The Widowhood Puzzle

Becoming an “Only Parent” to your children is one of the biggest pieces of this widowhood puzzle. And it is a puzzle, with so many pieces scattered wildly every day. My job is to try my best to pull these pieces together in the right order, in the most efficient  and sensible way possible. Many, many times that simply doesn’t happen. Not because I don’t want it to but because I just can’t. I don’t have enough time, resources or hands to manage it all. But I do my best and that is good enough – it has to be.

One of the biggest pieces of this puzzle has been my children’s education. All 3 of my girls are very different and learn very differently. As a result, we have gone through neuro-psych testing, evaluations and countless IEP meetings with the school district and tried many different models of education. We have dealt with language-based learning issues, auditory processing issues, processing speed issues, as well as a host of physical and emotional problems that have impacted their education. I have had to fight repeatedly for my kids to get the education they need make some very tough decisions on my own. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I have some amazing friends that are very well versed in these areas that have coached and guided  me along the way, thank goodness. But these are very difficult waters to navigate and  every damn meeting that I have had to go to alone  – with teachers, with evaluators, with doctors, with head of departments in the school district – the weight of the world feels like it’s on my shoulders. I wish I had someone to walk into each of those meetings with me, wish that my husband was there to hear all the same information I did and be able to go home and process it together. So often I have come out of those meetings, walking tall to my car, climb inside, shut the door and fall apart. It is such an emotionally-charged process and managing it all on your own is hard. It often feels like too much, like you can’t possibly handle another thing. Grief  trigger? You bet. It’s not supposed to be this way but this is what you’ve got.

It seems like as soon as I have one issue tackled, another one pops up over there. It feels like playing Whack-a-Mole with children’s problems. As soon as I get that one the proper tutor, another has to be re-evaluated for math in 3rd grade. One is dealing with major anxiety in high school; another is struggling to understand the text of a required reading novel.  One Is moved to the perfect new school; another is discovering they are in the wrong place to learn. Aaaaaggghhhhhh.

It is all made more difficult because so many of the resources that would really be beneficial to my girls are ridiculously expensive and most therapies and testing are not covered by insurance. I have not felt badly even once for applying for financial aid for schools that my children have needed to attend. Some have been very reasonable and some equate to college tuition. I try hard to do my very best by my children and get them all they need but there are many times it just can’t happen. I am envious of those parents with kids in similar situations that have the funds to give their kids all the resources they need. And I am incredulous at those that have the money and do not do all they can for their children with learning issues and special needs. The part of the country that we live in is so rich with resources for these kiddos – I would do so much more for my girls if I was able.

I have often said that when you have children after you get married, it’s all happy and lovely and miraculous and all, and it feels like a fairly big deal to create a human. But once your spouse dies, it feels like the hardest, biggest job in the world. It feels bigger – and it is. It’s a lot for one person to manage even without extraneous issues like learning issues, physical and emotional problems. Throw all that other stuff in and it’s no wonder my puzzle is usually in pieces all over the place. It is overwhelming but we do it and we do the best we can – and that just has to be good enough.

Those Days…

Those days when you feel like you are walking through thick, wet cement. Those days when you have a to-do list a mile long but you get to none of it because forty other things came up that you had to deal with right away. Those days when you cannot feel anything but overwhelmed. Those days when you are sad and dark and feeling so far behind. Those days when it feels like the world is closing in on you. Those days when there is so much to fix and do that it overwhelms, so you do nothing because you just can’t manage it.

Those days.

Those days are hard and lonely. Those days can eat at your sense of self and keep you from moving forward. Those days are exhausting. Those days can make you want to sleep for a year.

Those days are the days when you have to take deep, soulful breaths. Those days are the days you need to remind yourself that it won’t feel this way forever. Those are the days you need to do something really good and loving for yourself. Those are the days when you must give yourself a break. Those days are OK.

Those days are hard and sometimes it seems there are way too many of them strung together. Those days can take you down. Those days are the times that you need to look for the littlest things that make you smile and are full of beauty and focus just there for awhile. Those days can be long and the hours can drag but the moments in the day that you allow some light in can make up for some, if not all, of the darkness.

Those days are a season to be endured but not a lifetime. Those days will transform into other days at some point, and once they do, you’ll be so grateful for the new sense of light and happiness that you feel. Those days can be endured.

On those days, please remember that you are not alone and that you are loved. On those days, know that so many others are experiencing similar struggles. On those days, take care of you.

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” – Maya Angelou