The “Perfect” Widow

WTF does that even mean?

Seriously?

I was accused of trying to be the “perfect” widow – go to all the widow camps, connect with all the widowed people, have all the widowed friends, blog about what it’s like to be a widow, hold on tight to the memory and love of a dead guy…. ?

I *have not* dealt with the death of my husband.  Not in any *meaningful* way.

I have adjusted to the pain and the grief.  I have found joy again.  I have lost that joy.  It still sits there, the pain and grief, snuggled up just behind my heart, waiting for a moment I least expect it to claw it’s way to the surface again.

I am living a full, rich life.  I am living it alone, but it’s me and my boys against the world.

So WTF?  What does it mean to be a “perfect” widow?

I’m not perfect at anything.  I wasn’t a perfect wife.  I wasn’t a perfect girlfriend.  I am not a perfect mother.  I fail to be perfect at as a sister, a daughter, a friend, an employee, a co-worker or a human being in general.

I am not perfect.

I am just me. 

I myself, am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” – Augusten Burroughs

I am just me.  I am broken.  But I am healing.

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And I will not deny a part of me, a life that was forced upon me, an event that irrevokably changed me.

I am a mother, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am an employee.  And I am a widow.

It is a badge I wear with pride.  I loved someone until his last breath.  And that, my widowed, non-widowed, about to become widowed friends… is a magical fairy tale they said did not exist… I loved him as long as he lived. 

And I will love him as long as *I* live. 

Mar & Jane Wedding

 

Took It Off Again

When my ex-boyfriend and I were trying to work things out, I took off my ash pendant.

For a while… I forgot that I had taken it off. It didn’t cross my mind that I had taken it off.

And then a couple days ago, I found it on my end table.  I wanted to put it away but was in the middle of something else, so I just put it on again.   I forgot about it… wearing jewelry just becomes part of my skin.  If I wear it long enough I feel naked without it on.  If I take it off…after a while I don’t notice its absence.  (ask me about my wedding rings – i haven’t noticed that my fingers are bear in months)

So I put the ash pendant on.

And it bugged me.

It’s heavy.  I don’t know how I didn’t notice that before. It’s REALLY heavy.

And it sits right in my cleavage.  Right where my heart is, right between my boobs. So as I move around it bounces against my boobs.

And… it wasn’t comfortable.   I love it.  It’s beautiful.  It’s a lovely reminder of my dead husband.

But it didn’t *feel* right being on my body again.

I wear him in my skin.  I wear him in my heart. He is forever a part of me.

Maybe, just maybe, I am coming to that place of accpetance and moving on?  Almost fully at the “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened state of mind” that would be so lovely?

Peace

I’d like to think that I’m coming to a place of peace.   To a place of… yes, I am a widow.  Yes, it’s part of what defines me much as being a mom did, being a wife did, being a student does.  It defines me, shapes the way I look at the world, but it is no longer my WHOLE world.

It is a big part of it.  Until I get married again, I’ll still check “widow” on the box, even if I have to write the box in because someone didnt’ think to put it there. Because it is so very much a part of who I am.

But it is no longer the focus of my entire world.

I miss him with every breath.  I wish with ever fibre of my being that we could have had the life we planned.   I think though, that I’m coming to a place of acceptance of what is.   Of the change in our relationship, in the change in my life, in the story I am writing for my own life.

Would You Change?

For my widda peeps. If you could… would you change the outcome? Looking at your life now, would you change what happened, alter your life as it is to have your late spouse back? Or would you leave your life as it is? I know we all miss our spouse… and for many, it’s the first year, first couple years… but especially for those who are further out… would you change it? Would you give up what you have now to have what you lost?

(These are the questions I’m pondering lately)

This is the question I posed to all my widow friends yesterday in a facebook status, and in a private group. 

The answers ranged from HELL YES!  to NO!

Most ranged somewhere in the middle.

What I found interesting was… the widows/widowers who are in a new relationship, the ones who have found their 2nd Chapter… they all said no, they wouldn’t.   But most of the singles?  Most of the ones who were still fairly connected to their deceased spouse?  They would in a heartbeat.

One gentleman, I don’t know what his situation is.   But he was one of the hell yes! people.   I assume he’s not re-coupled.

For myself?  When I was with my man who was my 2nd Chapter, the answer was no.   Before?  It was a hell yes!   Now?  I’m on the fence.

But what about you dear reader?  Would you change your life as it is NOW to get back what you HAD if you had the choice?

Tucked In MY Heart

Hope Matters

Apparently today is #givingtuesday.

I don’t know exactly what that means, beyond we give to something that is important to us.

What I do know… is that Hope Matters, and without Soaring Spirits… I wouldn’t have had the hope I do for my future.

Soaring Spirits is changing the face of the widow.

Soaring Spirits Andrew Soaring Spirits Luke Soaring Spirits ME

Soaring Spirits and Camp Widow gave me hope.

Memories

I had said in a blog a while back that I lost the keeper of my memories. Mark had better recall than I and whenever I’d go through various pictures, I’d have him tell me who what when where… but the recall rarely was triggered independently of him.

Until this weekend.

Driving around with Marja in Terrace, the memories kept popping up.

The place we used to go fishing.

The time the bear chased us across the Shames.

The place Kyle fell in the river.

The church.

The house we lived in.

The awesome farmer’s market we lived next to.

The house she lives in that we spent a lot of time at.

Her old house where I learned how to make garlic butter.

Euchre.  Gawd I loved playing euchre with them.

Ferry Island with the faces in the trees.

Hikng Terrace Mountain.

Where Video Update/Movie Gallery used to be.

Where the quilt shop was (it’s moved just down the road).

The mall.

The fishing store we spent so much time at.

The restaurant we ate frog legs at.

The cafe we had a date night at every week – I don’t remember what we were doing but we got a couple hours together every week and played triominoes.   No kids.  No worries. Just him and I.   I was pregnant with Andrew.

It was painful.  It was joyful.  It was so very lovely to immerse myself in memories, to just enjoy the feeling of the beginning of *us* and remember it with a smile.

The weather was perfect.

Sunshine-y.  Hot.  Everything that we loved about Terrace.   It wasn’t supposed to be – there was supposed to be rain.  But he was going back to the Shames…and we never went there on a grey rainy day.  Knowing that he was there with me on so many levels… being able to just enjoy Marja’s company…

I wish, I regret not going back before now.  But it is what it is and it was so very right being there this past weekend.

We had a good life there… even with all the first years learning each other and learning to live with each other, it was a good life there.

Good memories.  Good times.  And I’ve reconnected with people who were once very important to me.   And I won’t lose contact again.

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Singing Love Songs

I like karaoke.   I like to get up and sing, I like the comraderie of the people who sing and enjoy singing regardless of talen.

I like to sing.

I’m pretty good at it, too.

And I have a few go-to songs I sing at karaoke.

One is “The Rose” by Bette Midler.

It’s a freaking love song.

One I sang to my husband.  For my husband.  Reminded me of him.

Tonight I’m at karaoke.  Did I mention I like karaoke? And I sing The Rose.

Suddenly… I’ have interspersed over each other in my mind… Mark AND Mike.

My mind flashes to Mark’s face.  Then to Mike’s.  Then to Mark’s.  Then to Mike’s.

It was weird.

Who am I singing the love songs to now?

Both of them, I suppose.  I’m singing to the love I shared with Mark, my past and the love I always WILL share with him…and I’m singing to the love I share with Mike and the future and the love I always WILL share with him.

I love love love them both… forever.

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It’s A Warrior Thing

I really shouldn’t read other people’s blogs before I’ve had coffee or gone pee.

There’s this woman, Michelle Pammenter Young, who’s story I’ve been following.

Short version:  she got Inflammatory Breast Cancer (survival rate of  34% at 5 years) and kicked it in the balls.  She has been living life large and planning a future with her kids and husband.

She wrote a book about it.

She started a blog.

She went back to work.

She was changing her world and inspiring others (me included) with her drive, perseverance and positive attitude.

And then this morning, I’m perusing Facebook and see a post from her… a blog.

I had been watching for her posts -she had mentioned a blinding headache in one of them.

This isn’t the kind of post you want to read before you’ve had your first coffee or before your eyes are even properly awake.

It’s the kind of post that kicks you in the stomach, leaves you breathless and makes you wonder at the injustice of the universe.

I’ll let you read her blog. 

Have some tissues ready.    I’m kinda in shock right now.

If you could send her some love, positive support, good vibes, prayers, whatever it is that you believe in to her…

I was cheering for her when she was fighting breast cancer.  And I’m still cheering her on that she’ll kick this one too.    I don’t want to see her husband join our ranks… this is a club no one wants to join and we’d prefer not to welcome new members to.

The Year I Died

Finding the Balance

Trying to find the balance between devastating, soul-wrenching grief and the joy and love of a new relationship is a balance that I never thought I would have to find.

I miss Mark.

I miss him in ways that tear me apart.

I still have moments where I feel like this is surreal.  Like any moment someone is going to tell me that nope – this was all a bad dream, that he’s actually coming home.

Those moments are so heart wrenching, so soul tearing they leave me breathless and shaken.

And then… I look at my life.   The man who is my second chapter.   The children who I’m coming to love as my own.

I can’t imagine giving them up.   I can’t imagine life without them.   It would *devastate* me to lose them.

I don’t want to spend my life without them.

I look at Mike and my heart is filled with joy and love and happiness.

It’s a bit of a split personality.

But each day, I’m grateful for what I had, sad and missing what I had but so incredibly happy with what I have.

It’s a balance.

Chubb Lake April 2013

 

Mark & Jane Christmas 2009

Overriding Memories

When my husband I got together – it wasn’t under the most ethical of circumstances.

He was my boss.

He was in a common-law relationship of 13 years.

I was… enjoying life and male companionship.

And then one day – I wandered into the store slightly inebriated and said to him (we’d been working together a long time at that point)  “Yanno what your problem is?  You need someone to rock your world.  When you’re ready to have your world rocked… you give me a call.”

He called me the next morning.   I went over to his house and… well…

About a 6 months later, we’re living together, and the sheets we had first had sex on (that he had shared with his ex) were still being used on our bed.

He wanted to get rid of them and I objected.  His reason?  They were the ones he and she had shared.   My reason? They were the start of our life together.

On January 19, 2012, he ended up in the hospital.  It was the beginning of the end.    It’s a day that is forever etched into my brain.

On January 19, 2014, I get to override the memory of what that date means.  Instead of the date he went into the hospital, I will see it as the day I passed my skills test.  The day I became a full fledged benchmarked skater.

It seems serendipitous that we’re retesting that day.  Seems like it’s meant to be.

Little signs… that he’s still with me, watching over me…. ❤

Mark in Fruitvale

Reflecting on 2013

2013 has by far been the most… unsettled I’ve experienced. 

I was dating someone. 

We broke up. 

I stepped away from derby as a skater for the season.

I had several first dates. 

I met someone from my past. 

I was the head NSO for my league. 

I did a lot of travelling back and forth between Squamish and Quesnel.

I found out I was going to be a Grandma. 

I went to San Diego for Camp Widow. 

I went to Edmonton to surprise my oldest. 

I quit my job. 

I packed my house and moved to Quesnel. 

I moved in with someone.

I started up a Regional group for Soaring Spirits

I started a new job. 

I became a full time step-mom to 3 more boys. 

I bought a truck.  (Ok, I didn’t buy one… WE bought one)

I went through my 2nd Christmas without Mark. 

I went through my first Christmas with Mike. 

So many blessings, so many amazing things, so many changes. 

I love my life.  I love where I am and who I’m with and how my life is going. 

I love the opportunities that are presenting themselves. 

I love the man who has become my Chapter 2.   I love his boys, I love our life and where it’s heading. 

2013 was the year of change for me.   

I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings. 

Happy New Year…. and many blessings to you and yours. 

2014 New Years