“Far from ideal”…just one phrase uttered by my friend Margaret during a recent conversation about the state of our lives well into year three of losing our husbands. It caught my ear because indeed…so much of our world now is far from ideal.
We realized too during that conversation that our lives with our husbands were probably not always ideal either. No relationship is really perfect…Mike wasn’t perfect and neither am I, and we did clash sometimes. But the reason why my widowhood is such a part of me; the reason I continue to write about it and find solace with other widows is because of how special he was to me. Even with all the flaws, my marriage was unique and can never be replaced.
The musician has never suffered grief like mine, and we talk about it at length sometimes. He tries hard to understand it. He never questions my feelings or the decisions I’ve made about keeping pictures and things of Mike’s around. If he did, it wouldn’t work. I should never be made to feel like I have to erase Mike from my life because of a new relationship. If someone does that to a widowed person or anyone who has suffered a great loss they are not worth the time, in my opinion. But I think more than anything it’s hard for him to see me in pain. And I get that. I explained that the nature of my grief - the ways I miss Mike, and what I’m feeling any given day - can change. But it will always be there in some form.
Does everyone who was widowed suffer like I do? He wondered one day. Well, maybe not, I suggested. The term “merry widow” is there for a reason. Surely there are people out there that suffered marriages so far from ideal that the loss results in relief. In fact, I have talked to people like that. It always hurts my heart to imagine that the marriages had brought such misery, but there it is. But that is not the case for me. If I could have Mike back, I would. I feel very much like the life I thought I had was ripped out from under me, and I’ve just been building upon the wreckage ever since. No one - I mean NO ONE will ever understand all the little things we shared and the loss of that companion in my life is horrifying.
I know now though that there can be good things even despite my loss. There are aspects of my life that would never be, if he were still here. I have had opportunities and made decisions I would never have before. And I have been forced to grow stronger around that scar tissue. I’ve had to reach back into the person I used to be and grab pieces of myself for the reconstruction. That is because I know I did lose myself in my marriage a little. I sank deep into the comfort of the man who was Mike; I wove myself around him and through him, losing bits as I went along. I did so voluntarily, but the fact is, after he died I was a hollow shell of myself. It has taken this long for me to finally see some success in the rebuilding process. The rebuilding of myself, even as it is still far from ideal.
I will never be the person I was ever again. The confident, strong, fun-loving person I was before I met Mike is gone. Gone because that innocence is also gone. I had no idea what it would be like to suffer a blow like losing him, but now I do. Now I am battle-worn and battle-weary. I am stung, and hardened, but I am also more careful, and more compassionate.
Far from ideal. Yeah. So much of the world is. I can say the same of my own life…and yet, in knowing this, perhaps I will find peace through the imperfect, and wisdom through the pain.