Today is a very special day, 17 years ago today my husband was suddenly killed in a construction accident. A short three days after his 31st birthday. A short 15 years of being together. A short 7 years of parenthood. I was thrust into this journey called ‘widowhood’ and didn’t know what that meant and certainly didn’t want it!
At first I was shattered and didn’t feel that I could go on living without my husband by my side. I felt I died with him. I felt my future was destroyed. I felt that the wrong parent was taken from my kids. I felt beaten, defeated, and worthless, hopeless and helpless.
Then something miraculous happened. Just as the first sprout of a flower that finds its way through concrete there was a tiny little bit of life inside of me that had the tenacity and courage to persevere on while in survival mode. Survival mode was a long phase of my life over the first two to three years and then it shifted into growth mode. It wasn’t this big bang growth effect. It was extremely small with many stumbles and sliding backwards. I eventually got a handle on this thing called growth all the while holding on to this thing called widowhood. You see this thing called widowhood was the very last I had of my life as a married woman and what my life was as I knew it. It didn’t look very pretty at first. But with nurturing and love along with time, this thing I was identified and labeled as (widowhood) became a tool versus a crutch and excuse. I still carry it with me but it is not nearly as large nor does it define me; just as I will always be a sister, daughter, and mother… but more importantly I AM ME!
I AM ME! I had to take much time to stare at myself in the mirror and figure out what that looked like AND what I wanted it to look like and become.
Since this time of brokenness and defeat 17 years ago, I have learned to kill big fat bugs, unstop a disgusting toilet, hang pictures, evenly I might add, as high as 15 feet up on my cathedral wall, master how to use and fix a lawnmower, juggle three kids alone, and acquire the ability to incorporate JOY and happiness in all of it.
I have grown tremendously. Sometimes I wonder if I am even the same person as I was so many years ago. I was recently reunited with some old friends that we used to hang out with during high school and some things were shared while reminiscing and yes, there is still ME around. It existed before I married, it existed while married and most importantly it still exists today. I thought so much of ME died when in actuality it did something more like shift. It was buried and dormant while I was grieving and in mourning and then it blossomed once again.
I have learned that life is precious and what living in ‘the here and now’ really means. I am learning not to sweat the small stuff. I know that true happiness does not show up on your doorstep one day out of the blue, that true happiness is illuminated and home grown from the inside. I have chosen to be more thankful than hateful. I’ve chosen to practice ‘lighten up’. I have given myself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. I have learned to be kind to myself that I am a work in progress – imperfect progress. I know that if I don’t take care of myself and put ME FIRST, I will have little to nothing left for my family and friends. If it’s going to BE, it’s up to ME! I’ve learned that all emotions can be fear based or love based and that I work on my loved based foundation.
As you read this I hope it touches you in some special way and has brought hope and encouragement to you. I invite you to share this with someone else who might benefit from it. Knowing you are not alone is one of the most powerful tools you can own. Knowing and believing in yourself is one of the most powerful tools of all!
I wish you all much love and joy in your hearts and peace and happiness in your souls.
Love and JOY,