Second Edition


Kindred Spirits

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A soul mate is a once in a lifetime thing and when this lifetime is through the departing soul crosses to the other side where it waits patiently to be reunited with its mate because it is incomplete without its match. Like a pair of socks.

The patient part alone is more than enough proof that this theory is not true. I can’t remember a time when Will waited patiently for anything. Much as he loved me, he never let me forget that I kept him waiting in the beginning.

Our match was, in some respects, purely an emotional and physical one; we had very little in common in terms of interests in the very beginning, but I knew the moment I  saw him that we would be together at some point. It began as a friendship, and when he decided this was no longer enough, he waited me out an entire summer while I dated other people and got over my fear of the emotional intimacy he represented. It’s impossible to say how we would have held up over time, but had I not met him, I would be never married today.

The topic of soul mates comes up from time to time on the YWBB. One of the first times I put forth an opinion about it in my early posting days, I came down on the negative side. At least this is according to Rob, who is currently cleaning out his collection of favorite posts. He ran across my original reply over the weekend and brought it up when we were on messenger the other night night waiting for my daughter to fall asleep.

I have thought more about the soul mates issue since as I have run across other posts that mention or discuss it. I am still not inclined to believe in it myself. I think that what is meant, when someone refers to their significant other as a soul mate, is more in line with the idea behind kindred spirits. In fact Rob made reference to this term once in our early correspondence. According to the dictionary it means “of similar nature or character”. I do think that sometimes you just connect with some people in a way that defies logic, and that some people are destined to be a part of your life. I don’t think it is a once in a lifetime thing though, and I think that this can apply to non-romantic relationships as well.  For  example, I knew my daughter before she was born, and she has actually told me that she chose me to be her mommy, not once but twice.

Rob and I are kindred spirits. I sensed it a bit in the beginning when I would read his posts. It was a feeling that compelled me to reply to a post of his in the General Forum one night. I offered to be his “evil twin”. I needed to meet him. Learn about him. Know him. I have experienced this before, with Will of course, but also with friends I have made over the years.

I have no great guru-like theory myself about this type of connecting, but I’ve read, or maybe heard, the following one somewhere, and it makes sense to me. This theory is based on the assumption that reincarnation is a fact and that we will live our way through multiple lives on this plane before moving on to the next. It proposes that we go through eternity with a set group of kindred spirits, or soul mates if you prefer, with whom we are always connected. Our relationships change from one lifetime to the next. Husband/wife. Parent/child. Siblings. Friends. There is the inevitable ebb and flow which naturally takes on different dimensions when the vast breadth of time is considered, but the connections are always evident to us.

What’s funny to me is that the people most likely to be spouting the soul mates line are those least likely to be introspective enough about relationships to require likeness of mind in a prospective mate to justify the label in the first place. It is purely a physical thing with them. It is love at first sight with a heavy emphasis on sight. The sharing of ideas and values is less important than the establishment of mutual chemistry. In my opinion that is not what is meant by soul mates, as they explain it, and is certainly not kindred spirits as I know it. A poster on the board wrote something to the effect that she didn’t believe that two people could, or would, reveal their innermost thoughts via email or on the phone. I suppose that is true for some. For me it would be impossible to keep myself to myself and from someone with whom I felt I already knew. I trusted Rob with my first blog entries before we even began to correspond in earnest. My blog was raw and rambling and much of what I wrote could have been easily misinterpreted, but I knew I could trust him and he has more than shown that my trust is well-placed.

When I read about looking for another soul mate, I am puzzled. Kindred spirits seek each other out and with the help of destiny, cross time and space to be reunited. There are 1500 miles and an international border between Rob and I. There was a 10 year age gap between myself and Will. Rob and his late wife, Shelley, were born 2300 miles apart, but in each case it was meant to be; we all found each other. It is not a matter of finding however so much as being found which for the most part means simply being open to the possibility.


why I dance

Image by bluedance via Flickr

I have actually been working on a new entry on and off all day. It’s about soul mates. Something I don’t really believe in, which I think is almost heretical for a widowed person to say. But when have I ever followed the widow herd? Okay, maybe there were times when I did,  but certainly not meekly.

 

It is nearly done, the soul mates entry, but I am too tired to finish and post it tonight. The weekend was long. Getting my house ready for sale has been emotionally draining. Dee has been whiny for several days and finally had a little meltdown this evening. She is ready to start moving forward too it seems as she cried for her “daddy” Rob and her “big sister” Mick at the same time.

 

On the board today I have made several attempts to stem the tide of negativity about dating in general and men in particular. But it did no good. There is no choir there to back me up. When you learn to sing well enough, you leave.

 

Why don’t I?

 

I guess I feel I still have things to say, though it is mostly just trying to be a positive example of what can be for those who aren’t far into the journey. I remember when I first started posting. I looked purposely for anyone who had something hopeful to say. I am not a freak in that respect.

 

The house lists officially tomorrow. Another step in a forward direction.

 


James Tissot - A Widow

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The link at the bottom of the page is to a column in the local newspaper. My personal opinion of the paper and its editorial writers is fairly low. The newspaper itself is generally light on actual news, and whatever course reporters take in journalism school to learn about bias and the importance of neutrality and fair and balanced reporting is evidently not a required one judging from the slant in most of the news articles I have read. Columnists are generally exempt from being non-judgmental. In fact they are paid o be opinionated. Infuriating columns are read by those on both sides of the issues. Employing an irritating columnist or two (or all in the Des Moines Register’s case) is good for the business of selling newspapers. Newspapers are not in the business of reporting news these days, or maybe ever, as an educated and informed populace is not the point. News is entertainment and going strictly by the number of talk news shows and the heads that populate them, some people are being entertained at the expense of those who need to be informed.

Although it is hard to pick a least favorite member of the Register’s editorial team, Rekha Basu probably ranks close. She favors heavy-handed liberal social agenda stuff. Her style is fairly dry, and she is preachy. Her late husband was a much better writer. His style was personable in a story-teller way and had he chosen heavier topics, I think he would have easily proved his superiority. My dislike of her is personal though. It goes back to the early days of Will’s illness when I was trying desperately to get him on SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). Having been told by the kindly young man who walked me through the application process that it was fairly likely that Will’s claim would be denied, I was willing to try anything to call attention to our plight and elicit some help in getting him accepted. At this point I had already sent emails to both state senators and several legislaturers. I would eventually receive help from the Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, but at this point I was desperate.

Someone I knew thought that I should contact Ms. Basu. This person was a fan of her writing and thought that Will’s story was the kind of cause that Basu usually took up. And I have to admit, she does use her column to point out social inequities and injustices an often uses real life stories of Iowans to do this. Not feeling I had anything to lose, I sent her an email as well. Within a few days I returned home to a message on the answering machine from her and asking me to call. I did. I never heard back from her.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned, through her husband’s column, that she had joined me in the widow in waiting club around this time when he was diagnosed with ALS. Will was in a nursing home by then. It was closing in on the last summer of his life. I don’t think I paid much attention to the news coverage and columns that followed but to note that it must be better to be famous when you were terminally ill because you seemed to get more help and support that way.

She lost her husband the June after Will died. There was a lot of press coverage. She was sainted. Shortly after she began writing her series on Surviving. In her widow’s zeal to make sense of her tragedy by helping others, which many of us do early out, she wrote about all forms of loss as though they were equal. Any widow can tell you that in no way does losing your spouse compare with divorce or unemployment, but she was very early days and, evidently, number than most at that point.

There was a message board attached to the series. It invited people to comment and tell their stories. I was just coming out of the fog at that point, and shy I am not when it comes to sharing my opinion and feelings in a message board forum. Let’s just say, I could have employed more tact. But since no one ever responded to me, I quickly lost interest and went elsewhere.

A couple months later, Ms. Basu wrote a column about the WET group, Widows Experiencing Transition, that was active in the metro area where I lived. I had been trying desperately at that point to find a support group that wasn’t online. The only ones I could find though were mixed groups, not just for those experiencing the death of a spouse or for groups or widows and the divorced which I couldn’t fathom attending. Thrilled to know of a real live widows’ group I sent her an email. Judging from her reply, she had read my posts to her message board and apparently I was not someone she wanted to hear from. She sent the contact information for the group but wrote also that she didn’t think I was the kind of person who would benefit from it. Ouch. I wrote her an apology and then scurried off the the UK widows’ board to flog myself for having hurt her feelings. It was only then occurring to me that as the further out, I should have been more cognizant of the tone of my posts and more supportive of her efforts. It was a mistake I have since strived to avoid in my dealings with “younger” widows.

I don’t read Rehka Basu’s work much anymore. I find her writing clinical and self-righteous still though I was impressed by the piece she did on profiling when her son was victimized by it recently. I also read her column about the death of her mother-in-law which kicks off her semi-dormant surviving series was again. The link is below.


Packing For The Move

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I have spent the day cleaning and packing. The house goes on the market this week and in realtor talk is in need of “de-cluttering”. Not there is much in my house anyway. We had only just moved in when my late husband was diagnosed with his illness and honestly, I only unpacked what I needed. The rest sat boxed up in the basement or forgotten in closets. We didn’t have much furniture because our previous home had been very small. We’d planned to update and refurnish but neither were ever accomplished. So the house is furniture light and toy infested for the most part.

 

Since last spring I have been purging in spurts. Preparing myself  for something is how a friend put it. “You’re getting ready for a move,” she told me. “I’ll bet within a year you will be somewhere else.” At the time I was still in that numbness that claimed me during the first six months, but I did have sense that something was coming. It drove me to find some way to move forward with me life as it simultaneously drove me crazy.

 

As I work my way through rooms and closets, I am discovering things I hadn’t known I had forgotten about, and it gets easier to find these memories and appreciate them without letting them throw me into a tailspin of sorrow. I don’t know if it is the same for Rob. He is still going through his “firsts” and I am into “seconds”. Odd notion, seconds of something you never wanted in the first place.

 

Another widow in my WET group, who is also selling her home, remarked to me at out meeting last night that she have wished she could just rent one of those large dumpsters and just empty the contents of her house into it. So many things have memories attached to them, but basically it comes down to just have too much stuff. I told her that in my next life I was just not going to buy things. Perfect the art of minimalism. I have fantasies of being able to fit everything I own in the back of one of those little UHaul trailers. Just a fantasy though.

 

The purging of material goods is upsetting my daughter more than it is me. Earlier in the week my oldest niece stopped by to pick up some of the baby items I still have and take them to an old high school friend of hers who recently had a baby. The girl needs pretty much everything by way of supplies, and I am happiest giving my possessions away these days, especially to those who are in more need than myself, because I don’t consider myself needy anymore.

 

After dealing with a teary, whiny child both last night and this morning, I come to find out from her that she thought I should have kept the baby things because “babies need a lot of things and can’t share my things”.  She still harbors the belief that Rob and I will give her the younger sibling she longs for quite desperately. Even after a long talk as we drove to the dress shop to try on her flower girl outfit, she refuses to believe that I am very serious when I say there will be no baby brother. Despite her bravado and her real desire to move to Canada and start a new life, she is just a little, little girl who thinks her daddy will not be able to find us if we move and that a baby would still be better than the big sisters she is getting.

 

Whereas my daughter mourns the items lost to our move, I would gladly dump nearly all we own at the local Goodwill. Clothes, dishes, kitchenware, furniture, everything. It is all part of the past. The past with Will. The past when the future was bright. The past of waiting while he died. The past year of grieving. I don’t live in any of those realities anymore.

 

Whenever I speak with someone about Rob, the wedding or going to live in Canada, the conversations reference words like “fairy tale” and “dream”. People will tell me that they are so happy for me because I deserve to have some happiness after all I have been through. I don’t see my life now as dream like or Disneyesque, and I know of people who suffered far more than I ever did and are not contemplating nearly as wonderful a future. I am not really much different than anyone else. We all have opportunities come up over the course of our lives and some are seized and others let by. The opportunity for love came along in Rob and for him in me and we were optimistic enough, and smart enough, to recognize it and accept.

 

And so now I am cleaning for a move.


The Canadian Border Services Agency at the Pac...

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I know many immigrants. They are primarily my students, and they hail from countries nearby like Mexico and from places far away such as Bosnia, Russia and Sudan. They have come to the United States both legally and illegally. Their reasons for coming are as varied as they are. Some came to be adopted. Others with their parents who were seeking jobs or relocating close to other family members. They are political refugees fleeing war torn homelands or seeking asylum from religious persecution. Above all they are kids who smile and laugh and do all the same things that kids do regardless of where they live on the planet.

 

I hear the rhetoric and read the news. Immigration is a hot topic in the upcoming presidential race. The president wants to create a guest worker program for those who are living and working here illegally. It is not an entirely altruistic gesture. Businesses benefit greatly from the use of cheap undocumented workers. I am not sure I completely go along with the argument that these workers are doing work that would go undone without them or that the low wages they are paid depresses wages for the average American citizen. There is probably more to it than that. I do know that there is no way to stop many of these people from coming here and there is definitely no practical way to send the millions who are here already back to their countries of origin. Giving these people status might keep them from being exploited to the extent that they are.

 

Ironically I find myself on the immigrant side of the question these days because I am marrying a Canadian and going to live there. Immigration, it seems, is not the simple thing that our President makes it out to be in his stump speeches. There might be a reason so many poor, under-educated people from south of our border chose to sneak past the Minutemen zealots who patrol their little stretches of border. It is not simple.

 

I have a college degree. Two in fact. And I am finding that the correct information pertaining to my situation to be not quite so comprehensible at times. It’s like anything else to do with government here, or anywhere I would imagine. Everyone reads the same websites and pamphlets and then feels free to interpret it. English is my native language but even reading the information myself doesn’t always answer questions, and I find myself more and more empathizing with illegal parents of my legally born students. Doing things by the book should mean that the book is easy to read and understand. How can people follow the rules if the rules change depending on who reads them and what kind of a day he/she is having?

 

It is exciting however. To go and live in another country. In the states we tend to annex Canadians whenever it is convenient for us. Generally we believe that they are just like us in all things and it is more than just a common language and ancestry that we share. But they are different it seems to me and it goes beyond the “politeness” that my fiance claims Canadians are famous for and this in spite of the fact that they “swear like truckers”. I don’t believe that Canadians feel themselves to be above the world or that there aren’t places beyond their border that are worth more than a cursory inspection on the way to Club Med or the nearest version of McDonalds.

 

One of the first things I am asked when I mention that I am going to live in Canada after Rob and I get married is if I am going to become a citizen and would that mean giving up my citizenship. I don’t know. About becoming a citizen. For the moment, I just want to live in the same place as my husband and be able to send my daughter to school, but I do know that if I should decide to do that someday I would retain my citizenship here as well. A curious thing that people should worry about that. As if they believe that giving it up would exile me to something worse than a third world existence.

 

The next question relates to the weather. Winter is a long season up in Northern Alberta and those who know me (and those who live in Canada and have only heard of me) wonder how I will adapt. And the answer is that I will. I have a lot of incentive after-all.

 

I have always marveled at those who could leave everything behind and start over. Envied them really. I have never been too sure that I had it in me to do anything like that, but in just a little more than two months I will be in Canada.

 

An immigrant.

 


"Under the horse chestnut tree", 1 p...

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I have never pretended that I ever wanted to parent on my own. As a matter of fact when I turned 31, I actually spent a few months comtemplating  single parenthood. Not because it was becoming a trendy thing, but because I really couldn’t imagine not having a child of my own. I came to the conclusion though that it was too daunting a task and much too unfair to a child to go it alone. 

 

Imagine my surprise when the fates went ahead and made a single mom of me anyway.

 

It isn’t that I am not good at it. I am commended right and left for what a wonderful child I have, but I often wonder if they are merely saying that and the unspoken part of the sentence is “for not having a father..” Because the truth is that my little girl is headstrong and spoiled. I have been too distracted and too tired and just too grief-stricken to hold the lines that needed holding as often as they should have been held.

 

Case in point is that she still sleeps with me. She has slept with me almost from the beginning. I am assured by other two parent families that children do sleep with their parents. It is more common than the majority let on and that eventually they all sleep on their own.

 

I feel like a failure nonetheless.

 

Neither I nor any of my siblings ever slept with our parents in their bed. Their bedroom as a matter of fact was strictly off-limits. I have memories of hovering in the doorway to their room and asking to be allowed in. Even in the middle of the night. Even if I was ill. I never even tried to broach the door if I had a bad dream. I would just pull the covers over my head and grip them tightly to prevent whatever monster I had dreamt of from gaining entry.

 

I bring this up only because I worry that this bad habit I have left to its own devices will become more of an issue once the summer comes and we are in Canada with Rob. He is patient when it comes to my parenting skills, but he is far and away the expert. It must take quite a toll on his inner Virgo to tactfully approach subjects concerning my daughter. 

 

We had a semi-conversation about sleeping arrangements tonight on the phone, and although he brought up nothing I hadn’t already thought about, I still felt bad afterwards because I know firsthand that no one was ever meant to do this by themselves.

 

I wonder more often than not who she would be if there had been two of us raising her.


Fear of Bats?

Image by IceNineJon via Flickr

Devils Den is actually known for its bats. I didn’t know that even though I did consider it very probable that we would come across bats in the cave we planned to explore while we were there. I decided however not to tell Rob that I am afraid of bats ahead of time. I didn’t want him to think I was going to be a “girl” about similar adventures in the future, and I just thought I could conqueror my fear by not looking up. You don’t look up. You don’t see bats. You are not afraid.

The cave itself has history for Rob. He has been to the park in the past, most recently on his memorial trip for his late wife, Shelley, last November. It was during this trip that he broke his flashlight while back in the cave and, because there is no light source anyway but at the mouth of the cave, he had to feel his way out. It was a profound experience for him.

He “borrowed” the white disposable coveralls we wore from a work site so that we could attempt to go back further in the cave than most of the general population of campers at the park go. To do this you have to climb and crawl and it is damp and muddy. The coveralls were to protect our clothing. Rob may be all guy but he is a Virgo and they just can’t get past their “be overly prepared” natures. Case in point, we did not carry flashlights. He had dropped and broken his in November because it is difficult to carry a light and manage other tasks. So, he found small lamps that we could strap to our heads. They proved to be quite efficient light sources, and Rob loved his so much that by the time we had hiked back down to the road after our caving adventure, he had a small list of activities for which this wonderful new gadget might prove useful.

The cave was somewhat narrow, and it wasn’t long before the coveralls had earned more than their share of “useful” points. When we reached the spot where most people turn back, Rob asked me if I wanted to try and go in further. Surprising even myself, I was game. I didn’t have to be. He would have been fine had I chickened out but I wanted to go on. For him a little, but mostly for myself. I am not claustrophobic at all and since I hadn’t looked up even once, the whole fear of bats had not been an issue, but I am afraid of the dark. I always have been and since by husband’s death last year, it has been worse than it was even when I was a small child. Rob had asked me if I would be okay if we turned out our lamps at some point and I had said yes, but the truth was that I would have been only if he was standing right next to me with both arms wrapped tightly around me. The only time my house is completely dark at night is when there is company staying over after all.

So, up we went. Crawling and contorting and twisting and climbing up and down until we reached a very tight space with very little head room. So little that keeping my eyes off the ceiling was becoming a difficult thing to do as it was practically in my face. That is when I heard Rob tell me to stop. Why? I wondered. Well, I was about to scrap a few bats right off the ceiling with my cap.

I decided I wanted to turn around. I am sure the tone of my voice said everything that I hadn’t earlier. It took a few minutes of carefully directing me to get us turned around and on our way out. It was now that Rob felt the sudden urge to look up himself, and he was amazed enough at the number of bats he saw to comment on them near constantly until we emerged from the cave’s entrance.

I don’t think that he was disappointed in me. He teased me quite a bit, but that is par for the course when he catches me out about something. Anyway, it is not the kind of teasing that I remember from my childhood. It is playful and I can tell he is quite amused by what he refers to as my being “cute”.

I don’t think caving is going to be high on our list of things to do in the wild.