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A few days ago I was looking at TVs in Best Buy with my brother. A woman approached us and started asking questions about whether these particular models get internet and how that works. We weren’t either of us wearing khaki pants and a blue polo shirt, and we didn’t have answers for any of her questions, and anyway she seemed a little “off”… and I was just wondering how to get rid of her politely when she said the magic words.

“My husband died and I don’t know how to do any of this stuff.”

I told her that I was sorry and that I understand how that is, since I lost my husband too. “How long has it been?” I asked. “Eight weeks,” she said. The crazy eyes and the body odor suddenly made sense. I think I was showering regularly by the time I got to week eight, but I sure as hell wasn’t sane. When she told me they’d been married for 31 years, it made even more sense. I was lost without my husband after only six years together, stumbling around in a fog of grief for many, many months. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose someone you’ve spent more than half your life with.

We stood there in the home theater section of Best Buy and shared our experiences as widows. She told me that she can’t imagine ever being physical with another man, and I related that I couldn’t even stand to have my male friends or family members hug me for a few weeks after my husband died. Even the slightest physical touch from a man was a painful reminder that my beloved husband would never touch me again. “Are you dating now?” she asked me. “Is that man your boyfriend?” I laughed out loud. “No! That’s my brother. But I have started dating again, just in the last year. It takes time, but it gets easier.”

When we said goodbye, she told me how good it felt to talk to someone who gets it, someone who’s been where she is. I told her what a tremendous help my grief support group was in my first year of widowhood and referred her to the hospital that hosts them. I hope she gets some support. I hope it helps. She’s got a long hard road ahead of her, even with the best support system in the world. But I’m living proof that you can make it far enough down that road to where you can laugh again, where your eyes get back their sparkle and you’ve got a spring in your step… where making love with someone new is no longer unfathomable and falling in love again is a real possibility. And damn, that feels good.

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