Sunday Post 106: It’s Not A Choice

Tonight I met with my men’s group – the guys who have also lost their wives to cancer.  There were only four of us.

We all struggle at times and with similar experiences, yet often on different timelines.  For some the holidays were tough.  For others, the wedding anniversary brought it all back – it was the day that no one else really celebrated.  Just their time.  In a way, that made it harder than Christmas.  I get that.

At the end of the meeting, I shared an email a buddy of mine sent me today.  I met him through the play, A Christmas Carol.  He’s a really neat guy and has become a great friend.

He was commenting on a recent post I’d written – the one where I said, “I don’t know how my story ends.”

He wrote:  As I was reading your blog, it struck me. I’m sorry about you losing your wife, but do you realize that if it wasn’t for your loss, we would most likely not know each other?  Would you have tried out for A Christmas Carol if Lisa was still living?

I know how you will finish the book.  For everything that has to die it brings forth life.  You bury a seed so that it can bring forth life.  Your ending will be LC instead of BC … Life after Cancer not just Before Cancer. The key word is Life because you are still living, and look at all of the new sprouts that have come up!

 A friend in the support group said, “It’s not a matter of choosing this new life over the loss of your wife.  It wasn’t a choice.  She died – period.”

The choice comes in what you do after she dies.

I am thankful for the new experiences I’ve had since Lisa’s death.  I am thankful for the new friendships I have made.

I always feel like when good happens that I need to clarify my happiness – “This is great, but I’d rather this not have happened and still have Lisa.”

Well duh.  But it wasn’t a choice.  Therefore enjoy the good, and enjoy guilt free.

Sunday Post 74: The Dead Wives Club

Posted by Danny

Every third Monday of the month for the past 18 months, I’ve driven to Chapel Hill, NC.  I’m a NC State man, I’m not going over there to support the Heels.  That’s actually where I meet with The Dead Wives Club.  That’s not our actual name; however, it probably best describes the group.

Two UNC psychiatrists were bored and looking for something to study.  I’m not sure how they landed on us.  I think they ran across one of the dudes in the group not long after his wife had passed.  I imagine the conversation went like this:

Doc 1:  “How ya’ holding up?”

Widower Dude:  “Not so well.”

Doc 1 to Doc 2:  “Interesting.  Let’s study this.”

Doc 2:  “Got anything better?”

Doc 1:  “Nah.  Not really.”

Doc 2:  “OK.”

And that was the beginning. 

There are about 8 of us in the group.  All under 50, all with kids still in the house, all who lost our wives to cancer around the same time.  We gather in an office building – we eat, we share. 

The first year, we cried – a lot – one of the few safe places I’ve found where men cry in front of other men and it’s fine.  We all know each other’s pain and for us, tears are NOT a sign of weakness.

We’ve shared about our kids.  We’ve talked about guilt.  We each, at varying times, removed our wedding rings.  And we found that the lonely nights and the empty bed were difficult for us all. 

I really don’t think that we have that much in common.  We’ve only seen each other 18 times in our entire lives.  And yet, in a way, we know more about each other than we know about most of the people we run across on a daily basis. 

How is that possible?  I believe we can walk into the room and sense exactly what the other is feeling.  It doesn’t really take words.  It’s in the eyes.

Over our time together, we’ve seen great progress.  We’ve moved from discussions on dealing with our incredible losses to discussion about Match.com (no, not yet). 

I didn’t think I was a support group kind of guy.  I’m probably not.  But there has been something incredibly comforting about this oddly matched group of men. 

I’m not sure how long we’ll meet.  We each will move forward and perhaps outgrow the need.  But walking into a room of young dads who lost their wives to the same damn disease has been one leg of my healing journey.  And I’m thankful for that.

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