Aloha and Mahalo

One of the things I’ve learned - one of the great many things I’ve learned since becoming a widow is that life is change. All things shift, turn on their heads, ebb and flow, and come to an end. We can’t stop it though we may try.

I might have thought I understood that before Mike died, but now I really get it. Because something has happened inside of me since that moment: I gave up control. I first did it with that feeling of absolute futility the moment you discover your husband is dead. I didn’t care about anything anymore anyway. But as time went on, I never picked it back up again. I never had it in the first place, and all the illusion of control ever did was mess me up.

Life is change. It is love too, which itself changes us, and our lives, in ways we cannot imagine. So to flow with the love that is life that is change, I had to release.


There is a sense of calm when I exhale like that. Like a deep breath I had been holding, letting go of things I desperately tried to hold on to but dripped like water through my fingers instead. In the strangest way, I am more at peace now than I ever have been, and this is despite the turmoil and horror of the past five years - five years on the 17th of this month of February, actually.

Maybe it’s because I finally began to understand the difference between saying I wasn’t worrying, and really not worrying. And it could be because I’ve already lost one of the most terrifying things you can lose. My spouse. My husband. My best friend. My lover, my confidante, my teacher.

I look back now and see the pattern of beauty, color and wisdom that has led me, blind though I thought I saw, through the unpredictable adventure that has been my life so far. This includes my life before I met him too, since somehow, it did lead me to him, which turned my life on its head in one of those rare, life-changing moments of impossible synchronicity.

And now, despite even further death and illness around me, despite the stress, anxiety, sadness, grief, and difficult decisions of life after death, I find there is peace. I have overcome, I have survived, so I will continue to overcome and survive. It’s possible, because I have done it, through no choice of mine. Not through anything I had any control over.

Days just passed. People came through, new friends arrived, some old friends departed. I bathed, cried, ate, shopped, worked, laughed and paid bills. New opportunities arose, and other chapters ended. Other people changed. Life just changed, the world spun around. It has all changed so very, very much since he died. Not good or bad, only both.

One of the most powerful and beautiful parts of my widowhood has been being here with Soaring Spirits, writing this blog at Widow’s Voice. I can hardly believe it will have been nearly four years of writing. The opportunity to share here has changed me, opened doors to new friendships, a new view of life after death, the beautiful community I now share, and a deep understanding of how important it is. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. To the other writers, to the community of friends, readers and commenters, and to our founder Michele, who started something so important, and works so hard to keep it going. And I am not going anywhere - not really. I will continue to read, comment and support the other writers here, and share on my personal site at, though perhaps not so regularly, and perhaps about things other than widowhood as well. My place here will now be filled with thoughts and perspectives from our new writer, Olivia, and a warm, if yet sad, welcome to her. Because it is a terrible club, as we all know, indeed.

I sit here in my new house on my new couch, looking through the sliding glass door to the lanai onto a similar vision I shared with Mike in our old place for so many years just down the block: an altitude view of the steep volcanic mountain on which I live ending in vast ocean below me. This evening, a rainbow of post-sunset colors peers from behind a line of willowy clouds on the horizon. It is dazzling.

I hear a voice in my ear. It says, go out on that lanai. Sit in my chair, which is the only piece of furniture out there yet, sitting like a singular throne, his favorite rocker, looking out over a place he adored. I moved it over only after every single other thing, every sock, plate, table and button, had been removed. And I sadly put it on the new lanai, a place we do not use like at the old house, since it sits directly over the living space of the people below.

But, this night, writing my last Widow’s Voice blog, I heed the voice. For the first time in the place I have now lived for nearly a month after 17 1/2 years in the old house, I sit out there in his chair and take in the view with full attention and effect. As I peer at the clouds framing the burgundy and amber sky, I see him. His profile silouetted, and then as I look, I see our dogs, our cats, our birds, and other familiar profiles gone now into the sky with him. I laugh, I cry, and thank him for the show, for taking me out there to see it. For all the thousands of other sunsets we spent together, enjoying the colors and clouds dancing over the infinite expanse of sea.

Later, I sit in the backyard, our new go-to, more private space here at the new house, and gaze up at the huge full moon rising over the top of our mountain. A new view. An opposite view. A view we didn’t have at the old house. I literally feel the power of the moonbeams radiating from that ancient heavenly orb Mike was always so awed by in its fullest form. It is also, dazzling.

My little dog, my constant shadow, dutifully follows me, while my elderly dog remains asleep in her chair as she does now, another looming, difficult change yet to come.

I don’t know what will become of me. I don’t know what will happen, when the path will turn, or where I’ll be a year from now, a decade from now. Tomorrow, even, possibly. All I know is that I don’t know. But so far it’s all been part of a magical, awe-inspiring, and sometimes hard and scary experience that is life. And I’m ok with that, surprisingly.

I’m so glad I’ve been here, and can’t wait to see where I’m going. Aloha to you all.




Showing 8 reactions

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  • Antonella Totino
    commented 2018-08-05 09:48:44 -0700
    Thank you for your honesty.
    Your comment:
    It has all changed so very, very much since he died. Not good or bad, only both."
    So true. The lack of control that I dont have never really had. I have come to truly understand. Time passing, people weaving in and out, death, life continuing, regardless.
    Tough, tough lessons to learn.
    Best of luck.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2018-02-07 19:40:25 -0800
    Thank you everyone, truly, from the bottom and top of my heart. Being here has been everything and I will miss writing for this blog terribly, and yet, I look forward to reading the new writer, and will continue to follow, comment and read. Please feel free to contact me anytime, and check my personal site for updates. Your responses and support have meant everything to me. I appreciate you all so deeply.
  • Candace Woodring
    commented 2018-02-03 14:40:24 -0800
    Heartfelt thanks for your beautiful and authentic sharing. Wishing you all the best.
  • Marybeth Hotaling
    commented 2018-02-03 06:31:05 -0800
    Stephanie: I’ve found your writing to be so inspiring. No matter what you’ve been facing your voice has been one of resilience and positivity. I’m sure those qualities will keep you moving as you live your life. Your husband sounds like an amazing guy who loved you very much. Wishing all the best for you. Marybeth
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2018-02-01 18:07:27 -0800
    Stephanie… I have always looked forward to your Thursday writings..I’ll miss you so much!
  • Cathy
    commented 2018-02-01 16:57:06 -0800
    Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts over the years. You have been a good friend to many, and will continue to be so, I am sure. Today is 8 years since my husband died…7 years since my Mom died, two special people in my life who forever share the same death date. I, too, have feelings of peace, it’s more of a reluctant acceptance that this is how it is, no matter how much I want it to be otherwise. I hesitate to turn the page and start the next chapter, but know it must be done. Once again, thank you, and enjoy your ride, wherever you go.
  • Gayle Goldberg
    commented 2018-02-01 06:32:07 -0800
    I will miss reading your words. Thank you.
  • Sophie Voorderhaak
    commented 2018-02-01 03:46:50 -0800
    Thank you so much for al your inspiring words and thoughts.