The other day, I cried on the way to work. Though the arrival of tears was discouraging, I quickly realized that it has actually been quite some time since I have experienced this. Perspective is good — sometimes.
Later the same day, I cried again. I was reading a message from a long-lost friend whose father died when we were very young. It’s amazing how quickly the events from that far back come tumbling back into my memory. Our messages went back and forth a few times, and I learned that her mother suffered a horrible depression. I wasn’t surprised to read this, but I was surprised to hear that she never recovered from it. My friend likened the experience to losing her Mom, as well as her Dad. She cautioned me to keep living. Perspective, as I’ve said, can be good — sometimes.
I wonder how others may see me. What was my BoBo’s perspective when I quit running in a desperate attempt to reign him in? That might have been mistaken as letting myself die a little. Then there are those who have noticed the 10 pounds of weight that I put on since my husband’s death. What is their perspective? You may say that it doesn’t matter, but I’m not so sure. It all depends on who these people are. It might be you who views me as dying. Will you share your perspective with others long after I have truly passed?
I fear that I have reawakened my friend’s pain after all of these years. I am sorry for having done that. The topic came up for other reasons. Now that several days have passed my perspective has changed a bit, but I admit that I am still digesting the conversation. I am trying to understand it better for my own sake.
It is too easy to compare myself to this woman. The times alone, offer a huge consideration to the hurdles that she must have faced. I need only think back to my parents divorce, which was around the same time, to realize the first of many differences. Our family was the first on the block to experience divorce. I spread like a cold, not long after that. Initially, however, people were not only judgmental about it, they often didn’t know how to act around me. Obviously, I only know divorce from my experience as a child. I would guess that my parents experienced a similar awkwardness around their adult peers.
Now imagine your husband dying and leaving you a widow at a very young age. This might have been even more alienating than divorce during those times. Even now, people just don’t know how to act around a young widow. I am thankful to just be invited to social events — even when I cannot possibly attend. Let’s face it; you cannot help but realize the mortality of your spouse, or even yourself, when you think of the situation. Now, think of a stay at home mother of 5 young children. How must have this woman’s life changed in an instant? What support structures were in place back then to help her? My guess is that there was very little done to help her — no support groups for young mothers or her children, no resources, perhaps no one come forward to provide a meal when she wasn’t able to function. There is just no comparison.
So when my friend cautions me to keep living, I refer her to my photos to see that I am with the living still. It’s not enough to only keep living. I want to somehow create something good from my loss. Maybe it is simply by writing down my experience of grief so that others might learn from it. Perhaps it is a more active form of helping others to cope with loss. Time will tell, but I will keep living.