This will be my fourth Christmas without him. We only shared one Christmas together so, why does Mike's absence weigh so heavy on me when I have lived most of my life without him? Well, there are many reasons outliving Mike is hard; there are just too many things to mention. And, really, it is the intangible things that are hardest to live without. What is really comes down to is that I love him deeply; and, living without the person you are so in love with is awfully difficult.
Simply put, I miss Mike and I want him back. I want to finish living the life we thought we'd share together. And, I know full well that I can't have this. Sunday, I stood above his grave. Physically, I saw the markers of his deadness. My hands touched his headstone. My eyes read his name carved into the stone. My lips kissed the cold stone. As I stood to leave, I whispered I love you to my dead fiance. He didn't answer back because he couldn't. I get it. I know that Mike is gone from here. Still, despite what I understand, I continuously think about living a life that does not and can not exist. This is the quandary of my widowhood.
I need to create these make believe thoughts less frequently. My mind needs more space for the here and now stuff. I need to remain grounded in the present, but I just don't know how to accomplish this. I am in my fourth year of widowhood and I still have not found a way to keep my mind tethered in the moment I am experiencing.
Yesterday Mike and I booked the first big part of our honeymoon for next summer - a beautiful cabin set in between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It's exciting for sure, but also, terrifying...
Why does something this simple have to be so scary for me? I spent entirely too much time online checking reviews and double checking other options and stretching everything out that I could last night. Instead of just finding a place, booking it, and moving on. As time stretched on, Mike grew mildly frustrated (understandably!) and just wanted me to book the thing. Sometimes, I really need his push. Sometimes, the thought of committing to a plan that is over 6 months away is so so hard. Sometimes, all I can think about is “But what if you die before then?”.
Travel is always a specifically hard one for me, because Drew was halfway across the country when he died. And what’s worse, is that I had plane tickets fly from Dallas and see him three weeks after he arrived in Washington. He died a week before I was supposed to go up. Ever since then, I’ve had a hard time with actually committing to big travel expenses like plane tickets and hotel bookings. That part of me that was so traumatized by his sudden death is always in the background thinking “but what IF Sarah… what IF…”Read more
Last year I could barely walk through the grocery store during the holidays. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite and the thought of even buying ingredients was too much. This year, I told myself that it wasn’t right to stop celebrating. Tin wouldn’t want that at all. So I took a deep breath, swallowed what felt like a rock in my throat and grabbed a turkey. My eyes welled up and I told myself to go checkout. I had to go to the store three separate times to buy what I needed because I would hit a breaking point each time. Seasonings, cider, wine, apple pie, butter – God did Tin love butter. Those tears started in the dairy aisle and I had to go check out.Read more
I often think about life with Mike. I want the life and love he shared with me back. A part of me will always want to slip back into that wonderful life with him. I know that this is not possible, but I do not know how to stop myself from wishing for my old life to return to me. I know that none of these desires are realistic. And, I know that I can’t live in my reverie where Mike still exists. I know all of this, so why can't I stop myself from travelling to our past in my mind. Why can't I stop imagining a future that will never be?
I have spent three years in limbo. I am not present in my own life. Most days, I do not actively engage in my life because I am lost in some place that exists beyond time and space. I feel sad for my children. When Mike died, they lost the Mom they had grown accustom to. I wonder if I can get my act together before they grow up. Raising them is my responsibility and I don't take it lightly. I have to be present for my kids; but, as a widow, I have not found a way to successfully do this. Death robbed Mike from me and it unfairly took my children's mother from them too.
I wish I could snap my fingers and neatly compose myself. I wish I could rearrange my grief so that my mind would remain focussed rather than filled with frazzled thoughts and scattered ideas. I wish this life without Mike was easier. As a widow, I wish so many things I've lost count. Mostly, I spend my time wishing that Mike was still alive sharing his life with me. I wish he was still here having a wonderful life with us.
I stand staring into the cupboard. My eyes see all the familiar coffee mugs lined up. Though they are inanimate objects, the mugs seem to be shamelessly shouting “pick me” from their distinguished spots on the shelf. *Sigh.
Which one should I select.
Which mug do I want to use?
This decision should not be this hard.
Except that it is.
This simple task is hard for me because every little thing becomes more challenging when you live with loss. Even picking a coffee cup can be momentarily overwhelming for me. And, this feels completely out of character for me because I used to be very decisive. I could multitask with ease. I coordinated a career and a household. But, now, I am standing here unsure about what coffee mug to pick from an assortment of mugs displayed on the shelves.
After staring at my choices, I reach for my well worn mug; and, then, at the last second, my hand instinctively grabs his mug. And, I know exactly why I did this. I did this in an effort to feel closer to him. I know that Mike’s lips touched the rim of this particular mug; and, if I use his mug, then maybe our lips can meet somewhere in the space that exist between where he is and where I am.
One week ago, we wrapped up what was easily the busiest Camp Widow I’ve ever taken part in. In two days, it will be the five year anniversary of Megan’s death. Winter has blown into northeast Ohio early this year, with our first snow coming in before the leaves had even had the chance to fall off of the trees. The holidays will be here before we know it.
My brain, and body, are in overdrive right now, and that’s not even counting my day job, which is just plain busy. Time to think about Megan has been minimal. That is both a blessing and a curse. With five years imminent, I feel like a SHOULD be primarily thinking about that fact.
But I’m not. I’ve been thinking about building chandeliers. About yard work. About getting a snowblower, driving to Toronto and upstate New York, changing the oil in the car, and prepping for what is looking like a long winter. At Camp Widow, my name tag contained the titles of “Ambassador”, “Volunteer”, and “Regional Leader”, not to mention that I’m a writer here, and assisted Sarah in presenting her workshop.
All of this has taken precedence over the title of “5 years” that was also emblazoned on my name tag.Read more
Soon I will have been your Widow for three years.
Should I be good at widowing now? Should this feel "normal" to me now?
No one gave me a manual when you died.
So, I am going by feel.
I fumble forward on instinct.
I hate your death date. November 15th, 2016 - you took your last breath and I fought to catch mine.
You died on a Tuesday. For over a year, I hated Tuesdays. Then, after a while, I stopped raging against Tuesday; but, I continued to cringe on the 15th of every month. Now, nearly three years later, the 15th of the month doesn't sting the way it used to. I guess this is progress.
It has been almost three years since I last spoke to you. Three years since I have heard your voice. Three years since I kissed your lips. Three years since I held your hand. Three years since I felt your physical body next to mine. Three long years. And, as I am typing this, I see three roses from your funeral. These red roses are frozen in a frame, casually displayed in my living room. How ironic that these particular roses are on display in my "living" room. *Sigh...
What is a girl to do with any of this?Read more
I’ve always felt that, 5 years after Megan’s death, I wouldn’t feel like a widow anymore. Not counting those first few months, when I swore up and down that my life was over and that I would never, ever move forward or be able to love again, I consider myself very realistic. I have a stable career. Shelby is and always has been well-adjusted, smart, and healthy. I’m not under mountains of crushing debt, or struggling to make ends meet.
By 3 months, my focus had already shifted from being “lost” to being “off track”, if that means anything different.
Most of the time, my premonition rings true. I don’t focus on the fact that Megan is dead on my day to day life. I do not identify myself as a widower anymore than I identify myself as a Marine, network engineer, or high school graduate. The titles are no more than a minor addition to the whole sum that is “me”.
Then again, with my sixth Camp Widow attendance, in Toronto next weekend, the title of “widower” gains greater significance. It becomes “who I am” for a few weeks.Read more
Sometimes I am surprised by moments that heal my in ways I never imagined on this journey of loss. I met Mike because I lost Drew. And I met his daughter Shelby because of that too. And because they lost a wife and mother. And here we are, this new little family sort of scrapped together from the pieces of past lives. There are more pieces too… from our childhood quilts as well. For me, the life when my mom was alive. The life when my dad was alive. All of the pieces are sewn together into this new life we’re sharing.
With so many old, tattered pieces, I think it’s easy to wonder if my parts of the quilt are strong enough. If my whole area of our shared quilt will just fall apart at any time. It’s easy for me to doubt my abilities to be a mom for example, because I lost my mom so young that I really feel like I am just flying blind. All I have to go off of is my dad’s parenting, and he wasn’t winning any parent-of-the-year awards, let me tell you!
Every so often though, there comes a moment when I really know, that I am not only rocking at living on as a widowed person - but that I am rocking this mom thing - even if all I have to go on is my own instincts and my dad’s poor parenting.
This past week was one of those moments for me. We had a big Halloween party for Shelby and all her friends. She’s in 7th grade now, and I’m trying to find ways to continue having big, amazing memories around Halloween with her now that she is getting older. Especially because I have heard so many stories from her about how much her mom loved Halloween. From the moment I met her, I knew that we needed to keep that Halloween spirit alive and big. In past years, that meant hand making amazing costumes together and going to a few fun Halloween events. Now that she is older though, I figured a party with her closest friends would be the way to go.Read more
Two weeks traveling abroad in the Brazilian Amazon! How amazing! So exciting! I have never traveled out of the country besides Cancun, Mexico so this was a huge step outside my comfort zone. I haven’t had an actual vacation since Tin passed so this would be a break for me to soak up the experience and take the much earned downtime to recharge.Read more