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
Why do you let my grief scare you?
Why can’t I just talk about Natasha how ever I want? She was MY wife, not yours!
Why can’t you just listen and try not to fix me? “You just need to focus on your daughter’s smile, and everything will be alright.”
Why do you give me an arbitrary timeline and act as if it is the word of some God? “So, how long has it been since your wife died?”
Why do you try to insist on measuring the severity of my grief by saying, “So, have you been dating?”
Why do you need to suggest that a man needs a woman to raise a girl, “Girls need a mother, it’s just good for them.”?
Wow, you really are an expert on grief! So have you ever lost a spouse, no? How about a parent, sibling, or good friend, no? I guess you haven’t had much experience with grief, yet you are so wise when it comes to my grief.
I know, I should relax, you are a good person and you are just trying to help, and, maybe I am being too sensitive.
All I ask, please let my grief be just the way it is.Read more
I miss him, I miss him, I miss him.
Why did this have to happen?
How do I come to a place where things make more sense?
How do I blend my life today with the life I never finished?
Why do I get to keep living and he doesnt?
How will it ever be okay that he won't experience new things?
Will the missing of him ever get less intense?
How do I stop being terrified about things that havent even happened yet?
Will I ever be at peace with death itself?Read more
I have always hated change. Especially when something would change drastically or quickly, and I didnt have much choice in the matter. Like that time when I was about 7 years old and we went on a class field trip to a Maple Farm, and I somehow ended up with a gigantic ball of maple syrup in my long, curly, gorgeous hair. And then my dad, for reasons I cant quite remember (maybe my mom was away on business or something), took scissors, and CUT OFF MY HAIR so that it went from being down to my waist, to just below my ears. He couldnt get the huge ball of syrup out, so he cut it all off without telling me first. It was just suddenly gone.
Or that other time when 3rd grade ended, and the town decided that the street we lived on would no longer have bus pickup to school, and that instead we would be "bussed" over to the new school that was on the other end of town, because we were considered part of that district or county or whatever. So with no notice at all, I had to leave all my friends and go to this other school that I didnt want to go to.
There are so many other examples, but these two were the first that came into my mind.
So you can tell Im not bitter about them or anything.Read more
How many of us had dreamed of being super heroes when we were younger? Pulled between imagining magic powers and wishing we were older so we could do whatever we want and “oh how perfect life would be”. It’s true when they say to be careful what you wish for…Read more
the most important part
of the journey
is just deciding to go.”
I read this quote the other day in a book and I liked it. I tend to spend too much time overthinking things and not enough time just doing them. So this was refreshing to read. But it also got me thinking about widowhood, and decisions. And how much of the difficulty about loss in general is the lack of control we have. The fact that there are usually so many decisions that we either did not get to make, or never wanted to have to make. It really has a whole lot of different meanings depending on where you’re coming from.
Most of all, though, this quote makes me think back to on the different journeys that I am glad I did decide to go on. Of how glad I am I decided to date that cocky, goofy pilot. Even though I knew his work was dangerous and he could someday die doing it - which of course he did. Even though I’d been in an abusive relationship before him, and I was scared to get close to anyone again. Even though it all felt terribly scary, and I tried to run away from it, eventually I just decided to go on that journey with him. And once I decided, everything else was the most incredible ride. He changed my whole view of men, and of love, and of myself in the best of ways. And even though he did die, the changes he made in my life did not. That decision changed who I was forever - so he has never left me.
I am glad I decided to leave the city we lived in together, and leave my career, and leave all my friends behind. Even though that was hard too… I just knew, after he was gone, I couldn’t be there without him. I knew I had to decide to just go. And take some new chances. And yet again, once I made the decision, things fell into place to help it happen. His family supported me through it all, and I made new friendships and grew as a person in ways I never would have had I not decided to go.
And then I met Mike, 4 years ago this week actually. I knew within that very first meeting that if I decided to keep knowing this man, he was going to change my entire life all over again - just like Drew had. It was scary for sure, because I didn’t really feel ready for so much change. But I decided to go, and things unfolded. And here we are four years later… miraculously carving out a new life in the aftermath of losing both our partners. On a journey of firsts together, trying to figure out what it means to be in love again and also love the ones we’ve lost. And deciding each day what that means for us, and what we want to create this new love to be.
All of the best parts of my life have always been the results of those moments I decided to just go. And sure, they have also led to an unfathomable amount of pain sometimes… but isn’t that life? We aren’t owed easy. We aren’t owed a perfectly happy, painless life. We aren’t owed anything at all really. I realize that’s not everyone’s favorite thing to hear, but it’s true. It's not the whole story though...Read more
Anniversaries are, in general, a prompt for looking back. They’re an annual reminder to be reminded of the past. While oftentimes, an anniversary is also a milestone, it still remains that, simply put, an anniversary measures the passage of time.
They don’t really MEAN anything to widows. Our person is neither more, nor less dead on their death anniversary than they are on any other day, but damned if we aren’t reminded of the fact that they ARE dead a whole hell of a lot more.
Interestingly, other dates tend to morph into this reminder as well. Shelby’s upcoming birthday? I’m always reminded of the fact Megan isn’t there to see her reach twelve years old. Halloween? Megan loved halloween...she would enjoy being here. The anniversary of the date I was discharged? Oh wow, now I remember how I met Megan a few months after that.
That’s the thing, it’s like I can’t have an anniversary or holiday anymore without feeling the pressing need to remember Megan and either A) remember how she was on that day, or B) point out the fact that she’s not there.
But today’s anniversary? It’s different.Read more
It’s been a little over a month now since Mike proposed. I’ve had a few hard triggers. Trying to think about planning a wedding has been tough at first. The last time I was going to marry someone, he died before we ever got to the big day. He died before we ever even got into the true planning. So needless to say, that part of me that remembers is very aware. I’ve had a few moments of just bursting into heavy, deep sobs because sometimes it feels like reliving the past and it gets very scary to imagine it all disappearing again.
I’ve worried this whole process would be too much to handle, and too emotional to deal with, and that I wouldn’t even be able to manage the idea of planning a wedding ever. But aside from those moments where the fears get big and scary, most of the time, I’ve felt a new awareness of time and a new appreciation for each day.
Just last week, I told Mike, “I’ve gotten to be engaged to you for a whole month now! That’s more than I ever got to before!” And it’s true. Just as with each anniversary year we have hit (4 YEARS next week, wow!)… there is a feeling of thankfulness that we’ve somehow gotten this far. Part of me is still expecting it all to fall apart at any moment like it did when Drew died. But instead of being so afraid of that, I just feel excited for every small piece. Excited to ask one of my best friends to make our wedding cake. Excited to ask another of our closest friends to be the one to marry us. And honored, so honored, that I get the privilege to have had one whole month of planning such a special day, so far. Even if all went wrong and it didn't happen, I still got this part. I still got to spend all this wonderful time dreaming of the day - which is something that was taken from me the last time I was going to marry my person.Read more
The year was 2005, and it was a cold day in February.
I looked out the window of my New Jersey apartment, which sat on the Hudson River. NYC looked back at me.
I put the coffee pot on, and started making the meatballs and sauce. My Nana Mary's lasagna recipe, with bow tie pasta and meatballs and ribs on the side.
I had made it for Don the first time we met in person, about 3 years after we began talking in that music chat trivia room.
He had flown all the way from Florida to Jersey, to meet me, to stay with me for a few days, to fall in love.
I took him into my apartment on that day, and we sat at my kitchen table and shared our first meal together.
That was the first time he said to me: "My Boo makes the bestest food ever! I could get used to this!"
So, here I was , a few years later, making it again, in anticipation of his arrival.
Except this time, I would not have to say goodbye at the end of a few days.
This time, he was staying.
Don Shepherd was moving in with me on that day.
He had his whole life inside that Penske truck that was attached to his 1997 Grand Prix car -
soon he would be pulling up onto my street, and emptying out everything he owned out of that truck and into my small apartment.
Soon, my small apartment would become "our" small apartment.
His cat Isabelle that sat in his lap while he drove, would become "our" cat.
Soon, we would begin our life together.
It was Superbowl Sunday,
and the start of a brand new life.
Grief is messy. And, it demands our attention. Grief does not follow a predictable route, and neither should you. There is no road map to follow. You need to find your own way through this. You need to follow your heart and trust your instincts. When your person dies, no one hands you a manual that explains how to handle the cruddy stuff that grief will throw at you. You learn by experience. And, by necessity, you become better at grief with practice.
You go about life. You continue to live because there is no other choice. And, as you navigate this alternative life, you will bump into things along the way, that's a given. If you are colliding into things this means you are moving. And, if you are moving you are reentering life. Momentum is good.
This morning, I was feeling disappointed with myself because I am “still” sad.
(And, this is because after two full years, he is still dead.)
I lay in bed a little too long, hesitating to greet Sunday morning
because I’m just plain tired of being wrecked by my brokenness.
But, instead of resisting it, I know that I have to acknowledge my grief and lean into it. I also know that I will be less sad one day; however, this “missingness” for Mike will always be with me, in some capacity, for my entire life. Maybe I need to make it a strength somehow, instead of a weakness. Maybe I have to use it to somehow propel me back towards life. But, none of this is simple or easy. You know this.
This morning, as I lay in bed, I thought about how I've become ridiculously tired of making coffee for one. Dejected by my lack of both coffee and life partner, I sigh for the millionth time. I lay still and stared vacantly at the ceiling while creating an elaborate, imaginary conversation between Mike and I. This practice of drifting off to a place in my mind where I keep Mike alive is becoming less soothing with time. It is a useless drill. It doesn’t bring him back to life. Nothing will.
Realizing the futility in all this, I throw back the blankets and limp out of bed. I stood in the bathroom and noticed, with disappointment, how lacklustre my eyes look. There is no spark in their darkness anymore. As my wonderful widow friend would say, "Well, that's f@cking fantastic." And, she's right. This is just lovely. I've got no spark. I will add this to my to do list. Find my sparkiness again. ✔️
In a weak effort to resuscitate the parts of me that have been dormant
for over two years,
I splashed cold water on my face.
Well, I’m not surprised.
I figured it was going to take more than tap water to fix this.
Joy does not drip out of my facet.
Joy isn't found in tap water - good to know.