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.