catching up…

I’ve written dozens of lines on this screen, and deleted them all, not knowing how to describe what I’m feeling. Being a tightrope walker sums it up a bit, at least the last few weeks. Don’t look down, that’s the key, right? Keep my eyes focused on the path ahead, and getting across to the other side.

But what is the other side of grief?

It is so hard to shed the cloak of being a widow. It’s a double-edged sword, not wanting to be identified as the girl who’s husband died, our story being interrupted so abruptly. And yet, when people start to see me as I am today, on my own, it saddens me. I have to remind myself they’ve not forgotten him; it’s just the natural progression of things. I’m just becoming comfortable with being seen as a single mother, even though that isn’t exactly how I feel. Yes, I do the daily job of parenting alone, but he is always in my heart, guiding me in the decisions I make for our family.

I am alone, but not really.

Until the memories start to fade…

and the sound of his laughter becomes a distant echo I struggle to remember.

It’s almost two years since that moment, and I’m still standing. I looked down at my boots the other day and realized they’ve strolled the streets of Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy strewn with razor clam shells and a thick layer of snow, and clocked many miles making my way up a mountain in Morocco.

Two years almost down; the rest of my life to go.

The last couple of weeks have been about catching up, and finding some peace, calm and happiness. I made the decision to skip summer camp for the kids. We all need a break from routines and alarm clocks. Plans are plentiful, but aside from arrival and departure dates, the in-between moments aren’t etched in stone. Funny how before Mikey passed away I craved predictability and was always the planner. Now I’m the person running to the airport terminal as they announce the last boarding call.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with work, and wanted to share some new recipes before I fall into end of school busyness and prepare for the first vacation of the summer. One thing I plan on leaving at home, as I set about packing, is my cloak. I’m trading it in for a light sweater. One that I can drape across my shoulders when a cool breeze comes out of nowhere to remind myself that our story wasn’t a dream.

And while it feels like it ended, it’s just being told by new narrators—Isabella and Virginia. Our girls grew out of the story Mikey and I started, and they will keep it safe.

Music Pairing: Paths That Cross by Patti Smith


  • Maria

    Great post Jennie. Lovely and touching. I got chocked up at the end. Keep staying strong. I admire your strength.

  • Nancy Coburn

    Hi Jennifer…Read a recent writeup in the
    Wall St.Journal about your vintage cookbooks.
    I have a number of them and am wondering
    what to do with them. If you are interested, I
    will send you a list and could mail any to you,
    and you could then send me whatever you think
    is reasonable for them. Let me know what you
    think. I am not on facebook, so hope this
    reaches you. Nancy

  • Stacy Benish

    I don’t know your story, but I too was widowed in my thirty’s. I normally do not chime in on any blogs, but felt the need this time. My husband’s name was Mike-I had to leave my hometown and start over because I just couldn’t be labeled as the women who’s husband died. So there I went all alone and my first time in thirty something years that I had ever moved away, confused, and dying inside. Looking back I don’t know how I made it thru, but I did-it has been almost 9 yrs now and last year I married a wonderful man. You seem to be doing a great job pushing on, and I just want you to know I understand, and if you ever need some support just shoot me an e-mail.

  • Elsie

    My sister in law Mary sent me your blog, she told me reading your story reminded her of me. I too was widowed in my early thirties, my husband John was a NYC firefighter who died in the line of duty. Lucky for me, I had and still have a very supportive family ( on both sides) and wonderful friends. At the very beginning, I used to ask “Why Me”? But time passes and you live and grow and get used to being alone and you learn and I’ve come to understand .Why Not Me”. It is life, but what we do with it it’s what will make us or break us. My children ( I have a son Patrick and a daughter jennifer 🙂 ) have grown into two of the most wonderful, caring and kind teenagers and they know that life should not be taken for granted.

  • Brande Plotnick

    Lovely post. We have a close friend whose husband committed suicide a year ago this week. We have behind-the-scenes glimpses into her grief and the struggle of raising their adopted son alone. It’s so hard to watch her go through this.

  • Lora

    Your post brought me to tears.. I lost my father and he left us in his prime. I know your daughters will get you through this and of course he lives on… cmon.. his soul never left. xo

  • Ann Cser

    I am a youngish widow as well. I became a widow in Dec. 2009 after my husband was murdered. My heart goes out to you and your family as you try to navigate through this new journey that you have been forced to take. There really are no words that can ease your pain. Just know that you are in my prayers and I firmly believe that Mikey is with you and your family every step of your new journey. (((HUGS)))

  • kris

    I am on the same path you are – I don’t know sometimes I actually lie to new people as I still wear my wedding ring and just pretend I am married as I don’t want people to feel sorry for me and our son – crazy huh?? I can feel that I am stuck between 2 worlds and want to move forward but want to stay stuck as not to forget our story – great post

  • susannah

    This looks like the Ashokan Reservoir to me! I am glad i stumbled across your blog while on the food network. Your blog makes me feel good. Much appreciated 🙂

  • Sarah

    Reading the post and the great comments I lost my child 6 years again to a seizure and so much of what you all are saying rings such a bell. You don’t want to be this tragic figure but who re you now? You don’t want people to forget either. I can say to all of you only two years out. Hang in there is does get better…you do not get over it. You do not forget them. Time just makes it easier to bear. I too would lie and not go there. We have now moved to London and only my close friends know. He is with me every day and always will but life goes on. Just this weekend we were looking at houses and I said to my husband well we won’t fit around the table as it only fits 5 and we are 6. My poor husband had to remind me we are only a family of five now. The difference now is that slip is not traumatic it is just my world. Hugs to all. Hang in there everyone.

  • Nat

    Jennie, i am crying as I read this post. I cannot describe the emotions….. I cannot bear to read this post but I had to. It just chokes my up… the naked honesty of what you’ve been through…. i too am a tight rope walker though for different reasons but to the extent that I wall myself in… I don’t know what else to say cause anything I say will just be insignificant and interfere with the rawness of what you’re goin through. I read but never comment on your posts about your husband, but this just gripped me and I just wanted to let you know.

  • Ju Eng

    Jennie, such courage to move on. Just when I thought my world and dreams were crumbling, I stumbled on your blog and felt encouraged. God bless.