My friends call me Wonder Woman, which always makes me laugh because while they find me unique in what I accomplish, it’s their daily demands that secretly fuel my need to be everything to everyone. Or more accurately, they make me believe it’s admirable to be a crazy woman – working, loving, and caring for all the things in my life until I privately crash with exhaustion. It’s this collapse that has inspired me to share the details of my descent into overwhelming loss, revealing how that experience helped me discover my real strength, appreciating that the best thing about being lost is the joy you discover along the way!
When my husband Chris passed away in January, it was the end of a defining chapter in my life. He was one of the few people who knew me; he gave me the courage to be big and bold, understanding that behind my big persona was a shy woman. I met Chris when I was 24, and we dated and were married for 23 years. I only mention this as a point of comparison; in the 24 years I lived before Chris, I learned to walk, talk, ride a bike and drive a car. In the 23 years I lived with Chris, I learned to earn an income and to be a wife and mother. After Chris died, there was a fundamental shift in my existence; many of the pieces of my life no longer fit together.
The good news is that while parts of my soul were torn away, other bits grew in their place. Words like fortitude, honor, freedom, and strength tiptoed into my vocabulary. It’s hard to watch your husband be zippered into a bag and taken away by the coroner. It’s harder to tell your children, “your father is dead.” That’s grit. Expecting your mother-in-law to live with you and share in the joy of your kid’s lives forever, that’s an honor. Buying a home based solely on your earned income to debt ratio; that’s freedom. Getting out of bed every day; that requires a strength that even I can’t describe.
Welcome to my joy-filled journey.