Mind The Gap

unnamed-2From June 21 through the 28th I was on a TAPS Widows Event in London and Bath England. I really enjoy going on retreats with TAPS because I can be around other women who have experienced the same as I have, a death of a spouse. Another thing I like about these retreats is no one expects you to be a specific was, meaning no one wants you to act a certain way like you would when your spouse was alive. People that I know have put that requirement on me, but I’ve since severed my relationship with them. I can’t waste my time on people who won’t accept me for who I am NOW. Widows in the TAPS organization accept other widows at face value, they don’t expect or want you to be anyone but who you are right now. And these retreats are at times a window to who you are.

This retreat also taught me something about myself that I really didn’t know. I discovered that as for being in a relationship again, I’m just not ready for that just yet. And I discovered this is absolutely OKAY as well. Some widows are in another relationship, some aren’t. Every one of us are on a similar journey, but definitely not the exact same one. Will I ever be ready? I really don’t know the answer to that question, and I don’t think I must have an answer. What I now know is simple. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t then that’s OKAY as well. Now how I learned this is a entirely different story that will be told some other time, maybe not here, but it will be told.

In London there is a saying, well it’s mostly said on the tube by a recording and it’s there to remind people to watch out, be careful. Those simple three words are “Mind The Gap.” As you get on and off the tube there is a gap between the train and the platform and people have fallen and died because they didn’t “Mind the Gap.” I think this little saying applies to TAPS as well. What I found when I went to my first TAPS grief seminar was just this. There was someone making sure I didn’t fall into the gap, they were in fact Minding the Gap for me. I was reminded of this on my first tube ride to Westminster Station. TAPS was making sure I didn’t fall into the gap that pops open. That is one reason why I love TAPS. TAPS has done so much for me, and many others who have suffered a military loss. I wonder where my next retreat will be.

So next time you are out and about, don’t forget to MIND THE GAP!

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Counseling is a Good Thing

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Today I had my appointment with my counselor at the VetCenter. I’m so thankful for my counselor, she’s absolutely AWESOME.. Today I told her I’m having doubts about whether or not I’m doing OK or if I’m reverting back some. I told her I think I’ve been reverting back and that it was bugging me. Everytime I hear of another soldier dying in Afghanistan I get so disappointed. When I hear about a military man/woman being mistreated I become disappointed. And that’s nothing to say about watching a movie that’s about the military or a military operation, I just can’t do it. I’m at the point now that I can’t even talk about Robb without crying and if you know me you know I don’t cry in public!

I used to be able to talk to anyone about Robb and what he meant to me, but not now. I can start, but I get about as far as saying “my husband Robb…” and that’s all that comes out of my mouth. I know why it’s happening, but I certainly don’t like it. We, my counselor and I, talked about why this is happening and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just something I’m going to go through. I can’t change it, nor do I really want to right now. We talked about grief and how it works and we both agree the phrase, “moving on” is just so wrong to use in regards to grief. “Moving through our grief” is a much better way to describe what a grieving person does. Lets face it, you really never “get over” it anyway, so why even try. Let’s just call it what it is and move through it and it really doesn’t matter if it ends either.

Another thing about today with my counselor I really appreciated. We talked about how some people put up a “shrine” to the dead person. Some do this, and I think people have claimed that I do this (I don’t and it’s a long story for another time). Some people leave the bedroom of a child who has died just the way it was when the child was alive. They don’t change a thing, and family members go in the room and remember the life of the brother/sister/child. I think this is so important, and yet people (the general public) think you need to put all that stuff away and never look at it again. That is SO WRONG!!! There is nothing wrong with remembering the person, and if their stuff helps you to do that GREAT!! If having their stuff around you makes you happy, then SO BE IT! I think it’s important to remember a grieving person will always remember their loved one. A grieving person will never forget the life that was lost, and the last thing anyone should do is try and change that. A motto of TAPS.org (Tradegy Assistance Program for Survivors) is Remember the love, Celebrate the Life, Share the Journey.

If you don’t think I’m doing this right, well then it’s really not my problem now is it?

Day after Valentines Day

Kassie Collins and me at the Anchorage marathon

Kassie and Me

So yesterday I went to school, did the whole school thing and I had a good day. Did I get a Valentine from anyone? NO. But I it’s not a big deal to me. Frankly I don’t understand why it’s such a huge deal to some women on a few of the groups I’m in on Facebook. I mean one day of the year does not define your life, well it doesn’t define mine in the least. One day of the year doesn’t say who loves you or who you love. That is a year-long commitment, so determining that your life is not worth it because there are no Valentine presents says a lot of your mindset. I understand that mindset, but I’m no longer bound to it as I once was. I think that to live a life worth living, you must love others first. I think to live a life worth living you need to love your life as it is. It may not be a perfect life, and it may not be what you want your life to be. But it’s the life you have been given, so put on your big girl panties and LIVE IT!

I’m trying really hard to do just that. I have only my daughter, her two kids, her husband, and his daughter for my immediate family.  That little family is all I have, but I love them with my very being. I’m learning so much at Clark, and I’m enjoying going to class and interacting with people. I love it when I can help another student figure out what to do or what something means. It makes my day when that happens. I’m traveling when I have the money, and I go on TAPS retreats as often as I can simply because they are FUN!!!

I still fight depression on a daily basis, but my life is a good life now. I didn’t think I’d ever get here 5+ years ago, but it happened. Go figure. Me of all people has a good life. It’s a little lonely at times, but it’s a good life none the less.

The above picture was taken in Anchorage Alaska. I was on a TAPS Retreat, The Alaskan Adventure, and believe me it was an adventure. Had a super time and I got to meet a great bunch of military widows. I love these retreats and I plan to go on more in the future. OH and if you haven’t been to Alaska, you are missing out on a beautiful place.