Double Digits

The youngest turned double digits.  The anticipation for this age, started at age 8.  As soon as she turned 8, she said, two more years… then I”m 10!  Then a year passed and she turned 9.  Still. she said…. one more year till 10.  So the day arrived.  Due to the 5 inches of snow, the schools were cancelled for the second day in a row.  The thrill could be seen on her face when her brother squealed the announcement, MOM, SCHOOL IS CANCELLED AGAIN!!!   The baby of the family, almost knocked herself out jumping in the year.  I was even caught up in the sheer joy she was expressing and I teased her and said, they found out, they found out, Anna, they knew it was your birthday so they cancelled.  Later I decided to enjoy the new movies out on Amazon.  1st mistake…. sweet/sad movies.  Between being hormonal and birthday grief, I lost my grief guard.  I cried through 2 movies, and finally crawled in the bed and cried myself to sleep.

Because, Birthdays are hard.  Hard to be so happy for the birth of your child when you feel that deep pang in you, wishing they had the one true wish.   Pang, of missing him so much and missing that he loved celebrating with them.

Lately, we have been going through the holidays and some family drama of the grandparent in the hospital.  Our holiday was just get through it.  I have to create magic, all while wanting to just fall down and stomp my feet.  I don’t want to adult.  I want to have the facade that everyone else puts up that Christmas is so freaking great with your weird in laws and we are not broke.

This year I had to rob retirement to pay for Christmas.  There is more to it, like quitting my job but Christmas kept seeming to not be in my financial monthly check.

anyway we made it.  Then she turned 10.

I just cried.  I do this alone.  I grieve basically alone now.  No one checks in anymore.  Not even family.  I do this alone.  So I think I have developed grief guard.  I don’t go down memory lane, because it opens up.

This past fall, when I was so miserable, it was a distraction to grief.  ha.

Now, I have a glimmer of hope in new professional plans and so I don’t have a distraction. I have happy stuff to think about but then when grief hits, it does not bounce off, it goes straight to my heart.

I can feel it, I see whatever that triggers a memory, thought, and I can honestly feel grief.  My right side of my back tightens up.  It’s the oddest thing.  I can feel my jaw clinch, and I close my eyes.  I inhale and when I exhale, it comes out with tears.  I breathe again and just close my eyes.  I have noticed that since I’ve gotten better with my chest, that I don’t gag as much.  Her birthday though, made me cry in my pillow and wail.

I begged again, please God, let me talk to him.  please.

I want to tell you how much she loves you.  Our baby craves you.  She wants love so much.  There are only a few of us to tell her that we love her.  She eats it up.  It’s on the edge of obnoxious but I know that honestly she is just so thirsty for affection and love.  She has always been this exuberant joyful and dramatic child.  but damn, she loved him.  The attachment to all three was so strong.  He was not like other dads that I observe.  John was there with our kids.  Sure he annoyed me playing battle pirates but he also put them to bed every single night.  Three years have passed and finally we are losing the sacred bed time ritual.  mostly because I suck and I’m out of mom giving at night.  but the eve of the 10th birthday was different.

the baby-Mom-

me- yes

the baby-, pray for daddy.

me- ok.

every night for 3 years.  pray for daddy.  I don’t know why?  I think it’s to tell him that we love him and to come back.  Maybe that is is ok in heaven?  I’m not sure and I don’t have the strength to ask her, what are we praying for.  Maybe it’s all of it, maybe it changes as the time has gone on.

Happy Birthday my double digit and Golden Birthday girl.  Mom and Dad love you.





Mickey Mouse, we went to his house.

Since John died , you think of ways to make you happy again, even if for a moment.  Disney comes to mind, for me it sounded like Hell.

I first escaped to the beach.  I remember thinking, I just need to go think on the beach., but I had to wait 2 months and instead I went there for Christmas and created Christmas in Charleston and beach.  it helped.

Then I decided to go out west.  We had friends there and family and they all begged us to come.  So we went. I had never been and I wanted to see those mountains.  It at times made me cry because I wanted to look at John and for him to enjoy it with us.  but I did it.

I went back to the beach a few more times, and I went to Italy.

Then I was ready.

Trip planning has been a way for me to get distracted and have hope.  Disney did just that.  I could plan and reserve and dream and study.  Then we got there and we just enjoyed.  I kinda am pinching myself about it.  It did not hurt.  I wanted him there but I felt like he was always with us.  It did hurt a couple of times on the bus, when famiies were all around and daddies were snuggling their kids.  I know it bothers my kids because they have said, it makes them cry and miss their dad.  So I suck air and distract them.  I hug them and tuck hair behind their ears, I scratch their backs, I nuzzle them.

I took my kids to disney.  I did it.  Single mom owned that trip. Thank you John.

oh what to dream of next.  ……. Canada?   New England?  🙂

I spent the last of the hunk of money for the trip so no more.  It’s camper time for us.  🙂


gratitude is the word of the year

The other day as my mom and I were at our first together at a craft festival, we shopped together looking at other’s creations and admiring things together.  As we shopped somehow or another, she saw something that said Joy.  She said, “that’s my word”. I said wait, what do you mean?”  She said she picked a word this year that was a word she was focusing on.  She picked Joy.   I laughed and said, well I like that word, that is my word for Anna, because I think I should have named her that because she exudes Joy all the time.

It reminded me of a bible study or a practice that many people do in meditation or prayer.  The past few days for me, have been health hell, but I found the word, Gratitude surface up and help me focus my thoughts.  Gratitude has showed up this year, in helping me pull out of my hole of depression and helping me find any small light to be joyful for.

On Friday, I knew I was going to check into outpatient to have a procedure, as they called it to have a scope to look at why my bladder has been making stones.  A second surgery would be scheduled after the doctor found out what he needed to.  But things changed from this original plan.

For many of us, this would be a big deal, it was, but I have a habit of trying to not make a deal out of shit because of some odd malfunction of mine.  Anyway, that morning my brother who took me, went to go get a biscuit, I was playing sim city on my iPhone and waiting for the dr.  which would be an hour.  Well, about 3 min passed and in walked my dr.  Oh hey.  Well, in about one minute he changed the plan.  The “procedure” would be now to go ahead and blow up the stones and figure out what the blockage was to my kidney.

(I’m glad that 2 weeks ago when they told me, that I got drunk for reals because this just shows I had a real reaction and reacted and then I later swept this under the rug.)

So anyway, as he explained what he would do, I stopped him and said, well wait, you had a different plan, he looked at me like, so what…

I was like, um a stint is uncomfortable you said, he said, well, yes, but I have to do that in order to do a scope.  oh.

So I of course acted like a grateful normal easy going woman and said ok.  I texted my brother who was taking his time, and this of course caused us to giggle because he was off in some bathroom.

soon my room was busy with nurses and anthesesiologists who asked me over and over what was my procedure and whatever…..

I was super friendly and I kinda just thought, this is easy, I’ve got this.  I’m not going to have a nervous panic attack.  So a comedy routine happened as my brother who joined me in the room.  I’m sure the nursing staff thought it was the greatest day of their life.

soon the iv was in and i felt a strange feeling,  “hey, did y’all give me something?”  yes they said.  oh good,  I like versed.  My kids have had that.

Later in the OR, they quickly put my anesthesia mask on me because I was apologizing for having a full bush and hairy legs.  breathe deep Ashley……

I don’t really want to know how or what they did.  I don’t have a time concept.

I awoke in recovery. and i hurt.  my nurse had no expression on her face.  I heard one nurse talking and she was very nice.  I wanted her.

I hurt bad.  I asked for pain medication.  She gave it to me, but seemed annoyed. Then I felt nauseous.  I asked for that med.  she gave it too me.  It was really loud because another nurse was fussing.  I was in hospital hell.

Eventually I left, but not before questioning my expressionless nurse on why she did not talk to me.  I wonder if she gets that a lot?

The next stop is the recovery step down.  I was put in this recliner thing and I immediately threw up.  they give you a small blue plastic trash can that is hand-held for you to throw up in.  3 or 4 nurses showed up and then there was none.  again no talking.  soon I saw my brother and i thought thank god.  As he arrived he told me what the doctor said.

So I had a flap over my kidney that was causing my urine to not move out like it should that caused the crystals that turned into stones.  He blew up 2 but one was unreachable.  He removed the flap.

I did not have to have another surgery, my brother smiled to me.  I think I threw up.  and said, i need pain meds.  I think I cried.

the pain was so intense.  It keeps you weak.  it humbles you, it prioritizes for you.

It hurt to throw up or heave.  I remember looking at my brother in mercy.  He quickly handed me my personal tiny throw up trash can.  I asked for more meds.

soon I observed others leaving and I realized I wanted to go home.  to just be sick at home. I asked about this.  Another nurse showed up named Evelyn and I complimented her on how nice she is /was because I overheard her.  She liked this.  My brother used humor without my amazing accompaniment and he failed.  Evelyn looked at him.  If I could have laughed at him, I would have but I think I heaved from the pain.

I got in a chair and I got in my brothers car.

Every turn, and bump wiggled that stint in my urethra.

My urethra did not like that stint and therefore neither did I.

We finally made it home and I made a shot for my bed.  I just got in it and laid down.  and then I threw up or heaved.  this awful heaving sound that scared even me.

My brother was flying around and trying to help me.  He was answering phone calls, and I think he was cleaning.

You see, I left my house a mess because this was just supposed to be a simple procedure.  I had laundry to do.  My oldest left for the beach, there were dishes waiting.  no groceries, my toilet seat pulled off with a crack in it.  dirty under ware and random clean clothes in a basket.  My brother who is married to a neat freak, was overwhelmed.  After several hours of me laying there and Sean saying he did hear me snore. My mom showed up with my 2 kids and my nephew.

Mom quickly got to work cleaning because now…. we had an issue.  I was non mobile or able.  My bro had a birthday party of one of his children the next day.  I overheard the word epic used to describe it.

My mom can’t leave my dad anymore for long periods.  I had no one.

Let’s pause now.

I did not have anyone.

this is where I lost my shit and pain, puts you down on the ground humble .

I remembered my friend Maura had offered to stay over.  I blew her off at the time.  and now suddenly, I blurted out her name.

She was perfect and she showed up.  I want to type that out again.

she showed up.  She eased into my house and chatted easily, i heard her, she came to look at me and we grinned and I just laid down.

You see Maura is like an adopted older sister who i fell in love immediately with years ago. We have stayed friends and she shows up.  We had just finally had dinner the other week an said we need to do this more.  Who knew she would become my person overnight soon.

I just stayed in the bed and she watched a movie with Anna on my stinky dog couch but Maura does not care, she has dogs too.

She is messy, intelligent, simple, she has empathy mixed with a strong-willed woman who is a smart ass.  She woke up during the night when I did and made a noise.  She came into my bedroom and made sure I got back in the bed. It was bad that night.

at 3am, I was awake again for like the 10th time and I called the doctor on call.  I said this is not normal.  he said I could take another pain pill and take 3 motrin.  so i did.

In the morning I went to my couch and spread my body out to let my urethra have some space.

Anna made me coffee and got me water.  I just stared in pain.  As the morning passed Maura woke and checked on me.  During the night she had been up just as much as I had and had numerous animals visit her.  I was embarrassed and yet so freaking thankful of this easy-going woman in my life.  I am so fucking grateful to have her.  I mean it.  She showed up when I was not able.  Honestly I was sad to see my bro and mom walk away.  but there was no choice.  I am a widow and I don’t have a significant so I have to call people and honestly this is what makes me cry.  sometimes they say no.

or sometimes they don’t even call.

I think what gets me next to the floor and so low is when I know they know and they do not call.  I could say this is just one friend but because I require lots of friends, it’s more.  I even tell myself why they don'[t call.  I’m too much.  It’s just too much that I need.  they have done their time.  they can’t do it.

So I am so grateful for my brother, my mom and Maura.  I am grateful for my church community.  I am grateful for my God that I have in my mind that is my self-conscious/ a mix of John in heaven and the goodness factor.

I pray to God,  please help me. please.

and he sends Maura.   he allows me to feel pain.  and feel grateful for my home and bed.  He reminds me of how powerful our body functioning properly is.

I do not take this body that somehow he created for granted.

God, have mercy on my soul.  I am so grateful for you.




I never believed in lucky numbers or unlucky.  I had of course known about the number 13 but honestly, I really did not believe in it.  So a lot of bad stuff happened in 2013 and I did not even really think about the 13 part until 2016 and then I kinda went.  huh?

First I thought of 2013, and then that’s when John died.  that’s sad.  oh gosh, 2013 is not a great number supposedly.  Then I thought, well actually other yuck stuff happened to.  like, our dog died.  Our Zena dog died a month before John and we all cried and cried.  I really missed her.  that’s not good.  Then I remembered John did not have his contract renewed for the first time in teaching.  He was devastated and it was awful to go through as his wife, as his friend, as his person and it was awful because I honestly was not supportive enough.  It was a blow to him.  This was on top of in March, he lost his Dad.  Then before that it had been a year of stress in his job of dealing with a rough class.  It was not a good year for John.

For me.  I had been accepted to grad school and I started.  I was elated.  I had gotten a sorda promotion and raise.  I had submitted a proposal to present nationally and it was accepted.  I was going to NYC to study with one of the top schools in the nation for a week.  For myself, it was a career winner.  For John it was horrible.

Anyway, this year, I have talked to several of my friends about writing. I’ve submitted  few things and it was shared which was huge for me because that meant I was open about something so raw I was putting into words.  It vulnerability and I don’t like that. But I love writing and coming from a place of being told, that I suck to others being said, no you don’t.

So I have thought about doing more with writing to continue to heal and soothe my soul, but also to crank out my ideas in a creative way to share.  As I’ve thought about how to frame my writing and what I need to share, it’s about grief.  I want to share and help heal, just as other writers have done and they so helped me.  I want to help others.  so for some reason, 2013 is resonating with me.

2013 will be a frame.  It’s catchy.  It’s just.  plain and simple and if you step back before, during and after reading my material …. per say you….. It would frame it all.  So that’s where I am.

Prissy and the Chickens- Take 2!

Well one of my first posts right after John died was about a conversation I had with my former mother in law.  I say former because since I’m not married technically to John anymore, I can call her that.  Go ahead and read into that sarcastic writing.

so anyway after 2.5 years of basically not talking.  She decided she really wanted to spend time with the children and I was in a better place so I gave the week available.  They all planned and got excited.  She even drove to Asheville to get them.  6 days.  Wow.

Prissy is still around but not the chickens.  Since John passed away, his mother sold her little house in the middle of nowhere and bought a house bigger than mine in a nice neighborhood right off the BRP.  She has a new car, a golf cart, even though she does not play but the kids love it. She leads a simple life of herself, a few friends and her new church to her.

As a progressive and left leaning Christian, I struggle with forgiving my right wing conservative former mother in law.  but I do feel the anger leaving my soul for her.  I listened to my children talk about their week.  They saw some relatives that are mine, they loved her house and golf cart.  Prissy even lets them pet her.  They had big favorite meals, they went shopping, and on summer adventures.  They had a great vacation and they spent quality time with her.  The oldest shared how they drove past our old house and Grammy broke down.  Later at the dinner table, she broke down again and so did the girls. What my children have not had, is John’s mom to grieve with.  This woman who carried him, birthed him and raised him, longer than I got to be married to him.  She drove him crazy but he loved her, she was his momma.

So this week when I got super freaky because she was reading aloud the bible to my almost agnostic child, but they (the children) calmed me down and said it’s ok, mom.  We are ok.  My Christian self, questioned what I love about God, and begged actually for grace and for help letting go and letting him/or her be with my children as they heard a different interpretation.  See I should so trust it’s going to be ok, because She and her husband/John’s dad raised John in a very conservative home but I did find John.  Who was quite moderate in most ways but loved my liberal left leaning ways.  He turned out ok.  I myself was raised by conservative moderates and look at me.  I’ve embraced having a week of not feeling guilty when I’ve been at work.  That was a big nice break.  I noticed that difference.  This working mom thing is hard.  I want to be with them to make the world the best that I can since we lost part of our family.  I feel guilty a lot for being late to work or because I’m not at home with them when they are barely sick.  If I stay late at work or spend longer days at work.  I feel guilty for asking my mom to help because then she feels guilty for leaving my dad.  My dad feels guilty for feeling guilty and hurting and missing everyone.  I hate guilt.

So Prissy  and Mary had the children and it’s come full circle for me in this grief loophole.  Peace be to thee.


facing the demon

the only way I know to really get this out is this way.


Dear John,

Today I went to where I lost you.  or I lost your spirit or soul.  I never wanted to go back there again.  When I drove by it was hard.  so after a night of hell of pain and being so depleted, I just wanted to stop all the pain.  so I went to the ER at 9 am to figure out why I puke and shit and have pains in my belly.

my blood pressure was high. duh.

but honestly John, we know why.  I’ve let myself go and go and go.  I stopped caring because no one else did.  but last night, I realized my kids need me.  When trying to figure out how to get there, and what to do,  the pain so bad, I just pushed on.  I knew somehow it would work out.  I just was hurting so bad I could not even think straight.  I took myself.  no one was around.  it’s a holiday.  I don’t call anyone because I don’t want anyone to have to do this.  It sucks.

So many things came back to me.  Taking you to the ER or the Dr.  all the time, suddenly.  How I brush things off and deny it could be something.  Trying not to get upset because if I lived in how our life was, I might actually be worse off.

I realized or remembered denying how bad things were that day.  trying to push on and not think it’s bad.  because most of the time, it worked out.  but I was mad that day.  I was mad because you had been in the er just 2 weeks before.  It was our year from hell.  2013.  I realized that just this week.  2013.  13.  I never believed in bad luck or bad 13.  whatever .

but this week.  I thought, fuck,  I was just denying that. again.  it was bad luck.

John, I missed Tubing with the kids today because my belly hurt.  I kinda zoned out in the ER trying to steady myself and not go into the hole in front of me.  I looked at the ER and saw all the rooms and I honestly could not remember which one it was.  I thought I knew but I did not.  there are so many.  Then I thought about how many people have died here and how many souls have left in this area.  I wondered if it was happening right then or what.  I saw a woman crying in a room and I wanted to reach out to her.  but I was in this damn hospital bed and that did not bring me many anwers.

It did make me wake up and say, Ashley.  If you don’t take care of yourself like you preach, no one will.

I have to give up some bad stuff.  I have to back off of wine.

So night I was bland and backed off.  I hope I sleep.

I’m going to embrace health tomorrow John.  I hope you have angel wings and spirit that you can funnel to me somehow to keep going.

i miss you John. I miss you so much.



A deep deep hole

Today I’m finally at a place where I can just write.  I seem to have lost all energy or want or desire and writing used to be a release but now there is no reason to write because it’s like I’m just floating….

This week, I took off to my friends lake house and it’s so isolated, calm and just a nice time out.   Part of me thought, this is the last thing I need is more isolation but I needed a free place.  When I thought about the trip, I thought about reading.   Reading used to be my passion, my love, so many books.  I’ve quit reading.  I’ve quit doing basically anything that used to bring me joy.  Most days I vegetate on the couch after work and stare at Facebook or watch netflix.  that is my life.  I mean mine.  I do take my kids places and we grocery shop but I do nothing for me.

So I got to the lake and peered at the books and I could not decide. I felt excited.  I finally picked a book called On Agate Hill by Lee Smith.  This book started slow but it was so freaking deep and wonderful.  It was almost a 4 series.  In the end the vibrant star of the book, ends life being simple, lived through joy and hell and made peace with her life that would have sent me over the edge.  It delt with grief.

Finally I finished the book and I read the author’s note and she told the story of losing her son to schizophrenia and the grief she felt that froze her.  Finally the doctor said… you need to write and she forced herself to write, and slowly this book I just read, came alive.  She found a way to get excited and explore subjects so close to her heart and yet weave this amazing story.  She talked about reading a book, that I have at my house but did not have the heart to read yet and now, I can’t wait to get home and start it.  I’m reading another book as I leave the lake house behind.  but it was floating in the water that I felt what my soul has been doing.

I’ve been floating.  not sinking really, not swimming or diving, or jumping or treading.  I’ve been floating.  and when your ears are underwater, and everything is muffled.  that is what it also feels like.  the world is muffled.  Ive noticed that I have strong strong reactions to stress.  or to discomfort.  I just think my soul is worn out.  I am hurting so much and I have no way to fix it.

This grief of my former life has just swallowed me whole.  Every now and then, I can hear my former life, when I see others that I used to work along side, I see them having great success, I see others keep raising the bar, and insteadI feel like I don’t have anything to make me even feel like rising up.  I want to rise up.  Like Brene Brown’s book.  I thought I had, but I find that I’m just floating.

Oh gosh, I wish that tomorrow will be the day that life get’s better.  I try and realize that it’s not as bad as it was.  Of constantly crying of being in constant shock.

I can’t honestly believe that I am standing and carrying on.  I remember crying every morning and holding on to the side of the wall to stay upright.  Crying so hard, I gag over and over and throw up.  not being able to cry because a new physical reaction caused me to not release.  Then getting so sick and coughing and gagging more.  Not being able to walk or talk well without coughing.

Drinking every night as fast as I could to numb my mind, numb the shock.  The shock of losing John, of losing my former life.

I have had some beautiful things come in though and I have to remind myself that I did find a community of women that have been fun and it has lead to new friendships.   Because when I lost John, I lost my former life.  Friends faded away or moved away.  I lost again and again. I think God is waiting for me or he knows this takes time.  I have to believe in that.

The other night I slept so well, and I had the most wonderful dream.  I met a man, and he fell for me.  He made me amazing jewelry that had cool meaning.  He did not have all of his fingers and I asked him, “how will we hold hands?”  He said we will hold fingers.  I actually would wake up and go back to the dream and I was smiling in my dream.  Like Ashley smiling and laughing and feeling so happy.  I missed being loved and watched over.  There is nothing in this world that feels like love.

Until then Im in this deep hole, looking up and wondering how to get out and to keep living in a way that is not in a hole, not floating.  or numbing.