Tomorrow is our first
And, I call it our Wedding Anniversary even though Mike died before we said
I married him in a thousand different ways before he even asked me to be his wife.
In our hearts we were husband and wife;
And, now given the circumstance, people tell me that's what matters.
Still, I wish I stood before Mike in a white dress.
I wish my eyes met his as he lifted my veil.
I wish we were pronounced Husband and Wife.
But, that is not what happened.
And, well, this evening,
the night before our first wedding anniversary, certainty isn’t how I pictured it.
Sometimes I can not believe any of this is truly real.
As I type this, I can feel it, tonight is not going to be easy...
These anniversary dates are beyond difficult.
I miss him to the depths of me.
But, missing Mike doesn’t change his deadness.
The intensity of my “missingness” doesn’t bring him back to life.
So, I will just accept, that tonight is harder than the other nights.
I will remember my husband.
I will wish the future was how we imagined it would be,
Then, I will cry because it is so very different than we expected.
And, then, I will cry some more.
And, after, I will dry my tears,
And, I will listen to our favorite songs on repeat,
While I will celebrate our Love for one another.
I am anxious because as the stars come out later tonight,
I know that I will miss my husband
- to the depths of me.
He is supposed to be here celebrating our first wedding anniversary.
But, he's not here.
At least not physically...
So, I will sit alone in my backyard,
And, I will imagine what our life would be like if he didn’t die.
Because, now, all I can do now is imagine...
If Mike was alive,
I know we’d be going away tonight to celebrate our Anniversary.
With our suitcases packed,
And, our hearts even fuller,
We’d head out into the world.
Hand in hand.
We’d be filled with gratitude for the life we share this past year as newlyweds.
Wherever we were,
I know that we’d stay up too late talking about all our hopes and dreams.
Mike and I were really best friends.
It felt like we were having a lifelong sleepover with one another.
It was almost too good to be true.
(Then it was.)
Sometimes we’d look at each other and smile
because we couldn’t believe how much fun we were having.
It was fun in the simplest sense.
We'd sit in bed and eat twizzlers and watch tv.
And, other times we’d have a hot tub under the light of the moon.
Then, we’d turn the music on a little too loud and crowd each other
by the stove at midnight as we drank wine and made grilled cheese sandwiches
on his favorite cheap white bread.
It was a sweet, crazy love.
And, I miss it.
At the time, we both knew there was something beyond magical between us.
But, we couldn’t quite name it.
I still can’t.
Tonight, in honour of all that we were together,
I will drink red wine and I will wish he was here with me
- like I do every single day.
But, tonight, I will wish he was here a little harder than usual.
Our Love was a beautiful love to witness while Mike was here on Earth.
And, it remains a strong love - even now.
Ours is a big love. A love that reaches across dimensions.
I miss you to the depths of me.
When I say to the depths of me,
I mean I yearn for you,
With all that I am
-in my human form.
And, then further.
The aching for you lives,
Both, inside and outside of me.
I feel all the missingness,
Loosely, messily, precariously
Contained inside of me.
Ricocheting off the corners of my mind.
But, the real missingness,
is bigger than the thoughts of you living inside my head.
I miss you from within my heart.
And, I am not talking about a heart drawn with red, waxy crayon.
I am speaking of my Heart space.
Where my love for you lives.
I miss you from my being’s
Because, I love you with my Soul.
And, now, I miss you with my Soul.
Over the last few weeks,
Something in my mindset has changed.
And, in the process,
I’ve rediscovered how to taste,
His memory on my lips.
-in this reality.
HOW is this done?
It’s actually pretty easy...
I AM FALLING OUT OF GRIEF,
And, I am falling in Love with Life
-all over again.Read more
A year ago, if someone told me that my life would fall into place again I would have hoped what they were telling me was right. The problem is that hope does not provide a sense of contentment because hope can only take you so far. It is just a starting point. There is a big difference between hoping and knowing. Now, finally, inside my heart, I know, without a doubt, that I will be okay. In truth, I know that I will be better than okay. And, let me be completely realistic, this peace of mind has been well earned. I have spent the better part of the last twenty months working hard to come to this place. The sense of peace I am feeling hasn't come easy, but it is well deserved.
I have come to believe that everything in my life is going according to plan. A plan that is much bigger than me or Mike. I do not know exactly what the plan is; but, I know that I am being lead in the right direction. Recently, my mindset has become different and I am better for the change. I am more content since I've acknowledged that the plan itself is none of my business. Sure, it's my life and I am obviously interested in the outcome; but, I mean it, what happens to me is really not for me to worry about. I am much more at peace now that I have loosened the reigns; and, I am confident that my future is in better hands than mine.
Since I have removed myself from the responsibility of leading me in the right direction, I no longer feel that it is necessary to plan every little detail about my life. I am so grateful that I am no longer endlessly strategizing and envisioning elaborate scenarios in my mind. Existing with this mindset was completely exhausting and unnecessary. It's ironic, now, I do less; and, this has made all the difference.
I now concede that whatever will be, will be - in spite of what I do, or do not do. It seems so simple, but for the longest time this concept was beyond me. After Mike died I thought I had to "fix" my life and my broken self. Now, I understand that my life is going to be exactly as it is intended to be and the best thing I can do is move aside and let things unfold. I know this might sounds lofty, or naive, or over simplistic. I assure you, I am just sharing what I've come to know. I really believe that by relinquishing the control I was desperately clinging to I am now heading in the right direction, in spite of myself.
In the past, when I was trying to steer my life, I was holding the wheel so tight that I wasn't enjoying the drive. I was missing the point. Now, I have stopped trying to control my destiny. I am no longer interfering in the direction of my life because I have faith that I am being lead towards the future I am intended to live.Read more
I should have started writing my blog a long time ago, but the day got away from me because I got busy L-I-V-I-N-G . I didn't do anything particularly noteworthy today. In fact, I spent the better part of the day doing "normal" things; which, in and of itself, is not extraordinary. But, what was exceptional about today was that I actually got caught up in being "normal". For the first time in a long while, I went about my day like most ordinary people do; and, for brief moments, I didn't think about Mike being dead. Today, I gave myself permission to do something other than grieve. I allowed myself to just be alive. And, it felt good.
To be clear, in the months since Mike died, I've had my fair share of busy days; but, today was unique because I felt less like I was simply distracted from my grief because of the business of life. His death didn't lord over my mind today because I did not allow it to. Today, I consciously picked life and living over my grief.
Today I didn't organize my thoughts around his deadness.
Today I lived more than I grieved.
It wasn't the content of my day that was amazing,
My satisfaction simply comes from me choosing to live over ruminating about his death.
Today I put LIVING before grief and I'm better for it.
I have come to a place where I accept that my life hasn't stopped because Mike died. There are still demands on me and of me. And, I am keeping up with my responsibilities and, I'm glad for this. But, even more importantly, recently, I am doing more than what I am duty bound to do, I am starting to live a little for myself again.
The day he died, if you told me that it would be possible for me to live on I would have desperately wanted you to be right; but, I wouldn't have believed you. Now, twenty months out, maybe it still surprises me a bit that I am actually living.
However, I am no longer satisfied simply living.
Now, I want to thrive.
And, there is a huge difference in the two things.
The fact that I am now differentiating between living and thriving indicates to me that my grief is changing.
I think we all feel “lost” in some way, and sometimes in all ways.
But, understand, feeling lost after the person you love dies doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself forever.
I know that outliving the person you love isn’t easy. In truth, it’s easily the hardest thing I’ve ever been forced to do.
I remember many nights I stood in front of the stove and unconsciously rocked myself, in an effort to become ‘present’, as I half-heartedly cooked dinner for my kids -all the while hoping I wouldn’t die from the aching in my Soul.
The good news is that I didn’t die from Mike’s death. However, from his death, I’ve learned that nothing in life is constant. When he died everything about my life changed - quite literally overnight. I remember feeling completely and utterly disorientated. The days following his death are a blur. I remember feeling like I was having an out of body experience. I stood for hours surveying the mess that was left of my life. All our hopes and dreams were shattered into a million pieces - scattered all around me. I wanted to “fix” my brokenness, but I didn’t know where to begin. I had no clue how to move forward; but, instinctively I knew I couldn’t stay still forever...
Death forces change.
And, these changes are usually unexpected and always unwelcomed - at least initially.
For most of us, accepting change is hard at the best of times; and while grieving change is especially challenging
- albeit unavoidable.
In the early days, grief suspends you in a type of paralysis where your mind becomes frozen; and, all decisions, both big and small, feel overwhelming. I think this happens because death shatters everything we believe about the assumptive world; and, it takes a significant amount of time for the mind to recover from this.
However, I assure you, with time, and hard work you can and will steady yourself. And, once you reestablish your bearings it is possible to slowly regain your sense of self; and, with that, your self confidence...
It goes without saying that I miss Mike. He was my life companion. My best friend. My lover. My Soul's mate. He was my person. The one who championed me. He was the man who loved me to the depths of my Soul - from the depth of his own.
But, now he is dead. And, I am here missing all that he was.
To say that I miss his love is an understatement. When he was alive, Mike introduced me a love that was big, bold, and beautiful. I long to have our love back. And, a piece of me will always desire his love because it is impossible to have been shown a love of this power and immensity and not want more of it - to want it to last forever. Suffice to say, Mike made me a life long fan of love. And, today, like every day, I continue to crave his physical presence in my life.
Simply 'sensing' his presence is not the same for me. Continuing to love someone in separation -across dimensions- is possible, but it is different from loving each other in the physical world.
I don't know much, but I know that Mike still loves me from afar, from wherever he is. But, now, his love is no longer tangible to me. I know that his love has grown deeper since he died; but, now, his love is not something I can experience with all my senses. I struggle because I want his love to still be enough to sustain me - for the rest of my life - but it is not enough. I wish it was. But, it just isn't. As a human being I need more; and, it is crushing to admit this to myself.
I was 43 years old when Mike took his last breath. I was young. I am still young. And, age aside, I can not imagine living the rest of my life alone. And, this isn't because I am afraid of being alone. I'm divorced - I've chosen to be alone before. And, again, as a widow, I will chose to remain alone unless true love comes for me. But, for reasons I can't explain, I know that love will find me again one day - in some capacity.
Since Mike died, I've accepted that I need a palpable love. I know and respect that some widowed people are content to remain alone. They are satisfied with their choice and I am envious of them in some ways. I often question why I am not completely happy without being in love. I don't know the answer to this. But, after 602 days, I accept that I need a type of love that the man I love can not give me anymore. I need a love I can taste with my lips. A love I can see with my eyes. A love I can hear with my ears. A love I can touch with my hands. I want to be drunk on a love like this - again- before my life is over.
Mike wants me to be happy.
Mike wants me to live.
Mike wants me to love and be loved again.
I want these things too.
But, this is not easy stuff.
Or, is it?
Outliving your spouse is many things, and simple isn't one of them.
It is complicated. All sorts of complicated.
But, at the same time, it is actually very straightforward too.
Widowhood does not come with a map. In the beginning, there are no familiar landmarks and the curves on the road are unfamiliar. As you set out on your way, you will spend a great deal of time bumping into things as you shimmy along, and that's okay. The important thing is that you are moving and forward momentum is always a good thing. It's likely that you will not know what direction you are headed in, and that is okay too. It is time to have faith that everything will be "okay", somehow.
There have been many new beginnings born from Mike's death. I have met new people and some of these new acquaintances have become friends. And, further, some of these friends speak in Grief's mother tongue. I easily understand them because I am now fluent in grief. These new friends understand the language my heart speaks and there is great comfort in this. However, widowhood is a long journey and it demands solo traveling at times. My friends can accompany me and offer me empowering advice and encourage me with their words; but, I must recreate a life for myself. I need to navigate my way through this "mess" - no one can do this for me.
Wading through the quagmire of grief isn't easy stuff.
But, in order to re-engage in life we must sort through the broken shards of the life we imagined.
This is tedious.
This is grueling.
Simply put, it is hard work.
My fingers are bloody and raw from clawing my way back towards life.
But, bloody fingers aside, I know that the life ahead of me is worth it.
Re-entering life, without Mike, is the most difficult thing I have attempted to do in my life. There is a lot of uncertainty in my future, but more importantly, there is potential. Before me are boundless opportunities.
Once again, I find myself on a ledge. I am paused because I am scared. But, even more significant, I am excited. I am actually somewhat enthusiastic about life again. I feel it - I am standing on the edge of something big. And, in time, I am going to leap towards the new life that is waiting for me. And, I KNOW that I will land on my feet - somehow.
With hindsight, I know that there is no way I could have better prepared for what has been required of me since Mike died. Widowhood is something you have to live to fully understand. There is no way to adequately explain this life in words. It is something that has to be experienced first hand to be comprehended.
This being the case, there is a strong kinship among those in the widowed community because our hearts speak the same language. We speak in fairly simple, yet carefully chosen words. The dialect of this 'language' can not be learned or interpreted - because it is not understood unless you are one of us. The aching inside us, the emptiness within us, and the sadness in our eyes is spoken in Grief's mother tongue. Widowed people do not need an interpreter. In fact, we often have the exact same tone in our voices . We can easily recognize what is said by others who are fluent in grief. And, maybe, more importantly, we hear what is not spoken by those who have lost the one they love. In short, we understand one another without words because there really are no words to adequately explain widowhood and how gutting it is.
Grief itself has many shared characteristics no matter who you are. The feelings of grief do not discriminate by gender, race or socio-economics. I believe that the emotions of grief are somewhat universal. Yet, our own grief is unique to each of us. It's ours. No one person feels the exact same way about losing their person.
We widowed people understand one another without words or explanation because we have lived through those lonely nights that we thought would swallow us whole. We have nearly crawled out of our skin yearning for the touch of our person. We have gasped for breathe because of the permanence of our situation. Their absence is forever - for the rest of our lives - and this changes everything about our future. Hence, we have been brought to our knees. We have laid on the cold, hard floor sobbing and wishing this was not our reality. We each know exactly how these things feel because we have done these things many, many times since they died. Thankfully, grief is fluid. The rawness of grief changes with time; but surviving the initial months of grief is something that is etched into your Soul. Outliving the person you love is something that changes you forever...
As time goes on, my grief has softened around the edges; and, for the most part, I appear to be "okay" - except that I'm not. And, recently, I have accepted that this is the way life is for me right now. And, I am okay - that I'm not okay.
I think that this is part of grief - to just accept that you are changed and working towards a future that you can't yet imagine. In grief, one must just breathe and have faith that things will work out - eventually. I now know that there is nothing I can do to "heal" myself - other than just live. I have to live the best way I can, and I must learn to forgive myself when I exist poorly some moments. Ironically, whether I like it or not, Mike's death is teaching me about living. (It is what it is.)
Recently, I find that I am continuously lost in my own thoughts. I spend hours imagining the future that we wanted to live together. I spend far too much time wishing things were different. And, I also spend a lot of time convincing myself that this is actually real.
He is dead. He is dead. He is really dead.
And, nothing can change it.
I say these words to myself again and again,
Because, one year and seven months later,
Mike's death is still surreal to me.
Maybe it always will be...
I can not believe how drastically different my life is without him. All day long I ask myself "NOW WHAT?" ... What the hell am I supposed to do without him? I don't have the answer. I have more questions than answers and I think that's okay for right now. It has to be.
Music was always playing in both our homes.
And, now there are certain songs that bring me back to a better place in time.
A time, when Mike was alive.
A time, when I was in love with a man who stood before my eyes.
Our familiar songs take me back to a place in time where he exists.
A time, when he breathed life and love into me.
A time, not so long ago, when he existed in the same dimension as me.
Somewhere, in another place,
He still holds his memories of me,
And, when he hears his favorite songs, he comes and quietly puts his arms around me.
And, he dances with me in the backyard, under the light of the moon and the stars.
Now, I just wish I could feel him the way I used to...
Even after 581 days, the lyrics and melodies of our songs take me right back to his comfortable, little kitchen. I close my eyes and I can live those sweet moments between us over, and over again. I have memorized how, with authority, he pushed back his chair from the kitchen table. How he stood with confidence, firmly planted. How he patiently waited as he held out his hand to me. That moment is suspended somewhere in time. And, how I so desperately wish I could reach out and take his hand in mine again, for one last dance.
I know exactly how my hand felt falling into his. I can still feel his strong hand holding mine. I know the way his wide fingers gently lace through mine. I know the touch of him, and I always will...
And, even now, I know the way Mike pulled me into him. I know the exact way it felt as he took me in his arms and moved me toward him. I know how my body blended into his as he held me to his chest. Often, when he pulled me to him, he would bend down and press his forehead to mine; then, he'd stand tall and look into my eyes. After a moment, he'd whisper to me "Stace, you make me so happy. I love you - so - much". My ears know the precise inflection of his voice as he pronounced each of these words to me. I know this moment because I've lived it again and again in my mind for the last year and seven months.
With love in his heart, Mike lead me around the well worn wooden floor of his modest kitchen. And, while the music softly played, we danced. Magically, we became the only two people in the world. Today, I can still ‘feel’ Mike dancing with me like it’s happening right this moment. My hand in his. My head resting gently on his chest - as all of me falls into him.
What I wouldn’t do to feel him again. What I wouldn’t do to feel his arms around me one last time. Sometimes, I miss him so desperately that I hold my hands out in front of me and I ask him to dance with me. Dammit, what I wouldn't give to feel his hand press softly into the small of my back. I would love one last dance with the man I love.
Certain songs take me back to a time when he casually sat on the porch by my side. If that back porch could talk; oh the stories it’d tell. Our short, sweet love story unfolded right there. It felt as though the world stopped and there was no one but us under the light of the moon.
I remember how we talked many a night away with a passion that is usually reserved for teenagers. And, sometimes, if I close my eyes, I can still feel that same cool summer breeze blow against me. And, in this breeze, I feel Mike beside me.
In the ordinariness of those nights, I fell in love with him. It wasn't the fancy dinners or the beautiful places he took me that won my heart. Nope, it was him. It was the easy to please farm kid who I fell in love with. It was his company on those balmy summer nights that stole my heart. It was his warm, heartfelt smile that shone in the twilight hour, it was the kindness in his voice that rang out in the darkness. It was his authentic laugh that reeled me in. It was all him. It was how he kept company with me, leaning into every word I spoke. To my Mike, there was no one else; and, there was nowhere else he'd rather be. He was content. And, he was madly in love with me. I was loved with every piece of his heart and Soul. And, dammit I miss his love. I miss being loved so completely and purely. It was a beautiful life, and a beautiful love...