The Song in Your Heart

Sometimes a song is a gentle reminder an sometimes a song is a stick of dynamite…

I woke up feeling more relaxed than usual today. I went to the gym before work and felt centered and ready for the workday. I have a 5 minute drive to work which usually happens in a blink of an eye until Adele comes over the radio. Tin absolutely loved Adele. She was his girl! Anytime Adele came on the radio the volume went to max and he belted out whatever he thought the lyrics were. I have heard her song since his passing. They bring me some sadness and other memories. Today felt different. My heart sunk as she began to sing and I began to break down.  My right arm was on the arm rest and I felt someone hold my hand and squeeze. The feeling passed when I looked down at my hand but I didn’t feel alone in the car. Tears came full force and I had to change the station – Work was 3 minutes away and I couldn’t show up as the manager for the day with red eyes and a broken heart on my sleeve.

I pushed through the day staying busy and keeping a river of notes from bubbling up and forming more emotion evoking harmonies. I was efficient and effective for my day job and immediately went to a vendor event next for my second job. We drank wine and socialized. They began to play music and the first song out wasn’t Adele, It was “Sugar Pie Honeybunch” - My late father’s song for my sister. I had let my guard down and the notes pulled another chord of my heart. Fast paced questions about products generated immediate distraction and I sailed through the stormy song without alerting to anyone I was in possible emotional peril. The coast had cleared and a neighbor stopped by to ask how I was doing since Tin had passed. More chords struck and I couldn’t hide looking at the floor and putting my hands in my pockets. I jumped onto another topic but the choir of “I’m sorry for your loss” echoed again and again in the background.

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All it took was one text. 
One little text for my heart to do flipflops, 
and to feel nauseous. 
Anxiety, panic, and fear set in. 
All the voices from grief's terror chamber,

Earlier this morning ... 
"Hey Baby. I need your SS# so I can make you
my Emergency Contact, and make you the beneficiery
for life insurance, etc." 

My boyfriend of 15 months, my love, 
just started a new, full time job. 
I was going about my day, and he sent me that text. 
All the emotions flooded out. 
Every chaotic and paranoid thought
spun around inside me. 
The grief triggers came. 

Seven years later,
they still come. 
They come in unexpected places,
in unexpected ways. 
But they come. 

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Our Wedding Song Playing

Our wedding song playing.

Someone else playing our wedding song as part of their shared memory of a completely different circumstance.

My boyfriend’s family’s memory of our wedding song as part of their memory of his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary.

Sitting in my boyfriend’s parents’ living room with his whole family watching his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary video play to our wedding song.

Jolted from the present moment. Torn from my daydream of what a possible future might hold for me now. Back to the past.

All consuming emotions. Hard memories of a life that never was. Missing Mike. Missing sharing our memory together. Alone.

Paralyzed in frozen silence. Hoping no one notices. Wishing to disappear. Hard swallow. Dark room. Silent tear.


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The Never Ending Story

Is loneliness the never-ending story of widowhood?

Does it end if we find another chance at Love?

Does the loneliness exist, even then

Because the loneliness is specific to that person, your person, who died?

Is there ever a moment again

When a widow’s heart feels that lightness of being,

Once felt?

Or is the heaviness, the ache, the sadness of that particular loneliness

A lifetime sentence in the so called new normal?

Because, no matter what I do, where I go, how I push, how I involve myself in life, in relationships with family and friends, no matter how much I join in, engage, power on,

That loneliness doesn’t leave my heart, my soul, or my body.

Counseling and therapy for anxiety and trauma…EMDR, bi-lateral brain stimulation, talk, tapping, retreats, meditation, new environments, connections with others…I’ve done it all, and I continue doing it all…

And…the loneliness that only intensifies as the years pass by.

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Drafted into Challenge

20 years ago, I woke up to a screaming drill instructor, chaos, mind games, and effectively running everywhere I went.  I lived in a green uniform, seeing no other colors but black, green, and brown for months. I swam in 10 foot deep water with 120 pounds of gear, went 3 days and 48 miles of marching on 4 hours of total sleep (and one meal).  I didn’t speak with my family for 13 weeks, other than the occasional letter. I ran until I died, and then ran some more. Rifle marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, history, military legal codes, uniform standard, rappelling, gas chambers, and a multitude of other subjects were drilled into my head, non-stop, and if I should not be sufficient in any given one, I would be held back and given another week on that godforsaken island in South Carolina.  

Marine Corps recruit training (boot camp) was the hardest thing I had ever done, and for a long time, I thought it would be the hardest thing I would ever do.

If it was, I wouldn’t be writing to you today.

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A Life Unfinished

It's Sunday morning...

I should hear you happily humming as you walk down the stairs to start the coffee.

As I lay in our bed, I should notice the familiar sound of the beans grinding. 

Soon, the smell of coffee should be thick in the air. 

There should be music playing in the kitchen.

And, any moment now, my phone should ding and the screen should light up with

- your name.

Right now, you should be sending me my "Good Morning Beautiful" text message.

The familiar, heartfelt message you lovingly sent to me everyday

- whether you were on your way to work, or at home, in our kitchen.

You should be making coffee and texting me on this ordinary Sunday.

But, you're not here...




The only day you missed texting me  "Good Morning Beautiful" was

November 15, 2016.

I knew something was wrong, and I was right.

And, nothing, not one thing, has really felt right since.




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Half the Road of the First Year - Just Let It Flow

Tomorrow marks 6 months since Tin has passed. How am I already here? How does time move so slowly and so quickly at the same time? Honestly it is Life’s biggest blessing and curse. As I look back at these 6 months, I see a new road behind me that I have paved on my own. Of course there have been others to help me through the thick brush but I had to be the one to cut through the weeds. Every once in awhile I see something amazing and I catch myself talking to Tin. Sometimes it feels good and sometimes it causes an upset. Either way I never expected to be where I am today only 6 months after my greatest loss.

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Is Don proud of me?
People always tell me that Don would be proud of me.
Its a nice thought.
I hope its true. 
I really, truly hope that its true. 
But how can I know?
I want proof. 
I want evidence
that he is proud. 
Concrete evidence. 
Or when I say,
That I wish he knew about such and such,
that just happened in my life,
and someone always responds with:
"He does know. He knows." 
Well how the hell do you know
that he knows?
You dont know. 
Again, its a lovely thought,
and I hope its true,
but ....
Show me the proof. 
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The End of Motorcycle Season!

If you’ve read my post from my personal blog from last year around this time you would know that I don’t like Fall. It’s my least favourite season. There is however a very redeeming quality for me at this time of year: the end of motorcycle season in Canada!

I don’t know if I’ve ever fully mentioned it (it’s not what I want to focus on) but Mike died in a motorcycle accident. Since then, motorcycles have been extremely triggering for me.

When he first died I literally had to pull over and off the road when a motorcycle was driving anywhere near me. I could not handle it. They made me so anxious and upset. I would wait for them to pass, collect myself and get back on the road.  I seemed to have passed those emotions onto my dog and he would try to hide in the car when he heard a motorcycle. The two of us were a bit of a disaster. Mike died in the Spring so I had the Spring, Summer, and start of the Fall with those things whipping around and making all their terrible loud sounds near me. Let’s just say that it took me a long time to get anywhere that year.

I have moved slightly forward through a lot of those feelings. I no longer have to pull over when a motorcycle drives near me. I so still absolutely hate them driving near me and I try to avoid them. I will slow down or switch lanes to try to get it away from me. I can function driving around them but it still makes me anxious, brings up memories or makes me feel all sorts of feelings. There’s still never a single motorcycle that passes through my eyesight that doesn’t make me think of Mike and his accident.

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September and Remembering

My body felt September 11 approaching, even before my mind became aware of it.

This morning, September 11, I woke up and could feel the nerves edging along my skin. The feeling only intensified as I watched snippets of remembrances on TV.

Why, you might ask, would I put myself through watching something more when my heart was already hurting?

To bear witness, quite simply. It’s my tribute to those who died on that day, 17 years ago. If they could bear to go through what they went through, I can bear to watch it and honor them.

This day of remembrance is a day that hits so hard, personally. Nobody I know died that day, but Chuck and I were living in south Jersey, just a little over an hour away from NYC. He was working at McGuire AFB and, as I watched the news, it seemed as if the base might be another target. Nobody was allowed on or off the base and no phone calls, so I couldn’t reach him.

He finally walked in the door around midnight.

My sense of safety in the world, since Chuck died, is gone.

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