At home I have a big bathroom. Built and decorated by Mike. So big that it has two basins, each with a mirror above it. “His ‘n’ Hers”. Two basins are not common in European bathrooms. Houses don’t usually have the space.
In between the basins and the mirrors, stuck to the wall with blu-tack, is a yellowing, curly-edged, typed piece of A4 paper. A love letter of sorts. I don’t read it so often anymore, but a few weeks ago, Medjool asked about it and I explained what it was.
A letter. Or more specifically, a long sms message. Written by Meg Jones to Mike when he was first diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I was so touched by the message that I sent it to my phone, then to my email, made it into a word document, printed it out and stuck it up there. Over three years ago now.
Powerful words. Of love. Of support. Of caring. Of understanding. Of recognition. Of “I am with you in this, and here’s how”. Words from a woman who felt/feels about Mike some of what I felt/feel about Don. A deep and strong platonic love. At the time of Mike’s illness and treatment, I read the letter many times. Over the months since Mike died, I have read it a handful of times.Read more
Thanksgiving was a beast in itself but Christmas can be the kraken in unicorn’s clothing. I love parts of Christmas like the lights, smell of Christmas trees and giving others gifts. It’s the other parts - families gathering, couples under the mistletoe, Hallmark everything that always ends up like a fairytale…Read more
Today as I type this it is my fourth Birthday as a widow. Since Mike died I have never celebrated my birthday and felt authentically happy. I have always deeply felt his absence and my birthday has been difficult at best. Really, birthdays have never been a big deal to me - even when Mike was alive. And, I have to admit, he only lived to celebrate one birthday with me. One. *Sigh.
I have lived most of my life absent from Mike so why does the lack of his presence still weigh on me four birthdays later? Well, because it does. Mike was my Heart, my Soul, my Love. And, a big love like ours can not be measured in time. A love like ours does not know time, nor space. It is bigger than these constructs.
As Mike's widow, I have not looked forward my birthday because it just served to pronounce his absence. But, this birthday was different. For no particular reason my grief was lighter. It was a gift. Today, I celebrated my day. I accepted and recognized that I did not die. My life has not ended, only Mike's did. And, of course I wish he was here celebrating me today. But, wishes do not change reality. Mike died. He is not here today. And, he will not be here tomorrow or any other day.
Last year I could barely walk through the grocery store during the holidays. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite and the thought of even buying ingredients was too much. This year, I told myself that it wasn’t right to stop celebrating. Tin wouldn’t want that at all. So I took a deep breath, swallowed what felt like a rock in my throat and grabbed a turkey. My eyes welled up and I told myself to go checkout. I had to go to the store three separate times to buy what I needed because I would hit a breaking point each time. Seasonings, cider, wine, apple pie, butter – God did Tin love butter. Those tears started in the dairy aisle and I had to go check out.Read more
One of my favourite widbuds is Charlotte, who I met last year at the Soaring Spirits Camp Widow event in Toronto 2018. She is beautiful and strong and capable and clever and funny. And she’s grieving. And despite her grieving, she attended my daughter’s funeral, “just because she happened to be in Europe at the time”. We are both in a WhatsApp group of five widbuds, all of whom were at Camp Widow. Our Whatsapp name is Mourning Glories, which I love and think is rather brilliant. That was Pamela’s idea.
Despite there being just five of us, we rarely go quiet on one another as a group. I am sure that once a week “something happens” to one of us. Something of a trigger. Something hard. A challenge outside of the normal challenge of grieving. A challenge where we just wish our partner were there with us to pick up and carry the blanket of weight for a while. Or at least a corner of it. Or failing that, just witness it being carried.
Like Pamela attending the funeral of a dear, way-too-young friend, and witnessing the left-behind wife, and 7- and 9-year old kids.
Like Charlotte packing up a holiday home in the mountains, putting belongings in boxes, crying out past memories and future dreams, then driving home alone, for hours, to an empty home.
Like me packing up my youngest child’s bedroom this week, two hours a day over five separate days, this time wisely accompanied by friends who care.Read more
I wish I could post the meme here that had me snorting water through my nose I laughed so hard.
Alas! I keep getting an error note, so I'll have to describe it and you envision it for yourself, okay?
The meme was 3 shrouded in black figures, riding one of the old timey merry go rounds.
The kind made of metal, and you'd hang on desperately as someone standing next to it whisked it faster and faster.
The words in the meme said when you and all your friends are dead inside and hate life but still have fun together.
Seriously. It was frickin' hysterical.
I laugh like a lunatic every time I see it.
Which is frequently, because I printed it out and put it on the wall next to my desk.Read more
This blog is a question for the Universe, I suppose.
Because I don't believe that there is a human alive, who has gone through this widowed life, who would have a ready answer for me.
I've stood in the middle of nowhere and cast my eyes up into azure blue skies...
I've stood outside on the darkest of dark nights with no light pollution around and let my eyes drift from one star to another...
I've stood in the midst of a crowd of people, all who love me...
I've stood with strangers...
I've been busy, I've distracted myself, I've practiced being in the moment, being still...
I've criss-crossed the country 8 times in these 6 1/2 years since Chuck's death...
I've workamped at an opera camp...
I've greeted thousands of guests as I worked the front gate of a Renaissance Faire...
I've done everything I could think of...
I've pushed into all that was in front of me...
And now I stand still and wonder...Read more
Sometimes I am surprised by moments that heal my in ways I never imagined on this journey of loss. I met Mike because I lost Drew. And I met his daughter Shelby because of that too. And because they lost a wife and mother. And here we are, this new little family sort of scrapped together from the pieces of past lives. There are more pieces too… from our childhood quilts as well. For me, the life when my mom was alive. The life when my dad was alive. All of the pieces are sewn together into this new life we’re sharing.
With so many old, tattered pieces, I think it’s easy to wonder if my parts of the quilt are strong enough. If my whole area of our shared quilt will just fall apart at any time. It’s easy for me to doubt my abilities to be a mom for example, because I lost my mom so young that I really feel like I am just flying blind. All I have to go off of is my dad’s parenting, and he wasn’t winning any parent-of-the-year awards, let me tell you!
Every so often though, there comes a moment when I really know, that I am not only rocking at living on as a widowed person - but that I am rocking this mom thing - even if all I have to go on is my own instincts and my dad’s poor parenting.
This past week was one of those moments for me. We had a big Halloween party for Shelby and all her friends. She’s in 7th grade now, and I’m trying to find ways to continue having big, amazing memories around Halloween with her now that she is getting older. Especially because I have heard so many stories from her about how much her mom loved Halloween. From the moment I met her, I knew that we needed to keep that Halloween spirit alive and big. In past years, that meant hand making amazing costumes together and going to a few fun Halloween events. Now that she is older though, I figured a party with her closest friends would be the way to go.Read more
Today is one of those exquisitely beautiful, bright autumn days. With temperatures that would feel “just right” on a mid-summer’s day, but with the added benefit of a gentle breeze to doubly kiss my bare skin as I sit now, in the garden, writing this piece.
I have been out on a “long run”. The kind of “long run” I do in the run-up to a half-marathon. I am registered for the one in Lausanne (Switzerland) just two weeks from now. Today should be my “peak distance” run, but because I have run so little, there was nothing noteworthy about this particular peak.
I was reflecting while I was out. I don’t take podcasts or music with me. For years I have allowed myself the privilege of total silence when out and about running – for mental space as well as personal safety reasons. Where I run, on fairly remote forest and mountain tracks, I need to be vigilant.
I was reflecting on how I had been in a conversation the night before with a dear friend whose friendship goes back now 28 years. She’s known me through all my losses. We don’t see each other much and when we talk there feels to be much to catch up on. But it’s work. Hard work. Going into my grief stories, trying to find words to articulate that for which there are no words is so painful. Tiring. It hurts. Particularly when it’s what I live day in day out.Read more
I can easily say that I do not reach out to Tin’s mother and family as much as I should. I want to speak with them but it’s hard for me and I feel like I am the immediate reminder, that I trigger all of the grief for them. These widowed weights on my shoulders press down hard at times. It’s a double-edged burden. I want to speak with them but I don’t want to upset them. So conversations don’t happen as often as they maybe should.Read more