Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Three Years

Three years ago a very terrible thing happened. I have no idea what the weather was like that day as my back was to the window and all of my focus was on the storm happening in front of me. I'm told it was a beautiful fall day, perfect blue skies, the crisp in the air showing that winter was just around the corner. I can still recall some events from that day with perfect clarity, other details have faded slightly over the years. Our families and I saw some horrific things that day but in the days, weeks, months and now years that have followed we have seen so much beauty in the compassion of others.

We were all lucky enough to experience the entity that was Tim in every facet, the good and the bad, and we were lucky enough to be able to be with him in his final moments, as hard as they were. His family will always be mine and seeing little bits of him within each of them is always heartwarming, but especially seeing the mischievous look Harlan gets as he's considering his next move, how much Lillian cares for others and her concern for their feelings and Stella's tenacity & joy for life is like seeing bits of Tim (plus Harlan has his ears & his love for Carolina).

Enjoy today, whatever the weather may be. Think of him, maybe tell his story to someone else in the hope of preventing another family from going through such a loss, because as long as his memory is alive, so is he. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Moving Forward, Reflecting Back

This summer I turned 33, I'm now officially older than Tim ever will be. It wasn't as sad as I anticipated it might be, more just a strange feeling. I've done a lot of thinking over the past few months about what was and what will be. I've come to a place in which I'm somewhat in awe of what I've made it through. I say the follows my not with a sense of pride but more of wonder that it happened to me, that I lived this and that I made it. I've never thought of myself as a strong person just really damn stubborn, maybe that finally paid off for me. What I am proud of though is the person these experiences have shaped me to be. I'm happier with myself in any form that takes, I'm kinder to people even when they aren't to me because I remember what it's like to be fighting just to make it through the next five minutes. By no means am I patient but I have a lot more of it than I used to. I care less about objects and perceptions and much more about people and how I make them feel. I'm no saint and still get oh so wrapped up in gossip, drama, etc. but those moments have become fewer and far between. I take joy in experiences and have less fear in general (thank God because I was wound tighter than a clock with my fear). I was sent something called a Mantra Band after Tim died stating "Be Still & Know", it has quite literally become my mantra and I try to abide by it as much as my (still thriving) OCD allows.

Once again, I'm happy. I've been dating an amazing man for months now and while I take the credit along with my friends and family for the majority of the hard work it's taken to recover, he has completed that process. He's shown me kindness, patience, that I can love again and most importantly, that I can be loved again. I finally feel like a whole person again.

I feel like the final step is to reflect back which is what I'm beginning to do now. I'm (finally) officially off of sleeping pills and beginning to get back into a regular sleep pattern. I no longer feel like a crazed zombie all of the time. I've realized that I've been avoiding a lot of pain for some time now and have begun to face that. In that I've realized how much I gave of myself and my life during Tim's illness. I have no regrets about that but the process completely drained me and even now, almost 3 years later, I have periods where the mental exhaustion still takes over.

Today Tim would've turned 35, on his last birthday, 3 years ago, he was fighting pancreatitis so our celebratory meal with his family was low-residue foods (I.e. Pretty bland). A major part of that is absolutely no sugar (to rest the pancreas). I will never forget our sweet niece, Lillian's crestfallen face as the "cake" was brought out during the singing of the birthday song and her realization that we hadn't been joking about there being no cake. That this dish was actually pears lined up with candles, I think her outward disappointment was felt by all of us, especially Tim. I still hate that he never got sweets again as he loved them so.

Ever since that year, Tim's birthday, for me, has marked the beginning of the end. He had the first emergency hospital admission the very next day, the first call of the rapid response team, along with the first of many surgeries, nights in the ICU (although the first with the drunk guy who wrecked his moped into a stop sign was the worst). We had some good moments during this period, actually some of my favorite memories, of date nights crammed into his hospital bed watching a movie on the tiny hospital TV, of the pure joy on his face the first time Maddy came to visit him and the way they cuddled up for hours on her last visit (& when she pooped in the hall as my dad was bringing her in, I've never seen such panic on his face and the unit secretary was incredibly calm as she asked if he really thought that was the worst those floors has seen). Some of my favorite memories involve Steven, Tim was so floored with how much time he got to spend with him (even if the situation sucked). Tim adored him more than I think he could ever know and Steven bent over backwards to be there for both of us through everything be it bringing a TV in to watch the Carolina game down in CVICU, helping me keep Tim's phone hidden so he'd stop texting and get some sleep (then defending me when I got caught days later) & my favorite was when we had to convince Tim to keep his C-pap mask on in the CCU as he was still groggy and confused by the anesthesia. He told us he didn't like us for forcing him to stay in the mask & listen to the nurse, then got sick due to the force of the air going into his stomach (one of the side effects we knew would happen and part of why he was fighting us so hard on it). No nurses were around so Steven and I were both struggling, gagging and trying to help him/get a nurse in there. It had to have looked like a comedy show from the outside.

I also got caught selling him out for his new-found love of Dilaudid. Knowing what I do now I never would've intervened but at the time I was terrified of him becoming addicted, he was beginning to count down the minutes until he could get his next dose and kept asking the nurses to "push it fast" into his IV. Understanding now how much pain he had to have been in at that point I get it but at the time I thought he surely was becoming an addict. I told him I was going downstairs to grab lunch and would be right back (after expressing my concern to him multiple times about the medication). I mentioned my concerns to his nurse at the time but asked that I be kept independent of the decision as I didn't want him to get angry with me and went downstairs, grabbed some food and headed back up. I assumed they'd wait it out a bit or have one of the doctors address it during rounds the next morning but of course that would've been too easy. The nurse came in about two minutes after me and started telling Tim about how as of now they were moving him to pain pills and off of the Dilaudid. As soon as she finished speaking his head swiveled over to me (excorcist like) & with fire in his eyes he stated "This is your doing isn't it". At the time it was a little disconcerting but became a big joke between us and our families very quickly. When we found out there were no more options that last night they asked Tim if there was anything he wanted to be more comfortable. He requested a Coke (the first time he'd been allowed to drink anything all day) but his big request was for Dilaudid, our families were in the room when he asked for that and everyone started laughing. Once again he broke the tension of a horrible situation with his unfailing humor (he also asked her to push it REALLY fast when they delivered).

Tim had his moments where he was quick to anger, where he was a stubborn/grouchy mule but he was always looking out for everyone else, especially his family who he loved so dearly. He would make all of us laugh, even in the darkest moments of our lives and that grin of his was absolutely infectious, especially when you knew he was plotting something (which was always written all over his face). I have no doubt that he is spreading that joy of his up in heaven today as he celebrates what should be his 35th Birthday & I hope he's getting all the cake and snickerdoodle cookies his heart desires!

Monday, April 10, 2017

10th on the 7th, 7th on the 10th

Life has been pretty good as of late, I'm currently in Chicago visiting Tim's cousin Kristen and have had such a fun time with her over the past few days. I scheduled the trip from the 7th to the 10th initially as I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this weekend. The 7th marked 10 years since Tim & I met and the 10th marks 10 years since our first date and more importantly 7 years since our wedding. Obviously there is some sadness about what could've been but these anniversaries are starting to be days that hurt less and in which I can just remember and appreciate what was and how lucky we both were to have had it, even if only for a brief moment.

So today I'm just remembering a perfect spring day in April that was neither too hot or too cold, gorgeous blue skies, everything at peak bloom and being surrounded by our friends & families.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

New Year(ish), New Beginnings, New Perspectives 


It's been awhile since I've written anything, to be honest, it's been nice. I also took some time away from seeing my therapist to try and collect my thoughts. She's amazing and has provided me with the tools to be able to do such a thing. I'm at a strange place in my life now. Sometime during the end of last year I felt a peace with everything that I've never had before (granted I did just switch to a new anti-depressant/anxiety med). I still miss Tim like crazy and think of him every single day. I'd trade absolutely anything to be back with him and it still hurts but I think it always will to some extent. I think it has to because as long as I still love Tim (which will never end) it will hurt that he was taken from all of us so early. 


This is probably the longest break I've taken from updating this blog since we started it but for some reason I just felt the need to get some stuff out tonight I guess as it's been somewhat of a rough and emotionally draining day. Biggest news is that I was laid off from my job in early December due to the elimination of my position, luckily my friends that own On the Roxx and The 05 ended up with an unexpected opening for their event coordinator/marketing so I'm taking that over as of this week. It's a great opportunity with lots of potential and I'm grateful to be able to take so,e time doing something fun for awhile as I figure out what direction I want to go next. 


I've been renovating my guest bathroom and just finishing up in time to find my masterbath is a ticking time bomb for needing its own reno. Pretty sure that between the dogs and the renovations I'll ever have a clean house again. My goal for this year is to have a clean house, clean dogs, clean car and clean me if only for afternoon before Dec 31.


In other news, which I may regret sharing and will come as a bit of a shock to all 4 of my parents and siblings is that I've begun to explore dating again. It's a lot different than it was 10 years ago and I'm so lost/confused about how it works these days. I did join a dating app and was asked to be the host of someone's seed as they wanted to make a mommy out of someone. I've never been so freaked out by another human. I have been out with a very nice guy who makes me laugh like I haven't in a very long time and has been kind, understanding and respectful of Tim's legacy. Who knows how this will work in the long haul but for now simply grabbing dinner and a movie with someone who can make me laugh and enjoys my mixed up humor while I get the pleasure of his company sounds good. This is likely to be the only post I make about this subject as I made the choice to open my life with Tim but no one beyond the two of us opted in for the public view of our life and as I figure out if/how dating will fit into my life privacy sounds pretty great.


Life is great some days and hard others but I'm finally finding a new normal and daily routine. The dogs keep me on my toes and eat everything in sight. The off and on of meds they've put me on over the past 2 years has changed my metabolism so I'm getting aggressive about getting my body back so I can try to feel a bit more like me again.


Thank you all for everything you've done over the past two and a half years. I have the strongest (& most protective) groups of friends I could ever ask for. They pick me up when I'm feeling down and arrange days on the couch with junk food, sad movies and support when I need extra love. The fact though that I'm still getting messages about the impact Tim played in the lives of others is such a testimony to his wonderfully lived life. He's so ver missed, esp as we approach our 7th anniversary but knowing that he is now living the life he deserves is a bit of comfort.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Two Years too Long

Today marks two years since Tim's death. There are no words to describe how much it still hurts to miss him and how desperate I feel to have him back. It's not an exaggeration to say that I still think of him multiple times every single day. Recently I started struggling more than usual and went back to the doctor where I was diagnosed with Severe Clinical Depression along with the ADHD, the PTSD and anxiety/sleep issues I've had already. They are working to regulate medications for me now to get the right one and the right dosage. It puts me in drastic ups where everything is numb to the point that nothing phases me, I'm never happy or excited but I also don't have the downs, I also get the drastic downs where I literally cannot get out of bed or off of my couch, where I can sleep up to 22 hours in a day and still be completely wiped of energy. The back & forth is frustrating but they are trying hard to help.

I've been trying to stay as busy as I can, Im still working for LifeHME doing medical equipment sales and I work for some friends at their bar in Augusta Rd, the 05, some nights and most weekends. In between all of that I'm currently demoing my guest bathroom down to the studs and will be having that rebuilt back up. I also was a celebrity chef for the Cancer Survivors Park event, called CHOP! Cancer and recently did my first public speaking event on their behalf. I cried my whole way though it so hopefully they understood at least a little of what was said...

Most days I'm still in a rough place as I'm still trying to process all that happened and the tremendous loss of Tim. Many times it still doesn't feel like reality and I struggle to ask for the help that I need when I need it. I've processed through a little of the grief and am doing much better than I was even a year ago but I have such a long way left to go. I can't imagine ever reaching a point that I'm at peace with it. I still have to fall asleep with the TV or some kind of music on, it's the only way to quiet my brain just enough

The dogs keep me pretty busy. I got Maddy for my 21st birthday and when Tim & I started dating almost 2 yrs later they initially despised each other. Later the two of them would be sitting on our couch and if I joined both glared at me for interrupting them. They worshipped one another and it was not unusual for me to get out of bed in the morning & come back to find my spot replaced by her (tucked in by Tim of course). Tim actually had the guts one morning to tell me that if I wanted to keep sleeping to go to the couch bc they were comfortable. He never made that particular mistake again but I was the third wheel of our marriage and he did state that if it came to a decision of which of us to save in a fire that'd he'd choose her bc I "could figure it out". Her diva behavior has not lessened over the past two years but she is getting a run for her money with our newest addition. Max is the devil incarnate most days but he's so sweet and cuddly that you can't stay mad for long. Thus far he has eaten a tree, 2 hoses, a screen door, a gate, a few blankets, an expensive pair of shoes and various other random objects and has completely dug up my backyard. He has begun to make strides in killing off the wisteria root system but I've given up on owning anything nice for awhile. But he always seems to know when I need someone and curls right up to me every time.

I'm still living day to day, sometimes hour to hour, just working to survive the grief, hopefully one day I'll overcome it. I'm lucky in the incredible number of friends & family constantly offering their support. I have 2 great sets of parents and 4 amazing siblings but best of all 5 of the sweetest nieces & nephew there Ever were. I'm still stopped by people sometimes asking if I'm Jenny Bright, Tim's wife, & they tell me how his story has been such an inspiration to them. I'm so proud to know that his work and legacy continue on as ultimately my goal has been that no one ever forgets who he was, what he did and what he went through. For if those things remain in people's memories & the stories are shared to others, he will live on forever.











Friday, June 17, 2016

Updates

It's been awhile since I last posted but I'm staying incredibly busy. I'm enjoying my job with LifeHME doing medical equipment sales and meeting a lot of really great people through it. It feels good to be able to help others going through some of their most difficult parts of life. My friends, Elizabeth and Heather, also opened a second bar called The 05 on Augusta St. and I've been working there most weekends. I know a vast majority of people that come in, the other employees are a lot of fun to hang out with and as exhausted as I am I love it being able to socialize all weekend. :)

I'm about to start renovations again, apparently the tiles in my guest bath were attached directly to the wall so it has completely rotted and they are falling off. Of course the tiles are 1/4" bigger than any they make now and they don't make that color anymore so the project has evolved to completely gutting and redoing that bathroom.



I also adopted a rescue dog. He's a mix of a lab and who knows what else, weights about 42 pounds and growing rapidly, thinks he's a lapdog (literally crawls into everyone's lap that he can) and is the cutest ball of about 9 months old trouble there is. Thus far he's eaten a pair of (fairly expensive & fairly new) shoes, a doormat, numerous toys of his & has attempted to eat a set of patio furniture and a wooden post outside. He LOVES Maddy though and she has gotten a bit of her spark back finally with him being around. He's a typical puppy but very well behaved other than the chewing and I think he will be pretty trainable.


Maddy is doing great, she's still her sweet and spoiled self & is having a great time directing Max and chasing him around.


Riverside Baseball recently did an amazing tribute to Tim and two other former players that passed away at a young age. It was a beautiful night in which they recognized each player and their stories along with their families, dedicated plaques to them behind home plate, put their numbers on the press box and moving forward all players will wear a patch on their sleeve saying "Tradition Never Graduates" with the guy's numbers. They also got jerseys with each of the guys' names and numbers framed for the families. So much kindness and thought was put into the evening and it was so special to be able to be a part and even more to know that Tim will be a permanent part of one of the programs that meant so much to him.





A friend and I also got all of our hair chopped off and donated it to a program similar to Locks of Love. I went super blonde at the same time so I guess you could say there has been a little change going on around here recently.


Other than all of that I've just been enjoying spending time with friends & trying to get up to my parents' place in NC every once in awhile!




Monday, April 4, 2016

18 Months

Today marks 18 months since Tim's death. It's hard to comprehend sometimes that so much time has passed. I keep referring to "last year" in reference to events with Tim. In reality in less than a week it will be the second time our wedding anniversary has passed without Tim around to celebrate it with me.

I still have some really hard days but they are finally spacing out a bit. I'm starting to catch on a bit more with work and am staying busy with it and some of the volunteer opportunities I've discovered because of it. I've also discovered that the one time I don't think so much is when my hands and mind are busy, with the warmer weather I've been capitalizing on that and have been doing lots of yardwork and projects around my house. I injured myself yesterday with what was supposed to be a simple project of moving some bushes and spreading some soil. I found that my crawlspace vents were (poorly) glued in and had begun to fall out, when pulling them out the rest of the way I found some wires hanging in the crawlspace unattached to anything on one end. We had the house rewired so I went into the crawlspace to see if I could see new wires in the same area which would indicate these could be cut off and pulled out. After winding my way over and under various ducts and pipes I also found that a lot of my insulation has fallen out and started pushing that out of the vent holes. At one point I looked up and to my right and in the darkness I saw two eyes looking back at me. I've never moved so quickly as I did at that moment diving back over and under the various obstacles on my way out. I paid for it last night and all day today, looks like the animal got itself back out of the crawlspace sometime over the night and I will be hiring out the removal and replacement of the remaining insulation after discovering my most recent roommate.

Otherwise my life has been pretty boring as of late, I'm slowly starting to decrease my medications and am still seeing my therapist on a regular basis. I've also added in acupuncture again and it really helps to stabilize and center me. As much as I hate to admit it at times, life is slowly but surely moving forward. I know I've made big strides in my recovery even in just the past year but I do still have quite a ways to go and in many ways will never be the same. I'm much more reserved in some ways, less burdened and fearful in others but an innocence and sense of invincibility have been taken from me that I will never be able to recover from. I live with the constant fear of losing someone else close to me but I'm learning to depend upon myself. I don't think I'll ever like living life alone but it isn't as scary of a prospect as it once was.

For now my reality stands that I have yet to make it through a full week without falling apart better than the every day it once was. I still miss Tim, grieve for him every single day but no longer fantasize about what could have been. It hurts too much to imagine what our lives could be now. I'm just starting to dream again for the first time in a very very long time. I have yet to dream of him but I still hold out hope that it may one day happen. Losing Tim has broken me similarly to that of a shattered vase. You can glue it all back together but all of the pieces will never fit just right, a few tiny chips will always be missing from the whole and it loses a lot of its luster, plus it just takes a really long time to try to figure out where all of the dang pieces go and broken glass always seems to slice you up no matter how careful you are...