This week, I am preparing myself for camp. Soon, I get to be a small part of the fifth Camp Widow West created by Soaring Spirits International (http://www.sslf.org/). It is a weekend put together specifically for those who have been widowed…no matter what the circumstances or situation. It is in lovely San Diego. It is in the same area where Dave and I often vacationed. It is a place of hope and solidarity. It is a place of laughter and heartbreak all rolled into one. I remember the thing that struck me most when I attended several years ago… the only common thread…being widowed. To see so many men and women who had suffered this great loss come together to share their struggle, their hope, and their stories was inspiring.
This year, I am going back as a volunteer. Volunteering is a more natural state of being for me…participant is really hard for me. I know that although I wear the volunteer badge at this one, I will still be participant, whether I like it or not. I know that I will listen to the story of others’ loss and I will share mine. I know that my heart will break as I listen to the newly widowed and that I will be inspired by those who have survived this journey longer than I have. It is a bittersweet place. It is filled with broken hearts that still smile, laugh, and continue to face a life they had never imagined. It is amazing to see how people turn tragedy into miracles. It increases my hope and gives me the courage to thrive in my unexpected life.
So as I prepare, I get ready to face the heartbreak of others. I get ready to experience my own loss in a new way. I get ready to share my story with those who will hear it. I have the wonderful opportunity to meet some of my heroes! I get to be with the other bloggers who share their stories. I get to listen to the stories of those who have created a place of healing for so many, including themselves. I get to remember and see how much I’ve changed over the years too.
This year, the boys are coming to San Diego with me. I was going to go alone, but then thought about sharing the inspiration with them and the value and the possible impact that it might have in their lives. They don’t often see this part of loss. They don’t often see people other than us surviving the loss. It can be an isolating experience losing a spouse, or in their case, a parent. They will have the opportunity to see others who walk the same walk every day. They will meet other children who share similar struggles, sorrow, joy, and hopefully understand that we are not alone on this journey. They will get to see a part of me that they don’t really see too. They don’t pay much attention to the writer mom they have…sure, sometime they see the books come in the mail and they know that I write. They might see that what I do has a bigger role than just me sitting at my desk. They might see that words are healing. They might see that sharing our story not only brings healing to us, but may bring comfort to others. They might experience the solidarity of hope and healing that I have been privileged to experience. I hope they are comforted. I hope they are inspired. Even if they are not, that will be ok.
So as I prepare, I think about all the other people who will attend. I wonder how I will be changed by their stories. I wonder how I will be inspired. I look forward to the unexpected…and for me that is huge! Looking forward to something isn’t always a part of my life anymore…it is a more rare and precious thing. Looking forward to the unexpected is an adventure! I am so grateful to have this adventure ahead of me! Camp Widow…here we come!
***Important Note – Camp Widow West is an adult experience for those who have lost a partner or spouse. My children are not attending this event, but are accompanying me on my trip. Their experience will be based on seeing my participation as a volunteer, not as participants. They will be spending time with friends and family while I volunteer.***