Like Tomorrow Never Comes

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Last night, Mike and I went to a concert. It was a surprise I gave him, to see one of his favorite bands. The entire night was incredible… one of those magical nights you remember forever. The joy in Mike’s eyes was palpable. No one had ever surprised him with such a wonderful gift before he said, and you could just feel the joy and love radiating from him all night. It was a beautiful evening. We had lawn seats at this outdoor arena. Not only was every song amazing and the energy of the crowd amazing, but there were songs from this band that I’d never heard before that slammed into my heart with such deep emotion. They went right to the core of me and touched something so very deep...

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Who will never forget you?

Most will forget the way you wore your hair and your favourite items of clothing. They will forget your tattoos and the way you smelt when you drenched yourself in cologne or perfume. They will forget the way you walked, the way your body moved among theirs, they will forget your movements. Yes, all of your mannerisms. They will forget the sound of your voice.

 

In time without realising, they will forget your unforgettable face. A photo of you will make them close their eyes and think of you. Try to remember you, your face. It becomes an image of bits and pieces, pieces that don’t quite fit together the way they did when you were here.  No doubt they will feel the pain of your loss, but its pain that most will forget. Most will go from thinking of you every day, to eventually only thinking of you twice a year. On your birthday and on the day you died. For a while though they will think of you and remember you when something reminds them of you. For a little while they will miss you.

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Grief Terrors

After my husband died, I spent a whole lot of time grieving. And existing. And just trying to breathe. In and out. Sometimes more in than out. Sometimes hyperventilating. Sometimes forgetting that oxygen is a thing.

Make it through that hour, that minute, that day. Whole lot of time spent sitting in his car that I was left with, in the university parking lot, wondering how the hell I was going to get out, walk into that building, and teach 4 classes. Dreading all the questions from the clueless but well-meaning people. Listening to the whispers in the hallways: "That's her. That's the professor whose husband dropped dead." Getting dizzy from all the tilted heads, showing their pity and their sorrys at me, as I tried to stare anywhere except directly into their eyes. 

I spent a whole lot of time in grief counseling offices, trying to find someone that made some sort of sense when they talked. Someone who wouldnt just throw cliches at me, tell me it was time to "move on", or try and "fix me" with a pile of pills and meds. I wasnt interested. I somehow knew that I needed to live and sit inside the darkness, in order to ever see some  light. I knew that pain was something that would be at the nucleus of my core for awhile. I knew that I had to process every nook and cranny, dissect every corner of his death, in order to gain any peace. I don't know how I knew these things, but I just knew. 

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His Heart and Mine

For anyone new to this blog, my husband Mike died in 2013 of a heart attack in his sleep. Finding him the next morning is a horrific memory I will carry with me always.

 

He had heart problems, to be sure, but I didn’t really know the extent of it. I’m not sure whether he did either. He hated doctors and hospitals, and I often wonder if he had sought good regular care he might have had a longer life. I also often wonder if I had known more about his condition and what to do in terms of diet and supplementation whether it would have made any difference.

 

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Idle and Random Thoughts about Life in Grief~

In life, in culture, we are encouraged to connect with others, with community.  As girls, we imagine who we’re going to marry (a high percentage of us anyways).  Who will we fall in love with?  We date, fall in love, get engaged, marry, and build a deep connection to our person, and society applauds us. Then our person dies and we’re heartbroken, devastated, and we often experience great difficulty in going on, in creating a new life for ourselves.  And that same society that applauded our successful connection now sits in judgement and not so subtly encourages us to medicate our grief.  We must let go, we’re told. You’re grieving too long.

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Father's Day Gift

Letter.PNGFather’s Day 2017. For once, we had a weekend day where there was nothing to do.  We had visited with both mine and Megan’s dads on Saturday, specifically planning to have an open day wedged into the seemingly constant stream of other events that have been taking time on our weekends together.

Sarah was awake and moving well before i was (a fairly rare occurrence), and Shelby slept until 10:30 in the morning (smashing her previous record of 9:45).  We sat out on the deck, listened to music, and did nothing….glorious, breathtaking nothing.

Then Shelby presented me with a letter she wrote.

 

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I wear my heart on my arm

Everyone has their own kind of therapy when someone they love passes. Mine was tattoos. It was nice to sit in a room and feel a different kind of pain, a kind that I could control. Physical pain seems to be so much easier than mental pain. So over the course of six months I filled my entire left arm with different things that reminded me of Joey. At the top there's a lion that represents him. Then there is a gypsy woman who represents the fact that nothing is permanent. Under her is Peter Pan and Tiger Lily. This is one of my favorites because everyone thinks Peter Pan loved Wendy but he didn't. He loved Tiger Lily, the girl who was willing to drown for him. After that is a bouquet of flowers one for each child, myself, and Joey. On my inner arm is a portrait of Joey. And finally above that is a copy of his writing from a card he gave me that says, " I love you. Your husband Joey". 
This is my story forever written on my arm. But with displaying your life in this manner comes questions. People want to know who the man is or what this represents. I often give them a short answer and move on. I realize that it is my own fault for displaying my life so visibly. But it's also to my discretion who I choose to share it with.
Saturday night while at work a man asked me about them. For whatever reason I was willing to share some of my story with him. I got told the same thing most people say when they hear the truth. "I don't know how you do it". And I gave him the answer that I normally tell people. "What is the other option".

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Post-traumatic Growth

Did you know "post-traumatic growth" is actually a thing? A friend mentioned the concept to me recently and I made note of it, thinking it was a clever concept invented by us grief sufferers, but when I typed it in a search online, a bunch of very real psychological studies came up.

 

Mike used to say, repeating an oft-used phrase, that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. After he died I rebelled against this well-meaning wisdom he often delivered with a smirk, preferring instead, in those early days, to be dead myself, as you might understand, thinking in no way could I ever want to be any stronger, the grief being so dire.

 

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Pay it Forward for Don Shepherd Day .....

...is just one month away. 

July 13th, 2011, is the day that rocked my world forever. That is the day that my dear, sweet husband died very suddenly of a massive heart-attack at age 46, after only 4.5 years of a beautiful and loving marriage together. In 2012, I started the first ever PAY IT FORWARD FOR DON SHEPHERD DAY. My husband was the most kind and selfless person I have ever met, and his love for all things music and animals was like nothing I have ever seen. He loved to take care of people and animals, and make sure they were safe, and his passion for all things music, especially guitar, was truly a beautiful thing, and was what originally brought us together. He was amazing. 

Pay it Forward for Don Day not only helped me get through the horrors of reliving that awful day that he died, but it has also helped many other people, in his name. It is something I will do every single year, on July 13th, for the rest of my life. In the past 5 PIF events, over 150 people participated in this day each time, sharing their stories of kindness in words and pictures, all around the world. 

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Return To Me~

Return to me…

Please come back…

Return to me, with your strong arms

That wrapped round me…

And made me feel safe and secure

No matter what was going on around us.

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