When you're a widow, the passing of time often feels like the only constant. When your world has fallen apart and you've been made acutely aware of just how little control you have over your life; the counting of the days, months and years can give us a point of focus and something to hold on to.
I remember when Dan first died, I held on to the hope that if I could just survive the coming months, the pain would surely have to ease. I learned to accept that it would never go away, but the widowed people I met who were further along the path gave me hope that I'd adapt to live with the grief and life wouldn't always be agonising.
Tonight, I just wanted to be me.
Sometimes, I just want to be me.
But, not this version of me. Old me. The me that existed before July 13, 2011. The me that had a sick but random and giddy sense of humor. The me that laughed with abandon, and laughed often. The me that was easygoing and fun and carefree, sarcastic and crazy and youthful. The me that had only been through the deaths of my grandparents, uncles, and a few family friends and acquaintances, which , although very hard, isn't even on the same playing field as husband. The me that knew what it was like to go to a funeral, and then go home - affected by the death for a few hours or days or weeks, but able to live my life much in the same way as I did before. That me.
This week someone said that it was time to change my Facebook profile picture. My profile picture is the one above of Ian and I from our wedding, the banner picture is our 2011 Christmas Card photo.
Changing my profile picture is not something I did that often anyway. I'm a bit 'set and forget' that way, but I was taken aback at the blunt statement of it.
This has been a difficult week. I have re-entered the work arena, on a 'phased return', as they call it, here in England, and, Tuesday, I had to go speak to someone from Occupational Health, to justify my time away, and my continuing to work part-time for a few more weeks. This meant I had to recount the story of the tragic day my husband died. And it meant that the images of that day, images I have tried to place in the background of my consciousness, were brought, full force, to the front of it.Read more
This past week one of the most amazing things happened to me that has happened in my "after" life. I was selected as a finalist for a magazine cover of an art magazine - for one of my photographs that tells part of my grief journey - and ended up winning the final vote. It is the first time my art will be published on a magazine cover. This is huge for my fledgling career as an artist. And more-so it is huge because more people going through loss will see my grief series and hopefully find something of their own story there.Read more
On this bleak, grey, England winter's day, I remember the comforting quiet of snow. Stan loved the snow. He would sit for hours, watching it. When we first began to talk to each other, he told me that he wanted to move to the Northeastern coast of England, near Whitby, where he said they had a 'proper winter'. Proper winter? I had moved to England from the west coast of Florida, just a year before, and the bits of snow I had encountered in London, that year, were quite enough, for me, thank you. But he wanted to see more of it.Read more
Things around the house are starting to look quite a bit different from when Ian was here.
Use of rooms has been shuffled. Furniture re-arranged in various rooms. I got extra kitchen cabinets installed six months after he died - a project Ian had started trying to get quotes for, but was having no luck what so ever.
And now there a new paint colour on the corridor and living room walls.
My parents helped - Dad with moving furniture, my step-mum with the actual painting.
My house has a large(ish) open plan area for the living/kitchen and dining areas, but we just couldn't get the dining area walls painted because of the amount of furniture I have, and the lack of floor space to pull it all into the middle to access the walls.
My Dad was keen to try however. Until I explained that one cabinet was pretty much still as Ian left it. Including the post-it on the front with his last 'to do' list written on it.
I thought this week I would share one of the images from my self portrait series and the story behind it. While I was out shooting on the beach for last week’s photograph – wandering the grassy, windswept dunes – I came across a peculiar sight. Every plant on the beach was bright green and vibrant with life that day. Rich olive green sea grasses and succulent fat-leaved emerald vines with ripe yellow flowers. There must have been an unseasonable amount of rain recently because everything was really blushing. You could feel it – like all of nature had just taken in a deep breath.
But then, right in the middle of it all, I noticed this one particular type of plant. They were large – towering over me by at least a few feet. And every single one of them, as far as my eyes could see, over each rolling dune down the beach, was dead. All of them. There was such an eerie metaphoric nature to it… these clusters of death pitted right down in the midst of so much life. It seemed almost deliberate. Certainly hard to miss when you are closely observing a landscape as I often am.
With mosquitos biting boldly at my ankles and arms, (I will remember to add insect repellant to my camera bag from now on!) I grabbed my gear and climbed into a thicket of these otherworldly dead plants to explore. The leaves were a silvery blue-green hue – like faded sage. I had no plan. No idea what I even wanted to capture. I just began shooting, trying different ways of interacting with this mesmerizing space.Read more
As of today, my husband has been dead for 500 days. That just sounds so utterly ridiculous to me. 500 days. It might as well be an eternity. During those first few weeks, each day felt like a marathon. It was the greatest challenge to make it through every. single. day.
I'd lay in bed at night with a heart heavy and a broken spirit, exhausted from feeling every second of time that had passed without him here. The days were long and sad. And now there's been 500 of them.
Here, in my 17th month of missing him, the days are definitely easier. There is still great pain and sadness at his loss but - I guess like an athlete who's body becomes conditioned to their sport - I move through them easier.Read more