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Saturday, May 7, 2011

I am Stephanie, and for now, I am a Widow

I was reading a widow's blog today, who in February of this year marked the two year anniversary of her loss. She speaks of being able to let go of her 'widow' title. Of how that title holds her back in some regards, and how she is ready to shed that weight in order to become a whole person again. Even being only three months into my widowhood I get it. There are days when I am telling someone a story of my pain, or the pain of my children, and the sadness in their eyes overwhelms me. It cries out for me to stop. Often when I retell these moments to others it almost appears more painful to them then to me; I suppose it is because these retellings are, for now, the entirety of my life. And in these moments I wish I did not have to hold the title of widow. I know that their sadness comes from a place of compassion, and for that I am deeply grateful. But I also know that compassion can be painful, and that is not something I wish to bestow onto others, especially those I love.

Yet even with this longing to once again be a bright and vibrant young woman, I know that I am no where near where this other widow has found herself. Time will move on for me, and someday I will publish my own blog post about being ready. I imagine I will continue to write, but find a new blog in which to do so, as to not continuously label myself. I don't know when this day will come for me, but I know that today is not that day.

I am lucky to have friends surrounding me, taking me out to have fun, and spacing myself from my role as mother to let go of my worries for an evening. I enjoy it so much. I enjoy my friend's companionship, the dancing, the letting loose, but there are still those moments when I encounter someone who doesn't know me. My story inevitably spills out of me like a child unable to keep a secret. And that is what I feel like if I don't share, like I'm holding a secret. For me to not introduce myself, and share my story of loss and my title of widow, feels like I'm carrying an ugly secret.

This can lead to awkward moments. This can lead to tears in a bar. This can lead to free drinks given the right opportunity. And I know it isn't always easy on my loved ones. For when I share, they feel the pain of their empathy for me, and we all hurt together in those moments. The moments when we are supposed to be spending time forgetting. And still, I am not there yet. Even though at times I wish to be where this other widow is, I am not.

I will get to where this widow is. I am determined to. I will not always be a widow. I will not always appear to others as a sad story. I will move forward. I will someday look back with joy, and not sorrow. Someday, not today.

To end, a story about one of these moments to allow you a moment in my shoes. I'm getting ready last night to go out on one of my evenings away, and the doorbell rings. Evelyn races ahead of me, and I struggle to get dressed before she opens the door to a stranger. As I come down the stairs I see a man, mid 50s, with a commercial van parked in our little road. The van has a picture of a huge cow on the side. "Oh God no," I think to myself, "it is Matt's meat guy."

Matt was the type of guy who made friends with just about everyone, and it was sometime last summer that this meat guy showed up at our door selling steaks, and Matt fell a little in love I think. I'm not sure if it was the sheer volume of meat this guy was slinging, his prices, or the fact that he would always let Matt bargain him down in price a little, but Matt was thrilled about the service this man provided. And in turn each and every time he came with Matt's new gigantic box of steaks Matt and the meat guy would chat for hours.

I knew this day would come. There have been others similar. It's the people who didn't know us enough to find out about the funeral, but yet still hold a place in our lives. I open the door, the dog is yelping like a crazed animal, Evie is bouncing up and down the porch trying to show off, and this guy asks me if we need any more meat. (My fridge is full of this guy's meat right now, since Evie and I aren't exactly grilling up steaks left and right at the moment). I replied no, and he presses for Matt. Evie, near by, is clinging to my every word. The house is up for sale, Matt is not around, I needed to tell him. I close the screen door behind me, inch a little closer to him, and lower my voice in hopes Evie can be shielded from the news she already knows. "My husband died in early February unexpectedly."

The pain in this man's eyes was unbearable. It took five eternal seconds for him to register the statement. He looks around to me, Evie, the dog, the house, the for sale sign. "Didn't you all just have a baby?" More pain. I really thought for a second he was going to sit on my front step and cry a few tears. He hurt so much for us. It was his pain, and not my situation, that made me want to cry. He told me how much he liked Matt, and enjoyed their conversations. I told him that Matt felt exactly the same way, and that seemed to bring him a little happiness. I could tell it was hard for him to walk away. To not know what to do, or say. I tried to ease the pain with lighter notes on how much meat I have left in my fridge, and how those steaks were the last thing I ever cooked up for Matt. He backed away facing me, heading towards his van, slowly. Continuously showering me with regrets.

It's those moments where I wish I was ready to let go of 'widow'. It's so hard. Hard for everyone in their own way, in their own right.

I'm going to miss Matt's meat guy.


Molly said...

Hi Sarah,
We've never met but I had met Matty in high school and have so many fond memories of him. I was unable to attend the services, and want to send my condolences. Just know that in those quite moments that seem so unbearable, especially cuz of Matt's larger than life personality now gone, that they r people praying for you to get through this with as much peace and strength as possible. Your husband will be sorely missed by more people than u realize. Take care of yourself and I wish u the best! ;) Molly Hart

Sandy said...

Steph - I know exactly what you are talking about. It has been 19 months since I lost TJ and I swear up until the year mark I was still running into people that didn't know. I can't tell you the number of grown men that broke down in tears at my doorstep. I found myself feeling bad for having to tell them.

I feel being a widow will always be a part of who we are, but it does not have to define us.

We will get to that point eventually, meanwhile, remember you are not alone and we will all get through this with a little help.

Pam Hogeweide said...

this is beautiful storytelling with tender honesty and authentic frailty.

I'm in. I want to read about your journey as you pass through this valley of widowhood, and let me pause and give you my condolences for your tragic loss.

I'm an instant subscriber to your blog. I look forward to knowing more of your story and life with Matt. So much more to say but I'll end it there.

Robin said...

I relate well to the feeling of having a secret when around others. It almost seems dishonest to not share my story of loosing my husband. On a lighter note, my husband also had a 'meat guy' and enjoyed bartering with him. This part of your story made me smile. Thanks for sharing.