Monday, July 8, 2013
There was a moment during the Camp Widow banquet as the Soaring Spirits Board Members were on stage together and Michele hugged each one in turn, when something washed over me in a huge wave. It's not a new revelation for me but at that moment it coalesced and I felt it.
Seeing her joined to these other beautiful souls and realizing I was joined to it all, too, in my small way, made me realize that losing our spouses is the worst that can happen, and yet somehow that pain becomes fuel. It fueled Michele to start this incredible organization, it fueled all of us to connect with each other and form our own community of souls. Because of the deaths of those people so dear to us, this growing community gets together every year. The foundation and our collective love is the phoenix that rises from the ashes of our losses.
The power of that dawned on me in a visceral way that moment at the banquet. I could almost feel the collective love from all of our dead spouses swirling around us, moving us all forward to hold onto each other and keep pushing for a life worth living.
Death sucks and it hurts and it tears us apart, but it also fuels us. It fuels us to make change, to help others, to reach out, to allow love in, to accept help, to travel to a convention called Camp Widow where we might just make lifelong friends, to connect, to open our hearts, to start over, to be even more brave than we ever knew we could be. It's fueled many of us to start foundations in our loved ones' memories to help other survivors, and start blogs, and learn to walk on fire, and travel the world, and brave the fears we bury deep inside. It brings us together and bonds us for life. It might just be one of the most powerful agents of change around.
I felt all of that as I sat there amongst these people I consider the true heroes in life. I also felt my brain grapple with the idea that so many beautiful and beloved people had to leave too early for all of this to happen in the first place.
The most unlikely thing in the world is that beauty grows out of pain and loss. It makes no sense and it seems unnecessarily cruel, but it has proven to be true in my experiences again and again.
There was so much beauty and love wrapped around us at Camp Widow and right alongside that was an endless supply of broken hearts and traumatized souls, the aching of an empty place where there should be a much-loved person.
I don't fully understand it all and its enormity overwhelms me, especially when I'm with hundreds of other widowed people for a weekend. It is possibly the most powerful collective experience I've had in my life.
I find it hard to put words to it all, but I know that going to Camp Widow when I did saved me and launched me into this new life with a team of supporters whose love has fueled and inspired me.
I am so grateful.