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Widows tale

Widows tale

Tags: death, loss

life sometimes brings us great change, and change is painful.

Everyone has a story to tell. This is but a small portion of mine that I normally keep private because telling it causes me to relive the pain within it.

I once had dreams of being an artist. Instead of following my dream I got married, choosing normal when I was anything but that. Sifting through the remains of my former existence and preparing to start my life over, I am overwhelmed by memories and lost years.

After the packing and paring down of my worldly possessions I look down at the remainder of my former life with sadness and with hope. I'm down to two boxes and a suitcase. All that’s left of fifty-two years of living. It's such a paltry amount. A poignant pitiful few keepsakes and a family bible. I have such sadness at the paltry remainder but I also have hope that there is so much more in my future.

Where life is so uncertain and full of change, mine remained the same for years. Putting pen and paints away for some faraway day, I made a career, raised a daughter and took care of a sick husband. Those vows of until death do us part meant something to me. It doesn't matter if my marriage had dried up and blew away, I still stayed. It was how I was raised.

October 2011 we got the news my husband had cancer. What a fucking curve ball that was. So I girded myself for yet another battle, keeping vigil against the encroaching darkness I didn't quite understand.

My battle plan to meet it head on just like I did everything else. Endless days of chemo, radiation, platelets, blood transfusions, doctor's visits and a never ending parade of specialist. There never seemed to be enough time.

March 4, 2012 was the fateful day the first spark was struck and I felt the first flames of change. “Ms. Smith you need to come to the hospital right away,” was the phone call I got. Chills went down my spine as I rushed to the hospital.

My husband was already gone by the time I arrived. I never failed my family at anything and the guilt I felt was crippling. I questioned everything I did. Why did I go to work? Why didn't I just stay home? Why wasn't I better prepared? WHY? WHY? WHY?

I didn't even get to say goodbye. I felt like I had broken my promise to him. Three days I walked round in a bone numbing haze not quite believing he was gone. I sat and stared, my daughter went a little mad as she always was daddy’s girl.

I cried like a child standing by his grave as they folded the flag and handed it to me with a salute. Everything was in slowmotion as if something surreal from one of those special effects movies. Each thump of earth on the lid of that box was a heartbeat of my life. With each lift of that spade I thought if only we had more time maybe we could have fixed us.

I heard friends and family as they gave their condolences. The shaking of hands, the receiving pats on the back, the obligatory words, but all the while I was thinking “what the fuck just happened?”

I was mad, pissed beyond redemption. Being a widow at 50 never entered my calculations. Years of knowing who I was and what my life consisted of and ‘poof’ it was all gone. Suddenly I was adrift and clueless, directionless and afraid. My bonfire of change was a consuming blaze, burning me to ashes and leaving me breathless and dazed. An empty husk.

I railed at my fate. A fate that didn't listen to my pleas, but rather just poured another bucket of blood on my life and stood back giggling. The shit just kept getting deeper. My daughter hated me for all that happened and went missing. Another heartbreak I wasn't expecting, my long standing job folded leaving me drifting financially.

After a year of wading hip deep through the muck of what had become my life, I couldn't take it anymore. So yes, I tried the unthinkable. On a cold evening on a muddy river bank, for the first time in my life I surrendered. Why I'm still standing here to tell this tale is shy of a miracle and that’s the truth.

God, fate, destiny, call it what you will, stripped me bare and threw me into a raging fire of desperation. I crawled into it but I walked out of it different and transformed. I am not the same person nor will I ever be again. I was like a newborn anticipating life.

Now anyone who has seen a field being burned and cleared for the next growing season will understand that fire is the great cleanser and sometimes the old has to die for the new to take root. You have to burn to purge the soil. New seed must be sown for the new crop to thrive. This is the only way I could come up with to describe this part of my journey.

Gazing at these paltry remains and remembering the trials and tribulations, the agony, the pain and the desperation, I can tackle anything now. I am leaving my home state in a few days to greet a newly created future with a brave new face. A new life and a new career inspired by a new love.

Change is a terrifying thing and being reborn is a painful and enlightening experience with some very harsh lessons that damn near killed me. You can never take anything for granted. Time is a precious commodity and you have to spend it well. Finally I learned that love starts with yourself first.

Love, faith, fate, destiny and a touch of the divine can sometimes change the stars. They certainly changed mine. Now I might be somewhat damaged, but it is the scars of my life that make me beautiful. Now instead of looking at the world in black and white I see colors.

That my friends is my widow's tale.

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