Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto – pt 6 – Home is Where the Heart Is

Sunday morning at Camp Widow involves a buffet breakfast, packing up and saying goodbye.

While chatting with various people, part of my focus was on making sure I didn’t have to pay for the cab myself… it was ridiculously priced.  They had a board that was set up for people to share a cab, and I connected with Miri from Vancouver.   Sadly we weren’t on the same flight, and we weren’t even in the same terminal so there was no waiting together.

Then we connected with Debbie.  Fantastic woman.  Love her and her resiliance.  She had already pre-ordered a cab to take her back to the airport and agreed to let us join in with her.    So instead of a $65 cab ride it was $25 each or so.

Michele made another very lovely speech.   During the speech she announced that there would be a delay because the road was closed and we needed to make sure we got to the airport on time.   I talked to Miri and Debbie and we all agreed to leave at 11 so we could all make our flights.  I had the longest wait – their flights were sooner than mine.

I made the rounds, getting pictures with people.   I didn’t get as many pictures this year.  I don’t know why.

Ann-Marie & Me Kelley & Me Michele & Me Sarah & Me Stacey & Me Taryn & Me

I had volunteerd to help take down things after breakfast.  With the road closures, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t leaving anyone stuck – so I checked with Diane.    Things were ok.  There wasn’t much left to pack up so I felt ok about being able to leave.

I went back to the Camp Store… bought a couple hoodies (one for me, one for Mom) and then it was time to get ready to go.

Connie and I headed up to the room to do final packing and be ready to go.   I packed up my stuff, and headed back to the lobby.

Usually, when I leave a hotel room, I do a sweep – under beds, in the bathroom etc.   But because Angel & Judy were staying another night, I didn’t think to do it.

I left my angel cards behind 😦

I was meeting Debbie & Miri in the lobby for 11 so that’s where I planted myself.   Connie wanted to run down one last time and say goodbye.

Last year, I missed out on saying goodbye to Carrie – this year, I missed saying goodbye to Connie.

I choose to believe it’s because they’re meant to be in my life and that I’ll see them again.

The ride to the airport was an awesome one for getting to know each other.  I sat in the front, Debbie & Miri in the back.  We were actually in a limo type car, not a cab.  It was quite luxurious 😀

We got to the airport, and started looking for our gates.

Miri was the first to go – hugs all around and she headed off.

Debbie and I had longer to wait, I figured we could wait together and chatter and get to know each other, but it turned out that my flight was out of terminal 2 – which was a trainride away.

I bought us coffee – she’d never had Tim Horton’s coffee before – and she looked up and saw that it was the Tim Horton’s 50th Anniversary.  Another sign from her husband and son.   She was so tickled about it.

Timmies for Two

We had to go our seperate ways.  She was leaving later but I had further to go.   We hugged, and said our goodbyes and then it was off to terminal 2 for me.

The wait and the plane ride were uneventful.  I managed to get to where I needed to go almost exactly when I needed to get there.  Had I left the hotel any later, I might have missed my plane.

My Kathy was waiting for me at the airport.   I was heading to her house for the night – getting some Kathy time in.

I offered to drive – she doesn’t like driving in the city much.

For the first time in… ever… I managed to get turned around.  Seriously.  Everything is marked.  All the signs are there.  I still managed to go the wrong way.

We hooked up the GPS, and it took us right past Vancouver General Hospital – where Mark died.

Same time of day.  Same car.  Same route.  After Camp Widow.  And I go past VGH.   Made me smile, this time.   No tears.  Just a hello to Mark and the memories.

We got to Kathy’s house and had dinner.  I miss her so much.  I miss my friend and the connection we have.

As a bonus, Michelle showed up!   She was supposed to be at derby but she ended up showing up at Kathy’s so I got a bit of a visit with her as well.

Morning took me back to Quesnel and back to my home and family.

One thing I noticed…. things changed.  Or I did.  But everything felt different and I expected it to all look different… but of course after all of 5 days, it didn’t.  It was just me.  Camp Widow does that to you.   Changes things inside you so that you see the world differently.

I miss my Camp Widow peeps.   I miss the ability to just “be” and not worry about who I might upset or make uncomfortable with my feelings.

I’m grateful to have had the Camp Widow experience.

I’m hoping to go next year.  There’s Camp in Tampa in February, San Diego in July and Toronto again in September.   Financially – it doesn’t make sense for me to go.   But emotionally – I know I need to.

Home is where the heart is.  But Camp is what keeps me sane.  Camp lets me feel normal again.

Well Loved 2014

Adventures of Camp Widow Toronto – pt 5 – the Gala Dinner

One of the most amazing things about Camp Widow is the Gala Dinner.  The sit down, high class dinner that is designed SOLEY to get us all dressed up, fancy-like, and show us that it is STILL OK TO HAVE FUN.

We all get dressed up to the 9’s (and 10’s and some of us just drop dead gorgeous no matter what we’re wearing). And head down for drinks and mingling before dinner.

Dressed up  Connie & I

There was an awesome photobooth where we got to put on some props and get our pictures taken .

Sugar Mamma

We’d pre-ordered our dinner so there was no worries or surprises about what to order or what we’re going to eat.   As per usual, I’d forgotten what I’d ordered until we actually got there.

There was a bottle of wine at the table for the guests to share.  My table-mates didn’t drink wine – so I asked the server to fill up their glasses with red and, well, I got 4 glasses for the price of one 😉  worked well for me 🙂

My chicken dinner was superb.   My friend sitting beside me didn’t finish hers so I got to taste the amazing steak dinner as well.

During the cocktails, we had the option of putting our loved one down on a piece of paper with whatever anniversary/celebration to be honoured at dinner.

I put Mark on there, for 27 months since he’d died.

In terms of life experience, it seems so very long.  In terms of thinking about it… OMG it’s been so short of a time.  Only 27 months since he took his last breath.  Only 27 months since I stopped being his wife and became his widow.  Only 27 months…  I am barely a toddler in the journey of widowhood.   At the same time I am like one of those starving kids in Africa who had to grow up and learn too fast.   A toddler who is wise beyond her years.   But a toddler none the less.

When they called Mark’s name, I went up for a hug and to get the heart they were giving out in memory.

Memorial Heart Heart

It amazed me – when I took a picture of the heart, the lights that shone in it.  The bits of life showing that yes, this had meaning.

Dinner was over fairly quickly and then the dancing began.

Dancing at the Gala

I’m not big on dancing.  I don’t like how I jiggle, I don’t like how things wiggle, it’s not a comfortable feeling to have your belly slap your thighs when you move too enthusiastically.   I used to like dancing.  And maybe I will again eventually.  If you look closely, you can see me somewhere in the middle sitting sorta behind Connie.

So I sat at the table, chatting, I flitted from table to table being a social butterfly, and eventually landed back at my table with Connie.

It’s not my story to tell, but Connie wasn’t having the greatest of nights.   I was given the opportunity to be there, to be present, to be someone to lean on, literally and figuratively.   I was given the opportunity to be a friend,   I was given the opportunity to get closer, to cement a friendship that had blossomed a bit over breakfast.

Connie and I talked.  Rather, Connie talked and I listened.

We were hiding in a little alcove for a while, her letting out what needed to come out.  Me, just being there for you.

We decided not to do the message release.  We had done a mini-release the night before, and we were both feeling that was sufficient and heading back to the room for quiet time and contemplation would be a better option.

We hugged people, said our goodnights, and watched as everyone else headed out to do the message release.

It was beautiful, from what I was told and saw in the pictures.

Message Release

Connie and I went back to the room – got out of our pretty clothes – and sat down on our beds for some decompressing.

We both had some minor regrets about not going to the message release… but I think overall, we were where we were supposed to be.   There were some things she needed to get out and I needed to be needed, I think.

The gala night was incredible.  The people I got to hang out with are incredible.   And for a while… we got to just *be* and have fun.

Hard to believe it was almost over… that in less than 24 hours I’d be back in Vancouver…

The Man Who Changed My Journey

Widowhood is a club that no one wants to belong to.    You’re welcomed with open arms and love and compassion, but we’d rather you didn’t join us. 

I didn’t want to be a part of this club.  I didn’t want to be a widow.   It’s romanticized in movies and they tie everything up into a neat little package at the end of the movie where everyone is happy and grief is overcome, and life is grand. 

That’s so much bullshit. 

Real widowhood is full of pain and grief and loneliness.   Real widowhood is having your world rocked to the core.  Real widowhood is having the ground under you (so solid one moment) disappear.   Real widowhood is feeling like you are completely alone. 

And then, I met someone. I posted on one of the websites I found… that I was hurting and sad and in pain.   

This man reached out to me. 

He talked to me.  We talked.  We emailed.  We texted.  We became friends. 

He sent me flowers on Valentines Day.    

And then he did something incredible for me – he made sure I could go to Camp Widow

camp widow

He found his second chapter.   They got married this past summer.. and I am SO happy for both of them.  I love them both dearly.  They are amazing awesome wonderful people who are incredibly suited to each other. 

My life has been incredibly busy the past 6 months since Camp Widow.   I went on a road trip, packed my house up, moved, helped my boyfriend get his kids back.   Everything has been incredibly focussed on *my* life. 

I haven’t been as good a friend as I would have liked to be these past 6 months.   So I just wanted to say… publicly, how much I love and appreciate you Cory. 

By being there for me at the beginning of this year… helping me get to Camp Widow… you changed my journey through widowhood and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without your support. 

You and Beth are incredible together.   I love watching your life unfold on Facebook… it brings joy and love to my heart.   

Thank you, for being a part of my journey.  

Friends Bacon Bits

Breaking Through

I was handed an arrow.  An honest to gawd, wooden arrow with a metal tip and a notch in the end to connect it with the bow.

I was told to place the metal tip against the softest part of your throat, place the other end against the wall, and walk forward.

I did… and I took a step forward.

The arrow shattered.

If there’s nothing else I’ve taken from this weekend at Camp Widow West 2013 – it’s that moment after the arrow broke and I realized I could do anything.

We had spent time meditating, visualizing, and finally, we broke an arrow. Courage

Knowing that I can change anything… knowing that the pain will be temporary… making that shift from the pain to focussing on what I want… That was priceless.

And to think, I almost ditched that workshop in favour of the pool.

The workshop was so worth it.  I cried… in ways that were not so much debilitating grief, but more a release of the emotions and allowing the joy and the love to bubble up from the depths of where they were hiding.

In making that shift… I was able to see that there’s nothing I can’t do.