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, March 21, 2012

The Presence of Absence

"The Presence Of The Absence Is Everywhere."
 Edna St.Vincent Millay

 Did anyone in my age bracket escape studying the works of Edna St. Vincent Millay? I didn’t and she came to touch my life again, all these decades later. Apparently the above quote by this celebrated poet is commonly used in grief circles to describe a feeling that most widows and widowers have but can’t put a label on…that is until we hear this phrase, then we have an aha! moment. The presence of absence really is a palatable thing, something that you can almost hold in your hand. It’s that real and yet so elusive. Poets do have a way of simplifying even the most complicated of all human emotion, don’t they, and they often write in a kind of shorthand that cuts to the gut like the poem below written by modern-day Irish poet and composer, Do`nall Dempsey:

Change of Address

You didn't die
you just changed shape
became invisible
to the naked eye
became this grief
it's sharpness
more real
than your presence was
before you were separate to me
entire to yourself
now you
are a part of me
you are inside my self
I call you by your new name
although I still call you

When I think of poetry---which I haven’t written or studied much since my twenties---I can’t help remembering having a fondness for Robert Browning….

I walked a mile with Pleasure.
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!

It is amazing how much we learn about ourselves during grief---our strengths, our weaknesses, our fears, and our ability to reach down inside to learn the lessons that the silence of separated souls has to teach. But right now, this day, I sincerely hope that poet and abolitionist James Russell Lowell was right when he wrote: “Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how…” because one thing I know for certain is that the presence of absence is everywhere for however long grief lingers. ©

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