Can’t Buy THAT Online

Back in my real world, when Ben existed, he managed all the money and did so with quite a bit of success.  He was very good at investing and made some smart moves when it came to stock picks (although it was I who insisted on purchasing Lululemon shares and I who insisted on purchasing FB shares).  When he was alive I didn’t think he was that great at sticking within a budget, but now that I have to do it I understand that it is not quite as easy as it sounds.

I have also discovered that my main vice / coping mechanism since Ben died is to try to buy myself happy.  In my mind I can hear an advertising voice asking the questions:

(Insert deep, rhythmic announcers voice here)

Are you sad because Ben isn’t here to help pull out the Christmas tree?  Well why not buy yourself some new shoes that will sit in the closet to help ease that pain? 

Are you climbing into bed alone for the six hundred and seventieth night in a row, wondering how you will cope when your practically adult children all fly the coop?  A little online shopping before falling asleep will probably make you feel better.  

Do  you find yourself less than inclined to cook because it was your husband’s job and he did it so well?   You should just go to a restaurant and buy your dinner. 

Are you worried sick about your upcoming surgery and the fact that Christmas is coming but you will be laid up with little time for shopping?  Why not just run out and spend copious amounts of money on the kids without thinking about it or looking for a good deal?

Sigh.

I wonder how many people develop addictions when their spouse dies?  When they find themselves staring at the empty chair, or wondering who in the world besides themselves  still thinks about their spouse,  how many turn to booze or drugs to ease that pain?  Or shopping.  It’s all the same, I suppose.

Christmas is coming.  Again.  I remember just before The Last Christmas I said to Ben, “What if this is our last Christmas?” and he cut me off before I finished speaking the last word and cried out “It won’t be.  It won’t be.”

But it was.

Another year has come and gone, and on countless occasions I have turned to him to tell him something and found empty air.  Empty air.  Another 365 days have passed in which he doesn’t know what is happening with the kids.  Another 365 days where I haven’t had anyone to turn to when they’ve made stupid life choices that could have serious repercussions in the future.  Another 365 days without a shoulder to lean on.

And so I have shopped.  As it turns out, it doesn’t help, but it sure does leave me broke.

I have met people who lost everything when their spouse died.  I lost my heart when Ben died, because Ben was my heart, but I didn’t lose our house, or the ability to provide life’s necessities to my kids,  send them to school, pay for their sports, or even lay hardwood floors in my home.  I lost everything that meant something to my heart, but I did not lose everything.  I know people who lost their homes, were forced to move, downsize, wonder how they would find the money to repair their vehicle or if they could even afford to keep one at all.  EVERYTHING.  So I fully understand how obnoxious it would sound to one of those people to hear me complaining about a need to control my spending when it comes to shoes, eating out and decorating my house.  I get it, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

I am scared.  I’m scared of the fact that I can’t seem to figure out how to fill the empty air around me.  I suppose I should be somewhat relieved that I’m not filling that empty air with booze or drugs (although Justin Trudeau says it will be legal in 8 short months), but I do need to fill it with something more than shopping. I’m not talking about filling my time … I fill my time just fine.  I mean the air.  The space.  There’s a difference.

I need an adult to talk to.  I need hugs.  I need a shoulder to lean on.  I need my person. Apparently they don’t sell that online, but I sure keep looking.

Don’t Take The Boy

Last Monday was just an average day. I had some running around to do and appointments to attend. A pre Vegas hair colour, a dentist appointment… that sort of thing. Nothing too crazy or anxiety inducing, and the panic I tend to experience on the daily remained at a reasonable low for the most part.

I ended the day by attending a relaxing yoga class with a friend of mine. It was exactly what I needed to wind down and I was well on my way to feeling the zen when, for no reason at all, a most unwelcome memory popped into my mind.

The memory was one I have written about before, of a text Ben sent me from the hospital shortly before he died. Death was inevitable and it coming fast, and every moment felt like we were staring down the barrel of a shotgun. I had spent the entire day with him and had gone home in the middle of the night to be with the kids and make sure they were safe. I crawled into bed, texted Ben “I love you” and he texted back saying “I don’t want to die.  I have so much to live for.”

At that moment I felt as though my heart had been ripped out of my chest and thrown across the room. I texted back and told him that I didn’t want him to die, but i did not say “You aren’t going to die.” To deny his pending death seemed wrong to me. It just seemed so dismissive to say “oh, don’t be silly…you aren’t going to die.” He was indeed going to die.  So many people had spent the nine months after his diagnosis in denial, and that had angered me to no end. There was nothing helpful about denying what was to come, because denial has not been proven to be an effective method of curing cancer. So instead I told him that he was leaving a legacy in his three kids. And he responded that “legacy or not” he still didn’t want to die, he wanted to fight. He didn’t want to die.

legacy.jpg

Ben died eight days later, and my mind still cannot fathom how we could be texting on January 5th and yet he was dead on the 13th.

And oh my God, that moment in time is one of the most agonizing memories I have. It will never leave me. It is burned into my memory permanently and will remain there until the day I die. Maybe longer. It is nothing short of torturous to remember that My Ben lay in the hospital not wanting to die and when he told me, I couldn’t help him. I look back on that text now and think “what the fuck was I thinking?” Why didn’t I go back? Why didn’t I crawl into that hospital bed with him, wrap my arms around him and tell him I didn’t want him to die? Beg him to please not leave me?

I know why. The inevitability of his death had become my norm. I was exhausted. Achingly exhausted. It was 4:43 am and I had been with him all day and half the night. I had kids at home that needed to be cared for, and my body cried out for sleep. I was so fucking tired. But none of that matters. It doesn’t matter how tired I was, or how much I was needed at home. All that matters is that I did not go back to him in that moment. I offered to but he said “no” and so I didn’t. How could I not go back? How could I leave him all alone with those thoughts? I would NEVER want to be alone with those thoughts, that fear, that pain. All alone in the hospital.

I hate myself when I recall that night, and those are the types of thoughts and memories that invade my mind space at the most inconvenient of times. For anyone who believes that “time heals all wounds,” you should know that is far from the truth. As long as you have the ability to remember, not even time can heal a pain so great. I don’t go seeking those particularly painful memories, but they come and find me at the most inopportune moments and they take my breath away. They make me cry. They make me feel like it is happening all over again. They make me feel like a terrible wife, and a less than adequate human. They make me want a do over. I want a do over.

When we left yoga on Monday night we pulled out of the parking lot and a song that Ben and I used to listen to almost 25 years ago came on the radio. “Don’t Take The Girl” by Tim McGraw. 1994. (click here to listen.) I remember listening to it with him 100 times, and then we stopped listening to country music and I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard it since. And there it was, suddenly playing on the radio in 2017 and I was transported right back to 1994. Back to when Ben was a boy, and I was a girl, and our lives stretched out endlessly before us.

Now it’s 2017 and the girl wasn’t taken but the boy was. I miss that boy, and the memories hurt me and haunt me. His pain ended, but mine did not.

I am finishing this blog post on a flight home from Vegas, and I feel that familiar panic coming over me. It is taking every ounce of my strength to not scream out loud that Ben Saint-Onge once existed and that he didn’t want to die. I want to feel Ben’s calming presence and I want to hear his voice talk me down from this ledge, but instead I am alone on this plane beside a stranger taking up too much of my breathing room, trying to calm myself.

I didn’t want that boy to be taken. I want him back.