I know it’s been a long moment since I’ve had time to write here. Honestly, since I’ve healed past active grieving, I haven’t had much urge to write about my experiences as a widow. Life becomes fast and insistent, and I am just following it where it goes. 

However, I really wanted to address something that I know is important to the grief community, but isn’t really discussed with those that need to hear it. Since I’ve never been one to really mince with words, and I expect that this blog post will ruffle some feathers. 

I am ok with that.  

I am not ok with the habit of unhealthy grief from other loved ones, aside from spouses, who have decided to blame, ignore and ostracize grieving spouses, because of their own pain, and lack of control over the circumstances. This needs to stop, but I am well aware of how unlikely that is to happen. In any case, people need to understand a few things:

  1. Grieving spouses are not your enemy. They are most often the parent of the child your deceased loved one has left behind, and are often the sole custodial parent of that child. This means that grandparents and uncles/aunts don’t have a say in how they’re raised, outside of the best interest of the child. Without concrete proof that said child is being abused, neglected or otherwise harmed by the surviving parent, there’s very little recourse that can justify harassment, bullying and the silent treatment. Stop doing this. Stop using a surviving child/children as a tool to hurt the person designated as a next-of-kin, for whatever your reason is. You’re only causing more hurt, and will be ultimately rejected by that child when they grow up and realize how you treated their surviving parent. And YOU will be at fault for it. Your anger, pain and loss will not be abated by trying to manipulate, emotionally hurt or verbally abusing the surviving spouse. It will only prolong the pain you have to endure, because you’re actually causing MORE pain to yourself and to others. It doesn’t give you an edge over any sort of relationship, and causes further damage to any ensuing relationship you might have with the offspring of your deceased loved one, and/or the surviving spouse. 
  1. Your loved one’s surviving spouse did not kill them. With the exception of obvious murder, you do not have a right to be angry with them for signing a DNR order, acting as medical power of attorney, or for allowing life support machines to be turned off, in accordance with a doctor’s support. (And that will always be the case) It’s normal to feel angry when you realize how short life was for your loved one. No one should have to lose a parent, a child, a sibling OR A SPOUSE to an untimely death. It is NOT normal, or healthy to misdirect that anger on a person who was acting in the best interest of their spouse. You don’t have control over that decision, and even if you think that you would have made a different one, (despite the advice of medical staff), if you are not the spouse, your only job is to support them, regardless of how much that decision will hurt. Remember that the decision hurts the spouse. They don’t want to say goodbye as much as anyone else. But they also know that avoiding a life with profound brain damage, or dying anyway, regardless of the trauma of resuscitation, is what is in the best interest of their spouse. You can’t hang on to a life that is at its end. No matter how badly you want to keep your loved one alive, you can’t force them to live when the time comes. As much as that hurts, you cannot take that out on the surviving Spouse. It’s wrong, and it’s profoundly emotionally immature. If you can do it, explaining that you need time to process that decision and heal from it is your best course of action. It’s not an easy thing to do, and admitting it to yourself is even harder. However, it’s perfectly normal to want to bargain for the impossible, or even have anger erupt out of nowhere. These are symptoms of the process of grief. Just don’t take them out on the survivors. They won’t be able to change the outcome, but doing so can change family dynamics that you might regret later on, after healing has taken place. 
  1. Stop trying to shame a spouse for having life insurance or money left to them to take care of their family. You don’t get to judge someone for getting a pedicure, or buying a much needed new car. You don’t have the right to bully them for buying 500$ shoes or taking the kids on vacation. You may not like those decisions, and you are well-within your right to vent about it in a healthy way, but you cannot control them. Instead, consider offering support. If they are open to discussing their financial status with you, let them, and then ask if you can offer advice. Buy them a book that can help them navigate their money in a healthy manner, or help them budget, if they ask. However, if they do not ask and do not want to discuss it with you, let that go. Once again, barring neglected, hungry children, you have no power over this. I will say that you don’t have to stay close more than being there for their children, but keep your mouth shut. No one is responsible for your discontent regarding someone else’s decision save for you. And by all means, you aren’t obligated to help anyone out financially, should the need arise. That is something you absolutely have control over. 

Being passive-aggressive towards a surviving parent/spouse helps NO ONE. People in grief make huge mistakes, (I’ve made plenty of my own), but most of the time, they’re just trying to find their way. To a grieving spouse or parent, a relationship with the in-laws is the last connection to who their spouse was, and with people who knew them the same way. I know that my mother-in-law’s home still smells like my husband, and I can always feel his presence there. It’s been a huge comfort for me just to have lunch with my brother-in-law and see his kids. In the earlier years, our kids would meet at Grandma’s house for holidays and it felt good to just be there, among my late husband’s family. Please don’t deny this comfort to a grieving spouse. They need it to heal. 

I know there are tons of variables in relationships. Some people never have gotten along with their in-laws. Some people don’t even know them. Some deceased spouses have had bad, or traumatising experiences with them. Some in-laws have tried to have a healthy relationship with the surviving spouse and it just doesn’t work. All of these things are valid, and I understand that certain relational dynamics just won’t allow for a peaceful connection. I am so sorry for these circumstances. I can only hope that you all heal the best way you can, and find solace knowing that you all loved the deceased the best way you could. You have that in common. I hope it can be a bridge for forgiveness and acceptance for you. If not, please know that your feelings are still valid. For every exception, I pray that there is healing and comfort for all of you. 

However, for a very large chunk of widowed persons, the former is a huge problem and people need to understand it and deal with it. It’s ok to get therapy for yourself, talk to a pastor/professional or loved one, and figure out why you are so hostile towards the grieving spouse. Know that while your pain is valid and anger is part of grief, you cannot take it out on anyone else and harm them with it. It’s part of the process. Even if you think they deserve it, you are only doing yourself a grave disservice by trying to justify it because you’re hurting. It doesn’t help you heal. 

Before I return to obscurity, please note that I am not blaming anyone specific, or trying to project any sort of anger or frustration here. This is just something that needed to be said. And after 13 years as a widow, (still not married!), I feel like I can say it fearlessly.

Peace and comfort be with you.

I had this whole entry planned out, wanting to say something profound and wise for the 10 year anniversary of my husband’s untimely death.

To be honest, this is has been the hardest season I’ve had in a long time. My mind is not exactly where it has been, on these days in the past.

I’ve had ten of them, and it seems that this one is particularly difficult. I can’t put my finger on why, but it’s been really hard this year.

I guess there’s a measure of strange detachment and some disappointment. I was supposed to be remarried, with a new story to talk about. I was supposed to have triumphed over my broken past, bringing hope to all the other widows who come after me, looking for a light in the dark.

Unfortunately for me, things have never been quite been the same. I raised our oldest and saw her graduate high school, enter university and become the adult I always hoped she would be. I watched my youngest turn age after age, coming to milestone after milestone, from her first day of kindergarten to her last day of fifth grade. She’s in middle school now, without a real memory of who her father was, and how much he loved her. I did my best to let her know. I remember sitting with her on my lap, looking at pictures on the computer, asking her “who’s that?” She would always answer “Daddy!” until eventually, she only knew from what I told her, and not her own memory. One day he was there in her life every day, and the next, he was just gone. I guess it’s ok that it hurts me more than it hurts her, but I’ve learned that children grieve in their own way, and his loss has affected my children in ways I never saw coming.

I did what I could to maintain stability within our tiny family, while trying to battle the rest of what life had to offer. It hasn’t been easy. I lost both my parents in since he died, and there have been countless times I have wished only for his companionship, just to help me get through everything. What I’ve learned is that while his memory is comforting, his absence is as obvious as ever. He’s not here, anymore. It’s a simple and real as that.

It stopped hurting to miss him so much, sometime around 7 years. Suddenly, he wasn’t the first thing I thought of in the morning, or the last lingering thought if I happen to fall asleep at night. I still dream of him sometimes. Not in the same devastating way, but I entertain myself with the thought that he comes to see how I’m doing, and lets me know in my dreams. Sometimes, those dreams are nice. Sometimes, those dreams are ridiculous. All of them are ways my subconscious is trying to process and cope with my own loss.

It’s been an interesting ride, to say the least. There was a time when I wanted to grieve perfectly, to make sure I did everything right, in order to somehow win back some of the happiness I once had and prove to everyone that I was a strong and powerful as they kept telling me I was. Now, I don’t care about what people think of my process or how my life has ended up. There are things I wish they would stop doing or saying, but for the most part, most smile when I bring up his name and then we let it go. If that’s all I’m going to get out of the past decade, I’m ok with that. I have the respect of my real friends, who have seen me through this process. What more can I ask for, really?

I don’t have any real advice for widows, the way I used to. When you’re in the thick of it, every day feels like a triumph, even when it hurts the worst. It makes you think that you have a duty to help guide people through one of the worst parts of their life. Indeed, that’s probably one of the greatest things about grief: we have a need to find our fellow grievers in the dark, and we’re all helping each other, in our own little ways. It’s been a GREAT comfort to find other widows and learn from some of them. Especially from the ones who were years out, and way ahead of my own timeline. They had less to say, aside from just reminding me it would be ok, someday. I totally understand where they’re coming from now. Someone else’s “ok” will look different from mine, but eventually, the grief process stops. When that happens, there isn’t much more to explain. Life continues. It’s the most frustrating and comforting thing. You go from disbelief that the world can keep spinning while your entire universe has halted into chaos, to finally realizing that your universe is part of a much larger system, and it’s ok to join it again.

I am making my way back to the real world, from the land of the dead. I’ve spent WAY too long there, even after my worst grief had stopped. I’ve had some delays, dealing with the deaths of my parents. Everything has hurt for far too long, and I can’t really function from that place anymore. I’m in a huge season of letting go of things and people who are no longer a part of my life. I am who I am because of who they were. That’s something that cannot be taken away. But I am also who I am because of who I was supposed to be. I’m learning that widowhood and grief is just one part of my life. It’s not the whole thing.

This time of year will always be difficult. Too many losses within weeks of each other, date-wise. I’m probably always going to need to be extra kind to myself during this part of the year. That’s ok. That’s something I can do, while I live the rest of my life.

And I have to live the rest of my life. My girls are becoming young women, making decisions for the direction of their respective futures. Eventually, (sooner than I might like), I’ll have just myself, and I need to figure out what that looks like. I’m tentatively excited about the prospect. It’s natural for me to be apprehensive, but I won’t let that stop me. I want my long night to be over. Whatever days are ahead, I want them to be mine, and I want to live them fully. Here’s to hoping that I do just that.

Dear Jon,
It’s been way too long since I’ve heard your voice, (which I think is rather unfair, since I believe you’ve heard mine ad nauseam). Either way, I will always love who you were, as my husband and father of my babies. We had a wonderful life when you were in it. I was a happy wife, and I felt like anything was possible when you were with me. Our girls will never forget who you were, and the impact you made when you were here. Your youngest daughter is so much like you. She’s currently excelling in her computer design class. She has your affinity for technical systems and design engineering. She understands binary, and is interested in networking, even though she wants to design video games for a career. She’s very creative. She writes her own stories and goes through sketch books like they’re going out of style. She draws, sings and writes all the time. She can’t stop herself, and it’s my favorite thing. And your oldest daughter understands people with immense amounts of compassion, she could only get that from you. She dances and sings and plays the piano. She speaks japanese, and has an incredible work ethic. She never gives up, no matter how hard it gets. And she misses you. Every day, she misses you.

We are ok. We are living and not giving up. I hope that’s enough, when you look in on us. I hope you see us continuing, and thriving, in the midst of all the stupidity that the world can throw at us. And I hope you tell God that I am trying my very best. I hope you remind Him that I don’t always have the right answers, and a little help now and then would be AWESOME. I’m only bringing this up because I happen to believe you’re in close proximity. I totally ask my parents and grandparents to advocate, too.

I miss who you were. I miss who we were, together. Mostly, I am glad we were together. I’m glad for what we had, even if it was incredibly short. I know the difference, and because of that, I can never settle for anything less than magic. I guess that’s why I’m still here, on my own. 😛

I can’t say what the next ten years will bring, but I hope I’ll still be writing you letters in ten years, telling you about your grandchildren, and graduations. I hope I’ll still be writing you in 20.

I said it when you were dying in front of me, ten years ago, and I will say it again: Thank you. You made my life the best that it ever was. I am forever grateful. I wouldn’t change a thing. Except, of course, I’d rather be telling you this face to face, than writing to you on a blog that I’ve all but abandoned. 

I miss you always. I love you, still.



It’s been a long time since I’ve written here.

I sort of abandoned this blog a few years ago, when I really started to feel the effects that my years of grief had cost me.

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write in this blog again. It started to become too difficult to see the pain of my early years. It was too easy to relive them again; remembering how broken I was, and how broken I still felt. Depression and Anxiety beat me down and I was unable to form a healthy thought, let alone a string a bunch of words together to make them sound like I knew what I was talking about. I was messed up. I had hit my bottom. I lost my mother and my husband within four years of each other, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.


I went to therapy. I made it a point to conquer my demons. I did not want to live under their control anymore. I struggled especially with Anxiety and the idea of leaving my children behind, knowing that the World they lived in was growing more cruel everyday. I felt as though I was cursed or somehow deserving of a horrible future, because all my dreams had turned into ashes before my face.

I was giving up on myself. I was desperate.

I used to dwell on the worst possible scenario all the time. I don’t really blame myself. I lost huge parts of myself when my husband and mother died. I didn’t believe I had a lot of things to look forward to, besides death. And suddenly I realized how real it could be. I didn’t want to die. Not when I had two little girls to protect and care for. But I couldn’t count on the idea that I had dealt with enough. Does anyone? I don’t believe in the concept of “Fair” as others do. I didn’t think I’d be safe from the very worst things that could happen and it was thoughts like those that destroyed me.

And I missed my Jonathan. I missed him like missing fresh air. I had nothing real to look forward to, and to be honest, I was just trying to survive long enough to see my children to adulthood. They were truly my only motivation for living, and continuing any part of this life, good or bad.

And through all my therapy, and experiments with chemical assistance, (SSRI), I only realized that there was no way out of my grief. I couldn’t wait it out and hope it would go away. I had to process it. I had to feel every pain, and experience every heartache. I had to accept they were all important. I had to validate my feelings because they were important. Jon was important. The fact that I was mourning and grieving his loss was important. I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t, anymore.

And still, I felt that I had absolutely nothing to look forward to, for myself. No love, no future, no plans. I just had to keep going. I just had to get up every day and mother my children, as broken as I felt, and then force myself to sleep at night, just so I could do it all again the next day.

I had conceded that it would always be this way. I believed that I would always be alone, missing someone who I believed I would see again…but only at the cost of losing everything else.

It wasn’t a way I wanted to live my life. I was tired of it. The fight was becoming overwhelming. My future was depressing. I had nothing to hang on to; and no one really cared anymore, anyway. Most of my friends were sick to death of my grief. I just pretended I was fine, because I couldn’t face the look of annoyance on their faces when I said anything about it. I was sick of it, too.

I was so tired of feeling heavy-hearted. I was so sick of being jealous of all the happy families I saw at church, or at my daughters’ schools. (There’s really nothing more discouraging than having other parents realize you’re a single mom at Open House) Somehow, my status made me feel guilty – like I had failed at happiness.

I was so isolated. I didn’t fit in anywhere, and I was tired to trying pretend I had a place somewhere.

In retrospect, grief felt very much like a long, dark, dirty tunnel. It’s low and underground, making it hard to stand in. Like the ceiling could push down on your shoulders, just for looking at it. I struggled. I drank. I popped pills when I could. I prayed. I stumbled backwards. I lost my rationale. I lost my temper. I was broken. I truly never thought I would ever find my way out of it. I thought I would always be there, stuck in a tunnel of despair, just trying to make the most of it.

Sometimes, that tunnel would bring a person along the way. They would be like water. A relief in the darkness, where my eyes would struggle to adjust. Sometimes, they would grace me with a hug. And I would remark to myself how wonderful it felt, just to be held for 3 or 4 seconds by someone who didn’t mind my broken-ness. Because when Jon died, all the affection he gave me on a daily basis simply stopped cold. It was gone, and people were afraid to touch me. I was afraid for them to touch me.

And I would forget just how wonderful a hug could be, until someone would squeeze me and remind me. It would keep me going. I would motivate me to not give up.

And I continued forward. In the dark, going forward to what I couldn’t see. I would keep going, for my children, my family, my friends. For myself. I never wanted to give up, because I can’t help but believe in the proverbial light at the end. It’s probably the best part of my nature. I am at my baseline, optimistic. Even in the tiniest way. There is a green little sprout in the bottom of my soul that believes it will all work out in the end. And if it hasn’t…it’s not the end.

And I prayed. I prayed and prayed for release. As a woman of Faith, I knew that prayer was my only lifeline, sometimes.  It sounds very hypocritical for me to admit this, because I complained a lot. I struggled with my worth as a person and as a Christian. I questioned God, but I never expected an answer. He was obviously very angry with me. I must have done something pretty terrible to have to learn such a harsh lesson. And I accepted that because somehow it sounded more rational than possibly admitting that God had a totally different plan for me than I had for myself, and that I had never once allowed Him to manifest it, as opposed to what I went after.

And then one day….I found it. That light at the end of my tunnel. I can’t even pin point the exact day. I just know that I kept praying and kept seeking God, searching for a way out of where I was. Over the past Summer, something broke. Something let go of me, in a way that I hadn’t felt in over seven years. I started having panic attacks again, because things became very stark. I could see very clearly in front of me all the times that I let myself turn on autopilot and move like a robot through weeks and even months of time. I suddenly couldn’t do that anymore. It scared me, at first. I was hyper-aware of it. Who was I? What had I been doing all this time?? Why was I only just realizing this now???

But then it didn’t matter. As the initial anxiety began to pass, I realized that I wasn’t broken anymore. I was finally set free.

I emerged. It was like coming out of the ground in the middle of a cold, bright day. It both disoriented me and felt wonderful. I breathed in the clean, fresh air and I felt alive for the first time in seven years.

My heart is no longer heavy. My soul is no longer burdened. My smile is finally genuine. My future no longer scares me into hiding in my past.

I am no longer grieving. I am no longer sad. I no longer live wishing I could go back into time, if only for one day.

And it’s really weird. I miss my husband. He was my best friend. He was my favorite person. There isn’t a part of me that wouldn’t absolutely rejoice if he suddenly just walked in my front door like he never left at all.

But I am no longer broken on the inside. And I know I will see him again.

I am writing this because I want people know that I KNOW what grief is like. I know how it feels like you’ll never come out of it. I know how the idea of not grieving feels like the ultimate betrayal. I know how the pain is so bad sometimes, you wish you could get out from under it, and yet, letting go feels like you’ll lose their memory completely. I know.

But I also know, now, that it doesn’t happen like that. That you can miss someone and still be happy. I know that this Life has wonderful things to show you, as it does me. And I know that it’s possible to look forward to the rest of your life without feeling guilty because your loved one won’t be a part of it.

I am no longer grieving. And it doesn’t hurt to admit that. I will ALWAYS miss my Jonathan. Who wouldn’t? He was a WONDERFUL person! He was kind and compassionate. He was motivated by helping his friends. He was non-judgmental and an incredible listener. And he was the ONLY man who could argue with me, prove me wrong and I would thank him for it. (That’s a feat in and of itself!!)

I am such a blessed girl to be the one he loved for the rest of his life. He thought I was worthy of his children and his name. Having such love from someone is a beautiful way to live. It was a wonderful life we had, together. I don’t think he regrets a single moment of it. I know that I don’t.

It’s been almost 7.5 years since he died. And I’ve lived a lifetime of loss in those years. I’ve cried countless tears and spent more nights than I can count wishing he could come back, just so I could sleep next to him again.

But these days…I sleep well. I am consumed with my kids and their little universes. They’re growing up so fast, and I am so grateful to be ever-present as I watch them. They bring more joy to my heart than I ever thought possible.

All I can think is that…I made it. Out the other side. And I am happy. I am truly happy. I had a great love, and I am so blessed just to have had it. I thank God every day for it.

I cannot promise that my experience will be the same as everyone else’s or that everyone else will experience what I have in this way. But I encourage everyone to process their grief, no matter how long it takes. I know it hurts. I know that the hurt is the undertone for every thought and every breath. I know what it feels like to live as a ghost, with someone’s memory around your neck like chains.

Be kind to yourselves. Remember that you aren’t really going backwards. Nothing ever does and you will get to your destination. You will be OK. You will make it, too. Trust the process. The end result can be better than you imagine.


Maria – 9/5/2015

To those faithful readers…

I know that it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated here. After my mother’s death, things became difficult in ways I was not expecting. It made it difficult for me to update properly, and quite frankly, I just wasn’t motivated to do it anyway.

It wasn’t that I stopped grieving over Jon, or was too busy. But losing my mother brought out a side of grief in me that I wasn’t expecting. In short, I became somewhat numb. I could really only handle the basics. I took care of my girls and my household, but otherwise, I had a hard time dealing and accepting her death for awhile.

Without Jon and without my mother, the isolation became something almost too hard to avoid. I found myself in a place where I didn’t quite know where I fit. My in-laws have moved on, along with my other family. Everyone I know is pretty much tired of hearing our sob story, (and they’ve made sure to let me know.) To put it bluntly: my girls and I are pretty much on our own, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Some days are definitely better than others, and I’ve worked hard to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for my daughters.  We stay involved in church and stay close to those who make the effort. This is our new normal.

Over the past five months or so, my body started to react to all the stress of the past five years. Anxiety and depression came on stronger than I ever thought it could, and it put my most creative outlets out of commission for awhile. I felt that I had no choice but to go back to counseling, and seek out treatment. I am happy to say that I’ve come a long way in the past two months. I still struggle with anxiety and some other things, but I am much better off than I was before. The good news is that my prayer life is stronger than ever, too. 🙂

Anyway, I feel like it’s time to say that I no longer feel like writing in this blog anymore. I don’t believe I’m “actively grieving” as I once was, even though I’m clearly dealing with leftover emotional fallout. Instead, the things I’m dealing with are more private in nature, and I would rather not talk about them here.

I’ll probably start a new blog one of these days that’s more general, as far as my life and thoughts go. I don’t know when that will be, however. For now, it’s just contemplation.

I don’t plan on deleting this blog and if my previous entries are of any comfort to anyone, please feel free to comment if you need to. I’ll do my best to answer when I can.

Thank you all for the past five years of support. It’s definitely been the hardest five years of my life, but I’m glad I was able to vent and discuss things here, without real fear of judgement. When I look back on some of the things I’ve written, I can definitely see how far I’ve come since Jon died, and how much better my mentality is. I’m happy to say I’m a lot less petty than I used to be, and I’m a lot more compassionate. Regardless of the difficulties I’ve faced, I’m happy with who I’ve turned out to be.

With that said, I wish you all peace, love, prosperity and comfort.

God Bless you.


I know I haven’t written much in the past few months. Dealing with my mother’s death so close to the saddiversary made things difficult to process. Writing about it has been hard. That being said: A post is forthcoming regarding the four-year anniversary. I just have to write out this idea, right now.

In regards to the on-going debate over whether or not widowed people have it better or worse than divorcees; there is something that both parties often overlook. We explain the experience, (most of the time in vain, because the description doesn’t quite convey the actual feeling), but we don’t put a word to our distinction.

The distinction is the lack of closure. We have to practically make it up ourselves. There isn’t a paper to sign to admit defeat. We don’t have a tangible break point from which we can launch our rebirth. Instead, we are left wandering in the dark, fumbling around to get our bearings. We have leftover affection, love and need for our spouses, that up until the point of death, is usually returned. Similar to divorcees, we have to figure out what to do with these feelings. We also have anger, frustration, a sense of abandonment, confusion, a sense of worthlessness, depression and a struggle to believe in a happy future. And we cannot blame anyone for them. We know that blaming our spouses for abandoning us by death is ridiculous, but we feel that way anyway. We know that being angry at our spouses for dying is pointless, but we feel it anyway. And it has no where to go. As a divorcee, I had plenty of blame, not just for my ex, but for myself for being so stupid and selfish. As a widow, I know my husband never wanted to just leave me here to face life alone. He died and it wasn’t his fault. I can’t blame myself, because I didn’t kill him. What then? I have spent four years having to let that go. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

A conversation with a very intelligent friend of mine really opened my eyes to this. As a group of confused and hurting people, we often turn to “industry standards” when dealing with similar symptoms of two very different life experiences. It is impossible to do. As a person who has been both a divorcee and a widow, I know the differences and how I perceive them. However, I also know that they shouldn’t be compared. In order to appreciate the difficulties of both, you cannot compare them. They are both hard. Is one harder? I think so, but that’s subjective. It’s also not up for debate.

I know that this is all a matter of opinion. And I realize that there are people who would argue without end how much better I have it because my spouse didn’t choose to reject me, (or vice versa. A choice a widowed person doesn’t get either, by the way). But I think it’s important for people to see the distinction, whether they are equally as painful, or not.

This is just a small process of thought that I’ve been chewing on for awhile. I respect the opinion of others, but I do resent the idea that anyone who hasn’t been through this experience feels as though they can identify. Maybe in small things, but you can’t say it’s the same thing. It is not. I also recognize that resenting that sort of presumptuousness does not mean it invalidates someone else’s pain. I’m not saying you can’t hurt. I’m not saying you don’t hurt badly. But I am saying that even if you’re also a divorcee and a widow, you still can’t know exactly how I feel and you have no right to compare.

I’ve written here before about the plight of my mother’s illness, and now, I write of her memory. Since this is a public grieving blog, I feel it is appropriate to memorialize her here, along with my husband Jon.

My mother, Michaelina Bellamy, passed away Saturday morning from complications due to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She was 59 years old. She fought very hard for over a year, and in the end, was so worn out from all the medications, the chemo and the illness itself, that her body could not take any more. She did not want to die when she did, but I know she is in Heaven, with the Savior she believed in and all her family members before her. She is no longer in pain, and I can imagine her with a full head of her beautiful blond hair. I believe this with all of my heart.

I’ve been trying to write about my mom since she left this Earth and finally found peace. It’s been difficult. When I think of her, I try not to see her lying in the ICU, pale and barely alive, breathing on a ventilator. I hate that memory. I hate that I keep thinking I need to call her, or run by the hospital for something. Last night, when I drove by along the freeway, I realized I had no need to go back there again. As much as I hated having to see her in there, it broke my heart. I have voice mails from her, from a month ago, where she’s asking me to bring her a smoothie. I wish I had the opportunity to do that again.

And of course, as is the nature of the beast called Grief, my emotions have been all over the place. Some moments, I’m OK, and everything is Business As Usual. Then, out of no where, the idea of her missing something she would like, or the daunting task of going through all her things brings it all upfront. I’m crippled with the idea that she’s gone. And she’s gone for good. 😦

I know what I believe. I believe I’ll see her again, and I really do look forward to that day. But after grieving for my husband for the past 4 years, I realize that I need to be here, taking care of my girls and holding down the fort until they can handle things themselves. I have learned it is my place to follow through with my life, no matter where it takes me.

However, there is a huge hole in my life now, where my mom once was. It’s hard to fathom that I won’t be able to call her phone and talk to her anymore. It’s hard to believe that I won’t ever see her sing live on stage, or play with her grandchildren. It’s hard to accept that she is simply gone, even if it’s to a much better place. It hurts, and it’s hard.

My mother wasn’t always orthodox. She didn’t spend Sunday nights baking cookies or making school lunches. She mostly worked through the weekends, and slept in past the first bell. She was prettier and younger-looking than the moms of some of my friends, and thus, she was never quite accepted by the “PTA Mothers.” When I was a kid, I resented that. I didn’t want a mom who could sing and was on tour all the time. I wanted a mom who took us to ball games and was up for breakfast before we were. I wanted a mom who asked me about my day after school and ate dinner with us at the table, instead of serving us and rushing out the door to a gig.

But that wasn’t the type of mom she was. Instead, she was ambitious, but kind. She was motivated, but sometimes distracted. She had the greatest sense of humor. And she was, more than anything: loving. Even though I spent a lot of my childhood waiting for her to come home from being on the road, I always missed her the same. When she was home, things felt better. I could be mad at her for leaving, but so happy when she was finally home. I was always old enough to know what I was missing, but I was so proud of her accomplishments.

She could do anything. She crocheted blankets, sewed costumes, cooked amazing meals, baked amazing pies, canned preserves (her plum jam was to die for!), fixed anything electronic, (Her first MOS in the military was mechanical. Believe it or not,  she was going to train to fix planes), and when we were sick, she always seemed to know what to do. She almost never doubted herself, and sometimes, that got her into trouble. If she didn’t doubt herself, she didn’t doubt others either. And she learned some harsh lessons about who she could trust with her career, as well as with her children.

Our relationship was hot and cold when I was a teenager. I was resentful of her distance, and I would push her away when she would come home. Yet, I always wanted her to be my Mom. There were times when she thought being my friend was better than fighting with me all the time. I chose to resent her for that, too. She tried to get it right, and I didn’t let her. Her methods weren’t always good, but she did try.

It wasn’t until I had my own child and my first marriage failed miserably, that I finally comprehended her perspective on our own family. She tried her best to keep us afloat, while my father’s politics kept us living hand-to-mouth. I have no bitterness towards either of them for that, but now that I’ve seen how hard it is when two people have different ideas for what a home life should be like, I don’t blame her for trying to hold up the roof. That meant that she went on the road, some years for 48 weeks at a time. We weren’t starving, and my sisters and I always lived in nice houses in better neighborhoods. But I never quite understood the struggle she had just to make sure it stayed that way. I have nothing against my father for this. For what it’s worth, he did his best, too. Just in a different way.

I blamed her for a lot of things that I had no understanding of. The dynamic between us in my twenties was strained because she refused to be blamed for what she thought were the best decisions, and I was too immature to realize you can’t go on blaming your parents for a past you wish you had but didn’t. And when I finally grasped that, our relationship began to heal. I let her into my life, and she finally answered me without bitterness.

She was in my corner for every struggle I had as a single mom, and after I remarried. She took care of my oldest when my second daughter was born, and helped me regularly, whenever it was needed. She was there when my husband collapsed in our bedroom and protected my youngest from all the scary paramedics and police officers traipsing through our apartment that early morning. And in the year that followed, she saved me from losing my mind. She cooked, cleaned, babysat and even just held me. She slept in our bedroom with me during the first month after Jon died. She refused to leave me alone. She petitioned people to pray for me, and often prayed over me herself. Those were some of the hardest and most painful days of my life, and she supported me through all of them. I could never ask for more than what she gave, and she gave more than I could ever ask for. And I never had to ask.

I think that’s the hardest for me, now. The fact that someone, who is such an integral part of my identity, has passed is incredibly difficult for me to process. You’d think it would be easier after losing Jon, but it is its own sort of hard. Similar, but different.  I have to figure out how to deal with it on my own, without the benefit of her experience or wisdom. Everything in my life is really up to me, even though it technically has been for years. I still feel like I’ve landed once again blind in an unfamiliar landscape. Nothing is impossible, but without her, it’s going to be difficult.

I know have a loving family, and wonderful friends. I know that I will be blessed by their support and love, along with my sisters. I am so grateful for that.

And mostly, I’m grateful for the fact that a young woman, 24 years old and single, decided to have me regardless of what anyone thought. She was on the verge of becoming a star, performing with celebrity after celebrity, dancing and singing on the Las Vegas Strip, for US Presidents and recording with the prestigious Airmen of Note. My existence put a pause on that life and she didn’t care. She wanted me anyway, and welcomed me, despite the difficulties it presented. I was wanted and loved. Always.

My last real words to her were of gratitude. I made sure that she knew how grateful I am to be her daughter. I made sure to tell her how much I appreciate her sacrifices for me over the years. I plan on living my life with Joy and Triumph, just as she did. It is the least I can do for everything that she has done for me.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for everything.


Michealina Bellamy

June 13, 1952 – April 7, 2012

When I can’t sleep. When the wind is too loud outside my windows and I find myself indulging in someone else’s radio music…I think of you.

I think of those nights when I wasn’t lonely because of you. I think of those times in the wee small hours, when we found breakfast and love across a worn formica table. 

When those moments between night and morning come fleeting across my memory, I only think of how grateful I am that I should have been depressed then, and you wouldn’t let me. Of how I should have fallen victim to all my bad mistakes. You helped me make the best ones.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you again. Because I am only aware of how lonely I am after knowing how wonderful it was to be by your side. 

I’m at a point in my grief where I don’t want to associate too much with my status. I know that sounds strange for a widow to admit, (and maybe it doesn’t), but I’m tired of having to tell people about it. I hate how awkward it makes things. I hate how I have to gloss over things as if it’s no big deal, and go on with conversation as quickly as possible to avoid the weight of heavy pity that usually hangs around like a stench in the air.

The most obvious solution is to just not bring it up. One would think that it’s not too difficult in everyday life to avoid mentioning something so deep and heavy. I wish I could say that this is correct and that I almost never have to update even the most menial relationships to such serious business. However, this is not the case. Oddly enough, I have had to explain things to people more than I would ever want, (or expect) to. It happens a lot with other parents, in places as casual as the park, or more regularly, at my daughter’s school. Or it happens when I’m getting my oil changed on my truck. This is probably due to the fact that A. I’m a woman and stereotypes still exist regarding our knowledge of auto-mechanics in popular culture; and B. because there is a seriously high turnover rate at any of the hundreds of local service stations in my city. But it’s not just at these places or because I’m a female.

It’s the strangest thing. The more I try to avoid talking about it, the more I find myself at the dreaded crossroads of either Having To Explain That My Husband Passed Away or Just Lie and Act Like He’s Still Around.

I cannot tell you how increasingly irritating it’s becoming. It’s not something that I am faced with everyday, but at least a few times a week. As connected as I am in this town, I meet new people everyday. People who naturally pry and ask questions even in casual chat. I never knew how much information people are used to exchanging in everyday conversation. Parents talk about child rearing as easily as they talk about professional sports. Our culture has become so competitive and intrusive, that other mothers I encounter will simply ask what my situation is, or just blurt out a scenario regarding the obvious lack of a father figure at school functions, and wait for me to explain. I find myself becoming increasingly less interested in connecting with other parents, or anyone on more than a superficial level, just to avoid the inevitable awkwardness that will eventually swallow up any further conversation between us.

Sometimes, I just go along with not explaining to people that my husband is dead. I just nod my head and smile, because yes, my daughter is obviously going to be tall, and she must take after her father. And do we have anymore children? Are they all tall? Did my husband play basketball? Oh really? What does he do now?

It bothers me that I perpetuate something dishonest because it saves me from handing someone the anvil of truth that my life has become. But sometimes, I just don’t feel like reminding myself how much I’ve lost. And every time I find myself in this sort of scenario, I am truly reminded of where I wish I was, compared to where I am.

It makes it terribly difficult to “let things go” when I have to constantly identify with that part of my life. I come into society with an asterisk; a subtext of definition that sets me apart from most of society at my age. (It doesn’t help that people assume I’m a lot younger than I am, either.) And people simply don’t know what to do with it. What do you say to the woman who could easily be like anyone around her, save for one major detail. The reactions I get from people make me feel both guilty and frustrated. I have become the Queen of Changing The Subject just to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.

I don’t have a solution for this. I’m not going to pick up the defense and start swinging anytime anyone gets too nosy. I’m not going to blame someone for just talking without realizing that they’re treading on dangerous territory. But it does make my life incredibly difficult. It’s something I would have never have realized had I not been dealing with it for the past three years or so.

For now, I’m just going to keep listening, nodding and ducking the arrows while dodging the bullets. I’m going to continue the rather intimate relationship I’ve developed with my iPod, (ha), and hopefully, people will disinterest themselves in my silence, while appreciating it for its golden hue.

Once again, my subconscious or whatever was keenly aware that I had reached the halfway point between three years and four years. For whatever reason, things seem to happen at sixth month intervals for me. I don’t try to do this. It’s just how things tend to happen.

Which meant that Thursday wasn’t my favorite day.

However, I got a double-whammy for that Thursday morning that I’m still trying to recover from.

I’ve been debating how much I of my life I want to share here. I originally wanted to use this blog strictly for the purposes of documenting my grief over my husband’s death. While I’ve succeeded in doing so, I’ve also had to cut out a lot of my life as it happens. While I’ve spent the last three and a half years raising my girls, keeping up a house and weathering the changes, I’ve grieved in the background, missing my husband with every hill and valley.

It’s been difficult, but nothing I cannot manage.

That is, until now. And I won’t even say that I can’t manage it. I’ll just say that I am anxious. I am frightened. And I am asking for those that read, to pray.

My mother was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia last Spring, and has spent the last six months going through chemotherapy. It’s been a difficult process. She’s lost all her pretty blonde hair, and is thinner than she’s ever been. She is a singer by trade, and has barely been able to sing at all, which breaks her heart. There are other things that happen as they do, but because of her illness, they seem harder to deal with.

In the past six months, I’ve put large amount of my life on hold to help her with the immense details that come with suddenly having a serious illness. That means a lot of my grieving has been more like a by-product that I have struggled to attend to. I guess hoped that because I wasn’t focusing on it as much, it wouldn’t be as hard to deal with. In some ways, this is true. I am much stronger now than I was three years ago. However, as things get more serious with my mother’s prognosis, the old shadow known as Grief warns me that it’s not quite done yet.

My mother needs a stem cell transplant (aka bone marrow), and she needs it as soon as they find a match. We were all hoping that my Uncle Reno would be a match for her, as he is her brother, but he is not. So, now it’s the luck of the draw. They are trying to cross match her with someone as fast as they can.

Thursday morning, the doctor very frankly told my mother that she will die without this transplant, and that the clock is ticking. She gave my mom a time frame that isn’t as long as we’d hoped for.

Just the idea that she may not be here next Summer makes me sick inside. Despite our many personality clashes, she has always been my mother. She was the only person who stayed with me in those first few months after Jon died, cleaning my house and making sure my kids had eaten and were clean. She hovered around me when I wouldn’t listen to anyone through my anger, never leaving through my frustrations. It was a very difficult and painful time for me. Probably the most painful. And my mother was with me the entire way.

She has certainly suffered through her own mistakes and tragedies in her life. But her accomplishments will never be overshadowed. I still believe that she has things to do, and there are six grandchildren that love her unconditionally.

And really, I need her. When things get really bad, she’s really the only person that I can trust to help me find a solution. My list of people who I know I can count on is dwindling. And I’m not talking about good friends. I have many wonderful people who I can call my friends, and they are all awesome.  I’m talking about the people who know you so well, they never give up on you. They make your issues their issues and because they can see from the outside in, are able to help you find your way out. The type of people who define the word family, regardless of whether or not you’re actually related to them. My mother is the champion of that type of relationship for me.

I am not ready to say goodbye to her. I know as well as anyone that Death does not often give us a choice. But I also know that if she succumbs, I will have forever to miss her. Right now, I am not ready to mourn.

I have chosen to fight with her, knowing how devastating or how rewarding it could be. And we really need your prayers. She needs a match, and it needs to happen soon. We are not ready to give up. We are not done yet.

I suppose I never will.

I can feel like I’m moving in a new direction, or letting go of all the painful things; only to quite suddenly miss him like he died just yesterday.

And in the past week, he’s been back in my thoughts. I long for him in the morning when I wake up, and his name is somehow written on my eyelids when I try to sleep.

It’s not like I have some kind of special date coming up. We’re coming close on the half-year mark, but I know I’m not hung up over it. I passed all my important dates this Summer with grace and ease, relatively speaking. I held my common tears and bit my lower lip in defiance. Grief did not take the best of me this year. I doubt it will do so, again.

But I really miss him lately. For no reason other than I miss him. I miss him enough to dream of his face, and his smile. To have a stolen moment with him, as if I have to ask for one. And his voice was so perfect in my ear, that I lay in bed for a few minutes past dawn, replaying it over and over again.

I wrote more poetry, thinking that would somehow expel what feels like an on-coming storm. It only made me realize how fresh I can bring him to mind.

I don’t have any  clichés or fancy words to say this time. I don’t know why I feel surprised that somehow my thoughts of him cannot be reality. I only know that I find myself wondering when I’ll see him next, as if he was just here. I have to remind myself that I can’t wish for what cannot be, and the disappointment feels foreign. I feel as if I am just figuring this all out all over again.

Will it always be this way?


We are ghosts here, pretending the party still lives.

The Sun; to poke his latent fingers through the broken glass,

pays no mind to our borrowed rally, its beams piercing right through.

And in my bony fingers, I possess a thousand breaths, each one

from a different moment touching your skin; and your arms, they

fit like branches around my neck.

We intertwine, growing vines and shedding dead leaves.

Around us we are all at once Fall and Winter;

cold and falling, but always alive.

The taste of you decays on my lips:

a fragment of old flowers and the memory of your favorite mints.

If I close my withered lids, I can see your face, green from

your dashboard radio, and hear the old lyrics to our favorite

echoing tunes.

So long ago, when the word girl could describe me

with impatience and awkward lust.

When my desire was stronger than my need,

and I so often confused the two.

My heaven is a vapor, a grey memory for

someone else’s sunrise dreams. Those last

vibrations, still bouncing around,

becoming ever quieter still. The last chance

to hear you say “I love you,” exactly as you did.

My grip, like Death, to refuse release on what I once

knew, keeps me a phantom, an ivory skeleton, hanging

silently in my darkened closet. I can wait here, and I do.

It’s easier than you think.

Who I Am

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