Friday, August 12, 2011

Plus One

Wendy Diez is filling in for Jackie today who is headed to Camp Widow. She will be back next week. Thank you Wendy!

Not long after Chris died, I received a wedding invitation addressed to "Wendy and Guest."  It was one of the first visual affronts to my newly-acquired widowed senses.  I remember looking at the envelope and wondering, "Who the heck is Wendy and Guest?" 

I certainly sympathize with the couple who sent the invitation.  I'm confident that they struggled with how to address it as well.  They really couldn't win.  Address it to just me, making it obvious that my husband really was dead, and expect me to endure the beginning of their happily-ever-after all alone?  Or address it as they did, making it obvious that most people attend weddings as one half of a pair, but allow me to make the decision as to whether or not to drag some poor soul along.  I wound up not attending the wedding at all partly because I couldn't bear the thought of how painful it would be (regardless of how honestly happy I was for the couple) and partly because I had no idea who I would bring.  My mom?  My sister?  My 2-year-old son? 

Part of the sting of this situation is that I got married at the age of 34.  I went to many a wedding as "Wendy and Guest" and a lot of times it was just "Wendy."  When I married Chris, I thought my "and Guest" days were over.  It never occurred to me that I would be relegated back to this god forsaken place of no guaranteed dance partner so soon.  I don't like being in this place (can you hear the temper tantrum starting?).  This place is filled with uncertainty about whether I will ever go anywhere again as something other than "Wendy and Guest."  Let's face it, this place is....lonely. 

After two and a half years, I think it is finally starting to dawn on me that life is going on without Chris.  As much as I want him here with me, my life is moving forward and I am starting to envision what the next phase will look like. Instead of seeing "Wendy and Guest", I'm starting to see "Wendy and _____."  I guess that is what some people might call healing.  And that is a good thing.

By the way, if you are inviting me to an event before _______ appears, invitations addressed to "Wendy and George Clooney", "Wendy and Hugh Jackman", or "Wendy and Patrick Dempsey" will be perfectly acceptable.


  1. This gave me a giggle - I have to admit that since I can no longer have the "guest" I love accompany me to anything, George or Hugh would be OK at a pinch ;)

  2. This was great. I, too had the same experience right after my husband died. I didn't go either. But since then I did have to attend a slew of weddings. It seemed as if everyone of my friend's children and/or nieces and nephews decided to get married the 2 years after Michael died. I'm going to one tomorrow and I'll tell you, weddings are the hardest things to attend on your own. It just hurts and I hate the way people look at me there.

  3. How cute! Loved your post. Conversely, I just received a wedding invitation addressed to me and just me. I went into a fit of rage over that. Do they think I want to get all dressed up to come alone which will make it that much harder? Do they think I am such a loser I couldn't find a date?

    Don't we all miss having that guaranteed dance partner! Thank you for saying it so well.

  4. Well said Wendy. There is no way to know how to address it that would not have caused some reaction. I remember that I was aware that I was alone but still felt as if part of a couple. My perspective changed hourly in the beginning. Its funny that three years out and I feel as if David is still my husband but that I don't feel married.

    I too was invited to a wedding shortly after David was David's childhood friend. I couldn't bear to go to the reception...dancing and laughing was not a part of my repertoire at the time. I did attend the ceremony. The happy couple understood and I was grateful for the opportunity and strength to witness their nuptials.

    When you heal enough and open your heart again to ______ you can make my invite to Deborah and Dr. Drew or Deborah and Matthew McConaughey.

  5. Oh, yes, the visual affronts. They still sting very much after almost two years. It is like reality driving a knife into your heart. I am particularly offended when someone addresses me as "Ms." I have been "Mrs." for 28 years. I earned that title, and I'd like the respect of keeping it. Technically, one loses that title through divorce, but retains it in widowhood. I would like people to respect it.

  6. I am 54, have been a widow for 4+ years, and now have a 3 year long, regular "companion", if you will. A high school friend of my son's - who my husband & I were family friends with during those years - is getting married in a few weeks. I received the invitation today without a "plus one". The family knows of my relationship and some of them have even met my friend. I am shocked and hurt. I was so looking forward to this wedding, but have made the decision not to attend. Weddings are a "couples" thing, and I am part of a couple. Why would I want to go alone, spending the evening with lots of couple, when my S/O - the one I do have fun with - is not invited. Makes no sense to me. People just don't get the widow/widower thing.....:(