Happily Ever After, they said.

Heart in the bark of a tree.Tree with heart shape. Heart wooden cut texture

When this all began, we knew there’d be a price…”Jekyll & Hyde

Some wondered if it was a good idea to marry a man with cancer. Looking back, it wasn’t really a decision. It was actually a no-brainer.

I loved him.

Everyone arrives in your life with baggage. Everyone. Some carry bags as small as coin purses; others drag a dumpster. When we met, it seemed neither of us carried more than a wallet.  (okay, mine included a make-up case, keys with the fuzzy duck, two pairs of glasses and all the just-in-case stuff, but you get the idea) My husband’s, however, grew to industrial size proportions. Even so, we figured real love is a match for ANY luggage, right?  It has to be – when the baggage is cancer. Continue reading

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If it’s not one thing — it’s a colonoscopy

filling-out-formI probably have a million predictable jokes I could crack here.  In fact, in my head I can almost hear my comedian husband spouting a bunch of them. But, at the end of day, I can’t help thinking about something writer, Jill Smolowe, said in her book, Four Funerals and A Wedding. “No one to share the results with. It just feels so alone. Like who gives a shit?”

I feel ya, Jill!

The fact is, now there is no ‘other’to tell anything to. From having to check a new status box from Married to Widow to jotting down a new emergency contact, it’s all a kick in the gut.

Over the years, I’ve sat in more waiting rooms for more hours than I can count. And though I’ve been the healthy ‘other half’, my husband did his stint in a waiting room a few times, too. We might say we never take our built-in security blanket for granted, but I think most of us do sometimes, don’t you? Knowing someone always, always has your back comes with the marriage territory. We do for each other gladly and that’s just the way it is – until it isn’t.

In any case, today the role of my husband was played by two people – my oldest daughter who brought me and my bestie who picked me up. I had it covered. My rides, my support system, my (new) emergency contacts were in place. And while I’m extremely grateful for my loving back-up system, it comes with renewed sadness that there had to be one.

It’s no newsflash that you’re in a brand new world when your spouse dies. It’s par for the course to change your status on medical records and replace your life partner with a new emergency contact. And it’s just a lousy fact of life that the person who you were connected to in all ways no longer patiently sits in the waiting room. But as I’ve been known to say so often, it is what it is.  And honestly — it’s really crappy.

 

It’s always something.

Couple-1024x684Alone – sucks. I can’t speak for all the people who navigate that space so seamlessly every day. Some even choose that solo state (big kudos from me!) but it never would have been my first choice by a long shot. I fell or was thrown in that lake, kicking and screaming.

Most days I’m doing pretty okay, thank you. But then one thing, one little insignificant thing, can set off a really lovely pity party – minus the balloons and ice cream. In another lifetime, I wouldn’t even notice innocent gestures that I saw a hundred times. But like it or not (and I don’t) I’m in THIS life now, so everything takes on a different meaning. And things that grab your heart seem to be everywhere – even at a simple 5 year old T-ball game.

I was living in the moment, watching those earnest little people running bases full speed ahead, trying like heck to hit the ball off the tee hard enough to make it actually GO somewhere. When one of those kids is an irrepressible grandson, well, enough said.  So I hung out near the dugout, getting a bird’s eye view of his swing (he’s got a great arm, by the way) until I got a glimpse of another view.

One of the family, also widowed, has a girlfriend now. Living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere USA, we are all glad for him. He’s a really sweet man who deserves caring companionship. (Don’t we all..)  Anyway, as I glanced up, his hands were tenderly massaging the back of the woman’s neck as she stroked his arms. My first reaction? Eeee-ooo – family outing! But then I thought of my own back massager who I’ve missed like breath and air. I got it. Continue reading

Use Your Words…No, Not Those.

Sincere Condolences

We were word people. We both loved words so much that my husband was forever making up his own puns – and himself up cracking in the process.  We watched Jeopardy and did the crosswords – competitively of course. I kidded him about being the grammar police. It’s hardly surprising then that words can also make me scratch my head, thinking ‘what’? Really?

As I stood in line at a wake this weekend for the wonderful young son-in-law of a dear friend who lost her own husband as well, I couldn’t help thinking of what I would say to this heartbroken young wife. I knew her since she was a teen and it seemed more than important that I say something, anything that spoke what was in my heart. I knew most on that line behind and in front of me might be thinking the very same thing. Don’t we all want to speak words that make sense of the unthinkable? Being so recently in her place myself, I know how impossible that is. I know it is as hard to receive most words of awkward consolation as it is to say them. Sometimes, seeing their struggle, we often want to comfort — those who comfort.  We all want so much to say what is comforting, gift verbal pieces of our heart and sometimes just mumble odd sentiments instead. We say tired clichés. We offer what we’ve been conditioned to say, hoping somewhere in there, the person who’s hearing the words knows that our clumsy attempts at consolation are heartfelt. They do.  Because let’s face it, we all are awkward – even those who’ve been on the receiving end of well meant words.

Maybe the next time we yearn to say what’s in our hearts, we’ll measure the words differently. Maybe we can hear them as the bereaved might. Maybe we’ll even say no words at all because sometimes silence is better than words and phrases like: Continue reading