I think grief is an even trickier thing as time goes on. It becomes more infused with your new life and sometimes it’s hard to even know when struggles are related to your grief or to other things. I’ll be honest, I think I’m still holding on to some resentment that this other life I wanted to have will never happen. Even if 99% of me wants everything I have in this new life. Even if I had to choose between these two lives, I truly could not, there will always be that part of me that just wants to know how the other story was going to play out.
I know Mike has this feeling too. We both wish that we could see how those stories would have played out with our first person. Lately, I’ve started to wonder if maybe I’m feeling more resentment over that unfinished story than I knew.
I think it’s part of the root of my struggle to adjust since moving to Ohio. I will never get to know what my wedding with Drew would have been like. Or if we would have had children. Or where we would have moved to for his flying jobs. I think moving and beginning a life somewhere so new and different with Mike has unknowingly made me even resent that I never got to move with Drew and do all of this.Read more
I recently read a well written piece called “On the day I die” I thought it was beautiful, it resonated with me and gave me inspiration for my own piece of writing.
The day you died,
I knew you were gone but I waited for you. In a haze of disbelief and shock I waited for you to walk up to me. Minutes and hours ticked over with family and friends moving about around me. Deepened looks of sorrow and pity shadowing their faces. But then it was as though I could no longer see them or maybe I just didn’t care. In my mind all I could see was you. Your face, your life, our life. Like photographs flickering before my eyes. Instantly paralysed, unable to move in any direction. Consumed in thoughts of its not real, I will fix it, I don’t know how but I will bring you back, this is not the end. So I waited.
I could smell you on our sheets, your scent lingered throughout our home. Your voice I could hear over and over again. Replaying the last words that your lips had spoken to me. I would turn my head in any direction and see you there, but I couldn’t touch you. You would be sitting on our bed or next to me in the car, your mannerisms, gestures and smile I could see clear as day. Every scar on your skin, each hair on your face, each freckle and imperfection of yours imprinted in my mind like a photograph.
As though I were alone and lost in a dark place with images of our life playing out like a movie before my eyes. How could you be gone and be everywhere I was at the same time. Disbelief. Waiting for you didn’t work so I began to search for you. Longing to give my last breath to join you.
The definition of the word "duality" is as follows:
1. the quality or condition of being dual
2. an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism. "the photographs capitalize on the dualities of lightness and dark, stillness and movement."
I think it is more than safe to say that every widowed person understands the concept of duality. Maybe you didnt know the exact definition, or you weren't sure what to call it, or it was maybe more subconscious than conscious in your own mind - but at just about every moment in time, some more elevated than others, widowed people are living and existing in a dual reality. The above definitions describe it perfectly. After all, what is grief and loss and widowhood, if not the duality of stillness and movement? Joy and pain? This life, and that other life?
When I started my blog 4 years ago about this tsunami of grief (I still refuse to call it a "journey"- it's a tsunami, dammit!), there were many things I could have named it. My Husband Is Forever Dead came to mind. Or maybe Widowed at 39. Or lots of other things. But none of those fully encapsulated the concept and the very real truth that when your spouse or partner suddenly dies, you are not just losing and grieving a person. You haven't "only" lost your husband to death. The truth is, while all loss is impossibly hard, the death of a partner or spouse is the only kind of death that literally affects EVERY SINGLE aspect of your life. There is no piece of your life that this loss does not touch or affect. Where/how you eat. Where you shop. Your living situation. Your finances. Your job. Your parenting (if you have kids). Your loss of the dream of a family (if you didnt get to have kids). Your friendships. (Some grow stronger. Some grow weaker. Lots disappear altogether. ) Your dreams. Goals. Desires. Your sex life. Love. Your daily habits. On and on and on ...
When my partner died, I not only lost my husband, but I lost my best friend. My biggest fan and supporter in life. My teammate. My car and computer and everything-else repair-man. My kitty-cat co-parent. My lover. My home nurse who took care of me always. My "run to Wal-Mart at 2am because my wife is out of printer ink and has a writing deadline in the morning" guy. My sounding board. My gentleman, who treated me with such kindness and respect. My helper. My resident dork who guaranteed that I laughed at his silly humor at least once a day, and who guaranteed that I always knew how he felt, and who called me beautiful at least once a day.
When you lose the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with and grow old with, it is not just the loss of a person. It's the loss of that life. Everything you planned. Your future that wont ever happen. Your past that now sits in only your memory bank. Memories that the two of you shared, and now there is noone to turn to and say: "Do you remember that time when we ...." Your day to day life, that was taken, stolen away by thieves. Everything. All of it. Gone, in one horrifying moment, when you know that his heart stopped beating, and that the life that you knew is no more. That is why my blog was appropriately titled: RIP The Life I Knew.
I had a dream about Mike last week. I hear some widowed people bemoan the fact that they never dream of their loved one...but these dreams are not always happy. I wish we could all visit with them in all our dreams every night, dancing happily through the fields of neverwhere together, able to talk to them and laugh with them. But not all dreams are like that. In fact I have yet to have one even remotely like that.Read more
I pause and think sometimes often as to the pressures put upon those who grieve. Upon widow/ers, certainly, though I know it pertains to pretty much anyone who grieves. The griefers, as I call them us.
What pressures? you might ask, though I know if you’re a widow/er, you know exactly what I’m talking about.Read more
Lately, it seems as if any and every project I have going on is halfway there, with no completion in sight. There’s the half-finished garden path Sarah and I are installing, a fence we are putting in around the vegetable area, still half-built, a half-stained deck, a “mostly” painted bedroom, and one of three cars has been cleaned and waxed for spring. At work, it’s much the same. It is constantly busy, but nothing is completed other than minor computer problems that I fix on a day to day basis.
I’ve taken a few weekend trips to the woods over the past few months, and half of those were cut short because, well, I just came home. My big personal project, filming and producing videos with the intent of sharing useful knowledge and experience to those who would like to take their own trips to the woods has stalled, totally.
I need to complete something. Anything, really, that’s bigger than a five minute task. Ultimately, my life has been a series of constant projects that get “almost there”, but not quite. Including my marriage to Megan.
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.