Unshared Milestone

Yesterday would have been Megan and I’s thirteenth wedding anniversary.  It has been the fourth since she died. We didn’t quite make it to a decade together as husband and wife, but we at least got to have the experience of buying our own home and becoming parents.  We got to have a formal wedding, with a service in a church and a catered reception in a rented hall. For all intents and purposes, our marriage and life together thereafter was “normal”, save for, you know, the whole long-term illness and death thing.

But I digress.  Again, it’s been four years since she died.  I’ve had a bit of time now to observe how this very specific date will occur each year, and I’ve noticed a trend…

...none of those who were our wedding guests cares about this date.

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Falling out of Grief

I feel like this may need some sort of introductory explanation. 
Suffice to say, that this entry is kinda sultry; but, more so, it is fairly profound - at least to me.
~Staci
I have figured out how to love Mike
-in separation.
And, I am not talking about some superficial, makeshift love.
I am talking about deep, pure, passionate love.
The type of love that makes you weak at the knees
- just thinking about it.
The kind of love that finds you pushed up against the wall,
Out of breath,
With your hair a mess.
A passionate love.
A close your eyes, 
Tilt your head back,
Inhale him,
And, 
Wait for his lips to find your mouth,
Put your hands on me,
Brush the hair from my eyes,
Kind of love.
Intense, consuming love.
And, this is pretty amazing, 
Considering the circumstance,
(Mike being dead and all).
Obviously, 
I can no longer have a 
physical love with him,
But, I have decided that we can still have a fierce love affair,
A love with intensity and passion. 
And, true to our love,
The love between Mike and I remains carefree and unbridled.
But, our love is not simply sultry,
Our love,
Is a quiet and gentle love, too.
It is a love you feel contently,
Gazing at you,
From across the room,
At any given moment,
Of an ordinary day.
A sweet, tender love,
A love you can feel,
Breathing,
On the back of your neck.
A dependable love.
A love that holds you,
Late into the midnight hour.
A love that you fall deeper into,
With every goodnight kiss.
A comfortable love,
A love that lays it’s eyes on you,
Like it’s the first time,
-every time.
A love you want to 
Wake up next to,
For the rest of your life.
The love - of - your - life
Kind of love.
The kind of love,
 I fell into with Mike.
And,
Somehow, 
I figured it out.
Now, I know how to love him 
-like this again.
Even though he is dead,
Despite the fact,
That he is gone from here.
Although,
We exist,
In two different dimensions.
I can still love him like this.
And, in doing so, 
I can let him go,
A little...
Because, I now understand,
He isn't leaving me.
Mike isn't going anywhere...

Over the last few weeks,

Something in my mindset has changed.

And, in the process,

I’ve rediscovered how to taste,

His memory on my lips.

And, still, 

Be present 

-in this reality.

HOW is this done?

It’s actually pretty easy...

I AM FALLING OUT OF GRIEF,

And, I am falling in Love with Life

-all over again. 

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Taking you with Us

Last week, Mike, Shelby and I packed up and drove south for the Smoky Mountains. We’ve been waiting and saving for this trip all year long. It is by far our favorite place to go unwind and explore the beauty of nature. With buckling down on our finances, we haven’t been able to do really any trips this year, so this one was especially exciting to finally get to.

There’s plenty I could talk about on this trip, but the one thing that is on my mind most is that, in this new life of mine, I am doing things that he and I dreamed of doing, and I am still bringing Andrew with me. He and I were not really much into hiking - in part due to living in the hot, flat, North Texas landscape. We camped here and there but never anywhere of note, and usually only somewhere within 30 minutes of where we lived. We always wanted to get out there and see more of the country though. Our plan for our honeymoon was to buy a little teardrop trailer and go cross country to see some of the nation’s most amazing national parks… places we had only ever dreamed of. Neither of us had ever set foot in any of these marvelous national parks, and we were about to do it together.

We never made it to those dreams together though, he died before we ever got the chance. But I have, since he died, and I’ve taken him with me for every one of them.

Still, I haven’t made it out to Yosemite or Yellowstone. But I visited the Grand Canyon just months after his death, for my 30th birthday. It was excruciating to be there without him - but it was also the only place on earth I wanted to be for that milestone in my life. And even then, I brought him with me. Weeks before the trip, I found this little yellow helicopter toy at the store, and I bought it because it reminded me of him (he was a pilot, and died flying a yellow helicopter). This little toy was cute, and silly, and somehow brought some lightness and odd cheer to me. When I looked at it, I could feel him smiling. Little did I know all the many places that tiny toy helicopter and I would go...

 

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The Forgotten

Seconds filled with thoughts turn to minutes and the minutes to hours. It’s only been 3 months so there isn’t going to be a whole day that I won’t be affected by losing you. In all honesty, I will never go a day without missing you. So why does it feel like everyone else has forgotten you?

When you left, I was surrounded by family and friends. They were watching my every move and analyzing my every word. I was instantly under a microscope being dissected in hopes they would find a cure. There is no cure for life without you. There is only numbing and bandages until the break in my heart heals enough to beat stronger again but the scar will always remain.

“Do you feel you are getting over it?”

It? It? What is IT? Losing my person? Being left suddenly alone? Being made responsible for all of the bills? Having to empty closets? Having to watch objects in my life be taken and sent away to others because instead of signing a marriage license we had to rush a Will? What exactly is the “it” you are referring to?

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I (Still) Go To Therapy

When Mike first died, everyone asked me if I was going to therapy. When I said that I was it was somehow a relief to them. “Good for you,” they’d say. I didn’t get it. I was so fresh into it that I mostly just sat there and cried at my sessions. I mean, it was good to cry and talk and hear an outsider’s perspective but it was still very raw.

Now, just past the two year mark, when and if I ever mention I go to therapy I’m met with the surprised reaction of, “Oh? Do you still need that?” I’d like to be able to say that reaction was a one time thing but that’s the usual reaction I get from many different people. Sometimes also met with their embarrassment or discomfort in the fact that they are now talking to me about the “taboo” subject of therapy. I refuse to succumb to that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that I still go to therapy. Maybe people just don’t understand.

The “do you still need to go to that?” with the implied suggestion that I should be fine by now was the exact question my family doctor asked me when I asked her to sign the papers for my insurance. I replied, “Is my husband still dead?”

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Where Are They?

Where are they…

The ones we loved in life,

love still, in death?

Where do they go when they leave our sides?

Do they exist in a far away Universe,

Unseen and unseeable?

Carried only in memory,

That shows itself in the wind,

In clouds tinged with the colors of a sunrise or sunset?

Do they see us as we wish for them?

Do they hear our cries of anguish?

Our pleas and our sorrow?

Do they hear us whisper their names into the air we breathe deeply into our lungs?

Do they see us hug our arms tightly around ourselves…

Remembering their arms around us,

Their hearts beating the rhythm of life and love,

Into our ears laid upon their chests?

Do they know? Do they hear us? Do they know us…still?

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La Bella Vita

A year ago, if someone told me that my life would fall into place again I would have hoped what they were telling me was right.  The problem is that hope does not provide a sense of contentment because hope can only take you so far.  It is just a starting point.  There is a big difference between hoping and knowing.  Now, finally, inside my heart, I know, without a doubt, that I will be okay.  In truth, I know that I will be better than okay.  And, let me be completely realistic, this peace of mind has been well earned. I have spent the better part of the last twenty months working hard to come to this place.  The sense of peace I am feeling hasn't come easy, but it is well deserved. 

I have come to believe that everything in my life is going according to plan.  A plan that is much bigger than me or Mike.  I do not know exactly what the plan is; but, I know that I am being lead in the right direction.  Recently, my mindset has become different and I am better for the change.  I am more content since I've acknowledged that the plan itself is none of my business.  Sure, it's my life and I am obviously interested in the outcome; but, I mean it, what happens to me is really not for me to worry about.  I am much more at peace now that I have loosened the reigns; and, I am confident that my future is in better hands than mine. 

Since I have removed myself from the responsibility of leading me in the right direction, I no longer feel that it is necessary to plan every little detail about my life.  I am so grateful that I am no longer endlessly strategizing and envisioning elaborate scenarios in my mind.  Existing with this mindset was completely exhausting and unnecessary.  It's ironic, now, I do less; and, this has made all the difference. 

I now concede that whatever will be, will be - in spite of what I do, or do not do.  It seems so simple, but for the longest time this concept was beyond me. After Mike died I thought I had to "fix" my life and my broken self.  Now, I understand that my life is going to be exactly as it is intended to be and the best thing I can do is move aside and let things unfold. I know this might sounds lofty, or naive, or over simplistic.  I assure you, I am just sharing what I've come to know.  I really believe that by relinquishing the control I was desperately clinging to I am now heading in the right direction, in spite of myself.

In the past, when I was trying to steer my life, I was holding the wheel so tight that I wasn't enjoying the drive.  I was missing the point.  Now, I have stopped trying to control my destiny.  I am no longer interfering in the direction of my life because I have faith that I am being lead towards the future I am intended to live.  

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The White Rabbit

Alarm goes off and it hurts to get out of bed. I was asleep by 10 pm last night and it’s 5am now. That’s 7 hours! 7!! Why am I exhausted? Up I go and into the bathroom. Brush my teeth, get dressed, take meds, get yelled at for food by the cat, walk the dog, pack my lunch, rush to eat breakfast, gym for 1 hour, catch up on texts, emails and Facebook on the elliptical machine…Breathe…

Work at 8am! Work is so busy there isn’t a break, meeting, questions, meeting, annoyed guest, annoyed staff so no lunch, meeting, sudden change in the day’s plan and I’m supposed to be out by 4:30pm yet it’s 5:15pm, off to the grocery store, check the mail, get greeted by the dog, get yelled at for food by the cat, put the groceries on the counter, take the dog on a walk and catch up on texts, emails and Facebook…Breathe…

Back in the house, phones going crazy because everyone else is off of work and asking for things, make the dog dinner, take a shower, probably laundry but the laundry from 2 days ago is still in the washing machine so re-wash and realize there is still clothes in the dryer so you add them to the pile on the living room chair….Breathe…

So what’s next? Put on the tv so you can hear what disasters are occurring in other people’s lives…Breathe ---Ahhhhhh!!!! I haven’t eaten since like 7 am!

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A Normal Day

Sometimes, I long for a normal day.

I no longer have normal days. 

I no longer have what most people would consider to be a normal day. 

Today, I woke up, and went to my 2x per week physical therapy appointment for my arthritis and bone spurs in my neck, resulting from hours and weeks and months and years of sitting and typing furiously, this book that I just published about my dead husband. 

Then I had a meeting with the Marketing person (and an old friend from childhood) at Groton Wellness Center, to finalize details for my very first Book-Signing Event, taking place at their venue, in my small hometown of Groton Mass, next Thursday. We discussed making snack platters in rainbow shapes to go along with the book's title, and whether or not I should read a "sad" passage from the book, or a "darkly humorous" one. 

Now, I'm back home, writing my blog post in the widow blog, and then I will be writing up emails and proposals for possible speaking engagements and more book-signings, where I will go and talk to people about death, love, grief, and loss. As these events are happening, I will feel good and purposeful and even hopeful and filled with joy. After they are over and I am back home , alone in  my room at night, the deep sadness will come and the trauma will return and the panic and anxiety that sudden death and traumatic events bring will emerge  - and I will isolate and maybe overeat and under-sleep and exist with a constant migraine that will travel down to my toes and up to my earlobes. And I will miss my husband deeply, even though I know he is no longer my husband and even though I now have a loving and wonderfully caring boyfriend in my life and even though I am madly in love with this boyfriend, and even though, even though, even though ...... 

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3 Year Non-Anniversary

Yesterday, July 25, is the third anniversary of our wedding without him. That’s three more anniversaries than I celebrated with him. We didn’t get to celebrate a single one. I try to imagine what we might be doing on our third anniversary but it’s hard to both predict and recall something that never once happened.

Would we be going out for dinner the two of us? Would we be cuddling on the couch with our dog Tango having a drink? Or would we be celebrating it as a new family with a baby? The truth is, I don’t know. I will never know. It never happened and it will never happen.

I feel he is so far away right now. Like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen him instead of two years. I feel like part of my memory of him is slipping away. I can remember him and what we did but I can’t feel it. It’s hard to recall what his hug feels like. When I imagine it, it sometimes feels feel like maybe I’m just making it up now. I don't like it. I feel guilty for even admitting that I feel like I’m forgetting the feeling. What kind of widow am I? I don’t want to forget.

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