Archive of ‘Love’ category

The Man I Didn’t Want – A Widow’s Love Story

By Tanya Smith


The man i didn’t want – A Widow’s Love Story

January 2008 in the heart of the winter, that is when he came into my life – the man I didn’t want. My heart frozen in time, hardened like the ice that cascaded and seemed to cover everything around me. If I am being honest, I wasn’t alive, I didn’t want, nor did I appreciate being alive at that time. Destruction had never been my thing – until it became my thing. How much could I hurt myself, so that I would just feel something? Looking back is hard, but it is also what saved me from me. My world felt much like what you would expect of being stuck in purgatory, or was I the one that died and this was my hell?

This man now standing before me and I with my widow heart say, “I am not looking for anything, I don’t want anything.” I had nothing to give. This man that I was very clearly saying my truth right away to, and yet he still spoke these words, “I want something, I want a girlfriend, I want you”. How could he know so quickly?

A smugness, I had never known until widowhood hardened my once soft and open heart, came over me in these days. I told him he couldn’t call me right away, that it would seem too eager. His hand touching my arm, recalling a meeting a couple weeks prior, in a completely different town close to an hour away. A chance encounter with a man I barely knew, just having been introduced by my first husbands mutual friend. I no longer believed in fate, but I couldn’t cheat my own mind by thinking – this is interesting. His lips on my lips and then I walked away. If I continued to walk away, no one could hurt me – ever again.

September 2006. My first husband left in September. How could he have left me here like that? I know he didn’t want to, he couldn’t have known and neither I – but how did this happen? I must have looked so vacant, frail stepping into the coroners office to get Johns death certificate. Somehow holding that paper, it outraged me. Why did I need this stupid piece of paper to certify that my husband was dead. Standing in front of the desk, I asked, “Have you ever seen this happen before? Do you know anyone else that has died from a bee sting?.” I am not sure what I was hoping for with this exchange or what I needed to hear him say, but when he told me “NO”, looking blankly into my eyes – it shattered me again.

I had done everything the way I was supposed to. Small town midwest girl meets local boy, they become best friends, she saved herself for this man, waited for the one, put herself through college, landed a good job, they marry, start building a life, making plans, are getting ready to dig the foundation for their new home and instead of breaking ground to create the dreams we worked so hard for – the ground was broken and my husband was now in a wooden box while his heart and organs were on a jet getting ready to save several others. I was left behind once again, by a man in my life that I loved.

Trusting my heart to another man was never going to happen again! I can’t believe people would actually say to me, “you are young, you will likely marry again” when the dirt hadn’t even settled and my mind wouldn’t give me rest. The nights now closed in on me, sleep, I never knew you could live with so little sleep.

Two weeks into January 2008, the man I didn’t want called. I said “you waited long enough”. He said, “you told me I couldn’t call you right away – want to go out tonight”? I couldn’t. I had created several online dating profiles and I had a date already scheduled. I hated this whole dating scene but for some reason profiling others seemed to pass the time – I kept waiting and wishing my husbands profile or someone who looked like him might just pop up…some of the crazy rationale that went through my maddened mind at that time.

We hung up after saying we would plan something soon. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t seem to get this man off my mind. I kept pushing him aside. There was something intriguing there. I hadn’t felt like this, I kept pushing him aside. I go on my scheduled date that I was trying to be polite by not canceling, and I just couldn’t connect. I kept thinking about the man I didn’t want. Something came over me, maybe it was the knowing of how precious a minute was, the thought of wasting it on something that wasn’t right. I excused myself to the restroom and I called the man I didn’t want. I said ” hey, my plans are changing, still want to meet up”? He was out with friends, but would call me a little later.

So, I end the night early with my date and met up with two of my best friends. We go out and then I receive a text from the man I didn’t want. It is now after 11 and he is in bed. I say meet me and my friends at the Junction for some food. Never having had been forward in my life, this took me back to the time I had actually ran up to my first husbands truck window when he was leaving a party and said, “So, when are we going to go out”? The man I didn’t want, said how about another time and I think, rationally that was reasonable. Though there was nothing rationale in my life these days. Then he messages me, he is on his way. Some type of thrilling feeling came over me, what the heck was this? As he walked in my heart just did something. I felt the nervous, excitement, flutters. So handsome, kind, funny and he had some edge. We left and he came home with me. We talked all night and just talked. He made me laugh and this man I didn’t want started to become a man I knew I needed more with.

September of 2009, he took a month that is hard for me, and made it into a new beginning. I became his wife on one of the most beautiful days. In the middle of a garden this photo was captured of a butterfly landing right next to us.

I walked down the isle toward my future, taking with me my first husband and a piece of my first wedding gown clinging the flowers that budded above it. I was being married to this man by my childhood pastor and given away by my stepdad who is a constant reminder of how men can show up and stay in your lives. I can hardly believe this man I didn’t want broke down walls in my heart I never knew would be opened, he holds me up when I feel broken again, he forgives me for my crazy antics and he loves me through all of the ups and downs of our life. He makes me flipping mad at times, but I know I also return the sentiment. He reminds me that not everything in life is perfect, but being together and appreciating the times we share and the life we are living and figuring out, means everything.

It is not easy, marriage number one, but then marrying a widow, that is in my opinion a whole new level of navigation. My once soft and penetrable heart, had hardened and a defense and coping mechanism was put in it’s place. A new level of awareness of just how short life is brought up two defenses:

1. I know how short life is, so I am going to live it, show it, and not hold back.
2. I know how short life is, so I don’t want to hurt again, lose again, fear for what I now know to be so true and so I am going to keep a close hold of my heart so that that type of hurt will never find me. (SO unfair to myself and others)

This man, kept showing me he was up for the challenge and we took on this new life together. I had to meet him where he was meeting me. I couldn’t cheat myself anymore. We were put on this earth to love, to cherish and to forgive and forgive ourselves and allow love to come in. Hurts of this life will come but it’s on us to see that we deserve grace, joy, happiness. We get to make mistakes, but instead of holding on to failures we get to release them as part of the journey of finding ourselves through and amidst chaos.

We welcomed two beautiful, vibrant littles into our world, both in October.


We were living the life, the picture. People from the outside saw two successful individuals, a budding family. We were running, he with his business and I growing to the top of the executive ladder and jet setting away. We stopped making time for what mattered – isn’t it funny how we continue to take things for granted in life? He resented me and I resented him. He felt like, I didn’t need him. This conversation came up so often, it became old. I had to stop myself though at a time and sit in those words. He was right. I’m thankful we caught ourselves. I had become so independent. I had learned that I could do life on my own, I had closed off places in my heart for fear of being hurt. I had closed off places of myself to even myself because, it was just too hard to go there. When I almost gave up on us, he asked me to give us another chance. I did and I also knew that I had to meet him where he was opening his heart to meet me. We were both imperfect beings and thankfully still willing to be in it together.

We both showed up and put us at the top. He showed me all over again all of the reasons I needed to stay, he loved me the way I needed to be loved, I loved him the way he needed to be loved. He recently at a dinner with close friends, said, he had become an angry person and he was so thankful I gave us the chance we deserved. I willingly said, I am so thankful for us and that I also put in the work to give us the chance we deserved.


Nothing in this life is perfect. Standing in our kitchen a couple months back, I said “hey babe, I love you” he said “I love you too”. I said, “but I haven’t always” and we both laughed, knowing just what that actually meant. Appreciating this moment and the sweetness and honesty of it. It makes me smile to see that no matter what happens in this life you can go through very treacherous seasons, but if you decide to open your awareness, your heart and you unravel the pieces that you try so hard to keep together – that unraveling reveals true beauty that is just waiting to come out.

Eight years we will be married this year and it really blows my mind how fast our time has gone. I am thankful for this man I didn’t want and just how much I truly need him.

What July Means to Me

By John Polo

My birthday month.

Sometimes fun.

And sometimes tough.

It was the summer of 2002.

We started dating in June.

July, the month I fell in love with you.

After one year together, and eight long years apart.

We started talking again via email and text.

We knew right away. Always in each others heart.

But then one day, out of the blue, you butt dialed me.

July 21st.

My birthday.

It was your voice.

It was you.

Fast forward, to 2012.

A decade in the making.

I got on one knee, and asked if we could be wed.

You said yes, as I read the letter that I wrote.

‘We’re getting married John!!!’ the words that you so happily spoke.

Everything was perfect.

It was all meant to be.

July 15th,  one year later.

‘There is a large mass on your kidney’.

They ran a bunch of tests, and then confirmed.

July 22nd.

‘It’s cancer. Stage 4.’

Those were the words that we heard.

We rushed to the courthouse, to become man and wife.

You were so sick.

The reality of our new life.

Five days later, July 31st.

I had to say Goodbye to you. For the first time.

Eight hours later you woke up.

Cancer free.

And still mine.

© Copyright 2017 John Polo

 

 

 

 

 

Husband’s Gone and I’m Married to the Grief

By Julia Steier

 

Married to the Grief

The difficult detail when explaining yourself on days when grief appears is figuring out where to start. I was married but now I’m not. Or am I? He died three and a half years ago, so I’m not. But for others, it’s a judgment only one person can truly make. No one else has the ability to determine what amount of time is appropriate. I’m not married, however, I’m married to the grief.

To get this squared away, I hear voices. But I’m not crazy. It’s not the kind of voices that will tell me to grab a chainsaw and knock on my neighbor’s door. The voice is comforting. More like petting-the-dog-kind of comfort. On the 4th of July, I made the mistake of signing up for a race which begins at the base of a mountain. Recalling that race makes my legs shiver with pain. It’s comparable to going on one too many dates with someone when you know damn well it wasn’t going to work after the first outing together. A week later, I’m still recovering from that race.

As all 600 runners funneled toward the starting line, I weaved towards the front. My heart ascended towards my throat in anticipation for the race to begin. But as I was fumbling with my headphones, I hear the voice. Like the breeze cutting through your jacket on a crisp cool evening, chills traveled from my scalp to my toes. I haven’t heard this voice in quite some time, and there’s no mistaking it, it sounded like my husband. And he told me to get a chainsaw… Just kidding. He always had a sweet tonal melody to his voice, and it grabbed ahold of me. I looked around but then the race to the top of the mountain began. Before grief could bludgeon me I ran away with tears filling my eyes, but not enough to budge from the pool at the bottom of my eyelids.

I struggle with grief every day. It hugs me so closely you would never know. But I see it every time I look in the mirror. My scars from the loss are in the muscles of my arms, the knots in my back, the callouses on my feet. But as time has pushed forward, I’ve become used to the undercurrent of sadness. Grief has wrapped around my bones, and woven in between my cartilage and soft tissues, and has become a part of my life force like the oxygen in my capillaries.

But once in awhile, I hear his voice or a memory flows through my skull like an electric current igniting a cataclysmic landmine. Destroying my livelihood unexpectedly until I fall face first into my hands echoing the shrills of Nancy Kerrigan “Why? Why?”

Grief strips you of your identity. Takes your soul and crumples it up then proceeds to uncrumple it then sends it through a paper-shredder just so it can crumple every little part of you that still exists. But the deciding moment happens when there’s a choice to tape the pieces together or remain in pieces.

Grief can become an opiate too. Becoming addicted to the grief and the identity it provides in life after loss. And grief is addicting! My grief has become the coal fueling the engine. I’m doing things I didn’t think were capable or in the realm of possibility.

How we use our grief and value it is judgment we all must make at some point in our widowhood.

Remember on July 29th

Sign Up For Widow of Hope Virtual 5k

 

 

10 Dating Tips for Widows Nearing (and Over) 50

By Sabra Robinson

To the widow who feels aged, out-of-date or useless in the dating game:

You’re not alone and here are a few tips that I’ve developed specifically for you…

You’ve grieved long enough and cried enough tears to age yourself twenty years. You may be in your tenth year of widowhood or second year, yet you feel you’re ready to date. You miss him dearly but you desire a husband, a mate, your Chapter 2.

It’s been too long without a date and you’re getting older.  You want the hand-holding, movie outing, and bear-hugging-type dates.You’re an empty-nester and the house is just too big (or too small) for just one person.

You’re feeling lonely.

You’ve tried blind dates, online dating, speed dating and even church. And nothing.

You’re feeling sexy.

You’ve tried yoga, Planet Fitness, Home Owners Association meetings and you’ve even stooped so far as to rejoining bereavement groups, just for the possibility of bumping into a potential mate – and nothing.

You’re now angry.

As a widow of five years, and a widow who has had my share of dating since his death, I feel I can share a thing or two about dating so I’ve developed these ten tips for the older widow to help you along the journey of dating.

Tip 1: Be honest about your age.

Please don’t feel that you have to pretend to be someone you’re not. Yes, you may look a certain age, but you’re not. Yes, lying about your age may give you a better chance at getting a date. Don’t do it. Yes, you may feel youthful, sexy and carefree but, you’re lying. What if the relationship thrives and you both fall in love? He will respect you more if you come clean. Remember, honesty in a relationship can make or break it.

Tip 2: Try dating a widower.

Widowers may ‘get it’ long before a non-widower does. He’s already familiar with the unwanted journey so if you cry for your husband, he can relate. If you leave up his pictures, more than likely, he does too. If it doesn’t work, don’t give up on dating. Keep in mind that widowers are human too and although he may not be THAT guy, at least you gave it a chance. If it doesn’t work, don’t be dismayed; it just wasn’t a match. I dated one, and it was a very good experience. He understood my cries, he understood my pain and he got me through very hard days. Would a non-widower have understood my grief? Maybe, maybe not, but I felt very comfortable around him. We were the ‘cute couple’ to some, but I enjoyed my independence too much. Would I give him another chance? I sure would …when I can come out of my selfish desires of enjoying company by myself, when I can finally admit to myself that I’m ready for a long-term relationship and more importantly, when I can stop giving excuses of running away because of the overall feelings of guilt of selecting someone other than my husband. But that’s not what my husband would have wanted. He would have wanted me to be happy. Before he died, he wanted me to remarry; he didn’t want me to live life alone without a partner. I’ve dated many non-widowers but to be honest, I’ve never had so much fun with the only widower that was interested in me. I could be myself, tears and all – and he understood every bit of it.

Would I date only widowers? No, but they would be my first preference. If it doesn’t work, would I be upset? Maybe, maybe not. But heck, I was upset when I was dating non-widowers, like the one who used me like a rubber band to the point where he introduced me to his married client who I befriended, only to find out he was having an affair with her (and the list goes on). Besides, I have a future podcast with a widow who married a widower so I’m excited to hear her love story.

Actually, I’ve been through it all and to be honest, the only one who made me truly smile, was-a-widower :-).

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box.

Do something different than the norm. You’re grown and you’re not getting any younger…find a dog sitter, tell your ‘still-living-at-home’ adult children to find another place to mooch off of for the evening.

Tip 4: Don’t settle if you don’t have to.

Instead of allowing yourself to settle, allow yourself to grow in learning new things. Don’t settle for a man who doesn’t do anything for your mind or spirit. Being able to identify with someone through an intelligent, funny, and adult conversation is the sexiest thing close to sex itself.

Tip 5: Date a younger guy. 

If a younger guy hits on you, so what! If he’s old enough to purchase wine, he’s an adult. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the company of a youthful man. He could teach you a thing or two about the latest urban slang, the coolest emoji, and the newest Social Media app. And you may even be encouraged enough to change your wardrobe to something a bit more younger, not slutty, but try adding new accessories or even wearing dresses instead of jeans, yoga pants or slacks when meeting for a date. Try changing up your appearance and your makeup and try looking at life from a Millennial or Generation Xer’s point of view (not necessarily changing yours but be an ear to theirs). *Tip 5.1: Pull out your high school or college pictures to remind you of your youthfulness.

Tip 6: Don’t talk about your late husband on the first date – unless he asks.

Don’t be surprised if he suddenly falls ill after you’ve relayed a very lengthy conversation about how you have enjoyed your blissful marriage.  Gather your emotions and write down a list of ‘whatnots’ prior to the date. If he’s a widower, remember his feelings. Your rekindled memories may spark certain feelings for his late wife – he may not want that. Certain impressions may also make or break the date.

Tip 7: Don’t be afraid to date someone shorter. 

Your blessing can come in all shapes and sizes. It took me a year to accept the advances from a guy who was shorter than I. He was very mature for his age and a great singer, too! Some of the most famous celebrities are married to shorter men.

Tip 8: If he’s younger, don’t show him your Senior Discount card (or let him know you have one)  🙂

Let’s face it, you may have a Medical, Prescription, or even a rental discount card in your wallet. If he asks you if you own one (which would be a bit awkward), that’s another story, just go with the flow. But please, do not let him know that you’re a member of any senior discount card clubs – not yet anyway. I know several women who appreciate their discounts and benefits but the words, retirement, dentures, arthritis, etc. may trickle in his mind, when in fact, it shouldn’t so don’t give him a reason to think beyond what you can bring to the table…today.

Tip 9: Get some exercise or get busy! 

When he calls and asks what you are doing and you’re always sitting on the sofa watching television, he may think he’s dating an old lady. Get active for heaven’s sake! However, if he does the same thing, then more power to you both! You both have something common.

Tip 10: Pray.

If you’re a woman of faith and are seeking to remarry, be specific in your prayers. Don’t ever feel that you have to settle.

*Tip 10.1: If you’re a spiritual person, ask him this question: “If I were on my deathbed, would you still  be able to pray for me?” If he says yes, that’s wonderful, but watch his actions.

Tell me, which tip or tips would you use?

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