Friday, August 17, 2012

Courage, Time, and the Number 20

Last week I celebrated what would have been my 20th wedding anniversary...and by celebrate I mean I worked a 15 hour day and spent almost no quality time with anyone outside of work.  I did have a quiet glass of wine with Carl, but both of us were exhausted, we went to bed almost immediately.  I left the next day for Camp Widow - and toasted my anniversary with 6 fabulous widows and it seemed right in a very wrong way...I'm sure you know what I mean.  Had Daniel lived, I would never have met all of the fantastic people I've met along my widow path. 

It's an interesting overlapping universe.  I sat in my kitchen with my new husband of 6 months on the day that would have been my 20th anniversary with my late (usually late actually ;-) husband.  It didn't feel wrong, in fact it felt oddly right.  My life was changed radically by cancer and then again by a horrible early death....and yet, I am still here.  I am still alive and I'm making it the best life I can make it.

I don't know that I would have ever described myself as courageous before this experience.  Watching Daniel's courage and determination in the face of ungodly odds inspired me in a way I'll never be able to adequately describe.  In my darkest days I would tell myself - "he struggled with every breath to live - you won't honor his battle if you waste your life or Grayson's - he'd come down here and kick your ass if he could." Sometimes it was the only thing that could get me going (although I will admit to thinking "bring it! go ahead and come down here and kick my ass - at least I'll get to see you!").

Meeting and talking to so many new widows at camp, I was transported back to a time when I was so raw in my loss and so incredibly horribly sad.   I don't have to imagine it, in meeting some of you, I felt it all over again.  It was a powerful emotional reaction.  Those first years are such hard work.  It makes me cry just thinking about it.  Had it existed, I don't know that I would have had the courage to attend Camp in the first couple of years, even though I desperately needed it.  I'm in awe of the widows who came from everywhere, you my friends are courageous!

I don't usually brag on myself, but I'll admit I'm proud of how far I've come.  It's only been possible because of my widow friends and our daily acts of courage - just getting out of bed!  It's been quite the journey and I know it will continue to be challenging - it's life and death after all.  I'm just glad I'm here, living every day with as much energy as I can and appreciating it for all it's worth.  I'm glad that Carl saw all the bags I had packed behind me and had the courage to take it all on!


  1. Brava! Lovely post! And thank you for sharing. This is not an easy journey for any of us. You have come a long way. It is not an easy journey; it is helpful to read such a post.

    1. Thank you, always love to hear if something is even a little helpful. xo

  2. Thanks Michelle,
    I am approaching year 2 of being a widow. Ahead of me - is what would have been my 38th wedding anniversary. I always dreamed we would make 50 years together. I thought "we are young, fit, in love and committed". Then he was diagnosed with cancer.
    We made it to 36.
    I am grateful for every one of those years.

    You are so right. It is hard work to be a widow, to grieve and to move your life forward. I feel I have learned so much (and no I don't believe I had to "get this lesson" to learn it, the fact I have is beside the point)

    I have learned to be less judgmental. I thought I was a very compassionate person before but now when I see people in a wheelchair, my mind isn't registering "person in wheel-chair" as it did before but "Bless you, bless you, bless you. I don't know how you got there my friend but I understand some of that pain and struggle and courage to be in the world".
    I say I have "new eyes". The world will never look the same. This is what I am grateful for. A chance to really see.

    The days can be hard, sometimes they are so slow they are unbearable, other times weeks fly by and I feel an incredible panic about my life and its passing. But I know - this journey I am on and all of my bags filled with us, our memories, our happiness and my grief at losing him are not so hard to carry as they once were. I am stronger now.

    Thanks in part to the wisdom I have found here.

    1. hugs to you as you celebrate your anniversary, and the upcoming two year anniversary too. I have always done something special for myself on our annivesary - taken a little trip, or at least taken the day off of work and had some time to myself. It is always bitter sweet. Peace right back to you my friend.