Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Boring!

from here  
Two women I had just been introduced to the other day began to discuss their Valentine's Days with their husbands. They both agreed that it had been like any other day for them. One said she couldn't even remember what she and her husband had done and the other said that they'd just ordered in and watched a movie. "How boring!" they both agreed.

 They didn't know I was recently widowed. For all I know, they probably assumed I was married, too.

I stood there, frozen, wanting to take them both by their collars and pull them close to cry "WHAT I WOULDN'T DO FOR ANOTHER BORING VALENTINE'S DAY WITH MY DAVE!!!!"

I wanted to do that, but not in anger. I know that before Dave died, I made comments like that all the time. I was always grateful for our love, but I would make lighthearted, "Oh, we've been married since the dawn of time," comments to get laughs, or to commiserate with other married people. These women  weren't bitterly complaining. They were just commenting on how humdrum their longtime marriages had become.

It wasn't anger I felt at all. It was urgency and envy so strong it made my knees almost buckle. I wanted them to know that what they think is a boring night at home is what I now long for every moment of every day. 

To settle in, with your love, on the couch at the end of a hard day and know that you have each other, even when the rest of the world feels out to get you? To feel THAT again? I'd do anything.

I wanted them to know how much they'd miss that boring life if it were torn from them. How they'd feel the loss of that like a black hole in their gut. That they'd wish they'd gotten a million more of those boring nights at home.

But in the end, I didn't say a word. I stood there, stiff and awkward, and waited it out, like you do a painful cramp or bout of nausea. I didn't cry. I didn't run for home. I just went on with the night.

It's getting easier to wait those moments out, but they still slice into my heart and turn my mind into a spinning mess.

On the other hand, I'm relieved that those two women didn't know I was widowed. If they did, they might have self-consciously censored what they said in my presence, or at the very least, worried about saying something that might upset me. I can always feel that kind of tension in people around me. That discomfort is very understandable, but also palpable and in turn makes me uncomfortable too.

There was something a little comforting about being treated like anyone else, even though I still felt so separate from "everyone else" that I felt like a visitor from a different planet.

We all take things for granted, I suppose. We can't live every moment of every day being aware that we and those we love could die at any moment. It's too intense. We take our health for granted until it fails us. We take our freedom for granted until it's taken from us. We take our loved ones for granted until they leave us. That's just human.

But, I suppose there will always be a part of me that wants to shake people who are loved by a spouse and say "DON'T TAKE A MOMENT FOR GRANTED!" After all, that everyday, ho-hum moment they take for granted might be their last together.

What an important lesson to learn. Can it only be learned the hard way?


  1. What courage and insight you have Cassie, to stand there and not react to the 2 women. I do believe I would have had to say something, and it probably wouldn't have been a good scene.

    We do take things for granted, and yes, I think the only way to learn is the hard way, especially when it involves the death of your spouse or loved one. Today is my 30/40 anniversary (30 years married/40 years together) and I would give anything to have another eve at home, just being together. The loneliness of not being a couple today is heavy, half of me is gone and I'm not sure if I can ever be whole again. Guess I'll keep on learning.

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I think maybe it was the opposite of courage! Sometimes I'm polite to a fault. Maybe it would have been good to remind them of that which they take for granted. Then again, maybe they deserve to be blissfully ignorant like I was once.

  2. Valentine's Day...
    I play volleyball with a group of women I've known for many years - some decades even. All of them are married.
    This year as they all complained about how they were doing nothing with their spouses anymore, I sat down and pretended to re-tie my shoelaces.
    Like you I don't comment how thankful they should be that they have a husband waiting for them when they get home. That they can share how fun their evening was. They were all very supportive when Dave died. But I think as time goes on that people in general, at work and socially, temporarily even 'forget' that I'm alone now. It's not like it's always on their minds - like it is with us.

    I don't fault them. I definitely know that I was the same. Clueless.

    1. Yeah, as life carries on, it's probably easy for them to momentarily forget. Not so much, for us!

  3. "To settle in, with your love, on the couch at the end of a hard day and know that you have each other, even when the rest of the world feels out to get you? To feel THAT again? I'd do anything."

    I feel this way EVERY day for the last 6 months, since my fiance died, when I walk into my empty apartment. Even if I had a great day or evening with loved ones, walking through that door and he's not there to greet me with a hug and kiss just hits me right in the chest. Especially after a tough, overwhelming day at the office. All I want is to have his arms around me on the couch as we watch our fave tv shows. Now I just sit alone like a lump on the couch. I miss having that loving outlet for my stress so much.

    And every time I see or hear of a couple fighting over meaningless things, I want to do the same thing: grab them by the collars, give them a good shake and tell them "THIS ISN'T WORTH THE FIGHT! STOP IT!" But what can you do, the arguments, that's all part of the relationship.

    People around you just continue with their lives and their problems, and they don't realize that you are still frozen in time, and trying to defrost and move forward. But it does show you how you yourself and others take what they have with their loved ones for granted...

    1. Wow. Frozen in time, trying to defrost. That is a perfect way to describe this time! Thanks for putting it to words. That's exactly how it feels. Hang in there. We'll walk this journey together, K?

  4. Ariana,
    I get husbands cousin moved out for the winter, her husband had "too many issues she could not deal with". They were so trivial (who controlled the tv remote, who did the dishes, etc). These are retired, educated adults! She finally realized that what she was talking about to me was so stupid, she knew that I would give anything have my husband by my side.

    Yes, those around you do continue their lives, and you are left in the past, wishing for the future that you had planned. It doesn't get any easier very quickly, but you have made it this far, and will continue to go on. Hang in there, you will become more accepting, and have more compassion for those following you.

    1. To Cathy, I know it's not a happy anniversary, but know that people here understand how you feel today. I try to remember the good times on my day, and feel proud of myself for having a long, happy, faithful marriage. Last year I bought a cake and had a drink and toasted us. I lost my soulmate, but we hung in there together through it all and through some very difficult and heartbreaking years of illness. So I hope you don't mind if I wish you a Happy Anniversary. Your marriage still holds happy memories and a reason to be very proud today.

    2. Thank you anon for your kind words. I got through another day, and am moving on to the next. All I can do.

  5. Beautiful way of handling this situation. i treasure my last Valentine. My brother bought them and sneaked them in to my husband (who was quite sick) and me. We both wrote in cards we never would have picked and laughed at my brothers silly antics. I will keep that card forever. I wish I had kept more but you never expect it to be the end.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! It hurts me so much to hear my friends complain about their boyfriends and husbands. Life is too short, and oh, so very precious. I'd give almost anything for one more "boring" night with my K...