Thursday, February 18, 2016

What My Husband Taught Me

What My Husband Taught Me

I’m Tamara, Joe Bower’s wife (widow is just too messed up to say most days still).  First of all I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and prayers through that horrid six days after Joe had a Cardiac Arrest.  The support, love and heartfelt emotions were very comforting through the dark times as we spent time with Joe during his last days in the hospital.  After Joe died there was and still is an outpouring from people sharing their experiences and stories. So many people tweeted, facebooked or called telling tales of how they met Joe or how they learned from him, how his blog affected them or influenced them, how Joe was as a teacher or as a friend. These are memories me, our kids, nieces and nephews and all of our family and friends will cherish.

Many people have followed my husband's blog or twitter for his ideas and beliefs in the education world, they followed him for his stand in his own teaching and his pride in not following the norm for conventional teaching. He also undoubtedly had charismatic humour that people got when speaking with Joe or through tweets and messages. Joe definitely had an ardor for learning that has overflowed into my life.
I don’t blog, I have never had the desire to blog, but with Joe's passing away I do want to share what my husband taught me personally so far, as a tribute to him.  

Ever since Joe has passed grief has entered my life and the life of our two children. In this short time grief has been a learning experience for me that I am trying to work through for myself as a wife and as a mother to our children. Losing Joe has been akin to having my soul torn in two; he literally was my other half. It's a giant gash that will heal in its own way but with lord knows how much scar tissue and the process will be there for the rest of my life, I believe it will shape and change me and know that it already has. Our two children cry for their daddy and have the biggest hole in their hearts that no one can fill. Watching my children grieve for their father every day brings so much pain to the depths of my soul and I console them to the best of my ability but it's not daddy holding them in his arms and he never will again. I feel like grief is like eeyores rain cloud, it follows you everywhere relentlessly. Grief will destroy you, it will strip you to the last fibre of your being and that's where I get to decide if I will build myself back up a little stronger each time or grief will keep me down. Destroyed.   A mere shadow of who I am.  With Joe as my husband, I know that he would say that option is not a choice, it's not even on the table.  Joe would disapprove of rolling over whole heartedly, he fought for change, he fought for better, he fought and protected those he loved and I love and respect him enough to not tarnish what we shared together and instead I am trying to learn how to work through this grief and grow to become a better person.

At first when Joe died, I just tried to stay afloat, I tried not to drown in grief, and so I started researching it.  I started learning what to do so that I could deal with the turmoil within me, so that I could start to heal and appreciate all Joe had given me and how to help our kids.  Yes our life together was 60 years too short but he gave me so much love, companionship and experiences in 17 years I don't want to lose the beauty of those memories.  Joe was an amazing husband, he was my pillar, he was a man who unconditionally loved me (lord knows no one is perfect) and through that love taught me what true unconditional love is.  Joe taught me self confidence and awareness to a level I didn't realize I had achieved, until sadly I no longer had him to fall back on.  You can’t be with someone as long as we were together and not have them rub off on you (I know I made Joe pretty amazing too!!)  Joe taught me how to research to the deepest level on a topic that is sitting in your craw and feels horrid and you just have to fix it.  Joe was obsessed with figuring out how to do it better and then cross examined it to make sure it was backed up and made sense and fit the situation and then he figured out how to apply it to everyday life.   I have learned from Joe that your emotional life is in your power, Joe was huge on CBT, retraining your brain, physical activity to get the mind healthy, social workers and psychologists aren’t your enemy (assuming they are knowledgeable and advocating for the right reasons), finding a hobby that draws you like a magnet and friends and all of our family being crucial for support.  I have done lots of research and my learning will continue to do so as things change. I have decided that the days that I can manage it grief is my companion and I can cry, tell stories, look at pictures and read his blogs but I can still live, I can still laugh, and I am learning how to deal with grief so it doesn't control me. Grief and I are walking through a new, lonely, scary life as companions.  My hope is that as I learn more and heal that grief starts to take even more of a  back burner and is a memory not a companion and a new stronger me evolves from this that can remember all the awesome times Joe and I had together, all of our memories together good and bad are what made us a couple, what made us love each other.

Because of Joe I have become a stronger person and I am weathering the worst storm I could have imagined, and even though some days I feel as if I was drowning I haven't yet. Joe was larger than life I loved his charismatic power, his assertive self confidence, I loved the affectionate man he was with me, he was my best friend and I will miss him everyday and until the day I die.  I love and adore Joe, I was his and he was mine.  To the best man I know, thank you for being in my life and I love you.

Someone posted this quote on Facebook and I thought it was something Joe would have liked (heck maybe he has already posted it somewhere!)

Josh Shipp

You either get Bitter or you get Better.
It’s that simple.  You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down.  The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.

Tamara Bower

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