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, April 27, 2013

World Events, Widows and Finding Oneself

Florida Porches by Raymond Cloutier
Four days after the Boston Marathon bombings I went to a bridal shower and was surprised at how many women there hadn’t heard about it yet---about a third of those in attendance. With the injured people numbering over two hundred and three people dead how can people in this age of social media and wall-to-wall TV coverage not hear about an event that big?  I don’t suppose they know about the Texas fertilizer factory explosion, either, that happened close on its heels that injured over two hundred and killed fourteen. And now, the disaster in the Bangladesh where a garment factory collapsed and the death toll has climbed to over 300 as they pull more victims and dead bodies out of the rubble. So much pain, so much heartache and so much healing will need to come forth before life can return to normal for all the lives affected by these tragedies. I don’t know whether to envy or scuff at people who don’t stay tuned into what is going on in the world. I feel overwhelmed by current events right now---restless and impotent and with those feelings is a growing anger. Anger that I don’t know where to aim. Life seems so much more complicated than it was a few short weeks ago.

Over the past thirty-forty years when ever I’ve felt this way I’d find myself daydreaming about being in the Federal Witness Protection Program. I’ve always been a sucker for books that use this scenario for a plot device. Pacifiers for adults I call them. I can daydream myself being placed on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania or in a cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My imaginary life in the FWPP would separate me from mainstream civilization but with my own private guardian angel to keep me safe. I suppose turning off CNN, internet news sources and social media is another, more practical way I could accomplish the same thing, to escape the overload of information coming at me. It’s something I instinctively did in the months following Don’s death. Handling my own grief was enough and the world had to wait. If I’d gone to a bridal shower back then, I would have been counted in the Clueless Club if something major was going on in the world. Sometimes we’re the Yin and sometimes we’re the Yang.

These past few weeks I’ve been reading and am half way through a non-fiction book about a political activist who left New York City to stay alone in a cabin on an island off the coast of Maine. She had no phone service, no electricity or inside plumbing and she learned to eat off the land and the water. I keep thinking to myself, Could I ever actually do that? Be a hermit, be a recluse? And then I remember all the times since Don died that I’ve felt like a bird in a gilded cage with no one to hear my morning songs. You don’t have to be totally isolated from society to feel isolated. But the thing is, the author of the book didn’t feel isolated and alone. She was finding herself in the simplicity of living close to nature, finding  oneness with the world. Maybe my infatuation with the Federal Witness Protect Program is more about running away than running to something like Ms. Shulman did in Drinking The Rain.  I've often thought I feel too connected with the world...but isn't that just right brain, left-handed liberal non-sense? How can you be too connected to the suffering of mankind?

Today was the first time this spring it was warm and dry enough to sit outside and I welcomed hearing the birds chirping. For a brief moment I entertained the idea of planting a garden so I could spend more time outside listening to the birds. Then I decided that what I really need to do is to learn NOT to multitask. If I want to listen to the birds I shouldn’t have tend garden to justify being outside. Life is too short and unpredictable. As a septuagenarian I need to start pondering age-old questions like: Why does it take adversity to bring out the goodness in people? Why can’t we skip the bombings, the fires and the buildings collapsing and go straight to the part where people step up to show extraordinary kindness to others? Sometimes the contrary forces that govern the world suck! I want the light without the darkness, the highs without the lows, the love without the hate and life without death. Since I can't have any of that I want a porch overlooking an ocean where I can come to terms with the fact that disasters and evil are as much a part of the Natural World as the sun rising and setting. Utopia is just a fictional island we can only dream of seeing through the mist or on an artist's canvas or read about in a book.  ©


  1. My garden is where I find solace when the world seems overwhelming. It's not just being outdoors; it's the way that the cycle of life goes on. I remember coming up to Maine 2 weeks after 9/11 (the airports had just reopened) to spend a day at the annual fair of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. It was so healing; no 24-hour news cycle, just simple pleasures of the autumnal equinox and the harvest coming round again as they have for millenia.
    I suppose what Alix Shulman found on her island in Casco Bay (I loved Drinking the Rain) is that sometimes we have to unplug from the man-made world and tune in to the natural world to feel whole. -Jean

  2. Thanks for sharing that! For a decade I worked at a flower shop that was attached to acres and acres or greenhouses. I used to love to spend my breaks walking through the cutting beds. There really is something about being around growing things that gives you peace and solace. I envy your dedication to gardening but I know myself well enough to know I don't have what it takes to be good at it.

    The second half of Drinking the Rain has me reading at a faster pace and I'm loving it more than the first half. I think you're right about what Shulman found and what we all need to find from time to time to stay sane.