I often get told, “you’re always smiling” or “you smile a lot.” It’s meant in a positive way of course but I can’t help but reflect on it. A year ago, I might have felt guilty for being told I’m smiling. I had questioned whether I was allowed to feel happy after such a loss and if I was happy, just how happy I was allowed to be. I wanted to look up in a rule book: how often is a “good” widow supposed to smile or feel happy? I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mike or for others to think I wasn’t sad anymore. I was sad but there was room for happiness too.
I don’t feel that way anymore about smiling. Part of it is I really don’t care what others think of me and my happy/sad balance. The bigger part and more important realization is that it is only because I have been so incredibly sad that I can genuinely appreciate when I feel happy. You see, when I smile and laugh I am so aware of it. I’m so conscious of feeling happy. I don’t think there has been a time since Mike died that I smiled or felt happy for a prolonged period of time without internally acknowledging that, “hey, I’m feeling happy right now and this is really nice.”Read more
I introduced who I am now last week but that is just a piece of me and really, she’s still kind of new around here. The other part of me is the me before Mike died. She was around for a long time and was very comfortable in her skin. At the time, I truly thought that version of myself was very independent but after he died I quickly realized how much of my identity was closely tied to Mike. I’m not saying it was a bad thing; it was just kind of a surprise to me. It suited me then and I liked myself and who he helped me be. Today I’d like to introduce me from before Mike died and our story. In introducing me from before and our story you’ll get to know more about Mike too. I can’t and don’t want to separate the two. He was and still is a big part of me.
The Before me was young. She was a bit naive about the world. She smiled with her eyes and with her whole heart. Sometimes now I begrudge her a bit for that but she had no reason to be any different. She was happy in the most innocent, purest form. When I can take a step back to genuinely reflect, I am glad she had that time to be that way. The reality of life could wait.
I sometimes feel like I have 2 identities: the me before and the me after my husband, Mike, died. I was originally going to introduce myself by introducing the me before I became a widow but that wasn’t sitting well with me as a first impression. It’s not really who I am today. It is still important to how my current identity developed but it is not all of it. Who I am today is more relevant because it is me in this moment. However, unlike the Before Me who knew who she was and can be described pretty clearly, the Now Me is still a work in progress and therefore harder to explain.
Some parts of me are still straightforward though. I’m 29 years old. I feel like possibly going on 80 sometimes, but nope, just 29. I am a grade 1/2 teacher in Ontario, Canada. I have a dog named Tango who has to listen to me when I share about my day. He’s pretty good at it and he doesn’t interrupt except to give me kisses, which is also acceptable. I love the outdoors and being active. I go for a lot of hikes with my dog and take him cross-country skiing (skijorning) in the winter. I also like mountain biking, snowboarding, running, travelling, cottaging and working out. I don’t particularly love to cook but I love to eat so I’m a pretty decent cook. I do love to bake. And read and write. I have amazing friends and family who I also enjoy spending time with. I’d appreciate adding a few hours in the day so I have time for all the things I want to do. See, I can do “normal.Read more
For anyone new to this blog, my husband Mike died in 2013 of a heart attack in his sleep. Finding him the next morning is a horrific memory I will carry with me always.
He had heart problems, to be sure, but I didn’t really know the extent of it. I’m not sure whether he did either. He hated doctors and hospitals, and I often wonder if he had sought good regular care he might have had a longer life. I also often wonder if I had known more about his condition and what to do in terms of diet and supplementation whether it would have made any difference.
18 Months. 564 days. A year and a half has now passed by without him. It doesn’t feel like that long ago, but then again it does. Some days it feels like yesterday that we were sharing kisses. Other days our life feels like a sweet distant and faint memory. Some days it’s not real at all, as though we just lost contact somewhere along the way. I imagine and dance with the idea he is away somewhere living out a happy and full life. Somedays I like to pretend ill see him again in this life. None of my day dreams change how much I miss him.
There is no longer much left in my house of the life we shared. His clothes, I have packed away. His toiletries, packed away. His tools, packed away. Out of sight but never out of mind. People rarely speak of him now, speak of us. I miss hearing his name being spoken. I miss hearing stories told about him, even if they make me cry. Tears are worth the sound of his name. How I wish for more than just memories.
His ashes rest in a pendant around my neck. The pendant is a reality check, I cannot pretend he is away when part of him is with me. Which part I wonder at times. These thoughts are sickening, sorrow filled, painful and yet to be peaceful. I want all of him with me. In life not dust. I long for him in the flesh. I long for the warmth of him, but instead of his warmth I wear a cold chain around my neck. Although it brings me pain to wear it, I do not feel as alone when he is with me.
I find myself smiling with life and without thinking about it the pendant becomes pressed to my lips. When I feel afraid, stressed, worried alone, the pendant is clasped in my fist. And I can speak to him, cry to him as he were here. It’s both comforting and depressing.Read more
Remember as a kid when you would hold your hand out the car window and float it up and down in the wind? As a kung fu guy, Mike would play with the wind the same way, with the same joy as that child riding in the car. I have a hard time describing how that large man would seem to float effortlessly in the air, twirling, kicking, jumping, his arms moving in spirals so fast your eyes could barely keep up. And in big wind, he had even more fun. He used to love to go to the windiest spots on the island to play like that.Read more
Whether or not there is a belief in God or an afterlife, I would bet that many widowed people talk to their lost loves. The first few months after Mike died I remember that horrific, heart-clenching, shattering new reality that he was not there to talk to anymore. But as time went on I just started talking to him anyway. Sometimes I yelled at him for leaving me. Sometimes now it’s a short I miss you, Mike. I say that a lot. Out loud. Other times I find myself having a longer conversation.
I had a dream about Mike last week. I hear some widowed people bemoan the fact that they never dream of their loved one...but these dreams are not always happy. I wish we could all visit with them in all our dreams every night, dancing happily through the fields of neverwhere together, able to talk to them and laugh with them. But not all dreams are like that. In fact I have yet to have one even remotely like that.Read more
I'm enjoying my last few months in Kona working at the restaurant. It is situated just a few feet from the water; the view is stupendous. The people are friendly and fun - this includes the staff and the customers. So it's really not a bad place to be in any regard. I often find myself gazing out over the ocean and the other quaint buildings in this little town - well, you can't help it, it literally fills your view wherever you are down there.
Every writer experiences it. Staring at the blank page. Sometimes no words come at all, and sometimes, there are so many words we're not sure which ones to put down.
Grief is kind of like that. Sometimes we sit in blank stupefaction while the horror of our new reality without our spouses showers down around us. Other times we are inundated with so many different emotions we don't know which direction to turn. Confusion, fear, loneliness, nostalgia, anxiety, stress.