Sunday, August 12, 2018

I miss potato soup

Widowhood changes so much. It is not just about losing your mate.
It is also about losing a life together, a future planned.
And the little things that make living together so precious.
I used to love cooking. Not the every day type of cooking. Not the "We're home from work and it's late and we're starving and what can we throw together?" type of cooking or even the usual run of the mill every day cooking.
No, I miss the cooking days John and I used to have every so often. There were some Saturdays that we would decide to make soup and it would literally take all day. There was one particular soup that was our favorite - potato soup.
Potato soup started out early in the morning by peeling a mound of potatoes. Then we made what was called Garbage Soup. This was a soup that was simmered for hours by making a soup of the potato peels and lots of garlic and spices. This made a broth to base the potato soup on. Some of it we saved and froze for minestrone on another soup Saturday.
After the garbage soup was just right we made the wonderful potato soup. Its aroma would fill the house, making us hungry and impatient. To tempt our taste buds even more, I would bake some bread to dunk in the soup. In the early days I made the bread by hand, kneading it on the kitchen counter top, getting out any frustrations from life in its bulk. Later, when we had more money, we bought a bread maker and just timed everything to be ready together.
Then - then! - that evening we would sit down and feast on our day's work - potato soup and crunchy bread. A feast for a king.
Was it an especially tasty meal? Yes, because - potato soup. What's not to like about potato soup? But there was more to it than that.
Making potato soup is one of my favorite memories about my earth life with John. I go back to it often. And I talk about it to my friends with fondness.
Making soup with John was a treasure because we spent happy time together. We laughed. We talked. We played with our fur-babies. We hung out in the kitchen all day together. Nothing else mattered on those days.We lived in our own world surrounded by good smells, good food, and love.
Lots and lots of love.
Today I eat a lot of frozen dinners, usually in front of the TV. I've been known to make a meal out of tater tots.
Dinner has become just eating.
I could make potato soup again but it's not the same. I'd rather just cherish the memory of the days I spent cooking with John.
But I miss the cooking - I miss the potato soup days - and I miss him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Widowhood - one size does not fit all

Even though it has been a few years for me since John passed and I think, for the most part, I have come to terms with my new life and what it means for us that John and I are no longer on
the same plane, I still read books about grief and coping because I am a firm believer in learning. Every little tidbit helps.
But I am seeing something else in all the books that I read (and I am referring here to those self-help books that speak to the every day issues of losing a soul mate - not the spiritual/metaphysical ones).
And it seems to me that even when these books are written by the widows themselves, they seem to feel that their experience can be translated to all widows and their advice is gospel.
Let me elaborate.
I am currently reading a book about reclaiming life after the loss of a mate. The book is written by a widow who was married to the person she feels was the love of her life. They were married for 25 years, first marriage for both of them. She has been widowed for 10 years. And she is now in her early 50's, was in her early 40's obviously when she was widowed and was the mother of two teenagers at that time.
About 30% into the book she sneaked in the fact that she has been in a relationship with another man for the past several years.
The plot thickens.......
Mind you, I am not critical of the fact that she is in relationship. No one wants to be alone.
What I am critical of is that she assumes her situation can just be translated into all situations.
Yes, she had some good ideas that resonated with me. But overall she was speaking as a younger woman and what she was feeling did not necessarily apply to every other woman (or man, for that matter) in the same grief situation. She was still working, raising children, had her own home, a large support system, and was financially well-off.
Her philosophy was "get out there, seize the moment, remake yourself! You can do this! Rah! Rah! Rah!"
Compare that to an older woman whose children are grown, who might not have the same support network, who might be on a fixed income, facing deteriorating health and friends dying off, who has been with the love of her life for 60+ years.
Or a widow who was in her second marriage after having had a bad first marriage - and now has lost again.
Or the widower who has suffered other losses - maybe a job at the age of 50 and now is facing decreasing job opportunities because of his age and then loses the one person who meant the world to him and was the rock in his sea of sadness.
Or...
Or...
Or...
The examples are as endless as the people involved.
My point is this. Yes, these self help books are useful. But those who write them need to step back for a moment and realize that what works for some does not work for all.
Maybe we don't want to remarry.
Maybe we don't have the luxury of going to a widows' retreat and "remake' ourselves.
Maybe we don't see this as a chance to do the things we've always dreamed of. Maybe what we always dreamed of has just died with our mate.
I am not critical of those who re-mate after loss. More power to them.
It is not for me and I know that.
And I also know that the choices I make for me are not the choices another widow or widower might make and that is also right - for them. It is not my place to criticize, judge, or preach.
Nor it is anyone else's.
Write the books. Give advice. Let your life be an example of possibilities.
Just not from your Mount Olympus on high as if you have all the answers.
Because you don't. You have one set of answers.
One size of healing does not fit all.
There are as many ways to move forward from loss as there are the people who move forward.
Namaste.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Fear of flying, dying, and living

Recently, a woman in a Facebook group I belong to that is made up of men and women who have lost their soul mates posted how she had no love for life any more and just wanted to die and be with her mate. She was not suicidal, just bereft and no longer experiencing any joy in life.
Sadly, I can relate.
Ever since John died, it is harder to love life as I did when he was here.
But I know it is my soul's job to do it anyway.
Remember the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong? Women of my generation [the Boomers] saw it as a revolutionary book, part of that daring wave that ushered in the feminist movement. It was a catalyst that jump-started a new way of thinking for women. Like it or not, a revolution full of women of courage and free-thinking had begun.
In my opinion, death of a soul mate does the same thing to widows and widowers.  I used to have a fear of dying.
I don't now.
And it wasn't so much the dying part that scared me. It was the death part. It was that great unknown after the dying part that kept me up at night.
Then when my mate died, I added another fear. Fear of living.
I didn't see how I could go on without him. How would I cope? How could I get through a day without him to share with, to talk with, to love with? 
And then things slowly changed.
The loss of my soul mate started me down a path that surprised me. The desire to know where he is and how he is caused me to study with a vengeance I didn't know I had.
It gave me opportunities to learn and grow.
It brought friends into my life I never would have had.
It gifted me with a strength I never would have believed.
It destroyed my fear of living and dying. Now I know I will be reunited with my mate and I look forward to it.
And I can make the most of the days I have here until that time as well.
I can write and reach out to others.
I can appreciate a sunrise and time spent with friends.
I can enjoy a book while curled up on the sofa with my cats and my dog.
I can live and I can look forward to death, enjoying both and fearing neither.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Phone call from Heaven

Yesterday was my beloved Aunt Mary's birthday. Mary Flowers died last December. It still breaks my heart to think about that. I miss her very much. She was my second mother - in some cases, more than that.
But that's a story for another day. All that is important right now is that she and I loved each other very much.
And she has gone on to heavenly Home.
And yesterday was her birthday.
So, I was thinking about her and texted her daughter and we reminisced and consoled each other.
Then, not two minutes after we stopped texting and I went back to my computer, my desktop phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and my heart stopped.
It said Mary Flowers!
My mind tried to make sense of this while the phone continued to ring. I know her son David still lives in their home so I thought perhaps he was calling me to talk about his Mom too. Although the timing was eerie.
I picked up the phone.
"Hello?"
No answer.
"Hello? Hello!"
Still nothing.
I hung up and immediately started crying after wishing my Aunt a Happy Birthday.
Could it have been her?
That's crazy! She can't call me.
Or can she?
Crazier things have happened. I know. I have experienced some of them.
So, tears still flowing, I called my cousin, the one I had been texting just minutes before and through my tears told her what had just happened.
She too was mystified but was willing to believe that somehow her mother might have had something to do with this. The timing was just too coincidental.
But just to be sure, she called her brother to see if maybe he had called.
As it turned out, the number that appeared on my caller ID was David's cell phone [he still has the account in my aunt's name]. He said he was at the park and was trying to call his friend and had hit my contact information by mistake. And then had hung up when he realized his error.
OK, that makes sense.
But as far as I am concerned, that still implicates Aunt Mary.
Because the call happened at just the right time. My cousin and I were texting about Aunt Mary on her birthday and thinking about her with a lot of emotion - energy which reaches our loved ones. JUST AT THAT TIME, David, miles away in New York, decided to call his friend but his finger makes a mistake and hits my name instead putting the call through to my phone and making my Aunt's name appear in front of me.
What are the odds?
No, I know that was Aunt Mary doing what she could to say Hi and acknowledging our love for her on her birthday.
Love lives on!
Namaste.


Friday, June 15, 2018

I believe

I believe any of us who have lost a soul mate would give anything to have our spouse back again (healthy and whole, of course). 
 
But we know that can't be so we have adapted. 
We are getting through the hour, the day, the week. 
And soon it's years and we are still here and we are better at the journey than we were. 
We learn what it means to do things alone.
To sleep alone.
To eat alone. 
Each day is a victory of sorts. 
And each day brings us closer to being with our Loves again. 
And that makes the journey worth it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Grief doesn't end; it changes

In my belief, death is a change, a mutation of being. 
My Beloved still exists, not as I want, but as he is. 
And I have to accept that as being part of our journey until I too change and mutate to that level also and then we will be together again. 
And I know I will and we will. 
It's what keeps me going.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Eight years today

Today is the anniversary of John's passing into his next life. Eight years ago today I woke up to find our world changed forever.
I was devastated. I had no idea how I would or could go on. I wanted to be with him and if that meant death for me too, so be it.
But that didn't happen.
And slowly - very slowly - I recreated my life.
A life without John physically here but still very much a part of my life - our new life together.
And truth be told, many things would not have happened if John had not gone ahead of me.
So I celebrate John's life and our life, then and now.
I celebrate the love we have and the journey we continue on.
And I look forward to the day when we are together in the next life - a new journey.