I Wish I Were Phillip’s Wife, Not John’s Widow

By Michelle Miller

I used to love a boy named Phillip. He was nineteen and I was twenty-one. It was 2004 and we were both addicts together. He of drugs that had slangs I had never even heard of, and I of loveless sex and sexless love. It was a hot month both literally and figuratively. Summer had come early and we found ourselves in the month of March skinny dipping a lot after midnight in the pool at my apartment complex.  

 

He would say things to me like, “Let’s pretend we are in love” while we danced naked in my living room to Kenny Chesney. “Let’s actually be in love,” I would respond, like the good little love junkie I was. And then we would smile and do things to and with each other that I cannot write about in this blog without an X-Rated label. In all my memories of Phillip, it was always nighttime and the moon was always full. 

 

And then I met John. My future husband. My future adulterous husband. My future adulterous dead husband.  

 

For a whole week, I loved John and Phillip both. Both wanted to marry me. Being at the top of a love triangle was the most awake I’d ever been. What’s precious to me now about this time in my life, is the optimism and simplicity of how we three viewed marriage. They loved me, I loved them so obviously marriage was the next step. No one bothered to ask each other anything logical like what their credit scores were, if they had any medical conditions or you know, what their last names were. We, like most adults in their infancy, made all our decisions based on intuition, and feelings, and hormones….logic be damned! 

 

After that one hot month and that one hot week, John told me to choose. I chose him without hesitation….intuition and feelings, and hormones be damned! Logic had won and Phillip had lost. I patted myself on the back for being a ‘real’ grown up. Phillip was devastated. He showed up that night at 3am on my door step crying and telling me he loved me. Yep, Phillip was crazy, this act of passion had confirmed, and John was not crazy. He was not a drug addict. He was too ridged to skinny dip, and too practical to dance naked. John was the good choice.  

 

Ten years almost exactly to the date that I chose John over Phillip, John would be crying and telling me he loved me as he shot himself. 

 

I didn’t immediately think of Phillip that night; I didn’t immediately think of anything other than our children that night, but months later I would find myself searching Instagram for Phillip. I realize now that I wasn’t searching just for him though, I was searching for a piece of myself that had been lost ten years ago, and another piece that had been lost when John fired that gun, and all the pieces of my younger self that I had been lost in between the ten-year gap of Phillip and widowhood. 

 

Instagram would tell me that Phillip was now married with three daughters. All of them had his blue eyes and their mother’s brown curls. It would tell me that he was sober, in love with his wife, had a stable job, and loved to barbeque. Instagram would tell me that I should’ve chosen Phillip. 

 

I realize saying this makes me a bad widow and an even worse mother, but there you have it: regret. Who would I be today if I’d chosen Phillip? Certainly not this broken, anxiety-ridden, bitter, pessimistic, bitch that everyone loves to be entertained by on social media. I would be in a kitchen somewhere in Texas preparing side dishes to go with Phillip’s barbeque with my hope and my faith and my innocence still intact. 

 

I don’t care if the person I am and the place I am at in my life is amazing right now-and yes, my life here in San Diego is amazing-I don’t want it. What it has taken to get me here, to get me to be the person who lives a life so boldly with her best friend and their five children by the beach, is not worth the suffering that got me here.  

 

I’d rather be Phillip’s wife, not John’s widow. 

 

But soon I wont want this. You see, its 4am as I write this and I know that this regret, (like my capacity to love a man) will not last; it comes and it goes as mysteriously as my joy. My kids will be up soon with their little drool-incrusted faces and hair like mine, that is ratted and has a mind of its own. We’ll fill our day up with appointments and work and arguing over who left their cereal bowl in the sink, and in the midst of me caving in and scrubbing the damn cereal bowl myself, I will wonder how I got to be so very fortunate to have this life. Tonight Lynnette and I will have a few glasses of wine on our backyard palette couch that we built ourselves and laugh about the arbitrary things that made up our day.   

 

I will go to bed not regretting one single choice I ever made because what John gave to me was equal to what he took from me, and I will be so content and full of wine.

Unique Ways Brief Friendships Can Help with Grief

By Julia Steier

Friendships and Exercise Help with Grief

Friendships can last a lifetime, or sometimes for only a season. This unexpected friendship pulled me from the hell of grief. This little cycling studio in Short Hills, NJ opened up the same month my husband passed away, November 2013. I didn’t know this studio existed until one of the employees, an acquaintance at the time, stopped by my office to say hello.

I met Jordan in September 2013. He had developed a friendship with our university’s baseball coach, and we just so happened to meet one evening. I never gave much thought about fate and coincidences, but Jordan helped open my eyes to it. In the days following George’s passing a lot of people expressed their sorrow and offered me a lot of support. Daily text and facebook messages to see how I was doing. As if I could be doing well after watching my life turn to dust, but then again, how many 28-year-old widows are there milling around?

But as time pressed on, people I was closest to walked on egg shells because I didn’t express sorrow in tears. My tongue was sharp, and my temper was more dangerous than ballistic missiles. Soon, the daily check-ins became bi-weekly, and then transformed into the occasional “hey, I read your blog post, hope you’re okay.”

The fog dissipated over time and the figures in the corner of who I thought was there, turned out to be imaginary. But the ones who stuck around were bulwarks robust enough to weather a carpet bombing. And for that, today I stand stronger than I could’ve ever imagined. As I fractured and the wound ripped back open, they were the ones who brushed my hair and allowed me to believe I’d be okay, eventually. I promised my husband I’d be okay, so that’s what I tried to be: Okay.

It was almost three months after my husband’s death when I ran into Jordan again. He stopped by the university to visit our baseball coach, and I recounted our brief meeting in September. He had just heard about my loss and asked how I was doing. Small talk I had become accustomed to when people learned of George’s passing.

But something was different. He didn’t have the almond shaped eyes of woe. But widow brain doesn’t believe anyone understanding the enormous horror I’ve been through as I watched the one person I love, cherish and adore be consumed alive by cancer. So I brushed Jordan’s condolences off as no big deal.

The next day, he stood at my office door, passing by again to say hello.

And then again a couple of days later.

At first, our greetings were as awkward and dry as you might have with your bank teller before withdrawing money from your account. But our brief encounters transformed into hour long conversations and soon it dawned on me his visits were genuine, and my interactions and conversations were helping me adjust to a life I didn’t want. A new life forced upon me.

One morning he dropped in to tell my assistant coach and me about a new job he started at SoulCycle. We were excited but had no idea what in the world SoulCycle was. But he invited us to visit him at work– oh how the tables turn– but we emphatically agreed.

The Life Changing Invitation
Widow Transformation

Life Changing Invitation

Jordan’s kindness during the worst months of my life assisted in lifting my chin up. Raising my eyes and looking around me to see opportunities, to embrace the uncomfortable situations being a young widow, and forging a new path for me living a healthier and fitter life.

And soon rediscovering the one emotion which kept eluding me: happiness.

He would come to my office a couple of times a week to check in, and we started meeting up after work hours for dinner or drinks. I’d go and visit him at the cycling studio, and we became fast friends. In my grief I was selfish, but as I got to know him more, I realized he was going through a life transition and needed a friend too.

We grieve for different things in this life. When there are significant life changes and immediate disruption our ordinary daily routines, there are flutters of grief. Whether it’s someone going through a divorce, a pets death, or in his case, he had lost his dream job. And SoulCycle was a new career path for him. Though it’s not on the grief spectrum of losing a spouse, it was myopic of me not to wonder what was happening with him.

A lesson I was slow to learn, unfortunately.

I opened up to him about my misery and my longings to vanishing. Which I eventually did, by moving to Alabama and away from all my friends, family and my support system.

He listened and asked me existential questions, but he also wasn’t afraid to push me away. Some days I was too challenging and erratic because of the grief. When I reflect on those months, I didn’t realize what was happening, but today I do.

I barely saw anything beyond the tip of my nose. The grief made me volatile and jaded and I hated my existence, I loathed the sun because it never stopped rising. But at some point, the iciness of the winter in my blood began to warm as our friendship blossomed. And I glistened with strength each time I walked into that cycling studio.

While astride on the bike, I realized I did have a purpose. The bike offered me the courage to start believing in myself again. My life was already well out of the comfort zone, but being on that indoor bike provided me an outlet on how to manage my grief. Plus, my husband’s favorite form of exercise was cycling. In the winter he would do spin classes at New York Sports Club. So when my quads burned, and my calves began to scream, I’d close my eyes and think about him and his battle against cancer

Sore muscles today, stronger body tomorrow, and clearer mind immediately.

Indoor cycling showed me I had a strength I never knew existed. With the turn of the resistance knob, I challenged myself to push on because what was the alternative? I began adopting the mantra “kill or be killed.” Grief won’t kill me.

The nights where I would cry myself to sleep became fewer over time, and the crippling feeling of loneliness when I woke up by myself subsided too. I wasn’t afraid of what this reinvented life had to offer, and as I started climbing out of the depths of grief he regained his too, and we drifted apart.

Some people come into your life for a reason, and sometimes for only a season. He entered mine for a short time but made a lasting impact. My naivety and selfishness during my grief prevented me realizing it. But he was truly a blessing during a very dark time. Without his compassion and friendship, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for fitness and healthy living. I try to pass along the lessons I learned from my friendship with Jordan to those around me.

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.

Two Weeks After My Husband’s Suicide, I was Ready to Date

By Michelle Miller

I once read that dust is mostly made up of human skin cells. I wondered if his skin cells were on me then as I watched the brown mist settle on my arms. It had been two weeks since the gunshot that simultaneously oppressed and liberated me. I was sorting through the things my husband left behind in the garage. The garage we built years ago for utilitarian purposes that had somehow morphed into a metaphor for my husband’s declining mental health.

This detached, filthy rectangle had slowly become John’s retreat when, three years ago, he stopped staying in the house after dinner.

Then it became his lover when, two years ago, he stopped sleeping in our bed and preferred the night time company of his ever-growing used car collection and other women.

Then it became his asylum when, six months ago, he stopped sleeping altogether and changed the locks on both doors that lead into his fortress.

In his absence, it was not a retreat, or a lover, or an asylum. It was a dust filled, physical oxymoron. Cluttered but hallow, ancient but modern.  Laden with sunbeams, but darkened with shadows. The first time I went in there after his suicide, I sat amongst the things he once touched and I knew with certainty that the phrase “time heals” was bullshit.

Time, makes things real.

Time removes the merciful veil of shock.

Time is the guilt getting heavier.

Time is discovering yet another question that will never be answered.

My eleven-year-old daughter was just outside the back door of the garage that day looking down at her feet while balancing on a large metal beam. It was her first time there too. The long brown waves cascading from her head made it impossible for me to distinguish the look on her face. Not that her face was so easy to read during those early days anyways, but I still wondered what is looked like beneath her hair. She hasn’t spoken of her dad since his funeral.  She hasn’t spoken much at all.

What must this be like for her? I thought. What did I need from my mother when I was eleven and mute?

Cake.

Every eleven-year-old girl needs her mother to bring her cake.  I grabbed the leftover cake pops from the lunch I’d packed us and asked her to join me. She nodded her head no. So the cake pop and I went to her, out in the desert heat with its unrelenting rays of sun that seem so disrespectful to the cloud that had settled over our lives.

She was softly crying.

“Did you remind Daddy about me when he told you he was going to kill himself on the phone?” she said while still focusing on her feet.

It was in that moment that I decided I was ready to date. Yes, two weeks after my husband’s suicide I was ready to date. Not because I wanted to get remarried, not because I was healthy and so full of love that I couldn’t wait to share it with someone. No. I decided I was ready to date because

fuck  

him.

That afternoon I had the conversation with her, my first born, about how nothing anyone said could have talked the gun out of his hand. About how that wasn’t even daddy’s voice on the phone when he died because his brain was so very sick. About how his sick brain thought she’d be better off if he was dead. About how his suicide was no one’s fault. As I said these things to her I knew that I didn’t completely believe them myself, but I said them anyways.

A few days later, I left the kids in the care of my parents, went out of town and met with the man who would become Chapter Four in my memoir, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors. And then every weekend after that I dated a different man. And sometimes the same man. And sometimes four men in a day. I used them and they used me and I am a better person today because of it.

Dating gave me an outlet for my rage, respite from the guilt, and introduced me to my new self. No, I did not meet the next great love of my life out there in the modern social-media infused dating world. No, I did not meet a man that helped piece back together the broken fragments of my once optimistic soul. But I did meet a widowed woman named Michelle who raged until she could finally find the courage to be sad, who withheld the guilt until she was strong enough to absorb it, and who put her own damn soul back together, jaded though it might still be.

Dating can be used for all kinds of purposes, not just an eventual marriage. For me, it has been healing and I get so much criticism for it, but I’m too busy being wined and dined to care. Not everyone’s path to self-discovery and healing after loss is the same, but everyone has one, and they are obligated to their future, healthier self to find it.

Words from the Honeycomb

By Wendy Simpson

 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  (Proverbs 16:24)

The qualities of honey make a beautiful word picture here.  Honey is a natural antibacterial poured over burns and wounds it protects from infection and promotes healing. It is a preservative, poured over some foods it makes them last longer.  And honey never spoils, archeologists have discovered honeycomb in Egyptian pyramids that is perfectly edible.  This being said, it makes sense that honey and the kindness of words, were compared in this beautiful proverb.

As I searched for words to share here I realized how precious words are, how like rare treasures they can become life-giving.  But misused, words can be used as a sharp blade… hurting, causing discouragement and even devastating the heart.

It’s my hope to encourage.  I’ve always been sensitive to words, both the ones I hear and the ones I use.  I’ve found it a challenge to encourage others as I feel I have so little left in me to share.  I believed for so long that loss drained me of anything pleasant or sweet. But that was a lie. I am learning I may not have much…. but I have words and words are powerful.

Widow sisters, our journeys are personal.  Each one is so unique.  I could never claim to know your pain or understand your steps. But the ache of a widow in all her agony and all she’s lost… that is universal no matter the circumstances that brought us here.

I have hope, though it’s not something tangible I can grasp ahold of or savor yet. I have faith the God I’ve come to love and lean upon as my rock will never leave me… though that faith is as tiny as a mustard seed at times.  I have joy, yes joy, in the journey’s pain… joy is not a momentary happiness it’s a life-long sense of knowing I am not alone, that I am loved and that my tears are not wasted or unseen. I  have to struggle and battle and fight for this joy though.

As widows we are keenly aware of words that unfeeling, ignorant or even well-meaning people have said to us.  The pain and wounding of such words have lead us to believe few people really care or want to understand.  I pray that you’d know words of the honeycomb. May they be a healing balm, protecting you from the infection of fear, doubt and lies. That you hear encouragement and experience healing tears and know beautiful friendships where the honeycomb is real.  May there be honey poured over the discouraging words and may the sweeter memories of your beloved husbands be preserved. Remember beautiful encouraging words will never spoil.  They will always remain, to be discovered by others as sweet as the day they were delivered.

I have received many sweet words from my hope sisters here. It’s been a hard and lonely, journey, at times. But those sweet words remain in my heart on the hardest days.  God’s used them to heal hurts and protect from unhealthy grieving steps that could have infected my journey.  Bless you all as you take the steps of your journey and share words of kind encouragement and the ache of your stories.

 

 

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

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