The other week I saw this meme on Instagram about dying and not wanting the person you’re with to be happy afterwards and about how they should get in the casket and die too. It was framed in a “funny” way and meant to be a joke but I didn’t find it funny at all. I felt defensive, like it was an attack on me and other widows who have fought so hard to find happiness again. I felt like I was being judged and that made me mad. Then I thought: That’s stupid to care about what others think and I don’t care. People who haven’t experienced that type of loss yet are very blissfully ignorant and very immature. People who liked that and tagged their partners (including people I follow and “friends”) are pretty much idiots and have no idea what it’s like. I almost pity them to have that outlook on life and the happiness of the person they apparently love should something happen to them. Which reality check: either you or your partner will end up in this position at some point unless you (very unlikely) have some kind of joint Notebook death.
The thought of others finding it funny made me think though. Was there a time I would have found this to be funny? I certainly couldn’t relate to the humour now but would I have before? Would Mike have related to it? Would I have been one of those people who “liked” it or tagged their partner? Was there truth in it? So much in such a silly, stupid meme.
Perhaps one of the most helpful things I’ve learned in a little over 5 years of widowhood is this…
I don’t have to be anything different, feel anything different, aspire to anything different…before going and doing whatever it is that I feel I must do to live this life without Chuck.
I don’t have to have hope. I don’t even know what that looks or feels like.
I don’t have to have faith. Seriously, I have no clue what faith is, especially as related to religion. Which I shed many years ago in any case, with no interest in returning to.
I don’t have to have confidence. Mostly, since Chuck died, the road I’m on diverges and changes at any given moment. I’m living a life completely removed from the life he and I lived, even as we spent our last 4 years living full time on the road. I started out on my own not having a clue, and, though I believe I present a fully confident face to the world, each day is another day of figuring it all out. Even if I have some of the technical stuff figured out, about living in a trailer, the emotional components leave me, often, wandering in circles.
I don’t need to feel any of these to do what I’m doing.
Then what do I need? What does get me through each day and each night?
I get that question a LOT.
It’s quite simple, at least to me.
I met Megan when I was only twenty-two years old. I was fresh off of my active duty tour as a Marine, having been in the communications specialty for the past four years. My “job” was, effectively, IT, just as it is now.
I was ready to “settle down” already. I had met a good woman, I was back home, with four years experience in my career field and only a car payment as debt. While I hadn’t (and still haven’t) ever stepped foot onto a college campus (well, as a student at least), in the data communications field, experience is worth more than any diploma.
I was set. All I had to do is land a lower level job, pay my dues and work my way up in the field. It would be an easy path to a successful, stable career. Megan and I were married less than three years after meeting, bought a house, and continued on, with Shelby arriving a few years later.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say I felt “stuck” by the time Shelby was born. I couldn’t even switch jobs, let alone career paths, because we couldn’t go more than a week without health insurance. We had built up some additional car payments, mortgages, and bills, and a newborn isn’t exactly cheap, even with help from family.
The feeling continues.