Actually, I don't find it that awful of a thought but from an outsider's perspective, it probably seems awful.

That's all.

This gives me the chills.

It brings me back to that day. Makes me think about Matt. What he looked like on the table, being worked on. Doctors and nurses trying to save his life.

I wonder what they were thinking. I wonder what they thought when they knew he wouldn't make it. Wonder what they said about their day when they went home to their families.

That's it. The day Matt died on paper. This is what was happening to him while I was texting him; going about my normal day.

"He's... gone."

When I was at the doctor's office for Noah's two-year checkup on Tuesday, the nurse was going over some general information. Even though I already filled out forms containing this information so I thought she was just confirming my answers and knew about everything.

"At home.... mom and dad?"

"No. He's... " And then I was trying to fill in my own blank. Dead... too abrasive of a term. Deceased... who says that? So... I just said "... gone. He died in July." I should really just say he's dead and get it over with.

I still can't believe it's already October. It's just unsettling to think that time still moves forward without Matt. Time... has seemed to stop for me. But the days keep coming.

Turns out, I was a terrible college student. I'm embarrassed to even disclose my graduating GPA but let's just say I will definitely be starting over this winter. And I think I will go back to GVSU. I've thought more about it. I think I would just feel most comfortable there. They have a great nursing program. I don't care how long it takes... I'm sure I will have plenty of courses to (re)take to fill the time between now and the college of nursing anyway. It's going to be a bitch. But it will be worth it. All I have to do is think of Matt. Think of Noah and Chloe. Think of the rewards of nursing. The rewards of helping people heal. Or the rewards of comforting families. It might not always be happy but it will always be rewarding.

I've learned that some of the best things in life come from the worst things in life. Matt's death is the lowest of low points. But good things have come from it and good things will continue to come from it. And there will always be sad times, too. Sadness that comes from loss that comes from loving. But we have to endure these things; to lift each other up. And just remember how precious of a gift life is. We will be together again one day.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34, 35

Thursday, October 6, 2011

To whoever posted this comment:

Anony on Sep 28, 2011 at 09:28 AM
He was texting. His cell phone was found by troopers in his lap and phone records indicate this as well. His wife's blog says so.

I would appreciate it if you could respectfully retract and/or amend it so that it's accurate and true. Here is the post to which I believe you're referring:

Nowhere did I say he was texting. Actually, I know he wasn't texting because there are no texts in his inbox or his drafts anywhere near that point in time. There are no phone records indicating such a thing (or any calls, for that matter).

I don't mind if things from my blog are shared elsewhere... when those things are true. If this only had to do with me, I would let it go but it's not only an inaccurate remark about what I said... it's an inaccurate remark about what I said of my husband and that's what I don't like.

Matt was distracted. This is the most blatantly obvious fact of the entire situation. It was a clear and sunny day down a straight stretch of road and he didn't even look up in time enough to touch his brakes (according to witness statements). All you have to do is look out the window for one second, at 70 mph, that covers 102 feet. Two seconds... three seconds... you get the idea. A lot of ground is being covered in a short amount of time. There were 25 ft. of yaw marks before impact. That means he looked up and saw the tractor 0.2 seconds before the collision.

Every driver gets distracted and I believe many drivers get distracted on the highway because they assume everyone is going fast, and it's wide open with no traffic lights. Whether that distraction is the radio, a billboard, an animal, another car, anything. With Matt, I just happen to think it was his phone because it was between his legs, the screen is shattered, the top half of the cover came off and it's covered in blood. Whether he was checking the forecast or listening to music, I don't know. But I do know that it wasn't a text or a phone call. Whatever it was, it just happened at the exact wrong time.

It's just my theory. When your spouse gets killed in a car accident that could easily have been avoided... and you have no idea why it wasn't avoided, you want the answer more than anything in the world. Even if that means speculating and forming a theory that may or may not be true.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sharing is caring.

This is an excerpt taken from another version of the essay Matt wrote about his first car accident.

"Because of what happened, I've learned the biggest lesson of my life: Never take the people and the things that you have for granted. I did and sometimes find myself doing the same thing now. I try as hard as possible to keep from doing this because they all were almost taken away.

It's very sad that it took a car accident that nearly killed me to change my views on my family and friends, but above all, God. I thank God and everyone involved in my recovery. Without them, I'd be nothing. Life is not just a sad excuse for doing nothing until you die. Life is the most precious gift you can receive and I'm grateful that I still have mine."

I am slowly getting closer to having school sorted out. I applied to GRCC and Davenport for nursing. The only thing about Davenport is that it will be SO FAR AWAY from where we will be living this winter. But the nursing program there might not have a wait as long as CC's. I'm just keeping my options open. I will likely go ahead and get on the waiting list at CC while taking any of the pre-nursing classes I will need, and also get my BLS certification. If I get through that and I'm still waiting, depending on how long it looks like I have left, I could go through with the EMS academy. If I really want to be a flight nurse one day, EMS might be a good thing to have on the resume. We'll see! I'm just trying to take one thing at a time.

I have so many little things to do. Although I did get MI auto insurance today so that can be checked off the list. Once I have that and documents from SS with my new address, I will finally be able to change my driver's license and plate.

Nothing really special or insightful to say today. I had a pretty good day. No tears. I just think to myself every day how therapeutic Petoskey is. All I have to do is look out the window over the lake. It's beautiful. I see God's magnificence everywhere I look. I still gaze at the clouds and think Matt is out there somewhere. And one day we'll be together again.

I really need to get to bed. I overslept today and I didn't take a nap and I think tomorrow will definitely be a late-morning-nap kind of day. I try to wake up at 7:00 every morning so I can have Noah to daycare between 8:00-8:30. But I'm such a night owl these days... 7:00 used to be easy, now... not so much.

I haven't seen Matt in my dreams lately... of course, I haven't been sleeping well lately either. That probably doesn't help.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It will never get better.*

I will just learn to live with a hole in my heart.

(The graphic part isn't until the last paragraph.)

I drove past a billboard on the way back up to Petoskey on Sunday that read, "Thousands of men die from stubbornness each year." I don't know what it was for but I thought it was funny I happened to see it.

This is one of the most awkward things to think about but I do think about it: Dating, marriage, etc. When Matt died I thought, that's it. I'm living the rest of my life as a singleton. Maybe I'll date again one day but never marry again. I have one husband and he'll always be my husband -I am disregarding those vows "'til death do you part" - it's not that simple. If o nly it was that simple.

It's not a breakup. We loved each other and then he was taken. Without warning. It's not something I could ever "get over". This is my husband... the father of my children. I still can't imagine ever replacing him. Not literally replacing him, of course... but even the thought of someone else coming into the picture feels like an attempt at doing just that and I don't like it at all.

But this is where I'm at right now. Dating? I guess. Whatever. Maybe in 20 years (just kidding... but can't you tell I'm not too thrilled with the idea?). Marriage? I said I don't think I could ever get married again soon after I lost Matt but I guess now I'm slightly more open to the idea. I might do that for someone I cared enough about. But it's not really something I'm interested in, per say.

What about Noah and Chloe? I realize that should anyone ever come into the picture and stay in the picture, he would be the only "dad" they really know. I don't like that but it's the truth. Now I can really understand Emily from The Bachelor and how protective of her daughter she was (don't act like you don't watch The Bachelor). There is so much going on here that I am completely content staying single forever. It's just way too complicated otherwise. Someone would have to be pretty special for me to want to get into the complications that would rise out of that whole mess. And I can't see how I would ever get past comparing everyone to Matt, which is yet another issue entirely.

It seems really soon to be thinking about that stuff but several people have brought it up to me already. So it's kind of hard not to at least give it a little thought. But, truth be told, I did think of it very soon... because one of the first things that came into my head when I was told Matt died was how Noah and Chloe no longer have Daddy. And from there just came a million thoughts about this and that. Mainly, who is going to be there for them instead?

Say I do get married again one day. (1) Fully aware that means I could go through this again. It's worth it. (2) My rings stay. (3) My last name stays.

Speaking of the rings, I don't see how I could ever remove them. They are a special symbol of a very special love. It wasn't my choice to lose him. It wasn't his choice for me to lose him. I will wear these until I die. Plus, they're gorgeous.

Now, when I change my mind, it will be known.

Our headstone is so close to being finished. I made one last change to the second draft I was sent, and now I'm just waiting for the third draft so I can approve it! I was almost having second thoughts about the shape I chose because I was worried about Matt liking it, lol. Then I realized that he's not here and the least he could do was let me make it how I want it. So that's that. I'm doing it how I want to do it.

A random thing I miss about Matt: Quoting inappropriate lines from movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, I Love You Man, etc. :( This is so sucky.

I called Trooper C. today just to say hi. I imagine it must be nice for him to hear from me; to know that I'm doing okay. He said he was really glad I called. I almost feel weird calling but, at the same time, I feel so compelled to maintain contact. He was there. I mean... he touched Matt's near-lifeless body in the car that was covered in his blood. I hate to be graphic but this is the reality of the situation. As an EMT, he did what he could until the paramedics arrived. And then, after all that, he came to tell me to my face that my husband was dead. He was one of the last people who ever saw Matt alive (unconscious, but still alive). I told him this - that I feel like he is one of the last connections to Matt's life I have. And by that I mean... his final moments. Those final moments.... I wasn't there but he was.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


That's how I've been feeling the last two days. Friday was okay and then Thursday sucked, of course. I drove to Rockford on Thursday and my wonderful friend, Kara, watched the kids while I "celebrated" me and Matt's fourth anniversary. I went to the jewelry store to pick up my pendants with Matt's thumb prints. I have one for myself and two for the kids. I got a chain to wear mine as a necklace. I love it. Mine is his thumb print in a heart; the kids' are just his thumb print.

I went to Matt's grave alone after that... the first time I ever went by myself. I made sure to tell him, first and foremost, to take a good look at what an awkward situation he's put me in: talking to my dead husband at his grave... probably looking like a crazy person to whoever might have seen me. Although I'm sure no one did because it was the crappiest weather ever. No one in their right mind would be out in that mess. But regardless, it was awkward. About as awkward as looking at him in a coma 11 years ago and not knowing what to say. I'm pretty sure I touched his hand and uttered a, "Hi, Matt..." Yeah, I think talking to his soul is more awkward than that. This man has put me through too much.

So after pointing this out to him, I continued on. I read his anniversary card, at which point I definitely lost what little composure I managed to fake, fumbling with the umbrella, his card, the rosary and the Bible while kneeling on a baby changing pad in the wet grass. After reading the card, I prayed the rosary for his soul and read the Bible. That was pretty much it. By the time I was done, my legs from my knees to my toes were completely numb. I told him the least he could do was help me walk back to the car. See? Crazy person. Don't even get me started on the times where I think I see him for just a fraction of a second upon a random glance.

But between the jewelry shop and the cemetery, I failed to mention my flower shop excursion. When I walked in, a man asked me if I needed help with anything. I told him I was just looking for a little something to put on my husband's grave. My husband's grave... how old do I sound? Yes, Aaliyah, age really ain't nothing but a number. (God rest her soul.) If only age could really keep us from enduring such things. "You're not supposed to bury your husband at 26."

Says who?

I have been all over the place in the last 2+ months... sometimes I forget where I am. And bless these poor children of ours. They've had no choice but to become seasoned travelers. We drove to the Raleigh airport on July 23 and flew to Detroit. From Detroit, we drove to Rockford where the kids and I stayed one night, then we transferred to Grand Rapids to be closer to my Hales family. We were in Grand Rapids doing funeral stuff for about a week and then we drove up to the cottage at Crystal Lake. We stayed there through Matt's birthday (July 31) and then drove up to Petoskey where I think we stayed another week. Then we drove to Grand Rapids (I think) and flew back to Raleigh. This was somewhere in August. Then from Raleigh we drove back to our house in Greenville. I finally stayed in one place for about a month after that to keep a semi-normal life working part-time but also packing up everything. Then we made the journey back to Grand Rapids via road trip for the next 18 hours, stopping to stay overnight in Mt. Airy on the way up. I stayed in Rockford with the kids for a week, drove up to Crystal Lake for a night, and then back to Petoskey... our new home for the next three months if I'm to start school this winter. Then we will move back to Rockford. It is just madness. I'm used to it.

I remember the day Matt died - my friend April drove me home. I opened the garage door and Matt's car wasn't there. Every day I would come home from work and hope to see Matt's car in the garage when I hit that button. The door would start to raise and I would watch to see if I saw his car appear while I pulled in. I was happy when he was home before me. Truly. I just loved him. I loved being around him; we had so much fun together. He was my best friend. Sometimes, although this rarely happened, he would get home later than normal and I would think the worst while waiting. Not even on just those occasions; I would think the worst on normal days, too. I guess because he spent 75% of his day driving. And maybe because it had happened before. And because he had seizures. Not very often and never while driving but it was still a contributing factor to my mild case of paranoia. And then... July 20. There it is. I don't know if I'll ever be able to wrap my mind around it.

All the little things we wish we said or did... when you know you will no longer get to see someone on this earth ever again, all those little things weigh heavily on your mind. It's like you wish you could go back in time and make up for all the time you now know you'll miss. But really... it doesn't matter. It only affects you. So I didn't tell Matt I loved him that morning. That doesn't mean I didn't love him. He knows I loved him with all my heart. But it was my last chance to tell him that. Neither of us knew it would be my last chance. He didn't tell me he loved me either, obviously. But I can tell you that's not bothering him a bit. And that part doesn't even bother me. I know he loved me. He didn't have to say it constantly. I don't care that he didn't tell me that morning... I only care that I didn't tell him. Funny, isn't it?

Just make good memories. Don't forget about the little things. The little things are important, too, but they are not things over which to obsess. The important thing is making good memories. Those memories will bring comfort to your loved ones when you are gone and they are mourning.

I made the mistake of attempting to view Art Prize downtown yesterday. It was HORRIBLE. It started out being horrible because of the crowds and two small children (I wasn't alone though). Then the horribleness was increased ten-fold when I happened to walk by a bride and groom getting their pictures taken outside of the hotel. The same place Matt and I had some of our pictures taken. Her dress was even similar to mine. I tried not to look, that's just what I saw at first glance before I realized what a sucky situation I had just created for myself. I was trapped in hell. All I could do was look straight forward and try to walk as fast as I could pushing a stroller down a crowded sidewalk. I actually made it to the car and as far as 131 before I finally lost it. Thank goodness for that much. I'm doomed.

I wonder how long it will be before Noah asks, "Mommy, why are you crying?"

I stopped by the cemetery again today with Chloe. Noah was with the g'rents at church. I stayed behind because Chloe has a pretty bad cold. Snot fountain. Boogery eyes. But it was really nice out today so I wanted to stop by one last time before coming back here. I took back Matt's anniversary card (sorry, Matt). It was either that, or it be thrown out so I took it. I also took a stroll through our section. Getting to know our neighbors, if you will. Plus, I was just paying attention to the headstone designs since I am close to having ours done. Well, I noticed a young man who died at 24 (born in '82, died in '06). He was in the air force, I think. There was a picture of a helicopter on his headstone so I hope that's a safe assumption. He and his wife got married in April of '06 and he died that same year in October. Sigh. They got married the same month and year Matt proposed to me. I wonder if they have any kids. There was a bible verse on the base; Philippians 1:21:

For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.