Today I just want to take a moment to acknowledge my Dad’s First Heavenly Birthday. He passed on April 29th and I shared his Service and legacy in a previous post. Quint was one of his biggest fans. He is truly missed by so many, especially my mom who finds herself widowed in her mid-90s. We celebrate so many good memories.
Camp Widow has come and gone.
I’d spent so much time and energy preparing for attending and presenting at Camp Widow, so it was somewhat of a relief to return home and to have had such a successful, yet somewhat overwhelming experience in San Diego. All of my frenetic activity, added emotions of others, extreme conference room A/C and plane air, however, took their toll and I’ve been resting since I returned. Feeling much better now.
Imagine flying to a conference to meet nearly 500 attendees and presenters, most who’ve been widowed, and you haven’t met even one of them; all of us united by the single fact that we’d lost our “Special Person (s)”, as in some cases some individuals are “Double Widowed” as they call themselves.
At Camp Widow there are no camp fires, just welcoming fire pits near the pool. There are no Rice Krispie Treat bars, just bars pouring adult beverages, and there are no tents, just beautiful rooms at the Marriott Marquis. Camp Widow is to Widows what Comic Con is to comic character clones and Super Heroes, in fact Comic Con is taking place now at the same location in San Diego as I write. It’s all about finding your tribe.
When I arrived to register last Thursday, I received an ID tag on a yellow lanyard denoting I was a First Time Camper. In addition there were ribbon strips that were added to our tags indicating how long we’d been widowed and if we were attending as a Presenter, Ambassador or Volunteer. In my case I chose the 18-Month ribbon and a green one indicating I was a Presenter. I was surprised by the comments I received giving me credit for being so newly into my Widow’s Journey and having started to blog and present so soon. I considered an honor and a milestone that I was given that special opportunity as a “Newbee”.
I met so many people from all walks of life; all brought to this place to share their stories and to be among those who understood. Each of their stories is unique, and everyone handles their circumstances as needed; whether they’ve experienced their loss six months, or even 10, 20 or more years ago. We have a lot to learn from each other.
Days were filled with an offering of workshops led by some stellar presenters on topics of all kinds. It was difficult to choose and by the end of the day it was good to sit by the pool or take naps in our hotel rooms, or even meet at the poolside bar. Wherever you saw a lanyard with a Camp Widow Logo you knew you had a comrade with whom to chat.
And then there were the Therapy Dogs that hung with us on Saturday and Sunday. I will be writing more on that in a subsequent post. Their presence made me miss my little Quint a little less.
At the end of the first “Work Day” I took a walk with some new friends to Seaport Village, and snapped a photo of the place where I fetched my dog Quint in December 2021.
It had all came Full Circle. Earlier I’d discussed my latest Work-in-Progress with my Workshop attendees; a book inspired by how Quint came in to my life after the death of Rich.
There is so much to cover, and so many aspects presented at that conference. I will discuss my own workshop, some other sessions that I was able to attend, and some inspiring moments of the conference in future Posts.
Post Camp Cope: Reach out to one of the people, or presenters, you met and check on how they are handling “Camp Crash” or just to day “hi”. Didn’t get to camp? Make a plan to attend next time in San Diego, Tampa, Toronto or Australia or look into an on-line Regional Event. Not widowed, share this Post with a friend who is.