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
So it's been 7 years since my beautiful husband left for work one morning, and never came home. Seven years since his shocking and sudden death. Seven years of living this life in the "after" of painful and life-changing loss. It's a long time, and it isn't. It's forever, and it's also ten seconds. In all of this time living with the death of my husband, I do get asked one question quite frequently. People often ask me if I feel guilty for being happy. Do I feel guilt when I experience joy or joyful moments? Do I feel guilty for falling in love again?
The answer is no.
Guilt has certainly been a big part of my grieving and healing process. I felt guilty on my first two birthdays after Don died, because he would never get to see another year or enjoy another birthday or another year older. I felt guilty on New Year's Eve for years, and I refused to do the countdown to midnight, because it felt like a countdown to more time without him on earth, and another year that he won't ever get to be part of. I felt guilty for being asleep in our bed, while my husband was collapsing on a hard floor in a Petsmart, and going into cardiac arrest. These are the types of things I felt guilt about, and the types of things I worked on for years with my grief counselor, and came to better terms with.
I have never felt guilty for feeling joy. I have never felt guilty for falling in love again. I have never felt guilty for laughing so hard my sides hurt, or for feeling euphoric about something incredibly awesome or awe-inspiring. Maybe it's because I know for a fact that the most important thing to my husband, was my joy and happiness, so I know that me being happy would give him incredible peace. Maybe it's because I so fiercely want to LIVE, because my husband does not have that choice, so I look for and cling to moments of euphoria wherever I can find them. Maybe it's because it took me FIVE years and a hell of a lot of processing and therapy, to get to a place where I was even able to find love again, so why spend one second feeling guilty about it? I don't know what the reason is, but I have never felt guilt for feelings of joy or love.
What I HAVE felt is this:Read more
There’s this fairly new song called “Ain’t Easy” where the main chorus sings, “loving you ain’t easy” after singing about the difficulty of “loving” and being with someone who is “fire then rain.” Quite simply, even though it’s a catchy tune, it makes me mad. It aggravates me because I thought of myself that way when I started dating and it was so misinformed. Also because it perpetuates the idea that being difficult to love is an acceptable way to see yourself or by someone you are with when it certainly is not. You are not difficult because of your life experiences. You are not difficult to love at all. You might just have the wrong people or person in your life. Or you might need to adjust your self image.
When I started dating I thought that whoever I dated would find me difficult to date. My rationale was that I did and do have my ups and downs; my fire then rain. My “downs” weren’t as intense as they once were but they also didn’t seem to be going all the way away. I was also very aware that I had a past that someone not yet in their thirties doesn’t usually have and I thought it would be seen as a negative.
In reflection, I am the one who saw myself that way. And then I attracted people who reflected my own views of myself: people who saw me as difficult.Read more
Yesterday would have been my 9th anniversary with my fiance. Instead, we got 3 years. Instead, it was my 6th anniversary without him, and a reminder that I've now been without him for twice as long as I was with him. I didn't even think about those numbers leading up to this week… it wasn't until the day hit that I realized it was twice as long. And it punched me in the gut.
I've spent days fighting a kind of numb sadness. So much so that this is actually the first time I didn't share anything on Facebook or anywhere else about our anniversary. I just quietly let it be here and let it pass. I just didn't feel like having everyone on all of social media commenting. It's odd, but instead of wanting to make certain everyone else remembered him and this day, I just didn't care, because I remember it and that's what matters. In a way, it felt nice to allow it to be private. I just didn't feel like having to say some grand statement. It is what it is. He’s gone and it sucks, again, just like this week sucks every years… and I'm sad, and I don't feel like including the whole of social media in that right now.
His death anniversary is in less than a week too, so I'm sure I will share something next week, but this week… this week is for me.
Somehow hitting 6 years of death isn't the number that bothers me. It's the other… knowing we would have been together for nine whole years by now. We would have been reaching closer to that exciting new chapter of having been together for a decade. Something that so many other people in their mid thirties can say they've achieved - including my new partner - but I cannot.
It really sucks to have had to reset that clock. And it's hard not to be sad and a bit numb this week, as my heart longs to joyfully tell someone “Happy Nine Years!!! Look how far we've come!” Only he isn't here to tell it to. And we've now had six years of a life we didn't get to live.Read more
Does our soul get more than one soulmate?
This is what I believe. ....
Our soul is perhaps the biggest part of our makeup, as human beings. It is what carries all the important stuff. Emotion, heart, love. I think that with life experience, age, and time, our souls change and alter some. I think after the death of a partner or spouse, our souls become different. They transform. Sure, the core of who we are remains - some personality traits, things like that. But our soul, the way we view the world, the way we love - changes drastically after the death of a partner or spouse. So, to me, the soul and the person I was, when I was with my husband and loved by him, is not the same soul and person I am today, because of his death. That soul deserved love. This one does too. The way I love is different now, and the person I am today, has a soulmate. My first soulmate lives on in my heart, and through all my memories and stories about us. As his widow, I feel honored and privileged to be the one to carry out his legacy, and build my own, on the foundation that is love. The bricks are all built from love.Read more
I became a NY Yankee fan in the 1990s, when I went to NYC for college. It was the Joe Torre era, and baseball in NY was exciting. Going to multiple games at Yankee Stadium with college friends, it was tough not to fall in love with it. When I started dating Don, my late husband, he wasn’t really into baseball. He said it was boring, and asked me how I could watch an entire game without falling asleep. I told him if he understood the strategy, it’s the furthest thing from boring.
When he moved to NY to start our life together, he understood. He became a huge Yankees fan too, bigger than I could have ever imagined. He was hooked. He would watch pre-game show, post-game show, and everything in between. When we watched a game together on TV, he would talk nonstop, analyzing the pitcher or hitters next move. It is a thinking man’s game, and my husband was a thinker. This was his sport. WE went to lots of Yankees games together. In NYC, in Florida during spring training - we had a blast, and so many memories. My love for the Yankees is my own, but it’s also very much connected to my relationship with Don. It was one of "our things" that we truly enjoyed together - a great Yankees game.
When he died, it took a long time for me to go back to my Yankees. At first, I watched an inning at a time. Or maybe two innings. Then I’d have to shut it off. It was too lonely without his commentary and back and forth conversation. After a while, I went back to Yankee Stadium. I went with good friends. We felt his spirit there, we felt him close. It was comforting.Read more