Thursday, July 23, 2009

The National Conference on Widowhood

A year and a half ago, I would have laughed thinking I would know just how dry (not in tears - but in uninteresting info) and boring this conference would be. You wouldn't have found me within 500 km of it. Now, not only was I nervously excited to attend this conference, I would have been completely wrong in my assumptions if I had judged in my pre-widowhood life.

Being with other people who totally understood the dark humour, the sadness, the hilarity and the struggles that go along with the loss of a spouse was so cathartic and freeing, that I feel refreshed and, literally, lighter from meeting and growing friendships with these truly stellar people.

They get it. They know. They don't shy away from it or compare their loss to others. It is all loss of someone we hadn't expected to lose so young. Our support, our best friends, our loves, our security, our life.

To not have to measure my words, to cease to quiet the morbid humour that others don't get, to release all those strange bits of info that go along with this loss and to hear the odd, sad, humourous and crazy stories that unify us in return was amazing. Truly amazing.

Admittedly, I drank more than I usually do. I swore more and spilled more of my 'guts' than I had planned to, but it was okay. We were all there to catch each other.
I met Matt, who hates March 25th, 2008 as much as I do and who has included me so kindly in the foundation that will help others in our situation. Being with him, provided me with so many laughs and a complex about being Canadian surrounded by Americans. ;)
I met Abigail, whose amazing book helped me to feel not so alone and to feel so understood when I read it soon after losing Jeff. She is fabulous and hilarious. Amazingly, she can still bestow upon me words of wisdom and understanding that I didn't think possible.

Candice was great and, although, she received some unexpected and sad news during our stay, she managed to troop on.

Andrea felt like a long lost friend. She's quirky and sunny and I would have packed her home in my suitcase if I thought we could have got away with it.

Melodie was SO wonderful!!! I am so 'blessed' to be able to call her my new cosmopolitan friend with her unexpected hilarity and supportive kindness.

Rachel, although, she fortunately lacks the 'widow' status, is a rockstar and I love her to bits. Man, can she dance!!!!!

And, Kim, the jet skier extraordinaire, who went on a CRAZY adventure with me all over the harbour resulting in swimming after a wayward jet ski that didn't stop after I threw us from the back with my wannabe pro manuevers, a wayward boob that wanted to see the sights out of the left armhole of her lifejacket and a lost room key that forced a sopping wet me to run through the fancy hotel lobby in search of a replacement in the hopes that she could make her flight in time! Fabulous!
See? Who knew that widows were such a great group?

One thing that I noticed over and over is the realization that we all share, not just in the cognitive sense, but in the 'lived it' sense, that life is short. Don't waste it. Don't regret it. Don't shy away from it. Cry when you need to. Laugh when you can. And keep moving. And, hopefully, as Kim says, I hope that all of our lost loves are looking down at us and laughing and shouting, "Yeah, babe!!!"

While away, I found myself often thinking, "Oh! Liv would LOVE that! Briar would think that was SO cool!!!!" I took so many pictures of things for their viewing pleasure....Now that they've seen them, do I just delete them??


darcie said...

awesome. awesome. and more awesome!

I haven't worn 'those shoes' but I know how important it is to be around others who share our struggles and my friends who DO WEAR my same shoes are so very important to me!
And no - you crazy woman!
you don't just delete the pictures!
Put them in a folder on your computer or copy them to a disc and keep them to look back on and giggle/talk/laugh about later!

so very glad you had fun! I'm no Rachel, but I KNOW Rachel and I hope I can be as lucky as she was and meet up with you IRL soon!

xoxo -

Abigail said...

Gawd! I look like the demonic widow in that pic! It was such a pleasure getting to know you. I look forward to our new-found friendship.

Jackie said...

I wouldn't say 'demonic'...I'd say 'enthusiastic'!!!!

Rach said...

I have been thinking over you over the last week, wondering how it all went for you. And I so pleased that it went so well. I understand how important it is to have people that unerstand you - that get it. I know that without my babylost mama friends, it would be a darker and more lonely world.


Poppy and Mei said...


AndreaRenee said...

Awww, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me! =)

Faith said...

so happy you were able to go!! :0) and that you found something you needed while you were there...

indybarb said...

It's SO awesome to hear that you had such a great time at the conference and you got to meet so many others, like yourself, who just "get it". Life is short and it's good to see that you got out there and lived it and laughed and smiled for a few days. Your jet ski adventure sounded like a load of fun, and I'm so glad you got to meet Matt and all the girls you have gotten to know over the past year. Keep on having fun and living your life the best way possible. Your hubby would want you to be happy I am sure : )

Mel said...

What a fantastic description! Getting to know you has been absolutely wonderful and I look forward to a lifetime friendship.

Love you, too.

Kim Lucio said...

OMG I'm still laughing every time I think about the jet ski experience. Thanks for risking your life with me in the waters of the Bay.
I'm so thrilled to have laughed so hard and to have a great memory! I hope that all of the great widows I met will continue to find moments in time that are worth living for!
luv ya Jackie!