Widowed: The Blog

widdaI really wanted to step away from all the grief stuff. Widowhood. People who date widows. Widow blogging. As I mentioned to an old friend from the YWBB days (yes, I did make friends when I was there), grief on the web anymore is about selling it. Promoting a website, a convention, a book or whatever niche business you grew out of the depths of your despair. And if you did, good on ya! Do what you love and know. But I never could get past the idea that I was taking advantage of vulnerable people by asking them to pay me for something that they needed – kindness, advice, common ground.

Now that the YWBB is in its final days, I find myself oddly drawn back in to the community. One that I never fit into really and didn’t derive much direct solace from hanging around on its edges. My aforementioned friend found herself added to a Facebook group of YWBB alumnae (and now you know that no one ever leaves high school just as you suspected and probably feared as much as I do). She in turn added me and quite a few others. It was just like a high school reunion. Right down to my not recognizing a single soul because we are all sans aliases and aside from those who really are my Facebook friends, I have never seen a picture of a single one of them. In between shock and venting (oh, some of us were a tad ragey though nothing like I remember from the YWBB’s wilder west days), stories were shared. Some I recall. Many I do not because I don’t harken back to the earliest days of the board’s existence like many of the story-tellers do. And while we reminisced, the current residents of the YWBB were scrambling to find each other off-site and two hardy members were setting up a temporary refugee board. A kind of virtual muster point that an astounding 400+ people registered at one point before a permanent home was established at Widda.

Though I sort of enjoyed the Facebook reunion group, I found myself far more concerned with the new site. The flight. The information that needed to be shared. The reformation of the group that is rather than the group that was. For me, the Internet has always been a world with real places. People dream about outer space. Space travel. My husband does and so does my middle daughter but the real alternative universes and worlds already exist and better still, we have access to them. They’re on the web. YWBB is a real place to me. Just like Babycenter was when I was there fifteen years ago now. The fact that I can’t touch it, and the method of interaction is virtual, has never stopped me from immersing, meeting, sharing and establishing very real connections and relationships with very real people. Some of whom I know now in real life – like my husband for example – and some of whom I have never even had a phone conversation with – like my YWBB and FB friend, Stella. I met Rob at the YWBB and it’s a story I’ve told countless times and in as many places, so I won’t rehash it word by word, so the board has special meaning.

When I told Rob the board was closing, he shrugged. It didn’t matter to him. He has such a profound faith in our connection that he really does believe we’d have met regardless of the board. I love this about him. But the board is still our meeting place and soon it will no longer exist. It feels just the same to me as when I learned that the Science Center in Des Moines – where my late husband and I established the relationship that would lead to marriage, baby and widowhood – had been closed. It was the week before he died and the day after he died, I went there. Parked in the empty lot and walked around to the far side of the building to stand in the spot where we were standing the evening I realized that I loved him. I just stood there and cried. Said goodbye.

I haven’t cried about the YWBB. But it has brought back memories. Sharp. Stinging. Regretful. And, as per usual, when I am faced with emotions that threaten to swamp me, I act. I shuttled information between the new board and the Facebook group. Searched the YWBB archives, took screenshots and found links that I shared. I even posted again. Lord Almighty, save me from becoming “that widow”, who hangs around the board past her “best before” date, trying to “fix” and emoting far too much. Something that I swore to the imaginary gods that I would never do. And I won’t be her. Not for much longer but as the original YWBB founders feel the need to finally drive a stake through a dying board forum (and sadly, it was dying and this new board is just the jump-start it’s been needing), I find I have just enough widow left in me to pass it backward. Give so that a new haven for young widows can become a new place for others. Sure, there are a shit-tonne of venues for the widowed, but as I mentioned, they drip with the stench of self-help conformity and commercial entrepreneurship. The beauty of the YWBB (and with luck Widda) is that it’s a community of just people. No angles. Nothing being sold or promoted. Just people who hurt, sharing and healing – hopefully – with the help of one and other. Even the worst day on the YWBB, and there were plenty of those, someone reached out and someone cared enough to answer. 24/7. 365 days a year. The board never closed and no one was ever (knowingly) turned away.

Jill is right. I should blog more.

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. 


I have moved my blogging to a .mac account. I like to play with the features, even though they are a bit cheesy and what really matters is the writing. I guess marrying an engineer has geekified me. And it has corrupted him somewhat as well as he annouced the other night that he is considering “going Apple” with his next computer purchase. I am not sure why. He thinks the iTunes mp3 format is “stupid”, but I guess I should have seen this coming when he bought the iPod. iPods are just a gateway electronics. You think, “Oh it’s just an iPod. It’s not like I am abandoning real computer technology. Linux rules.” But, well…..Steve Jobs is one of Satan’s minions, luring us all with the ease and simplicity of functions and cool features that Windows users can only dream about. Before you know it, the iPod isn’t enough. You need a Powerbook and a .mac account. What would Dilbert do?


Image by Gerard Stolk presque 64 via Flickr

One of the more major things that has to be done in regards to moving to be with my boyfriend is selling the house where I live with my daughter. I actually find that a scarier prospect than quitting my job. I am not sure why.

The house represents nothing but the time that my husband was ill. It was my prison in many respects and yet the idea of getting it ready to sell threatens to swamp me emotionally. I think some of it is I will need help to get it ready and I hate asking for helping and letting people help me. Why? Probably my early life experiences have conditioned me to expect people to let me down. My past encounters with “help” have nearly always been that people are willing to help with what they perceive your needs to be rather than what those needs really are or what you would actually like them to do for you.

My initial feelings about this selling business is to just sell it as it is. Whatever I get, I get as long as I don’t sell it at a loss. I just don’t care that much and I really don’t have money to put into it. A fear I have about selling is that it will take time (though I think this is just a fear; something tells me it will sell before the summer ends) and then without a job, how will I pay the mortgage on it while waiting for someone to buy it. Which leads me to other money issues, how do I finish paying off my debts without a job?

I don’t want my boyfriend to do things like this for me.

Even though we have talked (very indirectly) about marriage, it makes me feel imcompetent. And maybe that is what it comes down to really. I am feeling as though I did a very poor job taking care of things this last year or so. I have some debt issues.

The house has updating and minor repair issues that have been neglected. If I were staying here and teaching next fall, I had planned to get all this stuff taken care of but the year’s end. The whole point of getting the master’s degree was to turn the financial situation, imposed on me by Will’s illness and death, around and I knew this woud take about a year.

Going to Canada cuts that time in half, leaves me jobless and with bills still to pay plus a house payment.


Yes and I know what I have said about details. They work themselves out.

Not calming the inner control freak who really hates for people to know when she is scrambling to come up with solutions to problems simply because she doesn’t want to admit that she is in a bit over her head. I know that the sensible thing to do is to tell R that I might need more time.

I don’t want to do that. Not because I am worried about his reaction. I honestly think he would tell me it isn’t a problem and we’ll do what we need to if I have to work the first semester before coming up.

I just know that taking those extra months will not make the transition easier. It might solve the money issues but for my daughter the better thing would be to go and not come back. It would be better for R and I as well. Trying to go back to the LDR thing will not be easy for either of us. So, of course the thing to do is talk with R about all of this. Why is that so hard?

Probably the money thing for a start. I don’t want him to know about the credit card debt. Half of it was emergencies – car and surgery but the rest was stuff that could have waited and wouldn’t have been an issue but for the emergencies that caught me off guard.

Why do I think knowing this might change his feelings for me? It won’t. It’s that conditinal love thing I learned growing up and really didn’t have enough time with my husband to fully shake.


So important and so hard.

Category:Ford vehicles

Image via Wikipedia

I have been thinking, well more than that really, about moving to be with my boyfriend.

He lives in Canada and I had planned to spend the summer with him anyway, but he would like me to just come up with my daughter and stay. It is an idea with many things going for it. Primary is that I love him and want to be with him, but there are secondary benefits as well. It would force me to get serious about what I want to do career-wise. He tells me he is okay with taking care of me and my daughter, so I don’t necessarily need to have a job lined up before I come up. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Perplexed really.

I have worked near continuously since I was 15 years old. Even though I know women who do the stay at home thing, I never really imagined myself doing that. I could write. There is a writing program at the university in Edmonton. I could take a class. Work on my writing. That novel I know is in me. K would be in school half days and I would have time. Staying at home, I don’t know. He asked me, what I think, was an important question last night.

Am I changing just to please him?

I have talked about learning to cook. We were talking about doing laundry which led to the inevitable ironing that I basically choose to ignore. Would I cook if it weren’t for him? Iron? I don’t enjoy cooking now but there was a time when, even though I wouldn’t have called it fun, I did it. For my daughter’s sake more than anything, I know I need to start doing it again. And I do iron when I need to. I just don’t see the need very often and I doubt much that would change (and truthfully, I have never been able to iron dress shirts properly. Memories of my mother’s pursed lips as she inspected my attempts are not buried too deeply in my mind).

There is a lot that needs to be done before I can go and live with him though. I wonder if we are being realistic about the time table. I felt more confident, too, before I told an old friend the other night about what I was planning. She rained pretty heavily on the parade. Some of her concern was unwarranted and based on the fact that I have delibrately kept some people out the the inner loop of my life in the past 6 months, but she made a few points.

It would be easier to do this I think were it not for the scary times of the last few years. They have made me crave safety more than I have in the past. I am still a little fragile though getting better. And then there is my daughter. There is this tremendous sense of responsibility and need to protect her from…..well….everything, and I know it is not realistic. I can’t make life perfect and risk free for her, and I know her well enough to know that what is most important for her is that I be in a place where I am happy. Her happiness mainly derives from mine right now.

There is still a lot to think about, plan and do.