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. 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!

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 Widow and Her Word Vomit

I will apologize in advance, for this post. I have so much to say, and haven’t really thought it through, yet.

I have found myself in tears, a lot the last couple of days. I think my strength is dwindling, with the migraine I’ve had. I found myself on Mitch’s facebook page, looking through old videos and photos. Man, I miss him so much! His goofy smile, his “everything will be fine” mentality, his warm hug, that made everything really feel like it was going to be fine.

As I scrolled through the pictures on his facebook, laughing at the memes he made or shared, the pictures of him and Megan, and the ones of us, I realized, I can tell you things that happened the days that most of those pics were taken. I can tell you that in this picture, we had argued, right before getting out of the car, at his Aunt Cindy’s house. I don’t remember what we argued about, but I remember we were having a tiff. All ended up fine, as it always did with us. I mean, who can stay mad at those dimples?

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I have been thinking a lot. My brain has been in overdrive, and I just lay here, and think, “This is really happening? This is really my life? Why? What the hell did I do? Why does whoever is in charge think this was necessary? This sucks! I am strong, but damnit, I don’t want to be!”

Things like this are a regular cycle through my head, recently.

A small part of me is still hoping this is a joke. Or maybe Mitch witnessed something, and is actually in the witness protection program. But, my realistic mind overrules those thoughts. I know what’s real. No matter how much I wish it wasn’t, this is fact. Mitch has passed on, and is without pain or worries. He is free. He is with his mom, grandmother, and many of the greats.

I am here. Meg is here. We are making the best of this situation. We are not just surviving, we are THRIVING. We are being the best that WE can be. We are working to better ourselves each day, with every step and every human encounter we make.

As I lay here, and mourn the loss of such an inspiration to my life, I know it is just my selfish nature, wanting to keep him just for us. He was MINE, and I only shared with Megan. When she was born, he became OURS.

I read, quite a bit, like I’ve said in previous blogs. I actually read a new one, within the last couple of days about “Widows should only date widowers.” My initial thought was “WHAT? WHY??” Then, “NO THANK YOU!” As I read along, and it makes quite a few points about why it should be that way, I still disagree. I think that the right person for any widow or widower, will be the person who is the strongest, and the one with the most understanding. It’ll be the person who doesn’t get jealous over a deceased spouse. It’ll be the one who says “Let’s go to *insert place here* and take some ash!”

It doesn’t have to be a widower. It doesn’t have to be someone who “understands”. It just needs to be someone STRONG. Someone who is willing to understand YOU as a person grieving, and know that there can be a bond, but a different kind of bond that you shared with your deceased love.

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I am going to talk about Mitch, probably until the day I die, because he was hilarious, and such a HUGE part of my life, not to mention, he fathered my amazing daughter. So, STRONG and secure in oneself, are a must, when it comes to that point in my life. And, honestly, who knows when I will ever be to the “dating” point? It could be months, it could be years, it could be never, or tomorrow?

It’s funny, when I think about dating. I had seriously sworn off all men, the night before Mitch came into McDonald’s and invited me to his 18th bday party. Sworn. Off. All. Men! I was done! I had it and didn’t even care to talk to them.

Then, in walked Mitch with his dazzling (ornery) smile, with those dimples to die for.

It was over. I was finished. We were going to get married. Plain and simple. I knew it, and I hadn’t even kissed him yet. But, I sure had plans to put my lips on him. And I did. In front of ALL of his friends. I don’t think one person, at his birthday party,  missed our first kiss.

And then came our very brief “dating”. We took Michael and Katy to their skate parties, because going with a super awesome big brother and his girlfriend is WAYYYYY cooler than going with the dreaded parents.

Our first movie date is questionable. We can’t remember if it was Coyote Ugly at the Drive in, or Bring It On at the theater. Neither of us could remember. We didn’t actually care.

I remember walking in front of some strip mall somewhere, and we used to write things on the palm of each other’s hands, with our fingertips, and try to guess what we were spelling.

That was how he told me he loved me, for the first time.

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I remember our first apartment, together. We were insane! We picked one of the most expensive complexes with one of the most expensive layouts we could find, and only lasted about 3 months there. We were 18, and had our 17 and 16-year-old friends move in with us. We all lost or quit our jobs. How does one pay rent and bills without a job? hmmmm….

We moved out.

After that, for Mitch and I, it was a downward spiral with bills and bill collectors, and we were sued once for a car accident, in which  our car insurance company dropped us instead of paying for the other car to be repaired! We were so broke that we nearly lost our shit when we were sued for $1,000. Really? We couldn’t manage that? I worked at mcd’s, he worked at Two Men and a Truck. I think collectively, we made about 36,000 a year. Then, I was put on bedrest, about 2 months before Megan was due. Pregnancy and I didn’t get along. Reason number 1 that we didn’t have more children.

Luckily, the older we got, the better we became with taking care of our bills in a reasonable manner. But, enough about that. Bills and money are boring, when it’s not about winning millions, or earning millions.

Many of you read this each time I post a new blog, some may not, and that’s okay. If this is your fist time reading, It is important to know that my husband was 34 when he died from heart failure. His heart just stopped ticking. Now, you’ll understand the next part of this story.

I have been very busy. I have been to Georgia, near St. Louis, and in Fort Worth and Dallas, TX. That’s just in the last month. I have taken a vow to better health. I have hired a trainer (JRenFitness) and have been trying my damnedest to keep up with the regime. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up, because of my job, but I try. I think I may have overdone it recently, so I am happy to be taking a mini-break. I am planning 3 or 4 more travel weekends soon, for racing. But first, I go to Florida with my family. I am excited to do workouts at the butt-crack of dawn on the beach. It will be our first family vacation, ever.  It’ll be my first time seeing the ocean. It’ll be my first time in Florida. There will be a lot of firsts that Meg and I will do together.

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One thing we will not shy away from? Talking about her dad. I am sure there will be very emotional times, while we are there. I am sure we will laugh. I am sure we will cry. I am sure we will have an amazing time.

We. Are. Still. Alive.

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When I was in the ER for this terrible migraine, they came in to ask me all the questions for billing, and they asked “Is your emergency contact still Mitch Wood at…” and I started crying, and said no. Of course the next question was “marital status, still married?” I said “no, widowed” and kept crying. I didn’t think that qeustion would effect me as it did, but it did. And I was alone in the room with the poor girl taking all of my information.

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Now, it’s weird for me to think of myself as “single” because that word is so much less than what I am. I am not with anyone, anymore, but I am a complicated mess of human emotion. I will never be “normal” again. And that’s okay. Who wants “normal” anyway? “Normal” is overrated.

 

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Our Football Rivalry! Mitch would be proud to know, Megan prefers the Seahawks.