Friday, January 18, 2013

Daily Struggles

The kids and I got through the holidays as well as I expected. Christmas was quiet as it was just us. It's times like this when I wish I would have been born into a larger family - or that our extended family stayed in touch. I miss the days when I was younger when we would visit each side of the family - one side on Christmas Eve, the other on Christmas Day. This year, our Christmas Eve was like any other night. We did get to go Midnight Mass for the first time, which was really nice. New Year's was a different story. My sister and her family came in, as they usually do, for our annual New Year's bash. I use that term loosely, but we have so much fun nonetheless. Even though it's just us, we plan our menu and activities very carefully and come midnight you wouldn't want to live near us. We are loud and usually covered in silly string. The craziness did not take away the emotional aspect of the clock striking midnight. Every year, for 11 years, the kids and I would quietly go into Mike's room, give him a kiss and gently wish him a Happy New Year. Our night felt incomplete without this routine.

As it nears the one year anniversary of Mike’s passing, I have become understandably more melancholy. Mike was ill for so long, but I now find myself missing the “well” Mike more than I ever have. I think so much about his strength, his smile, his laugh and the way he always seemed to calm my fears. Honestly, I’m getting tired of doing everything on my own. I have been so stressed lately with “life” stuff and wish so much that I had someone to help me. I need to continue to make important decisions on my own: handle all the finances, managing all the paperwork for the kids education, the house repairs/problems and upkeep, and the car to name a few. Right now I am juggling so many major issues that I have been losing sleep each night.

Financially, we were in bad shape when Mike was alive, and that was WITH his social security disability. Without it, I am forced with live off his Life Insurance Policy. When we opened our policies, the amount seemed like so much to us. After all we had just gotten married, we had no children and had no idea what our future would hold. Now, as I take money out each month to pays my bills and see the balance going down I am beginning to panic. Just this weekend, I purchased a new “used” car. I was driving a 2001 Chevy Venture with 108,000 miles on it. It had treated us very well through the years, but I have been having a problem with the “check engine” light and it would not have passed inspection. Added to that the bearings needed to be replaced and my transmission was going. I could not see putting a few thousand dollars into this car when I could put it toward a newer car (My pleas to Ellen DeGeneres fell on deaf ears (LOL) All logic told me that buying this car was the right decision and my beautiful children constantly reassured me that I was doing the right thing. After two months of researching on line and pulling my BIL in for his expertise, I gave in and visited car dealerships last week. After test driving three cars and comparing all the important info (Mileage being the #1), I decided on a car. I know I should be enjoying the excitement that a new car brings, but I have been nothing but stressed. This car took a big chunk out of our savings and that’s all I can think about. I know in the long run it will (hopefully) save me so much in repairs, but as with any car, new or used, NOTHING IS GUARANTEED. Beside the financial impact, the kids and I are strangely dealing with an emotional loss. Whereas most people tend to lease cars and keep them 3-4 years before trading in for something new, our van was with us for 12 years!! It was an extension of us. Mike and I bought it together immediately after he was diagnosed. There were so many fun memories as well as sad memories in that Venture: A 10 hour trip to PA (that should have been 3) that left 6 of us giddy, to bringing Mike into the car when he got agitated while we were out. So many trips back and forth to the hospital and the car ride to pick up our new puppy at the time - Gizmo. The kids each learned how to drive in it. It sounds silly we know, but we will miss that Venture. I decided to donate it to a Veterans Group.

Along with dealing with the car issues, I’m still dealing with my homeowners insurance company about my claim for roof damage from Hurricane Sandy. Between going back and forth with the adjuster as well as the roofer, I feel totally out of my element. The insurance company wants to give me only enough money to cover the BACK of the house (since that was where all the damage happened), while the roofer said the house would look ridiculous being ½ and ½ - since they don’t even make the shingles that are currently on my roof now. Adding insult to injury, the original claim check that the insurance company sent out was made payable to Mike and I (even though my local insurance agent was notified when he passed away) - so I had to fax his Death Certificate to them in order for them to reissue a new check. Another reminder of all that I lost! Bottom line, I am still waiting on the insurance company to decide whether they will cover the replacement of my entire roof.

It’s also that time of year when Financial Aid forms need to be filled out for college. This reminds me of my credit report that I needed to work on that I never did. If I had a spouse to share some of the responsibilities, I would not feel so overwhelmed. There just seems to be so many major issues that I am trying to work on right now. My sadness comes from the fact this is my reality now.

Still, I remain steadfast in my FAITH. When I think about all that we have been through and how God has been with us every step of the way, I remain hopeful. Surely there were times when I didn’t think I could make it through one more day, but the fact of the matter is that I did.