I've heard that statement countless times in the past almost 4 years. I wondered early on, "what do widows look like then?" I knew what I thought they looked like before: old, black dress, and so very sad and lonely. Well, I had the sad and lonely part down pat. Old and a black dress? Not so much.
At conference this year, I got a good glimpse of what widows look like. Here are three of us. We look old, sad, lonely don't we? ;) Okay there are a couple of black dresses here, but this ain't your grandma's black dress!
That one comment, or a variation on it, continues to be stated over and over as the years pass. "I would have never thought....", "You are just so young....", "You seem to be doing so well...." etc. I guess if we aren't crying in our drinks all the time, wearing a lumpy black dress, or looking more than a bit haggard we aren't recognizable as widows. I have described this condition in the past as being sort of invisibly mummified - no one can see the dangling torn bandages but you, but they are there. The bruises and bumps of grief in many of us aren't outwardly apparent. They are there nonetheless.
I guess I'd rather not be immediately recognized as a widow, if looking like a widow means terminal unhappiness, misery, and haggardness. But, I do wear my invisible scars as a badge of honor. I did not choose this path, but I have become something I would not have otherwise. Given the choice, I'd rather be the weaker, untested, old-me, with my healthy and happy husband by my side. Not given the choice, I will be proud of what I have done in the face of such a challenge. I will take my limes and make margaritas for my girls any day. Care to join me?