Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Luck and Hard Work

I'm in a fiery mood today.  It's one of those attitudes that had served me well through the years, and ensured that I continue to move forward, always, in life.  I never really know what sparks it.  It could be general testosterone, or the nice weather, or even the thought of seeing Sarah next week.  Regardless, it's a feeling that I generally welcome.  It's not anger or's determination, acceptance, and drive.

When I am in this state, I can tend to get preachy, egotistical, and frankly, raw.  In this sense, perhaps there exists a chance that I can spark this same feeling in someone else, and help them move forward, even if only for a day.   I don't feel like "relating" today.  I feel like simply stating, in detail, what's on my mind, and allowing others to interpret it as they see fit.  

Megan is dead.  I've accepted that she is not coming back, and for the rest of my life, I will never hear her voice or see her face.  I'm not going to mope about it.  I don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't want anybody else feeling sorry for me.  Life is tough.  Work hard, and you might get the chance to make it a little easier, but ultimately, you, and everyone you know is going to die someday.  

That quote is only slightly off.  I don't see looking back at Megan as "wasting time".  I am simply choosing to remember the good things we had, and not wasting my time looking back at the bad things like hospital stays.

It will not consume me.  What is the purpose in that?  It doesn't mean I loved Megan any less, and the first person to insinuate that will probably end up having a bad day.  I loved that woman with a fire that could never be extinguished.  It still burns; it's just that I'm the only one left to provide the fuel.  I don't just love someone because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  I can, and do love both Megan and Sarah.  Sarah gets it, and there's not so much as a batted eye if I express to her that I really miss Megan.  

So you know what I'm going to do, now that Megan is dead? 

I'm going to continue to make Megan proud that she married me.  That is truly the way to honor and remember someone you love.  You think she wants to see me curled up on the floor, or moping around, bitching about how tough life is without her?  No.  That is not who she married.  She married a man that took care of her and loved her unconditionally for 12 years.  A Marine, and a man that loved her and our daughter to the ends of the earth.  One that was constantly working to improve himself  to earn even more of her love, because even though I already had it, I would never rest on my laurels and be content with what I had.  I AM going to love Sarah; not only in the way she deserves, but also in the way Megan deserved and received.  In that sense, I have even more love to give.  

Just the same, just about every single person reading these words right now needs to have a similar attitude.  The person you lost does not want to see you suffering.  They want to see you determined to enjoy life, and to be a better person than you were even with them.  If someone can give me a valid reason to just resolve to be alone for the rest of their lives (after accepting their loss, of course), I'm all ears.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Silver Linings Playbook

I’ve noted a shift in my overall attitude since Megan’s death.  I was somewhat of a pessimist in years past; always finding the bad news in any nugget of information that may have come my way.  Perhaps it was the shock of losing my wife that finally changed my outlook in everyday life.  I now take events or news with a different eye, one where I step back, and try to find the silver lining in anything.  It has made me a happier person overall, and it serves to suppress the stress of living in a way I had never thought possible.  While at first, this philosophy was a conscious effort, I’ve found that it has become habit, to where I no longer need to force myself to find a silver lining.

For instance...

In my garage, there are three cars, one of which is my Mustang.  I’ve had it for 15 years now, since I was 19 years old.  I had it before I had even met Megan, and she would watch me spend countless hours, in the dead of winter, pulling parts off and replacing them.  We went to car shows, parades, and made untold amounts of new friends doing so.  We drove it on our honeymoon.  It irks me every day to walk past it, and know that it isn’t running.  It needs a new fuel pump, and probably some other items replaced.  It has sat, motionless, for two years now, and after having so many memories with it, I just don’t have the motivation to crawl under it and replace the broken fuel pump.  

But at least it’s paid for and in good shape.  It doesn't cost me anything to sit there, and for a few hundred dollars, I could, in a pinch, have it running again.  I own a car, a pretty nice one at that, and one that has actual sentimental value.  Not everyone can say that.

My job?  Well, that’s what it is...a job.  I go in every day, sit at my desk, and wait for vague phone calls to come in about printers being out of paper or computers that won’t turn on.  My coworkers aren’t very sociable, and many of them are just generally unhappy.  It’s mindless work, that I’ve done for years.  There isn’t any real creativity or critical thought that goes into it any longer.

But it pays well, and it’s very stable.  I don't have to worry about losing my job or paying the bills.  There generally aren't any surprises.  I'm good at my work, and I generally feel appreciated.  Someday, I'm going to leave the IT field, and do something, and this job can function as the springboard to do just that.

Sarah and I live 1400 miles apart.  We have to live separate lives, that don’t always go as mutually planned.  There are events, family obligations, anxious moments, and good times that we don’t get to share any more than via Skype or text.  Even when we plan to spend time together, often a wrench is thrown in where one or both of us has another commitment that we need to be a part of at that time.  We’re both widows, and sometimes, we just need one another to be there, physically, in a bad moment, and it’s impossible to do so.

But at least we understand and love each other, and we know that we will close the distance and have a wonderful future together.  Shelby adores her, and we still get to see each other at least once a month.  She's healthy (which I am HUGELY thankful for), driven, and independent.  The distance only serves to reinforce those traits.

Shelby has lost her mother.  She is stuck with dear old dad here.  While I do my best to feed, clothe, entertain, and love her, there are just some braids that I don’t know how to do, and I’m not exactly experienced with the nail polish.  She has to go through the rest of her life without having her mother, the woman that doted so ferociously on her for 7 years of her youth.  Never again will she snuggle in bed on a cold winter night with Megan.

But at least she’s incredibly smart, happy, accepting, and well-adjusted, with no signs of any trauma in her past.  She's made the honor roll, and is considered gifted in both math and reading.  I haven't seen her cry in months.  She happily remembers the good times with Megan.  Vacations, events, weird things I did, and even making artwork for her while she was in the hospital.  

Megan is gone.  She doesn’t get to be here with us to see the Mustang run again, or me finally get out of the rat race and do something I love, or to be happy for Sarah and I, or to see Shelby become the powerful, fierce woman that we all know she will be.  There will never come a time when she walks through the door of our home and has the dogs greet her with tails flying like they used to.  No more memories of taking Shelby to the amusement park or having a nice date with me.

Her birthday is Friday, July 24th.  She never got to see this one, her 34th.  A few days later, we’ll be travelling to Myrtle Beach to spread her ashes.  She’ll never go back there either.  On August 6th, it would have been our 10th wedding anniversary.  A full decade.  Having that one extra digit on how long we had been married was so significant that we were going to renew our vows.  We didn’t make it.

But at least she isn’t sick.  At least she isn’t describing her daily respiration as “like breathing through a straw”.  At least the tattoo she had on her arm, the one that said “until my last breath” was honest.  No more stays in the hospital for weeks or months at a time, and no more waking up and literally coughing up bits of lung for 30 minutes.  She never has to worry about if her lungs are going to reject at any time.If I could have given those gifts to her for her birthday or anniversary, I would have.  In a sense, her death has actually lowered my stress over certain things. Because I am choosing to recognize the amount of stress we were under for over a decade together, and acknowledging that those particular stressors are no longer present.

At least she loved, and was loved, until the day she died, and beyond.  She has left one hell of a legacy.

If I didn't try to find the silver lining in any stress in my life, I would be a much more cynical and introverted person.  I would still be wallowing in sadness and loneliness, feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I've chosen to be thankful for what I do have, instead of worrying about what I don't.  While I identify as a widower in title, I will always strive to make that title a badge of honor in a weird way.  It's what Megan would have wanted most for this see her husband and daughter happy, healthy, and continuing on our journey, regardless of if she was here to witness it.

Happy birthday Megan.  I love you.  

Every other Tuesday, I write for Widow's Voice, the blog of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.  This post was originally published at that location.  Widow's Voice can be found at

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lack of Updates

I know it has been far too long, and far too infrequent that I've updated my ramblings on here.  Many, many things have happened, developed, and changed in the last few months.  It's prudent that I cover where my journey has taken me recently.

I am still writing for Widow's Voice every other Tuesday.  I've been cross posting that writing here, but even that is only sporadic.  If you follow those posts, you will note the significant reason that this blog hasn't been updated nearly enough.

To summarize, I met Sarah at Camp Widow back in February, and we formed an instantaneous connection.  We've talked every single day since then, and we've fallen in love.  She lives in Texas, 1400 miles away, but we've had the luxury of 3 different trips together so far, with more planned, roughly monthly right now.  Being that she's a widow as well, we get each other.  We know that Megan, and her Drew will always be loved and a huge part of our hearts, and there isn't any jealousy or weirdness when one of us simply misses our persons.  It has truly been wonderful, and we're looking forward to a wonderful future together. (Shelby also ADORES her, and will be meeting her for the first time in person in a few short weeks)

Outside of Sarah, I'm still on the hamster wheel here at work.  It's stable, and it's "quieted down" somewhat over the past few months, but ultimately, I still see this job as a springboard to bigger, better, more desirable things.  I'll stay here for as long as I need to, because it's a good job, but someday, I'll be leaving IT.

I'm sincerely going to work on updating here more often.  It could be weekly, maybe monthly, but it's something I need to focus on.  I have quite a few topics circling my head: Megan's birthday, Our anniversary, Sarah and Shelby's meeting, the next Camp Widow, etc.  All of that will happen before September's over.

So, in a nutshell, I'm apologizing to myself for the lack of writing. I'm making a commitment to write more, as even though I'm am in a happier place right now, journaling and writing in general is still therapeutic and fun.  I just need to force it sometimes and realize that not everything I write needs to come from a bad day or stress.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hey Bud


I am in a very unique situation, not only being a widower, but in love with a widow. The silver lining to this is that it allows me to see things from two perspectives. I’ve decided that since Sarah hasn’t yet traveled to my home, I would write this week from the perspective of dating a widow. Things like meeting in-laws, friends, and seeing pictures of late partners can be a scary thought for anyone.

Perhaps my loss has tempered those anxious moments, but regardless, I would hope that any person that is dating someone who has suffered loss can feel the same comfort and respect that I experienced a few weeks ago, as well as return that reverence to those around them.

I’ve written a letter to Drew, Sarah’s late fiance about this. He deserves to have a word from me from this side.

Hey bud,

A few weeks ago, I came down there to Texas to see Sarah. I know you (and Megan) have been keeping an eye on things over the past months. You guys have watched us get to know each other and fall in love. You’ve watched us have fun together in Kentucky, and Virginia, where I met your mom. Through endless phone, skype, and text conversations, late into the night, I can’t help but feel like you were there, maybe not guiding anything, but watching. I’m pretty sure you’re happy.

So at that time, it got a little more interesting I guess, for both Sarah and I, as well as yourself. I was on your home turf. I walked off of the plane in Austin, and your fiance was waiting there for me with a kiss and a smile.

I’m not going to say that it wasn’t thought provoking. We hopped in your truck, and drove the hour or so to the ranch. I’d seen the inside before, in pictures and though Skype, but there you were, staring me in the face from the wall when we walked through the door. This was it. I was now truly in your space.

Oddly, it wasn’t difficult, or awkward. I didn’t feel as if I was trespassing on your memory or not supposed to be there. Chalk some of that up to the similarities we shared in personality I guess. It felt like I was simply part of what has always been there. It was already getting late, so Sarah and I hit the rack that night, and I let my mind wander with thoughts of what the next morning would be like, waking up and having your family see me walking around the kitchen.

I’m happy to say your family welcomed me as warmly as Sarah has. Hell, your mom came out in the morning, when we were getting our coffee, and gave me a hug. Your sister shook my hand and smiled, and they went off into town for their day.

But I guess you saw all this already.

Then, and for the entire weekend, I had this indescribable feeling that I was not taking your place, but serving your purpose. I’m my own man. I know it, Sarah knows it, and your friends and family know it. I went to lunch with your mom and sister, and it felt as if I was simply visiting for the 100th time. We didn’t make concrete plans for anything, other than camping that weekend, and as it turns out, after a nice night of dinner, finally meeting your stepfather (who is such a great guy to talk to), and an impromptu date with Sarah, I drove your truck home.

I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t incredibly meaningful to me. I have a truck myself, and I know how much it means to have someone else drive it. Its this odd sentimentality about our vehicles that guys like us have. To be driving your truck was surreal. It felt natural, and out of place at the same time. I didn’t really comment on it to Sarah at the moment, but she knew anyway. I might as well have been wearing your clothes.

Then came the reason I was actually down there that particular week...Drewfest. I specifically was there to be a part of the celebration of you that occurs every year since that dumbass accident. I respect you, totally, and fully, without even knowing you. You had to have been a hell of a person to not only have Sarah’s love, but to have the love of the friends I was about to meet. I see the same thing with Megan. She was small in frame, but she had a hell of a presence to everyone that knew her. I can’t imagine what kind of influence you two have wherever you are now.

I can’t state more strongly that I again felt like I was there all along. We didn’t sit there and talk about you, or the fact that everyone was meeting me for the first time, after hearing about me for months. We had a fun, enjoyable weekend as a group of friends, and not once did anyone get emotional or did I feel like I was a “new” person, to be watched with a critical eye. We sat around a campfire, that I set up, and shot the shit for hours. We didn’t forget about you. In fact, we remembered you more fully as a person, and not someone who was obviously missing.

After another day of tubing and campfire talk, Sarah and I went back to the ranch. Did you see what happened next? I fired up the grill, and we cooked fajitas for your family. I hope I made you proud with my grilling skills, because the whole time I was just pondering how cool it would have been to have you and Megan sitting there on the patio with us, sipping a beer and talking about how good the chicken smelled.

That’s the thing. Through all of this, I wished you were there. Having you there in the flesh would only have enhanced the weekend. I can sense that we would have been fast friends, probably to the ultimate annoyance of Sarah and Megan, but then again, they would have been allied as well. All of us would have made a hell of a group. There are times when it feels like Megan and yourself would have made a good couple, and honestly, I hope that you two are indeed together, because I know she’s in good hands.

As Sarah wrote, I visited your grave the next day. Of course it was solemn, but it wasn’t just because I felt bad for Sarah. Somehow, I miss you too. Maybe not as intensely as I miss Megan, obviously, but I still wished that I didn’t have to not know you in the flesh. I was visiting the final resting place of a friend.

Someday, you and I are gonna sit down and talk about all of this over a good beer. Truthfully, I hope that someday is a long time from now for both Sarah and I’s sake. I’ll take care of things here, and love Sarah like she deserves to be loved, as long as you agree to watch over Megan and take her for some helicopter rides where she’s NOT going to the hospital...she’d love that.

Wherever Sarah and I end up, your picture will be hanging on our wall right beside Megan’s, and I’ll be proud to have it there.

Later man,


Every other Tuesday, I write for Widow's Voice, the blog of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.  This post was originally published at that location.  Widow's Voice can be found at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tailor Made

Today, as I sit down to write with tired eyes, I must admit that although I miss Megan as much now as before, it has shifted over these past few months from an intense grief at the thought of her death to more of a longing for her to be present to witness where life has taken me since that time.

I have just returned from an extended weekend in Kentucky with an amazing woman named Sarah, who also happens to be the same Sarah the writes here on Widow's Voice every Sunday.  We met at Camp Widow East in February, completely by chance and/or fate, depending on your beliefs.  Neither of us had any intention of finding someone new at that time, but here we are. Three months after meeting, Sarah and I are a couple.  Not a day has passed since February 5th that we have not talked, and this past weekend, we were finally able to close the 1400 miles of distance, and bring our lives into the same physical space for a few days.  It was wonderful.

 It's an odd thing, not only being a widower, but being with a widow.  Both Megan and Drew are eternally present in our lives and hearts, but now, after endless hours on the phone or Skype, I can almost feel Drew as a friend of mine.  It's as if I know him personally, and there are even moments where I mourn his loss.  There is no jealousy when Sarah speaks of him. In fact, I love that she gets that wide eyed, contented joy when describing an event or memory with him.  

Of course, there is always the thought that had Drew or Megan not died, neither of us would have met the other, but there is also the thought that had they not existed, it would have also prevented us from meeting.  The two of them made Sarah and I who we are.  I am thankful for Drew's love towards Sarah, and her love for him, because she would not be the same person without him.  I took Sarah to a restaurant on the Ohio river immediately after picking her up at the airport called "Drew's", simply because of the name.

Just as I feel a connection with Drew, I can feel the same connection between Sarah and Megan.  There is no competition between them.  They are not the same person, and although there is a multitude of similarities, there are just as many differences.  Megan would love her and her attitude (primarily because they both make fun of me).  That's how I knew that Sarah was not a "band-aid" or a "rebound".  I have not once looked at her and thought "well, Megan did it this way, and that means Sarah's way is wrong"

Although I am filled with happiness about Sarah, I am struggling to find a poignant, teachable moment.  I can't suggest that any widow or widower who is ready to date go out and find another widow, because not only are there good people outside of our "club" that could be just as compassionate and understanding, but there also remains the fact that I wasn't ready to date.  Fate happened.  She sat down at that table at Camp Widow, and we clicked.  I had no choice in the matter, and now we've fallen for each other.  

I guess that the smartest thing I did was keep my eyes, and my heart open.  Just as I knew that I wasn't ready to go looking for someone else, I also knew that I shouldn't prevent a good thing from happening.  

I hope that Sarah and I's relationship can give some hope to other widows and widowers, and inspire people to realize that although we may have lost the loves of our lives, that when they were lost, we were given a new life, and a chance to have a new love.  

Every other Tuesday, I write for Widow's Voice, the blog of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.  This post was originally published at that location.  Widow's Voice can be found at