Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Where are they?

So tonight I had dinner with widows and widowers I met at Gilda's Club. I am grateful I met them and have them to relate to, to laugh with, to cry with, and to share thoughts, dreams, experiences with. We are, as many sadly joke, 'the club no one wants to be a member of'. Despite the fact I have them in my life I still long to know more. More young spouses who lost their loved ones, or single widowed women with babies - I've seen online that women widowed while pregnant are out there, but they are states and countries apart. Having a child is the most instantly rewarding relationship I think one could have - and yet the beauty and happiness makes the loneliness and longing for your other half that much more excruciating. When you lose someone you love, every moment following is a "first". The seasons change and you're alone. A new President is sworn in and you're alone. holidays come, mail comes for them, phone calls come, unknowing emails float in and estate sale vultures send postcards. And those "firsts" are never-ending. And now with a child, those firsts are beautiful and heart-wrenching. They should be here to witness it. All of it. I do believe Alan is watching closely, always by my side, but I want to touch him. And him to touch our girl. Our creation. I am so truly happy that few are in my shoes, but just as AA, NA, OA or 9/11 groups exist, the new foundation you must build to survive is facilitated by the support from others who are also living through the tragedy. And yet in NYC, not much exists for YOUNG widowed spouses...

An excerpt from last Fall: I cannot believe in a city of this magnitude it is as hard as it is to find others, meet others who have endured similar losses. And by that I mean young spouses who have lost their partners to cancer. Surely I am not alone. I saw a few young people at MSK that were there with their partners. And I am sadly sure that some of them face a similar predicament – if not now, soon they will. Because that is what makes it different for those who battle a life threatening illness. You fear even when you deny it or defy it that sooner or later it’s going to get you. Maybe not. .. That’s the hope, the dream and source of strength. There is and always was hope. But when you’re in a cancer hospital surrounded by terminal illness you know the fight is worth it but you also are acutely aware of the odds. And you share corridors and rooms and elevators and doctors with others who are similarly affected. Teary family members, comforting each other in the halls, the pediatric patients you see so tired in such new lives, compassionate yet removed doctors, nurses who must feel it’s groundhog day, people who in passing say they’ll pray for you - everywhere you look it’s almost a mirror reflection. Either it’s you now, or will be soon. There are moments when you get lucky and things seem to be on the upswing. But the fear you keep at bay is haunting. That is the difference. Yes a heart attack or the flu or a fluky illness is no less unfair, cruel and devastating. But I believe that the suffering that one feels when enduring a serious illness or an illness of a loved one is a torturous journey – where because of your awareness, every day you celebrate what you have - and mourn what you have to lose. And it is the mourning, the inescapable end that looms in the immeasurable distance that makes this experience different. You are witnessing and enduring the end of a life that is yours and someone else’s. And you have no control. And your hopes diminish and fears turn to reality, and you are aware, somewhat, of what the outcome ultimately will be. It is unbearable.

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