It hangs in mid-air,
swaying through the trees,
like an echo,
and other times,
like a scream.
That life unfinished,
the one we didn't get to have,
because you died.
It lingers there,
in the breeze,
like a hundred-thousand question marks,
and never any answer.Read more
It’s been a little over a month now since Mike proposed. I’ve had a few hard triggers. Trying to think about planning a wedding has been tough at first. The last time I was going to marry someone, he died before we ever got to the big day. He died before we ever even got into the true planning. So needless to say, that part of me that remembers is very aware. I’ve had a few moments of just bursting into heavy, deep sobs because sometimes it feels like reliving the past and it gets very scary to imagine it all disappearing again.
I’ve worried this whole process would be too much to handle, and too emotional to deal with, and that I wouldn’t even be able to manage the idea of planning a wedding ever. But aside from those moments where the fears get big and scary, most of the time, I’ve felt a new awareness of time and a new appreciation for each day.
Just last week, I told Mike, “I’ve gotten to be engaged to you for a whole month now! That’s more than I ever got to before!” And it’s true. Just as with each anniversary year we have hit (4 YEARS next week, wow!)… there is a feeling of thankfulness that we’ve somehow gotten this far. Part of me is still expecting it all to fall apart at any moment like it did when Drew died. But instead of being so afraid of that, I just feel excited for every small piece. Excited to ask one of my best friends to make our wedding cake. Excited to ask another of our closest friends to be the one to marry us. And honored, so honored, that I get the privilege to have had one whole month of planning such a special day, so far. Even if all went wrong and it didn't happen, I still got this part. I still got to spend all this wonderful time dreaming of the day - which is something that was taken from me the last time I was going to marry my person.Read more
The year was 2005, and it was a cold day in February.
I looked out the window of my New Jersey apartment, which sat on the Hudson River. NYC looked back at me.
I put the coffee pot on, and started making the meatballs and sauce. My Nana Mary's lasagna recipe, with bow tie pasta and meatballs and ribs on the side.
I had made it for Don the first time we met in person, about 3 years after we began talking in that music chat trivia room.
He had flown all the way from Florida to Jersey, to meet me, to stay with me for a few days, to fall in love.
I took him into my apartment on that day, and we sat at my kitchen table and shared our first meal together.
That was the first time he said to me: "My Boo makes the bestest food ever! I could get used to this!"
So, here I was , a few years later, making it again, in anticipation of his arrival.
Except this time, I would not have to say goodbye at the end of a few days.
This time, he was staying.
Don Shepherd was moving in with me on that day.
He had his whole life inside that Penske truck that was attached to his 1997 Grand Prix car -
soon he would be pulling up onto my street, and emptying out everything he owned out of that truck and into my small apartment.
Soon, my small apartment would become "our" small apartment.
His cat Isabelle that sat in his lap while he drove, would become "our" cat.
Soon, we would begin our life together.
It was Superbowl Sunday,
and the start of a brand new life.
This afternoon, I was honored to be a guest-lecturer / speaker for a large class of mostly pharmacy students at Ohio State University, who will one day be future practioners. Due to the magic of the inter-webs, I spoke to the large class of students and the professor, from the comfort of my room in smalltown Massachusetts.
They are learning about emergency codes and patient care and medical emergencies, and wanted me to speak about how I was treated by the E.R. staff and the hospital, on the day of Don's sudden death. I got to read a bit from my book about that day, speak with them about the life-altering after-effects of sudden loss and losing your partner to death, and then do a Q&A, in which they asked some really intelligent and thoughtful questions about my story.Read more
It’s an instruction that Sarah has given to me as I walk out the door to work more times than I can count. Sometimes, it’s fairly innocuous. Other times, it’s said with a fervent, if not pleading “PLEASE don’t die today”; usually after waking up from a particularly emotional dream.
It’s not a “tic” or meaningless, repetitive saying. She means it. She is constantly and consciously aware that at any moment, I could be gone. Any of us could, for any reason. Is saying it going to change fate? No, but it does indeed absolve her from responsibility in the event the worst occurs...like a pre-emptive “I told you so”.
Interestingly, I don’t say it nearly as much. I do say the far less instructive “Drive safe” often, but it is rarely “Don’t Die”. I think there are a few observations I’d like to make.Read more
This past week, some married friends went away on a family vacation, and asked me and Nick if we could stay at their house for 5 days while they were gone, dog-sitting and house-sitting. We were both happy to do it. Not only did it help our friends out, but it also gave us an opportunity to spend some quality alone time together. Without getting into too much detail here, our current living situations are not ideal, and do not allow us much private time at all. So a whole week in a big house together, alone with a dog, sounded like heaven.
It was. Well, my version of heaven anyway. Entire hours and days where we could freely kiss one another or hold each other's hand or reach out and flirtatiously grab the other's waist or ass, without anyone nearby or looking. Cooking and eating meals together, making shopping lists of what things we needed to buy to be prepared for the week ahead. Putting on meditation music to sleep at night, or other varied music throughout the day to help create different moods. Relaxing on the couch watching a hockey game or a movie, our legs wrapped around each other or me leaning my head against his shouder. Having my brother over for homemade pizza and some overdue chat time - meeting Nick's sister for a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Staying in on New Years Eve and making tortellini and sausage with marinara sauce and garlic bread together. These are the things that I now cherish, in this new version of life.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
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
I had dreams of him this past week. It's the first time in a lot of years I've dreamt of him two nights in a row.
It was both beautiful and sad. The dreams were good... they were happy. I got to see his smile again, that beautiful smile that warmed my heart. For a moment, I got to remember the feeling that his smile gave me. It's been so long, almost seven years now, that I can almost not recall the feeling of him anymore. But every now and then, something - like a dream - pulls out the memory from the depts. Not the mental memory, but the feeling memory. Those are the ones that are harder to hold on to. I can remember vividly so many details about our lives still. I can still remember the sound of his laugh and the love in his eyes. But the one thing that a struggle to remember is the feeling of what it was like when he was here. Dreams sometimes pull me back there, in the most beautiful, but painful way.
Will I Ever Stop Asking
Where would we be,
had you not died?
Will I ever stop wondering
what would have happened
in our life together
if you were still here?
Will I ever be at peace
with the idea that my life is filled
that do not have answers?
Will I ever feel okay
with the knowing
that large pieces of my life
will always remain unknown?
Will I?Read more