Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Begin to Imagine

Monday, January 8, 2018
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Begin to Imagine

“I can’t begin to imagine what your journey has been like…”  I’ve heard these words, in one version or another, uttered hundreds of times in the last nearly 10 years I’ve lived as a widow. This simple sentiment is loaded with words of empathy, sympathy, unknowing, and dismissal. At times, I found comfort in them, and at others, a deep sense of anger and resentment.  You see, the person speaking them is trying to connect with me, and while they intend to bring me comfort, oftentimes it brings a deep sense of sadness, loneliness and isolation, because truth is found in those words. No, you really can’t begin to imagine. How could you? Sometimes it’s still hard for me, and I’m living it.

I have learned to be grateful for those who acknowledge, who attempt to imagine, who take the time to contemplate, what it must be like to be on a journey of widowhood. It means they see me, see my struggle, and recognize that it is one. While I used to sometimes be angry that they didn’t know, I have learned to appreciate that they entertain the idea of not knowing, and that it is done with the best of intentions. They can’t know what it’s like to be me any more than I can know what it’s like to be them, because we are ALL on our own journey. Whether it’s longing for something we have not yet achieved, mourning for something we had and lost, waiting for someone to rescue us, desiring something we want and can’t have, having something we want to be rid of, we are all in a constant state of right now, looking back and looking forward. Life changes, the world goes round and round, and nothing is permanent. Things sometimes happen TO us, but we also have the power to change what happens from that point on.

The course of my life was forever changed the day Joe died. I’ve had to do things that I never imagined I would have to, being a solo mom, living as a widow, starting over countless times. I got knocked down, I got back up, again and again and again. I refuse to let it define me, even though it does. I am more than just a widow. I am a warrior. I take what life throws at me, I readjust, I go forward. I can’t begin to imagine where I will be in a year from now, because when I look back to a year ago, I never dreamt I’d be where I am right now, in this moment. I’m in a state of learning about myself, doing things I’ve pushed myself to do, getting outside my comfort zone, discovering things about me I didn’t know were even possible. “I can’t begin to imagine what your journey has been like” takes on a whole new meaning when you say it in your head to your own reflection in the mirror. I look at the person in front of me, and she is unrecognizable. There is hope and grief and sadness and honor in knowing I am forever changed, yet still me. When you struggle to know who you are, what comes next, how you can go on in a life you didn’t have planned for yourself, take a moment to begin to imagine… 



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