Archive of ‘Love’ category

I Have to Go Now

By John Polo

I asked everyone to leave the room.

They said that we only had an hour left and I wanted the last hour to be ours.

I got into bed with her and slowly put my hand on her arm.

I was scared.

I remembered that day just over eight years ago when I touched my dad’s deceased body and it was cold.

It freaked me out.

I didn’t want Michelle to be cold.

With that memory still fresh in my head, I slowly, gently and cautiously put my hand on her arm.

Still warm.

Thank goodness.

Feeling more at ease and knowing that the clock was ticking away I wrapped my arms around her in a full cuddle, just as I had done so many times before.  All the while realizing that it would be for the very last time.

I started with the basics.

I told her that I loved her, over and over again.

I told her that I always had.

And that I always would.

I talked to her about our past.

The teenage love that ended too soon and the fairytale reunion that would take place eight years later.

I talked to her.

I forgave her.

I forgave myself.

For anything. And everything.

I talked to her about the good times that we shared before she got sick.

And I talked to her about the horrific times that we experienced during her two and a half year battle.

I told her that I didn’t know how I was going to do it.

Survive without her.

But then I promised her that I would I would figure it out.

I promised her that I would be ok.

Somehow. Someway.

For her.

For me.

For hers, who I loved as mine.

And then I told her about our future.

The one that I know we will share.

I told her that she better be waiting for me with open arms, and then I reminded her of the pinky swear that we had agreed to the week prior.

That pinky swear in which we promised each other that in our next lifetime down here together we would get our fifty years.

Fifty years of health, life, and love.

And then.

I laid with her.

And I cuddled. And I cuddled hard.

And I stared. And I stared hard.

And yes, I cried. And I cried hard.

‘John, it’s time,’ they said.

Family came back into the room and finished emptying out the place that had been our home for twenty-three life altering days.

It was now time.

Really time.

To do what I had never done before.

To leave her.

I asked everyone to give me just one more minute by myself.

‘I have to go now Michelle. I have to go. I’m so sorry. But I have to go,’ I said over and over again.

‘I have to go baby.’

‘I’m so sorry. But I have to go.’

Tears flowing down my cheeks, as I cried so hard I was convinced I would never be able to stop.

Leaving her.

For the first time, and for the last time. All in one time.

Having no choice, but to go.

It shattered my heart to pieces.

It devastated my soul.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

 

 

5 Reasons Why I Will Not Remove His Pictures If I Remarry

By Sabra Robinson

Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once – Chinese proverb.

It’s been five years since my husband passed away but honestly, it still feels like five days.

It still feels like I’m still sitting in the front row of the funeral home staring intensely at his handsome made-up face which beautifully neglected his lupus scars and bald spots.

It still feels like I’m at the hospital the night before he received his wings, laughing away at corny jokes, eating chicken and sipping down the strawberry jello.

It still feels like the day in the bedroom when he realized the severity of his illness and cried in my arms like I’ve never seen a man cry.

But most of all, it still feels like the day we both apologized to one another for the wrongs we’ve done and vowed to forgive and forget.

But it’s not.

Today is a different day.

Today is a just another day of living, and I have vowed to keep his memory alive in plain view. And by doing so, I’ve vowed to never remove his pictures from my home, no matter what, no matter who asks, no matter if I remarry, which led me to write 5 reasons why I will never take them down.

1) For Me

A picture is worth a thousand words. This Chinese proverb (some versions vary) exemplifies so much truth for me and I’m sure for many others. Each picture, including the frame, presents a unique memory for me, like the picture of he and I on the Spirit of Baltimore cruise where I showed off my favorite white shirt or the one of he and my dad toasting champagne at my wedding.

I need to see his pictures. I’m a visual person; I always have been because hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once.

2) For the Children

I attempted to remove his pictures about three years into my widowhood because I just couldn’t bear the grief and depression. I didn’t want him to see me emotionally unbalanced. But that lasted two seconds because my kids quickly shamed me. I vowed never to remove them again.

3) For the Resilience in me

Staring at his face on a daily basis reminded me of how far I’ve come since 2012. Recently, I found a stack of photos that I had finally removed from the poster board that was displayed at his funeral. My sister, my sister-in-law, and sons rummaged through many photo albums to find just the right photos to showcase for that day. The photos helped to captivate the very essence of who he was. I knew that the appearance of normalcy if only for that one day, was necessary for others to see; at least for the sake of the kids. But it soon ended shortly after the calls, texts, and visits. Today, I can honestly say that my grief is no longer held hostage; healing helped launch my resilience.

4) For the In-Laws

The pictures will always be a gentle reminder to his family that he will never be forgotten.

5) For My Future Husband (If I decide to remarry)

Some may view this as a selfish act towards my future husband. It’s not because if he should receive his wings before I receive mine, he would be honored the same way. I would only hope he would do the same.

It’s not like I’m stuck in a time-warp – I’m not.

It’s not like I haven’t dated – I have.

It’s all about celebrating his memory no matter what phase I am in life.

If I decide to remarry, I pray that my new husband is able to withstand his memory with me, too – that he can also relate to how deep the depths of grief can reach, go away, then come back again.

I pray that he understands that I may sometimes recall the good times, not comparing the two, but simply and respectfully embracing the unexpected flashbacks that so easily may make its way into my thoughts.

I pray that he also understands that a tear may shed here and there and he will understand.

I pray that he will understand that grief is a part of life and it will never end, that it will recede over time, and that a portion of it needs to be memorialized somehow.

But the truth of the matter is, there will always be that one memory that will still feel like it happened just yesterday.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it.

A Letter to My Father

By Christina Saunders

I have battled with losing my father since the age of 6. At 43 I finally worked up enough courage to share how losing him infected my life. I want to share a letter that I wrote him once I finished writing my book ” A Little Girl Broken.” I spent my life just going through the motions not realizing that the root went back to losing my daddy and not dealing with it. Not having him placed this void in my life and it was slowing killing me inside. Now understand this I am not over his death but I am able to navigate through life and live a happy and healthy life. And writing this letter was a way for me to finally move on and know that I am okay. As a child I always thought is he thinking about me? I wonder what he would say if he was here? I encourage others to write a letter/letters to their father and share where they are in this moment.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Dear Daddy,

There have been so many times that I wished you were here with me. So much that I missed out on  you showing me in this life. So much that you have missed out on seeing as I grew into a woman. As a little girl I never thought that one day you would be gone. I thought my daddy would always be there. I know that you didn’t want to leave me that was not the plan but here we are. No amount of words can express the pain that it caused me in this life. The words that you were gone and would never come back still has a sting to it right now today.

I didn’t have you here to show me how a man should love me. Honestly that missing relationship caused me to not understand how to have a relationship with God. I was so disconnected from feelings of love that I was stuck looking for it. I didn’t understand that I had value because it wasn’t something that I was taught. So I searched for that thing that I was missing in other men. That thing called LOVE left a big void inside of me. Not realizing that the void was getting larger every time I gave myself to someone who couldn’t love me the way I needed or deserved.

But this is what I want you to know that God sent a wonderful man to show me how a father should love his daughter. He lovely placed me into his hands to grow me. Not just in the area of fatherly love but in all areas of my life. He taught me so much in my time with him and his family. He showed me how to be in relationship with God. That was the most important lesson he could have ever taught me. The result of that was me learning how to love myself and let go of the hurt from the past. I’m thankful to you for giving me life. Please know that I am okay because I am finally walking in healing. I love and miss you daily.

Your loving daughter,

Angel

If She Were My Widow (In honor of National Widows Day)

By John Polo

Michelle,

It’s National Widows Day.

May 3rd.

I know you don’t pay a lot of attention to these type of things.

But I also know you heard.

I see you cry. Every single day.

It hurts me still.

I wish there was another way.

You know I fought so hard.

With all of my might.

I didn’t want to stop.

You and your daughter.

Both worth the fight.

My body was tired.

My mind so weak.

I had to stop fighting Michelle.

There was no cure to seek.

I want you to know, that you were always the one.

My love for you never went away.

It still hasn’t.

It never will.

By the way, the baby we lost.

I have him.

Yes. A son.

He looks just like you.

Thank goodness for that.

Although he has my cheeks.

Nice and fat.

I know you feel alone.

You’re sad and scared.

You cry out to God angrily, and ask him why I could not be spared.

The answers you are looking for, won’t come to you now.

Just know that eventually, you will see why, and you will see how.

I want you to know that I was there at hospice.

Through the sleep, I saw.

What you did for me.

The tears

The love.

That was pure.

That was raw.

I heard the eulogy that you read to me.

Yes, I listened.

Yes, I saw.

I love you so much.

I always will.

You are my soul mate.

Past, future and still.

You can do this Michelle.

You are stronger than you know.

Happiness. Not survival.

That should be the goal.

Our love is more than that world.

It is soul to soul.

Copyright 2017 John Polo

 

A special note to our Hope Widow Sisters on National Widows Day

By Chasity Williams

 

We want to send a special shout out to honor all our Hope widow sisters today, on National Widows Day. We appreciate you and are very proud of your resilience in the face of extreme tragic circumstances. We always want to validate your emotions, feelings and thoughts as they matter. You matter.

Nothing prepares you for widowhood!! It’s a committee that no one wants to be a part of. No instructions, no reference guide, no rules. We are left to pick up the pieces and find out how to get through and survive. Most days, weeks, months, even down to the second that’s all you can do. To us, the word ‘widow’ means: Hope, Strength, Warrior, Resilient, Faith, Overcomer, Determination, and growing your soul and self to new and greater heights than you ever imagined.

As widows ourselves, we know something stunning and magnificent can happen after time; emerging from a devastating loss or tragedy, then transforming and changing, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. It’s not right away, not even soon, but we promise you will see the light in the darkness eventually. There is no time limit, but you will go from surviving to thriving. One of the hardest parts is the acceptance, acknowledgement of the loss and the future that was to be, and then surrendering to it. Knowing you will never get ‘over it’, but learn a better way to ‘get through it’. Remember, you have to feel to heal.

So, as beautiful, flawed, and broken you feel, battle scars, wounds and all, to hell and back … the beautiful, messy, chaotic life that is now yours, just breathe — take ownership of all of it- It is ENOUGH. YOU are ENOUGH. You can DO IT! Our Hope sisters are here for each other. A sisterhood of us who relate, understand, listen and care. Grief and heartbreak of losing a loved one is an unspoken language, until it happens to you no one on the outside will truly understand. Our Hope Sisters are some of the strongest and most beautiful people we have ever met.

Our Hope Sisters continue to inspire and encourage us daily. We want to tell you how much we care for you, how strong you are and that you can do the tough things! Hang on to your anchor, because Healing Happens.

You are enough. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are amazing….. We believe in YOU.

“Pain is real, but so is Hope.”

In Hope,
Chasity Williams, Khadija Ali and Maureen Bobo
Hope for Widows Foundation Directors

A Widow’s Reflection on Weddings and Dating

By Sabra Robinson

I finally did it. I attended a wedding. And … it was magical!

I wrote a blog last year during the holidays about my issue with attending weddings. Attending weddings for me was non-existent. My fear was powerful…until now.

I’ve documented my experience below as a follow-up to my article: An African-American Widow’s Battle with Holiday Wedding Invites: Is Your Struggle Real, Too?

I hope this encourages someone as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Wedding ‘Date’

It’s hard to put into words how I was feeling on this day. It was Saturday, April 15, 2017. I was invited by a friend, my date, who is also considered one of the “fab five friends” of the groom. He had mentioned the wedding of his best friend in prior conversation and I inquired more. He was excited to go and I was excited for him. He took my excitement as an open invitation to probe. He asked.

I said yes…

For some reason, I knew it was the right moment, season, and time to attend my first wedding in five years since the death of my husband. I was in route to meet my date but I was late. Not intentionally, well maybe – well maybe not. I think deep down I was just a bit nervous. (I did stop on the way to grab a McDonald’s coffee, though). I was almost 30 minutes late meeting him at our meeting place prior to traveling to the wedding. He didn’t say anything when I arrived; he was cordial … and quiet. :-). He was a gentleman.

We walked into the wedding together. We weren’t late but the majority of guests had already arrived. Now mind you, we had to walk FACING the audience to get to our seats.

Lord, why me?!

It was in a gorgeous restaurant setting called Cafe Luna. The restaurant was closed just for the big day and it was well worth it. My date made introductions and I was very nervous. He asked if I was OK. I questioned him why. He said because I was twirling my fingers. I had not noticed.

Nervous?
No.
Anxious for it to be over?
Yes!

The Ceremony

It was a small and intimate wedding, no more than fifty guests. The ceremony itself lasted about 30 minutes. To my surprise, a portion of the wedding vows read by the pastor were also included in an inscription I had engraved on their wedding gift (I nominated myself to be the one to obtain the gift – I had to, with my date’s feedback, of course). As I sat there listening to the scriptures and readings of the pastor, the couple was engaged in eye to eye contact. Their love for one another was apparent.

It was a 1 Corinthians 13 kinda day.

David & Tracey Cook

Guests were cheerful, the food was tasty and the music, well let’s say it was a language that was rhythmic and performative. It was a harmonious language familiar to club dwellers of the Chicago, Detroit, DMV, New York and New Jersey belts amplified by legendary DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan and Baltimore’s own, the late Reggie Reg and a newbie to the scene years later (but gone too soon), DJ K-Swift. House music was the talk of the table and the tables were turning, I mean…the table I sat at consisted of fans of this urban electronic music who boasted about their younger years of club-hopping, attending Rutgers and family life. Feeling comfortable at this point, I spoke up. Besides, I knew the topics all too well. My guard was finally down and I endorsed myself to consume the ambiance of love, laughter, and liveliness of the special event.

Grief was not allowed nor was it welcomed.

I looked over at my date’s face and I saw a widower undefined by the event but defined by the harmony, love, and legacy of his fab-five brothers. It was a feeling I envied but understood.

Plus One

My date was such a gentleman that day and who was very much respected by his ‘fab five’ friends. As I sit here typing this, I cringe at the fact that I’m about to open up about my personal life at such detailed level. I’ve never done this before but I feel the need to. Why? Because there are others like me, in my position who are going through the emotional rollercoaster of attending weddings and dating while widowed. He was a special kind of date. Why?

Because … he’s a widower.

This was also his first wedding since his wife’s transition three years ago.

#DatingAWidower

I struggled with writing this portion but it so happened that a great article was posted in one of the Facebook widow forums that I co-manage, Black and Widowed: A Unique Journey. The article, Why Widows And Widowers Should Only Date Each Other, garnered much attention from widows and widowers in the group. Many provide their individual variations of their experiences, concerns, and expressions of how they view dating as a widow or widower:

I still find myself saying ‘we’ or ‘us’
I find it interesting dating divorced women. She talked about her ex-husband all the time
When I’m asked about my late wife I was told, ‘Oh, you’re still thinking about your late wife?’
As a widow with a 10-year-old, I’m clueless
I equate dating with a drunk guy on the dance floor
What’s the definition of dating?
I can’t recall what my husband and I did while dating. We met, fell in love and we were never apart … so, I have no idea.

Their replies are valid. Their concerns are understandable and their fears are relatable. I’ve been there. I’ve dated but they just couldn’t relate, until I met a widower.

My Hourglass

Well, there you have it; an hourglass reflection of what it’s been like for me on this journey. I’ve reached a milestone and I’m good now. I’ve even attended a wedding video viewing party just this past weekend! Yes, it was one of the weddings I skipped last year but the viewing party was even better! Although this type of event is new for me (never had one when I got married twenty-eight years ago), it was well worth the invite.

Talk to Me

Have you dated a widower or widow? What’s your experience attending weddings? Are you ready to date again?I’m curious to know so please chime in with your story. Do tell!

 

*Stay tuned for part 2, A Widow’s Continued Reflection on Weddings, Dating And Beyond

Read more of my writings over at blackwomenwidows.com