Friday, August 27, 2010

three four tens and a five

Yesterday was my birthday.
Thirty. Five.

So young.....yet SO bloody old! Half way to seventy and I haven't gotten much figured out. Is this the secret of adulthood? Act like a grown-up and everyone else thinks that everyone else IS a grown-up? Except, of course, themselves?

The kids were much more excited about my birthday than I was....I asked for one gift. "Please NO arguing today. Just today. ONE day. Puh-leeeeease?!" Next year I'll ask for something more a pony.

Thirty-five seems so old on me. On others, it seems to be just a number. Like watching a friend try on an outfit that looks 'good' on them but you would never be caught dead in. "You look great!", you claim....but if you imagine the pink star sequins adorning your less than abundant cleavage, you cringe and flush with horror.

I think I'll take a tip from Jeff, he used to joke that we should tell everyone that we were ten years older than our true age. None of this 'eternal 29' crap! I look pretty good for 45!!!!!

So fourty five it is! Happy 45th to me!

Friday, August 20, 2010

are you there grief? it's me, Jackie

Now and then, I sit down before the computer on the night before my post is due for Widow's Voice and stare blankly at the screen. Mentally, I examine my current thoughts, my day's mullings, recent happenings. I gleen for any unprobed areas of the loss of Jeff.....and find none.

It's not often that this happens. But occasionally, there is quiet. An acceptance. A compliance with what is.

Jeff has yet to return from his voyage to "Heaven". The kids and I still miss him. His clothes still inhabit his drawers.

But at times, the ache is subdued and the crying is quieted.

It is these times that I fluctuate between joy at the thought of recovery, pleasure from the lightness acceptance brings, sadness that this may mean that I am moving away from 'him' and guilt that the pain is not so pungent and painful.

But I know I'll fret for awhile, worry about what to write, go to sleep and wake up thinking of something I wish he could have heard Briar say, remembering how he loved to eat hot dogs wrapped in pilsbury croissant dough and cheese (SO greasy and revolting the thought actually still turns my stomach) and wondering if it's true that daughters are more likely to be promiscuous without their father in attendance.....And the next week, there will be no loss for words.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

my four cents

Who knew that my last post (and maybe a few others) would have touched a nerve for some? I do feel that all of us have the right to our various views and opinions.....Hell, the world would be a remarkably boring place if we all believed in and supported the same ideas! I do, however, want to clarify some issues here...just for my own comfort.

Not that it matters much, but the 'anchor tattoo man' in the last post did NOT have an anchor tattoo. He was throwing out a bunch of cheesy and extremely obscene pick-up lines, aside from the comment that I chose to post, that did not sit well with me.....and I can expect would not good over well with any self-respecting woman. I suppose I was in error for not either including this information or for writing about the encounter in the post.

Yes, I have posted before about issues that now annoy me (that would not have bothered me 'pre-widowhood'). I suppose I must not articulate myself well if I am suggesting that I have a problem with people making queries or comments about my husband. Although it does ocassionally sadden me with the already frequent reminder of losing Jeff, I merely find it interesting to witness just how society assumes all of us have the same family dynamic. I am not excluding myself from this observation, either. In fact, just today while asking a patient's father for the name of a child's mother for in the chart, I thought for a moment, "That came out so easily. What if the mother doesn't live with the child? What if the mother is deceased? What if the mother is estranged?....How could I have worded that differently?"

Sometimes I do laugh, I suppose at the expense of another's discomfort, for being honest about my status as 'widow'. If someone inquires about or mentions my husband, is it more polite to lie and imply that he is still alive? Or should I sugarcoat it and use terms such as "passed away" or "no longer with us"? I find it humourous solely for the purpose of the observation of reaction. An anthropology study of sorts.

Why should I feel embarassed or apologetic for another person's discomfort of death? That is their belief system. However, I no longer shy away from the subject as I once did. It doesn't mean I'm correct in my dealings with death; it just means that I have stopped fearing it. Death will happen to all of us....not if but when. People just don't like to talk about it. It wasn't so long ago that our culture would whisper various ailments or details of a loved one's death during discussion for fear of 'catching' it or bringing bad juju to their family. I feel that the use of watered down statements about death and dying are an offshoot of this superstition.

As for the differences between divorce and widowhood, I feel that I am free to have this opinion as one who has been widowed. Nope, I've never been divorced. I do not know all the pain and discomfort this very unfortunate circumstance must hold firsthand. I can imagine it is truly awful, as I believe I stated in that post. I do still feel that both tragedies are unique unto themselves.

On one hand I think that we (as in me too) are all too sensitive to perceived injustices and need to just get on with our lives and just fucking live it. But as this is my blog and a place that I muse and mull over my life and its' happenings, I write about issues that have hurt/affected me/given me pause for thought. I do not claim to be right. I just claim to be sorting through my life as I learn. As all of us, I am a work in progress.

I am certainly not proposing that I have it worse or better than anyone else. Although my husband had, I have not lost a child. I do not have cancer. Although bitterly divorced, my parents are still alive. I manage to keep food on the table. I get to dip my toes in the ocean whenever I so please. As such, I do not write about living landlocked, grossly poor, ill and grieving a child without any parental assistance. I write about being a widowed mom to two little ones while trying to do what is best for us as a small family and the thoughts that I have as I travel along this adventure. Yup, I write about widowhood a lot. You know why? Because hoping my husband somehow has an eye on us from afar and missing his laughter takes up a good portion of my thoughts. I suppose that if you were wearing similar shoes, you would have similar thoughts. I can only assume from your comment veiled behind hidden or anonymous profiles that you do not. I may be wrong. As I said before, I do not claim to be 'right' either. I also have never claimed that my pain is 'any more real' than anyone elses.

I am sorry that my thoughts seem to have raised some issues for you. I am going to encourage you, if you feel my thoughts are 'ignorant' or 'rude', please do not read my blog any longer. I do not want to upset you. But I do want to continue to write as I feel that it helps me to process MY pain (and I am not going to apologize for finding the loss of my husband painful). I am also going to remind you to read the disclaimer on the right-hand side of this page.

P.S. I don't think you really do 'get' the widow humour......

Friday, August 13, 2010

funny "ha ha" or funny "horrific"

Photo from Reader's Digest - laugh yourself to good health

Being a widow is a lot of things. Scary. Sad. Lonely. Guilt-ridden. But an unexpected side effect of the loss of my spouse is the humour and hilarity.
Maybe I was a funny person before. Maybe it has been in me all along. But after spending time again this year at Camp Widow, my cheeks hurt from laughing....and I didn't spend the time giggling at myself. Either death finds funny people or funny people just curse those around us.....or maybe, when life has you scraping the barrel, you begin to not take it as seriously. You realize that you can't jinx yourself with a belly laugh and no one has ever ceased breathing for joking about the ceasing of breathing.
I now find it more comfortable to be able to face the sadness and fear down and speak it out loud....and then laugh in its' face. Unfortunately, lay people sometimes seem to be either very uncomfortable with this M.O. or they seem to think that I am flippant or nonchalant about losing my beloved Jeff. I can assure you I'm not.
But a sign-in sheet at work for the staff party where it inquires whether each staff member will be bringing their spouse fills me with a desire to answer in the allotted box, "No. The seat belt won't properly hold the urn."
A man who approaches me at the bar surrounded with other widows who have attended the widowhood conference states to me that it is such a coincidence that he has the same tattoo on his forearm as I do. "Oh?!", I say, "So your husband died too and you got an anchor to signify both his job as a fisherman and his role as an 'anchor' in your life????? Wow!!!!! That IS a coincidence!" Shocked, he tells me that I am mean and rude. I just thought it was plain funny.
A woman at Camp Widow sported a shirt that said, "My husband died and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." This shirt has brought me many moments of mirth for the last week as I recalled it.
I love that we can find humour at such a deathly grave situation. We are not (as) afraid anymore. We now know that you will not be struck dead for a good chuckle.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

adding to the pack

I have tried to resist. I have tried to talk some sense into myself. I have tried to convince myself that we are better off financially and obdigation-wise. I have tried to divert my attention.....But somehow all I have wanted to do since Freckles' death is get another dog.
I realize that the last two years of his life, he was a major head-case that needed not just some deep emotion empathy and redirection, but hard-core antidepressants. His seperation anxiety after the death of Jeff, followed so very quickly by my beloved dog, Eli, was more than his big heart could bear. And although, at times, euthansia seemed the only solution for his window frame destruction/light switch removal/door knob denting/etc., I miss having him around.
I had contacted a woman about purchasing a puppy from her at the beginning of next year. We had chosen a golden retriever whose mother was imported from Germany. It all was so perfect and full of coincidences. The breeder is a younger widow with two children living on a farm. We had decorated a jar with pictures of puppies and started to save for the purchase of the puppy and its' initial vet bills. I was being responsible and logical about the process of adding another member to our family.
But, really, my heart is far from logical. I think probably even moreso since the death of Jeff. When something feels right, I do it. I do it with gusto and just hope that even if my actions yield horrific results, I have learned something in the process thus making the experience valuable.
As I perused the adds on our local used site, I was struck by an add containing a sweet and forlorn-looking german shepherd cross puppy. After speaking to the woman who had him, I felt completely compelled to see him. I told myself, "We don't have to get him. I can just go see him, pet him and be on my way if it doesn't feel right." But, alas, as soon as I set eyes on him, had him in my lap and felt his kisses I was struck.....with puppy love. As I watched how comfortable he was with Briar's loving and at times, overly playful misinstrations, I fell farther. When I watched Liv's face filled with contentment as she stroked the puppy's fur as it calmly laid in her lap, I was head-over-heels.
So two days ago, we headed out to pick up our little guy. He's going to be a big guy as he is german shepherd, husky, leonberger cross.
We've named him Caleb.
So far, he's been fabulous. No chewed up shoes. One accident on the rug. Lots and lots of snuggles and cuddles.
And even if he does do something.....puppy-like, I will remind myself that although Eli was the best dog in the history of mankind, he once ate a pound of butter as a puppy....and barfed it on the floor. And really, he is too small as of yet to detroys curtains, door knobs and other household structures as Freckles did....And he's not fast enough yet to kill a chicken. ;)
I am smitten.

Friday, August 06, 2010

those in the know

Today I begin my journey to the Soaring Spirit's Loss Foundation's Camp Widow. I feel as if I am running to the arms of dear friends.....although some of these people I have never met.

I will spend my time with a couple of hundred people who know what widowhood is. Really know. Not an abstract idea that is hard to fully wrap your mind around until the day it settles its' weight around your shoulders. But those who have felt the fear of knowing that when our lives are lost, our children become orphans. Known the loneliness of suddenly losing all the support and comfort of our partner. Become familiar with the uncertainty of not knowing who you are without your 'other half'. Discovered the joy of finding out that you are still whole - even missing half your heart. And, hopefully, the excitement that can one day happen when experiencing the rebirth after your past life has ended.

I am ecstatic to be with this communtiy once again. To know I am not the only one. To know I don't have to explain. To know, that at least here, I am not alone.