I am a woman, a writer and a widow. That said; I always identify as the first, sometimes the second and rarely the third. I know women who wear their widow’s “W” like a badge of honor, I am not one of them. Having been widowed does not define me, but it has changed me. The journey has been filled with surreal and surprising moments and is not over. There have been many times during the past four years when I would have benefited from hearing from women who’d experienced this radical shift in being. Perhaps I can be that voice for you.
I was relatively young (for a widow), having just turned 50, when without warning my world imploded. Married for seventeen years, I had built my life around my husband and my marriage. I was not born to be a bride, far from it. I never put a pillowcase on the back of my head and dreamed of a perfect wedding. I was a child of divorce and of the 1970s. My ideal future was a mash-up of Mary Richards’ studio apartment, Ann Marie’s wardrobe, and friends; lots and lots of friends. And lo and behold, that describes my twenties to a T. I had great romances and tons of fun and never longed for more. But then I met him, the most unlikely of marital candidates. My husband was 19 years my senior, newly divorced, and from a completely different cultural and religious background than my own. What can I say? He was the sleepover date I never wanted to leave. We wed on the one year anniversary of our first date.
While I was always aware of the probability of he predeceasing me, nothing could’ve prepared me for the reality of: those first vulnerable steps outside my door when I felt as if my skin was as thin as paper; the fear, confusion and anger of those first few months; the missteps and misguided attempts at creating some semblance of a new life. Nor could I possibly have foreseen the joy, love and peace that I discovered as well.