Just two weeks ago, I wrote of a friend that was, at the time, fighting for her life in the ICU, hoping for a lung transplant. She was on death’s door, and no one could guess if she would make it another week, waiting for a donor.
I am happy to say, that, as of yesterday, she received her transplant. A call came in late in the night on Sunday, and by 8:00 AM, she was being wheeled into surgery. That’s all well and good. It’s great news, in fact. It’s one less person that is going to die from Cystic Fibrosis this week. I witnessed Megan’s brother Jason in almost the exact same state, back in 2005. He didn’t make it. I witnessed Megan in almost the exact same state in 2011. She DID make it. It’s always hit or miss, but in this particular case, it was a “hit”.
But. There’s always a “but”.Read more
As I wrote last week, I had made plans to go to a place called the Dolly Sods wilderness for a weekend of backpacking. I’d been planning for months, to return to this place that I was so familiar and comfortable with. A place that felt like home to me. As fate would have it, a fire ban was instituted in the area, which quickly put this trip into an unsafe endeavor. Being wet and cold at 4000+ feet in December is not something one just says “oh well” to.
I’ve had a couple of really beautiful, full-circle moments recently. The sort that have reminded me in such sweet ways how totally interconnected my old life and my life now still and always are.
This past week, we finally got my couch moved into Mike’s house from the garage. And by my couch, I really mean Drew’s. I have been dragging this thing around ever since he died… an enormous olive green couch. It is really the only piece of furniture of his I have. Since we didn’t live together, much of his bigger stuff ended up being given away or taken to Goodwill when he died, as there was no place to put it. But this couch, I was not letting go of it. It sat in a storage unit for 3 years after he died, before finally making the journey north with me from Texas to Ohio last fall.
So we finally get this thing moved into Mike’s basement, where we have made a cozy den next to my art studio area. Over the course of a few days, I watched as something really heartwarming took place.
The day began with tears. Its brutally unfair were my thoughts. He should be here! Where is he?
My stomach in tight knots I felt physically ill. He would have been 30.
The day was spent with family. Reminiscing and sharing stories. Keeping busy, we laughed, we ate, and we supported each other. Sending balloons up into the clouds the physically sick feeling returned and I choked swallowing my tears.
I thought that once the day I dreaded was over, the mood I had felt intensely the past week would lift. I was wrong. The following day was worse. Maybe it was the shock and disbelief wearing off, the lack of distractions the denial I sometimes live in.
Denial that was taken away in an instant with the sound of his voice. “Close your eyes and listen” Unexpectedly and unprepared I leaned into the mobile phone being held to my ear. I closed my eyes and listened in wonder.Read more
Yesterday was one of the most beautiful and hope-filled days I have been a part of since I began this entire widowed journey. We were in the woods, standing tall in the trees, three widowed people and a little girl who lost her mother. The setting itself was magic, and made even more-so when we heard of the significance of that place. For our friend, who lost her husband 5 years ago, was marrying her husband’s best friend in the place they used to go walking after he died… in those early raw months, they stood side by side, taking one step at a time down a path that he no longer could. Together, side by side, they began a walk into the future, not even knowing that it would lead to a different kind of side-by-side one day.
It was personally significant to me in a few ways that no one else knew until I mentioned it… but this is the first wedding I have been to in 4 years. I’ve been invited to many weddings, and refused to go to any of them until I felt able. And this one, finally, I felt not only able but excited for. Excited. What? How is that even possible? In fact, I didn’t have an ounce of fear in me about the triggers it would bring up. To my total surprise, I found myself completely lost in the moment.Read more
This week I have been filled with and unexpected strength, I have still cried almost every day but I feel strong within myself for the first time in a long time. I’ve struggled with insomnia since December. Generally waking two or three times a night. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t usually go to be till around 11 and with continuous broken sleep I still somehow cannot sleep in past 6.30am.
The other morning I woke after only four hours sleep, I made myself a coffee and walked outside to gather my thoughts. At first sight I noticed light filled rain drops resting on leaves and with that I was taken back to last year. To the memories of falling asleep with John on hot rainy nights and waking in his arms to vibrant sunny mornings.
With that, I thought to myself there are times in life now that it rains and it pours. Storm clouds roll in and it feels as though they are here to stay. However we weather it out and sunlight inevitably breaks through the dark clouds leaving behind beautiful drops of dew.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
I wanted to share someone else's story today... one that she shared with me recently that I felt had such a powerful message for us all. I met Tara at my first Camp Widow back in 2014, and I remember having a great conversation with her one night over a few drinks out on the patio. She made an impression on me that night that has always stuck. A bit reserved at first, she seemed to me as someone who's trust you have to earn in order to get closer to. I'm a big believer in that myself (as many of us are now) and so I greatly respected this about her. We met up once again in Tampa for Camp this year... and had some time to visit again. I noticed her wearing a certain watch, and though I never got around to asking about it, I read the story she shared of it online after returning home. It's a powerful story that she and her husband have created together. In my mind, it is a way that he is still actively helping to guide her, and maybe even guide all the rest of us too. I'll let her tell it in her own words, because she wrote it with such passion and spirit:
"Stephen and I were on a cruise in 2003 and the man who never, I mean NEVER, asked for anything, said to me that he always wanted a Rolex watch. So, while we were in St. Thomas, we stopped at the Rolex store. We were there FOR EVER. He was anal about everything. Which I loved about him. So, after trying on almost all the watches in his price range, he picked out his "special" watch. We nearly missed the ship it took so long, but he had his "special" package in tow..."
In my heart, I’m carrying all the trauma from those 3 weeks when I went into auto pilot, (as we all do at such a time). Those 3 weeks where I was as present as could be to the best of my abilities as he and I said our goodbyes and my heart broke into pieces that were so huge and so small that they became invisible shards, but 3 weeks where I wasn’t really present at all to myself because I couldn’t bear what was happening.
I'm feeling a bit worn down today. I've been trying hard the past few weeks to keep a new schedule and really buckle down on getting work done. Working for myself has been the hardest possible thing I could have added to my life these past few years since he died. It never seems to get any easier... unlike the grief, I don't know that it'll ever get easier.
It all began with a podcast I heard about having a morning routine a few weeks ago. Within two days of starting the morning routine, I got so much done and felt so genuinely productive. I thought I'd finally found a workflow that will work well for me. I began implementing it along with some other ways to be productive too. It's working, for sure. But my God, trying to change is taking so much out of me.
It is reminding me of the first year after Drew died. I was tired ALL the time. I wrote in a blog post back then that I felt like I was running on 60% of my energy because grief was taking up the other 40% constantly. Over time, that balance has changed... last year it was more like 80/20. This year, it is more like 90/10...Read more