Category Archives: finding love after loss

The Day I Didn’t Think of Chad

“She agreed with all her heart, but couldn’t understand why at the very moment she said yes, Noah’s face came to her mind.”

I’ve thought of The Notebook’s engagement scene so many times since Chad died. Chad (Noah) was my first big love and so often without warning, he comes into my mind; especially with big occasions. So I figured whenever the time came, a proposal wouldn’t be any different.

Then, the day I wondered about happened without warning – Brad asked me to marry him.

Looking down at Brad on one knee, his zombie princess daughter beside us, surprise, love and adrenaline surged through me. I saw nothing but Brad and Madison in front of me for minutes.

Later, we kissed Madi goodnight as she bounced into her Mom’s car and Brad and I walked tightly, hand-in-hand back to our car. Then, I did a full body check in.

Do I feel different? What does this mean? How does this change things?!…Where was Chad?

Chad wasn’t there!

I smiled quietly – so happy not to have thought of him. On no uncontrolled, sub-conscious level did I think of Chad, eliminating the need to later consciously brush it from my mind.

For me, not having Chad come into my mind meant that on all levels, my love for Brad is pure. It’s pure and not conditional. This love is not based on our circumstances or lives before us. This isn’t second best. This, is it.

Thank you for that space Chad. That was a great gift to give.

Megan & Brad at 65_RedRoses

The day I met Brenda Lee Free.

I wrote this blog a year ago – and for a bunch of “I got busy” reasons, I never published it. But today,  I’ve come back to it, thinking about a last year and the moment I met Brenda Lee Free.

I don’t remember how I found her on Twitter, but @BrendaLeeFree was tweeting about the book she was about to release – near the time Our Interrupted Fairy Tale was scheduled to be launched.

A few friendly, yet distant exchanges, I clicked over to her webpage. I learned a little more about her book – and a little more about her love story.  Ebb From The Shoreline was a story about her and her husband Kevin – their courtship and the weeks leading up to Kevin’s passing. Another young, super studly Canadian guy, succumbing to one of the rarest cancers in the world.

I have been following Brenda’s book/life journey for over a year – last fall, while doing a signing in hot and sunny Toronto, Brenda Lee walked into Chapters.

While she photographs well, she is prettier in real life – and I recognized her the moment she walked up to my table. I’ve never really met anyone online that I felt connected to so quickly. A big hug, less than 30 seconds of small talk and we got right down to it.

Megan Williams & Brenda Lee Free, author of Ebb from the Shoreline

We spent the first ten minutes talking about our books, how they are doing and any tips we can offer the other. The remaining 20 minutes were spent going back and forth with blunt, honest, and genuine questioning as if we had been friends for the past four years.

How hard has it been writing about your person?

What does your new husband/boyfriend think about it?

What do your inlaws think of the book?

How did you get over the “hump” of feeling like you’re marketing a story that is about your life?

Do you still dream of him?

For someone I’d never met, from somewhere I’ve never heard of Pennsylvania, we seem to live somewhat parallel lives – and I could have talked to BLF for the whole day.

Before we parted ways, I offered to send her home with a book. Her cat shaped, blue eyes looked at me with the same semi-apologetic expression I would have given her if she would have asked me the same question, “No thanks. I’m not going to read it.”

I knew exactly what she meant and took no offense. No matter how similar our paths have been, how similar our hurt and loss has felt – neither of us were interested in reading about it. We get it – and neither of us care to take on another love and love-lost story.

I think that was the best part for me. Knowing that there is someone out there, someone I might never see again (but hope to), who knows what it  felt like, and what it feels like now.

And with that little piece of freeing knowledge, I feel a little recharged, feel a little less guilty, and I’m so thankful that this little book has lead me to something as great as meeting Brenda Lee.

*******

Today marks the seventh year since Kevin’s passing. And BLF – I don’t know how you’ll spend today nor do I know exactly how you’re feeling, but I want you to know that there is another girl, a timezone and country away that gets how sad, weird and warped a day like today feels. xo

 

Book #2

I have been talking about it quietly with a few friends for nearly a year now.  I’ve kept it quiet, because I haven’t been sure if I’ve wanted to do it – and mostly out of fear.

I don’t know if it will be good enough, I don’t know if it will be interesting, or as well received as the first book. I don’t know if it will ever get read by anyone, or if it will ever be printed for anyone to open it’s cover and leave on their bookshelf.  But – I won’t know until I try.  And I’d rather that unknown than any of my other uncertain questions.

So here it goes….It’s started and I’m going for it.

Book#2 - Announcement

 

 

Not just another morning run.

I wanted it badly and I’ve been working to get it – and yesterday, I did! A nice, new, shiny Personal Best to feel good about.

1:33 – down from my last half marathon time of 1:37.

And it’s these three I’ve got to thank for it.

SuperKRun

SuperKRun: Karyn, Kevin, Megan & Michael – VanFirstHalf 2015

Kevin – I do not exaggerate when I say, he’s the the best coach I’ve ever had in any sport. I don’t need to elaborate on why, because it’s just an is.

Michael – he got me through the last three miles (5km’s), shaved off an extra two minutes from my finish line time and distracted me enough to stop me from crying.

Karyn, who has run along side of me since Chad was in the hospital for his bone marrow transplant – all the way to the last three miles of yesterdays race. She’s kept me on pace on our runs, and in my life.

(Please note: while we would like to think we looked this happy at the end of the race as we did here in the first mile, we did not. At all.)

Karyn Mitchell, Megan Williams at the Van First Half

I can get all emotional when I yammer on about what running has done for me, but I think Lisa captured it best in our interview last week.

“…for a brief moment, when you are breathing so hard, focused on completing the workout, only honesty can come out.”

Body Zone Fitness interview with Megan Williams

(And thanks Lisa, for getting me to articulate what is more than just “another morning run.” )

Gotta run!

Family Day

I often get asked about how my relationship with Brad’s little one is. The short answer is – she’s awesome, I love her, and our house feels like it’s missing something when she’s not with us.

The natural follow up to that question is, “How’s the relationship with her Mom?”

There isn’t as concise an answer to that question – but I do know we’ve got something special. It’s been five years since Lisa and I first met – and like most relationships, this one has taken patience, consideration and thoughtfulness from everyone involved to make it work.

While we’ve spent Madi’s birthdays parties together and cheered from the softball sidelines – Lisa and I haven’t had any one-on-one time – until Thursday. When Lisa messaged to see if I’d be interested in being interviewed for her fitness/wellness blog, my answer was immediately yes. 

So to kick start the BC Family Day Long weekend, I sat with Lisa on her comfy couch and chatted. We giggled so much, we nearly ran out of time to discuss what I was really there for. And after our interview was done, it was confirmed – I’ll take my family the same way I take my margaritas – sweet, strong and blended.

Lisa Reaveley, Megan Williams

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I look forward to sharing Body Zone Fitness’s Blog with you later this week, but in the meantime, take a look at their #BZFSelfLove Campaign on Instagram!

Body Zone Fitness Instgram

Who is that guy? 10 things to know about Brad.

For those who have been following this blog since the beginning – you’ll already know this.

But for those who have taken the odd peak, just picked up a copy of Our Interrupted Fairy Tale or stumbled across my Instagram/Twitter, just because I have a few cool Whistler photos – this might answer some of the questions I’ve been getting.

“Have you met someone since Chad?”

“Who’s that guy in some of your photos?” 

In short – yes. His name is Brad.

1)     He’s the only “other guy” in  Our Interrupted Fairy Tale whose name I didn’t change.

2)      We met in high school. Made-out when I was home from college. Fell in love five years ago as “grown ups.”

3)       We agree to disagree on Tiger ice-cream. (Why anyone thinks that putting black liquorice with fake orange flavour would be a good idea, I have no idea.)

4)      He is a very proud, not so humble, father of a gorgeous, brave, easy going, brown-eyed girl. She and I beat up on him, and they heckle me. (“WE know the fastest way down water slides.  Why don’t you eat chicken with the skin on like WE do.”) I love her and I love them.

5)       He wins  fantasy football leagues. And when he talks to me about it, he might as well be speaking Swahili. (I know this may come as a surprise, but I do not speak Swahili).

6)       Before we started dating, he wanted to read Chad and my blogs. So we did, together, out loud, laying on the living room floor at the mini-Castle in the Sky I shared with Chad.

7)      He’s a Registered Massage Therapist. He does not give me massages at home and I need to book in three weeks in advance if I need a treatment. This is not awesome for me. 

8)      I’ve overheard him clarifying to someone at a party, “Chad isn’t Megan’s ex-boyfriend. They never broke up.” This is awesome for me.

9)      His Mom is from Trinidad, his Dad is from Canada and that’s why he is dark-ish.

10)    I have mixed up his name with Chad’s. Only once, maybe twice, but that’s because they both fart to annoy me, and in my fury they were both grossing me out.

….and #11) It’s a bit of a blended life – but Brad gained a life and was changed for it, I lost a life and was changed for it…and somewhere, we met in the middle with a fierce, big and awesome love.

Brad and Megan

 

Dream Guy

After my last post and the passing comments I got from people – I felt I should write some sort of follow up.

I was nervous to hit “Publish” on that post. While it was/is all true, I still don’t know how I feel about it or how it would make the guy I was laying next to feel about it.

On Sunday, Brad and I were driving, and I asked him if he had any “Chad moments” recently – similar to what he’d had when he and I first started dating.

“No – not anymore. But I do think about him from time to time. Nothing in particular, I just think about him on my own sometimes.”

Then I started to cry. The tears came on so quick, I didn’t have time to run through my reliable tear-prevention tactics. A deep breath and then I told him.

“I had a dream about him the other night.”

I rambled as I tried to explain myself,  the dream – I don’t know why he came back, I don’t know why he was in my dream because I wasn’t thinking of him (more than usual). It’s messing with me. I love that it felt so real, but I feel guilty that I liked it.  “…and both of you were ok with it – and well, I dunno…” I trailed off,  flicking my tears, realizing if I couldn’t make sense of it, how was I supposed to explain it to Brad?

Big wet tears dropped off my cheeks as the tall, dark, handsome, occasionally wise and often confident guy beside me said –

“Megan – it’s ok. You know I don’t have any competition or jealousy with Chad. There isn’t any overlap between us and we know that….

…I mean, I like helicopters, and if I’m flying one in my dream, doesn’t mean that I was thinking about them that day, it’s just what happens. They’re dreams and dreams don’t always have to make sense.”

I let out a wet laugh – but before I could tease him about the helicopter analogy, he continued with something that would instantly lift a heaviness from my chest –

“If your dreams are a place where you can have your time with Chad, where you can feel like it’s real between you – then you should have that; enjoy it.”

I’m not sure if I can explain this the way I want to, but it somehow feels like I’ve been given permission – not by Brad, but from myself.

I feel like that one sentence has given me permission to love and dream without certainty – and that it’s all ok.

Brad&Megan

 

 

You never get over, you just get through.

Over six years ago, Chad wrote in his diary about a fellow Multiple Myeloma warrior, Heather. She and Chad had been similar in age andfound hope in their battles. Unfortunately, Heather passed away many years before Chad did. He wrote that it was too difficult to attend her funeral as itwould be too much to handle. He goes on to say that he was in touch with her husband soon after and writes, “I found it interesting that her husband had a new girlfriend soon after her passing!”

I read that before ever re-meeting Brad, curious to translate what his ambiguous “I found it interesting” might mean. I still don’t have any recollection Chad saying much more in person about it either.

Since re-meeting Brad, I’ve thought about that sentence manytimes over again – searching for a clue or context to understand if Chad had a negative or positive emotion attached to his “interesting.” I’ve thought about it more this past week again after hearing of someone else who has found someone else after losing their spouse just over a year ago.

When I heard that they were with someone else, I immediately thought, “Woa, that’s pretty soon.” And as quickly as that thought entered my consciousness, I realized I’m the last person who can say anything about the time it can take to meet someone after the love of your life has passed away.

Chad left us at the end of November 2009. Brad and I were together by May 2010. How is it that I could lose the man I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with, and less than six months later have opened my heart to someone new?

Some may say, I had time to warm up to the idea that Chad was sick and might be ready for what was to come – but that doesn’t matter – loss hurts and even if you are braced for it, there isn’t any preparation for the hit you take when it actually happens. Some could say that I was looking for missing companionship – but that’s not it– companionship isn’t the same as love. Some could even say that I didn’t know what I was doing and wasn’t able to think clearly –but that’s not the case – my head and heart were and still are cooperative and clear.

So how is it that those of us who have lost, can find love again, and sometimes within a shorter time than we expected?
I think it’s because every day after November 28th, 2009 felt like its own lifetime. Every morning I opened my eyes, it felt like I had a lifetime to live through before I’d get to sleep again. I’d wake up and remember there wasn’t the person beside me who used to keep the bed warm. Once I’d remember that, I’d find parts of the day to look forward to because the best part of my day is no longer with me. I’d eat, but it was mostly just food. I’d drink because it was fun. I’d try and re-define a routine without Chad in it…and that was far harder than I could ever have guessed it would be. I’d try and get to sleep and couldn’t; and I’d know the next day, I’d need to face the loss all over again.
There are 24 hours in a day and some days I wished there were only 10 –  and on those days, I had another 14 other hours to fill with what I could. Then…as everyone tells you it will, time dilutes the hurt – making every day’s lifetime a little easier. Then, at some point (with the help of The Bubble), I came to terms with that I’d never be the same. I had been changed, I’ll never fall out of love and I’d never ‘get over.’

We will never get over what happened, we can only live through it.

So for those of us who have lost someone, six days, six months, six years – the time without your someone is long…and measuring it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is the fortune we may find afterwards. We would be so fortunate to find someone who is prepared to walk with us through each day’s lifetimes, someone who wants to live those lifetimes with us and offer their love and happiness when we thought all was lost.

Life after love and love after life; I am lucky to know both.

Thanks For Sticking Around

It’s been two years since Chad’s been gone and I remember Saturday, November 28th, 2009 like it was two days ago.

I miss Chad everyday. I think of him several times a day. I wonder how much he knows about my life or if he knows anything at all. I think about what our life was like together and what the life we were building together is like now. I think of all the changes that have happened and everything that has stayed the same. I think I think I think.

November isn’t an easy month for thinking – especially this last week. It’s hard not to replay the events of 2009 over and over in my head. All the details that stay dormant throughout the year start popping their little grey heads again. I think of the last day more than I usually do and I think of saying goodbye.

However, admits the thoughts of 2009 hospital rooms, hand squeezes and unbearable discomfort, I’ve also been thinking about the people who have gotten me through the last two years.

Before and after Chad died, the support of people around (virtually and physically) has been incredible. I felt I could fall back into a sea of people and feel confident I’d be softly caught. But, naturally as time goes on that number of people available (or prepared) to catch you, hold you and rest your feet on the ground becomes less.

As Chad said (and I hate that he’s right AGAIN), “Life doesn’t stop once you’re dead. Life goes on.” In two years, I’ve seen his theory become a reality. Some people made promises that they’d be around for the long haul, yet they’ve drifted the furthest away. Some people never made promises and have been closer than I could have ever asked them to be.

I am so indebted to those who have stayed around. Those stuck it out in the bad times and have stayed for the good.

I’m thankful for my in-laws. Chad’s “Parentals” (as they were listed in his phone) have left their front door open for me every week since 2009. Without judgement they listen to me cry as often as they listen to me laugh and are as much apart of my weekly routine as I am of theirs. There are so many different ways our family situation could have played out and I couldn’t be more thankful for how ours has evolved.

I have a sister (in-law) who makes an effort to stay in touch while living a province away. Whether its a giggle-fest Skype call with her, Ben and Lauren or a tearful, memory filled conversation just the two of us – she’s around, and similar to her parents, our relationship could have dwindled without Chad to keep us together but it’s gotten better with time.

My closest friends from far away, Devora, Xtina, Mesi, Lena, Inga, Lizzy, Alyssa, Cami and Kelli who make it clear in their subtle texts and Facebook messages that they’ve got their eyes on me and ready whenever, if ever, I need a call.

I have Chad’s brothers who have taken me on as their sister – Jesse, Bren and Justin. We don’t to talk often but I know I’m under their protective wing, making sure their boy’s girl is taken care of.

Chad’s tennis and poker friends have continued to invite me to their nights together as they did when I was Chad’s plus one. They are such loyal friends to Chad and have extended that same friendship to me; although I never mention it, their effort to include me never goes unnoticed.

There are new friends who I run, brunch, work and cocktail with, who listen to my stories of life with Chad without ever having met the man who is the source of countless conversations. Through calories burned or calories consumed, they participate in each conversation intently; regardless whether or not my blabbing makes sense.

My family. Two years ago they lost their son, brother, cousin and nephew in-law . I know they hurt, I know they remember time spent together, dinners on the back deck, Chads favourite foods and what kind of car he’d suggest they buy – yet if I’m missing him, if I’m needing a Mom-hug, they harbour their tears and embrace mine.

The Bubble has been my pillar; before Chad and after. They are all strong and provide structure to life as I knew/know it. We all have moments when tears drop, random memories are shared and sentences are interrupted with, “If Chad were here.” And when someone needs a rest from standing strong, the Bubble will relieve them without judgement. Gratitude is the best word that comes to mind.

Brad. 18 months ago, he seamlessly joined my life. He filled the cavity in my chest with love I never thought I’d have again. He has understood the fragility of the Bubble and the Warren-Williams family dynamics and embraced them as part of his own life. He has willingly taken on my tears, stories and life, offering unconditional acceptance of Chad and I – prepared to continue a fairy tale that was once interrupted.

As I finish writing, I’ve had a warmth wash over me and a feeling of Chad making sure I say thank you from him. Thank you for sticking around, for not going anywhere when life got bad and staying around to celebrate when life has been good. Thank you from Chad and thank you from me.

If everyone had friendships and family like the ones I have been so fortunate to have, happiness would be far less difficult to come by.