We all know the dreaded dates. The anniversary of their death, birthdays, togetherness anniversaries, holidays but there’s one more on my list that adds another dark mark on my year - His diagnosis date.
The other week, we stopped by a field of sunflowers on our way home. This isn’t just any field of sunflowers… it is a memorial called Prayers from Maria. Each year for the past five years, this field has been planted with hundreds of sunflowers. Towards the end of every summer, they bloom into their full glory. I’ve seen this covered on the news each year since moving to Ohio, but this is the first time that I had set foot there in person.
So what is special about this place? It was started because of death, and because of love. Because of the death of a beautiful daughter to a family, who lost a battle with childhood cancer. What has unfolded now is a powerful place for so many to come to have a moment of quiet. What I didn’t realize before stepping through the field, is that there would be notes and prayers, written on cards they provide, tied gentle to the stalks of the flowers.
As we first entered the main path through the flowers, I was completely overwhelmed by all the messages. Many of them were messages to loved ones who have died. Not just children that died from cancer, but moms and dads and grandparents and friends and spouses. It was beautiful and terrible all at once. The further we walked, the more there were. Message after message. Row after row. So much loss. So much death. But also… so much love. So much deep, enduring, beautiful love.Read more
Mike and I are both widowed. Which means that there are two days every year that are very specific to our relationship. Two days every year that most couples don’t have, nor have they probably ever considered. These two days are extremely special, but hard. And each year as they approach, in June and in August, we’re not exactly sure what to do with them or how each other will be feeling. After all, these two days are in celebration of a beautiful beginning with someone else, not our beginning with each other.
These two days are hard, and complex, and beautiful. Usually, we go out to dinner on those two days together. Sometimes it’s very joyful and full of love and laughter. Other years, it’s hard. And no matter how great our meal is or our love for each other, nothing removes the sting of why we are there. Or why we are together in the first place. And we never know from year to year which way it will be.
Just last week was Mike’s anniversary with Megan. We went out to dinner to one of her favorite steak houses. And it was lovely and it was hard all at once. The kind of hard I’ve come to know well since loving someone that is widowed. The kind of hard that often times lies under the surface of things. As I sit across from him in the dimly lit restaurant, I can feel it pumping through his veins - entirely unbeknownst to anyone else in the room.Read more
Last weekend I was at a close friends wedding. I loved the people, the venue and the time away from my regular hectic schedule. On a beautiful hill at a colonial inn in rural New Hampshire, we all gathered under three towering maple trees to watch two friends join together.
Another year, another birthday. Megan would be 38 tomorrow. Each time July 24 rolls around, it’s a slightly different experience for me. Sometimes, the build-up to that day is the difficult part. Other times, it has been acknowledged as “it is what it is” and the day passes without much fanfare.
This year, it’s a mixture of both.
While it is never swept under the rug, the theme that past few weeks has been a ridiculous amount of distraction. My work has been beyond what I would normally call “busy”. We’ve just returned from our trip to Texas. There has been some car trouble, and a lot of work around the house. More often than not, I’m just plain tired.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room to remember that Megan’s birthday falls in July. But I do anyway. I remember it at night, when I’m falling to sleep. I remember it on weekday mornings, when I’m up and preparing for work, but the rest of the house is quiet. My commute is yet another instance where I get a few free minutes to think, and in comes Megan.Read more
Monday mornings are typically tough getting back into the grind but when your person’s birthday consumes that first day of a new week’s energy you can barely make it through the day let alone the week. This is the second birthday without him. These milestones seem to be flying by faster and faster but the space Tin filled seems to be just as big as the day he passed. It sometimes feels like I am drowning in the waves of emptiness. There is no other way to describe it.Read more
The Fourth of July - All things summer right? It’s cookouts, pool, family, sunscreen and fireworks. All the freedoms you get living in the good ole USA. It’s funny how the word freedom is used. By definition, freedom means you are not enslaved or forced to act or be a certain way. You are not trapped. Of course, for the USA freedom means all of those things to show our independence. Interesting, that word freedom, because it is purely based on one’s perception of the situation.Read more
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
A month from today, Sarah, Shelby, and I will be hitting the road for Texas. It is time for our annual “Drewfest” weekend, where Drew’s closest friends gather to remember him, celebrate him, and in general, have a fun time like the “good old days”.
Personally, this will be my fifth Drewfest. I’ve been part of them since 2015, a few months after meeting Sarah, and less than a year after Megan’s death. I wrote about the first one in a letter to Drew, right here, for Soaring Spirits, and coming up on this one, there are still many times when I feel like an “Outsider”.Read more
It has been almost 4 ½ years since Natasha left us, and finally, it feels as though the grief is passing. Yet, every now and then it I think that it is over, that the grief is over—but then certain thoughts start to resurface, This is not fair, why does life have to be so hard, and why are other people’s lives so much easier!Read more