[Author’s note: Yes, it’s been a lifetime or two since I last blogged. Yes, buckets and buckets of things, bad, good and incredible have happened during this time. No, I’m not going to attempt to summarize or recap them here—that’s what Facebook is for. Yes, I’ll friend you as long as I see no evidence that you’re a bot or a teabagger. Yes, “Music Monday” and “Wordless Wednesday” are blog clichés used by sometimes lame bloggers who can’t just, well, write more, so they come up with cute concepts to prompt themselves to post more often. Anything else? That’s what the “Comment” box is for.]

Like most of us who aren’t dead (Widower joke. Ha fucking ha.), a good song can make me cry. Heck, a BAD song can make me cry, but it’s gotta be a really GOOD bad song. Most of the time, it doesn’t take a Psychology degree to figure out what about a certain song dovetails with our personal emotional landscape at that moment, even if it has little to do with what the songwriter might have been originally writing about. As Dave Matthews wrote:

Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

But other times, it’s more of a puzzle. More of a “Thick Picnic,” as Julie used to say. (She liked the concept so much it became the title of her first solo recording.) THIS was definitely a Thick Picnic.

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What are you afraid of, anyway? And why? Should you trust your fear to keep you safe, or break it as shackles that are holding you back? When does your fear teach you not to throw your life away, and when does it prevent you from living? How can you tell?

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GAWD! How do I get myself IN to these situations. (Shut up! Don’t answer that! Who asked you? No I didn’t, it was a rhetorical question!)

My friend Charlena recently said, “But is there really any other way to go but in over one’s head? Full out baby, that’s the way you play it, and it’s the best shit even though doing it this way hurts like hell.”

You know what? I’m tired of hurting. I’m exhausted by pain, anguish, uncertainty, soaring hopes dashed to pieces on jagged rocks. Flying without a net.

Truth is, I’m soft.

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Bless me blogosphere, for I have sinned.

OK, so I don’t actually believe in “sin.” I believe that there are some things that are bad and some things that are good, with most things somewhere in between.

But this feels like a confession. In my head I know I’m not really “bad” and that probably many (most?) have gone through this “stage.” But the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when I realized I felt this way told me I had crossed a line. So, thank you, blogosphere, for hearing my confession.

It hit me like a ton of bricks, as I was walking today. Having tried running for the first time three days before at a friend’s encouragement (and survived), I was eager to exert myself more than I usually do on my lunchtime outings. So, armed with the trusty psycho-mind-reading ipod, I charted a new route, and it wasn’t long before I was huffing and puffing up the quiet, winding, narrow streets of Portland’s West Hills. Sure enough, as I began to twist and turn my way downhill, a song about grief triggered a flash of realization:

I no longer miss Julie as an individual as much as I miss the roles she filled in my life.

The details of her as a person have started to fade, to lose focus in the haze of memory. How she spoke, how she would act, what she would or wouldn’t do in a given situation—these are becoming less and less clear. What looms larger now are all the things she is no longer here to be—wife, mother, partner, companion, someone to talk to and share all the joys and burdens and tasks and events of life.

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I recently found myself pulled into a discussion that focused on the challenges faced by women who become romantically involved with or marry widowers. You can read it in its raw glory here.

My widow friends on Facebook were extremely supportive, in private and in public, and praised my writing and declared their support for my point of view. Regular readers of the blog in question generally supported the blog author and each other, but many were also kind and supportive to me, even though many were not.

In and of itself, it’s not really a big deal. We all take our lumps out here on the interwebs, and if we don’t want to risk a run-in with someone who thinks we’re full of shit, it’s easy enough to avoid.

But after my last post on that blog, I was curious: what else were people saying about widowERs (I noted the gender-specificity right away) and their relationships? What I found frankly blew my mind.

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