In my 38 years, I have never once not been with my parents on either Christmas eve or Christmas day. Even when I was in the military, I lucked out in that I wasn’t deployed over Christmas, and I was able to drive from North Carolina to Ohio, even if only for a 48 hour visit. Since 2002, I’ve added Megan’s family to that tradition, always ensuring that my second family was part of the holidays, but simply splitting time between both.
It was convenient that both my family and Megan’s family lived within 15 minutes of each other, and we never lived farther than 30 minutes away from either. Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas day with hers.
Since Megan’s death, that tradition has remained the same. Now, however, there’s a third and fourth family.Read more
I’ve written about it quite a few times these past few years, but moving across the country really did a number on me. I don’t think - scratch that - I KNOW I was in no way prepared for how difficult it would be to leave Texas. I have a love affair with my state that runs very deep. I have gone through some of the hardest but most meaningful experiences in my life in that state. As well as some of the most beautiful.
The resting places for both of my parents and Drew are there. The friends that became family to me after Drew died, are mostly scattered all around that beautiful state. And the culture… once you’ve fallen in love with the Texas hill country culture, there is really no way to ever separate it from your heart. And no reason you’d ever want to.
So when I decided to take a chance on new love, and do this super brave thing like uprooting my life to Ohio, I really had no idea the level of new grief I was signing up for. Everything up north is very different. The houses. The yards. The language. The attitude. The lack of chicken fried steaks. The accents. Hell even the Dairy Queens... (they do not have steak fingers - and don't get me started on that!)
I guess I didn’t expect a new place to feel SO different. Or for change to feel so hard. Clearly I did not realize, I lived in TEXAS of all places - which is pretty different in its own right from a lot of the country. Most of all, I didn’t realize - as it common with loss - what I had until it was gone. Or until I was gone...Read more
Another sleepless night. Eyes wide open, I finally get up.
I pace through the house, small as it is, investigating this or that I think I will or will not take to the new place, for the millionth time. Thinking about all the things I have already taken to the new place, for the millionth time. Our new place, my boyfriend’s and mine.
February will mark five years without Mike. I can hardly believe that. And here I am, the loss of the house finally imminent, the auction date a few weeks away, a new lease already signed.
This is it. There is no pretending Mike might still walk in the door any minute. After 16 years in this house, I’m leaving. We’re leaving, my dogs and me, and this guy who has been here for me for about four of these last five years. This guy who has made it possible for me to stay with my dogs, who has found a role in a season of my life I never saw coming…and yet has no real role in my grief.
Who loves me and supports me and yet may never truly understand what it is I have gone through; that strange and horrific grief path I continue to tread.
No one can. Our grief journeys are solo gigs. And he gets that, as a musician, I think.
The big news is, we found a place to rent here in Kona that has agreed to the dogs. It’s only up the block, so moving should be relatively easy. It’s expensive…but thankfully my boyfriend is with us for all the support both emotional and financial that it will entail.
It has not come easy. It took weeks for the owner to come around to us (apparently, two dogs are better than a group of young single people or a family of 10). We had to endure a long, detailed financial application and background check. And the hardest, for me, has been the emotion of it all.
My stay at the house my beautiful late husband and I shared is coming to an end.
I will leave part of me behind here. My heart, or most of it, it feels like.
Like a freight train, time is bullying its way forward. Come February, which feels just around the corner, I will have been five years without Mike. I sit here in his chair on the lanai we shared in this house, looking down on the ocean view he loved so dearly, wondering how that is possible.
Because in this moment, and so many others, it feels like yesterday. The pain feels raw and real and the missing him hasn’t stopped. And yet I have been forced to continue to deal with life in this world all this time, without him.
I’m just so tired.
Sitting here with all this week’s feelings, thoughts and words ping-ponging around my brain, that one just keeps rising to the top.
Grief is a heavy, heavy stone to drag around, and I’m tired. That sinister companion has changed so much, not just in my daily life but how I think about life altogether.
If you’ve been following the slow-motion event that is the foreclosure on my home here in Hawaii, there is an update. The commissioner who was appointed to handle the auction did a site inspection today. I am waiting to hear the dates for the two open houses she is required to hold, probably in November. Soon after that, auction will be scheduled and held. After it is confirmed that it was sold by the court…that’s it. We vacate.
Even though I knew it was coming, I still collapsed in tears today. This has been my home for 16 years…12 of them happy years with my husband. And I am grateful I’ve had nearly five more, and much of that time has been shared with my boyfriend…who is being extremely gracious, generous and supportive, by the way.
In 2011, shortly after Megan’s lung transplant, we decided to have a 5-year plan of moving out of the house we currently live in. We bought this house the year we were married...2005 It’s small, in the city, with a busy highway, shopping area, and rail line within a few hundred yards, lending an ambient soundtrack of engines, train horns, and truck traffic around the clock. The house itself is old, with funky shaped rooms and ceilings, and it creaks and groans, showing it’s age.
But, it was affordable for a young couple just starting out. It was halfway between my work at the time, and our parents...30 minutes either way. The small lot took no time to mow, and the small house was easy on the heating and cooling costs. The neighborhood, noisy as it may be, is pretty safe and decently maintained. It’s not a housing development, with manicured lawns and homeowner’s associations, but it’s not run down or dangerous either. There is a gorgeous river gorge just on the other side of the highway, publicly accessible as a park, and we are 5 minutes from Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
There is a a lot of upside to this little salt-box style, 1.5 story house. Yet, by the time Megan was getting healthier, Shelby was in school, and we were starting to talk about OUR “next chapter”
What’s going on in the life of this widow this week? It’s been four years, four months, and 11 days. Some things are changed very much, and some not so much.
I still look out over the same view, from the same lanai, in the same house we shared together for 12 years. I still drive through the little town in Hawaii we both fell in love with together every day. I pass shops, restaurants, churches, beaches, and yes, even trees, I know he saw, and loved. Seriously one time this week I was sitting at a traffic light admiring this big, beautiful tree in the median strip and thought, Mike saw this tree. I’m looking at a tree he also saw, probably many many times. I don’t know why I thought that but I did.
I saw my therapist today, for the first time in about two years, we figured. She was the one who first helped begin to lift me out of the fog in those early weeks and months after Mike's death. She knows my story, knows me. I had been thinking of her a lot this year, with all the issues and decisions I am facing, and low and behold, I literally ran into her on the sidewalk in our little town last week.
I figured, well, that's a sign. She had moved offices, and I couldn't find her after searching online. But she appeared anyway. So I made an appointment.