Four years, 3 months, and two days after you died, I walked under a blanket of oak and beech trees. The air was cool and crisp, the leaves still shining from a gentle rain… holding drips ransom until the wind blows them loose with a whisper. We were in the city, he and I, but all the world around us was quiet up on that wooded hill. As we explored this newfound paradise, there was a wonder present… the kind of childlike feeling that was always around with you. Slowly a sadness crept into me. It was so gentle I don’t think I even noticed it for a time. Then suddenly, as we began to make our way down the hill, and back to the car, I felt it keenly. It seemed so odd to me to be sad while exploring nature, one of my favorite things to do.
And then I realized, and asked aloud to him, “Do you ever just get sad out of nowhere that they can’t experience any of this anymore?” He confirmed my wondering. Which of course, I know, anyone who has lost someone sometimes gets sad about that. Only thing is, it’s been a long while for me. Or at least, since I actually realized that’s why I was sad.
15 years ago today, as I type this, Mike and I were awakened sometime after 3 AM Hawaii time by a phone call. In those days it was still landlines, so Mike groggily stumbled into the living room to answer it, and came back and woke me, handing me the phone, and saying, it’s your mom, I think there was a hurricane or something.
The house where I grew up, where my parents still live, is only a few miles from the Pentagon. So mom was calling to let us know she and dad were ok. I sat up in bed. Why, what’s wrong? I asked. Oh don’t you know, oh my gosh turn on your television right now.
The crocus is a flower that blooms in early spring here in Ohio. So early in fact that it’s one of the first glimpses of spring you will see peeking through the colorless shell of winter. Year after year, these vibrant beauties bring with them the first moments of hope towards spring coming. Today as I am reflecting back, and as the seasons are yet again shifting, I’m finding much meaning in their metaphor.
Life’s been happening at warp speed for the past year it seems. The seasons here change so much faster than in Texas, where - although we have a very short spring and fall, our summer stretches on long and wide as the land itself. Not in Ohio. Here they are spread more evenly, and just as it seems you are settling into one, it begins to shift into the next. Suddenly, when I stop to really look back, my life has felt that way, as if the seasons are now changing faster. I can still remember this time of year three years ago, when my life was quite different. I had not even been on a date yet since losing Drew two and a half years before. But I still remember how the seasons of my heart began to change then. And I wanted, for the first time since his death, to have a new partner.
Somehow I could feel in my bones that the things were changing. It was like that first warm front coming into my heart after a long, cold winter. The kind where the sun begins to warm your blood and the wind starts to stir things up inside you. And you know, somehow, without anything concrete telling you so, that the seasons are changing inside you.
That’s a bit what it felt like when I first began wanting a new relationship… like a slow awakening of spring inside me. If that is the case, Mike was certainly the first major thaw of my heart since losing Drew...Read more
Usually I would write a blog post separate from my personal blog for Widows Voice. However this week has been a rough one, we all have them. Rather than write a totally new post I want to share a post I wrote earlier in the week that shows the dark side of grief. The side that most feel they need to hide.
I want to tell you, it’s ok to not be ok!
So today I am ok, but not that day.
That day emotions ran wild and it felt as though I was thrown back into December. To the month that shattered the world as I knew it. That day I was not ok, but that’s ok!
That day I hurled breakable possessions at walls, I screamed at the top of my lungs with no one around to hear. That day I tore the house apart, I stared at my broken reflection and watched tears fall from blood shot swollen eyes. That day I wanted to die.
That day I was angry that I have to be here, that day there was so much pain. Digging nails into my flesh and pulling at my hair, I screamed for him to take the pain away.Read more
Over the weekend I attended John’s son’s swimming lesson. He jumped off the diving board for the first time. Every first brings with it pride for my children along with the inevitable thought, John is missing out or we are missing out on experiencing this first with him. Whichever way you look at it, it’s unfair that he is not here.
I left the swimming lesson in a fog of sadness that I couldn’t share this first with John. Lost in my thoughts I began to reverse the car without paying complete attention. I had to brake suddenly when I realised I was going to reverse into a car that was about to drive past behind me. I stopped about half way out of my car park, leaving quite some distance still between myself and the other vehicle. However the lady in the other car was cross at my vague driving skills, she threw her hands up over the steering wheel and proceeded to yell profanities out the window.
This image perfectly sums up my post for today. There are times in our life when our path to somewhere ends, and from that moment on, we have to begin making decisions for another journey. We have to decide to stay on the shore, at the end of that life, or wade out into the unknown and swim toward some unknown future, trusting we will be able to make it to a new and beautiful shore.
Last week I had a really bad day. I don’t know if it was just a buildup of emotions because I’ve been so busy lately, or if hormones were just doing their thing randomly, or I was trying really hard to just not feel some stuff, but wow. I went over to my place to pack some more things to bring over to Mike’s place… and I just lost my shit. I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more. I felt so completely sad to be moving. For a lot of reasons... but mostly, I am figuring out, because I'm feeling thrown back into the currents a bit again. And every time I feel that way, I am reminded that my life is currently a "plan-B". That the path I was on ended one day, and I just had to get out there and swim...Read more
Moving went as smoothly as possible, I culled a lot of old belongings like toys, baby clothes and little knickknacks. The new apartment is fresh and has a positive ambiance about it. My positive mindset however took its time to catch up.
I was undecided on whether or not I would hang John’s clothes in the wardrobe of the new house. As I happily listened to music and hung my clothes in their new space, I then came to John’s clothes. With no hesitation I hung them side by side with my clothes, as though it were an automatic reaction. Once they were all unpacked I stood and stared and cried.Read more
The fact that a decades old friendship is dead in the water and it doesn’t bother me says to me that it’s been floating belly up for some time, and I just never really noticed.
Friendships die for various reasons; it can be something small that suddenly becomes a catalyst, or it can be something big and you just can’t ignore it.Read more
I sat down last night to begin my writing for this week, and I had nothing. No anecdotes, no significant events, not even any special lessons I learned this past week as it pertains to grief or mourning. I stared at the screen for hours, adding a few paragraphs, reading over them, then deleting them.
Finally, as midnight drew near, I closed my laptop and went to bed. I had no more energy to write, and the words weren’t flowing either way.
Writing here for Soaring Spirits gives me the opportunity to share my perspectives and lessons learned with a wide audience. Every Tuesday, I hope that something I’ve written helps at least one person through a tough time or is something they can relate to and say “me too”.Read more
My sister came to visit last weekend, and we went out for a girls night to see that movie Bad Moms. It’s the first time in my life I could relate to such a movie… and to parts of my sister’s life, having raised three children herself. The movie was hilarious, we laughed so hard, and it felt so good to finally just have some girl time together.
At the end of the movie, the actresses sat down with their own moms to do little outtakes. Sharing old funny stories and memories of motherhood. Laughing and crying and bonding together. And of course, here we are, two sisters without a mom, watching all we have missed out on with our own mother being gone 25 years now. Insert ticking time bomb of grief here.
I sucked it up that night, trying not to here the tick, tick, ticking. "Eh, it's nothing new, just let it slide off your back" I said to myself. Sure. Because that works.
Mike asked a few times in the days following if everything was okay, because I was noticeably a bit bitchy. I shrugged it all off, thinking I am just overly tired. But I wasn’t just overly tired. I had a time bomb of grief inside me. For my mom. And for every single moment of the day that I want to be able to call her and vent, or ask her advice about mom stuff, or just share and feel “normal”.
When I finally unloaded to Mike, the tears welling up in my eyes, he acknowledged that it must be really really hard to be helping to raise a child without your own mom’s guidance. Time bomb activated! I burst into tears. I try my hardest on a daily basis to just not feel this truth, because it sucks, and it isn't going to change. But there are new layers now, that I never was challenged with before. Like the feeling that I am somehow less capable of mothering because I lost my mom so young. That somehow her death has created a deficit for me.
Here I am, 33 years old, with an instant 9 year old to care for, no mom, and no clue what I am doing. And this shit sucks. Because now I am grieving for my mom all over again, and also trying to parent. And I just do not know... how the hell do you grieve and parent all at the same time?