Sometimes I wonder, is life harder because I have been widowed or would have been just as hard in different ways if I had never been widowed? It’s a question I think on when I have long talks with friends who aren’t widowed, who are going through their own complex lives… complete with blended, divorced families and step kids or uncertainty in their current relationship, or loneliness and feeling unsure about their career or life purpose.
Our thirties and forties have taken us places I think none of us imagined. We used to all live across town from one another, and the most complicated stuff we really dealt with was the dating scene and fighting traffic across town to meet up together at our favorite bar every Tuesday night. We still look back at those days now with such nostalgia… it was a few good years where things were easy, good friends were plentiful, and there were no major catastrophes. For a short time we all were able to relax into the present moment of our lives.
Drew’s death changed everything. It was the beginning of life becoming far more complex… and it happened to occur when I was turning 30. I feel like it’s so easy sometimes to blame the grief. To feel like all the complexity and extra difficulty and all the changes that have been hard are the fault of grief and being widowed. But I don’t really think that’s true at all.
Had Drew not died, I would have been married within a year likely… and moved out of Dallas anyway - as was our plan. I would have then followed his career as a pilot wherever it took us around the country… likely living somewhere new every few years or so. Had we adopted a child by now, which was our eventual plan, I would be going through the same fears and doubts and struggles with learning how to be a mother as I am with my new partner Mike’s child now. And I would have been doing it a bit more alone, while Drew was likely gone a lot for flying gigs that would have him on contracts for weeks or months.
Death or not, my life was going to change drastically. And many of the complex things that happened in my friends’ lives were not because of grief either. The complicated stuff they now deal with in their lives is just a part of growing up into our thirties and forties and beginning new phases of their lives. Phases none of us were especially prepared for, it seems...Read more
This image perfectly sums up my post for today. There are times in our life when our path to somewhere ends, and from that moment on, we have to begin making decisions for another journey. We have to decide to stay on the shore, at the end of that life, or wade out into the unknown and swim toward some unknown future, trusting we will be able to make it to a new and beautiful shore.
Last week I had a really bad day. I don’t know if it was just a buildup of emotions because I’ve been so busy lately, or if hormones were just doing their thing randomly, or I was trying really hard to just not feel some stuff, but wow. I went over to my place to pack some more things to bring over to Mike’s place… and I just lost my shit. I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more. I felt so completely sad to be moving. For a lot of reasons... but mostly, I am figuring out, because I'm feeling thrown back into the currents a bit again. And every time I feel that way, I am reminded that my life is currently a "plan-B". That the path I was on ended one day, and I just had to get out there and swim...Read more
It’s incredible what a song can do. I was driving home tonight, emotions already welling up in me. Moving in with Mike is probably one of the most bittersweet things to happen in my life since Drew died. And I hate that.
I was over at my place picking up a few things, walking around outside for a moment in the quiet of the evening, and a great melancholy came over me. A sadness for this little house I am saying goodbye to, after hardly having much time to even be there. Knowing that it will be quite a while before I’ll have the chance to live in a space so full of countryside again. A lot of things. But none of those were the real reason behind this melancholy feeling. No, it was one thing in particular… or rather, one person.
I never got this far with Drew. We never made it to merging our stuff together and stressing about how to fit it all into one space. We never got to decide on paint colors together or who’s bed or pots or dishes to use.
As I drove to what will be my new home, with Mike and Shelby, there was a whisper in my mind to play a particular song. It was an old folk song that I heard one day on my way to the cemetery several years ago. One of those songs that stops you in your tracks. I played that song every single time I went to the cemetery for years after that… sometimes on repeat a dozen times or more. It hypnotized me, and it so fully matched what I felt inside. That hollow melancholy. As soon as the first notes hit my ears tonight, I was taken right back to the cemetery, during that first horrible year… at sunset, in the quiet of the Texas countryside...Read more
I'm batting jet-lag to write my blog today, so I apologise in advance for any typos (or any more than usual!) and if I ramble on a bit. I got home to Brisbane, Australia on a red-eye flight from the USA this morning, after three weeks away. It was a wonderful holiday, with the highlight being Camp Widow West in San Diego, however I reeeeeally missed my boyfriend.
We'd been in constant contact while I was away, counting down the days, and then hours, until we would be reunited. He was waiting for me at the airport this morning and when I dragged my tired ass through the arrivals gate and into his arms, I hadn't realised I'd been holding my breath in fear that I'd never get that moment with him.
You see, I haven't missed someone like that since Dan died and it reminded me of that feeling I had almost every day for the first year or so after - that sensation of aching to hold him and touch his face. However, unlike missing my dead husband who I would never get to hold again - I was missing someone very much alive and waiting to hold me too. The excitement of that was such a stark contrast to the agony of missing Dan, it was a very strange and confusing feeling.Read more
Thursday was my third wedding anniversary. This one felt slightly different to the previous two, however it was still as sad.
The night before, I stayed at my boyfriend's place and when we went to bed it all caught up with me. I couldn't believe that this time three years ago I was spending the night with my bridesmaids, getting ready to marry Dan in the morning... and now, he's gone and I'm lying in the arms of another man.
He was great about it, very understanding and sweet and just let me cry while he held me. It's such a wonderful but strange dynamic, loving in the 'after'. I'd heard these stories about widows finding these incredible, thoughtful, sensitive men who accepted that their grief was part of them but almost thought it was an illusive myth or only happened to the very lucky few.Read more
Yesterday, we painted a wall. To me, this was no ordinary wall, this was the last major wall in the downstairs of Mike’s house to change since Megan died. Now, when you look through the living room, dining and kitchen, all of it has a totally new color scheme from when she was living. Which leads me to talk about a very touchy aspect of widowhood, and of me being on the other side sometimes… dating a widower: The process of merging your life into a widowed person's home.
I’ll confess, Megan and my styles are very different. She was all about Americana, and I am certainly not. I mean to say, bluntly so, I don’t like her style. I cringe to type this. Why is it so hard to say we don’t like a dead person’s preferences? Why would it even be expected for me to like or leave things the way she had it? I’m not sure, but it seems like a lot of those outdated societal expectations are at play here...Read more
I'm at a strange and new phase in my grief. My third wedding anniversary is looming on Thursday (all of which I've had to mark without Dan, because he died before we had the chance to celebrate one together).
This is a time that is usually difficult and emotional. However... my whole compass for what is 'normal' in this world without him has been thrown off its axis due to a new relationship. My first real relationship in the 'after'.
When Dan died, I thought that was it. I couldn't imagine reaching a point where I would be able to even consider giving my heart to anyone else. It was tattered, bruised and broken. For a start, I didn't think anyone else would even want it, let alone that I'd have the ability to still feel anything for someone.
So to experience the kind of happiness and security that being in a relationship brings has been nothing short of breath-taking. I don't mean security as in financial or in a safety sense. But the security that comes when someone really sees you, in all your vulnerability, and doesn't run away. This man has slowly and steadily helped me bring down the walls I've built to protect myself and rather than been repelled by what he's found within, he's instead helped me believe that there is still value and beauty in what I have to offer someone.
This morning I’m sitting some fifteen feet up in the air surrounded by woods, near the northern border of Arkansas, and it seems no accident that the book I brought with me to read is titled "The Gifts of Imperfection".
A few days ago, Mike and I made the 14 hour drive down to Eureka Springs. Why? To stay in a treehouse cottage, which has always been a dream of mine.
This isn’t just any random dream though, this one, has a a great personal meaning to my story with life, loss, and living again. You see, the year Drew died… he and I were coming up with ideas for my birthday that fall. We talked about going to the Grand Canyon. And also about one other place, the treehouse cottages, here in Eureka Springs, AR. I can still remember so clearly researching this place with him… finding their website and looking through pictures and being so overjoyed that it was really not a very far drive from Dallas, where Drew and I lived. Our plan was, if we couldn’t swing a trip to the canyon that fall, that we would instead book a trip to the tree houses.
That plan never happened of course, because the crash happened instead, 3 months before my birthday. While I did end up making that trip to the Grand Canyon after all - with Drew’s mom - the treehouse cottage trip was lost… vanishing amidst the heaviness of grief. It has sat in the back of my heart all these years, gathering dust, until now.
I spent last weekend in Melbourne with about a dozen very dear friends. These women have only been in my life for a couple of years now, however it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. They see my soul, in its most bare and vulnerable state, a way that people who have known my most of my life will never understand.
These are my widow sisters. Women who I found when I was thrown into the deepest pain I could imagine, who were battling the storm beside me, trying not to drown. We clung to each other, lifting each other up for air at a time when we were all so close to sinking into the darkness.
We have spent countless sleepless nights sharing thoughts and emotions that our other family and friends could never fully understand. We have shared tears of sadness on the difficult days and celebrated each other’s successes when we’ve taken positive steps forward. The conversation is always easy and open. We have no need to hide or wear a mask with each other.Read more
I'm exhausted. I've been packing, cleaning, sorting and lugging boxes all day, actually no - for weeks now. My bones ache, my feet are sore and I'm typing this through bleary eyes.
On Monday morning, two guys in a van will be pulling into the driveway of my big family home, filling it with all my precious possession and moving me into my new inner-city apartment building.