Happiness -- by me.

"People think they know you. They think they know how you're handling a situation. But the truth is no one knows. No one knows what happens after you leave them, when you're lying in bed or sitting over your breakfast alone and all you want to do is cry or scream. They don't know what's going on inside your head--the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and pain. This isn't their fault. They just don't know. And so they pretend and they say you're doing great when you're really not. And this makes everyone feel better. 
Everybody but you."

— William H. Woodwell, Jr.

It is amazing really how so many scatter and disconnect from the grieving.  It is almost like a separate loss after already losing everything.  After Frankie's burial, we had a beautiful gathering, where everyone just got up if they felt like it and said a favorite memory, or a funny story about something they did with Frankie.  There were some tears, but mostly laughing out loud at the crazy things Frankie would do, or praising him for his amazing qualities.
I remember when his Dad got up, he asked everyone who was there not to forget me, and then had them raise their hands if they would be here to support me in the long-run.

EVERYONE raised their hands --- and at that moment, it felt great --- I felt a little reassured.

But now, most of those hands are just blurs of a broken promise.  Not all, but most.

I say I am doing fine, or great... and they pretend to believe me.  Or they just don't care enough to even find out.

Sorry, I usually try to keep things pretty positive on here, for Frankie ---
And for me, but this is such a strange reality for me.

I am a widow --- not a leper.

I am amazed by this concept really, and frustrated, but  I have learned there are amazing people out there and I have learned to rely on them ---

But mostly, I have learned to rely on myself, and on our love.

I have learned to raise my hand, for my own happiness --- and am eternally grateful for Frankie's unconditional love and for the people who have helped me when my arm feels weak.


Happy Anniversary

As this day ends, I think of where Frankie and I were four years ago.  Just married, starting our amazing honeymoon, and the rest of our amazing lives together.

Who would have thought this would be the hand we would be dealt?

The pain of this is indescribable.  Missing him on this day, where we looked into each other's eyes and vowed to God and to one another, a sacred promise to love eternally.  We were so happy that day...we kissed before we were supposed to during our ceremony.  We could not help it, our faces just kept getting closer and closer.  We were so ready and excited to be married.  By the end of the night our faces actually hurt from smiling so much.  

Everyone says remember the memories --- and how I cling to them, but sometimes I think, he is so much more than that.  I have felt his love, his kiss, his shining soul and smile looking into mine.... And sometimes memories simply are not enough.  I wish I could explain how perfect we are for each other.  How wonderful every moment together was.  Together we are undefinable, perfectly matched, and if put simply -- eternal soul mates.  And that is what will get me through.  Not just amazing memories, but the fact that I know the universe brought us together --- and could not be cruel enough to take him from me forever.  That his love still grows for me, and mine for him.  And that we will be together again.  

I am truly amazed by our love --- I am in awe of the man I love and will continue to feel that love and show him everyday.    
I think Frankie put it best in our last anniversary card at two years.  We did not spend the day together, because he was in Kansas training for his deployment, the last couple of lines define so much of how I feel today.  

...I could never be fully myself without you by my side.  There is this void now that I know can never be filled again until you're next to me and we are holding hands and looking into each other's eyes whispering I love you.  I love and miss you so much babe and wish I could be there with you on our day.  
To the love,

“The dawn is not distant, nor is the night starless; love is eternal."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart." 
--Henry Ward Beecher


More than just a dog.

 Frankie and I always talked about our future dogs.  We would have two.  He wanted to get me one if he got deployed, but because his deployment was not the typical one, and one that came up so quickly, the timing was wrong.  Plus, I wanted him to take part in the puppy-hood stage.  We had the names picked out and everything.  

Our puppy plan is sounding similar to our having children plan!  :)  Well, obviously we never got that chance, so I am working on the one that I can.  I am so excited to have a puppy.  He is my baby that I always wanted by age 30 and the new little guy in my life for the next 10 - 15 years.

 I am so excited his name will be Kailua.  Frankie and I picked that name out to always remember our first long-term duty station in Hawaii.  One of our favorite places in the world.  The place that will always remind me of our first and second year of marriage.  The place where we would takes walks or runs almost everyday down to the beach.  I loved holding his hand, talking and laughing about everything, but mostly our about our future together, and how we could not believe how blessed we had been so far and could not wait for so much more to come.  

Having a puppy is a big step for me because to me it represents so many things.  First -- I am ready to take care of not only myself, but another living creature.  Next, I am actually imagining being here on this earth for another 10 - 15 years of my dog's lifespan.  Right after Frankie was killed, I thought God would be nice and find a way to take me right along with him somehow.... I imagined a vicious great white shark attack, a car accident, dying from a freak gasoline fight (Zoolander reference) :)   or maybe even the end of the world.  But, it has been a year and 4 months and none of those things have happened yet ---- and I can honestly say I am happy they didn't happen.  Although, death doesn't scare me, I know there is still so much for me to do in this life, and Frankie will be there throughout it and at the end no matter what - whether it is 5 years or 75 years more.  And lastly, I am still going to work on mine and Frankie's hopes and dreams... with our puppy by my side.  

The Toner's Pup

From time to time, people tell me,
"lighten up, it's just a dog,"
or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog."
They don't understand the distance traveled,
the time spent, or the costs involved for
"just a dog."
Some of my proudest moments have come about with
"just a dog."
Many hours have passed and my only company was
"just a dog,"
but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by
"just a dog,"
and in those days of darkness,
the gentle touch of "just a dog"
gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it's "just a dog,"
then you will probably understand phases
like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or
"just a promise."
"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence
of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.
"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and
patience that make me a better person.
Because of "just a dog" I will rise early,
take long walks and look longingly to the future.
So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog"
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams
of the future, the fond memories of the past,
and the pure joy of the moment.
"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and
diverts my thoughts away from myself and the
worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that
it's not "just a dog"
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps
me from being "just a man."
So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog."
just smile, because they "just don't understand."
by: Sandra Dee Adopted Shepherd Mix, Born May 2004. 


"Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arched across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue."
—Gordon B. Hinckley

My Birthday Rainbows.