Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm a widow.

I love that one of the ads that Google has temporarily placed in the sidebar of my blog is for Senior Dating. Their web crawler has clearly picked up the word widow on my blog title and it automatically associates "widow" with age. How I wish I was in my 80s or 90s or even 70s and had truly lived a long life with Alan. That is the misconception with widowhood... People are shocked to hear my story, as I would be had it been someone else - and that is one of my greatest challenges on a daily basis. I was two months pregnant when Alan passed away and all throughout the pregnancy, medical technicians referred to my brother-in-law as my husband, and even when he wasn't with me people still referred to my "husband". At prenatal yoga I was asked if "my husband was ready", in my birth class info packets were "one per couple", "here's an opportunity for you, dad, to massage mom". Trying on maternity bras the fitter tried to sell me "sexy" lingerie for the pregnant and breastfeeding woman - "he'll love this", she said. Even on the day of my daughter's birth when nurses couldn't be bothered to read the first THREE lines of my birth plan explaining my situation, they were asking me if I wanted them to get my husband. SURE. I'd love you to go get my husband. Jesus, if they can do that they're in the wrong profession. At the pediatrician, the nurse asked for "dad's occupation" and there's nothing more challenging than having to bring a death certificate to the hospital to verify your child's birth certificate information. I just celebrated Mother's Day and I took my daughter to a local place so we could have our picture taken together and it was at a scrap-booking store. The gentleman there said to me "Maybe now you'll do a scrapbook with all the photos". I smiled, not able to share the truth on a day where I was desperately trying to focus on the joy in my arms, and said "not so sure I'll have much time" to which he replied - "well that's when you hand her over to dad and say 'I'm going to work on this for awhile'". I nodded and lowered my eyes.
I'm actually surprised, - rather, disappointed that in this day-in-age with so many differently structured modern families where there are two moms, single moms who did it "by choice" (that's another entry...), two dads, etc... that people aren't more sensitive to those dynamics. "But you wear a ring" my friends protest - Yep, I still wear my ring. But who's to say what or who it represents. So many assumptions people make - we're a much more old-fashioned society than we care to admit. So when it comes to becoming a widow at age 39 you're an oddity. I was discussing with my other "widowed friends" the awkwardness of laying the news on the ignorant soul who put their foot in their mouth and it's uncomfortable all around. You feel bad for the person who's made the comment and yet it's never going to be as tough for them as it is for the person who must deliver the news. One of my friends said, "so what - let em feel awkward - it's the truth". And it is. The awful, horrifying truth. And you face it day in and day out, and every moment, around every corner, every encounter with someone on the street or on the phone feels unexpected and heightens your anxiety – because we are beyond vulnerable. I get sideswiped with memories, hormones, emotions, smells, someone’s gait from behind, a profile out of the corner of my eye. Alan is everywhere. My heart is swollen with longing and even now, the reality has to be digested over and over and over again. It is an exercise, and one that I am reluctant to practice, though I know I must for my own well being. And it's tougher to do when you get the ignorant comments. And yet, the flipside is that moving forward, away from the tragedy, threatens the loss of memory. And the memories are the ties that bind. There is not a single thing that I wish to forget about my life with Alan, even the horrors we endured and his final days. Those moments were our life together and they were filled with depth that is impossible to put into words. Thankfully, even for me married only ten months, I do feel like the eighty year old widow. Because when I met Alan I felt like I had known him forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments - Unpublished.