Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Too Shall Suck

Dear John,
 
I had a good day at work, and came home and mowed. I finished just as it was getting dark. I'm not in until noon tomorrow so I don't have to set the alarm. The animals won't let me sleep much later than usual. But somehow it always feels better to sleep without an alarm on.
 
I was thinking today about how I would describe widowhood to someone who hasn't experienced it. Imagining it doesn't work. I married you knowing that I could lose you in a few years, but when it happened it was nothing like I had expected. I knew it would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I just had no idea how bad the worst can be.
 
It seems to me that what I couldn't imagine is the immensity of loss. The magnitude was beyond my conception. I lost my husband and my best friend. I lost the companionship of having someone to do things with and to share my life. I lost the feeling of knowing that I meant the world to somebody. I lost having someone to share decisions, responsibilities, chores, joys and sorrows with. I lost financial security - the majority of our income, our health insurance, our retirement money, our savings, and my credit rating. I lost most of my friendships - almost all of our friends are couples, and I don't fit in anymore. I remind my married friends of things they don't want to think about, so most of them avoid me. And some have lost patience with me - they think I should be over it and wonder why I haven't remarried. My widowhood causes them discomfort. Nobody knows what to do with me.
 
I lost my daily routine - waking up with you, brushing our teeth together, talking at the end of the day, saying bedtime prayers with you, falling asleep with my head on your shoulder. It was very hard to get used to never hearing, "How was your day?" I lost the household routines of cooking for you and doing your laundry. Those things are the skeleton of life, what everything else hangs on. When you're widowed, you find yourself with no routine to give structure to your life.
 
The most unexpected part was that I lost my identity. With it went my self-confidence and my sense of purpose. I seemed to lose my own mental and emotional skeleton. Without you, there was nothing to hang my self on. It's as if I had no inner structure or form. I was so nebulous that I couldn't see myself. I was invisible to me. And I lost my past. There is no one who shares my memories. Losing my parents was hard because there was no one left who remembered my childhood. Now there is no one who remembers any of my life. Sometimes it seems like I not only don't exist, but I never existed at all.
 
It's no wonder life's been hard without you, is it? Something would be very wrong with me if this didn't suck. I suppose I'm being normal again - it does happen every once in a while. And I don't think I will tell this to people who aren't widows. They don't need to know. All we widows really want them to understand is that they can't understand. There's no reason to give them nightmares now - those will come soon enough. I think I'll let them enjoy the present without knowing quite so much about what's coming. I'll just try to be there when it's their turn.
 
In the meantime, don't worry about me. It does get better with time. I'm making new routines. The job is giving me new friends and a purpose of sorts. Some days I even seem to get a glimpse of myself. And soon I'll get my winter reprieve from yard work. The hole you left in my life is unchanged, but I am building new things around it. Like I said a few nights ago, the only gift I can give you is to take care of myself until I can come join you.
 
Hoping you can get the date moved up,
Joan.

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