It’s remarkable to me how present the feeling of loss remains after nearly four years without my sweet Maggie. Much of the endocrine-pulsing sharpness has been dulled by time, thankfully, but it shocks me how often my mouth forms the words “Maggie and I” which gets quickly and silently censored into just “I” so I can avoid any social discomfort. (The “Maggie and” part becomes my own silent chant - a personal nod to a past that doesn’t feel so distant.)
Sometimes, my omissions force me into comically uncomfortable situations that require linguistic judo to escape. Most recently, a post-Maggie-era friend has started dating Maggie’s sister. During the discussion with the new boyfriend, I stated that the situation was a little awkward for me to which he naturally inquired why. In keeping with the censorship that I’ve practiced (specifically in regard to mine and her relationship) I replied, “She’s my sister.” A barrage of hilariously uncomfortable questions ensued. Maybe I should have stuck with the truth.
Despite my daily filtering and censoring, and much to my surprise, I recently learned that some of my friends believe that I am still waving the grief/death flag way too much. Apparently, I am sitting in my grief and refusing to get over it. Some even believe I’m taking advantage of my situation for attention and milking it. Sadly, I’m told that by associating with others who have also lost spouses, that I’m choosing to stay stuck or being enabled to wallow instead of what ever it is these blessed innocent folks would rather I be doing. This makes me sad.
It’s so odd and so surprising to me how difficult it is to measure up to what other people think I should be doing. At first, I was moving on too fast. Now, I’m not moving on fast enough. I guess, according to these experts, I should be over all this by now. Gosh, I can only wonder how people would react if I were to outwardly display all the inner turmoil I have with coming to terms – yes, still – with my Maggie being gone.
I’ve noticed something, though. I now have several post-Maggie-era friends. Many, if not all, know about Maggie even though it’s never been a conversation. Of these post-Maggie-era friends, not one has even hinted that I might be clinging to my past or whipping out the ol’ death flag too much. I’ll bet if I were to ask any of them, they’d probably be surprised that I asked. It seems, at least from this widower’s perspective, that the only folks who think I’m stuck are those who still miss Maggie, too. This makes me sad, too. But I can’t help them. They have to figure this out on their own.
So, I’ll continue to aggressively build my network of post-Maggie-era friends. I fear that ultimately, those who knew and loved Maggie will represent a smaller and less influential percentage of my current friends. It makes me sad that I’m going to have to let them go but those people can’t seem to see me for me anymore and that’s not helpful. Now, more than ever, I need to be able to be, well, just me - the new me, the post-Maggie-era Chris – who ever that may be. Fortunately, the post-Maggie-era friends like the post-Maggie-era Chris. He’s a fun and happy guy with a bright future. What’s not to like?