After our income fell drastically, we moved into a one-bedroom apartment at a great location; it’s only a 20 minute walk to Anisha’s school. However, it is not a big, character home like the ones her two best friends live in. Recently she said, “I wish we lived in a big house like my friends.” I can’t describe how hard the reduced income has been on me. For me it’s a lot harder than for my daughter because she doesn’t know any better since she doesn’t recall our previous home. I know I should not compare families. Various parent friends have told me, “Nothing good comes from comparing your family to other families. I know all of this, yet I still get frustrate when I see, or at least I think I see, other people enjoying easier lives.Read more
Last night, I went to a party at a friend’s house and she had a woman doing henna tattoos there. It’s been ages since I’ve had one, probably 15 years ago in college. As I thumbed through the many designs in her notebook, one caught my eye of a sun and moon. I had her do that design, and add stars. As she worked on painting the delicate lines on my arm, I shared that they were each symbolic of the people I love who I have lost. The sun for my dad, the moon for my mom, and the stars for Drew.
For the rest of the evening, I looked down at my arm constantly. I’ve never had a real tattoo, but I couldn’t deny that there was some feeling of rightness about this symbol on my arm. This symbol that told a piece of my story, about some of the most important people in my life who have made me who I am today. To wear my story on my arm, where the world can see it, but only I really know the meaning of it… there was a rightness to it. It made me think how much I’d like to look down at my arm and have these symbols for these people there forever. And it made me wonder why on earth I’ve still not gotten a permanent tattoo like this.Read more
January is when Megan was first diagnosed with chronic organ transplant rejection. February is Shelby’s birthday. May is Mother’s Day, June is when she was admitted to the hospital, never to come home again, July is her birthday, August is our anniversary, September is when the next year of school starts for Shelby, October is my birthday, November is when she died, and December, is well, the “holidays”.
March and April though have no special “milestones”. I can’t really think of any specific memories or significant happenings that have or will occur as it relates to Megan and her death. I get to “coast” through these months, in a sense, fairly comfortable with believing that I shouldn’t have any “predetermined” triggers.Read more
So this is how his birthday went this year…
I woke up, and actually did not even remember it was his birthday for maybe an hour or two. After I’d dropped the kiddo off at school, I ran to the grocery store for a few things. And that’s when I remembered. Only it didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. It didn’t stop me in my tracks. It was actually more of a gentle, and even exciting feeling.
A lot of you know I lost my mom when I was a kid. My family didn’t really do grief all that well, and mostly our tactic was to just pretend feelings and dead people didn’t exist. So I grew up with the feeling that, when people die, you don’t get to celebrate them anymore. Sorry, it’s done. You aren’t allowed that anymore.
In my mid twenties, I started to question the way my family did grief though. I began desiring a connection to my mom. At some point, I decided that I was the only one who got to decide what my relationship with her was going to be. And I decided that just because she died, it did NOT mean that I don’t HAVE a mom. It did not mean that I no longer get to celebrate her or share my life with her. So I began creating rituals of my own to build that connection.
Little did I know I would be using those same sort of rituals to honor my fiance in just a few more short years from that time.Read more
I know what it means to be sad, afraid and angry, but what does it mean to be truly, truly happy? Lately, I find myself feeling more and more bored with life—and it’s not the kind of boredom that comes from depression. It is a very different kind of boredom because it is SO much lighter! It is hard to explain, but it just feels lighter. Depression boredom is heavy and is based on a bunch of fearful thoughts that lead nowhere good.Read more
Holy shit, is it a real thing.
Michele, thankfully, speaks about it each year, prior to Sunday morning breakfast.
Fair warning of gales ahead, campers.
Brace yourselves.Read more
For much of my life, I have been what can best be described as “grumpy”. I’ve tended to over-react and or see the worst in things, and myself. Something as simple as going to the grocery store brought out a part of me that only wanted to see the worst of humanity, followed by a reaction resembling anger, then followed by regret and shame at said reaction. It’s a vicious cycle that culminated in my general tendency to either want to be completely introverted, or to only seek out things that allow me to be alone, yet enjoy an activity.
I always find something to blame for these traits. Work is stressful, money is tight, bills are too high, it’s too cold for too long, I don’t have enough time in a day, or any other number of outside influencers gave me an “excuse” to just be angry or reactionary to the tiniest little stressors in life. More often than not, I placed the blame squarely on myself. I couldn’t handle work, I spent too much money or signed up for needless services. I’m too stupid to put a coat on and go outside, or I’m just plain lazy, and not using the time I DO have effectively.
In some ways, Megan’s health masked this. I was so laser focused on her well-being that I didn’t ever take the time to self-examine and really try to figure out why I am the way I am. Honestly, after her first transplant and subsequent relative good health, I didn’t know what to do with myself other than self-deprecate and become introverted. It caused issues. She finally had the ability to enjoy life, and I wanted only to sit in the house and “relax”.Read more
I don’t know if it’s the glimmer of hope for being thru the worst of the cold, cloudy days or just that I am trying to be mindful to reconnect with my sillier side lately. Either way, I’ve been watching funny movies more, making my loved ones laugh more, and even just being sillier when I’m home all alone. I’ve started working on a photography project that is very new and fun too. It’s unlike the fine art type of work I usually create - and I’m finding there is a lightness to the fact that it is so opposite of what I’m used to. It feels more like play than work.
Creating fine art photography honestly has begun to feel more like work these days. Or at least I feel too much internal pressure to do my fine art a certain way and then it starts to feel heavy. And I start to overthink things and question myself. That leads no where good. And it’s something I’ve struggled with when I try and put all of my attention on my art.
This little side project is a nice break from that so far. A nice exploration of how else I can enjoy taking photos. And with any luck, I might be able to really build it into a nice little side job. Either way, it feels nice to be doing something new and not be putting a bunch of pressure on myself to do it any certain way. It feels good to be stretching new creative muscles and trying new things and just saying “Hey, let’s see where this goes!”
I think in life and in grief, it’s so important to have things like that to lighten the load - or maybe help us put that load down for just a few moments or hours each week.Read more
I met Christina Rasmussen, from Second Firsts, early in my widowhood, on her first book tour.
She was in Boston and I was in NH, so I drove to the book store holding the event, and heard her speak for the first time.
It didn't change the emotions of my widowhood, but her words, her philosophy about life after loss touched me deeply.
It was my first true indication that I wasn't alone on this road.Read more
Eleven months and from the outside I have everything together but on the inside I still am an unorganized man just trying to make it day by day. There are dishes in the sink since Tuesday. I haven’t vacuumed in a week and my dog hasn’t had nearly enough of my attention.Read more