Monday, September 23, 2013

Sun Shine Down

I have a vivid memory of a specific evening back in 1996.  I was living with my family in Kiev, Ukraine, and I had gone over to my friend Gillian's apartment to hang out for the evening.  I was seventeen, she was twenty-one.  The age gap at that point made her a grown up, me still a kid, but I totally looked up to her and she treated me like I had the maturity of someone that she wanted to hang out with.

I think that maybe the electricity had gone out in the building, which was not an uncommon thing to happen, because I was reading by candlelight, and she was writing.  She had this really beautiful leather bound journal that she liked to write poems in.  We had this perfect flow, like waves coming in to the shore, where we would read and write for a bit, then visit for a little bit, read and write, visit, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.  It was a delightful evening of connection.

She told me that night that she wanted to write a book.  Well, she backpedalled, she said that she liked to write in that journal, and wanted to fill it with her own poems, so that someday she’d have written a book of poetry.  She said it, holding her journal forward.  It was as though saying that she wanted to write an actual book was too big of a dream to even admit to.

Last week, I went on Amazon and ordered the memoir that she wrote.  It came in the mail today.  I can't put it down, it's so good.

When I was seventeen, I had no idea that I wanted to write a book of my own.  It wasn’t even an idea, much less a dream.  But, it is now, and once again I’m looking up to her.  She had a dream, she focused.  She made it happen.  And now, she gets to hold her own book in her hands.  She did it.  I’m unbelievably proud.

Friday, September 20, 2013


On Wednesday night, I sat at a coffee shop with a man who had been widowed only two months.

I have spent time with other widows before, but never a widower, and never with someone whose loss is so fresh.

There’s camaraderie in people who have lost a spouse.  Our stories are all different, but there are some things that are just so the same about loss.  Some things that we all just get.

He wanted to know how long it was that I wore my wedding ring.  How long before I was able to go back to our old haunts?  How did I handle my in-laws?  How long before I went back to work?  What was it like for me to run into people who didn’t know the news?

I have no idea if it was helpful for him.  I have to give myself lots of grace in this area.  I spent a lot of time beforehand, just praying for his broken heart, and praying that I wouldn’t say the wrong thing.  I have no idea if I did just that (say the wrong thing).

What was interesting was what it brought out in me.

I was surprised by what it looked like to see someone so freshly grieving.  He is still struggling to not say “we.”  It hasn’t sunk in yet that he is now an “I.”  I had forgotten what that was like.

What was most remarkable, though, was, what it literally “looked like.”  I felt like I could see his emotional pain physically on his face.   He would say something and wince.

 I wonder if that’s how it was for me.  I don’t know what I looked like.  I didn’t watch myself, as most of us don’t see ourselves as we’re talking.  I didn’t look in the mirror much at all; I just didn’t care about anything.  The way I looked was so arbitrary when I was hurting so deeply.  I can’t think of one photo of myself from the whole first year of widowhood.  I wouldn’t allow myself to be photographed because I couldn’t stand to see myself without him standing next to me.

Wednesday night was hard.  I wanted to give him hope.  I know that that’s not my job, but I wanted to so badly.  Yet, I sometimes feel like I need to give myself hope, too.  That’s what I struggle with the most.  I wanted to tell him that it gets better.  It certainly will get better than what he is feeling right now.  But, he will never again be the man that he was before his wife died.  Sometimes I think that it’s an amazing gift, widowhood.  The depth of who I am as a widow is so beyond who I was as a wife.  And yet, if I could choose to go back to the naive, care-free girl that was married to Sawan, if I truly had that choice, its pretty tempting to think that I would choose it.

I guess its good that we don’t get to choose.  That someone else does the choosing for us.  Otherwise, what a boring, vanilla world this would be.  In the meantime, we move.  Move towards hope.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ugg Boots, Comfy Sweaters and Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Usually, when September hits, I feel this immense sense of relief.  I feel like I can say, “Suck it, August.  We’re through for another year.”  But this year has not quite felt that way.  I’m a bit discouraged.  I feel a bit down, like August still has its power over me, or something.

I’m just kind of blue. 

But, the weather has finally started to cooperate here in Denver.  We’ve had a few days of true autumn type weather around these parts, and it’s getting my head in a better space.

I got my Ugg boots out.  I’m wearing my favorite Free People long sweater.  It’s rainy and cloudy (not quite what you would expect to be just the ticket to cheer me up, right?) and I’ve been listening to Neil Young and Jackson Browne  and other fall favorites (not sure why Fall=classic rock).

I fell in love in autumn.  I find that I feel nostalgia for my husband in a whole new way this time of year.  Even though this time of year makes me miss him more, it gets me out of the trauma space in my head a bit, and that feels like a welcome respite.

So, I raise my Pumpkin Spice Latte and say, “Welcome, Fall.  I’m so glad you’ve come.”

I posted this on Instagram yesterday, saying, "Hello, old friends."