The Fraudulent Widow

11_14_11.jpgI have a confession to make.

And to many of you it will sound preposterous.

No doubt many of you will think that I am out of touch, delusional or didn’t have a “good” marriage.

Some of you won’t believe me or won’t want to believe me.

I am not of the widow crowd that believes that my husband, Art, was “my one and only love in my life.” I don’t believe God put me on this earth to only be touched by one man’s life or to touch, mold, distract or teach only one man.

But that’s not my secret. My secret is my life
is
better now that
Art’s
not in it.

It is something that is hard to admit in a widow crowd cause, well, if feels almost blasphemous.

This awakening did not happen in the beginning. I cry every time I learn of a new widow because if I close my eyes, I remember those hollow, confused days. I remember the longing for his hand on the small of my back, or for my aggravation that he never called me by my name but referred to me as “Honey, Sweetheart or Baby.”

I remember wanting nothing more than to smell him again.

I remember knowing only that if I got up, I could go back to bed. And getting back to bed meant that I had done it...Lived through another horrible, no good day. And if I could live through that day, then I could do another. I knew that eventually this rising from and going back to bed would get me some place. I was unclear of where that place was. But I believed those who came before me when they said, "I promise you, it gets easier."

And then, suddenly (for it really did feel like a jolt), I would go a few days with out crying. I could plan, shop for, prepare a meal several days in row before I became that crumbly, un-functional mess again.

And somewhere, the grief became less about missing him and more about living without him, or any man, in my life. The grief changed from losing Art to losing the ground I had previously thought was so firm. It became about learning to live in the uncertainty. It became about facing my own demons now that the grief had laid them open and bare.

The grief became about me, not about him.

I was one of those wives who lost myself in motherhood, wifehood and friend-hood. Occasionally I would look up and see clearly that I had lost myself. Full of my self importance as a wife and mother, I became too afraid of what I might loose if I tried to “find” myself. So I turned away and skipped merrily (but empty) down the wrong road. My life was about making everyone happy, everyone but me.

And now that Art is not here, I can focus on myself. And I like that. I like being able to order whatever I want on the pizza. (Which I don’t do because I am gluten intolerant. Something that I have known for years, but did nothing about because it was easier to put up with a little discomfort than to try to resist the pizza, explain to everyone, every time, why I wasn’t having pizza and preparing something for myself.)

When I look at myself now in the mirror, I see someone who I not only like, but someone who I recognize! I am not the stereotypical lonesome widow, soldering on… bravely without a husband. I can’t stand the assumption that that is all there is in widowhood.

I think I am odd in this. I think that I am different so I play along, sometimes, like the good, longing widow. But I don’t long for him, I long for this new life that approaches. One filled with adventures and frustrations and vigor!

This life would not be possible if Art were still alive. I have seen how quickly life can disappear and I don’t want to spend it longing for or canonizing my wonderful but dead husband.

I do think about him every day but it’s not in a longing way one thinks of when one utters that phrase. It’s in passing, just like when I’m driving in the car and say to myself “Shoot! I gotta remember to call Christina.”

I don’t’ miss him in this life I have built. I am stronger here. I am more me than I ever allowed myself to be in my marriage. I have no one to blame for mistakes made, ramifications for decisions, or words said or unsaid.

If I am afraid, I have to have to look at it. If I don’t’ want to do something, I have to do it or find someone else to. It is all on my shoulders…the good and the bad.

And as a result, I like who I have become. I feel real. I am the phoenix who has risen from the ashes. I am gold and powerful and wise.

The ashes are what got me here, where I go from here is truly under my own power.

I have often said Art’s death was his last and greatest gift to me. Without him dying, I would not have jumped off the cliff
and
discovered
that
instead of
falling,
I am flying!


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