Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Busy, stay busy

Note: this posting was started on August 26th. Good intentions, but...

It helps me to stay busy, stay occupied. And it really, REALLY helps to do activities outside the house and with other people. Unless you are very alone (meaning no family lives with you, no roommate, nobody), you probably cannot relate to this need, this compelling need to socialize.

Anyhoo... It has been and will be a good, busy week for me. Last Saturday was another Meetup for the Houston Widows and Widowers group. Much better one (for me) this time. It was a movie meetup. We met at a pre-assigned time, chose our movie (Tropic Thunder for me and most of the others, Mirrors for 2 remaining), then met at Cafe Adobe afterwards for food and talk. Miss Chatty Cathy was there with her 2 daughters, but somehow did not monopolize the conversation. I am not sure how or why that happened, but it was a blessing for me and for some others. We think she might benefit from a grief group or from conversations with a pastor or something. I just know that we should not have to act as a counselor for her. Don't tell me that I am cold or unfeeling - it is just that we all deserve a few minutes to speak our piece, share our quirks and questions, express our fears or reluctance. And when she starts to talk, that does NOT happen. It turns into a filibuster.

After we ate, most of us stuck around to try to plan some upcoming activities. We think we might get better attendance if we have a variety of things planned. I did meet 2 additional members (one a recent joiner and one who joined several months ago). Plus I met the organizer, a very vibrant and supportive woman.

Tonight (Wednesday) I signed up for a cooking class. Don't know if it will be any of the ol' hands-on stuff, but I hope to pick up some recipes, pointers, etc. And it will allow me to meet some MORE new people. The theme is Asian food, so that should be interesting. Many years ago, I went to a cooking class on stir-fry cooking, and that's how I got started on using a wok.

Thursday is the monthly dinner-group meeting, with the people from church. We are going to Rudi Lechner's Restaurant - I think the owner is either Austrian or German. The food is a good selection of some German-style favorites. I really like going to this restaurant during the Oktoberfest time - because then they have a little German-flavored entertainment, with music and a guy who does a comedic bit - and of course I really like the sing-along songs. A coupla beers loosens my vocal cords! My fellow dinner-groupers are probably happy that this is NOT Oktoberfest and they will not have to listen to my caterwauling.

The Meetup group has an afternoon of miniature golf planned for Saturday. This is a long weekend (Labor Day holiday) and we tried to schedule something so that we can get out of our houses and mingle over that time frame. I am looking forward to sleeping in for a couple of mornings.

Finally, I would suggest this particular blog-posting for anyone in my situation (lost your spouse). The fellow who writes this blog has recently remarried, and I hope they have a long and happy life together. His wife died over 2 years ago, leaving him and his 2-year-old son to carry on. This blog comments on dating again, on going forward after losing your spouse. Please pay attention to his warnings about reading it - if you are not yet open to approaching life again, or you are not ready to socialize yet, then this may not be something you should read. For me, the timing was right... but then, I have always been a social-type, and I enjoy meeting others and feel like I am not ready to dry up and blow away. Anyway, here is his blog about Honoring Your Wedding Vows. It really spoke to me. Really and truly.

I am finishing this long-delayed post (written about a week-and-a-half ago) so that I can get over this one and move on to another.

Today was the four-month mark for me, after Greg's death. And I am amazed at the progress. Yes, I miss Greg; yes, I am lonely; yes, I curse about having to do EVERYTHING myself. But I am amazed at how much progress I have made, emotionally. I never, NEVER thought I would be at this stage by now. I can talk freely about him without breaking down into sobs. Of course, I will still be caught off-guard. I had found a good country-music station which broadcasts out of Austin, on my return trip yesterday from visiting my friends in Wimberley. And this song comes on, I'll Wait for You, which I vaguely recalled. And when the song was ending with these lines:

The doctor said, she's in a better place
She said to give this you this note just in case

And it said, I'll wait for you at Heaven's gate
Oh, I don't care how long it takes
And I'll tell Saint Pete I can't come in
Without my love and my best friend
Oh, this ain't nothin' new
Sweetheart, I'll wait for you
P.S. I love you, too
Sweetheart, I'll wait for you

Well, that was it for me. I was in tears. Just drivin' and cryin'. Caught off-guard, like I said. A song that I would have previously dismissed as schmaltzy. Now with a new meaning to me. Just like Garth Brooks' song, The Dance.

Posting this one... and hopefully followed by another, in a much shorter time frame.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This awful club

Here is one of the latest blog postings by the woman who writes about losing her husband and the father of their 6 kids:

Bandages and Wounds

She is fortunate that she has identified (somehow) a group of widows up in her area (the Woodlands, which is about a 1-hour drive north of where I live). And I know what she means by this "same sucky club" that no one wants to join.

Like she expressed: I am sure that people look at me and hear me and think (or tell each other) that I am doing so well. NOT. It is a facade, folks. Smoke and mirrors. You should see the house and how neglected everything is. Not really dirty. But just kinda, why bother? Who else will see it? It's just me, the bills, the tv and the empty house. Every time Greg's watch beeps (on the hour, EVERY hour) and I am there to hear it, I'll make a remark to him (as though he could even hear that remark). But it's the only "person" that I have to talk with. Try going an entire day without speaking to another living person. Not so great, eh? And that's my day, if I don't go to work or shopping or some other place where folks probably think that I am way too chatty. If they only knew.

That beeping watch. Greg brought it back with him from Phoenix. It had been his dad's, and good ol' Bob, an engineer to the end, had obviously set this Timex to do that (beeping on the hour) and then descended into the hell that is Alzheimer's, leaving his watch beeping on. I complained to Greg - he, who needed the hearing aid, after damaging his hearing over years of playing live music next to amps - and told him that I could hear it when I was in the kitchen and it beeped in the bedroom. I could, I really could. Annoying. And now it is a measure of comfort to me. Strange, eh? It reminds me that another hour has passed or that a new day is starting, or that another day is drawing to a close.

Next week it will be 3 months since Greg died. I can go up those stairs now, but I always think about how I found him there that day, after his life had ebbed away. Poor baby - all alone, and all I can hope is that it was quick and that he didn't linger there.

I know that I am not the only woman (or person) who has gone through this, or who will go through this. It is just so personal to each of us, and some days are tougher to get through than others. I bought a grief journal last week, and it arrived a day or two ago. I hope that, while writing in it, I can make progress in my sorrowful journey. I want to laugh again, find joy again, have dreams again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Where do the dreams go?

So, Saturday night was my first Meetup with the Houston Widows and Widowers group. At a local Mexican chain-restaurant. A good excuse to have an alcoholic drink and snarf down some tortilla chips. Ninfa’s has a good red sauce, and their green sauce (guess it is probably tomatilla sauce) is great!

Seventeen (out of membership of 50-plus members) had signed up for this one. Believe that we ended up with a total of only 10.

Unfortunately, I chose tne wrong end of the table to plop down at. Sat and listened and listened and listened, as one widow merrily rattled on, oblivious to the fact that she was completely monopolizing the time and conversation. To listen to her: theirs had been the perfect marriage, they were so compatible, they had so many likes and dislikes that they shared, etc. And I gotta tell you that she was not a new widow – which some of us at this dinner were – nor was this her first Meetup with this group. We can post our impressions of the Meetup online, and another widow remarked: “The girl next to me didn't really let alot of us share things about our life and our grief. In fact, I didn't talk much about my grief at all.” And that was not the first comment about (I am sure) this same blabbermouth. From a previous meeting, I read: “One person often dominated the conversation, but maybe they needed to.” Oh, please. Once, maybe she was happy to have someone to share with. Twice, you are a pain in the ass. You are NOT the only one with loss and pain. She lost her husband two years ago. And there were women there with very VERY recent losses. I wasn’t sure that I would return to another Meetup.

However, I was able to make a bit of conversation with D, the woman seated to my left, and with J, the woman seated across the table from her. D asked, “Do you have dreams anymore?” and I paused, thinking that she meant those dreams that occur while you sleep (and which I rarely remember, although I guess I do have them). Then she explained that she was talking about plans, ideas, future things you might do. And I realized (and answered the same), “No, I don’t.” And she concurred with me on that.

When Greg died, the idea of fun, retirement plans, future trips, etc., died with him. The joy or potential for joy seemed to die, too. We had hopes, ideas, dreams. Wanted to go back to Europe, since our one and only visit there back in 1996 had been so much fun. Thought we could drive to various places in the U.S., visiting friends and acquaintances along the way. And now? Now I guess it’s either go alone (hoo boy – what great fun that would be), travel with another woman (my friends are all paired off), or live vicariously through another’s dreams and travels. Damn. Damn, damn, damn. The dreams go… and they are replaced with loneliness, lots of “to do’s” that you can’t share with anyone else, meals eaten alone, and too many tears that you shed behind closed doors.

What a crappy sorority that I didn’t want to join. But did. And can’t opt out of.