Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | April 26, 2015

up to you

 There must be something in the air. Friend after friend is experiencing similar trends in their lives. We share questions and struggles and maybe a scrap, a tiny elusive rag of hope. Where is home? Who am I after this? How do I make this life into something worth living? What do I value; with what and whom do I choose to surround myself? How can  I  be of value; what do I have to offer?

A comment from a stranger, J, on something very personal (duh) I wrote about experiencing new love in its various permutations after widowhood: “I could NEVER do that. My husband was my best friend for over twenty years. I miss him WAY too much.”

Believe me, J, I could not picture it either, until it happened. It’s like you can’t imagine ever laughing again, until you do. If you haven’t laughed yet, I can absolutely tell you that you will. And it will feel GOOD and right and true. Maybe truer than before, even. Because of what you know now that you will NEVER unlearn.

On dating, companionship, sex, love, marriage? I have nothing to offer except to relate what is happening to me. I am not saying companionship, sex, love, happiness in any form takes away any of the pain we felt then, feel now, and obviously go on feeling for years spiraling out into the future. That was my point. One in no way cancels out the other. Each throws the other into even starker contrast.

I get you. My husband was my best friend, too. Known him since I was 17. Married 20 years before cancer took him away. Watched him going, going, gone. It was the hardest thing I ever did, and an honor I did not deserve. He died midsummer between our child’s high school graduation and when she left for college. Talk to me about Empty Nesting. If you dare.

2015 will be six years, July 17. A date that will live in my own personal infamy. I wouldn’t even remember how I lived in Year One and Two, how I survived, except that I wrote it down.

I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. If I had enemies.

I don’t presume to say your life will be good again. Because it is all up to you. A force of will I hadn’t imagined being able to summon in Year One is just the way it is now. The way it HAS to be. I rebuilt the whole fucking thing from scratch and so will you, if you choose and when you can.

I have tattooed on thin tender skin over bone “it is what it is”. Just a little note to self, our private joke. I got the ink on the first anniversary of my husband’s death. I couldn’t think of any other, better, more sacred way to observe that date.

In early days, widowed friend Megan D. shared a video story of a man who built an unconventional life his own way. I scribbled a line onto a sticky note, where it has lived on my fridge for half a decade: “If I only scrape out a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping.”

As widowed friend S. Nova (inventor of the sums-it-all-up hashtag #iminlovewithadeadguy)

says, in permanent ink, if you get my drift,

“Live a life worth living.

Make it so. Or don’t. It is all up to you


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