A Long Strange Trip

MikeSteph.jpgI lost my husband on February 17, 2013. Mike had a heart attack in his sleep; he was 59. I was about a month away from my 45th birthday, and we were a few months away from our 14th wedding anniversary. I found him that morning. It was the single most shocking and horrible thing that's ever happened to me. The past 439 days have been the longest, strangest trip I've ever taken. And it's not over yet. It will never be over.


Anyone remember that legendary warning from Woodstock not to eat the brown acid, which was supposedly giving people bad trips? A few months ago I was trying to explain to a friend how surreal my life, and the whole world in fact, seemed now that he was gone. It's as if I wake up each morning and take my daily dose of the bad brown LSD and then move on with my day, the colors and sounds swirling around me unrecognizable, the panic and paranoia clenching my throat, my heart racing. 

When Michele first contacted me about joining this wonderful community here at Widow's Voice, I was deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to share my story, and connect with others on this journey of healing.  I immediately started writing some introductory paragraphs about myself. And then wrote them again. And rewrote them. Again. And again. And again.


I realized the panic had begun to set in. How much do I tell? What does everyone need or want to know about me, and where do I start? How can I possibly tell everything in a blog post? And what if I'm not doing this widowhood thing right? What if I bare my soul and get punched in the face?


My therapist reminded me that there is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving. There is no road map, schedule, or timetable. How we survive the loss of our spouse depends on so many variables, and everyone deals with it differently. And I know too, that I can share what I feel moved to share, even though I realize you can't please everybody all the time. So relax, Stephanie. Everything's going to be ok.


*Deep breath*


There seem to be a few basic questions and bullet points that widows exchange about themselves when they share and support each other, so I thought maybe I'd include a few of these details about my own experience here in this first post:


How long has it been for you today? 14 1/2 months. Was it a sudden unexpected death, or a long, drawn-out battle with disease? Sudden and unexpected. Were there children? Two grown stepdaughters. How have we dealt with practical matters like finances and legalities? It's mostly settled other than I will probably eventually lose my house. How long before we start moving their belongings out of our living space? A few things after two weeks because I had to rent out part of my house, the bulk of it after nine months other than a few select items I will treasure forever. Do we think about dating again? No, but it happened anyway.


I am a positive person by nature, but nowhere near as happy and bouncy as my dear Tigger of a late husband. He taught me so much about love, and life. I am a better person for having known him, and that is how I'm choosing to survive today. I can't speak for tomorrow yet, but today I'm doing better than yesterday. Today, the world is slowly coming back into focus, and my heartbeat is beginning to settle back into a more regular rhythm. Mostly I can talk about him in public without crying now, but yesterday I broke down in tears in the dentist chair. I still never know when that will happen, but at least now I know I will survive. As time goes on, I'll tell more about how I got here and how I'm managing this challenging task of recreating my future. I hope to hear from many of you too, about how you are walking this difficult path.


I can't say I know anything about an afterlife, but I still talk to Mike all the time anyway, and I imagine he would be trying to talk me down from that bad trip. When I first began exposing myself online with all of this, I asked him, out loud, as I stood alone on my porch here in beautiful Kona, Hawaii, to let me know I was doing the right thing, and to help me. The next day I received the initial inquiry from Michele about Widow's Voice. When we finally spoke about the details, she let me know my first post would be on May 1. Wow, I said, as the gooseflesh prickled my arms, and I saw him winking at me in my mind's eye. Mike and I got engaged on May 1, 1999, and it was always a very special day for us. I take it as a good sign. 


I am so looking forward to my new journey here with you all.


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