06_28_09.jpgI did not want to be a widow. In fact, it is safe to say that I would have liked to be just about anything BUT a widow. It took a while for the reality to set in...I was a WIDOW. Ugh. That word, the dreaded title, the image of a shriveled up person with a love that died, the imagined black veil, the wedding ring that no longer meant married...I hated every single thing about the concept of widowhood.

And then I met you. The survivors; the lovers; the compassionate, warm, hilarious, life affirming people that also wear the label~widow.

What I have learned over the past four years is that I was completely wrong about widows (surprised?). I thought only women who have lived the best parts of their lives already could be widows-wrong. I thought that widowed women cry all day long every day and never laugh at life's ironies-wrong. I thought that young widows were a minority-wrong. I thought that older widows and younger widows had nothing in common-wrong. I thought that no one would understand the depth of my pain-wrong. I thought that being a widow meant that life would never again hold any promise for me- really, really wrong.

And you, yes you, taught me that. None of us join this crazy club purposely. I have yet to meet a woman who hasn't spent a good amount of time hating her widowhood. But I have also met a lot of women who have learned to embrace this unwanted life transition. Somehow from the ashes of tragic loss amazing flowers have bloomed. We didn't choose this, but we won't let death rob us of both our husbands and ourselves. Flourishing in the face of death is the most incredible way of honoring the love we hold in our hearts for those we have lost. I am inspired by you, each and every day. Thank you for sharing your journey with me.

This photo is of Michelle Dippel (Ms. Tuesday) and I at the Embrace Life Awards in Bloomington, Illinois. State Farm Insurance selected me as one of the 2009 Embrace Life Award Honorees. My fellow widows taught me how to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of sorrow, and I am proud to be one of you.

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