Good advice, right? I have always liked to pass that piece of advice onto my kids whenever I had the opportunity. “Take time off before University. Go see the world. Live your life while you can.” That’s what we used to say to them. We had all sorts of tidbits of advice which included, "Happiness is a choice, so choose it." "Be a good person." "Work hard." "Be kind" and "Live Your Life". We only get one of them.
But then Ben died, and everything changed. I became torn between wanting my kids to live their lives and wanting them home with me every second. I became obsessed with controlling everything they did, even when I knew I was being ridiculous. Even when a little voice inside my head told me to lay off or they would say "Sayonara Mama" and move right out of this house so that they no longer had me breathing down their necks. Even when I caused my son immense frustration. Even when I made my daughter cry.
It seems that after Ben died I no longer wanted them to live the life they wanted … I wanted them to live the life that I wanted. And I wanted them home, safe, and with me every minute.Read more
I think one of the hardest things about losing people we love, is that in a way, we lose a part of our own history when they die. Or at least, we lose one of our living, breathing connections to that history. Without those connections to the history of ourselves, I’m learning it can be easy to get lost. I think this has been especially hard because both of my parents are gone along with Drew. I simply do not have a wealth of people in my life that I'm in touch with often who remember all the many moments of my history with me.
There are pieces of me that I wish so badly to reconnect to - parts of myself I’ve struggled to nurture in this new environment because of stress, busyness, my own self-critical nature… who knows what exactly. Parts of me that I think I was beginning to finally nurture a few years ago, but the upheaval of moving I guess interrupted that more than I could have known it would.
They are pieces of me I wish for Mike to know also. Sometimes it feels like all he has known is this person who is constantly battling overwhelm, feeling homesick, trying to make order out of everything, while periodically having complete meltdowns about her inability to cope pretty much all adulting. I’m certain he would disagree of course, but quite honestly I don’t always feel like he is getting to have the best version of me, at least not right now. I know there is so much more in there. I know because I remember her.
For a while now, I think I’ve believed that losing my parents, my fiance, and proximity to my friends and family and the culture of my state back home meant I lost me too. No doubt, it's left me questioning... without any of that around me to help define me anymore… who am I supposed to be now?Read more
Mike left around 3am Saturday morning, headed out to West Virginia. It's his first major solo backpacking trip since we've been together. Three nights out in the mountains alone, with no cell service. Our only form of contact has been a satellite device that lets him send me preset “all is well” messages with his location every few hours (this is proving to be a complete Godsend for quieting my mind, which is trying like crazy to create horrific stories of him breaking a leg or being mauled by a bear while I’m sitting on the couch watching TV).
I don’t have to tell any of you the sort of feeling this trip brings up. Especially if your person died from a sudden loss, while they were away on a trip. This specific trigger is one I have known I would have to face, some day.
The old me would not bat an eye over this sort of event. I am not a needy person, nor have I ever been. I can spend hours and days alone, and enjoy myself so completely in the space of solitude. For me, it is grounding. Drew was often on trips for work, long weekends or week long trips, sometimes out of service for most of the day. So I was used to this sort of thing before. Well, the old me was.
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
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.
Since Drew was a helicopter pilot, helicopters and anything to do with flying are always the biggest signs I get from him. I even found a tiny toy helicopter in this shack on the island of Barbados last spring while vacationing there with his family. It had washed up on the beach and the guy collected it to sell in his shop. No joke!
And just a few months after he died, in the fall of 2012, I stumbled upon this artist's creative business e-workshop that was called "Flying Lessons". Drew was also a flight instructor, so it was all too obvious that he was telling me something. I signed up immediately. The Facebook group for the course truly carried me through those early months. Because of the theme of the class, all the women in the group would write cheesy encouragements to each other like "keep flying!" or "I'll see you up in the clouds!". It always made me smile, and confirmed he lead me there for a reason.
All things flight definitely seem to follow me around now, but it's been a while since I've had any signs that made me stop in my tracks. Until yesterday…
I was tinkering away on a new sculpture at a local clay studio I just started working with. It was midday and pretty cold, so the place was empty. After about an hour, I took a break to take some process photos of my work, and as I framed the picture, I noticed something written on the worktable just a foot above where I was working. As I read it, I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor…