Tiny Eden

Friday, December 2, 2016

From Married to Widowed in a Heartbeat

As I stood in the shower this morning, memories flooded my mind.  I thought about how, 2 years ago, I stood in this same shower crying, sobbing, angry, hopeless.  Just before getting in the shower, I had packed a small suitcase so that I could spend the rest of my husband's life with him while he was in hospice.  I knew that the next time I walked into our home and the next time I took a shower in that tub, I was going to be a widow.  How does a person even prepare for that? 

Sam had been moved into hospice on the evening of December 1st after I made the decision that I needed to let his soul be free from his tired body and his marred lungs.  They told me we had 3 days before they would be discontinuing the machines that were keeping him alive.  That would bring me to Thursday and there was no telling how long it would be from there.  In my mind, I had 3 days to tell my love a lifetime full of I Love You's.  I went home on the nite of December 1st knowing that I would be returning the next day to spend the rest of Sam's life by his side. 

Several friends came by the following day to see their friend and say goodbye and share stories with me.  I watched The Price is Right with Sam, one of the shows that we thoroughly enjoyed together.  I wanted to savor every moment, every second.  I didn't want the day to end.  I was afraid that once everyone left, it would be so quiet and I would start to feel again.  I was afraid that he would die during the middle of the nite when I was alone with him - just the two of us.  As the day went on, Sam started to breathe over the ventilator quite a bit.  His nurse came in and commented that Sam was a fighter and even after the machines were turned off, he would probably fight for a while before he passed away.  This was devastating to me.  While I wanted to savor my love and cherish him and keep me with me for as long as I could, I couldn't bear the thought of him struggling.  That seemed cruel and inhumane.  I started to become very anxious and prayed that Sam could just be at peace. 

Sam's last visitor for the day stopped by.  Kim, Sam's respiratory therapist when he was younger.  She was there when Sam and I first met.  While we were sitting in the room, Sam kept breathing over the machine and I could not help but think that I had made a mistake.  Maybe he still had a ton of fight left in him?  Had I given up on him?  Was moving him to hospice a big mistake?  He seemed a little restless, so I got a cool cloth and started patting his forehead with one hand and I held his hand with my other hand.  I whispered to him to please just relax and close his eyes.  I reassured him that everything was going to be ok and to just rest.  He closed his eyes part of the way so I closed them the rest of the way for him and kissed his forehead and whispered in his ear that I loved him with all of my heart and soul - something that I always used to tell him.  As I kept holding his hand, I noticed that he became very pale.  Kim was still with us talking with Sam's mom.  I told them that I was concerned about how Sam looked and that I was going to get his nurse.  When Kim looked over, I knew she was thinking the same thing I was.  I went to the nurses station and they came in to assess Sam.  The doctor shortly joined us in the room and confirmed my biggest nitemare with the simple words of, "I am sorry for your loss."  It only seemed appropriate that the person who was there when I found my love was also there at the moment I lost my love.  I found comfort in knowing that I told Sam I loved him the moment he slipped from this earth. 

The person who introduced Sam and myself, Kirsten, came to the hospital shortly after he passed away to take our handprints.  Two canvases rest on my mantle, one with Sam and Owen's handprints and the other with mine and Sam's handprints.  When she introduced us, we never would have thought that years later, she would be taking our handprints. I will treasure these forever.

Sam's toiletries still sit on the bathroom sink.  His towel still hangs on the towel rack.  I remember I put out a fresh towel for him right after he went into the hospital so that when he came home after his transplant, it would be all nice and clean.  His clothes still hang in the closet and they still sit in the drawers.  The book he was reading about Victor Cruz still sits on his dresser with the bookmark keeping the page he read up to.  The day after he passed away, I called and had his oxygen compressor picked up.  I swiftly emptied his cabinet where he kept all of his medications and nebulizers.  My brother in law helped me carry the boxes down the basement so I did not have to look at them.  I wanted all of the medical supplies that littered my house to be gone.  The last thing I wanted was to give one more inch of our house to this disgusting, vile disease that ripped my husband out of my life.

5:30 pm on December 2, 2014.......Two years ago today.  My world changed in a heartbeat.  Not a day goes by without thinking of my amazing love. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Making Our Dream a Reality in Cardinals Cove

Sam and I had many dreams.  Dreams that we wanted to carry out together.  Dreams for each other.  Dreams for Owen.  One of Sam's biggest fears in his last year of life was that if he died, I would not be able to go on.  I wouldn't be able to get out of bed, spending my days crying.  And I have wanted to do that on so many days.  More days than imaginable.  But I can't.  That would mean that Sam's biggest nitemare would come true.  How could I do that to him?  How can I do that to Owen?  With every decision I make, I always think about what would Sam want me to do?  This played such a big part in choice that I made recently.

This summer, my family and I went on a vacation to Hilton Head Island that my mother in law had planned for us before she joined Sam as one of my guardian angels.  As the day drew closer for us to go, I started to have major anxiety.  So much so that the nite before we were to leave, I called my family and told them to go without me.  There were several factors that were causing this anxiety, but the largest was the fact that I did not want to go on a vacation to the beach without Sam.  We had gone several years ago to Orange Beach and it was an amazing trip.  We vowed that we would make it a point to go to the beach every year and that we would retire to the beach one day.  That was our last trip to the beach together. 

On the first day we arrived, it was a little rough for me.  Dana and I were at the condo with the kids while my parents went shopping and I was feeling really anxious.  As we were talking, Dana looked out onto the balcony and told me to look out there.  Perched on the railing was a cardinal.  He was bright red and was just staring at me.  Every time I see a cardinal, I am always convinced that it is Sam coming for a visit.  She told me it must be a sign that I was supposed to be on this trip.  Fast forward through the week and we ran into cardinals everywhere, including on the beach.  I felt so much at ease knowing that I was not there alone and my love had been with me all along.  The trip that I had been anxious about going on ended up making me the happiest that I had been in a long time - and it was pure happiness, not just a smile to pretend that I am happy.

While we were in Hilton Head, I jokingly said that I wanted to get an apartment there so I can be able to feel that happiness anytime I wanted to.  The more and more I thought about it, the more and more I wanted to make it a reality.  Speaking of reality, my parents are realists.  They are not dash your hopes and dreams realists, but "we are going to break it to you gently" kind of realists.  Much to my surprise when I was at work one day, my parents got me a sign that had "Beach House Rules" on it.  When they handed it to me, they told me it was for my new beach house because I needed to follow my dream - actually Sam's and my dream. 

Wasting no time, I contacted a real estate agent to get a feel for being able to turn this dream into a reality.  To my surprise, it was a whole lot more feasible than I thought it would be.  It did not take long for me to find the perfect place.  My dad and I took a trip down there to check it out and I fell in love immediately.  The next day, I started to get that "you are insane" feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I wanted to get a feel for how long the walk to the beach would be, so my dad dropped Owie and I off at the parking lot of the condo and we took a stroll.  Just as I was starting to question my decision, a cardinal flew onto the sidewalk in front of me and just stood there staring.  He was about 5 feet away from us and he was not budging.  He just stared.  It was my sign from Sam that this is what was supposed to be happening. 

Through out the process, I hit some bumps.  Every time I felt like I wanted to give up, I would ask Sam for a sign and within minutes, everything would work itself out.  This is how I knew that I was making the right decision.  I found my peace and I found my happy place.  I was really lucky that I found very patient people to work with me:  my realtor, mortgage lender, and closing attorney.  They made the process run very smoothly and worked really hard to keep me calm.

Every beach house has to have a name.  It didn't take long to come up with the perfect one:  Cardinals Cove.  I closed this past Thursday and I have zero regrets.  I am looking forward to making memories there with friends and family, but mostly with Owen.  It is the most beautiful place and it is the perfect fit for us.  My bedroom overlooks the tennis courts - I know that Sam would have been hopping the fence so he could play!  He was my tennis superstar!

We are 0.3 miles from the beach, less than 1/2 a mile from Coligny Plaza, and the condo came fully furnished!  And yes, I am taking rentals......

All Smiles!

We got the KEYS!!!

The previous owners left us a bicycle!
 Living Area


My Bedroom

Owie's Room

Complex Swimming Pool


"There is not waiting for happiness.  It's now or never.  I choose NOW"
~Zia Holte

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The day I started to doubt my faith.......

I made the mistake the other day of commenting on how a person's religion should not be questioned based on their political views through a Facebook post. Their faithfulness and devotion should not be questioned because to me, that is a personal attack. I was given several lectures from people commenting, to basically sum it up, that I was not a real Catholic, I am surrounded by wolves in sheep's clothing, I obviously have something to atone for, and I, among others that I am close to are making a mockery of the Catholic religion due to my political views - a priest even chimed in with some comments. I stopped reading the comments because I could see where this was leading. I am still getting notifications that people are commenting, yet I am not checking them because they are only making me not want to claim myself as being a Catholic.  If that is what being a true Catholic is about, I don't know if I want any part of it.  I was raised by a Catholic school teacher who has dedicated more than 38 years to her students.  I spent WAY more time than the average child and teenager surrounded by those who were positive role models and had hearts full of love and respect from others.  If someone were to ask me what the best thing I got out of my Catholic school education, it would be that I was taught to love, care, support, and accept those around me.  I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the true, actual meaning of being a Catholic was.  Boy, was I wrong!
One of the topics that was brought up was the fact that the use of any contraceptives are a form of intrinsic evil.  I wanted to learn more so I did my research.  I found an article that laid out what is considered to be acceptable in the Catholic church and what isn't.  Here is what I found.  No form of contraception is acceptable because sex is supposed to be procreative.  A husband and wife are still, however, able to have sex if there are infertility issues or lack of fertility due to old age.  The pill can, however, be used if it is for health reasons, but the husband and wife are not to have any sort of physical relationship because this would be preventing the possibility of a woman becoming pregnant due to the use of the pill.  This is the part that I read that really made me wonder about the religion I belong to.  Because I am a widow, I am "allowed" to get married again (please keep in mind that this is not something that is happening).  When I had Owie, I suffered from post partum heart failure.  My cardiologist has told me that getting pregnant again is not an option because there is a rather significant possibility that it could kill me.  Point taken.  However, even if I got remarried and getting pregnant could kill me, no form of contraception is allowable - not even barrier methods - because that is an intrinsic evil.  Natural Family Planning would be my only option and is not always completely reliable, especially for someone who has never had regular cycles.  Therefore, I would have to risk getting pregnant in order to remain within the church's guidelines and follow through with the pregnancy because the life of the infant I am carrying is more important than mine.  The conclusion would be for Owie to be left without a mother AND a father.  Something that could be completely preventable, but yet the Catholic church doesn't see it that way.  I have already started to see the effects on Owie due to Sam's passing.  They are getting more and more prevalent as the days go by with him asking almost daily where his daddy is, when can he see him, when can he call him, etc.  It is heart wrenching.  Beyond heart wrenching.  Imagine your worst pain and multiply that.
Where does this leave me?  Doubting my religion and doubting the love that Jesus has for me and for others.  Why would the Catholic church want to see children left motherless?  What kind of God would want a child to be left an orphan because the use of an intrinsic evil is not allowed?  How would I ever be able to have that conversation with a possible spouse - Sorry, we cannot have a physical relationship because I might die if I get pregnant and the Catholic church says that I cannot use condoms.  Why do I want to be a part of a religion that seems to be so judgmental?  Is it that those who are making me feel badly have never been in this predicament?  Surely not or they would have some compassion.
I always thought I was a good Catholic until now.  I never realized how in the eyes of the church, I am simply a wolf.  When I see homeless people, I go to the drive thru and buy them a meal.  I give them restaurant leftovers provided that I have not already started to eat them.  When I have leftover fruit and granola bars or other snacks in my lunch bag, I give them to those who need it.  Sam had a love for animals and St. Francis so donating money and collecting items for animal shelters brings me great joy knowing that I am carrying out the wishes of Sam and the teachings of St. Francis.  Am I a sinner, though?  Absolutely.  We all are.  But I did not realize that my sins were enough to put me in a category of making a mockery out of the Catholic church.
I am not going to say that my faith was not shaken when my love gained his angel wings, however, I never once doubted the love that God has for me......until now.  My life is not as important in the eyes of the Catholic church and this makes me sad and want to pull away from my beliefs.  I have love and respect for my fellow creatures of the earth:  no matter your race, religion, sexuality, financial status, education.....whatever!  We all share this earth and deserve respect.  I don't care what goes on in other people's bedrooms as long as they are in a loving, consensual relationship.  Why should they care so much about what is going on in mine?   Apparently, because I don't speak out against what the Catholic church considers to be "intrinsic evils", I am just as guilty in their eyes as performing these "intrinsic evils". 
There is too much love in my heart for judgment.  If pointing out the flaws and sins of others is what being a Catholic is all about, then I can't justify being a sheep.  In an attempt to shame me and lecture me, my eyes have been opened.  My heart is hurting.

Monday, May 23, 2016

If I knew then what I know now.....

Dearest Marisa,

            If I knew then what I know now, I would tell you to make Sam's favorite: eggplant parmesan at least every other week.  Stop worrying about if the house is clean enough and snuggle on the couch next to Sam instead.  Put your pride aside, stop sulking in your bedroom because you are pissed off about something that does not even matter - go downstairs, say you are sorry for getting angry, and accept that 6 second hug that Sam loved to give.  Get off your phone, stop looking at Facebook, Pinterest, or whatever other stupid thing you are looking at.  When Sam asks you why you are on your phone so much after work, don't answer that it is because you have spent your whole shift at work talking and zipping around and you just want to veg.  Put your phone down and talk with him.  When Sam says you should wear your bikini to the pool because you are beautiful and you have a great shape, don't laugh at him.  Tell him thank you and wear it.  Stop groaning when he asks you to make his Scandi shakes and do it, knowing that you are helping him.   Quit saying you aren't in the mood.  That excuse is getting too old just because you don't feel comfortable in your own skin.  Go to the movies and have fun, even the scary ones.  Except SAW 1 through 8,000.  Those are ridiculous and you definitely do not have to watch them.  Don't put your hair in a ponytail or bun every. single. day.  It does not matter that your hair isn't perfectly straight.  Sam loved it when I first woke up in the morning and it was au naturale.  I would look past my headache on Labor Day 2014 and we would take Owie to the pool instead of telling Sam that by next summer he would have his new lungs and we would be able to splash around.  I would pick up on how upset he was about that and put my bikini on and go.  Put the freaking heels on.  He just wants to see you in something other than sneakers.  Pack a lunch, drive to Sam's job and meet him for lunch.  It made his heart happy to spend his lunch hour with you.  Even though Owen's first Christmas did not go as planned, tell him it was the best Christmas ever just because you got to spend it with the 2 most important people in your life.  Don't tell him it was the worst ever.  Instead of telling him you love him 50 times a day, tell him 51 times a day.  Fight for him, encourage him, hug him, and kiss him even more.  Take the time to comfort him and let him be scared instead of him always having to comfort you.  Live in the moment.  Live in each and every moment no matter how big or small.  Who cares what the lawn looks like?  Stop throwing a hissy fit because the mower won't start.......ever.  Go on more vacations.    Make bacon cheese toast, crepes, waffles, and bagel chips.  Sam loves your bagel chips and he asks for them all the time.  Quit telling him that they are too hard to make.  Make them and he will be so surprised when he gets home from work.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Have that second glass of wine or that 3rd Bloody Mary.  Close your eyes and absorb the feeling of every hug, every kiss, every touch.  Memorize the sweet sound of his voice and cherish each I love you.  Don't be afraid to show him just how much love you have in your heart.  Stop waiting.  Just do what your heart tells you today and every day until December 2, 2014.

Everything is not ok, great, grand, perfect, and whatever else you try to make people think it is.  Tell people that you hurt and that you don't feel like doing something.  When you are lonely, scared, and feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you, call someone and let them know you need a shoulder.  Don't hide your feelings and suppress your grief.  Your reality won't hit and your grief won't strike until May 2016, but others will think you should be finishing up your grieving process, not just starting it.  It is ok for Owen to see you cry.  Quit saying that feelings are overrated just because you are afraid to show others that you have them.  You do.  They are very real.  And you need to acknowledge them.

Love yourself.  Take care of yourself.  You are going to have a bumpy road.  Keep taking it one day at a time.  You can do it and you will do it.  If I knew then what I know now.........

Love always,