Monday, July 9, 2012


Wow! I was gone so long from blogging that the whole blogspot layout was reformatted!

So why the hiatus?

I don't have much to say. I have thoughtfully considered closing down this blog. But the permanent hole in my family, in my heart, and in my life is all documented here. And I hope and pray it isn't the end of the story.

I have come to realize some very important things. I have let Brian's death define me. Believe me, I tried not to. I tried very hard. The other day I when I was thinking about him, I realized it had been a while since my thoughts of him included his illness. That made me so happy. Because I never believed that his illness and death defined who HE was.

But yet...

I look in the mirror and it is who I AM. It is ok if you all don't see it, don't understand it, or don't agree with me. It is the truth. How sad is that? He would be really pissed at me about it too.

Recently, a widow friend wrote on her blog about the loss of intimacy in her life. Being touched. On purpose. It cut to the core of how I have become somewhat of a hollow shell in this respect. I don't get hugged. And I frankly don't want you to come up and hug me the next time you see me. It has been 4 years and almost 3 months, and I'm not sure it is something I want right now. It is just funny how affectionate my life was before.

Before the firestorm that stole the future I had planned, the future I wanted, the future that was mine at one time, full of being loved and cherished.

Thank God our son is so charming and affectionate like his father. He told me recently when the One Direction song Beautiful came on, that he wanted that to be my ringtone someday when he gets a cell phone. He is 8. I almost ran out and bought him a cell phone right then!

So lately my sadness has centered around the fact that I am trying to refocus my life. At one point in my life, I considered myself a real go-getter, full of motivation, initiative and enthusiasm. I am trying to find my way back to that. I have spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection, in hopes of finding whoever it is underneath this cloud of grief. Some hopes and dreams are starting to emerge, maybe even resurface.

So much of my life in the past 15 years has been full of turmoil, chaos, loss, sadness and loneliness. It is no wonder I find myself clinging to a routine...monotonous, boring, sometimes unproductive. That routine of my life is at least not chaotic, does not bring more sadness, and gives me comfort in that consistency.

But this also makes me complacent. I have battled an almost lackadaisical attitude. I have certain passions that have surfaced over the past few years, including the Ministry Center and Scrip. Those things nourish my soul and bring me happiness. And they also keep me busy enough not to get anything else done. Double-edged sword, maybe?

For most of the time Brian has been gone, but especially lately, I find myself selfishly missing him simply because he was my biggest cheerleader. I do surround myself constantly with other motivated and enthusiastic people, many of my family and friends. They are great cheerleaders too. But they aren't Brian. And he is the one I want. He is the one who knew how to push me, to stand by me, and to encourage me. I have been trying a lot lately to imagine what I think he would say to me. Right now, it is a huge struggle to pull that motivation from within myself, to look ahead to the future, to what I want with my family and professionally, what I just want in terms of following a dream and making a difference. I want to snuggle up on the couch with him and hear him tell me it will all be ok, or to hear him tell me I deserve better than what has presently become my life, or maybe even to tell me the hard stuff and remind me of my dreams, to remind me what I need to change, and to assure me he will help me along the way.

So sometimes when I think maybe the hole in my life is starting to slowly close, I step back and realize maybe the hole has become so large that it is now almost an unrecognizable hole, but instead now a part of the landscape of my life.

I haven't blogged for a while because I honestly feel like I don't have much else to say. I don't want to be a downer, and I don't want to sugar coat things either. Things really are good right now. The kids are getting old enough that all my responsibilities don't actually make me crazy anymore. Part of that is probably because I had to start letting some things go, and not try to be perfect at everything. Don't worry, I have accomplished that most definitely...the not being perfect part.

A lot of my silence is because I have learned how judgmental people can be. I am sure each of you has a thought on where I should be in my grieving process. So do I. The funny thing is, some days I look at myself and think, wow, I have come so far and I am getting used to the afterlife I was left with...all its many blessings and my beautiful children, family and friends. And other days I am taken back, sitting next to Brian's bed, whispering into his ear that he could go to Heaven now, that I would be ok, wondering if I would die right along with him and thinking my life is over. As hurtful as it is, I am mostly at a point of just getting a chuckle out of those who think they know how a widow should be or feel. It totally cracks me up. Our society is not equipped to deal with a 30-something widow. I don't want to hear how I will find someone someday. I already did and he is dead now. And so what if I don't want to ever find someone again? Or what if I don't feel like it now, but maybe someday I feel differently? Or I don't? Come on! I'm a Heflin girl, and I was raised to be very independent and strong-minded. I don't need a man to feel valued.

So why do I miss it so much? It is Brian. HE is who I miss. Oh sure, I miss being a couple, going places, making plans together. I miss someone asking me how my day was, and really wanting to know. I miss mattering to someone on an intimate relationship level. I think that is human nature. But HE is who I miss. His laugh, his smile, his genuine concern for me and our family, just HIM.

As I move forward...and I do feel myself moving forward...I am working to sort through what all I learned from Brian, what gifts he gave me and instilled in me, and how I can bring those out and celebrate a future. A new future. That doesn't look anything like what I thought it would look like. Honestly, right now it is a future I can't really even envision, or haven't even allowed myself to. All my future plans were shot all to hell, and it makes it hard to look ahead and want to imagine or hope.

But I am trying. And hey, that is quite a bit better than I was doing, even a year ago. I need some goals, some challenges, some dreams. I am reluctant to ask God for them, as He has sent me more than my share of challenges over the years. I am just trying to trust Him, to believe that He hasn't forgotten me, and to understand that maybe I haven't been listening, that maybe I am not seeing what His plans are for me because all I want to see is what is no longer possible.

You might have read before on my blog that Brian's favorite time of day was 11:11. He thought it was a lucky time, and the kids and I always watch for that time and make a wish. And you know what I always wish for? That my husband wasn't dead. Jeez. So the other day, randomly driving along, I noticed the car clock said 11:11. I started to wish my normal wish. And I was overcome with this feeling that it was time to stop wishing for this. It was time to stop even letting that be a part of my wishful thinking. Even in a fairytale life, I know straight up that it isn't happening. So I wished to win the lottery because dang!...I have a better chance of that wish coming true! But seriously.

Things have been different lately. I went to my dad's for Father's Day. I celebrated with Tye. But beyond that, Brian was not mentioned all day. I guess that is what happens after so many years. And maybe that is ok. I planned to go to the cemetery. But I didn't. I didn't want to think about him being dead, so I just celebrated the gift of Tye. For the first time since Brian died, I didn't feel quite as sad.

Until a few days later when Tye said why didn't we celebrate Father's Day for Daddy. How fair is that? I tried to blow past it to save myself the heartache. I sunk down into the blanket of silence surrounding the day, allowing myself the comfort of not facing it, yet taking away from a child who needs to always celebrate Father's Day. So it is a regret. And I won't do it that way next year, if anything because death is hard, and I'm not going to try to make it easier on myself at the expense of Tye's longing to be close to Brian. Sigh...
It is over halfway through summer. And I have really enjoyed myself. I have been less than productive, but I don't care. I don't know if that is a good thing or not. I so badly needed a break after a very long spring with hardly any time off. And I've had fun just being lazy, relaxing, and playing at the pool. But it is going to end. And my real life will be back with a vengeance. And I don't want to hate my life. I want to love it and enjoy it and cherish it. Something has to change, and I am trying to find the courage within myself to do just that. God, why is this so hard?

My kids are growing up before my eyes. I feel sad that I have been shrouded in grief for so many years, and that several years before that I was busy fighting melanoma. Love takes you down a path you don't always know, and I can only hope that whatever has been missed over the last years is made up for with my unconditional love for my children. They are amazing and so resilient, strong-willed and independent just as I am. I'm thankful that my grief has not totally screwed them up, even though I know dealing with me has probably been a challenge for them. Their love sustains me right now, and for that I am eternally blessed.

Thanks for checking in...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Rollercoaster Called Grief

It is yet again that time of year.  I have been to bed once tonight. And sleep is not coming fast enough for my mind. So I will blog.

I climbed into bed tonight and thought of 4 years ago on this night.  The house was quiet.  I stayed up all night, sitting with Brian and wondering what the coming day would bring. I prayed for him, for me, for our children and everyone who loves and cares for us.  I knew this would be so hard. I imagined it so many times, ran the scene through my head repeatedly so I would be ready.  But I wasn't ever really going to be ready. I sat at the edge of his hospital bed and thought how just 24 hours before, I didn't really think he would still be alive by this time the next day.  But as the day progressed, I knew Brian wasn't ready. See, today (the 20th) is Trace's birthday.  Brian's only sibling's first child.  And Brian would always want Trace to celebrate that day and not have the day forever marked by his death. 

As I sat there holding his hand, I said a lot of things I wanted to be sure I got to say. And yet there are so many other things I wish I would have said that night.  I could barely close my eyes that night, for fear of waking and finding him gone.  I had been there with him through the whole journey, and if God was going to make me give him back, I wanted to love him into the arms of the Lord.

Although I wouldn't want the suffering back, I would give anything to feel that peace right now, the peace I felt in the quiet of our home, as I held his hand and cherished the warmth of his touch, as I whispered into his ear sweet nothings, as I recalled each moment of our love story.

That was 2008.  So now, 4 years later, Brian has been dead for 1/2 of Tye's life. HALF!  Karis commented that I would have to be in my 60's for my mom to be gone 1/2 of my life.  Maybe that is why the last week has been so difficult.

Tomorrow, the Mass is for Brian.  Tye is saying the petition, and he is very excited. Forget fishing and playing catch with your dad, this is what my kid gets to do that is special about his daddy. I wish I could truly explain the anger I feel about that, but words could never express the pain I feel.

He is also taking a box of Brian's things to share with his class sometime tomorrow morning after Mass.  He has chosen Brian's wallet with his driver's license, a Jeff Gordon car, his Twinkie the Kid, and a few pictures, plus a hand-held game that Brian played while he was sick.  Looking for these items dug up some memories that I enjoyed thinking about, but causes the floodgates to open. Tye begged me to let him bring one of the big Gordon cards, but I wouldn't let it out of the house. He then begged to bring a George Brett baseball card. I finally settled with him that Daddy probably wouldn't let him bring it if he was here, so it wasn't leaving the house either.  As he was asking me repeatedly, he said...well, let me just ask Daddy. (then he paused and looked up).  This has been a tactic of his off and on over the years, and he usually responds with...yep, he said I can.  I looked at him and laughed and what was the answer?

And oh my God, I can't believe what he said.

Mom, I don't speak ghost so I don't know.

Lord, people must think we are total freaks with our grief. But THAT was funny!

We did get into my top dresser drawer and find Brian's MP3 player. It was an older one I got him when Tye was a baby, maybe for his birthday in 2005 or 06.  I put batteries in it and listened to a few songs.  Then I clicked on the menu and saw there were voice recordings.

My heart jumped. I forgot about this feature!  I prayed with all my might that Brian's voice would be on there.  My heart knew it wouldn't be.  There were 4 short recordings. I remember now that I did a few recordings so when he opened it, he would have a special message on there.  The 1st one I am saying I love you Brian, and I want you to always remember that. I smiled, but nearly passed out when I heard him in the background say something. What he says is irrelevant...he was asking something about the recording.  #2 is too short to hear anything. #3 is me trying to get Tye to say I love you Daddy, and he does...he says Daaa-EE.  Then he says I you you, which is how Tye always said I love you when he was little. I burst into tears. And sobbed.

Tye came rushing in and asked me what was wrong. I was trying to catch my breath, it was one of those hard cries.  Before I could answer, he said...I think it is always best to tell someone how you feel (as he patted me on the back and hugged me).  His daddy was always so loving and compassionate to me, and Tye reminds me so much of him.  I asked him if he wanted to hear, and he listened. And he smiled.  Oh God, how I wish I could have convinced Brian to do some recordings for Tye. It is a devastation surrounding Brian's death that I have yet to come to terms with.  That the opportunity was there, and he refused it.  I don't blame him, nor do I understand it.  I was right there on the journey, but could never really imagine what it would be like to know you were dying.  My counselor once told me that it wasn't my death to die, that I had to let him do it his way.  That was one of the hardest things to do.  I wanted the storybook movie version, where he makes videos for Tye to teach him how to shave, or writes letters to his wife and stashes them around the house for her to find after he is gone. In real life, death is not nearly as glamorous.

So March 21, 2008...THE day finally did come. My memories of this day are etched forever in my heart. I don't want to forget. But remembering is so very painful.  Please say a prayer for us today.  Tye has had a bit of a rough time lately, asking a lot of questions, more than usual.  I am in a different place with my grief than I was a year ago, and for that, I am very thankful. But all the progress in the world doesn't take away the memories of those moments, when the death of someone you love so deeply and so profoundly, becomes a reality.

Thanks for checking in on us.  As Tye reminded me tonight, he is always with me in my heart. I just wish Heaven didn't seem so far away.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dream on...

1400+ days of mourning the loss of a man who changed my life and showed me how to love.

Time has not healed any wounds. I particularly hate that adage.  I am sure it was written by someone who has never lost someone they truly loved.

Admittedly, time has given me space to begin to accept, because familiar with, adjust to, and deal with my loss.

But 1400+ days can seem like only 1 in an instant. 

The last several days and weeks have gone well.  I have been focused on being a better mother and a better person.  I have worked to lose weight (11+ pounds since Jan. 2), and find time for myself and my own prayer life. 

Yet when I crawled into bed last night, I suddenly felt so alone. More alone than I have felt in a long time.  The quiet of my bedroom reminded me of the feelings of loneliness, and the darkness made me wonder about the night my mom died in that very same room.  Needless to say, I was restless and had quite a time even getting to sleep.

So imagine my surprise when my alarm went off this morning.  I found myself wanting to scream to keep my dream alive, and as I opened my eyes, I realized it was Brian who was there.  As I stumbled to the kitchen counter and grabbed my cell phone, I burst into tears. I knew it was over, he wasn't really there.  I crawled back into bed and pulled the covers up to my chin.  I sqeezed my eyes shut, hoping to slip back into whatever it was I was dreaming about. I could see him standing across from me.  He had just arrived at our wedding, and he was running towards me.  I could feel the love and happiness I miss so much from when he was here with me.  But the dream was gone, just like he is gone forever.  I know our love lives on, and it creeps up and smacks me in the face every so often.

So my Monday started off rough.  I felt somewhat pleasantly surprised by his presence in my dream.  For those of you who have followed me, you know I never dream about him and have prayed and wished I would see him someday in my dreams.  But I started my day full of sadness that it was so short-lived.  It is amazing how a moment or a memory, a thought or a dream, can catapult you back to the starting line.  It is baffling to me how a grief can seemingly be growing and changing, then in a split second, feel as raw as the moment he lay dying in my arms.  I spent half the day trying to remember anything else about the dream, and some of the details are hazy, others too personal to share.

Maybe it was my subconscious, trying to help me find a way to get those bottled up emotions out. Maybe it was my way of being able to turn on the floodgates before the dam broke, allowing myself a few moments of grieving today.  On this Valentine's Eve, I am trying so desperately to remember the moments we spent together celebrating, and not our last when he had a bad seizure and my whole life flashed before me.  More often than not, the wonderful memories are starting to take over the sadness, but I can't say I'm a big fan of Valentine's Day.  The funny thing is, I keep reading and hearing every year about how others hate it because they wish they had someone in their life. I just wish I had my Brian.  I wonder if I will ever stop living in the past and longing for what I had.  To be loved as Brian loved me is something I miss the most. God help me survive this Valentine's Day, because Heaven sure seems like a long ways away right now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

9 Years

9 years.

And yet it seems like a lifetime ago. 

Or only yesterday.

9 years ago tonight I walked down the aisle and became Mrs. Brian Halley. 

Thank you, Brian, for showing me what a real marriage is, and how to love unconditionally.  Thank you for always encouraging me, and for believing in me.  Thank you for loving my girls and giving me Tye.

We alternated who was in charge of the anniversary plans.  I took care of the 1st anniversary, since he had planned a little honeymoon getaway.  We went to Cheaper by the Dozen, and I was almost 8 months preganant by then. We shopped for a carseat, then came back to get frozen custard at Sheridan's. Which was closed for the evening. So we ended up at Baskin Robbins. 

By my count, it should be my turn again. What I wouldn't give to go back to those days of pure love and innocence, a life not yet ravaged by cancer.  I would take him to the new Brazilian restaurant in St. Joe because I just have a feeling he would totally have loved it.  Whatever else we would do would hardly matter, just spending time together was so precious to us both. 

I almost went to the cemetery today. But I didn't. Not now. I went over the weekend because the weather was nice, and I hadn't gone for Christmas. My dad had his grave decorated so nice for the Christmas season.  I sat on his grave with the wind blowing and the sun shining. I still wanted to just crawl in there with him, just to stop feeling so sad.  So today, I didn't feel like going.  Tye was excited to repeatedly tell me Happy Anniversary, and when we sat down for dinner, he asked if this was an anniversary dinner. He ate for a while, then said he thought that his dad would have liked this dinner. Made me smile.

Time is passing so quickly. We celebrated 5 anniversaries together, and now I have celebrated 4 more without him. It isn't fair. It never is.  The years will continue to pass, and I will never forget how I felt the day I married him.

I miss you, Brian, now and always!