Looked into attending a lecture/appearance by Joyce Carol Oates at the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago next Thursday but it is booked. She will be speaking about her latest memoir dealing with her grief after the death of her husband. I know this book has been in the recent news. I read a little about it and her reasons for publishing it, in part, she says to educate the public on grief.
My own feelings are mixed about purchasing the book. It is another one dealing with that "first year" time frame. Been there, done that. Seems like most grief books cover the first year and I am so past that now, yet still daily affected by the death of my husband. Why are there no books out there covering the grief years for those of us longer-term widows? Why is widowhood looked at constantly from that single year period? For me at least, the first year was such a blur it was like it didn't even exist anyway.
Have just finished the classic Edith Wharton novel, "The House of Mirth." Why I even read this I don't know except that it is a classic. Surely, a book about the social silliness of the New York upper class at the turn of the century doesn't have a lot of meaning today. Or maybe it does - I'll have to consider that.
But the story is about a society girl tumbling into poverty. One section at the end, really caught my eye. Lily has just bumped into a poor young women she helped with medical care when she still was wealthy. Here are her comments on that woman, Nettie:
"The poor little working-girl who had found strength to gather up the fragments of her life, and build herself a shelter with them, seemed to Lily to have reached the central truth of existence. It was a meagre enough life, on the grim edge of poverty, with scant margin for possibilities of sickness or mischance, but it had the frail audacious permanence of a bird's nest built on the edge of a cliff - a mere wisp of leaves and straw, yet so put together that the lives entrusted to it may hang safely over the abyss.
Yes - it had taken two to build the nest; the man's faith as well as the woman's courage. Lily remembered Nettie's words: "I knew he knew about me." (her past with another man). Her husband's faith in her had made her renewal possible - it is so easy for a woman to become what the man she loves believes her to be!"
There again is what I have strongly come to believe. It is easier with a partner, it is easier when you're happily married, two are better than one.
I am sinking under the tiredness of life on my own. Now that my oldest is graduating, in the end, should I remarry or live with someone again, I will still say that I raised the boys on my own - on my own.
I don't know how to act or think any more. Yes, I am working and starting to socialize more. But the women in my knit club seem so remote to me. Two are widowed but much older than I, with grown children. The others are all married and as they share and talk about the details of their lives, husbands doing the taxes, going on cruises, dealing with their houses (I'm the only apartment dweller out the group of 50), I just can't relate and feel left out - as I usually do.
I am not sure at this point how to even act in a romantic relationship and what is realistic for me to expect from a partner. I only know that I am feeling unfulfilled in certain ways with Sam who lives 250 miles away. Do we even have a relationship? He expects me to drive out to be him with on weekends and can't come to see me because of his retail management job not granting him two days off in a row. But I'm tired of this and don't feel emotionally supported. I'm supposed to be content with this arrangement for the next year while waiting for my younger son to finish high school? What are we anyway? He still is gun shy about remarriage. I don't want to be in a relationship that I can't even define and exists at a standstill because of distance and lack of contact.
My job is so boring and also frustrating, after work today, I picked up the summer community college course directory to sign up for the Library Assistant Program which starts at the end of May. I have to do something, anything to move myself into some sort of professional environment.
I feel in limbo and at odds with life and my feelings right now. I don't want this life anymore. Somehow I have to muster up the strength to bring change to my situation. But as Lily reflects, it is difficult when one doesn't feel there is someone on your side supporting and even holding you up at times. Lily in the end fails and can't do it on her own. Why aren't there any books out there relating this life and the trials affecting poor, tired, only-parent widows about ready to fall off the cliff because their nests are blowing away...