The magical way Vern and I found one another has always made me believe it was divine guidance that brought us together. He chose me. Me? Yes, me! That just turned 18 year old kid who knew deep down inside her that life had more in store than what she could see. But she was too afraid to take a chance and came so very, very close to settling for something that would have been such a huge mistake.
Oh, the summer of ’69. One little change of course. Not so little actually.
That senior trip to NYC and an important conversation with my friend Kenny changed the path of my future. I arrived home, broke up with my fiancé (yeah, I was engaged during my senior year), applied to college and thought I knew where I was headed.
Two weeks later Vern and I were both at a graduation party and there was a spark. Just a tiny little, very unexpected, one. He was my teacher. But I was no longer his student. A first date and that spark burst into flames. And 11 weeks later we married. It was destiny. I knew that without a doubt we were meant to be together.
Vern’s cancer years were hard. So very hard. On him. And on me. But it was during those oh so difficult years that I realized just how important my “little change of course” had been. I was meant to be the one to care for him, to love him, until his very last breath.
I thought my life ended when Vern died. I could not see a future without him. And then Soaring Spirits came along. It has filled my lonely days with hope, friendship, laughter, love, gratefulness, connections, a sense of worth, a yearning to live this life and find my purpose.
Widowed Village: When I was seeking an online community those first weeks after Vern died - and was turned away by the first group I approached because I was over their 55 year age limit - "Supa Dupa Fresh Widow" Robin Moore Lasky reached out and brought me into the Village during beta testing. This online community became my lifeline, and many of the people I met there became lifelong friends. I entered the Village on January 31, 2011 and have never left. I started volunteering early on with intake and as a group greeter and now serve as the site administrator. I love my Village.
Camp Widow: I attended my first Camp Widow in San Diego in August 2011, ten days before my first wedding anniversary without Vern and six weeks before the first anniversary of his death. The keynote, the workshops, meeting many of my online friends in person ... what an amazing gift. Those few days allowed me to express my grief and meet it head on instead of hiding it away. I've attended each Camp Widow since that first one as a volunteer, starting off as a room monitor, then helping with registration, and now serving as National Volunteer Coordinator and a member of the Camp Widow Leadership Team. http://www.campwidow.org/
Regional Social Groups: I got involved with the new Regional Group program as the behind the scenes volunteer when it began in 2013 and became the Regional Group Coordinator in 2014, managing our now 40+ regional groups across the US and Canada. These groups bring a little bit of Camp to our local communities by connecting people in person. And they actually save lives. I know that for sure. I started a Las Vegas group in October 2014 and the blessings I have received from those friendships and connections cannot even be measured. They are cherished.
So, to answer Michele’s question of how Soaring Spirits has impacted my life?
Soaring Spirits’ programs helped me to find my purpose during this ‘second season’ of my life.
I learned that I have a servant’s heart. I need to help others. I need to make a difference. And I need to honor the life I had with Vern.
My involvement with these important Soaring Spirits programs has allowed me to do just that. And I am so very grateful. And if I should happen to find that a new love awaits me in this final season, then I will have Soaring Spirits to thank for that, too.