Olivia Arnold

My Family

I’ve spent the last two weekends on wonderful adventures with wonderful people. Two weekends ago I was in Quebec for a snowboarding trip and this past weekend I was up north. Both times I was with a combination of people from both of my families and friends. I feel overwhelmingly grateful for all of these people in my life. I’m grateful that they continue to be a part of my life and evolve with me. I’m grateful that people from both of my families and my friends all get along and hang out together. I’m just grateful.

arnolds1.jpgI’ve heard of other widows who have strained relationships with their in-laws after their husband dies. I am fortunate that my experience has been quite the opposite. If anything, it has made my relationship with them stronger. The way I see it is that I have two families now that are both equally mine. They were of course my family before but they were Mike’s family first whereas now they are just mine. They are amazing people and I don’t think my words can do them justice. I’ve wanted to write about them but the words never seem to be there. They probably still aren’t there but I still need to try to acknowledge them.

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Why I Smile

I often get told, “you’re always smiling” or “you smile a lot.” It’s meant in a positive way of course but I can’t help but reflect on it. A year ago, I might have felt guilty for being told I’m smiling. I had questioned whether I was allowed to feel happy after such a loss and if I was happy, just how happy I was allowed to be. I wanted to look up in a rule book: how often is a “good” widow supposed to smile or feel happy? I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mike or for others to think I wasn’t sad anymore. I was sad but there was room for happiness too.

I don’t feel that way anymore about smiling. Part of it is I really don’t care what others think of me and my happy/sad balance. The bigger part and more important realization is that it is only because I have been so incredibly sad that I can genuinely appreciate when I feel happy.  You see, when I smile and laugh I am so aware of it. I’m so conscious of feeling happy. I don’t think there has been a time since Mike died that I smiled or felt happy for a prolonged period of time without internally acknowledging that, “hey, I’m feeling happy right now and this is really nice.”

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Doing things a late twenty-something woman does...as a widow. Re-creating my life and identity, being outdoors, adventurous and active, teaching, laughing and crying, and living my new life a little less seriously.
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