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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sadiversaries, Dreams and Signs from Beyond



It’s hard to believe that I’m closing in on six years since Don died. Sometimes I still feel his presence around me and that’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that fades as fast as it comes. At other times, it seems like a life time ago that I had him in my life and I can barely remember who I was when I was half of a whole. Enough years have gone by now that I have a predictable “widow’s cycle” in the weeks leading up to his sadiversary. For me, that manifests itself by increasing my dream life. Every night for nearly a week now I woke up either in a near panic or upset because the guy who’d been my best friend and soulmate for 42 years was lost and I couldn’t find him or I could see him but he’s always just out of reach no matter how fast I run in my dreams. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume that while my daytime brain has accepted my reality my nighttime brain still fights against it. I hate the first half of January but I know as soon as his sadiversary date passes, the dreams will stop. In the meantime, when a dream wakes me up I can’t fall back to sleep. And so in the middle of the cold, sleepless nights it all comes back…the missing him, the loneliness and the regrets. 

I would worry about my “widow’s cycle” if I thought it was abnormal to have one this far out but having talked with friends and acquaintances who have fifteen to twenty years under their widow’s belts, I know it’s common to have varying degrees of depression or anxiety leading up to their own sadiversaries. It’s the ‘what if’ thoughts that are hard to push aside around the time our husband’s died---even for widows who have filled their lives with meaningful things to do. For me, the isolation of winter adds another layer of anxiety and thank goodness that I’ve got a mouthy schnauzer who doesn’t care about anything but getting what he wants, when he wants it. Sometimes I wonder what would happen to me in the winters if I didn’t have him pushing me around. Let me out! Let me in! Give me a treat! Time for breakfast. Treat---Give! Me! One! Right! Now! Play with me. Let me out again. Let me in! Levi goes on like that all day long. If not for him barking orders at me, my Fitbit wouldn’t rack up nearly as many steps per day as it does. 

I was supposed to go to a rescheduled Red Hat Society Christmas party today but it got canceled. Again. And it won’t be rescheduled a second time although there is talk of having a party later on to welcome spring when it comes or a Christmas in July party. The temperatures are barely above zero, it will be snowing all day and it’s too cold for the salt trucks to do any good on the icy roads. At least I’ll get to keep the scarf I bought for the gift exchange. I seriously didn’t want to give it away. I even plotted that I could “accidently” forget to bring it to the party as an excuse for not taking part in the game they play to exchange gifts. I’ve never done that but once at a party with another group where we each got to choose the still-wrapped gift we’d go home, I picked the gift I brought. Why gamble when you know you’ll like the one you bought? That’s my no-excuses thought process. I am what I am.

I’m sitting here pretending I still have something more to write about, but it’s just a stall tactic to avoid going outside to shovel snow and feed the birds. Yes, I gave in last week and bought some bird seed for the ground feeders. I wasn’t going to feed anything but the woodpeckers this winter and I haven’t been since last spring. But I reasoned that there’s too much snow on the ground for any mice that might be in the basement to make their way to the birdseed which is what I was worried about. The fall before last I found a stash of seed in the basement, carefully laid away by some industrious mouse. There must have been fifty saffron seeds carried one at a time across the yard, down the basement wall, across the floor and hidden in a storage box on a shelf. It was such a Herculean task that little mouse accomplished and I felt bad about throwing out his stash and replacing it with d-CON. Why do we punish these gatherers in nature but we feed the birds that don’t plan ahead? And I dislike it when my mind goes to questions like that because some people use that same line of thinking as an excuse for not wanting their tax dollars to go towards helping others who might not have planned well for hard times. I understand that logic but it gives a blind-eye to the Herculean mice-types in our society who did plan ahead but somehow they'd lost their personal "pile of saffron" through no fault of their own. 

As I sat here writing today, I saw a single mourning dove eating at my ground feeder outside the window. She gave me pause for thought because they normally mate for life and it’s very rare to see one traveling along. If they’ve lost their mate they’ll buddy up with another couple. Was her appearance tied into my “widow’s cycle” somehow, someway? A sign from beyond? Sign or not, her appearance made me smile. We are all children of Mother Nature---mice, doves and widows all following her preordained rhythms. ©

34 comments:

  1. I can relate to the sentiments of "..middle of the cold, sleepless nights it all comes back…the missing him, the loneliness and the regrets."

    I'd have done exactly like you and picked up my own gift, knowing that I, at least, would like it! I'm completely off buying gifts at Xmas, birthdays etc (tho' I don't mind buying to give if I see something that I know would give someone I know great pleasure). The news right after Xmas had a report on charity shops being FLOODED with donations - many unwrapped, exxy gifts. Such a waste of time, energy and money.

    +1 also to your thoughts on the hardworking mouse vs feckless bird, and the analogy to humans. We had houses lost in bushfires some years ago. My understanding is that the uninsured got a handout, but zilch help for others. Yes, I know its assistance but just seems unfair.

    Your last para referred to "..single mourning dove", rather than morning dove, and I gave a wry smile. Apt!

    Finally, I am again amazed at how the written word can reveal a personality so clearly. You're a good woman, and person - it shines so brightly and clearly through all your posts. ~ Libby

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    1. The days after Christmas the stores are really busy with returns. Some may be size issues but most are we've all become picker about what we want, me included. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has taken home the gift they brought to a party. I do remember once getting caught doing that when we had to open the gifts and someone asked who it was from.

      I had to go check my bird book to see if I misspelled "mourning" dove. I didn't...at least in this country. Maybe in Australia it's "morning"? Since it was in my last paragraph a spelling mistake would be SO like me to do that you had me going there. LOL

      Losing a house to a mass fire like you did and the people in California are here this past month would be so awful! I don't know how people have the ability to pick themselves up again and rebuild. We are resilient creatures! But then do we really have a choice?

      Thanks for motivating me to keep on blogging, Libby. Comments really makes a difference...

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  2. I'm closing in on 5 years a widow and have found this winter particularly anxious and lost and I am in Fla., so snow and cold are not the issue.
    For me it's the realization that time is moving on and his memory and the years together are dimmer and I don't like that. Also I've done a pretty good job of staying busy...volunteer, few friends I go out with for lunch/dinner etc. but.......it's beginning to seem like just "fluff". And these are new friendships and feel tenuous at times; not solid like old friends over the years.
    Do keep blogging....sometimes I feel like I have more in common with the people I blog with than these friends nearby.

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    1. I could have written your second paragraph! It's exactly the same way I feel.

      I often wonder if we were as open in our offline lives as we are when we write in the blog community if we'd find we have more in common with nearby friends. We can put "it all out there" in a post and others can reject us but we don't know they are doing it. They just don't come back to read again. But offline, if we put it all out there and they reject us, it's hurts!

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  3. Once again Jean you say it all so eloquently. A few months following my husband’s death, I asked my friend if the pain ever lessens? She had lost her dear husband 7 years prior to mine. Her words resonate with me often. Denise, sadly the pain never lessens but your coping mechanism with the pain gets stronger. At the time, her response didn’t help as I just wanted the pain to end but now I’m 7 years out and I totally get it. When these sad dates loom in the near future, I honor the time. I ride the wave through it. I don’t deny myself the sadness, loneliness, regrets etc...I feel. It’s ok. I’m entitled to these feelings. After the days pass, I go on down my path.

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    1. I talked to a woman who was 25 years out from her husband's passing and she said she woke up that morning bawling like a baby. She described it the same way you did---as "riding the wave" and does not recommend denying your feelings, knowing they will be gone with the wave. Your comments help to valid all us widows who experience the "widow's cycle" at our sadiversaies.

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  4. Nicely done. The tone of this post is lovely and reflective; I can tell your Sadiversary Sentiment has evolved so much.

    And I do think you know why we feed the birds and not the mice: we want to always attract the attractive, the beautiful and unable-to-be-possessed. We admire their pretty feathers and their ability to fly and sing and do all sorts of lovely, wonderful things that many of us cannot do. Mice are plain and a nuisance and pests. They are uninvited guests in our home, making a mess and bringing the stigma of an unclean home, disorder, and even disease.

    It's always easy to be kind to the sweet and nice; not so much to the unpleasant and ugly. Mice are sadly on the short end of the stick. I set out traps for them too even as I keep their opportunities at a minimum.

    NEO is getting a warmup starting on Sunday--hooray! I do hope you are, too. It's high time we had a break before Winter breaks all of us.

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    1. We are supposed to get a couple of days over freezing next week, thankfully, but that often brings a lot of fog with all the snow on the ground, so it's still cross-my-fingers that it will be nice enough to run errors.

      Go ahead and spoil my bird/mice metaphor with your common sense about the beauty of birds and the nuisance of mice. LOL But it does beg the question of what part do mice play in the grand scheme of things? And of course, google gave me any answer: "In forests, fields, farmlands and backyards, mice sustain predators of all sizes. They link plants and predators in every terrestrial ecosystem." Hey, some of those predators are birds!

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    2. Sigh. I was actually extending your metaphor (or trying to buttress it) with my comment. (See my third paragraph.) It always upsets me when some politicians and people want to cut social programs for the least among us because, for them, it's easy to turn their backs on people whose problems are unpleasant and messy. They don't realize that when they cut aid to a person who is chronically unemployed, they are punishing his/her innocent children. When they cut afterschool programs in a high-crime neighborhood, they are punishing kids who then have nowhere to go and will become part of the problem because of that. (The "keeping opportunities at a minimum" part of the metaphor.)

      That's okay. Sometimes we can't be on the same wavelength.

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    3. I was joking when I wrote "Go ahead and spoil my metaphor..." and I should know better because humor is the hardest thing to carry off when writing. I totally agree with you've just added to the conversation.

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  5. My DH is still around, so I cannot relate as much with you, but I do have my own sadaversaries like for my sister and other special people I have lost. I can't imagine how I would be.
    I was almost sorry for your industrious mouse, but after a couple sieges in the house, I understand the problem.

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    1. I haven't lost a sibling yet---knock on wood---but I've lost both my parents. But they are someone different because while I still miss mine we expect to out live them.

      I really did feel badly for the industrious mouse, but I just couldn't let him or her stay and maybe breed in the house. No maybe about it, mice breed fast!

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  6. I feel like you ARE my friend! And I definitely write to you more than anyone else besides my sister! I think I will probably be a lot like the widow 25 years out ... he will always be a part of me. Five years in May. So hard to believe.

    Another plus to me living in Oregon is feeding the birds. We have so many more varieties than Maui. Kidlet just made a window tray feeder so the sick boys can lie on the sofa and watch them feeding.

    I must say I am glad we don't have your winters ... having things canceled or NOT attending because I don't drive in scary conditions (or in the dark any more) ... seems more depressing since we were counting on that event.

    Give Don a hug from me!

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    1. Have you ever met someone in person that you've met online? I haven't but I do think it's possible to form friendships that way/this way. You and Judy and I are the only widow bloggers I know who still follow each other and we've been there for each other's transitions. That makes us friends in my book.

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    2. Jean--I've met up with many people I met online through my blog and other forums and have formed several longlasting in-person friendships with them, one of 25 years now!

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    3. Not yet! ALMOST met up with Judy but was sick when they were in town for one night. My goodness they travel a LOT! I may have to tack on a Michigan trip next time I visit my Ohio!!!

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  7. I hope your sadaversary passes almost painlessly and that maybe once in your dreams, you get to catch him and spend the whole dream with him.
    You bring up a good point about mice. Now I am feeling sorry for them. I mean really, if they just had a cutier tail--

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    1. Me too on the 'almost painless' part. Funny you should say that about catching Don in a dream. I did do that once---not recently---but like most dreams the details are lost to me now.

      You had to mention the tail and I had to google "mice with bushy tails" and I found some. Who knew! LOL

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  8. Nice blog Jean. Hopefully the weather will clear up some and you'll be able to get out more. Like seeing a good movie or lunch out. Talk to you soon.

    BL

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    1. Sounds good! I got to Meijer today and it sure felt great.

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  9. One of the interesting things about snow that lies is that you can see the tracks of the animals. I like putting on snowshoes and following the tracks and finding the places where the deer sleep. What the snow does is leave evidence and I can see where the little animals get in the house. We have many times found little heaps of nuts in a corner of a shelf all the way in the back of a cupboard. The mice are busy! But I haven’t seen them in months and I don’t want to! I certainly sympathize with them and why they want to get out of the cold (it’s minus 15 here now) but I don’t want them and in order to keep them at bay, there are lots of little blue pellets around the house. (This is the last because apparently they are now illegal).
    My husband fed the birds years ago but we found the mice and chipmunks would take all the dropped seeds and put them in little hiding places.
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. I've never snowshoed but I've crossed-country skied which is very similar for being able to get out and see animal tracks. Very neat thing to do, so peaceful out in the fields and woods in the winter.

      That's interesting about using snow to see where mice are getting into the house! It would work two sides of my house but two sides have decks and can't get near the foundation. I've through about throwing the pellets under the deck but I guess if the owls and hawks eat a poisoned mouse, then they die, too. I hate mice inside!

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  10. As yes, the sadiversary! And when it comes in the winter with the dark long nights and the dreary day, it just makes that day longer. I'm fine every day, but that one day, brings back every second like I'm watching a movie--and I know the awfully sad ending!

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  11. Jean:

    you write so beautifully, I am in so much awe that you were so fortunate to find love like that it still hurts. isn't that beautiful. I am happily married to my husband for 26 years, though there are some of his things still annoy me & not sure I will miss him the way you miss Don. I do love him he is great dad, & great guy to have in your side when things go wrong, but he is man of few words, & shows his love through his actions, so I joke & tell him I had to get stroke to understand your love. Anyhow thats my story. BTW I love your comparison of birds & mice it does make you think why we punish mice for saving & feed birds who did not save for rainy days. brilliant analogy.

    Asha

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    1. Love is never perfect. Don did many things to annoy me and I'm sure I did similar things to annoy him. When someone you love dies I think it's normal to remember mostly the good things about that person you loved and the rest fades away. It's not just missing him, you also miss who you were with him, if that makes sense. Don was more the kind of guy who showed his love through actions rather than words so we do have that in common. But he wasn't the mushy type at all.

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  12. The best man my Mom married (not my Dad) died in 1996 and she still goes through the same thing you are every single year, it is really hard to lose someone you love, but as they say as long as you have your memories of him then he will never be completely gone.

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    1. So true, Jimmy. It helps that you know as soon as the sadiversary passes, so does the regrets and what ifs. Thanks for sharing that about your mom.

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  13. I have been reading your blog since shortly after my husband passed. That was four and a half years ago. I always think I should leave you a note, but never do. Today is a new day and hopefully the start of a change for me.

    I love your writing and totally agree about the emotional roller coaster of Sadiversaries. I also feel twinges with the anniversaries of his cancer diagnosis and the day I called Hospice. I too have days when I can’t believe he is gone and then the next moment I can’t remember the sound of his voice. I will be forever grateful that we met and shared a life together.

    On another note, I live in WI and have struggled with mice in the house this year. Ugh. I HATE them in the house. I don’t feel bad about my efforts since they managed to get into a seldom used drawer and chewed up a blanket. Yuck. But, I did smile when you wrote about their industriousness. It’s just too bad they can’t be more like squirrels and stay outside!

    Thanks for writing your blog.

    Ruth


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    1. Thank you for making this day your day to make a first comment! I'm sorry for the common bond we have that brought you here, though. I went through the Hospice and cancer experience with my dad so we have some other things besides widowhood in common.

      "Leaves are always growing, nothing ever stays the same." That's a line I just heard in a movie playing as I type. How true that is, especially for widows.

      I do wish mice were like squirrels. Wouldn't that be a miracle!

      Thanks for reading here, Ruth!

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  14. AS I finished reading you blog Jean, I began thinking about my wife Mary Lou after my death. It was silly of me but not really. I always worry about what she would do without me and really, she will go on as if I wasn't even there. Mary Lou is a strong woman not like me. I'm the opposite of her. Here I was waiting for my cruise and getting excited and you sitting there thinking of your late husband. I'm so very sorry Jean. I shouldn't be so excited. I'll calm myself down regarding my cruise remembering that others have lost their love ones. Love ya Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. There is no reason to tame your excitement about your cruise, especially around me. I can live vicariously through people like you and Mary Lou. As for what Mary Lou will do after you're gone...she's a strong woman and you've got a supportive family and she will go on BUT it will never be the same for her. Trust me on that.

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