This is what I have been telling people we are trying to accomplish. For 11 years, we devoted almost every minute to caring for Mike, now that he is gone, there is such a huge void in our lives. Even though Mike didn't speak for 7 years, his "voice" was loud and he not having him in the house has created a silence we were not expecting. He made us smile, he inspired us, he helped us get through the day. His strength kept US strong.
My day feels empty. I am now beginning to fully understand all that I did for Mike. Without having these things to do, I feel like I'm not doing anything. I feel like I should be doing SOMETHING. For starters, I'm trying to get the house back in order. It will take time, since it wasn't overnight that it got to the condition it is now. In the room where Mike and I slept, I've already started changing things around to make it more comfortable for me. It's been a difficult thing to do emotionally, since I don't ever want to "get rid of Mike" (as Courtney has suggested). I just want to enter a few phase and make it more mine. With all the equipment (hospital bed, hoyer, Geri Chair, oxygen) out of the house, I realize the walls could use painting, which I hope to begin doing next week. It will fill in some of the empty hours and also make things look better.
I guess the reality is this - I thought 11 years would help us better prepare for Mike's passing. It did not.
I've also been dealing with the after effects with regard to finances. Mike had been on social security disability for 10 years. While I knew that I wouldn't get the full amount he had gotten, I thought I would get something. I was wrong. I'm not entitled to widow's benefits until I'm 60 years old. At that time I can then I can call back and request Mike's benefits. I did receive a "lump sum settlement of $255.00" to put towards Mike's funeral expenses. I also received notification today from social security. They want me to RETURN Mike's February payment (even though he got it when he was very much alive) because he's NOT ENTITLED to payment for the month he died (even though he passed away on the last day of the month). I can appeal this decision if I can show that I needed this money to "survive", but how sad that I have to do that. There's something terribly wrong with the system.
On a different note, we continue to be surrounded by family and friends as we navigate our way to a new normal. We are trying to get out all the Thank-You's (over 200 to do) from so many people who have reached out to us during that time. It was also no surprise how many people's lives Mike touched and that alone will always comfort the children and I.
Last night Courtney and I decided to go to the movies at 7:30 p.m. (Brandon was out with his friends) which is something we were never able to do. It felt really odd to be out at the time when the kids and I had to help get Mike in bed.
And so begins our "new normal".