I met Megan when I was only twenty-two years old. I was fresh off of my active duty tour as a Marine, having been in the communications specialty for the past four years. My “job” was, effectively, IT, just as it is now.
I was ready to “settle down” already. I had met a good woman, I was back home, with four years experience in my career field and only a car payment as debt. While I hadn’t (and still haven’t) ever stepped foot onto a college campus (well, as a student at least), in the data communications field, experience is worth more than any diploma.
I was set. All I had to do is land a lower level job, pay my dues and work my way up in the field. It would be an easy path to a successful, stable career. Megan and I were married less than three years after meeting, bought a house, and continued on, with Shelby arriving a few years later.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say I felt “stuck” by the time Shelby was born. I couldn’t even switch jobs, let alone career paths, because we couldn’t go more than a week without health insurance. We had built up some additional car payments, mortgages, and bills, and a newborn isn’t exactly cheap, even with help from family.
The feeling continues.Read more
Yesterday would have been Megan and I’s thirteenth wedding anniversary. It has been the fourth since she died. We didn’t quite make it to a decade together as husband and wife, but we at least got to have the experience of buying our own home and becoming parents. We got to have a formal wedding, with a service in a church and a catered reception in a rented hall. For all intents and purposes, our marriage and life together thereafter was “normal”, save for, you know, the whole long-term illness and death thing.
But I digress. Again, it’s been four years since she died. I’ve had a bit of time now to observe how this very specific date will occur each year, and I’ve noticed a trend…
...none of those who were our wedding guests cares about this date.Read more
Today, Megan would have been 37 years old. This is the fourth birthday since her death, and I can confidently say that they have gotten a bit easier. I’m not a ball of snot and tears, or missing her any more than I already do.
She’s s imply “in focus” today. There is no other way to describe it but “in focus”. On any given day, something occurs that makes me think of her. Shelby says something that sounds like her. It may be a five minute, fleeting memory, but regardless, she is in my thoughts. Four years of processing those moments have blunted the sharp edge of grief. Her birthday is no different, other than the fact that those moments occur throughout the day in a reliable, predictable sense.
The elevated awareness that she’s dead does, in fact, make today a bit more stressful overall. Her birthday doesn’t make any one individual thought of her “worse” per se, but the accumulation of them tends to just wear me out by nightfall. That in mind, I’ve decided I don’t care about being worn out. We’re physically in my favorite place on earth right now, and I’m welcoming the overwhelming flood of stimuli that will have me in bed by 9:00 PM.Read more
Something that Megan and I did every year or two was get family photos taken. While we had thousands of “candid” pictures, taken from our phones or old point-and-shoot devices, we were never posed, and neither of us were exactly professional photographers. We would make the appointment, pack up a few various pieces of clothing, and head to JCPenney for an hour or so of awkward positions and goofy smiles, followed by standing in a department store looking through each and every shot, choosing the six best, and deciding on a package. The photos are done well, and I like them, but the experience of producing them was not exactly the most enjoyable memory. If we could have had them without all of the other hassle (and money), they would have been perfect.
We still have some of those photos hanging on our walls. Shelby truly lives up to her “Peanut” nickname in most of them...being about 2 feet tall and 25 pounds at the largest. (for the record, I too have added about 30 pounds since then, so the “growing together” has a literal meaning). The memory of her simply being that size is the most enjoyable to me.
Megan has a beautiful smile in all of them. She was, simply put, photogenic, and she knew how to apply a good “picture smile”. For Shelby and I’s part, we did our best to smirk.Read more
Tomorrow, Wednesday, is officially the beginning of “Drewfest” 2018. It’s an annual summer get-together of Drew’s friends, usually taking place somewhere in Texas, with the specific goal of having a fun weekend together as if he was still around, yet remembering he’s not. It’s a great endeavor, and one that in and of itself should be celebrated.
This year, the party comes to Ohio. Sarah’s best friend will be arriving from L.A. in the afternoon, with 5 others arriving from Texas on Thursday. 9 people. In an 1100 square foot home. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and 2 dogs. It will be a far cry from Drew’s parents’ ranch, and will be interesting for sure.
Regardless, Sarah and I are beyond excited to have everyone come to our home, so far from where Drew had ever even travelled. We’ve spent months preparing. Home improvements, cleaning, craft projects, decorating our little deck with a “pirate” theme, and even cobbling together a “new” deck out of pallets and bits we had lying around. At this point, there is still so much more to do before tomorrow, and we’ve been going flat out.
And I realize I haven’t even thought much about Megan lately.Read more
The way the math works is that Shelby was born eleven and a half years ago. Megan died when she was seven, and Sarah came into our lives when Shelby was eight. That means that Sarah has had approximately half the time, at this point, that Megan had with Shelby. A third of Shelby’s life has been with Sarah.
Somehow, Sarah and I got into a conversation about this a few days ago, and it really got me thinking. Though Megan had double the time so far, it doesn’t necessarily mean she got the “better” years.
Sure, Sarah did not get to witness Shelby’s first steps. She wasn’t there for her first words, or her first day of school. Shelby learned to read without ever having known Sarah existed. Trips to Myrtle Beach, Maine, and the Great Smokies are all Memories that Megan and Shelby shared, and that Shelby still reminisces about.
Sarah never changed her diaper, or made a bottle for her, or fed her disgusting strained peas in a high chair. She wasn’t around when Peanut had her first school presentation, or got to walk in a parade.
Ultimately, she didn’t give birth to Shelby.Read more
That’s how long I have been a widower, as of this very moment. It’s an arbitrary number...over 1,000, not quite 1500. Not an even number, nor a prime number. It doesn’t signify a specific milestone or even an approaching one. It’s just Tuesday, 1,273 days since Megan’s death.
I’ve now been through 3 of her birthdays, 3 anniversaries, 4 Mothers’ days, and 4 Christmases. Shelby is 4 grades ahead in her schooling, Megan’s brother is married, with two children, and I’m closer to 40 than 30. I’ve met and fallen in love with a wonderful woman that is now just as much part of our family as Megan was, and as much a mother to Shelby. There are at least 1,273 things that have happened since her death. I’ve mowed the lawn probably 80 times. I’ve went to work for 800 or so days. The trash has been taken out on sunday 180 times, and we’ve bought at least 45 bags of dog food. I’ve hiked over 100 miles. Many of these things are significant as it relates to widowerhood, most of them not.
On second thought...they’re all significant.Read more
As Mother’s Day approaches, I always tend to think of Megan a bit more. Many everyday things become somehow intertwined with a memory or anecdote about her, simply because she was Shelby’s mother. Even mowing the lawn brings thoughts about the fact that she had to close all of the windows in the house due to the smell of fresh cut grass making her cough.
Megan is never far from Shelby or I’s memory. If I had a nickel for every time Shelby began a sentence with “Remember when mom...” I’d be a millionaire. She hasn’t seemed to look any deeper into Megan’s death than humorous stories or zombie jokes though. I mean, she’s only 11. Her mom has been gone for almost 4 years now, and her biggest concerns are getting to ride her bike and the newest novel in the book series she’s reading being released to stores.
It makes me wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.Read more
What do I think about on these Tuesday mornings, 3 ½ years after Megan died? It’s a question that I generally ask myself on the way into work, in preparation for publishing some kind of anecdote, observation, or predicament here on Soaring Spirits, in the hopes that a person will read and experience a “me too” or “oh wow, I never thought of it that way”.
I will go in circles in my head sometimes, trying to figure out if I can spin the daily reminders of Megan into something more meaningful. We’ve got a daughter that looks very much like her mother. We live in the same home that Megan and I shared for 10 years. Hell, her ashes are in our dining room. There is no escaping reminders of Megan.
I don’t know if it’s acclimatization, acceptance, or just plain old time, but none of it really triggers any strong emotions anymore. Birthdays, anniversaries, and death dates, sure, those bring a heightened awareness of her being gone, but day-to-day routines are just that...routine. Memories are still shared amongst those of us who knew her, but they don’t cause that awkward welling up most of the time. We’ve all moved forward with life in this third of a decade. New spouses, new partners, new children, new jobs, and most of all, new memories.Read more
Shelby is nearing the end of her 5th grade year. In just a few more months, she will be off to middle school. All I have known of her for most of her life is that she is an elementary school student. Through the sickness, health, additional sickness, and death of her mother, she has never skipped a beat, still bringing home 3.0 or higher averages on every single report card. Her thirst for learning is ever-present, and instead of telling her to put the video games down and do her chores, we have to rip her away from books. She is a very “easy” kid to parent, really.
But there are moments that occur in Shelby and I’s relationship that I know she does not fully grasp the levity of yet. Moments that we share completely, yet that mean much more to me, as her young, inquisitive mind hasn’t asked the questions yet. She is still innocent. Even with the loss of Megan, she hasn’t become skeptical or fallen into the sometimes detrimental mindfulness that causes many of we adults to “spiral”.
So with that, Shelby and I’s last dance at the last father-daughter dance in her last year of elementary school was nothing more than a fun 3 minutes with her old man before moving on to her friends. To me, it was a huge milestone.Read more