Famous words whenever we meet someone new, right?
Sometimes I now feel like I have that “scarlet letter” emblazoned on my forehead. “W.” And people either want to avoid you because of this or they tell you the same thing over and over again…
“How are you?”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.”
“Let me know if there is anything I can do.”
“If you need anything, just call.”
“You know I’m here for you.”
Back to the big “W”…
Steve passed away on May 1, 2021 at the age of 67.
My youngest sibling and baby brother, Glenn, passed away on May 23, 2021 at the age of 51.
Steve died of cancer and my brother died of a life long battle of pain and anguish brought on by osteomyelitis as an infant.
I thought I handled Steve’s funeral well, but our kids had my back the whole time. They saw to it that things ran smoothly and I didn’t have to deal with any hiccups. One of my wishes was that when he passed away at home, I wanted the hearse to back up to our front door rather than have him ushered down our long sidewalk. I felt it was a very private time and wanted as little people driving down the street to witness this as possible. I didn’t want it to be a spectacle – I didn’t want anyone to see me wearing that “W.”
At my brother’s funeral, 3 weeks after my husband’s, my siblings and I were receiving guests and multiple times I heard them ask my family, “Is that the sister that just lost her husband?”
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that. I can’t tell you how I felt about it… the only thing I can tell you that is that I heard it.
How could I possibly process two deaths in three weeks of two men that I loved and cared deeply about? The relationships were different, but they were solid and loving.
My dentist recently retired and forwarded our records to another dentist. Well, I had an abscess that I knew would need a root canal, but it was my first visit to the new office so I had to fill out the paperwork with all of my personal information, for the first time in a long time. It asked for the usual… date of birth, address, insurance, health history, who to notify in an emergency. And then… drum roll please… I had to provide my relationship status: Single, married, divorced… WIDOWED. Wow!
Does my status really matter? Why? I gave them my next contact person, so that should have been sufficient. Was I allowed to not check a box? Am I subscribing to a date app? Why?
Apparently the new dentist doesn’t really read the paperwork, he comes in, is very cordial, telling his brief family status; his kids are living out of state, married, things that he likes… blah blah blah. Then he asks me… are you married? I really want to say yes, cause I truly still am at least in my heart, but thinking about the questionnaire, I respond with “WIDOW.” He said… “Oh…” as if surprised! Why ask the question if you know what the basic options and responses could be!? Then he goes on to ask about kids and so forth. When he left the room, his assistant gave me some tissues cause my immediate response prompted tears.
As I stated in a previous post… I cry for no reason… don’t need a reason to cry… keep the tissues close by.
And as I was scheduling my root canal, I continued to cry. I’m not sure they knew why. Was it because I had no one to come home to and give the report to? In the past, Steve and I would have a conversation about how things went at the dentist, or the doctor, or running an errand, but now… who cares? I’m not sure why, myself. Sometimes you can’t turn the fountain off. They probably thought I was a nut case.
I’ll probably apologize for crying the next time I’m in the office, just like I did when I was at our garage and apologized to our mechanic for the same thing. And the next time I cry somewhere in public, I’m sure I’ll still feel the need to apologize…
Tomorrow I’m going to a retirement party, and I’m sure all the comments will be the same or similar as the same ones I’ve been getting since Steve passed. I won’t stay long, because I won’t have my wingman and I’ll have to mingle on my own… trying not to be a Debbie downer. Trying not to cry. Trying not to make myself stand out or turn into a spectacle.
But, hello, I am a widow. My grief is very real.