I now divide my life into two chapters.
Chapter one began when I met Dave. My life path suddenly became clear with him. I felt really safe and loved for the first time. My grades in college improved, the lifelong battle I'd had with insomnia disappeared. I moved across the country to be with this man who turned my world around.
We spent nearly 7 years living in "sin" and 8 properly married. We chose to have no kids. We liked the little cocoon of our life and didn't want anything to compromise our time together.
My future seemed clear. Easy. I actually recall saying "I wish more exciting stuff happened to me!"
On May 28, 2011, my otherwise healthy husband felt like he had the flu. Six days later, on June 4, 2011, a doctor told me he was gone. The days, hours and minutes in between are a hell it still physically hurts to recall. We had no idea he wouldn't be coming home after this bout with myocarditis. Some of his last words to me involved where he wanted to be - the couch with me and our 2 cats he adored. He never made it home. His heart stopped. I didn't get to say goodbye.
The earth shifted under my feet that day. The first beautiful day of summer. He was 38. I was 35.
The pain of the first days after he died is still indescribable. It's good we forget a lot from the shock. My closest friends who witnessed every moment say it is something they wish to erase from their memories.
That was the beginning of the second chapter of my life. My life without Dave.
Two months after that day I hauled my broken self to Camp Widow in San Diego. I had exhaustively searched the internet for resources for widows. The way I dealt with my grief was to shore myself up with knowledge. I wanted to know about other widows. What they did, how they coped, where they were. I found the Soaring Spirits webpage and the link for Camp. Deciding to go changed my (new) life. I was surrounded by strong, resilient widowed people. My heroes. Something shifted in my mind for the first time. I realized I was a hero too. I was stronger than I ever thought possible. Michele, especially, showed me what's possible when you use your pain as fuel to make change. My name badge that weekend became a badge of honor, and I treasure it. I made lifelong friends that weekend.
As I forge ahead in this journey, I am not walking alone. I am surrounded by the spirit of these people I share this journey with. I am surrounded by the love Dave showered on me. And I am learning to take care of myself.
When Dave died I was pushed into this new world unwillingly. It turns out I can survive the worst life has to offer. I can still find parts of life to love and to be thankful for. I have so much less fear now than in Chapter One. The worst happened. I survived.
I value every minute I'm afforded now, more than ever. Time is a gift and his death was the hard way to learn this, but learn it I did. Thoroughly.
I also learned that beauty comes with tragedy. The love and devotion my friends showed me and the strength I've found within myself are painfully beautiful. Love and loss, pain and beauty. Never one without the other.
As I move through the 6th month of my second life, my Chapter Two, I am so grateful to have my widowed community. Coming to this site and reading the entries written by these incredible people has been a survival essential for me.
And now, I get to write for this site and I'm so honored to get the chance to share Chapter Two with my "people".