Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Still Wading Through It All
I intended to move on from this blog to a, perhaps, more forward-looking one, still about being alone and middle-aged but not so tied to the past and not so achingly sad. But I find that I still have things to say here and, in any case, I haven't had time to set up a new blog. So here will have to do for a little longer. I hope you're all still reading and that you might still get something out of hearing about one ordinary woman's experiences.
I was watching an episode of Poirot on the telly yesterday, cuddled up with a blanket and fighting a bug. I've watched the episode before, probably many times. In it, Poirot is called in by the widow of an English lord and Egyptologist. She fears that a curse brought about the death of her husband and that her son, who wants to go out to Egypt and take over the excavation, will suffer the same fate.
I watched her sitting on an elegant sofa in her ancestral home, dignified as she pled with Poirot to intervene. And I knew, suddenly, all the pain she was feeling. As sometimes happens with these lightest of entertainments, suddenly a profound truth is illuminated (testament to some fine writing and some fab acting). More than that, though: more than empathy with a fellow widow at the beginning of her journey, I suddenly saw the enormity of how her life had been changed by this event. A short time ago, she had been a wife, half of a great partnership. She would have arranged grand parties, entertained famous and interesting people; supported her husband in his endeavours. She would have had the respect of other people; other people might even have envied her her life. A week ago, if you saw her sitting on the same sofa, she would have produced a certain set of emotions in you. You would have accepted her grace and self-possession as a natural reflection of her life. Now, when I looked at her, that same grace and self-possession looked like bravery and a small defiance. I imagined her looking physically smaller than before, and her aloneness on the sofa looked like a metaphor for her aloneness now in her life.
Thus, I thought, is a life obliterated by the death of a spouse. You can look just the same, do the same things, but EVERYTHING has changed and no-one will ever treat you the same again. You are no longer normal. You are no longer mainstream. You are, at best, an object of pity but, generally, suddenly irrelevant to the rest of the world.
I am surprised to find that, six years after the death of my husband, I am still in this position. I'm a fighter, I'm a positive person but I still am unhappy every day, thousands of days after being widowed. I sometimes wonder if everything would suddenly be okay if I remarried. But I have blogging friends who would probably tell me that that is not always the answer. It's a mystery. Anyone have the answer?