Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Widow--the Illusion of Being Prepared
We are just home from Paris. It was my birthday celebration and so I am reading everything about Paris while the images and addresses are familiar. It makes the reading so much more fun to read after rather than before.
Tonight’s book is “Paris, A Love Story” by Kati Marton—journalist and political correspondent. Her first marriage was to Peter Jennings and then, later, the great love in her life—a 17 year marriage to Richard Holbrooke. Paris was an important part of both marriages but it was Paris that was at the center of her romance with Holbrooke and crucially with her transition through grief after his death and into the next phase of her life.
I had picked up this book a few years ago but with some sense of voodoo I was afraid to read it when John was so sick. Magical thinking? Denial? I didn’t want to know or think about death and grief and widowhood.
Today I wonder if it’s the opposite—I read as inoculation, mental preparedness?
Don’t I know better? Nothing can prepare you. I know this from watching my mother’s grief and watching friends and yet, and yet. Maybe it’s kind of like building the cognitive life raft—I want to be ready…or maybe I just want to know that women survive when their husbands die.
There has been a lot of death in my life—parents, brothers, sisters, friends…so maybe it’s more top of mind? I know what a ringing telephone can bring. And just yesterday I was remembering my astonishment years ago when I learned—from a phone call—that my brother Larry had died—and I watched as my body bent completely in half before the news had even completely registered and I thought to myself, “My God, it’s true—we are literally doubled over by grief.”