I have thought a lot about you this summer, and how different summers are now that we’re alone. It is more daunting to go on the usual vacations without our spouse. The outdoor household chores are heavy and seemingly relentless. Then there are the traditional summer activities that are just more fun with a romantic partner, like watching fireworks or attending a wedding. If you are reading this, you have apparently made it through the summer. Congratulations!
As if not enough has been changed without my choice, I decided to try something new this summer. In response to the Pope’s encyclical regarding the moral aspects of my ecological footprint, I decided to do without air conditioning in my house and car. I live in New England, not Texas, so this was not a life threatening decision. But, I like air conditioning. I try to gift myself comfort whenever possible. So I was surprised by what I learned. First, I was only uncomfortable for a few short periods of time. Second, the feel of the breeze coming in was really quite pleasant. But what I enjoyed the most was the sounds of birds and of the neighborhood children. I became more aware of the world around me, and the world seemed welcoming. It softened my sense of isolation significantly. I found that I started wanting to be outdoors more, riding my bike and taking walks. I took the open window as a metaphor to my outlook on life. Have I been living in a space that has closed out some of the good? Have I put up walls that have kept me from hearing the kindness of friends? What am I missing by holding back?
September is traditionally a time for new beginnings. I’m not sure yet what lies ahead for me. But I plan to keep the metaphorical windows open. I plan to listen better, to be more aware of the world around me, and to venture out more. The first day of school was always a little scary, and I expect that trying to live a new way will also be a little scary. But to stay inside, physically or emotionally, is to surely miss all the good that is still available for us.
This issue is chock full of ideas for beginning to explore the world in a new way. Amy Barry helps parents guide children as they have to explain to their classmates about the loss of a parent. Jane Milardo discusses how to find the right professional support in one article, and in another, she visits with 9/11 spouses. But Carol Scibelli softens it all with a humorous look at bereavement groups. Patricia Chaffee not only explores Happiness Clubs, but also introduces us to JessieMay Kessler, who has 2 years of experience as a widow. Lisa Saunders reaches back in time to share how Grandma Moses explored her artistic talent after the loss of her husband. And then we appreciate the joy in life’s little pleasures – home decorating, good recipes, and shopping in flea markets. We look at Gunilla Norris’ new book, MATCH. And our poem this month is Grass, by Hugo DeSarro.
I wish for you an autumn of new beginnings. Just as in third grade, we built on what we learned in 1st and 2nd grades, let’s use this time as widows and widowers to build on what we learned during our years of marriage. Let’s continue to learn and to grow, using any support that we need to open our windows so that we can find our way to joy.
Peace and Blessings,
Dr. Joanne Z. Moore,