I’m a Real Girl Now

This piece is from tonight’s Lacuna Loft Unspoken Ink writing workshop. It’s based on one of the prompts, which basically said we decide when our birthdays are, when we feel we are another year older, better, wiser.


I’m a Real Girl Now



Am I a better, wiser person today? Do I deserve a birthday celebration?  Am I a better person for having survived cancer twice and lost my husband?


My battles have been, and are, long and hard fought. So, do I get to move up to the next age? I’ve shown up every day with a positive attitude, worked daily to get out of bed, gone about life as a semi-reasonable adult, been social, been grateful, been strong.


So, do my strength and determination buy me another year?


What wisdom? What meaning have I found in the suffering, and sorrow, and loss? (not much)


Am I a better person because I’ve managed to survive and cope for the last eight years?


I’ve worked on the scary tasks of learning to live rather than just survive and to feel and experience my own emotions.


I’m a real girl now; a mix of The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio. Is being real the same thing as being wise? Does this mean I’m worthy of another birthday celebration?



The Widow Diaries: Chapter 4 (Doing What Needs to be Done)

I’m spent. I’ve done a lot of adulting this week. You imagine the death is what’s so horrible and heart-breaking, you imagine that the wake and the funeral will be hard to get through. What you don’t imagine is the devastating loneliness of moving on; the doing of what needs to be done, the paying bills, and changing accounts, and going to parties alone, or asking for a table for three instead of four.  It’s the going on with life and doing what needs to be done that breaks your heart and stops your heart.


There’s paperwork, and stuff to be dealt with, there are medical tests to schedule and face alone. There are things that go bump in the night and spiders to kill. I used to hate funerals because you’ve had days after the death to calm down and start to heal and then the funeral savagely rips off the bandages you’ve begun to loosely apply. I had no idea that life itself would come along and even more savagely rip off the now tightly wound bandages. You have to tell so many people your husband has died. You have to fill out paperwork and present death certificates and get documents with titles like Affidavit of Surviving Spouse. You have to print his name and sign your name with Admin after it when it was once wife. You were once Facebook official and fiancée and bride and wife and now your admin and widow. How did this happen? Damn it I didn’t sign up for an admin job, I signed up to be a wife, a spouse, a partner, an occasional pain in the ass, but never an admin.


I never imagined what it would be like to RSVP as party of one. I never imagined how tightly my heart would grip in my chest the first time I walked into a party alone. You can’t run from death, or grief, or the cold hard reality that there are bills to be paid, things that need doing, and a life that needs living whether you’re ready to live it or not. You have no choice in the matter, you have to move on; you have to pay the bills, clean the house, feed yourself, feed the pets, and keep breathing. I never imagined that losing Chuck would be the easy part. I had no idea how painful living, and adulting, and handling day-to-day life, and moving forward would be.


We survived so many bad things together; my cancer, both of our dads dying within a month of each other, his cancer, my second go around with cancer. They were all made easier because we were together. We got through everything together, no one was left behind. Soldiering on alone is awful, and lonely, and painful, and so so sad.


I’m proud that I’ve managed to hold it together and pay the bills, and make decisions, and do the things that need to be done, and I’m so incredibly grateful to my family and friends who see to it that I never face anything alone, someone has been with me for all the scary, sad, important stuff.  But, it’s not the big stuff that gets you in the heart, it’s not what gives you all the feels. It’s the thinking to yourself, I must tell Chuck they gave me a good price for the car, or I saw Hannah and Ava today and they are growing so big, they’re not babies anymore, they’ve grown into little people now. It’s looking around a birthday party for a place to sit and a familiar face to keep you company. It’s leaving the party in an Uber thinking to yourself, well I did it. I made it to the party. I left the house, I got in an Uber, I walked into the party and talked to be people like a reasonable adult and not a grieving widow. I managed to keep it together. What crazy fucking milestones are these?


I had no idea Chuck’s death was going to be the easy part. Living without him is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it hurts like hell.