Change stinks. Like the first Christmas morning waking up knowing the magic is gone. But it’s not really the magic that has changed, what has changed is your understanding of the magic. Gone is your naivety, and in its absence appears a new knowledge of how the world works. That behind the scenes “magic” becomes an awareness you didn’t really want but must have in order to progress, to grow.
I had planned on writing on a different topic today. You see I started writing first to understand where I came from. Where I had been at the points of time I had written. To understand my progress, my successes, and my failures. When I expanded to a page dedicated to my grief process, Waiting on Superman, I wanted to continue in my self-discovery and learning how I was walking my own path of grief, but I added a new layer. I wanted to help other women dealing with the loss of their spouse, their love. Being added as a member of the blogging community for the Hope For Widows Foundation, I have an even bigger desire to reach other women, to help them know that while each of our paths is unique, we are not alone. We can reach out to each other, we can be there for each other and maybe even bigger, not just for each other, but helping us all rise to inspiration in our own communities. Widow warriors, reminding our communities you can rise from your pain and help others. But with that desire to help comes a weight I carry, that my words won’t reach each of you the way you need to hear them, or the way I meant them logically, or the way my heart wanted them heard.
The real me is in fact a jumbled mess of emotions most times, I am driven and capable, but vulnerable and weak, hilarious and smart, and boorish and dull. And full of fucking cuss words. (For the love of Pete I cannot stop cussing some days. No matter how hard I try it just spews out of me. I have a theory that cuss words are the adjective of pain, anguish, frustration. So that is why some of us use them, they are necessary. Probably not in this post, but maybe future ones, I will pepper the shit out of my blog with them. Please don’t be offended, read past them, know I have a point that only those words can convey.) Anyhoo, I want to help others. I feel like most of the time I have expended an incredible amount of energy carving a huge swath of a path for myself and my children. A path which enables many outcomes for each of us, but guides each of us to success. I spend most of my time exhausting myself trying to find the right answers, the right approach. But even with the best intentions, there will be moments of failure.
Today, on my Facebook a memory popped up. You see, a year ago today was the beginning of football season. My husband was a football coach, a football player. In his prime he was almost 6’7”, 385 lbs. All lineman. All heart. He was built to play the game. Big shoulders, strong legs, massive arms and hands. As a coach, he was charismatic, energetic, knowledgeable, an incredible motivator, and a good listener. He knew what is was like to be around men who would shape you and he wanted to help the kids he coached become the best they could be. He coached at the high school level. I think if he had made different choices, I think he was smart enough and experienced enough, he might have been able to coach at the college level. Maybe higher, maybe. We won’t ever know why fate dealt him the hand it did. But what I do know, is that the kids in our community were the beneficiaries of his heart and love for the game. Especially our son and daughter.
So last year I wrote a heartfelt passage about how I felt, maybe I wrote hoped, our children would learn to love the game of football. Allowing the memories of something their dad loved to flow through them, build them up, and drive them even further. How I hoped what they shared with him would continue on in their lives. How I hoped our son would find inspiration in the game his dad was good at and loved. How I envisioned him playing the game for his dad. What it felt like to watch our son walk down the steps to the football field, for the first time – without our hero, our Superman – his dad.
I could not have been more wrong about how we would all end up feeling about football by the end of the season. See I mentioned that Steve was a high school football coach, but he was also our son’s football coach. They had spent hours, probably weeks if I added all the time up, discussing strategy, the game, statistics – all football, all the time. His first season without his dad was painful, not just for him but for all three of us. It was the opposite of everything we had all ever experienced. It was a deep cut on a fresh wound that I didn’t see coming. It was the first time I would see our son rebel at his dad’s memory. And that is ok. It was the first mistake I made, allowing the three of us to so eagerly walk into that space which would throw each of us back into deeper turmoil. I spent many months punishing myself for not realizing this would upset and stall our grief process.
Today though, I reread those hopeful words I coined only a year ago, the words of what I believed they would both find, that I would find. All that blame I have been casting on myself vanished. You see, I felt like I should have known it would be too much for us. I should have been better prepared, I should have shielded us from the pain. Our son doesn’t want to ever play the sport his dad loved again. Our daughter can’t stand to watch it on tv, especially when it is his alma mater who is playing. And the mere sight of a helmet, football pads, or even a simple football, brings an ache to my heart that is so deep I am shocked I am able to continue to bear the onslaught. But I do, and so do our children. After all, the core of that game isn’t brute strength, it’s a fighting heart. I know we will find our way back to loving that game, because we all three are living, breathing examples of the heart it takes to keep fighting. The heart he exemplified every day. Never give up, battle on, we ARE warriors.
And like I said, it’s ok we aren’t ok with football right now. It’s ok that his son needs to step away, and it isn’t my fault for not knowing how it would affect us. I can’t protect them from their pain. I know I need to go through MY pain, feel it, live it, understand it so that I can be the best I can be. But so do our children. No matter what age you lose your dad, it is devastating. Of course as mothers we want to protect them from pain, but I can’t shield them from walking their own path because it hurts. Change is hard. Realizing behind the mirage of success there exists work, wisdom, a deep humbleness, and a willingness to learn – well that is really the magic. Understanding that there is no one way, one perfect path. There are many ways and many paths. Some people are going to judge your way, it’s ok. They have no idea what they are talking about. But take it a step further, learn to embrace the ways of others. Cheer them on, you never know you might be their only cheerleader. We all need more support and less judgment. By learning to embrace my successes and failures, I hope to continue to draw our children with me, to the hope. Through the pain, away from the darkness. Back to light, where change makes you anew, not in the darkness where change makes you haggard. The choices are ours. Keep going! You are amazing.
The song I leave you with tonight, may not mean as much to anyone as it does to the three of us, but tonight my post was mostly about my heart, so it seems fitting to leave you a song that makes me feel empowered, nostalgic, and miss my big guy oh so deeply.
“The Boys of Fall” – Kenney Chesney