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.
The face of grief is always changing. Grief never ends - it just shifts and changes, over and over and over again. The past few months, my grief tsunami has turned into something very different than ever before. I almost want to call it "profound", but that sounds too pompous. I do feel as if this past year or so, I have been able to dig deeper into the abyss than ever before. I have reached inside, pulled out pain, and then started to make some sense of it, like solving a puzzle. Piece by piece, the joy inside the life that I have now, today, is starting to emerge.
It is my belief that in order to get here, I had to feel and analyze and break down and sit with every single fragment of my grief. It was probably the hardest thing I ever did. I am not finished. I might not ever be. There is no finish line - only sharp turns of major growth and awakening. But every single day, I wake up in a new way, all over again. I wake up with the knowledge that I am still and always learning.Read more