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
In my 38 years, I have never once not been with my parents on either Christmas eve or Christmas day. Even when I was in the military, I lucked out in that I wasn’t deployed over Christmas, and I was able to drive from North Carolina to Ohio, even if only for a 48 hour visit. Since 2002, I’ve added Megan’s family to that tradition, always ensuring that my second family was part of the holidays, but simply splitting time between both.
It was convenient that both my family and Megan’s family lived within 15 minutes of each other, and we never lived farther than 30 minutes away from either. Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas day with hers.
Since Megan’s death, that tradition has remained the same. Now, however, there’s a third and fourth family.Read more
As I sat down to write this morning, as I usually do, I read a few of this previous week’s posts. On a day like today, where my mind is somewhat blank, it often helps me to zero in on a subject. Once I have that nugget of inspiration, I can usually let it flow.
This week, I’ve been inspired to write about something from a different side of the same coin. Olivia and Staci had spoken about the triggers of lack of contact with a loved one, and the desire and intricacies of revisiting places and events they once shared with their person.
Perhaps its the different circumstances...long-term illness versus sudden, surprising loss, but I don’t feel the same way as they do.Read more
Sometimes, being incredibly, almost comically busy can be a blessing in disguise. Although it’s a short work week for us here in the US, with Thanksgiving being this Thursday, I arrived to an unexpectedly busy office yesterday morning. It was a madhouse for the entire day, and even as I drove home, I was receiving phone calls from co-workers, asking for assistance with their IT needs. I spent at least half an hour hunched over in our “office” after getting home, online, and on the phone.
I didn’t get lunch yesterday. I was unable to even break away for 5 minutes to grab a cup of coffee. I spent almost the entirety of the day away from my desk, with the fleeting moments that I was able to sit down on the phone.
Password resets, email problems, printer outages, accounting programs mysteriously losing information, our president forgetting his laptop at home, broken cell phones, misbehaving monitors, and a bevy of other issues all seemed to occur at once.Read more
What do I do... When the person I now love sits in pain?
A similar pain to my own, but still so different and all his own.
What do I do on the hard days when I see you crying your eyes out with an ocean of feeling inside you? Wishing that I could somehow dive inside of it and feel it for you.
Knowing that even that wouldn’t help you.
What do I do in those moments, when suddenly, I haven’t a clue what to say or do?Read more
Last night, I saw the film "Bohemain Rhapsody" with my love, Nick.
Everything having anything to do with music always makes me think of Don.
It just does.
Our connection was largely based in music. We met through music. We played and sang music together.
We introduced each other to lots of musicians and artists to listen to.
Don used music and strumming his guitar, as his biggest coping mechanism to get through the trauma he saw on the job.
To get through most hard things.
He would disappear into music, play his guitar for a couple hours in solitude, and then he would be okay.
Don and I connected through music.Read more
There are times in life when we struggle,
or when the people in our life struggle,
or when you are both struggling because you pass the stress back and forth
like a virus,
because you are both hurting and you just want to help each other.
You just can't help much.
Not because you don't want to.
But because maybe you can't offer up
what that person needs,
or you haven't been through what they have,
or that person needs to go through some of this alone,
and they need to figure it out,
and it hurts to be witness to their pain and hurt,
but you know that it's what needs to happen,
for eventual healing to occur.
And it's hard.
But love is a verb,
and if you really love someone,
you stay beside them and you figure shit out.
And when it gets hard,
you just ask more questions and become more aware,
so that you don't miss anything important.
I can't say much more than these vague sentences,
but Love will triumph,
and we will make our way through this
latest of struggles.
In the morning, I am getting up at an ungodly hour (4am) to wait for my friends who are picking me up and then we are driving the 9 hour road trip to Toronto Canada for Camp Widow. We did this same thing last year, and we had fun on our car ride together. And of course, after arriving, the weekend was filled with healing, laughter, grief tools, honoring love, and friendship. I expect nothing less to be true this time around.
It is the 10 year anniversary of Soaring Spirits International, and the founder, Michele Neff Hernandez, has decided to step down from doing her "Key Note Address", which she has done at every single Camp Widow since the event began. At each camp event, she creates a themed talk , always with a beautiful and poignant and different message, and she delivers it on the big stage on the Saturday morning at 9 am of the Camp Widow weekend. Her Key Note has always been my very favorite part of camp, and I can already feel myself getting emotional as I think about never hearing her words of comfort and wisdom again on that stage. I wonder who else will do the Key Notes, and will I be moved by their message? I'm not the greatest when it comes to change, and right now, I'm still in the deep mourning phase of my acceptance of this reality.
The other thing going on for me is that this year, I am in a beautiful relationship with my next great love story. And although I love going to Camp Widow and always will, I don't want to leave him behind right now, for reasons I cant get into here, but I just wish we could be together at this time. He cant come with me because of work and other commitments and money, so we will part for 4 days and miss each other and talk every day and all of that.Read more
I’ve attended three weddings this year. I’ve heard of many widows who hate or avoid going to weddings but I don’t really feel that way. That’s not a new development for me; I attended 3 of my best friends’ weddings (within my self-set boundaries) and was a bridesmaid in my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in the three to six months after Mike died because I wanted to be there and be a witness and part of their joy (they would all have all graciously excused me). However, it is certainly not the same experience that it use to be for me and I have a different attitude and perspective attending than I once had.
I think the expression of love at weddings is beautiful and I’m so happy I got to experience that with Mike. I feel lucky for that. I’m glad when I go to weddings that the people get to experience that too. Obviously, my love story with Mike after our wedding was not what I expected and that’s where the “different” experience comes in.
The vows the bride and groom say to one another is the part that stands out to me the most now. It also is the part that makes me a bit uneasy. The weight and promise of those words is so enormous. I reflect on my own promise I made, what I think of it now, and my future moving forward.
I understand the thinking behind the “until death do us part” promise but I just don’t find it actually works that way. When someone dies, you don’t feel like you’re not married to them anymore. It’s not a clean break. It’s not a breakup or divorce. I still felt very much married. Death doesn’t make you stop loving them. It is just no longer reciprocated.
Beyond “until death do us part,” I think it makes more sense when brides and grooms also often say that they will love and honour their spouse for all the days of their life. It’s an individual choice as opposed to a joint one. It is carried out regardless of the other person. I think that is really sweet and also very true. I will love and honour Mike for all of my life. It’s a beautiful, huge promise.Read more
The mere idea of dipping my feet into the dating scene, no matter how lonely I am at any given point, invokes in me a huge HELL NO! The quantity of nightmare stories I’ve heard from the widowed community about the quality of people in that scene, both male and female and what they’re looking for…no, please. There is, I hear, that 1% chance of meeting someone, that wonderful someone who brings beauty to a lonely life, but that's not enough to entice me into the quagmire. I'm still in love with Chuck, for one thing, even as my heart is open. That might sound like a contradiction to you...widowhood is filled with contradictions…but I believe that the heart expands to Love, and I can fall in love again, with the perfect man. Having said that, the perfect man would have to materialize in front of me, with immediate recognition in both of our hearts that…THIS.
It saddens me that there are many in the widowed community who feel that their widow experience has left them broken, and finding a person to accept their broken-ness seems impossible.
I don't see myself as broken or damaged at all. On the contrary, my experience shows that I'm good at Love, good at healthy relationships. I feel life intensely, I’m brought to tears by all that is real in life. Reunions, watching people fall in love, commercials, the certain blue of sky out my moon roof, stars lighting up the Universe at night…tears are never far away. I live on a higher adrenaline level than I did prior to Chuck’s death, coming from the realization that life really can, and does, change on a fucking dime.Read more