Friday, May 4, 2012

Cracking the World Wide Open

I’ve been thinking of a blog for a while that I’m hoping I’ll be able to write next month about how well I’m doing.  I say “hoping” because mid-June begins my month of hell with a cluster of difficult dates like we all seem to have.  I’m “hoping” to write that blog about how, after 5 years, I keep doing better and better than the year before (which I am) and I’m hoping that this is the year that will be a turning point, the year that I will be able to acknowledge those dates without the nervous breakdown I seem to have during that 30 days every year.  We’ll see if I’m able to write that blog in a few weeks.  

Here’s hoping.

I do feel like I’m doing better.  I feel like life has given me a lot to look forward to and be grateful for and that I have created things to be grateful for and look forward to.  

But this morning I was talking to a couple, both of them nurses and the parents of my daughter’s friend, about my husband’s organ donation and, of course, out-of-the-blue, I began to cry a little.  I was trying to give them a few tips on how to handle the family, should they ever find themselves in a situation where they’re helping with a possible organ donation.  As we all know, there are times when we can tell these stories like robots, recounting them like they’ve happened to someone else.  And then there are times when we can’t help but have one detail strike us expectantly.  And then the tears will fall.

The couple was gracious enough to cry with me.

 Yesterday I played hooky for a little while, feeling a little bogged down by all of the things I’m trying to accomplish.  And nothing feels better than, when you have a lot going on, turning off your computer and doing something completely unproductive and frivolous.  So that’s what I did.
I started watching LarryCrowne yesterday afternoon, a movie I wasn’t all that particularly interested in seeing, but was on at the right time so I thought I would give it a go.  And after the beginning, when Larry loses his job and looks so completely devastated, I almost turned it off.  Because being the empathetic person that I am, I can’t help but feel like I’m taking a physical blow when I’m witnessing someone else go through something difficult, whatever it might be.  And I wasn’t sure if the movie was falling under the category of “frivolous”…something that I really needed yesterday afternoon.

I’m glad I stuck with it.  There were parts that were a little silly and a little hard to believe, but Tom Hanks made it all worth it.  His facial expressions and unassuming demeanor throughout the movie made it all worthwhile.  And when it ended, I sat there and tried to figure out why the movie affected me so much.

And then it came to me.

After all of the terrible things had happened to him – his layoff, his fear of losing his home – Larry Crowne treated the world like it was a whole new place for him.  He went back to college and thrived, something he would have never done before he lost his job.  He met up with a new “gang” of friends because he decided to buy a scooter to save gas money, something he would have never done before he lost his job.  And as the movie went on, Larry Crowne became a new person and – dare I say? – happier for losing his job.

He was forced into a new life and when he was, it was like he just opened himself up to everything.  When someone suggested he go riding with a group of scooter enthusiasts, you could see the look on his face that said, “What?  Who me?” and then “Why not?”  He hopped on the bike and began tooling around with a group of strangers who would become his friends.  It was like once he lost everything…he was open to everything.

And that was something I could really relate to.

I’ve had so many overwhelming moments since my husband died.  Too many to count.  But I’ve also had moments of deep courage and unshakeable faith in myself and what I can do.

Too many to count.

There are so many things I would have never known about myself and never known what I was capable of until my world cracked wide open, that afternoon in July when he died.  It was like when I was left with what I felt like was nothing, I had no choice but to create something.  And then I created much more than I ever thought I could.

So thank you, Larry Crowne, for reminding me that the moments that sometimes feel like the end are actually the beginning of something else that we may not have even thought of yet.  Thanks for reminding us that Devastation also travels with its counterpart:  Opportunity.  Thanks for reminding us that, sometimes, when life feels like it has cracked wide open…

…it may be because it’s making room for something else to grow.

Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014).  She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.


  1. I too try to hold onto the hope that somehow I get to create the newer, better, version of me that I never would've had the courage to be before becoming a widow. I think I'm getting there ;) Thanks for this post...I can truly relate.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Brooke. Creating the "new me" is easier some days than others (and there are times when I long for the old me I didn't even have to think about!). If you "think" you're getting there...believe me you are. :>)