He’s Not Coming Back

My husband died a little over 3 years ago. 1,195 days ago to be exact.  I know there is no timeline on grief. I have not been grieving this entire time, at least not visibly (and not consciously).  I actually started dating about a year after he died. It didn’t really work out because I wasn’t ready (and frankly neither was the recently divorced man I was dating).  After that I decided to figure out who I was and what I liked to do. I hung out with friends and did a lot of karaoke! I was going through some issues with my daughter, and so I was still up and down, but for the most part I was actually happy.  I tried dating again, with the warning to the man that wanted to date me that I wasn’t sure I was ready for a long term relationship or if I ever would be. He was willing to give it a try anyway, and we were in a relationship for over a year. It was amazing, until I realized that he was making plans based on me being around for a long time… and I just couldn’t commit to that.  Besides, he loves to camp and fish and I would rather go out and sing karaoke and go dancing and attend spiritual gatherings and classes and workshops, etc. We are still very good friends and I will always love him and treasure what he was for me at the time that I needed it.

Single again, I had a lot more time alone with myself – which is great for self reflection.  I’ve been doing a lot of personal development work, a lot of learning and growing personally and have made some amazing new friends and connections through women’s groups and volunteering.  I’m feeling very confident about my personal development. My career development is a different story. I have made some amazing progress, but I’m not where I would like to be. I have not had the desire or motivation to complete some of the courses I signed up for that will help me with my coaching.  I’ve also noticed that where I used to be very good at memorizing and remembering information, now even when I am speaking I seem to need to use my notes more than I used to. I pretty much stopped holding Mary Kay parties when I realized I didn’t want to become a director, even though holding the parties and teaching skin care is something I love doing.  It’s like I’ve been in a holding pattern and I’m not giving myself the clearance to take off.

The past few weeks I have been very tired, and have been sleeping a lot.  Since my husband passed there have always been times when I get really sad all of a sudden, and I know that these times will always come to me from time to time.  Typically they don’t last very long, I feel them and then let them pass. Lately, they’ve been coming more often and lasting longer. The other day I was talking with a friend who is also a coach specializing in grief counseling.  When she told me my tiredness and lack of motivation was grief. I was surprised but not surprised by that. It’s amazing how we can shove the obvious under the carpet so well.

Last night I attended a gallery with a psychic medium.  I put my wedding rings on a chain around my neck. I was really hoping that Scott would come through.  The gallery was amazing but I was one of the few people that did not get read. I had also woken up yesterday with a bad headache that would not go away.  It was like there was some kind of energy in the back of my head, my neck and spine that was stuck. My thoughts yesterday kept going back to why I was not pursuing the courses that I had signed up for, and fear that there was something that was stopping me from being able to learn and remember things.  Last night after the gallery I came home, threw up and went to bed.

This morning I woke up with a foggy head, but the pain in my neck and back was gone.  I was thinking about the day before, and my concerns about learning when it hit me that I was in “watch mode” again.  Let me explain what I mean by that. The summer after I met Scott we both went home to our parents. It was the only time we would be apart from each other for that long from the day we met until the day he died.  That summer I was a sad mess. He was all I could think of. I slept in every day until the mail came. He wrote me a letter every day. I would get the mail, read my letter (several times) and write a reply. Then I would go back to sleep or watch tv.  I didn’t talk to friends, I didn’t talk much to my family. I was basically just watching the world go by and waiting until summer was over so I could be with Scott again. When we finally got back together right before school started, we both noticed how being in “watch mode” had made me and my brain very sluggish.  Fortunately the damage was not permanent, but there would be several times throughout the years to follow when I would get in a slump and we would refer back to my summer of being in “watch mode”.

It hit me this morning that I have been in “watch mode” for over 3 years!!!  And if I’m honest with myself, I’ve probably been in “watch mode” since I left my job back in August of 2013.  That puts it at close to 5 years that I have been tuned out. Wow – I am so grateful that I finally realized this.  It’s like a light switch turned on. That’s not the only switch that got triggered though. As I was thinking about the gallery last night and my disappointment that Scott didn’t show up, I realized that he is not going to.  He is gone and he is not coming back. Our time together was amazing but it is over, and now I need to let him go and move on. I will never lose what we had, but it’s time for me to stop trying to hold on to the past.

It’s time.  It’s time for Roni.  

My Story…. The Condensed Version

Sometimes it feels like I’ve told my story so many times, and it surprises me when I’m talking to someone and I find out they have never heard it. I am not my story, but my story is part of who I am now and why I do what I do. I decided it was time to write the condensed version, because the full version (my book) doesn’t want to be written yet!

I grew up in a small town in Idaho. Ironically, my graduating class was the largest in the state, because at the time there was only one high school for several small towns. I wasn’t what I considered to be popular, but I wasn’t shunned by the popular crowd either. I was a band geek and I loved it. I was also in the choir and the honor society. I had enough friends and activities to keep me busy and I loved school. I never had a boyfriend in high school and only attended two dances (both informal girl ask boy dances).

After graduation I chose an in-state college that was about 6 hours away from home. It was a party school and they had a marching band. None of my friends went up there with me, which was kind of nice because nobody knew me, and nobody knew that I wasn’t popular. That gave me the confidence to be myself. I went to a lot of parties and met a lot of people in my first month at college. I was a bit of a wild child. Then one night at a party, standing in line for the bathroom, I met the man that would become the love of my life and my husband – the wild child was tamed!

We got married in November of 1987, and graduated from college in December of that year. In January of 1988 we moved to Los Angeles to start our careers. We moved to Boise in April of 1992 to be closer to our family. We bought our first house in 1993 and had our daughter (our only child) in January of 1994. Life was good. Really good… for about 7 years. In 2000 our fairy tale marriage encountered a few dragons. My husband had started drinking daily. The only times we ever fought were when one or both of us had been drinking too much. We started fighting more often. In 2003 I had an emotional affair which started what I later found out was the 7 year war. I didn’t realize we were at war until we called a truce in 2010. I threatened to leave him many times, but I never meant it. One time he asked me for a divorce and I told him no. It had become a toxic relationship but we were both very much in love with each other.

In 2010 we spent a weekend in Jackpot (our Happy Place), renegotiating our relationship. We decided it was worth keeping, and April 4th 2010 is the day we unofficially got remarried. Things were much better after that. He was still drinking, so there were still fights, but I learned that if I didn’t overreact, what before would be a huge fight turned into a conversation that just didn’t happen. I would just tell him I wasn’t going to discuss that with him until he was sober… and then it never got discussed. The next year my husband tried to quit drinking cold turkey and had a seizure. He was fine but his liver levels gave him quite a scare. After a few months of not drinking he got good news that his liver levels had returned to normal. He was told he dodged a bullet but he should never drink again. That didn’t last very long, and once again he was drinking heavily every night. In 2012 he got let go from his job. They said he was burned out. They were right. Unfortunately the alcohol played a big role in his job burnout and was also taking a toll on his internal organs.

After watching my husband go through job burnout, and realizing that it was very unlikely that he would ever work again, I started noticing that I was also becoming very burned out at my job. In August of 2013 I decided to retire early from my corporate career and pursue my Mary Kay business on a full time basis. I found a studio to lease and fixed it up really cute. Business was good. Life was good. I had time to spend with my family and there was a lot of love in our house again.

Sometime around October of 2014 I started getting depressed. My husband had a lot of social anxiety and I was starting to pick up some of my own. My 50th birthday was coming up and we were planning a karaoke party. My husband was working really hard to get people to come. I created an invite…. And couldn’t bring myself to send it out. I even tried to cancel the party but he wouldn’t let me. It was a small gathering but we had a great time, and it meant so much to me that he did worked so hard get people there. I started sleeping a lot and was getting sick more often. I had been working as an assistant for my Mary Kay director part time and I gave that up because I was having a hard time getting up in the mornings. We got through Thanksgiving and Christmas and had a very low key birthday celebration for our daughter’s 21st birthday in January of 2015. My husband almost didn’t go out with us for her birthday because it was so late before she was ready… but he did and I’m so grateful for that.

I got sick again on February 6th and spent 2 days in bed. On February 8th I felt good enough to get out of bed and found that my husband had decided to quit drinking and he was detoxing. It was the first time he had been sober in so long. We had an amazing day talking and planning and researching essential oils to heal his liver. I massaged his back and we cuddled. He told me that he knew he wasn’t always nice to me but that he always loved me. It’s a day I will never forget. Late that night he started getting really weak and confused and wasn’t making any sense. He didn’t want to go to the hospital and told me not to call the ambulance if he had a seizure again. My daughter came home and she convinced him to let us take him to the hospital. She feared that his liver was failing. It was hard for us to even get him in the car, but we did and we rushed to the hospital. On the way there, he stopped breathing. We got him to the ER and they rushed him inside and worked on him for what seemed like an eternity. He had internal bleeding and they gave him 6 units of blood in the ER. They moved him up to ICU and got the bleeding stopped, but he never regained consciousness and at 4:15 am on February 9, 2015 he took his last breath. The cause of death was massive variceal hemorrhage precipitating cardiac arrest due to subacute liver failure and chronic alcoholic cirrhosis. He was 49 years old.

While waiting in the hospital, praying for a miracle… my daughter informed me that she was addicted to heroin and needed help. The next few days were a blur. Scott’s mom and brother came to town, and so did my sister. She was my rock, because not only was I dealing with the mortuary I was also trying to figure out how to get my daughter the help she needed. With the help of another family member we were able to get her checked into a detox facility the day that my mother in-law and brother in-law left. We kept her addiction from them at the time because they had lost Scott’s sister and Dad in the last few years and we didn’t want them to worry about her also.

My daughter left the detox facility, but relapsed again. The next several months were a rollercoaster of her relapsing and detoxing, and she was in and out of the detox center a few times. I spent most of my days in a fog and in my pajamas. Somehow I pulled myself together in March to attend Mary Kay career conference in Utah, but I don’t remember very much of it. We had decided instead of a funeral to have a celebration of Life for Scott in June.. on his 50th birthday. Somehow we pulled that together, although I don’t remember much of that either. On July 4th 2015 my daughter’s boyfriend got pulled over for speeding and was arrested for trafficking heroin. She went back into the detox center and it looked like she might finally be ready to accept the help she needed. Things were looking like they were finally turning around.

On September 1, 2015 a plain clothes police officer came to my door looking for my daughter. He told me that she wasn’t in trouble, but that she might have some information that could help them. I told them she was at the Idaho Humane Society setting up some community service for a traffic violation she’d gotten. I asked them for their number and told them I would have her call them when she got home. About 20 minutes later I heard her pull up, and then I heard some commotion outside and when I went out there were about 10 plain clothes officers handcuffing her. They had been waiting outside my house for her to come home. So much for not being in any trouble. It turns out she had been indicted by a grand jury for trafficking based on an investigation involving a confidential informant – for events that took place in December of 2014. She was given a $100,000 bond. Long story short I paid the bail bondsman $8,000 and cashed out her college fund to hire a lawyer. She ended up getting arrested again in December of 2015 and the bond was revoked. The lawyer got her charges amended down to aiding and abetting and she went to prison on a rider program. She was released in November of 2016. A friend of mine gave her a job after she got out and she did really good for several months. Unfortunately, she relapsed again and in November of 2017 she was arrested for a probation violation and picked up a new possession charge. This time God stepped in and she was accepted into the New Life Addiction Recovery Program through the Boise Rescue Mission. Her Judge granted her probation contingent on her successful completion of the New Life Program, and she is currently doing very well and finally getting the help she needs so she can get her life back on track.

I’ve learned so much and grown so much through all of this. 1 month before my husband died and my life as I knew it shattered into pieces, I attended a Mary Kay event. National Sales Director Julianne Nagel was the guest speaker. It was her first speaking event since being trampled by her horse 3 times. Doctors were surprised that she lived through it and didn’t think she would ever walk again. As she stood on that stage, she spoke of her experience as an Adventure and a Gift. She talked about how grateful she was for her Adventure. Her story had a HUGE impact on me. As I was sitting in the hospital saying goodbye to my husband, I was able to see the Gifts that God had given me. I didn’t like it, but I knew it was a gift. I was able to have gratitude for the life I had with him. I was able to have gratitude for the fact that he lived the life he wanted to live. I was able to have gratitude for the fact that God has great something planned for me and that the events and “Adventures” that I was having would teach me and inspire me towards this greater plan that God has for me.

There are no coincidences. I believe that everything happens in Divine order. This part of my story has set me up for the next chapter. These experiences have shown me how strong I am. These experiences have opened doors for me. My path is clear. There will be obstacles, but my path and my purpose is clear.

Stay tuned.
To be continued.
This girl is unstoppable, and she’s just getting started!