Going Back to ‘Those Days’

Am I the only widow who sometimes wishes she could go back to the very beginning?

By beginning I don’t mean the beginning of my life, or the beginning of my time with The Hubs. I mean the beginning of my journey as a widow. Those awful dreadful days of notification and services.

This is something that shames me to say, but I feel like I need to get it out. Sometimes I see photos of services honoring a newly fallen hero, and I wish I could go back to those days.

It took me a long time to come to terms with that reaction and to figure out why I feel that way. Well, I still don’t think I have it completely figured out.

I think it’s a mixture of things. In those early days, the numbness helped me separate myself from everything. I was in shock and didn’t believe reality yet. I had gone into ‘business mode’ and was focused on taking care of arrangements and the necessary preparations. I was busy, and I had people around to help me and tell me what to do next. Now, ‘comfortably numb’ is gone for the most part and I have to face the reality of his absence.

Also, in those early days everything was so focused on HIM. He was in the forefront of everyone’s minds, everyone talked about him and wept for him and he was truly the sole topic of our lives. Now, it is still like that for me, but life has moved on. He is still there in everyone’s thoughts and heart, but not at all as public and vocal as in the beginning. Sometimes I want to shout his name and scream HE IS STILL IMPORTANT.

But even more than these things, in those early days his memory, his voice, his presence was still fresh. It had only been a short time since I heard his voice. His emails were still at the top of my inbox. Mail still arrived in his name. Although he had been deployed for over 6 months, his toiletries were in the bathroom an his truck was in the garage and I still FELT him. He was still an active member of life and still ‘existed’. But now…

Sometimes I wish I could go back to September 12, 2009. I wish I could feel the agony I felt when my doorbell rang, I wish I could throw up in the bathroom as commanders stood in my living room, I wish I could stare numbly as girlfriends packed my suitcase and hyperventilate as someone helped me off the bus to meet his body in Dover and silently weep cold tears as I picked out a casket and shake uncontrollably as a good friend held me up when the 21 gun salute fired and Taps played. I wish his last voice mail was still on my phone and I could actually save it before it deleted itself, and I wish the flowers he sent me the day before he died were still alive.

But if I could really wish, I would wish he were still here.

I’m rambling. But I wonder, am I the only widow who sometimes wishes she could go back to the early days? Is this weird, odd, morbid? Does it make me a ‘drama queen’? I feel guilty feeling it, I feel like I should be offering more to those who are in those early days, not selfishly thinking ‘I wish The Hubs were still in the headlines’. Sometimes I wonder if this makes me an awful person, and I wonder why I feel that way. I know I’m putting myself on the line admitting all of this, I just hope I’m not alone, hope it makes sense to someone.

For those who are struggling through those early days, I hope you are not offended by this outpouring of thoughts. I know you wish you were NOT in these moments, I remember feeling the exact same way, wishing they would just hurry up and be OVER. Your spouse is getting the recognition they DESERVE, and I would never EVER want to take that away from them and YOU. My heart is with you and I wish you peace and comfort.

<3

No Erin, you are not alone in those thoughts! It is as though everyone else has moved on from the drama and we are still stuck. Their lives continued, we are stuggling to continue. I miss the support I received at the beginning and since it has been almost 2 years I don’t feel like I can share my struggles with my friends. So, instead we find solace in each other. Others that are traveling the same path. We are not alone and I know you know that!

Erin

YES Sandy! Exactly! Thank you <3 And huge hugs. I hate that we are in this, but glad that we are in this together. Thank you!

Jamie

No matter how many hours, days, months, and years pass he will always be a thought in your mind, a feeling in your heart, and sometimes the words from your mouth. He is your husband and will always be important even if he’s not mentioned enough these days from others. I can’t imagine what you must feel so often regarding the absence of his life in yours. I don’t mean to sound unmoved from your loss, but Mark has been on deployment four 4 months now and sometimes when I’m alone at night and my house is quiet, I find myself thinking about him and every fiber in me, especially my body, aches for him to be with me. However, I know that it will be a while longer before I see him again and that gives me a feeling of pure outrage. Like I said, I don’t mean to make it sound like I know what you are truly going through because I don’t, but I kinda know about feeling helpless and frustrated because I can’t make his deployment go any quicker and all I want as his wife is for him to be home with me where he belongs. I know that it’s been a long time since we’ve really known each other when we were little girls feeding the chickens. I always thought you were so strong because you carried that five gallon bucket filled to the rim with chicken feed and you didn’t seem at all that the weight was bothering you. We had so many memories since our families lived so close. If you ever want to call or hang out, I’d be more than happy to. I have so much time these days!!! Take care!!!

Jaclyn

Erin,

I think I understand what you’re saying unfortunately. Dad has been gone 5 months now and when it was fresh, everyone was thinking and missing him and crying and going over their great memories of him. Now, I feel as if I am the only one crying all the time and trying to remember his voice and our phone calls and our visits. When it was fresh, it was only a few days since I had seen him, talked to him or hugged him. His clothes still smelled like him, now they have no smell at all and I am scared I will forget that. When it was fresh, there were so many people to talk to about how distraught I was and most could share my feelings, now I feel as if I am bothering people by constantly wanting to talk about it when they are trying to move forward.

Bryan will always be your husband, your first love, the father of your amazing little boy, in your heart and in the heart of MANY people. Sunday at the run, I was so emotional. I just felt him all around us, supporting us and thankful for what we were doing for him and all of the other soldiers and their families. He has not and will never be forgotten. The signs may no longer be up and the newspapers may have moved onto something else but, he will FOREVER be loved, missed and thought of.

I am a phone call away if you ever need to chat,laugh,cry or vent. I am here. Love you.

Aimee

You’re not alone, I promise you that. I have said for awhile now, that I wish I could go back to that day. More so because I want to be closer to him. Everything was so fresh. The feeling of getting an email or a call was still possible. I would go back in a heartbeat, if I could. Hugs to you!!

sue

Nope, you are not alone. It only makes sense to want to go back to a time you felt closer to him, when all your family and friends rallied around you both, and when every sense was hightened.

We become fearful of losing memory the farther ‘out’ we are, it’s natural. Not being a drama queen, no question about that. You’re living a reality no one would want to be in, where even the early raw days make you feel closer to your husband in time.

I hope you can start to move forward, as we all have to, without letting go of our past. My best wishes to you!

Simply Sunday

This week, I’m grateful for and inspired by these simple treasures captured with Instagram:

The most important thing I brought home with me from my weekend in San Diego at Camp Widow — hope.
Hope for healing, hope for the future, hope to see my darling once again.

The ability to find tidbits of dark humor amidst a crappy situation :P

The opportunity to participate in an event to honor and remember our fallen soldiers,
the annual Run for the Fallen held today all around the world.

Blast from the Past

September 29, 2009

I wish I knew where to start. I wish I knew what to say. I wish I could feel just one thing, one emotion. If I could feel just one single feeling, then maybe I could truly feel something and focus on it and deal with it. Instead, I feel numb. Dead. If I allow myself to feel, I feel about 500 things at once, and it is incredibly overwhelming. I have to be blank, I just can’t take it. I wish I could reach deep down to the place where I have locked away all of my emotions and pull one out at a time. Then I could feel each one individually, deeply, and completely, then process it and move on to the next. Instead, I just feel dead. And if I’m completely honest with myself, a huge part of me wishes I *were* dead so I wouldn’t have to feel. The only thing keeping a glimmer of life alive inside of me is my son.

As quickly as the urge to write came over me, it is gone. This is all so fucked up.

Thank you for opening up and sharing these entries. Based on the entries that I have read compared to this entry that you just posted, I’d agree that you have come a long way. It’s only natural and normal for there to be hard times, lonely times and those times that you don’t know how you are going to go on. From what I’ve read you are a strong amazing woman and you will get through this – this with with many other amazing people by your side.

Thank you for sharing your story! I cannot begin to imagine the pain,and everything else that you go through on a daily basis. I am new to your blog, but I am very encouraged by your willingness to go on through the pain, I am looking forward to following your journey.

Erin

Thank you Suzanne! Sometimes it’s hard to see how far time has brought us, and revisiting the raw emotions of the past can really help. I appreciate your support!

Erin

Thank you so much for visiting the blog, Kristle! It’s difficult, but I’ve found encouragement in writing and in people like you!

Blast from the Past

Prior to this blog, I kept a private journal for many, many years. I had an off-and-on relationship with my LiveJournal, going through periods of writing daily then writing very infrequently, and sometimes even deleting the whole thing and starting again.

After all of the initial arrangements and services that occurred after The Hubs died, I found myself all alone in our house in South Dakota, far away from our families in Florida, the single parent of an infant and facing the worst pain of my life, all alone. Knowing I would explode if I didn’t get things out but not quite ready to start sharing, I turned to that old trusty private journal, writing in it when I felt like I was going to scream. At one point, I almost deleted all of the entries, like I had done many times before, but something told me not to. And now, a year after starting this blog, a year of reaching out and connecting with so many other amazing people, I know why I didn’t delete those old entries.

That old journal is a time capsule, an account of one of the rawest and most painful times of my life. I am so glad those thoughts are there for me to revisit, to act as proof of how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown. They give me hope – sure I still have hard times now, but if I was able to come this far, how far can I ultimately go? And that feeling of hope is so important. So I’ve decided to share these stories with you, those who are also facing the rollercoaster of widowhood, in hopes that maybe you will feel the same sense of optimism and accomplishment. In hopes that you will know you aren’t alone in your feelings, that you will get through those depths of despair. And that there are people who understand you and are right there with you on your journey.

So, once a week I will share a post from my previously-private journal, in chronological order. Here’s to hope.

monica chaney

Erin,
You are such an inspiration to so many people. I truly admire you! I know why Brian married you, you are a wonderful, caring, considerate and loving person. im so sorry that you have to go through this but i also know that you are a great support for others even in a time when you need support as well. love ya!!!

Erin

Love you too Monica! Your support means so much to me and I’m so thankful to call you family!

STAND UP.

I just returned home from an amazing weekend at Camp Widow 2011.

Before this weekend, I had never heard the song “Stand Up” by Sugarland. Now, I can’t stop listening to it.

This weekend, I found my voice. And more importantly, I found the hope and strength to stand up and use it.

More to come on my experience at the amazing Camp Widow. Until then, listen to this song and watch this video. Every picture represents a widowed person not only surviving loss, but thriving. You can, too. <3

Sugarland — Stand Up

All the lonely people cryin’
It could change if we just get started
Lift the darkness, light a fire
For the silent and the broken hearted

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

There’s a comfort
There’s healing
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is coming
Can you feel it?
Calling us in to a new tomorrow

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

When the walls fall all around you
When your hope has turned to dust
Let the sound of love surround you
Beat like a heart in each of us

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?