I’ve felt abnormal my whole life. Ever since I became aware of how my own childhood with a single father who was an alcoholic was far different from the seemingly idyllic 2 parent households of all the other kids at my private school. I’ve never fit in. I’ve never felt like I fit in. Largely, because of death and grief.
When my mom died, I became consumed by death. I thought about people dying all the time. I obsessed over my dad dying and not knowing what would happen to me then. I was nine. No one talked about it, we just pretended it didn’t happen and tried to keep going. That’s how things were done back then.
That feeling of not being normal was further enforced in my teen years. Without a mom, I didn’t know how to be like other girls. I had no one teaching me how to do makeup or shave my legs or to talk to about boys. I just had to learn a lot of things on my own… and often painfully and embarrassingly failed at it. Those were the years my dad started drinking again too. So while other kids were busy being worried about tests at school or winning the big game or how their hair looked that day, I was walking beside them to class wondering if my dad would be too drunk to pick me up from school. Or if he would die in a car wreck because he was drinking and then I’d be totally alone and what the hell would happen then?
The only place I didn’t feel all those things, was when I was making art or spending time with the few close friends I did have. It was the only time I didn’t have to live in that reality. When I was making art especially… I could create a whole other world for myself that had nothing to do with my reality.
It’s ironic as I sit here now, looking back at those difficult early years. At my relationship to death and how it has changed over time. Death has altered my life so drastically since such a young age. For so long, I was alone with death. I never met other kids who had lost a parent. Literally, not a single kid I knew growing up had also lost a parent. I think that’s what made it worse. Even though I have siblings they were all grown and out of the house… so I just felt very alone with death.
Then, I lost my fiance in 2012 suddenly, and death showed up again to alter my entire world. This time though, death did something a little bit different. I still felt very alone in the world of my pain and my grief. We all do in some way. But now, I was an adult, and I could make my own choices about death. There were certain things I learned that I can control. And one of those turned out to be community.Read more
So this blog is a bit different than I usually write. This week I’ve been obsessed with terminology. Have you ever stopped for a minute and thought about words? Where did they come from? How they got their meaning and if they fit? Well it hit me this week that I HATE the terms widow and widower. I think the definitions are ridiculous and need to be changed. Let’s look them over, shall we?Read more
Seems like being a widower means adjusting my view of the world to an existence of being damaged, marred and/or scarred for the rest of my life. Life is now about managing the constant reminders of love lost. Maybe, just like my poor eyesight, my grief is becoming a deficit that I will have to carry forward as I am constantly reminded of the song, Motherless Children by Blind Willie Johnson and covered by Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and many others.Read more
Yesterday something happened at a doctors office that sent me straight back into 23 years ago,
when I just barely lived through a traumatic event,
and joined the ranks in becoming the 2-words that I would grow to absolutely loathe
,and feel shame about for a very long time:
After awhile, I began shifting from using the term "victim", and replacing it with "survivor,"
but this change in vocabulary did not do anything for my lifelong trauma and PTSD and massive bouts of anxiety and panic.
Calling myself a survivor instead of a victim was supposed to make me feel more powerful somehow.
But trauma has all the power, and when it wants to take you down a few notches, it makes itself known.
Trauma is a funny thing.
Well, not "ha-ha funny", but more peculiar funny, I suppose.
Trauma and PTSD lie dormant, and then come back.
They sit still for hours or days or months even, and then something happens to bring them out again,
roaring and screaming and pleading to be heard.Read more
I spent Mother's Day with our youngest son and his wife and 2 year old son.
They were loving and lovely and welcoming and it was a totally enjoyable time.
Even as it was heart ripping and filled with emotion because, you know...dead husband.Read more
A month from today, Sarah, Shelby, and I will be hitting the road for Texas. It is time for our annual “Drewfest” weekend, where Drew’s closest friends gather to remember him, celebrate him, and in general, have a fun time like the “good old days”.
Personally, this will be my fifth Drewfest. I’ve been part of them since 2015, a few months after meeting Sarah, and less than a year after Megan’s death. I wrote about the first one in a letter to Drew, right here, for Soaring Spirits, and coming up on this one, there are still many times when I feel like an “Outsider”.Read more
I often say aloud, "Where are you?" I hold my hands out in front of me and hope to sense him in the air. I miss his physical presence and sometimes the lack of it makes me want to crawl out of my own skin.
This widow life, it is beyond anything I ever expected to be living at the tender age of 42 (almost 43) when it all began. Now, 2.5 years later, I am still dumbstruck by all of it. It is a mess. I miss him and I expect that I always will. Despite all the missing, I am living without him. I am moving forward because I didn't die and I don't have a choice in this alternate life. I have to continue because of my children and because my life requires it of me. But, I miss him. Time has not dulled this aching and I do not know if it ever will.
Some people tell me he is "here". He is "with" me. Well, his consciousness might be. And, his Soul loves me for Eternity. I KNOW this. And, I appreciate this. I know full well that love never ends, but what do I do with this? What the hell does a woman do with a love she can't see, or hear or physically feel or touch?
Mother’s Day. My relationship to this day has been a complicated one for most of my life. Until more recently actually, I did not celebrate this day at all. Since my mom died when I was nine, this day has really been nothing but painful for most of my years. So much so that I just decided to forget all about it in my twenties and avoid going out in public completely until it was over. Beause for me, it wasn't Mother's Day, it was Grief Day. One of many Grief Day holidays throughout the year.
It’s safe to say I’ve always had an understandable disdain for this and any other holiday that calls attention to what is missing for me. Nothing quite as horrific as being the kid at school who doesn’t have a mom to make a card for or invite to a special Mother’s Day event.
My relationship to this day has changed a lot in the past ten years... I met Drew, and in the years we spent together as well as the years after he died, I’ve continued to get closer to his mom. Suddenly, after he died, we found ourselves in a unique place. A mother without her child, and a child without her mother. Suddenly, we found solace in each other, and an understanding of our different but equally deep losses. To this day, even halfway across the country, we remain close and a part of each other. She gave me a reason to appreciate this holiday in a way I hadn’t been able to before. She was the first person to help me see that this day isn’t only hard for me...Read more
It’s an interesting thing how people around you say they understand and they will be there for you. However when you have a tough day and they respond by saying:
“I thought you said you were ok and moving on.”
“I was ok that day but there are no rules to what’s going on in my heart and my head.”
In all honesty I don’t know how to say what it feels like when you let someone in a little and they back away instead of standing by you. The best I can do is share the lyrics to P!NK’s song “Attic”Read more
I completely forgot! It was Natasha’s birthday recently and I completely forgot. In the 4 years since her death, I forgot her birthday for the first time. I only remembered a couple of days later when my daughter was asking about her scheduled activities.Read more