When you are busy living and surviving and struggling inside your own life, it is often hard or damn near impossible to be able to recognize your own progress, shifts, and changes. Time goes by and you may feel stuck in place, or like things are moving in slow motion or not at all, when the reality may be quite different. Living life and grieving all at once, every day, for long periods of time - it can often feel like nothing is happening.
It's sort of like if you have 100 pounds to lose, and you lose an average of 3 pounds per month. 3 pounds per month is a very healthy way to lose weight, and it will probably stay off if you do it that way. But, when you are inside of that and doing all the work, and you look at your own body or reflection in the mirror, you might not notice any difference. You might look at yourself, get frustrated, and say: "What is the point of all this?"
Change happens in pieces, and in very tiny fragments. You know that term "overnight success?" Yeah. Not really. Most of those people have been working their asses off for years. This night just happened to be the night where they clicked on the right thing, in the right moment. The night when all their back-breaking work, finally began to pay off. Becoming who you were meant to be, isnt always glamorous or obvious or quick-paced. But it sure is something to be proud of.
In true Chicken Little fashion, this week in Hawaii, where I live, there was a scary but supposedly false ballistic missile threat that woke people up or terrified them at the store and farmer’s markets. It has since made international news, to great disgrace to whoever was responsible.
Around 8 AM, after having worked the night before and exhausted, my phone on silent, a very annoying and scary emergency buzzing sound erupted from my phone next to my bed. I slowly rolled over, pulled on my glasses and checked the message. Ballistic missile incoming to Hawaii. Take shelter. This is not a test.Read more
I read recently that someone I know through someone else, got back her biopsy results.
The tests came back positive.
Side note: isn’t it funny that we call tests positive when they tell us we have cancer? Shouldn’t it be exactly the opposite? Negative! Your tests are negative! You have cancer!
Especially since our culture is so gung ho on being positive.
It seems backwards.
The groundswell of support for her was immediate, which was wonderful and heartwarming for her, of course. We need our community at such a time.
But, scrolling through the comments, I came upon the tired crap that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.Read more
If you’ve read Sarah's Post this past Sunday, then you are aware that she and I (and Shelby) were in Corpus Christi, Texas, over an extended weekend. One of her longest and closest friends was marrying, and Sarah herself was a bridesmaid. In that regards, I wasn’t a widower this past weekend. I was the “second partner” of a widow.
I’ve chosen to expand upon this. Sarah and I are in the unique position of both being writers here, both being widowed, and both dating (and cohabitating) with each other. While much of my writing deals with the emotions, stress, and perspectives of losing Megan, this past weekend was much more important from the other side of dating a widow.Read more
My smile has been gone for a long time.
I wore it effortlessly when Mike was alive.
But, now, my smile feels like an accessory I wear only on special occasions.
I know that it won't be like this forever because I love life too much
to never smile again.
But, for right now, my heart feels empty,
And, I see a deficiency of joy in my eyes.
Yet, some moments, I smile in spite of myself,
Even so, my smile feels awkward and it is always fleeting.
I know Mike wants me to smile again.
And, damn it, I need to smile again, for me...
Mike would stop what he was doing every single time I walked in the room. Every. single. time. He would look at me and his eyes glistened with tears of adoration. Next, he would softly smile, as he treasured me with his gaze. Then, he'd say "Hey, Beautiful" in a tone he reserved only for me. He'd reach out to me and pull me into him. Mike would look so intently at me while he held me, in the middle-of-an-ordinary-moment. It was magic, and even that's an understatement. These 'intimate' moments between us were genuine and intense. Mike would lay his eyes on me in a room full of people; and, honestly, it was like he made love to me right then and there. The way he looked at me had that kind of passion.
Common everyday routines like washing dishes, grocery shopping, sitting on the back porch, making the bed and even brushing our teeth became extraordinary events. Our life was ridiculously wonderful. It was a crazy, pure, deep love that we shared. And, every so often, I would stop myself in one of these "ordinary" moments because I felt the power of his love. It was tangible in the air. Together, we were everything love is supposed to be. And, now, like you, I'm here, in this moment, wanting everything I had back. I want him back and I want him to bring the love we shared back to life.
I knew we were lucky when Mike was alive; but, I didn't know how truly blessed we were. I didn't fully savor the life and love I had because I thought there was more ahead. I naively thought I'd be brushing my teeth with Mike by my side for at least the next twenty years... I thought our story was just beginning. I did not wholly appreciate how big our love was because I thought it would last forever.
Now, let me tell you part of the best love story. Not one that I read about or heard, but one that I lived...Read more
Anxiety. Grabbing your chest in a tight ball. Stealing your breath from you. Stealing your sleep and your peace and your energy.
I’ve been down in Texas a few days visiting for a close friend’s wedding I’m in and each morning I’ve woken up before the sun with anxiety. Anxious about being back home for only a short time. That I am but 3 hours drive from the cemetery where Drew is buried and I will not be able to go there. To the place that is most sacred to me. Standing on the beach where I grew up - the place my soul is connected to more than anywhere else on this earth, and knowing that I have to leave it again already tomorrow.
Anxious that I will only see friends and family for a few hours each. And then must say goodbye again, not knowing when I will see any of them again. Anxious about my friend’s wedding in which all sorts of things have gone horribly wrong and I feel helpless and unable to do anything about it. Thinking about this kind of milestone in my own life - which will no doubt bring more layers of grief and sadness since I never got to marry Drew. There is no way around it, this is hard.Read more
It’s very cold here.
Winter has settled upon this sleepy town in which I reside. Snow has fallen and ice has wrapped herself around anything and everything within her reach, clutching as if desperate.
I, too, am desperate. Desperate to come in from the cold I was involuntarily tossed out into a short while ago. Desperate to come in and feel the warmth once more.
Every now and then, I get a glimpse of it. This week, I felt a bit of warmth again. It’s not exactly where I want to be just yet, but it was comforting. It was hopeful.
I walked this road alone for so long. I knew there were others out there doing the same thing, but this week...I felt like they were walking alongside me.
Are we able to keep each other warm? It takes a bit of tact and putting aside our pride in order for that to happen, but it is possible. My road in grief has been a steady climb of hope.
Hope that one day I can see these goals I’ve set come to fruition. Hope that one day I can help others do the same. Hope that one day when I leave this world that Lila will carry on that same perspective albeit a more refined one.
My cold desires warmth.
My soul desires shelter.
My skies long to be painted in twilight.
And I will get there one day. One day, I will come in from the cold, feel the warmth, and see that everything is as it should be.
For now, I’m just walking in the snow.
Lately, Ive been feeling some sort of way.
Sick, but not like flu sick.
Something feels off.
I feel off.
Everything seems like
Im not quite sure what this is.
But I do know what it is.
In my 37 years, I’ve seen my share of loss. I’ve lost all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, fellow Marines, a brother-in-law, cats, dogs and other pets, co-workers, and obviously, my wife. There has been illness, accidents, age, war, heart-attacks, and a sprinkle of stupidity involved. It happens. Death happens. I know of no one my age that hasn’t experienced some sort of loss to death at some point in their lives. The first loss can symbolize a loss of innocence. A loss of the childlike optimism that nothing bad ever befalls us. It’s reality surfacing for the first time in our lives.
For some, that could happen at a very early age. Others may be adults before it happens. Regardless, death is something that we humans are aware of. We are conscious of our mortality very early on, and the first loss of someone or something close to us brings with it clarity.
However, there is a secondary loss currently beginning to clarify in my life. Something I was aware that I would lose one day, but that I will never be prepared for. You would think, after so many years with Megan’s Cystic Fibrosis, that I would be better suited to be mentally cope with something long-term and inevitable…
...Shelby growing up.Read more
My memories of Mike echo off the walls of the house, yet the silence in my home is deafening. Everything is quiet now. Death makes your whole world go silent. I think this is by design. We need this noiseless environment and solitude to contemplate how we will re-create ourselves. As we do the work of re-defining our identity we need to concentrate intensely. Death can create isolation, but maybe this detachment is necessary as we prepare to reinvent ourselves. Maybe we are required to withdraw so that we can be born anew.
Daily, I am surrounded by the hum of life, but since Mike died I don't hear the sounds of joy anymore. My heart doesn't feel the beauty of an ordinary moment like it used to when he was alive. My eyes don't clearly see opportunities before me. I feel it, I am allowing my life to pass me by because I have momentarily lost my enthusiasm. No one can change this but me. I know this, but finding the motivation to re-engage in life without him eludes me.
I need to be encouraged to embrace life, take risks and find out what I am made of; but, my biggest champion is dead. Now, I have to motive and inspire myself. I am not used to being my own encourager. Since I was 17 years old I have always been part of a couple; and, I was never solely in charge of coaching myself. I always had a companion to hold a mirror up to me. To reflect with. I had a voice, other than my own, telling me to "take it day by day, everything will work out". For me, being alone feels scary and I desperately want to be rescued.
I feel inadequate when I admit to myself that I'm scared to "do life on my own". I continuously remind myself that I am a divorced woman; and, once upon a time I left something familiar and chose to move towards the unknown. I've dealt with uncertainty before. I tell myself that "I've got this" because I'm no stranger to adversity. I tell myself that I'm strong... and I'm capable. But, Mike's death is different. His death knocked me to the ground and all my dormant insecurities have re-emerged.
In the early days after Mike died, I thought that I should be able to navigate my way through his death. I felt like there was something wrong with the way I was grieving because I was so completely immobilized with sadness. Thankfully, over this last year, I have come to realize that there is nothing to actually get "through" here. Grief isn't a disease that you need to be healed from. There is no end game because grief isn't something you complete. Grief is something that becomes a part of who you are. When your person dies you continuously absorb their absence into your Soul.
I will confess that absorbing the death of your person is ridiculously hard. I still have not accepted his death and I don't know if I ever will. I mean, logically, I know Mike is dead. I've stood at his grave. And, countless times, I've traced my fingers along the letters of his name that are etched on his headstone. I've taken wine to the grave on many a Saturday night because, well, I wanted to be with my best friend. I've written heartfelt messages on red heart shaped balloons and I've tied them to a shepherds hook I put behind his headstone because, well, I miss him.
I know Mike is dead.
His headstone tells me he died November 15, 2016.
But, in my mind he's still very much alive.
And, in my heart, I'm still very much in love with him.
I know you "get it". And, I also know that you hate that your person died too. It is the permanence of the situation that sucks. But, it is what it is. We can't back up. So, we resign ourselves to breathe and somehow continue living. On the days when I have the patience to do "nothing", I sit with my grief. I invite Grief in and I just wait until Grief speaks. Let me tell you what Grief has said (it' pretty awesome) ...