I remember in the first few weeks after Howie died, a close friend said to me, “I don’t know how you are doing it. I don’t think I could get out of bed if I was in your place.”
The truth is, I was faking it.
My response was, “Yes you would. You are no different than I am. You are a mother and we do what we have to do for our kids.” Most mothers would be faking it, just like I was.
I meant it then and I still mean it now. For most of the women that I know. We do what we have to do.
In those first few weeks, I wanted to stay in bed under the covers and not get up all day. Who wouldn’t?
But if I did that, how would my kids get up? How would they go to school? How would they know that we had to move forward, even if we didn’t want to? So I got up, got them up, and made them go to school. And I either went to work or did whatever needed to get done that day.
Believe me, this was no easy task. For myself, as well as for them. Once I would get them to school. I worried all day. And on about half of those days, I would get a call from the middle school saying that Amanda wanted to come home. Some days I was able to talk her into staying. But on the others, I would go pick her up because she just couldn’t be there.
Now, I myself look back on that time and don’t understand how I did it either. But the truth is, I was almost robotic. I got up and did whatever I had to do on any given day because I didn’t have a choice. We needed to live so that’s what we did. But living and being alive are two different things.
Everything I did was because I had to, not because I wanted to. I was faking it.
Weeks turned to months, and months to years. Of course time makes things better. There were plenty of happy moments in that time. But I was not this pillar of strength that I tried to pretend to be. The smile on my face was sometimes so fake that it hurt. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it and believe me, I made some very big mistakes.
Now I can truly say that I feel strong.
I have become my own person in the past year and I love that. It didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual. My life is far from perfect – I still have plenty of bad moments, but they are much fewer and more far between.
In the past couple of weeks I ran into two different women that I know. One is just starting to go through a divorce and one is very recently divorced. I also had a conversation with a widow that I am friendly with. All three of these women are going through a difficult time at the moment, each for different reasons. I could see myself in all of them. I was where they all are for a very long time, probably too long.
I wish that none of us had to go through that pain.
But as much as I was faking that strength for so long, it must have been in me somewhere because it eventually came out. I know it will come out for each of them also. Sometimes it appears when you least expect it.
I am so very proud to say that everything I have been through has brought me to my writing and now being published. Life is getting better. I am no longer faking it.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.