Saturday, December 4, 2010

Flashlight Walking

I still sometimes feel like my world is “out of sorts”. I think that sometimes I still have moments of adjusting to my “new normal” I will say this, I am not “flashlight walking” anymore. For the longest time after losing Donnie, I was flashlight walking.

It was like when we would go to the beach with my Mom to search for sharks teeth. We would get there before sun up and walk with our flashlights along the beach. You couldn’t see any further than where the flashlight shone at your feet.

As we searched for sharks teeth on the beach, we were focused on only the spot in front of us that we could see. But as time passed, the sun started to appear on the horizon and you could see just a little more. Gradually the sun rose into the sky, shining a little bit of light at a time until it was high in the sky. And at some point during your walking, you almost didn’t realize how much the sun had started to illuminate your surroundings. You had been so focused on just your feet and the next step that you didn’t see the light of the sun rising around you. It was slow and gradual and when you finally looked up, you realized that you could see up ahead again and it was almost surprising how far you could see. Even though you “knew” the sun would come up, you didn’t quite expect it.

That is what the last 20 months of my life have been. After losing Donnie, I couldn’t see or fathom my future. I could only see where I was standing, because my path and my future which was a lighted path before, had now become dark. I couldn’t see up ahead anymore. The lights had been turned off and I was alone and afraid. I could only focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Only where I could see with my “flashlight” And I focused on just that. Sometimes I couldn’t move. I stood still, searching for the courage to take another step. I was scared to move forward. Donnie was behind me and each step I took felt like it was taking me further away from him. So when I felt like that, I would turn and run back to my grief. There were times I tried to rush ahead, hoping to see. But I was just left alone and lost in the dark. So back to the flashlight I went. I found out there was no rushing thru the grief. I had to go thru it. I have walked that path with that flashlight. I took one step at a time. And over time, just like the sun rising up, I started to be able to see just a little bit more. A little further ahead. Head down, I trudged forward. It hasn’t been easy, but I have kept going. And as the sun rose around me, I could see a little further ahead just a little bit at a time. It has been slow and gradual, just like the sunrise. And now, as I stop to look around, my path is bright again. As I look ahead, I can see my future again. I see my future again (for the most part)  atleast I know which way I am heading .

It is bittersweet. As I look forward to my future, I smile. I am optimistic about the path before me and I am happy. But at the same time, it makes me sad too. I can see my future and Donnie isn’t in it. And for many years, he was. It doesn’t mean that I am not happy with my choices. I am very happy with where I am in my life and where I am going. It just means that I miss him. I can’t see the future I had planned before Donnie got sick anymore. I can, but it is only a memory of where I thought we would be now. It has been a long journey to get to this point. At times I don’t realize how far I have come. Until I turn around and look behind me.

And as I turn around and look behind me, I see the broken path that I have travelled to get to where I am at now. I know that Donnie was there and how far he travelled with me, even when I felt alone. I remember the conversation we had about him wanting me to continue to live my life and move on. I feel him there urging me to go ahead. Pushing me to continue going forward without him. I know that he is there smiling and telling me it is ok. It’s ok to let go, it doesn’t mean I am forgetting. It just means I am accepting my life and continuing on.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Donnie's birthday was Thursday.  He would have been 46.  Sometimes, it feels like forever and other times I still can't believe I won't ever see him again on this earth. Our wedding anniversary was Sunday.  It's been a rough week for me.  Although he left us way to soon, we were very blessed to have shared our lives with him.  Happy Birthday in heaven Donnie.  We will always love you and still miss you every single day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I haven’t been writing as much lately. And with that, it seems I have had more moments where I am struggling with stress. I think that is part of my problem. My writing gives my feelings an outlet. It puts words to the fears and random thoughts in my mind that I can’t say out loud and helps me sort out my feelings. Seems lately I have been holding onto to all of those feelings and fears and stuffing them down and not accepting and dealing with them. By not dealing with them, they stay with me and continue to haunt me. I have heard the expression “the grief that does not speak, doubles” .

Since Donnie was diagnosed with cancer, my whole world changed. I was cruizin along thru my life and things were good. That is how they were supposed to be. And then WHAM, someone yanked a rug out from under me and turned my world upside down. And if that wasn’t bad enough then they dropped a house on me!!

I hate what that did to me. As a person. I hate how it changed me. It made me afraid. I have lived in fear for the last 3 years . And I hate it. I have this awful feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes it’s like I am waiting for it to happen. And it makes me crazy. As I am sure it does others around me. This fear can get a grip on me and drag me back into the dark. I have to confront this fear and move past it. I don’t want to live in the dark anymore. I want to live in the light.

The fear comes and it goes. Seems it has been coming more than going lately. I think more so because my life is good now. I am happy and content. Fear whispers in my ear that when things are good, bad things happen and it can all be taken away. It taunts me. I know it isn’t a rational fear, but whoever said grief was rational?

I will say this, there used to be a time when all I wanted to do was crawl in the bed and pull the covers over my head and stay there with my grief and shut out the world. It was so easy to stay there . I held onto my grief like a warm blanket. I felt that it connected me to Donnie. Now I know better. I have learn to in a sense let go of some of that grief and I am living again. I guess the fear is a sign of me living my life again and finding happiness. So maybe in some small way, it’s a good thing.

I was told so many times that “time will heal” I don’t agree with that wholeheartedly. I think time makes you stronger. And that strength helps you to deal with the grief. I think that some people see me now and think that my happiness cancels out the sadness of losing Donnie. I AM happy now but at times I am sad too. He was someone I loved very much and he is gone. If I lost my grandparent or parent or child or sibling or friend, no one else could “take that pain away” or replace them. If you lost a child and had another, do they think that the next child would take away the pain of losing the first? why is it when it is a spouse/ signifigant other do people feel that if you fall in love again that the other pain is gone? Love is love. There is no difference.

I was afraid to move on with my life but I have and I am glad that I did. I miss Donnie and I love him and I will always love him. But he is gone. he was taken from us. And I have found that my heart is big enough to find love again  And I know that I am strong enough to accept and embrace my new life without losing the love and memories of my life before. I like to think that would make Donnie smile.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I haven’t been posting as many blogs lately. It’s not that I haven’t been writing. It’s just that I have made the choice to keep some parts of my life private. Over the last 2 ½ years, I have made the choice to make mine and Donnie’s journey a public one, for several reasons. One reason was to keep family and friends informed of Donnie’s progress and I continued because of the help that it has provided others. I have been an open book all of this time. But now, I am moving on to a new chapter in my life. It is hard enough to move on with my life without the scrutiny of being under a microscope. It was hard for me for quite a while being judged by some for moving on with my life. But I have come to terms with it and it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. No one else has walked in my shoes and I am ok with the path I have chosen.

Donnie’s diagnosis and losing him was the most difficult thing I have ever faced. The last 2+ years have been the most difficult of my life. But I hope that I am coming out of the other side a stronger person and a better person. One who is more understanding, more patient and more loving. I think that I have a better appreciation for life and the people in mine.

I am moving forward with my life and I can honestly say that I am happier than I thought I would be again . I never thought I would find happiness again. Even with my happiness, the grief is still there. It isn’t that razor sharp searing pain that it was a year ago but it’s still there. I think it will always be. But I am happy again. I still miss Donnie and still find myself thinking, “ I need to tell Donnie that” over things he would find funny. And I still find myself thinking “ I need to ask Donnie, he would remember”. And as soon as that thought crosses my mind, I am reminded that he is gone. And that ache is magnified again. Being happy doesn’t take away the fact that I miss him. One has nothing to do with the other.

I could sit here and still write about poor me and how awful it was and dwell on what we went thru. But if I learned anything from all of this and especially what I learned from Donnie is that my life is too short to just lie down and play the victim. Even after everything that happened, I still consider myself very lucky. I have been very blessed. All the pain, the tears and all the heartache of losing him was all worth what I shared with him.

But, now it is time for me to find my future. I can’t live in the past. I will take Donnie’s memory with me always. But I can’t continue to bring his ghost with me. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone but me. I will always carry him in my heart, but it is time for me to move forward and in a sense, let go of the future we had planned and find my new life that he wanted so badly for me. To find that same new life that I want for myself too.

If I am always looking behind me, I can’t see where I am going.

So all I can do is keep moving forward. Not only do I think that Donnie would approve, I think he would be happy for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

400 days

I have lived 400 days without Donnie. So many things have happened in those 400 days since he left. I have missed him every day of those 400 days. I have wanted to call him a million times to tell him something or ask him something. Justin just finished his 2nd semester in college. Courtney is going to her senior year of high school. Caley is talking up a storm. Shantel has found love and happiness in her life with a good man. And I have managed to get thru these last 400 days and I am still here to tell my story. 400 days ago I would have told you that I would have never made it to this point. I couldn’t even imagine an hour ahead much less a year. I would have told you that there was no way in the world I would ever smile again. I would tell you that I couldn’t go on and move forward in my life without Donnie by my side. I would have told you that I would never be happy again. 400 days ago our world changed 100%. Our “normal” was taken away and we were forced to adjust and even accept this “new normal” that we live each day.

People sometimes still walk on eggshells around me. Afraid to mention Donnie’s name in fear of it “setting me off” or making me cry. Some still treat me like I am broken. They think if they remind me of Donnie by speaking his name it will make me sad. It would make me even sadder to pretend he never existed. It’s hard for me to understand why talking about him seems “awkward” for people who knew him and loved him. It doesn’t make a difference if they talk about him or not, I still know he is gone. I am faced with that everyday. Someone speaking of him doesn’t spare me from knowing and remembering that he is gone. Maybe those people can “hide” from the fact that he is gone because they didn’t see him or speak to him every day. I have been constantly reminded of it every day for the last 400 days. It’s not something I can hide from. It is my reality. But I have accepted it. It hasn’t been easy. I have accepted this reality because I have faced it and still face it every single day. And in that acceptance, I made the choice to keep on living and move forward. What other choice did I have really? I could have stayed in bed I guess with the covers pulled over my head and shut out the world. Lord knows I wanted to for a long time and there are days that I still want to do that. But I didn’t and I choose not to do that. I choose to live my life the way that Donnie wanted me to. He wanted me to continue living even though it meant without him. I couldn’t hide from my grief I had to confront it and move thru it. It’s not something that you can hide from. It will find you.

400 days. Seems like and eternity.I think about how much my world has changed in these 400 days. I couldn’t imagine what today would be like. I have travelled a long and treacherous path of grief and self discovery. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I learned in those 400 days, life goes on, no matter what. The world doesn’t stop for your grief. You somehow find a way to move forward. I will never “ be over” losing Donnie, I will ALWAYS grieve for and miss him but I have found out and accepted that I am still living . I have found someone who makes me smile again. If you would have told me that 400 days ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. And I would have been wrong.

Monday, May 10, 2010


The bond that Caley shared with Donnie was amazing to say the least. You know for the quite a while, I was angry with God for giving Donnie cancer. But after time I realized that God didn’t give him cancer. God gave him 18 months. Donnie came into our lives when Courtney was 3 and without even trying, became their “Daddy”. He was an amazing Daddy. He was there for it all, the little league, the dance recitals, the doctors appointments and school plays. He didn’t miss a thing. He was a natural. But often times I felt guilty for denying him biological children. His answer to me was “ we already have kids” . I truly believe that if we had been able to have biological children that he wouldn’t have treated them any differently than the ones we had already. He was a Daddy and he raised them. They were no longer, my children. They were our children.

After Donnie died, I was talking to one of his friends. Donnie had been friends with him and a group of guys they played golf with for about 5 years. He told me that they didn’t realize that the kids weren’t Donnie’s biological children. He was amazed that most of them didn’t know that. He told me that the way Donnie spoke of them, they were his children. I told him they were. 

Donnie always loved kids but was weary of little babies. Until Caley came along. He walked into that hospital room and picked that baby up and never put her down. He was a natural with her. And he got to experience all the things with her that he missed out on with our kids. It was the closest to “his” baby,he would ever have. Shantel and Caley lived with us and Caley was a Poppy’s girl. She always wanted Poppy. The bond between them was special to witness. When Donnie went in the hospital, she didn’t understand. When he came home she just wanted to be on him, in his lap, next to him. She just wanted him. When he died, she cried for him, a lot. It was heart wrenching. She wasn’t quite 2 yet. She didn’t understand where he had gone. She was clingy and sometimes pictures of him would make her look so sad. It broke my heart for her to cry for him. But at the same time, I knew it would break my heart even more when she didn’t. I made a promise to Donnie that she would always know who her Poppy was and how much he loved her. It is a promise I intend to keep. For a long time, she would see his picture and grab it and kiss it and say over and over, “ I love you Poppy”. I would often times call his voicemail to listen to his voice and if it was on speaker she would grab the phone and start saying the same thing into the phone. Telling him how much she loved him. Just in the last few months she has stopped asking for him. She sees his picture, she knows who he is. But she doesn’t talk about him like she used to. It breaks my heart for what she is missing out on by not having this special man in her life. I know he is with her and he watches over her though. The other day she was with me and I was getting ready to go somewhere and she was just playing as I was getting ready and it was like she had an “Aha” moment of her own. She almost caught her breath and turned around to me and asked “Mimi!!!! Where is Poppy?!!? I was speechless for just a second and thought that I had heard her wrong. I said “what?” she asked matter of factly again “where’s poppy?” I told her that he was in heaven, watching over her. And that seemed to satisfy her question. But watching her, it was like she remembered that he was supposed to be here. Not just that she remembered who we told her he was. It had been over a year since she had seen him. It was quite the bond that they had. How amazing is it that she still remembers?

I was angry with God for quite a while. I was angry that there are serial killers and child molesters walking the street perfectly healthy. I wanted to know why Donnie. It took me a while but I came to realize that God didn’t give Donnie cancer. Satan did. And when the doctors gave him 4 months to live, God gave him 18 months to be the Poppy that he was and experience what he had given up to be a Daddy to my children. What a blessing for God to give him. He deserved it, he was always such a blessing to us.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Today is a good day. It’s a beautiful day. Here I am on day 375 and I can say that today I am ok. When I woke up this morning, my first thought wasn’t “Donnie’s gone”. That doesn’t mean the grief is gone. It still waits around the corner for me. Stalking me. I think it will hide in the shadows for the rest of my life. BUT, I am ok today. Today I stand strong and grounded and blessed. I am grateful for the blessings in my life. I am grateful for Donnie and what we shared. My friends and family and even the kindness of strangers and I am grateful and blessed.

I have been wanting “normal” back in my life for the last 2 ½ years. But I have come to the conclusion that I won’t ever find that “normal” again that I had before. And FINALLY, I am ok with that. I am ok with things not being the way they were before. I don’t think I will ever feel that “normal” again. And I quit fighting it. No, I didn’t want to be a widow. No, I didn’t want anything to do with what it meant that I would go thru. But I am a widow and I have accepted that. I can’t go back and change anything. I can’t go back and capture that “normal” that I had before. I can only work on and accept my new normal. It feels good not to fight it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t exactly the path that I would have chosen to travel in my life, but it was the path that I have been given. I am choosing to be ok with the new normal that I have given. It’s not always easy, but I am OK with that.

Yes, today, I am ok. Today I am happy. Today I laughed, today I smiled and today I appreciated how lucky I am. And I won’t take for granted the things that are important and the blessing of TODAY.

Donnie’s death didn’t destroy me. I am still standing. And when someone asks today, how are you?, It won’t be a lie this time when I say, “I’m ok.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

one year

Dear Donnie,

Wow, one year. Most people say that can’t believe it has been a year already. I can’t believe it’s only been a year. It seems like forever since I have seen you.

It’s been a while since I have written you a letter. It isn’t as easy to write you letters as it was before. It’s gotten harder. It isn’t that I don’t want to talk to you or don’t think of you every single day. I remember for the first 6 or 8 months, I wrote them to you all the time. My words and my tears spilled on to the page. I cried all the words I wish I could have spoken to you. I still speak to you in my heart. It’s just so different now. My life is so different than when you were here. What a difference a year can make. If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be able to function again thru a day and even smile, I would have told them that they were full of shit! Now there were people that told me that time would heal my pain and I can say that is bullshit. The pain is still there. It isn’t as raw as it was a year ago but it still hurts

The pain of your death changed me. Have I healed? Some, I guess. I would say that I have more learned to cope than heal. My hearts been stitched up, but will always bear the scars of losing you. I think that I held onto the pain of losing you for so long because it was the only way I knew how to hold onto you. The grief and the pain connected me to you. I felt like if I was miserable, that was me being loyal to you. I associated that with being loyal to us and all we were supposed to be. I feared happiness more than I feared loneliness. It was so much easier to curl up in bed and shut out the world. I hated waking up every day. But each day I got out of bed, put on my fake smile and kept going. And slowly I realized that I have so many reasons still to live. I realized that I had to let go of that pain to ever be able to move forward in my life. I am finding me again and I know that you are happy for me.

The guilt of living without you is still there. not as much as before ,but it is still there. I can’t help it. I feel guilty for smiling and being happy. I know what you would tell me. You would tell me that I have no reason to feel that way. You would tell me that you want me to be happy and that feeling guilty won’t change anything or bring you back. And you would be right.

I still find myself wanting to call you and tell you things. I will hear about something and think immediately that “ I need to tell Donnie that” or “ I need to ask Donnie that, he will know”. You always made me feel so confident in my own decisions. I want to ask your advice all the time. But I have come to learn that I am on my own now and have to make decisions alone. It’s funny sometimes how you come back to me in a memory. I will be totally involved in something and a memory will shine bright in my mind and make me smile. I am glad that I can think of you and smile.

So many times I have just wanted to ask you a question. I know what you wanted for me. But I have to ask one more question. Do you mind? I know that you watch over me. I know that you see me. Do you mind that I am moving on with my life? I swore to myself that I never would, but I am. Do you mind that i have found my smile again? Do you mind that I can now picture my future without you in it? Ok, that’s more than one question. But the truth is, I know the answer to all of these questions that I have asked. I just wish I could hear you say the words.

But here are a few things that I want you to know.

I will never forget you. You are in my thoughts and some of my sweetest memories. You touched my soul and loving you changed me and made me a better person. Losing you changed me too. I love you and will love you forever, nothing can change that. I have been afraid to say goodbye to you. But I know that I have to. I miss you. I miss your laugh. I think that is what I miss the most. That and watching you play with Caley. It breaks my heart sometimes to look at her growing up because you aren’t here to see it and be part of it. I know you see her but I hate that she won’t “know” you. She is missing out on so much by not having you in her life. Moving forward is hard. The kids miss you terribly. We are all different without you. But we are going to be ok somehow.

Your life meant so much to so many people. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to share such an important part of my life with you. I am thankful to have been your wife.

I know as I move on that you are somewhere near me, smiling. You taught me to be willing to take risks, so here I go. I hope that you are proud of how far I have come in this last year and I hope you know I will take a part of you with me wherever I go.

I love you

Always & Forever


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the ring

I took my wedding ring off a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t thought out or planned. I took it off when I was painting and put it on my dresser not thinking much of it at all. I just didn’t want to get paint all over it. I finished painting and showered and picked the ring up off of my dresser and stood with it in my hand. It held so much for me. So many memories and so much love shared. I remember when Donnie and I spoke of getting engaged “one day”. One of his friends had bought his girlfriend this elaborate expensive ring. I told him not to dare spend that kind of money on me. I didn’t need it. All I needed was a band and him and that was enough for me. He informed me that if I wanted to marry him, I would get what he gave me. I will say that he did a good job picking out the ring. It was beautiful. Simple and understated, just like me. I didn’t need a ring that screamed from the rooftop saying LOOK AT ME! It suited me, perfectly.

So here I stood 12 years after the day that he gave me that ring and I made the decision not to put it back on my finger. I hadn’t planned it. It just felt like it was time. It was time for me to move on. I am not Donnie’s wife anymore. I am, but I am not. I am his widow. My hand felt like it was missing part of itself. That ring has been on my hand for so long. But my heart knew that it was time and it knew that with or without that ring, I will always have what Donnie and I shared.

So I took out the small ring box that held Donnie’s wedding ring and put mine inside beside his and smiled and knew that is exactly where it was supposed to be. They were meant to be together. Just like he and I were .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

my first year as a widow

Even at the end of his long battle with cancer, Donnie’s death was a jolt to my soul. It shook my world and my faith. Although I was thankful his suffering had ended, the searing pain of losing him was unbearable. I just knew that I would never recover from such a loss. It is a long and painful and lonely walk thru the grief of widowhood. There are no shortcuts, no matter how hard you look for them.

It’s been one year since I began this journey into widowhood. It was very surreal to me. Planning the funeral were my first steps. It’s the first thing of many that I would have to face without him. After so many years together, your lives are intertwined so much that you can’t imagine a huge event without them by your side. But there I was standing in the front of that funeral home alone with everyone else’s grief over losing Donnie projected at me. It was overwhelming to say the least. I couldn’t think rationally. All my mind kept screaming was “this can’t be happening to me”. As the service ended, people filed to the front and pay their last respects. As they all walked by me, I knew that this was it. It was over. A wave of grief shook me. I knew that wasn't him in that coffin, he had left me days before, but it was just the finality of it all. I was a widow. I was no longer the person I was before. I was different. I had been different for the last 18 months as a cancer wife. Now I was a cancer widow. I broke down, I shook, and I wanted to scream. I wanted to wake from this nightmare. It was the end of the beginning of my walk into widowhood.

There was a numbness in the next couple of weeks as everyone is around and helping to hold me up. Then one day, they are all gone and I was left standing there again, alone.

In the days that followed, I was going thru the motions. Trying every day to do what everyone was expecting of me. Struggling everyday to get out of bed. Trying to show them all that I was ok. But all the while, having a huge part of me missing and second guessing my every decision. The smallest tasks seemed monumental and each day I wondered how I could possibly get thru one more. There were days that I felt, I might be getting a handle on things and then the very next day or sometimes even the same day, my world would come crashing down around me and the grief would overtake me. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. The grief had taken its toll on me and I had detached myself from the world going on around me.

There were times that I was angry. I was angry that the world was still moving on all around me and I felt that mine had stopped and was standing still.

I am a widow. Those are hard words to say. It's even harder to see the reaction from someone when you say it. I am a young widow. People don't expect it from me. I don't fit the stereo type of what a widow should look like. I hate saying it. I tell people I lost my husband. I lost him, like I can't find him at the mall or something. I could not run away from the awful truth. I am a widow. He is gone and I will never see him again. I had an aha moment of the obvious to every one but me. I had spent so much time missing him that I had not focused on the obvious, that I would never see him again. I remember the first time that I said the words out loud. “I will never see him again". My voice quivered and my heart broke. I knew he was gone and had been mourning him being gon,but uttering those words was very profound. It was like saying it out loud made it all real. Like if I didn't say it, it wasn't real. It was accepting the fact that he was truly gone. It was 27 weeks when I said those words out loud. Almost 7 months.

Never again would I see his smile or hear his laugh. Never again would I gaze into those baby blues. Never again would I feel the warmth and safety of his arms around me or his fingers intertwined in mine. Never again would I see him walk thru the door at the end of the day or sitting next to me at the dinner table. Never again would I hear him say I love you or kiss me goodnight.

I don't know who I was trying to convince more that I was ok. The world, or me. Maybe I thought I could trick myself into believing that I could do this. You know, fake it till you make it? I longed for the day when the most menial chore didn't overwhelm me. Widowhood causes quite the identity crisis. Who am I? He and I were one unit. Now half of me was gone and I had to figure out who was left here. Not only was I mourning losing Donnie, I was mourning the loss of myself. I was lost I knew where he was. What I didn't know was where to find me.

I am made to feel that because I am young, my life will go on so nonchalantly like I am recovering from a broken leg or something. Donnie and I had 13 years together. I am compared to women who were married 40 years and told how much more they must suffer than me. Really? Are you kidding me? I am sure their grief and sorrow is very profound but it doesn't take anything away from the sorrow and the grief that I have experienced as well. Grief is grief and pain is pain no matter how you look at it. Just because you think someone else’s pain is worse, doesn’t mean that someone else’s pain is non existent.

As time went on I learned better to cope. Although I still felt the gaping absence of him not being there, I learned to get thru each day. There were many days all I wanted was to have him be able to tell me, it’s gonna be ok, you will make it thru this. I wanted to believe in myself as much as he believed in me but that wasn’t easy. But as time passed, I kind of learned how to do things on my own again. Regardless of the lie that time heals, it doesn’t heal. I just became more accustomed to him not being here with me. I didn’t have a choice but to figure things out.

I have been thru all of the stages of this beast called grief. Shock, denial, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Acceptance took the longest of them all. It was also the most painful. I have finally accepted that he isn’t coming back.

I have been desperately searching for “me” for the last year but what I have come to find is that I won’t ever find the “old me” again. I have changed. All of this has changed me. I miss the innocence of the old me. I miss the optimism that I had. But at the same time, I have found pieces of the person that I was and in all of this has emerged a “new me”. Just a different version of the old me. I have more of an appreciation for life. I don’t worry about the things that don’t matter anymore. I am actually kinder, more compassionate, understanding, less judgmental and more loving. Sometimes I am a little more scared, waiting on the other shoe to drop. But hopefully in time, that fear will fade. I am so much more than just a widow. I found Robin again. I have missed her. I have learned to accept myself for who I am and quit beating myself up over the mistakes that I make. I am only human. I know in my heart that everything I do is with the best intentions.

I am moving on and finding happiness again. I am not broken. I have just walked a bumpier path than most. But that is ok. I am stronger for it. I am finding my new life and my new beginning. And most of all, after all the heartache and everything I have been thru and even though it sounds crazy, I am so very blessed to live the life that I have.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Grief is NOT a rational emotion. I will make you lash out at the ones you love the most. How much sense does that make to lash out at the people who love you? It can make you project your grief at them in anger because you are hurting and don’t know how to deal with it on your own. I am ashamed to say that I realize that I have done this more than once. If I have done this to you, I am sorry. It’s not something that I even realize that I am doing at the time, but realize afterwards. BUT, I guess the good thing that comes out of this is that I realize what I have done this and am working really hard to get that in check. Its hard to forgive myself for that but I know I am human and I make mistakes. All I can hope is to learn from them and not make the same mistakes again. So in closing, I will not only ask forgiveness of those that I love but patience to know that I am trying.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Each day brings a memory that takes me back a year. Approaching the one year anniversary of Donnie’s death has flooded me with those memories of where I was a year ago. And these are not the memories that I want to revisit. It has been a year since he went into the hospital. Donnie. He was in so much pain but didn’t want to g to the hospital. That is the only time I ever remember Donnie yelling at me. We never fought and he never raised his voice. He wanted me to go refill his pain prescription and I wanted to take him to the hospital. He yelled at me and told me to do what he asked me to do. I did. When I came back, he called me to his side and sobbed and told me how sorry he was. I told him that he had nothing to be sorry for. He had done nothing wrong. I knew it was the pain talking, not him. I asked him what he would do if it was me. He told me he would make me go to the hospital. I asked him what the difference was. He told me that he would go.

Looking back now, it’s painful. We had no way of knowing that when he checked into the hospital that day that he wouldn’t come home until it was with hospice. And even though I know it is in no way my fault, I feel terrible for making him go. I made him go check into that hospital and he didn’t come out until it was time for him to go home to die. I made him go. I made him go and they put him thru all of the tests and surgeries and the treatments and he didn’t even want to go to the hospital. He did all of that for me. He suffered thru all of that for those 7 weeks because of me. Because he knew I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him yet. How do I live with that?

We were both thinking that they would get him fixed up and in a day or two he could go home. They kept telling us maybe in a day or two, then maybe next week. Then we got to the point that we didn’t even ask anymore. He was there for a month. And in that month, I watched that fucking cancer take him from me, one day at a time. I lost a little bit of him each day he was there

It is these memories that are haunting me. These are the memories that cloud my mind right now. They replay like a movie in my mind that I can’t turn off. I. The smallest thing will spark that memory and I hate it. Donnie’s life was so much more than it was those last 7 weeks. That is what I am need to be remembering.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who I Am

 Who I am

I can honestly make the statement that I am ok with who I am. I make no apologies for who I am and the choices that I make. I am ok with them. One thing I have learned is that it is perfectly alright to be the “me” that I want to be instead of the me that others want or expect me to be. I am human. I make mistakes. And you know what? That’s ok too. Because I know that everything that I do is with the best of intentions. I don’t have anyone else besides God and myself to answer to. I don’t have any regrets. Each laugh, every love, each moment of joy, every hardship, every mistake I have made, every tear I have cried, each moment of sadness, every smile, every disappointment and every moment have helped to shape who I am today. And I am good with that. Honestly, I wish everyone else was too, but can’t say that I lose sleep over the ones that aren’t. I know who I am and it’s a pretty good feeling to be perfectly fine with that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I have been slowly going thru the process of going thru Donnie’s things. Hell it was 7 months before I could throw out just his toothbrush. It’s a lot harder with everything else. I know that it is part of the grieving process. I know letting go of Donnie’s “things” is a part of acceptance. Accepting that he isn’t coming home. There is that Damn word acceptance again. It’s been haunting me for a while now.

There is something about knowing and “knowing”. It sounds crazy to most but it’s true. Letting go of Donnie’s stuff is me knowing and accepting that he won’t be back. Most of his stuff has been in the same place for the last 40 weeks. Hasn’t moved. Clothes in his closet and in his dresser. I don’t go in there, but I knew that it was there. I did take a good bit out of his closet for the kids blankets but for the most part, it stayed the same. I still have the same box sitting there from when my brother cleaned out his work truck. Everything that was his that was in that truck, still sits in that box, untouched. I still have the box of personal items that came from his office too. It still sits in the same place that it was since I brought it home. Maybe I haven’t had the desire to go thru those things because that was a different part of Donnie that I really didn’t know.
I seemed to have really reached a turning point since the holidays of wanting to be happy again. Finding a way to move on with my life. Maybe that is why I have decided that it was time to start going thru his things.
I had already changed the house so much. I had to. Although it was “our house” . I had to make it “mine”. If I didn’t, I don’t think I could live there. It wasn’t that I was trying to take Donnie out of the house. I just knew that it hurt too much to leave it the same. I had to make it “mine.” So I did. I painted and then I painted some more and changed a lot. There are still memories of Donnie there but the house is “mine” now. It has to be.

Going thru his things is another step in making the house mine. I started with his dresser last week. I couldn’t bear to part with his LSU socks. I gave them to Justin. Then came his shorts. Anyone who knew Donnie knew that he rarely wore pants. The shorts were going to be tough to get rid of. I stood there with the bag in my hands, I took the shorts out of the dresser. As I took each pair out, I could picture Donnie standing there in front of me. Putting them in the bag was hard. Harder than I could have ever imagined. I think the only way I can describe it is this,, they are only “things” but these “things” are all that is physical that you have left of the person that you lost. They are the only things that you can actually put your hands on and touch. They are your last physical contact to that person. And getting rid of those things is like getting rid of a part of the person that you lost and you are losing a connection to them. I know it sounds stupid and completely crazy but I guess that is the only way I can make sense of it. I kept telling myself as I put each pair of shorts in the bag, they are only shorts, but my mind kept saying “ but they are Donnie’s shorts”. Silly as it is as the last pair went into the bag and I tied it up, I cried. I cried for all of it, for loving him, for losing him and now for feeling like I was saying goodbye to him all over again. Getting rid of his clothes is the final step in letting him go.

Then came the kicker. In the top of Donnie’s dresser was a stack full of greeting cards. Birthday cards, anniversary cards, just because cards, Valentines cards. I think it was every card I had given Donnie over the last 4 or 5 years. He had all of them right there at his fingertips. I knew that we had some older ones but I didn’t realize that he had kept so many of them and thought so much of them to keep them so close to him.

When I finished his dresser I had 2 large garbage bags there, full. Now what? Now what do I do with them? They sat in the same spot in front of that dresser for 2 days.

Shantel came in the room and asked me, What is that? I told her. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said in shock “you are getting rid of them?!?” Wow, dagger to the heart. I told her yes, that I had to. I had to so I could move on with my life. He can’t use them anymore . She said “I know”. I told her I was sorry . It can’t stay the same . Tears in her eyes she looks at me and says “ I just miss him’ Yeah baby, I know. I just miss him too. But all in all, she knew, she understood. We all miss him. But they want me to be happy again.

2 days later when I got off of work, I went to see him. I talked to him. Like I always have. I told him how much I missed him. But I told him that I was trying. I told him that I know that he wants me to be happy and that I want to be happy and I am taking steps to be happy again and that I know that is what he wanted and that I know that he would understand.

I went home and laid in my bed and I cried. And I cried some more. And then I dried my eyes and got up, grabbed the bags and across the street into the goodwill dumpster they went. It was bittersweet. It was sad to let go of them but it was a release at the same time. I don’t know if that even makes any sense. I need a clean slate to start over in my life. I guess this is just part of me wiping the slate clean. All of his things don’t connect me to him. My heart does. I don’t need those things anymore. I have accepted that he is in my heart and will always be. Holding onto material things doesn’t keep him there. My love for him does.

Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.

So one major step for me. I still have those work boxes to go thru and I need to finish going thru his closet. I know it won’t be easy but I know it is what I need to do. It is my way of letting go.

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

finding my smile

I find lately I have found my smile again. Not that I haven’t smiled in the last 40 weeks but my TRUE smiles were few and far between at times and when I did I would feel guilty for it. I am smiling again like I haven’t since I don’t even remember when. It feels good to smile.

Maybe it’s because I finally decided that I needed to quit beating myself up for enjoying myself and for trying to move on with my life. A friend of mine told me it was time to “cut yourself some slack”. I knew that. But maybe I just needed someone else to point it out to me.

I have hung on tightly to my grief like a warm blanket. I felt that it kept me close to Donnie and if I tried to let it go it was like letting him go and losing him all over again. I felt if I let go that it would mean that I was forgetting him and what we had. Now, I know that these are not rational thoughts, but who ever said grief was rational anyway? I know now that Donnie will always be with me. I can’t hold onto that grief that way any longer.

I have decided that I deserve to be happy again. It’s what I want. And I know it’s what Donnie wanted for me as well. He didn’t want me to feel guilty for still living when he couldn’t. But feeling guilty is what I have been doing and I think it is about time that I stop. Me feeling guilty or standing still in my life won’t bring him back. I have come to the realization that I still matter. I have spent so much time taking care of everyone else my whole life that I didn’t know how to take care of myself or do for myself. But it’s time now. It’s time for me to be happy. I’m getting there.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In his memory

I can’t help but think about all the people who have gone before me on this path and those that are traveling the same path as I write this and the sad fact that there will be so many more that will face the same challenges. What a sad thing that this cancer is. Any cancer. I am saddened by the thought of so many people being afflicted with this disease. My heart breaks for the children, parents, brothers, sisters, for the husbands and wives and friends and family who this disease has affected.

I have met so many wonderful people thru Donnie’s illness that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Honestly I wish I would have never met any of them. Because it means they are facing cancer. Most of them share the same common bond of a spouse who has cancer or that has passed away from cancer. I have corresponded with so many wives and even other cancer patients who have told me that my writing has helped them to see how their spouse may feel. It is amazing to me the feedback that I get about what I write. I write for me. I write to release the emotions and thoughts and feelings that are pent up inside my head and heart. And as hard as it is to, I continue to post them and put them out there. These writings are my most intimate thoughts and fears. Yet, I display them for the whole world to see. I am sharing with everyone and anyone who wants to read my joy, my pains and my sufferings and my journey through this whole process.

It’s not always easy posting for the world to see what I am feeling. The ups and downs and the highs and lows of this journey aren’t always pretty. My thoughts and fears aren’t always rational. There are times that I am ashamed of the way that I am feeling or thinking. But yet, I still continue to put this out there. I was asked by someone why I do this? Why do I put myself thru reliving what most people would want to forget? It’s a good question. So I ask myself, why do I do this? Why do I expose myself this way? There are those who may judge me for those feelings or not understand. But honestly, those people don’t matter. It took me a while to come to terms with that. I am ok with the person that I am and the choices that I make. Do I always make the right choices or the best decision at the time? No I don’t, I’m human, we all are. But I am still ok with who I am. I know why I do this. I do this for those wives and husbands who have the same thoughts and fears that I had and still have. I do this so they don’t think that they are crazy for feeling the way that they do. I do it so they know that there is someone else out there that knows how they feel. I would have given anything to have had the support of someone who could have told me that I wasn’t crazy for feeling the way that I did. Unless you have walked this path, you can’t imagine feeling some of the things that I have experienced and felt. I never felt so alone in my life. I know what it’s like to feel alone in a room full of people. I can only hope that I can ease that feeling for someone else.

So in answer to my question to myself and anyone else who may want to know, I do this in memory of Donnie. The things that I post and the conversations that I have privately with some of the people I have come into contact with aren’t always easy conversations. But I am an open book and will share with them anything that they would like to know about my experience and of Donnie’s life and death. It is my tribute to an amazing man that I was lucky enough to have been loved by and call my husband. If I can help others to travel this difficult road that is before us then maybe Donnie’s death wasn’t in vain. If I can inspire others, then I will continue what I am doing. I would like to think that I have helped others, even those not traveling the cancer path, to see that sometimes the little things in life are the most precious and not to take them for granted. Maybe all of this is part of my healing process.

I hope as I continue on this journey that I find my way again. I hope that I give others hope that even as hard as it is, somehow you can find yourself again and learn to smile and be happy again. My wish is to give people HOPE!

Donnie touched so many lives. He affected everyone that he came into contact with. I know the impact the he had on my life and that of my children. I still miss him terribly. I am a better person for knowing and being loved by him. So as I continue with my outreach, I think to myself of the lives that Donnie is still touching thru me and it doesn’t surprise me, that’s the kind of person that he was. I think he would be proud.

Monday, January 11, 2010

living again

It’s been 27 months since I started grieving the loss of Donnie. 27 months ago we heard those 5 words that changed everything. “It’s not good, it’s cancer”. It’s been over 2 years since we heard those words. Even then, I didn’t know what today would hold, but we knew that our time was limited. Initially it was projected that Donnie would have 4-6 months to live. We were very fortunate to have had 18 months together after that fateful day.

I guess my point in all of this is realizing that I have been grieving for over 2 years. After Donnie was diagnosed, I was grieving the loss of our life as we knew it. I was grieving his health as I watched it decline. I was grieving the entire time for something that I knew was coming and could not change

I was grieving the loss of our carefree life. I was grieving the loss of innocence in my children. Their innocence that believed that Daddy would always be here with us. I was grieving for our future plans and shared dreams that we had that we knew could never be.

I have never felt so helpless as I did in those 18 months after his diagnosis.

I have been grieving the physical loss of him for the last 39 weeks. Part of me will grieve for him the rest of my life. I will always miss him and love him. He is such a part of me. I can’t change that.

I guess the reason that I am writing this is because of everything that I have heard about the grieving process. All the stages of grief. How time heals and numerous other things. I think most people think 1 year is the magic number. After a year, it will be all better. How can you put a time table on this? How can any one person tell another how they are supposed to mourn their loss or for how long? Each person grieves differently. Some in silent, some openly. Who are we to say which way is right? Just because one person grieves openly doesn’t mean that they hurt any more than the person who is hiding it.

I am working on the “acceptance” stage of my grief. I remember the first time I uttered the words out loud “ I will never see him again”. It was 7 and a half months after he died. Such a truthful statement but I had been so focused on my own grief that I had not truly comprehended that thought. I know that sounds crazy to most people but to others who have been down this road will understand. When I spoke those words out loud, you can’t imagine how it hurt to say it. Even though you know someone is gone, it is still hard to admit to your heart. Even though I had known for 18 months that I was losing him. Admitting he is truly gone is a huge thing for me.

I don’t expect people to understand my grief process. My hope is that what I share with people helps them to understand tolerance and how hurtful it is to judge people in my position. But what I have learned in all of this and have finally accepted is that there will always be people who do judge me because they don’t think that I am grieving “correctly” no matter what I say or do. I have learned not to care what those people think. And I don’t judge them for thinking whatever they think about me. I am thankful that they aren’t in a position to know how they would behave if this happened to them.

I didn’t die when Donnie did. I certainly wanted to for a while. I’ve been grieving for the last 27 months. I want to live again, not just survive. And in my heart I know that Donnie wouldn’t fault me for that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I am being told by so many people after my last blog how proud they are of me and how proud Donnie would be too.

I won’t lie and say it’s easy. By far it isn’t easy moving on in my life without him. I have been holding onto my grief as my connection to Donnie. I can’t do that anymore. I don’t want to do that anymore. I think part of me felt like if I try to let go of that grief that I am going to forget him or not love him anymore. I know that isn’t the case.

BUT with that being said, actually letting go of my grief isn’t as easy as saying it.

I really want to leave this grief behind. I want to move forward in my life. I try every day to count the blessings that I have been given. It can be difficult, that is for sure. But I am working to focus on the now, and what is good in my life. But that grief can still sneak up on me and drag me back to those places that I don’t want to go. And sometimes it is when I least expect it. I will be rolling along thinking that I am getting a handle on things and here it comes jumping out of the shadows and slamming into me again. But I think what is finally starting to happen, is that after it slams me to the ground and knocks the wind out of me, I manage to get back up. Sometimes pretty quick, sometimes longer. But that desire to keep getting back up is being fueled! So I think that is a good thing. It doesn’t mean I am not still sad for losing him. Part of me will always be sad for losing him and there is a fracture in my heart that will never heal. But I’m not broken. And I don’t want to be treated like I am. I have to learn to live with this fracture but it doesn’t mean I need to be fixed. That starts a whole new train of thought.

I can’t be fixed. No one can wave that magic wand or put a band-aid on me and make everything that happened disappear or make me forget Donnie. Because if that is the case , I definitely don’t want to be fixed. Loving Donnie and even losing Donnie helped to shape the person that I am today. I don’t want someone to “fix” me or “make me forget” or “rescue” me or whatever. The only thing that I want is acceptance. I am who I am, scars and all. This is me and I like who I am. No amount of happiness now can change what I have been thru. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy again. My future is only possible because of my past. I will never “get over it”. All I can do is keep moving forward. I am still “flashlight walking” and can only see a couple of steps ahead but I am still looking ahead searching for that brighter light that allows me to see beyond today or tomorrow. Hopefully I will see it soon. Maybe one day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


A New Year. I can’t believe it’s a new year already. But at times, the last year was the longest of my life. 2009 was by far the worst year of my life. I faced challenges that I never wanted to face and had my world shattered.

The New Year is supposed to bring hope and the promise of starting fresh. I am not making any new years resolutions. Not really. I am hoping for the following things this year. These are my “Goals”

My goal is that my genuine smiles will be more frequent.

I hope all of my memories of Donnie are good memories of the times we shared together and not just last year.

I want to find a way to smile thru those memories and not cry quite as much.

I want to continue to help others who are facing the same struggles that I have faced with my writing.

My hope is that people will stop treating me like I am broken or that I need “fixing” and treat me like I am “Robin” again.

I want to find a way to truly move on with my life and find my new normal.

I hope that people will stop judging me for trying to move on with my life. And even if they do, my goal is not to care if they do and to forgive them for being so judgmental. For I am thankful that they haven’t had to walk in my shoes.

My goal is to live everyday to it’s fullest and not take a moment of this life I have been given for granted. I want to make Donnie proud of me. I think he is.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a new year

Dear Donnie,

Here I face yet another holiday without you. I am remembering last New Years Eve with you. As we danced and your arms were around me, I knew in my heart that it would be our last. I tried to soak up every memory and every moment of what exactly that felt like. I tried to embed the feeling of your arms around me in my memory so I could reach in and revisit that memory whenever I wanted to once you were gone. I remember what it felt like. I never felt more safe in this world than when I was in your arms.

Facing this New Year without you is scary. Some days I don’t know how I will get thru. But it is on those days that I reach into my memory bank and revisit those memories to help get me thru. Still knowing and still believing that you are still with me all I have to do is close my eyes to see you and feel you there.

Thank you for so many wonderful memories to choose from. I miss you everyday.

I love you

Always and Forever


I wrote the following a few months ago but wanted to share it.

When you miss me

When you miss me

Close your eyes

I know you can’t touch me

But can you feel me?

I am there with you

In your heart

holding you close

When you miss me

Close your eyes

Stop for a moment

remember how we met

And how wonderful it was

Falling in love

When you miss me

Close your eyes

Remember that laughter

the tears

the life we had together

And know how blessed we were.

For the love we shared

When you miss me

Close your eyes and listen

I am there

I am the whisper of the wind

Saying I love you

And wrapping my love around you

When you miss me

Close your eyes

And forgive me

know that I didn’t want to leave you

But it was time for me to go

When you miss me

Close your eyes

search for me

I am still there

Helping you to go on

wanting you to go on

Giving you the strength

To find your place in the world without me.

Author: Robin Reynolds