I have heard more than one widowed person lament that they feel like a teenager again sometimes. Usually in response to some dating dilemna or disappointed/thwarted romantic pursuit. Often though, I find mysef wondering if I have not actually started my life over at 17 again. There are days when the only thing I feel is too young, inexperienced and naive to be doing the things I am doing. I feel as though I am playing. Pretending. At work. With friends. Online. My family looks at me with expressions that echo my own bewilderment. Only my daughter still seems to recognize me but even she knows when I am faking it. Knows better than nearly anyone else. The thing I remember most about highschool was the increasing frustration and sense that I was being purposely held back. I wanted so to be older. Twenty-seven or Thirty. I wanted my life settled. I wanted to know who I was going to be. Because I knew I was not her yet. That is how I feel now. I want to know who I am going to be when this journey is done. Where I am going to be. And with who. It’s like looking out the front window into the fog. Past the tiny handprints, beyond the ornamental shrubs where the sidewalk becomes the easement which is swallowed by the misty thick air. That is where I am. The I am that I will be. A dimly perceived outline in a shadowy, but not necessarily dark, future place.
A close friend whom I consider family really lost her father-in-law the other day. He suffered a stroke just before Christmas and never really recovered. He died in hospice on Wednesday. I found out about it when I was reading the paper this morning at work. His visitation was this evening. I wasn’t too sure that going to the visitation was a good idea. I knew that it would more than likely be an open casket. I didn’t know how I would react to see the body. After all I did know him though not particularly well. But, I felt like I should. I can’t hide behind my widow status…not where friends are concerned. I had to take my daughter. There are few instances when I don’t. Besides, last minute babysitters are harder to find than regular ones. I prepped her as best I could and we set off. The funeral home was in a little town to the east of Des Moines. It is a farming community really with the tallest buildings in town being the grain elevators that make up the only thing that could pass as a skyline. We spotted my friend right away and she admonished me for coming. “After all you’ve been through, you didn’t need to.” In some ways though that is exactly why I needed to. All I have been through has altered me in ways I never would have imagined and in ways I am probably not even aware of yet. I didn’t want one of those ways to wind up being “not being there for friends”. We sought out all of the family. Paid our respects, which turned out to be more difficult for my daughter who is now trying t sort out the idea that there are big and small boxes to be buried in. And then, we left. I didn’t feel like crying and still don’t. I feel uncomfortably disconnected in a way that is too familiar. I am proud of myself for not taking the easy pass. It is not what friends should do. It’s good to have another first behind me for a change.
I have been blogging for just over a year now. I started on MSN’s Spaces with a blog I called Widowed: The Blog which I just recently closed down and after I salvage from it the pieces I want, I will delete. Why? Because it’s mine, because it’s served the purpose for which it was created, and because those services are no longer needed. I used the blog as a way to vent, sort through feelings and work through the issues of my life at the time. Occasionally I even wrote something that was topical and entertaining. That blog however represents a time in my life that is over. I was okay with sharing my early journey for a time, but I decided recently that I have shared enough. I could say really that the time has come to move on, because that is what I have done, but Rob hates that term. Normally I use “move forward” out of deference to him, even though that merely implies a forward momentum that is taking you from the point where you were to the point you are. It doesn’t convey, in my mind, the struggle and the introspection that propelled you. Perhaps moving on then is also inadequate. Maybe what has occurred is that I am living now as opposed to existing. I am planning instead of waiting. I know what I know. I am pretty darn special, and I like myself.
This blog too will one day exist only as an archive. I can’t write forever about my personal journey simply because it’s not all that interesting, and it’s not what I am interested in doing. I read other blogs. Blogs by widows. Blogs by women on a myriad of issues big and ordinary. Blogs by snarky wanna-be sports commentators and political pundits. I learn a little bit from everything I read. Makes me think, sometimes. Makes me laugh, depending. Makes me marvel at the beauty and complexity of thoughts captured in the written word like images in a camera lens. They remind me that I am not nearly the writer I need or want to be. They inspire me.
Today is my 150 entry on this blog since I began it on March 13th of this year. I blog nearly every day now. Somedays I even manage to be something other than egocentric. I am not going away anytime soon and even then it will only be to a website I am going to create for myself as opposed to using someone else’s templates. I have found that I like being a blogger. And I would like to take this last sentence today to thank those of you who have read, for whatever reason, and those of you who have commented.