Early in my widowhood, I joined a MeetUp group for widows and widowers. I went to one pizza party and never went back. There was a woman there who was seven years into her widowhood, and still completely stuck, grieving, and unable to move on.
I’m nearly 7 years in now, and I don’t want to end up like that woman. I have a lot more to do to forge an independent, fulfilling reset-of-my-life for myself, and a happy, safe life for Angelic Daughter.
I’ll carry my memories of Mike, our ups and downs, and our eternal connection with me everywhere, but I don’t want his absence to define the rest of my life.
But what you want and what you get rarely match up. I will always be Mike’s widow, even if I ever find a new man. The miasma of widowhood surrounds me everywhere I go.
Fortunately, I’ve already met three terrific women, two widows and one divorcee, in my MeetUp group. These women lead vibrant, interesting lives, filled with friends and activity. I’m working on that.
Recently I’ve been bingeing Chicago Fire. When it first premiered, I watched 15 minutes or so, and the moment there was a shirtless shot of the impossibly pretty Taylor Kinney (as Lieutenant Kelley Severide), I clicked away.
“There’s no Chicago firefighters who look like this Hollywood pretty boy!” I thought. “He probably spends all his time in the gym or on the beach! He’d never get through a Chicago winter! Hell, he can’t even do a Chicago accent!”
Several weeks ago, I decided to give Chicago Fire another shot. It’s fun trying to guess what street they’re really on when the nonexistent address comes over their dispatch loudspeaker. I get a kick out of picking out Chicago actors and improvisors I recognize from back in the day when they appear in small supporting roles.
This time around, I found the beefcake shots of Mr. Kinney more pleasing than annoying, and his Midwestern, rather than full-blown west/soutwest/sout side Chicago accent, acceptable.
David Eigenberg as Christopher Hermann, has that west side accent down – his recitation of the line “dats da Stanley Cahp! was perfect. He sounded just like my late father in law.
And Mr. Kinney has proven himself to be a damn good actor.
SPOILER ALERT: If you’re bingeing this series, and haven’t gotten to season 8 yet, there’s a major spoiler coming next:
The season 8 opener included the loss of a character who had been a core member of the Firehouse 51 “family” since the beginning. The cast did an exceptional job of portraying the paralyzing grief that hit the firefighters and paramedics in the wake of that loss.
I found myself crying, a darn good cry, if not a full-on snot-fest sob session. It’s been a long time since I’ve let loose like that. But it wasn’t just the loss of the character that got me: it was the cohesiveness of the firefighting “family” left behind.
When Mike died, his strained (ok, nonexistent) relationship with my family, and our total estrangement from his, meant I handled all the necessary arrangements alone. I went alone to the crematorium to sign papers. I had to go by myself to view Mike’s body. I bought the plot and chose the headstone with no input from anyone else. I received the marbled box of ashes, and sat with just three other people at the graveside the day we buried it. Two of those people were pastors (the hospice chaplain and my church’s pastor) and the other was Angelic Daughter.
So despite the stuffed animals, condolence cards, and flower arrangements that came in the immediate wake of Mike’s death, Angelic Daughter and I have been very much alone through our deepest periods of grief. Our pastors (a husband and wife team) were there to help me help Angelic Daughter try to comprehend what had happened, but there wasn’t anyone in our lives to share grief, memories, and stories. After the first week or two, no one stopped by or called to see how we were doing. No one dragged me out of the house for a meal, a drink, or a movie. No one came over just to talk. No one ever does that.
So I think part of what set me bawling at a TV show character’s demise was the depiction of a tight knit, we-all-have-each-other’s-backs community who stick together during good times and tough times of breakups and bereavement.
I want something like that, before I die. Widowhood 2.0 will be less about carrying grief and more about finding community for Angelic Daughter, and for me. Wish us luck.
Wiping my tears and determined to keep moving ahead, I remain,
6 thoughts on “Widowhood 2.0”
Yes, Yes, Yes! I wish this for you with all my heart. May it be so. The rest of your life awaits you.
Thanks so much, Judy! Great to know you’ve got my back on this!
oh, thanks for the good wishes! So good to know you’ve got my back!
Wow…seven years of widowhood, and the pain is still strong. I recently watched an old interview with the late Nora Ephron, and she was asked if her writing helped bring catharsis from several low points in her life. She said, No. Doing things helped her achieve the catharsis, which then enabled her to write about those things. I hope you have a few friends who can help you make brand new memories to soften the pain of the old memories. I hope you and your Angelic daughter will find joy. Good luck.
Thanks, Earl. It means a lot to me that you took the time to read and respond. I’m working on building a post-pandemic, non-widow-forward friend-filled life for us–one day at a time!
If/when you build your own family, you get to pick the members!