Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Tremendous Silence of Loss

Last week I got my first ever professional pedicure. It felt good to be pampered with the hot towels, a mud mask, nail shaping and callus removal. Even the silliness of having my toenails painted was fun although you’d have to look real hard to see the fleshed colored enamel. The only down side to getting them done was the sticker shock. I can’t believe I just paid $45 plus tip to do something I’ve been doing for myself all of my life. What does toe nail pampering have to do with widowhood? Mostly it has to do with being a widow who used to be her spouse’s caregiver. That’s not an easy transition to make. At first it felt like I was on vacation and soon things like piles of laundry would be calling me back, but that didn’t happen. I’m down to two loads a week with just me in the house. Don was messy. The subtleties of living without him come at me every day, in every way, big and small.

I got an invitation in the mail to attend a meeting for recently widowed people and in the brochure were the words: We understand the tremendous silence of loss. For days I’ve been repeated that phrase in my head---the tremendous silence of loss---trying to figure out exactly what it means. Silence, taken in the literal sense, is one of those not so subtle ways my life has changed since Don’s passing. He generated a lot of noise plus I’ve put myself into a noise block-out zone, not turning on the TV first thing in the morning, going most of the day with only the dog’s barking to break into the silence. It wasn’t a conscious decision to do so and I’ve often wondered if I haven’t been doing a 21st century version of an 18th century mourning ritual that required blocking light from coming in the windows, stopping the clock, wearing black and remaining inside to read the Bible.

The tremendous silence of loss could also mean that people quit talking to you. Or so I’m told. I’m not far enough into the process to experience what others report regarding friends and family who get uncomfortable when you mention your deceased spouse. So widows and widowers quit talking about the one thing they still want to talk about. I have my blogs. Heck, if no one in my real-time world wants to hear “Don stories” then I’ll write about him and send my memories out into the universe where someone in year 2512 might find them and say, “She was one crazy widow.” Don was part of my life for 42 years. My memories of all the major and minor events of my last 42 years involved Don. If I can’t mention them or him without making others uncomfortable, then the tremendous silence of loss will be like a knife carving up my heart.

As my friend Scarlet would say, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow.” Today I’m lucky that society is still indulging me, still listening when I speak his name. But in the back of my mind I’ve got my family and friends under my widow’s microscope looking for signs that it’s time for the tremendous silence of loss to worm its way into our relationships. At that point I might not go quietly into the night. I might do like my husband did when he lost his ability to speak all but a handful of nouns after his stroke. He sang non-sense songs at the top of his lungs, making sure the house was still filled with the rich sound of his voice...until a few days before he died.

The tremendous silence of loss is speaking volumes in my head. ©

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