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.
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.

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.
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!

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

It's okay

This week is going to be hard for me. I know it.
And it's okay.
This Thursday May 24 is the 8th anniversary of John's death.
I am going to be kind to myself. I have things planned for every day this week. Not to distract me. Nothing can do that. Just to support me. And to reassure myself that I can and will get through this week.
That I will carry John's love in my heart.
That he is still with me.
That it's okay to be sad.
That it's okay to not be okay.
And that is my message to all of us who mourn. It doesn't matter if it's 8 days, or 8 weeks, or 8 months, or 8 years - or more.
We know our Loves still live but we also miss them with every fiber of our being.
It's okay to not be okay.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A promise from John

I turned the car on to head home today. It was 3:33 PM and my music was set to shuffle so I had no way of knowing what song would play.
Then this played.
Thank you, Sweetheart.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Time to pay attention

Was just making the bed and this song kept playing in my head apropos of nothing - or so I thought. John has been sending me signs non-stop the last few weeks and they are picking up in speed and repetition. I need to pay attention.
I think I will have a new plan for my life in a few days or weeks soon.
Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Back in stock!

I was having a problem with my book being available on Amazon but it seems to be back in stock now. Order here.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A beautiful sign from John on his birthday

As I posted earlier, John's birthday was last week. 
John sends me signs just about every day now. 
He especially loves to send numbers. 
His favorite is 43. And every time I see that I stop and say Hello. And I smile, knowing John is still with me.
But sometimes to really get my attention he sends 413 [for April 13] or the one that seems to be the strongest one is 443 [April 1943 - his birth month and year]. 
Last week I was driving to meet friends for dinner. It was on April 13. We were meeting specifically to celebrate John's birthday. 
The readout in my CR-V tells me how much farther I can drive based on the gas left in my tank. 
As I pulled into the restaurant parking lot, this is what I saw on my dash.
John was telling me that he knew we were celebrating and he was with us. Of course I took this picture to remember the sign and as soon as I met my dinner-mates I showed them too.
Everyone smiled. We knew.
Thank you, Sweetheart. I love you.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Happy birthday, John!

Today is John's 75th birthday.
I don't say it "would have been". It IS his birthday. April 13, 1943 is the day he was born and always will be.
So, today I celebrate.
I celebrate the man who loved me so much.
Who put me before himself.
Whose smile lit up my life.
Whose love healed me.
Whose every need I wanted to meet.
Who made morning heavenly and nighttime lovely.
Who made me laugh and taught me to let things go.
Who brought me closer to God and Heaven.
Who in his death continues to teach me about life.
Happy birthday, Sweetheart!

Friday, March 30, 2018


This is my favorite coffee mug. I drink my morning coffee from it every day. I have had it for years and as you can see the colors are fading. The rim, for instance, used to be a bright blue.
Now it is barely a visible line.
Yet, I still use this cup despite the fact that I have larger, and now, prettier cups at my disposal.
Because it was given to me by a woman who was a friend, a mentor, a soul sister.
I say "was" but she is not dead. Not physically. She has Alzheimers disease and is lost to those of us who love her. She is only 6 months older than I am but she is no longer able to care for herself, no longer recognizes her husband.
This once brilliant woman with several degrees and certifications now just wanders the halls of the nursing home she inhabits.
She sat next to me during my husband's funeral Mass and held my hand when it trembled.
She helped me to explore my spirituality and was responsible for accelerating my progression.
We used to have wonderful breakfasts together and we talked about everything and anything.
And now, while she still "lives" it's as if she has died.

And so I grieve for what was.
I mourn what will no longer be.
This blog is about death and how it affects all of us and how my own journey has affected me.
And I choose to include my friend's diagnosis because it is truly a loss for me, as it for anyone who has a family member or friend with ALZ.
I am so grateful for the time I had with my friend. I look back on our time together and cherish all of it.
And I am once again reminded how life can change so quickly.
Whether it's a death or a death of sorts.
Like the once dark blue rim of this cup, life changes, life fades, and soon the life we know disappears.
So, I will continue to drink my morning coffee from my worn mug and thank God for the friendship I was blessed with.
And pray I never forget the lesson.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Happy Anniversary, My Love!

I know I have been posting a lot of anniversaries the past few days but this is another one. March was a big month for us.
Today, March 19, is the 30th anniversary of our Church Wedding.
John and I eloped in August 1981 and a few years later we were remarried in the Church,
And if that weren't enough, in the process of doing this we found out that John had never been baptized. We thought he had. He always thought he had been. But no.
So, John converted to Catholicism and during our wedding Mass, he was also baptized and confirmed and received his First Holy Communion.
It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful day.

And afterwards, we had a wonderful fun-filled party.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. You were so handsome that day in your tux with tails. I was so proud to be standing next to you as your wife.
I'm a lucky and blessed woman.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day, My Love!

40 years ago, on St. Patrick's Day, John and I had our first date. We knew then and there that something special was happening. We were inseparable from that day forward - soul mates who found each other and knew they were finally home.
We have celebrated that day every year ever since.
And so today, 40 years later, I still celebrate this day as one of the most important and beautiful days of my life. And I know John does too. It was always "our day".
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Sweetheart. I miss you. Can't wait to have some green beer with you again.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bunkie Day - March 15

John moved in with me on March 15, 1980 - 38 years ago today.
He named today Bunkie Day and we celebrated it every year.
John thought he wasn't romantic but he was wrong.
This was one of the most romantic things he ever did.
He did many thoughtful sweet things but to commemorate the day our life together started - every year - showed me it meant so much to him..
How could I not find that to be so sweet, so endearing, so loving?
He made us lasagna that first night, complete with a rose and champagne.
Happy Bunkie Day, Sweetheart!
I love you. ♥

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Spirit comes through once again

After seeing my doctor yesterday, I found myself coming face to face with an important decision regarding treatment going forward. Neither of the choices was 100% what I wanted. I found myself vacillating between a rock and a hard place.
Over and over, my mind tumbled. My choice was to do nothing, crawl into a hole, put my fingers in my ears and yell "La la la - I can't hear you." But that wasn't very mature or useful and I knew that.
So, I decided I should seriously consider my doctor's recommendations even though I was afraid.
Then I decided I needed help to know I was making the right choice.
So I asked my spiritual Team (made up of Spirit, my guides, my angels, and John) to send me a sign.
I asked that, if the decision I was thinking of making was the correct one, to send me a feather. 
But not just any feather. There are plenty of plain grey dove feathers around. 
No, in order to clearly know the response, I asked for a colorful feather.
And then I said it could be in any form. 
Oh, and it had to be by nightfall last night. 
Hey, if you're going to ask, ask BIG.
Then just before the designated time I logged on to Facebook and saw that Susanne Wilson had just posted so I clicked on her link to see what she had to say. 
Imagine my surprise when I saw all these colorful feathers. 

Thank you, Team!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Ok, goose bumps over here. One of my friends posted a song by Peter Hollens on Facebook and I liked it. I had never heard of him before so I went on Amazon Prime and downloaded a boatload of his songs.
Many of them.
Just now I was folding clothes and thought I would listen to them so I told Alexa to play songs by him. As she always does she responded "Shuffling Peter Hollens."
And this was the FIRST song that played. It couldn't have been a better choice. John seems to use Alexa a lot this way.
But the lyrics.
They spoke to my heart.
Perfect for us.
Thank you, John.

I have renamed my blog

For years the name of this blog was "Finding My Way".
And it truly was about that. John's death put me in a place I was totally unprepared for and a place I never wanted to be.
Finding my way around that new place was hard and sad and difficult and I resisted it for a very long time.
Now, I can't say that I am happy to be where I am. I would give up absolutely everything and live in a refrigerator box under a bridge if it meant I could be physically back with John again (not sure how he would feel about that :) ).
But I am in a better spot than I was before.
And I can truly say that John and I have forged our way to a new place where there is still love and relationship. And, yes, communication.
No, it's not the same thing as it was before. It can't be.
But at least I am not screaming to the heavens and pounding the walls and scaring the animals.
My book is about our life together - what it was here on Earth and what it is now that John has gone on ahead of me.
I have found my way, so to speak.
Now, I blog about what life is like for me in my every day new life.
I know John is still with me. I know we still love each other and are still lovers. We are still married.
So, it is fitting to rename the blog after the book and after our new way of life.
John IS still with me.
He has never left me.
He will never leave me.
I know that as sure as I breathe.
And I know his face will be the first one I see when I close my eyes to this world and open them up to the next.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Today is my 70th birthday

I walked into my office this morning, my cup of morning coffee in my hand. 
Today is my 70th birthday and I would love to be celebrating it with John. 
But he showed up and wished me a Happy Birthday with love in the best way he could and he made me smile and feel loved.
John has given me many stuffed teddy bears over the years. One of them is very big and sits on top of the bookcase in my office. Sean, one of our cats, likes to climb up there and snuggle with this bear almost every evening.
When I walked into my office a few minutes ago, the bear was in my chair.
Now I know Sean knocked him over, probably as he was jumping back down onto my desk. And the bear was upside down when I found him. He's a little top heavy.
But he was in my chair and that has never ever happened in all the years that he has been up there and in all the time that Sean has been up there next to him.
So, the fact that it happened THIS morning - on my birthday - means something to me. 
I know it's from John. I feel it in my heart. The ribbon around the bear's neck even says Love and he's holding pink roses, my favorite.
Thank you, Sweetheart. It means so much to me to have you with me today.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Happy birthday, Mom!

Today would have been Mom's (John's mother) 95th birthday.
Happy birthday, Mom!
Thank you for being you and for taking such good care of me.
I miss you.
Please give John a hug and a kiss from me.
Holding newborn baby John