Hi, everyone. First of all, thank you to Sarah and Mike for the warm welcome. I know that your words have been so meaningful and helpful to so many people.
I am so honored to have the opportunity to be a part of Widow’s Voice. There are so many reasons why this means so much to me. Speaking or writing your story can be healing and powerful. However, I truly believe that hearing other people’s stories saved my life. I am so grateful to every widow who has shared their story, whether in a book, a blog, on a stage or in the middle of the night in a text message. Those “me too” moments are still the balm I need for my broken heart.
The other reason why writing for this blog is meaningful to me is that I sometimes still feel as if I am not actually a widow because I was never legally married to my person. I have never met a widow who told me otherwise, in fact, everyone has reassured me repeatedly that I belong to this shitty club (unfortunately). But, seriously, I am grateful to everyone who recognizes my loss in this way, even as weird as it sounds to want to be called a widow. In fact, the first time I felt reassured in my identity as a widow was in spring 2019 when I attended Camp Widow, less than a year after my person died.
I thought it would make sense to introduce myself and my love story as my first blog post. So, here we go. I am a 29-year-old (for only 8 more days!) living just outside of Atlanta, GA. I am in the second year of a Ph.D. program and I currently work as a research assistant. I love watching movies, going for walks, and hanging out with my cat (that you will most definitely read about in future posts). I am close with my family and this past summer I moved in with my parents (and I am sure you will also be reading about this in future posts…).
So, now it is time for a love story, although you already know it does not have end happily ever after. I am going to fast-forward some parts for brevity because there is plenty of time in the future for stories and details.
[Note: This story contains mention of suicide loss]
I technically met Boris in 1st grade but he swore he didn’t remember me. So our story really began in 9th-grade literature. He was goofy and outgoing and honestly, I thought he was obnoxious! Over time, our friend circles overlapped and we became friends. His flirtatiousness and jokes became endearing pretty quickly. Our first kiss (and my first kiss ever) was at the beach. I can still feel those butterflies.
After high school, we both moved to Atlanta for college (we grew up outside of Savannah, GA). In college, our relationship was a bit rocky and we broke up very briefly a few times. Our longest breakup happened just as I was beginning my Master’s program. It lasted for about 5 months. After that, things felt stronger. We were trying to figure out who we were as adults while figuring out who we were as a couple. In 2016, I started my first full-time job. I had a salary, health insurance, and a business card! My “adult” life seemed to be starting. Boris was still in graduate school and he was struggling with his next steps. We talked about marriage, but he wanted to wait until after he graduated and was more settled in his path. At that time, I felt there was no rush–we had our whole lives ahead of us.
Our entire relationship was filled with conflict and growing pains, but I was never unsure of our love or our commitment. Then, there was a turning point and a realization (on my part) that a huge piece of the puzzle had been missing. One afternoon in June 2017, we had a huge argument. The argument ended as I learned that Boris was suffering immensely with his mental health. In hindsight, it is clear that this struggle was not new. At the time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I still remember the nauseating feeling that came over me as I heard him tell me that he did not want to be alive. Between June and December of 2017, he was hospitalized three times for suicidal ideation. For several months our life was filled with psychiatrist appointments, therapy, support groups, couples counseling, and medication changes. I am so proud of all of the hard work Boris put into his mental health and into our relationship. Those months were so hard, but I felt so much more connected and closer to him.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened on April 7, 2018. That night, Boris took his own life. There’s so much more to say, and I will say it in future posts, but that moment in time is permanently etched in my brain and in my heart. My best friend, the only romantic love I had ever known was dead. And, that still does not feel real. Our story was not finished.
The fact that Boris died by suicide will forever carry immense weight and importance in his story and in my story. It is not something that I can forget or that should be ignored. But, the way that he lived and the way that he loved other people is far more important. His infectious laugh, the way he played piano, and the fact that if there was a bug inside he would catch it and safely put it outside…those are the things that matter the most. I can’t wait for you to hear more about the way that he lived.
I know that suicide is a very unique loss and it can be overwhelming and upsetting to read or hear about. Many of you have likely experienced suicide loss, so it can also be triggering to personal trauma and experience. I will always use a tag or include a note at the beginning of my posts to indicate that there are references to suicide. I know it is important to take care of yourself by skipping those posts if you need to.
Again, thank you for this opportunity and for taking the time to read my first post. I hope that my story can resonate with some of you and the “me too” moments along the way are healing.