The other week I saw this meme on Instagram about dying and not wanting the person you’re with to be happy afterwards and about how they should get in the casket and die too. It was framed in a “funny” way and meant to be a joke but I didn’t find it funny at all. I felt defensive, like it was an attack on me and other widows who have fought so hard to find happiness again. I felt like I was being judged and that made me mad. Then I thought: That’s stupid to care about what others think and I don’t care. People who haven’t experienced that type of loss yet are very blissfully ignorant and very immature. People who liked that and tagged their partners (including people I follow and “friends”) are pretty much idiots and have no idea what it’s like. I almost pity them to have that outlook on life and the happiness of the person they apparently love should something happen to them. Which reality check: either you or your partner will end up in this position at some point unless you (very unlikely) have some kind of joint Notebook death.
The thought of others finding it funny made me think though. Was there a time I would have found this to be funny? I certainly couldn’t relate to the humour now but would I have before? Would Mike have related to it? Would I have been one of those people who “liked” it or tagged their partner? Was there truth in it? So much in such a silly, stupid meme.Read more
This past weekend my friend from British Columbia flew to Ontario to come to visit me. I haven’t seen her in a year since we last did a road trip together. I’ve written about her before on my own personal blog about her being The Friend I Never Wanted. She is an amazing and inspiring person. She’s a young widow too and an incredible support. We have been navigating life after loss with very similar timelines across the country.
We talk on a regular basis but it’s different actually being together. We know we’re both moving forward, and we talk about our lives now, but it just feels so much more obvious when we’re together. Our visits are like a timeline of progress in grief, to me anyways. Much has stayed the same but there’s also been change. For example, when I was asking what food she wanted as I grocery shopped for her visit she commented that she doesn’t think she had food in her house the first time I visited. At that time we were both in the first year of loss. We then tried to remember what we even did during that first visit. It all seemed like a blur. We talked about our trip together the last time we met up, just over a year out from the death of our husbands, and how we struggled to come up with a plan between the two of us. We had joked that between the two of us we had a total of 1 working brain and we hoped that would be enough to manage everything.Read more
When Mike first died, everyone asked me if I was going to therapy. When I said that I was it was somehow a relief to them. “Good for you,” they’d say. I didn’t get it. I was so fresh into it that I mostly just sat there and cried at my sessions. I mean, it was good to cry and talk and hear an outsider’s perspective but it was still very raw.
Now, just past the two year mark, when and if I ever mention I go to therapy I’m met with the surprised reaction of, “Oh? Do you still need that?” I’d like to be able to say that reaction was a one time thing but that’s the usual reaction I get from many different people. Sometimes also met with their embarrassment or discomfort in the fact that they are now talking to me about the “taboo” subject of therapy. I refuse to succumb to that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that I still go to therapy. Maybe people just don’t understand.
The “do you still need to go to that?” with the implied suggestion that I should be fine by now was the exact question my family doctor asked me when I asked her to sign the papers for my insurance. I replied, “Is my husband still dead?”Read more
Yesterday, July 25, is the third anniversary of our wedding without him. That’s three more anniversaries than I celebrated with him. We didn’t get to celebrate a single one. I try to imagine what we might be doing on our third anniversary but it’s hard to both predict and recall something that never once happened.
Would we be going out for dinner the two of us? Would we be cuddling on the couch with our dog Tango having a drink? Or would we be celebrating it as a new family with a baby? The truth is, I don’t know. I will never know. It never happened and it will never happen.
I feel he is so far away right now. Like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen him instead of two years. I feel like part of my memory of him is slipping away. I can remember him and what we did but I can’t feel it. It’s hard to recall what his hug feels like. When I imagine it, it sometimes feels feel like maybe I’m just making it up now. I don't like it. I feel guilty for even admitting that I feel like I’m forgetting the feeling. What kind of widow am I? I don’t want to forget.Read more
There’s this fairly new song called “Ain’t Easy” where the main chorus sings, “loving you ain’t easy” after singing about the difficulty of “loving” and being with someone who is “fire then rain.” Quite simply, even though it’s a catchy tune, it makes me mad. It aggravates me because I thought of myself that way when I started dating and it was so misinformed. Also because it perpetuates the idea that being difficult to love is an acceptable way to see yourself or by someone you are with when it certainly is not. You are not difficult because of your life experiences. You are not difficult to love at all. You might just have the wrong people or person in your life. Or you might need to adjust your self image.
When I started dating I thought that whoever I dated would find me difficult to date. My rationale was that I did and do have my ups and downs; my fire then rain. My “downs” weren’t as intense as they once were but they also didn’t seem to be going all the way away. I was also very aware that I had a past that someone not yet in their thirties doesn’t usually have and I thought it would be seen as a negative.
In reflection, I am the one who saw myself that way. And then I attracted people who reflected my own views of myself: people who saw me as difficult.Read more
I heard the quote, “shoutout to the plants growing through concrete” and liked it. I thought of seeing a plant or two pushing its way through to continue growing towards the light. I thought of what I believe the quote intended, that a seemingly small, fragile plant can actually be stronger than what is thought to be powerful, forceful concrete. That a person, who is acted on by forces seemingly much stronger than themselves, can in fact break through and continue to grow despite whatever tried to bury them. I love that imagery. I always pictured it in a small scale though. Maybe one or two lonely but resilient plants.
Then I took this walk through what use to be untouched natural land. There was a paved path so people could walk through. I was so amazed by what I saw. Endless amounts of plants that had been paved over pushing through and distorting the pavement to continue growing. Not just growing through existing cracks but making way for themselves and creating the cracks for themselves after being fully covered with nowhere to go. Making cracks so big that it is difficult to walk on the pavement in this area. The plants have pushed the pavement out of the way. I was so excited by this. It isn’t just one, strong plant, it is so many, different types of plants growing together. It made me think of the many, many people who have obstacles thrown in their way and how so many of them choose to keep fighting and “grow through their pavement” whatever that may be. I thought of the widow community, my widowed friends, people I’ve met at Camp Widow, or even just in online groups, and about how many strong, resilient people I’ve had the privilege of witnessing and growing beside. I think of all the people that don’t just sit idle and let themselves be paved over. It really is inspiring.
This is now my favourite walk to take. I silently root for those little plants to keep growing through and hope for the ones that are still buried underneath to push through on their own or with the help of the other plants. Nature’s resilience is amazing. People’s resilience is too.
I’m all finished with school for the summer and heading to Hawaii with David! By the time this posts on Thursday I will already be there actually. I’m really excited to go. We have a lot of exciting things planned to do. Planning the trip was easy with David because we were interested in the same activities. If he found an idea of something he liked I was always super excited about it and vice versa. As we were planning, we started a shared document to use as an itinerary and for the first time since Mike died I was actually excited to use it.
I think I mentioned in a previous post when I was on vacation with my friend Heather about how I had lost my enthusiasm for trip planning. I had still wanted to go on trips but I didn’t have the motivation, concentration or memory to be able to plan the details of flights, cars, stay, and researching and coordinating things to do. It was frustrating to me because I had always been good at it and enjoyed it. It used to be my thing. Then after Mike died I couldn’t seem to care less even though I tried. And even when I tried I missed important things that could have caused a disaster travelling. I eventually just started to go with the flow of someone else organizing everything but I felt a bit numb doing that.
Planning for Hawaii has been so completely different. I feel like me. I have been on top of researching what I want to do, where, and when and following up with companies about booking. I have every little detail documented in order with confirmation numbers, times, location etc. I printed all the excursions, car, stay, flight confirmation emails and put them in order. Maybe it’s a little intense but organizing and planning makes me feel good. I had just been in a shift for a while. I don’t want to say my trip planning “is back”or I’m the “old me” because I don’t believe you ever really go back. Plus, this trip is so different than anything I had previously planned. It is a very active, adventurous trip. It’s full of a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t have done before. I’m not just making lists of possible sites to see; I’m planning, booking and gathering the needed gear for some pretty intense activities. I think I’ve used my previous organization skills to be my basis for planning for a more rigorous, absolutely-need-it-all-figured-out and be prepared trip. It’s my 2.0 version of planning.Read more
Another school related story today. So much seems to come up at work. One more week and I’m on holidays though so this might be the last one for now!
Our last unit in Math is on probability. The expectation for the grade ones is that they need to understand and identify scenarios that are certain, impossible, likely, and unlikely. Do you see where I’m going with this? Right from the start my mind is preoccupied with the likelihood of being widowed at 27. Unlikely. Yet it happened. Not impossible. But when I think of the word unlikely I don’t frame it in terms of things that might happen. I frame it in terms of things that probably won’t happen. And when I think of things that probably won’t happen then I pretty much stop thinking of them because, well, it probably won’t happen. That makes sense to me and apparently many others as well since when you look up “unlikely” in the (google) dictionary the synonyms that come up are: implausible, unrealistic, inconceivable, far-fetched and the list goes on. Unlikely events are simply dismissed because it is thought that they won’t happen. However, that also doesn’t sit well in my brain now. Because then where does that leave my thinking when something that is highly unlikely to happen, so unlikely that you don’t think of it, actually happens? Again, I know that the actual outcome can be different than predicting the probability but still, that’s not how I thought of it.
What I do think and feel is cheated. I feel like “unlikely” was actually supposed to mean close to impossible which it certainly does not. It never did mean that in the first place. It was just made up that way in my mind. It feels like unlikely meant almost impossible for me but maybe slightly more likely for someone else that I don’t know somewhere off in a distant place. It also does not mean that. It means exactly as it is presented - not likely to happen but it still could. I had just cut out the last part that it could happen.Read more
The last little bit has been very busy for me. I have report cards due at school tomorrow and I’ve been sick (again). I’m finally getting over it but I’ve fallen behind in the things I need to do. So I’m writing this at 10:00 pm at night, just after finishing report cards, which is not like me but I haven’t had any other time. Not to mention that there’s still everything around my house that needs to get done and it’s just sitting there waiting for me. It’s times like these (among many other times) that I feel alone.
I guess it really has to do with living alone. I alone am the only one responsible for managing my house, cooking, cleaning, Tango (my dog) and taking care of me (extra credit to the widows doing it also taking care of young kids). Gone are the days of, “I am swamped at work, would you be able to figure out dinner tonight?” or “I’m not feeling well, can you take Tango out today?” If I don’t do it then it doesn’t get done. It’s a lot to do and it’s overwhelming at times. David and my family help me when they can but it’s not the same ownership or shared responsibility as sharing the house. I know I could ask for more help but I know everyone is busy with their own lives and I really don’t want to bother anyone with silly little things. Plus, it’s not like I’m the first person ever to live on her own. I just had the advantage (or disadvantage?) of knowing how it could be different and shared and so now it’s hard not to think of that.
I do sometimes pretend to ask Mike to do things for me when I feel like this but really, that’s my crazy, tired widow coming out. Like knowing there will be no response, I’ll say, “hey Mike, do you think you could take a turn watering the plants today?” or “I cleaned the washrooms, could you vacuum the floor?” And then I half laugh to myself because what else is there to do when you’re overwhelmed and tired talking to yourself/dead husband about stupid, unimportant chores? It just solidifies that if I don’t do it then it doesn’t get done.Read more
I have always thought of myself as an adventurous person. I have never enjoyed sitting still and I enjoy trying new things and exploring. I love being outdoors in nature and a little bit of adrenaline. That being said, I would like to emphasize that I wrote that I like just a little bit of adrenaline. Not too much at any point. I like being in control.
After Mike died I realized I never really had all the control I thought I had. I had to go the flow. I had no control over the most important part of my life and I didn’t have the motivation or reason to try to gain it in other parts either.
I also understood the cliché that life is short. I realized that my life could be over at any point and I questioned if I was really experiencing it the way I wanted. I constantly asked myself: Would I be satisfied with myself and what I’ve done if my life ended today? My answer was often ‘no.’ I found that in many areas I was so cautious that I wasn’t really experiencing what I wanted to experience. I was so afraid of failing, or being embarrassed, or hurting myself that I held myself back and didn’t allow myself to fully enjoy the experiences I wanted. I was living but not to my full potential. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I figured that I would rather have a life lived to the fullest then have a long cautious life full of nothing. What’s the point of being alive until you’re old if you never really lived? It seemed all of a sudden like such an obvious waste.
So I started to make an effort to get out of my own way. I accepted my nerves and anxiousness and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do the things I wanted to do. I told myself that I am capable and I can do it. Some things were baby steps and some things were diving right in. For example, I have snowboarded for years but would constantly stop myself to slow down even though I had the skills to go faster. I pushed harder and challenged myself in all the things I enjoyed. It was exhilarating. I realized I was previously stuck in a middle ground of doing things but not fully doing them for years. It wasn’t until I started pushing and challenging myself a bit that I realized how amazing it all was and what I had been missing. I’m glad I took the risks.Read more