Summer…ahhh…the best season in the Midwest. Summer started in July this year. It was a long wait, but finally I was able to replace my winter clothes with my summer ones, and wear shorts, capris and sandals every day.
A few weeks ago I learned — after a major scan and blood work — that my metastatic breast cancer (or MBC as it is now called) is stable, meaning no progression. And, to add to that good news, some of my existing cancer has dissipated — translation: melted away. This is a huge accomplishment for this miserable disease. It means the chemo pill I’ve been taking for six months is working.
So combine stable cancer with summer and I’m maximizing every day. Friends invite me to lunch, dinner, bike rides, walks, movies, vacations, and I’m there. I can’t ride my bike as far as I used to, but I’m good for five miles and occasionally up to ten.
I’m still missing Tom and have these moments where it hurts to live without him. I sheepishly admit I sometimes feel angry so many of my peers still have their husbands. But I try not to dwell on it.
Besides being widowed of late seems to have gained a bit of panache. There are more TV shows (both network and streaming) featuring plots around widows and widowers. Memoirs about widowhood by high-profile business women and famous writers are more common. A friend and I were delighted earlier this year to procure an agent to find a publisher for our book that explores dating after widowhood. So it’s sort of safe to say widowhood is a thing. Of course, it always has been, just more under the radar.
Back to my third or, actually, fourth summer with cancer, I am happy to indulge myself at every turn. I’m not drinking much and often have little appetite, but when I do I go for it. I spoil myself with ice cream and sweets and eat excessive amounts of summer fruit — watermelon, cherries, blueberries, peaches, plums, and melon.
I spend time on my peaceful backyard patio that feels like a private forest with roughly a dozen full-grown trees, rampant black squirrels, robins, cardinals, and blue jays. I work out there and read and have long phone conversations with friends and my darling daughter who lives in another state.
The only problem with the long days of summer is they end and turn into shorter, cooler days. Oh, how I hate that transition.
But for now, it is summer, and I have an outdoor dinner to attend. I plan to enjoy every minute of it.
It was great seeing you as well. So unexpected. Clara is darling. The tent scene at the park looked like fun.
It was nice to run into you last night and nice you were able to meet my granddaughter. Your post sounds like you are really in a good place and am glad for you.
I have been widowed for over four years. I have three adult sons, one in Phoenix, one in Grand Rapids and the ‘baby’ who leaves near me in the Saline area. My husband was a leader in our community, baseball and basketball coach, member of the school board, etc. Up until his passing I had never lived alone. I immediately started projects with gutting the kitchen and family room and it turned out beautifully. Joined golf leagues, visited my sister in SC. Eventually my top two females suggested (mom and sister) that I retire, why I never thought of that but I had been at U of M for 18 years and was eligible. It was a very natural move and it suited me. My high school sweetheart contacted me from afar and we have been dating ever since. I know it seemed quick and it was but it was fascinating how much we were alike after all those years. Like a pair of gloves. He has a two year contract to complete and then we can decide from there, likely SC. We are four hours apart and see each other most weekends.
I’m wondering what happened to my friends or is it me? I’m a part of a six person group and we ladies meet for dinner once a month. Other than that I never see or hear from them. They are all married and I get that, but I cant help but think that when their husbands pass they will have the big awakening just like I did. I try not to be a spoiler but it does hurt.
I do feel my internal power and happiness and that I’m able to amuse myself and move about freely. My biggest issue at the time was wanting to have a drink locally but how would that look? Eventually I bellied up to a bar and ordered a craft beer and thought your 60 something and there is nothing wrong with sitting at a bar!
Thank you, Raye, for sharing your widowhood story. On one hand, you are lucky to have reconnected with your high school sweetheart. On the other hand, the girlfriend connections sound weak. Perhaps starting a book club with the friends you don’t see much or joining one where you could meet new people would be good. My friends are what keeps me going. I’m in a book club, movie club and book-to-movie club — all very social.
Congrats on having a brew at the bar on your own. I do that sometimes, and it is empowering.
You have a great name, by the way. It sounds like a writer’s name.