This is a guest blog written by my Redneck after my visit to see her and her amazing kids as they passed the one year mark post loss. The words are all Kristen. The subtitles, however, are mine.
Enjoy! And thanks wifey for letting me in and letting me hug you.
Third time’s a charm, right? I have sat down two other times focused on writing this, but came up with an unfinished product that didn’t do this topic the justice it deserves.
Today’s topic…the bond of widowhood.
Like many widows who came before me, and (unfortunately) many who will follow, I have experienced the dynamic shift of strong friendships post loss.
(…Shit…tears from the bedroom…pause to go comfort a grieving kid who misses her dad…45 min break to settle kids, 15 min to respond to a work email that needed done tonight, and 15 min to plan out my week…it is now 10:05 and I’m circling back where I was awhile ago…)
In lieu of writing about those shifting friendships, tonight I’m going to focus on a very special friendship: the bond of widowhood.
Seriously I wanted to run away from her.
Early in my grief journey I found myself searching for someone who could validate the plethora of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that were running through my mind. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed to find another person who had a crumbling marriage, young kids, a LH who completed suicide, AND who was working on moving her life in a positive direction post loss.
I’ve heard many widows state that they often feel alone even when they’re in a room surrounded by people whom they love and who love them. This is one of many completely foreign truths I have learned over the past year.
This is where Michelle enters the picture. I read her story and was immediately drawn to her. In short, she had walked the road I was just beginning, AND she was remarried, with a baby to her Chapter 2 – Round Two as she calls it – all while improving her mental and physical health.
I had just entered widowhood at 32. Loss by suicide which was preceded by infidelity is scary shit…how do you piece your life back together? Is it possible to let your guard down enough to trust ANYONE after that, let alone dissolve that guard to allow a new love to form? Basically, this woman was living the life I hoped to build…I needed to see HOW she did it. Ohhh, except, I have zero interest in having another baby…but that’s off topic.
Our love story is one of a kind!
The special widowhood bond that we have formed (you can read the whole story here) over the past 8 months is truly a once in a lifetime bond. This woman became my rock when nobody in my life was in the position to do so. She didn’t have to, but she did…again and again. I can’t even estimate the amount of messages we’ve sent to each other, or the time we’ve spent chatting.
She knew the 1 year deathaversary was coming…and she decided she would, too. In her previous life, she must have been a clown. The juggling act it must have taken for her to line out schedules for her other 3 children, her working non-English speaking husband, the university classes that she is teaching, renovations/move out of one of her rental units, and make the 7 hour drive across international lines with an 18 month old – ya, a circus for sure! Let that last part sink in for a second. 7 hours of driving, through customs, with a toddler. No. Thank. You!
To hug another suicide widow...there are no words
Except, she did.
That hug the Tuesday night she arrived…it was the strong, understanding, loving kind…the kind that takes the broken pieces and, at least for a moment, squishes them all back together. I never knew the bond of friendship could be this strong. But then, the paradox of widowhood is learning that the human heart is capable of and yearning for deep, meaningful relationships full of love and life. There are no limits on the amount of love a broken heart can absorb…if walls are taken down enough to allow that love to pour in.
I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. I was able to introduce her to a few of the folks who have been instrumental in my grief journey. We canned deer meat from the deer that Timmy harvested a few days prior. We enjoyed walks in the woods and walks while the little one pushed his lawnmower on the street. The weather was absolutely perfect. Even made the time to set up my outdoor office so we could both hammer out some much needed work from my back porch. She stayed long enough to see Jennifer swim her first race in her first swim meet on Saturday. I know NOTHING about swimming…glad she was there to coach me in how to be a “swim mom.”
What she calls me most often is "bitch" and "fucker"
But she loves me so its ok
I call her my “wise ol’ widow,” among other knick names, because she has often warned me of pitfalls, brewing shitstorms, and easy workarounds. She knew the 1 year mark was going to suck. No way around it. Not only was she here for that day, but stayed long enough that she was here for the day that I made all the arrangements as well as the date of the funeral. That’s a huge commitment from somebody with an even bigger heart. Pretty sure I didn’t shed a tear the entire time she was here…and it certainly wasn’t because I stuffed all my feelings and emotions into the society approved “grief box.” We talked about Jory, we said his name, we talked about the good and bad times, and walked through the old house. The comfort that she provided can’t be put into words.
Then, she left. Because we live so far apart, goodbyes are always tough. The day after she left, the emotional hangover hit. I did pull up my big girl panties and I’m poised for a kick ass week of work…which is good, because this is my busiest and favorite week of the entire year. It’s the time when I get to say THANK YOU by coordinating an awesome veterans pheasant hunt for many, many of our nation’s heroes. These brave men and women have endured battlefields with bullets. They have survived…many have thrived. Their heartfelt, misty eyed thank you’s that I get at the end of each of these events puts my life into perspective. A major shitstorm hit me in the battlefield of life. A canook kept me alive, and as I write this, I’m intentionally, methodically orchestrating my life to move it in a positive direction. I would never, ever be at this point today without her guidance, her sympathies, and her ass kickings.
I do not wish this journey on anyone…but if you find yourself slugging down this path, my best advice is to find yourself a Canook and hold on tight.
I am Michelle. Above all I am a mother of four incredible little beings. I am a certified Personal Trainer and Healthy Eating Coach, an educator and a real estate investor. I am a coach who also participates fully as a fitness enthusiast, a runner, and a swimmer. I speak from the heart and have no filter left to tolerate bull shit.