Missing Those Hugs

I wrote this post a few days ago when all of this took place, but debated until now whether or not to actually publish it.  I don’t want people getting all freaked out and thinking I’m not coping.  I am coping.  Writing helps.  So please remember that I generally write as a means to get through something that is happening at the moment, and by the time you read it the problem has passed.  Which is exactly what happened in this case.  I. Am. Fine.

Here’s the post I wrote in the middle of the night:


I think I must be the only person in the world to experience anxiety attacks while I am actually asleep. Seriously. It can be 4 am and I can be in the middle of what I would hope to be a solid 8 hours, when suddenly I find myself awake and gasping for air. Gasping. No joke.

Such was the case this early morning around 4 am. I woke up suddenly with a tight chest and a disconcerting inability to take in air no matter how hard I tried to inhale deeply through my nose AND mouth. Technically I was able to get the air in, but it just didn’t feel like it was enough and that sent me into panic mode.  By 5am I was trying to sleep sitting up in the hopes that it would help me breathe. By 6:20 am (the current time right now as I write this) I am in two Ativan deep and soaking in a tub while trying to talk myself down from the proverbial ledge.

I have no idea why this happens to me.

Someone reading this post right now is probably shaking their head and saying “Seriously? You watched your husband fade from the strongest man in the world … a TITAN … to a mere shell of his former self in nine short months. You seriously don’t know why you have panic attacks?” All that is true, for sure, but I don’t really think that’s the whole reason.

After many months of soul searching I think it’s a combination of three things … the nightmares I continue to have about work that unfortunately did not fade with retirement, the constant memories of the real life nightmare I lived through while Ben was sick, and the fact that there is actually something wrong with my nose (medically) that inhibits my breathing at times. I’m having the nose issue surgically corrected soon (leading to a whole different set of anxiety issues) but the other two reasons, well, they are a bit trickier to deal with.  If anyone out there has any answers, do send them my way.

I’ve done everything that is reasonably possible for someone to do and still this anxiety wakes me up and keeps me up. I hate it. In an attempt to cope over the years I have spent time in a yoga studio, I’ve exercised, I’ve seen a psychologist, I’ve tried golf (I heard that it was a relaxing sport and might calm my mind while I focussed) and I’ve also tried shopping (that is the most enjoyable solution), drinking copious amounts of wine and downing Ativan when necessary.  (I don’t combine the Ativan with wine, so no worries there).  And of course, sometimes I write.  And when all of those things fail I go on a full frenzy around the house – cleaning, reorganizing, moving furniture.

Such was the case last evening as I felt the anxiety coming on and I decided that it was urgently important to start moving furniture right at that moment. And I don’t mean “move furniture” in the way you probably imagine I that mean it. I’m not talking about sliding a chair and a couch around to see which looks better in the limited spaces I have. I mean I MOVED furniture. I physically moved a love seat and two chairs straight out of the house and into the garage. (My car has lost it’s home). I moved one full sized chair from the basement (where my son had struggled to place it a mere few hours earlier) all the way back upstairs, and I lugged it’s mate back in from the garage to sit beside it. I moved a coffee table and a rug out into the garage and I carried a very heavy trunk all the way to the basement from the top floor. I hung pictures, I moved pictures, and I hung more pictures. It was exhausting and I was dripping in sweat, not to mention having to endure the death stares of daughter #2 because her friend Liam was the “lucky” person who happened to be here at the time this urge struck and he “volunteered” to help me. (You didn’t think I did all that alone, did you? Not possible). Yes, they were right in the middle of watching a movie and enjoying their own down time when he “volunteered”, but when Anxiety comes a knockin’ one has to do what one has to do to keep it at bay. And this mama needed to move herself some furniture.


Unfortunately the moving plan was a partial fail.  I say partial because the living room now looks lovely, but it didn’t send Anxiety packing. I was left dripping in sweat and exhausted yet apparently unable to sleep, so that part was clearly a fail. Liam is likely at home right now wondering why he ever thought it was a good idea to try to spend a quiet evening at the Saint-Onge’s.

Having been awoken at this ungodly hour, my final idea of the night was threefold. It involved the aforementioned ativan, this trip to the tub and the writing of this blog post while I soak. That combination may have had some effect … my eyes are currently getting droopy and if I leave the tub now I may actually be able to catch a few quick zzzzz’s. And quick it will be, since it is now 7:06 am and I am due to be up shortly. (Insert tired sigh here.)

You know what would have worked for me right from the very start? A hug from Ben. It didn’t even need to be a good one … it could have just been one of those “I’m tolerating your crazy and I want to sleep so I will hug you if it helps” kind of hugs. But it would have helped. Because as long as Ben was there it all would have been OK.

But now he’s not here and I am reduced to a person who now gets woken by anxiety.

That’s not ok.

However, knowing that there is always a bright side to every situation, here is a picture of the bright side:


The living room now looks much nicer.  So there’s that.

Warrior on, people.  I will if you will.

Sometimes It’s All Just A Little Too Much

I am writing this post from Hawaii.  To be a little more exact, I am writing it from the bathtub in the condo in Hawaii, where I am hiding and trying to breathe.  It’s one of those moments.

Sometimes it’s all a little too much and I couldn’t explain why if I tried. I don’t even know.

The trip has been beautiful and peaceful for the most part. We have swam and kayaked (Lisa paddled, I sat there), relaxed in the sun, drank wine, gone down a water slide and even swam in the ocean with dolphins. I have also enjoyed 100% Kona coffee.  That’s a big deal for me.

All that beauty is not lost on me, and yet here I am hiding in the tub remembering Ben saying “I think I pulled a muscle” while I nurse my own extremely sore lower back and think about how Ben’s “pulled muscle” turned out.  And cry.

Yes, I know, I know, most muscle aches do not turn out to be cancer. But apparently sometimes they do.  If I could turn off the shitty thoughts I would. Sometimes I can. Occasionally I can’t. This seems to be one of those moments.

You know what I wish for more than anything at this moment?  I wish that all of my kids be gifted the ability to live in the moment and not in the “what ifs.”  I hope that when terrorists commit atrocities and innocent people are killed, and when men and women who protect our communities go to work one night but don’t come again because some asshole figured that they wore a uniform so they should die for that, and when another student or their mom’s aunt is given another sad cancer prognosis…..that they find a way to cope and understand that those are not their stories.  I hope that they can understand that no one knows what life holds for them, but at that particular moment that is not their story. And that if it ever becomes their story in any way, they will cope.

I hope they emulate their Dad.  I hope they don’t crawl into a bathtub to cry. Or, if they do, they only do it for ten minutes and then they remind themselves of all the beauty in the world, get up, towel off and move on.

How I miss Ben right now.

It’s time to get out of the tub.

Four Short Months Ago …

Four short months ago I wrote a post entitled “Fear Be Damned.”  Check it out if you need to refresh your memory.  In that post I mentioned that Dr K had walked into the oncology appointment that week and commented on how awesome Ben looked. Sigh.  Ben did look awesome.  Hard to believe it was only four months ago.

That same week he took Zak to buy his first car, which looked like this:


That was a good week.

Three short months later we found ourselves spending as much time together as we could in Ben’s last few days.  I turned on the video camera four days before Ben passed away, while he was listening to “our” song

I think I previously mentioned that a couple of weeks before Ben passed away, Zak was in a car accident and his car was written off.  It was bitter sweet recently to take this photo of him with his newly purchased truck. It was so great of my Dad to step in.  But every time I look at this picture I am struck by the fact that so recently it was Ben who stood by Zak.  That makes me very sad.


Below is a link to a song by Pearl Jam that was played as we exited Ben’s service.  “Just Breathe.”  I listen to it every day.

I miss him so much.

Hug your families tight.  xo