Widowed Warrior Class of 2015
So many thoughts when I read these words.
When I was of the SSHS Graduating Class of 1979 - oh the pride!
I made it!
I survived 12 years of schooling!
And in all these years, there has remained that pride.
But this - Widowed Warrior Class of 2015.
How do I be proud of this?
Because I survived.
- even when I didn’t want to. And when I didn't think I could - or would.
I think about having been 18 at graduation - how protected I had been all those years. Protected from the adult world of having to make decisions. Protected to learn, to grow.
Then, in one ceremony of graduation, I was considered “an adult”.
Faced with adult decisions and choices.
Not knowing what to do, where to go, or how to do much of anything - in real world, real life.
How did I get to where I am now in life?
One day at a time.
One choice, one decision.
Putting one foot in front of the other and walking on.
Dealing with the day-to-day challenges of life and living in an adult world.
Sometimes with the support and encouragement of others around me.
Sometimes with no support or encouragement.
Just the grit of being too stubborn to quit.
I am 62 years old - yes.
But as a widow, I am only 8 years old.
We have all either raised kids, raising kids now, or been around kids growing up.
And we were all kids at one time ;)
So, we know, or should know, that there are stages of growing up.
In terms of life -
What do we expect a newborn to do? Have their bottles, cry, pee, poop, sleep, a gradual learning of coping.
What do we expect a toddler to do? Eat, drink, pee, poop, sleep, play, walk and fall then get back up, learn to use their voices.
What do we expect a child to do? Eat, drink, pee, poop, sleep, play, start school, learn all kinds of new things.
Being a caregiver to a baby, a toddler, a child, does not mean that you are one, too. It does mean that you care enough to be involved in their lives, and not to leave them alone to fend for themselves. It does not mean that they have something contagious. It means that they were born, and they are growing.
In terms of being a widow/widower -
Why do we expect a new widow, a toddler widow, or a child widow, even our own selves, to know everything there is to know about this life alone?
Why do we expect them, and ourselves, to have it all together? Have all the answers? Do all the answers?
Why do we expect them, and ourselves, to be older than we are?
Why do we expect them, and ourselves, to run before we can walk? To walk before we can crawl? To crawl before we can even fully wake up?
Why do we expect them, and ourselves, to eat the hard foods of this life before we can even tolerate the little drinks of milk - when so often that milk of experience is not held down at all?
Why do we not just gather around one another, and give them, give ourselves, time to grow up in this widow/widower’s life?
Being a caregiver to a widow/widower does not mean they have a contagious disease that you are going to catch.
It does mean that you have to face the reality of your own mortality, and the mortality of those you love - and that is very difficult, and unpleasant, thing to face.
Being a caregiver to a widow/widower means that you care enough to be involved in their world (now alone), knowing that they are no longer a part of your world (couples).
Being a caregiver to a widow/widower can look like a hundred different things:
- a cup of coffee shared over memories, or in silence.
- sitting in the dark, listening to the sniffles.
- a phone call to ask how they are, and then listening to how they are.
- a visit to help them clean house, or take care of the yard, or any of the mundane home works that they used to share with their loved one now gone.
- a meal out, or even just brought to them. Cooking for one is such a challenge! It’s often easier to just not eat than to face the challenge.
- a special drink brought to them. How much it means to have a Sonic drink that he/she doesn’t have to get out and go get!
- tag them on a social media post, call them out to have a good day, or a sweet night of sleep. Give them a laugh over a silly meme.
- a moment to message them in the mornings or at night, doesn’t have to be a long chat - just “good morning” or “good night”. How it hurts not to say those words anymore.
Think about the million little things that you and yours do for one another in a day, or a week, or over the weekend.
Now, think about the widow/widower you know - and what they don’t do, what they can’t do.
The life they are living alone.
That is a caregiver.
That is love in action.
That is what we need.
Just as it takes time for a newborn, a toddler, a child, to grow up and learn how to live -
Just as it takes time for a high school graduate to grow up, learn how to face real life in a real adult world -
So, it takes time for a widow/widower to grow up and learn how to do this without the one that knew them best and loved them the most.
Yes, there are extreme cases where a newborn, a toddler, a child, is left alone to fend for themselves. And sadly, when that is done, very rarely does it turn out well for them.
Yes, there are cases where a high school graduate is thrown into the real world of being an adult with no guidance, no support, no help. And again, sadly, when that is done, it is even a greater challenge for their life to turn out well.
More than not, it is a standard that the widow/widower is turned out on their own to navigate life alone. Especially after the first few days to months. Once that first year has passed, there is little to no support left.
There are widows/widowers of all ages, races, creeds, nationalities, religions.
There are widows/widowers who were married for moments, for days, for years.
There are widow/widowers who never had a formal ceremony, no piece of paper was ever signed.
When you give your heart away - and the one you gave it to is taken by death?
You are a widow/widower.
And if you don't already know it - well, it changes everything - to be a widow/widower.