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
"I want my old life back."
I've heard a lot of widowed people say that, as I have, and continue to, some days.
I miss a lot of little things about being married to Mike. It was a comfortable, familiar life, after nearly 14 years of marriage. I can still hear him shuffling across the tile floors, whistling. The refrigerator door opening and closing. The toilet flushing. His computer game blips coming from his room, or the strum of an ukulele from the porch. Maybe his truck pulling up outside after a run to the dump. The thwack of an arrow hitting his archery target outside.Read more
My husband was a huge animal lover, and even more cool, animals absolutely loved him. They flocked to him. We would go over to other people's houses or just walk to a nearby park, and other people's pets would run up to him and want to play. If we went to anyone's home who had a dog, he was instantly playing with the dog. He always wanted a dog of his own, but because we lived in an apartment that didn't allow dogs, he used to say: "Someday, Boo. When we move to a bigger place or maybe buy a house or condo, I can have my husky/shepherd mix." Well, that never happened.
What did happen was that Don Shepherd packed up his entire life into a moving van in February of 2005, and, with his cat Isabelle in his lap the whole time, drove from Florida to New Jersey non-stop, to start a life with me. His cat Izzy was 13 at that time, and two years later, she got old and sick and we had to let her go. Don wanted to adopt another cat or kitten from the local rescue shelter, so we went there together and found two sisters that were only about 7 weeks old. They told us the sisters were a package deal, and so Don convinced me that we should take them. I was very hesitant about having two cats. I kept saying: "But I don't wanna be the crazy cat lady." He would say: "You'd need at least 3 cats to qualify as crazy cat lady, and crazy cat ladies usually don't have husbands. They just have cats."Read more
I'm writing this on Tuesday. It would have been Mike's 61st birthday. My heart is breaking.
Honestly, I didn't expect it to hurt this much. Last year all I can remember is the day passing in numbness and disbelief. This year somehow I feel more alert to the pain, and it's been very hard. Over the past 21 months - 21 months yesterday, by the way - it's as if the panic and shock of his death have faded into a deeper, more guttural state of grief. A year ago it was still reverberating like a constant ringing in my ears; now, it has settled into a knot in my stomach, or maybe, a hole in my heart that I must learn to carry around with me.
So many people wished him Happy Birthday on his Facebook page along with many soulful wishes he was still with us. How much they missed him, how special a man he was, how he still holds a place in their heart. Some, that they even still feel his presence. That is nice. It made me feel happy to know he affected so many people while he was here...and so deeply sad that he is missing from us now. I know a lot of his friends, not to mention family, still mourn him very much indeed.Read more
Last Friday our local Kona Hospice hosted their annual Circle of Remembrance event at Hulihe'e Palace. I didn't go last year; I think it was all just too raw for me then, but this year I felt myself drawn there. I've been taking part in their grief counseling services for over a year now which is free for spouse and child loss. We are incredibly lucky to have that, especially knowing how many people have a hard time finding and affording good therapy. The program here is wonderful and the people are extraordinary. I can't say where I would be now without it.
Hulihe'e Palace was built in 1838 as a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty, and in 1927 the Daughters of Hawaii restored the building and converted it into a museum. When Mike and I first visited Kona in Christmas of 2000 we were both thrilled by the history and gorgeous scenery. As I checked in I couldn't help thinking of the tour we'd taken of the place together and how many times he and I had walked the sidewalks outside. My sense of nostalgia was palpable as I walked around to the lawn in back on the edge of the ocean.
From the first time I met him, Stan spoke to me of his impending death. Not that he dreamt it would be happening anytime, soon. He just seemed to have a keen awareness of the one, inescapable fact of life we all share—that we will one day die.
Perhaps it was his witnessing of the untimely death of a close friend that kindled his awareness. Perhaps it was his Buddhist practice that brought him such a deep understanding of the precarious nature of our time on this earth.
I don’t know. I only know that the possibility of death was always at the forefront of his consciousness, and it informed the way he lived his life.
He appreciated his days--even the smallest things--a good cup of tea, a rabbit hopping up a hill, the sound of rain on our roof, a chance encounter with an old friend on the High Street.
He didn't waste time on unimportant things--holding grudges, for instance, even against those who had done him great harm. Minor irritations, like traffic. He once phoned me from the motorway, on his way to London, having been stuck in traffic for two hours. His concern was not with himself, but with the persons who had probably been injured in an accident. He had more patience than anyone I have ever known.Read more
I watched a documentary last night about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Pretty heavy watching, you might think, and you'd be right for so many reasons.
My husband and I shared a love for American history and traveled to so many National Parks over the 4 years we traveled as Happily Homeless. Little Bighorn in Montana was a powerful place for us both and we carried away intense memories from our time there.
My ears perked up when the documentary discussed the wives at Ft Lincoln waiting for news of their husbands, not knowing that the battle had ended and all the soldiers had died. Elizabeth Custer, George's wife, wrote a letter in which she spoke about the "unendurable yearning" of each of the wives for their husbands.
If you are widowed, and you are reading this, then you know that missing your person and the life you had together is as constant as breathing - it is a new fact in your new life that you didn't ask for, and it's just there, always and forever. The missing of what was never goes away.
Even though our adventure together did not last a lifetime as we expected - my fiancé and I certainly lived our days adventurously. He convinced me to go skydiving a week before we began dating to my surprise. I am not an adrenaline junky, but somehow he had a way of making me surprise myself by the things he was able to bring out in me. I always liked that. He took me up for several helicopter flights while he was in flight school. He was so elated because apparently I was the only girl who ever accepted his invite to go up with him for a flight - and not only did I accept - I was extremely excited. It's beyond me that anyone would have had any other reaction to someone asking them "do wanna go up in a helicopter?" Certainly one more reason we fit so well together.
In the three years we had together we did lots of other adventurous things. We took a rock star trip to Vegas, took up kayaking together, did lots of camping and hiking, hot air ballooning, parasailing, race car driving school for a day… this was most assuredly NOT the girl I was before I met him. It was the girl I wanted to be - but without the right companion to do it with. I think that is one of my favorite things that he brought into my life - a perfect match for my sense of adventure that brought it out even more so in me.
Tomorrow my daughter Rachael-Grace and I leave on our 6 month Nothin' But Love tour. It will be quite an experience for both of us, filled with every emotion of the alphabet as we honor and remember my husband/her dad, meet people along the way and hear their stories, offer workshops to women around the country and, well, who knows what else.
Someone used the word vacation to describe what we're doing. As in, my daughter and I are going on a 6 month vacation. There have been other people (not many, thank goodness) who, upon my arrival here in Phoenix, asked me if I'd enjoyed my travels from the East coast.