Spreading My Wings…ala Kelly Clarkson

man with wings standing on brown mountain peak
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

I had a good weekend. I already blogged about my gals coming over. (Yes, “my”. I am possessive of them, you know.) I also accepted an invitation from an acquaintance who is turning into a friend, to go to an event in Naperville. It was a gathering to discuss, maybe debate, politics, and yes, religion crept in. I was hesitant at first. I wouldn’t know anyone. I don’t know if I would feel like walking out five minutes in. My confidence in doing new without Peter is pretty low right now.  But I did with Kelly Clarkson’s lyrics “I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly…take a chance, make a change” playing over in my head. (Remember, I think in song…and you’re welcome for that earworm.)

First off, I have to give you a bit of a background on my acquaintance turned friend. I think I’ll just call her friend now. Sheila and I met through mutual friends and via Facebook.  I liked her liberal leanings and she liked mine. Our comments turned to discussions turned to having each other’s back when others ‘attacked’ our views. Her husband died about a year ago and I reached out telling her how sorry I was for her pain. When my Peter died, she not only reached out, she validated any and all feelings I felt at the time. I made arrangements to meet her for lunch, canceled twice and then finally met with her. She was patient with me understanding the unpredictability of emotions widowhood brings. She never gave up on me. She continues to send me messages, and well, then extended this invite to this event. I didn’t refuse.

Let me tell you, I almost backed out, three times. Each time, Kelly kept singing at me, and I knew she was right. I had to step out of my comfort to create something new, something different, perhaps a new comfort. Besides, Sheila has been down this road. If I cried, she would be the first to hand me a tissue. If I escaped outside because anxiety was choke-holding me, she would have followed to tell me how normal that was.  And so, I said yes, if nothing else to quiet Ms. Clarkson. I mean, she’s got a great voice but enough already.

Sheila picked me up with another woman in the car. The other woman was a widow too. Already feeling comforted, we got to the event. Our little group of three had to be split up due to chair positions. Same table, different chairs. I found myself saying “I’ll sit here” and left my threesome. In retrospect, I found that bold of me. In retrospect, it’s something I’ve done so naturally pre-Peter’s death. I am not a Shrinking Violet.  Perhaps a hesitant one since widowhood, but not a shrinking one. Not in my bones.

I sat aside and across some extremely welcoming people. We did introductions and continued with some small talk. I said some things which had them laughing, billowing out my chest with pride because quick-witted Betsy showed up and I dig her. The man next to me took a straw poll on who we would vote for president if we had to vote now. I almost rubbed my hand in delight. Now they were talking my language.

The conversation eventually dipped into the problems with representation. Two men debated. I jumped in with a compromised which quieted them for a moment. I was almost going to say “wait, hear me out” but I didn’t have to. Their quiet was a reflection of my solution and they both agreed it was a good one. Thank you Poli Sci major for helping me out with this one.

The conversation then veered into religion. I found myself defending the existence of God which I admitted to the group was odd since my husband was killed four months ago. It felt good pouring out my Philosophy minor knowledge and my fourteen years of Catholic education. (By the way, the religion I was taught in High School through College – until I transferred to a state university – was a liberal one. Not all of it was about Catholicism.) It also felt good, because despite Peter being killed and all my faith struggles with it, I still believed in God. What form, how that looked now, why did this nightmare happened, still remains unanswered. And yeah, I am still holding onto the anger toward Her…Him…They. But I believe. It surprised the heck out of me. I mean, I knew I was getting my faith back, yet I didn’t know how strong I grasped it.

On the drive home, I asked women for advice based on their experiences. We talked about the shitty Holidays coming up, how it never gets better but different, and how, in an instant, your life changes. We all agreed we hated being alone, without our husbands. It’s a hard life. Truly.

I came in with a bit of a high. And no, not from the glasses of wine. I thought I loved tonight. I have always loved political and religious discussions…debates. I grew up in a family where those things were discussed and Mike Royko’s column was the topic of our dinner table. I studied politics because I dug it. I love thinking deep, talking deep, being deep. It can me too much for some, and last night’s event was the outlet to that part of me go.  And went it did.

Yesterday night gave me a sense of self again. Me. A me without Peter. It gave me a what life may look like without Peter. And I don’t mean I’ll go around debating politics or religion on the corner of State Street. I mean, yesterday night, showed me I could have fun, whatever it is, and could be comfortable. I could do a solo act without tears or angst, maybe even enjoy myself.  If the tears and angst came, it’s not a sign of failure, just a trying out that didn’t work for some reason. If I hold onto yesterday nights, I will know, but sometimes it does work out.  And I can cry and be anxious and still move through the situation. That’s okay too.

I am so grateful my new friend Sheila did not give up on me. She probably gets, more than most, the need to “take a chance…take a risk”. Last night, she helped me spread my wings, which I am sure pleases Peter. After all, he is getting used to his own angle wings.