Monday, April 1, 2013

Tiny Quiet Plea


On January 21st I found out about a man who'd lost his wife, making his daughter the same age I was when my mom died. I wrote about it here.

Since then, I reached out to him and we have found in each other something I believe is more than worth the fear it's causing me to let down my guard and care about someone again.

I have seen him father his daughter with love and deep respect. I have seen him do everything in his power to make sure she feels loved and safe. I have seen her loving him. I'm not yet sure I have words to explain how this has made me feel. I'll have to work on that. To say that this alternate ending to my childhood has been healing is an understatement but it's all I can come up with right now.

I have been able to tell him everything about myself. The grieving, deeply wounded parts of me I've hidden from others. The weakest me, that I hide from myself. It's all been out there for him to see. Instead of running from that, he's come forward through it with me. It hasn't phased him.

I don't have a clue what the future will bring. I'm terrified to hope for great even when I have it right in my arms. But I'll tell you one thing I know for sure.

I asked for this. Down deep, in the part of me I keep hidden from almost everyone, I asked to meet these two people before I knew they existed. I know that sounds woo woo. It does even to me. But I did. I said a tiny, quiet plea that I almost couldn't admit I wished for. I wanted to find them and I did.

I didn't know what they'd look like or what their names would be. I didn't know where they'd live or how I'd ever find them. But I wanted to. And I did. I hope I enrich their lives as much as they do mine.

I realized today, when he asked me to come color eggs with the two of them, that each time I get to participate in some childhood ritual that I missed out on, I'm healing a loss I never really got to claim.
I don't usually tell people that there were no birthday parties, Easter celebrations, Christmas festivities or Halloween fun at my house growing up. And because I never had kids of my own, the rest of my adult life continued the same way. This is the first time I get to be an integral part of those things I missed out on.

It's terrifying to have hope. That's the funny thing. When it's abstract hope, like the vague notion that things won't always be as bad as they can get, it's helpful and comforting. But when it's hope that something you have suddenly in front of you won't go away, it's terrifying. Unless you've been through tragedy it's hard to understand how terrifying joy can be. A fragile, mending heart doesn't feel capable of handling any more pain and when there's joy there's potential loss and pain.

Before I met these two people I had little left to lose and that was liberating. It was an absence of joy and it was a loneliness, but it was also the absence of the feeling that I had so much to lose. When I met them, I felt I had two choices, to continue to be lonely but free of potential pain, or to reach out and risk pain. There is within me, some source of utter fearlessness that can be easily drowned out by the fearful part of my brain trying to protect my heart. That crazy, fearless me knows that I have to push through the fear or forever live without closeness with others. That part of me hasn't allowed me to push this potential happiness away out of fear. However, I live each moment of this with the fear.
But it's possible to feel both fearful and brave. It's possible to be scared shitless and show up anyway. So that's my plan. Show up despite the fear. Live despite the knowledge of the pain that life can bring.

It makes my heart race and chest constrict just typing this, but at least I'm showing up.
And because I am, I get to color Easter eggs with them, a ritual so many might take for granted, but I never could.


  1. You are showing up beautifully, Cassie - it's a joy to read this.

    Easter is the time for rebirth, for Spring, isn't it. Life has more gifts for us along the way, whether we believe it or not.

    Many warm greetings -


  2. Replies
    1. You're moving to Portland soon, right? Email me and maybe we can meet up if you want.

    2. I am! Soon. Sent you an email a bit ago, but I will send you another!

    3. Shoot! Must've gotten lost in my junk mail folder. I'll keep an eye out.

  3. Cassie,
    Can I just say that when you first wrote about this father and daughter, I saw this happening to you. If that is Woo Woo, then so be it.
    I'm just an ordinary widow, but losing my Charlie has put me so close to the things of the spirit, to feeling.
    I wish you happiness and peace. Julie

    1. Thanks, Julie. It's done the same for me. Everything seems more mysterious than before.

  4. Spring is renewal - take some hope for those of us not quite ready of luck to all of you.

  5. Thanks, Cassie, for sharing your thoughts about taking the risk of caring again. I really identified with your comment, "I felt I had two choices, to continue to be lonely but free of potential pain, or to reach out and risk pain."

    After my husband died, it took me years to even want to take that risk. I didn't want to ever face that pain of loss again. Time seems to soften that fear. After six years alone and hoping God would lead me to a place of joy, I met a wonderful man who had lost his wife. We married in 2007 and enjoy our life together. There is no guarantee that we will not feel the pain of loss again. For now, we take every day as it comes to us. Each day is a gift. I'm proud of you for taking the risk. Sending my thoughts of support your way.
    Author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow's Story of Love, Loss and Renewa

    1. Thank you for the support, Diane.

  6. This is a beautiful post. I understand how hour fear turns into your courage. How strong you are to face such numbing fear and move through it. And what comfort you must be sending to that young girl and dad. As I read your post the famous presidential quote went through my head, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
    You know, it seems that your husband's death has provided you with an unexpected avenue to heal some the wounds of the past. What love.

  7. Cassie. I’m so glad for you.
    I know it’s scary on so many levels.
    Scary to consider that hoping for a future means the possibility of the ground dropping out from under you. Again.
    Scary that putting it down in writing here, means it’s that much more real.
    Scary to think it might be possible to have feelings for another man.

    But you’re absolutely right. You can choose to be continue to be lonely but free of potential pain, or open yourself up again and hope for joy.

    I don’t believe that humans are intended to be alone. Things are (usually) so much better and easier, and sometimes just plain wonderful when we have someone. Someone to share with. And hope with. And to love and be loved.
    I can’t give up on that for fear of pain again, no matter how horrific that loss was/is.

    Good luck to you Cassie!

  8. I remember well the post about this little girl and her dad. How you met them and the place you met them. And I was wondering about what became of them and you. To read this post today gives me so much happiness! I know I don't know you, but I think of you often because of your posts here as I can relate to everything you write about. I love your inspiration to be brave and embrace life wherever it leads you.

  9. This support is so appreciated. I woke up this morning nervous to see my story gone public and possible comments. It took quite a bit of soul-searching and courage to post this, much less talk about it at all. It was a giant leap, so your comments have made the landing softer. Thanks.

  10. "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us". Joseph Campbell

    I've quoted this before, but it seems appropriate today as well. Letting go is oh so hard, and jumping back into life with its possible losses again is equally as hard. How lovely for your friends daughter, as well as you and he, to connect, even if it is only for coloring eggs. Sometimes the littlest things lead us out of the darkness and into the light and love again. So glad you are able to show up and embrace this connection, just let it be.

  11. Cass
    It warms my heart to hear this! Thank you for being so strong and real! Even though I am not a widow, I take so much from all the posts I read here. Hugs!

  12. Cassie, your bravery is impressive. You are moving into a world that is filled with all kinds of risks, but those risks are definitely worth taking.

    Your childhood pales in comparison to this "little" girl and you will never replace her mom, but you have the opportunity to love and cherish her. All the love in your heart will not go to waste.

    Good luck and thank you!!!

    1. For some reason, your sentence "All the love in your heart will not go to waste" really struck me and it's been on my mind all day now. Thank you.

  13. Love love love this post. I knew a deep deep love with my soul mate who I lost to heaven two years ago. Initially, I never thought I could or would love again. I still don't know, but I know that I cannot risk not loving because I am afraid.....I fear nothing anymore; I am more bold, I am more risky (in a healthy way), and I too, like you, have nothing to lose! I hope that one day I will have a story to tell of my "tiny quiet plea" that is said daily. I choose to love freely rather than put up walls. We widows of all people know that life is short; if the opportunity comes again to share my life with another man of my dreams, I hope that I have the courage to say "yes"!

  14. Yes, a beautiful post. I have been dating a widow and have fallen pretty hard. I so want to be a bigger part of hers and her kids integrate more. Sadly for me, that has been slow to come...even after a year together. My patience is waning and I'm sad that I was not invited for Easter egg coloring this year. I`ll keep showing up too for now, but even in my denial, I have begun to believe that she is just not ready. It's been nearly two years since she lost her husband of nearly 20 years, and I am her first.

  15. Beautiful, Cassie. Simply beautiful.

  16. Your bravery is beautiful! And hope IS terrifying. People have looked at me cross-eyed when I have said that, but it is true. Hope requires us to admit how much we want something, and to open up to the possible pain of not getting it - or of losing it. But to shut it off? No.

    Caring is dangerous. Live dangerously.

  17. I love this, and I think you are brave. And you are so right about joy being terrifying, after going through a tragedy. Ever since my husbands death, I feel like Im always waiting for that other shoe to drop. Im so happy that you finally got to color Easter eggs. Much love.

  18. Cassie,
    You are so very brave and expressed yourself so well.
    Maybe you have found the path God has for you. Live and love it well-as someone just said, we widows know that life is too short. Just 6 months tomorrow for me--so hard to deal with all of this.