Labels are words that used to describe ourselves and others - a way to quickly and efficiently identify traits and tendencies.
When I think about the labels used to describe or identify me, the one that gives me most to think about is 'widow'.
Initially, I despised this branding. I hated the term and what it meant - that my husband was dead. I didn't see myself as the typical widow in black gracefully and wisely fading into the background. I wasn't sure if my personal portrayal of this word was proper or made me a 'good widow'. Somehow this term seemed to mean to me that I had failed.
Over time this feeling has changed. Now I wear this name tag with a little bit of pride and a lot of awe. I have made it this far. Two and a half years ago I would never have believed it. I did not think I would genuinely laugh again. I would not have imagined that I would enjoy life and all its' mysteries. It astounds me.
At the risk of sounding pompous, I am kind of proud of myself. I am stronger that I ever thought possible. I'm not a warrior, but a widow. And I have chosen to get out of bed each morning despite believing that the last morning that mattered had already happened. The loss of my husband has taught me that there are few things in life to be feared and that taking a leap of faith is far less terrifying as I once thought.
Now that I carried the 'medal' of widowhood, I wonder how long do I get to wear it? In five years, does the noun 'widow' get taken from me and get replaced with 'widowed'. Will it cease to be a label and instead become a verb? If I ever enter a relationship again, do I stop being a widow and become one of the ones on Facebook with the status of "Married"? I feel that I would be both....Would "It's complicated" be offbase?
I now wear my label as a mark of my late husband. An etching of "Jeff was here" in my perverbial bark. Although I may be ready for another label or two, I would like to keep my hard-earned 'widow badge', thank you very much.