A week ago, I had a really big moment. It was defined the by a very simple difference in word choice. It was not something anyone else would have noticed or defined as big - unless of course you yourself are widowed perhaps. While at the gym, one of the other girls in class asked if I was married and had kids. And I said - in this effortless, matter-of-fact way - "No, I'm widowed, so the kids thing is pretty much out of the picture for right now". And then I just continued about my workout. Just like that. No big emotional breakdown. No desire to run and hide. No real care for whether or not this other woman was pitying me. It just rolled out naturally. A fact. Plain and simple.
This was a big deal. Something felt really different about it. The more I thought about it, I began to realize what it was. I said "I'm widowed". It's the first time since he died that I have said it that way by default. Every other time I have said "I'm a widow". I AM a widow. It's a small difference in words, but it feels like a huge difference in perspective.
Even though our adventure together did not last a lifetime as we expected - my fiancé and I certainly lived our days adventurously. He convinced me to go skydiving a week before we began dating to my surprise. I am not an adrenaline junky, but somehow he had a way of making me surprise myself by the things he was able to bring out in me. I always liked that. He took me up for several helicopter flights while he was in flight school. He was so elated because apparently I was the only girl who ever accepted his invite to go up with him for a flight - and not only did I accept - I was extremely excited. It's beyond me that anyone would have had any other reaction to someone asking them "do wanna go up in a helicopter?" Certainly one more reason we fit so well together.
In the three years we had together we did lots of other adventurous things. We took a rock star trip to Vegas, took up kayaking together, did lots of camping and hiking, hot air ballooning, parasailing, race car driving school for a day… this was most assuredly NOT the girl I was before I met him. It was the girl I wanted to be - but without the right companion to do it with. I think that is one of my favorite things that he brought into my life - a perfect match for my sense of adventure that brought it out even more so in me.
"Happy Mother's Day!" the waiter says to me, followed by saying that he isn't sure who is or isn't a mom so he just says it to all the women coming in to eat lunch at the restaurant today. I laugh at his over-kindness, and say thank you. But then, as he walks away… the feeling sinks in.
Now, normally I'm very good at keeping the whole children thing at bay. My fiancé and I were not planning to have children anytime soon, so although we often talked about our someday children and how we would raise them, it was still something that was at least 4 or 5 years out. I also never really cared about having kids until I met the man I wanted to raise them with, so normally other parts of my pain seem to take precedence over this part and I don't spend much time grieving it.
But not when someone wishes me a Happy Mother's Day.
Today is a very big day. In just a few hours, I will be loading up nine of my large framed photos and delivering them safely to the local hospital for my first solo art exhibition. It is a lifelong dream come true. And mostly, it has been incredible. I told my counselor the other day that it feels like a dream… that it feels like I got dropped into someone else's life all of the sudden and that I got really lucky, because their life happens to be all the things that I always wanted my own life to be. Like, hey, I could get used to this!
But of course, it's not ALL the things I wanted my life to be. We all know that. He is not here. I may 100% believe that he can see everything I'm doing and he is working overtime to help align things and forge this new path for me… but that doesn't change the fact that he cannot stand next to me for this moment.
Yesterday was my fiance's 30th Birthday. I don't say "would have been" because it doesn't make me feel like I am allowed to still celebrate it when I saw that. So instead, I say that it was, and is, the day he turned thirty. Even if he isn't here physically, saying it that IS his birthday helps me have permission to still celebrate.Read more
Yesterday was a hard day. Exactly a week until Drew's birthday, perhaps I don't remember how hard it was last year… but I could swear it's hitting me harder this year. My body seems so much more aware of the lack of his body, but also just the feeling of him in the space is far more distant now. I downplayed that first sentence… it was a hard week actually. And next week I'm sure will also be hard.Read more
Since I lost my fiancé almost 2 years ago, I have been acutely aware of how uncomfortable my very presence makes people at times. I talk about it less and less on Facebook, and even with my closest friends and family. It turns out people really don't like being reminded of death. Who knew? I've started to feel like I am carrying around some bad omen on my back - like some I'm some messenger of death now that brings a black aura everywhere I go. It's definitely a shitty part of this journey - feeling like my very identity upsets people or makes them uncomfortable. Which is made to suck even more by the fact that I am one of those people too - I also don't want to be around my own pain and this new unwanted identity of "widow". It is a constant battle for me to try and make peace with this new part of who I am that reminds me of everything I do not have.Read more
It's actually Monday as I write this... I'm heading out this week for Camp Widow, where I will likely meet many of you! So I decided to get this one in early.
A lot of us talk about various times during this horrible journey where a shift begins to happen. It's nothing concrete or tangible, it may not even be something we can easily define… all we know is that something has changed in us and the way we view what has happened to us. That is the shift.Read more
Since Drew was a helicopter pilot, helicopters and anything to do with flying are always the biggest signs I get from him. I even found a tiny toy helicopter in this shack on the island of Barbados last spring while vacationing there with his family. It had washed up on the beach and the guy collected it to sell in his shop. No joke!
And just a few months after he died, in the fall of 2012, I stumbled upon this artist's creative business e-workshop that was called "Flying Lessons". Drew was also a flight instructor, so it was all too obvious that he was telling me something. I signed up immediately. The Facebook group for the course truly carried me through those early months. Because of the theme of the class, all the women in the group would write cheesy encouragements to each other like "keep flying!" or "I'll see you up in the clouds!". It always made me smile, and confirmed he lead me there for a reason.
All things flight definitely seem to follow me around now, but it's been a while since I've had any signs that made me stop in my tracks. Until yesterday…
I was tinkering away on a new sculpture at a local clay studio I just started working with. It was midday and pretty cold, so the place was empty. After about an hour, I took a break to take some process photos of my work, and as I framed the picture, I noticed something written on the worktable just a foot above where I was working. As I read it, I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor…