Widows and Orphans

In the world of typography there are all kinds of unique terms. Things that only typesetters, design geeks, editors and the like, pay attention to. For example, it is considered bad form to have one word on a line, all by its lonesome, finishing off a paragraph. This is referred to as a
widow.

Or, if you end up sending that word, and a few others to kick off the next page, then those stragglers are called orphans. Because sadly, they don’t have a mothership paragraph on the new page, that they can call home. The paragraph from whence they came is on a page in the past, yet they can’t just add themselves to the beginning of a new paragraph, it wouldn’t make sense. So they reside at the top of the page, looking forlorn.

Both of these scenarios are attempting to resolve the same issue. Keeping the story looking pretty, without losing any of its meaning. Bridging the gap from one page to the next. It’s just a question of how you write the play. Do you end it with a lonely word, or start the next page with a couple of lost ones?

It’s kind of sad to think about. But when I hear these terms used in relation to my job, it always makes me smile sympathetically, as they are so descriptive, and also because I feel sorry for those little words and their predicaments.

I am now a widow. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the use of this term. It bugged me in the beginning, and it will probably upset me when I mark the box on my taxes, but for what it’s worth, it tells you something about me, it’s a snapshot of my story. Not the whole story. More like the dust jacket.

The deeper story, when you read between the lines, is not as easily defined. The day to day struggles to find footing back on the pages of life. Feeling like the last word at the end of a beautiful poem, and a new word, just written, the timorous beginning of a whole new chapter – a widow and orphan, all at the same time.

This is where I find myself. In the space in-between. Trying to bridge that gap between what was *our* past, with what is now *my* future. A dangling participle, a dangling participant, in the next chapter of my life.