Since you died I feel like I am masquerading in someone else's life. The likelihood of outliving you was always in the back of my mind, but it wasn't something that I prepared for because I naively thought we had "the rest of our lives" ahead of us. I honestly thought that we had at least twenty more years together. And, because I blindly believed this, I arrived to widowhood completely unsorted. For the first few months everything was raw and rough. I was unpracticed at being a widow, so I made homespun, amateur attempts at surviving. However, with time, my ability to live with grief has become more polished. Fifteen months later, I do less improvising throughout my day.
I am doing this 'widow thing' . And, from the outside looking in, things appear to be returning to 'normal'. But, those of us who live this life know full well that we can never return to 'normal' again. I don't say this looking for sympathy. I say it because it is the truth. You know this as well as me. It just is what it is. This is widowhood.
As much as I dislike it, living with Grief has become somewhat 'normal' to me. I don't remember what it feels like not to miss you. I don't recall living without emptiness inside me. I don't remember what 'normal' feels like anymore. I don't remember what it feels like to be an 'ordinary', 'regular' mid-aged woman. I am forever changed.
The death of your spouse permanently alters a person, and I am no exception. Yet, somehow, I am starting to become okay with the changes in me. Even still, I am not proficient living my changed life. Most of the time I feel like I am participating in a makeshift existence that was not thoroughly planned out. I did not rehearse for this; and, honestly, it shows.
Art: Loui Jover
Death is a part of life. We die because we live.
The concept is simple. It is understood by everyone. But, the mechanics behind surviving without someone you love are tedious and complicated. It is relatively simple to comprehend the facts. They. are. dead. But, to accept this is not easy. To live this reality - this - brings you to your knees.
It is overwhelming and utterly disorientating to remain alive when the person you love is dead. Most of us do not prepare ourselves for outliving the ones we love. Honestly, I know there is no way to "prepare" for death; but, looking back I wish I had put more forethought into it. Until death intimately affected me, I never seriously entertained the idea of living without him. So, when he died I was blindsided. I was lost with no sense of direction.
Everything felt surreal. It still does...
I can’t tell you how I manage to pull off a post every week, or how I have done so for the past three and a half years here. I get asked that a lot. Some weeks I know exactly what I want to write. Other weeks I feel dry…uninspired, lackluster and done. Then suddenly something will move me. Feeling overcome with emotion in a moment, a vision of something in our world, something a friend says, a memory I have. Sometimes it’s just a phrase that comes to me.
Sometimes I start writing and never title it. It remains in my files, which Apple titles for me, Blank 22 or Blank 24. Sometimes I go back and read what I’d started, and I find I can finish.
Other times I just know the title, but nothing more. This is one of those times. I think maybe a friend said that to me, or I read it somewhere, this phrase.
While I am away I am reposting a blog from 2014. This still happens too.
Today I grabbed the mail from the mailbox, saw it was mostly junk, and tossed it on the floor of my car as I sped off downtown for a few errands. Stopped at a stoplight I looked down and noticed a flyer from our local vision center which said brightly, we miss seeing you! Specials now…etc, etc.
I thought for a moment…huh. They miss me? I just got new glasses a couple of months ago. Then with a pang I realized they meant Mike. I reached down to pick it up, my suspicions confirmed. Another piece of mail for him. Another business still unaware. Yeah. I miss seeing him too.Read more
I got a new fridge this week. Well, new to me. My old one just stopped defrosting itself and a repairman told me it wasn’t worth the cost of repair. So once a week we were standing there with a hairdryer. A friend of mine was redoing her condo and needed to get rid of a fridge, so I hired a handyman to move it to my house and take the old one to the dump.
I had that old fridge at least 12 years. My parents bought it for us back in the days when we had our school here in Kona when money was tight. So a lot of memories of Mike pulling those doors open to search for snacks. A lot of pictures of him and other people we’ve lost on the side of it. Kind of like a memorial fridge, it became.
This Wednesday marked my husband's 37th birthday. This was the third I've had to mark without him and surprisingly, I found it to be somewhat different to the past two.
I woke up thinking about what we might have been doing if he were still here. On his last birthday, his 34th birthday, I'd snuck out of our room the evening before and hidden little gifts and clues around the house, so that when he woke on the morning of his special day there was a treasure hunt ready and waiting for him.
Thinking about that now, I can't help but smile. It may sound like a strange activity to plan for a grown man but it combined two things Dan loved - silly games and personal challenges. His face had lit up when I handed him his first clue card, he couldn't believe I'd gone to so much trouble and we raced around the house laughing and cheering as he guessed each destination and found a treasure along with the next hint.
Remembering that last birthday bought him back to me for a moment. It's not that I'd forgotten - the memories are as crisp and bright as ever - but it had been quite a while since I'd taken them down from the shelf, held them, touched them and allowed myself to be taken back there.Read more
I'm interstate at the moment celebrating a dear friend's 40th birthday. She lives on the other side of the country (I live in Brisbane, Queensland and she lives in Perth, in Western Australia). I've been here to visit a number of times now, it's a great opportunity to have a holiday and see another part of Australia while catching up with my friend and her family.
It's got me thinking though, last time I was here for her birthday celebration was in 2012, four years ago. When Dan and I were dating and our relationship was shiny and new and exciting.
One of the things remember most from that trip was the excitement of getting a text or a phone call, hearing his voice, knowing he was thinking of me and missing me. When I returned home he'd admitted that he'd felt a bit lost without me. He'd found it hard to remember how he filled his weekends before we'd met and had been counting down the hours until I came home.Read more
It's been two-and-a-half years in and the grief can still sneak up and surprise me in ways that I'm not expecting...
It's a decision that I'm excited about but also makes me very nervous. Do I have it in me? Can my widow brain cope with the challenge of learning and retaining new information in an academic environment? Will the time commitment probe to be exhausting and overwhelming? I don't know, but I feel ready to give it a go.
I'm also planning on using my sharpened skills on a project I'm working on to help the widowed community here in Australia, so I feel passionate about what I'm doing.
This week I visited the campus, which is conveniently located a few blocks from my work (I'll be studying part time while continuing to work) to collect my student ID card.
As I walked out of the student office with my freshly minted identification in my hot little hands, I felt a surge of pride in myself for having the courage to give this a go. My thoughts then immediately went to Dan and I had the strongest urge to call him and tell him what I'm doing.Read more
I’ve had a lot of those moments this week where the missing of Dan has been sharp and hard and tangible.
I’m always conscious of him not being here – even when I’m laughing or having fun, there’s always that subtle sense of his absence. I never forget.
However time has gently smoothed some of the corners so that the missing of him is usually in an abstract, broad sense. Like the image of him in my mind is a bit blurry around the edges – more of a summary of all the parts of who his was and what he meant to me. When I miss him, it’s almost like I miss the general presence of him and the sensation of him being here as part of my ongoing life.
Then there are the days when it's crystal clear just how incredible and real he was and I find myself missing all the many wonderful, specific things about him.
The sharpness of that loss just cuts a little deeper.Read more
We spend our lives with an awareness of our physical bodies. We dress our bodies, we move our bodies. Our hands hold other's hands. Our arms hug. Our lips meet in exquisite kisses. Our lips smile and laugh. Our eyes sparkle as we gaze upon life and our loves. Our feet dance, in rhythm or not.