Strength ....

2_23_11.jpeg.... or at least the "appearance" of it, is very illusionary, is it not?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard, or read, someone say, "You're so strong, Janine.  I just don't know how you do it." ..... or some variance thereof.  I bet you wish you had those dollars, too (not for me hearing it, of course, but for every time YOU heard it).

My emotions ran the gamut upon hearing those words (or some variance thereof).  Sometimes I was a bit stunned. Sometimes I was frustrated.  Sometimes I was pissed off.  But most of the time I think I was just .... puzzled.

You think I'm strong?
Why?
Because I'm still breathing??! 
If so, then yes, you're quite right.  My body is strong, indeed.  It just keeps right on breathing and yes, the heart keeps pumping .... damn those organs!

I was never strong.
I never felt strong.
I never did anything even remotely strong ..... in my opinion.
My body just continued to function.
Totally and horrifically .... against my will.

I'm strong because I continue to exist?
Because, truly, that's all I was doing for a very long time ..... existing.

I'm strong because I haven't left my children on the side of the road somewhere?
Trust me, that's only because they were old enough to find their way home or because I had very good friends who looked after their best interest.

You would think that I would have been used to this phrase WAY before Jim died.
You see, I've heard it many, many times over the years.
Ever since the birth of our twins (numbers 2 & 3 out of 6).
"I don't know how you do it."
"You must be an amazing mother." (really?)
"You must be an amazing woman for God to give you twins." (yes, really)
"I could NEVER handle twins." --- one of my favorites ..... because, you know, I totally planned on giving birth to two identical girls .... at the same time.

Here's what I wanted to say .... in both situations.
Wait ...... no, here's what I wanted to scream sometimes:  "What in the world are you talking about?  Just because this is the life I've been dealt ..... and I'm living in it ..... THAT makes me strong??"
And to those who would say, "I could never handle ________ (fill in the blank)":  "You THINK I CHOSE this???  Do you think YOU could choose this?  Life happens.  And when it happens, you do what you have to do.  You don't get to choose what you are dealt!  DUHHHHHH!!!!!"

Sometimes you are dealt wonderful things .... like a beautiful set of twins that were added to a beautiful daughter and would be followed by 3 equally beautiful sons (so yes, I continued to hear these phrases.  Their frequency increased as the size of our family increased).

Sometimes you are dealt a huge load of crap.

I didn't choose to be a widow anymore than I chose which type of child I would have. 
And what does one do when one's spouse, the love of her life, her support, her heart, her soulmate .... dies?
Trust me ..... she sure doesn't stop breathing. 
Damn it.

So yes, there are people who think we are strong.
Because we get out of bed every day.
Because we go to work, tend to our children, drive a car (I'm not saying we do any of this very well, I'm just saying that we do it).

We're strong.

Simply because our spouse is dead .... and we are not.

I don't know about you .... but I'm thinking that being a widowed person ..... should become an Olympic event.
Hell, one of us should be strong enough to win it ..... don't you think?


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