Because I’m A Widow

Before you read any of this post, I want to preface it all with a single statement: I feel so incredibly blessed to have some truly amazing friends. These friends have opened their homes to me, taken time out of their busy lives to be present with me, and listened to me say some very ridiculous and dark things over the past five months. Regardless of what I say in this post, I hope those friends (all of you know who you are) know that I’m truly thankful for your companionship and love, even in moments where I may not express it outwardly.

A Permanent Odd Man Out

Saturday was one of those days that felt wonderful and awful at the same time. The day was full of fun activities and time with others. And yet, there were several times when it took every bit of strength I had to not burst into tears or run away and close myself off from everyone.

Honestly, I feel like most days have become that way as I continue to straddle the growing divide between my current reality and the previous life I still long for. And unfortunately, one of the consistent trends I’ve noticed is that the hardest moments are ones where I’m with other people, especially groups of people made up of couples and families.

It makes sense when I look around a room and realize I’m the only person not there with my spouse. I’m the odd man out who carries around a perpetual feeling of being the odd man out because of other pieces of my identity. And even if no one says a word about it, the pervasive thoughts spread like wildfire inside my mind, and I assume that everyone else is also aware of this awkwardness.

But, unlike other times when people may make jokes about “third wheels” or singles in a group of married folks, I feel like my situation will forever be one of those elephants in the room that no one wants to touch, even with a 10-foot pole because I’m a widow.

“Mom, Are You a Widow?”

During those final few hours of Emily’s life, I ended up answering lots of questions her treatment team had as they tried their best to piece together what was happening so they could (hopefully) stabilize her. Everyone helping her knew I was her fiancé, and I was incredibly thankful that they were willing to communicate with me about what was going on.

The day after Emily’s death, I was left with a very difficult task — I had to explain the situation to my kids. Then, my oldest child asked a question that made me think even more. She said, “You and Emily were going to get married, so does this mean you are a widow now that she died?”

Before the child had posted that question, I hadn’t really thought about it much. The previous day had been filled with a combination of extreme emotions and numbness that caused me to completely lose track of time and space. So, I simply answered as best as I could.

“You know, I hadn’t really thought about that, but you’re right. I guess I am a widow.”

I Pledged Myself to Emily

If you asked me in 2020 whether I’d ever had married again, I would have laughed in your face, then followed that up with a, “Hell no!” I told my friends that I never planned to date another man again, and I felt fairly certain that I’d never find a person I could truly open up to and trust with my heart again.

Of course, if you’d asked that same version of me to tell you about Emily, you’d probably have responded with that noise that middle school girls make when they find out who their friends have crushes on.

As I watched her get ready to go to her brother’s graduation that morning after our first date, I knew with absolute certainty that she was the one.

She was worth breaking all the rules I’d with for myself. She was worth the risk of a shattered heart. She was worth it because, unlike any other person I’d been with before, she made me feel good about myself.

And so, I gave Emily my heart and asked her not to break it. I shared my hopes and dreams with her. We made plans together… Plans that involved us remaining together for the rest of our days.

I Accept My Fate

I know that people say things when their emotions are heightened, and later change their minds when the storm rolls out and they can see rationally again. However, I don’t think I’m purely speaking with grief brain when I say this: my time for love is over now.

We may not have made it down the aisle, but when I put that engagement ring on Emily’s finger, I made a promise to love her for the rest of my life. And, no matter what has happened since that night, I love her just as much now as I did then. Nothing will ever change that.

As I process my grief, I may share more stories about Emily’s flaws (my post about her inability to clean is a prime example of that). However, I firmly believe it’s possible to see someone as completely as I saw Emily and still love them the way I do.

Because of Emily, I finally got to experience love in a way that, honestly, I’m not sure everyone gets to. But, because of all that happened back in October, I now find myself in this position where I’m not even 40 yet, but I’m very much a widow.

We lived together. We relied on each other and confided in each other. We made plans with each other. We wanted to grow old with each other. We loved each other and accepted each other exactly as we are. In fact, we loved each other so much that even in those last hours we had together, we spent our time dreaming about the future and trying our best to care for each other in one of the scariest moments we’d ever faced together as a couple.

I watched the love of my life die. I’m a widow.

And, even though it really fucking sucks to stand on my own in a room full of couples, I am willing to accept my fate going forward because I can’t imagine a life in which I ever love anyone the way I loved Emily.


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