Friday, July 9, 2010 the way

Photo from Auburn University

I am seeing all sorts of old and familiar faces since we moved back to my hometown. It's been great getting reacquainted with now-grown children of my youth. We discuss how the town has changed. That the one stop light in town is no longer the one stop light in town. Gossip about the nastiest boy in our class has changed and where he is now.
I find it so very interesting to know who or what the townsfolk have become, who they've married and how many children they've had. Looking at the faces of their little ones makes me grin seeing the familiar face of their parents as children staring right back at me.
Somehow during the conversation I seem to blurt out, almost Tourette's like, "My husband died."
I feel like a dork when I say it. But I can feel it building inside me like a burp and suddenly spew it out at my long-lost aquaintance. The moment after resembles the pause that I could imagine occurring if I had indeed loudly belched in their face. My burped words seem to echo between us.
If I somehow manage to come away from our brief visit in the parking lot without this almost involuntary admission, I feel as if I have mislead the other person somehow. That they are missing some huge part of the puzzle. But if I include it, it's an echo invoker.
I still, after two years, do not know what is the appropriate way to include this humungous tidbit into a brief summary of my life.....and socially, I don't know if any one really wants to know?
I wonder, is this normal? Do other widow/ers have this compulsion? Should I try to stop?


  1. I used to feel the same way. Many of the people I blurted it out to were strangers...the unsuspecting mailperson, a cashier at the grocery or someone new I met. I am 5 years out now and actually feel a freedom in choosing who I tell. For so many years it seems people looked at me with that pity, if they don't know, I don't have to tell them. Sure is it a big part of my life and who I am...YES! But now I feel comfortable letting it be a part of who you learn I am as we get to know eachother. Sometimes the look on their faces is even more burp like, but most times it's compassionate because they've come to know me. Granted, it took me three or four years to come to this practice. It works for me now.

  2. Well said. I think you are perfectly normal. After only 4 months I always feel compelled to tell people I encounter, even strangers, that my husband is dead. I realized the other day that telling people is my indirect way to shield myself from any questions about marriage, etc.

    I'm glad you are settling back into familiar ground.

  3. You describe it so perfectly... I do the same thing!

  4. I have that! Don't know that there IS a socially appropriate way. I feel like I'm lying if I don't say it, but feel like I am sharing something far too personal and private if I do. So far (the year anniversary is this weekend), I tend to avoid all people who don't know and would want to engage in small talk of any kind.

  5. Apparently this is normal which is a huge relief to me. I constantly feel this way. It always ends with an awkward response regardless of how or when I do it.

  6. I agree with what widowisland said above too. I had it for a long, long time. Probably a solid 2-3 (or 4?) years. But in this past year or two--it'll be 5 years on Monday--the "echo invoker" response from people has gotten so old that I now have control over my verbal vomit and I choose not to say anything much of the time, unless I want to.

    You'll get better at being able to control it over time and willingly choosing when to say it vs. when it just "burps" out of you. (Love those descriptions too, btw, Jackie =)). Plus, it'll get a lot easier once everyone in your new home knows the dirt of your history. Sometimes small-town gossip is good for one thing: letting the horrific news precede you...which can sometimes be both a bonus or a letdown.

  7. Pretty much everyone I've ever known found out via the delights of national news... great. (Not!)

    Those who don't know usually find out when they ask too many questions (So, you're married? erm... And you live with your parents? yes. So your husband doesn't mind that? No, my husband is dead. Total shock.)

    Love the post!

  8. a few times when asked what my husband does for a living...I say "well, he used to be in construction, but now he's pushing up daisies". I love the look of bewilderment that one gets. :)