What I knew instinctively as soon as Chuck died, and what I knew I had to immediately institute with myself and my body language, my behavior, my thinking.
Even though my brain was fogged with devastation.
Grief is isolating.
Do every damn thing you can so that you can’t, you don’t, isolate. Whether you want to or not. Don’t isolate. Therein lies your own living death.
Make yourself visible. You want to disappear. Don’t allow it to happen. Make yourself so visible that people will pay attention and, if you try to disappear, they’ll wonder where you are. This will be your saving grace.Read more
In about 36 hours, Shelby, Sarah and I are hitting the road. We’re not going to Texas, or the beach, or New York, or to visit my parents. We’re not planning this trip amongst anyone other than ourselves. I neither desired or solicited anyone else’s input with regards to our plans, other than Sarah and Shelby. We’re headed to the mountains in North Carolina, because of course we’re headed to the mountains.
In years past, our “family vacations” were, in general, a week-long trip to Myrtle Beach with Megan’s parents and siblings. Sure, Megan and I’s honeymoon was in Gatlinburg, and just the two of us. We also spent a week in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco together. Neither of those trip included Shelby though.
In 12 years as a couple, 7 of which included Shelby, we took only one trip where we planned and executed everything for ourselves...a trip to Maine. Shelby still talks about that trip, 5 years later. She remembers some things from our 4 or 5 trips to the beach, certainly, but it’s Maine that she wants to go back to.
I have recently discovered the latest in a list of annoyances caused by being a … (I still choke on the word “widow”) … alone.
As I write this post I am preparing to board a plane tomorrow for San Diego … Widows Camp. There. I said it. I don't fly back in until Sunday night so I have to write the post early.
I’m sure that many of you who read these blog posts are already aware that Widows Camp is this weekend (or, by the time you read this, has just finished). Many of you are probably attending (or attended) it yourselves and are / were even looking forward to it. As for me, well, I am forcing myself to go despite the almost unbearable amount of anxiety it is causing me. I know, I know … I am going to meet with people who may actually understand me and all the shit I’ve gone through, and I should not be anxious about it. But sometimes knowing how I should feel is just not the way I actually do feel, and this is one of those times.Read more
Last week, I wrote about having a wonderfully ungraceful meltdown from trying to take on and figure out just a bit too much all at once in this new life of mine. In the past week, I’ve slowed WAY down. I’ve stopped making overwhelming to-do lists. I’ve let myself wander and enjoy things. I’ve gone for morning walks and tried to focus on being kinder to myself. I’ve spent more time being quiet, and trying to pay attention to what’s really important. I’ve forced myself - against my will - to be more social and to reach out to support others who might need it too.
All of this has helped tremendously, but the thing that has really shaken me up and re-aligned my over-analytical brain was something much bigger. On Monday afternoon, I got a phone call from one of my very closest friends. We never call unexpected, so I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, the news was not good. One of our friends had finally passed away, after a lifetime battle with an autoimmune disease that made her body attack itself terribly. And though I would not say we were close friends… she and I became closer because of Drew’s death. She reached out to me, hardly knowing me, and our friendship grew for several years as we wrote back and forth about death, grief, the darkness of life… about art and creativity and our love of nature. She was a talented artist and one of the most unique souls I have ever known. She knew things about life that most of us do not know - those of us who have never had to face our own mortality. I knew things she did not, having lost so many in my life before her. We were always learning from each other, and so even though we were not particularly close friends, it kind of always felt like our souls had known each other for many lifetimes.
Despite all this woman had been through, she had a brightness in her soul that everyone noticed. A brightness perhaps that comes from the burden of knowing you will not live long. And though we knew she would likely pass in a few months, it came more suddenly this week than expected. It hit me harder than I thought it would. And that familiar feeling came… the very pit of my soul could feel that her light had gone out. Her brilliant light, and all of the creative energy and beauty that she brought to this world just by being her and sharing what she loved with all of us… it was gone now. The feeling inside me that whenever I thought of her, I felt her aliveness, and it filled me with a little more of that aliveness too… just knowing she was out there living and being in such a beautiful way. It was all quiet now... except it wasn't actually. The more I listened, the more I began to hear her song again...Read more
Yesterday, August 9th, would have been our 18th wedding anniversary. Can it really be so long since that day we said our vows on that beach in Maui? He died before we made 14. I hear of people married 25 years, 40 years, 55 years…we never got that. But I am grateful for the years we did have. Believe me.
One of Mike’s best friends died recently here in Kona. Tabo and his family were endearingly important to our happy welcome to this island when we moved here in 2001. We shared so many meals together, holidays, birthdays. His wife Lani taught me to weave ti plant leis and to pick the flowers from our native Ohia trees…I remember she told me the legend that if you picked an Ohia flower, it would rain, and the day we first did that together, it did indeed start to rain. That time was just purely magical for us, becoming part of life here on this remote island with its rich history.
Do you get lonely out on the road?
That question has come my way numerous times in the 4 years and 3 months that I’ve traveled the country on my Odyssey of Love.
The simple and quick answer is yes.
It’s incredibly lonely. It’s a loneliness that permeates down to my bones, head to toe.
Even sitting here, typing this blog, an immediate image comes to mind, of a long, long, 2 lane road stretching ahead of me for miles and miles. I occasionally pass through small towns with maybe a single stop light. I wonder, every time, how they continue to exist, in the middle of nowhere.
I can feel the hot wind on my arm, braced on the open window. The sunroof is open. Tunes play; songs that Chuck and I listened to, tunes that are new since his death…
Sitting here, I can feel the loneliness of the broad plains of Kansas and Missouri, the cornfields of Indiana and Illinois, see the foothills of the Rocky Mts in the far distance as I reach Colorado, or loop and dip as I chug up the hills of New Mexico…the beauty of this country demands a response. It always engendered awe and thrills for me, as Chuck and I traveled.
Now? Yeah, it’s lonely.Read more
This past Sunday, August 6th, would have been Megan and I’s 12th anniversary. Sarah, Shelby and I were camping, with Sarah’s sister, and as the morning light (and two dogs) woke me up, I immediately noted the significance of the date.
Then I crawled out of the tent, took care of the dogs, and made some coffee.
As I sat down for that first, glorious sip of coffee in the morning, I remembered that it was our anniversary.
Then I rekindled the campfire.
As Shelby woke up, crawling out of the nylon dome, I couldn’t help but think of the fact that she was emerging in the New York woods as the biggest reminder of Megan and I’s marriage.
I got her a pop tart to munch on as she sat by the campfire.
This week my daughter and I caught the ferry over to The Sunshine Coast in southern BC and toured Gibsons and Sechelt. Gibsons was home to the filming of the television show “The Beachcombers” from 1972 to 1990. It was also the first hometown to Wendy and Ben from 1993 to 1997. It’s where we lived when we got married, it’s where we built our first home, and it’s where we had our first baby.
Raegan and I played tourist and she humoured me while I drove around and told her a hundred stories that all started with “I remember one time, right in this very spot, Dad and I (insert memory here) …” She was a good sport. We ended up on the beach in Sechelt at the exact spot where Ben proposed to me.
This past week, I was hopeful about beginning to make some positive shifts in my life. About trying to focus more on the joys of life. I had some glimmer of the sort of energy and zest I used to have. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. Instead, I found myself in a state of overwhelm, to the point of having an anxiety attack on Monday - which hasn’t happened in over a year.
I know from that, something is definitely not going right. The whole rest of the week has proven no better… my mind will not seem to turn off. Constant racing about all number of things from the pressures and expectations of being a step mom, to the stress of trying to “get somewhere” with my business that never feels like it’s getting anywhere. The nagging stress that having some extra money would really help Mike and I out, and the pressure I’ve put on myself to try and find all sorts of ways to bring that in… none of which have panned out really so far. I guess sometimes we don’t even realize how hard things are getting, until we hit the wall. The wall for me, is anxiety.Read more
When someone you love dies, you don't lose them all at once.
You lose them little by little.
Breathe by breathe.
Fragment by fragment.
You lose them hour by hour. Minute by minute. Month by month. Year by lengthy year.
It doesn't happen all at once.
It doesn't ever NOT happen.
Pieces of that person, that life, fall away as time goes by.
Sometimes you don't notice it all at once,
and other times,
it hits you through the skull like an ice-pick,
chopping away at your heart.
When someone you love dies,
they don't die in one moment.
They die all the time,
over and over again,