5 years.

I had a dream last month where JM appeared. He appears in my dreams every 6 weeks or so.

The usual scenario is that he is suddenly alive and back in my life. I’m surprised because I know he is dead, so obviously I am rather unprepared for such an event. I always have to choose between my current life and my former life, between our marriage and my current relationship. The dream ends with me feeling trapped.

This last dream, however, ended differently. In it, I was angry at him for something–probably for suddenly returning in my life after being dead–but instead of being rather nonchalant about my anger, he embraced me. It was the most vivid experience I can ever remember dreaming. I could feel exactly how tall he was by where my face fit into his chest, and how long his arms wrapping around me were. I felt safe and calm in this warm hug. I woke up smelling him and still feeling that embrace.

Image

Four years and a day…

Whenever the end of April rolls around, I start feeling uneasy and wonder why. Then May hits and I remember and I dread the passing of May 10.

I am a day late here in recognizing that four years ago yesterday we lost John-Mark. I wanted to write yesterday, but I got as far as posting a photo and a note on Facebook before being taken down by a virus that made it hurt to even lay down. He got a lot of love on that FB post, so I don’t feel quite so bad for not getting this up in time. Thank you everyone for recognizing him on FB.

It’s hard to think that another year has passed, technology has developed,and things have happened in the world that JM would have loved to have witnessed. The US killing Osama Bin Laden springs to mind-man that would have made him happy. Or the creation of the iPad, or BMW entering World Superbike with his friend heading the team, or a million other things to do with his friends.

I was going to write some self indulgent things here but I’ll leave them. This here is for you John-Mark. Miss you and your humor, your talent, your towering height, your ultra-stubbornness, your fierce loyalty, your love for animals, your naivety that you hid so well because you were so smart, your curiosity, your love of knowledge, your power of debate, your charm and how comfortable you made the people around you feel.

 

Three Years.

It was an afternoon in late May of 2003, and I had some quasi work meeting someone else had arranged at the motorcycle dealership JM was managing. I was observing him closely for the first time, in profile, while he looked at his work computer in his little office at Spectrum Motorsports. He played with the tidy soul patch he kept under his lip and peered through his stylish glasses. He leaned forward in his chair, presumably to relieve the sciatica from a bulging disc he was suffering from those days. And just as he leaned forward, it was as if he suddenly started to sparkle, and I realized what a good looking man I was having a meeting with.

We kept talking business, but for the remainder of the meeting an additional agenda snuck its way into my side of the conversation. I could see he was responding to it, so I kept it up, trying to impress him with my bike knowledge and experience. I’m sure to an outsider I sounded a fool, but I know now that he did not care; he was viewing me through the other side of the sparkly lens.

It took one full month for him to ask me on a date. Ten months later, we snuck off to the county offices and were married.

And then, just after our fourth wedding anniversary, he died. That was three years ago today.

A lot of stuff happened in between. And presumably, I am still processing some of it because I still dream of John-Mark weekly. Or rather, he is in my dreams weekly, they are not necessarily about him.

In these dreams I am back in my old life in San Diego, in my old house, and JM is is always there. He, and my life, are as they were and whatever is happening in the dream, in  my life, is just taking place as normal. Sometimes I am mad at him, sometimes we are traveling somewhere, sometimes we are talking. I never think to ask him questions because while I am dreaming, everything is as it was and I don’t realize he is gone and that in my waking life I am living in Spain and in another relationship. My dreaming life hasn’t yet caught up to my waking life. Or maybe my dreaming life is pulling me back to try to resolve all that can never be resolved between us.

And it never truly can be. Oh sure, I can come to terms with things and let things go or “get over it” as some idiots like to offer as (useless) advice. But I’ll never know who he was on his way to becoming or what dreams he would achieve. I’ll never know how the story above was supposed to play out…

So I will appreciate what I have now. Everything and every friend and every family member and person in my life. And know that I am not alone in missing him.

I guess I do have time for your crap

Tomorrow is the two year anniversary of  JM’s death.

It’s been a long road, pretty lonely most of the time. I witnessed many facets of myself in the last 2 years, some of which I did not recognize. Sometimes I felt so detached from who I am and what the hell I’m supposed to be doing that it was like watching a crappy movie of someone else acting out my life.  Someone with the acting skills of say, Winona Ryder or Ben Affleck. But I couldn’t walk out of the movie theater like I normally do (actually, I do not watch movies with Ms. Ryder in them because it’s distracting what a fucking terrible actor she is, so there would not be a theater in which to storm out of, but I digress). (Oh yeah and Ms. Ryder is not the only person I refuse to watch in any movie, there are a big handful of “actors” that throw me into a rage if I am subjected to watch them prance around on screen. /rant)

So after 2 years, I  feel like I have sort of gotten my brain back. This has it’s good and bad points.

Good, because I have stopped avoiding my feelings and am facing myself. I’ve emotionally come to terms with being in a relationship again. I’ve made it a point to deal with the many things in my life I have been neglecting and made decent progress (still haven’t gotten the pedicure though). My memory has come back.

But there is a downside to this too. I feel like I lost my “I don’t have time for your bullshit” attitude that I acquired when JM died. I felt like  I suddenly was shown what was important in my life, and I just did not have time for other peoples ridiculous crap. You can only talk about yourself? Goodbye. You’re a liar/shallow/ignorant/manipulative/unfair?  Yep, forget you. Not that I was much of a tolerant person before, but I stopped even bothering with the niceties after JM died. Which was gratifying and freeing.

If I’m lucky, some of this will stick around. Maybe the abruptness will go away, and I won’t feel the need to verbalize I think certain people are stupid. But if I continue to avoid wasting energy on people who otherwise do not give a rat’s arse about me, it gives me that much more time and energy to put into the people in my life that I care about. And I’ve learned just how important that is.

And so it continues

Someone saw my tattoo Saturday night at a dinner we had in the flat. He was washing dishes to make space in the kitchen while others were preparing food, eating pica pica, drinking wine, putting stuff on the table. He asked me what it meant. I explained about my husbands race number and nickname, how they were one in the same. And then of course, why I got the tattoo.

The guy literally stopped moving, soap covered hands in the air, mouth half open. He paused in this position for 5 seconds while I finished my sentence.  I watched him search for what kind of reaction to have – I hate this part the most because of what the next statement so often is – he then said sorry for bringing it up.  It’s a strange situation to be in, watching wide eyed panic set in someones eyes as the word died comes out of my mouth. But by then I have to keep going, it is not my job to assuage their discomfort or even acknowledge it. I also won’t change the subject if it is brought up. Because as I’ve said so many times, not talking about JM is so much harder for me than just…talking about him.

I can now accurately predict who will avoid me thereafter if I mention that my husband died (this actually happens, as if I had a disease they could catch). That fact is he died racing motorcycles, and hearing this makes some people really uncomfortable. Occasionally I decide to skip saying I was ever married at all, if I don’t have the energy to deal with an uncomfortable reaction. But more and more, I just talk about him because I like my memories of him and don’t want to forget. And if that makes someone uncomfortable, tough poo. So that’s progress on my part, I guess.

But while I can now say the word widow,  I still have a hard time dealing with the life I left behind in California. I miss my friends, my family my dogs, (OMG I miss my dogs like crazy). In fact, more than that, I still cannot deal with so many things in my life. I wonder when and if this will change…

Example 1: I got a message on my US phone from my accountant reminding me that April 15 in coming up and did I want an appointment. Wait…didn’t I just complete my 2008 taxes? I did, in October. Or was it December? Whichever. I can’t remember, my brain still blocks this stuff. I ‘ll get an extension. If I remember to.

Example 2: I am selling my house in San Diego. Though it is not on the market. I am hoping I don’t have to put it on the market, that my neighbor will buy it, or someone will just make me an offer so I do not have to deal with anything. This is not the recommended way to sell a house.

Example 3: I cannot use any of my air miles because they are in JM’s name. In order to transfer these, I will have to produce a copy of my marriage certificate and a death certificate. Then some other shit has to happen that I can’t remember because I stopped listening after that point and promptly told them they can shove their air miles up their ass.

Example 4: My health. I have not had my teeth cleaned or had any type of medical check-up  since I arrived in Spain in October, 2008.  I don’t have health coverage here and as far as dental care goes, have you seen what people’s teeth look like in Spain? I did have a couple (pretty crappy) therapy visits in BCN over a year ago because I thought I was going crazy.

Example 5: I have not cut my hair since October, nor had a pedicure since December 3rd. My feet resemble hooves.

Example 7: I am provided healthcare and dental coverage in the US through my company, but I have not signed any paperwork or gotten any insurance cards. So actually, I do not know if I am covered in the US.

I’d rather lose money – on my house, in IRS interest, in air miles – than take responsibility and action to set everything in order. So  I may not be the best candidate for watching small children (OK, I am never a good candidate for watching small children) or say, planning an itinerary for your visit, or planning much of anything for that matter.

So if you maybe were wondering why I haven’t answered an email, returned a call, acknowledged an event, bought the ticket…well, it’s not because I’m traipsing back and forth between Italy and Spain, drinking wine and riding motorcycles. Though, I am doing that too. I guess that is progress as well.

Gifts from John-Mark

It’s John-Mark’s 42nd birthday today.

I refuse to wonder what would have been, and  I am grateful for the time I had with him.

Here is a photo I found on his phone, I think he took it from a hotel room traveling somewhere. I gave him that shirt, possibly as one of his 38th or 39th supplemental birthday gifts.

He loved it.

We were good gift givers, and for Xmas and birthdays would have a series of gifts to open.  An exceptional shopper, but a terribly lazy gift-wrapper, he would always surprise me with beautiful clothes or moto gear wrapped in a shopping bag. On my birthday he would buy me jewelry that contained a star – our race team symbol that came to represent me, two stars representing the both of us. (The jewelry was at least wrapped by the store attendant).

A few days before his accident, he bought me a Mother’s Day gift (from our dogs) that I found upon coming home after his death. It was a necklace with two stars, one little, one big – the two of us.  Wrapped in a small paper bag.  His last gift to me.

The state of things

It’s the end of the year and time for reflection and planning for the coming year, so of course I have been thinking about the past 12+ months since I moved to Spain and evaluating all that has happened. I think now is a good time to update you all on “how I am handling things”, mainly because I am getting this question a lot lately. It’s over a year and a half after JM’s death and I think people feel like they can ask me this question now, like maybe my answer will be different than a year ago. I think everyone knew what the answer was a year ago, just by looking at me. Nonetheless, I appreciate the question.

Psychologically, we expect to outlive our parents and grandparents, so really, our entire lives subconsciously we are preparing for their deaths in a way. Of course we are never “prepared” and it does not make the loss any easier, but I imagine you do not experience the shock of losing someone you are supposed to live the rest of your life with. It is still disturbing how many people who knew JM do not even acknowledge in any way that he was killed when they see me, and never have. I just want you all to know, for future reference, that this is something you NEED to do at some point if someone you know has experienced the death of someone as significant as a spouse or sibling or child or anyone you are not supposed to, by design, outlive.

So…to answer the question. I’m doing pretty good. 6 months ago, I was not. But 6 months ago I spent a lot of time looking at my life and at myself, and finally allowing myself to experience a lot of pain, and, well… it helped.  I am looking forward to a lot of things and I am happy.  I recently got some ink that honors JM – I felt positively compelled to do it – and I am very happy with it, extremely happy with it in fact.  Sure, a tattoo signifies internal pain, (and I would be lying if I said this did not subconsciously reflect the loss I feel), but the imagery is very much me and not entirely obvious to anyone who did not know JM well as to it’s meaning, so it’s quite personal. And for some reason, it is very satisfying to have it. Maybe I will figure this feeling out later.

Now to answer the question everyone is really asking when they want to know how I am doing: I think I am finally emotionally able to have a real relationship at this point, with someone appropriate – not twelve years my junior or someone I know is entirely wrong for me or that I am not very interested in (in other words, safe because I would never have an actual relationship with them).  That being said, I will put it out there that I started dating someone I really like. I have known him for a year, he is a friend of a friend and he is of course involved in racing.

I think I will leave it at that for now, but thanks for asking.