What Friends Are For

05_26_09.JPGI've spent the holiday weekend in Cali with the other Michele and head back to Texas today. Although the weekend has been packed with activities (sushi night out, a long and beautiful walk, visits with family, a day at the beach, etc.), we've managed to cram in some fantastic talks and some really great quality time.

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Worth a Second Look

05_25_09.jpegI started to write something to honor the men we have lost in recognition of Memorial Day. Then I realized that I couldn't write anything more poignant or beautiful than what Nicole has already posted. And so I am re-posting her Thursday post with this addition...there are no words of thanks that adequately honor the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the military today, nor the families they leave behind when they make the ultimate sacrifice. The only thing I can think to say is that each of you are heroes, and we owe you a debt that can never be repaid. Taryn and Nicole...you honor the men you lost by your courage, your determination to make a difference, and your belief that love never dies, thank you. ~ Michele Neff Hernandez

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Wishing

05_23_09.jpgI sometimes wonder what would happen if all the wishes people made on stars came true. Where would my life be today if my whims were met by the imaginary wish granter in the sky who hears the things our hearts whisper when we witness those flashes of light across the night sky? One thing is certain, my heart has definitely not been whispering over the last four years...I think a better description would be screaming or beseeching, or even howling. And the request? That I would wake up from this nightmare and discover that Phil isn't really dead. Seems pretty straightforward as far as wishes go.

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On My Way......

On my way to North Carolina, to sit next to a widowed fiancée who called our hotline and wanted another widow by her side, I stopped in Atlanta.

With all the travels I’ve been doing the past year I have come to terms with the face that I will see numerous amounts of men and women in ACUs. Today was the same. As I stood at the gate my ACU radar detected a man to my left waiting to board.

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Ouch

05_22_09.jpgI have been on my back for the last 3 weeks or so, nursing an inflamed sacroiliac joint. What a pain! Literally. Every turn and twist, every journey to the bathroom (all of 25 painful feet) and every trek to the kitchen elicits mild and not-so-mild expletives. Thankfully, my daughter is in school and the walls are my only witness.

Of course, lots of time on one's back allows for insights, welcome or unwelcome. I do wish these marvelous insights would happen when I was licking, say, a large, double chocolate ice cream cone instead of lying supine on an ice pack.

But no, my insights seem to come to me when I have finally over-done something or other (stacking wood, mowing the lawn... talking...) and have no choice but to cry "uncle" and finally settle down to listen to my body's teachings.

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Finding Our Way

05_20_09.jpg(Editor's note: Janine will be away for the next two weeks and we are happy to welcome visiting contributor Colleen Phillips as our Wednesday blogger in her absence. Thanks Colleen!)


A warm hello.

Since Rory died almost 5 years ago, it seems as if we have been trying to find our way, figure things out and be a family of “2”. Ryan, my son, had just turned 3 years old and I was 40. We had so much life to look forward to and we shared so much love in our home when it all came crashing down on May 27, 2004. Next Wednesday, it will be 5 years to the day Rory lost his battle with cancer. It literally feels like yesterday, that I saw, spoke with and touched Rory for the last time. In other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. I suppose that may be the way it will always be, but I don’t know…

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Do I Want a New Happy Place?

05_19_09.jpgFor the past ten years, my vision of my happy place has been the same: a tiny beach on the island of Caye Caulker, Belize. Daniel and I spent 14 fantastic days there in the summer of 1999. At the worst of times when I have wanted to scream "calgon take me away"...this little oasis is the picture in my mind's eye. I haven't been back there since then and we always swore we would go. In 2000 we had Grayson, and life became so full that the trip took a backseat. We took plenty of other trips, just not that one.

This year is 10 years since my last visit to my happy place. I have been very tempted to go there in August, to celebrate what would have been our 17th wedding anniversary. That actually hurt to type. It's hard to believe it would be 17 years, I haven't seen him since 13. Damn death.

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Sometimes Healing Hurts

05_18_09.JPGWhen a friend is sick you hope they will get well soon. If you know someone who has cancer, you might pray fervently for them to be cured. After you've had surgery, a friend might call to tell you they hope you will heal quickly. But what about when someone dies. What do we wish then?

After Phil's death I feared getting better. I didn't want to get over it, move on, allow time to heal me, or be grateful that Phil was in a better place. Frankly, getting better sounded like forgetting, getting over it was impossible, moving on implied leaving a time when Phil was a part of my world, time as a concept wasn't doing much for me, and I couldn't think of a better place for Phil than in my arms. None of the things people said to me about healing or recovery were in any way comforting. In fact, they were horrifying. I will confess...I was afraid everyone around me would assume I didn't love Phil all that much if I could recover from losing him.

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As Promised... Question #19

05_17_09.jpg

When did you clean out your husband's closet?

(For our new readers: Over the past several years I have interviewed many widows about their day-to-day life after the loss of their husbands. I asked all of the women I spoke to the same fifty questions, all practical inquiries about everyday life. Many readers have asked me to share my answers to these fifty questions...and since I could hardly say no seeing as the whole thing was my idea...I answer them here at Widow's Voice.)

Cleaning out Phil's closet has been an on-going process. In fact, I don't think I will really be done until I move from this house. But the initial moving of his things began six weeks after he died.

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Shovel Time

05_16_09.jpgI made the choice to go into my office to throw the bundles of trash I have stacked in different places all over the room. One bag had a can of his dip that he left over R&R, bundles of every receipt from when he was here, and the lip gloss I wore when I was able to kiss his lips. I got through many of the boxes which led me to the closet...the closet that has bags of letters. Of course I'm a sucker for torturing myself, and opened the bags.

Letters from the past 3 years. A faint smell of the perfume I'd sprayed on them and the envelopes he's written tiny messages on. Reading through them I smiled and laughed, but most of all....cried. Cried for the unfairness and cried for all the letters talking of spending the rest of our lives together. I think we all can relate to that :)

Then I opened the calendar I wrote in while he was there. March 24th, 2007  "Baby surprised me today!":

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