Tag Archives: death

Book Review: The Widow’s Watcher by Eliza Maxwell

It doesn’t take me long to read a book if I can keep an interest. There were several times early on, when I wanted to quit reading and move onto something else. But I am determined to meet my book quota for the month and finished it. I had to take several breaks though as I often found myself getting impatient or bored.

I finished the book about an hour ago as part of my 2022 Good Reads Challenge. This makes book number #2 that I’ve read so far. I had to read some of the reviews before making up my mind and reflected on the ending for a while.


The Widow’s Watcher by Eliza Maxwell

“They spend their whole lives walking away from you,” the kindergarten teacher had said on her little girl’s first day. “Your job now is to be there when they look back.”

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Summary

The story centers around two people and their own stories of personal loss and grief. Or more accurately, horrific tragedies that don’t seem plausible but still entertaining to read.

Jenna Shaw is a grieving widow who has lost her husband due to a tragic accident. She is an unlikable character who has lost the will to carry on. She drives out to the middle of nowhere in Minnesota to end her life.

Unbeknownst to Jenna, the spot she chose to drown herself in belonged to an older man who was known being a “gruff” recluse. Or as she calls him later – “old bastard.” Lars Jorgensen spots Jenna from his kitchen window and he rushes to stop her.

When her van refuses to start, she is trapped in town with Lars for several days. The two form an unlikely friendship and they help each other through their own losses which are revealed to the reader throughout the book.



My review and thoughts

What I did not expect was to cry at the end of the book. I suppose I could identify with the inner voice that was Jenna’s guilt. Her guilt manifested as her daughter Cassie’s voice and this makes sense to me. I often hear my own mother’s voice in my head. She is my worst critic at times, and my savior at other times.

The book is pretty slow but the pace quickens up around chapter 19-20. You start to warm up a little to the Jorgensen family as you learn more about their personal tragedies and loss. While some of the twists and turns are a little unrealistic – stranger things have happened in real life.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


All in all, I found myself more emotional towards the end of the book and for that reason – I gave it four stars. The book was well written. Worth sticking it out to the end even if the ending was a bit disappointing.

Was it perfect? No. Enjoyable? I guess that would depend on where you are in your life. If you’re no stranger to grief like I am, then you might enjoy it.

Worth reading? Yes.


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Grief. Time doesn’t heal all wounds.

I’m not going to apologize for not writing as much as usual this week. Sometimes I need to take breaks. And other times, I just don’t feel like cooking. That’s what this week has been. But I have some ground beef defrosting in the fridge and perhaps I’ll make a meatloaf and share my recipe with you later today.

I think I just realized why I’ve been quieter this month and haven’t had too many things to say. With COVID, things have been tough as you all know and probably feel for yourselves. My dad is in stage five with Parkinsons and he’s in long-term care. Cases are on the rise and they’re talking about another lockdown. My dad barely survived the last one.

With Parkinsons, comes dementia. Dad had a hard time remembering what was going on from day to day. He went from seeing his kids almost daily between me and my sister. To not seeing anyone for months at all. The depression kicked in. He mostly slept and cried all day, everyday. We were told he was getting the help he needed but he wasn’t.

We’re looking at moving him into the next level of care but this process could take a long time. Up to a year. I’m hoping we can move him closer to my sister so I can visit them more too. They live in Sherwood Park. If that’s the case, then when I move in the spring, I might move closer that way. It makes more sense.

So, I’m really worried about an impending lockdown. Not seeing my dad for months on end nearly killed me too. I live alone. The isolation was damaging.

The other reason I’m not too talkative this week. I turned down a funeral through the church two weeks ago. I played for a funeral last Saturday. And there’s another funeral coming up this Saturday and our family knew the deceased.

Music is something I’ve done for most of my life. It used to bring me such joy. Now with COVID, all the fun parts are gone – seeing people, connecting, meeting new people. It’s not the same. And funerals in general are hard. They’re so hard since dad got sick. He’s my only parent left. I’ve lost all my grandparents – years ago.

I’ve even lost some old friends this year. And it sucks when you can’t even go to the funeral because, COVID.

And so, grief has taken form once again. But I wonder – does it ever really go away?

This morning my neighbour was up early at 6:30 am and woke me up out of a dead sleep. I banged on the wall and fell back into a restless sleep. I had nightmares about the house. Bad. Bad. Nightmares. They’re getting worse. And it’s not just me. My siblings – the women – are ALL having similar dreams. But this one – it was like a bad horror movie at the house and my dead mother was the guest star.

Maybe I need to take a break from horror movies. But it’s almost Halloween.

I just emailed the pastor. He offered to have someone else play for the Sunday All Saint’s service and I took him up on the offer. I can’t do a funeral AND a candle lighting service. My emotions are just wrecked.

I don’t think grief ever really leaves us. Especially when it’s someone like your parent or a loved one. I think some days just are just easier than others because you can keep busy and distracted. But every now and then a dream will happen, or a memory is triggered, and you’re right back to where you were when you first lost that person.

Grief. They say time can truly heal, but I think some hurts never really do.

Grief: Until we meet again

The other night, I was feeling senitmental about music from my childhood. I mentioned Vera Lynn in a post about music from the “early days”. Music that my grandfather and mother loved.

My mother was born and raised in London, England until she was fourteen. The family moved to Canada and if you asked her, she would tell you she was a proud Canadian. But her British roots were important to her.

She loved music from artists like Elton John. She was obsessed with anything to do with the Royal Family and Princess Diana. And she, along with my grandfather loved Vera Lynn’s music.

She also loved tea time. She drank Red Rose tea throughout the day. Whenever my grandfather came over, they enjoyed biscuits with jam and a few cups of tea.

I just cried. I honestly, really just cried when I learned that Vera Lynn died at the age of 103. She popped into my head the other night for no reason. I listened to a few of her old songs like We’ll Meet Again.

These songs always make me tear up.

I lost my grandfather, John, who once served on a Navy ship during the war as a cook. He had so many stories to tell of the war and his travels. He was proud of his service – and proud of his family. He died of natural causes in 2007 at the age of 95.

I never met my grandmother – Vi. She died in 1969, even before my sister was born. She never got to meet any of her grandchildren. I think I look a lot like her. I’m always told I look like my mum.

When my grandfather died in 2007, the same week my aunt Esther died – aid I performed at both funerals – the hardest week of my life – mum listened to this music.

I listen to it when I’m thinking of my own mum, who I lost six years ago.

Grief never really leaves you. It never goes away. You never forget the people who loved you the most.

Music has a way of reminding us of that. And today, while listening to “We’ll Meet Again” – I cried for like the millionth time. Because that’s what this song does.

I like to think that there is an after life. A life where we get to see our loved ones again. I don’t know if there is a heaven. But if there is a place like this – I like to think that my mother is enjoying a cup of tea with her parents right now and listening to this music just like I am.

Rest well, Dame Vera Lynn.

You were part of so many memories from my childhood.

Grief: if ye love me

In my line of volunteer work with the church, I’ve play music for a lot of funerals. And because I’ve been at the church as long as I have, I’ve come to know many of the church members and they have become an extended family.

I’ve never been a highly religious person. I’m obsessed with subjects that would be looked down upon in any church – magic, supernatural, divination, alternative healing methods. I was raised Catholic but never paid much attention to it.

The church for me, is about family, food, and learning about my heritage. It’s about making new friends. And it’s pretty much my social activity for the week other than seeing my dad. It’s something that is familiar and has been my home of nearly fifteen years.

Plus, I get to play music once a week. So, that’s a bonus.

A good friend of mine at the church lost her daughter last year and a grandson. We have bonded for years over Sunday morning coffee and chat about all things in life. There are six of us – regulars who are there almost every Sunday no matter what. Even mid winter snowstorms wouldn’t keep these folks away.

But as my friends reach the ages of 80 and even 92, like my beautiful red headed friend, I’m reminded of how precious life is and how short life can be.

After she lost her daughter she said one day on Facebook, and this sentence has really stuck with me since.

“Grief, is love. It really just has no place to go.”

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Everyone says that grief eventually fades over time. But I find the older I get, that’s a lie. The more time that goes on, I seem to miss my mother more than ever. There are definitely days that are harder than others. There are days when it feels like she is right next to me watching me while I work on some project or in the kitchen – which was her favorite place to be.

Sometimes, I hear her voice in my head and go to pick up the phone and call her. Then I remember she’s gone and so I call my dad instead.

It’s been five years almost – and I don’t think gets easier. I think it gets harder as time goes on.

Younger people must have a harder time with loss. Especially children. Over time, you forget what people look or sound like. Thank goodness there are pictures and now videos to remind us of our loved ones. But what about the people we lost before technology came along?

We had a video camera in the 90s which my mum used a lot. But she used it to take videos of family. The grandkids. My sister. She rarely appeared on camera.

And that got me thinking about me. That’s me. I’m usually the one behind the camera taking pictures and I’m fine with that. But then I realized one day – hey. I don’t have kids. I don’t have a family of my very own. I don’t have something to leave behind.

I don’t have an imprint to leave on this world like my mother did with her 5 children and 9 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. That’s a pretty impressive resume, don’t you think? For one person? Creating a legacy that big?

And so, that’s where the inspiration behind “In Her Eyes” came from. My latest album release. It’s a 7 track album with original piano music.

On days where it seems I’m drowning in sorrow or grief, I turn to music for comfort. I sit in quiet contemplation until I hear a song that is so upbeat it gets my toes tapping and I can’t help but smile.

But for moments like this in the morning. When the world is mostly quiet and I’m sitting down with my coffee, wondering what to write about. It’s those moments that I think of my mother. It’s those moments I turn to music to quiet the ever busy mind.

It’s those moments that I get lost in the sounds of violins, cellos, classical guitar, piano and elegant choir voices that sound like angels. It’s these moments that I realize that grief will eventually pass and lead to something — more.

Music is magical. Music has healing powers. Music speaks to the soul. Music – like this. Sacred music shakes you to the core and makes you think about everything you’ve ever done in your life.

This music doesn’t just speak to your soul. It comes from the inner soul. It comes from the heart. It’s the music of angels.


Sacred Music on Spotify