Last Thursday, all of my closest friends flew in from around the country for our annual trip to see each other. Since 2012, when Drew died, we have been making it a point to come from far and wide to spend a weekend together celebrating his life and our friendships. We call it Drewfest, and this year was our sixth year. It was the first year having this celebration in Ohio, which was a big deal for both Mike and I.
I can hardly find the words to express how much this group of people means to me. I honestly believe they have made one of the biggest differences in how well I have coped with and healed these past 6 years. They are one of my strongest connections to Drew, because they were there for so much of the happy memories and good times - sharing alongside he and I. I know without a doubt they miss him the same way I do. And I know they remember all the good times as much as me. When we are together, we all feel closer to him.
They also remember the hard times, because they were there for that too. In the weeks and months after Drew died, these were the friends that showed up for me in countless ways and helped to carry me through. They were my rock. They may never really know just how much of a difference their presence has made.
Six years later, they’ve never left. Even though our lives continue on. As I found new love, they welcomed it. As some of us left Texas for Ohio, California, and Florida, we started video calling each other to stay close. So much living has happened since that difficult day in June of 2012. Good and hard times both. And still these friendships have remained. Even though sometimes we may not catch up for months at a time, I know they are there. I know because we have been through an unthinkable fire together and that fire has strengthened our friendship. It is the one greatest gift that Drew continues to give us…Read more
So the book I have been writing about my husband's death, and life in the aftermath, is finished. It is now in editing, and should be ready for publication for July 13th. One of the sections in the book is called "Words About Don", where I asked a handful of his close friends and family to write up a few words/couple of paragraphs or so, about a memory, or what Don meant to them, or anything they felt like saying about Don Shepherd. I have been receiving the last of these writing pieces over the past few weeks, to be added to my draft. Yesterday, I received one from Don's very best friend - his EMS partner on the ambulance for years out in Florida, and his Best Man at our wedding. This man and his wife drove 24 hours from Florida to New Jersey, on very short notice, to be there at Don's funeral and honor him. They were the kind of friends who felt like and thought of each other as brothers.Read more
The fact that a decades old friendship is dead in the water and it doesn’t bother me says to me that it’s been floating belly up for some time, and I just never really noticed.
Friendships die for various reasons; it can be something small that suddenly becomes a catalyst, or it can be something big and you just can’t ignore it.Read more
Yesterday I accompanied some friends to what I thought was going to be a Fourth of July party at the beach here in Kona. When I arrived, the host, dressed in white with a beautiful lei, handed me a program…we were actually there for a surprise wedding! A few people, it turns out, had known, but I had no idea. I had only seen my friend with her new boyfriend out and about and they looked really happy together…and I knew my friend had faced some scary health issues in the past year, so that made me doubly happy she was doing so well.Read more
This week Mike, Shelby and I are in Texas. It’s the first trip we are taking down to my home state together since I moved. We have spent the weekend with all of my oldest and best friends, having our annual camping trip. It’s a trip we’ve done ever since Drew died… and this is the first year that everyone has been able to make it.
These past few days have been so bittersweet… not only for me, but for my friends too. We all cannot help but feel Drew’s absence. One of my friends seemed very quiet the other night, and then pulled me aside after a while and explained that he was just really missing him here, and having a tough time with it. I told him, of course, me too… as there’s been a few times I’ve shed tears since we got here.Read more
Death is never far from my mind. That probably resonates with plenty of other widowed people, as well as some who have suffered the passing of someone close to them. This past month, a friend of mine died, far too young. But my mom’s friend died too, which was very sad and perhaps unnecessary given the particular circumstances. Another extended family member was also lost, and a family friend is entering hospice. And we have another new writer here at Widow’s Voice. While I am happy to welcome her to this wonderful organization, it is always a terrible thing too, to be here where we are.
A friend died this week - far too soon. A very dear, sisterly, special person I had known and loved for many years. Our friendship had suffered since Mike died…for a lot of reasons…they are personal and not for public airing. But there is no blame to pass around. Relationships can be complicated. And they can be further complicated when someone we love dies. She definitely suffered after losing her Dad, whom she was very close with, and then Mike, within months of each other. My husband had been an important brother/teacher/counselor/mentor figure to her, as he had been to so many others. She was just never the same after that. I will always believe, regardless of the medical reasons why her body shut down, that her life was, quite simply, cut short by grief.
I write a lot about how strange and even unrecognizable my life is now. I can’t explain exactly how I got here, but I can tell you a little about what it’s like, just over three years after my husband died.
It's less than a week until Mike and I will be flying down to Tampa for Camp Widow. It's so surreal to think of all that has happened in a year. Life is no less complicated than it ever has been, in fact more so for me. It's a good complicated, but that doesn't make it easy. I was talking with another widow friend the other day about this. Like me, she is in a new relationship now. It was such a relief when she told me she feels so much grumpier all the time now than in her past relationship with her late-husband.
I think my mouth hung open when she said this. "My God," I thought to myself, "it isn't just me!" And suddenly I was reminded of the power of those four little words...
In the Chinese zodiac, Mike was a snake. He was born in 1953 which was the water snake. Each animal has five elements, so being that the animals recur every 12 years, if you multiply that by the five elements, the exact animal under which you were born doesn’t reappear again until you are 60.
Mike’s full-cycle water snake began February 9, 2013. He died exactly one week later. Almost to the hour, if you count that it begins on the hour of the new moon.
I’m not an astrology freak, but I do notice such things out of curiosity and interest. I happen to be a monkey, in the Chinese astrology. This year of 2016 is the year of the monkey. The fire monkey, to be exact. My birth water monkey will occur in the next cycle in 2028, when I turn 60. So when I realized the timing of this, it took on a level of grave importance to my small life. This was to be the last full cycle before my birth animal…the one which took Mike.