You Need to Move On

I was recently told that I need to move on from my husband’s death. As I heard that statement, I thought to myself, what a bold thing to say, especially coming from someone who has never experienced losing the love of their life. Grief is unique to everyone, and NO ONE can tell you how to grieve and what to do. Losing a brother, a son, or even a friend is different than losing your soulmate and the love of your life. Death is different for everyone, and the relationships are different. I am not saying that one loss is greater than the other; they are just different.

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The Sacred Now~

I went to Chuck, a few days before he died, to have a semi final conversation with him.

I hoped that we'd have more conversation, but the cancer was taking over and I knew he didn't have much longer on this earth.

Even writing those words shreds my heart, as if I'm in those last days again.

Fucking cancer.

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Brussels Sprouts and Roller Coasters

Just yesterday, Sarah and I surprised Shelby (and my nephew) with a trip to Cedar Point, one of the premier amusement parks in the world, just two hours from our home here in Ohio.  Shelby has been asking to go back for years now, having only been once, when she was around 5 years old, with Megan and I.

She was far too young to ride anything more than the “kiddie” coasters, carousels, and the flat rides back then.  Even then, she was terrified of any ride that was taller than ten feet or so. Cedar point has 18 different roller coasters...over half of which are over 100 feet tall, with one even reaching 400+ feet.

She has always been an incredibly cautious kid.  She visibly displays anxiety when anything she is asked to do presents any uncertainty.  Learning to ride her bike took years, because she was terrified of removing the training wheels, not because she couldn’t do it.  Slowly dipping her feet into the pool, and slipping herself into 2 feet of water was her modus operandi for a decade before finally learning to really swim (and of course, loving it) this past year.  Even getting her to try a new food was presented with a stubborn resistance and feigned gags while holding her nose, even before said brussel sprout was placed in front of her.

This has been frustrating for me, because I’ve never been able to put a finger on WHY she seemingly feels fragile or lacks confidence.

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The Thief of Joy

Recently, I drove the familiar road to Mike’s house.  I have completed this drive hundreds of times since he died; but, this time it hurt my heart - a lot. Maybe it is because on August 20th we should be celebrating our second wedding anniversary together.  But, we won't be doing this.  Mike died.  There is no wedding anniversary for us.  There is nothing for us to share anymore.  Everything we experienced and everything we were is in the past. 


Physically, Mike is gone.  And, when you love someone who is dead you are left with a profound emptiness and aching that underlies everything in your life.


I know the road to Mike's house like the back of my hand.  I can drive it without thinking.  On this stretch of highway, my mind often drifts off to a better place in time.  I carefully recall our life and I bring him back to life in my mind.  So many memories of our life together replay in my mind as I drive past the relics of our past.  And, as the missingness sets in, I find myself grabbing my collarbone.  This is a thing I do when my grief is swallowing me alive.  I wonder if this will ever end; and as I type this, I know the answer.  It won’t. 



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Nightmares Now and Then

I’ve had some really weird and disturbing dreams the past week. The sort of dreams that don’t really relate to anything in my actual life but have lots of very stressful or strange things going on in them. In these dreams, nothing appears to relate to my actual life in any particular way. Nothing symbolic even seems to be obviously about my life. 

They might not be welcome, and the past few nights I’ve caught myself feeling a tinge or dread when going to bed because I don’t want to have more disturbing dreams. Still though, it makes me think back and be grateful that these nightmares are just that - nightmares and not real. It makes me think back to the year Drew died, and how many nights I had bad dreams about how he died. In the dreams, he was either angry with me and leaving me, or had found someone else and was leaving. Not a single time did one of these dreams show the true reason he was gone - that he had died suddenly in a helicopter crash. Helicopters were never in a single one of these dreams in fact. It seemed as though my mind was trying to make sense of what had happened to him in the trauma of it all. So it would create these false stories that he had left, or that he was far away and not coming back for one reason or another - none of them ever death. 

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A Reset of the Mindset

So the feelings are the same, just as intense but not as often and demanding. I miss Clayton every day but the immediate sting when the thoughts rush forward is milder with time. My eyes still water each day but there are more days of laughter than tears. The dust has settled and now I’m feeling unsettled. A year ago I feared I would have to move out of the apartment that Tin and I shared. People don’t realize that when you become a widow most often times your finances flip. Your household income drops but all the same responsibilities are there. We, the widowed, are billed for our loss. As if life isn’t taxing already.

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I was talking with another widow the other day, and she told me that lately when she looks at the pictures on her wall of her and her late husband, it feels like it was someone else in those pictures. It feels like some other life, or another lifetime ago. She said she used to feel really sad when looking at the pictures, but now its more of an emptiness, and a big void. She stares at the picture, as if trying to feel something, but it just feels like nothing. And then THAT makes her sad. 

"I know that feeling," I empathized. "It's like you feel removed from that life. Like it wasnt you who was in it, or it's somehow been detached from you." 

"YES!!!! Exactly! Removed!!!", she said in loud agreement. "Why do we feel removed from our own lives?", she wondered. "That sucks!" 

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Hard Day

Today was a hard day. It was filled with anger, sadness, desperation, and tears. I am angry at the fact that my husband is no longer here. I am mad that my daughter doesn’t get to grow up with her father, and that my husband doesn’t get to experience his daughter grow up. I am mad and disappointed at everything and everyone that was involved with this accident. I have the right to be angry. I wake up next to an empty space, instead of my husband’s embrace. I see my daughter give nosy kisses and try to feed chips to a picture of her father because he is not in the flesh. As a woman, my heart is broken. And as a mother, my broken heart aches with agony as I feel for my daughter. I feel a sense of desperation that I can’t bring my husband back and give her his arms, his love, his kisses, his all. It’s such a debilitating feeling. A debilitating feeling that those who lose the love of their life genuinely know. 

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Whispers of you echo through my years.

Echoes now, even more than memories.

The passing of Time has dulled the pain,

But it has also sullied my memory.

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Though Shelby started middle school last year, entering the 6th grade, the jump into 7th is more significant to me.  In my own schooling, the seventh grade is when I was no longer an “elementary” student. I moved on to a new school, new friends, changing classrooms, more advanced subjects, and so on.

Shelby is doing the same this year.  Not only that, she will be turning thirteen soon...officially a “teenager”.  She’s already formed her own tastes in music, books, activities, foods, and hobbies.  She’s gone through a change in “best friends” in the past year. She’s become more independent, responsible, opinionated, and dare I say, outgoing.  Recently, she started her….well, you know.

All without Megan.

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