On Widowhood - The Next Phase
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." Albert Einstein
My sister Judy and I tend to become experts on almost everything life throws our way. It's how we learn, cope, grow, survive. We're always willing to enlighten others if we have something of value to offer. I do it here. Judy's joined me from time to time, especially on her latest area of expertise: widowhood.
Hardly a skill anyone would want, nevertheless Judy became a widow suddenly and cruelly when her husband Bob was killed in a plane crash July 16, 2006. From the beginning she's been sharing her thoughts on coping with loss and widowhood. It's been cathartic for her, supportive for other widows and eye-opening for the rest of us.
She hasn't parsed it out in formal stages of grieving. That's been done to death (pardon the pun - trust me, she'll smile) and it's not her style anyway. Judy has simply opened her heart and her soul when the spirit moved, allowing us glimpses into the head and home of a new widow.
More than enlightening, it's inspiring. She's taken us on a journey of pain, darkness, self-reflection and courage. Now she's ready to open the door to hope. And new beginnings.
This is the one I've been waiting for, in Judy's words:
I think I've rounded a corner. Nearly 16 months after Bob's crash, something happened to me. I noticed it when I came home from the latest trip -- a week in Philadelphia for family, grandchildren and my high school reunion, then on to Israel for nearly two weeks.
I've traveled since Bob died but when I've come home from those trips there was always a feeling of sadness, either because I had no one with whom to reminisce ... or no one to tell about my adventure.
This time I came home, did my unpacking, laundry, bills, etc., then went back to work. And hit the ground running. Jury duty segueing into flu shot clinics and on to my OR nursing. I came home so tired after each day that my outlook became objective and I was able to realistically see what life was going to be like now.
I looked around the house and realized I had created a shrine to Bob with pictures, his belongings, his collections and a few sentimental items of his clothing. I also realized I didn't need things to remind me of him. As I've learned and said before, I have memories nobody can take away. The material reminders are extraneous.
Frankly, everything is a reminder anyway and I'm okay with that. So I've begun to divest myself of more of the remaining items. I've been gathering pictures and other memorabilia to be given to his son and brother. I've begun giving away even more things to Good Will and The Salvation Army.
I haven't yet, but am contemplating doing some furniture rearranging and throwing out and replacing, though I'm cheap and that will take longer. But at least I've begun to think about it.
None of this is meant to convey that I don't miss him, or that I know my life would still be interesting and exciting if he hadn't left it.
I plunge ahead fearlessly, confident that while I no longer do much plumbing, electric repairs or airplane maintenance, I can do it – all by myself. I feel sure Bob is watching and cheering and when I talk to him, he hears me.
But I guess this is the end of my tsunami, the one that's supposed to hit when one gets the kind of news I got. I didn't have the tsunami all at once, but I did have to figure out how to get on with my life.
I haven't gotten it all figured out, but I'm starting. And there's something that feels very good about that.
Bob hears you, Judy. And we hear you. Bravo.