Thursday, April 25, 2013

Staying Positive....Or Trying To

It is not always easy to stay positive but I have to say that for the most part I am. Yes, I wish things were different, but I think everyone must feel that from time to time, if not all the time. But I suppose it is what you do with what you have that matters. And I have a lot to be positive and happy about.  I am trying to see more of what I have rather than what I don't have. Life has a way of changing the game pieces around and before you know it, what you had is gone, and what was missing is suddenly there. So once again the day at a time.

I am trying to stay positive with this current place I find myself in. Basically, alone. Of course there are friends and family around, and I have my horse and other activities that keep me busy and happy. But in the end, I am without someone special in my life....and I love having someone special. I find myself lately going back to that place before I met Kenny. Back when I was alone, and I was so enjoying it. I had gone straight from my mom and dad's house into my first marriage and by the time I had moved out of that marriage I was 50 years old. For the very first time in my life, I was living alone. And I loved it. I needed it. I remember one night at 8:30 feeling restless and decided to go to Target. Driving there, it felt, "I get to do this! I get to do what I want, when I want to!" More importantly I felt like I could be completely myself,  and I knew I was going to be able to do that for the rest of my life. So even though there was a residual pain from the divorce, there was also a great sense of freedom. A freedom to be me, and I was loving it.

So my mind lately has been going back to that time. A time when I lived alone and loved it. When I was more than OK being without a partner. When I knew I had choices before me and I was in no hurry to make them. It was nine months into this new reality when Kenny walked into my life. I was working as a hostess at the Rio Grill and it was close to the end of the night. I remember exactly what I was wearing.... and I remember exactly what he was wearing too. I was standing at the end of the bar as he came in and as he was sitting down on a bar stool he looked up and smiled at me. If there was ever a time in my life that my heart melted by just one look, I would have to say it happened to me then.  From  that point on we were pretty much inseparable and I recall one week later as we were driving to Point Lobos for a walk that he said he would like us to be exclusive. As much as I liked this guy, I remember balking at that idea. I didn't want to be with anyone other than him, but I had just come out of a 30 year marriage, and like I said, I was enjoying this new freedom. I wasn't sure I was ready to get tied up again.  But with a little more conversation on the matter, we agreed to be exclusive and of course that remained true for us until the day he died.

So alone again.... and certainly not so excited about it as I was before I met Kenny. But I am trying to look at this with positive eyes. Once again I have choices before me, and once again, I am in no hurry to make them. I am different, much different than I was when I first lived alone. I have settled into a better place of knowing who I am and what I want. That new found freedom I was experiencing has been mine for some time now and never left me even when Kenny was in my life. I was always free to be me with him. So I am hopeful, and happy for the most part, and enjoying this place in life I am in. And who knows if and when, someday, someone, might just look up again and give me a smile that melts me like before..... I have to say, I hope so.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's Been Awhile.....

It's been awhile since I last posted. I thought maybe I was just done with this blog. A lot has happened in these past few months which I don't want to go back and explain, so I will start with where things are   now.

I finally did something that I kept putting off, thinking I really didn't need it....that I was doing fine. I joined a Hospice grief group and I am now in it's sixth week. I am glad I did it because I really wasn't fine and I really did need it.  I think I need all the help I can get because I lost something pretty great and it still burns a huge hole in my heart. My grieving actually began the day Kenny was diagnosed. There is no hope with ALS so we knew from the beginning where this road was going. On that day the doctor also gave him a timeline, a year, maybe a year and a half. Kenny passed the year mark by 10 days. Then gone. So it has been close to three years now that the grief process began with me, and there have been many times throughout that time that I really thought I was coming out the other side. "I'm lighter! Feeling my old spark again! Hope! A beautiful life ahead!"..... but then something would grab hold of me and drag me back down again. It would be at those times that the thought would come to me that I should get a little help. Join a grief group or something. But then the thought would pass as good days always come too, and I would think, "naw....I'll be ok". So, when I was back in the clutches of grief, I vowed I was going to join this group. And even when the good days came I didn't back out of it and I am glad I didn't. It might sound weird to say, but it is good to be in the presence of others that are grieving. To talk about the one you lost. To cry before others and to gain a better understanding of what I am going through and to know I am ok with that.

I have a routine in the curtains, feed cat, get coffee etc. By the time I get my coffee I have actually been out of bed for a total of about 5 minutes. There was a time several weeks ago I realized that every morning, before I could even get my coffee, I had already cried. Often the tears would come as I was waking up before I could even get out of bed.....everyday.....for months and months. This was my reality....this was my loss. But I realized about a week ago that I was getting coffee and no tears. Wow!

There is a hope slowly brewing. I am almost afraid to give in to it for fear it will disappoint. But I will take one day at a time and see where this leads me. I am in no hurry....I will let this play out and take the time that is needed.  Like I have said before, this was a pretty great and wonderful thing I lost, and a gapping wound needs time and patience to heal.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Kenny 1960 - 2011

Today is Kenny's birthday....he would have been 52. Such a young life, but as he would say, such a full life. He told me before he died that he felt he had lived a very wonderful life and had accomplished everything he had hoped to. The only thing he was still wanting was more time with me. Of course, that was not to be, but for the time we did have, we were both so grateful. Happy Birthday Kenny!





Monday, December 10, 2012

Dating..... I have been on a few dates lately. I have even met some really nice guys. But what happens to me, after I come back from a date, is I miss Kenny all the more. It almost seems like the nicer the guy, the harder the hurt. I can only think that must be so, because here I am, out with a truly great guy can't even come close to the person I had before.

I really do wonder if there could ever be another. I have always thought so, but at times I have my doubts. I remember talking with Kenny about this when we knew he was going to be leaving me. "I don't know if anyone could love me like you do," I told him through my tears. And he responded something to me that I will always remember and have always held close...."you can teach someone else to love you, just like you taught me to love you". He went on to explain that, yes, he loved me, but he was motivated to find out how to love me in the way I needed him to love me. Apparently I taught him well, for I was loved beyond anything I could have ever even hoped for.

Kenny was an amazing man and he left some pretty big shoes to fill, but I have often thought it will not be the person himself I will be comparing. Kenny is Kenny, and to compare anyone to him would be completely unfair and totally unproductive. If I choose to do that I may as well accept the fact that I will  live the rest of my life alone. No, what I will be comparing is how this person makes me feel. Kenny made me feel completely happy. That is what I know I need, and if it is not there in the same measure, then I will have to conclude that person is not for me. I cannot, will not, must not settle for less. It would not be fair to me nor to him. And another thought I have had lately, taking this a bit further, is not only do I need to feel loved, but do I feel I can give love in the same measure that I gave to Kenny. I felt completely and totally abandoned to him. No reservations, no holding back. I want and need that too....and the truth is that one may be the more difficult one to come by.

And so....I have another man on the line....waiting for my answer on a date number two. No....I don't want to go.....and I have to do what I hate to do and explain that I am not interested in taking this any farther. I suppose for now I need to conclude that I am just not ready.  I really do believe I will find love  again someday, but for now I think the choice has been made. As much as I may have thought I was ready to move on, I believe I will just have to linger here awhile longer.....

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Year and a Half

When Kenny was in the earlier stages of ALS we went to our local hospital for him to get fitted for a hand brace in the occupational therapy department. While he was getting fitted and chatting with the OT, another OT came over and introduced herself. She overheard us talking and told us that her husband, who also lives in Carmel Valley, also had ALS. He was in the latter stages she told us, and gave us her card....."if there is anything I can do to help". On other visits to the OT we would talk with Amy and got to know her situation more. And then one day we heard he died.

Kenny and I were driving around CV one sunny, Sunday afternoon, and noticed a large gathering of people barbecuing at the local park. We knew it was a gathering, a celebration really, honoring the life of this man we had never met, yet somehow felt a connection to. We stopped and immediately Amy came over to us. We almost felt like celebrities as she dragged us around and introduced us to all her friends, informing them that Kenny also had ALS. I felt a little awkward when we first got out of the car to join this group of people that we really didn't know, but when we left I knew that the time spent was important for Amy, and for us too.

I have spoken with Amy a few times since that day. I believe it was our last conversation, one that occurred not too long after Kenny died, that she said " took me about a year and a half, and then I was OK".  I remember at the time thinking that a year and a half seemed like a long time, but now that I am here I see that is not the case. It is strange really....because it seems like almost yesterday that he was here.... and yet it seems like a lifetime ago....and both at the same time.

I am not sure if I am "OK" but I would like to think I am. I still cry...yes. I have my moments. But they are moments now....not days. And I find that I am looking ahead more than I am looking behind. I probably shouldn't think this way, but I sometimes wonder if my best days are behind me. Perhaps that is so....but they were the greatest of days.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Life Saver

I have a life saver and his name is Red. I don't know how I would have gone through this past year without my Kenny had it not been for him. From the moment I got him I loved him. We bonded. We became a pair. He needed me and I most certainly needed him.  He knows the sound of my car and even before I park he is at the fence waiting for me, ears perked, ready to go.

I have had Red (aka: Red Hot Command) for just over a year. I board him at a trainers facility where I am in partial training. Although I rode as a kid and knew the basics, I was clueless in the kind of riding that I wanted to do, which is Ranch Versatility. Ranch Versatility is basically an event which shows off what a good ranch horse can do. This would include things like a trail course, reining patterns, boxing and cutting cows, roping....etc. Red is a finished reined cow horse, so he is really, really good with cows. I on the other hand am having to learn. I am getting braver. It can be intimidating running your horse along side a cow and keeping it from getting past you. "I'm afraid I am going to crash Red into the fence" (!!!) I would tell my trainer and she has assured me that he knows better....he can stop before that happens. So I am learning to let kick up the trust.

I've been in several competitions over the spring and summer and all in all feel we did really well as first timers. It has given me something to work at.... to focus do. These coming months will be spent getting ready for the next years events. There are a lot of things to work on in the days ahead and I will enjoy every minute of it. And most certainly I will love my horse and he will love me back. And that, in a nutshell, is all that really matters.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lehigh University

Last weekend I went to a dedication in Kenny's honor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he graduated from college. The college is old and grand and very much "East Coast".  Kenny was not only tremendously smart, but he was also highly athletic and played two varsity sports throughout and track and field. He broke the decathlon record back in 1983 and it has never been broken since. His Chi Psi brothers had decided to raise money for a new "Ken Jones Records Board" to be placed in the newly refurbished indoor track and field house....a board which would display all the records which Lehigh held in track and field.  The dedication and ribbon cutting of the new field house and the display of the new records board was last weekend, and I, along with another two hundred people attended. His family was there, fraternity brothers, friends, coaches, etc.

It was a crisp fall morning, and before the ribbon cutting a brunch was held in the outdoor pavilion. As I was walking up I felt the emotion rising, I felt the tears wanting to come full force. This was for "him". This gathering of people, this festive yet somewhat somber event. I found his mother in whom I had not seen since Kenny's memorial service although I talk with her often on the phone. His sister, niece, and friends that I had met before. It was good to be there in the company of people who knew my Kenny and loved him dearly. From there we went to the door of the new field house where I, along with his old coach and a fraternity brother cut the ribbon. We filed into the large building and gathered under the huge records board. There we had a short presentation and words were spoken about Kenny. Next to the board off to the side, was a smaller board with a picture of Kenny, date of birth and death, and a bio of his life. What an accomplished man he was.

From there we went to the early afternoon Lehigh football game and then on to Kenny's old frat house for a reception party. It was here that I mingled among his old fraternity brothers and their wives, most of whom I had met before. His sister had thrown a party with all of them just days before Kenny had to move into his wheelchair, so my first meeting with all of them was then. I loved hearing story after story about him that I had not heard before....still getting to know my Kenny. "It's not because he is gone from us that we say all these wonderful things about him....he was truly wonderful and humble even back then and we really, really loved him", was the gist of many conversations.

It was great being there. And the tearful emotion that overtook me in the beginning had moved on to a joyful, happy, and heartwarming emotion. I felt proud that I had known this man. And not only did I know him, but I was loved by him. This man with all his amazing accomplishments and great successes in life had chosen me to be his life partner. Someone said to me, and I can't remember who, that of all the great things Kenny had in this life, I was what mattered most to him. I actually really do believe that....because he told me so himself.