We write about widowhood as we live it. Together we examine the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of life as a widowed person. The views expressed here are those held by each individual author. We take no credit for their brillance; we just provide them with a forum for expressing their widowed journey in words that are uniquely their own.
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?