Every now and then something seemingly ordinary happens in our widow lives that has so much more meaning. Something that other people would really not think anything of. I had one of these a few weeks ago, when the glass top on our stove cracked.
This was a stove that my new person, Mike, and his late-wife, Megan, had in their house for a decade. A stove that was at the center of a lifetime of meals and memories in their household. And there it was, one evening after making dinner, I noticed something… a huge crack that ran all the way across the top of the glass top surface. After hopeful research, we were both frustrated to learn that a cracked glass top is completely unsafe to keep using.
It wasn’t a particularly triggery or upsetting thing for Mike… he doesn’t tend to go hunting out the symbolic meaning of ordinary household appliances the way I do. This was merely a minor extra annoyance in our life for him. And let’s face it, having to drop everything on your day off to go unexpectedly hunting for a stove bargain was not exactly something exciting or pivotal. Except that for me, it kind of was...
I was very aware, it was a moment in time we were sharing something major. Something that both of us "should" have been doing with someone else who isn't here anymore. That together, here we were, in the midst of our "plan B" journey - with a new milestone of adult life.
In a really dorky way, I found myself excited to be darting around at the hardware store looking at various stoves with him. Mike having bought stoves before, this was not nearly as pivotal of a moment - and he found my delight in it all quite endearing. Weighing the color options, features and prices of each one… after a while I finally realized, this was the first large appliance purchase of my ENTIRE adult life. And secondly, that means that I never, ever got to this point in my relationship with Drew.
We were apartment dwellers, and though we were hoping to get a house in the next few years, well, death happened instead. So there I am, for the first time, shopping for stoves with the man I love… the new man I love. Though it made me a little bit sad to think that Drew and I never got to all these seemingly mundane things like appliance purchases, it made me grateful to be having the experience with someone I love still.
It made me feel so incredibly aware that I am still here. That I have found love again after loss - when I once believed I’d be too broken for anyone to ever love again. It made me grateful for the privilege to get to share this seemingly mundane moment in adult life with my new partner, who often tells me how easy I am to love. And best of all, it made me happy to be able to share my feelings with him about the whole thing - and why, for me, a stupid stove was so exciting and deep.
It’s something most take for granted as an annoying chore. And I know it's something that for anyone widowed could be a potential landmine of emotions to have to do. But for me, grief gave a different meaning. And I was surprised that it wasn't more upsetting. Often times new milestones with Mike are very difficult and emotional. Moving in with him was INCREDIBLY triggery and sad and upsetting and hard and felt like loss all over again because I had never gotten there with Drew. It was not the joyful, happy experience most people like to think of when you move in with the one you love. The joy was there in little moments, and has grown over time, but initially, it was fucking traumatizing.
So to go from that reaction to having actual excitement over a new milestone was pretty huge for me. I may have never gotten to houses and new stoves with Drew, but I’m still here, and I’m so glad to have the chance to experience new milestones with Mike. I’m glad that I can share how significant these little things are with him. And I’m glad that now, 6 years later, I can still feel Drew is a part of it all, and that he is happy watching this next chapter of my life and all the new experiences it will provide. And actually... he is no less a part of anything than he ever was, which has surprised me over the years. I thought he would become less and less a part of my world - but it wasn't so. It changed when he died. It shifted, became a new way of being in my life. But he never faded. He is still in daily conversations. His presence is still felt. And I think for the rest of my days he will not fade any from my life. This is what makes having milestones without him a little easier I think.
For anyone out there who is scared their person will just continue fading and fading from their life after death, I hope it brings comfort to know that, 6 years after Drew's death, he is still so present with me. And completely integrated into my new life and my new little family in a beautiful way. And he has not faded out of existence at all - because I remember him and celebrate our time together and mention him probably at least once a day - even if it just means passing a street sign with his name. Mike's daughter knows him as if she knew him in real life practically, and it's as if he is now some crazy helicopter-flying uncle that she never met. I've now lost the fear that he will ever leave my heart or become some silent unknown from a past life I led. In that way, it seems milestones in my new life with Mike are beginning to feel tinged less with sadness or fear, and more fully and completely joyful.
On a side note...
It also helps that this new stove is GORGEOUS, and every morning when I walk into the kitchen I swoon at it in all its sexy black and stainless steel glory. I'm saying, I LOVE this stove. It wasn't expensive, but it looks so much fancier than our old, plain white stove. I love it like I never knew I could love a large hunk of metal. And while yes, this is funny, I'm also finding the deeper meaning there too...
So often, we are all guilty of just "making do" and not really treating ourselves. Mike and I are pretty bad about that a lot of the time. But sometimes, it's really worth it to tell yourself you deserve something more than just what "does the job". Especially after all we have been through as widowed people, why not choose to surround ourselves with things that are more than just "okay", but instead things that we love and appreciate? Things that bring us joy when they would otherwise be mundane? Obviously we can't just go replacing all of our household appliances now - lol - but the stove was a reminder... just to pay better attention to even the smallest ways to treat ourselves to something new, bring ourselves joy and love ourselves better. That could be a vacation we'd have never taken before, a new haircut, something new to brighten our home, a walk in a park we've never been to, taking up a hobby we've always wanted to try... endless things. Even a small bit of that goes a long way in the heart.