The Difference of a Year

If you had asked me last year, or even 6 months ago, what I thought this Christmas would look like you might think it was an alternate universe.

If you had asked me prior to the middle of July I would have told you about my plans to attend Christmas Eve mass, I would have told you about the amazing time I thought I would have with my future in-laws, I would tell you how amazing it is to wake up with the woman I loved in my arms, I would tell you about opening presents with them, I would tell you about the fun we had going back and forth as we opened presents and the easy banter. If you had asked me a year ago about this Christmas I would have told you of my excitement around celebrating the holiday, my last holiday as a federally defined single and all the emotions that came with that. If you had asked me, I would have told you how I would spend the day just trying to make her smile and laugh just because that was enough of a gift to me. I’d have told you about our lazy day before we had to split from everyone and be with my family. I’d have told you about our first official Christmas living together. I’d have told you a lot of things.

And if I had told you those things you would never believe me when I spoke of this year’s Christmas instead.

This year, this year for Christmas I no longer had her, I couldn’t hear her laugh, I couldn’t see her smile, and I didn’t wake up with her or spend it with her family while trying to avoid my own for as long as possible. No, instead I would tell you about being irritated, I would tell you that I was crushed by grief, so much so I spent most of the day reminding myself that I needed to breath and that I couldn’t break down crying, no matter how much I wanted to. No, I would tell you how I went to a Methodist Christmas Eve service and as nice as it was I just wanted to be at mass. I would tell you how I spent it with my own family, and while it’s nice, my heart longs for a different place, for different people. I’d tell you how I couldn’t even button my own shirt at first, I’d tell you about the pain that comes with wearing this vest and this watch. I’d tell you that I’m thankful my scars have healed well enough that I no longer look like the bride of Frankenstein. I’d tell you how much I miss the way things used to be, I’d tell you that my only wish for this Christmas was to have Kelsie back in any way that was possible.

I’d tell you how much difference a year makes.

Neuropsychology

The thing about neurology, that they don’t tell you about, is that they don’t always know what or how much of something can be impacted by trauma. They can guess based on what is presented to them, but they also don’t always know how to fix something that is “mental” as opposed to physical. I mean how can they understand that while I’m missing 10 days of my life following the accident, I can remember some people, I can remember some events, but there are so many more that I just can’t. So many more people and events that go back further than the 10 days that I’m missing. It was supposed to be “just” retrograde amnesia. It was only supposed to be those 10 days while my brain was trying to protect me from the hurt that was losing my soulmate, my other half, my future wife, the mother to our future children, the person I was supposed to grow old with, the only person in my life who was able to show me a life past the 27 years I had always envisioned for myself.

I can’t always comprehend what I’m missing and when. I don’t remember those I dated before Kelsie. It’s almost like my brain has rewired itself to protect me from more than just the pain of losing Kelsie. I know there were three people before Kelsie. I’m sure there were more, but I’ve only discovered three and yet I can’t remember anything about them, I barely recall their names, my emotions, my anything to do with them. Sometimes I wish I could. Not because I want the pain of the memories, but because I crave the normalcy. The normalcy that was my life with Kelsie.

To anyone who reads this, I am sorry. I am sorry that I can’t give you more than the nothing I have in my brain when it comes to memories. I’m sorry that I can’t remember you. I’m sorry for who I was and for what you thought I would become. I’m sorry that, probably by my own hand, you are not allowed to see the person who I have become. I’m sorry that I’ve grown enough to want to apologize for who I was and what I did. I can’t blame it on anything other than where I was at in my life and now I have changed, a lot. Maybe for better, maybe for worse, but I can’t judge myself.

You know, I played soccer for nearly 20 years of my life. I don’t remember it. I know I did because of the memories on my Facebook, I know I did because I can imagine it being true whenever I watch a match. I know deep in my heart I miss it, but I don’t remember the feeling of actually playing and I unfortunately never will again. I watch matches on tv and those where I graduated from. I can’t help but want to move on reflex when I see something happen and I know I could have made the save, I could have been better, but I will never have that chance again. I don’t know what hurts worse: not remembering people and events, or knowing that I’ll never have that adrenaline rush again, the adrenaline rush that can only come from making a post to post save, or saving a PK. I think they both suck. I miss the friendships, I miss the sense of serenity of being able to play and just block everything out for 90 minutes.

I miss the life I used to have. I miss not having a care in the world, I miss waking up with her in my arms, I miss eating dinner together every day, I miss having someone to talk to, someone who didn’t judge or force decisions, but rather having someone who would listen and understand that while in the moment nothing is okay, but the reassurance that in the end it would be. That we would work it out together and that I would come out stronger on the other side.

I’m sorry….

Thoughts and Questions

I think one of the hardest things about all of this is that anytime a thought or a question comes to my head I turn to the right and want to share it with you to get your input. I mean, fuck, I did it 15 times today at least.

I was flipping through Amazon movies today and I remembered that for some class I took this past spring I had to do a case study on Precious which was annoying in and of itself, but I also had to pay for it. Now it’s just included in Prime. I just wanted to look over at you and say “is this for fucking real?”

I was watching Pitch Perfect 3….again, I mean let’s be honest we both know that I watch musicals when I’m upset for any reason, I think your death is reason enough to be upset. Anyway I was watching it again today and I had this insane thought about the way in which Fat Amy kind of struts around and how it reminded me the way one of our coworkers walks. While it should have been funny all I could do was cry because I know it would have laughed you off our bed.

Then I turned on Manchester By the Sea in a last ditch effort to help me sleep, but I couldn’t remember if we ever finished this movie. I still don’t have the answer, but I know it was a movie we had wanted to see at Criterion. I was watching and I was trying to figure out a movie that we had seen, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Got to love brain damage and memory loss. All I could remember was that it was some movie, no idea who was in it, but that we had watched it and the main guy was getting rowdy with his friends late at night and his wife kicked them all out. He left the house to run to the store and the house caught fire with the kids inside. You’d have filled in the gaps for me, without even thinking about it, it would have become your mission to figure out the movie for me.

Then I started thinking about how somehow my shit luck this last half of the year turned into me getting the flu. The flu for the first time in 12 years. How last year when I got sick my parents were able to just order some stuff Target to help me get better. They didn’t have to worry about me being all alone, or that I didn’t have anyone to take care of me because you were here, you’d have held my hair and sweatshirt strings back as I endlessly puked into the trashcan, or that I couldn’t even drive myself to Patient First and had to find a ride to get me there.

Then though, then I thought about how all of this could have been different if we were never in that wreck, or if I had been able to shield you in some way. Well in that case I wouldn’t really be in this mess. I mean sure you’d have probably been in critical condition, maybe even have some permanent damage or something and me I’d have probably been in the exact same position I’m in now except maybe one less arm attached to my body. We’d have probably had to move back in with your Ma, which I don’t think either of us would have been upset about. I mean it’s 10 minutes from my rehab place, which I guess would have instead been our rehab place, but I still would have been the youngest there ya old fart. Everything would be so much different if you were just still here. If I could have done something to protect you from whatever even happened to you.

You know your ma told me not to have any guilt about surviving. I don’t remember telling her that I was, but I’m sure I did somewhere in the beginning. Some days it’s really hard not to feel guilty, I mean how do you not feel guilty when you feel almost slighted, like my fiancée died and I was sitting right next to her. I wasn’t circling a drain, closeish, but I wasn’t, but it almost feels like I was dropped into a fucking toilet and God forget to just pull the lever to flush.

I’ll unpack that another day.

How.

Sometimes I sit and think about how lucky I am to still be alive. Sometimes I think of all the things I would do just to have you back. You know I almost wish that I could trade all my injuries, maybe even for worse ones, just to have you back again.

How is it that I’m still alive and you, the light of so many of our worlds is gone? How is it that you died, and all I have is a scarred face, and a lot of broken bones? How did God, our God, think that it was time to call you home? How could he take you from me, from us and leave this massive hole inside all of us? How could God give us this and think we could handle it? He doesn’t give us any more than we can handle, but I think this time he might have made an error, but God doesn’t make errors, God doesn’t make mistakes. How do I live every day with this hole in my chest? How do I function every day with out being able to text you, call you, or come home to you every night?

I have all of these questions, but so far no answers.

How has it already been 4 months with out you and how in the hell am I still standing or functioning and not constantly curled in a ball crying for you? How, just how did this all happen? Better yet, why?

I miss you penguin.

All Souls

I usually don’t acknowledge this time of year. Let’s be real, I never really understood the magnitude of it. I never really got what All Souls Day and El Dia de los Muertos really meant or how to react to it. I never had a reason to. I never had a reason to understand until this year. Until I lost my other half, the person who helped me see a future for myself that didn’t end at age 27.

Maybe I’m wrong in my own understanding, but I don’t see today as a day of mourning. I see it as a day of celebration, a day to celebrate the lives of those we have lost. So today I celebrated. I honored Kelsie and the life she lived and the life that we built together. At the end of the day I didn’t do anything special though. No, I watched Kelsie’s favorite show: Grey’s Anatomy, I listened to some of her favorite music: Disturbed, In This Moment etc. I played with Atlas and I accepted my emotions for what they are. I embraced them, something I never do, but that Kelsie encouraged me to learn how to do. I cried, I laughed and I prayed. Oddly enough I think the most important thing I did today was eat. I usually only eat once a day if we are lucky, once every other day is my norm. I couldn’t think of any other way to honor Kelsie’s memory than by doing the things I know would have made her happy and proud of me; I ate, I embraced my emotions and I remembered as much as I could about my life with Kelsie.

Halloween

For the last two years, this year excluded, I spent my Halloween at my in-laws home handing out candy to the cutest little kids, I would be buried under a blanket sitting in a camping chair, in some half assed costume, I think last year I wore a Batman onesie, drinking ace pineapple cider and just laughing and talking my night away as sugar high kids came up for more. I don’t think I have a true hatred for Halloween, not in the same way I hate Christmas, Valentines Day, and my birthday. I don’t think that I ever will. Which, for me, is strange to say. Kelsie and her ma loved handing out candy and seeing all the little kids. I thought this year would be hard for me to take part in the festivities. I was wrong. Everything I did last night was for Kelsie. It got me thinking. I could allow her death to drive me to hate so many days, so many special days, but that’s not what she would want. We had a mutual hatred for Valentine’s Day, I hate Christmas, but should I really let her death define me? If I do, at the rate I am going there won’t be any days left in a year for me to enjoy. That, that I can honestly say would probably piss Kelsie off more than anything. All she ever wanted for anyone, me especially was to be happy, to enjoy my life and to find a purpose.

So last night, I didn’t let my grief dictate my path. I let myself be guided by her. I let myself celebrate and be happy for probably the first time in nearly 4 months and that was probably more painful than waking up and being told she was dead. Friends picked me up, friends bought me sushi and tots, friends let me wear a half assed costume, friends danced with me on the sidewalk to some awful Halloween music, friends made me feel normal being excited to see little kids dressed up in way too cute outfits, friends let me feel normal again, and friends talked to me like I was normal.

If you read further back in my posts, you know I went through some shit in high school, you know that as a teenager I learned a lot of things. One of the things that I think sticks out the most was that I learned how to cope. I learned so many coping skills for various situations. I never learned how to cope with grief, but I learned how to cope with wanting to die, with losing a part of myself I could never get back. I never learned how to cope with grief or loss, but I learned how to cope with losing a part of myself and that’s what I’m doing now. I’m coping with the loss of half of my being. So that’s what I’ll do, I’ll cope with having lost the future I envisioned, I’ll cope with having lost my other half, I’ll simply cope.

I think I’ve said this before to someone, but the best and only way I know how to do that is to live outside of myself. To rely on others to help pick me back up when I fall. I have to live my life the way Kelsie would have wanted. I’ll finish school, I’ll get my licensure, hell maybe I will get another degree, I’ll try to be happy, I’ll open my home to others, I won’t pass judgement for I know not what others are going through, I’ll simply live my life in her image and hope that when my time comes to join her again, I’ll be remembered for having lived my life and treating others the way Kelsie helped teach me to these last couple of years.

Nothing is the same, Kelsie is gone, but I don’t have to stop living. I can’t stop living. Maybe I haven’t grieved properly, maybe I haven’t grieved at all, but grieving comes at my pace and no one else’s. There will always be a Kelsie sized whole in my heart, in my bed and in my life, I can’t change that no matter how much I wish to.

In this life and in the next I’ll always be hers. One day we will get our happy ending. Until that day, I’ll miss her with every breath I take, every night I fall asleep alone and every time Atlas misses her momma.

Empty Spaces

I’ve been trying to be strong for everyone else through this, while I think they are trying to be strong for me. It’s an endless cycle. No one wants to talk about it, but it’s always on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

I always wondered how people move on after their other half dies. I don’t think I understand it. Today, I’m not even sure what’s going on today. In every breath that I take, every time my eyes lose focus, every time I go looking for something, I am just over come with sadness and grief.

Today I found a picture that Kelsie was trying to surprise me with. Well I guess maybe it’s more of a painting that she was filling in with color. Then I saw our white board, exclaiming our excitement to be going to California and wishing each other a happy anniversary. Then I thought about how nothing is right, nothing feels the same, and ultimately how empty and alone I am feeling.

I go to bed every night feeling that way. Crawling into our bed in my new home, without you curling into me so that we can both fall asleep. I think about how Atlas just doesn’t understand why she sees your mom and your brother, but she can’t see you or Juneau. She tries to help. She brings me a tennis ball whenever she thinks I’m getting a bit too lost in my head and forces me to play with her. All I can think about though is how everything has changed and not for the better. I think of the spaces you used to occupy and are now empty. I look to the kitchen and the couch when I come home out of pure habit, wishing, hoping and praying that you’ll be there and I am still in a nightmare of a coma. You’re not. All the spaces you once occupied are now empty.

My bed, the kitchen, the shower, Atlas’ momma, my fiancée, the space in my heart that I only opened for you, the person who took care of me when I was too busy to take care of myself. They are all empty spaces, never to be filled again.

They say that time heals all wounds, that time will make the pain of missing you fade. So far all I have found is that time is making it worse. Every day without hearing your voice, texting you, coming home to you, kissing you, hugging you, and going to bed with you is just that much harder.

I miss you more and more every day LP, and I’m still trying to figure everything out, but I just don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to heal my non physical wounds, I don’t know how to move forward, and I don’t know how to make the pain of missing you calm down, even just a little bit.

I’m like the version of Batman we saw between the Joker and Bane. I’m still here. I’m still functioning. I’m just not me. I’m just not strong. I’m just not whole.

I have to hope that our theory of life and death holds true. Reincarnation follows Newton’s laws. You have to be out there somewhere and one day I will find you again. Our souls will find each other. They found each other in this life and they will find each other in the next and any life there after.

Rest easy Robin and say hi to Zac, Grandma and Grandma. Until we meet again.

Coming Out

A little shake up from what I have been posting about recently, but in honor of National Coming Out Day yesterday I thought I would share my truth.

I haven’t thought about this in years. It’s been 9 years since I came out to my friends and maybe 6 since I came out publicly. I was 16 when I came out to my closest friends, it was the scariest thing I have ever felt that I had to do. Let me back up a little bit, I’ll tell you about my first coming out, not the nice pretty one I had when I was 16.

I first tried to come out to my parents when I was about 12. They told me no. Quite literally they both told me that no I wasn’t gay, I just hadn’t met the right person yet and I wasn’t able to make that decision so young. Let me explain something from a psychology background. Sexual orientation and gender identity or innate, you are born that way. You don’t choose anything. The only thing you decide or choose to do is share your truth. When I was 12 I didn’t have that understanding yet, DOMA was still a thing, LGBTQ hate crimes, not being able to marry, being cast aside, increased suicides amongst LGBTQ teens, and a whole host of other things that made LGBTQ persons seconds class citizens. I buried who I was, for years I pretended that I was someone I’m not. My parents didn’t kick me out, they didn’t tell me they didn’t love me, all in all my first coming out was not as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t what I needed. At 12 I had no understanding of psychology, I had no really understanding of biology, I had no really understanding of what it was that I was deciding to share other than it was my truth.

At 14 while living my lie, I did what any girl trying to be straight does; I got a boyfriend. Actually I had 3 in total until I came out. What I leave out is that I was sexually assaulted during this time period. That’s only important because while I was being treated for the PTSD that followed, many of the doctors tried to claim that I wasn’t gay. No they tried to claim that my assault made me think that I was, but I was really straight. Keep in mind I’ve understood that I was different since I was a little girl trying to fit in with all the boys.

At 16 I told my closest friends, they could not have cared less, only joking as long as I wasn’t interested in them, they still loved me for who I was then. I didn’t tell my parents this time. At 16 I was being harassed by schoolmates, I almost moved to a new part of the states because of it. I missed over 100 days of school between my junior and senior year, I still graduated an honors student, with IB certificates in 3 classes, as a varsity athlete. I was fortunate.

At 19 I had my first girlfriend, my father said that I might still find a nice man to settle down with. My mother went to pride that year.

At 25 I got engaged to the woman I loved more than anything in this world. My mother still goes to pride, my father joined her this year and helped coordinate an area wide group to march under his company’s banner. My aunt agreed to officiate the wedding, my dad was to give me away, my cousins were to be my best men, my mother in law helped us plan the whole thing. I bought us a honeymoon to Mexico, with plans for a second one to go to Harry Potter World, we picked a venue, color scheme, music and were working on menus. On July 8, 2018 we celebrated two years together, with plans to marry on March 1, 2019.

At 25 my fiancée died.

I never came out to my parents again officially after age 12. I think they and my whole family have finally come to the conclusion that as long as I am happy they are happy. I’ve never brought it up again. If they knew their rejection still crept into my mind they would hate themselves.

I don’t blame my parents. Looking back I think part of them reacted out of fear. That doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it explains it. Their actions since then work to smooth it over. They prove every day that they love and support me.

Took for Granted

I never really new what I had until it was (temporarily) taken from me. I’m in somewhat of a unique situation where I am considered disabled, but I have a light at the end of the tunnel that so many people I have met in these last 3 months don’t have. Let me explain. The rehabilitation center that I go to specializes in helping persons who have suffered from a stroke or being paralyzed due to one reason or another. These people don’t have the same light at the end of their tunnel as I do. Maybe one day they will get 80% function back into the effected body part(s), me I know that in a few months my arm will be back to near 100%, my leg the same if not better than before, and my brain well my brain who knows that could take years. I think it’s easy to look on it now and realize just how much I took for granted with my ableism. I mean I could drive, I could do mundane tasks, I didn’t have to worry about anything.

I really started thinking about this the other day; I was finally able to wash my hair, like for real with both hands instead of a modified one handed attempt. I can now get myself dressed, in clothes that fit, by myself. So many things that up to this point I was able to do without thinking twice. Now it takes more effort than I care to admit to, to complete any activity of daily living, complicated even more by the fact that I do not have an in home care giver.

I can look at this a hundred different ways and still recognize that I took my ableism for granted, but that doesn’t mean that I overlooked the difficulties that others face. Now though, I can empathize and sympathize because I feel it and it sucks. If this was my permanent new normal I’m sure that, like many of the people I have met in the last three months, I would adapt. I just don’t have to adapt long term. I’ve learned how to put my socks on, to pull up my pants, to button them one handed, to clasp my bra, to brush my teeth, to finally be able to shave, to wash my hair, drive a car, walk my dog, attempt to cook. I’ve relearned all of these things and the inner strength it took to do so surprised even me.

I think, I know, we take our ableism for granted every single day in even the most mundane tasks, but I also think that our society has such a stigma surrounding those that are impacted in various ways around their disabilities. We often only focus on the physical impacts or differences, we overlook the emotional or mental differences. We overlook the perseverance or resilience it takes some one to work towards overcoming these hurdles and make a new normal for themselves.

Did anyone else ever stop to think, maybe those who are perceived as disabled are actually the more abled. The ingenuity, the abstract thinking the grit and determination it takes to complete a task, it would put an able bodied person to shame, but that is simply because they don’t have to think about completing a task, they don’t have to think about doing a different way, or coming up with a new way to get something done.

My accident may have left it’s permanent scars, but the strength and resilience it has helped me develop is second to none. I never want to go through this pain again, but now I know that I can, and I will come out stronger on the other side because of it.