Favorite Parent

There was always a bit of competition between Megan and I as to who could be the “favorite” parent.  It was playful, obviously, but between the two of us, we were always trying to get the “better” birthday present for Shelby, or take her to the more memorable thing to do, or tell the funniest joke.  Whomever could make Shelby laugh harder got to “win” that battle.

Megan won, more often than not.  When Shelby was younger, it was Disney princesses and ice-capades.  Pink everything and dance competitions. Every so often though, I would swoop in with something like fishing or a funny “dad” joke (to Shelby, at least), and I would get to win that day’s competition.

All of this was in good fun, and it only benefitted Shelby.  She got to experience multiple events, types of hobbies, or memories that she wouldn’t have otherwise.  It helped her form the interests she has today.

But, as I am sure you are aware, considering the fact that you are reading this on the Soaring Spirits website, Megan died a few years back.

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Stale Coffee

I am tired.  I am tired of everything about widowed life.  It is heavy.  And, for the better part of two years and a handful of months, I have been doing the heavy lifting of grief.  I am sick of it.  The loneliness.  The isolation.  The emotional and mental exhaustion.  I am tired of all that grief offers.  I think I have sampled it all.  And, I can say with authority, it all pretty much sucks.  Yep.  Hard pass on what grief is serving.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I'm good.  I'm fed up.  I'm full.

 

 

Living with grief is kinda like the stale coffee I drank this morning. 

Lacklustre, mediocre and kinda lukewarm. 

I would not serve the cruddy coffee I drank to anyone I liked; and likewise,

I would not wish grief on another human being. 

 

Being Mike's widow is by far the hardest thing I have ever endured.  I was building my life around him and his death destroyed everything that I imagined my future to be.  When he died I felt my foundation collapse.  I buried Mike, but it was me who was buried alive by the wreckage of our dilapidated life.  My words are powerful, but they only shine a dim light on the darkness of widowhood.  My writing, at best, outlines the landscape of grief and scratches the surface of the aching and ugliness.  But, those of us who live with grief know all too well how it relentlessly claws at your Soul - like nothing else can. 

There is simply no way to fully explain the awfulness of this mess.  Grief must be experienced to be fully understood; and, I do not recommend this experience to anyone.  This is not for the faint of heart. That said, with forced practice, I am getting fairly proficient at grief, but it is not something I ever wanted to excel at.  I have no desire to become good at grief.  I didn't sign up for this and I would love to revoke my membership to this club.  It is not working out for me.  It doesn't suit my lifestyle.  It is simply not a good fit.  

Grief and I need to part ways.  I am tired of waking up with a heavy heart.  And, I am equally exasperated about going to bed with a sadness inside me that runs so deep I am surprised it doesn't drip from me onto my bedsheets.   I am detached from everything around me.  And, an apathy lives inside me that I can not seem to shake.

I do not want to be unresponsive and dispassionate, but I am.  I want to reengage in living, but I haven't yet.  I am tired of being without joy.  And, I know full well that the only way to reenter life is to reengage in living, but it is so damn hard to live without him.  It is incredibly difficult to breathe life into yourself when you are breathless and running on empty.  It is so very hard to action carefully architected plans when your heart feels heavy.  Yet, I desperately want to feel the hum of a normal life again.  I want to return to days gone by when I was content and deliciously happy. 

So, now what?  How do I make this happen? I ask myself this question again and again.  And, I am not sure.  I don't know.  I am simply not sure what to do next.  I am unsure about the direction of my life.  I am not sure what I can do to recreate a life I am excited about.  I could blog about the ideas that swirl around my head and the hopes that live inside my heart, but until I action these things they aren't real.  I haven't breathed air into any of these thoughts so I keep to them myself for now.  Maybe, what's next is that I will stop drinking stale coffee.  I can start tomorrow by making fresh coffee and see where that leads me. 

It's as good a plan as any.

~S.

 

 

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Putting on My Grief Goggles

When Drew died, all the rules went out the window for me. I remember thinking “I’ve done everything right. I’ve been a good, responsible person. I put up with a 9-5 job and I pay my bills on time. I’m kind to people. I exercise and try to eat right. By all accounts I am a perfectly sensible adult doing everything I should....”

And then HE DIED. And then I said FUCK IT.

I remember thinking, “What the hell was even the point of keeping all of my ducks in a row? Of trying to be so responsible? Of always doing what I’m supposed to do? What the hell is the point if he’s dead now?”

I went on a bender after that. I quit my job as a designer, because I hated it. I moved out of Dallas, because I hated it there too. I stopped paying my credit cards, because I didn’t care anymore. My credit tanked, all my cards canceled me because I was suddenly a liability because I hadn’t made a payment in 6 months. I basically stopped doing anything I hated and started doing things I really wanted to be doing instead. I got a job as a cashier at an art gallery, because I’d always wanted to work in a gallery. I moved in with family out in the country because I didn’t want to be around city life anymore. I just sort of took a leave of absence from life I guess.

I realize not everyone can make those kinds of choices. I didn’t have kids, or a house, or anything tying me down really at the time. I had the freedom to change it all. Regardless of that though, I think there is always room to do more of what we want, and less of what we don’t want. And I think giving ourselves permission to do even small things that we can still enjoy is so crucial during grief and really in all times of life. It reminds us what's important, and that life is still worth living even in the midst of times of struggle and great pain.

I’ve been thinking about this lately more, because I feel like I’ve fallen back into a slump of not paying attention to what’s really important...

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A Piercing Perspective

How many of us had dreamed of being super heroes when we were younger? Pulled between imagining magic powers and wishing we were older so we could do whatever we want and “oh how perfect life would be”. It’s true when they say to be careful what you wish for…

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Love, Food and Grief

Today has been a good day so far.  I love waking up and feeling passion for whatever is going to happen next in my life.  Like my daughter saying, “I have a Valentine’s Day card for Dada!  Here it is!”  As I help my daughter get ready for school, I take a deep breath and remind myself of one simple truth; getting Anisha ready and walking her to school in the sun and snow IS what life is all about!  I love that I truly appreciate simple things more, but I still miss so many things about Natasha, such as her food.

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Over the Edge. Maybe~

5 years and 9 months into this life without Chuck, I may have,

Possibly

Gone over the edge.

It's a matter of opinion, I suppose. 

Our world that is so critical and judgemental of how we grieve,

Those who tend to be uncomfortable with others who refuse to play the game of life their understood way...

Well, they might think I've gone over the edge.

Which is totally okay and cool with me.

People need to be shaken out of their complacency, in my way of thinking.

And I'm just the one to do it.

How, you ask?

Well...

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Mom's Pajamas

Megan spent a lot of time in her pajamas.  It kind of came with the territory, spending so much time in the hospital.  When she was home, she often wasn't nearly at 100%, so being in her pajamas was comfortable, warm, and easy.  If there was no need to been seen in public, she figured, why get all dressed up and ready? Pajamas made sense.

She was tiny.  Five feet, three inches, and at her absolute heaviest (after a double lung transplant and a lot of steroids) she was able to crack 110 pounds.  She spent more of the time in the sub-100 pound range. Still, she wore those same big baggy pajamas.

In the final year of her life, she struggled to keep 80 pounds on her frame.  Those pajamas fit her in a very specific way. The waistband was tight enough, but the flannel fabric draped off of her like curtains.  Her accompanying t-shirt seemed far, far too large, with the sleeves actually hanging down to her elbows.

When I eventually got around to clearing out some of her clothes after her death, I don’t know exactly why I kept some of her pajamas.  It may have been a small feeling of comfort in knowing that the things she wore so much weren’t just going away. Possibly, it felt a bit wasteful, knowing that they were so “broken in” that even a thrift store wouldn’t take them.

Mostly though, I imagine there was a lot of “oh, Shelby can wear these someday”

It’s now someday.

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I'm still your Girl

I have not felt your lips against mine for over two years.  It has been almost a thousand days since I have heard your voice outside of my memory.  And, it is starting like I knew it would.  I am starting to forget your voice.  I've tried to keep the sound of your voice clear in my mind by replaying our conversations again and again, but it just isn't the same.  My ears have not physically heard you in a really, really long time.  And, now, because of your absence, I can not remember the exactness of your voice.  However, I can still hear you say "Hey, Beautiful" in the tone you reserved for me.  I will remember the sound of your voice saying those two words forever.  But, aside from this, and a few other words and phrases,  I can't hear you for certain anymore.  I knew this would happen.  And, it is as awful as I thought it'd be.  

It has been well over one hundred weeks since I have touched you.  It's been far too long since your hands were on me.   And, too long since I looked into your kind blue eyes.  I haven't felt your gaze on me in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of days.  So many days that I have lost count.  For me, counting does not serve a purpose anymore.  Everyday, you are still dead.  You do not become more dead with time, and I know for certain that you are not going to come back to me once I reach a magic number - so I've just stopped counting.  In grief, counting is pointless.  It is not like in a game of hide and seek where counting serves a purpose.  I can count and then shout "ready or not here I come".  But, you aren't ready and I am not coming to where you are - yet.  Counting just pronounces your absence and makes me feel further from you and the life we shared together.  

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Finding Power when Powerless

“Sometimes
the most important part
of the journey
is just deciding to go.”

 

I read this quote the other day in a book and I liked it. I tend to spend too much time overthinking things and not enough time just doing them. So this was refreshing to read. But it also got me thinking about widowhood, and decisions. And how much of the difficulty about loss in general is the lack of control we have. The fact that there are usually so many decisions that we either did not get to make, or never wanted to have to make. It really has a whole lot of different meanings depending on where you’re coming from.

Most of all, though, this quote makes me think back to on the different journeys that I am glad I did decide to go on. Of how glad I am I decided to date that cocky, goofy pilot. Even though I knew his work was dangerous and he could someday die doing it - which of course he did. Even though I’d been in an abusive relationship before him, and I was scared to get close to anyone again. Even though it all felt terribly scary, and I tried to run away from it, eventually I just decided to go on that journey with him. And once I decided, everything else was the most incredible ride. He changed my whole view of men, and of love, and of myself in the best of ways. And even though he did die, the changes he made in my life did not. That decision changed who I was forever - so he has never left me.

I am glad I decided to leave the city we lived in together, and leave my career, and leave all my friends behind. Even though that was hard too… I just knew, after he was gone, I couldn’t be there without him. I knew I had to decide to just go. And take some new chances. And yet again, once I made the decision, things fell into place to help it happen. His family supported me through it all, and I made new friendships and grew as a person in ways I never would have had I not decided to go.

And then I met Mike, 4 years ago this week actually. I knew within that very first meeting that if I decided to keep knowing this man, he was going to change my entire life all over again - just like Drew had. It was scary for sure, because I didn’t really feel ready for so much change. But I decided to go, and things unfolded. And here we are four years later… miraculously carving out a new life in the aftermath of losing both our partners. On a journey of firsts together, trying to figure out what it means to be in love again and also love the ones we’ve lost. And deciding each day what that means for us, and what we want to create this new love to be.

All of the best parts of my life have always been the results of those moments I decided to just go. And sure, they have also led to an unfathomable amount of pain sometimes… but isn’t that life? We aren’t owed easy. We aren’t owed a perfectly happy, painless life. We aren’t owed anything at all really. I realize that’s not everyone’s favorite thing to hear, but it’s true. It's not the whole story though...

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A Hallmark Heartbreak Kind of Holiday

My birthday was hard. Thanksgiving was hard. Christmas and New Years were both hard. Yet it is the “Hallmark Holiday” that seems to burn more than build the wave of sadness.

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