August 9, 2011

Hope Matters

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 12:59 am by letterstoelias

I get a lot of surprised looks when I tell people where I’m going this weekend.  Even from some who know I’m a widow.  Camp Widow.  It raises more than a few eyebrows and often met with ‘Really?’

I remember getting through customs fairly easily last year on my way to Camp.

When asked where I was going, I answered, ‘San Diego’.  When asked why, I stated ‘For a conference’.  When asked what the conference was for, I stated ‘A widow’s conference’.

He looked at me hard, and for a good few seconds, then simply said, ‘Too heavy for me’ as he stamped my ticket and let me through.  Hey, at least he was upfront about it!  (on the way home, I had to repeat myself about 3-4 times before the customs agent seemed to get that I was really saying what he thought I said)

There are countless reasons to go to Camp Widow.  Too many to try and explain.  As one of the wonderful, inspiring friends I met at last year’s camp wrote, “It took being with widows, to not feel like one.” which is incredibly accurate.  The ability to feel normal.

I have found it incredibly valuable to have this community in my life.  I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity (with thanks to credit card points and some amazing friends and family to make it all happen!) to be leaving in a couple of days for the second time.  I will get to see some ‘old’ friends and undoubtedly make some new ones (and I will terribly miss those who aren’t able to make it this time around . . . you know who you are).

Why is this community so important?  Whether or not you make it to Camp Widow, being a part of an incredible group of widdas – regardless of age, gender, sexual preference, no matter if you’re one month ‘out’ or 10 yrs – we’ve shared the same struggles.  We may handle them differently, but we know what it takes to make it through.  Not over, around, under – but through – until it no longer ‘defines’ us, but is woven it to our fabric along with everything else that makes us who we are.  Always, always a part of us, but not all there is (the other day my dear friend Jackie stated that ‘it’s one chocolate chip in her cookie dough’ – I LOVE that!)

I look at these people.  I hear their stories.  I read their words.  And, I am amazed.

We know what it is to have Hope, even when we don’t know it’s there, we can’t see it or even feel it.

It’s for those of us who go to sleep at night turning our backs on an empty half of a bed (if we even make it to bed).

It’s for those of us who wake up staring at that still empty half of the bed.

It’s for those of us who make every meal, bring in every dollar, clean every surface, make every decision, mow every lawn, and fix all that is broken.  Alone.

Those of us who wonder where in the hell everyone went.

It is for those of us who celebrate anniversaries, milestones, and attend countless events alone.

Who painstakingly decide what to do, or not to do, with our wedding rings.  Our spouses clothing.  Toiletries.  Shoes.  Ashes.  Families.

It is for those of us who kiss every hurt and dry every tear – including those most painful which come from the loss of their parent.  As much as we hurt, believe me, it is compounded when you watch your child hurt to that extent (not to mention telling them in the first place, and the need to explain various aspects of it over and over and over, and over again, when most of the time we don’t even understand any of it).

It is for those of us who watch our children grow, accomplish, change, amaze us –  with mixed joy and pain for the child and parent who are missing out.  And, often wondering if certain behaviour is due to the loss of a parent, or completely normal – struggling with how to deal with it.

We who are the sole memory holders of countless once shared memories.

We who know we make a people uncomfortable.  Fidget.  Avert their eyes or stare at you in pity.  Spew cliched condolences or wildly insensitive comments.  Even leave our lives completely, because they can’t handle our ‘situation’.

It is for those of us who have survived, when we really didn’t think we would.  Didn’t think we should.  Didn’t want to.

Those of us who have silently hoped for God or Fate or a semi-truck to intervene in our lives so we could be reunited with our loves.

Who have spent countless hours on the floor, in the fetal position, a ball of snot, coughs and tears, struggling for breath with a searing pain in our hearts we never thought would end.

It is for those of us who continue to find a way to get out of bed every day.  To continue to live.  To make a new life, built up from the rubble of what once was.  Who fall back into the hole now and then, but continue to climb back out, and reach a hand to those who are in the same, bloody awful hole.

It is for those who learn to walk again.  To smile again.  Laugh again.  And even love again.

It is for those of us who continue to Hope.  Why?  Because . . . Hope Matters.

It’s gotten us this far, hasn’t it?

See you soon,


P.S.  I Love You



  1. megan said,

    awesome, c. Exactly what I needed this morning. People knit their brows and look so confused when I tell them where I’m going.

  2. Jen said,

    I just found your blog, and I’m glad I did.

    I appreciate what you wrote, because so much of what you said, is exactly how I feel all the time. Sometimes I wonder if it’s wrong to feel the way I do most days, but it gives me comfort that others feel the same way I do.

  3. Wendy said,

    Wow…this is so beautifully and accurately put. Have a great time in San Diego! Sorry to be missing it.

  4. Love this post – particularly as it highlights the need for community – and EVERYONE needs a community no matter what the circumstances – especially for you ladies.

    As Kirk is gone for the month, I’m only getting a tiny little taste (I know it isn’t the same) of single parenting, and hats off to you again. It’s relentless.


  5. Love, love, love this. Especially the part where the customs guy decides Camp Widow is too heavy for him. Poor thing 😉 Amen to every line, friend. Every single line. See you soon!!

  6. Laura Altobelli-Anderson said,

    WOW! That hit home this morning…every single word of it. Thank you…

  7. beautiful words, chels. i’m so happy that you are able to go to camp widow this year. have a wonderful time!

  8. tammywheatley said,

    I haven’t blogged since before the shock of my grief totally left me. Those were some really raw blog posts!
    I feel like I could have written word for word my feelings of why I’m headed to SanDiego this week! Thank you for expressing what I hadn’t yet found words for. I can’t wait to meet you and others that we journey with!!

  9. LOVE this!!! And I think that customs guys is very, very lucky. So far.
    See you soon!!!

  10. After reading that, I wish I was going to camp. To be so completely understood. To not walk around feeling shell shocked and wondering if it is written all over your face. I am continually amazed that no matter how different the stories are that got us to the point of widow – how similar the emotions and experiences feel when we share them.

  11. Mandy said,

    This post is absolutely amazing!! You gave me goosebumps!!! I hope you have an amazing weekend! I wish I could be there!! HUGS and tons of love!!!!!!

  12. Mel said,

    Beautiful… perfect words. Camp truly is for all of us, in whatever stage we are at today.

    I can’t wait to see you!!

  13. […] year, the theme for  Camp Widow was ‘Hope Matters’.  I wrote a blog post with my feelings on the subject, and thought the support of friends and family was lucky enough to attend.  I hope to make it this […]

  14. Diane said,

    Beautifully said- my dear roomie from 2013! Maybe we will both go again soon! LMK! Hugs, Diane

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