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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Where Do I Go From Here?



“No more running. It’s you and me, that’s the way it’s going to be, and pretty soon you’ll see it’s you and me, that’s all there’ll ever be.” Jack Wagner of General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful fame wrote and sang those lyrics in The Wedding March, a 2016 Hallmark Channel movie. The storyline of the film reunites college sweethearts, twenty years after they parted, when a venue owned by Jack’s character is booked for his ex-girlfriend’s wedding to another man. Each has a teenaged daughter who helps engineer them back together. Do things like that happen in real life? If someone said to me, “Pretty soon you’ll see it’s you and me, that’s all there’ll ever be,” I’d worry that he’s a psychopath who’s going to lock me up naked and cold in an underground bunker. On the Lifetime Movie Network or in a James Patterson thriller that would be a logical next step.

But for a widow like me who has a predisposition toward melancholia during the month of April, hearing “...it’s you and me, that’s all there’ll ever be” so near my husband’s birthday was a queue to turn me into Sarah Sadness. This is all there’ll ever be. Yup, my time has passed. There’s no do-over to make me feel loved and needed again, no lost love out there to rekindle. That’s not exactly true. I had several serious romances before I met my husband but---jeez, I’ve evolved since my twenties and I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams ever being attracted to same people I was back then. And that, dear readers, is why movie plots like that in The Wedding March brings out the cynic in me. Thomas Wolfe got it right when he wrote, “You can’t go home again.” Did you know that title, that phrase was suggested to Wolfe by the widow of another writer? Ah, yes, another bit of useless trivia to clutter up our brains.

Since Mr. Wolfe used that iconic title it's become a metaphor or shorthand for stating that once we’ve moved forward into the more sophisticated world of adulthood with all its ups and downs, heartaches and headaches, joys and disappointments any attempt to relive our youthful memories will always fall flat and fail. Nothing ever stays the same and we all have to acknowledge that with a blending of sentimentality and longing or loathing---depending on what the world has brought into our lives or we left behind before our coming of age.

In Wolfe’s book is a passage that speaks to me as strong-but-aging woman and widow: “The human mind is a fearful instrument of adaptation, and in nothing is this more clearly shown than in its mysterious powers of resilience, self-protection, and self-healing. Unless an event completely shatters the order of one's life, the mind, if it has youth and health and time enough, accepts the inevitable and gets itself ready for the next happening like a grimly dutiful American tourist who, on arriving at a new town, looks around him, takes his bearings, and says, ‘Well, where do I go from here?’”

Where do I go from here? What widow has not asked that question of herself? What widow gets a clear road map in her head that answers that question? And when do we quit asking ‘where do I go from here?’ Thomas Wolfe had some wise words that could help: “Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” 

Not freezing up is the secret, isn’t it. Even if we have missteps after losing a spouse like me spending a year volunteering at small town museum only to learn it wasn’t a good fit for me. Even if I spent an entire summer looking at condos only to learn I’m not ready to pluck myself up from the known and plop myself down into the unknown. Even if I’m in a perpetual state of unrest. I may not know where I’m going but I’m moving forward, didn’t freeze up. I try a little of this, a little of that and I take away a better understanding of myself and the world around me. And sometimes in my search I leave behind a trail of crumbs in the dust in case I want to back-track to something that intrigues me more than another…like my copy of You Can’t Go Home Again. This is the fifth time I’ve written about Wolfe’s can’t-go-home adage in the five years I’ve been keeping this widow’s blog. This is the fifth April since I met Don in 1970 that we don’t get to celebrate our birthdays together. I don’t know what all this means in the grand scheme of things but if the past can be used to predict the future it’s a safe bet that I’ll be quoting Thomas again same time, next year.  ©

26 comments:

  1. My best wishes are with you to get through this month. I can sympathise. I am also adrift, searching for some meaning and direction in life. I am determined to find it, but gee its a hard slog to get myself out of the bog of despondency.

    Keep up the gym work - that will help overcome mood swings. ~ Libby

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    1. Thanks. My best wishes coming to you, too. Once I get past Easter I'll be out from under the rain cloud.

      I can't believe how much easier it is to fall asleep, on the days when I go to the gym. But I am starting to get tired of the routine. I need to keep it up, though, because I realize who weak I've gotten.

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  2. Sorry this is a sad month for you. Hopefully it will speed right along. Trying to recreate what was before never works, it might be nice to think about it though.

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    1. I only have a week to go to get past all the "dates" that pull me backward. After that I've got two fun, family events coming up so I'm sure I won't stay down for long.

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  3. I'm hoping the second half of this month will slide by more quickly for you. You have so many memories collected in such a short space of time. It's hard. Thomas Wolf (or the writer's widow) was right, you can't go home again. It's a hard truth.

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    1. It will. I'm booked pretty solid next week so I won't have time to think. Plus, writing out my feelings like with this post (and others) is how I process my emotions so I can let them go... until the next Red/Pink Letter Day.

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  4. So sorry, Sara Sadness. Ebb and flow. We know you will get through it but wish we could help in some way. Sharing your words might be all ...

    Can you jazz up your workout routine? Mix it up somehow that might make it easier?

    I wish I could commit to doing something social every day like you do ... but I guess my social these days are the little ones. We are sending Mom and Dad on a date night so we can play!

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    1. I can mix up my work out after my paid training sessions end which should be mid May. Until then, if I don't do the two hours, 3-4 times a week I won't be ready for the next step-up she'll give me. I can see so much improvement that I feel 10 years younger. That's no joke. Getting in and out of the car, picking stuff off the floor, my balance, carrying heavy stuff, putting sheets on my 15" mattress, and so on and so on. The little ones you chase and pick up gives you a workout, I'm sure.

      No tears this April, so that's a great sign.

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  5. Special moments must be so difficult and i do hope you get past this one without too much pain. I can't begin to know what you are going through.
    As for rekindling a past romance, I do know of a couple who did just that. They were high school sweethearts but went to different colleges and went different ways. Both had two children, both lost their spouses but after meeting at a class reunion, they found happiness with eachother. They are now happily married and live down the road from me. So it is not always just a movie script.

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    1. There was a story on the news yesterday about a couple who did the same thing! She's in a nursing home but that didn't stop them from getting married. My own brother went to this (50th) class reunion and reconnected with a classmate and now they are a couple. I still can't even imagine doing that. LOL

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  6. Grief is complex. Sorrow around anniversaries is inescapable. You have remained open to the choices that start appearing after that first awful couple of years. I for one am grateful to have this blog to visit - proof that one of your choices has lead to pleasure and comfort for others, even though it emerged from sorrow.

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    1. Thank you. The same thing happened when I started and kept a caregiver's blog. Writing about the emotional ups and downs did feel like I was helping others in some small way. And I hope the same thing is true for this one.

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  7. I had the reality hit me a couple of weeks ago. I will never have a man in my life again. I've had a man in my life up until 5 years ago. I was married young and them divorced, still young--mid 40's and never ever had to worry about a date for Saturday night or a long term relationship, with lots of fun and travel and someone to talk to. I was tall and blonde and pretty well put together, and every where I went, I noticed guys turning and looking at me or smiling. Now--I'm gray and look like I am put together with left over parts and hardly any men turned to glance. Not that I want another man, but it makes me sad to know that I won't even have the option anymore. HAH!!

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    1. Isn't that a weird feeling! I don't want another man either, but it's a hard realization to know that kind of closeness with a significant other is in the past and never coming back.

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  8. Jean:

    I am so sorry for your loss, thorough your words I have known Don & I miss him too. at the same time I feel change is good for our growth. when we put outside our comfort zone something beautiful does come out of it. I have experienced it in my own life, with our move & now this new volunteering gig I am doing, boy had felt so insecure before attempting, but now feels like it was meant to be. Don't over amalyze everything, just do it because you never know you will end up far beautiful than you had ever dreamed of.

    Asha

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    1. The meme at the top about challenges helping us find out who we are is so true, isn't it. I'm afraid I do analyze everything, it's who I am but that's doesn't mean it stops me from moving forward. I just like to see where I'm at so I can see how far I've come.

      Tell me about the new volunteering gig you've got!
      Whatever it is I hope it's helping to fill your empty nest.

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  9. I admire you Jean. As we've aged I think about this type of thing. I fear it actually. I can only hope that I can deal with this with the same grace and strength.

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    1. You will. From what you've written about your husband and your relationship, I get the sense that it was very much like mine and Don's. Lots of rich memories to treasure.

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  10. Insightful, vulnerable, poignant....a beautiful post. You are moving on in a most gracious, courageous, and loving way. I wonder if you realize what a role model you are for so many others?

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    1. You are sweet to say that, to think that!

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  11. WOW, this blog as a very heavy one Jean. I have no idea what it must be like to lose a spouse but just thinking about losing MaryLou would kill me. I don't know if my life could go on if I know it would. Whoosh, I don't know if can write anymore today. I'm just going to have to comprehend about all that you wrote. Until then my friend, have a blessed Good Friday. See ya Jean.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. You would go on, Paul, because you have kids and grandkids you'd have to be strong for and who would need you to. That's not to say you wouldn't deal with a lot of pain and heartache but I firmly believe strength comes to us when we need it the most.

      Enjoy the nice weather and hopefully the golf course.

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  12. OK. I confess. I grinned when I read, "Where do I go from here? What widow has not asked that question of herself?" I think that's a question we all ask of ourselves, whatever our circumstances. I don't write about my personal experiences on my blog, and I won't, but believe me -- I know about what it takes to pick up and move on. I hope the rest of the month goes well for you, and that you'll find ever more creative ways to move into the future.

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    1. It already is better since I wrote this.

      I spill my guts about almost everything and you blog without writing much about your personal experiences which makes you all the more fascinating. LOL

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  13. It appears you have many friends who truly care for you, this is a blessing for sure because they will always be here for you when this time of year comes around, I see my Mom go through the exact same thing each year on the anniversary of my Step Dads passing.

    "I may not know where I’m going but I’m moving forward" I like this statement and in my mind it sums it up, as long as you continue to move forward you will be OK

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    1. I tend to forget that people care and that if I truly needed something, they'd be there in a flash to help. I just don't like asking and being "needy."

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the great comments.

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