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, July 4, 2020

Dew Drops and Tear Drops


I used to be a night owl before the pandemic. Going to bed at 3 AM was not unusual and a throwback to my working days…or I should say working nights. I did a lot of writing after midnight and I like the quietness of the neighborhood when everyone is tucked into their beds. No little kids dominating the sidewalks, no barking dogs. No lawn mowers or snow blowers filling the airwaves. You learn a lot about your neighbors in the middle of the night. The young couple across the street, for example, are afraid of the night. They leave their porch light on from dusk to dawn. The neighbors next door are very trusting. They leave their garage door up all night, confident no one will come along to steal the guy’s fancy tools and medieval gear---they run renaissance festivals across three-four states. And, yes, I’ve seen more than a couple of sword fights out my bedroom window. They’re interesting people and if you want to weave your own fabric, spin your own yarn or make your own chainmail, they’re your go-to couple. 

When the pandemic first started I couldn’t fall asleep and when I did I’d wake up an hour or so later then worry would take over my mind and not let go. So I got into the habit of taking sleeping pills and sometimes even that didn’t work. Long story short now I’m falling asleep at midnight and waking up at seven and I’ve almost weaned myself from taking the Ambien bottle out of the drawer except on full moon night which is why it was prescribed in the first place. Seven o’clock in the morning has a lot in common with the middle of the night. For the first hour anyway and I have to admit it’s a pretty time of the day. The dew on the lawn before the sun tops the trees to burn it off is the stuff poets write about. 

"How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity
under roses and violets and morning dew!"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.”
Rabindranath Tagore

When I was in my twenties I wanted to be poet when I grew up. I never felt like a grown up until my husband had his stroke. I had adult responsibilities—the job, the house, the car---but not having kids made me feel like a kid looking for the next great learning experience as I waited for my ‘real’ life to begin. I can’t say I didn’t go through a mourning period for what never happened, but it was short lived on the missing parenthood front. Of course, the dream of being a poet had no medical excuse holding me back. I held on to that dream a lot longer although now I acknowledge if I have any writing talent at all it’s not in the poetry genre. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe as Lord Byron once hinted at, maybe I can make my wordsmithing mark without having to rhyme. 

"But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."

We might not all want to reach thousands with our words but the desire to communicate with our fellow man, to be understood and to understand others, is rooted in our prehistoric past. How exciting it must have been to develop a language when there was none. I visualize a caveman grunting out the word ‘hunt’ and being understood for the first time like Helen Keller at the well when she first made the connection between the letters w-a-t-e-r being spelled out on her hand to the water running through her fingers. As she wrote in her autobiography years later, “That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away."  

If you’ve read the introduction at the top of this blog you know my husband lost his ability to speak and write after his stroke. When you lose that connection with someone you love you mourn a part of your relationship. Family caregivers know all too well you let go in stages until the final moment comes and you mourn one last time. I went to the cemetery to visit my husband’s grave this week. The pandemic lock-down prevented me from going in April when I’d normally go to dig up the quackgrass around the stone and for the first time ever, I sat in my car crying. I cried for him. I cried for me. I cried for the whole bloody world. I cried like I haven’t cried since 1983 when my mother died. And I cried because I really, REALLY wanted a Little Miss Debbie Swiss Cake Roll to fill the emptiness I felt. ©

Ordered this tee shirt the next day, figured I needed the reminder. Thanks to the Boomer Girl's Guide blog for the link.

43 comments:

  1. My heart ached for you when I was reading about you mourning. Thank you for this post, and bless blogging and the internet.

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    1. Thank you. I don't think I was crying at the cemetery because I was mourning...well, not in the normal sense of mourning a for person. Rather I was crying about all the changes and stresses the pandemic brought to all of us. It all just creep up on me. Guess I needed that release.

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  2. I think a lot of people are feeling a lot of stress these days, and some of it isn't even recognized. It's not human to be isolated from others, to hide our face, or live in continual fear. As a friend recently said, "If you can't live, why live?" That's a little Yogi Berra-ish, but it makes perfect sense to me. Personally, I think it also helps to explain some of the recent riots. Once they began, a lot of locked-down people may have thought, "Oh, wow! A socially acceptable way to get out of the house!"

    I love your shirt. Little things like that really can help to cope with these weird circumstances.

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    1. I just got an e-mail that the shirt was shipped. I can't wait to wear it next time I have an opportunity to be out of the house...infusion center appointment coming up for one place.

      We have become a very soft nation when so many of us are stressed out because we're discouraged from socializing. It makes me ashamed of myself when others have much bigger problems.

      I do think the lock-down did play a part in how large the protests were---people who couldn't work had time on their hands for one thing. NOTE there is a major difference in the words "riots" and "protests". The vast majority of the protesters were peaceful, and non-destructive, not rioters. To broad brush them all as "rioters" is the president's ploy to help set whites against the blacks.

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  3. I think crying is a wholly understandable and appropriate response to what is happening to each of us, our loved ones and the world. Hope today brings better memories and experiences though.

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    1. Today I'm taking a mini trip down to where the continuum care campus where I have a deposit down on an independent living unit. I haven't been there since the ground breaking. I figure being a holiday the in town traffic will be light. Hopefully that will brighten my outlook for the future.

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  4. I think at this point even the strongest are getting some kind of stress. I wake up depressed every morning but it passes as soon as I get up and going. I think a break from the news and social media is needed soon. Time to stick my head in the sand for a while!

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    1. I used to turn the news on first thing in the morning, even before putting on the coffee. Now, I don't turn the TV on until the 12:00 local news. And I used to be a news and political junkie. We all have to do what it takes to keep our heads on straight.

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  5. I think a good crying session ought to be prescribed by doctors. The release must be so healing. I'm due but haven't had the episode yet. Wear that shirt with pride and hope. Yes Better days are ahead.

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    1. I agree, crying does help to release a lot of pent up emotions, some of which we don't even know is there beneath the surface.

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  6. I am glad you use your writing talents to create your posts twice a week. I always look forward to what you have to say. You have a wonderful way of expressing your feelings, thoughts, life that I really connect with. Thanks so much for sharing! Wishing you better days ahead!

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    1. Thank you for saying that. I do feel connected to those of you who read here and comment.

      I wrote this piece nearly a week ago and I do feel better than I did that day. I'm not only a stress eater I'm a stress writer and have posts written and in the scheduler for all next week. I might have to publish an extra post sometime just so I don't get too far ahead of myself.

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    2. I would be happy to see more posts from you! Write away!!

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  7. Personally, I find a good cry therapeutic, and the cemetery is the perfect place for it. There is so much loss this year.

    I've been reading your posts but just too pooped to participate, as my mom used to say. The moving went on forever and we are SUPER glad to be in the new place and have the old place completely cleared out. I thought I would feel more nostalgia, but all I felt at the end was relief. We are both starting to regain a bit of energy, but there were days when we just woke up (at 5 with the light) and said, "One day at a time; we just have to keep going one day at a time." LOL.

    Like you, I'm sure glad Goodwill opened again. I think I dropped things there every day one week.

    I find myself really annoyed by people not wearing masks and minimizing this virus. The US is looking really bad overseas, too. The EU and the UK are now admitting many countries, but not us! This is SO disappointing to me, since I really, really want to visit my new granddaughter. But I sure don't want to spend two weeks in their guest room having meals dropped at the door. Nor do I want to carry something to their little family inadvertently. The Orange Man continues to curse us. UGH. /end rant

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    1. I've been wondering how your move turned out. I can't imagine the toll all the packing, unpacking and worrying took out of you and your husband.

      I wish the libraries would open up for book donations now. I still have a lot of valuable books that belong in their online store since I decided not to try to sell most of them myself.

      Sadly, I don't think you'll be able to visit your granddaughter for a good long time.

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  8. If I knew your address, I'd send you a box of Little Debbies. But I don't think they'd help, I've spent the entire pandemic eating to quell my fears. Doesn't work, just makes ya fat! ;-)

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    1. I know the truth of that statement! I've gained, maybe 5-7 you're actually eating them, then you just feel twice as bad because you're ashamed of yourself along with still being stressed AND and fatter. But I did get that virtual box of Little Miss Debbies you sent and they were tasty. Thanks. LOL

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  9. I watched "Hamilton" on Disney+ last night and found myself sobbing more than once during very emotional parts of the performance. Last week was the second anniversary of my husband's death and today would have been our 44th wedding anniversary. I think all of that and everything that's been happening nationally just hit a tipping point for me. "Better days ahead" has been my good friend's mantra for months. Sure hope that's true.

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    1. I didn't realize your widowhood was so recent. The second anniversary is a really tough one and pairing that with an anniversary, you needed the release of tears.

      I think wearing that shirt in public is going to sort out the friendly people from the others. I expect some comments and I'm going to feel like my husband who, after he lost his speech, took great care to pick out a message tee-shirt to wear when we go out.

      I don't know if I can get the Disney channel but I need to try. I want to see Hamilton.

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    2. Hi TTPT
      I have just ‘celebrated’ (oh my gosh, what a word to use!) the third anniversary of my dear Beloved’s death and I am sorry to say it doesn’t get much easier. The acceptance is there but acceptance doesn’t take away the loneliness, particularly at this time when we are all alone.
      Good luck to us.

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  10. I think you were mourning for the world as well as for your husband. I think all of us feel at sea a bit. Sometimes we just need a good sob and a Swiss Roll. In all honesty I haven't much missed other people -- a bit my besties but we have seen each other at distance. And I have Rick which is a lot different than 24/7 alone. It has felt an enormous relief for me not to have to go to book club or a luncheon date or be "on" all the time. But I am content in my home with books and paint and walks. That makes a huge difference. I don't understand the people who go out without abandon or a mask or who cram close. I just don't understand them.

    I will say I felt a lot of stress at the beginning of this -- mostly physical panic for getting this thing that will take me out. I had horrible nghtmares. Now, I don't have it so much -- but I know it's still underlying when I give Rick the third degree after every out-of-bubble encounter -- the grocery, the hardware, the convenience store on the bike route. Were they wearing masks? Did you? Did you keep distance? Did they? I don't want to be a broken record... but I am. At least the dreams have stopped.

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    1. No doubt about it, I wasn't just crying about one thing. It was entire world and its problems that caught up with me. I don't miss people---I mean I can deal with missing them---but I not like having to worry about my health, everyone else's health, the economy, my planned move. I miss the absence of stress.

      Hope being up at the lake is helping you. And I meant to tell you that I, too, like Rick's hair longer like it is now.

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  11. Thank you for caring about the whole world. Crying is good for you ...

    Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.

    I do a good cry about once a month. Provoked by different things but it does help keep me sane.

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    1. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing that. I don't cry very often but I do usually feel better afterward as I did this time.

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  12. I don't think a "good cry" ever really hurt anyone. Sometimes they're hard to come by---you feel like crying but you can't. I hope you felt better afterwards. There is a lot to be sad about these days but----there is always hope that things will get better. BL

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    1. I've been there, done that with wanting to cry, feeling the need to cry but the tears won't come. I did feel better afterward, I figured I need it. We do what we have to do to keep our glasses half full, don't we.

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  13. Oh my dear, you and I have a lot in common. Perhaps I always knew I was never going to be a poet but writing has always come easily.
    I miss my husband, best friend, lover, companion, and everything else, every day, but I still haven’t managed to break down into a deep attack of the weepings. It would be such a release and relief at the same time, if only I could.

    I too am a late riser and late seeker of bed, many nights I spend awake, listening to the white noise and the house creaking and settling; I too worry about covid and what it can do to me and fill the time with escaping into books and the life stories of invented people.

    Three whole years alone and it doesn’t get any easier.

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    1. I love how the blog community helps people like us connect from different countries, letting us see how much a like we all are. We go through the same emotions of joy and sorrow,of love and fears.

      I agree that a good release of tears is a good thing but sometimes we're so used to holding ourselves together for whatever reason and we can't.

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  14. I think most of us could use a good cry these days. There is a lot to mourn. Even if it seems silly or petty compared to what others are going through, it doesn’t make our own feelings and losses any less valid.

    Deb

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    1. That's really a good thing to remember, Deb. Sometimes I think we are afraid to show our fears and frustrations because we know so many others have it worse. Thanks for sharing that.

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  15. Your last paragraph really struck a note. I've been a caregiver, and known several people who also found themselves in that role, and that's a really precise description of how it feels to let go bit by bit until that last grieving.
    I've had numerous people mention 'a pervasive sadness' during the last few months. That seems to have replaced the initial fear.

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    1. You are so right about the initial fear or the pandemic being replaced by sadness for what we can't change and have no control over what happens next.

      I think the family caregivers letting go in stages explains the lack of tears many experience near the end. I know I personally didn't cry at my husband's or my dad's death because there was a long whine up to them but my mom's was unexpected and I couldn't quit crying. Some people misinterpret that lack of tears as not caring or 'relief' when it's more complicated that that.

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    2. Yes! My husband had only been with hospice for about 5 days when he died around 1:00 in the morning. I'd been sitting with him at his bedside since 11:30. The hospice nurse who was on call came out right away to do what needed to be done (call the funeral home, etc.) I sat at the table with him while he was putting info. into his laptop and I was kind of flummoxed when he said that I wasn't reacting the way he had expected me to--i.e., crying hysterically, I guess. At that point I was numb and exhausted and, really, had been mourning my husband for almost a year already. So, not knowing what to say, I simply told him that my husband had not wanted to live anymore the way he was and now he was "released." But I sure felt that I'd already flunked Widowhood 101: the "proper" way to grieve.

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    3. Oh! My! God! You8'd think a Hospice nurse would have known better not only to not say something like that but to also not THINK something like that.

      Did you see the message Friko addressed to you (TTPT) up the this comment thread?

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    4. I thought the same thing too. I probably compounded my "grief fail" when he and the man from the funeral home asked me if I wanted to say goodbye to my husband before they took him out to the hearse. I had gone into the kitchen so I wouldn't have to see him on the gurney (with this gawd awful velvet cover that had the home's name on it.) I just didn't want to remember him that way. So I just called out "No, thank you." I'll bet there was some eye-rolling on that one. But I'd already said goodbye in my own way and didn't want to do it in front of them, for Pete's sake.

      Yes, I did see Friko's comment and I should have thanked her for that. The first year is kind of a blur, and the second isn't much better, especially now. But, we do what we have to do, don't we?

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    5. I suppose funeral homes have to ask because about that final viewing because there's no do-overs but so many people who deal with the dead and dying need to take a course on dealing tact and sensitivity. Widows all have our list of things that made our grieving process harder.

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  16. A good cry is often what is needed I can't imagine life without Tim

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    1. And when we're under a lot of stress, often it's the person who knew/knows us best who can make us feel like we can handle it. Even without words, that's the way my husband made me feel.

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  17. Life is overwhelming sometimes. I think most of us feel better after a good cry - like a weight has been lifted. I noticed your last comment to Joe-Anne's ramblings. That is so true. I always tell H that he may not be able to make a bad thing go away, but he somehow makes me able to cope with it.

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  18. Boy Jean this last paragraph had me welling up with tears. I can't fathom losing a loved one like that. Sure I lost my mom when I was a kid. It formed me. But losing Rick, my world, would put me in a puddle or worse for a long long time. The ability to banter and talk is "our" thing so if he or I lost that ability it would be a mourning until the final mourning. A good cry is just that, needed so it's called a good cry. Now on to your new adventure of your new home and a new world. Hopefully happy tears.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. Don't ever quit appreciating that easy banter you and Rick share. It's the world when you lose it.

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