Monthly Archives: July 2015

Do I Say His Name ……

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…… too much?

You’ll have to bear with me …… because just asking this makes me cry.

I wonder …… do I mention Jim too much?
Not in everyday conversation with friends.
But in conversations with other men.

I have to pause every time I type that question …… because I really am shedding tears.
Jim is as much a part of me, as I am a part of me.
We met when we were 20.
We married when he was 23 and I was one month shy of 23.

We grew up together.
We thought we’d grow old together.

We really did grow up together.
We married one year after we graduated from college.
We were babies.
Though we didn’t know it.
And would’ve bristled at that thought.

We became parents at the age of 24.
We were so young.
We had our whole lives in front of us.
Or so we thought.

So now, when I find myself getting to know someone …… specifically, a man …… I find myself talking about Jim.
Not a lot.
But when a man shares a memory with me …… a memory that Jim shared with me …… I talk about that.
When someone shares something in common with Jim, I comment on it.

It’s not that I’m comparing the two men. I truly am not doing that.
It’s just that my past and Jim’s past are so intertwined, that I can’t help but identify with someone …… even if it’s from Jim’s identity.

Does this even make sense to anyone?

When a guy tells me that he loved growing up in a very small town, I can totally relate, because Jim loved that, too.
And I say that.

When a guy tells me that he loves “Caddy Shack”, I tell him that Jim did, too, and I recite Jim’s favorite line from that movie.

Is that too much?
It doesn’t feel like it …… at the time.

We grew up together. His past is intertwined with mine.

I’m not comparing one man with Jim.
I’m just noting what they have/had in common.
It feels natural.
To me.

But then I stop …… and wonder.
Does a man really want to hear about another?
Does a man realize that it’s not a comparison, but a likeness?

I don’t know.

I hope so, but I don’t know.

Yes, of course I miss Jim.
With all of my being ….. with all of my heart and soul …… I miss him.
But I don’t expect to find him in the form of another man.
I try not to compare them.

In mentioning him, I’m just thinking of the ways that they’re alike.
Which is a positive thing.
In my opinion.

But in the eyes of another man …… I don’t know.
Is it too much?

Should I stuff every memory of Jim way down inside?
Should I work hard to refrain from mentioning him …… and anything that they might have in common?
Should I shut the door on common memories?

I have to admit …… that I hate this part of “dating” …… of getting to know someone else.
I hate that I have to stop and re-think my natural response.
I hate that I feel like I should censor anything about Jim.

And I especially hate that I find myself in this position.
That, because he’s dead, I’m meeting men.
I.
Hate.
That.

But there I am.
Meeting men.
Trying to figure out what to say.
Trying to figure out what to share.
Trying to figure out what not to say.
Trying to figure out what not to share.

This is not where I was supposed to be.
This is not what I was supposed to experience.

But here I am.

It is what it is.

And I’m doing my best.
My best includes mentioning Jim.
It always will.

Maybe I’ll meet a man who’s ok with that.
Maybe I won’t.

Either way …… I’ll be ok.
Truly ok.

It is what it is.

Not Your Ordinary Camp ……

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…… is Camp Widow.

I know …… the name is suggestive of a hotel full of little old women, wearing black and sitting in rocking chairs.
Well, the word “widow” is suggestive of that.

Until you become one.

Not at first.
At first I think that most people hate that word. I did.
Because I wasn’t old and you’ll rarely find me sitting in a rocking chair.
My husband was dead, yet I still felt married to him.
I was not a widow, thank you very much.
I was not one of “them”.

Then came my first Camp Widow.
Only it wasn’t called that the first year. It was called the National Conference on Widowhood.
Yeah, we all know it was a blah name.
Which is why it was changed before the weekend was out.

The name wasn’t important to me.
The experience was.
It was full of laughter, tears and more laughter.
Outsiders would never guess what we all had in common.
Never.

After that first weekend of spending time with over 100 people in the same boat with me, the definition of the word “Widow” started to change.
I loved every person I met.
And I still do.
They are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Each year I look forward to seeing them again. And again.
We love, and hate, the reason that we all love each other.

We are widowed.
And so much more.

Now I embrace that word. Because to me, “widow” means that I’m a survivor.
I’m still here.
And I’m strong.
I’m living as fully as I can …… because Jim can’t.
And because he loved me.
He would expect nothing less.

The definition didn’t change overnight.
It took time.
Sometimes it felt like forever.
I wasn’t always sure that I’d get to here.
Sometimes I’m amazed that I did.

And all of the time …… I’m glad I did.
For Jim.
For our kids.
And for me.

God is good.
All the time.

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Life Is ……

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…… something I never, ever thought I’d say again.
Ever.

Life is …… pretty darn good.
All in all.
All things considered.

I’m 7 1/2 years “out” from Jim’s death.
I will never be happy that he died.
Of course.

But I am happy.
Ironic, no?

Of course I’d give everything up if that would bring him back, but …… it won’t.
So I’ve chosen to move forward.
And to live life the way I would have wanted him to live it.
Fully.

I know that I am beyond blessed to be able to live my “after” …… my “second plan A” …… fully.
He’s responsible for that.
He planned ahead for the unimaginable.
He always took care of me …… of our family.
And he still does.
I will love him fully …… to the moment that I draw my last breath.
And beyond.

And who knows? I may love another man that same way.
I’m ok with that.
And I know that Jim is, too.

I’m in love with the city where I’ve chosen to live.
Beyond in love.
I am absolutely crazy about New York City.
Head over heels.

Who knows how long I’ll live here? I have no idea. I’ve learned to not plan too far in advance.
But right now, in this moment …… I want to live here.
And so I do.

I’m in love with all of my children and where they are in their lives.
It’s been a very, very long 7 1/2 years.
It’s been a long and arduous journey with some of them.
But right now, at this moment in time …… they’re doing well.
They are thriving.
None of them are perfect.
But neither am I.
And neither was Jim.
None of them live perfect lives.
But neither do I.
And neither did Jim.

I don’t wish for them to live perfectly perfect lives.
I wish for them to live fully, to live to their utmost.
I wish for God to lead them and for them to follow.
Whether they do or not is up to them.
I will love them unconditionally.
As a parent should.

I love being able to connect with widowed people.
I love helping them know that they are not crazy, wrong, or alone.
I love giving them hope.

I love that I’ll be doing that at Camp Widow West in a little over a week.
I can’t wait.

Life is something I never thought it would be again.

Life.
Is.
Good.

And I am blessed beyond measure to be able to say that.

Thank you, Jim.

Thank you, God.

Walking on the Surface of the Sun ……

…… is pretty much what walking around Universal felt like.
I kid you not.
It.
Was.
Hot.

But in spite of the heat, we had fun.
In fact, I would even dare to say …… that, aside from our very first family vacation, which took place back in July of 1993 …… this was the second best vacation we’ve had. Now, I have to tell you that back in 1993 we only had five (5) children, and everyone was under the age of 9. They were all at a great age for a vacation …… meaning that they hadn’t yet developed the whining reflex, nor turned into pre-teen/teenage grumblers. They were easy to please and were happy doing whatever we were all doing.
Ahhhh, the early days.

That was our very best vacation ever.
This was our second.
I learned that it’s great to live long enough to experience a vacation with adult children …… who are finding out that they like each other.
Will wonders never cease?

The only sad part is that Jim didn’t live long enough to experience it.
Yes, some would say that he still saw it …… that he knows how we’re doing.
I’m still not sure about that, though I’d like to think so.
I hope so.

So, for all of you parents of teenagers …… or children who act like teenagers (God help you) …… there is light at the end of the tunnel/teenage years.
Trust me …… if nine (9) people (more like 8 1/2 since Little Bit was there) can get along (for the most part) on vacation …… there’s hope for you.

We all flew to our various homes yesterday. Son #3 and I flew to Houston, where I left my suitcase packed, did laundry, and packed another bag.
Oh, and we picked Gracie up. She was pretty excited to see us, though I know that she had a great time with my friend Amy and her family. I have no doubt that her two daughters spoiled Gracie Lou and treated her wonderfully. Which made it easy to leave her in their hands.
But I was glad to have her back.

We left for the airport at 7:00 this morning.
Yawn.
And now Gracie and I are both happily ensconced in our apartment in NY. I spent the better part of the afternoon unpacking and organizing everything.
It’s great to be back.
So very great. ūüôā

Gracie did well on the flight today.
Gotta love those doggie sedatives.
Very much.
ūüôā

So here are random pictures from the trip.
Enjoy.
Or just click away now.
I wouldn’t blame you.

This is in Diagon Alley from Harry Potter World.
The dragon spits out fire every 10 minutes or so.   Which is kind of cool.
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It stormed the first two afternoons, but only for a short amount of time.  The second day it started to hail as we returned to the hotel from the parks.  This is a piece of hail.  On a very hot afternoon.   So very weird.
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This was the sunset after the hail storm.  It was lovely.
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This is a pitcher of booze from Margaritaville.  Hopefully you recognize the lyric to the song.  If not, you can Google it.                                                                                              
Or not.  
Whatever floats your boat.
This was a very good margarita.
Or three.
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This is one of the roller coasters at night.  We rode it more than once.
I love a good roller coaster.
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This is the fireworks show on the 4th. ¬†They have fireworks every night, so I don’t think these were anything special, but they were still good.
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This is Daughter #2 with Little Bit.  He was pretty wonderful the entire time.  Especially when you consider the fact that he was in a stroller on the surface of the sun for three days.  He never got upset while in the parks.  And he enjoyed the pool.  As did all of us who swam every afternoon.
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That’s all of the pics.
At least for now.
Hopefully that didn’t bore you to tears.
If it did, sorry.
Not really.

Just be glad that I can’t figure out how to upload my videos.