Forever Loved, Forever Missed

The grief journey of a girl (27) who lost her true love, James (29) on the 22 Dec 2013. He was hit off his bike by an alleged DUI driver.
Five years just wasn't long enough. I miss you.
http://johnrapley.wix.com/jamesrapleymemorial

When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming.

Just watched finding nemo, haven’t seen it in years but we were reminded of it because my friend C and I can’t swim well and her husband says she has a nemo fin.

It’s such a cute movie (except we skipped past the sad beginning).

And a friend of James who lost her mother a few years ago said her and her sisters catch phrase during their acute grief stage was “just keep swimming”.

I’m trying, I feel like I’m going upstream but I’m slowing getting somewhere. I’m just taking it day by day, just keeping on swimming.

(Source: bellisaro)

Seven months. I still can’t believe it. I still can’t understand why this happened. I just want you back so bad. But I am trying to keep moving forward and live my life without regrets for both of us. So in that vein, on Sunday I arrived back in Chicago and will be re-starting at the job you were so proud of me for getting; I know I’d regret not giving it another go. 

Then for today’s no regrets tribute C and I planned to do the kayaking you had wanted to do down the Chicago River, but luck wasn’t on our side, supposedly a storm was coming (which it didn’t) so they wouldn’t let us rent. I tried not to cry but couldn’t help it in the end. Then we walked past rental bikes (all for rent without helmets like the bike James rented in L.A.) and then a fire truck drove past which set me off. I felt like I was getting everything thrown at me to try to continue to teach me to practice my positivity and patience. In the end I calmed down and it was ok. I kept thinking just moving to Chicago is enough of a tribute.

Instead, we went and had my first dip in Lake Michigan. You had been so excited to spend time at the “beach” this summer :(

We will try for kayaking tomorrow.

I miss you so much James, you are always in my heart.

Forever loved, forever missed xoxo

http://johnrapley.wix.com/jamesrapleymemorial

Seven months. I still can’t believe it. I still can’t understand why this happened. I just want you back so bad. But I am trying to keep moving forward and live my life without regrets for both of us. So in that vein, on Sunday I arrived back in Chicago and will be re-starting at the job you were so proud of me for getting; I know I’d regret not giving it another go.

Then for today’s no regrets tribute C and I planned to do the kayaking you had wanted to do down the Chicago River, but luck wasn’t on our side, supposedly a storm was coming (which it didn’t) so they wouldn’t let us rent. I tried not to cry but couldn’t help it in the end. Then we walked past rental bikes (all for rent without helmets like the bike James rented in L.A.) and then a fire truck drove past which set me off. I felt like I was getting everything thrown at me to try to continue to teach me to practice my positivity and patience. In the end I calmed down and it was ok. I kept thinking just moving to Chicago is enough of a tribute.

Instead, we went and had my first dip in Lake Michigan. You had been so excited to spend time at the “beach” this summer :(

We will try for kayaking tomorrow.

I miss you so much James, you are always in my heart.

Forever loved, forever missed xoxo

http://johnrapley.wix.com/jamesrapleymemorial

7 months

I have cried every day for the past 7 months, bar one.

Every single day.
Seven months.

I didn’t think it was possible to shed that many tears. If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d be able to cry every day for 7 months I would have laughed at the idea as absurd.

We would probably have been engaged by now.

I’m just so sad.

Delaying the inevitable

Lying in bed still at 11am, unable to muster the energy or motivation to get up and start my new life here, my ‘second first’ Chicago chapter without James.

I cried at the airport
I cried on the plane
I cried when I arrived in Chicago
I cried when I got to my room
But now I can’t seem to cry, I’m just numb right now.

Maybe a long shower will help get me moving….

This is it. Shit gets real. Now.

Sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Chicago, crying.

Saying goodbye to M at the airport the tears started flowing and haven’t really stopped. He and his wife, S have been amazing support and saying bye to him just made me realise I’m now doing this alone.

James isn’t going to be at the other end of this flight to pick me up. I hate this.

At least crying isn’t that unusual at airports so no one is looking at me funny….

Last two days have been lovely spending time with three of James best friends in San Fran. I’m so very glad I decided to come here, it’s worked out well. I feel like I’m on a mini holiday before real life sets in.

I haven’t cried at all which I’m surprised about. I have had a few moments where I’ve wished James was here with us, but no tears. 

I think it’s because I’ve been to San Fran a couple of times, and once already on my tribute trip after the accident so it’s familiar and I’m with his friends who I’m comfortable with. It may also be because it hasn’t really set in that this is real. It all happened so quickly in the end it doesn’t seem real yet that I’ve actually moved back to the USA.

I freaked out on the plane, as this whole time all I’d been doing was focusing on the days leading up to setting foot on the plane and couldn’t think about life after that. Then getting on the plane my mind started thinking about the future and life in Chicago I was like wtf have I done! This is too much, how can I be going back already? I don’t have the support I need, I don’t want to do this without James!

But since I’ve arrived I’ve been ok. I am actually wanting to be more upset when I get to Chicago, this just feels weird atm, but we’ll see how I go, I’m just taking it as I comes.

Last two days have been lovely spending time with three of James best friends in San Fran. I’m so very glad I decided to come here, it’s worked out well. I feel like I’m on a mini holiday before real life sets in.

I haven’t cried at all which I’m surprised about. I have had a few moments where I’ve wished James was here with us, but no tears.

I think it’s because I’ve been to San Fran a couple of times, and once already on my tribute trip after the accident so it’s familiar and I’m with his friends who I’m comfortable with. It may also be because it hasn’t really set in that this is real. It all happened so quickly in the end it doesn’t seem real yet that I’ve actually moved back to the USA.

I freaked out on the plane, as this whole time all I’d been doing was focusing on the days leading up to setting foot on the plane and couldn’t think about life after that. Then getting on the plane my mind started thinking about the future and life in Chicago I was like wtf have I done! This is too much, how can I be going back already? I don’t have the support I need, I don’t want to do this without James!

But since I’ve arrived I’ve been ok. I am actually wanting to be more upset when I get to Chicago, this just feels weird atm, but we’ll see how I go, I’m just taking it as I comes.

Have arrived safely in San Fran for the weekend.

Only cried 2 hours out of the 13 hour flight which I think is a pretty good effort.

Doing ok now, spending time with his friends is nice. Very glad I stopped here instead of going straight to Chicago, I would have been wrecked if I’d gone straight there and almost certainly would have broken down. This is a much better option.

Leaving tomorrow morning on my “second first” Chicago move. Have had lots of tears as it hits me that I’m doing this again just without him :(

Spent time at his parents house today  and sat with his ashes which I needed to do. Lots of tears. I miss him so much.

As hard as these last few days have been, I’ve also had some nice messages of support and had been good spending time with all the different people who have been great support over these past 6 months.

I got this beautiful message below as well as the quote, on Facebook from one of the girls from my support group. It made my cry (in a good way) and are just perfect words, and words I need to hear when I’m feeling down on myself or in a dark place and go to the thoughts of thinking it would be better if it had been me instead. There are some very kind people in this world.

*****

Dearest Karen, 
We met in the worst possible circumstances, in the rawness of grief. Your grief story broke my heart and you looked so fragile then. I felt an immediate urge to tuck you under my wing, to nurture you and protect you. I thought I could be one of the older and wiser influences you needed to guide you forward. But then I stumbled and it was you rescuing me, you shining through with kindness, words of inspiration, strength and wisdom. You captaining our group’s little life raft through the storms.
You say that James was the one who had so much to give to the world. However Julie, Kevin and I see only the beauty and strength you have to offer in your own right. Through you, we have come to know the James that you so love, admire and cherish. However don’t ever lose sight of the fact that although he has helped to shape your life, he also saw something he needed in you and chose you to be his life partner for a reason. For all his greatness, you were clearly one of his best choices in life. You were the boost to his confidence, the networker and driving force he needed in order for his dreams and ambitions to spring forth and be shared with so many others for the greater good. He would be so grateful for the way in which you continue to love, honour and carry his dreams forward Karen. 
Thank you for sharing those dreams with us, for helping to inspire hope again when all seemed lost. Your physical presence will be missed at our gatherings but you will always be a part of the Narnia crew. I wish you well on this next part of your journey. For all my complaining and empty threats to undermine your Visa application (LOL), I know this is the right path for you and I truly wish only the best for you. 
Safe travels gorgeous girl!!! M xoxo

Leaving tomorrow morning on my “second first” Chicago move. Have had lots of tears as it hits me that I’m doing this again just without him :(

Spent time at his parents house today and sat with his ashes which I needed to do. Lots of tears. I miss him so much.

As hard as these last few days have been, I’ve also had some nice messages of support and had been good spending time with all the different people who have been great support over these past 6 months.

I got this beautiful message below as well as the quote, on Facebook from one of the girls from my support group. It made my cry (in a good way) and are just perfect words, and words I need to hear when I’m feeling down on myself or in a dark place and go to the thoughts of thinking it would be better if it had been me instead. There are some very kind people in this world.

*****

Dearest Karen,
We met in the worst possible circumstances, in the rawness of grief. Your grief story broke my heart and you looked so fragile then. I felt an immediate urge to tuck you under my wing, to nurture you and protect you. I thought I could be one of the older and wiser influences you needed to guide you forward. But then I stumbled and it was you rescuing me, you shining through with kindness, words of inspiration, strength and wisdom. You captaining our group’s little life raft through the storms.
You say that James was the one who had so much to give to the world. However Julie, Kevin and I see only the beauty and strength you have to offer in your own right. Through you, we have come to know the James that you so love, admire and cherish. However don’t ever lose sight of the fact that although he has helped to shape your life, he also saw something he needed in you and chose you to be his life partner for a reason. For all his greatness, you were clearly one of his best choices in life. You were the boost to his confidence, the networker and driving force he needed in order for his dreams and ambitions to spring forth and be shared with so many others for the greater good. He would be so grateful for the way in which you continue to love, honour and carry his dreams forward Karen.
Thank you for sharing those dreams with us, for helping to inspire hope again when all seemed lost. Your physical presence will be missed at our gatherings but you will always be a part of the Narnia crew. I wish you well on this next part of your journey. For all my complaining and empty threats to undermine your Visa application (LOL), I know this is the right path for you and I truly wish only the best for you.
Safe travels gorgeous girl!!! M xoxo

Remembering James’ last night in Australia

Last night after my final day at volunteering (which was lovely with lots of hugs and appreciation) I spent some time reflecting for the last time at the park we spent time in, walked past James’s old house he lived in when we first got together, then met up with James good friend C and we watched “a trip to Italy” at the Sun Theatre and then had dinner at the corner pub, the Blarney Stone.

James loved going to the movies and the Sun Theatre was his favorite. It’s an old style movie theatre and he just loved the setting and the occasion of going to the cinema. 

So for his last night in Australia before moving to Chicago in June last year we had dinner at the Blarney and watched Fast and Furious 6 (the only thing on!!) at the Sun with M. James made me go up and pay for his parma using all his change which he needed to get rid of and was too embarrassed to do himself haha. 

After the movie we went back to his place, put his bags in my car and farewelled his house, and stayed at my place before I took him to the airport the next morning.

I’m glad he did something he loved the last time he was in Australia and I’m glad I was able to do the same before I head off on Friday. It was a nice night and I have found it gives me strength doing things that meant things to him. I didn’t cry at the cinema or dinner, I just appreciated being there and having all the memories.

Remembering James’ last night in Australia

Last night after my final day at volunteering (which was lovely with lots of hugs and appreciation) I spent some time reflecting for the last time at the park we spent time in, walked past James’s old house he lived in when we first got together, then met up with James good friend C and we watched “a trip to Italy” at the Sun Theatre and then had dinner at the corner pub, the Blarney Stone.

James loved going to the movies and the Sun Theatre was his favorite. It’s an old style movie theatre and he just loved the setting and the occasion of going to the cinema.

So for his last night in Australia before moving to Chicago in June last year we had dinner at the Blarney and watched Fast and Furious 6 (the only thing on!!) at the Sun with M. James made me go up and pay for his parma using all his change which he needed to get rid of and was too embarrassed to do himself haha.

After the movie we went back to his place, put his bags in my car and farewelled his house, and stayed at my place before I took him to the airport the next morning.

I’m glad he did something he loved the last time he was in Australia and I’m glad I was able to do the same before I head off on Friday. It was a nice night and I have found it gives me strength doing things that meant things to him. I didn’t cry at the cinema or dinner, I just appreciated being there and having all the memories.

Our first joint bank account

Going through stacks of documents in prep for leaving.

Came across some cheques for the joint bank account we’d opened a week prior to me losing James, and started crying. Packing is taking me forever.

Our first joint bank account. It made our new life together so official.

I was so looking forward to buying us dinner on “our account” when you got back.

It never got one transaction, not one.

:(

Remembering our first date and first kiss.
I was in the city today for my final  acupuncture session and realised when I left that it would be the last time I would be in the cbd before I left for Chicago.
I then realised the last place I hadn’t yet been was the cafe that we had our first date, and so my body walked me there almost without my control. I have found solace in revisiting all the places that have some history for us, particularly it seems places early on in our relationship.
And while the cafe has now been replaced by a casual greek restaurant, the outdoor seating is still there, the place we had our first date.
I went inside to eat this time, as it was freezing outside, but sitting and looking at the outdoor table I could remember us so young and awkward. And the tears welled up.
We’d almost never gone on that date. After many months of comical misunderstandings, the night before you’d finally asked me to dinner on the Friday. Unfortunately I couldn’t go as I had my work xmas party then, so instead you’d asked me to lunch the next day. In my young and naive mind I didn’t want to sound too desperate, so I’d accepted without too much fuss and a hug, however you’d taken it as a polite rejection!
So the next day I waited and waited for you to email me about lunch. Just before 12pm I finally emailed you along the lines of “I know we were both pretty drunk last night, but I was pretty sure we organised to have lunch today”. You replied straight away (and finally realised I was interested!). I always teased that if I hadn’t written that email we’d have never gotten together!
We met in the foyer and as you hadn’t organised anywhere to go and we were both so nervous we wandered around just chatting until we finally had to pick somewhere to eat before lunch was over. We sat outside and both had foccacias, I really didn’t care what I ate, I was so nervous! I don’t remember what we talked about except I remember you spoke of your sister who you were living with at the time. I also remember having to hide my face as my entire team walked past! I was so embarrassed to be on a date, given they all knew you as we worked together!
It was a nice date. I love how we met at work and both had eyes for each other but were both to awkward and unaware to realise the other was interested.
We’d then organised to have dinner at your place the next week. Again it was pretty awkward, I got lost on the way (pre smart phones and Google maps!) and you were super nervous. We watched a movie and I kept waiting for you to make a move but you were a gentleman. We shared our first kiss as you walked me to my car.
I miss you so much.

Remembering our first date and first kiss.

I was in the city today for my final acupuncture session and realised when I left that it would be the last time I would be in the cbd before I left for Chicago.

I then realised the last place I hadn’t yet been was the cafe that we had our first date, and so my body walked me there almost without my control. I have found solace in revisiting all the places that have some history for us, particularly it seems places early on in our relationship.

And while the cafe has now been replaced by a casual greek restaurant, the outdoor seating is still there, the place we had our first date.

I went inside to eat this time, as it was freezing outside, but sitting and looking at the outdoor table I could remember us so young and awkward. And the tears welled up.

We’d almost never gone on that date. After many months of comical misunderstandings, the night before you’d finally asked me to dinner on the Friday. Unfortunately I couldn’t go as I had my work xmas party then, so instead you’d asked me to lunch the next day. In my young and naive mind I didn’t want to sound too desperate, so I’d accepted without too much fuss and a hug, however you’d taken it as a polite rejection!

So the next day I waited and waited for you to email me about lunch. Just before 12pm I finally emailed you along the lines of “I know we were both pretty drunk last night, but I was pretty sure we organised to have lunch today”. You replied straight away (and finally realised I was interested!). I always teased that if I hadn’t written that email we’d have never gotten together!

We met in the foyer and as you hadn’t organised anywhere to go and we were both so nervous we wandered around just chatting until we finally had to pick somewhere to eat before lunch was over. We sat outside and both had foccacias, I really didn’t care what I ate, I was so nervous! I don’t remember what we talked about except I remember you spoke of your sister who you were living with at the time. I also remember having to hide my face as my entire team walked past! I was so embarrassed to be on a date, given they all knew you as we worked together!

It was a nice date. I love how we met at work and both had eyes for each other but were both to awkward and unaware to realise the other was interested.

We’d then organised to have dinner at your place the next week. Again it was pretty awkward, I got lost on the way (pre smart phones and Google maps!) and you were super nervous. We watched a movie and I kept waiting for you to make a move but you were a gentleman. We shared our first kiss as you walked me to my car.

I miss you so much.