Ink to Remember

I'm writing you all on my phone, in the back room of a tattoo shop in Cleveland. An odd place to write from, and no, I'm not the one getting the tattoo… but my sister is. Her first. My nephew, her son, is apprenticing as a tattoo artist and is doing hers. This is in so many ways so very cool. Getting to be here for it and watch is something I'm grateful for… even though I've chickened out from getting one myself!

Sitting here, I am already dreaming of coming back for my first tattoo. I already know of two I want for certain.. both are memorials to Drew. I had decided to wait 5 years from his death and if I was still certain about one, I would get it. Well, I'm creeping I to six years now, and as coincidence would have it my nephew just moved to town to do tattoo work.. it seems like a sign.

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Five Years My Love

My Dear Linzi,

 

Five Years, my love. Five Years.

 

We would’ve been married five years today.

 

Yet another milestone you won’t be able to see or celebrate with me. What would we have done? Where would I have taken you? Who would’ve watched Lila that night? Would I have cooked for you? All questions that will forever remain unanswered and unknown.

 

My, where has the time gone?

 

It trailed off in the wake of your absence. Everywhere. Nowhere. I’m not sure. It’s been difficult to pay attention to the passage of time anymore. One more second is just another second closer to seeing you again. How long am I trapped in this prison of pain, my love?

 

The tears still fall just as freely as they did back then. The thought of you is still as bittersweet as the day I woke up to you gone, reconciling with myself that the night before actually happened.

 

I miss the arguments. I miss your encouragement and your compliments. I miss the disagreements over silly things like preference of condiments. I miss laughing at anything that didn’t make sense. I miss your critiques meant to help me do better than I once did.

 

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Second Time Around

Does our soul get more than one soulmate? 

Yes. 

And no. 

This is what I believe. .... 

Our soul is perhaps the biggest part of our makeup, as human beings. It is what carries all the important stuff. Emotion, heart, love. I think that with life experience, age, and time, our souls change and alter some. I think after the death of a partner or spouse, our souls become different. They transform. Sure, the core of who we are remains - some personality traits, things like that. But our soul, the way we view the world, the way we love - changes drastically after the death of a partner or spouse. So, to me, the soul and the person I was, when I was with my husband and loved by him, is not the same soul and person I am today, because of his death. That soul deserved love. This one does too. The way I love is different now, and the person I am today, has a soulmate. My first soulmate lives on in my heart, and through all my memories and stories about us. As his widow, I feel honored and privileged to be the one to carry out his legacy, and build my own, on the foundation that is love. The bricks are all built from love. 

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And Yet Another Tragedy

It seems every time I listen to the news there has been another tragedy and more people have died. On Monday a rented van mounted the sidewalk and killed 10 people and injured 15 in Toronto. On purpose. This person literally had no regard for human life. There was no empathy; how scary is that? How can someone be so incredibly detached from people and the world? What was wrong with him? I know that they must be mentally ill but that means nothing at all to the people whose lives have been turned upside down by one person’s deranged actions. It is not an excuse. It infuriates me that these innocent people lost their lives so senselessly.

Yes, it is great that people come together to support the community and I keep seeing the phrase that we should look for the helpers. But really, I just feel annoyed. We shouldn’t have to look for the helpers because this never should have happened. It’s because we lack any control over the situation that we are forced to respond and help afterwards as our only option. We are working backwards and will never prevent this type of violence from happening if we just help after the fact. The damage is already done. Those people are never coming back. We can punish that man all we want but he still killed all those people. And let’s be honest, unfortunately, he won’t be the last to do it. He certainly wasn’t the first.

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Five Years of Missing Chuck

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Quiet

As the months pass, I am becoming increasingly reserved.  I used to be a very social person; but, now, I am not overly interested in interacting with the people around me.  I am not compelled to engage in superficial conversations because it distracts me from my own thoughts.  My identity was intimately entwined with Mike; therefore, when I buried him, a piece of me was essentially buried alive.  Seventeen months ago, I lost myself.  And, now, I am grasping to redefine my self identity. 

In order to do this, I need to withdraw and delve into myself.  Now, I am quiet because I am constantly participating in an internal dialogue.  As I attempt to re-establish my identity I am endlessly searching my Soul to discover who I am.  Countless thoughts swirl around inside my head as I work to redefine myself and rebuild my life.  I am completely exhausted from all this thinking.  And, most of the time, I feel unsettled in both my mind and in my heart.  

Recently, I have eased up on the continuous planning and over-thinking.  I have reduced the amount of time I spend arranging ideas in my head because I realize that the best thing I can do is step aside and let the plan unfold.  I am more relaxed because I am certain everything will work out exactly as it should - regardless of what I do or don't do.  Endlessly shifting thoughts and ideas around in my head will not serve me well in the wake of Mike's death.  Finally, I understand that I need to do less strategizing and worrying.  I simply need to have faith and enjoy my life as I am re-routed toward a future that is different than I had planned.  Thankfully, I am no longer lacking faith.  But, now, my latest conundrum is that I am lacking passion... 

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Meeting Myself Where I Am

I’ve been thinking the past few days about Kelley’s Friday post. She talked about how people treat us when widowed, and the frustrations of often being treated like a five year old or misunderstood in some way.

Or how people begin to act differently again once you find new love. That one I can definitely attest to. I wrote to her, saying how it felt like when I met Mike and found love again, all the people who had coddled me and worried over me disappeared, as if to say “Oh thank God, we don’t have to WORRY about her anymore!”

And then the avoiders who had been too uncomfortable with my grief came out of the woodworks to suddenly be more present and express their joy… which really felt more like expressing how happy they were that they could be comfortable with my life again. It’s funny what grief does to those around us... and then to us as a result.

When I moved to Ohio in the name of new love, it felt like a slow exodus I had not intended. Gradually, everyone seemed to just sort of fade out. I got the same sort of story from people over and over again, "Oh I figured you're so busy enjoying your new life, I didn't want to bother you!" Excuse me for being blunt, but that is the stupidest thing to say to someone you care about. Because you think I’m happy you think I’m too busy? Huh?

What the hell does that even mean? And how did virtually no one stop to think that maybe, just maybe, this change was not JUST joyful, but incredibly painful and hard? How did no one see that? Leaving the only place I’ve ever called home… the place where my parents and my fiance are buried, to live 1400 miles away in a totally different culture from Texas. Not to mention how hard it's been for Mike knowing he was the catalyst for my leaving home and for a lot of pain I've experienced by making that choice. Really, truly, almost no one asked at any point “how are you really doing?”. Somehow they all decided that being united with my new love after having dated from far away for nearly a year was all I needed to be 100% happy with no sense of loss whatsoever.

This still annoys me...

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Fierce Love

I am a man of many flaws, one filled with an array of imperfections. In some eyes, I shouldn’t be standing yet here I am. Doing so.
 
I thought about Linzi. About how much she wanted to be a mother to that beautiful little girl asleep in the other room as I write this. I thought about what she would’ve wanted for her. 
 
I thought about all of the conversations that we’ll never have to discuss her future. To discuss if my response to certain situations are the right ones. If I’m being too hard on her. If I’m not showing her enough attention or affection.
 
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My Husband Died, And I Am Not A Child

Have you ever felt as if, since losing your partner or spouse to death, the outside world treats you like you are a child? Perhaps I am just extra sensitive lately, or maybe I am slightly resentful that I’m a 46 year old woman who had no choice but to move in with her parents after 5 years alone of struggling financially post-loss. Whatever the case may be, lately, I feel the need to stand on top of the nearest mountain and shout to the universe defiantly: "MY HUSBAND DIED! PLEASE STOP TREATING ME LIKE A CHILD!" I would do it, but that seems like a rather childish thing to do, which would probably not help much in making my point to the masses.

Why is it, that after the death of a spouse or partner, people want to collectively treat you as if you are not an adult who can make their own decisions, live their life, and generally function on the planet? Listen, I truly understand the need for our loved ones to coddle us or baby us some in the beginning months - when our entire world has been turned off its axis, and when we feel like we can’t possibly breathe or shower or do anything except sit in the fetal position until the end of time, and then a little bit longer.

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Triggers and Chicks

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my class at school had chicken eggs that we were hatching. We were all so excited. Well, last Wednesday they hatched. So we had six cute little chicks. Then on Monday one died.

Cue the crying and upsetness. How was I supposed to know a chick dying was going to a trigger for me? It’s a chicken! I’m not even a vegetarian! But there I am, Monday afternoon looking into the brooder full of chicks and seeing the littlest one face down, legs sprawled behind him and I’m instantly a disaster.

All sorts of feelings start to come up. Stemming from the chick but connecting to my own grief as well. I wonder what I did wrong. Why did this happen? Did I do enough? How did I not prevent this situation? I feel guilty. Was it my fault? I didn’t know anything was wrong at all. He was the smallest one but it’s not like it was a huge difference. I noticed he was sleeping lots in the morning but how did it turn into dying? My thinking and feelings spun out of control. I am aware of that but I also couldn’t help it.

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