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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moving Forward...or Not

Leaning against the dining room wall is a poster with thirty-one photos that was made for Don’s memorial service nearly three months ago. I’m still amazed that it only took thirty-one photos to represent all the highlights and stages of a person’s life---his youth and formative years, Army Reserves, occupations and hobbies, important relationships and benchmark moments---from babyhood to old person status on one 20” x 30” poster board. I could have filled up more boards with more photos, of course, but I was trying to tell a story with the photos I chose to share and in the world of storytelling editing is king. Less is more. Or so they say.

I should probably take the board apart and put the photos back in the albums where they came but for some reason I can’t seem to do it. No “probably” about it, I SHOULD do it! I need to do it. How can I sit here and be critical of widows who after one-two even three years still have their decease spouse’s underwear in their dresser drawers, their clothing still hanging in the closet, and their combs and toothbrushes still sitting in the bathroom when I have unfinished business of my own? And I do make judgments about other grieving people. I’m not proud of that, but it’s a fact. In widowhood support circles you often hear the phrase that grief takes however long it takes, but in the back of my mind I keep hearing a voice saying you can’t move forward if you’re living in a time capsule. I suppose it gives comfort to pretend someone is coming back to wear the clothing in the time capsule or to use a hairbrush again but I’m glad I took care of this immensely personal stuff early on after Don’s passing. And, yes, that poster of photos calls me a hypocrite when my back is turned.

I love Amazon.com. Within seconds I can get a book downloaded on my Kindle or within days if I want a “real” book to show up in my mailbox. Yesterday the mailman brought me If the Buddha Got Stuck: a Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path. The back cover reads: “This wise yet lighthearted book by the author of the enormously popular If the Buddha Dated and If the Buddha Married will speak to anyone who’s ever experienced being stuck in life. With her signature clarity, wisdom, and wit and her trademark blend of psychological and spiritual insight, Charlotte Kasl presents seven simple yet profound steps on the path to change. 1) Notice where you’re stuck. 2) Show up. 3) Pay attention. 4) Live in reality. 5) Connect with others, connect with life. 6) Move from thought to action, and 7) Let go.” On that list, I’m approaching point six and it’s too bad I had to buy the whole book when I only need the last few chapters.

Some day I’ll learn to use the library again. Before Don’s stroke, I was there twice a week. Family and friends have been checking in on me this past week, knowing it would be a week of many widowhood firsts. First Easter without my husband, our birthdays and anniversary without each other, and Don’s ashes getting interred tomorrow all had people thinking about me. Last night some friends stopped by and we talked about moving forward and how I have to slow myself down because I have an overwhelming compulsion to get it all done as soon as possible “so I can move forward,” I said. Bless his heart, my friend replied: “But you ARE moving forward. Moving forward isn’t a goal you get to; it’s a process, a journey that you’re taking step by step.” And with those words in mind, I give myself permission to hold on to the poster board of photos a little longer. ©

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