In two days it will be two years and eight months since Mike died. Some days it seems like he’s been gone eternally longer than that…other days it seems like yesterday. Time is a strange thing.
The other morning I was doing some organizing and I did what I do occasionally which is to check in a certain box to be sure our wedding rings and other special bits are still where they should be. I loved wearing that ring…without really thinking I put it on my finger again. I’m not sure why. Just for a moment to feel it there and close my eyes and remember what it felt like to be his wife…the memory of the wedding on the beach in Maui all those years ago, the disbelief that it’s all over now. Nearly fourteen years of wearing that ring so proudly, so comfortably, it had become like a part of me. I still have an indentation in that finger and often wonder how long that will be there.
It's been a long week. Most of my stuff has sat in storage since Drew died three years ago. And before that, probably half those boxes hadn't been opened in years. With the move to Ohio in just a few weeks, it's time to finally tackle this.
I decided that I didn't want to take any extra baggage (literally) with me on this new venture, and that means I'm opening up every last box. I'm pulling out a million different little pieces of myself from long ago... and deciding which pieces I want to keep and which I want to leave behind.
It's been emotional. To dig through my past and remember who I used to be. A lot has happened to me that isn't just the grief over my fiance. Death, alcoholism, family dystunction, abuse...I haven't had the worst life by far, but it hasn't been easy.
Revisiting the boxes reminded me of how I spent the first 25 years of my life in survival mode. There was never stability, or healthy relationships, or a feeling of safety in my world. There was never room to put down the armor and just relax into life. Not until I met Drew...Read more
The more I learn and understand about the grieving process, the more I also clearly see how deeply our culture is uninformed about it and how horribly damaging it can be to some of us already damaged by the loss itself. So be forewarned: this post is a bit of a rant.
Like his parents, Drew's aunt is someone I've gotten much closer to since he died. Yesterday was our first time visiting since I went up to Ohio last month. I went to help her move some furniture out of her uncle's garage. The 2 hour drive out to his place was just what we needed to catch up on all that is changing in our lives with my move to Ohio. Not just my life... our lives. This move of mine is affecting all of us. His parents, who I have lived with since he died... who have become my own family in the process. My closest friends, who I will be very far away from for the first time since we all met 7 or 8 years ago. And everyone else close in my life in some way.
Sometimes life brings you odd reminders though of just how beautiful and seamless even the most complex situations can be. While with Drew's aunt yesterday, over at her uncle's house, we began looking at pictures up on the walls. In the hallway was a wall full of old photos, in particular a collage frame with 20-30 photos arranged all together. He stood and shared with us about all the pictures, who they were, who had died, etc. Brothers and sisters, aunt and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents and moms and dads. On the surface, it looks like anyone's family collage on the wall. But there was something very unique about this particular college that really stood out to me...Read more
This is not the first time I’ve sat down to write about this, but it’s the first time I feel ready to publish it because I’ve finally told my parents what happened. It’s not the easiest thing to write about – and I didn’t want them to find out about it by reading it here.Read more
I'm back in Texas this week, after having visited Mike for two weeks. My last day there, we drove up to Niagara Falls to meet up with my sister and her family. It was her first time meeting him and his daughter Shelby, and it was wonderful to see how well he fit in. Again, just like with my friends, he fit into the picture eerily as well as Drew. Only it didn't feel like he was replacing him at all, but more like honoring his space. My sister adored Shelby. Since she raised three boys, she's pretty excited about the prospect of a new little girl in our world. It was all so seamless.
This was Shelby's first time to see Niagara Falls, as Mike and Megan never made it up with her for a visit. It was so much fun to be a part of that experience, of one of her firsts. In such a short time, she has stolen my heart (which she seems to do with everyone) and I can literally sit around for hours and just watch her experiencing the world and being her goofy self. I am always seeing myself in her too. I am daily reminded of the little girl I was, who also lost her mom around the same age and had a similar spunk and charisma. With every joy and every sorrow she has, I see some bit of me. I also see a different girl, who is already living a very different version of this story than I did...Read more
I’m writing this from my parent’s home in Virginia…the house where I grew up, so many thousands of miles from where I now call home. In the past week I’ve also spent time in Austin for a business convention and New Orleans to visit my stepdaughter and her family. I am glad I could work in a visit to my folks while I’m on the mainland…throughout it all, if you’ve read my past posts about traveling this summer, is the constant thought of where I may end up in this wide, wide world. Truly I don’t know, but I am viewing every city with renewed interest and fervent curiosity as I seriously consider the possibility that sometime in the next few years I might take that leap back to the mainland, at least for a while. There is just so much out here to see and experience. Sometimes I really feel like I’m missing out, though I know I’m so lucky to live in Hawaii for so many reasons.Read more
It's official. Last night, I signed a lease agreement for the rental house. (As you can see, Mike's daughter Shelby is just as excited as I am) So... as of the end of next month, I will be packing up everything I own and moving to Ohio. This whole thing is so surreal and honestly doesn't feel real at all. The house is amazing... twice the size of anything I've ever had. It sits at the end of a beautifully wooded street on the outskirts of town, with small 5 acre farms and little ponds dotting all along the road. For a gal who's only lived in 600 square foot city apartments her whole adult life, it sure is surreal to imagine waking up to a view of trees and gardens and ponds and flowers. In the winter, fields of fresh snow blankets will stretch out several acres from my front door. I can hardly even imagine this little slice of heaven practically jumped into my lap. I've been totally terrifified to move so far from home, but I really do feel like all of this would not be aligning if it wasn't meant to happen. So despite my fears, I am trusting the universe, letting go of the fear, and leaning into it.
So, how does this feel, to be leaving behind the state I have lived in all my life and all the places I built memories with Drew before he died? To be leaving behind my closest friends and some of my family? It felt really sad at first, I've cried a lot in the past few months over the prospect of moving far away. Until I got up here and realized... I'm not leaving any of that behind. We'll still talk all the time, and I'll still be sharing everything that happens on this new adventure with them. And in that way, teveryone back home is always with me. Similarly, Drew is always with me too.Read more
My car is dead.
Mike and I bought our Subaru in 2005 anticipating the arrival of his girls on the island; at the time we had only his pickup truck - which I still have - so we needed more of a family car.
It’s funny how cars hold such a sentimental value. I’ve been asked several times if I’d sell his truck: NO WAY. It’s old, dirty and rusty but still runs great and it would never be worth in money what it is to me. He LOVED that truck. In fact, I have kept it pretty much as he left it. A pair of his shoes are in the cab along with the emergency kit he insisted on, and in the glove box are the gloves and do-rag he used when we rode his bicycle. Tarps, bungee cords, and other baubles he collected are in the toolbox along with the gloves he used when he went to the dump. I still use those same gloves every time I go now.Read more
I feel as if I’m living life with each foot in a different world. One is still firmly planted in the life I shared with Mike. The imprint, not just of Mike himself, but of the life we had together, the World of Mike and Steph, is always there. I never stop wondering what we would be doing now were he still alive…I never stop referring to him, either out loud or just to myself, in regards to so many little situations that arise…oh Mike would have said this, or thought that. And all the little pieces of him around me…pictures, a few of his belongings…simply being in the house we shared together, the dishes he used, the appliances he bought…a memory erupts every time I touch one. The old world comes surging back and I can’t stop it.