I was asked recently to speak at an AA meeting in my old community in NJ.
I’ll be traveling there at the end of this week. It’s been 3 years since I’ve connected with family and friends there. Family and friends who knew Chuck, who knew me when I was with Chuck.
Memories will hit hard. I’m not trying to set myself up for that; I’m merely acknowledging the fact.
Family and friends will surround me with Love.
That’s a good thing.
So the topic of the particular meeting that I’m speaking at is “gratitude”, which is a really tough word for me to grasp.
Because here’s the truth of the truth of the tree of life that is my life since Chuck died…
I don’t feel gratitude for anything in my life. I know that’s a terrible, forbidden thing to say, in life, but, I think, especially as a widow.
We’re supposed to have gratitude for, I don’t know…everything.
But it’s hard to feel gratitude anything when I don’t feel gratitude for life.
Which is also practically sinful to say, I realize. How can anyone not feel gratitude for being alive?
Alas and alack…I don’t.Read more
He loved my smile.
And, let me tell you, I smiled a lot because of him.
I loved my life - when he was in it.
I wore my smile like a permanent accessory
because my life was beautiful.
Our joy permeated the air around us.
Our laughter echoed off every one near us.
Our words to one another were always heartfelt.
We looked at each other with a love that others could feel.
Our smiles were effortless.
Life was good,
And, this is an understatement.
Life with Mike was spontaneous and full of adventure. When he was alive I couldn't wipe the smile from my face because the life we were building together was so breathtakingly beautiful. We "had the world by the ass" as he would say. Mike loved a good swear word and I know that's not everyone's cup of tea; but, we were coffee drinkers... it is what it is.
Many of our joy filled conversations came complete with a few saucy swear words - thrown in for emphasis - because that's how he rolled. He tended to speak colorfully because he literally couldn't contain his excitement. Mike was so in love with life and everything around him that he just blurted things out. The crazy things that would fly out of his mouth made my life. He taught me how to live with wild abandon. And, I'm better for it.
When he spoke, sometimes he could be a bit brash, but he got away with it because of his smooth delivery. Once in a while the refined, cautious people would look at him sideways, or glance in my direction to confirm that their ears heard what he said. I'd knowingly smile because everything he spoke was accurate, albeit somewhat uncouth. Mike could always be counted on to state the unrefined truth. He was bright. He saw the world and the people in it exactly as they were. And, Mike definitely wasn't uncomfortable calling out what he saw. He taught me to speak the truth confidently. And, again, I am better for it.
Mike was a talker and he knew how to say the most audacious things with a twinkle in his eyes. He spoke with a simple honesty that was admirable and refreshing. Essentially, he was impulsive; and, a big kid at heart. Mike was animated and he had a larger than life personality. He saw the world in a whimsical way. It was a privilege for me to see life through his eyes. With Mike, my life became bolder and more magical. And, I am a better woman for sharing part of my life with him.
It was a wild ride wandering through life with him by my side.
from the moment my eyes opened,
I had a smile smeared across my face .
Life was big and bold and fun with Mike.
we were having the time of our lives.
was as natural as breath.
I miss living like this. Our life was rich. I have never lived with such enchantment in all my life. I miss the rapture he gave me. I miss the gush of excitement he brought to the ordinary. I desperately miss how he made me laugh. The depth of my laughter was different when I was with him. I often wonder if I will ever laugh that way again. I hope I do. And, in truth, I know that I will because he won't have it any other way; and...
Photo credit: opticalillusionphotos.blogspot.ca
It's been almost fifteen months since Mike died and people around me presume that I am adjusting to life without him. With no experience to draw on, most people believed that the bereaved heal with time. As you know, this is not completely correct. Grief is an active process. With every breathe we take, we work towards finding peace and purpose in our new, changed lives. I believe that grief requires us to actively participate in our own re-birth.
The truth is, I have not "adjusted" to Mike's death. At this time, I exist in a life that I barely recognize. It feels like my old life was hijacked. And, now, I feel removed from my own existence. I sense that I am being forced to live a new life; and compared to my old life, this new existence is lack lustre. Most days, it feels like I am masquerading in someone else's life. I do not want to live this facade. I miss Mike and I want my former life back.
At this point, I can not accept that Mike is gone from the physical dimension where I exist. The permanence of his absence is overwhelming and it nauseates me. Mike's death is not something that I will easily get used to. Mike wasn't a gold fish. I can't just flush the toilet, forget about him and carry on. It is going to take a hell of a lot longer than fifteen months for me to adapt to Mike dying.
Acquaintances in my life see me working, raising kids, and socializing. They believe the illusion that I'm "getting on with my life". They think I've got this. I wish they were right. But,
I don't really have anything particular to write about this week. No news on the house, work is going, school is going.
In the middle of it all, I am feeling that ring of sadness around it all. Sad that my life has changed so much as a result of losing Mike, sad that he isn't here to share it with anymore, sad that my future will not include him.
Just the normal, obvious feelings of grief that don't go away.
The “big day” was this past Friday, the court date for the preliminary hearing for my foreclosure mediation. And it was just a lot of build up for nothing. It got postponed until June 17. Some guy who was supposed to be there wasn’t and the judge wasn’t happy…ultimately I think it’s going to look good for me.
I feel compelled, now that I’ve passed the 3 year mark of my widowhood (as of April 21), to write one of those numbered lists of what helped me get through to this mark...
Really, honestly, though, I couldn’t tell you how I’ve gotten here. All I can tell you is that I look in the mirror at myself and ask how the FUCK have you done this? How have you survived for 3 fucking years with Chuck’s absence when you couldn’t imagine one fucking minute without him?
How have you done this?Read more
At work the other day I was chatting with one of the young ladies who works at the coffee shop across the way. I had mentioned my late husband in conversation and this girl, young enough to be my daughter, immediately expressed her sorrow for me and went on to tell me about her beloved stepfather who died five years ago. She said he had been her mother’s true love, and they all missed him so deeply. She said no one gets over the loss; our grief goes on, we just learn to live with it. She showed me the ring she wore that bore his name and expressed how much it meant to her.
"They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak." from The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
This quote is from a story by Tim O'Brien about men who were in the Vietnam war. It is a classic story that speaks to the universal themes of memory and loss. As I reflect upon the year of writing that I have shared with you, and this, my last blog post as Monday's Writer for Widow's Voice, I am moved by these words.
In this blog, and as members of a community for which no one wants to qualify, we carry each other. We lift each other up and bear witness to the things that others can't bear to see. We carry each other through the most difficult and terrifying moments of our lives.
We sit with each other in silence when there are no easy words or platitudes to fix our sorrows. We stand together, as different as we are, in age, ethnicity, status, and country of origin, and help each other navigate this bewildering landscape of grief.
We know that the people 'out there', who have not seen what we've seen, cannot begin to understand what sits so solidly in our minds and hearts: that there is so much pain, and so much beauty; that we grieve because we loved; that we don't know how we are going to get through each day, but that, somehow, for some reason, we are still here; that gradually, so slowly, we begin to enter into the world of the living again,but that we will never 'get over' this loss; that there is nothing to get over; that we carry them with us, and will continue to carry them, for the rest of our days.Read more