Thursday, June 30, 2011

There's No End In Sight

Title of this post was taken from the song I Hate My Life by Theory of A Deadman.

About a week after Mike passed away I started changing accounts into only my name. For the most part this was pretty easy. Credit card companies took his name off the account with no fuss. The mortgage company made me the primary owner with just a copy of the death certificate. I've only had problems with one bank. We have a home equity loan with them and for whatever reason it was only put in Mike's name. Here is how the first conversation I had with them went.

Me: My husband passed away last week, and I need to have this account put in my name so that I can take care of it.

Bank: We need proof that you have been given power of attorney over his estate before we will do that.

Me: I am automatically made power of attorney because I'm his wife. I'll be happy to fax you the death certificate if you want.

Bank: We don't want that we need something from a lawyer stating that you have power of attorney.

Me: But, I'm automatically given that right being that I'm his wife.

Bank: Look Mrs. Dawson, we will not give out any further information concerning this account without that information.

Me: Did you get that you just called me Mrs. in HIS WIFE.

Bank: It doesn't matter.

Me: Can I speak with your supervisor.

Bank: You've called after normal business hours and there is not a supervisor here that can help you.

I hung up on them and the next day called the deputy clerk of courts, and they stated that they had already put the deed to our property in my name, and that they will not provide anything stating I have power of attorney because I am his wife, and I am automatically listed as power of attorney. So, I've made the loan payments for the last two months, and I finally called the bank back today. This is how the conversation went.

Me: I am calling about an account in my husbands name. He passed away in April, and I just need the pay off amount for this account so that I can take care of it.

Bank: Your name is not listed on the account so we will not be able to give you that information.

Me: I understand that, but all I want is the pay off amount so that I can send you a check for the remaining balance. I'll send it today.

Bank: I'm sorry I can't help you.

Me: Did you receive the payments for the last two months?

Bank: Yes, we did.

Me: Does it state who signed those checks?

Bank: No it does not.

Me: Well, I signed them. So you have no problem cashing a check signed by me, even though I'm not on the account, but you won't give me this information or make me the account holder. 

Bank: That's correct.

Me: So, what happens if I don't make anymore payments.

Bank: Then it will go to collections.

Me: Would you like the name of the cemetery and the burial plot number so that you can attempt to collect that payment.

Bank: Mrs. Dawson your not making sense. Of course we don't want the information.

Me: I'm not making sense? When you can't collect from him, will you just close the account.

Bank: No, we will then contact the next of kin in order to collect.

Me: *I almost threw my phone across the room* DID YOU NOT GET THAT I AM THE NEXT OF KIN!

Bank: Okay, well if you send us a copy of the death certificate we will see what we can do.

Me: I attempted to do that two months ago, and you didn't want it.

Bank: As a favor we will take it now.

By this point I was so frustrated I hung up without getting the number to fax the death certificate to. What is wrong with these people!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things Are Changing, But Nothing Changes

Title of this post was taken from the song Odyssey of the Mind by Enigma.

Boys and their toys :). We had a good weekend full of projects mixed with sweat, dirt, laughter and tears. My dad came over on Saturday with his Kabota tractor and we pulled up some trees and bushes. I'm pretty certain that what we did to the lawn was NOT part of Mike's five year plan, but it's what I needed to do. It made me sad, because I know it's not what he would have wanted. All the same it was really cool, and I had more fun than I thought I would. 

 Here is the awful lilac bush that we dug up. I absolutely hated this tree. I am so glad it is gone!

Mason had so much fun working with my dad.

 Sebastian and my dad working side by side. Mike would have been proud of how hard he worked.

Mike's brother Scott also came over, and we went through stuff in the garage. He took quite a bit of stuff with him, and helped me organize things. I found things that just made me miss Mike so much. Scott let me cry and kept me from torturing myself by putting aside some of those more personal things. We found more toys than I knew we even had! A lot of it was from when they were young, so I was glad that he was able to take some of that. 
     It hit me again today that my kids will never have those father son/daughter moments that most other kids will have. While other kids talk about all the cool things they get to do with their dad, my kids won't have that. However, they do have amazing aunts, uncles, and grandparents to do things with, and those moments will be defining for them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tomorrow and Today, Beside You All The Way

Title of this post was taken from the song If by Bread.

So here is the video of our trip to Florida. Not all my text in the video turned out, but I don't mind. Thanks Scott for helping me out with this.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can We Climb This Mountain?

Title of this post was taken from the song When You Were Young by The Killers

I feel the need to make this statement before you even read this post... I am not a hoarder! 

I've mentioned before that I'm pretty sentimental and I tend to keep things that most people would throw away. This doesn't mean that I keep EVERYTHING, just odd stuff. Actually, Mike kept more stuff than I did. Anyway, as I continue to go through things I've found stuff that I forgot we even kept. Many of them I've decided I no longer need, while other things make me cry. Who are we kidding I cry all the time, but that's not the point. 

Yesterday, I picked up Mike's utility knife and began opening boxes from the shed. As I started to cut open the first box I could almost hear Mike say "Mel, you are going to slice your leg open!" However, no trips to the ER were needed, and much to my surprise I found this...

This bear was given to me by my grandpa when I was seven or eight. I didn't even know we had kept it. I was really excited to find it. Then I found

Mike gave me this bear for Valentine's Day in 2000. I also found

This bunny belonged to Mike. I honestly can not remember where he got it or if it had a name, but he had it even before we started dating. He kept it on his bed at his moms house. I'm not sure how bunny lost his eye, and his nose is starting to come off, but other wise he is perfect. So, I plan on fixing him up and putting him back on our bed where he belongs.

I also found my Little Mermaid figures he bought me our first Christmas together. Unfortunately, our bean bag we bought in Utah was ruined from sitting in the shed and I had to throw it away. I cried over that one. I also found the pair of jeans I was wearing the first time I met Mike. Okay, now I know this sounds a little lame, but they were my favorite jeans for like a year and now I'm glad I have them. Of course I cried over those too. I found the Hot Wheels cars he had collected for the kids. How is it possible that so many memories can be packed away in a box? More sorting to come this weekend who knows what we will find. 

I have really struggled this week, thus the lack of posts. It's been an emotionally exhausting week. As I sat down and decided I should try to put some of it in words, I flipped through my pictures on my camera. I found a picture that I took over the weekend that helps me remember that Mike may be physically gone, but he lives through our children. They have inherited many of his wonderful qualities. Tyler is quite the artist, just like her dad.

Tyler drew this with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.

Monday, June 20, 2011

There's More To See Than Can Ever Be Seen

Title of this post was taken from the song Circle of Life from the movie The Lion King.

We are home! We had a wonderful time! I have this amazing video that I made with pictures from the trip, it's on my desktop right now. I've tried for two days to get this nifty little video to upload to Blogger and You Tube, but it just isn't working for me. Not sure if it's my computer or the operator. I have an incredibly smart brother in law who is way tech savvy. Maybe I can get him to look at it when he comes in...hint hint. Love ya Scott.

I have so many stories I could share! I had forewarned the kids that they would have to take their shoes off at the airport, and we went over how everything had to be scanned. They asked a lot of questions and I explained about the shoe bomber and how all of this was for our safety. As we went through airport security, and we are putting our shoes back on, little Mason looks up and says "Did I have bombs in my shoes?" My hand flew to cover his mouth. I tried to explain that we couldn't say things like that in the airport, but not really sure he understood.

It was simply an amazing trip, and I could go on and on about it. My awesome video would be even better, I'll just have to post that later. Thank you Mandaly for letting us tag along. Love you!

Other News:
Friday afternoon presented itself with some very challenging moments, none of which I plan on talking about on here.

Father's Day was really hard as well. We decided to just stay home and be together. Normally, I would have sent the kids running upstairs to jump on the bed and wake Mike up with hugs, kisses and gifts. It all felt wrong.

I sat and watched a new movie for the first time in a few months. I decided to rent I Am Number Four. Mike and I had a certain way we watched movies. He would sit at the end of the couch and I would put a pillow in his lap and curl up next to him. He would wrap his arms around me so that if there were any scary scenes he could hold me when I jumped. I'm a wuss when it comes to anything remotely scary. Anyway, I jumped a few times during this movie only to feel alone when he wasn't there to hold me. I miss him.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On The Wings Of A Dream, So Far Beyond Reality

Title of this post was taken from the song Through The Fire And The Flames by DragonForce.

Florida bound in the morning. Our plane is schedule to take off at 9:50. Tyler is going with Mikayla and they are leaving earlier than we are. Suitcases are packed and the kids are talking nonstop. I'm excited for them, and I'm looking forward to this trip. 

Monday - SeaWorld
Tuesday - Discovery Cove to swim with the dolphins
Wednesday - Disney World 
Thursday - Disney World
Friday - Flying home

I don't think the boys are going to sleep tonight! I'm feeling incredibly grateful for this much needed vacation, and at the same time I'm incredibly sad. I won't have Mike to come home and share any of this with. I guess that means that I'll have to blog about it, but it's not the same. Anyway, I probably won't post again until Saturday or Sunday. Hope everyone has a great week! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

We Don't Need No Education

Title of this post was taken from the song Another Brick In The Wall Part II by Pink Floyd.

SCHOOL IS OUT!!! Yesterday was the last day of school for my kids and students. I can't believe how fast it went by. I have learned so many things this year, things I didn't even know I didn't know. I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful people I work with.I truly work with an incredible group of educators. Thank you to everyone for supporting me as the new kid on the block, and during the last few months when I haven't been myself. At the end of the day, as I stood alone in my packed up clutter free classroom, tears ran down my face. I will miss this routine.

Sebastian wearing my graduation cap in 2005.
Sebastian graduated from elementary school. How is that possible?!  He will be moving on to the middle school and new experiences in the fall. I'm sad that he won't have his dad here to give him the advice that only a dad can give.  He is such a kind young man, and I hate to think he will lose that innocence. It's hard to believe that just nine years ago I was putting him on the bus at the age of three so that he could attend early childhood. That shy child with a speech delay has turned into an outgoing young man who has no trouble telling me I'm not as funny as I think I am. I love him so much more than he will ever know.

Tyler will be in fourth grade, and little Mason will be in Kindergarten. I love having my kids at the same school I teach in. They get to come to work with me, go home with me and I'm there if they need me during the day. 

I'm not sure I'm ready for how different next school year will be. I want Mike here to tell me that I'm doing things right. I need him to tell me that I'm not royally screwing up our children. I need him to validate my thoughts and feelings. I need his reassurances and warm hugs, and when I start to think about how much I need that I get angry all over again. So, here is to Sebastian, my incredibly smart, kind, loving, and considerate young man. I love you to infinity and beyond!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There Isn't Anything I Wouldn't Do For You

* Title of this post was taken from the song You've Got A Friend In Me by Randy Newman. 

I've been offered a lot of great advice or thoughts lately. Mandaly and I joke that I need a t-shirt that says "I'm a widow...Back Off!" I appreciate the unconventional ways she lets me grieve and present my anger. Here are a few other thoughts.

A good friend, Sandy, has given me some amazing advice, and I want to share one thing. She related an experience to me and I've taken her quote and used it over and over again in my head. "Melanie, that one is over. Let it go. It can't ever come back." As difficult things arise I manage to kick, scream and bite my way through them, and when they are over I always repeat those words. "This one is over. Let it go. It can't ever come back." How powerful is that. Love you Sandy!

Another good friend sent me a book a week or so ago, and I've already read it three times. So much of it hits home with how I'm feeling. The book is C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain / A Grief Observed. Thanks Darrell for sharing this with me. Now I get to share pieces that have given me pause. 

"In unexpected moments the voice of "common sense" tells the grieving person that he or she will get through it, get over it; but then a sharp jab of intense memory of the loved one lost hits, and the common sense disappears as quickly as it came. Then comes again the seemingly endless cycle of extremely emotional tears and pathos. Lewis said that he almost preferred the moment of agony to this. He thought the moments of agony were clean and honest."

This is exactly how I feel. I wake up or often tell myself that I can make it through the day and that this pain will eventually become less and less, but then it all comes back and I feel like I'm just deluding myself.

"This great Christian scholar commented that no one ever told him of the laziness of grief. The exception is, of course, on the job where you can function almost as a machine. But anything that required the smallest effort he hated. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much."

Exactly! Someone asked me why I couldn't go out with friends and allow them to offer support, but I could manage to function at work. This is why! 

"An odd by-product of his loss is that he thought he was an embarrassment to everyone he met. He could see everywhere he went people trying to decide whether they should say anything about Joy's death. Jack hated it if they did or if they didn't. Some people simply avoided him. Worse than being an embarrassment, some couples were reminded that some day they would suffer such a loss, and this is a most uncomfortable feeling in its' own right."
 It's those uncomfortable silences that make talking to people so uncomfortable. I can tell that people want to ask how I'm doing, but it's hard either way and it often leaves me stumbling to fill in the awkward silences or breaks in conversation.

I will post some other thoughts from the book in later posts.  

Thanks to everyone for all your love and support!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot

Title of this post was taken from the song Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows. 

I have two brothers and one sister, Matthew, Mandaly and Michael. Yes, we were the M & M kids growing up. All of our names start with M and have seven letters. Anyway, I am the second oldest in this little line up. I grew up never having to mow the lawn. I'd like to say the boys always took care of it, but Mandaly reminded me the other day that she did her fair share of mowing. I guess I was the exception. I can not recall ever mowing the lawn growing up. I do have fond memories of raking the grass after they mowed, or picking weeds from the flower beds. This trend stayed the same during our marriage. In the 14 years we were married I mowed the lawn 3 times. I offered many times, but Mike always said he would take care of it. He liked mowing the lawn as he listened to his music.

Several people have offered or have come to mow my lawn since Mike passed away. I am very appreciative of these acts of kindness, it wasn't something I could deal with at the time. I've mowed the lawn several times over the last few weeks, mostly because I need to feel independent and know that I can handle these things. Mike had the mowing down to an exact science. He had a certain way he did things and I have not yet created any familiar patterns. In fact he would probably laugh at me because I seem to mow in a whimsical manner. I'll start in one spot and then think to myself "hmmm....that part of the lawn looks lonely I think I'll go over there." The last time I mowed I wondered if it would be okay to just mow a smiley face in my front yard. Maybe this would be why he always took care of the mowing. He knew my attention span and silly nature would get in the way.

Mike always pruned the trees, cut back the rose bush, and did all that good stuff. He loved working with his bonsai trees. He would spend hours pruning them. I do not do well with plants, or anything that deals with keeping something plant like alive. He often said he had the yard on a five year plan :) ever the planner he knew what he eventually wanted the yard to look like. It kills me that I'm not really sure what that plan included. He never really went into it with me. Now my lawn has no plan except to not kill the grass. I'm a hopeless mess when it comes to landscaping and anything of the such. I guess it would be a little different if I even cared enough to want to like gardening, but...well not so much. I guess I will settle for mowing the lawn at this point.   

On a totally different subject. I bought tickets for Sebastian, Tyler and myself to see They Might Be Giants in concert at The National in Richmond. When I bought the tickets the opening band was not listed. Anyway, I found out today that Jonathan Coulton will be opening for them!!! I'm super excited and so are the kids. If you've never heard any of his music you should totally take a listen. It's just fun stuff. For those of you that may not know why I heart Mr. Coulton (other than his music) click on the link FB posts and read the one marked April 20, 2011. It might make a little more sense.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Too Many Bitter Tears Are Raining Down On Me"

Title of this post was taken from the song Too Much Love Will Kill You by Queen.

I've written and rewritten several posts over the last week, but every time I come back to them, and think I might post them, my mood has changed and I no longer want to share those thoughts. So, this might be a hodgepodge of thoughts, and if it's hard to follow I apologize.

I can't imagine any holiday or celebration ever feeling right again, but I anticipate the firsts will be horrific. We are coming up on several over the next few months that I know are going to be extremely difficult. For example, Mason's birthday (June 21), my birthday (July 14), our anniversary (August 9), the start of a new school year, and so on and so on. I think my best option will be to take the kids and head out of town on these days. I know if I stay at home and allow myself to dwell on things I will go plum crazy.

On another note, I've never been good at waiting for things to happen. I want them to happen right this minute. So, waiting for the official autopsy report and death certificate is driving me absolutely crazy. I can't take care of things, that need to be done, until I have that. 

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about what kind of headstone I want for Mike's grave. I bought a burial plot next to his, I'm freaking 31 who does this at my age, and I want a double headstone. Actually, I think they are called companion monuments...I hate that I even know this crap! 

I've been sent flyers and catalogs from companies selling monuments, not a mailing list I ever thought I'd be on, and it's ruining my love for mail.  I refuse to buy a monument from a company that solicits me as a customer. I mean do they just go through the obituaries and then mail their crap out? No thank you.

I know I want the headstone to be a dark granite color, but beyond that I'm not sure. I want something unique, because Mike and I were unique. I've thought about something Star Wars related, like having the Death Star etched into the headstone, that would be funny. Mike would have found that funny. I thought about having our picture put on it, but I'm not sure I want that either. I could go the traditional route and just put something generic like "Loving husband and father", but Mike was anything but generic. He was such a unique individual, and I think I need to honor that. Maybe I could incorporate a piece of his art work, I don't know. Maybe it's a little disturbing that I'm obsessing over this.
I just wish that I knew Mike was okay. I wish I knew that he knew how much I loved him. I can polish that thought, turn it, twist it, throw it in the air and watch it slip through my fingers, but the truth of the matter is I can't be one hundred percent sure he knew that. The only way I could be totally sure would be to ask him, and that's not going to happen. So, I have to settle with doing all these little things, that really don't add up to anything in the end.