Saturday, July 22, 2006

This Widow Thing.

Girlchild records Oprah faithfully, and today I watched this episode. And I felt no pity for this silly bitch. No, that's not quite true, I felt pity for her in the sense that she's seriously messed up and that's a shame. But I do not feel pity for her for being a 911 widow.

This is a totally separate issue from Coultergeist's railing about the 911 widows in her book - she was pissed off at and singled out "the Jersey Girls," because those women channeled their grief into action, became politically savvy, lobbied Congress, forced an investigation when the White House was stonewalling. The Jersey Girls rock. The many other victims' families quietly picked up the pieces and tried to go on, and they are still dealing with it too. This is NOT about a 911 victim - this is about being a victim of the Cold Cruel World. Put on those big girl panties, honey.

I know lots of widows. Nobody handed us five mil for our suffering. She lost her husband in a day, I spent two years watching mine die, while juggling a job and a role as single-handed caregiver and robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep a roof over our heads and health insurance in place. Nobody wrote me a check when it was over - insurance money? Hell, the policy barely put a dent in the debt. I went back to work three days after the funeral because I frigging HAD to - I had enormous bills to pay. I got a higher paying job. I took out a second mortgage. I did what I had to do and I'm glad I could do it. I know it could have been a hell of a lot worse. And I know that there are many, many people like me out there, men who have cared for their wives, families who care for elderly parents and, tragically, children, and of course people lose loved ones every day to random accidents and random crime and the great Shit Happens, and they suffer terrible loss and they grieve and yet they show up for work every day, because nobody handed them a goddamn lottery ticket. So I just can't feel empathy for this woman. I have none. I really think this silly bitch would be less whiny and pathetic if she had to get her pampered suburban housewife ass out there and get a job, and sell the house and move into a condo, and think about something other than her self-pitying drugged up self all damn day, but she has too much money and such an obvious sense of privilege, she just Can't do that.

She does piss me off, because how dare she sit there and claim her loss is just so special that she can't cope? Lady, do you really think I don't understand what it's like to have the life you knew ripped out from under you? I get it. So does my former co-worker, the mother of then 5-year-old twins, whose husband died on the operating table during "routine" surgery, and my cousins who nursed their husbands through long, terrible illnesses as I did, and the widow of the 26 year old fireman who stopped on the side of the road to help accident victims and was run over by a truck, and the family of the poor son of a bitch who got shot in the head right in front of them during a random robbery. You are not the only person who has lived through something shocking and awful and has to live with a different life you never wanted. Lots and lots of us have been there, and your grief is not more magical and special and worthy of wallowing than the rest of us just because yours was televised and a national event. Obviously you don't have to work, and that's a pity because it might have saved you from getting this screwed up, but you do have options. You could get a job anyway. It would be good for you. If you can't imagine working you can still find something to do to fill your days while the kids are in school, paid or unpaid. If you don't want to work, spend a few hours a week out of the house. Get off your whiny privileged ass and do volunteer work, maybe even go spend some time volunteering in a hospice or a children's hospital, and talk to other people about their problems. It'll help you put yours in perspective. Get out of yourself and realize you aren't the only person who has experienced really bad shit. 911 has nothing to do with this. This is YOUR problem and you have to fix it. You're screwing up your kids worse than the loss of their father already has. Cut it the hell out.

And this is why I'd make a shitty counselor - you aren't actually allowed to swear at and slap your clients. But this woman needs to be smacked upside the head. Oprah was too gentle. Everybody tippytoes around 911 like it's a sacred thing, too awful to speak of - Oprah launched into a big speech about how she thinks about it every day, because she clearly felt she needed to make a speech about it before she said even the mildest critical word to this woman. I watch the morning news and I hear the stories of the poor souls who died in tsunamis or random violence or the war(s) in the Middle East, and I think of them, because they are no less worthy of our consideration than the victims of 911. It's not "forgetting them," to recognize that tragedy happens every day, and while it was dramatic and of course televised, the death of a civilian in Iraq is just as earth-shattering for his widow - probably more so, because her entire world is in shambles.

So you all will have to forgive me if I want to slap the shit out of this whiny widow. Or don't forgive me. She still needs slapping.


Anonymous said...

I'm sick of 911 being used as the rationale for lots of sick behaviors. Maybe the woman was on the wrong show. Maybe she should have sought help from Dr. Phil. My impression (I don't have a TV so don't see any of them) is that he tells it like it is and doesn't pull any punches.

Catherine said...

You know, I hadn't thought of Dr. Phil, but you're right, he's considerably more blunt.

I can tell you what happened on 911. I was driving to my office listening to the radio when the first plane hit. I watched the towers collapse on a TV in a conference room with my co-workers. My husband was in the ICU, about to receive the first dose of a "cocktail" of drugs to fight his renal cancer. He called me at the office and we talked about what was happening in New York. I went to the hospital later in the day and we watched the news coverage. Two days later he went into a coma that lasted for a month. He came out of it but never got anywhere near "healthy" or "normal" and died 2 years later. I've often thought of the other people like me, who were engaged in their own crises and didn't give 911 the full attention and obsession that the rest of the country did - we are out of step with the mindset. Yes, it was hideous, nightmarish, freakish. It was also 5 years ago. I went through a slow hell and had to move on, and this woman needs to move on too. But she won't, because she's stuck in this position and has enough money to enable her to wallow in it. There is something to be said for getting wiped out - you can either give up or get up and rebuild. You have to consciously choose to go on. If you get handed everything you never have to do that.

Geogrrl said...

Hear, hear!

Like many people, I'm tired of the mantra "9/11" being used to excuse all sorts of behaviour. That particular currency has lost its value, IMHO.

What about someone like my mother, a widow overnight at 44? My father had a heart attack and died, leaving her with 4 children to raise. It was difficult, but she sucked it up and moved on. As do many.

Geogrrl said...

Cripes, I just read the article. That woman needs a hard slap upside the head. Seriously.

This is why I never went into counselling.

Catherine said...

I think she had problems before her husband died, but I seriously think she'd have been better off if she HAD to take care of herself. It was clear, listening to her, that her identity was totally wrapped up in being the perfect upper middle class housewife, and the source of her identity died and she was left with nothing but stuff, so she tried to fill the void with more and more stuff. She has had 5 years and boatloads of cash to wallow in self-pity, and I don't think she's going to come back from that and be a functional person, not without some real intensive help and a kick in the ass.

dragon knitter said...

i'm sorry, but we all have to deal with loss. what a whiney bitch. no i didn't read the article, because i don't need to hear more whining (my 14 year old is mowing the lawn, that's enough whining for me).

i suppose it's either get over it, and move on, or wallow and make yourself & your kids worse. i feel sorriest for the kids. they really don't have either of their parents, from the sound of it.

Catherine said...

It's not getting over it as much as just dealing with it. You deal and you move on, because you have to, because your spouse didn't invest so much of his life in the family for you to let it fall apart. I wanted to choke this woman because she didn't GET that - she was focused on a damn memorial instead of on making the family his memorial.