March 20, 2015

A Whole Lot of Pointless Nothing

Scoot along if you want to be entertained and go read another blog. My widow’s life continues. So entertainment can’t be found here unless you have a vicarious streak. The title to this post should be a big clue!

Confession: I’m not inspired to blog. I’m not inspired to do much of anything, quite frankly. Life – taken as a whole - is no longer joyful. It seems rather pointless now that Jim is gone. The three-month anniversary of his death will arrive next week. Holidays, such as Easter next month, are no longer celebrated. They are merely another day on the calendar and spent alone. I manage to drag myself out of bed each morning and attempt to participate in life.  Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes not. I know that I have a lot of blessings, and I count them. But despair has a firm on my heart, regardless. I miss Jim terribly.

I confirmed this morning that I finally have dental insurance through Jim’s former employer. I was supposed to have it automatically for 2015 since I had coverage last year.  But things got messed up once Jim died. It took 2½ months for the company to complete their bureaucratic paperwork, and they were prodded by my constant phone calls. It’s a good thing I have medical insurance through my former employer because I would have been in a total pickle! This is just one of countless frustrations that face a new widow. I have concluded that 99+ percent of people just don’t give a rip. They merrily go through their lives and don’t give one moment’s thought about showing kindness to someone who is hurting.

The 401(k) retirement money finally got transferred safely from Charles Schwab to a Rollover IRA at Vanguard earlier this week. It was another widow’s task that took 2½ months and monumental efforts on my part. If you can possibly avoid it, do not use Schwab for any investments! Based on my experience, they are incompetent and, quite frankly, could care less about you or your hard-earned money.

Moving right along, this week I also got the Social Security lump sum death benefits for a surviving spouse. It was a whopping $255 (and taxable). It is a laughable amount that hasn’t changed since 1954. Two trips to the dreaded local Social Security office were required to get this done. A brief visit there makes it abundantly clear why this country is going down the tubes, both politically and socially. Enough said.

A couple of weeks ago, I volunteered for a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital telethon at a local radio station. I answered the phones and took donation information. It was quite enjoyable and heartwarming. It showed me that there are some nice folks out there in the world! I can’t wait to volunteer again next year.

Earlier this week, I consulted a doctor about my right eye’s amblyopia condition. It developed last year when I experienced the prolapsed gland and subsequently had eye surgery. I’ve been seeing double for about a year now.  The condition is too severe for prism lenses and can only be corrected by amblyopia surgery. I had such surgery on this eye about 25 years ago, and everything was fine until the disastrous year of 2014. I’m being referred on to a surgeon for consultation in May. I don’t know if I can have the surgery again, and I am unsure about the implications for managing things in my solitary life. Prayers would be appreciated.

My right foot has been hurting me for several weeks, and I frequently hobble because of the pain. (I discovered in December that I have painful bone spurs in my right knee that cannot be fixed. So the foot problem only compounds things.) I will see an orthopedic doctor next week. If Google searches can be trusted, I suspect that I have a stress fracture. I hope not. More prayers, please! I am determined to go on my April and May photography trips even if I am leaning on a hiking stick.

Now that the weather is improving, I will make a concerted effort to get out and do some photography. (Would believe that the daffodils have been blooming for the past two weeks and I haven’t taken the first photo of them?) I’ve very busy been selling and buying equipment. I have also been learning how to use a new camera and get the controls set up according to my shooting preferences. You can look forward to a later blog post about the adjusted photography direction that I am taking.

A total of six small group photography tours are on my schedule for this year. One dropped off the list because there weren’t enough people signed up. But I recently added an autumn trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I will be visiting that park (practically in my back yard – just an hour away) in April, October, and December. The Nashville excursion will be in July. Western Wyoming trips will be in May and September/October. And, I am determined that bad eyesight and limping legs are not going to deter me.

I recently decided to join a local Methodist church.  Church members have been gracious and welcoming. It will take a while to get plugged in to the various programs that they offer, including volunteer work.

Angel continues to keep me company and bestow me with devotion. Her bubbly personality is a delight. She completed her obedience class and now knows many basic commands. I will continue to work with her on training, and we are both looking forward to neighborhood walks during pretty spring weather.

I am attending two grief support groups at this time.  It has been comforting to be able to talk with others who are walking the same path and get to know them. Local friends who I knew before Jim’s cancer have kept their distance and not provided the emotional support that I need. I have always heard that your address book changes significantly when you become a widow, and I found that mine started to change as soon as Jim started battling cancer about two years ago. When the chips are down and you are no longer fun, most friends disappear. It’s a hard reality. It is going to take a long time to rebuild my life and establish new friendships.

Many long distance friends continue to bless me with frequent communications. You know who you are! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. You help raise me up above despair and isolation, and also demonstrate God’s grace in the process.

If you have read this post to the very end, then I want to leave you with some parting thoughts.  God wants us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is a difficult thing to do when one’s spirit is broken. But I know that I now possess a level of understanding about grief that I never knew before. My own grief will make me a better person, and I am grateful for the newfound knowledge.

I also know that I need to forgive those who shun me during my time of sorrow. They simply do not understand, and they do not have the capability at this point in their lives to attempt understanding. Perhaps they never will, and it will be their loss. I haven’t forgiven them yet, but I’m working on it.

My life is on fire. And I know that it takes a special kind of person to run toward the flames to try to help save someone like me. There aren’t many that are brave enough. Bravery seems to be scarce in our modern society. It is safer to stay in one’s comfortable spot and not risk running toward flames. Ah, that strategy works well for a while - until it’s your life that is on fire.

I had a terrible nightmare last night. It was one of the worst that I have ever had, so vivid and real. I was on an airplane and it crashed into a building right after takeoff. The searing pain, darkness, and fire started to engulf me. I was too shocked to scream. It was at that very moment that Angel was at the side of my bed, frantically trying to wake me up. It was something that she had never done before. How could she possibly know? It will remain as one of life’s many mysteries. She ran toward the flames. And she licked my tears.


  1. awww. sweet angel. :) i do believe you are fighting to find a new way. not something you wanted to do, but you are pushing forward with new circumstances, a few new people, and bless you, some same interests (travel and photography). i do hope your health issues can be managed!

  2. I continue to admire you so very much Donna, and still wish I lived closer and could be a useful friend! I'm so sorry about your health issues and pray that all will be resolved, or at least made easier to bear, and without major surgery. Yes, you must take your photography trips, they will be enjoyable and Jim would want you to participate.

    Like you, I'm ready for Spring, even though I don't have a sweet little Angel to take me 'walkies' as we say in England! My daffodils are pretty despite the up and down temps., and today I see the first buds on the tulips I planted in the Fall. I had to plant them in large pots placed up on a bench because it's painful bending with this back/hip problem! I've put off major surgery because we have several trips planned this year, but realize I may have to do it next year. Meanwhile a, injection and bi-weekly PT are helping somewhat, thankfully. With all that's happening in the world now going overseas is not as much fun anyway, so after 2015 we will probably stay closer to home.

    Glad you have found a church with nice people - I'm sure you will make new friends who will be kind and helpful. Sorry you had such an unnerving nightmare and pray they don't return. Have you ever tried the all-natural Dr. Bach's Rescue Remedy - it's very good for calming and helping you sleep better - I use the drops and now you can get it in other forms too.

    Had to get passport photos done today (for my UK passport - I'm a dual citizen) to renew my due to expire one. I keep it going even though I use just my US one for travel - but never know, circumstances may have me moving back to England some day, doubtful but one never knows!! Glad you will be traveling too - we really miss your beautiful photos and I look forward to hearing more about your new camera. Did you get a mirror-less one Donna?

    Have a pleasant weekend - glad Angel is learning her manners!
    Best from Bob -
    Hugs - Mary XX

  3. Donna, you continue to be in my daily prayers. Having never walked in your shoes, losing a spouse, I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through. Like Theresa, I hope your health problems won't keep you from the trips you're looking forward to. I'm very glad that you joined the church, and are attending grief groups.

    My heart goes out to you, and I send much love.

  4. Grief is the most difficult work we ever do. Your heart may be broken, yet your spirit is not. Jim would be very proud of your tenacity in getting a thing done. May seems a long way off for an appointment with a specialist...the joys of our new health system at work, I'm sure. The story you told about Angel waking you from that dream...sniff. She really is a godsend. Keeping you in my prayers...we could hobble along together if we lived closer. Love and comfort to you...

  5. I always welcome a post from you, Donna, no matter the subject. You are much on my heart and in my prayers as you walk this difficult journey. As Vee says, Jim would be proud of you - you're forging ahead in spite of paralyzing grief and loneliness. I'm so glad that you have your own Angel - how sweet of her to wake you and lick your tears.

    I'll pray, too, for your health issues that would compound the loneliness you feel. Going on the photography trips is something to anticipate. I'm curious about your photography direction, too and look forward to more details.

    Spring is in full bloom here - daffodils and tulips. I went to Butchart Gardens this week and enjoyed all the lovely blooms there. I haven't been able to get out into the garden yet, and there is a lot of work to do - weeding (why do weeds keep growing in the winter?) and moving a few things around, digging in some manure we spread last fall and so on.

    Today I'm baking bread and I so wish that I lived close enough to drop off a loaf at your home.


  6. Donna,
    My thoughts, my affection, my hug and my prayers for you.

  7. Angel looks so sweet. She's obviously very tuned in to you also if she sensed your distress in your dream.
    I wish I had some magic words that could make things easier for you but since I don't I'll send a hug and special thoughts

  8. Donna, I am so sorry for your loss. You had a wonderful husband to share life with and I am glad you found each other and loved each other. Having such a close and loving relationship must make it harder when your beloved is no longer with you, and I am so sorry. I pray that you will once again, someday, enjoy life and feel peace and purpose. May God bless you.

  9. Of course you are sad--three months out on the journey is merely a blink of the eye. The whole first year is a foggy, mist-ladened, just trying to get through each day sort of thing. It IS good for you to write about all the feelings though--so please keep on.

  10. Before I forget I want to touch on how Angel could know. They actually encourage those that have been in combat over seas to get a dog because when those people have the haunting nightmares the dogs wake them up. Dogs just know. So you are blessed and not to mention smart for getting your little Angel.
    As I read this I of course felt your pain, but as I read along I also saw your hope. You may not have seen it even as you wrote, but I did. You are stronger than you think. You are doing all the right things to help but as you know it's all going to take time, so don't give up the trying. You are going to mourn at your own pace. You are loved by so many, I just wish those many lived closer to you.
    Don't quit blogging, even if it's just to vent a little. We can take it.
    Love you friend.

  11. Dear Donna ~ You are being a light to others through this grieving journey. God is using you to help others, by your being real with your thoughts and feelings.

    You're still in the raw stages of grief. It does get easier. We will always grieve our loss, but the grief won't always consume us.

    It's been two years and three months for me, and just yesterday I broke down and had a good cry. It was my 66th bday and I was really missing my dear husband. I am so thankful for our 43 years together and look forward to our reunion, whenever that will be.

    Just keep your heart focused on Jesus, and give your burdens to Him. He is our strength when we are weak, He bottles up our tears.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  12. I'm always very glad to see a new post from you to. I like to hear that you are involved in your community and still enjoying your precious Angel. I'm very sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in my prayers my friend. Sweet hugs, Diane

  13. Donna, I'm also glad to see a post from you, no matter what the content. I also agree with Kim and I heard your strength and hope as well. You are getting out and being with people which is very good at this time...especially church and support groups. I hope your health improves and you are able to go on all your photo trips! And Angel? The story brought tears to my eyes. She loves you so very much. What a wonderful blessing she is for you.
    I wish I could help in some way. I keep you in my daily prayers and I know God will see you through this! Sending big hugs..

  14. Oh Donna, I do wish better things for you. Grief can be crippling there is no doubt. I think you have taken many of the right steps to keep yourself functioning. Getting whole again will take a long time. I wish I was closer.

  15. I am glad that I stayed with you to the end, for I hear a glimmer of hope in your voice. As terribly, terribly hard as everything is, you are somehow finding the strength to keep on and you are daring to peek into the future. I continue to pray for you often. Hard days, dark days, lonely days...they continue, and so must our prayers for you.

    Your story about Angel's comfort is so precious. I do believe that dogs are sensitive to our emotions and I think that she sensed the distress you were feeling in your dream. You were so wise to bring this little companion into your life!

  16. Oh Donna...What a tough time! Isn't that a hoot the SS pays $255, almost a slap in the face, that was a couple weeks salary in the 50's. I donate to St Judes, I think it is a great hospital and they do so many wonderful deeds, it is one of the few big institutions that I donate to as I trust them, a great choice to volunteer for. So glad you are going on some photography trips, it will break up your day and divert your attention... if only for a few hours. I am stunned to hear that you have been shunned by old friends, that is hard to understand, I will be asking my Mom if it happened when my Dad passed, so sad. Sorry you are throwing some health problems into the mix....Why not...right...Not fair. I Wished all of us bloggers lived in the same town, we are all here for you 24/7 and love that you are telling it like it is.....If you came across any other way I wouldn't believe you any wayl! So glad you have your precious Angel, how smart of you to get her in your time of need. I get that blogging or anything does not interest you....But, keep posting because do care about you and there is no need to sugar coat anything for us!

    Sending a big hug from Orlando!


  17. Dear Donna
    My thoughts are with you in hopes that life will get better. You have your sweet Angel for comfort and your new church family will likely be helpful with support.

  18. I'm so glad you have Angle to comfort you when you needed it most. I know this has to be a very difficult struggle for you. I hope better days come to you as the weather warms up and you are able to go on adventures. When my dad died, it was over 2 months before the death certificates came (because of autopsy), so no business could be completed till after those came in.

  19. You have a lot going on, dear friend. I'm glad some of the issues are being settled - the insurance and other business is good to get off your 'front burner'! I continue to pray for you and I'm so glad Angel is there running toward the flames and you!

  20. Like a man, I don't know what to say, and I wish I could just help fix things for you. But I do send prayers your way, and hope you find your way onward. As others have said, it looks like you are doing so, even if it's terribly hard.

  21. I know business items checked off your list is an accomplishment. I admire that you are tackling new camera equipment and have so many adventures planned. Keep keeping on as are my thoughts and prayers for you.

  22. I am sorry to hear about how your old friends are acting...or more how they are not acting. I am glad you have found a mom is active with her church and has found the friends there to be there for her. I hope you will make some good friends there. Little Angel's face at the beginning of your post is such a sweet greeting...she is a little sweetheart. I am so glad she was there to comfort you when you had that awful dream...xoxo

  23. Hey Pumpkin!
    SO glad you joined the church...I worry all the time about you being alone! Maybe someone there will be intelligent enough to see the "flames"!! I know I would! (((HUG)))
    The dream simply means that everytime you try to "get off the ground" there's something there blocking your way... Don't worry! God's going to lift you up and you WILL spread your wings sweet lady! SO glad Angel was there for you....
    The eye, the foot....all of it won't keep you down! You're a fighter....and you are Loved!

  24. What a intuitive little dog! I had a friend whose dog would nudge and nudge her and it would not stop and always preceeded her having a epeleptic fit,she soon learnt to "listen" to her dogs Nudges! Amazing!
    And you have been so busy! i AM amazed and in awe of your bravery to do these things in addition to daily tasks that are all yours to do too! xx

  25. Hi Donna...I'm still trying to get caught up on my blog reading. It sounds like you are trying to keep busy and that's a good thing. I think of you often and pray for you as well. You are definitely fighting your way through the grief, which is a good thing. I sure hope you get some better news about your eye condition and the doctors will know just what to do. And that sweet Angel of yours...well, she must be one little incredible little dog. How blessed you are to have her at your side. Stay strong,, hugs & prayers coming your way :)

  26. Hi Donna,
    I sent you a private message to find out how you are doing and forgot all about your blog. I so wish I lived close to get to know you and to see in person your beautiful photography. Since I joined the forum the keeping room I have met so many wonderful ladies. You are among them. I think of you often and hope you get through this sad and lonely time in your life. You needed that sweet Angel and she came to you at the right time. You take care and let me know if there is ever anything I could do for you. You take care sweet lady.

  27. I can't even imagine the pain and lonliness you are going through. You are in my thoughts and prayers dear one.


Marty, here! Donna loves comments, and I faithfully pass them on to her. Thank you so much for visiting!