As a society we are quick to make judgments of others, quick to stamp others with "labels."
From what we do to for a living, to the choices we make, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, our political affiliations, socio economic status, our religious beliefs and practices. The lists go on and on.
We are quick to pass and give judgment. On people's work ethic, on people's beliefs, on their parenting styles, on the way that they grieve, on the way that they drive, on the way that they eat. We as a society judge and label everyone. Have you really ever sat down and reflected how others perceive you? How about how you perceive yourself? Are the judgments fair? Are they accurate? For a little over a year now I have had WIDOW stamped on my forehead. (And yes it's large enough to have that word written there.) It is an accurate label and I am coming to terms with having that stamp, as long as people remember I'm so much more than just a Widow.
It is easy to get bogged down in the negatives of life, to tally our losses, to always want more. More love, more money, more time. It is easier to be negative than positive. It takes more energy to be optimistic than pessimistic. What we really need to do however is embrace what is here in front of us. Embrace today. We cannot worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Embrace what you have. Try not to be so judgmental. Try to think and know how your thoughts and actions affect others.
Yes I am a widow. You are correct in your assessment. Walking into a crowded room, surrounded by people I may or may not know I have never felt lonelier. That is being a widow. Walking in a store and stumbling because I smell Daniel's cologne on another man, that is being a widow. Having your four year old watch the slideshow from his dad's funeral over and over again makes me a widow.
But I am SO much more. A mother, a sister, a daughter and granddaughter, a therapist, a leader, a strong woman, a hard worker. Think before making quick judgements of yourself. Think before making quick judgments about others. Fight for optimism in the pessimistic world we live in. And remember you are loved and supported by many.
The past year has been extremely tough for me and for my children. I started this blog as an outlet for myself and also for others, widows or not. I hope it appeals to many in various shades of life.
My first widow reached out to me this past week and with her permission I want to share some of her story. It truly helps put things into perspective.
"Like all young widows, my story sucks. I met Jim when I was 21, and we dated for 3 years. We got married when I was 24. He was a wonderful, popular and well-loved teacher at a local high school. He had always wanted jetskis and in January, 2015 I finally agreed and we bought a pair. That was the biggest mistake of my life.
On a beautiful day in March, we took them to the lake to ride. I had my daughter, then 6 years old on the one I was driving and Jim had my son, then 10 years old with him. Sadly we did not stay together while riding. A little while after beginning to ride, Jim and JP, my son crashed into a dock at a high speed. Jim was killed instantly. A doctor and a retired marine saw the crash and pulled my son from the water. He had a severe brain injury. He was airlifted to a regional hospital where 6 pieces of his broken skull were removed. I did not learn of the accident until after I searched the lake for 2 hours and an officer finally came to find me.
Miraculously, JP survived. He was in an induced coma for 2 weeks. Upon waking, he was unable to move his left side, speak, or eat. Eventually, he was transported to a larger children's hospital where we stayed for inpatient intensive rehabilitation for 2 weeks. After completing rehab, he underwent surgery to replace his skull pieces last May with 30 titanium plates and screws. After much therapy, he is perfect! He is in 6th grade and making all A's. He can walk, talk and do everything any other child can do except play sports. He takes medication for seizures but he has not had one in a month! My daughter, Sarah Marie is now 7 and JP is now 11. Missing their daddy is heartbreaking, but we are surviving just like you. I struggle with the why, how and what the hell am I going to do! One of the worst parts as you know is the loneliness and quite honestly the loss of a companion when everyone around me has one. I had a happy marriage with zero regrets except for that last awful day. Jim was the greatest husband, dad and best friend in the world."
What I am learning through this treacherous journey is that we all have a story. We all suffer through trials and tribulations in our lives and we are all seeking a similar goal. To enjoy life. After Holly shared her tragedy I felt fortunate. My children were not in an accident. I did not watch either of them fight for their lives as I stumbled through my grief over losing Daniel. After she shared her very personal journey with me she wrote, "I try hard to laugh every day, but in my mind, there is an enormous amount of profanity running through in ridiculous combinations!" I believe we should all seek to laugh every day. Live freely and love deeply. I am sending love and support to Holly and her family and am grateful that she chose to share her story with me and now with all of us.
We are often so busy and overscheduled that we do not take enough time to stop and breathe. I mean really breathe. Take a few minutes today and do something for yourself. Read. Watch some bizarre show tonight to make you laugh or maybe make you think. Paint your toes. Meditate. Run. Have a glass of wine or a bottle if you are so inclined. Whatever helps you feel centered, take the time, or better yet make the time to do something for yourself.
Thank you to all of you who helped commemorate this day for me. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing, selfless family and friends.
Happy Mother's Day
to each and every mother out there! I hope you all got the break you deserved today.
Single parents deserve a medal and I truly believe that. Parenting is the hardest job out there, so most parents do deserve a medal but doing it alone is extraordinarily more difficult. Many days begin in a frustrated state because you need someone else to help you. Just one day. You need someone else to help with the dressing, the feeding, the answering 100 questions, changing the diapers, getting the shoes on, making the lunches, changing the sheets because someone couldn’t get up in the middle of the night or someone else peed through their diaper after they demanded three glasses of water before going to bed, getting them in the car, taking them to school, all completed before starting your work day and arriving at a reasonable time. Is anyone tired yet? You need two people.
"Yes," I tell my son's childcare worker "I am aware his shoes are on the wrong feet. He likes them that way, and I promise you I am not going to fight with him about that. And yes, his shirt may be on backward or his pants too big. I am happy and satisfied that we are all three arriving each day in one piece." I am a big believer in choosing my battles. The way my children look at daycare is NOT a battle I contend with.
How many people can empathize with me on this? Every morning I follow a similar routine of getting up, putting the kids in front of the television or on their iPads (judge away) so that I can have the half hour to jump in the shower and get cleaned up. After I get out of the shower I come to the table, get them breakfast and get them settled. (Thank God they can finally feed themselves. This is at least ten minutes of savings) I usually break up a fight or argument sometime during the morning (thankfully they are small enough that the blows are manageable). I listen to the oldest tattle on every single thing the youngest is doing, including coloring my tile floor with red crayons and shoving every possible toy he can find under our couch. I run back to my room to dry my hair. While I'm drying my hair, the boys come in and put their clothes on, (we are working on completing this independently right now but it’s slow moving). I walk out to the kitchen table to make sure they've eaten and have made a manageable mess. (Most of the time one has and one hasn't). I get on the other one to go back to the table while I do my make-up. Sometimes another fight ensues, sometimes they play great together and the morning is blissful. I get myself together and hope that there's no snot or milk on any other bodily fluid on my clothing, and hell with it if there is. No time to change. I grab their backpacks and pack my lunch, all the while hoping they're not tearing up the house or jumping from anything too high. (There is no time for broken bones) I tell them to go get in the car and it never fails. Every day when I'm ready to walk out of the door somebody needs something else. I think we are going to make good time but someone always has one last request. "I need to go find my toy. I need to take this today for this reason. I need to poop. I need Mickey." It never fails!
Where is the spouse or the other partner to help you battle the needs and wants? Break up the fight, split the morning demands?
If you are a parent, I commend you. If you are a single parent, regardless of the reason, pat yourself on the back or grab a drink and slam it down. You are doing one hell of a job.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.