I didn't even know how to process that. I said no, to each one that asked. I had NO intention of dancing with a boy. Ew. A few asked why, so I dropped the widow bomb. That's definitely the quickest way to keep men from coming back around! So for a while my girlfriends and I just went about our way on the dance floor together, laughing and having a great time.
Yesterday was one of those days in this after life that was both incredible and heartbreaking all at once. Earlier this year, I started going to the gym and took up Crossfit to try and get into shape. I hadn't done anything for over a year since he died and was really out of shape. Not to mention I've never really been athletic my entire adult life.
So yesterday was big because I went to my first Crossfit competition. And it was cold. And rainy. And I had a cold. And I somehow still didn't back down and I did all three of my workouts to compete. I was on a high all day... The very fact that I was even there was amazing. The fact that just a year ago I'd never have imagined I'd be doing something like this was so fulfilling.
I didn't win anything, I did probably somewhere around mediocre compared to all the other women. But that didn't matter. I showed up. And I worked harder than I ever have. And I beat my own practice times by a lot. And I did it with a layer of grief underneath it all.
I’m completely devastated this week. There was a horrible mixup while I was out of town last week and I discovered that a dress was accidentally thrown out. Not just a dress - but THE dress which I have been wearing in every weekly self portrait I have taken for the past 7 months (shown above). It was the main prop in this year-long series about living with loss. The irony here is not lost on me. I have just lost my most important prop in a project about losing my most important person. Gone without warning. Without my having any say in the matter. Just like my fiancé and our life together. It is all too familiar a story.
What. The. Hell.
Now the entire project must change. I cannot replace the dress - it was vintage and would be impossible to find again. I'll have to instead continue the project in a new direction. The way I've had to continue my life in a new direction. I really HATE how precisely this event mirrors losing him. It has triggered me in all sorts of ways about his death and about my having to live on.Read more
I was talking to a widowed friend the other night about the whole idea of sharing this part of our life and how it changes over time. I remember well the first year after my fiance died. The first thing out of my mouth was this information. I told everyone and anyone. Friends, family, coworkers, customers, the mail man, police officers, the tech support guy, random strangers... No one was safe. I spewed my raw pain out all over the world like a continually erupting volcano.
My friend did the same. We talked about how at first, it is the only thing we wanted to talk about. It is the only thing that mattered. And for a while, it really did swallow up our identity. And we talked about how we felt like we lost the whole rest of our identity for a time to the label "widow". Which left us both feeling conflicted - simultaneously wanting to be completely defined by our love for this person, and resentful that people now only saw us as a widow.Read more
I just want to be alone so much lately. I've always been a bit introverted, but I literally haven't wanted to be around anyone at all lately - and that's not like me. For me, it can be so easy to just close off from the world. I know it's one of those things I have to be careful about keeping in check. Particularly as an artist - it is extremely tempting to only express my emotions through the things I create. While this is very healing way to express my pain - it can also turn on me and become a way of keeping the world at a distance if I'm not careful. I can begin create an image of myself through my art - let people see my pain the way I want them to see it. Sometimes, it's tempting to only let people see my pain that way.Read more
This past week, I've been under the weather with a mysterious illness. On Tuesday, my lymph nodes started to swell up. By Wednesday they were the size of golf balls and very tender. And then some glands in my cheeks started to do the same. Needless to say, by Wednesday night I looked like I had gained twenty pounds on my face. I actually had no other symptoms of any kind save being a tad achy and tired - so when I went to the doctor on Friday, even he was stumped. Whatever it is, it seems to be subsiding with the antibiotics he gave me though, but the whole week of dealing with this has been awful.
I've been sick since Drew died a few times - colds, flus, stuff like that. But the last time I remember my anything that changed my physical appearance was when I got my wisdom teeth removed a few years ago. And he was by my side the whole time… laughing at my chipmunk cheeks and making me laugh which made me look even dumber and made us both laugh even harder. Funny as it was, I knew I looked awful, yet here I was looking completely beautiful through this man's eyes.
I've been thinking a lot lately about accomplishment, and just how important it has been in helping me to heal and learn to live again. I'm a few months into my third year of being widowed now. Since he died, there have been dozens and dozens of leaps into the unknown. Like most of you, a lot of what I have accomplished I did not have a choice in; planning his funeral, making it through all of the "first"s of year one, or even just getting out of bed on the days when I had only about one cell left in me that was strong enough to do so.
It can be so easy to forget to look back at all the things we've accomplished, especially when we're in pain. Even though these past few years are full of things I never wanted to accomplish - things I never wanted to be able to say I have done - each one of them still makes me feel incredibly proud. It's a kind of pride unlike any other. Because his death did break me… it completely broke me. And for a long time, I was terrified I might not survive. Yet here I am, somehow, learning to live a beautiful life once more and discovering that he is still an integral part of that. And I am proud - not because it didn't break me - because it broke me and I am still here.
The past week has been hard. I suppose that isn't surprising... Coming down from a really incredible week surrounding my birthday. I don't know if this has happened to any of you, but every so often there is a week or a month in which I feel like someone put me in a giant slingshot and plummeted me into my new life. And not in a bad way necessarily... But more like I finally relax into the new life and begin to enjoy myself there for a bit. I start to have fun in the new and feel some really deep joy there... the sort I didn't know I could still feel. This has only started to happen maybe over the past six months - as I've entered into my third year without him. And it happened over my birthday this year. I was honestly so busy feeling joy that I didn't ever have that sinking "he's not here" feeling. Instead, I felt like he was there, in my joy. He was there feeling my smile and my laughter dance in the air. And it was beautiful.Read more
It turns out I had a couple of big things happen last weekend. Aside from last week's post, I also met up with my three closest girlfriends halfway between Austin and Dallas to celebrate my birthday. We went out Saturday night to a country dance hall. Now this is the first time I've ever really gone to a dance hall since he died. He and I used to go often - and I'd never gone before I met him... So naturally it didn't occur to me that men would be asking me to dance. But within just a few minutes of being there - guys were walking up and asking all of my friends and I to dance.
Birthdays. It's one of the hardest parts. My first birthday in this afterlife was just three months after my fiancé died. I didn't even want to think about my birthday much less have one. We had decided to go to the Grand Canyon that year for my birthday, since I had never been to a national park. Refusing to spend my 30th birthday in bed, I decided to take the trip anyway. So in late September, his mother and I hopped on a plane and headed for Arizona. It felt like exactly the right place to be, and the exact right person to be there with. On the morning of my birth, there we stood, silently overlooking the canyon… both feeling a connection to this deep wound in the earth because of our own deep wounds of loss.Read more
The cold front comes in
and chills my bones
with the reality
that you are not coming home -
That none of my family is.
not my mother
not my father
and not you.
So many people I have lost already
in thirty-two years of living
I have lived and died already
many lifetimes in this body.