Total Pageviews

Friday, May 20, 2011

Camp Widow

Sometime last year I came across a website that was called Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. There was a camp experience call Camp Widow-particularly designed as a weekend about loss of a spouse. It is right down the block-in San Diego. I only discovered it after the 2010 weekend. This year I am contemplating signing up.

Thinking about camp reminds me of my childhood. I spent many summers at "sleep a way" camp in the mountains near NYC. The summers were both terrifying and rewarding. I cried at the start of the summer because I was homesick and at the end because I was leaving camp for home. It was hard to make friends and get acclimated to the environment each year. I often felt isolated and as if I did not belong. Funny how I never felt that way once I was married and had a family. I knew that I belonged somewhere-Bruce and the kids did that for me. Now alone again, those feelings still are there. But I am getting better about feeling more comfortable on my own. I can be in a room and not know anyone and as long as I am interested in what is going on in the room and have my security blanket (my knitting), I am fine. Those feelings persist and accounts for my trepidation about going to camp.

I have met some amazing people on this journey. Most of them are widows. Easy to reach out to those who have had the rug pulled out from them-like me. I enjoy their companionship. Maybe it is that we do belong to a group of sorts-we have a new identity and that identity forever changes us. So in addition to being a nurse and a teacher and a knitter, I am now also a widow.

So I think I will sign up and once more go away to camp. And maybe there will be tears this time too-maybe even some homesickness and some fear of making friends. But I have learned that I am a bit resilient and that when I am feeling really bad that perhaps that too will pass.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Little Things

There are a few things that I deliberately changed after Bruce died. First, I did not wear jewelry. Not that I accessorized all that much, but I did change earrings and wear pins and some of the beautiful necklaces that he purchased for me. After he died, I closed the jewelry box and never opened it. I just recently started wearing some of the pins that I have-most of them quirky comic relief items. And I do wince mentally when I think of how he and I would laugh about the choices that I made with respect to the pins that I wore.

I still have difficulty changing my earrings. I had trouble caring about my appearance after-so putting on make-up was hard. I do wear minimal make-up now.

I stopped buying flowers for myself. Before Bruce died, I bought flowers weekly. I am back to buying flowers again.

I have difficulty watching anything resembling a situation comedy on television. Life just isn't that funny. It would delight Bruce when I would watch a program that made me laugh out loud. Hard to find anything truly entertaining at this point in my life.

Funny how these little things speak volumes. I almost wanted to be immersed in a world of gray and black-color was not available to me on grief street. I guess the inner pain needed to be reflected outward. I still wear lots of black. If I were Catholic - I would have contemplated moving in to a convent. I needed that dark silent place to mimic what was happening inside.

How much his life touched mine and how his loss irrevocably changed me.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What defines us

I have heard people say that the death of a spouse should not be what defines us. But how can that not be true-such a big part of my life, more than half at this point. How can Bruce's death not be part of who am I now?

My husband's death is what defines me. I awake every morning as a widow-someone robbed of a vital part of my life. I go on with my day and occasionally I lose sight of my widowhood and for a moment, I am again Jill, Bruce's Jill and then I remember.

It has been a major trauma in my life-perhaps the greatest trauma I have known thus far. Ironic then that I am expected to create a new life from the ashes. How does one do this? I am still at a loss and function in a kind of one foot in front of another reality. I know that this is not enough-but how to move past the life I once crafted over so many years.