There are times in life when we struggle,
or when the people in our life struggle,
or when you are both struggling because you pass the stress back and forth
like a virus,
because you are both hurting and you just want to help each other.
You just can't help much.
Not because you don't want to.
But because maybe you can't offer up
what that person needs,
or you haven't been through what they have,
or that person needs to go through some of this alone,
and they need to figure it out,
and it hurts to be witness to their pain and hurt,
but you know that it's what needs to happen,
for eventual healing to occur.
And it's hard.
But love is a verb,
and if you really love someone,
you stay beside them and you figure shit out.
And when it gets hard,
you just ask more questions and become more aware,
so that you don't miss anything important.
I can't say much more than these vague sentences,
but Love will triumph,
and we will make our way through this
latest of struggles.
In the morning, I am getting up at an ungodly hour (4am) to wait for my friends who are picking me up and then we are driving the 9 hour road trip to Toronto Canada for Camp Widow. We did this same thing last year, and we had fun on our car ride together. And of course, after arriving, the weekend was filled with healing, laughter, grief tools, honoring love, and friendship. I expect nothing less to be true this time around.
It is the 10 year anniversary of Soaring Spirits International, and the founder, Michele Neff Hernandez, has decided to step down from doing her "Key Note Address", which she has done at every single Camp Widow since the event began. At each camp event, she creates a themed talk , always with a beautiful and poignant and different message, and she delivers it on the big stage on the Saturday morning at 9 am of the Camp Widow weekend. Her Key Note has always been my very favorite part of camp, and I can already feel myself getting emotional as I think about never hearing her words of comfort and wisdom again on that stage. I wonder who else will do the Key Notes, and will I be moved by their message? I'm not the greatest when it comes to change, and right now, I'm still in the deep mourning phase of my acceptance of this reality.
The other thing going on for me is that this year, I am in a beautiful relationship with my next great love story. And although I love going to Camp Widow and always will, I don't want to leave him behind right now, for reasons I cant get into here, but I just wish we could be together at this time. He cant come with me because of work and other commitments and money, so we will part for 4 days and miss each other and talk every day and all of that.Read more
Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary.
It would have been 12 years of lovely marriage.
Instead, we got 4 years and 9 months.
But who's counting?
And does it even really matter anymore?
I mean, I think that no matter how many years it's been since the last anniversary, this day will always hit me like a bag of bricks across the heart. I just think it will always hurt that my marriage was ended abruptly by death. It will always hurt and be unfair to me that I will never celebrate a decade of marriage with Don Shepherd. Or 2 decades, or 3. Or our first child, first house, vacations, life struggles, career moves, on and on and on. I think that no matter what, I will always feel intense sadness on my wedding anniversary, and I will always have this "lost puppy" feeling, of not knowing where to go or what to do on that day.
Tomorrow just sucks. Tomorrow is hard. Im still uncomfortable with being around humans on that day. I feel awkward and filled with sadness when they cheerily say: "Happy Anniversary!" , or when they tell me to "cherish the love you had!" Yes. Thank you for the advice, but don't you think I already cherish the love I had and still have, every single second of every day? Cherishing something while also being aware that it is forever gone , is a pretty empty feeling.
So, tomorrow, and probably forever on every October 27th, here is what I miss:
I miss getting flowers from my husband on our anniversary.
Now, sometimes on that day, I will buy myself some flowers. If I feel up to it. But usually, I just do nothing, because buying myself flowers feels worse than not having them.Read more
People often ask me if I believe in God.
I do believe in God.
my definition of what God is or what God means
is probably very different than yours.
Its certainly not traditional, and it doesn't involve going to Sunday School
or attending church, or not eating meat on Fridays, or reading a Bible or other book of faith, or taking part in religious rules or mindsets or structures.
I have always found religion to be limiting at best, and dividing at worst.
It is my opinion that religion has caused more problems in the world than it has done good. Wars have been fought due to religious beliefs. People killed for not sharing beliefs of others. People condemned and judged and beaten or harassed or killed because of who they love, how they live their life, who they are. Some people use their God and their religion as justification to hate or to be prejudice or bigoted toward others. I do not find any comfort or peace inside of a church. For me, it is intimidating and feels suffocating and forced. I think that if you are a religious person and going to church helps you, then you should go. I think that people should be able to do whatever best gets them through the day and whatever makes them happiest, as long as they are not harming others with their actions.Read more
Oh, the sadness of October.
My wedding anniversary.
Followed by our honeymoon anniversary,
just days later,
and then Don's birthday, just days into that.
October 27th we married.
Its toward the end of the month,
and its true what they say.
The build-up to these milestone days,
is often worse than the actual day itself.
But then again,
the actual day itself
is , for me, just heart-wrenchingly sad.
There are no triggers. No panic. No anger or hysterical sobs.
Just intense and very real sadness.
The kind of sadness that sits in silence by the ocean,
listening quietly to the waves, as they swish by one by one by one.
It's the kind of sadness that not many understand.
It has no drama, and would be boring to describe in a movie about grief.
This sadness makes me feel the need to put a pause on life ,
just for a little while. A few hours. A day or two maybe. If possible.
I need to just sit with the idea that my husband is no longer my husband,
but a cherished time and memory. An inspiring thought. A dream unrealized or
He is the man who loved me first, and who changed me forever.
He died loving me, and I will have his whole heart forever.
There is a sad comfort that lives in that knowledge.Read more
On Sunday, September 30th, I hosted a huge Book Launch Party Celebration in NYC, at West Side Comedy Club. A few years ago, when I was beginning to write this epic love and loss story book about the life and death of my husband, I did a fundraising campaign where lots of great people donated to help make my book happen. One of the things I promised as part of that campaign, was that when the book was finished, I would have a huge Book Launch Party in NYC.
Well, 4 years and a few months later, I did it. I put time and energy and hard work and money into this party. I ordered food. There was a huge sheet cake that said "Thank You for your support", and had the cover of my book superimposed right into the icing. We did a raffle to raise money for Soaring Spirits, and I called and gathered people to donate services, goods, books, and gift cards toward the raffle for prizes. I stood up on the stage and read from my book. I did a little bit of comedy. My friend Lori, who manages the club where we held the party, also did some comedy and spoke very kind words about me in front of everyone there.Read more
Those were the words that echoed throughout the pool at the YMCA this morning, as we were just finishing up our high-impact water aerobics class. There were about 15 of us in the class, of varying ages and circumstances, and one of the older ladies walked up and whispered something into the instructor's ear. After she did, the instructor reached down to her iPod, and put on the song "The Sea of Love." She then said to Betty, which happened to be this woman's name, "I am told this is you and your husband's favorite song, so we will end with it today. Everyone please congratulate Betty - today is her 66th wedding anniversary! Isn't that incredible?" All the ladies cheered and applauded and gave words of joy and laughter and lightly joked about marriage and how do you do it and wow, that's so many years, and on and on and on.
I sat in the pool for an extra few minutes, unable to make myself get out or climb the ladder and be bombarded by Betty and her married entourage of women all fawning over the multiple decades of wedded existence. I silently wished Betty well, because that is absolutely a milestone to celebrate. But I just couldn't be a part of it. It hurt way too much. Seven years into this, and still, hearing about older couples who are honored enough to get years and decades together when I only got 4 years and 9 months, it still stings. It stings to hear about their children, their houses they bought together, their jobs they retired from, their grandchildren, their vacations, their retirement, all of it. Longevity is not something I was given a choice about in my marriage. When your person dies suddenly, before you could have kids or houses or careers or savings accounts or milestone dates, all of that is gone. It just disappears into oblivion. I am happy that Betty can celebrate 66 years with the same person, but part of me feels almost offended that I don't get to prove to everyone that my marriage would have been one of those kind that lasted a lifetime and that grew with age and time, and that was a thing of beauty. I will never know. I will never know what would have become of us, what our future would give us. But I know everywhere inside of me that we had the kind of love that would have made it to 66 years and beyond. This I know.Read more