Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The holidays. Spending time with family.
But.......which family? Whose family? What is family?Family can be a tricky concept these days, even trickier for those of us who have been widowed.
In Webster's dictionary the first definition listed is a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation. #2 is a group of person's of common ancestry.#3 is a group of individuals living under one roof.
Hmmmmm.....a while after Bob died the boys and I were in the car line waiting to drop Henry off at pre-school. Out of the car in front of us came a mom, a dad, and a child.
"Wow, the whole family is here today," I said to Henry idly.
''We aren't a family anymore," he responded wistfully. "Now that daddy is dead."
The car in front of us pulled ahead, we pulled ahead and it was our turn to get out of the car. The tears standing in my eyes were nothing new to the teachers that year so we made the exchange of Henry without discussion.
After telling my sister-in-law about the incident she bought us The Family Book by Todd Parr....about all different kinds of families. I read it to Henry often and now I read it to Arthur. I still choke up at the part that says....all families are sad when they lose someone they love.......
These days when I read the line.....some families have 2 dads.... Henry always chimes in; "Arthur and I have two dad's. Our dad that is dead and Mike, our step-dad"(I know that is not what they are really referring to in the book people, OK, but it is very cute all the same) and when we get to the part that says......some families have a step-mom Arthur always says; "We won't ever have a step-mom" and then Henry chimes in again; "Yes, we could Arthur, if mom dies and Mike gets married then that woman would be our step-mom." (thanks for that bit of information Henry)
But seriously, if that lovely scenario played out, is that woman indeed their step-mom? Just who is the woman married to your step-dad?
So then there is the question of in-laws. Recently the boys and I went to their aunt's (Bob's sisters) for dinner. On the way home Henry asked why the Hogan's (his step siblings) hadn't come to dinner.
"This is your dad's family, buddy. They aren't really the Hogan's family." I tried to explain weakly.
"Well, then why did YOU come? You should have just dropped me and Arthur off." Henry (of course) said bluntly.
"How do you figure?" I asked, trying to stay amused and not annoyed.
"Well, dad is dead and you were only related to Aunt Jane and Aunt Kathy and Grandma because you were married to him. But we are his children so we are related forever. So why do you still come to Aunt Jane and Aunt Kathy's?"
Yikes!! I am too tired for this.
Webster's definition of an in-law is a relative by marriage.
So then......on Halloween the boys were deep in discussion regarding the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. We all decided we liked milk chocolate much better."I guess we are a milk chocolate family," Arthur announced.
"Your dad loved dark chocolate," I said to Arthur as I stood at the sink washing dishes.
"Mom," he said to me with that sing song tone he had to have learned from me, that tone that says you should understand this already, but your young and still learning, so I am going to go over it one more time. "Dad is dead, remember, he isn't part of our family anymore."
Ahhhhhhhhhhh! I am WAY too tired for THIS.
Death is defined as a permanent cessation of all vital functions.
Well that clears it up for me.
Is "family" a "vital function". When a person dies do family ties cease?
I know we aren't living under one roof, not physically anyway, but I still like to think of Bob as part of the family. We have blocks for everyone in our family on our mantel with their initial on one side and their birth statistics on another, and the 'B' starts off the line up. BIMANSHA, that is who we are, too bad we can't fit it on our license plate.
And, despite what Henry might believe, I will always consider Bob's family to be my in-laws.
I think the point is family is anyone you consider family to be. It can't be defined by ancestry, marriage, affiliations or houses. And it doesn't have to be ended by death.
Thanks for checking in-
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
When Mike and I first met many of his friends expressed concern about him dating a widow.
I was insulted, of course. It isn't like I killed the guy. I didn't ask to be a widow or anything.
I understand it was their concern for him regarding the sainted dead spouse syndrome. People worry about the comparison to the dead spouse. Because anyone who has lost anyone they care about knows that you only remember the good stuff. Even the not so good stuff seems SO much better in the remembering.
........remember when we were lost in the woods for hours that one time because Bob insisted we didn't need a flashlight.........man, that was the best!...........
It can be difficult being in a relationship with a widow, I admit. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, school conferences, dentist appointments, movies, vacations, dinner........any event seems to hold a memory and a possibility of bittersweet sadness, disappointment, unfulfilled dreams or regret. Even in the middle of true joy and elation these moments can rear their ugly head with no warning.
These moments can last for minutes, hours, or days, there is no predicting grief.
I would still highly recommend a relationship with a widow. We are awesome! We have faced our worst fears and have survived, maybe even thrived. We are independent and creative and insightful. We are wise and thoughtful.
So we might cry randomly, would you prefer we weren't sad about losing our spouse? (that would be totally different baggage to have to deal with) Wouldn't you like to know that if/when something happens to you we will keep your memory alive for those that knew you and for those that never had the chance? Who doesn't want a few pictures of themselves kept around the house after they are gone?
Our spouse died, but our relationship didn't end.
I realize it is hard to understand if you haven't lived it. But wishing someone was still here does not mean wishing someone else wasn't. Nobody is a second choice, just a different choice for a different time.
I believe the key to a successful relationship with a widow is honesty and self confidence, for both parties.
Comparisons are odious a friend once told me (actually told me numerous times....). This saying is true for so many situations. Other peoples relationships, other peoples children, other peoples jobs, houses, parents, yard, car........ Comparing your situation to another persons can be a dangerous game. Comparison can take on a whole new level when you are involved with a widow.
Comparisons are going to happen, you can't stop them, it is human nature, people are different. The key is what you do with them. My general rule is to keep most of them to myself unless they are completely objective;
"Bob's eyes were blue." or "Bob enjoyed biking."
or if they make my live husband look really good;
"I have never had anyone serve me breakfast in bed." or "I love that you cut your fingernails in the bathroom over a garbage can, instead of leaving them in a pile around the house like Bob always used to do."
OK, of course, in a perfect world no one would date anyone who was widowed or divorced or who had any relationship baggage whatsoever and no one would have to hear the name of a former spouse spoken out loud. Since we don't live in a perfect world I am here to tell you that dating a widow isn't all that bad, even if the dead spouse is sainted. The dead spouse never calls during dinner and they have few opinions that differ from those of the live parent.
Pick your poison.
Thanks for checking in -
Monday, November 2, 2009
I hate that Bob died. I hate that I was widowed. I really do.
I can be pragmatic. I can be practical. I know that my life is now and not then and there is no use comparing or wishing.
I can be philosophical and insightful. I am grateful for all the silver linings of the situation, happy with what I have now and rather impressed at times with the person I have become. I really am.
But then Arthur's birthday comes around, just like it does every year, and I feel that kicked in the gut, wind knocked out of me feeling again. I find myself sitting cross legged on Arthur's bunk bed sobbing in the dark into my cupped hands hoping I don't wake the boys up, wondering how long this storm will last.
It must be the proximity of Bob's death and Arthur's birth that does it for me every year. Remembering all the craziness that he was born into. I think Arthur knew he was better off in the womb. He wasn't late but he sure needed coaxing once he began his hesitant appearance, as if he wasn't quite sure he really wanted to be out here among all of the darkness that was our lives at that time. Who could blame him, at least the darkness he was coming from was warm.
Once the storm passes, and it does pass, I make it up to our bedroom and I am sure Mike can tell that I have been crying. But he says nothing. He has learned that is best sometimes. What is there to say? I wish Bob were here to celebrate his son's birthday. I wish the two of us could reminisce about the day Arthur was born. I wish Bob were here to see Arthur dance to Van Halen (long story).
I wish Bob were here.
Grief can't always be shared or explained, it just has to be experienced and lived through.
Thanks for checking in-