You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2015.

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

 

Before I could move out of our brownstone,  I needed to pack up my belongings and make some difficult decisions.  I was moving out of a 4-story Brooklyn brownstone into a 2 bedroom apartment in Manhattan, which was less than half the size of the house.

Among the pieces of furniture that wouldn’t fit was our beloved kitchen table.  It was a rectangular light-colored wood table that could comfortably seat 4.  It was plain and undistinguished but very much the epicenter of the house.   It was the place where we ate all meals, celebrated family birthdays, discussed and planned family trips, opened the mail, drank countless cups of coffee, occasionally had help with homework, read the newspaper, reckoned with bad news,  the list goes on and on.

A few days before my move, the moving company sent a team of workers to disassemble furniture that would be packed and stored in a warehouse while my apartment was being renovated, donated or trashed.  The kitchen table would be trashed, after being rejected for a donation to a local charity.  But to to reduce the cost for the trash pick-up, it would need to be dismembered, and its legs removed.

In truth, it was just a piece of furniture, but it had seen so much action, had been part of so much family history that watching it come apart became a poignant symbol for me of the end of an era of us as a family of 4.

 

Advertisements

FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender

I am embarking on a new project, namely,  to write “Widowingon” as a graphic memoir.  If you are reading this blog entry, then you are among the first to know.  I welcome any comments!

The illustrations above are the likely frontispiece and also the first page.  Since all journeys usually start by opening the door and going out, my “widowingon” memoir will begin by my leaving the brownstone in Brooklyn where I lived for 3 decades.

The house was filled with memories of family dinners, birthday parties around the kitchen table, play dates when our children were growing up,  discussions about college applications and then acceptance celebrations, and the countless mundane daily activities that get patched together into a quilt of living in a fulfilling marriage and raising children.

Leaving the house in the early afternoon of January 11, 2012, after the movers had filled 2 trucks of household possessions for temporary storage in a warehouse in the South Bronx while my apartment on the Upper West Side was being renovated, was unspeakably difficult.

The memoir, like the blog, will attempt to document the adjustment process that I had as a widow.

I wanted to mention here an article written in the New York Times on January 20, 2015 entitled, “Writing Your Way to Happiness”. The gist of the article is that “writing..can really nudge people…into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself.”  I believe that to be true and I’m grateful to this blog for contributing to that evolution.

I’m hopeful that the planned “Widowingon” graphic memoir will be an additional source of happiness.  Let me know what you think.

FullSizeRender

My husband and I first met on a blind date at the end of final exams  in our Junior year of college.  It was the end of May 1966 and our first date was a dinner at Butler Hall, a  fairly formal restaurant for the Columbia University neighborhood.  It had white tablecloths with a single rose in a vase as the centerpiece.   We didn’t actually start dating until the fall of our senior year and then we became inseparable.

Sometimes he would wait for me after a class and we would go have coffee.  Although we didn’t live together, just about every weekday night we would have dinner together.  We spent most weekends together.  Although I lived in a dorm, he had an apartment, and so we had much more freedom than many other couples in 1966.

Wherever we walked on the campus, we held hands.  It was something we continued to do throughout our 41 years of marriage.

I’m living now in the same neighborhood around Columbia.  I see many couples in their 20’s walking around and holding hands.  I ache for the feeling of his larger hand enveloping mine.

I’m now 5 years into widowhood, and 2 and a half years living in this Columbia neighborhood, which everywhere contains a map of our college relationship.

I often think it’s surreal being here as someone much older than my 22 year old self.  It’s especially surreal seeing young couples, walking the same streets, sitting in local restaurants, holding hands.

The merging of the present and the past keeps my husband with me but when, occasionally,  I extend out my hand for his, it’s with the realization that he won’t be there to hold it.

FullSizeRender

There was a recent (January 11, 2015) OpEd in the New York Times entitled, “Getting Grief Right”.  It was written by Patrick O’Malley, a psychotherapist in Fort Worth.

Frankly, it was a relief to finally read an article about grief that felt right.  I had none of the so-called “stages of grief” (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) so often trumpeted as “the standard”.  After a marriage as long as mine, and with the profound love I felt for my husband, his death left (and continues to leave even 5 years later) an enormous void in my life.

My first trip taken, within 8 months of his death, was to visit the Grand Canyon where I wanted to see a gigantic hole in the ground. I thought that visualizing the enormity of such a hole would help me understand the depths of my grief.

I’ve also imagined that another suitable metaphor for the death of a  person deeply loved would be an enormous tree with an extremely large and deep root system. If such a tree could possibly be extracted from the ground, it would leave an enormous hole.

O’Malley says as much in this remark to his patients:  “I often tell them that the size of their grief corresponds to the depth of their love.” He also recognizes that the idea of accomplishing “closure” isn’t helpful.

“To do so would be to lose a piece of a sacred bond.”

Indeed.