My Husband is Dead and So I Have 1,670 Books on My To-Read List

Mere minutes ago, I added two more books to my to-read list on GoodReads. That brings my total up 1,670.

That’s one thousand six hundred and seventy books I hope to read at some point in my life.

I’ve been averaging about 50 books a year so if I don’t add another volume, I can probably get through them all by the time I’m 74. But let’s be real, I will most certainly be adding another (couple hundred) volumes.

Why My To-Read List is Out of Control

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my to-read list lately. I almost made a resolution that I would not add anything more to it in 2017; I would spend the year simply trying to work my way through the titles I’d already earmarked.

But then I decided against that.

I really enjoy adding books to my list. It is something that, quite frankly, gives me a lot of joy. However, I wasn’t exactly sure why until recently.

My working theory had been that I liked reading because it was an escape. It provided something to do late at night when I was otherwise inclined to feel alone and sorry for myself. And I still think that’s true, but I no longer think that is why I feel a compulsion to keep adding books I will almost assuredly never get around to reading.

Instead, I’ve decided this: It’s not a love of reading that has led me to have 1,670 books on my to-read list. It’s the delicious world of possibilities and options that list presents.

Death Closes the Door on Other Options

When my husband died, it closed – no slammed – the door on so many possibilities in my life.

• No more LaPonsie babies
• No photos of Daddy/Daughter dances
• No opportunity to be a stay-at-home (vs. a work-at-home) mom
• No in-home handyman
• No accessible confidante
• No coordinating Social Security benefits

Death wiped out so many options – from the profound to the practical. Instead, I feel as though I have been set on a very specific path from which there is little, to no, possibility of diverging.

I will always be a single parent.
I will always be solely responsible for the bills.
I will never have someone else to collaborate with on family matters.
I will retire alone.

Yes, yes. Never say never. I never could have imagined at age 20 that I’d be a widow at 35, and life may certainly steer me in a different direction in the coming years. But this is how it feels right now. It feels like I have no options.

So back to my never-ending to-read list. I think the reason I love it and the reason I keep adding to it is because it gives me options. It makes me feel like in this one small part of my life in which I have choices and plenty of them. Even more than that, I have control. And control is hard to come by when you’re a single parent with only so many hours in the day and a plate piled with obligations.

Filling the Hole with Purses and Books

Now that I’ve come to this realization, it’s easy for me to look back and see why I was so smitten with Miche purses for a while. There was definitely a retail therapy aspect to it, but I always wondered why I went crazy for purses of all things. I’d never been the slightest bit interested in them before. Now I can see that it wasn’t the purses so much as it was the options presented by this particular brand of purse.

I’m not sure there is any deep lesson here (or even a point) although I wish I had recognized why I was drawn to the purses back when I spending my nights crawling eBay for new shells to buy. If I had, maybe I could have shifted to library books earlier and saved myself a lot of money.

Cher, if you figure out how to turn back time, let me know.