Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Stuck & Learning

We passed some pretty Big Milestones last month.

Father's Day and the 6 month mark since Kyle died.

They were pretty hard if I do say so myself and
lots of tears were shed and lots of tissues were used.

But here we are, still moving forward.
And believe me when I say that some days 
that is SHOCKING to me.

We are rounding the corner into the 2nd half 
of the first year without him.  

Sometimes I wonder why we put so much emphasis on time, 
and dates, and days, as a way of measuring how far 
we've come, and our grief.

But we do.

I suppose it's natural to keep track of time
in tick marks, showing us how many baby steps
we've taken forward in our journey.

I have watched some of my CC wives move forward
with dating and new love and even marriage, yet
I feel "stuck" here missing my husband.

I am happy for them, but not yet ready to take
those steps myself.

Even as I LONG for the companionship I once had,
I am not ready to welcome it into my life. 
(Is it even a choice?  I don't know)

For I may be alone for the rest of my life-
Certainly I cannot predict the future.

I'm stuck, but not in a bad way I don't think.

Stuck, as in "I'm healing and learning who I am" kind of way.

Listen, I was Kyle's wife for 24 years, and I've been
the mother of my children for 21.  It's been a LONG time
since I concentrated on finding out who *I* am.

Me, Dorien.

You would think at 39 (ahem-who am I kidding?
I'm way past 39!)  I would already know who that was.  

But lets be honest. 

I don't.

Should I?  

I don't even know anymore.

I like to push back at the notion that we as human being
are ONLY complete and happy when we are with someone else, 
and I like to think that it's important to be whole 
and complete with OURSELVES first before we offer what 
we have to anyone else.

Shouldn't we be able to be happy alone too?

With our own selves and our own company and our own friends?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVED being married.  It was both
good and hard.  There was nothing better than having a 
built in best friend at all times, even during the days
that we did not like each other very much.

I miss that part of my life tremendously.
Wholly. With great aching and longing.

Kyle and I often spoke of what would happen if one or the
other died young, before it became a fact that indeed one
of us would.

We BOTH supported the idea of finding a new friend
to continue our lives with.  The thought of raising 4
kids alone, and being alone...was well, lonely.

Laying in bed at night alone, solving problems
alone, making decisions alone?  

ALL lonely.

And as much as my heart longs for human connection, 
I find that I must heal myself first.  I must give myself
sufficient time to grieve and heal. I must become confident
in who I am, me.

Not me, the wife of Kyle.

Not me, the mother of 4 children.

Just me.


And I am finding that is more complicated than I once 
thought.  It will require patience and lots of 
working through the pain and sadness in my heart.

Trying to discover exactly what it is I am meant
to do and who it is that I am meant to be.

And so my family and myself continue forward.

EACH of us trying to rediscover who we are now
that the center of our universe has gone away and left
us to continue on our own.

We are, all 5 of us, digging deep and finding a new
center, and claiming who we are as we travel this
mortal life onward.

So while we may be stuck, missing and longing and
loving that human we called our husband and father--we 
are also learning and growing and stretching ourselves.

It's a process.

And that's what I've got for today.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dorien: Unplugged

Last Friday marked 5 months since Kyle died.

People like to say "passed on" or "moved on", it doesn't sound
as harsh or final as dead, or died----but the fact of the matter
is that he is dead.  He died.  And he is no longer here with us.
So I like to say he died.
Well, because he did.

And then it was Memorial Day on Monday.

And the entire day I worked in the yard and did homework and worked in the yard
some more.

My mind conveniently ignored the fact that this was the day I should go by
and visit Kyle's grave site.  It was a conscious choice on my part.

I was practicing avoidance.

Ironically it was ME who insisted on having a site, somewhere to go
and visit for me and the kids, when HE would've preferred
the whole ashes to ashes and wolves in the mountains thing.

And yet, I cannot bring myself to go there.
To where he was laid to rest.

Not yet.

The wound is so raw still.
And this place, the hole in the ground, makes it so real.

My sweet sister in law posted the above picture on her Instagram and Facebook
page late in the day.

It was innocuous enough.

Just a picture of some grass, a rock cairn and some flowers.

Yet it wasn't quite so innocent to me.

And the visceral reaction that tore through my heart and soul
reminded me I have a long way to go on my journey to healing.

It ripped through me and shocked me at how deeply and
profoundly it grabbed me and would not let me go.

Just the sight of that, the rock cairn, the flowers and the grass,
marking where he had been laid to rest, ripped open my scab again
and my heart and soul poured out of body in the form of tears.

Heart rending, soul wrenching, body shaking sobs.

Hard as I might try---there was no escaping the moment.

The "moment" lasted two hours and I lay in bed and wept and wept
for Kyle and his absence from our lives and all that he was missing
and all that he was yet to miss.

Grace, she graduates from High School next Friday
and Josh, he graduates from the University of Utah in 8 more weeks.

Their daddy would be so proud, as am I.

But his absence is looming, this huge shadow of what should have
been witnessed by him and it aches to the depths of my soul in these moments.

So many hours and days and weeks that he won't be here.

Months upon months that add up to years and years of living without him.

So many ups and downs that we must do on our own.

Without Him.

And so many days I wonder if I can....go forward, move ahead, keep going.

There are years and years of space and time to fill and they seem daunting to me.

I gather my children and am reminded of Kyle in the things they do and say.

It's not quite enough to fill what he left behind, but they help remind me of
all that was good in the world, in him.  And I chuckle to see "him" in so
many of the things they do and I sigh and think to myself, "there you are Kyle,
there you are."

And that's what I've got for today.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Hole He Left .....

When Kyle died at 3:30 on Christmas Eve last year,
there was a lot of hustle and bustle that followed.

Doctors and nurses and family and friends who all
came to say goodbye and confirm death and help us
get his body ready for the mortuary.

There were tears and hugs and a quiet stillness 
in the air.

After the last stragglers left and I stood, almost
alone, in the hospital room we had called home
for 6 days, I looked out the west facing window.

It was Christmas Eve, the sky was already dark
and ironically all the traffic lights were flashing
red and green.

Christmas colors.

My mind, body, spirit and soul were deeply fatigued
with all they had been through, not only in the past
6 days, but the past 21 months.

I was weary.  A weariness I had never felt before 
in my life.

As I looked out the window, I happened upon my 
tired reflection looking back at me and I thought 
to myself,  "I have just watched my husband DIE.
Die. I can do anything after this."

Little did I know what "anything" would entail for 
the coming 4 months.

As I have struggled to literally just survive, wave after
wave of (expected and unexpected) hard things have hit my
children and family.

Many days bringing me to tears, on top of tears, for 
my already grieving heart and soul.

Remember that I am in "survival mode" at best on many
days.  I am doing the bare minimum JUST to get by.

My heart, mind, soul, body, spirit ACHES for Kyle
on all of those days.

If you haven't walked here---then please don't judge me.

I am doing the very best that I can.

And while I realize that "MY" best is not "someone
else's best"--please always kindly remember it is mine.

With that said, we just passed 4 months.

Can you believe it?  It's only been four months.

Four months and 1000 years all wrapped up together
in the time warp that grief is.

And for the record I am NO WHERE near done missing
Kyle and grieving this loss.

In fact, in some ways I believe it gets harder.

People are tired of hearing me say I miss him and how
hard it is now.  Most people are tired of checking in.

Life has moved on for many, and with it I have had to as well.
There have been birthdays and proms and soon there
will be graduations.  So many firsts without Him.
The empty chair at the table, the empty side of the bed.
The reminders everywhere of the spaces he filled in 
our lives.  In our hearts.

Yet, one has to remember (maybe I need the reminder
most of all) that a piece of me died on 
that Wednesday afternoon in December. 
The piece that belonged to Kyle.  

The part that died has left a huge hole inside of me.  
It is waiting to heal, it is working through the
process and taking baby steps forward.

It is there though and it thrums with every beat of my
very broken heart.  I feel it tenderly sitting there 
inside of me, the freshly ripped open piece of flesh
that is tied both literally to my heart and soul.

It's raw and painful still.

It's trying to just squeak by each day as it 
carries me with it.

Sometimes thoughts or people or memories scratch
and rub at the already raw wound and make it bleed 

And it hurts.

Our family is doing what we know.

We are rising again each day and trying to claw
and laugh and cry our way through all the challenges
we have faced and are facing.

It's a process though, on top of trying to heal the hole
that Kyle left.

But we ARE trying.

And that's what I've got for today.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Post Script: Empty Spaces

I'm a liar.

A big fat liar!

But I have some more words that had to come out!

The day after I posted my last blog post, one of our
cancer friends, a local "superhero" Dov, passed away
from cancer.

The lives Dov touched in his 7 1/2 year battle (against
every odd conceivable) with terminal colon are 

He was a a light on dark days, humor in sad moments
and he gave selflessly of himself from start to finish in 
his battle.

Making people smile and laugh and feel comfortable
in one of life's hardest circumstance.  He had a gift
which he freely shared with all those around him.

When I read the news on Facebook, my heart broke
open a little all over again--tears came and I 
could only think of those he had left behind.

I now knew the journey they must take and it
tore at my heart.

A wife and children and relatives and friends who

Just like Kyle left all those people who 
adored HIM,  Dov was now leaving people who's world
would change in a heartbeat.

Life without....them.

Later that night Olivia and I were laying in bed
and she was telling me about atoms and what she 
had learned in school that day.

She said, "Mom did you know an atom is 99% empty
space?  And that empty space can bend and move
and push things apart...."

When she said that it struck me forcefully that
Kyle, and Dov, and so many others have left this
huge empty space in our hearts and lives.

We are all learning to adjust and learning how
to live with the empty spaces they once filled.

It's a process.

We have to bend and reshape our lives to fit
into new configurations, shapes that are new to 
us, and ways of living that feel foreign and strange.

That same day at work an old co-worker messaged
me and said something about how NOT ONLY am I
grieving the death of my spouse, but I am also
learning to live a WHOLE NEW LIFE as a single 
working mom.

I am trying to fill a whole bunch of empty spaces
in my life with all the roles Kyle once filled.

Only now I'm doing it myself.

Those are some HUGE changes.

She got it, nailed it.

As I read post after post about Dov and his goodness
something broke apart inside of me--in a good way--
and I thought to myself...

There is no way I cannot honor Kyle and Dov, these
people that gave everything to us in the form of
humor and love and goodness, and give up.

I cannot NOT live for the rest of my life.

I MUST live and find joy and happiness for THEM.

For all they gave and sacrificed as they traveled their
journeys from birth to death--filling SO MANY 
empty spaces every single day for all of us.

I choose to find that hope and happiness and joy
in my life.

I choose to get up even when the days are hard.

I choose to love and accept and give and learn and grow.

I choose to try and try again and again and again.

I choose to honor these people who were heroes to me.

A husband I loved, and a friend who loved everyone
he met.

One of Dov's favorite saying was to "Carpe Diem" 
....although he said it much more colorfully and 
I second his choice of words.  (but will spare you them here)
(to give you a hint, he mostly wore F Cancer shirts to 

Friends, let us choose to live, and choose to love!

That's what I've got for today in honor of Dov.

Dov speaking at Kyle's fundraiser last year!
You can see Kyle's green Cancer Kicks (shoes) in the lower left corner!

Kyle and Dov dressed up this Thanksgiving passing out treats
to the patients and staff at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  This
was literally 4 weeks before Kyle died and was STILL helping 
other people.  If you only knew what was going on this picture
under his costume.  These men were good good good souls.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Ending of Sorts,,,

Today is the 3 month mark since Kyle died.

It's crazy to me the way time has warped in and out 
of itself.  

Bending and folding and moving forward, carrying us 
with it every single day.

For this entire journey I've used this blog
as a platform for my feelings, Kyle's story,
and a journal of sorts.

It has been cathartic and therapeutic.

I have touched people and offended people 
all in the same post.

(That takes great talent I'll have you know!)

In the past few days I have felt like his journey,
while it will continue to unfold forever in a million
different ways in the ripples and imprints his children 
will have on the world, is done.

The story of the evil cancer, and all that came 
to pass because of it, has finished.

The story now unfolds in a new way for all of us.

It is about new challenges and fresh starts
and beginning again in so many different ways.

In many ways big parts of my "old life", the life
before cancer, are gone--forever now.

It makes me sad and crushes my heart some days.
It makes me curious to see what the future holds
on other days.

We are all changed people because of this journey
we took, through no choice of our own.

Mostly, and in the biggest way, I feel like myself
and my children are the most changed.  

I cannot speak for any extended family, nor will
I.  It is not my place to say for them how they
have or have not been changed, although I would 
imagine many of them feel the same.

Or maybe not?
I do not know.

I have spoken often lately with my CC wives, 
who are all now widows.  
This cancer has stolen so many young lives,
so many young fathers, and left us widows and 

Orphans in a way.  Left alone to flounder
at sea until we find new footings to stand on.
Fresh courage to move ahead and patience with
ourselves to move through the process, which
is long and arduous. 

So many of us have said that the people around us do
not know how to deal with cancer and death and we
have been left by the wayside in many ways.

Lives carry on.

Including our lives.

Yet, it will be with new friends and new relationships
and new jobs and new lives--literally.

For there is no going back to what we once had.

There are only memories and ghosts of memories.

I told my friend today that it's been 3 of the 
longest months of my life and yet in those 
3 (also very short) months I cannot remember
what Kyle's laugh sounds like anymore.

I have tried and tried and I cannot find it anywhere 
in my memory.

Maybe it will return, but for now it's gone.

And as I move forward there are so many things I am
afraid of forgetting.  So to remember I talk about him.

Please always let me talk about him.

No matter where my path leads, Kyle will always be
a part of my life and my heart and my children and 
what we are made of.  The very DNA of our family.

And so today, I am bidding this blog a fond farewell.

It is quite literally a part of my soul.
The very most vulnerable part.

It is my heart ripped open and bleeding on page 
after page of my life.

It is the expression of my love for the dearest man
in my life.

It is the bitter heartache and tears of a bullet
train of death speeding toward me for 2 straight years.

It is honest and raw and the only way I knew how to 
do this.

Forgive me for not knowing any other way.

I will probably find some obscure place to keep 
typing where no one can see anymore.

I am not sure my heart can be this brittle and broken,
and find a way to heal, unless I can let out my truth.

All of my truth--and not everyone needs to, or wants
to hear that truth.

Because while there is plenty of good, there is also
still great great deep and abiding sadness my soul
must work through to heal.

And so I bid adieu to these pages that have so kindly
hosted my words.

And I bid goodbye to all those who have read and 
commented for both good and bad.  I am so grateful
for friendships forged and people "met" and
news and information that could be shared because
of what I wrote.

I may update every now and again and we pass through
some milestone that deserves to be honored, but until
then this is an ending of sorts.

As I begin this journey of the "other side".

The side without Kyle.  And cancer.
And cholangio-freakin-carcinoma.

A journey of healing and trying to find light
and life and laughter and joy again in my life
without him.

A journey in his honor.

Because we promised we would ...

find joy
and happiness
and live the life he could not finish living.

And that's what I've got for today.

Kyle last spring in the red rocks of
Southern Utah (MOAB/ARCHES National Park).
This was the dearest place to his hearts.

And Kyle loved Edward Abbey, so I will 
leave you all with this quote:

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome
and dangerous, leading to the most amazing views."

Go seize the day people and find some amazing views
in your life to honor this wonderful soul!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Girlfriends, Dinner and Texting

Last night for the first time since Kyle died
I ventured out with some girlfriends.

Not my family.

Not my "babysitters."

But girls who are friends in a little group.

Usually this feels daunting and exhausting 
and overwhelming to me.

I can't explain it, and unless you've experienced
it--the grief--you just won't get it.

The grief is that heavy wet blanket that takes
all your time and energy.  Just to function.
And get out of bed. And live.  There's no room
or time or energy left over for anything else.

And going out and smiling and laughing with
other human beings after 8 hours of work?  
Usually that's too much for me right now.

But THIS week?  It was a good week.  I had an entire
7 day stretch void of weeping.

Yes, there was sadness tugging at my heart still--that's
still there, but the aching, longing heartache was
held at bay this week.

I enjoyed the reprieve from pain for a spell.

I know there will be more valleys to come, more
tears and sadness in waves--but for this time I enjoyed
the "lightness" that came to me this week.

It felt good.

My friends told me last night how much they cared
and thought about me and asked how they could do this

I said that WE, the people going through this, JUST
need to know we're loved and thought about.

As I've said before there truly is nothing anyone can
say to make this better, or easier.

The thing that DOES help is just to know someone is 
thinking about you and cares.

One of my friends has been going through her own
hard time.

She said the greatest invention EVER was the text
and I have to agree.

A text.

Who knew that some little words on a phone could
mean so much?

"I'm thinking about you."

"How are you today?"

"I love you"


She said those things are life savors and I have to agree.

Some days the grief is too heavy and talking on 
the phone or in person?  It is way too much for us
on this end.

But a short message flashed across our phones
can be easily answered (or ignored if that is the case).

And then we know people care.
And it fills us with joy.

I'm so grateful for the texters who are consistent in 
my life.

I always gush and thank them--but the gushing is from
the heart--just the reaching out through the airwaves
from YOU to ME?   Well, it means the world.

So thank you.

Thank you to girlfriends who talked and listened.

And hallelujah for one good week.

7 days in a row.

I'll take it!

It may be 7 bad days next week...but for now...I will
cheer the 7 good ones I've had!

That's what I've got for today.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How I Feel....

"How are you feeling Dorien?"

Not many people really ever ask me that anymore.

I think people are afraid to ask honestly.

They may not know how to deal with the raw sadness
of HIS death and MY heart.

It's like this giant elephant in the room
that people are trying their best to avoid.

If they don't ask me, they don't have to deal with it.

They don't know what to say when I'm honest
(because sadly, I am almost always honest) with them.

It makes people uncomfortable.

I think some people just wish I were "over it already."

And so I find they often ask OTHER people, 
"How's Dorien doing?"

That way the answer is not as raw and they don't
have to look at the pain in my eyes.

A few people ask ME still, but not many.

It hasn't even been 3 months since Kyle died.

(Not even 3 is that possible?
It feels like enormous, unimaginable amounts of
time have passed by me....)

And I often wonder myself,  "How DO you feel Dorien?"

The emotions that come are like the swell of ocean
waves. They come expected and in intervals, and then
unexpectedly a huge wave sneaks in among the
swells and knocks my feet out from under me.

The art of carrying a family on ones shoulders
alone, without a husband, is well, daunting.

Raising children during the best of times is a 
challenge...raising children, ages 11-21, after 
the death of their daddy?


I feel crushed most days at the responsibilities.

I have had to take things in very small increments.

Usually a day at a time is all I can do.

The tick of the clock rounding through 24 hours...
and then starting again.

When a bad day hits me and knocks me down, the only
thing that keeps me going is knowing that almost always,
and so far without exception, a new day comes.

And with a new day, usually I am more grounded and
can begin again.

Some days I feel strong, like I WILL make it 
through this--to whatever end "through" is.

Some days I feel weak, like the smallest of children
could push me, and my fragile heart, to the ground
with one finger, gently tipping me over.

Poke. And down I fall.

And then they would leave me there, possibly forever, 
walking away laughing and pointing at me and my 
inability to rise again.

This grief I expected.
Even prepared for.

The loneliness I did not.
Could not have ever imagined it.

I have spoken of this at great length already.

I could never have imagined the loneliness
that comes with the death of a spouse.

My other half.

My best friend.

My comrade in arms.



I look at other couples and their easy, comfortable 
ways and I'm sad.  And I'm envious.  And I miss
the simplicity that came from having Him in my
life for 27 years.

How does one replace that?

Or replicate it?

Can you ever?

Was this it? 
My one chance at happiness and friendship and love?

You can't help but wonder how the future will
play out.

I keep hearing story after story after story of
people never getting past the sad and lonely and
still in a major depression years, and even decades

"Faking it" for the good of...

The good of WHAT?  I'm not sure.

I do NOT want to be that.

I do NOT want that to be my "end".

But maybe it's not a choice.

Or maybe it is?

It's still too fresh to know.

I often wonder if I will be the crazy lady that
pushes a cat around in her baby stroller...talking
lovingly to it.

Maybe we shouldn't judge that lady so harshly.

Maybe she lost someone she loved and is sad still.

And lonely.

And the cat helps her fill that hole in her heart.

I have good days, even really good days.

I've heard people say they feel guilty for smiling and 
laughing again after a loved one dies.

I do not.  I don't quite understand that guilt
personally.  I find that I seem to cherish life,
and friendships, and mountain views, and sunrises,
and small joyful moments now more than ever.

I think that Kyle would wish for more good days 
then bad anyway--and so when laughter and lightness
comes, I seize them and let them surround me.

I have bad days, really bad days.

Days when the tears won't stop.

Days when my heart very literally feels as if it
is falling apart inside my chest.  




Days when the grief and longing and loneliness
are flattening me from the inside out.

I long for the carefree life that others seem to
have.  For easy moments of time that are not riddled 
with that aching sadness inside my soul.

I long for days not filled with one challenge or
another.  I long for simpler times with no stress.

I fear the thing I long for may not exist.

At least not now, for me.

And so I will continue to take one day at a time.
24 hour increments of time.

I will continue to gaze longingly, and a bit sadly, at
couples who shop, and dine, and just get to be

Don't judge me.

I will continue to work and clean and study and
fold laundry and help my children through each

I will continue to try and find, and embrace,
the good days when they come.

I will laugh when the moment strikes.

And I will weep with equal fervor when those
feelings swell inside my heart.

I really miss him.

That's how I feel today.


Edited to Add:

The point of this post is NOT to make anyone

feel guilty nor is it pointing fingers at ANYONE.

It is simply stating how *I* Dorien feel.

Just wanted to add that in case anyone worries.
This is just my heart spilled open in ink.
Plain and simple.