Death has been on my mind a lot the past week, and I don’t even know why. There haven’t been any major milestones or triggers. No birthdays of people who are dead. No death anniversaries. No real explanation, yet I’ve been unable to shake these shadowy figures in my mind. The haunting things I know will one day happen to more people I love. And to me. And it just plain sucks.
It could be something as small as not getting good sleep lately, or the muscle strain I’ve had in my neck for the past 3 weeks that won’t seem to subside… or even just the lingering winter weather that will not seem to go away here in Ohio.
I suppose the one thing that has been a trigger was an email from my aunt - giving me some old lab results about cancers my aunt and grandmother had. It's information I needed for sure, but still hard to swallow. They both survived their breast cancer, unlike my mom. Still though, it makes it very likely that either my sister or I, or both of us, will one day be told we have cancer too. It’s quite possibly the most terrifying thing imaginable to me... facing this particular disease showing up in some way in my life again...Read more
If you’ve read Sarah's Post this past Sunday, then you are aware that she and I (and Shelby) were in Corpus Christi, Texas, over an extended weekend. One of her longest and closest friends was marrying, and Sarah herself was a bridesmaid. In that regards, I wasn’t a widower this past weekend. I was the “second partner” of a widow.
I’ve chosen to expand upon this. Sarah and I are in the unique position of both being writers here, both being widowed, and both dating (and cohabitating) with each other. While much of my writing deals with the emotions, stress, and perspectives of losing Megan, this past weekend was much more important from the other side of dating a widow.Read more
Ahhh yes...the holidays. It is a constant ride of ups and downs, like the world’s most depressing roller coaster. Kicking off with Thanksgiving. Spending time with friends and family, circled around a hearty dinner and laughter, I get to remember that Megan died just a week before that day. I don’t get to remember the 33 prior enjoyable Thanksgiving dinners. It doesn’t work. All I can recall is sitting in my parents’ dining room, crying, and having to leave the room in the middle of dinner.
Then, following that Thursday comes the epitome of consumerism...Black Friday. I avoid anyplace that may sell something like the plague that day. “You’re not going to con me into buying your baubles, Mr. Scrooge!” as I shake my fist in the air. But it’s fruitless. Inevitably, I'll need to fuel up my car, and Christmas music will be playing everywhere, even at the gas station. Sure enough, “Blue Christmas”, or “I’ll be home for Christmas” will softly emanate from a tinny speaker somewhere. Done. You’ve succeeded, Ebeneezer, in depressing me.
November 19th. It’s “the” date. A week before Thanksgiving, and the start of the holiday season. The weather has turned cold, the leaves are off the trees, halloween is over, My work begins to slow down, as does the seemingly endless string of summer and early fall weekends where we have plans with family and friends.
For all intents and purposes, November was always a “quiet” time of year, when I could sit back and take a breather. I could focus on preparing the house for winter, lazily erect a Christmas tree, and read the newspaper as the first snowfalls and blustery winds crisply blew in. Full blown winter hadn’t arrived yet, and you would not catch me anywhere near a shopping area this time of year. The lawn and any gardens or flowerbeds are dormant, leaves are cleaned up, and there isn’t any real snow to shovel yet.
November was “easy”. Three years ago, that all changed.
You know that feeling when you walk into a store and see something your beloved late spouse would have liked and for a brief moment, you think, I should get that for him…and then you remember, he’s not here anymore.
I went into Costco this week to pick up a few things, and that happened…again. I saw a pair of shorts he would have loved. Honestly, I was so hurried on my errand - I feel maybe too busy these days, my grief had been taking a back seat to my new exploits in career, so it took me a bit by surprise.
Yesterday, August 9th, would have been our 18th wedding anniversary. Can it really be so long since that day we said our vows on that beach in Maui? He died before we made 14. I hear of people married 25 years, 40 years, 55 years…we never got that. But I am grateful for the years we did have. Believe me.
One of Mike’s best friends died recently here in Kona. Tabo and his family were endearingly important to our happy welcome to this island when we moved here in 2001. We shared so many meals together, holidays, birthdays. His wife Lani taught me to weave ti plant leis and to pick the flowers from our native Ohia trees…I remember she told me the legend that if you picked an Ohia flower, it would rain, and the day we first did that together, it did indeed start to rain. That time was just purely magical for us, becoming part of life here on this remote island with its rich history.
That moment when you think you see him. The same shirt, the same belly, the same hair…from a distance, without your glasses, you really, truly think it’s him. Your heart lurches…you look again more closely, and even for the next moment, knowing it couldn’t possibly be him, it still looks so much like him your heart continues to pound.
You don’t want to put your glasses on, you don’t want to let your brain be rational, you just don’t want to remember just for another long moment, that it’s not him. Just for another second, please be him.
To be honest, nothing much rattles me these days. I think I used to get more wound up about things before Mike died. I was younger, and lacked perspective. And there is something to the idea that I have gone through such a difficult experience, losing him, that nothing much compares, so I take things more in stride.
Losing my house, planning a move to a place and on a timetable yet undecided, meager finances, starting a new career, going through the catastrophe of my dad’s condition last year…people often ask me how I am dealing with it all. I just shrug. What can I do? Why get twisted? It does no good. Grief is plenty enough. Worry is a completely wasted energy. That was something Mike was always trying to teach me. Well, I think I finally get it, at least for the big stuff.
I was just remembering that book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and chuckling to myself. This was a week of comparatively small stuff.
Remember as a kid when you would hold your hand out the car window and float it up and down in the wind? As a kung fu guy, Mike would play with the wind the same way, with the same joy as that child riding in the car. I have a hard time describing how that large man would seem to float effortlessly in the air, twirling, kicking, jumping, his arms moving in spirals so fast your eyes could barely keep up. And in big wind, he had even more fun. He used to love to go to the windiest spots on the island to play like that.Read more
On a day-to-day basis, I’m fairly composed and not overly sensitive to things that remind me of Megan, her illness, or the fact that she’s gone. Shelby acheives honor roll like clockwork, and though it reminds me of how proud Megan would be, and I wish she was there, it’s an “it is what it is situation”, where I can be happy for both of us and go about my day. I can hear and talk about others that are sick, watch shows or read about widowers or illness, or drive by the hospital she was treated and died in, and it doesn’t really phase me.
Chalk that up to years of becoming desensitized to it all. Long-term illness has a way of letting you begin grieving long before it is “required”, so that you are already well into the process when the time comes. Although Megan’s death was “sudden”, in that we didn’t know precisely what day of the month it would occur, it wasn’t a “surprise”.
So, when a neighborhood stray cat was evidently hit by a car, at first, I thought not too much of it, and decided, with Sarah, that we needed to take care of it with a clear head and confidence. Out came one of the largest triggers I’ve had since Megan’s death.Read more