The year was 2005, and it was a cold day in February.
I looked out the window of my New Jersey apartment, which sat on the Hudson River. NYC looked back at me.
I put the coffee pot on, and started making the meatballs and sauce. My Nana Mary's lasagna recipe, with bow tie pasta and meatballs and ribs on the side.
I had made it for Don the first time we met in person, about 3 years after we began talking in that music chat trivia room.
He had flown all the way from Florida to Jersey, to meet me, to stay with me for a few days, to fall in love.
I took him into my apartment on that day, and we sat at my kitchen table and shared our first meal together.
That was the first time he said to me: "My Boo makes the bestest food ever! I could get used to this!"
So, here I was , a few years later, making it again, in anticipation of his arrival.
Except this time, I would not have to say goodbye at the end of a few days.
This time, he was staying.
Don Shepherd was moving in with me on that day.
He had his whole life inside that Penske truck that was attached to his 1997 Grand Prix car -
soon he would be pulling up onto my street, and emptying out everything he owned out of that truck and into my small apartment.
Soon, my small apartment would become "our" small apartment.
His cat Isabelle that sat in his lap while he drove, would become "our" cat.
Soon, we would begin our life together.
It was Superbowl Sunday,
and the start of a brand new life.
When Tin passed away, my social media was flooded with posts and photos showing just how much he was loved and how much support I had to lean on taking my first steps on this new beach. Each day had been continued support helping me step forward and weather the waves.Read more
This past week, some married friends went away on a family vacation, and asked me and Nick if we could stay at their house for 5 days while they were gone, dog-sitting and house-sitting. We were both happy to do it. Not only did it help our friends out, but it also gave us an opportunity to spend some quality alone time together. Without getting into too much detail here, our current living situations are not ideal, and do not allow us much private time at all. So a whole week in a big house together, alone with a dog, sounded like heaven.
It was. Well, my version of heaven anyway. Entire hours and days where we could freely kiss one another or hold each other's hand or reach out and flirtatiously grab the other's waist or ass, without anyone nearby or looking. Cooking and eating meals together, making shopping lists of what things we needed to buy to be prepared for the week ahead. Putting on meditation music to sleep at night, or other varied music throughout the day to help create different moods. Relaxing on the couch watching a hockey game or a movie, our legs wrapped around each other or me leaning my head against his shouder. Having my brother over for homemade pizza and some overdue chat time - meeting Nick's sister for a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Staying in on New Years Eve and making tortellini and sausage with marinara sauce and garlic bread together. These are the things that I now cherish, in this new version of life.Read more
I was sick during the entire 12 days of Christmas. And counting. I lost last Tuesday, thinking it was still Monday, when it was actually Wednesday. Also, I thought last year was 2019 already.
I'm so out of it.
I could blame illness. Widows Fog. General lack of interest in Time itself. So many things.
What I choose to blame is that my creative brain is in process, and that kind of takes over.
Let's go with that.Read more
I’ve made it through our anniversary, his birthday, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving and now Christmas. Each one felt empty in ways I couldn’t explain. You truly don’t realize how much a person is part of you until that part is suddenly gone. I made a point for me to be back home with my family for Christmas. My career has made me miss many holidays with family but I couldn’t miss this one. I’d feel too lonely, or so I thought…Read more
Widows scare people, I think.
Even if they (we) are ordinary in appearance.
No warts on our long noses.
No narrow, scraggly, fingers with sharp nails (for poking).
I'm describing witches.Read more
This week I began work on a goal that has taken me a long time to believe I could accomplish. It may seem like something very small to most people, but for me, it has been a hurdle all my life. This week, I have started swim lessons.
Something most people don’t know about me is that I’ve always been uncomfortable in the water. I never took swim lessons and though I can swim, I don’t do it well. I’m about the slowest swimmer there is, I hate the feeling of water in my eyes, I almost always have to hold my nose under water, and treading water is enough to send me into a mild panic and have me swimming for shallow ground. It has always been a frustration for me, and occasionally embarrassing. Worst of all, it’s something I have believed that I can never change about myself. And the root of it comes from not trusting myself to be able to keep myself safe in water.
I have always marveled at people who appear to be completely comfortable in water. Drew was like that, like a fish. And Mike even more-so since he was a diver in school and taught swim lessons. I have watched them both in complete awe.
I’ve believed all my life that I can never have that sort of safe feeling in water. That it’s just not in the cards for me. For years, I’ve wanted to at least try to challenge that belief. So this past week, Mike and I got a membership to an indoor pool for the winter, and he has started working with me.
After just two lessons at the pool with Mike, there I was, just effortlessly treading water like I’ve been doing it forever. Suddenly all the fear went away. All the panic and anxiousness that I have felt my ENTIRE life in deep water… GONE. I couldn’t even believe those feelings could vanish so quickly. And suddenly, for the first time ever, I began to feel some glimmer of that comfortable feeling in water that I have envied in others all these years. Some glimmer of trusting myself in the water. Even more importantly, I challenged a limiting belief about myself, and I decided that I don’t believe it anymore. With his help, I am beginning to trust that I can do this.
One of the things I am most grateful for in this widow journey is the people who have been willing to help me stay afloat...Read more
"I don't have any reason, dont wanna waste more time
Im in a New York state of mind......."
Ah yes, Billy Joel had it right with that song.
Its been about 17 months since I left NYC, my second home, to move back to my home state of Massachusetts, finish my book, and see what comes next. I didnt expect to find love here in smalltown Mass, and I didnt expect for that love to provide not only the perfect ending to my book, but a new lease and purpose on life in addition. When I left NYC, in my heart, it was temporary. I kept saying: "I can always come back." But somewhere deep inside, I knew that my soul was being eaten alive by NYC, and my wallet too. So, I have made a lot of visits, and almost every one of them was because I had something professional or career-related going on in the city; a book signing event, a comedy show, this time its a TV taping on the local cable show OPEN TO HOPE. I will be one of a 3-person panel of widowed authors - me , Michelle Miller, and John Polo. We will talk about our books and about grief and loss. It will air at a later time. The evening before the taping, on Friday night, (this will post Friday for you all, but Im writing it Wednesday evening) the three of us will host a fun Karaoke Book-signing party in the city, sort of a "Meet and Greet" with anyone who wants to come out. In between all of that, I will see some friends and have some fun. Back to my NYC people. My NYC vibe.Read more
In my 38 years, I have never once not been with my parents on either Christmas eve or Christmas day. Even when I was in the military, I lucked out in that I wasn’t deployed over Christmas, and I was able to drive from North Carolina to Ohio, even if only for a 48 hour visit. Since 2002, I’ve added Megan’s family to that tradition, always ensuring that my second family was part of the holidays, but simply splitting time between both.
It was convenient that both my family and Megan’s family lived within 15 minutes of each other, and we never lived farther than 30 minutes away from either. Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas day with hers.
Since Megan’s death, that tradition has remained the same. Now, however, there’s a third and fourth family.Read more
Last night, I saw the film "Bohemain Rhapsody" with my love, Nick.
Everything having anything to do with music always makes me think of Don.
It just does.
Our connection was largely based in music. We met through music. We played and sang music together.
We introduced each other to lots of musicians and artists to listen to.
Don used music and strumming his guitar, as his biggest coping mechanism to get through the trauma he saw on the job.
To get through most hard things.
He would disappear into music, play his guitar for a couple hours in solitude, and then he would be okay.
Don and I connected through music.Read more