February 22, 2010

On Birth, Death, Life & Laughter (part 2)

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:34 am by letterstoelias

Such fantastic women!  We had a great time.  We shared our stories, our fears, our hopes, and a LOT of laughter (and some sort of mocha-bailey’s cheesecake – yum!  oh, and the odd glass of wine too . . . ).  We asked each other questions and explored the issues of guilt, of dealing with perceptions and expectations.  We discussed challenges we will face and the humps we have overcome.  And we laughed.

It wasn’t all ‘widow talk’, but it was nice to be able to express those issues and be completely understood.  Kindred spirits.  It’s hard to articulate this without sounding disrespectful to those around me daily who have helped me get this far, because I would not be here (nor would I have been able to meet with Jackie and Deb) without them – but I felt like I could just be real.  There was no need to try and explain.  To justify.  To pretend.  Because of that connection, I was able to share things with them that I haven’t really discussed with anyone.  My mom was a little worried that commiserating with other widows wouldn’t be the best way to celebrate my birthday, but it helped take my mind off of it for the most part, and for the rest – they knew what it was like to be in my shoes.  There were notably few tears shed between the three of us.

I feel like I learned a bit more about myself in a way too.  In seeing them, I had perhaps a glimpse of how others may see me.  As I heard Jackie and Deb retell their stories of how their loved ones died – the trauma and heartache they faced then and since – I was in awe.  The thought would occur to me, ‘How did they do it?  How did they manage to live through that?’  But then I realized, as I looked into Jackie’s face, or Deb’s, that it was like looking into my own.  In our eyes, the same sense of knowing.

Our stories are different in many ways, but we all faced that moment.  That awful, painful moment when the doctor looks at you and says that there is nothing else they can do.  Your husband is going to die.  Or, is basically already gone, even though there is still breath coming out of their body.  We all experienced that desperation, of wanting to keep trying, despite what the doctors said.  We fought.  We screamed.  We begged and pleaded and cried.  And, we each watched the love of our lives take their last breath (yours coming almost exactly 10 months ago as I write this . . . ).  And, we are still here.  Still moving.  Not moving ‘on’.  Not getting ‘over’ it.  Just, moving.

To some it’s just semantics, but to a widow it can mean a lot.  It’s not to say that I begrudge people for saying the ‘wrong thing’ – it’s hard to know what to say.  I get that.  And unfortunately I think people worry so much about what to/not to say people just end up avoiding, which actually feels worse.  Even a lot of widows/ers have different preferences for how they view things.  Some look at their life as two separate entities – ‘before’ & ‘after’.  Some consider it the same life, just under different circumstances.  Sometimes we don’t even know what we want to say/hear.  It comes down to the fact that we are in a situation we don’t want to be in, and it’s hard to find a comfortable way to ‘define’ it.  Just as it’s hard to define how we are doing.

People often remark about how ‘good’ I seem/look/sound.  I sometimes marvel at myself for how I can come across that way, when inside I still feel like I’m screaming – but it’s not all fake either (sometimes, sure, but not always).  I think my soul has just begun to expand.  I’m better able at balancing the pain of missing you, along side the life I continue to life without you.  The pain never leaves.  I feel it in every fiber of my being.  Every day.  All day.  And some days it still knocks me right out.  It threatens to rip me apart.  Sometimes I sit in the sauna as hot as it will go and hope to sweat out the sorrow.  I hope it will melt away.  But I know that, if it did, there would be nothing left of me.  The sorrow will be with me to the end of my life, running deep in my veins.  And that is ok, because that is how long I will love you.

Our love knows no boundaries of death.  ‘To fill you with laughter, and a Love, unconditional throughout Eternity’.  It was in our vows.  We didn’t say ‘till death do us part’.  Death only parted us physically.  I wish will all my heart that wasn’t the case.  As the clock ticks closer to the time you left this world 10 months ago, I can feel my heart beating faster.  I can feel the tears right behind my eyes, waiting to come out.  My chest tightens.  My stomach turns.  But my heart and soul have also swelled enough to begin to play our symphony.  The highs of our love and the wonderful memories we shared that I will carry with me always, the lows of pain we suffered together and the sorrow in losing you, and the crescendo of my life now – trying to pick myself up from the moment I last left your side when life as I knew it came crashing down around me (it’s a long, steep, slippery climb and some days it’s just so fucking hard – sorry, can you tell I’ve been hanging out with Jackie?? =).  But the notes all play together.  Sometimes simultaneously.  Sometimes alternating.  I wish I could be the composer and control it all, but I can’t, so I just have to let the music play.  The crashes still come and they are just as painful, but I am more equipped to handle them now.  I don’t fall quite as far.

It was really beneficial to spend that time with Jackie and Deb, and I hope to see more of them again – but until then we’ll just have to keep ‘meeting’ in cyberspace.  The flight home was nice as it was a beautiful day, and it was great to see the girls again.  They had a wonderful sleepover with Buz, Sian and the boys, and when we got back to Buz and Sian’s we were outside, and E hopped on a bike, with no training wheels, and started to ride.  It was fantastic.  At first I was worried that she had been started this in the 24hrs I was gone, but it really was just that moment that she got it.  Her sense of self-pride was palpable.

I was so glad I happened to have both my camera and the video camera with me, and documented it all.  I knew she was close, so changed the seat height on C’s Skuut bike so she could practice balance, and it apparently did the trick.

The excitement continued as that afternoon we heard that Bridie was in labour.  Updates continued until about 10pm or so, then nothing.  I woke up, surprised that there was no further word, but after finally calling the hospital and catching them there, I found out that a beautiful baby girl was born at 2:30am on Feb 15th.  Another niece!  They are pretty sure about the name, but it hasn’t been 100% finalized yet, so you’ll just have to wait for that. The girls have been able to ichat with their cousin and we all can’t wait to meet her.  Everyone is happy and healthy though – and there is nothing like the birth of a baby in the family to bring a true sense of joy.  There has been a lot of heartache in the time you have been gone.  But, at the same time, this beautiful little life was developing.  Her body taking shape.  Getting ready to join the world.  I guess the last 10 months hasn’t been entirely bad after all.  I hate that she will never personally know her Uncle Elias.  I also know, however, that just as I never really knew my Uncle Art, I know how much he was loved.  I know how much he meant to my Mom, and to my family.  My Mom kept him alive for me in her stories and memories, just as I know Bridie will do for you – as will your brothers with their daughters.  It’s not the same – but it gives me some comfort.

The knots continue to churn in my stomach and I can’t seem to take my eyes off the clock, so I should try and get some sleep.  The last week since I’ve been home had it’s share of ups and downs – as usual – though I will share those another day.

10 months.  God, how I miss you.


P.S.  I Love You



  1. Chelsea,
    I’m smiling, laughing and crying all at the same time as I read your post. You totally nailed down exactly what our visit was, and much more eloquently than I could ever have written. It was precious time and I look forward to doing it again in the summer. Dylan and Aidan are already planning what they’ll play with all the kids when they are “babysitting”!

    Congratulations on the safe arrival of your niece! Babies are such a precious and concrete example that life does go on. 10 months. Wow. Isn’t it amazing how time can fly by and stand still all at the same time?

    Thinking of you and wishing you a peaceful week. Hope the search for a location for your exciting business works out soon!

    Love Deb

  2. Kristin said,

    Chelsea –

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog, but I have shared your pain for 7+ months now. My husband lost his (9 month) battle with cancer in July 2009. He died 3 weeks after his 40th birthday leaving me to raise our 3 year old son. I find so much similarity in what you write and in what I feel and it’s nice to not feel so alone.

    In my thoughts,

  3. Shannon Bond said,

    Hey there Chelsea,

    Enjoy does sound like the wrong word to use, but I do fine a great measure of … hmmmmmmmm I can’t think of a good word to use. Satisfaction isn’t right … understanding is not right because I have not experienced what you have but

    I don’t know. You express it all very well and I appreciate being able to follow your journey.

    I am dealing with two families at my school who in the space of one week just after Christmas each lost their dad/husband. One to suicide and one to cancer. Between the families are 6 kids ages 7-14. I work with three of them in my school and one of the mom’s fairly often. I try to keep your blogs in mind when I talk with them.

    Letting the little girls talk about their dad and the things they shared with him and I’ve never been one to really get awkward in those situations but I feel better prepared to carry a conversation with them that is hopefully helpful to them depending on what they need in any given moment.

    and not being afraid to sit with mom and just listen or share a good laugh if she’s able to.

    So you educate even those of us who don’t know the experience but who can learn to be more empathetic and real with those who are going through the loss. Thanks for that.

    Happy birthday and bike riding and niece arrival.

  4. LB said,

    i’m so happy you finally got to meet jackie and debbie. & i love the way you described your feelings – your soul is expanding. as is the family! i’m so happy to hear more about the little one. let’s have an update on the biz asap! love lb

  5. Dan said,

    Hi Chelsea.

    I loved reading this post. Your words flow beautifully in describing the knowing that comes from those on this journey. I’m so happy for you, Deb and Jackie, that you each got to experience something so special. And I thought it so poignant that during these difficult months without Elias, a new life was preparing to enter your family. There is a cycle of love and attachments that is so precious in life.

    You have a joyful tone to your writing.


  6. Sarah said,

    looks like fun …bummed i’m not closer …or a Canadian (healthcare …all’s i’m sayin’). i know Jackie wasn’t sure if she was going to make it to Camp Widow …will you be attending? I’m waiting to see how my finances pan out.

    anywho, enough going off on a tangent. Hope life is well (or as well as it can be under the circumstances).

    🙂 hugs

  7. letterstoelias said,

    Thanks to everyone for your comments . . .

    Deb – I loved your writing too, and I don’t mind being compared to a plant! =) I’m definitely looking forward to the summer and meeting your boys. As for my lease space, I’ll have to update that on one of my next posts . . . =P

    Kristin – I posted a comment on your blog too (now that I’ve found it), and I’m sorry that you are in the same boat on these rough waters. But, you are right, it’s helpful to feel less alone when we find each other.

    Shannon – I think appreciate is appropriate =). I’m glad to hear that anything I’ve written here can be of help to anyone. You strike me as a pretty compassionate person anyhow, but you are right – just listening and being there is huge. There is no ‘fix’ for this. No fast track to ‘heal’. Especially early on, being able to share our story and feelings is so important. Thank you for being there for these families.

    LB – always great to hear from you! I will update on the biz soon – things are in the works, and there have been a few ups and downs, but it’s rolling right along.

    Dan – thanks as always for your kind comments about my writing . . . sometimes I just feel as though I’m rambling, so it’s nice to hear it comes through ok =).

    And Sarah – I sure wish you were closer! I would love to make it to Camp Widow . . . I’ll also have to see how the finances go. . .


  8. Jackie said,

    Hey Chels,
    Oh, how I loved spending time with you and Deb. You described our visit so very wonderfully. The visit reinforced for me the benefits of spending time with other people who ‘get it’. I haven’t giggled so much in a long time. I love you and Deb so very much! My widow sistas!
    xoxox Jackie

    • letterstoelias said,

      Much love in return!

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