In 2015, in my second year of widowhood, I went to Camp Widow. Never heard of it? It is a weekend sponsored by Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, bringing men and women together in Tampa, FL, and San Diego, CA, for workshops and connections with other widow/ers from around the world. The speakers are exceptional, sharing their experience, strength and hope, and it all wraps up with a ball on Saturday evening, where men and women whose lives have incinerated around them with the death of their person, dance madly on the dance floor, music blaring.
The year I attended, there were roughly 150 people attending Camp Widow, and it took my breath away to see the number of young widows; women whose husbands were healthy young men, now left to raise their children on their own. Young men, whose wives had died way too soon…
Men and women, with the median age probably in their 40’s and 50’s. Men and women who carry grief in their hearts, desperately missing the one they shared their lives with, the one they loved, who loved them, reaching out to offer Love to one another, to hold each other up, to hold hands and share hugs, to listen without judgement, to bear witness to the stories each person carried. The woman who started SSLF is Michele Neff Hernandez, now a remarried widow, who sought, after her own experience, to reach out to others. That’s what life is all about, right?
I wrote the following piece after my first Camp Widow, and it holds just as true now as it did then. This is what was in my heart, and is in my heart still, after witnessing this phenomenal weekend…
And so you know what I have to say to all of you out there in the world who still have your husbands and wives and partners?
Forget the bullshit. Stop being so fucking busy that you don’t pay attention to each other and your relationship. If you’re in the habit of being a bitch to your husband and bashing him when you get with other women, knock that shit off. If you’re a man and in the habit of complaining about the old ball and chain, stop being an asshole. If all you do is gripe at one another and speak disrespectfully and condescendingly to one another, knock that shit off too. Even if you think you’re doing it in fun. Ever hear the phrase passive/aggressive? And do you know how fucking blessed you are to still have your husband or wife? Do you?
Don’t just grab them and hug them; drag your husband, your wife, your partner, off to the bedroom and have mad, crazy sex like its the last time for you. Smile at one another. Kiss each other for a minimum of 30 seconds; no peck on the cheek! Kiss consciously! Make your partner your priority. Over and above your kids. THEY’RE the ones who will be with you after the kids are grown and off to their own lives.
Become conscious of each other and your relationship. Every minute. Be aware of all you can do for each other, big and small, to show your love. Fucking talk to each other about what made you fall in love in the first place. Talk about your lives together and what you mean to each other.
Chuck’s death is the most devastating, excruciatingly painful thing I have ever experienced, bar none (and I’ve had numerous deaths in my life). And guess what? One day either you or your partner will be standing exactly where I am. So make what you have count NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week, not “Oh, I should schedule him/her in”. That’s bullshit. NOW is the time.
Because one of you, at a time hopefully far into the future, but really at any time, is going to be staring down at their beloved face in a coffin, the same way I did with Chuck, and your heart is going to break and you don’t want to have any regrets.
Tough for you to read this? It pales in comparison to what its like to live it~