Been a little bit of an emotional week for me. On Sunday I learned that a woman I met at Camp Widow’s fiance passed away. This was 4 days after she has just posted a picture of flowers he had sent her with a card telling her they would “Live in Color together” (live in color was the theme of our camp). She wrote in her post about the amazing support from him post-loss. You see, 6 years ago this past Monday (yes, one day after her fiance died) her husband passed away. Her fiance came to the camp, with his 3 kids and her 2, wearing matching rainbow t-shirts they had made and did the 5k together. It was amazing. And gave me hope. And to know that just a few weeks ago they were working on this amazing journey together and now he is gone is heartbreaking. It brought up every feeling I had when Mark died. Thinking that she was going through that again made me feel broken. This person, who I basically barely knew, her heart was breaking… FOR THE SECOND TIME… the thought to me was just unfathomable. I always sort of feel like I got my fair share of badness and I shouldn’t get anymore, but that is not guaranteed. And that is scary. Knowing I might put myself back out there and lose someone again. At camp, each camper got a ribbon on their badge to identify how long since your loved one died. Some people had 2 ribbons. I hated looking at those badges. It reminded me that those people had risked their hearts twice and had them broken twice.
And the bottom line is, it just made me miss Mark. I remembered what it was to have him here, and then not. But then this amazing thing happened. This extraordinary woman posted some more on facebook… and one thing that really struck me was the following message “You have no idea the amount of happiness you brought into my life.” BAM! Like a ton of bricks. I get it. Look at the blessings in my life from having had Mark in it. The pain was worth it. The only reason it hurts so bad is because it was so wonderful. I am lucky to have had him and I will forever be grateful for the person I am because of him. It hurts thinking about the amazing things he could have done and been for the kids… the impact having him HERE could have had on them. I continue to work hard to talk about him and keep him here for them by playing his music, trying to do things I know he would have done, and loving them enough for both of us.
So please put up a prayer for my twice-widowed sister. Hopefully with all of our prayers for peace she will feel her blanket of grief get a little lighter.
So I am back… I honestly don’t really know if I could even accurately convey how my weekend at “Camp Widow” impacted me because (not to be rude) most of you just wouldn’t understand. And I think that is the bottom line. I was in this magical place where I didn’t have to explain myself. I could speak openly about Mark and about his life AND his death. I wasn’t afraid to be honest about how now, even almost 2 years later, sometimes I can still feel the pain as much as I did that day. Nobody pressured me to “move on.” Nobody made me feel like I should be “over it” by now. All my feelings, whatever they were now, in the past and will be in the future, were just what they were. No need to explain or justify. I was understood. And I was not alone.
This idea of being alone is sort of a difficult one to explain because, I am never really alone, right? I mean, I’ve got 3 kids and so literally I am virtually NEVER alone. But yet I often ‘feel’ alone. I have what could be easily considered the most amazing supportive family ever. Yet many times I still feel alone. And I think what makes it hurt SO much for me is thinking about Mark that morning. All. Alone. Surrounded by love, but unable to feel it. It absolutely breaks my heart in a way I could never explain. I often imagine that morning (realizing with pain that I will never know the reality of that morning) and what Mark felt. What his thoughts were. And thinking about how he couldn’t even come to me because he knew that if he did, his “plan” would not happen. But it all comes back to me thinking about him being alone. Going through this horrible, desperate, terrifying plan all alone. Even now I wish I had been able to somehow comfort him in his final moments. Wondering if he truly felt alone in those moments, and knew he was leaving us for good. Regretting it? Or grateful that the pain was finally ending? It is thoughts like this that are the most painful of all.
And this is why finally being in a place of not being alone meant so much more to me than people can understand. It is so much more than I can put into words. I was inspired by each woman I met who have been down incredibly difficult roads and somehow made their way towards healing. I know it isn’t always easy, but going to this camp was another important part of my journey. Making these connections to other widows, those who have had a similar path, and seeing them able to have joy, gives me hope. And knowing my story and I are now part of their journey is an honor. As was said many times last weekend, ‘it is a club which nobody wants to be a member’ but I am grateful for each of the ladies I have met on this journey. When I first heard of this camp, I felt compelled to attend. And I believe the reason was for me to meet many of the people I connected with. While many of the workshops were awesome and the keynote was absolutely amazing, it is the connections I made with others that were the highlight for me. It is like working all day on a crossword puzzle and finally figuring out the last word to complete it. Connecting with this new community was that for me. It was my missing piece.
So, to say I came back a little emotionally overwhelmed is an understatement. On top of that, my baby’s 5th birthday was on Wednesday. Yep, another milestone without Mark. The day was fun, but there’s always this time of sadness when we realize who’s missing. Wishing he was here, most of all to see how much these kids are growing up. Thinking of all the cute things they say and do that he is missing. Feeling grateful for all that I am here for, but also resentful for those who seemingly still have it all. Trying to remember my own advice to the kids that “every family is different” and it’s okay that it’s just mommy and them. But sometimes it’s exhausting and difficult and I just want it to be easy again. I’ve gotten off to rambling again which I think means it’s time for me to go to sleep… please appreciate what you have. There are so many people out there who would love to have it.