From the beginning, I mean the very beginning when Will was first diagnosed and I knew he was going to die, I wanted… needed… to believe that the whole light at the end of the tunnel thing was real. I fixated on the hope that someday there would be happiness again. I put all my trust in that one idea and amazingly it seems to have carried me through to the place I am now. But it is not that way for everyone I am coming to learn. Rob reminds me from time to time something to the effect that widowhood does not create saints out of sow’s ears. If you were not an optimistic person before being widowed, you are very unlikely to become one, and the same holds true for being kind and compassionate.
I read a column by Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald today. It was about the Virginia Tech murders, but the central question of his piece was “Can you fix meanness?” And he was talking about the soul. Some people just seem to have this meanness at their core and nothing touches it. It’s there and it shows through no matter what they do or their circumstances in life. Nothing changes that core personality.
It’s hard not to go through the widow journey without hitting patches of anger and resentment and wanting to lash out whenever an opportunity presents itself. I have been there myself. It wasn’t fun though. I felt just as awful when I was in that mode as I had before I entered or even after I exited. There was no release from the anger, and it was wrong to purposefully bring negativity to a place, like the YWBB, where people were doing their best to rise above pain and hurt.
I left the board today*. It was time. And it may seem cowardly or defeatist to walk away from trying to help those who are truly in need of solace or advice and reassurance from someone who understands, but there is an underlying negativity about the place, that actually may have always been there and I didn’t notice, and a meanness in the loudest voices that can’t be overcome by just one person. There are dead and dying souls there. People who will never be whole, maybe because they never were.
Mr. Pitts posed an interesting question in his column “How can you fix a deadness of the soul?”. I wonder about that too. His reply was that there are days that you can find the answers and fix the problems and then there are those times when the answer is that you must simply accept what is. The living dead wander among us. There is negativity and meanness in the world that cannot be overcome by simply handing out hope and understanding. There are no answers, just more questions.
It reminds me a bit of the musical by Steven Sondheim, Into the Woods. There is a scene in the second act where the Baker leaves the others to the mercy of the Giant who has invaded their land because he is overcome with grief over the death of his wife and the belief that his baby son would be better off without him. The Baker encounters the spirit of his recently deceased father who reminds him that running away is not the answer to any problem he sings,
Running away, go to it.
Where do you have in mind?
Have to take care.
Unless there’s a where
you’ll only be traveling blind.
Just more questions.
There is meanness in the world. I don’t have to be a part of it. I have a where. Canada. A new life with Rob. And, there are different questions to be asked and answered more in tune with the forward momentum of my life now.
I am sure I sounded self-righteous and judgmental in my last two posts today. It was hard to keep a neutral tone, though I did try. There are many people there who are wonderful and thoughtful and positive. They are the majority actually, but like many majorities they are largely silent when meanness rears its head. They are cowed by its shrillness and reduced to its ugly tactics and means when they object.
I don’t have answers. I only know what is best for me. To move forward. To acknowledge the sadness when those moments arise and refuse to step back into the darkness.