On February 5th, 2015, I wandered into a Hotel in Tampa, Florida, not quite sure if I was supposed to be there. I had lost Megan less than three months prior, and I hadn’t honestly accepted the fact that I was now a Widower. In the year leading up to it, I had spent more time sitting next to my dying wife than anything else.
Like many of us, I was searching for answers to hypothetical questions. “Who am I now?” and “What am I supposed to do?” served only as constant reminders that, well, “I don’t know” was the only answer.
Almost three years later, and the questions, and the answers, are still the same. What has changed, and what I’ve learned in that time is that we will never know the answer, but we are always inching closer to it.
I’ve gained titles and identifiers in three years. I’ve retained some. I can say that I’m a father, writer, and boyfriend. I’ve lost some titles, or had the importance of them reduced. I’m no longer a “husband” in the legal sense. I’m certainly not the “caretaker” that I once was. The title of “widower”, that I once posited would be my sole identifier on my tombstone has seen its importance diminished over time. Most of these are fluid. They become more important with time, or less.
The answer to “Who am I now” will never be set in stone. I can only use the operative word “now”, with the relatively recently gained knowledge that next week, the answer will be something different.
What am I supposed to do? Well, that question was slightly easier for me to answer. “Try things!” was the conclusion I reached. Try, I did. I started up a blog. It was basically a series of writings, bitching and moaning about the fact that my wife died, but it was something to do, that miraculously made me feel a little better about life for ten minutes. I bought plane tickets and a registration to Camp Widow, totally out of my character to even consider, but I figured what the hell, I’d give it a shot...things couldn’t get any worse, right?
If I considered myself an introvert and private person prior to Megan’s death, I definitely felt it odd that I was sharing my emotions and attending a large social gathering afterwards. In those first few, raw months though, my mind was going from “good idea, bad idea, good idea, bad idea” so rapidly that the answers short circuited. It wasn’t until I attended Camp, and shared my writing that any clarity began to surface.
There are no answers for everyone, and there is no single answer for anyone. That is the point I am trying to make. Life happens, you do things, and the best you can hope for is to have the mental fortitude to look back at it with an unbiased perspective. In everything that sucks about losing your heart, for me, it is best to vent it all out with written aggression and coarse words, then find a silver lining. In my case, it’s a simple statement: Megan's illness, lung rejection, and subsequent death left me a pitiful, confused, single father, with a lot of regrets, but at least she isn’t suffering anymore. At least Shelby is a healthy, smart, stoic, and curious young woman. I found a new title of “writer” out of all of this muck, especially when Michele invited me to contribute my wandering words to Widow’s voice not long after that first camp.
Things just might be OK.
It was by no means an answer to who I am or what I was supposed to do. But it was a start. After three years of being a widower, I am ever so slightly closer to finding the answers. But I know that I will never find it, which has brought me closer to an answer. As the answer draws more near, the question expands proportionally. Feeling the inception yet? Time and experience is neither a positive or negative feedback loop. It’s just a series of experiences and events. A way to measure a sequence of questions and answers. Who I am and what do I do now are questions that will always be asked, possibly almost answered, and then asked again. The questions of “What I was” and “What I did” are resolved.
I digress. I’m trying to get all philosophical, possibly to a fault. It happens sometimes when I’m writing. I search so hard for depth and perspective on a point that I begin rambling and over complicating what should be a simple anecdote. I lose sight of the tree in the grand expanse of the forest. The metaphors that I relate to a given event, experience, sight or sound become overanalyzed and...
I’m doing it again, aren’t I?
Look. Megan died three years ago on the 19th. When it happened, I thought I would be a miserable, confused, introverted widower for the rest of my life. I tried writing about it, and attending this wacky (for me) thing called “Camp Widow” on an impulse. Now, this coming Friday, I am adding the title of “presenter” to my “who am I now” question, by participating in the writer's panel at Camp Widow, along with Kelley and Sarah. I am answering the “what am I supposed to do” question not with “I don’t know”, but with “we’ll see”.
I hope I don’t ramble.