Laughter into Sobs

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In my last blog I wrote about laughing.  Laughter somehow opens up my heart and mind, giving me a release from pent-up emotions.  For me these days, laughter is often followed by sobs.  I tamp down outward signs of my grief for my and others’ benefits, but that isn’t healthy.  When I let loose with one emotion I give my body permission to let go of others.  So it is all good.

Today is a teary day.  I look at photos of Rick and wish him back with me, happy and whole.

Gratitude and thanks-giving have been cropping up in my readings and conversations.  Recently I read this sentence in Katherine Woodward Thomas’ book Calling in ‘The One’,

“I even began saying prayers of thanks for everything . . . to see if I could alter my experience without altering my circumstances.”

What an amazing statement!

I often let my circumstances define me:  I am now a widow.  That leads to entrapment in all kinds of internal messages about how I must, ought and never-ever, followed by the inevitable poor me.  It is so easy to wallow in misery and not take responsibility for my life.

Reversing my view to gratitude, I was married to a fantastic man.  I have close friends and family.  New activities are underway, such as dragon boat paddling and mah jong.  My chronological experience has been good overall.  And yet, I know I became a better person than I ever could have on my own, simply because I was married to Rick.  Over twenty years ago our premarital counselor told me, “You lead without warmth,” yet with Rick I learned to be more extroverted and engaging.  Without him, I worry I am slipping back into self-centeredness, egocentricity and sloth – everything that is the antithesis of gratitude.

I need others.  Oh, how I hate making myself vulnerable enough to write that down!  The reality is that if I didn’t have others championing me on this new journey, I’d fail.  Thank God for them.

April Fool

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Today is April Fools’ Day.  It was practically a national holiday in our house when I was growing up.  My mother would short-sheet the beds, sew up pajamas, set out a newspaper from the year before, and so on.  I thought everyone made a big deal of the day, but now I understand it probably gave her the opportunity to be a bit passive-aggressive under the guise of humor.  We ended the tradition, my father and I, the year we both endured the tossing of cold water over the shower curtain and then decided to turn off the hot water when my mother showered.  She did not see the humor at all, and by the time she was through with us, neither did we!

My appreciation for humor has changed over the years.  Embarrassingly, I used to giggle at “dumb blonde” jokes until a not-dumb-at-all blonde friend told me how it hurt her to hear them.  I also found jokes about older people often funny as well – until I became one.  Now the most humorous tales are those of my real life.

I make a lot of to-do lists, shopping lists, packing lists.  Good planning does not always equate to good execution.  I often come home from the grocery store without exactly everything I need.  I either forget to write an item down or am so busy crossing items off my list that I don’t notice what’s leftover. (I never forget the chocolate).  So with a wry smile and chuckle, I make second trips to the grocery store from time-to-time.  Naturally it doesn’t happen when I am planning solo meals, but only when I am hosting company and have time constraints.

I have my marbles, so to speak, but I also have what I’ve read is called widow’s brain or widow fog.

Today I was laughing so hard I practically snorted through my nose – I know I was talking about something silly I had done but I don’t remember the specifics. (I choose not to remember enough to share it in this blog.)  My girlfriends and I were playing Mah Jongg, but our interest in the game receded as we began talking about our weeks.  Smiling, laughing and finding humor in life is something I could not imagine doing even just a few months ago.

Maybe I’ll be inspired to play an April Fools’ Day joke on someone after all!