Coming Clean, Guilt and All !

I have a guilty secret.

 I am happy.

Gloriously, head over heals happy in this life.

Why a guilty secret you ask?

If you have known me for at least a year, you know my story.

Our story really. Marty and I. Our love, his illness, his sudden death and us becoming me on my own.

The strongest man in the world four months before we hit the wall.
The strongest man in the world four months before we hit the wall.

This isn’t where I fill in all that backstory. How completely entwined our lives were. Personally and professionally.

No. This is about me and where I am now on the other side of the rubble and dust in the wake of a life that was no more. His life. Our life. My life.

A few weeks before we learned the truth.
A few weeks before we learned the truth.

When I spoke at Marty’s Memorial Service I made a promise…

‘The man wanted nothing more, ever, than for me to be happy and healthy. I will give him nothing less. Happy and healthy I will be.”

I have created my own business which is ever evolving and growing into one of my biggest joys.

Who knew?

I met a boy!

Darryl Hannah took this photo!
Darryl Hannah took this photo!

Forty years ago. We make me happier than I ever imagined I could be again.

That’s right, we, because I was and am happy as me.

This is not where I go into the backstory about the boy and we.

This says so much about us in all the right ways.
This says so much about us in all the right ways.

It’s about me and how I have moved north away from the twirly mountain and have settled into a new community with family, old friends and new and you.

Yes you and all who knew Marty and me when we were we.

That’s where the guilt comes in.

How I tell myself a story about how you will judge me and shake your heads in wonder at how I can be in this new we. Chris and me.

I imagine how you think to yourselves, ‘Well now, wasn’t that quick? Shouldn’t she still be mourning and reveling in her grief? Did she even love him at all. No, she couldn’t possibly have or she would still be..’

What? Crying myself to sleep? Reliving his last weeks, days, moments and grieving for a love and a life that was over way too soon? Missing the man deeply and hoping I gave him as good as he gave me?

Here’s another secret. I still do.

I am still a widow. That doesn’t change just because I have found love again.

It does not lessen what was, what is and what will be.

In October I was at Emerging Women15 in San Fransisco and reconnecting with women I met the year before who were just meeting me, hearing my story that was barely two weeks raw.

One woman, while we were catching up, told me my eyes sparkled and I looked deeply happy.

Guilt rose up and I got ready to apologize for my happiness and instead, out of my mouth tumbled…

“ I am! I kept my promise to Marty to be healthy and happy.”

In that very moment, I owned our happiness. I took vows when we were married, I fulfilled those vows, ‘Till death do us part’ and I kept my promise that I made that gloriously sunny, September day in Brooklyn along the river, overlooking Manhattan.

I am happy and I am healthy.

And with that, I’m out.

Breathe, smile, DANCE!



When weakness looks like strength

Doing taxes.

Why so late?

Because it was the last day Marty​, felt like himself and had so much hope.

We did them together, always, like everything else. A team.

He always said, ‘Together we can do/be/fix anything/everything. Together.’

He ate that day. All. Day. Long.

All the forward steps into my new normal slip away on days like today.

I spiral down an unending slope paved with vaseline and there is no way to catch myself.

No way.

All the things I have been told over these months;

‘You are such an inspiration.’

‘You are the strongest person I know.’

‘Where do you think I get my strength from?’

I am not those things. I am a complete and utter mess. Today. Today.

How do I get through? How do I come out the other side? Upright, smiling, full of joy and looking for the sun?

Pacing, holding my head in my hands trying to stop it from exploding, tears streaming…..

and music blasting in my ears, headphones. His headphones.

Locked and loaded on Foo Fighters.

Today. So I can’t hear yesterday.

Drowning out all the pain, shutting out the voice, my voice, that tells me how I failed, how I am still failing….fault, fault, mine.


In the months that led to the day that I can not forget I would find reasons to go out into the world.

I would climb into the drivers seat of the Jetta and turn on the music loud enough that I couldn’t hear that voice, my voice, in my head.

The voice asking the questions. All the fucking questions…

‘How will I get through this?’

‘What more can I do?’

‘If I just spend some more time researching, searching…….I will find the answer. The magic juice, pill, plant, solution…answers.’

‘You are losing him, losing everything….see? You didn’t deserve any of it, you’ve always known that.’

‘Why are you crying? You have the easy part. You fucking weak ass bitch.’

‘Just keep driving….’

When strength feels like weakness.

Choices I say, it’s all about choices.

I choose.

Happiness. Health. My new normal. All the love in the world. All the big feels.

Choose more. Today I choose so much more.

To remember more. To feel it. All of it. Out of it.

To live out fucking loud.

To make it.

To take up more space.

To be more badass.

To expand my tribe.

To make a difference.

To lift people up.

To reach out.

To be better.

To know better.

To slide back and bloody my hands grabbing hold of the smallest chance to regain balance.

To fall and always get the fuck back up.

To be scared and wave away the demons who whisper me awake at 3, 4 & 5 AM.

To walk through this world like I belong in it.

To dance until pain turns back into joy and then dance some more.

To love more. Love. Love. Love.



Judgement & Guilt

Hello Judgement and Guilt, better known as dragons three and four, the evilest of twins.

You feed each other and feed off of each other in a dysfunctional chum fest that hurts my head and rattles my well being.

My being well.Yin_Yang_Dragons_by_ThunderingNight

My heart knows that I am allowed, I am deserving, of happiness. Of all the love I can scoop up from this world. Everyone is.

My soul knows that Marty wanted nothing more than for me to be healthy and happy. Always.

If the tables were turned and please know that I feel that they should have been. It should’ve been me. I am a good person, a loving and extremely giving person but he was more than those things.

I asked Boy to Man Wonder if he could tell me one thing Marty had taught him about life one night while we sat across from each other at Brown’s Brewing Company. It only took him a moment to answer.

‘Selflessness. I now know what that word means.’

I smiled and choked back emotion because that was what Marty taught us all. If there was one universal truth he taught everyone, selflessness was it.

I am quite certain that not one person would ever come to the same conclusion about me.

As time rolls on and the journey into my new normal takes on more milage, Judgement and Guilt have become my constant companions.

As the boundaries of my happiness expand, Judgement whispers into my ear while Guilt shakes it’s head in a disapproving manner. The result?  My skittering backwards, unbalanced, on the road of new normal and then hours, sometimes days, of reconciling the voices in my head back around to the reality of my deserving happiness.

In that unbalanced place I lose myself a little, flailing in the dark among the beating wings and red hot chaos of the yet unnamed dragons in my head.

It’s there that I must make a choice. It’s always about choices isn’t it?

I can choose to drown in the familiar darkness and pain, after all its familiarity is comforting and Judgement and Guilt would like nothing more than to wrap me in their wings and sway into eternity.

But I choose to slay.

Jaw set, heart pounding, head aching, hands shaking…I choose to slay.

My core desired feelings are; Joy, connection, community, humility, passion and grace.

Judgement and Guilt, you bring me none of that and so you must go.

I release you. You serve me no more.


Another Day, Another Dragon

Well hello Dragon number two.

Your name is Blind Sided Grief and I don’t like you.

IMG_3722_1At. All.

A commercial came on Tuesday night and tore me in half. I went from smiley and full of joy to kicked in the stomach, can’t breathe in half a breath.

It started innocently enough with a cancer patient and his wife and then he puts on some music and puts his hand out to her, they come together and dance.

It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.

During Marty’s hospital stay at Lenox Hill, when they put in the stints that let him enjoy food again for a few weeks, we had our own slow, beautiful dance.

I was taking the train in every day, staying until the evening before taking the train back home.

It was two weeks of car, train, taxi and taxi, train, car. Between the taxi rides was hours spent trying to sooth the pain out of the strongest man in the world long enough for him to get some much needed rest and stop worrying about not being at work because he had trained his crew so well.

One day when I showed up there was a man playing guitar and singing out in the hallway. Marty was sitting there, his brow furrowed in pain concentrating on the music.

I leaned in and kissed his forehead was rewarded with a smile and went to the ladies room.

When I came back, I sat down next to him and took his hand. The guitar player was just starting a new song and as I listened to the first notes, I broke out in a huge smile.

It was Dean Martin’s, That’s Amore.dancers-embrace-reza-sepahdari

Marty use to blast that song after I’d had a stressful day at work and would slide into the room lip synching the song making it impossible for me not to smile and laugh. Which was, of course, the point.

Marty stood up and held out his hand to me and we danced. There in the hospital corridor, we held each other and danced, IV pole and all. I looked into his eyes and asked if he had requested it and he just smiled and pulled me closer.

As we danced, the staff all came to watch, poking heads out of rooms, leaving their desks and just watched with smiles and when the song ended, not a dry eye could be found.

We later talked about how we should dance more not knowing that it would turn out to be our last dance.

That’s the thing about life, you just never know.

It was fitting and true though. He had been pulling me into a dance since the day he walked into my life. No matter the place, if a song came on that touched his heart, we danced. Parks, food courts, the streets of NYC, Paris, London and Rome. We danced.

Today Marty would have been 44.

Forty four.

So, if you are moved to honor him in some way today, take a moment, pick a song that touches your heart and extend you hand to that special someone and dance.

Blind Sided Grief I release you. I release you.


Slaying Dragons

How do you decide the day when you will begin pulling the dragons out from that darkest place inside your head where you’ve kept them all this time?

You don’t. They decide.

No longer content to be set aside and well fed, they want to be a part of the light and spread their wings fully while ripping open every still tender part of who you are.

In that moment two things happen; you run to the toilet and expel everything that hasn’t made it’s way past your stomach and in the midst of that gut wrenching that’s pulling you inside out, you just know, it’s time.

When Dragons Call
When Dragons Call

At least, that’s how it happened for me.

I had decided that at the beginning of this year to begin writing my stories but every time I tried, they wouldn’t come. I berated myself for being weak and sat myself down a couple times a week and forced myself to try to make it happen.


But today, the last day in February, the dragons woke up.

Is it because his birthday is this Thursday? Maybe.

And here’s the thing, I want it all to myself. Every fucking bit of it. I want to gather it up away from everyone else no matter that they loved him too, no matter that he touched them too, I am fucking tired of sharing. Tired of being gracious, strong and quiet.

Dragon number one, today is your day and your name is Hope.


Hope clung to me after they stabilized him in the ER, in the moment when he was all of himself, all the light back in his eyes, all the sweet, soft light and I could see past what the cancer had stolen and I thought maybe we had reached the place where we’d start the long climb back out of the nightmare.

Hope held my heart as the doctor spoke to me in the hallway while they worked to ready everything to get him up to the Intensive Care unit. I politely listened as he asked if we had talked about what his final wishes were, do not resuscitate orders, living wills and can you act in his stead if he can’t.

I listened with my head but my heart was still seeing that moment before when he was himself.

Hope followed us up in the elevator, down the hall, into his room as he smiled at me.

Hope slipped silently from my side and out of the room when he stiffened and eyes rolled back and away and Rose started yelling for help. I gripped his hand and pleaded, silently, at the head of his bed.

Make yourself small Dawn, they won’t notice, you’ll be able to stay…

How do you end up in the fetal position under a desk in an alcove just outside of the room where the sounds you are listening to are threatening to take away everything you want to hold on to?

You don’t remember but you remember the sounds of your own small screams that become the backing vocals in the soundtrack of your nightmares.

Hope is a fickle bitch.


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