Fuck Father’s Day.

If your child has a nut allergy schools will at minimum make an attempt to shield your child from it. Even if it’s a poor attempt they ultimately wouldn’t want a physical liability on their hands.

Oh no. It’s a scary photo of reality. Quick. Divert your eyes. You mustn’t see others pain!

What about if your child has a dead father? Or maybe their father died when they were very young or before they were born? Or while I’m there, an absent father? Or maybe you aren’t too great of a mother and have filled your child’s head with lies about their dad?

What about those kids?

Are there warning signs posted for them? Does the class have to pay attention to this child’s specific needs? No. because these needs are “mental”…except they aren’t because there are physical responses to grieving too.

The physical response is different but nonetheless becomes physical. One child has a potential to suffer from anaphylaxis. This is terrifying, so we pay attention. A grieving child is different. They lash out in ways we don’t understand, like you know, by holding a knife to their throat or laying in the street begging to be ran over by a car or crying in their room for hours or not saying a word.

But fuck those kids, am I right?!

Make them sit among their peers and sketch out things they love about their father with a shitty Crayola marker. Make sure you talk about their father ALL day. Hype them up ALL WEEK for Father’s day crafts.

Make sure you ask them and talk about what they love about their dad and what they are doing for the summer with their dad. Do this in front of the class.

Really rub it in their face and do it every year, please. Do it so much they have to learn to numb themselves so it doesn’t hurt as bad and become emotionally detached adults.

Really give yourself a gold star when you realize they don’t have a dad and you suggest with a smile “oh well I’m sure there is someone you could make a card for? there’s an uncle…or grandpa even? SOMEONE has to have a penis that you know right!?!”

Pat them on the head and feel good about yourself as you walk away because your job is done. That child is cured. Why didn’t I think of the replacement penis idea!? Profound accomplishment.

Can you tell its not the same or should I become more vulgar?

And no, this is in no way similar to a grieving exercise during group counseling. (Because those kids share a common thread=dead parent. They aren’t surrounded by reminders of living parents.)

A father is a special person, no doubt. When my life wasn’t a shitty Netflix series, or a compelling HBO drama, or a Lifetime movie, we did Father’s day crafts too.

But this was always in the back of my head. I just didn’t say anything. I tried to be sensitive when I noticed it, but I was so clueless of the silent chaos.

Since I am well aware of the chaos that ensues behind those little faces when they return home, I must say:

Fuck father’s day. Really fuck this day. Maybe year 5 of grieving for us we will do something cute and “remember the good times” but for us, in year one. Fuck it.

Here’s a crazy idea. It’s wild but hear me out. Respect and honor your father, if you have one, every day. Be thankful if he dotes over you, protects you, or hell, even says hi to you.

At this point we would take anything. This post won’t eliminate father’s day from the world and I am so ignorant in my grief that I don’t have a better idea on how to go about that day for my kids. But I guess I’ll learn how to navigate that one too.

Learn all this shit I really don’t want to learn.

First Time.

First Time.

I am giving you a heads up now.

This is a blog about grieving and how it impacts aspects of my life. As the title suggest this one is about my first time having sex with someone after Jesse- but remember it’s a grief blog, not a porn site. So I won’t be sharing details like that.

Jesse has been gone for 5 horrible months. Jesse doted on me for 13 years. He brushed my hair, touched me, you name it. He was a very intimate person.

Then one day he was gone. Everything was gone. I didn’t get a choice. Life just told me “deal with this thing you are clueless about.”

A lot of people go without intimacy but I wasn’t used to it so on top of grieving I felt neglected but also confused about how to even approach it because it’s weird and I have all this baggage. (This run on sentence depicts my chaotic racing thoughts).

I asked another widow what I should do and she, like I have seen quite a few times, told me to go for one of Jesse’s close friends. She said they will know what to do.

And she was right.

So, because I’m such a classy lady, I text Jesse’s one friend and asked him if he would have sex with me- but to be forewarned I was going to cry. He said he knew I would too, but agreed.

Weird right? See no one talks about this, but this is really common in the widow community. We all share exactly same traits that are completely normal yet we pretend they are not and it’s a big secret.

I should add some widows don’t cry. They don’t “care.” Also normal. But I’m not on that side of it.

So he came over. It was a bit awkward, like my last blog suggest- I feel like a virgin even though I’ve likely had more sex than most people I know. When we did it I expected to cry and I didn’t. I was pretty okay. He was very sweet to me.

Then I laid on his chest. That was the trigger. Instant tears. Last time I laid on Jesse’s chest was to hear his heart beat for the last time and I tried so desperately to engrain the sound of it in my head so I wouldn’t forget it. I also always laid on Jesse’s chest too.

When I cried it didn’t scare him and he didn’t make me feel weird. It was as perfect as my fucked up situation could be. He held me and let me cry and we talked about Jesse. He said he missed him too and how awesome he was.

Normally that would likely be weird but in this weird grief world I am in that is very standard.

If I had been with a stranger and cried they likely would not have cared. They wouldn’t know who Jesse was. I’d have to explain my entire self if I started crying. But Jesse’s friend already knew. He just let me do what I needed to do.

He understood why I was weird about moving things that were Jesse’s and was extremely respectful about it. He loved his friend. He has also suffered quite a few losses so he just knew what to do and say. I didn’t have to explain.

He also brought me a bottle of wine and flowers. So he got bonus points.

I think it’s important to say that just because I checked another box of the “things that prove Jesse really isn’t here” list doesn’t mean I’m cured now. I’m still sad and upset. Im just also a human. When Jesse died I didn’t eat for 3 days, but eventually I had to eat. Eventually this had to happen. I’m not a saint. Im a paladin (Jess always used to say that).

If you read this and think it was too soon or it’s strange that it’s Jesse’s friend, it’s really not. It was exactly what I needed.

Someone who gets me, knows me, knows Jesse and respects the situation.

Life After Death.

My life is a joke.

Let me tell you what it’s like to deliver your baby when your husbands dead (hint: it sucks!) It boggles my mind that I am here and about to explain how I felt. That I am the one really living this.

My sister-in-law, Kayla, helps me a lot now. She didn’t sign up for that. Just like her husband didn’t sign up to be a widow whisperer (I’m not the only widow in his life unfortunately). But both of them do as much as they possibly can for the kids and I.

So my sister-in-law was the person who came with me to get my caesarian done. She was newly pregnant and blood makes her want to vomit. She was exhausted and wants to sleep 24/7. So she is a total champ for being up at 6:00am to watch a c-section be done (late I might add) at 12 then monitoring a newborn in the NICU until 5. She didn’t even eat that day.

At least my nurses thought Jesse was hot.

I was really anxious about my c-section. Jesse was my calmness through it. While his sister tried she is not Jesse. I’ve had 3 prior c-sections and the thing that stood out most to me this time during surgery was the noise.

I had never heard the noise before. The “scalpel”….”scissors,” being requested by the doctor. I never heard the doctor tell his assistant “see theres the bladder- its a bit scarred” (what does that even mean?). I never heard the cutting noise. It is like getting kitchen shears and cutting a piece of meat. It makes a snapping noise. It was really horrible to hear and despite Kayla’s presence I did focus on it. I didn’t realize how much Jesse actually calmed me down until he wasn’t there… Calmed me down or at least distracted me because he kept getting up out of his chair to see what was going on and was *yelled* at by the doctors to sit down.

I also felt the pushing much more intensely. When you have a csection, the doctors push and pull on your stomach area to get the baby out. You feel this pressure but not the pain. The pressure was extremely heavy and made me feel as though I was going to pop. Again, not my first rodeo, it’s my fourth- but my senses seemed to be more keenly aware of touches and sounds.

When Wren came out, the feeling of pure bliss and love did not happen as my experience 3 times before. I felt practical concerns- I was worried if she was okay or not. I did think she was beautiful. I knew I felt love for her. But I just also felt such confusion. Where is your dad at Wren? Why is he not here to see this? I know for a fact if he was still here we would both be beaming. We would have our typical private discussion that we had the most beautiful children. That they were so perfect and we were so lucky. We were a little biased and I miss it so much.

Instead it was silent as we watched the doctors get you to breath. Your aunt said you were so beautiful. I am not sure what I said. I know I was worried about your breathing but I also knew you would probably be okay. I had some hope. I also desperately wanted the xanax they had promised me. My mind kept going back and forth from “check Wren,” to “give me the medicine,” over and over. I was extremely worried that I would have a panic attack if I did not get it soon.

Jesse and I were always really open about sharing the c-section photos. We know this made people uncomfortable, but to us it was so cool. The moment when a baby moves out of a uterus and begins to thrive outside of it. It’s amazing. Kayla looked through Jesse’s old photo’s and tried to mimic what he did the best she could. This shot is pretty cool.

Unfortunately Wren could not breathe on her own despite numerous attempts so the doctors told me she would have to go to the NICU. Again, I was obviously concerned but I knew this also happened to babies born at 37 weeks- it wasn’t too out of the ordinary.

What I wasn’t expecting was that I could not go to the NICU with Wren and she would be there longer than 30 minutes. 1-3 days they suggested.

They put Wren near my cheek and then took her away. They allowed Kayla to go to the NICU with her.

Thanks for letting me see my kid for 5 seconds. Sometimes c-sections suck.

After Kayla and Wren left I was stitched up and wheeled back to recovery to stay for two hours, where the nurses kindly pushed on my newly cut open stomach the entire time to insure I wasn’t internally bleeding. That was more painful than surgery.

Once I was wheeled back to maternity, I was fortunate enough to hear a few newborns crying and subsequently see their fathers rocking them. I literally had to laugh that I was being wheeled back to the room with “no baby” and no husband. No anybody, just my phone. Throw in COVID restrictions- God was determined to make sure I was absolutely alone, apparently.

Back in the day Jesse would take the baby out of the operating room, Id come out and nurse the baby- then he’d let me sleep a few hours. The surgery always exhausted me.

That didn’t happen this time. My adrenaline was ramped up completely. I was wide awake from 6am on 3/18/21 and stayed fully awake until 4am on 3/19/21.

At 2am on 3/19 I made myself stand up. This hurt but the staff told me if I could stand I could go see her. So I did and really quickly. Again, not my MO… my MO used to be I didn’t stand until like day 2 and when I did Jesse made sure I didn’t even pull up my own underwear. TMI- but if you’ve had a c-section you would appreciate that. Everything hurts with a c-section, when you move it feels like someone is pouring hot oil on your stomach- so someone pulling up your underwear is a bonus.

But no- instead after 12 hours I stood up and walked to my wheelchair. I was finally allowed to see Wren at 4am. I held her for 5 minutes and instantly fell asleep. I suppose my mom adrenaline was just kicked into full gear so once I had her I shut off.

I woke up in the NICU chair realizing this probably wasn’t a great idea and placed her back in her little NICU bin. I told myself I would sleep for 2 hours and then come back.

Luckily (loose word) my friend, Amanda, worked in the NICU so that morning she was assigned to Wren’s room. I felt a bit better that she wasn’t alone and someone who knew me was with her.

Later that day Wren was given a bath and Amanda did her hand print along side her fathers. I am so thankful she happened to be working because otherwise it would have been more stressful.

My mom and mother-in-law were also allowed to visit her, but due to covid that was it. I couldn’t have anyone else with me. The nurses and social worker commented that I seemed to be doing “okay” given my circumstances. I was “okay” I suppose because of my anxiety. A social worker came in and evaluated me also. I have seen many a social worker since this happened. I can tell honesty isn’t something they hear often because when they ask the “do you have suicidal thoughts?” question I usually say “yep.” They always seem so taken back by that. It kind of shows me that a decent amount of people are lying…My husband just died and I am in the NICU with my baby that can’t breath. I’m not okay.

However, I won’t carry out the deed. I’ve made that abundantly clear. It doesn’t stop the feelings though.

Despite “doing okay,” by objective standards, I began to decline when my mother-in-law held Wren. That crushed me. My mom had already held her a ton, but for some reason the fact that Jesse’s mom was meeting Wren before Jesse…and Jesse would never meet her, just really screwed with me.

Wren was released later that day. I brought her back to maternity and tried to breast feed her. She was on formula in the NICU and Jesse was not standing next to me- so this resulted in Wren and I both crying for the next two hours. I kept trying to get her to latch and suckle but it was a struggle. I supplemented with formula (which she is almost weened off of) but it was not easy. Additionally, breast feeding increases my depression. This may sound weird as mother’s say it’s a “joy” to breast feed but for me it is not. When Wren latches it increases my sadness ten fold. It’s really strange. Usually when she feeds I will hyper focus into my phone because the sadness is so intense. Distractions are my best friend.

On Saturday, 3/20, I was asked if I wanted to leave the hospital. I said no but I had to- because of my other kids. They had not seen me but on Facetime since 3/18- and the last place they saw their other parent was a hospital bed so I had to make sure they knew this was different.

I sent pictures of Wren to her siblings and they were instantly in love with her.

These made me laugh. Chloe and Oraia are like oil and water. Only they could get in a fight over text about their baby sister.

Once the staff knew I was going to leave, they started preparing the discharge papers. That’s when the lady who had to complete birth certificate information came. Usually Jesse did this.

I’ve always been good at keeping every document, every card, photo. I’m glad I am this way.

This time Jesse could not do the birth form. No big deal right? Wrong. The woman began to tear up and she told me she was so sorry and that she had been dreading coming to my room all day, but under “father,” they had to write “unknown,” as Jesse and I were not legally married.

(I have a separate blog on this issue, see Marriage).

So Wren has his last name because I could put that down, but legally she has no father. *cue Maury*

Obviously I am fighting this. It won’t be too difficult to correct but just another pain in my ass thing I have to do, like I don’t have enough shit to deal with.

When it was time to leave, my parents were the ones to pick me up. This was so triggering. Jesse always wheeled me down and then pulled the car around. I am glad I have my parents but it felt so weird.

I started crying so hard. I probably looked crazy but this was so painful for me. My nurse came up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder and said “honey I am so so sorry.” My nurses were pretty great and I am glad for that.

Bringing Wren into my home felt so cold. Everything was so ridiculously quiet. It is crazy that a house with 4 children- one being a newborn- is so eerily quiet, but it was and still is. It’s one of the things I hate the most. Jesse was so warm and bright, so it felt like I was bringing Wren into our prison.

Despite this, the kids were absolutely thrilled to see her.

Commence fights over holding the baby.

Since then, it has been about a month. Wren makes the kids so happy and I actually have slept more since I had her. That sounds crazy… that I am sleeping a bit more now that I am a single mom to a newborn- but that just shows how upside down my life is. I am in no way getting good sleep, just a tiny bit more.

Wren has definitely helped our entire family. She is a bright light to us. I do struggle with mixed feelings of happiness and sadness constantly though. Happy to have her, but then sadness that Jesse does not have her. It is not fair to him.

Many people, myself included, think Wren looks just like Jesse and that she has very mesmerizing eyes.

When I stare into Wren’s eyes I see something different though. I see Jesse’s lifeless eyes in the core of her bright and alert eyes. I cannot unsee it. I stared into the eyes of my soulmate so intensely as he was declared brain dead by doctors. Then subsequently stared into the eyes of our last child as she was declared born and well by doctors.

Wren Jesse Pitts ❤️

Marriage.

I feel as though some people struggle to understand why some people don’t get married immediately- if at all.

Jesse and I were not legally married. If common law marriage still existed here we likely would be. I am not sure why it was taken away.

We held each other out to be the other’s spouse. We owned property together. We shared accounts. Had 4 children.

We just delayed getting married because it wasn’t about what other people needed- it was about what we needed. It wasn’t a rush. We were already together.

Here. Enjoy some photos of us at other people’s weddings.

When you are not married but you are in a long term committed relationship it does not mean you don’t love each other or its a pass for cheating. To my friends in this similar position of being “unmarried,” there is no shortage of love or loyalty in the relationship.

Actually, I sometimes think there is more, because what is holding you back from leaving? Certainly not marriage, or being afraid of losing assets. It shows you are there purely because you want to be. You are loyal not because of consequences- you are loyal out of love.

Cliche standards of what love is don’t matter. Love is what you and your person agree it to be. If it works for the two of you, it works.

Jesse and I always intended on getting married, but we didn’t get the chance. We figured after I was done with school perhaps. Just he and I somewhere- like Transylvania (yes, we are referencing back to Dracula)…or Ireland. Then maybe some small party back home to appease family.

I have a few messages like this. He wanted to just see “Rochelle Pitts,” one day. I will never understand why the universe was so cruel to him…

When I told Jesse I was pregnant with Chloe at 19, the marriage question immediately followed. He asked if we should. I said no and shrugged. Not because I didn’t care or didn’t want to, I just didn’t want to be married “just because” we had a child. I’ve seen this so many times and it drives me crazy. I’ve also seen people get married just because they are lonely. I’ve seen people get married just to settle or to get married just to be able to say they are married. I told him if we really love each other we don’t need it, not yet anyway. He agreed and we nailed down this philosophy together. Being intensely dedicated to each other without paper or societies view of what love should look like. It ended up working out well. Everyone around us could see it.

Practically speaking, I also didn’t want a court house wedding. I am kind of an all or nothing person.. give me the best or give me nothing. A $100 court house wedding just didn’t appease me. A $200 ring didn’t appease Jesse. The ring thing I wasn’t too concerned about- I ended up getting a ring from him, but he always said he wanted my wedding ring to be “1/3 his salary.” I don’t know where he came up with this concept and cant judge it because I wanted a wedding in a different country. But with all of our children and college- that wasn’t doable just yet. So no big deal, we just wait right?

Wait until after law school.

Except he fucking died 6 months before I graduated.

All of our hard work… and nothing.

He should be here to reap the benefits… but nothing.

All of this waiting… for what? So I can be alone and if I become an awesome attorney- maybe one day cry by myself in a Bentley? Go home to the 15 cats I own and quiet house? This pisses me off so bad.

The original goal was that I’d be a lawyer and we would save money and start traveling places.

Now I do realize this could be opposite.

Jesse and I had our first child at 19. We did things “backwards.” While I am upset to a degree I will never be married (weird saying that because I literally didn’t care), I am glad we picked kids first because otherwise maybe we never would have had them.

Unfortunately it did matter that Jesse and I were not married because it has effected the control I have over things.

Working at an attorneys office I had a will, power of attorney, etc and Jesse was named. Jesse didn’t work for an attorney- and I never pushed him getting documents done because who the hell thinks they are actually going to die at 32?

I know this would have upset him- if he wanted someone else to control things he would have listed them as his beneficiary as well right? But he didn’t. I am his beneficiary, because he wanted me to have and control everything- but I digress.

Us not being legally married has caused issues for Wren too. Again, my main thought being pregnant wasn’t “oh Wrens dad will die before shes born.”

While in the hospital, the woman came in to do Wren’s birth certificate. She was very distraught. She said she had been avoiding me all day because under “father,” she legally had to put “unknown.”

Wren and I both have his last name now, but neither of us are legally recognized. I recently changed my last name to his, which was bittersweet. I wish he could have seen it- he would have been so happy.

For Wren I am fighting this- via a dna test. When that gets cleared she will be recognized but until then she isn’t. This won’t change anything financially, but it is important to me that she has a father listed on her birth certificate.

That sounds absolutely crazy when I type it.

I suppose the whole thing frustrates me because at the end of the day- I know of couples where the woman is pregnant by another man, husband has no idea, but the state will recognize the baby as the husband’s simply because of the “presumption,” that it is his because they are married. Even couples that have separated are acknowledged. But Jesse and I? 13 years? Nothing.

I am pretty sure that Jesse and I have enough to support a presumption too. But they won’t change it without a fight.

At the end of the day, I still hold these same values about marriage. That it is not the marriage title that makes the couple it is the couple themselves.

I have seen and continue to see many hollow marriages. Marriages that give up when it gets too hard. Marriages that do not have open communication. Marriages that don’t broach uncomfortable subjects. Marriages that do not have growth because God forbid you call your spouse out on their bullshit. Marriages that don’t forgive. Marriages that are not accepting or understanding.

I suppose this may be why I have a hard time taking marriage seriously in the first place?

If Jesse didn’t pass, I still wouldn’t be rushing for the paper. I’d still be casual about it. Because I knew how much he loved me. I didn’t need others confirmation. I knew how we spoke to each other. How we always got through things… and how we always called each other out on our bullshit.

All widows should be recognized. Married or not. The pain doesn’t decrease because of a legal status.

Grief Adjacency.

This is a term we fun, life of the party, grief-stricken people use to describe those on the outside-who are in our circle, either trying to support us, ignore us, or give us well-meaning advice. They are grief-adjacent. Lucky them. I miss being grief-adjacent. I was on that side of it quite a few times. So ignorant to my friends or families pain.

Everyone is different but I would imagine most of us who have lost our spouse are on the same page with our grief and most of us do not appreciate some well meaning things. They are outdated and almost insulting as it shows little to no work or thought has been put into what was said. I assure you, if you Google it quickly, your phrase is a big no no. This list will be more akin to widows- but I am sure there are similarities throughout for other types of losses.

Here is a small list of things that are not helpful and better alternatives to help your grieving person:

1. “Stay strong.” “Time will heal.”

Strength has no place here. I hope if you are meaning “hey don’t kill yourself,” just be candid and say that rather than the strong thing. There is nothing strong about survival.

Imagine someone stranded in the wilderness. Their plane has crashed and they are the only survivor. They are shocked it happened. They are so cold, wet, tired, and nearly starving. They have severe physical injuries. Would it be appropriate to find them in the woods, tell them “hey you’re strong!” Then just walk away? No. They are merely surviving, the most basic of human instincts.

So don’t do it to your grieving person. Their plane of life has crashed also. They feel alone like they are the only one. They are likely not taking care of themselves like they used too. They have mental injuries so significant they would probably rather have physical ones. They also have physical ones, like panic attacks or even worse “broken heart syndrome” look it up.

If they end up finding their way out of the wilderness- they will likely have trauma or PTSD that last a life time. Hopefully with therapy or something of a like they can find a way to navigate themselves, but if they don’t you need to deal with it. Some people just don’t recover just like some people don’t live until there 80. Accept this shitty fact to reality. Listen to what your grieving person is saying and not try to spin it with some toxic positivity. Some things just are not positive. It says more about you when you fight it then it does your grieving person.

As for time, it is irrelevant here. My person left earth and they won’t be back next year. They won’t be back in five years. So how could you say “time will heal” or something of the like? If time heals me, then let time be the master. You do not speak for me or time- so just don’t say it. You are not the predictor of my future. You have no idea. Your person may not even be dead. I want time to heal me too but after speaking to a lot of younger widows, the consensus seems to be time doesn’t heal anything. It just becomes different at best. You just adapt in some weird way. I also know many grieving people years out that haven’t adapted at all. They are worse than they were the day it happened. It’s not that they didn’t try, it’s that the pain engulfed them. This has nothing to do with choice. We all have different brains. Our brains work differently. Some relationships are more intense- and I truly believe that impacts how badly they hurt.

Do I speak about him too much for you? Do you realize he was everywhere. Every second… and now he is no where.

2. “They are in heaven.” “Heaven/God needed him.” “I had a dream and they wanted me to tell you…” “things happen for a reason.”

Tread. Very. Lightly. Friend. Make sure our religious beliefs are the same or this will cause many problems. If your grieving person believes in the monotheistic God and you know them that way- then go right ahead. If you aren’t sure. Don’t say a word. It is NOT ABOUT YOU or where you think they are. It is likely what comforts you will not work for them.

Jesse and I had a friend, Brett, who passed a few years ago. It brought Jesse and I *a little* comfort to know Brett was *at peace* (he suffered with severe depression and his last few years on earth he had a rough time). We dare did not say this to his family, just each other. We were grief adjacent. Yes he was our friend, but we didn’t live with him, pay bills with him, sleep with him- and as vulgar as it sounds- we didn’t have sex with him, kiss him, have kids… you get the idea. Sometimes vulgarity is required to stress a point.

If you have another religion where you are a medium or something of the like- also tread lightly. We knew our person better than you did so you better be careful what you tell us. If you suggest they have come to you first or another family member they didn’t care too much for and not their grieving wife and children the bullshit radar is going to go off. If you are going to make an attempt make sure there is a more legitimate connection.

As for things happening for a reason, again, unless you are deeply in-tuned with our religious beliefs you have no standing to say this. You are a regular person, how could you know anything about why our loved one left? You don’t have authority to speak on it, you are a regular human, so stop.

3. “You can remarry.” “You are young.” “You have a lot of life left.” “Didn’t you enjoy things before you knew (insert dead person).”

These statements are akin to: If you have more than two children, pick the one you want to die, then just have another child. Would you feel better? Would that work? If you answered no then there you go. Our new spouse or whoever cannot replace our old one. They are different people. If you answered yes you either do not have children or you need to seek out a psychiatrist.

It is also likely we had a life before our spouse, that doesn’t mean anything to us when discussing our grief. We are in pain and likely depressed every second of our life. Anything that was “mine,” before meeting meshed into “ours,” at some point.

Example: Yoga was “my” thing. I went to it alone. I practiced it alone at the studio. I should still enjoy that right? Wrong.

I invited my spouse to yoga once and I remember how he was great at it (like he could do tons of variations of crow pose which require decent upper body strength and balance). I called my spouse after yoga and told him how it went. I would show him new moves when I got back home that I learned and he would be so impressed. If I wasn’t good at a move- he would help me get positioned into it. When I went, we had to make sure together he was off in time so he could watch our kids while I went. He paid for me to go to yoga. He listened to my new yoga music in the car when we drove. He made dumb jokes about some more provocative yoga poses I put myself in.

So was yoga just MY thing? No. It turned into our thing. Like every other single thing in my life. We enjoyed things TOGETHER.

Personally, for me, I am extremely depressed. Things that used to make me happy are not working (no shit). My energy is depleted. I had a full life outside of my spouse. I painted, obsessed over my career, decorated my house. These things I still enjoy somewhere- but it’s hard to be happy about them because they seem pointless. Why am I doing them? I am just going to die anyhow. My outlook on life is a bit tarnished and hopefully I am me again one day. But again, from what I have seen, a lot of widows feel the need to reinvent themselves and I also see that being a possibility for myself (which I don’t like).

4. “Let’s go here! That’s fun and will get you in a better mood!”

Nothing is going to put us in a better mood. It may at minimum be a distraction for a small second. Invite us to where ever it is and don’t add that you may have a cure for us. Because you don’t.

Just validate our feelings. Sadness, anger, darkness, whatever- it’s best to just go with it. We don’t like being on this emotional roller coaster either. If anyone wants off this horrible ride it’s your grief-stricken friend.

If we thought a fun place would help us, we would probably go. We won’t feel the same about normal places anymore like you will.

Example: I used to like going to Hobby Lobby and looking at home decor. I decided to go the other day because I remembered I felt happy there. My perspective has changed. It’s not the place, it’s my mind. No one can go in my brain and fix my mind.

Instead of seeing ideas for my patio, all I could see were their signs: “our love story is my favorite,” “so I can kiss you whenever I want,” “this is us,” “dance with me in the kitchen,” “home is where I am with you.”

I felt like I was being attacked in there and nothing had actually changed at their store- it was just me. The signs were so overwhelming. I went from someone who would be on the phone with their husband in Hobby Lobby, telling him “these signs are so cringe babe guess what this one says…” to being in there for five minutes and losing my shit. I started crying hysterically and had to rush out. My body felt like it was going to explode… Over a sign I used to roll my eyes at.

5. “Let me know if you need anything!”

Just text me. Even if I have ignored you the last three times. I am reading it. When you texted me I was in a certain emotion. Sometimes I respond. Sometimes I’ve handled a grieving child all day and I can’t move another finger. I see the message. It helps me not feel isolated.

When you put the ball in my court- it doesn’t help because it’s likely I am struggling to leave my bed, let alone dribble a ball and pass it back to you.

6. “How are you?” “Seems like you had a good time!”

There really isn’t something to replace a good old fashion how are you, but you can acknowledge that. My friends will often say “how are you doing- I know thats silly.” They say something to acknowledge they aren’t being insensitive until I don’t need it anymore.

As for the good time…My smile fooled you. Impressive maybe I will become an actress. I will never be okay or happy like I was. Maybe I won’t seem as wrecked some days and I cannot wait for those. It’s likely the minute I got in the car I cried my eyes out. Call me at 1am and see how I am then.

See. I’m being acknowledged, given options, and when I don’t respond it’s not taken personally. It isn’t rocket science.

7. “At least you have your kids.” “At least you have your parents.” “At least you have your pet.”

Yes, and I don’t have marital relations with any of them. I don’t have intimacy with any of them. Does that make you uncomfortable? It should because that’s how you sound to us. I don’t tell my 6 year old my adult problems. I also don’t want to share them with my dad. There is a reason for marriage. There is a reason in scripture it says one flesh. There is a reason for people being described as soul mates with a spouse but not their mother.

As open as I am and as my spouse was- there were things we did NOT tell people, even those close to us. We just told each other.

Ask yourself if you walked by someone with one leg, if you would say “hey at least you have another one.” No you wouldn’t and if you would there is something wrong with you. You have no business telling someone “at least,” anything when you didn’t suffer the loss.

8. “Put on your boot straps.” “Put on your big girl panties.” “Do it for the kids.” “Pull up your knickers.”

Will you be here every morning at 7am putting my panties on for me? Will you be strapping my shoes up for me right after? If you answered no. Then this is not helpful. I assure you we know “hey don’t let your kids die!” Is something that needs to be at the forefront of our mind. I assure you it is. No one wants to get their life back to normal more than a grieving widow. Our brains can’t be normal though because half of us is missing.

9. When you do help, make sure it’s how we want it done.

Respect how I or the children want things done. At first this sounds ungrateful, but remember it’s not about you its about us. Our brains are not working right anymore. Those gross leftovers in the fridge? To a person who isn’t grief-stricken..- yes toss them! That’s gross. To the grief-stricken? That could be the last piece of food our person took a bite of. It’s a shred of proof that they existed and we didn’t make it up. Unless you are our doctor, you don’t get to decide when we move it. We do. So don’t touch it. You will only figure these things out by asking and listening.

10. You can invite us to your engagement, wedding, baby shower, etc, but proceed with caution.

I can talk about this one pretty well! Because I had to tackle inviting my mother in law to my baby shower. Sounds fine. But this is the last piece of her son. A piece she will get to see but her son will not. I assure you if something can mess with someone it’s delivering your grandchild your own son will never meet/delivering your husbands child he will never see.

So my friend who set it up treaded as lightly as possible. Giving the option if it was too much it was okay. If a grieving widow can arrange this- surely a normal minded person can too.

If you are getting engaged and want to invite us, do so, but do it with a disclaimer. “Hey I am having this party, don’t feel obligated to go-but if you are able to feel free, love you.” If we don’t respond, don’t take it personally. Move forward. We are grieving and cannot handle much of anything- especially something like that. Anything that shows less than understanding makes you look like a narcissist.

11. Being cute with your spouse or telling your grieving friend/family members your plans with your spouse. Complaining about your spouse.

Again this is up to the individual but I know most of the widows I know scowl at this. If you are busy and we don’t ask what your doing don’t volunteer “ugh I haven’t seen my husband in 3 days! We are going on a date tonight.” Literally the most insensitive thing you could say. Don’t complain about your husband to us, you have other people you can discuss his issues with. We don’t want to hear about his dirty shorts on the ground. We would kill someone to see them there again.

12. Comparing the loss of (insert whoever) to your grieving widow friend. Comparing the widows loss to that of a divorce. Saying you know how you would respond if it happened to you.

While there is no standardized order. It HAS been said the worst lost is 1. Losing a child 2. Losing your spouse 3. Losing a parent/sibling. This is pretty agreed upon by society but definitely doesn’t account for other factors. Such as age or intensity of the relationship.

As for comparing it to divorce or a break up, unless you are trying to say we are dealing with both (the death and them not being here) do not say it is like it or it’s “easier.” I assure you I’ve broken up with someone and while it was hard, it didn’t ruin my life.

If you divorce on decent terms, like your spouse isn’t a total POS- this is no way like death. You likely have 50/50 over the kids. You likely have some sort of income or a chance to make income. At worst, you may have to see them with another person and that will hurt. There always remains the possibility that you two could find your way back to each other, even if that sounds grim and unlikely. You have a chance. There is hope for something. Death destroys even the tiniest unlikely glimmer- something humans desperately need.

If you never got back together with your ex-spouse; alternatively you could “be free,” to do as you please. You two agreed, however reluctantly, to not be together. When your spouse dies- you didn’t agree to that. You agreed “through sickness and health.” You agreed to continue to work on problems. The phrase “until death do us part,” is in there sure- but does anyone look at that and honestly think “ahh yes death at 32.” No. Or some widows that think they have eternity and were married for 7 months. Thats not what we take that for.

If you divorce on horrible terms, like your spouse is a total POS-this is still no way like death. Maybe you have full custody of the kids. Maybe your spouse moved to another state and said screw all of you. I assure you this isn’t like him dying because you still have choices. Your son, who is confused why daddy left, COULD call him. He would likely be ignored, but he has a phone number. He has something tangible. When your child is an adult they could choose to angrily knock on their father’s door demanding to know why they were ignored. There is a door to knock on. They may get no answer but that person is alive.

They have the possibility of hearing how shitty their dad is through others. That sounds stupid right? At least they can shake their head at it. They can check their dad’s Facebook and see he has a new girlfriend. Something. Anything.

With death, there is absolutely nothing. No good. No bad. Just nothing.

13. “It’s been 6 months.” “It’s been 3 years.” “It’s been 20 years.”

Wow yes and they STILL ARE DEAD AND NOT HERE. If anything, the longer time goes on the more things we can add to our shit list of “all the things they missed.”

My husband missed out on the birth of his last daughter. Which means every single thing about her he will never know. He will miss it all. It will sting every second. He missed 4 of his kids getting married- or he missed 4 of them saying marriage is stupid. Or maybe 2 get married and 2 dont. It doesn’t matter because every decision is missed. He has no idea who his kids became or if he had grandchildren. Absolutely nothing. So as time goes on, it just means more is missed. That is it.

14. Inspirational messages that are for mediocre problems not those grieving.

There ARE inspiring messages for widows but these are often confused with feel good quotes that are more directly correlated for staying with a diet or working towards a career. These messages are not the same.

15. Silver-lining bullshit. “At least they are not suffering.” “Look at all the good they did-they accomplished their goal early.” “You wouldn’t have (insert whatever) without them.” “At least you know love.”

All of that may be true, but I want both. I want my person to be alive and not suffering. I want to enjoy the good WITH them not alone. I want to have our things TOGETHER not by myself. I do know what it’s like to be loved! Where did I sell my soul to Satan for it and have to return it at age 30!? I didn’t!

16. He can see you.” “He’s here.”

Maybe this is true. Maybe he sees me. Or maybe this is kind of odd if we think about it.

If I am with someone new, if we kiss, is he seeing all of that? Does he hover over me and watch me make 3 meals a day for 4 kids all alone? He’s just sitting there at night watching me cry for 2 hours and not doing anything?

That’s not Jesse. Jesse wouldn’t dare.

That sounds like its own form of torture- If Jesse had to “watch us,” he would be in more pain than what the kids and I were experiencing. So this seems strange.

If he is watching us, again, its really not your place to make such an observation. It kind of diminishes my pain. Because ultimately he is not physically here.

I am sure there are more things I could add to this list but for now this is what I have come up.

When I sound like a broken record, when I still look sad, see how I see the world and show me empathy. It’s the least you could do.

Easter.

For 10 years we have done the same thing, but today will be different, like all days are now.

I will probably clean afterwards. That’s all I really do now. I will wait to go to my mom’s then your moms for lunch and dinner. Even though we are all your family, I am the only one that shows up alone and leaves alone. Sits alone. Thinks alone. I am spoken to, but it is not the same.

I will fill plastic eggs at night with candy, but you won’t be watching the door to make sure no one sneaks in. I will wake up at 7 and instead of distracting the kids while you put the eggs in the yard, I will have to do both.

I will watch the kids open up their Easter basket alone. Only two pieces of candy right Jess?

I want you to split the work of getting the kids plates with me. I want you to sit next to me at dinner. I want you and I to walk away from everyone and be by ourselves at some point. I want you to hug me or at least smile at me. I am tired of locking my eyes into my phone at every event because I am so hollow.

I will then drive 4 children back to our home alone. Walk in alone. Get them ready for bed alone.

When the kids are asleep, I will take my zoloft and go to bed, alone. I will stare at the ceiling alone and think of you alone until I am too tired and finally fall asleep.

I hate that we are both alone and there is a barrier between us. A permanent one that I cannot find. One where you are in complete isolation alone and I am surrounded by people alone.

I am glad the kids have each other, so they are not as alone.

Dark Places.

I write here when I am in my darkest thoughts.

I am so very alone. So are you. We both are now just in different ways. You are in darkness. I am not sure if you feel pain? If you see me? If you know whats happening? If you see us, I know you are torn to pieces.

Im going to say no. You wouldn’t allow anything to get in between us. So why now? So it must be darkness. Not sure what form. I am sorry it might be darkness- I know that scared you.

We were both agnostic. We both thought this was unfortunate. How lovely it would be to be comforted by Heaven. I wish. I’ve tried. I mean I got my degree in religion and attend a Catholic graduate school.

It doesn’t make sense logically and therefore I cannot get behind it. Yet, nothing makes sense also. What is sense? I know absolutely nothing.

I spend my day wandering through emotions. And rapidly at that.

At some point I am suicidal. I feel empty all day, but at some point it gets very intense. Too intense. Usually it’s at night.

The suicide hotline doesn’t help people like me. I am not saying it doesn’t help someone, just that someone isn’t me. The feeling is still there rotting in my core. Guess what? I do not care who reads this because I know many people feel this rot. Maybe not now they don’t, I surely didn’t before this. Now I do. I felt intensely sad before. I’ve even had bouts of depression here and there. But this? No.

How do I explain wanting to kill yourself? Hmm. So I suppose prior to this I would get upset about something and I would feel sad. Maybe it would be something pretty bad and I’d cry pretty hard. Maybe my day would be ruined. I knew it would pass though. It had to at some point and it always did.

This though, this is like you cannot walk. Instead of feeling sad someone has come to you and inserted a knife slowly into your chest. You are now trapped. There is physical tightness and pain. It’s pushing into you very hard. You just want release. Your brain is panicking not knowing how to release the figurative knife. Maybe you move some, the pain is still stabbing you. So you start crying, normally that works a bit. But here it doesn’t. It sticks around. So then you are begging your brain to please stop it. Your brain is clueless, no matter how many “coping mechanisms” you have been given.

So it says “end it.” It’s the only thing it knows. Truly knows. You may have exterior support but that’s not stopping the issue inside of your self that no one can get to. That uncomfortable itch cannot be healed by words or support. It just is.

I want to discuss this issue actively- not in past tense. When suicidal thoughts are discussed it seems to be in two limited ways. One being, “I used to have them,” or two being that the person actually went through with it. Neither of these are as helpful as saying it when a person actually feels it. People do not do this though, because of the consequences. So there is this weird line of we ask people to be open, but not too open. Fuck that. We do this with everything and I can’t stand it.

I don’t know if this is how other people felt, it’s just how I felt. The thoughts feel as though I haven’t eaten in three days and my brain is begging me to eat. Instead here it’s begging me to stop the pain and it’s suggesting it knows the way to do that. I tell it it’s wrong. Only because of the kids. How could you do that to the kids two times I say to it. I can’t. So suffering is the only option, not ending it.

My therapist has suggested the suicidal thoughts are another attempt at coping. Since this has happened my brain has thrown out to me so many weird “strategies.” This one is my brain saying “well, plan Z we could always end it.” It just wants to keep me safe and pain free. However 10/10 would not recommend the brain it’s not doing a great job with recommendations.

My therapist is aware of all these issues and says on the outside I am *killing* (icky word now) it. On the inside I am dying. All the great things I do for the kids: run them to sports, re-do their rooms, have every fun activity available at our home they could imagine… Surely I must be getting better… right? Everything is looking good. Objectively at least.

I have been depressed before. I even took medication for it. When we had an ectopic pregnancy in 2017 I became very very emotional. I almost died and I lost a baby I really wanted. I couldn’t go places without crying. If I heard a newborn cry I would get upset. My doctor suggested some medication, I don’t even remember which one. I was on it for a very short time. It made me a robot. I remember getting off it because I wanted to cry. I wanted to be able to have emotions. I remember feeling like I wasn’t a human without the hurt so I got off of them. It took me awhile, but I did come to terms with it. It makes me sad still but it was a different pain. It was more tolerable. That sounds bad. But I didn’t rot there I just hurt.

Here, I do not want to feel. Period. Emotions are not worth it. I have been keeping myself completely sober for the most part. I do take xanax and zoloft now. But I’m still hurting. I don’t plan to not hurt at all- just a little less would be nice.

I have thought about Jesse every waking moment since I got that nasty call. Every second. No breaks. No happiness.

I should be so happy right now. I have 4 beautiful children, I am almost done with school, I have wonderful friends, family support, I have a beautiful home. But no. I rot. I am so lost. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I have received nearly everything I ever asked for. I have beautiful babies. I had such a good spouse & father to my kids. Why give it to me just to take it away?

I’ve never “lived for my kids only,” before, but I am now. I love them more than I loved Jesse and this was the same for him. Them first then us, then whoever else. This is the only lucky thing or I would be done. I know this would be the same for him. We did talk about this. But if anything happened to them- it’s a free game. How can you live when your family is destroyed? Items mean nothing.

If you read this and your first thought is something like: “try tea before bed.” Ugh. Please just don’t. This isn’t me having a bad day. I so wish it was. I loved tea. Those were the days.

It’s trauma like I’ve never known nor wanted to know. I want to go back to my stupid bubble so very badly. This is why I wish Jesse was a horrible father and I wish he didn’t care about me so much- because I actually know I could handle the kids and life much better. I just can’t do it as well grieving him and I can’t do it with my grief and the kids grief and my confusing feelings about Wren and postpartum depression. It’s entirely too much. So I am going to take some medication.

*Luckily* I think I am understanding what brings on the dark thoughts. There isn’t a set schedule but I tend to have them more at night or after Raiden becomes hysterical or when I am coming home to an empty house. It’s those kinds of moments where they may creep in. They last about 20 minutes so I know somewhere they will stop- but as I said- in the moment my brain is trying to convince me this will be eternity.

I will continue to live like this. I really don’t have a choice. I am not strong. I just am. It makes people uncomfortable if I mention I hate my life or I want to kill myself- but I assure you this is young widow 101. I have met more widows than I ever wanted to know and they definitely express this to me. They just can’t express it to anyone else because God forbid people are allowed to be miserable.

Today I spoke to Jesse’s aunt. I told her my life sucks. She laughed and said “yes, your life fucking sucks.” It is what it is. Pretending it’s not shit wont make me better. I just have to hope eventually something gives- but sometimes the ladies who have been long term young widows make this seem bleak.

Until then I guess I will just have a shred of hope I am not in a mental prison forever.

Birthday.

Today is my birthday. I am 31 now. You are still 32.

It is also 3 months since you passed.

You knew me as strong headed 30 year old woman about to graduate law school with three kids and pregnant.

You don’t know me as this Rochelle, who is 31. In the deepest parts of sadness I have ever known. Not pregnant. Single mom to 4. Hoping to graduate still. Writing away and trying to figure out what the hell happened.

That hurts.

When October comes. You will still be 32. Nothing about you will ever change, but I will change every day.

Next year my birthday will come. I will be 32.

We were about a year and a half apart in age.

Today we are now a year and 3 months apart. Every day I get closer and closer to your age until I will eventually pass you. Your kids may even pass you.

I wonder how I will reflect on this if I live to be 50. You will still be 32. You will look 32. I will have wrinkles. I will sag. You never will. I may know what its like to complain of old age. Yet you wont.

I might get an “over the hill,” birthday card one day. Something you will never have. Maybe my friends will laugh when I get my AARP card one day- but I won’t laugh. It will just hurt.

When I hear people complain about their age now I shudder. I wish you could complain. I am not mad at them, I just wish they knew. I wish you could have been old.

I have no desire to celebrate my birthday. Like most other things, it only brings me disgust now. How disgusting I live on another year but you are frozen in time. I am here in March on my birthday but you still think Christmas is 3 days away.

I long every day to make sense of this chaos and nothing. I never get anywhere. I spend every second thinking of you and wondering. I make no progress figuring out where you are or why. It’s just a death sentence I did not deserve, nor did you.

Like everything else, my birthdays used to be great. Not because we had a lot of money or something, we didn’t. But Jesse made sure it didn’t feel any different.

We couldn’t afford a sitter, spa day, and resort with all the works. This always bothered Jesse so much. But it was okay, it was not our time for that yet. I was fine with it.

I did not need those things though. Jesse was such a good cook and brought me breakfast in bed. He always gave me a massage, not just for my birthday. All the time. His gifts were not costly jewels that cost thousands… they were gifts from his heart.

I do not know anyone else that would put in the labor to a gift of mine like he would. If he did buy me something that was not handmade- it was the best version of that item. He spent so much time reading reviews and comparing things to make sure I had the best blender or coffee pot there was, if that happened to be my gift.

I just miss his effort. It was unmatched. If we didn’t have money for mail ordered flowers or chocolate covered fruit that wasn’t going to stop him. He would grab the things he needed and make it himself or go on a search in the fields for the perfect flowers.

It is easy to swipe a card. It is hard to replicate these items without money because they take time. Something most people do not want to give. Jesse was a time giver. I had these things whether we had money for them or we did not.

I am sitting in my bed and it’s completely silent, besides the fan. I haven’t heard “you are going to have the best birthday tomorrow! I couldn’t get you everything I wanted to but I know you’re going to love it.” He said the same thing every year. I don’t think he would have ever been completely satisfied with whatever it was he was going to give me.

Today was pretty awful. My friends came and brought me lunch. I received tons of messages. But I hurt all day. I cried all day. I am mad I get a birthday and he doesn’t. I am mad my house was silent. I am mad we wont be going to a dinner this weekend or he won’t be cooking me one tonight.

Birthdays when your loved one is gone is just a nasty slap in the face. Salt in a wound. Life giving you an extra kick when it’s already beat the shit out of you.

Virgin Widow.

Virgin Widow.

This is my term I use to describe this other indescribable shit aspect of young widowhood.

Art of being alone from Qianqian Ye. I spared you the alternative of inappropriate text and photos from my once life so enjoy this art. https://forthmagazine.com/visual-art/2018/03/art-for-awkward-lonely-people-an-interview-with-qianqian-ye/

Generally among the widows when their spouse dies they usually follow one of two paths:

1. “Wid-ho” (not making this up):

This route includes screwing everything and everyone. It could be months after or even days. The desire to feel something, anything, is so strong one can get even “reckless.”

Going from having love and comfort to *snap* all gone is extremely difficult. A decent amount of widows respond this way.

This is normal. It doesn’t fill the void but it’s something to do. Literally.

Or

2. Virgin Widow (yes this usually means before consummating a marriage but I also use it because starting over after years and years also feels like being a virgin):

This route is where the widow completely recluses. This may be why you see a widow single for 25 years. I say virgin widow because they are clearly not a virgin, yet when you have been with the same person for years- it kind of feels that way. Also, you didn’t divorce or break up. So it intensifies the awkwardness. Its like your first time all over again. Yay?

Unfortunately I am pretty sure I am in category 2. I say unfortunately because I am 30 and I used to like having sex. Actually I still do. Actually I think about it constantly.

But the person I want it with is dead. So what a mind fuck right?

So I am sitting here for 3 months simultaneously crying and having whatever other emotion I have but also reflecting on my sex life constantly. I miss being wanted by my person and in the way he wanted me. To quote he would say:

See look at me saving you from having to see more than you bargained for.

I’m going to spend more time talking about section 2- just because thats the one I relate to. But I am telling you section 1 is just as common.

My spouse was great and this is probably why I was pregnant 6 times in 13 years. He was able to make me feel loved and lusted after at the same time. I think most men are only capable of one, if any.

He made me feel like we were in some stupid cringe movie about a girl’s first time while simultaneously making me feel like it was also a porno.

I am solidly aware, because of prior experience and conversations with girlfriends- that if a man is any good you keep that. Because many of them think they are and have no idea. They don’t actually listen or sometimes even care. They are in it for them. Short term this may work, but long term I promise it’s nicer to have a happy wife.

When my friends would talk about their husbands not being too great- I could not relate. Ever. I was always satisfied.

So yes. I often think who is going to actually love me. Worship me even. Without being lame and cringey. *sigh*

It’s interesting I went to category 2. I say this because I’ve never been shy. Jesse and I were pretty open- minus being swingers- I could talk to him about other men that were attractive and vice versa. I had the “freedom” to wear little clothing and go out and he would say “you are so hot.” That is it. I had the freedom to dance around a fire nearly naked and in front of people and he would just tell me I was beautiful.

There wasn’t jealousy.

In the beginning there was. Because I associated jealousy with love (thanks past abusive relationships!) but Jesse showed me that was wrong. He said he wasn’t jealous and if he did get jealous he wouldn’t tell me. My freedom to make choices was more important to him than him being uncomfortable at my clothing choices.

Anyways. Now that I’ve outed myself as category 2 let me explain why it’s garbage.

If a man even looks at me the wrong way I lose my shit. I used to come home and tell Jesse and feel good to some degree like “haha I still got it.”

Now I say: “how dare you stare at me?!” And then the guy is like “sorry lady you just had something in your teeth.”

Jesse died. We never broke up. I cannot tell him anything. I cannot get his input.

This, to me, feels like the ultimate form of cheating. I will never ever be able to tell him what happened. The person I told everything to, will have no idea how my date went. That doesn’t even sound right.

A date? Why would I date I’m in a relationship… Except I’m not… Except I am, it didn’t end… Except it did because he passed… Except it didn’t because he doesn’t know?

Like I said widowhood is garbage in a million ways. Trying to figure this out is horrible.

Okay so yes he’s never coming back (except what if he does!?) what if I am like in that movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks and Jesse is stuck on an island somewhere and I remarry. Then boom one day 5 years later he makes it back to the house only to find me and my new husband sitting down to dinner?

He’s not going to. But I fully expect he will.

So let’s say I really get over the fact he’s not coming back. I get over my absolute disgust with men and I try to date. This person will probably not even have a chance because I will scrutinize everything he does. I already know I’m going to do this.

Even if he seems great, has a great job, hes nice…I will be looking for key qualities of Jesse’s like how passionate he was or how he just thought I was the most amazing being on the planet. I doubt that will be replicated.

Also this new man has to let me talk about Jesse whenever I want. I won’t compromise, I will only include. I will not take down Jesse’s photos- I would only add photos of my “new life.” This is also common among the widows and their “chapter 2,” (another term I can’t stand, it means your husband or wife you have after your late husband/wife. It just doesn’t sound good to me).

Would it take some getting used to? Sure. It takes a very special person to be with a widow (ironically I know Jesse would have excelled at being a chapter 2) but what needs to be realized is there is no competition, because the competition is a dead person.

I have already had a few men reach out to me and I was extremely sensitive about our conversation when I normally would not have been. I ended up not returning messages and nothing objectively bad was even said.

I know theres no deadline here. No ones rushing to put me on the market. The issue is that I am thinking about my life now- of course I am- and this was a big part of it. So now what? It’s weird.

I want something I can never have again. I don’t know what to do with that. It cannot be replicated. If I thought it could I would try, because thats what I do. I try to fix things quickly. But I know this time its not going to work.

So then I think “yikes. You may just be a virgin widow.” If Jesse could see how prudish I was right now I don’t think he would believe it. So many things have changed in such a short period of time and it sucks. I am worried that part of my life is over because it is so painful. How am I supposed to kiss someone who is not my children’s father? Like I said, if we agreed to it I would have some understanding that it just didn’t work out. We did not agree to that though, we agreed to be together forever and retire. To see grandchildren and weddings.

My perspective is unlikely to change also. Maybe I will be able to date one day but I will still have these thoughts present. They cannot be undone. I am not an ostrich in the sand, I will torture myself looking at reality.

Sometimes there is a tendency to think husbands can be replaced and parents/children cannot be. This is because we choose our husband, but not kids and parents. This is because we can get a “chapter 2,” but a new baby will not replace another child.

This is wrong. Jesse cannot be replaced for me. I can go have sex with someone else sure- but I cannot replicate the person who helped me give life to 4 children of ours. That is a bond that cannot be replaced. Our DNA mixed. This is the person I agreed to mix my DNA with. Sometimes I think this may be the worst pain, because I was able to choose it. Not just have to deal with it because it’s “family.” We chose each other. Grief isn’t a contest but I feel as though since we can have a “new husband,” it sometimes diminishes how we feel.

Jesse and I agreed this was our last baby and my one remaining tube would be “tied.” Bittersweet but it was fine. We do have 4 children and I am 30, he was 32. It was just this part of life is over. The OBs took my decision and were fine with it. Just sign the form.

Until the other day, I got the “well, since everything that happened- are you sure?”

I replied with “are you asking me if I want a 5th c-section at 37 as my children’s only surviving parent?” I got a quick no. Of course I did.

But again, I cannot even fathom a date let alone carrying a child that is NOT Jesse’s. What a mind fuck. So no. I’m done and so is Jesse.

I’d like my little stressful loving life back. The one where some days are bad and others are great, not this one where its horrible all the time. Not this role in a tragic film I didn’t sign up for. I’m not a movie character, but that’s all I feel like anymore. I got the lead role in a shitty D film.

So yes- I did just admit I haven’t had sex in 3 months (sorry family and Catholic law school). I am also admitting I don’t see anything happening any time soon and yes this bothers me.

I debated talking about this part and then just decided to, like I do with everything because what’s the worst that can happen? Most of it did already minus something happening to my children.

This needs to be spoken about though because I know a lot of widows feel strange about it. I also know my worldview prior to widowhood was “If Jesse died I would be crushed!” I couldn’t fathom this conundrum nor did I think I would handle it this way or feel these complex things such as being in sex limbo.

Widowhood sucks.

We are laughing here because those heels were ridiculously high. Like 4 inches. They hurt. I wore them for 3 minutes.

I will miss everything about you forever Jess.

How Do I Raise You, Wren?

Thank you Jessica McKelvie. I wouldn’t have had it in me to do these without you.

Dear Wren,

I am so sorry for what I am about to tell you, but your father died before you were born. I don’t know what I am doing so I am apologizing ahead of time.

You will never have a photo of him like the ones your sisters have above. I will not understand your pain but I will try very hard. I do know you will hurt so badly sometimes and I am so sorry for that. You are already so unique and you have not even been born yet. Your dad always said he loved you and he held you from the outside, but I know you did not actually experience this. I did.

He was there. He existed. I promise. That is you.

You will eventually come to know many girls who their father is not present in their life, you will relate on a surface level, but not a core level. Your dad wanted to be there for you. When we found out you were a girl, he was so very happy. He was so happy to have another girl.

I will keep you safe. I will feed you. I will make sure you have every material thing I can give you. I will make sure you have a schedule and you do well in school. I will make sure you play and join a fun activity.

However, when you are born, I don’t know if I will wrap you as tightly as he could. I will not be as warm as he was. I will love you and adore you, but not like he would.

When you are a bit older, I wont be able to throw you up in the air to the ceiling like he would. I won’t be as fun or creative as he was. I won’t put a pumpkin on my head when we are done carving it to make you laugh. I won’t be as easy-going as he was. I won’t allow you to sneak unhealthy snacks like he would.

It’s not that I will not try. It’s that the yang, to my yin is lost. If this was reversed, your dad would be scrambling to make your schedule. He would be scrambling to keep up on everything in the house and practical things would fall through the cracks. He wouldn’t wash your bedsheets once a month, if ever. That sounds extremely silly, but we both had our own duty or chore that was ours for years.

You will be able to learn how he was through your family, but it will never replace actually knowing him. Your dad never wanted you to know how cruel the world can be, but sadly you will know it the minute you take your first breath. He won’t be there to follow you around as the nurses wipe you off. He won’t touch your little feet and think you are so sweet when you suck your thumb. He won’t sleep on the uncomfortable couch in the hospital room exhausted, waiting for you to cry so he can wake up and hand you to me. He won’t be there to capture his favorite shot- the exact moment the doctor pulls you out, where you aren’t yet clean. We always made sure the second your siblings were born he took the shot. I hope whoever stays with me during surgery will get it for you.

He will not record a horrendous video of me in labor and be telling me to say “happy birthday Wren!” Or take photos of me during contractions. This always drove me nuts when he did this. But I honestly probably would have done the same. When I am driving to the hospital (odd to type, I never drove he did) he won’t slap my knee like we are just best buds on an adventure and say “are you ready babe!?” While I would stare at him blankly and shake my head telling him “no I am not. I am about to have major surgery you fool.”

He won’t be there to encourage me to get out of the hospital bed. After a c-section, you are able to lay in the bed for about a day but after that the nurses tell you that you must walk to begin healing. I hate this part because the first time I get up the burn from surgery feels like hot oil being thrown on my stomach. It is one of the worst physical pains. Your dad was the only one who could ever get me to do things I did not want to do. He was very gentle but firm. He would help me stand up even if it took an hour. The nurses will have me push you around the hallways to walk, and he will not be next to me or waiting for us in the room when we get back.

He will not be there after to wash my hair when I can finally shower or run out and get me whatever I want the minute I want it.

I know how he would act down to a T… but it will never replace him actually being here. It will never replace you never being to actually see him, no matter what you are told by well meaning people.

I hope you see him through your siblings. Chloe is very intelligent, just like him, and she will try to take short cuts in school. Oraia is very impulsive, just like him, and it makes her so funny. Raiden is caring, just like him, and he will make you feel so special.

I hope you see him through your aunt. She has fun, just like him, she will suck the helium out of your birthday balloons first and then speak to you in a squeaky voice- I will just throw them away. If you two play a game or dolls, you will think you are the only person who exist during it, just like he would make you feel. I hope you see him through your grandma, if she makes something for you she will be diligent and thorough, like a birthday cake or a painting, just like your dad would have been. I hope you see him through your grandpa, he is understanding and empathetic, just like him.

I know this won’t come close, but I don’t know what else to do for you. As your mom I will admit all of these things to you and validate all of your feelings, just like your dad would have done.

But none of us are your dad and I am so sorry.

I tried to get as many pictures of “you and him” as I could. It’s total shit. I am so so so sorry this is your reality. I am so sorry that you lost your father and whatever other chaos comes from it. That you will not know how things were before.

There are so many things I want to tell him about you already. He has been gone for about two months and I cannot tell him you are about four pounds. I cannot tell him your due date is scheduled to be March 18. I cannot show him how cute your clothes are or that I bought you the biggest bows. I cannot tell him I am so scared to go into the operating room without him. I panic even putting on the gown. I hope on that day I can calm down.

Of all the scenarios I have ever thought of in my head- I never thought of this one. I never thought of a little girl without her dad like this. I could not have changed anything anyhow, but I live in a nightmare. When you come out you will already be part of a nightmare that you will not comprehend for awhile.

Do I teach you to say Dada by pointing at his picture? Will that confuse you? Do I play videos of him and then take a video of you so his voice is near you? I don’t know and this causes me so much pain.

I will see and know the first time you coo. The first time you hold your head by yourself. The first time you clap. Roll over. Say a word. Have a tooth. Sit up. Fall from sitting up.

I will know how you sound. How you will look. I will know what funny words you mispronounce. Your dad and I would have used whatever those words may be back to you all the time. But now it will just be me.

In a weird way, your siblings are more involved with you now. Prior to this, Chloe and Raiden were apprehensive of you. They told me they were worried you would get all the attention. I told them they are correct for a little while, you will get most of the attention because you cannot move or feed yourself. This helped them understand.

This has changed. They have to go back to school and they were most worried about you. They said they needed to be here for you. They needed to help raise you when you got here. They sounded worried. It makes me proud of them that they are concerned with you and they all have plans to take care of you in their own way, but also very sad because they once just acted like kids and were just jealous of you.

Prior to any of this happening, your dad was worried about me. This is a high risk pregnancy. The doctors say I will likely be fine, but there is still a concern. Your dad was worried that something would happen to me during it. I was worried too.

But now I am worried for different reasons. I still worry about that, but I am more worried that if something happens to me- what will happen to you and your siblings? You will have no parents. I wish I could say “ah how unlikely.” But after this, these are very real possibilities in my head. Who do I trust you with? This one scares me the most. Where would you go? Who would honor our values best and not their own? I don’t know.

I am worried something will happen to you. Your dad and I lost two babies before, so naturally this is a worry. I wish I could say “ah, how unlikely.” But after this, it is again a very real possibility in my head. No amount of prayers or medical technology saved your dad. Any glimmer of faith I had in overcoming difficult events has vanished. Any chance at miracles does not exist anymore to me.

So with all of this and with every shred I also left out. I am not sure how to raise you. I will take it minute by minute. I will ask myself before I do something how would daddy have done this? But I am not your dad and I am so very sorry.

I love you. Love Mom.