Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Troubles with Facebook, Women and Badges

Hanging out a while back I was chatting with a female friend-of-a-friend having a great (non-romantic) time. Eventually, we decided we should become Facebook friends. I suggested she find my profile and send me a “friend request.” She typed and searched as I spelled out my name (‘C’, ‘H’… yes “Chris”. “Weaver” – ‘W’, ‘E’…. Apparently there are a lot of Chris Weavers on Facebook.) As she scrolled I looked at the little profile pictures and, when I saw my mug, I pointed and said “Ah, that’s the one!” She clicked and I went about my other business while she read my profile. Then it happened. She said something loudly I didn’t see coming: “OH! You are a WIIII-DOOO-WEEER!!”

Now, it isn’t what she said but how she said it: “WIIII-DOOO-WEEER!!” She managed to cram about six syllables into a three syllable word. Yup, yup, Texans are known for our linguistic latitude. (If you’ve ever heard a respectable Texan stretch out the word “good” then you understand what I mean.) But this was different; she didn’t have a discernable Texas accent. It was more of a declarative statement of discovery, like she had finally found that hidden meaning behind a puzzle that had long been pondered. But what the heck did she mean?

Her response wasn’t negative or positive. It was just matter-of-fact and more like a surprised utterance. Regardless, for a brief moment, I felt like I was exposed, standing naked at that bar, with everyone staring and pointing. I felt like I had just been seen kicking a dog or something otherwise aberrant. I wanted to both apologize and defend myself, like my bad choices had led me to this awkward Facebook moment. Part of me wanted to run and hide. I was ashamed.

Purely out of shock, I said “Yeah.” She said “I’m sorry” and the moment passed.

I’ve pondered that five-second moment many times since that day. Why did she react like that? My best guess is that maybe she was wondering why I was not married. My second best guess is that she had never imagined that a widower could be someone like me: young-ish, high-spirited, and happy, having fun in a bar with lots of friends and living life. My third best guess is that this was her first time to see the word “widower” and she was simply trying to sound it out phonetically. Hooked On Phonics. Long live the 80s.

While I’ve added her reaction to my loooong list of Things I’ll Never Understand, it’s pretty easy for me to turn her reaction into a negative. I’ve said before that attending Camp Widow was a huge step forward for me on my journey of becoming more comfortable with what happened and who I am now. Knowing that I’m not crazy, alone, or a societal misfit just because my wonderful wife died has been healing and gives me the strength to not own her reaction. Nope, that’s all on her. I am a widower, strong and proud. I did what I did out of love and that can never be taken away or minimized, no matter what misguided notions people might have. I have certainly faced more difficult emotional challenges than one girl’s visceral reaction to my Facebook relationship status. Supporting my beautiful wife, upholding our wedding vows, and loving like there was no tomorrow are things I’ll never be ashamed of. I will forever stand tall knowing that I did right by her. She and me, we were good together all the way to the end.

But why do I feel like I wear a badge of courage and honor but that same badge is going to keep women from ever getting to know me?


  1. funny in a way. because AS a widow... seeing 'widower' on a facebook page is an instant turn-on.
    I'd take a widower over a single/divorced man, anyday :)

  2. I guarantee that this will not be the thing that will keep women from knowing you!
    Most single women I know that are looking for a long term partner express the desire for someone who they know will be there, who will love them no matter what, who can be counted on when it is really important, who will be there in the end.
    Watch the Notebook.
    As dated as it may sound - we all want the kind of love that you have lived.
    I had it.
    You had it.
    We are the luckiest people on earth.
    some people live their whole lives and never know what that is like.

  3. Interesting post. I also hate those moments when I am blindsided by a remark someone makes. Sometimes I think it is not so much about us, but the whole subject of death, which makes people extremely uncomfortable. They have no idea what to say and they are afraid they will have to watch us go into a hysterical fit or something if the topic is broached. I'm going to make a suggestion which is not intended to offend any of us who are widowed. Considering you are young and trying to get back out there into life, have you considered changing your status to "single" or saying you are "single" when you first meet someone, and then when you get to know them, and they are worthy of your trust, share your story with them? You would not be lying, in a sense, but maybe it would make it easier for you to open the door into new relationships. I'm not saying any of us have anything to be ashamed of, but there are many areas of life that we are not obligated to share with others until we are ready and we establish trust. You are correct in that you have earned that badge of honor. I cared for my husband for several years, and I know during the illness, passing and beyond have suffered many intolerable remarks from people. I dealt with it by not sharing with those that could not possibly understand. It's a strange culture that we live in.

  4. I was just at a football moms party this weekend and my badge of honor remained quiet until the very end of the party.  We were laughing and talking and talking about the crazy and sometimes crappy things husbands do.  I played along because I have those memories and experiences too.  It was fun playing along.  Until I wanted to go another Halloween party were I wanted to just go see this guy I found nice to talk to.  That's all I wanted to do...just say hi and talk.  He's nice.  My friends freaked and those who did't know my true identity found out and the life of the party died instantly which was followed by a slience that was AWKWARD!!!!! They just don't get it.  I can't be fondly remembering and loving my husband in one moment and ready to go to a fun Halloween party the next.  It would be a disservice to my husbands love for me to miss out on life.  He wanted to be here and the last thing I'm going to do is not live simply because he is not.  I simply don't care what others think now but I really live a life that involves savoring every happy moment because when the grief gets me down...I'm down. And this weekend I happened to be happy.  I say don't change your status if you don't want too.  I have the same status and I'm hopeful it keeps those away who don't need to be in my life.  The widow badge has been earned, but I still have no idea how to handle it when the outing of my status silences a room. Also,  I'm glad to read you are having more fun.

  5. You own that badge Chris, and it was hard won. I am so proud of the way you turned this around in your head. And no, the fact that you walked right next to your wife on the most difficult journey of both your lives and then had to dig yourself out of the pit of despair caused by the loss of your lover and best friend WON'T keep the right woman from really knowing you. I promise.

    P.S. One of my favorite lines in this post is: My third best guess is that this was her first time to see the word “widower” and she was simply trying to sound it out phonetically. Hooked On Phonics. Long live the 80s.....Ha!

  6. I hate being hit out of the blue with strange comments, and I'd probably have blurted out "what do you mean by that?" LOL

  7. I'm with Jill. And, as I've said before, the strength and depth of love you exhibited caring for Maggie, make you badass.

  8. I'm with Jill and Cassie. Trying to date I have absolutely encountered men that are not comfortable with the "w" status. However, it is who I am and any new man in my life will have to understand and accept.

    Good luck Chris and thanks for an awesome post!

  9. As a non-widowed person who admires the he'll out of all the people I have met via working Camp Widow, I would say to you that you have nothing to worry about - wear your badge with honor

  10. I am honored to have been the one to care for my husband in his final months and hours. Although difficult at first (and still occasionally in new situations), I wear my badge proudly because of our experiences together and my lone experiences after. I am expecting to find someone I can share my life with, one who will not only honor my badge, but wear it proudly too.

    It's definitely harder to find a great guy the second time around, but love is patient and I won't settle for less.

    Great post, Chris, as always, full of humor and honestly. Love the profile pic!

  11. I'm a WIIII-DOOO-WEEER too, bro! Some wimmin think we have leprosy, I'm thinking. :) lol

  12. Chris, I remember reading your Camp Widow post where you talked about it making you feel like finally, you could NOT feel ashamed...and thinking that "widower" and "ashamed" should never be in the same sentence. I'm so glad you've come to the place where you refuse to be ashamed, because you have nothing to be ashamed of. As you said, you demonstrated your love for your wife, you took care of her, you honored your marriage vows. That's evidence that you're an awesome man. And any woman who can't see that...isn't good enough for ya. The right one will see it and (IMHO) will even honor Maggie's memory and YOUR honoring of Maggie's memory.

    Oh, and "She and me, we were good together all the way to the end"... <3 *eyes well up*

  13. Hi Chris, great post. I'm sorry we didn't connect at Camp Widow. Maybe next year we can have a Widower's Meetup or something. We'll need a pretty big room, I'd expect!

  14. I feel very much the same, almost a weird embarrassment of sorts when people find out I am the "widow".