This past weekend, Sarah and I traveled to Toronto to attend our third Camp Widow there. We’ve both realized that Camp Widow recharges us. Though we may not be in the active throes of grief on a daily basis, with Megan’s death four years ago, and Drew’s six, there is something about telling our stories, and hearing others’ that brings a warmth that we didn’t realize we were lacking.
This year though, it was so much more. I assisted with two of the focus groups on Friday, one for those that lost their partners less than a year ago, and one for widowers. I was given the opportunity and honor of introducing Michele Neff Hernandez for her final keynote address. I helped Sarah setup for her intensive workshop on Saturday, “Rebuilding our Hearts”, and took my leave to let her shine. Those stories are for a different time though. I will certainly be expanding upon my “introduction speech” soon, because ten minutes is certainly not enough time to convey how much my story has been influenced by Michele.
A few months before Camp, Michele contacted Sarah, and proposed an idea for the message release that is conducted at each and every Saturday banquet at Camp. It was to be a large sign, displaying the word “Hope”, with a similar look and feel to the large “Toronto” sign just across the street from the hotel. Since we can easily drive to Toronto from Ohio, and I have a pickup truck, logistically, it was easier (and obviously more cost effective) for us to create something and deliver it across the border than it would be to ship something from California.
We worked for weeks creating this. Purchasing supplies, calculating, measuring, cutting materials, sanding, painting, gluing, and lighting these letters. As late as the Wednesday night before camp, we were cutting out small cork “bricks” and tying a string to over 200 of them.
It was a lot of work, to say the least, but the reception we received to it was far and away more than we could have ever imagined.Read more
The day began with tears. Its brutally unfair were my thoughts. He should be here! Where is he?
My stomach in tight knots I felt physically ill. He would have been 30.
The day was spent with family. Reminiscing and sharing stories. Keeping busy, we laughed, we ate, and we supported each other. Sending balloons up into the clouds the physically sick feeling returned and I choked swallowing my tears.
I thought that once the day I dreaded was over, the mood I had felt intensely the past week would lift. I was wrong. The following day was worse. Maybe it was the shock and disbelief wearing off, the lack of distractions the denial I sometimes live in.
Denial that was taken away in an instant with the sound of his voice. “Close your eyes and listen” Unexpectedly and unprepared I leaned into the mobile phone being held to my ear. I closed my eyes and listened in wonder.Read more
Over the weekend I attended John’s son’s swimming lesson. He jumped off the diving board for the first time. Every first brings with it pride for my children along with the inevitable thought, John is missing out or we are missing out on experiencing this first with him. Whichever way you look at it, it’s unfair that he is not here.
I left the swimming lesson in a fog of sadness that I couldn’t share this first with John. Lost in my thoughts I began to reverse the car without paying complete attention. I had to brake suddenly when I realised I was going to reverse into a car that was about to drive past behind me. I stopped about half way out of my car park, leaving quite some distance still between myself and the other vehicle. However the lady in the other car was cross at my vague driving skills, she threw her hands up over the steering wheel and proceeded to yell profanities out the window.