There are step programs for everything in life today to cure what physically or mentally ails you. After all, you have to take one step at a time to get anywhere. But despite all the dead spouse support group jargon absorbed and subsequently regurgitated over the last nine months, Melissa still had no idea what she was doing. 

It was supposed to be their best life. Retire and have fun. A two-step program to happiness. Nowhere did it say cancer, death and widowed. 

Since her husband died, Melissa was in an oarless boat floating aimlessly on her way to nowhere. She followed all initial the steps in the grief program brochures, but after acceptance, the navigation was a little foggy and the waves were a little choppy. So, she started a new series of steps on living life.

Keep Busy, the program said, so, she threw herself into project after project. Painting, adult color books, puzzles, karaoke, and she even learned to play the ukulele. The result was a bust – tried, abandoned and eventually chucked in the forgotten closet one by one to collect dust.

Make New Friends, the support group encouraged. So, she went to every event offered in her town and neighborhood from movies and casino trips to dances and game nights.  All were fun, but a glaring example of being uncoupled in the sea of coupledom.

Get a New Hobby, another pamphlet espoused. Learning from others, Melissa decided becoming a gym-rat taught self-reliance and could be performed as a single and with other singles. Power walking, jogging, and marathon-training all became obsessions to fill the days and make her too tired to care about lonely nights. This worked for a while, but sore and uncooperative limbs made this pursuit un-pursuable on a long-term basis.

Veering from the stated programs preached in the acceptable mature groups, Melissa took the page from another book called experimentation.  After some research and a trip to the dispensary, Melissa had a smorgasbord of products to begin. CBD oil, edibles, a bong, and just old-fashioned smoking, proved an interesting investigation into her inner psyche, resulting in too many mornings waking up with a cricked neck and papers stuck to her face from sleeping anywhere. These were accompanied by puddles all over the house as retribution from an unhappy un-walked dog.  Ultimately, she found a balance in creating some mild and delicious baked goods that did the trick. Just enough to allow uninterrupted sleep, but not too much to recreate hungover college Monday mornings.

And that triggered a revelation. Just like the oarless boat, she needed balance to keep steady. Melissa realized looking for the one answer, she threw herself headfirst and charged into all manner of activities, just to fill the days and nights, without regard to any of them. Maybe there wasn’t one answer, she thought. Her boat could stop at many ports of call on the way, but as long as she could keep rowing keep the boat steady, it didn’t matter the destination, enjoying the journey along the way could be the goal.

Opening the forgotten closet, Melissa looked at the bounty of dusty projects and activities with just one more problem.  What to do first?

(c) Copyright 2021, Suzanne Rudd Hamilton

Author’s Note: This is a characterization for an upcoming Contemporary Women’s Fiction Novel coming in late 2021 called Control, Alt, Delete. More to Come Soon...

Published by suzanneruddhamilton

I write anything from novels and children's books to plays to relate and retell everyday life experiences in a fun-filled read with heart, hope and humor. A former journalist and real estate marketing expert, I am a transplant from Chicago, now happily living in southwest Florida to keep warm and sunny all year round. You can find me at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: