Friday, February 26, 2016

All the Little Moments

As much as anyone who has ever been married knows, no matter how much you love your spouse, no one's perfect.  There are things that person may do that annoy you ~ but you put up with their idiosyncrasy's because you love them.

And it is all the little things that they do right that you hang on to.  

The flowers he would get for me on Mother's Day, all the cards he would write out with such care and love, the phone calls during the day to check in, and loving conversations about Zack.

One of the biggest things that I miss about Jeff is how Great a Dad he was.

I have heard of many couples arguing over ways to parent their children ~ but in that area, we always agreed.  We were of the same mind set when it came to taking care of, raising, supporting and empowering our son.

He was so involved with Zack's life, always at every practice and every event.  Zack was his world.

Not being here is a huge void in Zack's life, losing his biggest fan, and in I parent alone.

I miss not having him to step in when I am having an off day, to take Zack off to do something fun and give me a break, or so I can go running on the weekend, or to just be a buffer when I need some space.

I never had to worry about who would be there for Zack, because I always knew he was.  

I miss that for Zack as well!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Purge, Donate and Recycle

I am a big believer in getting rid of the old to make room for the new.  Over the next year I cleaned out a lot of the old.

It started with a week after Jeff's passing when Zack had wanted some of his t-shirts.  I reached into his closet to pull one off the shelf and a huge pile of shirts, sweatshirts, sweats and sweaters came falling down on top of me.  

I pulled them all out and started creating piles on the floor.  Then, I went to his drawers which were stuffed with so many t-shirts they were jammed to the rim.  Soon I was staring at piles and piles of clothes ~ again items I suggested he donate to a homeless shelter over the years.

I then made my way into the basement and started going through the boxes.  And to my dismay there were numerous boxes filled with football gloves, athletic socks, football towels, every ticket to every event he went to, security credentials to every event he worked, newspapers, magazines, media guides, and on and on. 

No wonder he felt overwhelmed ~ I was overwhelmed.

My anger boiled as I discarded meaningless stuff into our garbage cans.

I knew what was important, sentimental and worth passing on to Zack ~ the rest was purged!

Walking out to the garage to make on going trips to the garbage, another layer of anger had me screaming into the air, "You told me again and again you would clean out this garage and Now here I am having to clean up this mess!"

There was stuff cluttering that garage that should have been thrown away a long time ago, but he had always said to "leave it alone, he would get to it."

I went to Home Depot and bought one of those Bagster's and I called our friend Mike to see if he could help me haul away and clean out my garage.

When we were done I could actually park my car in there if I wanted! And the relief was amazing.......after clearing out the clutter and the junk.

I purged a lot of unnecessary items from my house ~ but I am a big believer in donating and recycling.

If there is something that I have but I don't need, or want, and someone else can use it, I would rather give it away.

I had Big Brother/Big Sisters pick up 5 big loads of boxes and bags over the next year.  Tons of Zack's toys got donated. I dropped off old cell phones at a Verizon donation box, I donated old eye glasses at Lenscrafters for the needy, I had a friend drop off 6 Dooney Bourke purses to a Dress for Success location, and furniture that I no longer wanted I offered to friends.

There were probably many things I could have sold and brought in some money.  But I feel that what you put into the world comes back to you.

I have had a lot of people help me over the years, and if I can help through donating, I will.

Giving to others is more meaningful than the small amount of money that may be gained.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stuff is Just Stuff

Many years ago when I lost Everything in my life except my clothes, my jewelry and my project materials, I was So Angry!

Having "stuff" had become so important to me.  I felt like all my possessions represented all the hard work I had dedicated my life to, over the last 13 years.  

Stuff had come to represent my worth.

But God wanted me to learn that what really matters is "who I am, my skills and talents, my character and reputation." Everything else I can recreate or condo, my car, my furniture, my belongings and my job!

After awhile I gained a detachment to things ~ If I didn't need it, I didn't buy it.  

So it was hard for me to have patience with Jeff's ever growing sports collection that started out filling a large walk in closet, and soon overtook our finished basement.

When we moved into the house we bought together, the finished basement was supposed to be a sports room, showcasing some of his collection; but ultimately become a place we could hang out, watch sporting events, entertain, and Zack could play.

The problem was there were boxes piled everywhere, jerseys hanging on a department store clothing rack, bats filling a big bamboo basket, hockey sticks overflowing on a bench and piled on the floor, items stacked on two large book shelves. The amount of stuff even overwhelmed Jeff, and the room Never got organized and was used for storage.

Numerous times over the years I tried to talk Jeff into selling some things, and get rid of items to utilize that room, but he clung on to his "stuff" for dear life.

I never understood why he would buy a jersey or a hockey stick and only have it sit around collecting dust. And with working at the Meadowlands he would come home with all types of souvenirs that seemed like junk to me.

Up until the very end those items still held importance to him.

After he was gone ~ I was so Angry as I stood in my basement, looking around at all the "stuff."  I lost him but I still had all this!

In the end Stuff Does Not Matter!

The statement resonated with me ~ "We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing.  You can't take it with you!"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Pain Seems Like a Dream

There are days when the pain of the past feels so strong and memories lost can be overwhelming.

Then there are Most Days Now, with almost two years having passed, that the pain seems almost like a dream.

I look around at my current present, and it is so different from my past ~ Purposefully.

I walk through my house and there is peace and gratitude there.  Joy is found in the sunshine and in easier free flowing days.  I have found a new rhythm.

An outsider looking in would never imagine all we have been through, and that perception is what has me reflecting on how unreal that period of my life seems.

It is true that Time Does Heal, if you allow it........and life does go on.

What "you do" to bring joy and peace in where pain once lived is a matter of choice.

There is the choice to live in the past and hold onto it tightly.......or the choice to let it go and to embrace a new future.  Where peace and joy may enter your days.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Turning Grief into Action

When you walk alongside someone you love, as they Battle for their life, and you do Everything humanly possible you could to save them........but ultimately that person passes away anyway, with so much life ahead still to live.....

The world just doesn't seem that important any longer.  

What once mattered, or what I used to strive for, and to build, seemed insignificant.

What was the purpose?

What was my purpose?

Before Jeff got sick, I had grand plans for my career.  But as I now know God's plans are not necessarily my plans.

God had been nudging me to step out more in my faith, but that wasn't where I was comfortable.

Afterwards, the only thing that did seem to matter is that if I was going to have to stay on this earth, I needed to do something that mattered and was impactful.

Our world gets crazier by the day, and I could see people are starving for inspiration and hope.

What came to me as I worked through my grief is that I needed to follow God's lead, not my own.

Believe that he has a plan for me and money is not the motivator ~ using my talents, helping others and making a difference, that should be my focus.

As I started getting stronger and healthier, a vision started becoming clearer and I could no longer keep my faith quiet, because it is the only thing that kept me going........and still does!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


When we go into relationships with people we learn about others, but we also learn about ourselves, if we pay attention.  

I think I will be a much better partner after going through my relationship with Jeff.  I also learned what I want in a partner now and what I don't want. I have become wiser and will be more aware of any red flags and weaknesses that could create a problem, and be on the look out for strengths that will compliment me.

I believe people are brought into our lives to help us grow, learn and become better.  Even people who may be negatives - we have an opportunity to handle them and the situation they bring the right way, or the wrong way.  We learn with each encounter.

There are Risks with putting yourself out there getting to know people, exposing yourself to others and sharing emotionally.  

But the reward is worth it if you connect and find a forever friend, or even better ~ a partner you can lean on and share your life with.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Building a New Start-Up.......My Life

I have built several businesses from scratch over the years and to begin you need a vision, a plan, and a set of goals.  You can't get anywhere without a road map.

As I was writing my morning pages, hibernating during the winter months, my vision was becoming clearer and a plan started forming on paper.

When I went down to Tampa in April, to look around at houses with a Realtor, and spend the week with friends and family, towards the end, I didn't want to go back to N.J.  I just wanted to stay.

But I kept hearing that little voice inside saying, "it is only 4 months and then you will be back.  There is a lot to do in that time.

Which I knew in my head, but my heart wanted to stay in the sunshine and start my new life.

However, everything is a process!

Over the next four months I had a ton of work to do to get us ready to leave N.J. and move down to Tampa.  We had people to say goodbye to and details to finish up.

Then the month of August was spent acclimating ourselves, settling in to our new place and getting Zack ready for school.

When school started it was a huge culture shock for him.  He cried everyday for a month when I walked him to his classroom in the morning.  A big step was not having to do that and instead dropping him off, like the other kids, in front of the school in the car line, to walk in by himself.

I then considered the Fall to be the second wave of building a solid foundation on the home front.

You can't build up if you have a weak foundation.  So I focused on taking care of all the details to make sure Zack was ok, with a Nanny, with friends, with sports, and our surroundings were comfortable.

By the time the Christmas holidays came around I was exhausted.......but I had accomplished A Lot.

The foundation was strong ~ it was now time to Build the Second Phase of my plan ~My Career!

And that would be so much fun!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


This morning I went to see a new dermatologist and as I drove into his office parking lot, I realized that his building is located across from the Florida Hospital.

As I drove between both buildings and saw signs pointing in the direction of the Emergency Room, I had flashbacks of SO many ER's and hospitals that I drove my husband to, and spent a lot of time in.

From January until the beginning of April we had spent time in Overlook Medical Center, the Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, Morristown Memorial Hospital (twice), and Valley Hospital (three times).

While I don't live with the negative memories every day, like I used to, a flashback can hit me hard and make me a little shaky.

But then I clear my head, refocus my vision, and realize that I am not living that any longer.

Those memories are from the past.....

I am NOW just walking in to see the dermatologist for something minor. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Other Side of Grief

When Zack and I landed in Tampa for good, I was exhausted.......from packing up our whole house by myself, by organizing all the details alone, and from moving us across the country.

But within a few days of being in our new house, I was overtaken by a sense of peace ~ as if I had been holding my breath for way too long and I could now finally breathe.

It was a Fresh Start.......a New Beginning.

The past seemed to fall away, as if I left it in my rear view mirror, on the highway, while driving down.

Our new surroundings brought me front and center into the present.

I had spent the last year caught up in looking back at the past and reliving so many memories.  And then focusing on the plan to will us into a brighter future.

Now I could just Be In The Moment and that felt really good.

God had brought me through.......and brought us home.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Death is So Final.......

One of the hardest realities for me to wrap my head around was that with Death there is NO changing the outcome.  I can't go back and redo something.  

There are No More opportunities for conversations.

When I signed Jeff over to Hospice and he was rushed to Valley Hospital to stop the ongoing seizures and give him relief for the pain, I thought by providing relief we would have time to talk and have some sort of closure.

I wasn't prepared for that to be the end.

When the Hospice nurse told me, a couple of days later, that he may not every come out of the medicated haze he was under to stop the seizures.....My world dropped out from under me.

Each time they tried to lessen his medication he started to seizure again.......and he had gone through enough pain....

As I sat at his bedside I realized everything I had done hadn't changed the outcome.

My whole body was on fire.

I was used to making things happen.  But yet I wasn't able to do anything to change this. All my efforts failed.

Having no closure was a devastating blow.  

Not being able to talk through anything anymore was something I wasn't used to and it got me so Angry!!  

Not being able to change anything about our relationship.  How was that possible.......I felt so out of sorts.

15 years together and then gone!!

I had to retrain my mind to accept that this part of my life was done  ~ I HAD no choice but to move on ~ I was given no choice. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Talented Doctor

When you are in the Emergency Room and being told that you have a large brain tumor and the surgeon is going to talk to you about operating to take it out, right away......there isn't time to research which doctor to choose.

This is where God stepped in.

We were supposed to get one particular surgeon ....... and instead Dr. Beyerl walked into the room.

I immediately connected to his confidence, compassion and straight to the point demeanor. In that room we worked together to convince Jeff that he couldn't leave the hospital to go to Zack's football practice.  His tumor could bleed, he required hospital supervision and he was being admitted to the hospital to be scheduled for surgery.

That night I thoroughly researched Jeff's brain surgeon and asked about him with several of the hospital staff.  I felt totally confident that we had the best doctor on our side.

Over the next 8 months our relationship was built on difficult conversations surrounding treatments, tests, results, decisions, another life and death surgery, that outcome, rehab and more crisis.

After Dr. Beyerl heard the news of Jeff's passing he called me from his car phone and told me, "I needed to hold my head up high because I did Absolutely Everything I could have for Jeff." That phone call brought me comfort.

When I was battling for Jeff's life, he was right there by our side in the trenches and I have God to thank for that.    

Monday, February 1, 2016

Help Arrives When you Need It

I feel so blessed that I had so many people helping us through our crisis.  It seemed that just when I needed something or someone, the right person stepped in!

The next day after finding out Jeff had a brain tumor and he would need immediate surgery, my world was in a tail spin.

I was dropping my son off at Vacation Bible School and driving down to the hospital ~ I shared the situation with Zack's leader, a woman I knew through one of my Bible Studies, to provide him with extra attention.

Unbeknownst to me, later that day, she went to speak to someone in the church office about providing meals for us.  I hadn't even realized the church had a meal outreach program.

But in my head, as I had been driving to the hospital that morning ~ figuring out how I could juggle everything that week, and after Jeff gets home from his surgery ~ One of my concerns what how to handle making dinners during that time?

Especially since the last thing I could think about was food!

But God heard my concerns and provided a way to not have to worry about meals ~ This relieved some pressure off of me and gave me time to concentrate on Jeff and Zack.