“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”John Newton
Have you ever played the game…”I Am”? In the game you are challenged to find all the ways you can answer the question, “Who are you?” Here are a few of my responses: I am a woman entering her seventh decade with a little trepidation and fear, but primarily filled with a sense of adventure and a willingness to embrace life. I am a retired teacher who still enjoys being with children more than adults. I am daughter, a sister, a mother and grandmother…not necessarily in that order. I am a child of the midwest who put down roots in Vermont and North Carolina. I am a Unitarian Universalist, Christian, Pagan, Seeker. I am blessed by life long friendships and the wonder of friendships that are just beginning. Now too, I am a widow.
When I wrote those words a few months ago I was just beginning to come to terms with the fact that widowhood was now the most prominent color in the rainbow of who I am. The death of my husband affects every aspect of my life from the huge decisions I am now making alone to the smallest details of everyday life. I keep buying more fruit than I can possibly eat and what do I do with a brand new container of shaving cream that I’m never going to use?
I’ve also come to recognize how widows communicate wordlessly across a room acknowledging that you both understand the other in a way that was previously impossible. You’re both card-carrying, dues-paying members in a club that neither of you wanted to join and yet you consider ditching the traditional Widow’s Weeds for the official t-shirt…”Now what”?
Yes, the label is inescapable. I am many things and widow is among them, but it doesn’t always have to be the final word in the paragraph or the only definition of who I am.
Navigating these new waters isn’t easy, but I come from strong stock. My ancestors journeyed across the Atlantic in small ships for heaven’s sake. I can do this. Besides, the ship I’m on has already left the harbor. My ticket has been punched. I have no choice, but to sail on. What I can choose however is whether I’ll make the journey above deck scanning the horizon for my next port or if I’ll wallow in my cot below. In truth, I’m pretty sure that as much as I wish it were otherwise, there will be many days when I find myself curled up in that cot, but I’m hopeful that most of the time you’ll find me standing in the sun, salt spray in my face, and with the wind in my hair.