Familiar Roads

On this day, in 1998, exactly 18 years ago, I sat at my brand new computer and logged into my brand new AOL account, and entered a music chat room about 1980's song lyrics. That night, only one other screen name logged on: Wayabvepar.

We typed for 5 hours that night, then for 3 more years before actually meeting in person. Eventually this man from the internet, Don Shepherd, would move his life from Florida to N.J., and become my husband for 4.5 glorious years, before his sudden tragic death, in July of 2011.

Now, four and a half years later, I still miss him every single day. Some days the volume is turned down low on the grief, and other days, like today, it is so loud that I can barely make out other sounds.

Lately, I have been traveling down roads familiar. 

Without getting into too much detail just yet, (for many reasons) let's just say that for the past few months, I have been talking with someone new, and creating a new friendship. He is a widower, and he found my blog (ripthelifeiknew.com) totally by chance - or fate - or whatever it is that you might believe.

After doing a google search for widowed blogs, he began reading mine, when he suddenly noticed the familiar face of his former co-worker/colleague and friend Don Shepherd on the front page banner of my blog site. He quickly realized that he was reading the words of Don Shepherd's wife/widow, and so he kept reading. And then he sent me a beautiful email, letting me know that my words had made a difference to him, and letting me know of the connections he had with my husband.

This man lives in Florida, where Don lived for years when I first met him, and he works in the same paramedic field, at the same place where my husband worked for so many years, before moving up here with me. The whole thing is absolutely crazy, and yet, it doesn't surprise me at all. Don loves to send me signs, and he loves to put people into my path - people that will help me, and that I can help back. People that I usually end up having a special connection with. People that will end up becoming very important people in my life going forward.

Talking to this person feels brand new and very familiar, all at the same time. It also makes me emotional, because since he knew my husband (his late wife knew my husband a little bit too, they all worked at the same place), it feels to me like in some tiny but beautiful way, I get to have a little piece of my husband back again. I feel this each time he tells me a little story about something Don did at work, almost 20 years ago, or when he mentions people at the job that I also know, through my husband. It is difficult to explain just how amazing it feels to have this strange and wonderful re-connection with my husband, while at the same time, Im getting to know this really sweet and lovely person, that I didnt know at all, only 6 months ago. 

Traveling roads familiar has also been highly emotional. Lately, my mind keeps going back to those first few years of our relationship - when we were talking online and on the phone, when we were becoming great friends, and very slowly but surely falling in love. This all feels very familiar right now, and yet, this person is NOT Don. He is his own person, and I am very much enjoying learning more and more about him, the more that we talk.

It is weird to me how getting to know someone new can bring forth such deep feelings of intense grief and pain - there have been some major triggers. Last night, I woke up at some random horrible hour, sat on the side of my bed, and just sobbed uncontrollably. I felt like someone had smacked me in the stomach with a boulder. I was a bit stressed out from trying to navigate the newness and the confusions of figuring out someone new and all their personality quirks and things - and all the many, many fears of being hurt, rejected, or abandoned. All the complicated crap of trying to figure someone out, and realizing that you might be having some real feelings for a person again, and then becoming terrified at what that might possibly mean.

It's a lot for me. In the four and a half years since Don died, I haven't even THOUGHT about the idea of anyone else. And now, here I am, talking to someone else. I don't know what this will or wont turn into. Time will tell, and there's no pressure whatsoever. But the very thought of it being something that Im dealing with , was enough to make me start sobbing. It made me miss my husband fiercely, and it made me want to yell into the universe and curse into the sky, that if he didn't go and DIE on me, I wouldn't be having to figure this shit out right now.

It makes me want him back more than ever,

and yet,

I realize fully that I will never get that wish.

And so I have to live. 

What other choice do I have really?

Don would want me to live.

Even when it hurts.

Even when I don't have a clue what comes next.

I just wish it wasn't so goddamn hard. 

Showing 4 reactions

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  • Carol Johnston
    commented 2016-02-27 07:07:35 -0800
    Kelley…beautiful blog…beautiful possibilities…friendship, companionship…or more…your heart will figure it out, and of course, your beloved Don is definitely in on this…love to you, Kelley…
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2016-02-27 00:29:03 -0800
    Isn’t it just so weird to connect with someone who you share memories of Don with on a level no one else quite does? I had coffee with a very dear old friend of my Tony’s. Someone who knew him almost as well as I did. I haven’t seen him in years and yet on some level we have these common memories and common past. It sent me on an emotional journey I’m still not fully comprehending. I hope you enjoy this new friendship, and that it brings you some joy you totally deserve to have.
  • Sharon Wall
    commented 2016-02-26 18:39:10 -0800
    As always, thank you for your post, Kelley. I’m in kind of a similar place and it’s great to hear your perspective on the unexpected new directions in which our lives moving (and yours too, Stephanie). It’s fun and exciting, triggers all kinds of stuff and some days makes me miss the familiarity Brian and I developed over the years. I wish only good things for you as your after life continues to unfold.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2016-02-26 00:08:31 -0800
    Yeah it’s goddamn hard. Having a friend is ok I think… No pressure, right?…hopefully, yet easier said than done…my musician came upon me so unexpectedly, and even not knowing what will happen, his companionship has mattered…maybe, that’s all it is…and that’s ok…but missing them, amidst it all whatever and whoever…always will be, the sucky part and I can’t stop it…xoxo