Even while I'm engaged in various activities, my mind's eye, my heart's eye, is searching for something that will ring a bell of recognition within me. Something that will make my heart say oh, that's what I've known all along and didn't remember I knew! That something that will ease some of the devastating ache of my soul and heart and body. That something that will bring light back into my life, that will help me not only believe but help me know that Chuck is still with me. That he is around me in ways that are in no way as he was but in a way that may, that will, help me feel less alone and less without him.
I'm not a Christian. I believe in a Higher Power that was forged in AA but everything I ever believed in went up in flames the night Chuck died and since that time, any belief I have is intellectual more than something felt. My brain seems to know so much that does me no good at all because I can't connect to it emotionally. Emotionally, all I feel is the pain of grief or numbness. The missing-ness. If Chuck were here, he'd tell me to get out of my head. I don't know what action to take to implement that, is the thing.
How to get out of my head...Read more
As I write this we're full swing into the holidays and I've survived Christmas Day, Boxing Day and am about to head to my parent's house for a large lunch celebration with 20 or so members of extended family. I'm absolutely exhausted, but hanging in there.
I've heard many widowed people say that the second year can be harder than the first, because the shock has worn off and reality has set in. However for me, this Christmas has been slightly easier than last year. I guess it just goes to show that everyone's time line is different and you shouldn't try and measure your grief against anyone else's.
I did it. I survived, and sometimes even thrived, Christmas day.
It is now Christmas night, and I sit here in my parents dining room on my laptop writing this blog.
I am staying with them for 10 days over the holiday, in Massachusetts, away from my usual NYC apartment and life.
I love being here. I love my family. However ...
and there is ALWAYS a "however" with grief ....
sometimes it hurts being around my family. It hurts a lot.Read more
Somehow it ended up that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day all fell on Thursdays this year, my day to write. It is the season so I know it doesn't really matter what day we write or what, if any, religion we practice - holiday time in general is hard for us widowed folk, but it certainly rings very clearly that I'm posting on days that are meaningful to many of us.
It makes me search for something special or meaningful to write about, but there isn't really anything particularly insightful that comes to mind. I'm just surviving as best I can, this second year without Mike, this time around at my parent's house almost on the other side of the world from my little house in Hawaii. Here in Virginia the air is crisp and cold, memories from my childhood stir and wobble my brain, old dear friends are revisited, and my house, dogs, new guy and "normal" (for what is normal anymore?) day-to-day life are very, very far away.
On Tuesday, I am going away for four days on a Buddhist Retreat. I will spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day there. This is my first Christmas without Stan, and it seemed the best way for me to let the holiday pass, as much as possible, without notice.
I won’t be celebrating Christmas this year, but I have wrapped some simple gifts for the people who have held me up when I felt I would surely crumble. Stan’s friends and family have found their way through their own grief to reach out to me and remind me that I am in their thoughts and hearts. I hope my small token of appreciation will help them to know how important their generosity of time and presence has been to me.Read more
This morning I was watching the news and saw a feature about a young girl - 14 years old - who is working hard to achieve a very special Christmas goal. Her wish, is to put a wreath on every single grave at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery here in San Antonio, TX. To date, there are over 144,000 graves of fallen soldiers buried here. To say it is a big goal is an understatement. They have yet to reach that goal in a single year, but she is relentless. Partnered now with Wreaths Across America, she does 15 or 20 speaking engagements and fund raisers around the San Antonio, TX area in the fall to help raise money and bring in volunteers for this massive effort. The focus and resolve are nothing short of incredible to watch - particularly in someone so young.
I could not help but be completely inspired by the boldness and determination of her spirit. It allowed me to put my own pain aside for a moment and think about just how many ways on any given day there are to do something to remember or appreciate those who have died - whether as soldiers or otherwise.
I went to a Christmas party the other night. A year ago, there is no way I could, or would have been able to socialize like that. And I was going alone, as my guy works evenings. So I know I have made vast strides this past year. This time around I found myself really looking forward to it. I felt happy to have been invited; it felt nice that someone had thought of me and asked me to join in, as invitations from people Mike and I met here together have really dwindled since he died, other than a few dear exceptions. This hostess is a beautiful person I met this past year who lost her husband about six years ago. Well, re-met, actually, since after a couple of conversations we realized she had taken Mike’s last class session before he died. That happens a lot around here, running into people who remember him. Which is nice.Read more
Sunday marked two and a half years without Ian.
The first year, I decided to mark the date with a visit to a iconic local Christmas light display - do something nice with John on the day that we'd done with Ian.
It's something we've done each Christmas since.
Well, attempted to.
This year's attempt was not as disastrous as last year, but not great either.
A weekend evening is a bit of a mad-house there, and I have to accept that John gets over-stimulated and wound up by crowds and noise. Sunday wouldn't be as bad as a Friday or Saturday, but summer school holidays have started, so there would likely be a bigger crowd than earlier weekends. So I opted to not do it on the day to hopefully manage his response a bit better.Read more
A friend called me yesterday to talk about plans for New Years Eve. She had previously mentioned the idea of renting a house at the beach and getting a few people together for a fun night in. While I had been quite keen to join them when we first spoke about it, I found myself feeling more and more reluctant as the conversation went on.
For a start, the house will have three bedrooms, all of which she had allocated to the three couples. When I asked about my sleeping arrangements she suggested I bring along a blow up mattress and crash on the lounge-room floor.
Now, I'm not a princess. Sleeping on the floor doesn't bother me and I've done it plenty of times before. But this time I found myself feeling really upset at the idea. As soon as we hung up the phone I burst in to tears and it hit me that I would be facing my second 'new year' alone and without Dan.
I wasn't hurt by my friend or her plans, but I realised I was upset about the idea of not having a bedroom because it would mean that I wouldn't have access to a private 'safe place' if the grief roller-coaster took a steep dip during the event.
We all have certain days that we dread as they swing back around the calendar. The anniversary of the day he died. Our wedding anniversary. His birthday. Maybe another special day we shared. But the holidays are among the worst. Most of us all have memories of the good times we shared, and going through it all without them…well it just sucks big time.
This time of year in Hawaii, the Snow on the Mountain comes into bloom. It’s called that because it blooms in winter when there is usually snow on our mountains here in Hawaii. The one in the picture here we planted together several years ago - his daughter Jamie gave it to us as a tiny little stick of a thing, and it has really grown. Mike so admired it, and we always commented each year as it bloomed a little bigger and a little more vibrantly.
The last Christmas we spent together in 2012 was among the best. It was actually a quiet year, but Mike was very full of the holiday spirit. He couldn’t wait to help me pull out all the decorations and put up the little fake three we’d bought together for our first Christmas back in 1999. I remember we spent many evenings that December on the lanai looking in at our little tree through the window, enjoying a glass of wine and the temperate weather, looking out at the sunsets over the ocean. Little did I know it would be our last.Read more