I am having a very widowed day, even for a Monday.
One of Gavin's best friends is dying. He had a massive aneurysm and wasn't found for a few days. I tried to go up and visit him, even after I found out, despite the different name, that it was the same hospital where we saw our oncologist, where Gavin had chemo all summer one year and a dreadful surgery that fall. That I’d again be crossing the vast clean lobby, but this time without my love in a wheelchair. The same parking lot, with native plants to color-code each level, so friendly – a hospital parking lot.
Don was -- not just a friend. We spent a lot of time with Don and Linda before their divorce, which depressed us. Don was nearly Gavin’s twin, the same suit size, same height, similarly thin, handsome, and clean cut. Their art was even similar, their concerns and conversations and love for Guy Davenport and theory. Don has a blacker side than Gavin did, though, and loved obscure poetry, had a crazy romantic self who appeared once in a bit, insisted on living rougher and never started a family.
He visited Gavin on his last day, in hospice, and a week before that, was one of the few I invited to the ICU. I cried talking to Linda about it – she was his only one, traveling from her new home to take care of some things and watch over him.
I feel I must go in tribute, too, in return. To thank him for his kindness – we visited after I took Shortie to the ballet, and she padded about his studio after him. That was the last time I saw him – just when I was starting to date, so two years ago plus.
Even with a life hanging, my pilgrimage was prevented by a very trivial widowed chain of events. As always, you can have something spiritual and important and gory and real, and still get messed up by worry and paperwork and the way small bits of time pass you by.
First, Mr. Fresh listened to Car Talk during his morning workout and decided I should not drive up to the hospital with my bad brakes. There was “another problem” it could be and he “isn’t crazy about the idea of losing me just yet.”
I made an appointment with the repair shop and took it in. They’d give me a loaner: even better for the long drive up to see Don. When I showed up, they pointed out that my license was expired. Who KNEW they expire on your birthday? A side effect of wishing that day away every year since the diagnosis, which was the day before my birthday. Second widowhood-related complication.
The MVA was smooth and easy, but still took an hour. And then it was time, as it is always time, to fetch the dinner and the daughter. Yes, I got something important done, which had to be done, but now I can’t take the car in until tomorrow and drive the loaner up to the hospital.
It’s a small setback, but that’s what every day is like, when it isn’t dead serious or grey during grief: a set of menial tasks to please someone you don’t really care about. It’s the company that makes it all worthwhile. At least, that was what I thought the whole first year after my loss: the deliciousness of having company and the emptiness of life without that one person. So I got another flashback, one of perspective.
And that’s what makes me saddest: that Don lay there. That Linda was the only one to be asking if there was work to be delivered to a show in November (most of what we talked about). To mourn, but only as a friend, because the partnership ended long ago. She’ll be grieving only memories, not any present or future.
Sometimes people say “no one should die alone,” which is sort of a point, but it’s very important to note that we do all come into this world alone and we all do die alone.
But as much as I hate being a widow, I think the proper expression should be: No one should die without widowing someone. It’s only in giving love that we live well, and we don't need just a caregiver, but a witness. No one lost Don’s future and that’s a crying shame.
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|Mr. Fresh calls my iPhone my "Lamby."|
|What does he call his iPhone? "My iPhone."|
You can tell the difference, can't you? (Does anyone else have a nickname for their phone? Or perhaps a jealous friend has given your phone a DIFFERENT nickname?)
(Let’s just get all this out of the way.) I’m jealous of widows who had life insurance, or whose husbands had good jobs with automatic coverage despite preexisting conditions. I’m jealous of those who got to be married longer. I’m jealous of those whose marriages were the most happy they’d ever been. I’m jealous of those who were still falling in love when their partners died.
I’m jealous of anyone who has more than one kid. I’m jealous of parents who didn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to get pregnant. I’m jealous of Moms who have time to work out. I’m jealous of women with good skin and no back fat.
I’m jealous of folks with real careers and who have found the answer to their life’s meaning and the world’s need early in their lives. I’m jealous of folks who are happy just doing their job, or who have pushed through to have real power at my age. I’m jealous of many people who made different choices than I did.
I’m jealous of celebrities with book contracts, and I’m jealous of stupid products that make a lot of money (like Katy Perry and the Baby Einstein videos).
I’m jealous of people with wonderfully supportive extended families that are not neurotic or abusive, and those with independent income. I’m jealous of people who live in inarguably gorgeous places like San Diego.
I’m not jealous of widowed people who “had a chance to say goodbye,” even though hearing this prickles me, because based on living side by side with a dying husband for two years, I think it very rarely happens and I don’t begrudge the few people who may have had this fulfillment.
I’m only a little jealous of those who have faith, the universe holds many ambiguities I can live with, since I believe they are true. I’m not someone who needs answers. I am, however, jealous of people who believe in affirmations and Louise Hay. I crave seeking and process but prefer it when it’s accompanied by genuine original insight. Talk about asking for the world!
I’m a little jealous of people who have good digital SLRs.
I’m not jealous of anyone’s problems, I believe the old adage that if we all put our problems into a giant hat, we’d each take back our own. With pleasure. That’s probably why I hold onto mine so hard.
I’m not jealous of people who’ve had really easy lives, because I think they are often bored and boring. But I am jealous if they seem to be satisfied with that all.
I’m not jealous of anyone’s sense of humor, mine is as good as it’s going to get.
I’m not jealous of anyone’s education or innate smarts.
I’m not jealous of anyone’s kid, mine is perfect.
I’m not jealous of anyone’s creativity, mine exceeds almost anyone’s.
I’m not jealous of anyone’s garden, mine is growing.
I'm not jealous of anyone's entire life, or of this moment, anywhere, anyhow.
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The first "Widow's Cooking" post was one of my funnier ones and it was picked up by Aiming Low, the parenting blog of "no standards." (At least not for the parenting. I am pretty sure they're set for editorial.)
That post included a recipe for (edible) Widowed Potatoes. But these potatoes happened just last week, and I couldn't resist. Burned AND late -- what could be more widowed than that?
P.S. Here's a joke (if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't know): Do you know how many are in a Widow's Dozen? Eleven.