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.

I See So Much Mitch, in My Daughter’s Face.

The other day, my daughter says “Mom, you should check your photo album, because there are some pretty sweet pics I took for you.”

I knew it was going to be a ton of selfies. It’s what she does. I finished my workout, and checked my phone, and there were 30-ish photos, of her, most in black and white.

I’ve always known Mitch’s traits were stronger in her, than mine. But, seeing these particular photos, really REALLY proves it.

I may or may not have cried, looking at these photos. My little (who is clearly taller than me) is absolutely beautiful, inside and out, with a LOT of her father’s sense of humor.

Looking at her does NOT make me sad, like I’ve seen it does to other people in our situation. Looking at her, and seeing him live through her brings tears of joy to my eyes. Absolute, joy, that he will live on, through her.

There are things that make me miss Mitch more than other things. Like all this snow we’ve had recently. He would have been BEGGING me to go sledding.

I would have said no, and suggested he take a friend, and kids.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with snow. I hate when it touches my skin, but I think it’s absolutely beautiful! I’m about to sound like one of THOSE kind of women, but seeing all the glistening snow reminds me of all the happiest Christmas, and romance movies. I love standing outside and spinning in circles, taking in the beauty of the snow covered tree branches and rooftops. I feel a bit of hope, when I look at it. The smell of snow, is the smell of happiness, and purity, innocence, and clarity. If all of those could be smell, it’d be the smell of fresh snow.

I do love sunshine and beaches more, because, well, I enjoy outdoor activities that don’t involve snow touching my skin. Sand is a welcome touch though. Sunshine, and ocean water, bbqs at the park, and trail running on mountain bike trails. Most of my races are in the warmer climates, and traveling is easier.

But, none of those summer things give the feeling if hope. Maybe that’s why there’s been all this snow. Maybe it gives a lot of people hope, and whoever is in charge of snowfall, (god, goddess, Mother Nature, whatever you believe) decided “It’s time!” And has been dumping on us, consistently for 2 months now.

Every time the snow melts completely, it snows again. This is our spring snow. It doesn’t look too bad, today.

_________________________________________

I feel as though my posts are fewer and fewer theses days, but I realize, maybe it’s because I talk about Mitch every single day. I make social media updates, see all the pictures, and have accepted my fate, as the woman widowed at 34. The widowed mother of a teenage daughter, who couldn’t be any easier to have a child, than she is exactly how she is.

I think, daily, about how proud I am of myself, for fighting to get paid what I was worth, in October of 2016, because if I didn’t, I’d be making $10/hr less than what I make now, and most likely be living the roommate life, or living in a tiny, uncomfortable apartment, somewhere that I don’t want to live. Megan even mentions it, once in a while.

Well, it is time for me to get my day started, so until next time, friends and family.

Much love to you all. And may anyone suffering from such a loss, find hope of happiness, and laughter, in things around you. Remember, there’s always a silver lining, and if we focus on the beauty, rather than the ugly, we can keep on putting

One foot in front of the other.

And always remember, you aren’t moving on, or forgetting anything. You are only moving forward, and making progressive movement.

Toxic Humans and Me.

Today, I did something. I deleted and blocked a person from my life, that was toxic, to me. I decided to test the person first. I was right with my suspicions. Even though I know there’s no respect for me from said person, I will respect their privacy, and not share their name. But here goes!

Hello? Who the hell would come at me, expecting to have even the slightest chance at mentally abusing me? Who. The FUCK. do you think I am? Let me spell it out…

I’m the woman who had a rough start at life, being pulled from my parents and put into foster care, in first grade.

I went to 13 different schools, and didn’t graduate.

Lived on my own from age 15-17, couch surfing, and working, trying my damndest to stay alive.

I am the woman who met the man of her dreams, married him, had a baby, and Created a BEAUTIFUL family.

I took my adult ass to get my GED, then went to college, so I could set a better example for my baby girl.

I never gave up on my career. When I wasn’t being respected and given the pay I knew I was worth, for my position, I left.

When I felt as though I wasn’t getting paid my worth at my next job, I applied elsewhere to see what I could be making, and fought for it. I got it.

I am the woman who lost her husband, unexpectedly, on a Wednesday morning, while he was at work, my child at school, and myself too busy to realize he never read my text that morning.

I have been through hell. I walk through hell regularly. I don’t need toxic people in my life, and I WILL remove you.

I am a positive, uplifting, forgiving human. I love people. I love my family, my friends and my career. I believe everyone deserves a second chance.

I ALSO believe my opinion matters. Your opinions matter. Even if I disagree with them, they matter, because they are YOURS!

But know, I don’t fucking play.

New Year’s Event

One year.

Not since the death of my amazing husband, no. One year ago was the last holiday I got to spend with him.

Facebook assaults or blesses me with “on this day”, every single day. As I see pictures from last year, I see how pale Mitch was. I believe, that he was already in a downward fall. Not last year. I didn’t see it a year ago. If I did, or if he did, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Or we would? I’ll never know, and with this, “what ifs” can’t tear you down, so I try to avoid the “if only” and “what if” thoughts.

In the photo, before the countdown, he is smiling. His beautiful face, pale. (He tried avoiding the camera all night, because he didn’t want the splint in any pictures. He hated that thing!)

These were the two photos from our last holiday together, that screamed at me, today.

New Year’s was a fun time, we spent with family and friends, every year. We loved bringing in the New year, surrounded by those we loved.

Mitch was always the life of the party. He made everyone around him feel good, and filled the room with laughter. It never failed.

I wish he was spending this new year’s holiday with us, too. I wish I could hear his big laugh, and wrap my arms around his big shoulders, and tell him I love him, over and over and over.

This year, he will be spending his New Year’s Eve with someone he hasn’t spent it with in many many years.

His mom. But, with all the family that has passed, he has a party going on, wherever they all are, and we all know it!!

Megan, Sandy, Paul, Scotty, and many many more.

Party On, Mitch. We miss the fuck out of you!

How To To Treat A Widow On Christmas…

That’s easy. Treat her like family. Treat her like a friend.

Maybe get her a gift. Nothing extravagant, of course, but something that says “I’m thinking about you.” Keep in mind, in most cases of married couples, they are typically the ones who buy for each-other. It’s strange to think, right? (Not me, really. I don’t care about gifts. I gave Meg $65 to buy me stuff, because I was more curious about WHAT she would pick out for me. 😂)

My best friends have gotten me gifts, and I love them dearly (and I also got gifts for them, just like every year).

A new widow, who is used to being with their husband, or wife, during the holidays is probably feeling more lonely that ever. Overwhelmed is a great word to use, for how I’ve felt. I have to remember EVERYTHING! I am not used to that. Mitch would always remind me “we forgot… insert family member here!”

He was my other half. He picked up where I slacked and slacked where I picked up. We were partners.

Remember, if it seems like your widowed friend remembered everyone but you, it wasn’t on purpose, or out of dislike. It’s because their partner isn’t there reminding them. This time of year is hectic, even for 2 people working together!

Hell, Mitch and I forgot people every single year. 2 were his freaking step siblings! EVERY SINGLE YEAR! He made a trip to the ATM to get them $20 each.

And know, when you are celebrating the holidays with your loved ones, your widow-friend is holding their shit together, with all of their strength. This is the time of year to be with the ones you love most, and they can’t have that. You don’t need to “feel sorry” for them, or look at them with pity in your eyes. That’s not desired. Just be yourself. That’s all I want from my friends and family.

Love me, like you always have. Hug me, like you always have.

Be present. And don’t be afraid to mention their name!

Mitch fucking LOVED Christmas! This was his FAVORITE holiday! He didn’t care about presents, but damnit, I tried every year to top the previous year’s gifts. Last year took the cake! I bought him the LAST XBOX1 in Kansas City. The last one! He bought me an inversion table. We spoiled the shut out of each-other.

I will miss spoiling the shit out of my man. I will work on topping each year of Megan’s Christmas gifts though. ❤️ I will carry on the tradition of making Grandma Kathleen cry with cards, and getting a goof ass card for his Uncle Paul.

Just remember, the holidays are so very bittersweet for anyone struggling with loss.

It’s hard, but, we have to put #OneFootInFrontOfTheOther

Thank you to all of my family, and all of my amazing friends, for being here, For sticking by me, even when it might have been the last thing you wanted to do. I appreciate you all! ❤️

Anger Management

I did my therapy session… for anger management… because I am “so angry all of the time!”

My therapist was on her phone the whole time. Even answered a personal call about where and when to meet for dinner. 👎

Any of my therapist friends out there have any advice?

PS: I have to continue until I am cleared, if I wish to keep my job.

And she muttered those 6 irritating words… “I know exactly how you feel!”

Then didn’t seem to believe me when she asked if I was ever mad at Mitch for dying. Hell no I’m not MAD, nor have I gotten mad at him for dying! He didn’t CHOOSE to die. He would have chose LIVING if offered that choice. She even rolled her eyes at me, when I said that!

We are in a circumstance that wasn’t chosen. Why do people assume I am angry? I get mad when I am told to do something that is wrong, and that is OK. I get irritated or annoyed when people tell

me “I know exactly how you feel.” Because, honestly, no you don’t.

Did you grow up with a father who basically walked away until you were 6 or 7, then decided to fight for custody, causing your brother and yourself to go to foster care? Did you grow up in my situation? Did you drop out of high school, live on the streets and not know when or if you were going to eat every day? Did you get a job and pay your way at age 16? Did you get married, then have a child, THEN decide to get your GED and college degree, while working at blockbuster on minimum wage? Did you struggle to make ends meet even though you KNOW you made enough money to cover everything? Did you have a slum-lord who refused to have the plumbing fixed? Did you finally get comfortable, and start seeing the bills fall away, because you went to your boss and said you don’t make enough money for what you do, to get a $6/hour raise? Then, did your HUSBAND (or wife) pass away, unexpectedly at age 34, in what was the PRIME of your lives? Have you balanced everything from your time to everyone else’s time, going out of town for races, and staying healthy, and making sure your child knows they are so loved? Have you REALLY been in my shoes? Do you REALLY know “EXACTLY” how I feel?

I’m not saying you don’t know how bad it hurts to lose someone. But every situation is NOT the same. That’s TRUTH!

I do not get mad about things I cannot control. I have all of my feelings in check, 99% of the time. Everyone is entitled to one loss of control in their life, and no one was harmed in my situation.

I was asked the same question, over and over, and the responses I got were mostly “uh huh” and “yeah?”. Barely looking up from her phone.

I am unhappy with my session. I felt like it was very unprofessional.

Until next session… on a day I told her wouldn’t work for me… but she scheduled it anyway. Okay… GREAT!

I can tell you all one thing. I have had many opportunities to become an angry, pissy, grouchy, horrible human being, and I CHOOSE happiness. I choose NOT anger, as often as I can.

I. Feel. GLORIOUS!

So, before you get mad and hate me for feeling glorious (I don’t really see that happening), let me explain.

Tonight, I went outside to run, for the first time in a while. I had it in my mind to do a 10 minute 30 second mile (average). I’ve only been running on treadmill, recently, and am averaging 9:30 minute miles. (Because it was inaccurate). I figured it was about a minute off per mile, but went with it, thinking, “okay. If my treadmill mile is 9:30 consistently, my outdoor mile will be about 10:30 consistently, and an unpaved trail will be closer to 11-12 minutes. Anyway.

I was listening to Macklemore.

So the lyrics to Macklemore’s songs strike me, quite often as

A: my thoughts.

B: Something Mitch would have said, or HAS said.

Here is one example:

🎶 I feel glorious, glorious

Got a chance to start again

I was born for this, born for this

It’s who I am, how could I forget?

I made it through the darkest part of the night

And now I see the sunrise

Now I feel glorious, glorious

I feel glorious, glorious 🎶

I feel like I was born to be strong. Period. In every way, imaginable. I am finally working on my physical strength, and I. Feel. GLORIOUS! My “chance to start again” is with my health. Mitch passing so young, from a natural cause, really woke me up, and made me get the fuck off of the couch. I am currently making it through the darkest night (the loss of Mitch) and there is sunrise! I find a ray and hold onto it.

I am here, hoping with all hope that I am helping one person see that the end of a life doesn’t mean the end of the world. It only means that we must grow stronger, and feel with everything we have. We must keep moving forward, because forward movement is progressive movement, and progressive movement is the only good movement.

Memories are great, and fantastic things. Pictures, videos, and scents.

Sometimes, I want to get lost in my memories of Mitch. I want to remember how warm and safe I felt, when he wrapped his arms around me. I want to feel his warmth, when I am cold, and tell him to get his stinky feet off of me.

Remember him, I will. Get lost, I will not. It’s very important for me to keep a level head, and a warm heart. It’s important to me, to be a person children can look up to, and see, that with the worst of changes, everything can and WILL work out. I want other widows or widowers to see that it is OK to find happiness, in whatever way they need, as long as they aren’t hurting people in their pursuit of happiness.

You want to speak to a crowd of people about your loss? MAKE IT HAPPEN!

You wish to write a book? MAKE IT HAPPEN!

You want to sign up for those races?! DO IT!

Life is too short for WHAT IFS!

Be the strong you see in your heroes. Be it mental, physical, or whatever other forms of strong there are. Find it within yourself, and nurture it!

You Got This!

You Have No Idea How I Feel, So Do Not Assume You Do.

Please forgive me as I rant.

You. Do. Not. Know. EXACTLY. How. I. Feel!

Never, ever say that to a widow! NEVER! I don’t care if you’re a widow, or if your ex husband died, or if your boyfriend died, or if your cousin’s cat died, you will never know exactly how I feel.

I am astounded by the people who have the audacity to say this, straight to my face!

1: If you know “exactly how I feel” you would never utter those fucking words.

I am NOT angry all of the time. So, please don’t assume that is an accurate statement. It actually takes a LOT to make me angry, and even then, I rarely react, outside of becoming silent, because I don’t want to say something I can’t take back, or I slam doors. Yes, I am aware that slamming doors is childish, but, I do it. Well, I DID it. I chose door slamming when I was young, because no one gets hurt, unless it’s me, because the door bounces back at me. Yes, that has happened. You won’t see me slamming them anymore, since I built up so much strength, and managed to put a hole in the wall last time.

So, here is the deal, and this doesn’t just apply to me. Hell, it doesn’t apply to only widows either, but it didn’t bother me until I became one. Never EVER assume you know EXACTLY how anyone feels! You don’t! And you never will.

I lost my husband-best friend-father to my child-hero in January of this year. It’s been a crazy year so far. I have gotten MAD 1 time. ONCE!

As I type this, I am not angry, I was irritated/annoyed when someone told me they knew how I felt, and have been in my shoes… When actually they haven’t. They were in their OWN shoes, under their own circumstances. Just because YOU were angry all of the time does not mean that’s how I feel.

Just because I disagree with how something is done, doesn’t mean I am mad about it. Disagreeing is a perfect part of life. It means freedom! Just because I am annoyed or not satisfied, does not equal anger. It means I don’t like it. Big deal.

And for the record, anger is a real emotion. It is an acceptable emotion. It is something everyone on this earth should know and feel every once in a while. Without knowing anger, you cannot fully understand all other emotions. It’s a part of who we are. It is a part of you that lets you know that something isn’t right! I mean, to be honest, if you never get angry, you might possibly be getting walked on.

I FULLY recognize that slamming doors isn’t really a good idea. Sure. Duh. But, it happened, and I am here, and I’ll be taking anger counseling for it, until I am cleared by the therapist. Good times.

Don’t slam doors, because you could damage property.

But ALWAYS stand up for yourself! ALWAYS! Do not let anyone make you do something that isn’t right. Just, handle it with grace, like I NORMALLY do. ❤️

Spending the Holidays “With” Your Deceased Spouse.

I’ve dreamed of Mitch, nearly every night for the last week.

In these dreams, we are discussing what to buy for Megan for Christmas, and “Has she ACTUALLY been good, this year?” (The answer is yes. She has been amazing, especially under the circumstances!)

I had one where we were ACTUALLY Christmas shopping. He was being his normal self, throwing things into the carts of unsuspecting strangers. He was also picking up ugly sweaters, and talking about how much he wanted one, this year. (Talked to a friend, and she suggested, without knowing this dream, to get a tiny ugly sweater for his urn! OMG! AMAZING IDEA!) He also got Michael (his brother) something that was ACTUALLY at Target, yesterday! So, naturally, I bought the damn thing for Michael Dale! So, brother-in-Law, your gift was ACTUALLY from my dream-Mitch. I hope you like it!

Last night’s dream was weird! It reminded me of a cross between Home Alone, and the movie that Kevin watches in home alone, along with something that has happened to me a few times, and Meg once. (Keep the change you filthy animal! Bang bang pew pew pow!)

Real: When I was in Nebraska, we were driving down the street, and the street lights flickered as we went under them, and then went dark.

Real: When Meg and I were driving down 95th street, the street lights went out as we drove under them! It was crazy!

In my dream, I was at a bar, it was decorated for Christmas, and we were drinking, and dancing, and having a good time. Meg was at home, with friends, and sent me a text. “Mom! Check the string of lights around the bottle of alcohol in the corner of the bar!”

I have no idea how she knew to look at it, but, I followed her direction, and looked at it. All the lights were out, except the red ones, Mitch’s favorite color. The red ones were flashing. (Maybe a mix of Stranger Things, too!) a stranger came up, and said “That’s Morse code!” And wrote it down. The lights were telling me to GO HOME NOW!

So, I paid my tab, and got an Uber. As the Uber drove towards my home, the street lights flickered and went out, as we went under each light.

I get home, and run inside, and up the stairs, to find Meg in her bay window (yes I have a house in this dream and it is huge and gorgeous!) pointing outside.

There is her father. Riding a bicycle, in circles around our culdesac (Mitch always wanted to live on a culdesac) He was carrying something. He looked kind of scary, then I realized it was because he looked exactly like his bitmoji cartoon. He pulled out a big gun, and started shooting up the neighbor’s home. He was laughing! Meg and I were horrified!

Then, he was gone! We ran outside to go see if the neighbors were okay. And when we stepped out, we looked up, and the neighbor’s house was decorated for Christmas, so beautifully, with no signs of gunfire. It wasn’t decorated prior to him “shooting” it up.

The gun was a special, Christmas gun. And I know, if Mitch were alive, and that thing were real, he would own it.

So, as far as the title of this blog goes, I feel like I am getting more time with Mitch, than I have been getting. We’ve been Christmas shopping, and going over Christmas lists, and he even reminded me to buy something that I had forgotten to get, for Megan! (I am aware these are dreams, so don’t go calling the crazy house!)

Life has been so busy. And it’s just going to keep moving. I have been blessed with the ability to remember my dreams, so I will cherish each and every dream I get to have of him.

Happiest of Holidays to you all.

10 Months

It has been 10 months since I received the horrible news that my husband was found dead.

10 months of wobbly emotions. 10 months of trying to figure out how to maintain his part and my part of parenting. 10 months of looking into my baby girl’s eyes, and seeing so much of her father. 10 months of pain, and heartache intertwined with happiness and pride.

For the last 10 months I have made great strides in improving who I am, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I joke about being “absent” with friends and family, who don’t work out with me, but I am actually not. I make it a point to text, call or visit family, whenever I can. I course, I am busy, quite often, and I won’t give up my workouts for anyone other than Megan. (Unless important things come up, like weddings, etc.)

Every time I feel like I don’t want to do that workout, I remember that I CAN get sick. I CAN leave this earthly body before “my time”, (whatever THAT means). If I don’t take care of ME, who will take care of Megan?

I would be the ghostly mother, haunting the shit out of whoever Megan’s caregiver would be, (Brady…) because that’s who I am. I wouldn’t be done yet. I need her to know all of her dad, and all of her momma. I need her to know that life has it’s serious downs, but, damnit, there is ALWAYS something good, somewhere, if you look hard.

Sometimes the good is so obvious that you miss it.

Don’t miss it. Don’t take the good for advantage. Appreciate it. Revel in it! Be the good in someone else’s life, too! Don’t do it for YOU. Don’t do it to see what you can get from it. I promise, it’ll feel good, just putting a smile on someone else’s face.

Mitch was the guy that always held the door for whoever was walking in or out behind him. He would open the door and stand aside, if he came upon a door someone was walking opposite him, through. He was always trying to be the good, without expectations from other people (except a simple “thank you”. When people wouldn’t say that you, it would piss him off.)

Say thank you!

Say please. Say thank you. Don’t assume that guy wants in your pants, just because he held the door open for you. Don’t assume that woman wants to jump you, just because she is nice to you.

Ten months a widow.