"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe

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International Widows Day: My Part in Raising Awareness

I follow Modern Widows Club on Facebook and learn about challenges and opportunities for widows around the world. This is not a club I ever knew existed pre-widow life, but I am glad that it exists. It is a place people on the widowed life journey can go when they seek information, reassurance, solace, and a network of people who walk a similar walk on this road through life.

I certainly didn’t know there was a Widow Awareness Day. Apparently, it is today. June 23. I bet a lot of people don’t know that either. Truly, I don’t need a day set aside. Believe me, I’m well aware of widowhood and all its intricacies. However, some people DO need a day (plus more) set aside. They are living in societies where widowhood is treated like a disease, like it is something that they brought upon themselves and should be punished for or cast out.

The times we live in are interesting. What the hell is wrong with people? I guess that is one of the repeating questions of my life.

The word widow is another label humans insist on using to define people. Oh, I know I am one. But I am also a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend. My parents are both dead; I am still their child. My children are grown and away from home. I am still their mother. Some of my dearest friends left this world too soon. They are still with me in spirit. And, of course, my husband is gone. He left and I became a widow instantly. But I did not stop remembering I was his wife. How we define the words or labels given to us can surely vary.

These labels can be stripped away, collaged over, refashioned and reworked. I am a human. A human with many names: Agnes, mom, sister,  writer, artist, cook, friend, teacher, mentor, encourager, grandmother in training, mother-in-law, advocate, traveler, believer…

Does a loss change my label? Really? Did I stop becoming a daughter when my parents died? Did I stop being a wife when my husband died? Words, as much as I love them, have a way of limiting us if we allow it. There are parts of me I would say that are not dead, but waiting, like quiet places of sanctuary, around the bend. The daughter room, where I hear my daddy playing organ music as I dance and jump on the oak stained floors in our front room. Where Mama’s voice calmed and encouraged me through many days– her words, “Be good to yourself” reverberating even now. The best friends room–where Nancy is waiting with a cigarette to share and we will sit and laugh and remember. Waydean waits too–for long dinner dates and an even longer follow up convo in a parking lot. We never got through talking. Ever. Ami–there’s a new project to make or a book we must read.

And Sam. I think the rooms where he is are open and sweeping. There are fish biting and berries to pick and hands to hold. And things only we know to remember.

So, to the world, those parts of who I was are dead. But they are not. They are very much alive in the remembering, recalling, and reliving. Loss adds, not subtracts. It adds a depth that does not leave, a well that I can reach into and pull out a moment at will. I have insights now I did not have pre-loss. Rather than feel sorry for widows, let’s respect their place of insight. We have traveled to depths and heights many have not. But, at the end of the day, I am more than a widow. I am a woman who is walking, like the rest of us, toward a final destination. I do not require special treatment. There is no need to be afraid of me. We are not nearly as complicated as we sometimes seem. We are humans who will die. We begin dying the minute we are born, changing and re-changing into something new based on our experiences and our relationships and our learning.

One day I was a child. The next, an orphan. One day a bride, wife, lover. The next, a widow. Putting a word on it does not change the fact. The rooms that make me “me” are still within me. They have not died. Sometimes they wait. Sometimes there are no labels on the next door yet. Or maybe there are. Maybe the labels  say  choice, possibility, future, strength, wisdom, opportunity.

As a writer who knows the recursive nature of the work, so it is with living. We take who we are, honor all that is inside us, and use it to remind us, to resurrect us, to reinvent us into the people we are today.

We have not lost as much as we shall gain: a wisdom that is won through the depths of despair, darkness, and deep pain. It is not necessary to expound or explain all the intricacies of the reality of living without one we have lost. But I know I understand people much better now. Widows share an  understanding  that people who have not experienced it cannot fully grasp.

I know because I did not know.

On this International Widows Day, I’ve decided to pray for widows and orphans.To look for ways to change the lives of widows who need help in finding their voices. To post this piece of writing as a witness to the fact that as a human, I have many names. Widow is only one.

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Sunday’s Song: 10 %

Like so many, I’ve read the stories about the Duggers. I’m sad for the victims, for their loss of privacy, for their life changing pain.

But I’m also sorry for those of us who continue to place people on pedestals.

We. Are. Sinners.

I am not excusing any one. Not. One.

I am stating a truth. 

I am beyond tired of people insisting on elevating humans to godly status.

Every single one of us either:

Has done  something

Will do something

Or is in the middle  of  something 

that  we do NOT want known.

Please. Please. Stop putting people in places we do not deserve.

We know 10% about folks. If that.

Pray for yourself. Pray for others.

But please, please stop being  surprised when someone does not live up to your expectation of holy and  good.

We are fortunate if we can  be that 10% of the time. 

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Bye, Dave.

I will miss you, David Letterman. I watched a vintage clip from your year #3 show on YouTube last night–funny how we can be taken right back to a place in time from something like that.

I’m just an ordinary person you’ll likely never meet, but you gave me (and some of my dearest friends) lots of laughter through many years. 33 of them. That’s a bunch.

You never got old. You stayed funny, you kept talented people around you, and you embodied a respectable rebellion that came in handy through the years. 

Thank you for showing us how to laugh at the ordinary. How to question. How to dig in our heels and dare anyone to abuse us. How to watch, marveling at the talent our minds afford us.  How to appreciate raw talent, new music, and old masters.

Plus, you liked dogs. So much to love.

Enjoy your next days,

One of your appreciative “Kids”

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Sunday’s Song: Decisions

A busy few art filled days have passed now, and it looks like the next few will be spent organizing and settling in to work on new projects. 

I’m really glad Sara and I decided to follow our art calling and participate in various shows and festivals throughout the past year. That choice brought us many opportunities and we have met many interesting  people along  the way. 

My teaching days are over for the summer, and I’m at a blessed, slow pace state right now: no deadlines, no rushing.

My creative side is calling again and I’ve decided to answer. I am taking a hand building clay class–not to become a potter or anything close–but to participate in something challenging to me. I know the process will lead to new ideas, new pieces that I might not have thought of otherwise.

I’ve decided to create spaces for art throughout the day. It’s my work now, and I’m going to treat it as such. The 2015 Index  Card  A Day project is gearing up to start June 1. If you are interested in being part of a creative and supportive online art community, you might choose to check out their site (on Facebook).I’ve decided to submit my attempts–good /bad/in-between. These are just moments in time. It’s ok if they’re not all fabulous!

There comes a point when you realize some things about life. You have power to choose. There is such power in our choices. 

This past few days, some  interesting things happened to me. 

I held a blue eyed baby I’d just met who slept in my arms as a crowd of passers by enjoyed an outdoor  festival. 

I listened as a displaced gentleman recited poetry to me, even though he was sick and far from home.

I pressed clay into random shapes, that though imperfect, did not exist before I touched them.

Everything we choose connects us to something else. We have so much possibility before us. Choose your joy.


Friday’s Five: Moms

Mother’s Day weekend is upon us. 

I lived a whole lot of years before I realized that all moms are not created equal. Somehow, I landed in the right line and was blessed to have one of those “good ones”–that in itself could count as my gratitude list: having a terrific mom.

But, in the spirit of “Friday’s Five, I’ll list   a few connected blessings of motherhood:

Top on my list–Samuel and Sara. They are the reasons I get to call myself a mom. I’m honored to celebrate Mother’s Day every day. They are the gift.

Unconditional love–once you receive it, you realize it’s imperative to share it.

Mama claws–not evident until someone or something threatens the peace of your child. They will come out without warning.

Prayers–a new level of holiness is available when you become a mama. If you have to ask, you’re not a mom yet.

The next level–grandmotherhood. All I can say about that is I’m ready to hold you, Sofia Grace. 

Regardless of our circumstances, a mama got us here. Whether you are one, miss one, love one, or hope to be one, Happy Mother’s  Day.


Friday’s Five: Moments of Being

I am posting early today, before the day gets away from me. Days get away from me lately. I can’t always do all I hope to do…but isn’t there a grace in that? Isn’t it good to have something else on the horizon? I say yes.

Moments, lately. That’s what I’m grateful for today. 

Sitting in those wonderful massage chairs at a local nail salon with my daughter. I have bright blue toenails for spring. Her fingernails shimmer pink. We were not rushed. We took part in the ritual of self care. 

Late night “in labor” texts from my dear friend Autumn. She’s a mommy again and I got to hold both of her sweet children yesterday. Born fourteen months apart, she’s going to be caught up in a blissful blur of baby busy for a few years. It sure was nice to sit beside her on her bed and hold her newest arrival. Marveling at his tiny fingers. A head full of black hair. He slept peacefully in my arms as I thought of future grandchildren I may be blessed to hold. 

My college students. I love them. I sat beside several of them last night, editing their papers and encouraging their progress. We’ve built another supportive in-class community during those Thursday night sessions. I’m always thankful for the moment   I realize  it has come to pass once again: we care about one another’s efforts. It is a beautiful thing that no test can measure.

A weekly hour apart from the world. I get to spend an hour in prayer at my church’s adoration chapel every Wednesday. There is nothing that matches the peace and understanding that comes from that hour apart with God. It’s like re-meeting an old friend every time. I highly recommend personal, dedicated prayer time, regardless of your religion. You might be surprised how your time multiplies when you make time for what matters.

The cardboard sign the guy had trailing from his backpack at the corner of Richmond this week. A black sharpie scrawl proclaimed YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Those three unexpected words stayed with me. I hope  they stay with you, too.

Here’s to many good moments of being for you all. Blessings…

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Friday’s Five

Runaway Bunny board book ✅

silver ballerina flats with pink rosettes, size 0-3 months ✅

ruffled infant pants ✅

onesies ✅

baby bed browsing for my house ✅

Target’s baby aisle was my happy place tonight. 

Tonight was the “reveal” party…my first grandchild will be a little girl.


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