Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is There ONE Positive Aspect of Being a Widow?

Curious, aren't you.  What in the world could possibly be positive about being a widow?  I will get to this....but please be patient....there is a method to my thought process, although it may not make sense at first.  A little background to start with..... 

A year ago at this time I was dealing with some very difficult personal issues...and found myself living life on a Tilt-a-Whirl.  I also was heading off to Austin, TX for the 2010 LIVESTRONG Challenge....and finding myself surrounded by my LIVESTRONG family, gave me the strength to slow that Tilt-a-Whirl down.

It was also upon the return from that trip that I embarked on something new...writing this blog.  Take a look back at one of my original posts - How LIVESTRONG Saved Me From the Tilt-a-Whirl

What began as a way for me to share details about my training and races throughout the year has evolved into something completely different.

Yes, I am still running my races....and training....and raising funds for LIVESTRONG...but my blog posts have become more "therapeutic" for me....and an opportunity for me to honestly and openly share what life as a widow is like.  It ain't all.

Life has definitely been on and off the Tilt-a-Whirl this year.  Yet my friendships in and out of LIVESTRONG have allowed me to "stay afloat."

My 13 year old son asked me earlier this year what was different....I compared myself to treading water.  When you are constantly treading water, you get tired.  When you get tired, you start to go under the water, but you pull yourself up and keep treading water.  Eventually, you get so tired that you can't pull yourself up anymore...and you begin to drown.

Life - the loneliness, the single parenting 365 days a year, the juggling work and home, the broken refrigerator, the flooded basement, the flat tire, the dead battery, the shoveling snow, the school "craft" projects, carving out time to exercise, grocery shopping, laundry, etc, etc, etc....finally 7 years later had me "drowning."

A lot of life experiences were involved in creating that Tilt-a-Whirl and drowning feeling however as I reflect back, I realize that the largest contributing factor was allowing myself to lose a piece of me in a relationship that was very important to me.

And also in this reflection, I recognize that bouncing back from this relationship has been far more difficult than moving forward after the death of my spouse.

Not that losing my spouse was easy....but he left me loving me....never made me wonder what I could have done differently, what was wrong with me (which by the way, I know there is aboslutely nothing wrong with me...I'm fabulous....but we all wonder that from time to time), never caused me heartbreak, never caused me to provide an uncomfortable explanation to my kids or friends,and never, ever left me questioning my ability to trust.

As a widow, losing the love of your life does create some sort of guilt for wanting to move be loved allow yourself to love again.  However, with this relationship, I finally opened myself to the idea I could love again.  And loving again didn't mean my love for Brian never existed.  That love will always be a part of me....ALWAYS.

Why am I sharing all this?  Well, yesterday I surprised my boys with a trip to St. Louis to see their favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies, take on the Cardinals in the playoffs.  (A team their dad loved...and passed this on to his children). A once in a lifetime opportunity for them since we live 13 hours away from Philadelphia.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well, in order to get to St. Louis, I had to complete a drive I had not done since my break-up earlier this year.  And emotions I had been hiding away came pouring back.

And why am I sharing this with you?  Well, because I can feel the emotional Tilt-a-Whirl creeping up again....makes me a bit angry....why in the world do I feel this way for someone that didn't find me important enough to move mountains for me?  I....we all....deserve that.  But, sometimes your heart wrestles your brain and wins.

So what?  Well, thinking about writing my blog for a full year got me to re-read my years posts....and yep, great therapy.  And even better therapy, seeing my LIVESTRONG gang again next week.  Can't wait to have my LIVESTRONG fix!  These are the folks that get it...that have been impacted by cancer themselves - in a variety of ways - but all supportive of each other and the various challenges cancer has created for each of us.  Yet another reason I am so passionate about LIVESTRONG.

But most importantly, I want to share the light bulb that went off in my head during that emotional drive.  Being a widow is awful....nothing positive about it.....with the exception of the lesson I learned this year.  Being left behind by someone that loves you entirely....because they have NO control over their leaving much easier to accept than being left behind by someone that loved you and HAD control over their leaving.

And as always, appreciate the love of your life.  Move mountains for them.  Make them feel as though they are the most important thing in your life - which they are!  And, most importantly, if you love someone, be sure they know it....and don't let them ever forget it!


  1. You are an incredible woman! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I have a husband just like that Barb....and I don't take the time to tell him or show him enough how much he means to me. Thank you for posting this. You have reminded me of the beautiful gift that I have.

  3. I just read this post and wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your ability to document your experiences.

    Barb, you are amazing. I know you're going to keep getting back on the tilt-a-whirl line--as we all do--and even if it knocks you on your ass, that you will keep getting up and moving forward.