Today marks the fourth “anniversary” of the death of My Love, Paul. I still don’t really know how I want to refer to that day. I see a lot of Christian widows refer to that day as “the day my spouse changed addresses,” or “home going,” or “angel-versary,” or even “Heavenly anniversary.” All, with the exception of “angel-versary,” are true statements for me. I don’t believe my husband became an angel. Angels are angels and humans have souls which go to Heaven to be with God. It is true I believe Paul is in Heaven with God. Intellectually and emotionally it brings me comfort on his behalf, and most of the other 364 days of the year (or 365 days in a Leap Year), I do feel happy for him. Somehow though, by adopting the cheery “he changed his address” and others like it, make me feel I shouldn’t be sad about him not being here with me. After all, isn’t our desire as Christians, our ultimate desire, to be with God in Heaven? I feel sadness. I feel sadness about my son going to his friend’s Eagle Scout ceremony later today and his returning to the house sad he does not have a Dad to give the “Dad” pin to when he becomes an Eagle Scout. I know every time we attend this type of ceremony it opens this wound for him and how much more so it will today of all days. The only thing worse than my own sadness, is to witness the tremendous loss my children experience on big event days, me knowing there is no way I can or should try to make up for it. Continue reading
Joshua, today you are getting married. I am ridiculously happy for you and proud of the man you have become. I know throughout your life it was probably a big pain to have three extra “mothers” and a bit embarrassing to have sisters so much older than yourself. As oldest big sister, I have one last bit of advice before you launch off into your own life as a married man. I have been thinking a lot about five things I learned while being married to Paul. Continue reading
Big days are hard in our family, and Father’s Day is the worst. Seriously the worst. Of all the big days we have to endure without him, this is the day I hate the most. My kids began life without fathers. For whatever reasons, they were abandoned by their birth families and went years without knowing the love of a real father. Then one by one they joined out family. Paul said, “Yes!” enthusiastically to each and every one of them. And then he was gone. A couple of years ago, I gave up the idea of being both mother and father to my children. I can’t replace their dad, their “Baba.” I can’t be him. He was amazing. He was fun. His big lap (he was 6’2″ to my not quite 5’2″) was the one every one wanted to sit in for stories. He was the storyteller. I remember my kids would say, “Baba, tell us a story,” and he would start “Once upon a time there was a boy who …” and every two sentences one of the kids would interrupt to tell him how the story needed to go. So a boy who was setting out to explore became “Hot Lava Changing Boy” who saved the world from the “Red dragon of Enderling.” His was the lap that comforted kids before and after surgeries. His were the arms that held scared children whether it was on the day we first became a family, or the first day of Kindergarten. He was a cake decorator extraordinaire and could create whatever scene the kids asked him to create. He shared his love of cycling with them, and bestowed on them a love for books. He loved books. Most of all, he loved being their dad. My kids are starting to lose their memories of him, especially the sound of his voice, and I have very little evidence to provide to them because he was the one behind the camera most of the time.
It is clichè to say “they have a Heavenly Father” because though we trust in God, have faith in God, there is really nothing that can replace the very important person that is our earthly father. Paul was not their biological father, but he was their real dad.
We love you forever and always Paul, to the moon and back!
First of all, I love you. I am so incredibly sorry you are having to experience the gut-wrenching pain of the loss of your Love. He was a good husband, father, a kind and generous man, funny, talented, and searched for meaning beyond the surface of life. Most of the time friends are happy when another friend joins their club, their sisterhood. However, being a member of the widow sisterhood is one club none of us wants to belong to and we wouldn’t wish it on even the meanest person we know. Continue reading
One of piece of advice I have heard or read over and over from published authors and aspiring-to-publish writers is in order to be good you must write every day. Some set themselves a word count that they must meet daily, others set a time limit such as two hours or six hours, but they all write daily. This, it seems, is what successful writers do in order to be successful. This is why I have always hesitated in calling myself a writer because I don’t write every day. I remember my dad telling me that one of our favorite authors, Ralph McInerny, would write every night from 11pm-1pm. He was a professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame by day, but late at night he wrote magazine articles and fiction most notably the Father Dowling Mysteries and the Notre Dame Mysteries collections. My favorite work of fiction he wrote was a stand alone, The Red Hat. The Interwebs are filled with writers and interviews with female authors who arise in the wee hours of the morning to write for a few hours before the rest of the house awakens. Sometimes they have day jobs – they are wives, mothers, home educators, and, and, and, the list goes on. They often get up at ridiculous hours to create. I wish I were one of these dedicated individuals, but I have never been a morning person. I was so spoiled when my husband was alive because most days he did the morning routine with the kids. I am just not very competent between the hours of 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. Beyond the difficulty with fitting a writing regimen in to the time I have available when I am actually coherent, I just can’t write for the sake of writing. It is probably a tendency toward perfectionism though my writing is far from perfect. Continue reading
Last year I entered my local library’s Adult Creative Writing contest in the category of “Children’s Fiction.” I was awarded an Honorable Mention and the award gave me the confidence to continue to write. At the beginning of January 2016, I set a goal to enter the contest again. However, as the deadline of January 31st loomed large and I did not have a work of children’s fiction complete enough to enter, I began to panic a bit. A lot. I can’t explain to you why but it felt to me that if I did not meet my goal to enter the contest, I would never meet another goal again. Totally.over.dramatic. With days left, I looked at the other categories I could enter and eliminating short story and poetry, I felt my best shot was the Informal Essay category. I decided to write about grief because it is something I am intimately familiar with and knew I could get something done. It didn’t have to be good, it just had to be done and in the mail, goal accomplished. Long story short, I won. Last week I had the honor of reading an edited version of my essay to the crowd at the awards reception. I say “edited” because I needed to fit my reading in to a five minute time limit. I think it is better than the original. I took out the snarky, whiney bits, and got to the heart of my point. I hope my words might provide insight or comfort to someone walking the journey that is grief. Continue reading
I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. One of the things she says she does in order to attract creativity is to say to inspiration, “I’m here.” It has taken me ages to write this first post on this blog. Ages. Part of the reason is because this blog is part of a bigger plan, my plan to have a website containing all my creative endeavors. This particular space is meant to be a place to think out loud. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, discusses the various forms that resistance can take in the creative process. Resistance takes the form in my life of fear and perfectionism. Wanting everything to be perfect before launching and fearful of being delusional when it comes to calling myself a “writer,” has kept me in stasis. Here but not here, writing in my head but not on the page. I decided, as most people do when they finally take the plunge into a new career, to just go for it. There will never be a perfect time or the perfect environment or a perfect set up. Life is messy and more than willing to provide endless excuses for inaction. So, I am here. I want to tell you a little about who I am and who I am not. Let me introduce myself. Continue reading