Flowers, Cake, and Change

When you are busy living and surviving and struggling inside your own life, it is often hard or damn near impossible to be able to recognize your own progress, shifts, and changes. Time goes by and you may feel stuck in place, or like things are moving in slow motion or not at all, when the reality may be quite different. Living life and grieving all at once, every day, for long periods of time – it can often feel like nothing is happening.

It’s sort of like if you have 100 pounds to lose, and you lose an average of 3 pounds per month. 3 pounds per month is a very healthy way to lose weight, and it will probably stay off if you do it that way. But, when you are inside of that and doing all the work, and you look at your own body or reflection in the mirror, you might not notice any difference. You might look at yourself, get frustrated, and say: “What is the point of all this?”

Change happens in pieces, and in very tiny fragments. You know that term “overnight success?” Yeah. Not really. Most of those people have been working their asses off for years. This night just happened to be the night where they clicked on the right thing, in the right moment. The night when all their back-breaking work, finally began to pay off. Becoming who you were meant to be, isnt always glamorous or obvious or quick-paced. But it sure is something to be proud of.

Yesterday was strange. I woke up feeling defeated by grief, trauma, and pain. I felt as if so many of my old demons were coming back to visit, and would they ever really go away? The unhealthy ways in which I used to cope with grief or trauma, such as isolating and gorging on sugar and carbs to the point where I would feel physically sick, were starting to re-emerge after the holidays. It had been 6 whole years since I had enjoyed Christmas or wanted it, that this year it felt almost urgent, my returning love for all things Christmas. I didn’t want to miss out on even one Christmas cookie or traditional dish, dammit! I was going to show myself, and grief, and the world, that I could let Christmas back in again with a vengeance! I was going to eat up life at full volume, and nobody could stop me!

The problem was, I was gorging on life. Hoarding it. Shoving it down with no thought or meaning to the end result. Delighting in the frenzy of it all. I guess I forgot about moderation. Or logic. I started to feel lazy, tired, and cranky. I went overboard, and I could feel myself drowning, and reaching that place where I stop caring. Where I do things out of habit, and then my unhealthy ways become the norm. I started feeling scared of losing control. I needed to stop before it got a hold of me.

So I stopped it. I called up my boyfriend of 7 months, who Im very much in love with, and told him that I wanted to talk with him about some of my demons and insecurities, and how it might affect him, and us. It was not an easy thing to talk about. I felt embarrassed. I recalled stories and times where I didnt feel proud of myself, but hated myself and acted accordingly. This man I love, his reaction was to talk me through it, share some things with me about him and how he could relate to my issues, and then ask me what he can do to help or be supportive.

I talked about it, I didnt isolate, and I’m now in a relationship with a mature, caring person, who strives to be the best version of himself, and inspires me to be the best version of myself, every day. So because I made the decision to reach out and talk to him, I was rewarded. And because I decided to hang in there, and keep giving love another shot, after all the heartache, I was gifted this great man. And because I spent all those hours and weeks and days and months and years, sitting in grief therapy shredding apart and analyzing my life after loss and sitting inside the pain of it, I was now in a place where I could receive and give love in a healthy way. And so my hard work paid off. I got my “overnight success” moment, out of the ashes of death and chaos. This was my time of realized change, after giant chunks of life where it felt like nothing was happening.

After we talked for awhile in his car, he dropped me off at my part-time job, and then onto my weekly widowed group that I recently joined. In there, one of the topics was change – how when change happens TO us, as widowed people, such as having no choice in the fact that your person is now dead – it sucks. You feel resentful of that kind of change, because you never asked for or wanted it. You liked things the way they were. Then we talked about another kind of change. The kind that you work hard at. The kind that is so slow, you may not know its happening, until you are sitting in your boyfriend’s car crying and telling him why the trauma of being raped, or finding out your husband is dead, causes you to find yourself hoarding and hiding food, and isolating in your self-loathing and pity. Telling him how it took you years to not feel guilty for sleeping, or how you are now the same age your husband was when he dropped dead for no reason, and you are terrified.

My guy came into my house with me, and then he said: “I forgot something in the car.” He came back with, quite literally, the biggest bouquet of multi-colored roses, I have ever seen or been given. I tried counting them, but I keep losing my place. There must be 6 or 7 dozen, as some of the budding ones fall hidden underneath the larger ones. He posed the question: “Have I told you today that you are absolutely beautiful, and that you deserve dozens and dozens of flowers?” In that moment, I felt like: “Hell yes! I DO deserve this! Ive certainly been through enough pain and worked my ass off to get here. To get to right now!”

roses nick

roses bucket

As we stepped into the house, there was a small box waiting on the doorstep. A package for me. By the size of it, I knew exactly what it was. Cake!!! About a month ago, in one of the many widowed groups I hang out in on Facebook, a widow named Trinity, told the story of how she used to make this particular chocolate cake every year, for her husband, on his birthday. He loved the cake. When he died, she decided that instead of NOT making the cake any longer, she would instead make lots and lots of smaller cakes, and send them in the mail all across the country, to a bunch of widows, who are also missing their person. Instead of isolating in her pain, she decided to share her love forward, and keep celebrating his birthday in this strange and beautiful new way. Love Grows Love.

cake

I dont think it was an accident that I received dozens of unexpected roses, delicious unexpected chocolate-fudgey cake, and a deep feeling that something in me was changing – all on the same day.

This is not the life I wanted or asked for or expected, and I will always deeply miss my husband, that life, and all of the things we will never get to do or live together.

But as I continue to grow into it, and work hard to create and build connections and goals that are meaningful to me – I fall into this life more and more, and I might just begin to love it.

We Made the Top 50 Widow Blog List from “Feedspot.com”

Sometimes, when you are writing into the stratosphere that we call the internet, it can feel as if you are talking to nobody. Nobody responds, except for the here and there comments, which I so much appreciate. But majority of the time, writing can feel empty. Like talking to a wall. Technically, I know people are reading my words and being helped by them or connecting to them, but emotionally, it can be hard to feel that at times.

That is why being recognized in an “end of the year” Best of type list, means so very much to me. It is validation that, yes, my words do matter, and yes, people do read this. The list, created by www.Feedspot.com, was for “The Top 50 Widow Blogs on the Web.” Last week, I received an email on this blog from the founder of Feedspot, that RIPtheLifeIKnew, had made the list. I’m at #25. It is the most comprehensive list of blogs on the internet, and I now display the BADGE that says this, on my home page.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of blogs out there, maybe even thousands, written by widowed people. Im so honored to know that this writing that I began doing on the day my husband died, as a way to try and breathe and cope and get through the day, has turned into so much more. I thank each and every one of you who has read, commented on, shared, or liked even one of my many blog posts.

I am in the end stages of writing my book, and should have a first draft ready for my editor sometime next month. Not everything will make it into the book, so this blog will always remain as a constant place where I can continue to share the many different and evolving emotions and experiences of widowhood.

I appreciate all of you so much.
Keep on reading,
and I promise to keep writing.

Happy 2018!

The Jury Has Made a Decision ….

As a widowed person, I sometimes feel as if I’m been convicted of something.

Perhaps I did something wrong, and I just dont remember.

Being widowed is sort of like having to plead your case,

take the Fifth,

plead insanity,

to a Jury of your “peers”,

over and over and over

Again.

For some reason,

when you become widowed,

people seem to think

that this gives them the right

to give any and all opinions

on your life.

How you should feel.

What you should do.

Shouldnt do.

How you should grieve.

When you should date.

Or not date.

When you should “get rid of” his things.

Take off your wedding ring.

Move on.

Get over it.

“It’s been 3 months. Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

OR

“It’s been 6 years, and you’re in LOVE after only knowing someone for a few months? That seems VERY FAST!”

Well,

you know what?

Fuck off.

Seriously.

Fuck.

Off.

Yes.

Im angry.

I have every right to be.

Im sick and tired of being judged.

Of feeling like people think I’ve lost my common sense,

and not my husband.

Of feeling like everyone is silently, or VERY LOUDLY, judging and picking apart

everything I do.

Or don’t do.

I’m tired of it.

I’m not on trial here.

I haven’t commited a crime.

me and boo

I love two men.

One of them is still dead, forever.

It took me SIX YEARS to get here.

To be able to love again.

Love after loss is messy.

Complicated.

Fierce.

Emotional.

Eyes wide-open.

Incredibly beautiful.

Profound, even.

When you have lost everything –

your partner, your world, your future, your present, your sense of life having meaning,

THE LIFE YOU KNEW,

when it all disappears,

before you have even woken up that morning,

you are changed,

profoundly,

forever.

HOW you are changed,

is ultimately,

up to you.

I have changed.

I am more emotional.

I am more sensitive to things.

I am more compassionate.

Less judgmental.

More patient.

More empathetic.

I love deeper.

Bigger.

Louder.

My relationship with my late husband,

was a slow build.

A deep friendship that turned into more,

over time.

My new love

Is a volcano.

It erupted and sparked and turned me inside out,

and Love didnt just WALK in,

it sprinted.

It tumbled down a lava-filled mountain,

screaming and cheering and carrying on.

Its terrifying.

Every single day I wake up and think,

“What if he dies today?

What if we don’t even get our first Christmas together?

What if we don’t have our first New Years Eve?

What if I wake up one day, and it’s just gone,

all over again?”

java house

Panic and terror and anxiety are a part of me now.

They just are.

That’s what happens when you wake up one morning,

and your husband is already dead.

That never leaves you.

Never.

So I can close off my heart to love,

forever,

because I don’t want the panic.

And because,

I can’t go through that never-ending pain of losing them,

Again.

OR,

I can love profoundly,

with the knowledge

seeped into my brain

always,

that this may end tomorrow.

That tomorrow may not be a thing for us.

I have chosen Love.

I will live with the fear, so I can have the Love.

I will love my dead husband,

as I love this beautiful new person.

I will collect all the Love,

and hold it

like a precious Jewel,

never letting go.

Just adding more,

and more,

and more.

And if you,

and your Jury of peers,

most of whom have NOT been through this,

and who have NOT A CLUE what this life is,

want to judge me

and convict me

for loving

and honoring

my dead husband

Fiercely,

while

loving and honoring my life,

and my new love,

Profoundly,

and deeply,

and simultaneously,

If you want to convict me of that crime,

as you go back home and slide into bed

next to your husband,

who is very much alive,

Go For it.

When it comes to Love,

I plead Guilty.

Every single time.

Life Goes On

Awhile back, pretty early on in my loss, I remember some person responding to my utter turmoil, deep grief, and endless sobbing fits, with this gem: “Well, life goes on!” In that moment, I can recall feeling and thinking several things.

A: Fuck you.

B: Yeah, no shit. Tell me something I dont already know, you condescending ass.

C: How DARE life just “go on?”, when my husband isnt here? How dare it? And how CAN it? How am I supposed to go on? And why hasn’t the world stopped on it’s axis after his death? How am I ever going to keep up? I don’t feel like it. I don’t want to. I wont.

D: And, oh yeah … Fuck you.

Now, today, 6 years into this madness, I still feel like that was a shitty and cavalier thing to say to someone whose life and world and universe was just dessimated in the blink of an eye, but Im starting to see that maybe they didnt mean it in the way it was received. Maybe they meant that one day, way far away in the future, my life would actually be a bigger part of the fraction, than my grief. Maybe they meant that one day, I will actually LIVE instead of just exist. And yes, they were right, and that day has now come, where the pain is no longer 24/7, and where joyous life has grown in places where I didnt know there were any seeds. So much so, that last week, I forgot to write my blog in here (so sorry!), because I was on a trip to NYC seeing old friends and enjoying city life and everything else. And writing in here just completely slipped my mind. (Again – so sorry!) So, it’s really sometimes a GOOD thing, when life gets in the way of writing about pain. Because it means you are awake, and living your life, and that new joy is possible.

I say all of this, to say two things:

1: If you cant yet imagine a day where joy and life could possibly be a bigger part of your fraction, than pain, that is okay. But know that it’s absolutely possible, and just because you cant yet see it or feel it, doesnt mean it isn’t there. It is, and you will meet up with it when you are ready for it.

2: If you are not widowed, and you should run into a widowed person, who has just lost their person, their world, and life as they knew it – maybe DON’T say to them in a cavalier and careless voice while shrugging your shoulders: “Well, life goes on.”

It’s really kind of an asshole thing to say.

And you very well might get punched in the eyeball.

Thank you.

I Get It Now, and I’m Sorry

Lately, I have been finding myself in situations that I have been in before, except this time, Im in the situation as the other person, and the other person is my forever dead husband. The other night, I found myself sitting in his recliner chair, and talking to him in a whisper, which I do from time to time, and I was saying: “I get it now. And I’m sorry.” What am I sorry about? Read on ….

Years ago, when I met Don in an AOL Music Chat Room and we had a long-distance relationship from Florida (him) to New York (me),we mutually came to an agreement that he would be the one to move to where I was, which eventually ended up being New Jersey, just 10 minutes outside of Manhattan and the NYC border. Actually, it was never really much of a discussion. One day, after a few years of dating long-distance, he simply said: “So obviously Im the one who will be moving, because you NEED to be in NYC for your career and your comedy and acting and writing and all those connections, and theres nothing for you in Florida. I can be a paramedic anywhere. Im going to start saving up money to move up there with you.”

Don was a very practical and logical person. In his mind, if he wanted to be with me, he knew he needed to move. He didn’t really think of it as a sacrifice. He thought of it as a fact of life. “You live there. I don’t. If we are going to be together and have a future, I need to move to where you are. It’s that simple.”

Except it’s not. And it wasn’t.

He moved in. About 10 months after that, he proposed. And about 9 months after that, we got married. We would have 4 years and 9 months together as a married couple, before he died. I can honestly say that in our marriage and our time liviing together, we rarely fought. We didn’t argue much at all. We barely even had disagreements. Things that other couples got stressed about or got angry at each other about, we laughed off as silly. We would witness couples in restaurants either not speaking to one another at all, or talking to each other disrespectfully or in a careless and cruel way. Don used to say: “We will never become that. Never.” He didn’t understand why people would waste their time with someone they clearly didn’t like or enjoy being with. Someone who they had nothing to say to at dinner, or someone they felt the need to yell at every 5 minutes.

Don and I really enjoyed being with each other. We loved each other so much, but more importantly, we really really liked each other. When we were together in each other’s presence, we were almost always happy. He was a content and happy person by nature anyway – the kind of guy that used to walk around whistling a tune, or humming lightly to himself around the apartment. He was rarely ever stressed out or upset about anything. For real. That’s just how he was.

Therefore, when he was upset or bothered by something, I always knew right away. He would get this look in his eyes like a little boy lost. His voice would shake a little when he spoke. There was one topic, one area, where there was sometimes tension and emotion between us. It was the topic of him disliking New Jersey – and missing Florida, his friends, his old job there, his lifestyle, his way of being. It would come on suddenly for him, during a quiet weekend afternoon hanging out together. He would just say out loud, out of the blue: “I miss Florida.” Then I would say something like: “I know you do, Boo. I’m sorry.” He would get really quiet and then continue: “I miss my friends. I didn’t realize it would be this hard to leave.” He would stay quiet for a few hours, or a day or two would go by and he would be more sad than usual, and then he would be back to his old self again.

Sometimes his dislike of all things New Jersey would turn into hatred. It would come on because of something specific that would happen, like his car being towed after parking on our street, or having to get a monthly parking spot across the street for $200 a month. Or having to get ice off his car. Or having to pay double what he paid in Florida for just about everything, just because. Or not being able to take his bike out and ride it all year round, or play tennis all year round like he did in Florida. Or always hanging around “my” friends, which did become “his” friends too and he loved them, but he missed his own tribe back home. Or working EMS in Jersey, which was apparently much different and more annoying than down in Florida. Sometimes he would get upset by one of these irritating things, and in his anger, say something like: “Dammit. I hate this stupid place!” Or “This state sucks. Everything is so ass-backwards. Why is the simplest thing so goddamn difficult to do here?” Then what would happen is that I would take those words in and hear them as: “I hate it here. Im sorry I ever moved here. Im sorry I married you and I hate our life together.” I would get upset, and start to cry. “How do you think that makes me feel, when you keep saying over and over how much you hate it here?”, I would ask him. He would say: “Im not going to apoligize for missing my friends and how simple things were in Florida. That doesnt mean I dont love you or that I want to leave you. I live here BECAUSE I love you SO much. Its just hard for me sometimes, Boo. Im not saying it to make you feel bad. I just need to vent.” For me, this was hard to hear. To me, it was so hard to seperate his love for me and his hatred for where we were living our life. How could he possibly love me, but HATE living here, where we live? How is that possible?

Turns out it’s very possible. Fast-forward to current day. After 26 years of living in the NYC area, I packed up my life and moved back to my home state of small town Massachusetts. Staying in my parent’s basement while I finish writing my book, and most likely, leaving NYC behind for good. (I will visit OFTEN – but living there is just too impossible financially.) A few month after moving here, I found love. I have this incredible man in my life who I love with my whole heart and soul, I am finishing the book that will tell the story of me and Don and my life in the aftermath of his death, and I am surrounded by my wonderful family, who are unbelievably supportive of what I am doing, and letting me live here to do it. I am happy. Truly, Im positively giddy in love and filled with joy.

And yet – I miss my NYC life with every fiber of my being. I miss being part of that world. I miss the theatre. I miss having friends who are in shows all the time, and me being in shows or onstage or involved in some writing or directing or acting project, and all of us struggling together and supporting one another and seeing each other’s shows and acting in each other’s short films and little independent projects. I miss NY pizza, bagels, and the countless outdoor street cafes and sitting outside late at night having drinks or food and just chatting. I miss walking to everything. Public transportation. Everything being open and available at all times. I miss my total independence, and being a city girl. I miss having all my days and nights be different than the week before. I miss being invited to a random Awards show or Broadway or film premiere that a connected friend has tickets to. I miss the skyline. I miss living 5 minutes from the airport. I really, really miss my friends. My many friends who live all over NYC in all the buroughs. I miss going to Yankees games and having lunches at my best friend’s husband’s restaurant and teaching comedy and having “NYC moments” which are weird things that only happen in NY.

Most of all, I miss knowing that NYC is my second home. Now that I have officially left, and its been almost 10 months, it feels so real and so permanent. I think I am grieving the loss of those dreams, those possibilities. The reason that Don moved there in the first place – because it was where I was going to make it big. That was the plan. And then we wouldnt have to struggle anymore, and we would live happily ever after in some amazing penthouse NYC apartment. But we never got our apartment in the sky. We never got any of that. He died instead. And I had to leave our apartment. And then I had to sell his car. And then I had to move. And then move again. And I had to let go of so many things, the biggest of those things being our dreams, our future, our “next thing”, whatever that might have been. Maybe leaving NYC was the last of all those things I had to leave behind, and it hurts. It hurts like hell.

Sometimes you don’t know a thing, until you know it. And I had no way of knowing how it was humanly possible to love someone so much that you would live somewhere that you hated, for them. I had no way of knowing how the loving of one thing can co-exist with the longing for another. Now I know. I get it now. And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all those times I made my husband feel badly, simply for missing his home and his friends. Im sorry for making him feel like he was hurting me by missing them, when in reality, he had sacrificed so much of his own life and world, just to make being with me possible. There is so much I want to tell him Im sorry for, and I cant. Because he’s not here.

What I can do is take this knowledge of knowing this from both sides now, and use it in my current life. I wonder now, if my new love feels similarly to how I felt back then, all those years ago. I wonder if he feels badly when I say that I miss my NYC life, or that I miss Don. I hope that he doesnt feel like me missing that life, means that I don’t love this one. I hope that he knows that the missing of one thing, and the loving of another thing, can co-exist at the same time. I hope he knows that while I love him with all of my heart, that my heart will also always hurt for the space where my husband used to be.

I hope he knows all of this, and that he can understand it, better than I could.

Better than I did,

back when I didn’t know.

Anxiety

This new version of life.

This life that exists in the now.

The one where my husband,

is no longer my husband,

by law.

Because he is dead.

And you can’t be married

to a dead person.

By law.

You might still FEEL married,

like I did,

for almost 4 years,

after his death.

You might feel as if even looking

at another man

is cheating,

and it feels wrong

and awful,

and you feel like a terrible wife,

like I did.

You may still wear

your wedding ring,

or his.

Or maybe you move it

to your other hand.

Or have it made

into a necklace.

Which is your right.

And an honor

to do so.

Or

you lose it,

or you notice one day,

that when you look down

at your hand,

to do that thing

you always do,

where you roll your thumb

over your ring

because it’s oddly

and stupidly

comforting,

that the ring is missing.

Its not there.

Its gone.

Disappeared into thin air,

just like your husband.

And your hand is naked.

And you go numb for awhile.

And then you cry

until you cant breathe.

And you feel guilty for months.

And you feel like he just died

all over again.

And nobody understands.

And you get accused

of being over-dramatic.

You get told

to get over it.

You get told

that you aren’t

married

anymore

anyway,

because he is dead.

You get told

that losing your

wedding ring

was “a sign”

that it’s time

to “move on.”

And you want to punch

the person who said that

right in the eyeball,

and then kick them

over and over again,

until they hurt

until they bleed

until they scream

in pain,

as much as you do,

Everyday.

But you know

it wont help.

You know

they will never

get it,

until

they get it.

Until they find

themselves

running their

thumb

along the finger

where their

wedding ring

used to be.

Because their husband

is dead forever,

and the ring,

the symbol of that

great love,

one of the only things

that comforts them,

is physical proof

Evidence,

that he existed.

Because sometimes,

lots of times,

they have to

remind themselves

that their love

really

happened.

That they

didn’t

just

imagine it.

And the ring

is the perfect reminder.

Until it’s not.

Until it’s gone.

Until you find yourself,

in a corner,

looking through

your wedding albums,

peeking at

your wedding video,

hearing the sound

of his voice.

Watching him smile

and laugh,

and dance,

and then running

into the bathroom,

to throw up.

To have a meltdown.

To shake

and panic.

Anxiety.

Again.

Because your husband,

no longer smiles,

or laughs,

or dances.

Those are just video clips,

from a time,

that is gone.

And seeing that,

watching that,

up close,

is heart-wrenching.

But you miss him

SO MUCH,

that you keep watching,

sometimes,

even though,

you know,

it will bring you torture.

But

torture,

is better

than the nothingness

of him

being

forever

gone.

Six years later.

2 days ago,

in fact.

Your new love,

has gone a few hours,

without responding,

to your texts.

You were

supposed to talk,

later that night.

But he goes silent.

Hours go by.

You leave voicemails.

Text him.

You pace.

You worry.

Panic sets in.

You know the drill.

People disappear.

They die.

With no warning.

You start talking

to yourself.

All the what if’s.

Maybe he had

a heart-attack,

with no symptoms,

no warning.

Just like

your husband.

Maybe he collapsed,

and was alone,

for too long,

to be saved.

And maybe

you will have to

go through

all the guilt

and the pain

the torture

All over again.

Who would even tell you,

if he died?

You aren’t his wife.

You love him.

He loves you.

But the relationship

is new.

And not many people

in his world

know yet,

who you are,

or know your number,

to call you,

and tell you,

that your world just ended.

So you panic.

Because you

CANNOT

go through

this again.

You cannot

lose this person

already.

NO.

And so,

six years later,

you find yourself

rocking back and forth,

sitting in your dead husband’s

recliner chair,

crying,

but the silent kind of

crying,

where it just happens,

without any effort,

or sound.

And your thumb,

starts to slowly move,

out of instinct,

over and over

that finger,

where your

wedding ring,

used to be,

and hasn’t been,

for 4 years,

since it went missing.

But now,

that naked skin,

it oddly comforts you,

to stroke it,

even though

nothing

is there.

It fans the

ANXIETY

to a dull roar.

It forces you

into a rhythm,

of breathing again.

“It will be okay.

It will be okay.

Everything

will be okay.

Today.”

Later on,

the next morning,

when he finally calls you,

and tells you that

he simply fell asleep

early

the night before,

you breathe

a sigh of relief,

and feel almost

silly,

for all the panic.

But you know,

what you know,

and this is just how it is,

in your mind.

And you wonder,

how the hell,

am I going to do this,

how am I going

to lose

someone I love,

to death,

Again.

One day.

Someday.

I might have to

figure

that out.

I might have to.

But that

day

is not

Today.

Today,

I take comfort,

in the naked skin,

where my love

once

slipped

a beautiful ring

on my finger,

and we smiled,

and cried,

on that snowy night,

in the cold,

one week

before Christmas.

And we lived.

We existed.

And we loved.

We love.

And the fact

that I can love

this man

now,

today,

so much,

that I cannot bear

to picture life

without him,

is Evidence,

along with

the nakedness

of my finger,

that

Love

Grows

Love.

Right now.

Today.

In this second.

Everything

is

Going

to

Be

Okay.

Threesome

Six years after my beloved husband’s sudden death,

I finally found love again.

I am deeply, madly, passionately, in love.

It is wonderful.

It is terrifying.

It is crazy weird.

Being in love with two men.

Im not into bigamy.

Im not even into threesomes.

But really, truly ….

that’s what this is.

A threesome.

But not the kinky kind.

Not the sex kind that youre thinking of.

Its a new kind of threesome.

One that widowed people invented.

One that makes little sense to the outside world.

One that gets easily judged,

and ridiculed,

by those who don’t understand.

It’s a new kind of threesome,

And it goes something like this ….

You’re standing in your kitchen and your dad and your new love are having a conversation. You are a bystander, a witness. They are talking about cars and mechanics and other boring “guy” type things, when suddenly you are silently consumed with a feeling of terror and deep confusion, as if you dont know whats going on or where you are or who this man is that is talking with your dad. He isn’t your husband. He looks nothing like your husband. Suddenly your mind switches back to the times when your husband and your dad had similar conversations about cars and mechanics and man things, and now youre sweating and panicking because this man in your kitchen is not your husband, and your husband is still dead, forever. And somehow you are just realizing this and knowing this, for the very first time, even though you have realized that he is dead, about ten billion times before. Right now, in this moment, it feels like the first time again. You have to slow down the breathing inside yourself and just pretend that everything is normal, because telling your new love that for a second, in your mind, he turned into your dead husband in a flashback type scenario – doesn’t seem like the best idea.

Me and Don at cousin Tabatha's house on Thanksgiving, 2008

Me and Don at cousin Tabatha’s house on Thanksgiving, 2008

You are on the phone sobbing with your new love, and when he asks you what’s wrong, you say you don’t really know, and that you just got really sad for no reason. You tell your new love how much you miss your love who is dead, and in the same sentence – you also tell him that your missing of the love who is dead, takes away nothing at all from how deeply you love HIM right now, today. He says: “I know that,” and continues to comfort you. You wonder how on earth he could possibly know that, or be that amazingly empathetic, considering he is not widowed himself. You sigh deeply as you realize again how incredible this man is who lays beside you today. You tell him that even though you know it makes no sense, that you wish like hell that he and your love who is dead, could know each other and be friends. He says that he wishes he had met your dead love too, which also makes no sense logically, but makes perfect sense in your world.

You lie in your bed and cuddle with your new love, and then roll over and silently say goodnight to your dead love, whose remaining ashes sit inside a christmas tin, which has a Yankees ornament on the lid, because your husband was a huge fan and would like that. Next to the ornament, you have added the meditation rocks that your new love gave you, spread across the top of the cover. Its all blended together, and when you say goodnight to your dead husband, you smile and cry a little all at once. Life and death are merging, and the beauty of it overwhelms you.

You make a joke that your dead love would have found hilarious, and your new love doesnt really laugh. It’s okay. You know logically that they are very different people, and that their reactions to things you do and say, will be very different. You are not comparing them, but the lack of laughter from your new love, in that moment, makes you suddenly think about your dead love’s huge laugh that took over his whole body and made him shake, and you miss it.

Your new love says something or does something that your dead love used to do or say. Or he tilts his head a certain way, and reminds you of him for a second. You feel as if they are somehow connected, though you dont know how that could be possible. Something inside you knows it is true, and you decide to believe it, because it means that your dead husband knows of and approves of your new love, and he is thrilled for your joy.

Your new love kisses you or hugs you or brings you flowers, and you feel a love so intense and so like nothing you have ever felt before. You feel giddy and happy and filled with brightness. And then you feel a tinge of guilt. Not because you are happy. But because maybe you are MORE happy than you were with your dead love. Then you feel even more guilt for even thinking such a thing, and then you realize that the person you are today, has been forever changed by death – so comparing one joy to another is futile, and you need to stop. You realize that the joy you feel now is not better than any past joy – it just feels that way because it has taken so long for you to feel ANY joy at all. You realize that your dead husband brought you an insane amount of joy, and that your new love doe the same, but in HIS own unique and wonderful way. It feels new and exciting, and it feels like the first time you ever felt joy. Then you get a headache from overthinking all your damn joy.

The threesome is ongoing. It is emotional. It is a lot of adjusting.

Learning the quirks and habits and details of the new love,

while holding the quirks of the forever love in your heart.

Feeling sad and thankful and curious

and happy and melancholy,

all in the same second.

Knowing that your emotions are normal,

but feeling anything but.

Learning and growing and evolving,

using all the love you collected,

from your forever dead husband,

and blending it with all the love

you are receiving,

from your beautiful new soulmate.

Knowing that your heart

keeps expanding,

as it creates a nest

big enough for three.

java house

Hiatus (written on July 28th)

(NOTE: Im so ssorry for ignoring this blog for so long. It wasnt on purpose. I was really sick, and I couldnt write or read or do much of anything for almost 6 weeks. Im MUCH better now. The following post was written back in July when I was sick – I wrote it for the Widows Voice blog, and it should help explain why Ive been Missing in Action from my own blog. Im back, baby!!! Thanks for all your support, and as always, I welcome and LOVE all of your comments. )

So I moved back to my home state of Massachusetts at the end of last year, after 26 years in NYC, to finish writing my book, live with my parents temporarily, and get back on track financially, after 5 years of struggling pretty hard following the sudden death of my dear husband Don.

Living with mom and dad at age 45 is sobering. It feels like going backwards. Going from my active and independent social life in NYC, to small town suburbia where your parents know your every move, is just strange. The first few months here, I had no car, no job, and not much of a life. I came here to write the book, and that is what Ive been doing. But you can only write so many hours in a day, and so many days in a week. After awhile, my eyes start to hurt, I lose focus, or I’ve just had enough emotional toll for one day and cant do it anymore.

The past few months, things have started to brighten up some. I have started feeling more like an adult again. I started dating on the dating sites here, mostly so Id have something to do on weekends and have a social life. I picked up a small, part-time job working as the Social Media advisor for a local Real Estate Agent, I got myself on my parent’s car insurance so that I could have access to driving a car, and I started a local Massachusetts Soaring Spirits Regional Group, planning 2x per month social gatherings for widowed people. And then, about 6 weeks ago, from one of my many dating experiences on the dating site, I found my person. My “next great love story.” I fell in love.

And then, soon after all of that, like within 2 weeks time, I got really sick. Right as things were starting to find their rhythm, everything went into full-stop hiatus. A great big stall in my life. I went to the ER twice in one week. Once, because I was so lightheaded, I almost hit the deck while brushing my teeth. And the other time, because I woke up with the worst headache I had ever experienced in my life. Truly. Tests were done. Cat-scans. Brain scans. EKG’s. Heart stuff. Blood was drawn. And drawn. And drawn. More tests. More being sent home and not being able to move from dizziness and nausea. Being so tired that simply taking a shower made me out of breath and finished for the day. Not being able to read words on a screen, look at a TV, or hold a conversation even, because it made me so dizzy the rooom wouldn’t stop spinning.

We finally got a diagnosis. Vertigo, which Ive had before and its a nightmare, combined with a virus called CMV – a form of mononucleosis, that generally sticks around for a month or so, elevating your liver levels to the point where your urine turns a scary color, and your eyes and face turn jaundice and yellow. There is no appetite, NO energy, and no life. Every part of me felt so lifeless. I was terrified. My new love was also terrified. We JUST found each other, and now I was going to fucking die??? Yeah, this is how the mind of a widowed person thinks.

So Its now been a few weeks, and Im starting to get better. The doctor said every day, I will feel better and better, get back more energy, and slowly get back into life. My liver numbers are back at normal range, and I have more blood work Monday to make sure everything is going in the right direction. I am hopeful to be on a plane with my doctor’s blessing in a week and a half, to San Diego, to give my latest presentation at Camp Widow. The last few weeks, I couldnt write these blogs. Today, I can. It feels good to be getting pieces of me back again.

Its been very scary to be sick with something, and not know what the hell is wrong. My mind went to some pretty bad places, thinking I had horrific brain tumors or that I had a heart attack the day before the 6 year death anniversary of my husband’s death, from a massive heart attack. Oh – right. Did I mention that all this started the day before the 6 year death anniversary of my beloved Don, so I was forced to go to my BIGGEST grief trigger place, the ER, and re-live all the horrific pieces of “that day” in my mind? Yeah. That was fun. It’s been a rough few weeks.

However, when you spend a few weeks being hostage in the house, and going nowhere at all except back and forth to the hospital for more appointments or blood work or ER visits, it forces you to slow your mind and heart. I am so thankful that I am here in my home state while all this is happening, and with my parents, because they have taken such great care of me, and Massachusetts has one of the best health insurance programs for people not working like me, so Ive been able to see all the doctors and specialists and get all the proper tests done and everything that needed to be done to ensure that I wasnt going to fucking die. Im still broke as all hell, because I havent been working at all, due to being very sick, so at the moment I have probably $14 in my bank account – but at least I have health insurance. If I had gotten this sick and was still living in NYC, not sure what the hell I would have done or how I would have paid for my care.

Its also given me a chance to really sit and think about the wonder and the beauty of finding love again after loss. Its been such a long, hard road for me after losing Don, filled with heartache and false starts. But I never gave up on love. I worked hard for it, and I put myself out there again and again, even after having my heart shattered several times. And honestly, my heart STILL hurts from those shatters. It probably always will. But now, it is here. Love is here. He is here. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

My life has taken a short hiatus, but when I am sitting perfectly still, looking into his beautiful bluish-green eyes – for the first time in a long time, I can see my future. And it makes me smile.

I Didn’t Know …

After my husband died, I spent a whole lot of time grieving. And existing. And just trying to breathe. In and out. Sometimes more in than out. Sometimes hyperventilating. Sometimes forgetting that oxygen is a thing.

Make it through that hour, that minute, that day. Whole lot of time spent sitting in his car that I was left with, in the university parking lot, wondering how the hell I was going to get out, walk into that building, and teach 4 classes. Dreading all the questions from the clueless but well-meaning people. Listening to the whispers in the hallways: “That’s her. That’s the professor whose husband dropped dead.” Getting dizzy from all the tilted heads, showing their pity and their sorrys at me, as I tried to stare anywhere except directly into their eyes.

I spent a whole lot of time in grief counseling offices, trying to find someone that made some sort of sense when they talked. Someone who wouldnt just throw cliches at me, tell me it was time to “move on”, or try and “fix me” with a pile of pills and meds. I wasnt interested. I somehow knew that I needed to live and sit inside the darkness, in order to ever see some light. I knew that pain was something that would be at the nucleus of my core for awhile. I knew that I had to process every nook and cranny, dissect every corner of his death, in order to gain any peace. I don’t know how I knew these things, but I just knew.

Here’s what I didn’t know …

I didn’t know that it would take me four years to be able to even consider dating again.

I didn’t know that I would still “feel married”, and that the very idea of being with someone else, felt like I was cheating and made me sick with guilt and pain.

I didn’t know that not only would I not date or kiss or be intimate with anyone for years, but that I wouldn’t give a shit about any of it. That I would just shut it off, like a faucet, and pretend that Im a human who doesnt need another human to love her.

I didn’t know that “self-love” would be a failure over and over, because it would always result in me thinking about my husband, and that would result in me sobbing endlessly, and never being able to “finish”.

I didn’t know that my first relationship and my first time sleeping with anyone again, 5 years after my husband’s death, would be with a fellow widower, who would end up being a very sneaky and dishonest person.

I didn’t know that I would then fall in love with another widower, who knew my husband years and years ago, and that we would have a beautiful friendship that would eventually and unexplainably, dissolve into nothing.

I didnt know how awful the heartbreaks would be.

I didnt know that I would develop connections with several men, who held special places in my heart.

I didnt know that I would be brave or courageous enough to have a really great “friends with benefits” situation, that was actually quite lovely, fun, and very respectful.

I didnt know that I could be the type of woman who says: “I really want to kiss you right now”, and then does.

I didnt know that when I had my first kiss post-loss, I would literally hear my husband’s voice cheering for me: ‘YES!!! Go get some!!! Its about time!!!”

I didnt know that men ending relationships or connections with me abruptly, and with little or no explanation, would hurt me so very deeply – or that it would take me right back to my husband getting up for work one morning, and never coming home. Or that it would also take me back to being raped in my apartment, in the middle of the night, and being told by my rapist: ‘I would kill you, but you’re not worth it.” That men leaving me with no reason why, would make me feel so worthless and so filled with hurt and empty, just like I felt, sitting in a heap, clinging to the corner wall of my living room, 21 years ago.

I didn’t know that people could be so cruel. Or so beautiful. Or that you could meet and experience both, so close together.

I didn’t know that living, would be so very much harder than existing.

I didn’t know that ‘love at first sight” might actually be a real thing that could maybe happen to me.

I didn’t know it would terrify me this much, or bring up so many triggers in my heart.

About a week ago, I met someone on a dating site. After meeting a lot of other someone’s on a dating site. And after endless heartbreak and broken promises and casual abandonment of my heart. This man appeared. I made the first move and messaged him. I saw something deeper in his tough guy profile picture. His eyes looked sad and lovely and full of life and death. He looked like he knew pain. The thought in my head was “I need to know this person.”

Since then, we have been talking endlessly, every day. The talking never feels like enough. We always want more talking, more time with each other, more discovering of each other. We meet Sunday. It feels like something that is different than all the other things. It feels very real. It feels like that ‘L’ word thing, that I cant seem to say out loud or even in type.

Im so happy.

Im so terrified.

Grief Terrors.

The very real joy, followed by the very real thought, that this will all go away. That it will all disappear. That he will change his mind and realize he isnt really into me after all, or he will fall back in love with some ex, like all the others have. Or that he will just stop contacting me, and never tell me why. Or, the big one – the all-consuming fear – that he will die. That I will fall in love with him, and then wake up one morning on a perfectly ordinary Wednesday, and he will already be dead. And then I will have to figure out all over again, how to go from existing, to living, and figure out if I really even want to.

I am terrified. The grief terrors follow me everywhere.

But I can’t let them win.

I won’t let them win.

I will fight them with my heart.

I will fight for my joy.

I will fight for my time at the “L” word.

Because love is King.

Love is everything.

And if it all falls apart,

well at least I had it for awhile.

I won’t turn my back on Love.

Not when it finally showed up for me again.

Not when this feels so good, so right, so real.

I don’t want to be in the dark,

when it comes to Love.

I don’t want to turn away out of fear,

not letting it in,

and being left with the emptiness of never feeling it.

I never want to say of Love,

that I didn’t know.

So,

Grief Terrors.

Night Sweats.

Panic Attacks.

Heart palpitations.

Bring it on.

It means Im living again,

and Im so ready.

UPDATE: We met yesterday. It was incredible. It was beautiful. It was everything.
And it’s about damn time.

Dear Dead Husband,

Dear Dead Husband,

It will be 6 years next month, since you died.

So, I think that’s more than enough time to conclude the following:

This widow thing?

This “you being dead” thing?

This “not what I signed up for” thing?

Yeah.

Not a fan.

I’ve decided I don’t care for this.

I will, of course, keep trodding along,

keep finding new meaning in life,

keep helping others,

helping myself,

blah blah blah,

all that shit,

because what choice do I have?

I would never end things.

It is not in me.

Even when I really want to.

Even when Im just so tired of trying,

that I feel like I cant function.

I wouldnt end things.

I would not cause that pain,

to those who love me.

And I would not give up on life,

knowing,

that you would give ANYTHING,

just to still be here.

To be able to live your life,

with me.

So I wont do that.

But I just wanted you to know,

that this shit sucks,

and that even though the raw, horrific parts of grief,

have mostly subsided,

NOW,

now is, in some ways,

even harder.

Because now I am living.

I am living again,

instead of just existing,

instead of just grieving,

instead of just trying to get through the day.

Living,

thats the hard stuff.

Searching for love.

The kind of love that I KNOW,

you want for me.

The kind of love that I deserve.

The kind of love that you would give me,

if you were allowed to still live.

You want that for me.

And I want that for me.

And thats how I know its out there.

I just wish it would make itself clear.

Ive been looking.

Ive been dating.

And dating,

and dating,

and dating.

Ive been dumped.

Hurt.

Betrayed.

Left.

Abandoned.

Cheated on.

Given the “you are beautiful and funny and amazing, but ….” speech.

Or the “You deserve love more than anyone I know. It just cant be with me” speech.

Or the all-time favorite “disappearing act”,

where they just exit my life with no explanation,

no reason,

no conversation about it.

Just, Gone.

I haven’t found anyone,

that sees my worth,

the way you did.

The way I now do,

because of you.

So,

this shit sucks.

And its not just the dating.

Its the living.

Doing life without you.

Its hard.

Very, very hard.

There are so many things,

I want to tell you.

Everyday.

I suppose that will never stop.

I just wish things were easier.

I wish I wasn’t struggling.

I wish money was a thing I had.

I wish I could stop stressing about finances.

I wish I felt more secure.

I wish I could afford to travel more.

To experience new places, new ways.

I wish I didnt always feel stuck.

I wish I knew what path to take.

I wish I had a clue.

Im writing my book about you.

About us.

About your life and death,

and my life now.

And I feel like I dont know how to end it.

How do you end something like that?

I dont know.

There is no ending.

No big life lesson to learn.

I was hoping,

that by now,

six years later,

that the ending would become clear to me.

That I would have found new love,

or some big revelation to it all.

But no.

What I have found,

is this:

The end, is the same,

as the beginning.

You are still dead.

Forever.

And this shit sucks,

forever.

The End.