This is dedicated to my friends, Suzanne and Jo Ellen who recently received new hats.
We wear a lot of hats in our lives--daughter, sister, friend, student, teacher, worker, boss, mother and wife hats. Mostly we love our hats and the evolution of energies within them. We wear them out and get new clean ones. But we cherish the older cozy soft rippled, stained and maybe even chewed ones with bent brims.
Then there are the new ones that are forced upon us. We try shaking them off our heads as toddlers or dogs do. I don't want this fucking ridiculous hat! I want my old broken-in one back! It comfortably molded to my head. I'd never need another one. All the scratchy parts were finally soft. I'd be satisfied the rest of my life with this. I never bought this! Where the hell did it come from? It's not my style. All my friends have worn in cozy hats that they get to eat dinner with every night. This does not match anything in my life! I'm too young for a hat like this anyways.
I earned my widow's hat almost exactly 2 1/2 years ago. I still want to send it through the shredder many days. On days that my presence changes the table count from even number to odd. Days that I see his handwriting in an old checkbook, or need something from the top shelf. When I have to figure out what to do in place of the daddy daughter dance at Gracie's wedding next month. Nights that I want to tell him something that only he would find funny.
Sometimes I slip that soft one back on for old times sake. I sip some of our Grande Marnier and laugh and cry remembering when our hats were stiffer and not broken in enough for handling four kids and their antics.
But then other days I feel I am growing into it. Sometimes I forget it's even on. I laugh and cry and dance in it. I meet other women who wear similar hats-some older and some younger. We comfort each other in these foreign fedoras. And we meditate and do yoga in them. We travel in them. We take weird classes. We help others, We watch sunsets and drink wine in them. We do things we never would have dreamt of doing in our old hats.
And then something happens. Our heads change beneath the bonnets. A skill set of survival and stillness seeps in and if you take really good care to not give a shit what anyone thinks, you will gather your bits and bedazzle that damn derby. Any weird glow you lost in the madness of past juggling and conforming comes streaming through that raw wounded heart to sparkle and shine. And just know this, my beautiful spirited soul sisters, you WILL shine. You'll shine so bright that your hats will morph into golden jeweled crowns.
Some day you and I will don them proudly in our "queendoms" of Belgium or Mexico or Egypt or Italy or Greece. And once again we will dance.
I love you, Suzanne, Jo Ellen, Laurie, Mom, Capri, and many others in our Young Widow Hat Society.
(Suzanne lost the love of her life, Vince, to lung cancer on Thanksgiving Day. She's been my neighbor, my support, my "personal chef" and one of my best friends for 20 years. I met Jo Ellen in England on a pilgrimage to Avalon this past September. Like Norm, her Bill died unexpectedly just a few days ago. Jo Ellen would make us laugh all day on the retreat. She called some of us by our "past life names" that she remembered. I was 'Lola' and she adored my brown and orange hat that will become hers some day soon.)