Mike and Shelby went to the Father-Daughter Dance last night. It’s always a night I love, because it’s so much fun to see him pulling out all the stops to go out with his little girl. With his three piece suit and a tie and pocket square to match her dress… he is always one of the best-dressed dads at the event, and is always out there ready to dance with her. I never got those experiences with my dad growing up, so I suppose I live vicariously through the joy in Shelby’s world now. It overflows me with love to do her hair and makeup and get his suit ironed and ready and take a bunch of pictures of them before I send them off for the evening.
There was one other special part of this evening though. One that hasn’t been there before. After they got home and showed me all the great pictures and funny videos from the dance. After they told me all the stories of the fun moments. And after we were settling in for the night a bit. Mike and I were chatting for a moment in the kitchen, when he picked up the little plastic tiara Shelby had gotten at the dance, and put it on his head to make me laugh. A huge smile grew on my face and then tears started to flow. Suddenly, a moment from my present so completely overlapped with a moment from my past in the most beautiful way…Read more
Its sixteen months into this new life and like all others on this journey I’ve taken many steps forward and many steps back. A couple of months ago making the decision that I would prepare myself to put John’s clothes away. I decided to give myself a timeline of two months to do this.
During this two month timeline there were days that I felt so confidant to do it and then there were days that I broke into tears at just the thought of it.
But I made this plan and I bought in my closest friends to help me go through with it.
The day I had dreaded arrived and I pretended as though I’d forgotten what I had planned to do this day. I allowed my phone to ring out, the first time that my friend began to call. I knew why she was calling and what was instore for the evening, but I wanted to ignore the idea of it. When she called for the second time I answered and exclaimed with sarcastic excitement “it’s a wine night, I’m excited”. By 8pm we had enjoyed a candle lit dinner on my balcony and each of us were on our 3rd glass of cheap wine. I sat with a smile on my face at 10pm with the thought, the girls have forgotten about the plan I had made. Though they hadn’t.Read more
So, one week ago today, on March 31st, in NYC, in a big giant concert hall and an even bigger audience watching the online live-stream, I was one of 11 speakers, chosen to give a TED talk, at the TEDx event, held at Adelphi University. My talk was titled: "When Someone You Love Dies, There Is No Such Thing As Moving On", and it was all about how we as a society have it all wrong, when it comes to how we deal with loss, grief, and death. It was about how important, and healthy, it is, to continue to tell the stories of those we love who have died, and how doing so can actually expand your world and help others. It was about how sharing love forward, can change people's minds, and change the world. I wrote every word of it, then spent the last 2 months working on it obsessively, practicing and honing it, and making my words come to life.
For those who are not familiar with what a TED talk is, look it up. It's a very prestigious thing, and a huge honor. The idea behind TED talks are 18 minute talks, about anything and everything. "Ideas Worth Sharing" is their motto. Last Friday, there were talks about grief, suicide, education, autism, social media and it's effect on society, and many other relevant and meaningful things. To be chosen to do a TED talk, its a long process. You come up with your idea worth sharing, and then you submit it through a very lengthy application, which asks you lots of questions about what your message is, and what you want to say, and why its important. Then, from the huge piles of applicants, they choose maybe 50, and those people come in to "audition" their talk. The audition was me standing in front of the TEDx panel, and giving the first 3 minutes of my presentation. In the end, 12 speakers were chosen, and its a 6-hour event of these educational and thought-provoking talks, that then live online and on the internet, where they have a chance of going viral and reaching a LOT of people. That is the hope for me with mine - that when my talk is released onto the TED website - that I can share it like wildfire, and others will too, and that my message will get out there into the universe where it belongs.Read more
I'm enjoying my last few months in Kona working at the restaurant. It is situated just a few feet from the water; the view is stupendous. The people are friendly and fun - this includes the staff and the customers. So it's really not a bad place to be in any regard. I often find myself gazing out over the ocean and the other quaint buildings in this little town - well, you can't help it, it literally fills your view wherever you are down there.
The number 4 figures loudly and persistently for me this year.
The month of March figures just as hugely.
The end of May rings loudly in my heart too.
Hi readers! Mike had some things come up and wasn't able to post today, so I'm dropping in to take his place! He will be back with a new post next Tuesday!
It isn’t so often that I meet people who have been through as much darkness as I have. Although I know there are plenty of people who have, it’s not exactly like there are clubs for us. So yesterday was a bit of a beautiful reprieve, when I spent the afternoon with a new friend here in Ohio.
On our first time meeting each other for coffee last year, we spouted off one thing after another that we had in common. Like me, she is an artist. She also happens to be a transplant from Texas, like me. We have both lost our parents at young ages. We both lost someone else significant in a traumatic way… for me, it was Drew. For her, it was her brother. We both came from families of dysfunction and substance abuse. It was unreal… and I can still remember our eyes widening in surprise as we looked at each other feeling like twins. As we shared our horrible facts nonchalantly, knowing we didn’t have to worry about what the other person thought. It was the biggest “me too” I think I’ve ever had with another person.
Sadly, it’s probably been a year now since that initial coffee date, and we have failed to hang out all that time. Because for people like us - it’s easy to isolate from the world. When you have already had so much loss and trauma, it becomes easier to just not get attached to very many people. You become extra guarded. You have such an acute awareness of people’s mortality and you know, that they are all going to leave you. It makes you a lot choosier about who you let in… sometimes, that’s a good thing. But sometimes it prevents you from letting in the right people too. I have fought with this my whole life. It seems, my friend has too.Read more
About a month ago a woman, with whom I worked briefly, experienced the death of her son by suicide. I did not reach out to her until last week. I wanted to, but I also knew she was being bomb barded with emails texts and phone calls. When I did write to her, I just wrote the truth, the raw very un-pc truth. I did not expect a response; I just hoped she read my note and that my words made sense to her. She did respond, and I was kind of shocked by her words. She was waiting for me to reach out to her. She needed to hear from me because I knew her great loss in my own way.
It made me realize that I need to take a moment on this blog to reach out to the heart broken. I am at a different place in my grief and my writings have become lighter. I experience obstacles and sadness every week but not the raw heart wrenching sadness of those early days. Honestly I don't generally like to go there.Read more
If there’s something powerful about telling your own stories, there is something equally profound in hearing someone else tell your story to others. For centuries, we have been telling stories. Well before we could write, the most important and valuable knowledge we had as humans was passed down through stories and spoken word. And although our modern culture has become removed somewhat from traditions of telling stories in the same way, it is no surprise that spoken word seems to touch a very ancient part of our being. A part of us all that remembers our ancestral traditions. Something inside us that knows... stories spoken were stories we valued, ones we wanted our civilization to remember decades to come.
Every time I have had someone else put my story into words, it has changed me. It has changed how I view myself, for the better. It has added another layer of meaning to this horrendous journey of widowhood, too.
I’m going to say that one of the greatest occurrences of this happened just a few days ago. Many of you know our Friday writer, Kelley Lynn, and that she was selected recently to do a TEDx talk on grief and living on. I’ll spare the details, as I am certain she will be eager to tell you all about her own experience of doing this talk, but what I will share is that my story was a part of her story. She chose a few individuals to make examples of to drive her inspiring message home, and one of those examples was from my own life.
I hardly have the words for what this experience was to me. Initially, as I logged in to watch her talk stream live online, I was just excited to see my friend up there, doing her thing so well. I was excited to be a part of it with her. I was excited to think of how meaningful this moment was for her. But I wasn’t prepared for just how it would make me feel when she got to my story...Read more
Today I will stand before an audience of thousands and deilver my TEDx talk titled: "When Someone You Love Dies, There Is No Such Thing As Moving On."
The talk is a message for everyone. Not just widowed people - everyone. It is about love and loss, and the way that we, as a society, mishandle the language and behaviors we use around grief. Every single person who is reading this - will know someone who dies - and every single person reading this - will die themselves one day. My talk is about how we can change the messages that are received about death and grief and loss. If you run a grief support group, if you teach a course about loss, if you have a group of people that would benefit from this sort of talk, please consider holding a TED talk party/gathering from the comfort of your home and computer, where you can watch the talk together, live.Read more
Every writer experiences it. Staring at the blank page. Sometimes no words come at all, and sometimes, there are so many words we're not sure which ones to put down.
Grief is kind of like that. Sometimes we sit in blank stupefaction while the horror of our new reality without our spouses showers down around us. Other times we are inundated with so many different emotions we don't know which direction to turn. Confusion, fear, loneliness, nostalgia, anxiety, stress.