14 August 2019

Hot August Nights

Fifteen years ago, on a hot, August evening, John and I got married.
You can see us sweating! It was seriously hot.














Three weeks later, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Days after John got his diagnosis, being comforted by The Best Cat in the World, Dinner.















About 18 months later, Maddie and Riley were born.
Mads on the left, Riley on the right.















And ten months after that, John died.
Last pic of John with the twins, three days before he died















Now, I'm 47.
NOT A TEENAGER



















And the twins are 13.
TEENAGERS















And today would be John's and my 15th wedding anniversary. Only he's dead, so it's not, but that's always felt a little weird to me because it's not like we chose that ending, or did something to undo being married. I mean, obvs, I can't be married to a dead person! Creepy! But I do feel cheated  out of 13 years of not being married when it wasn't my choice to be done with that.

Most people I interact with day to day never met John. That's been true for years now, ever since I moved back to Portland. I have probably even blogged about that, but hot damn, it's been so long since I blogged that I just don't remember. The kids and I talk about him; they are at an age where they are really aware of not having a dad, and want to know more about him, know how they are or aren't like him. They miss what they have never had; I miss what I briefly had but didn't get to keep.

I've been thinking about coming back to blogging for a while now. I dated someone for a long time who did not like being mentioned on the blog, and I respected his wishes, which meant that I mostly didn't blog during our relationship because it was such a big part of my life that I couldn't figure out how to make that work. In retrospect, our very different approach to public/private life was likely a harbinger that despite both of us being wonderful people, we were not destined to choose a life partnership. But it ended up taking us five years to figure that out, and by then, I didn't know how to come back to this.

Still don't.

But trying.

Over the intervening years, quite a few people have reached out to me, so empathize, sympathize, ask for advice. To all of you: I'M SORRY. I didn't reply. I . . . I . . . I needed that time away, I think. I needed a bunch of years where I put the widow part of my identity aside so that I could figure out who I am in the wake of years of all-consuming grief. During those years, it was just too much to feel all of those feelings that people had when they would reach out to me after finding themselves facing a similar situation to what John and I faced in 2004. So I'm sorry for being selfish, at a time when I understand just how much you needed to know that someone else gets it, and that you can and will survive.

I've recently had occasion to think about the grief of not getting to have something, of the conundrum of the wrenching, wretched realness being cheated out of something you wanted and even felt like you DESERVED. This summer I was blindsided by something happening that brought all of that up to the surface for me, with an intensity that took me down crying for days. Truly, I was crying all day, every day, for days. I didn't even know I could do that. It sucked. Dumb grief that never, ever ends.

But all of those tears, once they passed, I found that they had opened me back up to a big range of feelings at the opposite end of the spectrum: happy, curious feelings that I also hadn't felt with such intensity in years. This coexisting of things that seem like they can't both be true at the same time, yeah. That is something that this stage of my life seems to be full of, which is confusing and beautiful.

I'm going to try being back here, to share the beautiful confusion, fifteen years later and counting.



28 comments:

Anne said...

So nice to hear your voice again, what beautiful photos and memories...

SB said...

It's so nice to read your voice. I have thought about you over the years.

Jennifer said...

Glad you're back!

Deb said...

Having followed your blog for years, I was delighted to see this post pop up in my reader tonight. I’m so glad you are back!

LydiaofCO said...

Thanks for coming back!

Jane said...

I have kept you in mind and often wondered how you were doing in life along with the twins ...so lovely to read your words and hear your voice again !

J-Berg said...

Welcome back! It's good to "hear" your voice again.

Anonymous said...

So happy to read this

SmileyGirl said...

I so agree with others - this popped up in my feed reader and surprised me (wonderfully so!). Sorry you had to go through the yuck to get to the good but sometimes life has a way of shaking us up. Welcome back!

ANGEL ABBYGRACE said...

After all this time, so good to see you back again. Been too long. Please continue and welcome back.

Peg said...

Missed you! So glad to see you writing and pics of the twins!

Kate said...

I was so happy to see a post from you! I'm glad you're back.

Chris said...

I'm glad to see you back, and that you and the twins are doing well.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

jill said...

Well I for one an teary, like reconnecting with a long lost friend. Your kids are beautiful and I'm glad to hear you are all well. I'm looking forward to your being here again.

Maggie said...

I just want to echo what others have already said, I was so excited to see your name in my feed reader!

kimberly/tippytoes said...

This was such an exciting surprise! Welcome back!

Unknown said...

Thanks, everyone! It's great to be back!

laura said...

Wow, I’m so happy to see you back. I must’ve started following you during the “pregnant with twins” phase (mine are 13 too) and have wondered how you’ve been. Look forward to you writing more.

Solitary Diner (Also Known as The Frugalish Physician) said...

Welcome back! So sorry it's because of hard things and grief, but I am glad that there are some beautiful things in the midst of that.

Betsy said...

So pleased to read your words again. Thank you for sharing.

Sandy B. said...

Echoing the chorus of joy to see a couple new blog posts from you. When I became a widow at the age of 36 in 2011 in Portland OR, some of the biggest support I got was from reading your blog and other young widows'. I didn't know (remember) we live in the same city! Thank you for being you.

Kristen said...

Count me as another who was thrilled to see a new post (two!) from you. Welcome back!

Anna D. said...

I followed you back when I used to blog, long ago, as a pseudonymous academic (like seriously long ago...2004-2011ish?), and I'm not sure how I even first came across your blog, but I'm glad it's still in my feed reader and to see this update from you.

Sara L. Uckelman said...

Welcome back!

Unknown said...

What a nice surprise!

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a great surprise. You've been missed.

Anonymous said...

I've checked in, every so often, wondering how you were .... and here you are. Many of us missed you!