My youngest daughter is 16. She was 13 years old when she found out her Dad was dying. She was 14 when he actually died. I’m sure it goes without saying that every moment of her life since the day she found out he was sick has been a challenge. A challenge that most adults would be unable to manage, and yet this girl manages. She is resilient, for sure.
I could tell you all sorts of horror stories that happened to her in the months since her Dad became sick and in the months since he died, but there are just too many. So here are the highlights in a nutshell:
She didn't know how to cope. She became very angry. From her perspective there was really no one here for her. She felt like she was being treated like a baby. She felt lied to and betrayed and she became even angrier. And while it is so easy (for adults) to understand why my daughter would be so angry, unfortunately her friends did not.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
Every writer experiences it. Staring at the blank page. Sometimes no words come at all, and sometimes, there are so many words we're not sure which ones to put down.
Grief is kind of like that. Sometimes we sit in blank stupefaction while the horror of our new reality without our spouses showers down around us. Other times we are inundated with so many different emotions we don't know which direction to turn. Confusion, fear, loneliness, nostalgia, anxiety, stress.
In honor of Sarah’s late-fiance’s birthday, I’ve decided to write him a letter, man to man. It’s something I haven't done in awhile, and today, of all days, seems most appropriate.
So, today’s your birthday. It’s kinda hard to believe you would have been only 33 years old. You had way too much left to do. Hell, you were just getting started.
Anyway, enough with all the “far too young” and “taken too early” crap. You know as well as I do it’s all cliches and fluff that people spout off when they don’t know anything else to say. Point is, you got to experience some pretty damned cool things in your life, and with a damned good woman by your side for the last few years of it. That’s more than a hell of a lot of people can ask for.Read more
The other day I received a text message from a friend of mine, who happens to have Cystic Fibrosis herself. This friend was there for Megan and I when Megan was going through her 6 month decline, and I can’t describe enough how she (and her husband) went above and beyond for us.
They would visit at the drop of a hat, when I just needed an hour away from the ICU, and Megan needed an hour away from my ugly mug. They would bring clandestine snacks for Megan when she had cravings, as she almost never had an appetite, but when she did, she needed broccoli and cheese soup (I can no longer stand the smell) or M&Ms RIGHT NOW.
I spoke with her every day during Megan’s hospitalization, giving her status updates, vital statistics, and news. She would get all the gory details, and, if I happened to be running late with the call, I would get a text not long after, asking how Megan was doing. She really did care whole-heartedly.Read more
It is known to be a common sorrow amongst widowed people that so many of our friends from our "before" lives disappear after the death of our partners. Nearly four years later, I have a deeper understanding of this. Initially, this additional pain is so hurtful that we bear ill will, and I will say, rightly so. If everyone knew what it felt like to lose a partner or loved one, if people were educated on grief and how to behave, this wouldn't, and shouldn't, happen. But...I know now, people do not know how to behave, and this is no fault of theirs. We are not taught this, in our western culture. They only know that they have their own lives. They have children to raise, dinners to cook, bills to pay, and their own troubles to bear. Sometimes, being part of our sorrow can be too much, on top of it all. And today, I forgive. Today, I understand. But it has taken these many years.Read more
I learned this morning that a good friend of Johns passed away yesterday afternoon, in the same way that he passed. Her passing is all too familiar and stirs up so many emotions. Following the shock I was overwhelmed with sadness for her and her family, the future they no longer have and that she no longer has. Grief consumes and there are no words to ease the pain her family are feeling. The time I had spent with her was brief, but I felt close to her because she was close to John. She grieved with me and supported me. She grieved for the love of my life and her dear friend. Now I grieve for her.
Similar to the emotions I felt during the early stages of my grief, I can’t get her smile to leave my mind. I remember laughing with her and sharing stories of our families together. She was so enthusiastic and bubbly, childlike and upbeat, and from the first day that I met her she greeted me with a smile and a hug. I can vividly see her baking cupcakes in our kitchen and lying on the floor in the lounge room writing letters to her friends, with a smile so wide. And as though it were yesterday I remember the last conversation we had. She showed me nothing but love, gratitude, humour, kindness and her huge vibrant personality.Read more
I am not a social animal normally. Megan would have to drag me out of the house, kicking and screaming, to get me to “go out” with anyone other than her and Shelby. I would casually suggest that the three of us just go do something on our own, or spend a relaxing evening at home watching movies or reading.
It never really worked...I would begrudgingly get in the car, and drive to wherever it was we were meeting some friends, the anxiety building as we neared our destination. I don’t know why, but I would prefer to just have my “nucleus” and leave it at that. Why did I need to bring in outsiders? I fiercely protected our dynamic with some kind of virtual wall I had apparently erected, and I didn’t want anyone invited inside without my express authorization. Funny thing is, once we arrived, I was happy and sociable, having a great time with everyone.Read more
It’s been over a year since I attended my first Camp Widow. In less than two weeks, Sarah and I will be travelling to Tampa again to attend this year’s installment.
I’d be remiss to say that we weren’t incredibly excited. Not only do we get to see, converse, and connect with widowed friends that we don’t regularly see otherwise, we also get to leave the not-so-cold winter environment in Ohio and travel to Florida, together, for a few days in the warmth. It’s been a frequent topic of our conversations for the last month or two, and it is not just because of the fact that it is a mini vacation for us.
This past weekend, I remembered why.
At work the other day I was chatting with one of the young ladies who works at the coffee shop across the way. I had mentioned my late husband in conversation and this girl, young enough to be my daughter, immediately expressed her sorrow for me and went on to tell me about her beloved stepfather who died five years ago. She said he had been her mother’s true love, and they all missed him so deeply. She said no one gets over the loss; our grief goes on, we just learn to live with it. She showed me the ring she wore that bore his name and expressed how much it meant to her.