What Is Life, Without A Little Death?

Here death strikes again.

So many people, such a short time.

It has happened since long before any of us, and will continue with us and way after us.

Death

It’s inevitable.

We all live our lives. We go and go. Some of us are moving so quickly through life, that we are missing out on the things that really are the more important things.

I was guilty of this. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have since figured out a better balance, though.

I love my family.

I love my friends.

I love racing, and birthdays, and listening to my people talk about their lives, and the things that they are passionate about.

I’m not very good at asking the questions, or initiating conversation, but that’s because I will listen to you tell me about your passions, your grief, your day at work.

When Mitch died, in January of 2017, I was confused. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t really wonder why, so much as “What the Fuck?” It wasn’t an angry wtf, so much as a confused, how could this have happened type question. Once we knew the science and biology behind, I stopped asking. I knew.

That question was answered.

You hear people say, all of the time, “god only gives you what he knows you can handle.” If you believe in God, this has to be true.

You may not know you have it in you, until LIFE (or death really), slaps you in the face.

Wednesday, after I ran 10 miles and was in my car, headed to get some food, I received a phone call. My father in law lost his girlfriend. (They might as well had been married. They had that connection, and that unconditional love. They were only missing the legal documentation).

Let me throw out a little back story on this man, without going too deep into details, or anything.

This man was married to my husband’s biological mother. He adopted my husband, and had 2 more children with his wife, Megan.

When Megan was in her early-mid twenties (I don’t want to screw up on the details), she was murdered in a bar, by a crazy man.

This man, Mike, became a widower father to 3 children, one of which was a tiny baby girl.

He did not handle that well. I mean, who could blame him, right? His wife was murdered. What was he supposed to do?

Fast forward through some addictions and runaways, some verbal fights, and a bit of time in jail, a couple of marriages, divorces and a couple more kids, grandbabies and sobriety.

Here we are, he’s the father of 5 now. He’s gotten his head together, he’s trying very hard to be a good man.

His eldest son dies. The son he adopted, when the son was just a boy, and had his mother ripped from him. The father who may have had his problems surviving this life, lost his son.

He had an amazing woman by his side, to help keep him together. She was there to keep him steady, and remind him that he would be okay. He would make it through this.

Fast forward a little over 2 years, and his girlfriend is now with his first wife, and eldest son.

If god is real, and only gives people what they can handle, he sees something heroic in Mike.

I’m so devastated, for him, and can’t even begin to imagine how his mind is processing.

I’ve been told I’ve handled all of my adversity with grace, and I don’t know. It’s what everyone on the outside sees, when my insides are a screaming and tangled and threatening escape.

But death. Death is one thing we are all going to face.

Death is inevitable, and I don’t think we should fear it. I’m not afraid. I don’t want to die, and I’d never do anything to speed up the process, or invite it sooner. I want to live into my old age, maybe meet a second soulmate, and grow old together with them. I want to have grandbabies and a son-in-law (or daughter-in-law. I’m not picky)

I want to watch my daughter grow into a woman, and watch her find her soulmate, fall madly in love, marry, and grow into her adulthood.

I really love living. I think that Mike is realizing that he loves living as well. Even through the grief that seems to keep being added to his plate, he becomes just a little bit stronger, each round.

I wanted to share his story, because many people judge. Many people do not KNOW. People will never truly understand. But, just the briefest summary of the shot hand this man was felt, and he’s still here. He’s still standing. He is STILL putting one foot in front of the other.

The world we are on is still spinning.

The bills still need to be paid.

Our work here isn’t done, yet.

Death: The only thing guaranteed of life.

Live while you can!

Find happiness!

Be who you are!

Never stop saying their name!

Mary. Megan. Mitch. Sandra. Annie. Gramma and Grandpa McAnany.

Only their bodies are gone. We are forever able to remember them through our pictures, and our memories. We have videos, and voices recorded, now.

On the days we miss them the most, I think their spirits are the closest. Our human form cannot process their presence without their human form, so we interpret their spiritual presence as sadness, and yearning, and missing them.

We FEEL them, but we cannot touch or see them.

May all of our loved ones be partying like rock-stars.

Annie.

Has.

Arrived!

We will miss her, of course. But she is definitely in good hands now.

Thanksgiving Is Near

I am sure there are many people who question, “What do you have to be thankful for?” Because my husband passed away. I am definitely not thankful for that. That’s for certain!

But, I am thankful for quite a lot, actually.

I am thankful for my current health.

I am thankful for my family and friends. (to be clear, alllllllll of Mitchell’s family, is now MINE! I kept them all.)

I am thankful to have the daughter that I was so lucky to have. I could have ended up with a complete A-hole, but, she’s pretty cool.

I am thankful for my employment. I have a work family that has also been by my side, through this journey.

I am thankful that I fell into OCR, prior to Mitch passing, and really found out how AMAZING the OCR community is. Every one of them stood by my side, ready to be there when I was ready to get back into high gear.

Good gracious, I am so thankful for everything else in my life. If Mitch passing has taught me anything at all, it is to be MORE thankful, and appreciate it all.

All of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am at a point in my journey as a widow, where I have been told many people will have already tapered away. This is not how it’s working for me. I am happy that everyone has stuck by me.

I had a very bad day at work, the day after I put up the Christmas tree. I cried through about 10 minutes of a total knee surgery, and the surgeon was great to me. He didn’t get mad. He didn’t ask what was wrong. He just offered me a little break, by allowing me to get it out.

Everything was silent around me (as they kept working, I fell away), all I could do was think of Mitch. I thought about how he always begged to put the tree up early. He would sneak a Christmas decoration in, and see if I would notice. It was more of a game with us. I would get sick of looking at the Christmas decor, where he loved it. If it went up Thanksgiving night, It came down New Years day. If it went up early, it came down December 26th. It was just our way. It’s how we rolled.

I was able to pull myself together and rejoin the surgical team, in what seemed like a very long time. Come to find out, it was really only about 10 minutes.

Oh! One of the many things I am so very thankful for is the videos Mitch left on the computer. I feel like everyone needs to hear his voice.

This was last year, our Ugly Sweater party. Caution: Foul Language was used in the making of this video… For those of you who know his voice, his laugh, this is for you. He isn’t shown very much, but you sure can hear him, and it’s beautiful.

 

Here is a family game night. ❤

 

Be Thankful for the laughter.

Always remember that beautiful sound.

 

 

A Life Unplanned For

We all know, no one plans to lose a spouse. 

No child plays house, pretending their spouse dies. It’s just not something we do, as a human race. 

I attended a wedding, last night. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding. There were so many people there, and we dressed up, and looked great. 


As I sat, and watched the bride and groom’s first dance, I thought about how Mitch and I didn’t do that. We never had a “first dance”. 

There was supposed to be the father-daughter dance, and my chest started to hurt, as they started a video, and explained why her dad wasn’t there.

 My mind went into hyperdrive, skipped to the future, and I saw Meg, standing there, in her wedding dress, without her Dad. 


For a moment, I was broken. 

I probably cried more than the average person. I cried out of joy for the actual bride and groom, and the promise of a beautiful future together. And, I cried out of sadness, for Meg, as she won’t have her daddy to walk her down the aisle, or to have that first dance with her. My heart felt the joy and the pain, simultaneously. 

One year ago, if anyone tried to tell me I could feel such opposite feelings, at the same time, I would have laughed, and said “Yeah, right! One feeling would totally overpower the other!” 

I would have been wrong. 

Aside from that part of the night, I had a good time, with great people. We celebrated the marriage of two people who fell so deeply into love, and decided to spend the rest of their lives together. 


Absolutely beautiful! 

I drank a bit, and after an evening of drinking and hanging out with friends, I had an overwhelming feeling. I don’t think I want to ever be married again. Maybe that’s just my widow-mind, right now. My marriage was perfect. Well, perfect for us. 

 It’s been less than a year, since Mitch passed. Sometimes, the days drag on, and other times, I can’t believe a whole week has gone by. 

Less than a year. 

Holidays are coming

This will be our first Thanksgiving without Mitch. Without his cucumber salad. I will make it for the McAnany family Thanksgiving, but it won’t be MITCH’s side dish. I’ll be the one making it. 

Christmas, I’m sure, is going to be the worst for me. I am terrified of December. 

One week before Christmas will be one year from the day everything started going bad. 

The day Mitch slipped and fell, and sprained his wrist. 

New Years, without that kiss. 

And then we move into January. 

I don’t want to.


5 Months Without Mitch.

While Mitch was alive, I was always worried that I would die before him. I was afraid that I would die, and leave him a single father, caring for our daughter. I was afraid he was cursed, you know. I didn’t want to die and leave him a widower. That wouldn’t be fair. He lost his mom, when he was very young. He grew up, pretty rough. 

That day, when I drove out to FedEx, exactly 5 months ago, and the officer dragged me into an office, and told me he was found, unresponsive, I was broken. I was broken, but, I was also relieved that I didn’t die, and leave HIM broken. 

I can’t say that he would be doing better or worse, right now, in this position. I CAN say, that I am so glad he doesn’t have to be the one going through this. That would not have been fair for him, at all. And, yes, I know that life isn’t fair. 

Someone posted this photo, on Facebook, and they said “thoughts?” 

I responded with this: 

“I’ve been widowed for almost 5 months. I am breathing, standing, walking, climbing, running, sprinting, hurdling, etc. it sucks so so so bad! But here’s my reasoning: My husband was the kind of man who made the BEST of EVERY situation. It didn’t matter what the situation was, he looked at the silver lining. He found the good that came from every bad thing. He taught me to do the same. With my husband’s death, at the young age of 34, of natural causes (heart failure), many many family and friends flocked to their doctor, to have their hearts checked. Some found they were healthy as could be, others found they needed further checking, because their white blood count was off, or their whatever was bad. It’s been a hell of a ride this last 4.95 months, and I am heart-broken, but I have a 12 year old daughter who NEEDS me! My husband has passed on, so he no longer NEEDS me. He would NOT have wanted me to screw up my and our daughter’s lives, because I am sad, or heartbroken, or have depressed days. He would have said “look, Tabbie, my death saved my dad’s life!” Because it DID! So, I will sprint, and breathe, and walk, dance and stand. Some days I may wobble, or fall, but I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. I hate this, but I will SURVIVE! We all will.”
I feel like people believe I make widowhood look easy. I don’t try to. This isn’t easy, at all.  I try to live each day. I try to make our lives happy, even when we are sad. I go through times where I feel guilty for thinking other men are attractive, or if I have sexual thoughts about them. I also know that having those thoughts and feelings are totally normal. I am only 34! I am a HEALTHY 34. I am not acting on each thought. That’s where we would have a problem.  But, thinking about things is not a crime. It’s just something that happens. 

Again, not easy. 

One income. I’ve had people say, “Well, there’s one less person, so one less income shouldn’t be too bad.” Well, when you are used to living with double the money you have, it is a TOTAL adjustment! 

I know, that the things people say, are meant to be comforting, and coming from some people, it is comforting. When it comes from someone I am not close to, it doesn’t come out like that. It isn’t taken like that. For some reason, it really is irritating. 

I have always known that I adapt to change pretty well. I typicallyvadapt to change better than most people I know. However, I didn’t realize how well adapted I am, until it was brought to my attention, that I am USED to sleeping alone, already. I have no desire to have someone sleeping next to me. I thought I was going to need friends to sleepover, in the beginning, and I never did. Meg and I slept on an air mattress together for nearly 3 weeks, and both of us got so uncomfortable, she started sleeping on the couch, until we moved into our apartment. I have reverted back to being a bed-hog. I am regretting my decision, to buy a queen bed, rather than a king. I had a king bed, when I was a teenager. I think when Meg gets a “new bed” it’ll be my bed, and I’m getting a king. All that room! 

Now, unrealistically speaking, I would give everything I own away, if it meant I could share a floor with Mitch. But, that’s unrealistic. I can’t BRING HIM BACK! No matter how much I want it, it doesn’t work like that. No matter how hard I cry, or how much I miss him, it just doesn’t work that way. 

Maybe, when my time comes, I’ll see him again. He was a good person. I try to be a good person. Maybe that means our afterlives will be good, if there really is an afterlife. 

I could totally see Mitch and I haunting people, together. Hilariously haunting family and close friends. 

Honestly, I still don’t get signs from Mitch. I haven’t dreamed about him, except the only 2 dreams I had. Maybe he leaves me alone, because he is afraid I’ll lose my shit? Maybe he leaves me alone because I am “doing just fine”? Maybe he thinks I need to continue to “be the inspiration” that I have become? Maybe, he doesn’t visit me, because he is afraid I will be committed to a psych ward, and leave Meg without a parent? Maybe he doesn’t visit, because I told him he wasn’t allowed to haunt me? Jokingly, of course, because when one dies, they can do whatever they want. 😉 And maybe, JUST maybe, he doesn’t visit, because he can’t. Maybe that’s not a true option, after death. Whatever the case, he doesn’t visit me or leave me signs, like I hear everyone else talk about. I have little tidbits of “oh my, Mitch would have said that!” But, nothing too ghostly. 

So, here I sit, 5 months without my Mitchell. I am stronger than I have ever been, in all of my life. I am happy in all areas of life except the part where I am a widow. I still truly believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason, even if we haven’t figured out that reason, yet. 

Maybe it’s something so simple as my words, helping someone get through THEIR grieving process, just a little bit easier? Who knows if I’ll EVER know the reasoning behind Mitch’s death, outside of the scientific, biological part. 

Keep Living. 

One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other. 

Skip. Hop. Run. Jump. Walk. 

Keep going. 

Being Open About Everything

Since the untimely death of my husband, I have become quite the over-sharer. I mean that in a good way. I talk a LOT. I explain everything.

I know, I know. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone for anything. I know. I don’t care.

However, when I see someone who I haven’t seen in a while, and they ask me where I have been, I tell them, and the shock on their faces and in their whole demeanor is crazy! I don’t mean to be so blunt, but there’s just no easy way to say it.

“Well, I was off of work for 3 and a half weeks, because my husband passed in January, and then I had to change my schedule, so I haven’t been able to work later than 3pm, on a regular basis.”

That’s why you never see me anymore.

I am the friend, that is trying to figure out how to stay healthy, care for my child, and for myself, as well as work full-time, and take care of everything.

Let me get real, real quick. This may be unbelievable, but, keep in mind, Mitch and I started dating when I was 17 years old. Hell, we moved in together when I was still 17. (any young ones reading, please, do not risk it! Not everyone is as lucky as Mitch and I were, and I wouldn’t change a thing about how we got and stayed together.)

I have NEVER, in all of my adult life, lived on my own. Never. I have never been responsible for paying bills, outside of my auto-deposited paychecks. I have never been in this situation before.  This is one hell of a learning curve. And there is no class for this. (well, I am sure there is, but it probably costs money.)

I have allotted dates from each month to have people over for a ladies night. I find these dates by going over my calendar and making sure that I don’t have a run scheduled that weekend, that I am not on call that weekend, and that I don’t have anywhere to be, early in the mornings that weekend. There’s a lot of thought that goes into planning my ladies’ nights. I may even host a poker night, soon. It’s sounding pretty Mitch-like. And poker nights were always a good time. So, Chuck, don’t go spending those quarters! I will take them off of your hands soon. 😉

Again, I just want to ask my friends and family to forgive me, and bear with me, while I figure all of this out. I may not come to your parties, or get-together, or I may plan my ladies night the same night that you have something planned, but that’s only because I only have that weekend free. It doesn’t mean I love you any less.

And for anyone who is reading, that doesn’t know me, but knows someone who is going through what I am going through, give them time to figure it all out. It’s a lot to process, and get through. Your friend doesn’t love you less. Your friend still wants you around. Your friend probably misses you. And your friend is probably exhausted all of the time. It’s okay. It takes time. And for some reason, there isn’t that extra couple of hours in each day, that should be automatic in the event of a spouse’s death.

Every widow should get an extra 2 hours, every night, just to sleep, or finish the dishes, or prep lunches for the next day. All of the things that may have been taken care of by the deceased partner, and the widow is now all on the widow. It’s overwhelming sometimes. It really and truly is.

I remember when we first moved into the apartment, I FORGOT to make dinner! Really?! I jumped up from the table and said, “Oh crap! I need to make dinner!” It was 7:30pm. Mitch cooked. I never made dinner. It was a running joke with Megan and Mitch, that “If Daddy ever left or died, I would starve, because Mommy doesn’t cook!” I cook. It’s another learning curve, but I will master it.

One day, I will have free time, again. It may not be soon, but it’ll come.

I have arranged extra time, for ME-TIME to start working out again. Baby steps in the right direction. That’s all we can hope for. Right?

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Mitch and my brother at my cousin’s wedding.

Tears Fall Freely

I have noticed that I cry more often, now. Little things set me off.

I feel like the numbness is ebbing. It hurts a little more often, now.

I am still able to go about my days, and enjoy myself, so no worries there. I am still putting one foot in front of the other, even if some days my feet become tangled, and I trip and fall on my face.

Today, I woke up, and my mother and father in law were here, and my two nieces and Megan. We made a big breakfast buffet, with pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and all kinds of pancake toppings. The kiddos love the “pancake bar”.

After the family left, and it was just Megan and I, I cleaned up the dishes, and did some laundry. I ordered meat from Omaha Steaks, and just went on about my day.

Normal.

Meg and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for the week, since the meat won’t be delivered until Thursday, or so. I needed healthy snacking options, carrots, celery, cucumbers, and fresh fruits. When I got home, I put all the groceries away, and I was going to cut the fruits and veggies.

Before I started cutting veggies, I was putting Megan’s spaghettios with meatballs into the pantry, and started to tell Megan where they were. The biggest case of DeJa Vu hit me. I remembered, very clearly that moment. I had dreamed it. I mean, full on simplistic nightmare. I knew, in that dream, that Mitch had passed away, and that’s why I was in another home. I woke up from that dream, so many years ago, and was so distraught that I woke Mitch up, just to have him hold me, and tell me everything would be okay. Just for him to tell me he was still there. I told Megan about it, today, as soon as I had that deja vu. No tears, just in awe of how I had dreamed about this day, long before it ever happened. This is why my dreams scare me. Some, even the bad ones, actually come true.

I start pulling the celery stalk apart, so I can wash and cut the veggie. I lay them out to dry, and grab my knife. I start cutting.

Then, out of no-where, for no reason, I hear it, in my mind, “You know, you’ll never see him again.”

I started crying. Sometimes, the mind can be a terrible thing.

But really? Chopping vegetables? It’s such a regular part of my weekend. It’s nothing special. Mitch didn’t really eat the veggies, so it wasn’t like it was something I would do for him, really. However, I did make enough for him to have snacks as well. Why didn’t the memory of the dream throw me into a fit of tears? Shock?

I got my shit together, and decided to put the pictures into their new frames, and then remembered I had this super cute flip-photo album that my sister-in-law, Zaida bought me for Christmas. I needed to add photos to it. So, naturally, I sit down and start going through my gigantic box of photos. Old photos, newer ones. I wanted to put good ones into this flip album. I started crying again. Pictures of Mitch haven’t caused me to cry until tonight. I was looking at our wedding photos, and the look on his face was amazing. He was the happiest man alive! I was glowing. We, the youngest couple, married, starting our life together. Little did we know, our time together would be much shorter than expected.

I cannot express, fully, how important it is to live like there’s no tomorrow.

I know I have said it before, but I am saying it again.

Tell  your loved ones that you love them, every single day. Never let someone you love, walk out the door, without telling them you love them. Never let them wonder. Make sure they know! It really helps the ones that are left behind. I know that he knew my love for him. I know that he knew Megan’s love for him. I know that Megan knows he loved her so much! And I know, he loved me, so much, too!

wedding2003 001
It the top photo, He was whispering, “I love you, like a fat kid loves cake.” In the bottom photo, That kiss, though. ❤