Friday, January 27, 2017

The Shoes

The video from the link above prompted this piece of writing...

The shoes.

I was okay until I saw the shoes.

Unless you've had the unfortunate experience of walking out of a hospital with nothing but your spouse’s shoes shoved inside one of those pathetic “patient's belongings” bags, I’m not sure you can appreciate the significance of the shoes.

In life, shoes can take on several meanings whether we are walking in someone else’s shoes, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or simply longing for a pair of shoes we hope will alleviate back pain or complement our favorite outfit.

In death, they take on an entirely different meaning.

On the afternoon of August 14, 2015, I walked into my house carrying nothing but Marv’s shoes (and what was left of his shorts the medics had cut off him). When my friend Annette greeted me at the door, I held up the aforementioned bag and said, “This is all that’s left, Nette.”

In that moment, it was a miserable truth that unintentionally captured the injustice my children and I had witnessed just hours before.

Later, I would realize that the shoes shoved in that bag in no way represented all Marv had left for us. But in the moment, the unidentifiable shreds of his shorts did a much better job reflecting the way I felt.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Mom is a rooster, up in the wee dark hours telling everyone to get out of bed and get moving.

Mom is a homemade dress and a tuna fish sandwich--two things the other kids ridicule but secretly admire.

Mom is the judge, the jury, and the lead detective, making tough decisions based on the information offered as well as the information she suspects was withheld.

Mom is the Magic 8 Ball, foreseeing the future and warning of dangers ahead.

Mom is a game of Twenty Questions:  "Where did you go?"  Who all was there?  What did you do?Who drove?  What did you eat?  How much did you spend?"

Mom is a radar detector, a microphone, an enigma decoder: seeing and hearing off-the-grid conversations and "reading" body language better than a private investigator.

Mom is a field of red tulips and pink peonies (pronounced pee-o-neez), blossoming beautifully in the spring, looking forward to an action-packed summer.

Mom is a floppy hat, huge sunglasses, and "Did you get sunscreen on your nose?" at the pool or beach.

Mom is a pat on the back for a job well done and praise withheld in the face of a half-"hearted" effort.

Mom is a warm kitchen that has been open since six, the counter-tops filled with pies, cookies, and the makings of our next hearty meal.

Mom is an unexpected snort in the middle of a laugh, causing contagious giggles that spread through the house.

Mom is a brag letter at Christmas, the champion of all things family, our greatest advocate, our biggest defender, our most vocal fan.

And now, as she observes from beyond, I pray she is nothing less than a watchful angel who wears the robes of satisfaction and contentedness--a woman proud of her posterity.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Demanding Understanding

As someone who has both witnessed and experienced her share of life’s tragedies and emotional bodyslams, I am noticing a trend in “support blogs” that is starting to wear on me. It’s an attitude of I am going through something hard and I DEMAND that you understand my circumstance or How dare you judge me in my difficulty and/or have an opinion about what I’m going through?

The bottom line is you can’t stop human nature, and truth be told, very few of us can explain our difficulties in a way that will evoke true empathy in others. Compassion maybe. But seldom do any of us experience the exact same situations in life, so perfect empathy is not even a possibility. Trials are kind of unique that way.

I don’t even expect other widows to understand my journey, and sometimes I get a little uncomfortable when other widows say things like…”You know what it’s like” when really, maybe I don’t. That said, all of my friends (widowed or not) have offered me a great deal of comfort just by hurting with me, crying for me, and honoring the choices I’ve made since Marv’s passing. No one can SAY anything to make my situation better or make my heart stop aching for him, and by the same token, no one can SAY anything that will make being widowed worse!  

So why would I waste energy focusing on what people are SAYING about my decisions as so many “support blogs” do? Yes, I knew people would have opinions about everything from my choice to attend church just days after his death, to going back to work just three weeks later, to remarrying just ten months into the grieving process.  And if you don’t think I caught vibes from people about my decision to marry Marv’s brother…(Hello, THAT doesn’t happen every day). what?

The opinions and judgments of others didn’t change my situation, nor did they make my life any harder. In reality, these people were simply giving voice to things I might have thought two years ago:
“What are you doing here?”
“I could never do that.”
“I’ve heard of marriages like this and they never work out.”
“You really think Marv would feel that way?”
“I’m not ready to remarry; I love my late spouse too much.”

Anything negative came from a place of ignorance. Any concern (I hope) came from a place of love. And if it didn’t, those people don’t matter so I have since distanced myself from them.

It has also come to my attention--not through gossip but more so intuition from casual conversation--that some people didn’t know Marv like they thought (or I wish) they had. And that has to be okay, too. He didn’t have anything to prove in life, and he certainly wouldn’t want me wasting time trying to prove anything about him--or us as a couple--in order to placate others in his death. He wants me to live as happily as I can without him, and yes, I believe he has guided me through all of my decisions in the past year and a half.

In order to follow through with these decisions, I could not worry myself with the opinions of others. I shudder to think of the happiness I would have missed out on if I had.

So, to those who are wasting energy on what other people are saying or thinking about their situations, I beg you to focus on healing in your difficulty and stop demanding that other people understand your circumstance. The fact that they can’t does not minimize your trial. In fact, it may give it more credence than you realize.  And if my perspective doesn’t help you, go out and find some genuine friends who know when their opinions are helpful and when they need to keep their mouths shut and their questions to themselves.

Thank YOU for being the kind of friend who "gets" that you don't have to get it.