I stand staring into the cupboard. My eyes see all the familiar coffee mugs lined up. Though they are inanimate objects, the mugs seem to be shamelessly shouting “pick me” from their distinguished spots on the shelf. *Sigh.
Which one should I select.
Which mug do I want to use?
This decision should not be this hard.
Except that it is.
This simple task is hard for me because every little thing becomes more challenging when you live with loss. Even picking a coffee cup can be momentarily overwhelming for me. And, this feels completely out of character for me because I used to be very decisive. I could multitask with ease. I coordinated a career and a household. But, now, I am standing here unsure about what coffee mug to pick from an assortment of mugs displayed on the shelves.
After staring at my choices, I reach for my well worn mug; and, then, at the last second, my hand instinctively grabs his mug. And, I know exactly why I did this. I did this in an effort to feel closer to him. I know that Mike’s lips touched the rim of this particular mug; and, if I use his mug, then maybe our lips can meet somewhere in the space that exist between where he is and where I am.
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
This was my second birthday since Tin passed. Last year I was the big 4-0 and I wasn’t ever expecting to be a widow at that age. One year later and another candle on the cake doesn’t add nearly enough light to illuminate this shadowy part of the year.Read more
Holidays are hard for me now since Tin and my father are gone. They passed away 10 months apart and it is very clear that so much has gone on that I can’t process some situations better than I thought I would. Round 2 of the holidays coming and I’m worse than last year. I guess it makes sense. That whole first year is a blur trying to manage what was going on inside with what had to go on outside and nothing meeting in the middle. I swear it was just the start of the summer and now Halloween has passed and I feel the heavy.Read more
Two weeks traveling abroad in the Brazilian Amazon! How amazing! So exciting! I have never traveled out of the country besides Cancun, Mexico so this was a huge step outside my comfort zone. I haven’t had an actual vacation since Tin passed so this would be a break for me to soak up the experience and take the much earned downtime to recharge.Read more
Well, I made it through the long three days of Mike being out of town for work the other week. He made sure to text or call at every turn so that I knew he was safe - which helped so much to keep the panic at bay a bit. So no, he didn't die. Much to my relief. Although I will say, the whole ordeal of having to cope with my new person on a work trip after my previous person died on one, has stirred up a lot. In fact, Mike is currently fixing my car and as I watch him underneath 3000+ lbs of metal, the thoughts just come again. Before I know it I’m imagining the entire thing crashing down on him and me, standing there, not knowing what to do. Or what if it crashes down on him and kills him instantly, and there I am, standing there, my whole world flipped upside down again. Only this time I have a kid and no job. How will I take care of her? How will I get a job to pay for everything? There goes my mind... off on it's own horrific adventure. Although this is all highly unlikely, you all know, that doesn’t stop the stories in my head, or the physical reaction.
I wish I could do something about this. I wish I could go back to not knowing what that would be like for my partner to die suddenly and instantly have my entire future taken away. Most of all, I wish my body didn’t remember the trauma. Seven years later, the thoughts, feelings, and sensations are quieter though. Or at least, I have gotten much better at calming myself and just allowing it to mildly be there.Read more
So, Sarah wrote last week about my leaving for a work trip. It was the first time I have done so since we’ve met. Sure, I’ve left for a day or two here and there to go backpacking, but being required by my job to board a jet to Chicago for three days is, quite obviously, a bit more of a trigger for her. Especially when it’s a trigger she hasn’t experienced in the seven years since Drew’s death on a work trip.
I get it. I know it sucked for her for me to be gone (for the record, I’m home safe and sound), but I can never feel what she feels. She’s in New York, visiting her sister for the past few days. While I miss her, and want to make sure she’s safe, it’s not and never has been a “please don’t die” issue for me.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t have a sudden loss. What I had was long expected. Megan’s death took years. If I was going to have a trigger or anxiety, it would likely be more when Sarah is sick or, god forbid, hospitalized for any reason. Just a little 6 hour drive to New York? That’s simply not a trigger for me.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.
It seems like there is always something in grief you are experiencing for the first time. After seven years as a widow, I would have thought that I had already gone through almost every “first”. This week though, I discovered another first I had yet to go through, and it’s had my emotions all over the place.
Tomorrow, my new partner Mike will be flying out to Chicago for a few days for a work trip. This might not initially seem like a big deal - Chicago isn’t even an hour away by plane. And at first I didn’t really think of it as a big deal. He has left to go backpacking for a weekend several times, and that was fine. But this is something different. It is the first time since we met that he is traveling for work specifically. Which initially didn’t feel like a big deal… Until the other part of me remembered…
Seven years ago, someone else left for a work trip, and never came home. Someone else traveled for a job and died far away from me, in a horrific crash. It always feels like that part of me still doesn’t really understand what happened, where he went, or why I am now in an entirely different life. And I’ve accepted the fact that this part of me will just never understand - I suppose you could call it the trauma part. So I guess it makes sense that when Mike was telling me about this work trip over the phone last week, that trauma part of me suddenly woke up and began so sound alarm bells.Read more
I can easily say that I do not reach out to Tin’s mother and family as much as I should. I want to speak with them but it’s hard for me and I feel like I am the immediate reminder, that I trigger all of the grief for them. These widowed weights on my shoulders press down hard at times. It’s a double-edged burden. I want to speak with them but I don’t want to upset them. So conversations don’t happen as often as they maybe should.Read more