When I began this blog last May, I did it with the intention "to grieve, learn, accept, and adapt." I also did it "to cope, heal, and to reach." Those are the words I chose to use in the first post I ever wrote here. Those were my intentions... and I believe I have succeeded.
On May 26th, just a week after Rick left this world, I began this blog, stating:
"A new beginning has presented itself to me, and though it was not my choice, I am choosing to welcome it."
How do you welcome a life-altering event with open arms? How do you relinquish control and give yourself over to the process? How do you move forward each day without expectations, just gratitude?
These are the questions I've asked myself over the course of the last year. And the answers to these questions lie in the posts archived here. The posts are the process, bared for all to see. This has been work. The answers to those questions lie in the work. I have worked very, very, very hard not only to live an authentic and fulfilling life after grief, but I have chosen to share that step-by-step journey with you.
This blog has sent more things my way than I could ever have imagined. I have gained surprise readers who have made an incredible impact on my life. I have been sent anonymous packages. I have developed relationships with strangers who have been through similar experiences. I have deepened existing relationships with friends and co-workers. I have been the recipient of random acts of kindness by way of cookies, cakes, letters, cards, cold medicine, tea, coffees, etc. - and I don't mean just in the first week after Rick's death. The love and support and sweetness has been ongoing, sporadically showing up over the course of this past year.
In good and bad ways, I have been shown the true nature of those in the world around me. I have been guided by a number of people, including my friend Pastor Ginny, the residents I serve, my parents, my best friend's mom, and even myself. I have been surprised, again and again, by the messages, comments, and emails that this blog has generated.
But most of all, I've been surprised by life itself. In a lot of ways, so much has been taken from me...but I have gained so much from this experience too, as strange as that might sound. I believe I have gained so much, because I chose to enter this transition LOOKING for all the positives. Look and you will see. Seek and you will find.
That's not to say I haven't had my awful moments. I have been sad, angry, hurt, lonely, and confused. And everything has been documented here. But the only way out is THROUGH - so I let myself feel all those things instead of pushing them away or hiding them somewhere no one could see.
One year ago, my mind spinning with shock, sorrow, and things to do, I sent a Facebook message to Heather, my best friend's mom (and also a widow), part of which said:
"Maybe I'll start a new blog called The Cat Widow.
Even in my grief, I think about a clever blog. WTF."
The next day, I made my half-joking musings a reality and this blog was born. When I began it, I had a vision of a site where I would daily chronicle my grieving process. And I have to admit, I do have a serious sense of pride in knowing that I committed and held fast to that vision without fail. I have written every single day, with very few exceptions, over the course of the last year. 12 months. Hundreds of days.
Today, I was contemplative all morning...running through feelings of gratitude for various people...putting together the pieces of the past year, if such a thing is even possible. I talked about some hard stuff with my co-worker friend Chelle. She thoughtfully brought me a piece of homemade cheesecake. At home, my friend Jennifer and I toasted to Rick's life. I'm mentally preparing for tomorrow...Monday...May 18th...a rough remembrance and a new Day One of a new year ahead for me.
This is not the end of the journey. I'm not ending the blog - at least not today. But don't be surprised if daily posts become bi-weekly posts, or bi-weekly posts become weekly posts.
My life, like these daily blog posts, has been tagged with the key words widow, death, suicide, husband, grief, loss, life... But I'm looking ahead, to key words like happiness, resilience, and love.