I stand staring into the cupboard. My eyes see all the familiar coffee mugs lined up. Though they are inanimate objects, the mugs seem to be shamelessly shouting “pick me” from their distinguished spots on the shelf. *Sigh.
Which one should I select.
Which mug do I want to use?
This decision should not be this hard.
Except that it is.
This simple task is hard for me because every little thing becomes more challenging when you live with loss. Even picking a coffee cup can be momentarily overwhelming for me. And, this feels completely out of character for me because I used to be very decisive. I could multitask with ease. I coordinated a career and a household. But, now, I am standing here unsure about what coffee mug to pick from an assortment of mugs displayed on the shelves.
After staring at my choices, I reach for my well worn mug; and, then, at the last second, my hand instinctively grabs his mug. And, I know exactly why I did this. I did this in an effort to feel closer to him. I know that Mike’s lips touched the rim of this particular mug; and, if I use his mug, then maybe our lips can meet somewhere in the space that exist between where he is and where I am.
One week ago, we wrapped up what was easily the busiest Camp Widow I’ve ever taken part in. In two days, it will be the five year anniversary of Megan’s death. Winter has blown into northeast Ohio early this year, with our first snow coming in before the leaves had even had the chance to fall off of the trees. The holidays will be here before we know it.
My brain, and body, are in overdrive right now, and that’s not even counting my day job, which is just plain busy. Time to think about Megan has been minimal. That is both a blessing and a curse. With five years imminent, I feel like a SHOULD be primarily thinking about that fact.
But I’m not. I’ve been thinking about building chandeliers. About yard work. About getting a snowblower, driving to Toronto and upstate New York, changing the oil in the car, and prepping for what is looking like a long winter. At Camp Widow, my name tag contained the titles of “Ambassador”, “Volunteer”, and “Regional Leader”, not to mention that I’m a writer here, and assisted Sarah in presenting her workshop.
All of this has taken precedence over the title of “5 years” that was also emblazoned on my name tag.Read more
This was my second birthday since Tin passed. Last year I was the big 4-0 and I wasn’t ever expecting to be a widow at that age. One year later and another candle on the cake doesn’t add nearly enough light to illuminate this shadowy part of the year.Read more
I never would have pictured myself being so ecstatic and thrilled and jazzed up to talk about death and loss and grief. I never would have thought my heart would beat faster at the thought of making another widowed person laugh at something dark, through their tears. I never saw it coming that my life would consist of comforting people and listening to people as they walk through this narrow and confusing unlit pathway called grief.
But here I am, ecstatic.
Here I sit, heart beating ...
Here I wait, to by that listening ear
for the next person in pain.Read more
I struggle to sleep at night.
I have flashbacks of the horrific images of how my husband’s body was left.
I miss the love of my life every day.
It’s hard for me to trust.
It’s painful to see his things all over the house, but I cannot bear to take them down.
I miss feeling loved, protected and cared for.
I miss feeling like I was someone’s everything.Read more
We each define this widowed walk for ourselves, of course.
The grief we carry is as individual as a thumb print, we're told.
Which makes sense, of course.
For myself, I've never used the word lost to describe this grief.
Being lost implies to me that I have a destination in mind.
An end point.
And I don't.Read more
After Mike died – indeed before he died, when he was ill – I know I set a clear intention to carry on living fully afterwards. In truth I never questioned whether or not I’d want to carry on living. For the last many decades, for as long as I can consciously remember being aware of such things as “choice”, “intention”, “the miracle of life” (by which I mean the chances of that particular sperm meeting that particular egg at that particular time and becoming me), etc…, I have had a passion for life, for living life fully, and maximising the miraculous chance I have been given.
Of course I wobbled when Mike got ill. I definitely questioned my will when he died. More than once I remember looking into a fast-running icy stream and just wondering if it would be an easy way to make it all go away. Choosing to live doesn’t mean there isn’t also excruciating pain, deep sadness, questioning, regrets, wonderings. And losing Julia has fanned flames of anxiety within me that I never knew existed. I get so scared now of something happening to me before Ben and Megan are “properly on their feet”. I am petrified of anything awful happening to Ben or Megan. I know I cannot take another loss. I am in anticipatory grief of my parents dying – which they will, of course, because they are 80 and 81.
And I feel that when Black the dog dies, which he will, that my fragile world will unravel again. The dog. Who represents the hearth and the heart of the house in ways that only people with a dog might understand. The dog Mike chose. The dog who Julia, of all the kids, had an uncanny way with, despite her weighing only half his weight when we first got him.
The dog who outlived Mike and Julia.Read more
Today I'm exhausted for good reasons, and thinking back to all the many times I have been exhausted for reasons I didn't want to be. Exhausted from crying so much, or from trying to figure out my life again, or from just trying to do the myriad of ordinary things in life as a widow like buying groceries, going to the doctor or making new friends. I had years of being exhausted for reasons I didn't like, and sometimes those days still come. But today, this tired feeling comes not because of my grief, but out of my grief. Out of the ashes of the hardest and scariest loss in my life, seven years later I am still standing and am now able to hold space for others who are still in that fresh hell of early grief.
As Mike and I drive wearily home from Toronto's incredible Camp Widow event, it is a kind of tired that we want to have. The kind of tired that means we are still living and still trying to do meaningful things with what has happened to us and what we have left.
My last post was about my first year as a widow and some of the lessons I learned throughout that year. I wanted to do the second part of that post. I want to share with you some of the things that were said to me during that year that made me think, “You have to be kidding me.”
Things you shouldn’t say to a widow-
1. “You need to get over it!” (My thought was REALLY? Do I tell you to get over your family? NO! Dead or Alive they are still your family). If you are reading this and you haven’t lost the love of your life through death, please be MINDFUL of this comment.
2. “You are young and pretty, you can remarry.” I know people mean well when they say this, but that is insensitive to say to someone who lost their soulmate. Being with someone is a personal choice, and sometimes some of us don’t want to do this again, and that is PERFECTLY OK.
3. “Your house is not as clean as it used to be.” No shit Sherlock! I have a whole new set of responsibilities I need to attend too, including trying to keep myself alive today!
4. “You need to sensor the time that your child spends with Grandma because it’s hindering the bond of my child with Grandma.” Well, that sent me overboard! My child has a beautiful and special relationship with her Grandmother, and she lets other kids play with her too. But every time she sees her, she wants to feel her love and be next to her. I feel she feels her father through her. People can be very selfish, even to a fatherless child. Please people count your blessings!Read more
This blog is a question for the Universe, I suppose.
Because I don't believe that there is a human alive, who has gone through this widowed life, who would have a ready answer for me.
I've stood in the middle of nowhere and cast my eyes up into azure blue skies...
I've stood outside on the darkest of dark nights with no light pollution around and let my eyes drift from one star to another...
I've stood in the midst of a crowd of people, all who love me...
I've stood with strangers...
I've been busy, I've distracted myself, I've practiced being in the moment, being still...
I've criss-crossed the country 8 times in these 6 1/2 years since Chuck's death...
I've workamped at an opera camp...
I've greeted thousands of guests as I worked the front gate of a Renaissance Faire...
I've done everything I could think of...
I've pushed into all that was in front of me...
And now I stand still and wonder...Read more