In the past 30 days, we’ve had a birthday party/ family reunion, visits with friends, Sarah’s sister in town for a few days, Shelby’s best friend at the house after school for five days, a fall festival, halloween costume prep and decorations, dress fittings, tuxedo fittings, counseling appointments, extremely busy days at my work, extremely busy days with Sarah’s work, loads of homework for Shelby, Sarah’s birthday, concerts, trips to grandparents’, airport pickups, and all of the other general day-to-day minutia.
Vegetable harvesting, clothes washing, house cleaning, grocery shopping, dog walking, dish washing, dinner making and such all need to happen at least a few days a week. Somewhere in all of it, at least a few hours of sleep need to happen.
In the next 30 days, we have my birthday, a trip to a haunted house with one of our other widowed friends, Halloween (our favorite holiday), tuxedo pickup, a wedding rehearsal, the wedding itself, my parents’ anniversary, a trip to Canada for Camp Widow, Shelby’s 5K run, and best of all, the 3 year anniversary of Megan’s death.
I wrote this post a few days ago in the middle of the night. I'm posting it just as I wrote it on that night. Read on.
I think I must be the only person in the world to experience anxiety attacks while I am actually asleep. Seriously. It can be 4am and I can be in the middle of what I would hope to be a solid 8 hours, when suddenly I find myself awake and gasping for air. Gasping. No joke.
Such was the case this early morning around 4am. I woke up suddenly with a tight chest and a disconcerting inability to take in air no matter how hard I tried to inhale deeply through my nose AND mouth. Technically I was able to get the air in, but it just didn’t feel like it was enough and that sent me into panic mode. (No comments about heart attacks etc please. I assure you that my heart is working properly, and if you send comments in that direction I will just start panicking more.) By 5am I was trying to sleep sitting up in the hopes that it would help me breathe. By 6:20 am (the current time right now as I write this) I am two Ativan deep and soaking in a tub while trying to talk myself down from the proverbial ledge.
I have no idea why this happens to me.Read more
Mindfulness has always been something important to me, in one way or another. Usually, art and creativity have been my way of being mindful - my form of meditation. In the first few years after Drew’s death, I created deeply mindful photographs which helped me reach that meditative space. I don’t think I knew it at the time, but they created a spiritual connection for me. A deeply focused time of flow where nothing else but the present moment existed. In fact, the first few years after his death were some of the most deeply spiritual years in my life.
I think I lost that when I moved to Ohio, without really realizing it, and I’ve been trying to re-establish it ever since. I was so busy just trying to figure out this new life in a new place, that I got completely derailed from any deeper internal/spiritual connection. Photography was no longer working the same way for me. Being in a new and unfamiliar place made it too hard to connect into that flow with my camera. I've had trouble finding using any other creative stuff to get that connection for long either. So, I’ve felt lost and not even sure exactly why until recently. Not knowing what wasn’t working. Not knowing what was missing. But knowing something was indeed missing...Read more
Part of me is happy Linzi wasn’t here with me in Poland for this trip. Today we visited Auschwitz. It was emotional. It was eye-opening. It was heavy.
I don’t think she could’ve handled it emotionally. She was such a compassionate and loving woman. The pictures of the victims made her look extremely healthy by comparison.
Auschwitz was a mixture of emotions. I found myself in awe of the magnitude of this tremendous event and the true scope of it all. It’s hard to fathom something you’ve only read about it in books. Seeing it in person perhaps isn’t even enough to let it sink in.
There were three times I was caught off-guard, dumbfounded, and with no response other than to let fall the tears down my cheeks with futile attempts to suppress them.
I walked past the pile of prosthetics of disabled veterans, killed by the very country they’d fought for years prior in World War I.
I remember walking past the pile of suitcases and bags, packed by unsuspecting multitudes of people who were told to pack for new settlement, paradise even, via propoganda. I noticed their names were written upon them, along with some letters and various numbers. What they stood for, I could not be sure, but one thing it reminded me of that I often forget when reading about these events:
They had names.
All of them. To me or anyone really they were strangers...but to someone, they were a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a relative, a close friend, a confidante. They had names.Read more
Days like today.
All is fine.
I have not much to say.
Birds are singing,
sun is bright,
autumn has brought her glory.
Im not feeling particularly sad.
Im in love.
Life is life again,
and Im not just existing,
If you’ve been following the slow-motion event that is the foreclosure on my home here in Hawaii, there is an update. The commissioner who was appointed to handle the auction did a site inspection today. I am waiting to hear the dates for the two open houses she is required to hold, probably in November. Soon after that, auction will be scheduled and held. After it is confirmed that it was sold by the court…that’s it. We vacate.
Even though I knew it was coming, I still collapsed in tears today. This has been my home for 16 years…12 of them happy years with my husband. And I am grateful I’ve had nearly five more, and much of that time has been shared with my boyfriend…who is being extremely gracious, generous and supportive, by the way.
Words. I think about words in this widowed life.
How can I, how do I, describe this widow life?
What word best describes this widow life?
It’s difficult to find that one word, isn’t it, because there are so damn many that apply, to this widow life.
Dislocated. Discombobulated (that’s my fave), disoriented, disengaged, disturbed, disconnected, disrupted, displaced, disorganized.
Clearly, I like words that begin with the letter D.
Also, one C word works well. Confused.Read more
It is very rare that one particular emotion takes the forefront of my mind for any longer than a few days. In general, there is a veritable melting pot of thoughts occurring at any given moment, ranging from sadness to joy and everything in between. Fear and confusion are tempered by confidence and determination.
Of course, there are periods where certain emotions boil over and persist. Obviously, the first few months after Megan’s death were filled with overwhelming grief. The “busy” times of year at my work are always stressful, and it shows, even when I’m at home. There are times when my “give-a-damn” appears to be busted, and times when worry about the future pervades. Excitement and joy one week can easily give way to doubt and malaise the next.
Approaching three years since Megan took her last breath, I can truthfully say that I’m openly wandering.
And that’s a good thing.
Just when I find myself moving along a little more effortlessly and thinking, "I'll be damned. I think I've got this handled" ... it happens. WHAM! Grief jumps out of nowhere and slams me so hard in the chest that I find myself gasping for breath and thinking, "What the fuck just happened there?" (Or, "what the heck just happened there?" Depends on how much you curse, I suppose. I enjoy the "F" word at times. It has more oomph.)
That's what happened to me this past week. I had a few really good days, in part because my friend Mary (who I met in San Diego at Camp Widow) came to visit. It was so nice to have adult company around who just "gets it." No explaining required. And it's not as though we spent our days sitting around crying about the fact that our husbands oh-so-rudely decided to up and die on us. On the contrary. We toured Vancouver and did the ride over Canada that I have been wanting to do for quite some time. We ate out (a lot) and watched a movie and just breathed. I loved it.
The nightmare in Vegas happened while Mary was here (did I mention that Mary is from Vegas?) and instead of losing my shit and thinking about all the terrible things that could happen in the future without Ben here, which I would normally do, I just sat with her while she made sure her loved ones were safe. They were. Thank God.
Eventually our visit came to an end and I took Mary to the airport and then drove myself back home. Alone. And that's when Grief came back to pay me another unexpected visit.
This past week, Mike, Shelby and I put up our usual Halloween decorations in the front yard. For some folks, the idea of putting a graveyard in your front yard once a year might be tacky or in bad taste. We have no idea what our neighbors think - though none of them decorate at all for Halloween so they probably care very little. Some people take offense I’m sure, because they have lost people they love and think it is rude to make light of that. Well, not us. We have a lot of dead people, and so I feel we have every right to make light of it. Or to put it better… to bring some light to it. Because there should be light let in on death, don’t you think?
That is my favorite thing about Halloween-time… it is a chance once a year to literally put death right out in the front yard. For that one month, I feel a little bit freer to put it out there to the world that, yes, death and darkness are a part of my life and I am actually very proud of it. Prop gravestones and skeletons my just be for fun, but for me, they have always held a deeper meaning.Read more