Losing the Holiday Weight
The holidays were rough. My first without Tin and there were days I just could barely keep it together. Christmas is over and I spent New Year’s alone for the first time in years with no one to plan a new year of adventures with. It’s been a struggle and I have 3 more months before I hit the anniversary of his passing. I felt like I was carrying a thousand pounds through the holidays. I get holiday weight but that was not what I was ever expecting.Read more
In the beginning, there was music.
Back in 1998, in the days when AOL was a thing, I went into a music chat / trivia room about 1980s song lyrics, and met Don Shepherd.
We talked about Lionel Richie songs, great singers, guitar players, and more. Then we just kept on talking.
Seven years and lots of plane trips from Florida to NY and back later, he packed up his life and moved to New Jersey to be with me.
We married a year later, and just 3 months before our 5-year wedding anniversary, he would die suddenly from cardiac arrest.
At first, I could not hear music.
It was too hard.
It hurt too much.
Every song was a reminder that I would never hear him strumming his guitar again, in our apartment.
We would never sing and play together, just for fun.
He would never use my leg or knee to try and figure out a chord or a beat again.
He wouldnt ask me to come into the living room and "listen to this song I just threw together. Do you like it, Boo?"
We wouldnt rehearse Natalie Merchant or Fleetwood Mac or Beatles or Aerosmith songs anymore.
Or sit on the couch and listen to CD's.
Everything about music started to hurt.
We lost my wife about a month after my daughter’s second birthday and I was so distraught in the early days that I was having panic attacks. The thought of being a single father was incredibly terrifying, how am I going to raise a little girl on my own?! Luckily, psychotherapy and a detailed wellness plan have helped me leave those feelings behind. Each year, my daughter gets a little older, and I am reminded that I do not need to worry about being able to walk the path of a single parent anymore. Especially, since each added candle to my daughter’s birthday cake means I am not only walking the path of a single parent, I am in fact, making MY OWN path as a single parent.Read more
I wander quite frequently. It's mostly what I've done, and what I do, in this widowland.
For 5 years and counting now.
Physically and mentally...I wander.
Physically, in that I've spent these years since the death of my beloved husband wandering the country in my pink car, towing my equally pink T@b Teardrop trailer behind me.
Mentally, in that my mind is seldom where I am, physcially.
It's mostly in the past, honestly. Or totally daydreaming, a la' Walter Mitty.Read more
It has been almost a month since I last posted on here. Sometimes, life can get in the way of all of our commitments to others. Between the holidays, the busiest time of year at my work, travel, and budgets, sharing my weekly thoughts and anecdotes about life after becoming widowed took a significant back-burner.
But the primary reason I hadn’t shared is that my mind, in fact, my very being, was consumed by something that I couldn’t write about at the time.
An impending proposal.Read more
In the early months, I remember reading the blogs of people who were years into widowhood and I was dumbstruck. I had no idea how they did it. I was completely in awe about how they were going about rebuilding their lives. And, I hoped that I could be like them. I hoped I would survive outliving Mike; but, I was not sure how they were doing this. Well, now I know. They just did. There is no magic. There is no secret formula to grief. There is not way to side-step the aching. Widowed people simply leaned into their grief. So, this is what I did, and so can you.
You have to absorb the sadness and yearning and aching into your psyche. And, with hard work, intention and persistance, you can somehow recreate a full life. It will not be the life you imagined, but it can be a good life nonetheless. I have been attempting to reconstruct my life for the last two years. It has not been easy, but I refuse to let Mike's death define my life. I have to strive to do more than simply survive his death. I have chosen to choose joy, inspite of the sadness inside me. And, moving into 2019 I will continue to relentlessly seek joy. (#joyseeker)
I have been a widow for over two years now. This is a fairly significant chunk of time, but in the grief world it is still early on. The last two years have been composed of the longest days and loneliest nights of my life. There were many moments that I did not think I could do this one second longer, but I did. Time has softened the rough edges of my grief and it will do the same for you. Nothing in this life remains the same, grief included. With time, the intensity of your grief will change. And, for me, sometimes it still comes on full force. Certain times my grief is raw. The aching is primal and the sadness is overwhelming; but, thankfully, now, most days my grief is just a dull heaviness that lives inside of me. I am learning to live with Mike's absence. I don't like it, but I am attempting to accept the permanence of his death because there is nothing else I can do. I was a good "Wife" and only an average widow.
Recently, I have stopped counting the time 'earned' in widowhood. I no longer keep track of the months because it feels odd now that I am over 2 years into this mess. This whole counting the months passed reminds me of when my sons turned from babies into toddlers. When my boys turned 2 years old, like most parents, I stop referring to my children in months because I thought it sounded kinda quirky. Now, my sons are teenagers and I have no idea how many months old either of them are because it stopped being relevant a long time ago. And, being Mike's widow has developed this same feel. The time I have spent as a widow is less relevant than it used to be. The fact is, I am a widow. I am not going to become more or less of his widow with time. Even when I meet someone new, and if I marry this man, I will still be Mike's widow. Nothing changes this.
And, as far as being a widow goes, I am gettting somewhat "better" at it with practice.
But, still, I remain only average at widowing. I don't know if I even want to excell at it.
I know that I can live a full life on my own, but I don't want to because I know that I am good at being in love with the right person. I like being in love. Mike made me a huge fan of love. And, I want to share my life with someone again because it is simply way more fun. Waking up alone and making coffee for one is getting old. Wandering through life not being someone's person is less fulfilling than when I was Mike's girl. I miss his random text messages throughout the day. I miss him making me a coffee in a travel mug to drink on my drive to work. I miss him stopping me on my way out so that he could run into the garage to get the pruners and clip some beautiful lilacs off the tree in the front yard - just for me because he loved me. (For real, he did this.) I miss him looking at me from across the table, and gently putting down his fork and softly telling me "you are so beautiful Stace". I miss him. Dammit, I miss him so much my heart aches as I am typing this.
My life without him is not easy. I miss being so deeply in love with a man who is alive - I was really good at it loving Mike. And, I am not so good at crawling into my empty bed every night - it continues to sucks two years later. This widow thing is not a routine I enjoy.
I am a far better Wife than Widow.Read more
We’re a week into the new year, and I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and reflect. Holiday travel definitely takes a lot out of you and we’re only just beginning to get settled back in at home. The thing that I am reflecting on right now as I write to you is mostly, my gratitude, and the big event I wrote about last week - Mike proposing to me.
A lot of people don’t know that Drew never officially proposed to me. He was planning to as soon as he returned from the work trip he was on - only he never returned. But he had sort-of asked in a roundabout way before that… because I was the queen of avoiding large milestones like these. Basically, he wanted reassurance that if he did ask me soon, I would be happy about it and not feel pushed or pressured. In the conversation, I started to overthink and freak out about the idea of it, as I do with most milestones, and then I stopped myself and I told him “Whenever you ask me, I will say yes”. So that’s as far as we actually got. A few weeks later, he was gone, without warning.
I’m sure most understand how painful it is to have not gotten to the proposal, or the wedding, or the first year, or the fifth year, or your first house, or children, or grandchildren… to not have gotten to some milestone. Or a lot of milestones.
This has been my story for the past 6 ½ years. A story I unknowingly settled into. Even though I referred to Drew as my fiance after his death, truly, no one had ever proposed to me. No one had ever said those words to me. And these years since his death, I have been a woman who has never been asked. I think a very old part of my damaged self worth liked to feed off of that sometimes. Like I didn’t deserve it. It’s not rational, and it doesn’t make sense, and I know it isn’t true, but it’s still there… somewhere in the dark corners of my heart, this whispering thought that I don’t deserve to be asked that question.
Only now, that story has been changed by someone new...Read more
This past week, some married friends went away on a family vacation, and asked me and Nick if we could stay at their house for 5 days while they were gone, dog-sitting and house-sitting. We were both happy to do it. Not only did it help our friends out, but it also gave us an opportunity to spend some quality alone time together. Without getting into too much detail here, our current living situations are not ideal, and do not allow us much private time at all. So a whole week in a big house together, alone with a dog, sounded like heaven.
It was. Well, my version of heaven anyway. Entire hours and days where we could freely kiss one another or hold each other's hand or reach out and flirtatiously grab the other's waist or ass, without anyone nearby or looking. Cooking and eating meals together, making shopping lists of what things we needed to buy to be prepared for the week ahead. Putting on meditation music to sleep at night, or other varied music throughout the day to help create different moods. Relaxing on the couch watching a hockey game or a movie, our legs wrapped around each other or me leaning my head against his shouder. Having my brother over for homemade pizza and some overdue chat time - meeting Nick's sister for a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Staying in on New Years Eve and making tortellini and sausage with marinara sauce and garlic bread together. These are the things that I now cherish, in this new version of life.Read more
A lot of people use the start of a new year as a time for reflection and resolutions. However, since being widowed I feel like what people do on new year’s day is what I do constantly; I am always reflecting, reevaluating and adjusting to make changes. I haven’t felt like I can go through my life like I once did - just doing things because I’ve done them before or because that is how it has been for whatever amount of time. I’m conscious of how I spend my time and the things and people in my life. I want my life to meaningful and purposeful to me. I don’t want to arrive at my death having not done the things or lived the life I wanted.
So that is what I try to pursue. I continue to grow, change, and explore what makes me happy or what I believe will lead to more happiness. In the past little while that has meant taking a course in the evenings, figuring out and planning investments, practising acro yoga, continuing to travel and be outdoors and active when I can, spending time with family (including Tango), and continuing to grow my relationship with David. Those are the things right now that challenge me to grow, think, and be happy.
That being said, as I’ve been reflecting lately, I’ve been finding some things that no longer fit my life. It’s not easy to acknowledge and change because it’s things and people that I have valued, thought would be lifelong (or close to) and in the case of relationships, that I had assumed were reciprocal. Some connections/ relationships that I thought I was valued in, that maybe I actually pushed beyond their expiration. Some activities that no longer bring me as much joy as they once did. I think I resist the change at first because I go back to my old self where I thought I just had to “keep going” and I pushed my true feelings aside for the sake of comfort.
It can be hard for me to let go. But I think that by leaning into and embracing the change that there opens up a space for growth. Quite literally, by leaving behind one activity there becomes time for another. In the way of a relationship, by letting some people go you have space and time for new people. And my hope is that the new space is a space for things and people that are more intune to where I am now. Things and people that support my journey and growth. It’s an opportunity for me to become more me.Read more
On New Year's Eve everyone is looking forward. But, for those of us who have lost our beloved, we want to back up. It is a hard spot to be in. We know that we must move forward with the rest of the world, yet our hearts are in the past.
This is my third NYE without Mike and it has been the gentlelest so far. I miss him to the depths of me, but the rawness of my missing it is being replaced with fondness. I tenderly remember him without as many tears as before. I love Mike. I always will. And, I can do this while I continue living my life and seeking joy in this new year. ~S.
I wish I could back up and start all over…
I would stand, and pause
And, take it all in.
I would drink up your laughter,
And, I’d fill up on your words.
I would love you deeper.
I’d kiss you softer.
I would hold you longer.
And, I’d never let you go…
I’d let your fingers softly imprint on my skin - over and over again.
Then, your touch could live on me forever…
If I could back up,
I’d memorize the warmth of your body against mine.
I’d hang on your every word.
I would ask you to tell me another truck story,
I’d listen longer and harder to everything you said.
I’d look into your kind eyes,
And, I would hold my breath,
And, then I’d stay there forever.