Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Fighting, Always Fighting

Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Posted By: 
Diana Gumushian

Lately, I’ve felt like everyone’s punching bag. Over last few weeks I have dissected, replayed, relived and questioned many of the decisions and choices I have made. This time of year is difficult as I approach the anniversary of Joe’s death. The general chaos of summer, increasingly difficult schedule demands of work, my son starting and completing a 4 week high school accelerated class, and trying to keep up with my own emotions, feels overwhelming. My recently fractured relationship with my parents, and my need to make some difficult decisions regarding my contact with them, has made it almost unbearable to shoulder. But I have been through far worse. And I am still here standing.

Sometimes I feel like it is all relative-that all the decisions I make, the advice I give, the compassion I feel, the stubbornness I exhibit, the tenacity to never give up (even if I should), and the ability to trudge on (long after I should have been able to) are all rooted in that one defining moment-becoming a widow. I need to prove to myself, over and over, that I am not going to let it define me. I know I am a better mom because of it. Not that I wasn’t a good one before, but I am just more determined to be here and make their lives better. I struggle with being soft and hard; open and closed off; making allowances with people in my life, and drawing lines in the sand when they are necessary (usually much later than I should have). As much as I DON’T want it to define me, I know that it does.

I had a sobering thought in one of my recent insomnia fueled moments-it is LIFE that is defining me, not death. I need to make my choices based on living, and on our collective futures, not our past. Joe’s death was a defining moment, but wasn’t the end of the fight. As much as it cut me down at the knees, beat me down, knocked me on the mat, and left me a battered and aching mess, I still got up. Life tried to knock me around, and I’m a mess, but I’m still standing, still here. I have to make the most of the time I have. Over and over I try to reassess, readjust, and keep going forward. LIFE keeps swinging at me, reminding me where I was, and where I am, and how I got here. It knocks me down, face to the mat, mocking me. In defiance, I pull myself up again.

I was reminded of a somewhat poignant quote from the character Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, someone not necessarily known for his eloquence with words. It reads as follows: The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you down to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. We’ve all been there- weary, beaten, broken. We all struggle with getting up again, knowing very well, we could get clobbered all over. But the triumph comes from the strength within…to go forward, to change, to evolve, become stronger…and keep getting up. As much as I feel defeated, I refuse to give up. I will keep pulling myself up and moving forward, no matter how many times I stumble and fall. And that is the lasting, defining thing that has come from widowhood... I will not give up.


Excellent essay. I'm 6.5 years of widowhood and can relate much of your journey. Best summation I've heard in a long time: "I will never give up." Me either.

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