This week has been a long one. I watched Mrs Doubtfire last weekend and ever since when people pose difficult questions to me I find myself wanting to call them Poppet and wax philosophical in a bad English accent. No seriously.
This week we said goodbye to our friends in group therapy for the summer. While we were standing around watching kids destroy a car. Which is great therapy if you are angry at the universe BTW. One of the ladies in my group shared she had attended a conference recently and found herself bored and angry at those presenting. She wanted meat in the presentations such as your life sucks, this is how you make it better. What she found was people who shared miracle stories all with happy endings. It made her feel like she wasn’t deserving of a happy ending. How crappy is that!
I got news for you…we are all looking for a happy ending. So how do you over come loss? What do you do when your prince charming, knight in shining armor is suddenly gone? What if you prayed for a miracle and one didn’t appear? How do you go back and have faith?
This is what I wish I would have said to her instead of pretending my kid needed me. Sweetheart, you can do everything in your life right and have it still go horribly wrong. What if we reframe everything? As widows we “what if” ourselves almost to death trying to figure out how this possibly happened to us. So, what if you agreed to this? If you are a religious person, most believe we were somewhere before we came to earth. I like to think my earthly sojourn is my mission. I am here to do my best, do good deeds, and lead others home. So…what if our mission calls included becoming young widows?
What if, your experience is a miracle? Can you imagine yourself taking care of small children and an incapacitated spouse? What about all the tender mercies that have happened since your spouse died? All those are miracles too. We don’t often recognize them because it’s a day to day thing but they are real. What if the loss is really a gain? Sounds kind of harsh doesn’t it but have you thought about if they had continued living?
In my situation Jerry’s death was sad but it was also a relief. We could stop living on egg shells. We didn’t worry about what we were coming home to. We were spared from watching him further decline and lose control of his body and mind. I was in the process of finding a facility for him to go to for his own safety when he died. The heartache and pain of doing that to him was killing me and my sons. I’ve often thought of what would have happened had he not died, to me that is far worse than what I’ve been through as a widow.
People don’t go to conferences to hear Debbie Downer stories. I can’t imagine trying to keep the attention of widows in the midst of widow fog. Does shiny objects mean anything to anyone? But, here’s the thing. If you are speaking at a conference and all your references are magical postitive outcomes, you will alienate some people. Understand that if you’ve grown up here in Utah, perfection is expected. If you are not perfect…well it’s inadequacy after inadequacy. You are dealing with insecurities under a microscope. Unless you get real. This inadequacy thing is why people abandon churches and go gasp “inactive”. Most religious people would be astounded at the number of apostates who really know their theology and have a pretty good belief system.
When Jerry died my friend Kari showed up with a bucket of suckers labeled for when life sucks. We all consumed those suckers for months because life was sucky. But I learned from Kari to be real. Let people see the suckage. Lean in to it. I started writing, and exposing my life to the world. Some people didn’t like it but it made me deal with things I otherwise would have ignored. These things would have festered and I certainly would not have moved forward as I have.
I learned that my God is a kind and just God. He’s not scary. There isn’t fire and brimstone happening. He weeps when T feels lonely. He comes to me when I am afraid. I learned that my God doesn’t keep Sunday hours in a church. He keeps God hours in a Universe. He leads good people into my life to help me over the hard spots.
I want my young group therapy friend to know that even though your happy ending came early, you still had one. I also want her to know that God doesn’t take away something without giving you something greater in return. Will that be a new love or the courage to be a solo mom. Only time will tell but take it one day at a time. Enjoy where you are at.
One thing I know for sure is that my whole life prepared me for this time in which find myself. All the pain, heartache, and sorrow was worth it. I find I reference periods of my life and think “holy cow, that’s why I had to know X or why this happened.” I use skills I never thought I’d use and if that isn’t a miracle I don’t know what is.
I get that I’m different. I always have been and now instead of trying to fit in and hide it I’ve embraced it. I actually like being different. I have done this widow thing the only way I know how, with humor, hard work, and friends. I’ve done it my way. I’m proud of the widow I am. I am proud of the widows in my group who seem to have a harder time of this journey than I do. These people became my friends, they inspire me to find ways to help others. I love different than I used to and for that I am grateful.
And so Poppet, life is difficut sometimes but if you reframe the negativity into something positive it makes it easier to cope and grow. Afterall, that’s what we are here for.
Fiddle Dee Dee, here’s to blessing you and yours from me.