How does Mr. Fresh feel about you calling yourself a widow? Other people ask me all the time, so one day I asked him: do you mind that I continue to do widow community activities and occasionally (when it’s appropriate) I still call myself a widow in public. We’ve already discussed his comfort at being surrounded by so many of Gavin’s things, including his artwork — he knows that stuff is never going to the Salvation Army — and about raising Gavin’s daughter. Those were dealbreakers early in our relationship.
But is my ongoing widowhood an irritant to him? Is it annoying to be married to someone who does widow things all the time? Does it bother him that most of the people I hang out these days with have shared this experience?
He hesitated just long enough to get the right relaxed confidence in his voice: “No.” It was going to be a man’s answer. “If you had fought in a war together, and twenty or thirty years later you mostly socialized with your combat buddies, the folks who’d saved your life, no one would think twice about it. If you felt closest to people who’d been in your division, if you spent afternoons at the VFW, and visited battlefields on vacation, we wouldn’t blink an eye. We’d call you veterans.”
So you really think losing a spouse is like fighting in a war?
“It’s pretty much like that, yes. For veterans, even after the war is over, it’s still a vivid series of events for you, probably the biggest thing that happened to most of you. It required huge adjustments and helped form who you are. Your loss is part of you. Just like with a veteran, your war years can be incorporated into your life without disruption. And if you were working in the field, you’d just be career military; many people are, our country relies on them.
“I have nothing to be jealous of.”
How grateful I am for a partner who takes life and loss seriously.
And thanks for fighting by my side, friends. Let’s raise a glass to many years of peace.