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, November 11, 2012

Imperfect in Life, Perfect in Death

We widows tend to put our spouses on pedestals. And why not. There’s nothing to be gained by cataloging the things that used to annoy us when our husbands were alive. It would only make us feel petty or ashamed to remember the hissy-fits we had over things like a forgotten anniversary, tracking snow in the house and toothpaste caps that didn’t get put back on. When our husbands were alive, most of us never would have acknowledged there could come a day when we’d give anything to have one of those little annoyances back in our lives. Not us! Widowhood happens to other people. We were going to live happily ever after. We had our heads in the sand.

But it didn’t happen to someone else. It happened to me. I had no special immunity that protected me from the widowhood word. My imperfect spouse died and my memory of our time together on earth became like a watercolor painting that blurs the details and brings the focal point to the foreground to stay frozen in place for all eternity. But I remember the details. I touch them on my watercolor painting like I’m reading Braille. Those quiet conversations in the night, the smiles that could light my soul on fire, the scent of his after shave, and the shoulder I leaned on when times were hard. I remember in a water color hazy way our whole lives together and I mourn what was and what still could have been.

It’s hard to be alone when you’re used to being half of a whole. It’s hard to think of the future when your arms ache from hugging emptiness and you have so many unspoken words bottled up inside. It’s hard to face the long days and nights. And yet there are many times when I feel his presence still around me, telling me I can do this, telling me I will never be truly alone or have thoughts he doesn’t hear. Maybe it’s because I knew my husband so well that I’m imaging I can hear his voice in my ear. Or maybe I’m just turning into a crazy old lady who wants to believe a ghost is living in the house. A ghost who, in my head, is highly amused that I now picture him not old like he was when he died but young and healthy and ready to slay any dragons that cross my path. A crazy old lady and a knight in shinning armor in love. What’s so funny about that? I tell him. It’s my watercolor memory. I’ll paint it anyway I want.

In the quiet of the night, if I’m totally honest with myself, I know I will eventually come to terms with widowhood and moving forward. I can’t dwell forever in the land of dark and ugly grief. Well, I could but what would that prove? Prolonging grief beyond its nature expiration date won’t honor what my husband and I had together. And the love we shared demands that I must honor him. If I were from another time and place I’d have to throw myself on a knife and die to honor him. But my husband would laugh at that antiquated, drama queen idea and tell me to carve out a new life for myself. “Live, love, laugh and be happy,” he’d sing in my ear. Did I ever tell you my husband had a rich, deep voice like a country western legend?

He’d also tell me I have one year---one year from the day he died before he’d come back and start kicking ass if I haven’t taken enough steps toward finding a future of peace and acceptance. Death wouldn’t have changed my perfect, imperfect spouse’s values and that’s how I know that his ghost wants to see joy and happiness back in my life---sooner rather than later. He was my biggest fan, was always proud of me, and that is the focal point in my watercolor painting that will be frozen in place for all eternity. So I will do the mental work it takes to get me through to the other side of grief. The bottom line is we widows should accept no less for ourselves than what our spouses would want for us, if they still had a voice in our futures. ©

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