In 2011, shortly after Megan’s lung transplant, we decided to have a 5-year plan of moving out of the house we currently live in. We bought this house the year we were married...2005 It’s small, in the city, with a busy highway, shopping area, and rail line within a few hundred yards, lending an ambient soundtrack of engines, train horns, and truck traffic around the clock. The house itself is old, with funky shaped rooms and ceilings, and it creaks and groans, showing it’s age.
But, it was affordable for a young couple just starting out. It was halfway between my work at the time, and our parents...30 minutes either way. The small lot took no time to mow, and the small house was easy on the heating and cooling costs. The neighborhood, noisy as it may be, is pretty safe and decently maintained. It’s not a housing development, with manicured lawns and homeowner’s associations, but it’s not run down or dangerous either. There is a gorgeous river gorge just on the other side of the highway, publicly accessible as a park, and we are 5 minutes from Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
There is a a lot of upside to this little salt-box style, 1.5 story house. Yet, by the time Megan was getting healthier, Shelby was in school, and we were starting to talk about OUR “next chapter”
What’s going on in the life of this widow this week? It’s been four years, four months, and 11 days. Some things are changed very much, and some not so much.
I still look out over the same view, from the same lanai, in the same house we shared together for 12 years. I still drive through the little town in Hawaii we both fell in love with together every day. I pass shops, restaurants, churches, beaches, and yes, even trees, I know he saw, and loved. Seriously one time this week I was sitting at a traffic light admiring this big, beautiful tree in the median strip and thought, Mike saw this tree. I’m looking at a tree he also saw, probably many many times. I don’t know why I thought that but I did.
I saw my therapist today, for the first time in about two years, we figured. She was the one who first helped begin to lift me out of the fog in those early weeks and months after Mike's death. She knows my story, knows me. I had been thinking of her a lot this year, with all the issues and decisions I am facing, and low and behold, I literally ran into her on the sidewalk in our little town last week.
I figured, well, that's a sign. She had moved offices, and I couldn't find her after searching online. But she appeared anyway. So I made an appointment.
I don't really have anything particular to write about this week. No news on the house, work is going, school is going.
In the middle of it all, I am feeling that ring of sadness around it all. Sad that my life has changed so much as a result of losing Mike, sad that he isn't here to share it with anymore, sad that my future will not include him.
Just the normal, obvious feelings of grief that don't go away.
I have a dear friend here in Kona who recently lost her mother. She was a new friend when Mike died, but had met him, and after discovering we were both writers we decided to get together every so often to write and support each other. She has since become a good friend who saw the rawness of my grief right there in the beginning, but since I've been gone for so long this year, and so busy since my return, we hadn't connected in a long time. So I called her the other day to express my condolences and catch up.
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.
Mike was never good at dealing with grown up problems. He truly did have a childlike spirit - that was sometimes fun, and sometimes frustrating. When it came to taxes, phone calls, fixing things, filling out forms, and bigger worries, he was often useless. I did most of all that. And when he died...well, widowed people understand all the bureaucracy and agonizing paperwork that must be completed. It never seems to end. One final time he had left me to sort it out alone.
The day before this posts is my birthday. I am now 49. Mike was 45 when we met; I was 31. It's hard to imagine I am that old now, and I spend a lot of time thinking back to Mike at my age. And I remember all the birthdays we spent together...I have kept all of the cards we gave each other. We always did something special, but he made me feel special every day of the year.
After two and a half months in Virginia helping my family through a medical crisis, I am finally back in Kona for a few final months. Kona, Hawaii, where I moved with my late husband in 2001. This magical, special and most beautiful place where we made so many memories.Read more
For the first few years after Drew died, I lived in between lives. Back then, I remember distinctly feeling that way. Many of the photographs I took spoke to this. I wasn’t in my old life, nor was I in what I would define as a new life.
I recall wondering what it would be like to one day live in a new life, instead of the in-between. Back then, I couldn’t even fathom that idea… and largely, I didn’t want to. I had found an odd comfort in my in-between world. It’s the place that first began to rebuild myself - this new self. I actually didn’t even know how that new self would be able to enter into a new life. I didn’t know what a new life would look like.
I also remember those first glimpses into a new life… it was an internal feeling inside me. A feeling I don’t know how to explain, other than it being a shift that I didn’t consciously make myself. It was as if my soul, or the universe, or something began to whisper to me, saying that it was time… that change was on the horizon. I could feel it in my bones, even before meeting Mike - which I would define as the catalyst that throttled me into new life.
I was in no way prepared for my “re-entry” into life. I had grown so comfortable in the space of my grief, to the point that we became friends. I didn’t really want to leave that space, though I knew I would one day have to. I had spent years exploring in my own emotions and soul… through words and photographs and paintings and such. Creating from my grief became such a part of me, that I didn’t know how to keep creating as I re-entered life. I really still don’t know how, to be honest...Read more