What is Camp Widow anyway?
Camp Widow is an event started by our first-born daughter in response to her beloved husband, Phillip, being taken away by death much too soon. Camp Widow is a generous effort by one widow to honor and acknowledge the pain of all widows and widowers by offering them a place to process their grief together.
As a member of the Neff Family, I attended many Camp Widows as a volunteer. At the first camp, our entire family was Michele’s volunteer team. As her team of widows grew she had strong support and we were slated each year to help with the Widow’s Dash 5K which was held on Sunday. Michele reminded me that I might be the only widow at this camp who will miss having my husband with me at Camp Widow since we always volunteered together.
It is still hard to believe that the guy on the left, in the photo below, died before age 40. Phillip Hernandez: the reason Camp Widow exists. To us he was Superman, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. When we got the call, from a close friend of Michele’s, we could not believe he was gone.
In the first year after Phillip’s death, Michele interviewed widows locally and all across the United States. She was intent on writing the book she could not find for herself and she believed that widows held the wisdom she was seeking.
When Michele Hernandez and Michelle Dippel found each other, she knew she was right.
Turns out that widows are good medicine for other widows.
Here are Michele’s own words telling about Michele and Michelle, aka, Sassy and Spicey.
Meet Sassy and Spicy. Also known as Michele and Michelle, and to some of you as the original “Widow Match.” We are pictured here at Michelle’s home in Texas celebrating the life of her husband, Daniel, who died in November of 2005 of laryngeal cancer.
Our husbands died two months apart, we are the same age, we share a wicked sense of humor, and we are both single moms to wonderful kids. A perfect match, thank you God. -Michele Neff Hernandez
Michele and Michelle—the first Soaring Spirits Pen Pals!
This year is my first year to attend as a widow.
After watching the widows, year after year, find such joy in meeting one another, I am really looking forward to attending this, my first year attending Camp Widow as a widow. I trust that I will be gifted with some measure of comfort, inspiration and courage to continue living the life Dan and I created together.
I’ll let you know how it goes when I return here next week.