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The Fading Light: Chapter 24

He always thought of everything, so I didn’t have to. Now it was my job, and it was daunting

As I sit down to write the last column in this series, there are severe hurricane warnings for the southeastern United States. Not surprisingly, the newspaper headlines I saw this morning have triggered memories of October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy struck, just months after the death of my husband z”l.

At that time, I was scared of being home by myself — scared of a possible blackout, yes, but also unsure if I was up to the task of preparing for the storm. My husband had always done that job, and he’d done it meticulously.

He’d checked to see that we had batteries and flashlights, candles for backup, food supplies, and bottled water for the duration of the storm. He’d put the outdoor furniture, trash cans, and flower pots in the garage so they wouldn’t be blown around by winds strong enough to propel them through a window. He’d made sure the car was parked on the right — or rather the left — side of the street so the snowplows wouldn’t bury it.

He always thought of everything, so I didn’t have to. Now it was my job, and it was daunting.

I was afraid of what lay ahead but demurred when my children urged me to stay with them (option A). I was determined to prove I could manage on my own and felt safe taking the risk because I knew I could find refuge with a friend who lived nearby if my courage faltered (option B).

Truth be told, I wound up in her living room — and later in her guestroom — pretty early on. With the power out, I was spooked by the howling wind, branches crashing onto cars and rooftops, and what looked like lightning flashing from power lines. It didn’t take me long to grab my toothbrush and take flight.

Two years later, a monster blizzard was predicted, and I once again faced the choice of going to stay with my children or remaining at home, this time without option B, my friend having recently made aliyah. I chose to stay, feeling more confident after having been on my own for almost five years, if you count the time my husband was in the residence.

The blizzard fizzled into a modest snowstorm, so I can’t in all honestly claim to have done better than I did in October 2012. But one thing I know with absolute certainty: The vulnerability I feel as a widow hasn’t changed that much. Yes, I’m stronger and more capable of being on my own than I ever imagined I’d be, but when a blizzard threatens, I still feel vulnerable.

The blizzard doesn’t have to be weather-related. It can be generated by a health or a life-cycle issue or something as commonplace as making financial decisions or car problems. Last year I downsized, sold my house, and moved across the Hudson to New Jersey. It was a huge undertaking, both physically and emotionally.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 662)

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