Posts tagged ‘widow’

September 30, 2011

The Sweet Double Life of a Widow

We move on. We must. Our partners would want us to keep living, loving, enjoying all that life has to offer. Some of us are mothers. Our kids need us. Some of us get new partners. We have new relationships – passionate, exciting, fulfilling.

And yet, we still carry the unfinished business of a life cut short – stopped in mid-term. So many loose ends to contend with, incomplete thoughts, plans that never materialized, conversations that were never completed, or maybe never even started…

Surviving the loss of a life partner can be a devastating blow. Much has been written about the pain of grief, and the long road to recovery. But even those of us who feel we are on top of our new lives, thriving and functioning well, still have to contend with those familiar waves of unexplained sadness, the strange echoes of past experience that can suddenly permeate present moments.

I love my life. I’ll say that outright. I have lived more intensely, more fully than I could ever have imagined. I’ve seen many sorrowful and harrowing moments, but I have also tapped into deep wells of joy and ecstasy far beyond my craziest dreams. I’m pretty sure the challenges and  hardships I’ve faced have been essential to the development of who I am today.

My current lesson is all about embracing the sensations of my past without fearing them. Rather than characterize them as haunting memories, I prefer to think of them as gifts of remembrance. They really do flavor my days with a kind of shadowy edge that gives distinction and dimension to the shape of my current experience. Similar to the way certain songs just pull at my gut with a kind of energetic drive flavored by deep longing, simple everyday joys are often tinged by nostalgia, regret, or out and out sadness. And honestly, I don’t mind.

The greatest challenge is in not allowing the patterns of my past to define my path forward. I sometimes feel as though the walls are closing in, trapped by a sense that history is repeating itself, and I am powerless to prevent it. Until I’m reminded that I can choose differently now. I can move forward in any direction I want. Nothing is stopping me except my own inertia, my own fear, my own allegiance to my past.

 

Two quick anecdotes:

This week I drove to visit friends in Long Island, a trip I’ve taken many times. Faced with terrible traffic jams, on a whim, I decided to follow a different route suggested by my GPS. At first it made me feel a bit anxious, off-balance. But it turns out that we got there just fine, and I saw a whole other part of my friend’s neighborhood that I’d never seen before, and it was really beautiful. On the return trip, I did a similar thing, explored a highway I’d never even been on before, and learned a whole new way home.

Back in the day when my husband used to endure three or four harrowing hospitalizations each year, sometimes up to a month in duration, there was this one moment I always used to love. On the day of his discharge, he – weak and a little unsteady from the weeks of terrible pain, infections or other complications he had survived, me – relieved at the coming respite from daily visits to this place, we would walk together slowly through the hospital corridor, hand in hand, taking in the sights and sounds of life all around us. Our breathing was always calm, we were quiet, and the joy flowed silently between us as we reflected on where we had been and prepared to take in our first breaths of renewed freedom together.

Photo courtesy of criswatk

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September 20, 2011

Holy shit, I’m a single mom!

What? Was I not paying attention? Do you have any idea how not ready I am for this?

So of COURSE I’m blogging. What the hell do you expect? You would be, too, if you were in my position.

My life is filled with the joyful chaos of a seemingly endless array of interconnected interests, passions, struggles and desires.

And yet, I am somehow expected to create a sense of order and rhythm for a growing mind, security and safety for a developing spirit, offer a stable home, nutritious food, adequate clothing, academic support and all manners of extra-curricular activities. So whom am I talking about here, me or my son?

Stuff I gotta think about now – FOR TWO!

1) Developing a routine – things need to be done at certain times. Like getting to school when it starts, washing your hands when you come home, doing homework before you start playing or watching movies. Dinner before dessert.

2) Learning how to talk to people – Ya gotta have respect for authority (this one is tough). I came up in the “Question Authority” days. I love my kid’s spirit, but you have to know when to just nod your head and say, OK. Like EVERY TIME I TELL HIM TO DO SOMETHING!!!

3) Eating well – Stop with all the sugar! It rots your teeth, messes with your blood and all your internal organs, and makes our emotions far too difficult to control. Seriously, do we need any more challenge in that regard?

4) TV, B’bye! – It started as a budget cut. Now I see that unplugging from the cable was one of the best things we ever did. Sure I miss the latest episodes of Chopp’d, and Project Runway is a thing of the past, and yes, I missed the premiere of my friend’s new documentary on VH1 the other night. But seriously, we get more done now. You’re reading this blog, aren’t you? And I actually sleep more. I’m pretty sure my dreams are more therapeutic to my brain than marathons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

5) Walking – This school year, I am walking my son to school every morning, and picking him up on foot, too. I think my ass is getting into better shape. And, we talk about lots of stuff on our long strolls. Plus, now we’re getting in the habit of taking an evening walk after dinner with my neighbor and her daughter. It’s fun, and relaxing. Taking a break from the computer once in a while is pretty helpful, too…

6) Doing fun things on weekends – I admit, we do go on some cool adventures. That playdate out in Coney Island with his friend from summer camp was awesome. They had a pool and everything.

7) They do get older – Eventually, they don’t need you with them 24/7. Oh, you’re complaining now, but just wait until they go whizzing up the street on their scooters, bicycles, whatever…  You’ll be happy for the freedom… even as you imagine every type of torturous accident and disaster in the world befalling your kid.

8)  Hey look, I’m a soccer mom! – Some of these Dads take this shit so seriously! But I can coach from the sidelines as good as any of em. Without trying to relive my youth.

9) Homework – Polishing up those rusty math skills. (sigh) It is what it is…

10) It just doesn’t stop. Every day, you wake up, and they’re still there. They need to be fed, watered, bathed, comforted, entertained, protected, disciplined and inspired. And your stuff? Oh yeah, you have to find time to deal with that too. Like your JOB. Your physical and emotional health. Cleaning up your dwelling. Maintaining SOME SENSE OF ORDER to your own life.

And yes, there are those mornings when I just can’t get out of bed, and the best I can do is to mumble, “go fix yourself a bowl of cereal and let me sleep some more,” while he parks it in front of Sponge Bob for an hour or two (thank you Netflix).

Photo courtesy of obyvatel

May 8, 2011

Welcome to My Blog

Like every good self-involved writer, I feel the need to step back for a moment and write about what I’m going to write about. Just to make sure I pound the obvious deeply into the dirt. But more importantly, I want you to know just how important you, the reader, are to me.

The writing I’ll be sharing with you will fall into roughly three categories: stuff about me, posts about creative people or events that inspire and delight me, and political or social stuff that I think has some kind of significance or value beyond the boundaries of my self. Sometimes the thing I write may fall into more than one category, and I’ll have to double categorize it. I may sweat this process longer than necessary, so bear with me.

This post, however, falls squarely into the personal category. I want you to understand a bit more about me and why you matter so much.

I am at my best when I’m writing letters. I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of boundariless sharing with friends, freedom to flit from one topic to another and cement my relationship in whatever random ways feel good at the moment. I might throw in some keen observations, progress updates, self-deprecating jokes, sardonic comments or heartfelt confessions. When you receive a letter from me, you will definitely recognize that you have been included in something very personal. I put a lot into my letters, and often feel like I need a nap after I’ve completed one.

This will not be a letter. I do not know you well enough yet.

However, I am prone to sharing, and I do need to reveal a certain amount of my psyche in order to feel that something genuine has happened here, so there will be a few takeaways.

A few basic facts. First of all, I am a solo parent of an eight year old boy named Josiah. He is perhaps my biggest inspiration, as well as my biggest responsibility and concern. More often than not, he delights and entertains me beyond belief, and you can expect me to share a lot of stories about him.

Secondly, I am a widow. I lost my husband Ivor in October of 2009, to a terrible disease (one of the suckiest I know of) called sickle cell anemia. Ivor and I were together for just about 22 years, and during that time I experienced more than my share of stresses related to living with a chronically and progressively ill partner, including dealing with hospitals, medication, financial pressure, and a decreasing ability to live life in a lighthearted, spontaneous manner, not to mention the psychic pressure of impending death. However, I also experienced a profound understanding of what is important in life, how to not sweat the little things while valuing the precious gifts of love and family and friendship and small pleasures like cooking and eating yummy food, planting flowers, watching a great movie, having a good stretch in the morning…

The paradoxes inherent in this huge portion of my life have provided me with enough material to write about for quite some time. I have experienced so much, and I am interested in so many things, plus, I know SO MANY amazing people, and I want to tell you about ALL OF IT. In some ways, it feels beyond my control. This stuff is pouring out of me right now, and I’m just going with it, delivering it as fast as I can.

But here’s the thing. I really need to know you’re out there. It’s hard for me to get invested if I think I’m talking to myself. It’s a blog, not a diary. I do know the difference. And like an actor who thrives on the immediacy of performing for a live audience in the theater, I need to know that someone’s actually receiving the energy I’m putting into these words.

So subscribe to my blog. Tell your friends about it. I promise, there will be a great variety of topics and ideas covered here. Comment on my posts! I’ll respond…

If you get bored, you can always move on to the next thing. But I’m betting you won’t.

Photo courtesy of Hamed Saber