I hate that word. That one word makes me feel so powerless. I hate the way people look at me, or the way they talk to me. You know the head tilt, the sigh, and the "how are you doing?" However they wouldn't have cared 10 seconds before. I know it shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but it does. I want to be normal. I want people to treat me normal. Treating me like I'm broken just makes me feel even more broken than I already am.
Widows are portrayed at old women, dressed all in black, with a house full of cats. That house down the street where all the kids are afraid to walk past. When I was growing up, there was a woman that lived down the street from my grandma. They referred to her as the Widow Carson. Her house was that house. We would cross the street instead of walking past it. My grandma was a widow, but no one referred to her as the Widow Campbell. This woman was the only woman in town that was referred to as a widow.
Widows aren't young. They don't have small children. Young people aren't supposed to die.
I'm finding out that this wasn't just my take on it, a lot of people seem to have the same image in their head. The cable guy was here today and asked something about my husband. I don't remember the conversation, but I remember the expression on his face when I told him he passed away. First words out of his mouth were, but you're so young. I had to bite my tongue from saying, well thanks captain obvious (ugh. the teenager is rubbing off on me.)
He immediately apologized and that word came out. He never thought about a widow being someone so young. He knew that life isn't fair and young people do die, but he never stopped to think that some of these young people leave behind a wife, the widow.
The woman at the grocery story was the same way. I had a melt down while grocery shopping last week, and got out of there as fast as I could. Well of course the cashier is going to ask questions when someone comes through their line with tears streaming down their face. Same startled expression, and I could see the wheels turning and could read her mind. She was kind enough not to say it out loud. Instead she talked about reading about Patrick in the newspaper when he passed away and said she remembered him from our many walks around the store. (We live in a very hilly town and Patrick wasn't able to go for walks around town because he couldn't walk up hills, so we would walk around the stores).
I don't want being a widow to define who I am. It is what I am, not who I am. I will never be that person I was 7 months ago.
Going into the transplant, we knew the risks. We knew this was a possible outcome, but never in a million years did I ever imagine I would be a widow at the age of 32.