I came across a dilemma the other day. Should I change my status to widow on Facebook? I know. I know. I don’t have to do anything, especially in Facebooklandia. And I don’t really want to attract trolls by changing my status, which seems to be a thing in Facebooklandia, or so other widows have told me in online support groups. Still, even to have that as an option kind of, I don’t know, blows me away.
See, at 57, I was a young widow. At 58, I still think of myself as a young widow. I’m at the tail end of mid-life crisis. I haven’t entered social security age yet and I have too many aches and pains to ignore my age. I’m in the flux years, like nineteen, twenty-eight, thirty-nine, etc. I feel too young to have tell people “my husband died”, a sentence I didn’t think I would utter until well into my 80’s. But I do. Utter it. And when I do, it chokes me like a chicken bone trying to get out of my throat. It doesn’t come easy because it’s not easy. Not sure it will ever be easy. Time perhaps will smooth out the passage of the words. Or, maybe not.
All of my inner circle of married friends still have their spouses which makes me feel a bit different, a bit of a novelty. When my circle of lady friends talks about their husbands, I will add in stories of Peter, only to then realize they are stories of the past, not the present. And as time passes, the stories I tell are from a father past. They may one day become nostalgic tales told like childhood memories or wild stories of my 20’s. I do want to share my stories of Peter as a way to connect because I did have a husband, except the connections are spoken in memories. And this is odd to me. This is uncomfortable to me. This is sad to me.
Sometimes, as much as I love my lady friends, I feel there is a certain disconnect with them. Maybe the same disconnect they feel around me. There’s a line that has been broken, a line which was part of the multi-lines that connected us at one time, especially those who I was couple friends with, or knew and loved Peter. I am sure, in time, I will become more comfortable with the severed lines and form new ones. I actually think I have become closer to some friends after Peter died. Probably due to their compassion, but also, there is a certain newness in me I’m finally ready to share. It’ll be different than our “men” eye rolls or our ‘that happened to me to” common ground. It will something new to me, to them, I can share and explain. It will evolve our friendship. Still, I have already said sad good-byes to other friendships after Peter’s death. I think those were the ones where the lines were weak anyway.
I imagine my widowhood status is actually a lot like divorce or remaining single. I mean, I can’t speak fully on either, yet they must feel some of the same emotions. I never want to compare my apples to their oranges. I mean, while our circumstances are different, they’re both fruits of our now existence. However, mine do remain apples to their oranges because I didn’t see any of this coming and I didn’t chose it. Their apples are pains I don’t know. And, well, my singlehood has a different name called widowhood. Widowhood means the loss of your person, in my case, the sudden loss and at a young age. So while we are all single and our circumstances are different, the name remains the same – single.
I still slip into denial of my status as a widow. Last night, for a quick minute, I actually thought Peter was downstairs. Three nights ago, I heard a motorcycle and my heart raced in anticipation of the garage door going up from Peter coming home. About a week ago, I started to tell myself “I’ll have to ask Peter where to plant…” These things happen often. My mind and heart tricks me into believing Peter is alive. When sharing stories of our husbands with the girls, I slip into present tense. That’s the biggest struggle of sudden death, your PTSD tricks you, protects you, lies to you. Even with so many reminders Peter is gone and never coming back, I believe my denial. Even after all the pain in these past thirteen months, I feel myself thinking of Peter in the here and now. Then, when I realize how wrong I am, my heart falls to my belly and I am pained.
Widowhood has a strong association with so much. It’s a hard word to say or put down as a status. As a sudden, young widow, I grapple with it on a daily basis, even trick myself into believing I’m not one. Then the end of the day hits, and in the solace of the night where too much reality covers me, I know I am one. I know I am a widow. I don’t have to change my status to convince myself. My empty soul reminds me.