The month of May looms large in my heart and soul, as I remember back to that May day in 2009 when Chuck and I began our Happily Homeless travels, after selling our house and belongings, and our last 4 years together as we adventured around the country…remembering that April night in 2013 when our adventures ended as he took his last breath and I placed his cremains and his flag on the shotgun seat next to me, and...wow... remembering this month, in 2013, as I began my Odyssey of Love for him, creating, at the same time, a community of Love and support for myself around the country.
It inspired me to make a list of what was, what became, what is, sacred and holy to me.
Indulge me, if you will, and, maybe, be inspired to make your own list.
Memories of dancing with him over the years...in the kitchen, in our backyard, at social occasions...dancing as a way of being further connected. His arm around my waist, my hand in his. Holy.
The twinkle in his green eyes as his gaze caught mine across a crowded room. Followed by a slow wink. It was as powerful to me as his touch. Holy.
The confidence he always showed in me that brought me to an awareness of my own strength, my own determination, my own gutsiness. It has stood me in good stead as I weave my way into this damned new life without him. Holy.
That moment as we lay in bed together, when he put his hand on my stomach, which I, of course, immediately removed because I didn’t like my stomach and he asked why I did that and I told him and his response was to place his hand ever so gently back on my stomach and tell me how he loved each and every part of me. That memory strengthens my resolve to make my body strong again, even in grief. Holy.Read more
Yesterday was memorial day in the United States. Every year, on the last Monday in May, we Americans fire up the grill, go to parades, ignite fireworks, buy red-white-and-blue everything, and celebrate the unofficial start of summer. We hang our flags, complain about the heat, and have a drink or four to commemorate the day off from work.
Meanwhile, like many holidays in the United States, we forget the actual meaning and purpose of the holiday. Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”, and no, it didn’t signify decorating our McMansions with red white and blue windsocks and ensuring our patio furniture had just the right feng shui to go with our new $700 grill that we got at a Memorial Day blowout sale. It was originally intended as a somber event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. One would visit a cemetery to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. It morphed into including all men and women of any war after World War I.
History lessons aside, it’s a tough day for many widows, but for the majority of Americans, it’s a day off.Read more
On May 25, 2016, he asked me to marry him.
Then, he died before our wedding day.
I have sat here re-reading those two sentences again and again and again. I just can't seem to process the words the letters are forming. My mind can not make sense of what I am reading. My heart can not accept the words on the page. I do not know if this will ever feel anything but surreal.
Never in a million years did I think this would be the story of my life. It is fair to say Mike and I were just getting to the good part in our love story. We were leading up to the chapter where we were going to live happily ever after. There was no way for us to predict that our story was going to come to a tragic end. Looking back, there wasn't any foreshadowing. Everything was coming up roses for us. Our life together was magical. And, even as I was living it, I remember stopping myself - in the middle an ordinary moment - because I could not believe how beautifully everything was falling into place. Maybe it really was too good to be true.
Life was good.
Our life together was better than anything we dreamed of.
And, that's an understatement.
Then, one night Mike went to sleep and the next morning he never woke up.
And, just like that,
Our story was over.
There were no goodbyes.
And, there will not be happily ever after for us.
At least not here...
It's been 2 years and 3 days since he proposed to me on a warm night in Mexico. I can feel everything about that moment when Mike asked me to be his wife. It feels like just last night; and, it also feels like a lifetime ago too.
A significant amount of time has passed since his proposal; and, I am still not sure what to do with all our hopes and dreams that never came to be. I struggle to live in the moment because I am continuously daydreaming about a fictional life that we never got to live. I constantly wish we were living together under one roof as husband and wife. It's fair to say that I spend a lot of time wishing for things that are no longer possible. And, all this wishful thinking detracts me from living the life before me now.
We were so excited about spending the rest of our lives together- as a family - and I still want to live this life we were planning. I know how irrational this is, and sometimes I feel like I'm crazy for still fantasizing about this pretend life. Although my mind understands that he is gone from this dimension, my heart yearns for him to come back so that we can live happily ever after like he promised me we would.
In truth, I still very much want to be his wife. And, I think a part of me always will. And, this complicates things for me because it is very difficult to fully participate in life when you want to be a dead man's wife. Because of my illogical desires I am forced to exist in limbo. I feel like I live here, and also in a parallel Universe. And, it is exhausting living like this.
The reality is, Mike did spend the rest of his life with me.
So, why isn't this enough.
Why can't I just be happy with this and be content to live a future different than the one I imagined...
This year is the 10 year anniversary of Soaring Spirits International.
This Sunday is the official anniversary day of when Michele founded the non-profit.
July 13th weekend, I will be presenting once again, at Camp Widow San Diego.
July 13th will be the 7 year anniversary of my husband Don's sudden death.
July 13th, my book about his death and our life together and my life in the aftermath, will be officially released and available at the Camp Widow bookstore (hopefully.)
September 30th I am having my Book Launch Party in NYC, something I have wanted to do since this whole thing began. September 26th, I will be 47 years old, and no longer the same age of 46 that my husband was, when he left for work one morning and never came home.
We are in final editing this week, and the pressure is on. It is very important to me that this book be ready for Camp Widow, and that everything goes well in trying to upload it, add pictures, choose page sizes, shipping issues, money issues, on and on and on. I am not sleeping well, my stomach is in knots, and my skin is out of control with the dryness and blotchy patches and rashes that I always get on my arms, legs, and other weird places, when I’m stressed.Read more
I once heard a phrase that if all the world’s problems were in a bag you would be trying to pick back your own. At the time I thought well of course, my problems are miniscule. Now I think that clearly wasn’t written by a young widow. I know there are still worse problems than mine; people who deal with major issues on top of being widowed and not to mention people living in third world countries. However, if I was offered a bag of possible problems mine would certainly not be at the top of the list of problems I would want.
I know it’s not particularly helpful to myself but today I’m feeling envious of other people. I’m envious of the people who got to be married to their person for their life. I’m envious of the people who got to celebrate their first or even second wedding anniversary. I’m envious of people who got to get married and have a baby, not a funeral, a year or two later. People that get to live seemingly “normal” lives with their spouses and families.
And I’m mad. I’m mad that I was able to plan a life with Mike that I never got to live. I’m mad that happiness does not just come naturally to me anymore. It’s something I have to be conscious of and work for so I don’t slip back into my dark hole. I’m mad that I can’t just relax into happiness. That I know that I need to do certain things consistently, like exercise and get outside, even when I’m busy or want to do other things so that I can keep myself in balance.Read more
Our world is unforgiving of those who grieve,
Those who mourn.
We get a bit of time initially, of course.
But, too soon, we hear through words unspoken and spoken,
Through actions of those we know, or don’t know…
That we must be different than we are.
Be this or that,
Something other than what our heart and soul is telling us to allow.
What we must allow, now.Read more
After one year, six months, and six days,
Almost every thought still begins with you.
I am unable to live completely in the moment,
And, I struggle to be present,
In my mind,
I am endlessly travelling to a better place in time,
Again and again.
I return to this place,
Where you existed once upon a time.
Time. It goes on...
When his heart stopped, the hands of time were unaffected. I thought I felt time stand still when I saw his lifeless body; but, time itself callously marched on when he died. Time did not stop. Not even for a moment - in spite of my circumstance. The world just carried on without Mike. But, my world was left in ruin when the life I knew ended. However, from the wreckage, something bigger than me, dragged me out from the rubble created by my shattered Soul. I was rescued because my heart is still beating. My life didn't end when Mike's did. Life is for the living; and, now, I'm left to figure out how to do just that...
Almost immediately after his death, life demanded things of me. On a surface level, I was forced to participate in life because children need raising. Work needs to be completed. Bills need to be paid. Dishes need doing. Laundry needs folding. Lawns need mowing. Things need to be said. I need to show up. There are people to meet and obligations to attend to. Life has not stopped because Mike no longer exists here in this dimension. Time has gone on and I've carried along with it.
Life demands participation - even after your person dies. Life is unavoidable. And, in truth, this is a good thing. At this point, there is no part of me that intentionally wishes to escape living. I think this is why my heart feels so heavy. I want to breathe life in again. I absolutely want to feel alive again; but, re-entering life is much more difficult than I imagined it would be.
This past week, I had a pretty crazy dream. It’s the first time of this sort that I have ever had. As many of you know, our Tuesday writer, Mike, is my boyfriend. He lost his wife, Megan, in 2014 to Cystic Fibrosis and I lost my fiance, Drew, in 2012 in a crash. We’ve been dating now a few years, and still nothing like this dream has showed up before.
And then came Mother’s Day last week… and the post I wrote about Mike and Megan’s daughter, whom I am now caring for as my own. You can read that post here, but essentially it boiled down to my deep appreciation for this little person being in my life now and all that she has changed for the better.
So that night, the end of Mother's Day, I had a dream... about Megan...
It was not just any dream. It was one of *those* dreams… and you all know the ones I mean. The dreams that some of us call “visits” because of how realistic they feel. In this dream, Megan was in a hospital bed and Mike and I were on either side of her. He was not a major part of the dream, except to introduce me to Megan at the beginning. He told her that I was the new person in his life. That I was the one chosen to be here, after her. And then, there was this completely real, completely tangible moment of us looking eye to eye at one another. Silence. Hearts beating, a little tensely. Guardedness. Neither yet saying words… she was taking me in. She was taking in this moment of her life that she knew would always come.
And just as if it had been real, you could feel the presence of protectiveness in her. The seriousness of the situation in her. And she then looked forward a moment, took a breath, and began to tell me in a very matter of fact way what was important to her for me to take care of after she’s gone...Read more
This morning, my cousin posted an image on Facebook of a hilarious guitar magazine parody called "Mediocre Guitar." My husband Don loved music, especially guitars. He owned 7 or 8 of them at all times, and was always hanging out online at guitar websites and message boards, and giving free lessons to his fellow online guitar-enthusiast friends, on his YouTube channel. He would play guitar in our apartment almost daily, especially as a form of de-stressing after a long and stressful day doing EMS work. I am a singer, and we used to play and sing together all the time, learning Beatles and Natalie Merchant and Fleetwood Mac songs. He would strum his guitar and I would sing, and the way he would look at me while I gently sang a new song he was learning the chords to - it was the very definition of love and music.
We met in a music chat room online. We always connected through music. So when my cousin put up that post today, I began typing my husband's name into the comment section of the post, because I wanted to "tag" him on the post so he could see how hilarious it was. I was halfway through typing his name into the comments, when it suddenly hit me - he is dead. He is still dead. He will always be dead. It will be 7 years this July, and yet, there are still those moments where a part of me forgets - just for a moment.
That moment of forgetting - that 2 or 3 or 17 seconds - it is total elation.
My eyes lit up at the mere thought of sharing this bit of humor with him.Read more
Sunday will be 2 years since Mike died. I keep thinking that I am getting it wrong. It can’t possibly be 2 years already. I feel like I just saw him. But then I feel like I haven’t seen him in an eternity. The whole while I still can’t believe I’ll never see him again. I see his picture and I think, “how can I never see him again; that doesn’t make sense; that can’t be right.” It feels surreal. Yet, May 20 marks 2 years since he died.
What to do on the 2 year mark has been on my mind a lot. I don’t really want to make a day of anything or do anything special at all. I just want it to be a regular day that I go about my life and try to do things that make me happy, as I usually do. Maybe go to the gym, go for a hike or a bike ride. I might do something extra nice for myself but that’s about it. That’s what I’d like to do. I know that may come across in a variety of ways. Maybe it seems that I’m insensitive, in denial, like I don’t care, or even that I’ve “moved on.” That’s the reason why I keep contemplating what to do on the 2 year mark - I don’t want to seem like I’m cold or “over it”. That’s not it at all.
To me, it’s another day without Mike. It is my regular. I miss him everyday. As one of my good widow friends says, “he’s not anymore gone on that day.” It’s a day I think about him and miss him but so was the day before and so will be the day after. Maybe if I didn’t think about him all the time it would make sense to me to set aside a day to think about him or even a day to think about the day he died. But that’s not the way my grief works. My mind will involuntarily retrieve every little detail of May 20, 2016 and the emotions that go with it as if it was happening right then whenever it feels like it. I feel like I am there again. I can feel my gasps for air and my heart beating throughout my whole body. I can feel my weakness as I lay on the floor. I remember the phone calls. The morgue. I can see people’s faces and hear their voices. Everything. It’s imprinted in my mind. It is horrible torture. I can’t remember anything else in my life in so much precise detail as I can that day. So why would I set aside time to do that to myself? It’ll still be there to ruin me for another day.Read more