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.Read more
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.
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.
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.
Photo source: mapofthenight
Grief takes us to a secluded, dark place.
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...
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.Read more
Don Shepherd likes to send me great, big, obvious signs. I never question that it's him. I just know. One of the signs he sends over and over, is the big yellow Penske moving truck.
On Superbowl Sunday, 2005, Don pulled up in a big yellow Penske truck, with his car attached and his cat in his lap, after driving 24 hours to New Jersey from Florida - and we began our new adventure together. He moved into my apartment and turned it from a place to live, into a home. He would ask me to be his wife 10 months later, and we would be married 4 years and 9 months before his sudden death. The Penske truck, to me, represents new beginnings. I usually see it a lot this time of year - and I usually see it right after I was thinking about or talking about Don. When he is coming in strongest, I will see lots of them right in a row, while driving. Or one will be parked somewhere significant, on a milestone kind of day. Whenever I see one, I say " Hi, Don." It's become part of my vocabulary and a normal part of life.Read more
I sometimes feel like I have 2 identities: the me before and the me after my husband, Mike, died. I was originally going to introduce myself by introducing the me before I became a widow but that wasn’t sitting well with me as a first impression. It’s not really who I am today. It is still important to how my current identity developed but it is not all of it. Who I am today is more relevant because it is me in this moment. However, unlike the Before Me who knew who she was and can be described pretty clearly, the Now Me is still a work in progress and therefore harder to explain.
Some parts of me are still straightforward though. I’m 29 years old. I feel like possibly going on 80 sometimes, but nope, just 29. I am a grade 1/2 teacher in Ontario, Canada. I have a dog named Tango who has to listen to me when I share about my day. He’s pretty good at it and he doesn’t interrupt except to give me kisses, which is also acceptable. I love the outdoors and being active. I go for a lot of hikes with my dog and take him cross-country skiing (skijorning) in the winter. I also like mountain biking, snowboarding, running, travelling, cottaging and working out. I don’t particularly love to cook but I love to eat so I’m a pretty decent cook. I do love to bake. And read and write. I have amazing friends and family who I also enjoy spending time with. I’d appreciate adding a few hours in the day so I have time for all the things I want to do. See, I can do “normal.Read more
What I have come to understand about grief and widowhood and the struggles that come with it.
Except that it has the power to eat you up and spit you out, sweating and breathing hard on the other side. When you get to the other side, and it’s anybody’s guess as to when that might happen. There is no timeline for any of this, as I’ve heard repeatedly over the 4 years and 10 months since Chuck’s death.
Three years is not an insignificant amount of time to be in a relationship with someone.
Three years is how long Megan and I dated before we were married.
Three years is how long Megan was “healthy” during our relationship.
Three years is how old Shelby was when her mother was carted away in an ambulance, on her way to an unknown future.
Three years is how long Sarah and Drew were together before his death.
Three years ago, Sarah and I met.Read more