Clutching On To Solo-Parenting

These last few days have been a mad rush. I accompanied my "now youngest" daughter Megan, who is 18, to start university in the middle of the UK. We live in France, so it’s a bit of a schlep, and since we take a flight, there’s a limit to what we can carry. Furnishing her student digs, then, becomes a race against time and my credit card’s flexibility. 

We had 1 ½ very full days together. The first was spent filling up trolley after trolley with duvet, duvet cover, pillows, cushions, sheets, towels, pots, pans, cutlery and crockery. And then another with food items ranging from bread, milk and butter to cumin, olive oil and sriracha sauce. To non-food items like toilet paper, washing up liquid and bin bags. Via some fresh produce of course. I have rarely done such big shops. Only when moving houses and countries. 

It was hard, effort-wise. Physical effort from the schlepping, and emotional effort from the semi-conscious countdown to the moment we’d have to part, when I would head to the airport and home. We don’t have plans to see one another till Christmas. 

I am not a very good parent for shopping drudgery. I have never much enjoyed it. Mike was better at it. Or he did it with a better smile on his face.

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Evanescence

Dear Mike,

 

It has been over 2.9 years since you died.

 

Since you died, I have diligently and carefully worked to keep you alive in my mind.

I have replayed our conversations thousands and thousands of times.

And, I have memorized our words by heart.

 

In my mind, I still talk to you every single day.

I know exactly what you’d say in our imaginary dialogues.

Except, I can not hear your voice.

 

Over and over again, I  have watched our life together play out in my imagination.

In my thoughts, you are still here.

You are still real.

Except, you’re not here anymore…

 

 

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Something New

Some of you who read here often might know that our Tuesday writer Mike and I are both widowed and in a relationship together. For the past few years, often times we are found to be writing about finding love again after being widowed and what it’s like to be in a new relationship as widowed people - both the good stuff and the hard stuff about it. 

This past week, Mike wrote a goodbye post of sorts, and also a hello post. In this post, he shared that, starting this next week, he will be stepping down from being the Tuesday writer to let someone new step in. 

Instead of leaving the blog though, Mike is joining me on Sundays now, where we will write together.

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Its About You

For a few years now, I have been writing in this blog each Friday.

I love doing it. 

But there are times when I feel almost selfish.

Times when I get bored with my own words and thoughts. 

I start thinking: 

"ENOUGH ALREADY about ME!!! Im tired of talking about me!!!" 

But that is how writing feels. 

When you are in the moment of writing,

it feels as if you could be connecting with lots of people,

OR,

you could just be talking to yourself,

yelling into a void of nothing. 

You have no way of knowing if anything you are saying 

will connect with someone. 

When you write it, 

you hope it will. 

But when you are done writing it,

you have to just let it go,

and not have any expectations,

and just know that what you wrote

was honest and truthful and from the heart. 

That is what I have tried to do here,

and will continue to do. 

However, 

there are times like today

where I am sick of hearing my own story.

I want to hear yours. 

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10 Months Ago

This week's post from Mari shares some raw memories of the moments she shared with her husband in the hospital just after his death.  If you are feeling vulnerable in your own grief experience today, please either proceed with caution or know that as an act of self-care it's OK to choose not to read today's post.  

It’s been 10 months since I saw you leave this world. It still doesn’t feel real that you are no longer here. Flashbacks of that horrible day haunt my mind every day. I try not to think of it, but those memories keep coming back. I remember that day when the hospital nurse kept calling me to go see you. I didn’t even want to answer the call, because I knew you were leaving me. I didn’t want this to be true. I remember driving to the hospital to go see you with our baby girl. I remember being in a state of shock and disbelief that this was even possible. That you were not going to make it. All I kept hearing on that drive was our daughter say “papa, papa”, as we were going to you. I remember stopping at a stoplight, and something felt different. I looked at the sky and feared the worst. As I parked at the hospital, I couldn’t bring myself in to go see you. I knew that if I went in there, there was no going back. With help, I was finally able to enter the hospital. As I walked into the area to enter your unit, I saw two individuals standing in front of me. They said, “He passed away at 9:05 am”. 

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Hello Goodbye

Since the spring of 2015, I have written here every Tuesday (well, “most” every Tuesday).  I’ve shared my story from just a few months after losing Megan, to now. Having four plus years of what can only amount to a public “journal” has been both surreal and incredibly healing.  

Oftentimes, it’s hard to recall just how “raw” I felt in that first year or so, or how confused I was about life.  Whether I was doing the right things, or raising Shelby correctly, or honoring Megan’s legacy. I certainly never imagined I’d be writing this post, years later.  

I felt that sharing my story here was a phase.  That after a year or so, I wouldn’t have anything to discuss any further, or that I would burn out and simply wish to go silent.  There have also been numerous times that I wanted to share about my new partner and current fiance, but second-guessed the subject, not wanting to feel as if I was unrelatable to the thousands of widows and widowers that either have no desire to be with another person, or have dipped their toes into the dating world, only to find that nobody even remotely compares to “their person”.

I write today to state that this “phase” is coming to an end of sorts.

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Coming back to Life

Grief evolves.  Thankfully.  And, my grief is no exception.  Over the last 2.9 years it has changed.  And, no, the changes are not always linear.  Grief moves you forward and backwards and sideways.  It takes you places you never expected to be.  And, there is no real end point. There is not a finish line to any of this. 

We can not shed our grief like I had hoped early on.  Instead, we must carefully and tenderly absorb it into our bones.  Grief is in the air you breath, in swirls around in your coffee, it is in the sunshine that warms your shoulders, and it lingers in your bathwater.  You can not escape grief; I now realize that this isn't possible.  And, it is not the goal.  It never was. 

Over time you learn to hold your grief and you can then allow it to fuse into your psyche.  And, with consistent practice you become more and more proficient at carrying it.  With grit and grace, you move forward the best way you know how.  There is not another choice.  There is no returning to the life you used to have.  So, eventually, we all begin to build a new life around the grief that lives inside us.  How we go about our rebuild is different for us all.  And, likewise, what we choose to recreate is ours to decide.  It is scary and overwhelming.  And, it is also somewhat exciting too. 

This is your life.  It is the beginning of whatever you want.  Recently, I  read that "the beginning is the end".  Read that twice.  It is profound.  This suggests that whatever we choose and take into our hearts as we set out, in the beginning, will determine the end.  

 

 

 

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Sandcastles of Safety

My whole life, I’ve played it safe and small because I grew up within a family that taught me to be practical and frugal and not take risks. I’m sure a lot of us grew up in that kind of family. They did their best, but the illusion of safety and security was always a pretty big focus. Even after my mom died and it became apparent that safety from pain really wasn’t a thing, we still went on trying to be safe from pain for the rest of my childhood. Needless to say, it didn’t set me up so well for all the rest of the pain I was going to experience in life.

When Drew died, a lot of the tactics my family taught me about trying to achieve safety fell apart. It was like watching a sandcastle that I had carefully constructed for years be hit by a tsunami while I was busy putting the last touches on it. All I could do was watch as his death smashed into all of my tediously laid out walls and smartly built turrets. Suddenly, it didn’t matter how skilled I was as building walls, or how cleverly or beautifully I put them together. It didn't matter how much time and effort I had put into it all. The entire thing dissolved and all I could do was watch as the sand slowly disintegrated between my fingers and left me standing there... empty handed. Exposed. In shock.

I will never forget that feeling. Or that moment, which for me, happened in one phone call. 

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The Weight of a Living Legacy

Shortly after losing Tin I was honored being asked to write in this space. I quickly felt the weight of grief ease as the words hit the paper. An amazing thing began to happen, others started to respond to my writing that they felt connected again and that lifted my grief a bit more. As I continued moving forward, I had started to use essential oils for support and the community surrounded me with support and asked me to share my story with others. No matter how many times I share my story it never gets easier, just different. However, I keep telling my story because each time I see my words create a space of safety for others even if it’s for just a moment where they don’t feel alone.

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The Stress of Being Stressed

This will not be a long post today.

I apoligize.

I think I just spelled that word wrong.

I apoligize for that too. 

Recently, I got my Real Estate license. 

Also recently, some very big things have happened that affect my life greatly. 

Things have changed and altered. 

The future I was looking toward, finally, 

now has a different view. 

Its not gone. 

Not exactly. 

But its altered. 

And it was sudden. 

And its a lot. 

And Im stressed. 

Really, really stressed. 

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