Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Kiera kindly subbed my Sunday and Monday classes a few weeks ago. When I got back, more than one student asked me, “Really? Disneyland? Kiera said you were at Disneyland, and that doesn’t seem like your thing.” It so is not.

It’s important to me that I live clearly. I try to be the same person all the time. I don’t want my words and actions to be misleading. I strive for transparency with my emotions and preferences. Success! Evidently. People who only know me as their yoga teacher were incredulous that I would take time off work to go to Disneyland. It made sense though when I said I was there for my mom’s 60th. People who only know me as their yoga teacher know that I adore my family, and that I’d do all the things for them.

For my birthday last year, Hilary asked my people to say nice things about me, typed up those bits, and put it all in a jar that sits on my desk. Feeling low? Read a love note. One of the many snips from my mom said that she loves that she knows that I would happily kill someone if they harmed or offended my family. 20 years ago, I would happily have killed my family. Now, if you merely look sideways at one of my nephews, I’ll slash your tires, smear your name, and eat your pets. I appreciate that my family permitted me to grow. They didn’t paint me into a box after my parent-and-sibling-scarring adolescence. Despite years of hurt, something soft in my mom and dad left me room to evolve, and—intentionally—I did. I suspect the rest of them followed that example. Or they were too young to remember the more hurtful details of my growing up.

That is how I ended up in Disneyland earlier this month. Mama Sue was turning 60 and her great dream was to go to The Happiest Place on Earth with her six adult daughters. My five little sisters and I agree that we’ve really never seen Sue happier. She mentioned more than once on the trip that when we were growing up she never let herself imagine something like this could happen. Raising her SixChix was rocky AF.

We were in the parks during the whole of America’s Spring Break, and, with great sympathy, many of our friends have asked if the ride lines were atrocious. We didn’t care. I’m not sure we really knew. We didn’t have any children with us. As a non-Disney person, I wasn’t excited to spend time there, but, Dear Reader, going anywhere at all with my family is so entertaining. I’d spend the weekend in an STD-splattered truck stop bathroom if it was with my sissies.

At one of the very few serious moments on the trip, Sue said that she was grateful to watch us with each other. “I’m not always going to be here,” she said, “and I know that when I’m gone, you’ll take care of each other.” We will. Whitney will have special relationships with each of the nieces and nephews. She’ll steal them from school to go for salad. She’ll keep them for the weekend. Caitlyn will be the unrelenting comic relief. She will lighten the mood with perpetual silliness that we will never not find hilarious. Haley will have all the asides, rushing to smooth out disagreements so relationships don’t deteriorate over stupid shit. Mally will be a locked-down, judgment-free zone to share secrets and fears. Lola will be auntie-on-the-spot. She will always make it to family events and give the best hugs when it’s time to leave. My five little sisters will do those things and more for us all. I’ll be there too, making myself useful from time to time but mostly just trying not to be underfoot.

Did we wear matching shirts? On Susie’s birthday, we sure did. (I think I was the only one kicking and screaming over that one; my sisters are better sports than I am.) Did we go to Star Wars land? Well, no, we did not, as we missed the opening by a couple months. Going on Star Tours over and over wasn’t a sufficient salve for that particular sting, so with a catch in my throat and a sink in my gut I say here: I guess we’ll have to go back.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


I am writing not at all. At all. It’s an interesting place to be, writing not at all when I spent years in school using every spare moment to get my pages done and when after Jim died words surged from my fingertips like flame, prompting my most productive healing. No, “interesting” isn’t the right word for where I am. That’s a filler word, a word I use to be polite. “Do you like my dress?” “Oh my! It’s so interesting!” Put the right tone behind that word and it can masquerade as a term of endorsement.

No, I’m not in an interesting place. When it comes to my writing I’m in a nothing place. Word-wise, I feel inert, and for people who write or have written, there’s nothing less compelling or more common than that.

So here I am—I’m common. It doesn’t feel good, but evidently it doesn’t bother me enough to excite action.

The problem could be this: I’m terribly powerful in crisis. When everything is falling apart around me, I rally like a boss. But nothing is wrong, so I do not know how to be my best self. I'm stuck.

I’m not asking for something to—please, oh please—get effed up. I’m perfectly content to teach yoga, go to trainings to make me better at teaching yoga, grouse about my aging dogs, love my Jason, and learn how to bake better bread. Yet it’s contentment that seems to be the death of a me I am proud to be. What am I when there isn’t anything wrong? I don’t know what to be when I’m not required to be incredible. Additionally, as I’ve said before, I feel like that means that the woman Jason loves is a poor representation of what I could be, so poor handsome Jason. Now, if only something was terribly off . . . which I don’t want. I really don’t. Yet I definitely miss the Megan that’s not a middling bore.

My mom has always said that I find the most difficult ways to get things done. I never do set out to behave that way, but perhaps there’s a part of me that knows that I’ll like myself best if I’m challenged—because when totally challenged, I’m totally awesome—so I follow a series of choices that leave me doing things the hard way.

When I was going through the roughest parts of losing Jim, so many people told me I was inspiring. I hated that. Often my family heard me whine that I didn't want to inspire people. I wanted naught more than to be able to wash my hair and to try to not wish I was dead. However, just by doing those things with marginal success, I came off as such an inspiration! Gross. I wasn't interested inspiring anyone. Well, except myself. I think I did want to inspire me. 

Perhaps the most dangerous thing for me to do is to say—or write—aloud that my life is too easy for me to like me. What a great way to chum the waters of tribulation, eh? In the first week of grad school, I mentioned that my life was too uneventful to have anything to write about. Then my husband had an affair and I got a divorce. Less than a week before Jim was killed I blogged that our life was so much fun that it seemed as if he had a terminal disease, like we were cramming in all the best parts before it was too late. Then he died. I’m not asking for hardship. I want Jason to keep loving me. I want my body to function. I want my family healthy. But because I’m greedy, I also want to figure out how to admire myself through the adversity of calm.

No, of course not everything is peachy. I’m a human being, so I have regular challenges like everyone else; I even complain about mine more than everyone else does. I have emotional scarring. I have brain and body baggage aplenty. But without a significant trial winding me up, I’m having a hell of a time figuring out where to direct my store of designated mustering energy. In me somewhere is a supply of latent excellence that no tragedy is requiring me to tap, and so I'm unnecessarily lingering in a state of mediocrity. It seems I'm doing this by choice! I know I have the capacity to be remarkable, and I'm just electing to, well, not. 

So what lesson is there to learn here? I really ask that garbage. Just like I really do try to make my yoga practice useful off of my mat by inquiring of myself if the things I do are intentional. Am I living on purpose? I’m 37 years old next month and I feel like it’s time to intentionally push myself rather than be pushed by circumstance or outside force. But in what direction? And in what way? Oh, I haven’t a bleeding clue.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


If it’s true that you can judge someone by the people that populate their life, I’m the most terrific person in human history. I told Jason that before I took him to meet my family he needed to be certain that he was in love with me because once he met them he’d never want to let me go. My friends and family are the good thing about me.

Today, I will have been a widow for two years, and while it was the worst happening of my life, that event served as kickoff for two years of overwhelming kindnesses.

I called my parents from the RV park where Jim’s plane went down, and they were in the car within minutes, driving the nine hours from Elk Ridge, Utah, to my house. Supportive is their norm, so at 3:30AM on August 31, they found me tear-drenched in a bed I no longer shared, and at 5:30AM, my dad accompanied me and Dustin to Victory Woodworks to meet with Jim’s employees. In my family, being available to each other is a top-down thing. I don’t know who all took their offspring, but my sissies dropped everything and rushed here too, even Mal from Denmark.

My mom says our family is kind of like the mob. When you’re in, you’re made, but if just one sister decides you’re out, a couple of us will watch everyone's kids so the others can team up to maim and off you. My first husband is an example. When I brought him into the family, everyone accepted and loved him. They supported our marriage right up until the second I informed them we were done with that cheating idiot stick. Immediate pariah. The virulence they felt and spewed at him was inevitable once they were given direction.

Just missing Whit. The Sixchix are incomplete without her.
The fam came to town again this last weekend. To ease the weight of anticipating today, I threw a big party Saturday to celebrate Jim, and my team came in full-force. At the end of the night, one of the catering staff told me, “Next year we need more vegetables. We’ve got some chicken left, but we ran out of veggies.” I laughed and told her that every other person at the party was either a yoga teacher or yoga student, and those people tend to do vegetables in a big way.

So many of the best things in my life have come by way of yoga. Yes, perspective, physical health, a marriage proposal, and a job I love, but it’s the yoga people that bowl me over. My bosses, my students, my fellow teachers—they’re my best friends.

I got Cameron from yoga. We started as students together. Now we teach together.

Three days after Jim died—and you guys, I still can’t consider this particular anecdote without crying—Cameron came over, and in part of some conversation, he mentioned that he hadn’t slept or eaten for three days. Stupid as shit and concerned for him, I asked why. He looked at me like, “Hey dummy, it’s all this.” He wasn’t messed up because he lost Jim. He was messed up because I did. Over these last two years, he’s listened when I need to talk, usually while at the gym lifting heavy things, and he’s lightened the mood in a way absolutely no one else can.

I got Jason from yoga. He was my student. Now he’s my boyfriend.

He might not appreciate my discussing this, but I want that man to get more credit than he does. Being with me is really damn hard. Yes, because of who I am, but also because of Jim. Jason makes it look easier than I know it is, and he makes it look easy for my sake. He has never pushed me to leave Jim behind, and it’s not because it’s painless or he doesn’t care. He cares a lot, and I suspect it hurts. Yet I believe that he cares more about my progress being genuine than he cares about his own comfort regarding my late husband. I think he believes in us enough to do hard things, and I think it means that for Jason our relationship can feel like a steep but pretty hike with a sharp rock in your boot. In his situation, I wouldn’t be selfless, patient, or resolute enough to deal like he does.

No one in my life forgets about Jim or our relationship. That’s important to me, but it’s becoming even more meaningful that my people encourage headway. It’s easy to pigeonhole a widow. You are a sad thing. I tell you that I want you to be happy, but glimpsing you doing well actually makes me uncomfortable, so stay sad, mmmkay? Fortunately, that hasn’t been my own experience. My people are the best ones, so they coddle me when I need it, they welcome not just Jason the person, but the concept of him as my someone, they listen to my same stories about a dead guy, and they hold Jim’s memory close, even when the memory isn’t their own. Hell, Hilary never met Jim, but on his birthday she made lemon cake, his favorite.

Who just does that type of thing? My people. I can take today, the two-year anniversary, as something to be sad about, or I can take this day to be more of what I already am: grateful. Grateful for the memories. Grateful for where I am now. Grateful for my people. Jim was cream of the crop, and from him on, I made that the only kind I keep.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


I want to paint you a picture of a man. As I’ve written him on this space, Jason hasn’t been able to be much more than the guy that bravely dates a widow. It’s wrong. That isn’t the way we live. To him, I’m not widow first, girlfriend second, and to me, I’m not Jim’s wife first, Jason’s girlfriend second. That is the chronology but not the right way to think about a relationship. Sure, our past relationships shade the one we have now, but we are us by ourselves—Jason and Megan. We’ve been together for about a year, and it occurs to me that you haven’t really met my boyfriend.

Jason is exactly what you see. He doesn’t fake or posture and is as real as one can get. His filter is faulty but that leaves him honest and plain.

I teach some hot yoga, and my classes are hard, often harder than they need to be. (Sorry. Sort of.) I’ve had lots of students suffer through my classes with pretty specific ire pointed at right their teacher. It resolves afterward, but while they’re sweating and struggling through another Warrior 3, they hate my guts. I’ve been that student a lot; I know how it feels, and we all suffer quietly. Not Jason though. He is the first student I’ve ever had flip me off in class. He’s the only student who, after I asked how his first hot class went, replied, Screw you. (But more, say, colorfully than that.) At that point, we’d only met a couple times. Evidently something in those frank and impolite exchanges worked for me, because four months later we started dating.

While he rebelled in a way that you’d think he hated hot class, that stuff’s right up Jason’s alley. He goes looking for opportunities to push his physical limits. He doesn’t hunt from a truck or go running when the sun is low. He hunts on foot in the snow and goes for a run during the hottest part of the day. He’s rugged and wants everything tougher.

That includes our relationship. I think he likes the challenge of being with me. Not the widow stuff specifically—he really just sees that as part of the Megan package—but the challenge of dealing with my quick extremes, rash decisions, and too-impassioned approach to basically all the things. I’ve asked him, “Why me? Why are you with me?” His response with the most resonance: “For a psychopath like me, you’re perfect.” I’m not easy—ahem—but in our time together, we find ease.

I may be the yoga teacher, but he schools me in stillness and how to settle down. He moves more deliberately than I do, and he is patient. I do not enjoy watching sports. I enjoy watching sports with Jason. He lets me ask as many questions as I want, and, even better, knows the answers. I mean, all the answers. It’s caused me to inquire if his day job is not, in fact, doing lawyer things, but instead immersing in obscure sports trivia.

Jason doesn’t talk as much as I want him to. Getting to know him has been a dogged excise in crafting questions that will get me his answers. I’m getting good at knowing him better but not as good as he is at knowing me. In his talking less, he listens more, and Jason’s memory is flawless. Along with that, he consistently hears more than I’m saying, treating his relationship with me a lot like scouting for big game. When looking for deer, Jason will sit and watch for hours, patiently accumulating information that often ends with an arrow through someone’s heart. He’s like that with me, too. He listens, observes, adds up, and despite what he’s learned, lets me live and still wants to be with me.

He only hunts with a bow, and that means we can work as a couple. I don’t so much respect rifle hunting. I know hunting with any weapon is hard and takes skill, but the bearing and specific skills required to kill big things with an arrow—and the shit he’s offed is huge—compels me. It requires persistence, a special patience, creativity, humility, optimism, and physical fortitude.

The truest way to describe how I feel about Jason’s physical strength is to call it hot. It’s hot. It contributes to his indisputable masculinity that I find irresistibly attractive. I like that from the breadth of his shoulders, to his growly voice, to the gray whiskers, and the way he stands, Jason perfectly fills the physical portrait of a Man. He tempers that could-be-stereotypical masculinity with an enthusiasm for apparel, a consistent yoga practice, and a tenderness for his kids that he often tries to hide and with no success at all.

Jason is a dad of just daughters. My dad has only girls. Those men are different from the ones that also have sons. They’re a bit mushier inside. I like that Jason enjoys his daughters’ individuality, and in the way he listens to me, he listens to them. Without saying so aloud, he delights in knowing his two girls as people not just charges.

His heart is good. His skin is thick. He’s handsome. He’s sarcastic and too irreverent. He’s canny and sharp. He wants to make me happy. He ought to know he does.

There. You’ve met my Jason.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


I am 15 pounds heavier than I was four years ago today. I acquired five pounds of happy, five pounds of sad, and five pounds of muscles.

The five pounds of happy came from being in love with Jim. You know, too much fun and you find yourself wondering why these jeans feel a little bit different. Then you’re honest with yourself and come to terms with the truth that all the carefree dessert eating that came from being in love with being in love translated to five more on the scale and thighs that are even more resistant to your efforts to slide them into bottoms that don’t have at least 3% elastane.

The five pounds of sad came after Jim died. It was all ice cream. It started with ice cream—when Jim’s mom called and told me there was a plane crash to go investigate, I’d just finished my second Drumstick in. a. row.—and it continued with ice cream: me nestled in the corner of the couch, crying, watching The Great British Bake Show over and over and over, routinely wandering over to the ice cream drawer for another Haagen-Dazs something while my supportive mom looked on.

The five pounds of muscle is Cameron’s fault. He let me come to the gym with him to help me be less pathetic and lump-like. And now we do it all the time. We whimper on the floor while doing weighted bridges to build muscle I don’t want that make jeans almost out of the question.

Why would I know exactly what I weighed exactly four years ago? Four years ago today I married Jim. I had a goal wedding weight, and I hit it exactly. So I remember that. And when it comes to considering May 15th, I think I might be focusing on that weight information in order to not so much focus on the fact that it is my wedding anniversary with a man I loved who has been dead coming up on two years in August.

Two years.

You’re so weirded out by that, huh? “I can’t believe it’s been almost two years, Megan!” is what you just thought. I feel you. It’s weird as hell.

So what’s it like nearly two years in?

Normal. It’s like this, not a single day goes by that I don’t think of Jim many times throughout the day. It happens when I see his photos in the house, and, yes, when I see his clothes still in the closet, with coordinating socks that I clipped to his shirts so that he wouldn’t have to put in effort to match stuff and wouldn’t come downstairs in the morning in pink argyle socks with a maroon plaid shirt. That happened, and I love it so much. I love so much that when he sat down at the counter and I saw how his ensemble “matched,” and said, “Oh, nope. Gotta go change,” he was humble enough to go do it. He knew clothes weren’t his thing, but he didn’t want to look like an idiot. He trusted me. Even though taking off his shoes and putting them back on was one of his most hated things—the primary reason he got pre-check at the airport was so that he wouldn’t have to untie and retie his Ugg chukka boots—he went back upstairs to change his socks. I still can’t figure out why he didn’t just change the shirt.

I think of memories like that. I remember his preferences. I try to trust like he did. I try to only care about the stuff that matters. And I do sad things like listen to a sweet message from my sister and think, “I gotta save that for when she dies soon so I have it to remember her at her best.” I’m ruined. But maybe in a goodish way.

A close-to-you death kind of screws you up like that. I make mental notes about people that go something like, “Oh I have to write that down so that I have that memory when they die soon.” And when I leave my house, I make sure it's put together in such a way that it won't be too bad for my family to clean out my closet if I die while I'm gone. I make sure the impression I leave is an accurate one: I'm tidy but weird. I think about death often, and I’m not at all scared of it anymore. 

Constantly, and I really mean constantly, I think of how my widowhood must affect my boyfriend. Hopefully it’s less over time, and I think it is, but I know he knows that my last marriage isn’t like the first one where I felt relief with termination. My last marriage ended on a helluva high note. I know Jason knows that I’m solidly in love with him, and not just for now, but I also know that he knows I was in love with Jim. How do I, how do we, navigate that? Me: probably inelegantly. Jason: ever like a champ.

Jim and I weren’t together long enough for our wedding anniversary to sting too hard. This would have been our fourth. I imagine that May 15 will eventually fizzle to a pang of loss rather than a punch in the chest. It’s the actual anniversary of his death that I see as The Big Date that I can’t turn away from.

For now though, at this anniversary, I’m grumpy, not really a pleasure to deal with, fatigued, and just ready for tomorrow.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Yoga Pod, one of the studios where I teach, has been using February do an 18-classes-in-28-days challenge. When I told Jason that in the 19 days it took him to take 18 classes, I took only three, he responded, “But how many did you teach?”

“Well, 30.”

Thirty. I wasn’t kidding. I even counted afterward to make sure. I’m grateful that I spent a decade taking a bunch of yoga before I decided to learn to teach, because right now I ain’t got time to take shit. I need more yoga. Teaching doesn’t count. I’m working through it.

This story serves two purposes. I’m bragging on behalf of Jason ‘cause there’s no way he’ll do it himself, and I’m explaining why I haven’t blogged in more than four months. I’ve been busy. And, well, also, I’ve been unsure of how to write about where I’m at or even figure that out for myself.

When I think of using metaphors, I think of ‘em being helpful in explaining things to someone else so that they can better understand what I’m feeling or trying to say. Lately, however, I’ve been using metaphors to try to explain my own feelings to myself.

Here’s one: After a person goes through significant weight loss, it sometimes happens that they don’t get new clothes right away. Their old clothes clearly don’t fit, but instead of getting new stuff to wear, they punch another hole in an old belt and cinch it tighter. It seems they’re accustomed to their old clothes and unaccustomed to a body that doesn’t fill those clothes. So they linger in an awkward stage of in-between, not wanting to be big enough to fill the old clothes and unsure of how to shed the extra material to embrace a different body.

Emotionally, I’ve been feeling like that. Grief was weight, as physical a weight as I’ve ever felt dropping onto my little soul, but it weighs less now; its mass is more manageable. Grief is even a companion that educates me and often morphs into gratitude. I’m trying to find the guts to let myself have a new wardrobe that fits rather than remaining in the garb of a different set of feelings.

That transition involves guilt. It involves fear. I don’t know if I’ll ever lose the guilt associated with forward movement after losing Jim. I do know that getting mired in guilt is counterproductive. Immobility doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t serve me or anyone I love. And I think my fear in embracing a life less grief-laden has to do with the unknown. I know what sad feels like, and while it may not be pleasant, I still know it, and that’s not scary.

Here’s the thing though: sad doesn’t fit anymore. Perhaps by way of all that yoga junk, I’m getting better at living where I’m at. Where I am right now, is—quite honestly—happy. I blame Jason.

I love having a someone to care for. I didn’t always. The evolution of my love life—cheated on in a mediocre marriage, divorced, in love, married again, happy, widowed, dating again, in love, happy—has happened so fast (all in under 5 years) that it’s easy to remember my feelings during each phase and compare them to other sections. I blew my first marriage. I wasn’t good at it because I didn’t care. That apathy contributed to a union that was weak enough to fracture. And thank heaven. It led me to Jim. Since I’d so recently reaped the fruits of dispassion in a marriage, and I hate failing, I decided that with Jim I was going to crush wifehood. I did. It made me crazy happy. Jim felt loved. I felt loved. We were in love. It was work, but it was work that we liked doing.

Then that work came to an abrupt end. I lost my one someone to serve. Well, damn. So that was just another phase?

But then . . . But then . . . Jason. Handsome, intelligent, observant, understanding, coarse Jason. Falling in love with him was unavoidable. We match. Thank heaven again. I get to have a someone to love and do for and care for, which, as I’ve already discovered, can’t help but bring me joy.

Each taste of joy is unique. The happiness I experience now does have a bit of a frantic undercurrent. There are moments where I feel like Jason and I have to do all the things and have all the experiences right now because he might die. It’s morbid, but it’s the baggage I bring. When I don’t hear from him for a while I start fretting. I know statistics say that my boyfriend isn’t going to die so soon after I’ve lost my husband, but statistics were supposedly on my side when Jim’s best friend died four months before him; that should have ensured that Jim was around for a long time. Best friends don’t die from such different causes so close together. Oh, but yes they do. Thus my unreasonable freak outs when Jason doesn’t text me back immediately because I assume he’s dead actually verge on reasonable. So that part sucks.

I’ve been concerned that I’m wrapping myself up in another person and so the happiness I feel can’t be authentic. I’ve worried about that a lot. Could it be that my infatuation with Jim left me sadder at his death than I’d have been if I’d loved him less? Maybe. But I’ll take the weight of the pain I’ve experienced for what I enjoyed with Jim. Is it bad though? Is finding so much contentment and happiness in a relationship with another human dangerous or wrong? Again, maybe. But unfortunately, that’s living.

Living well can be messy and doesn’t come without risk. I’m knee-deep in risk here and wading in deeper, because I love being in love with Jason, and he is worth every bit of care and attention I can give him. So much more, even.

Okay, but am I making myself into someone whose only satisfaction derives from obsession with someone else? Those people are irritating. No, I’m not that. I know that I can experience joy in giving my all to love and intimacy, so I am, and I’m still me. I like me. I irritate me. I get disappointed with me. I also know me. I’m tough, multifaceted, oriented toward improvement, and bright. My efforts to craft a killer relationship with Jason amplify those traits I’m proud of, making me a better me and giving Jason the best Megan I can muster. So I chuck myself headlong into the experience, knowing as well as anyone that there is risk for pain and the size of the pain could be amplified by the size of the love. Oh well. Worth it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


His name is Jason. My mom asked me what I like about him. “He is handsome. He likes me. He teaches me things. He is handsome. He laughs loud. He’s smarter than me. But perhaps most of all, I like how he handles my struggle. He respects Jim. He helps me.” That says so much about who Jason is. A badass, really. Again, tell me what kind of a person does it take to be able date a mourning widow and to endure the spontaneous tears and fond reminiscence of another man and not only power through that but be a comfort? 

It takes nothing short of remarkable.

I never intended to date. I’ve said that a lot. I meant it every time. But had I set out to do so I wouldn’t have thought out the necessity of the man being someone who couldn’t merely handle hearing about Jim, but would ask questions about him and our family, take care of me when I go low, and tell me that he knows that the mourning isn’t going to stop, that it’s part of who I am, and he wants to be with me anyhow. Perhaps even because of it all. Because all of this further toughened me, and I guess that’s kind of appealing. (To a total lunatic.)

Who in the world would want to sign on for this? I’ve said I’m great—I even kind of mostly meant it—but could I possibly be that great? Even though he’s not shy about telling me why I’m a catch, I’m still baffled about why Jason wants anything to do with me. This. Isn’t. Easy. And it's weird.

A bit ago, I told a mutual friend that I’m seeing Jason. She knew Jim and me as a couple as well. At the time I was really struggling with being okay with dating. Was I dishonoring Jim’s memory? My friend’s response was comforting, “If Jim could have hand-picked anyone for you, it would have been Jason.”

He is a yoga student. Obviously that’s how we met. (Like I was going to meet someone any other way.) Jason is also a bowhunter. My boyfriend kills big shit and does it well. I’m a vegetarian. He likes whiskey. I’m a teetotaler. When it comes to the outside stuff, the stuff that doesn’t matter (say, meat vs. no meat, alcohol vs. none, and elective interaction with the outdoors vs. an outright aversion to Outside), we have no business working as a couple. When it comes to the inside stuff, the stuff that matters (values, respect, fun, support, and attraction), he’s given me a companionship that results in stuff I didn’t know I could have again: respite, contentment, and even something like—gasp!—Happy. 

I never asked what I did to deserve Jim dying. I don’t think that way. I have thought plenty about people I wish would have died instead of him, but I don’t remember asking, “Why me?” It just never seemed productive. I have asked what in the world could I have done to deserve having Jim at all. How could I have been so lucky to be his wife and enjoy the amazing life we had together? And now here, despite the horror of incredible love lost, I again find myself in good fortune. 

Truthfully, I’ve been in good fortune this whole time. I’ve known it too. I’ve said so. The amount of support my friends and family give me is more than I’ve known what to do with. They love me. They love the kids. They loved Jim. Of course, love him still. But for there to be someone new in my life giving me support purely on the merit of who I am now, not for who I was before Jim died or out of love for my late husband, is the kind of good fortune I don’t really know how to react to. 

So I’m not going to try to understand it. I don’t have the brain power for that. More significantly, it could be that I don’t need to understand; I just maybe need to enjoy and be enjoyed. I’m unendingly appreciative of—and astonished about, really—Jason’s fortitude regarding the shit I’m in. He eases the heaviness. I get to be comfortable about letting myself keep grieving, and I get to enjoy the privilege of a singular someone to go out with, to stay in with, to try new things with, and to just sit. I might think Jason’s crazy. I might even routinely try to talk him out of being with me. But mights aside, I know I’m again—I’m still—lucky.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Imagine dating a woman who often cries about missing another man. What type of a person does it take to be able to endure that, let alone console when it happens? I have to say that kind of respect, resilience, and patience is really compelling. But I hate the idea of putting someone that extraordinary through the struggle of being with me.

However, I’ve realized that Jim taught me how to be a great partner. I wasn’t interested in developing that skill in my first marriage. I didn’t care enough to do the work, and I didn’t love my first husband in a way that compelled me to learn to love deeper through service. But I loved Jim. I love him. I wanted to make him feel as loved as he deserved. I wanted to be the kind of partner to him that he was to me. And I did it. I’m proud of how well I loved him. I learned how to be one hell of a wife.

So I have to ask myself, did I learn how to be a partner that’s worth someone putting up with the massive trial of dating a mourning widow?

You can’t just wait that out forever, you know. When will I not be mourning? Oh, that’s easy—Never. I won’t ever not miss Jim. I won’t ever fall out of love. Our halt happened at a high point, and really that has a disturbing beauty to it. There weren’t dirty secrets or regrets or loose ends. There was just life lived all the way and more happiness than I thought a single soul could bear. So it leaves me in love forever.

Which, though incredible, isn’t enough.

Dustin got married last month and I traveled to the wedding solo. As I walked through the Reno airport I thought over and over, “Alone . . . I’m alone . . . This is bullshit.” Alone just isn’t fair. How could I—how could anyone—expect me to be stuck all by myself? Like I’ve said before, I can do that. I’m good at alone. But for it to be a forced solitude? Therein lies the bullshit. I’m independent by upbringing and preference. I’m alone by way of horrid circumstance. I fret and fret that Jim’s friends and family will hate me and cut me off if there is another man in my life. I feel like they might think that I don’t miss Jim or honor his memory. That would be wrong. He is always there. He will always be there. It doesn’t matter who I see or who I’m with, Jim is part of me. I love his kids completely, and they’ve become part of me too.

My late husband improved me in way that would be unfair to keep to myself. Jim hated wasted potential and skill. Would he want me to waste me? I’ve come to a place where I’m certain he wouldn’t. Is it dishonorable to take the skills I got from loving Jim and apply them to a new relationship? I’ve struggled with that a lot. But I know the answer’s no.

“Jim would want you to be happy.” Yes. I believe it. He would want that for all his people in the way that suits us each best. But I also don’t know if full-tilt happy is even in me anymore. I can laugh loud. I can be useful. But it all ends up colored with despair or concern. I’m either dealing with the drench of sorrow, or I’m worried that if I don’t look the right amount of sad the other people who love Jim will think I’ve moved on.

That’s not a thing though. I can’t move on. That means leaving him behind, which I will never do. Yet I can move forward and take steps where he comes with me. Those steps forward involve a lot of walking into the dark without a light. So I think as I take those tottery steps I’d like to be allowed a strong hand to hold.

You're looking at my left-side ribs. Tattoo's real and the only one I have. It wasn't even a week after Jim died that I knew I wanted it and getting the thing was how I celebrated our anniversary in May. 
Being with me isn’t an easy task that’s for sure. It wasn’t easy for Jim—think “smart, beautiful, and difficult”— and it’s worse since he’s gone, but I’d like to think I’m worthy of a shot and worth all that effort. Okay, I actually have it on good authority that I am. Giving another guy a try in my current state is weird. I certainly didn’t set out to do it, but I stumbled onto a terrific something—a someone—and experiencing care and laughter and a sense of light in this kind of relationship is an astounding relief. I’ve tried on a new pair of shoes, and while I’m gonna be wobbly as hell maybe forever, it feels so nice not to have to be barefoot.s

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Sometimes I can’t tell whether a particular struggle is widow-related or just regular old life. Then I realize that my regular old life includes the element of widowhood, and I can’t separate that out. And my life is so First World that all my problems are a direct result of Jim’s death. Really, all of them.

Before saying more I must make clear that I’m not struggling. Not regularly. There are the terrible days and the bummer days, but I’m plodding along decently. I’ve just got potholes to navigate.

When you lose a loved one people give you whatever they can as comfort; usually it’s the thing they’ve found most helpful for themselves. For lots that’s religion. So these caring folk offer you Jesus. Though that’s not my thing, I’ve taken whatever people gave—graciously, except that one time when I lashed out—because I appreciate the gift of care. 

People like the idea of seeing their lost person in heaven or thinking that the loved one’s waiting with family. There could be something terribly wrong with me, but I really don’t think about that stuff. I guess my yoga garbage has gotten in deep enough where I take seriously the living-for-now B.S. I ignore Later, since Now is what I actually have to work with. Now isn’t theory or hopes. It’s concrete, and I deal better with concrete.

That said, I’m having a tough time finding a point. For all of this. Not, like, a life purpose or understanding of God’s Plan, but just a point. What’s the point of cultivating relationships? Of following through? Of making the bed? I do all those things without whining and usually without wondering, but there are times where I pause in curiosity over what I’m doing.

With Jim I decided that what I wanted the point to be was to be happy. Love him hard. Serve him. Let it make me happy. It was the only point I needed. But then he was gone and there wasn’t any point anymore. 

I’m kinda stuck. This isn’t like a divorce where you buck up and go back to being yourself but a better version of yourself because—screw you!—I got this! For me that situation was about picking up pieces, reassembling, and being even more awesome. I succeeded. I think I don’t have the same pieces anymore though, and I certainly don’t have clear assembly instructions, so with this disaster I sit with my pieces pretty confused. 

When I was working on the design for Jim’s headstone I put our births and death date on there. Our death date. Really just as a place-filler for spacing purposes I made his death date my own. The gal at the masonry place told me they’re superstitious so maybe take it off the design. I told her 8.30.16 is when my soul died, so for now it stays.

Honestly though something in me did die. I’ve had nearly a year to come to that conclusion. I’m back to pretty damn functional. I have gained relationships that are vital. From the outside I think I come off as pretty healthy. And I am. Except the part that’s dead. I’m not at all certain what part of me that is.

It might be zest, verve, umph. That seems to be what’s missing from Me. I feel more solemn. I feel less fun. Sometimes I even feel mean and it comes out as acerbic. There’s a necrotic something inside me, and I can’t cut it out, because I don’t know where or what it is. I only know it’s there.

This can’t make much sense to you, which is perfect, because it doesn’t make sense to me either. I know what depression feels like. This is different. I struggle to engage with people. I have a hard time caring. I think I’m more reserved. I don’t enjoy it.

So where I land is that the thing that died is Jim. He became part of me. He made me starkly happy such that it showed on my face. Being with him planted Jim-branded joy square in my soul, and without it I became listless and nonsensical.

This makes me feel like I'm cheating the new people in my life. You don't know who I was, so you don't know the best me. But with fracture nothing heals exactly the same. It could look the same, but the structural integrity is compromised. I do know I don’t get to get back to normal. I’m to redefine. Trouble is that that new normal person I’m putting together seems like a lame replacement for what I felt I was before.

Do I be okay with that crummy new self? Or do I locate some gusto that isn’t there and craft a being worth being? I have no idea. That’s the stuck part. But here’s where I’m smart: I know that being stuck is part of it. It’s part of loss. It’s part of healing. It’s where I’m at. I don’t have to enjoy it but I do have to slog through. So slog I shall.

Monday, May 15, 2017


I’ve been dreading this day. It’s our third wedding anniversary. The dread is not knowing how I would feel. Would I wake into the sadness of my loss or would I be able to do what anniversaries are for, relive the euphoria I felt in becoming that man’s wife?

Coming up on the day, it turns out—and probably predictably so—I’m all the things. I’m sad. I’m happy. I’m weighted yet light. I’m pitiable but almost unbearably lucky. I had him, and we were the kind of happy that defies realism. I was left broken. I was left bettered.

Choosing to learn to love that man in his language was me closest to perfect. Dealing with my ex-husband’s infidelity and doing what I could to try to salvage that marriage showed me I’m made of grit to spare. But being Jim’s wife softened my edges and taught me there is power in making love a priority.

One of the many specific things I’ve cried over since Jim died is not having him to serve anymore. Doing for that man delighted me. I can still do for others, yes, and I do, but they're not, you know, my other. There’s something to having a someone, your own person, that human with whom you’ve got a pocket of solace and that intimate relationship where you get the most practice in cultivating a best self.

Well, great. I had that. Had. Now what the hell am I supposed to do? Just end? Megan, you peaked. All downhill from here. For the next, like, 45 years.

I like remembering me as Jim’s wife. He went too long in his life being the one making everyone else happy without being catered to himself. I felt like a superstar giving him so much of what he merited such that my love overwhelmed him.

What if the memory of feeling that way isn’t enough to sustain me as long as I want it to?

Since my memories are more precious now I feel that much more fortunate to have them. Since he’s gone and I don’t get to make more, I feel that much more lonely. I’ve always been resourceful though. I can fix that. But when I think of solving the kind of loneliness losing a spouse leaves I feel sick. The only solution to that one is to date, right? Oh gosh, ew.

I can’t. I couldn’t. I simply never would.

But shit, I’ve had eight months to learn that all the yoga and writing and shopping and travel and friends and family that I can handle can’t fill the void of having my own someone.

You don’t top Jim. It isn’t done. Jim was the top. A person perfect for me. The funniest (just ask him), friendliest, most generous, most memorable. The cutest. So the solution has to be that you don’t try, right? You don’t try to top him and what we had. So then what's left is to have nothing or to open yourself to the possibility of something altogether different.

Good grief, what does that even mean? And when would it not make me want to vomit?

In muddling through this unsavory quandary I came across an analogy that works. Shoes. Partners as shoes. In my first marriage I wore a pair of shoes that constantly gave me blisters. They were scuffed and when I tried to shine them it was half-hearted. I covered my feet with bandaids. The blisters didn’t heal. So I got rid of those shoes and was relieved to walk barefoot. Then I bumbled into Jim, the best pair of shoes I was never interested in looking for. Comfortable, supportive, good for all occasions. Irreplaceable. And then lost. So I’m barefoot again, and it sucks. I can walk without shoes forever, sure, but now knowing how it feels to love a pair of perfect shoes, barefoot forever's sounding bleak.

Jim made my heart tick quicker and, if I’m being honest and nauseating, with more meaning. Maybe there is another someone in my future that can make my heart beat something more than sad and much too steady for how nice I think it would be to just die already. I’m young enough and lonely enough to start to consider the possibility. I’m recently widowed enough to want to throw up thinking about it and hate myself for the disloyalty of having the thought.

But dammit he died. Jim died. My heart-holder, love, and favorite thing died and left me alone. I'm 35 years old.

I didn’t know what to expect on our wedding anniversary, and I certainly didn’t expect this, to feel the kind of loneliness that looks to be motivating me to consider the option of new shoes.

My mom reminded me the other day that one of the things Jim would go on about regarding his wife was how capable I am, how I’m good at whatever I do. Usually the things I do are a choice, but grief was thrown at me, and I’m kind of crushing that too. He would be proud of how I’m working through this. I still want to make him proud. I felt like he was something to live up to. His memory is still that. I’m Jim’s wife. It amplified my awesome, and I have that to take with me. Considering that my happiness was his first priority, I can’t imagine he’d want me to be holed up and lonely forever.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. You taught me to make happiness a valid life pursuit. A happy person is more useful, they make life around them easier. It’s what you did. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t surrender to have you back. But since that’s not a thing, I’ll make more relevant what you taught me and how you made me feel.

Happy isn’t selfish. Happy is correct. Happy was my Jim. Like usual I wonder, “What would Jim do?” He would live huge, have fun, and by way of serving his people he would acquire joy. And then my boy would share it like gangbusters.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


“How are you doing?”

I feel strange and pretty guilty when I reply, “Well, good . . . I’m doing good.”

It looks as if I’m no longer the weepy, fatalistic heap that I became at 6:06 PM on August 30th. Seems kind of right. But mostly wrong.

I wrote in my husband’s obituary that “the best way we can honor Jim's memory is in living happy and taking care of each other.” It’s taken me nearly eight months to even consider adopting what I wrote. I can do the “taking care of each other” part easy. I’m pretty good at caring for my people. But even though I wrote that it would be honoring Jim to live happy, actually following through on that has seemed more like dishonor.

If I laugh am I not giving Jim the mourning he deserves?

If I have fun does it look like I don’t miss my sweetheart?

If I go a week without crying, maybe even a month someday, am I forgetting him? Am I—gasp—moving on?

I’m a stickler for using the right words to say what I mean. So I am careful to specify that I’m working on moving forward. Never that I’m moving on.

Moving on sounds like I forget or brush him under a rug. Instead, moving forward means pocketing all my pieces of Jim so that they’re close and taking a step or two toward what’s next. Whatever the hell that is. I talk about him. I sigh at his photos. But I also think about permitting new stuff to enter my life. That has been hard. I still avoid watching new shows that I hadn’t before he died. TV series. Movies. Guys, I haven’t seen Rogue One. Me. There is a Star Wars movie I haven’t seen. I own it—thanks, Kay Kay—but I haven’t watched it. There are some strange stumbling blocks along my way “forward.” Evidently that is one.

I am proud of how I’ve grieved. I do it. I don’t pushed aside my sadness or avoid talking about the loss, even if my voice catches or my makeup runs. I can’t imagine not talking about Jim whenever I want. I wrote about him and talked about him constantly while he was alive (to the annoyance of pretty much all the people everywhere actually) and I don’t see a reason to stop even though he’s gone.

With that I think I’m left healthier than if I didn’t have a talent for emotional expression and a willingness to do it publicly. I feel that maybe I am even progressing toward acceptance faster than I’m comfortable with. Just eight months after my husband died should I really be ready to even consider the idea of someday seeking happiness? The only way I can stomach that consideration is by giving myself credit for immediately embracing grief and the recognition that I’m luckier than most in the constant support I have from family, friends, and people I didn't even know before Jim died.

I have always been bright, clever, funny, and useful. But Jim made me vibrant. I’ve felt like that vibrance died with him. However, you don’t live with Jim, gain so much, and at his passing just lose it all. His knowledge base was so different from my own. It awoke dormant curiosity. He loved to go, to do. It made me braver and even eager to try new things. He gave me more family—the kids, his sisters and parents, Victory Woodworks. It beefed up my team and left me more people to serve. I’d like to think what our love and marriage gave me is mine to keep. I just have to find the tools and gumption to dig it back up.

With Jim I was happier than anyone had ever seen me be before. He was his happiest too. That’s got to be one of the things that my family has had the hardest time with, that so many people have really. She was so happy! He was so happy! They were so happy together.

Is Happy still in me? If the qualities I gained or amplified in being Jim’s girl—curiosity, bravery, and a desire to live bigger and offer up my strength and spark to more people—still belong to me, shouldn’t at least the concept of absurd happiness also remain mine? I don’t know where I can find it or even if I will, but gradually I’m coming to a place where I can bear the idea of keeping an eye out for joy, of “living happy” and letting Jim’s memory be the thing that takes care of me.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


A few weeks ago there was an 18” bruise up the side of my right leg and pain in my back. A mean windstorm flipped our stupidly giant hammock over the top of my upper deck rail, I fought to stop the thing from totally wrecking a rain gutter, and I lost. There is a 3” dent in the drywall in my office because I have no business wielding a hammer of any sort.

Where I’m lucky is that at least 20 people read those things and thought, BUT I TOLD HER TO CALL ME IF SHE NEEDED ANY HELP AROUND THE HOUSE! I’m grateful that’s the case, but, honestly, like I’m going to do that. Why should my friends be inconvenienced when I want to hang things? Also, I’m not patient. If something needs doing, I’m not good at waiting for help. I’m going to plow ahead, do a horrible job, probably break something, and then take a humble pie in the kisser by way of paying a guy to fix the result of my impatience, ignorance, and arrogance.

I’ve always talked to myself when things are hard. You can do this. You can do this. Problem is, I’m generally wrong. But that’s what I whispered heading out to the garage this evening on the hunt for a stud finder. (Couldn’t find one. We have every other tool imaginable, but evidently Jim didn’t need to find studs; they found him.) When the tool chests came up dry I scanned the garage for more possibilites. I’d already been teary, searching through Jim’s stuff, but I didn’t actually lose it until my eyes landed on his nail bags. It wasn’t often that Jim donned bags to get my silly home decor tasks done, but when he did it was about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. He loved me for how capable I am, and man I loved that about him too. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. My husband liked that about himself. When hanging shelves or mirrors or doing whatever strange thing I dreamed up for him—Can you please suspend this painting from our slanted ceiling using eye hooks and rope?—he’d be about halfway through and say, “I’m really talented at this stuff.”

Heart eyes. Eyes spewing a shit-ton of hearts.

It’s just about every day that I’m grateful I cupped Jim’s face to kiss him. It’s not only my lips that remember his face but my hands can too. Sometimes I bring my hands up and reach out like I can hold his face in front me. My fingers don’t find anything, but I have to make sure my arms remember the height difference between us and my hands don’t forget the width of his face and feel of his whiskers.

We hit seven months last week. Another dumb marker. And one that makes conversation kind of harder. “My husband died.” Sad eyes and sympathy accompany, “How long ago?” “Seven months now.” And then faces lift a touch—I don’t have to be too, too sorry for her now; phew—and sad eyes shift into a look that reads something like, Oh, so you’re pretty much fine now, right? No. Not how it works. And even though I appreciate that you try, you can’t understand. I’m happy for you; being able to understand what this feels like means you’ve been through it, and that’s awful. There are very few people on whom I wish Awful.

I look pretty normal. I act pretty normal. I pat myself on the back—I’m a yogi; I can actually do that, pat myself on the back—when I consider that my new students can't guess that my insides are wrecked. I’m just the really, really encouraging teacher who gives her all to trying to curse less in class and manages to laugh off moments where she biffs it out of an arm balance in front of 20 attentive adults. I am pulling this off like a champ.

I recently saw my dentist for the first time since losing Jim. She gave me the inevitable sad eyes and said, “You were so happy.” I’ve gotten good at accepting sad eyes without crying in response, but her words did me in.

“We were,” I replied, “So, so happy.” She and I talked about how great things had been and how I have piles of amazing memories that make me smile and get me through the days. In remembering Jim, nine times out of 10 I laugh instead of cry.

“But, really how are you doing?”

After a pause I said, “Well, I’m good at this. I know it sounds weird, but I’m pretty good at alone and I don’t deny myself grief. I can’t. I love him too much. So while I’m not doing good per se, I am doing good at this.

It’s weird though. While I’ve pretty well ditched shame regarding public crying, I am having a hard time figuring out how to talk about Jim without making people too uncomfortable.

I was talking with a gum-loving student after class the other night and told him about the time that Jim was chewing gum in one of Tanya’s yoga classes and she walked over, put out her hand, and he spat his gum into it. “One of my favorite memories,” I said. And then I looked away and quickly pushed the conversation another direction. Because when you say “memories” it implies that something is done. But why? Why’s it done? Not because you got a divorce; you don’t usually talk about favorite memories when you’ve gotten divorced, right? And if not a divorce, well, what is it? Yeah, a death. So then you have to go there. And while I love talking about my husband, I’m more socially adept than that. People don’t know what to do and I just end up apologizing for telling them about my situation.

I was at a doctor’s office a couple weeks ago and a nurse asked about the double strand necklace I wear. “What’s engraved on that second pendant?” she asked, “The thing that starts with N?”

“You’re so bummed you just asked about that,” I said.

“Oh, I’m sorry. If you don’t want to talk about it—”

“No, I do,” I told her, “It’s why I wear it, but you’ll be sad you asked. The top pendant has my husband’s initials, JSE, and that number—N985CA—on the bottom pendant, it’s the tail number from the plane that crashed and killed my husband.”

And then shit gets all awkward. Killed. My. Husband.

“Oh I’m so sorry.” “I know. Thanks . . . ” And so on.

My friend Liz who also lost her husband gave me an analogy that stuck. This widowing thing is like learning to live with a limp. Initially, it's everything. The pain that causes you to limp is your world. And then you learn to live with your new escorts, Discomfort and Difficulty. It might look unwieldy, but that's just your new way to walk. I limp now. Depending on the moment my limp is more or less pronounced. It might not make me stall at crosswalks anymore, but it's there, and figuring out how to maneuver around the change and craft a new normal is the task at hand.