Oh, the sadness of October.
My wedding anniversary.
Followed by our honeymoon anniversary,
just days later,
and then Don's birthday, just days into that.
October 27th we married.
Its toward the end of the month,
and its true what they say.
The build-up to these milestone days,
is often worse than the actual day itself.
But then again,
the actual day itself
is , for me, just heart-wrenchingly sad.
There are no triggers. No panic. No anger or hysterical sobs.
Just intense and very real sadness.
The kind of sadness that sits in silence by the ocean,
listening quietly to the waves, as they swish by one by one by one.
It's the kind of sadness that not many understand.
It has no drama, and would be boring to describe in a movie about grief.
This sadness makes me feel the need to put a pause on life ,
just for a little while. A few hours. A day or two maybe. If possible.
I need to just sit with the idea that my husband is no longer my husband,
but a cherished time and memory. An inspiring thought. A dream unrealized or
He is the man who loved me first, and who changed me forever.
He died loving me, and I will have his whole heart forever.
There is a sad comfort that lives in that knowledge.Read more
To my beloved husband, Chuck D, as we approach the 6th anniversary of your memorial service, which we held 6 months out from your death…
I know I did everything as perfectly as I could in those few short weeks between finding the cancer, our hospice time, and your death.
I know this more than I know anything else in my life.
Doubt lingers in the corners of my mind and pops out in my most vulnerable moments, such as now. Such as everyday of living without you.
Just one doubt.
Was I at your side enough in our hospice time? Should I have moved into that hospice room with you and not moved until I had to? Did I err in going, every so often, back to our rented condo, to sleep…even though I never slept when I was there. Shadows of your impending death were ever on my mind. I knew I was a widow in waiting, no matter where I was. I didn’t need to hear a clock ticking away the time: my heart was more of a reminder than any clock.
I didn’t stay with you every night, and that thought has more power over me than I want it to.
There were many nights that I did, and I was there every day, but I wasn’t there every minute, even though I wanted to be. What I wanted was to lay down beside you and never move. Hold onto you for every breath. Breathe with you and for you. Take your place in that bed, with cancer attacking my body relentlessly.Read more
On Sunday, September 30th, I hosted a huge Book Launch Party Celebration in NYC, at West Side Comedy Club. A few years ago, when I was beginning to write this epic love and loss story book about the life and death of my husband, I did a fundraising campaign where lots of great people donated to help make my book happen. One of the things I promised as part of that campaign, was that when the book was finished, I would have a huge Book Launch Party in NYC.
Well, 4 years and a few months later, I did it. I put time and energy and hard work and money into this party. I ordered food. There was a huge sheet cake that said "Thank You for your support", and had the cover of my book superimposed right into the icing. We did a raffle to raise money for Soaring Spirits, and I called and gathered people to donate services, goods, books, and gift cards toward the raffle for prizes. I stood up on the stage and read from my book. I did a little bit of comedy. My friend Lori, who manages the club where we held the party, also did some comedy and spoke very kind words about me in front of everyone there.Read more
Last week my school took part in the Terry Fox Walk. I’m not sure how much everyone knows about Terry Fox but in a way oversimplified summary he was a young Canadian, who lost his leg to cancer in the 1980s. He had an artificial leg and set a goal to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He died before he could finish his “Marathon of Hope” but many schools across the country still participate in a walk and raise money for cancer research on his behalf. My explanation does not do it justice but I strongly suggest you look it up and there’s a great new video the Terry Fox Foundation put out this year as well.
Anyways, so our school starts the walk with an assembly where we watch the video about Terry Fox and then we’re on our way with a cause. After the walk, the 5-7 year olds in my class want to talk about Terry Fox dying and death in general.
As someone who has spent so much of the last bit of my life dealing with grief I am careful to not project that onto the kids I am constantly around. However, I also refuse to shy away from talking about death when it is naturally brought up by them. I think that would do them a disservice. Avoiding conversations about death, when they have questions or comments, perpetuates the idea that grief and death are a taboo topic when it really is a natural and unavoidable part of life. They shouldn’t be forced or taught to hide their emotions connected to death and they certainly shouldn’t grow into adults who have internalized those ideas. If they have questions or comments I’m going to do my best to respond and validate them.
I must say that I was both so humbled, proud, and full of hope by the conversation that stemmed from their little minds. It was so honest and raw. It gave me a perspective of the progression from their open minds as children to the closed minds we develop as adults. It gave me hope that if conversations can remain open that maybe their thinking can stay. It expressed their concerns and worries in such a true form. It demonstrated respect, care, maturity and an awareness for others that is inspiring.
Instead of describing the conversation in length I thought I would just write a few of the things they shared and my thinking behind it and hope that maybe it can be meaningful and insightful to you too.Read more
Grief is hard. There is no denying that. There are things that are so obviously associated with grieving that I know will be difficult: anniversaries, birthdays, things that remind me of Mike and the list can go on. When those moments happen (or are soon going to happen) and I feel upset or angry or sad I can clearly attribute it to grief. It almost makes me satisfied to be able to classify it. “Ah, it would have been our wedding anniversary and I’m pissed he’s not here.” I know why I am feeling the way I am. It’s grief. I can give myself the grace to go easy on myself and let myself experience whatever emotion it is I need to feel.
The more difficult part is when I just feel sad, angry, or upset and I don’t know exactly why. Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything at all. I may just want my bed or I may cry over something that doesn’t seem significant. Is that still grief? I’m not necessarily crying about Mike but I still just feel sad or alone or whatever. I didn’t ever use to do that or feel that way so intensely before Mike died. Can it still be grieving? Is it something more? Is it normal to just have bad days for no reason? Is it for no reason? I just don’t know.Read more
Is loneliness the never-ending story of widowhood?
Does it end if we find another chance at Love?
Does the loneliness exist, even then
Because the loneliness is specific to that person, your person, who died?
Is there ever a moment again
When a widow’s heart feels that lightness of being,
Or is the heaviness, the ache, the sadness of that particular loneliness
A lifetime sentence in the so called new normal?
Because, no matter what I do, where I go, how I push, how I involve myself in life, in relationships with family and friends, no matter how much I join in, engage, power on,
That loneliness doesn’t leave my heart, my soul, or my body.
Counseling and therapy for anxiety and trauma…EMDR, bi-lateral brain stimulation, talk, tapping, retreats, meditation, new environments, connections with others…I’ve done it all, and I continue doing it all…
And…the loneliness that only intensifies as the years pass by.Read more
If you’ve read my post from my personal blog from last year around this time you would know that I don’t like Fall. It’s my least favourite season. There is however a very redeeming quality for me at this time of year: the end of motorcycle season in Canada!
I don’t know if I’ve ever fully mentioned it (it’s not what I want to focus on) but Mike died in a motorcycle accident. Since then, motorcycles have been extremely triggering for me.
When he first died I literally had to pull over and off the road when a motorcycle was driving anywhere near me. I could not handle it. They made me so anxious and upset. I would wait for them to pass, collect myself and get back on the road. I seemed to have passed those emotions onto my dog and he would try to hide in the car when he heard a motorcycle. The two of us were a bit of a disaster. Mike died in the Spring so I had the Spring, Summer, and start of the Fall with those things whipping around and making all their terrible loud sounds near me. Let’s just say that it took me a long time to get anywhere that year.
I have moved slightly forward through a lot of those feelings. I no longer have to pull over when a motorcycle drives near me. I so still absolutely hate them driving near me and I try to avoid them. I will slow down or switch lanes to try to get it away from me. I can function driving around them but it still makes me anxious, brings up memories or makes me feel all sorts of feelings. There’s still never a single motorcycle that passes through my eyesight that doesn’t make me think of Mike and his accident.Read more
It comes in waves, those flames: the flames of fear and the flames of future, the flames of anguish and the flames of anger. You do your best to fight the fire but it is erupting from within you. As if you haven’t fought enough, you are constantly fighting with your inner beast but you never know whom. Is it your inner phoenix or is it your inner dragon? Phoenix is a rebirth out of the ashes but develop too quickly and your heart’s new house will burn down. The dragon brings strength to walk the path but beware your breath as you may strike fear in the ones you meet along the way. One must tread lightly around stirring giants. In their glory, both are majestic and rule with kindness and wisdom but at their worst they can destroy entire villages. Young beast master, do not try to wake them until you are ready to control them or you will lose control of yourself…
“I’ll never be able to move on” - The sparks fly
“It will get easier” - The pressure builds
“Have you moved on?” - The fire is stoked
It’s not under our control what feeds the beast and which beast we are nourishing. It breathes when it wants, it feeds when it wants and it sleeps when it wants - Caution to those that wake either of the sleeping beasts. Caution to all who wake both…
It’s been a long time since I have had a night out with others. There have been dinners, a mellow movie night but not one of those “Let’s grill! Neighbors are coming over and we can party”…I just had one of those nights. It felt like a relief but little did I know that the start of the relief was a release of the phoenix and the dragon.Read more
If all things that are impossible
Became impossibly real,
And the unimaginable
Became impossibly imaginable,
And what is impossibly, unimaginably, inconceivable,
Became entirely plausible.
In a world where my fiercest and most impassioned pleas,
Ringing forth from the depths of my shattered heart…
Could be heard pulsating through the days and nights of the almighty Universe,
And the gods of the Romans and Greeks and all gods through Time
Were to hear my cries,
Bouncing off the stars and the moon and the sun…Read more