Like a lot of my writing, this post was inspired by a conversation with a widowed acquaintance who remarked “you’re so lucky you don’t have kids, it’s so much easier for you.”
It’s a remark I’ve heard before and one that irritates me. Playing the “my widowed life is worse than yours” game is pointless. It’s a life-shattering experience regardless.
So let me give you a taste of what it is like to be widowed, without kids.
All those quirky habits that make up a life? The funny little domestic incidents that you laugh about years down the road? Chances are good that if you have kids who lived with you they will share at least a few of those moments (plus have a few special memories to add). Minus that, it’s strictly you.
For example, no one else remembers the Valentine’s Day right after my beloved grandmother died, when Jerry carved this giant heart on our patio to cheer me up.
Or the funny notes he would leave for me regularly. This particular one was hanging on the entry door from the garage when I got home from work one day:
The occasion? There was a brief mid-February thaw and a posse of ants had woke and made their way into my kitchen prompting me to launch a serious Raid attack while my morning coffee was dripping!
The worst though? That not only is there no one else to remember that when one of us was sick we were a ‘snook,’ I can’t remember the origin of the name … despite it accounting for a magnet from a Marco Island restaurant that still graces the side of my fridge.
It might sound a little crazy but I have a 40+ page Word document titled “Things-I-Remember” that I created shortly after Jerry died. I used it to catalog minor events as they occurred to me because I was terrified I’d forget the details of our life together. I still add to it occasionally – it’s like I’m creating a memory book a la “The Notebook” for some future version of myself.
Through those very earliest days of widowhood, I was completely adrift with the exception of work – which I quickly realized held no meaning for me. With literally nothing and no one to anchor me, it felt like my identity had been completely obliterated.
Most days I felt like my grief clung to me like a bad odor which made it all the more difficult to interact with others. Sometimes I’d enter my house on Friday evening and have no human interaction, other than a phone call to my parents, until Monday. Even for an introvert like me it was extreme isolation.
How I got from there to here is a roller coaster ride that I’ll be sharing a bit of in this blog.
But it started on a desperate night in January 2011 when a newly-minted widow, remembering a scene from “Grey’s Anatomy” where the interns danced out their blues, cranked up the volume on Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and danced around her family room alone, desperate, and a little drunk, praying to find a reason to stay.
Watch Lady Gaga perform “Just Dance.”