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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I Must Write of This, Because~

I must write about Love, because I will go fucking insane if I write of the painful past, I will go fucking insane from..I don't know...rage? World stopping anxiety? Despair? 

It goes by many names, this feeling that is the experience I shared with Chuck in his hospice time. In the cancer time. In his death and dying time.

How I torture myself by reading the blogs I wrote on my private page, of those times. 

The horrifying morning where I drove Chuck to the ER because this man who had a massively high pain threshold could no longer absorb the pain of the cancer that returned and ate his ribs, and made it difficult to walk.

The determination of me, of our kids, to make his hospice time one of Love, not instead of fear, but as a cup for the fear.

The horror of realizing that my beloved husband was dying and I couldn't stop it.

And the sharp in breath I took when I recognized, somehow, that the breath he was taking at that moment, would be his last breath.

The...everything...as I put my hand on his heart and knew that he was gone.

And that my entire life was somehow, also...gone.

My god, the dread, the panic, the purity of that moment of sheer Hiroshima level shock...

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Number Eleven

Four years have come and gone since the last time Megan was present for Shelby’s birthday.  By February 17, 2014, Megan had already been diagnosed with rejection, although she hadn’t been admitted to the hospital as of yet.  Shelby was turning seven, and four days prior, Megan and I received the results from her bronchoscopy.

We rented out one of those “inflatable gym” spaces for Shelby, and invited all of her friends to join.  It was a madhouse, to say the least...screaming, jumping, running around, laughing, and smiles from ear to ear.  I distinctly remember the both of us having nervous thoughts in the back of our minds about Megan’s health, but suppressing all of them in order to give Shelby the birthday she wanted.  She would have no clue, no inkling of something amiss on this day.

Going through some old texts and emails last week, I came across a conversation that Megan and I had just a day or two before the party…

 

Megan: Should we talk to Shelby about it?

Mike: Yeah, but let’s do it together.  I don’t know how to start the convo with her, but we need to anyway.

Megan: Yeah.  I don’t like this.

Mike: Me either.

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Strong on Your Love

I am tired of trying to be - 'not sad'.

  I am exhausted from the aching in my heart. 

I am weary from recognizing Joy everywhere,

All around me,

And, still feeling hollow inside,

I am aware of all the good in my life,

My heart is grateful for what I have.

So, I ask myself again and again,

Why isn't it enough?

Why isn't my life enough - without him?

I don't have the answer to this question.

For now, all I can do is ask.

And, I will be strong on his love as I seek the answers... 

 

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Painting: Big Heart by Ivan Guaderrama

 

The truth is, I can write all my positive thoughts and affirmations onto this page;

But, I can not reverse all the ways that Mike's death has permanently changed me. 

 

I'm different now. 

Nothing can alter this. 

I can't be who I used to be - ever again.

As I am moving forward I am not just grieving Mike,

I am grieving the person I was when he was alive.

- I miss her too -

 

 

My eyes look dull and lifeless.  Sometimes...

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100% Chance of Rain

A few weeks ago, a milestone came that I have dreaded for a very long time. It’s odd to say that, considering it was my anniversary with someone I love very much. But it wasn’t just any anniversary. It was the third year since the day Mike and I met. The third anniversary was also the last I got to have with Drew… he died six days later, suddenly. This is almost unbelievable to me.. As my 3 years with Mike have felt like a whirlwind, and the same amount of time with Drew felt somehow like a decade.

It’s no surprise that I’ve had many mixed emotions the past few weeks. Emotions about the fact that, going forward from here, each new day with Mike is one more day than what I got to have with Drew. Emotions about Mike dying somehow suddenly a week after our third anniversary. I’ve even had some particularly difficult and confusing dreams as of late… dreams that seem like my mind trying to make sense of it all again, just like in the first year after he died.

I’ve struggled to find words about how all this feels. I haven’t really even journaled about it, which is my usual go-to. So I’m trying here to confront those feelings. I don’t want to. I don’t like these feelings. Because they are so complex. Because I don’t even fully understand them. Because they make me feel guilty for not being 100% joyful when milestones hit. Quite bluntly, I feel resentment. And It feels awful. And Ugly. And not at all like a feeling I want to have.

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Indifference

Do things ever really work out?
 
This Valentine’s Day put me at pause with that thought as I lay dying, staring at the neutral-colored walls of my bedroom while listening to the sounds of silence in an ever-enclosing prison of flu-ridden paralysis. 
 
Time stood still.  When it does so, my mind agonizes and over-analyzes.
 
The past.  The present.  The future. 
 
All of it.
 
I think about love often.  What it means.  What it means to me now.  How it should be expressed. How it should be approached and carried out.
 
I’ve never kept a woman.  I’ve only ever admired one for a fleeting moment before she disappeared from my life. Leaving me to deal with the damages, however great or small they may be, to either learn from or discard what was necessary and applicable to my development as a better man.
 
Linzi was the fairy tale romance. The only evidence I will ever need to know that love exists.  Fairy tales for me, however, tend to turn to either nightmares or tragedies of a foregone Shakespearean era.
 
It was tragic. It was beautiful. It was bittersweet.
 
It cannot be replicated, merely recited to the best of one’s abilities in a futile attempt to recapture what once made it stand as a classic to begin with.
 
Her existence was temporary. Her impact was permanent.
 

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The Me in the We

I introduced who I am now last week but that is just a piece of me and really, she’s still kind of new around here. The other part of me is the me before Mike died. She was around for a long time and was very comfortable in her skin. At the time, I truly thought that version of myself was very independent but after he died I quickly realized how much of my identity was closely tied to Mike. I’m not saying it was a bad thing; it was just kind of a surprise to me. It suited me then and I liked myself and who he helped me be. Today I’d like to introduce me from before Mike died and our story. In introducing me from before and our story you’ll get to know more about Mike too. I can’t and don’t want to separate the two. He was and still is a big part of me.

The Before me was young. She was a bit naive about the world. She smiled with her eyes and with her whole heart. Sometimes now I begrudge her a bit for that but she had no reason to be any different. She was happy in the most innocent, purest form. When I can take a step back to genuinely reflect, I am glad she had that time to be that way. The reality of life could wait.

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The Power of This 4 Letter Word~

I believe in Love.
I believe that Love enriches and empowers and creates and morphs mere humans into magnificent beings.
I believe that life dares us and bids us, at our best and our worst, to open our hearts to Love.
I believe that life challenges us, through strife and perplexity and awkwardness, to continue loving in the face of all that it throws at us.
Life entreats us and whispers to us…allow, yield, concede, open, persevere,
In spite of and because of…
Love. Just Love.

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Winds of Change

 

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Photo source: mapofthenight

 

 

Grief takes us to a secluded, dark place. 

 We hesitate. 

We resist settling into this lonely realm. 

But, in order to slowly breathe life back into ourselves,

We have to temporarily take residence in this muted, mysterious environment,    

I resisted this shadowy, hidden place for a long, long time. 

I ran from it whenever possible. 

Because, I was scared to be alone in the "nothingness" of this place.

I had the notion that my fears would swallow me alive.

I thought I would drown in the silence. 

Maybe you feel like this today. 

If you feel lonely,

Displaced and rootless,

You are not alone...

If you are drifting in a place of "nothingness"

Does it comfort you to know,

I am here - in this abyss - with you.

Take my hand,

Let's find our way... 

 

 

We need to turn to our hearts for direction. 

If you listen, in the stillness, past your heartbeat, you can faintly hear the breeze. 

The Winds of Change are here... 

 

 

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Still Searching for Me

I don’t think I ever anticipated how difficult one aspect of dating a widower with kids would be for me… my own self-imposed comparisons. I don’t think I was equipped to handle this, and honestly I’m probably still not doing the best job of managing, though I am trying.

It was and continues to be tough that I moved into someone else’s life that was so established and so different from my own. To move into the house Mike and his wife raised their child in together. The house they were first married in together. To know there's a whole history here that does not include me. And what I still think I may be having a lot of trouble with as someone who is dating a widower is constantly holding myself up to this reflection of his wife. In particular, her as a mother, and their relationship as parents.

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