Before I jump way ahead of myself, let’s define the word widow, dictionary.com defines it as such:
widow – (noun) a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.
There you go, basic, simple, and so totally wrong. Therein lies my problem. Does re-marrying make my first husband come back? Does it erase him from my life? NOPE. I call myself a remarried widow, in my mind, I will alway be a widow. Just because I am married now doesn’t mean I didn’t lose my first husband. It doesn’t make everything better, nor does it make grief any easier…actually it just makes it more complicated.
So now that that is settled, we can move forward with the term widow. What is it about this word, or the fact that I lost my husband, that makes people uncomfortable? Their eyes immediately get this look, this look of pity, as they apologize for my loss…even years later. I dont typically skirt around the subject when I am meeting someone new, I don’t advertise it or anything, I don’t skywrite it as something that defines me, but I don’t hide it either. I am going to be brutally honest (at the risk of offending some people), when I say, I would rather people know that I am widowed than assume I am divorced. As if that somehow makes my situation better. In all honestly, it doesn’t, both are hard situations to be in, and I have mad respect for people who live through the disolution of a marriage. I just don’t feel the two should be lumped together, nor even compared to each other. They are, in fact, quite different, and pose different challenges.
Widowed with an 8 year old child is a challenge. Especially when you live in a city 6 hours from the nearest relative. Think about it. No shared custody, so everything relies on you. No breaks, no nights off. Sure there are no custody battles nor child support discrepanices, but there is also no custody arrangement nor child support at all. Your life is filled with PTA meetings, taekwondo belt testing, basketball games, gymnastic competitions, and many nameless public events where you can actually SEE and HEAR people point you out in crowd, “she is the one who lost her husband…” You do these things for your child to maintain some sort of normalcy in her day-to-day life, in spite of the awkwardness that eventually turns into anger and bitterness toward the other parents. I was able to restrain myself on most occasions without confronting the lookiloos and gossip mongers…on some occasions, …I may or may not have put them in their place (oops). I am not a perfect widow.
When you are the sole legal guardian with no other parent to speak of, there comes a carefulness and caution that now surrounds your life like bubble wrap. A lot of explaining that needs to happen with the school system and teachers, doctors offices, and anywhere where they request two legal guardians be listed. There is a trepidation that takes over everytime you have to board a plane to travel for work. You are the only one left. You can’t be responsible for orphaning your child. These are all fears that plague my mind at times. These are all defined by being a widow, remarried or not.
And then there is the status of “widow.” By status, I am referring to all the labels awarded to people on social media. The days of pause I gave to changing my “married” status … to what? Widow? Single? There were no labels I liked. For a long time, I eliminated the label from my profiles altogether. Then I finally settled in with single. When it came right down to it, I reverted to the safety of single. If someone wanted to know more, they could ask, right? Why advertise? And afterall, it is social media….blah, blah, blah.
widow (redefined) – (noun) a woman who has lost her spouse by death.
Widow, a term that doesn’t define who a person is, just a situation they found themselves in. Again, this is a club that no one wants to join, but once you’re in, you are a member for life.