My Final Self-Reflection

 I have really enjoyed contributing to this blog, but now it is time to move on and giver others a chance to share.   I thought over time I would find other widows and widowers to connect with, but it hasn’t really happened.  However, as I reflect over my life, it makes sense because my life experience has always been outside the norm—I have always felt isolated from society which is what made my wife so special.  She gave me a deep, deep connection with her for 15 years, and now, I have this deep, deep connection with my daughter.

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What Was. What Is~

Your death

stripped me down to bone and marrow.

It dug my heart out of my body with sharp talons

And flung it, bloodied, onto the ground

A sharp bladed axe,

Such as was used for beheadings in the days of Henry VIII 

Hacked away at that bloodied heart of mine on the ground.

Slicing and dicing it into miniscule pieces.

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Broken Dreams

I don’t often dream.  Not the metaphorical “dream” or anything like that, just regular old dreams when I’m sleeping.  They just don’t happen. Even when they do, they seemingly are just five seconds of me sitting in my living room or something.  There isn’t anything crazy happening or odd traits like being able to fly. It’s plainly boring.

However, I did have a longer dream last night...the first in months that lasted more than a minute.  Again, still nothing interesting. I was driving somewhere. That was it. Regardless, it got me thinking.

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Death and Coffee

This Sunday, I woke up early because I drove my son to work for 7am.  I  found myself at a local coffee shop which isn’t any big deal, except that it is.

 

I drove by the coffeeshop that Mike and I went to when he was alive.  I drove by it on purpose.  I made a choice not to go there this morning. 

 

Drinking coffee in our coffeeshop doesn’t bring Mike back to life.  Death and coffee don’t work like that.  Obviously, I’ve always known this; but, early on, I did it anyways. Hoping against hope, I would sit in our spot desperately praying that Mike would walk through the door.  Now, after 2.8 years of widowhood, those days of wishful thinking are nearly over.  It’s different now. 

 

Recently, I’ve begun to accept the permanence of his death.  In my head, I’ve know the foreverness of it all for a while now; but, in my heart, I just couldn’t grasp it.  And, truthfully, a part of me still can’t.  But, I’m starting to make headway with acceptance; and this is making all the difference. 

 

 

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Showing Grief

This past week, I got to sit down and have a mentoring session with a photographer that I have greatly admired for several years now. We went through my photography - most specifically, all of the photographs I made about my grief after Drew died. It’s taken me years to get to the right space emotionally to be ready to have someone look at these photos with a critical eye and tell me what is working best and least in relation to showing them in galleries and having exhibitions. I’ve thought for years that I’ve just been avoiding it, but I’m now seeing that I just wasn’t ready to take these photos into such an often harshly critical atmosphere as the fine art gallery world. 

Deep down though, I have never been able to ignore this pull from inside my gut that wants this work to be out in the world in a bigger way. The parts of me that went through all that trauma and pain and grief and sadness and anger and confusion and brokenness… which is captured in the images. I want this series and this experience to be seen by those who have the fortune of not yet experiencing such pain as well as those who have. I want it to be seen by anyone who has ever been broken by life, because I think seeing visuals about struggle and rebuilding can help all of us feel more connected and less alone.

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Paying Grief Forward

It has been eight years since my husband's sudden death. 

In the beginning, there were days where I honestly didnt see myself ever living a life with meaning again. 

I didnt think I could feel joy again. 

I didnt know if it would be possible to take the pain and turn it into something that might help others.

I didnt have the energy or the foresight to know how vital that might be. 

How doing so would help me to survive. 

Slowly, 

and with many mis-steps,

I began to find my way. 

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A Breath Away~

You are so far away now.

6 years away.

A lifetime away.

A moment away.

But a moment that is memory rather than feeling.

Remembrance.

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It's a Day

Another year, another birthday.  Megan would be 38 tomorrow. Each time July 24 rolls around, it’s a slightly different experience for me.  Sometimes, the build-up to that day is the difficult part. Other times, it has been acknowledged as “it is what it is” and the day passes without much fanfare.

This year, it’s a mixture of both.

While it is never swept under the rug, the theme that past few weeks has been a ridiculous amount of distraction.  My work has been beyond what I would normally call “busy”. We’ve just returned from our trip to Texas. There has been some car trouble, and a lot of work around the house.  More often than not, I’m just plain tired.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room to remember that Megan’s birthday falls in July.  But I do anyway. I remember it at night, when I’m falling to sleep. I remember it on weekday mornings, when I’m up and preparing for work, but the rest of the house is quiet.  My commute is yet another instance where I get a few free minutes to think, and in comes Megan.

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Notre Dame

When you read this, I will be somewhere in Europe.  I will have already traveled to Paris.  And, trust me,  it is not lost on me that both Notre Dame and myself are under reconstruction.  It is no coincidence.

When I lay my eyes on the Cathedral Notre Dame it will be actively undergoing reconstruction - just like me.  And, like with any rebuild it will not go smoothly.  I know this.  There will be things that don't go according to plan.  Best laid plans will need to be changed as they go.  Accommodations will be made.  Things will be changed and rearranged.  Careful attention will be paid to keeping the integrity of the building.  And, similarly, I am conscious that I should maintain a lot of the woman I was when Mike was alive.  She was built solid.  There is a lot of me that is salvageable.  Just like Notre Dame, I am not altogether lost.  I have survived the firestorm that is Mike's death.  I am still standing just like the iconic Cathedral. 

In both rebuilds, there will be improvements to the original.  And , I expect there will be things lost too.  It is what it is.

 

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The Rifts of Loss

Funny how different losses can create such different kinds of struggles for us. How different versions of loss can confuse us and blindside us in unexpected ways… even when we have dealt with loss before.

I feel like I came home from our recent trip to Texas changed. In a good way. I feel like there were a lot of things that were rearranged inside me while on that trip. I know it had a lot to do with seeing good friends, and Drew’s family, and being in my hometown and feeling that anchored feeling of the place I grew up. 

Usually when we visit, I leave feeling like there just wasn’t enough time… to see everyone and do everything that mattered. This time though, it didn’t feel that way. I made it a priority to have greater amounts of time with the people I often barely get time to see - some of them, the most important people to me. So as we hit the road back to Ohio after 10 days in Texas, my heart felt so full and satisfied and peaceful. It was the first time a trip back home didn’t feel like “not enough”. And it was beautiful. 

That trip has left a different sense of calm in me since being back in Ohio. I feel this stronger sense of connection to the people and places I love that are far away, and also to the person I was then. In a way, maybe it feels like I’ve brought her with me this time. 

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