The holiday season is over. Starting in early November, every year, I begin pondering Megan’s death at an elevated rate, leading up to the anniversary of it. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all occurring in the weeks just after, it’s two months of absolute stress, that nobody seems to understand, including myself. My work becomes overwhelming, the weather is never “nice”, no matter what the actual conditions, and it feels as if my world is falling apart.
I present myself as totally and unalterably angry, save for the three to five days where I am just flat-out depressed, until sometime on or around January 2nd of the new year. There is no specific pattern, other than November starting, along with the initial thought of “this is the month Megan died”. It’s all a plummet from there.
I have no control over it. I can intellectually analyze it and realize that my anxiety is wholeheartedly related to her death occurring within the month, but 95 percent of the time, it is buried in my subconscious, with the quick-hitting excuses of “work sucks”, “money is tight”, or “I’m just tired” taking the forefront.
The holidays have become something to “get through” anymore.
I got through them.Read more
You would think that becoming widowed just before the holiday season could make said holidays an overbearing mixture of grief, stress, and memories going forward. That remembering that first Christmas without Megan, watching a seven-year-old Shelby bounding down the stairs to a room in which her father was already bawling, would not be the ideal nostalgic thought of the ghosts of Christmas past. Family traditions, like ice-skating, making hot chocolate, decorating the house, or cutting our own tree to trim would always be stained with the term things we “did”, rather than things we “do”.
For the most part, I suppose those sentiments are true, but in the grand scheme of things, the holidays have been a stressful time for most of my adult life. Megan’s death was just the cherry on top of a season already filled with anxiety, frustration, and a sense of being pulled in every which way but the one I wanted to.
Perhaps I’m a bit of a scrooge.Read more
One week ago, we wrapped up what was easily the busiest Camp Widow I’ve ever taken part in. In two days, it will be the five year anniversary of Megan’s death. Winter has blown into northeast Ohio early this year, with our first snow coming in before the leaves had even had the chance to fall off of the trees. The holidays will be here before we know it.
My brain, and body, are in overdrive right now, and that’s not even counting my day job, which is just plain busy. Time to think about Megan has been minimal. That is both a blessing and a curse. With five years imminent, I feel like a SHOULD be primarily thinking about that fact.
But I’m not. I’ve been thinking about building chandeliers. About yard work. About getting a snowblower, driving to Toronto and upstate New York, changing the oil in the car, and prepping for what is looking like a long winter. At Camp Widow, my name tag contained the titles of “Ambassador”, “Volunteer”, and “Regional Leader”, not to mention that I’m a writer here, and assisted Sarah in presenting her workshop.
All of this has taken precedence over the title of “5 years” that was also emblazoned on my name tag.Read more
I’ve always felt that, 5 years after Megan’s death, I wouldn’t feel like a widow anymore. Not counting those first few months, when I swore up and down that my life was over and that I would never, ever move forward or be able to love again, I consider myself very realistic. I have a stable career. Shelby is and always has been well-adjusted, smart, and healthy. I’m not under mountains of crushing debt, or struggling to make ends meet.
By 3 months, my focus had already shifted from being “lost” to being “off track”, if that means anything different.
Most of the time, my premonition rings true. I don’t focus on the fact that Megan is dead on my day to day life. I do not identify myself as a widower anymore than I identify myself as a Marine, network engineer, or high school graduate. The titles are no more than a minor addition to the whole sum that is “me”.
Then again, with my sixth Camp Widow attendance, in Toronto next weekend, the title of “widower” gains greater significance. It becomes “who I am” for a few weeks.Read more
Today is Sarah’s birthday. Not Megan’s, not Drew’s. It’s not Mother or Father’s day, or an anniversary. It’s a day where the focus is squarely on her, and not shared with those who are no longer here. Or, at least it’s not supposed to be.
The rub of it is that I’m a widower. Sarah’s a widow. Damn near every experience we have brings thoughts of Megan and/ or Drew in some way. It could be a significant, life-changing experience like becoming engaged, or some minor thing that I do on a random Tuesday that reminds Sarah of something similar that Drew did. Sarah even mentioning wanting to change the color of a wall for the 400th time always reminds me of Megan doing the same thing.
So, in a roundabout way, I tend to think of Megan quite a bit on Sarah’s birthday, and I’m sure she thinks of Drew on mine. They are both just as much a part of us as they were in life, albeit not actively participating and interacting, for obvious reasons.
It’s exactly the way it should be.Read more
Since the spring of 2015, I have written here every Tuesday (well, “most” every Tuesday). I’ve shared my story from just a few months after losing Megan, to now. Having four plus years of what can only amount to a public “journal” has been both surreal and incredibly healing.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to recall just how “raw” I felt in that first year or so, or how confused I was about life. Whether I was doing the right things, or raising Shelby correctly, or honoring Megan’s legacy. I certainly never imagined I’d be writing this post, years later.
I felt that sharing my story here was a phase. That after a year or so, I wouldn’t have anything to discuss any further, or that I would burn out and simply wish to go silent. There have also been numerous times that I wanted to share about my new partner and current fiance, but second-guessed the subject, not wanting to feel as if I was unrelatable to the thousands of widows and widowers that either have no desire to be with another person, or have dipped their toes into the dating world, only to find that nobody even remotely compares to “their person”.
I write today to state that this “phase” is coming to an end of sorts.Read more
Just yesterday, Sarah and I surprised Shelby (and my nephew) with a trip to Cedar Point, one of the premier amusement parks in the world, just two hours from our home here in Ohio. Shelby has been asking to go back for years now, having only been once, when she was around 5 years old, with Megan and I.
She was far too young to ride anything more than the “kiddie” coasters, carousels, and the flat rides back then. Even then, she was terrified of any ride that was taller than ten feet or so. Cedar point has 18 different roller coasters...over half of which are over 100 feet tall, with one even reaching 400+ feet.
She has always been an incredibly cautious kid. She visibly displays anxiety when anything she is asked to do presents any uncertainty. Learning to ride her bike took years, because she was terrified of removing the training wheels, not because she couldn’t do it. Slowly dipping her feet into the pool, and slipping herself into 2 feet of water was her modus operandi for a decade before finally learning to really swim (and of course, loving it) this past year. Even getting her to try a new food was presented with a stubborn resistance and feigned gags while holding her nose, even before said brussel sprout was placed in front of her.
This has been frustrating for me, because I’ve never been able to put a finger on WHY she seemingly feels fragile or lacks confidence.Read more
Though Shelby started middle school last year, entering the 6th grade, the jump into 7th is more significant to me. In my own schooling, the seventh grade is when I was no longer an “elementary” student. I moved on to a new school, new friends, changing classrooms, more advanced subjects, and so on.
Shelby is doing the same this year. Not only that, she will be turning thirteen soon...officially a “teenager”. She’s already formed her own tastes in music, books, activities, foods, and hobbies. She’s gone through a change in “best friends” in the past year. She’s become more independent, responsible, opinionated, and dare I say, outgoing. Recently, she started her….well, you know.
All without Megan.Read more
I wish I could have sat down to write this morning and repeated my often-stated sentiment that I don’t have anything to write about...and that’s OK. I had hoped that today, of all days, is something that doesn’t affect me as much any more, because “time” and all. Even if I thought about Megan more today, it wouldn’t throw my day off or caused any heightened sense of grief.
But it isn’t true. Today would have been Megan and I’s 14th anniversary. I mean, it still IS our anniversary, but we’re not exactly getting a nice dinner and flowers. Nope...she gets to sit in a box in our dining room, and I get to go to work, with the rest of the world unaware that this day is any different than the rest.Read more
I don’t often dream. Not the metaphorical “dream” or anything like that, just regular old dreams when I’m sleeping. They just don’t happen. Even when they do, they seemingly are just five seconds of me sitting in my living room or something. There isn’t anything crazy happening or odd traits like being able to fly. It’s plainly boring.
However, I did have a longer dream last night...the first in months that lasted more than a minute. Again, still nothing interesting. I was driving somewhere. That was it. Regardless, it got me thinking.Read more