Survivor

That's what they say I am, anyway. Right? Everything is about "survivors." Counseling for survivors... organizations for survivors... survivor benefits... etc etc etc. I used to scoff at the word survivor. I didn't feel much of a survivor but as the one left behind. Doesn't sound as regal as survivor, does it? But that's what I thought. Now, a year (and 3 days) later, I see it. Survivor.

I have survived. I've made it a year through widowhood. As I post this now I think to myself isn't this the exact day I was posting about becoming a widow? I'm not sure, I'd have to check... Weird.

Please excuse me, my thoughts are hectic, probably the reason I've been avoiding blogging. With the one year mark of the angelversary comes so many thoughts. Good ones, bad ones. I feel almost proud of myself. I've made it. And I feel deeply, deeply sad. It hits hard. Balancing all these feelings is like that rock-weight game. Ya know where you gotta find the right rocks to put on both sides of the scale to make them even but they're always just a teensy bit off? Yeah... I go back and forth. I miss him more each day and I've been flooded with memories. Memories of the knock, the doorbell ringing. Memories of the news. The transfer. The funeral. But I just can't stop thinking "wow... I've actually made it." No matter how crazy it's been, I've made it a year. A year is a long time. I hate how long it is because it's how long I've been here but I've been surviving. It gives me hope that maybe I'll be ok in the long run. Maybe. I try to over run the memories of this time last year with memories from before. I tell stories, even though they seem like the same stories over and over because our time was so limited (that always kills me) I tell them anyway. It's weird because earlier today I was trying to remember what I did last year for St Patty's Day. Right away I thought, Oh yeah I was pregnant. Then it hit me. No, you weren't. It was days after you found out, you weren't celebrating a silly holiday. I went back to thinking of the pregnant memory instead, it's much more preferable to St Patty's Day last year (which wasn't even St Patty's Day at all, it was just March 17th... I think that's why I skipped it in my memory bank, of course my mind didn't register it last year...)

I was flooded with thoughts and prayers on the 14th from people all over. It meant a lot to know how many people were thinking of me - made me feel less alone. I have finally conquered all my firsts and there are still people standing by my side. I'm not walking this journey alone and even though sometimes I feel like I do - I don't have to. I don't. Even if the world walked out, Jonathan would still be there in some way, some how. He always is and I don't doubt he always will be. But these messages, they came from all over, from family, friends and strangers and they let me know that my husband and his sacrifice are not forgotten. If people forget about me that's whatever but it is important to me to know that people won't forget about him. And that is what amazes me, how many people let me know they won't forget and that won't forget my little girl and me either. It means more than I can express in words.

One of my favorite people came to spend some time with me during this tough period, the wonderful Mandy... we finally met! We roadtripped on down to Florida and spent time with some of Jonny's family. It's where I felt I needed to be. Being in St Pete is tough because I always get that feeling of "he should be here" but I feel closer to him on some level as well. Once again that uneven scale of feelings. We had a nice weekend though, I enjoy spending time with his family and I love seeing Ariana get to spend time with her daddy's side of the family. Since I've been back home I go up and down. I have the days where I don't want to get out of bed and I have the days where I feel I can conquer anything. And I suppose that's just life. Not only life as a widow but life in general. You've got your good days and your bad days and you make of it what you can. I think I've made the best that I can and I will continue to make the best of what I can. It's all I really can do.

Well, I don't think this post made much sense but I had a little itch to write (haven't really gotten it in some time, hoping I get it back for good!) and wanted to let everyone know that I'm ok, I know some people were worried, and that I am so very, very thankful for all of the support.

45 comments

  1. I could think of a million words to add to "survivor" to describe you girl! So glad to a blog from you when I logged on! Praying for you and your precious peanut ;)

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  2. You are a survivor girl! In so, so many ways.
    I am so happy to see that all the thoughts and prayers were sent your way along with mine, I have to admit a lot of days I think of you, little Ariana and Jonny's sacrifice. I even woke up on Monday and I told my husband that we needed to think of all of you and that I could not believe it has been a year, and that my heart aches for someone who I had never met and his family that sacrificed so much for all of us. My daughter even knows of Jonny (she was looking at my computer one day while I was reading your blog and saw his picture and asked who he was)
    And thats amazing that Mandy was able to come visit you!
    Even on your bad days you are amazing, I hope you know that!
    ohh and on a side note I missed your blogging :)

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  3. Angelversary. I like that. Yesterday marked 2 years for another friend of mine. Been a week of remembering. No, you are not forgotten, he is not forgotten, baby girl is not forgotten - no matter what. Love from El Paso, hon!

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  4. I was actually going through the pics on my phone on the 14th, and came across the one I'd taken of his cross for Tampa's Run for the Fallen last year. I was in the midst of deleting pictures, which is why I was going through them, and had to stop for a couple minutes, thinking of you, him , and your daughter. That picture is not going anywhere soon, and it definitely caused a few tears to flow!
    He will not be forgotten!

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  5. I hope you know that your husband will never be forgotten. I am a military wife, and every year on memorial day, I send out an email to everyone I know asking them to say a little prayer for people like you. Wives and families who have had to learn to survive without their loved ones. I make sure that everyone I know remembers and sends out love in honor of those who gave their lives for our country.

    I send this prayer out everyday too.

    My prayers are with you now. And know, that you will be in my thoughts and prayers always.

    I know so many who have lost loved ones and it's so important that we honor those we have lost, but it's also important that we remember those "survivors" who were left behind.

    Hugs and love from another USMC wife. :)

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  6. You are most definitely a survivor! And you are an inspiration to me. Prayers to you and your family.

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  7. You are not forgotten. Johnny is not forgotten. Sweet Ariana is always in my thoughts and prayers as well. Thank you for continuing to share your story, it is an important story to be heard.

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  8. I feel like just yesterday I read that post from a year ago, and I've been following your blog ever since. It's rare that I come to your blog without getting teary-eyed or actually crying. I wish I had the words to tell you how much I admire you. You truly are a survivor! So happy to see you've updated. You're in my thoughts & prayers!

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  9. Well I'm not good with words, especially with serious things. So you know what? You and your baby are really pretty and you seem like you'd be fun to have as a friend.

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  10. Love from Houston!

    Steph @ dogtagsanddevotion.com

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  11. You are a survivor and we will not forget. You amaze me in so many ways.

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  12. Always write when you get that "itch", no matter what it is that ends up coming out.

    So glad you had a friend visit, and spent time with family.
    *hugs*

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  13. I think (not that it matters, I'm just some internet person) you've done an amazing job. We do the best we can with what we have and know, and often that statements preempts a list a mistakes someone has made. It's like a qualifier for screwing up.
    But you didn't. From what you've shared, I think you've succeeded at a seemingly impossible task- surviving the first year. You did it! With your angel, your friends, family and daughter- and your wonderful, admirable drive- you did it. I really, really respect and admire you for what you've done and your will to share it with us. Thank you, and God Bless.

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  14. You, Jonny and Ariana will never be forgotten! I have been thinking of you all week and wishing you peace and comfort during this difficult anniversary. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us.

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  15. I was so glad to see you had a blog when I signed on. I was thinking about you this week. I know it is a rough time for you, but know a lot of people are thinking of you and Ariana. <3

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  16. I have watched you grow as a blogger. I am so in awe of you because of your candidness. Thank you for being so open this past year. I cannot imagine how tough it's been for you. But you have conquered this year and your myriad "firsts."

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  17. Mrs. P,

    I've been following you regularly since the "love bomb" drop. I am proud of you and amazed by your resilience. It wasn't a rambling post- it made sense and was so real. Thank you so much for continuing to share yourself and your family. I am always inspired.

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  18. Glad you got to see your in-laws. How precious. No, I will never forget you or him or your little girl. What a sacrifice. Freedom isn't free. Mary R.

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  19. I have read your posts before and pray for you often. I have laughed and cried and been angry and I want to thank you for sharing the memory of your husband with all of us out here in the blogosphere. And the work that you are doing for the troops is fantastic. Every time I see a uniform I think of the sacrifice that your husband made and it makes me appreciate the men and woman who serve that much more. But anyway, I saw your Widow Quotes and I'm sure you've seen this before a hundred time but it may be a good one to remember while all of these memories are swirling around in your head.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there, I do not sleep.
    I am in a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the softly falling snow.
    I am the gentle showers of rain,
    I am the fields of ripening grain.
    I am in the morning hush,
    I am in the graceful rush
    Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
    I am the starshine of the night.
    I am in the flowers that bloom,
    I am in a quiet room.
    I am in the birds that sing,
    I am in each lovely thing.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there. I did not die.


    And you are lucky to have the best and truest and most beautiful parts of him still with you. And you can see those things in the smile of your beautiful little girl! God Bless You and truly thank you for the courage to share your story.

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  20. I'm so glad to hear that you are well and doing as best as possible. I still think of you and your family just about every day. I'm glad you were able to write today...

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  21. I'm so proud of you Rachel! Survivor is a really good word. You're always on my mind and I can't wait till we get to meet too!

    Love you!
    xx

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  22. That was a nice blog entry, Rach. I'm glad you and the baby had the opportunity to go to FL. I'm glad that you both are doing well. I miss you here in MD.
    xoxoxo
    Jessieboo

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  23. I have never met ya, but I found your blog through a friend who became a widow. I am always amazed at your strength, when I read your posts. I can imagine that your husband would be so honored and proud of your endurance and strength through this past year. You are and will be a wonderful inspiration of overcoming adversity for your sweet little girl! You are living most military wives' worst nightmare, and through it, you are such an inspiration to me-someone you have never met, in Utah! I wish we could all pray it away, and you could have your ultimate dream :( A survivor, very much indeed, ma'am. Still praying for ya' in Utah!

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  24. You are a survivor. I don't think you may realize how many people you have helped sharing on your blog. People that have lost, people that may have been a bit self absorbed, that now realize how precious life is. People who take what our hubs due for granted that now realize the business they are in is not a pretty one. As I sit on the eve of another deployment and our boys and my hubs head out I wonder how many of our wives, girlfriends and loved ones know to tell the one they love just how much they mean to them. I know you have opened eyes and hearts by sharing your deep pain and stuggle and your heartwarming insights and even your humor. Thanks you for doing that. I know I can't get over it's been a year already and I am an interlooper looking from the outside. Your a tough cookie, and I am proud to count you as my Marine Sister.

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  25. I cant even put into words. Your a hero.

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  26. My heart goes out to you. I am dating someone in the Army and he may deploy to Libya. And if he does he is ending it with me for his time there because he doesn't want to hurt me if something happens. I get it... only because of you and I thank you for blogging...

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  27. I've been following you for a while, and I'm inspired by your strength.
    Sending hugs from North Pole, Alaska...
    J~

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  28. I believe it would be difficult to make sense at all of such a tragedy. It's wonderful you share your heart.

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  29. Just wanted to let you know I am giving you the Stylish Blogger award! You can check out the post at
    http://themizenfamily.blogspot.com/2011/03/yay-i-got-stylish-blogger-award.html
    I love that you are so open and willing to share your feelings with all of us. You deserve this award well above anyone else!

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  30. Congratulations on being a Survivor and such a beautiful inspiration!

    Thank you for allowing us to walk with you on this journey.

    Please post pics of you and Ariana sooon :D

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  31. You & other wives in your situation are truly an inspiration to me, you truly are "survivors" I can only imagine.

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  32. The three of you will never been forgotten and I am always thinking of you dearest. I hope that you know so many people love you and care for you and that you will never be alone. Love you :)

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  33. You are such a survivor my friend. Keep taking every day as it comes. Sending hugs and kisses your way. :)

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  34. Hey doll! =) I attempted to add you on FB some time ago & I don't think you got around to adding me, or everwhat.. [sad face.] lol Anyway, I haven't had a chance to get on here with all the overseas PCS bull caca & everything but I have been thinking of your family, balling like a baby for you all, & praying often. I just wanted to tell you how so very proud of you I am, & I am cheering on your sideline every freaking day (even if we've never met & I'm hardly on blogger these days). =)
    Take care, girly! &If you ever need anything or want to talk, I am only a click & tap of the keyboard away! <3

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  35. You definitely are a Survivor. You are not only living for yourself and your baby girl but for Johnny as well. He would be very proud of you today. I have been following your blog for sometime and have finally been able to bring myself to comment.

    One of my very best friends is a "Widsta" as well and your blog helps me understand more of what she has been through but isn't so open to talk about. I referred her to your blog a couple months back, I should see if she has read it yet.

    I just want to tell you how awesome you are. Keep on keeping on ;)

    <3Terra

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  36. I have been following your blog for a good 8 months, and out of all the wonderful things I think I could describe you as, I think survivor fits perfectly.

    5 days ago a friend of mine lost her husband overseas. I dont really know what to do for her, especially since I am on the complete opposite side of the country. But, what I can do for her is never forget him or their family so thats what I have been doing.

    Each time you blog, I see how you are surviving, and now I think about my friend and how she and her son and his daughter will have to learn to survive too. After reading this entry, I wonder where they will be in a year too.

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  37. Hi, I'm Mary, I am sorry to say that I haven't been to your blog since last year. I'd been reading your blog for a few months at the time, and your writing really resonated with me. I can only say that as a widow myself (my husband wasn't in the military, he passed away after a long, critical illness) it hit me very hard, and for that I apologize. It hit me so hard, because I knew that you hadn't had the time to fulfill the promise of your relationship, and as much as I wanted to, I didn't know what to say. It's so easy for even well meaning, honest and earnest expressions to sound trite when one is going through the grief of such loss.

    I identified with you so much, because I understood the fire in your belly, your speaking out and putting a human face on your legitimate concerns. I'd had to be there fighting for my husband, and I could appreciate where you were coming from. I have a God son serving, and come from a family that has always served in times of war.

    I want to tell you, that things do get better, it takes time, different for each person who goes through it. Don't rush yourself, and please remember that it's important to talk, to write, to get out your feelings, even if it's only in a private diary. Lean on your friends, and family and don't be afraid to reach out to them. It's part of what it takes to get through this. Also remember this, the result of surviving is living. You, and now your child was and continue to be part of the promise of your and Jonny's union. You, and your love for him, and the impact of his love for you, have strengthened you for your and your child's future ahead, just as you strengthened and improved Jonny's life, and that made a tremendous difference to him. What I've learned over the past few years is that by going forward, I'm honoring the promise of that life together.

    Do what you need to do, don't be hard on yourself, take your time, but remember, each new day is a new step forward in your life, a new opportunity.

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  38. You are really something. I've read through your blog. I just want you to know that I admire you. You have a beautiful daughter! I'm so glad you have each other. As the wife of a former Marine (he got out after five years) I can't completely relate as far as the different sacrifices we have both made, but my heart aches for you nonetheless. I'm glad you are living your life. Thank you for sharing your story through this blog. I think you touch more people than you might think.

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  39. Well I'm in tears. You are so strong and I hope you know that I will never forget you, John, or your little girl. I think of you all often. You are a survivor and one day you're heart will be healed. God bless you and your little girl.

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  40. Your family's sacrifice will never be forgotten. Your husband lives on in your memories, your actions, and the life you are creating with your little girl. I pray that God blesses you both, and your extended family, and that you are comforted, particularly during this first Anniversary.

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  41. A friend of mine lost her husband not long ago. He was actually home from deployment and died in a freak accident. It's so hard to know what to say...you spend time hoping it never happens, but when it does, it's still the biggest shock. I think about you, even though I don't know you (sounds creepy! lol) and I hope you are okay.

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  42. Are you blogging anymore? Haven't heard much from you?

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  43. New follower!! I am so glad I found your blog. What an inspiration. My DH of 3.5 years is deploying for his (and mines) first time. Not to be a wet dog, but I always tell him that if something happens, I am raising our two beautiful kids, getting some cats, and reading a lot of books. I just can't imagine trying to start over or loving anyone else the way I love him. May I ask, does your new boyfriend know about this blog? Will he?

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