Each April 26, I post a blog I wrote in the days after Chuck’s death. I called it “Happy Anniversary, Dear Man”. But it wasn’t about our wedding anniversary; it was about his sober anniversary.
One year, when I posted it, I was criticized for posting about his sober anniversary, because it broke Chuck’s anonymity, which is a crucial underpinning of the program of AA.
I understood where this person was coming from, as I myself am a recovered alcoholic, but I take another tack on it, now that Chuck is, you know…dead.
Chuck and I found sobriety together; it was another anniversary that we celebrated. In reality, if we didn’t both have a sober program, our marriage wouldn’t have happened the way that it did.
His program of sobriety was his to live when he was alive, and he lived it with grace and dignity. He believed in carrying the message of sobriety wherever it was possible, to whomever might need it.
In our hospice time, there were more than a handful of men and women who came to his bedside, to bring meetings to him, to receive final sponsorship from him, to learn from him, and thank him for his service and guidance to them.
And they presented him with his 25- year sober coin, even though he died 3 days shy of his 25th year. I had to convince him to accept it when he did. Chuck was very specific in previous years about not accepting a coin until the very day, aware as he was that up to that day, his sobriety wasn’t promised. The thing is, I told him, we didn’t know if he would be alive TO receive it on that day and he owed it to those he’d sponsored to honor him with it.Read more
If many of my posts sound like a broken record, it’s because they are. For those of you old enough to remember, the slightest scratch on a vinyl album could stop the music in its literal track and replace it with two seconds of repeating sounds. It was aggravating when it happened. You could hope that it was just a blip. A speck of dust or an oddly perfect combination of bass vibrations that was causing the needle to jump back in time.
It usually wasn’t. Being that the spiraling track of a record was actually a groove cut into the plastic, you couldn’t just “buff out” a scratch all that easily. You couldn’t completely erase that imperfection. Every time the turntable spun to that exact point in your playlist, you would be greeted by a reminder that you didn’t handle your album with enough care, or that someone else mishandled it.Read more
I do not have it figured out yet. But, day by day I am getting closer to finding my way back to life. I have created a makeshift plan that I’m getting excited about. And, being even mildly excited is reason to celebrate because for nearly two years I’ve been completely underwhelmed by my life.
I know that my new life will be very different from the one I imagined sharing with him. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is. The life of have now is completely unrecognizable compared to the life I shared with Mike. But, this is the life I have. I can not go back to what was because it’s gone. Our life together died with him.
Whether I like it or not, I have to live without him. It’s up to me to make something out of my own life. So, I’m attempting to do just that. And, the plan I’ve come up with is solid. But, it requires me to be patient because I have children under my roof. I can’t launch into big changes immediately, but I am preparing for what I’ve decided is inevitiable. Finally, I have a plan for my future; and, this plan and my desire to dig back into life makes me very happy.
For the first year, I simply survived his death. And, this took everything I had. I discovered that I was built strong; but, my grief broke me in places too. Now, I understand that breaking is a natural part of the process. It is necessary and unavoidable. When you fall to your knees - you will get bruised. And, when you are forced to crawl in the ruins of your shattered life, you bleed from the shards of what was. This is also necessary and unavoidable.
It’s an understatement to say that the first year was compiled of the hardest days,
and long nights of my life.
It was beyond awful.
But, with time, the bruising has healed.
And, see that my tears serve to cleansed me and ready me for what is ahead.
Somehow, I have survived his death.
And, now I am ready to do more than just survive.
I’ve grown restless.
I am no longer comfortable where I am.
I can no longer exist in this holding pattern.
I’ve outgrown this waiting place.
I need to move towards the future.
I’m thirsty for life again!
The thing most people don’t get about losing your partner is that you also lose a part of yourself when they die. You lose aspects of who you were with them. You lose a lot of your innocence, without having any choice in the matter. You grieve a loss of your own self. This sudden identity change was an equally painful part of losing my fiance six years ago.
Death changes us, no doubt. And there’s this part of me that I had long-since accepted that I would never get back after he died. There was a lightness in who I was before. This effortless, joyful feeling. A distinct side of me that was silly and goofy and witty and warm. Which became replaced with something more akin to an over-serious somewhat distanced and far more uptight person. Of any part of myself, that lighthearted, goofy part is something I miss the most. My innocent self. My carefree self. Always ready to make those I love laugh. Always full of life and hungry for new experiences and filled with curiosity for life, love and people. She's a part of me that my new family has not really even met, which always gives me heartbreak.
As my birthday hit this weekend, I'm doing some reflecting, and realizing that maybe that part of me didn't actually die after all...Read more
Sometimes a song is a gentle reminder an sometimes a song is a stick of dynamite…
I woke up feeling more relaxed than usual today. I went to the gym before work and felt centered and ready for the workday. I have a 5 minute drive to work which usually happens in a blink of an eye until Adele comes over the radio. Tin absolutely loved Adele. She was his girl! Anytime Adele came on the radio the volume went to max and he belted out whatever he thought the lyrics were. I have heard her song since his passing. They bring me some sadness and other memories. Today felt different. My heart sunk as she began to sing and I began to break down. My right arm was on the arm rest and I felt someone hold my hand and squeeze. The feeling passed when I looked down at my hand but I didn’t feel alone in the car. Tears came full force and I had to change the station – Work was 3 minutes away and I couldn’t show up as the manager for the day with red eyes and a broken heart on my sleeve.
I pushed through the day staying busy and keeping a river of notes from bubbling up and forming more emotion evoking harmonies. I was efficient and effective for my day job and immediately went to a vendor event next for my second job. We drank wine and socialized. They began to play music and the first song out wasn’t Adele, It was “Sugar Pie Honeybunch” - My late father’s song for my sister. I had let my guard down and the notes pulled another chord of my heart. Fast paced questions about products generated immediate distraction and I sailed through the stormy song without alerting to anyone I was in possible emotional peril. The coast had cleared and a neighbor stopped by to ask how I was doing since Tin had passed. More chords struck and I couldn’t hide looking at the floor and putting my hands in my pockets. I jumped onto another topic but the choir of “I’m sorry for your loss” echoed again and again in the background.Read more
Our wedding song playing.
Someone else playing our wedding song as part of their shared memory of a completely different circumstance.
My boyfriend’s family’s memory of our wedding song as part of their memory of his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary.
Sitting in my boyfriend’s parents’ living room with his whole family watching his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary video play to our wedding song.
Jolted from the present moment. Torn from my daydream of what a possible future might hold for me now. Back to the past.
All consuming emotions. Hard memories of a life that never was. Missing Mike. Missing sharing our memory together. Alone.
Paralyzed in frozen silence. Hoping no one notices. Wishing to disappear. Hard swallow. Dark room. Silent tear.
Is loneliness the never-ending story of widowhood?
Does it end if we find another chance at Love?
Does the loneliness exist, even then
Because the loneliness is specific to that person, your person, who died?
Is there ever a moment again
When a widow’s heart feels that lightness of being,
Or is the heaviness, the ache, the sadness of that particular loneliness
A lifetime sentence in the so called new normal?
Because, no matter what I do, where I go, how I push, how I involve myself in life, in relationships with family and friends, no matter how much I join in, engage, power on,
That loneliness doesn’t leave my heart, my soul, or my body.
Counseling and therapy for anxiety and trauma…EMDR, bi-lateral brain stimulation, talk, tapping, retreats, meditation, new environments, connections with others…I’ve done it all, and I continue doing it all…
And…the loneliness that only intensifies as the years pass by.Read more
20 years ago, I woke up to a screaming drill instructor, chaos, mind games, and effectively running everywhere I went. I lived in a green uniform, seeing no other colors but black, green, and brown for months. I swam in 10 foot deep water with 120 pounds of gear, went 3 days and 48 miles of marching on 4 hours of total sleep (and one meal). I didn’t speak with my family for 13 weeks, other than the occasional letter. I ran until I died, and then ran some more. Rifle marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, history, military legal codes, uniform standard, rappelling, gas chambers, and a multitude of other subjects were drilled into my head, non-stop, and if I should not be sufficient in any given one, I would be held back and given another week on that godforsaken island in South Carolina.
Marine Corps recruit training (boot camp) was the hardest thing I had ever done, and for a long time, I thought it would be the hardest thing I would ever do.
If it was, I wouldn’t be writing to you today.Read more
It's Sunday morning...
I should hear you happily humming as you walk down the stairs to start the coffee.
As I lay in our bed, I should notice the familiar sound of the beans grinding.
Soon, the smell of coffee should be thick in the air.
There should be music playing in the kitchen.
And, any moment now, my phone should ding and the screen should light up with
- your name.
Right now, you should be sending me my "Good Morning Beautiful" text message.
The familiar, heartfelt message you lovingly sent to me everyday
- whether you were on your way to work, or at home, in our kitchen.
You should be making coffee and texting me on this ordinary Sunday.
But, you're not here...
The only day you missed texting me "Good Morning Beautiful" was
November 15, 2016.
I knew something was wrong, and I was right.
And, nothing, not one thing, has really felt right since.