Many people make resolutions in January.
I simply picked a word.
I picked a word to guide me into the new decade.
This is my word.
I’m not talking about romantic love.
I’m talking about: Big Love, Agape Love, Self-Love.
And, mostly I am talking about Love of Life.
The life I have in front of me.
The life I have been given.
The one that is vastly different than the one I imagined...
I am striving to love the moment I’m in.
I want to fall in love with the present (again).
I do not want to wish it away foolishly seeking more or less.
I will choose (again and again) to love the beautiful life I have.
Even though it’s not the life I imagined, I will accept it and learn to love it as completely as I loved Mike when he was alive.
I intend to live like it is the golden hour because how can I be sure it's not.
After awhile, our friends and family don't get the daily loss reminders we do. I get these strong urges to post on social media and remind them but those posts have evolved into a way to try and help anyone who needs it. This week, as I sit in my car, I just started writting.....
It’s been almost 2 years since Clayton passed away. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like an eternity.Read more
Lately, Mike feels so far away. It is very hard to properly describe, but I will give it a try. He has taken on the feel of a memory. Now, Mike feels like more of a memory than my person. I feel lousy admitting this. It sort of feels like he is dying all over again.
In my head, Mike feels like someone who lived once upon a time - in another lifetime. Writing this and committing these thoughts to paper feels unsettling to me. It is completely jarring. I dislike that the man I love has taken on the feel of a familiar character in my favorite book. Once upon a time, Mike was real. He was flesh and blood not so long ago. And, now it seems like he lived in another place and another time. And, really, I guess he did.
Today, it does not feel like it was in my lifetime that he shared his life with me. This is the stuff that fills my head and breaks my heart. This is the stuff that widowhood is made of. Dammit. There is no happy ending I can possibly write to any of this.
The man I love now feels like a memory.
Read that again.
And, now read it another time.
The man I love now feels like a memory...
He feels so far away.
He feels like a lifetime ago.
He does not feel real anymore.
He doesn't feel real anymore because he is not.
He's not real anymore...
A while ago, Mike and I wrote this post together about some of the things that are harder about being two widowed people in a new relationship. In that post, we talked about how we aren’t ever able to really pull the widow card on one another, because essentially - it’s canceled out. We’ve both been through an equally hard pain.
We have also both been through an equally beautiful love. A love that was - and still is - with someone else. While it’s not fun to admit, we had a fight last night. As with most fights, it started with something small that became something not so small. As emotions calmed though and we talked through many layers of feelings - there was one subject that came up that is something we both feel and something that is always complex. And that something is because we are both widowed.
It is the feeling that we are each other’s “Second choice”. And it might surprise some people to know that even when you are both widowed, you still have this feeling, and it can still be hard. So we wanted to each share our side of this struggle:Read more
Recently, a widowed person told me I am a “Bad Ass”. She said this in relation to what she views as my bravery and courage. I assure you, I do not view myself as particularly brave or courageous. I feel like an ordinary, if not slightly disorientated and haggard, middle aged woman. Sure, I know that I am capable of tough stuff. Mike's death has assured me of this; but, all this aside, I am just a normal woman who has been forced to navigate some big challenges in her lifetime.
If the past is a predictor of the future, then I know that I should be okay. In my life, I have managed to be successful in most of my endeavours because of my hard work and consistent effort. Even prior to being Mike's widow, I had to exercise my tenacity. I've lived long enough that I have field tested my fortitude on several occasions and the results have usually been favorable. I know I can adapt to the curveballs life throws me. Still, none of this qualifies me as a Bad Ass. Or does it?
I have witnessed the strength of the human spirit. I've stood in awe of ordinary people who have survived very difficult things because they simply must. These people were somehow able to shed their regular run of the mill "strongness" for something extraordinary. They adapted because their survival demanded it. These people traded ordinary for extraordinary because it was required of them. They cloaked themselves in superhuman strength because all human beings have a strong desire to live forward in spite of the awful things that can happen during the course of a lifetime.
Grief requires ordinary people like us to dig deep. And, when we are tired and think that we can not continue a moment longer, grief forces us to dig even deeper. Grief demands that we find our super power again and again and again. As widowed people, we flex our inner Bad Ass every day.
So many people in our modern society are not well versed in the ways of grief. When you have never lived a year, or five years, or 50 years with the death of someone you love, you just don’t know what that will mean or be like. I have both the fortune and misfortune of having lost people at a young age… and so while I still have relatively fresh grief from my fiance dying 7 years ago, I also have long term grief from my mom dying almost 30 years ago now.
Having lived so much of my 37 years with her death has given me time to go through a lot of different phases with her. In my early 20’s is when I truly began to grieve her death in a big way. Not really capable as a child, it took time to mature to a place to break that pain open. It was my first breakup from a serious relationship that broke my grief open for my mom. And so I learned, sometimes it is like that - sometimes one loss in your world will rip open the old wounds of another loss WIDE OPEN.
In my 20’s I also began to celebrate and build a relationship to my mom once more. My family was the type to not talk about dead people, or painful things, so I learned just to think she was gone and no longer existed. But I never believed that on the inside I don’t think. It was in my 20’s that I started to celebrate her birthday again, quietly on my own. I began writing a card to her on that day to talk about all the things in my world and thank her for all the lessons she continues to teach me.Read more
With time and hard, consistent work, grief does bear gifts for time served. Grief, like all things in life changes. The changes are not linear and they don’t come as quickly as we would like, but change does occur nonetheless.
This fourth year without Mike, my grief feels different. Now, my grief is well worn. It is softer and more “comfortable” if that is even possible. It still doesn’t quite fit right. But, I am wearing it just the same. I am learning to wear grief well; or, at least with more ease. With time, my grief fits better. Yours will too.
Rest assure, I never want to be entirely comfortable with grief. This is not where I want to settle. This is not where life is lived. It is a starting point at best. There is hope. Hope for a life that is not filled with sadness and desire only for days gone by. Others, who are further along than me in widowhood, have assured me that their grief has changed. I want to believe them, and I want this for myself too. But, early on, I did not know how this would ever become true. I worried my grief would be exceptional. It was not. And, your grief won’t be either.
The holiday season is over. Starting in early November, every year, I begin pondering Megan’s death at an elevated rate, leading up to the anniversary of it. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all occurring in the weeks just after, it’s two months of absolute stress, that nobody seems to understand, including myself. My work becomes overwhelming, the weather is never “nice”, no matter what the actual conditions, and it feels as if my world is falling apart.
I present myself as totally and unalterably angry, save for the three to five days where I am just flat-out depressed, until sometime on or around January 2nd of the new year. There is no specific pattern, other than November starting, along with the initial thought of “this is the month Megan died”. It’s all a plummet from there.
I have no control over it. I can intellectually analyze it and realize that my anxiety is wholeheartedly related to her death occurring within the month, but 95 percent of the time, it is buried in my subconscious, with the quick-hitting excuses of “work sucks”, “money is tight”, or “I’m just tired” taking the forefront.
The holidays have become something to “get through” anymore.
I got through them.Read more
Soon it will be my fourth New Year's Eve without Mike. Huh. Wow... I don't even know what any of this means. Everything and nothing all at once I suppose. No matter the year, I miss him and this will not change.
My grief is evolving with time, but the missing is always there. It is more tolerable now, but in my fourth year of widowhood the sense of his absence is still ever present. I do not think this will ever change.
Mike is missing from me and it is hard to live with the aching inside me - time does not make it better. Easier? Maybe. With time, the emptiness inside me is less shocking. I am more used to the hollow feeling I have within me. In truth, I hardly remember living without the dull ache of my grief.
A new year is before us whether I like it or not. 2020 is a year Mike will never be here to live. But, I will usher it in. I didn't die. Shouldn't I welcome the new year and all the possibility it holds? Shouldn't I rejoice in my life? After all, I do still have a good life. I am grateful for all I have; but, nonetheless, I hate NYE because it feels like it puts more distance between Mike and I. He feels noticably further away these days. I don't sense him like I used to. With time, his physical attributes are fading. His voice isn't clear anymore. The feel of him is blurring. Time is making him more of a memory and less of my man.
It is very difficult to welcome in a year he will not be a part of. But, for the rest of my life this is what I will do.
It’s almost the end of the year. In a few days, it will be the 8th time I have welcomed a new year that Drew will not be alive to share in. The years have now stretched on for so long that it has all become so surreal. Eight years used to be something I was so afraid of. That first year or two, I could not fathom being 8 years away from him. Having that kind of distance of time between us. It felt so painful to think of the fact that I had absolutely no power to stop the distance of time from becoming greater and greater.
Now, on the eighth year I am about to embark on since his death, it doesn’t feel painful. It doesn’t feel like there is a greater distance between us at all. In some way, over time, I feel as though I’ve settled into a new relationship with him, and once I arrived there, I have not felt greater distance from him through the new years. I believe 100% that he still exists, in some other form, and that he is still present very often. His death changed our relationship, but it did not end it. And that is solidly what I feel...