Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Over a week and no post!

For all my hardcore bloggers I'm sorry for not posting anything in the last week. It's not that I've been too busy but really there's not much more to post about. The boys and I are doing okay. They go to school, I work from home and then when they come home we work on homework and then dinner. We're in a routine now.

Michael has worked very hard to get his grades out of the cellar and with the term ending on Thursday he should be getting some good grades. He was having a horrible time a few weeks back but has finally started to put some effort back into his work.

Sunday I woke up at 4:30 AM. Sleep has not been too good recently. I piddled around until about 7 and then went out for coffee. Around 8 I went to the cemetery and sat quietly for awhile. It helps some. Sunday night the boys and I drove south of Annapolis to watch the Redskins game with our friends down there. Thanks to the Gebbia's for looking out for us.

The holiday's are coming and we're looking forward to them but it will be incredibly difficult. The kids and I are going away for Thanksgiving. Not sure where. Just away somewhere. Hopefully Alex and I can come up with something that we all agree on.

I'll keep you updated if things change around here.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'Widowed'? No, That Box Can't Tell The Tale of a Heart

This article was in the Style section of yesterday's Washington Post. The same thing that happened to this woman also happened to me the other day when I was filling out some forms in a doctor's office. I sent her an email and asked for permission to put this on my blog.

By Tracy Grant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 22, 2007; C08

For our 10th wedding anniversary, he gave me a delicate gold bracelet that encased 35 perfect, tiny diamonds.

For our 20th anniversary later this week, I will bring 19 red roses and one white one to his grave. Nineteen for the years we had together; one for the promise of an eternity yet to come.

Please don't call me a widow. The word conjures images of an Italian grandmother in heavy black stockings, a lace mantilla and a heavy shawl. I am a 43-year-old working suburban mother of two. I don't look like anyone's vision of a widow. More important, I don't feel like one. Seven months have passed since he died and I feel as married as I ever have, maybe more so -- more committed to all the plans we had made together, whether for the toolshed in the back yard or for the 11-year-old boys now, inexplicably, absent their father.

I was first confronted with this idea that I was a widow, not in the hospital room where his body lay lifeless, his spirit already gone to a purer place; not following his casket down the aisle of the church; not the first night I tried to sleep alone in our bed. No, it was in an oral surgeon's office filling out new-patient forms.

There it was: "Marital Status," followed by four boxes and the letters M, S, D, W. I barely managed to ask the receptionist for the key to the ladies' room before the mind-numbing shock gave way to body-wracking sobs.

Till death do us part. By all legal, moral and spiritual definitions, my marriage is over.

We had loved each other through lots of good times, some not-so-good times, in sickness, oh yes in sickness, and in health. Yet, there is a part of me that still feels his presence in the home that he redecorated in the last days of his life, in the car he gave me for my 40th birthday, in the heart he stole the day I first met him 23 years ago.

The phenomenon of phantom pain is well-documented in people who lose limbs. They feel sensation -- even pain -- from arms or legs no longer there. Their suffering is real, sometimes excruciating. Mental health professionals describe the loss of a spouse as one of the most stressful events in a person's life. I know about phantom pain. Mine is not in my arm or leg but in my soul -- where a cannon blast has left a jagged hole that no prosthetic device can ever hope to repair.

I don't see my marriage so much as being over as being interrupted -- rudely and unexpectedly interrupted. Some will say this is an unhealthy attitude, that I'm trying to keep my husband alive, that I'm stuck in the past, that I'm not "moving on" with my life. There are well-meaning people who advise me to date, remove my wedding ring, color my hair.

Understand me: I am not pining for what I lost. In the worst days of those 19 years, we had more happiness than some people have in their entire lives. I did nothing in my life to deserve the goodness and sweetness we knew, so I refuse to curse the fates and say that I don't deserve the sadness that is now part of life. I move on when I walk the dog each morning, talk the boys through the latest middle-school crisis, take on a new challenge at work.

But I believe that while we love many people in our lives, each of us, if we're lucky, gets but one "love of my life." I have mine. He no longer shares my bed, but he will always share my heart. It is enough. It has to be.

When I fill out forms these days I leave "Marital Status" blank. There are some questions that simply can't be answered by checking a box.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


This is the scene that I was able to see on Saturday morning. After doing some juggling with the boys and dog I was able to have the whole day to myself and I went out on my good friend Danny's boat and went fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

My friend Rich (in the picture below holding the fish) from Rochester flew down on Friday and also went with us along with a few others as well. We were out until about 3pm and the weather was just wonderful. I haven't seen most of these guys since the day of Chrissy's funeral so it was nice to see them under different circumstances.

My in-laws took Tyler to their camp on Thursday and then I took Michael up there on Friday evening. I then drove to Danny's and spent the night there. Ray and Cheryl watched the dog and my day was set. I cannot begin to tell you how hard things have gotten being a single parent. It is just overwhelming at times juggling carpools and schedules with the 2 boys. Everyone has told me to tell them when I need help and I will. But at the same time I need to get adjusted to this as best as I can.

As you can see all the work paid off. We caught a bunch of fish and had a really nice time. Thanks to everyone for helping make it happen for me. I really needed the day away.

I was supposed to go and watch Alex's lacrosse team on Saturday but even she insisted that I go fishing. She understood completely. They did well without me being there!

This morning (Sunday) the boys and I got up early and went to 9am mass at church. After that we went to breakfast and then went to a pumpkin patch fundraiser at the church and bought some big pumpkins. One of the pumpkins is for Chris and I plan on taking it over to the cemetery in the next day or 2. The weather is getting cooler. This is Chris's favorite time of the year.

The boys are asleep and this is the hardest part of the day for me. This is the time that Chris and I used to sit back and just enjoy each other's company. I really miss that alot. I tend to just go upstairs and try to go to sleep now instead of staying up and watching tv. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it does not. I think Chris's passing is starting to settle in.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wild Tuesday...

Well I had to share my day today with everyone. It was pretty hectic but worthwhile.

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. Not typical for me to say the least. Especially since the boys had a 4-hour delayed school opening and since I went to sleep around 1:30! I don't know why but I woke up wide awake. I got up and something persuaded me to take a shower and clean up that early. Around 6:40 I left the house and went into Frederick for coffee. I generally always go to Beans and Bagels. I was there for about an hour and when I left I drove up and around the block and something made me go down the street that our church is located. As I was approaching it was about 7:50 and I saw the sign out front indicating that morning mass was at 8AM.

I don't know why but, again, something persuaded me to park the car down the street and and go to mass. Now, I'm not Catholic, and I've NEVER been to AM mass before but today I did. I went in and sat down in the 4th row. Me and a bunch of elderly people praying the rosary! After a few minutes the priest came out from behind the altar and guess who it was.......
Yup!!! FATHER WAYNE. Father Wayne was the priest that came to our house the day Chris died and gave a blessing and also presided over her service at the church and cemetery. We really love him and his teachings and were blessed to have him do her service.

After a few moments in church he saw me and a huge smile came over him. The mass was nice actually. Very quiet, no signing, choir, singing or any of that. It lasted about 30 minutes. Afterwards Father Wayne found me outside and we chatted for awhile. I told him I wasn't sure why I was there but after I saw him I knew why. Somebody wanted me to be there that morning for to listen and see him. I think we all know who!

Father Wayne is actually suffering from cancer himself and is going to chemo next week. I offered to go with him if he needed someone. I'm sure he has a long list but I sincerely wanted to help him out for all he did for us.

After church I walked to the car and kept walking. It was a nice morning and I was feeling pretty good. I walked a couple of miles in the downtown area of Frederick. It was great. I then went home and got started on some work and got the boys up and off to school.

At 2pm I had a meeting with a therapist. It was nice to chat with someone about what was going on. Me... I'm okay. Not great. Sad. Lonely at times. Busy. But I'm doing the right things and I keep making progress. Tough times are ahead I'm sure. I'm also concerned about the boys. Especially Michael. His grades are not anywhere near where they should be. The therapist said that boys need led at that age and that they are seeing me and looking at me for direction. It has been hard to show that direction but I'll start getting more in tuned with schoolwork and all that again.

At 4:45 I had 5 conferences with Michael's teachers for parent/teacher day. We worked out a plan for him to get his grades up to something acceptable. He's got a lot of work to get done in the next 2 weeks but he's already begun. I just hope that I can keep up with everything. Chris and I used to be "good cop bad cop". I would threaten them with bodily harm or injury and then she would come in and help with the homework. I have to do both now!!!! We'll all adjust I'm sure but it's so hard right now.

When I got home around 6:15 I went out and made one of our last "Let's Dish" dinners that came to us from COMSTAR. It was just wonderful and all I had to do was cook it on the grill. The boys and I then sat down to dinner and had a nice dinner. Chris's seat is empty and it's really hard to sit there and not think about her at the dinner table. Very similar to when Alex left for college. That was a hard adjustment for me as well.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I thought you all could use some casual reading. Take care and god bless. And please say a prayer for Father Wayne Funk at St. John's as he continues his cancer battle. Good night...


Sunday, October 14, 2007

End of the weekend.

Nothing new to report on the home front. Just keeping busy. Friday the boys and I went up to Thurmont to visit with Chrissy's parents. They have a trailer in a campground up there and went for the weekend. We got there around 4 and just sat around the campfire and had dinner until about 9pm! It was really nice. Tyler spent the night there and Mike and I went home.

Saturday night I took the boys to the Air and Space Museum (the one near the airport where the space shuttle is) and we saw the movie Transformers. The difference here is that it was on the IMAX screen! It was huge and fantastic. They had a great time.

Sunday I let the boys sleep in. I went to have coffee and then went to the cemetery for awhile. I need to start thinking about a headstone soon so I'll start getting some ideas for that soon. Today Tyler had confirmation class at 1 and also at 7. Michael had a lacrosse game at 1 and also has Youth group at 7 too. That leaves me home alone from about 6:30 to 8:30. Not sure if that's good or bad...

Aside from that I started getting back into work last week. It is so difficult to get back into the swing of things but I'm trying. I'm also, finally getting things in order on the financial side as well. What an undertaking... Health insurance is our #1 priority and I'm still looking at options.

This is a very busy week. I have parent/teacher conferences with all the boys teachers this week. I'm meeting with a grief counselor, and next weekend is Alex's lacrosse tournament. Stay tuned.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Moving along...

Yesterday I finally went out and played golf with a friend of mine. It was a beautiful day and it really helped to take my mind off of everything. We walked 18 holes and so it was good exercise too! When I got home the boys had finished up their homework so we decided to go out to Bushwaller's in Frederick for dinner. Michael really likes this place because Chris and I took him there about a year ago. It's an Irish pub/bar but has good food. We had a good meal and a good time.

I took the boys to the skateboard shop (pitcrew) after that. Tyler "needed" a new board so I helped him with that.
After that I asked the boys if they wanted to go to the cemetery. I needed to go by and water the huge mum I bought for Chris. They looked at each other and waited for the other one to say something. After a few seconds they said yes. We went over, got a watering can, filled it up and went to the site. This was the 1st time the boys had been there since Chris was buried. They did great. I did okay. I was more emotional for them than anything else. We stood there for a few minutes and just hugged each other next to Chris. We then watered the mum and walked around to look at headstones. We need to start that process pretty soon too and I want the boys to be involved. It started getting dark so we left around 7.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

22nd Anniversary

Well I finally made it. Friday was our 22nd wedding anniversary. What an incredibly difficult day it was. I let Michael sleep in on Friday and took him to school. I then went for coffee and a muffin (banana, thanks Rich @ B&B). After that I drove over to the cemetery and put up my chair, the same one we use for lacrosse games, and then sat quietly next to Chris for a couple of hours. I'm not going to lie to you, the grief sometimes just overwhelms me. I miss her so very, very much. Going to the cemetery allows me to get that grief out and then come back to the boys and be a little stronger. I hope it is working. I had a nice surprise on the porch when I came home. Chris's parents stopped by and left a pair of beautiful yellow mums in a nice basket for me.

Thursday I went down to COMSTAR to return some of the items that needed to get back to them. I had a nice visit with Lisa (CEO) and Marianne too. I didn't get a chance to go around and see everyone but I will. I promise. I did get to go into Chris's office and was immediately overcome. It looked just like it did the day she left back in mid-August. There are a lot of personal things there that I need to gather up but I was not able to do it that day. Lisa is also not able to do anything with the room at this point either so together we agreed to leave it as is for a while longer. Perhaps I'll bring the boys down one day to help me out. I did bring home a plant from her office so that Alex could have it back at school with her.

Alex came home this weekend on Friday for my anniversary. She and Jon (not a typo... no H) got here around 3 on Friday. After Michael came home we went out to Chris's favorite place for dinner, La Paz. The last time we were there was on August 16th with our friends from NY, Rich and Jill. It was not crowded on Friday since we were there early and we were seated in the best seats in the house. A nice dinner with the kids.

Saturday Tyler went to Hershey Park with some friends, Alex and J2 went to the University of MD football game and that left Mike and I at home. We decided to go to downtown Frederick's "In the Street" celebration. We had a good time together and did a little bonding. He is having a tough time coping with everything. But who isn't?

This morning we went to 9am mass at St John's and went to breakfast afterwards. We then took Mike to his lacrosse game and watched that. He scored another goal this week so he was proud of himself.

Alex left around 5. Tyler went to church for confirmation class. Mike went to church for youth group. That left me at home alone. Not what I like. So that's why I'm writing this for everyone!!! I guess it helps with some of the grieving. I don't know.

Thanks again to everyone for looking out for us and keeping in touch with us. I'll try to post more later this week.


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Thursday, October 4, 2007

"My First Job"

Each week the Frederick News Post runs a piece entitled "My First Job". It takes one person and interviews them about their 1st job and then progresses into how it helped them where they are today.

Back in August Chris was given the application by the paper. She filled it out near the end of August and submitted it without a picture. They were looking for a picture of her in the office from the pictures at COMSTAR. Unfortunately she never got a chance to send in that picture. I contacted the paper and was told by the FNP that they would not run the piece since she has passed away. I then asked for them to send me her responses so that I could have them to read. After reading them I felt that everyone should get a chance to see them so now I will publish Chris's responses here for everyone to see. Enjoy.

  • Name: Chris DeWitt
  • Age: 44
  • Graduated from: Montgomery Community College
  • Degree: Associate of Arts
  • First job: Working at the original Jimmie Cone in Damascus
  • Title of first job: Counterperson
  • How long did you hold that job? 3 years
  • What was the most important thing it taught you? If you’re willing, you can learn how to do a lot of things.
  • How did it contribute to where you are now? I feel I have always been willing to learn new things whether it’s part of my job or not.
  • What did you dislike most about your first job? Long lines on Sundays!
  • What do you tell your children or family about your first job? How I learned to clean machines, do inventory, schedule employees and add quickly without a calculator. And, of course, what my favorite ice cream and toppings were (chocolate with hot fudge).
  • What did you think about your job then? I loved it. I met a lot of people and got to eat ice cream every day.
  • What do you think about that experience now? I still think of it as a very positive experience. I became friends with the family that owned the Jimmie Cone and I always felt very appreciated as a worker.
  • What was the least important thing it taught you? While it seemed important at the time, I’ve never really found a use for being able to swirl ice cream just right on a cone.
  • If I could go back in time and give myself advice about my first job, this is what I’d say? Learn everything you can — it might be useful one day.
  • If I could go back and change anything, what would it be? Nothing.
  • What do you do now? I work for COMSTAR Federal Credit Union — my second job.
  • Title? Vice President of Operations
  • How long in that position? Were you in a different field before that? I have been with COMSTAR for 24 years and have been in a VP role for about 6 years.
  • As a high school senior, I wanted to be: An artist or landscape designer.
  • Favorite book, or types of books? Historical fiction or romance.
  • If a movie were made about my life, what kind of movie and who would the actor be that would play me? I have no idea!
  • Proudest accomplishment? My marriage and three children.
  • Favorite quote? Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark.
  • Favorite song or type of music? Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
  • What I love best and least about Frederick? Frederick has so many great little restaurants and shops to visit. What I like least is the traffic.
  • My business philosophy is: Don’t micro manage — let people do what they do best. Always be aware of what’s going on in the company even if it’s not your department or area of focus.
  • In my free time, I like to: Go to my kid’s sporting events, work in the garden, watch reality shows.
  • Best and worst investments I ever made? Best – my 401k.
  • Favorite time of the year? Autumn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Price is Right!

This picture came from Marianne while she and Chris were in Las Vegas back at the end of June.

They were getting ready to go to a stage show that was set up to be like the Price is Right gameshow. Chris called me and told me how much fun it was.

I thought I would share it with everyone. It shows her wonderful smile.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Parent's Weekend

FIRST: I uploaded all of the pictures that were used in the running DVD display at the funeral home during calling hours. The direct link is here.

Friday the boys and I drove up to Lycoming to visit Alex for Parent's Weekend. We got up there around 7pm and then immediately met Alex and Jon (no H) at Ichibahn for dinner.

The boys love having the Japanese Chef cook the food in front of us and especially like the fire and flames! After dinner Alex took the boys back to her dorm and I went to the hotel to rest.

Saturday we went to the football game. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining bright. After the game Alex's lax team had an intrasquad scrimmage. She played well. Later just me and kids had a quick dinner and the boys and I returned home. It was a long ride home. The boys watched a movie and I drove silently.

Sunday morning we all planned on sleeping in. No deal. I got up early. I went to the cemetery to visit Chris's grave site. I sat in the morning shade with her for about an hour.

Later Sunday, My in-laws and Chris's brothers and sisters came over to the house to visit. I cooked on the grill and made some other things for everyone to have. It was nice getting to see everyone again. Just not the same though. It'll take awhile to get used to not having Chris here for family events.