Monday, November 21, 2016

It just hurts

Grief is one of those things that hurts SO much and then the hurt wanes over time.  But it comes back with avengence as you move along the continum of grief.  I am 15 months into the loss of my husband.  FIFTEEN MONTHS.  I can hardly breathe today.  People say the holidays are hard, and they are, I am not denying that, but Thanksgiving wasn't a huge tradition at our house.  We did some things a few  years in a row, then we did others.  It is the mere absence of him that is painful, but not just this week, every single day.  With every single breath.

I recently received the proof for the headstone of my husband...I had planned the epitath, I chose the stone, I visited the stuido where it will be hand carved.  But to see that full size proof of the headstone?  Well suffice it to say I don't wish that punch in the gut on anyone.  Ever.

I am blessed to have support this far in my grief as I have heard countless stories from other widows whose friends dissapeared or their family just doesn't want to listen to it any more.  I feel so blessed for my friends and family.  I am even more blessed to be part of a wonderful bereavement group with others who have suffered a loss of this magnitude.  They get it.  They get all of it.  Because you see, there are many of us who were done growing their families, many who had dreamed of having more children with their partners, many of us lost a child, or a parent.  Many of us who were divorced when our partners died.  The common denominator for all is the pain.  The ebb and flow of our new reality, in which there remains this gaping hole.  A hole so large that you wonder if it will ever grow smaller.  Some days it is smaller, other days you are thrown so far back into the depth of despair, you cannot climb out.

I recently visited my doctor, my provider had retired, so this person was new to me.  I have always gotten on the scale backwards and educated the one taking the data, "it is not discussed."  I had not been to this office since my husband died.  My weight gain is significant as I have learned that I take comfort in eating specific foods, none of which are vegetables or salad.  The new provider encouraged me to try Weight Watchers, a program that I have had previous success on.  But I am not there.  Will I get there, probably, but I am not there yet.  Solo parenting and working full time and grieving and honoring the memory of my husband takes up a lot of time.  Not to mention getting kids to where they need to be for sports, appointments, social activities, etc.  I am tired.  A lot.  Would I feel better if I were to exercise, probably.  But I am not there yet.  Would he encourage me to get out for a mind clearing walk and to start running again, without question.  But I belive that he understands that I am just not there yet.  And I do believe that is his here with us.  I believe his love for me and our children continues, just as our love for him continues.

I am still wearing my rings and don't see that changing anytime soon.  Many have suggested that I will find a new partner.  Well that isn't in my short term life plan.  I am a mother and was a wife.  One of those is no longer, however, when I became a mother I knew that my life was no longer about me, we knew that it was about us.  That they and our relationship with eachother came first.  My job as mother is even more important now as we navigate this loss as a family.  It is my job to be available, as much as I can be, emotionally for each of their souls.  It is my job to ensure our finances are sound and that they have positive experiences.  So will I find or ever want a new partner?  Not right now.  One thing is for sure, life is full of surprises, good and bad and for now. we continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Jeremy Eschelbacher, you are loved,  you are missed and you are cherished.  For all the days of my life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


This is so good and it comes from Dean Koontz's book, Odd Hours.  But it is so full of truth.

“Grief can destroy you --or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time, you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

Monday, April 11, 2016

He is gone...

It seems redundant to say it, but the heart ache and the reality of his absence are intertwined with denial.  It protects the mind from insanity.  How can he be gone?  Why is he gone?  He was here, he was real and he was ours.

The children have all been seen by a pediatric cardiologist, their hearts have been cleared for form and function.  Next step is the older three will have two blood tests.  One is a standard lipid panel test and the other checks the level of lipoprotein (a).  This test, is not a test that is performed routinely, and will show the levels of the "sticky" kind of lipoprotein/cholesterol.  They are testing the kids for this as it is a hereditary condition that leads to early death due to coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.  This test would have provided my husband's doctors with more information than the standard lipid/cholesterol test, and would have likely saved his life.  Jeremy's lipid/cholesterol tests were text book as such he did not fall into any high risk category.  But this test will help so many other people, if they know about the test.

There is a foundation that is helping with education and awareness.  Ask your doctor for the test, tell your loved ones about the test, if one person's life can be helped by this test, then we have done our job.  It is too late for my husband, but it may not be for you or your loved ones.   And we will know how or if I need to manage my children's health.

The Cape Cod Marathon fall of 2013.  He did great and had a wonderful cheering section!!!

What I have found in my grief journey is that time and life just keep rolling along.  It is the way of life I suppose.  We keep loving and living and crying and laughing and missing him.  We were so very blessed and so very loved.  <3 p="">

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hearts filled with love

My husband was a smoker, but had quit 5 or 6 years ago.  He began running in 2011 and was training for a 50k before his death.  He had a physical in September 2014 and was told he was in great shape and he didn't need to be seen for two years. He was a vegetarian and his only vice was caffeine. He carried water on his runs and always stopped for fill ups during long runs.

My husband died of a massive heart attack that was caused by 99% blockage of the left anterior descending coronary artery.  This type of blockage and heart attack is called the Widow Maker.

What I have learned is he had asymptomatic coronary heart disease and that it had been going on for decades.  Running 17 miles on Saturday and 10 miles on the Sunday prior to his sudden death on Monday leaves us all stunned.  How can someone with that level of blockage do that?

It also makes me angry that his body betrayed him, that his body gave us no clues, that he was classified as low risk, as such none of the tests routinely done would have revealed anything.  All his blood work was text book within normal limits.

So we keep putting one foot in front of the other. And our children will now be classified as high risk and will do everything I can to ensure they all live to ripe old ages.

My heart is filled with sorrow but overflows with so much love.  Jeremy Eschelbacher, my husband, loved me with all of his broken heart, of this I am sure.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

One month ago today...

One month today, Jer died.  Prior to his death he had taken on our largest renovation project to date. He tore down the breezeway, single handedly.  Then he rented a jack hammer and tore out the cement steps, dug a hole for the foundation, shot lines and ensured that the measurements were accurate. Measure twice, cut once.

We took a mini vacation with the family and he had planned to order the gravel for the foundation upon our return home.  With one week left in summer, he hoped to bang it out and then frame over the weekends, to get it enclosed by the fall.

But he died.

If you know how things work when you do them yourselves, it is much less expensive than if you had to pay people to do the work.  Jeremy's colleagues approached me and asked if they could set up a GoFundMe to enable us to finish the project.  We are 2/3 of the way there.

Go Fund Me for Our Family

Monday, September 7, 2015


It has been 21 days since Jeremy died.  Those words still make me sick to my stomach.  The sorrow is so deep and the tears are endless.  His birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, 45.  He loved to point out that I was older and most of the time two years older.  He really was the best.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Death by Henry Holland Scott

My sister received this from a good friend of hers the other day and shared it with me.  It gives me so much comfort.

“Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well. ”

― Henry Scott Holland

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My love and his love

Summer 2014, I took the above picture while catching up to them.

Summer 2014.  He took the above picture while catching up with us.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

My love

Jeremy Eschelbacher, my husband, my love, my life, my world.  Jeremy Eschelbacher, the love of our lives, the glue, the doer, the supporter, the runner, the real deal.   Jeremy Eschelbacher, the father of our four children, the teacher, the fixer, the friend, the coach.  Died.

In hindsight, this year has been full of so many blessings.  And as usual, we had many laughs.  We rarely fought and we were meant for each other.  I do not know if I will ever understand why my husband had to die, but I have no regrets.  Nothing was left unsaid.  We were the number one in his life, and there was never ever any doubt where our family stood in his priorities.

As our family begins this unimaginable journey, we are surrounded by a community of people who are walking with us, side by side, right next to us.  Every minute that ticks by I get farther and farther from him, but the love will not die.

I wake in the night and feel the tightness in my stomach, the butterflies move up my into my chest and down my arms.  And then I smile...I say his name, "Jer," and then I feel him.  I was so loved. The tears flow, but so do the smiles.  The grief is ugly and it is real and it hits hard.

I have met people whose father died when they were young.  I have met people whose spouses have died.  I cling to their stories.

One foot in front of the other and repeat.

Monday, June 23, 2014

You are not broken

Tonight was 5th grade recognition.  She was not recognized for any award, she received two certificates.  But no recognition.  She shared with us a few weeks ago that they had to self identify awards and then share reasons they felt they were eligible to receive the award.  I was impressed that she chose the service award and doubly impressed with what she chose as her supporting evidence.  She wrote about some of the things she has done at church to raise money for a cow for an orphanage in India, she wrote about caring for animals for various friends in town. We prepared her for the likelihood that she wouldn't win, because she has a propensity to set expectations and be summarily devastated.  And tonight it happened.  And she was poised while holding herself together better than I ever could.  I was proud, she was cut to the core.

She started at the school as a pre-schooler, in the fall of 2007.  She has had many ups and downs along the way, but last summer we finally came to the realization that in addition to her ADD that she also has anxiety. These are super tough things to handle as grown ups but my kid?  My kid has been working on facing her fears on Saturday mornings for almost a year.  She doesn't like to play group sports, she tries things and then peters out.  She does not have many friends.  She is a kind soul and like the rest of the world, is just trying to figure it all out.

It is hard is hard to be her is hard to be her dad...and most of all it is hard to be her! She gets up every day and uses strategies to pay attention and uses strategies to keep her anxiety in check. She is very smart and loves to read.  She likes science and her bravery amazes me! This summer she is going to a camp where she knows no one and will ride a boat every morning and night to get to the camp. She  overcame much of her worries and got up on stage in three different shows for a concert at her school this past week.  She is the first kid to get up and go sit with the kid who is alone at the lunch table.  She is the first one to console a friend.  But she received no recognition.

So I got to thinking...what is all this recognition about?  Great at sports?  Clap loud.  Good in art? WAHOO!  Orate well?  There's a prize for that.  Played in the band for two years?  What about the first year?  But what about all the kids, mine included, who are simply hanging on to get through the day.  What about the kids who worry until they are sick, what about the kids who expend all of their energy simply to pay attention to what is being taught?  What about the kids who can't read social cues?  What about the kids who are left behind, the ones who go unnoticed?  What about recognizing those kids?  I think it is time to rethink what we are recognizing our children for.

I would like to award her the biggest award for SHOWING UP.  Every day she shows up and gives it her all, and it is hard.  I would like to give her an award for doing her best when every day it is way easier to just throw her hands up and walk away.  Her mountain is a lot taller to climb than many of us and that is what I want to be recognized.

So to our sweet girl, you went without recognition tonight and it was painful for you, but we recognize all that you do and all that you are and you are loved beyond all measure.  Tonight it stinks for you and I promise you, it will get better.