The abruptness of the empty nest season can make you feel a little like you are back in middle school and overnight your best friend stops liking you and is now hanging out with a new set of friends while you sit at the lunch table alone, hoping someone, anyone, will set their lunch tray down at your table and slide in next to you.
Joann Filomena is October’s (and our very first) Reimagining featured profile. Joann is a professionally certified life coach and weight loss coach, as well as producer and host of the Widow Cast podcast and author of two books, Widowed and The Widow Coach. Through her business, Joann The Life Coach, she trains and certifies widows to become Widow Life Coaches.
Joann Filomena says about every 20 years she has the opportunity to reimagine her life.
“From 20-40 I was a wife and mom raising a daughter in northern California,” she said. “After my divorce, I met and married my second husband, Jim, moved to the Bronx and we were married 20 years. That was my second reimagined life. The third reimagined life I will have, the next 20 years, will be coaching.”
Joann’s husband, Jim Filomena, died suddenly at the end of 2014, and as she sat alone on New Year’s Eve, less than 48 hours after his death, two thoughts went through her mind: Jim didn’t know when they celebrated 2014 that it was going to be his last year, and she had no way of knowing if 2015 would be the last year of her life.
She’s really the best dog, ever–loyal, playful, and always eager to greet me each time I walk through the door. There’s just one thing that has become a problem over the last months, she’s also very eager to greet skunks who wander into my backyard in the early morning hours.
I’ve lived in my house just under two years and in that time, Scout, my five year old Golden Retriever, has managed to come nose to nose, or nose to tail, with two skunks. The first time, I smelled her before I even saw her. I’d let her out and within minutes the smell of skunk wafted through the house. I walked to the backdoor and saw Scout whimpering with her nose pressed against the glass.
Recently I returned from Virginia to visit my newly married son and his wife. I was riding high with good feels from seeing the kids thriving in their new surroundings. For two days I had dinner around their table, visited their workplaces and church, and explored with them the places they enjoy on the weekends. It was tough, but I tried to not be clingy at the airport as I said goodbye.
I saw her necklace from across the room; the silver, heart-shaped pendant had a large picture on it–much bigger than you’d see in a locket. I walked closer so that I could make out the picture. It was worn by a frail, elderly woman, considerably thin, neatly dressed although her clothes looked too big for her frame. I introduced myself and told her I had admired her necklace from across the room. She brought her hand up to it and held it out.
“It’s a picture of me and my husband,” she said. “I lost him earlier this year. Wearing this makes me feel close to him.”
When I asked her how long she and her husband had been married, she told me they’d been married 71 years.
“I was 15 and he was 21 and about to leave for the service,” she said.
“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” This quote by S. Parkes Cadman, American clergyman and newspaper writer, reminds me of how when my children were little they saw the world, full of surprises and abundant with miracles.
I would crack open eggs week after week and only think of how I needed to get breakfast made and the kids out the door to school on time. They say mystery, the hand of God, and often reminded me to stop and look at the stars or to notice how the full moon lit up the yard, or they could get me to laugh when I had been in a bad mood all day –now that was really a miracle. Continue reading