Everyone keeps asking me if I got laid last weekend at Camp Widow West Coast.

No. I did not.

Feel free to stop reading this if you feel the contents of this sex-less blog will no longer interest you. No, for the record I did not get laid in my beautiful hotel room over looking the San Diego bay. I did not get laid in the bathroom either. Or the hall ways, elevators, or various bar bathrooms. Not even, in the Jacuzzi.

I did however have a therapeutic experience equal to sex that involves a bed, a bunch of liquor, and a woman named Lauri. Do I have your attention now?

Lauri quickly became my Camp BFF over a 9am Bloody Mary on day one of Camp.

She is a newbie widow (less than a year out), and she is the first non-pretentious vegan I have ever met. She’s a tiny little thing, but the way her eye brows arch you know that she could kill you if she wanted to-not that she’d want to since she is as equally gentle as she is fierce. Something about her cheekbones when she smiles told me right away I could trust her, and so I did-not an easy thing for a woman such as myself who has been widowed by her husband’s years of infidelities and eventual suicide. I have a feeling Lauri has spent most of her life having her depth and her intelligence underestimated. Oh, and it has to be said that her resemblance in body language, facial features, and attitude are identical to Kit Deluca in Pretty Woman (minus the whole prostitute thing).

On the eve of the big masquerade ball I began the trek back up to my room to change into my dress from the conference hall of just led a workshop in. It was a great class. The entire camp experience had been great as a matter of fact. So of course as the elevator climbed up to the twelfth floor I could feel that tears were imminent.

Why do happy occasions make me cry more than sad ones?!

I should’ve been ecstatic. All weekend I had people coming up to me screaming, crying, and asking me to sign their books…and their breasts. I had people telling me they loved me, my kids, my social media, my blog, and that my humor and writing had saved them.

Yes, I should’ve been ecstatic…And I was-until I wasn’t. And so I found myself alone in my hotel room after a weekend filled with compliments, and empathy, and love, crying until the glue from my ridiculously long false eyelashes dissolved, repeating over and over again, “I don’t want to be a widow anymore, what the  fuck am I doing here?”

It was around that time Lauri came to my room to escort me to the ball….maybe I should nickname her, “Prince Lauri,” anywho, there I was crying my false eyelashes down my face in between declarations of: “I don’t want to be a widow any more!” when in came Lauri with hugs and high cheek bones. I busted out the mini liquor bottles.

I don’t know how much time had passed or how much liquor had been drank, but as the sky got dark I found myself engulfed by a story Lauri was telling me about a brown leather jacket.

The gist of it was, that years ago she had fallen in love with a brown leather jacket that she could not afford. She would go visit it a few times a week, try it on in front of the department store mirror, and then put it back. She did this for months and looked forward to each visit. One Christmas her husband bought the brown leather jacket for her and she wept. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that she wasn’t crying tears of joy; she was crying tears of disappointment. She was crying because she would miss the hope she had when going to visit that brown leather jacket.

As I chugged the last part of my mini vodka bottle she ended her story innocently with, “You know… sometimes you just have to learn to appreciate the dream that doesn’t come true.” That statement really got to me.

No one was at Camp Widow because their dream had come true. All of our dreams had been mutilated, thrown out, and disintegrated while we stood helplessly on the sidelines. I realized that I have spent a lot of time focusing on the death of my dream and the death of my John; instead of appreciating the fact that at one time I did have the ability to dream, and I miss that. I haven’t been brave enough to dream again yet specifically when it comes to romantic love, but on the drive home the next day, I realized that when Lauri had found me, I was crying while sitting on a bed. Not a bathroom floor, not a carpeted floor, not laying in the bed, but sitting upright.

My next goal is to cry standing up. And then after that? Maybe I will dream of love again.

©Michelle Miller 2017


Michelle Miller is a grief blogger, has essays featured on TheRumpus.net and OurSideofSuicide.com, and is the author of, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors: Forty-Six Tales about the Collision of Suicide Grief and Dating. Her memoir chronicles the aftermath of her husband’s infidelities and suicide in 2014 at the age of thirty-one, and how she used dating to run from, and simultaneously into her grief.
Prior to her husband’s death, Michelle worked full time with special needs students in a small town while balancing life with two young children and a volatile marriage. Her approach to grief is one of extreme empathy, humor, blunt honesty, and….okay, a few cocktails along the way.
Michelle is currently living with her best friend, and their five children in San Diego, California. She is working on her second book, Ghetto Grief which is a collection of short stories about the unconventional ways in which she grieved and continues to grieve her husband; set to be released in 2017.For links to follow her on social media, view her blog, purchase her book, or read her published essays, visit: MouthyMichellesMusings.com