Guest Post from a widow friend:
I lost my husband to H1N1 Complications. He died October 10th, 2009 at 11:11AM. He was only 29 years old. We did not know he had H1N1 until after he passed away and a News Reporter told me while he was interviewing me. At the time of his death, we had been married for 9 years and 285 days. Our 10th anniversary would have been December 29th 2009. We had four children together, and when he died they were 8.5, 8.5, 7 (barely, he died the day of her birthday party) and 3.5.
I’ve promised Brenda for a few weeks now that I would write a guest blog post for her, and I have failed miserably at it so far. She has patiently reminded me more than a few times, and I’d see her message, and promptly forget as soon as I closed it. Can I pull a widow card for that? How about “My memory is shit and I can’t remember anything lately”. It really isn’t any excuse, I know, but for now I will pretend that I can use the widow card and claim widow fog. Like preggo brain, but widow fog. Then this afternoon, as I was taking a break from cooking procrastinating on the internet, I saw her twitter feed and it read “If you’re a blogger truly wanting to connect with your local community/interest of bloggers, you should help them as well as yourself!” I was ashamed of myself and IMMEDIATELY sat down at my computer and opened up word and started typing this. So, my dinner actually is cooking as I type this, and I am actually multi-tasking: not something I do well these days.
I feel like somewhat of a controversial widow to be completely honest. I feel like I do so much better than what normal society would coin a “widow”. Does that make sense? What I mean is that I feel like I have done a lot better than how a “normal” widow would be coping in my situation. That doesn’t mean in ANY way that I miss my husband any less than any widow would miss their spouse, but I feel his death was easier on me for a couple reasons.
My husband was a long haul truck driver for the majority of our 10 year marriage. He started trucking in April 2002, right after I got pregnant with our now 8.5 year old daughter, and kept on trucking till the time of his death. All of that time, save a year and a half on a local trucking job, was spent over the road and away from me and our children. He would be home for all of our birthdays usually, and a few holidays. He was only home about 8-9 weeks out of every year, so the majority of our marriage I was an acting single mom.
I’ve often said since his death that his job was a blessing in disguise. As much as we all hated it, I am glad in some ways now that he did what he did. I was by myself with four kids all the time. He never understood how much I hated it, and didn’t get why the kids were such hellions for me a lot of the time. I HATED being a single mom so much, but now I am thankful that I had that time to prepare for this new life as a widowed single mom. I know that if he had worked a local job, and was home every night or most of the time, I would not be doing as well as I am now.
Obviously his death affected me as it would any widow, and I went through some intense grieving. But I was able to handle the day to day life fairly well, as I had been used to being alone. It was what we were used to. For me the hardest part was knowing he would never come home again, and that I would never wake up to a text message saying “time to wake up baby”, and that I would never hear his voice again. I didn’t let his death paralyze me…the kids were my driving force. We have no family around, as I grew up in Canada, and my husband’s family is all on the east coast. So I was all by myself. I was all the kids had, so I just put one foot in front of the other and made myself get through each day. I wouldn’t let myself become crippled with the grief because then who would take care of the kids? Yeah, I did scream and sob in the shower many many times. My blog was very healing for me; I poured my heart out in the first few months and after that even. I spent hours on the phone with another girlfriend who was a widow herself. Maybe even the kids were healing for me, because I do know that if I didn’t have them to take care of, that I would have stayed on my couch or in bed like a lump day after day after day.
Because of his job, and because I was alone for so long, I went seeking that which I had not had in a very long time, and that was a partner who had a local job for one reason. I did everything wrong. Everything. I joined Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, Ok Cupid and then Plenty of Fish again. I was desperate for a relationship because I was tired of being alone. I had done it for so many years, being a single parent most of the time that I just wanted to have someone there to hold me at night and help me and love me in person rather than over the phone. After many failed attempts, I finally decided I would join Match.com. Again, failure. I had said I would give it one month, and then I didn’t cancel it on time, so I landed up getting renewed for one more month. And one magical day, I met this magical man. So magical that he accepted me for who I was, baggage and all, 4 kids, a widow, and a total nutcase at times. And he loves me, he loves the kids, and I love him. We live together, we have picked out an engagement ring and we’re getting married next year. Yes, it did happen very quickly with him, but that doesn’t faze me at all because it was the same when husband and I met. When you know, you know. I knew the 2nd date that he was the one I would be with for the rest of my life.
Do you see why I feel so controversial though? I am afraid what other widows think of me because I have ”moved on so quickly”. I did what was right for me, but I still can’t let go of the fact that other people might judge me for what I am doing. I know it shouldn’t matter to me what other people think, but it does. I don’t want the fact that I am in a new relationship to seem like it has lessened my grief from my husband’s passing. It certainly helps me to be honest, but it doesn’t change anything. I still lost my husband whom I loved very much, and my kids lost their daddy. Our world came to a crashing halt when he died, and it took a long time to feel normal again. But again, I just have to reinforce that I DO MISS HIM. I will always love him, I still cry about him, and we talk about him all the time. We mention him daily, and I think that helps us get on with our lives, because we laugh about him, and we tell stories and share memories. He still lives on in our memories.
I know I shouldn’t have to justify my life, or my new relationship, but I still want to. I am so happy right now having someone who sleeps in the same bed as me. Someone who can help me with the kids and be another parent, and recognize when I need a break. Someone who loves me, and loves the kids as his own. I tell everyone how lucky I am, how blessed I am, to have found someone that wants to be with me despite all of my baggage. I honestly never expected to find someone so soon, yet here I am, almost two years a widow and living with someone already and madly in love. But I will always love my late husband, always miss him, and he will forever be my first love.
I have said it to Joanna before…it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy with what you are doing. My TJ and I lived very separate lives and I am finding men to be too clingy (calling, texting, wanting to monopolize all my time). I am and always have been happy alone, you have indicated in the past you are not. It is all about you my dear, not what others think! Congrats on finding what you wanted.
I can identify with much of your situation Joanna, as my husband was military and deployed A LOT! I knew how to live on my own, was quite used to it in fact, and since he deployed when our son was barely 3 months old I had never really known anything other than single parenting. However, it has been a lot harder for me to accept that this isn’t just a long deployment and he won’t be home again one day. My grief is different than yours, and someone else’s will be completely different than either than ours. We all do this differently, and in a way that is just right for each of us. It doesn’t matter at all what anyone else thinks! Your love for Barry is evident and so is your new happiness. And I am so very happy for you! 🙂
Brenda, thank you so much for posting this!! Sandy and Erin, I know both of you, and Brenda, have heard me talk about this on numerous numerous occasions. It’s something that I deal with a lot, and really helps to get it “out on paper”.