Today has been a good day so far. I love waking up and feeling passion for whatever is going to happen next in my life. Like my daughter saying, “I have a Valentine’s Day card for Dada! Here it is!” As I help my daughter get ready for school, I take a deep breath and remind myself of one simple truth; getting Anisha ready and walking her to school in the sun and snow IS what life is all about! I love that I truly appreciate simple things more, but I still miss so many things about Natasha, such as her food.Read more
It’s taken me months and months to bring up the courage to go to dinner with a friend. Sounds crazy but she was Clayton’s favorite coworker and he is all we have in common. I knew it hit her hard when he passed and I knew she would want to talk about it. I guess that is just another layer of widowhood that others don’t understand – We want to see you but the memories you trigger are to strong for us to handle right now.
When Tin passed away, my social media was flooded with posts and photos showing just how much he was loved and how much support I had to lean on taking my first steps on this new beach. Each day had been continued support helping me step forward and weather the waves.Read more
Today is my birthday and of course I miss Natasha even more, if that’s even possible. She was always so good at arranging brunch, parties and dinners--Natasha had such a raw flair for celebrations. So, sitting across from my daughter for my birthday dinner is wonderful, but also rather quiet. Why is it just us two? This isn’t right! My love for Natasha has not diminished at all, if anything, it has become stronger as I have learned to let certain marital issues go. Time is so fleeting, so why waste time with trivial life issues? Our marriage was not perfect, but our love was deep. We definitely had our issues, but our kind of love translates into a loss that cannot be put into words. I had to cremate the only person I have every completely felt a strong connection to. It feels like a volcano has erupted and blown the earth’s crust to bits and I am left scrambling to secure my footing for my family of two. And of course, trying to stabilize my little family brings up a lot of fear, fear that quickly turns into anger.Read more
It’s an instruction that Sarah has given to me as I walk out the door to work more times than I can count. Sometimes, it’s fairly innocuous. Other times, it’s said with a fervent, if not pleading “PLEASE don’t die today”; usually after waking up from a particularly emotional dream.
It’s not a “tic” or meaningless, repetitive saying. She means it. She is constantly and consciously aware that at any moment, I could be gone. Any of us could, for any reason. Is saying it going to change fate? No, but it does indeed absolve her from responsibility in the event the worst occurs...like a pre-emptive “I told you so”.
Interestingly, I don’t say it nearly as much. I do say the far less instructive “Drive safe” often, but it is rarely “Don’t Die”. I think there are a few observations I’d like to make.Read more
This past week, some married friends went away on a family vacation, and asked me and Nick if we could stay at their house for 5 days while they were gone, dog-sitting and house-sitting. We were both happy to do it. Not only did it help our friends out, but it also gave us an opportunity to spend some quality alone time together. Without getting into too much detail here, our current living situations are not ideal, and do not allow us much private time at all. So a whole week in a big house together, alone with a dog, sounded like heaven.
It was. Well, my version of heaven anyway. Entire hours and days where we could freely kiss one another or hold each other's hand or reach out and flirtatiously grab the other's waist or ass, without anyone nearby or looking. Cooking and eating meals together, making shopping lists of what things we needed to buy to be prepared for the week ahead. Putting on meditation music to sleep at night, or other varied music throughout the day to help create different moods. Relaxing on the couch watching a hockey game or a movie, our legs wrapped around each other or me leaning my head against his shouder. Having my brother over for homemade pizza and some overdue chat time - meeting Nick's sister for a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Staying in on New Years Eve and making tortellini and sausage with marinara sauce and garlic bread together. These are the things that I now cherish, in this new version of life.Read more
I’ve made it through our anniversary, his birthday, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving and now Christmas. Each one felt empty in ways I couldn’t explain. You truly don’t realize how much a person is part of you until that part is suddenly gone. I made a point for me to be back home with my family for Christmas. My career has made me miss many holidays with family but I couldn’t miss this one. I’d feel too lonely, or so I thought…Read more
It has been 7 and a half years since my beautiful husband Don Shepherd's sudden death.
About 18 months ago, I found new and wonderful and beautiful love.
Somewhere in the first few months of the relationship with my new love, the topic of "Don's things" came up. I think I was the one who brought it up. We were in my bedroom talking, or kissing, or something. I forget. But in that moment, I looked over to my nightstand next to my bed, and noticed, as if for the first time or through my lover's eyes, the shrine that it was to Don. Our wedding picture was there. The American flag folded up and in it's frame from the Air Force funeral. The framed certificate from the Sharing Network for being a tissue/organ donor. And his rally monkey stuffed animal that was his lucky charm. I asked Nick very honestly: "Does it bother you that I have so many of Don's things all over my bedroom? Is it weird for you? I feel like it must be weird. " He paused for a minute, and then said just as honestly: "He was your husband. And he died. I think it's normal, and I don't ever want to be someone who would ask you to subtract anything about him from your life. I don't believe in subtracting . Just adding. " Then we talked about how we both looked forward to the day when we have started to build our own memories and private jokes and "things" that could be added to my life's collection.
I remember loving his response that day. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it was comforting. It also made me fall in love with him just a little bit more.Read more
I often think I have come to accept that Mike is gone. For quite a while my conscious mind and unconscious mind had not synced and often confused if he was here, just gone for a bit but coming back, or gone completely. It hadn’t processed on all levels. That’s not the case now. I don’t forget that he’s dead anymore. I don’t have to have that second to think and remember. I know he is gone at all moments. I know he’s not coming back. Most of the time this is just a flat fact.
However, every once in a while, a moment takes me by surprise and I feel in shock that he could possibly be gone completely. In these moments I feel that even though it’s been over two and a half years the finality of death just doesn’t seem real. Where did he go?
I find this particularly the case when I catch glimpses of pictures. The other day I was moving something around in a drawer and came across his old license.
I found myself just staring at it. Moving it close to my face. Turning it slightly to see other angles. Focusing intently on the different parts of his face. I don’t know exactly what my purpose was. It felt like maybe I was trying to take it all in. Maybe trying to remember and close the distance in time from the last time I saw him. Maybe trying to find something or see something I had missed before. Trying to look into his eyes and see a glimpse of life. Trying to see him in the present instead of remembering him in the past. See something or imagine something that isn’t there. Have a moment of insight about where he is now.Read more
It seems I made it to adulthood with a rather enormous stack of self limiting beliefs to shuffle through. For a lot of years, I wasn’t even aware of it. I was so used to these beliefs that, in my mind, they were just truths. I always had all my ducks in a nice, neat row… and they were all well-fed and had an ample security system around them at all times to ensure safety. There wasn't any big risk taking going on, nothing much unexpected. Drew was more of a “leap and build your wings on the way down” sort of person.
In the years when I met and dated him, I started to become more aware of my negative beliefs, and started to challenge some of them. He was always a big supporter of me pushing past my own perceived limits. He got me to go skydiving, something I never imagined I’d ever do. And fly a plane. And submit my first photographs to an exhibit. He was the first person I truly felt took me under their wing and attempted to nudge me gently upward and forward.
When he died, I didn’t want that to die along with him. It was a part of myself that I had been with him that I didn’t want to lose. I think, it gave me something that I could choose to keep during a time when so much was taken away without my having a say.
So I kept doing things to push my limits. It was harder without him there, but also, his death made me more determined… more fearless.Read more