I was challenged by my counselor to discuss what helped me the most after the loss of Rhea. I’m supposed to do this for a couple of weeks. So here is week one.
After the funeral, I had about a months worth of meetings, briefings, enrollments, memorials, military personal inventories of his belongings from overseas, appointments, etc. to get life as a “widow” set up legally for the military world and the federal government. Not only did I have to do all of their stuff, I also had to change all of my documents, as well. Every single thing we owned had both of our names on it, was deeded to one another, cars, my will, power of attorney, healthcare directive, etc. were all incorrect now. Bills, cell coverage, work documents, insurance, every single piece of paper with his name on it or was in his name had to be switched to my name. This is a massive, massive job folks. I was swamped, overwhelmed, no one understood what I was going through or knew how to help me, and I started to recluse a bit. I pulled in and started to build my walls. I didn’t want to see anyone who was a couple. I didn’t want to look at Facebook and see all the happy families on the beach smiling. I didn’t want to see dad’s pushing their kids on bikes outside. I didn’t want to go to couple’s YA Sunday School where I so obviously was no longer a couple. I didn’t want to do family things when my family was no longer whole. I didn’t want to do it, any of it, period. Life, at this point, hurt. All this life was going on around me, and it made me sick.
Then one day, after a day full of appointments, I get a phone call from one of my favorite people. Heather.
Here’s our conversation, the best I can remember.
Heather: "Hey, how you doing?"
Me: "Fine." (This is before I was banned from using the word fine anymore.)
Heather: "Need anything?"
Me: "No, I don't believe so."
Heather: “So what are you doing tonight?”
Heather: “You got the girls?”
Me: “Yep, got the girls.”
Heather: “Great! I’m going to take you all somewhere.”
Me: “Ok??? Where?”
Heather: “I’m not telling you. But Cara and her kids and me and my kids will be by to get you later on. Be ready in comfy clothes.”
Me: “Seriously, Heather?!? Where are you taking us?
Heather: “I’ll see you later.” And she hangs up.
Seriously!!! By the way, you can’t reason with Heather. Once she says something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. So the girls and I got ready, I fed them, and we waited to be picked up. They came and got us, and told us we were going to Worlds of Fun. The girls were ecstatic! Me…not so much. Not a big rides girl, get motion sick, don’t like big crowds, don’t like to be hot and sweaty. Super. But, I was being kidnapped, and the girls were excited, so I did my best.
We get there, it’s just 10 minutes away, and there are so many flippin people. My anxiety starts to rise, but I’m still doing ok. First ride, the carousel. Fantastic. Up and down and circles. Meet motion sickness’s best friend. I lived.
Second ride. Some ride that looks like a log. You go up to the top in a log and then splash down into water. Great. Hot, sweaty, too many people, and now my clothes are going to get all wet, too. Heather looked at me and said, “you going to ride it?” I looked at Joanna and Abigail, smiling from ear to ear leaning on the railings of the ride line and couldn’t’ say no. So in line I went.
After waiting in line a bit, it was time to ride. I braced myself for the plunge into the water, and got ready for the dive. To the top we went, and then….something happened, yes the log went down with us in it. But I was smiling, I was splashed with water and I was laughing. My heart was racing and I couldn’t stop laughing. The rest of the night continued in this fashion. I rode all the rides with my girls. I laughed with them, ate funnel cake, threw plastic balls at them in the plastic ball toy throw place thing. That moment of getting splashed with water changed me. One moment. I made the choice to live my life again.
I know it sounds silly, and there’s no way it actually changed just like that, but it did. I didn’t have to stay in the gloom that I was in. I didn’t have to look at every challenging moment that was thrown at me daily as the way the rest of my life would be. Yes, life was going to be challenging. Life IS challenging all on it’s own. Throw in losing your spouse in war and you can pretty much quadruple that challenge. But, it’s the life I got, and no one and nothing is going to stop me from living it. Not every dream, hope, and plan going away. Not wondering what life is going to be like now. Not being a “widow” at 30. Not nothin. Not even motion sickness. This is my life. I will not let those things take it from me. In fact, I won't let any thing, event, person, or idea take it from me. It is mine.
So, what helped me? A little push, or a kidnapping, out of my comfort zone, helped get me to where I am now. My friend, Heather, gave me that moment. Life, MY life, I chose to live again. I just needed a little splash of water and some laughter to get me to realize that I needed to start living it again.