Saturday, December 31, 2016

Holiday recap & resolutions

The last week included Christmas, our 10th wedding anniversary, my 34th birthday and New Year's. These events were both more difficult and better than I imagined they would be in different ways. Overall I have been pretty miserable and sick. My job is a great, a very rewarding distraction and it has been really tough having so much time off all at once...hopefully by summer vacation I’ll be in a better place. It is also painful being so miserable around family that are celebratory and joyful which then becomes a negative cycle of guilt. I feel bad for being such a buzz kill which makes me withdraw from family and support. The Buhanans (Shar’s family) were easier to be around because they too were enduring a bitter sweet Christmas with loss. I hope the holidays in 2017 will be a little more joyful because JJ will be more able to appreciate them.

JJ and Santa Daddy
JJ and cousins Christmas morning 

Christmas was hard because I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. My family is too dang happy (a good problem to have I suppose) and I’m without my connection to the Buhanans. I want to be clear neither family purposefully made me feel this way. In fact they are all kind and loving it’s more a statement of where I am at. It was very bittersweet going through many of the family Christmas traditions without Shar. When it came to presents there were many thoughtful and emotional gifts tied to Shar for which I am very grateful.

Last year on our anniversary we took Trax (public transit in SLC) to the airport to fly to Hawaii

Our 10th wedding anniversary was the 28th. Last year on this day we were flying to Hawaii for our babymoon. This year, Sharry had been planning on doing a big housewarming party, vow renewal and a blessing for our baby. Obviously I couldn’t accomplish the first two having lost both but I for sure was set on doing the blessing. We had a large get together with all of the Deckers and Buhanans. I read Sharry’s “hopes and dreams” for JJ that she wrote on his due date and then I gave JJ an emotional baby blessing followed by root beer floats, one of Sharry’s favorite childhood treats. Afterward I headed to the cemetery where I planned to set up a tent and spend the night in below freezing weather. Everything was going to plan when I realized the zipper on the sleeping bag no longer worked. Luckily one of Shar’s brothers lives close and he was able to provide an even warmer bag. After meditating, talking and getting as warm as possible I fell asleep to coyotes yelping in the distance. It was kind of magical...magical and cold. I woke up at 2:22 to the voice of a police officer waking me. “Excuse me, excuse me. Are you related to anyone here?” I guess it’s not an unheard of practice! To which I responded more or less, “yes my wife and it’s our anniversary.” The officer left me with a “have a good night.” I woke up just before 8 AM to an iced over tent. The tent was stiff from the cold. I wished myself happy birthday and said goodbye to my sleeping baby girl.

Picture doesn't do justice to how stiff and icee the tent was!
I broke camp as quick as I could and headed to my first birthday event, a meeting with my therapist. In the past Shar, at my request, did not celebrate my birthdays but would skip them in favor of celebrating my half birthday in June nonetheless it is weird having a birthday without her. My counselor is amazing. I sincerely look forward to our bi-weekly visits where I feel welcome with love, understanding, insight and compassion. Later in the day my mom actually had purchased for me an appointment for a massage and energy work. It was a very relaxing and rewarding experience. My mom made my very favorite meal veggie lasagna and I opened more amazing #livelikeShar presents.

Where Shar and I were New Year's Eve 2016, on the beach in Hawaii (the last time that tent was used until the cemetery), making big plans for the coming year. )o:
New Years at one point was the event I was most looking forward to but unfortunately I switched something negative in my brain and now I can’t shake it. For a while I was mentally preparing to kiss the shitty 2016 farewell forever and move onto better things. But then a couple of days ago I thought to myself, what better things?!? The first half of 2016 was great and so full of promise and excitement. Shar and I were anxiously awaiting a new baby, new house and working toward President Bernie Sanders. Instead the worst case scenario across the board came to fruition. So it’s true that the second half of 2016 was gut wrenchingly bad but 2017 is the year I have to live with what 2016 brought. A full year without my soul mate.

Of course I am not quite entirely helpless in this situation and as such I am trying to adopt Sharry’s love for lists, goals and resolutions even in my sadness and misery. To begin with I want to share Shar’s 2016 resolutions for inspiration

2016 Mantra:
It’s better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.
-Confucius  ❤❤❤

1 Have a happy, healthy baby boy
2 Read! (40+ books)
3 Write 1 letter to the editor per month about climate change and the exploitation of the Earth
4 Write my memoir daily
5 Get a job/internship/ or volunteer with an environmental nonprofit (note: mantra)
6 Host a beautiful baby blessing, 10 year wedding anniversary celebration
7 Write more thank you notes, call more people to cheer them up, find ways I can show gratitude and love more
8 Have a fabulous 30th birthday

My 2017 stuff. Steal/copy her mantra. Light a candle in my darkness.
1 Face my fears head on. A full year without Shar and a new president, who to me, is a bit anxiety inducing.
2 Write a children’s book and get it published. My general theme going in is about a boy and his angel mama...lots of material!
3 Volunteer with hospice
4 Meditate at least 5 days a week for 10+ minutes.
5 Study spiritual texts (Bible, Book of Mormon, Dhammapada and contemporary writings) daily
6 Become a Christian mystic on the path to becoming a Bodhisattva
mystic = N. a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.
Bodhisattva= N. a person who has attained prajna, or Enlightenment, but who postpones Nirvana in order to help others to attain Enlightenment)

Fingers crossed that 2017 will be a year of increasing compassion in suffering, savoring JJ’s milestones and health, and finding light, wisdom and a measure of peace.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Circle of saving...and babies

Sharry saved JJ and JJ saved(s) me.
I really believe that Sharry saved her baby boy. For 9 months of pregnancy she did all that she could to take care of her new beloved little baby. She took vitamins, ate extra healthy, drank lots, and even wore a breathing mask outside during the bad air days in Salt Lake. She talked to him, sang to him and rubbed her belly even as he was providing her with swollen feet, heartburn and jutting out baby parts. On his birthday, 6/16/16, when the freak tragedy of amniotic fluid embolism struck, Sharry’s life was taken but his was not. According to the Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation mortality rates for infants in the womb are as high as 65% and out of those 45% that survive the rates of neurologic impairment can be very high. So far JJ is outperforming all of the specialists’ early fears. I believe Sharry did all in her power (on both sides of the veil) to make sure that her baby boy would be ok.

Our 2015 Christmas Card photo

The oldest Christmas card photo...that I could find on my computer
JJ saved and continues to save me now and into the future. If he had not survived there would have been a very high likelihood that I either would have ended my life or lost myself to insanity. JJ provides so much meaning and love in my be totally honest he provides a lot of stress, frustration, sleepless nights AND love, joy, laughter and meaning. One friend recently pointed out that he is a living hug from Sharry to me. I owe my life to baby JJ and he owes his life to his angel mama.

Now I need to dedicate my life to saving others through the BD3 family goal of bringing greater compassion and love to the world. I am blessed with a wealth of inspiration. I have the memories of Shar’s life and passion, her words and legacy. I am also inspired by three babies in this season of Christmas.

I turn to baby Jesus for faith and to find the Christ heart in me and all, learning to love as he did and to help bring the kingdom of heaven here to Earth. This holiday season the babe born in a manger who grew to be the man of sorrows, the Christ/Messiah is a light in my life and a beacon of hope for a better world here and a forever family in the next.

Maya Devi and Buddha's birth
I look to baby Siddhartha to guide me to my own Buddha mind that can bring insight, wisdom and compassion in suffering. The legend says that when his mom conceived she was told from a dream that her child would go on to be a great powerful military leader who conquered the world or a sage who brought enlightenment to all living beings. He grew up to become “The Buddha” or awakened one.

JJ shows me the future and hope. Despite all my depression, grief, loss and sadness he brings light, love and a future with at least one thing to believe in.

Merry Christmas and good riddance 2016!

St George Decker fam visiting a Santa at Uncle Justin's work
JJ and Santa Daddy

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jealous of John Lennon (grief @ 6 months)

Grief at six months.
Sad and tired much of the time.
Grief comes in waves and all forecasts predict I need to brace for a big one.
Not at all looking forward to the two weeks off for the holidays. It means time away from my fulfilling and distracting job with students and people I love. It means facing head on Christmas, our 10th wedding anniversary, my 34th birthday and New Year’s without Shar.

Grief can physically hurt.
I have been prone to ear infections my entire life, specifically in my right ear. I recently had an extremely rough one and when I did some self analysis to figure out what may have caused it, I had to laugh at the ridiculousness, sadness and stupidity of it all. Often grief knocks most poignantly at night right before bed. Until recently I would sometimes lay in bed, reading, writing and/or praying/lamenting to God and Shar with tears running down my face and pooling in my ears.
Lesson learned. Do not let grief and gravity team up.

Grief can scare you with a smile in your dreams.
The other night I dreamt JJ died of SIDS. I was crushed, defeated, life (or death) had won. I found a tall cliff made of red rocks and jumped off. As I fell through the air I had a giant smile on my face because I just knew Shar, JJ and I (the BD3) were going to be together again. I woke up with a large grin that immediately collapsed into a fearful sadness with the thought of losing JJ in anyway.

Grief can strike from unexpected places.
I recently was visiting the cemetery at night as I am prone to do (I like going at night because I get it all to myself), talking to Shar about random musings about the “spirit world” when I asked her if she had met some of her favorite dead people. For whatever reason I was specifically curious about John Lennon. Sharry and I used to weirdly joke that she was John Lennon reincarnated and I was Janis Joplin. So I was asking Shar if she had had the opportunity to hang out with a real life Beatle (or two) and I was imagining this happening, Sharry hanging out with John Lennon playing heavenly music together. At first I was comforted by this idea. But then I became intensely and emotionally jealous. Not that Sharry got to meet Mr Lennon, but rather that he got to hang out with her. I became angry with tears running down my face thinking bitterly to myself (but not believing) that “George is better anyway”.

Visiting the Johns Lennon memorial in Central Park 3 years ago
Grief at six months is less numbing and less constant yet like a new friend it is something I've grown accustomed to. Some of the by-products of my new companion include being less happy go lucky, joyful, optimistic and carefree; yet more contemplative, prayerful and compassionate. It's not all bad, just mostly. I still ache daily for Shar...and maybe that will never change.

Thank God (sincerely) for family and compassionate people. If you are somebody that has reached out with kind words or generous actions. Thank you. My family and I’m sure Sharry thank you. I am very fortunate to have JJ, the Deckers and Buhanans. They will help me survive the holidays even though I don’t feel like I quite “fit in” this life anymore. I imagine next year will be a bit easier as JJ will somewhat be able to appreciate santa, presents, tinsel and lights.

Cold walk and Christmas lights

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Journal just for me

Day 177

For Winter Solstice 2014 Sharry gave me a beautiful gift of a journal just for me.
She wrote sporadic notes for me to find and I was not allowed to write in it. She was so loving, creative and thoughtful. I miss her so incredibly deeply.  
FYI feel free to steal this idea for your SO. Here is a smattering of highlights I would like to share with my minimal thoughts in red. #LoveSharred

The journal opens essentially with this blog post followed by:

So yeah. I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking about whatever happens to you and I. Or maybe just me or you. Whatever happens in this life, I would like our future kids, and you, and Lola...and the universe. I would like the universe to know how much I love you and all the regular, everyday things that make our love so deep and full of magic. So I’m going to use this journal to write you love notes and then leave them for you to read. But I don’t want you to write back. At least not on these pages. Because I want this to be just for you. An eternal reminder of how much I cared for you. And how blessed I am to have you in my life.
I will never forget her love for me but I am so profoundly grateful for notes like these to remind me!
Love you always, Sharry 12/21/14
Happy Winter Solstice

Dear Bubby,
I love you so much. I love sleeping next to you and hearing your deep breaths. I love feeling your warm soft skin and watching your eyes flick open in the morning. I love your beautiful smile lines and I love the way you look at me. Some day, our bodies will probably ache, our skin will sag and wrinkle, and our minds will become forgetful. Before we start to fade away and decay, I just want you to know that I love every part of you. You are my other half. My soul mate. My eternal companion. You are the love of my life. Here’s to another year of love and struggle. I love you with all my heart. Happy 2015!

Dear Jared,
I wake up today thinking about how much I love you. I do that many days, but today I wrote it down. Love Sharry.

You are the silliest person I have ever met. And I love it. - Sharry
She was pretty dang silly too

Dear Jared,
The other day, you were reading some book about happiness something or other. I thought how well the two of you look together, Jare and happiness. -Sharry

Dear Jared,
Does it seem strange to you that even after 10 years together and 8 years of marriage, I am still so completely in love with you? Does it seem strange that I think about what you are doing and when we’ll get to be together again, every time we are separated? Does it seem strange that I sit around and think about all of the good qualities you have, and sometimes get jealous and wish I could be more like you? Does it seem strange that whenever something good happens to me I can’t wait to tell you, and anytime something bad happens to me I can’t wait to tell you? This is was entirely reciprocated. I still to this day can’t wait to tell her events from my day and long to be with her every moment away from work.

You are loving. You are reliable. You are fun, and funny, and forgiving. My life is so blessed because of you. -Sharry

“Unable are the loved to die, for live is immortality.” -Emily Dickinson

Dear Jared,
It’s pretty much impossible to make any plans for the future. I’ve been trying to plan out babies and houses, and hikes and let’s face it I have a lousy track record. But the one thing I know I can always plan on is you.
Love you forever -Sharry

This was immediately followed by this gem haha

Dear Jared,
You are one selfish jerk sometimes But i Still love you. -Sharry

One of the last entries

I love you baby boy. From a beautiful blue dot in the universe into eternity. You are home to me. -Sharry

I share these entries and our love because I think love when shared can generate love and gratitude in me and hopefully others.

JJ’s 6 month birthday is this Friday, crazy!
Grandma teaching JJ about her brown sugar...not really but a straw at least (o:
Playing with his daddy's favorite holiday drink

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sharry, A Brave Woman

I recently received a very thoughtful gift from a kind and generous new friend who I have yet to meet in person. She sent me a set of cards entitled “We Brave Women”. I know Shar would have loved these and I do as well! Sharry was very much a feminist and inspired me to own that title as well as we both worked toward social justice and equality for women. This set of cards highlights 60 courageous women throughout history with diverse backgrounds and historical significance. They are hand drawn with bios on the back.

Some of Shar’s faves would definitely be Mother Teresa, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickinson, Jane Goodall (who we were lucky enough to see last year at the parliament of world religions) and Georgia O’keefe. Sharry was always looking toward influential female artists, writers, activists for her own inspiration. One card chooses to focus more generally on mothers. Sharry and I were incredibly blessed with kind, thoughtful, intelligent and loving moms that have continued their goodness to their grandson. Sharry would have been an amazing mom.

One specific thing about this gift immediately brought me to tears. My friend had used her artistic ability to make a brave woman card of Sharry! I LOVE it so so much. She also told me that she purposefully left the back blank so that I can fill in her bio and what made her brave! So that is what I have chosen to do in this post.

Sharry Buhanan-Decker
August 11, 1986 - June 16, 2016
Born: St George, Utah

Sharry lived a life of creativity, passion, love and goodness. She lived her life with her heart on her sleeve caring deeply for all living things especially the small, hurt and forgotten.
Sharry brought beauty to the Earth through her visual art, written words, music and presence.
She longed to be connected to nature and to “get back to the garden” which she did through hiking, camping and having a mindful poet’s eye.
Sharry was courageous in speaking up to power and fighting for the rights of all living things. She did this by participating in and leading protests, marches and strove to be an ongoing activist. She could only work in jobs that she found worthwhile for improving the state of others.
Sharry taught us all what really matters in life; experiences, relationships, art, life and to be involved in causes greater than yourself. The world is a better place thanks to Sharry Buhanan-Decker and other brave women like her. #LivelikeShar