Everyone has their own coping mechanisms when dealing with loss. Some turn to creative pursuits, creating paintings, books, photos, and sculptures that serve as an outlet for pain and frustration, and a visual representation of hope. Others become quieter people, spending less time socializing with friends and family, and more time socializing with themselves. Many of us turn to others that have experienced a similar loss, attending events like Camp Widow and perhaps preferring to isolate themselves with their “tribe”. There are even those who become self-destructive, turning to the artificial self-medication of the bottle, or worse.
Next week, I’ll be 36 years old. I had my first job at 15 years old, joined the Marine Corps at 17, was discharged at 22, and began working in the civilian world immediately thereafter.
I was married at 24, a father at 26, and a widower at 34. For 21 years, almost two thirds of my life, I’ve been working, playing, learning, and growing. It has been “go, go, go” since before I was able to drive. For the most part, I’ve kept up the pace. Sure, it’s been stressful, but I’ve never felt physically incapable of providing for myself and my family. I’ve never been too tired to take a leisurely drive or cast a fishing pole. Yeah, there are days when we all just want to lie around on the couch and do nothing, but those days have usually been few and far between.
Bills need paid, lawns need mowed, trails need hiked, people need fed, plumbing needs unclogged, books need read, and cars need washed.
If there’s one thing Megan taught me above all other things, it was that you have to live life as much as possible with whatever time you have.Read more
Just last week, I wrote about how, for the most part, random triggers are few and far between for me. Even trying to actively trigger myself has become difficult. Wouldn’t you know it? A day after writing that, an event occurred that randomly brought tears to my eyes for missing Megan.
As silly as it may sound, it was a video game that gave me that moment of pause and reflection.
When Shelby was born, Megan and I thought that it might be a good idea to buy an XBox and a few games. We would be spending much more time at home, with Shelby being a newborn, and Megan not being in the best of health at the time. Prior to her arrival, we were consistently away from home, attending car shows, hiking, travelling, going out with friends, and generally being 24 -year-olds. That would be changing with a daughter, at least in the short term.Read more
As has become more and more typical, I find myself sitting down to write, and not having a clear topic on where to focus. The fact of the matter is, though I miss Megan, her death and absence is not all-consuming. Far from it, actually. Trying to spin an anecdote about my day-to-day life into something about grief or loss is exhausting sometimes, because grief and loss is not what my day-to-day life consists of.
I still have Shelby here. Her schooling and upbringing is part of my day-to-day. Going to work, paying bills, and taking care of things at home is part of my day-to-day. Sarah is officially moved in with us, but we’ll still be organizing, merging, and unpacking her things for a while. That’s part of my day-to-day.
Megan died on November 19th, 2014. A thought of her is part of my day-to-day, but to be honest, it’s a small part.Read more
"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness - John Muir"
Over rolling hills and through meadows full of goldenrod, studded with purple asters, I took a walk yesterday. It is almostautumn here in Ohio; officially just a few days away. My favorite season.is quickly approaching. So too was it Megan’s favorite season. Harvest festivals, halloween, hooded-sweatshirt-weather, the changing of the leaves, and big puffy lake-effect clouds dotting bright blue skies make it the most colorful and dramatic time of the year.
It’s been quite a long time since I stepped out for a hike on my own. As much as I enjoy and desire solitude, it is still more enjoyable to be with Sarah and Shelby on a walk in the woods. Between Shelby noticing every little chipmunk, snail and caterpillar (of course, giving any creature she discovers a name beginning with “Mister” and some variant of “fluffy, squishy, or slimy”, depending on species) and Sarah’s wonder at the environment of the woods up here, versus Texas (Maple trees are slightly more robust than Mesquite trees), I take as much in enjoyment watching them have the experience as I do experiencing it myself.
Watching them is something new to me, and I noticed it by being alone on this particular walk.Read more
Last week, Shelby started the fourth grade. This is the second school year that she has begun without Megan doting over every paper she brought home, every picture day, PTA meeting, or fundraiser flyer th
at seems to be more frequent than homework. Her peanut butter sandwiches (which she eats every day for lunch, no matter how much we suggest otherwise) were “crafted”, not “made. Dropping her off at school, Megan would walk her to the door, hand-in-hand.
Retrieving her at the end of the school day, there was always a milk shake, followed by a snack, and then Shelby completing her homework while Megan browsed every paper contained in the backpack.
It set a standard that I, in no way, believed I could ever achieve. It was one of my largest fears when Megan died; that I would somehow set Shelby up for failure because I couldn’t keep up with the pace Megan did when it came to school.Read more
What would have been Megan’s 35th birthday was a few weeks ago, on July 24th. I would venture to say that, for most widows and widowers, birthdays are one of the hardest days to remember. They are associated with memories of fun times, friends and family celebrating that person’s day, and yet another year “in the books”. To have that annual event suddenly take on a different meaning and a different remembrance affects all of those who knew and loved that person.
Megan’s came and went this year with what has been typical since her death. I’m grumpy most of the day, but we do something to remember her, keep occupied, and have an enjoyable day in her honor. Cliche as it is, yes, it IS” what she would have wanted”. Multiple people ensure they post to facebook about how they miss her, and say “Happy Birthday” on her wall. Heartfelt paragraphs about things they remember doing with her, or “breathe easy” are digitally pushed to her in the afterlife via keyboard, somehow. There may have been a few less posts this year than last on that day, but still, her friends remember her birthday.
A few days later though, and facebook is silent. Memories tend to fade when you don’t have automated reminders popping up, don’t they? As far as the internet is concerned, life moves on until the next year, when suddenly it seems like everyone is thinking about her again.
I don’t have that option. I think about Megan...every...single...day. It’s a matter of HOW MUCH I think about her that changes, and August 6th was a doozy.Read more
It’s been almost three years since I last went fishing. THREE years. I couldn’t tell you all of the exact reasons why that’s the case, but I have some strong theories. There is the obvious period of time in there when Megan went into rejection, was admitted to the hospital, and ultimately lost her fight. It was the farthest thing from my mind. There have been a few Ohio winters keeping me indoors in that time span also, but that only adds up to a year and a half in total.
I did not drop a line in the water last year at all. I didn’t even get my fishing license. I was still grieving Megan, certainly, and Sarah and I met and became a couple over the spring and summer. She moved here in fall. But that still doesn’t explain why i did not take a few hours, a few worms, and a fishing pole to any one of the hundreds of lakes, ponds, and streams within a 20 minute drive of here, at least once.
As I write this though, the scent of insect repellent is all over me. My hands are grimy and have a rich bouquet of bluegill, worms, and pond water emanating from them. I’ve got a few nagging itches from either a plant i came in contact with, or a bug that decided to have a taste. A few tiny pinholes in my index finger make it slightly uncomfortable to type, as well as remind me that I should be a little less clumsy when baiting my hook.
And I’m happy.Read more
I’ve somehow made it through the past week without hitting critical mass. I won’t say I’ve had my moments, but rather, that the past seven days or so have been one big moment, with little instances of calm peppered in. Simply put, it was just a rough, overwhelming, busy, tiring week, the kind where you feel both accomplished and exhausted, and it’s hard to allow yourself into a calm state of mind.
It was the kind of week I had quite frequently through the years with Megan, generally it was the weeks she was admitted to the hospital, and our routine suddenly got turned on it’s head.Read more
Megan and I bought our home in June of 2005. For nine years, it was “our” home. I had the outdoor spaces...lawn care, gardening, the garage, and landscaping were all mine to take care of and shape into something I enjoyed. Megan had the inside. Knick-knacks and decorations, paint colors, organization, and general decor were hers.
The system worked. I’m not exactly an interior designer, and she wasn’t exactly a farmer. We both appreciated and enjoyed what each other had done with their respective spaces, and there weren’t any conflicts. We complimented each other well.
It would be all too easy to just “mothball” what she had done with the inside of the house. Her decor was pretty much set already when she died. We hadn’t been talking about doing anything in particular with paint or furniture before the transplant rejection set in, so I was content that she was happy with what she had done up to that point.