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.