I know it’s not healthy to think about what could have been. But sometimes I let my mind wander and take a peek of the life we could have had if you had never had your accident. I know this can’t ever exist, but I will always wonder.
I will always wonder if we would have grown old together. If we truly would have decorated our wheelchairs together, like we wanted to. I wonder if we would have gone to Rome, New York, and Hawaii like we said we would.
I wonder if we would buy our cabin up North. I wonder if we would have had more children together. I wonder how you would have grown as a man and as a father to our children. I would have liked to have seen your face, as our little girl continues to hit her milestones and experiences new things. I wonder if you would have held my hand throughout the years, as we would walk beside each other.Read more
I have been pondering comfort, self-care, and help – what each of them is, to me, and what makes one or other easier and/or more accessible than another. Here is where I am at. And no, I have done no Googling or other research into what each of them is. Just research in my own life and experience. They are oft-used terms in Griefland – wobbly yet somehow vital components in this messy puzzle called life. Components that I have been shining a bit of a light on this week, supported by my therapist Catherine, and my grief guru Tom Zuba. This piece of writing won’t be particularly deep, nor complete. Just reflections at a point in time.
Self-Care, and more specifically, Extreme Self-Care. I pride myself on being excellent at “extreme self-care” – a concept I readily stole from Cheryl Richardson, having purchased her book with the same title, some 9 or so years ago. I’ve never done more than flick through her book but read enough to determine my own version of Extreme Self-Care, which has been about learning to trust what is good for me, how to monitor my health and energy, and how to restore energy when it was getting low.
My ability to self-monitor is pretty damned good (she says), and my strategies for (re)filling my bucket are vast. More to the point, my strategies provide enjoyment and are readily accessible. I have long been a bit of a guru, mentor, or role-model for others (specifically professional working mums) when it comes to extreme self-care, and the same skills have served me well in the land of Grief. Nothing makes the loss go away. Nothing makes anything better. But knowing if I am moving towards more pain, or able to shift microscopically towards some ease is often the difference between an awful day and an okay day. My ability to provide myself extreme self-care is second to none. For that I am grateful. And I know it helps me live and function as well as I currently do.Read more
Lately, I’ve been getting this urge to try to find balance in my life. What is the balance? Some people would say, it is to have a job, a family, stability, and security. All those things sound great, but life throws at us unexpected unimaginable things, and somehow someway we can still manage them. So by managing the unimaginable, does that mean we are balanced?
I feel my perspective on life has changed. I don’t see time the same way, relationships the same way, or even tangible items. I know I haven’t fully punched in my bad card, meaning I know more bad things can happen to me. And they have. I am not being pessimistic, but realistic. Just because a few bad things happen to you, doesn’t mean you are done with the bad in life.Read more
Today we welcome a new Widow's Voice Author to our Thursday posts! Mari - welcome to the blog, and thank you for sharing your heart with our readers!
On March 28, 2015, I met the love of my life. We had a peculiar first date, but I got a gut feeling that I needed to give him a second chance. So I did, and falling in love with him, was magical. Just only after five months of dating, he proposed to me in Sedona, AZ, at a beautiful location filled with music, candles, roses, and love. I had never been so sure of anything in my life, but his love. So we decided to get married three months later, and on November 28, 2015, I gave my all to this wonderful man. My husband was a true gentleman. He never raised his voice at me in all the years we were married. He loved me unconditionally and wanted to spend every minute with me. He was kind-hearted, smart, loving, and had a great sense of humor. I felt like I had won the lottery in love. Just after two years of being married, we decided to bring a little bundle of joy into this world. So in 2017, we welcomed a beautiful baby girl. My husband was such a wonderful father. He would help me change diapers, and he would wake up in the middle of the night to feed our daughter, and so much more. I felt blessed and honored to be his wife. Our life was incredibly beautiful, one that you see in movies, or read in novels. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it truly was. We both loved each other unconditionally and would put each other first. Our souls were in-sync. He was my best friend, my rock and indeed my force of strength.Read more
I found this quote last week and it has really stuck in my mind. I feel like I’ve tried so hard just to find myself again since he died that maybe I’ve lost sight of this a little. Continuing on has a way of doing that I guess.
When he first died, I was so aware of this idea. The man died for his dreams… literally. He was in a helicopter flying as a job, the thing he had dreamed of doing, when he crashed and died. It kind of made it hard to use the excuse that I’m “scared” anymore after that. Especially because it’s not like I had particularly dangerous dreams like being a pilot. I mean, probably no one has ever died from exhibiting their artwork in galleries. So I guess that was one of the qualities I have tried hard to emulate… telling myself “fear is not a good enough reason anymore”. I’ve still let a lot of fear get in the way, but I’ve definitely experienced some amazing new things from following his example since he died.Read more
Sometimes I wonder, is life harder because I have been widowed or would have been just as hard in different ways if I had never been widowed? It’s a question I think on when I have long talks with friends who aren’t widowed, who are going through their own complex lives… complete with blended, divorced families and step kids or uncertainty in their current relationship, or loneliness and feeling unsure about their career or life purpose.
Our thirties and forties have taken us places I think none of us imagined. We used to all live across town from one another, and the most complicated stuff we really dealt with was the dating scene and fighting traffic across town to meet up together at our favorite bar every Tuesday night. We still look back at those days now with such nostalgia… it was a few good years where things were easy, good friends were plentiful, and there were no major catastrophes. For a short time we all were able to relax into the present moment of our lives.
Drew’s death changed everything. It was the beginning of life becoming far more complex… and it happened to occur when I was turning 30. I feel like it’s so easy sometimes to blame the grief. To feel like all the complexity and extra difficulty and all the changes that have been hard are the fault of grief and being widowed. But I don’t really think that’s true at all.
Had Drew not died, I would have been married within a year likely… and moved out of Dallas anyway - as was our plan. I would have then followed his career as a pilot wherever it took us around the country… likely living somewhere new every few years or so. Had we adopted a child by now, which was our eventual plan, I would be going through the same fears and doubts and struggles with learning how to be a mother as I am with my new partner Mike’s child now. And I would have been doing it a bit more alone, while Drew was likely gone a lot for flying gigs that would have him on contracts for weeks or months.
Death or not, my life was going to change drastically. And many of the complex things that happened in my friends’ lives were not because of grief either. The complicated stuff they now deal with in their lives is just a part of growing up into our thirties and forties and beginning new phases of their lives. Phases none of us were especially prepared for, it seems...Read more
Last Thursday, all of my closest friends flew in from around the country for our annual trip to see each other. Since 2012, when Drew died, we have been making it a point to come from far and wide to spend a weekend together celebrating his life and our friendships. We call it Drewfest, and this year was our sixth year. It was the first year having this celebration in Ohio, which was a big deal for both Mike and I.
I can hardly find the words to express how much this group of people means to me. I honestly believe they have made one of the biggest differences in how well I have coped with and healed these past 6 years. They are one of my strongest connections to Drew, because they were there for so much of the happy memories and good times - sharing alongside he and I. I know without a doubt they miss him the same way I do. And I know they remember all the good times as much as me. When we are together, we all feel closer to him.
They also remember the hard times, because they were there for that too. In the weeks and months after Drew died, these were the friends that showed up for me in countless ways and helped to carry me through. They were my rock. They may never really know just how much of a difference their presence has made.
Six years later, they’ve never left. Even though our lives continue on. As I found new love, they welcomed it. As some of us left Texas for Ohio, California, and Florida, we started video calling each other to stay close. So much living has happened since that difficult day in June of 2012. Good and hard times both. And still these friendships have remained. Even though sometimes we may not catch up for months at a time, I know they are there. I know because we have been through an unthinkable fire together and that fire has strengthened our friendship. It is the one greatest gift that Drew continues to give us…Read more
This past week was the 6th anniversary of his death. I wrote last week about this, and what would have been our 9th anniversary together the week before. I will always hate that these two dates are a week apart. It’ll always piss me off to have to have my anniversary of celebrating our love so closely linked to when he died. But it is what it is I guess...
The week of our anniversary proved to be a lot harder this year that I’d expected. Harder than the anniversary of his death, which turned out to be pretty okay really. But our anniversary, nope, a lot of tears and just an overall sadness and wanting to withdraw for days. Still, it’s easier than it used to be. I will never forget the excruciating sadness and anxiety those first few years. The horrible hollow feeling when I first realized that no one else cares about your anniversary but the two of you… and thusly no one else remembers it or honors it. So you are alone then more than on any other day.
My new partner, Mike, has brought a lot of joy back to these hard days though. The first year I dated him, we were long-distance, but happened to be visiting each other when my anniversary with Drew fell. Mike took me out for a nice dinner that night, to a fancy restaurant. We got all dressed up and enjoyed a beautiful romantic evening. It was so surreal to be out with another man on that particular night for the first time ever… and even more surreal that it wasn’t upsetting or awkward at all. It felt beautiful. It felt like I’d found this new person who wasn’t afraid to celebrate both our love and the love I had before. He got that it was a part of me. It surprised me, no doubt, how easy it could be to actually have these two worlds in some way meshing into one new life...Read more
I feel like I feel too much and think too much when really I shouldn’t overthink the concept at all. Just flow with life and the new beginnings it may bring. Enjoy it for all that it is and could be. Instead though, I feel guilty and scared. Scared that if I allow myself to love again, that love will be taken away. Guilty that I have thoughts of wanting to be with another. Craving intimate moments, soulful conversations, touch, cuddles, sharing stories and laughter, looking into another’s eyes, hearing the words “I love you” and feeling loved. I miss all of these things so much. To me these have always been what makes life worth living, being able to share in life and love with another. I feel guilty for wanting to feel love again.Read more
I derive a lot of inspiration reading the other writers here at Widow's Voice. They are all strong, beautiful people with individual stories of tragedy and living this life. I feel honored to be listed on the same page as they are.
Reading Michelle's post this week, Runner Up, made me stop and think. I don't write much about my boyfriend here. A few widowed friends of mine have commented on that fact. They notice. I told them, as I have been telling myself, that this blog is not about him. It's about Mike. Mike and me. Mike's death, and my journey through my grief.Read more