Holy shit, is it a real thing.
Michele, thankfully, speaks about it each year, prior to Sunday morning breakfast.
Fair warning of gales ahead, campers.
I first attended Camp Widow in 2015. Chuck had been dead for 2 years at that point.
I didn't know a soul there. I hadn't connected with any widowed groups on fb.
I was disoriented and dislocated in every way.
Arizona to Florida, towing my pink trailer behind me.
This year I left it behind. Finding a place to park it in the city was next to impossible in 2015, and I didn't want the stress.
I've connected with numerous widow/ers around the country. Facebook groups, in addition to the thousands who follow along with my Odyssey of Love, and i knew that some of them would be at CW this year and maybe we'd meet in person, which would be so cool.
I presented a workshop for the first time, which I think went well, and hopefully the reviews reflected my confidence, but who knows.
The banquet, Saturday evening...
I broke the curse of not being able to dance.
Curtis, the DJ, played I Will Survive, following on the heels of the beyond lovely lotus flower ritual, and I didn't allow myself to think, or consider. I simply headed to the dance floor to dance.
And stayed on the dance floor for one song after another.
For me it wasn't about celebrating, as much as it was about releasing stress and grief from my body and heart and soul. Twirling around with my arms spread open.
God, the tears were right there.
They'd already spilled out when I went to the AA meeting that was offered this year. The minute I saw it on the schedule, I headed to it.
Chuck and I shared our sober anniversary, and celebrated it as intently as we did our wedding anniversary. If not for our sobriety, we wouldn't have had the marriage that we did.
Upon taking a seat, I was given a piece of paper to read that contained the Promises of AA.
They're read at every meeting. In that, if you do these things...follow the principles of AA...the Promises will come true.
I'd always loved reading those Promises, at all the meetings that Chuck and I went to over many years. When I couldn't believe in anything else, I believed them.
So, sitting there, reading them...they took me back over the years. Chuck sitting next to me, feeling his energy right beside me, reading at meetings in NJ.
I hadn't cried at all since arriving in Tampa, but yeah, I could barely get through them. Lots of deep breaths so I could get through them.
Here's the thing. This widowed world that I live in is mine. Mine because, you know, dead husband. Dead Chuck. He's only ever been the thought behind it. The power that drives me to continue living when I can't bear to live without him.
My world of overwhelming loneliness. For him.
But Jesus, Mary and Joseph...I began reading those Promises and it was as if Chuck opened the door of that room and walked in and took a seat beside me.
The realization of that took my breath away.
It was soooo fucking good to touch base with other alcoholics there. Especially alcoholics who share this fucking widowed life with me.
Thank you to Soaring Spirits for that. Big time.
From there I went to the banquet and I danced.
In 2015 I couldn't dance. I remember one of my widowed sisters coaxing me out to the dance floor and I couldn't. I was frozen.
It's changed, this grief. I fully acknoweldge that it has. I carry it differently now.
It's still painful and lonely and I fucking hate it AND I've continued to grow because I'm still alive and, as Shelby Forsythia of Coming Back says...even in grief, we are growing.
I still don't know what hope means. Or happiness. Or joy. And I don't much care what they mean.
I'm just out here honoring Chuck. Honoring our Love story. Honoring my widowed community. Honoring Love, which is, in my heart and mind, the most powerful force in the Universe.
That's all that matters to me.
Camp Widow/Tampa helped me connect with even more people. Grow my community of Love. These two things that keep me sane...to whatever degree my sanity exists, anyways.
I thank each and every one of you who showed up there. Who came to meet me. Who reached out to me. Who hugged me. Who danced with me.
The energy of the weekend filled my heart.
You all make a huge difference every day.
I hope you know that~
*I crashed big time Monday morning. Stumbled out of bed, head whirling, brushed my teeth...and it took about two swipes before I realized hey, this isn't toothpaste! I'd inadvertently put anti-itch cream that I was using for a bad mosquito bite on my tootbrush, instead of toothpaste. It took me hours of gagging and spitting before I got rid of the taste. But, at least my teeth didn't itch, right? I'm still exhausted, and it's Tuesday. But it was worth it*