I am honestly not even certain what this has to do with being widowed, but it sure as hell has to do with death and loss and trauma and fear. Often times, I begin writing not knowing what will come and find that what needed to be cleansed comes to the surface on its own. I suppose, as someone who is learning to mother the child of a widowed person, it may relate for someone out there. I hope so. Either way, it seems this is what my soul needed to say today.
These past 2 years, I’m learning to mother a young girl who lost her mom a few years ago, and all the while I’m working through my own fears and the ghosts of my own past having lost my mother young as well. Maybe this is all coming up because we just had Mother’s Day and Mike wrote this heart-wrenchingly beautiful post last week about my role in Shelby’s life. Either way, I guess this is what needed to come out for me this week...
I had no idea just how much having a child in my life would bring up all of my own unresolved stuff from my childhood. It makes sense now, but I was truly and completely clueless when I first stepped into this shit (I am imagining every parent smiling right now). To say the least, it is both an incredibly healing and immensely painful process of unraveling pieces of my own heart day by day. Pieces that have been dormant for many years. Some of this stuff I didn’t even know was there.
Letting a child in has proven to be the very scariest kind of openhearted vulnerability that I’ve ever attempted. Guys, this shit is HARD. And it isn’t hard because she is a difficult kid. She makes it so easy on me. It’s hard cecause of course, you can’t really get by with being half-connected or faking it. Kids know. And I know deep down, I have to try my hardest to push past my not-so-great coping mechanisms and my own past trauma to be there for her.
Have you ever ....
Stared at your dead husband's picture, the same one that's been sitting on your nightstand every single day for over 5 years, and suddenly, for no real reason whatsoever, you don't seem to recognize his face as his face?
Have you ever ....
Gone into the closet where you keep a few of his things, still, and taken out a specific t-shirt that always had a faint smell of him on it - only to find that the smell is no longer there, and it has faded away into nothing?
Have you ever ....
Watched your wedding video, the same one that you couldnt bear to watch for years because it was so painful seeing him move and talk and laugh, only to discover that this time, you are listening with extra intensity, because your husband's voice, no longer sounds like your husband?Read more
I had another series of thoughts planned for this week, but it will have to wait. The tragedy in Manchester just has me reeling. So many young girls lost, so many families in the horror of that grief right now.
It is as if I am a ship that is becalmed in the ocean.
Stillness all around me, even as I am aware of movement and chatter around me.
But my world seems still. Even as it moves around me.
Doldrums is the term used to describe the ocean when the winds have disappeared and ships lay still. I’ve read of sailor’s accounts of the eeriness of such an event.
The strange thing about both of these terms, as I use them to describe me and my widow life, are that they aren’t actually true, I suppose.
I’ve been in motion continually in these 4 years since Chuck died. And the world around me has certainly continued moving.
It just doesn’t feel that way to me.Read more
Megan loved being a mother. If there was one thing, one goal in life she had, it was to create a little girl like Shelby. For 7 years, she doted on her, relishing taking her to school, feeding her creamed peas, changing diapers, reading to her, and in effect spending every healthy moment she had with her. Even when she was admitted to the hospital, roughly 5 - 8 times a year for three or four weeks at a time, she wanted Shelby there. Nothing would perk her up and make her smile more than to see her peanut waltzing through the hospital room door, saying “hi mommy”.
She was proud beyond words (still is, I imagine) at who Shelby was. I half assume that the only reason she joined the PTA, and chaperoned different school functions was so she could show Shelby off to the other moms. I mean, i sure as hell didn’t have a desire to sell popcorn balls in a school basement to three dozen other mothers as part of a “fundraiser”, but Megan, damn, she would have been leading the endeavor.
Like so many of these posts go, there's a summary of something in my past with Megan, followed by “Then, she died”Read more
From the moment our daughter, Ryann was born Joey was madly in love with her. She has always been his princess and although he loved his boys, his love for her was different.
The worst part of Joeys passing has always been the pain the children feel. The fact that they will have to grow up without their dad and never be able to experience life with him. But Ryann's pain as always been the hardest. She remembers him not just stories about him. He actually remembers life with him. She cries out at night for him. It's heartbreaking. She is overly sensitive and emotional. She cries if a bug dies because death is real to her. She understands something children should not.
Some moments can be so complex it just floors me. Tonight Mike and I were grilling out in the back yard and taking turns playing ball with his daughter Shelby. We had good music going and a beautiful warm sunny sky. At one point I went in the kitchen to clean up some things and they followed me inside. Mike started dancing with me to a sweet song that came on, and Shelby followed soon after. Before long, we’re all three dancing around in the kitchen together like dorks. Shelby is laughing like crazy and it’s positively a moment from a movie. One of those moments you remember forever, and as soon as it happens, somehow you know you’ll always remember that random silly moment.
The next minute I can feel the underlying emotions stirring. Before long, I’m escaping upstairs with the convenient excuse that I need to write my post for tomorrow. Which was true, but I also needed a moment to myself and I didn’t even understand why.
So I’ve been upstairs a few moments now, had a little cry and collected myself enough. I can hear them still outside playing ball and laughing. Why aren’t I laughing anymore? What even just happened? I’m at a loss for the reason enough that I don’t really want to bother Mike with it when they’re having such fun. It’s more a thing I need to be quiet with a moment to understand.Read more
On mother’s day just past I spent an hour trying to calm my three year old daughter because she didn’t want to get out of the shower. It was a huge tantrum that left the both of us floored and in tears. Admittedly for a while after John passed I let her walk all over me because I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum if she didn’t get her own way. So her behaviour problems towards me are my own fault. As I stood my ground with her and watched her tears fall while she kicked and screamed, I felt defeated. Though I stuck it out with her, for her, because she needs me to be strong. It’s not easy.
On March 31st, in NYC, I was honored to be chosen to give a TEDx Talk, at Adelphi University. My talk was about how we, as a society, need to change the conversation about grief and loss and death, and change the way we treat both the people we love who have died, AND those that are left behind to miss and grieve them. The talk was performed live in front of an audience of about 400, and also was live-streamed on the internet all over the world. The response was insanely amazing and instant, to the live talk. For the past month and a half, I have been patiently (impatiently) waiting for the green light from the TED corporate people, to release my talk into the internet, and be able to finally share it all over social media. Well, my release date was Wednesday, and so it is now out there for the world to see, online, where it will remain forever.Read more
I don't really have anything particular to write about this week. No news on the house, work is going, school is going.
In the middle of it all, I am feeling that ring of sadness around it all. Sad that my life has changed so much as a result of losing Mike, sad that he isn't here to share it with anymore, sad that my future will not include him.
Just the normal, obvious feelings of grief that don't go away.