Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chapter 2

It has been a long time since I have posted anything online...Almost 8 months. A lot has changed in that time and I have been dealing with a lot of personal issues. Part of the reason I took a break from blogging is because I became more private about my life. I was in the middle of lengthy and emotional legal battle regarding Michael's Estate (our house and his belongings), and I started dating a man that I could see myself with forever. And as shocking as that was to admit to other was even more shocking for me to admit it to myself. Being so public about your life, puts you straight in the path for criticism, and I have been working so hard on rebuilding myself...I just wasn't ready to put it all out there yet.

Often times "Chapter 2" refers to the second chapter in the life of a widow. I have started my "Chapter 2." When you lose your spouse unexpectedly, the last thing you think will ever happen is being able to live a fulfilling life again. I thought my life was over...and it was. The life that I had known was over. I was forced to start a new life. For me, there is no such thing as "moving on" because I will never move on from the loss of my husband. It is a part of the person I am today, and that love is not replaceable. However, I do believe in being able to "move forward." I believe that everyday it takes a conscious choice to move forward with life after your spouse dies. And it is anything from easy, but you also owe it to yourself to be able to enjoy life again. I don't think that making the choice to move forward with my life lessens my love for Michael at all. In fact, I feel like it honors him. Michael loved to see me smile and hear me laugh. He always told me no matter what...all he wanted was for me to be happy. He told me that when I was 17 and he told me that when I was 27. And now at 31, I still believe he would say the same thing if given the chance. I didn't choose to lose Michael. We did not divorce each other. We were happy and in love and planned to spend the rest of our lives together. But our plans were not God's plans...His plans were different. And as HARD as that has been for me to accept...I have had to adjust to it.

I have been learning to embrace the hand I've been dealt. It's not fair and it has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through and continue to go through. I did not deserve what happened to me. But it happened. And I can not change that, no matter how many tears I cry or how many times I wish Michael was still alive. He is gone...forever. And even on the good days, that still cuts like a knife to my heart. You think when you are in love that you are resistant to bad things that happen around you. But the truth is, we are not. And that lesson is one to always remember. We are not promised tomorrow and we must learn to start making the most of the time we have.

In August of 2015, I remarried a wonderful and loving man that accepts my past and encourages my future. There are a few possible misconceptions about a widow remarrying that I want to talk about. By deciding to move forward in your life, that doesn't stop the love (and pain) that comes from losing a spouse.  But it does give me hope for a life that experiences happiness again. And Jamie (my new husband) does just that.

I have walked through the darkest hell and managed to slowly climb back out. I found someone who brings my soul back to life. LIFE IS SHORT. I have been through a devastating loss with Michael. Losing him and his boys continues to be the HARDEST thing I have ever been though. Don't you think that is enough suffering in itself? Why push away sunlight that is finally beginning to peek out?  And I decided not too. I embraced it. I embraced the sunshine on my face and in my soul. I embraced the love in my heart that I did not realize I even had.

These words are taken from the blog "One Fit Widow" and describe perfectly how I feel. Michelle Steinke writes:
"There is nothing easy about making the conscious effort to move forward after the devastating loss of life. The emotions of death don't die the minute you take new vows. One man does not replace the other. People are not replaceable and while you develop new bonds, new relationship and new love--the love you had for those before never truly dies. I like to think love expands the heart. With great love my heart has expanded to allow more great love. The two relationships are not mutually exclusive and while I love them both differently--I do indeed love them both."

One of the ways I choose to honor Michael and our marriage is continuing to wear my wedding band from him. The bottom band is the wedding band he gave me. A marriage that ended only because of death. A marriage vow that I took...till death do us part. For me, it is a symbolic reminder of the love shared and the love that remains. I also chose not to drop Michael's last name. That was something that was important and meant a lot to me. Michael is so much a part of me and always will be.

The middle band and top engagement ring are the ones from Jamie and they represent my present and future. I am so thankful for a man that allows me to express my love for Michael openly. I am blessed beyond what I ever imagined to find true love, not once...but twice. Each love is different...just like each person is different. One love does not replace the other. But I am learning how to live post-loss and how to enjoy it again. And I am learning that I don't have to feel guilty about wanting to be happy again.

These two articles below are great reads involving being a widow and remarrying. They both articulate many things that I feel and maybe just couldn't put into words.

In the end, I want to give others hope and encouragement and that is why I chose to start back writing. If I can make a difference in just one person's life...then it is all worth it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Learning to Live Again

 I speak of Michael daily. He is part of me that will never leave and that will never change. The past 18 months have been the most challenging, emotionally draining, and demanding months of my life. I have fought to be alive, fought for Michael, fought for peace...and forgiveness, and fought to become who I am. It has been a long road and taken a long time for me to realize that I am going to be ok. I still struggle often with overwhelming feelings of grief and loss. I struggle with why this had to happen to me, why this had to happen to Michael. I will never have those answers. I have to keep faith in the Good Lord and trust He is in control of our lives. He decides who dies, when they die and why they die. Faith for me is learning to let go of what I can not control and putting it in His hands.

Lately, the stronger I have become, the more reservations I have about continuing to chronicle my journey. Writing is my therapy but I wonder sometimes if I don't create more chaos for myself by being so open and so vulnerable. I want to help someone if I can, and that is why I continue to do it.  It is only fair to those individuals who have reached out to me and talked about how I have touched their life and helped them in some way. If anything I believe that God wants to use me in a way to reach out and help others going through struggles in life. Whether it be dealing with the loss of a loved one, or simply learning to see how precious life really is. I do finally believe that I am a strong person. I believe I am a better person because of Michael and because of his death. I believe God intended to use me as a source of strength for others as well. I miss Michael more than words can possibly describe. I will never stop missing him or loving him...but God has changed me because of this. God has transformed me into a different person... A better person.

Something that I have now, that I have not had in a long HOPE. I have hope for a fulfilling life and a promising future. At one point I never thought it was possible to survive what I was going through, much less be able to enjoy life again. I am able to enjoy life again. I am able to appreciate small things that I took for granted before Michael's death. I am able to find peace in my life and in my heart. I know Michael has been with me and pushed me to overcome the things I could not have done on my own. Love is stronger than death and our love is the reason I can do the things I do. Our love is the reason I am able to get through each day and look toward the endless possibilities that life has to offer.

A pivotal moment in my life that helped me reach this place, happened a few weeks ago. Two of my good friends and I were eating at a restaurant and we were suddenly locked inside by a police officer. A shooting had just taken place next door and a sheriff came in searching. He put the establishment on lock down until further notice as they searched for the shooter. For the first time since Michael died, I realized I did not want my life to end. Even though I had begged God to take me many times since Michael's that moment...I realized I did not want to die. I realized that my time here is limited too. I do not know when my last breath will be. Hopefully I will live a long time and experience many things but there is no guarantee of that. It is incredibly scary to think that any one of us could leave this earth at any given moment.  I have decided to try to make the most of everyday. Which leads me to my final thought...are you doing what you need to do to make the most of your time alive?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


There was a light in my eyes and a fire in my soul...but when he died...that part of me died too. Living day to day is one thing...feeling alive is something completely different.

You learn to build walls so high around yourself after something devastating happens. I know that in order to feel alive again I have to take the walls down. But taking the walls down makes me vulnerable to all the hurt in life that I have tried so hard to numb out the last year and a half. At what point do you risk it all to truly find happiness again? Fear is the biggest challenge when learning to move forward with life. Fear keeps you in the dark. Fear keeps you from potentially finding a peace and happiness once again in your soul.

Do I think I can be happy again? Yes. In my own my own time. But when do I learn to let fear take a backseat and allow myself to start driving my own life?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A New Year...A New Me

I am 14 months post loss. I find that I am changing and evolving continuously as I move forward in this life. As humans we are ever evolving and changing. That is how we have survived on this earth for centuries. As a survivor of losing a loved one, I myself have been evolving over the past year. I have tried different things to ease the pain. I have become consumed in things to stay busy at times. I have withdrawn myself at times. I have done everything that looks "normal" to someone on the outside, but the truth is I was still very empty on the inside. I needed a change. I needed to refocus...starting with MYSELF and learn to heal and learn to experience life again the way it should be experienced. I needed to break up with the old Caroline and start fresh with a new relationship with myself. The truth is I have been in a very bad relationship with myself over the past year. And grief affects people differently, so who is to say what is the "right" way or the "wrong" way  to feel. But I had reached my limit and decided to take back over my life. After coming out. a few months ago,  of one of the worst depressions I have ever had...I made a promise to myself. I promised I would get myself the help I needed to put myself back in control of my life and fight this battle. If you don't take some steps to surround yourself with people who see the light, rather than see darkness, you will remain stuck in the shadows. I was tired of living in the darkness. The only way to start healing is to make a choice to not remain where you are...not to remain in the darkness. To learn to dance between the shadows and keep looking toward the light.

One of the greatest things I have done for myself lately, that has changed me, has been practicing yoga. And how lucky am I that my best friend teaches and practices it. This practice has taught me to learn to appreciate myself, first and foremost. It is about learning to find balance in your life and learning to let go of the things you can not change.

It has taught me about honoring awareness of the soul, and learning to love myself, even if I am broken. These are a few of the affirmations I am learning to live by. (Click on them to make bigger)


These are just a few of the things I am learning to live by. And if it were not for my beautiful friend, Belinthia Poole, I would never have given yoga a second thought. She has truly awoken my soul, and I am forever grateful to her. She has walked with me through this journey and helped be my voice of reason when my mind was cluttered. 

Starting yoga has made me want to make changes in my life in other ways as well. It has made me aware of myself and how to work toward creating balance in my life. This is one reason I have decided to deactivate my personal Facebook page. I am learning to pull away from things that do not create balance in my life and push toward things that do. I think like many of us, I got caught up in social media and at this point in my life, my new focus is on myself. I decided to keep my blog and my public Facebook Page "Barefoot & Beautifully Broken." Because I still want to chronicle my journey and work toward being a positive source of light to those struggling through the darkness. 

I am optimistic for 2015. I am optimistic that this year will bring great changes in me and bring much needed peace to my heart. Happy New Year and here's to a fresh start!


Monday, December 8, 2014

The Dark Side of Death

 Grief is like a tidal wave, you can be feeling strong and firm and that wave comes along and knocks you back down. Sometimes it not only knocks you down, but pulls you out to sea and almost drowns you. This is the dark side of death. The side you fight so hard against but at times there is nothing you can do to avoid the massive wave of emotions you feel. September, October, and most of November this year, I was hit hard by a tidal wave. I knew that October would be emotional, but what I did not anticipate was the dark hole I would fall in to for almost 3 months. Even though I strive to stay positive and focus on "moving forward"...I myself am not superhuman. I can only control so much and the pain I felt when dealing with the year anniversary of Michael's death was almost as bad  as the first few months  of life after Michael died.  A lot of those painful feeling resurfaced  and I began to withdraw myself. I pulled away from my family, my friends, from work...from life. I no longer wanted to participate in anything. For the first time in a long time I struggled with feeling like I didn't want to live. I felt no joy in life and struggled to get through each day without breaking down. I would go to work, and as soon as I would get in my car to leave I would start crying.  I'd come home and lay on the couch feeling so much pain and just cry. My heart was so broken all over again.  I became severely depressed and was struggling to find hope in anything. I write all that to say this...I didn't give up. And those closest to me didn't give up on me.

A few weeks ago, I began to re-enter my life again and making efforts to do what I needed to do to get myself back on track. To those that are grieving...don't give up. You don't have to be strong all the time, its ok to fall apart but the important thing is to remember you are alive for a reason. You are a survivor for a reason. God has a plan for me, and God has a plan for you even though it is hard to understand at certain times. God knows what He is doing.  Take your pain and try to do something positive with it. Focus on helping others, or doing something for someone, without expecting anything in return. Focus on what you can do to help someone else, instead of focusing on the pain you feel. Ask God to use you in a way that helps heal you while serving others.

To those of you who love someone who is grieving...I can offer this advice. Grief turns you into a creature that is not always the true you. Grief can cause you to isolate yourself from people, work, and activities. And it can hit you from out of nowhere. It can cause you to lose joy in living. If a grieving person seems distant, moody, selfish, or "unlike" themselves...they aren't acting like that on purpose. Grief comes in waves. For me, I can have weeks where I am doing great, and then it hit me and cripple me all over again. Sometimes the grief is more intense than others, and I am still learning to deal with this new life I have been faced with. I will never be the same person I was before I lost Michael. Death changes you. Please just be there to love and support those who are dealing with loss. Sometimes just a simple call or text to let them know that you are thinking about them or praying for them can mean so much. If a grieving person declines invites, or declines to be a part of something, don't stop asking them. When that person is ready, they will rejoin and want to be involved. Please don't think a grieving person is being "rude" just because you don't understand their behavior. Most importantly, if you are someone important to a grieving not give up on them. Understand that they may be difficult at times. They may be happy one moment and upset the next. It is important to realize that the core support group keeps that grieving person alive.  That person NEEDS you...even if their actions show they don't. If your child, best friend, or someone close is grieving a devastating loss, then educate yourself on grief. Even after time passes and they seem "better" grief will attack  their life again. Be involved and be patient. Just love that person through the pain they are going through. Above all else, do not walk away from someone because you are frustrated or feel uncomfortable.  I read a quote that sums this post up perfect, "life is messy and if you love someone you are willing to get dirty for them."

Monday, October 13, 2014

"He wants to Thank You for Loving Him Unconditionally"

Last night I attended a Theresa Caputo live show in Charlotte, NC. For those that are unfamiliar of who this is, she has a show on TLC called, "The Long Island Medium."  The moment I found out she was touring, I immediately knew that I had to go. A medium is someone who connects with the physical world and the spiritual world. I have been wanting to meet with a medium every since Michael died. I know this is a touchy subject and I understand that some with have different opinions on this. 

But from the time I was a young girl I have connected with spirits...not often but often enough.  My family and close friends know this has been going on for some time. Growing up in an old farm house that my great, great grandfather built over 100 years ago was the perfect setting for experiencing unexplainable events.  I would always joke it was "Grandma Ola", who passed away in the house. OR my granddaddy's father, RD, who was killed in an explosion beside the house. I guess I felt the spirits were family and I was never frightened when strange things happened. So naturally when Michael died, I became overwhelmed with wanting to communicate with him.  And I have, not nearly as much I have hoped but enough for me to know he was there. Up until last week I had not experienced anything unusual lately. But I was hoping with the anniversary of his death coming up, he would show up in his own way to say "hey." And sure enough he visited me around 3:30 am last week. Just another one of my sleepless nights staring up looking at the blue night light reflecting off the ceiling. And I saw the shadow move across the ceiling back and forth...then I felt something touching my forehead. And by touching, something touched wasn't a faint feeling. I felt so excited, I didn't sleep the rest of the night. I remember telling my sister, and her saying, "that doesn't freak you out?" And maybe if Michael was alive, it would scare me...but now that he has passed...I know it is him. I ask for him to do stuff all the time to let me know he is with me. So no, it brings me comfort in a crazy way for strange things to happen to me. So I knew his spirit was near me. And I pleaded with him to for weeks to talk to me through Theresa at her show. And wouldn't you know, I got my wish!

Last night I didn't hold back on trying to get the best possible shot with Theresa. I joined her fan club, I got VIP presale tickets, and managed to get an aisle seat just 5 rows from the front. But ultimately it wasn't up to me if Michael would come through. I told my sister, IF some wild reason she gives me a reading, you better take notes! She had her pen and notepad ready. Theresa works in a way that spirits guide her to certain areas and she will say something and ask if someone connects with that statement. Usually it is something specific enough that only a few people may raise their hand. Theresa stated there were about 3000 people there and she might have gotten 30 readings in. She started out by the stage, asking questions. She spoke to a few people, then went to the other side. I was bummed because I figured she would start on that side. But she headed back closer and closer to me. She then turned on my aisle and walked right by me and asked "Does anyone connect with a treehouse?"  I raised my hand and said "I do." And in that surreal moment, she turned around and told me to stand up. I was handed a microphone and had the camera lights zoom in on me, putting me on the big screen. Talk about intimidating and overwhelming. My heart was pounding and then she asked "I see a treehouse...and unfinished treehouse. Does this make sense to you?" I said, "yes!" She said "I see a man's wedding ring, and a heart. Do you understand this?" I said "yes, my husband was killed a year ago, he was in the process of building a treehouse." Then she asked if his mother was in the physical world or spiritual world. I said she was alive and she responded that she was connecting very strongly to mother "feeling."  I know this was Michael's way of showing how important his mom is to him. Next she asked did the number 6 mean anything to me? A date, an age, something. I said No. I did not know what that meant. And then she asked if I could connect with a green shed. I once again said "No". About that time, a gentlemen two rows behind me said that was him! So she turned to this gentleman. I was saddened that she moved on from me. I went to sit down, and Theresa shouted, "Don't sit down yet!!" So eagerly I popped back up!  I remember looking at my sister like, Can you believe this???

Theresa spent a good 5 minutes talking to this gentleman about his grandfather before she turned back to me. And while I don't remember exactly what she said initially, she started back talking about my situation. I may not write this in the exact order she spoke but I am recalling it as close as I can with my sister's help. Theresa went back to the treehouse. She said he keeps bringing up the treehouse. He wants you to finish it. And she asked me if I understood. I said yes. She said, "Do you paint? I keep seeing a silhouette. Did you paint a silhouette of him?" I said, "No I have not painted him, but I painted a silhouette of a deer with his name on it....on a leftover board he was using to build the treehouse. It is placed at his grave."  Next she started talking about a child. She said I see a child in a lunchroom or cafeteria and they are being recognized for something. Does this make sense to you? Well, up until this point I had maintained my composure pretty well. I told her that I did not know, because we did not have children together. He had two children from a previous marriage, and I had not been able to see the boys since his death.  As soon as I utter the words out, there was a loud gasp. What she said next is when the emotional attack took over. She said, "I keep seeing something about their birthdays, a birthday card.. Did you send the boys a card and it get sent back to you, or returned?" I could hardly speak at this point, over come with emotion. I said I keep a box for each of his boys and every birthday, holiday, occasion, I buy them a card and put it in the box until I am able to give it to them personally. She then said "you worry if they think of you?" I cried, "yes." She said, "please know he says the boys think of you often. He wants to THANK YOU for loving him unconditionally." She asked did I understand, and I said Yes. She then said "He wants you to know that he wouldn't have traded your short time together for anything! Do you understand?" I replied, "yes, we were only married a year and a half before he died." Then she said "Please KNOW he is at peace"

And with that, she moved on to someone else.

I sat down in disbelief of what just happened. I was still crying and in shock. But the words she spoke will forever have an impact on me. As much I knew in my heart these things, she validated them for me. Michael is completely aware of what is going on with my life, his mother's life, and his boy's lives. She validated that he died a happy man...He wouldn't have traded our short time together for anything!!He was finally happy and he sees the things I continue to do to prove my love for him.  And I can have peace knowing that he is at peace. He is free from the drama and the burdens he carried. He is at peace.

I just want to take a minute to talk about the significant of the treehouse. While many people would not think much of this, to me it symbolizes a whole lot. When we lived in Cheraw, the boys wanted a treehouse and a zip line. Michael had the boys to draw up their perfect idea of what it would look like. They worked together building this labor of love. The boys helped hammer in nails, hold boards for their daddy, and use the tape measure to mark off sections. Michael and his boys made many memories building this treehouse together.


When we decided to move the boys were sad that the treehouse would not be coming. Michael, being the amazing daddy that he was, took down the entire treehouse by himself, loaded it up on a trailer and hauled it to Hartsville. They were in the process of rebuilding the treehouse right before he died, complete with two real tire swings, a zipline, and a swing set. We spend the last few weeks before he died outside working on this project. I remember one of the boy's saying "This is a backyard paradise!" Our last memories together were spent around this treehouse.  It truly symbolized how happy Michael was.  Of all the things Michael could have communicated about, he chose to pick something so symbolic, something so filled with love and laughter. So you can only imagine how I felt when Theresa asked if someone could connect with a treehouse...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Forever is a Lie

There is no such thing as "forever." There is the here and now. That is all anyone is ever promised. Just this moment.

My forever died. He died October 16, 2013, which is quickly approaching. I have started re-living that nightmare more and more the closer it gets to the 1 year anniversary of his death.

Some people ask me why I am so big on "Live in the moment." This is why. The moment is all you have.  Forever doesn't exist. Forever is a lie.