(Editor's note: Janine will be away for the next two weeks and we are happy to welcome visiting contributor Colleen Phillips as our Wednesday blogger in her absence. Thanks Colleen!)
A warm hello.
Since Rory died almost 5 years ago, it seems as if we have been trying to find our way, figure things out and be a family of “2”. Ryan, my son, had just turned 3 years old and I was 40. We had so much life to look forward to and we shared so much love in our home when it all came crashing down on May 27, 2004. Next Wednesday, it will be 5 years to the day Rory lost his battle with cancer. It literally feels like yesterday, that I saw, spoke with and touched Rory for the last time. In other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. I suppose that may be the way it will always be, but I don’t know…
For the past ten years, my vision of my happy place has been the same: a tiny beach on the island of Caye Caulker, Belize. Daniel and I spent 14 fantastic days there in the summer of 1999. At the worst of times when I have wanted to scream "calgon take me away"...this little oasis is the picture in my mind's eye. I haven't been back there since then and we always swore we would go. In 2000 we had Grayson, and life became so full that the trip took a backseat. We took plenty of other trips, just not that one.
This year is 10 years since my last visit to my happy place. I have been very tempted to go there in August, to celebrate what would have been our 17th wedding anniversary. That actually hurt to type. It's hard to believe it would be 17 years, I haven't seen him since 13. Damn death.Read more
When a friend is sick you hope they will get well soon. If you know someone who has cancer, you might pray fervently for them to be cured. After you've had surgery, a friend might call to tell you they hope you will heal quickly. But what about when someone dies. What do we wish then?
After Phil's death I feared getting better. I didn't want to get over it, move on, allow time to heal me, or be grateful that Phil was in a better place. Frankly, getting better sounded like forgetting, getting over it was impossible, moving on implied leaving a time when Phil was a part of my world, time as a concept wasn't doing much for me, and I couldn't think of a better place for Phil than in my arms. None of the things people said to me about healing or recovery were in any way comforting. In fact, they were horrifying. I will confess...I was afraid everyone around me would assume I didn't love Phil all that much if I could recover from losing him.
When did you clean out your husband's closet?
(For our new readers: Over the past several years I have interviewed many widows about their day-to-day life after the loss of their husbands. I asked all of the women I spoke to the same fifty questions, all practical inquiries about everyday life. Many readers have asked me to share my answers to these fifty questions...and since I could hardly say no seeing as the whole thing was my idea...I answer them here at Widow's Voice.)
Cleaning out Phil's closet has been an on-going process. In fact, I don't think I will really be done until I move from this house. But the initial moving of his things began six weeks after he died.Read more
I made the choice to go into my office to throw the bundles of trash I have stacked in different places all over the room. One bag had a can of his dip that he left over R&R, bundles of every receipt from when he was here, and the lip gloss I wore when I was able to kiss his lips. I got through many of the boxes which led me to the closet...the closet that has bags of letters. Of course I'm a sucker for torturing myself, and opened the bags.
Letters from the past 3 years. A faint smell of the perfume I'd sprayed on them and the envelopes he's written tiny messages on. Reading through them I smiled and laughed, but most of all....cried. Cried for the unfairness and cried for all the letters talking of spending the rest of our lives together. I think we all can relate to that :)
Then I opened the calendar I wrote in while he was there. March 24th, 2007 "Baby surprised me today!":Read more
Sometimes I am quite certain that I am pathetic. Not only am I pathetic, but I am the pathetic-est of all. I am sure that no one anywhere is as petty, jealous or pissed off as I am. I feel like my cat Sophie must feel when she sleeps with her face jammed into her pillow. I don't want to see anyone, I don't want to hear anyone, and I especially don't want to speak to anyone...
This morning I sat down at my computer to work on a chapter in this so-called book that I am writing. This book that, if things go the way they are going, will most likely never get written.
Anyhow I sat down to write and realized that I had two choices. I could write a chapter that made me look good, like a good widow, a smart widow, a competent and gracious widow. In short, an admirable widow.
Or, I could write the truth. I decided on the truth.
Not that I actually try. But today it's more like he is ALL I'm thinking about. Even when his beauty fills my mind I can't help but feel partial. Like someone tore off my legs and somehow…I’m still living.
I've wondered from day one (of widowhood) how long I’d survive this life. “Time” I no longer understand nor try to comprehend. I can only hope I don't live long enough to forget. If I think for too long about how much I already fail to remember, I panic. Fearing that one day there will be nothing authentic left of David in my consciousness but only a notion of who he once was.
Today's post is really for all of the "newer" women who are on this path ...... the one we didn't want to be on, the club we didn't want to join.
I was trying to think of what to say to a new friend whose husband died a few months ago. She is in the middle of what I call the "black". I am not a veteran in this process, by any stretch of the imagination. But I can see that I'm slowly moving forward. And so I wanted to encourage her, and those of you who are in the "black".
My heart is so heavy for each one of you. I wish there was something I could say, something I could do to take some of the pain off of you. But I can't, can I?Read more
This past weekend was my fourth Mother's Day without Daniel. The last three have been very difficult for me, and had I had time to think about it, I would have dreaded this one too. Oddly enough I was too busy to think about whether the weekend would be hard or not.
It was hard in a different way this year. I missed him, as I usually do, but it was so much less of a bitter feeling that it surprised me. No pity party this year, no envy of other mom's with adoring husbands to wait on them hand and foot (or not, as the case may be). I wished Daniel could be there to enjoy it and his absence was noticeable as it usually is. I wished he could have spent some quality time with me and with Grayson making me breakfast or whatever they might have done. I missed him of course, but the overall feeling I had for the weekend wasn't bitter or angry or envious, it was grateful.Read more
Decision making has never been difficult for me. If asked to choose between one thing and another I pick one, and stick with my decision. When facing a challenging task I determine a course of action and get moving. When a problem appears unsolvable...I go for a run, and nine times out of ten come back with an answer. And then came widowhood.
One of the most disturbing aspects of widowhood for me was the very new experience of constantly questioning every decision I made. Was I doing this or that right? Should I choose one thing or the other. One minute option A seemed best, the next minute I was more inclined to go with option B. I called people and asked their opinions often...and I let myself be swayed toward their way of thinking regardless of what my gut was telling me. Buy a new fence or fix the old? Sell Phil's truck or keep it? Get a gardener or teach the kids how to mow the lawn? Vacation or no vacation?