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 26, 2013

Cellos and Words That Hurt

Most widows hate that title and who can blame them. It’s not like other titles we acquire over our life time---daughter, sibling, co-worker, crafter, teacher, volunteer, friend, wife, mother, etc., etc. Those are all positive titles for most of us where ‘widow’ carries with it notes of sadness and pain. Did I say ‘notes’? Hell, the word ‘widow’ is more like a whole damned orchestra score…sheets and sheets of notes telling the conductor which instrument should be playing what and when. Only for widows the unseen conductor of all living things is setting a tempo that in the first year is often confusing and hard to follow. When I first started my widowhood journey that conductor would point to me and I’d sound like a cello---bittersweet, soulful and not unlike the farewell scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Well, that might be a tad over dramatic but that’s how I am.

I guess what I’m trying to say in around-about way that takes a detour to China is that I’ve decided to embrace the title of widow and turn the word into a badge of honor. Not that I am honored to be one. No, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I mean as long as I still call myself a widow rather than ‘single’ I am honoring my husband for how he enriched my life, how he made my life fun, secure and all the other good things we get from being in a committed and loving relationship. Don made me feel like there wasn't anything I couldn’t do if I set my mind to it. So I’ve decided to redefine the word ‘widow’ as it applies to my life.

What got me to thinking about this was re-reading all the posts I wrote in my first year of widowhood and observing that in contains few if any negative words about my husband. He wasn’t a saint. Should I be showing that in these pages? He did stupid guy stuff like hold the blankets over my head while he farted in bed and he once yelled at me when the neighbor backed his car into mine, doing hundreds of dollars worth of damage. “You should have known better than to park directly across from a driveway!” Don shouted. When I called him out on the fact that I was legally parked he said words to the effect that he was just trying to use it as a teachable moment for the teens that were helping us paint a house. Sure, Don. You just taught them its okay to raise your voice to a woman, you yo-yo! And for a stupid, ass reason!

In the end, I decided that bringing up the negative aspects of a dearly departed serves no purpose. Remembering all the good things and glossing over the rest is the natural way most of us remember those who have gone before us. (Unless, of course, we’re talking about dysfunctional families or marriages which mine wasn’t.) For a widow, over time the painful memories of dying and funerals turns bad dream-like and the shocking depth of early grief fades away right along with the other negativity. What is left is a rich tapestry of memories that gives us joy and, yes, even peace. Funny how that works---how times marches on, how the conductor of all living things keeps queuing us to find the tempo and jump back into life. We resist his attempts. We play notes in the wrong places hoping he’ll leave us along. But he doesn’t give up until we’re finally ready to find our place in the orchestra of life again. I’m not even sure we recognize it when we get to that point. We just wake up one day and realize we’ve found a rhythm that soothes us and makes the ‘widow word’ not hurt so much. That’s where I’m at now, at the one year mark. I still feel like a cello wanting to tell the world how I feel inside, but now I actually want to leave Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon behind and learn how to play Doce de coco. ©


  1. loved this blog, and loved your comparison of life to playing instrument in orchestra, brilliant. love your writings.

  2. Thank you! Some music does say more than words can possibly do.

  3. Doce de coco is a delight! No torment in there; just rhythm to sway and dance to. Where our interest goes our spirit does, too?

  4. Wow, I love that.... "where our interest goes our spirit does, too." I hope it proves to be true.