Wednesday, July 10, 2013

There's a Certain Light ......

...... that leaves your eyes the moment your loved one dies.

It's like that part of me, the light that lived in my soul and lit me up from within,  left with Jim's soul as he took his last breath.  I wasn't in the same room, so I didn't actually see this happen, but I certainly felt that light, that energy,  leave my body.

For the longest time I hated looking at pictures of us ...... of me.  Both "before" and "after" pictures.
I hated seeing that light in the "before" pictures, but I felt something worse than hatred when I looked at "after" photos and saw that it was missing.  I felt hopeless.
There are so many photos of me over the last 5 years that are very difficult to see.  There's definitely part of me missing.  And my eyes look, well, for lack of a better word, my eyes look "dead".

I know I can't be the only person who noticed this.  I know I'm not the only one who's eyes looked dead after the love of my life died.

But here's something that I started noticing in the past year or so:
My eyes are starting to shine again.
It might not be the exact same light that was there "before", but once a light starts to shine, it's difficult to distinguish it from any other type of light.

And not only do my eyes have some light back in them, but so do the eyes of people I've loved these past 5+ years.  People who's eyes also looked lifeless several years ago ...... for the same reason mine did.

I'm sharing this Hope with you today ...... the Hope that light will return to your eyes.  I don't know when, or why ...... I think everyone's timeline is different, and so is the reason our light returns.

But here's proof of the Hope I have ...... and the Hope I want you to hold on to:

Every single person in the above photos lost their light several years ago, just as I did.  I knew them back then ...... back when all of our eyes were a lot more dim.

But I started noticing over the past couple of years that each one of us looked a bit different.  It wasn't just a change in makeup, or hair color ...... or even adding a relationship.
It was just ...... time.
And love.
And Hope.
And joy.

They don't all arrive at the same time, but they do come wandering back ...... little by little, bit by bit.
And once they start congregating inside of us ...... they can't help but put off a small spark of light within us.
No, that light isn't there every day ...... not at first.  It's just a spark so it has to learn how to survive and hold on to its energy.
And it does.

You don't have to believe me.
But pictures don't usually lie.
I have loved these people for over 5 years.
And I've seen that light grow in each of them.

I've seen it grow in some of you, too.
You'd be surprised at how very different the eyes of someone coming to Camp Widow for the first time ...... look when they come back the next time.  And then the time after that.
It's wonderful to see the light starting to glow in their eyes.
Most of us don't even notice it at first.
Not until someone points it out, or we're surprised by a picture of ourselves.

Keep breathing.
One breath, one day, at a time.
And keep Hoping.

I can't wait to see your eyes in the near future.


  1. I wrote a blog about this very same thing awhile back. I was looking through pictures of Spencer and I and I realized how happy I was. I saw a glow and that light in my eyes. I then saw pictures of me after the fact and it hit me very suddenly that I had lost my glow. That light was gone. I called my mom crying, wondering if she had noticed it. She said she did, but didn't want to say anything about it. It was a hard reality to face. But as you talked about in your post. I am slowly starting to get my glow back. I've definitely had to accept a different kind of glow in the mean time.
    Here's the blog I wrote on this same subject:

    Thanks for this post -- it really resonated with me!

  2. Thank you. This is beautiful and very inspiring.

  3. At the beginning when you meet someone the thoughts come to mind of sadness of he/she is not present. Only time can a happy smile of friendship and better thoughts again. Now majority of who I meet, I see sadness and they also.
    I'm sure my facial expression is different now that Jane'e passed away. Day by day it will come back. Thanks for your post of good words..
    Peace be with you..

  4. It is so strange to see all those faces that I have been seeing and reading about all these years. You all feel like old friends to me even though I have never seen any of you in the flesh. I can attest to the fact that it is true that all of you have the "spark" back in your eyes. You all have given such gifts through your willingness to share your pain with the broken and continue to give even though your lives are full again. I'd say we are looking at saints here on this blog. Yes, I believe we are. Thank you for the hope.

  5. Well done. I wondered when my eyes would smile again. I will wait for the light and smile to come to my eyes again. Thanks!

  6. I don't know about the "light in my eyes", perhaps it was just my overall happiness and radiance of contentment when I was with the love of my life - but I do know something was there. I told him once that just to look at him across the room or as he walked towards me or hear his voice, my heart would skip a beat with joy and anticipation - that hasn't happened since he died - would like to meet someone that has that same impact - don't know that it will ever happen. I guess I just have to leave my heart open to having it perhaps occur (or not)...but I so miss this feeling...and I so miss him.... I'm fifteen months out and still not over the tremendous impact on my life his death has had...damn it all anyway!

  7. Beautifully written and beautiful photos!

  8. Janine,

    Thank you, I really needed to read your post today. It's been a really rough week but I know it will get better. I'm so sorry for your loss and I will keep you in my thoughts. I can see it in your eyes!

    My husband passed away suddenly on May 10, 2012 from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism.

    We have two daughters (now ages 20 and 16)and we are taking steps to move on without their dad.

    I too wrote a blog in December after the horrible CT school shootings titled "Why" Here's a link to it...;postID=2951077685938104998;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=10;src=postname

    I hope the link to that entry works!

    Here's a link to my main blog:

    Thank you again,

    Leslie in Little Rock

  9. Thanks Janine.
    Funny as I write I was just looking at photos of myself and my husband on vacation in Italy some years ago. We looked so happy. I was studying his face, his hair, his ears, his lips. Trying to bring him back - to remember what it felt like to touch him, to kiss him and to hear his laughter.
    It sometimes feels like I lose him a little bit everyday. So I do this to bring him back.
    I also looked at my face and saw the spark I used to have. The easy happiness.
    At almost three years I can say it is
    s l o w l y returning.
    I went away for a girls weekend last week. The pictures are just coming in. There is one where I thought - there it is, the woman I used to be, there is a sparkle in her eye, she isn't the same, she doesn't look the same but a part of me that was alive when my husband lived - is still inside me.
    Thanks for reminding us to have hope.
    You always inspire me.

  10. Dear Janine
    Thank you for your inspiring words. I just discovered this blog after learning about it at Camp. You were so nice to take the time then to make me feel hopeful as a parent, and now your words do a bit for the newly widowed in me.
    While I can't believe that there will ever be the sparkle of the old me in any future pictures; I am hopeful for a bit of survival sparkle from a newer version of me.
    I look forward to seeing growth before I step on a plane for Tampa in March.
    With gratitude through continued grief,
    Janet C

  11. I could really relate to this whole light in the eyes thing...I too think my eyes are "dead"looking just like I feel dead inside....I can't imagine seeing that light back in my eyes again...yet I will trust what you wrote here..I wonder if when the light comes back to my eyes will I also feel less dead inside?
    My John died unexpectantly May 8th 2012....I think I am going crazy...things are still so hard! The ache is always there...I miss him with my every breathe...
    Thanks for listening....Linda

  12. There is that "certain light", singularly special and when one realizes, beyond all else that is lost, what it was and that it too is gone, so sorely sorrowed.

    To one who acknowledges the truth in the loss of that joy, can see its possibilities returning but is somewhere muddling in the middle, when you write like this your words give hope

  13. First and foremost: You are very beautiful!!! :)

    It's funny that I read this and it reminds me of something I was doing several weeks ago. I was looking at pictures I took with my niece and nephew at the Bronx Zoo, about a week and a half after my husband died. My sister in law (my brother's wife) wanted to get me out of the house and suggested I go to the zoo with her and the kids.

    I had a nice time, and I'm all smiles in the pictures. But it's blatantly obvious that the smile did not reach my eyes. The first few pictures, I kept my sunglasses on. I didn't want to take them off because I knew my eyes were tired from constant crying and sleeplessness. But in the pictures without my sunglasses on, my eyes looked blank, lifeless...dark. I broke my own heart, I can't imagine how people I interacted with back then must have felt when they looked into my eyes.

    It hasn't been 2 years since he's passed away, but thanks to my amazing family, friends and coworkers, they have helped me bring that shine back to my eyes. The more recent pictures of me, you can see joy beaming from my face. And I'm so happy and relieved that I have recaptured that light in my eyes.

    I may have lost my husband forever, and no, I still have not found that new love, but I'm still alive, and I have plenty of love to give to others and getting plenty of love back from those that I love. Life is getting good again.