A while ago, Mike and I wrote this post together about some of the things that are harder about being two widowed people in a new relationship. In that post, we talked about how we aren’t ever able to really pull the widow card on one another, because essentially - it’s canceled out. We’ve both been through an equally hard pain.
We have also both been through an equally beautiful love. A love that was - and still is - with someone else. While it’s not fun to admit, we had a fight last night. As with most fights, it started with something small that became something not so small. As emotions calmed though and we talked through many layers of feelings - there was one subject that came up that is something we both feel and something that is always complex. And that something is because we are both widowed.
It is the feeling that we are each other’s “Second choice”. And it might surprise some people to know that even when you are both widowed, you still have this feeling, and it can still be hard. So we wanted to each share our side of this struggle:Read more
The holiday season is over. Starting in early November, every year, I begin pondering Megan’s death at an elevated rate, leading up to the anniversary of it. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all occurring in the weeks just after, it’s two months of absolute stress, that nobody seems to understand, including myself. My work becomes overwhelming, the weather is never “nice”, no matter what the actual conditions, and it feels as if my world is falling apart.
I present myself as totally and unalterably angry, save for the three to five days where I am just flat-out depressed, until sometime on or around January 2nd of the new year. There is no specific pattern, other than November starting, along with the initial thought of “this is the month Megan died”. It’s all a plummet from there.
I have no control over it. I can intellectually analyze it and realize that my anxiety is wholeheartedly related to her death occurring within the month, but 95 percent of the time, it is buried in my subconscious, with the quick-hitting excuses of “work sucks”, “money is tight”, or “I’m just tired” taking the forefront.
The holidays have become something to “get through” anymore.
I got through them.Read more
Yesterday Mike and I booked the first big part of our honeymoon for next summer - a beautiful cabin set in between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It's exciting for sure, but also, terrifying...
Why does something this simple have to be so scary for me? I spent entirely too much time online checking reviews and double checking other options and stretching everything out that I could last night. Instead of just finding a place, booking it, and moving on. As time stretched on, Mike grew mildly frustrated (understandably!) and just wanted me to book the thing. Sometimes, I really need his push. Sometimes, the thought of committing to a plan that is over 6 months away is so so hard. Sometimes, all I can think about is “But what if you die before then?”.
Travel is always a specifically hard one for me, because Drew was halfway across the country when he died. And what’s worse, is that I had plane tickets fly from Dallas and see him three weeks after he arrived in Washington. He died a week before I was supposed to go up. Ever since then, I’ve had a hard time with actually committing to big travel expenses like plane tickets and hotel bookings. That part of me that was so traumatized by his sudden death is always in the background thinking “but what IF Sarah… what IF…”Read more
Sarah and I are planning our wedding, taking place next year. Vaguely, it is going to be somewhat informal, in the sense that the traditional rehearsal, church, event hall, catering, DJ, etc are either going to not be a part of it, or otherwise substituted in a more unique way.
I’ve helped plan a wedding before. 14 years ago, Megan and I were “locked in” so to speak, by May. Our wedding was in August, and everything was booked, arranged, planned, and scripted. Invitations were not only sent out, but most RSVPs had been received. We had spent 6 months already getting everything in order. (Because of her health situation, all of it was somewhat “accelerated” from the traditional year of planning).
The point is, I’ve personally done this before. Most widows have. I have the benefit of a happy memory of doing half the work of planning a wedding, followed by a happy memory of nine years after the fact.Read more
Since becoming an involentary widow almost 8 years ago, I have changed in many positive ways.
I am more empathetic.
I am more sympathetic.
I am less judgemental of people's lives and situations and circumstances.
I listen better.
I stop to talk with people more.
I find more meaning and beauty in very tiny things.
I exist in the moment more.
I love profoundly and deeply.Read more
It’s been a little over a month now since Mike proposed. I’ve had a few hard triggers. Trying to think about planning a wedding has been tough at first. The last time I was going to marry someone, he died before we ever got to the big day. He died before we ever even got into the true planning. So needless to say, that part of me that remembers is very aware. I’ve had a few moments of just bursting into heavy, deep sobs because sometimes it feels like reliving the past and it gets very scary to imagine it all disappearing again.
I’ve worried this whole process would be too much to handle, and too emotional to deal with, and that I wouldn’t even be able to manage the idea of planning a wedding ever. But aside from those moments where the fears get big and scary, most of the time, I’ve felt a new awareness of time and a new appreciation for each day.
Just last week, I told Mike, “I’ve gotten to be engaged to you for a whole month now! That’s more than I ever got to before!” And it’s true. Just as with each anniversary year we have hit (4 YEARS next week, wow!)… there is a feeling of thankfulness that we’ve somehow gotten this far. Part of me is still expecting it all to fall apart at any moment like it did when Drew died. But instead of being so afraid of that, I just feel excited for every small piece. Excited to ask one of my best friends to make our wedding cake. Excited to ask another of our closest friends to be the one to marry us. And honored, so honored, that I get the privilege to have had one whole month of planning such a special day, so far. Even if all went wrong and it didn't happen, I still got this part. I still got to spend all this wonderful time dreaming of the day - which is something that was taken from me the last time I was going to marry my person.Read more
We’re a week into the new year, and I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and reflect. Holiday travel definitely takes a lot out of you and we’re only just beginning to get settled back in at home. The thing that I am reflecting on right now as I write to you is mostly, my gratitude, and the big event I wrote about last week - Mike proposing to me.
A lot of people don’t know that Drew never officially proposed to me. He was planning to as soon as he returned from the work trip he was on - only he never returned. But he had sort-of asked in a roundabout way before that… because I was the queen of avoiding large milestones like these. Basically, he wanted reassurance that if he did ask me soon, I would be happy about it and not feel pushed or pressured. In the conversation, I started to overthink and freak out about the idea of it, as I do with most milestones, and then I stopped myself and I told him “Whenever you ask me, I will say yes”. So that’s as far as we actually got. A few weeks later, he was gone, without warning.
I’m sure most understand how painful it is to have not gotten to the proposal, or the wedding, or the first year, or the fifth year, or your first house, or children, or grandchildren… to not have gotten to some milestone. Or a lot of milestones.
This has been my story for the past 6 ½ years. A story I unknowingly settled into. Even though I referred to Drew as my fiance after his death, truly, no one had ever proposed to me. No one had ever said those words to me. And these years since his death, I have been a woman who has never been asked. I think a very old part of my damaged self worth liked to feed off of that sometimes. Like I didn’t deserve it. It’s not rational, and it doesn’t make sense, and I know it isn’t true, but it’s still there… somewhere in the dark corners of my heart, this whispering thought that I don’t deserve to be asked that question.
Only now, that story has been changed by someone new...Read more
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
And so the countdown begins...
In 56 hours or less (not that I'm counting or anything), I will be holding a new little life in my arms. One small person I helped create. One tiny little reminder of what life is really all about.
My sweet little baby boy has no idea what his life represents already in this world. In a place that can be so cold, sometimes stabbing, unfair, and down right hopeless...my little miracle is a reminder that life can and will go on, and that it can and will be beautiful again.
The moment I walked out of my front door in Michigan for the last time, tears fell without warning and without permission. It was as if my body knew what my mind wouldn't allow me to think about or dwell on - that I was leaving behind a huge history and pieces of my heart that would never be found in any other place (cue Monica from Friends screaming as my inner dialogue, "It's the end of an ERA!")