My early twenty’s seemed to prove a perfect blue-print already laid out for me and my life: wife, step-mom, mom, and teacher. I had married the love of my life, found someone better than I even imagined I deserved to spend the rest of my life with, and vowed that life with him. In fact, it was the vows of “In sickness and in health, until death do us part,” that I remember the most vividly. The memory of mouthing those words as I looked into my husband’s eyes, was the moment I could see him, and me, as an old couple sitting on our front porch swing, enjoying the lake view and sunset in front of us. I could see us, enjoying being “us.”
What I didn’t see was the sickness in less than a year ravage my groom’s body. I didn’t see him screaming out in pain, begging me with his eyes to fix the pain, and the cancer. I most certainly did not see myself seven-months pregnant begging doctors in multiple hospitals to cure his cancer and to promise me my husband would be there to watch our children grow-up through their childhood. I never imagined a possibility of living in hospital floors for weeks-on-end, entertaining an infant while soothing my best friend in a hospital bed. But, most possibly, the worst nightmare I never thought possible was nursing our son at his Daddy’s funeral, with our daughter curled up next to me, sobbing as we prepared to say goodbye to the man that created our family. And the nightmare of the future without him as my husband and best friend, and his children’s Dad has never been so real, as it has been the past two years without him.
My future and widowhood was never even in my most distant recollection of a possibility. Moreover, separately they were two complete different realities. Widowhood was elderly women who sat on their front porch, and their grown children came to check on them. My future life was happy, full of life and hopes and dreams to accomplish. They were family vacations at the beach, birthday parties with the kids’ friends swarming our house, they were spontaneous weekend road trips, and family pictures. And yet, I still am not quite sure how these two different worlds collided so quickly. Most shocking, is that these two different worlds look nothing like I envisioned, all wrapped together.
I still have yet to figure out what my life is supposed to look like in my future. I once knew, but that was changed entirely when Joe joined the good Army above. At twenty-eight years old, I often wonder if being a widow is what is left for my life. I wonder if Joe’s love will carry me through, until he meets me at the gates with the King who gave us both eternal life. I wonder what my life will be like when Porter evolves into a great young man, like his Dad and leaves our home to pursue his own dreams. I wonder what I am supposed to do to attempt to map out my future from this point on.
Although the given advice from many is that Joe would still want me to live and love, there is no one more certain of that, than myself. It’s deeper than that though; to retrain your brain, your longings, wantings, desires, dreams. To have to start over and envision a different life–but one that, really, you don’t desire at all. The life you desired is over, and you have to come to accept that.
I didn’t choose widowhood. It chose me. It is a club that I never wanted, or dreamt, I would be apart of. I wish I could check my membership card from the moment it took my breath away on October 26, 2014. I cannot, however. Until then, I do know that widowhood looks like how I make it–not anyone else. The same is true for each and every one of us widows living without our spouse. We literally do take a moment at a time, walking through a haze of grief, unsure if our next step is right or wrong. We just do it. I am no expert on grief, or widowhood, but walking this road for the past two years has proven tougher than ever imaginable. Reaching out, loving each other, and connecting with others who do not want to be in this club, proves to be the only true understanding in this world.
To you other members in this club: I am sorry you belong to this club too. Don’t let your membership define your future. I am attempting to do the same.