Monday, June 18, 2012

4KILEY

I could be setting myself up for failure tonight as most of what has been weighing on my mind is difficult to discuss.  The repercussions could potentially intensify how alienated I already feel, but after some lengthy conversations with my personal advisor (Mom), she gently reminded me that if we don't talk about the hard stuff....we don't change the hard stuff.

Since last year's global backlash of sharing my husbands last letters to my daughter and I, I have been less apt to put myself in a situation where I could feel that much judgement.  After reading more hateful comments from people that just must have thought I hadn't suffered enough- they certainly gave me cause to hesitate.  I turned down a national television show knowing that as much positivity and hope I could give would never be worth repeating that experience.  But wouldn't you know it...I don't have to say much at all and judgement is a daily hardship for me.  Can we talk about this, please?  Because if I sit on it much longer I'm scared that I'll build up so much resentment to those I feel  abandoned by that when I'm finally pushed away that it could be too late.  This being Father's Day I was motivated to reach out and hopefully connect on this issue after this morning's sermon at my church.  I felt like in a room of over 1,000 people that our pastor was just sitting across from me at a coffee shop maybe, hearing my heart and everything I have been through and learned, and verbalizing it in a way that I never could.  That will stick with me forever.

Something to consider:  Being a widow, young or old, with kids or without, does not mean that they lost the ability to decide what is best for them or their family.  You trusted and loved them when they married the man they lost, please be there for them when they try to pick up the pieces of their lives when they need you the most.  Many people aren't aware of how much added burden is placed on somebody experiencing grief when opinions and expectations of everybody else are constantly on their mind.  I'm going to tell you something I haven't talked about before, and I wish I didn't feel like I had to now.

The day before Todd deployed we were sitting upstairs in the office finishing my Battle Book.  For those of you who have never heard of a battle book it is a directory of every important piece of information that you could ever think of in order to take care of a military spouses daily routine in an emergency.  Like if during Todd's deployment I were to be hospitalized for whatever reason somebody could look at this book and know when to feed the dog, where we kept medicine, what Kiley's needs were, etc.  The more important part of that book goes through subjects we don't ever want to have to consider could be our reality.  But it is.  We talked about funeral wishes.  We talked about wearing uniform vs. civilian clothes.  We talked about what he would like to take to Heaven.  And as painful and upsetting as they were, if he didn't tell me and if the worst were to happen I may have questioned every decision that I did make wondering whether it was what he wanted.  Harder than any of that conversation was the part when he told me about wanting to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  He'd of course never mentioned that before and I didn't ask why.  That's what he wanted and I didn't need an explanation- if my husband has to come back to me under red, white, and blue he gets whatever he wants.  No questions.  But what I did want to know was whether that would mean that when my time came would I be able to rest there with him?  He just stopped writing, looked at me, and said "well I've always assumed you would remarry"....followed closely with "Kiley needs to have a Dad".  I can't imagine how difficult that thought had to have been for him.  It hurt me to hear it because it wasn't a reality I wanted to live.   His tone of voice said more than his statement did....  different than I would have expected.  He was serious and tender at the same time.  A lot of what Todd communicated in life never had to be said- and during this moment etched into my memory forever I felt his desire for my happiness come through in a way I'd never experienced before.  I've been trying to come up with a way to express the significance and depth of this conversation but I can't.  I can't because nobody else would understand, it was a bond that only we shared- so different than any other - friend or family alike.

Not having shared this intimate detail of our lives until now it has been hard to cope with the reactions of others from the moment I started dating Alex.  Having the peace that I do, knowing my husband's heart better than anybody, somehow got buried underneath the blanket of unspoken disapproval and abandonment I feel now.  I started to question whether what Kiley and I needed for our future could ever be embraced with love and understanding.  To be totally honest I don't feel like I'm even a factor in some people's minds anymore.  Emma Weaver was replaced with Todd's widow.  A bookmark in time....placed at Sept 9th, 2010.  Losing a spouse is so emotionally devastating but what makes it worse is that not only have you lost them- you've lost hope that you'll be supported, and you've lost your identity.  Take care of a widows heart.  We just ask for understanding when the time comes for us to move forward in our lives.  Maybe our decisions aren't the same as what you'd do/hope/expect.  But you haven't lived what we have....haven't lost what we have.  Your silence speaks volumes.  And this is the only way I can hope to reach an audience, maybe not mine, but somebody out there will hear this call...

This next part is where I'm going to call myself out and others too.  This is where what I have to say can potentially be the last bit of communication I ever get to have with some people.  All I can do is pray that by acknowledging my awareness of it and my desperate hope to connect my heart to yours that it won't be.

Lets talk about Facebook.  I take Todd's memory and all that I can teach and share with Kiley very seriously.  She needs to know what a great man she has for a father.  And at the same time I want to balance that remembrance with our present and our future.  Being able to express happiness again is amazing, something as simple as a status update or life event is monumental...to me.  So like every other person out there that's what I do.  Except I started to take notice of who commented, liked, or messaged me. A trend was starting to appear.  Any time I talked about Todd or tagged a picture of him I was overwhelmed with positive feedback.  Battle buddies, co-workers, old friends, new friends, mentors, strangers, family, you name it.  It was encouraging.  Sadly though my audience that comments on anything having to do with the concept of "moving forward" is much smaller.  A more defined audience as well....women mostly, new friends, people who grew up being my friends and knowing me for me, soldiers for whom Todd would speak highly of and valued on a professional level, and those with children of their own.  While that was encouraging too- it hurt at the same time because I was acutely aware of the differences I was seeing.  I can only hope that although I'm letting you know how painful is has been to feel like not only have I lost Todd but I'm losing those ties to people he cherished on Earth....that you'll hear my heart now.  Todd doesn't get to grow old and reminisce about the old days, he doesn't get to go to reunions, he doesn't get to share his daughter with the world.  I do.  I would like to be able to do that for him if you'll have me.

Take care of a widows heart.  Please.

9 comments:

  1. I love your honesty.
    I love that God has given someone to you for you to love again.
    I love that your heart was even open to it.
    I love that you can share your heart.
    I don't love how people have treated you through all of this, they could never ever be in the position to judge or drop you unless they have been where you are and even at that there is no room for it.
    I am sorry you have had to walk through all of the crap you have. It puts a damper on celebrating on all who Todd is and also Im sure your relationship with Alex! Don't even get me started on this because we too have been through the same thing and it just plain hurts!
    I have your back girl! Praying for you always!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Katie, it's as you know not easy to tackle a life event and find that more of the difficulty comes from "if you're doing it right". But to be hopeful I'm very sure that there is never ill will in their hearts, just a lack of clarity. I miss them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Emma, you are so strong and inspiring. My boyfriend is currently deployed somewhere in the middle east, I am not allowed to know where. I try to keep the worst case scenario out of my mind, but there is a reality to war. I have tried to keep up with your blogs and Facebook posts since that fateful day in September, because it was given me an entirely new perspective and respect for my military relationship, one that I never thought I would be in. I have learned so much from you. I have been lucky enough to have military friends, girlfriends, and spouses support me through his detachments and deployment. I couldn't imagine if their support turned to judgement or disapproval in a difficult situation. You have every right to do what is best for your family and find happiness. Kiley knows when you're happy or sad, so for her (and yourself), you need to be happy. War will always bring controversy, and it is idealistic for me to tell you to simply ignore the comments. But you're strength through it all is admirable, and though you choose not to re-tell your story in public forum, know that you have touched and inspired many people. I wish you and Kiley the best! You deserve it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Sarah! I'm glad you are embraced by our close knit military family, for that is truly what it is. Losing Todd has transformed who I thought I was and what I thought I had to offer the world....and part of that transformation has been this blog. I could never have had the confidence to be this open to life, love, and taking this journey to the streets before. We don't learn how to address grief growing up, nobody talks about it. I have a perspective on what it's like to be on the receiving end (or lack there of) of communications that without intent cause a widow more pain. I hope that through Todd's sacrifice and my outreach that I can offer this perspective as a learning opportunity for others when it comes to how they can contribute to the rebuilding of their life. Walking beside them through their darkness gives them strength, don't turn around when the sun rises again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Emma,
    You are so amazingly strong. Thank you for sharing that moment in time with us. I wish I could have known Todd at W&M. Even from only the comments from Alex and his other friends in the William and Mary community, I know how strong, kind, and steadfast he was. He was an amazing man, and will always be remembered. I am glad to know you and Kiley in this next chapter of both of your lives. What you said about losing part of your identity struck a chord. I sometimes feel that I am only Forrest's brother now, and I hadn't thought through the implications of that until I read your words just now. It's important to remember what makes you you, and what you are living for, as I know you know. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and putting them out there for others to see and gain strength from as well. You and Kiley are incredible, I wish only the best for both of you.
    -Austin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Austin, I'm glad that your friendship with Alex has stood the test of time :). Somebody said that people come into our lives for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. You guys have that lifetime quality for sure! I'm glad for the opportunity to share that as the years go by. You may have noticed the comment above by Katie, if you get a chance I think you would find that what she and her husband tackle everyday is very similar to your family. Your commitment to Forrest's healing from an outside perspective is something to be admired. What motivates you is something only you fully understand, maybe changing all the time. I appreciate the encouragement and that you connected with some of what I've been through in your own way. I won't forget me if you won't forget you :)

      Delete
  6. Emma - Although I wish I could take away the hurt you have experienced, it is clear that you have taken everything that has happened to you into your heart and mind and have drawn strength and peace from it all. Sharing your journey and your thoughts is a gift. I hope that Kiley comes to know how special and strong her mom is in this life. Love you always and my heart smiles at the picture of you, Alex, and Kiley beginning your life together. Love, Adri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Adri for voicing that :). Not being able to learn or grow through this pain would belittle his sacrifice. Maybe I don't get it all right but I hope that he's smiling down on us knowing that I've tried to pick up the pieces as best I could. Love you guys!

      Delete
  7. Emma, I'm not sure if you remember me. I was at the Military Families United Gold Star Family Luncheon in Richmond as a staff member. You and I spoke briefly after the lunch, and something about you left an impression. I'd marked your blog as one to follow, but for some reason Blogger didn't show me anything until yesterday, when every post of yours from the past year or so popped into my feed. I am sorry to read of the additional hurt you've experienced, and the backlash after the Daily Mail article. I am amazed and happy to read about how you have handled everything and the happiness you have found with Alex. I wish people would somehow learn to stop judging those living out experiences they couldn't even imagine, but am impressed with the strength and grace you've shown and your courage to continue sharing with the world. I know you don't know me, and I don't know you, but I just wanted to leave a little note to tell you that you are inspiring and wish you a lifetime of happiness with Alex and Kiley. -Stacey

    ReplyDelete