May

11 05 2013

I’m a widow.

I don’t know what that means.

I mean, I know what the word “widow” means.  It means that I was married, and he died, and I’m still here.  And for a billion other things in life, I can say that sometimes things just happen, and knowing why or how doesn’t change that they’ve happened or how you cope.  So this shouldn’t be any different.  He died, and I’m still here.

Except that at some level I can’t let it go, can’t accept that it just happened.  I usually do put a pretty good face on it for others.  I often tell people that my husband got to live right up to the time that he stopped, and then he left – which is really a pretty good deal if you can get it.  It beats lingering in the world of long illness or diminishing capacity, and I know he would have been a terrible invalid.  He was bad enough during the couple of years that he dealt with the cardiac arrhythmia, coming to terms with a heart that would no longer unquestioningly do what it was designed to do.

In this sense, I know the why.  He had a heart attack.  What the cardiologist called a “nuisance arrhythmia,” as opposed to the ones that kill you, turned out to be, well, the kind that killed him.  But there are more whys behind the obvious one.  Why him? Why then?  Why am I still here?  For all of my independence and ability to carry on, it is now nearly seven years later and in spite of carrying on, there is still this feeling that he was taken from me.  I was not ready.  I wanted more time.   We deserved more time.

Tonight I went to the wedding of one of my son’s friends.  May is already emotionally loaded for me – we got engaged in May, and then married in May a year later.  My son has wonderful friends, many of whom are now entering the cycle of marriage and children.  It is beautiful to witness – I’ve known them since they were little and have loved them through science fairs and school programs and dances and all of the years of growing from children to adults.  To see them now, making life decisions and doing it with intellect and grace, is a blessing I could never have imagined when I was their age.

Anyway.  The wedding was beautiful – and seriously, this generation knows how to work weddings.  They’re structuring them with the beliefs and rituals that mean the most to them, and they’re having wedding ceremonies that are so much more than ceremonial.  I’ve been to a few in the last couple of years.  Every time I am blessed by being there.  And I wish, with every last fiber of my being, that my husband could see who these children have become, how they’re shaping the world into their vision.  Every single time I witness the breath-taking beauty of what they’re doing, I also know what it would have meant to my husband to witness the same thing, and how I would love to share it with him.

I don’t know how to fully describe it.  It’s not like I collapse in tears of grief.  But there is an ache so strong, and a sense of unfairness that I cannot seem to overcome, in spite of the utter uselessness of such a feeling.  Yes, it’s unfair.  But it doesn’t matter.  It just is.  It doesn’t matter how unfair it is, or how many times I repeat it.  It just is.

And I guess that’s what I can’t come to terms with, why I say I don’t know what it means to be a widow.  I want there to be meaning.   I want there to be a lesson, something that only makes sense in the light of his death, so that his death – my loss – can count for something.

There isn’t.  It just is.  I don’t know what that means.

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