Sunday, December 25, 2011

Second Time Around

It is 11:32 pm, Christmas Night, and I got through my second Christmas without my love with me. It's hard to say how I feel. There is no word to describe it. But it's not good.

I made the Christmas Eve dinner last night like I usually did, and my extended family came over and we unwrapped gifts and partied. I laughed and smiled and drove myself crazy making sure everything was just perfect. Today I went to my brother's house to celebrate Christmas with my extended family and celebrate my niece's birthday, who was born on Christmas Day. Again, fun, laughter, jokes and a lot of wine.

But the whole time, and still, I have a nagging, troubled, and for lack of a better word, "yucky" feeling in the pit of my stomach, over the fact that he is not here. It's amazing how I can partake in happy times, yet be so sad at the same time! It's confusing and uncomfortable, and impossible to explain with mere words. And it's not that this only happens on Christmas, it just happens to be a bit magnified during this time.

So, since I can't really explain how I feel, I'll just stop writing for now. I miss him so much, maybe it is just time for a good cry.

Merry Christmas, my love. I miss you more than words can say.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Not My Fault

I was on Facebook the other day and I read a post by Hyla Molander, a widow/author/inspirational speaker. She was a young widowed mom about 8 years ago, and is now happily remarried with another child by her second husband. She often posts about how thankful she is with her new family and, in her words, “amazing husband”, in addition to posting about her late husband as well. She seems like a happy, upbeat person who has had her share of hard times and has gotten through most of them successfully. Something that most widows strive for after such a horrible loss, but unfortunately, don’t always achieve.

Well, the other day on Facebook, she posted, Just now, the yoga instructor had us open our hearts. When I opened mine, I realized it is still broken. I thought that was really profound, to tell you the truth. Here we have a woman who has seemingly got through and past the bad times to create an awesome and happy life for herself and her children, and then, unexpectedly while meditating, she opened her heart to find that it is still broken, after all these years.

She still misses her first husband. Even though she has built this wonderful life for herself, her heart still breaks for her first husband. And even though I was sorry for Hyla when I read the post, I was also relieved to have read this, because I’ve always thought that my heart will always be broken, no matter where this life takes me or what life I choose to create or not. It made me question myself as to whether or not I was really learning to move forward in my life, and I was starting to feel like it was my “own damn fault” that I am still nursing a broken heart.

Well, now I know it’s not true, and I know it is not my fault. The validation really meant a lot.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chronic Pain

I was talking to some of my colleagues today, and one of them asked me, "How are you doing?" I said I was alright, but she clarified, "No, how are you really doing? How are things at home?" I said, "Well...I'm not over it. It still sucks."

"Has it gotten any better? Easier?" she asked me.

I had to think for a moment. Was it better? No, certainly not better! Was it easier? Hell, no, far from easier. "I'm getting used to it," I answered. That was the best I could do; I could not think of any other way to put it.

"Used to it?" she clarified.

"Yeah, used to it. You know, like when someone has chronic pain. Like my friend who was in a car accident a long time ago...she has chronic pain in her arm 24/7. That's how it is for me. It is a chronic pain, only the pain is in my heart. I've gotten used to it being there. I'm learning to live with it, but I don't like it. I never will. I wish it would go away. But I know it's never going to go away. So I'm getting used to it."

She got it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


If I can consider myself "lucky" for anything, it is that before Bobby died, we were able to say everything we needed to say to each other. Neither one of us had any doubt for the love that we had for each other. No issue was left unresolved and when he died I had no regrets as to something I should have said or done, or something that should have been discussed.

Until now.

Let me explain. Bobby never liked to wear hats. No matter how cold it got, he refused to wear a hat. We were together for 19 years, and I think it took me until our 15th year together to finally convince him to wear a hat one day when we took the kids to see the Christmas windows in New York City. It was a bitterly cold day between Christmas and New Year's, and the boys and I were bundled up with earmuffs, hats, scarves and mittens. Bobby had on his leather jacket, no gloves and no hat. When he started complaining about the cold, I did not say a word. Instead, I gave him a look which prompted him to take $5 out of his wallet and buy a black knitted cap from some guy on the street. Several minutes later when I asked him if he felt better, he smiled and said "Yes". Finally, he wore a hat! After that day, he would occasionally take out that cap to wear while shoveling snow or working outside in the cold, but for the most part, he never wore another hat again as long as I knew him.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I was in Florida and I met up with my stepdaughter, who gave me a bunch of pictures of Bobby from when he was in his 20s. (I met him when he was 35). In about half the pictures, he is wearing a hat! Cowboy hat, engineer's hat, baseball cap - all different types of hats. Yet when I met him, he said he hated hats and would not wear one.

So folks, here is my one unresolved issue. I knew I couldn't be that lucky to have NO unresolved issues with him. I'll never know why he decided he didn't like hats. But as far as issues go, at least this is a minor, and somewhat humorous one!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Me and Bobby and Bruce and Clarence

NOTE: For those of you who are not aware, I am a huge Springsteen fan. So if you know who Springsteen is, then most likely you also know who Clarence Clemons is. Not only was Clarence Springsteen’s sax player in his E Street Band for about 30 years, he was also Bruce’s best friend. Clarence died in June of this year.

I took my son to band practice last Wednesday night, and I was talking to the other moms while we were waiting for our kids to be done. During our conversation, one of the moms asked, “Did you hear? Springsteen announced a 2012 tour?” and one of the other moms looked horrified and said, “Really? So soon after Clarence’s death?”

That sentence struck me – being a widow, you would not believe how many people think that once you’re a widow, moving forward is equated with disrespecting your spouse.

Well, here is a newsflash for those of you who think so – we already feel guilty enough for just being alive when the person we love most in the world is not. You don’t have to make us feel even more guilty. And by “moving forward”, I'm not necessarily talking about dating and/or remarriage.

This past summer I took a trip to Paris with my friend Toni. She and I signed up for a writing course (in English) in the morning, toured the city in the afternoon, and ate A LOT of great food in between. I had a really great time and I'm glad I went. However, before I went on the trip, I was almost afraid to tell anyone, for fear of being accused of disrespecting Bobby. I told very few of my friends and family that I was even going. While Toni posted on her Facebook page all about the trip before, during and after, I never posted one word. I was actually afraid of what people might say! What most people don’t know is that I brought with me a framed picture of Bobby which sat on my nightstand in my hotel room. And every time I saw something, heard something or tasted something that I know he would have liked, I thought of him. (I also liked that Toni considered him to be "watching over us".)

People are quick to judge those of us who’ve lost someone, and then subsequently do things for ourselves to try to move forward with our lives. Well, they certainly don’t need to. We do a great job judging ourselves, thank you.

So just as I thought of Bobby multiple times every single day on that trip to Paris, Bruce will think of Clarence with every song that he plays. And when I get my tickets and go to the concert, I will be remembering both Bobby and Clarence, too.

Hold, Please.....

When it comes to grieving, 99% of the people that I’ve spoken to about grief agree that keeping busy is the best way to deal with grief. And I will admit, keeping busy does cause me to forget about my grief and deal with whatever the task at hand happens to be, whether it is work, the kids, taking care of the house, the cat, or a relative. Even going out with friends and spending fun times with family allows me to think about something else besides my grief. And this is a good thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

Here is a new take on the subject...if we are constantly dealing with other things, we are not dealing with our grief. Shortly after Bobby died, a good friend told me that the only way to deal with my grief is to walk straight through it. She told me not to try to go around it, under it or over it, because in walking through it, I can deal with it, and possibly make peace with it. But how can we do this when we are constantly putting it on hold?

I’m nineteen and a half months into widow-hood, and I truly believe that I have not yet dealt with my grief. So many other aspects of life, both negative and positive, have gotten in the way, and that darn grief is still hanging over my head like a dark rain cloud, waiting for some attention.

How do I know this? That’s an easy one...during the few and far between times that I do slow down, which is rare, the pain comes back to me all at once, like a punch in the stomach. I feel as though I am back in April, 2010, and Bobby has just passed away, and I immediately revert back to the big pile of mess that I was back then.

I wish I had a realistic solution, but I don’t. I’m painfully aware that my solution is not realistic, and will never happen, but I wish widow-hood gave a person a free pass to take a year off from life. A year to not have to work, have a free babysitter and personal assistant to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of, and no obligation to anyone or anything, so that we could walk through the grief and deal with all the feelings that go with it completely. It’s so hard to deal with grief while trying to deal with everything else that life hands out. It gets pushed aside, like everything else that is good for me.

Is there a realistic solution to this? None that I can think of. Life has gotten in the way of my grieving. I’m not done grieving; I want to be done grieving; and I cannot think of anything that I can do about it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story

I'm having issues. I still can't look at pictures of Bobby.

It's been eighteen months, and I can talk about him to my friends and family and laugh over things he's said and done. I can wear his jacket and bathrobe and feel warm and cozy. I even have a recording of his voice on my computer, whenever I need to hear him say, "I love you."

But aside from my wedding picture, which hangs on the wall at home, and sits on my desk at work, it's so hard for me to look at pictures and videos. I was sorting through some pictures on my computer the other day, and came across a picture of the two of us at one of our son's birthday parties. We were so happy. I started to cry when I looked at him, standing there smiling, holding our son in one arm with his other arm around me. All of a sudden I felt so alone. A ball formed in my stomach. I wanted to be sick. I then looked at my own face in the photo, and I saw something in that face that I have not seen in AGES in the mirror.

It was light. Happiness. Contentment. Ease. How a person looks when they know they are loved. I almost want to say there was a "twinkle in my eye" except for the poor cliche-ness of it. Nowadays, even when I am smiling or laughing, there is still something missing. I wish I could get that look back in my face, but I don't know how! I thought it would just "show up", but so far, I'm still waiting. I wonder sometimes if I'll ever get it back.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Death, the Workplace and Psychopaths

I was recently made aware of a lawsuit that took place in NJ. To summarize, a woman had a photo in her cubicle of her late daughter, along with a pair of the girl's ballet shoes. Her supervisor told her to remove the items from the cubicle, and that she was no longer permitted to speak of her daughter at work because her daughter was dead. This caused the woman so much stress that she ended up in the hospital and having heart surgery.

She later contacted a lawyer, filed a lawsuit in New Jersey, and, she lost! (You can read the whole original article HERE.)

I am saddened that she lost this lawsuit, not just for her, but for all grieving people. I have a picture of my late husband and me on my desk at work. Many of the people at work have pictures of themselves with their spouses. If I were asked to remove mine, just because he had died, while my co-workers were allowed to keep theirs up, that would probably do a lot of damage to my psyche and set my healing process back by months.

This boss supposedly cited the reason as the photo being disruptive, and that co-workers were complaining that htey were uncomfortable with the photo.

How could a photo possibly be disruptive to the work place? It was not mentioned that she was not performing her duties poorly. And when the lawyer for the woman questioned the co-workers, nobody said that they were uncomfortable. I'm sure that it was the boss that was the one that was uncomfortable, so he took the "bullying" route and eventually caused her to resign.

The following day, I came across an unrelated article that basically states that according to research, 4% of bosses are certifiably psychopaths, while only 1% of the general population is. Also, by definition, a person with a psychopath's personality traits has the same personality traits as those who climb the corporate ladder. (You can read that article HERE.)

After reading the first article about the woman in New Jersey, I was not surprised by this one. That boss HAD to be a psychopath to attack that woman the way he did. We're so worried about bullying in this country among kids, that we forget that it takes place every day in the workplace among adults, and now it is attacking people who are coping with loss. In my opinion, if someone is doing their job effectively, then any family photo is fine in the cubicle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Posthumous Awards

I used to have no understanding for posthumous awards. I mean, I thought they were nice gestures, but I also thought, “What good is it if the person is not here to get the award?”

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my late husband and I worked for the same organization, although in two different departments. Our professional paths would occasionally cross, but not often. Yesterday I was doing some research and found a document that was posted to our Internet site explaining some of the technology innovations and visions planned for the organization. (My husband was in IT). There was a section that pointed out some of the major problems that the department was having, and my husband was cited as the man who pioneered the solution to several of the problems. It made me smile. Then I noticed that the document had been written in May of 2010. He died in April of 2010. I smiled even more.

Even though he didn’t get an “award”, the posthumous praise meant so much to me. So now when I see widows and widowers and children of deceased parents accept awards for their late loved ones, I’ll see that even though the honor goes to the person who has passed away, the pride and smiles go to those who loved him or her.

Now I know.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I have a Facebook Account, and quite a few of my friends have recently posted the following:

It's hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It's a daily struggle feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least one hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness (MS, Bi-Polar, Depression, Diabetes, LUPUS, Fibromyalgia, Crohn's, Arthritis, Anxiety, Cancer, Heart Disease, etc.)  "Never judge what you don't understand."

I can relate to this sentiment.  Widowhood, although not a disease, is a traumatic event that causes an invisible scar on our heart that we have to live with for the rest of our lives.  It’s a sadness that will dwell within us for the remainder of our days.  Even if we go on to live a full, even generally happy life, remarried or not, with friends and family that love us, there is always a part of our heart that will never heal, no matter how many wonderful things may come our way afterward.

However, this does not typically show on the outside, and on the occasional day that it does show on the outside, I’m tired of people who think I’m crazy, weak, or just seeking attention.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  When my pain does show on the outside, all I want,(besides an opportunity to crawl under the covers) is a little understanding for the daily struggle that I am dealing with, even if that understanding comes in the form of silence when you’re at a loss for words.  That would be much better than the look that says, “Here she goes again!”  It’s amazing how insensitive people can be.

What I don't really think people believe is that I really dread those days that grief rears it's ugly head when I'm in public.  And the amazing thing is, that it shows up without warning, without triggers.  I could be happy one minute and in the next minute, the grief is bubbling up inside me like acid reflux.  When it happens, I think to myself, "Oh crap" because I know what comes's unavoidable...the misunderstanding and uncomfortableness of others.  Some avoid me, others give me a look that wonders what could possibly be wrong...I mean...he died over a year ago!  Aren't you past this by now?  They can't deal with my emotions, so they have to minimize them.  I'm sure it is some sort of defense mechanism on their part, but they have to learn that it is very hurtful to the one who is grieving.  And believe me, the last thing we need is something else that hurts.  It's like kicking someone who is already down.

So when a widowed friend or co-worker seems a little emotionally "under the weather" one day, for no apparent reason, depending on what is appropriate for your relationship with that person, give him or her either a hug, a sympathetic smile or just some space without judgement.  It is truly appreciated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Was One of THEM

When I was in my twenties (AKA part of my life when I was young and stupid), my father passed away. When he died, my mom was 49, (49 is old, right? Or so I thought back then.)  I figured after a year she'd be over it.  I mean, my life continued on the way I had planned, wouldn't hers?  When she wasn't over it in one year, I thought maybe I was wrong, she needed a few more years and she would be happy again.  A few years later, she seemed happy, so I figured I was right!  It just takes a few years and she’s over it.  Good for Mom!  (Did I mention that I was young and stupid at the time?)

Little did I know!  I hate to admit it, but I was probably one of those clueless dumb-asses who told people stupid things like, "At least he's not suffering anymore".   

I could not have been more wrong!!  However, it wasn’t until I became a widow myself, at 45, that I understood the depth and complexity of what she was feeling.  When my dad died, I lost my dad.  I was sad, upset and missed him terribly.  Who was going to help me pick out my next car?  Change the oil?  Take my car to inspection?  I didn’t even know where the inspection station was.  My dad made me feel safe and secure, and gave me a reason to hold onto my girlhood just a little bit longer. 

Twenty years later, I still miss my dad, A LOT.  But despite the fact that he was gone, my life went on like normal.  I finally did grow up, and I found the inspection station.  I got married, had children, got a mortgage and a job.  Even though some little things about my life changed, nothing about the course of my life had changed.

It’s not the same when you lose a spouse.  Anyone who has lost a spouse knows that the whole course of your life changes, whether you want it to or not.  You watch all the plans you made for your joint future go up in smoke.  I couldn’t see it in my mother when my father died.  I really and truly thought that she “got over it”.

I guess this gives me more of a sense of why when I talk about losing Bobby, that people think it is OK to say, “I know how you feel.  I lost my mom/dad/sibling/grandparent/dog.”  (Yes, an acquaintance at work compared my loss to the loss of her dog.)  And I won’t argue that these are losses, absolutely, because I still do miss my dad and my grandma very, very much.  But losing a spouse is a completely different experience that cannot be compared to any other loss, nor fully comprehended unless it actually happens to him/her. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I live on the East Coast, so I'm one of the "lucky" ones who gets to experience Hurricane Irene.

Preparation for a hurricane is hard enough, but this time I had to prepare my house & property for a hurricane without Bobby, and it was NOT easy. There is so much to think about!! Generators, sump pumps, water pumps, buckets, extension cords, shop-vacs, the electrical panel...I had to deal with it for the first time by myself. I miss the days where I never had to think about this stuff! This was all Bobby's domain. He would make sure that the house was safe for all of us.

I thought I had everything ready. But of course, nothing ever goes smoothly. My house has 2 sump pumps - one has a battery back up on it, and the other doesn't. The one that doesn't have the backup doesn't even work, but I did not find that out until after the rain started. So I ran upstairs and grabbed the pool pump, stuck it in the pit, and ran the hose up the stairs and out the door. Even though it worked, the water was pouring in so fast it could not keep up, so part of my carpet got saturated. Then the power went out on only one side of the house, and the battery back up never kicked in, so after a major overflow I ran an extension cord from the pump to the other side of the house that did have electricity.

Earlier, I also had emptied about 6 inches out of the pool, but the volume of rain that came down was so much that I had to pump water out of the pool as it rained. Luckily, for some reason unbeknownst to me, Bobby had purchased a second pool pump (even though the other one works fine). It was a blessing! I hooked up another hose and set it up to pump water out of the pool while it was raining. Then I noticed one of my gutters was clogged, and the water was pouring right on the deck over the corner of the house where the sump pump didn't work, so I rigged up a contraption to send the water off the deck away from the house using a wheel ramp, two Rubbermaid bin covers and a floor mat. It worked!

Needless to say, I minimized the damage that could have happened to my house and pool I was up all night (along with my 15-year-old who gets a lot of credit) and completely exhausted the next day. I just never thought for a minute that I could do all this stuff without him. I was missing him so much, wishing that he was there with me.

Now I'm cleaning up, with dehumidifiers set up and running in my basement and
picking up what seems like millions of branches all over my lawn, deck, backyard and the pool. However, the most annoying thing I have to deal with now a VERY LARGE tree branch that fell across my driveway. While I am really thankful that it did not land on my house or car, I can no longer get out of my driveway. I have to depend on someone else to get rid of it, because the kids and I tried and it did not budge. (This picture does not do it justice...the branch is a lot bigger than it looks.)

I hope he is looking down with approval for how I handled everything. But I'm not sure because this was a guy who would have a cow every time I walked by with a hammer and nail in my hand!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Too Many Hamburgers

A few weekends ago, I had some of my extended family over for a BBQ. I make these really good hamburgers that I saw on TV (I think it was a Guy Fieri recipe, now I don't remember) where I put shredded cheddar cheese and real bacon bits in a little pouch inside the hamburger instead of on top. I've been making them for quite few years, and my family loves them. However, they come out really big, since they are stuffed, and even the men in my family can usually eat just one.

Before throwing the hamburgers on the grill, I took a count of how many guests I had, went back in the house, added in my own family to that number, put the hamburgers on a tray, then went outside to put them on the the grill. I took a recount once I got outside, and realized I had too many. So I went back inside, and took another count. Seemed correct, so back outside. Again, I was putting them on the grill, and there were too many. I went inside and I asked my mom to take a recount and she said, "No, that is the right amount." She recounted the guests, added herself and my family and confirmed again it was the right amount. I counted everyone and again came up with one too many.

Now, math was always my best subject in school, so this was literally driving me crazy. Not that I had too many hamburgers on the grill, (there were never leftovers of these hamburgers!) but that the count was coming out wrong when I was outside, but whenever I was in my kitchen, it would come out correct.

I guess it doesn't take a rocket scientist reading this to realize that every time I counted guests, then went back in the house and added my family, I added in four burgers instead of three. I automatically counted in a hamburger for Bobby without even realizing it. However, whenever I went outside and took an exact count of guests, I wouldn't count him because he was not there. What was weird was that it literally took me about fifteen minutes to figure out why I had an extra burger on the plate. Ironically, my mother made the same mistake when she was in the kitchen counting the burgers as well.

Old habits die hard, and I miss putting four burgers on the plate. Fifteen months later, three still looks incomplete.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Love Letters

I find it absolutely amazing when I see Bobby in one of my kids. I have two boys, and they both emulate their dad in different ways. They aren't even trying. It just is, and I love seeing him live on in our sons.

The other day, I found a pile of sealed envelopes on the dining room table with dates on them. The dates directly correlated with the dates that my son would be away on a sailing trip for teens. I asked him what the envelopes were for and he told me that he had written a letter to his girlfriend for each day he would be away for her to read each morning since they would not be in touch for the 10 days. (No cell phones allowed, thus no texting!!)

My jaw must have hit the ground. It reminded me so much of something that Bobby did shortly after we first met.

Ten days after Bobby and I first met, I left for a three week trip to Europe with my friend Christina. Unbeknownst to me, the whole time I was away, he wrote me a letter each day (well, typed me a letter each day, my beloved computer geek), and saved it in a file on his computer. (No email back then!!) When I returned, he printed them out and gave me the whole pile to read when I returned. Ironically, I came across this printout last week while cleaning out my office, the same exact day that my son was writing his letters. It was wonderful reading those letters that he wrote to me while I was away.

I realize that the exact details of what Bobby did are not the same as what my son did, but the basic premise is the same. When my son explained what the letters were for, I asked him if I had ever told him the story of the letters that his dad wrote to me, and he said no. So I told him, and he smiled broadly and said, "Really?"

He obviously likes being like his dad. I like it, too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vicious Circle

I recently read an article written by the woman who lost her three daughters in the much-publicized accident in upstate NY in June of 2009 (the Diane Schuler case). She talked about the ways – both positive and negative – that she was dealing with her childrens’ deaths.

One of the things she mentioned was that after the first year, she decided to continue to go out on monthly dinners with friends of hers. These dinners started long before the accident, so eventually she and her husband started joining their friends again.

She said in the article that she felt judged by some people, as if people were whispering behind her back, “How could she do such a thing? Has she forgotten about her girls?”

Boy do I know that feeling! I recently re-did my bathroom, and went on a nice vacation. And I do feel as if people are looking at me and whispering “how could she do such a thing?" as if I've completely forgotten all about him.

Truthfully, I do not know if they are saying these things or not. I really don’t know. I’m not supposed to care about what other people think. It’s what I feel that is important, but let’s face it...I am my harshest judge. A part of me does think that I am being cold hearted by doing these big things, like fixing up my home or going on vacation. Unfortunately, it takes a little bit of the fun out of these things.

I don’t know how to get over this. I don’t even know if I want to get over this. I feel like I need to carry some of this guilt around as a tribute to Bobby and what he meant to me. But on the flip side, it’s not easy living my life feeling guilty all the time. But when I think of giving up the guilt, it just makes me feel guilty all over again, and then I think again, do I really want to give this up? It’s a tribute to Bobby!

It’s a vicious circle, that’s what it is. It keeps going around and around and around, and I don’t know how to get out of it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wedding Bell Blues

I went to my cousin's wedding on Saturday. It was a really nice ceremony...out on the beach. The bride looked beautiful. The groom looked happy. And for the first time, I saw a "Man of Honor" in place of a Maid or Matron of Honor...the bride's brother. I thought that was nice.

This was not the first wedding I've been to since Bobby died, but the first one I'd been to alone. My other cousin got married last month, and I was invited with a guest, so I took my friend Joann as my "Plus One". Joann had a great time, even though she didn't know anyone but me. She is fun and out going, and the perfect 'date' for something like this. I'm sure this is one of the many reasons her husband loves her!!

But this wedding was me alone. For the most part, I was OK, but there were certain times when I felt really alone. The first was when I had to walk in alone. Luckily, with the wedding being on a public beach, nobody really noticed as I made my way through the scantily clad teens and aggravated parents of toddlers who were just there for a day at the beach. I sneaked into the seat that my brother and sister saved for me between them.

At first, I thought I was doing OK...I surprised myself...until the officiant of the wedding started talking about marriage and asked everyone in the at the wedding to turn to their spouse and take their hand and remember their own wedding.

OOPS...seems she forgot...not everyone there has a spouse. I attempted to mumble "Yeah, right" when she said that but I think it came out too loud. I'm sure my brother, who was sitting next to me, heard. But he didn't react. (He's a serious sort of guy). But when I looked around, I noticed that nobody took anyone's hand. Even my siblings, who were on either side of me, didn't take their spouses' hands, who were sitting on either side of them. I thought that was a little weird, but I didn't say anything. Maybe they weren't paying attention. Maybe they've both been married so long they didn't think it was necessary. Or maybe they did it because I was sitting there. I didn't ask.

But I know Bobby. He would have taken my hand. He was corny like that.

Later on, the DJ announced the first bride/groom dance during the cocktail hour. In the middle of the dance, he called all married couples to join the new husband and wife. I just sat there eating my bacon-wrapped scallop.

The last time I felt really alone, was when it was time to leave. It was strange...I kept looking around for Bobby to walk out with, but he wasn't there. So I walked out with my aunt and two of my cousins. Lucky for me...there was another wedding going in the building and a very cute 20-something groomsmen came up to us and tried to pick up my 58-year-old cousin, who is HOT. I was so engrossed in this little saga that I forgot for the moment that I was alone. For that, I thank the anonymous groomsman. (I also vowed to myself that when I am 58, I will look like my cousin.)

However, when the valet brought me my car, I got in it, and once again I felt very alone.

Weddings just are not the same for me anymore.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Flying Solo...Literally

A few weeks ago, I flew to London to visit my good friend Jane who lives in England. I had flown there alone quite a few times, when I was in my 20s, but the last three times I had gone, I went with Bobby.

While I was waiting in the airport, I thought to myself, "This is just like when I went to visit Jane in the 80s." However, once I was on the plane, it was not like that at all. I felt so alone. I didn't have Bobby to lean on when I was tired, or to talk to when I got bored. He was not there to make fun of the substance that they try to pass off as food.

Traveling alone never bothered me before, so why did this bother me so much now? Because back then, I was single. I was not attached to anyone - I hadn't met my "soul mate" yet. I have now discovered that after I've had the experience of meeting him, and being in a wonderful relationship and marriage, it bothers me to travel alone.

Because I'm not single. I'm a widow. And there's a difference.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mending Fences...and Other Tasks with Tools

My older son recently decided to work on a Boy Scout Merit Badge called, "Home Repair". He showed me the requirements and asked me what needed to be done around the house. (The question is, what doesn't need to be done, but that's another story.) We looked over the requirements together and I gave him a few jobs.

These are repairs that Bobby would have done if he were here. He was very handy around the house. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to have my son do the repairs, in fact, Bobby was pretty adamant about his sons learning how to do simple home repairs around the house, along with some not-so-simple repairs as well. Two winters ago, when he was sick, he told me that during the following summer, he planned on taking both boys into the garage and teaching them all about tools and what each tool was used for. Unfortunately for him, and for my boys, he never got to do that since he died in the spring.

Now my son has to rely on the internet and my oh-so-limited knowledge of how to use things like pliers, wrenches, saws and assorted power tools to earn his merit badge. It is such a huge loss that he doesn't have his father here to show him these things, because I know that is something that they both would have enjoyed, or at least laughed about in the future.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Amusement Park

I have always had very weird dreams, ever since I was a child. They are not bad, just weird. Even when I've gone through the most horrible parts of my life, (especially this widow-part), I've never had nightmares...the kind where you wake up screaming.

I've had dreams that were happy, sad, exhilarating, annoying, mildly disturbing, frustrating, and off the wall. Sometimes I can remember them so clearly, that they stay with me for days, weeks, or years, and sometimes when I wake up, I feel them fading away very quickly. I could never find the significance in them, though, because more often than not, they are completely senseless. Someone recently told me that the emotion that you feel in the dream is what is significant, not the dream itself. I can accept that, but wouldn't one think that I would have a lot more bad dreams since Bobby's illness and death?

However, one dream stays with me, that I really liked. In the dream, I was at an amusement park with my children, my sister and my brother-in-law. They all decided to go on an upside-down roller coaster ride, which I will reluctantly not go on, because although I love roller coasters, I can no longer handle them physically. I watched them go up the ramp to the ride, then I turned around and saw Bobby standing next to the railing. I asked him why he was there, and he simply responded, "I'm here to keep you company since you can't go on the ride. You know I can't stay, though." I remember hugging him and him hugging me back. I felt so complete and overwhelmingly happy.

My grandmother once told me that when you dream of a loved one that has passed away, that the person is visiting you. There has to be something to what my grandmother said, no matter what your spiritual beliefs are (or aren't) because the feeling that I got hugging him stayed with me long after I woke up. And it felt so good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Sun is Shining, But It is Raining

It's been over a year now...almost 14 months since Bobby has died, and people still ask me, "How are you?" with the sympathetic head tilt (which I never noticed until I saw an episode of Friends that addressed it). It's hard to explain, and this is the best I can come up with:

I live my life. I go to work, I take care of my kids. I do fun things, I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I laugh. I laughed really hard one night at a comedy club with some good friends one night last January, that my cheeks literally hurt. I learned a new dance today from a colleague. I bought a new purse. I watched with pride as my son got his award for "Student of the Year" in his Freshman class (not bad...there are almost 800 kids in the Freshman class). I threw my other son a party for his Confirmation. I'm planning a vacation.

But despite all this, there is no joy in my heart. I don't feel that feeling of contentment that comes with being married to the one you love and the one that you know loves you. All these positive things that I am doing don't seem to be able to put that joy back where it belongs. People tell me that I will get it back, but I wonder if that is really true. I'm living my life...doing things...I'm not moping around or lying in bed all day, but it is still not coming back. And I wonder, what do I have to do to get it back? Is it possible that it may never come back, and this is my new normal? I never thought in a million years I could simutaneously laugh until my cheeks ached, and not feel joy.

It reminds me of the rare times when the sun is shining, but it is raining at the same time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sons, Weddings and Retirement

Oh, today was an information overload!

A good friend of mine is retiring at the end of this month. Today was the day that our department took her out to dinner and gave her a gift. While talking, one of the women in our group asked her, "What are you going to do all day?" I loved her answer. "I'm just going to be."

Retirement was one of those things that Bobby and I really looked forward to. We had so many plans...and they were good ones. Neither one of us thought for one second that we could get bored in retirement like some people think. But all those plans are now shot to hell. Now I have to make new plans. And I have no idea what to do.

Another subject that came up was the relationship between grown sons and their mothers. My friend, who is retiring, has two sons, both in their 30s. One is married, and one is getting married. She told us that being the mother of the groom, she has nothing to say about the wedding, and that she was going "shopping for the beige". I had no idea what that meant, and it was explained to me that the mother of the bride gets to wear a beautiful color, while the mother of the groom only fades into the background in beige.

Great. I look terrible in beige.

I'm the youngest one in the group, and my two boys are only teens. However, they all proceeded to discuss how sons identify with the wife's family, and leave behind their own family. One even talked about a friend who was very close to his family until he got married. While his wife was still only his girlfriend, she insisted he turn his back on his family since she did not want any influence from his family. They were not even invited to the wedding! The mother was broken hearted. Later on, they made "amends" (even though there was never an argument to begin with) and now every time they come to visit, the parents have to pay for the hotel for them to stay in or else they don't visit. And all this to see the grandchild that they only found out about through the grapevine.

As I'm listening to all these stories, I'm thinking, "What if this happens to me? What if my sons get involved with women who don't want anything to do with me?" All these women have their husbands to lean on during these times of abandonment by their sons. Who will I lean on? Bobby is gone, and his shoulder is no longer available for me to cry on.

The conversation made me feel so alone. Now I'm dreading my sons growing up and leaving the nest. But I know it will happen, due to the natural order of things. And I'm at a loss over what to do.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


One thing I never planned on is being alone. Sure, I’m not completely alone, I have my two teenage sons with me, but I don’t have Bobby here to make me part of a couple. So I’ve had to learn something that I never thought I would have to do: live alone.

This does not mean I’ve never lived alone before. I had my own apartment when I met him, and I was young, in my 20s and single, which was fun when I was that age. I met Bobby when I was 27. And as I've mentioned before...we were joined at the hip almost immediately.

So now I have something to learn. I recently read in a book of practical advice for widows that we need to learn to live alone and be comfortable with our alone-ness, no matter what we decide to do with our lives down the road. Some of the things she mentions in her book are going to museums, restaurants, shopping, comedy clubs, and the movies, and be comfortable with it. I thought about what I had read, and I decided that shopping or visiting a museum alone is not terrible. I’ve done both of these before, even when I was part of a couple. But dining alone? I cannot imagine dining alone!! And I’m not talking about getting a bite to eat at the food court in the mall...I’m sure we’ve all done that alone at one time or another. But she mentions in her book going to a nice restaurant and dining alone without a book or a newspaper! I wouldn’t know how to do that in a million years. A comedy club? I would be mortified to walk into a comedy club by myself. (Although I’m sure my alone-ness, if noticed, would be great fodder for the comedians). The movies? I could probably do that alone without any anxiety, although I don’t think it would be much fun to see a movie without having someone there with whom to make comments.

The author, though, was able to achieve this, so I’m thinking it’s probably a good idea to try. My sons would tell me, “Remember what Yoda said. There is no try, only do,” since I tend to pull this one on them from time to time when they say things like, “I’ll try to remember to pick wet towels up off the floor."

I’m not making any guarantees on the restaurant or comedy club, though.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Song

I was lying in bed on Saturday night and I put the TV on, which I normally do when I want to fall asleep. I usually set the timer so that it would shut down while I'm asleep, but this time I forgot and I woke up to hear a song that I never heard before. I opened my eyes and a woman was singing a really great song.

It turns out it was an episode of Saturday Night Live, and they said the name of the singer, Ellie Goulding, who I had never heard of. I found a piece of scrap paper and a pen on my night stand and scribbled down her name because I didn't want to forget it, rolled over and went back to sleep.

This evening, I typed her name into a Google search, and found a video of her on YouTube singing the song that I heard the other night. I clicked on the link, and was enjoying the song, when all of a sudden it occurred to me...Bobby will never get to hear this song.

Frankly, I'm not even sure he would have liked the song - but the fact that he is not here to experience it with me sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. Throughout the past year, I've really taken notice of all the big things that we no longer can share - holidays, birthdays, the kids' milestones and accomplishments - but now this one little song makes me realize all the little things that he won't ever get to experience with me either.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Plan B...C...Z?

When I was in college, I used to wear a denim jacket with buttons all over it from various rock concerts I'd been to, along with my prominent "Born to Run" replica album cover button (yes, total Springsteen fan here) and various other buttons with clever sayings on them that I liked. One of those said, "I spend my life in Plan B."

I came across this button again in 90's, when Bobby and I were cleaning and purging, getting ready to move into our first house. He liked the button, too, and after that we often joked that we were living our lives in Plan B, while Plan A consisted of us being independently wealthy, perpetually thin (well, that was my Plan A...Bobby already was perpetually thin) and cruising the world on our yacht with servants, a cook and absolutely nothing to do all day but enjoy each other's company and a couple of margaritas every afternoon.

Well, becoming a widow was certainly not Plan B. It isn't Plan C, D or E, either. Truthfully, it's not even on the spectrum, but if I had to give it a letter, it would have to be Plan Z. I miss the life I had before, and in retrospect, it was much more Plan A then Plan B. I guess this is where that old Yiddish proverb comes from: Man makes plans, God laughs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Field Advantage

I noticed the other day that my normally upbeat and happy 15-year-old was sullen and quiet. When we got to talking, he said that it really bothered him that his dad never got to see all the accomplishments he's achieved since attending High School. My son, like his father, is a gifted musician, and this year in school he joined Concert Band, and Marching Band. He also tried out, and was accepted to Competitive Jazz Band, as well as trying out and being accepted to a Rock Band Academy. But I think Marching Band bothers him the most, because he mentioned during this conversation that his dad never got to see him on the field, in his uniform, playing his sax, and being part of a winning band (I'm proud to say our local High School Marching Band has won the State Championship for the past five years in a row). These kids work hard and it is quite an accomplishment. I thought about it for a moment, and told him that I understood how he felt, because even when I first started coming to see his Marching Band shows, I was sad too because Bobby was not there next to me, watching our son doing something he loved. I think it actually took me four or five shows before I was able to get through one without crying. Two of my friends, who also have children in Marching Band would tell me at every show, "Bobby's here...he is here". So I told my son what they said and that I do believe that his dad goes to his shows.

At that very moment, something occurred to me, and I told him that actually his dad has a huge advantage over me at the shows. My son asked me what I meant, and I told him, "When I'm watching your show, all I can do is sit and watch from the bleachers. Where do you think Daddy is?"

He thought for a moment. "On the field, with me?"


He smiled. And I know that he believes it as much as I do.


When I was a little girl, April was always my favorite month. April held the promise that spring was on it's way, and not far behind, summer. It was the beginning of the 4th Marking Period at school, and that meant school was almost over. But most important, at that time in my life, it was my birthday month. My birthday was always marked by a big party with my relatives on one day, a small party with my friends on another day, and going out to dinner with my family on "the actual day". So really, my birthday was usually celebrated three times during the month, not just once.

Of course, as I got older, April no longer held the magic that it once held when I was a child. My birthday was no longer over-celebrated as my mom had stopped the big parties when I was about twelve (except for my Sweet 16). Instead, my birthday celebration in my teens was hanging around with my friends, and dinner with my immediate family. In my early 20s, it was going out to a bar, dancing, and again, hanging with friends.

The year I turned 28, April was wonderful. I had already been with Bobby for nine months, and he spoiled me on my birthday. I no longer cared nor needed to be "out" on my birthday, cuddling with him on the couch in our apartment was more than enough. It was also my second year as a teacher, and once again, it meant the beginning of the end of the school year, and I looked forward to my summers off.

It was just the two of us until my mid thirties. April became "Mommy's Birthday Month" according to my children, and it was then celebrated with cake, cookies and gifts that Bobby let the children pick out. I got lots of plastic flowers and home-made gifts, and one year, the boys insisted on taking me to Build-A-Bear for my own birthday bear. They got joy out of my birthday, and I got my joy watching them.

The April that I turned 41 was difficult...Bobby suffered his heart attack, fell into a coma, had a triple bypass, but emerged feeling better and healthier than he had before the attack. So that April was really was the month he looked Death in the face and flipped it the bird. We grew even closer together that year as a couple, as well, which I thought was really impossible, because we were close to begin with!

For the years following the heart attack and my forty-first birthday, April became "no big deal". My birthday came and went without a large celebration, since my kids became teenagers. When you are in your forties, your birthday no longer holds the wonder of when you were a kid. Presents become obsolete, and, at least in my case, it becomes very difficult for me to even think of what I "want for my birthday", because materialistically speaking, I have everything I need or want. But despite all this, Bobby always found a way to make my birthday special, even if we were at work all day and driving the kids around all evening to various activities.

Then two years ago, April held horrible news...Bobby had cancer.

One year ago, April became the dreaded month of the year. Bobby passed away in April. It will always be the month he passed away, even as my own life goes on.

April is no longer my favorite month of the year. And while it still does hold the promise of spring, and the approach of summer, my favorite season, I just cannot get passed the fact that it is also the month he passed away. It will never again be the same.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Day

As the one-year anniversary of Bobby’s passing approached, my kids and I were on pins and needles. What would happen that day? How would we feel? Was it going to be horrible and would I not be able to make it through without crying on my bed all day? This went through my head, as similar thoughts went through my childrens’ heads, too.

We decided to make plans for the day, to remember him. I took the day off of work, and my younger son opted to stay home from school as well. My older son, who is in high school, wanted to go for half day. So we picked him up from school right before his lunch period, and headed to the cemetery. We spent some time with Bobby, then went to his favorite pizzeria and had his favorite pizza.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), our little celebration of his life could not last all day because my older son was playing in a Jazz Band Competition that night and my younger son had a Boy Scout meeting. I also had a Physical Therapy appointment. “Life” took over, and did not allow any of us to flop on our beds and cry all day.

So the day came and went; we got through it; we survived. And I can honestly say that it is not the actual day that bothers me, but the fact that it signifies that my time away from him is getting longer and longer. It puts the image in my mind of two people on two different boats, holding hands, and as the boats drift away, the hands have to let go, and the outstretched hands get further and further apart as the boats drift in opposite directions.

I am no longer within that first year, which in some ways became sort of "comfort zone" for me. I’m now into the second year. What happens now? What does the second year mean? Does it mean anything at all? It’s so unsettling.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


When I was a kid, I was very aware of the "sainthood" bestowed on those relatives that had died. Coming from a big Italian family, whenever someone passed away, all of a sudden, they could do no wrong, and it was sacrilege to speak ill of the dead, even if you thought the person was a complete idiot when they were alive.

Now that I am an adult, and I'm in the situation of having a dead spouse, I, too, have bestowed "sainthood" on him, even though there were times when he really drove me up the wall. But in thinking about this "sainthood", it really isn't "sainthood" at all. I call it "putting things into perspective".

Bobby did quite a few things that would drive me crazy. He put his socks all over the floor, dirty clothes ON the hamper instead of IN the hamper, and one of his favorites...sitting his butt on the couch and watching yet another episode of How It's Made when there was something in or around the house that had to be moved, drilled, hammered, dug or mowed. When I would complain that I was doing something and he was doing nothing, he would pat the section of the couch next to him and say, "Then don't do it and come and sit next to me." Smooth talker.

I think the "sainthood" is just our way of realizing that old adage, "You don't know what you have until it is gone." We realize that all the things that our spouse did that drove us nuts weren't really horrible at all. And we realize all the good things that we may have overlooked or appreciated. He never once complained about not having anything to wear when I forgot to do laundry. He never once said anything about my fluctuating weight. Ever. When I came home from work, exhausted, he would either offer to cook (usually pancakes) or go and pick up a pizza. He never complained when I went to my writer's group or book club, even though I knew he would rather I was home with him. He would tell me I was beautiful, even when I was wearing sweats and a T-shirt with a stain on it.

I took these things for granted and boy do I miss them now! So when people question the sainthood that is bestowed on someone that was far from the dictionary definition of perfect, it makes me think twice; because to me, it's just putting it all into perspective.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Open Wound

About three Sundays ago, I was sitting in church waiting for the service to start when I realized I had forgotten to get a bulletin from the usher. So I went to the back of the church to get a bulletin when one of the parishioners, Joe, had just walked in. Joe greeted me with a smile, along with the ushers who were handing out the bulletins. I took my bulletin and went back to my seat.

I was there for about thirty seconds when I burst out in tears. I excused myself and went to the back of the church again, but this time, continuing out the door. One of my friends from church followed me out and gave me a hug. She asked me if I was OK, and "What happened?"

It was Joe. Joe is a very nice, approximately 80-year-old man who has been attending our church for years. Joe's wife had just passed away about a month before that, and that was the first time I had ran into him since his wife died. All I could think of was how lonely he must be, since I am going through the same thing. The pain was horrible, like I was losing Bobby again. My friend, who was comforting me said, "It must be like a wound with a scab on it, and the scab just got torn off again." What a great simile! I hadn't thought of it that way.

The following Friday, I was on Facebook and there was a post from a high school classmate of mine who is my age and had just lost her husband. From out of nowhere, I burst out in tears. I knew her pain, only too well, and even though I was crying for her, I felt that familiar hurt all over again. Again, that scab had been torn off, and here I was crying all over again, as if I had just lost Bobby - again.

My question is that wound ever going to heal? Will it always have a scab on it, that can be torn off at any unexpected moment in a split second? And if it does heal, how big of a scar will it leave?

Word Play

Ever since Bobby passed away, I’ve gotten more sensitive to things that I hear people say, and things that I used to say. They just don’t seem appropriate anymore.

Recently, while looking at some pictures with family, someone commented on a shirt that someone was wearing in one of the pictures that they thought my husband would have liked and worn. I looked at the shirt and knew right away that he would never have worn that shirt. So I just said non-chalantly, “He wouldn’t have been caught dead in that shirt.” As soon as it came out of my mouth, I was appalled at myself. Where did that come from? How could I say such a thing? What was I thinking? But it just slipped out.

I also remember a few years ago, when Bobby was still alive, we were with the kids visiting my mother and I wanted to use her computer. She still used dial-up to get on the internet. Anyone with a home network knows that dial-up is ridiculously slow. I clicked on her internet browser and waited for it to load in. And waited. And waited. And waited. While waiting, I remember leaning back in the chair, putting my arms out to my sides and saying to my mother, “This computer is so slow! I've been waiting so long for this to load that riga mortis is starting to set in.” At the time, I thought that was hilarious. In retrospect, I think it is a horrible thing to say! No wonder my mother didn't laugh. She's a widow, and I get it now.

Then there are the typical things that people say all the time. "My cell phone died." "The car battery died." "The refrigerator died." We don't think twice about using the word "died" when referring to things no longer working. I never even noticed these statements in conversation before, but now, every time I hear something like this, I think to myself that things cannot die, they just stop working. I decided to look up "die" in the dictionary, to prove my point, and there were several definitions, including those that refer to inanimate objects. So I guess in this case, I'm wrong.

Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive. Widows do that sometimes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Miracle at the Mall

This incident happened to me two and a half months ago, right before Christmas. However, I did not blog about it right away because I thought anyone reading it might decide that I was out of my mind. However, after thinking about it, I've decided to blog it anyway. It's about my own personal miracle at the mall that combined my experience as a widow with the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”.

About two years ago, Bobby and I decided that living in New Jersey, it was just plain stupid that neither one of us owned a pair of warm shoes. But we never got around to buying them that year, then the following winter he was sick, so shoes were the last thing on our mind.

So this past winter, I decided it was time to get warm shoes. I already had boots, but I wanted shoes. I’m a bit fussy about my shoes, so when I saw a pair I wanted, I would buy them, since it might take me a long time to find another pair that I really wanted.

On the Friday before Christmas, I headed over to the mall to buy the shoes. I went right to Lord & Taylor, because I knew they carried the brand & style I was looking for. I went into the store, and found a pair in brown on the display, so I brought them over to the salesman, and said, “I would like these in black, size six.”

He answered back, “I’m sorry, miss, but we only have brown, and we don’t even have brown in size six. All the size sixes are gone. However, we might be getting more in on Tuesday. I'm not sure.”

I told him I was hoping to have them for the weekend, so he looked around, then said in a low voice, “You can try Bloomingdales. Bloomingdales also carries this brand.”

My mouth dropped open. It was like Santa Claus in Macy’s telling the little boy’s mom to go get the fire truck at Gimbels.

So I headed over to Bloomingdales, and found the same brown shoe on the display. I walked up to a saleswoman, and asked her, “Do you have these in black, size 6?”

She took the shoe and said, “Oh, I don’t think so. I think we’re all out of black, and I’m sure we’re all out of size six. Sizes six and seven are the most popular sizes, and they tend to get sold out first.”

“Can you check anyway?” I asked.

She looked somewhere in between annoyed and feeling sorry for me, so she went in the back to look. She came out with a box and a very surprised look on her face. “Here you go. Size six, in black.” I took the shoes and tried them on. They fit perfect, so I went to the register.

The same saleswoman was at the resister. While she was ringing up the sale, I asked her if there were any more black shoes in the back. She shook her head and said, “No, not at all. These were the last pair of black. I cannot believe they are a size six.”

So that is my version of Miracle on 34th Street. Bobby wanted me to have warm shoes, and I’m convinced that he had something to do with me finding the one and only black pair, in size six at the mall that night.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Somewhere Out There

Yesterday, while sitting in a diner with my kids and some friends, I heard the song “Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram on the radio. It reminded me of an experience that Bobby and I shared very shortly after we met.

Bobby and I had one of those "love at first sight" romances. I never in a million years thought that "love at first sight" was true, but from the first moment we met, we knew it was special and we knew we would be together always.....except for the three week period that I was on vacation.

When I met Bobby, I had already planned a three-week trek in Europe with my friend Christina, which included a week long stay with another friend Jane who lives right outside of London. So ten days after Bobby and I met, I hopped a plane to Europe. I promised to write, and call when I could. He told me he would accept collect calls. I gave him Jane's phone number so he could call me while I was there.

One night while staying with Jane, he called me. It was about 5:00 am, London time, and midnight in New Jersey. At first, I was telling him all about the fun that Christina and I were having on our vacation, then the conversation turned to how much we missed each other. While we were talking, I looked out the window and saw the moon. Then I thought about the song, "Somewhere Out There". In the song, they sing:

And even though I know how very far apart we are,
it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star,
and when the north wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby,
it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.

It gave me an idea. I asked him to take the phone outside and look at the sky. I asked if he could see the moon. He said yes. So I told him that I was looking at the moon also, and that it made me miss him a little bit less, because at that very moment, even though we were an ocean apart, we were both looking at the same thing at the same time. We could share something, even though we were physically so far apart. He said he thought that was "pretty cool", and said that every night while I was away, he would look at the moon, and know that I may be looking at it at the same time.

Yes, there are times when I feel connected to him, whether I am wearing his bathrobe, holding one of his guitars, or watching our kids. But I wonder if, and hope that he is there, too, sharing the moment, "looking at the moon" with me. I miss those shared moments. A lot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Identity Crisis

One of my widow friends on Facebook posted something really interesting the other day. Her post said,

And my #1 tip for surviving winter.... STOP READING THIS. Read something that ISN'T about death, not by a widow, and NOT WRITTEN THIS TIME OF YEAR by someone who feels like you. Nothing current! Try fiction, or Scientific American, or something you can buy in the checkout line at the Supermarket! I'm doing this RIGHT after I log off for a bit, just like I do every year, because it's NECESSARY. What will you do?—Posted by SupaFreshWidow on Widowed Village (Widville) Facebook Page

I thought a lot about what she wrote, and at first I was surprised. She also has a blog that talked about her life as a widow, so why should she want to discourage people from reading it? Then I “got it.” It reminded me of an experience that a good friend of mine told me about that stayed with me since she said it, when I was about six months in...

My friend has an son who is autistic. He was born around the same time I had my son, and both boys are now 15 years old. I remember after she got the diagnosis of her son being autistic, that she went online and found tons of information about autism. For several years, she read blogs and message boards about autism, later contributing some of her own experiences to these. Being a writer, she even wrote some articles on living and thriving with an autistic child that were published in local newspapers and other periodicals. She also made local connections, and one of those connections turned into a lifelong friendship. She was the mom of an autistic son, and this was her life.

She then told me later on, that one day she had, like they say on Oprah, an “A-ha” moment. She stopped reading about autism. She stopped writing about it. She stopped going online and making the connections. She said that she realized that since she had totally immersed herself for several years into being the mom of an autistic son, that she stopped being who she was before. She had lost her hobbies, some friends, and did not do very much any longer with her husband or her other children.

Does she still take care of her autistic son? Of course! She makes sure that he has the best education for autistic children, and he has all the support at home that he needs to thrive to the best of his abilities. But she has shed the label “mom of an autistic child” and is just herself.

She told me this story because she thought I was immersing myself way too much into the world of widowhood. I thought about what she said, and told her that it was way too early for me to make such a decision. She understood. But later on that day, when I was alone, I started to question myself...was I labeling myself? Was I pigeon-holing myself, and concentrating too much on being “a widow” rather than just being “me”? I did not have an answer. And I’ve been struggling with this for a few months now.

But when I read the Facebook post, it made me realize that other widows might be struggling with the same issues. We can’t label ourselves, and we cannot immerse ourselves in “widow-stuff” 24/7! But we still need each other. And I realized that I am still me, even if I do frequent the widow pages on the internet and interact with other widows (and the occasional widower). It’s the same as working moms...they can be good employees AND good mothers. So I can still be a widow, while still being myself and doing other things, as well.

And now it is time for me to shut down my computer and watch a rented movie with my two sons.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My First Valentine's Day....Alone

Well, maybe not my first. Actually, I had a lot of Valentine’s Days alone, but they were easy to get through because I was young, single and had a lot of young, single friends who were more than willing to go out and have fun without men on Valentine’s Day. We even made fun of our friends who DID have Valentines!

This year was completely different. Since I spent the past 19 years thinking that I had a Valentine for life, this one just plain sucked because my special guy was not there.

Not that we made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. Every year, I would buy him a box of Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Cherries. And, in the beginning, he used to send me roses and big cards from the Hallmark Store, but after two kids and a mortgage, I would get the little card and the single red rose (and he still got the chocolates). All this meant so much to me....I didn't need the huge bouquet. Just the fact that I got a hug and a kiss and a “Happy Valentine’s Day” in the morning was special. Then we would go to work, come home, drive the kids to some activity, have dinner and go to bed. Dinner was usually pizza because he would say every year, “You shouldn't have to cook on Valentine’s Day”. That was sweet. That was all I needed.

This year, I got wrapped up in my son’s love life instead. He wanted to have dinner with his girlfriend, so I arranged with her mother (who is divorced AND happens to work in the same building as me!) for them to have dinner at a local nice Italian place. But of course, we had to eat, too, and our younger children had to eat, too, so the six of us had a nice dinner together. I’m sure that was not exactly my son’s idea of a romantic dinner with his girlfriend, but it had to do. We did let them sit next to each other.

The funny part was the strange looks we got the next day when we told our colleagues that we had Valentine’s dinner together the night before.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who ARE These People?

I've often thought that there is nothing funny about losing my husband. They say that humor and laughter are great healers, and don't get me wrong, I have laughed during the past nine and a half months, but never at anything directly related to his death.

Until yesterday.

In my effort to tie up "loose ends", I've been signing into Bobby's personal email accounts. I already read his Verizon & Hotmail, but I hadn't gotten around to his Gmail yet. (As I've said before, my beloved, Mr. Computer Geek, had to have several email accounts. Don't ask...must be a computer thing.)

I signed into his email, to find emails from all sorts of people that I didn't know he knew! It puzzled me as to why he had dozens of emails from AT&T Wireless (his phone was Verizon), a Baptist church in another state (we're Episcopalians), countless jokes from his brother-in-law, Bill (he doesn't have a brother-in-law named Bill), emails from Peter, his accountant (our accountant's name is Mike), and lots of emails from (he never once watched a baseball game on TV in the 19 years we were together). Who were these people, and why would they be emailing Bobby?

So I started to click on the emails. Bill's jokes were funny, and the emails from the Baptist church were inspiring. But it didn't give me any clue why he would be getting these emails. They were clearly not spam, but email that was subscribed to.

Finally, I clicked on one from AT&T wireless. It said, "Dear Ron". And it all became clear.

Bobby's name, of course, is Robert, and our last name is very common, like "Smith". So many people must have assumed that, using "Smith" as my example, "" was Ron, not Robert. Poor Ron is probably trying to figure out why he is not getting his email.

I laughed. Not a lot, maybe just a chuckle. But Bobby would have gotten a big laugh out of this, and knowing him, he probably would have emailed all these people to tell them about the mistake, and so Ron would get his email. He was that kind of guy.

Maybe I'll do it for him. Maybe not. After all, Bill's jokes are funny.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Never Assume....

I knew this would happen at some point, and it has. I've been mistaken for a divorcee, and it was not in a very nice way. (I have nothing against divorcees, see my previous post for more explanation.)

Yesterday a friend of mine posted on Facebook an amusing account of trying to get her 16 year old son to shovel the snow. It was light-hearted and funny, and some of her other friends posted other humorous anecdotes about getting their own children to help with the snow, so I joined in the banter and commented that since we bought our new snow-blower, I was careful NOT to learn how to run it, and only my 15 year old son knows how, thus I don't have to do it. It was all in good fun.

The next commenter, somebody I do not know personally, but is friends on Facebook with my friend, then posted underneath "That is what husbands are for...."

I took this as quite a blow. It was if she was saying to me, "How dare you make your poor teen use the snowblower when you should have a husband to do it. But you're obviously not responsible or mature enough to have a husband even though you have children." Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I am very sensitive about this issue. I do not want to be mistaken for something I am not.

I was insulted that this woman had the audacity to judge me when she doesn't even know me. I had to strike back. A million nasty things went through my head that I wanted to post to this woman, but I also did not want to upset my friend, who started the conversation in the first place. So I simply commented, "My husband passed away." There were no more comments after that. I was probably a real downer at that point to everyone who participated in the conversation, but I didn't care. I was angry at the woman for her insensitive comment.

So in the words of Felix Unger, "Never assume...."

Friday, January 14, 2011

On the Radio

I’ve always been a Classic Rock sort of gal...I like listening to Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, you know the type. I always thought that my favorite Classic Rock station was a safe place to listen to the radio because I didn’t have to worry about running into Celine Dion or Air Supply singing a sappy love song that would send me into tears. The only love song I want to hear these days is Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC.

Well, when you’re grieving, there is no safe place. I know I’ve blogged in the past about being in Shop Rite or in my cousin’s pool, and remembering something about Bobby. But today, on my way to work, I was doomed.

I have a very short commute to work – ten minutes at the most – so I don’t get to hear a lot of music on my way in. So this morning, as I was pulling out of the driveway, I turned on the radio to find we are in the middle of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. Just the title was killing me. (Boy do I wish he was here...Bobby I mean, not Roger Waters.) But I decided to brave out the rest of the song, since there are no other good radio stations that come in well in my town, and I haven’t yet sprung for satellite radio. Finally the song was over and I was hoping for something along the lines of Jumping Jack Flash when the DJ put on Landslide by Fleetwood Mac.

Really? Did you ever listen to the words? "Well I’ve been afraid of changin’ since I built my life around you. But time makes you bolder and children get older. And I’m gettin’ older, too."


But I like that song, so I braved it out. I found myself actually gritting my teeth. As I made the last turn to get on the road that leads to my place of work, Landslide ended, and who comes on? Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven.

I was done. I had to sit in the car, have a good cry, then fix my mascara before going in.

So no, I've discovered that no place seems to be safe.

The up side? At least they didn’t play Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper. I probably would have turned around and gone home.