Archive for the 'Widows’ Stories' Category

identity
Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

More info, less whining:

I am in a good place right now. I have wonderful opportunities in front of me, and I think that I have finally come to terms with Eric’s passing. For both of those milestones, I am extremely grateful.

However, in moving from merely surviving to living, I am faced with a whole new quandary: how will I now identify myself? For the past year, my life has been a harrowing test of clinging onto sanity’s cliff by one finger…and now that I am safely off of the ledge, I find myself questioning which roles I should assume. I proudly wore the guise of doting girlfriend and supportive wife for almost ten years…and now I am in a strange new place where I’m not quite sure how to act, and I’m not even sure of how to define myself.

Thusly, I am trying on new roles like a five-year-old playing dress up in her mother’s closet. However, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that, at twenty-six years of age, I should have all of this figured out already.

As I try to move on with my life, I am chained to an invisible weight of guilt. I plan to start having a social life, and have started caring about my appearance again, and wanting to seem attractive to others…but even as I put on makeup where there was none for so many months, I can’t help but feel as if I am cheating on my lovely Eric. I know that the guilt is unfounded, and that he would want me to be happy, but those thoughts do little to assuage the feelings of infidelity.

I am so fortunate to finally have reached this plateau, but it seems as if I have traded one problem for another.

I can’t believe that it has been almost a year that he has been gone.

I need some direction. Widowhood is a long and arduous journey, and I have reached yet another crossroads…

avoidance
Friday, February 16th, 2007

I live in the realm of
my mother’s discomfort.

Speaking to her of
a husband’s death,
the emptiness of a home,
how slowly the bed warms up at night,
she withdraws.

Talk of empty refrigerators,
of dishwashers that are ran only half-full,
of trying to fill the time once spent
building the foundations of a new family,
ends abruptly at the emotional brick wall
that she has built.

Her silence regarding
all things widowhood
speaks volumes:
Surely, this won’t ever
happen to her.

Moving on in 2007
Friday, December 29th, 2006

Dear Eric:

I struggle to find a way to communicate with you in a way that comes close to the connection that we had when you were still living. Whereas we could once look into each other’s eyes and hold an entire conversation without uttering a sound, I now find myself speaking to you in the car, or walking in the park near my apartment, or at your grave. Oftentimes, those one-sided conversations gain me many odd, quizzical stares from the living who happen to be walking near me or idling beside me at a stoplight. And then I retreat, embarrassed that I have demonstrated to the world one more time that yes, the loss of you has made me crazy.

And so I return to the internet to send you a message. I have no idea if you still exist, or if you can read what I am typing on this page, but I know for certain that if there is a heaven you are there, and if heaven exists then it almost certainly has high-speed internet (for how could it be Paradise without a nice broadband connection?)

I should write that these past months have made me a stronger person. I remember telling you many, many times as I dressed your central line, gave you injections, or helped you take the dozens of pills that were a sad daily ritual for you that these trials made you tough-as-nails, and gave us a rock-solid marriage to boot.

I was wrong. I’m sorry.

It turns out that some things just plain suck, and there’s not a lot of personal gain to be achieved from having to endure them. Losing you has been the single biggest challenge that I think I might ever face in my life, and there has been more than one time this year that I’ve felt weaker and more vulnerable than I ever had before. I don’t deal well with stress right now; I take medicine every day to help keep me sane and to control the vague and irrational fears that have rooted into my brain since your early departure. I used to say that I was afraid of nothing, and now I fear my apartment getting broken into, my pets dying, someone jumping out of the bushes to kidnap me when I walk the dog at night…I know that none of this makes sense, but I just felt so much safer when you were with me.

But I’m really trying hard to hang in there, to create a life that you would be proud of. True, some days I am merely clinging to the cliff of sanity by my pinky finger, but I haven’t let go–not yet. I should be hearing any day now about which graduate schools have accepted my application for admission–it was always so important to you that I had the chance to pursue a career where I might find more fulfillment than I do at my present job. I’ve created a pretty little home with your artwork, and have started creating my own images and crafts because it was always something that brought you so much joy. There’s even the dog that we talked about owning–she is a mutt, not the beagle that we had talked about, but I’m sure that if you met her it would be love at first sight. In fact, there are some days that I think you must have sent her for me–how else could I explain the random nature in which she wandered into my life?

And so, Eric, I dedicate the upcoming year to you, and to living in your honor. This whole experience has not made me a more religious person, but it has made me a more spiritual person. I pray that we both heal and grow stronger in our own respective worlds.

But, 2006, I have this to say to you: you took my best friend and partner, the happy little home that we had created together, my health and even my sanity at times–but I *am* clawing my way back.

2006, you kicked me when I was down, but I’m not done yet.

Now, get the hell out of here.

Bridesmaid Blues: Memories of a Love Lost.
Monday, October 30th, 2006

Next week, I’ll be serving on bridesmaid duty for the first time for a very good friend of mine who I’ve known for almost eight years. And I’d be lying out my teeth if I didn’t say that I am having mixed feelings about the whole thing. I love my friend, and I am truly happy for her and her fiance, who is a hell of a guy. But this will be my first wedding after my husband’s death, and I can’t help but think that being surrounded by a lovey-dovey celebration of couplehood is going to make me extremely sad and/or bitter. I can try my best to remain positive and be the supportive friend that I so desperately wish to be–but I don’t know if I realistically will be able to escape the memories of my own wedding and romance for the entire day. And I cannot promise to anyone, even myself, that I can be happy with memories of a marriage that was cut far too short, and a love that I am so desperately missing right now that I am moved to tears over just about anything.

Truth be told, I have been lashing out over the most minute things lately. Will this attitude continue at the wedding? I am so nervous that I will not be able to hold it together during the festivities, or that my presence will cast a pallor over the event.

The best accessory for this bridesmaid? A mini-tube of vaseline–so that I can maintain a constant smile through my tears. Like a pageant contestant, I’ll march down the aisle with my poofy dress and my vaseline perma-smile under my tears. People get sappy at weddings, right? This shall be my excuse and my disguise, all wrapped up in a tiny parcel from the drugstore…

Black Heart; Black Funny Bone.
Monday, October 30th, 2006

During a recent personal trip to Pennsylvania, I realized that my husband’s passing had imparted a sense of humor to me that was so black and dark that others simply refuse to understand it. The trip was overall a successful one–most of my time was spent visiting with family and friends. There was only one hiccup throughout the entire weekend, when I was sitting in a local bar with a mixed group of about seven friends and acquaintances:

Friend: What do you do when you’re out with your friends and some weird guy comes onto you and will NOT take the hint and leave you alone?

Me: Well…I have a comment, but it will probably only be appropriate to me…

Friend: No, go ahead…we all know each other here…

Me: (said in the most sarcastic way possible) Just tell the guy that your husband just died. I *guarantee* that no one else will hit on you for the rest of the night.

(insert sounds of crickets chirping, tumbleweeds rolling, and jaws hitting the table here)

Looks like I need to work on a few things before I’m approved for a mixed social setting again. Yeah.

Unexpected Moments.
Monday, October 30th, 2006

Last weekend, I realized that I simply cannot shop at the Somerset, PA Wal-Mart Supercenter anymore. For some unknown reason, I become a stark-raving lunatic whenever I enter through the automatic sliding doors.

Take, for example, this excerpt from a post I wrote last spring, recounting an experience that I had immediately following Eric’s death at Chez Wally-World:

For the most part I am stoic on the outside—although most ironically, it was that soulless bastion of consumerism that is Wal-Mart that finally brought me to my knees. I did not cry at the funeral home or church or cemetary when we were planning your services. However, I fucking lost it in the Men’s Underwear Department. Your undertaker had asked that I purchase some underwear for you to wear since my parents forgot to grab some—and I was carefully picking out the very best, combed-cotton undershirts (the ones without the scratchy tag in back) and the very nicest socks and briefs that Wally World had to offer. I think that the gravity of the whole thing hit me when I thought, “I had better pick out the most comfy stuff since he’ll be wearing them a long time.” More than one shopper saw me blubbering away, hunched over the blue shopping cart with a pair of men’s microfiber dress socks in my hand. Clean-up on Aisle 5!!

And last weekend, I had gone into the maw of the beast for the simple, quick purchase of a photo frame. Trying to avoid running into old high-school classmates (one of the pitfalls of going into the only large store in an entire rural county is that there is always someone that you know in said store, who Really Wants to Catch Up), I cut through the cosmetics aisle to reach the home department. And therein I found my downfall.

Mixed in with all of regular make-up products was a special section of Halloween accouterments. There were sparkly fake eyelashes, face paints of every color, and crazy wigs. There were also Goth-style nail polishes with mini-tombstones as the bottle topper.

And then I noticed the promotional photos on the product packaging. Each model was carefully made up to look cheerfully dead. I saw the artificial asphyxiation pallor created with Blue #2 and White Base make-up. I saw the rows and rows of products that made death look like a fun party gag.

Then, I went a little bit crazy. I picked up a handful of mini R.I.P. Tombstone Death nail polishes and said loudly, “Death isn’t fun. Death isn’t FUNNY!”

And the lady at the other end of the aisle looked at me furtively, then quickly shuffled into the next aisle.

Yeah. I am definitely on my way to becoming the next crazy lady of Somerset.