A Piercing Perspective

How many of us had dreamed of being super heroes when we were younger? Pulled between imagining magic powers and wishing we were older so we could do whatever we want and “oh how perfect life would be”. It’s true when they say to be careful what you wish for…

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Love, Food and Grief

Today has been a good day so far.  I love waking up and feeling passion for whatever is going to happen next in my life.  Like my daughter saying, “I have a Valentine’s Day card for Dada!  Here it is!”  As I help my daughter get ready for school, I take a deep breath and remind myself of one simple truth; getting Anisha ready and walking her to school in the sun and snow IS what life is all about!  I love that I truly appreciate simple things more, but I still miss so many things about Natasha, such as her food.

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Over the Edge. Maybe~

5 years and 9 months into this life without Chuck, I may have,

Possibly

Gone over the edge.

It's a matter of opinion, I suppose. 

Our world that is so critical and judgemental of how we grieve,

Those who tend to be uncomfortable with others who refuse to play the game of life their understood way...

Well, they might think I've gone over the edge.

Which is totally okay and cool with me.

People need to be shaken out of their complacency, in my way of thinking.

And I'm just the one to do it.

How, you ask?

Well...

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Mom's Pajamas

Megan spent a lot of time in her pajamas.  It kind of came with the territory, spending so much time in the hospital.  When she was home, she often wasn't nearly at 100%, so being in her pajamas was comfortable, warm, and easy.  If there was no need to been seen in public, she figured, why get all dressed up and ready? Pajamas made sense.

She was tiny.  Five feet, three inches, and at her absolute heaviest (after a double lung transplant and a lot of steroids) she was able to crack 110 pounds.  She spent more of the time in the sub-100 pound range. Still, she wore those same big baggy pajamas.

In the final year of her life, she struggled to keep 80 pounds on her frame.  Those pajamas fit her in a very specific way. The waistband was tight enough, but the flannel fabric draped off of her like curtains.  Her accompanying t-shirt seemed far, far too large, with the sleeves actually hanging down to her elbows.

When I eventually got around to clearing out some of her clothes after her death, I don’t know exactly why I kept some of her pajamas.  It may have been a small feeling of comfort in knowing that the things she wore so much weren’t just going away. Possibly, it felt a bit wasteful, knowing that they were so “broken in” that even a thrift store wouldn’t take them.

Mostly though, I imagine there was a lot of “oh, Shelby can wear these someday”

It’s now someday.

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I'm still your Girl

I have not felt your lips against mine for over two years.  It has been almost a thousand days since I have heard your voice outside of my memory.  And, it is starting like I knew it would.  I am starting to forget your voice.  I've tried to keep the sound of your voice clear in my mind by replaying our conversations again and again, but it just isn't the same.  My ears have not physically heard you in a really, really long time.  And, now, because of your absence, I can not remember the exactness of your voice.  However, I can still hear you say "Hey, Beautiful" in the tone you reserved for me.  I will remember the sound of your voice saying those two words forever.  But, aside from this, and a few other words and phrases,  I can't hear you for certain anymore.  I knew this would happen.  And, it is as awful as I thought it'd be.  

It has been well over one hundred weeks since I have touched you.  It's been far too long since your hands were on me.   And, too long since I looked into your kind blue eyes.  I haven't felt your gaze on me in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of days.  So many days that I have lost count.  For me, counting does not serve a purpose anymore.  Everyday, you are still dead.  You do not become more dead with time, and I know for certain that you are not going to come back to me once I reach a magic number - so I've just stopped counting.  In grief, counting is pointless.  It is not like in a game of hide and seek where counting serves a purpose.  I can count and then shout "ready or not here I come".  But, you aren't ready and I am not coming to where you are - yet.  Counting just pronounces your absence and makes me feel further from you and the life we shared together.  

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Finding Power when Powerless

“Sometimes
the most important part
of the journey
is just deciding to go.”

 

I read this quote the other day in a book and I liked it. I tend to spend too much time overthinking things and not enough time just doing them. So this was refreshing to read. But it also got me thinking about widowhood, and decisions. And how much of the difficulty about loss in general is the lack of control we have. The fact that there are usually so many decisions that we either did not get to make, or never wanted to have to make. It really has a whole lot of different meanings depending on where you’re coming from.

Most of all, though, this quote makes me think back to on the different journeys that I am glad I did decide to go on. Of how glad I am I decided to date that cocky, goofy pilot. Even though I knew his work was dangerous and he could someday die doing it - which of course he did. Even though I’d been in an abusive relationship before him, and I was scared to get close to anyone again. Even though it all felt terribly scary, and I tried to run away from it, eventually I just decided to go on that journey with him. And once I decided, everything else was the most incredible ride. He changed my whole view of men, and of love, and of myself in the best of ways. And even though he did die, the changes he made in my life did not. That decision changed who I was forever - so he has never left me.

I am glad I decided to leave the city we lived in together, and leave my career, and leave all my friends behind. Even though that was hard too… I just knew, after he was gone, I couldn’t be there without him. I knew I had to decide to just go. And take some new chances. And yet again, once I made the decision, things fell into place to help it happen. His family supported me through it all, and I made new friendships and grew as a person in ways I never would have had I not decided to go.

And then I met Mike, 4 years ago this week actually. I knew within that very first meeting that if I decided to keep knowing this man, he was going to change my entire life all over again - just like Drew had. It was scary for sure, because I didn’t really feel ready for so much change. But I decided to go, and things unfolded. And here we are four years later… miraculously carving out a new life in the aftermath of losing both our partners. On a journey of firsts together, trying to figure out what it means to be in love again and also love the ones we’ve lost. And deciding each day what that means for us, and what we want to create this new love to be.

All of the best parts of my life have always been the results of those moments I decided to just go. And sure, they have also led to an unfathomable amount of pain sometimes… but isn’t that life? We aren’t owed easy. We aren’t owed a perfectly happy, painless life. We aren’t owed anything at all really. I realize that’s not everyone’s favorite thing to hear, but it’s true. It's not the whole story though...

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A Hallmark Heartbreak Kind of Holiday

My birthday was hard. Thanksgiving was hard. Christmas and New Years were both hard. Yet it is the “Hallmark Holiday” that seems to burn more than build the wave of sadness.

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A Life Unfinished ...

It hangs in mid-air,

swaying through the trees,

like an echo,

sometimes,

and other times,

like a scream. 

That life unfinished, 

the one we didn't get to have,

because you died. 

It lingers there, 

in the breeze,

like a hundred-thousand question marks,

and never any answer. 

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Trying to Start Over

 

     My wife and I have always enjoyed mixing our favourite coping mechanism, comedy, with accomplishing important tasks.  Sometimes, the best remedy for the worst life stresses is proactive humour.  Natasha came up with the term “cancer card” as a way to deal with life’s day to day challenges.  We would often jokingly ask each other a question, “Is this a cancer card moment?” For example, we are waiting for a table for brunch and Natasha tells me that we are third on the waitlist for a table.  I turn to her and say, “This is a good time to play the cancer card.”    I approach the hostess and say, “Excuse me, my wife is literally fighting cancer right now, so, if there is any way that we could get a table faster, that would be great.”  Usually, the cancer card works because the restaurant staff and the other customers are very accommodating—especially if I had told Natasha to exaggerate her fatigue while I get her a chair to sit on.  Contrary to popular opinion, some cancer patients are not super thin and emaciated.  As in Natasha’s case, the medications used to manage the side effects of chemo can make you gain a lot of weight.  As a result, she didn’t always look like a cancer patient to everyone, which is why exaggerating symptoms was sometimes necessary.  In the past, when my self-esteem was low, I would have felt pushy, inconsiderate and manipulative using my wife’s cancer to get special treatment.  Now, I know whatever I can do to make life easier for my family, I should definitely do.  I know this might sound strange, but my wife’s cancer has actually had a positive impact on me: I am much more confident.  In the past, I would have spent too much time worrying about pleasing strangers in a restaurant at my own expense—no more!  One of the most important things I have learned is that we all have to do what we think is best for OUR family because if we don’t, no one else will.  Besides, the chances of anyone else in line for a table is battling post-partum depression, cancer AND has a new born baby is highly doubtful. 

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Sunshine and Roses. Not~

I'm 5 years and 9 months into life without Chuck.

I don't think I'm supposed to call it that.

Life without Chuck, I mean.

I think I'm supposed to structure it, this life after him, in a more positive manner, according to society at large.

Whatevs.

The one thing I've done really well since Chuck died is be real about this widowed life shit.

And it ain't sunshine and roses, no matter how I try to dress it up.

Which I don't try to do, honestly, because I don't have it in me to be fake about it, or plant that pretend smile on my face.

I refuse to show it as anything other than what it is.

A shit show.

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