Monday, April 22, 2013

When Death leaves you in the Lurch


First, You Cry.  Remember that book from the 1970s?  In it, Betty Rollin wrote of her transformative experience with breast cancer.

I stumbled on a more recent book of hers: Here's the Bright Side: of Failure, Fear, Cancer, Divorce, and Other Bum Raps , published in 2007.   I'd say widowhood qualifies as a bum rap, wouldn't you?  Death left us in the lurch.  No way around it.

There is a bright side. I couldn't say this better, so I'll quote a large portion of her book.  For all newer widows reading, remember - I've been at this eight years.  Eight years.

"I woke up one morning and realized I was happy. This struck me as weird. Not that I didn't have all kinds of things to be happy about—love, work, good health, enough money, the usual happy-making stuff. The weird part is, when I thought about it, I realized that the source of my happiness was, of all things, cancer—that cancer had everything to do with how good the good parts of my life were.

When I thought about it more—and looked into it and started talking to other people—survivors, not only of cancer but of various other of life's infinite variety of bum raps—failure, divorce, illnesses and reversals of all kinds, death of a spouse, and so on—it turned out I was not alone. It turns out there is often—it seems very often—an astonishingly bright side within darkness. People more than survive bum raps: they often thrive on them; they wind up stronger, livelier, happier; they wake up to new insights and new people and do better with the people around them who are not new. In short, they often wind up ahead. There are even studies, scientific studies (!) that show that people often say they have benefited from the terrible things that have happened to them.

Coping well is part of this phenomenon, but there's more to it than that. Within each form of misery, there seems to be something of worth, a hidden prize waiting to be found. Sometimes it's found right away, sometimes not: a painful, debilitating divorce or widowhood can lead, gradually, to a new tranquility within and without. (Not to mention the possible emergence of a swell new mate. Have you ever encountered the particularly dipsy-doodle joy of a newly married widow or widower? A person who thought love was forever buried with a deceased mate, but by golly, here it is again!) "


Thank you, Betty Rollin, for your eloquence. 
Widowhood, you left me in the lurch for a while, but you have given me new life.  I haven't had a sign of grief now, in what, weeks.  I'm happy. Wow.  I got to discover these ~

Faith in God and His/Her Provision
 Doing what needs to be done 'well enough' is well, enough

A fighting spirit,  mine, and yours is there when I need it
A welcoming heart and open mind is all Life asks
Who would've thought, that terrible day death changed the landscape, that the struggle would pay off so handsomely?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Circuit switches, meters, and blind spots

Aah.  That welcome "duh" moment.

I'm not sure which comes first.  The circuit switches, the meter, or the blind spot?  If there's one thing widowhood has taught me, it's that other widows and other people are incredibly smart, and I'd best listen to them.  And this: God is incredibly smart, and I'd best listen to Him or Her.  My own risk-reward meter is off.   I draw the wrong conclusions.  About me, about you, about so much.  I need light bulb moments, when a circuit switches on.  

I had that  "aHa!" moment, followed by this "Well....duh" moment recently.  I'm getting older.  Heck, I just turned 60.  The bod isn't up to some tasks I enthusiastically pitch it into.  I feel and look (to myself) like I'm in my thirties, but the bod says "I'm gonna cost ya if you do this".     Heck.  What's a little pain after you do something?  Pain is weakness leaving the body!  Unless it's not leaving the body.
Well, after a couple years unsuccessfully rehabbing my shoulders, I finally realize I'm falling apart.   "aHa!"   After that, I realize that my physical therapists really do have my best interests at heart and aren't here to make my life miserable by giving me an impossible number of stretches and exercises to do every day.   "Well....duh" 

Don't you just love denial?  

What does this have to do with widowhood?  Unfortunately, a lot.  I've learned more during widowhood after realizing how dumb I am, than I have proving how smart and competent I am.  New situations feel scarier than they are.  The bully called "death" is gone, and still I'm hyper vigilant.  Former caregivers like me have trouble switching 'vigilance' off.  

Here goes. I'm giving up, or trying to, my lingering guardedness.  Eight years have gone by since I was on call in life and death situations.  The landscape has changed.  I adore the new man in my life.  So...Time to say "Cool it and relax, my love. The sky isn't going to fall in.  Besides, I can handle the sky falling in".   It's time to let pleasure be in all the moments it can be, not just in the stolen ones, with a glass of wine or restaurant meal.  Or in moments off the grid in my garden or on vacation or at a ballgame.

It's time.  Others have my best interests at heart. I can relax.

Have you been nudged to see things a different way?  How has this been for you?