Mike is everywhere, and nowhere. I feel him in my bones, like a part of my own body. He haunts my every waking hour. I never forget. It never slips my mind that my husband is dead. I can’t stop the memories that flood in. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. Shopping, celebrating a holiday, watching his birthday come and go, sorting through his old things, touching a spoon he used, looking out over the same view he loved.
He’s always there.
And yet he is not here. I can’t hear his voice reply to me. He can’t reach out and touch me. I can’t ride passenger in his truck. I can’t make plans with him, cook with him, or call for him on the phone. I can’t sit next to him on the couch. I can’t touch his lips.
I’m on the other side of the three year mark at this point. I can watch a movie where an actor is hospitalized, and not have to turn it off. I can hear a song that reminds me of Megan, and get a little choked up, then laugh it off. I can even pull all of our holiday decorations out from storage, observe the ornaments with Megan and I’s names on them, or pictures, or items we purchased together, curl my lip a bit, and remember the happy times we had at Christmas.
I can remember dates. Anniversaries, birthdays, transplant dates, and so on, and know that they’re coming. I can even find a private writing of Megan’s, written long before her passing, cry my eyes out reading it, and go about my day afterwards. A persistent cough that Shelby or Sarah may be experiencing only pales in comparison to the decades of it that Megan experienced, but it still makes me remember just the same.
These are called “triggers”. I know it. We all know it. It’s the songs, sights, events, smells, sounds and memories that don’t really “haunt” us, so much as they are just part of our day to day lives. Time does not make these go away, but rather, softens their outward impact. When that godforsaken “Let Her Go” song, by Passenger, gets randomly played, it has become somewhat humorous (that particular piece of music has followed me around since the day she died), albeit still thought provoking, to say the least.
Back in my real world, when Ben existed, he managed all the money and did so with quite a bit of success. He was very good at investing and made some smart moves when it came to stock picks (although it was I who insisted on purchasing Lululemon shares and I who insisted on purchasing FB shares). When he was alive I didn’t think he was that great at sticking within a budget, but now that I have to do it I understand that it is not quite as easy as it sounds.
I have also discovered that my main vice / coping mechanism since Ben died is to try to buy myself happy. In my mind I can hear an advertising voice asking the questions:
(Insert deep, rhythmic announcers voice here)
Are you sad because Ben isn’t here to help pull out the Christmas tree? Well why not buy yourself some new shoes that will sit in the closet to help ease that pain?
Are you climbing into bed alone for the six hundred and seventieth night in a row wondering how you will cope when your practically adult children all fly the coop? A little online shopping before falling asleep will probably make you feel better.
Do you find yourself less than inclined to cook because it was your husband’s job and he did it so well? You should just go to a restaurant and buy your dinner.
Are you worried sick about your upcoming surgery and the fact that Christmas is coming but you will be laid up with little time for shopping? Why not just run out and spend copious amounts of money on the kids without thinking about it or looking for a good deal?Read more
Today I’m writing about a different side of grief… about being the one sitting beside someone who is grieving. About those moments watching a partner who is widowed go through their own pain. It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for Mike. His wife died just a week before this holiday 3 years ago. Hitting the 3 year mark is hard enough without it happening near the holidays.
So there we were, having a very different holiday than they would have ever had before she died. Before he met me. And at some point, it was inevitably going to come crashing down. Which it did. Late the evening after Thanksgiving, we were about to get in the hot tub with everyone when his emotions welled up. He snuck away to one of the bedrooms at my sister’s house and I soon followed. As I sat beside my new best friend, putting my arm around him, I didn’t say anything at all.Read more
It’s official. We signed the lease this week, my boyfriend and I, for the house we will occupy for the next year. I’ve decided to only think that far ahead, and it’s made it a little easier. Because it’s a huge transition, moving from the house I shared with my late husband for so many years.
It’s also not a huge transition. I’m only moving, literally, up the block. And we have plenty of time to make the move, since my current house will be available for a couple more months. I’m going to move a few things at a time and do the big move after I’m back in Kona from my visit back east with family for Christmas.
This shattered glass strewn around my feet, under my feet,
Glass that was once my leaping joyous joyful heart,
Shattered as I shared a last breath with my beloved.
Turned into a meat slicer roosting in my chest,
Where my heart once beat in rhythm with his.
His. Now forever stilled.Read more
November 19th. It’s “the” date. A week before Thanksgiving, and the start of the holiday season. The weather has turned cold, the leaves are off the trees, halloween is over, My work begins to slow down, as does the seemingly endless string of summer and early fall weekends where we have plans with family and friends.
For all intents and purposes, November was always a “quiet” time of year, when I could sit back and take a breather. I could focus on preparing the house for winter, lazily erect a Christmas tree, and read the newspaper as the first snowfalls and blustery winds crisply blew in. Full blown winter hadn’t arrived yet, and you would not catch me anywhere near a shopping area this time of year. The lawn and any gardens or flowerbeds are dormant, leaves are cleaned up, and there isn’t any real snow to shovel yet.
November was “easy”. Three years ago, that all changed.
I have a lot going on right now and I am feeling extremely stressed out. Life in general is not going well for my youngest daughter, and in order to help her cope I have decided to leave work and stay home with her for her second semester of school this year. Also, I have just found out that I require surgery on Dec 7th which will take me out of commission for awhile (not to mention I am scared shitless of having the surgery), and I am panicked as to how I will prepare for Christmas around this surgery. I just can't seem to get it together, and the looming Christmas season isn't really helping. Christmas #2 without Ben.
In any case, I'm just going to be straight up honest and tell you all that I can't cope with writing a new blog post this week, but I am going to post something that I wrote at the end of November 2015. When Christmas was looming and I was really stressed out. I guess November does that for me. I feel essentially the same today, except Ben was alive back then and I could still see him and touch him and hear him, even if he was mostly sleeping. So life may have actually been better back then.Read more
Since coming back from Camp Widow Toronto, the upcoming holiday season has been on my mind a lot. I met so many new widows in Toronto. So many who are enduring the horror of their first holiday season without their person this year. As I sat down this morning to write, I began thinking, just what could I share that might resonate with anyone out there who is about to endure the kickoff of their first holiday season widowed?
I decided to go back, to my personal blog - Our 1000 Days - where the majority of that first year was written about, before I wrote for Soaring Spirits. I went back to November 26, 2012… just 5 months after his death. It is there that I found this piece, talking about having made it through that first major holiday...
“I survived First Thanksgiving, as I’m calling it, and I learned a thing or two… I learned from writing and talking to other widows that sometimes the time leading up to the holiday is the worst. And sometimes the day of the holiday is the worst. And sometimes, as was the case for me… the actual holiday itself is kind-of not too bad. Hell there was even some really enjoyable times and I was able to share in them and feel all the love. It was easy to feel all the love, I spent the day with Drew’s family. Lots of things to do. Lots of people to be with, lots of love. Lots of joy.
This is the tricky part… this is where your mind wants to believe that maybe you’ll make it entirely through the holidays with that same “this isn’t so bad” feeling...Read more