I started to write My Widow’s Journey as part of my website, www.thealzheimerspouse.com, right after Sid died in 2015. It did not go well. I was emotionally broken and completely unable to write anything related to what I was experiencing.
What have I been doing for the last 5 years? Sleepwalking. Whereas many of you were able to put the past behind you and move on to new loves and marriages; to new experiences and travels; to enjoying life as it was meant to be lived, I was………not.
When Sid died, I went into a state of shock and fell into a sleepwalking coma. I got up every day. I walked. I talked. I socialized with friends. But I was dead inside. I felt nothing. Nothing mattered to me.
I made the decision to move out of the Independent Living Villa, where I had lived with Sid for 4 years, then another 2 years alone, after I placed him into a nursing home. My real estate agent showed me a lovely one floor, fully furnished condo for rent. Fine, I said. Fine. The furniture came with it, but I did not really SEE it. I made new friends in the condo’s development, but I did not really know them, nor did they know the real me. I socialized with them. I enjoyed our outings while I was experiencing them, but I did not actually FEEL anything.
I slept a LOT. If I had an engagement at 4 PM, I lay in bed until 2:30 pm, when I got myself up to get ready to go.
I signed up for a trial on Match.com. I was very lonely. I wasn’t looking for love or marriage. I was looking for a nice man with whom to share conversation, a meal, a theater show.
Although I didn’t feel it was a deal breaker to be paired up with someone of a different religion than me, I wrote that I preferred someone who shared my religion, which is Jewish. Match.com continually sent me profiles of Christians who wanted to convert their potential dates.
Politics are important to me in the sense that I feel that one’s political beliefs are a statement on their life philosophy. Match paired me up continually with men who were the complete opposite of my political stances.
They showed me profiles of men who whined and complained that women were all gold diggers only after their money.
They showed me profiles of men who posted laundry lists of what their ideal woman should possess………….She must be beautiful, always perfectly made up, THIN, athletic, healthy, and independently wealthy. I swear I am not making this up. I printed out one man’s outrageous list to show friends, and it was an entire page long.
I did not renew after my trial ran out.
I could not write. I could not FEEL. I could not actively participate in any groups. I couldn’t do ANYTHING. I simply existed.
In the midst of all of this nothingness, I suffered severe back pain. Sciatic nerve pain that took me to my knees. Therapy, injections, steroids………..nothing worked. The neurosurgeon said I was too fat for surgery, so I lived on pain pills.
My decision to undergo bariatric sleeve surgery is discussed at length in another section of this website, so I will not go into that here, except to say that I had the surgery in June, 2019.
A few weeks later, unrelated to the surgery, and something that was bound to happen sooner or later, my spine basically collapsed. I was in so much pain that I had no choice but to have major back surgery, agreed to by a different back surgeon than the one who had refused because of my weight.
For the 5 weeks between making the decision to have the surgery and the actual surgery date, I lived in my living room chair. I could not lie down in bed. I could barely walk. I could barely breathe. I sat, ate, and slept in that chair.
Then one night, I opened my eyes to find myself lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. Thus began a year-long fight to recover from what every specialist said should have been certain death. I had suffered massive blood clots in my lungs……….something called “saddle emboli”, apparently the worst kind you can have. I wasn’t supposed to survive. But I did.
It made me wonder……….why? I am absolutely convinced that if I was supposed to die, I would have seen Sid when I regained consciousness on the floor. He would have had his arms out calling to me to come with him. And I would have gone. Willingly. But he wasn’t there. For some unknown reason, he didn’t want me yet.
The last year has been spent trying to recover from this incident. It has been one setback after another, including a serious fall in my house that led to cellulitis, more hospital stays, and multiple oral and IV antibiotics.
I have struggled to recover, being a dutiful patient, doing everything and more than the doctors have prescribed, all the while wondering why I am bothering.
My life is empty without Sid. Sometimes the realization that he is gone forever, punches me in the gut so hard that I can feel myself lose breath over it.
So many people think that after 5 years, I should be “over it”. It took a long time, but I finally realized that I will never be “over it”. I am just trying as hard as I can to live the best life I can. For me, that means enjoying friends and outings when the opportunities become available (pre-pandemic, but that’s another story entirely).
So how did I finally end up writing again, and starting a new website, no less?
As our 50th wedding anniversary approached, 5 years after Sid’s death, I knew I had to write a tribute to Sid, to our love, to our life together. Not sure if I was emotionally able to do so, I sat down at the computer and started to write. Five years of pent up emotion welled up inside of me, and the words came forth in a torrent. When I finished, and read what I had written, a peace came over me that I had been seeking since I sat by Sid as he took his last breath. I felt that not only was it the best essay I had ever written, but that it perfectly expressed every emotion I had felt related to Sid for the last 50 years. I felt that I had given him the best tribute that it was possible for me to give, and I felt…………..at peace. The writing of that tribute somehow woke me from the paralyzing coma that had stilled my pen and life for 5 years. I felt ready to create again.
And so here we are. In this Widow’s Journey Section, I will share with you the emotions and experiences that I am having going forward. You know from my previous writings that everything I write will be from my heart and honest.
As always, I hope you will be able to relate to my experiences and emotions, and that my sharing of them will help you to heal your own widow wounds.