Monday, April 30, 2012


I spent last weekend at Camp Widow East and re-entering my regular life was harder than I'd anticipated.

The long travel day to get back home was exhausting and I missed my camp friends terribly. I spent the day alternately crying in public (a lot) and forcing the tears to stop long enough to function in the airports.*

The first time I went to camp I had only lived this life for 2 months and was still deeply in shock. I left feeling as though I'd found my people and the hope it would take to get me through.

And nothing was different about that this time. However, with less shock to buffer me now, I could more acutely feel how hard it was to return to "real life" and be, once again, the widow among non-widows. And, on top of that, I've been feeling like that pain is attached to the pain of also being an orphan and of having grown up missing the kind of love I so desperately needed. All the pain is linked like a rope I follow back to its source.

While I was at camp, I didn't even have to explain myself. I could look at another comrade and know they knew. And that I knew that they knew that I knew. Now (again), I find myself trying to explain how all of this feels and I don't have an adequate vocabulary. There is no way to fully explain this to those who haven't traveled this particular road and that can create a void.

I'm struggling with that. Combine that with not knowing what I'm going to do with my life and feeling unmoored, and I just long to feel secured to something, someone. I long for the feeling of absolute safety that Dave's presence gave me. I felt, from the day I met him, that I could depend on him completely. I felt watched over, protected and safe.

Now, all of that is up to me and I wish I felt a little more capable. But I keep pushing forward because that's what has to happen. I cling to my widowed friends' support, advice, and example.

At camp I saw, everywhere I looked, examples of people who experienced a loss this huge and continue to smile, laugh, live, love. I was held up when I couldn't stand from sobbing. I was protected and loved by all those fellow travelers.

That is why I keep coming back to camp. Nothing has made quite the impact on me like finding my "people". From the first few days after Dave died, I knew instinctively how badly I'd need to find others who'd been through this. And I did.

So, thank you Michele Neff Hernandez (and the rest of SSLF, of course!) for creating this refuge for us. Thank you for reminding me that pain like this can often result in incredible acts of love and healing for so many.

It's probably not much of an overstatement to say you've helped save my life. I just kind of wish that Camp was my normal life and "real life" was just a fleeting weekend once a year.** Can someone arrange that for me? Super. Thanks.

*Thanks to a phone call from a new friend made at camp, though, I actually laughed a little, too.  (Hi, Whitney!)

 **But I'll be there in August and I hope to see as many of you there as possible. If you haven't been before, you will be so grateful you chose to go. Please go. Please give yourself this gift of hope. And please find me and say hi!


  1. I agree, Cassie, re-entering "real life" can be a kicker, I still have a hard time after 2+ years. I am starting to enjoy those get a ways with friends and family, but the coming home again always makes me think twice about going somewhere next time. I like how you have described it, "unmoored" and "longing to feel secured to something, someone". I am drifting, too, not sure of what's next, don't really care at this point. When the time is right I'll chart a course, but for now, drifting is my course.

    Good for you for going to camp again, that is on my list, didn't work out this spring, aging father with health issues. Another loss coming that I am trying to prepare for. All I can do is go forward, too. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, it's good to know that I am not alone and drifting endlessly, reality keeps bringing me back to my life as it is; it is what it is, whether I want it that way or not. Trying to live and be in the moment more.

  2. I will look for you in August Cassie :)

  3. So important to have that safe haven...and not surprised you found it at Camp where everyone has lived it...We are your 'peeps!" See you in August...

  4. Cassie,

    I can't even tell you how much I identify with this post, especially wishing that your regular life could be more like Camp Widow (on the Tuesday after camp, I tweeted "I don't wanna be back here (work, my regular life). #whine Why can't my life be more like #campwidow?") and feeling like all your kinds of pain are connected to each other. SO my experience too.

    I figured out who you were at Camp, but we didn't connect. I'll definitely track you down in August!


    @tigerlily7a & @UnweddedWidow