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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Birthday

For as long as I can remember in my marriage, I had a thing about birthdays. It was not just mine. I decorated the kids rooms with balloons and presents even when they were infants. As far as my birthday was concerned, I wanted the world to stop and for the people in my life to throw me a party. I wanted to be the only house that mail was delivered. I felt conflicted about this-how narcissistic of me to want this! But I wanted it anyway. And there were many years that the anticipation of my birthday coming-just did not measure up to the day. The first year that I was married was devastating. Bruce hinted for weeks how special it would be. I purposely did not make plans with anyone-so that I would not ruin his "surprises". To his credit, he planned a wonderful event-we went in to the city (NYC) to see a play and have dinner and I kept on thinking that at some point, I would see my parents and my friends around every corner. But that was not part of his plan. Finally we arrived home, "for the last surprise". I felt sure as I walked the dog that I would get home and the crowd would be waiting. My last surprise of the day was the GREEN CAKE, something that I hated throughout my childhood and hoped never to see again as an adult. Being born on St. Patrick's Day left my birthday diet full of green items-something I abhorred when the food was not naturally green.

I cried then, full of disappointment about the day and wanting so much to have my folks and friends celebrate with me. Bruce never did get that the birthday was about my wanting a celebration and not just with me and him. He was so happy just to be with me and did not feel it necessary to share me with others.

The years that followed were full of some excellent birthdays as well as other disasters. But I am choosing now to remember only the good ones. There was the birthday in Santa Barbara at a beautiful bed and breakfast and lots of presents over a long weekend. There was the surprise party he made me and I was really surprised! One year after work the kids and Bruce blindfolded me and took me for ice cream sundaes at Ghiradelli. There was the year that Kate made dinner for all of us - a wonderful Italian meal with lots of courses. Some of the years we traveled and I spent the day at the airport waiting to be whisked away to some far destination. I think the first one was to Paris for Kate's graduation trip and the second was on my sabbatical when we flew to London. In recent years, Bruce started giving me a week long celebration and had presents waiting for me every day.

And now? Since Bruce died, I do not care about my birthday at all. Maybe this will change. It is just another day, just another reminder of how much I miss him and how much my life has changed. The kids try and make it special-but I still dread it and cannot wait for the month to pass. What follows the birthday is the anniversary of our marriage. This year would have been 36 years-on the 26th. Too painful to think about - even after 2 years.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Widow's Story

I am reading "A Widow's Story" by Joyce Carol Oates. It is not an easy read, as her husband died suddenly and she is totally bereft without him. I am a third into her narration, and she is almost "sleep-walking" through her days, and being helped by kind friends and a variety of medicinal aids. Of course, I can totally relate. What is the most interesting thing about the story is that apparently 6 months after her husband's death she remarried. I read something about her while just beginning to read the book, and she mentions her husband and his name is different that her husband in the book. I was astonished and did some searching on the web. Sure enough, the reviews refer to her wedding and the fact that she does not discuss this in the book.

So-what do I take from this? Am I encouraged that as devastating as the loss of a long time spouse is (she was married 40 plus years to Ray and they were as close as Bruce and I were), there is life after? Am I a bit shocked that she was able to reach out of her disabling reaction to her husband's death to date and remarry within such a short period of time? Is that the healthiest of reactions vs. the long adjustment period that I seem to be having? I guess I again wonder how this all proceeds from here......

What is healthy behavior post spouse death? Is the healthiest thing to create a new life and move forward? Do I wait until I am ready? I am not even sure what that means....