Did you know that being a widow requires a lot of “active” work and self-reflection?! You really need to work at it – like a lot of hard work!! It’s like taking care of a garden!! You have to water it (but not just any amount of water – if you’re not careful, over- or underwatering will cause the plants to die), then you have to constantly pull out the weeds, fight off parasites from eating the plants, fertilize, and don’t forget all the pruning and landscaping you need to do to if you want the garden to grow and flourish into a beautiful and lush garden. Now, I remember why plants never survived under my care – even drought resistant plants like succulents and air plants die on my watch!!! 🤣😂
You were always the gardener in our relationship. You had the patience and temperament to do all the work necessary to keep the garden and yard alive. You actually like gardening and tending to our yard. You said it was your stress reliver and you enjoyed watching all your hard work come to fruition. Honestly, I always thought you were crazy sweating bullets outside in the heat mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and laying down fertilizer. You always tried to get me to help you and I always refused (You know, I’m just not built for physical labor). But, on a few very rare occasions when I helped, you would usually make me stop after 15 minutes since I was always in your way, doing things wrong, or getting hurt since I refused to wear tennis shoes or gardening gloves (yes, I’m definitely a flip flop year-round and get her hands dirty kinda girl!!). You also had a really hard time letting go of dead plants. You always got mad at me when I threw away the dead plants. You’d pick the dead plant out of the trash can and say you’re going to revive it and bring it back to life – your motto was “There isn’t anything that Miracle Grow couldn’t revive.”
Maybe that’s why I really suck at being a widow!! 🤣😂 There are days, where I just don’t want to put in the work. Honestly, I’m definitely sure I’m not the only widow in the world who thinks this way. I mean, who in their right mind would want to put in the hard work at being a GOOD widow?! Most widows just wished they weren’t widows, but if they had to be a widow, they would much prefer to be a BAD widow who acts out and throws a tantrum like 5-year-old at the store when they don’t get what they want!! Now that I’m thinking about it, being a widow is actually a lot harder and requires more work than being married. Why?! Because, when you’re married, you at least have someone else to pass the blame to when things aren’t going right in the relationship. When you’re a widow, there’s no one else to blame but yourself when things aren’t going right!! 🤣😂 (Yup, there’s really no upside to being a widow!!)
After you passed, I tried really hard to always focus on the silver lining and all the things I still had and was thankful for in my life. In retrospect, this was partly a survival mechanism for me. I didn’t think I would be able to dig myself out of the deep hole I would be in if I allowed myself to fully look at my life and focus on all the things I’ve lost after you passed. All the broken promises and unfulfilled plans. Everything I know to be true and real about me and my life. Your smile, your kind eyes, your beer belly 🤣😂, your boisterous laughter, your jokes and silly ways, your scent, and all the hugs and kisses I no longer get to see, touch, feel, smell, or hear. I literally woke up one day, and without any warning or explanation, you disappeared into thin air. I didn’t even get a chance to say good bye or even try to save you. At times, it feels like you never even existed, and I just made you up in my mind, like you were just a figment of my imagination.
So, in order to survive and self-preserve, I always kept my feelings and emotions in check and at bay. I was so scared that if I let myself go there – I would never be able to come out alive. I would be stuck in a very deep and dark hole with no way out. But, over the last few months, all I can do is look at everything that is missing, changed, or different in my life since you passed. But, when I look back and reflect on my life after you passed, it’s not like I’m looking at it from a first-person perspective. Instead, it’s more like I’m watching a very long 100-episode melodramatic K-drama (my new pandemic addiction😊). Most of the time, it doesn’t even feel like it’s my life that I’m watching. (And, because it’s 100 episodes, a lot of breaks are needed to stay engaged in the story line. 🤣). Instead, it often feels like I’m a bystander on the sidelines watching a stranger’s life unfold before my eyes, and I can’t help but stare and gawk at the roadkill that is the main character’s life. I can’t help but cry and feel sorry for her when I think about how sad, lonely, and painful her life has become. How she is constantly forced to keep giving up and letting go of everything that she loves, knows, and is familiar with about herself and her life. How there’s still a never-ending war that is constantly raging on inside of her. How, even after years, she can’t believe how far she’s come and all the things she’s, for lack of a better word, “accomplished,” yet how she still struggles at times like it was the first day her husband passed. That each day she lives, she is constantly forced to keep fighting to just survive another day, but all the world sees is her smile and a seemingly “well-adjusted” widow who somewhat seems to have her “shit together” despite her trauma, loss, and grief.
Gosh, who knew I was this good at “faking it until I make it!” 🤣😂
P.S. Don’t worry, I thought I was going through some sort of dissociative identity disorder also, but my therapist says this “dissociative” experience I’m going through right now is normal for someone who’s experienced a traumatic grief and loss like myself. We’re not quite ready to “own” and “accept” our traumatic experience yet, but we’re no longer afraid to look at its “realness” or feel the “rawness” of the emotions but from a very safe distance. I guess the “dissociative” part of the experience helps to ensure one doesn’t fall into a very deep and dark ditch when looking back at one’s traumatic experience since it feels like you’re watching someone else’s life and not your own. Who knew?! 🤷🏻♀️ 🤷🏻♀️ 🤷🏻♀️
In the Trenches...
It’s been a while since I last wrote to you – over a year and half almost! Recently, I’ve started wanting to write to you again. I guess watching To All the Boys Part 3 and the Japanese Love Letter on the same day has made me miss you a lot and want to write you again. The themes of both movies were love letters, grief, and starting a new chapter in one’s life. I guess those themes are very fitting for me alright!!
You’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to?! This last year and half have been quite eventful Babe. We’ve lived through a year of a global pandemic (YES, you heard it right?! A GLOBAL PANDEMIC), I barely survived Year 2 of widowhood (those widows weren’t joking when they said, “Year 2 is a lot harder than Year 1.”), and I’ve entered my third year of widowhood.
When I started writing this blog, the goal was to say good bye to you. I figure I would write until I was done saying good bye to you. I know I stopped in the Fall of 2019, but that wasn’t because I was done saying good bye to you – I stopped because I was just so frustrated with myself and my life. I felt like I wasn’t progressing or healing or getting “better.” I just felt so stuck and trapped living in “the middle room,” waiting for an elusive catalyst to push me over the threshold into a “new” life. But, to be honest, I never really stopped writing per se, I just didn’t publish any of it since they were incoherent scribbles and notes – ramblings of widow trying to make sense of her life; trying to mend the broken pieces of her life back together again. As my therapist says, “There are too many moving parts and uncertainty in your life right now. You’re retreating so you can try to figure things out and ‘re-build.’”
So, that’s what I’ve been doing over the last year and half, I’ve retreated into a trench while the war against grief was still raging on around me (or shall I say, above me, since I am in a trench after all 🤣😂). The bullets were still flying and the bombs were still exploding around me, but I didn’t have the strength or courage to fight a losing battle anymore. Grief has proven to be a formidable and immoveable enemy. I guess for self-preservation sake, my immediate “plan of attack” was to go on defensive mode as a way of surviving until I was ready to wave “the white flag.” I’m not quite ready to wave “the white flag” just yet, but I guess I’m ready to take a sneak peek above the trenches and decide if I should wave “the white flag” or jump out of the trenches like Wonder Woman and continue fighting – even if it’s against a formidable and immoveable enemy. I guess only time will tell.
Anyways, I’ve digressed a bit. Back to saying good bye and love letters…what I’ve realized as I’ve entered Year 3 of widowhood…Boy, was I naïve as I embarked on my widowhood journey! I actually thought there would come a day where I could really say good bye to you forever. Like somehow, we would have a clean break and I could go on my merry own way and just live happily ever after without you! See, that’s the problem with using movies and books as your frame of reference – you become delusional. 🤣😂 So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was very naïve and delusional when I called this blog “Good Bye Babe” because it really should have been called “Hey Babe” because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say good bye to you nor will I ever be able to let you go. You reside so deeply in my heart that you’ll be etched there forever. So, really these are love letters to you and not “Dear John” letters – even if that was the goal at the start of this journey. That’s probably why I felt so frustrated and trapped before. I didn’t feel like I was achieving or making any progress to my goal of saying good bye to you, so it felt like I was fighting a losing battle. But, really, all I needed was to shift and “reframe” my thinking and goal. What a little respite could do for the mind, body, and soul.
I know what you’re thinking Babe, “Seriously Sun…wasn't it so obvious from the start that the blog should have been called ‘Hey Babe’ and not “Good Bye Babe’?! At what point have you ever said ‘good bye babe’ even once in this blog?! All you ever said was ‘Hey Babe’!!” I’m only admitting this because you’re not here to gloat, but yes, you’re right!!
P.S. I love you, always and forever (yes, that's the title of the third book of To All the Boys series! 🤣😂 I couldn't resist!!!)
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.