Part I: Learning to be a Widow

How do you learn to be a widow? You do not learn how; you simply take one moment at a time. I was only 44 years old when I realized that I was truly alone. The man I love has gone on to a destination that I cannot travel to…yet. The beginning is survivable. Why? Because you are, numb. You become so numb that you cannot feel whether you are hot or cold or in pain. You just become absorbed in waking up and carrying on as though life still mattered. I learned that it takes more energy to crawl from the bed and attempt to eat than it does to build a house. It takes more energy to get dressed than it does to run a marathon. Sometimes, you just fall to your knees without warning. It does not hit you as a brick might; it hits you slowly like a gentle rain and gradually increases in intensity until your feel as though a storm of softball-sized hailstones are pounding you. As hard as you try, there is no escape from the pounding hailstones.

It hurts to know that you will be alone forever. It is like the final blow. You spend each day wondering what will go wrong on this day. Through all the wondering, still, you know that the next day will be worse than the previous one. You see the people you love moving on with their lives and realize that you have nothing in which to look forward. There is only the knowledge that you will never hear his laugh or feel his touch again. That is a hard pill to swallow.
Your face almost becomes plastic as you attempt to smile continuously, not because you are happy, but to comfort others. Yes, it comforts them. The tears make people uncomfortable. You begin to pray for lightning to strike you or never to awaken again. You have to do this in silence though because if you express the intensity of your sadness, people will undoubtedly discuss having you committed. No one wants to be committed against his or her will.
After the first year, the numbness begins to wear off and everything gets worse. The realization that he is never coming home begins to sink into your heart. The knowledge that no one will ever love you in the way that he did tears at your soul. Knowing that you will never again share a kiss or make love just makes you want to claw your way through the wall. Sometimes, you just cry instead.
During the first year, people are generally patient with you. As time goes on, they begin to lose their patience. People will ignore you and you may encounter those who berate you for grieving. One person ended his friendship with me because of my grief. It is difficult enough to exist with the knowledge that you will never again see the love of your life; it becomes even more difficult to know that people will abandon you unless you manage to laugh all the time. Oh, you will wear that familiar façade of the bereaved and try to make jokes even while your heart is breaking. You may even find yourself trying to laugh and struggle to hide your tears. Eventually, the façade begins to crack.
Every day, you slip a little deeper into an abyss of grief. Routine may become a savior. Get up. Get dressed. Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Just those simple things are exhausting but they are a tie to some kind of normalcy. I spend the weekends poring through photo albums and journals, trying to pretend that I still have a life as half a person. I would not recommend that. It does not work. You risk staining the photos with your teardrops and coming perilously close to joining your other half quickly.
You cannot learn to be a widow; it just happens. You wake up alone, knowing that this is now your life. It does not hit you as a brick might; it hits you slowly like a gentle rain and gradually increases in intensity until your feel as though a storm of softball-sized hailstones are pounding you. As hard as you try, there is no escape from the pounding hailstones.

©2012 Relinda R.

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