Swirling in a Universe of Stars~

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The Vastness of the Empty Space~

I wonder at the vastness of this life without him…

This life of widowhood.

How do I live in such a huge space?

How do I locate myself in such a huge space?

Where do I go now, with all the questions

That have no real answers?

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Take me Home, Country Roads

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“I hear her voice in the morning hour, she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away.
And driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads.” - John Denver

In the purest, most technical sense, West Virginia has never been my “home”.  I’ve never held residence there, nor anywhere closer than one-and-a-half hours from it’s most northern border.  I’ve passed through it countless times on trips elsewhere, always admiring its mountainous beauty.  

However, I’ve spent many-a-night under the dark skies of the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia.  I’ve walked every inch of trail on that plateau, at 4000 feet, the highest in the east.  It was the first place I backpacked as a civilian, apprehensively leaving Megan at home, alone, for a long weekend.  

Two years after her death, and I had finally mustered up the motivation and fortitude to wander off into that windswept spruce forest again.  For a few months now, I’ve been planning this trip, fantasizing about going back to the place I belong.  Winding up the dirt road leading to the trailheads on the eastern continental divide, where boulders and stunted spruce trees greet the sky.  Disappearing from civilization for even a few days, where i’m not a widower, caretaker, husband, father, or employee.  That scene was to happen this Friday, December 2nd.

It was to be my first “real” backpacking trip since Megan’s death, and it’s been crushed, as am I.

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A good week

IMG_1333.JPGWhen I sit down to write I allow myself to be honest and have emotions that I normally hold in come out. That’s no different this week, but I have decided to bring some light this time. I had a normal week four kids, work, and doctors’ appointments. I have my break downs that happen out of nowhere still. The weirdest things will trigger them. I cry it out and keep moving. But I also had a really good week. I laughed with my family, I watched videos of Joey with the kids and we all just smiled and talked about him. I went to a concert with friends and sang my heart out.

I look back at what a life I had, so secure (or so I thought). And now I have this life that is so uncertain I have no idea where I will be a year from now. I am honestly faking the calmness, my head is chaos. Half the time I am completely terrified. I always worry what if I fail, I can’t fail these kids. I have to come out on top for them. I have to succeed for myself and for Joey. 

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Holidays and How our Stories Unfold

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There were two really meaningful things about Thanksgiving for me this year. Firstly, I was at my sister’s house in upstate New York. For the first time in our adult lives, we now live close enough to each other that we can do the holidays together. This is an enormous deal for me… one that makes me wish our mom was alive to be a part of it all. God, she would be so happy to see it all.

The other really meaningful thing was taking Mike and Shelby with me. On the few occasions I have gone to visit any of my family over the holidays in the past, I have always gone alone for one reason or another. Usually to save money. But now, we are just a 6 hour drive away from my sister, and even closer to my aunts and uncles in Indiana. Now, new things are possible. Now, my family finally gets to be part of the rotating holiday schedule. I’ve always wished for that...
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357 Days of a Widows Grief

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As much as I try to escape it, that day has been on replay in my mind for the past few weeks. The lead up to the one year mark of the day life changed.

Terrified at the thought of what emotions this day will bring me. Angry that this day has a place in my life at all. And an overshadowing sadness that engulfs and strangles me with the thought that this is real. That it has almost been a full year since I last held him, spoke to him and kissed his warm lips. As much as I try nothing can prepare me for what this day will bring. A huge part of me wants to spend this day alone in my sorrow, hoping for my life to end. I don’t want anyone to witness what may unfold on this day. Then the other part of me screams, get out and live for him! Breathe for him, like you promised you would. He wants you to smile, but even writing about this day brings me to tears because sometimes it just hurts too much to smile.

 

I wrote him a letter last night in hope that it would help release some of this pain but with each day that brings me closer to one year without him, well the pain cuts deeper. And although this is my new normal life, I am angry that this is normal now. It shouldn’t be normal that every aspect of my life is affected by grief!

It’s unfair and I would give anything to have the normal that I knew before. The death of a spouse is rated the number one most difficult, stressful, life changing event a person can go through. No shit! It’s never ending and unfair is an understatement.

 

With this journey I have had the fortunate, yet unfortunate privilege to make many new friends in grief. These women will be lifelong friends. Some of which I speak to every day. We laugh and cry and vent our anger. And share the dry and messed up humour that comes with this grief. We share with one another what we cannot share with anyone else. We understand each other. So for this post of what a widows grief is like I will share from not just my own grief, but theirs also. In the effort and hope that it helps other women like us to express this grief.     

At 357 days this is how my grief feels… and how it feels for so many others.

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Hangover

Remember those Thanksgiving days, when you were a kid, and just after the giant meal was over, Uncle Bill or your dad or Grandpa Joe, or all three or more , would sit in the living room on the couch and recliner chairs, and proceed to unbutton the top button of their pants so they could breathe better? Or that feeling you got after eating ninety pounds of stuffing, turkey, and pumpkin pie - where your stomach felt like it was going to explode from being so full, and so you had to just sit in place and veg out on the couch for the next two days while watching endless football games? Remember that?

The "thanksgiving hangover. "

 

Well, now, in this widowed version of life, there is a different kind of hangover that happens after each and every holiday, or even any big event or gathering, where you've just done something social, and now you are returning home. 

The "grief hangover." 

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I have to go home

Well, the deed is done. Dad is in a home. But it's not his home. We are crippled with sadness.

Coming back to the house afterwards reminded me so much how it felt at my house after Mike died. Like the energy was sucked up into a vortex and we were left with this black emptiness.

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In the After~

Living in the after

My heart in the before

My passion in the before

Most of me, really, in the before

I don’t know how to be

In this after

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Blunting the Knife

20161122_084206rot.jpgSaturday marked two years since Megan’s death.   I could sit down to write about how it was a horrible weekend, curling into the fetal position and crying more often than not.  I could note how the minute I woke up, a tightness seized in my chest and a chill shot through my body.  I could give an anecdote about walking through our dining room, where Megan’s ashes rest, and not being able to keep my composure.

I could write about all sorts of grief and emotion and mourning surfacing throughout the weekend that marked 730 days since she took her last breath.  But I won’t...because it didn’t.
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