My birthday was hard. Thanksgiving was hard. Christmas and New Years were both hard. Yet it is the “Hallmark Holiday” that seems to burn more than build the wave of sadness.Read more
Anniversaries are, in general, a prompt for looking back. They’re an annual reminder to be reminded of the past. While oftentimes, an anniversary is also a milestone, it still remains that, simply put, an anniversary measures the passage of time.
They don’t really MEAN anything to widows. Our person is neither more, nor less dead on their death anniversary than they are on any other day, but damned if we aren’t reminded of the fact that they ARE dead a whole hell of a lot more.
Interestingly, other dates tend to morph into this reminder as well. Shelby’s upcoming birthday? I’m always reminded of the fact Megan isn’t there to see her reach twelve years old. Halloween? Megan loved halloween...she would enjoy being here. The anniversary of the date I was discharged? Oh wow, now I remember how I met Megan a few months after that.
That’s the thing, it’s like I can’t have an anniversary or holiday anymore without feeling the pressing need to remember Megan and either A) remember how she was on that day, or B) point out the fact that she’s not there.
But today’s anniversary? It’s different.Read more
Losing the Holiday Weight
The holidays were rough. My first without Tin and there were days I just could barely keep it together. Christmas is over and I spent New Year’s alone for the first time in years with no one to plan a new year of adventures with. It’s been a struggle and I have 3 more months before I hit the anniversary of his passing. I felt like I was carrying a thousand pounds through the holidays. I get holiday weight but that was not what I was ever expecting.Read more
It has been almost a month since I last posted on here. Sometimes, life can get in the way of all of our commitments to others. Between the holidays, the busiest time of year at my work, travel, and budgets, sharing my weekly thoughts and anecdotes about life after becoming widowed took a significant back-burner.
But the primary reason I hadn’t shared is that my mind, in fact, my very being, was consumed by something that I couldn’t write about at the time.
An impending proposal.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
So it's three days after Christmas, I've had a terrible virus/cold for almost 12 days now, Im coughing up a lung, and my headache is just irritating and monotanous enough to keep me the appropriate amount of moody, while still somehow managing not to bite off the head of the nearest human.
Seven years post-loss, and Im not even sure how I feel bout this set of holidays. Is it weird that Im kind of sick of talking about it? I appreciate people asking how Im doing, truly, but I feel like Im out of words to explain what it's like to live in a world without your person.
Im also extremely tired this year. Probably from all the coughing and being sick.
Whatever the case, I just dont feel like dealing with my emotions right now.
And truly, Im not even sure what my emotions even are.
I just feel blah and vague about everything.Read more
This is my third Christmas without Mike. The first year, Christmas came along 6 weeks after he died and in many ways this was a blessing because I was in so much shock that nothing really phased me. I have almost no recollection of that first Christmas. And, I think this is the way it is supposed to be. I know that I cooked a complete turkey dinner, but I don't remember who sat around my table. I can't recall a single conversation. Not one. I don't even know if I ate dinner.
When I think back to that first Christmas, I can not close my eyes and envision my sons openning their gifts. But, I know that they had gifts. I just have no idea what they were. And, I do not remember shopping for their gifts. Maybe I bought them online. I don't know. I just can't remember. (There is a theme here.)
I know that I got my tree up that first year. But, I have no idea if I was helped doing this or not. I think I actually put up two tress, but I can't be sure. Like so many things over the last 25 months, I wish I could talk to Mike about all this. But, when your person dies you lose part of your shared history. *Sigh.
Now, without Mike, I have to rely soley on my memories of the past. The person who shared some of the best moments of my life is dead; and without him, I am not able to confirm or deny events of our past. This is a huge loss, something I had yet to comprehend that first year without him.
Beyond dinner and having a tree or two decorated I really can't remember anything about that first Christmas at all. Looking back, part of my lack of memory is likely due to my white wine intake. That first holiday as a widow Riesling was regularly coursing through my viens. I was in survival mode. No one was telling me what to do, because none of them had done this before. My friends still had their husbands. They had no experience to draw on. They were clueless about widowhood and so was I. Without a manual for widowhood and with no one to mentor me, I put myself into a wine induced haze for all of December starting on my birthday which landed exactly two weeks after Mike died and one week after I stood at the cemetery and buried him. After witnessing that horribly dramatic, sad and awful moment at the cemetry when the coffin lowered and TAPS played none of my friends were about to tell me not to have the wine. So, it was definitely a White Christmas that first year...
White wine or not, I do not remember Christmas shopping that year. Maybe, I had the gifts finished before Mike died - who knows? I can ask him, but since he's died I can't hear him the way I used to. Two years into this widow thing, I am tired of our one sided conversations. I am tired of the silence. I just want to have him here with me. I want so very much to share my life with him. But, this can never be. Now, I have cognitively accepted that the life we shared is over. However, two years later, I am still working on "accepting" Mike's permanent absence in my heart. This remains a work in progress.
Last year marked my second Christmas as a widow. In truth it felt like my first because I really didn't feel anything that first year. Before the second Christmas, I started dreading Christmas in July which gave a whole new cruddy meaning to "Christmas in July". I remember I felt anxious about being without Mike over the holidlays. I knew that there would be a hollowness to the entire holiday season for me and the topper would be Christmas Day. I felt like my family holidays were incomplete without him.
That second Christmas wasn't the best; and, in truth, I barely recall it. I just remember feeling empty. This third year, Mike's absence remains very obvious to me, but this Christmas season has been noticably less awful for me than the first two. It is finally beginning to feel a bit "okay".
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
Tis’ the season for all the things that remind us of what we have and what we have lost. This year, for me, there has been more loss and it’s much harder to shake that feeling as those around me put up lights, throw holiday parties and decorate. I can’t put up a Christmas tree. I can’t decorate. I wrapped one present and I just can’t. So I don’t and I tell myself that there is nothing wrong with skipping the traditions this year. With everything added up, I’ve earned a hall pass to the holiday blizzard we all experience every year. However, there is one thing I can’t control….The mail.Read more
Last weekend I went with David to pick out a Christmas tree for my house. It’s something I’ve been doing since living where I live - first with Mike, then with family and now this year with David. There is a Christmas tree farm 5 minutes down the rode from me and I love the tradition and having a fresh tree.
We walked around the Christmas tree farm and I searched and searched for my perfect tree. David would point out trees and I’d examine it and turn it down. Nope, too short. Nope, too crooked. Nope, too sparse. I would think I found a nice tree to then find something wrong with it. I wanted it to be perfect.
I finally found a tree I liked and I did (what I thought was) a thorough examination. It looked lovely! I was satisfied. We cut it down and with our two dogs in tow, we carried it back to the car and put it up in my home.
I let the branches settle for a day and then went to decorate the tree on my own. As I’m putting the lights on I start to notice all the bare spots. There’s whole sections without anything there! How did I miss that?! As I put my (light wooden) ornaments on the branches they instantly bend and wilt under the weight of it. I press the branches delicately and take note of how frail they really are. I never noticed that; they look strong! As I look at the tree from the side I start to see it is crooked.Read more