"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness - John Muir"
Over rolling hills and through meadows full of goldenrod, studded with purple asters, I took a walk yesterday. It is almostautumn here in Ohio; officially just a few days away. My favorite season.is quickly approaching. So too was it Megan’s favorite season. Harvest festivals, halloween, hooded-sweatshirt-weather, the changing of the leaves, and big puffy lake-effect clouds dotting bright blue skies make it the most colorful and dramatic time of the year.
It’s been quite a long time since I stepped out for a hike on my own. As much as I enjoy and desire solitude, it is still more enjoyable to be with Sarah and Shelby on a walk in the woods. Between Shelby noticing every little chipmunk, snail and caterpillar (of course, giving any creature she discovers a name beginning with “Mister” and some variant of “fluffy, squishy, or slimy”, depending on species) and Sarah’s wonder at the environment of the woods up here, versus Texas (Maple trees are slightly more robust than Mesquite trees), I take as much in enjoyment watching them have the experience as I do experiencing it myself.
Watching them is something new to me, and I noticed it by being alone on this particular walk.Read more
Before I was a widower, father, husband, or IT manager, I was a Marine. 15 years ago, I was driving into my platoon’s shop, listening to Howard Stern, as I did every morning, when he suddenly stopped his usual schtick, and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. They bantered on a bit about it, and, at the time, no one really knew what exactly had happened.
I listened for the 15 minutes or so it took for me to get into the shop, and when I arrived, some of my fellow Marines were gathered around a small TV, watching news coverage, just as the south tower was hit. Even then, I hadn’t thought about the greater implications. It was simply a horrific attack to us. A few hundred faceless, nameless people had just perished in a plane crash in Manhattan.
Then we heard the fighter jets taking off.
Last week, Shelby started the fourth grade. This is the second school year that she has begun without Megan doting over every paper she brought home, every picture day, PTA meeting, or fundraiser flyer th
at seems to be more frequent than homework. Her peanut butter sandwiches (which she eats every day for lunch, no matter how much we suggest otherwise) were “crafted”, not “made. Dropping her off at school, Megan would walk her to the door, hand-in-hand.
Retrieving her at the end of the school day, there was always a milk shake, followed by a snack, and then Shelby completing her homework while Megan browsed every paper contained in the backpack.
It set a standard that I, in no way, believed I could ever achieve. It was one of my largest fears when Megan died; that I would somehow set Shelby up for failure because I couldn’t keep up with the pace Megan did when it came to school.Read more
I am not a social animal normally. Megan would have to drag me out of the house, kicking and screaming, to get me to “go out” with anyone other than her and Shelby. I would casually suggest that the three of us just go do something on our own, or spend a relaxing evening at home watching movies or reading.
It never really worked...I would begrudgingly get in the car, and drive to wherever it was we were meeting some friends, the anxiety building as we neared our destination. I don’t know why, but I would prefer to just have my “nucleus” and leave it at that. Why did I need to bring in outsiders? I fiercely protected our dynamic with some kind of virtual wall I had apparently erected, and I didn’t want anyone invited inside without my express authorization. Funny thing is, once we arrived, I was happy and sociable, having a great time with everyone.Read more
I sat down last night to begin my writing for this week, and I had nothing. No anecdotes, no significant events, not even any special lessons I learned this past week as it pertains to grief or mourning. I stared at the screen for hours, adding a few paragraphs, reading over them, then deleting them.
Finally, as midnight drew near, I closed my laptop and went to bed. I had no more energy to write, and the words weren’t flowing either way.
Writing here for Soaring Spirits gives me the opportunity to share my perspectives and lessons learned with a wide audience. Every Tuesday, I hope that something I’ve written helps at least one person through a tough time or is something they can relate to and say “me too”.Read more
What would have been Megan’s 35th birthday was a few weeks ago, on July 24th. I would venture to say that, for most widows and widowers, birthdays are one of the hardest days to remember. They are associated with memories of fun times, friends and family celebrating that person’s day, and yet another year “in the books”. To have that annual event suddenly take on a different meaning and a different remembrance affects all of those who knew and loved that person.
Megan’s came and went this year with what has been typical since her death. I’m grumpy most of the day, but we do something to remember her, keep occupied, and have an enjoyable day in her honor. Cliche as it is, yes, it IS” what she would have wanted”. Multiple people ensure they post to facebook about how they miss her, and say “Happy Birthday” on her wall. Heartfelt paragraphs about things they remember doing with her, or “breathe easy” are digitally pushed to her in the afterlife via keyboard, somehow. There may have been a few less posts this year than last on that day, but still, her friends remember her birthday.
A few days later though, and facebook is silent. Memories tend to fade when you don’t have automated reminders popping up, don’t they? As far as the internet is concerned, life moves on until the next year, when suddenly it seems like everyone is thinking about her again.
I don’t have that option. I think about Megan...every...single...day. It’s a matter of HOW MUCH I think about her that changes, and August 6th was a doozy.Read more
It’s been almost three years since I last went fishing. THREE years. I couldn’t tell you all of the exact reasons why that’s the case, but I have some strong theories. There is the obvious period of time in there when Megan went into rejection, was admitted to the hospital, and ultimately lost her fight. It was the farthest thing from my mind. There have been a few Ohio winters keeping me indoors in that time span also, but that only adds up to a year and a half in total.
I did not drop a line in the water last year at all. I didn’t even get my fishing license. I was still grieving Megan, certainly, and Sarah and I met and became a couple over the spring and summer. She moved here in fall. But that still doesn’t explain why i did not take a few hours, a few worms, and a fishing pole to any one of the hundreds of lakes, ponds, and streams within a 20 minute drive of here, at least once.
As I write this though, the scent of insect repellent is all over me. My hands are grimy and have a rich bouquet of bluegill, worms, and pond water emanating from them. I’ve got a few nagging itches from either a plant i came in contact with, or a bug that decided to have a taste. A few tiny pinholes in my index finger make it slightly uncomfortable to type, as well as remind me that I should be a little less clumsy when baiting my hook.
And I’m happy.Read more
I’ve somehow made it through the past week without hitting critical mass. I won’t say I’ve had my moments, but rather, that the past seven days or so have been one big moment, with little instances of calm peppered in. Simply put, it was just a rough, overwhelming, busy, tiring week, the kind where you feel both accomplished and exhausted, and it’s hard to allow yourself into a calm state of mind.
It was the kind of week I had quite frequently through the years with Megan, generally it was the weeks she was admitted to the hospital, and our routine suddenly got turned on it’s head.Read more
Megan and I bought our home in June of 2005. For nine years, it was “our” home. I had the outdoor spaces...lawn care, gardening, the garage, and landscaping were all mine to take care of and shape into something I enjoyed. Megan had the inside. Knick-knacks and decorations, paint colors, organization, and general decor were hers.
The system worked. I’m not exactly an interior designer, and she wasn’t exactly a farmer. We both appreciated and enjoyed what each other had done with their respective spaces, and there weren’t any conflicts. We complimented each other well.
It would be all too easy to just “mothball” what she had done with the inside of the house. Her decor was pretty much set already when she died. We hadn’t been talking about doing anything in particular with paint or furniture before the transplant rejection set in, so I was content that she was happy with what she had done up to that point.
I’ve followed a somewhat standard path in my adult years. Megan and I met in 2002, married and bought a house in 2005, and had Shelby in 2007. Notwithstanding her illness and the extra events associated with it, we had followed a fairly “textbook” sequence of events. We were effectively playing the “Game of Life”, spinning the wheel, and seeing where we landed.
We took vacations, attended school events, and explored new and interesting things in our city all of the time. I worked a 40 hour week, with good benefits and insurance, and came home to my little 1/6th acre in the suburbs and mowed the lawn, had a beer, and ate dinner with my family.
The elephant in the room, through our entire relationship, was the fact that she had Cystic Fibrosis, and likely wasn’t going to make it to 40 years old.