28 July 2010

This, That, Things, Stuff

I was sick last week, Peace Corps sick, seemingly never-ending stomach sick, call my mom and have her come over and take the kids to school 'cos I couldn't stand up sick, starting Wednesday night and not really ending until Sunday. It was total survival mode. Kids were dressed, fed, bathed, vaguely entertained, a freelance job was completed on schedule, and that was that. Five days of my life, vanished! Poof! Annoying.

But I'm well now and Maddie and Riley seem to have dodged the bullet. I think I ate something bad, actually. But who cares. It was boring and gross to actually be sick, and it's boring and gross to talk about it. So I'm stopping now.

Supposedly, I'm running a half marathon in October. I was training for a half marathon when John got diagnosed. Correction: I was OVERtraining for a half marathon when John got diagnosed. I'd managed to injure myself in the process and was totally focused on logging miles, doing speed training, and meeting a specific (quick!) goal for the finish. I'm about 12 weeks out from the half in October, so last week I started the Hal Higdon training program. Kinda. Sorta. I couldn't decide if I was novice or intermediate, and I'm still not sure how I'm going to do my longer weekend training runs since M&R can't really come with me. But I was ready to do the weekday stuff, which is all quite attainable during lunch hour workouts. Except when my schedule doesn't allow it. Like for the past two weeks. Between lunch meetings, being sick, all-day trainings, arriving late or leaving early and thus not taking a lunch, or other random interferences, I've barely worked out in over a week.

But! Despite that, tonight I ran an 8K after work, a race I signed up for a while ago to run with a college friend. Hot damn, that was one hilly course. I'm not a particularly good downhill runner; the pounding! The possibility of falling over (which I'm somehow prone to doing on downhills)! The infernal pounding, holy moly! And then the uphills, which are easier for me in terms of how my body handles them, but are nonetheless an assload of work. I earned my two free beers, served to me by an adorable boy who reminded me of John. It was a muggy-for-Oregon night, summery and glorious. Races make all the training (that training that I haven't been doing) worth it, the camaraderie and the food and the music and the drinks. Races are fun.

I'm still working on my liminal state, on many levels. I'm working on it through running, not timing myself, not caring when I finish, not checking the clock. I'm working on it by breathing, by stepping back, by reminding myself that this is the life I have, and that it's good. I'm pretty successful some of the time, less successful at other times.

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I miss people lately, certain people, people from my past, some distant past, some more recent. Not John so much. I find that lately, for some reason, it's hard for me to recall the intensity of my feelings for John, but that intense feelings I had for people I haven't seen since high school are very present. I've dreamed about people from grad school, recalled people from my teens that were not a part of my active memory for the past twenty years, longed for old boyfriends, felt the thrill of old crushes.

Maybe it's that my twenty year high school reunion looms on the horizon in August. I have not been to any of my reunions. I'm in touch with a few people from high school, and that's been enough for me, especially since I've found a few more through Facebook. I certainly would never have traveled many miles to be at my reunion, but my thinking had changed since moving back to Portland; it's just a dinner in town: why not go? I RSVP'd yes when I got the initial invite, but have yet to actually pay for my ticket.

I have a healthy, successful life. I look good for someone who graduated twenty years ago, if I do say so myself. I can talk to anyone, and I'm sure I'd enjoy reconnecting with people and seeing how we've all changed, for better or for worse. Here's the thing, though: I don't want to talk about being a widow. I don't want to have to explain, over and over, that my spouse died. I don't want the pitying looks, I don't want the I'm sorrys. I don't even want the sincere sympathy. I don't want the life that I have right now to be seen as less because of losing John, or have it seem like something is missing. I want my life to be seen as legitimate, as whole and complete, for what it is. Nothing is bringing John back, and I miss him. But that does not mean that my life has a void or that it is anything less than whole. I don't want to have to explain what happened and talk about cancer and how hard it was and what a gift the kids are and blah blah blah. But that's what you do at reunions: you talk about the past, you talk about the journey you took to get where you are now, and that is a compelling and fairly recent part of my journey, so there's no getting around it. I just don't think I have it in me.

20 comments:

Type (little) a said...

the blah blah blah is what wears me down to a nub, honestly. we all have a blah blah blah too, the one thing people want to talk about. i often omit large chunks of my life, just so i don't have to get into things. and i know for a fact i held onto a toxic friendship longer than i should have simply because she knew my story.

and i love running for all the reasons you said. :-)

Arwen said...

At my twenty year, I don't think anyone asked me once where my husband was (he had to work). I think they just assume you are divorced and don't ask so as not to hurt feelings.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

So sorry you were sick. I know that Peace Corps sick and I can totally empathize. Glad you are back on your feet and that your mom could help with the kiddos.

If anyone asks at your reunion about your status, do you think you could just say you are a single mom and change the subject? It might be enough to keep people from probing further.

You're doing great with all the running. I wish I could find something as motivating! ;-)

Andrea said...

I rarely comment but feel compelled to say something. I'm not really a "pro-reunion" kind of person. Whether someone goes or not - I don't really care. But, certainly don't not go because of the very real possibility that you will be going over and over the death of John and the coping with M&R. Instead, tell your story, as abbreviated as you wish it to be for whomever you are speaking with, and think of it as your own testimony. You may be giving that person strength through your story (as you do through your blog!) right then or down then line when they go through their own trials. It's emotionally exhausting, yes. But don't avoid the reunion just for that. I'm sure you won't regret it.

CV said...

I just had my twenty year and virtually nobody asked me if I had a partner, much less where s/he was.

I was actually a little surprised at how glossed-over all the conversations at the reunion seemed to be. I had been hoping for a deeper connection with people. But I think that was too much to expect from people I hadn't seen in decades.

I'd suggest you practice a few one-liners about being a single mom that segue into a conversation you do want to have. Like, "I was in Boston for a long time but moved back to Portland with my two kids for this great new job..." and go from there.

You don't owe it to anyone to focus on what they find interesting and you find blah blah blah.

Or, if someone does insist on asking about being a widow or has the I'm-sorries you can say, "How about you? What's the toughest thing you have had to deal with so I can pity you for a minute?" (with a laugh, of course)

Anonymous said...

I think everyone will have something they don't want to talk about... you'd be surprised how many people will be either divorced, married second time or still single (which, by some counts, is worse than having been married once)... I wouldn't worry about it, nobody will be asking because nobody will want to discuss their own status :)

Tiffany said...

Good luck with your half marathon. Can someone watch the kids for a couple of hours on the weekend while you get a run in? I also use my lunch hour to run.

Kristina said...

I agree with Tiffany, get a babysitter so you can do your long runs on the weekend. If you don't already have a cadre of babysitters, try sittercity.com.

Watercolor said...

So say when asked, "My husband, John, died of cancer a few years ago but the kids and I are doing great and loving being in Portland. We have this great bike we ride everywhere, you should see us! How are you? What have you been up to lately?" Gives them the story, but ends it upbeat and changes the subject. :)

Anonymous said...

Them: Are you married?
You: No, I'm not. How about you?

Turn it back to them asap. People really aren't interested in hearing about you, they really just want to talk about themselves. I feel the same way when I feel like I have to explain my divorce. Am I married? No I am not. Let's move on.

Anonymous said...

Seems a lot of us are delurking to put in a vote for the reunion. Could be an interesting opportunity to experience yourself as whole and as so much more than a widow. Surely you will talk about being a mom, but there is no need to talk about your status. Only some people will ask where your husband is, and you can just reply that you're single. Then isn't it likely that no one will ask WHY you are single? I guess a typical question could be how long have you been single (easy, next!) or the awkward and totally inappropriate, "When did you separate/get divorced?" (Answer: "I didn't" followed by the art of changing the subject?!).
If some people know that your husband died and bring it up to offer their sympathy, you can just say "Well, thank you for that, but this is a party let's talk about something else -- How have you been for the last twenty years?" and leave it at that -- or don't even say thanks if you aren't truthfully receiving the sympathy. Bottom line, you won't have to try to convince anyone that you are doing just fine, really, thanks, because that will be apparent by the fact that you are enjoying yourself and are great company and surely among the coolest people there. And BTW, I have no intention of going to my reunion!

OTRgirl said...

I'm sorry to hear you were sick! NO fun.

I hear you on the reunion/death overlap. For my 10th reunion I had to talk about my dead mother much of the evening. Many of my friends had met my parents and my Mom had the ability to get strangers to spill their guts within minutes of meeting her--so lots of people remembered her and asked specifically how she was doing. It was weird to have to answer, "She died two years ago."

Even though that line of conversation was annoying, I'm glad I went. It was more fun than I expected.

Anonymous said...

Twenty years out from being widowed, I understand (and remember experiencing) your reluctance to attend. Believe it or not, your reluctance is a part of your grieving process. Go to the reunion! You've gotten lots of great suggestions for walking that conversation line.

Anonymous said...

Also coming out of hiding to recommend the reunion. I just went to mine, really just to see what people looked like. I am still close with a group of friends, so I do know what those people are doing. I could have given a rat's a** about what people were doing with their lives, other than people that I had been close to 20 years ago. It was very loud, I just asked people how they were (since I was with my close friend who has not been married and she was a little sick of the "married? kids?" questions) most people just talked about themselves and a few asked about my parents. The conversations were all short and usually interrupted by someone new that one of us hadn't seen yet. Also, I do not drink in situations like this but it seemed that 90% of the people there were drunk or stoned, so I really think that you can say, "I was married in Boston and recently came back home" and no one will question it (or even remember it a few hours later). If you go and it sucks, you can always leave and blame it on a kid issue. Even though this seems negative - I LOVED it and am very happy that I went.
Have fun, if you go.

Jen said...

I went to my 25th college reunion when my loss still felt pretty fresh, and found it actually helpful to have so many people to tell my story to. But this weekend is my 30th high-school reunion, and I am imagining talking a little bit about my widowhood but moving quickly on to more interesting topics, like kids and "do you know any single men?" :)

carosgram said...

Actually when I went to my 20th I didn't talk much about me at all. But I did ask lots of questions of everyone else. I so enjoyed learning what they were doing these days. The little I did say was all recalling memories of things we did 'back then'. It was wonderful and not at all what I had expected. And I don't look at all like I did back then and everyone commented that I had gained a lot of weight and I still had a great time. Go to find out what has happened to them and you may be surprised at how easy it is. Thinking of you and wishing you the best

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if some already know your story. You've had some media coverage and people know your real name. You ran into a woman in a ... coffee shop? awhile back who randomly told you she reads your blog ... maybe people "know" your update, so to speak?

Yankee, Transferred said...

OK, here's me. I went to my (ahem) 40th reunion last summer and got into detailed conversations with some, and totally surface conversations with others. GO! You'll have fun! And I feel sure you won't be forced into any conversations you'd rather avoid.
Hugs.

Anonymous said...

My friend just went to his 20th although he hesitated because he didn't want to talk about how he was struggling with his career and relationship. Said it was nice because people just reminisced and actually regressed a bit. Not regression as in major debauchary, just slipping into teen speak, funny old mannerisms, etc.

stacey said...

Snick...
This is a little off topic but it's been in my head for a couple of months now, maybe it's time to change the masthead? You and the children will always mourn for John but it's time to break shiva, time for Mothering and Moving on! It seems simple but significant. Put it out there, let someone make a new one for you. Cleanse. It might help you find a new beginning for your blogging and comforting statement for your new life.
With love!!
stacey