The Question

I woke up this morning to an awkward question in my messages. Someone finally asked the question of how do I feel since I’m still here and my wife is not. The only thing that surprised me about this question is that someone waited this long to ask it.

I get it. We’ve so romanticized the idea of married couples who die within hours, days, weeks of each other that when it doesn’t happen, part of us starts to think, or wants to believe, that maybe the survivor didn’t love the other enough.

I can assure you, in this case, that’s not true. If the intent of the question is to make me feel survivor’s guilt, you’re 6 months too late. I ask myself that very question every single day.

If the intent was to try and ask if I did enough to save her or prevent her death in December, again, I ask myself that very question multiple times a day. In fact, it’s the very central question of the nightmares that keep me from getting normal sleep every night.

Look, it’s as awkward for me to be around friends and family since her passing as it is for you to be around me. I see the looks, or looks away. I hear the rushed conversation because you don’t want to be there and want to get away quickly. I know that my very presence is a stark reminder of what we’ve all lost.

I don’t know why I’m still here and my wife is not. And, yes, I do feel survivor’s guilt about it every day. And, if you really want to know what it feels like, really understand the descriptions of PTSD. Mine is not from combat, but the trauma of loosing a spouse triggered PTSD for me.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

In the philosophy of the absurd, there is a fundamental principle called the Law of Unintended Consequences. This principle holds that people become so focused on one immediate and/or personal concern and don’t consider other possible outcomes of their actions.

I address this in the aftermath of Roe v Wade being overturned because I fear we’re about to see the LoUC operate on steroids in the coming months and years.

Alito’s opinion holds that because “abortion” isn’t spelled out in the Constitution, it’s not a Right. Unfortunately for us, there are a lot of things the Constitution doesn’t spell out. Based on his opinion, a few Rights no longer exist. There is no right to medical care. There is also no right to marriage, for anyone. There is no right to housing, unless you are the property owner on which the house resides. There is no right to police or firefighter support. And we can add many more, but I think this secures the point.

The short version of this would be that the states would decide which, if any, of these “rights” you would retain.

Some will say, but wait marriage isn’t affected, but you would be wrong. In Thomas’s opinion, he mentions that the SCOTUS decisions that secure gay marriage, birth control, and mixed-race relationships and marriages should be revisited. What’s that? Oh, yes, he conveniently left out that last one. I’m sure it was just an oversight on his part because his opinion does suggest any SCOTUS decisions granting rights not specifically spelled out in the Constitution should be left to the states to decide.

And for those questioning medical treatment, a decision released earlier that week held that your medical insurance doesn’t have to pay your bills. This means it would be on you and the hospital to decide how to proceed. Since many hospitals already require payment up front for those without medical insurance or procedures not covered by insurance, you would have to pay before hand for anything not affecting life, limb, or eyesight. Hang on, rereading the Constitution, limb and eyesight aren’t mentioned so an emergency would only be something that could cost your life.

So, in the aftermath of the Roe v Wade celebrating, I hope the supporters of the decision are adjusting their personal budgets and savings plans because shit’s about to get expensive. On second thought, your savings plan better be based on a mattress plan versus a bank plan since the bank isn’t Constitutionally obligated to save your money.

And for the “Christian” nationalists that are celebrating the Roe v Wade overturning, be sure to circle this day on your calendar. Other Christians should too. Because when actual Christian persecution comes to the U.S. this is the date of the first domino falling that leads down that path.

A Different Grief Observed

Since part of my focus and plan for this blog is to highlight mental health issues and how they can be dealt with, I decided that I should probably include here some of the posts I’ve been sharing with family and friends as I deal with grief.

December 23, 2021:

I’m still trying to get my mind around today even as I write this.

For those who have not yet heard, my wife passed away this morning at the hospital. At some point between the EMTs picking her up from the house and the arrival at the hospital, she stopped breathing and her heart gave out. The ER staff did an incredible job and did everything they could.

To say I’m devastated is an understatement. From the moment I met her, I knew I didn’t want to live my life without her. Fortunately, we were able to share 20 years of marriage and teamwork. Unfortunately, now I have to figure out how to do just that and live without her. I still want this to just be a nightmare that I’ll wake up from.

I’m still gathering the to-do list and paperwork for specifics such as celebration of life, etc. I will update everyone as soon as I know something.

January 20, 2022:

Haven’t really done an update since my wife’s Celebration of Life. I apologize for that, I’m still getting used to the things that have changed around here. Since today marks the 4th week since her passing, here’s an update of where things are at for me.

Last week I received her remains from the funeral home. The only thing I’ve accomplished with those is to add some to a vial that I wear on my dogtag chain. Monday I received the copies of her death certificate that I ordered directly from the state. I’ve gotten the insurance packet sent in, an appointment with SSA, and am currently checking for any other paperwork issues that needed the dc to resolve.

Butterfinger has a Original Snuggle Puppy toy with a heartbeat that she’s been carrying around with her since I got it for her last week. It seems to be helping her with my wife’s absence, even though there are still times when she checks both kitchen doors when she hears a sound from that direction of the house.

As for me, I’m somewhat sleeping normal again. My appetite is still all over the place and I still find myself eating at home solely to get Butterfinger to eat. I’m still catching up basic housework and related things. It’s hard to stay up to date on that kind of stuff when very few things are normal routine.

I’ve been reading a couple of Philip Yancey books and CS Lewis’ Grief Observed to get me through the darker days. I’m about ready, I think, to start reading from the novel stack that’s been building up at the end of the year.

I caught up with The Book of Boba Fett today and finished The Expanse tv show over the weekend so I’m slowly getting things “normalized” as much as they can be. A couple of lego projects have kept me doing hands-on builds.

There are still days where her absence and the accompanying silence is hard to accept. There are still days that I wish I could rewind to December 22. But somehow I’m still here, still relatively sane, and still slowly moving forward.

February 24, 2022:

Yesterday was the 23rd, making it the two month mark since I lost my wife. Here’s an update.

I was able to get the life insurance situation resolved by going directly to the insurance company and bypassing the employer. They were great helping me get everything resolved and the payment in place.

The life insurance payment came through last week. All of the medical bills and funeral expense loans that I currently have are paid. I know there’s still some ER doctor bills that I haven’t seen yet. But am ready for those when they do appear.

Since Saturday, I’ve actually found myself in a calmer place. There are still moments when I miss her and there are moments among those that are harder than others. But, the nightmares seem to have stopped. I still second guess myself over the events during the month of December, but it’s not such that I can’t function.

Butterfinger still has times when she reacts to noises from the backdoors, but she doesn’t seem to be searching as much. I think she’s starting to accept that it’s just the two of us now. She’s eating normally now and she’s become the enforcer if I don’t get up right when the alarm goes off.

Routines are pretty much in place. Some are more structural than others just because the nature of my job and work week requires a fluctuating schedule.

I’m still procrastinating going through her stuff. It’s the item at the top of my to-do list, but the item on the list that I’ve done the least with. Of course, this is the one I’ve got to get done the soonest for a variety of reasons.

However, I’ve been working on art projects and slowly reengaging with with model kits. I think I’m almost ready to get back to work on a kit I started a while back and never finished.

March 23, 2022:

An update since today marks three months since I’ve lost my wife. I still can’t believe she’s gone. I still can’t believe it’s been three months. And yet, most days it’s like she’s been gone so much longer.

In some ways, things are progressing and feel like healing of some sort is taking place. In other ways, it feels like I’m taking three steps back for every step forward. Cycles of depression start up and stop off. Granted a lot of that is a combination of things including inconsistent work days, sleep patterns falling back into including nightmares again, and just trying to keep up with day-to-day/week-to-week tasks.

I’ve gotten back to where I’m doing artwork a little more consistent, reading a little more on schedule, and pursuing a new computer game. I’ve fallen behind in general housework and spend more time avoiding going through anything that’s boxed up, in the basement, or in her craftroom. I did take some time to try and reorganize a couple of my work areas at home, but usually end up procrastinating that too, so it’s about halfway where it should be by now.

On a more positive note, I’m starting to inquire about getting a couple of her quilts finished. She’s got a couple she wanted to finish and I’d really like to see them completed. After that, not sure about the rest of her quilting stuff.

Between brain fog and other things, I’m calling this updated.

March 25, 2022:

Not sure why this thought popped up today instead of when I did an update two days ago but . . .

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis points out that when we’re mourning the loss of a marriage partner, we’re not just mourning the loss of the person. We’re also mourning the loss of the plans, hopes, and dreams that we shared with that partner.

I definitely understand this thought better today than I did before.

April 23, 2022:

Today is the 4 month mark of the day I lost my wife.

Butterfinger and I are doing well. We both have good days and bad days. Butterfinger had a bad day Thursday. When I got up she acted sad and didn’t want to do anything. I sat with her for a bit, jumped in the shower to get ready for work, and realized that it was an anniversary window for us and she was just missing her. (Again, don’t tell me animals don’t experience emotions.) I got Butterfinger a special treat meal that night and she’s been okay since.

As for myself, today I made a trip that normally would have been a trip taken with my wife. It was my first time making a trip like that since the Celebration of Life in December. It felt weird in some ways. Just her absence was so loud. I kept seeing and noticing things I would have pointed out to her. I still noticed, just didn’t have her to share them with this time.

If you’ve followed this Fb page, or some of my other project pages, you’ve seen that I’m back to painting miniatures, building model kits, and other projects that I would normally have been working on. I’m very rusty in some/ most areas, but I’m staying at it and enjoying it again.

Some of the decision making stuff is done. I have decided to head back to Georgia to restart/ reboot/ whatever you want to call it. I will stay here in Hutchinson, Kansas for another year since it’ll give me more time to put money aside for the move and since I still have a house full of stuff I need to get sorted. Having a deadline will motivate me to procrastinate less and get things done that I keep avoiding.

Work is going well. I’m still in the one position and have gotten word on an opportunity that I may try for. It won’t change the move plan, but would help with everything towards that.

Otherwise, I’m just trying to stay busy, find distractions, and figure out this new normal.

P.S. If you’re tired of me linking this song, I apologize, but it perfectly describes how things have felt over the past 4 months.

May 22, 2022:

Tomorrow will mark the 5th month without my wife. We’re doing as well as we could be.

Butterfinger still has days where I wake up in the morning or come home from work and find her curled up next to my wife’s side of the bed. So, I know there are days she’s missing her too.

This month has been an off month for me. I think a lot of it has to do with it being the one year mark since we packed up our stuff and left St Louis for Hutchinson, Kansas. Seems like just about everyday a Facebook memory, or some other one year ago memory or picture will pop up and constantly remind me she’s not here. Add to that another couple of insurance/ post death things I either forgot about or didn’t know about showing up in the mail and it’s still a raw wound.

Also, I think there’s just something screwy with mental health this month as quite a few of my friends who share similar mental health struggles are feeling particularly targeted this month.

For the most part, I’m still adjusting to living alone. I’m still struggling to get a normal sleep pattern or cycle going or keeping it going on the rare occasion when it seems to settle down. The plus side, if there is a plus side, is that I’m getting a lot of reading done and watching or re-watching movies I haven’t seen at all or in a while. (Battleship holds up surprisingly well and is a much better movie in retrospect than I thought the first time.) Caffeine, sugar, and nicotine allow for some semblance of functionality on the days after my sleep is limited to 2 or 4 hours. So, some things I’ve picked up in the military still help.

In some areas, I keep finding myself returning to old habits. Good days still lead me to overcommit and over plan and then regret those commitments and plans when bad days take over. I’m still working on hobbies and projects, but sometimes find myself just doing nothing out of not finding the energy. Mindfulness exercises I picked up from depression therapy help keep most of the darker demons at bay, but other times the silence and absence are just loud.

Bear with me. I’m still learning and figuring this stuff out.

Back at Hobby Painting

Happy Easter!

I’ve spent most of my day getting back in the swing of painting miniatures. It’s been a while, but I seem to be catching back up.

These are roughly a week apart. Painting on my days off when they come around. Next colors are decided and will start soon.

The repainted Boba Fett is a rough draft for a future project. I like the way these colors look together. Will add a black jump suit layer next paint session to get an initial look to see if the final project colors work.