Well, it’s that time of year again. I’m here in Texas, with Sarah and Shelby, to celebrate you. This is what, year...five for me? That seems crazy. We went to your grave today, and it’s I guess looking good as ever. The little heart shaped rocks, the trinkets...the helicopters; they’re all still there. Your mom had some pretty nice flowers set up too. Lilies, I think. I dunno. I’m pretty sure you don’t care all that much, considering that it’s been 7 years, and your loved ones are still making it a point to come by and “tidy up”.
Anyway, you should have seen it tonight. Your parents are totally loving having Shelby around. Playing ping-pong with her, your mother showing Shelby around her business, rendering Peanut both in awe of all of the scientific equipment, and speechless, your dad and I telling “dad jokes” to her, and even letting her drive the farm vehicles around. It’s almost like Shelby is their granddaughter.Read more
Sometimes, okay, let’s be honest, more often than sometimes, it feels like the best part of my life is over. She is gone. She is gone. And, she is gone. However, at the same time It feels like this is the best part of my life because I get to raise a fantastic daughter. Even though I know that it would be so, so much better if Natasha were still here, there is something magical about this time in my life. I just need to figure out how to work from home, and then things will be easier. Being diagnosed as being visually impaired doesn’t have to be a huge hindrance like losing my wife. But at the same time, come on! How many challenges do I have to face back to back!Read more
The past month or two has been tough. This time of year usually is. It’s the time of year that led up to when Drew died. These months were some of the happiest in our relationship. He had just gotten his first job as a pilot and was finally living his dreams. We were beginning to look towards our future together, towards a wedding and a new chapter of togetherness. We were at the height of everything and going exciting places… when the crash changed all of that in an instant.
It’s already a hard enough time of year. In the background of living day to day life, I get flashes of memories of the last time we went out to dinner together, or the last time we went for a hike or the last birthday we celebrated together. Flashes of all the happiness and laughter that were ended so abruptly in a crash.
On top of all of that, our anniversary is just a week before the day he died. Forever those two events slam into me almost simultaneously… a one-two punch. And of course it has been on my mind for weeks now leading up to this week. But this time, something else happened on our anniversary a few days ago.
This time, the thing that I never ever wanted to happen, happened. For the entire day of our anniversary…
For the entire day, I was completely unaware of what day it even was. And the whole thing went by without my even realizing it was that special day. It is the horror of all horrors as a widow... to forget an important day. And let me tell you, when it first hit me, I was completely horrified.Read more
Clearly, 4 ½ years is far too long to miss the love of your life since society continues to tell me not to miss my wife anymore. The thrust of the conversation is aimed at pushing me to stop talking about missing my wife and get over it! As a result, we all learn to judge our social environment carefully before bringing illness, longing and/or death, if only grief weren’t so powerful.Read more
Does anyone else feel like they pay less attention to deaths these days? Hear me out. I’ve noticed this trend, at least in me, of learning of a person that might have been significant to me has died. I note it, give it a quick “that sucks, for their widow”, and go about my business.
Tim Conway (a comedian I grew up admiring), Bart Starr (a legendary quarterback that I was a fan of), or Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca!) have all died in the past month or so, and I kind of shrugged it off. I didn’t write out some long, heartfelt facebook post about how they meant the world to me. I didn’t really even “mourn” them. I acknowledged the death, thought about their widows for a second, a promptly moved on with my day.
Death happens now. It happens to young, old, married, unmarried, long-term, sudden, the worst of us, and the best of us. It just “is”. It’s not discriminatory or choosy. It’s random. When those deaths occured, they were just one each, in a line of billions over the millenia.Read more
Today was ”okay”. My grief wasn’t especially heavy. But, this is not usual. Most of the time I feel completely empty inside. The landscape of my Soul is barren since Mike died. I wish it was different, but it's not. I feel empty. There is an awful hollowness that lives inside me that I can't lose.
However, most people in my proximity are unaware of my emptiness. They only see the vibrant life I have. At first glance, my life appears fairly enviable. With the exception of Mike's death, I have all the trappings of a good life. I have the kids, the house, the car, and the career. I have managed to achieve a lot of success in Suburbia. The boxes are checked. My life does not appear to be lacking, but it is...
When your spouse has a long-term, terminal illness, it’s very easy to devote all of your attention to their well-being. I rationalized for years that there was quite literally nothing as bad as what Megan was going through, so anything regarding my own health or person was minimal.
It wasn’t healthy in and of itself, but in the grand scheme of things, I felt “fine”. Megan was the important thing to focus on, just trying to get her to the next day, week, or month. I would simply hold down the fort at home while she was in treatment, go about the routines, and worry about myself later.
It’s now “later”.Read more
Most people on the periphery assume we are strong because they see us doing life. They see us on our driveways. They watch us get into our vehicles as we are on our way to participate in the stuff of living. Yes, we are doing things. They are witness to it. And, the assumption is that we’ve got this. And, maybe part of us does have this. But, there is also a big part of us that is just not okay. At best, we are “okayish” which leaves room for improvement.
In our new life, we participate in activities and half-heartedly go through the motions because after a while, despite our brokenness, we must return to our responsibilities. On ordinary days, I frantically multitask because where there was once two people adulting, now there is only one. Without choice, I now bear the full weight of life in suburbia.
Like many of you reading this, I continue to: raise children, maintain my career, pay my mortgage, plan holidays, unclog drains, and even liberally apply moss killer to the lawn. I pay my bills online while I sit in my car waiting for my son to finish his haircut. I renew house insurance, attend graduations, get routine oil changes on my vehicle, and take my kid to the orthodontist. I stand in line waiting for shaved ham at the deli counter. And, then I lovingly pack this ham into bagged lunches. And, on most days, while doing all this, I attempt to comb my hair into a style that doesn’t resemble frazzled.
Widowed people do this stuff.
All of it.
Every last thing.
We fall back into the mundane rhythm of an ordinary life.
Except our new existence is far from ordinary.
We diligently do all the things life requires of us.
But, now, there is a distinct hollowness to it.
Every single day we make something hard look easy.
Lately I’ve been feeling some sort of an emptiness. After Drew died, for a lot of years, I was doing a lot of creative work around my grief. I was finding visual ways to express this inner world and sharing it with others. There was something about that work that felt so purposeful. It felt like I was doing something important for myself, and indirectly for others a bit too. Mainly, I felt like I was expressing who I was and what I cared about in a really bold way, and it felt right. It felt like I was being myself more fully than I ever had before. Talking about the realities of grief and loss and pain and also courage and creativity and resiliency.
Fast forward now seven years, and I’m finding myself not the person I had hoped I’d be… “by now”. This emptiness almost feels like it comes out of the absence of the really deep pain I was in during those early years. Life has kept on going, and I have kept on living it in many bold and beautiful ways. My life now though is far less governed by my grief and my pain. As the years go on, the pain softens, and somehow I have struggled to know what to do with myself without the agony of fresh grief. I’ve struggled to have a voice without that central idea of pain and lossRead more
Shelby has now, quite literally, walked in her mother's shoes. It's odd to me that, at the age of 12, she actually fits in them, but then again, she isn't stricken with the growth-impeding disease the Megan had.
After buying her new hiking shoes and boots for years, we decided to have her try on Megan's last pair. They fit her almost perfectly. Like that first time Shelby came down the stairs wearing her mom's t-shirt, I was taken aback, and Shelby thought nothing of it.
Credit goes to Megan for that trait. She was very realistic and unemotional about her own death. She accepted it and moved on to better things. It was rare for her to be scared or have deep thoughts about it, unlike me, who constantly dreaded it. Shelby, like her mother, never worries over Megan's death. I have yet to see her show any sadness, since the funeral mass. It's honestly the best Megan could have hoped for.Read more