Each of my experiences has been different - mainly due to how far out I was from losing Vern.
- I was 11 months out for my first camp in San Diego in August 2011. I was afraid of going where I knew no one except for the Widowed Village friends I had met online. It was emotional, but it was exactly what I needed at that time. I had found my tribe. People who got it, who understood how hard it is to move forward when you've lost the love of your life. And a very special friendship came out of that camp (♥ Lisa M).
- My second camp in Myrtle Beach in April 2012 was the first East Coast camp and it was amazing. The hotel is right on the beach, so I was able to go out to the ocean whenever I felt the need (I feel a close connection to Vern whenever I'm at the ocean's edge). It's a smaller hotel, a smaller number of campers, it felt comfortable. And I finally was able to meet a very young widow with 2 children who I had such a special connection to in Widowed Village (♥ Crystal)
- My third camp in San Diego in August 2012 was the first time (well, the only time, actually) that I drove Vern's Mustang alone to California. That was a big step. I even stopped at Crystal Pier ... really, really hard and I could not stay ... but at least I walked up to cottage #9 and embraced those memories. Baby steps. Made possible because of Camp Widow.
- This year's East Coast camp was again at Myrtle Beach - I still love that ocean-front location - but it was different, because it was my first one as the Soaring Spirits National Volunteer Coordinator. An excellent learning experience ... and a reinforcement of my need to change my ways when it comes to my procrastination and delegation issues. I was finally able to meet a long-time online friend from NPRs Our Cancer (♥ Kathie - I do hope I'll have another opportunity to spend some time with you) and another special friendship was made with an amazing woman (♥ Debi). I can assure you I will be better prepared for this year's West Coast camp in June so I'm able to carve out time for these special connections. They are the heart of Camp Widow.
I remember when I first joined Widowed Village and saw people who were 2, 3, 4 years out from their loss still there ... thinking OMG, please do not let that be me. And yet there I am still. I now get it. Those who are further out can help provide HOPE to those who follow. We can show them that you CAN survive this ... the pain, the loneliness, the sorrow, the fear. That you CAN find a reason to get up each morning, to find some joy, to learn how to do new things, to be comfortable being alone, to give something back to this world. And there are some who do continue to struggle as the years pass - and we can be there to hold their hands, to assure them they are not alone in this journey ... because it sure can feel that way some days. (I'll always be there for you ♥ Lisa W)
So I'm back home now, catching up at work, catching up at home, catching up on my sleep ... and looking forward to my 5th Camp Widow in just 9 weeks. 9 weeks?!?! Oh dear ... I'd better get busy! If you're coming and you want to volunteer ... let me know!!!