It is 12:40 a.m. east coast time, on Friday, September 26th, and I am writing this blog piece from the Marriott hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. I am here for Camp Widow, getting set to give my comedy presentation for the 5th time in a row. Sitting in the lobby where the Wi-fi is free on my laptop, exhausted after an almost 12 hour train ride from NYC into Toronto, followed by a lovely dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with some of my widowed friends. And then, of course, in classic Kelley fashion - I was just about to snuggle up under my covers in the comfy Marriott bed, when I suddenly out of nowhere remembered: "SHIT!!! I HAVE TO WRITE THE BLOG!!!" So, down the elevator I went, to the Wi-fi hot spot area in the lobby, and here I sit, with no real idea what to say.
Did I mention that today is my birthday? Yup. I am now 43 years old. I was widowed at 39, just 3 months before my 40th birthday. Never in a million years would I have imagined on that 40th birthday, that I would be sitting here, in Canada, my first time ever, writing this blog. When I turned 40 without Don, it felt like I was being stabbed and beaten up. I had no desire to celebrate, and the very idea of being happy about having more life granted to me when my wonderful husband didn't get that choice ever again, made me feel sick to my stomach. It's been a long 3 years, and I have come a long way. Along with the gorgeous crisp fall air that has always been my favorite, I feel a return to excitement again. I am excited about this birthday. I am happy to be in Toronto, making people laugh through their pain and helping them to heal while also helping myself. I am anxious for things to come and people to meet. The thought of more new friends excites me, and the idea of still not knowing where my life will end up terrifies and wakes me up all at once.
When I turned 40, I felt like I had died. Now, at 43, I feel like I am somehow born again. Or, at the very least, slowly on the road to there. My husband is always on my mind and in my heart. That will never change. I miss him severely. Sometimes the pain is still so heavy, and sometimes I still feel like the intensity of that pain is too much to handle. But other times, the volume on that pain is turned down, and I am able to turn up the joy and the laughter and the newness and freshness of life. I wish I could explain to you, or to me, how I got here, to this place of more tranquility and calm. I don't quite know, but I know I cannot give you directions. You have to find it yourself. I know it was a lot of hard work, and I know I am nowhere near finished with that hard work. This is not a finish line by any means. No. It is a milestone. It is the day that my life was rebirthed to me, because I worked hard through the awful grief to make it so. And dammit, it's about time I gave myself some credit for that.
This is not the life I wanted, but it is the life I built and created, from the ashes and the pain and the death. I may never be a mother, but I have created life. My life. Somebody give me some goddamn cake already. It's time to blow out the candles and work my dreams into existence.