Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Miss You. I Don’t Miss Me.


I was watching home videos with Kiley last week.  She likes to watch the ones of her as a baby with “Dada Todd”, as she calls him.  As we went through a few we came across one that had me in it.  Or at least it looked like me.  But the person I was watching on the screen was a version of me that no longer exists.  Her voice was different.  Her demeanor was different.  She was just a memory now.


It made me wonder whether I had ever truly been real.  Have you ever wanted to impress somebody or want acceptance that you’ve been willing to tweak your personality, interests, values, hobbies, and etcetera?  I have.  I always have.  Name a boyfriend growing up and I could name something I pretended to be interested in so they’d like me.  I did it every time.  Or I’d ignore some monumental difference between myself and said boyfriend if I thought that acknowledging it would mean a break up.  That’s some low self-esteem right there.  Well when Todd came around I’d like to think I was growing up…. but I hadn’t grown out of some of those habits. 

 I was home for the summer from college.  Todd Weaver was deployed to Iraq with his National Guard unit and he was home on leave.  And he called me.  Me!  Todd was the classic all American star athlete with looks that could get any girl.  I couldn’t believe he was giving me the time of day.  I don’t want to give anybody the impression I was some desperately lonely girl who would do anything to date him.  But I did think he was pretty cute…. And I just wasn’t his type.



Football games don’t interest me.  There I said it.  Not even a little bit. Todd was a die- hard Cowboys fan…. and I remember a lot of overly dramatic yelling at the TV, throwing his arms up in disbelief at whatever had just happened on the field.  It was yet another bad year for the Cowboys.  Oh poor Todd.  I tried to be into it for him.  Todd loved skiing... I dreaded it.  I did it because I loved him.  I did a lot of things because I loved him that didn’t necessarily come naturally for me.  But Todd had an idea of what kind of a life he wanted to lead and what kind of a wife he wanted by his side.  I wanted to be that wife. 

I feel a lot of guilt.  He could have found the girl that loves football and traditional family values.  But instead he found me.  I used to say what I though he’d want to hear, stifled some of my obnoxious behaviors, and tried to be the wife he dreamed of.  I remember thinking to myself early on in the last deployment “Am I going to be able to make this work?  He isn’t going to love the real Emma”.  Before I ever had the chance to find out if our relationship could stand the test of time…. time stopped. 



On September 9th 2010 he was killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  The Emma Weaver that Todd knew was gone from that moment on.  Okay that’s not accurate.  I remember sitting in the living room with my Army wives after the notification officers had left.  I got up to get nail polish remover.  Todd wasn’t a fan of brightly colored nails so while he was deployed I took the opportunity to paint them blue.  I just couldn’t go to Dover with blue nails!


During the year after Todd’s death I spent a lot of time alone.  Learning how to be me again.  I learned how to handle motherhood alone.  I learned how to take care of myself and Kiley and our home.  Help was there when I needed it but for the most part I purposely challenged myself to be more independent. 

A friend had stopped by to visit with us one evening and in our conversations it turned to the topic of my future in love.  I wasn’t interested at the time of even considering dating.  But for information sake I talked about what I would need from a man to accept in able to be in our lives.  I could only see myself in a relationship with somebody that A) knew Todd or B) was in the military.  In my mind the kind of person that knew my late husband or understood his sacrifice would have a more understanding heart.  You throw the word “war widow” around and it’s easy to see why it’s hard to start dating.  Widows don’t forget.  They don’t ever stop thinking about their husbands.  That being said I wasn’t holding my breath!  But during that conversation that night I knew that in whatever relationship may come in the future that I would have to approach it in a very different way than the old Emma would have.


I promised myself that I would go forward in love with an open heart.  I wouldn’t wear a mask of any kind.  I would be honest.  I would be up front about how I plan to always remember Todd and how he will always be a part of my family.  It was only fair to lay it all out there so the poor guy could go running in the opposite direction should he feel so inclined.  Well when Alex came into the picture I don’t think either of us really knew how we felt about each other.  He was a good listener, made me laugh, and loved playing with Kiley.  I couldn’t tell how he felt about me…. but he sure did spend a lot of time with us.  So I took the opportunity to talk about some of the topics that I assumed would have him putting on his running shoes and heading out the door.  But he didn’t run. 




It didn’t take long for a very strong bond to form between us.  I kept my promises to myself, as we grew closer.  I let my weird sense of humor out without shame.  I don’t pretend to like terrible B movies of any kind.  I’m sorry Alex I just can’t watch them!  If I need to cry he holds my hand.  If there is an event for Gold Star families he will gladly go with me.  And as we approach the four-year anniversary of Todd’s death I know he will help me honor him.  He will be patient as I struggle through the hardest time of year for me. 

Sometimes I wonder where my old life would have taken me.  Would Todd have had any luck in his big parenting plans of using granola bars as a reward for Kiley?  I certainly didn’t.  When the paleo diet came into popularity I could see how that would have been something he would have been into.  Deeper than that I wonder whether I would have continued to be the old Emma or if I would have been strong enough to one day come clean about how much I had been editing myself.  Would he have accepted me with the same love he had for old Emma?  Would we have had another baby like we had talked about in our last emails?  There are so many questions…none of which I will ever have answers for.  It is with these questions that I have learned a hard lesson.  It took losing my husband, the father of our sweet daughter, and my world, as I knew it to make me see how important being “real” is.    

My life looks a lot different than where I was four years ago.  I think only my widow sisters will understand how much it hurts me to say I am happy again.  How could I not feel pain and guilt sometimes?  It’s a double-edged sword really.  Life:  it’s saddening because it’s not what I had planned for myself.  But it’s amazing at the same time.  I have an incredible family, on Earth and in Heaven!  Kiley will turn 5 years old this month and starts Kindergarten in the fall.  Shelton will be crawling any day now.  We’re happy and healthy and loving life.  I am truly sorry for not having been myself for so long.  It is a lesson that has not been lost on me.  
  

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous8/20/2014

    As the spouse of a current active duty service member so much I can relate so on the 'real me' and you have empowered me to 'come clean' on who I am. Your writing is empowering, humbling and just down right REAL! I shared your post today with my friend who is a war time widow herself (From 2011) she just ended a relationship because of some of the things you mentioned, having two loves one on earth and one in heaven. Thank you for sharing your life and your experiences.

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  2. So sorry I am so late to respond to this comment! I only write every so often so I don't check it as much as I should. I am glad you connected to some of what I was trying to get across. Your friend can find me on facebook if she so desires as Emma Louise Elizabeth Wright :)

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  3. Anonymous5/26/2015

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. After finding your initial story about your first husband on FB, I googled you, curious to see how you and your daughter were doing. I found your blog and after reading several of your blogs, I just have to say you're awesome. I know people have told you how enthralling of a writer you are. If you ever write a book, I would definitely read it. But much more than that your honest and your smart. I'm not going to lie. I guess I've watched too many Nicholas Spark books because I was a little disappointed after reading that you had since married and "moved on". In the movies, the wife can never find someone to live up to the hero. But this is of course real life. After reading your later blogs about the backlash from you sharing your husbands letter, I felt ashamed that I was even disappointed about choices you made for you and your daughter's life. First of all let me just say I don't understand how anyone has the nerve to be outright disrespectful to any other human being based on decisions that don't affect them at all. While I was only disappointed because of the romantic idea of a life that I had in my head after reading your Todd's letter, I have the sense to know that your life decisions are not my business. You chose to share a piece of your life and it's sad that sometimes opening yourself to others a little causes a flood gate of judgement from others that would have otherwise known nothing about you. I'm my opinion, your a real person, not an actress in a movie and I don't believe that any of us are made to be on this Earth alone. We don't choose when God brings out "lifetime" person into our lives just like you didn't choose to lose your first husband. I hope you and your family are doing well and I thank you for sharing those letters years ago. Your whole story is one of life, loss, love, and living and that's real.

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  5. I stumbled across your blog the other day. Your story immediately resonated with me because my 26-year-old husband, Nathan, was killed by a drunk driver this past October 5. Our baby daughter was just 3 weeks old. Almost eight months later, I feel just as lost and broken and isolated as I did when I first heard he was never coming home - perhaps even more so, now that the shock has somewhat worn off. I am so inspired by your courageous attitude and how you've refused to let losing Todd ruin your life with Kiley. I know he is so proud of you, and I hope that someday I can live with some of your faith and strength. Thank you for sharing your story as an inspiration!

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  6. Anonymous5/28/2015

    Your blog is truly inspiring. I am only 21 right now but I can only hope to become half as strong as you are. You have beautiful children. God bless you all <3

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  7. Them letters were both sweet and very sad at the same time . God bless your family ,I hope Todd rest in peace. From a woman that has a lot of military men and women in my family . I wish he was still here to be with you both in person...but at least you know he is watching from Heaven .

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  8. Anonymous9/06/2017

    I stumbled upon your story about the 2 letters your late husband wrote to you and your daughter. I found your blog through the link mentioned in that article and read the 2 most recent blog entries. The article focused on 2010 and here the entries were from 2014 and how you had transformed! And I'm sure you and your life may have changed even more in the last 3 years since those entries have been written.

    It was heartening to read your entries from 2014 in which you admitted that you've never shown your true self to others. Those entries were so completely open and honest and showed your strength of coming into your own and becoming your own person. That is a life lesson for all of us.


    May God bless you and your family. If you have time, it would be so great to read what life is like for you now.

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