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
Soon I will have been your Widow for three years.
Should I be good at widowing now? Should this feel "normal" to me now?
No one gave me a manual when you died.
So, I am going by feel.
I fumble forward on instinct.
I hate your death date. November 15th, 2016 - you took your last breath and I fought to catch mine.
You died on a Tuesday. For over a year, I hated Tuesdays. Then, after a while, I stopped raging against Tuesday; but, I continued to cringe on the 15th of every month. Now, nearly three years later, the 15th of the month doesn't sting the way it used to. I guess this is progress.
It has been almost three years since I last spoke to you. Three years since I have heard your voice. Three years since I kissed your lips. Three years since I held your hand. Three years since I felt your physical body next to mine. Three long years. And, as I am typing this, I see three roses from your funeral. These red roses are frozen in a frame, casually displayed in my living room. How ironic that these particular roses are on display in my "living" room. *Sigh...
What is a girl to do with any of this?Read more
I have officially hit my first year as a widow and I would like to share some of my experiences and lessons learned during this unimaginable time.
1. You are stronger more than you could have ever imagined. Especially during the times where you feel like your heart is going to stop because it hurts so much and you feel you can’t take another breath. But suddenly that moment passes and you are still breathing. Being strong is about getting up when life has knocked you down to your knees. These wins can include things such as taking a shower, feeding your child, or even going outside of your home. You are strong just for breathing today.
2. It’s YOUR GRIEF. Throughout this year I have learned that people will want you to do things their way, or judge you or even abandon you because of how you are grieving. I want to tell you that this is YOUR GRIEVING PROCESS AND NO ONE ELSE'S. Sometimes people mean well, and sometimes they don’t understand what it is that you are personally going through. But I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, do things that make me happy and things that will help me move forward with my grieving process. I’ve learned to say no to things I don’t want to do, and comfortable enough when others don’t agree. This is your grief journey, do things that will help you and don’t rush the process. Remember, no one else is in your exact shoes!Read more
These past few weeks have been incredibly hard for me. I’ve been reliving what happened last year. It’s not that I welcome these thoughts, it’s that my brain keeps bringing them up. I remember the last lunch that we had as a family, just the day before my husband’s accident. I remember my daughter and I went to go have lunch with at his work. It bothered me that day that he didn’t like the color of my lipstick and made a joke out of it. Which seems so ridiculous now. It was a beautiful day though. We sat together in the courtyard and we had Asian cuisine. He held our baby girl and fed her, as we shared our last lunch. We joked and talked about our plans for that weekend. Life seemed so beautiful.
That evening, when we all got home, he made me our last dinner together. He made me shrimp with a quinoa salad. It was delicious! He read a book to our baby girl and put her down for the very last time. After our daughter was down for the night, we went outside to our backyard and enjoyed a nice glass of wine. That night he told me that he wished I could step into his shoes to know how much he loved me. He had said that in a serious manner, which was normally not my husband. Those words had so much depth and sincerity, and little did I know I would never hear those words again.Read more
We all know the dreaded dates. The anniversary of their death, birthdays, togetherness anniversaries, holidays but there’s one more on my list that adds another dark mark on my year - His diagnosis date.
The heart knows...
I had a feeling it was getting close. So, I looked up how long Mike has been dead. And, there it was, 1,000 days exactly. I KNEW it. And, I didn't know it because I am some sort of math whiz. Nope. I felt it in my heart. And, the computer confirmed what my heart already knew. Monday August 12th, 2019 I will have lived ONE THOUSAND DAYS without Mike.
I knew that this day would come. And, I feel dumbstruck. I feel nothing and the weight of everything - all at once. Early on, I didn't know how I would live without him. For months, I literally took it minute by minute. I would fight to breathe from moment to moment And, sometimes breath eluded me. Then, after a while, I broke the hours up into quarters and I survived them as they came. Then, eventually I just got through each half-hour without dying. And, then after many months I lived from hour to hour without him.
Sometime after the first year, I found a way to make it through the day without a lot of preparation or thought. I just made it through because I had no other choice. I lived without him. And, as each day drew to a close, I was genuinely shocked that I actually made it. Every night, as the moon came out, I broke into a loneliness that I was sure would swallow me whole. But, I survived. And, now, today as you read this, I have survived outliving Mike for 1,000 days. I feel like someone should be dripping praise all over me. I feel like I should be awarded a medal or something. But, there isn't a badge of honor for this type of thing. There is no ceremony. No one knows. Not one person, besides me, is aware that today Mike will have been dead for 1,000 days. Grief is like this. We achieve many milestones alone. We celebrate in our own hearts. And, we feel the emptiness and aching in solitude.
Well, it’s that time of year again. I’m here in Texas, with Sarah and Shelby, to celebrate you. This is what, year...five for me? That seems crazy. We went to your grave today, and it’s I guess looking good as ever. The little heart shaped rocks, the trinkets...the helicopters; they’re all still there. Your mom had some pretty nice flowers set up too. Lilies, I think. I dunno. I’m pretty sure you don’t care all that much, considering that it’s been 7 years, and your loved ones are still making it a point to come by and “tidy up”.
Anyway, you should have seen it tonight. Your parents are totally loving having Shelby around. Playing ping-pong with her, your mother showing Shelby around her business, rendering Peanut both in awe of all of the scientific equipment, and speechless, your dad and I telling “dad jokes” to her, and even letting her drive the farm vehicles around. It’s almost like Shelby is their granddaughter.Read more
Does anyone else feel like they pay less attention to deaths these days? Hear me out. I’ve noticed this trend, at least in me, of learning of a person that might have been significant to me has died. I note it, give it a quick “that sucks, for their widow”, and go about my business.
Tim Conway (a comedian I grew up admiring), Bart Starr (a legendary quarterback that I was a fan of), or Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca!) have all died in the past month or so, and I kind of shrugged it off. I didn’t write out some long, heartfelt facebook post about how they meant the world to me. I didn’t really even “mourn” them. I acknowledged the death, thought about their widows for a second, a promptly moved on with my day.
Death happens now. It happens to young, old, married, unmarried, long-term, sudden, the worst of us, and the best of us. It just “is”. It’s not discriminatory or choosy. It’s random. When those deaths occured, they were just one each, in a line of billions over the millenia.Read more