Widow's Walk (To The Mailbox)
"Widow.” I refuse to say it out loud. It makes me nauseous. I still can't get used to the title. I don't want the title. I didn't earn the title. The title I earned was "wife." And I don't like being referred to as "single" either. Did somebody revoke my marriage license and not tell me?
My husband died six months ago. He was a well-known and respected composer and musician. We worked together for over 18 years and were married nearly 10 of those years.
His death was a total shock to both of us. It was unexpected, yet somewhat expected, but that's a longer, more involved story. I am still his wife, so in my mind I'm still married. Why can't I just stick with that moniker? I feel comfortable there.
Recently, I had to fill out forms at a doctor's office. I was confronted head on with what I'd been avoiding. "Status: Single, Married, Widow?” Three empty boxes and I had to check one. I pondered not answering the question at all, but being a Type A completion freak I couldn't walk away. Single? Hell no! There are so many implications that go along with that. I shuddered. Single implies that I'm open to a relationship. I am not. Widow? I can't bear to make my mark there either. Married? Yes, that's the box for me. But I know that my definition of marriage, and that of the creators of this document, probably don’t synch up. And I don't want to be caught in a lie. So I checked the box beside the word WIDOW. Ouch! It makes me angry that I was forced into this choice at all. Why do I feel that being honest on this form is not being honest to myself? I'm a married woman whose husband has died. We were close. We lived together, we toured together, we built a business together and we built our lives around each other. You can imagine the hole that was left in my life. Make no mistake–I know I'm not the only person to suffer grief, but I'm the only person to suffer my grief. And it's deep, and wicked and painful and having to be labeled a widow as of 12:31 pm January 15, 2016 just sucks.
However, as one who, to the annoyance of others, always sees the bright side, I've tried to see what that bright side might be, "The Bright Side of Being Labeled a Widow." I suppose it would be bright to receive “widow benefits.” Or if I was introduced at a dinner party as the Widow Huttlinger I might receive some degree of understanding if I'm mopey or non-engaged with fellow guests. Or if you are someone that enjoys sympathy or pity, the title could come in handy. (If you think of any other positives, please enlighten me.)
A distinct negative of the label "widow" is the horrid junk mail I now receive. Crappy form letters addressed to me assuming that, now that I'm a widow, I must need to sell my house–that I'm destitute without my husband and must want to get this behemoth of a mortgage out from around my wrinkled neck and they’d be happy to help me with that. Arghhhh. My husband Pete had a fun way of dealing with junk mail. He would take a handful of the useless sales pieces, fold them, and cram them into the envelope of another solicitor. He'd re-seal it and mark it RETURN TO SENDER and put it back into the mailbox. The postal service at this point was now obligated to mail it back to the originator at no charge to us. So, in honor of my dear, gifted Pete, I take the letters I've received from these horrid solicitors and put them back in the envelope, mark them RETURN TO SENDER, walk them back out to my mailbox and joyfully raise the red flag. But not before inscribing a message not the enclosed paperwork. "Go F*%k yourselves…I'm not a widow!"
If you're in a situation of grief, what events have triggered you in the way the mail triggered me? I'd love to read your comments.