Sometimes he is just there…

Kelly was in a reggae band, a reggae band from prairie Alberta, comprised of 6 short, white guys; it was not the most typical scene.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of watching them play, and it was overwhelming the feeling of him in the room. If I closed my eyes I could see him there, I could hear him in the music, his raspy forceful voice harmonizing to Cam’s sweet croon. I was overcome with my own sense of sadness, my own sense of loss, and my own sense of joy that his music might live on much longer than he.

Gratitude continuously cradles me. For every hug I received from one of his friends that night, I felt like it was a hug from Kelly himself. I was the wife of an incredible man, a man I will always love.

Public cry #79: The Soulicitors at MKT


Widow Expectations: Insecure

It is such an overwhelming responsibility to lose your husband. You fill your head with questions all day, every day. Am I doing right by him? What does his family need from me? What do his friends need? How can I ease their pain? How can I help them feel peace? How can I be good enough for him, now that he isn’t here? Will I ever be good enough again? What would he want? What does it mean to grieve well? What do I do NOW?

Questions that you may have never considered before. Questions that fill you with doubt, and insecurity. People say, “I’ve never seen her so insecure.” You become awkward in your skin. They call you widow, where you were once called wife.

It’s been a year and a half…some days I wish for a fast forward.

Tarah, you know.

My friend sees spirits. I asked her if she saw Kelly, she hesitated. She said, “no”, but she followed up with, “I think I hear him sometimes though”.

“What did he say?”

She hesitates again, and shifts in her chair. She feels uncomfortable, and cautious. She sighs, “he says, you know”.

I tilt my head in inquisition, prompting her to elaborate.

“He says, you know, and you are doing it right”.

Living two lives…

I live two lives…

In life number one I wish to be free.

I dream of waking up happy again. I hang out with friends, I meet new people, and I have dreams and goals.

I learn, I teach, I practice yoga, I travel, I laugh. I want to be loved. I want to have children. People are around me because they like me. I feel normal…

…and I feel guilty. I feel guilty for having these desires. I feel guilty for wanting my life to move forward, for even having a life to move forward with.  

In life number two I battle.

I battle with dark clouds, arbitrary moments shrouded with grief, blurred by tears. 

I go to sleep listening to a terrible tv show in the background, so my bed doesn’t feel so empty. I wake up in tears.

In this life I am married, and my love is tangibly unrequited.  

In these moments I am an island…steps away from drowning in sorrow.

People are around me because they support me, because they didn’t know that they might encounter this, but they accept it.

In this life, I yell at my husband, I scream and stomp, and I ugly cry.  In this life his clothes still hang in the closet, his car still in the garage. But no one is there to mow the lawn. 

Please don’t judge me…

People make it better, but also worse. Everyone thinks they know the magical amount of time that one must grieve, wear black, or cry.  I know that I will never stop crying, I know that I will never stop grieving, but I also know I need to seek happiness, achieve my goals, and have a family. I place enough expectations on my own life, behaviours, and actions.  It is not helpful for me to encounter yours.

 All the time I think of Kelly.  What would he really want? What would he really want me to do?


Be Strong – Or what the hell does that mean?

When Kelly first passed, a lot of people told me to be strong. A lot of people told me I was strong. I know I am nothing.

The love of my life was ripped from me without any warning, and without any reason. I could not be strong. I would weep spontaneously throughout all the days of the summer. I would scream at the indifferent walls of my now too big house. I would lay like a tantrumming-child on the floor of my kitchen, tears of sorrow, grief and yearning soaking the ceramic tiles. All the while begging to be taken too somehow. I wasn’t strong, it was never me being strong.

But Kelly, he made me get out of bed when people came by to visit. He made me give hugs and hand out beers, listen to people tell stories of the good times, of how Kelly would make them laugh. The only strength I have had is his. 

I can’t explain it fully, but I knew all the while he was there. He would send me “rise and shine” messages for weeks. I heard the phrase all over the place. He sent me people, people who would open their heart to me, and become a part of a greater family with a strong and lifelong bond. He was there in the dark moments when I couldn’t really see the days passing by without him. A feeling of urging, a feeling that I needed to live.

I will say, that I had to make a conscious decision not to die myself. It was a decision made less difficult by all of these things, but still a decision. His strength became mine, and now I can start to rebuild my own. Slowly, and brick by brick, with perhaps some cracks and holes, I build my own strength back.

I am not strong, but I have strength behind me, in love and in people. 

Report Card Grief

On a report card weekend, my stress levels are typically three times higher than usual. Kelly was always a master at curbing the stress, but not without first insisting upon increasing it.  He would first want to hang out, a “whatcha doing?” was common.  Then his regular routine of noise and flurry, playing guitar, banging around in the kitchen etc. And then it would stop.

He would first make me take a moment for me…a sweet, tender moment. Complimenting my skills as a teacher, or just pulling me close and making me feel safe. Reassuring me I would live through another report card term, though I wasn’t quite sure.

He would play guitar softly, but nearby. Or help by cleaning the kitchen. Or he would disappear to paint or record music, or visit a friend.  He would check on me, make sure I was okay, make sure I was smiling.

And so, again in the solitude of my home, it was quiet this term. Deafening…

I sat, staring longingly at the couch, wishing he was there softly singing, playing the same new riff over and over. I wish he was there making petulant noise so I would pay attention to him. I wish he was there to clean the kitchen, and make me coffee. I wish he was there…


Anyone who knows Kelly knows he loves Halloween, but he didn’t usually pull his costume together until the day of whatever party we were going to. One year we were going to a party at a mutual friend’s house, and need a costume quickly.  I found mine first, the Queen of Hearts, a velvety dress and a Dollar Store crown – done.  So, he HAD to be the Madhatter (we both agreed that was a must, we need to be a pair), we spent hours longer finding the hat and wig, adding a crazy coat, a tea cup, and a scarf from Value Village, and I then did his make up and my own pre-party. Finally done!

We arrived at the party, and everyone was so impressed with Kelly’s costume (and mine as well), but they LOVED the teacup, which he broke in the second hour. It was time for the “best costume award”, and there were three nominees Hal and Joann McCleod, Angelina Jolie, and….the MADHATTER! On his own, not as a pair, just him. Aaaaaaannnnndddd….he won, by himself. I’m not bitter. Furthermore, despite knowing all the hard work I put into his costume, he proudly displayed his “costume trophy” FOR YEARS to come. Seriously!

Lesson for me: don’t take your self too seriously.
Lesson for Kelly: Continue to be awesome.