Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's Not My Fault ....

                                  picture from here

.... that my children became orphans on December 18, 2007.

OK, they didn't literally become orphans.
But technically .... they did.

They lost both of their parents that day.
Yes, I was here in body, but only in body.
My body was empty of any resemblance of me.
All it held was the cold, black grief that enveloped every part of me .... grief moved into every space, every cell of my being, and took over.

I was not, could not be,  the person I had been.
So there was no way I could be the same mother.
There were many times when I beat myself up over that.
In spite of .... many things.

But I have moved past a lot of that.
My grief no longer occupies my body.
My grief is no longer in control.
It no longer makes me believe that my children would be better off if I, too, were actually dead.

And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could no more have altered my grief, my grieving, than I could have reached out, touched Jim's body, and brought him back to life.
I did not choose my grief.
I did not want that grief.

But I got what I got.

And so my children managed to somehow keep growing and moving forward, without a parent to guide them.
That was something they had never, ever done before.
And I was powerless to change anything.


I am no longer powerless.
I am very much mostly back to the parent I was "before".
Not all.
I will never be all of the same person/parent I was "before".
But that comes with pros and cons.

Last week was one huge con.
Last week I experienced the incineration of the wall of trust that had encircled one of my children and myself.
The wall was built out of my trust.
That wall no longer exists.
Yes, it can be built again, but that's up to my child .... and it will have to be built one brick at a time.
I think it will.
I hope it will.

But until that time .... here I am .... left to deal with the fallout.
And the consequences.
And all of the crap that one must deal with when a mistake has been made.
And I deal with it .... alone.
Very much alone.

And I hate it.
There are no words for how very much I hate it.

I hate that Jim's not here to share the good times, the big events .... with me.
With us.
But I hate even more that he's not here to help me navigate the storms .... the crap.
The crap that I had nothing to do with, and yet impacts me .... a lot.

A couple of years ago I would have been out of my mind with thinking that this "mistake" was my fault.
Because I was no longer the same.
Because I could not parent the way I did "before".
Because I had somehow failed them.  My children.

But now, here in this place I've fought tooth and nail to arrive at, I know differently.
Crap happens.
And it happens no matter how many parents a child has.
Or how many he/she doesn't have.

Yes,  I am (mostly) back.
Much to the chagrin of my child.
And I am no longer going to the be the only one dealing with consequences.
I am strong.
And I am pissed.

I'm pissed that Jim gets to miss out on all of the crap.
I'm pissed that I can't play "good cop, bad cop" with my kids anymore.
Because there's only one cop.
I'm pissed that, in dealing with this kind of crap, I am very, very alone.

But .... on the flip side .... I'm good.
Because now I know .... no, now I remember ..... that in the same way I could not alter my grief, I cannot alter the minds and decisions of my children.
And truthfully, I never could.

And then there's this:  I asked one of my other children if he/she thought that this choice might not have been made if their dad were here.
To which he/she replied, "Ummmmm, no, Mom.  Teenagers are just .... teenagers and I know this would've happened whether or not Dad was here."
And now, looking back on things .... I realize that my child is 100% correct.

Mistakes would still be made ..... whether my children had two parents or one parent .... or no parent.
And so I am less .... pissed.

Which is a very good thing.
Because I doubt that there's anything scarier than a pissed-off widow.
Trust me.


  1. Oh Janine, I am crying then laughing and nodding along with every word of this.

    ...and no, there is nothing scarier than a pissed-off widow.

  2. We 'finished' raising a grandson. Oh, the frustration and, yes, anger, when they pull a stunt that you KNOW they know better than to do. And then we pull up our bootstraps and deal with it because we love them more than life itself.

  3. Thank you! Just what I needed this morning! Loves! Lee Ann

  4. This is a wonderfully honest post and I appreciate your honesty. I too have gone through the guilt of having been unable to be there for my children after their father died. They felt abandoned by me and hurt and angry with me but I was unable to be a mother for them. Yes, it was like they were orphans. That was 7 years ago. Since then, they have grown into adults and made decisions and made mistakes. We are closer now than ever and your post reminds me of all of this . Thank you Janine, and hang in there! Parenting teens is the hardest work of all. Be good to yourself.

  5. as always I love your writing, it just rings so true. With the start of school this week it has been a very bad week, where I feel like I am being sucked back into that black hole. I am SO sincerely sorry that you are going through whatever bad choice your child made. And I pray that the wall of trust is being slowly rebuilt. I needed to hear that I am not the "only one" with some of these feelings. Thank you for once again making me realize I am not crazy and not alone. And as always, despite whatever it is you have written you still managed to make me laugh, love the line about nothing being scarier than a pissed off widow!!! Hugs and prayers to you for continued healing over this incident. And many heartfelt thanks for all you do for the rest of us widows!

  6. This really resonates with me. Thank you for your sharing. I tell people often that I died the day John did and that person I was is never coming back. I have learned to be ok with that because as I continue to grow and blossom as a person I like me, I'm ok with me. Like you I am not the parent I used to be but I am continuing to work on that. (((HUGS)))

  7. The fall out. Oh yes, I get this Janine. Being the only parent who is there to deal with all the mistakes, or mis-steps, that our children make is not fun at all. I still don't quite feel together enough to be the type of parent I used to be, yet I've had may share of challenges these past couple of years, and I realize that in spite of my being less than 100%, I handled each situation the best I could at the time.

    Please remember that at least in spirit, you are not alone. I know that in the heat of the moment it is of no use, but when you are able to sit back and reflect, like you are doing now, it helps to not feel so alone.

    Hang in there, and know that you are much loved.