I sometimes feel like I have 2 identities: the me before and the me after my husband, Mike, died. I was originally going to introduce myself by introducing the me before I became a widow but that wasn’t sitting well with me as a first impression. It’s not really who I am today. It is still important to how my current identity developed but it is not all of it. Who I am today is more relevant because it is me in this moment. However, unlike the Before Me who knew who she was and can be described pretty clearly, the Now Me is still a work in progress and therefore harder to explain.
Some parts of me are still straightforward though. I’m 29 years old. I feel like possibly going on 80 sometimes, but nope, just 29. I am a grade 1/2 teacher in Ontario, Canada. I have a dog named Tango who has to listen to me when I share about my day. He’s pretty good at it and he doesn’t interrupt except to give me kisses, which is also acceptable. I love the outdoors and being active. I go for a lot of hikes with my dog and take him cross-country skiing (skijorning) in the winter. I also like mountain biking, snowboarding, running, travelling, cottaging and working out. I don’t particularly love to cook but I love to eat so I’m a pretty decent cook. I do love to bake. And read and write. I have amazing friends and family who I also enjoy spending time with. I’d appreciate adding a few hours in the day so I have time for all the things I want to do. See, I can do “normal.
The thing is, it doesn’t always feel normal. I never planned to do any of those things on my own. That’s where my current identity becomes a little more complex. It’s been over a year and a half now since the day Mike died and I was forced into this new life of mine. I’ve been doing my best to create a new normal and discover myself. I think I have a perspective that most 29 year olds don’t have. I have a changed understanding of what is important and what is not. I don’t care or have time for insignificant drama. I care way less about what anyone thinks about me than I use to. I try to do what makes me happy. I’m more conscience in my decisions and how I spend my time. I take more risks and am more adventurous. Not because I’m trying to hurt myself but because if I’m here only for a short time to live this life then I might as well live it. I’ve made new friends, become closer with some friends and separated myself from some others. I try to be more open and tell people what they mean to me (something that I’ve never been particularly good at). I’ve tried new experiences and put myself in situations out of my comfort zone. If there’s something I want to do then I attempt to make a plan to do it. I can’t wait for another day to live; it might not come.
I can’t say enough how widowhood is certainly not easy. It is really hard. If you were to ask my family and friends how I am doing now they would probably say I’m doing well and even that I’m strong or an inspiration. I find that difficult to grasp. I even feel silly writing it. Being called strong or an inspiration makes me feel like I’m a fake. I still struggle, I still cry, I still find this new life without Mike really difficult. Is that inspirational? I think not. The truth is, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything extraordinary that anyone in my place wouldn’t be doing. The difference is that most people aren’t in my place. My usual response when people tell me that I’m strong is that I never felt like I had any other choice. What was my other option after Mike died other than to get up, figure things out and keep going? It’s not really strong as much as it is necessity.
So here I am (Hi, how are you?). I’m doing what I feel like I have to do but some days I just don’t want to. I’m still figuring things out. I’m a little broken but a little wiser. I’m still sad but also hopeful. I’m maybe even a tiny bit crazy but I’m also more myself. I’m living this life in a way I never thought or wanted to but I’m still doing it. And you know what, I've come to realize that my new life isn’t terrible. It’s definitely different. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good.