Nick in healthier times

8 years on…

Isn’t time weird??? I felt like I just wrote this post a few months ago and yet its been 12 whole months since I wrote this kind of post and also 8 years since Nick left this world. Crazy????

So, again if you’ve just stumbled across this, i’m Michela and I lost my first husband to pancreatic cancer 8 years ago today. You can read from the beginning if you like by clicking here.

Or if you’d like to read my previous posts and how the years have rolled by, you can click on any of the below you fancy:

7 years on

6 years on

5 years on

But back to the current year at hand, I still struggle to believe so much time has passed. But yet, I look around and so much has changed since 2011, so who am I fooling?

Nothing stays the same, we change, we evolve, we learn to live another day, month, year and before we know it, the time is passing. And just when you thought you couldn’t feel any better, you survey your life and realise it really is ok. The worst has passed and you didn’t even notice.

This has been my experience and I hope if you’re reading this, having just lost someone close to you, that you will feel the same way soon. And truthfully, the waves of emotion still come for me, but they are further apart and shorter in time. While i’ll never forget Nick (who could!) i’m just better at remembering the best of him and our memories instead now.

But, it’s taken time and recently we lost Nick’s mum and I felt like I went a little backwards. It’s still very raw and recent, and we have always stayed close since Nick passed, especially as i’ve been apart of his family for nearly 20 years. I do take comfort in knowing she is with her son and i’m sure making up for the past 8 years they lost together. They were so close, though she was never the same after he died, but she managed through life and soldiered on to the end, she had the same bravery I saw in Nick, the same determination and the same fight in her.

Nick and his mum
Nick and his mum

But, it inadvertently bought back so many emotions in me, that I had pushed to the far back of my memory. I started to re-live so much of Nick’s being sick and how difficult it was, including the day he passed and how my get it done attitude was really the disguise for my grief.

And while I’ve experienced people passing since Nick died, including my grandmother last year, this one hit a nerve, one that I thought was healed. I found myself crying both for my mother in law and Nick. Being in the same church, with the same priest and many of the same people was a trigger to my emotions. One I wasn’t prepared for, but completely understood where it came from. I just had to be patient with myself and allow the feelings to come and pass. Ones I probably didn’t allow myself 8 years ago. I was also emotional at seeing how far i’d come since sitting in that church all those years earlier. I was so scared of what the future held, not knowing what I was ‘meant’ to do next.

My husband John, has been my sounding board, he’s heard so many stories I had ‘forgotten’, as the memories came flooding back. Things I thought I forgot, flashed back in such clear detail, it was as though it happened the day before. I remembered conversations, what I’d wore and who was there etc. And shout out to John, for letting me talk it out and being by my side, as I started to feel like a ‘widow’ all over again. I don’t know too many partners that are content to be with their wives first family and to listen to all the stories from their past.

In my mother in law’s final days, I would sit and chat with her, she knew it was the end. I asked her to send some messages to Nick for me, mostly that I loved him and that I knew he was still around, and that i’d catch him on the other side. We spent time laughing and crying together. I kept my daughter home from school to spend one last day with her. I felt extra emotional knowing she was going to be with Nick soon and maybe even a little jealous, but I know it’s not my time, not for a long while yet.

And so on Nick’s 8 year anniversary, I know he’s happy. I know he’s still watching over us and keeping tabs on what we do. I still talk to him daily and ask his advice, I subtlety hear his responses. And I know he would be so happy with the way my life has panned out since he left. And through the trials that life has thrown at us, I know he’d be so proud of my ability to get it done and go about life.

I miss you Nick…. yesterday, today and all the years left in my life. And say hi to mum for me, I know she’s reading this along with you! xxx

Michela xx

What i’ve learnt from 6 months off social media

Hello There, it’s been such a long while….i’ll just give you a sec to remember who I am, because honestly it feels so long since I last sat down to write (7 Months but who’s counting)…… so in case you’re still scratching you’re head, I’ll add a couple of my most popular posts below so you can recollect your thoughts, including my last post:

7 years on

Back to the beginning

The widow wore a little black dress

All caught up, good!

Now onto today; some of you may already know but earlier this year I began a self imposed social media break. It kind of happened suddenly one day and then continued on. I never planned to be ‘off’ for so long, but it became a sort of game with myself to see how long I could go and honestly, it actually became easier as the weeks, then months rolled by and suddenly the app on my phone didn’t hold the pull it once did and I was no longer tempted to ‘just check in…again’.

And by social media, for me primarily it was Instagram that was my poison, though I avoided Facebook during this time also.

It mostly began due to a death in our family of my dear grandmother, a true matriarch in every sense of the word. She died suddenly and unexpectedly on the 9th February, which coincidentally was only 4 days past Nick’s 7 year anniversary of his death, and also my grandfather’s 10 year anniversary on the 12th February, so yeah, a great week for my family!

It was during this time that I started the social media break almost unintentionally, as I was spending quality time with my family and just wasn’t checking in on instagram, so a day turned into 2 and before I knew it, it had been 4 weeks!

So here we are 6 Months later and I felt it was the perfect time to jump back on and a chance to share my thoughts on my time away.

Starting with:

1) I found I missed so many birthdays, anniversaries and just special dates in general. Because guess what, I can’t actually remember when all my friends kids birthdays are, or even how old they’re turning! I realised I used Instagram to remind me. As generally i’d forget til i’d see them post their own ‘happy birthday’ and boom i’d remember. Without Instagram, i’ve been left feeling guilty because i’ve forgotten a birthday/special occasion more than once. Guess i’m back to writing them down in my calendar instead now! #oldschoolstyle

2) I missed holiday snaps and cute pics. In my break from social media it meant I actually missed quite a few pics, that I would ordinarily have liked to see. E.g winning an award at school, trips away and cute pics of pets etc. but on the plus side, I also missed all the posts that made me roll my eyes, you know what I’m talking about, we’ve all got ‘those’ friends/accounts we follow.

3) I got back some mental space. I found before my break, any time I would have a few minutes (ok, seconds..) spare, I’d be jumping onto Instagram! I’d even be standing in the queue at my grocery store waiting my turn and i’d reach for my phone and start scrolling, like why was that even necessary?!?

Probably because the person in front of me was doing the same thing, right?

4) I was constantly reminding people that I was ‘off’ social media. It went a little like this:

’Did you see the post on…..’

’You know I’m off social media right now..’

’really, still?!?…I thought you’d be back by now’

Or I felt I’d have to work into conversations the fact I was off social media so no one was offended that I hadn’t liked their photos or commented on something that I should have seen.

Because we all know, if it wasn’t on social media, did it really even happen?

5) Ultimately I discovered that I didn’t really miss it that much, especially as time passed by, though I did start to miss my daily dose of inspiration from my baking, cooking and nail art accounts, I definitely didn’t miss the photoshopped posts of perfectly curated lives. So boring, right?

And while I have never been huge on posting everything in my life, (I’m mostly forgetting to take the photos!) I’m looking forward to sharing some more pics and catching up on what everyone else has been up to, while also adding to The Polished Widow Instagram page, which you are welcome to follow!

But, now i’m off to try and find my Instagram password, because i’m sure I’ve been locked out of my accounts by now!

I look forward to connecting with you again on my socials soon, well…until my next break anyway!

Til then,

Michela xx

Please send me an email and let me know if you’ve taken any time off social media lately, i’d love to hear from you!

7 years on….

Hey there, it’s been a quick minute since I last posted (actually like 10 months) but we’ll skip over that and i’ll just get to the point.

Today marks 7 years since Nick passed away. Yep, I know what you’re thinking, ‘already 7 years’, ‘that’s gone quickly’ and ‘why am i reading this, who’s Nick?’

Well, keep reading….

I won’t go over the same things I wrote about on his 6 years gone by post, you can read it by clicking here or what I wrote for his 5 year anniversary post, you can find it here.

And on the odd chance you just stumbled here, click here to know a bit more about Nick’s story.

I’ve spent time today going through the hours of footage Nick left us, going about his everyday life during his treatment and it’s after effects, to his monologues for our then baby girl, of what he wanted her to be in life, ‘kind, thoughtful, patient and beautiful, just like your mum’,  his own words, I swear!

Of course, she has become all those things and more, and she is way more beautiful at 8, than I could ever be!

On reflecting on the past 7 years, it makes me extra grateful to have these clips of him. They remind me of his being a perfectionist, with a video he filmed of himself trimming our garden hedge, his dedication to his work life with the many clips of him talking to his work mates and of course his love for us and our families, with so many of him talking about everyone and what they meant to him.

I’m grateful for these videos, for a selfish reason too, because i’m scared as the years go on, that my memories won’t be as sharp.

That I’ll forget about the time we first stated dating and he wore the dorkiest sandals to the beach, or the fact he secretly loved Britney Spears and would play her albums over and over in his car, or how complimentary he always was about what I wore and how vocal he was about what we ate for dinner.

The Funeral - The Final Goodbye - part 2
Nicks memorial card

Will I remember the names of his mentors from work who he spoke about constantly, wanting to emulate their career paths. He had such respect for those who had come before him, telling me he’d be just like them and better one day.

I’ll always remember the way he had of talking to you, when he was trying to get a point across. It was both parts demanding and motivating, all at once. Sometimes during these lectures, I’d zone out but gosh, I wish I’d recorded some of these chats to replay to myself now. Those are the things I wish I remembered verbatim.

Will I always remember the look on his face, when he told me about his terminal cancer diagnosis, unfortunately yes, that look still haunts me. His blank stare, trying to be brave, but holding back tears. The questions hanging in the air between us, with no answers.

Will I remember what his first car was, what his first pet’s name was, what his favourite memory from school was, what he wanted to be when he was a kid?

The many conversations we had over the years aren’t all stored in my memory, and after 10 years together and 7 years since he’s been gone, i’m getting a little rusty and it scares me.

Luckily, I have so many videos and photos of our time together, just one picture will take me back to that time in place, the start of a video will remind me of that part of our lives.

For as crazy as people thought it was to document his treatment, it has turned into the best memory I have of him. It’s real, honest and raw in every way, but it’s Nick in all his glory showing his strength and bravery when the world was so against him.

He is sorely missed, not just today but everyday. He is still spoken about, not just sometimes, but every single day and he is loved, not just while he was with us, but every day since he’s been gone too.

Thanks for reading along, til next time, whenever that might be?!?

Michela xx


Nick in healthier times

Are you over it yet?

Hi again, I hope everyone is having a good week so far and to those of you who have stumbled across my blog, hi, you might want to read a little about me here or at the beginning of my story here.

Today i’ve decided to write a little about my experience with how people react post my loss and the question i’m often asked, ‘are you over it yet?’ Yep, people are actually that direct.

I’ve written previously about how difficult it was immediately after the loss and also a bit about moving forward, which you can read here but this takes a different turn again, about how people react 6 years later.

Because things change from sympathy (i’m so sorry, are you ok?) to now 6 years later I get (really? but you married again, so you’re good) No lie, i’ve actually been told this!! Like apparently it just erases the pain and memories, like some magic pill.

And yes, don’t get me wrong, I am great, I am married again to an amazing guy, who didn’t bat an eyelid at me being a widow with a kid, he has been a constant stream of support and love. It did help that we dated as teens, so he was no stranger to me or my family, but still, he took on more than most men would. And he has never once asked me to stop writing about Nick or my time as a widow, in fact he has come to me with suggestions for posts.

He is very secure in our marriage and my love for him.

But back to my point of this post and this blog in general because when I first started writing over 3 years ago (yes, it’s been that long!!!) I was constantly told, I must be doing this for the therapy, to get things off my chest.

(Because I definitely wasn’t writing for all the free PR stuff you see bloggers getting, though OPI if you’re reading this, i’d love the Fiji or the new California Dreaming  Collection, thanks!)
In reality, I felt an urge to write about what had happened to us, Nick encouraged it before he passed. I did originally think it would only ever be for my daughters to read one day, but off it took on Facebook one day when a friend posted it, and the rest is well, you know, history.

I didn’t particularly feel like I was being freed of any feelings, but I did re-discover my love of writing and yes, there were days I cried while writing remembering all the times and Nick, but I was always happy to do it.

Then came the beautiful messages, as it took off around the world from other young widows, feeling like they weren’t alone. And not just widows, but anyone who had been through a loss or hard time, who were reading along and writing me such beautiful emails.

By sharing my time and feelings, like my widow humour and my life since, it gave them hope, that they too could get through this and live their next chapters. And also the emails from people who’d not suffered a loss but how reading along made them appreciate their own lives even more. Kind of like, ‘well, my husband does piss me off, but I love him and he’s still here, so guess I should appreciate that’.

These letters alone are enough validation for me to keep writing, and believe me there are so many. But, please keep writing me though, I love hearing from you!

But, i’m always asked, ‘so now that you’ve written your story, are you going to keep writing, like, what else can you say?’ or ‘you’ve written about Nick enough now, don’t you want to get on with your life?’, and my favourite, ‘are you over it yet?’

I get this, I really do, but writing these posts, does not mean I’m living in the past or that I don’t appreciate my future, I seriously look forward to growing old(er) with my husband and in all honestly, I have so much more I want to write (maybe even a book one day, like you all keep suggesting!)

It’s as though I’m really being asked, ‘aren’t you over your loss yet, it was 6 years ago?’ and the quick answer is no, i’ll never be completely over losing Nick, while I have this amazing new life, it doesn’t replace my previous one.

Would you ever forget a grandparent who passed away? Just never mention them again and act they never existed, well of course not, then why should I do the same? Nick was and is a huge part of my life, he shaped me into the person I am today. I refuse to stop mentioning him because it might make other people uncomfortable and trust me it does. I see how people don’t know what to say once I mention him, even something as simple as ‘oh yeah, Nick and I went there once…’ becomes a conversation killer, they don’t know where to go from there, they change the topic real quick!

But honestly for me it’s fine, just keep talking, I won’t break down in tears, unless we’re talking about my 2 year old not wanting to sleep at night, because that’s painful.

When my loss first occurred everyone was walking on eggshells around me, not sure what to do or say, 6 years later, I find that the sensitivity of losing my first husband has almost completely gone, and that’s fine, I get it. Time has healed the shock of losing Nick, and though he’s left a void, people have moved forward and worked around it. Like knowing someone with a massive wart on their nose, you know it’s there, you just don’t mention it all the time.

I guess in that analogy i’m the wart or am I the nose, umm ok then, moving right on…

Recently I was told I was too young to understand life, by someone much older than me, I was offended and replied that i’d lost my husband to cancer when I was just 30, I waited for the penny to drop for her, like she’d agree I’d already been through so much, but instead she replied, ‘yeah, but you were young, wait til you get to my age, then you’ll know life.’

I took a moment to check myself, was I being too cocky about this life and death business, I did feel as though she washed over the fact i’d already been deeply touched by it, but that by no means makes me an expert in life, right?

But she had reacted as though, because I’d been widowed young and re-married, that it didn’t matter and unfortunately i’ve had this reaction so many times before, I shouldn’t let it bother me.

I’ve also had people tell me we weren’t married long enough for it to impact me enough, because I still have so much of my life left to live. I understand that, but i’ve also been through something so heartbreaking, so i’d say I know a little about life and perspective and Nick and his illness unfortunately taught me that and of course, I have a heap more to experience as I continue on in my life without him.

But, i’ve rambled long enough again, so I’ll end with some advice, never ask someone who’s grieving or been through a loss, whether it’s been 6 days, 6 months or even 6 years if they’re over it, because chances are, like me, they’ll always have a piece of their hearts missing. Like my Instagram post (@the_polished_widow) says, ‘You are near, even if I don’t see you. You are with me, even if you’re far away. You are in my thoughts, in my heart, in my life. Always.’

Til next time, Michela xx

p.s if there’s something you’d like to ask me or you’ve had a similar experience, i’d love to hear from you,  just write to me via the form below!