Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Putting On Widowhood: In The Beginning

In the weeks following my husband's death, as I spiraled and swam in the jello of life as it was becoming, I found refuge going to a bookstore. 

I was a "widow". I didn't know what that meant except I was no longer "married" and the person in my life was gone, never to return in this life.

How did others live during this time? What did they do? How did they go through the days, the nights and the time from ... here.....to.....there?

Books had always been a major refuge and a ways and means for me to move into and through various times in life.

Most of my life I couldn't afford to buy books but I discovered very early the wonderful world of the Public Library.

I was as deep into books as some kids are into video games.

Magazines and periodicals of all types beckoned me to open them and learn about history, science, the world in general and people in particular.

I loved to read. I devoured the classics,  SciFi writers like Bradbury and Asimov. The fantasies and deeper, more life challenging and thought provoking writings of Madeline L'Engle and others .

At thirteen I'd read many of Tolstoy's works including War and Peace and Anna Karanina. I was the girl walking home from the library with as many books as she could carry. 

My world was small in my first two decades; my time was vast. 

Moving as much as we did, friends came and went. 

Immersing myself in activities of the mind, you'd think I would have been a straight "A" student. I wasn't. In fact I was surprised when I was told I would be admitted to National Honor Society.

Then came college made possible by a small scholarship that would help me with tuition and books for the first two years. Working every chance I had and saving I was able to make it to the "goal" -- the coveted BS degree.

Being away from my Mom, my "rock" and the one person I had who was constant in my life, was challenging. 

I often found a way home from the not so far away college campus on weekends feeling the separation even though I was very involved in this "new life".

I met my husband at college. It was at a center on campus that had a Ping Pong table and I was learning and loving this sport where two or four could use both mental and physical abilities.

He was from an area close to where I lived and he had a car and drove back to see his parents and his sibling almost every weekend. It was early in our "relationship" that I went along for the ride each time he went. There were usually a couple of other people. 

I still marvel at how he was able to get four people's weekend luggage into a really small car. Over the years we shared together I continued to be surprised by his capabilities and how our interests, our abilities, complimented one another and built our life together.

First Semester ended. Home for the holidays. We shared time with his family and with my Mom. Then, life changed, as suddenly as it would as we moved through our lives together. 

I remember opening the door to our apartment and seeing my Mom  sitting by the phone with tears in her eyes and a handkerchief to wipe them away. Mom seldom cried. Throughout the long challenges she faced as a Divorcee I cannot remember seeing her cry as she did on this day.

She told me my Dad had died. 

 Although my Mom and Dad had been divorced for several years and we tried to keep where we were from him because he would get drunk and stand outside where Mom worked or where we lived and call her horrible names or try to get her to "come back" I had reconnected with his family.

I learned he was in a VA hospital. I, too, had wanted life to be so different. A family. That's what we should have been. Together. But not living with the abuse Dad could not control.

I'd been to visit him when I was told he was very sick and in a VA hospital. Cancer. Of the lung. Heavy smoker and heavy drinker do not make for a long life.

Mom was a divorcee. Another title in life that carries a list of society's tags. Was she also a "widow"? In her heart I believe she was because through it all I know she loved him, cared about him and truly wished he would change. 

She'd married for life, I believe. She could have remarried although at the time being into her 40's it was not nearly as common as today and as she said, "I know what I have now and I don't want to walk that path again."

Widowhood. How do you wear this "new" identity?  To wear or not wear your wedding rings. To become "Ms" instead of "Mrs".

To catch the glance of women you know who hold on tighter to the arms of their husbands either out of concern you might have something "catching" that might enter into their lives if they don't take precautions by holding on tightly to what they have, they might become like you.....

Hurricanes and rainbows.  Torrential rains and bright, clear, sunshine. Chaos and peace.

Advice. Always more advice on areas of life you don't ask for it. Other people who know so much more than you do because widowhood somehow makes a woman less competent -- if she was ever viewed as truly being capable, that is.

As always my life focus, I went to a bookstore believing I'd find books written on "being a widow" as though it was a profession or hobby one would write about.

Deep down I'm sure I was losing my life balance and looking for something to hang on to, to support me and to give me insight into where I was going, in what directions I might be going.

If it was only that simple. Like baking a cake, fixing a piece of equipment or going to school -- direction, guideance, focus from those who have "gone before" and prepare you for what's to come.

What I found?  Being a Widow comes with either a capital "W" or a lower case "w". It is the major part of your life or a constant part of your life.


What I found?  Widowhood isn't a popular subject.  After all....who wants to write about endings......