The Fear Beyond the Fear

I'm told fairly regularly by milspouses that I'm "living their worst nightmare." No offense, but I hate that. (I know, it's one of those things you say when you're not really sure what to say and you're trying to be compassionate. I don't hate you for saying it, I've just grown to hate the saying, there are quite a few I could add to the list...) It's my worst nightmare, too. Except... it's my reality. Sad face. But the truth of the matter is, I'm living it. I'm living every military spouse's worst nightmare. Hell, I'm living every spouse's worst nightmare, I'd imagine; that their loved one would die. It's just a "more real" nightmare among us milspouses as our husbands are sent to places where their chances of dying are probably higher and "more real" than on "average." But living is scary, because we never know when dying or losing someone is right around the corner for any of us.

I want to talk now about the fear beyond the fear. The fear I've been having lately. My fear.
I've been fearing lately that I'm going to forget. I think I've talked about this briefly here and there, but it's been striking so close lately. Widow brain is a bitch. I've talked to so many widows and so many of us experience brain damage (ok, not literally, but my wids out there know what I mean). We just forget things. I forget where I'm going sometimes, appointments, days of the week, my age (yes, I'm serious). I once couldn't remember what had happened to Jonny, I knew he was gone but I couldn't conjure up what had happened. Have I told you all about that? It was freakin' scary. Luckily I had a good friend fill me in, because I had to know. It was scary.

The other night I was thinking about him (ok, I'm basically always thinking about him). I was just trying to remember our whole lives together. Obviously, with human brains, this isn't really possible. I can't remember every single detail and it's crazy for me to try to. But what scared me was I was having trouble remembering the things I wanted to remember.

I couldn't remember what your touch felt like. It's been so long that I'd felt your skin against my skin that I couldn't remember. I closed my eyes. I thought. And it came to me. I could remember how you held my face when you kissed me, I could remember the way your fingers (sausage fingers, I always told him he had Italian sausage fingers) felt between mine, I could remember how your lips felt against mine. It came back to me. But what about down the road? What if I can't bring it back? I'm terrified of that day because I think when that day hits it is when I will feel truly, utterly alone. Like this loneliness isn't awful enough already.

Sometimes, I forget what you sound like talking to me. Luckily enough for me, I've got the tape. I've got a couple voicemails. I've got some videos. I can still hear you talk to me. Sometimes, they are things I can't bare to hear. Hearing your promises that it won't be long or how excited you are to hold us again... it hurts so badly. I would do anything to have those promises come true. But I can still hear you and that's what matters. I'll never have to worry about forgetting your voice or your face.

Life is going on without you in it though, that's the scary part. You're not hear, yet the world didn't stop. I knew it wouldn't, but some days I just expect things to come crashing down because how can my world continue without the one thing that made it right? How can a universe exist without it's sun?

Maybe it's the rain, this constant monsoon, that's got me in a funk. I always miss you, every single day, but for a while I was doing ok. I was living. At least, I thought I was. Lately I don't really feel like I'm living but more like I'm just here, hanging out. Some days, it feels like I'm still waiting for you. I have to remind myself that there is no waiting anymore. You're not coming and that's all there is to it. Those days are hard. They suck. Those are the nights I find myself wrapped in camis crying myself to sleep, or some semblance of sleep that enables me to rise again and function the next day. Most people see the "ok" side because I don't like people seeing me in shambles. I think that's why people think I'm doing so great, or some people question if I miss you at all. Really, I'm just too headstrong. I used to let people know when I was having a rough night but I've even stopped doing that for the most part. I've been curling in my lonely hole on the rough nights and trying to claw my way out on my own. I don't know if this is good or bad, am I learning strength or am I just making it harder on myself?

I don't want to have to rely on people. I don't want to make my problems theirs. I don't want the "Oh, damn, RP is calling me again... I really don't want to deal with her but I guess I will." I don't want my friends thinking I'm using them just to make me feel better. I miss my friends. I miss happiness. But most of all, I miss you. I miss loving you. I still love you (I always will) but I miss loving your alive self, I guess the better term may be being able to love you. I miss being loved back. I miss being part of a pair. I'm not whole without you here. I miss everything about you, even the things that annoyed me (like the way you brushed your teeth without water, babe, that was so gross and it drove me nuts! I couldn't watch you brush your teeth until the toothbrush was already in. But if I had to see you put it in your mouth - which I did, several times - it completely skeeved me out - you know that). I just miss you. Plain and simple.

I spend my days and nights still wishing you were here and wondering what our life would be like had you come home. I fight away the sinking feeling every day but it still comes, every single day, right in the pit of my stomach. Especially at night. I'm not supposed to waste my life away wishing and wondering. I try so hard to put my best foot forward, to keep living, but it's so hard. Controlling the mind, your own mind, would you ever think that was so freakin' hard?!

I'm sad and weird without you here.

I'm It!

My gorgeous WBFF Allison over at No Star in the Sky tagged me in a survey. I have been so bad at reposting things I have been tagged in but tonight I am on the ball. So, here goes nothin...

1. If you could have lunch with any famous person who would it be and why?
Do they have to be alive? Hmm... For some reason I'm drawing a blank. Actually, the only person I can think of right now, and you're probably all going to judge me, is Paris Hilton. Without anyone else around. I want to see if that's really how she acts or if she actually is a human being...

If it could be a dead person... yikes, too many to choose from, but boy oh boy wouldn't I love to have lunch with a young Elvis. If not for anything only to look at him haha.

2. Describe your dream house.
Lots of land. That's where we'll start. I'm saying like greater than 5 acres, enough for some horses. And the house, well if this is my dream house, it would be blue with red shutters. Not blue blue and not red red. A grey steely blue color and the shutters would be maroonish. It's the house colors Jonny and I had picked out for the house we were having built and it's the house he drew on the Christmas card he made me last year with the caption "My promise to you for next year," so yes, it is my dream house. It would have a fantastic front porch with ample room for awesome rocking chairs and built in (but still stylishly acceptable) butt buckets to keep it from being whiskey tango like my front porch always is (even though I still find it hilarious and wouldn't do it if I didn't). It would have an amazing, jaw-drop upon walking in kitchen (the funny thing about Jonny and I is one thing we always agreed on was our dream house and we were both obsessed with kitchens). There would be stainless steel appliances, a breakfast nook and great counter and cabinet space. The master bedroom would be big enough to fit my bed and still have room to move and would have it's own bathroom with a jacuzzi tub. It would not have double sinks, those depress me. There would be at least one more bathroom, if not half or more after that. It would have a huge living room with vaulted ceilings for a big Christmas tree. There would be a sun room. It would have some sort of man cave, one of Jonny's dreams in a house, and that would be decorated with all his stuff and a pool table, and maybe a bar. Ariana's room would be big enough for her and her toys. It would have amazing closets in all the rooms, I hate having tiny closests :( There would be a barn. There would be a smaller yard separate from the rest of the land with a play set for Ari. It would be in the country but still close to neighbors so it's not scary. It would have a combination of hardwood, tile, and carpet flooring. Can you tell I'm obsessed with houses? Hey, it's my dream and I'll be as detailed as I want ;-)

3. If you could start your life all over again, would you change anything? why or why not?

I think the changes I would want to make still wouldn't be possible. Obviously, Jonny wouldn't die. He'd be here with us. And if he'd have to die, I'd make it so we met sooner and had more time together (probably still impossible...) I'd make our last phone call better. I'd like to say I'd rethink some of the destructive decisions I've made throughout my life, but I think even the worst decisions (or the worst ex-boyfriends...) helped mold me into who I am today, I think they all served their purpose. I would just ask for more time with my babe, that's all...

4. When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
At which stage in life? (Can't I ever answer anything without writing a book? Probably not...) As a child I wanted to be a pediatrician. This was from like age 5 on. Then I wanted to be a vet, and even took it as my concentration in high school (I went to a vocational high school). At some point I wanted to be a teacher and have gone back to that multiple times. I wanted to be a lawyer during and after high school, that or a psychologist. When I started college I wanted to be a psychologist then I changed to lawyer, then to teacher, then back to psychologist. I wanted to be a soldier for some time as well, but I met Jonny and that plan changed. Now I have no idea what I want to do career wise (it's changing again, sigh)... There's one constant though, I always wanted to be a mom, so hey, at least I followed through with one thing ;)

5. What are your favorite stores to shop at?
I adore Old Navy. I get basically all my clothes there. I'm a fan of WalMart for essentials and groceries and have been shopping at the commissary very often as of late. And I'm a sucker for Coach... Oh, a huge sucker... Sigh.

6. What is your favorite holiday?
I don't know. Holidays don't really appeal to me lately. It used to be Christmas. I also loved Halloween and fall in general. That was our season. I'll get to that in a future post...

7. Describe your perfect day.
April 24th, not to cold with a slight breeze. All you'd need is a light sweater (
ok, I may have gotten some of the words wrong but you know what I'm going for hahaha). Ummm, my wedding day was the perfect day. It was definitely the best day of my life, hands down.

8. Please list your favorite TV show, movie, and band.
Show: I really love Make It or Break It. I also love Covert Affairs. There was another one I was regularly watching too but beats me if I can remember it now.
Movie: Clueless, Center Stage (
which I've watched twice in the last week), Van Wilder, The Sweetest Thing (frickin' HILARIOUS)
Band: Jack's Mannequin, Ballyhoo!,
Motion City Soundtrack

I can never pick just one fave... oh my hatred of choices hahaha

Ok now I'm supposed to create a survey with 8 questions and tag 8 of you hotties. I'll do my best to tag people that Allison didn't tag, but if you get double tagged my bad!

1. If you were a shoe, what shoe would you be and why?
2. What talent do you wish you had? Would you pursue learning or brushing up on that talent now?
3. What is your favorite/best childhood memory?
4. What is your favorite song? What lyrics strike you the most?
5. If you could go back in any period of time before you were born, where would you go, what would you do?
6. Who is your role model?
7. Pick a scar. Tell us it's story.
8. If you had no computer, tv, or phone for a whole day (YIKES!) what would you do with yourself?


Still not writing what I'm thinking... maybe tomorrow, maybe later tonight. Stand by.

Mud Run Debacle

I'd really rather not write about it. I'd rather write about the million and one other things that are on my mind, but because everyone has been asking me about it, I'll tell you a little about the run. I may be making multiple posts tonight. It's pouring and the satellite's been out for days and I don't really feel like cleaning (don't judge me) so maybe I'll just do a couple posts while I'm just hangin out.

So, I'm going to do this with as little bitching as possible. I'm going to try to state only what happened, just the facts, but it's going to be hard. The mud run was, in my humble opinion, horrifically disappointing. This makes me uber sad because I was pretty stoked to do it (even though my nerves were getting the best of me days before it).

We went down to Wilmington the night before and stayed there and left from there 9ish the next morning. Angel drove my truck (thank you princess!) because I had had a... err... "rough night" and was feeling in it in the morning (ok, maybe I was celebrating my last night alive because I was pretty sure my lungs would fail me during the run, but hey, here I am!). So we left and got into the town around 1230. By into the town, I mean off the exit. We had hit major traffic (expected) and once we were off the exit hit even worse traffic. Here's the kicker - we didn't get TO the run location until 430 (yes, that's FOUR hours of traffic only about 3-5 minutes outside of the run location) it was THAT backed up. We ended up parking on the side of the road and walked about a quarter mile to where it was only to find there was tons of parking. Not sure why all the traffic, I guess because people were coming in and out the same spot, that's the only thing I can't think of (we'd thought it was because one in, one out at first but that was clearly not the case). Anyway, this made us late for our run time that was supposed to be at 257 since we didn't get to the location until 430. Luckily, they had done away with the start times because things were so backed up. We waited in the check-in line for about another hour.

Oh, let me back track. I left my shoes at home. Yup, you read that right - no shoes. For a mud run. (You can smack me... I know, I know). I thought I'd put them in there and Angel had thought she'd seen them but it was a different box she saw. Lucky for me, Angel had brought an extra pair of sneaks. Unluckily, she was a half to a whole size smaller shoe but hey it was something right? Something that started causing blisters before the run even started (bad sign, I know...) ok, back to where we were.

So, I hunted some first aid down to get band aids on my heals and then we jumped in the start line, which was about another 20 min to half hour. At this time, it is close to 6pm that we're starting our 4.2 mile, 32 obstacle run.

We start going and hit the first obstacle and Anne and I completely conquer it using tons of team work and we are all having a good time. We took a steady (slow?) pace (think Turtle and the Hare - slow and steady wins the race - right??) and conquered the obstacles as we got to them. We were having fun. We were getting muddy. Then came some obstacle, 10 maybe? And they started screaming at us to finish up, that we had 45 minutes left (45 minutes and 22 obstacles left...) to finish the course - they were closing. They weren't very nice about it (ok, ok I'm trying to keep my opinion to myself, just facts...) we kept going on but this had honestly put a damper on our moods and our motivation. A man on a four wheeler kept going from behind to in front and yelling how much time was left while also stirring dirt from the course into our eyes (ouch). We made it to obstacle 19 and were told the course was closed and were shown a short cut to the finish line. We didn't even get to get in the black mud, the last obstacle, and get completely covered like swamp monsters, pretty sad.

It turns out, about 4 teams behind us made it and then after that everyone else was cut off - they weren't even letting anyone else start. This is all because it was getting too dark. I can understand that and the safety, but I can't help but wonder if it were better organized or the parking issue had been solved if the run wouldn't have gotten so behind and so many people wouldn't have been hours late to their start times...

Afterwards we rinsed off and went to get our shirts, but by this time it was well after 8pm and dark and late and we were tired. And of course the shirt line was a mile long as well and we had a four and a half hour drive back to my house, so we scadaddled (no idea how to spell that, hopefully you know what I mean). So there ya have it, I did it with intention to finish, but I didn't finish (by no fault of my own) and didn't even get a shirt to prove that I was willing and able to finish. *Sigh*

I wish when people asked how the run went (because of course everyone's been asking, it's the only thing I'd been talking about for weeks!) I could say how fun and exciting it was but all I can really say is disappointing. I went to finish and couldn't do that and it pretty much breaks my lil heart. We did have fun in the beginning though, so I'm going to focus on the positive. And my body was feeling it the next day, so clearly I did something!

I heard that this was the first year they'd done it at that particular location, so hopefully next year it will be better organized and they will be better prepared to accommodate 15,000 runners. Yeah, I think I'm gonna try again next year, as upset as I was the night of the run (hence why I waited a few days before writing) I really really want to finish the darn thing! Anne's got a few pics of us before and after (yes, there are mud pics even though we weren't in swamp mud we were still super muddy) so I will post them once she does.

Oh and my favorite obstacle? It was this one where we had to go under logs in the mud (actually there were quite a few like that) but this particular one the mud was still wet and goopy. Oh. My. Goodness. It is HARD to crawl your body through in goopy, suctiony, stinky mud. I found it hilarious and had a hard time doing it because a. it was difficult but b. I was trying not to die of laughter at the situation. Pics to come!!

Confidence. Syn: Certainty, Resoluteness, Spunk, Tenacity

It often seems that when Jonny left this world, my self confidence went with him. I've been a ball of constant neuroticism and self-doubt. I question every decision I make, whether I'm still pretty or fun, why people stopped talking to me (you remember those posts), how much of this is my own fault, whether I'm strong... everything. I felt like every confident cell in my body had drifted off, possibly off to Heaven with my husband. I second guess whether people like me or just hang out with me because they feel bad for me. I get anxious when it seems as if someone may be mad at me or if I simply don't hear from them. It was like the cool, calm, and sometimes collected girl I'd once been had evaporated.

I wasn't always cool, calm, or collected. I've always battled anxiety. There was something about Jonny that just made me chill out though. I guess his completely chill personality along with his promise that everything would be ok helped mold me into a more confident, laid back person. And being reminded I was beautiful on the reg really had me believing it. With the disappearance of these regular reminders, I began to wonder if anyone would ever see me as beautiful again. There are so many times I've wished I could see myself through his eyes.

Shortly after his death, I promised myself that I would do my best to remain the girl he fell in love with. If not only for me and my survival but for the mere fact that he would at least be able to still recognize me and find me. I said I wanted to stay that girl because that girl was awesome and could conquer any challenge. But, she's not quite there anymore. This new girl doesn't have the edge or sass the old one did. In the most simple terms, she's scared. Sometimes she wonders how she can still be that girl without him.

The bright side is, I've realized, she's not totally gone, not 100%. She's changed, and she's grown, but she's still there, underneath the hurt and the change and the fear, she's still hanging out. I'm still spunky, I've still got the same sarcastic whit and charm that drew Jonny in at "Are you trying to blow the smoke over that?!" and the other picking-on-him jokes that followed. My confidence is slowly coming back. If no one in this world ever tells me I'm beautiful again I'll know that I was beautiful to him, and that is enough to feel beautiful for an eternity. I'm also finding the confidence that I will eventually find some happiness in this world. I'm working on me, it's going to be a long haul, but I'm working on me and learning to love the person I'm becoming. And while she struggles and she doubts and she fears, she's still pretty awesome, she's still funny, she still has great hair, and she still does her damndest to be the best person she can be, faults and all. And for that, he would be proud. And from that, I will do ok. I will do more than ok, I will thrive.

Feeling pretty positive and hoping everyone had some positivity in their life this weekend, and if not this weekend, there's always tomorrow.

To Find the Words

I've been thinking of the words all day that I would type on this September 11th, nine years after the attacks.

What's been running through my mind is... this is why - this is why my Jonny was over there, this is why we are fighting. He gave his life for our country, to protect this great nation. It wasn't for nothing. It was for freedom, it was for America.

And I just keep thinking of the widows and surviving families of the victims of the attacks on the Twin Towers. Nine years later, I wonder how they're doing. I can't imagine how hard this day must be for them. The anniversary of their loved one's death, paired with news coverage to remind them that it is the anniversary. Not that they'd forget, but I can't imagine how hard it would be to not only have to have the anniversary but also have it in your face on television all day. Or maybe it makes it easier for them, to know that they are still remembered. I don't know, I haven't been in that exact situation. But I just keep thinking of them. I want to find them, even just one, and give them a hug. Tell them I love them and that while our circumstances are different, we walk this journey together.

I wish I had something more eloquent to write. Last year, as we were planning for deployment, I reflected on where I was when the attacks occurred and what they meant to me now as a Marine wife. What does it mean to me now as a Marine Widow? It hits so close to home. His death was not in vain. I am proud of him. I am so proud of his choice to become a Marine and to fight for what we believe is right.

So in case anyone has forgotten, this is why we fight. Let the political mess aside for the day and remember why we fight, remember what happened to our nation and thousands and thousands of people on that tragic day.

You Look Different

I was going to post about ants. I freaking hate ants. I think I hate them more than spiders, actually. A few weeks ago, I got some serious fire ant stings and one of them is on my foot and kinda screwed up a line in my tattoo so I'm seriously pissed at them. They are all over my backyard and are creeping up front, one pinched me on the front porch yesterday! Hopefully my landlords will rectify this when I talk to them or else I'm going to have to go buy a spray and spray everything because those little buggers are not welcome here. I just found some hanging out in my bathroom and to all those wondering... hairspray, the aerosol kind, doesn't kill them. Just a little tip. But don't worry, they squished and flushed away. It's like no matter how clean my house is, they always just creep in... oooh North Carolina...

So that was supposed to be my post but then I got thinking about a conversation my WBFF and I had during the AWP retreat. We were talking about looks. And we both agreed, we look different now. I'm glad we'd had this conversation because I'd looked at photos of myself and really thought, wow I just don't look the same, but one of my friends told me only I could see it. WBFF told me how others had noticed it in her and I think those who really, really knew me may see it too but just don't want to tell me.

When I look at myself, it's like my smile doesn't reach all the way to my eyes. Even if I'm genuinely happy (well, as happy as possible) or having a good time, it's like it's not quite there. I just feel I can look at photos of myself and tell something is missing. Something important and irreplaceable. I've always had eyes that change color. Usually, when I'm happy they're more blue and when I'm not they're more green. Right before I cry (and then during and shortly after) they typically turn a bright green. Regular days and moods, they're somewhere in between. I haven't noticed my eyes really blue since Jonny died. Maybe I just haven't looked hard enough or I missed the moments where they may have, but I certainly haven't noticed that blue.

Now, I'm going through photos analyzing... I'll post a couple before and after and you guys can see for yourselves.

Photo 1: (My husband is such a turd :-P) To me, I look completely lit up. This is when we were dating before we were engaged. Even though what I'm wearing also has an effect on how my eyes look and I'm wearing green here, they still look more blue (to me anyway).

Photo 2: Disney World, oooh JonnyCakes, always the comedian ;)
Photo 3: Forgive his exhausted look, he'd just come out of the field that day and we rushed down to Wilmington to find out if we had a hamburger or hotdog before he headed back into the field a couple days later
Photo 4: One of my favorites, just chilling out on a dock... beautiful sky, excellent NC fall weather... and my hottie... he looks sooo handsome in this photo...

Photo 5: Another one of my ultimate faves. On our honeymoon. God he's so handsome

I wanted to include a wedding day one since that was the happiest day of my life but I couldn't find the one I was looking for. Ok, now for the comparisons


Photo 1: Two of my favoritest people on a night out. I know I was happy here, I know I was having a good time...

Photo 2: Right before the memorial, so in all fairness definitely not a "happy" smile, just an I'm taking a photo and at least I took the time to look pretty smile... ha
Photo 3: Before Ariana's baptism
Photo 4: After getting my hair did

This wasn't meant to be a sobby or depressing post, just merely an analysis, and your opinions are welcome. Maybe I am seeing things, maybe I look exactly the same. Maybe neither my eyes nor my smile have changed and I'm just imagining it all because I know something is missing. Or maybe, just maybe, there's the slightest, faintest change... Hmmm. Either way, it was fun going through pictures and sharing some of my faves, even though I've probably shared them before...

The Progression of Time (Approachig 6 months)

In my opinion, frankly, time is scary as hell. Each passing day terrifies me. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for each day I am blessed with and each day I have with my little girl, my family, my friends, living... but it also scares me. It's a day longer, each day, from when I've been with him. Since he was alive.

I'm coming up on six months. It may not seem that long, but to me it's like some sort of milestone. A whole half a year.

Everyone seems so excited for September, for fall. Pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, scarves... but for me, it's another season to conquer without him.

I've had one spring and one summer (almost) without him on this earth. The seasons just aren't the same. Just another day, just another day you're gone is how it feels sometimes...

I think of this new month and all the days that will come with it, all the days that will come with each new month.

September 8 - 9 months since I last touched you, kissed you, held you, hugged you. Been with you in any physical sense.
September 10 - 6 months since I heard your voice, since I had any kind of contact with you at all.
September 14 - 6 months since you walked this earth, since the day you ascended into Heaven.
September 15 - 6 months since I found out you were no longer here. Ariana turns 8 months old.

It kills me that every time Ariana turns another month, each month on the 15th, I also think of that day... the day my doorbell rang, the day I heard the news.

I hate doing things without him, from small things to big things. I'm thankful I am here to get to do things, but I wish upon wish that he was here to experience them with me. He should be here with me going on vacations, taking the cruise. Here for Ariana's baptism and in the future, her birthday. We should be putting the trash out together, he should be here eating dinner with me, doing house chores. We should be together watching tv, laughing at commercials, driving around, singing and dancing. I know you're with us, but I just wish you were here in the physical sense. I want to see you do all these things too, or even if you weren't physically in the same area as us, I wish I could at least tell you about things and hear your reaction, get your input.

Ariana's getting baptized on Sunday. I was going to wait until Jonny was home from deployment to do it, and months have passed since his unit's return and I've finally said I've got to do this. I haven't been back to the church since the accident. It's the church we were married in. I'm terrified. I'm terrified I'm going to walk in the door, look down the aisle, and expect to see you there waiting. It's the last time we were in that church together, you were up there waiting for me. You weren't there during deployment, but I was ok with that because you were supposed to come back. Now I'm going to look and you're not going to be there waiting, and you're not going to be thousands of miles away but within enough reach that I could at least tell you.

We're supposed to be doing this all together. It's so hard to face each new day without you but I know that I am going to and that I'm going to do my very best. For you, for me, for Ariana, for us.

I hope with time, I will stop noticing the time as much. I hope the the 15th will not smack me as hard in the face down the road. Maybe it will, maybe it's one obstacle I'll face for the rest of my life... Who knows...
Here's to the future, may it bring more blessings, joy, and laughter than I could ever expect.

Widow Weekend

This past weekend, I headed down to Tybee Island, Georgia for a widow retreat sponsored by the American Widow Project, as mentioned in my last post.
Since traveling back up to Maryland with the family, I've had time to reflect a little on that retreat and what I gained from it.
The first thing I gained was a sense of normalcy. That's right folks - I'm pretty on the "normal" side of things, as far as being a widow goes. What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that everyone goes through things differently. We all feel, think, and do things at different times. However, many of the things we think, feel, do and experience... someone else has thought, felt, done, experienced the same damn thing and sometimes even at the same stage in the journey. I learned that so many widows have been disappointed by people in our lives. I kept blaming myself for how little contact I have with people who'd been there every day "before" and I realized, it's not me. I didn't do anything wrong. I was plunged into this situation, certainly one that I never asked for, never would have asked for, and some people just can't handle it. Luckily, there are people who can. I learned even more to be thankful for what I still have and to live life as it is now. To accept new friendships and not always try to blame myself or ask what I'm doing wrong if things aren't peachy. I also learned that sometimes, it's ok to feel. I realized that I've been blocking out a lot of my pain and sadness, I try to just keep being me without letting the grief come. Sure, I let it come, sometimes, like at night when I'm alone and it sneaks in or sometimes when I've had a little too much to drink, but I've learned that it is ok and even healthy to let that grief in. The longer you try to hide from it, the more it's going to hunt you down and it's going to hit double time later. I learned that it's ok to cry in public if you have to and you don't always have to be tough, especially not in front of your widow friends. That it's totally acceptable to be "the sad girl" and when you're with your widow friends, there's nothing to worry about because we're all "the sad girl."

All in all, I had an outstanding time and I met some very, very awesome women. I laughed, I cried, I shared, I listened. I got overly excited and interrupted. I stayed silent. I nodded in agreement. I asked questions. I made friends. I learned. I grew.

The first full day there, was a day of water fun. A group of us went jet skiing, and while we were on the skis some dolphins were swimming around. We were so close it was surreal. I may or may not have squealed like a little girl. My friend Ally saved me with her heiny at one point because I was totally headed right off the ski, over her shoulder, head first. Thanks Ally! Then we went parasailing. I've been before, but it never gets old. It is just so relaxing and peaceful. Ally and I went up together, and as she bumped against the dude putting her harness on (we were on a moving boat), she said hey you could at least buy me a drink first! So, he slides us a beer and up in the sky we went with a beer to sip while sailing through the air. It was definitely pretty tits, to say the least. That night we went on a haunted pub tour in downtown Savannah. Our guide wasn't the best so we decided to skip out early. We ended up at a dueling piano bar where they ended up pulling us up on stage and sang God Bless the USA. Wanna talk about tear jerker? I did everything in my power to not lose it in front of the entire bar (I'm still working on the being able to cry in public thing, ok?). There were a couple songs that were tough for me, and at one point my friend Diane must have just read the expression on my face (and I thought I was doing a good job hiding it) and came right over. It blows my mind that more than once someone knew exactly what I was feeling. I had a bit of a rough night but people were there sitting with me through it, reminding me that I not only CAN do this, but I WILL do this, and they were all living proof. I was the earliest one out, as far as since my husband's passing, 5 months. There were women from all time frames, 10 months, a year, a couple years, 5 years, 7 years, and it was great being around all those different time frames to show, Hey, they're still here, they're still living. Does it still hurt? Yup. Does it still suck? Certainly. But are they doing it, and making the best with the hand they were dealt? Yes, they are, and I will too.

The last day we were there we let off Thai Wish Lanterns. It was truly magical watching my wishes float up to the Heavens. I watched it until it was just a speck and then nothing. I like to think that when I couldn't see it anymore, that's when Jonny cupped it in his hands. All the widows made such amazing wishes, and I could agree with every single one of them. We also celebrated the 2 year mark of when I met Jonny. My roommate Allison's husband's birthday was a couple days before the retreat and Jonny and I's 2 years since we met was that weekend, so we were surprised with red velvet cream pies (our wedding cake flavor... go figure) and trick candles. We each told the memory of our special day (me - the day I met Jonny, her - her favorite bday memory of Michael) and enjoyed our cakes wedding style - cake face smashing and all.
Now I'm in widow withdrawal. I miss being with people who "get it" all the time. People who can see your expression and not only know what you're thinking but feel it too, because at one time or another, they've felt it themselves.

God Bless the American Widow Project, and all the amazing military widows I've had the pleasure of meeting and will meet in the future.

Forever and Ever, Babe. *HEART* You Stink!

PS If you haven't done so, please check out Bubba's Belly Run and considering registering or donating!

Copyright © 2014 | Designed by: Broken Road Creative