I accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee on my hand at work earlier this week. It wasn't super hot so there was no burning but the initial shock startled me and I had tears in my eyes. The tears were partly for the first sting of pain but what followed were feelings of self-pity. The thought crossed my mind that here I was at a nursing home where my job for eight hours is to care for people in need - providing them a bit of comfort when I can, as well as helping them with physical tasks they are helpless to do on their own.
I then thought about the three years I spent as a caregiver to my husband during his illness and the care I provided for my dearly beloved Mom. Then the only parenting all these years...
This widowhood gig sure has demanded a lot of care giving to others with not much back. To a great extent I am a natural caregiver which is why I'm working as a nursing assistant in the first place. But still. The incident with the spilled coffee made me realize how lacking the widowed can be from small daily doses of comfort and support that are generally taken for granted. I just wanted to be able to come home and hold out my hand and have it tenderly held and looked at by someone clucking in sympathy. Just a little TLC to refill the care giving bank that's already over-drafted.
It just keeps adding up over time. The emotional and physical isolation of living without a partner, the loneliness and the lack of daily support. It doesn't go away - it's a constant, dull ache. Every time I come home to an empty residence (still have trouble saying apartment). Every time I fall and skin my knee or am having a tough day and long for a hug. Life isn't meant to be lived this way - we all need comfort, love and support. The sad reality is that there are those of us out here living on our own without those necessary hugs and pats (verbal and physical) on the back. There is no solution. And that makes it even tougher. An empty home is an empty home. There is no one's shoulder to sniffle into to garner some sympathy. What else can I say?
Well, I guess there is something I will say. From my perspective of being six and a half years out, the absolutely worst part of widowhood is the loneliness and being on my own. Handling and climbing through the hell of my husband's death was a piece of cake compared to the ongoing struggle of having to continue to trudge through life on my lonesome.