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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Random musings on widowhood

In sharing and supporting some of my fellow widows and widowers, it came to my attention some things that were a common thread that we were all going through besides that one horrible thing in common that made us all widows and widowers to begin with.  These are things that we want or need, but hardly ever have the guts to say. I compiled a list which goes in no particular order. I am sure others have their own version of this list, so feel free to add things in the comments below!

     1) We don't want or need space.  There is a huge gaping hole in our lives and we sure as hell don't want it to get any bigger.

     2)  If we start canceling all of the plans we make with you, this is a good sign we have gotten wrapped up in our own heads.  Please don't take it personally.  Call us out on it and check in often. We will greatly appreciate you for it.

      3)  Please talk about our spouse with us.  Especially if you were friends with them too. We love to hear stories that we may not know. Everyone has their good, bad and ugly moments.  Share, laugh, and cry with us.  Remembrance is good, silence is not.

     4)  Understand that many of us are on a learning curve with this new life and there are a lot of things that we now have to do that we have never done before.  If we ask for help, please teach us, don't do it for us.

     5)  Conversation only offers suck.  We will not "call if we need anything".  We don't want to feel like a burden, so if you do offer to do lunch, dinner, drinks, coffee, whatever....please follow through so we don't have to chase. It is exhausting and it makes us feel needy and worthless.

     6)  If we have children, realize we are grieving for them and ourselves. We are worried about how we are now going to pay for their upbringing, college, activities that they would like to be involved in, how they are dealing with the loss of their parent, how they are going to deal with their own coming of age without that parent to turn to. Listen to their worries and do what you can to help...anything from having a play date to babysitting to organizing a community fundraiser. Remember the old adage "It takes a village"? In times like this the widow(er) could use all the help the village can provide.

     7)  Listen. This may be the umpteen millionth time you have heard a particular gripe from us, or the thousandth time you heard a story, or the hundredth time you have seen us cry, but please, be patient. To you, time has gone on as usual. To us, our lives are in a sort of suspended animation and it bothers us. Sometimes we don't need or want advice, just a friendly hug.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Constant Countdown

You know how when you are getting ready to go on vacation, you do a countdown? Or countdown to the day you are getting married? Or having a baby? Even small things like the first day of school, or a party you have been looking forward to? My whole life is now broken up into these little tiny countdowns.  Countdown to that stupid day every month. Countdown to birthdays. Countdown to my wedding anniversary. Countdown to important milestones in the kids' lives.  Countdown to the big one year. countdown to the family holidays that we are now minus one. It is like one of those big red digital countdown clocks in my brain that is constantly resetting.
   To try and counteract this lovely countdown, I make plans. Plans that inevitably always get broken. So I try something else. I try to concentrate on schoolwork, but the closer the clock gets to zero, the harder it is to concentrate. So, again, I try something else. Maybe the gym. Maybe my favorite bar. Maybe a kickboxing class to punch out my frustrations on a heavy bag. Maybe taking a nice long drive with the windows down and the radio up. Maybe a date (yeah right). Anything that makes the ticking stop.
     I assume that sometime soon the march will stop. Sometime soon the constant countdown will be towards happier, more productive things. Sometime soon the bright red digital clock in my brain will shut off. Or at least dim a little.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Dating Game

The funny thing about widowhood is the apparent case of social leprosy it gives you. It is like people are afraid they will catch it or something. Yes, death is a squirmy and uncomfortable topic. No one likes to come face to face with it. A fantastic example of this is in this this fun new place I find myself.....the world of dating. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, but I am not in a spot where I want to become the crazy cat lady. So, apparently, at the age of 35 and with two small kids, I find myself dating. This is where things start to get interesting. Where on earth do I even meet people?  B was my high school sweetheart an we knew each other for 30 years. We were best friends. How do I not compare? I know for sure I don't want to find someone in a bar or a club, all of my friends are married with kids, so where does one turn? Apparently the fun filled world of Internet dating.          Seriously.
     The first horrible hurdle is filling out the profile. I hate selling myself. I firmly believe one should like me for me, not some blurbed version of myself, but the only way for one to get to know me is by me filling in the blurb.  Paradoxical.  Then there is the single/separated/divorced/widowed choice. Well, the obvious choice here would be widowed, right? Except that NO ONE wants to date a widow. So, I am definitely not divorced, technically I am separated (albeit by death) and I suppose also that I am single, but I don't really classify myself that way.  So.....which box do I choose? Against my better judgement, I choose widow/widower, only to come to find out no one reads the damn things anyway! I could be the three boobed alien woman from Total Recall and as long as my picture looked good, I would get all the responses I could handle!
     Then comes the first contact. The pretend witty banter. Or the obnoxious " heeeeeyyyyy sexxxxxxyyyy waaat's up?" from a supposedly well educated 38 year old man. I'm sorry, but if you can't even spell "what" correctly, you do not dignify a response. Call me old fashioned, but I like a man who, at the minimum, can form a grammatically correct sentence.
     The first dinner. These are always interesting.  My favorite part is when I tell them I have kids.  The next question is usually "does your ex have them every other weekend?" When I reply in the negative, the next inevitable question leads to me revealing my widowhood, which generally leads to that uncomfortable shift-in-the-chair-glance-at-their-watch-look-into-the-distance and token "I'm sorry". Right then I know there is no date number two.
     I have run into some pretty interesting first dinners. Just a few of the more fun statements I have had to utter..... I am a pretty easy going girl, but I can order for myself. And no, I will not be having a martini or two before food. And no, we will not be going for a walk or a drive afterwards to some secluded spot. And no, I will not be committed to you after two beers and a plate of sushi. And one more no, I will not come back to your place to catch a movie....how dumb do you think I am? I am not a prude, but really? Apparently the goodnight kiss has gone the way of the dinosaurs? I think I might just be out of touch with reality.
      I have been used as fodder for someone's stand up show, greeted by a barefoot "hippie" in a restaurant, been told I was too young (thank you), been stood up, been approached to convert, been used, and been hurt. I think it is time for me to just date, well, me.