We hope this Widow’s Column provides hope, support and a sounding board for anyone who has lost a spouse. We know we’re not alone. We want to hear from you. Share your experiences and comments and maybe we can learn, grow, and heal together.

The average life expectancy for a woman living in the US is 81.6 years. Yikes. That means by all reasonable calculations, I’m practically middle-aged. Wow. I guess I should stop wearing pigtails when I ski.

Jess & Garry in Vegas

So here I am, starting to teeter toward that midpoint as I face another birthday. All I can think about is what I’ve lost, and the things I didn’t do. Yes, there are many positive things I’ve experienced- exotic vacations, two adorable children, meeting the love of my life.  But, I also lost the love of my life to cancer after spending 16 inseparable years together, making me a widow.  Anytime death does its job too early, we are forced to look at our own mortality.  What can we do to live life to the fullest- to honor our love one who has passed? My husband died in the middle of his life; it breaks my heart to think about how he’ll never experience the second half.

Many people call me strong, and maybe I can handle a lot. But, just because I’m a hard-worker, strong, or assertive, doesn’t mean I am brave. I really don’t take risks. I’m a wimp- a total nightmare at the Blackjack table. And on top of that, I’m pretty Type A. The only reason I own a moving company is because my brave, superhero husband, Garry, had a propensity for risk. (So much, it could occasionally be a liability.) But, I loved him for that- envied how he could take a leap of faith and land on his feet. That man never stopped moving!  He would take any opportunity and make the most of it.

As a girl, I spent weeks on my grandparent’s sailboat in the summer- never learned to sail. I wanted to be back on the docs by evening to call friends/boyfriends, or just read a book on the bow.

Maurice Star once asked me to sing backstage at a Marky Mark concert; fear tightened my vocal chords. (This one really shouldn’t count, because it was a good decision on my part to clam up; Florence Nightingale, I am not.)  But still, I have to wonder, doesn’t auto-tune work out the kinks?

I gave up studying abroad in Spain because I didn’t want to lose my housing and was scared I would return a semester later not knowing anyone.

And, I never sent out my reporter demo tape. I tell people because I fell in love, but really I didn’t want to risk failing.

I worked through Garry’s illness, never unplugging. What if we didn’t get a job, I had to work, right? We had the flexibility to take the work with us, and so we did; to treatments, during hospital stays. I’ll never, ever forgive myself for this. I feel guilt no matter what I do. I wish we sold the business and spent every moment of those 18 months together with our two boys. But, we didn’t. I worried it was too risky, we needed the healthcare. Besides, we thought he was going to live. And so now, I can never let go of that company. But, I’m also not the same person anymore, and I need to find the new me. Maybe a hobby would help? And so, the opportunity presented to join Kim’s blog.

I can hear Garry now saying, “Do it Jessie, you’ll do great.” He was always my biggest champion.

I don’t want any more regrets, I want to be more like Garry.

This isn’t the first time a, “haute mama” has approached me to write for the blog. But, in the past I was also terrified; too vulnerable to put myself out here in blogland. I didn’t get blogs at that time. I could never take pictures of myself like Kim does.  She’s tall and those curves rock and roll like a dangerous roller coaster. I have short arms and my selfies always end up exaggerating one feature in the most unflattering way. What if people think what I write is stupid, snicker behind my back, or send mean comments?  What if no one reads it at all? People just want pictures. Can I take it? Can I afford not to?

I love to write!  Really, I always have, ever since I was a little girl I was “authoring” stories. And, anyone who knows me, knows I’m a fashion lover.

When we were younger, preparing for what lie ahead, our dreams were far in the distance. But now, life is whizzing by faster every year. And every year, we all get older, our dreams and goals seem to stay in the center as we spin outward and further away, until they are just glints in our eyes of the things we hoped to do. I don’t want to spin to the end and never have taken a risk. So, I’m jumping toward the center- taking that chance. Hell, there’s a good chance 80% of the readers stopped at the 2nd paragraph. And that’s okay. What isn’t okay is not giving it a try. Too often I have taken the safe road. Maybe I’m missing rainbows and beautiful bird songs on the second path. So please- Jump toward the center with me. Maybe we’ll all find the fall isn’t so bad.

I’m going to be like Garry and never stop moving!

Jess 🙂

Jumping into Center2