The Widda' Elmhirst

09_18_09.JPGIt was true - the skin on my face was dry and it seemed to have turned a permanent, dull shade of gray. Every morning I put make up on, hoping that this would be the day that it would last beyond 7 AM. It never did. My eyes were dark and puffy. My eye lids hurt to touch.

I lost ten pounds that I could not afford to lose, and it seemed that most of those pounds were lost from my chest. My breasts. Over a period of what seemed like just a few months, they morphed from wider than long, to longer than wide. Why they shrunk at that particular time was a mystery to me but it certainly assured that I wasn't getting naked with anyone anytime soon. My mouth developed a permanent downturn. I hardly bothered with my hair and it showed.

I looked like a 47 year-old version of the Little Match Girl. I was not what anyone would call attractive. If I happened to pass my living room mirror and also happened to glance at my reflection, always a mistake, I was each time shocked anew. Who was that woman and what in God's name happened to her?

I felt sure with all the tears I shed, that eventually, maybe by the time I was 60, I would be shriveled up completely, prune-like, rocking in some rocking chair, probably in someone's attic, wearing black lace-up boots, a black skirt, a black cape and bonnet. Probably knitting. And muttering to myself about the old days. The days when I felt like a woman. The days when Mike was alive.

Yep, they would say, The Widda Elmhirst, poor thing, she just went and dried up. Got old before her time.

The neighbors would bring their young children by on Halloween for a viewing, and the little ones would run, screaming, when I snarled... Leave me alone, ya brats!

It was difficult to believe, when I was in the throes of grief, that there would come a time when I would eventually feel good. It was impossible to believe that there would eventually come a time when I would feel really good. How could that happen if Mike was still gone?

I was pretty sure that real transformations were reserved for Oprah's guests. I studied the Oprah show. Who were these people who faced adversity and survived? Were they more special than me? Better than me? Smarter than me? Prettier than me? Richer than me? All of the above?

Or, might I be one of them, coming through my own personal tragedy a better person?

Well, I have no idea if I am a better person. That is for others to judge. But I do feel good. My complexion is back to normal, I put the ten pounds back on, although they did not all go back where they came from. (Where is the justice in that?) My mouth is back to normal, usually turned up and the mirror is no longer my enemy. I am not in someone's attic, being whispered about and little children are not afraid of me. Usually, that is.

Life, now-a-days, is pretty darn good. Go figure.


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