I’m sitting at the airport this morning headed to spend the weekend with my best friend from junior high. It’s my 40th birthday weekend and I’m all over the place in my head. Today’s blog is more of a list of competing emotions rather than a discussion or story…Sometimes bullet points get “the point” across better. See what I did there? ;-)
Ok here goes:
- Turning 40! Excited and how the Hell did I get this old?
- Yay! Friends and fun!
- Yay a break from work!
- Oh God this is my first birthday without Clayton. Can I hold it together?
- What’s next? Holidays? Oh God I won’t have him for holidays!
- Do I want to even decorate? Too sad but he would want me to.
- Seriously 40? I did not envision my life would be so shaken up at 40. Ugh
- Ok deep breath! Birthday weekend!! I’m grateful for what I have but I’m also excited for presents :)
I’ve attended three weddings this year. I’ve heard of many widows who hate or avoid going to weddings but I don’t really feel that way. That’s not a new development for me; I attended 3 of my best friends’ weddings (within my self-set boundaries) and was a bridesmaid in my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in the three to six months after Mike died because I wanted to be there and be a witness and part of their joy (they would all have all graciously excused me). However, it is certainly not the same experience that it use to be for me and I have a different attitude and perspective attending than I once had.
I think the expression of love at weddings is beautiful and I’m so happy I got to experience that with Mike. I feel lucky for that. I’m glad when I go to weddings that the people get to experience that too. Obviously, my love story with Mike after our wedding was not what I expected and that’s where the “different” experience comes in.
The vows the bride and groom say to one another is the part that stands out to me the most now. It also is the part that makes me a bit uneasy. The weight and promise of those words is so enormous. I reflect on my own promise I made, what I think of it now, and my future moving forward.
I understand the thinking behind the “until death do us part” promise but I just don’t find it actually works that way. When someone dies, you don’t feel like you’re not married to them anymore. It’s not a clean break. It’s not a breakup or divorce. I still felt very much married. Death doesn’t make you stop loving them. It is just no longer reciprocated.
Beyond “until death do us part,” I think it makes more sense when brides and grooms also often say that they will love and honour their spouse for all the days of their life. It’s an individual choice as opposed to a joint one. It is carried out regardless of the other person. I think that is really sweet and also very true. I will love and honour Mike for all of my life. It’s a beautiful, huge promise.Read more
I can hear the fire works from last years New Years Eve celebrations. They go off with a bang. Thoughts racing of families watching them with smiles and couples sharing kisses that would seal there love for the year ahead. Last NYE I sat alone on my bedroom floor, with photos sprawled in front of me. A pen in hand, writing letters to John that he will never get to read. I heard the fire works go off and said out loud "happy new years kiss, I love you".
This new year I had been looking forward to, but as it draws closer I feel sick to celebrate a new year without him. I never thought much of the term "With a heavy heart" until I knew grief. I know you will all understand when I say, my heart feels heavy at the thought of this new year. A year past without him, the new year brings new beginnings, but it doesn't bring him back.Read more
Without a second thought, I stepped right into the holidays, as I’ve done for all but one year in the last 15 (the year Megan died was a little different). Just after Thanksgiving, we got our Christmas tree, put up lights on the house, decorated indoors, and as a first, we set up my old model train on the dining table, complete with snow, buildings, bridges, and trees.
We attended plays, went for drives to look at lights, and listened to Christmas songs on the radio everywhere else we went. We baked gingerbread cookies, wearing silly elf hats, and hiked in what little snow we’ve received so far this winter.
I try to make this season happy and memorable for everyone around me, especially Shelby. Ensuring that she has good experiences is of the utmost importance to me. I love that I can now do the same for Sarah. This was the first Christmas she’s spent with us, travelling to my parents’ on Christmas eve, and Megan’s parents on Christmas day, as has been tradition for a decade.Read more
Weddings can be a huge trigger for many widow(ers). It makes sense that attending a wedding brings up memories of one’s own wedding day. They emphasize that, at one time, you were married too, but now, your relationship status is somewhat murky, to say the least. Seeing a bride walk down the aisle, with a combination of tears and smiles, and saying “I do” shortly after uttering the words “til death do us part” seems more real when death has done one part.
Father’s day around our house was never a big production. I was usually the first to wake up in the house on any given day, creep downstairs, make myself some coffee, and watch or read the news until everyone else started stirring. I preferred it to be that way. I didn’t relish any extra attention placed upon me.
I appreciated every card or “Happy Father’s Day” I got, and every coffee mug or shirt that Shelby and Megan gave me on that day, but Father’s Day was just another Sunday to me, and I was just happy to have my family with me.
Last year though, it was different. I didn’t have my entire family. I woke up from an empty bed and walked downstairs, trying to have a “traditional” father’s day, but it wasn’t happening. I didn’t even write about it on here last year.Read more
I am in a very unique situation, not only being a widower, but in love with a widow. The silver lining to this is that it allows me to see things from two perspectives. I’ve decided that since Sarah hasn’t yet travelled to my home, I would write this week from the perspective of dating a widow. Things like meeting in-laws, friends, and seeing pictures of late partners can be a scary thought for anyone.
Perhaps my loss has tempered those anxious moments, but regardless, I would hope that any person that is dating someone who has suffered loss can feel the same comfort and respect that I experienced a few weeks ago, as well as return that reverence to those around them.
I’ve written a letter to Drew, Sarah’s late fiance about this. He deserves to have a word from me from this side.