Portions of the following post are from about a year and a half ago...at the time I really thought I was better, and all things considered I was.
About three years ago I started joking with Michele that I wanted to wear a black t-shirt with word "bitter" printed on it to identify myself as a bitter widow.
She refused to let me, more out of fear of the reaction of my poor grieving family members than anything else, but her point was well taken. Wearing the bitter t-shirt would only be funny if all who saw me wear it could be truly comfortable in the knowledge that I was not actually bitter.
Three years later, on a birthday celebration trip to NYC, we had the t-shirts made and wore them gleefully through Greenwhich Village. I think most people who saw us assumed we were advertising for a beer, which I thought was hilarious! We, however, were giddy with the knowledge that we were not in fact bitter, but we were better. You can't be bitter and hopeful at the same time, and we were hopeful. Life can still be good for us. Different for sure, but good nonetheless. I am thankful for that knowledge every day. If life gives you limes, make margaritas; you can salt the rim with your tears. It will only make the concoction taste sweeter. Michele, thanks for helping me mix the margaritas and salt the rim. They wouldn't taste the same without you.
And now, 5 days before Michele's wedding...I can still say that most days we are much better. Better than we were in 2009 and looking to be "more better" in 2011. The interesting thing to me is this, even with a pending wedding for Michele and a fantastic boyfriend in my own life, you are never fully "better". Although I have a life of my own that I have built these past 5 years, I still have my sad days and I will always have a place in my heart that hurts. It never goes away, and you are never the same woman you were before. I am different, and in some ways I don't think Daniel would recognize this me. I've had to change in ways I'd never have planned and I've learned in a very concrete way what the important things are in life.
Unfairly, I think the world assumes that if you've begun to date or heaven forbid you actually dare to marry again, you must be "over it". Any widow who reads this will laugh out loud at the concept of being "over it". I don't feel I'll ever be over it in the sense that it will be completely gone, resolved, or put behind me. You don't get over it, you get used to it. They say amputees will experience a tingling in their missing limb for decades after it's been removed. If you've lost half of your life, for how long does it tingle? I think it tingles forever. Maybe you don't feel it every day, but certain triggers will make that spot throb intensely, and it can't be helped. We may be better than we were, and even capable of as much happiness, but "over it"? Not likely. We are just forging ahead in spite of it. There is a difference.