This is the first blog I ever wrote for Widow’s Voice. I wrote this on December 11, 2017. A lot of time has past since I first wrote these words but what remains true is that I am still asking questions.
Life after the death of the person you love demands that you ask yourself BIG questions. Ironically, the questions are often about life and living. I have asked myself over and over again, Who am I now that Mike has died? Maybe part of the answer lies in Who I was before I met him. Who I was before he died. I think a lot about Who I was when I was Mike’s fiancee. And, I ask myself again and again, Who I want to be now that I am his Widow.
Admittedly, these are questions to which I don’t have the answers; but, I’m working on it. These questions challenge me and scare me because of their enormity and because I feel the potential here. I still have choices in my changed life. I have the opportunity to re-create myself, and you do too. I know how overwhelming this is; but I believe that if we allow ourselves to be off kilter we will find ourselves in the process.
In the last year, I have spent a fair bit of time on my knees scrounging for direction and answers. I have spent many a night on the floor crying, begging Mike to come back. I’ve dance under the stars with my dead fiance; desperately wanting his touch, longing for the days when his arms were wrapped around my life. Many times, I have wandered through the day completely absent with thoughts of him endlessly ruminating in my mind. Grief is gutting. I know how hard it is for you to live with the relentless heaviness and ache in your chest. If I am awake I’m likely on the verge of tears at any given moment, I get it. I have noticed, with time, the ache in my heart is softening a little and my tears don’t last as long anymore. But, still, the emptiness is there. And, maybe in some weird way, that’s okay. Maybe we are meant to use this emptiness and rootlessness as our foundation. Maybe we need to feel the emptiness and absorb all this “missingness” into every cell of our body. If we feel it and lean into our grief we will learn something about ourselves. I think there in the empty silence – is where the answers are for all of us. I’ve decided that if I am going to survive Mike’s sudden death I have to build a purposeful life around the emptiness inside me.
So, I haven’t told you Who I am. Well, for starters…
These are my “titles”. But, this doesn’t answer Who I am.
I am so much more than just these things. These labels don’t accurately describe me and they certainly do not define me. In short, I’m a middle-aged mother who’s life didn’t turn out as I expected. I have two boys from a 21 year marriage that didn’t last. My boys are amazing people and being their Mom is one of the greatest joys in my life. They are my two favorite people on planet Earth and I’m thankful to share my life with them. My boys are the good stuff in my life.
Now, for the cruddy stuff.
My path to widowhood began on November 15, 2016.
I went to bed engaged and I woke up a Widow.
(I still can’t get my head around this.)
Mike went to bed and he never woke up.
It still seems surreal as I type this.
I think it always will.
Mike died on Tuesday. He died two days before we completed the purchase of our new home. His death was unexpected and sudden. I was left with a mess… We were planning our wedding. There were florists, caters, and photographers. We were supposed to get married in the backyard of our new house August 20, 2017. We thought that getting married on our property would be a way to make our house feel like a home where we could blend our families together. We had it all planned out; and then everything was just over… Our happily ever after never came to be.
Mike and I were right in the middle of our love story…
He wasn’t supposed to die.
Mike always used to say “Honey, we have the rest of our lives together”. Well, in reality, he did spend the rest of his life with me. We gave one another some of the happiest days of our lives. I completed his life and he died a very happy man.
Still, I am left wanting more. When I said I’d be his wife I thought we’d have at least twenty years together as husband and wife. But, there was a major plot twist.
Mike and I were so dang in love. Ours was a BIG LOVE. The kind of love every little girl dreams of having one day. Together we shared a beautiful life. And, now it’s over. And, I am broken.
This new life feels uncomfortable to me. Some days I don’t know where to start. I feel shattered into a million pieces and I don’t know where to begin. Where do the broken pieces fit? I have recognized that I can not put myself back together the way I used to be. I am different now. So are you. We can’t create some cheap imitation of our old lives and our old selves.
Although, we are different now, some pieces of us survived their death. Cling to these pieces because they are the blueprints for who you are becoming.
The reality is that Mike died. I didn’t. And, neither did you. I know some moments it feels like we died too; but, in spite of this, we are doing what we’ve always done – we are Living. Yes, we are living with shattered hearts, but we are living nonetheless. Now, as I enter year two without Mike, my focus is to somehow re-enter life. To create a purposeful life in his absence. With tears in my eyes, I am attempting to re-engage in living. Every single day, I wipe my tears and I persist. Just like you do.
I am trying to find joy in the beautiful, ordinary things in my life. I still don’t have all the answers, but I am certain that Mike’s death should not and can not define the rest of my life. If I’m lucky, his death will teach me a lot about living and I will find out Who I Am. And, you will too.
In search of Who I Am,
Update: February 2022
It has been over four years since I wrote this blog and five years since Mike died. I have done a lot of living since that November day when he suddenly stopped living. And, looking back, I realize that I have come a long way since. I am so different than the girl who stood outside in the rain whimpering as bagpipes played and they lowered his casket into the earth.
I have risen from the wreckage that followed his death. Somehow, I have recreated myself and I am now living a life that doesn’t make me cry anymore. In the early years, I cried so many tears I thought I would drown in them, but I didn’t and you won’t either. Day by day I worked to rebuild myself and recreate a life worth living, and you can do this too.
There is not one thing that magically “fixed” me or brought me back to life; rather, it was a series of small things I work toward over the months and years since he died. Day by day I fought to find joy and many days there was almost nothing I could find, but even on those bleak days I always had hope. Hope that things would not stay feeling so awful.
Like all things in life, grief changes. It is not static. And, it can not hold you captive forever. The life force within me was always stronger than grief and I felt it all along, even during the worst moments. While enduring those many long nights of emptiness and days and days of aloneness I somehow knew that better days were ahead for me and I was right. I am living these days now. As I type this to you, I am happy once again. I have a life I enjoy living and I want you to believe this can and will happen for you too.