The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
Monday, August 4, 2014
DIARY OF AN UNWILLING WIDOW
August 4, 2014
Today would have been my grandma's 90th birthday.I miss her.Since Paul has died I have often wished she and my other grandparents
werestill alive so I could tell them
what has happened. Although, then they would just worry about me. I wouldn't want that.
Randomly, it occurred to me awhile back to wonder if perhaps one of the
torments of hell is lies.Who is to say
that Satan or his demons do not whisper lies to Hell's inhabitants about their
loved ones still on earth?I know that
Paul knows that I am being taken care of and that all this is ultimately for my
good. He has no reason to be concerned or sad for us.But I don't think the residents of Hell have
that assurance.Makes me sad, even if
I'm just guessing about the lies...
I watched an episode of "Good Times" the other night.It's a 1970s sitcom that airs on one of the
"retro" channels.I watch bits
and pieces of it every so often.I don't
remember seeing it as a kid.It's set in
the projects of Chicago and details the life of a fictional black family in the
"hood."I have a feeling it's
probably pretty sanitized from what life was really like 40 years ago in the
ghetto! This episode that I saw was where the father of the family had died.Mom has been left with 3 partially grown
children.It naturally caught my
attention!The family is home from the
funeral and are receiving guests in their tiny apartment.The kids are openly weeping and growing more
and more agitated because Mom is playing hostess.She refuses to let anyone hug or even touch
her, but graciously receives the hams and cards that are brought to her and
makes sure everyone has enough to eat.By the end of the reception, her kids are convinced she's a callous ogre
and her close friends are openly concerned at her lack of apparent grief.
I was lying on my bed watching this and nodding my head all the way
through.I totally got it!I didn't cry a single tear at Paul's
visitation or funeral.I very nearly
lost it when my two closest friends held me at the funeral, but I still held it
together.If I didn't, it wasn't going
to be pretty.So I mustered up every
ounce of self-control I had and soldiered through the events.I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but
it's what I needed to do.
On the show, everyone finally goes home, amidst admonitions to Mom to
"call if you need anything" (yeah, right).She insists on cleaning up the apartment and
shoos her children off to their bedrooms.She begins to tidy up and suddenly takes a huge bowl and hurls it to the
floor, screaming, "Damn, damn, damn!"Her children rush in and she collapses in their arms, sobbing.I laid on my bed watching this make-believe
story and bawled.Writing this out makes
me cry again.Whoever wrote that story
episode 35-40 years ago was intimately acquainted with grief. But nobody watching that episode could understand the character of the widow except another widow.
So, a 40 year old tv show can still make me cry which tells me that my own
grief is still pretty close to the surface no matter how often I laugh, tell
funny stories about my children, or think about the future.It's a constant presence.
Which makes my next thoughts a little odd.But maybe not really.
I'm going to talk about remarriage because I've been thinking about it
I'm not ready for it.I'm not even
ready to date.I know that much.If I did, it would be for the wrong reasons
and I'd be sizing up every man against my memories of Paul.That's not fair to anybody.I'll know when the time is right.But, still, I do think about the possibility
of remarrying someday.Will it
happen?I don't know.I look at my aging body, my expanding
waistline, my six children, my stubborn nature, and think that there is NO way
someone would ever want me again.However, I could be wrong about that.
It is hard for me to think of remarriage at my age favorably in comparison
to young, first marriages.Those
marriages are exciting and fun.The
couple may be dirt poor andas dumb as
rocks, but it is delightful to watch them step out together into a marriage
adventure.So much awaits them.They're going to build their entire lives
together. The day they say, "I do" they are establishing a brand new
But when a middle aged couple gets married, what awaits?The very fact that they are entering a second
marriage means that they have scarred hearts, one way or another.If they have children, they're entering a
LONG adjustment period (I have heard that it takes a minimum of 7 years to
firmly integrate as a step family).What
do they have to look forward to?College
tuitions for all their children, anxiety over inadequate retirement savings,
and aging, sagging bodies that are only going to deteriorate with the passage
Towards the end of our marriage (or the "completion" of our
marriage as I heard one widow say recently - I like that) I found that I
particularly appreciated the sweetness that came with knowing Paul for so
long.We grew from some not-so-smart
early twenty-somethings into maturity - together.We had an exclusive bond with eachother.I could look at Paul and know what he was
thinking.He did the same with me.We couldn't do that in the early years, but
the closer we grew, the easier it was.Every trial we endured bound us closer and
closer.We had a long, shared history.I was looking forward to going into old age
with him because I knew him so well and he knew me.That was when we were going to bask in
what we had accomplished together - our beautiful home, our bevy of
grandchildren, and everything else that goes with the golden years.
You don't get that when you marry someone in your middle or elder
years.Paul looked at me and didn't see
the wrinkles and gray hair.He saw me as
a pretty 19 year old.I knew that even
when I was 94 he would still think I was beautiful, even if the mirror
told me othewise.But in a second
marriage, the spouse gets the declining years of the other's
attractivness.They get the illnesses
and increasing doctors' visits.I'm
scarred up from having four c-sections.Paul certainly wasn't bothered by that.After all, he was partially responsible!But it's certainly not going to be attractive to a spouse who doesn't
share those children who made the scars.
I think I am probably missing something here and it's probably something I
won't understand until/if I do fall in love again someday.There must be some appeal for
remarriage.Otherwise, nobody would do
it.But right now, I can't even quite
fathom why anyone would even want to attend a second wedding!
That said, it doesn't keep me from thinking about it from time to
time.If I do remarry, I don't know what
kind of wedding I'll have.Maybe we'll
just go say a few words in front of my pastor.But, I don't think I'd be against having a real wedding again,
either.I even stumbled across a musical
piece I think would be perfect for walking down the aisle to.I don't dwell on it, but whenever this piece
pops up on my mp3 player, I do sometimes imagine what it might be like if I did
marry again.Presumedly by then I'd have
worked through my reservations against second marriages!
For the curious, it's the theme music to the movie, "Forrest
Gump."Love that piece!In my mind it evokes such strong emotion -
nostalgia for the past, but embracing a new future.On the way home from church last night, it
came on.Ben likes it too and always
wants me to turn it up when it comes on.We listened and then Ben asked, "Why do you like this song so much?"I was in an honest mood and I told him it
makes me think about the possibility of remarriage.I said that while darting nervous glances at
David.He typically does not want to
hear about or entertain the idea of me remarrying.I added to Ben and for David's benefit that
if it ever happens, it won't be anytime soon - probably a long, long time from
now, if ever.
Ben smiled and said, "Well, I hope it's sooner.I'd like to have a dad again."
Broke. My. Heart.
I don't know if there's a specific reason the thought of remarriage is on
my mind lately.I know it's not time to
seriously entertain the thought or to put myself out there (how does one do
that anyway, at my age, I wonder?), but still, I wonder if that's the case, then why,
lately, has it continued to be brought to my attention and thought life?
I visited some older friends/neighbors last Friday.Mostly I just sit and listen and they are
thrilled to have someone willing to listen to them talk.I used to visit them regularly but since Paul
died I just have not had the time.So, I
was sitting with them and Charlotte says, "You know, you'll never find
anyone like Paul again.There just isn't
anyone as wonderful as he was!"Well, that was a bit depressing...
And then yesterday my brother put up this long quote by Bob Marley on
Facebook that basically said we only get to have one perfect love in our
lifetime.Sigh...Not that I consider Bob
Marley to be anywhere close to a prophet, though!
So yesterday, on a whim, but probably mostly to silence the thoughts that
clamor incoherently, I started a handwritten list.A Future Husband must...and I listed out my
"musts."He must love the Lord
above all else.He must be faithful in
Bible reading and prayer.He must adore
my children.He must be financially
principled, but not a tightwad...and so on.Anything that was negotiable in my mind (snoring, the ability to come up
with amazing birthday presents, and love my cat) I left off the list.If I do this again- and that's a big IF right
now - it must be done thoughtfully and I must not make a mistake.There's too much at stake this time around.
And then today a friend randomly posted a link to a blog post written by
Tracy Klicka who is the widow of one of the lawyers at Home School Legal
Defense Assoc, of which we've been members since beginning homeschooling.Her husband, Mike, died just a few years ago
from complications of MS.She's
remarried.I did not know that.And she met her husband on a Christian dating
site, which also gave me pause.She
wrote this post about how it is good to be married and how thankful she
was that she had been willing to embrace life and love again. She listed out reasons why second marriages can be wonderful.
So, all these thoughts and incidents at the same time.Is God preparing my mind and heart for
something down the road?
Time will tell.In the meantime, I
continue to grieve and heal, bit by bit.I learn to be independent and to wear the mantle of widowhood
gracefully.I learn to seek God above
all else and let everything else fall into place in His time and in His perfect
A week or so ago we were driving somewhere and out of the blue, Sam asked,
"Why did Dad die?" I knew he knew what had happened, but I explained
again the circumstances of his dad's death."No," Sam shook his head, "Why did my dad
die?"And then I realized he wasn't
asking for the medical technicalities of what ended Paul's life.He wanted to know why his dad had to
die.Why did it have to happen at
all?Fighting tears, I thought quickly
how to communicate this in a sensitve manner while keeping my eyes on the road
and being heard by Sam who was clear in the back of the van.
Lizzie piped up.She always has
something to say, so this wasn't unusual.This time, though, if I had not been driving, I would have hugged
her.She answered Sam simply,
"Because Dad did everything he was supposed to do here on earth.It was time for him to go to Heaven."
And just like that, Sam was ok.I
know that he won't always be ok and I am sure I will have many, many
conversations with the kids about death and dying and God's perfect plan in the
months and years to come.But for that
day, Lizzie's simple reassurance was all Sam needed to hear.
I took a deep breath, turned the radio volume back up, and kept on driving.